I've been playing around a bit with shaping in pattern for socks—not incorporating shaping into the areas around a pattern, not shaping encroaching into a patterned field, but drawing a chart in the right shape and filling it in with a pattern devised to fit. These plainish socks are the first result of the experiment:
The "shaping in pattern" part is a twisted stitch cabled panel on the back of the leg that grows out of the ribbed cuff and narrows to a sliver:
The purled column on the back of the leg beneath the cabled panel continues to the bottom of the heel flap, where it's swallowed up by the heel turn. Like a seam only seamless.
Like most very tiny ribbing-like cables, the pattern looks best when it's stretched sideways, as for example when you put it on your leg and it stretches to accommodate your shapely calf.
The socks also have their gusset decreases on the soles instead of placed at either side of the instep stitches, which I am counting as "shaping in pattern" because of its effect on how the handpainted yarn knits up. (It's okay to cheat if you are the one who invented the rules.)
Gusset decreases make little angled lines across the knitting, which interrupts the flow of whatever pooling or striping the yarn is doing. Putting them on the bottom of the foot leaves the instep undisrupted. This might not always be an advantage, but it is definitely a good trick to have up one's sleeve. (I am also operating under the assumption that the top of the foot is more 'public' and visible than the sole—your mileage may vary!) It definitely worked well with this yarn, which has only shortish runs of each colour. I'm pleased with how the columns of picked-up stitches from the sides of the heel flap continue uninterrupted to the spiral toe.
For fun, the toes spiral in different directions.
The yarn I used is pretty interesting; it's an 8-ply fingering-weight superwash merino that Dale of Light Brown Hare dyed in the most outstanding browns. I can attest that it is very round, which makes even these tiny cables look full, and the stockinette fabric is smooth and has a springy texture that feels wonderful on the foot. I wish it weren't almost July so I could actually wear them for more than five minutes!