A couple of months ago, Elinor announced that she was sponsoring a sock design contest to get herself excited about knitting socks again, and encouraged her readers to use the contest as an excuse to finish any patterns they had kicking around in their heads. Well, it just so happened that I had one of those sock patterns in my head. And last Friday, with three whole hours to spare before the contest deadline, I put the pattern up for sale on Ravelry.

Introducing: Denature

This pattern makes me a happy, happy geek on several levels.

The DNA cable itself is surprisingly accurate: the minor and major grooves in the double-helix (the distance between the two strands in the helix, and between turns in the helix) are appropriately proportioned, and there are a nearly-accurate 10 bases per full turn of the helix. I may have done a happy-geek dance around the room when I sketched out the chart and realized that the math worked out like that.

Then, the whole denaturing bit is sort of a visual pun on an old sock style in which an otherwise plain pair of socks would have some sort of decorative band running down the sides of the leg. This band, referred to for some reason as the clock, would split just above the heel, with half of the band running down the foot and the other half running down the heel flap. This was actually the original inspiration for Denature: what if it were actually pieces of double-stranded DNA that were running down the clocks and denaturing over the heel!

I had this idea during my first rotation in grad school … three and a half years ago. Finally, after several attempts at charting the denaturation point and single-stranded DNA, a couple of hard-drive crashes, three and a half pairs of socks, and some good solid test-knitting/editing by the wonderful Sara, the pattern is finished. (THANK YOU, Elinor, for giving me an excuse to get this dang thing finished after all those years. Yeesh.) Now I hope you won’t all run out and find mistakes in it, but if you do, let me know and I’ll fix them.

The pattern is available for $5 as a PDF download through Ravelry, but you don’t need a Ravelry account to purchase it. Just click this link and it’ll take you to PayPal.

Sizes: S (L) — although the size is easily adjustable just by varying how much stocking stitch you put between the DNA bands
Measurements: 8.5” (9.5”)
Yarn: any solid- or heathered-colored yarn that knits to the correct gauge; roughly 400 (600) yds
Gauge: 32 sts / 48 rows = 4” in stocking stitch
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dpns or circulars
Notions: cable needle (optional); darning needle; four stitch markers

Full details of the pairs I’ve knit are on Ravelry: Valerie’s; Annie’s; Michael’s. And big thank-yous to Valerie and Jess for modeling for me!


And if DNA socks aren’t science-y enough for you, or you think I’m the only one who’s combining biology and socks, check out Whitney’s amazing neuron socks! I haven’t even looked through the rest of the contest entrants – that one alone makes me feel like I’m in good company.


About snail bait

Knitter always looking for new skills; enthusiastic but amateur gardener; scientist-in-training; new momma.
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4 Responses to Denature

  1. Sara says:


    You are awesome and so is this pattern.

    Whoops. also YAY DENATURE.

  2. Jenn A says:

    Congrats on finishing this pattern! It looks fantastic and is adequately geeky. 🙂

  3. whitney says:

    I’ve already told you this, but I completely adore your pattern! So wonderfully geeky!

  4. Christie says:

    This pattern is so you it’s killing me. I LOVE IT. I’m going to have to buy it and make it and love it so that I can remember to come see you more often. Oh, and so that I can embrace massive nerdiness while wearing socks with DNA on them. Oooo! I could we’re them with my pi t-shirt….now I just need some pants. You are utterly marvelous.

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