Boot, Saddle, to Horse, and Away

All right, buckaroos, I sent off the last files yesterday, so here she is - “Golden West.”

Golden West Sock

That’s Club Tsock #5, and it’s as anatomically correct a cowboy boot as I know how to make.

Of course, it’s not just ANY cowboy boot. It’s Minnie’s cowboy boot, and it’s inspired by Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West,” possibly the silliest opera of them all - and that’s saying something, opera being fundamentally a silly business.

See, the opera is based on David Belasco’s play “The Girl of the Golden West,” which isn’t unusually silly as Gold-Rush Westerns go. But slap an Italian libretto on it, and what do you get? Spaghetti, of the spaghettiest possible kind.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the piece like crazy. And the music is beautiful and the scenario moving. But I can’t hear Minnie (whose name inevitably sounds like “Meanie” in Italian) sing “Hallo, boys!” or “Che c’è di nuovo, Jack?” (”What’s new, Jack?”) without cracking up. You gotcher good guy, Meesterr Deeck Joh-nson, da Sacramento (actually the bandito Ramerrez in disguise). You gotcher bad guy, il scerriffo (the sheriff) Jack Rance. Then there’s also one Meesterr Ashby, agente della Compagnia di trasporti Wells Fargo. And there’s a chorus of minatori (miners) and they’re always calling out “Hallo!” to each other and playing una partita di poker.

It’s… silly. And I love it.

(I also have a special feeling for it because my grandfather was present at the dress rehearsal for the momentous world premiere, at the Metropolitan Opera in 1910 - but that’s a story for another time.)

OK, so Meanie falls in love with Meesterr Joh-nson, not knowing that he is a bandito in disguise, right? And then when the scerriffo is after him, he comes to her door, and he’s wounded, and she’s shocked that he lied to her, but of course she still loves him, so she takes pity on him in his weakened state and she hides him in the attic. None too soon, because a moment later along comes the cruel lecherous scerriffo, who incidentally has the hots for Meanie, and she brazens it out and lies like a trouper, and just as she’s got him convinced that he’s on a wild goose chase… two drops of blood fall from the ceiling and land on his hand. So of course all is revealed, and things start looking pretty grim for Meanie and Deeck, who at this point makes a tottering appearance and promptly passes out at Meanie’s feet. She immediately goes all tigress, and desperately challenges the scerriffo to una partita di poker, best two hands out of three. If he wins, she tells him, he can take Deeck… and her, too. But if SHE wins… she gets to keep her virtue and her man.

Like a schmuck, he agrees. They play. She wins a hand. Then he wins a hand. The tension mounts and the music swells as they deal the third hand - then she stages a diversion, and when he’s looking the other way she pulls due assi (two aces) out of her boot, giving her the full house she needs to win.

And that’s just the climax of Act II.

So… the sock is a classic two-tone cowboy boot, with a surprisingly comfortable pointy toe…

Golden West Sock

… and a high (but not too high) stacked heel:

Golden West Sock

It’s worked from an i-cord cast-on at the ankle, which serves as a flat-felled seam connecting the lizard-skin upper…

Golden West Sock

… to the extravagantly-topstitched textured-leather top:

Golden West Sock

Of course the top of the top is split…

Golden West Sock

… and piped and curved…

Golden West Sock

… and of course it features functional bootstraps:

Golden West Sock

The two aces appear on the tongues, which also provide a little extra ease for the instep. One is a spade -

Golden West Sock

- the other a heart:

Golden West Sock

(Obviously this picture was taken before topstitching and assembly.)

The treacherous drops of blood are also represented, one on each boot:

Golden West Sock

This is, in short, exactly the footwear for saddling up, rescuing your lover from the gallows in the nick of time, and galloping off together into the sunset, singing “Addio, mia California, addio!” in swelling harmony.

52 Responses to “Boot, Saddle, to Horse, and Away”

  1. elithea Says:

    i must have this. i would kill to have this. and yet you say i cannot join the club to have this. WHY?????

  2. Connie Says:

    I love it! ::adds yet another Tsarina design to ‘to be purchased’ list:: Also, I must hear/watch this opera *immediately*! Where can I find it?

  3. Vero Says:

    Those are awesome!!!!
    Will you do a horsesock to match? Or a hat sock! hehe

  4. Laura S. Says:

    I knew a cowboy boot sock was coming, and I knew it would be great, but WOW!!!!! LOVE it, love it, love it!

  5. Angie Says:

    Wow. I’m looking forward to my package coming in the mail. Woo!

  6. kmkat Says:

    That. Is. Awesome.

  7. Byde Says:

    When I finish my pair I’m going to make a pair for my grandmother. I’ll be the favorite grandkid, for sure!

  8. Presbytera Says:

    Yes, yes, beautiful story, great engineering…

    But does it make that *clonking* sound on the floor when you walk?

  9. Astrid Bear Says:

    Oh My Gosh. Silliest silly opera sock ever! Lizard skin! I am speechless.

  10. Jeanne Says:

    Too cool - I’ve long since retired my real cowgirl boots - these will be perfect with my birks & clogs!

  11. Colleen Says:

    LOL!!!! I love it, but Lisa, you are a nut (of the best kind)!!!!!!!!

    I can’t wait for this one!

  12. Angeluna Says:

    Well my dear, that is the most bloody incredible sock ever. I too hold my sides from laughing when I sit through La Fanciulla. Understanding Italian, it is even more hilarious. And you know the whole libretto???? Amazing woman. How fun that your grandfather was at the dress rehearsal for the premiere.

    BTW, heard Don Giovanni in English at the Sydney Opera House. All that gorgeous Italian is totally pedestrian and rather comic in English.

  13. Tan Says:

    The first opera I went to in person that I actually liked was Girl of the Golden West in English. (The first opera I went to in person was Pilgrim’s Progress. I should probably give it another chance.) The performance of GotGW that I went to was a matinee intended for college students, and so the conductor tried to be educational. He told us that we should think of it as an old western melodrama. And so when the villain showed up on the stage, a lot of the (Utah) audience booed. And THEN the conductor came out of the pit and shook his stick at us and told us that you NEVER boo at the opera. And he looked like a groundhog, and it was SO FUNNY!

    I swear, if my mom had taken me to that when I was a little kid instead of Pilgrim’s Progress I would many years ahead in my appreciation of opera.

  14. Mardi Says:

    Guess I know what kit I’ll be lining up for NEXT year! Brava, brava!! It’s TERRIFIC!! I’ll have a boot inside a boot - talk about innerness of outerness!

  15. Kathe Says:

    Best. sock. evaaaar.
    My favorite line in Fanciulla: Whiskey per tutti!

  16. ZaftigWendy Says:

    Oh. My. WORD!

    It’s PERFECT!! So totally awesome! And I love it (and you) with all my heart!

  17. Marcia Says:

    Your creativity constantly amazes me! Well done :)

  18. Betty Says:

    OMG!!! I love it!!!

  19. Cathy-Cate Says:

    So I was on Ravelry, I was, earlier, and my younger daughter was looking over my shoulder as I posted a comment, and she says to me, she says, “Who is this Tsssarina?” And I says, “Wait a minute, I’ll go over to her blog and show you, there was a picture of her showing a friend how to spin a little while ago.” And I clicky over here, and there staring me in the face all unexpected-like is this glorious specimen of boothood!

    I am stunned speechless. And my daughter wants to know why I am not going to the picture, because obviously this is NOT the Tsssarina. And I says, “Look! It’s a cowboy boot! Look how perfect it is!” And she says, “MOM! It’s a sock!” And I says, “Yes, but it’s a sock that looks like a cowboy boot!” Then she says, “How did she take that picture?” (she has a new camera). I says, “Well, it looks like she might be using her fake leg for some of them, I’m not sure.”

    Five minutes later, we have covered fake legs and why and how they might be utilized, fiber festivals, a brief history of Russian rulers including my notorious namesake, and the Cyrillic alphabet as it contributes to vagaries of spelling in English, and finally we got to the photo of you teaching Kathe to spin.

    Whew! She’s my curious one. (Learning to spin, too, BTW.) But she wandered off before she heard about the opera story. Too bad. Hilarious!

  20. Programmer at Arms Says:

    Those are so cool. Mom rode steeplechase, so her riding boots were a bit different, but she had cowboy boots. These remind me of her.

  21. MonicaPDX Says:

    OMB! They remind me of a darker version of the roughout boots *I* wore for riding! So. Very. Cool. Plus amazing. Bravissima! Magnificent socks, down to the bootstraps. Hee!

    Plus I’m having giggle fits, because though I’ve never seen/heard La Fanciulla (how the heck do you do italic here, anyway; will this let you do html?), your description of the story reminded me of a much later spoof: a Czech film from 1968 or so called “Lemonade Joe.” (Pronounced leh-meh-NAH-do-vay YO-ay. *g*) And the Cola-Loka. And the heroes and villains and sundry characters who possesed a birthmark the size of a Mexican silver dollar–

    Trust me. If you should ever find it somewhere, it’s as much a joyous Western spoof as La Fanciulla del West sounds to be. No opera…but they do have a singing cowboy. ;)

  22. RedScot Says:

    Fabulous! I’ve always steered clear of Fanciulla, (mainly for the reasons you stated!) but now I think I’ll have to go listen! The sock is BRILLIANT!!

  23. Helen (of troy) Says:

    all, this, and you guys haven’t really seen them.. (they are super incredible)

    I don’t like cowboy boots (or boots of any kind, for the most part) and I am thinking about knitting these.

    the pointy toe? when its not on your foot, it curls upwards (as cowboy boot toes do)

    the cord ‘flat felled seam”–just wonderful (weeks ago, i too started a sock with a i cord cast on.. totally different sock–but its a great start)–Only TT’s is so much more interesting.

    Oh, the advantages of living with in driving distance of the Tsarina.–it’s possible to be one of her court ladies… (mind you, i too am royalty in my own right!)

  24. Cyd Says:

    Wow! Or perhaps I should say Yippie Ka-yay! They are amazing!

    The opera sounds like a lot of fun, too. Like one of those “so bad its good” things.

  25. Sally Says:

    Sigh. I will NEVER catch up because you just keep creating socks I want to knit. I have two kits in my stash now, and desperately want Nine Tailors…and now this. Thankfully it will be a while before this one sees general release.

    And oh, BEST sock in the world!! Cowboy up, cupcake!!

  26. Kate Says:

    That’s awesome!

  27. Phil the Badger Says:

    The late Bernard Levin agrred with you, naming “La Fanciulla del West” the silliest opera of all time “in the face of extremely stiff competition”.

    Was Howard Hawks familiar with the opre, do you know? I would think it likely, in iew of the ‘blood dripping in the glass’ scene in “Rio Bravo”.

    You tsock is an unmitigated triumph.

  28. Marcy Says:

    Yeeee Haw! You are some wacky woman, Tsocks. Brilliant, but wacky.

    BTW, is there an optional add-on for spurs?

  29. onafixedincome Says:

    You have truly, utterly, completely outdone yourself.

    Bravissima! (I’d say encore, but how do you outdo THAT??)

    ps…spurs = jinglebobs.

  30. Melissa Says:

    This is one of the best looking socks I’ve ever seen! I love the details, especially the two drops of blood. Simply amazing!

  31. Melissa Says:

    May I submit that a Manly-Cowboy-sized version of these would be a wonderful kit to offer as well?

    My father does cowboy reenactment shooting matches (six shooter, shotgun, and rifle competitions using replicas of the real cowboy guns (not much tech change to that sort of firearm since the 19th C.), typically as garbed-up as a cowpoke feels like getting). Dad was the happy recipient of a pair of tan socks with six shooters and cowboy hats painstakingly intarsia-knitted on them (from a 1950s Grace Ennis-designed pattern, with modifications for skinny ankles and high insteps). Said Dad would probably be over the moon if he received a pair of boot-replica socks.

    Yes, his experienced sock-knitter daughter could painstakingly do the math and beg the Purveyor of Yarn for a Manly-sized quantity, but she would rather beg the Designer and Purveyor to conspire together to produce a kit of proper proportions. Any possibility of this???

    Said Sock-Knitter Daughter actually should quit knitting socks for her Sock-Loving Mother and start knitting up Tsarina and Rockin’ Sock Club kits before said unknit kits take over her entire apartment! Fortunately, the Christmas knitting (for S-LMother and CowboyFather) is nearly completed, and S-KDaughter can get back to her It’sAllAboutMe! knitting).

  32. Marina Stern Says:

    That is the silliest, wonderfulest, most ridiculousest sock I’ve ever seen.

    I want it.

  33. chalyn Says:

    you are my hero. i’ve said it before, but you could stand to hear it again.

  34. Kim Says:

    A friend, who knows I collect cowboy boots, alerted me to this. I have to tell you, these are the most amazing knits I have ever seen. Seriously. Just absolute perfection.

  35. Joan Noland Says:

    My daughter forwarded your wonderful cowboy boot socks. I grew up in cowboy boots and with the horses and cows that come with the life. Also with the necessary ancestors. Your socks are wonderful and I may have to start knitting socks now. I usually stick to larger items and spinning.

    If I ever get to see the opera I will wear the socks. Thanks for fun and wonderful socks.

  36. MistressWenzer Says:

    Hm, a tsock that will work with my cowgirl booties! (they’re only ankle high, and probably should be replaced at some point because they’re extremely battered. But that’s part of why I still wear them…) Those look cute.

  37. Caroline M Says:

    I’m looking forward to this one, I’m allowed it now that I’ve just finished the second York and Lancaster sock. I had a deal with me that I had to finish that second sock before I could start another kit. The Royal Mail just have to clear the workload that is the Christmas post and then it will be mine (insert cackling here)

  38. Kim(with kids) Says:

    I’ve been waiting almost a year for Firebird to become available for public consumption and now I have to wait goodness-knows-how-long for these Cowboy Boots to become available!Oh,the humanity!!

  39. Wool For Brains » Yee ha Says:

    […] done enough. These are “Golden West”, the sock story and lots of lovely close ups iare here if you want to know why there’s a bead on the top. I will probably use the slip stitch pattern […]

  40. » I want these TSOCKS!!! Says:

    […] here and see […]

  41. Kat Says:

    When and where can I buy this sock pattern? I love it.

  42. Ada Says:

    Wow that is a gorgeous pattern!! Is it going to be available for sale sometime??

  43. carla Says:

    I would love to know how to get this pattern. I would love to make these for several of my family memebers they would love it. These are awesome. What great designing.

  44. Jordana Says:

    I have seen the kits at, and am very tempted to buy and make a pair for myself. HOWEVER, I have a couple of nephews who would love something like this, and as I am not (yet) an experienced sock knitter, I would appreciate having a pattern to follow for them for child sized versions. Do you have such a version worked up?

  45. Sharon Says:

    Oh! Wow this is awesome. The cowboy boots sock look amazing with the two aces appear on the tongues, and the treacherous drops of blood which looks real and the pointing toe looks really awesome.

  46. Carol Helset Says:


    I was browsing away and saw the cowboy boot sock. Love it — but I’ve never knit a sock before and am a tad hesitant to start with something that looks pretty difficult. How would you rate it (easy to difficult)? And are the kits and/or patterns available, now?


    Canadian Carol

  47. Linda Says:

    Where, oh, where can we get this pattern! We really need/want this pattern. Is it available? It is on Ravelry, so where are the instructions? PLEASE! PRETTY PLEASE

  48. Cati Says:

    I’m with Linda. Is there any way you’d sell the pattern without the kit? I’m definitely gonna need it before this Christmas. I’d even buy the kit to get it, whenever it’s available again. Please let me know. Thanks so much, this is amazing!

  49. Kathy Dokoupil Says:

    Is the “Golden West” pattern, or kit, for sale. I have spent some time on Ravelry and looking through your web page/blog, but haven’t found any to-purchase info .

  50. Alexandra Ainsztein Says:

    I love the Golden West! How do I buy the pattern?

  51. Angelika Says:

    where can i buy these

  52. Barbara Fritz-Elliott Says:

    Hi Lisa,or should I say Dear Tsarina,
    I love, love your sox. I would like to order the cowboy boot sox kit, as well as any others you still have. Also I would be honored to be member of the sock of the month club.
    I await your kind response to my request.

    Lady Barbara of Marlboro, Massachusetts

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