Monday, August 24

You may need sunglasses before viewing this yarn.

I forgot to mention this on my to do list: dye sock yarn.

I need yellow sock yarn for a knit along I am participating in starting September 1st, but I didn't have any in my sock yarn stash or the desire to spend money on new yarn. (Isn't that strange? But I have become inundated with yarn this summer and It's all a little overwhelming. I'll write about that sometime in the future.)

I did have a ball of Opal Uni-Color in Natural. Perfect! I picked up a vial of Wilton Icing color in Lemon Yellow at Michaels for $1.70 and was off.

I've only even done a little Kool-Aid dying experimentation in 2003. It worked well, aside from the face that I never figured out what to do with the neon variegated, fruit scented yarn I created.

This time is I just used my Crock-pot, wound the yarn in to a hank and dunked it in. (Unfortunately, no photos of the process since I did this at night and it is ridiculously dark in my kitchen.) I was hoping to get more of a kettle dyed, semi-solid color, but there are only a few subtle variations. I probably used too much dye for the yarn, even thought I only put in about a 1/4 teaspoon. Oh well, it's bright at least! I almost wish I would have gone with the Golden Yellow or Buttercup Yellow dyes. I figure if the finished socks really are too bright, I can try to overdye them with a warmer yellow after they are knit.

I Need Yellow Sock Yarn

And now, I have to resist the call of a new hobby. Because even dying one skein of yarn a solid color has me itching to try more. And, my hubby bought me the book Spin Dye Stitch: How to Create and Use Your Own Yarns for my birthday. I know I've said it before, but he's such an enabler.

Friday, August 21

Looking Ahead.

So I'm in the midst of a finishing frenzy, and taking a little time out from new projects to assess what I want to accomplish in the remainder of 2009. This includes the fate of a number of project that I wrote indecisively about here in my In-Progress Roundup. Whatever uncertainty I held while writing that list is gone. It I don’t like it, it’s getting frogged. If I don’t want to work on it, I’m considering that a symptom of not liking it and frogging.

It’s very freeing.

(The following list is mostly for my own reference, but you can play along at home.)

To be finished (soon):
Sedum Cardigan - 1 sleeve cuff, button bands, and collar remaining.
Mom's yarn - two bobbins left to fill, then ply

To be started/continued:
Steve’s Henry scarf – I really really love the pattern. Who cares if it's a little fiddly?
Doughnut – decided to change pattern to fit my needs

To be frogged:
Chevron scarf – going to be turned into a tweed/woven stitch, still alternating the two colors, possibly lengthwise
Turtleneck Tube Vest - going to be turned into a different, u-neck vest

This weekend I am going to work on matching some (most?) of my yarn up with projects and putting them in a loose to-be-knit timeline. I'm also going to write up the ideas I have for my growing spinning fiber collection.

Ahhhhh, organization. You feel so good.

Thursday, August 20

Finished: Anastasia Socks

Anastasia Socks finished

I have a love/hate relationship with this sock yarn, Misti International Hand Paint Sock Yarn. I love the colors and soft, smooth feel. For whatever reason I had a beast of a time keeping consistent tension with it while knitting. Almost as if it was so smooth as to be slippery. It was so frustrating, and cramping up in my left pinky, that I put them aside for almost six months.

I found them about two weeks ago in the bottom of my knitting bag and just wanted them done. Apparently that was enough motivation; I finished them last Friday. My tension must have been a little more relaxed with the second sock since the colors didn't pool the same way. Oh well, the fit is the same.

As for the pattern itself, I love that the spirals travel in opposite directions. I substituted an afterthought heel for the one written in the pattern. No reason, other than I wanted to keep working on the spiral instead of knitting a heel when I got to it on the first sock.

Anastasia Socks by Minty Fresh (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Misti International Hand Paint Sock Yarn
Needles: Addi Turbo 0US, 2 circs
Started/Finished: February 9, 2009 - August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12

Finished: Swallowtail Shawl

The Swallowtail was my first triangular shawl. I think I'm hooked! (But I still need to figure out how to photograph them to show off the lace best.)

Swallowtail Shawl Finished, cropped

I've said it before, but I am a much better knitter when I'm using an interesting pattern stitch, instead of plain stockinette or rib. It's like, if I'm not forced to pay attention then I won't at all. I knit this whole thing without lifelines, marking up my chart, or even writing down what row I was on. And I didn't ever need to rip more than two or three stitches. (I did need to correct a lost yarnover from the previous row a few times though.)

I'm saying this not to brag or feel like a superior knitter (I'm definitely not), but to prove how important learning to read your knitting is. It's something I struggled with for a long time. It actually took me years to figure out that the row where the two stitch leaned together wasn't the decrease row, but the row where the loop passed through both of them at once was.

The Swallowtail is a simple enough pattern that I could tell what row I was on by a glance at what I had done in the previous row. Pattern repeats were easily counted, and the repeat section across the chart was short, intuitive, and easily memorized.

Plus, I think I got lucky.

Swallowtail worn, cropped
I'll probably wear it like this, under my coat.

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark, Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Yarn: Wisdom Yarns Poem Sock, in color #955
Needles: Addi Turbo Lace in 3US
Started/Finished: June 2009 - August 3, 2009

Swallowtail Shawl
I really tried everything when it came to the photo.

Thursday, August 6

Blocking the Swallowtail

I finished knitting my Swallowtail shawl in a haze of decongestant on Monday. I am so pleased with this project. As my first triangular shawl, I wasn't entirely sure how it was constructed. Logically I knew, each row increases from a central point, but my brain needs to see something before it believes it.

I sort of winged this entire project. I didn't use any stitch markers or lifelines, didn't highlight or write on the charts, didn't even use anything to mark what row I was on in the chart. I kept saying "I just want to get started, I'll fix that stuff up later". And then I was done. And it worked!

I broke out the blocking wires purchased almost a year ago at Stitches Midwest for the the time. Let me say, once i figured out how to pin and pull them to stretch the fabric, I will never block something without them again.

The yarn I used (Wisdom Yarns Poem Sock) is marketed to use as a sock yarn. Obviously, I guess. It is a loosely spun single with 25% nylon. It didn't seem like it would be very sturdy for socks and this suspicion was confirmed while blocking. My yarn tails were almost fragile while wet, and one kept disintegrating in my hands. Luckily I left them extra long. I was concerned about how aggressively I could block it without damaging any of the stitches, so I probably erred on the side of caution.

Here is the unblocked shawl:

Swallowtail shawl before blocking

Here is the bizarre milky purple color it turned the water while it was soaking:

dye running
What's up with that?


Swallowtail shawl blocking
On old maroon towels, to avoid any chance of dying the carpet.

With cat anchor:

Swallowtail shawl blocking, with cat
While still damp. Crazy cat loves water.

Happy Belated Birthday to Me (With Prizes!)

For the last few years, I've done a little contest/giveaway for my birthday on August 1st. I think it's fun and I always seem to get a good response to I guess some of you think it's fun too!

(For the record, I turned 29 - for the first time, not the "29 again" as many people assumed when they inquired my age.)

Unfortunately I ended up sick as a dog for my birthday, with a cold that morphed into a sinus infection. I don't get sick very often and to get a cold in the summer, on my birthday was almost insulting. I still can't smell or taste anything but at least the floor isn't spinning anymore.

I'd still like to do a little giveaway sometime soon. I am playing a little catch-up with work and real life from being out of it for a few days, so let's plan on Friday night (Aug 6th) for the contest to be posted. I thought about doing something a little different, like a virtual scavenger hunt, but laziness might set it and knock it down to 'post a comment'.

Check back soon!

Tuesday, August 4

It might be an addiction.

So a few weeks ago, Steve and I stopped by IKEA on the way home from my parent's house to pick up a shelf I wanted to add to my wire basket yarn storage tower.

This is the ($7) shelf:


And installed:



But. Despite my best intentions to walk out of that damn store with only one thing FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, we came home with all this as well.


As an aside, if you are ever at IKEA do check out their knife selection. They are some of the best knives I have ever used and they are ridiculously inexpensive. For instance, above you can see a set of 6 steak knifes we picked up for $2.99. I have a $6 chef knife that is 10x better than my $35 Pampered Chef model. I am slowly growing a full collection of them. (See here, on their website.)