bernat diamond sock pak

we’re back from our mini-vacation, and although i’m not full functioning yet, i have something i needed to show you all right away.

bernat diamond sock pak
reads: Bernat diamond sock pak in wonderful meadowspun yarn
smaller print: the easiest, most popular pattern of all… in the short length men like

google-ing brought up nothing except maybe some of these on ebay at one point or another.  i found this historical gem in a lovely little antique store in clarion, pa.  they sold it to me for a dollar.  i think they were happy that the right person found it :) i was ecstatic.

bernat diamond sock pak

Anne L Macdonald, in No Idle Hands says that in the 50’s, “Argylers were still in full cry, elaborating on the ‘traditional’ Scottish patterns by knitting diamonds within diamonds and combining diamonds with plaids and stripes. Argyles were so popular for high school cheerleaders that the going rate was $20 a pair for handknit ones.” that quote totally reminds me of my interview with Sue and her answer to how she stared knitting… i must remember to ask her if they were argyles…

bernat diamond sock pak
reads on both sides: 12 DIFFERENT COLOR COMBINATIONS TO CHOOSE FROM – see other side…
this side: This pak contains 2 1/8 ounces of yarn… sufficient to make one pair of short length diamond pattern men’s or boys’ socks in any size up to and including size 12. Easy-to-knit instructions inside.
the other side: This is meadowspun… the yarn with the cashmere-like feel… 50% virgin wool for softness and warmth… 50% Dupont Nylon for lasting strength and easy washability… anti-shrink, anti-stretch.

in her chapter on the 1950’s, Macdonald mentions just such kits as these. i wonder if the kits continued to exist after the craze was over? i have at least one sock booklet from the late 60s or early 70s with argyles in it… but did the kits still exist?  i know they weren’t as wildly popular as the 40s and 50s.  anyone?

bernat diamond sock pak

if this kit does happen to date back to the 1950’s, this next quote from Anne L. Macdonald is apt.  the yarn inside is 50% wool/50% dupont nylon. (click here for more history of nylon).

“Argyle-knitting teenagers were humored by one authoress’s jaunty introduction: ‘You all know what I’m doing!  Knitting.  And I love it… knitting all the time.  Right now I’m turning the heel of a pair of argyles-they’re gray, red and navy.  I’m sure he’ll like these…. Socks, socks and more socks!  He just can’t get enough of them.  Socks prove that a little goes a long way.  Probably he clings to the precious wool, but maybe he’s taken up nylon, and if that’s his liking, nylon’s your meat.  It’s a great advertisement, too, with socks so easy to carry around, and knit.’

She never clarified what was being advertise, but with nylon as the ‘meat,’ someone’s trap was baited!”

in the 1940’s, nylon was only used for re-inforceing by most.  by the time of these, it was better respected and not only did it make it into the yarn, but ended up being 50% of it!!  this kit is, of course, never to be knit – but is destined to ride out its time as a precious piece of knitting history.

thrifty, gifty

ben and i took katie to the airport today and went by the red, white and blue thrift store on our way back. i found some super good finds.

two bags of buttons are at the top of my list!! woot!!

and some on cards

plus the craziness of finding ROVING at the thrift store!! happened once before even.
sheepstone natural fibers from darlington, pa. one whole pound of the ugly tweed – i plan to dye it – and less of the nice brown.

i also found some sweaters for ripping, although they’re not so exciting for me to take a pic of them. while katie was here, we also hit a thrift store where i found, 8 skeins of this yarn
it’s more green and less blue, but lovely and heathered. Reynolds Versailles – 90% virgin wool and 10% vinyon

what’s vinyon? wikipedia to the rescue. i think the use of vinyon makes this yarn quite old. i was super happy to find this because, frankly, i very rarely find yarn at the thrift stores here.

as for gifted, a sheep mug.
handmade in ireland. ben’s been drinking coffee out of it. one of the monks at the monastery where ben plays the organ found it in the monastery kitchen and thought i needed it. cute cute.

and lastly, i got a set of dressers from my friend maggie’s aunt with this on it

very exciting. i’m thinking it must have been the logo of a furniture maker at some point. i saw it a week after i got this dresser on a mirror at our local building recycling place – construction junction.

time to go sort some buttons!  hurrah!  look for dyeing soon, the roomies are on vacation.

big plans for chickens

you would think with this blogging nearly every day thing, that i wouldn’t have fibery things happen that i just never get around to telling you, but it’s true. first, and most recent, i did manage to knit in public on saturday. ben and i went to a cafe around the corner and whilst i sipped a chai, i worked on the february lady sweater (ravelry link). what can i say? i apparently want to be flint knits when i grow up since my first and second sweaters were both inspired by her version of said sweaters (she actually wrote this one). if this one turns out nearly as good as the last, i may never make a sweater that she hasn’t made again ;)

american eagle outfitters

if you remember, ben went to germany/austria on a trip with his department at school… and what did he bring me home?

thrifted and gifted

yup. yarn, but not just yarn, yarn from a thrift store :) he said that he chose this one because it made him think of handspun. we are quite the pair.

a while before that i did a swap with the lovely helen of stripy sock studio.

she sent numerous fabulous and fun things
including this woolie and buttony pin which immediately went on one of my favorite bags


this beautiful doll that she made using recycled sweaters, who i have named bianca


and this super super cool old ball winder



which you can apparently get in rhodesia and west germany… if only they still existed! drat!

well, there’s my one swap for the year :)

i’ve also inherited some buttons lately…
quite a while ago when a very sweet person on ravelry sent me this note:

[I was reading you blog and…] I saw you really love buttons so I though I could send you some of mine. I received some in my childhood, others came from the shop (mercerie? I don’t know the exact word in English) my grand grand parents owned.
I never did anything with them…

…I just find it a bit sad that those buttons live in a box for so many years. Maybe you could give them a second chance :)

and then lynne sent me some shortly after our may market experience. thanks to both of you!


the chicken and the polka dot ones came from belgium and the rest from lynne. unfortunately i waited so long to take this photo that the other belgium ones got mixed in with some of mine :/

but i must say, i have BIG plans for those chickens!!

have a great monday!


put some wool to dye in the crockpot, start cleaning the yarn room and get completely distracted… by this.

circular knitting needle holder

my new circular needle holder. it’s a great replacement for this one, which i’ve now freed up to a new, more productive life not relegated to the yarn room. if you remember my adventures in felting, you’ll recognize parts of this. i had two fronts of a white cardigan that could not be ripped to recycle the yarn, so first i used them to exhaust a dye bath. then, months later i decided to felt them so that they’d be in a useful state.

circular knitting needle holder

one exacto knife, sliced finger, leftover handspun, two needles, a HUGE knitting needle i never use and some strong yarn to tack down the back later – we’re in business. i even put a couple of tacks in the wall so that i could hang it already. no more circular needle messes for me!

circular knitting needle holder

this project was so quick and satisfying… although i suppose you could say it took me a few months to complete it. i think my favorite things about it is the asymmetry and the wobbly edges. in case you’re curious, the pocket is still fully functioning, just in case i needed it later ;) plus it adds to the wobbly feel and i like.

boring, but pretty :)

wow. am i ever boring when i’m working like crazy. here are some more exhausted dye bath yarns. my friend gwen commented on the last post of this sort that she never has any dye left in her water – that’s because she doesn’t put enough dye in…. er… i put too much dye in. i dye by the seat of my pants :D

truth be told, unless you have lots of extra yarn to throw in to exhaust the dye bath, you probably don’t want dye left in that water.

these yarns were once a pink american eagle outfitters sweater. they’re lambswool, very nice, and kind of tweedy. some turned out better than others. ben thinks the one in the back is gross, but it’s growing on me. love the red.

american eagle outfitters

the water that i have left over when dyeing is generally from the turquoise or magenta colored dye, as can be witnessed by these two photos. most of my dye bath exhaustions are variations on blue and pink for that reason.

my favorite this time is the second from the right in the blue category. it was dyed after the dye bath was pretty well exhausted and is a variation on crock pot dyeing i hadn’t done before. i’ll have to play with it again next time.

p.s. while being sabbathy yesterday i finished the second half of the front of my drops cardigan. two sleeves to go! now it’s time to go spin… another sunny day may call for some afternoon porch spinning again. expect handspun yarn soon.

p.p.s. don’t forget about the spring pattern sale! it’s going on for about one more week.

exhausted dye baths

after effects of dyeing roving :)

the super squishy merino from here (i did keep some white and i do have some to dye brighter)

exhausting dye baths

a skein of wool (probably green mountain spinnery) from flo and some local farm wool

exhausting dye baths

the rest of the beloved recycled shetland sweater

exhausting dye baths

and a new sweater i’ve been frogging

exhausting dye baths

just a few notes in case you’re interested. exhausting a dye bath is making sure that all of the dye is used up before i put it down the drain. you never know what will effect the earth and water supply and i’d much rather use it as dye anyhow. this also fills a gap in the stash. i generally don’t like the selection of pastels at yarn stores, and i’m unlikely to buy a single pastel skein unless i really think i need it right then. but, they are necessary to my color palette and i never get as good of pastels trying to dye them as i do when exhausting dye baths. it all works out quite nicely :) i especially love the yellows this time – very springy – and likely to be made into mitts shortly.


first of all, thanks so much for your opinions on the hat! they were very helpful. i think i may try the border, then if i don’t like it rip it. i’m assuming in doing this that the asymmetry will still be bold enough (blue compared to orange).

on the line

one morning this week, i finally decided to try felting the stack of stuff i had piled in the yarn room. so into the washer on hot with a bit of soap went 3 moth eaten cashmere sweaters that a kind woman dropped at my doorstep last week, two fronts to a cardigan (the rest of which was ripped for yarn recycling, but these didn’t work – i also used them to exhaust a dye bath), and one little knitted swatch for my friend peggy (not shown).

overall, it went well. these were the fastest to felt and left lots of blue bits on everything else (witness the cashmere sweaters below). they were easily done in one wash cycle.
really felted

the three cashmere sweaters were a bit different. the red one might not have felted at all (superwash cashmere?), the tan one felted up like crazy and i didn’t take it out so it felted more and more, and the black one needed the two wash cycles, as did peggy’s felted sample.

felted cashmere

as someone who has never felted before, it was really interesting to watch everything felt at a different rate. so, what do i plan to do with these? i think the cashmere that felted may be cut into pieces to stitch at the forehead sections if people find hats itchy. the blue pocket cardi fronts i’m pondering some sort of wall hanging to hold my circular needles for one of them. the red cashmere sweater? i’m not sure. anyone have a use for it?

shetland wool

ben and i stopped by our favorite thrift store monday night and i found a lovely shetland wool sweater (J Crew and cabled, size small). i like that shetland looks so much different than other wools – but the uniqueness of the wool yarn really shows up in this one because of the weight. monday night, when i could bring myself to do nothing else, i ripped it and now have 6 lovely skeins of worstedish shetland to dye.

recycled worsted weight shetland

here it is straightened and in close

up close

why is shetland so different?

it is a down-type wool (as opposed to a fine wool like merino or a long wool like blue faced leister). popular, i think, partially because it is one of the softer down-type wools and because it has such an amazing history of being used in knitting. it’s unusual that we know or find things that are so deeply historical and rooted in this day and age. i am always amazed when i find any sort of garment that specifies the kind of sheep wool it is made out of. that goes to show you how respected shetland wool is. in the book In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool, Nola and Jane Fournier describe it as such:

“Shetland has the finest wool among the British breeds, with a silky but slightly crisp hand. The staples are indistinct with tapered tips; the entire fleece is somewhat open. The wool doesn’t have a noticeable luster and the well-developed crimp gives it a light, airy feel.”

Shetlands are also well known for their rich variety of natural colors, as you can see if you click on the link to dancing heart farm below.

most of the shetland sweaters that i buy to recycle yield yarn of the weight pictured below, but even here you can see the incredible loftiness of this wool.

recycled shetland

i also spun a little shetland at spinning group weekend before last. the sheepy’s name is meghan (she resides at dancing heart farm) and her fleece is lovely. it’s very nice of her to share it with me ;)  i used my drop spindle.  click on that link if you’d like to see what shetlands look like.  baaaaa. here’s the center pull.


i have a theory that shetland exists mostly in thin form because that’s the easiest way to make an even yarn with it. also, it may have to do with the history of how shetland has been used in colorwork and shawls – both requiring a fine yarn. however, i was tickled pink (a phrase my mom would use) to see the wool in thicker form in this sweater because it shows off the unique characteristics a lot better to the naked eye. i do like different textures :) and this new thrifted wool is very different than doubling the thinner stuff (which also gives a nice texture).

p.s. there was a whole flock of shetlands for sale on craigslist last week. how sad was i that i couldn’t buy them? it reads, “Gorgeous flock of Shetland sheep (8) all colors. Great for spinning and yarn work. Registered. Also have 3 Angora goats. $50 each. All must go. Downsizing. Very healthy, innoculated and well cared for.”

p.p.s. i can’t believe the ad’s still up!