Using Gradients: Socks

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Stripy Socks

Making stripes in socks can be a challenge, unless you’re very familiar with the jogless jog technique, so clever knitters and yarnmakers have come up with lots of ways to create stripes using the yarn itself! Different yarns are made to give different striping effects, from just a few stitches of each color to long-striping yarns with just a few color changes.  We’ll focus on long-striping yarns in gradients today.

Gradients

The short answer for gradients and socks is: yes! A long-striping gradient (with say, 4-7 color changes over the whole sock) will show off any pattern just fine.  The length of the color blocks within the gradient should make it possible to see lace, cable or other patterning without visually breaking it up too much. Any repetitive stitch pattern  responds well to gradients.

Some favorite sock patterns to try:

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, by Erica Lueders

Monkey, by Cookie A.

Jeck and Zora, by Regina Satta, available as free Ravelry downloads

Nutkin, by Beth LaPensee,  from Knitzi.com

Spring Forward, by Linda Welch, from Knitty, Summer 2008

BFF sock, by Cookie A., from Knit.Sock.Love

Cuff-Down Socks

Because gradients themselves are so much fun to work, you may want to just stick with a basic, vanilla sock recipe to watch the colors unfold.

Sock recipes:

How I Make My Socks, by Susan B Anderson (on her blog)

Sock recipe: A Good Plain Sock, by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, from Knitting Rules

Basic Sock Pattern, by Ann Budd, in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns

Choose Colors to Highlight Your Pattern

As with any yarn, the more subtle the stitch pattern, the better it will respond to a light color. Part of the reason textured Aran sweaters looks so great is their traditional cream color! So, if your heart desires a subtle knit-purl textured diamond pattern, you would be well-advised to choose a pale-blue-to-gray gradient over a maroon-to-black gradient.

Loving Lace

Very deep browns, blacks or navy are a hard sell for any textured pattern, but a graphic lace pattern will make any color look great.

Patterns to try:

Hedera, by Cookie A., from Knit.Sock.Love

Cadence Socks, by verybusymonkey, available as a free Ravelry download

Embossed Leaves, by Mona Schmidt, from Favorite Socks

The Secret Fan, by Adrienne Fong, from Bellybuttonknits Designs

Blackrose Socks, by Suzi Anvin, from Knitty, Winter 2008

Duckies, by Samantha Hayes, from Aquaknits site

Toe-Up Socks

Many of you are more familiar with cuff-down sock construction, but toe-up socks allow you to knit until all of your yarn is gone, which helps gradients tremendously.  If you’ve never tried toe-up socks before, I urge you to give it a go! You can try them on as you work, no grafting is needed, and you’ll get to enjoy every stitch of your gradient.

Patterns to try:

Gusset Heel Basic Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, Socks from the Toe Up

Diagonal Lace Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, Socks from the Toe Up

Serpentine Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, from Socks from the Toe Up

Skew, by Dana Holden, Knitty, Winter 2009

Mojo, by Donyale Grant, Some Knitting Required site

Socks on a Plane, by Laura Linneman, from La La’s Knits

Crimple, by Michelle Hunter, from Knit Purl Hunter

Firestarter, by Yarnissima, from Yarnissima site

Afterthought Heel

If you do a sock pattern with an Afterthought Heel, your heels will be the same color as the toes of your sock, so you’ll have a gradient with contrasting heel.

Patterns to try:

Afterthought Heel Socks, by Laura Linneman, available as a free Ravelry download from La La’s Knits

Sweetheart Socks, by Nikol Lohr, Knitty Winter 2011

Frick-N-Frack, by Jenny Lee, from Jenny Lee Knits

Watching the colors change makes knitting with gradients go really fast. Have fun!

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Tiny Treads Review and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you wonderful knitters. You make my heart happy.

My mom stopped by this morning to give me this treat; she’s pretty much the Queen of Hearts.

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She got the cookie stamp on her trip to Paris last year and saved it just for today. 🙂

Hope you all have a lovely day full of sweet surprises.

Book Review: Tiny Treads

Knitting socks for kids is such a treat; they don’t take too long and, if you’re lucky, they still think it’s really cool to have handmade things. One child at my kids’ school wears hand-knitted socks every day, and he (and his knitting mom) are a local legend in knitting. This book will give me a leg up on getting my own kids’ feet toasty in superwash!

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Joeli Caparco, who I already know is an excellent pattern writer, since she has edited some of my patterns, fits a lot of content into this book!

Before you cast on, she gives tips on knitting for kids, choosing yarns and washing kids’ socks to get you ready to fit and knit your kids. Size charts are given for both US and European sizes form tiny baby to kids US 7, which almost crosses into adult sizes. She doesn’t choose favorites, instead giving you a recipe for both top-down and toe-up socks, plus 10 patterns for socks, slippers and legwarmers with textured, cabled and lacy stitches to try.

The patterns really do provide a canvas for trying new techniques, from the simple knit-purl of Sandman to the more complicated charted cables of Crooked Styles and lace of Contrary Cockleshells (below).

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The pictures of toddlers on playground structures and chubby baby feet definitely enhance the enjoyment of this graphically-appealing book. Highly recommended for anyone with little feet in their lives!

Thanks so much to Cooperative Press for providing a review copy of Tiny Treads! Photos © 2012, Joeli Caparco, Luke William Johnson and Kate Heppell

Knitters Curiosity Cabinet Giveaway

You may remember designer Hunter Hammersen from her February interview with Knitcircus:

She has generously offered an electronic copy of her new book, the Knitters Curiosity Cabinet, to a lucky Knitcircus reader!

Inspired by Hunter’s discovery of Curiosity Cabinets, a way to display finds from nature and around the world, she’s created 20 patterns inspired by historic botanical prints.

In Hunter’s world, this

inspires a pattern for these

The patterns include 10 socks, and 10 other accessories, including hats, mitts, shawls and cowls, all with Hunter’s signature attention to detail, and worked in delicious-looking independently-made yarns.

To win a copy of the Knitters Curiosity Cabinet e-book, please leave a comment below about any of Hunter’s designs. The winner will be picked on Friday night, March 30th, by Random Number Generator.