Tag Archives: wedge socks

The lure of multi-colour sock yarn

Basic gusset heel socks in Studioloo Bootsie (elephantgirl)

Basic gusset heel socks in Studioloo Bootsie (elephantgirl)

I just finished these socks in my favourite basic sock pattern, gusset heel basic socks by Wendy Johnson. They were made from impulsively purchased Studioloo Bootsie (yarn spun and dyed by a local artist) in elephantgirl. I loved watching the colours materialize, although I did hope they would pool a little more organically. Admittedly, the stockinette got a little tedious, but I’m a dedicated sock knitter. There’s something very satisfying about wearing a handmade pair, especially in this unseasonably cold and wet weather.

_AWN3315Whenever I drop in to a yarn store without a specific project in mind, I’m inevitably drawn to yarn like this; there’s something irresistible about the skeins of soft, gorgeous, striped, multi-coloured sock yarn.  Nearly every impulse purchase in my stash is a single skein of sock yarn in several saturated hues.

The problem (other than the obvious cost): what to do with them?  When I buy them, I tell myself I will find a choose a challenging new sock pattern, but in reality, most textures look muddy in multi-coloured yarn.  There are some rare exceptions, like Cookie A’s fab wedge socks, but there’s only so many pairs of those I can make.  And so I have a number of flat socks and an even larger number of gorgeous, unused stashed skeins.  What are your favourite patterns for multi-coloured sock yarn? I’d love to hear your suggestions for this part of my stash!

Some of my sock stash: (left to right) Studioloo Bootsie in Birthday Cake, Cascade Heritage Paints in Wild Roses and stashed yarn of unknown origins

Some of my sock stash: (left to right) Studioloo Bootsie in Birthday Cake, Cascade Heritage Paints in Wild Roses and stashed yarn of unknown origins


My wedge socks are done

My third pair of holiday socks are done!  It is now looking increasingly likely that I will not finish the remaining three pairs before Christmas (and I may, gulp, have to brave the mall at the last minute), but I will perservere.  Overall, these socks (Wedge socks from knit. sock. love.) are clever and I love the way the short rows look in multi colour yarn like this.  The socks are worked in a series of short row (back and forth) wedges that give it the garter stitch sections.  The beginning of the row is rotated 180 degrees each time you repeat, so that the thin and thick ends of the wedges alternate.  I have no idea how Cookie A conceives of inventive ideas like this, but I really like it! It’s hard to find a pattern that works well for multicolour yarn, or one that is as co-ed as this one is.

Wedge socks in ONline Supersocke (1167)

Wedge socks in ONline Supersocke (1167)

I did encounter a couple of technical hiccups that I will avoid next time:

1. The garter stitch wedges are really stretchy.  I made these in medium and I’m a tight knitter, and they are easily the biggest socks I’ve ever made.  Make them at least 1 size smaller than you think you need.

2. When I got to the first toe, I was convinced that I had made a mistake, since the pattern made it seem as though the toe short rows should be worked off-center.  I checked ravelry and googled errata, and there is no mention of a typo or mistake in this pattern, so I will assume the mistake was mine.  I’m still not sure if the toe short rows are intentionally off-center here or if I made a mistake when rotating the rows (you mark a new beginning of the round at least 8 times in this pattern, so if you make one mistake, it will be translated all the way down).  Rather than make myself crazy searching for the source of the problem, I just lined the short rows up with sides of the toe (working the toe across the sole stitches) and they look great.  On the second socks, I was much more careful with couting the rotations, but still had the same problem.

3. They absolutely, positively must be blocked. They’re an absolute collapsing mess when they come off your needles.

Musings on a Wedge sock

Wedge sock in Online (colourway 1167)

Wedge sock in ONline supersocke 100 (colourway 1167)

I’m halfway through my third pair of holiday socks, and I’ve come down with a bit of a case of second sock syndrome.  As I cast on my second Wedge sock and flipped through knit. sock. love. to pick a pair for to cast on for my great-aunt, I imagine that I felt a little like Julie Powell felt about Mastering the Art of French Cooking: a heady mixture of awe and inspiration, with more than a touch of stubborn determination to complete the task at hand, no matter how long it takes (because I’m not crazy, right?)

Much like French cooking, sock knitting is the art of making something mundane truely beautiful and special.  Like cooking someone a fantastic meal, the time and care involved in knitting a pair of socks is a way of making something quotidian memorable and fantastic.  And like French cooking, sock knitting has it’s innovators.  These wedge socks are one of the few patterns that has made me stand back and ask, “How did someone come up with that?”  Like moebius knitting or Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket, these socks are not simply a clever variation on an existing pattern – they seem (at least to me) wholly new.

Innovating in knitting is not easy, it involves a deep understanding of knitting as a mathematical discipline, and an ability to craft really lovely clothing that people want to make and give.  It is also not always something that comes with credit: the genius who developped the kitchener stitch (a method for grafting the toe of socks that I used to finish this wedge sock) remains the stuff of urban legend.  Herbert Kitchener, the 1st Earl of Kitchener is credited by wikipedia with devising it for use in Red Cross sock knitting, during the First World War.  However, there is a major lack of evidence to support that; the kitchener stitch, may in fact, have originated on this side of the Atlantic at sometime between the wars.

Before the contemporary era of ravelry and knitting blogs, knitting skills were passed down orally, through families, and so their origins become nearly impossible to trace.  Like me, many knitters still remember their first time picking up needles on their grandmother’s couch or across a well worn kitchen table.  It’s part of what is so appealing to me about knitting – skills and ideas are rarely owned, but shared across generations, so that they can be used and improved.

My grandmother before she passed, and my son (he's wearing a Rocketry Cardigan in Dream in Color that I knit when I was pregnant)

My grandmother before she passed, and my son (he’s wearing a Rocketry Cardigan in Dream in Color that I knit when I was pregnant)

When I knit, I feel like I am in conversation with my departed grandmothers, and the grandmothers that taught them to knit, on and on backwards through a community of women (and men) who took the time to think about how to do things better and differently and who crafted beautiful, practical objects to keep people warm – whether they were for the small children in the backyard or for the young men on far off battlefields in Europe. Today, I’m grateful again, to have had such magnificent grandparents, who continue to share their skills and their wisdom.