Another holiday gift for you - adjustable width socks

You will find these in my sidebar as Quilted Leaf Socks.

You can adjust the sock's width by adding more or less stitches in the ribbed sections between the lace patterns. Visually, we don't usually notice whether a rib is one or two stitches wide. It is easy to stuff a few more in or just go down to one stitch each. Yet, since these are done in light worsted weight, those stitches can add up to a better fit. Download the pattern and see for yourself.

Enjoy your holiday present from all of us at fiberhouse.

And for those of you who are counting, fiberguy's socks are done and drying - more on them tomorrow.


Electric Ball Winder Repair Tutorial

Warning - this is a photo heavy tutorial on how to fix your broken electric ball winder.

Have one of these? Does it perform poorly or not at all? Chances are very good that the fix is simple. The original drive bands tend to crack, stretch, fall off or just not have enough power.
OK, we will take it apart and fix this sucker. It is fast and easy. You will need some stretchy drive band [I got mine from Babe's Fiber Garden], a phillips head and flat head screwdriver, flame and scissors.

Lay your UNPLUGGED baby down on its side. [Note, I am wearing gloves only because I have a boo-boo. Also note that I keep my extra fuse taped to the top of my winder above the switch.]
Unscrew and remove the white cone.

Remove the clip with the tip of your flathead. Lift off the black geared unit from the shaft.

Remove the 4 corner screws but NOT the flat screw near the power cable.
Lift off the top gently. It will remain attached inside by 4 wires on clips. If these become detached during the fix, simply re-insert them onto the clips before you end.
Ah, here is the problem. The belt has slipped the track and is cracked at the join.

Cut a length of stretchy drive band just a tiny bit smaller than the current one. Heat both ends in a flame and press together until firmly attached. It pays to practice this move ahead of time with a small scrap of band. When you finally get a join that you like, trim it down with scissors or an exacto-type knife. I snip with scissors and gently reheat, then roll with gloved fingers. It doesn't have to be perfect, just not lumpy enough to jump the track.

I stretched it a little to get it back in the track.

OK, let's put this baby back together. Check your wire clips and put your cover back on. Screw in place. Now, on the bottom of the black plastic geared part, there is a tongue sticking out. As you slide it down onto the shaft, line the tongue up with the slot until it is fully seated.

Your teeth will engage the black center shaft. Make sure it is all the way down and then put in the clip with the tip of the screwdriver. Go ahead, give it a good shove.

Say, while you are down there, make sure you tighten this nut a bit to save you some trouble later. Put on the white cone hat and you are ready to go.

Now my electric ball winder ZOOMS. It was easy.

I thought it was the gears from the grinding I heard, but no, it was just the belt. The drive bands from Babe's Fiber Garden (of the PVC spinning wheel fame) were exactly the right size for this -- perfect fit. It took a week to get the drive band, and 5 minutes to fix. Man, I have been winding like mad since. Alpaca cloud, 440 yds, in less than 1.5 minutes with no touching. Oh, and while I was monkeying around, I did open the metal loop guide closest to the white cone. That way I can easy thread it instead of trying to get a thread in the hole - I just loop it.
I have to tell you, I hated this winder when I got it. It cost a fortune and had no power. I have bad hands and needed help winding. I wanted a working tool. Now I have something I am quite happy with and it really saves wear and tear on my hands, so I have more knitting, less winding. It does help to have organized skeins. I had to rewind one that had become slightly fulled during the dye process. So if you were wondering if you wanted to add this to your wish list, I recommend it highly. In fact, keep your eyes open on the auctions. I always see non-working models go for a song. I just bet that it is only the drive band holding these back. Now you, too, can fix it.


Holiday gifts for all my buddies

You know what? Mohair is hard to photograph. You know what else? These socks take about 6 hours for a pair by a moderate knitter. There is still time. You know what else? They are free. Here are my Superfast Socks.


First sock and no direction

What we have here is a first sock. Complete by fiberguy, toes and heels grafted. Second sock is up to row three to avoid the dreaded second sock syndrome. I am really proud of him.

I only wish I was doing that well. I have ripped out my shawl three times. Apparently I can't count OR read directions. I don't follow patterns often, usually glancing at them and use them as a general guideline. So when I actually try to follow directions, I can't seem to get it right. On page 111 of Knitting Around, I am told to cast on 20 and knit two rows (one ridge). Ok, got that. Then place markers at 2 and 19. Good so far. That would mean I have 18 sts between the markers, right -- or am I reading that wrong? Anyway, I YO on each side of the marked stitch every other row until I get 3 ridges, then YO, knit 1 across between the markers. It should be 18 + 2 + 2 (for each of the right side increase rows)=22 *2 (for each yo) = 44 between the markers. Ok, really off at this point. The pattern calls for 16 sts, increasing to 32. It only gets worse the further I go.

Now I don't really care about the garment as I am sure mine will turn out swell and be warm and wearable. But, clearly, I need help reading directions. I seem to be screwing up royally and just can't figure out where. I think I don't understand HOW to read directions anymore. If you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it. Or maybe it is just a match for me with these particular directions. Did any of you read this and get it right? Not the garment, but the count? Even if I moved the markers to 2 stitches in from the edge on each side, it would give me 16 for the first ridge, but 2 more on each of the next two ridges.

Brain bad. Brain no work.

At least my fingers know what to do. I needed Steeler socks BAD. So my perfect gold and some new black went into a toe-up mucking about with peerie patterns. This is not blocked at all. I just noodled around until it was long enough. I don't know if I will do the second one the same. It made me realize that no where in my stitch libraries do I have anything organized by stitch count. Most have row count. If you wanted to search for all the peerie patterns you have that would fit into 64, 32, 16, 8, 4 or 2, how would you search except to flip through. I don't think I know of any site that organized this way either. I know that I can look at Knitting Fool to get stitch counts for some lace and textured patterns. But is there a book out there that would give me a chapter of say 16 stitch repeat colorwork?

[Washed out color on my first sock.]


What was I thinking?

Complete denial. It will fit. Really. My heel is this pointy.

Thank goodness somebody's sock is going well. Fiberguy's blasting through his first pair of socks. He did the whole foot portion in one go. Afterthought heels are coming along well. Decreases, both left and right are all in line. I made a pair of socks out of the same yarn for him and frankly, it took longer. He is driven.

My birthday shawl has begun. The yarn is yummy baby alpaca and it was soothing during recent treatments. Nothing like 4 tries with an IV to make you grab your shawl. [Special note to Denny - I couldn't have done this last treatment without YOUR wonderful shawl. Thanks for wrapping me in love.] I think I will do the old fashioned all garter and not add lace. Sometimes garter is great.

Meanwhile, I had a ravelry thread going on what can you do with one ounce of really fine stuff? My answer for this one skein was the old feather and fan. I have only 1/2 oz but it was 290 yds. So that makes 9280 ypp, right? It was a lovely sample given to me by Rita Buchanan ages ago. Silk, cashmere, merino in Rose Quartz form Lambspun. Don't they have nice processing? It took two partial evenings to spin and will be much longer to knit. But the longer it gets, the more I want to keep it instead of my original idea of giving it away. Does that make me greedy? It is so soft and shiny and lovely and simple. And yes, my ballwinder for this project is electrical conduit. I cut a gazillion of these for a class I was teaching and they are so handy to have around. I prefer a pipe cutter instead of a saw since my edges remain nice and clean. Cheap smooth tools and soft shiny yarn. Can you tell I am having fun?

Any other suggestions for only an oz of fine stuff, usually laceweight or finer are gladly considered. I wind up with a lot of single oz skeins and am getting tired of multicolored lace shawls. I wish we could search on Ravelry by weight of finished item.


Birthday knitting and dye question

This year I am giving myself a birthday gift. A Pie Are Square shawl from Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmermann. And since I am Always Cold, I am doing it in Moss Heather Alpaca Cloud from Knitpicks. And for that extra luxury and warmth, I am double stranding it. Even though my birthday is only weeks away, I will be knitting it for a long time and in my favorite color. Just the joy of that soft yarn running through my hands for some time to come is a great gift indeed. I feel so spoiled.

In addition, since there are always multiple projects going on here, we have some Steeler socks for a little extra support for the Black and Gold. I am woefully low in Steeler footwear, but alas, these are for fiberguy. Two mosaics with some strange bits between in a handspun sockweight superwash Merino from the Black Lamb. Very thick. My own Steeler socks come next and I am spinning the gold right now.

My current socks are green and just noodling around with a travelling rib. We dyed this last spring.

And last, for all you dyers out there, a conundrum. I have this color, which I don’t like.

It is DK weight, cabled wool yarn. I would love to hear from anyone, or everyone, about how to overdye this. I mean, what color to use. I know I can go navy, or black. But any other colors you suggest could really help me. I have a couple of pounds of it for a sweater and I just don’t think I can live through the experience in a color I hate, even with a yarn I love. I favor greens but this has a serious teal going on. Anyone ever overdye this color before? As it is winter and I dye outside, I really don’t want to be out there freezing doing dye sampling, so I am trying to save some steps and ask for help. For once.