Circular Notions

perfectly matching gradient sock yarn

Love ombre? Want to knit a pair of identical socks? Here are your options, from cheap to expensive, short of dyeing the yarn yourself.

I took this photo of two yarn balls starting at the same color in the color gradient to explain to the factory what I wanted, but they are unable to provide yarn to my specifications. The quest continues…

Same dye lot is not enough

Gradient color yarn is space dyed (dye is dripped onto the yarn by a computerized machine that calculates the color for the gradient sequence), wound onto cones, the ply are twisted together, and the yarn is put on more cones, and then it’s wound into balls for retail.

So, finding balls of yarn from the same dye lot will NOT mean that the color sequence will line up from the beginning of the balls to the end. And, the two ply (which have to be dyed sepearately or else the dye doesn’t reach part where they’re twisted) may not be offset the same amount in the color sequence, changing the length of the transition between each color.

Method 1: Start your socks on the same part of the color sequence

This is the cheapest option, because it can be done for any gradient color yarn. You just have to start each of your socks on the same position of the color sequence. If you use the same ball or skein for both socks, you won’t have to worry about the color sequence in the ply aligning differently between the socks.

Method 2: Mass manufactured true gradient

The only mass manufactured TRUE gradient I have been able to find is [Jawoll Twin][].

[Lang Yarns color card for Jawoll Twin][]

They’ve got many color options and the colors transition smoothly. You can search on the internet to find an online or in-store retailer near you.

Regia also has some color block stripes that kind of look like a gradient from far away, in their Pairfect line.

Regia Pairfect in Bleached Blue and Grape. [Picture from their Amazon listing][].

Method 3: Mass manufactured 2 ply gradient

2 ply gradients work by misaligning the color sequence in the two plies of yarn to smooth out the color transition, giving the transitions a heathered look.

The only example I’ve found of this for socks is from the Canadian brand, Estelle. Their Sock Twins line look gorgeous, but they are not available all-year-round.

Estelle Sock Twins color card, [from their website][].

Method 4: Artisanal hand painted sock yarn

In hand-painted yarn, the yarn is laid out, and the artisan takes a paint brush and applies the dye for the color gradient, by hand. The yarn for two balls can be dyed at the same time, ensuring identical socks. This is the most labour intensive and expensive option, running from $30 to $60 per pair of socks, depending on the size of the sock. You can buy this type of yarn on Etsy.

[Knitcircus chromatic gradient][] and [Doppelgängers by DerangedDyeworks][]

I would SO love to use my manufacture engineering skills to mass manufacture matching gradient balls, so that people can make truly matching socks. I think it’s possible with some careful coordination with a dye house, but I haven’t found a good factory partner to work with me on this yet. If you’re interested in hearing more about this and my other projects, you can [sign up for my newsletter][].