Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sock Wars V

Sometime in December: dyed some yarn by throwing all the leftover red dye (four shades) into one pot, ended up with pretty kettled-dyed yarn, thought to myself "hm, looks like bloodstains, better save it for Sock Wars."
Jan. 1-14: made a pair of Barcelonas to train up.  First top-down sock, first heel flap, first Kitchener stitch.  Adjusted the pattern for magic loop, felt very pleased with myself.
Jan. 9: received dossier on target via email.  She requests red - hooray! - which means I have my yarn all ready.
Jan. 13: swatched, determined that 2.5 mm needles would give me required gauge of 8 sts/in.
Jan. 15, 2 PM: folded all the laundry, did the dishes
Jan. 15, 4 PM: showered
Jan. 15, 4:15 PM: took the toddler to the corner store and bought supplies (oreos, candy, coke)
Jan. 15, 5 PM: Sock Wars V begins!  Patterns released.  Parked toddler in front of the television and started two different patterns before selecting Don't Box Me In.

Jan. 15-16: worked incessantly on death socks, including all-nighter Friday night.  Finished socks Saturday night.
Jan. 17: drove 96 miles in pouring rain to deliver death socks to target, came home with her socks-in-progress.  Kill #1accomplished.  Napped.  Worked on death socks for target #2.
Jan. 19: finished death socks for target #2.
Jan. 20: mailed death socks to Illinois.
Jan. 22: death socks received in Illinois.  Kill #2 accomplished.
Jan. 23: received word that Kill #2's target in Colorado mailed her socks-in-progress to me.

And here I wait.  I expect I may get death socks in the mail from my assassin in New York at any time.  She seems to be the silent stealthy type.  Target #3 is located in Washington.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Flashing Socks

Pooling and flashing are terms used to refer to blobs or streaks of color that appear when variegated yarn is worked up.  Usually I love to see yarn asserting its independence and getting all rambunctious on me, but as a yarn dyer I needed to better understand when pooling happens so I can control it.

My first foray into an experiencial investigation.  When I was knitting Christmas socks, I calculated that it takes roughly an inch of yarn to make two stitches in stockinette.  I have also used the rule of thumb that one armlength of yarn makes a row of sock knitting.  My armlength is about 28", and my socks are usually 60 stitches around, so this jives pretty well.

My plan was to dye a skein of sock yarn with a 30" repeat, aiming to make a pattern repeat that would correspond to a row of sock knitting.  Since it is hard to wind 420 yards of sock yarn into a 30" hank (the hank gets so fat that the yarn wound toward the end of the skein has a slightly longer diameter than the yarn would at the beginning of the skein), I settled for a 60" hank dyed in two pattern repeats.  This is what my yarn looked like dyed up:

Each section of yarn is as close to 10 inches as I could get.  I used tight ties between the colors to minimize bleeding, thinking that if there were little undyed sections in between then would serve to emphasize the boundaries between the colors.

(The green dye needed to sit for longer before being used - it separated at at the ends which is why you see turquoise there.)

If everything were perfect and consistent, I would end up with socks that had three vertical columns, one of each color.  More likely, I thought, would be slow spirally indicating that my pattern repeat is slightly longer or shorter than one round of sock knitting.

I've only knitted up one sock so far but here's how it came out:
Since the rounds at the toe are shorter than the rounds for the body of the sock, the pooling pattern doesn't establish itself until the end of the toe when each round is 60 stitches.

(Details: base yarn is Kraemer Jeannie sock yarn, dyes are Jacquard acid dyes in sapphire, emerald, and silver gray, sock was knitted toe-up on 2.5mm/size US 1.5 needles at 60 stitches per round.  The short-row heel was worked with yarn from the free end of the skein so the pooling pattern would not be disrupted.)

As I was working, spiraling to the left would indicate that my pattern repeat is slightly longer than a round of knitting; spiraling to the right would be caused by my pattern repeat being too short.  In this photo the sock is orientated upside-down so spiraling to the right means my pattern repeat was slightly too long.  (Edited three months later - I just read a post on Ravelry that points out that spiraling looks the same upside-down, so what I wrote above is totally wrong.   Spiraling to the right means that my pattern repeat was too short.  If you look at my picture upside-down, the green part still travels from upper left to lower right.  How embarrassing.)

<---My favorite part is right here when the spiraling reverses itself.  When I winding my hank the chairs must have skidded closer together, shortening the diameter of the hank for the rest of the skein.  I'm fairly certain the second sock will not do this.

Moral of the story:  if you want to avoid pooling when making something in the round, you need to figure out how many inches of yarn are needed to make a complete round in your project.  Also you need to measure the length of a pattern repeat in your yarn.  This is the length of the hank the dyer wound the yarn in before dyeing.  If your pattern repeat is the same as the length of yarn for a round, or if the pattern repeat length divides evenly into your one-round length, or if it's close, you will have pooling.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Best Christmas Present Ever

My dad made me a swift for Christmas.  He dismantled an excellence award he got at work in 2004 (left the plaque on the base - nice touch!), made the rest in his woodshop and stained it all to match.  It's just beautiful!  I never really needed one until recently, since I mostly use yarns that come in pull-skeins, but as I'm experimenting with different sock yarns to use as a base (for my eventual Etsy store!) I have had to deal with hanks of yarn more and more often.  It was tremendous fun setting the swift up in the living room and skeining off all the hanks I had lying around.  And very satisfying to have said skeins come out in perfectly tensioned little yarn cakes!

(In case you'd like to make one of your own, or drop a hint to your own dad or favorite handyman, this is where he got the recipe.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Yarn-related New Year Resolutions

1) I will make my first sweater
2) I will start (if not finish) the Lizard Ridge afghan
3) I will use more sock yarn than I buy
4) I will get a resale license so I can set up an Etsy shop for my hand-dyed sock yarn
5) I will get through Sock Wars V without embarrassing myself.