I love the look of Nordic patterns but have been intimidated by stranded color work. One of my New Year's resolution is to overcome this fear and learn stranded knitting. I thought that a good start would be to make a pair of plaid socks. I followed my usual sock pattern with eye of partridge heels and toes and Cape Gingham by Julie Sprague for the plaid color work. The yarn I used is DROPS Fabel in the colors silver fox and black. I really love how the socks turned out. (Also, look at those lovely flowers! One of my spring-blooming Camellias is already in bloom, while the fall/winter-blooming Camellias haven't stopped blooming yet!)
My usual knitting style is Continental. I wrap the yarn on my left index finger to keep an even tension and "pick" it with my right needle to form stitches. It is a very fast knitting style. Hence, figuring out how to work with 2 strands of yarn was initially challenging. I couldn't quite find a technique that felt so easy, fast and comfortable. I ended up using my usual Continental style with the main color and, depending on which yarn was the dominant color, I held the other strand with my left thumb and middle finger and "picked" it under the non-dominant strand or had it in my right hand and "threw" it English style over the dominant strand. Knitting with 2 strands definitely slowed me down. In addition, I really had to pay attention to keeping the tension even with both strands, which wasn't easy. I also discovered that the stitch formed with the yarn carried under the other strand appears to look bigger and more dominant. I chose grey to be the dominant color throughout.
Another thing I learned about stranded knitting is to catch the floating strands in the back of the work. I didn't want my toes getting caught in long strands, so I ended up double-catching them at every few stitches. Furthermore, the floats need to be caught at different positions in consecutive rows, otherwise they will show through the front of the work.
Once on, these socks feel very comfortable and especially warm, due to the extra thickness of stranded knitting. However, it is difficult to put them on and take them off, because they are not stretchy. I made them a few stitches wider than my usual socks and carried the floats as loose as I could, but that didn't help with the stretch. I like my socks with a little negative ease, so that they fit properly. I don't like when they fall down or bunch up in my shoes. Thus, I am not sure what I could have done differently to make them feel more stretchy but still fitting well. I wonder if there is a special way to do stranded knitting for socks.