TAMING WILD SOCK YARNS AND USING UP LEFTOVERS

Self stripers, multi-ply color twist yarns, and hand-dyed yarns are lots of fun. There’s a ton of color there to enjoy. But sometimes a vast and unbroken expanse of color play can be boring or can produce some oddly pooled or cluttered results that look nowhere as nice as the yarn did in the skein. That’s why I like to fool around with multicolor yarns, trying to find a way that they play best, or are shown to better advantage. Sometimes it’s not easy (regular readers here know of at least two of my multicolor yarn experiments have landed in the limbo of my Chest of Knitting Horrorstm over the past couple years. But sometimes it is easy.

I finished up a pair of socks as a “chaser” after the vest was done. I used a stash-aged 50g ball of Stahl Wolle Socka Color, in a multistrand twist of maroon, pine, blue, and marigold – #9140, plus another well-aged 50g ball of Patons Kroy Socks in hunter green – #409. While the colors aren’t exact matches, they are close enough to complement each other. Both of these were found in last-ball sales, but several years and many miles apart. Since I need around 80-90g of most fingering weight sock yarns to make a pair, between the two bargain basement balls I had enough to finish and still have leftovers – provided I used more or less equal amounts of each.

My solution was to work heels, toes, and ribbing, plus about a little under a third of the sock’s body in my solid green, plus the remainder in the multicolor. I used very simple seven-row striping repeat, working five rows of multi, and then two rows of solid green (2/7 = about 28% of my sock’s body). I like how the multi is visually broken by the bands of solid green. The end result has at once more contrast and more subtlety than working the whole sock from multi alone, even if I still did contrasting color toes, heels and ribbing.

stripesox.jpg

Of course the other advantage of working simple stripes on socks is to idiot-proof achieving two socks of identical size. It’s very easy to count five row units and two row units. When I had completed ten muticolored stripes, it was time to start the heel, which is much easier than having to count every row or trust in doing a measured or eyeballed estimation of foot length.

So. If you find yourself with odd lots of sock yarn, don’t despair. 100g of fingering weight sock yarn knitting is ample for most socks up to around men’s US shoe size 10.5 or so (slightly smaller if yarn-eating textures are used). You can either work color block style, using up one leftover and then another, or you can stripe. But how wide to make the stripes?

Heels, toes, and ribbing in my standard short-rowed heel sock consume about 25g (a conservative estimate). I have large and wide feet for a fem, so if you are knitting for yourself chances are that you use roughly what I do or less. Weigh it out and set it aside. Then weigh the rest of your leftovers. If you have (for example) 40g of blue, 20g of yellow and 20g of green, you’ve got a ratio of 2:1:1. If you worked a stripe repeat conforming to that ratio (let’s say two rows of blue, two rows of yellow, two rows of blue, two rows of green), you should have enough of each color to complete the pair.

Obviously, I had enough and did complete my pair. And I did have leftovers. As expected, I had a bit more of the multi left than I did the green, because my heels, toes, and narrow green stripes added up to about 60% of total yarn consumption.


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