Sunday, June 21, 2009

swatch land

I'm feeling a bit discontented.
I finished my socks that were on the needles (toe up basic pattern, knit picks Felici, k7p1 pattern on leg as suggested by Cinnamonamon)
And I was really hot (as in warm) during the photo shoot. So that kind of put me off the idea of starting new socks immediately. Then there was the idea that these were the second pair of socks I'd made almost exactly the same, I decided the next socks were going to have a pattern.

So at the library I found a copy of Socks from the Toe up By Wendy Johnson, and I love love love almost all the socks, but I'm suspecting it is because I love the colors. A lot of her patterns don't work too well with wild stripes or handpaints, which is what makes up the majority of my sock yarn collection. BUT, a quick search on ravelry shows that my Harry Potter sock yarn makes a good version of probably the one sock I didn't like in Wendy's book. (also shows that Jaywalker socks look pretty cool) But both give grave warnings about swatching (which is something I don't often do for socks--and it probably shows given about half my socks come out too big).

The other project I had wanted to start was the dollar and a half cardigan.

What ties these two together? swatching.
I'm deep in swatching land. My dollar and half swatch has showed me, that I need to pay attention to the lace pattern AND I probably need to use a size 6 needle, but I'll swatch that just to be sure--just as soon as I have the energy for the lace pattern--which really shouldn't be tricky after the swallowtail shawl, but it doesn't go row 1-7 it goes 1, 2, 3-6, then flips back to row 2, then something else then row 7. I get lost easily. My sock swatch looks like it could be a barbie minidress and I am not loving the texture. I really want to knit something up with my new handpainted yarn (the skein because I'm not up to the rainbow socks) but I have no idea what it would be.
I'm tired of swatching, I just want to knit something already. If I only knew what.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adventures in color

So, last week I decided that perhaps the last day of school would be the PERFECT day to dye some yarn. Well, it did seem perfect with it being warm and all. I forgot to factor in the kid input, but overall it didn't go too bad.

I had a knit picks sock blank and a skein of "bare" sock yarn, also from KnitPicks. The plan was to dye the sock blank in a rainbow pattern. And I had decided I liked the roygbivroygbiv as opposed to roygbivvibgyor pattern. The skein I wanted to go from a very light blue to a very dark blue. I was using food coloring--designed particularly to use as cake frosting dye. Specifically I was using Americolors gel dye. I took a class about 18 months ago and used this process with good results. In looking through my notes, I found them to be rather vagues, so I wanted to document the process here. I also decided to document my progress via photos.

So first, you soak the yarn for a few hours in a solution of water and vinegar--this part I had spelled out in my notes--3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. So after marking out the spacing on my blank, I soaked the skein and the blank for 4 hours.
marked blank

Then I set up my supplies. Outside.
I had small paintbrushes, the dye, some water to mix it up, saran wrap, paper towels and gloves.
Then I laid out the saran wrap and it blew away.
So then I decided I'd mix up the dye and then do the saran wrap. Basically my notes from the class said a squirt of dye and water added until it looks right. I have no idea what "looks right" meant at that point in time. I fudged it. I think if you wanted to be more exact some old socks would make a great place to test your color palate out. I added probably a teaspoon of dye to 1/2 cup of water. And STIR! The red I bought was not americolor, it was a paste dye and it took significantly more stirring to mix it up and I was not satisfied even then with how it mixed up.


Then I laid out the saran wrap on the table and put the sock blank on that.
laid out
Then I painted the colors on. You do have to really use a lot of liquid to get it to go through. Knit picks shows them using a squirt bottle, and this probably would work too--I liked the feeling of control that the foam brushes gave me. Even with all the liquid I used, the color didn't fully permeate the sock blank.
And as you can see--the red doesn't look RED. Man I'm still mad about that.
rainbow blank

I mixed up the blue and indigo on the rainbow because in the containers after mixing they all looked alike. Another note to make for next time--MARK the colors too.
After you get it all painted, wrap it up in plastic wrap and microwave in two minute increments until the water runs clear.
The "water" actually pools on the bottom. I'm not sure I got this cooked enough, as later the red kinda bled a little (stupid RED). Anyway, I let it cool while I did the skein. Now, I ran out of color on the skein and I never did get my light blue to look light enough so I went with some green too. I thought it looked pretty. It will probably pool like mad.
dyed skein
I had to really really work at getting the skein completely saturated, it was skeined up too thick I think. I flipped it and massaged it and poured dye into it. I still have some white spots. Anyway, I wrapped that up and cooked it too.

Then after everything was cool, I cut them open--because the plastic wrap gets a little um melted I guess. Then my instructions weren't clear as to whether I should rinse everything or not. So I did, because it still smelled vinegary. Will probably have to rinse again though. The red bled a little (ha a rhyme, not funny though) when I rinsed, so perhaps a bit more is in order, then I hung everything up to dry.

Several things worked well. I would not have done this inside. It was messy messy messy and the dye stuck really well to porous objects Although it washed out of cotton really well much to the dismay of my daughters who "tie dyed" some socks at the same time.
I got really bright colors--brighter than I remembered getting in the class--although I got a better red there! I'm STILL mad about the red! And I am really looking forward to knitting on these.

The next time I do this (and yes there will be a next time) I will:

* try to arrange for the kids to be gone. Because they wanted to help. I do think I might buy them each a skein and let them go to town, then make socks from the results for them. Perhaps as a back to school project--the knit picks skeins aren't too expensive, cheaper anyway than most store bought sock yarns (and my daughters love the hand paints, so you know I'll be actually saving money even if I have to buy 12 more colors of dye).
*I will not buy any paste color--just gel. I will probably test on some old socks how the colors are going together.
*I would probably Flip a sock blank over, just to be sure it was saturated, and I think I might spread the skein out more. Also--I'll be more careful with the colors if that is an important design element.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Usually when I've been not writing I can't think of what I must have been up to because I don't have a lot to show for it. This time, I have so much I'm saving some for the next entry.

First of all, I've been doing a little sewing, as my cousin's baby is due any time.

I've been struggling with getting the triangles to make nice hexagons, so my Mother in law has been doing that part. Makes me feel like I won't be able to claim this quilt as my own work, but she's making it look so much better than my attempts. My attempts are all bunchy in the center and don't lay flat. I have three more hexagons to do, and I'm going to lighten up on the yellow a bit I think. I love how it is turning out though. And it will end up being about 90% stash fabrics too. I need to buy some yellow for the corners (I have some dark blue also for the corners) and some border fabric. I need to go through my stash and see if I have anything appropriate for backing.

After all the fussing I did on the swallowtail shawl. Even going so far as breaking up with it. I picked it up again after finishing the hey teach and amazingly enough worked through the issue I was having. And suddenly I started liking it again. And it was a little easier. Then one night I realized I was really close to finishing, and equally close to running out of yarn. I did what any of us would do: I knit faster as it has been proven that if you knit fast enough you'll beat the end of the yarn. Of course this doesn't really work. Fortunately for me, I had used this yarn to start another lace project that hadn't worked out and I had clipped off 10 yards or so and set them aside--so a little russian join and I had a safety net. good thing too--because I hit that join in the bind off row.
Yep bind off row!

Whew, because this yarn is truly one of a kind. It is Knit picks bare, which I hand dyed oh maybe 18 months ago. In a class--so I could never recreate it. It looks even better blocking
Seriously, I love it. It should be dry soon.
Towards the end, I was so in love with this project that I knew I needed to get busy dyeing the other yarn I had. I also knew I had another lace project I wanted to cast on for.
So, Friday I finally took the plunge and dyed my knit picks sock blank and a skein of sock yarn. Details later (sneak peeks at flickr).

Monday, June 01, 2009

funny thing happened this weekend

Over the weekend I finished my version of Hey teach!, which I called on Ravelry--Hey librarian. After all my futzing with the sleeves, I did get it to actually go on my arms, but maybe in reality land (you know the one everyone actually sees) I should have made the next larger size. It buttons, but looks um, not that greta buttoned. It does look cute and hip, mostly unbuttoned though.

hey librarian

I like it, but I think I'm having a little hard time with it because I need a tighter t-shirt under it than I usually wear, but I understand that's all the fashion. Plus it must look cute--I've been asked to join some group with the picture (despite the fact that my husband won't stand up when he takes pictures of me).

Probably the most unexpected on the results of finishing this sweater was that I picked up my lace shawl again. Yes, I was two stitches off, but I added those stitches and did something on the order of 8 rows (and when each row is over 200 stitches that's saying something). All the rows (with the exception of the one I did this morning were all exactly right. I'm debating unknitting the current row and figuring out what I did wrong. The pros are that it would be right and wouldn't take too long, the big con is that every time I have unknit a row, I've managed to botch it up worse than the mistake I started with. I was only one stitch off which effectively means my nupps (man that word sounds dirty) are a little off on one side. We'll see how I'm feeling the next chance I have to work on it. I need to get it finished though so I can use those needles again to start the next project. They are my denise set, so I can take the points off which will come in handy for the swatch.
I think best part, is how I am actually excited about the lace again. And working with it is making me get excited for the big dye project.