Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Knitting on the hoof

There was some kind of knitting thing in Freimann Square a while back. The only trace that remains is a bit of finery for General "Mad" Anthony Wayne. The scarves seem fitting for the kind of winter we have had here.

Monday, March 02, 2015


A week or so ago, I attended another workshop on natural dyeing, this one including indigo. I've been a little obsessed with the idea of dyeing with indigo ever since I read Kay Gardner's post on shibori, a.k.a. resistant dyeing. Not so obsessed to actually try it, but obsessed just the same. At this workshop, we worked only with yarn, but I learned how to dye with indigo, so when the itch must be scratched, I am ready (as soon as I accumulate the necessary equipment and ingredients).

In the previous fiber dyeing workshops I have attended, we mordanted the yarn before dyeing. In this one, we learned a one-pot method whereby the mordant was added to the dye pot. Either way, the yarn must be soaked beforehand. The instructor supplied one-ounce skeins, enough for each of us to have five. (That's a lot of niddy-noddying!)

The first dye batches we did were marigold and cochineal. The former produced a golden mustard color. The latter initially resulted in coral rather than red, probably due to the fact the cochineal was wrapped in cheesecloth; when simply added to the dye bath, it produced a rich red.

Then it was time for the indigo. We had two pots going, one for blank yarn, one for overdyeing some of the already dyed yarn. Indigo is fussy, but magical. The dye bath looks greenish yellow, as does the yarn when first pulled out. But contact with oxygen in the air quickly turns the yarn blue, right before your eyes. If you are not satisfied with the shade of blue, the yarn can go back in the pot repeatedly.

I chose to overdye the coral skein and one of the mustard ones, the latter producing a lovely green.

The instructor also tried dyeing with some turmeric root that is now available at the local food co-op. It produced a pale yellow that I like better than the mustard gold.

Here are the class rsults: indigo on the left, then marigold overdyed with indigo, then cochineal overdyed with indigo, then the two shades obtained from the cochineal, and in the back the marigold.

I had to skidaddle at the end of class for grandma duty. While driving the g'daughter to my house, I told her what I had been doing all morning. Of course, she wanted to dye some yarn, too. So I dug out some blank sock yarn and Kool-Aid, and we dyed our own. Being four, she did not quite get what we were doing, but I hope I am planting seeds for the future.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

It will be okay

I've been marching along, working on the Easy as Pie blanket, squaring up the circles. Only four more to go! But I was beginning to worry that the squared circles would not lay flat when done. Then I got the bright idea to block one and see how it turned out.


Picking up a UFO after such a long time is problematic. I could not remember if I had already switched to the Irish cottage knitting style when I started (I had but had not yet learned to upsize the needle to make up for tighter stitches). While seeing if the pattern specified how to M1 at the points, I realized the slipped stitches were supposed to be slipped knitwise; I'm not sure I did that, but I am now. I want to do my best, but some days my best is not very good. Since this is a blanket for my 4-year-old g'daughter, and it will remain here at my house, I'm not concerned about perfection. Next time I will do better (I hope).

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fixed object

When my SO first brought me his injured Fibonacci vest, I thought he had snagged it on something. On further inspection, I realized that the damage occurred where the individual rounds of the button/neck/bottom band began and ended. Did I do a lazy job of weaving in ends? Did the fact I skipped blocking the vest allow the ends to work their way loose? Was this just too stressful a spot to begin and end the rounds (upper right shoulder)? No one - least of all me - knows.

I was slow to repair this, primarily because I was not sure how without completely removing the band, something I was prepared to do if necessary, but I really did not want it to be necessary. Eventually, I undid the bind off and tinked back two rounds (which saved me from having to remove buttons and redo button holes). Then I tied together the ends of rounds that were still intact, added a "patch" to the mostly still intact round, then reknit two rounds and the bind off. (Fortunately, I had made a note in Ravelry about the bind off, as I had done a yarn-over bind off around the bottom.) I carefully wove in the ends and blocked the thing to help weld those ends to the fabric.

Were I to knit this vest again - or if I had to remove the entire band - I would do one (or more) of the following:
  • Knit the band in one color instead of changing colors each round
  • Start the rounds at a less stressed spot, like somewhere around the bottom
It's still cold here (-4 F when I got up this morning), so the vest is now doing its job of keeping my SO warm. He says it feels like a big hug.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Not fashion forward

I guess one could call this a "grandpa vest". Nothing special, just an exercise in top-down knitting. I also used up the last of the Wool-Ease Chunky left over from this project.

Pattern: Sleeveless Sweater by Barbara G. Walker
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, colorway 115 'Bay Harbor'
Needles: US11
Modifications: Stuck with a plain vanilla design, for simplicity's sake and to avoid running out of yarn.

This project was quite the learning experience. For one thing, I started with a different pattern and different needles before settling on the final ones. I struggled with gauge. I learned how to do an invisible cast on (eventually) and how to get the arm hole borders to lay flat by the armpits. Using a store-bought vest to help me with things like width, arm hole size, etc., I sized the knitted vest to the external dimensions of the store-bought vest, forgetting that the chunky yarn would subtract from the internal dimensions, so the fit is a bit snug. I redid the bind off for the neck and arms multiple times, finally settling on EZ's sewn bind off, and the arms are still a bit binding.

BUT. It is comfortable and warm, if rather plain and dowdy, perfect for wearing around the house or under a jacket.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Mystery hat solved

In an incredible stroke of foresight, I actually wrote down the name of the pattern for the hat project that was languishing in the car: Graham. It's a slouchy hat that has already been claimed by my daughter, since for some reason she has been hatless this winter.

Pattern: Graham, by Jennifer Adams
Yarn: Plymouth Encore, colorway 520 (dark gray)
Needles: US7 and US9
Modifications: none

Graham is a super easy knit with easy to follow instructions. And instead of abandoning the knitter to "continue in pattern", Ms. Adams provides explicit directions for the crown. If you need a quick, stylish hat, this is the one to knit.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

What a diva

It looks like I forgot to post about Tuckernuck, probably because this sweater just about killed me provided me with many learning opportunities. Cascade 220 Superwash is a perfectly serviceable yarn, but almost every time I picked up the project, I found myself wishing I had held out for the recommended Karabella. Getting gauge was nearly impossible, and going up needles sizes resulted in a rather loose fabric. The instructions definitely could have been more detailed, especially regarding the sleeves, which was compounded by this being my first time with capped set-in sleeves. In the end, I had to block it twice, to get the width to work, then also had to reinforce the buttonholes to keep the buttons from sliding out. I am extremely happy... to see the last of this sweater.

Pattern: Tuckernuck, by Elinor Brown
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, colorway 1949
Needles: US7 and US9
Modifications: None that I can think of

My g'daughter is frequently contrary when it comes to modeling knitwear, but today she put on a show.