Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Matching Stripe-itis

When it comes to matching stripes on socks, I have a real illness. For me, stripes must match across the two socks, and I often go to an insane level of detail to ensure it happens. My only comfort in this is that I know I'm not alone.

Here is perhaps the crowning achievement of my sock-matching disease. When I was in Sock Wars a few years ago, I received a partially completed pair of socks from a poor fellow that I killed. (I truly did feel badly about knocking this contestant out of the game - there are so few active male knitters, that I don't want to be killing any of them!) On the right is a photo of how the pair looked when I received them. The first sock was beautifully knit, and the second one had only a cuff - a completely mis-matched cuff!

Obviously that wasn't going to fly with me, so as you can see, I promptly cut that cuff off the ball, and started over. I also noticed the first sock had a tighter gauge than the standard pattern gauge. This was a good thing - as written, the Detonator pattern was too big for most contestants, and this excellent male knitter had made the necessary change in needle size to resolve that situation. Below is the finished pair - one made by him and one by me. The stripes match so well, that they are perfect down to the one white row of Kitchener on the toe. I love these and was proud to kill some other knitter's ass with them :-)

So recently, I needed a new travel knitting project for my trip to Portland, as none of my WIP was very portable. I decided it was finally time to make a pair of Cooke A's Monkey Socks. I've had this pattern in my queue since it came out in 2006, and I had this beautiful hand-dyed skein of Jolly Jumbuck Helios (70% Wool, 30% Silk) stashed away for the perfect project. Tada! As I was winding the yarn, I decided that this was going to be a total "mental vacation" project with no worrying about anything matching. My plan was to make these socks two-at-a-time, from both ends of a center pull ball. Let the colors fall as they may!

Well... I finished the stockinette toe (I'm making my Monkeys toe up) and couldn't help but notice that the colors were pooling identically on the front of one toe and the back of the other. How could that be? I took a good look at the dye repeats in the yarn and realized it is symmetrical with respect to direction of use. Darn it. You know what that means... now I can't ignore the fact that the pair can actually match.

So I flipped one of the socks around on the needles so that the matching sides faced the same direction and started into the pattern stitch. No longer are these a "mental vacation". Now I ensure on each row that the bright yellowy-green stripe hits at the same place on each sock - varying my gauge slightly as needed to make that happen. Here is how they look so far - I've just started the heel gusset increases.
Now that I'm back home, the Monkey are going to hibernate for a while as I crank out some Christmas gifts for my family. I've clearly bitten off more than I can chew - so we'll see how it goes!


  1. Oh, I love your monkeys, they have been on my list for about a year or more......

  2. Wendy I LOVE your socks so so pretty.... I am trying to get out of my massive black hole I am in to finish three BIG projects.... I can't wait until January Mystery Socks WOO HOO :)

  3. Wow! I am sooo impressed with those stripe match ups! I am just about to start my first socks knitting project and you are very intimidating, lol. I happily discovered your store online and am awaiting my first purchase. I can see I'm going to have to check out your blog for more hints and info ... stripes matching! who knew??? ;D


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