Striped Colour Play.

I was sitting on the couch at work, in the corner, knitting away on these socks. On a whim after a conversation with my dear friend Katrina the night before, I had started them quickly. As I knit them up and listened to the chatter in the staff room, I couldn’t help but think that I had the best seat in the hospital with these socks. The yarn came out soft but tightly spun. The colours were interesting to knit and I loved the interest of switching back and forth between the Navajo-plied and fractal 3-plied yarns. Sometimes when beginning spinners spin up hanks of yarn, they aren’t sure what it’ll look like knit up. I completely understand and still experience this as a more experienced spinner. Sometimes, there is a bit of fear or trepidation associated with the age old advice, “You have to knit with your handspun to understand how it acts and knits up.” While I agree whole-heartedly with this advice and often give it myself, I hope that last week’s post and some of my upcoming posts showing the yarn prior to knitting beside the knitted object, you may begin to see how certain yarns tend to knit up.


In this project, I striped the yarn, as I already mentioned. I talked about how I created the original yarns here, on the SweetGeorgia blog in my monthly guest post that I write as part of spinning the fibre club for them. In the end, I had two 50 gram skeins of heavy fingering. I decided to knit the socks on 2.5mm needles from the toe-up to maximize yardage. I used a Turkish Cast-on for the toe and worked my way up the foot. I’ve been working to understand short rows more fully, so I used 4 different short rows on the heels. Each “side” of the sock has different short row techniques. More on that in upcoming months but today I wanted to highlight the yarns and how they played off each other.


When your eye travels across the knitted fabric, the yarn appears marled in places and ‘clean’ in others. The clean areas are definitely the stripes that were Navajo-plied. In contrast the areas of the sock that are marled were the 3-ply fractal. As you can see in the photo below of the yarns prior to knitting, the Navajo-plied yarn is much ‘cleaner’ and the colours are preserved because they are kept together from plying. In contrast, the fractal is marled and mixed. The brown and blues in this colour loose some of their initial intensity. I love this effect and create it often in my handspun yarns. As many of you know who’ve been reading here for a while or watching the podcast, I love blended 3-plies and analogous semi-solid colourways that lend themselves to large projects with complicated stitch patterning.


There have been some great results from striping Navajo-plied and traditional 3-ply yarns by fellow spinners and knitters recently. They have been shared on IG and Ravelry. While I think these striped socks to combine handspun was the original brainchild of JoAnne of Knit Spin Farm, and Susan B. Anderson knit them, there have been some other people knitting and spinning for socks this way that have had spectacular results as well! Here and here are some awesome examples my friend Vicki.


Pattern :: socks, toe-up, my own variation, Ravelry page here {more photos there}

Yarn :: SweetGeorgia Yarns July 2016 Fibre Club, Odyssey; handspun Ravelry page; Navajo-plied 50gm/Fractal 3-ply 50gm, spindle spun & plied

Needles :: 2.5mm using magic loop method


After an interesting conversation in the Handspun Socks thread on the Ravelry group, I agreed that part of the reason these socks aren’t show stoppers like some of the ones I’ve seen (and I didn’t expect them to be) is because they are a relatively quiet colourway. While the brown and blue in these socks are very saturated, they are tonally similar and there are no other colours in this colourway to liven up the traditional or fractal 3-ply. By making a fractal yarn for the opposing stripe, instead of something really blended which I can often achieve with a traditional 3-ply, the two yarns once they are knit up aren’t much different. There are stripes of clean blue and brown from the Navajo-plied yarn but that also exists in the fractal yarn because of the long repeats in which the colours matched up in many places. How could they not? There were only two colours in the braid!


I have another spin similar to this one that I had prepped and spun as two 50gm skeins to stripe socks with as well. I’m actually thinking that instead of striping them, I might knit two intentionally mismatching socks to show off the different variegation of the two skeins. That is coming up this fall … I hope! I’m really curious now to see the contrast of these two spins. In some ways, I wish I had enough of this colourway to spin another two 50gm hanks to knit two intentionally mismatching socks to compare to this pair but maybe I’ll find another braid similar in colours to compare.

Until next time, please share your sock experiences here or in the Ravelry thread! We all learn when we share what works and doesn’t work in our handspun socks!


Join the Conversation

  1. your Stuff is great, nice feeling n design also good, liked it :)

    1. Thank you :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is your favorite toe-up sock pattern (for handspun) ?

    Texas, USA

    1. Hi Linda, I like the Fish Lips Kiss heel the best. It fits my foot well. It’s just a really annoyingly written pattern!!

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