Monday, September 21, 2015

New WIP: Arya mitts

I've made a start on the Arya Mitts by Patti Waters. This is another project towards my Stash Match.

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I'm glad that I'm finally using this yarn because it is beautiful. This yarn was a gift in a swap from several years ago. It's Cherry Tree Hill Supersock. Very pretty in the skein, but as I was winding it I fell in love with the colours even more. It's subtly variegated in blues, greens, and purples - I thought it might be too busy for this cable pattern at first, but I think it will work okay. The twisted-stitch cables are surprisingly intuitive!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

FO: Cinnamon Stone Shawl

The greenest shawl ever is finished.

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Pattern: Cinnamon Stone Shawl by Verybusymonkey

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Yarn: Old Maiden Aunt Merino Superwash 4-Ply in Emerald City colourway


Before I start criticizing the pattern, I want to say that it is beautiful and I love the result with some reservations. I think it is very worth knitting if you like the look of it, but be prepared to deal with some issues. The first half of the shawl went smoothly and was very enjoyable, but my troubles began once I hit chart 3.

First, the pattern along the bottom edge follows three charts - my first thought was to tape the charts together to form one seamless huge chart. But alas! The charts are different sizes, so the rows do not line up. If I had been more committed, I would have done some print sizing experimentation, but I just lived with it. It slowed me down and caused me to grumble a bit, but oh well.

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Second, there are some errors in the pattern(or maybe the pattern is totally fine and I'm just losing my mind - always possible). Other ravelers also ran into trouble where I did, which makes me think the pattern is to blame rather than my pattern-reading skills. Frustrating, but these things happen. Thank goodness for Ravelry. Anyway, I followed some very helpful notes to fix the problems - I've linked to them in my Rav notes here.

I'm not entirely happy with the lace at the bottom edge - I feel like the fact that it is reverse stockinette makes the YOs look messy and undefined. I much prefer the way the middle section looks with extra knit stitches thrown in for contrast and to define the lace a bit more. Does that make sense? It's still pretty, but not as crisp as the rest of it.

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My final small disappointment is that the way I prefer to wear shawlettes doesn't show off the gloriousness of this lace pattern. Sigh. (This is my own issue, not a fault of the pattern, though the pattern schematic is a bit misleading when it comes to shawl shape. Or maybe I just blocked it wrong?) I think this would look fabulous worn over the shoulders with the lace flowing down the back... like my picture on the chair above. I tend to wear things bandit-style, however; this particular arrangement crumples up the lace in this case. (I have made plenty of triangle and crescent-shaped shawls that do not do this, so it's not a function of shape so much as lace placement, I think.) It's fine, though - even if the lace gets crumpled when I wear it, it's still totally the greenest thing I own. GREEN FTW.

The only mod I made was to forgo the picot bind-off in favour of a standard stretchy bind-off.

Altogether mixed results, but I'll wear it with love this autumn/winter. And the yarn is still my favourite.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Moar swaps

This has been the summer of swaps. In addition to the sock/shawl swap, I also took part in a more standard gift swap. I sent fun things to someone, and a third person sent fun things to me - it was the standard secret kind of swap where nobody knew who would be sending them stuff. As it turns out, Erin sent me a delightful package of wonderfulness. It's fun to get post!

Local was the theme of this package. Erin lives in NYC and is originally from Savannah - so she packed it full of things from both places.

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Let's talk about that gradient. It's handspun and it is rustic and beautiful. I can't decide what to make with it - maybe the Moab Shawl by Verybusymonkey, or something similar.

Also included in the package were fancy flavoured sugars, exciting chocolate (goat, sheep AND cow milk varieties), honey soap, and blueberry jam. Particularly of note is the jam, produced by Anarchy in a Jar. Here's something you might not know about me: for the last 13 years (apparently), whenever I talk / think about jam this old Weebl and Bob video comes to mind. (Now you know!) Anyway, this anarchic jam is only going to reinforce the association I have between jam and revolt. (Plus it is delicious.)

Thanks, Erin! I'm truly spoiled.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sock/Shawl Swap, part 2

Last post I showed you the shawl I made for the socks/shawls swap. Here are the socks I got in return!

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They are the Pandora's Box Socks. The picture fails to capture the beautiful bright purple undertones to the yarn. They are so soft!

Kristi, my talented swap partner, used a Fish Lips Kiss heel - I've never tried this heel, but I definitely will in the future. Standard short row heels never fit me very well, so I stick with heel flaps. But this heel fits me really well, even though it resembles a short row heel.

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Colours are all wrong in this picture, but there is the pretty cuff detail.

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She also sent me some goodies, including tea towel and hand made buttons. Can we talk about how awesome these buttons are? They are copper with enamel, and she made them herself. I am so impressed. For now they are living in my button stash looking pretty, but soon I'll come up with a project for them.

Thanks again, Kristi! It's been a pleasure swapping with you.

Friday, August 21, 2015

FO: stripey shawl

I made a thing, but not for me. It was for another socks/shawl swap, and it was a lot of fun. Last year I made someone else socks in exchange for a shawl; this year I am bored of making socks, so I made someone else a shawl to swap for socks.

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Pattern: Itaca by Stephen West

Yarn: Ito Kinu

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I didn't add the shells / beads on the bind-off edge, but otherwise followed the pattern as written. The yarn is 100% tussah silk, and I really enjoyed working with it. It has a pleasant nubbly texture and a pretty depth of colour, in an almost tweed-y way.

I'm hesitant to commit to using it again, however; upon blocking, the shawl acquired a really strong musty smell. I'm told this sometimes happens to silk, though this definitely wasn't the 'fishy' smell that also sometimes happens with silk. Anyway, I managed to get the smell out, I think. I tried many things, but what seemed to work in the end was washing in regular laundry detergent (by hand) and rinsing in citric acid. Then hanging it outdoors for a few days. So, although I like the yarn, I have my reservations about it. Hopefully I just got a bad batch.

Next up, I'll show you what I received in return!

Linking up with FO Friday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WIP: Greenest Shawl

I've made some progress on my Cinnamon Stone shawl. The rows definitely feel long now, and it no longer seems to fly by. I'm still excited to see the pattern coming through, though!

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Plus, I've reached the stage where the lace pattern for each row is on 3 separate charts. Definitely not television knitting, this! I haven't done anything with such an involved chart in a while, but it is going well. Luckily, the wrong-side rows have no lace, so my brain gets a bit of a rest then.

What are you working on? See some other WIPs at Stitch-Along Wednesday.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Yarn dyeing with onion skins

Since my experiment with tea-dyed yarn a few years ago, I've been curious about what else I can use to dye yarn. A member of my knitting group suggested onion skins, so I started looking into it. Upon finding out that onion skins can dye without a mordant, I set out to give it a try.

It took me several months to collect enough onion skins - I didn't have a precise amount I was aiming for, but I'd read that more is better. We tend to use yellow/brown onions, so those are the skins I saved. I collected them until I was fed up. I didn't weigh them, so I can't say how much I actually had in the end. Just call it a shedload.

To prepare the dye solution, I tried to shove all skins into my too-small pot, let them simmer for about an hour, and then strained the skins out. Boiled onion skins smell pretty terrible, FYI. I was surprised at how red the dye solution was.

I let the solution cool a little while I soaked my yarn. Since I am technically on stash down I couldn't buy any new yarn, so I used some undyed 4-ply alpaca that I had in my stash. Then I put the yarn in the pot and started simmering it again. The picture above shows the colour once I had put my yarn in - the yarn started taking up colour really quickly.

After simmering it for about 45 minutes, I was sick of the boiled onion skin fumes, so I turned it off and let it cool. There was still plenty of colour in the dye bath, though it was a bit lighter than at the beginning. If I was dedicated, I probably could have saved the rest of the dye and used it again on something else. Or maybe I could have used fewer onion skins to begin with.

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Picture above is what I ended up with.

Oh hey, it's brown! Surprise, surprise.

When I washed the yarn it lost a bit of colour, but not too much - the water became tinged yellow. It looked much more orange/red when wet, but it dried to be a light orange-y brown. My first thought when I looked at it dry was that it was exactly like my tea-dyed yarn. Upon comparing the two, however, I see that they are quite different.

See my tea-dyed sock with my onion-dyed yarn below. The sock is darker and less red/orange, though it does have reddish undertones that don't come through well in the photo.

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Tea sock with Onion yarn. A Study in Contrasts.
My problem now is what to knit with this yarn! It's a delightfully soft, delicate 100% alpaca 4-ply. Not suitable for socks - really, it would be best around the neck! It's not a colour I like to wear near my face, though. It may have to wait for a contrasting skein of alpaca to join my stash (next year, perhaps?) and become something striped to mediate the orange-y brown-ness of it. Any ideas?

I didn't follow any particular tutorials to the letter, but here are a few links that helped me figure it all out:
Ways of the Whorl
It's a Stitch Up
Lion Brand
Folk Fibers

Altogether it was a fun experiment. Maybe I'll try red onion skins some time!