Socks from everywhere: Red

Many years ago I had a student whose father was a doctor. He would come along to parents' evenings in his sombre suits that he clearly wore to work, but you could pick him out from the crowd as soon as he sat down as he was partial to alarmingly bright socks, usually in vivid yellows or reds. 

I've done a little research on Ravelry and found that red is far from the most popular colour for socks. Perhaps it's the look-at-me quality that this dad was going for that some knitters shy away from. I would not presume to know, but here are four pairs that caught my eye.

Pattern:  Im Kreis der Familie  by  Regina Satta ; Photo: duesselhexe

Pattern: Im Kreis der Familie by Regina Satta; Photo: duesselhexe

These just look good. The variegation of the Drachenwolle yarn doesn't detract from, or disguise the cabling. Instead it adds depth to the design. The pattern name is In the family circle in English and these fine examples were made by prolific sock knitter Alexandra (duesselhexe on Ravelry).

In looking through thousands of sock projects, I've seen this pattern many times and these, from knitter and designer knittymelissa are good examples. I'm a relative newcomer to colourwork, but like the simplicity of the idea here of the gradual change in colour which works well. It would be a shame to wear shoes with these since the instep colourwork would be hidden from view.

Stephanie van der Linden's designs seem to really stand out from the crowd and could easily have chosen two or three for this post alone. The leafy lace pattern on these Esther socks, made by knittyliciousuk, is accentuated by the hint of sparkle in the Easyknits Twinkle yarn.

This came up as one of the top hits when i went looking for red socks and I couldn't resist putting them in. It's just a fun design that made me smile when I first saw the photos. Maybe these are for you and you can be the one standing out from the crowd with apples on your socks.....

VT

Tips and techniques: Colourwork without the worry

I had planned to put out tips and techniques posts in a logical order. This probably isn't going to happen as I'm not that organised and also because I'm better at writing on a subject that is in my head at that time.

There are vast numbers of colourwork sock designs around, such as Rachel's Alfrick pattern.

I always wondered how you would keep track everything if the floats were hidden in the centre of the tube. The answer of course is that you don't have to. 

Quite simply, you work the sock inside out. It's easier to ensure that the floats don't pull too tight if you can see them, after all. For me, working a tube inside out hasn't ever been a problem as I picked up magic loop a bit wrong. In fact, if someone demanded that I knit the right way out, I'd really struggle. 

There are a couple of ways to flip around your work. The simplest is to work the edging as you normally would and turn the work inside out when you came to the colourwork chart. Or you can do what I do and work magic loop with the cable between me and the tube from the start.  

If you're eagle eyed, you'll have picked up that this isn't a sock, but a sleeve. That doesn't really matter since the idea is the same. What you will notice though is that there are places where I had to carry the yarn across the back of 5 stitches. With everything on show, I can ensure that the floats don't pull too tight, puckering the fabric.

I don't profess to being a colourwork expert and I'm sure there are many people out there with a wealth of expertise, so if you have any tips of your own, please do share.

If colourwork isn't your thing, but you do like cables, there's a KAL for the Sidney and Eugene patterns on the CoopKnits Ravelry group.

Tips and techniques: Reducing the mending burden

I am hard on my socks.

I don't think I particularly mistreat them in any way, but beyond simple wear, I seem to have a habit of snapping the cast-on edge when taking them off or putting them on. To a degree, this is probably something I should expect: I have the dainty ankles of a runner, and the feet of a 6ft tall man, so for socks to stay up, there is literally a tension between keeping the stitch count down at the ankle, but up around the heel. Snapping and swearing are an inevitable consequence.

Having a loving and patient wife who is happy(ish) to mend my socks for me, I possess a few pairs of colourfully repaired socks. 

The big question is though, how do I prevent breaking the socks in the first place while keeping the cast-on stretchy? I think I have one possible answer. In future, when casting on for socks for me, the yarn needs to be held doubled. This should drastically reduce the likelihood of the dread sound of snapping, my contributions to the swear box and the pile of mending.

Have you got another idea to solve this problem?

Wilbert and Orville KAL round-up

The last KAL of 2015 was two patterns from Coop Knits Socks Volume 2: Orville and Wilbert. What you can see from the pictures of the finished socks is how much the yarn used changes the look of the same pattern. 

These pairs of Orvilles were made by, from top to bottom, cvd-aviatrix, MissFrances and writergirl3. You can see how the middle pair were knit with a far less fluffy yarn than the other two, giving a much sharper stitch definition. It could be the differing light conditions in which the photos were taken except.....

These Wilberts, made by, from top to bottom, mandyscragg, writergirl3, have far less variation.

I guess that's one of the fascinating things about knitting: that you're never going to know exactly how things will turn out until you've made a good start.

The randomly selected winners from the KAL are MissFrances, mandyscragg and writergirl3, and yarn winners are agita and cvd-aviatrix. There are other KALs running currently in the CoopKnits Ravelry group. Have a look and join in!

Socks from everywhere: Yellow

Way back in the distant past I was a postgraduate research student. I moved into a house with friends and was horrified to discover, a few days later, that my supervisor's girlfriend was my new next-door neighbour. The adjoining walls weren't all that thick, so I was regularly treated to the fruits of his, hitherto unknown, knowledge of hilarious (to him at least) jokes. The thing is, I never heard the body of the joke, only ever the roared punchline followed by gales of self-congratulatory laughter. Early one Sunday morning I was treated to a cry of, "......... and it was yellow! Ha ha ha!" Ever since, I have not been a fan of the colour. 

It turns out though that the rest of the world seems to disagree with me. So here's a selection of yellow socks: cabled, colourwork, lace and fun patterns.

Pattern: Linesx3 by Jeannie Cartmel; Photo: LizzieLace

Pattern: Linesx3 by Jeannie Cartmel; Photo: LizzieLace

These, made by LizzieLace, caught my eye because of the changes of direction. With the spiralling band, I bet they're snug fitting too.

Pattern: Fibonacci by Stephanie van der Linden; Photo McFrazzled

Pattern: Fibonacci by Stephanie van der Linden; Photo McFrazzled

These, made by McFrazzled, may have made my eyes go a little funny if I looked at then too long, but I do love the overall effect and the fact that the soles are completely different. This picture, with the strong line dividing the motifs, would be a good one to use if trying to explain how socks are constructed to a beginner knitter. 

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A; Photo: Heikku

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A; Photo: Heikku

These look great in the photo and this design was one of the first that Jen knitted. I think it's a great example of a simple idea, well executed to make something special. Heikku made this pair and after last week's post, I wonder what's on her sock blockers.

Pattern: No. 2 Pencil Socks by The Yarn Enabler; Photo: TrishKnits

Pattern: No. 2 Pencil Socks by The Yarn Enabler; Photo: TrishKnits

When I saw how this photo was composed by TrishKnits, I had to smile. It took me back to the couple of years I spent in the US as a kid, always in need of a No. 2 pencil for day to day work, but particularly for tests. I may never make a pair, but I am glad that the design exists.

If you think I've missed out a stunning pair of yellow socks, please do leave a comment.

For the Tree

In a panic about what to get for your child's teacher? Need a bauble for your knitting group's annual decoration swap? Want something classy, but quick to make for your tree?

The mini-stockings from the For the Tree set could be your answer. Re-edited for 2015, pattern instructions for all five come together:

Choose from stranded colourwork, beaded or cabled stockings. Or even better, make all five! Because the projects are relatively small scale, these are a great opportunity to try out something new.

I've been told that I should have a go at the cabled and beaded one on the far right. The trouble is, I've never put beads onto a knitted piece before. Fortunately, Cat Bordhi's YouTube video, featuring Wayne's World stye extreme close-ups, has come to my rescue.

The For the Tree set is available now from the Coop Knits Ravelry store. Be sure to share your progress and photos with the Coop Knits Ravelry group. If you have previously purchased the set, your Ravelry library will have an update waiting for you.