My Icelandic knee socks

An old pair of socks given to the to the National Museet of Copenhagen in 1858 as part of a traditional costume inspired Hélène Magnússon those elegant knee socks. Héléne’s modern and glamourous version are definitively her own design: the socks are marked with her initials. Knit your with your own initials from an Old icelandic alphabet!


 Back to Issue 05 – Return to Iceland 


My Icelandic knee socks Pattern

4 €

The pattern story

Hélène tells us a bit about the tradition of socks in Iceland

Traditionnal Icelandic socks were usually knitted to shape from top-down. The heel flap was very common, as well as a wedge or a star toe. The cuff was often ribbed and the calf shaped with increases and decreases on both sides of a line of purl row at the back of the leg. A few short rows were sometimes added at the instep to make it slightly longer than the rist and thus more comfortable. I retained all those details in my design. On the other hand, Icelandic socks were very plain, barely decorated with a few stripes. It seems that all the embellishment was going into the bands that were breaded around the legs to held the socks in place.  So this is were I concentrated my efforts. The sockbands were woven, mostly with tablet-weaving, in many colors, with all sorts of motifs and often the initials or the name of its owner.  I interpreted them in the form of a stranded color band with typical motifs and initials. The old Icelandic alphabet chart will allow you to customize your socks with your own initials or with the initials of whom the socks are intented for. This alphabet comes from an Old sjónabók, an Icelandic pattern manuscript dating from the 17th century.

The pattern was published in the book Knitting sock from around the world: 25 patterns in a variety of styles and techniques, Voyageurs Press (2011).



The designer

Hélène Magnússon is a leading knit designer in Iceland, the author of many books about traditional Icelandic knitting and the editor of The Icelandic Knitter. She likes to put a new spin on Icelandic traditions. She began her professional life as a lawyer in Paris before she made a complete life change and moved to Iceland, where she studied textile and fashion at Iceland Academy of the Arts and worked as a hired girl in a sheep farm and a mountain guide. The varied skills she learned in those early years richly inform the amazing hiking and knitting tours she passionately guides in collaboration with tour operator Icelandic Mountain Guides. 


Wool, sizes & info

The pattern

Sizes: Medium(Large) /US 8-9(10-11)

Finished Measurements

Foot circumference:  21(23)cm/ 8.25(9)”

Calf circumference (widest): 34(36)cm/13.25 (14)"

Foot length: 23(26)cm/9(10.5)"

Length from cuff to heel: 40.5(45.5)cm/16(17)"


26 sts and 36 rows = 4" (10cm) in st st on 3mm (US11) needles with MC.

You can obtain more sizes by changing needle size.


Lana Grossa, Meilenweit Merino Sock yarn, 80 % Merino wool, 20 % polyamide, sock yarn, machine washable, 100g skein, 420m/ equals 100g: MC #2011, 1 skein;  CC1 # 1290, remnants

Ístex, Loðband-Einband, 100 % new wool, lace yarn, not washed, 50g skein, 225m/ equals 50g: CC2 #1038, CC3  #0047, CC4 #0852 , remnants

Needles: 2,5mm and 3 mm / US 2 and 3 circular needle (using magic loop) or DPN’s

Notions: stitch markers, tapestry needle

Techniques: stranded knitting, magic loop, jogless join

Pattern: once you've made your paiement, you will receive an email with a link to dowload the pattern PDF. We don't send patterns by snailmail.

Errata: no mistake was found in this pattern.