Spin, Dye, Knit

My Ashland Bay Blue Face Leicester Top BFL Undyed Spinning Fiber arrived from Paradise Fibers and I had one goal for this weekend. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been keenly interested in Navajo plying. I sat down Friday night, finished a bobbin of one ply yarn for the above wool. It was so easy to work with. I’m actually having to overtwist it so it doesn’t unravel on me. Then I took it off and started navajo plying. I have a few issues with this technique. 1- Starting it is difficult. I kept loosing it when trying to get it to take on the bobbin. Finally I made a knot onto the starter yarn. 2- I’m getting a lumpy yarn. I think when I’m plying, I’m loosening the fibers and creating bumps. 3-Breaking. As I was plying, it kept breaking. The finished yarn came out unbalanced and different widths but I decided to dye it anyway.

 

This is my first time dyeing. I used the instructions on the knitty page. http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring07/FEATdyeyourown.html

I read this over and over and over. First I soaked the yarn overnight in 1/3 cup of vinegar. Then, I woke up early and put the yarn in the crock pot with 1/2 cup of vinegar and just enough water to cover the yarn. I wish I had put less water in. After a little over an hour, I mixed my dyes with hot water and began covering the yarn. I was really going for a blue and orange yarn with spots of green, but the colors muddled a bit. This is really a clean process though. I had no spills or stains. I added more dye, not liking that the colors were so light. I believe this is why I got the muddled colors. By the end, there was too much water in the crock pot.

I used tongs to pull the yarn out and hung it first on my kitchen faucet over the sink. Once it cooled off, I rinsed it, and hung it outside to dry. I was a little impatient. I didn’t even wait for it to dry 100% before winding it on the homemade nostepinne. Okay, it was a size 15 straight needle. I think I did a great job for the first time using a nostepinne (Knitting needle!)

So below is half of the final product. The colors weren’t what I was trying for, but all in all, I think it worked out very well.

Advertisements

Podcasts

I’ve recently been introduced to knitting podcasts. I never knew there were people out there that took an hour of their time and talked about knitting. I have an i-pod and decided to download some of these. The first few I chose were mostly disappointing. The Knitpicks episode I listened to was informative but slow. I had to stop listening if only for the fact that they were talking about weaving and I cannot afford another hobby. Yes, I was feeling that itch of I want a loom!!! The angel on my shoulder said, “No Tracy, you have enough crafty hobbies. You don’t have time or money for another.” Then the devil on my other shoulder said, “Hehe, I want one. Credit cards are proof God loves you.” Then my boss came in, the i-pod went off and a stack of work was pushed my way.

A second podcast was quite disappointing. The girls were advanced knitters who were complaining about all the people who post patterns on Ravelry using different terms. Then they continued complaining more, interjecting apologies every once in a while in case they offend anyone. I may be biased, but isn’t it a good thing that people can learn and share on this vast resource known as the internet?

A third podcast was filled with talk of expensive yarns that even the devil on that shoulder just shook her head and said no. Sigh.

Finally, I found two thanks to good advice from new knitting/spinning buddy. Stitch It is from the same person with the website The Art of Megan. I learned to spin on my first spindle from her. Of course, she doesn’t know this. I liked listening to her talk about her garden and her house. The second was the The Knit Wits. They were hilarious! They are a married couple who moved to Oregon. I love how they communicate and the fact that the husband interjects his opinion with the crafty, knitting, spinning wife. I relate to both of these two more than the others I’ve listened to so far. I look forward to downloading lots more episodes.

Fall Issue

What usually is joyous is now just plain sad. That’s right. The Fall issue of Interweave Knits came to me, on an August day, in Southwest Florida. In 92 degree weather, I got to look at Autumn sweater patterns, along with mittens, thick socks and a particular cute wool skirt. To add to my blues, the theme seemed to be double knitting. Why have one layer of knitting when you can have two. This is all well and good if you live up north, lets say Vermont, or Oregon, or Orlando. Down here is the subtropics, I sweat looking at the double knitting. I’ll have to stick to lacy shawls, purses and blankets. Sigh.

Knitting and Yoga

Bella in cat pose

Knitting and Yoga go naturally together. Both have meditative qualities. There are a couple of things that I reach out to when I am ultra stressed. Knitting is the normal every day stress reliever. Then of course, there is tea. I have tea to wake me up and tea to calm me down. There is the glass of wine or a really good beer. But there are times, almost phases, when I reach out to yoga. I am not a guru or even the least bit good at it. I am a dabbler. I like yoga when the mood fits. I like certain poses but am still not fit enough to keep up with the dvds. This is something I want to work on and then life gets in the way.

I stumbled upon a pose the other night when I couldn’t sleep due to neurotic worrying over school, money, work, life and the nature of good and evil. http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2767

This is a modification of  Matsyasana (Fish Pose). If you work in an office, use a computer often enough, spend hours studying or are hunched over knitting needles you may have pain in your neck and shoulders. I do all of these.  In From the Neck Down, by Roger Cole, it states “But when pain and tingling spread beyond the hands and wrists to the arms, shoulders, or neck, the cause may be another, less commonly known condition—thoracic outlet syndrome. TOS is caused by compressing or overstretching nerves or blood vessels far from the hands, near the top of the rib cage. It can develop from repetitive stress and unhealthy movement patterns, like playing a musical instrument for long hours or typing with your head pushed forward and out of alignment with the rest of your spine, or from an injury such as whiplash.”

Think of your knitting. Does this sound familiar? I did it with just the one block and I felt the release (spasms) immediately. In the days afterward, the result was not so obvious but I believe that over time, this will benefit me. I also am trying to straighten my posture. I try.

Entrelac

I usually wouldn’t advise anyone to take on more than one project at a time. In my experience, neither project winds up being finished and both are frogged or left in the pile of things to rip out years later. However, I’ve decided to keep a traveling project – a pair of to-be-felted slippers and a home project – the entrelac baby blanket. One is easy and the other will take this side of forever to complete. I accept this with open arms.

I decided to learn entrelac around 12 am of last Sunday night/Monday morning after finding myself wide awake. It had nothing to do with the double cappuccino drink I had at six that evening, I swear. It was just a fluke. First I searched Intralac and nothing came up. I did another search and stumbled upon a page that had the technique spelled just as wrong as I did. I kept looking around and finally snuck into my bedroom to pull out some yarn and needles without waking up the husband. Eventually I gave up in hopes of sleeping, which was fitful at best.

The next day I woke up, studied a bit, ignored the messy house that is calling for me to clean it and focused on what was really important – learning entrelac! With the assistance of the entire internet, I believe I have it down. If you’ve seen Eunny Jang on youtube then you’ve tried this to. I love her, but she really needs to slow down. I was looking for Entrelac for dummies tutorial. The about.com version was good for starting but didn’t help me in learning the side triangles. The most comprehensive website that I found was wolf and turtle.net. Please see link below. I’ve been doing some of the increases and decreases a little differently but this website gives the greatest understanding of what is involved in Entrelac. Basically you are knitting squares in two different directions and it gives this great texture but is also annoying because you only knit one block at a time going back and forth and back and forth until you want to scream. It’s a likeable torture!

http://wolfandturtle.net/Dye/index.php/Yarnpath/comments/all_aboard_the_entrelac_express/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcLxMt9GehM

http://knitting.about.com/od/knittingskills/ss/entrelac-base.htm

Another Day, Another Project

Along with working full time, going to school and juggling the ever present drama of my life, I am working on my newest project. I’m currently over half way through with the Isobel Skirt found in the Winter 2010 edition of Interweave Knits. I know, isn’t it odd that I’m working on a winter skirt during Florida’s spring, otherwise known as the Summer part I. Instead of using the Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend as recommended in the pattern, I decided to try it out with Berrocco Comfort, which is a Nylon/Acrylic blend. I had this around for another project that was never started. The problem with making clothing is that different materials lay differently. There is a proper term for this, but I cannot remember it for the life of me. I think this pattern would work better with natural fibers than with man-made nylon/acrylic yarns.  The other recommendation would be to avoid increasing next to the knit rows. It only throws off the lines in the pattern slightly, but my eyes are drawn to those small deviations.

I love this skirt and I have to have it, even with my imperfections. As of right now, it remains a mini-skirt but I’m working along fast enough. The seven hours I spent on the airplane helped.  This is a great simple pattern that will be fun to wear and show off, even in Florida’s summer weather, I hope.

What if?

Do you ever play the what if I won the lottery game at home? My husband and I like to play this (probably a little too often.) There are the obvious choices of buying a nice house, getting new (and working???) cars, going on vacation, etc. I had always thought that I’d want to go get my Master’s in creative writing. I always thought I’d wind up writing and am still surprised that I wound up in the accounting field. Lately, I think I’d like to study folk arts. Knitting, spinning and other crafts interest me. Unfortunately, money is still a factor so I will have to be satisfied with just having hobbies but I’d truly love to study the crafts of cultures around the world. These were and still are more than the hobbies that keep them busy but instead kept them clothed and warm.
Oh and if we won the lottery, I want a huge RV and to travel the country while knitting, spinning, and doing what ever makes me happy!

Flying

I’m running around getting ready to fly to NY on short notice thanks to a death in the family. I’m in the middle of knitting a skirt, which unfortunately thanks my not so tiny waist is a big project. I find some lacy yarn and decide that my backup project will be a lacy shawl/scarf. I need something that I can hide in my purse.

Now it’s time to get my bag ready. No scissors, the TSA doesn’t like those. How many knitting needles are too many to take on a carry on? I am to bring my knitpicks stash but what if they say I can’t bring it on the plane. Better to lose one or two needles than my whole set. I have to go through the stitch holders and make sure nothing looks dangerous.

Now I’m also worrying that the pattern I picked out for the scarf/shawl is too complicated. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off knitting during the wake, but I want to be able to bring it out at other times. What if my flight is delayed twelve hours like the last time I flew home from NY? I know, I am overreacting. Is this knitting a hobby or an addiction? I am getting anxious trying to decide what I’m bringing.

I’ll figure it out somehow and will write more later.

Foot Fetish

So I’ve been on a foot related knitting spree lately. For Christmas, I made my Grandmother a pair of slippers, followed by a pair of socks for myself and now I finished a pair of socks for my husband just in time for his birthday, which is today. They’ll be ready for him when he finally gets home. These are made out of a yarn my friend bought me when she visited Sweden and are soft and comfortable. I’d love to tell you what they are made of but the label is not in English. These socks took forever with my tiny size 1 knitting needles but they are finally ready for wear. Oh and hubby, if you are reading this, do NOT throw these in the washing machine.

Sweater Wear

For most of you in the Northern areas of the country, sweater season has arrived in full force. My family and friends in New York are repeatedly getting walloped by the unrelenting weather. Even here in Southwestern Florida, I am getting the sweater itch. By itch, I mean the want to knit not the want to wear itchy old-fashioned sweaters your grandmother used to give you for your birthday.

I am probably the last person who should give advice on knitting sweaters. I have made a total of one bolero and one shirt. My lovely shirt came out wide and short and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing it. When they say that gauge is important, GAUGE is Important. Think of spending your hard-earned money on this wonderful skeins of yarns, putting hours and hours of time into it and then standing in the mirror horror-struck (and in tears like me.) But don’t let that stop you. We all learn in different ways and the only way we get better is from learning from our mistakes.

I flip through patterns constantly and my latest favorite is Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard. The author also writes a blog http://www.knitandtonic.net/ 

I love her book because it doesn’t just give you patterns, but explains the way sweaters are knit, how they look, the way they are designed and how you can create what looks best on you. I want to try everything immediately. I highly recommend any knitter who is interested in making sweaters, shells, or any other clothing item to read this book! It can only help in later projects.

Sunday Afternoon

It’s Sunday afternoon and after a busy week, I’m sitting on my couch with a sleeping cat curled up beside me. I have two chapters to read and outline as well as a group project to e-mail my group members about. I have phone calls to make, laundry to check on, vacuuming to be done and dinner to make. The week has flown by in a mass of to do’s. I have spent over a week working on a sock which I’m finally at the heel. I love the yarn but I’m using size 1 needles doing two rounds at a time in periods of five to fifteen minutes that I can find through out the day. If only I could knit while on the treadmill or elliptical but I have a feeling that experiment would end in a trip to the emergency room and a messy stab wound. I like sharp knitting needles. I spend dinner time talking to the hubby while flipping through knitting books and magazines that are conveniently layed out on the table. Life is busy, even on a Sunday afternoon but knitting is an addiction that can fit into even the busiest of schedules.

Christmas Gift Fjord Holiday Ornament

Gift idea #3.

This is a nicely knit up holiday ornament. This is done in fair isle or stranded knitting with two or more different colors. If you are looking for a more traditional ornament, this is it. Directions are given in both chart form as well written out. I think it would be great with a styrofoam ball in the middle, knitting the two halves separately and then sewing them together. I haven’t tried this yet, but that would be my idea.

http://www.straw.com/cpy/patterns2/accessories/Merino5-Ornament.html

Goodbye Summer

I am very sad to say my summer break is almost over. While I’ve still been working full-time, it was very nice to have the break from the classes. As I’m taking another accounting class beginning Tuesday, my juggling begins again. I really enjoyed getting to hide in my books, knit a few pillows and a sweater that came out completely wrong and a first draft of a novel that I’m down on now. Okay, so some of this summer’s projects failed miserably. However this summer I:

1. Completed two pillow patterns and began a third.

2. Finished a first draft of a novel.

3. Made my first homemade linguine.

4. Finished the entire Sookie Stackhouse novel series (yes 10 books!)

5. Read and listened to numerous more books.

6. Made chinese dumplings from scratch.

7. Made potato parathas.

8. Went to a wedding and got to visit the central timezone for the first time without realizing I was showing up to said wedding an hour early!

I’m sure I did more than that, but those were the things that I came up with. Summer is and always has been my favorite season. Things will get busier soon but I will try very hard to keep up the blogging and keep the patterns coming. I’m looking forward to the Florida Fiber In coming up. This year it will be taking place September 17-19 in Orlando. http://nomadicfiber.yolasite.com/ I look forward to learning how to use my spindle.

Ripping

After what I see as a disastrous sweater error (although my husband kindly says it looks fine) I’ve decided that I will move on to a felted bag before I go ahead and pull my month’s worth of work apart and try again. I can’t remember ever ripping a completed project before, which will be more of a pain because I already did the seaming. If anyone has any tips on the best way to do this, please let me know.

In the meantime, I want to get back to my bag project. I bought different shades of brown Galway wool with the idea of making a striped bag that would be nice enough to carry to work but casual enough to use anywhere else. I’ll keep you updated on that as I go.

Sweater Error

So, I finished my misti alpaca sweater and after spending nearly a month and $40 on it, it looks atrocious. The thing came out short and wide even though I tried to lengthen it by adding extra rows. This is my first adult sweater (shirt) and I’m not really sure where I went wrong. The gauge was pretty close.

I’m really upset and am not sure how or if I can fix this. I wish I knew about knitting sweaters.

If anyone has any advice, please help. Until then, maybe I’ll stick to scarves, shawls and things that aren’t supposed to fit to my figure.