Socks and trust

It’s been a while since I successfully knitted a sock, so when I saw there was a sock version of Noro Silk Garden, I ordered one and camped out beside my mailbox until it arrived, then carried it around like a guinea pig for a few days, stroking it and looking for the perfect pattern. (And perfecting my hyperbole. I didn’t really carry it around for days. Only a few hours.)

Eventually I made up my own pattern, but what I’ve realized is that socks require trust.

For the non-knitters, Noro yarns tend to be self-striping, and the colors are quite distinct, with each color showing up once during the skein. I used Noro yarn for these, for example:

It doesn’t matter so much for a hat, but you can see that with a pair of socks, it would be important to line up the stripes. But I wasn’t thinking about that when I cast on. I just did it and hoped for the best.

The socks are turning out great, and I made a lot of progress this weekend while we did epic amounts of driving.

But I’m having trust issues. Because somewhere in the middle of this skein of sock yarn, the colors will go through a second set of repeats.

When you knit a sock from the toe up, which I’ve never done, you can knit the whole foot and then proceed up the leg of the sock until you run out of yarn. But if you start from the top of the sock, you can’t just stop knitting the foot when you run out. That means there’s a lot of prediction in terms of yardage, and yes, I have finished a pair of socks with eighteen inches of yarn remaining. It’s the ragged edge (literally) of knitting disaster. Because with this yarn, not only do I have to finish two socks out of one skein of yarn, but I need to make sure I finish the first sock before we hit the second band of that particular shade of dark green.

Commence driving myself crazy, digging into the center of the skein to find the same color I started with, guessing and re-guessing whether I’ll have enough yarn to reach that point. Counting the remaining color bands until I reach the white-green which signals the end of the half.

And trusting that Noro actually designed their sock yarn so the colors do start over at the halfway point.

And trusting that this skein continues unbroken, without restarting the color patterns in the middle.

I’ve discovered I don’t do trust so well. Particularly not when it’s a pair of socks that will take about twenty hours to knit.


  1. whiskers09092006

    Some thoughts for your sock anxiety: Imperfections are beautiful. We all have them, and they make us who we are. Socks are no different; yours will still be beautiful (and they are, and soft too!) if the stripes don’t match.

    1. philangelus

      THank you. Imperfections in people give texture and quirkiness. Imperfections in socks (well, socks I’ve made) are a blight on the face of creation. 😉 Because as we know, everything I do has to be perfect. (lol)

      I don’t stress about the stripe repeats in socks where they repeat multiple times, like with Kiddo#1’s socks. But I suspect it would look really odd on these wide bands.

      These look so promising, though. It’ll be a shame if they don’t work out.

  2. Cricket

    Linda McCartney wore argyle socks from different pairs.

    In this case, you’re guaranteed to have the colours work well together, even if they’re on different parts of your legs. Roll with it.

    Or you can do as I once did. Wrap the yarn around something large enough that you won’t go crazy, making a tight spiral, until the repeat starts. Continue until you’re sure it’s a real repeat, not just an ABACBCA type thing. Cut and re-ball.

    Or use your nifty new winder very carefully and look at the end to see the pattern repeat.

    Even if you do the extra work of measuring, you should knit the socks at the same time. Your stress that day, the stretchiness of the yarn changing with humidity, and how sweaty your tensioning finger is will mess with things. Do a stripe on one sock, then the same stripe on the other sock. Playing with the tension on the last needle will move the colour-change about 1cm.

    The end result impressed my knitting club, but no one else.

    The socks I let the colours fall where they may are obviously hand-knitted, and therefore impress every non-knitter.