Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Socks

Oooh, my freezing toes! I spent the solstice planning a workshop on the use of the feet and floor in dance, and it made me start to think about Norwegian-style stranded colourwork socks to lounge about in. I found several designs by Drops, but decided to have a go at these using some of my acrylic DK stash, just to see how the yarn performed and to practise my stranding technique. Instead of the traditonal red and off-white shown on the pattern, I went for blue and cream.
Apart from the fun of the colourwork patterns, DK knits up so quickly compared to 4 ply! Once I got to the solid-colour foot, I was wizzing along and knitted a pair of socks in a couple of sessions. Unhappy with my sloppy stranding, as well as a noticeable 'jog' (discontinuity in the pattern) between rounds, I frogged my first attempt at the colourwork. Various YouTube videos provided guidance on stranding techniques and advice on how to avoid the jog. While my stranding was easy to tidy up, I'm still not jogless, although I've tried lifting the first stitch of the second row, tightening the last and leaving the first stitches loose, knitting the first stitch twice ... they might work with thick stripes, but I need to find out more and think about how to manage this with more intricate patterns. One piece of advice was just not to worry about it, on the basis that once you've pulled the stitches about to block the item or wear it, it will look a bit more even.

Even with tidier stranding, my tension tightens a bit over colourwork, so I went up a needle size with the decrease for the leg after the cuff, for ease. I tried these on once they were finished, and on my chunky ankles and legs, I think I would need to go up a needle size again.

Pattern and modifications summary:
Cast on 56 sts with blue on 4 x 3.75 mm dpns (14 sts/needle)
knit 1 round  blue
knit 1 round  cream
12 r k2,p2 rib in cream
Change to 3 x 4 mm needles for decrease round (k5, k2tog) 8 times, leaving 48 sts (16sts/needle)
knit 1 round in cream before working chart A.
Redistribute stitches (without working) by popping the last 3 from needle 1 and the first 3 from needle 3 onto needle 2,  to leave 22 on instep (needle 2) and a total of 26 for heel.
Knit needle 1 sts and turn to start the heel flap on a purl (WS) row.
13 rows heel flap
Heel decreases (square heel) worked well, neat and no holes. Knit across needle 1 and pick up 11, work instep, pick up 11.
Knit a round after the pick-up round, putting the last stitch of needle 1 and first of needle 3 onto needle 2 to get 24 sts on instep and count this as foot round 1
Start gusset decreases on the next round 2 and on rounds 4 and 6.
Foot total 40 rounds before working toe decreases, leaving a total of 8 sts for the gathered toe. (I’ve changed my mind about gathered toes - it looks very neat.) Foot length is just about 24 cm, so size 38/39.

Working on these socks reminded me that I was going to write a post comparing the various makes of acrylic DK I had used on the colour sampler blanket, because I noticed significant differences. So it was on these socks; the cream acrylic was Woolcraft New Fashion DK, a whole ball left over from the colour-play crochet blanket. It's quite thick for a DK and a little coarse and fuzzy. I'm not sure I would use it for socks again - the legs on these can almost stand up by themselves. The blue is Hayfield Bonus DK 'Sapphire', which is thinner and softer, and rather lovely because the colour isn't quite solid. Although the foot length is right for me, the ankle/leg width isn't, so I'll offer these for sale at my Dancing Feet Workshop.

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