I usually get sick once a year, maaaybe twice but most of the time I get a knock down drag em out awful terrible cold about once every 12 months. 2 years ago it was the stomach flu on Christmas Eve... yeah that was fun, and then just this past Spring the whole family got hit with this monster cold. Because I enjoy good health for most of the time I am always surprised and a little disappointed when I do get sick. Especially with the type of cold that makes you stuffy and confused in the head, because then knitting is hard and not really enjoyable.
Since I was basically just lying around and just lying around makes me antsy, and all my projects were too complicated I wandered upstairs to the stash looking for something bright, happy and simple. I also wanted socks, it was barely spring, I was sick and my feet were cold. The red, blue, yellow skein of yarn was a birthday gift from a very dear friend a few years ago and at the time I had immediately run out and bought the red to match. Not having a clue what to do with them then they were relegated to the stash. They were discontinued colors and yarn bases, and that morning they called to me, so bright and cheerful just the right thing to help my grumpy grumps.
I have knit a fair number of socks and despite my love of intricate patterning, lace and cables there is one thing a sock needs to have for me to actually choose it above all the other socks. A stockinette foot, simply that, I guess enough years of wearing commercial socks has me totally programmed to like a smooth cover on my foot. But when I truly enjoy wearing a handknit sock it is always the ones with plain stockinette feet, so in the pursuit of comfort while I was sick, a plain foot was first on my list.
Second was top down, I know, I know, most knitters balk at top down but I just like them. I can never quite get the length right in the foot on a toe up sock and I feel like the top down version fits my foot better anyways. So top down because it is what I like, and petulantly sick I was doing what I liked. And since I was rolling with a self indulgent streak a super simple basic heel turn was also being added, nothing fancy. My favorite moment of knitting a sock (and probably the reason I knit them) is the moment when you've just finished the heel flap, and short rows and pickup around for the Gusset, and this weird tube with a flap suddenly realizes its purpose. There is magic in that moment and I needed magic right then.
And Third it needed to be the ultimate simple alligator brain knit, something so mild and easy that my mucus filled noggin could not only knit it but also write the pattern. I wanted to showcase the yarn colors in a simple and striking way, emphasize that they are similar but different and also play with the fact that since the colors are so close they can fade in and out of the patterning. Stripes seemed the right choice since they were simple enough to see the pattern through the color changes, and easy on the brain.
But stripes? Really? They are so.. done... I mean I love them and all but I am also tired of them. These needed to be something a little more special than just stripes, something that made stripes more than lines. Something that appealed to my need for more patterning all the time... but with less patterning.
The stripes in these socks are worked with a 4 row 2 row repeat, the leg area is worked with the 2 rows in garter and the foot area is all in stockinette. The color roles are reversed on the foot of the sock, and the second sock is worked with opposite color roles, for a fraternal but still matching pair. Because the socks are shorter in the leg the yardage requirements can accomodate a totally matching pair if you like. And since they use a small 50g skein of yarn you can always work with small leftover amounts and use up some stash!
Rainbow Shortstack is available as a PDF download here, and all the specifics are there as well.