Sunday, February 21, 2010

Still Here...

Yesterday I wound up this lovely cashmere I dyed:

Ocean of Noise

...and had an unpleasant allergic reaction halfway through. I really should have thought of it, because cashmere and mohair come from goats (even if they are different kinds of goats) and mohair is certainly out to get me. Apparently all goats have it in for me. A moment of silence please for all the lovely yarns that make me sneeze. and sneeze. and sneeze *sniff* Anyway, that put a halt to two potential shawl projects that I had in the works. While regrouping on the shawl front, I've been poking around on other projects...

spiral rib hat

This is the Spiral Rib Hat for my lovely sister-in-law. It's knit with Aurora 8, a super springy merino that I really love. The hat is actually done now, and it seems to have taken only 96 yds, rather than the 120 called for in the pattern. I think there is some sort of magic that happens when knitting with Aurora 8, it just goes and goes and goes.

I also swatched for these unbearably cute Ladybug Picnic Mittens (you really should click that link and check them out). I'm grateful to Cosy for her reminder of how to swatch in the round. My ladybugs will be cuter once I put their spots on.

ladybug swatch

And in the rehabilitation wing of my knitting sweatshop, some yarn that was once 1/3 of a sock is now free to become something else. Something more likely to be finished in my lifetime... I'd forgotten what a brilliant yarn this was after having it stuffed in a closet for a few years.

wool hospital

Maybe a shawl?

Friday, February 12, 2010


Shawl number two is off the needles!

Wandering the Moor Wandering the Moor Wandering the Moor

I really needed a splash of color here at the end of winter and this yarn delivered. This is the first time I've worked with yarn from Striken Smitten and it was lovely. The base is Shimmer Glimmer, a 50/50 blend of superwash merino and silk. The spring of the merino allowed me to block quite a bit and still get a cushy shawl, while the silk made it shiny and super soft. I was really lucky to get this yarn in a rav trade.

The pattern is Wandering the Moor, a shawl "inspired by the shawls worn by Mary and Diana Rivers from the 2006 Jane Eyre Miniseries." I'm not one to miss a literary allusion, but even if you're not an English major, this shawl has lots of pros... it is reasonably priced, well thought out, and the directions for resizing are clear. I was able to use my new scale and the shawl progress calculator to get a shawl that has 2 repeats more than the smallest size. This blocked to 47.5" by 21," which is a nice wearable size. I may have had enough yarn to squeeze out a 3rd repeat, but I couldn't bear the thought of ripping out half the shawl if I was wrong.

The only thing I did to make the pattern easier to use was printing out a second copy of the chart and make a master chart that I could follow all the way across (you'll see what I mean if you use the pattern), but people who are more visual than I can probably see the pattern without that kind of crutch.

This is also my first shawl blocked with wires. Wow was that a relief. The top edge was so. much. easier. I did fiddle around to get the edge notched the way I wanted, I think this shawl looks better with some of the yarn overs pulled a bit further out.

Wandering the Moor

A very pleasant knit :)

PS - Yarn Paradise is having a sale on 100% cashmere, the best price I've ever seen (with shipping, mine cost $35 for 300g). So you might check it out if you have mittens to line...



Inspiration came from these heart collages on Etsy. Don't you love the visual pun implied by hearts that are "fluttering" like butterflies?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What to do? What to do?

I'm knitting Wandering the Moor (a pattern based on Jane Eyre, how could I resist!), and using my digital scale and the shawl progress calculator on this blog I find that if I do two extra repeats, I will have 7% of my yarn left over. 3 extra repeats and I will have less than 1% of my yarn left over. Should I dare? Would it be insufferable hubris?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Editing Your Yarn

Today I'd like to provide a little tutorial for any of you who find yourself with a lovely skein of hand-dyed yarn that happens to have some white blotches you would prefer it not to have...

poison White spot

In the example above it appears the skein was tied tightly during the dye process, preventing the dye from penetrating one area. Having one or two bright white stitches every so often in an otherwise plum shawl is not to my taste. However, I certainly didn't want to overdye the whole thing and lose the lovely plum color. I figured I had two options: mix dye myself and hand-paint it onto the white, or see if I could "recycle" any excess dye already in the yarn. The latter seemed preferable given my color mixing ability, so here is what I did.

1. Soaked the skeins for 24 hours in coldish/room temperature water with just a splash of soap. I did this because silk is notoriously hard to get thoroughly wet, and any dry spots will not release or take up dye. I also pushed the skeins down carefully (don't make tangles!) several times to release trapped air bubbles.

2. Placed the skeins in my (dyeing only) crock-pot with as much water as possible.

3. Turned the heat to "high." With my crock-pot this will eventually bring the yarn to just under boiling. Crock-pots vary, so be careful.

4. This particular yarn had very little excess dye. The dye did not begin to release until the water had reached very warm temperatures.

5. I moved the yarn around to distribute the dye evenly, then added 1/4 cup of vinegar. I admit that I didn't know what type of dye had originally been used, so this was a bit of a shot in the dark. To set, acid dyes require heat and acid (vinegar), so I wanted to provide those elements to encourage the released dye to take up into the white parts of the yarn.

6. Some of the dye took up immediately. I could see the water growing clearer. Maximum uptake can be achieved by letting the yarn cool completely in the water, so I left it to cool overnight.

Not surprisingly, it was the red dye that was most prominent in the excess that was released (I don't know why, but red dye is known to be hard to fix). In my final product the white areas were turned a lighter, pinker shade of purple. Given the variation in the yarn, this should blend in fine.

A disclaimer here at the end: I'm not a dye expert, this probably won't work with anything not dyed with acid dyes, and submerging a whole skein of yarn and encouraging it to release dye could result in some DRASTIC color changes, especially if the yarn was hand-painted to start with (is this a run on yet?) However, if you've got nothing to lose, and you want to get rid of some white spots, this might work for you!