barcelona cabled mustard socks

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One of the first pairs of socks I ever knitted (the second pair, I think?) were these mustard ribbed socks. I made them in the fall of 2007, and probably used them every week – sometimes every day – until they were falling apart beyond repair and I retired them in my pre-move tidying frenzy. They served me so very well, and while visiting Barcelona last October with my teacher-study-friends, a skein of mustard yarn came home with me. It was time for the second generation of mustard socks!

Yarn: Discontinued Greta and the Fibers Socks, fingering weight and hand dyed, color 45
Pattern: “No slouch socks” by Elinor Brown. Ravelry project page here.
Techniques: Knits and purls and tiny cables. Also, kitchener stitch for grafting the toes.

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This yarn smells really, really good. Not strong, just.. fresh and flowery and wooly. Like really good wool-wash. It’s not lofty, and has a lot less give than I would expect from a wool blend. It feels smooth and has some luster, and a density that reminds me of a single ply rather than the 4-ply it is. At the same time the yarn feels sort of hard, I think due to the lack of give, and I ended up knitting quite tightly with high tension. Still, the finished socks don’t have much spring or bounce to them – they almost feel kind of flat.

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The heels were an interesting adventure! I spent more than three months on these socks from start to finish, and a lot of it was procrastinating about how to solve the heel and toe. You see, the pattern I chose – “No Slouch Socks” – assumes you have your own preferred heel and toe solution. The pattern mentions this up front, so I don’t feel deceived, but it was a lot more work on my end when I decided not to go for the easy solutions. I thought the undulating cables and neat rhythm of the ribbing + cables deserved something more than my usual heel flap and plain toe, so I took to researching.

There is something called a Welsh heel, which sounded interesting to me. I’m pretty sure that is not what I ended up knitting, but it inspired me to try decreasing and increasing in a different way. All the details or on my ravelry project page – I  won’t even try to make sense of it here. It made sense to me in the moment, and now almost a year later, I’m baffled. I really like the diagonal lines though, and the making of stitches along a “back seam”.

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The toe was equally an experiment, as I wanted to continue the pattern all the way. The first few pictures also sort of show that I did a really narrow saddle of 6 stitches across the front of the toe. I remembered using the technique on the Seamless hybrid sweaters I’ve made, and it worked reasonably well. Very fiddly! The toe area is a little looser than I’d like. I could (should?) have done down a needle size and ended up with a stiffer fabric, but I think this kind of yarn just won’t plump up regardless.

Like the first pair, I’ve had these socks in pretty constant rotation. They are pretty! The good thing about them being so thin is that I can wear them with a lot of my booties, like the ones (well, the one) in my previous post. These socks have also brightened up my post-surgery plastic sandal wearing days, and are peeking out from the hiking boots I wear every day now – still the only decent outdoor shoes my swollen toe can fit into.

While I am practicing patience regarding the shoe situation, the remainder of this pretty-colored, lovely-smelling yarn is being made up into gorgeous colorwork mittens in this pattern, paired with some scrumptious brown alpaca. I am most definitely getting enjoyment out of my souvenir skein!

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2 thoughts on “barcelona cabled mustard socks”

  1. Beautiful solution to continue the design elements into the heel and toe! It does look a little complicated! I haven’t made any socks yet but they look like a fun way to practice with new techniques. :)

    1. Thank you! It did hurt my brain a little working on it, but you’re right – socks are a fun way of trying techniques! I must say, a simple grey coarse wool sock in a plain 2X2 rib is probably still my favorite sock though. So simple, but beautiful!

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