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.