Socks on the Road: Bubblegum 2-Ply

For this trip, I abandoned all other projects, and just brought along handspun sock knitting. These are all the yarns I brought, all but one spun since January. I had no expectations of finishing all nine pairs while we were gone, believe me! But I wanted to have my options open.

Stringbean has run out of wool socks, so I cast on a pair for her first. This pair started out as mystery roving which I hand-painted with food coloring.

I posted about the spinning here, but here’s the short version: It was dyed with four repeats, which I broke in half into two repeats each. For the skein on the right below, I spun across the top, then did a center pull ball, hoping for one big repeat of color. For the skein on the left below, I stripped the roving and broke it into chunks to spin randomly, then plied from a center pull ball for maximum color twisting. You have to use your imagination a bit, but you can kind of see that the skein on the left is kinda more mixty-uppy. But how would it look in the knitting?

I wound the yarn on the day we left, then cast on in the airplane. Since I was not traveling with Stringbean, I had to make a guess about how wide to make the foot, and I was wrong. So I knit this much of the sock twice. The rest was finished in Grasslands Provincial Park and on our long drives across the prairie provinces.

With only a 48-stitch circumference, they worked up very quickly. Now, looking at these socks, can you tell which is which?

The sock on the left above was supposed to be more barber-poled, and the one on the right was supposed to be more lined up. Yet the one on the left looks very clearly and brightly striped! And the one on the left looks so blendy! A true challenge to my hypothesis! I love it! What happened?

The socks on the left could have come out any number of ways, since they were spun randomly. It just so happened that many of the chunks lined up. While there are plenty of barber-poled sections, the lined-up portions really pop, so you don’t notice the barber-poling as much. Also, since there were only two plies, the chances of that lining-up happening were much greater. I love this effect. I don’t know how reproducible it is, but it looks fabulous. Perhaps it was more likely since the color repeats were so regular.

The sock with just one long repeat of color, however, picked up on all the variations in the dye job. Being plied from a center pull ball, the colors didn’t line up perfectly, and they lined up less and less the more I plied. I believe these socks started at the end of my plying, where the colors were least lined up. And while there are big sections of lining up, there are also big sections where the colors overlapped, which significantly shifted the tone. This sock would have had a different feel if I had even started at the other end of the ball! Instead, that pastel mixing dominates, looking so gentle.

This two-ply yarn was fine to work with, and I made sure it was knit down to a firm gauge. We will have to see how the fabric holds up compared to the same fiber spun into a three-ply. Stringbean has orders to report back.

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