Saturday, March 21, 2015

When You Start Knitting a Gift the Day After the Baby Arrives

I finished the dyeing I wrote about at the end of my last post. I was going for a tonal (that's fancy dye talk for uneven) blue/green result.

I ended up with a tonal green. I started with a full immersion of the hank in green to get a base. As soon as that dye was absorbed, I pulled hank out of the water and let it cool enough to be handled.

Then I twisted it into a skein and dropped it into the water with some packets of blue KoolAid. I left that on the heat for a while and then to cool overnight.

The next morning I looked at what I had and it was not enough color, so I untwisted it and then twisted it again so different parts of the hank were exposed. I also twisted it more loosely so more yarn would be exposed to the dye.

After that cooled, I decided there still was not enough color even though I really liked the highs and lows of the blue. I decided to untwist it and dye the loose hank in another round. But I didn't have enough blue so I added more green to the final dye.

It turned the whole hank green. The blue KoolAid only has Blue 1. The green KoolAid has Blue 1 and Yellow 5. It's amazing to me how much influence the yellow has even though it "should" be a relatively weaker color.

But green is nice so ok.

While working with the yarn, however, I noticed that it was very easy to pull it apart. It hardly took any strength at all. That got me worried that this wasn't the best yarn for socks. (Of course, I've already made two pairs out of the sleeves and sent them to WoolAid. All I can do now is hope that they last.) And, of course, I can not repeat what might be the same mistake.

Also, my coworker's wife had her baby on Thursday and I was thinking maybe I should get working on a gift for them. I already had found this book
for them (we work at a haunted house, remember) but kept thinking I should add a hand knit as well. But they were having a boy and sorry boys, you're just not as much fun to knit for.

On Friday evening, however, while reading the forums on Ravelry, I saw someone's version of this sweater:
and I decided it was cute enough to make it worth the effort. It's Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down. I'm using the free version, but she also has a full version (more sizes, better tested) available for sale.

This morning, I picked up the green yarn and started to knit. After a couple inches, I decided the fabric was too stiff and my gauge was too small. Rip, rip, it went. Then I started again on a larger needle. After four rows, I decided it still was too small and went up another size (without ripping).

I'm still not quite at gauge, but the fabric feels good, so I'm going for it.

Besides the cute result, I also decided to start this sweater because so many Ravelers who made it said they got it done in a weekend!! Challenge accepted!

Here's what I have so far:
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more knitting to do...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

More of All the Things

I don't feel like I've been getting very far on any of my projects (hmm...maybe a consequence of having so many going?), but I have updates on all of them for you.

Last time I showed you this Wool-Aid sweater, I only had a few inches done on the back!
I've had a lot of meetings this past week and since the sun was shining, I knit over some lunch breaks while sitting in my portable sunroom (aka my car) and so I've made some good progress. It doesn't hurt that I like to knit this yarn.

I told you I was going to add stripes, and you can see that I did. I placed them just below the armhole. All the pieces are knit and I have sewn the shoulder seams. Next up is to knit the collar. I have to get that set up tonight so I can work on it on the way to and from church tomorrow.

I got the 200+ stitches cast on for the skirt I said I was ready to start. I knit about 10-12 rows in the smallest size needle (a real pain in the hand) and had some doubts about the size.
So I threaded two cables together so that I could stretch the knitting out and try it on. My doubts were well-founded. It looks like I can reduce the stitch count by 30. So much for swatches! I haven't quite had the fortitude to rip it out and restart. Yet.

My orange tulip socks are coming along:
 I only work on them at home when I can follow a chart. Can't quite make out the tulip pattern? Here it is:
I assume you can see it now. I think I'll start the heel after this pattern repeat. I've decided to make these shorter than my usual socks. They have a much lower percentage of wool and I'm thinking they'll make good spring/fall socks. I've finally come to realize that not all of my socks need to be warm enough for dead-of-winter.

After finishing re-spinning the grey Jacob wool, I have done more on the Blue Face Leicester. My spindle got full enough that the wool was getting unruly on the shaft, so I wound it onto the niddy noddy.
I'll do the rest of the fibre separately. I have 75 yards done and it weighs one ounce, so that should be about half. (My scale isn't particularly accurate.)
I don't know if it's because of the colour or the fine weight, but I keep thinking of doing some lace with it. Single ply isn't the best for lace, though, and I'm not sure I can trust my yarn to hold up to the blocking!

I've been itching to dye something and with the Wool-Aid sweater almost done, I'll need another project to take out and about. I want to switch back to socks because they're a lot easier to do away from home.

I've made a couple pair of socks from this wool from a GAP sweater
and could use it again. There is just no way I am making another grey pair. So I have it soaking right now and am going to try for a multi-tone blue/green colour. We'll see how it works!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Second Chances

When I'm knitting, I know I can always take it out. Undo it and start over afresh. (Except with mohair or angora--those are just better to get right the first time.)

I thought spinning was different.

I told you before that I was spinning some grey fibres and was hoping to use one of them with some red cashmere for a pattern. I started spinning some Jacob fibre and it just seemed to want to be thicker than I could use. So I put it aside and spun some Blue Faced Leicester. That was spinning a nice thin thread that I thought would really work.

But it was white and I couldn't let go of the idea of using grey.

I don't remember if I watched the Craftsy class on plying yarn before or after this, but in the class she made the point that you can always go back and respin something to add more twist (or unspin it some if it's too twisted). At some point when I was spinning white fibre and wishing for grey, I tried the grey again and was able to get a much thinner result. So I spun the rest of the grey, but didn't finish the yarn with a soak or a blocking.

What I did do was wind it into a ball and then redid the spinning process. Yes, I had to untwist 3-5 inch sections, draft them and then retwist them, but I have to say it went faster than working from a raw fibre and I was getting the result I wanted.
On the left (above) you can see some of the original yarn and on the right is the newly respun yarn. It made a big difference! I have no idea if this is "allowed" in spinning, but I took the chance that if there are no knitting police and no quilting police (and many people have assured me of this), then there are no spinning police about to bust down my door and take me a way in handcuffs. (At least, they haven't yet.)

In the first spinning I had 75 yards of a yarn the maybe averaged 12 WPI (wraps per inch, a measure of thickness). After the second spinning I had 130 yards of a yarn between 16 and 18 WPI.
I soaked it last night, gave it a couple of good snaps while still damp, hung it to dry and rolled it up this evening:
 I was time to swatch again.
Although it's still not perfect (you can see how the sides bulge out where the grey is), it is much better than my last swatch and I think it is good enough. The grey is used in smaller amounts (no more than four rows at a time) and in places where a bulge won't really harm (sleeve cuffs and cowl collar). The pattern calls for grey stripes at the bottom hem too, but I had already decided to omit it there.

I did most of the respinning in one go on Sunday and didn't realize I was using the same spot on my thumb to pull on the fibre to draft it. By the time I noticed, the whole pad of my thumb tingled and felt numb. Once I was aware of it, I used different areas of my fingers, but my thumb is taking a while to heal. Unfortunately, it's the same area on my thumb that I use to hold a knitting needle so I've had to limit my knitting time this week. Today was pretty good, but it's Wednesday and my thumb still tingles when I push on it! Live and learn.

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