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Blog about Blanks

At
first glance it is not intuitively obvious why one would paint a piece of
knitted fabric (also called a blank) and then unravel it to knit a new garment.
But upon closer inspection, there are many unique and intriguing color effects that
can be achieved with this method. Think gradients all in one skein!

There
has been resurgence in the knitting market of hand dyed sock blanks. My first
experience with sock blanks was when Nancy Roberts taught a class at SOAR in 2001 in Park City, Utah.  First we
knit the blanks on a knitting machine. Next, we painted the blanks. Once the
blanks were dry, we unraveled the blanks and used the yarn to knit socks. The
real magic happens when you see the color movement on both socks are perfectly
paired to each other. It was great fun and a new avenue to creatively
experiment with color! The only drawback was that using the knitting machine was
labor intensive.

Fast
forward 15-ish years, and now commercially produced sock blanks are available! Independent
dyers are applying their unique dye techniques and colorways on these fun
products.

Encouraged
by several of our customers we looked into producing a sock blank out of our
most popular sock yarn (Willamette)
and have them knit in the USA for a 100%
USA product.

We
received 2 different knit samples. Each blank was 4 oz and approximately 435
yards per blank. I decided to take the samples for a test run to figure out
which product would be best for our customers.

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Sample
#1 

These blanks were a continuous knit with waste yarn knit between the
blanks. I cut along the waste yarn and
painted the blank with large horizontal stripes. I was not trying to have the 2
socks match. If you do want matching socks, you will need to fold the blank in
half and mark the center at the fold and paint them the same color sequence and
size.

image

The
knit on this sample was tighter than I would have liked to see but I still hand
painted only one side of the blank in the interest of time in consideration of
production dyeing. Because of the tight knit, there were lighter spots on the
yarn where the dye did not penetrate.

image

Another
time aspect to consider with sample #1 is that I had to spend time picking out
the waste yarn before I could cast on my stitches. Once I cast on, I enjoyed
knitting this right from the blank and it becomes addictive to watch the color
transitions as they appear on the sock.

Sample
#2

image

This
sample was a single sock blank without any stitching to keep the ends from
unraveling. No need to take time to cut the blanks. The knit was much looser
than the first sample and it laid out nicely on the dye table with minimal
curling edges.

image

I
decided to paint the striped vertically on this sample and again I only painted
one side. Because this sample did not have the waste yarn, I wanted to make
sure that the blank did not unravel during the dye process. In the photo above
you can see that very little of the yarn unraveled. Success!

image

Once
the blank was dry, I started casting on with the loose end. No need to pick out
the waste yarn. Time saver! I also did not find any white spots – no need to
paint both sides. Time saver times 2!

Hands down, sample #2 was
the best choice for production dyers. We are so excited that we are officially stocking Willamette yarn blanks! These blanks come in a pack of 10. Each
blank is 4 oz and approximately 435 yards per blank. We can’t wait to see the photos of the beautiful colors created by our independent dyers with this product!