Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dr. Frankensock dissects a sock flat for your benefit

Let's get all biological with the sock "blank." Let's dissect it, examine its parts, see what happens when we do a little Doctor Frankenstein with the dyed flat. The point of this exercise in sockian anatomy is to translate the different potential patterns made in the colors to what it may look like knit up in a sock. Perhaps this will entice you to try a new dyed pattern, or to do a little dissection of your own. Perhaps this will inspire you to try dyeing a sock flat and do something new. Hopefully this information will be interesting. It certainly was super fun to both dye and knit.

To start the lesson, here is a picture of the dyed sock flat. It's a two-strand machine knit flat of fingering weight yarn. The fiber content is 60% Merino superwash, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon. This yarn is sometimes called "Squish" when in a Yarn Hollow skein. The Yarn Hollow flats are sometimes branded as "Sock Religious" - for those devoted to sock knitting. In either the skein or the flat dyed piece, there are 434 yards of yarn, enough for a long, highly patterned sock.

The dye colors were chosen in order to show a lot of contrast in the sections knitted. I used periwinkle, lime, pear, tan, chocolate brown, and indigo.

                                                                                         Yarn, Safety Pin, Life Line

To start a Yarn Hollow sock flat, start with the edge that contains a safety pin that is winding three separate threads: one life line, and the double stranded yarn. Unpin the safety pin and untie the tie securing the three threads. ne thread is going to be obviously a different thread - most likely cotton. This is the lifeline. Gently pull out the lifeline.

Pull out the lifeline

Then find the two strands that are the Merino/Bamboo/Nylon and give a yank. This will start them unravelling from the larger piece. I wind one into a small ball as I unravel and then pin it to the main piece with the safety pin.

Start unravelling

Now, onto the cuff. I cast on 72 stitches on size 1 needle, 24 stitches on each needle, and knit a k2 p2 cuff starting with the lead thread. If you see the color changes at the top of the flat, it starts with lime, then pear, then a little tan, then chocolate brown. Easy peasy.
Top of the sock flat, showing the color changes lime, pear, tan, chocolate, a thin line of tan, and more chocolate

Ribbing, changing from lime, to pear, to tan, to chocolate brown

To show you what white/ecru, undyed spaces can look like knit up, the next section I chose was the periwinkle and white thick vertical stripe with a periwinkle and tan vertical stripe below it. Underneath that is a thick periwinkle stripe. This section comprises the majority of the leg knitting.
In the dyed flat piece

Leg Knit from flat piece shown above
Just below the large periwinkle stripe there is a thin stripe of chocolate brown, which is the last of the straight-knit leg before the heel flap.

For the heel flap, I took the ball I had unravelled and set aside, and separated the strands. This became the heel flap and heel cup. You can see that section in the flat knit piece in the photo above. It is the section that is the second thick brown stripe with a tan stripe underneath. It worked perfectly for the flap and cup.

Heel flap and cup (eye of partridge for flap, 36 stitches, 36 rows)

After the heel flap and cuff, I changed yarn again and started with the section just past the white and indigo diagonal stripe. So to get to that area, I unraveled the white and indigo diagonal stripe into one ball and started knitting with the area just below it. I didn't use the entire section, using the first shorter diagonal section and half of the multi-colored stripes. I really love the blend of periwinkle, lime, pear with hints of tan and brown.


Flat Knit Section for the Instep Decreases                                                       Instep Decreases

Okay, almost done with the dissection. Now I just need to wait for the electrical storm... just kidding...

Seriously, the next section is the straight-knit foot section, which due to the monstrous size of my feet, goes on forever. So I chose the previously-unraveled white and indigo diagonal stripe. It's interesting how the white/ecru area with the indigo make a pattern slightly evocative of arrowheads. See this result inspires me to try different contrasts and larger sections of diagonal striping...

White and Indigo Diagonal Stripes

Pattern slightly evocative of arrowheads

Now for the toe. I changed to the last remaining bit of the knitted, dyed flat piece, in the leopard pattern. It was neat to just knit away on it, watching the colors change on the white/ecru background.

The toe.

Here's the complete sock. I love it!


To quickly go over the details, I cast on 72 stitches on size 1 US (2.25 mm) double pointed needles. The ribbed cuff was about 2-1/2 inches long, the leg about 6 inches long. The heel flap was knit on 36 stitches for 26 rows. I picked up 19 side stitches on each side of the flap. The toe was decreased in a standard 4-section decrease on every other row. The toe was finished with Kitchner stitch on about 10 stitches front and back. I like a wider toe.

Next, two socks knit from Cookie A patterns in which I expound on how much I love her pattern writing. One will be from a Sockreligious flat and the other is from a new yarn, Elemental, with a hint of silver.