Pattern: Swirl Socks, by Sulafaye
Yarn: One skein of hand-painted merino fingerling (or maybe sport-weight?) wool from Traveling Rhinos, color: Northport, 440 yards. I bought this last year at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn [see the yarn in skein form here]. This year’s fair is coming up again in June, if you’re interested.
Needles: No. 2 Inox DPN, set of 4
Project began/ended: Started March 18, ended April 27, or a little over five weeks.
Notes and Modifications: First off, yarn review: This yarn has a ton of yardage. I had a lot left over, and the legs of the socks are pretty high. It’s also nice and warm and wooly, which I liked. (Koigu, which I used for my Berkeley socks, felt oddly crisp, and un-wool-like. However, Koigu feels great on the feet, so who knows?) The socks seem like they’re be nice for hanging around the house in the winter, or wearing when it gets cold. They’re hand-wash only, which is probably why they’re more wooly feeling than my other socks, and are nice and soft. The bad part about the yarn is that there were definitely spots where you could see that the dyer had tied the yarn in a skein for dying, and so there were white bits that showed up randomly throughout the skein.
As for the pattern, it’s great. It’s a nice way to break up hand-painted yarns, while remaining fairly simple. I also liked the sculptural quality of the raised stitches on a stockinette background. The pattern called for DK yarn and bigger needles, so I followed the instructions for the medium size, with smaller yarn and smaller needles. I think my socks are actually a little too stretched out, so maybe I should have followed the large size instead. Oh well. Also, for some reason, in my right-swirling sock, the traveling stitches that form the swirls were less plump than in the left-swirling sock, though I’m not sure why.
I used the crochet cast-on from Wendy Knits, and I used Cosmic Pluto’s short-row heel instead of the one suggested.
Since I had so much yarn, I made them taller than suggested, and it’s pretty easy to hide the increases under the swirls. I think my increases did end up pulling the fabric a little, as you can see in the top photo. Anyway, if you want to increase, here’s how I did it:
On the first, left-swirling sock: Instead of doing the left twist, as instructed by the pattern, slip the first two stitches on the LH needle off. Reverse them so that the second stitch is closer to the end of the needle, with the first stitch in front; knit in the front and back of this (original second) stitch. Slip purl-wise the next stitch (the original first stitch) onto RH needle. Continue on. (Basically slip one to the left as you’ve been doing, and kfb in the non-slipped stitch.) I increased two stitches per row (in the fatter space between the swirls) over six rows, and then knit plain for a few, and then increased at the same rate over another six rows, etc. I tried it on as a I went along, so it wasn’t super well-planned. I did write down at what rows I increased though, so I could try to match it on the other sock.
On the right-swirling sock, you will need to do a different type of increase, because the kfb gives you a raised bar on the left, which is hidden by the swirl on the first sock. So, on the second sock, what I did is slip the second stitch on the LH needle onto the right needle, and now, ALSO slip the original first stitch (in back of the second) onto the right needle. Now turn your work around, and purl into the front and back of that stitch (which is the closest one on the tip of your now-LH needle/your former RH needle), so that the bar is closest to the swirl. Turn your work back to its regular position, with the stockinette side out. You’ve essentially created a reverse kfb. Continue, bringing the yarn behind the slipped stitch. (This sounds more complicated than it is, and will make more sense if you just do it. I probably should have taken photos, but I didn’t.)
Increasing, particularly on the right-swirling sock, leads to some loose stitches and uneven tension. You will need to adjust the tension (or at least I did.) I learned this from Stitch and Bitch, and it’s is a pretty basic technique, I think, but in case you don’t know how to do it: Pull one arm of the loose stitch out until it is big and floppy. Try to figure out where the stitch connects to (in the case of the swirl, it may be the strip between the “v’s,” rather than the “v”-itself). Yank on the bar or the “v,” and continue along to distribute the tension through the adjoining “v’s,” so that the tension is less noticeably concentrated in one area.
One final non-knitting note. I am rather impressed by how New Yorkers ignore all weirdness around them. Pretty much everyone ignores me when I make Adam take photos of my socks around town–though at the Cherry Blossom Festival last week, one lady was heard to say, “Is that a sock in the tree?”–including when I am wearing my socks (and no shoes) in public places. Maybe they just think we’re odd sock feti*hists or something.