There tends to be a lot of talk about which sock yarns "flash". By "flash", people generally mean that a variegated yarn is knit in a way that makes the colors clump and pool together. It can be good or bad, depending on the design.
In fact, self striping yarn are actually variegated yarns with very long color repeats. For example,I have a sock knit from Vesper Sock yarn
behind the cut.( Collapse )
Now, while Vesper stripes very nicely when making a sock, if you were making a sweater it would behave completely differently. Kim Salazar has a lot of information on how yarns flash - this pattern
has a description of how to determine the "flash value", or the number of stitches at which a particular yarn will pool or stash. She also has a table of sock yarns
and their repeat lengths.
Given the right conditions, any variegated yarn can flash. If you are knitting a sock where the yarn suddenly starts pooling in an undesirable way, it isn't that the yarn is inherently bad. It just means that at your particular gauge, with that particular number of stitches and in that pattern, the yarn behaves in a certain way. Another knitter, with the exact same yarn, could get completely different results.
I recently knit a pair of socks that gave a perfect example of how small changes can make the same yarn flash or pool differently. First, look at the picture behind the cut.( Collapse )
That sock was the second I knit out of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, in the Birch colorway. You'll notice that the yarn flashed three different ways. When I was doing the lace portion of the cuff, it did a thin spiral. As soon as I started the stockinette portion, the amount of yarn per round I was using changed, and it suddenly started stacking in a wide, slow spiral. I didn't change the number of stitches on the needle at all. Finally, I remembered that I was supposed to have decreased by one right after the lace cuff. As soon as I did, the yarn suddenly looked completely different.
As a comparision, here is the front of the first sock I did in the same pattern.( Collapse )
The lace cuff looks different, despite that the yarn all came from the same ball. What had happened was that my gauge was slightly looser on the second sock - if I hold them up back to back, the second sock is perhaps one or two stitches larger. However, both socks have the same number of stitches.
Oh, the other thing these socks prove is that some patterns are not at all suitable for a variegated yarn, especially one with very short repeats. That poor sock is actually the New England Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road
. This blogger
knit a beautiful pair. Unlike my pair. My friends christened them the "Flesh Eating Zombie Socks". In my defense, I knew seriously ugly was going on, but I figured the pattern was more fun than doing a ribbed sock.
Finally, I just wanted to mention that I have a site called Island of Misfit Patterns
. A few friends of mine dreamed up the idea after one our friend's design was rejected from Knitty. We'll happily put up any pattern at all - it doesn't actually have to have been rejected by Knitty first. :) Just email it in whatever format you've got to email@example.com . We don't have any real guidelines, beyond it being your own work. I've been really pleased with the quality we've gotten so far. Don't worry, I don't make any money off it - I just have a massive hosting plan I like playing with. :)