Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Lacy Koigu Socks
These socks were made on a whim. I ran across the yarn and fell in love with the colorway (I have a weakness for purple). So I stretched the budget to accommodate the purchase during September.
Then the weather began to turn cold. Suddenly I didn’t have nearly enough warm socks. Wear and a general lack of knitting time have brought my own personal sock collection down to an unacceptable 3 pairs. I decided I could take a break from the Christmas knitting to make a pair of socks; after all, I needed them!
I looked over the yarn as I wound it into center-pull balls with swift and ball-winder. Lovely stuff. Short color repeats, all in rich shades of purple, with occasional specks of white where the skeins were tied just a bit too tightly during the dyeing process. Lovely soft yarn, but firmly spun to make stitch definition excellent.
Time to try sampling for a fabric. Size 3 needles gave a nice vest fabric, but too flimsy for socks. Size 1’s were just right, yielding a fabric of 7 stitches per inch – firm but soft, especially after washing. A certain amount of bleeding was obvious when the sample was washed, but that isn’t unusual with deep color saturation. I don’t plan to mix any other yarn with this, and the socks will be hand-washed, so a little bleeding won’t matter.
The stitch choice process was next. A braided or cable rib might work – or the intricacies might just get lost in the colors. I sampled a braided rib and ripped it back out. It just looked lumpy. What about a lace rib? Sampled and frogged. I liked the holes, but not the ribbing. OK, a compromise is in order. Put ribbing at the top to hold up the socks, then after a couple of inches switch over to a lace design interspersed with purl stitches to create some grab. Dig through all my books to find a lace pattern of somewhere between 3 and 10 stitches that I like. Nothing. Maybe I missed something…leaf through the books again. Nope – nothing appealing.
All right, how hard can this be? It’s just holes, and I should be able to put them wherever I want, right? Right! OK, where’s the graph paper. A triangular pattern of holes with knit 2 togethers to maintain the stitch count. A plain row between each pattern row for simplicity in knitting. I don’t want the funky-looking yarn overs you get when you put them right next to a purl stitch. I do want “wings” coming up my leg from the ankle. Play with the pencil a bit…here, this should work!
Here is my very own “Triangle Sock Lace” pattern, shown as knitted in the round. Almost certainly an unvention, but I made it up myself, so I get to name it. You’re welcome to use it. Modification into an all-over pattern would be easy, either as an insertion or offset as a lace fabric, either with or without the purl stitches. With the purl stitches it’s a 9-stitch repeat; without them, it’s a 7-stitch repeat. To offset, you would probably make it a 12-stitch repeat, leaving out the purl stitches and the additional knit stitch between repeats.
+ + + + + + + - - Row6
+ o \ + \ o + - - Row 5
+ + + + + + + - - Row 4
+ + o v o + + - - Row 3
+ + + + + + + - - Row 2
+ + \ o + + + - - Row 1
+ is a knit stitch; - = purl; o = yarn over; \ = knit 2 together; v = slip 1, knit 2 together, psso (double decrease).
Blogger doesn't like tables, so the spacing in the stitch chart is a bit strange - but if you check closely you'll see that there are 9 stitches in each row. Of course, when knitting flat you would purl the even-numbered rows, knitting the back side of the purl stitches. But doesn’t it look nice in the round? The pattern yarn-overs make nicely-defined holes at the 7 stitches per inch stockinette gauge of the Koigu yarn, and don’t get lost in the color changes. The purl stitches help the socks hug the leg and foot nicely, and I continued the pattern down the top of the foot, as you can see.
By the way, for you new knitters out there: the lace pattern changes the gauge. Over stockinette with size 1 needles the gauge is, as stated above, 7 stitches per inch. A 9-stitch repeat over the pattern, however, measures 1.5 inches, or 6 stitches per inch. So instead of casting on 56 or 60 stitches, I cast on 52, increasing to 54 stitches on the first round after the ribbing. The socks fit perfectly. Did I do another sample to test this? Of course I did! But I frogged it back out in order to have the extra yarn, so I can’t show it to you.
I’ll watch these socks carefully, though. At a gauge of 6 stitches per inch over the pattern they may not wear as well as I would like. But they’re pretty, warm, and only took a week away from my Christmas knitting.