Friday, September 30, 2011

She Who Cannot Crochet

I've been crocheting.
Did I ever mention that I can't crochet?
I want to preface this by saying that I really appreciate all the kind comments I have been receiving on my blog. I really enjoy reading them, and each one makes me smile. BUT I would prefer a "no comment" on this particular creation of mine.
It's even worse on a computer screen.
I want to show you what it's supposed to look like.
I'm making the Orange You Glad bag from The Happy Hooker, which, as you can see, is supposed to be a small handbag. The thing I am making is the size of my laptop. And I don't have one of those fancy little ones, either. This thing is big. Probably because I didn't check my gauge. Because even though I've had nearly 10 years of knitting experience and have learned almost every gauge lesson there is, I assumed gauge wouldn't matter with crochet. Despite the entire chapter about it at the beginning of the book.

It matters.

In addition to the sizing issue there is the fact that I apparently haven't figured out yet where exactly the first stitch is supposed to be made. I thought I had the hang of it, I really did. I mean, the bag is just single crochet, and I thought I could do that. Really.

Apparently, when I'm busy changing colors I don't stop to count and make sure I always have the right number of stitches and at the end of the purse I'm missing a few. Or 5.


So that's really discouraging. I'm not even sure I want to crochet the strap and the leaves and stuff. I keep trying to tell myself that once I do the surface crochet along the edges of the circle it will look a lot better but... well... I've never done surface crochet and I'm not convinced.

This project is taking me an extra long time because, well, I just don't like looking at it. I am putting this one in a canvas bag for a while. And I've cast on something new.

Yes, that is a teeny weeny sock. It's for my son, who turns 16 months old TOMORROW!! Yay!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Knit Purl Girl's at it again

Did you see the new awesome giveaway?
Webs is actually giving a Deluxe set of their brand new interchangeables to one lucky winner. Of course, I'm blogging about it for extra chances at winning, but seriously. Have you seen the new needles? 
I got the update about them via facebook a while back, and fell instantly in love.
THEN, i got my webs catalog and they shoved the beautiful needles in my face again.
and now a giveaway?
They're all purdy like the harmonys, And they're color coded so you always know what size you're using. KnitPurlGirl did a review on them, and they sound pretty awesome.
Of course they come in not-wood as well-The "nova"s are nickel plated brass. But I'm more of a wood fan, personally, so if i do win (which i doubt I will because SO many people are getting in on this. and i don't even have a twitter account) I would definitely go for the "dreamz" set.

Eventually, regardless of this giveaway, I'm probably going to get myself a set.

(I have an addiction.)

WIP Wednesday

Still working on my Hardcore Sweater.
The size 11's are rather unwieldy, and I only managed a few inches today. But I'm working on it, and that's the important bit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FO: Some Cloudy Day and Roxxy's Wristees

Simple little wristees for a friend
made with love

and nice and stripey

I also finally finished my Some Cloudy Day Legwarmers.
These took a month to knit, which was a really long time. I think they took so long because I finished the first one and realized I was going to have to cut it later on to lengthen it. While I was knitting the 2nd one, I kept remembering that when it was done, the pair wouldn't be done. I think that was what kept me from finishing for so long. When I finally went back to it, it was just because I wanted my 4's back for hexipuffing.
I tried to take some pictures with some decent lighting today but had some problems...
Taking a picture with a self-timer doesn't work with children ;)
taking pictures of your own legs doesn't really look right either.
I ended up getting my SIL to take a few pictures.
So I was really glad to get those projects out of the way, and free up some needles for other things.
Then I got to work and swatched for my new sweater.

The DROPS pattern suggests size 7 needles and a gauge of 17 stitches per 4 inches. My swatch on 7's was uncomfortably tight, and had a gauge of 20 st per 4 inches so I bumped it up to size 9's. 9's yielded 15 stitches per 4 inches, so I had to swatch yet again on size 8's.
I'm also swatching with Garter Stitch, just in case I end up deciding to make the vine yoke cardigan instead.That is still a possibility.
I'm starting to wonder, though, as I'm swatching, if I really need an alpaca sweater. I live in California, and though we're not going to have a heater this winter, it doesn't get extremely cold. I could always use this yarn to make adorable softy toys for the kids in my family.
This bear from Erika Knights Simple Knits for Cherished Babies has really captured my heart.

I don't know. I'll just keep swatching and see if I can manage to get gauge for either of those two sweaters. I've heard that Berocco Ultra Alpaca grows, so they swatch will be getting a wash as well.
that's all for today.
I know I missed my Super Stitches this week, but this upcoming Sunday I will have some swatches to share, for sure.
Happy Knitting!

Monday, September 26, 2011

FO: Something Lacy

My shrug is finally done.
I really enjoyed knitting it. The stitch pattern was very easy to remember and keep track of, and there was absolutely no shaping at all. It was just a rectangle that you fold in half to create the sleeves. There was only 3.75 inches of seaming on each side to deal with. That and the matter of picking up all the ribbing stitches meant that this pattern was really really easy.
It was just what I needed to get out of the slump I've been in, finishing project after project.
I started this one once I got that dreadful yarn and bound off five days later. (One of those days it was doomed to sit on the bathroom counter to dry.)
Now, I did have some problems when picking up the stitches. The first arm I picked up, I had to pick up fewer stitches because otherwise I'd end up with near 70 instead of 52. The second arm I had to pick up extras because otherwise I'd end up with only 40. Then when I got to the body, I picked up every stitch I could find and still only came up with 160 instead of 180. But it all turned out okay.
I could have bound off a bit looser on the body, but it fits just fine.
Unfortunately I never wear shrugs and this color looks terrible on me.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. My mom has expressed interest, but I don't think she would wear it either. I do have a niece it would fit, but I'm not sure she would like the color.
Oh well.
I really enjoyed knitting it, and I guess that's what counts.

I still have two full skeins and a partial ball leftover. I'll probably knit something for my SIL's newest baby. Maybe this cardigan, but maybe not because I don't trust my sewing skills with a baby who will chew buttons.

I still have a full plate as far as WIPS go...
1) Tomten Jacket
2) Baby Blanket
3) Hardcore Sweater
4) Smitten Garland
5) WOTA top-down raglan (haven't touched it in forever. in fact, i don't know where it is.)
6) Calcetines Azules
7) Hexipuffs (I'm up to 27 now, which is like 2% done.)
8) Legwarmers
9) Mara for Mom
10) Vest (probably also for mom)
11) Pony
12) Big Purse with Buttons (needs strap)
13) Super Secret Surprise Present for Someone Special
14) Bunny Slippers (sadly still faceless)
15) Fingerless Gloves
16) Stripey Mitts
17) Orange You Glad Purse (Crochet)

And last night I went ahead and started something new. Kind of. Well, I'm swatching for it. And I'm not getting gauge, so it might go ahead and go back into the stash for a while till I bring the WIP count down a little.
It is this sweater from DROPS: Jacket with Raglan Sleeve and Pattern on Yoke in Silke Alpaca
I'm using some Berocco Ultra Alpaca in a shade called "Buckwheat" which is basically a grey-brown. I didn't get gauge on the 7's, which is good because I really wasn't liking the fabric I was getting. It was much too tight, and I think I might go up to a size 9 instead.
I was having a big inner debate last night over whether I should knit the free DROPS pattern or wheter I should shell out $7 for the Ysolda Teague design, the Vine Yoke Cardigan. I don't know why, but I feel like making a cardigan. I hate sewing on buttons....
So anyways, I decided that it's not a good idea to shop online in the middle of the night, so I chose the free design. We'll see if I stick with it; I would like to bring down the wip count, after all...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Natural Dyeing Clas

Meet Anni Redding.
She is a spinner, a weaver and a dyer.
I learned about her through the American River Conservancy, several years ago when she put on a Natural Dyeing class. This was when my mom was working at the ARC, so I was probably around 14 or 15 years old. Which meant that I had just begun knitting and didn't really care about the sheepy parts or the dyeing parts or the spinning parts. I just cared about the yarn, and actually I only used Red Heart and other acrylics at that time, and I really only cared about the finished product. Shame.

My mom had her sample cards from the first class and as time went on I thought more on how really cool it was that she got to go to that class.
I started to keep my eye out for it again.
When I was working at the ARC, the opportunity arose. Anni was ready to do another class. Unfortunately it was on a Saturday, and I worked on Saturdays. More importantly, it was $65 and I was young enough to consider that a fortune and I wasn't knitting as much in those days anyways.
Finally, Anni did the class again. Because of the cost it was difficult to get people to attend the workshop, but 4 people did end up signing up. Yet, for some unknown reason, I was the only one who actually showed up. Which means I got one-on-one instruction and it was really really cool. I felt like an alchemist's apprentice.
So. Enough of the wordy backstory. Here are all the pictures I took.

This book was awesome. I spent a bit of time leafing through it and it is much better than the book I have on the subject (The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing)

This is Anni's Yarn Monster- the leftovers from older workshops.

All three dyed with onion skins. 1) iron mordant 2) tin mordant 3) alum mordant

mini-skeins waiting to be dyed

she had 21 pots in her outdoor workshop!

I don't really know what washing soda is, but apparently it's the same as soda ash. Which, i don't know what that is either.

A rainbow of yarns

Punctelia Lichen (it comes out PURPLE!!!) is found on oaks

Madder from Anni's Garden (Madder root produces rich red)

Anni's binder full of fiber samples from a 1990 workshop with Trudy Van Stralen

Yarns dyed with Pokeberry

Marigold petals, ready to go (when boiling this smells like perfume)

Beautiful shade of yarn, produced with Oak Galls and an Iron mordant

Another book we peeked thorugh

Logwood. One of these was post-mordanted with washing soda. The washing soda one is much bluer, though you can't tell in this picture.

Dyed with Staghorn Lichen

closeup of madder leaf structure

two on left: marigold, two on right: staghorn lichen

actually, a watched pot does boil

sample dyestuffs

punctelia lichen, after 10 weeks preparation

madder root liquid

oak galls chopped to powder in a blender

Anni's handspun

marigold and staghorn lichen

indigo dyes and overdyes


more handspun

marigold overdyed with indigo= green

staghorn lichen overdyed= green

staghorn lichen is found on pines

indigo dyed fabric

pokeberry yarn

indigo-dyed fiber

this color remover is used to prepare the indigo for dyeing
 And finally
My very own sample card.
I also received a 10 page packet including recipes, basic information about mordants and safety procedures, and where to find certain dyestuffs and chemicals. I had so much fun, and I learned a lot.
Here is the complete list of dyes we used:
1) Staghorn Lichen
came out bright yellow
2) Marigold
smelled like perfume
came out darker yellow, but still very bright
3) Madder
smelled like medicine
came out very pretty red
4) Logwood
5) Saxon Blue Indigo
this recipe involved sulfuric acid
we used this to dye and to overdye
6) Black Walnut
supposed to come out brown, but ended up greenish, probably because the walnuts were young
7) Cochineal 
these insects grow on cacti
they smell really really bad. like dead crickets
and that's before they're cooking
beautiful colors. very red.
8) Onion Skins
smells delicious. like my house ;)
yellows/oranges/browns, depending on mordants
9) Red Clay
did not come out red
comes out sort of light tan instead.
doesn't smell much
but is really sloggy
10) Punctelia Lichen
so beautiful
uses ammonia
takes 10 weeks to prepare the lichen
i didn't even attempt to smell it because of the ammonia

Finally, we had enough time to do an Indigo Dye Vat. Which... I was really disappointed because if only my shrug was dry from it's blocking, I could have brought it along and finished it in the car and then dipped it in the vat and been done with it altogether.

SO anyways
that's what i was up to yesterday. now today? i want to sit back and finish my shrug. And probably watch teletubbies with my son.
this morning we put it on (for the first time ever) and he saw them pop out of their little holes and his jaw dropped and his pacifier fell out and rolled away. it was so adorable. :)