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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What Hue are Your Socks?

Early in the Color and Composition class, we were assigned dates upon which we would do a 5 minute, show-n-tell presentation on Color in our Lives.

Of course I wanted to do something on knitting but it took me a few days to narrow down the topic to: Sock Yarn!
That quickly became a bit too much to cover in 5 minutes so I narrowed it down to my sock yarn experience from my own hand knit socks...with a few bonus sock yarn skeins thrown in for interest.

I created an outline and then wrote the presentation, trying to consider the timing, Color & Comp. vocabulary, what I wanted to impart, the socks/yarn to include, cues for showing during the telling, and especially considering what would keep the interest of my (mostly) young, non-knitting audience. I practiced and timed myself and organized the socks/yarn so they would be where I wanted them to be when I needed to pull them out.

And I think it went well. Particularly well when you consider how much I enjoy public speaking. {shudder}

I gave the presentation, speaking very quickly (as I do when I'm nervous - but I did remember to breathe enough that I wasn't gasping for air), pulling out socks and yarn to illustrate my points, although in my nervous haste, I'm pretty sure I skipped over a section in the middle.

There was some polite applause and my classmates asked questions about my colorful socks and knitting.

One young gent asked about the cost of hand-knit socks.
I couldn't help but to think of the Knitting Time Calculator and explained that the average pair of socks is made up of 20-30 thousand stitches and even at minimum wage, a pair of socks would run $250.00 to $300.00.
Moreover, I noted he was a very tall young gent and I was betting his feet were proportionately large so his hand knit socks would have to be larger/more expensive. ;-)

Please find below a less nervous but link-blessed version of my presentation:

What Hue are your socks?

Black? Brown? Blue? Athletic White?
Are they lacy, stripe-y, or covered in Flying Pigs?

Some of my socks resemble the above.
More and more of my socks are now created because the color or fiber truly delights me.

My first pair of hand-knit socks were from a variegated superwash wool from Cherry Tree Hill. Those socks are...in the Laundry right now, but here is a small name-tag sock I knit from the same yarn.
{Show tiny blue sock}
At least with this tiny sock, the deep blues and purples that originally drew me to this yarn have not faded from wear and washing.

FYI - a superwash wool is a wool that has been treated so it can be machine washed and dried. The treatment will eventually wash/wear out and the wool fibers will begin to full and cling to each other, shrinking down to a felted fabric - or - a kitty toy.

The yarns being created now-a-days are varied, interesting, fascinating and fun. I tend to stick with wool-based sock yarns. Sock yarn will generally contain nylon along with the wool to improve length-of-wear. Wool has great spring and memory, returning to it's original knitted shape with little coercion.

And - wool takes dye very well.
The dying of yarn is mostly a mystery to me. I am aware that it can be hand-dyed, hand-painted, vat or kettle-dyed, immersed, or machine dyed. Some fibers are dyed and then blended together.
Most of the colorways I'll be showing you are machine-dyed.

{Show Kaffe Sock}
This is a Regia colorway designed by Kaffe Fassett - an artist known for his colorful quilts, needlepoint, painting, ceramics, and yes, yarn.
The "who" that put these colors together was not what made me pick up this yarn. It was the colors - the rich, deep Blue and Green on the unusual Milk Chocolate brown base that pulled me in.

I do tend to be a sucker for color.
I am particularly fond of blues. Especially when it shades into purple.
But the socks that I've knit - for myself and others, cross a wide range of colors and levels of intensity. And many times the fun of the yarn or the knitting - is in the "how" or "why" of the dye or the clever results.

{Show Lenore Sock}
This in-progress sock is being knit from Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Yarn in the Raven Clan "Corbie" Colorway. This is a hand-dyed yarn. This dyer created the Raven Clan series as (in her words) a "homage to Raven and study in shaded black". This particular colorway, is "Indigo and evergreen suffused in black". It strongly reminded me of the iridescent colors of a shiny black Raven feather. I continued the "Raven" theme by coupling it with a pattern, "Lenore", inspired by the lady in the Edgar Alan Poe poem.
Interestingly enough, the saturated black overdye on this yarn seems to stay pretty well. But when I knit with it, my fingers tend to turn a bit blue.

{Show Carol's sock swatch}
This swatch hints at a possible fair-isle or a checkerboard pattern in the yarn. The sock had similar hints that a pattern was possible, but it was vague.

These next colorway patterns are not vague. They are deliberate, fascinating, and sometimes computer-generated.
{Show grey stripey skein}
This Patons yarn lays out in a fun repeating pattern of color and grey stripes.

{Show Navy/Blue stripey sock}
This Regia yarn was dyed to create a particular pattern of thick and thin stripes.

{Show Entrelac sock}
This Steinbach Wolle was dyed so that it would produce specific stripes of grey, black, and blue. The designer of this sock pattern used the woven-looking Enrelac knit stitch to convert the stripes of this yarn into diamonds.

{Show Little Brother's green sock/skein}
I call this these "Frog" socks, because the colors remind me of frogs. But the Garnstudio yarn was planned and dyed to emulate an intricate fair-isle pattern that would be challenging (and much more bulky) to knit with all the separate colors.

{Show blue sock from sock blank}
The color on this sock is fading a bit. It does represent my favorite blues and purples but what was the most fun about knitting with this hand-dyed Conjoined Creations Yarn was this:

{Show blue sock blank leftovers}
To knit these socks, I had to unravel a sock blank - originally dyed with circles, splotches and stripes of vivid color.  It was great fun and very interesting to see how the colors on the dyed blank unraveled and played out into the knitted sock.

Some yarns are dyed so the color changes are long and gradual, like this Crystal Palace Mini Mochi yarn.
{Show first rainbow sock}
{You are correct. The original presentation was Not
assisted by Ginger cats.}
I felt a bit smug whilst knitting the 2nd sock. I thought I was going to have matching socks - as staged by the manufacturer in how they wound the balls of yarn.
{Show second rainbow sock}
However, there appears to have been a break in the yarn and a truly professional splicing job that I didn't even notice until I realized the color I was expecting next (green) hadn't turned up and the color flow on the second sock was now reversing.

Some of my sock yarn is plain by comparison to the bright shades of the ones I've already shown you - but they all have their charms.
{Show speckled blue skein}
This Regia yarn is a speckled Tweed - containing tufts of other colors spun into the base yarn.

{Show plain black skein}
And this basic black yarn is intended as a pair of socks for my husband. He might wear athletic shoes in colors that make me pause - but he prefers his socks to be a bit more subdued.

In writing this and considering my class notes, I realized -

  1. With the exception of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Raven Clan colorway, I have not previously considered the Value - how much black, white or grey - is in a yarn. 
  2. I have previously lumped in the Intensity of a colorway, how bright or dull it appears, as part of the color. 
  3. And most obviously - I find certain hues irresistible. 
Thank you.

{Oh - and then I showed them the hand knit socks I had on my feet that very day!}

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