Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Easy Way to Match a "One Way" Self-Striping Sock Yarn

This last week, I'd been making knee socks.  I posted a photo the first pair, in rose colors.  This was a so-so yarn quality but I bought it because the colors were so pretty.

Next, I tried some gorgeous high-end yarn, which came on a hank.  I weighed it, weighed my finished knee socks, rewound the good stuff on a cone, and started knitting a pair of knee socks.  I ran out of yarn before I finished the second sock. I was pretty grumbly about losing a game of "yarn chicken."  I can't get more - it was a gift and hand-dyed besides.

Not wanting to abandon the beautiful yarn as a UFO, I unraveled it and knitted ordinary short socks. I have a little left, and I'll think of something to do with the leftover sock yarn.  

Then I got into some 100-gram skeins of Sale Sock from Yarn Paradise.  I wasn't sure about quality, but I bought it because it was such pretty colors.  The yardage was good, and I got two pairs of socks out of two skeins - a pair of knee socks and a pair of regular socks.  I matched these by finding a place where the color changed, starting there, and then starting there on the second sock.  After making the knee socks first, it was easy to match the regular socks since I just started on the yarn where the knee socks ended.  I only had a very small amount of leftovers, some of it from where I started a ways into the yarn to make that second sock match.

I am really happy with this yarn, even though it was inexpensive (for sock yarn...sigh - it's not unusual to spend $20 or more for one pair's worth of really nice yarn).  This was soft and knitted beautifully in my antique CSM.  

But notice - this is a "one way" striping pattern.  It is not the same right-side up and upside-down.  It seems like most of the sock yarn I get is "one way."  I rewound my yarn twice, waxing it as I went, to eliminate any knots and tangles.  If I rewound one skein once and the other one twice, the patterns would not match - one pattern would be upside-down!

Once I visited my mom and she had a beautiful piece of plaid fabric and a pattern to make my little sister a 4-gore bias skirt.  She was puzzling over how to make that plaid match.   Mom showed me how the fabric was "one way" both vertically and horizontally.  It was a woven-in plaid, not a printed one, and after a whole lot of fiddling, we finally got a beautiful match by flipping the fabric upside-down and cutting out half of the pieces that way.  But I digress...  

Back to my current sock puzzle:  I still had two skeins of this blue print sock yarn, and they didn't start all that close to the same place in the one-way design.  I tried winding off yarn and looking for a spot that matched, but it was annoying - this is such a long repeat!  I wanted an easier, but accurate way to do it.

I came up with what I think is an efficient, easy way to make your socks match, and I want to share it.

Step One:  Wind cones or cakes of both skeins of yarn.  If you do cakes, leave the plastic centers in the yarn.  Not rewinding yarn for machine knitting is just asking for trouble anyway.  Always rewind your yarn!

Step Two:  Using the flatbed knitting machine and 60 needles, make enough rows to knit an entire repeat and a little more.  Remove the cone and the sample without cutting the yarn.  Do this with each skein.  Here's what I had at this point:

This was very fast and easy.  What you see in the picture is the beginning of the knit pieces at the top and the rest of the cone, unused, at the bottom.  

I put them on a table and lined them up, matching the knit design.  

Step Three:  Mark the place where I need to cut the yarn to get two matching cones.

Step Four:  Cut the yarn at that spot.  Why?  Well, you can't just unwind this from here - the top of the photo is the cast-on edge of the yarn.

Step 5:  Take a cone, push it back on the winder, and wind to unravel the stuff previously knitted up and wind it onto the cone, then do the same thing with the second cone.  This is also fast and easy.  Here's what I have:

This is two cones of yarn that should match very nicely.  The little piece is leftover, but I will probably need it for the second pair of socks.  By leaving it knitted, I'll be able to see how it will work in to where I run out, and using it plus my other skimpy little leftovers, I can probably create another matched pair. 

I am so happy with this approach!  Next time I work with unfamiliar self-striping yarn, I'll definitely do this again.  First of all, I can see at a glance how often it repeats, what it looks like, and whether the stripes are accurate and it can be matched.

I didn't knit my preview pieces on my antique CSM because mine has a closed yarn feeder, and I didn't want to cut the yarn more than necessary.  This was extremely quick to knit on the flatbed.


  1. Neat way to solve the problem. I own a CSM as well and am near DFW. Hello fellow Texan!

  2. COOL! I generally just pull ends til I get to a matching color, then match the colors. I'll have to try your way. THANKS!

  3. Clever! How must i think to get the sew as you go socks to match? I guess you revers the pattern repeat midway from the toeshaping?