Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Virgin No Longer

Putting my money where my mouth is, I have embarked upon my quest to make a decent pair of socks from a yarn that doesn't particularly appeal to me.

The Yarn:



I have finally decided to try the Socks that Rock. It's the Rainforest Jasper colourway, light weight, the first selection from last year's sock club. It looks so innocent, this little hank of yarn, but it has earned my designation of a Dugly-Uck for two reasons.

First: I was disappointed when I received this because, despite STR's well-known reputation for flashing and pooling, my first exposure to it is a striping yarn. Even the Queen of the Cool Pool (see here and here) had troubles with this one -- scroll down on that second page to see what I mean. When you accept it for what it is, though, it does stripe quite nicely -- see here. Fine, no fun pooling action; stripes it shall be, and the very best stripes I can make.

Second: The more grievous problem, at least to my eyes, is with the colours. In the hank, they look quite nice, but when knit up , they seem to me to collect into the Very Unfortunate Combination of what appears to be Hospital Wall Green and Diarrhea Brown. I would note all of the selections from last year's club have made their way into Blue Moon's regular rotation -- except this one.

Trying to look on the positive side, though, the colours are not solid. There is a good variation and depth to both the greenish and the brownish. I decided to try to play that up a bit.

The Cuff:

One good way to highlight individual colour spots in a variegated yarn is with slipped stitches. They elongate and draw attention to themselves. The very clever Cable Twist sock pattern from Hello Yarn also lays them on a diagonal, which I think further enhances their effect. This pattern has been on my list of things to do for quite a while, so I was delighted to give it a try.



I think the pattern does a great job of adding little blips of individual colour without obscuring the stripes, while adding a bit of textural interest. I've changed it from a 7-stitch repeat to an 8-stitch repeat to fit my stitch count.



Note: I love working this pattern. It's easy and effective. You know how some people have knit 10 Pomatomus or 12 Monkeys? That's how much I like this pattern. You're likely to see a lot more of it here.

The Heel:

When I want to preserve a particular colour patterning, I generally do a short-row heel because once it's done you're back at your original stitch count and the patterning should continue. However, to fit my foot, I have to do it over two-thirds of the stitches, which leaves only one-third plain on the instep. When I want to maximize an instep pattern, I do a flap and gusset so I can have half of the stitches on the front worked in pattern. The problem with that is that the gusset will distort the colour runs in the yarn and you tend to get something weird going on. I resolved to find a way to get the best of both worlds.

The answer: The band heel. Several patterns on the net use this heel, and Nancy Bush describes one in Folk Socks, I believe. However, it has always seemed a little complicated and cumbersome. I spent a fair bit of time digging through the instructions and simplifying them, and have come up with something that I think works with all stitch counts. (More about that in another post.)

Its big advantage, though, is that you work a flap, shape it, turn the heel, pick up some stitches along the sides of the flap and Presto! you're back at your original stitch count with NO gusset. Any colour weirdness is only on the flap, which is fine by me. It turns out that it fits my foot wonderfully, and you do end up with this cute little band on your heel.



Very cool, indeed.


The Screeching Halt:

I'm back at my original stitch count and, after adjusting my yarn so it resumes at the proper place, both my colour pattern and stitch pattern should continue uninterrupted.

Unfortunately:


... my nice, neat stripes have gone wonky. Crap! I neglected to take into account one Very Important Element.

Here's a test to see if anyone has actually read this far without falling asleep. Do you know where I went wrong? If so, send me an email (address in the side bar) with your answer. I'll put all the correct answers in a hat, draw a name and send the winner a prize. What will the prize be? HA! I'll dig through my stash and send you some guaranteed Dugly-Uck yarn to play with. I dare you to enter!



This calls for drastic action!

Oh, and my thoughts about losing my STR virginity? I am surprised at how thick the fabric is. The yarn certainly feels nice while you're using it, and the socks should end up soft and cushy. Their durability can only be determined after a thorough road test. I'm still confused, though, as to how the light weight and the medium weight can knit up into the same gauge, at least according to the Blue Moon site. I guess I'll have to dig out some ugly medium weight to play with too.

44 people had something to say:

lexa said...

It's too hot here right now for me to think of what went wrong. I'll have to ponder on it awhile and see if I can come up with something to e-mail.

I have two skeins of STR in my stash. So far I've only ever knit a pair of rpms that Aija did for Knitty. (I think it was the medium-weight.) They are very comfy, and I like how they turned out. They have faded a fair bit, and they aren't one of my most-warn pairs. Of course, they always end up in the washer and dryer, too. (Hate hand-washing, but I do have three or four pairs that MUST be hand-washed.) When they were first finished I had decided to hand-wash them. The colorway was Seal Rock, and boy, did that dye run! Lukewarm water turned dark blue/purple. I made sure they were washed alone for the first several washes.

I must say that I do really like the pattern you are knitting, and that heel is quite funky. I've never tried that one before.

Charity said...

All right, I'll take your challenge! My inexpert guess is that your rounds started in a different place in the yarn as your stripes did before. Is that what's causing the wonky stripes?

Kristy said...

I'm interested to learn more about this heel. I prefer heel flaps over short row heels, but the color change can sometimes be quite drastic.

I know the answer to your contest, but I have enough *pretty* sock yarn, and I don't need to complicate my stash with another dugly-uck ;)

Trillian42 said...

OK, I LOVE the way that pattern looks in that yarn (I'm kinda with you on the Dugly Uck-ness of that colorway, though).

And I am definitely going to check out that heel. It looks VERY cool, and since I hate doing the gusset, that might be a great option for me.

I'm guessing it's the difference in the yarn use from the pattern on the top of the foot and the stockinette on the sole that is messing up the pretty stripies. Bummer.

Nora said...

Oh, Dave! OH. DAVE!

(I have 3 hanks of STR. They are destined for scarves.)

PS: I think I'll take you up on your challenge. I have some OPAL (yes, Opal) sock yarn that stripes like that. Blue and white...

Leslie - knitting therapist said...

Well, I like Ugly Ducks - and I like your socks.
Poor baby, you screwed up when you changed stitches. By making half the foot (at least) in stst and the rest in pattern, you changed the amount of yarn used on each row just enough to shift the dye repeat to equal your diagonal stripes instead of your nice straighter ones before.

Your choice? Suffer with the change, or rip back and put the pattern on the bottom of the foot and walk on the slip cables.

I'd leave it, you don't want the weak point of those slipped sts on the bottom of the foot.
But I DO love the socks. I don't think they look diarrhea-brown at all. Ummm, more tobacco?

'chelle said...

Wild stab in the dark here. Something about the pattern not repeating on the bottom of the foot? I'm somewhat sleep deprived and congested though so I may have no idea what I'm typing about...

Erica said...

I'll play! It's because the gauge between the pattern and the stockinette is different. I really hate it when things get stupidly wonky on the foot. :)

Judy said...

I like the way the leg turned out. I'd be interested in knowing more about this heel, too. Can it be modified to work toe-up? hmmmmm...

Re: STR, I've found that it holds up quite well, but will start to felt after a few washes in the washer/dryer. I always wash mine by hand/dry flat and it wears very well and is very comfortable on the foot.

I know the answer, too, but I think I've got enough dugly-ucks already. :-)

Opal said...

I read through your post twice, but I have no idea as to what went wrong. I'd be really interested in finding out though!

Initially I didn't care for that particular yarn in the hank, but once you knit it up, it started lookin' good to me! Definitely a swan in the making. :-)

Carol said...

No skimming here! Unfortunately, I just broke my sock cherry, as Debi put it. An extra pattern repeat (or 1/2)along the sides of the foot to compensate no for gussets? Regardless, I did click on the links, and if that's their personal STR stash, I'm floored! I drooled.

Angelika said...

I love the way the yarn pools around kinda going along with the pattern.

loribird said...

Well, I'd have to guess that either the change in fabric (from knit-purl patterned all-around to the half-stocking stitch foot) or that the instep increasing messed up your place in the stripy pattern...
For the record, I rather like the socks as their coming out. And yes, the pattern is very good!

Lia said...

Is it the change in gauge swithcing from patterned to plain stockinette?

I have had a heck of a time getting gauge on the medium-weight. I don't see how the medium would make a flexible fabric on size 0's. So I've been keeping my skein around as eye-candy, hoping some magical pattern idea occurs to me.

Susie said...

I'm no heel expert, but I wonder if perhaps you had used an afterthought heel that might have prevented the interruption in the striping...?

And then there's always the second sock too...how's that going to turn out?

KnittySue said...

That is one beautiful sock, I just love the colorway and the pattern. But then I think all your socks rock...you do such a wonderful job and give us so much of the information on construction...Thanks

KnittySue said...

Absolutely love the colorway and pattern...all your socks rock. Love your site.

Donna said...

Well, you're a better man than I am, because the striping would drive me crazy.

For future reference, you might want to file away the Step Above Socks from Knitters Summer 04? - they're entrelac, and they nip the pooling, flashing and striping in the bud. I'm working on a pair of them now.

I know instinctively that the heel would change your stitch pattern, but I can't really tell you why....

PurlingPirate said...

I love that pattern and am very interested in learning more about your heel! (I recently just gifted that same yarn to a friend who had been wanting it ever since I got it in the club.)

Carrie K said...

It's a pretty good looking sock for a dugly uck, I've got to tell you.

Emily said...

I agree with carrie k.

Monika said...

LOVE this pattern with this yarn!

tiennie said...

Very cool leg! The only reason I could think is - is it b/c the sole is st st (not patterned) so less yarn used for the sole?

Angela said...

Awesome socks, the color is so cool!!

Teyani said...

great pattern - but I totally agree about the hospital green and the butt-y brown (heh heh)
I have no idea where it went wrong, perhaps it's just the pooling syndrome?

Dee said...

The pattern was not carried all the way AROUND the foot as it was at the cuff so it changes the amount of yarn used per round. Therefore --- wonky stripes.

I don't think this yarn is Dugly Uck and the pattern is pretty nice.

Stariel said...

I actually liked that color! When I first got it I wasn't a fan, but after knitting the socks (I used the pattern that came with it) I really love them.

Jen said...

I totally see what you mean about the colorway. Yeesh. heh

Did you change stitch count after the heel, is that what happened?? (you can see I learned only so much after my pooling quest haha)

Gina said...

I'll bite... the problem with your striping is because you now have half the stitches in stockinette and the other half in pattern. I can't tell you how many delightfully striped legs have developed weird feet due to an unpatterned sole. Never fear though, that's the part that goes inside your shoe, so it's all good.

jessie said...

I can't think why your stripes would change, but I'm still on the first cup of coffee. I'm afraid I can't get behind the pooling thing as it just looks wonky to my eye. ("Wonky," a word that we readers-of-British-knitblogs adopt as our own.)

Cool socks, though. Congratulations on overcoming your aversion to the colors. They do actually work together.

limedragon :-: Harriet said...

Heh, that colorway was my first STR too... wasn't that impressed at first, but once knit, loved the colors. They're my most worn pair (as in I wear them, they have no holes so far after 1.5 years). Thanks for the band heel post, can't wait to try it out. : )

Kris said...

I've knit with both lightweight and mediumweight. I have never figured out why they're listed as the same gauge, or why the sock club patterns that use the mediumweight insist on having the same stitch count as lightweight. I normally knit a lightweight sock over 64 stitches, medium over 54-ish (so I adjust the club patterns for this).

bradyphrenia said...

even if you have the same stitch count, the heel may have offset where you were in the striping sequence. so if you started knitting in the round again in a different location than you did originally, it may stack up differently, creating the diagonals. at least, i think that's what happened.

i tried STR and i wasn't a big fan. my biggest disappointment has been that even with gentle handwashing, the socks have faded and fuzzed up significantly. maybe you will have better luck.

Kristen said...

Oh, wow! You have no idea how shocked I was to see what that yarn actually knit up into. In the skein it looks like a nice, tranquil pond, not dog poop on a waterslide.

I suspect that knitting stockinette robs you of the texture you get from the twisty stitch pattern. Anytime you twist or cable, you use up a little more yarn than if you were knitting plain st st.

The stitch pattern you chose works very nicely to obscure, or at least distract one from, the weirdness of the stripe colors.

Rachel said...

Congratulations on your deflowering! You did a great job turning ugly duckling yarn into something more or less swanlike.

I'm guessing your pooling patterns changed because each round uses a different amount of yarn now that half the round is in stockinette rather that pattern. That's happened to me, anyway.

'chelle said...

I know I already guessed once, but I thought of something else. Did you decrease to the original number in the pattern instead of your increased number? So 7 sts per cable instead of 8?

FairyGodKnitter said...

Your striping is off because you are no longer knitting fully around in cables, the stockinette bottom is enough to throw your color sequence back into the pool.

FairyGodKnitter said...

Oops, I read the whole post but missed the part about emailing the answer.

Ute said...

Hi Dave,

Okay - I try a comment in English :O)

I was a little frightened when I discovered the link behind the "Queen .." ;O))) and I really got a smile in my face. When I started dying by myself, I would like to get nice stripes and when I was knitting my colors they all were pooling. Therefore my own colors I called "SILLY Socks". In the meantime I love the pooling yarns, cause sometimes the colors appear nicer. But I love stripes too.
I am not sure if I get your problem with the wonderful color Rainforest Jasper right. I think it is because the stripes changes behind the heel - Maybe you started to knit a little looser, that the stripes are getting wider. If you have the chance to reduce the stitches a little (maybe 2) your stripes will getting smaller again. Or you should try to knit stronger (slight smaller needles could have the same effect). My experience with the hand painted yarn are that they are very very sensitive and just damp hands are enough to change the pattern of the yarn.

Hope my writing was not to awful and you could understand!

Your Rainforest Socks look very very good and the pictures of your heel are so wonderful to look at.

Greetings to you
Ute

Elinor said...

Diarrhea brown! I love it! I think I made a sweater out of that a few years ago! Seriously, that would really bother me if I were knitting it only because I'd be staring at it all the time. If I were shopping in a store, I would buy that color because I like it so much. Your perspective is different when the yarn is right in front of you for lots of sock knitting!

fleegle said...

I don't care for STR yarn. I made a pair for Roy and boy, they are hot! The lightweight is just too heavy for feet in Georgia.

I think the ugly colors from unexpected yarn are an invitation to the dyepot. That's where all mine end up! (I um, have a LOT of black yarn).

Courtney said...

I love STR, but this skein has been sitting around in my stash for over a year. Unfortunately, your diarrhea brown and hospital wall green description is a perfect fit.

Joyce said...

Ah, trying to get me to stop finishing non-sock projects to cast on yet another pair!

Difference in gauge between stockinette and pattern can do such wonderful things, eh?

Joyce

MaryBear said...

I intentionally did NOT read the other comments, because I didn't want them to influence my thinking. So, here goes...I think the reason for the change is that you are NO LONGER DOING THE PATTERN, so this would change how much yarn you use on each row, and how the yarn behaves. That's my story and I am sticking to it! *grin*

Crossed fingers! Hope it is the right answer!! LOL