Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Roman Blue Sock - Yum, Yum, Yum

At this moment in my life, I can honestly say there is very little that is more exciting and satisfying than opening a big box of undyed yarn. When that undyed yarn is extra luscious, like this new Blue-Faced Leicester sock yarn I'm testing out, well, that just makes me all squiggly. This stuff is fan-freaking-tastic.

My first impression on the first skein that came to hand was, "Oh, squishy." The second thing I noticed was that it felt a little like silk. Real silk - not just "silky"-feeling. Examining an individual strand - there are 4 plies - gives the impression of a very competent spinnery. The twist is lovely, not at all loose as some superwash blended yarns tend to be. When it comes to knitting a pair of socks, my philosophy is "the closer, the better", regardless of nylon or other reinforcement content. The socks I'm knitting from my new BFL/nylon sock are going to last forever, baby.

So I threw a skein in the pot and picked out a few colors to experiment with and see what would happen inside the fibres. (Fibers. I'm not British, or Canadian, and though I'd like to be either, I use Fibre as my company mainly as a subtle reference to Shakespeare.) The yarn definitely took me by surprise - it didn't behave like Merino wool at all. Merino will take dye immediately, in a way that requires lots of dye for even a medium color. BFL, as I'm finding out, takes dye more slowly so that color spreads into less-defined patches. Some of my favorite colorways depend on the dye fixing straight away, which means a little creative problems solving on my part to affix the right dyes in the right places with the BFL. After a few frustrating attempts with the first skein, I thought I'd come up with an unmitigated disaster. I changed my verdict after I saw how it knits up.

Here we go, about 20 percent finished, with a cute little twist and testing a couple of my crystal stitch markers. I'm not sure how visible it is, but there are small variations of brown, red and burgundy there, and absolutely no pooling. The whole kettle-dyeing thing really makes a difference when I'm looking for skeins that don't pool or stripe in obvious ways. I'm knitting this sock on US 1 needles, and as I knit loose (read continental) I could easily have knit this yarn on Ots or Double Ots. It might take a little longer to finish a pair, but I think squishing in the fibers nice and close will make for a very sturdy garment.

That test skein was a few days ago. Since then, I've dyed and put up two batches. The first batch went within hours of posting. I don't know if this was some happy accident of fate, or if BFL really is that magnetic. I think it helps, and I'm probably going to have to make it a regular practice with all my yarns, to reskein them after they've dried. Live and learn, a cliche for a reason.

I'm already thinking forward to what I'd like to do next, ADD personality that I am. There's a vendor that I can get a Merino and Cashmere blend from and I have been lingering over the samples with embarassing frequency. Madrona is coming up, and I'd like to check it out before I have to be on the spot as an actual vendor at Sock Summit in August. I really, really, really need to order in some more HMS - I love that base yarn so much I bought some that another person had dyed for knitting a Clapotis. I think it's only a matter of time before everyone loves that stuff as much as I do. I just noticed someone stashing my yarn that they purchased from Twisted - oh, how scary and thrilling at the same time.

And, oddly enough, I have a book series review in the works for Joe's site. How's that for fingers in lots of different pies.

Happy Knitting!

1 comment:

asti said...

Hi - and thanks for favouriting my etsy shop ! I heard about yours ages ago on Lime and Violet I think. Lovely stuff :)
Yes, there are so many of us dyeing now......I don't feel that's a bad thing and get peeved when people run the newbies down. In truth, I was dyeing for myself a long time before I ever thought of selling. Sellers will come and go and the committed sellers will still be around in a few years time. I am staggered at just how many sock yarn sellers are on Etsy!The fact that I've had sales in the face of competition reassures me that there is room for us all. In the UK especially the indie dyer market is in it's infancy (your average buyer here doesn't want to pay much though ;)
I agree that finding 'different' yarns to work with is hard. Luckily I just stumbled across one of my current suppliers and the other was word of mouth. I wish I knew where to get a nice silk blend !!
Anyway..I've gone on much too long, just wanted to say hello :)