Festivus For The Rest Of Us

The holiday season is upon us. From Thanksgiving through Epiphany, the period from late November through early January is filled with all sorts of holiday festivities. Christmas, Human Light, Kwaanza, Channukuh, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Twelfth Night, and best of all, college football bowl games—yes, the holidays are in full swing.

All of my holiday shopping is done, and I don’t do any holiday baking anymore. If I bake it, I eat it. And, trust me, I don’t need to be eating cookies and candy. My holiday knitting is also all done. I didn’t do much holiday knitting this year, but I did make two pairs of socks. The Froot Loop Socks I made are resting under cousin Vickie’s ginormous Christmas tree in Ohio. Unlike me, she can wait till Christmas to open packages. Me? I get a package in the mail, I open it. LOL

The other pair of socks, Christmas Lights Socks, were made especially for The Boy’s sock-worthy GF. They arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday. (Thank you, USPS.) The Christmas Lights Socks came into being because of the Steelers beaded squares I wrote about yesterday. While searching for just the perfect beads for the Steelers squares, I found myself totally unable to resist buying lots of beads in different colors and finishes.

“So, what am I going to do with all these beads?” I thought to myself. “Well, I could knit socks with beaded cuffs.”

For inspiration, I turned to Ravelry, the knitting world’s great enabler, and searched for patterns for socks with beads added to the cuffs. (Trust me. You don’t want to add beads to the instep.) There was one sock pattern that really jumped out at me. It is called Winter Frost Socks and the lovely pastel beads on a white sock make a very pleasing combination.

Winter Frost Socks

Winter Frost Socks

But the minute I looked at the picture, I saw bright red socks with green, gold, and silver beads that just screamed Christmas. And, lucky me, I just happened to have some bright red Socka sock yarn in my yarn stash; and in my bead stash I had silver-lined green beads, silver-lined yellow beads, and silver-lined crystal beads. Silver-lined beads really catch the light and sparkle, and I just knew this combination would make festive Christmas socks.

Christmas Lights

I made only a couple of changes to the pattern. First of all, I made the 2 x 2 ribbed cuff a little longer. I like a 2-inch cuff, so I knit 20 rounds of ribbing.

Second, I added a repeat to increase the number of stitches from 64 to 72, which means that I had to recalculate the number of beads I needed. Even for someone who is mathematically challenged, as I am, this wasn’t difficult. Each pattern repeat uses 3 beads, and I was doing 9 repeats: 9 x 3 = 27

And because of my wonky row gauge, I knew that I would need to knit the complete pattern 6 times in order to have a cuff that is long enough: 6 x 27 = 162.

So I strung 162 6/0 Miyuki seed beads, 81 of each color, in this order: 9 silver, 9 green, 9 gold. Repeat 5 more times.

The 6/0 beads are a little on the large size for fingering-weight wool, so they really stand out. If you want a look that is a little more subtle, size 8/0 beads would be the way to go.

Third, on the beaded section, I purled the stitch after adding the bead on round 7 instead of knitting it through the back loop. I found that when I knitted the stitch, the bead buried itself and disappeared from the front of the fabric. I realize that when the socks are worn, the cuff will stretch and that third bead will pop to the front, but I decided to purl the stitch and keep the bead to the fore even when the socks are not being worn.

Christmas Lights cuff

The Winter Frost Socks pattern, which is available as a free download on Ravelry, is very well written and easily adaptable. It can be knitted with or without beads. The lace stitch is a simple one, and both written and charted instructions are included. The sock is an easy knit, although the beads make it a little fiddly, especially if you want the colors to be in a specific order because then you have to be very careful when you string them. But it doesn’t require any special techniques–you just slide the bead into place and work the next stitch as usual.

I want to thank Brenda Lindsay of Owlsrook Designs for sharing this lovely sock design. I never cease to be amazed at how generous my fellow knitters are in making their designs available at low or no cost. Winter Frost Sock is a pattern worth paying for; the directions are detailed and cover 4.25 printed pages. But Brenda has made it available for free. Thank you, Brenda.

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