I say this every year, but this year I mean it: this is the Summer of Socks for me. A lot of my existing socks have been around for five or more years now (hand-made socks lasting longer and all), and some of them are worn down to the nylon at the toes. I never seem to wear out hand-knit heels, just the toes. I know I could darn them, but that wouldn't reduce my yarn stash as quickly and the truth is I'm not very good at darning toe points. Under the ball of the foot or elsewhere on the sole, yes, but not right at the end where all the decreases are.
New socks it is, then — about the only wool knitting that's bearable in the summer.
Noro sock yarn:
I'm glad I bought my yarn at The Purple Purl, because the ever-cool-and-helpful Jennifer advised that I should go down a few needle sizes to get the yarn to work — 2.25mm instead of my usual 2.75mm. (Note to those who don't knit fine yarn: at this weight, half a millimetre makes a big difference). Jennifer said she had cast on the same number of stitches as usual, though, so I tried that for mine, and encountered one of those "weird gauge things" that show up from time to time. Apparently the smaller needle size only affected the row gauge, not the stitch gauge — the socks are the same width as the Lana Grossa socks I was making at the same time, but the cuffs and heel are shorter. Just one of those things, I guess.
Anyways, Jennifer's advice was excellent as usual, because the smaller needles make a smooth, firm fabric. The Noro is a loosely-spun single-ply, just like their their thicker wool yarns, so it needs to be shown who's boss. Just like the other yarn, too, the sock yarn can be a bit "breaky" in places, but it also spit-splices well, so it's only a minor annoyance instead of a major setback (so long as you're not squeamish about spit, anyhow). I'm glad they put some nylon in it to make it proper sock yarn, as opposed to "artisan" stuff that is beautiful to knit with but wears out in about a week.
Lana Grossa sock yarn:
This is the finished version of the sock I started during the storytelling festival I blogged about a few posts back. It's just nice, well-behaved, proper sock yarn with good striping and great texture. See how the colours matched up again after I finished the heel shaping? I love it when that happens. I find the European brands that offer self-striping all tend to do that — they must plan out their stripe lengths so that they will work with an average-size adult sock. As a bonus, my stripes ended in the colourway about where they began (100g skein, so two socks per ball), so my second sock will approximately match the first one and I didn't even have to trim away any yarn!
The Noro sock yarn is also a 100g ball, and those socks won't match — the colours will be shifted about one stripe. Since the Noro has long repeats and has that lovely gradual transition between colours, I think that will be a benefit, not a drawback.
I'm looking forward to wearing both these pairs next winter. More immediately, I'm looking forward to getting the mates to each of these done so I can finish the cotton/wool socks I started two summers ago (oops) and try out the ball of Tofutsi I got when Gina was here. The other Lana Grossa and the Austermann moisturised wool yarn should come first, though, to take advantage of this cooler spring weather we're having.