A few weeks ago I mentioned that I planned to do some sock knitting for the Warm Hands Network, and with these Vanilla Bean Striped Socks I've made a start.
In the Vanilla Bean pattern the transitions between colours in self-striping yarns are made a bit more interesting by slipping every other stitch for a round. It's a simple little thing but strangely effective. Other than that the socks are plain stockinette with the knitter's choice of heel.
I chose an afterthought heel - gotta keep those stripes uninterrupted across the instep! At the same time I was thinking that was my best strategy to use every inch of this yarn. I bought it from the sale bin - it had been marked down as a lightweight/short yardage pair of skeins. My thinking was to start with 66 sts, work cuff down, start the toe with six colour stripes left on the skein, leaving myself with three colour stripes for the heel. And that's exactly how it worked - less than a yard left on each skein and a generously sized pair of socks as a result!
For those not familiar with the afterthought heel, you can read more about it on the Yarn Harlot's blog. You start by knitting tube socks toe-up or cuff-down just as you like. Then you decide where to locate your heel and use the smallest needle you own to pick up stitches for one side of the heel (usually half your total stitch count, and definitely aligned to your toe shaping). Next, pull up a stitch in the row below somewhere near the middle and snip that row open. Finally, pick up the stitches in the row below your snipped stitch and start unravelling the cut row in each direction picking up the bottom stitches. Et voilà, you have an opening to insert your heel!
If you haven't done it before it can be a bit scary - especially that cutting your knitting part - but it's much easier to do than to describe. And besides the fact that it creates three more ends to weave in, it works beautifully. It is helpful if your yarn is light coloured, and smooth with good stitch definition so that you can clearly see which loops to pick up. Chances are some of the picked up stitches will wind up backwards on your needles, so be prepared to watch which way they're mounted and be prepared to twist'em back on that first heel round.
The finished socks are not very complicated or tricky, but they are bright, colourful and fun! So fun in fact that I've already cast on another pair. This time around I'm knitting a colourway called "Rock, Paper, Scissors" and working toe-up. Once again the yarn was plucked from the sale bin, and once again they're lightweight/short yardage skeins. These skeins weren't much short though - at 95 grams I figure there's plenty of yarn to knit a pair on 70 sts this time.
The organizer of the Warm Hands Network is based in Ottawa, so I plan to finish up this second pair before we head to Ottawa next weekend for a family visit. Why not save the shipping costs and drop them off in person, right?
And with that out of the way, and with several hours of car knitting time in my future, maybe I'll have a whack of progress to show you on Rhombus socks next week?!