Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Success at last

After 4 attempts to knit the bikini top, (pattern shown on Knitty Gritty) I have finally knit something that I think will work! I had to rip out the 3rd attempt, when I knit the c size cup, because it was turning out too large. So, I went back and knit the b size cup again, but I increased as for the c size cup, so I would have enough height. And it worked! I have never really made adustments to a pattern with shaping before, and I was glad that I stuck with it and tried this on my own. It gives me confidence that I can make alterations to other patterns when necessary. It also made me realize that sometimes you have to try several different things before you can get an item to fit you personally, and not to give up!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Black Walnut Dyeing - the Result

I was pretty happy with how the yarn turned out. The color is a lovely chocolatey brown with reddish undertones. There is also a slight variation through it, with some areas more intense than others, which I was hoping for. It took forever for the dye to rinse out. After I had rinsed it, I saw some other suggestions, such as rinsing it in a baking soda solution. I'm not sure if that is to rinse it out better or make the color different somehow.

I didn't love the smell that wafted through my kitchen as I was simmering the dye but I was so pleased with the result that I would definitely use it again, especially since black walnuts are so readily available to me and economical. I also read that you can use the leaves to get an olive green color. I would love to try that! Here is a link for various recipes using black walnut dye - I found it very helpful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Heaven on Earth

This is one of my favorite spots. To me, it looks like heaven on earth, or a shot from the Wizard of Oz. Every time I see it I think it can't be real. I took the photo in the woods in northern Michigan. Love it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Black Walnut Dyeing Continued

I let the murky black walnuts sit in their water for at least 3 days, some were even longer. I put them in a big pot and added water to fill it up. I simmered the black walnut goo for about an hour. Then I strained it off, to remove the pieces of black walnut. While the walnuts were simmering, I wound up my yarn (Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool - 12 oz) into 3 - 4 oz skeins and wet it in the sink with some synthrapol, rinsed it and squeezed it out gently.

I then put the yarn in the pot with the black walnut dye liquid and simmered it for about an hour. Now I will let it sit and cool off until tomorrow morning.

Right now it is a luscious chocolatey brown, just the way I'd hoped it would turn out! I hope it looks the same after I rinse it out!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bikini from Hell

I watched the episode on Knitty Gritty recently that showed a very cute bikini made out of 3 colors of Cascade Fixation. I thought it would be fun to knit a bikini, and with the elastic content of the yarn, it might actually be functional. So, I ordered the yarn in the colors shown (Magenta, Chartreuse and Turquoise) and started knitting my gauge swatches.

Now the pattern calls for a size 5 needle, but I am a notoriously loose knitter, so I started with a 4 and kept downsizing, because each time the swatch was just too wide. I finally got gauge with a size 1! Unbelievable! So, I plunged in and knitted up the first bikini triangle. Well, I guess I should've paid closer attention to how it was turning out, but given that I have never used this yarn before I thought, well, it's got elastic, it will stretch! O.k., with the first triangle finished it looked like it would fit a preteenager! It would've been obscene on me and I am not that busty! Urgh!

So, I started over and I was a bit p.o.ed because I had already cut the yarn. The pattern says that if you plan to make both top and bottom in the larger sizes that you might need a second skein of the main color. So, now I am already short on the Magenta, since I would prefer not to use a cut piece if I don't have to.

So, the big question was, what size do I use now? I started with the size 4 (ridiculous but I wanted to see how it looked) and after several rows I ripped it out because it just looked too loose. I took up the size 3's and knit up the 1st triangle again. Amazingly, the gauge was not that far off (just a smidge too big) so I thought it was going to work out with the 3's. I put a little drawstring through the bottom and tried it. Too small! Now, I am generally a size B cup (which is what I made) and it is just way too narrow and short. So, what is the deal with this pattern?

I am going to try this ONE more time, and will knit the size C cup with the 3's. Here's a sketch of what it is supposed to look like.

If it still doesn't work out, I'm giving up!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dyeing with Coreopsis and Black Walnut

I have been collecting coreopsis blossoms from my garden all summer long. As soon as they look a little droopy I have been plucking them off and storing them in a bag in the freezer. I gathered enough to finally dye some yarn with them. I sewed a little drawstring bag out of cheesecloth and then soaked the blossoms in some water overnight.

I chose 2 types of yarn to dye:
1) Henry's Attic fingering weight superwash - from my LYS (4 oz);
2) Lion Brand Yarn - Fishermen's Wool worsted weight yarn (4 oz).

I used a mordant of alum and cream of tartar and then simmered the yarn for about an hour. After it had cooled to room temperature, I washed and rinsed the yarn. I simmered the coreposis flowers in a large pot for about 75 minutes, threw away the cheesecloth bag and then strained off all of the dye liquid to remove any residual plant matter. I then simmered the yarn in the dye bath for about an hour and left it overnight to cool. I had to rinse it out quite a bit until the water ran clear. I washed it in a bit of Ivory Snow and hung the yarn to dry.

Well, after looking at others' photos of coreopsis-dyed yarn I was expecting the color to be yellow. But mine came out an amazing golden orange.

Once I got over the shock I was actually quite pleased with the result. The superwash absorbed more of the dye, as I'd expected, and turned out darker than the Fisherman's Wool, which is more of a pumpkin color.

Next I plan to dye the rest of the Fishermen's Wool (about 12 oz) with black walnuts from my neighbor's tree. If the yarn turns out as I hope, the chocolate brown of the yarn should look nice with the pumpkin color to make a hat and some heavy-weight socks! I have been letting the dye liquid sit for a few days to get dark and murky and I hope to try it out in a few days.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dyeing With Lichen

I saw in a book that you can dye yarn with lichen. It comes out a lovely lavender color. I was entranced by the photo, so when my husband was in northern Michigan recently I asked him to bring me a little lichen.

Before the yarn can be dyed, the lichen needs to ferment in a solution of ammonia and water, and you need to stir it several times a day. In the olden days they used stale urine instead of ammonia, so that's an improvement! It starts out a murky brown and eventually is supposed to turn red. Well, it's been nearly 3 weeks now and it is still brown!

I am hoping that it will turn red soon so I can dye my yarn!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Inside Outs are Done!

I finally finished my STR Inside Out socks. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. The first one really pooled a lot on the top of the foot while the 2nd one striped fairly nicely - weird! I don't mind, though, because they're so funky anyway. One disappointment was encountering a knot at the top of the instep when I was knitting sock #2. I tried splicing the 2 yarns together, but I don't think it works very well with superwash yarn. So, then I tried knitting the 2 strands together for several stitches and it looked horrible. I ripped it out and then just knit one stitch with the 2 strands, then alternated the strands for a stitch and wove in the ends when I was done. I was just disappointed since they are reversible and wasn't happy to have 4 strands to weave in instead of 2. But I think they will work out fine. I'm going to block them, since I dragged them everywhere, including my daughter's swim meet this past weekend, where it was nearly 100 degrees, so they need a nice wash to rinse out all the dirt and whatnot I picked up!

Friday, July 6, 2007

My knitting journal

I have been wanting to start keeping a knitting journal for awhile now. It seems like once I've finished a project and started another I can't remember the details of what I did - what size needle I used, what adjustments to the pattern I made, etc. So, I went to the book store and looked around at what was available. I liked a few I saw but they had limited pages that could not be expanded, so I decided to create my own. I just bought a small 3-ring binder from the office supply store and covered it in some heavy upholstry fabric I had laying around. I copied a vintage note card onto some fabric, and made a little border out of some raw silk I had left over from my millinery days and stitched it onto the cover.

Inside the front cover of the journal, I made a little pocket for temporary storage of ball bands, etc., until I have time to put them on the page.

I made separate sections of the journal, with some types of things that I make frequently having their own section, such as socks, hats, sweaters, etc. Here is what the looks like.

Now I just have to start using it!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Domiknitrix - L'il Red Riding Hoodie

I'm thinking of making the Domiknitrix L'il Red Riding Hoodie with my Modadea Cartwheel yarn. It's a thick & thin, though, and I wonder if it would work out? I'll continue to explore the idea before I dive right in. Does anybody have thoughts about this?