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!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

FO: Varia

A few weeks ago I started and finished a project without it making an appearance on the internet.

Yeah, it was quick! I love an instant gratification project every now and then.

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Pattern: Varia by Alex Tinsley

Yarn: Jamieson and Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight (held double).

Notes: No mods, super quick, very enjoyable. J&S is maaaaybe not the best yarn for slouchiness, at least not at this gauge, since it is quite sturdy. But it is certainly the best yarn for colourwork.

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My grandma requested another hat, and as I have already made her two Coronets, I wanted to try something different this time. When pressed, her brief was "something with various shades of blue." So here we are! In the shop, the middle shade looked more blue than teal - but as it turns out, the world is conspiring to make me buy teal yarn even when I don't realise I'm doing it. I'm onto you...

Linking up with FO Friday a day late here.