Monday, October 31, 2005
Friday, October 28, 2005
Gift Giving Friday VIII
DISCLAIMER: you should dye the yarn in a pot that you don't cook in because you don't know for sure how the yarn was or wasn't cleaned before it got to you.
You will need yarn (a protein fiber: wool, silk, alpaca - anything that comes from an animal. Cotton is not an animal), some Wilton's Icing Colors in the color(s) you plan to use, white vinegar, water, a small plastic container with a waterproof lid (optional), toothpicks, and a pot large enough for the yarn to move about freely.
Your yarn will need to be in a skein, rather than a ball. If its in a ball, wrap it around the back of a chair or a niddy noddy if you have one, then tie it in 3 or 4 places LOOSELY with a scrap of yarn to keep it intact while you dye it. If its already skeined, make sure the ties are loose enough that the dye can get to the yarn under the ties and you might want to add another tie or two depending on how many it already has. I am using the KnitPicks Dye Your Own in the sock/fingering weight.
Next you should put enough water into the pot so that it will cover the yarn. Add a couple of "glugs" of vinegar, then add a little more just to be sure. (Yes, this is a highly scientific and exact dying process) Set the pot aside for now.
Put some water into the plastic container*. With a toothpick, scoop out some of the Wilton's Icing Colors. I used Teal with a little bit of Juniper Green to darken and tone down the Teal. (If you are ever trying to dye yarn a camo color, use the Juniper Green - it is an olive green that breaks into brown spots) I wanted the Teal to be a little less blue and a little more green than it is straight out of the bottle, and I could have used Yellow for this, but I also wanted to tone down the color some so it was a little dusty and not as bright. The brown in the Juniper Green has some red in it, which is the complement of green, so it mutes the green a little. (This is where a color wheel or a book on color theory comes in handy) As you can see, I used a lot more Teal (on the left) than I did Juniper Green. Wipe the toothpicks off in the water and on the sides of the plastic container. Put the lid on the container and shake it until the Wilton's dissolves into the water.
Add the dye from the container into the pot of vinegar and water, stir a little. Toss the yarn into the pot and put the whole thing on the stove. You want to cook the pot at Low heat, keeping it just under a simmer. A simmer could cause felting, depending on your yarn, so keep it just a little cooler. Periodically move the yarn around the pot very carefully and gently to get the color spread througout the skein - stirring too much can cause felting.
Cook the pot of yarn until the water is clear (this means your dye is exhausted). If the yarn is too light or the color needs to be adjusted, add more dye. I added more dye, in the same proportions, one more time, to get the yarn as dark as I wanted. Once you're happy with the color of the yarn and the water is clear, cook an additional 30-45 minutes to set the color. Drain the water, let the yarn cool and wash it. TA DA! Hand dyed yarn for your knitting buddies!
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Gift Giving Friday is tomorrow, and while I know what I'm going to suggest tomorrow, I'm running out of ideas. If you guys have any ideas, please feel free to let me know!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
These are sleeves. Sleeves for Caleb's new blue sweater. He picked out the pattern (Woody from Debbie Bliss' Junior Knits book) and he picked out the yarn (Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes in Winter Night). This is the first time he's ever been this involved in a sweater and its so funny to watch him get excited about it. The sweater is a very simple stockinette pullover with two rows of garter stitch at the edges and neckline, and the sleeve seams are sewn on the right side. Otherwise, its just a basic dropped shoulder sweater. Its the kind of sweater that you don't really even need a pattern for, its so simple, but it looks like the kind of thing a boy would throw on just to be a boy. I could even see Mickael wear it, but the thought of knitting that much stockinette stitch makes me queasy. Maybe if I started one for him now, I could get through it by next Christmas. Of course then, I'd have to knit Caleb a new one too since he'll have grown out of this one.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I've got nothing
Today, I will do fibery stuff! I'm going to start a new sweater for Caleb. It will be a plain stockinette pullover in navy which will be great TV knitting. I'm also figuring out what to do with a bag of Jaeger Shetland Aran that I got from Janette's Rare Yarns back in February or March. If you haven't ever checked out her eBay store, you should. She has Rowan and Jaeger yarns (and some other brands too now that I can't remember) for good prices and even though she is in the UK, her shipping is very reasonable and quick. Anyway, I bought a whole bag of this yarn - 1800 yards or so - and its a gorgeous pale blue green color. I am kind of thinking about a ribbed raglan pullover with a mock turtleneck. I'm playing with the idea of using a varigated rib pattern (instead of K2, P2 I was thinking about K6, P2, K2, P2, repeat) just to make it a little more interesting. I'll have to use the Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns for a pattern because I don't know how to design a raglan sleeve. I know the shape should be triangular, but I just don't know how else to do it. That's pretty sad, that I'll do set in sleeves without batting an eye, but raglan sends me running in fear. Or, maybe I'll completely change my mind. I've got to do a gauge swatch and maybe it will tell me what it wants to be then. I'm off to toast some pumpkin seeds now.
Monday, October 24, 2005
This weekend I took a page out of my own blog and made a couple of Sophie bags. The red one is felted and the purple one is ready to be felted. I love knitting things to felt since they are so fast! I made a couple of changes to the pattern as it is written: I skipped the first decreases (there were only 4 decrease rounds in my bags) and I didn't twist the handles, I just made them as regular I-cord. I also added stripes just for fun and I'm very happy with the way they came out. It was a wonderful weekend of brainless knitting and now I'm ready to get back to some lace charts! (After I felt the purple bag of course!)
Friday, October 21, 2005
Gift Giving Friday VII
The gift idea for today is...Felted Bags! I have made several Felted Bags in the last couple of years and the ones I gave as gifts were definitely hits. If you've never tried felting before, basically you knit something on really huge needles and the something must be really huge itself. Then you put this huge knitted thing in the washing machine with hot water and soap and turn on the machine. What you end up with is a smaller item, that has become a dense, thick piece of felt. You have to knit the original piece in wool, or another natural fiber that will felt (no superwash wool here either) and I highly recommend that you put the knitted piece into a pillow protector before tossing it into the washing machine since felting also makes a lot of "wool rats" (linty furballs) that you don't want in your washing machine.
OK, so where to go for patterns: Mason-Dixon Knitting has the Buttonhole Bag. BlackSheep Bags has the BoogaBag. MagKnits did Sophie a while back. I found some fancy bags over at Elann. The French Market Bag at Knitty is also a cute one. For patterns to buy,Fiber Trends has written a bunch of patterns for felted bags. KnitKit has some wonderful patterns for felted bags. Also, books about felted knits almost always have a bag pattern in them. One of the really great things about making a felted bag is that they knit up really fast. They are nice gift ideas for almost last minute things (I say almost because it takes a little while to dry the bag once its felted) and of course you can make them in whatever color you want to. A felted bag could also be a wonderful way to wrap a gift. You could do a little iPod cozy (the new iPod Nano is so tiny you could make it a home in no time at all), a cell phone tote, or even a glasses case if you wanted to. Don't forget about little girls, most like to carry tiny purses just like their mom.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
See, I Really Am Spinning Too...
This is what I did last night. I finished spinning all six of my regular size bobbins with the Falkland singles I've been piddling around with since July or so. Then, I got to get out the plying bobbin and flyer. This thing is huge. They (Majacraft) say it will hold 12 ounces, but I've only gotten 9.5 ounces on it at once. I should have gotten a picture of it, just to show you how ginormous it is. Anyway, here is the first plied skein of the Falkland. It is 370 yards of two ply that I think will knit around a DK weight (5.5 stitches per inch). The color of the top is a very pale creamy grey, which didn't bother me since grey is one of my best colors. Once you get the yarn plied, you skein it and wash it to "set the twist." Well, when I dropped the skein in the sink, I was very surprised - the water turned brown! There was no lanolin still in the wool so I thought it was pretty clean, but apparently, there was a lot of dust or something, because after 4 rinses, I have a gorgeous, creamy white skein of yarn, with no grey to be found anywhere. I can't even begin to explain how happy I am with this yarn. The color is wonderful, the yarn is soft and bouncy and I can't wait to finish spinning all of the top so I can start knitting it up! I'm thinking about a lacy cardigan for this, but I'll have to see what the yarn says when I swatch with it.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
About the sleeves, I know that on set in sleeves you are technically supposed to sew the sleeve seams and the side seams before you set the sleeve into the body of the garment. I know this. I have done this, religiously, on every sweater I've ever done with set in sleeves, until the one I knit right before this (it wasn't blogged, for reasons that shall become clear at some point in the future). On the last sweater, I sewed the sleeves in before I did the underarm seams and that is the first sweater that the sleeves went in perfectly, smoothly, and IDENTICAL TO EACH OTHER. Every other set in sleeve I have ever done, I've gotten one sleeve in perfectly and the other one I fight with. I knit the sleeves together at the same time. (Two balls of yarn, the same needle.) They have identical shaping and identical gauge. I do the armscye shaping identically also. I keep obsessive notes about measurements and row number so the front and back are identical. If the sweater is a cardigan, I do both fronts at the same time, like the sleeves. There is no way, the sleeve caps and armscyes aren't identical, but I always fought with at least one sleeve (when you fight with both sleeves, that's probably a sign that you made a mistake knitting it, or unfortunately, the designer flubbed on the sleeve cap shaping and you need to redesign it - not fun, but necessary if you want the sweater to fit and look good). That is, I always fought with at least one sleeve, until my previous sweater. Now I designed that sweater, but I can't believe that I am such a wonderful designer that I designed the best fitting sleeve cap and armscye I've ever knitted. So, I figured I must be on to something with the whole sewing-things-together-in-the-wrong-order idea. So, I gave it a try on Gryffindor Mourning and guess what? IT WORKED! I will never sew a set in sleeve into a sweater the right way again.
(Wow, after re reading this post, I sound so Scarlett O'Hara in that last line.)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Loganberry Socks - Finished
I finished the Loganberry socks this weekend and I just LOVE the way they came out! The yarn fluffed up even more after I blocked them and they have a lovely haze of mohair about them. I have more of this yarn left over and I'm thinking about doing some fingerless mitts for myself out what's left. I should probably say, part of what's left. I originally had 9 ounces of yarn, spun from 9+ ounces of roving. The socks weigh just over 2 ounces, so I have around 6-1/2 ounces left. I figure mitts shouldn't weigh any more than socks - even if I make long cuffs, which I'm considering - so, any ideas on the remaining 4 ounces of yarn?
I did some "blogkeeping" yesterday, I cleaned up my sidebar and added a new link to patterns (yes there is only one pattern, but there are more on the way!), then Christine went through and fixed all the messes I had made while "fixing" things up. Yeah, Christine! So now everything looks really great and when you want to see the pattern, you can just click the link in the sidebar (go ahead, click it, it won't bite). I would also like to add a disclaimer to the picture for the pattern. Yes, that is Ramius the Alpaca Eating Cat sitting on a 100% alpaca stole, but no stole or cat was harmed in the making of the picture. You see, Ramius had been sitting in the sunshine for about 45 minutes and his brain was well baked. I pulled him out of the sun, and plopped him on the stole, got several pictures and just about the time he started realizing that he wasn't in the sun anymore, I took him off the stole. He has no recollection of any stole that he might or might not have sat upon.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
- All stitch patterns are charted
- 13 pages of directions, photos, and charts
- Directions for adjusting the size of the stole for your personal preference
- A new pattern for a scarf variation of Leda's Dream is included
- Stole uses approximately 1000 yards of laceweight yarn (shown in KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in Smoke)
Labels: Patterns for Sale
Friday, October 14, 2005
Gift Giving Friday VI
Most kids today think clothes grow on hangers. We know differently. Clothes grow on sheep, and bunnies, and llamas, and alpacas, and sometimes, if you're lucky, on tiny goats from Central Asia. The brainwashing, I mean education, should start as early as possible. I recommend the Sheep in a ... series of books (Sheep in a Jeep, Sheep in a Shop, etc.) by Nancy Shaw for babies and toddlers. The stories are adorable and there are pictures of knitting and other wooly activities in the books so that even the youngest child can learn that sheep are our friends and knitting is good. For preschoolers, I just got Caleb a new book: Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep by Teri Sloat. This is a wonderful story about wool, starting from the sheep being sheared and then following the wool through washing, carding, spinning, dying, and finally, being knitted. Pair this book with some short, wooden knitting needles and some wool yarn in the child's favorite color and you'll have a tiny knitter in no time.
For adults, there are a couple of different things you can do. You can do a knitting gift. Get some wooden knitting needles (I'm recommending wood needles for beginners because they feel good in your hands and they aren't as slippery as metal), some nice wool yarn, and a basic knitting book (I like the Vogue Knitting Quick Referance for a really thorough basic knitting book that's small enough to toss into a knitting bag.) Add some knitting notions (stitch markers, a tape measure, yarn needle and tiny scissors) and put the whole thing in a cute tote and you have knitting lessons-to-go! You can easily personalize the tote style to the recipient's taste and if you haven't checked out all the really cute tape measures avavilable, you should!
The other thing you can do for adults (and even older kids) is a spinning gift. For some reason, men are fascinated by spinning (I think its the fact that you use tools). For a spinning gift, get a nice, basic spindle - 1.5 to 2 ounces in weight and some roving (most people recommend Coopworth or Romney to start with). Interweave Press has some free spinning directions you can download from the Spin Off website. You could pick up a small niddy noddy for the gift as well, but most of us just start with a spindle and roving. Package these in a nice basket, or a leather box for a man (these are easy to pick up at home dec stores). Another option, to get a man's attention on spinning would be to give him all of the parts to make his own spindle. The Spin Off website also has free directions for making a spindle out of a CD. Give your guy the directions (I know, he doesn't need any stinking directions, blah, blah, blah), the parts, the wool and tell him to have at it! When you think about it, its not really all that hard to come up with ways to introduce others to our fibery ways. Not everyone will be receptive, but most kids will be interested and I'm sure you know at least one adult that can be brought over to the dark side, oops, I mean introduced to fiber arts.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Gryffindor - Still Mourning After All This Time
Yes, I'm still knitting on the front of this. I'm 5 rows short of starting armholes, so I really am on the home stretch here. Only 70 rows to binding off shoulders. Can you tell I'm playing number games with myself to try to keep going? This sweater seems to have fallen into a knitting vortex. When I started the front, in the navy color, it just seemed like I kept knitting and knitting and knitting and I wasn't getting anywhere. Last night I finally made some serious progress on it. I'm going to try to finish it this weekend. Maybe. Unless I get distracted. We'll see. You know I'm getting desperate when I wake up Ramius to get him to pose with something. (They've seen it 256 times in the last 2 weeks, maybe if I put the cat beside it, it will look fascinating and interesting. Yeah, that should work!)
By the way, Susan of the Comments yesterday? The bobbin in the picture is not a Fricke, its a Majacraft. My wheel is a Majacraft Rose, but she goes by Arwen socially. Just so you know. Thanks for asking.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
A Day of Spinning
I also worked a few more rows on Gryffindor Mourning, but I'm still in the navy section so I didn't see any point in boring you since you just saw it. It has started raining here again and its supposed to rain all week. No sunshine always makes the cat get upset. I expect him to start meowing at the sky any minute now. Poor little thing is just sure he's going to freeze to death - even though the house is the same temperature it always is. He has taken to sleeping in his Kitty Pi bed again. Nothing like a felted wool bed to take the chill off.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Gift Giving Friday V
Its that time of the week again. Time to give you gift ideas. Today's idea is a shawl or afghan. Now you could do a really complex work of knitterly art, or you could do a simple pattern and make it a prayer shawl/afghan. Basically the idea behind a prayer shawl/afghan, is that the knitting becomes almost a meditation with you putting a prayer, good wishes, and basically positive energy into the piece for the receiver. Its hard to think positive thoughts into stitches that you've frogged 5 times and you still can't get the pattern to line up and you're really thinking of chucking the whole thing across the room and buying a gift certificate. So in this case, a simple pattern is necessary to maintain the positive thoughts as you knit them into the shawl or afghan. I'm suggesting an afghan for men (they love warm blankets), but it could just as easily be for a non shawl type lady. For shawls, there are several easy patterns that come to mind. There are garter stitch triangular shawls all over the web. Or do a stole. Stoles are essentially really long, wide scarves. Feather and Fan and Vine Lace are two patterns that are easy to memorize, both of them being 4 row repeats. For some reason I find the Shetland Fern pattern easy to memorize and read even though its a 16 row repeat. What you want is something easily memorized so you aren't chart dependent, so you can relax and enjoy the knitting process. You don't even have to work the shawl in laceweight yarn. Use sport weight or DK weight for a more substantial shawl that you can actually finish in time for Christmas.
For afghans, again a simple garter stitch would work. What about seed stitch or an easy basket weave. Choose a soft yarn, that you know the recipient will be able to take care of as far as washability and use slightly bigger needles than usual to help the piece to drape nicely. Whoever you make the shawl or afghan for will be getting not only your knitting (and isn't knitting a tangible piece of time?), but also all of the well wishes you have put into the piece you've knit.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Of Socks and Sweaters
Its really turning into Fall now. The leaves are changing colors and this weekend we've been promised cooler weather. This makes me knit faster (at least I think so). I finished the first Loganberry sock last night and as you can see, I did the plain stockinette with a picot top and hem a la Claudia. I think she does all of her socks like this and I just had to see what the fuss was about. I really like the way the sock came out, but I don't think I could make socks like this with a less interesting yarn. As long as the yarn is interesting, I could do it, but a solid colored sock yarn? I don't think so. If I made it through the first sock, I'd never get the second one done.
I'm also almost to the gold stripe on the front of Gryffindor Mourning. Once I'm done knitting the front, I just have to put the sweater together and its done. I did the sleeves first and the back is blocked and waiting patiently for me to get my act together and finish the front.
Just in case you're paying attention and wondering what happened to the white tank top I was working on back in August, I frogged it. I decided that I wasn't really happy with the way it was coming out and I wasn't sure if it would fit right since I was doing the slipped stitch pattern. (No, I didn't check a gauge swatch with the stitch pattern, why?) So, its back in little balls of white yarn, stuffed back in the stash for next Spring, when I will feel the siren call of cotton, once again.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
A Sock is Born
I started a sock last night and as you can see, I got quite a bit done on it. All the way to the heel turn! This is the Loganberry yarn from the Loganberry roving that I got at MDS&W and spun this summer. I am loving the way this yarn is knitting up. I love the random dots of color, the tiny stripes of turquoise that show up periodically just to surprise me. I love the sheen of the mohair (this is Mohair/Border Leicester Lamb's wool in a 50/50 blend) and the sock is so soft and yummy, I can't wait to get it done. I'm so happy with the yarn, that I'm not even getting bored of plain stockinette stitch. I'm thinking about trying a picot edge with a hem for the cuff, but we'll see how I feel when I get there. One of the things I love about socks is the way they are so fast and easy, you don't mind taking chances with them. I taught myself how to do Fair Isle knitting with two yarns in my left hand on socks. (I knit Continental anyway) I've messed with lace ribs as well as other texture patterns on socks and its just really fun to do. Especially if there is no Fun Furr involved!
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Spinning and Spinning
I've been spinning on my Falkland top, and I've almost filled 4 bobbins. These are the first two, and will be the first two that get plyed. I have 6 regular size bobbins, and I will fill all of them with singles. Then I'll put on the plying bobbin and the plying flyer and start plying the singles. I played around with the singles and have decided that I like a 2 ply yarn instead of a 3 ply for what I want to use this yarn for. I have 29 ounces total of the Falkland, and this is more than enough for a sweater. In the meantime, there is a lot of sheepy white to be spun and while it does spin quickly and easily, its just sheepy white. I don't know what I'll spin on the wheel next (assuming I ever finish up this batch) but it won't be sheepy white. I'm still spinning on Caleb's sock yarn on the drop spindle and at least the colors in it keep me amused. Don't get me wrong, I love sheepy white and plan to knit the sweater in this natural, creamy white color, its just a little boring to spin. Maybe that's just me though.