July 2008


Finally, I got back to my sock machine to finish the second mock rib sock.

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Despite my efforts to write down what I did, and to count rows carefully, the second sock turned out longer than the first.  Oops!  They fit but are a tad loose, especially at the cuff.  I think I’ll increase tension a bit for the next pair I do with the Lorna’s Laces yarn.

I’ve also been spinning on my wheel this week!  Here’s some Spunky Eclectic merino/tencel fiber in Sangria.  Look at that sheen!

Spunky Eclectic Merino/Tencel in Sangria

It hardly needed any predrafting, and wanted to be spun fine.  It took some experimentation to find the right amount of twist for it to be strong yet still soft.

Spinning fine

Here’s the first 2 ounces of singles on the bobbin.  I’ll do another 2 ounces to make a 2-ply laceweight.  Mmmm!

Singles

Obviously, I still need to work on filling the bobbin evenly. But it is pretty, no?

In 2001, my husband-to-be Chris and I went on a vacation trip to Japan, Bali, and Thailand.  Part of it was planned around Gion Matsuri, a festival that takes place in Kyoto every July.  It was truly magical, and Chris recorded some of the unique sounds we experienced.  He writes an audio drama review column at www.radiodramarevival.com, and for this week he posted some photos and some of the recordings he made.   This is a “hoko,” a 2-story float containing a band of musicians, pulled by teams of 40-50 men without a steering mechanism!

Hoko

If you’re interested in reading more about the festival, and would like to hear the recordings, you can find them here.

As for my circular sock machine, I managed to make the first sock that fits me properly today!  I fiddled around with the 54-slot cylinder, but couldn’t get a nice tight fabric with the yarn I was using, so I went back to the 72-slot cylinder and did a mock rib, with 3 needles in, 1 needle out.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepard Sock, I think the colorway is Tahoe. These pictures don’t do the colors justice – they are much richer in real life.

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I did 20 rows in mock rib, hung the hem, then 50 rows for the leg, put in the missing needles for the heel, then 5 more rows, then the heel, then 40 rows for the foot, put in the missing needles for the toe, 2 more rows, then the toe.  With no dropped stitches!  Whew!  Here is the heel.

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And it fits around my ankle!  The cuff is still somewhat loose.  I think I’ll probably need to figure out how to do a true rib to get a nice, snug cuff.  Now I’ll make the second sock!  Good thing I wrote down what I did so I can replicate it.

Tim has a little set of tiny Legos in various colors that you can use to make pictures.  For the most part, he just makes random pictures or follows the ones that came with the set.  Last week though, he put together his own little pattern, “just for Daddy!”

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I was so impressed.  My 4-year-old has a sense of design!  After that, we went to a nearby lake.

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It was a beautiful place, and a beautiful day.

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My boys were so cute together in the water!

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Fortunately, Chris is a good swimmer.  I can keep myself afloat, but not with a flailing crazy little boy climbing all over me.  So I stayed with Tim only where I could still reach the bottom.

This weekend, I practiced my Navajo plying technique some more.  Same Coopworth fiber from Spunky Eclectic, but this time I spun it finer.  The singles still broke a few times, but less than before, and it turned out more evenly. This is pre-soaking – I just felt like posting right away!

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I decided to stop worrying about the sizing and just make a darn pair of socks, partly for practice and partly to get a feel for using real sock yarn on the machine. I got my replacement 54-slot cylinder which looks good and should be usable, but it’s still soaking in Marvel Mystery Oil for cleaning. So this is on the 72-slot cylinder. I used some Opal from my stash.  Here are the two socks and the setup bonnet, separated by waste yarn.

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And here is the pair, after Kitchenering the toes.

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Unfortunately, too many things distracted me from counting rows, so I tried to wing it by putting my foot up to it and saying, “looks good enough…” So the first sock (on the right) looks big enough for an elf. The second one fits me but is loose, especially around the ankle.

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Here is the heel. It went pretty smoothly, except that one time I forgot to make sure the latch was open, so the stitch was dropped.  After cursing and taking off the weights, I managed to pick it back up.

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Even though it’s not a wearable pair of socks, I learned a lot about adjusting tension while using real sock yarn to get a nice fabric and to minimize dropped stitches.  I asked Tim to model the socks for me, but he took them off his feet and put them on his hands.

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Then he put the setup bonnet on his leg.

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My silly boy!

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In my spinning, up to now I’ve been so enamoured of the 2-ply barber pole color effect, that I’ve never learned Navajo plying before. So I decided to give it a try. I spun up some singles of undyed Coopworth from a Spunky Eclectic sampler.

Undyed Coopworth singles

After letting the singles sit for a day, I did my first Navajo ply!  I looked at a few YouTube videos for reference.  This one was the most helpful.  As you can see, it’s rather uneven.  I also had a problem with the singles breaking several times, since I wasn’t super careful when I was spinning them.  Next time, more twist! 

My first Navajo ply!

I do like the way it looks nice and round. Here it is on the niddy noddy.

Coopworth Navajo ply on the niddy

Skeined up:

Coopworth Navajo ply, skeined up

It’s about worsted weight, 67 yards.  Here it is close up:

Coopworth Navajo ply closeup

It’s a nice technique. I’ll probably use it with fiber of relatively uniform color when I want a 3-ply look-alike, or when I want to keep different colors separate.

Ooooh, two posts in one day!!

As promised, here is the setup bonnet in action. Basically, I took the loops of yarn between the picots and hooked them over every other needle.

Setup bonnet in place

From that point, I put on some scrap yarn, then the actual yarn for the sock. If you put the sock yarn directly on the setup bonnet, you can’t get it apart without cutting one or the other.

I made a basic hung hem, then cranked a tube.  You may notice I have a new yarn carrier, the slotted version from Roxana Baechle, who also made the instructional DVD’s that I have.  It’s much nicer than the yarn carrier with the little hole you have to thread the yarn through, especially when I’ve made a mistake and had to frog – with the slotted carrier I don’t have to cut the yarn when I make a mistake. 

Set up for the heel

After knitting a length of tube, I set up for the heel by raising half of the needles to take them out of knitting. Then I knit back and forth, raising 2 needles at the beginning of the first 2 rows to minimize the holes, then 1 needle at the beginning of every row after that. It’s basically the equivalent of a short-row heel on a handknit sock. Then at the midpoint of the heel, I push 1 needle back in to knit at the beginning of every row, until it’s back to half of the needles again. It’s important to keep tension on the lengtening heel, or the machine will drop stitches. For this purpose I bought fork weights, which are just bent forks with weights attached to them. This is how I attach them.

Heel fork weights

After getting all of the heel stitches back into knit, I push the other half of the needles back in and continue to crank tube for the foot. Then I knit another “heel” for the toe to be closed by Kitchener stitch. Here’s how the heel turned out.

A heel!

Nice, huh? It’s still too loose for my foot, even with fine acrylic baby yarn and pretty tight tension on the 72-slot cylinder. I will try the mock rib, and I am still awaiting my replacement 54-slot cylinder. Can’t wait to play some more!

After a long hiatus from my wheel, I was inspired to get back to it by this:

The Painted Sheep alpaca/merino/silk fiber in Dublin Lake

It’s alpaca/merino/silk fiber in Dublin Lake from Kris, The Painted Sheep. Absolutely yummylicious fiber, and beautiful colors! It was wonderful and very easy to spin.  I managed to get the whole 4oz of singles on the bobbin.

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I wound it into a center-pull ball.

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And here it is as a 2-ply. I was lazy and didn’t measure the wpi, but it is worsted-ish.

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Skeined up!

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Up close. I love how the colors blended together.

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I got about 110 yards. I think it would make a nice scarf.