Houdini Socks

Houdini socks
Houdini socks

At the 2008 Island Retreat, Cat Bordhi presented her new sockitecture – The Houdini Sock. Please hie thee over to the fall 2008 edition of Twist Collective, where you will find the basic pattern.

Cat once again proves her knack for thinking way outside the knitting box and coming up with unusual and inventive ways of approaching something that most of us thought had been all thought out hundreds of years ago. The basic idea behind the Houdini Sock is that you start at the toe, knit a foot, knit a heel and bind off. You then have what Cat calls a footprint – a vaguely foot-shaped, flat tube, closed on both ends. There’s no place to get your foot into it. But it looks cool and you can knit a few or a dozen and pile them in a basket or some such (if you don’t have a fiber-eating feline sharing your living quarters). Then, when you want a sock, you decide which side is the instep side and thread your needles through two rows (one row apart), right about where you want your leg to go. And then you snip the yarn and unravel a hole and knit a leg. Done.

Although Cat argues with me about this, I can’t help but think of it as an afterthought leg. I know it isn’t really, because there’s no waste yarn involved. But, if you’ve ever knit an afterthought heel, it’s kind of the same idea.

For my socks, I knit a star toe, followed by a foot, with a star heel on the end. I don’t think I’ve ever seen socks with a star heel before, but it looks pretty cool.

I know this is a lame shot — off-white socks with tan pants against bleached wood floor. Beige. But work with me here, gentle reader. I wanted to show them on my real feet (as opposed to my fake feet) so you can see that these socks actually fit. They fit quite well. In fact, I admit to being surprised at just how well they do fit.

My socks are not quite like the ones in Twist Collective. Mine are intended as house or bed socks, so I put heel stitch on the underside of the arch – it feels wonderful. There are some modifications to fit the socks to my rather skinny foot, and some experimenting (following Cat’s directions) with doing a higher arch. I knit both footprints at the same time, and also knit both legs at the same time, and I am pleased to report that this method lends itself to two-at-a-time knitting with no problem.

It appears that the Houdini Sock and all its magic will be the subject of Cat’s next book, where she will explain all of the modifications that are possible. But, while we impatiently await publication… if the idea of sort of steeking your socks appeals, give it a go!

(OK. I know it isn’t really steeking because you only snip one stitch. But you’re still making a hole in a perfectly good piece of fabric.)

These are great, by the way, for kicking around the house. I have mine on even as we speak and my tootsies are warm and comfy and feel very pampered.

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: Chameleon Colorworks Evolution – 100% Merino Optim® stretched wool, 2 oz (57 gr), 122 yd (111 m) – colorway Mourning Dove – 2 skeins
  • Needles: two circulars assembled from my Denise kit (which I’ve supplemented with a few extras), US#5 (3.75mm).
  • Pattern: Houdini socks by Cat Bordhi, basic pattern from Twist Collective with various modifications to make it fit my particular foot.
  • Stockinette foot, 2×2 ribbed leg, crochet bind-off

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