Dobby Socks

At long last! Here is the promised pattern for the Dobby socks. If you missed the story and the tips behind the crazy steeking, you can catch up here. Now that the pattern is written, I can get these in the mail in time for my sister’s birthday…if two years late.

Harry Potter Socks_5_sm

Dobby Socks

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you might also like Cho’s Magical Gryffindor Gloves.

If you want to be the first to know when I publish new free patterns, sign up for my email newsletter.

The First Real Rip

I don’t know what it is with me and socks, but man! I am not having an easy time with the sizing this year. I made my husband a pair of super-soft alpaca socks for Christmas, and given the fact that I had ten thousand other things to make, I decided to go with a crazy simple stockinette sock.

I was following a pattern for the heel and the toe, since I still haven’t quite mastered the geometry of (a) how far across you work for the first and second rows of the heel turn and (b) when to start decreasing for the toe relative to your gauge.

Apparently the designer who worked up this pattern was still struggling with that herself, because even though I measured my gauge perfectly and the size she indicated for the pattern would have fit my husband, the first sock came out about 4cm short in the toe.


Trying not to despair that I hadn’t measured it before grafting the toe and weaving in the ends, I made the other sock and used the length of the decrease from the first sock to figure out when I should start decreasing. You can see in the top sock what I was aiming for.

Alpaca yarn is not cheap, and this was a no-dye-lot handspun from a local craft fair, so buying more and making extra socks to match these two was not an option. (Believe me, I considered it.) So I had to do something that I do not do: rip back.

Never before have I trusted myself to set the needles up at an earlier point in the work. Never. I have tinked a fair bit, to be sure, but if I’m more than two rows beyond the mistake, I generally hold with the Amish philosophy of, “Well, there’s the evidence that no human can create perfect work.”

Long story short: I’m going to have to do a photo tutorial on ripping back, because once you do it the first time and realize it’s not that scary, it’s incredibly liberating. Sock number one will no longer cramp my husband’s style, and I…I can rip back.

What the Gauge?

Alright, pro-knitters: explain something to me. I’m working on a pair of socks. I was none too sure of the sizing when I started, so I was careful to knit, wash, and block a gauge swatch. I went a step further and researched sock sizing online to make sure my gauge times the pattern directions would make a large enough sock for the foot in question. The pattern was designed for elf feet, I think, so I increased it by a dozen stitches and carried on. I was very proud of myself for taking the time and care to sort all this out, even though it meant the headache of doing the math myself to turn the heel and work the gusset pick-ups and decreases. I measured the sock carefully as I went to make sure I would have enough length. And yet…the sock is too small. It’s not just a little too small…it’s stupidly too small. As in, “How could anyone ever have thought that the math would work out to a large enough sock?”

I have double and triple-checked my math and my mind is still blown. This is not the first pair of socks I’ve made and curse it, I do know how to make socks that fit. So can someone please explain to me how I ended up with a sock that is easily three sizes smaller than what I was aiming for?

Also…if you know anyone with size 6 feet who likes pink and purple, I have a pair of socks available.


Utterly Baffled and Feeling Like a N00b

P.S. Don’t judge me. I don’t rip back entire socks, and I don’t waste hours of work, so yes…I am knitting a second too-small sock with no idea who I should give the pair to. Admit it, you’ve done crazier things, right?

P.P.S. But toeless socks, those are a thing, yeah?


I finished the socks and mailed them off to a friend with small feet who has been known to go by the name “Fun Socks Girl.” For once I had the self-control to send a present without warning (I am notoriously bad at keeping presents I’ve made a secret) and it arrived on her doorstep at a moment when she was in a need of a small happiness boost. They fit her perfectly, so at least I got the proportions right and Mission: Knitting Kninja Joy was accomplished.