Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Labels: Stash Enhancement
Monday, February 26, 2007
I got a lot of spinning done this weekend!
Friday, February 23, 2007
I've been thinking...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
A little bag
I used fingering weight wool for this, but you could use any weight. I used Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra in Charcoal and Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in Chapman Springs in the Medium Weight. (Let me digress here and say that if you've never knit with Socks That Rock, you need to. You really need to.) I did a provisional cast on (I used 60 stitches) with the Socks That Rock on a slightly smaller needle than I was planning on using on the body of the bag and knit just under an inch. Then I did a purl row which makes a nice turning row and switched to the main color of yarn and the bigger needles (I used size US 2's as my bigger size, I don't remember what size I used for the hem casing.) Knit about 3/8 of an inch, then you add your eyelets for the drawstring. I made four as follows: Needle 1 - K2, YO, SSK, K to end of needle. Needle 2 - Knit to last 4 stitches, K2 tog, YO, K2. Needle 3 is worked as Needle 1 and Needle 4 is worked as Needle 2. Then I continued in stockinette until the work was even with the provisional cast on when I folded the hem casing into place. (You could count rounds of the hem casing part and then count again on the main color, but since you change needles, you might need a different number of rounds to get them the same length, and I forgot to count anyway and then decided not to worry about it and just measured them against each other - it worked without any trouble.) When the hem casing and the main color outside are the same length, undo the provisional cast on and pick up the stitches with an extra set of needles. Then you just knit one stitch of the charcoal with one stitch of the Socks That Rock (make sure you don't twist your hem casing) all the way around to join them together. Start knitting the bag in whatever pattern you want to use, knit it as long as you like, and Kitchener Stitch the bottom together.
I used a Linen Stitch or a Linen Stitch variation - I didn't look it up but I know its similar to Linen Stitch. Here's how you do it:
Over an even number of stitches, worked in the round:
Round 1: *K1, Slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front, rep from * to end of round
Rounds 2 and 4: Knit
Round 3: *Slip 1 purlwise with yarn in front, K1, rep from * to end of round
I made the last round a Round 3, since the Kitchener Stitch bottom would look like a Round 4. The bag is about 4 inches square, not counting the hem casing. Then I braided some Socks That Rock and made a little drawstring, threaded it through the hem casing and knotted it at the end.
It was an easy little bag and now Caleb has a place to put some little things. I think if you worked the bag body in Heel Stitch or Eye of Partridge you could make a very strong little bag that wouldn't stretch out.
UPDATE: I just wanted to clarify that when I mentioned that Daddy had just had a heart attack the other day, I was being sarcastic with the dandelion/orchid comment. He's fine, but for those of you who wished him a speedy recovery, I appreciate your kindness.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Where we see things you've seen before, only they're different
I'm beginning to think I should have saved some orchid pictures just to give you something new to look at. Oh well. As for the blue violet orchid, I'm less concerned with what kind of orchid it is, than with the color. I had never seen an orchid that color of violet but I can't believe its only available on that one species - surely someone has come up with that color in other species.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
You can see them here, sitting in the Lazy Kate waiting to be plied (they are sitting with one bobbin of the Frostrosen, it will not be plied with the Opalessence, its just waiting for its second bobbin to be finished up). There are 3 ounces of singles on each bobbin, one bobbin is just wound better than the other so they look like they have different amounts of fiber on them. I've found that if I wait 5-7 days before plying when it takes me this long to spin the singles, I get a better plied yarn. The first bobbin of singles has been sitting around for several weeks and the twist is starting to set. If I plied it to the second bobbin of singles as soon as I finished spinning the second bobbin, I wouldn't get a great yarn, because the second bobbin of singles still has active twist. By letting them sit a week or so, the second bobbin can relax into the twist and then they'll ply evenly. Of course, I have to ply them just until they look slightly overplied so that when I wash the skeins (water will reactivate the twist), they are still balanced. I could also avoid this if I didn't piddle around so much during spinning and finished both bobbins much quicker. Oh well.
So yesterday at the museum, there were the dinosaurs and the fossils, and the mammal exhibits, but there was also a really nice orchid exhibit. My Dad grows orchids so I grew up thinking that orchids were as common as dandelions. OK, maybe not that common, and to the best of my knowledge, there are no orchids that do that cool thing when you blow on them like dandelions do - Daddy just had a heart attack - but still, I didn't realize that orchids were so exotic and mysterious.
I've since kind of figured out that most people think orchids are really difficult plants to grow and that you have to know special plant things to keep them at all, but you don't. I've kept them alive before and even gotten them to bloom (OK, it was a pretty hyperactive bloomer anyway).
Anyway, as you can see, I got a bunch of pictures of the orchid exhibit and I thought it was really well done.
If you're going to be in the DC area before April 22, you should come check out this exhibit.
And when you're done with the orchids, you can head upstairs to the History of Civilization section (or something along those lines), they have a display of ancient spindle whorls.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Asymmetrical in design, the stole begins with a beaded cast on and a basket weave lace design inspired by a traditional Sashiko, or Japanese quilting design. The basket weave symbolizes the friendships and interweaving of our lives. The second half of the stole is dedicated to the cherry blossoms and the reminder they give us of the beauty of life. As anyone who has seen cherry blossoms blow in the wind can tell you, they make a beautiful pink and white cloud of blossoms. Starting out with just a scatter of blossoms, they get thicker until at the end of the stole, there is a full cloud of blossoms. The second end of the stole is finished with a simple, flirty ruffle that is reminiscent of the delicate blossoms themselves.
A striking combination of the geometric basket weave design and the organic cherry blossoms, this stole is the perfect accessory for any special occasion. Complete directions, including a pictorial guide to the beaded cast on and full charts are included in the pattern. The stole can also be worked either entirely in the basket weave pattern, or entirely in the cherry blossom pattern and I have included directions for both variations. This gives you essentially three stole designs in one pattern!
Click to purchase
Labels: Patterns for Sale
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Just a fleece to distract you from a lack of real progress on my part
In pattern writing news, I have started getting some pictures of Mindy's Stole and I hope to get detail shots and pictures of the beaded cast on. The charts were proofread when I knit them so I know those are correct, all I have to do is re proof the text of the directions and put it all together (text, charts, pictures) and we'll have a pattern!
Labels: Fiber Enabling
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Clean Dogs and Wicked Sweaters
Make sure you get all the water out of your ears - even if your mommy has already wrung them out several times and dried them with a towel. (Retriever ears are like sponges and you can literally wring them out-kinda weird, but fun too.)
Then you should run around in circles, attack the towels (it was probably their idea that you get a bath in the first place), roll on the carpet, and then start over again with the shaking off.
OK, now that you've had your puppy fix, here is Wicked in all its finished glory! This is the kind of picture you get when you ask a 6 year old who's at least 2 feet shorter than you are to take your picture. I love the way it fits and the pattern was really easy to make.
Details: Wicked pattern, for worsted weight yarn. I adjusted the shaping to fit my body and added the twisted rib pattern at the bottom edge. I used 10 balls of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in Opal. I made the 34 inch size and it called for 800 yards of yarn - 10 balls of yarn is 930 yards - I'm wondering if the yardage requirements are for the short sleeved version. The only other thing I'd watch for on this pattern is something I've already mentioned: the twisted rib pattern is an 8 stitch repeat, not a 4 stitch repeat and you might need to adjust numbers for cast on and then at the sleeves and lower edge of the sweater if you add it there.
Monday, February 12, 2007
So, what you see above is the left front of the Grannie Smith Cardigan. I am knitting from Skeins 1 and 2, two rows each, for two reasons. Number 1 is to keep the fronts looking the same (Skein 1 is a smoother yarn than Skein 2), and it also helps to avoid color pooling. I am loving the way its looking so far, but I'm going to have to knit the fronts separately instead of at the same time like I usually do because the idea of 4 working yarn ends just makes me woozy. Once I finish this front, I'll do the right front and then the back. At that point, I'll see how much yarn I have left from Skeins 1 and 2 and decide if I have enough for the sleeves - I'm planning on making long sleeves instead of the 3/4 sleeves in the pattern - or decide if I need to spin more yarn for the sleeves. As you can see, the pattern has a picot hem and then goes into the diamond lace pattern (very easy to memorize). The original pattern calls for Kid Silk Haze* and uses bigger needles. I ended up using US 1's (2.25 mm) to get gauge. I also decided to work the body of the sweater straight - the pattern is an inverted slight A-line shape.
*For a bit of enabling: Woodland Woolworks has Kid Silk Haze (regular, Night, and Spray) on sale until March - I think - double check the date. Also, Janette's Rare Yarns is a great place to get any Rowan yarns for great prices any time. She's in the UK, but her shipping is very fast and reasonable. Just thought I'd mention that in case anyone else wants a Grannie Smith cardi. Also, a bunch of the patterns from Victorian Lace Today use Kid Silk Haze.
Labels: Grannie Smith
Friday, February 09, 2007
Almost done being Wicked
As you can see, Wicked is about 1/3 of a sleeve short of being finished (and a few thousand yarn ends). Yesterday I finished the first sleeve which gave me the number of rounds to knit for the second sleeve. Its amazing how just having a number in my head I'm able to knit faster. This hasn't been a slow sweater to knit, although you'd never believe it from reading my blog. The biggest thing to slow me down has been finding a time when I can try it on to figure out what to do next. I tend to work on it in little spots during the day and changing clothes, measuring where I am and where I'm going, and then getting dressed again doesn't work in those little bits of time. On the other hand, since I was able to double check the fit as I went, I know this will fit the way I want it to - no surprises when I finish. I should be able to finish the knitting today and I hope to get the ends woven in and get it blocking - it desperately needs blocking.
I've enjoyed knitting this pattern and I think I'll probably wear the finished sweater quite a bit. The only things I would note about the pattern are to double check the number you cast on for the neck - the twisted rib is an 8 stitch repeat, not a 4 stitch repeat (you might have to change your cast on number depending on your size to have a number divisible by 8), and definitely try the sweater on as you go like they recommend. That way you can make sure its fitting the way you want it to. Otherwise, its a nicely written pattern, easy to follow and understand and I think the finished sweater is pretty cute. Next time you see it, it will be finished and not a moment too soon - I'm getting tired of coming up with post titles for this thing! Have a great weekend!
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Please try to contain your excitement...
...at the 28 new rounds of sleeve you see here compared to yesterday. Yep, 28 rounds knitted yesterday. (I'm counting rounds as I knit this sleeve so I can get the second sleeve to match. It seemed like a good idea - matching sleeves.) I think I've got about 2 or 3 more inches before I start the cable edging (that takes up 2 inches), but I've got to try on the sweater again to double check. I have pretty long arms and almost always end up adding a bit to sleeve lengths as patterns are written, but that's the great thing about knitting, you can make your projects fit your body the way you want them to fit.
Yesterday wasn't a total loss, I'd just like to say. Those of you who read Wendy Knits know that she is currently working on Cromarty from Alice Starmore's The Celtic Collection. I have that book (its not hard to find or crazy expensive like some of her other books) but in my opinion, it hadn't really grabbed me with any one project. I think now, its more a function of limited color palettes available than any bad design choices on Ms. Starmore's part - I mean, have you seen what she can do with the full color range of her own yarns? I think, but I'm not sure, that the book was done by Rowan Yarns or for Rowan yarns because that's all she uses in the book. Now I do love Rowan yarns (at least the classic, traditional yarns they make - we will not discuss their designs lately), but the color range is not as complete as some of the yarns more traditionally used for stranded color work*. Because of this, Ms. Starmore makes some "unconventional" choices for yarns in some of her projects, I'm assuming, to get specific colors. (Cotton chenille for stranded color work, really?) Even with the additional color palettes offered by these more non traditional yarn choices there are some designs that just don't seem to work well to my eye. So, after seeing Wendy's Cromarty, I decided that maybe I needed to take another look at this book. After really taking some time looking at the designs, I came to my above conclusions about the possible design constraints imposed on Ms. Starmore when she was designing for this book and have realized that while there are some yarn choices that I would not personally make, I am not under contract by Rowan and can choose any yarns of any colors that I please. Looked at in this new light, I have realized that some of the designs are not shown to their fullest due to color restrictions -several of the designs just get lost due to background and foregrounds being too close in value. I have found a number of designs that I would like to knit, but in my own color and yarn choices. The three that really popped out at me are Rosemarkie, Dalmore (scroll down to Oct 11 to see one in progress), and in the category of Epic Knitting Adventures, Erin (click the third picture at the top - the lady standing beside the tree). I've pretty much decided that I will do Rosemarkie sometime this year, but in colors that I can wear and that work with my wardrobe.
*By "stranded color work" I'm referring to the technique used where two or more yarn colors are used in each row and the colors not in use are stranded behind the knitting until its time to use them again. This technique is used in the traditional Fair Isle style of knitting (with no more than 2 colors per round) and is sometimes referred to as Fair Isle knitting, but not all designs that use this technique can be called Fair Isle. The yarns used are typically a two ply jumper weight (fingering weight) Shetland wool yarn. Jamieson's and Jamieson and Smith are two brands that manufacture this kind of yarn, both of them have extensive color ranges.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
A one sleeve wonder
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The best laid plans...
Monday, February 05, 2007
You know what they say about rabbits
Friday, February 02, 2007
In knitting news, I have finished the body of Wicked and have begun the first sleeve but opted not to bore you with a picture. I'm also almost done spinning the second ounce of Opalessence (one more to go on this second bobbin), but again, you've seen so many bobbins with Opalessence singles on them, I really hate to show you another one (or rather the same one, with more singles of the same kind).
About the only other thing I have to say here is that as of today, I have been blogging for 2 years! Yes, Groundhog Day is also my blogiversary! Thanks for stopping by all those times, thanks for reading all my drivel, and I hope everyone has a great weekend - even the groundhog.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Dyeing with the Pink Lemon
Once I had the fiber divided into the amounts I was going to dye, I set it in the kitchen sink to soak. You have to get your wool thoroughly wetted before dyeing so while it was soaking I mixed up some dye. I used the Landscapes brand of dyes. They are acid dyes, have a beautiful color range and because you don't have to add anything else to them (like a mordant), they are a little easier to use than regular acid dyes. I used Wattle - yellow, Grevillea - red, and Marine - blue for my experiments yesterday. (Let me say here that while Wattle and Marine are two of the three colors recommended for use as primary colors, Grevillea is not. I chose to use Grevillea since it was a blue red and that's my favorite shade of red.) Just as another side note (sometimes I feel like my entire blog entries are one big parenthetical after another), I did not dye anything to 100% Depth of Shade so the colors you see here are not representative of the full intensity of the dyes used. Make sense?
I covered the island in our kitchen with a plastic tablecloth (side note: for safety reasons, all food and dishes were put away or moved across the room to the kitchen table while I was dyeing), covered that with newspapers and then laid out Saran wrap. I squeezed out the first mound? clump? bump? glob? of roving and laid it out on the plastic wrap in as straight a length as I could. I wasn't sure how much to put on the plastic wrap this first time, so I divided it by eye and laid the first batch -yeah, that's the word - on two pieces of plastic wrap. Then I grabbed the Grevillea to paint it on the roving - Oooops! No foam brush or any other type of brush to do the actual painting. Not to worry though, grab a paper towel, wad it up and voila! A cheap disposable dye dabbing tool. Problem averted, I began making stripes of dark pink on the white wool. It kinda looks like a crime scene doesn't it? I decided on this first batch, to just make some pink and white stripes since pink has been my nemesis when it comes to dyeing and I figured that spun up, pink and white stripes would possibly look like a pink and white ragg yarn and really, who wouldn't want pink ragg socks? So, everything got covered with a second piece of plastic wrap (which I have almost as many problems with as tape), rolled up like a jelly roll, and plopped delicately into the steamer. Then I double checked the directions and according to Deb Menz, Color Goddess of Wool Everywhere (and also author of Color in Spinning), I should let the roving sit for a bit (30 minutes or so) before steaming. So, unroll the first batch again, set it back on the newspaper and let it do what ever its going to do (maybe this gives the dye more time to move around and soak into the fibers, maybe the wool likes to meditate on the colors it will become, maybe its so I can stare at its delightful pinkness some more - I don't know.)While the first batch thought about its deliciously pink future, I got started on a second batch. This one was painted with large blue stripes, then pink, yellow, pink, and back to blue. You can see I left white spaces between the colors. I wasn't sure what that would do, but I figured I'd find out. I also got all 5.25 ounces on one strip of plastic wrap and was able to paint the whole batch as one. By the time I finished painting this second batch, I was ready to steam the first batch, so I put that back into the steamer and moved the second batch up on the island to do its presteam wooly meditations - or whatever. On the final batch of roving I decided to go a little crazy. I had leftover dye from the first two batches so I decided to dribble the dye liberally through the roving. I started with blue, which I had the most of and drizzled it on the roving. Then I added the pink/red color, and then I made some random yellow dots. I knew not to use equal amounts of all three colors or I'd have mud (basic color theory in action).
After all three batches of roving had been steamed and cooled enough to handle, I unwrapped them from their plastic wrap and gave them a quick rinse in the kitchen sink. Then, into washing bags they went and were washed once and rinsed twice in the washing machine (soaked then spun - no agitation). I spread out the clean and dyed rovings in the bathtub to dry and...
...TA DA! On the right you see Roving Batch 1 (AKA Barbie's Dream Roving), in the center is Roving Batch 2, and on the left is Roving Batch 3. I am very excited about all three of them and can't wait to spin them up and see what kind of yarn they become.
I did learn several things from doing this. All three batches of rovings were too wet, even after squeezing the water out. Next time I'll prewet them in the washing machine and then I can spin the water out. I think I also used too much dye (not so much the dye color, but the water I mixed it with) - this could have also been related to the too wet rovings in the first place. Remember the white spaces I left when I painted the rovings? Can you see them now? That's why I think there was too much liquid of one kind or the other, or both. The other thing I learned is that we really have to work with Finn on the "Get Down" command - he stinks at that one!