Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sanders Mittens Finally Finished


The mittens described in this post sat in the UFO pile for an extremely long time. They are finally finished and I am very pleased with them.
Yarn: Dale of Norway Falk 0090 Black 48.4 g.; 6027 Turquoise 22.3 g.; 8426 Green 15.0 g.
Needles: 2.5 mm. dpns
Pattern: Sander's Mittens from Folk Knitting in Estonia
Begun: July 29, 2007
Completed: February 20, 2011
Size: 9 5/8" long and 4" wide. The thumb is 2.5" by 1.5"; I think this is a child's medium.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Drum Card Miracles

I received some mystery fleece last fall when no one bid on it at the GLASG (see sidebar) raffle. I think it was leftover from the Color Connects event in March of 2009.

I tried hand carding it but the work was slow going because the fleece was rather matted. At the end of May 2010 and again in June 2010 I took advantage of Open Studio Night at The Urban Craft Center in Santa Monica. On Open Studio Night non-members may attend and use the studio equipment and library for free.

I used the drum carder to turn this:


into this, which is a carded batt,

and then into this, which are 2 nests of sliver dizzed off of the drum carder and one small batt of fiber that didn't diz off.

I need to work on my dizzing skills but I'm very pleased with the result of my efforts. I even had some help when a 5 year old boy and his 3 year old brother turned the crank on the drum carder for me.

The colors aren't good in the last photo. The nests should look similar to the batt in the center photo. Watch this space for a photo of the singles I'm spinning on my spindle.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Shetland Spinning & Lace Knitting

In May I traveled up the coast to Whidbey Island, near Seattle, Washington to attend a three day workshop on Shetland Spinning from fleece to lace. It was taught by Elizabeth Johnston who came halfway across the world from Shetland and Martha Owen who came across the US from North Carolina where she is a resident artist and instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown.


We washed and processed Shetland fleece, tried to spin it as finely as possible and began designing our own Shetland style lace shawls. Elizabeth and Martha were fantastic teachers and a thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the weekend. Now I want to visit Shetland. For years I have wanted to attend the John C. Campbell Folk School.

This is a photo of a shawl Elizabeth designed and knit out of Shetland fleece she spun and dyed with indigo:

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Dyeing Cakes

For Valentine's Day my mother sent me a Valentine with a $20 bill tucked inside. I promptly spent it on Gail Callahan's new book about dyeing yarn and fleece which I bought from Nancy at Custom Handweaving.

I have read quite a few (and own several) dyeing books but I learned many new things from this one and am pleased to have it in my home library. Thanks Mom! One technique Gail describes that I had never seen in a hand dyeing book before is dyeing yarn while it is wound in a ball or cake. She shows how one can inject dye into different locations in the cake to create a multicolored yarn.

Usually I make a skein of yarn before I dye it and this "dye in the cake" idea intrigued me. I decided to dye some cakes of yarn using immersion dying in the hope that I would get a semi-solid effect. I used some off-white 80% acrylic and 20% wool yarn I had frogged from a thrift store sweater and dyed the yarn in the microwave in canning jars. I used the four basic colors of liquid food coloring--red, yellow, green, and blue--and a vinegar/water solution.

I chose acrylic/wool because I wanted to use the yarn for the class I teach at the local library.

Here's what the three quart and one pint jars look like in the microwave:


Here's what the four balls looked like after they were dyed:


And here's what the "red" cake looked like after it dried and was put in a skein:


Not surprisingly, the color is pale. You can't dye acrylic with food coloring. Only the wool took up the color.

I like the technique but I will need to experiment more with wool. Because I used a mostly acrylic yarn the color seemed to "sit" on the yarn in places and required a lot of rinsing which was impractical with a cake of yarn and, consequently, I had to skein up the yarn to open it up for effective rinsing. Not having to skein yarn was one of the features that attracted me to this technique in the first place. In addition the yarn took a while to dry because air can't circulate well when the yarn is compressed into a cake.

Positives:
-You don't have to skein up the yarn in order to dye it which is wonderful for those with no niddy noddy and swift and those in a hurry.
-Leaving the yarn in a cake greatly reduces the risk of felting during the dyeing process.
-You don't need a large container to hold a cake of yarn. You can dye yarn in a canning jar and a saucepan. Just be sure to elevate the jar so that it isn't sitting directly on the bottom of the pan or it might break.
-No plastic wrap is necessary which makes this a "greener" process. Usually I color a skein, wrap it in plastic wrap and steam it; I don't steam it in a jar because it is hard to stuff a skein into a jar. With this method I can put each cake in its own canning jar or larger glass container and place the jar or container in the steamer rack of my dyeing pot. (I only use the microwave when dyeing with food safe dye.)
-This would be a fun way to dye with children who might get overly enthusiastic with skeined yarn and make it hopelessly tangled.

Not So Positives:
-It is difficult to rinse out a cake of yarn. I assume, however, that when dyeing 100% wool the dye solution will exhaust and little rinsing will be necessary.
-A wet cake of yarn takes a while to dry.

Clearly more experimentation is in order. I especially want to determine whether I can use this technique to produce a semisolid.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blue Dorset

I have added spinning to my skill set, although at this stage in the process using the word "skill" is a bit of an overstatement. As with any endeavor, however, I improve the more I engage in it.

Kathy who, among other things, processes and sells fiber and related products (here is a link to her etsy store, Katrina's Wool World) , responded to a post I put on Ravelry. Out of the kindness of her heart she sent me for free! some beautiful Dorset batts. They were two different but similar shades of blue so I borrowed the drum carder from the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild (see sidebar) and combined them.

First I tore color A in half lengthwise and ran it through the carder to fluff it up. It had become slightly compacted during shipping. I ended up with two batts totaling about 40 grams:

Next I divided color B into three sections and formed three batts totaling about 60 grams.

I then created a 5 layer high sandwich with alternating colors.


I divided the sandwich into four lengthwise strips and ran each strip through the drum carder once. I did not want to over process the fiber because I wanted to keep the beauty of the variegated blues. I pulled the finished fiber directly off the drum carder using a spice jar cap as a diz. The final photo shows the bumps of fiber ready for spinning.

I intend to make this into a three ply sock yarn. With 100 grams of fiber I should have exactly what I need if I spin it fine enough. Thanks again Kathy, the fiber is beautiful and wonderfully sproing-y!

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Helmet Liner

The Sand and Sea Knitting Guild (see sidebar) held a charity knit along in November, 2008 and I chose to knit this helmet liner. I will donate it back to the person at the Guild who is in charge of charitable donations.

Details:
Pattern: Helmet Liner from Citizen S.A.M.
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino Color Chestnut Brown No.00231, 79.3 g. total
Needles: US 6 for the ribbings and US 8 (5.0 mm.) for the rest
Begun: 11.8.08
Completed: 12.2.08 except for weaving in the ends and blocking
Notes: I used a provisional cast-on for the face so that the ribbing would be ridgeless.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Swallowtail

I love wearing and just looking at my Swallowtail Shawl (closeups here) so much and I enjoyed knitting it so much that very shortly after I completed it I cast on for another. This hasn't been as quick a knit but has been at least as satisfying. I'm again using Kaluund Classic Two, this time in "Wisteria." I am enlarging the shawl, hoping to use up as much of two balls of yarn as possible. This is a wonderful travel project because it is small, lightweight, and keeps your interest, but isn't too complicated to knit on in public.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Completion Monday

I love those Monday holidays. On President's Day I completed two more projects, a pair of mittens in periwinkle mystery wool and a brioche stitch scarf in cranberry yarn recycled from a thrift store sweater. I made the mittens for myself and will probably donate the scarf to charity.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Obama Mitts & Wristwarmers

So named because I finished them during Obama's acceptance speech on election night.

Details:
Pattern: Hand/Wristwarmers from Last Minuted Knitted Gifts. I've used this pattern twice before, here and here.
Yarn: Hand dyed "Fisherman" yarn, 39.4 g. total. I've used this yarn before too, here.
Needles: 3.5 mm. (U.S. 4) dpns
Size: Woman's medium. 7" long, 3" wide, unstretched.
Begun: 9/23/08
Finished: 11/4/08
Notes: Cast on was 36 stitches. I added a thumb gusset as described in this post. I again forgot to reverse the twist. I made them so short because I was afraid I'd run out of yarn. Instead I had enough left over to make the matching wrist warmers shown below. They had a cast on of 40 stitches and I used the same needles.
I gave the mitts and wristwarmers to my cousin, Sandy, for Christmas.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cotton-Ease Log Cabin Complete

The second log cabin blanket is complete. The Cotton-Ease washed well but I'm not confident that the ends will stay in place.

Here it is lounging on a chair on our sunny patio. This photo captures the color the best.

This shows the reverse side.

Details:
Pattern: How To Log Cabin from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I cast on 20 stitches and knit 25 ridges on the public side for the center rectangle. After that I added 10 public side ridges to each strip.
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Sugarplum 144, a discontinued color. I used 5 skeins and had a small amount left over. The final blanket weighed 489.2 g.
Needles: Denise Interchangeables in size 7 (4.5 mm.)
Size: 31 inches by 31 inches after machine washing and drying
Begun: July 21, 2008
Finished: November 2, 2008
Notes: Even though quilt-esque aspect of the log cabin design is obscured when using one color, the design is still visible and gives some needed structure to the blanket. Knitting with only one color was easy and resulted in fewer ends to weave in which always enhances a project in my opinion. I added a three stitch knitted on i-cord border.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Warmth Sent to Cheyenne River Reservation

One of the charities I support is the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Last year there was a mitten blitz challenge on our Native American Support Yahoo Group . We were challenged to make 8 pairs of mittens in 2008. I only managed to knit 7 pairs but I sent them off along with 3 hand knit wool hats and three hand made scarves. I also sent some warm clothing that was not handmade.

Some of the mittens are described here, here, here, and here but I never created an entry for the green felted mittens, the toddler mittens with the green stripes or the wool hats. The knitted red scarf is described here and the other two, crocheted by my mother, are almost identical to this one. They all have attached cards stating the fiber content and care instructions.

The mittens were especially fun to knit and I look forward to participating in this year's challenge.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Alpaca Shetland Triangle

I've been knitting--I just haven't been posting. Here is a sample:

Begun in January with some Classic Elite Inca Alpaca I got at the Fairview Knitters' post-Christmas swap (thanks, Heather). I'm using my new Harmony interchangeable needles (thanks, Mom) in size 5.5 mm (US9).

As usual, it doesn't look too great before blocking.

Blocking opens up the lace beautifully.

This shows the corner detail during blocking. I added two repeats to the border pattern to use up as much of the yarn as possible and to increase the size of the shawl.

In my haste to get this wrapped for my friend's 60th birthday party on February 3rd I failed to take a finished shot. I'll have to track her down.

Another winner from Evelyn Clark. Project details when I have time to post again.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sometimes Better Than Socks

Washcloths are better than socks when it comes to portable projects. I plan to donate this to Socks for Soldiers.

Details
Pattern: 4 Corners Dishcloth, located in the side bar of this blog, using a cast on of 25 stitches.
Yarn: Sugar n Cream in Black 00002, 68.2 g.
Needles: 4.5 mm. (US 7) Addi Turbo 16" circulars.
Size: 11.5" by 11.5".
Begun: 7/14/08
Completed: 9/23/08
Notes: I need to find a new pattern. I like the rounded corners but the grafted area always looks wonky. Our soldiers deserve better.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Is There a Cure for Startitis?

At the end of 2007 I reviewed my works in progress, realized to my horror that I had 36, and decided to bring the total down to 12 by the end of 2008. I planned to accomplish this by only beginning a new project after 3 old ones were complete.

Not surprisingly I haven't stayed on course: a number of new projects have been started before the requisite 3 old projects have been completed. But the good news is that I have completed a decent number of projects in the past 9 months, 19 projects in fact, which is only 5 short of the 24 project reduction goal I set at the end of last year. Will I be able to complete 5 more in the next three months? Certainly.

The bad news is that I've started so many new projects that my total of current projects is 31, only 8 of which are listed on the sidebar. Several have only an hour or so of work left in them and several others need to be frogged before they can be removed from the WIP list but others are will take many hours to complete. Is there a cure for startitis?

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Square Log Cabin

I made this blanket with Mission Falls 1824 Cotton using the log cabin technique described in Mason-Dixon Knitting. I started out using stash yarn but had to purchase more yarn for the last three rounds which made this an expensive baby blanket. It has a wonderful drape though and I think it is sturdy enough to last through all of a child's imaginative play.

Details
Pattern: Joseph's Blankie of Many Colors from Mason-Dixon Knitting, revised to be knit square.
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in 6 Sea #402, 4 Maize #209, 2 Chicory #401, 5 Jade #303, and 2 Indigo #404.
Needles: Denise Interchangeables in US 7, 4.5 mm.
Size: 38"by 38" after machine washing and drying.
Begun: 9/28/07
Completed: 9/28/08
Notes: I added an i-cord knitted on border. I love this pattern but it is extremely difficult to calculate ahead of time how much yarn you'll need of each color. I ended up with two extra balls of the last three colors (jade, maize & sea) because I overbought. The two rounds of maize are the same color but a different dye lot. The color difference is exaggerated in the photo.

The number of balls of each color might be edited in the future after I sit down with everything to determine what I bought and what is left.

The blanket is quite heavy and certainly not for travel. I doubt I will make another worsted weight baby blanket, especially a cotton one. I think sport or dk weight yarn is best for blankets.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

A Kerry Blue Saturated With Memories

The Kerry Blue Shawl is one of my oldest WIPs. I began it as part of a KAL on the About.com knitting forum. That forum is where I joined the online knitting community when I first got back into serious knitting in late 2004. I send my thanks to the many wonderful and helpful knitters I met via that forum, especially the one who posts as MousePotato who was so generous with her advice. She agreed to lead the KAL, introduced me to Emily Ocher's circular cast-on and was extremely informative in too many ways for me to describe here.

This shawl traveled with me through one of the most painful experiences of my life--my father's illness from metastasized melanoma and subsequent death. I carried it with me during the summer of 2005 while my father was in the last stages of his illness and I was flying home to Texas every few weeks. Because the lace patterns line up and are easy to memorize it was the perfect travel knitting.

I also knitted on it at while staying in Texas, sitting with my father in the den while we watched television together and talked and later, by my father's bedside, after he could no longer walk and a hospital bed replaced his easy chair. I especially recall one night toward the end of his life when I stayed up all night until my brother relieved me at almost dawn. Working on the shawl kept me awake and helped to relieve the heartbreak I was experiencing. My father died a few days later, by which time I had returned to California.

I know this story is sorrowful but this shawl does not represent sorrow to me. It is a tangible reminder of a time when our family gathered together to care for and say goodbye to a man we deeply loved and admired and to support our mother who lost her best friend and husband of 54 years. I knitted on an ocean wave lace edging because my favorite family holidays as a child and as an adult were spent at the beach.

Here are the blocking shots. The process was hard on my back but it was a joy to see the lace reveal itself as I stretched out the blocking wires. Neither shot captures the color. I'll try for accurate color when I do the project post.


(The dark horizontal ridge visible in the bottom photo is the hem of one of the towels I placed under the shawl.)

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Friday, September 26, 2008

My First Noro

This is another project that sat in a WIP bag for a long time. Now it is finished well before our "cold" weather arrives. I made this for myself.

The photo below shows the entire scarf but the color is washed out. The grass is actually green.


This inside shot shows the colors more accurately:


Details:
Pattern: Noro Scarf designed by Jared Flood.
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden in color 225, 4 skeins.
Needles: Addi Turbo 16"circulars in US size 7, 4.5 mm.
Size: 6.5" by 75"
Begun:
June 4, 2007
Completed: September 23, 2008
Notes: This took so long to finish because I had to do the end of the scarf three times and once I hit a snag on a project it rests semi-permanently in the "fix it" pile. Unlike Jared, I used the same yarn throughout and at the end two of the colors coincided, thereby destroying the striped effect. I tried reversing the order of one but that merely created coinciding colors in another location. I finally removed some of the offending yarn. The scarf is plenty long nonetheless.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marching Fingerless Mitts

My niece plays in a marching band and her hands get cold at those night time football games. I made her some fingerless mitts in one of her school colors. I hope they keep her hands warm but are flexible enough to enable her to play her instrument with ease while wearing them.

The color is more accurate in the photo below:


Details

Pattern: Hand/Wrist Warmers from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 in color 23, 53 g.
Needles: Brittany Birch size 7 (4.5 mm.) dpns.
Begun: September 10, 2008
Completed: September 23, 2008
Size: Woman's medium, 6.5" in circumference and 9" long relaxed.
Notes: Using the same pattern, I made these for my son in the ribbed style and, although we liked them, we agreed they needed a thumb gusset so I added one this time.

A set of two knit stitches formed the base of the gusset and I used a lifted increase to add one stitch on each side every other row. I worked the thumb in stockinette stitch and at the same time I continued the spiral rib on the rest of the hand. I increased the thumb up to 10 stitches, worked the next round plain and on the next round put those 10 stitches on a holder while casting on two stitches over the gap. When the hand was complete I bound off in purl to encourage the last row to roll inward and not flare out. I then picked up the ten thumb stitches and picked up 4 new stitches in the gap. In the next round I decreased the four picked up gap stitches down to two by working the outer two together with the first and 10th previously held thumb stitches. The thumb is 8 rounds tall after the pick up point. I bound the thumb off in purl also.

Fortunately I had two balls of this yarn but barely used more than one ball. I think I'll make another pair using fewer rows.

Marching Band Mitts pair cropped 9.25.08
I foolishly forgot to reverse the spiral on the second mitt so they are exact matches.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Completion Tuesday

Today of finished four languishing projects--a striped scarf in Noro Silk Garden, a scarf using an Icelandic lace pattern made with Cascade Cloud 9, fingerless mitts in Karabella Aurora 8, and a black washcloth. I still have far too many WIPs but I'm making some progress. Details to follow.

Edited on 9/26/08 to add: The Icelandic Scarf has an error I did not see until I was about to block it. Back to the frog pond.

Edited on 9/17/09 to add: Now the Icelandic Scarf is complete.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Twenty -Eight Inches of Ribbing

My Socks for Soldiers socks are finally complete. Not only did they have a total of 28 inches of ribbing, I misread the pattern and had to frog 2" from the foot of each sock. All for a worthy cause. I plan to make the next pair more quickly and more efficiently.

Details:
Pattern: Socks for Soldiers (see sidebar)
Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Stretch Uni/Solid) in 0099 Black, 134.5 g.
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm.) for cast-on and 1st 3 rounds, US 0 (2.00 mm.) for the heels and US 1 (2.25 mm.) for the rest of the sock. The new pattern uses the 0 needles for the bottom of the leg and the toes as well, so those planning to make these should be sure they're using the most up to date pattern.
Size: 11.25" long at the foot, after machine washing and drying, for a man's size 12 shoe
Begun: June, 2007
Completed: August 30, 2008

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