Join me as I share my crafty journey with you. I continue to expand my repertoire of hobbies. I knit, sew, crochet, bead and probably most importantly am a lover of science fiction. Occasionally I even pick up a book. I play Nerd Wars for Team Stargate Command which consumes most of my time.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 7

Day Seven:  Looking Forward
One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

This could be anything from mastering a technique (broomstick lace, entrelac, etc), trying a new yarn or skill, or a long term wish to crochet only from your stash, or knit every stitch in one of the Harmony Guides. Maybe you have no desire or plans for your craft at all, no new element of knitting or crochet that you dream of mastering, in which case write about why that might be. In a year's time participants will be asked to look back to see if they achieved any goals, no matter how general, and see which house conquered the art of looking forward.

     I love this kind of thing.  After reading many other blogs this week I'm finding that my crafting is a rather organized and planned out process.  So, making lists of goals and such is something I really enjoy.  (Which is sort of strange since I don't plan and or follow through on anything else in the rest of my life.)  I want to learn to spin.  I plan to start with a spindle and maybe, if I enjoy the process, invest in a wheel.  I've already started dying yarn, so I want to get better at that and then start to use spiffy "commercial" dyes.  Eventually I want to be a part of the entire process from raw fiber, to spinning it into yarn, to dying it either at the fiber stage or the yarn stage, and then knitting an FO.  I'm calling it Total Fiber Immersion.  (More than a year from now, I want to have my own hobby farm of fiber producing animals... but that's for another post.)

     As far as slightly more attainable goals...  I want to do some more colorwork projects.  I just did my first Fair Isle recently.  I have another Fair Isle project I want to design, sort of, it would involve putting already made graphs together.  I would really just be figuring out some maths to make the graphs into a hat.  I want to try some intarsia since I'm on this colorwork kick.  I still haven't made anything truly lacey like a shawl.  I'm the proud owner of a beautiful shawl pin and I don't own a shawl.  That must be rectified.  I want to get better at photographing my FOs.  One of these days I should do entrelac since I still haven't.  So far, this year has been a goal attaining year.  I made a "knityear" resolution list near the first of the year and I think I've already knocked off the majority of it.  I would have to go check it again...

     My two and a half goals were:  Colorwork and lacy shawl knitting.  Then I wrote a paragraph about wanting to learn to spin this year.  So within the first quarter of the year I've already checked off a goal.  Sweet!

I like lists so at the end of the year I can refer to this:
-Colorwork (more faire isle and try intarsia)
-Lacy Shawl(s)  (So I can use the beautiful shawl pin I now own.)
-Learn to spin
-Improve my photography skills
-Do more yarn dying (which will hopefully result in prettier yarn and a feel for the craft)
-Play with more beads (which will hopefully result in really great looking stitch markers)

That seems easy enough, as Jeremy would say "How hard can it be?"   It's easy to attain goals when its all fun stuff I want to achieve!  I hope to have this list all checked off by December.  Until then, I'm off to play with beads, or dye or maybe yarn.....
Happy Crafting!  I really enjoyed Knit Crochet Blog Week, I hope everyone else did as well!!!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 6

Day Six:  A Tool To Covet Write about your favorite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

     If I look at everything I've either been given or purchased myself, I think I have to choose my swift and ball winder as the most valuable tools.  I use them quite often, even more now that I've become a yarn snob and I plan to use the more since I started dying yarn and have aspirations to spin.  These both will involve hanks which will then need to be caked before knitting can commence.  The usefulness is not the only attribute here, the swift is an Amish style swift made of a very pretty hard wood by Chiaogoo. 

So for me its also beautiful to look at.  It is modular, so I can take it apart and put it away, so it takes up very little room at all.  (Which is also great since I have a limited craft space.)  I would highly recommend this swift.  It was inexpensive, its totally collapsible, easy to use and pretty.  After the swift and ball winder I think my next most used tool, which I don't have enough of, of course, is the Boye row counter. 

I got two of them when I first started knitting.  (They came in a "beginners" tool ensemble with some tip protectors and three sizes of stitch holders.)  I use it for my bigger projects when I have to count rows or large numbered repeats.  Its with my dissertation sweater now.  I need to find some more, they are so handy.  I was recently gifted some beaded stitch markers which prompted me to get the supplies to make some of my own.  I use stitch markers like they're going out of style.  If I have a lace pattern, a lot of times I'll place a marker after each repeat.  It saves so much time not having to fix mistakes since I'm checking my count after every repeat.  So far, I cant say there is a tool I don't use or like.  I have found that my wrists and hands don't cramp up as much if I knit flat on circular needles.  (I found that out by accident.  My straights wouldn't fit in my project bag so I made whatever it was on a circ.)  Eventually I may get rid of a lot of my straight needles.  Most of the patterns I knit are in the round so I'm using either circs. or DPNs.  The projects I do knit flat tend to be larger things that require the length of a circular needle.  I still like my short little lucky 6s for dishcloths though.  Incase you didn't see pictures of my first foray into stitch marker making here are the ones that turned out halfway decent:

Happy Crafting!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 5

Day Five:  Something A Bit Different
It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different from how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post or write in verse. You've already stretched your wings with an infographic, now it's time to freestyle. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There's not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be. Bonus points if you manage to work your house animal in somehow.

Okay, since I'm writing these in advance I just finished looking at a whole bunch of Day 2 posts.  Many people used mood boards to plan/pick/design projects for the Mascot prompt.  I have been inspired by you people!  So today I bring you photo collages.  I found this free site on the webz.  Its pretty awesome, it does photo editing and you can pull pictures from pretty much everywhere:  Fotor.  Its going in my favorites tab.  I wont do too much intro for each of these collages since I was trying to convey a concept in each group.

Yarn Dying:

Great FO picture:

Since blue is my favorite color, I did a blue board:

No bonus points for me I guess.  (Maybe I should change my house to Bunny-piller.)  I just looked back through my notes for this prompt, I had some interesting ideas.  I wish I would have had some more time.  Two ideas that would have been fun were a food blog and a destination blog.  I'm not sure what I would have cooked/baked, but I would have detailed the recipe and all the steps.  (Maybe I'll do this at some point, I did just do that chicken dish over the weekend...)  For the destination blog I would have detailed a couple places to visit here in the city.  It would, obviously, include some yarn shops and a place or two to eat.  (Again, I may still do that at some point.)  There are a couple iconic places that are only open in the summer, I should do that.  That's going on my to do list! 
Happy Crafting!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 4

Day Four:  Color Review
What are your favorite colors for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colors you seem to favor when yarn shopping and crafting.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colors you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colors you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colors you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colors that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Now think back to your house animal - do the colors you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway - if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicolored and bright?

My favorite colors are blue and purple, generally speaking.  When it comes to knitting projects the order is purple then blue and gray makes its way in there.  (I don't know why, that's just how it is.)  I do also like a bit of green every now and then.  Okay I'm going to look at my projects, now lets see what I come up with:

Purple:  7                    

Blue:  11           

Gray:  4          

Green:  2

Variegated Combo:  9

Other:  26  (black, white, yellow, orange, pink and brown)

Apparently I'm wrong, blue wins out for the projects.  Perhaps its more recently that purple has taken over my color palate.  I went back to May 1st of last year to check the projects.

Okay let me go look at my stash:

Purple:  9 (16)

Blue:  11 (18)

Gray:  7 (10)

Green:  7 (12)

Variegated Combo:  6 (8)

Other:  13 (17)  (black, white, yellow, orange, pink and natural)

Look at that, blue again.  I went back to June of last year for stash acquisition.  Blue has been my favorite color since I can remember so its not a bad thing, like I said, I really thought I was leaning toward purple now.  I didn't count actual skeins of each color, I just went with the entry on the stash page.... maybe that would make a difference...  one sec.  Okay, the number in parentheses above is the actual number of skeins in each color, so that's more accurate now.  Blue still wins out.

As far as how color relates to House MonkBee?  I'm not really sure.  There are purple flowers in nature that honey bees would visit.  There aren't too many natural blue plants in the world.  Different species of monkeys are gray, but other than a blue assed baboon I don't think blue or purple pops up too often...  hmmm.  Also, I'm pretty sure baboons are not monkeys, I guess I need to brush up on my zoology, the Kratt brothers would be very disappointed in me right now.  So I leave you with misconception and disappointment evidently.  
I did find a cute monkey pattern on Ravelry... Monkey Jacobus.
Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 3

Day Three:  Infographic
There are many ways of conveying information on a blog; text and images being the two most widely used. Many infographics combine both these elements to provide a visual way of presenting text information.

     I used a simple pie chart maker I found on the inter webz.  The downside with pie charts and percentages is that the total has to equal 100, so I had to fudge the Acrylic number.  I actually have 15 yarns that are 100% Acrylic.  This is also only a representation of the yarns that are 100% of something.  I need to find a way to represent the blends. 

     For this one, I chose one particular yarn to represent.  I like how its called  Angora Bamboo, but Angora makes up the smallest percentage in fiber content.  Its great yarn to work with don't get me wrong, I'm just having too much fun with this pie chart maker.  You can find it here:  Piecolor.

     Remember this one?!  Quite possibly the most amazing yarn I have ever worked with!  A pie chart can't convey that unfortunately.  Alright that was a fun little exercise.  I see more infographics in my future blogs perhaps.  I have always wanted to figure out how people make those little progress bars for their ongoing projects off to the side.... 

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 2

Day Two:  A Mascot Project.
Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house. Alternatively it could be a type or color of yarn, or a single button. Whatever you choose, decide upon a project and blog about how and why it relates to your house/creature. You do not have to make this project! It is simply an exercise in blogging about how you come to decide upon what projects to make. Try to blog about the journey which inspiration and investigating patterns, yarns, stitches, (etc) can often guide you through. You may wish to make a collage or 'mood board' to present several ideas, or even sketch out your own design.

     I play Nerd Wars, which my regular readers all know, so I often have to find projects based on some open but usually vague parameters.  I always start with my queue.  I have my actual Ravelry Queue, where I keep everything nice and organized virtually and then my mental "what I need to do" queue.  I knit for other people, mostly friends and some family.  When they ask me to make something I usually churn it out in a timely fashion, but not always.  I like to fit these projects into Nerd Wars, it's sort of killing two birds with one stone.  If I'm free to make the decisions regarding what I'll be making next, I still always start with my Ravelry Queue and see what jumps out at me based on the challenge parameters.  So in this case, lets start with the attributes of these animals.  The bee is a small insect that flies around.  It is attracted to brightly colored flowers and lives in a hive with other bees.  So lets break it down further into pattern ideas.
-Small size
-Colors; black and yellow for the bee itself, bright colors for the flowers it visits
-Flower stitch patterns
-Honeycomb stitch patterns for the hive it lives in
-Sets (of items) for the worker bees that all work together in a hive
-I have to throw this in, since I play for Team Stargate in Nerd Wars.  The Wraith live in Hives that operate much like a bee hive, if this was a Nerd Wars prompt I would tie my project into the challenge with some info about the Wraith from SG:  Atlantis. 

Monkeys also live together in groups.  They are intelligent, with the capacity to learn and be taught.  Most of them live on the ground and in trees.  They have prehensile tails that serve essentially as a third arm.  Many species are used in scientific study, most notably Rhesus monkeys.  Random medical tidbit here; the "Rh" portion of a blood type actually stands for Rhesus since the blood group D was originally found in Rhesus monkeys, then humans later upon comparison.  So again lets break this down further.
-A set or group of something since they live in groups
-A project that would be a new technique for me, something I would have to learn
-Leaves or leaf stitch patterns to represent the trees they live in
-A tail cozy, or pattern that has fringe (or something like fringe) to represent a tail
-A red blood cell to represent the medical info I just described.  (The antibody that makes you either Rh Pos or Rh Neg is adhered to the surface of the RBC, so this is actually fitting.)

     I like multi-layered projects myself.  I think its because I tend to over think things and then they become rather complex.  So, if I were to actually pick a project I would make sure to pick one project that would fulfill both these animals.  So why don't I actually pick a project.  I'm leaning toward a stitch pattern that looks like both flowers and leaves, or has both in it.  So several patterns come to mind:

Something Lacy Shrug

Burnished Leaves 
Spring Time Dishrag
The shrug is at the top of my queue and I even have yarn picked out for it, but the dishcloth would fit into one of the current Nerd Wars challenges and a KAL group I'm a part of, so I'll probably do the dishcloth, if I can get it done in April...  As I was looking through my queue again, I found even more patterns that would work for this concept and for a couple of the others I narrowed down.  Here is the one that made me think of monkey tails:

Coolest Scarf Ever 

One of these days I'll get around to this one. 

Happy Crafting!

We Interrupt This Broadcast.....

     Okay so technically all the Knit and Crochet Blog Week posts are interrupting my "normal" broadcasting posts.  I spent my weekend here in the city and I actually did some things!  Huzzah!  On Saturday the hubs and I went to a gun show.  I wont go into that too much because of the current political climate and all.  I want my blog to be fun and not make anyone angry.  All I'll say is we both had fun and learned some things.  Then we went to Texas Roadhouse (a steak restaurant chain) and pigged out on yummy cow.  On Sunday I got to do the shopping.  I picked up a skein of Lion Brand Fisherman's wool, in the natural colorway so I can do some more dying.  I plan to split it up into at least four skeins since its 400 something yards.  I just want to practice the whole dye, steam, cool assembly line thing.  I may do more than four skeins... hmm.
I picked that up at Wal-Mart.  For the most part I don't tend to get yarns there anymore, but I want the yardage more than nice stuff.  I have to say it did feel softer to me than it did previously.  I think its made in China now too, which is another turn off.  Later I went to A.C. Moore.  Its a chain craft store.  They sell pretty much everything you can imagine that would fall under the general term "craft."  I prefer it over Michaels, which is another chain I have access to here in the city.  Anywho, they had the Patons Angora Bamboo I picked up before, remember my third Whitecaps hat?  So I got some more since the Angora Bamboo has been discontinued.  I got two more skeins of Urban Grey and two skeins of Everglade.
I left one skein of gray, two more skeins of the green, two skeins of a dark maroon color and three skeins of fluorescent eye searing pink.  I nearly took the pink.  It may have been eye searing but it was pretty, and would have been good for some baby items.  So if you live in or near Syracuse, go quick to A.C. Moore on Erie Bvld and grab those other skeins.  I have two different dye lots in each of my colors.  (I should have looked at that when I was in the store, duh.)  One of the greens looks to be fuzzier than the others, so its probably older.  Oh well, I'll see what happens when I knit it up.  The yarn at A.C. Moore was just the side trip, the real reason I was there was for beading supplies.  Yup, I did it.  I got the tools to make stitch markers!  I made some too, as soon as I got home!  Can you tell I'm hooked already?
The three tools came as a set.  They are all basic but essential to beading.  The needle nose pliers and the round nose ones especially.  I got the box organizer thing too.  Its great.  Off to the left are the head pins and the 12mm jump rings.  I sort of organized the beads by color.... not really.  The big beads came on strings, they were on sale so I got six strings.  I had the clear glass seed beads, I bought them a while back thinking I would do beaded lace...  The dark orange seed beads I actually found, (at work on the floor as a bracelet) they're mine now and I'm putting them to good use.

There's a close up sort of...  So as soon as I got back I just went at it, willy nilly, with not much of an idea what I was doing.  It took a bit but I finally figured out how to make the ring under the jump ring look good.
These are the first few I did.  I don't really have the whole uniform length thing down yet or getting the wrap close to where the beads end.  I got better though as I went here look:
See how the rings actually look like rings and the length is a bit more even.  Funny story about why I have seed beads under the blue beads on the blue and silver ones.  The blue beads have a larger opening than the other beads.  When I was finishing the wraps on one the blue ones the bead came right off the bottom of my head pin...  I crammed it back on and then kinked up the head pin inside it so it would stay put.  So I've already made a design modification based on product testing ;)  I also found out that glass beads will shatter if you accidently squeeze them too hard with the needle nosed pliers...  (That's why there's only one seed bead at the top of that one black and silver marker...)  I've also learned that even when your in a rush to get to work, its very important to put made up markers away, because the cats will knock everything down and you will loose one of your "good" markers.... 'cause that totally didn't happen today....  (I'm just seriously hoping the marker bounced under something and one of them didn't eat it...  Yes, my cats are that dumb...)  Now I really want to get some more colors of seed beads, so I can change things up some more.  Also, I did do the combinations with somewhat of a concept in mind.  The black and gray ones with the silver bottom are supposed to be reminiscent of Jack once he goes silver and they switch to black BDUs. 

 The lavender/blue and silver ones are reminiscent of Samantha and her civilian outfits.

She tends to have a floral print kind of thing going on as well as the solid colors.  (Extra points for anyone who can name either of these two episodes ;) or at least narrow it down to season... no cheating.)  The turquoise and copper markers are reminiscent of Atlantis.
Seriously, I love this conference room, with the swiveling panels you walk through... if I ever get to be the boss someday and design my office space, this will be the conference room, complete with round table seating and total interconnectivity.

Okay, on to the rest of my weekend.  Yes, there's more.  We got some more mice yesterday too.  Hubbs likes to keep pet mice.  (I had some back in high school and I got him hooked, now the mice are "his")  Our last one died a few weeks ago.  Mice generally only live a year or so.  We tend to keep ours for over two years.  We're very careful to feed them a diet designed for mice/rats and avoid any and all sugars.  We got four females, they're still pretty little.  We were also able to get colored ones this time.  There is a solid brown one, her name is Desert Eagle.  There is a brown and white striped one, her name is Glock.  Then there are two white ones, their names are Smith and Wesson.  (Notice a theme...)  I named the last four after yarns so I guess we're even now.  I'll make an attempt to get pictures.  I also cooked yesterday, which I don't do as often as I should anymore.  I should have gotten pictures of that too.  It turned out pretty good and I really didn't remember what I was doing it had been so long.  Alright back to Knit Crochet Blog Week.  Enjoy.
Happy Crafting!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 1

Day One:  The House Cup. A bit like Harry Potter, but not quite, this year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses. Don your favorite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you will be in.

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock's Tail.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One FO and Some News

     As promised I have a new post.  I recently participated in the Team Stargate Command swap.  I briefly mentioned something about yarn and perhaps a cowl...  Now that its over and my partner has gotten her package I can talk about it.  This was a secret round robin style swap so I knew who I had but she didn't know I had her and I didn't know who had me.  My victim swapner was one of my co-captains LidiDi.  She was interested in some long color change self striping yarn so I used the two skeins of blue Mochi Plus to make a cowl.  I also got her a skein of Noro Kureyon.  LidiDi and her husband like to play board games and card games with other friends of theirs.  After I played Star Fluxx for the first time I asked her about it in our team thread, since she had mentioned regular Fluxx awhile back.  She had not yet played Star Fluxx so, remembering this conversation, I picked up a deck for her.  Once I knew she got her package I also bought and gifted her the only pattern on her Ravelry wish list:  Dwarven Battle Bonnet. 
     That's it for what I sent, now for what I received.  The teammate who had me was rosecottage.  She is extremely crafty, along with her family apparently.  She sewed the messenger bag that everything came in.
It has a Stargate patch on the front!  Inside was a bar of chocolate, a box of strawberry Jello.  (Yes Jello, its a Stargate inside joke thing.)
A skein of yarn dyed by a local craftperson.  It is a Pima Cotton from Yarn Hollow.  She made me a slouch hat in a gorgeous blue color.  She also made me beaded stitch markers.  She based the colors of the beads on Goa'uld Mother ships and on the Ancient installations.  They are super pretty.  Last but not least she had her Dad turn a shawl pin from solid Walnut.  It is absolutly beautiful.  Mongo especially liked it as well.  He helped me open all the pieces of my wonderful package. 
I'm especially excited about the stitch markers.  I've been wanting some because they are pretty and useful.  I've also been hoping to learn how to make them, now I have examples to use as a jumping off point.  I cant resist shiny pretty things like beads.  If I learn how to make them I can also give them away in future swaps, yea!

     I've acquired more stash.  I had some skeins of Lion Brand Homespun on my destash page on Rav.  I had a hit on my last skein, she wanted to do a trade.  She offered me Lion Brand Incredible in exchange.  I've never used a ribbon yarn so I thought what the heck.  I can always use it like ribbon and I liked the colors.  So here is the Incredible:
Now that I have my new laptop I connected my two email accounts to my start screen so I'm actually checking my email on a regular basis now.  This may not actually be a good thing though, since I made a impulse buy because of an email from WEBS.  They had a really great sale on some discontinued colors of Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool.  I've used Liberty Wool before, its great.  Its a phenomenally squishy worsted weight superwash wool.
     On to finished and nearly finished projects.  I really need to get my butt in gear, its already the middle of the month and I haven't submitted anything.  I have completed one item though.  I haven't even touched my dissertation, which is a bad thing since I'm not even finished with the top yoke yet.  I have a feeling this is going to be an epic fail, unless a miracle happens.  Now that its actually starting to look like spring I have no desire to knit a wool sweater for winter.  Although, I could wear it over my T-shirts when I leave work in the evening.  It still gets chilly once the sun goes down even in the summer.  The joys of living in New York State. 
     The Rios Coffee Kerrier is the only project I've competed so far.  I used some of my left over Malabrigo Rios.  It turned out great, its Malabrigo, how could it not!  Its been done for a few days but I've been too busy to submit it.  Since its left over yarn I'll be putting it into the "We are made of stardust" challenge.  I used the pattern Roasty Toasty Coffee Kerrier.  Its a quick knit that takes very little yarn. 
I have one Peridot mitt almost done and I've started the second since I took pictures.  The bottom cuff and the top band are berry stitch.  The berry stitch is fidly, I mean uber fidly even after it gets going.  Its also very open so these wont be super warm.  That works out okay though since I'm using Elsebeth Lavold Cool Wool which is a cotton/wool blend.  They will work great for in-between seasons and indoors when typing or what not.  The first one is a bit snug.  It fits okay on my left hand, so I'm knitting the second one looser in the hopes it will fit my right hand.  They may grow during blocking because of the cotton content too.  They aren't using much yarn either, I don't think they'll take the whole skein.  I can make a second pair a little bigger if I need to.  This pair will be going in the "Color Therapy" challenge.  I'm also doing these as my April project for the Fingerless Glove Fanatics group.

I have some ideas for the other projects.  I think I can fit the extra credit project from the Knit Crochet Blog Week into the April Dishcloth KAL and into Nerd Wars.  That would be the ultimate trifecta of awesomeness!  Until later, Happy Crafting!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fourth Annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week

(Apparently the banners are no longer available...)

     I just wanted to let everyone know, I'll be participating again this year.  The topics have already been announced, so I have some ideas brewing.  They sound fun.

     If you want to participate or are curious about what this involves please go to www.eskimimimakes.com.   

     One of my "normal" blogs will also be forthcoming.  I have recently acquired more stash and finished an item for Nerd Wars.  I don't have any pictures as of yet though.  So back to your regularly scheduled crafting...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dyeing Yarn

     So, as I've said I took the plunge last weekend and dyed yarn for the first time.  It was really fun.  I don't profess to know very much about all the difference techniques and processes but I will walk you through what I did and what I've learned through my research.

     I used this tutorial, that I found on Pinterest, as my guide:  Kathrynivy.com.  There are several tutorials out there.  There is a group on Ravelry called "A Kool Way to Dye", they have an extensive list of tutorials in the four basic food grade dying techniques.  So I'll start here with my explanation.

     There are four basic "dyes" that are food grade.  Koolaid, Wilton's Cake Gels, Easter Egg dyeing tablets and food coloring.  These dyes are non-toxic and because of this the tools and implements used in the dying process can still be used for food preparation afterwards.  This of course is an asset when dying with children or experimenting just for fun like I did.  These types of dyes only work on animal based fibers and nylon.  So wool, llama, alpaca, mohair, angora and silk.  Cotton takes a much more caustic process and acrylic is another technique entirely.  So if this is something one wants to try just make sure your base yarn is animal derived or it wont work.  Dyeing animal fibers requires an acid based technique.  These four methods are all acid based.  Acids commonly used are vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid.  The acid is either part of the dye or added to the dye bath at some point in the process.  Since I used a PAAS Easter Kit I'll go through this particular process, which does differ from the other methods a bit.  I would say find a tutorial for the individual process you plan to use.

     The first step is to pick a yarn that will be suitable.  It should be white or light colored and of an animal base or nylon.  Superwash wools also work for this process, in fact they accept dye faster than non-superwash and there is no risk of felting during the process.  (There is heat involved in all these processes.)  For these two reasons I chose a DK weight Superwash wool.  Trendsetter Yarns Merino Cable in white.

     The next step is making a hank, if the yarn is not already in hank format.  This as you can see was a wound skein so I needed to unwind it.  I used my swift to do this but many tutorials said to wind it around the backs of two chairs.  The circumference of this hank will factor into the way the final colors play out when knitted or crocheted.  Since I'm not experienced in how all this works I cant speak to that specifically I just know it matters.  I went with a small circumference in the hopes I would wind up with large chunks of color.  The hank needs to be tied in a couple placed to prevent it from tangling up.  I tied it in four places.  I used the ends for two of the places and used two leftover pieces of cotton for the other two.  Make sure to tie these loosely so the dye penetrates underneath. 

     Next the yarn must soak in water for at least a 1/2 hour.  Dry yarn will not accept dye evenly.  It is also recommended to add a small amount of vinegar to the soak.  (Vinegar used throughout this process should be white vinegar, cheap low quality is fine.)  The entire amount of yarn needs to be submerged so I covered it with a dinner plate to keep it under the water.  While the yarn was soaking I mixed my dyes. 

   I used three color tablets and mixed them up according to the directions on the back of the box.  One tablet dissolved in three table spoons of vinegar.  I purchased condiment bottles from Walmart for the dye.  I put the color tablet and the vinegar directly into each bottle.  Once I no longer could hear fizzing and I couldn't find any remnants of the dye tablet left I added the 1/2 cup water with a funnel.  The tutorial said to dilute the dyes to ones preference so I added a 1/4 cup more to each bottle.  In hind sight I should have left the purple alone since after it dried it is on the light side for my preference.  Originally I was only going to mix up two of the colors that came in my kit, the purple and the teal.  I did the purple first then the teal.  Once the teal reconstituted it looked very green to me, so I also reconstituted another tabled that I thought might be the teal.  That one turned out to be a dark green.  (I find this to be the downside of Easter Egg tablets, they are nearly impossible to decipher finished colors from.) 

     The work surface should be covered with newspaper or a garbage bag or both.  We keep an old towel on our counter next to the sink, so I covered that with a garbage bag.  I then put down a long strip of plastic wrap.  The plastic wrap must be large enough to wrap the hank in for the steaming process later.  Squeeze the water out from the soaked yarn.  It doesn't have to be super dry but soaking wet yarn is not good either.  Lay out the hank on the plastic wrap.  I laid mine out in one long tube instead of in a circle.  Then started squirting the dye where I wanted it.  I started with purple.  It is important to not squirt too much and wind up with a puddle underneath the yarn.  The colors can mix this way and wind up muddy.  The yarn will soak up the dye where you put it and wick it up as well.  If you want even color make sure to get all parts of the yarn, inside, underneath, that sort of thing.  I went with the very green looking teal next.  I left a white space between the two colors so they could meet and blend through wicking action.  This worked really well.  Purple is made of two colors and the yarn will soak up the colors at different rates.  Blue was taken up first so the blue seen on my finished yarn is the part that wicked the purple.  Purple is one of my favorite colors so I put purple on the other end too.  I did one squirt of the dark green and hated it so there is only a small blob of the dark green.  (It did lighten up after drying so its not so obvious now.)  One I was done squirting and manipulating the yarn I called it done.  I think maybe I should have let it sit a little to soak up that purple a bit more, I'm not sure.

     Heat is essential in the dying process, heat is what sets the color.  The heat portion comes into play in different places in all these different processes.  In the Easter Egg tablet method its here once the dye is placed.  So I filled a pot with a few inches of water and put my burner on medium to get it to a boil.  While it was heating I put a piece of tin foil over top and then cut some holes into it so the steam would come through.  (I did this since I don't have a steamer.)  I put some sag in the tinfoil so there would be room for the hank of yarn with the cover on the pot.  I wrapped the hank of yarn in the plastic wrap and once the steam was flowing out of the holes consistently I placed the wrapped hank over the pot.  (It was a smallish put so I coiled it around a bit so it would fit.)  
Since I'm a genius sometimes this is when it occurred to me I should be taking pictures...
My plastic wrap is red because I bought it right around Christmas, so you cant actually see that yarn like this. 
     The yarn must steam for at least 1/2 hour.  The heat will make the yarn accept the rest of the dye and set the color.  This method is colorfast so if its done properly these colors will be permanent and not fade or wash out.  I set my timer to keep track of the time.  I let it go just over 30 minutes.  It did start to smell hot.  Nothing was burning though, I made sure.  Some of the dye dripped down into the boiling water so I think that's where the smell may have some from.  Steam is very hot so at this stage tongs or oven mitts are required.  Once the time is elapsed remove the yarn from the steamer, carefully.  I placed mine in the empty sink.  Now it must cool back down, leave it in the plastic wrap.
     The next step, once the yarn is completely cooled, is to rinse it out.  This is when you'll find out if you steamed it long enough.  Unwrap it from the plastic wrap and place it in room temperature water.  (The water should not be colder than the yarn and NEVER put in under running water.)  If the dye starts to run wrap it back up and steam it longer.  The dye didn't run on mine.  I swished it around just a bit to remove any residue.
  Next step is to let it dry.  It should be out of direct sunlight and away from pesky animals...  (I moved it out of the light once I took the picture.)

  The final step it to make something out of it and see how the colors work out.  This one I haven't completed yet.  Right now its sitting around taunting me since I haven't found the perfect pattern yet.  Here it is all dry and twisted back up.
The colors lightened up a little and the dark green splotch is a little less obvious.  The pink strand is from one of the cotton ties I used, see how it didn't take any of the color.  Overall I call this a success.  It was fun and I hope to do more at some point.  I didn't use all the dye so right now they're in my fridge.  I still have three more tablets that haven't been reconstituted.  I just need to get some more base yarn.  I hope you guys find this interesting and maybe even try it out yourself.  Its great fun!  Until later Happy Crafting!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New Laptop

     I got a new laptop!  I got a new laptop!!!  I can type and see what I'm typing and link pictures and post from my own computer and not my brothers...  I got a new laptop!!!

     Okay, so you've read the exciting news by now, on to brief knitting news.  I've started my first Nerd Wars project, its a Roasty, Toasty Coffee Kerrier.  I'm using my left over Malabrigo Rios.  Its nearly complete already and its taken very little yarn, so I may make two... or three.

      I forgot to mention in my last post that one of my friends from work gifted me an old crochet edgings book called Elegant Edgings to knit crochet and tat.  It was published back in 1969 by Coats & Clark.  There are a few knitted edgings and some filet crochet.  There are some really beautiful hairpin lace ones in the crochet section.  These are designed for place matts, pillow cases and towels.  I'm going to be trying some of these edgings here in the future.  I'm pretty sure this little booklet is out of print at this point so I think I can publish the patterns here on my blog...  I need to do some research on that.  I don't want to do anything illegal.  I did notice upon glancing through that the abbreviation for yarn over is just O instead of YO, but other than that all the knitting patterns seemed decipherable.  It sort of sounds fun to do some edgings, I can make a spiffy new kitchen ensemble for my MIL's new spiffy kitchen perhaps.

     Since I hate posting without pictures of some kind I'll leave you with a rinsing in sink picture of the yarn I dyed.  More on the process later, I'll devote a whole post to my haphazard experience. 

Until later, Happy Crafting!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Some Finishes and My First Attempt at Handpainted Yarn

This should prove to be interesting... since my laptop died earlier this week I am now depending solely on the Tab.  So Round Two of Nerd Wars ended back on the 28th.  I submitted a total of five projects to four challenges.  I've shown you two WIPs so on with the show.  

     I only got to talk about the infinity scarf I had been working on previously since I didn't have pictures yet.  Now I do and I have to say, I love how this one turned out.  I haven't blocked this yet and I don't think I'm going to.  I really like how the lace looks as is.

I used this cowl for the Flexible Schedule challenge.  I started this the last day of February so it was a WIP on the first of March.  This round the FS challenge was the cross nerdery challenge.  We had to find a flashback or backstory as our inspiration from another nerddom.  It proved to be tricky for a lot of people, especially since this category focuses on projects already started.  I "copped out" in my opinion and used the series Once Upon a Time.  Dont get me wrong, I love this series and I'm familiar with it, but each episode has backstory on someone.  I just had to choose an episode that would work for my cowl.  I used the backstory on Cinderella.  I used the event horizon of the Stargate for my tie in since the unblocked lace looks like water shimmering and flowing.  This was the Mochi Plus that was gifted to me in the Nerd Wars Swap last tournament.  I plan to give it to my swapee for the Team Stargate Swap.  I thought that would be rather fitting and I'm pretty sure the recipient will like it.  The Mochi is an 80/20 Merino/Nylon blend put out by Crystal Palace Yarns.  I've used it several times, it is very soft and great to wear close to the skin.  

     Along with the cowl I submitted the Indiecita Hat to the FS challenge.  Here it is all done.

The pattern Donnie's Hat details a couple variations.  The brim can be either a 2x2 rib or a 1x1.  Then the slipped stitches can either continue straight up to the top or slant and twist.  I went with the 1x1 rib and the slanty twisty slipped stitches.  The brim is supposed to be knit for 20 rows and then folded up, but I don't like to wear my hats like that.  Since it was for me I only knit a 10 row brim so the patterned portion is longer.  I ended up making a tad too long, but it gives me the option to pull it all the way down on my head when its quite cold and keep the back if my neck warm.  As soon as I finished it I started wearing it,  we had several snow falls and some evenings in the 20s about that time so I can attest to it keeping my neck warm.  I sued Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Indiecita.  It is a beautiful colorway and Malabrigo is amazing to work with.  I didn't have to tie this into the challenge or have a team tie in either, which is good since I had no idea how to do that.  

     I used the Snowflake Hat for the Water challenge.  We had to use one of the states of properties of water for our inspiration.  I used crystallized water as my inspiration.  This was my first foray into Fairisle.  Its a colorwork technique that uses two, or more, colors simultaneously to make designs.  The colors not in use are carried along the back.  There is no twisted when switching back and forth between colors.  I had that wrong in my last post.  I thought i was doing Intarsia where there is twisting.  The hat came out fine.  It just needs some blocking to even everything out.  

I used two colors of Cascade 220 Superwash Sport.  It is very soft and squishy.  I plan to get lots more of this.  Its a great yarn to have on hand for whatever project crops up.  Its inexpensive and its washable, how much better can it get!  I used one of my two go to hat tie ins, Sam or Teal'c.  There is photographic evidence of them wearing hats, so I use it a lot.  

     Alright onto things you haven't seen yet.  For the Architecture challenge I made another hat.  Did I not say this was the March of hats in my last post... I digress.  I made a baby hat. This round our team unity was to make a baby item since all of us seem to have babies showing up in our real lives.  This I'm hoping will be big enough for Christina's daughter.  She will be nearly six months old when winter hits after shes born.  I have no idea how fast babies grow thought soooo, I may make her something less growth dependent like a blanket, which was my first idea anyway.  My inspiration were the domes on the Kremlin spires.  

I used the leftover Berroco Vintage Colors from my sweater Abalone.  I used Shifu the Harcesis child of Sha're and Apophis as my tie in.  I used him while he was still a baby.  I think he was the only baby I hadn't used yet as a tie in.  

     Last but not least I pulled one last project from my behind for the T-shirt challenge.  Last Saturday I took a friend yarn shopping.  We made a stop at AC Moore, since shes just starting out.  While there I picked up some cotton mill ends annd some discontinued yarn.
The yarn is Patons Angora Bamboo .  Its a worsted weight blend of Bamboo wool and Angora.  I wanted to try it out right away to see if I liked it.  I'm still hoping to go back and get more.  It turns out its a really great yarn and its half off now that its been discontinued. So, I made, wait for it, another hat. Yes folks, another hat, and its even another Whitecaps.  

At least this time its gray.  I found a T shirt to use after I started the hat.  That's why I say I pulled it out of my behind.  I sort of stretched the challenge a bit.  I wasn't sure they would let me use it.  The patterning of the lace looks like replicator blocks to me, no lie, I just tend to be nuts.  I drew it out, maybe that helped.  Since this was another hat, I used Teal'c as my tie in.

     I have acquired some more yarn as I said I stopped at AC Moore.  Here are the cotton Millends and the Patons Angora Bamboo.

The cotton looks like it might be DK weight.  Its rather loosely spun, which is why they're most likely Millends.  I needed to pick up the yarn for my swapee so I did that Sunday.  I got some white wool while I was there for the dyeing fun I was planning for this past Saturday.
I'm not going to go into detail about why I picked up Noro, I'm pretty sure my swapee doesn't read my blog but I don't want to risk it since its a secret swap. 
Here is the wool I picked up.  Merino Cable is a DK weight superwash.  I figured it would be a good idea to start with a superwash so I wouldn't have to worry about felting.  I was going to go into more detail about the dyeing process, but this post is turning out to be long and I'm in a rush today.  So it went from that to this:
I have it skeined back up now.  The purple lightened up once it dried and the dark green splotch faded a bit as well.  I'll get some more pictures at some point.  I used Easter Egg dyes, which are color fast and food grade so I could use my kitchen with no danger.  More on all this later.  I found it to be really fun and I want to do some more in the future.  Until later (once I get a new computer since this is impossible), Happy Crafting!