Friday, August 2, 2013

square [ j ] jane's stranded monster socks

Well, after years of being heavily addicted to both wearing and knitting socks, i am taking the plunge into writing my own patterns.  I knit the sock intuitively and then reverse engineer the pattern later.

My patterns will be available as PDF files on Ravelry. The first pattern that will hopefully be available soon is a stranded sock pattern.  It's a Monster Sock as in it makes use of left over remnants that you may have from knitting up other socks.  A Frankensock if you will.  With the charted portions of simple stranded knitting though, it won't look like a Frankensock.

It is currently (as of July-August 2013) in test knit, being worked on by some absolutely terrific fellow Ravellers and should be available as a free pattern soon.  You can check here for availability... i hope you have fun knitting socks!

Update: as of August 8th, 2013, this pattern is now live and available as a free download on Ravelry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dying for the Doctor

It's no secret that i am a giant geek.  There's a reason i have used the online name "squarejane" since 1996. Jane is a generic name for a woman and square?  Well there you go.  Geek Jane.

Anyway, the kids and i have been on a Dr Who marathon summer and we are so smitten.  I want, nay, NEED to knit these T.A.R.D.I.S. socks found on Ravelry. The real problem is trying to find just the right yarn color.  I am a very picky person when it comes to color and a recent trip to our fantastic local yarn shop did not turn up the specific blue.  It is a blend of a deep true rich navy with undertones of sky blue and some variation as the T.A.R.D.I.S. is worn from all that wibbledy wobbledy timey wimy stuff.

Here is our inspiration...

So as you can see, a simple navy or bright blue would not suffice for a color picky lady like myself.  I set upon dying the perfect yarn... dying for the Doctor.  I used these dyes:

That is Royal Blue from Tintex and Bahama Blue from Dylon.  These are toxic dyes so one must be careful.  First i started with one of my favorite yarns for dying, Zitron Trekking Undyed. It takes dye like a champ, wears like crazy and has never let me down.  In Canada, it retails for about $13.99 a skein.  I soaked the yarn, still tied but untucked in a bath of warm water and then placed in a large glass casserole dish which i had lined in saran wrap.  Then i bathed it in a wash of mixed Tintex Royal blue (premixed in water).  I then sprinkled liberally some dry Bahama Blue from Dylon across the surface of one side of the skein.  This only uses about 1/4 of the Royal Blue dye and 1/8th of the Bahama Blue. 

Using gloves, i flipped over the skein and did the same with the scattering of the Bahama blue.  Then i sealed up this bad boy inside it's plastic wrap and microwaved for 1.30 minutes and then let sit all hot and bothered and wrapped up for 5 minutes.  Be careful to use a dish you don't eat out of and plastic wrap that is microwave safe! Next i turned the dish using oven mitts and microwaved for another 1.30 mins.  Next was to carefully take out and open to allow it to cool.  

At this stage, i like to allow a long sit... an hour or more to allow for maximum cuticle closure before the rinse.  You can see that the color is a lovely mix of the two blues but favors the darker Royal Blue.  Looking pretty T.A.R.D.I.S.y to me!  Next stage is a cool water rinse with the least agitation possible. You are not a Dalek here... don't exterminate. A second bath of cool water with some Soak or a bit of shampoo for color treated hair is the next stage, again, easy on the agitation.  If you are too agressive or the water too hot, you can tangle or even worse, felt your yarn.

Here it is in the cool bath...

And here it is drying.  I use my ironing board on it's side to hang dry my yarns... with a bucket underneath to catch any drips.  

YAY!  Success!  Now i think i will go watch some more Dr. Who while it dries.  Next installation will be the knitting.  Cheers and happy dying!

Update:  Here it is all dried and balled up.

and i have also just charted up lettering that i will strand in in white for the side of the Tardis... don't mind if you save and use too.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sock knitting tricks i have learned

Sock knitting isn't just a pass time for me, it is an addiction.  I knit and wear hand knit socks almost all year round.  In the years i have been knitting socks, i have figured out some helpful tricks that i thought i would share.

I really dislike coming to the end of a 3 day or 2 week long sock project and know that i have to weave in 30 ends of yarns, especially in colorwork.  As a result, i have come up with a few ways that will work in most cases to deal with that as you are knitting.

Adding a new color:

When i know i will be adding a new color next round in stranded knitting, i start by draping the new color of yarn to be introduced next round over the current working yarns with a 6 inch tail.

Next, i pull it snug up close to the item i am knitting and hold it with left hand ( i am right handed).
Now knit with one of the previously used colors. This secures your new color, ready to be used next round.
Now simply knit with both strands of the new color held double, after bringing them around the previous yarns to ensure no hole.
Make sure to drop the short end of the new yarn on the inside of the garment (sock) when it is .5 inches long.  It will stick out inside, but won't unravel. I have the world's most sensitive feet and i cannot feel it at all.

Finishing a color you are done with:

When you are finished with a working color and want to break it off, and your knitting isn't pattern dense, you can break that color at the beginning of the round, leaving a 6 to 8  inch tail.  Then pick up a different color of your choice... usually one that is closest to the color that you just broke.  Hold the two yarns double and knit with them until the broken yarn is .5 inches long, and leave on the inside of the sock... then continue with the other live yarn. You can see below in my ombre Blender socks, specifically on the dark toe, there are flecks of coral and black together, that is a broken coral color being held double and knit with black. If you don't mind a mix of the two colors, it's a great way to not have ends to weave.

 You can also knit one to three stitches with the color you have broken off held double with the still live yarn, being sure that the live yarn is behind the broken yarn so it will be more hidden, then for the rest of the round or row, hold the broken yarn in your secondary hand and trap it every 2 stitches like you would when working stranded knitting.

So there you are, two easy to do tricks to help reduce the number of ends you need to weave in. This pair of  Ombre Blender Socks were knit with 6 different yarns.  That would have led to 24 ends to weave in... i had NONE to weave in.

Find me on Ravelry: squarejane