Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fulled Monster Handspun Stash-busting Yoga Socks

The December sock challenge on Ravelry was to use up your stash of yarn, and possibly also to make a sock that wasn't quite a sock.  I decided to use up some of my handspun and make some yoga socks. Yoga socks don't have a heel or a toe so that you can grip the mat better with your sticky feet.

I decided also to full the socks pretty hard, to make them more durable.  Fulling knitting means washing it in hot water and maybe drying it in the dryer so that it shrinks on purpose. This makes it thicker and more durable, and also warmer.  Of course, it shrinks the piece too, so you have to plan ahead and knit it bigger.

The question is, how much bigger?  In the process of fulling these socks, I learned a few things.

Fulling for 12 minutes in hot water in the washer makes socks shrink a lot.  If you do this, you  have to add 15% to your wanted circumference, and 27% to your wanted length.  For example, if you want your socks to be 8" around and 9" long at the foot, then you have to knit them 9.2" around and 11.5" long!  Twelve minutes of fulling makes a very stiff sock, and I didn't like the feel of it so much.

Fulling for 6 minutes in hot water in the washer doesn't change the dimensions of socks at all, though.  But fulling them 6  minutes and then drying them for 20 minutes in the dryer causes a moderate amount of fulling that seems just right.  In this case, you add 10% to the wanted circumference, and 20% to the wanted length for plain stockinette stitch.  For Fair Isle knitting, which draws knitting in somewhat by virtue of the floats on the back, the percentage is more like 7% and 15%.  It's always a good idea to make a swatch.

Yoga socks are a good way to make a swatch because fit is not critical.

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