Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Before & After

I'm still not going to rank this NZ yarn among my favorites because of the prickliness, but I must say, it sure did dye up pretty. Here's a small swatch knitted on US 7 needles.

Before felting...
After felting...
I'm very please with the results. The fabric is dense but not stiff and should make a great belt. The sample was 15 stitches wide and after felting is about double what I need my finished belt to be. So I figure 8 stitches should do it. It shrank very little in length. But even if I knit it too long, after felting it shouldn't be a problem to cut it off.

Tonight I skeined off 4 100g hanks of the tan wool to dye to make the Stag Bag from yesterday. Although I'm sure it would be fabulous to knit the bag in the alpaca yarn called for, I've got this on hand and am anxious to find a use for it. I realized, on further reading of the pattern, that the colorwork chart is worked back and forth. I loath purling in stranded colorwork, so that's just not going to happen. The pattern as written has the colorwork panel on the front and a plain solid color back. This creates a problem if done in the round since my 2nd color will be on the wrong side of the work when I get back around. I know there's some way to do it with slip stitches, but that's way more complicated than I want to try for now. I could work the back of the bag in a two color pattern as well, maybe a checkerboard or something. Or I could just cut the yarn and reattach at each new row. This would mean a ton of ends to weave in, though. These are all problems for another day. For now, the yarn is in the dye pot. Results soon.

SoS report: I knit an inch or so on the Horcrux while listening to Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians audiobook. In addition to SoS, I've signed up for the library's adult summer reading program. With the aid of audiobooks, I've gotten 2 books "read" already. And my hands are free to stitch away.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The result

The new yarn dyed up fabulously. The colors are vibrant.

These photos are a bit washed out because it is seriously sunny out today. But I think you get the idea. The yarn softened a bit in the process, but still not what I would consider next to the skin by any stretch of the imagination. I do think this will felt up wonderfully so I'm trying to think along those lines. I'm considering a belt or maybe hotmats or a placemat for the cat's food dish.

Knitting Daily featured this pattern yesterday for the Intricate Stag Bag. Add one more project to my "I HAVE to knit this" list!

I finished the gusset on the first Horcrux last night, but not much more before I fell asleep. I'm feeling discouraged at my progress. Yesterday on the SoS blog, they posted pictures of several pairs of socks people have already FINISHED! Urgh. I now I'm slow, but it's very disheartening.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The new yarn

I hated going back to work today. Normally weekends don't really effect me like that. But losing that freedom to pickup Horcrux and knit at my leisure was tough. I shall treat myself to a good long knit tonight after dinner. Unless this keeps me to distracted...2 cones of New Zealand wool. Each is over a pound of dk weight yarn. Purchased from Ebay. You'd think I'd stop buying this unknown yarn after my recent experience of Ebay yarn that didn't meet my expectations. But it's actually not bad, for what it's intended for. It's very scratchy wool indeed, at least too me it feels scratchy, but I'm pretty sensitive to that kind of thing. My intention when buying it was to try dyeing it, and that's what I'm going to work on tonight. I wound off 100 g of the gray wool and it's soaking now. I haven't decided what colors I'm going to use, but I'm thinking greens and blues. Since the wool is so scratchy, it will most certainly end up being knitted into something felted. I'm really horrible with this part, coming up with ideas on what to do with x amount of yarn. For now, I'm just interested to see if I can get something I'm even going to want to knit with!

Also in the mail today, more inspiration for sock yarns!
Apparently I'm not the only one bitten by the dye-your-own sock yarn bug. It's becoming increasingly hard to find affordable undyed sock yarn. I've still got 2 skeins of Knit Picks Bare merino/silk. I'm jonesing to get some superwash, but their site still shows it's back ordered until the end of July. Now the merino/silk is back ordered until the end of September! I did get some of my yarn from Socks that Fit and it's very nice. Just a bit more expensive than Knit Picks. Most places sell by the cone and I'm not ready to commit that kind of money just yet. At least I've figured out how to get the yarn off the cone into a hank without too much trouble. I mount my swift on it's side so it spins like a ferris wheel and set the cone on my scale so I can see when I've wound off the appropriate weight. I've also marked the swift and calculated the amount of yarn per revolution. All I need to do is count the number of strands in the hank and I've got the yardage.

I'm off to dye now. Oo, that didn't sound very good!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fastest sock ever!

Holy crow! I started the Horcrux sock (sock #1 for SoS) on June 21. I cast on before work, because I was DYING to start. And I've pretty much only worked on these socks when knitting (I knit a few rows on the Bamboo socks when I needed mindless, no counting involved knitting). But mostly, it's only been Horcrux. And it's not been all that much knitting time, actually. I worked Thursday and Friday, all day. We went away Thursday night and Friday were busy with Ebay listings. So I'm thinking 2-3 hours TOPS I've spent knitting. Look at this....As of 8:00 this morning, I'm ready to turn the heel on sock #1! This pattern totally rocks. It's so easy and looks awesome. It looks kind of poofy in the lace section because of the way the ribbing pulls in, but it looks just fine on my leg. Very comfortable. This is my first lace sock and I wasn't sure how I'd like it. So far I'm very pleased.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ready to go...

I've decided on Sock #1 for SoS...I think we all knew I'd choose the Horcrux sock. How could I not? If I'm REALLY speedy, maybe I might even be able to wear them to the movie next month! When I got all my sock yarn out to take that picture over the weekend, I found a skein of Opal Cotton hiding in there. And, as I said before, I'm really in need of summer weight socks, so the Opal turned out to be the natural choice. I've even got the death eater bag to keep it. So I'm all set. Summer of Socks, here I come!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Decisions, decisions!

Yikes! Summer of socks starts this week and I'm still knee deep in both the Regia Bamboo and Katsara socks. I just turned the heel on the second bamboo sock and really want to keep working on them so I can wear them during the warm weather. I miss my handmade socks in the summer since wool is just too warm for our climate. I'm really looking forward to some summer-weight socks. I'm still on the first sock of the Katsara socks and won't feel too guilty putting them aside for awhile. The rules for SoS are pretty loose. You can knit as many or as few socks as you want using any yarn and pattern you want. It doesn't specifically say the socks must be started on or after June 21 (the start of the KAL) unless you are participating in one of the contests. I'm not a contest kind of person so I'm not too worried about that. But I think the spirit of the KAL is to try to start and finish the socks during the 3 months of summer. So. Now I've got some decisions to make. I've got a pile of sock yarn to choose from.Knowing my general slow knitting speed, I'm figuring I'll be able to do 1 maybe 2 pair during this time. I want to do something special, so I'm leaning towards using one of my newly hand-dyed yarns. Although the Lime & Violet yarn is pretty special too. And then there's the Socks that Rock. As for patterns, I'm thinking Horcrux (since this is also the summer of Harry Potter) but Jaywalkers have suddenly started calling my name too. ARGH!

I finally got around to getting a picture of the machine knit sweater I made over Memorial Day weekend.
It was knit from Lion Brand Cotton Ease in Berry, 6 skeins plus a tiny bit of a 7th, on a Bond ISM using keyplate 3. The ribbing was knit by hand. I used Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns to come up with the pattern. This sweater is super comfortable. We had a cool snap last week and I actually got to wear it one day. I would only make 2 changes for next time: I'd shorten the sleeves a bit and start the v-neck sooner, there's very little depth to this one. I really like the modified drop shoulder design. It's much less bunchy under the arms, very well fitting but still comfortable.

And finally, thanks to Charles for mentioning my blog on his knitting videocast this week! As far as I know, he's the only knitter doing a videocast. He's up to his third episode, I think. He features book and magazine reviews, website reviews and yarn porn. Since I tend to listen to podcasts on my Ilo and not my computer, I often don't get a chance to see what the podcasters are talking about. With Charles' videocast though, you get to see the stuff as well as hear about it. Great job Charles!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dyeing and gardening success

Yesterday I enjoyed a day off from work by going to the movies with my family to see Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. Loved it. I'm not much of a movie-goer but action movies are so much better on the big screen.

I got in some more dyeing as well. I hit the mark this time on the Halloween yarn.
I've named it Jack.
This one is Sweet Tooth.
I'm addicted. I keep thinking of color combinations I can't wait to try and I've got more yarn coming!

Look back at this post. See the garden? That was only 3 weeks ago. Look at it now!
The June-boom never ceases to amaze me. How plants can triple in size in only a few short weeks.
The zucchini plant has already yielded several meals worth of vegetables. And although its hard to see in this picture, there's more for tonight's dinner waiting to be picked. Our weather has been exceptionally good so far this summer. Not too hot, a good amount of rain, just perfect. I'm thinking that for once we might even get by without all of our tomatoes cracking from the erratic rain we've had in past summers. I guess it's early yet to tell, but my fingers are crossed!

Big news...my Etsy shop is now up! It's at http://peacecat30.etsy.com. There's not a lot on it just yet. There's soap and a few sewn items. I hope to list some of my dyed yarns, if I can bear to part with them. But I'm not ready to let them go yet. Please stop by and check it out. Comments and suggestions welcomed!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The plunge into hand dyeing

All of the hand painted sock yarn I've discovered since I've started listening to Lime & Violet has inspired to try my hand at it. If you remember a while back I did a skein of kool aid dyed yarn. Although I loved the results, the selection of kool aid colors available here is very limited so I bought me some acid dyes and several skeins of undyed yarn and decided to have at it. I did order a book on yarn dyeing from Amazon, but haven't had time to read it yet. There's plenty of instruction and inspiration online, though. Just search yarn dyeing. Here's a quick look at how I did it (and what I learned in the process).

I started with a skein of Knit Picks Bare merino/silk blend fingering weight yarn. I love their yarns. Their fingering weight is a bit heavier than the other undyed yarns I've got waiting to dye. Some people suggest reskeining into a longer skein so I did that first.Stuart insisted on "helping". The chairs were set about 2 feet apart and I ended up with a skein about 40-something inches long. This process took forever and killed my back (not to mention the constant cat wrangling). Next time I'm going to try painting as skeined or winding it on the ball winder and then reskeining onto the swift set at a wider diameter. Then I soaked the yarn in warm water with some vinegar while I mixed the dyes.
These are Cushing dyes. I only had yellow, turquoise, crimson & black. I was aiming for yellow, purple, orange and black and figured I could mix colors to get the right shades. I didn't succeed so well with the purple. I know from grade school you should be able to mix blue and red to get purple. Apparently turquoise is not close enough to blue for this to work. My ultimate goal was to emulate some cool Halloween yarn I saw someone else do. Their's was mostly orange with touches of purple and black. I drained the yarn and squeezed out most of the water and spread it out on plastic wrap. I must get wider plastic wrap and make sure I tear off a long enough piece. I tried piecing my plastic wrap and ended up with leaks. Which brings up an interesting observation. This dye did not seem to stain very much. I splashed yellow dye all over my shirt (a cotton/poly tee shirt) and from the leaking plastic wrap there was a big splotch of black dye on the counter. The counters cleaned right up with a little spray cleaner and I used a bit of stain spray on the tee shirt and washed it later that day and there's not a bit of stain on it. Perhaps the acid dyes truly do need the acid and heat to make them stick. Anyway, back to the story. Here's the yarn after I applied the dyes.I ran out of orange and rather than mixing more I just decided to just use all the colors a little more evenly. At this point I had abandoned the Halloween yarn (I've got more dyes & yarn coming so there'll be plenty of opportunity to try again). I wrapped the yarn up in the plastic, plopped it in a glass dish and microwaved it in 3 minute bursts, letting it rest for 5-15 minutes between, for a total of 9 minutes. Then I let it cool completely before rinsing.Most of the dye had absorbed so there was very little discharge in the water. I used just a bit of Eucalan in the water to give the yarn a nice scent. Then it was out into the sun to dry.
When it was dry, I looped it back over the chairs and rewound it onto the swift. Again, this took forever and I had even more trouble with Stuart (apparently the colored yarn is even more enticing than the white.) In the end, although it's not what I originally intended, I'm very pleased with the finished yarn.
I haven't come up with a name yet. It seems like most of the hand dyers come up with cute and witty names for their yarns. Me? Not so good with the cute and witty. Now I'm just interested to see what it will look like knitted. Damn, another project in the queue!

Isn't this the most awesome fabric?
This is my Death Eater bag. The shadowy skulls and sick green lining immediately put me in mind of the Death Eaters in Harry Potter. I'm working on making these little project bags (among other things) in the hopes of starting my own Etsy shop. I'm excited to have a potential outlet for some of the crafty things I like to do. More on that another day.

We rounded out the weekend by attending my aunt Linda's retirement party. Her daughter's threw a big picnic and a lot of the family we don't often get to see came for the occasion. A great time was had by all.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Somebody please stop me

Ok, this sock yarn obsession has got to stop. Now look what I got...
LIME AND VIOLET! Wooohoooo!! I managed to score the Darvoset skein from Miss Violet's Better Living Through Chemicals set. Tres gorgeous. And soft. (At this moment, L&V have a new series up on their site. I froze my credit cards in blocks of ice so as not to be tempted.) I'm pretty sure this is going to be the Horcrux socks. If you want the sock weight pattern, you have to join this Yahoo Group, which I did, just to get the pattern. Much as I love plain jane stockinette socks for their simplicity, I'm ready to branch out into patterned socks. To wit...Here's the Katsara tube socks to date.I'm going to have to come up with a new name because I'm not planning on making these actual tube socks. Unless I have to hard a time reworking the pattern, I intend to put in a heel flap and gusset. Think they'll fit better that way.

Progress on the Bamboo socks.
These are so soft and light. Will be perfect for summer, if I can just find time to work on them!

This last week I've mostly been working on a machine knit sweater. I didn't ta
ke time to take pictures. The process goes so fast, it's hardly worth taking time for pictures. Now I'm doing the seaming up - which always seems to take as long (or longer) than it took to knit the sweater! Pictures next week.

My latest batches of soap.
I'm very pleased with these. On the left is a eucalyptus/orange blend, smells dreamy. On the right is a new batch of Castile. This time I put just a touch of green coloring. I thought the first batch was too pale, and this puts me more in mind of olive oil. The olive oil I'm using right now is very pale so it doesn't really lend any color of it's own to the soap. I'm patiently waiting for my lavender to bloom. Mom had requested some lavender soap with actual lavender buds. I think this sounds like a great idea and hope to give it a try.

As if I don't have enough projects going and in the wings...I did buy yarn for one more project. Be still my heart...
Fleece Artist/Handmaiden SeaSilk in Seashore. For those who haven't heard of this yarn, it's made from silk and seacell which comes from seaweed. It is unbelievably soft. This yarn would make the perfect pet, no need to even knit it up. I could simply carry the skein around and be happy. However, I do intend to knit it up. I was originally prompted to buy the yarn to make the Montego Bay scarf in the Summer 07 Interweave Knits (after the HUGE disappointment of the eBay yarn). But the more I think about it, I'm thinking shawl. Now, I'm not much of a lace fan, and this is laceweight yarn so I may just be screwed. But I'm willing to try. Eventually. For now, good pet.