Friday, November 7, 2014

Match Those Striped Socks
(Click on photos to enlarge)

This may seem like a silly post but I’ve had several knitters ask how I match my striped socks so perfectly.  Others might be interested too so I worked up a little tutorial to show how I do it.

To arrive at a matching pair of striped socks, I must start knitting each sock at the same spot in the yarn.  I don’t get particularly obsessed if my self-striping socks don’t match but I do like them to match if it can easily be done.  There are many lovely yarns available to us now that don’t have predictable color repeats so matching socks will be almost impossible.  But there are just as many that are dyed to have predictable color repeats and those are what I’ll be focusing on now.   I’m using a 100 gram skein of Opal Schafpate yarn for this tutorial.  I knit these socks from cuff down and fed my rewound cakes from the outside.  The cakes can be rewound if you prefer to use inside pull cakes while knitting.

First, I knit up the whole skein into a rectangle.  It doesn’t matter what gauge or width because all I’m looking for are the color change repeats.  So I usually use a loose gauge on my midgauge machine at T1, or on my standard gauge at T10….anything that’s quick and easy to push the carriage.
Then I lay or pin the rectangle out so I can see the color repeats in the full length.  Then I measure the halfway mark and find the same color as the beginning color of my rectangle closest to the halfway mark.  The exact halfway mark most likely won’t be at the proper color change.  So when I’m happy with finding the same color as the beginning stripe as close to the halfway mark as I can get, I snip one strand of yarn at one of the edge stitches so my color change will match the beginning color.
Then I rewind the yarn into 2 cakes and I’m ready to knit.  Using my favorite sock pattern, I use the biggest cake first.  Now remember that I was a bit off halfway when I snipped the yarn in this rectangle, so one cake will be smaller than the other.  After the first sock is made with the biggest cake, save the excess yarn to splice into the 2nd one if needed.  The toes may not match perfectly but the upper part of the sock that’s most visible will match to a ‘T’. 
After the cakes are wound, match up the ends and cut the yarn at the same spot so both ends are the same.
If I am using a 50 gram skein of yarn, I will also knit both skeins into rectangles to see the color repeats in each and snip at the starting point of one skein as necessary for both skeins to begin at the same place in the yarn.  Again, if I have trimmed away a substantial amount of yarn, I always reserve it to splice into the toe if I run short on the 2nd sock.
Happy matching socks!


  1. I just unravel a little of the ball to see the colour changes. Make a note of where I start and begin the second sock at the same point in the colour hasn't failed me yet. Only just noticed you are machine knitting...initially, I was aghast to think that you'd hand knitted a whole ball just to unravel it!!!

  2. HEY! Aren't those my socks? Love 'em, wear 'em, appreciate 'em.

  3. Probably the same yarn but not the same pair. I just made this pair a bit ago for a GD. Glad you like them. I really do like that colorway. This yarn is Opal Schafpate, actually milled totally from sheep in a preserve in Germany. Google 'Schafpate' if you want to read the whole interesting story. I try to buy Schafpate whenever I can now, love it.