Okanogan Trail Socks
about the pattern
Tolt Yarn & Wool is this incredible LYS in Carnation, WA. If you're already familiar with it, you know what a special place it is. If you're not, head to their website to experience it at a distance or get there in person if you're close enough! This is the kind of shop that knitters make pilgrimages to. There's an incredible team of folks that make Tolt what it is, but the driver behind all of it is Anna Dianich. I've worked with her and with Tolt since before they opened, so when I she requested a new sock design for their Camp Tolt series, I immediately said yes.
Anna wanted true hiking socks. She asked for durability and comfort so these socks would be perfect for exploring trails wherever we may be, and if you've been following me a bit, you know this is right up my alley. I designed these with Anna and Tolt in mind the whole time, thinking about how they would fit in with the Tolt vibe and aesthetic, and I'm so pleased with the result. The photos are courtesy Tolt Yarn & Wool.
You can get the pattern and the yarn at Tolt (on the web and in their brick & mortar shop), here on this website, or on Ravelry.
In Praise of Hand Knit Socks for the Outdoors
Before I talk about the Okanogan socks in particular, I have to take a minute to delight in the perfection of hand knit socks for outdoor adventures. Not only are they special and comfortable and stylish, but unlike store bought socks, hand knit ones can be repaired. Your regular Merino outdoor store socks might provide the same level of comfort and temperature regulation, but when they inevitably develop a hole, there isn't much you can do besides throw them away and buy a new pair. Hand knit socks, on the other hand, are survivalist socks. With a bit of spare yarn (in a pinch you could even unravel part of your cuff) and a tapestry needle, you can reinforce stitches that are starting to wear thin using duplicate stitch. If you're not paying close attention and an actual hole appears, you can darn that hole with a couple of double pointed needles, along with your spare yarn and tapestry needle (or a darning egg, of course). If you don't have double pointed needles, it would totally be possible to carve some from twigs while in the woods. This is a great thing to point out to your skeptical partner or friend who fancies themselves a proper outdoor enthusiast and/or apocalyptic prepper.
- Knit top-down with a heel flap and turned heel.
- Straight and shaped-calf versions included. The shaped calf is about 1 in/2.5 cm larger than the ankle, so if you've got curvy calves, the shaped version one will probably fit better.
- Ribbing in all the right places: 1x1 ribbed cuff for extra stretch at the top of your sock; 3x1 ribbing along the leg provides a snug fit; and a panel of 1x1 ribbing at the top of the instep keeps the socks in place inside your shoes.
- Slip stitch reinforcement at the heels and toes for extra durability.
- Worked at a very snug gauge for dense, hard-wearing fabric.
- New colors start with a plain knit round (sometimes with a couple decreases if you're working the shaped version) so that the color-change point is crisp without the two-color purl bumps that can appear if you change color in pattern.
- Okanogan is written in five adult sizes. I recommend choosing a size that's smaller than your actual foot circumference. I usually wear socks with about an inch/2.5 cm of negative ease.
- To decide whether to make the shaped or straight-calf version, measure your calf circumference at a point that's about 10.5-11.5 in/27-29 cm from the floor. If it's more than about 3 in/8 cm bigger than your foot circumference (taken at the ball of your foot), you may be happier with the shaped calf version. If your calf is less than 3 in/8 cm bigger than your foot circumference, the straight calf may be better for you.
Try on the socks as you go.
- LEG: You can make the leg longer or shorter by working until you're 1.5-1.75 in/4-4.5 cm away from the total length you'd like from the cast-on to the bottom of your heel. This is a good way to get the perfect fit at the calf as well because at different heights, the sock will fit around your calf differently.
- FOOT: You can also adjust the foot length. Start the instep ribbing at the smallest part of your foot rather than following the exact measurements given in the pattern. Then work the foot until you've got about 1.75 in/4.5 cm left to go to the tip of your big toe.
The samples are knit in Magpie Fibers Domestic Fingering. It's a skinny, high-twist sock yarn in 100% US superwash Merino. The feel of it is dry, wooly, and soft, and it creates crisp fabric with great stitch definition. I love it for socks because the tight twist and wool fibre makes for a durable fabric, especially when worked at a snug gauge. You can read more about this yarn and see my swatch in it (including a video!) in my Swatch Project.
TIPS FOR SUBSTITUTING
- Use a sock yarn that's on the light side because the gauge is quite dense. Swatching is your friend and will tell you if you like your chosen yarn at that tight gauge.
- I recommend something that's got a tight twist and a lot of plies for durability.
- Don't forget about softness if you're sensitive, but don't dismiss more rustic yarns if you like them.
MY FAVORITE DETAIL
I'm so into the reinforced toes! I've seen slip stitch reinforcement on heels before, but never the toes and I love the look and the extra durability!
- Keep a bit of the leftover yarn somewhere safe so you've got it to repair your socks if they get thin spots or holes.
- Play around with the color palette! I know I'll be needing a pair of this in skinny, all-over stripes and a pair that's just one solid color as well as the striped, contrast heel/toe/cuff version.
- New to Kitchener stitch or need a refresher? Check out this tutorial.
Share your projects! Use the hashtags #OkanoganSocks, #AndreaRangelKnits, and #CampTolt on social media so we can see what you're up to.
Adult Sizes XS (S, M, L, XL); shown in size M on model (dark gray with orange stripes)
Foot circumference: up to 6.5 (7, 7.25, 7.75, 8.25) in / 16.5 (18, 18.5, 19.5, 21) cm
Main Color: Approximately 283 (305, 316, 338, 359) yd / 259 (279, 289, 309, 328) m fingering weight yarn
Contrast Color 1: Approximately 101 (109, 112, 120, 128) yd / 92 (100, 102, 110, 117) m fingering weight yarn
Contrast Color 2: 20 (20, 25, 25, 25) yd / 18 (18, 23, 23, 23) m fingering weight yarn
Shown in Magpie Fibers Swish Domestic (100% domestic superwash Merino wool, 400 yd / 366 m per 100g skein)
Adult Size Medium (on model) - Main Color: Harpoon; 1 skein; Contrast Color 1: Castaway; 1 skein; Contrast Color 2: Tin Roof... Rusted!; 1 skein
US #0 / 2.0 mm set double pointed needles, 32 in / 80 cm circular needle for magic loop method, or 2 circular needles; use preferred small-circumference method.
Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Stitch markers, stitch holder or spare cable, tapestry needle
37 sts / 54 rounds = 4 in / 10 cm in Stockinette stitch, knit in the round 43 sts / 52 rounds = 4 in / 10 cm in un-stretched 3x1 rib, knit in the round