As featured in the current (Winter 2011) issue of KnittySpin magazine!!!
One of my favorite things to make for the shop is my self-striping batts. Because of my unrestrained nerdiness, I currently carry them in Harry Potter house colors (which conveniently coincide with several professional sports teams) in superwash blue-faced leicester, but hope to be branching out to other colors and fibers throughout the festival season this year.
I’ve played with these batts at length, and decided it was finally time to put together a tutorial on how to use them. I pulled out the camera, excitedly dusted off the spinning wheel, and got to work! This superwash BFL is wonderful for socks, so that is what I’m making. I used two one-ounce batts to make one sock.
Here is a self-striping batt in the Slytherin colorway – green and silver:
When unrolled, you can see there are two colors sitting side by side:
The first thing you need to decide is how long you want your stripes to be. I want lots of thinnish stripes of equal-ish width throughout my sock, so I divided each batt into eight (8) sections. Because I want them equal-ish, I started by dividing the batt in half:
I then divided each half into half again, and in half again, until I had this laid out in front of me:
To preserve the color changes and create the self-striping look, you want to spin all of one color and then all of the second color in each strip before moving to the next. You can do this in one of two ways (that I’ve figured out, anyway) – either by spinning from the fold, or by starting in one corner of the batt and working your way to the opposite corner. I prefer the latter method – I find it less finicky than spinning from the fold.
Now, seeing as how I’m an OCD-type A-perfectionist, I like to switch hooks on my bobbin every time I change colors. After I finish spinning all of the strips in both batts, I end up with a bobbin that looks like this:
The most obvious way to preserve the color changes is to knit with the single. However, I’m not a fan of singles, and certainly not for socks.
To create a 2-ply yarn, I would spin each batt onto a separate bobbin and then ply them together. You can work with the unevenness in length of color between each bobbin to create a barberpole effect, or you can preserve the color changes by matching up the colors as you go (e.g., if I run out of green on Bobbin A, I break the green on Bobbin B and unwind Bobbin B until I find where the grey starts, and rejoin to continue plying in grey from each bobbin.)
However, for socks, I prefer a 3-ply yarn so I navajo-plied the single off one bobbin. This is my favorite way to ply in general. The finished product is 380 yards of 16wpi:
I chose a simple ribbed sock with a German heel and a French toe to show off the stripes I created. They’re not completely even, but it actually makes me love it more!