Ugly Seamless Argyle Socks

I had heard that doing intarsia in the round was difficult. However, perhaps in keeping with my usual knitting attitude, I said to myself, “what’s the big deal?” (even though I had never done any flat intarsia). Well, now that I’ve experimented, I would say that I find intarsia in the round to be difficult. (Though perhaps no more difficult than the flat case, since I still haven’t tried that…)

I had knitted some striped, elbow-length fingerless gloves as a gift for my brother last year, and I had left over yarn in several colors. One night, in a fit of hysteria, I decided that knitting bright green and golden-rod argyle socks with purple duplicate stitch X’s would be hilarious. Apparently, hand knit argyles sock legs are often knit flat and then seamed up the back.  I don’t want any seams on my socks unless I absolutely have to.

So, I cast on right away for a toe up sock, googled seamless argyles, and read about intarsia in the round while I was knitting the toe and foot. I knit these in Plymouth Galway worsted 100% wool on US#4 dpn’s.

I used the same toe-up Silver’s Sock Class method that I had used for my Red Sox Sox, again doing the toe and heel in the contrasting color (goldenrod here). Then when I got past the heel, the tubular argyle intarsia fun began.

The site I found to be most useful happened to be the first hit in my google search: this page by the Knitting Fiend. (Good job Google). She explains it very well, so I won’t replicate the description here in any great detail.

Briefly, the method is basically to knit triangles on the front and back of the sock leg by decreasing up to a point. Then one fills in the triangular valleys left on the left and right side of the sock by picking up stitches, but there are some wrapped stitches to prevent gapping at the interface between the colors. Once the valleys are filled in, one keeps going, making another set of up-pointing, mountain-like triangles in the second color. Then you can go back and fill in the new, front-and-back valleys in the first color. Repeat until you’ve got all the argyle sock leg you want.

My color interfaces are obviously not perfect, which makes it hard to motivate myself to finish the second sock, which is now more than half done, but eh, it’s a learning experience, and I learned several new techniques in this project. The socks will keep my feet warm anyway.

The most difficult parts are the points where four triangles meet.  I think they’ll look better with the overchecking duplicate stitch X’s, which I’m planning to do in purple or red. Mardi gras, or Karma Kameleon? What do you think?

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6 Comments on “Ugly Seamless Argyle Socks”

  1. Dori Says:

    I just found your sock as I was considering following the Knitting Fiend for argyle in the round. It sounds incredibly difficult. Was it? Going to practice before I really try it.

    Thanks for the post!


  2. bpatricksullivan Says:

    Thanks for reading, Dori.
    Knitting Fiend’s instructions are great. The technique is a bit tricky, but not really incredibly difficult. Good luck, and let me know how it goes and if you post some pics of the socks online.


  3. jean Says:

    I don’t think they are ugly–they are my college colors, green and gold.

  4. matt Says:

    can i have a pair

  5. Plymouth Yarn Galway Worsted Mountain

    […] g Fiend for argyle in the round. It sounds incredibly difficult. Was it? Going t […]

    • bpatricksullivan Says:

      It was on the harder side of things I’ve knitted in that it was hard to get good tight joints between the colors, especially at the x-point between the green and yellow. It’s a great knitting exercise though. I’d like to try it again using two long circular needles instead of five double points.

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