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Women's Fair Isle Sock


Fair Isle Sock Modeled

The Fair Isle Sock is a warm and comfy choice.

(c) Sarah E. White, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Quick Color:

Adding an easy Fair Isle or stranded knitting checkerboard pattern to the leg of a basic Stockinette Stitch sock is any easy way to add color without a lot of extra work.

Alternating colors every two stitches and switching colors every two rows makes the simple pattern, and using a multicolored yarn as one of the yarns adds even more color and personality. The colored yarn is then used by itself on the heel and the toe, bringing more color to what's otherwise a very plain sock.

It's still quite quick to knit (especially the leg, because watching the checkerboard design materialize is a lot of fun) but doesn't at all give the impression of being a good project for a relatively new sock knitter.


  • one ball each of Red Heart Heart and Sole in Ivory and Spring Stripe, or colors of your choice, or about 215 yards of your chosen main color and 180 yards of your chosen accent color in superfine yarn
  • one set of US 2 double-pointed knitting needles (or needles you prefer to knit socks)
  • scissors and yarn needle


32 stitches and 43 rows per 4 inches (8 stitches and 10.75 rows per inch) on size 2 US needles.


Finished sock is about 8 inches around the foot unstretched with a 9-inch foot. To fit an average woman.

Knitting the Sock Leg:

  1. Cast on 64 stitches in your main color onto one needle and distribute evenly on three needles. Join in round, being careful not to twist stitches.
  2. Work in knit 2, purl 2 ribbing 1 inch.
  3. Next round, *knit 2 stitches in main color, 2 in accent color. Repeat from * around. Repeat this round.
  4. Next round, *knit 2 in accent color, knit 2 in main color. Repeat form * around. Repeat this round.
  5. Repeat these 4 rounds until leg is 5 inches from cast on edge, or length of your choice (much longer will require more yarn, however).

The Heel:

Cut the main color yarn and work the heel just with the accent color. Slide 32 stitches onto one needle for the heel and the other 32 stitches onto one needle for the leg.

Work heel flap as follows:

Row 1: *slip 1, knit 1. Repeat form * across.

Row 2: slip 1, purl the remaining stitches.

Repeat these 2 rows until flap is about 32 rows long, ending with a wrong side row.

Turning the Heel:

Next row, knit 17, slip, slip, knit, knit 1, turn the work.

Next row, slip 1, purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn.

Next, slip 1, knit 6, ssk, knit 1, turn.

Slip 1, purl 7, p2tog, purl 1, turn.

Continue as established, working the decrease over the gap between the worked and unworked stitches, until all stitches have been worked.

The final row of the heel should be slip 1, purl 12, p2tog. 14 stitches remain.

Working the Foot:

Cut the accent yarn and begin working again with the main color alone. Knit across the heel stitches, then with a new needle pick up and knit 18 stitches along the heel flap. Knit across the leg stitches, then pick up 18 stitches on the other side of the heel flap with another empty needle. Work 7 stitches from the heel onto this needle as well and slide other 7 other needle with first set of heel stitches. The middle of the heel is now the end of the round.

Shape gusset as follows:

Round 1: Knit to within 3 stitches of end of first needle, knit 2 together, knit 1. Knit across leg stitches with no decreases, then knit 1, ssk, knit remaining stitches on needle 3.

Round 2: Knit straight all the way around.

Repeat these 2 rounds until 64 stitches remain, then work even until foot measures about 7 inches from back of heel or length of your choice. Toe takes 2 inches to work.

Working the Toe:

Cut the main color yarn and switch back to the accent color. Work the toe shaping as follows:

Round 1: Needle 1, knit to 3 stitches to end, k2tog, knit 1. Needle 2, knit 1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches from end, k2tog, knit 1. Needle 3, knit 1, ssk, knit to end.

Round 2: Knit straight.

Repeat these 2 rounds until 32 stitches remain, then work just round 1 until 16 stitches remain. Arrange stitches on 2 needles and graft the toe.

Weave in ends. Make a second sock the same way.

Pattern Tips:

The stranded knitting portion of the sock can get really tight if you aren't careful about keeping your floats loose but not too loose. You might want to take the stitches off the needles (use a piece of waste yarn to hold them) and try the sock on after knitting a couple of inches to make sure it fits over your ankle.

The pattern can be worked with a solid color accent yarn instead if desired. If you go with the multi, you can either try to find the same place in the yarn where you started knitting on the first sock to start the second sock or just start where you are, which will give you harmonious socks that won't perfectly match.

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