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)

DSC05347_2

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?

 

Nuts To Knots

So, I started a pair of socks in Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, which is a self-striping yarn. The yarn comes in 50g balls, and I wanted the socks to be identical twins, so I was very careful to begin sock #1 at the very start of a color change so that it would be simple to start sock #2 at the exact same place in the color sequence.

I decided on plain 2 x 2 rib socks because–self-striping yarn! Duh! I cast on and had knitted about two inches of the leg, and there it was. A big, old, ugly knot in the yarn. Knots are a fact of life in knitting. Normally they aren’t that big a deal. But this is self-striping yarn, and I’m planning to make the socks match, so this knot definitely throws a spanner in the works.

For the uninitiated, self-striping sock yarn is dyed in such a way that the different colors form stripes as you knit without the knitter having to change to a different yarn of a different color each time and having all those god-awful ends to weave in. When a knot appears, that means the color sequence will be thrown off, and maybe even reversed. If you aren’t going for totally symmetrical socks–and fraternal twins have many charms, I must say–a knot in the yarn isn’t a big deal. But when you want the socks to look the same, it’s a cosmic shake-up.

Fortunately, the knot appeared pretty early in the ball, so I just ripped out what I had knitted to the knot, found the beginning of the next complete color, and started over. I found the joy, for sure. It was smooth sailing all the way to the tip of the toe. No more knots in ball number one. YAY!

Regia Striped Rib Socks sock #1

Regia Striped Rib Socks sock #1

I pulled out the second ball of yarn, found the beginning of the appropriate color repeat, and cast on the second sock. As I knitted on the second sock, I was feeling pretty good because my socks were matching up perfectly. I was knitting along happily, and maybe a little smugly, and had completed about two inches of the leg when–What’s this! Oh, NO! I can’t believe it. Another freaking knot. The knitting gods were definitely not smiling on me.

I had no choice but to take what I had knitted so far off the needles and start all over again. After finding just the right spot in the yarn, I cast on again and started knitting. Thankfully, ball number two had no more knots, either.

Sock #2 is nearly completed.

Sock #2 is nearly completed.

Look at how well the stripes match. :-)

Look at how well the stripes match. 🙂

I would be in my happy place right now if only my knotty story ended here. But, sadly, it continues. This past weekend was my son’s wedding.

My DS and my DIL saying I do!

My DS and my DIL saying I do!

As you know, my son’s GF is most knit-worthy, having received from me numerous hand-knitted socks, a scarf, fingerless mitts, three sweaters, and a lace shawl. I’m very happy to say that she is now officially, legally my DIL. The nuptials were in Pittsburgh, and that meant over 6 hours total on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and that meant I needed a take-along knitting project. The Regia Striped Rib socks were not the optimal choice because they are on double-pointed needles.

I don’t know about you, but when I knit on DPNs in the car, I always, without fail, drop a needle. Not. Good. For car knitting, I much prefer circular knitting because when I drop a needle, it doesn’t go anywhere because it’s, um, attached. Nearly klutz-proof. So shortly before we left for the ‘Burgh, I grabbed a ball of sock yarn and a couple of Ciao Goo lace circulars. I thought I would do two circulars, but I ended up doing magic loop. I have a history of hating magic loop for socks, but I think I’m now in love. Magic Loop works really well with Ciao Goo needles.

At this point, your eyes have probably rolled back into your head, and you are saying to yourself–I thought she was going to tell us more about knots in her yarn. Instead she’s rambling on and on about highways and Magic Loop. Get to the point, already! You do have a point, don’t you?

Fair enough. Here’s my point. DH is driving west on the PA Tpk, and I’m in the passenger seat knitting away on a pair of 2 x 2 rib socks in a really funky Opal color way. I’ve completed nearly two inches of the leg when, there it is. A knot. What’s up with all these knots in my sock yarn?!?!?!?!? At least I didn’t have to worry about this knot disrupting the color pattern on my sock because this yarn knits up to look like bird shit on a blue rug clouds in a blue sky.

The leg unstretched

The leg unstretched

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

The leg stretched on the sock blocker

Hey! I managed to post a couple of WIP for WIP Wednesday! Check out Tami’s blog for more WIP.