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Stripy Socks

Making stripes in socks can be a challenge, unless you’re very familiar with the jogless jog technique, so clever knitters and yarnmakers have come up with lots of ways to create stripes using the yarn itself! Different yarns are made to give different striping effects, from just a few stitches of each color to long-striping yarns with just a few color changes.  We’ll focus on long-striping yarns in gradients today.

Gradients

The short answer for gradients and socks is: yes! A long-striping gradient (with say, 4-7 color changes over the whole sock) will show off any pattern just fine.  The length of the color blocks within the gradient should make it possible to see lace, cable or other patterning without visually breaking it up too much. Any repetitive stitch pattern  responds well to gradients.

Some favorite sock patterns to try:

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, by Erica Lueders

Monkey, by Cookie A.

Jeck and Zora, by Regina Satta, available as free Ravelry downloads

Nutkin, by Beth LaPensee,  from Knitzi.com

Spring Forward, by Linda Welch, from Knitty, Summer 2008

BFF sock, by Cookie A., from Knit.Sock.Love

Cuff-Down Socks

Because gradients themselves are so much fun to work, you may want to just stick with a basic, vanilla sock recipe to watch the colors unfold.

Sock recipes:

How I Make My Socks, by Susan B Anderson (on her blog)

Sock recipe: A Good Plain Sock, by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, from Knitting Rules

Basic Sock Pattern, by Ann Budd, in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns

Choose Colors to Highlight Your Pattern

As with any yarn, the more subtle the stitch pattern, the better it will respond to a light color. Part of the reason textured Aran sweaters looks so great is their traditional cream color! So, if your heart desires a subtle knit-purl textured diamond pattern, you would be well-advised to choose a pale-blue-to-gray gradient over a maroon-to-black gradient.

Loving Lace

Very deep browns, blacks or navy are a hard sell for any textured pattern, but a graphic lace pattern will make any color look great.

Patterns to try:

Hedera, by Cookie A., from Knit.Sock.Love

Cadence Socks, by verybusymonkey, available as a free Ravelry download

Embossed Leaves, by Mona Schmidt, from Favorite Socks

The Secret Fan, by Adrienne Fong, from Bellybuttonknits Designs

Blackrose Socks, by Suzi Anvin, from Knitty, Winter 2008

Duckies, by Samantha Hayes, from Aquaknits site

Toe-Up Socks

Many of you are more familiar with cuff-down sock construction, but toe-up socks allow you to knit until all of your yarn is gone, which helps gradients tremendously.  If you’ve never tried toe-up socks before, I urge you to give it a go! You can try them on as you work, no grafting is needed, and you’ll get to enjoy every stitch of your gradient.

Patterns to try:

Gusset Heel Basic Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, Socks from the Toe Up

Diagonal Lace Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, Socks from the Toe Up

Serpentine Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, from Socks from the Toe Up

Skew, by Dana Holden, Knitty, Winter 2009

Mojo, by Donyale Grant, Some Knitting Required site

Socks on a Plane, by Laura Linneman, from La La’s Knits

Crimple, by Michelle Hunter, from Knit Purl Hunter

Firestarter, by Yarnissima, from Yarnissima site

Afterthought Heel

If you do a sock pattern with an Afterthought Heel, your heels will be the same color as the toes of your sock, so you’ll have a gradient with contrasting heel.

Patterns to try:

Afterthought Heel Socks, by Laura Linneman, available as a free Ravelry download from La La’s Knits

Sweetheart Socks, by Nikol Lohr, Knitty Winter 2011

Frick-N-Frack, by Jenny Lee, from Jenny Lee Knits

Watching the colors change makes knitting with gradients go really fast. Have fun!

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