A while ago I knitted a pair of socks in some lovely yarn and used a gorgeous pattern too. One thing I learned from those socks is I have to control my urge to try and knit socks with an intricate pattern using the wrong handpainted yarn. I’m talking about my Murgrona Socks that I made using Dornröschens Sockenwolle made by Dornroschen-Wolle. As soon as I looked at the photographs of these socks I felt the pattern and yarn did not complement each other. The lovely pattern is ‘lost’ amongst all the colours of the yarn.
A lovely knitter left a comment on my blog post suggesting I read Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol J. Sulcoski. I immediately jumped onto The Book Depository website and purchased this wonderful book.
Handpainted knitting yarns are gorgeous, and can be a lot of fun to work with. But there always seems to be a bit of danger working with them, particularly when it comes to the fear of colour pooling, those strange zigzags, runs and sort of stripes that sometimes happen when working with multicoloured yarn.
Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn begins with a discussion of various methods for hand dyeing yarns, the fibres that are used (most commonly wool) and the broad categories of colours you might find in handpainted yarns. Sulcoski classifies them as mostly solid, muted multis and wild multis, and explains that the more solid and muted colours are best for complex and textured patterns, while the wild colours (and those that have a big range of dark and light values within the skein) are better for simpler projects.
That doesn’t mean you have to use stockinette stitch on every sock worked in bright colours, just that you need to tone down the details a bit when the yarn is attracting a lot of attention to itself.
She spends a good deal of time explaining what colour pooling is, why it might be happening in your work and various things you might do to deal with it.
The book offers 21 patterns and each one indicates which general categories of yarn it works best with, taking some of the guesswork out of pairing up a great looking sock yarn with an effective pattern.
The patterns are mostly sized for women and are ideal for people with a few more basic sock patterns under their belts, because these patterns all use some kind of interesting textured stitch or cable pattern, unusual construction techniques or require other skills to keep you on your toes.
I used the pattern Rib Fantastic, a sock using the stitch pattern of the same name that combines zigzag eyelets and stockinette stitch. However, I’m still not happy with the results as I still feel the short colour repeats of the yarn have overwhelmed the gorgeous pattern.
Here’s a photo of my Murgrona socks (left) besides the Rib Fantastic socks (right).
In hindsight I think I should have used just plain stockinette stitch. Would be interested to know what other sock knitters think. Here’s some more photos of the Rib Fantastic socks. This one shows the zigzag detail of the pattern.
as does this one…
Here’s a pic of the yarn which shows you how different a finished item can be compared to what you see in the skein.
Oh well, life is about living and learning and I guess that applies to knitting socks too!!
The socks will be covered by jeans anyway….it’s not as if I’m going to be walking down the street and someone will yell out….”Look….the yarn in her socks has overwhelmed the pattern….how sad”.
Have a wonderful Sunday. I’ll be having a coffee with my Mum, seeing my son and squeezing in some sock knitting as well.