Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dr. Frankensock dissects a sock flat for your benefit

Let's get all biological with the sock "blank." Let's dissect it, examine its parts, see what happens when we do a little Doctor Frankenstein with the dyed flat. The point of this exercise in sockian anatomy is to translate the different potential patterns made in the colors to what it may look like knit up in a sock. Perhaps this will entice you to try a new dyed pattern, or to do a little dissection of your own. Perhaps this will inspire you to try dyeing a sock flat and do something new. Hopefully this information will be interesting. It certainly was super fun to both dye and knit.

To start the lesson, here is a picture of the dyed sock flat. It's a two-strand machine knit flat of fingering weight yarn. The fiber content is 60% Merino superwash, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon. This yarn is sometimes called "Squish" when in a Yarn Hollow skein. The Yarn Hollow flats are sometimes branded as "Sock Religious" - for those devoted to sock knitting. In either the skein or the flat dyed piece, there are 434 yards of yarn, enough for a long, highly patterned sock.

The dye colors were chosen in order to show a lot of contrast in the sections knitted. I used periwinkle, lime, pear, tan, chocolate brown, and indigo.

                                                                                         Yarn, Safety Pin, Life Line

To start a Yarn Hollow sock flat, start with the edge that contains a safety pin that is winding three separate threads: one life line, and the double stranded yarn. Unpin the safety pin and untie the tie securing the three threads. ne thread is going to be obviously a different thread - most likely cotton. This is the lifeline. Gently pull out the lifeline.

Pull out the lifeline

Then find the two strands that are the Merino/Bamboo/Nylon and give a yank. This will start them unravelling from the larger piece. I wind one into a small ball as I unravel and then pin it to the main piece with the safety pin.

Start unravelling

Now, onto the cuff. I cast on 72 stitches on size 1 needle, 24 stitches on each needle, and knit a k2 p2 cuff starting with the lead thread. If you see the color changes at the top of the flat, it starts with lime, then pear, then a little tan, then chocolate brown. Easy peasy.
Top of the sock flat, showing the color changes lime, pear, tan, chocolate, a thin line of tan, and more chocolate

Ribbing, changing from lime, to pear, to tan, to chocolate brown

To show you what white/ecru, undyed spaces can look like knit up, the next section I chose was the periwinkle and white thick vertical stripe with a periwinkle and tan vertical stripe below it. Underneath that is a thick periwinkle stripe. This section comprises the majority of the leg knitting.
In the dyed flat piece

Leg Knit from flat piece shown above
Just below the large periwinkle stripe there is a thin stripe of chocolate brown, which is the last of the straight-knit leg before the heel flap.

For the heel flap, I took the ball I had unravelled and set aside, and separated the strands. This became the heel flap and heel cup. You can see that section in the flat knit piece in the photo above. It is the section that is the second thick brown stripe with a tan stripe underneath. It worked perfectly for the flap and cup.

Heel flap and cup (eye of partridge for flap, 36 stitches, 36 rows)

After the heel flap and cuff, I changed yarn again and started with the section just past the white and indigo diagonal stripe. So to get to that area, I unraveled the white and indigo diagonal stripe into one ball and started knitting with the area just below it. I didn't use the entire section, using the first shorter diagonal section and half of the multi-colored stripes. I really love the blend of periwinkle, lime, pear with hints of tan and brown.


Flat Knit Section for the Instep Decreases                                                       Instep Decreases

Okay, almost done with the dissection. Now I just need to wait for the electrical storm... just kidding...

Seriously, the next section is the straight-knit foot section, which due to the monstrous size of my feet, goes on forever. So I chose the previously-unraveled white and indigo diagonal stripe. It's interesting how the white/ecru area with the indigo make a pattern slightly evocative of arrowheads. See this result inspires me to try different contrasts and larger sections of diagonal striping...

White and Indigo Diagonal Stripes

Pattern slightly evocative of arrowheads

Now for the toe. I changed to the last remaining bit of the knitted, dyed flat piece, in the leopard pattern. It was neat to just knit away on it, watching the colors change on the white/ecru background.

The toe.

Here's the complete sock. I love it!


To quickly go over the details, I cast on 72 stitches on size 1 US (2.25 mm) double pointed needles. The ribbed cuff was about 2-1/2 inches long, the leg about 6 inches long. The heel flap was knit on 36 stitches for 26 rows. I picked up 19 side stitches on each side of the flap. The toe was decreased in a standard 4-section decrease on every other row. The toe was finished with Kitchner stitch on about 10 stitches front and back. I like a wider toe.

Next, two socks knit from Cookie A patterns in which I expound on how much I love her pattern writing. One will be from a Sockreligious flat and the other is from a new yarn, Elemental, with a hint of silver.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Socks, Socks, Socks, and Shawls

Roxie McGee came up with a different way to knit her socks from the Sock Religious product, and was so kind as to agree to let me post on the blog about it. She was not a fan of big stripes, and wanted a more subtle transition of color in her socks, so she prepared the yarn into four smaller balls, and is knitting with two strands from two balls, knitting two socks at the same time. Make sense? Here's the detail.
She snipped the middle of the sock blank to divide it into half. Then she made two identical balls from the top part of the flat knitted piece (A and A1 I'll call them) and then two identical balls from the bottom part of the flat knitted piece (B and B1). Then she is holding two strands together - A and B for one sock and A1 and B1 for the second sock.

She's knitting a Cat Bordhi sock patter from New Pathways for Sock Knitters, and has a modified toe, which looks great. Notice the great tweedy look from the two strands held together - it's a great looking, and cushioning sock!

Renee Pattison
also shared a flat knitted piece that she dyed at the Color Play Class at City Knitting in November, 2008. She is knitting the Sugar Maple from 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.
You can see in this picture are big area of the hand-dyed knitted fabric being used.

I love how they are turning out! Renee provided several pictures to show the progress, and has written about them on her blog. It was great to meet Renee at the class, and we had a great time dyeing the blank knitted pieces.

This class is being held again on April 18th, 2009 at City Knitting in Eastown. Call them at (616) 454-YARN to sign up. It's enormously fun, and there are two sessions to choose from - 8:00 a.m. - Noon or 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

OK, now for some big news. Someone you all know is going to be a vendor at Sock Summit 2009 from August 5-9. Can you say shocked? I can. My first reaction was "No Way!" Now the reaction fluctuates between "I am so excited" and "Holy Moly there is a lot to do to get there." But get there we will, "we" being my dear husband  - my stalwart travel companion for this enormous adventure - and I. There are a few new products in the works for this, using some of the very best local wool as well. Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive, encouraging, and generous with offers of help to prepare! I know I can do it, and I will be taking you all up on your generous offers; with your help and support it will be that much better! More on this as it develops.

Sock Summit 2009
OK, that covers "Socks, Socks, Socks..." from the title. Now "...and Shawls." I had cast on last summer for a Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann. It's knit in a Superfine Merino 2-ply at 875 yards to 4 ounces/113 grams. It got stalled out because I was thinking that the color combination - "Phoenix"  - was too busy for the shawl.

[Pi Shawl Center]
I have had a change of heart, and think that it's pretty awesome. It does swirl, there's a lot to look at, but the pattern is simple - only yarn overs in increase rows.

[Pi Shawl Swirls of Color, and Increase Row]
Many knitters add fabulous eyelet and other pattern combinations in the non-increase rows for beautiful effect - just look at all the fabulous projects for the Pi Shawl on Ravelry. I am choosing to keep this one simple and let the colors just play. It's nearly time to choose a decorative border - perhaps in knit, perhaps in crochet. Not sure yet, but I am dedicated to finishing this and adding it to the display as another option for color lover!

[There's a lot of yarn left from an 8-ounce skein!]

OK, next post... Baby Surpise Jacket/booties/hat, "Surprise, Surprise" by City Knitting, and some amazing felt made from Targhee X wool from Agriculture and Health Alive in Marne, MI. Let's see what becomes of it!
And thanks to Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of the Grand Rapids Press and Craft Sanity. She was at the Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild last night, and her talk inspired me to blog today, and commit to blogging more regularly. Thanks, Jennifer!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thanks Rowan for Showing Us More Great Socks!

Rowan O'Dougherty is a pretty amazing knitter. One of the best I know. Prolific, great tension, adventurous, never-say-can't (check out his lace projects on Ravelry...) type of knitter. He has graciously sent pictures of the socks he has designed using one of the Sock Religious sock flats. The one he chose is a subtle range of browns and caramels.

He designed his sock toe-up, with a double-decrease at the top of the foot to eat the extra stitches from the gusset. It is elegant and shapely.

I love the gentle transitions in colors with a few rows of each color alternating between the various solids.

Check out Rowan's blog for more information about him and his beautiful projects.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Are You Devoted to Sock Knitting?

Knitting and crocheting from a machine-knit and hand-dyed piece of knitting seems to be all the rage right now, and Yarn Hollow has a product that fits the niche! Introducing "Sock Religious," a product for those of you who are devoted to sock knitting.

The yarn, a Merino Superwash/Bamboo/Nylon blend, is perfect for socks. It has the softness, loft, and wash-ability of merino superwash, the anti-microbial properties, wicking, and strength of bamboo, with nylon for wearability and memory. Each piece has 4 oucnes/434+ yards of yarn, enough to make a highly-patterned, long sock, or a scarf, gloves, a hat knit or crochet in a fine gauge, or other fiber arts product that will delight you.

Each Sock Religious flat-knit piece is machine knit with two strands of yarn, creating two identical strands which will then create two identical socks, if that is your wish.

The funnest part of Sock Religious is the seeing how the color placement works out as a result of the dyeing. Stripes make stripes, of course, but the more random and symbolic-inspired patterns create enormous variety in color placement. Diane Vander Pol, a member of the Woodland Weavers and Spinners, knit these socks with a Sock Religious piece where the motif vageuly resembles a "tumbling dice" pattern. Look at the before and after! It's magical!

Sock Sole knit from flat knitted Sock Religious piece (shown above)

You can find Yarn Hollow flat-knitted, hand-dyed pieces at City Knitting in Eastown and Country Needleworks on Chicago Drive in Jenison. More information about the products will be uploaded at the Yarn Hollow website, too.

As always, if you have purchased a flat knitted, hand-dyed piece and have comments or feedback, I would love to hear from you!

Two more pictures of the work of Diane Vander Pol, knitter extraordinaire. Thanks for sharing, Diane!