UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

January 31, 2009

Recommend your favorite sock yarn!

Filed under: discussion, socks, yarn — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:35 pm

Now would be the time to speak up and tell me all about your favorite sock yarn. I have very little opinion brand-wise and a newb’s unwillingness to spin it myself. 

There are a few caveats I would like your comments to have, please tell me:

  1. the ply-count and whether it is a cabled yarn
  2. how tight it is spun and whether the stitch definition is clear
  3. where I can get it

So far I have used Knitpicks Imagination, and Pagewood Farm “hand dyed sock”. The Pagewood is superior in terms of stitch definition and yarn “roundness”, but splits easily (even with blunt Addi needles, the replacements are not here yet.)

Socks and Squee

Filed under: discussion, knit, socks — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:55 am

Raspberry Friday Socks proceed apace. There was a lot of discussion on [a famous blog] about how patterned socks go faster than plainwork socks. I was skeptical, but I am a believer now. Not to mention how awesome the fancy socks are when they are done. There is no questioning point where you ask yourself, “Could I have just bought these in a store?” 

The Rav project says I started on the 25th. I did not really start the actual knitting until the 27th. I have finished 2/3 of the first sock. There is some urgency because when I admitted I wanted more sock yarn, my husband said, “Make another pair, then you can order whatever you still want.” This was good advice because I have a better idea about the diversity in sock yarn. And also because I had a chance to look around more. Now I am looking at nicer sock yarns. Obviously, since I only need 100g, I could afford the silk blends… 

A friend (seedlessgrape) turned me toward Sundara Yarns. If someone has tried their fingering silky merino, I would love to have a reference as to its thickness. Knitpicks Essential and Knitpicks Imagination yarns have the exact same suggested gauge, but in my experience it was 9sts/in on #0 for the Essential and 8sts/in on #1 (and it probably should have been 7.5 on #2, but with a 2-ply I wanted it knitted tight. ) And my current Pagewood Farm yarn says the same suggested gauge, but knits at about 7sts/in. (I am knitting it on #1s, but loosely and still getting. 7.5 ish.) So there is a wide range and the suggested gauge is random.

I am not certain I want to order from Sundara because there is just too much competition. I know it is a hand-dyed product, but a lot of the time it seems like places could hire some help and not have artificial shortages. Usually if I have to fight for a chance to buy something, I would rather shop elsewhere. This is true at the farmers’ market, it was true of fiber sellers. It seems like I could find something I like proportionately as well but there is enough to go around and a successful purchase will not come with a heaping scoop of guilt. If I get lucky enough to buy a Sundara yarn, (which currently has 4 months of look-ahead hype and a 3 month delivery timeframe and they sell out in under a week once the new colors are opened for purchase) I am denying someone else the chance. I am being selfish in a bad way because my success hurts someone else.

I can buy undyed similar yarn from Paradise Fibers for about half the price. I suck at dyeing, but Paradise Fibers will not send my yarn with free Guilt Trip tickets. That would be why I stopped buying from Spunky Eclectic, in case you were wondering…. the month she hyped the new colorway of the month for 2 weeks and it sold out in under 10 minutes, I was just gone. There were hundreds of people clamoring on the Rav group and they were all so disappointed. I could not imagine having gotten some while all those people were so upset. I would not even want it any more after I saw that. I looked, and worse yet? I did not even like it. It did not seem like the kind of thing that would have been popular without the extraordinary difference between supply and perceived demand. Popularity sells yarn. The more seemingly popular something is, the better people think it must be, so the more they want some. And the more popular something is, the harder it is to get some, the more people want their share of it. Which drives the cycle. There is not always a positive correlation between perceived quality and actual quality either. 

I like my dyers successful enough to stay in business, but not so overwhelmingly popular that the whole thing implodes. 

I also came up with the sock-knitters extreme project. I want Fair Isle OTKs. Not for the next project. It is a sort of goal project. “By next winter, I want to be experienced enough to make myself Fair Isle kneesocks.”  I might actually work on that… I have a Shetland fiber sampler I was intending to spin for Fair Isle mittens. I do not know why I thought I might want mittens, but I could really come up with something fabulous, idea-wise, and do my own motifs. I would have a gray-scale version of Fair Isle… I could really, really enjoy that.

January 29, 2009

Raspberry Friday Socks + abacus

Filed under: knit, socks, stuff — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:25 am

I mentioned my homemade abacus last week. 

The picture shows my current status on the socks (below), which is 1 repeat done, 02 rows of the next repeat done.

I am using it on my new socks, which I am calling “Raspberry Friday Socksrav_link“. I am using the texture found in Jigsaw Socksrav_link/ Jigsaw Socks. I would say I am using that pattern, but it is top-down and I am doing toe-up. It has that nasty heel-flap business, I am going to do a short-row heel. So, basically, I am using it as a source of stitch motif. This sock is going amazingly fast. I can see why people prefer to do patterned/textured socks. It will be a lot easier to match up the second one because I will just do the same number of pattern repeats.

Source of Gilgamesh yarn done!

Filed under: spin — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:01 am

This is the Red Fish Dyeworks fiber, 80% merino/20% silk that I bought at Stitches West last year. I made two yarns, one a triple-ply which is 255 yards of [2.5] yarn, unwashed (so it might bloom a bit). The other is at least 150 yards of two-ply [1.5] yarn. The pictures are of varying quality, but I uploaded exemplars.

January 27, 2009

SoG slog done!

Filed under: spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:15 pm

Yay! Yay! I have finished spinning the singles for my “Source of Gilgamesh” yarn, this is the fiber from Red Fish Dyeworks.

If you want to know why this has taken so long, it is because there is a lot of dismay to spinning for an hour and making no measurable progress in the mounds of fluffed fiber. I am looking for a fingering or sport [2-3] yarn after triple plying. This meant the singles were just next to invisible if the light was poor (like say, a cloud drifted across the sky) and had a tendency to snap. It takes me, on a good day, about 90 minutes of sweaty effort to spin 1/2 ounce. So that is only 12 hours… but not all days are this good. 

Tomorrow I will ply these and I am really hoping it comes out well. 

On the even better side for the finished project, I found the right lacework pattern. I am irked that the designer could not be bothered to say what the stitch pattern is called. (Rav, direct) It has a cable with chevron eyelets. If you know what that is called or have a definitive source for it, I would love to hear from you. I am not making it into socks, but I was looking for the right texture for the head/neck thing I wanted.

Speaking of which, I am ready to to buy a motif book. I want something that covers various lace motifs and how to redesign or manipulate them. I also want it to include the regular knit/purl textures. And it should give a smattering of traditional Fair Isle stuff. It must have good illustrations and preferably charts. If there is an electronic version you are willing to stand up and recommend, that would be fine too. I am really underwhelmed by Barbara Walker’s books, largely because the information is not updated for modern standards and they still want $120. For that kind of money I would expect charts, fabulous photos, and an electronic version that allows sorting by stitch repeat. I want the O’Reilly Learning Knitting Stitch Motifs kind of book, where there is something about how the things are constructed generally, there is a CD included, and a number of examples are given and explained in detail.

January 25, 2009

Selfish and Snaky Thoughted

Filed under: discussion, knit, socks, stuff — Tags: , , , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 7:19 pm

I read the Selfish Knitters group on Ravelry. Corry sent me there. I find that most of it is useless for me, because I am a selfish knitter already. The women (and they are all women) are all trying to learn to refuse favors. 

Most things I make are for me. If I make something for someone else, it is of acrylic and simple. But that is not selfish of me, since most people prefer acrylic yarn gifts because they are going to want to wash them but will not have a clue how to prevent felting. 

Anyway, today I saw a discussion of what to have on Selfish Knitter badges and I found my favorite, “No I can’t knit something for you, I don’t like you enough.” 

I took up knitting as an excuse to buy yarn. Later it occurred to me that if having yarn was the goal, then I should spin it instead. Even now it is hard for me to give away handspun yarn. I like the yarn better than I do most of the people I know. 

I finished my first real pair of socks this week,

and I have been looking  for my next sock pattern. I am wavering stil, but these are the front-runners: Nagini, Fawkes, Phineas, Leyburn, Anastasia, Wyvern. I really dislike the Monkey socks, even though everyone raves about them and the no-purl variant looks fairly simple. But by the time I added in the toe-up mod, the short-row heel mod, the foot-sizing mods (because I have wide insteps and short feet. 8.5″ foot length is generous, but I have 8.5″ circumference feet at the widest part) I might as well just start from scratch. Then add in the fact that I really do not like the texture, and they seem really pointless. 

[Later, but before posting] I did a swatch on the yarn I have. It is Pagewood Farm “Hand Dyed Sock Yarn” from before they had several types, this one is 80/20 Merino/nylon in some blue+green colorway (the band says “custom”):

 Colorwise, I am seeing a combination of cerulean and cerulean blue. 


I find that it really does not knit to 8 stitches/inch gauge. I can get it there but I have to really tension the yarn harshly and the resulting fabric feels very inflexible. (It just really is not very nice yarn.) That pushes the decision toward Leyburns. 

This is almost a disappointment because I really liked the Nagini texture (although, honestly, that is a lot of cabling) and I had a name for it based on the wyverns in Might and Magic VIII. Next sock yarn has more purple in it and looks more like the couatls. So, maybe all is not lost for that pattern…. there will be other socks.

You would not believe the research that goes into these project names. I have a dozen wiki tabs open full of various mythological systems bestiaries. Did you know the Chinese and Japanese have a Black Tortoise and a Blue Dragon? The Norse have a dragon that eats oak trees’ roots. Then there is the Evil Overlord List that says #34: “I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.” Then most cultures have had some sort of serpent-based myth. There was an unbelievable amount of interesting stuff to read. 

There is so much Norse mythology about magic and sorcery being the province of women because it is all about the weaving of threads, but there was the idea there that the weaving would bind the enemy or free allies. Weaving and warrioring were of equal value. Bound in Freyja’s [blue] Eyes. Weirdly that bothers me because it is incredibly rude to take someone else’s deities in vain. I find myself interested, but not enough to convert just to name my socks!

The Leyburn socks use quilted lattice stitch, my yarn is an blue-green colorway. But I have nothing beyond the obvious. “Caribbean Blue” is a song by Enya. It does not resemble mermaid scales because it does not have the look of overlapped sections. The lattice makes a diamond pattern… but “blue diamonds” feels like it should be followed with “and purple horseshoes, all in Lucky Charms!” But that shows you how old I really am. General Mills no longer makes Lucky Charms with blue diamonds. It would be too obscure if I called my socks, “They’re magically delicious!” The color also reminds me of those blue raspberry freezer pops. Raspberry Parade! (The common household misnomer for Prince’s song, “Raspberry Beret”.) That is a little too obscure also. The diamonds also remind me of cyclone fencing.

Strangely I am going with Raspberry Friday Socks.

January 21, 2009

Abacus Bound, Unchained Doggerel for Memory

Filed under: discussion, knit — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 2:15 pm

Normally I would have expected a lot of progress on the sock, which remains at that ~half-done state, because there was a lot of news I planned to record. What I had not expected was how redundant and useless the news covering the inauguration was if one had actually watched the inauguration. So I had very little knitting time. Of course I could have re-watched Kung Fu Panda, but it was easier to just go off and read instead. 

I have started the cuff of my second sock. (It is toe-up, so 2/3 done.)  Then today I worked on it again and it occurred to me that most people do not talk about how they deal with complicated patterns and motifs. 

What helped me the most was coming up with a method for the one lace row in feather-and-fan. In this pattern, the lacework is done with three rounds plain stockinette (all K* since the sock is in-the-round) and one round: [k2tog, k2tog, k2tog, k, yo, k yo, k yo, k yo, k yo, k yo, k2tog, k2tog, k2tog]*. I flubbed this several times, when I got to the end of a section, I would not have the 18 stitches back again. I fudged it on subsequent rounds because tinking back lacework in the round really bites for an off-by-one error. Add in the cumbersome-ness of keeping track of 3 rounds of plain knit, because it was easy to have just 2 or go on to 4 rounds. It was too much to store in my mind. I am a “bear of very little brain” some days. 

So I pulled out my homemade abacus. ( I should take a picture of it to share. ) I said the hundreds would be for keeping track of which round of the pattern and the ones would count how many sets had been done. Now I can easily track where I am in the patterning and where I am on the sock.  Row counters have nothing on an actual abacus!

The internal stitches for the lacework row were another issue. I came up with a counting for that. A, B, C, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, J, K, L. I had to count the YO as its own number or I was losing it. 


When I started knitting I had no problems with any texture or colorwork. It just took more attention than plainwork does. Since I was a very slow knitter anyway, I would often choose something with a more complex motif. That way when I was done with the project no one wondered how I could have been working on that for months. 

Now that I have some speed improvement, I find the complex motifs frustratingly slow. And I find that I am not thinking ahead as much so it is easy to make mistakes just when they are hardest to fix. 

It would be really nice if motifs came with mnemonics. If there was a poem or a song, that might help. What about for this feather-and-fan: Fist bog, fist  cog, fist dog, thumb around, two around, tree ground, ring around, five no rosy, thumb around [again], fist fog, fist hog, fist jog? The -og words would be for together, “fist” for knit… because when I am doing a k2tog, I end up with 2 clenched fists. By incrementing the starting letter for the -og words, there is a means to track where you are. I like “around” for yarn overs and counting by fingers, but I suspect that is just a lack of creativity. If I was creative, there could be a rhyming couplet poem:

Cyclops needs another eye, sun and moon,
Fill an empty lie, clock rings noon,
Don’t ask why, just be home soon. 

Feel free to share how you keep track of your complex motifs or pattern segments.

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