I finally get to let you in on the source of all the "secret" knitting I've been doing the last couple of months. It's been a lot of fun but it is going to be even more fun to share it with you.
Last year a good friend sent me a bit of cream colored yarn knit up into a tube and challenged me to figure out its purpose. It proved to be quite a puzzle around the office for a couple of hours but we finally figured out that it was a "sock blank". A pre-knit fabric that allows you to closely control, or not, colors you can use for knitting a pair of socks. You dye the blank and then knit the socks, unraveling the dyed blank as you go.
I thought it was a brilliant idea but not many knitters have knitting machines or antique sock knitting machines to use for making and blanks. And, hand-knitting a blank was really not acceptable. One of our yarn vendors has a division that makes clothing and those factories make knit fabric. We asked them to try making a sample blank. They sent a dozen and I started experimenting.
The idea was to establish a few "templates" for dying the blanks. The first one I tried involved a zig-zag of color with other colors placed in the triangles.
I tried sprinkling some Jacquard dye powder just to see what would happen. Then I soaked the dry powder with some vinegar water.
As I knit the socks, I discovered that the zig-zag meant that the blue carried on every round giving the look some consistency.
I went a bit crazy with my second sock blank. Lots and lots of dots. Even though it was a lot of fun, I realized that keeping it down to just three colors would be a bit less "crazy" once the socks were knit.
With all the yarn for a pair of socks pre-knit into one long bit of fabric, the socks won't ever actually match. Yes, they will be paired in color but not in the way the colors knit up into the socks. What we learned from my little experiments was that we wanted to have the sock blanks knit with two strands of yarn. That way, you could manage to knit "matching" socks!
After we made that decision, our vendor sent another dozen sock blanks. Tina and Alison took them to Tina's house to document different dyeing methods for our tutorial. That's when I had to really focus on my "secret" knitting. I took my assigned socks - the vertically striped sock blank - with me when we travelled to Germany and Spain. That's why I took so many more photos of other people and there were so few photos of me and my knitting.
I enjoyed the vertical striped socks as they knit up. Very subtle changes of color. You can see these and all the other sample socks on our tutorial page.