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.


Mary-Kay said...

Thanks so much for your comment on the yahoo list. My first brown and pink yarn! My favorite colors together...

By the way, your Blog is Awesome! So many tips, so much knowledge. Something this tomboy (with two girly girl daughters) can figure out.

I didn't say that I was also a new knitter as of September. I've been very obsessive about all of this. Two sweaters, several scarves, and lots of Christmas presents on the needles. Now, I just want to spin my own stuff.

Have a GREAT day! Keep up the good blogging,

jackie said...

yummy yummy socks! I have been trying to get my self around to knitting some socks for myself with some rich yellow,brown,and grey hand dyed yarn from the Fleece Artist. Maybe that will be my new years resolution.