Thursday, September 27, 2007

Big Day Off!

Yesterday I took the day off for no particular reason except I didn't feel like working anymore, and it was lovely. I did lots of creative things! Some of them involving knitting. but it says "craft" right in the subtitle so I will have no qualms about posting non-knitting content.

I made prints!
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The apples are linoleum prints, and the pears are some kind of rubbery block printing material. The linoleum is a lot harder to cut, but I can get nicer detail with it, and the edges don't break off the way the rubbery stuff does. I haven't made prints in years. I really need to get new cutting tools, because apparently last time I used them I put them away wet, and now some of them are a little rusty and I suspect all of them are duller than they should be.

I love making prints. They are awesome. I think I might start a series of prints of microorganisms. Geeky crafty fun!

I also kept working on a dress I've been sewing up for a while. I already had the front, and yesterday I did the back and started work on the facing, which was confusing and made me stop because I was so confused. But I have an actual dress than can be put on now, albeit a dress that needs to be pinned at the shoulders.

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This is basically a trial dress in inexpensive fabric to make sure that I can handle the pattern and that it looks OK on me. This pattern takes a lot of fabric, and I didn't want to practice on something nice. The pattern is "Vintage Vogue" V2903 -- I got it at one of those lovely JoAnn sales where all the patterns are $2-$4. It makes me look a bit broader than I would like, but partly that's just because I although I would like to look like a 1950's dress pattern illustration, my body dimensions, underwear choices, and posture are non-cooperative.

Knitting-wise, I finished the Hanami stole. It still needs to be blocked, though:

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I tried to start blocking it last night, but it was too much work after a long day of craftiness. The middle is a lot skinnier than the ends, and I'm not sure the best way to overcome that. Also it is going to be smaller than it was supposed to be, even blocked (checked gauge at the beginning, where it was wider than it is in the stockinette section in the middle -- I probably should have only gone down one needle size rather than two. But it will still be cool I think. I wish I had blocking wires -- I think I'm going to get some soon.

I made a couple of little changes to this pattern -- I left off the beads, and I deliberately messed up the final part of the pattern. The number of "petals" gradually increases until the end of the shawl, when there are 32 rows of yarnover, k2tog (or psso), which looked too even for me after the messier bits above (you can see it in the last picture on this page. So I just stuck in random knit stitches whenever I felt like it. I think it worked out nicely. When I started my abortive attempt at blocking last night, I noticed that I had dropped a few stitches -- it was not easy to tell as I knit since the alpaca has a moderately self-grippy quality -- so I had to go in and fix those.

If I had this to knit over again, I would go up a needle size for the middle portion. Or something. The stockinette portion is just a lot narrower than the yarnover-heavy portions, at least the way I knit.

And a couple of quick updates:

I finished the Blackberry Mittens, although I don't seem to have any photos of them handy.

Also, many thanks to Naomi and Robbyn, I think I have salvaged the green dyed yarn -- I will avoid green in the future I think, but as long as I wash this stuff with gentle soaps and detergents I think it will be usable. I'm definitely keeping it for my own use, though, since I worry it might just be waiting to screw things up the next time it gets in the water.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Experiments in dyeing

So when I posted about my stash a few weeks ago, I noted that I had a big pile of oatmeal-colored worsted that I kind of hated and didn't know what to do with. Naomi suggested that I dye it, and what a bright young woman she is! I decided to use food coloring, because I didn't want to mess up my pots and pans with non-food-safe colorants. I used to have a pot I used for soapmaking which would have done, but I guess I got rid of that at some point (I haven't made soap in years) because I certainly don't seem to have it anymore.

Anyhow, I used the crock pot, roughly as described here. I'm very happy with the results overall.


These process pictures are from my second batch, which was royal blue with a bit of brown to soften it up.

The yarn soaking:

The dye stock mixture and food coloring bottles:

Dye and yarn in the pot:

After a few hours in the hot crock the dye exhausts:

And here's what it looks like dry!

I also did a couple of skeins of purple, and I dyed a skein of really hideous nylon/mohair blend grey laceweight red and black -- I think it is much less hideous now. I had a failure, though. My biggest batch turned out to not be colorfast. What do I do? I've been rinsing and rinsing, and the water's always green. I'm not sure whether it's salvageable. I'd really like it to be, since I'd like a third dark jewel-tone color -- I'm planning to combine it with the plain leftover oatmeal-colored yarn in a a hat and mittens, and a third color would be nice.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fingerless gloves, lacey progress, knitting in public, and yarn lust.

I just finished a pair of Hooray For Me fingerless gloves, which were a nice fun little pattern, and which allowed me to use that forlorn single ball of sock yarn that I was semi-despairing of finding a use for. The pattern calls for 1.5 skeins of Regia Multi Effekt, but I was able to do it with less than one skein of Trekking. I was ready to do the fingers in another yarn if necessary, but I ended up having more Trekking left over than I had of my accent color (leftover Jawoll from the Bayerische Sock -- that pattern devours wool), so I just did them in MC. Action shot -- they're comin' to getcha!!!

Very cute I think! I am not much of a fingerless glove person, but I may get a bit of use out of these in the fall and early winter. I do appreciate fingerless gloves on an intellectual level -- how nice to be able to wear gloves and knit and text and work my iPod without having to use my nose on the clickwheel! -- but I this will be the first pair I've ever owned.

Still plugging away on the Hanami Shawl. I've finished the basketweave section and have moved on to the free-form falling-petal section, which is mostly stockinette really at the moment. I kept having to rip back towards the end of the basketweave section -- I had just turned my brain right off or something -- but I seem to be back on the right track now.

Behold, the glory of unblocked lace knitting:

Well, at least it's getting longer:

I got a lot of knitting done last week on the train. I went to Rockport to go ocean kayaking, which was great fun, and I knitted up a storm. On the way back there was a little girl (she said she was four) out with a big group of her relatives, who I think were visiting from China. She was being a bit of a hellion and running up and down the aisle and being very loud and boisterous. She saw me knitting and she stopped dead for a second and said, "What you doing?" and I said that I was knitting, and that I was making a shawl out of yarn. Then she showed me a picture of her with Chuck E. Cheese, and told me she wanted to be a ship when she grew up, and we had a nice conversation for much of the rest of the trip back to Boston. Once she calmed down a little she was super-cute.

I've decided I want to try to learn to knit continental-style; sometimes English feels too stressful on my wrists, and I'd like to have another way. When I first started knitting, I knit English and purled continental, but that didn't work once I progressed beyond stockinette and had to switch back and forth between knit and purl in the same row, and for whatever reason, I chose to go English.

Anyway, since I figure I'll need an easy but interesting project to work on while I retrain myself, I bought some Noro Silk Garden on Thursday to make me a purty scarf. And I got some boring old stitch markers and needle point covers, too. While I was checking out, I noticed the Malabrigo laceweight they had at the counter. Ooh! I had previously been unaware of the existence of Malabrigo laceweight! While they were running my credit card, I was fondling the yarn. I love the Malabrigo worsted anyhow, and I now I can't wait to make something out of the laceweight, possibly something like Lacey from Knitty. I couldn't resist, and I ended up going back the next day for the Malabrigo laceweight in the Loro Barranquero colorway (I looked it up, and apparently that is a kind of Patagonian burrowing parrot that has historically been considered a pest but which is now endangered or threatened or something). So, in closing -- yarn porn!
Aww, sookie sookie.