Remember Tretorn tennis sneakers? The canvas ones with the bright colored little arch on the side? And remember how you had to wear them with the little socklets with pom poms on the cuff?
In the mid-70’s Chris Evert rocked the classic combo. The pom pom was probably meant to keep the sock from slipping down into the the sneaker. Such a whimsical solution to such a practical problem!
A decade later The Official Preppy Handbook ordained Tretorns with these kinds of socks a “must-have.” In Connecticut, the hypocenter of preppy behavior where the Handbook was barely satirical, we all competed to have the newest Tretorns, the most pom pom socks, the best color combinations. Sick stuff, but, man, I loved wearing those socks!
Now, two decades later, I’m loving making these socks! They reduce sock making to the most fun parts, to the action of the sock: the heel, the gusset, the toe. And so many color possibilities, I could fill a drawer… -Whitney
- 2 skeins of Hand Jive’s Nature’s Palette 100% merino wool. These colors are Coral and Walnut. Please note that to make 2 pairs of socks you will probably need all 185 yards of these skeins, so be careful substituting…
- 1 set of US #2 double pointed needles. I used Crystal Palace’s 6 inch bamboo needles.
- 1 Susan Bates Pom Pom Maker (Optional – you can also make pom poms with a handmade cardboard template.)
UPDATE August 18, 2011: Since Nature’s Palette is no longer available, we have redone our Pom Pom Socklets in Anzula’s Squishy. One skein each in two colors of Squishy makes 4 pairs of socks!
8 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch (See our Circular Gauge Tutorial for tips on knitting an accurate gauge for in-the-round projects.)
Fit most women: 7 1/2 inches in circumference and adjustable length
With the Contrast Color, cast on 60 stitches to three double pointed needles.
Round 1: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.
Repeat Round 1 five more times.
Change to the Main Color and knit 3 rounds.
The Heel Flap
Knit 15 stitches and turn the work so the purl side of the fabric is facing you.
Purl 30 stitches. (The 30 stitches that you just purled are the beginning of the heel flap. For this section, you will be working back and forth on just these 30 stitches.)
Arrange the stitches so that the 30 heel flap stitches are on one needle. Put the remaining stitches on hold on two needles (15 stitches each).
(Again, work the following rows back and forth, turning the work between each row.)
Row 1 (right side): *Slip 1 purlwise, k1, repeat from * to end of 30 stitches.
Row 2 (wrong side): Slip 1 purlwise, purl to end of 30 stitches.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 fifteen more times.
Turning the Heel
Still just working the heel flap stitches:
Row 1 (right side): K17, ssk, k1, turn the work so the wrong side is facing you and there are 19 stitches on the left needle and 10 stitches on the right needle.
Row 2 (wrong side): Slip 1 purlwise, p5, p2tog, p1, turn the work. (18 stitches on the left needle and 10 stitches on the right needle)
Row 3: Slip 1 purlwise, knit to 1 stitch before the gap, ssk (with the stitch before the gap and the stitch after the gap), k1, turn.
Here’s the so-called “gap”:
Row 4: Slip 1 purlwise, purl to 1 stitch before the gap, p2tog, p1, turn.
Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until all the heel stitches have been worked and 18 stitches remain on the needle.
Knit across the 18 heel stitches.
With the same needle (now called “needle #1”), pick up 17 stitches along the heel flap. (35 stitches)
With a new needle (needle #2), knit across the 30 stitches that have been on hold.
With a new needle (needle #3), pick up 17 stitches along the other side of the heel flap.
Still with needle #3, knit 9 stitches from needle #1.
Now there are 26 stitches on needle #1, 30 stitches on needle #2, and 26 stitches on needle #3. Needle #1 is the beginning of the round (at the middle of the heel).
Round 1: Needle #1 – knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. Needle #2 – knit all the stitches. Needle #3 – k1, ssk, knit to end.
Round 2: Knit.
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until 60 total stitches remain (15 stitches on Needle #1, 30 stitches on Needle #2, and 15 stitches on Needle #3).
Maintaining 15 stitches on Needles #1 and #3 and 30 stitches on Needle #2, knit evenly until the piece measures 2 inches less than the desired final length, measuring from the back edge of the heel.
Here’s a guideline for final sock lengths:
US size 6 shoe (European 37) = 9 inches
US size 7 shoe (38) = 9 1/4 inches
US size 8 shoe (39) = 9 5/8 inches
US size 9 shoe (40) = 10 inches
I’m making socks to fit a size 7 shoe, so I knit the foot until it measures 7 1/4 inches (9 1/4 inches – 2 inches).
Round 1: Needle #1 – knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. Needle #2 – K1, ssk, knit to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. Needle #3 – k1, ssk, knit to end.
Round 2: Knit.
Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until 32 total stitches remain.
Then, repeat Round 1 until 12 total stitches remain.
With Needle #3, knit the 3 stitches from Needle #1 so that there are 6 stitches on each of two needles.
Use the Kitchener Stitch to close the toe.
The Pom Poms
When you tie the pom pom in half leave generous tails so that you can use them to sew the pom pom to the top back of the socklet. Bring the tails to the inside, tie a knot (yes, a knot!), and very thoroughly weave the ends in to the cuff.
Now switch the colors and make another pair!