Monday, June 1, 2015

May Socks Musings: Celestial Strings Shuffle Sock

I love May. After living in the Midwest for 9 years, May has become my seasonal turning point, at which winter is truly over and spring can begin. I know that for some other areas of the country (like Tennessee, where I'm living now), spring begins a lot earlier, but snow can show up in Chicago, Iowa, and Minnesota well into April and even early May, discouraging our thoughts of summer swimming and vacations.

Often, my knitting schedule around this time of year is full of finishing larger projects I started earlier in the winter. One of my favorite things about our Yarnbox Socks subscription is that it reminds me (and other members) that sometimes a small, purposeful project is all you need to get your crafting mojo back. For those of you who live in warmer climates, Socks is a little dose of yarn once a month that allows you to build a great stash of winter essentials, while not being burdened by a larger project as the weather heats up. 

May's Socks box featured Celestial Strings, a smaller dyer out of California. Angela Rick offers up unique, often limited-edition skeins on her Facebook and through her Etsy store. One of the challenges we face when working with small batch dyers is dyelot consistency, but the benefit of Socks is that each and every skein has a unique voice within the shipment. Some variation isn't a bad thing (unlike Classic, where it's good to have dyelots that allow for sweaters and larger projects, should a member fall in love with them.) For Angela, Socks was really the perfect box! Her unique approach to dyeing colorways inspired by the universe, galaxies, planets and star systems seemed like a great fit, and it was fun watching her develop some new and slightly altered colorways just for us (some of these are now available in her online Etsy store.) 

The base, Shuffle Sock, is your standard superwash and nylon. However, Angela does some sort of magic to each and every skein that creates a softness that is truly cashmere-worthy. With plenty of yardage to work with, eager Yarnbox members snatched up each and every skein available and placed orders with Angela throughout the month to get more. One of my favorite colorways has to be Stardust, a rich cerulean blue fading into purples and turquoise. Our designer Stephanie Voyer used this colorway in her pattern for the month, Celestial Socks

This sock pattern is absolutely on my top-ten-sock-patterns list. I have lots of sock yarn in stash that would be worthy of some chevron striping.

In Shuffle Sock, Angela's dyeing techniques shine for this pattern, resulting in skinny striping and attractive speckle pooling. I love how smooth these socks are in person -- the seams shouldn't bother even the most delicate of princess feet. The only recommendation I have is that you use a very stretchy bind-off. 

These socks are toe-up, but don't let that scare you off if you've never tried it before. A good sock knitter should be versed in both toe-up and top-down socks! If you've been hesitating to try a new technique, give it a shot with these simple socks. You won't regret the results!

If you're a hand-spinner (like me) you're probably already eyeing some fingering-weight wools that would do really well with the mitered structure and shaping. Even if you don't spin, but have a collection of one-of-a-kind, hand-dyed sock yarns, you'll feel comfortable diving into stash for some of the wilder ones and helping tone them down (or highlight them more beautifully) with this great pattern. 

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