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Sock Blanks: What Are They? Why Would I Use Them?

Hot Fuschia Sock Blank

Let’s talk about sock blanks.

What are they?  A sock blank is a pre-knit fabric that is then used in an entirely different way than it’s first rendition.  It is not a sock. It is not in the shape of a sock. It is a rectangular shape.  Does that make sense?

Why are they call “sock blanks”? I think this name was originally coined by the manufacturers of these fabrics.  They were made with sock weight yarn for the hand dyer to dye, paint, or print onto.  And there simply hasn’t been a change in name and really there should be. I think there would be less confusion that way.

How do they come? There are “double” sock blanks and “single” sock blanks.  Doubles are made with 2 threads in each stitch. Singles have just 1 thread in each stitch.

What can I do with a double? With a double you can knit Two at a Time socks. This way you will get matching socks. You can also just reknit the blank, holding the yarn double to make a cowl or scarf.  If you don’t know how to make socks TAAT,  then you can knit with one of the threads and you will ball up the other one as you go along.  And if you do this you can make socks, scarves or shawls with the single thread.

What can I do with a single? You can reknit this fabric into anything you desire; a cowl, scarf, shawl or even a cardigan.

How do I work with the blank? There is a “live” end that unravels and the cast on edge that doesn’t unravel.  So work from the live end. Unravel the stitches as you knit your new garment.

Why would I do this? I hate to rip out knitting!  Well the fun part about knitting with sock blanks is that it is a mystery. Your finished product will NOT look like the original.  If the sock is dyed in a gradient fashion, it will stay a gradient but will have some striping in it. If it is printed or dyed with a pattern, that pattern will not be maintained.  You will have a more spreckled, freckled look to your finished product.  What I love about these fabrics is that as I knit, the new fabric is coming into focus. It is becoming its own new fabric. This mysterious nature keeps me knitting.  I want to see what will happen next.

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Banish This Word in the New Year

At this time of year, I like many people are thinking about their word of the year. It is a North Star or value or resolution. It marks how you want to spend your year. That is all good and I do come up with my word of the year each January.

But I want to talk to you about banishing a word this year. Let’s banish the word….stash. I’ve spoken to many of you in person about ejecting this word and concept from your vocabulary. When I hear people talking about their stash it is not out of pride. I don’t hear “You should see my stash! It is lovely.” More often I hear, “I can’t buy anything until I use my stash.” It is said in a kind of Eeyore voice. It is said with shame. Let’s banish that word! Let’s trash the shame!

 

I propose that we use the word, “collection” instead. You are the curator. It is your collection. Each skein and ball that is in your collection was lovingly acquired. Some with a specific project in mind and others just thrilled you with color or texture or softness. I think that if we change our language, we can change our outlook or attitude about the yarn that we have collected. We will be able to see those threads in a different light. We may even go through them and realize, “Hey! I’ve grown out of using this yarn, or this color!” Those parts of your collection can be donated or gifted. You have the power to make the choices, after all it is YOUR collection.

This year, let’s make the commitment to value our collections, to explore them anew and discover what you love about them and which ones need to find a new home. Let’s find some new ways of using what we have and making room to buy new skeins to augment the collection. If you would like to explore your collection in an organized way, you can subscribe to our Color Explorer eCourse. It is a 4 lesson course that helps you look at your collection from the viewpoint of color and allows you to make choices about what stays and what need to be removed from your collection.

What do you think? 

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Stash Appreciation– Be a Color Explorer


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Most makers I know have a stash of one kind or another. It may be beads, fabric, yarn, roving, threads, magazines, papers or all of the above.  Yes, I do have a stash. Even though I dye my own yarn all the time, I also buy yarn and roving that calls my name. Very rarely to I think to myself, “Oh I could dye that!” No, I would rather support my fellow maker and treat myself to another beautiful addition.  Stash has developed a negative connotation, almost something to be ashamed of.  I am changing my own thinking about this and looking at my stash as a collection. I’ve thoughtfully and artfully collected supplies over the years with which to express my colorful side and the creative force that lives within me.

One way to explore your sense of color is to explore your collection. This is how I find inspiration from my collection. This is like being an explorer or an archaeologist.

Want to explore more? Sign up here for my free 3 lesson Heart Your Yarn Collection ecourse. I will led you through this lesson and 2 others that will help you to sort out what you have collected and what additions will really make your collection sing. Four worksheets are included as well.  If you have questions, leave a comment here.

[Tweet “Free Ecourse Be a Color Explorer and fall in love with your yarn collection all over again!”]



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A Year of Stash Appreciation

A Year of Stash Appreciation

The theme of my blog this year is a celebration of your stash. I want you to get to know what is in your stash. I will also teach you about the types of fibers and what kinds of patterns and projects will match the yarn you have. You will find information about animal fibers, plant fibers, and fiber blends of all kinds. I will be writing about how to most effectively use your hand dyes and semi-solids.

Here is the first installment:

What Kind of Stasher Are You?

 

What kind of stasher are you? Whether you use yarn, fabric, beads or paper, your art requires supplies. How do you handle your stash?

  • Type 1—Do you only buy materials for your current project so you don’t have a stash or any UFO’s (unfinished objects)?

  • Type 2—Do you try to only buy for a current project but look forward to your next project while you’re working on your current one? So you have no stash to speak of and only 1 or 2 UFO’s.

  • Type 3—Do you only buy materials for current and future projects? You like to get the supplies and pattern together then you know you have everything for the pattern. You have a small to medium stash, some UFO’s.  All your materials are matched with a pattern for easy access to the next project

  • Type 4—Do you buy the materials you like and don’t worry about which pattern it will go with? You know that eventually a project will emerge for the supplies.  You have a medium to large stash and some UFO’s that you work on industriously to complete.

  • Type 5— Do you buy anything and everything that calls to you? The yarn or cloth speaks to you and you listen.  You have a large stash that you sometimes feel guilty about. But you also get a lot of creative satisfaction when you visit and pet your yarns, beads, and textiles.

 

I am a Type 4. I do have a medium stash of beads, quilting fabric AND yarn.  I try to just buy for projects but I also buy materials that call my name.  Since I’ve founded Flying Goat Farm, I have not bought ANY quilting fabric.  I haven’t sewn either.  I do hope to get back into my sewing room soon and finish one or two of the 8 unfinished quilting projects.  OK….maybe now that I think about it I’m a Type 5!

Leave a comment here or on Facebook to tell me what stash you collect and what type of stasher you are!!

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Purple Munsell Exercises

This is the last of my exercises in the Munsell Color book. I have learned a lot doing these exercises. Probably more importantly is that these exercises have trained my color “eye”.  There were three exercises, “purple”, “red-purple”, and “blue purple”.   You can see from these photos that there are various concentrations of red and blue in these 3 color exercises.   Here is what I started with today.

 

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Next,I sorted out the most gray of the chips. These belong on the value scale. Next I matched the color chips to the saturation of the gray chip.  Unfortunately, I’m missing one chip….I did look and look, but it vanished….

5rp

5p

 

 

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Green Color Exercises

 

green munsell1

It’s been awhile since I pulled out my Munsell Student Color Book.  There is a green exercise though.  So I pulled apart my color chips and pulled out the mounting paper.  I have to tell you that I was rusty. I found that when doing these exercises it is easier to compare one or two chips. Does this one have more gray or more pure hue.  Then I can place them in the correct place.

green munsell 2

 

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5 YR Munsell Color Exercise

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Here are all the color chips. This photo does not do justice to the colors. It is a dark dreary day and it’s hard to get a good photo.
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Here are the chips all in their proper place. As you can see I’m missing one piece. But the kit only says there will be 24 chips and that’s what I have….

The red-yellow cards have so many brown or so called “neutrals” in them. The darker shades of red-yellow go immediately into the brown territory. Mahagony, tan, beige, leathers, tobacco. Also most skin tones are in the red-yellow family.

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Color–Part 3 VALUE

No doubt! Value is the hardest color dimension to talk about. I have found that seeing the value of color is a learned skill. It is hard to differentiate and so it is very frustrating.  Value is the lightness or darkness of the color, it is also is a measure of color purity and saturation.  Here is the gray scale that is used to help determine the value of a hue. While it is relatively easy to see the differences in value between white, gray and black, it is not so easy to see the value of colors. The color itself skews our perception of the value. Some hues like yellow are more likely to be at the top end of the scale, while purple is more likely to be at the darker end of the scale.

 

 

The human eye can see about 5 steps of this scale. The “pure” white, “pure” black, neutral gray and a step between those 3 values. In the real world, there are many more nuances of value. When I was learning about value, one strategy that helped was to squint or partially closed your eyes and look at the yarn, fabric, or photo and the value would be easier to see. The squinting reduces the number of color sensitive cells (cones) that are activated, while the cells that perceive light (rods) are still activated. Try this with a favorite photograph and see if you can differentiate among the values in that photograph.

There are a couple of “tricks” that we can use today.  One is the computer.  You can take a photo and change it to a black and white photo.  Also you can use red or green plastic ……to see the value differences.

 

 

If you are intrigued and would like to learn more, register for my color class on September 6th at 1pm.  Go to the fiber class page to register.  We will be doing lots of experiments to train our eyes to be better color detectors.

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Color Exercise–Red

red

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Here are all the color chips in the exercise
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I start the exercise by finding all the chips that are “shades”. That means that they have varying amounts of grey mixed with the color. I line these up from lightest to darkest
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Then I begin to match the value of the chips on the left and put those in order from least amount of red to most amount of red. Do you see my mistake? I couldn’t figure out where that one chip went….until….
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I checked the pure hue from the first color wheel exercise. I was able to see that I had the wrong chip in the 5R space and I could move the one pesky chip into the correct spot. I am getting better at seeing the differences in the chips. In order to get better at seeing color, you have to train your eyes.