Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Friday, August 31, 2007

I Block Socks 

I know that most people don't bother to block their socks, but I always wash and block mine after I finish a pair. To me, it's an essential step after completing the actual knitting to make my garments fit well and look finished, and I see no reason why socks should be exempted from this process. If they have a stitch pattern on them, the blocking will help accentuate it and even out the stitches. Wool sock yarn can bloom and soften after a nice wash, which only makes a pair more comfortable.

There's one more important reason: colors can bleed, especially hand-dyed yarns in dark colors.

While I don't have photographic evidence of the actual event, I can show you two photographs that, while they were taken in drastically different lighting situations, give an idea of how colors can fade after a good soak.

unfinished oak rib

Finished oak rib

Oak Ribbed Socks
From Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock Candy
Size 3mm needles

Clearly, the colors are still fairly bright, particularly the orange. The water did turn very black when I washed these, however, and it took several rinsing before the water ran clear. The socks turned the other items I was washing with them to a darker shade. After drying, the socks seem to have a much limper, less sharp quality of color. It may not be visible in this photo, but there are also subtle lines on the sock showing where the dye ran more strongly.

I'm very grateful that I hand washed these and discovered this before throwing them in with a load of laundry! If you don't want to learn this lesson the hard way, you too should block your socks. I'm cheap and don't want to buy sock blockers, so I made mine from wire hangers; here's a tutorial that shows you how to do it. Note that when I folded the foot for mine, I held it up to my actual foot so that it would be about the same length.

Despite this incident, I'm still pleased with these socks, which are the first cotton ones I've made. The pattern works well with the striping of the yarn, although I did have to modify it slightly due to the heavier gauge yarn. The modifications included shortening the heel flap by four rows and changing the toe to a wedge shape, as the rounded toe didn't fit me well. The socks fit pretty well, mostly due to the Elite fiber content. They're comfortable and, even if they aren't as bright as before, they are still fun and totally Project Spectrum-themed.

Nothing like a well-blocked sock to brighten one's day.

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