Tulip Socks | Purl Soho

I designed these socks for my mother for her birthday. Besides being a big time sock lover, my mother is also a serious gardener, so I wanted to bring something of the garden to the fair isle design. I thought of tulips because they have a simple graphic quality that lends itself well to the limitations of drawing with stitches. Plus tulips are old favorites!

If you’d like to try your hand at creating an original fair isle design, please visit our new Design Your Own Fair Isle Tutorial. It’s a great way to bring even more creativity to your knitting, enriching the process and the results.

Tulip Socks | Purl Soho

Or, if knitting socks, let alone fair isle socks, is challenge enough for you, make a pair of these! Knitting is always its own reward, whether you’re knitting your own design or someone else’s. Thanks! -Whitney


Tulip Socks | Purl Soho

Tulip Socks | Purl Soho

  • 2 skeins of the Main Color, #1200
    • 1 skein of Color A, #1150.5
    • 1 skein Color B, #1141
    • 1 skein of Color C, #1143
    • 1 skein of Color D, #1521
    • 1 skein of Color E, #2335

Please note that because Koigu comes in hundreds of colors and is dyed in very small batches of 20, specific colorways can be very difficult to find. So you may want to consider slight variations or a whole new color scheme!


9 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Finished Size

Fit most women –  8 inches in circumference and adjustable length



With Color A, cast on 72 stitches to three double pointed needles.

Round 1: *K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat Round 1 six more times.

Change to the Main Color and knit 6 rounds.


For the next 37 rounds use the following chart. Start in the lower right corner and repeat each line to the end of the round (6 times), then move up the chart, always starting from the right.

(For some fair isle tips, link to the “Knitting the Fair Isle Section” of Giacomo’s Baby Hat.)

Tulip Socks | Purl Soho

At the end of the chart, using just the Main Color, knit 21 rounds (or until piece measures  7 inches from the cast on edge).

The Heel Flap

Note: If you have never knit a sock before, you may find the illustrations that accompany the Pom Pom Peds Project Journal helpful.

Knit 18 stitches and turn the work so the purl side of the fabric is facing you.

Purl 36 stitches. (The 36 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 36 stitches.)

Arrange the stitches so that the 36 heel flap stitches are on one needle. Put the remaining stitches on hold on two needles (18 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 36 stitches.

Row 2 (wrong side): Slip 1 purlwise, purl to end of 36 stitches.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 seventeen more times.

Turning the Heel

Still just working the heel flap stitches:

Row 1 (right side): K20, ssk, k1, turn the work so the wrong side is facing you and there are 22 stitches on the left needle and 13 stitches on the right needle.

Row 2 (wrong side): Slip 1 purlwise, p5, p2tog, p1, turn the work.

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.

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 20 stitches remain on the needle. (For the last repeat, you will end Row 3 with ssk and Row 4 with p2tog.)

The Gusset

Knit across the 20 heel stitches.

With the same needle (now called “needle #1”), pick up 19 stitches along the heel flap. (39 stitches)

With a new needle (needle #2), knit across the 36 stitches that have been on hold.

With a new needle (needle #3), pick up 19 stitches along the other side of the heel flap.

Still with needle #3, knit 10 stitches from needle #1.

Now there are 29 stitches on needle #1, 36 stitches on needle #2, and 29 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 72 total stitches remain.

The Foot

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

The Toe

Change to Color A.

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 36 total stitches remain.

Then, repeat Round 1 until 16 total stitches remain.

With Needle #3, knit the 4 stitches from Needle #1 so that there are 8 stitches on each of two needles.

Use the Kitchener Stitch to close the toe.

Weave in the ends.


Fair isle knitting can look pretty bumpy and messy before it gets blocked. Some stitches are really loose and, for me, the orange area between the leaves was quite puckery. But, don’t worry! Once you wash the socks on a cold, gentle cycle with some mild detergent and lay them flat to dry, they’ll fall into shape!

Tulip Socks | Purl Soho