Yarn and the stuff I make with it

Adventures and exploits with yarn, knits, crochet and other crafts.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A shocking blocking

My dog decided to be an asshole and piss all over my laundry bag. This, naturally, led to me scooping up all the clothes in the vicinity and throwing them indiscriminately into the washer.

Imagine my surprise when, idiot me, took the clothes out of the washer, only to discover my Argyle Lace Hat lurking in between the clothes.

This hat, as you recall, was made of fingering-weight merino wool purchased at the state fair in 2009. It's a single-ply, handspun, so not unlike a lot of the felting gods of the knitting world, like Lamb's Pride or Paton's SWS.

In any case, here's what happened.Um...pretty much nothing. It's slightly less poufy, but barely felted at all. The thing is, it feels AMAZING. I never really thought this was of the highest quality merino, it was kind of just...regular wool feeling before. Now it seriously feels like Malabrigo lace merino, among the softest yarn anyone has ever felt. Awesome.
It's like the knitting goddess was like "Hey, I know that was totally an accident caused by an asshole basset, and not knitting disrespect so uh, don't worry. I got your back on this one."
As you can see from the original picture on my project page, I think the lace pattern is even more visible and better looking now. Nice. What have you been up to?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Aggressive lace blocking without a blocking table

I love lace knitting and am (obviously) quite obsessed with fingering/lace weight shawls lately, but I kept running into the issue of how to block it. Safety pins + towel on the floor wasn't really cutting it for something that could (and should) increase in size so much after knitting.
After many a lace shawl became unsatisfactorily blocked using this process, I devised a system for blocking aggressively without investing in a blocking table (or hauling myself down to Target to get a ginormous piece of cardboard to do it on.)
Hence the lawn-as-blocking table technique was born. I tried this a few times, using straight pins, and found that the wind kept knocking the pins out of the ground. Finally, I decided, screw it, I'll just use knitting needles.
Hence, I am now (re)blocking my shawl thusly.
After soaking your shawl in warm water, take a couple of towels outside onto this grass (this really only works when the ground is clean, so obviously as winter comes I'll have to devise something new). Lay them out, covering enough ground to stretch the shawl as far as you want it to go.
Start by stabbing the shawl in the central increases yarn overs, to hold it into place. Then, using straight, metal needles (of which I have many) start placing them in lacy sections of the shawl that you want to stretch. I started by stabbing a few in the corners (since this was a triangular shawl...have yet to make a circular shawl and test this out). Then I started along the top edge and bottom border, placing the needles in places where they wouldn't disrupt the yarn or pattern (such as yarn over holes). I kept doing this around the length of the shawl, till it was in a satisfactory shape and size for my tastes. Lace weight yarn dries *really* quickly in the sun, so I suggest continuing to wet it with a wet washcloth as you go along, so as not to tear the yarn. Since the needles are metal, long, and hard (lol) you can stab them straight through the towel and into the ground far enough to securely hold it in place. This is working infinitely better for me than straight pins on *any* surface has so far.
I took a few pictures, which I'll post tonight, but I wanted to write this out before I forgot. This is so much better than any other method I've done.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New hat, needs, wants, and questions.

So I'm back and I hope I won't have another hiatus from knitting (as well as this blog) for a while. I can at least explain why I haven't been knitting in the past three months. I was working from June to August at a horriblly run summer camp, averaging about ten hours a day. There was no real time to knit during the day, being out in the sun and needing to look after all the little kiddies and by the time I'd get home wadding through an hour of traffic, I was just way to tired to concentrate on mi knits. Pretty sloppy, I know. But I'm back...so yay!

Here's the hat I'm knitting for el bf, Jim, in exchange for his old ipod nano.

I picked out the fibres - cotton (it was june when we shopped for the yarn and I had planned to make that month), he picked out the colors - an earthy palette of brown and green, we picked out the pattern - cocoknits simple slouchy hat, though I'm changing it up a bit. Firstly, due to the massiveness of Jim's head I cast on 90 stitches, which might have been overkill but we'll see. Secondly, I'm striping obviously. Thirdly, I'm not doing the twisted rib throughout it. I did a twisted rib rim then switched to stockinette for fear of how striping would look with the rib. What can I say? I'm a wuss. I will use cocoknits finishing technique though, because I've never seen it before and it doesn't use decreases. I do experiment sometimes! Basically, you turn the hat inside out, divide the stitches in half and use a three needle bind-off on them, then finally whip stitch the corners together. I'm interested in seeing how it'll turn out.

So I feel a lack of heathers in my life. I feel as though it's been years since I worked with heathered yarn. In reality, I think the last time I worked with them was actually in december when I drove back to Philly with MSP_Import before New Year's and I started to knit some convertible mittens. So my need right now is yarn with some pretty heathers in it.

My want is to be faster at knitting. I watched a tutorial today and the host of it was just flying with her continental style. I'm somewhat of an ambidextrous knitter now, though I'm usually english only when the pattern involves any yarnovers, though I can fake them with continental. I just wanna be a super fast knitter like this lady was. I guess I'll just have to keep practicing.

Lastly, here are some questions for this post. One of my works in progress had an accident with something that was red. I have no idea what it was, but it left a huge stain on the lace shawl I was working on. So I was just wondering if you ladies had some tips on getting mystery stains out of your knits? I'd like to finish it, especially because it was intended to be a gift. Any suggestions would be really helpful.

Also, where your knits at?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Please enjoy the music while your party is being reached...

Da da da da do do do do do

Da da da da dee dummm

That is the sound of me impatiently waiting on hold to find out what the hell yinz are knitting.I'm finishing up my test knit lace shawl. Messed up the fifth repeat, and did a (probably very bad idea) k2tog to hide an extra stitch...lets hope I don't regret it later.

In the meantime, please enjoy the drunk dog photo.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Test knits and a dye job

Recently, I test knit a design for a fellow Raveler. It's now up on Ravelry, and Andrew did such a good job photographing the legwarmers I knit, that his photographs are featured on the project page. Check it out here.

I had a lot of fun knitting these legwarmers. They were super easy and portable--the good qualities of socks, except without the annoying heel turning and picking up for gusset blah-blah (OK sue me, I hate sock knitting and only do it because I have enough love in my heart to give them out as gifts). Additionally, they're really stretchy and work over jeans and just on your skin without stupidly falling down (is that some sort of "look" now with legwarmers?). I had realized I needed a pair though, because that's about my only non-sufficiently-covered area when it's super cold (leggings under pants are a start, but not woolen).

Also, I finished working on the Colonnade Shawl in a fingering yarn. I really thought I could figure out a way to make the colorway not look as gross as it did, but I failed. You can see what the colorway looks like here. I had no choice but to resort to grape Kool-Aid. Here's the result of my first venture in dyeing.

This is two parts red Kool-Aid one part purple. The yarn is Serenity Sock which is 50% merino, 25% bamboo and 25% nylon. After doing some research, I found Kool-Aid dyeing doesn't work with synthetics, but nylon is the one exception. It doesn't work on bamboo, but since the bamboo content was low compared to the rest of the materials, I decided to go for it. I like the result a loooot more than the original colors. Serenity sock is quite cheap and feels pretty nice, but damn if those colorways aren't ugly. The good news is that it takes dye well.

This image, I think, makes it look more pinky-purple, whereas it's almost got a copper tinge to it (more like the first photo). Either way though...WAY better than that pink-green vomit mess.

I also realized I hadn't uploaded a picture of my Multnomah. Count 'em--2 finished shawls in fingering weight yarn. I'm a friggin' champ.

1. Check out that hair on me, eh?

2. This is another yarn that's difficult to photograph. This is Malabrigo Sock (probably my favorite yarn, ever, for the colors) in Abril. It's more purple in real life (like the one where I'm wearing it) but for some reason the blue really pops when it's photographed. Either way, we all know I'm a total whore for blues and purples, so there you go.

My dog is so cute.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Common sense

Common sense is not the strong point of Minnesotans. This is a lesson I learned incredibly early on in my time here. When confronted with an issue, if a solution is not smacking-them-in-the-face obvious, Minnesotans are likely to become paralyzed with an inability to act. They think the situation is simply unchangeable.

I think this comes from their roots as a mostly Scandinavian culture. You may find this shocking, considering the novelty of Scandinavian knitting. However, I believe there is an inherent inability to adapt. Unlike, say, the Somali population of Minneapolis. Talk about adaptation there. War-torn north African "country" with requisite weather, to America's icebox, Minnesota, home of the "Minnesota nice" never-offend mentality. And yet, all the Somalis I've met seem to just be carrying on with it.

Scandinavians, however, when confronted with the possibility of emigrating, did what? Chose the part of the country that is exactly like their homeland. No judgment or anything. But I'm just saying that's not exactly a creative choice.

Anyway, for an example, even just today, I walked into Andrew hand washing clothes in the bathtub. He was continuously dunking a deoderant-stained shirt into the water, pathetically repetitively plunging it in and out of the water, as though it would suddenly remove the stain or exposure to air would smooth the process along. I noted, "You need to scrub that off."

"With what, though?? I don't have anything." See? No immediate solution (as in, nothing sitting directly next to him that would have accomplished the task) followed by immediate paralysis of action. I walked into the kitchen, grabbed a new sponge and handed it to him. Presto! Stain gone.

This, unfortunately, is so culturally embedded, that even a no-nonsense, blue-collar 'get it done' type of girl like me can occasionally be afflicted. I spent way too much time on Ravelry today, admiring a cropped cardigan pattern I liked. I seriously contemplated what yarn I could use and then wanted to download the pattern. It was $6.50. As I'm trying to be frugal, this was not going to work. I spent about 20 minutes mentally reconstructing it in my head. "Oh, I could do that if I find the stitch pattern online..."

Then, hours later, I realized, "Hey, Krista, you're super into the idea of a cropped cardigan right now. And you're actually considering (un)designing one. Don't you um...have a half finished cropped cardigan in your stash?"

Oh yes, that's right. My featherweight. Common sense. I'm losing it. Help.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An open letter to crochet.

Dear Crochet,

I have been extremely proud of myself over the past year and half, for being bi-crafty. I shunned discussions which pitted knitting versus crochet. True, I had learned knitting first, and it was my first love. But, I found knowledge of only one way of manipulating yarn to be unsatisfactory. I was practically entirely self taught in crochet; that's how eager I was to learn.

Granted, I never did as *much* crocheting as I did knitting. I always assumed this was due to taking a class which required us to knit, on top of the larger quantities of patterns available for knitting garments as opposed to crochet.

Still, I made my mother a lovely scarf out of crochet, and was amazed at how fast it went. I know, I'm a slow knitter and could really stand to work on my technique, but crochet! So fast! So easy! Soon, I was even making a crocheted purse. A purse! This is something I still haven't done with knitting (though some lovely patterns have caught my eye). And then, shockingly, my first garment was a crocheted shirt, which I still wear (though I should have seen the warning signs coming when the sleeves were fussy).

I also should have maybe allowed the unconscious thoughts I was having--man most crocheted things look really tacky, or wow this hook is just not doing it for me like needles--to come to the forefront, but I was hell-bent on not being discriminatory.

Crochet, you are supposed to be here for me after all that. When I need a last minute gift, I need you there to help me whip up something pretty in no time. Knitting is labor and time intensive. You have that on it. Stand proud!

So why, oh why, is this hat taking me for-fucking-ever? This birthday was weeeeeks ago. I have never entered a black hole of crochet; that's reserved for knitting.

And then today, I come back to it, thinking I'll finish it off. I even reflected on how pretty the Mulberry Merino looked in double crochet...I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. My gauge is off, but it's crocheting smaller than the original pattern. Should be fine. And the pattern calls for "Less than 3 oz of worsted weight yarn" and I have two skeins of 1.76 oz each. Perfect.


Now I not only look like a terrible friend, but you've knotted up some expensive yarn for fucking nothing. Good job, crochet, good job. Oh, and you're taking forever on top of that.

That's it. I'm done. Crocheting looks completely tacky 99.9% of the time, and it's not worth it for that .01% of the time. Know why? BECAUSE I COULD JUST FUCKING KNIT IT AND HAVE IT LOOK JUST AS GOOD OR BETTER!

I said it. I'm a knitter. Fuck crochet.

I'm out.