Steeplechase Stripe Experiment

For my latest spin, I decided to do a sort of dedicated stripe study. I frequently wonder how wide my sock stripes will be depending on how many pieces I strip a roving into. The engineer in me knew I could test out several options all in one pair of socks.

Sosae Caetano tends to dye her SW Merino rovings in even repeats, and I grabbed the Steeplechase colorway out of my stash to play with these repeats.

This one has 6 repeats with turquoise in the middle, so I tore it apart at the yellow ends. Then I vertically stripped each sixth into a different number of roughly equal pieces: from top to bottom they are 8 eighths, 6 sixths, 4 fourths, 2 halves and 2 wholes, for a total of 22 pieces. I did even numbers for each grouping because I wanted two socks with the same color progression.

I say “roughly equal” because vertical stripping does not lend itself well to even splits and I didn’t weigh them to check. You’ll see in the end result later that the uneven splitting resulted in different stripe widths, so I’ll have to be more careful in the future if I want better matching socks.

I spun them all on one bobbin in order from thickest to thinnest and back to thickest: 1 whole, 1 half, 2 fourths, 3 sixths, 4 eighths/4 eighths, 3 sixths, 2 fourths, 1 half, 1 whole. I spun for my usual 3-ply sock yarn, so the singles are 40wpi.

Then I Navajo-plied…

… soaked, thwacked lightly and hung out to dry.

I cast on with it the instant I determined it was dry enough, and whipped it up into basic toe-up 4×1 ribbed socks with short-row heels. These are over 72 stitches on US1.5 needles. (Erm… actually one of them is 71 stitches on the foot. There was a complete failure to count after the toe.)

If I do something like this again, I’ll likely do some kind of afterthought heel in order to preserve the stripe width better. Afterthought is far from my favorite kind of heel, but I kind of shorted the 1/2-width stripes in these socks. The breakdown looks like this:

Things learned: to show off subtle variations in dyeing, wide stripes are the way to go (or gradients like for the Arabian Nights/Woodland Creek socks). I think I like the 1/6th stripes best- condensed enough to make the colors pop, but not so skinny that they run together like a few of the 1/8th stripes are doing.

It would seem that the 1/4 size is the hardest to naturally strip into even sections, since you can see that the stripes stop matching up above the ankle, enough so that I’m off by a whole stripe by the time I get to the cuff (count the blue stripes):

I am a little surprised to learn how much I’m loving look of the the wide stripes on the foot with skinny stripes on the leg. I’ll probably have to do this again, not for the experimental data but just because it looks cool.