Candy + Bagel

Responsibly Handmade Fashion by Jean Chung


How to make a good pair of socks - PT One

WIPs & FOsJean ChungComment

Knitted socks. To beginner knitters, it's like magic; to seasoned knitters, it's an obsession and the reason behind our uncontrollable stash problems; to non-knitters.... "WHAT? WHY? ARENT THEY SCRATCHY? TOO HOT? WHO DOES THAT?!!"

I love knitting socks. They are so portable, especially if you're into magic loop method. I love DPNs but I've broken a few too many while carrying them around in my project bags. And, don't even get me started on all the beautiful hand-dyed sock yarns: variegated, self-striping, tonal, splash-dyed...

I just saw this newsletter from Countess Ablaze (@countessablaze) and thought about my own preferences for sock yarns and sock knitting.

1. Sock yarns

As the newsletter points out, not all fingering weight yarns are sock yarns. Also, not all superwash yarns are sock yarns. Unless you live in California like me and you only wear socks in the morning (and before bed) like slippers. I've knitted quite a few socks out of 100% superwash merino, and they're super soft and absolutely delight to wear around the house. 

But if you want to actually wear the socks with shoes, I recommend something else. Because one of the characteristics of superwash yarn is that, when wet, it's super stretchy. Superwash is basically a special treatment done to wool so that the cuticles are all flattened, to prevent them from being grabby (this is why things felt). Think "straight perm" done to your hair and the hair looks shiny and doesn't tangle as much. 

What happens when you wear socks in your shoes? Your feet get sweaty. The moisture from your feet make the yarn weak. Your feet endure tremendous friction and pressure from your body weight all day long. Eventually the yarn won't be able to take the stress and get worn out faster.

Speaking of moisture, it could also cause felting. Not all yarns are created equal; not all superwash yarns, definitely, are not created equal. I've made socks for my husband out of 100% superwash yarn a long time ago before I realized this rule. I put them in the washer a week later. They now fit ME (I wear women's size 7; my husband men's size 11). It wasn't cheap yarn, at about $20 per skein. In fact, some sock yarns like Patons Kroy from big box stores are still beautiful today after many many wears. The quality of superwash yarn is not directly related to the price of the yarn. 

My favorite sock yarns are reasonably priced yarns, with about 70~75% superwash merino or BFL, with 25~30% nylon or polymide, with very good twist. Merino and BFL are very soft fibers, and with nylon, the socks last a LONG time. 

My go-to yarns are Cascade Heritage, Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock, and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, for their availability as well as their fiber blends. When I shop online for indie dyer sock yarns, I also search for similar blends and twist. 

I pulled a list on Ravelry for reference here.

2. Patterns

I like SIMPLE patterns, some knit-and-purl texture patterns or very simple lace patterns. Cables are not my thing for socks, although I love them for garments. It's because the tight twists of the stitches sometimes affect the stretchiness of the socks. 

I also dislike complicated charts for sock designs. I've made them once or twice just because sometimes you do need that challenge in your life... But to me, socks are portable projects. If I have to refer to a chart every time I move on to the next row, that is going to seriously affect my overall knitting time. And on some days, the only time I get to knit is 5~15 minutes in the car after work. 

The pattern needs to be in my brain by the time I'm an inch from the cast-on edge. That's also my design rule. I design for advanced beginner knitters, somebody who has been knitting for maybe 6 months to a year, who's done a couple of projects like a baby sweater or a lace shawl. 

Here is a list of downloadable patterns on Ravelry for textured sock designs (only Ravelry members are able to view the pattern list). 

In the next entry, I will continue talking about sock knitting, like color choices and washing methods. 



Skeino Moon Shawl Kit

WIPs & FOs, ReviewsJean ChungComment

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me to review by Stitchcraft Marketing and Skeino. The opinions in this post and blog are entirely mine, and I was not otherwise paid, compensated, contracted, or obligated to review this product.

In the beginning of this year, Skeino sent me this beautiful Moon Shawl Kit to review. I picked the White-Silver colorway, and I was really excited to show it off, so I did a mini Show and Tell here: Giant Squoosh Yarn from Skeino.



Yarn: Moon Yarn I-cord construction (68% Featherlight Baby Alpaca/10% Fine Merino/22% Nylon)
Bulky weight, 120 yds/skein

Pattern: Moon Shawl (Free Pattern)

The pattern calls for 600 yds (9 oz/258g) of the yarn, and US Size 11 knitting needles. Because my garter stitch gauge tends to be a little loose, I used US Size 10 needles instead. The pattern is available for free, and it's really easy--simply decreasing on one side, increasing on the other to keep the same stitch count, just switching yarn colors for the gradient effect. It's truly a potato-chip knitting project, you just keep knitting and knitting on autopilot.

The yarn is very lightweight, but warm and soft. You can see in the picture how it looks like single-ply yarn, and it's as lofty as well, but it's surprisingly resilient. I'm embarrassed to say that I had to rip out few times because my "Mommy Brain" couldn't keep the right row counts, but the yarn held up great! I have used single-ply yarn enough times to know that if I did the same to those, the yarn would've fallen apart after once or twice of ripping.


I have a few more rows to completely finish the shawl, but it has been a pleasure to work on this project and I can't wait to finish and wear during the June Gloom season here in Southern California. 



The giant squoosh yarn from Skeino

Reviews, WIPs & FOsJean ChungComment

A couple of weeks ago, I received a beautiful package from Skeino, with their Moon Shawl pattern, to play with and review. 

I haven't cast on yet and will review once I'm done, but I had to take many many pictures of this beautiful packaging before I unskein and ball it up. The yarn is 68% Featherlight Baby Alpaca, 10% Fine Merino and 22% Nylon blend. I am a huge fan of alpaca yarns (In fact, my very first self published pattern was done in an alpaca blend yarn), and this one does not disappoint. I can't wait to cast on.