Some circular sock success!

Quite nice alliteration in the title, which makes me happy. Thanks to Wendy from Corramook Cranky Socks and Karen from CSMLove, I feel mastery of my vintage Imperia circular sock machine is within my grasp. Low level mastery – I’m not getting ahead of myself here!

I think a big difference was made when (coach) Wendy sold me a 1.5kg cone of white sock yarn. I am now knitting with a uniform yarn for every pair and I have plenty so I’m not freaking out about small amounts of wastage (although it is collected and will be reused down the track). I’ve now used 200grams of it on four pairs of socks. I’m going to have a lot of socks by the end!

I have even tried making a sock chain, which is the way it’s done in the instruction manual for my machine. Basically, the socks are knitted continuously, and it means, in theory, that there is always one sock on the machine. This saves quite a lot of set up time and therefore increases productivity, which I must remember if I ever do piece work for money 😂.

Once separated they look like this. I just rewind that coloured yarn, which is called waste yarn, but I reuse it until it’s too ragged to use again.

The little bit of waste yarn that is left is at the toes. These get grafted together with Kitchener stitch, and it should be impossible to see where the join is.

I can tell, but hopefully after blocking it won’t be as obvious. I am quite good at grafting off knitting needles but still coming to grips with my tension on hand sewing. I now have four pairs of white shortiesocks, the fit of which is pretty good.

Now on to the dyeing!

I decided to mordant these socks using Alum. I could have used soy milk but I hadn’t made any and I was too impatient.

I wanted to experiment with each pair so I tied them together before I started, this meant that I was confident that they were a similar size and shape (not always guaranteed with my knitting!).

I was using whatever I had in the shed at our holiday place and I found a bag labelled Huon pine sawdust. I thought that might be really cool, so I put some in a pot and added hot water, stirred it round and strained it. I added a scrap of wool but found the results disappointing, perhaps if I had applied heat I may have achieved a deeper colour, but I abandoned this one.

Then the fun really began! I had containers of onion skin, coreopsis and some lac I’d used last time and couldn’t throw away. You are not supposed to save it, but I put it in air tight jars and it didn’t have any mould, so I thought I was safe.

I sprinkled onion skins all over one pair of socks, leaving a bit of white, hoping that I might get a variegated colour. I did the same with the coreopsis, but laid it on a bit thicker. I dipped one pair of socks into the lac and the last pair I laid some bits and bobs of plants I’d found on the ground and sprinkled with the lac solution. Each pair was rolled into waterproof fabric and tied up. I didn’t want any cross contamination whilst in the pot. I put them in a bamboo steamer and left them for an hour – this is the hard part!

Unrolling the parcels is always such a joy. First out was the dip dyed in lac pair. What a colour! It might fade a bit but it’s still pretty good.

Then came the onion skins pair. I really got a variegation in the colours and I love that bright yellow and the orange.

The coreopsis was next. Well, these aren’t pretty. I scraped the flowers off into the bush gave them a quick rinse and they are better.

Subconsciously I clearly saved the best for last. These were the socks where I wondered if I could get some leafy imprints, and it was successful in parts.

The eucalyptus flowers gave a lovely imprint, as did the dried leaf in the second photo. The kangaroo paw flowers also left a more blobby shape. The biggest disappointment was the Silver Dollar Gum (Eucalyptus cinerea), which did absolutely nothing. I would have perhaps got colour had I left the socks in the bath for longer, but I was worried about felting. However, the sprinkled on Lac gave this beautiful pink and these are easily my favourite socks.

here they all are gently drying in the shade

I left them for a little while and then rinsed with a Ph neutral detergent before drying again. My least favourite, the coreopsis, surprised me with the range of beautiful colours. Natural dyeing is always intriguing. Now all I need is some sock wearing weather!

And yes, I have very small feet!


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