Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Participated In The 2013 WestKnit MKAL and All I Got Was...

This Shawl.

Things I Like:

  • Getting to pick and use three colors, much like Earth & Sky
  • The sense of community in participating in the mystery Knit-Along
  • The colors, oh wait, I said that?

Things I don't Like:

  • While I understand the use of the ginormous yarnovers, it does create a drafty feeling in an otherwise warm shawl.
  • The bizarre "triangular" shape. Yes, it IS a triangle, but it's not as wearable as traditional triangular shawls, at least to my taste.
  • Nothing really went together to me, the eyelets in the garter-stitch, the stripes in one place but then not shown again anywhere else, and I love most WestKnits Shawls for their symmetry. 


I understand this is a mystery Knit-along, you can't know what you're getting into and too bad for me being disappointed. To that I say this; I may not like it but I'm entitled to that opinion. I bought the pattern, knit it, and stuck it out for all four weeks. I created the shawl, I'm not ripping it out, or screaming foul play. I simply don't like it.

Sorry Stephen!

On the bright side, my three-year-old has a new Lovey in her favorite colors!

I've done all three of The Mystery KAL's by WestKnits, but I've decided this was my last. So long and thanks for all the fish!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Finny, Freddy's Sister

I was going through old posts and found the pictures of Aidan's Fish Hat, Freddy. It occurred to me that I never shared with you Freddy's little sister Finny!

So here are some smiley happy pictures for today!

My favorite part is her eyelashes! They remind me of Yo Gabba Gabba's animations.

Project pages on Ravelry can be found here:   Freddy  /  Finny
Pattern by Thelma Egberts can be found on Knitty

Friday, September 13, 2013

Post- Summer Craft Update

Where did the Summer go? We moved across the country again from Portland OR, to Cape May NJ (40 minutes from my hometown). The blanket above was my car project! It is the Hue Shift Afghan by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence. I purchased the "baby" kit from KnitPicks but I really don't feel that it's very baby-ish, just lots of happy colors!

It took a while (Three Months) but by the time I would get sick of a square it was time to pick up the stitches for the next one. It was engaging enough that it never really sat around collecting dust, but easy enough that it was good TV and Social knitting. I didn't have a recipient in mind when I picked this out and it's still sitting folded neatly on a shelf because I'm not settled on keeping it.

One of my Works in Progress that I've been picking up occasionally is Celestarium from the Twist Collective. It's a circular shawl that is a chart of the constellations with beads marking each star! It's huge but fun.

I also currently have two pairs of socks on the needles, but there isn't much to see of them so I'll only give a teeny peek!

On the left is Fleece Artist Trail Sock Yarn in the colorway "Ireland", knitted into a ribbed Herringbone Stitch pattern.
On the right is Sweet Georgia Yarns' Tough Love Sock Yarn in colorway "Lakeshore Drive" (found at HomeMade in Swainton NJ which is a wonderful local treasure!), knitted into the slipped stitch pattern in the Aquaphobia Socks.

Lastly, I've finally gotten back to work on my Bee-Keeper's Quilt! I just surpassed 100 puffs yesterday, yay!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Tutorial on Rainbows

 Some years ago, I took a great book out of the library. I wanted to learn how to dye my own yarn to capture my passion for color! I poured over it's pages, renewed it and was sad to give it back. A year later I found it and eagerly purchased it. And this weekend I put it to good use!

The book I speak of is

Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece: Custom-Color Your Favorite Fibers with Dip-Dyeing, Hand-Painting, Tie-Dyeing, and Other Creative Techniques by Gail Callahan. (I've linked to it on Amazon and if you're even remotely interested in dyeing fiber I strongly suggest getting yourself a copy!)

I opted to try out the instructions for dying miniskeins in a colorwheel in mason jars. With some simple supplies, about an hour of real work, and a few hours drying time I had some cute little skeins of bright happy colors! 

All I needed was:
*Some white yarn, animal fiber is suggested and I heartily back this. I used a nylon blend and you can see that the nylon didn't take it as lovely as the wool content did.
*A run-of-the-mill box of food coloring. (Mine was $1.50 at Target)
*12 Mason Jars (the half-pint size will work but I used the pint)
*3 Containers that will hold 2 Cups of Fluid (I used large drinking glasses)
*White Vinegar (About two cups)
*A large mixing bowl/bucket/pot
*Running water
*Newsprint and (optional) freezer/wax paper
And I think that's about it

I started by winding my miniskeins. I used the back of a kitchen chair and wrapped the yarn 12 times, making 12 skeins. I tied my skeins in 3 places, including the ends, using figure eights to secure them. It worked exceptionally well for me. 


See? Nothing too fancy.. As I wound I plopped them into my jars as my way of counting... I'm a bit odd like that though. This is also a great way to entertain your daughter who would rather watch you than Finding Nemo on this particular afternoon.
After this I pulled out a large bowl (a pot or clean bucket would work nicely as well) and made a 3-part-water 1-part-vinegar solution. I used 6 Cups of Water, and 2 Cups of White Vinegar. I then took my skeins and submerged them in the solution making sure they were entirely saturated. I let them soak for 15 minutes. While they soaked I prepared my dye!

Into each of the 3 drinking glasses I poured 2 cups of water. In the first glass I added 1 tsp of yellow food color. In the second I added 1/2 tsp of red food color. And in the third I added 1/4 tsp of food color. I mixed them well with a spoon, being careful not to mix dyes and rinsing my spoons between each glass.

This is where I laid out my newspaper on the table too! I laid it out in a thick layer and then put freezer paper over it wax-side down. This allowed me to make notes next to each jar AND protect my table. I also secured the corners with tape so it wouldn't shift around on me. 

Next I laid out my mason jars and jotted down identifying numbers next to each!! I found it easier to track my steps right on the paper so I didn't make a mistake on account of forgetfulness. Then I added the color-water to the jars.

For your primary colors place 12 tsps of your dye into the jar. For your secondary 6 tsp + 6 tsp of your primaries. For your tertiary colors (examples: Blue-green, Yellow-green, etc.) a 9 to 3 ratio will accomplish this. The complete breakdown and step-by-step per jar is in the book if you're unclear or would like a precise recipe to follow. I would jot down each quantity next to the jar immediately after adding it to the jar. For example a simple 12R. Or 6B. then when I followed with the next color I would add it. This way I didn't have to wash my teaspoons after every jar, I could do a straight shot of each primary instead.

Now all of your jars should have 12 tsps in them. Now here's where you can learn from my stupidity. I immediately dumped my excess dye down the drain and washed out my glasses. Don't rush to do that!!! Set them to the side where they won't be spilled or knocked. We'll come back to them later.

How is your yarn doing in it's bath? Has it been 10-15 minutes yet? (If you're like me it's been closer to 20) Go and get it! Drain out as much of the excess vinegar water into your sink as you can without agitating your yarn or losing a skein down the drain. Now move over to your dye jars! Gingerly squeezing out each miniskein in your hand, go ahead and place one in each jar. Make sure the skein is completely covered in dye with no white spots. I used a crochet hook and rinsed and/or/wiped it down between each jar.

Now let them sit for 30 minutes. Read a few blogs, mess around on Pinterest, Instagram your project (I did!) just find a way to kill a half hour. This next part is a round robin activity so make sure the area around your microwave is pretty clear.

One by one microwave each mason jar for 1 minute. When you remove it (It will be HOT, but I'm sure you know that) tilt the jar and look at the water with light behind it. Is it pretty much clear? Awesome! Set that jar down for a moment and place the next in the microwave. Is there still some color? Pop it in for another 30 sec. (I found the reds to be the worst culprit).

After your clear-water jar has cooled off a little, drain the water out so the yarn cools faster. You can even GENTLY move your yarn to a plate or something so more air surrounds it. When you have 3 empty jars, rinse them out and you now have lidded containers to store your primary color dyes!! **When I was done I couldn't wait to take what I'd learn and do a larger skein and I kicked myself for wasting my dye. Not so much because of cost, but effort.**

Now all of your jars been heated? Water clear? Drained? Remove your skeins from them if you haven't already. Lay them out to cool to room-temperature.

Now, remember that bowl/pot/bucket from your vinegar solution? Rinse it out and fill it with room-temperature water. when the yarn has cooled (not dried, that's not important, they just can't be hot) take it and gently rinse it in the water. Rinsing entails squeezing out any leftover moisture (vinegar/dye) into the sink then allowing it to soak up the room-temp water. Then gently squeeze out the excess water and lay it out to dry much like you did before. Do this for each skein!

When it dries you can lay it out and make a rainbow, like this one!

You can also make adorable little wound min-skeins and make little tags identifying color as well as dye ratio you used!

I'm going to use them with a contrast black yarn to do some fun rainbow fair-isle! You should give it a shot too! And once again this book is FANTASTIC. It makes dyeing approachable for everyone, and any crafter can find excellent reasons for dyeing their own fibers, even in small quantities. A must-have!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On the Move... Again!

Well, the Coast Guard has issued our orders for Summer 2013! We are driving back across the country from Portland OR, back to Cape May NJ! I'm super excited to be near family, and love the idea of another roadtrip (we'll have air conditioning in the car this time! Yay!) but it also means a lot of preparation. This time we have a house full of belongings to move instead of two rooms worth!

I'm also on a knitting kick to get some projects out of the way before the trip. I've been knitting lots of baby goodies for a dear friend who's expecting a little boy this Summer. He's going to be wrapped in stitches of love.

A Newborn Sweater, knit in Blue Moon STR Lightweight, colorway is Alina, with ribbing done in KnitPicks Stroll colorway Golden Glow.

To match, Saartje's Bootees, two pairs! Same yarn, with beautiful little blue buttons :)

And in process, a hat knit up of the remainder of these yarns (not pictured) and a baby blanket I started before we knew the gender! 
I opted to use the Moderne Baby Blanket pattern. The yarn is Impeccable available at Michaels. Normally I avoid acrylics, having been spoiled by natural materials, but with babies washability is just as important as softness. I must say for acrylic yarn, Impeccable is super squishy and I've been happy to work with it! Not to mention how much fun miles of garter stitch is, it's awesome TV knitting :)

I have a few other projects to share, but you'll just have to wait!