Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vanilla Socks

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 voilĂ , 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?!


Caffeine Girl said...

I am amazed at how perfect your stripes match. I know there are lots of advantages to the afterthought heel, but I'm not ready to cut my knitting!

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Great socks - and I love that little slip stitch detail - something to keep in mind for my next pair!

Anonymous said...

They may be plain stockinette socks, but they are FAR from boring! They are such a happy color combo.

Ruth said...

Those socks are so bright and colourful and cheery and the stockinette stitch suits them perfectly. Thanks for the link to the afterthought heel, I'll read up further on it, it all sounded fine until you mentioned that cutting your work part haha that sure is the scary bit.

Lucy Bowen said...

They are gorgeous, beautiful stripes. I've only done an afterthought heel with waste yarn, but I can see how that would work, I may have to try that next!

Christine said...

Eek... Afterthought heel... Good for you for taking that on!

Sam I Am...... said...

Whoa Nellie! Steeking for socks? I am afraid...I am very afraid! LOL! Those socks are darling and I am really liking stripes lately. I'll probably wreck my stripes by not doing that but I am just not ready. Maybe I never will be! Safe trip and happy sock knitting!

Stefanie said...

Whoa! The afterthought heel involves steeking? Didn't know that. I love that electric blue in that color way. They are many different kinds of heels out there. I wish a knitter wrote a comparison chart on them. Sometimes I'm tempted to do what a pin on Pinterest shows, short socks, each with a different heel.