Monday, October 2, 2017

Self Striping Sock Blank

So, just as I was finishing the blanks in my previous post, ‘Laylor ‘ in the Sock Blank Artists group on Ravelry posted a self-striping blank that she had done and I just knew I had to try to mimic her results.  I like stripes and she produced such nice stripes with her blank.  However, there is a bit of pre-planning involved if you want somewhat precise striping.  If not, just wing it with a 150 stitch width blank knit with double stranded yarn.  Then when dyeing, shade the colors from dark to light or light to dark.  A 150 stitch blank gave me sets of 4 stripes in each color set.  
Any midgauge knitting machines that I know don’t have 150 needles to accommodate knitting a blank this wide.  But I just happen to have an extra KX350 plastic midgauge machine that I ‘robbed’ 2 needle sections and inserted them into my machine.  With a machine and ribber, a blank with this many stitches can be knit in ‘U’ shape, half of the stitches on the main bed and half on the ribber.  The beginning row of ‘U’ knitting will be a zig-zag row as used in circular
knitting which will have to be clipped and removed
before dyeing to let the blank lay flat.
To achieve precise stripes, first off I need to know how much yarn it takes to knit one round in my socks to fit comfortably around my foot. So I knit a few rows in a sock that fits with the yarn I’ll be using. I unravel one row and mark the ends of one row with a washable marker or pencil. Then on my midgauge machine at T7,  I knit a couple rows with double strands of yarn in stockinette and counted how many needles it takes to go from marker to marker on the sock yarn. This will tell how many stitches needed in the blank to make 1 round in the sock.  I’ve made enough blanks and socks to know that it takes approximately 32” of yarn to make one round in my socks, about 40 sts in my blank depending on the yarn and gauge.  With the yarn I’m using now, 37 sts was the magic number.  If you want to be this precise with a different yarn, I’ll have to measure and calculate again.
So with the magic number for one round in my socks, I can now determine how wide my blank needs to be.  For 3 rounds of each color set in my sock, my blank would have to be 112 sts (3 x 37) wide, 148 sts (4 x 37) for 4 rounds of each color, 186 sts (5 x 37) for 5
rounds of each color.  (Round up to an even number).  

Again, using my KX350 midgauge machine at T7, I start my blanks with 6 rows of acrylic or cotton waste yarn, then change to double stranded sock yarn and knit even til the yarn runs out.  Then I knit another 6 rows of waste yarn.  I drop a stitch at the halfway mark and at each color change to keep the dyes from bleeding into each other.  Then I cut a long tail of yarn and run it thru the live stitches on the needles, skipping over the dropped stitches.  Secure the end of the yarn tail.  Run the dropped stitches down to the beginning and remove the blank from the machine….ready for the dye process.

I've detailed my dyeing techniques in a earlier post  on 30 Sep 16, entitled 'Dyeing a Sock Blank'.  You can find it quickly by clicking on the 'sock blank' label.  Keep in mind that my way is not the only way, just the way it works best for me.

So now I have all these blanks knit up and dyed, I'd better get to knitting socks before the snowflakes fly.  

Attempts at Variegated Sock Blanks

I’ve neglected my blog for far too long but this has been a busy year so far and I haven’t done much crafting.  Tending to garden produce is pretty much done now so I’m devoting some time to myself and some fun times.  Which brings me to….dyeing sock blanks.  I’ve been gathering some ideas and now trying to refine some techniques that’ll give me what I want.  
I like variegated yarns, but only if they don’t flash or pool.  So my first attempt was to randomly place ‘giraffe spots’ on a blank.  The resulting sock turned out interesting but not what I was striving for.  Most likely if I’d used more than just the two colors, I would’ve had different results.  Love the socks anyway.  I cast on 60 sts on my KX350 midgauge machine and knit at T7 throughout with double stranded yarn. 
I always begin and end my blanks with about 6 rows of waste yarn.  This eliminates the tighter cast on edge for better dye penetration and gives me a bit of yardage to ‘play with’ for arranging and hanging on to while painting on the dyes.  At the end of the blank, I also knit about 6 rows of waste yarn and run either a straight knitting needle or a blocking wire through it.  This lets me easily flip the blank over to apply dye to the backside.  
To give a solid color band at the top of the cuff, I knit about 6 rows of waste yarn, 6 rows (or as desired) in double stranded sock yarn, then 6 more rows of waste yarn, then finish the rest of the blank in sock yarn.  The 6 rows of waste yarn prevent the dyes from bleeding together and gives a nice crisp band edge. 

Ok, with that done, I moved on to a technique that I’ve used before and knew that It would not flash or pool.  But this time, I left a bit of white between the strips of color.  These blanks are 100 sts wide and again knit double stranded at T7 on my midgauge machine. I like them lots.

I've detailed my dyeing techniques in a earlier post  on 30 Sep 16, entitled 'Dyeing a Sock Blank'.  You can find it quickly by clicking on the 'sock blank' label.  Keep in mind that my way is not the only way, just the way it works best for me.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Crocheted Sock Blank
(Click on photos to enlarge)
As ya all might have guessed by now that I'm a machine knitter but I learned to crochet long before I learned to knit and I do enjoy a bit of crocheting now and then.  And I love dyeing too so put the two together and came up with a plan for dyeing sock blanks.  The blank didn't take long at all to crochet with double strands of yarn and I really like the results.  I did a bit of calculations for number of stitches per row on my blank to come up with the length needed for a full round of knitting in my socks but was worth that effort.  I got a lot of inspiration from the Sock Blank Artists group on Ravelry and finally took the step.  Here's what I did. 
Sz N Crochet Hook (I crochet tightly)
Crocheted blank
1 skein sock yarn, divided in halves
1.  With a worsted weight acrylic or cotton yarn,
      Ch 200 sts to make the foundation chain. 
2.   Change to 2 strands of sock yarn and work
     shells into loops of chain.
3.   Attach sock yarns and ch 3, work shell into
      next ch, Ch1, skip the next foundation
      chain and work shell into the next chain.
      Repeat til end of chain or end of pattern
Soaked and laid out ready to dye
      repeat.  Turn.
      SHELL:  YO 1x, pull up thru 2 loops,
      YO 1x, pull up thru 2 loops 3 times,
      Ch 1.
4.  Chain 3 to turn and repeat shell pattern across 
      row, inserting the shells into the front loops
      only of the previous shell. 
Determine number of shells:
Approx 2.5 shells (30”) makes 1 round in a 70 or 72 st circular sock.
So for 2 rounds of color in the sock, you’ll need 6 shells in the blank. 
Keep in mind that the end color sections will be doubled when knitting the sock.  
Color Scheme and number of shells
Intended Pattern
ProChem One Shot Very Hot Pink & Deep Purple
               1 tsp per pint of water & 2 tsp vinegar
Dharma Carribean Blue
               ½ tsp per pint of water & 2 tsp vinegar
Very intense colors at this ratio, maybe use ½ tsp dye per pint, except for purple  which needs the intensity. 
Use a towel/rug as base and foam paint brushes to apply dyes.  Flip blank over onto clean towel and reapply dye to cover any white spots, wrap in plastic wrap, steam for 30 min.  Let cool naturally.
Wash & rinse til clear.

Resulting sock in progress

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Pop-Up Flowers
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I seem to keep finding new and fun things to do.  This time it’s pop-up flowers.  While surfing  thru You Tube for something totally unrelated, I ran onto a video showing how to make pop-up flowers for greeting cards.  Oh my.  I’ve been making my own greeting cards for just ages and have always wanted to do pop-ups but never took the time to explore.  There are several videos on You Tube showing the technique, search for 'pop-up card'.  Most of the tutorials show how to do the flower design with markers or colored pencils but I don’t have enough colored markers on hand and don’t intend to buy a bunch of the right markers.  So I chose to make them in Photoshop. Getting a perfectly proportioned template was the hardest but I think I have a couple good designs going now.

The basic technique is to cut 7 squares of paper about 3.5” to 4” or whatever size you want.  Fold them onto themselves into halves 3 times so there are 8 layers of paper.  Remember making paper snowflakes when you were a kid?  This is the same concept.  Then cut the petal end into shape desired.  Unfold and there should be 8 petals on the flower.  Using markers or colored pencils, design each petal as desired.  The You Tube videos show some nice examples on how to do that.  Then cut out one petal, overlap the first petal by the cut onto the next one by the cut and glue.  Voila, a pretty flower.  

In Photoshop, I designed and colored the flower, saved and copied/pasted into a Word document.  By decreasing the side margins of my document, I can get 4 flowers on a sheet of paper.  Print and separate the flowers, fold and cut as described above.  Another glory of Photoshop is that the color can easily be changed without making a whole new flower.
The videos also show how to glue the flowers together.  I put together a tutorial on how to do that cuz I didn’t want to open the video each time and at that point, I really didn’t want to mess up the gluing.
In this picture, I saved the petals that I cut from the flower and made a design on the front of the card.  And in the last photo, I printed the pink flower on light pink paper instead of white. 
Use your imagination.  I’m really having fun with it.  I’d really like to try other pop-up too, lots of ideas running thru my brain.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuck Foldover Scalloped Border
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I needed a border to put around the tuck baby blanket I just completed in my previous post, of 20 March 17.  Because I had one unsightly side because I had yarn ends to do something with, I thought the easiest way around that was to do an edging that enclosed them.  I ran onto Diana Sullivan’s Scalloped Foldover Trim  on YouTube and thought that would work perfectly plus look very nice.  However after I got the blanket done, I thought that I wanted something a bit wider so I experimented and came up with a nice border just by adding another tuck row to Diana’s trim.  It still folded over great and does look nice. 

I started with waste yarn and ravel cord because I wanted to have live stitches to be able to do an invisible graft to the other end when I got done.  I made the blanket on my KX350 at T5 with sport and DK weight yarns.  The yarn for the border was a bit heavier and I wanted it nice and soft so I went up to T6.  But this border can be done on any machine with appropriate yarn and tension.
1.   CO 11 stitches with waste yarn and ravel cord, knit 1 row to the left,
2.   *  Put machine on hold, pull needles 3, 5, 7 and 9 out to hold position,
3.   Knit 4 rows,
4.   Push needles back to working position and knit 2 rows. *
Repeat this pattern from * to * for 1800 rows!  Yes, 1800.  Then scrap off to leave live stitches to be able to unravel and adjust for size and grafting to the other end later.
I used a 3/15 thinner weight yarn and a running stitch to sew the border to the back side.  Make sure to adjust stitching so the edging lays flat without flaring or puckering.  Gather up the border on the corners to make nice turns.  I then sewed the front side down.  I was afraid that it wouldn’t lay flat during the trips thru the washer and dryer so I loosely ran another running stitch thru both layers of the border, next to the inside row of tucks. 
I did a bit of experimenting to see how I wanted to attach the edging and decided to go under the ladder after the first full stitch of the border (much like mattress stitching), the picked up a stitch on the edge of the blanket.  Then go back and pick up the ladder, then over to the blanket.  Snug up the sewing yarn but don’t pull it tight.  It may take a bit of practice to see what you like best.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tuck Baby Blanket
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I’ve been wanting to use this tuck pattern for just ages and we have a new little member coming into our family soon so thought it’d be a good time to just do it.  And I got even more motivation from seeing several other versions on Ravelry lately.  
I made this on my KX350 midgauge with sport and DK weight yarns so it’s all manually manipulated tuck patterning.  The KX350 has 135 needles but I wanted it a bit wider than that would allow so I robbed a section from another machine and added it to the end which added an additional 43 needles.  This pattern can be done on any machine with any yarn and tension the machine likes but I already had the sport weight yarns on hand so I opted for the midgauge.  
Here’s the story:
Machine:  KX350 midgauge, extended bed by 1 section
Yarns:    Patons Astra, Peony Pink and Aqua, 2 skeins each
               Redheart Designer Sport, Blossom, 2 skeins
               Bernat Berella Sportspun, White, 5 skeins (including edging)
Tension 5
Approximate size:  45”L x 35”W
With background color, e-wrap CO 158 sts, or any number desired as long as the following needle selection is used. 
Carriage to N and knit 1 row to the left.  Hang weights evenly across.
Carriage to H to hold, change to a contrasting color and begin patterning:
Skip 6 stitches, pull 2 needles out to hold position.  Repeat this patterning across the bed.
               . . . . . . x x . . . . . . x x . . . . . .
RC000, knit 6 rows.  Take carriage off hold, change to background color and knit 2 rows.
NOTE:  Before you knit the first and second rows of background color after each set of tucks, visually check that the stitches beside the tucks have knit off properly.  6 rows of tucking might be a bit much for the machine, depending on the yarn used.  If they didn’t knit off properly, manually knit the errant stitches before proceeding with the next row.
For the next set of tucks, put the carriage back on hold, skip 2 needles and pull 2 needles out to hold position, skip 6 needles and pull 2 needles out to hold position.   Repeat this across the row.  With a contrasting color, knit 6 rows.  Take carriage off hold, change to background color and knit 2 rows.
               . . x x . . . . . . x x . . . . . . x x . .
Note that the two tucking needles will always be lined up with the center of the ‘bubble’ of the previous pattern set.   
Repeat this patterning sequence for 450 rows, or as desired, ending with 2 rows of background color and carriage on the left.
I did a backstitch bind off but use whichever bind off you prefer as long as it’s not tight.
I used a variation of Diana Sullivan's tuck scalloped foldover edging but you can use whatever border or edging you desire.  I liked this foldover edging because it encased the edge of yarn ends...that I neglected to weave in as I knit.  I will post my 'how I did that' too in another posting, soon.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Diaper Wreath
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Need a quick and easy baby gift?  This wreath is not only pretty but practical too.  Most often new moms don’t get these little kinds of necessity things as gifts so why not present them in a cute way?  These wreaths are a hit at baby showers.  They can easily be made in a few hours with very little hair pulling. 
Needed Items:
A 10” Styrofoam wreath form
14-15 #3 diapers with a cute pattern
Curling ribbon, your choice of colors
Assorted baby items, enough to attach one to each diaper
Wreath hanger, if desired

First off, fold the diapers in half and around the wreath form and tie them to the form as shown.  They should be tied fairly snugly with about a 2-1/2 foot strand of ribbon.  Use enough ribbon to be curled later.

Then I arranged the little gifties to see where I wanted them.  I used another strand of ribbon around the diaper to tie them on.  Again the ribbon will be curled so use enough ribbon. 

After the gifties are secured to the wreath, curl the ribbons.  Trim as needed.
I made the ‘bow’ at the top by using about 15 strands of ribbon about 3’ long, securely tied in the middle and curled.  Fold the ribbons in half and tie to the top diaper, around the ribbon used to attach the diaper.  Arrange and again trim as desired.
Voila, a nice gift that couldn't be any easier.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Baby Socks, Midgauge

(Click on photos to enlarge)
These are my most favorite booties of all time.  Moms of babies I’ve made these for say they love them the most because they stay on little feet and aren’t easily kicked off.  I made them on my SK860 midgauge machine with ribber, beginning with an English ribbed cuff and worked down to the toe.  If you don’t have a ribber, a picot hemmed cuff, mock rib, latched rib, lace cuff or any of your favorite cuff styles can be used instead of English rib.  These feature a shortrowed heel and a gathered toe.  Babies don’t care if the toe isn’t form fitting because they don’t do any walking in booties but a shortrowed toe can be used if you prefer.  Also, I mattress stitch the side seam from the public side to give a nice appearance.  Baby yarn is most always soft and again, baby won’t be doing any walking in them so a mattressed seam won’t cut into their little foot.
I’ve given 2 sizes, newborn and 3 – 6 months size in parentheses.  Size can be easily adjusted by adding or subtracting stitches and rows.   I’ve used several of the popular baby yarns for hand knitting and all have work very well.  But all baby yarns are not created equal so size may vary a bit just because of the yarn used. 

RedHeart Baby Soft yarn
Bernat Softee Baby yarn
Berroco Comfort DK
RedHeart Designer Sport (heavier)
Bernat Baby Jacquard (T1) Size: Newborn (3 to 6 mo)

Gauge: 6.5 sts, 8.5 rows = 1”
Sole about 4” (4 ½) long
1)  Tension R on both beds, ribber at pitch P4, cast on for English rib, 14-0-14 (15-0-
     15) stitches, work 3 foundation rows, as follows or as instructed in your user’s
          a.  Select every other needle on both beds, with the main bed needle being the
              outermost on the left, and the ribber needle being the outermost on the right
              hand side.  All knobs and levers set for normal stockinette knitting.
          b.  With COL, knit 1 row to the right.  Hang cast on comb and weights.
          c.  Change the left set lever on the ribber carriage from 1 to 0.  Knit 1 row to
              the left.
          d.  Change the stitch dial on the main bed carriage from 0 to S and knit 1 row to
               the right.
          e.  Change the stitch dial on the main bed carriage back to 0 and knit 1 row to
               the left.   
2)  At Tension 2 on both carriages, change the stitch dial on the ribber carriage from 0
     to ‘the upside down U’ and knit 19 (21) rows ribbing.  End with COR.
3)  Transfer ribber stitches to the main bed.
4)  Lower ribber and remove CO comb and use claw weights hereafter.  
5)  Replace ribber arm with main carriage sinker plate.
6)  T-2, Knit 2 (3) rows.  Work eyelets on this row if desired.
     Make eyelets on needles (working from the L) 4, 12, 18, 24  (5, 13, 20, 26). 
7)  Increase 1 stitch on right hand side of ‘0’ if necessary to make an even number
     of stitches on that side.   (Necessary for later heel shaping.)
8)  Knit 8 (9) more rows, (10 (12) total if not doing an eyelet row).  End with COR.
1)  Push all needles left of -0- to hold position, 14 (16) stitches in work.
2)  Make sure there are an even number of stitches in work.   Put machine on hold.
3)  * Push 1 needle on cam side to hold position.  K 1 row across.
4)  Repeat * until 6 needles rem in working position.  (Same # of stitches in hold on ea
5)  Knit 1 row across. COR.
6)  ** Push 1 needle opposite side of cam back to working position, wrap needle next
     to the carriage, knit 1 row across.
7)  Repeat ** until all needles are in working position, COR.
8)  Take machine off hold.
1)  K 22 (24) rows.
2)  Decrease every other needle, move stitches togther and knit 2 rows across.
3)  Gather the live stitches with yarn and secure. 
FINISHING:  Sew ribbing and side seam.  Make a 2 stitch I-cord at T0 for 80 (90) rows or to desired length, about 16" –OR- use a narrow ribbon for tie.  Add pompoms or tassels at each end of the I-cord if desired. 
NOTE:  I have an earlier post showing how I sew up the English rib entitled 'Flat & Invisible Seam in English Rib', dated 1 Oct 2012 that will be virtually invisible.   (Click on the 'seams' label to the right.)
Team with a hat and/or blanket for a nice gift.



Friday, January 13, 2017

No Reply on Comments

I've been receiving some nice comments about my posts BUT for several weeks now, blogger won't let me reply to any of them.  I want to thank you all so much for taking the time to leave a comment and I apologize for not replying.  I have a feedback query in to Blogger so hopefully this problem will be resolved soon and I'll be able to continue to show my appreciation to you all.