Monday, January 29, 2007

Favorite Sock Yarns

This is one of my favorite pairs of socks, made in 2001 from the brand new Opal yarn (no color numbers back then). I have a sensitivity to scratchy wool, so my favorite sock yarns have to be soft. I can't knit with, much less wear, mohair blends, Shetland Wool, Peace Fleece or Lopi.

I have a lot of different sock yarns in my stash waiting to be tried. The first test in the LYS is to feel the yarn, then look at the colors (and price). I have to say that STR is the best feeling sock yarn ever! It feels like silk, but it's somewhat expensive. I have one finished pair, but they are a little thick to get in my shoes, even though I used the lightest weight.

I absolutely love the wool/cotton blends of sock yarn. One of my favorite socks is made from Online Linie's cotton/wool blend in the Petticoat pattern. 100% cotton sock yarn is too hard on my feet, but the blends feel like cotton and have all the benefits of wool. They wash and dry well, too. I stocked up when I found them on sale because I was afraid they would be discontinued. Sockotta is a great price and makes nice socks. Fixation is a little thick to get in my shoes and I find it hard to knit with, plus it bothers the soles of my feet a little.

The pearled superwash wools like Fleece Artist, Claudia, Opal Gems, CTH Supersock, Koigu etc. are definitely soft enough. I am using some of Lisa Souza's Sock! right now but I haven't test worn them yet. I have some Anne yarn, but it may wind up as a shawl instead of socks. I knit the Pomatomus socks from Fleece Artist last year and they are also one of my favorite socks.

Superwash 100% wools like Cleckheaton are much softer than the wool/nylon blends like Opal and Regia, but I do wear my Opal and Regia socks and give them as gifts to people with less sensitive feet. I also have some KnitPicks Gloss to try which feels great. I am very interested in trying SWTC's new Tofootsi's yarn, made from soy silk.

I did love my first pair of hand knit socks, made from Mountain Color's Weaver's wool, but my husband washed one of them with the regular laundry. It was loosely knit, so it still fits, but I am afraid to let the other sock be washed in case it shrinks too much.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Broken Swift

I have a ballwinder and a swift, but I often use the ball winder and put the hank of yarn around my knees. Unless the yarn is really prone to tangling, like laceweight or ribbon, this seems to work for me. I also rewind the balls the ball winder makes to make them less tightly wound. Socks that Rock yarn is extremely easy to hand wind without a swift or ball winder. I wound one skein sitting in the lobby at Stitches West waiting for dinner. I had half an hour to kill after the market closed, and needed to use the yarn in class the next morning.

I tried using my swift this weekend, and the tip of the wooden screw that tightens the open swift into the correct position has broken off, and the place it screws into is stripped, so my swift is out of action. Has anybody else had to replace the screw and the part on the swift that the screw goes into? I dyed some Lion Brand Fisherman's wool with koolaid and just wound it into a (rather large) ball. That's when I realized my swift was broken. The hank was 8 ozs., so I didn't want to hold it around my knees. I used little figure eight ties made from nylon cord, which didn't take the dye as well as the wool. around the skeined yarn to keep it from tangling. It was a little bit fuzzy/felted from the dye process, but relatively easy to wind, even after I had to put it around my knees. The figure eight knots wind in and out of the skein and then get tied in a knot, not just around the whole hank.

I also finished the third (of four) to be felted Christmas stocking two years late, but it will be ready for next year!

Felting with SWS Soy Silk and Wool

I would be careful double stranding the SWS soy/wool. I tried double stranding a short striping yarn (caron's Felt It) and one strand of yarn kept stretching more than the other one, throwing the matching color stripes I started with out of whack. This may not happen as much with the SWS yarn, because the color stripes are longer.

I also "felt" the swatches at Michaels and decided against felting any of my SWS yarn projects. I have found that using slip stitch patterns works well to double up too light yarn without obscuring the pattern. They felt beautifully, and are much easier to make than a fairisle type stranded bag.

Here's a link to one:
and another

Neither of these would work (IMHO) with the SWS, but this one should:

Knit and felt a swatch first.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Knit from Your Stash 2007

I heard about this Knit from your Stash plan in late December and have been trying to follow it, with one change. I made an inventory of my sock yarn a few weeks ago and determined that, at the rate I have been knitting socks, averaging 9 pairs a year since 2000, I have 20 years worth of sock yarn to knit with. That's at least 270 skeins of sock yarn! (Some are 50 gram and some are 100 gram skeins.) So, no sock yarn purchases either. Sock books, yes. I have my eye on two new books, Sensational Knitted Socks Two and the new Interweave Sock book.

Last year I made a concerted effort to finish all of my second socks and pretty much succeeded. I only have two single socks that I am not actively knitting on sock #2, down from a high of nine. I'm bored with all of the socks I am currently knitting, though (six different pairs, all started last year). I was gifted with a brand new set of vintage Boye Balene prototype DPN's, so I started a new sock over the weekend using stash yarn. It's a combination of this Dutch pattern and Ginger Luter's Swatch Your Step pattern from her wonderful book, Module Magic. I am using Lorna's Laces yarn in the green, teal and purple Lakeview colorway and a solid color medium aqua blue Special Blauband. I'll post pictures soon.

I love using slip stitch patterns. They also work well in socks, for uniting leftover balls of yarn using a 50 gram ball of a solid color as the contrast. and using the leftovers as your contrast color. This makes a striking sock, but there are lots more ends to weave in. I've found they are actually less stretchy and I need to use more stitches. YMMV, and the slip stitch pattern you use also has a lot to do with it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Slip Stitch Patterns in Felting

Slip stitch patterns make wonderful designs in felted items, and tend to strengthen the fabric, especially if you use one strand of worsted weight wool instead of a bulky weight. I made a small felted bag last week from my leftover Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. I used the Ball Band Recipe from Monica's blog, with different yarn, of course. I also knitted the bag without a base, then picked up stitches from the inside of the base and knitted a mitered square to close up the bottom. I used an I-cord bind off to finish the bag, and put in holes for a drawstring just in case that's how I decide to finish it. I haven't felted it yet, but it looks great. As soon as I figure out how to get pictures off my phone or my DD's camera I will post some. I used a chocolate brown main color and, since I had lots of golfball size balls of many colors of the Lamb's Pride, every alternate stripe is a different color. The following is a slight variation on Monica's pattern stitch.

Multiple of 4 stitches:
Round 1 and 2 with MC Knit
Round 3 and 4 with CC *Knit 3, slip 1*
Round 5 and 6 repeat round 1 and 2
Round 7 and 8 with CC Knit 1, *slip 1, Knit 3*, repeat around between *'s
Repeat rounds 1-8 for pattern

Fairisle Felted Bag

I joined a knit along for the Nicky Epstein bag in the Vogue Knitting Holiday issue.
I am using Bartlett's Maine Wool which I had on hand in most of the same colors. I started out knitting it double stranded on size 13 needles to make a larger bag, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the larger size.

I've also been distracted by learning entrelac, and made a bag from leftover Kureyon and a larger bag from Elann's Peruvian Aran, wool and alpaca in nice heathered colors. I'm not using the same colors as the pattern, but close. I like blues, greens and purples myself, but I also included a nice dark heathered red.

This yarn would also work well in the Vogue fairisle bag. I have a swatch card, so I am going to look and see if there are enough of the right colors to make the bag.