Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Summer School - Wednesday - Painting blanks

After yesterday's busy day, today was a gentle, fun morning painting knitted sock blanks. If you haven't tried this technique before it is delightfully simple and you get amazing results. Here it is in a nutshell:

First, you will need a "blank". This is essentially a piece of machine knitted fabric. A friend machine knits long pieces of fabric for me using two strands of superwash merino/nylon sock weight (4ply ) yarn. They are finished off with waste yarn which stops the blank unravelling until you are ready to knit. (See below for ordering info.).

Soak your blank in water with some citric acid (25g acid per 100g blank) or white vinegar (100ml per 100g blank), and a spot of washing up liquid.

When it is good and wet, squeeze it out thoroughly (I spin dry mine) and lay it on clingfilm with a layer of towel/kitchen paper underneath to stop the dye slooshing around too much.

Paint the blank with your dyes - we were using my procion mx fibre reactive dyes.

When you've finished painting, lay on another layer of kitchen paper, wrap the blank up in the clingfilm like a swiss roll and microwave (or steam) until piping hot.

Let it cool, unwrap, rinse and dry - voila - your blank is ready.

To knit with you simply unravel the waste yarn until you reach the "live" knitting and you can then either:
  • Knit direct from the blank and wind the second strand into a ball as you go or,
  • Unwind both strands into balls then knit or,
  • Wind off the strands onto a niddy-noddy or swift, steam/wash the skein/s and hang to dry with a little tension. This approach evens out the kinks in the yarn.

The group produced so many lovely examples I couldn't fit them all on the blog so here are just a couple, with the rest in the album

Oops, nearly forgot to mention - all the blanks sold out at Summer School but new stocks are coming in later this month. I already have a list of advance orders so if you would like to order they are £8.50 each for 100g blank of 75% superwash merino/25% nylon. They are knitted double-stranded which makes them perfect for a matching pair of socks and if you're a "two-at-a-time" knitter you can even knit them both at once!

Pre-orders and newsletter subscribers will get firsties on the new stock, so sign up for the newsletter if you haven't done so already : )


Jean said...

They look very nice but I don't understand the point of them. Why not just dye a skein of wool? I must be missing something here!

Debbie said...

Dyeing a knitted fabric then re-knitting creates different effects to dyeing a skein. It's an easy way to achieve beautiful gradations of colour without making enormous long skeins. It's also a simple way of dyeing a knitted item with a non-repeating colour pattern. Dyed skeins always have repeating colours, but blanks can be painted so as not to repeat by just painting in stripes. (It's also great fun!)

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