How to Rescue Bleeding Yarn

How to Rescue Bleeding Yarn: What to do when your indie dyed yarn is bleeding

Late last year I participated in #getyouryarnwishesgranted on Instagram. I wished for a skein of something indie dyed and within minutes I had two perfect strangers offer to send me some yarn. I love the fiber community! One of the skeins even fit perfectly into my favorite colorways, turquoise and lime. It was love at first sight.

Then I started knitting a gauge swatch and my hands turned blue. I was heartbroken. I hid the yarn at the bottom of my stash for nearly 6 months. It was so pretty that I couldn't throw it away, but I didn't want to use it for fear it would lose all its color as soon as I washed it.

Luckily, there is a great LYS, Grandma's Spinning Wheel, on our side of town. Vicky, the owner, talked me through the process of how to save my yarn. I set to work as soon as I got home.

My yarn was already wound into a ball, so the first step was to skein it to maximize the surface area of the yarn. I'm not a dyer, so I don't have a fancy tool to do this. Instead, I taped the end of the yarn to the top of a dining room chair.
Then I wound the yarn around the chair back and when I was done I used a couple thick pieces of string to secure both yarn tails and hold the skein together.
As you can see, after doing this, my fingers were blue.
My skein looked pretty good, though.
Next I soaked the yarn in a mixture of very hot (almost boiling) water and white vinegar until the water cooled completely.

I was a little worried when I lifted the yarn out because the water was still crystal clear.
I gave the yarn a good rinse with cool water.
After rinsing I used a towel to blot out as much moisture as possible.
Then the skein sat overnight on my sweater drying rack.
Once it was completely dry I wound it back into a ball.

Even though I have a yarn ball winder, I don't have a swift, so I resorted to another low-tech solution. I draped the skein over my studio trash can to keep the yarn from tangling as I wound.
And finally the true test. I knit up a swatch and this time my fingers weren't blue. Now I can happily knit up my next favorite pair of socks.

How to Rescue Bleeding Yarn: What to do when your indie dyed yarn is bleeding

So thank you Vicky for your advice and helping me rescue my bleeding skein of yarn!




Knitting a No Gap Afterthought Heel

How to avoid unsightly gaps when knitting an afterthought sock heel.

In my last post I showed you how to mark and pick up the stitches for an afterthought sock heel. Today, let's look at how to actually knit the heel so it's neat and tidy with no ugly gaps.

When we left off, you had just removed the piece of waste yarn that marked your heel placement and things looked like this.
The first thing you need to do is divide your stitches.

For my example, I am working my heel around 40 sts. I leave 20 sts on one dpn and divide the remaining 20 sts evenly across two dpns. If you prefer, you can divide your sts evenly across 4 needles or even use the magic loop method.
Usually your pattern will tell you where to join your yarn. For my example, I am going to join between the two 10-stitch needles.

Knit to the first gap. You'll notice the gap is kind of wide. Picking up two stitches in the gap closes that space.

To pick up the first stitch, look at the 'V' stitch two rounds below and one stitch to the left of the stitch you just worked into.
Pick up the right leg of the 'V'
Next, look at the strand exiting the stitch you just worked into and pick it up.
Knit those two lifted strands together.
Instead of 10 stitches on my right needle, there are 11.
Now you need to pick up a stitch on the other side of the gap.

Look at the 'V' stitch two rounds below and one stitch to the right of the next stitch.
Lift the left leg of the 'V'.
Now lift the strand that enters the next stitch.
Lift both strands onto the left needle and knit them together.
Pull the stitch snugly and then continue knitting to the next gap.
 Again, we need to pick up two stitches in the gap.

Look at the 'V' shape stitch two rounds below and one to the left of the stitch you just knit into.
Pick up the right leg of the 'V'
Then look for the strand exiting the stitch you just knit into. (This one can be a little tricky.) Lift the strand.
Knit the two strands together.
Just one more stitch to pick up.

Look at the 'V' shaped stitch two rounds below and one stitch to the right of the next stitch.
Lift up the left leg of the 'V'.
Lift up the strand leading into the next stitch.
Lift both strands onto the left needle and knit them together.
Pull the stitch snugly then knit to the beginning of the heel.
After picking up two stitches on each side of the heel I have 22 sts on one needle and 11 stitches on each of the other needles.
Now that everything is set up, it's time to put a little thought into our afterthought heel.

When you are shaping an afterthought heel you typically use paired decreases. This simply means you decrease two stitches on each side of the heel.

There are a variety of styles of paired decreases that you can choose from. Today let's use a banded, paired decrease.

Knit to 3 stitches before the gap. Knit 2 stitches together and then knit the last stitch.
On the next needle, knit one stitch, slip two stitches individually knitwise then knit them together.
Knit to the last three stitches before the gap.

Knit two stitches together then knit the next stitch.
On the last needle, knit one stitch, slip two stitches individually knitwise then knit them together.
Knit to the beginning of the round.

Knit one round without decreases.
For a longer heel, make paired decreases every other round for the desired length.

I prefer to work the paired decreases every other round until half of my stitches remain and then work the paired decreases every round until 8-12 stitches remain.

Finally, use the Kitchener Stitch to join the bottom of the heel.

Here's both the left and right sides of my afterthought heel.

Sock knitting tutorial: How to knit the perfect afterthought heel

Happy sock knitting!




Start Knitting an Afterthought Sock Heel

Marking the placement of an afterthought heel in knit socks.

A lot of experienced knitters tell me they are intimidated by sock knitting because of the heel, so over the next couple posts, I'd like to introduce you to the afterthought heel. If you can knit in the round, you can make this heel.

Afterthought sock heels are common in socks knit with self-striping yarn, because the striping pattern isn't interrupted across the instep (top of the foot) of the sock. Afterthought heels also work nicely when you want the heel of your knit sock to be a color that contrasts with the rest of your sock.

Afterthought heels can be used in socks knit from the toe up or from the leg down. I prefer to knit afterthought heels on dpns, but you could also use the magic loop method.

The basic idea of an afterthought heel is that you knit the entire sock, and then go back and insert the heel at the end. It sounds scary at first, but let me show you how simple it actually is.

If you are new to sock knitting, you will likely knit your sock from the leg down. Knit the entire leg of the sock.

Sock heels are typically worked over half of the stitches. My sample is 40 sts around. I placed the 20 sts for the heel onto a single needle for clarity.
Before knitting the foot of your sock, you need to mark where the heel will be inserted later.

With a piece of waste yarn that is the same weight as what you are using for your sock, simply knit across half of your sock stitches leaving the ends of the waste yarn on the right side of the sock.
Again, since my sample is 40 sts around, I knit across 20 sts with my waste yarn.
As the name of the method implies, there's no need to worry about heel shaping until after the rest of the sock is complete. Simply pick-up your main yarn and continue by knitting directly into the waste yarn stitches.
When you reach the end of the waste yarn stitches, just keep going with your sock pattern.
Since I am just focusing on the heel, I did not make an entire sock.

Also, I added two stripes of color to make identifying a few important stitches easier, especially for the second part of this lesson. I started my sample on the green stripe side, inserted a white piece of scrap yarn to mark the heel placement and finished my sample on the orange stripe side.

There's a reason that piece of white yarn is considered waste yarn. It needs to be removed from the sock, but before you do, you need to pick up the stitches on either side.

Starting on the side closest to where you started knitting (the green stripe side) look at the 'V' shaped stitches just below the waste yarn.

Working from right to left, pick up the right leg of the first 'V' under the waste yarn.
Pick up the right leg of the next 'V' under the waste yarn.
Continue across until you have picked up the same number of stitches that you worked with the waste yarn.

For my example I have 20 sts.
Next, you need to pick up the same number of stitches on the other side of the waste yarn.

Start by turning your work 180°.
Again, working from right to left, pick up the right leg of the first 'V' shaped stitch under the waste yarn.
Continue picking up the right leg of the 'V' stitches below the waste yarn all the way across.

Count and make sure you have the same number of stitches on both needles.
Now it's time to remove the waste yarn. You can start from either side of the heel.

Gently pull apart the needles to reveal the waste yarn.
Using a third dpn, carefully lift the first leg of waste yarn and pull it loose.
Work across the sock, pulling the waste yarn out one leg at a time.
Finally, the waste yarn will be completely removed and you will have a nice open space where that heel will be.
In my next post I'll show you how to knit the perfect, no gap, afterthough heel.