Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mock Ribbed Socks
(Click on photo to enlarge)

I need a couple more pairs of lighter weight socks for summertime wear and I had some nice CoBaSi cotton yarn in my stash.  I really like this yarn.  It’s 55% cotton, 16% bamboo, 8% silk and 31% elastic nylon.  Most of the other cottons I’ve tried are about as heavy or heavier than most of my wool socks so they really aren’t much of a benefit in warmer weather.
The label on CoBaSi recommends 6.5 to 8 sts per inch, but I knit the ribbing in T5 and the body at T6 on my standard gauge machine, which gave me a gauge of 9 sts and 12 rows per inch.  I don’t like sloppy socks and these seem to hold their shape well and stay on my feet at this gauge.

I wanted something a bit different than the plain ol’ socks that I normally knit but I really don’t have much patience for hand manipulated lace so this is what I decided on.  After I knit the ribbed cuffs, I converted to circular knitting, then transferred every 6th stitch to out of work position and knit as I would any other circular sock.  After I worked the shortrowed heel, I continued with the foot in circular but didn’t work the out of work needles on the sole. 

My foot is 10.5” long and 8.5” around; here’s my ‘recipe’:
1.  CO 64 sts, 1x1 ribbing for 56 rows at T5.
2.  For a seam up the back, transfer all stitches to the ribber bed.
3.  Transfer ¼ of the stitches on each side to the main bed to work in circular.
4.  Evenly transfer every 6th stitch to its neighbor and put the empty needles out of work.
5.  T6, K110 rows circular in ankle.
6.  Work shortrowed heel down to 10 sts.
7.  Keeping the out of work needle pattern on the ribber bed (instep), K124 rows circular for foot.
8.  Work shortrowed toe the same as for the heel.
9.  Scrap off, sew seam up the back of ribbing, graft the toe seam.

Note that I usually run a strand of Woolly Nylon in the heels and toes of my socks.  If I don’t use Woolly Nylon, I lower my tension dial by one full number.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Watermelon Socks, knit flat
(Click on photos to enlarge)
30 Nov 2016
Well, blogger is at it again.  I've been trying to reply to a nice comment left for this pattern and it won't let me post, so I'm answering the comment from 'Unknown' from earlier this afternoon and hope it helps the rest of you too.
The comment was:
I know this is a old post but how many sts did you increase to for the ankle? you start with 66 and it looks like you increase by about 10 (5 each side) but can't be sure.
And my reply is:
Thanks for your comments and bringing to my attention that my schematics might have thrown you (and others) off.  I don't increase any sts for the ankle.  In the case of 66 sts CO, the total number of sts remain at 66, the same throughout.  My schematics appeared that there was an increase so I 'fixed the schematics' diagrams and replaced them to what the actual knitting should look like.  Sorry if I caused some confusion but it should be clearer now.  Again thanks for looking at my blog and bringing this to my attention.

 This is what happens when 2 teenage granddaughters put their heads together and sweet talk their grandmother into making them a pair of socks that they just ‘have to have’.  They, of course, knew they’d win.  ☺

It was a fun project but they didn’t happen overnight.  I couldn’t find sock yarn in colors that I needed so that meant dyeing yarn, which also meant ordering dyes and a cone of sock yarn.  Then I had to wait for the weather to warm up a bit so I could be outside to do the dyeing.  So during the wait for things to come together, I planned my attack and decided on a g-carriage pattern and designed it in DAK.  Then I needed to come up with correct sizing.  The new cone of yarn I got was heavier than the last one I got from the same company and it didn’t gauge out the same.  So I spent a few days working up the pattern and frogging a couple socks until I came up with what I thought would fit one of the girls.  I basted it together and had one of them try it on and, voila, it fit.  So I am a happy camper.

I started with the cuff ribbing, then worked the ankle with the g-carriage.  I wanted the ankle seam to run up the back so I scrapped off ¼ of the stitches on each side of ‘0’ and continued with the garter pattern on the center half of the stitches to the toe.  Then because I wanted the facing garter pattern to be on the public side, I turned my work with a garter bar and I proceeded to shortrow the toe, knit the sole and worked the shortrowed heel in stockinette stitch.  To be able to graft the heel seam and have the pattern continue, I turned the fabric and then scrapped off, to be grafted later.

I randomly worked the ‘seeds’ with duplicate stitch with a strand of black 4 ply yarn split into 2 strands.  I had thought about using glass beads for the seeds but both girls thought they'd prefer the comfort of duplicate stitch.  I seamed each side of the foot, the back of the ankle and lastly grafted across the heel.  I tried a couple different methods of SAYG on the foot sides but they looked too conspicuous for my liking so I opted to use a Bickford seam on the public side after they came off the machine.  Much better.  On one edge of the fabric, I came up thru a loop and down the next knot, then moved over to the other edge and did the same thing…came up thru a loop and down the next knot.   On the back ankle seam, I used the same method but worked from the wrong side of the fabric. 

I soon learned that adding the duplicate stitching for the ‘seeds’ was much easier if done before the sock was seamed up.  I worked the 'seed's vertically so they wouldn't get stretched too much horizontally while wearing.  I seamed one side of the foot, did the duplicate stitches, then finished the seaming. 

What a fun pair of socks!  But there is a lot of hand work after they come off the machine.  I have one more pair to make for the other gal and I'll post pictures when they're done....stay tuned.  I've included my schematic pattern for the first pair I made that might help you get going if you want to make a pair.  This is for a size 8 narrow foot, 9.5" long.

I've also included my DAK 'melon' pattern but you may use any g-carriage design you like.

P.S.  I should add that I use Pro Chemical Pro One Shot dyes.

Monday, May 13, 2013

More Spring Beauty
(Click on photos to enlarge)

We're not professional bird watchers but when we see something like these beauties, we become bird gawkers.  I put the hummingbird feeder up a couple days ago so they'd have food when they returned and the orioles claimed it as theirs.  We've had a fun day watching them even though not much else got accomplished.  The pictures were taken through 2 panes of window glass and would be even more glorious if they hadn't been.  I see the camera picked up some of the reflections from the glass but guess we can't be too fussy if they want to show off for us.  We're still waiting for the hummingbirds to make a showing.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Spring!!
(Click on photos to enlarge)

Spring has finally arrived in the north central US!  Our first dandelions appeared yesterday AM…grumble, grumble.  But they have their beauty too, we just don’t all appreciate it.  We made a trip to the greenhouse for a couple hanging baskets for Mother’s Day so there are lots of opportunities to experiment with my new camera. 

The birds have been singing and gathering goodies for their nests, the frogs are happy and we've had some deer visiting our back yard.  They haven't lost their winter coats yet so they're looking kind of shaggy.  What they say about the grass being greener over the septic tank is really true, just ask the deer.  If you’ll look closely at the picture of the deer, you’ll see ‘buds’ on their heads where their horns are forming.

The trees are so close to leafing out and the DH has been working in the garden.  But all this gloriousness doesn’t come without a downside, the dreaded allergies are back too….grumble, grumble again.  But we will survive; we’ve been waiting a long time for this.

Enjoy the pictures. 



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Paint Dyeing a Skein for Variegated Yarn

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Today I’m showing how I paint a skein of yarn to achieve a variegated yarn.  In this case, I only wanted 2 shades of the same color with short spans but you can use any amount of colors, in whatever length your pattern calls for.

1.  First off, my yarn came from a cone so I wound the yarn into a skein with my DIY niddy noddy.  I have 3 different shaft lengths to make 3 different length skeins.  Instructions for making your own niddy noddy with PVC pipe can be found at   It works great and doesn’t cost a fortune.  Be sure to tie off the yarn with figure 8’s so it doesn’t get tangled in the dyeing process.  And I tie a long strand of yarn thru and around the skein which comes in handy for lifting the skein when wet and also keeps it from tangling.

2.  Wet the yarn skein by ‘laying’ it on top of lukewarm water in a sink or pail.  Do not force the yarn into the water but let it soak up and submerge by itself.  Depending on the yarn and/or how it’s wound, the air bubbles that could be trapped by forcing it into the water may create resists to prevent the dye from being absorbed evenly.

3.   After the entire skein of yarn has been submerged by itself in the water, add a squirt of Dawn dishsoap or Synthrapol to the water and gently sozzle the yarn.  This releases any oil residue in the yarn.  Gently, rinse with lukewarm water and let soak in fresh water for atleast 30 minutes.

4.   While the yarn is soaking, prepare the dyes according to manufacturer’s directions and prepare the work surface.  I use a painter’s plastic drop cloth to cover my whole working area.  Then I lay down 2 long sheets of plastic wrap over the drop cloth.  When I’m painting with dyes, I add a couple tsp of white vinegar to the dye solution before applying to the yarn.  Certainly follow your manufacturer’s instructions for adding vinegar (acid), but when I’m vat dyeing in my crockpot, I always add the vinegar at the end of the process after the required temperature has been maintained for 30 minutes.

5.   After soaking the yarn for atleast 30 minutes, remove it from the water and gently squeeze (do not wring) to remove the water.  I use an old bath towel to wrap around the skein, lay it on the floor and walk on it.  The more water that can be removed before applying the dyes, the less the dyes will run into each other.  Lay the skein onto the prepared work surface with the seam of the plastic wrap running down thru the middle.  This plastic wrap will be used later to wrap the dyed skein for heating.

6.   Now the fun begins.  Wear rubber gloves!  Apply dye to the yarn in whatever pattern you like.  I prefer to use foam sponges but a squeeze bottle, syringe or anything of the like can be used to apply the dye.  Use your fingers to work in the dye as you work.  From experience, I’ve learned to apply the dark colors first, then fill in with lighter colors.  The colors will run together and if the dark color is already there, the lighter color won’t make much of a difference to it.  But a dark color merging into a lighter color will change the color or intensity of the lighter one.   Also be choosy about the colors you put next to each other.  If you don’t want any green in your yarn, don’t put yellow and blue next to each other.

7.   Carefully turn the skein over to see if the back has been saturated with color.  If not to your liking, turn the whole skein over and apply more dye to that side.  I wanted a tonal quality so I wasn’t real concerned about the backside but I didn’t want any white either, so I did turn my skein over and applied more dye.  If you want a solid color, blot up excess water with paper towels as you work.   Yarn that is  saturated with water won’t take dye real well.

8.   When your dyeing is to your liking, blot up excess water with layers of paper towels.  Check your work.  If you want more color or more even color, blot up as much water as you can and reapply more dye.  Again, blot up excess water before wrapping for heat setting.

9.   Use the 2 sheets of plastic wrap that you’ve been working on to wrap around the yarn skein, wrapping half of the skein with one sheet and the other half with the other.  Don’t wrap it with one sheet of plastic as you don’t want the colors from each section touching each other.  You may need to use another sheet of plastic to wrap the ends.  Yarn should not be directly exposed to steam or heat.

10.  I use a 7 qt crockpot for heat setting. In this case, steam will be used.  I have a little DIY rack that fits in the bottom of my crockpot to elevate the yarn over the water.  Don’t let the yarn sit in water, it’ll dilute the colors.  Put enough warm water in the crockpot to boil, my rack is about 4” tall.   I like using a crockpot because most dye manufacturer's recommend a gradual rise in heat.  I've never had a dye failure using my crockpot.

11.  Turn the crockpot on high and let heat til the water simmers.  Temperature of the yarn should reach about 200 degrees for atleast 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, turn the crockpot off and let the yarn cool on its own to a temperature that will allow handling.  When cool enough to comfortably handle, unwrap the yarn and carefully rinse with the same temperature water as the yarn.  Use a squirt of Dawn dishwashing liquid or Synthrapol to remove any excess dye that hasn’t bonded to the yarn.  Rinse til the water runs clear.  Squeeze, remember not to wring, the yarn and wrap in a towel again, walk on it and hang to dry.

12.  When the yarn is completely dry, wind it into a cake and you’re ready to create and take pleasure in a project made with your own dyed yarn.

My Stars, Baby Blanket, G-carriage
(Click on photos to enlarge)

I just finished a g-carriage baby blanket.  I used Cheryl Jiles' dbj pattern from her Crib Quilts IV collection, did some redesigning in DAK, changed her original pattern hearts to stars and knit it on the g-carriage.  The dbj pattern can be ordered by contacting Cheryl Jiles at her 'under construction' website at  It is a great pattern and I've used it for several other g-carriage blankets over the years.

My pattern is 196 sts wide and 412 rows long, knit at T9 for the end borders and T10 in the body.  Finished measurement is 30 x 44”.  I CO with a double needle e-wrap and BO with a latch tool around the gate pegs. I used the Russian join to connect the skeins on this one. I was hesitant to use Russian joins with the g-carriage but they went thru just fine. And I’m really happy not to have to work in all the ends after the fact.