Socks: Letting the Yarn Speak

I love knitting socks. I caught the bug a few years ago, and since then I’ve knit quite a few pairs of them. I’ve also acquired quite a large number of skeins and balls of sock yarn in all sorts of colours and fibres. They are the perfect impulse buy – pretty, soft, and useful because 100 grams will make a pair of socks. The hard part is deciding which pattern to make with which yarn.

Veil of Rosebuds socks 9

A while ago I bought a copy of the The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes. It has a lot of very interesting information about yarn, specifically yarn for making socks. I learned a lot about the properties of different fibres and how to make the best use of them. When I decided to make socks with some yarn containing both wool and silk, I chose a pattern written specifically for yarn with silk in it – Veil of Rosebuds by Anne Hanson. The pattern stitch is really stretchy.

Veil of Rosebuds socks  2

My gauge using the 2.25 mm needles specified in the pattern was tighter than the designer’s, so I decided to make the large size. In retrospect, I realized that I didn’t need to do that. The stretchiness of the lace pattern stitch would have made the medium size fit my size 7.5 foot well. However, even in the large size they fit well enough. I modified the pattern by knitting a heel with flap and gusset, instead of a short row heel.

The yarn is Jawoll Silk by Lang Yarns. It contains 55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk, and is very nice to work with. The ball came with a spool of nylon reinforcing thread that I didn’t use. The unhappy surprise was that the 100 gram weight of the ball included the weight of the reinforcing thread. The yarn itself weighed only 93 grams. That was still enough for me to make a pair of socks, but it could be an issue for people with bigger feet.

For my next pair, I grabbed a ball of self-striping yarn by Schoeller+Stahl called Fortissima Socka Mexiko Color. This time the yarn demanded making a very simple sock – it’s just too busy for much else. I knit this one on 2.25 mm needles, with a cuff of 3×3 ribbing, and a flap heel. Bright and cheery, aren’t they?

Basic sock in Fortissima 1

the details:

First Pattern: Veil of Rosebuds by Anne Hanson, from The Knitter’s Book of Socks by Clara Parkes

Yarn: Jawoll Silk by Lang Yarns (55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk) in colour 130.0098

Needles: 2.5 mm for cuffs, 2.25 mm for the rest.

Sock size: large

Modifications: replaced short-row heel with a heel flap and gusset

Second Pattern: Basic cuff-down socks in stockinette stitch, 66 stitches, with 3×3 ribbing and a heel flap and gusset heel

Yarn: Fortissima Socka Mexiko Color by Schoeller+Stahl (75% wool, 25% nylon) in colour 24 Lilac Brown.

Needles: 2.5 mm for cuffs, 2.25 mm for the rest.

Sock size: medium


More Socks, and the Tour de Fleece

I finished my most recent pair of socks a few weeks ago, and I’m very happy with them. I used the Retro Rib Socks pattern again, but this time with a self-striping yarn from Opal. I think they turned out very nice.


The details:

Pattern: Retro Rib Socks, by Evelyn A. Clark. From the Interweave book Favorite Socks (and Interweave Knits Magazine, Winter 2004). (Ravelry link) in the small (women’s) size. No modifications.

Yarn: Opal Feelings, from Zwerger Garn in colour 1704

Needles: 2.75 mm double pointed

Started: Jan. 23/10  Finished: May 31/10

In other news, I’ve joined a team or three in the Tour de Fleece that’s being hosted on Ravelry. This is a spinning challenge that follows the schedule of the Tour de France, which means that it started yesterday and ends on July 25th. I have pretty modest goals for this challenge, the main one being to spin most of the days of the Tour, and improve my consistency. Well, the real main one is to have some fun. I am spinning on a spindle and have about 300 grams of wool fibre to work through. I don’t expect to get through it all.

In preparation for this event, I did finish spinning and plying the fibre that I’d already been working on. Here are the results:

The Woods in Fall: shown first as a wound ball of single ply, and then as a skein of two ply.



Cara: also show first as single ply, and then as a two ply skein.

Cranberry-single-ply-006 Cara-(Cranberry)-2-ply-008

Both of these were spun from prepared wool top from Shadeyside Farm that I bought at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck in 2008. The colours were called Riverstone and Cranberry respectively. They are the second and third yarns I’ve spun, and I’ve been happy with my progress. Cara is noticeably more uniform than Woods in Fall is. It’s also thinner. The same amount of fibre yielded 48.5 m of Woods in Fall, and 66.4 m of Cara.

As for the names I’ve given them, the first was named for its colour. The second was named for Cara, the character in the tv series Legend of the Seeker. I did most of the spinning of this yarn while watching recorded episodes of the show on the DVR. Cara is a warrior, and a Mord Sith, who has pledged to protect the Seeker. She is an interesting character, and she wears red leather, which is why this red yarn is named for her.

I’ll post more on the Tour de Fleece in the coming days.

Fall Leaves Socks

I’ve finished another pair of socks. These are knit from a pattern in Interweave Press’s book, Favorite Socks called Embossed Leaves. In this lovely rust colour, I am calling them Fall Leaves. The pattern is a bit lacy, and looks like leaves running in columns up the foot and leg. It was quick to knit and easy to memorize. I didn’t like the cast-on that the pattern called for, though. I find it fairly tight around the calf. If I was to knit this again, I’d use a regular long-tail cast-on over two needles.

I also ignored the instruction to break the yarn after knitting the heel flap, and begin the instep from a new place – I just kept on knitting as usual, picking up the instep stitches as I went.


The toe shaping is different than usual, and makes a nice rounded toe that compliments the leaves in the pattern.


The yarn is a one-of-a-kind (well, technically two-of-a-kind, both of which I bought) colourway of FlockSock sock yarn from Holiday Yarns that I picked up last fall in Rhinebeck. This is the second pair of socks I’ve knit from this yarn, the first being Baroque in Blue. I like working with it a lot – it has a nice, tight twist and shows stitches well. It softens nicely with washing, holds its colour, and wears well. The skeins are generous in size, too.

Here is another view of both socks.


The details:

Pattern: Embossed Leaves, by Monica Schmidt, from Favorite Socks, Interweave Press. (Ravelry link)

Modifications: I did not break the yarn at the heel – I just kept knitting, picking up the stitches along the left side of heel flap first. If you do this, it’s important to note which needles are 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Needles 3 and 4 hold the patterned stitches) when you start knitting the instep and foot.

Yarn: Holiday Yarns FlockSock sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon, in a one-of-a-kind colourway, purchased at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.

Needles: 2.75 mm