These days, I'm all about socks. I'm knitting few pairs of socks, and shopping (=ogling) sock yarns, and buying knitting accessories for socks. So I thought I'd share with you what I tried last week, and then do a short review of sock yarns that you can get from "big box" arts & crafts stores such as Michaels and JoAnn.
Last week, I ordered these sock blockers from Tesla Knits on Etsy. She not only has sock blockers in different sizes (both women and men size, but also children's!) but also mitt blockers in these beautiful plastic material. She also has small selection of project bags, like this one in Dr. Who fabric.
First I put the socks in a sink full of warm water with some Soak wash, and squeezed out the water with a small towel. Then I put them on these blockers. Getting the socks on the blockers while the socks were wet was not easy, since these blockers are just thin, flexible plastic material. I didn't want to stretch out the fabric unnecessarily. But once they were on, they looked great! I could easily photograph them as they were drying, and after I took them off the blockers, the shape really looked cute.
Next time, I might try getting the socks on the blockers first and then put them in water.
Two of the sock yarns that you may typically see at a big franchise craft store are Lion Brand's Sock-Ease and Patons Kroy Sock Yarn.
Lion Brand Sock-Ease
I tried this yarn a long time ago as a beginner sock knitter. I liked the color scheme and the generous yardage on the ball. The colorway I tried was Taffy, and it had 438 yds per ball. I finished the socks in January 2011. The pattern is Jaywalker.
How do they wear now?
The colors have faded a bit but they're still holding up. The caveat: these are not my favorite pair of socks, so I don't wear them as often as other socks I have made. But these have been washed both by hand and by machine, and the durability is very impressive.
The complaints: There are a couple of reasons for these being not my favorite. One is the stitch pattern, which has nothing to do with the yarn. I thought the stitch pattern was clever and would show off the variegated yarn. But this stitch pattern is not the stretchiest pattern, and in a sock design, that could be a bad thing. As the result, they don't hug my feet as much as other socks I have knitted and they kind of stretch and bag around my feet.
The second reason IS the yarn. The yarn was scratchy when I was knitting with it, but I thought machine wash and dry would soften it up. WRONG. After almost 3 years of abuse, these are still the scratchiest socks I have. Literally when I wear them, I have to reach down every so often to scratch my feet. Not very attractive. I wear these if I look at my handknit sock drawer and see that these are the ONLY pair left.
Patons Kroy Socks
Compared to the Sock-Ease yarn, these are really great sock yarn. Just recently, Michaels had a huge discount on Patons yarns, and I had 25% Off Total Purchase coupon, so I kind of went crazy and bought 12 balls of Patons Kroy Sock yarn. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the Sock-Ease (#sorrynotsorry) and 5 being maybe Anzula's Cloud MCN sock yarn, these yarns are a solid 3.
These are Hedera socks I made in June 2012. Despite being knitted in black, and I have two white dogs that shed year round, I love these socks. Now, I think Kroy Socks vary among the colorways. These black ones are quite thick, and I used US 1.5/2.5mm needles, so they don't show off the lace pattern that well. They're definitely soft enough to wear on my feet without scratching.
There are other pairs that I have knitted for my husband, and ones I am currently working for myself.
These two are on US size 0/2.0mm needles, and they're still quite comfortable without being too thick. We live in sunny Southern California and we rarely need thick socks. These are Kroy's Stripes and Raggs lines, and perhaps these lines are a little bit thinner than the solid color lines.
Kroy socks are 4-ply yarn, and the Stripes and Ragg lines are so fun to knit with. They don't look like they're going to fade any time soon either. These are my Hedera now.
They also were washed by hand and by machine, and the lace part has some felted areas but not as bad as my other lace socks. I might need to make them again in black in knee length!
All in all, both sock yarns are very affordable, especially with those weekly coupons you can get from these franchise stores. But about 2 weeks ago, I saw a bunch of Sock-Ease yarns at Tuesday Morning for $4.99 per ball, I still didn't buy any. At that price, I know I can get more Kroy :) I might have to try Sock-Ease in solid color before really finalizing my thoughts on them, since when I first got my Sock-Ease, solid colors weren't available, and they might be different.