New Pattern: Paul Atwell Socks


We've posted a new pattern! After the hectic pre-Knitty scramble, and the involved sizing and chart-checking related to the Kenneth McNeil sweater and Jessie Lambdin shawl, I wanted a more manageable design project. An elegant, simple sock pattern seemed just about right.


Paul Atwell was a unique challenge as inspiration for a design, because he is the only member of my family tree about whom very little is known (by us, anyway). The biological father of my grandmother Marjorie, he separated from my great-grandmother when "Margie" was only two. The only things I know about him are that he was a sailor (and later recruiter) in the U.S. Navy, he moved from Kentucky to Vallejo, California in his late teens or early twenties, and his mother was rumored to be part Cherokee. I'm still working on researching this last detail, but so far I've come up short.

In developing the pattern, I decided to focus on Paul's connections with both the land (he came from several generations of farm families) and the sea. Modifying the traditional gull-and-garter stitch motif, I juxtaposed the "gulls" with seed stitch instead. There were purely aesthetic reasons for this; I thought the seed stitch brought out the golden hues of the sock yarn beautifully. But I also thought that the combination of seeds and sea birds was a representative one for a man who left his farming roots to pursue an oceanic career.


The pattern is quite basic, with my modified motif giving a little character to a standard, cuff-down sock with a slip-stitch heel. There are a couple of nice details, though: I like how the motif flows into and around the heel, and how the cuff ribbing is planned to transition smoothly into the gulls and seeds.


This is a good pattern to use with a semi-solid or lightly variegated yarn like the Sundara "Bronzed Sienna" pictured here. (If anyone doesn't already know about Sundara's beautiful dyeing work, by the way, I highly recommend her.) The vertical stripes and slipped-stitch gull pattern show up over the changes of color, and the columns of seed stitch make the yarn's lighter hues shine. I think the overall effect is unified and reasonably subtle, suitable for a lady or a fella.


The pattern is written for two sizes, Medium Women's and Medium Men's, and is for sale over here for $3.50 or 2 pages of your own story. I hope you like it!


  • Beautiful socks! The color and design are both wonderful. I was just working on a scarf design based on the same gull-and-garter pattern you modified for your base motif. Great minds and all that :)

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  • Those socks are really lovely, and the color is glorious. Your family stories are fascinating, and this is by far one of the most wonderful fiber art projects I've seen. An excess of superlatives, I know, but wowza! Each project so far is just so thoughtful and lovely.

  • Thanks to Ysolda, I have just found your Family Trunk project and I am astonished, astounded, in awe and admiration. This is fantastic stuff.

    I write biographies for a living, so am constantly talking to people (mainly senior citizens) about why it is important for future generations to know their life story - especially from their perspective. I try to tell them how much some family members cherish their ancestors life stories and how knowing those stories brings added richness to their lives.

    To see the way you are honoring your heritage validates this for me. Your project is a magnificent 'tipping of the hat' to the complex thing that is family.

    I think now it will be a life goal of mine to emulate your project for my own family in some way. I'll ponder it for some time til it gathers momentum and a life of its own, and when I ever get round to bringing it to life, I'll certainly let you know what (else) you've inspired.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful project.

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