Mallaig Gansey Socks Pattern


The Gansey was a beautiful, rugged pullover worn by the fishermen of England and Scotland in the 19th century, knitted by the womenfolk.  The knit-purl patterns and clever cast-ons used in these garments are engaging and enjoyable to knit and inspired this “boot sock” pattern, worked in DK weight yarn.


Intermediate.  This sock is named for the town of Mallaig, where Gladys Thompson documented the motifs I have incorporated into the design. The Channel Island Cast-on begins the cuff and diamonds flank the leg. The pattern offers three sizes: Woman’s Medium (Woman’s Large/Man’s Small, Man’s Large) based on foot circumference, while the foot length can be knitted to your measurement.

These socks are knitted in DK weight sock yarn, from the leg down to the toe. They won’t take much time worked at 6 stitches per inch. I chose to start this pair with the Channel Island cast-on, but you can substitute the Long Tail cast-on method if you are knitting these socks for men. (I have included Technique boxes with photos for both methods.) Although the Channel Island cast-on is often perceived in our modern world to be feminine-looking, remember that it adorned many a burly guy’s gansey, but suit yourself!

In addition to the Technique Boxes for the cast-ons, illustrated with photos of the Continental method, there are charts for the patterning of the cuff, leg, and foot.  A Theory Box and a Technique Box are included to show step-by-step how to finish the toe with Kitchener Stitch. A list of abbreviations is included as well as a book list for further reading.  These socks are of one color.


Featured Techniques

The Channel Island Cast-on, The Long Tail Cast-on, Kitchener Stitch

You may also wish to view my video on the Channel Island Cast-on that is used in this pattern.



Foot circumference: 71/2 (83/4, 93/4)” (19 [22, 25] cm).

Leg length: 101/2 (103/4, 111/2)” (26.5 [27.5, 29] cm).



24 sts and 32 rnds = 4″ (10 cm) in St st.

27 sts and 32 rnds = 4″ (10 cm) in Motif Chart pattern




#3 DK weight: 292 (399, 480) yds (267 [365, 439] m). Shown here: Hazel Knits Lively DK (90% superwash merino, 10% nylon; 275 yds [251m]/4.6 oz. [130 g]) Chocoberry, 2 skeins.


Size U.S. 4 (3.5 mm): set of 4 double-pointed (DPN). Adjust needle size if necessary to achieve the correct gauge.


Stitch markers, tapestry needle