Monday, December 17, 2007

What's All This I Hear...

About Socks for Rocks? What do rocks need with socks anyway? They don't need to stay warm; they're cold-blooded. Rocks are warm anyway. Lizards climb on them to bake in the sun. Rocks don't need socks to keep their little shoes from rubbing. They don't wear shoes. They don't even have feet! And to think there are rocks getting socks when there are children in this world who don't have any.... Oh, what's that you say? It's not socks for rocks? It's Socks That Rock? Oh. Well, that's very different. Never mind!

So, Socks That Rock. The yarn that so many sock-knitters are gaga for. The yarn that makes a thousand bloggers swoon. The yarn that causes them to swarm like locusts over the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, picking it clean within hours, leaving only a dry husk. I had to see what all the fuss is about.

It's time anyway to pick another project to start. The striped border silk scarf is pegged out upstairs. Stretched out on all her pins, she looks beautiful but a touch desperate. Like a Bond girl, about to go into a threshing machine, giant drill, tank of sharks, or nuclear ice melter, with the villain standing by. "James, James!" she cries, "Don't worry about me, go ahead and save the world first! There are still eight seconds left before this thing runs me over!" But, like the Bond girl, she will soon wind up safe, fresh, lovely, and perfectly coiffed. I'm going to leave her to block a while longer. I want to wait a full 24 hours, to make sure she's completely dry. Pinning out a project for blocking, while it does have a certain absorbing quality all its own, is not something I'm anxious to repeat.

Meanwhile, I've pulled out a skein of Socks That Rock lightweight to play with, in the Lagoon colorway. It's a nice masculine combination of inky blues and greens that I will no doubt have the dickens of a time trying to photograph. I do basically know my way around a camera; I have a decent working knowledge gained through a short stint on a school yearbook staff. Finding all those same functions on a menu-driven digital camera, though, is a different kettle of fish. Sooner or later, I may have to spend some focused time with the manual. But there's no need to be hasty!

I started swatching with the Socks That Rock, curious about all the hullabaloo. It's pure merino, fairly tightly twisted, the plying showing a certain corded look. I imagine the tight twist is both to keep merino's reputed tendency to pill at bay and to make the yarn strong for socks, since it has no nylon content. The feel of the yarn is solid and firm. There's no airiness in this stuff, no fuzz, no compressibility. It feels forthright, foursquare. I yam what I yam.

The label calls for eight to ten stitches per inch on US size 1 needles. With size 1s, I got eight stitches to the inch on the nose, and a dense, solid, firm fabric. I think I'm going to have to acquit myself of being a tight knitter. I wouldn't be able to get ten stitches to the inch with this yarn if I tried. It's hard to envision the knitter who could. I think she'd have to be outfitted with a winch.

Getting acquainted, I tried some ribbing, a little texture, some cables. I finally went up to size 2 needles to get a fabric that's more pliable and doesn't require as much wrestling to cross a cable. I hope I'm not doing wrong by loosening it up. It does have a nice feel now, still sturdy, but with a bit of resilience that seems as if it would be more comfortable underfoot.

This yarn has many devotees. One reason, undoubtedly, is the selection of great colorways it comes in, with color runs well tuned to give a nice stripey effect. It also seems to show stitchwork very well, although of course the effect can be swallowed up by the multi-colored background. But are all these people making strong, dense socks? Sturdy socks that you'd need a good breakfast to have the strength to pull up over your feet?

Or does the yarn perhaps soften and bloom with washing to a more relaxed and approachable texture?

Or even, is the gauge on the label an in-joke, a bit of mirth? No, I think we can rule that one out!


Knittin' Diva said...

Lagoon certainly is a gorgeous colorway. Can't wait to see how it works up. I have bought into the "Socks That Rock" craze yet....maybe you'll help me decide.

Torhild Reidardatter said...

Yeah, what is all that fuss about socks that rocks...
printed out the information.. Hmmm think I will say the yarnclub of the month is enough for this year.
Can´t wait for the new year to begin with new exiting stuff.
happy knitting Holidays