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The Fisherman's Boot Socks

The Fisherman's Boot Socks

August 30, 2017

It's a magical moment - I'm finally writing down my boot sock pattern! It's hard to say why, but I'm actually a tad emotional about this. This is the pattern I have knitted hundreds of times over my short years. At this point, whenever I pick up the needles I pretty much automatically start casting on 15 stitches per needle. That's not to say that I'm some sort of sock guru, in fact I have been doing some sole-searching (snicker) and I think I need to branch out and try more ways of knitting socks. But in the mean time, I give you - the Fisherman's boot socks!



Update: There are now fisherwomen's sizes as well!

Update #2: There are now apprentice fishermen sizes (for kids hee hee!)

I've extended the sizes to larger men's sizes, though the pattern is easy to play with in terms of size by adding length to the foot and cuff, or even decreasing less stitches around the foot to allow for a wider fit. It's worth noting that the men's medium size fits my size-10 hobbit feet with a little ease. Socks tend to loosen with wear, which is another thing to keep in mind as you're choosing a size.

Child's sizing: This slipper-like socks are popular with kids, but sizing those little critters can be hard. If you have the kid handy, see if you can measure the length of their foot. Within each size, you can adjust the sock by decreasing less or more on the instep, and also making the foot shorter or longer. You can also go with a bigger cuff and heel and then re-knit the feet as the child grows to be extra-thrifty. 

This chart may assist you in sizing as well: 




I recommend Briggs and Little's Tuffy, 80% wool and 20% nylon worsted weight, though I often will knit the heels and toes in Tuffy and the body of the sock in Heritage, which is 100% wool. But if you want socks that wear like iron, Tuffy is your yarn! I had a lady tell me that all her life she has been knitting socks from Tuffy and has yet to have someone wear through the heel. Wow!



                Women's small in Magenta


For men's socks, you should get two skeins. If you are knitting an extra, extra large, you'll need three if you're doing a solid color or two in the main color and one in the heel and toe contrast. You can get a pair of women's socks from one skein with not much wiggle room! You'll need an extra for the women's medium. The gauge I use is looser than the average sock, but it helps to knit up faster, and once you start knitting these people won't let you stop. Suddenly everyone will be your friend and want you to make them socks.


I have so many stories about this pattern. When I was 10, a crusty fisherman ordered a pair. He nearly keeled over when I told him it would cost $15, and gruffly and begrudgingly made the exchange. He called me back a week later and said he wanted 4 more pairs, no matter the price. He claimed they were like "walking on clouds all day".


I have them for sale at the wharf where my husband works, though keeping them in stock is a big challenge. I have experienced firsthand how bitingly cold it is out on the water, especially in the winter, and wool really shines in times like those! After taking an accidental dive off a boat into icy ocean water one winter, I sat curled in a ball in the bow of the boat wondering if it were possible for a person to be any colder and still live. But my feet were warm!


One Christmas a lady pulled in the driveway and asked if I had any more socks for sale. I told her I had one pair, but I had made the feet shorter in them (in hopes to keep a pair for myself). She twisted up her nose and said she didn't think they'd fit her husband, but that she'd go out to the car and have him try them on. She came back a couple minutes later with no socks and said "Well I don't think they're big enough but he's got them on his feet and he won't take them off so I guess we're getting them."


It's basic and traditional (you'll find no new or earth-shattering techniques here), but these socks for me represent everything I love about wool and fiber arts. The tradition, the practicality, the gratitude: they're the community and culture I love in sock form.





2-3 Skeins Briggs and Little Tuffy available at

Size US 6 double pointed needles


Sizes: women's small (women's medium) (men's medium)(men's large)[child 0-3][child 4-8][child 8 +]


In main color, loosely cast on 42(45)(45)(51) [33][36][39] stitches using the long-tail cast on method, distributing them evenly across your needles by 3s.  Begin working in the round in knit 2, purl 1 rib for 5 rounds.


To add a stripe, fasten on contrast color, knit 5 rows of knit 2, purl 1 rib, break contrast color and continue in main color.


Continue working in knit 2 purl 1 rib until cuff is 6(7)(8)(9) [3][5][7] inches or desired length. It's really up to you!


Begin Heel:

Attach and begin working in contrast color (if using a contrast).

Row 1: *Knit 1, Slip 1* REPEAT between ** 8(9)(9)(10) [6][7][7] times MORE, knit 1. 19(21)(21)(23) [15][17][17] heel flap stitches. TURN your work, these 19(21)(21)(23) [15][17][17] stitches will be worked flat as your heel flap.

*Edited to add* If the stitch count seems wrong, remember you are repeating the initial Knit 1, Slip 1 after you've done it once. (9 x 2 = 18, plus 2 initial stitches, plus the final Knit 1 = 21 for example) Always make sure your heel flap follows the final stitch count. 

Row 2: Purl on the wrong side.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 9 (10)(10)(11) [6][7][8]times, ending with a wrong side row.


Dutch Heel Turn:

Row 1: Knit 12 (13)(13)(14) [9][10][10] Slip 1, Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over. TURN work

Row 2: Slip 1 purlwise, purl 6, purl 2 together, TURN work*

Row 3: Slip 1 knitwise, knit 6, slip1, knit1, pass slipped stitch over, TURN work.

Continue in this manner (repeating rows 2 and 3) until only the center stitches remain, ending with a right side row.

 *For smallest child's size, you will have 4 center stitches on your heel turn instead of 6.

If using contrast color, switch to main color now.



                    Dutch Heel




Pick up 9(10)(10)(12) [7][8][9] stitches along the side of the heel flap. Knit the stitches across the top of the foot (note, my Grammy would sometimes continue the rib down the top of the foot and then stop the ribbing at the toe decreases. It makes more of a slipper sock).

Pick up 9(10)(10)(12) [7][8][9] more stitches up the other side of the heel flap. Knit a few stitches from the first needle to make it more comfortable for knitting, as pictured.


Instep Decrease Row 1: Beginning on needle one (the right 'arm' of the triangle in the picture below), knit to the last three stitches on the needle, knit two together, knit 1. Knit the stitches across the top of the foot. Beginning on the third needle, knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit to end.

Row 2: Knit


Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 42(45)(48)(52) [34][36][38] stitches total. Work the foot even for 7(8)(9)(12, or more for larger feet) inches, measuring from the back of the heel when the sock is laid flat. See note on child's sizing.






Arrange stitches so that you have 22(23)(24)(26) [18][18][20]across the top of the foot, and 10 (11)(12)(13) [8][9][9] on each side.

Row 1: Beginning with the first needle, knit to the last 3 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 1. On needle 2, knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit to last three stitches on needle 2, knit 2 together, knit 1. On needle three, knit 1, slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit to end.

Row 2: Knit

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you have 12 [about 9] stitches left.


Thread yarn through the remaining stitches. Repeat for a second sock. Weave in ends, if desired block socks on sock blockers (say that three times fast), and be warm.



If you'd like to print this pattern without all the pictures, you can either copy and paste the text into a document and print that way, or in Firefox when you click 'print' there should be a box to check that says "simplify printing" that should remove all the photos and leave just the text to be printed. If you need help I'll make sure you get a copy of the pattern, just email me at .


If that doesn't work, this link should take you to a printer-friendly version.



 Here are the fisherwomen's boot socks in Tuffy Magenta worn by a real, live fisherwoman: my sister Candace! Rumored to actually be a mermaid; she's a master of the high sea and fishes with her husband as her ancestors before her.


  • Hi Lacey, this is basically the boot sock I make for myself. I can get a pair out of one skein of Tuffy for me and I could get a bit more than one skein for my husband using the Magic Loop technique. I knit the good ol’ conventional sock, ribbing the entire cuff/leg. I sometimes fancy them up with stripes or color-blocking especially when I’m using up bits of leftover Tuffy. I also use the fingering weight Durasport to knit with Tuffy for all the heels, holding both together, as we have worn through the heels after a few years of use. There quite simply is no other yarn for socks that works as well. I have 3 bins for my B&L yarns: Tuffy, Durasport, and Heritage.

  • Hi, you’re right answers are buried so I can’t find them among the comments. Do you have a preferred method to pick up stitches at the gusset? I had to pick up an extra one on each side to prevent a hole if I pick up in the usual way. My foot is measuring 9 inches. At what point beforehand do I start doing the Toe decreases? My gauge is 4 rows to 1”. Once I got back down to my starting number, I had to rearrange the stitches on the needles so I had an even amount for easier knitting – not sure a beginner would know that if it was their first sock. I just love this sock, but have never done one without being grafted which I hate which is why I love this one! Praying I can weave ends in smoothly at the end so there’s no bump at top of toe to cause any discomfort 🙏🏼 Thank you in advance and please advise

    Cheryl B
  • I want to knit a pair of socks for a friend who wears a size 14 shoe and has a wide many stitches would I need and how could I adjust your pattern.

  • Directions to do heel for cast on 45 does not match. Is there a mistake here? Should it be cast on 44?

    Jackie Morrison
  • Lacie, when you state that you should knit the foot so many inches from the heel, it looks like that is the completed foot length. You don’t have any measurement listed for WHEN to stop and start the toe for the different sizes. I’m doing the mens large size and if I have to go from 52 sts down to @ 12 that’s going to be a total of 21 rounds. That’s three inches in my gauge. That is a very long toe measurement. Did you have a set of number of inches to stop at for the various sizes BEFORE starting the toe? Just asking. lol

    Dolly Wilson

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