Sunday, June 11, 2017

Inch by inch

I admit I am struggling a bit to make any progress on knitting. I do have an excuse, though: the garden and yard. Also, granddaughter. And dog. And I'm in the process of buying a new car.

Top down, fingering

In an effort to finish something fiberish, I've committed to knitting an inch a day on one pair or the other of these two pairs of socks.

Toe up, DK

Ordinarily, I cannot work on two pairs of socks at the same time because I have only enough US1 needles for one pair. But the DK socks are knit on US2 needles. A flaw in my self-limiting knitting strategy there.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gifting quandary

My general philosophy regarding gifts of any kind is that, once they've been given, the recipients are free to do what they will with them. This means they can spend gifted money however they see fit, put gifts on display or in the attic, or even re-gift the gifts if they want. Once the gift is out of my hands, it must be let go.

About a year ago, I gave a friend a handknit dishcloth made of inexpensive cotton. The yarn wasn't even freshly purchased, just some leftovers I had laying around. Still, I was a bit taken aback when she IG'd that she had unraveled her "favorite dishcloth" to satisfy a late night knitting urge.

According to my gifting philosophy, this is perfectly okay. But when I considered giving her another handmade gift this year, I paused. Was I going to be putting hours of work into something that might subsequently be deconstructed?

Has this ever happened to you? Do you have standards regarding who is knit-worthy? What kind of recipient reaction crosses the line when it comes to handmade gifts?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Summer slow down

I'm not much of a knitter during the summer except for cotton. This year not even cotton is calling to me. There are several projects on the needles, several more on looms, lots of ideas floating around, etc. But there are also end-of-school-year events and gardening and dog walking and gardening and car shopping and gardening.... You get the idea. Hopefully, I will be posting some FOs soon. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Helical yes!

Another pair of tube socks for my g'daughter, from leftover yarn. When it became apparent I would not have enough of the self-striping 'Jollyville', I decided to give helical stripes another try.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Co Poste Yarn Striping, in 'Jollyville' and Simply Sock in 'Silver Lining'
Needles: US1
Modifications: tube socks - no heel

While knitting helical stripes is fun, I'm not sold on the look of them, perhaps because of the color combinations I have ended up with. The jog between color changes in the self-striping yarn is more apparent, too.

I do like to match the stripes when using self-striping yarns, which eliminates counting rows. One error I made this time, however, was to cast on the toes at a color break, which meant the woven-in end did not match. Oh, well! Wabi sabi!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Oz revisited

Still procrastinating. This time I decided to knit my g'daughter some socks with the leftover 'Oz' yarn. The problem was her feet have grown. For my socks, I knit rounds of 72 stitches, for her mom rounds of 64 stitches, so I took a gamble and made g'daughter's socks rounds of 56 stitches. I also knit them as tube socks - no heel - so theoretically she will be able to wear them for years.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Co Poste Yarn Striping in colorway 'Oz' and Simply Sock in 'Silver Lining'
Needles: US1
Modifications: no heel

I started these socks multiple times, once before realizing there was not enough 'Oz' yarn for a full pair, then several times as I tried to knit helical stripes, first with 'Silver Lining' then with 'Natural', but neither worked for me. Finally I settled on bands of rainbows interspersed with bands of 'Silver Lining'.

They are a trifle large, but I anticipate g'daughter will continue to grow. Children tend to do that, ya know.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Procrastination hat

I have several large knitting projects to wrap up, so of course I started something new, something fun, something quick. Think of it as a palate cleanser.

Pattern: Great Horned Hooter, by Valerie Johnson
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in 893 'Ruby' and in 871 'White'
Needles: US6 for ribbing, US7 for rest
Modifications: Used worsted instead of DK yarn, consequently upped the needle size, used two needle sizes, added a half inch of depth

My Fair Isle leaves a lot to be desired, but I do enjoy watching the image emerge.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oz socks

I really love the base and the colorways of the self-striping Poste yarn created by Simply Sock Yarn Co. My craft room includes a fair number of fancy sock knitting books, but lately I just let the yarn do the talking via a plain vanilla toe-up pattern. Easy peasy.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Simply Sock Yarn Co Poste Yarn Striping, in 'Oz' and Simply Sock in 'Silver Lining'
Needles: US1
Modifications: none to speak of

I favor primary colors, so these rainbow stripes are eye candy to me. Sometimes my camera does not pick up the different colors of self-striping yarn very well, so I tried a different background and a close up. Must work on my photo skills.

Today may be the last day (fingers crossed) of wool sock weather. We didn't have much of a winter, so the hand knitted sock collection didn't get its usual workout. Still, I'm ready for spring.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't get too excited

As I've said before, my sewing skills are minimal, but I do find sewing by hand to be somewhat relaxing. "Somewhat" because of that lack of skill. Who takes three yards of thread to sew on three tiny buttons? Moi.

This little bear kit was purchased from the face painting lady who pops up at most of the local farmers markets. I thought it would be simple enough for my 6-year-old granddaughter to manage, but that was overly optimistic of me. She came across the kit recently and begged me to complete it. G'daughter has the pukes today, so I hope this gift will cheer her up.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Baby's got a brand new bag

I'm not much of a seamstress, but I figured I could sew the output from learning to weave on a triangle loom. Besides, I planned to felt the bag, so expected any "quirks" to be hidden. And that is what happened.

I used what I guess is called a running stitch to join two pairs of triangles to form the front and back of the bag. I wanted something relatively invisible so the fabric would not look pieced. And that is what I got (after felting).

To join the back and front, I used blanket stitch on three sides. For the flap, I'm guessing the stitch I used is called overcast. Across the purse opening, single crochet provides reinforcement. Fringe finishes off the flap; in retrospect, I should have left the fringe longer. Five-stitch i-cord became the strap.

I haven't felted much, but I remembered enough to put the purse in a mesh bag. Then I tossed it in with the regular laundry, intending to check on it after five minutes of agitation. I forgot all about it, so it went through the whole cold water wash cycle.

I half expected the result to be doll-sized. While the loom is ostensibly 8" on a side (okay, on two sides - the "top" is longer), the material contracts to about 7" when it comes off the loom. After my lackadaisical felting, the purse is about 6" on a side. Perfect for a six-year-old, me thinks.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Doggy couture

Weaving on a triangle loom is fast and easy. Doing something with the resulting triangles - not so much. A logical project seems to be dog scarves, but then one must figure out how best to attach the triangle to the dog in a canine friendly way.

This denim scarf in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky was an experiment in trying out a different yarn weight on the 8" triangle loom. The fabric tends to be a bit dense, but otherwise chunky is an option. I picked up stitches along the "top" of the triangle, used a knitted cast on to add straps to either side of the triangle, then knit back and forth enough to have a strap of sorts. (Suspended bind off.)

A bit short, so I made sure the next one, in i-cord, was much longer.

This scarf is in the mystery yarn from class, which is a "heavy" worsted (aran?) On the loom, the weave looks rather open, less so when it comes off the loom, then even less so once soaked and blocked (and I use "blocked" rather loosely in this instance). The strap is 3-stitch i-cord, which is a bit tedious to knit, but definitely one solution for tying a scarf on a dog.

My daughter is the one who likes to dress up her dogs in bandannas, so I am going to let her product test these versions. There is another scarf in progress, which I hope to get to work with a D-ring closure. We'll see how that turns out.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Big Watson Sweater

Dogs have weird bodies, yet we try to design sweaters for them that are based on sweaters for four-leggeds. And every dog body is different, so patterns invariably don't quite work. In these parts, it does get cold occasionally (although lately at unseemly times, like NOW), so those of us with short-haired dogs persist.

Pattern: Big Penny Sweater, by Corrinne Niessner.
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, in "Denim"
Needles: US10.5
Modifications: see below

Watson is a medium-sized dog, but the medium fleece jacket I bought for him, while long enough, does not go around him very completely, as he has a deep chest. So I knew I would have to make at least some modifications to the pattern. I started by mixing and matching the stitch counts for both sizes in the pattern, going for the smaller number for length and the larger for girth.

And yet I still had to add inches to the girth while extending the back and also ending the main part of the body soon enough so that he doesn't pee on it. I didn't seam the top inch or so, as it is too bulky with his collars. My plan to reinforce the leg holes also had to be abandoned, as the holes are a bit snug and misaligned.

At some point I will probably custom design a sweater for him, but since winter is almost over (DESPITE THE SNOW FALLING FROM THE SKY TODAY), I will postpone that project.

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's hip to be triangular

Traveling to Portland (INDIANA) for the Jay County Fiber Arts Fest and Spin In is becoming an annual event. I don't really need more sock yarn (yet I bought some) or roving (yet I bought some, llama and yak and Shetland). I certainly don't need another loom, BUT an 8" one was provided as part of a class I took on continuous weaving on a triangular loom. That was so much fun I ordered a larger 24" triangular one from the instructor (shipment TBD).

The materials fee for the class paid for not just a small loom but other tools necessary for weaving a triangle: a latch hook, a weaving needle, and a plastic fork, plus wool yarn.

Learning to continuously weave on a triangle loom is a little more complicated than learning to weave potholders, but once you get the idea, it is easy and fun. Like other weaving, an even tension is important, but maintaining clean selvages is a non-problem. The weave looks fairly open on the loom, but closes some once the piece comes off, then will close more so once the fabric is washed and blocked. (Don't look to closely at the pic above, as there are a few "quirks".)

I made two samples in class last Friday, then the next day redid the first one (to eliminate those quirks) and followed it with three more, all in about an hour or so. I plan to sew them together and add a strap, to create a cheery pocketbook for my granddaughter.

What else can you make with woven triangles? My first thought was kerchiefs for dogs, as my daughter likes to dress up her two pooches. With a large enough loom (the largest we saw adjusts from 3' to 7') one can weave large shawls all in one piece. But actually, triangles may be combined in all sorts of ways to make a variety of objects and combined with knitting or crochet to make even more. One limitation is the fixed nature of the pegs, sort of like a rigid heddle loom with only one heddle. But like I said, it's fun and easy.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Workshop aftermath

As I mentioned in my previous post about a dyeing workshop I recently attended, one of the dye sources was black beans. The sample I took away from class was a light blue, but the sample I brought home turned out light green. I'm guessing one of the wooden spoons was contaminated with copper (from the mordanting of a different yarn sample).

The hibiscus tea flowers I brought home from the workshop were disappointing - the result was taupe. The photo below shows undyed yarn lying on top of unmordanted dyed yarn. It is not a black-and-white photo.

SO... I decided to overdye the yarn with henna, which I purchased at Fresh Thyme in their hair dye section. I chose the variety with only henna in it, using 4 ounces of henna for 8 ounces of Lambs Pride wool. Then I threw a couple of one-ounce skeins into the exhausted dye bath. The result is two lovely shades of brown.

After "cooking" the henna, I strained the dye bath through some cotton cloth before adding the yarn. Since the cotton cloth was basically partially dyed from this step, I threw it into the exhausted dye bath as well. The results were uneven (and more tan than this photo indicates).

One thing I learned from this post-workshop experience is not to leave yarn in an eight-ounce hank when dyeing. I was too lazy to rewind it into two four-ounce skeins, but eight ounces is just too much wet wool to wrestle with, especially when rinsing, then spinning in a salad spinner. I considered experimenting with different after-dye processes, but by the time I reached this point, I was done with dyeing... for a while.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

That's DYEING not dying

When I told my son I was attending a dyeing workshop, he heard "dying" workshop, as in death and dying. When I've mentioned fiber fests to some people, they envision eating a lot of oatmeal. I guess one must be "in the know" to know what I'm talking about.

So, this dyeing workshop focused on dyeing with (somewhat) common dye stuffs that may be found in one's kitchen, or at least at a local international grocery store. We dyed with red onion skins (using three different pre-mordants), black beans (alum pre-mordant), dried hibiscus flowers (alum pre-mordant and different pH afterbaths), annetto powder (alum pre-mordant), and turmeric powder (no mordant, iron modifier). Here are the results:

Dried hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus sabdariffa). The sample on the left is with an acid modifier, the sample on the right with an alkaline modifier, the one in the middle with no modifier.

Annetto powder.

Tumeric powder. The one on the left is with no modifier, the one on the right with an iron modifier.

Red onion skins. Left to right: iron pre-mordent, copper pre-mordant, alum pre-mordant, exhaust bath alum mordant (one pot method), exhaust bath alum mordant (one pot method) and iron modifier, further exhausted bath alum mordant (one pot method).

I'll post photos of the black bean results later. Since dyeing with black beans takes DAYS, we finished a batch the instructor brought with her and started a new batch to take home to finish ourselves.

I also brought home the hibiscus flowers from the dye bath, to see if I can extract more dye from them; they are cooking on the stove right now while a skein of Lamb's Pride soaks in plain water. I'm going to skip the mordant. Another hint to follow re dyeing with hibiscus flowers is to not rinse the yarn right afterwards but let it dry for a day first. This seems to produce a deeper color.

While the class started with certain goals in mind, after a while we were free wheeling, hence trying the one-pot method of mordanting (the mordant is added directly to the dye bath). Also, one participant brought RFD (ready for dyeing) cotton cloth, to experiment with.

The instructor also dyed some sari cloth in one dye bath, then because she did not like the results, overdyed it in another dye bath. The results of natural dyeing are unpredictable, which is part of the fun. There are no mistakes, just unexpected results.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Spending my children's inheritance

I've been trying to limit my weaving experiments to stashed yarn because I have a shitload lot of it. BUT I am such a newbie that I find myself wanting to just follow a pattern instead of experimenting. Toward that end, I purchased a couple more books on weaving (Weaving Made Easy, by Liz Gipson, and The Weaver's Idea Book, by Jane Patrick) and some YARN.

What we have here are two spools of Cotton Clouds Aurora Earth 8/2 unmercerized cotton ('Copen' and 'Light Turk'), and two skeins of three colors of Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton ('Blue Ice' which looks like a prefect match for 'Dusty Sky Blue' which is what the pattern calls for, 'Grape', and 'Tropical Breeze').

I won't sample these yarns since I am working from a pattern with the yarns and colors called for, BUT for when I do want to sample or experiment, I now have an Ashford Samplet loom.

And two Kromski pickup sticks. I know some people make their own pickup sticks, but I am too impatient, especially when it comes to working with wood. I do feel bad that I am "tainting" my weaving equipment with something non-Ashford but these were what the shop had on hand. (JOKE)

To give you a perspective on the size difference between the Ashford 24" and the Samplet, here is a pic of them together.

Quite a difference! So besides having something smaller to sample and experiment on, I also have a lap-sized portable loom. Huzzah!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Knitting and weaving with glass

Most of my art knowledge is due to my SO. He instigates trips to museums and shares various and sundry art books from the library. The most recent one he brought over is Glass Art: 112 Contemporary Artists, by Barbara Purchia and E. Ashley Rooney. These artists are far and above Chihuly (who I consider the Thomas Kinkade of the glass art world). It is amazing what can be done with glass.

Of most interest to us knitters and weavers are Carol Milne, who knits with glass, and William Zweifel, who weaves with glass. Their work is simply mind boggling.

These poor examples are my attempt to photograph photographs in the book, to give you a taste. Visit their websites for an eyeful. I would *love* to see these artists in action.

Friday, February 17, 2017

I get a hat too

I thought I was done knitting hats, but I guess I had at least one more left in me, for me.

Pattern: Watch Cap by Judith Durant
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, colorway 901 'Cotton Candy'
Needles: US7
Modifications: Increased depth by 1"

This pattern is about as simple as can be and produces a nice stretchy hat that fits just about any adult. I made this one deeper because I like to turn up the bottom while still covering my ears.

When you SSK, do you slip knitwise or purlwise? I do the former, but wonder if the latter would be better. Comments?

So maybe I am done with hats... for now. The fact that the weather forecast calls for 60 degree temps tomorrow definitely discourages knitting almost anything in wool. Baa!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another learning experience

After finishing my ruby red sweater, I wanted a matching scarf. Instead of knitting one, however, I decided to weave one, in a herringbone pattern of red and white. I went through the motions, but the result was not quite what I wanted.

To warp for herringbone, one alternates two threads of each color across the loom. I thought the scarf would look nice with solid red borders, so I warped just red on either end, not realizing the result could not be solid red unless I executed something like clasped weft technique, which I was not prepared to do. Oh, well.

Another mistake was using Cascade 220 Superwash. It is just too stretchy, especially as a warping yarn. That is why the herringbone looks rectangular instead of square. It took me quite a while to adjust to wefting in two colors, too, so the selvages are wonky.

The selvages also looked unfinished to me, so after some experimentation, I added a single crochet border.

Another thing I don't like is how dominant the white is. Even though the yarns are the same, the white takes over, I presume because it is more reflective than red. The scarf has no drape, either, despite some rough treatment in both the washer and the dryer. Using worsted weight for both warp and weft is too much.

All along the way, I kept second guessing my decision not to sample the yarns and pattern. As a knitter, I am used to wasting very little yarn, whereas weaving produces a lot of waste. Creating a sample on my 24" Ashford would have wasted as much yarn as the finished sample would take. My solution to that dilemma is to purchase ANOTHER loom, fittingly called the Samplet. I pick it up on Thursday. Then I will have no excuses not to sample.