Embracing the Sock Blank

Last month I went to the Estes Park Wool Market and scored some great additions for the stash; most intriguing were the sock blanks that I found in the Bonkers Handmade Originals booth. They were single stranded, so suitable for mismatched mitts and socks, or maybe for a little shawl. Hmm…  I bought two of them.

Sock Blank and Mitt
You know that I had to cast on right away. Look, look: a mitt! I started knitting right off the blank and thought that the kink in the yarn would contribute to the funkiness. OK, the fabric is wonky, but I like it. It’s rustic, right?

I have to be honest here. As soon as I had satisfied my burning curiosity about how the yarn would knit up I stuffed the project into a bag where it languished out of sight for a few weeks.

Then I went up to Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder Colorado three weeks ago to get some more bobbins for my current weaving project and I saw these stacked in a pile of yumminess right by the front door:

Sock Blanks
Oh, my goodness. Look at those colors! These babies are from The Hummingbird Moon. You know that I was unable to resist casting on a sock right away since I am completely lacking in will power. Luckily I have several pairs of 2.25mm needles hanging out in my knitting bag.
Sock Blank
This sock blank was single stranded, so I knew that my pair of socks wouldn’t be an exact match, but after the first rush of knitting had worn off I took a better look at the blank to see if I could understand the dyeing pattern.  Hey, look at that! The blank had been folded lengthwise at the midpoint and the two halves are mirror images of each other. There must be a way to get two matching socks from this blank.
Cutting the sock blank.
I cut the blank at the midpoint, pulled out a long runner, cut it off and I had the two halves separated. Easy, peasy. I wound the bottom half into a ball using my ball winder.  Because of the way the blank was dyed the yarn that I wanted to start the new sock with (the bottom of the blank) was on the outside of the ball of wound yarn.
Ball of yarn and the blank.
Since I had already started one sock from the blank I had to cast on the second sock off the ball of yarn onto ANOTHER set of needles (hey, I’m an addict. I have lots and lots of needles…) and as soon as I had the second sock (from the ball of yarn) the same length as the first one I transferred it to the needles the first sock was on.
TAAT socks and patient cat.
Bam! I now had TAAT socks going on one set of needles. As always, MacKenzie was supervising my work.
Socks
From then on I worked off the ball and my half-blank. Look at how well the socks are matching up. I want to mention that if I had figured out the dye pattern sooner I could have wound both halves of the blank into balls; to make matching socks the trick would have been to knit from the outside of one ball and the inside of the other.

I did run into some issues when I got to the heel gussets; I had to use an extra needle (one for each sock heel) to handle all of the stitches during the gusset decreases. Once the stitch number was down to a reasonable number I was able to transfer stitches back to the original needles and finished up with no problems.

Finished Socks.
These are the first TAAT socks that I have ever done. I just love them! This simple vanilla sock pattern is Dave by Rachel Coopey. My Ravelry notes are here.

Flush with the success of the socks I pulled back out the mitts that I had started with the first sock blank that I got from Bonkers. This blank didn’t have a reversed dye pattern so I just went ahead and made mitts that are complementary but not identical.

Mitts
Here they are. These two will play well together but aren’t perfect matches. The fabric is a little funky so I put them into the sink this afternoon to soak for a while to see if the knitting will even out. They fit well when I try them on, so I’m sure all will be well after blocking. I haven’t woven in the ends yet as I thought that might be better done after blocking. My Ravelry notes are here.

I still have two blanks to play with, but as of today I have absolutely no projects on my needles at all; MacKenzie’s WIP basket is empty again. It’s kind of crushing. I have the yarn for three sweaters all lined up, but I’m torn about which one to start on. Should I start the artsy Stephen West Marled Magic sweater that will be very labor intensive, or should I just go for the easy knitting of another drijfhout in a single color? Then there is the crazy colored yarn that I bought for that I See Spring sweater by Joji Locatelli…

Time to start winding yarn. Good thing I am a knitting addict with a lot of needles on hand!

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Spinning Inspiration: The Estes Park Wool Market

My spinning wheel has been sitting around feeling bored. Actually, it has been moping and sulking in a corner of my office for months now. (I only dropped it that one time. Really. Only a few parts popped off. I totally think that it has been over-reacting about the whole thing…) Hoping to score some fabulous fiber that I could use to tease it back into good humor I headed off to THE YEAR’S BIG EVENT: the Estes Park Wool Market which is held every year in the mountains of Colorado in Estes Park, a wonderful mountain town near Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a lot of yarn in my stash. The wool market is where I find those special yarns and fibers that I can’t easily obtain and petting the animals that produce them is a special bonus!

I planned my outing for early Saturday so that I could arrive in the cool of the morning with the plan of racing through all the vendors, visiting the animals and then shopping for fiber. Thunderstorms are a given this time of year so I wanted to get out of the mountains before 3pm. It was a plan, anyway.

Alpaca
Isn’t this alpaca a great color? He’s not his usual fluff muffin self as his fiber has already been clipped off.
Alpaca fleece
Yep. You guessed it. I have acquired a fleece from one of the animals grown locally. The fleece has several colors in it from cream to dark caramel and is really clean. This fleece is so nice I had to get it into the car fast to protect it from my fellow fiber addicted friends. 🙂
Alpaca lock of fiber
Check out this lock!! It has a slight crimp, is extremely soft and the 4 inch length is going to allow me to spin this baby into lace weight yarn without a problem. (I hope. The spinning wheel will need to snap out of its sulky mood…)
Batt and spinning wheel
I also got a Big Batt from The Natural Twist that I hope to spin a gradient light worsted weight yarn to make a Yowza Weigh-It Shawl 4. This baby is 8 ounces of Romney wool and I can get a whole shawl from it, I’m sure. Doesn’t the spinning wheel look happier already?

This year I was moving fast so I didn’t watch the sheep dogs show or visit the llama events. I did check out lots of alpacas, sheep, bunnies, and goats while I was there. I always have a problem leaving them all there. Surely the neighbors wouldn’t notice one little goat or sheep. Right?

Jacob sheep
This Jacob sheep really, really wanted to come home with me. Look at that face! 
Cashmere goat
This cashmere buck was on sale. For just a few hundred dollars he could have been mine. Those horns, though. I don’t know if the cats would want to play with this guy!

When I was done with the animals and spinning fiber/fleeces for sale I hit the vendor area to see what else I could find.

Yak yarn!
Yak yarn!! You know I needed to add some of this to my shopping bag. I also bought a great pattern for a lace and garter stitch shawlette  called the Culebra Shawlette that will display the handpainted yarn well.

That was it. I could see the clouds were rolling in fast. I only had enough time to buy a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds, make one more chatty stop with friends to compare notes and show off the finds and then I was back in the car heading down the mountain ahead of the storm.

Half an hour later I received a text from a friend. You guessed it. It was raining too hard for her to drive and she was waiting it out up in Estes Park by grabbing a yummy early dinner of grilled lamb kabobs. Darn! I should have been a little slower on the drive after all…

My spinning wheel perked right up when I showed it that huge batt. I’m hoping for a little spell of cooler weather so the wheel and I can get going on making something wonderful together. What do you know? I think that we are friends again.