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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sock Blank

This title strikes me as sort of funny, as socks are anything but BLANK!! But for those of you who are new to this, a sock blank is a machine-knit piece of fabric about 12" wide and about 18" long. It is knit using two strands of sock yarn. You can dye this blank in any way you like, then ravel it out and knit with it. Some people suggest knitting straight from the blank and doing 2 socks at the same time. I know that the crinkles in the yarn would drive me nuts, so I raveled it out while it was still wet from dyeing and let it dry on my skein winder.

The first step is to soak the blank in water for at least 1 hour, but I always just loose track of the time, and I sometimes remember it the next day. Not to worry; it's always fine. I decided I wanted the socks to come out with lightning zigzags, so experimented with dyeing vertical stripes up the blank. Here is a picture of it partially painted with the stripes. and then raveled and drying on the skein winder.

When the yarn was knit up, alas, I did not get lightning zigzags, but I did love the the look of it.

Tomorrow is another day, another experiment. Today was busy doing secretarial work; I had to book a plane ticket and submit proposals to various places. I did get some time to work on my double knitting. I am teaching a class on this at Stitches East in Hartford Oct 28-31. It is a fascinating topic and very fun to do.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

self-striping sock yarn

The other day I decided to dye a 20 yd skein of sock yarn to make self-striping yarn. It was great fun. Here are the pictures to prove it, and the socks came out pretty nice. Of course, it's alot easier to just buy the yarn! I decided to try the two socks on two circulars. It was tough going at first, then I got used to it. By the time I finished the gussets (the bottom side of the toes are shown in this picture), I had had it. I put them on my beloved double pointed needles to finish them off one at a time. These socks are, of course, knit using the Strick-ly Socks method...that is, the toes and heels are knit flat. Everything is started at the base of the toes.

Here's the finished sock. There are diagonal ribs on the cuff, which are hard to see because the bright stripes sort of obscure them.

Stay tuned for my experiment with dyeing a sock blank.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coventry Farmer's Market

Today was one of those beautiful and rare days that happen in September. Just when you think summer is over, you get a treat. The temperature was summer-like, but of course the light is totally different, and by 5 PM, it has already cooled off. To me, these days are better than summer.

Once a year, the Farmer's Market of Coventry holds its Fiber Day. Besides the usual summer food produce booths, there are booths of yarn, fiber, animals, and special demonstrations and presentations. It is held at the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry. Nathan Hale is probably the most famous Connecticut resident. He gave up his life in 1776 when he was tried and hung as a spy. His famous last words, "I regret I have but one life to give for my country" are familiar to every American.

Ken and I set out from our home in Mansfield, 11 miles away, on our bikes. We arrived just as the market was opening. The very first stop was to see some adorable angora rabbits. Poor little guys were pretty hot already, but their considerate owner draped some cloth over their cage to give them some shade. Next were the beautiful and long-necked alpaca babies who refused to look at my camera. As always, you can smell the kettle corn wherever you happen to be. I was lured into a booth that sold both alpaca yarn and roving. I deliberated over the roving for the entire time, then decided that I already have lots of it at home. We bought some corn and tomatoes and headed home on our bikes.

These guys refused to look at me!

Can you smell it?
English tea treats and authentic Colonial garb.

Can you imagine this sock display?

I've been busy doing things that are not really related to my actual work, and when this happens, I know exactly why I am doing it. It's procrastination in the highest form. I decided I needed to dye some self-striping sock yarn. Why? I have no clue, but I had to do it. Now that's it's all dyed, I have to knit the socks from it. I am going to try the Strick-ly Socks method but do two at a time on two circulars. I have never been a real fan of this method, as I love my double points. The idea is there, so I have to do it. I have tons of other work to do, but these side-tracks happen to me every now and then, and I guess it's just my mind saying, "take a break." So I do.
Strick-ly Socks is now up at Amazon, and I gotten a few nice reviews. I've got to get to work on Strick-ly Shawls. There are some really beautiful ones I am working on, and lots more in my head. Here's hoping for another gorgeous summer day tomorrow!