I’ve been contemplating purchasing a cone of Lycra to run a strand in the ribbing of my socks for quite a while but guess I didn’t want to part with the bucks for a whole cone. It’s not real cheap and has many, many, many yards that I’d have to leave in my will. Then there was a discussion about it on Ravelry and I knew I had to have some. It came, I knit and I love it….should’ve gotten it years ago.
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There’re a few ‘rules’ that need to be followed when using Lycra but they’re not show stoppers. First off, it’s cobweb weight, 84,000 yds per 2.2 lb cone. So a bit of patience is involved, mostly to keep it from getting tangled up and/or breaking. I had a few hair pulling minutes when I lost the end and couldn’t find it again….that’s when the patience kicked in. I ran the strand of Lycra through my yarn mast and spring but not through the tensioner. It needs to be free flowing with very little tension. Once knitting begins, everything went well.
I found that loosening the tension dial by a full number higher than my main tension while adding the Lycra works the best and gives a nice hugging ribbing. For example, if I use T5 in the main body of my sock, I'll use T6 in the section of ribbing where I added the Lycra. Adjust tension to your liking. And it doesn’t need to be added in the full length of the ribbed cuff. I ran it in the full length in my first pair of socks but in the legwarmers I made, I only ran it in the top 30-35 rows or so and they stay up just fine.
After knitting is completed, Lycra must be heat set to activate its elasticity. I used my steam iron and steamed the area heavily. Another probably easier way is to run them thru the dryer on low heat after laundering but make sure to use superwash wool if you intend to put them in the dryer. I use superwash wool sock yarn so I can’t say what steaming would do to acrylic sock yarns but I’d be quite hesitant to steam acrylic yarns for fear of killing the yarn. I definitely would launder as usual and run them thru the dryer. Just another note that fabric knitted with Lycra will shrink up a bit lengthwise but I didn’t notice any appreciable shrinkage widthwise.
I ordered the Lycra from http://theknittree.com/store/spandex-stabilizer-lycra-trademark-dupont-invista. I also ordered the booklet with patterns and tips on using the Lycra. I picked up lots of tips but the patterns are written for a Passap machine. I’m not promoting this business or this specific product and I’m sure there are other places to purchase it. A seller on ebay has several weights of Lycra listed now but are heavier than the cone I got from theknittree. I don’t think I’d want it any heavier. This is a nice weight for socks and I’m sure would work just fine in garments too.
So there’s my take on using Lycra in the knitting machine. I like it!