Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Finished Object: A Simple Sock (Made Less Simple)

If you want to take an easy knit and make it difficult, add some striping. Specifically, add stripes to a small diameter tube (i.e. socks). Because, in addition to making sure that you switch up your colours appropriately (and this is somehow harder to remember than you'd imagine), you need to do special things to ensure that your yarn colour will carry up (or else you're going to have to cut the yarn and weave it in at the end). You'll also want to ensure that you won't get a jog at the stitch where the stripes change colour.

I'm not going to go into too much technical detail.
  • Lots of blogs will tell you how to do the jogless jog (just google it). 
  • Lots of blogs will tell you how to carry up your yarn as you switch colours. Intriguingly, the process of wrapping the yarn as you carry up seems to be very personal - and almost a kind of magic. If you wrap in one direction, with one yarn over the other, you'll see the wrong-colour yarn peek through to the front of the work. But there doesn't seem to be any clear way to prevent this. It's person-specific. Trust me, I've read a lot (even the instructions that tell you that there is one way), and they didn't work. You'll be able to do this, but it'll probably take practice (unless you get lucky).
What I am going to do, in this post, is talk about what it's like to make striped socks from 3 different skeins of yarn (having 3 different, solid colours).

Guess I might as well introduce the main event:

Some things to note:
  • I actually did math to ensure that I'd use up every bit of the relevant fingering yarns. I know that I consistently use 75 grams of fingering yarn to make a pair of socks. I had 34g of the Tosh Sock, 25g of the Koigu blue and 16g of Koigu purple. I know. Freaky. (Of course, it would have been easier to have had the same amount of each but c'est la vie.)
  • Alas, this means I couldn't stripe evenly and I actually had to think about how I wanted the striping to pattern out.
  • I messed up on the first sock, which meant I had to improvise a bit. Not sure I love the outcome, but I just ensured to match the second sock, round for round, with the first.
  • Striping with yarns of radically diff colours is challenging, esp. if you're going to carry up more than one strand of yarn per round. What I mean is that, when you have 3 colours in your stripe pattern, that means you are always carrying up 2 colours per round - and that, twisted, vertical line of carry-up yarn can get thick and ropey feeling on the inside of the sock. 
  • Furthermore, dark colours are likely to show through at the join when you switch to the light colour. To carry up 2 strands of dark yarn behind one strand of light yarn is a challenge, no matter what your method. It's the difference between one person to standing behind a narrow wall vs two. You've only got so much wall before you become visible to those on the other side.
  • That's why I opted to cut the yarns and weave in the ends. BUT... This didn't exempt me from needing to wrap the yarns before I switched from one colour to another. Otherwise, I got a little hole where the colours shifted. (That hole can be wrapped and tightened after the fact but it's smoother to close it as you work.)
  • I figure that, if I'd been working with only 2 colours in total  - and my stripes were uniform - and no more than 2-4 rows thick - then carrying up the yarn would have made sense. But to be all over the map with stripe thicknesses AND to have 2 colours to deal with carrying up means that the sock looks and feels better with woven ends. Note: I'm not bad at weaving in ends but I struggle with dupicate stitch (the best method for doing this). I think it may be because I'm left-handed and everything is explained for right-handed people. Usually, I just follow the right-handed method (my brain is fairly plastic like that) but with this particular technique, it's not working so well. I should look up some left-handed techniques online - wonder if there are any... Not that it matters, particularly, cuz I am good at using other methods of weaving in ends. It just bothers me that I haven't been able to get with duplicate stitch as yet.
  • I learned that thicker stripes work better if you're not going to carry up the yarn (i.e. weave in ends afterwards). Those ends take for fucking ever. 
  • Let's talk about one more thing: the jogless jog. To accomplish this, I used the method of lifting and knitting (with the current stitch) the right leg of the stitch below the one I was working, as I began the second round after switching colours. Didn't work so well, IMO, since it's pretty apparent to me where the colour jogs appear on my socks. I sense this has something to do with the fact that my right-legs of stitches were attached to a short strand of yarn (because that colour had just been reattached on the previous round). Good reason, I suppose, to carry up the yarn or to find a better jogless jog method. My stripes are pretty neat, but they're not perfect.
When Will I Do This Again?

Well, not often. If I find myself with @25g of 3 colours of compatible sock yarn OR @37.5g of 2 diff colours, I'll give it another go. Realistically, that's not going to happen frequently. I know I will not stripe with more than 3 colours because I don't love weaving in ends that much - and I do worry about the overall integrity of a sock with too many woven-in joins.

Gotta say, though, I was left with just 4 grams of yarn over three different skeins at the end of this project - so it was a wildly successful stash-buster, if finicky.


  1. They may have been a pain, but they are delightful. You have the patience of a saint and wicked maths skills.

  2. Thank you! They are quite pretty in their own way. But I wish I'd done a better job with the yarn carry-up portion. I guess practice makes perfect :-)

  3. You do know that you are unreasonably hard on yourself, don't you. They are lovely! Perfection is exhausting.