In this article, I’ll tell you about the Horta socks, the perfect beginner pattern.
This is a pair of white ankle socks, knitted from the toe with no short rows or complicated heel construction so a perfect pattern for sock beginners.
But to make sure you don’t get bored, this pattern is embellished with a little Kogin embroidery!
The pattern is available here in the ChristalLk shop and on Ravelry.
Horta Socks, the essential embroidered ankle socks
1. The story of Horta socks
If you watched episode 32 of Ce n’est pas un Podcast (in French), you know that I went through a big blank page syndrome phase.
And to get back into design, I started knitting socks again, first an interpretation of Pullpy socks and then a pair of ankle socks.
Because if there is one wardrobe essential, it is white ankle socks.
But I didn’t want to leave these socks totally white, I wanted to add a little touch of craziness to them.
So I decided to add some Kogin embroidery that I discovered a few months ago.
2. The construction of Horta socks
For a long time, I suffered from the second sock syndrome, the famous syndrome that prevents you from knitting a second identical piece and therefore a second sock.
I tried many constructions,cuff down, toe up, SR heel, flap heel, Dutch heel but nothing could cure me of this syndrome.
And then, I took the construction that I had already used for the Space Socks and reworked it to offer more possibilities to wide or thin feet or wide instep when creating the Pym and Pullpy collection.
And miracle, the syndrome is gone!
The Horta socks are built in the same way as the Pym & Pullpy socks with a few small details that differ. They are therefore socks for beginners!
They are toe up built.
3. Details of the construction of the Horta socks
I always use the same cast-on for the toe up construction. I know some people will prefer Judy’s Magic Cast-On, but after many tries, I prefer the Turkish Cast-On.
It doesn’t leave any extra thickness and therefore the junction between the front and the back of the toe is perfect.
Next, you will knit a tube that ends with a few increases to form the gusset and this up to the heel.
The heel is constructed after you knit all the sock, so at this stage you will put the stitches on hold on a scrap yarn that you will remove when you have finished the hem and pick up the stitches to form the heel.
The leg is worked in the round like the foot of the sock and is finished here with a reversible jersey ribbing that you will close with grafting.
The heel is finished off with decreases and finished like the ribbing, i.e. with grafting.
4. The Kogin embroidery that decorates the Horta socks
As I told you in the introduction to this pattern, I wanted to introduce a little embroidery to give the socks a slight touch of madness.
My choice was Kogin embroidery, which I discovered several months ago.
I’m not going to give you a detailed history of Kogin embroidery because there is a lot to say but here are a few words to introduce you to this technique.
Kogin is a Japanese embroidery technique derived from sashiko. It is actually known as Sashi Kogin, Koginzashi (こぎん刺し) and Tsugaru Kogin. It is a kind of counted-thread embroidery originating from the northern region of Honshu and Kyushu Islands (Honshu called before Hondo is the Japanese largest island).
The name Kogin comes from Koginu or Kogino which is a short jacket sewn in the back dyed with indigo and decorated with linen thread embroidery.
The Kogin embroidery gave this relatively light jacket strength but also provided warmth by giving it density. It is even said that the white embroidered patterns gave a delicate touch to the embroidered pieces because they reminded of the snow which is common in the north of Japan.
5. How to embroider Horta socks
How to read a kogin embroidery chart?
The diagram is represented as a grid. Each square represents a stitch (in this case a V).
The horizontal lines represent the stitches you create.
In the case of Kogin embroidery on knitwear, you never stitch in the V of a stitch but between 2 stitches and in the holes between the threads.
How to proceed ?
The Kogin is worked horizontally in rows starting at the center of the pattern and working from the center up and then from the center down (or vice versa).
The stitches are worked from right to left throughout the row (you can of course work them from left to right if you are left handed).
Stitch your needle at the marker point, from the back to the front of your work.
Leave a long tail to embroider the other part of the pattern.
Start embroidering on the left side, counting the stitches and following the pattern until you reach the end of the pattern.
When you are halfway through the design, remove the thread from the needle.
Then turn your work 180 degrees, thread the long tail of yarn you left standing in the middle to make the other half of the pattern.
Once the chart is complete, secure by weaving in the ends and cut your yarn.
5. Where to find the Horta socks pattern
6. The yarn and material needed to knit these socks
The suggested yarn is the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply (75% wool of which 35% BFL, 25% nylon) 400 sts / 100 g Milk Bottle about 200 [220, 240, 275] sts (kits are available here)
And to embroider, I used Peregrine (100% East-A-Wool Merino) 400 m / 100 g about 10 m Lichen colors
The material required is as follows:
- 30 cm (12’’) 2.5 mm (US1½) circ needle (or 5 DPN’s)
- 30 cm (12’’) 2.75 mm (US2) circ needle (or 5 DPN’s)
- Third needle in the same size for grafting
- Tapestry needle to weave the ends and for the embroidery
- 2 Stitch Markers
- Scrap yarn for the heel
7. Why Horta?
Finally, why did I name it Horta?
I am a big fan of Art Nouveau and especially of the Belgian master Victor Horta. I absolutely wanted to embroider a gingko leaf on the back of the sock, the gingko is an emblematic tree in Japan but it is also a tree that is found a lot in Brussels and especially a lot in the typical architecture of Victor Horta.
Victor Horta was nourished by many influences, among which three stand out: the work of Viollet-le-Duc, Japanese art and the Arts and Crafts movement.
A visit to his studio in Ixelles is enough to see how Japanese art and its relationship to nature influenced his art and the dynamic curves specific to Art Nouveau.
I hope you fall in love with these socks and that this post makes you want to knit them.
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See you soon,