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Vertical striping on handknit socks
Completed in June 2014


To achieve vertical striping on handknit socks, you would have to utilize the intarsia method of knitting with several different colors. Sure, we can do intarsia. We could, in theory, spend the time and energy with bobbins of yarn and knit the intarsia way.

But for me, socks are something I like to knit on auto-pilot. Socks are something I knit to pass the time while seated at academic lectures (listening intently, of course) or trapped on a long underground ride across London or waiting at the dentist's office. I don't want to fiddle with intarsia.

Surely there has to be an easier way to achieve vertical striping....

This is my attempt at circumventing intarsia for vertical stripes.

Firstly, I knit a standard pair of socks in pure white.

Then, I immersed the socks completely into a bucket of standard white vinegar for an hour. This is the important step: You must ensure that every fiber is truly saturated in vinegar, otherwise the dye will not adhere. Don't rush this step. Let the socks soak in the vinegar bath for an hour while you busy yourself with other things.

After an hour, remove the soaking socks and gingerly squeeze the socks while ensuring that they are not being stretched. Do not wring the socks dry; however, do not let them drip drip drip, either.

Stuff the dampened socks with thin old plastic supermarket carrier bags or Saran Wrap or other likely barrier to ensure that the dye does not bleed through one side onto the other side. You want to be able to dye the front side of the sock and then the back side of the sock separately, without pooling of color or inadvertent bleeding.

With a small plastic bottle (one that was intended for, say, salad dressing on a picnic or ketchup), I squeezed out lines of color vertically down the sock, matching the front and back.

Zap the wet, dyed socks in the microwave on high for three minutes to ensure that every part of the sock has experienced intense heat. Remove from microwave and let cool naturally to room temperature.

Wash socks in warm soapy water. Lay flat to dry.

I do like these funny socks! Next time, I will experiment with other colors and designs.

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