socks


Back down the sock knitting rabbit hole

I’m grown up enough to be able to admit when I was wrong, or at least to admit that maybe I was a bit hasty coming to a particular conclusion. Back in February I declared that I did not like knitting socks and that it wasn’t something I had any interest in doing ever again, and at the time I suppose that was correct, but lately I’ve been rethinking this.

HaveAYarn.ca

image courtesy of HaveAYarn.ca

When I was in Nova Scotia visiting family my mother-in-law and I went on a little day trip to Mahone Bay and visited “Have A Yarn” yarn shop. Not my first time visiting this yarn shop – last summer my husband took me there as a special treat. They have a fantastic selection of different sock yarns and have a little knit swatch of all the different yarns so that you can get a sense of what the self-patterning yarn will knit up to be like. I actually had to laugh – when my mother in law was looking at the sock yarns with me she made the comment “Oh, what beautiful and detailed colourwork!”. It took me a second to realize that she didn’t know the yarns were all self patterning, and that the “detailed colourwork” was just the yarn! I explained it to her and she thought it was pretty nifty how the yarns do that. I have to agree – it is awesome knitting with a self patterning yarn because it oftentimes makes it look like you’re way better and meticulous than you actually are! Instant knitting swagger. ūüėČ

But I digress! On the Wall ‘o SockYarn I saw one particular swatch… Anyone remember Wayne’s World when he saw his dream guitar? Here, let me refresh your memory…

 

Regia 4-ply Design Line by Arne & Carlos "summer night"

Regia 4-ply Design Line by Arne & Carlos “summer night”

Yeah, that was me when I saw this one particular yarn. It is Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in the Summer Night colourway. I don’t really get where the name came from, it looks FAR from “summer night”-y to me. More “Christmas at the Ski Chalet”. Seriously, the swatch had a real 70’s ski lodge vibe that was (to me) super campy but still really beautiful. To me it was/is too nice to use only in my sock yarn blanket, and I didn’t think the awesomeness of the yarn would really come through in one little square, so there was nothing for it…

Time to try knitting socks again!

I’m cheap and didn’t want to buy two balls of the Regia¬†so I bought one ball of the patterned and one (less expensive) ball of grey to go with it, the plan being to make the toe box, heel, and upper cuff of the sock in the complimentary grey. In general I like to do a contrasting toe/heel colour when using self patterning yarns, just to break it up a bit and add a bit of contrast.

Well, I don’t know if it is because I have gotten VERY comfortable using teeny tiny sock needles thanks to my sock yarn blanket, but knitting these socks is going very well and turning out awesome! The yarn is exactly as awesome as I hoped it would be, and the actual knitting of the sock is way more fun and way faster than I remembered. The heel is already turned in the first one and is pretty solid too. Over all this sock is going great!

Oh, and I may have bought another fancier more expensive skein of hand dyed sock yarn as well, but that is the subject of a later post… ūüôā

 


Fringe! (but sadly not the kind that involves Joshua Jackson)

Sonny and Cher sure liked wearing fringe...

Sonny and Cher sure liked wearing fringe…

Is it possible to wear an item with fringe and still look fashionable? To be completely honest I am not positive that it can be done. For most people when you say fringe they think of hippes and buckskin jackets. And really, no matter how you cut it, fringe¬†is quite a statement. I don’t mean a bit of a fringed edge to a scarf, I’m talking a shawl with a long fringe along the bottom, or a fringed shirt, or a fringed purse… You know. Dramatic fringe. Statement-making fringe.

I began my quest for fringed knitted shawl patterns that looked nice and still had a level of modernity to it.

Why shawls? Mostly because they are fun to knit and are the most likely to be able to incorporate fringe without it looking out of place.

The first one that I found and liked was with regret. Well, not regret exactly, but more surprise. I first need to explain that in general I dislike (or maybe just don’t understand) Stephen West’s designs. He does have a couple that are nice, and I do think the guy has a lot of skill and creativity, but I also think a lot of¬†his designs¬†frankly look insane, and I have wonder if he isn’t trolling everyone, making the most unappealing unattractive designs just to see if people will buy and make them. (For example, this, this, this, and this all just look insane to me and would be unflattering on everyone.) I appreciate that my opinion on him is not the norm and that for some people uttering any word against Stephen West is blasphemous. And hey, to each his own! Anyway, despite my general dislike of his patterns I did come across his Fringed pattern (paid pattern). I love this pattern. I think it is interesting and stylish, and finds a way to make fringe look modern. I especially like the block of other-coloured fringe at the end, just for extra interest. Stephen West hasn’t fully won me over, but this pattern really is gorgeous as far as I am concerned and I’d even consider paying the money for it.

The next pattern I came across that I really liked was the Sonoma Stole by Carol Sunday¬†(Paid pattern). For being a shawl with so many colours and lines, you’d think the fringe would make it too busy or tacky, but actually I think the fringe works really well with this pattern. It is like the fringe softens the otherwise pretty sharp lines in the stripes in the shawl.

RittenhouseTown Wrap by¬†Jocelyn Tunney¬†(free pattern) is different from the first two insofar as it is all one colour. The interest comes from the pattern and texture in the body of the shawl and in the fringe. To me it looks snuggly and warm, more Autumn Cottage instead of 1970’s Love In.

Going at fringe from a different direction, there is Beautiful Spring Scarf by Purl Soho (free pattern). It is a very very simple scarf but with brightly coloured fringe on the ends. Where fringe is very often an accent, here the fringe is the focus.

Amalthea by Tori Gurbisz¬†(paid pattern) does the best job of being modern and fashionable in a timeless way. It is a nice long shawl with a bit of detailing and texture along the bottom half of it, and is finished with a simple not-too-heavy fringe. It is classy. And feminine, without being shouty about it. I don’t know, I just think it is properly lovely and of all the shawl designs I have here I think this is the one that would be the most wearable.

Finally, I have two pairs of socks that incorporate fringe that I really like. The first is Cat’s Zebra Socks by Cat Bordhi (paid pattern). Basically, they are black and white stripes socks with a fringe down the back that mimics the mane of the zebra. Pretty creative and fun. The second pair of socks has fringe, but in a more hilarious creative way. In¬†Fringe Socks¬†by Stephannie Tallent¬†(paid pattern)¬†the fringe is a knitted design, not actual fringe hanging off the socks. I’m sorry, but this absolutely cracks me up. I don’t know why but I think this is hilarious and creative.

 

So there are some knitting patterns that use fringe but aren’t excessively retro or dated. I think it can be a thin line to walk, using fringe while staying modern looking, but I think this proves it can be done.

 

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:


Dyeing yarn using a sock blank is both awesome as well as HUGELY annoying 5

20150411_190221I had some incredibly generous Ravellers donate some of their sock yarn scraps towards my sock yarn blanket which has been a tremendous help. Seriously, I went from a very lacking variety of sock yarns to now having dozens of different bits of yarn. Lovely lovely lovely people. Then, on top of that, one women even gave me sock blank! (For those who don’t know,¬†a¬†sock blank is a knitted panel of undyed sock yarn that you can use to easily make your own colourways and self-patterning yarn.)¬†When I discovered the sock blank in the box of yarns she sent me I was extremely excited since I had looked into purchasing them myself in the past. I have been waiting to use this sock blank until I had a good opportunity to venture into dyeing, preferably without interruption or husband sighs while I inevitably get dye all over myself and the kitchen. He is a bit of a Tidy McCleanerson, and my inclination towards chaos and messiness can be stressful for him from time to time, and my having gotten dye EVERYWHERE (including on the front door somehow) has made him less than thrilled over the prospect of my doing any more hand dyeing of yarn.

My husband was away from the house for a full 36 hours this weekend. I seized the opportunity!

The same as last time, I didn’t go in to it with a particular plan or knowledge, I just winged it. Why I never go in to these things with a set plan is beyond me. Perhaps I secretly believe myself to be some sort of savant or natural genius when it comes to this type of thing and that I will just magically be awesome at it without trying.

Yeah… right…

Anyway, like I said I just winged this. So, what did I do?

  1. I soaked/saturated the blank in water. I don’t entirely know why, it just felt like the thing to do.
  2. I got out a¬†9×9 glass baking dish¬†and created¬†a sort of separated bowl and divider using tinfoil.
  3. I laid out the blank in the dish, putting half in the separated tinfoil bowl. Because I wanted short colour repeats I didn’t lay the blank out top half in the dish, bottom in the tinfoil bowl because that would have resulted in one long section of one colour and then one long section of another colour. To get the shorter colour repeats I put the blank in the dish dividing it left to right instead.
  4. I dissolved some blue Wilton’s food colouring in some hot water and a bit of vinegar and poured it into the dish, keeping it out of the tinfoil bowl divider.
  5. I dissolved some yellow Wilton’s food colouring in some hot water and a bit of vinegar and poured it into the tinfoil bowl side.
  6. I added some blotches of red and green along the center section that was held up by the divider out of the two main colours.
  7. I put the dish in the oven at 200¬įF for about an hour.
  8. Drain, rinse, leave it to dry fully.
  9. Once dry I unravelled it from the blank on to my swift.
  10. I unwound it from the swift, dividing the two strands into two separate balls
  11. I rewound one ball back on to the swift and then rewound it into a center pull ball using my nostepinne. Repeat for second ball.

sockblank

I am super excited for how it ended up, but I do have some notes:

  • The colours are a little more easter-ish than I intended, mostly because I dropped a bit of pink dye around in splotches on both sides. I think I was intending for it to result in a more mottled look, which did work kind of. Mostly the pink just dispersed throughout making the yellow look orange and the blue look more mauve. Ah well.
  • What a colossal pain in the ass it was unraveling this yarn and reballing it. Holy crap. Now, in fairness part of the problem was that I sort of screwed up when I was unwinding the blank on to my swift. The blank itself unraveled really smoothly and easily, that wasn’t the issue. I started with the swift in a weirdly unexpanded state and then it just got worse and, well, you can see the disaster I created in the first panel of the above picture. (What was that about my secretly believing myself to be a natural genius when it comes to this kind of thing?)square
  • The blank was a double knit one, and reballing those two strands into two separate balls was irritating to put it mildly. I don’t know if there is some magical easier way of doing it, but it took me a long time. I may have to put this question to the actual geniuses on the Ravelry forums to see if maybe they can enlighten me because seriously… it was a pain in the ass.
  • I have knit one square (so far) using this yarn and I think it is pretty fantastic. Turned out basically how I was hoping in terms of the self striping within my tiny block. This yarn would probably look more varigated if I used it for a larger item (like a sock) but the stripes work out perfectly in my little squares. WIN!
  • Despite the huge annoyance I suffered while unwinding and reballing the blank, I still LOVED dying using the sock blank. It was a great way of creating a really cool colour way, really simplified the whole process. No tangles or shenanigans. I also love that it resulted in two identically dyed balls, and I can absolutely see how that would be fabulous if I were going to use this yarn for socks.

 

So, in summary, I loved using a sock blank for dyeing. I loved dyeing it and loved the end result, so I can overlook the unballing/reballing annoyances.

 

Oh, and as for my husband’s reaction to my having dyed while he was away? I made a point of cleaning everything up before he got back home so that he would have no reason to be grumpy over any future dye projects, and he was totally fine with it, until he saw the distinctly blue staining on our wooden cutting board… oopsie….


I refuse to not buy sock yarn, but I don’t enjoy knitting socks, therefore….

080
I have realized that I don’t like knitting socks very much¬†(though I tried very hard to convince myself otherwise), but I do love sock yarn and all the ridiculously tacky colourways there are for sock yarns. Rather than forcing myself to knit socks just to justify buying pretty pretty sock yarns, I have instead found another solution. I have decided to knit a sock yarn blanket.¬†A Sock Yarn Justification Blanket to be exact. I’m using the Sock Yarn Blanket pattern by Shelly Kang. Really simple and easy to follow, and free. Already I am really enjoying this project. I like the “quick hit” nature of it. Not that the blanket itself will be quick to knit, but rather each individual block is quick, fun, and easy. Mini-mindless knits.

As it stands, I currently have some existing sock yarns that I am going to invest into this project. I have half a ball of Paton’s Kroy sock yarn (from these), half a ball of¬†Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball (from these), half a ball of Regia Flouormania (from these), the leftover pink and black fingering from my Sonar Shawl, and two full balls of DROPS Delight.

Using the existing yarns I already had on hand I have started knitting these little mitered squares. I initially knit a square using size 3US DPNs that I had around but the knit was way too loose and sloppy looking, so I (reluctantly) hauled out my size 1US needles. Even though it will take me longer to do, the guage is a lot nicer on the 1s so I am doing it on them. So far I have been using my size 1US circulars with their giant 24 inch cable and it has worked but it has been cumbersome. I will be picking up a pair of size 1US DPNs I think, just for this project.

My pretty pretty squares

As for the yarns, the Kroy sock yarn has been the nicest to work with so far and resulted in the most interesting blocks. The Zauberball is pretty good, but definitely thinner than the Kroy so the blocks aren’t as solid. The only other blocks I have done was using the DROPS Delight… I strongly dislike the DROPS Delight. I find it really weak and fuzzy and obnoxious to work with. I’ve made two squares out of it and that was enough to make me really question whether or not I want to use it at all. Even the colour isn’t that great for this, the colour transitions are so long that you hardly see any colour change within one block. I am increasingly feeling like there is no application of this yarn that would make me like it.¬†Obviously I won’t be able to complete the blanket using just what I have now, so additional yarns will be needed.

Speaking of additional sock yarn, this project¬†is sweeping me into very dangerous territory. My sock yarn purchasing has been relatively well controlled since I knew I wasn’t a huge sock knitting fan. Despite seeing tons of amazing, colour explosions of sock yarns, I have been very conservative in the ones I have actually purchased because I always had in the back of my mind that ultimately I was going to have to knit socks out of it. Now, though, when I look at sock yarn I don’t have any sort of reservations because now I get to use the yarns on this blanket! No more shall I be so careful and moderate in my sock yarn purchases… tee hee!


PATTERN: Zig-a-zig-ahh Socks

Zig-A-Zig Ahh socks!

Sassy zig zag!

Sassy zig zag!

Toe up sock with a sassy zig-zag up the side. Don’t worry about intarsia in the round or stupidly long carries. This design has neither! The zigzag is all self-contained and lovely, I promise. These socks are easily adaptable to different sizes. (As written it fits a ladies size 7-9 US) And hey! You get to use the heel turning technique of your choosing!

Includes diagrams and detailed instructions, as well as charts for the zig-zag. The pattern is written to be toe-up but I am fairly certain the chart and the technique for the zig-zag could be easily adapted to work as a cuff down.

Click here to

 

Difficulty: 3/10

Impress your friends: 6/10

Skills needed: knit, knit front back (kfb), heel turning, carrying yarn

Yarn: Fingering weight, 200-400 yards (~300 of colour A, ~100 of colour B)

Needle: 3US

 

 


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