Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What a Difference a Needle Makes

If you are one of the power, know everything sock knitters, you can mosey on to another block, this one won't interest you. All socks are basically toe increases, length of foot knitting, turn a heel and round and round knitting for the cuff. And most sock knitters can take yarn and needles and turn out pairs of socks that are basically the same size. But if you are like me, where every sock you make is another potential surprise, you may enjoy the tale of these two socks. Both pair are based on the basic sock knitting concepts with 64 total stitches, 32 for the instep concept.
Both socks are knit from handspun yarn, something I talk about doing all the time but in truth have rarely done. There's so many wonderful sock yarns available, and I get the satisfaction of buying yarn for a pair of socks every time I go to a yarn store. So in truth, I have made very few socks from my handspun yarn. These's though are both my handspun yarn.

Both patterns are from a yahoo group called six socks. The blue lacey pair is knit in handspun wool koolaid dyed and were knit with the two socks two circs method. The circular needles used were size 3. They turned out to be a great fit both in and out of my shoes. The wildly colored striped pair were knit with size 0 DPN, knitting one sock at a time. The 'fabric' of the sock is practically already felted, it is so densely packed. They too feel wonderful on my feet, however, they have to be a house sock, the dense fabric will not fit into any shoe. Maybe a boot or clog, but definately not a shoe.

The whole point to this blog is to show that really other than the lacey pattern over the instep of the one pair, there are no other variables to account for such a wildly varying size in the two pairs except for the size of the needles. The size 3 is the right size for the gist of my handspun yarn, whereas the size 0, a 'normal' size for most sock knitting, packs so many rows into the sock that is becomes a different fabric altogether. And that makes a size difference in the actual sock itself. It may not be evident in the photo above, but the stripe socks seem three size larger then the blue socks. They are looser on my foot but not the 'hey these socks are giant' that they look when off the foot. Here's a picture to prove that.

I believe all of these is the result of Murphy's law of the sheep. You know, those bouncy skittery critters that may behave, may flock or may run. Take one of them and all is controllable. Add another, and another, especially in stripes, and things end up out of control. These striped socks just have too much of the sheep in them.

One more thing, I would like to say is I love the cuff concept on the striped socks. It's fun to do and really a different look from other handknit sock patterns. You do it by casting on with yarn that has been used for knitting the last row of the top of the sock (obviously this is only going to work if you are knitting toe up). I used 16 cast on stitches. You just do garter stitch back and forth on those 16 stitches and each time you are at the sock live stitches you knit two together to attach the cuff. Once all the live stitches are used, you can cast off and sew the two cuff edges together. Or you can do as I did, which was pick up the other edge's knit bumps and do a three needle bind off with the two edges. One small end to weave in, and you are done.

The pattern, if made in regular sock yarn can be a great one for using up odds and ends of sock yarn. It is especially cute when done in a childs size, with really tiny bits of leftover sock yarn. You don't even have to be anal like me and make them match :) However I may recommend that you either be a much better sock yarn spinner than I, or use commercial, 'under control' yarn.


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