October 2017 YarnBox Socks

This month’s YarnBox angered me and it has nothing to do with Sugarbush Yarns.

First, I get gray yarn.  Even after going through all my preferences for bright colors, no pinks, etc etc.

Second, they sent 3 balls of yarn that are 50g/140m each.  Which sounds fine, until you realize that:

  1. if you have big man feet, one ball is not enough, which is why I’m assuming you get 3, or
  2. you have small feet and this makes 3 socks… but who needs 3 socks? and
  3. 140m for 50g is not the standard for sock yarns… it should be closer to 200m (180-220ish).

It sounds petty, I know, but this is how you piss off a sock knitter with big feet.  Yes, I got ample yarn for a pair of socks, but now my socks will have knots randomly in the sock where I ran out of yarn and joined another in.  180m is really pushing it for my basic socks so I’m definitely going to have knots.  I’m guessing 140m will get you to about a men’s size 10.

I haven’t knit my socks, so I can’t say anything about the yarn itself, I’m sure it’s amazing, but for now, I just tossed it aside and canceled my YarnBox subscription because I’ve had enough.  It’s a decent service that I’m sure works for most people, I just haven’t been happy with what I’ve received in months and they provide no way to exchange yarn or make me happy at this point.

Oh yes, more socks

handmade size 16 socks

Are you sick of socks yet?   I kind of am!  I should say, I am kind of sick of writing about them.   I still find it enjoyable to make them.

I took a picture this morning of another custom order going out.  These monsters are another pair of size 16.   The last pair was reported to be slightly short and an additional inch was requested.

I also dyed these as well.  Dyeing seems to be a little hit and miss for me. These are brown, sort of.  They’re supposed to be chocolate brown but in person, they look almost purple.   I also dyed some yarn “true black” the other day and they came out almost navy – dark, but not black.  Maybe I’m not using enough dye.

But, aside from those issues, I seem to be getting better at some of the dyeing methods.   This is one of many skeins I did last weekend.

hand-dyed skein of sock yarn

You may see some strange out of place threads in there, but those are just extra ties I hadn’t cut off yet, so ignore those.    But pretty decent, right?   I was at least encouraged to keep trying, so you may see some more skeins pop up if there is anything worth showing.   At least it wouldn’t be socks, right?

September 2017 YarnBox Socks

I was excited to open the mailbox again yesterday when I saw my YarnBox bag waiting for me.

Then, I opened it.   :/

I don’t mind pink, I’ve gotten several pink skeins in the last few months.  But they were always something funky, like pink with chartreuse, they weren’t just pink.  This has some notes of other colors, but they’re all muddy colors, and not enough to be interesting.

I looked at Apple Tree Knits and they have some beautiful yarns.   Now, if I would have been sent the ‘Jimi’ or Zigi colorway in their Purl Jems line I would’ve been ecstatic.  But this solid-ish pink just isn’t for me.

So, I emailed YarnBox because their site mentions an exchange policy, which I could not find anywhere.  To their credit, they responded pretty quickly, I just didn’t happen to like their answer.  Basically, if you don’t like what you get you can join a forum and attempt to trade it with other YarnBox people.  Not much of an exchange policy, is it?  They have an overstock section on their site that you can buy previous yarns at a discount, I don’t get why I can’t just exchange for one of those.

I updated my preferences on the site for NO PINK but I am still trying to decide if I will continue buying.   I accept I won’t always get something I want and several times I didn’t,  but there should be options when that happens.   I think I’d rather just hit Etsy or find a local dyer and splurge on something pretty once in a while and actually get something I want.  It won’t be a big surprise, but YarnBox’s support is on this issue is very meh.

It looks like I’m stuck with this one.   I may have to do a giveaway.

Trying my hand at self-striping yarn

I did it again.  I stuck myself with a bunch of custom work for friends and family.   And, of course, I said they’d go out this week.   I’m really good at setting myself up like this.  They didn’t even ask, I offered.   That’s how good I am at sticking myself with work.

I decided I was going to attempt to make self-striping yarn.   It started off pretty well.   I prepped my yarn by creating a makeshift warp board with some clamps so that I could organize the skein of yarn into stripe sections.   I dyed them in colors close to what was requested and then set down to wind all the yarn back into a ball so that I could knit with it.

And, that, is where the problems started.   It didn’t occur to me how hard it would be to get it all back into a ball.   It took me hours for each skein.  So many knots… so many…

I tied it all up like I had previously, but I must be missing something that would make this easier.   I’ve watched plenty of videos on it but no one ever shows the last part, they just set it all up and dye it… those sneaky bastards.   They could at least warn people.

Regardless of my troubles, I finished the socks and now they are hanging to dry before being shipped off.

Birthday Socks

For my mother’s birthday, I tracked down a skein of my favorite yarn to date, Feza Uneek 3002.  It’s no longer produced, so that was a challenge, but I was able to do it.   Then I made her a pair of socks… which I’ll have to wait and see how successful I was once she gets them and tries them on.

My machine is a 72 needle machine, which I bought to make socks for larger feet.  Trying to make smaller socks was a challenge.  It wasn’t horrible, but for a beginner, it wasn’t easy and took a lot of guess work especially when those feet aren’t around to try them on.  I had to remove 8 needles to bring it down to a 64 needle machine and constantly put in and take them out throughout the sock making process.   It took several tries but I think I was successful.

I was told (by the manufacturer) that putting it through the wash would tighten it up and those missing needles wouldn’t be an issue.  You can see some lines down the length of the sock where the needles were removed, but I kind of like the faux ribbing look.

Along with the socks, I tracked down my favorite bag of reserve coffee from the Starbucks Roastery, which also is no longer produced.   But after working some contacts on the inside I was able to get my hands on a bag.

I just hope my gift works out and is enjoyed.   I know the effort will be appreciated, but I’ll be a bit sad I gave up my favorite yarn and find out they don’t even fit!

August 2017 YarnBox Socks

I was pretty excited when  I realized the bag in the mailbox was my YarnBox shipment.   Or maybe I should say YarnBag shipment.   I ripped it open right in the car. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited once I saw it.   Last month, I really didn’t appreciate the skein I got until I started knitting it up, then I absolutely loved it.  So I hoped that would be true of this month’s yarn as well.

This month’s skein comes from Lucky 13 Fibers out of Chicago and is dyed Purple and Gray (which doesn’t show up that well in my photos).   I’ve never been a fan of the colors mixed with gray, it usually comes off looking a lot like it is worn out or some of the colors didn’t take.   Purple, on the other hand, is the best color on the planet, but I don’t really wear purples in my wardrobe.

I put it right through the sock machine last night and stitched up the toes during lunch today.   I know, my socks are pretty boring and basic, but this is what I like to wear.

It came out better than I was imagining and they are nice looking socks, but they still weren’t anything exciting.  With that said, the purple is on the darker side and the gray does tone it down a bit putting it more on the masculine side, so I can appreciate that.  Most commercial sock yarns are very bright so it’s nice to get a yarn like this now and then.

The best sock yet

I was going to cool it on the sock posts for a while.  I didn’t want to bore anyone who might eventually read these posts.   But I made the best sock yet and I’m excited about it, so I thought I’d show the internets.

I wore them yesterday and they fit perfectly.   The stretch over the day was minimal and they still were snuggly pressed to my ankles when I took them off last night.    I think that’s because this is wool and I’ve mostly dealt with cotton/nylon mixes.

I think they also look great.  That has nothing to do with me though, I just splurged on some pricey yarn.   This is Feza Yarns Uneek 3008, or as I call it, “Bumblebee Massacre.”   Unfortunately, I think this line of yarns has been discontinued but you can still find it on etsy and in some yarn shops for $20-30.   I think I got this one for $25.   Which, is more than I’d normally spend on my basic looking socks, but it looked so interesting on the shelf I couldn’t resist.

 

July 2017 YarnBox Socks

July 2017 yarnbox.com socks shipment

A month or so ago I signed up for yarnbox and I received my first shipment a few days ago.   What attracted me to the service was that it sent me yarn (yassss!) and second, they had a sock box (double yassss!).  I also hoped it would be a great way to get the yarn I either wouldn’t normally get for myself or get yarn that isn’t available to me locally.

This month’s “box” was a generous 434-yard skein of Corrie Sock yarn from Flying Goat Farm.  I say “box” because it was really one of those gray bags that many magazines are sent in.   Most box services I see are done really cute and presented well, but this was very much just yarn in a bag.

The yarn itself is not something I would normally buy, which made this even more interesting.   I have nothing against it, but this is not something I would consider my style.   So, I guess I got exactly what I was hoping for!  I also wouldn’t buy this because it’s $28 and I’m more of a $5/pair of socks type of guy.  My socks are for utility and allergy relief, not beauty, though I do like when they end up looking unexpectedly nice.   Since the sock box is about $20/month and this is a $28 skein, I think it’s still a deal.

I also noted that the yarn was noticeably thicker than any sock yarn I’ve used, so machine knitting could be problematic but I was sure I’d get through it.  I’d just be pushing the limits of my 72 needle setup.

I cranked away at the sock machine with only a few issues and I was pretty happy with what I saw being knit:

I was surprised how the striping came out and now I’m even more glad I ordered sock box.   I definitely never would have picked this skein up off a shelf or internet store, but now that I have the sock in hand I can say I’d totally wear it… and I will.   Tomorrow, most likely.

Fun with Tie Dye

hand painted rainbow yarn being wound

Skeins of Undyed Lace Yarn

I recently ordered a bunch of skeins of lace yarn with the intention of dying it myself.  I had been watching a lot of YouTube on the subject and decided to give it a shot.  Even if it didn’t work out, I would still have a bunch of natural/almost white skeins to make socks with.

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I decided to try the Tie Dye method since it didn’t require simmering on the stove but I knew going in it would be a lot more time-consuming since it’s a 6-hour wait period while the dye does its magic.

I got out a marbling tray that I had bought a while back when I was planning some other projects (which I never got to, but we’ll ignore that part).   I covered it with plastic wrap to keep things clean and got to dyeing my yarns.

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My main goal was to make rainbow yarn.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful rainbow yarns out there but I wasn’t willing to pay the high price for most of these hand painted yarns.  I started squirting color on the yarn but all it did was bead up on top on top of the yarn and wouldn’t soak in. Tapping/Dabbing it into the fabric seemed to work but took forever.   Most yarn dyeing involves pre-soaking your yarn in water, but Tulip’s instructions didn’t say to do that.

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Since I prepared a bunch of skeins I was planning on trying a bunch of different methods.   On the second skein, I presoaked the yarn and dyeing went very quickly and the color bled very easily through the fibers.

I also tried soaking a skein in the dye (see bowls in the picture) but that really didn’t turn out.  It dyed the outermost layers, but the inside of the skeins was completely untouched and dry.  So yeah, don’t do that.   I’ll have to re-dye them later in a darker color and see if they can be saved.  Right now they look awful.

After 6 hours of waiting, I rinsed them out and hung them up to dry.  I’ll show you two of my favorites.  The rainbow yarn turned out amazing:

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While pushing the dye into the yarn took a long time, it gave me a great amount of control.  The dye didn’t bleed at all, so the color only went where I put it.

When the yarn is pre-soaked, it pretty much does its own thing, but that can also be amazing.

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The picture makes it look pretty dull, but in real life, it came out like a shiny oil spill.   I don’t know how well that will translate into socks, but it was still fun to create.

Last, I got to unwind these knitted ‘blanks’ and turn them into balls of yarn ready to knit.

hand painted rainbow yarn being wound

multicolor "oil spill" yarn being wound

Once I saw them being wound I got pretty excited to use them.  Unfortunately, the sock machine is still being used for sock yarn and I’m not ready to switch over to lace yarn just yet.   So these are being put aside until I work my way through the enormous pile of sock yarn still waiting to be turned into socks.

Ribbing results

Yesterday, when I got up and got ready for work, I popped on my new jelly bean socks as I had planned.   I was surprised just how loose the ribbing was.  It stretches and lays flush with the ankle, but it really had no strength to it.  It wasn’t squeezing around the ankle like a commercial sock would.  But then, my ribbing has no elastic woven into it like a commercial sock would either.

By the end of the day, it was just as stretched out as my non-ribbed sock was.  And to be honest, I didn’t care for how the ribbing looked once it was on my foot and stretched.

I can see how ribbing could be useful for a smaller ankle.  But my ankle is quite large and it doesn’t seem to make any difference unless I decided to start putting elastic in my sock… which I won’t, because I’m allergic to it, hence the reason I’m making my own socks to begin with.

I could also see myself using ribbing if I was making socks for someone else, they do look more polished and commercial if you add ribbing.  But for me, the amount of work and time that goes into adding ribbing is not worth it.  I think my future socks will just have a plain hung hem (like the bottom sock in the picture).

I may play with adding elastic just to see how well it works out and for any socks I make as gifts.