Socks on the Road: Bubblegum Painted Skeins

This next yarn doesn’t look like handspun, but I promise you, it is. I started with this fiber, which I dyed using black beans.

I spun it into some beautiful subtle color mixes, but then I made a mistake in finishing, and what little color there was disappeared. I ended up with an solid off-white yarn. Not great for studying color.

So I decided to take a different tack. Using the same dyes as I used to dye the other half of this fiber, I dyed the spun yarn.

I patterned the colors a little differently on the yarn, to see how different they would look. The skein on the right just got one color repeat: red, purple, then pink on a stretched out loop. The skein on the left, I folded the loop in half, so there are two color repeats. To me they didn’t look that different in the skein, but in the knitting, I discovered that the colors in the folded skein bled into and affected each other much more. Now looking back at the picture above, I can see how the skein on the left does not go as deep into blue as the skein on the right. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

These socks accompanied us through Elk Island, and on the beginning of our drive back south that would end in Winnipeg. As I knit, I saw similar rates of striping, and similar pooling around the ankles. I really didn’t realize, until I took pictures of them on Stringbean’s feet, just how differently they had turned out.

The long-repeat skein pooled the blue-purple sections together, along with the red and pink. This is not technically striping, but shallow spiral-pooling that creates a striped effect. It took a little more than two rounds of knitting to go all the way around the loop of color. If the red and pink, which were at opposite ends of the skein, had been colors with more contrast to each other, that would break up that pooling. Or, if instead of dyeing the whole centre of the loop purple, if I had done each side in two contrasting colors, that would have been different as well. If I had a different number of stitches on the needle (I used 48), it would have been different. I’m no dyer, but this was a helpful exercise to see how this particular method of hand-dyeing translated to this particular circumstance of pooling.

The math on the pooling of the short-repeat sock was a little different. The reds lined up with each other, not with the pinks, because one full repeat of color was just a little more than one round of knitting. But the real surprise, when I put the two socks next to each other, was how the short-repeat colorway was so much more muted.

When I made the purple dye, it kind of broke, making the purple section much more blue than I had intended. This shows up in the long-repeat sock. But in the short-repeat sock, the blue mixed with the neighboring red and pink, and so turned back purple. The resulting colorway is actually analogous (three slots on the color wheel) while the other is nearly-analogous (four slots on the color wheel). The pink and red are really the same on both socks. But the contrast of the blue makes the red and pink pop much more.

Stringbean finds this mystery fibre a little scratchy, but she’s been wearing the socks, even now that we’re home. I’m hoping she wears both pairs of bubblegum socks fairly evenly, so we can see which yarn structure wears better. The two-ply socks are on the left below, three-ply on the right. The 2-ply was a little thicker, but both were knitted at the same gauge on US 0s. I’ll report back when we find our first hole! Any bets?

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