Monkey Puzzle Socks

I love the words “monkey puzzle”.  They make me think of a fun game, or perhaps that tree that you see growing in people’s gardens sometimes which apparently got its name from someone saying once that “it would puzzle a monkey to climb that tree“.  For these socks, the connection is Nepal …

When I was 18, I had only ever heard of Nepal because that’s where Mount Everest is.  I knew about Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing being the first people to reach the summit of the highest mountain above sea level, but that was it.  Nepal seemed like an exotic place on the other side of the world that I’d never be likely to visit – but the world is a very different place now from when I was 18.

In a week’s time, not so small daughter will be on a plane to Nepal as part of her World Challenge adventure.  She’s going to spend two weeks there visiting Kathmandu, then travelling to Pokhara to work with local people on a social project, followed by a five-day trek to Poon Hill, camping in the mountains and waking up to breathtaking views, before heading back to Kathmandu.  It sounds amazing and the 18 year old in me very much wishes that I was going too.

Big daughter had an adventure in Peru at the same age with the same organisation and it was truly life-changing for her.  I hope it will be the same for not so small daughter.

Apart from the general organisation that goes with these sorts of trips – buying kit, getting vaccinations and filling in forms – I have lent a hand with the fundraising in the best way I know – through my socks!  Big daughter’s Peru trip coincided with the release of the Super Socks paperback, not so small daughter’s trip to Japan last year inspired a new sock design called Don’t be Koi, and this time, I’ve got another sock design which came about quite unexpectedly but has been a lot of fun!

They’re called the Monkey Puzzle Socks … can you see why? 🙂

A pair of green and yellow patterned socks modelled on feet. The wearer is sitting with her legs over the edge of a wooden wall so that she is suspended above the ground. There's a monkey face on the socks, and the wearer is holding a small toy monkey

The funny thing about these socks is that I didn’t design them with a face at all!  I wanted to create a new mosaic design because I’d had such fun with the Easy Mosaic Socks pattern, and mosaics are quite different from colourwork in their construction so I was just playing with a pattern.  I started knitting, very pleased with myself and how it was looking, as the regular shapes of the pattern reminded me of one of those small hand-held puzzles where you try to roll tiny silver balls into holes, and when I got to the end of the pattern section, I looked at it – and a face looked back at me!  It didn’t half make me jump to suddenly see it! 🙂  And then I looked a bit closer and it had somehow been created out of the way I had shaped the mosaic design – and now I can’t un-see it.  That face makes me smile every time I look at these socks!

I’m not sure I’d say the monkey face is an Orangutan like the small furry one in the photo and I’m not sure it’s one of the monkeys at the Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu either, but it definitely looks like one of those wonderful silverback gorillas to me.  Or you might think it looks more like a dragon, and we are in the Year of the Dragon in 2024.  Or perhaps you think it looks like a South American ancient carving?  I don’t mind how you see it at all – but once you’ve seen it, you’ll see it every time!

A close up of a green and yellow patterned sock modelled on a foot. The wearer is sitting with her legs over the edge of a wooden wall so that she is suspended above the ground. There's a monkey face on the socks, and the wearer is holding a small toy monkey

If you’ve knitted my Easy Mosaic Socks, you’ll remember that mosaic knitting is worked with slip stitches and only uses one colour per round, unlike colourwork which uses at least two, depending on the pattern.  With mosaic, you work each round twice and you do have to concentrate because each pair of rounds is different but unless you particularly wanted to repeat the pattern right down the leg, once you get past the mosaic section, it’s plain easy knitting.

There’s no particular reason why these socks are green and gold (West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Chocolate Lime and Butterscotch) other than that I liked them together, and the gold is perhaps a nod to the opulence of the temple where the monkeys live, but you could make these in any colour and I think they would look just as fabulous.  I love patterns that look super-complicated but only take a bit of confidence and concentration, and I think this is one of them!

What do you think of the cuff?

A green and yellow striped knitted sock cuff on a wooden table with two balls of yarn behind.

That two-colour edge is very easy to do – I’ve given instructions in the pattern for using a cable cast on with two colours but if you’ve got a different method or you want to cast on with one colour, that’s fine!  I’ve worked the rib so that it blends into the mosaic pattern – it always makes me very happy when it works out like that!

Two green and yellow socks with a mosaic pattern featuring a monkey face lie side by side on a white background

You can see the slip stitches quite clearly in this photo but I don’t think they’re quite so noticeable when the socks are on.  I think it’s so clever that you can create “colourwork” in this way!  The trick is to keep your yarn quite loose when you’re knitting each round so that there’s enough slack for the slipped stitch to be pulled upwards onto the next round without it pulling the fabric too tight.  It does feel a bit odd to do that at first, but you soon get the hang of it, and the fact that this is a mosaic band rather than a whole sock makes it easier as well.  If knitted mosaic is new to you, do have a look at my Easy Mosaic Socks pattern as there’s a tutorial on creating the fabric which might be useful.

If you’ve knitted my patterns before, you’ll know that I favour the heel stitch heel flap, but with this sock, I wanted something a little bit different.  Not so small daughter was my sock model and I couldn’t get a good photo of the heel with her hanging around with her monkey pal without her looking as if her feet were somewhat deformed, so I’ll show you a flat photo so you can see …

A green and yellow heel flap and heel turn on a green knitted sock

This heel flap is created using the two colours but it’s just knitted, alternating the colours as you go.  That actually creates the same cushioned heel flap as the heel stitch as you’re carrying the yarn across each stitch as you change.  I chose to continue the two colours onto the heel turn too, but that’s up to you whether you would want to do that or not.  The instructions are there in the pattern – you can decide!

I wanted to continue the two colours for the toes too, and I love the way they work …

A close up of the toes of a green and yellow patterned socks modelled on a foot. The wearer is sitting with her legs over the edge of a wooden wall so that she is suspended above the ground.

You do have to be careful not to pull your stitches too tight when you’re working the toes as it’s very easy to do that and you end up with tight, pointy toes that won’t go over your feet properly (and yes, I did try that out so that I would be able to tell you all about it 😉 ).

The pattern is written for four sizes for a foot circumference from 8-9½” (20-24cm) and there are both charts and written instructions for each size.  There are also tutorial pages to cover some of the elements that might be unfamiliar and of course, you can use the Winwick Mum Sockalong tutorials if you get stuck on knitting the sock itself – if you’ve never knitted socks before and this pair calls to you, don’t be put off!  I’m all about fearless knitting and I think that launching in on a pattern that you really like is much more likely to be a success than feeling you have to practice on something that you don’t like first.

If you would like to buy a copy of the Monkey Puzzle Socks, not so small daughter and I would be delighted, thank you!  I’ll be donating the profits from the pattern to her fundraising pot and you will be contributing towards new boots, a sleeping bag suitable for mountain camping, walking trousers and more visits to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine travel clinic for vaccinations than we ever imagined, as well as some heavy duty bug spray as my girl seems to be catnip to mosquitoes! 🙂

You can buy a copy of the pattern through my Winwick Mum shop if you’re in the UK, and through Ravelry or Payhip if you are overseas (they work out the taxes for me).  It’s a big pattern – 22 pages – but you don’t have to print them all out (I’ve given you the breakdown of which pages are pattern and which are tutorials).  If you read your patterns through a tablet or computer, it’s not a problem but I didn’t want you to use up all your printer ink if you didn’t have to!

If you do use Ravelry, you can link to the project page here if you would like to – and do let me see your photos either by email or on social media as I would love to see how you get on with your very own pair of Monkey Socks!

Thank you so much for supporting us! xx


A view across pine trees and brightly coloured prayer flags to snow covered mountains




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13 Responses

  1. Nicola says:

    Purchased – these look like a lot of fun to knit! Best of luck with fundraising – what a great opportunity!

  2. I love this mosaic pattern.

  3. Annette Edwards says:

    love the look of the pattern, so have just bought it. can’t wait to get started on them

  4. Liz says:

    Sorted! thanks Christine, another pattern to my collection. Your girls are lucky to experience trips like these, in my day London was an expedition!

  5. Susan Rayner says:

    Very interesting and pretty pattern – I have just bought it and hope the funds for Nepal grow nicely.

  6. Jane says:

    Monkey Puzzle tree is one of my favourites that I look forward to seeing on my visits home to the UK! Bought the pattern! I saw the South American carving first. Thanks

  7. Lisa says:

    Goodness, I’ve seen a few Monkey Puzzle trees in Vancouver, Canada – and love them!

    Have just purchased this pattern – I find your mosaic-pattern socks hold my interest better than many other sock patterns, and I look forward to knitting these – one of my nieces will be utterly charmed by the ‘face!’

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