My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


When Good Sock Yarn Goes Bad

A number of you mentioned in the comments that you like the sock yarn I pictured yesterday — Opal 6-ply #1126.

Okay, I’ll admit that it’s not all bad.

But I ordered it based on this sample picture:


Look at color number 1126, all the way to the right. I ask you, does that look anything like this?


I don’t think so.

And in my knitted sample, you can’t even see the horrible rust purple stripe that’s forming on the needles.

The socks I was attempting to knit from that yarn were not for me, but for someone who would have been horrified with that colorway. Just sayin’.

But it’s all in the past now. The yarn is on its way to a new home where it will no doubt be treated with far more love and respect than I could muster.

Work on the Vague Stripes With Blue Zits sock continues.


The colorway doesn’t suck too badly. (This is also a gift sock, by the way.)

A number of you mentioned in the comments that you don’t like self-striping yarn. Me either. When they first came out, I was fascinated with them, but the novelty soon wore off. That said, I do like some Opal yarns — I’ve knitted a number of pairs from their fingering weight yarn. While the yarn isn’t the softest during the knitting, it softens up nicely in the wash and wears extremely well.

My prerequisite for yarn for these gift socks was that it be sport or dk weight and have some nylon content. I would have preferred a solid color or a heather, but couldn’t find any in suitable colors at the time I was looking. I had knitted with success from the Opal fingering weight yarn, so gave it a shot.

Gotta say, so far this skein sucks. Four places so far where one ply is broken, and I know of at least one knot in the skein (saw it when I was dividing it into two balls). I’m a bit surprised because Opal I’ve knit in the past has always been of high quality. I guess I simply got a lemon this time.

I’ve worked around these imperfections and made good progress on the first sock, so I’ll complete it and make the second sock. But I do hope the second half of this skein is in better shape than the first!

There was a question in the comments about how I divide one skein into two equal sized balls — if I have an easy way of doing it.

1. I wind the yarn from the skein into a ball on my ball winder.
2. I weigh the ball.
3. I start winding a new ball from the existing ball, stopping to weigh the first ball from time to time when it looks like I’ve got about half done. When I’m at half the weight for the first ball, I stop and cut.
4. If the yarn is patterned in any way, I wind the first ball on the ball winder again, so both balls are wound in the same direction.

There you have it. I don’t know how easy you’d consider it, but it works and isn’t too time consuming.

Lucy sez:


“She finally came home and fed me.”


  1. Hi Wendy,

    If you contact the people at Opal (, they’ll usually replace defective skeins. I’ve had them do it for me.

    Just wanted you to know.

  2. I got a fishing line counter from BassPro and use it as a yarn meter. This really helps when dividing a ball or if I want to know exactly how much yarn I am winding off from a skein.

  3. Well it looks pretty clear to me that they sent you 1127, not 1126.

    And as I’m sure you know, the “pattern” varies considerably with needle size, gauge and nmber of stitches on the needles. Possibly the cause of the “vagueness” of the new sock. More than once I added or subtracted a stitch from a pattern to get the striping to look better. Yes, sometimes just a stitch or two will make the difference.

  4. It doesn’t look like 1126, but it does look like 1127. Maybe the ball bands were messed up?

  5. It’s the sock labelled 1126 in the picture, not 1127. I didn’t keep the ball band for the socks I made, but they’re the same colors as the one you started. What a pity you didn’t get the yarn you ordered.

  6. I used to divide my yarn that way until someone suggested what I think was a much faster & easier way. Put the whole skein on a swift and count how many times it goes around it. Then start winding it into a ball and stop when you’re at half that number. Then wind the second ball. That way both of the balls of yarn go in the same direction, and you don’t have to mess with weighing them. Seems much faster to me.

  7. Wendy, that yarn doesn’t look like 1126 to me.
    I think it’s 1127. Are you using 1128 for your
    current sock?

  8. Hm, I kind of like the sock yarn? Okay, I’m a bit strange, but I think it looks rather cool…even with the “rust” colored stripe. Oh well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe they will exchange it for you?

  9. Julia in KW says:

    When I knit socks from a single skein/ball, I don’t wind into two separate balls. I knit the size of sock I need and find my starting point (if a self-patterned yarn), find my starting point for sock two and start again. So far, I haven’t been short for yarn and then I don’t have two (small) left over balls of yarn.

    What is the benefit of winding a separate ball for each?

  10. I think striping yarns are okay, it’s self-patterning yarns that are yechy.

  11. I wonder what knitters of yesteryear would say to the variety of yarn available…….I like these self pattern/self striping…….I think it’s like magic as it knits up……but then I am easily amused……..

  12. I have to agree with everyone else. It looks like they sent you 1127. That’s just what I am seeing.

  13. I agree that it looks more like 1127, I wonder if it was mislabeled?

  14. I just wanted to add my voice to the “It’s 1127” contingent. I think you got a mislabeled skein. I hope it’s just right for whomever received it. And also, I think self-striping yarns are exciting for about two pairs of socks, but then the thrill is gone. : )

  15. I like the stripes and zits a lot better now that you are further along… yesterday I may have frogged that one. Now they look like perfect jeans socks to me.

  16. I am beginning to wonder about Opal. My first pair of socks was knit from Opal yarn and the yarn had a flaw in it where the dye faded away. I used Opal again for the second pair (different color, etc.) and it did not match the picture with regard to the dominant color or color pattern. Otherwise I was happy with the way the socks softened after being washed and the yarn seems durable.

  17. Well, it does look like sock 1127 from the sampler to me too!

    Worst than finding a knot or a place where one ply is broken, is finding there is a knot and that after that the pattern is inverted! (as if they had tied the wrong end of the yarn) Getting two identical socks becomes really complicated in that case!

  18. Call me simple, but I still enjoy working with self-patterning sock yarn. It doesn’t work well with lacy socks, but for plain ol’ stockinette, it keeps me from getting bored, and I still get a huge kick out of watching the sections change, and seeing how sock 2 matches up to sock 1. Like I said, call me simple:)

  19. Why do you wind your sock yarn into a ball before weighing it? Wouldn’t it be easier to weigh the skein, wind a ball and weigh it “when it looks about half done”, cut the yarn and make a new ball? Then everything is wound in the same direction, with no extra winding. (That said by someone who doesn’t own a ball winder and knits Opal yarn straight from the skein/ball. (Being a non-native English speaker, I have difficulties with some of the yarn terminology…))

  20. Glad I don’t work at Opal today

  21. hmm I’ve only seen one skien do this to me to was the ladybug colorway…horrible…No other skein of Opal have I seen this happen to.. must be lemons or something

  22. Um.. does Lucy there have TWO food bowls? I mean.. I know these Ragdolls get big and I’m feeding my girl every time I turn around…. or else she steals from the dog ::laughing::

  23. When I want to make two equal balls out of one skein, I weigh the skein on a digital kitchen scale (calibrated in both oz and g). Then, as I wind the skein into a ball on my swift, I weigh it again. When I have a ball that is 1/2 the original weight, I cut the yarn and start winding the second ball.

    Wendy, I have a question that goes back a few days to your Sea Silk shawl. I’m working on a scarf with Debbie Bliss alpaca silk DK (to match leather gloves and a new jacket). It is gorgeous yarn but very slippery, and when I started a new ball, it seemed as if it wouldn’t hold without a knot. Do you knot slippery yarns like Sea Silk, or do you have a magical and creative way of joining the new ball so the inside is as beautiful as the outside? I’m using a feather-and-fan pattern for the scarf.

  24. Wendy, They def. sent you 1127 instead. It looks nothing like 1126 but it def. matches the other sock. I can’t believe how fast you knit up socks. I am going to attempt to follow your basic toe-up sock pattern and give it a try. Wish me luck!!

  25. I’ve never had a problem with opal, although I’ve only used the fingering weight (the wool/silk mix is really crunchy and yummy). I am also getting over the self-striping/fair-isling yarn – lately I’ve been all about plain knit socks in hand-painted yarn, but I feel a new wave coming of lace socks in almost-solid yarns.

  26. I like the new worsted weight self striping yarns that everyone seems to be making this fall. I’m a knitting heretic and don’t even knit socks, so I can’t comment on the self striping sock yarns.

  27. I am so amazed that you can knit these amazing socks and other projects so fast and you actually work another job! Do you ever sleep? My second pair of socks ever took me three weeks of constant work ( and reworking)! I am so impressed…

  28. I’m not really a big fan of self striping yarns but I seem to keep buying them by accident. I think that it’s because the colors look so pretty together on the skein and that sucks me in without any consideration of what those colors will do when I knit them.

  29. Actually, I think it’s a case of “bad picture – probably good yarn.”

    That picture’s colors are clearly faded. It’s not even close to a quality photo. The folks at Opal should be ashamed that that pic is being used to sell their yarn. The yarn you bought is probably the one pictured, if you look at it, and picture it’s colors a wee bit more vibrant and in focus – like yours, then yeah. That’s the stuff.

    Bad photo.

  30. May I say I don’t much care for striped socks anyway? Some of the self-stripers are cool — your tiger socks come to mind — but as a pretty traditional traditionalist, I don’t want those colors on my feet. Plus, I prefer skirts and dresses to pants (MUCH more comfortable) and those wild colors would look crazy at the bottom of a skirt. So… nope, I don’t particularly like either colorway, even setting aside the amusement value of knitting with them.

  31. Guess it boils down to whatever cranks a person’s tractor. As a beginner I like the self-striping and self-patterning sock yarns because they help you measure your progress, and like Annie of a previous comment, it’s a fun challenge to get the pair to match. I’m looking forward to having my knitting be good enough to sustain a clever pattern in a solid color.

    It’s all fun to me!

  32. Opal is slipping from the sounds of it. They sent you the wrong yarn, they sold you a less than stellar ball of the wrong stuff and their photo is poor quality.

    It’s all in the details.

  33. 1127. Anyone can make a mistake. I’ve misread a band or two in my time!

    I have to confess I love self-striping yarn because it impresses people and they think I made all those stripes myself. Plus the stripes make measuring the second sock easy. Plus it’s a little way to make time pass: Just through the green bit before I stop… Of course, I rarely meet a yarn I don’t like!

    I make two balls of yarn so I can make two socks at the same time. And I agree with that other posting that mentioned knots with inverted color patterns following. That’s really annoying!

  34. Wendy, I just love you because you can call a spade a spade! Anyways.. I am about to place a knitpicks order, I have taken your suggestion and purchased the FiberTrends Leaf Lace pattern and a yummy pumpkin yarn for my first shawl. Do you recommend I get the wires or pins for blocking? Don’t know if there is a rule of thumb. Thanks 🙂

  35. Hi!
    And I hope you not will find that the socks don’t will end up in two pair. Yeah, two pair that’s not are the same when you look at it… You start at the same place in the yarn, and ending up with two socks that’s not are the same… I don’t have word for it!!!
    Hugs Bim

  36. I too have had good luck with Opal in the past. Smith just picked that colorway for a pair of sock…his first. I don’t think we/he thought it would look like that. Hmmmm.

  37. I had one skein fo Opal in the parrot colorway, that was completely missing one color for half the skein. You could tell the dye was supposed to be there, but just wasn’t. So I have one sock with red in it, and one sock that the red is completely missing and that stripe is just white with hints of red. Oddly enough the skein didn’t have any breaks in it, apparently just a wierd dyeing error.

  38. I actually like you’re knitted sample of the Opal better than the picture sample. I like the bit of rust color!