MATCHING SELF STRIPING SOCKS
Want to produce two identical socks when you knit with a self-striping colourway? Faye Perriam-Reed shows us how
FOR SOME reason I don’t like self-striping socks that don’t match up. I know it’s more economical to just keep going with the ball and not to worry about it, but I like my stripes to match perfectly on each sock!
I also like to use a nice stretchy cast-on method, such as the long-tail cast-on over two needles, or the German twisted cast-on. Both of these can be tricky when you want to start a self-striping ball in the same place, because you won’t start the cast-on at the beginning of the yarn tail.
Over time, I’ve developed a couple of different methods which work for me. Both require paying attention to where you start the first ball, so both socks will need to be worked with the same method. Note that the patterns I use for these socks are a standard cuff-down sock with a heel flap; however, any pattern should work so long as no cutting of the yarn is required part-way through, and the same number of stitches and rows are worked in the heel and the gusset on both socks. THE MEASURING METHOD 1 Cut the yarn at the beginning of a new colour change. 2 Holding the cut end between your left thumb and forefinger and keeping hold of the working yarn in your right hand, reach your arm out as far as it will go to the left side, and bring the ball end of the yarn up to your shoulder bone on the right side. This is where you will make a slipknot for the first stitch. (Note that on me, this measurement is approximately 93cm and has been used to make many differentsized socks for my family and friends.) THE LAZY METHOD 3 Recently I’ve found I’ve been using this method - bear in mind, though, that the cast-on round will be a different colour to the next round, and that might not be for everyone. If, however, your yarn changes colour quite rapidly, you won’t notice this. 4 Find a colour change in the yarn where you want to begin the cuff - at least a metre away from the end of the yarn - and make the slipknot for the first stitch here. 5 Use the two different-coloured ends to work the long-tail or German twisted cast-on, making sure that the yarn going over your thumb is the tail end, which will produce the cast-on in a different colour. MAKING THE FIRST SOCK Make the first sock as per the pattern, ensuring you make every change in the pattern at the beginning of a new colour change - for example, when you stop working the cuff and begin the leg ( 6), and when you stop the leg and begin the heel ( 7). After the heel you can’t be so accurate, but providing you are following the same pattern and your tension is the same for both socks, this shouldn’t be a problem. 8 Start the toe shaping at the beginning of a new colour change, too, then complete the sock as you normally would. MAKING THE SECOND SOCK When you come to make the second sock, look at where the colour pattern finished in the first sock. Chances are, the stripes at the beginning of the toe are the same stripes as the ones at the beginning of the cuff, so you’ll need to unwind some from the ball until you reach the beginning of the repeat again. Go slowly, paying attention to each colour change to make sure it matches up with the pattern on the first sock, and cut the yarn according to the method you used in the first sock so you begin in the same place. If you can’t remember, just check the cast-on row of the first sock to see if it is a different colour to the next row. If it is, you used the lazy method; if it isn’t, then you used the measuring method.
Once you’ve determined where to start in the ball, begin the cuff, double-checking as you go that it does indeed match the first sock. (If it doesn’t, there should be plenty of yarn left in the ball to wind off to the beginning of the next colour repeat, unless you are using balls smaller than 100g or are making particularly large socks.)
Keep checking against the first sock until the cuff is complete. You should be able to tell from the first sock at which colour change to begin the leg and heel flap. Once the heel has been turned and you are working the gusset, check everything is still correct - it should be if your tension matches! Then keep going until the toe, changing for the decreases at the same colour change, and completing as per the first sock.
About our expert Faye Perriam-Reed is a designer and technical editor of The Knitter. She enjoys exploring how different techniques can be used to achieve neater results.