Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WIP: wee flags

The stranded colourwork portion of my Sweet Bunting cardigan is complete. Next up - i-cords.

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I did the colourwork back and forth, as written. Previously, I've only done stranded colourwork in the round, so this was something new. And you know, it wasn't as horrifically terrible as I imagined it would be!

I've never steeked anything either, and I thought that for 8 rows of colour pattern, I could probably stand doing it back and forth instead of rewriting the pattern to involve cutting and slicing. Rowan Pure Wool DK seems like it would be a terrible yarn for steeking in any case - it's pretty smooth and not at all sticky. Have any of you steeked with it? How did it go?

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The main problem I had doing colourwork on the purl side was that apparently I can't purl in "English" style for the life of me. (This is funny because I know I've heard some English-style knitters say that they can't learn how to purl continentally. To each their own...) I'm a continental knitter (a picker) normally, and for colourwork I hold one colour in each hand. My right hand knits English (throws), and my left hand knits continental. On the purl side I ended up holding both colours in my left hand so I could "pick" both of them. This probably could have done all sorts of terrible things to my tension, but it looks okay, so I'm not going to worry about it.

More WIPs over at Tami's Amis

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy bug earrings

Trawling the internet one fine day, I found some stud earrings with buttons on them. I was seized with earring-love. I thought, I can make something like these!

Button-shopping followed, but without a clear idea of what I wanted, I ended up walking away with some adorable lady bug buttons, rather than the standard round, two or four hole kind I initially considered. I soon acquired some earring posts, and I was on my way.

A few hours later, I had these:

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Because I used buttons that have a loop at the back, rather than a flat surface with holes, I engaged in some cutting and slicing. The red and black parts are separate pieces of plastic that can be taken apart and snapped back together. The loop in the back was part of the red piece, and it held the two parts together snuggly. Once I had removed the plastic loop with some wire cutters, the two pieces slipped apart easier, so I glued them together with superglue. Then I glued the whole lot to a gold-filled earring post. Here I balked slightly while trying not to glue myself / any of the bits to anything, and ended up enlisting the help of DH who is a superglue pro. I've mentioned before that we're both makers, and in this case I'm proud to say he had a hand in my excellent earrings!

Tada!

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They are a bit larger than I generally go for in earrings with posts, but I do love them. Next time I try this with a button this size, I may get posts with a larger platform. I'm not convinced there is enough contact between the two surfaces, and I keep expecting the lady bugs to snap off.

I still want something like those other button studs, though. Good thing I have loads of earring posts left, and plenty of button-finding opportunities ahead.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cuppa yarn

I like tea. Between the two of us, we drink a substantial amount of it - since living here I have definitely acquired a tea-drinking habit. Can you blame me when it is July and today the sun made its first appearance in weeks - for about 30 seconds - before going away again. Tea drinking is essentially a comfortable/comforting activity.

I started saving used tea bags in the freezer for the purposes of dyeing yarn a while back, and then forgot about it. The yogurt containers full of dodgy-looking frozen teabags sat forlorn in the freezer for months taking up valuable space. When Pumpkin Spins started her series on dyeing with food safe dyes, I remembered all that saved tea, and had a dye evening.

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It turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself! This is 75% wool 25% nylon sock yarn that was originally a natural shade of white.

I followed tiina teaspoon's tutorial, sort of. I have no idea what weight of old tea I used to get this shade, but I had about 4 medium-sized yogurt containers full of the frozen bags. Several of the bags got punctured at some point in the process, so there was some loose tea floating around as well. Although I strained the dye bath before I put the yarn in, some of the loose tea was powdery enough to slip through the strainer, which meant it got caught in the yarn. I fear I'll never get it all out! Oh well.

One interesting observation was the tea's effect on the cotton string I used to tie up my skein. Since dyers also use tea to dye cotton, I figured it would dye as well. It barely picked up any colour, however. To be fair, I didn't wash the string beforehand, so maybe it was coated with something that repelled the dye. Or maybe cotton is just more difficult to dye.

Another thing I wasn't prepared for was how terrible it would smell while dyeing. When I have dyed yarn in the past using food colouring and the like, it hasn't smelled amazing, but for some reason the combination of wet wool and stale tea was incredibly gross. Still, I'd do it again. It was fun, and I'll never lack for used tea bags.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SWAP zomg

The weather here has been grim for the last little while. Rainy, or when it isn't raining it's foggy, or gray, and dark - even though we still have many hours of daylight. I try to stay cheerful in the face of awful weather, since there's not much else I can do about it, but I have to admit that it's starting to get to me.

A ray of cheerfulness and excitement permeated the grim, gray morning today, though, since it was opening-up day for the swap I recently participated in on Ravelry. The idea behind the swap was for everyone to send their parcels off on or around a certain day, and then we'd all open them on the same day. Unfortunately, one or two swappers still haven't received their parcels, but they were gracious enough to let the rest of us open up today anyway.

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I've had this parcel taunting me for a few weeks, since my swap partner was super-speedy about sending it to me. To resist the temptation, I kept it hidden under piles of paperwork, but today it came out.

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Then I opened it, greedily.

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And took out all the goodies. Note the postcard that shows a KFC shaped like a chicken. Whahey!

Required in the swap were yarn, a pattern (gifted through Ravelry on the day), a postcard from your home town, and a local item. My swap partner Jen aka phantominblue, lives in Georgia (the US state, not the country), and filled the package full of lovely things with attention to local details.

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First, some gorgeous Shibui sock. Despite the fact that it is so grim outside and there's no light, the colour turned out fairly close. It's full of beautiful greens. She also made some stitch-markers that match the yarn. I do love green. There's also a Gone With the Wind magnet - the author lived in Georgia, and it features prominently in the story. I'm ashamed to admit I've never read it, though I have seen the film.

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Moving on to the consumable items, there's peach tea - because of Georgia's famous peaches, and some local honey. Mmmm honey. Georgia is also home to Coca-Cola, so Jen included some soft-drink-inspired candy in the form of 7-Up jelly beans. In her note, she mentioned that even though 7-Up isn't part of the coke brand, she thought the candies would probably taste better. Fair enough! I'm not a cola fan, in any case, so it works out.

To round it all off, she sent a ravelry gift of Martina Behm's Magrathea pattern. This is a beautiful scarf / shawlette, (with added bonus of being Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy themed) and I'm looking forward to casting on.

So, thank you Jen! This totally made my day, and I feel so spoiled.

Monday, July 02, 2012

WIP: bunting for baby D

I'm knitting a baby sweater. Hard to believe, but this is the first ever baby-sized garment I've made! It seems not too many people around me are having babies, which probably means they'll all start having them at once some time in the future. Anyway. It's for my little cousin/niece/small person(-once-removed-in-law?) who will be a year old this winter.

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The pattern is Sweet Bunting by Laura Chau, which has an adorable colourwork bunting pattern around the yoke. Having done the body section up to the underarms, I'm working on the first sleeve. I haven't reached any of the exciting parts yet, but the stockinette is soothing, and I do enjoy the little seed-stitch cuffs.

Since I've never knit for babies before, I have a question for those with baby-dressing experience. The pattern as written has i-cord ties at the neck to hold the cardigan closed, but no other fastenings. Does this make any sense for a baby garment? In my brain it seems like it would come untied and slip off pretty easily, given baby squirmings, but I don't really know. I'm thinking of adding buttons, since it seems like they'd be more secure that just a bow, but that means adding button holes. What say you, experienced baby wranglers?