Have you seen the great Sock Machine Blog, Soxophone Player? All Sock Machines, All the Time. I love it!
Doug (its author) recently mentioned he felt argyles would be a challenge. Rest easy, Doug -- they're easier than those Scotch Heels or Hand-Look Toes!
The argyle instructions I use are from the Harmony Knitter manual; it was emailed to me, I've not found it online yet. Roxana on the sock lists (sockknittingmachines, sockknittingmachinefriends) sells a Video/DVD with argyle lessons on it that is very good, and the Yellow River Station DVD has a good lesson on argyles on it too.
I knit these with a fingering weight handspun yarn (yes, handspun!) on my 60 needle cylinder. Normally, I'd've used the 80-needle on yarn this fine, but argyles are knit all stockinette, so I guessed (correctly, whew!) these would be a bit looser and would work fine on the 60.
First, I started with my usual 1/1 ribbed top, for 14 rows. Then I did 3 rows stockinette (all the way around, no ribber, 3 times).
Now, to knit argyles like mine, you knit first two triangles from the flat top down to the points, and then knit two diamonds from the opening point to the closing point.
The way the argyles "hang together" is by always decreasing or increasing two stitches on each side, and when you move from one triangle/diamond to the one "below" it, you overlap by 1 needle -- that way you lock together the shapes as they are knit.
Handknitters often knit argyles using intarsia, which is messy -- this two-stitch decrease/increase automatically locks things together. It's a machine method that handknitters have rediscovered, so feel free to apply this technique to your handknitting to throw in the occasional row of diamonds there too!
Well, having fortified myself for the first triangles, I put my yarn on the tension arm since I would be knitting the triangle back and forth, stopped the yarn carrier in front and raised the back 30 needles, then knit around until the yarn carrier was in back and not knitting. (*) I then raised the rightmost two needles and knit backwards around to the left. Once in back, I raised the leftmost two needles and knit forwards around to the right until the yarn carrier was in back and not knitting. At this point I added my heel forks to ensure the triangle would keep knitting, and repeated from (*), moving the heel weights up as needed, until I'd raised all the stitches. The last row is just 2 needles. I broke the yarn and dropped the end into the cylinder.
Whew! first triangle done, and all (yep, all!) the needles on the machine are up! The next step is the triangle at the back of the machine -- you do the same thing, but from the back. So, I kept the yarn carrier in front, lowered the back 30 needles, restarted the yarn by clipping a wooden clothes peg onto the end and putting it inside the cylinder after running it through the yarn carrier, and started knitting as above -- first round, all 30 stitches, yarn going counter-clockwise around the cylinder; add the heel weights; (**) with the yarn carrier in front and not knitting, lower the first two needles, then knit around clockwise until the yarn carrier's in front again, lower the first two needles on that side and knit around counter-clockwise, repeat from (**) until -- you guessed it! -- there are no more stitches to knit. Once again, the last row is just 2 needles, then all the needles are up, you have two triangles done!
Wow. That should feel great! Now, it's time for diamonds. Pick a side, it doesn't matter which one. Pick a different color yarn for your diamonds. For a diamond, you start with the two side stitches -- you should see that this takes 1 stitch from the front triangle and one stitch from the back triangle. That's the start of interlocking the shapes. Start up your new yarn color, and knit (yarn going counterclockwise around the cylinder) those two stitches. With the yarn carrier resting on the other side of the cylinder, put down the first two needles, move the yarn from the front of those two to the back (to ensure they will knit the yarn!) and knit back clockwise. Again, put down the first two needles from the other side of the diamond, move the yarn to be behind them, and knit counterclockwise. You'll want to add heel weights and move them up as you go. Continue increasing until you have 30 stitches. Then decrease just as you did for the triangles, until you have all needles up again! Your first diamond!
This picture shows both diamonds (pink) completed -- they don't look very diamondy yet, but they are! you can see the triangles (purple) poking up into them, too.
There's a bird's eye view of this state up higher too. From the bottom of the machine, it looks like this.
Now, the challenge is mostly behind you, but you still need to do opposing triangles before you can knit in the round again. So, starting with the front one, lower just the front 2 middle stitches (note one comes from the edge of each diamond -- more of that interlocking going on!), change back to your main color, and knit increases just as you did for diamonds. You'll end with 30 needles down and just knit. Break your yarn, move the yarn carrier to the back, raise those 30 needles, crank (not knitting) around to the front, lower the back 2 middle needles, and repeat the triangle in the back.
Now, when you finish the back triangle, if you are very careful, you can simply lower the front 30 needles and keep knitting around from the last row of that back triangle. Put as many rows as you want below your argyle diamonds and then knit your favorite heels and toes.
Knit the second sock while the first is still on the machine.
Once your socks are off, you can decide -- to add stripes or not. I have knit just argyle stripes on the sock machine before, so you could knit diamonds and stripes at the same time if you wanted to. I don't want to :-).
It's easy enough to either crochet on the stripes, like I did, or to duplicate stitch them (as recommended in some of the manuals).
As you can see, I had plenty of yarn left over -- I could have had several rows of argyle diamonds. But, I was not sure how much yarn I'd go through, so I decided on short socks to be safe. There's enough yarn left to knit "Opposite Argyles" if I want, reversing the colors. I just may!
This pair is for me; it's sandwiched by socks for my sisters-in-law (gotta get started on the second pair of the sandwich -- the first has already been received).
My end take on knitting argyles on the sock machine? It was fun! and since it's a non-ribber operation, the work is very visible while it's going on. It was easier than the Scotch Heel or the Hand-Look Toe, even. And it went fairly quickly. Next time, I plan to knit my ends in as I go. I'm eyeing my sock-yarn-leftover bin thinking that argyles with solid color base and Opal/Regia/you name it designer sock yarn diamonds would be quite a treat!
Sock knitters (machine and hand) -- have you tried argyles yet? Any advice for me before I dive into my third pair of argyles?
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Have you seen the great Sock Machine Blog, Soxophone Player? All Sock Machines, All the Time. I love it!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Amanda sent me in the question, "Do you set the twist in singles, then ply them together? Do you set in every single, ply, then set the ply's twist? Or do you spin your yarn, ply it and the set the whole thing at once?"
When plying, you set the twist after you've plied. There's no need to set the twist in the singles.
That said, the twist begins to set the moment the newly spun yarn is wound onto your spindle or taken up onto the bobbin of your spinning wheel. Even 5 minutes rest will begin to set the twist. So if your aim is a balanced yarn, I'd recommend saving a newly spun length of yarn, folded back on itself for the ply you want -- 2, 3, 4, or whatever ply. Mostly I do 2 ply or 3 ply myself.
That freshly spun, self-plied length is a great sample to refer back to when you're plying, to make sure you put enough twist in when plying. That way, when you wash the plied skein to set the twist, the warm water will relax the fibers and you'll find you have a balanced skein when you're done.
Now, if you've already washed your singles and decide to ply later, I wrote about that in my blog, you can read about handling that in the entry, How do I ply set singles?
And I have another entry on making a good looking two-ply yarn.
The yarns in the photo are from the local guild fiber exchange -- we all exchanged 2 oz of white fiber (romney cross singles, corriedale top 2-ply, medium wool singles, merino top 3-ply, merino/tencel roving 3-ply) to overdye, spin, and make something. Well, I make yarn ;-) so far, anyway. There are plans -- the two medium wools are singles, to be crocheted into a little tote; the corriedale top will be a Knitty headscarf, the merino will be socks with white lace cuffs on them, and the merino/tencel will be a sock machine pillow top. Yes, really! the Victorian SCM manual that's available on sockknittingmachinefriends has a great knitting pattern for a "bath matt" but I'm thinking it's more the size, I expect, for a small pillow top.
Oh yes -- in the realm of curious personal trivia, my name was Amanda for a day -- then my mother heard the nurses in the hallway say "Amelia", and decided to name me that instead. I have wondered how different it would have been, to have been named Amanda. And if you click on the picture to see the skeins more closely, that's me and my sister in the PJ's in the photo in the corner as little 'uns. Easier to explain than to edit the picture down to just the skeins, LOL.
Thanks for asking, Amanda! if you or any of the other readers want more info on any of this, feel free to comment or email me.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I don't often share of myself on this blog, in part because that's not what it's about -- it's about the questions people have and passing on what I know, to be of help. So: some shout-outs (non-fibery, even), some purchases, and some current projects...
Still, this is helpful (I hope!) so here goes a shout-out ...
You see, I'm a huge fan of some non-fiber blogs (okay, Yarn Harlot's still my favorite!): Zen Habits is the top of the must-reads. He really has it together. Because of him, I have almost cleared my desk top (just a few docs I need to keep at my fingertips are still on it) and I carry around a little book of projects/todos/movies to rent so I can let go of worrying I've forgotten something (Zen to Done, a simplification of Get Things Done). And most recently, he's pointed me to a list of 101 10 minute dinners -- the first one I tried was a huge hit, so I'm off and running now! (Let me just point out that the time to preheat the oven is not included in that 10 minutes ...)
Then I check out The Happiness Project and Self Help Daily. These give me great insights -- am I focusing on following my joy? (sadly, no -- but I know that. and I'm working on it!)
And this one is slightly-fibery: my favorite etsy "secret shopper" (ie. someone who shops and then shares their best finds with you): sock prØn -- okay so her stuff is terrific too but man, can she shop! I probably end up buying 1 out of every 10 things she puts on her website (what can I say, smaller budget) but I enjoy them all, and I greatly enjoy living vicariously through her purchases!
So, what were my latest purchases?
On etsy: sock diva's Sock Bug "Ella" with her baby, of course! This has been a desire for a loooong time. Finally got one. It's a terrific spindle-tote, and the baby holds the spindle-spun single from the first spindle-full, until I fill the spindle again to ply the pair.
And as my library didn't have "Simple Living" I looked online and found it was a $0.01 book (used) on amazon.com. What an amazing read! I'm about 50-75% simplified according to this book -- mostly I still need to reduce how much stuff I have. No, I don't mean fiber -- well, maybe, but a crafty person (aka artist) does need materials to use, right! So I try to spin more than I buy -- no dent in the stash yet due to a too-terrific sale at NwRSA conference, but I'm working on it!
Yes, shipping was $3.99 for the $0.01 book -- so the merchant made something, as they sent it media mail too. Why the simplifying jaunt? I've been reducing ever since I met my second husband -- he's a Franciscan, and through his eyes I learn to see the excesses and try to trim what I can. Trimmed 30 pounds off of me, just following his own daily diet. I can live with that!
So why talk about buying things if I'm reducing my accoutrement? Well, I think it's worthwhile to improve what I have. And the drawstring top on the sock bug is terrificly better than my open-mouthed totes. I may have to do a tote round-up soon and send them to goodwill, or put them in the car for groceries. Now there's a thought!
And continuing my bandwagon theme (if you haven't jumped off already...) how about a brief review of Amelia's projects? I know, I know, the UFO Resurrection's at the end of the month ... but I'm 3 months behind!) ...
- "that" felted tote won't felt!! only marginally, so far. sigh. I keep washing it, there's hope it will shrink soon.
- just finishing up argyles on the sock machine! with Abby's handspun yarn! wow!
- Have "spider's nest" yarn resting on a bobbin before I skein it and add the spider legs; yes, Pluckyfluff put the legs in as she spun, but I decided to do it after. There are no spinning police, and the whole idea is to think outside the box.
- Have some skeins to wash; some are sample skeins, but one is to-be-knit and it's coil yarn! I'm venturing into my first knit-with-coil-yarn project (a scarf) to see how this yarn behaves on the needles and in the item. What fun!
- have a ball waiting to get started in my first sweater -- "that 4-ply". and a skein of BMF mill ends (henpecked, I think) to churn into a pair of socks for my SIL.
- I'm working on the Crochet-Along on spindlers -- alternating rainbow and white lace yarns as I've only 40 grams of rainbow and didn't want all-white.
- a nalbound hat! I'm finding nalbinding not as slow as I professed it to be in the past -- maybe it's the amount of nalbinding you do that speeds you up, much like the akha spindle (much faster after the first spindle-full!)
Heck, that's not too bad of a list! there's some more spinning "in the wings" -- my brain keeps churning with cool ideas for yarns -- coils are great, beads are a blast, and RMD Designs has now shown me the joys of plying with funky scarf yarns. I love her yarns! I've 4 skeins from her, and am planning on a 5th in greens (one is pink/violet, one autumn, one purply, one marine/lilac -- so you see the need for green. she's working on it!) So far they are art in my house, eventually I will turn them into something beyond that. They make great art, though!
Thanks for participating in my blog -- and if you want to know more about any of the above, feel free to drop me a line, comment or email.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
To use newly spun singles for knitting or crochet, all you need to do is wash the skein and hang it to dry. Since it's singles, it may twist on itself a bit; I don't like to put too much weight on my singles if I'm going to knit or crochet them, as the yarn will re-twist on itself when you wash the knit/crochet item -- so usually I hang a handtowel through the lower loops of the skein while it's drying, and that's enough to keep the yarn tame without stretching the flex out of it while it's drying.
Singles can be great fun to knit with -- if they are super-energized, you can use that to your advantage to knit zig-zag scarfs (do 20 rows stockinette, 20 rows reverse stockinette, repeat until yarn ends); or you can knit garter stitch to "even out" the biasing of the yarn. Most of my singles are fairly low twist, and they merely have one "post" of the knit stitch vertical and the other at an angle, without any noticeable bias in the knit fabric at all.
I haven't experimented with singles in crochet, but a friend who spins-and-crochets crochets with her singles all the time and I've not noticed a bias in her fabric.
For details on washing skeins I can recommend this blog entry of mine.
And I've a few postings on spinning singles yarn, feel free to browse the list that comes up in del.icio.us.
The singles in the picture are from a Totally Tubular Spinning Kit, the knitting is the start of the newest Ewe'niquely Yours pattern, Touche: Arm and Wrist Warming Sleeve.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Plying fine singles can be a challenge. For starters, I never use the Andean Plying Bracelet (unless I'm doing a fairly short length -- under 20 yards) nor a center pull ball -- both have too much opportunity to tangle.
On a wheel, I use two bobbins, on a tensioned lazy kate, several feet behind me. On a spindle, I'll pre-wind two spindle-fulls into a ball and then add the plying twist from that 2-strand ball.
If the singles are drafting apart when you ply, then I'd recommend putting more twist in your singles; this will help them stay together for plying.
If the singles are snapping when you ply, they are probably very thin and also very high twist -- the best way to stop them from snapping is to completely minimize the draw-in on your wheel down to just-barely-drawing-in when you ply. Also, I'd recommend in that case, a little less twist in the singles -- so they won't be under so much tension, this should reduce their desire to snap on you during plying.
(based on a post by me on Spin to Knit Socks, May 07)
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
When you're first starting out with spinning, there's a tendency to add alot of twist as you spin fiber into yarn. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- great novelty yarns come from high twist, like coil yarns and cable yarns. But, you may simply be shooting for a nice singles yarn.
One of the things I remember from when I was learning to spin, was fighting overspin. To overcome this, I pushed myself to the other end of the curve, underspin, by putting only a little twist in and then tugging -- if the not-yarn drifted apart, then it wasn't yarn yet. If it hung together, then it was yarn! So try putting in just a little twist, tugging, and seeing if it drifts; repeat until it stops drifting, and then you'll have the minimum amount of twist to make it yarn.
That low-twist yarn makes great singles! But for plying you'll want to put in enough twist to make it "pretty" as a 2-ply. I recommend the ply-back test for measuring the "pretty".
For more information on controlling twist in singles, see my entry How do I make sure my singles aren't underspun?
Joins are often a high-twist area. That's okay, really, as it helps them hang together. But if you want to avoid a high-twist join, make sure you have enough fiber in the old end and in the new end that they can be drafted at the same time. This will help make the join practically disappear -- and only "need" as much twist as the surrounding fibers to hang together well.
I like a "V-join" to help sandwich the new fibers and co-draft the two together. My bigger posting How do you spin a batt? covered this, but the details are repeated here:
Once you draft the V and new segment together and twist moves into both fiber sources, the join is formed and you are off and spinning on the next segment!
(this was based on some of my flickr pictures and discussion contributions on the flickr groups SpindleShots and Spin and Knit)
Thursday, July 5, 2007
The Peruvian wind-on is a way to keep newly spun or newly plied yarn under tension as you wind it onto your spindle. It's also a great way to reach a spindle that has spun a length longer than an arm's reach.
It's also called the Peruvian Butterfly (as it looks a bit like a butterfly) and sometimes called Peruvian Plying (why, I don't know -- as it's not plying!)
To make a Peruvian Butterfly, once your yarn or ply has enough twist, start winding the new yarn in a figure-eight around the thumb and pinky finger of your left hand, bringing the spindle closer as you wind. Once you can reach the spindle with your right hand, take it in that hand and wind the yarn onto the shaft, unwinding it from your left hand as you go. Maintain a light tension between the spindle and the Butterfly, so that the yarn is wound "under control" to make a tidy cop on the spindle shaft.
I will use the Butterfly to reach a spindle even while it is still spinning, so I can stop it and wind on.
Lefties, feel free to wind the butterfly on your right hand as you hold your spindle in the left (grin!)
The drawing is © Copyright The Bellwether, from Spindling: The Basics, used with permission.
Now, to be quite honest, I don't get asked this question a whole lot -- but it is one of the first things I show to new spindlers, so they can wind their new yarn on without alot of frustration and tangling.