Friday, July 30, 2010

A New Lease

At the yarn yard sale I went to last May, I saw a bag of yarn marked "free" that looked like something I might use. There were a couple skeins of yarn in a light fingering weight acrylic/wool/silk blend that looked like they might be nice for colorwork.


Inspiration hit me early in June and went in an entirely different direction. I grabbed a crochet hook and started in on a free pattern that I'd had on my list of possibilities for a while, Eva's Shawl (Ravelry link - pdf here). Stripes are a tricky thing and I decided to make them symmetrical . The stripe pattern counts down then back up in grey, and up then back down in cream.

1 cream, 3 grey, 2 cream, 2 grey, 3 cream, 1 grey, 3 cream, 2 grey, 2 cream, 3 grey, 1 cream


The shawl pattern is a repeating set of three rows, one of which is the eyelet row with the decorative holes. The eyelet rows fell in different places in the stripe pattern, which I think adds a little interest.

Once the striping was complete I just used the grey until I was sure I couldn't get another row out of what I had left. I'd ended on an eyelet row and it looked a little skimpy on the edge. Rather than ripping back, I took the work in a new direction and did a row of single crochet across the top "wingspan" edge to conceal all my ends from changing colors. I had just enough grey yarn left to put a thin edging around the outside eyelet row, putting a single crochet in each eyelet space and chaining two stitches on top of each group of two double crochets from the eyelet row. My yarn conservation paid off as I had about 18 inches leftover at the end and the edge had more substance.

I wasn't sure how to block an acrylic blend, but I do believe that almost any newly finished project can benefit from a swim in warm water. Just in case, I even contacted Karin (who had this yarn before) to see if she had any blocking tips for me. As it turns out, this yarn had been a gift to her as well, leftovers from another project made by her grandmother. I pinned it out to dry on a bed and I was surprised to find the blocking did open up the pattern quite a bit! It's really clear from looking at the stripe picture above and the finished photos below how much of a difference the blocking made.

My husband insisted that I keep this one for myself, and so far I have, but then again he also insists that the grey yarn is purple. What do you think?




My project page on Ravelry.

(Yes, those are knitting needles stabbed through my hair to hold it up. Amazingly, people still talk to me.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A little green cheer

Apparently I'm going through a green phase.

Back in May my parents were visiting for a week, and a day or two into the visit my mom scanned me up and down and said, "I never knew you liked green so much!" I'm more of a grab-what's-clean kind of dresser these days so I looked myself up and down and answered, "Neither did I!" But I was wearing green capris, green and yellow sandals from Simple Shoes, and a striped tank top with, you guessed it, a few shades of green involved.

Flash forward to about a week ago when I was back home from my appendectomy and decided there was no time like the present to order myself some yarn. Cindi at Left Coast Yarns is one of my fellow house prefects in the Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup and I found something yummy over in her shop - Forbidden Forest in an 80/20 merino nylon blend that is really soft!


I knew my Alina Shea Yarn Club shipment would be shipping soon and Shannon is wonderful enough to combine packages if you buy something (with the 10% club discount!) close to club shipping time. SPOILERS AHEAD! Better stop scrolling now if you haven't gotten yours yet!

I grabbed a skein of Waxing Moon, which is the Crescent Moon base I adore but with 20% nylon instead of 100% merino. This color is Dark Pond.


I was also drawn in by the new Boomba Lace laceweight base, a washable 80% merino/20% bamboo blend. Two skeins will make a lovely lightweight cardigan.


This month's club yarn is a 65% merino/35% bamboo blend called Grassy Feet and the colorway is Summer Fun. It really rounded out my very green package.


I also got this fiber to spin (wool and firestar for sparkle!) which really isn't green at all. Oh well, something had to give.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Ten Minutes A Day

Spinning is a new skill for me, and of course with any new activity practice helps get you where you want to go. I made myself a goal to spin for at least ten minutes per day in July to help me learn. I mentioned that I was spinning up some of the Punta roving in Charlie Pace from Younger Yarn.


So far, I've spun up 0.6oz into a two-ply yarn. I'm really ridiculously proud of my 31 yards so far. I wanted to see how my spinning held up as a yarn before getting too far through my lovely fiber!


The colors are more true in the first picture on my screen.

Once I had it skeined up and washed, I decided to try out a different fiber - some wool/mohair (I think 85/15 blend) Colonial top from my LYS. I think this top may be distributed by a larger company because I've seen it or something like it around the LYS and a few times over at WEBS. It's basically blue but there are streaks of red and other colors running along as well. Whatever it is, it's pretty.



Sunday, July 25, 2010

Up to dyeing!

It's been almost two weeks now since my surprise appendicitis (is any appendicitis not a surprise?) and although everything is healing, I feel good, and everybody is getting back into our normal routines, I still have to take it easy. Even minimally invasive surgery is still surgery and it takes time to recover. I'm saying this not to be Captain Obvious or obtuse but to remind and convince myself just as much as to remind everybody reading along!

The day of my follow-up with the surgeon I decided to dye some wool and celebrate my permission to lift ten pounds again. In my dyeing experiments thus far, I've only used food coloring and other edible dyes and mordants. I'm certainly no expert and sort of get what I get! So I was playing with black food coloring and trying to "break" the dye on purpose using a lot of vinegar in the pot. Colors like black are achieved in food coloring by mixing other colors together, so in breaking it I wanted to separate those colors back out. Sometimes dyes break on their own, too - I've had blue and violet break on me before.

This time I used a lot of food coloring (dissolved into hot water) and put all of the wool in the pot at once, after soaking for a few hours in water and vinegar. I usually dye on the stove top, heating the water and vinegar in the pot with the yarn and food coloring but not all the way to boiling. The color goes into the fibers and eventually the water is clear. This is called exhausting the dye. The heat sets the color in the yarn. Well, this time the wool and water was hot for a while and the water was still nowhere near clear, so I wound off some more wool, tied it into a skein, and added it to the pot dry to exhaust the dye.

As it turns out, the dye did break but the original yarn had already absorbed all the dye it could. So the second skein absorbed what was left, which was.... well, see for yourself.

This was the original skein. It's a deep purpley red, maybe reddish purple, and black.

Godric's Hollow Worsted weight 100% wool, 100g/200yards

This was the second skein. It started much brighter and greyed as it stayed in the pot. The purple splotches were an unexpected, but interesting and welcome, surprise.

Luna Lovegood Worsted weight 100% wool 63g/125yards

Yes, these two skeins came out of the same pot. Amazing, isn't it?


The dyepot of mystery and enchantment.

What's in the dyepot?

The names come from this month's prompts in the Inspired Dyeing group on Ravelry. The yarn actually came before the prompts in this case, but they were just right.

I haven't decided what to do with these skeins just yet. Any thoughts?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One Less Appendix

Was it only a week ago that I was writing about the heat? I feel like a lifetime has passed. To make a long story short, if you're reading this it's likely that you already know that there is one less appendix in the world this weekend than there was last. Getting a diagnosis was not as easy as one might think, but once I had it I was having surgery about three hours later. A couple hours after that I started knitting some mittens until I could fall asleep again. All told, it was a bit of a surprise but really a good thing as it seems the appendix was trying to tell me it wanted out for quite some time.

I'm not supposed to do anything exciting or fun for a few more days, and I hope to have a lot of knitting to report at the end of it! Oh, and I've been spinning the Younger Yarn Punta roving too. I decided to go ahead and ply the singles I've got and see how I like the finished yarn and how my spinning holds up as a yarn!

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's hot here too

It seems like everybody is either unseasonably hot or unseasonably cold right now, and we're definitely hot. Think twice about picking up the knitting hot. Felt the spinning fiber in your hands hot. Don't want to turn on the lights after sunset and heat the house further hot. Which is why I'm typing in the dark.

Happy July!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The State of the Stash: 2010 Reality Check

If you've been reading along here surely you've caught one of my monthly Stashdown Reports. If not, the goal that I'm reaching for in 2010 is to use more yarn by yardage than I acquire. We're working as a family to organize our home and make things work better for us, and my husband and I decided to purchase a dresser during a visit to Ikea last May to neatly store some of my craft supplies in the craft room/office. We have a list of household tasks that need to be accomplished before we unpack each room's Ikea things as a reward, and this weekend Paul and Spike put the dresser together and I moved the yarn in.


It's not crammed completely full, but I did want to maintain a sense of organization. Here we have the leftover drawer:


which is mostly leftovers but there is some random yarn in larger quantities. It's loosely organized with wool on the left, acrylic on the right, and cotton, blends, and novelties in the middle.

Drawer two is fingering (sock) weight yarn. Yes, the whole drawer (oh, and one skein of laceweight - you got me). There's an Alina Shea Creations section there on the right and a Knit Picks Palette sampler filling out the left side nicely.


And then holding the dresser down with its own gravitational field we have the Everybody Else drawer.


Highlights are quite a bit of alpaca yarns and just about everything that I bought at the Yarn Yard Sale.

It feels great to have this stuff organized! But in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that there's also the matter of this in the basement.


The bin behind the barbells and the bin on the seat of the rocking chair are fabric. Everything else (save the holiday lights) is yarn.

And that, my friends, is why I'm trying to buy less yarn.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mmmmm, Pancakes

My search for a pancake recipe to adopt as my own has been a long process fraught with a lot of mediocre pancakes. I stumbled onto a recipe at one of my favorite recipe sites,, for Good Old-Fashioned Pancakes and it was absolutely a winner!

(don't worry - there was more bacon!)

I double the recipe (with a few adjustments) for our family and we have enough for a few mornings. I also like to tuck some into the freezer for later!

Double-Fashioned Pancakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
5 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk the liquids together in the well, gradually incorporating the dry ingredients until everything is mixed together (batter may be slightly lumpy). Use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop batter for individual pancakes.

I just got a Presto griddle and I really quite like it. For pancakes I set the temperature to 350 degrees and brown the pancakes on both sides. In a frying pan, I would set the burner to medium-high and probably have to use a little butter in the pan (which I don't need on the griddle). I can also do six pancakes at once! Can you tell I really like it??

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

June Stashdown Report

Although I feel good about controlling my yarn stash growth at the moment, the numbers for June aren't really inspiring. Let's not dwell, shall we?

My friend Pacasha opened her Etsy store, Younger Yarn! Naturally I showed my support, getting some lovely yarn and some fiber since I'm a spinner now. (I've decided that handspun yarn and the fiber to make it does not count as yarn in or out for my purposes here. There just isn't enough of it to make a difference!)

Kaylee Sock String, Punta roving in Charlie Pace

Our Pennsylvania trip included a stop at a local yarn store, The Yarn Basket in Chambersburg, PA. I got a couple souvenirs of my visit of course.

J.Knits, Araucania Copihue, Araucania Ruca

I won a skein of Skinny Bugga! in a drawing.


My Alina Shea Creations club shipment for June, Peace at the Beach. You can see that it's beautiful, but you can't feel just how soft it is to touch!


I also made a visit to The Spinning Room for some fiber to spin and some yarn for a specific project I had in mind.

Bluefaced Leicester top, Colonial top in dark blue-based multi color

And the yarn...
Ella Rae Classic for colorwork mittens, Queensland Collection Super Aussie superwash merino that was on clearance. Clearance!

June yarn in: 3,384 yards
June yarn out: 1,253.9 yards
Year-to-date in: 31,998.75 yards
Year-to-date out: 10,460.7 yards

Yards to go until I break even: 21,538.25 yards

And yet somehow, I still have hope.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I'm a spinner

Pickett's Charge

A couple weeks ago my family went on a trip to a family wedding in Pennsylvania. We had quite an adventure, given that we're trying to do anything or go anywhere with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, but we did have a good time and we got everywhere we wanted to go safely and eventually. Part of our trip included going to visit the Gettysburg National Military Park, and as a souvenir of our visit I bought a drop spindle kit in the gift shop to teach myself to spin.


It came with a little fiber in two colors and I spun them into a continuous single, first one and then the other color. I wound the single off the spindle and into a center-pull ball, and then plied the center and outside strands together to get this:


I love how it looks! It's about 7 yards of 2-ply, approximately heavy worsted weight yarn. And I MADE it! So I grabbed some needles and knitted it all into this bottle cozy.


The buttons are two of the many I have from my grandmother's button stash.

So now I can say I am a spinner!