Sunday, October 30, 2011
Tutorial: Soap Socks
I was at home waiting for news from my sister, Eithne Gingerbread, who was supposed to deliver unto the world a new baby today. The child has Eithne's sense of punctuality and thus took a good fortnight to appear on the scene, but finally did so in a whirl of drama this afternoon. Mother and child are doing well, hurray.
While baby Hannah was adjusting to the world, I was trying to get some odds and ends finished. So I'm going to do a series of little blog postettes about my craft fair endeavours. Most of what I'll show you in these posts will end up being donated to a Christmas bazaar in aid of the local children's clinic - as a result, they're quick and economical to make and rely heavily on a certain cuteness factor as a sales technique. Brace yourselves, crafters. Here we go!
The idea behind these is that, as the soap shrinks with use, the wool felts through rubbing and the use of hot and cold water. I had loads of these finished, but everyone who has seen them so far has bought one or two off me - which is a good sign, but honestly I have to stockpile a little before Advent starts. They look cute. They smell nice. They're cheap to make (I buy the soap at Aldi - no one sees it because it's sewn into the soap). And even a novice knitter like me can make them.
felting wool (I can make 4 or 5 socks from one 50g skein)
and a set of DPNs/straight knitting needles.
(I used a size 5 mm.)
Cast on 20 stitches. Divide over four needles, or knit flat.
Row 1: plain
Row 2: purl (If you're knitting flat)
Repeat in stockinette stitch till you have a little tube the length of a bar of soap. Sew up the bottom opening. (If knitted flat, sew up the bottom and side.)
Cast on 10/11 stitches on your trusty DPNs.
Row 1: Plain
Row 2: Kfb (knit front and back so you have double the amount of stitches that you started the row with)
Knit until the sock is *nearly* long enough to fit the soap, then
K2tog (knit two together) for one round, so you have 10 or 11 stitches again.
Cast off. Sew up the bottom opening.
(Wowzers. Knitting patterns are so simple to write, eh?)
Add a label.
Voilà - or as we say in cyberspace: Waalah!
Here's a copy of a sample label as a Microsoft Word document here.
But does it work, Gingerbread Lady?
Well, here's the tricky part. Whether the soap sock actually works depends on a number of things. I've found that some soaps are too soft, they turn to mush straight away. Others are too hard to get up a good lather. In order to felt, the yarn needs friction, so the user has to be prepared to scrub hard to felt it! When I give these as gifts, I always say that they're best kept in a drawer among your underthings or linen: they make excellent scent sachets. The wool holds the scent for a long time and the soap normally has a very delicate scent.