Making Socks from Start to Finish
Our guest artist is Leonor from Felt Buddies who is sharing a special sock story and process.
Today I’m sharing with you some sock making, from the dye pot to the finished product.
A few months ago, I got a new tattoo from my husband’s co-worker Jim (if you’re guessing my other half tattoos for a living, you’re guessing right). In exchange for his work, Jim asked me to knit him a pair of socks – he’d seen me knit whilst in the studio and was fascinated by the concept of having a garment made especially for someone. I happily obliged!
Because I own my own fibre business, I have a lot of sock yarn available to dye at my pleasure. After talking to Jim about his colour preferences, I got to work. I loved that he asked me for three of my favourite things in socks:
- Mismatched colours with contrasting heels and toes;
- Bright colours (you can’t get brighter than magenta and purple!)
- Socks that glow under UV light.
I had some yarn I was keeping for a special occasion and this was the perfect time to use it. It’s a very soft alpaca/merino/nylon blend.
For some reason, at the time I thought it was a good idea to break down the yarn into four pieces – two for the main body, two for the heels and toes. I’ve no idea why I did this, since I was only using two colours, but hey. I simply weighed the skein and took out 15 grams for each foot to make the smaller parts.
I then soaked the fibre in some water and synthrapol in preparation for dyeing. Synthrapol is a wetting agent and helps the wool absorb more dye. It’s also excellent to rinse out fibres.
After the yarn was thoroughly wet, I made my dye stock using professional-grade acid dyes and to the pots I went.
After adding the colour to the water, I placed one little skein and one big one in the pot and let the fibre sit for a few minutes without any heat. Because this yarn isn’t treated to be superwash (non-felting), the dye takes longer to penetrate the fibre, so I wanted to give it some time to get to every bit of wool.
I then turned the heat on and once the water started simmering, let it be for about 10 minutes, turned it off and let the wool cool completely in the pot. This allows for the remaining dye to be soaked up, and also makes for a brighter finished colour work.
In order to turn my skein of yarn into a ball, I used an umbrella swift (pictured above, on the left) to hold the fibre whilst I pulled it onto a skein winder (above right) to make a neat ball. I have all the cool gadgets!
Once the yarn was dyed, washed, rinsed and dry, it was time for knitting. I had made an impression of Jim’s foot beforehand and used it as my template to make sure they’d fit. If you’re curious, this is a technique taught in a pattern called Fish Lips Kiss Heel that makes for fail-safe sock fitting (and heel-making). It’s available on Ravelry at a very low price and I highly recommend it.
And here’s the finished socks! I still had to weave in the ends in this picture, but I’m happy to report that’s been done since and I have presented this squishy pair to a very enthusiastic Jim.
Now, for a fun little extra: I asked for a photo of him wearing the socks for my social media. Be careful what you wish for! Jim took the picture, alright – he got down to his underwear and struck a hilarious sexy pose for me. If a bit of skin doesn’t offend you and you like a good laugh, hop on to my Instagram @feltbuddies and look for yourself. There’s a black and white photo with a disclaimer about the partial nudity, and after you swipe there’s Jim happily wearing my socks… J
Thanks Leonor! If you’d like to follow more of her fiber adventures, you can see her work here: https://www.feltbuddies.co.uk/