I’ve bean just dyeing to share my latest project: Green and blue striped socks, featuring blue yarn created with black bean dye!
I won’t tip-toe around the facts: sometimes, these socks gave me the blues. They have been in-progress for 8 months, and I dyed the blue yarn almost 4 years ago. If I was hoping to get them done in a timely fashion, I really blue it.
But on the plus side, they’re beautiful, they fit, and they’re done! Here’s what went into making them.
The Sock Blues
Back in the fall 2014, I used my blue dye from black beans tutorial to dye several sock yarns. (I also made black bean soup at the same time—perhaps a story for another post).
As seen drying on the laundry rack, the yarn on the left is a commercially prepared white wool yarn that I bought at a second-hand store. The yarns on the right were wool yarns I hand spun on a spinning wheel!
As lovely as they are, my hand spun yarns do not absorb dye that well. They took on pale, grey blue hues. But my second-hand yarn became a rich, almost periwinkle blue. The difference was striking once I made them into hanks and set them in a basket.
Fast forward several years, to the summer of 2017.
I had started a pair of socks using the free Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula from Knitty, casting on to a very long, size 1 circular needle to knit them both at the same time. I was hoping to use up some forest green wool blend sock yarn I originally intended for another project. But I realized my socks would be quite short with only the green yarn. So I decided to add the blue yarn in as stripes to make them longer.
Let me pause here to say that I have knit 4 pairs of toe-up socks, and I still find them REALLY HARD to make. The needles are so small, it feels like they take forever even when they are going quickly. I struggle with yarn amount, pattern selection, loose stitches, and foot fit—basically everything. The fact that I love to improvise doesn’t always help.
But I just keep trying! This time, I decided to concentrate on getting a nice snug fit. What could possibly go wrong?
I thought I had the whole project wrapped up when I got these off the needles in January 2018. But then I tried to put the socks on and they Would. Not. Fit.
Turns out, when I did the bind off, I made it far too tight. And instead of redoing them straight away, I let them sit there for a few more months.
Which brings us to April 2018: Finished striped socks!
I am perfectly content with these socks, but I’ll be the first to admit their flaws. They have yarn carried up over the stripes on the outside (didn’t pre-plan the stripes). There’s a gap in the join of the circular knitting (I am a loose knitter). And sadly, the second-hand, blue-dyed yarn is prone to breakage.
But despite these issues, I still think there’s a lot to love about my socks!
For one, the color. Even after four years and a bit of fading, the blue yarn is a great color. I love the contrast with the forest green. It’s exactly what I had hoped it would look like. It’s a color combination I don’t often see, but really enjoy.
For another thing, once I re-did the bind off to make it more stretchy, they became a great fit! I have small, high-arched feet, and loose socks can be a real drag. I did my calculations right on these. Probably my best fitting knit sock to date. They even fit well before blocking, as shown here:
Finally, I expect to get a few good wears out of these socks before the warm spring weather really kicks in! In fact, I am wearing them right now.
Hope you enjoyed seeing another blue dye project. Here’s to many more!
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