Thursday, March 30, 2006

Got Stash?

Teri and I have decided to come to grips with our ever-increasing, respective mountains of yarn. Admitting excess was the first step; creating a separate blog to facilitate the de-stashing was the second. Then we thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to involve other de-stashers." So we opened the blog up to everyone.

Got extra yarn? Want more yarn??
Join us in our never-ending de-stashing project. Just click on the photo and follow the instructions to join.

Then go forth and de-stash!

**Fantastic button created by Carole.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dyeing Questions and Answers

There were lots of questions left in the comments to Monday's post about the Patons yarn I dyed in the crock pot. Several people are anxiously waiting to see what the yarn looks like knit up. Sorry to disappoint, but this skein will be a birthday present for a certain Stitch 'N Bitch grrl so I won't be able to show a swatch or an FO. But I'll let the recipient know she needs to knit it up fast and post some photos on her blog.

Here's my guess on what it will look like, though. The top and inside of the ball were mostly white; there was much more dye on the outside and bottom of the ball. When it's knit up, I suspect the color of the fabric will get darker or lighter (depending on which end she begins with) as she knits. So it might not be the best dyeing technique to use for projects like mittens and socks that should at least resemble each other in color, but it would make an interesting hat. Also, I didn't do this, but you could experiment with smooshing the ball down into the dye to get a little more dye to distribute to the core of the ball.

Janet asked whether Rit dye could be used on wool. It's my understanding that Rit dyes work on both protein fibers and plant fibers (both types of dye are mixed together in the same packet). That's why so much dye remains unexhausted when you're finished; i.e., the protein dye is leftover when you dye cotton and vice versa.

Amy wanted to know if I used the powder or liquid form of Rit. I used the powder, but I assume the liquid would work just as well. I don't think the liquid comes in as many colors as the powder, though. I used about half the package to dye 100g of yarn. I soaked the skein in vinegar water but I didn't add any vinegar to the dye mixture itself. I'm not sure the vinegar was necessary, but I had originally planned to use some Wilton Cake dye on this skein and changed my mind at the last minute.

Susan and Jill asked about my crock pot. I picked mine up at the DI for $2.00 and don't use it for anything except dyeing. It only has two temperature settings: low and high.

I used the high setting.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Adventures in Dyeing

My recent acquisitions of handpainted sock yarns inspired me to try a little more fiber dyeing the past two weekends. Today's skein began as a 100g ball of Patons Wool Classic in the color Winter White. I wound it into a center-pull ball on my ball winder and soaked it for about an hour in some tepid water. When it was thoroughly wet, I placed it in a crock pot and filled the crock pot with some black Rit dye until the liquid level was slightly less than half-way up the side of the center-pull ball. Then I turned the crock pot on and left it for an hour or so. After the wool cooled down, I rinsed out the remaining dye and wound the skein on the niddy noddy.

Because the dye only penetrated part of the ball, I ended up with short bands of black and bits of grey and blue/grey where the dye bled into the white yarn but didn't saturate it. I sent Beth a photo of the skein and she had the truly brilliant idea of using the same process with a non-white skein. Would orange yarn and black dye give you tiger stripe yarn? I don't know but it would be a fun experiment. I also think it would be interesting to turn the ball upside down and fill the crock pot with a second color once the first color is set.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Alert the Media

Here’s something you don’t see often on this blog

Not just a mitten, but a mitten knit in a stranded pattern.

I rarely knit stranded patterns because, unlike some knitters, I pretty much suck at it. To prove my point you need only look at the glaring error about an inch above the thumb. Not only do I have no intention of fixing it, I'll probably purposely repeat it on the second mitten.

But I was in my LYS on Wednesday and noticed they had some Lite Lopi in the kids’ school colors. Since I’ve already failed miserably at the Stashalong, I bought a couple of balls. When I got home, I thumbed through my copy of "Folk Mittens" and found a nice, easy pattern written specifically for this yarn. So I cast on and immediately ran into a problem with the braid at the cast-on edge.

The written instructions for Round 1 direct you to alternate between black and white, beginning with black and bringing the next color to be used over the color you just used. But the chart legend says to bring the next color under. On Round 2, the written instructions again say to begin with black and bring the next color over, but the chart (and the legend) indicates you should begin with white and bring the next color under the last color.

The pattern can’t possibly be correct since the written instructions clearly conflict with the chart. I checked for errata for this pattern but couldn’t find anything on the Interweave site. I didn't have the inclination to fool with these so I just ditched the instructions completely and just worked a Kihnu vits braid which is described on pages 51-52 of Folk Knitting in Estonia.

Has anyone made these mittens?? Am I nuts or is there an error in the instructions?

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My Downfall

So what's the real reason I failed at the Stashalong? I can answer that with one word . . . Marie

Marie at Brooklyn Handspun added some amazing superwash sock yarns to her web site a week or two ago and I fell hard. She had colors I loved and I absolutely had to strike while the iron was hot since her yarns sell out so quickly. It was a battle of the fastest fingers, but I was the first to claim the only skein of Hawaii Joy and one of the skeins of Secret.

Seriously, look at this yarn and you'll realize why it was futile to resist.

Click to enlarge the photo but make sure you've locked away your credit card first.

Here's the best part, though. I emailed Marie about a sock pattern of mine that will be in the September issue of MagKnits and she dyed a colorway just for that sock. Seriously, a colorway just for me.

Isn't it fantastic!

I love you, Marie. You evil, evil, yarn pusher.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

F is for . . .

Fleece Artist. Yum!

I’ve had this roving in my fiber stash for a couple of months but just haven’t had the chance to spin it up.

I got it from Rochelle at Grand River Yarn. Rochelle has a wonderful online shop and she's very responsive.

And it was the song of the Fleece Artist siren that helped put an end to my participation in the Stashalong. Alison posted a message to the Socknitters group that she’d received a new shipment of their merino sock yarn and I felt I had to act quickly. So two skeins of the newer, thinner merino sock yarn joined my stash:

Hercules and Origin:

I used some of the older, thicker-spun Fleece Artist sock yarn last year and loved the hand. The new stuff is quite a bit thinner. Has anyone tried it yet???

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Don't Be Impressed

Wow, thanks for all the kind words about my Fína Hyrnan shawl. Just for the record, I’d like to clarify that this shawl was an extremely easy knit. Really. Look back at the photo from yesterday and you’ll see that the main body of the shawl is just a simple, basic lace pattern. Once I set the lace pattern up on the second row, the rest of the body was a piece of cake. I was able to work on this at lunch while discussing the intricate details of 28 U.S.C. § 2255 with no problems whatsoever. Even better, because it was knit from the bottom up, there were fewer stitches each row instead of more! Sometimes that’s just the added incentive you need to continue knitting. And since it only took 450 yards of yarn, it’s really not that impressive that I finished it in less than a week.

Anne was right when she said it’s the border that really makes the shawl so spectacular. And once that was set up, it also wasn’t difficult to knit. In fact, it really wasn’t necessary to even look at the chart after the first few stitches of each row. I think being able to combine two easy lace patterns into an impressive-looking shawl is the hallmark of a fabulous design.

Oh, and here’s a tip if anyone decides to knit the shawl. Cast on one more stitch than the pattern calls for and then work a p2tog at the center of the shawl on the first row. That way you can pick up the required number of stitches for the border right from the provisional stitches without having to increase. If you have the pattern you’ll see what I mean.

Beth wants to know what I’ll do with my 430-yard skein of leftover yarn. Good question; I'm open to suggestions since I hate to waste yarn. I’ve actually contemplated knitting another Fína Hyrnan shawl but using a 2-stitch border instead of a 3-stitch border. But I’m chicken; I think I may run out of yarn. If I had done that with this shawl, I’m fairly certain I could have knit the whole thing from just one ball, but I no longer have a full second ball. I guess I could also re-knit the pattern using a 3.5mm needle instead of a 4mm needle. But the lace might be too dense for my taste. I’ll have to think on this.

I loved Teresa’s comment, "Awesome. And cheap." How true. Which leads to my observation that the yarn I used, Knit Picks Shadow, is a very nice lace-weight merino. And, yes, it is very very cheap. Donna was surprised that the heathered color of the yarn didn’t compete with the pattern. In fact, the heathery effect of this yarn is very subtle. Even less so than some Shetland I’ve used for shawls.

True Confessions

Dear Kim,

Sorry, but I’ve violated the rules of the Stashalong. That is, unless buying 5 hanks of sock yarn is now permitted.

I’m out.


More details on this Monday, since some of the yarn I bought deserves at least one post all to itself.

Since I don’t have any photos today that tie into my post, I’ll leave you with a photo of Margene and Kim from last Tuesday’s Stitch ‘N Bitch. Kim was in town for spring break and it was great to see her again.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stick A Fork In It

My latest shawl, blocking:

And being modeled at Stitch 'N Bitch (yeah, I said it; so sue me) by everyone's favorite redhead - the fantabulous Teri:

(Except for the fact that my ass is waaaayyyyy bigger, Teri looks a little like me from the back. Don't ya think.)

Pattern: Fína Hyrnan
Pattern Source: Three-Cornered and Long Shawls (Þríhyrnur og Langsjöl) by Sigrídur Halldórsdóttir
Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow in the color "Lost Lake"
Time to Knit: less than a week

I loved this pattern. It's knit from the bottom up using a provisional cast-on. Once the body of the shawl is completed, you pick up the live stitches from the cast-on and knit the leaf border.

It took approximately 450 yards of yarn to complete this shawl. Each ball of Shadow has 440 yards.

You do the math.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Contest Winners

The winners of the Mountain Stream scarf patterns are: Vera, Ruthanne, Sue, and Colette. According to information on the Sundance Channel, the Sundance Film Festival's roots began in 1978 when,

"The first U.S. Film Festival was held in September 1978, at Trolley Corners Theaters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Organized by Sterling Vanwagenen, the first festival director, and John Earle, the then director of the Utah Film Commission, the festival aspired to be an on-going national film event, presenting a unique opportunity to attract filmmakers to Utah. The festival was built largely out of retrospective films and featured noted filmmakers, authors and actors discussing relevant social themes found in programmed films. At the suggestion of Arthur Knight, noted USC professor of film, a national competition was created to highlight emerging American made independent films; films made outside of the Hollywood system which emphasized regional stories and lower budgets. Lawrence Smith coordinated the first and seven subsequent competitions."

Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute did not get involved in the festival until 1984. So, the question was a bit of a trick but I counted all the entries, regardless of the answers.

Moving On

I'd like to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who left me comments or sent me emails about the death of my cat, Mimi. It's been very comforting and every note is much appreciated.

The past two weeks have been very difficult for me. I tried to work on a sock on Sunday, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Mimi had a habit of sitting at my feet while I knit so it’s a bit difficult to concentrate on a project now, since knitting is a painful reminder of her absence. Instead, I blocked a shawl (more info later this week) and dyed a skein of Knit Picks yarn with Kool-Aid:

(If you click on the photo, a new close-up photo will open in a new window.)

Here’s an observation. I started with 440 yards of merino wool; when I skeined it up on my niddy noddy this afternoon, I had only 360 yards. Clearly, it shrunk up considerably in the dyeing process. I’ve noticed a lot of folks are selling beautiful, tempting, hand-dyed and hand-painted yarns that I’m fairly certain are dyed from the same Knit Picks yarn I used; i.e., the yarn information is identical to that on the Knit Picks site: "100g, 440 yards, 100% merino, hand wash, #1-#3 needle." Has anyone ever measured to see if there really are 440 yards in these skeins? I'm thinking maybe there is little or no shrinkage if the yarn is hand-painted as opposed to dip-dyed (which is what I did). Thoughts? Experience?

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Mimi 1995-2006

Goodbye, Sweetie.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Knitalong and Contest

Have you seen Polly's Mountain Stream scarf??? It's lovely! She used a single skein of Douceur et Soie that Mary sent her in the unloved sock yarn swap. Perfect!

I finished blocking my third Mountain Stream scarf last weekend:

This one is quite a bit longer than the others I've knit. I used some wool/silk yarn from Blackberry Ridge and 5.5mm needles. The finished size is about 13 inches wide and 72 inches long.

I have to confess that each time I knit this pattern, I'm amazed at the magic of the Orenberg technique. Franklin recently described the technique as "pure genious" and I have absolutely no quarrel with that characterization. It truly is the simplicity that makes the technique so incredible. The Mountain Stream pattern is really not difficult to knit; I'd say it's the next step after Branching Out. And it really does take only one skein of Kidsilk Haze.

If you want give the scarf a try but feel like you need a little support, Margene and Miriam have joined forces and are hosting a Mountain Lace Knitalong. Join up and knit either the Mountain Stream scarf or Miriam's Mountain Peaks shawl. All the instructions are on the knitalong blog; just click on the link. (Miriam's shawl is not based on the Orenberg technique but it’s a wonderful triangle shawl.)

For those of you who join the Mountain Stream portion of the knitalong, I’m giving away three copies of the Mountain Stream pattern and all you have to do to win is answer the following question:

Who founded the Sundance Film Festival, which is held in Park City, Utah each year?

Send me an email with the answer in the body and the words “Mountain Stream contest” in the subject line. On Monday, I’ll choose the three winners at random from all correct entries and mail the patterns that afternoon. Good luck!

Encore vs Wool Ease

There were some wonderful comments left yesterday about the relative merits of Plymouth Encore yarn and Lion Brand Wool Ease. The consensus (with a couple of exceptions) seems to be that both pill, but Encore pills less. A couple of commentators indicated that Wool Ease also splits easily. Good to know. Thanks to everyone who left a comment; they’re all really helpful

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

E is for . . .


This is the only ball I have of this yarn and to be honest, I can't even remember why I bought it. I'm just not a big fan of acrylic/wool blend yarn; particularly blends that are more acrylic than wool. I did use some to make some bed socks for DD last year and they turned out fine. The upside to this yarn is that it is machine washable so it's good for baby clothes and afghans. It's clearly a better choice than 100% acrylic yarns like Coeur de Rouge for these items since it has a much nicer hand and the knitted fabric isn't nearly as stiff and, well, unnatural-feeling. It also doesn't squeak when you knit with it. The down side, other than the acrylic content, is that IMHO it's just a bit too loosely spun. That's the double-edged sword, of course, since I assume that's why it's softer than Red Heart. I've never knit an afghan from this yarn, but I wonder if they hold up to lots of use. Anyone have an experience?
Also, I'm no expert on Lion Brand Wool Ease, but that and Encore seem nearly identical to me; although the colorways are very different. Anyone have any inside scoop on that?

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Need A New Project?

Need a post-Olympic knitting project? I was browsing over at Knitting Pattern Central yesterday and saw some nice patterns that have recently been posted.

This lace shawl looks like an easy, portable project. And the instructions seem comprehensive and well-done. I love the edging she’s put on it. I just took a lace shawl off the needles today. Maybe this will be next. Although I should probably finish up a couple of sock projects first.

And Crystal Palace has a nice mitered squares triangle shawl. A little heavy for my taste, but it looks warm.

And this Whirlygig Scarf looks interesting. I saw the words "finish off random balls of yarn" and my heart skipped a beat. Denting the stash is always a good thing. Although I have a nice skein of Interlacements Toasty Toes that would probably work really well with this pattern.

Finally, if you want to make a Nantasket Basket for Easter, Mary at The Knitting Zone is hosting a knitalong for the pattern. You can easily register to be a member of her forum and knit along with others making the basket from March 15 to April 15.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

It's In the Bag

I'm a little sidetracked these days, but here's the post I promised last week on how I knit the top of Gwen's Via Diagonale purse.

I originally intended to use the I-cord edging called for in the pattern, but after a few inches decided it was flaring just a bit more than I liked. I then tried working a crab stitch edge and that flared, too. Since I had the crochet hook out anyway, I fooled around with a couple of other edgings and finally settled on a simple slip, stitch edge that I applied sideways:

After I completed the slip stitches, I threaded the yarn tail through a tapestry needle and drew it through each stitch (one-by-one) on the reverse side of the edging. Then, I pulled the yarn so it was taut, but not enough so the edge puckered. This made a nice, rigid top edge that didn't flare and won't stretch out of shape.

And speaking of the bag swap, I received my bag from Eliza yesterday. DD is already jockeying for it.

It's just gorgeous. Look at the detail of the beading (click on the photo to make it larger):

And the lining is a million, billion times better than anything I've ever sewed:

Thanks again, Eliza. I'm using it today and already someone has complimented me on it!

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hats Off to Amber

Thanks to everyone who has left me a comment or sent me an email about my Amber hat pattern in the March edition of MagKnits. There was a little glitch with the color chart in the morning, but Kerrie got it fixed quickly. If you printed the pattern out yesterday morning, you may want to check and see if the new and improved chart was added after you printed.

The hat is knit entirely on circular needles (for those of you who are dpn-phobic). At the end, the stitches are divided onto two straight needles and bound off using a three needle bind-off. I thought it would be helpful to show you what the top of the hat looks like:

I used the pattern to teach three people to knit just this last fall. For each of them, it was their first knitting project. Pretty impressive. Margene and Teri have also knit hats from the pattern and maybe they’ll share their photos this week. Here’s one I knit from some darker colors:

This is a fast project and perfect for charity knitting. Have fun with it.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In Which I Describe How I Made the Base of the Bag

The designer of the Via Diagonale bag has given great instructions on how to finish the bag once the knitting is complete. Those instructions include placing a piece of cardboard at the bottom of the bag to create a rigid base. I decided to use a piece of plastic needlepoint canvas instead of cardboard.

After I sewed the bottom gussets, I measured the base and cut two pieces of plastic canvas according to those measurements. Then I rounded the corners ever so slightly and whip-stitched the two pieces together. I used two pieces so the base would be stronger and I whip-stitched so the edges wouldn't poke through the bag or create a rough edge.

But, the beauty of the plastic canvas became evident when it was time to attach the base to the bottom of the bag. I simply threaded some yarn on a tapestry needle and tacked it to the four corners by running the yarn down through one hole in the plastic canvas to the bottom of the bag and then up through a second hole in the plastic. Then I tied the ends of the yarn. Et voilá:

Tomorrow I'll explain how I worked the top edge.

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Running commentary on my unending quest to knit up my stash.