Beowulf sock pattern

Sanguine Gryphon's selling this wicked knitting pattern to make a pair of socks bearing a reproduction of the introductory text in the oldest surviving manuscript of Beowulf. The design is by Gryphon Perkins, and costs $5. Needless to say, ZOMG WANT.
Hwaet! Listen! Thus begins the immortal tale of the hero Beowulf, the bard summoning the attention of his audience. And so begin these socks, which give the text of the first page of the surviving manuscript, a copy dating to around 1000 CE. The writing flows from one sock to the other, so that you may read it uninterrupted. Wondering what it sounds like? Check out Benjamin Bagby's amazing performance. (On a goofy side note, while I was working on these socks my four year old daughter picked up the word and now, whenever she wants to get my attention, she says, "Hwaet, Mommy, hwaet!")
Hwaet! (via Neatorama)


    1. The oldest surviving manuscript of Beowulf /is/ an anachronism – It’s a monk’s copy of (a copy of (a copy of (recurse as many times as necessary))) a transcript of a tale told in old English from oral tradition, of the adventures of Danes and Norsemen and Geats, several centuries before the manuscript was put down on paper.


  1. People say that of all the socks on earth, those are the warmest, the softest on their owners’ feet, and the most eager to win fame.

  2. n.b.: there is only one surviving manuscript of Beowulf. It was badly damaged in the fire at Robert Cotton’s library in the 18th Century; it’s amazing we have the poem at all, and some parts are still missing.

  3. Very impressive. I don’t think a fraction of the audience here understand just how tough this pattern had to be to design. The execution is equally awesome. Sock knitting is a bitch.

  4. Thaet waes god sock.

    Gloves would be even better, especially considering how one of Beowulf’s few named men, Hondscio (“handshoe,” or glove: cf. German Handschuh), gets eaten by Grendel during the first fight at Heorot. But that’s a mere quibble, sort of like saying that Beowulf gets bloody when he kills: these are damned cool socks, well worthy of being included among the lovely plated mail, the sharp-edged swords, the trembling lyres, of which the Beowulf-poet sings.

  5. Oh my, how exciting to have my design posted here! Deeply honored. In a fit of admiration of Benjamin Bagby, I wrote and asked if he would allow me to knit him a pair. He graciously provided me with his foot measurements and his socks are now in progress.

    The comment ‘thaet waes god sock’ nearly caused me to spew coffee on my keyboard. Thank you, fellow mediaeval geeks, just for being out there :-)

  6. Is it any conicidence that “His linen socc feoll ofer bord in thaet water and scranc” is a common introductory sentence for Old Englisc students?

    1. It’s actually not a library, but an amazing used bookshop hidden in the rural town of Trappe, MD on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s called Unicorn Books ( and is highly worth the trip if you’re in the area. They allowed us to hold our photoshoot there for a minimal fee and we all had a horrible time concentrating while surrounded by so many treasures. I won’t even mention the pile I went home with…
      – Gryphon

  7. I love that the four-year-old picked up Hwaet. Reminds me of something said of a medievalist friend, “He learned his Old English where everyone should, at his mother’s knee.”

  8. Re:Tdawwg – It wouldn’t be hard (once given Sanguine Gryphon’s permission of course) to create a mitten pattern based on the sock one, they translate well one to the other (I’ve done it with colorwork before), although gloves would be considerably more difficult – What do you say, Gryphon?

  9. I’m actually thinking of doing that myself, probably fingerless mitts… It’s hard to get a good grip on monsters’ arms with full mittens on :-)

  10. I graduate with my degree in English Lit with Anglo Saxon in 2 weeks and have decided to exhibit the depths of my ofermode by attempting to knit these beauties in time :D So excited there are knitters out there as geeky as I am. :D

Comments are closed.