The Unknit

I spent the end of last week in Cape Girardau at the Erlbacher Knitting Machine Company Homecoming & Crank In.  I had a great time with friends I made last year and new friends I made this year, learned some great tips, and got some in person help on timing my ribber better.  One of the most helpful things I learned was how to unknit faster and better on the machine.  I had been doing it with my pick tool, lifting the stitches off one by one. I learned how to pull up on the yarn and the new stitch pops off and leaves the old stitch right where it should be.  I got pretty fast at it after a couple of times.  You need to raise needles in order to park the yarn carrier out of the way, but I usually have needles raised already because I am working on a heel or toe when the need arises to unknit.  Either I loose track of where I am and end up increasing where I should still be decreasing ( or vice versa) or I am not paying attention and keep decreasing past my target needle.  Well, the latter situation cam up this morning so I took a video while I unknit. A slotted yarn carrier is helpful so you don’t have to cut the yarn, but if you don’t have one, cut the yarn and you will need to make a join of some kind when you are ready to get back to knitting the yarn off the cone or bobbin. I have not come across this process on a video or Sock TV before, so here it is. It’s much easier to see it than to try to have it explained in words. I have the camera in front of me, so its a little awkward, and my hands get in the way a little.  Near the end, my camera angle is off, but you have seen the important stuff by then. If I need to to it again, I will try to take a better video next time.

 

WiPs and FOs

I finished a WiP (work in progress) yesterday, Hyrna með krónuprjóni is finally finished after 7 years (approximately 6.75 of those years it was in a bag).  Now it is a FO (finished object). I will submit it to my Weaver’s Guild UFOFF (unfinished objects finally finished) Challenge Exhibit in a week and it will be on display in the guild gallery for a while beginning in May.
Here is a pic of it before being blocked.

IMG_0715

 

After soaking in a little warm water and Eucalan wool wash, she needs to be shaped and pinned out to dry. I folded it in half for blocking to save space (along with my back–bending over and pinning it out takes a while) andto  keep the symmetry.

HMK Blocking

Wet blocking is a transformative process that softens the yarn, lets the stitches settle into place, stretches out and shapes and opens the lace. When it is fully dry and you unpin it, the shawl keeps it shape.

HMK close up blocking

Have I said how much I love Old Shale lace?

IMG_0763

 

Socks in progress.  The pink pair is waiting patiently to be removed from the machine and have the toes grafted closed.

Pink Socks

They will be part of the basket my study group is putting together for a raffle at the Weavers Guild of Greater Cincinnati for the Fiber Arts Fair we are having on April 30.  If you are interested in buying fiber art or making fiber art (members will be selling used equipment a tools and extra stash yarn) come to the Fair at the Guild House! I will have cowls, sock and some towels to sell.

I also finished up a pair of clogs for my 13 year old son. They were a collaborative effort.  I bought the yarn, my daughter did most of the knitting.  I finished the knitting, sewed them up and felted them. Here they are pictured with my size 8.5 foot.

Peters Clogs

He has outgrown two pairs (grown 8 inches in the last year), here is the first pair I knit Pair 1 and a post when I was working on his second pair. (for some reason I didn’t take a pic after they were finished) so the new ones are bigger than his size 10 feet to have a little growing room.

 

 

 

Get Your Crank On

There has been lots of discussion lately on the CSM forums about the learning curve in using a circular sock machine and the difference between user error as opposed to machine problems.  One way to minimize user error is to have a checklist of things to do when you are getting ready to stand or sit at the machine and make a pair of socks. It can help you eliminate some of those little things that go wrong.  I put together a list of things that I have been trying to do to keep my head in the game and minimize the problems I cause myself. There are lots of things to check and watch for, and if you miss one of them, you may have to start the sock over.

Here is my checklist to hang by the machine:
(You can pop it out by hovering over the top right hand corner of the Google doc and clicking on the square with the arrow.  Then print it or download to edit as you need to for your own way of working.)

Camo Socks

Camo socks
I have begun breaking in my 72 stitch cylinder and ribber dial and can now make nice men’s socks sized small (shoe size 8-9) and medium (shoe size 10-11). I knit these for my son in his favorite color green that is called “Camo”. His dad wants a pair now too, so it’s a good thing I have more of this yarn. I think they will be very popular! These socks have a 1×1 ribbed cuff and a 3×1 ribbed leg. I am working on a pair with a 2×2 ribbed cuff and leg. It requires a different type of cast on and I almost had it the other day, but when I took the ribber off, I saw that I had missed one stitch on the back half of the cylinder.

I may need to save up for a larger cylinder and ribber dial for large men’s socks, but will get some advice from the other crankers at the Crank in next month at the Cape on whether I should get the 80 or 84 stitch combination.

Do you like my sock stretchers?  I got them yesterday at the estate sale of a weaver.  There was quite a lot of yarn, books, and weaving tools, but I spotted these and snatched them up first thing.  They are vintage men’s stocking stretchers.  Before there was such as thing as  superwash yarn, the wool socks would shrink when washed and needed to be stretched out as they dried to maintain the size. (Since I use a superwash wool/nylon blend, I don’t have to worry about that, and they can even be machine washed on gentle.) I think they are a great way to feature my men’s socks and will look good when I get enough inventory to have a booth at a show.

CSM Ribbing Help

Flat Bent Tip NeedleI was working on a ribbed sock for my son today, and made a couple of videos to help other CSMers.

First, my new favorite tool, the flat, bent tip needle (Bodkin needle).

I would really like one about 2 inches longer, but haven’t found it yet.  This one is almost three inches long.  I use it to help when I am switching to my working yarn with the ribber in place on the my circular sock machine.  You need to thread the yarn into the machine and get it down into the cylinder to knit with it.  This needle is much easier for me to use than a latch hook tool that is fished up from below.  Check out my little video below.

 

Next is a video to show you how I latch up or “pick up” a dropped ribber stitch.   I had a lot of experience latching them up until I got my ribber correctly timed to the machine and the yarn guide placement adjusted correctly.  The only other videos I found about picking up stitches showed how to latch up a dropped cylinder stitch.  So this morning when I dropped a rib stitch when transferring it to the cylinder needle, I knew I would have a dropped stitch to fix when I took the ribber off.  So here it is.

Cleveland Sucks Socks

Cleveland Socks
These Cleveland Browns Socks were a bit painful for me to knit as a die hard Cincinnati Bengals fan. But, my love for my son (also a die hard Bengals fan) outweighed my distaste for the Browns. His girlfriend is from the Cleveland area and is a Browns fan, and I wanted a Christmas gift to give to her. Fortunately, the Browns have had a dismal record this year and the Bengals beat them both times we played them or I might not have been able to overcome the loathing enough to do it. (Mom did say she put a curse on the socks to keep them from beating the Bengals in the future). They lost to Pittsburgh once this year, but maybe the socks will bring them the luck the need to beat the Squealers Steelers in their January 3 game. I actually hate Pittsburgh more, so sorry Juliann (my sister-in-law) there are no Steelers themed socks in your future.

Be Kind To Your Socks

2015-12-06_06-48-28

Now that I am selling more of my Measured Steps socks, I thought I would put up a post about caring for them.  I typically use high quality German sock yarns when I knit.  They are a superwash wool/nylon blend, which means that you can machine wash, gentle cycle and tumble dry on the lowest heat setting if you so desire.  But, I always recommend to hand wash, lay flat to dry or drape over a towel bar.  I use mild shampoo and lukewarm water, let them soak in the sink while I take a shower, rinse and squeeze out water, roll in a towel and press on it get out even more water.  An occasional rinse with hair conditioner is nice too.  If you lay them on a heat vent, they will dry overnight. You can wear them two times before washing if you let them air out between wearings.

They should not shrink appreciably in the washing machine and dryer if you follow the instructions from the yarn company, but there is abrasion in washer agitation and tumble drying which can cause the wool to pill and look worn sooner than if you hand washed your socks. If you insist on machine washing, turn them inside out and put them in a lingerie bag to keep them from rubbing and getting snagged on things. The good thing about the yarn is you won’t ruin your socks if they end up the the washer/dryer by accident, but if you treat them kindly you will keep them looking their best and lasting longer. I also recommend not walking around in your stocking feet in the house. Put some slippers on,e specially if you have rugs (friction again).  Keep your toenails trimmed to help keep the toes from wearing out.  Yes your socks will eventually wear out, but I usually get 3-4 years of frequent wear out of a pair of socks made with good quality sock yarn.

Friendly Socks

2015-11-15_09-53-41
Today I cranked a pair of socks for a friend.  I only had to start the first sock over once.  That is great progress considering I restarted the first sock 4 or 5 times  on my last pair. Of course I was trying to get my tension and number of rows for the foot correct so I was really sampling. I actually had two, perfectly made, complete socks that were ripped out, one too short for my foot and the other too long. I used the same tension settings today for these, but forgot the heel spring and I dropped a stitch in the ribbing that went all the way down so, since the ribbing was too loose, I just ripped and restarted. I adjusted the number of rounds I knit in the foot for a size 7.5 woman’s shoe. The yarn is unknown. My friend Karen lost the label so I have no idea of the fiber content, brand or care instructions. My guess though, is it’s  a superwash wool/nylon blend. It can probably be machine washed warm on gentle and tumbled dry on low, but all sock will last longer if treated a bit more gently by hand wash (I use shampoo) and laid flat to dry. If you are a cranker interested in the details, you can see them recorded in my projects on Ravelry.

Sock Hop

2015-11-12_12-05-57

I have started cranking out some socks again. Above is a pair I knit for me out of Berocco Sox Corib. Now I am working with my warm German sock yarns that you can see pictured below.  I bought some some collections, so they will have similar patterns within the collections, but different colorways. Some are very bright and some are more subdued and conservative. (Plus I have a new colorful collection of Opal Potpourri yarn on the way and will post those pics as soon as they arrive.)   If you want a particular size and colorway, let me know and you can choose from the sets below.  Normally $28 a pair but friends and family can order a pair for $25 (if paid by cash or check (ladies sizes) until the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday November 25.  I can usually have them ready within a week but will let you know if they will take longer. Shipping is not included. Men’s sizes will take longer since I want to get the ladies sizes knit first. I need to switch out cylinders re-set the machine for a larger foot size. That all takes time and I prefer to knit as many as I can on one cylinder before switching it out.) Extra large men’s feet (above size 12) may cost more if I have to use more than one ball of yarn (in that case heels, toes and perhaps cuffs will need to be knit in a solid coordinating color which I have to buy). Send me a message through the contact form here or on my Measured Threads Facebook page if you want some. 

IMAG3212

Over the Rainbow Collection (numbered from the top row left to right as #1  to #4 &  bottom left to right as #5 to #8)

   

Hot Socks

Hot Socks Collection (numbered from the top row left to right as #1  to #3 &  bottom left to right as #4 to #6)

 

Morning Dew

Morning Dew Collection (numbered from the top row left to right as #1  to #4 &  bottom left to right as #5 to #8)

 

Calculated Steps

I have an excel spreadseet to help me figure out the number of rows to knit for a foot on a CSM.  I have found a way put my calculator here on my website to help all the CSM folks out there.  It is included in this post and on a permanent page under Socks on the menu above. I hope it helps.  I would love to hear some feedback.  Does it work for you?  Do you have a problem with it?  Any feedback is welcome.  For best results, it does require making and washing a sample tube, figuring out your rows per inch, and figuring out how many rows will be in your heel and toe.

Step by Step

This post is a link to the step by step instructions I made to help myself make a wrapped heel and toe on the CSM.  It is free to those crankers who are interested.  I needed a step by step set of instructions to help be successful cranking out a wrapped heel and toe. I based it some on the manual I received with my machine and watching You Tube videos.  I make no guarantees it will work for you or that it is error free.  Please let me know if it helps or if you find mistakes.

CSM Wrapped Heel and Toe Step by Step

CSM Wrapped Heels and Toes

Measured Steps Socks

2015-05-16 10.14.08

Treat your feet & buy yourself a pair today!

Do you know how hard it is to take a good picture of your own feet?  I have gotten better at it over the years since I have always loved handknit socks and enjoyed documenting my creations on Ravelry, Facebook and my blog. Now I am selling my own line of handmade socks.

These short Measured Steps socks are fun and funky sport socks of a machine washable and dryable, 50% merino wool, 25% rayon from bamboo and 25% nylon blend yarn. They are soft and comfortable and handmade on my circular sock knitting machine. You. can read more about that here.  They are made with the ideal yarn for summer socks, wool for moisture control and softness, bamboo for coolness, and nylon for durability.

Because I got the yarn at a good price, I am just getting started in the business and want you all to know the joy of handmade socks, I am currently taking orders for women’s sizes 6-9 and offering them for a special introductory price of $14 a pair to my readers and friends (paid in cash and picked up). If you want them mailed to you, it will be an extra $2 to cover Paypal fees and postage. There is a limit of one pair per person at this special price and you must order by Friday, May 22. If you are local, use the “contact” form in the right sidebar (or below if you are on mobile) to let me know. If you are out of town, please place your order through my store.  In either case, I will contact you for color and sizing details and let you know how long it will be before I can get them made.

2015-05-16 10.12.29 2015-05-16 10.13.57 2015-05-16 10.13.44

The colors available right now are below.  Your computer screen may render the colors slightly different than the actual color, but they are very close on my screen.

Yarn #s 1 & 2 on the right will produce a “Fairisle” look like the pair above.

yarn choices

click for bigger picture

 

The yarns on the left (#s 3,4 & 5) will produce a striped pattern similar to this.

2015-05-07 07.35.17

Again, send me a note using the contact form to order or use my store if you are out of town.

 

Round and Round I Go

Pagewood Socks

I have been spending hours each day learning on the sock machine.  I am having some successes finally, so feel like I am breaking out of the learning curve.  The above socks are the same size, fit me and came out as I expected after knitting a sample tube and doing some calculations with a little spreadsheet I made.  It seems to work!

This pair is lovely, but came out too big for me, but Mom can wear them.

2015-04-24 17.09.57

I plan on knitting a pair a day for the next week, so look for a quick daily post.

 

 

False Starts

I have had some false starts getting to know my circular sock machine (csm).  There is a huge learning curve and I actually think it is harder than hand-knitting a sock with double pointed needles.  One little misstep, and you have to start over.  I have had a lot of little missteps, but as always, learning from your mistakes and trying to fix them is the best way to learn.  I am really understanding the process now, I can pick up dropped stitches on the machine like a champ and have been able to crank out a complete short sock with a good heel and toe that fits.  It won’t be a pair, since I am working on sampling yarns and techniques right now.

I got the tension right to get a sock that fits well around the foot without being too loose and learned how many rows to crank for my foot size.  I even felt good enough about itto graft the toe closed. Many CSM knitters Kitchener from the inside (purl side) with the waste yarn in place, and it worked like a charm.  Maybe I will break out the good sock yarn in a day or two to try to make a complete pair.  Hopefully I can start reliably knitting socks for sale by June 1 and offering a service to knit sock with your yarn.

short csm sock

Crankin’ Away

I went to Cape Girardeau, Missouri this past week to pick up my circular sock knitting machine and participate in the Annual Open House and crank-in that is sponsored by the Erlbacher Gearhart Knitting Machine Company.  They make reproductions of the antique Gearhart sock knitting machines that I have mentioned previously.  I love to hand knit socks, but cannot keep up with my family’s demand much less make enough to sell.  Socks also take long enough to knit that a pair would cost over $100 to make it worth my while to sell them.  Since one of my goals is sales, I wanted a hand cranked machine that worked correctly right at the start.  I also wanted one that I could easily get extra cylinders and ribbers for so I can make different sizes. For those reasons, I chose to buy a new one instead of an antique.

Their usual models of the machine come in green and yellow (think John Deere colors) or red. I got one of their last Pink Lady machines, a special paint job on 25 of them.  Part of the profits went to support a fundraiser in honor of a friend of the Erlbacher family who died of breast cancer.  The money would be used to help fund mammograms and support breast cancer patients in need. A woman in Chicago had purchased the machine, but after 2 or 3 weeks decided she did not like knitting on a machine and preferred to knit her socks by hand after all.  (The Erlbachers refer to this as “stick knitting”.)  So I got it at a good price with some extras.

machine

I had a great time there and learned the basics of how to use the machine.  In fact, I even learned how to use the ribber which is something they don’t recommend learning until you have knit a few sock with a turned hem and stockinette or mock rib leg.  I decided to make sure I knew how to use it while I had someone by my side to help and to make sure my machine worked correctly with the ribber dial on.  I am currently working on the matching sock to the one I knit at the crank-in.

Here is a little movie of it in action.

Crankin’ away at home.

A video posted by Nancy (@measuredthreads) on