Opalicious

After complaining a bit about Opal sock yarn when I was working on the Opal Clouds Socks, I started another pair of socks in, you guessed it, Opal sock yarn. This time, it’s Opal Elemente, which is a more classic Opal colorway. This is the reason so many sock knitters like Opal.

Look at those gorgeous colors!

The pattern is Adrienne Ku’s Skyp Rib Socks (free Ravelry download here)

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The Skyp Rib Socks done in two colors

with a few modifications. I cast on 72 stitches, did 20 rounds of 2 x 1 cuff, and turned a Fish Lips Kiss heel.

The Fish Lips Kiss heel fits me perfectly.

I’ll finish off with a round toe instead of a wedge toe because a round toe just fits me better. And, of course, I am knitting the sock in just one color.

I’m using one of my new Hiya Hiya sock needles, 2.5mm, and I must say that I like this needle a lot. The points are very sharp, which I like, and the cables are flexible without being too floppy. And the length of the cable is perfect for doing Magic Loop. I think I like the Chiao Goo Red Lace needles just a teeny, tiny, little bit better than the Hiya Hiyas, but it’s really six of one, a half-dozen of the other.

I’m happy with the yarn, happy with the needles, happy with the pattern. Life is good.

Pretty Yarn, Ugly Socks

You remember August, don’t you? Back in August of last year, I posted this picture of the first sock of a pair I had started using some Opal sock yarn from deep in my stash.

The leg unstretched

The leg unstretched

I mentioned that I thought the yarn was supposed to look like clouds in a blue sky, but although the yarn looks beautiful in the ball, when knitted up it isn’t all that attractive. The leg of the sock doesn’t look much better when stretched.

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

At first the yarn did knit up looking sort of like clouds in a blue sky if you really wind up your imagination, but the patterning changed as I continued knitting the leg, and then it changed again when I got to the heel and foot, probably because while the instep was still ribbed, the sole was stocking stitch. Purl stitches use a teeny tiny bit more yarn than knit stitches, and that difference is enough to change the way the colors stack up. And naturally, the second sock looks a lot different from the first.

The legs of the socks don’t look like they were knitted from the same yarn, do they.

You’d never guess that both these socks were knitted with the same yarn on the same needles with the same stitch count and same gauge.

First sock is on the left, second sock is on the right.

I guess I knitted the leg of the second sock slightly looser (or maybe tighter) than the first sock. Notice that on the first sock, the patterning changes from looking a little bit like clouds in a blue sky to ugly flashing. I loathe flashing, which is that zig-zag type of pooling that often occurs on handpainted or space-dyed yarn with short color repeats. On the leg of the second sock, the colors just spiral around the sock. I much prefer the spiraling that you see on the leg of the second sock to the flashing on the first sock.

I worked a Fish Lips Kiss heel, which is a short-row heel that fits me better than any other heel I have worked, and it’s easy to knit, too. The great fit makes up for the lack of aesthetic value. I can live with the turning stitches not being very pretty when it means having a perfect fit.

The Fish Lips Kiss heel fits great, but it isn't especially attractive.

The Fish Lips Kiss heel fits great, but it isn’t especially attractive.

The feet of the socks look pretty decent. The yarn pattern didn’t spiral, nor did it flash. While the top part of these socks is flat-out ugly, the bottom part is only semi-ugly. I think they actually turned out the way the yarn supposed to look.

Does the patterning on the feet look like clouds in a blue sky to you?

Once upon a time I was quite enamored of Opal sock yarn, and I have quite a bit of it in deep stash. But that was back in the 1990s. After knitting a few pairs of socks in Opal, I finally realized that while the Opal colorways look really pretty in the ball, when they are knitted up they all too often are just a hot mess. And the yarn itself isn’t that great. It’s a little rough and not that pleasant to knit with.  I am so over Opal. What took me so long?

 

The Syncopated Alpaca Socks

It’s another Finished Object Friday, and although the Tour de Fleece is in full swing, the FO I am sharing with you today is not a spinning or plying project. It’s a pair of socks.

I call these socks The Syncopated Alpaca Socks because they are my take on Mary Henninger’s Syncopation Socks and are knitted in a scrumptious alpaca yarn from Berroco, Ultra Alpaca Fine. There was no color number or name on the label, so I have no idea what the color is called. I only know that my pictures don’t do it justice.

The Syncopated Alpaca Socks in all their glory!

The original Syncopation Socks are knitted toe-up with a gusset heel. I knitted mine cuff-down with a short row heel and finished them off with a round toe.

For the heel, I gave the Fish Lips Kiss Heel a try. I didn’t do all the measuring, nor did I make the cardboard cut-out because it simply didn’t seem necessary. Since I was knitting the socks cuff down, I simply started the heel when the leg of the sock was the length I wanted it to be. The FLKH is knitted with an inch of plain knitting on the heel stitches of the sock while maintaining the patterning on the instep stitches before beginning the short rows. This is a matter of aesthetics and is something I have done in the past when knitting my usual short-row heels.

The FLKH uses a method for making short rows that doesn’t involve wrapping stitches. Instead, you manipulate stitches from the row below the working stitch, which gives you a pair of stitches that are eventually knitted or purled together. These are called “twin stitches,” and this method of making short rows is sometimes called shadow wrap or shadow twin short rows. When all the decrease and increase rows have been worked, you end up with a very nicely-shaped and well-fitting heel. Sadly, the line of short row stitches isn’t very attractive.

My Fish Lips Kiss Heel close up.

This heel design really does fit better than any other short-row heel I have tried. I normally knit short-row heels on 60% of the stitches on my needles in order to accommodate my high instep. However, I worked this heel on just 50% of the stitches, and it fits me better than any heel I have ever tried. I think the secret is that the way the short rows are worked, you end up with an extra round between the decrease rows and the increase rows. This creates a more rounded heel pocket and hence a better fit.

Although I really don’t like the appearance of the short rows themselves, the fantastic fit more than makes up for the ugly. This is definitely my new go-to short row heel. I’ll take fit over beauty anytime when it comes to my feet. 🙂