Knitting Blog: Reversing Leaves Socks

Like many people, I face a constant challenge trying to find ideas for appropriate, thoughtful gifts for my parents. In my case, I like to add “useful” to the criteria, as all of my parents are surrounded by beautiful objects. I don’t think they need another gorgeous vase, and there is no room on the walls for another picture. While once in a while I come up with an idea on my own, more and more I simply ask them what they would like.

Last year, I asked my stepmom and dad what they wanted for Christmas. They answered that they wanted two things. First, they did not think an oak tree growing very near to their house was healthy, and they asked us to take that tree down and cut it up for firewood. This is a particular skill of my husband’s - R. is at one with his tool when he is wielding a chainsaw. My stepmom also asked me to knit her a pair of socks. She asked for black socks that would be taller than the usual 7” cuff, because she likes socks as tall as possible. Other than that, I had discretion to pick the pattern.

With her specifications, I decided that the socks needed to be knit from the toe up, so that I could knit the cuffs until I ran out of yarn. When you knit from the cuff down, you never know until the very end if you will have enough yarn to finish the sock, or if you could have made the cuff just a little bit longer. The other thing I decided was that the socks needed to have a plain foot, with all of the patterning restricted to the cuff. All patterns use more yarn than plain knitting, and I wanted every inch of yarn I could get for the cuff.

Once again, Cat Bordhi came to my rescue. I found the perfect socks in The Knitter’s Book of Wool - the Reversing Leaves Sock. This is a pattern for a short sock, but I saw the potential for a tall cuff. It was easy to make it taller - I just tucked a few increases into the pattern at regular intervals as the cuff got longer, to allow for the fact that the calf gets bigger as it goes from ankle to knee. As with all of Cat’s patterns, this pattern is exquisitely engineered. She works the extra fabric needed where foot meets leg into the patterning over the top of the foot at the ankle, then magically whisks all that extra fabric away so that the sock fits snugly up the leg. She also includes a reinforced heel, not a common feature of toe-up socks.

I also threw in an extra challenge for myself - I knit both socks at the same time on one long circular needle, using the Magic Loop method. I had to deal with a few fiddly bits, but it worked well, and I enjoyed being able to finish both socks at the same time.

We cut down the tree at Thanksgiving, and blocked up part of it before rain settled in. Here’s the tree going down, shot from a bathroom window:

And one pallet of stacked wood next to the trunk.

During our visit earlier this month, we finished cutting up, splitting, and stacking the firewood. My folks now have two large and one small pallet of prime firewood right near their house.

I finished the socks on May 31 as we waited in line for seating for our daughter’s graduation from college. I gave them to my stepmom immediately after trimming off the yarn ends. She modeled them for me earlier this month when we visited. She loves them - they fit perfectly and they are tall enough to make her happy. Perfect Birkenstock socks!

Now I need to think up ideas for this coming Christmas...


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