The socks that lived (AKA top tips for stranded socks)

The stranded socks live on!

You might recall that last time I was talking about these socks, things were all looking a bit rocky and I'd largely fallen out of love with this spur of the moment project.

Well, thanks to you lovely lot and the helpful advice that you were able to dispense, all was not lost and I have now finally managed to successfully wrangle these socks to completion!

I'll give you another close up of the hearts, so you can see how really quite respectable they look now.  I blocked them of course, to get them looking as good as I possibly could...

So, how did this astounding turn around take place?  
Well, two things in particular really helped me out...

First of all, I stopped using two hands and went back to using just one.
I suddenly remembered that I used to do my stranded knitting with just one hand, picking up and putting down each colour as required.   More recently though I'd started using both hands, the main/background colour in my right hand, and the contrasting colour in my left.

In theory this is a cracking little method.  You don't have to put the yarns down and pick them up all the time and it's easier to make sure that you keep the main and contrast colours in the right place.  (If you don't know what that's all about, have yourself a little Google of 'yarn dominance'.)

But the trouble is, I'm not a great continental knitter, so I think using my left hand was messing with the tension quite a lot.

The second tip that really helped me was knitting the socks inside out.  
Not as complicated as it sounds, it just means flipping the cuff on the needles so that the right side of the work is on the inside of the tube of knitting.  This means that the floated strands of yarn need to stretch right around the outside and are less likely to pulled taught across the middle on the inside. 

As I much prefer using magic loop on circular needles and this solution seemed to hit the spot perfectly and meant I could ditch the dpns!

I did get some other great tips though that I thought you might like to know about:

Partly because it does make perfect after all... but mostly because it just takes a little time and experience to get a feel for how tight or loose the floats should be.  I was probably expecting too much for someone who doesn't do very much stranded knitting.

Go up a needle size
Stranded knitting by it's nature tends to be less stretchy, so going up a needle size can help retain the same overall sock size, to help it fit over the foot.

Increase the stitch count
Again, to counteract the less stretch in the stranded knitting, you could increase the stitch count for that section.  I added one more heart repeat to my socks for example.

Knitting on the round with a short 9" sock needle (like this one*). 
So you never have to worry about the point where the needles meet and the strands of yarn pulling tight in that area.

Using a special type of 'sock-wonder' needle (like this one*).
This is a short needle again, but with one longer needle and one tiny short needle.  So that you can spread the stitches on the longer needle to make sure the floats aren't too tight.

Using a Knitting/Norweigen Thimble*
A fab little gadget which fits on your finger and holds two yarns for you so you can use either strand very easily.  I believe this is normally used by continental style knitters.

This will improve and even out any stranded knitting and help the stitches look more tidy and even.

: :

A big thank you so much to everyone who left me helpful comments and some of these lovely tips.

Hopefully you might find those helpful if you are ever facing the same stranded sock knitting woes!

*Affiliate link

S x




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  1. Hi Sandra,
    WOW. That looks amazing. They're so beautiful. Very nice.
    Have a lovely evening.

    Sweet greetings,

  2. They are gorgeous... maybe I shall have a go at standard knitting one day

  3. these are so pretty! I have just learned to knit, will never be this good