Kroy is one of the old standby sock yarns of commercial “big box” craft stores like Michael’s. That’s where I usually find the stuff, and I get the impression from most other knitters that it’s a “substandard” type of yarn. Very rarely do I see it on a knitter’s list of “go to” brands. I think it has to do with the price point and the retailer, as I’ve seen scratchier, harder-to-work-with yarns sell for much more and have much higher reviews.
My first exposure to Kroy yarn was through my Mum. When she realized that I had been truly bitten by the sock-knitting bug, she went through her own stash and found some yarn that she had originally set aside for making handknit socks for my Dad. Mum has always given me the impression that while she loves handknit socks, she’d rather not knit them herself. I’m not sure if it’s the yarn or the tiny needles, or the tiny stitches, but the fact of the matter is that she’d rather knit a baby sweater than a pair of socks. I’m not saying she *can’t* knit socks, just that she chooses not to. Apparently she’s tried, and it wasn’t for her. Fair enough…her loss was my gain.
The ball bands label the yarn as “Lady Galt” Kroy, and the graphic design on them is very reminiscent of the 60’s or 70’s. I doubt the yarn is that old, but it does make me suspect that before Patons bought the brand, it had a previous life of its own. I’m down with that. I tried finding out more about it at one point, but I have to say that I couldn’t find much. The yarn itself feels like a light fingering, while still having a relatively high wool content. Part of the reason I haven’t used it yet is because I’m not sure what gauge to use, and whether or not it might not be more suited for something lacy and girlie rather than a man’s (relatively plain in comparison) sock.
I know that for some of my friends, Kroy is the stuff the buy on sale, but never seem to use. I know that for myself, the gauge has been something I’ve had to get used to. I generally knit socks around 8 stitches per inch over size 2.5mm needles. This gives a fabric that, for most fingering weight yarns, is neither too tight nor too loose. Kroy, however, is deceptive. It makes you think that it is normal fingering weight yarn, but it has a tendency to be just that wee bit plumper than you think. At my usual gauge, it creates a fabric that I find difficult to work with. I’ve actually had to go up a couple of needle sizes. I think I currently use Size 3 needles (3.25mm), and change the amount of stitches in a round appropriately.
I’ve found that Kroy is great for socks for the men in my life. They’re thick and warm, and the solid colours are generally very male. Lots of light brown, light and dark greys, blues…definitely nothing that most Dads will dismiss as being “too wild”. They make a wonderfully conservative sock, and because I knit mine at a lower gauge, they move a little quicker on the needles. Think about it…if you’re ditching approximately 20 stitches per round, you make much better time. Great socks for a gift that you don’t have a lot of time to devote to knitting.
I’ve also found that the striping Kroy socks make wonderfully warm socks for *me*. I will often start them from the toe-up, and my latest trick has been to put in an afterthought heel. This means that my stripes can be continuous, and I can either save back a bit of my striped yarn for the heel, or I can use some of the neutrally-coloured solid yarn for toes and heels. This gives me a much higher cuff, as I can just keep on knitting. It also gives more “fashion” to this humble workhorse yarn. I don’t need my Kroy to be lacy. The odd cable is fine, but on the whole, this is my go-to yarn for plain, ordinary, warm woollen socks.
Yep. I’m a knitter, and I’d like to think that even with my limited exposure to different “brands”, I’m a bit of a sock yarn connoisseur, but I would have to classify Kroy as a Go-To yarn. I don’t always put my Kroy socks in my Ravelry project page because they’re not a major project for me, but I generally have at least one pair on the needles. They’re not flashy, and they’re not the most photogenic of socks, but I love the fact that I can stick some needles and a skein into my purse and have a pair of socks in just a couple of days. They’re fast, and they’re perfect purse knitting. In fact, they go fast enough, you may just need a second project just to slow you down! Also, due to the larger gauge, they’re also perfect for the younger set and those just learning how to knit socks. 60 to 80 sts around can be daunting for someone just learning how to knit socks, and anything you can do to bring that number down just gives more of an aura of easysauce. I can’t argue with Easysauce.
Over the course of this month, I plan on walking through the basics of sock knitting for those of my readers who are interested. I’ve had a few personal friends express interest, but claim to be boggled by the physics involved (I’m looking at you, Zoe). Consider Sundays as your weekly December Sock Class. For that, I’d recommend picking up at least two, if not three skeins of Kroy (or comparable) sock yarn, and a good set of circular needles that you find you can get a comfortable gauge with. I’ll be working on my 3.25mm needles at a gauge of 7 sts / inch, on a sock that should fit either a large woman or an average man (approx 50 sts around). We’ll start off with the cuff and leg. Because these should knit up fast, you can always catch up if you start a little late.
And for the love of Pete (whoever Pete is), choose a colour or stripe that you’ll like! You won’t finish if you don’t like what you’re knitting! 🙂