Pattern: simple toe up socks. My "recipe" can be found here.
Yarn: Blue Label Fingering weight yarn from a double knit sock blank.
Ravelry Project page here.
A few months ago I decided that it was time that we experiment with dyeing sock blanks - more specifically, we dyed one double knit sock blank - and this is the pair of socks that I knit from said blank! I don't think that we've ever done any dyeing or experimenting that was as controversial or as polarizing as the "sock blank experiment". I blogged about it and posted about it on Instagram asking people for their feedback and the answers were surprisingly strongly opinionated. I find that's actually not that rare when it comes to hand knitting socks, people are often diehard toe-up, top-down, two-at-a-time, dpn's or magic-loop. Whatever works for you, whatever your preference, if you knit a lot of sock there's a good chance you will have a method that you're devoted to.
So, the sock blanks: people love the colours, hate the kinked yarn, find them way too much trouble for a humble pair of socks, find them amazing and inspiring, think they're totally worth it, would never waste their time on them, just straight up don't get it. It was very interesting to read all of the passionate responses that sock blanks brought out! What was doubly interesting was that I think that I felt each of those responses at one point during my sock blank experiment.
Here are my final thoughts: I LOVE the finished socks, I will knit from a sock blank again but I will not be adding sock blanks to my regular repertoire of things we sell at TFA. The dyeing is much more labour intensive than our usual methods (even our speckling system), and at this point we would not be able to produce enough to make it worth our while. Knitting with kinked yarn left me feeling kinda "meh" about it. I don't think that I would go to the trouble of winding the blank into a skein and then soaking and drying it to remove the kinks before knitting... maybe I would if I had planned ahead but usually when I'm ready to start a pair of socks I like to grab a skein and go. So the kinked yarn is not a deal breaker for me but it does leave me feeling a little lukewarm.
I intentionally experimented with a double knit blank thinking that the resulting matching-socks would be super amazing (and they are!) but when I look deep into my soul I realize that I really don't give a crap about my socks matching. In fact, I might even prefer my socks not too match, which is why I don't go out of my way to match stripes when I knit socks with self striping sock yarn (example 1, 2, 3, 4). The double knit made it a real chore to wind the yarn in preparation for knitting. Next time I'll do a single knit for sure. I also like that a single knit opens up more possibilities for using the yarn in a shawl or other large project. You can also knit directly from the blank much easier than with a double knit.
But really, enough about the pro's and con's, lets just admire these beautiful socks shall we? I mean, I think they're really, truly, lovely. The results are stunning and would not be achievable with any other method of dying. There are beautiful gradient yarns on the market, but not they're not quite like this. These almost have a handspun look. I think they're special. :)
This reminds me that I don't currently have a pair of socks on the needles... I better get on that stat!