Pink cousin, blue cousin

I have a theory: any time it gets a little nasty outside, I finish another snugly project! It’s now been the case three times in a row!

Pattern: Foxglove Master Pattern from Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One.

Needles: Susan Bates Silvalume dpns, US 2. I have two sets of these (8 needles total), so I’m able to knit in the round using 5 needles.

Yarn: Mirasol Hacho #302, 2 skeins (137 yards per 50 gram skein). My gauge on this project was 6 spi and 9 rpi.

I really (really) like this yarn. When I examined the yarn beyond the color (because that’s a very individualized preference), I found a fiber that was soft, resilient, sturdy, and well-balanced. An immense pleasure to knit; two enthusiastic thumbs up!

I saw a discussion on Ravelry the other day: hand-dyed yarn, same dye lot, but noticeable differences between the two skeins – what gives?

Yup, it happens! Look at the photo above: the sock on the left is the pink cousin, and the one on the right is the blue cousin! There are so many more examples… the two skeins used in making the two brioche stitch neck warmers were the same dye lot, but looked different when knit up, and here’s a pair of Lorna’s Laces socks where one striped more than the other. And check out Domesticat’s Malabrigo sweater!

If this is a concern for you, I think there are two potential solutions: first, when purchasing the yarn examine the skeins carefully. When I bought the Marisol Hacho, I picked the two skeins that looked the most alike. There were others which had less of the light blue, or more of the bright pink… I passed them over. Second, if the two skeins are going to be used one after the other (in a sweater, for instance), and you want to avoid huge block of color, you must alternate the skeins!

Anyway, for my grandma’s socks this wasn’t a huge concern, so one is a little more blue, and the other, a little more pink. And now that the socks are done, I think the bright colors appear more subdued than when they were in the skein, so maybe my grandma will like them after all?!?

Here you see the Foxglove trickery: those increases along the instep create roomy space for the ankles. Surprisingly, knitting the second sock wasn’t too much easier than knitting the first. I sailed through the toe and arch expansion, but had to follow the heel instructions with as much diligence as the first time around.

I don’t know… the language just isn’t sticking with me. If you have the book, glance at page 121, “Step 1.” I must have read those paragraphs sixteen gazillion times, and the instructions still makes zero sense to me. I understand that what I’m asked to do is to separate out the sole stitches, and make sure I’m poised in the beginning of those stitches, ready to work them. But… seriously… isn’t there an easier way to say that than what you see in the book?

29 thoughts on “Pink cousin, blue cousin

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  1. Loren T

    As much as I loved the socks in “New Pathways,” I’m with you — I can’t stand the way the book is written. I’ve made two pairs of socks from the book (Spiraling Coriolis and the Milkmaid’s Stockings), and both are great. I hated the cutesy descriptions of things and I especially hated having to jump all over the book to three different places just to turn a freaking heel. But I love the toe-up heel turn/flap technique, and I think the new “architectures” will give me creative sock design inspiration for a long time to come.

  2. Valerie

    I’ve been reading New Pathways at night. Just reading, because I can’t start any socks until I finish all my gift knitting already in progress. As an experienced sock knitter, I keep rereading the heel instructions, looking at the pictures, rerereading the instructions, and going Huh???

    Your socks look great, and I find the subtle differences in the pair very appealing.

  3. alice

    Me three! Much as the finished socks are gorgeous, the organization of the book is problematic. I have an Excel spreadsheet for the master numbers, and I will be photocopying all the stuff I need to flip back and forth to. I wish this were a PDF or something, so I could just click and then hit the back arrow.

  4. nikki

    I know what you mean about the dyed yarn with the same dye lot but noticeable differences between the two skeins. I think its just the nature of handdyed yarn. Even if they were dyed in the same dye session and with the same dye mixture, they are still different skeins of yarn, so they aren’t going to be identical. I’ve even seen socks from the same skein turn out different, too. Thats because, either a) one side of the skein hit the dyepot first prior to stirring, or b) the dye was hand applied with squirt bottles and such, and sometimes one side – or the center of the skein – gets different concentrations of colors than other sections. Its really the beauty of handdyes, I believe. Proof that the yarn was touched by a hand rather then a machine. :)

  5. Roberta

    I transcribed the info for the sock I wanted into one document so I didn’t have to keep paging back and forth in that (disorganized) set of instructions. Once I’d saved and printed that, I could use it again with a lot less hassle. I do still very much admire the elegance of the patterns.

  6. Sarah

    I could never knit those socks! At least not for myself. I haven’t found a sock pattern yet that’s small enough in the ankles/instep for me – but then, I’m not much of a sock knitter. I’m the opposite of you, I’m a sweater girl. And honestly, in the time it would take me to knit a pair of socks, I could knit a sweater instead.

  7. Samina

    Early in my knitting career, I had a pair of socks in which one pooled & one striped. It drove me so crazy that I ended up ripping out the pair!

  8. PaulaRed

    Grumperina, since you managed to figure out the instructions, maybe YOU could write up what you figured out???? for the rest of us??? I agree, I cannot interpret the sections you pointed out, and I am more cautious than you, so haven’t plunged into knitting said sock. Great job!

  9. maryse

    those are adorable socks. and i’m fascinated by the toe-up heel flap construction. short row heels just don’t fit my high instep.

    anyway, i kind of think that part of the fun of hand-dyed yarns is that they aren’t 100% identical from skein to skein. i have 2 skeins of that yarn in my stash. (different color though) it might be time to use it.

  10. Shaina

    One technique for finding “matching” skeins is one my co-worker at my LYS passed onto me: untwist the skeins and then examine the hanks. You’ll be able to examine the color patterning much more clearly then since yarn often looks very different when skeined. (And retwist the skein, please, or we will smite you.)

  11. Michelle

    I am glad I ordered that book I can tell it will be interesting (if infuriating). I see you have another article, congratulations! Grandma will love these new socks, they look well fitted and cuddly.

  12. Sally

    I don’t know if looking at them will help. I bought what I thought was two very similar skeins of Lumpy Bumpy. When I wound them at home one was mostly pink and the other mostly blue. I think they looked almost identical in a skein and totally different wound in a ball. Will knit the more blue one to see if it is still true knit up.

  13. deidra

    I found the having to jump about for the different parts rather difficult but love the way the arch and heels shape up. Having said that, I did do a completely brain-dead mistake. I haven’t been able to master using 2 circles to knit socks before and was very eager to try, so I started with the Little Sky project and somehow missed the big bold Starting With The Leg Cuff part of the instructions-I was way too eager to do a toe-up sock and assumed this was one of those. So I managed to work thru the cast-on and knit and knit, thinking something just didn’t look right and kept going until I got thru 2 pages of instructions and got to the part that said “foot”. Oops. I have a perfect little sock that has no opening–the cuff portion is totally closed off and so is the toe.

    So, yeah, I liked the heel but gee, I need to manage to make it so I can get a foot in it, eh? I’m still working on figuring out exactly how I was supposed to cast on to 2 circular needles to make a cuff. :-)

  14. Pat

    I keep reading the book (like a novel) in bed at night, hoping it will all start making sense! I obviously need to just START making one of the patterns, but I’m having trouble even figuring out which one is which :-)

  15. Carol

    It wasn’t until I was on the 4th sock from Cat’s book that I figured out why my stitch count was off at the end of the short row heel turn. When she says 2 sts outside the gap, I assumed it was 1 st on each side of the gap but she means 2 to the left of the gap. I finally found that bit in a box a couple of pages before the heel instructions. I find using the book’s patterns very frustrating but the results are so nifty.

  16. SockPixie

    I know what you mean about differences between 2 hanks from a same dye lot. That’s why, for my business, SockPixie, I decided to dye hanks of at least 400 yards. One hank is enough for a pair of socks, and the color is even on both socks.

    Caroline, the SockPixie

  17. Sarah

    How gorgeous! I like the patchiness of the colors — I too am not keen on pooling, but I’m cool with patchiness. And that Cat Bordhi, so clever!

  18. Suzanne V. (Yarnhog)

    I have a Malabrigo sweater that did that. One sleeve and the bottom of the back section are both two shades darker than the rest of the sweater. If I’d realized it in advance, I’d probably just have used the darker color for the ribbing and collar, since I don’t like knitting with two skeins at once, but it actually doesn’t bother me, and no one has ever mentioned it, so I don’t think people really notice.

  19. Laura

    As a fiber artist, I can tell you it is very hard to get two skeins of yarn alike. When you hand paint, the yarn takes on a life of it’s own. I put the same colors in the same amount on each skein and still, they are different. Fate and yarn dyeing are fickle creatures. :)

  20. Robynn

    I love Cat Bordhi’s ideas but her instructions make me gnaw my hands. Very unclear (to me) and confusing. Generally I need to put an awful lot of my own thought into what is being done before I can understand how her instructions relate to that… and then, sometimes, I have to actively block out part of her instructions (which to me actually seem contradictory) to be able to do it properly.

  21. nj2

    I think the Bordhi books are a great read. In fact, I learned to do 2 circs from her first one. In the first book, her chattiness in the directions was charming. Now it is confusing and more than a little irritating. I love the last book, and have read it at least 3 times. My granddaughter has chosen one of the socks, the Spiraling Coriolis no less, for her next gift pair, so will have to actually, somehow, get past the chattiness to the core of the language to get the socks done. Wish me luck. Gram’s socks are great. I bet no one even notices the color difference. In several of the photos, it doesn’t even show. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…

  22. Erica

    I have also been working through Cat’s book. At first, it made me nuts, because of all of the flipping back and forth. I also rolled my eyes at the descriptions and reminded myself that she’s writing the book to be friendly to beginners. As a teacher, I know how easy it is to overdo the mnemonics and irritate those who already know what you’re trying to say. Still, as a beginner, I think I’d appreciate them. I also struggled a bit with the instructions, when I tried to follow them literally in a line-by-line fashion. And then it hit me; they aren’t meant to be line-by-line! I knit off the cuff all the time, and once I realized that that was the goal of Cat’s book, I was home free. Now, I grab my needles, pick a pattern, read the beginning, knit until I hit the stitch count, read another line or two, and just ignore everything in between. I find the rearrangement step just before turning the heel unnecessary, so I skip it. I think that most of my problems with the book came from trying to treat it as a line-by-line pattern (which it isn’t), rather than the loose guideline set that it really is. Now that I’ve let go of trying to really follow all the instructions to the letter, I find it’s much more fun to work from the book. Sorry for the long comment, but I hope it helps people enjoy Cat’s writing a bit more!

  23. Sally Trabulsi

    Don’t think I’ll get THAT book; sounds frustrating. I’m having a ball using Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks. I think her instructions are superbly clear. Lots of tips for adjustments to any gauge, different heel flap treatments, and some nice patterns, too. And then there’s that Old Norwegian cast on. . . Fun, like “finger play,” as she describes – and makes a neat and flexible c/o edge.

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