Friday, March 30, 2007

Ballet T-Shirt

So I bought Loop-de-Loop by Teva Durham. I was downright fearful after viewing the modeled garments on her website. I had never seen the actual book before so I was afraid that these were the actual pictures from the book, but I was intrigued enough to buy it from the Amazon Marketplace. Ooooh, do I like it! The photos are beautiful and the patterns are great! The main reason I bought the book, the Ballet T-Shirt, was screaming to be made. This is really more of a test garment - it's done in Caron Simply Soft in Chocolate (not my favorite) - but it's what I had and I had to have the shirt.

No wisecracks about the bra, okay? I'm only trying it on, remember! It is cute, and it fits! I made the larger size (I'm a 36" bust) and the only thing I might to different next time is do a few more rounds of straight knitting before the bust decrease and again before the waist increases.

I should've timed this one. I started it Monday evening, then finished it Tuesday afternoon. I even worked that day for a few hours.

Must make more!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kool-Aid Dyeing...Ohhhhh Yeeeaaahhh!

I learned a new trick over spring break!!! My daughter and I (well, mostly me) Kool Aid dyed some Lion Wool! I was inspired by The Dye Pot and the instructions for crock pot dyeing at The Yarn Path. It was soooo slick! Oh, and when I went to Walmart for some white wool (it's the closest thing to a yarn store near me), they had all the Lion Wool on clearance for $3.50! Might not be the best wool ever, but it's going to be great to play with. I bought 6 balls.

I won't go into the specifics of what I did because a) it would take too long and b) just go the The Dye Pot and look through the yarns on the front page. Those are the basic instructions I followed. You need 1 packet of regular Kool Aid per ounce of yarn. A ball of Lion Wool is 3 oz. and for this one, I used two packages of grape and one of black cherry. These pictures are a pretty good representation of the color. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting but I absolutely love it! I've been coveting the semi-solid quality of hand-dyed yarns and this gave me exactly what I was looking for! As soon as it was dry, I knit it up into the Dashing fingerless mitts from the Spring Knitty. I made the swatch out of the leftovers. I love these mitts! They fit great and they really show off the hand-dyed yarn.

But wait, there's more!

As I read about Kool Aid dyeing, I ran across a tutorial on dyeing with Wilton Icing Dyes. Well, I have a 12 pack of Wilton dyes in the cupboard and thought I might as well give it a try. I followed the same general directions to use the crock pot, but you have to dissolve your Wilton dye in boiling water - or it just won't dissolve. I was going for a turquoise and tried 1/2 tsp. leaf green and 1/4 tsp. royal blue. The color is kelly green with a fleck of purple here and there because the dye must not have completely dissolved. I like it a lot, but have no clue what I'll make with it. Time will tell.

My most recent try at dyeing was an experiment with some Wool-Ease. I had two partial skeins in Fisherman and just knew that I'd never use them as is. I decided to use icing dyes and see if I couldn't color up the wool portion of the fiber. I used 1/2 tsp. Wilton Copper and 1/4 tsp. pink for 5 oz. of yarn. The water never fully became clear, but I expected it because the acrylic part wasn't going to pick up color. It turned out a nice heathered peach color. I'll have to make this up into some kind of spring accessory. I'd like to be more creative than fingerless mitts (I do soooo love those!), but that's all that's jumping out at me right now. Maybe a cowl or a short scarf?
I've got a cupboard full of Kool-Aid, 4 more balls of Lion Wool, and a rainy dreary day....might just have to do some more dyeing!

Monday, March 26, 2007

I almost forgot!

My second-newest pair of fingerless mitts! These are the Irish Hiking Wristwarmers. The pattern is ridiculously easy to follow and they are so cute! This was the first time I'd made wristwarmers flat and seamed them after, and I was surprised that the seam was not bulky inside. I used Lion Wool in red (it was on clearance at Walmart for $3.50!). I made them last Thursday and tried to get them done in time to wear to the MN Wild hockey game that night, but things didn't work out. They were fast though - only took about 4 hours to complete the pair - actually might have been less.

I must confess...

...I have an fingerless mitts! It all started last summer....

It was the summer edition of Knitty and I fell in love with Fetching - how could you not? I had to have them. My first attempt was lackluster (note the curling bind off edge on the green pair). That was Ella Rae 100% wool worsted (very nice, BTW). There was another green pair that crashed and burned and are now in the wool scrap pile.

The next attempt was with leftover red Wool-Ease. I did a garter border at the top to keep them from curling. Not the most attractive finish, but it did work and they have served me well. The top pair is Cabled Fingerless. The pattern is darling and the thumb is really easy. I love these and want to make another pair in something other than yellow Wool-Ease. Can you tell I was trying to reduce my stash? Next time I may decrease a bit in the stockinette part of the hand because that was a little looser than I might really like.
Another wonderful pair, though a little long on the fingers, is Vino Arm Warmers. I made mine with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Kiwi (I think?). I'm kinda into green. I really love me the Lamb's Pride...I got a thing for single ply yarn.

Oh, and I guess I can't forget these.
These are the Earthtone Wristwarmers from Orange Fish Knits. I give the pattern an A++++ for ease, coolness, and funtionality. However, my yarn choice is ghastly - Lion Wool in Autumn Sunset. It looked pretty in the ball, but knitted in this pattern, it's horrible and does nothing for the cables. I'll probably do these again in Patons SWS or a semi-solid hand-dye wool. I knit these in the round not realizing that the pattern was written for them to be made flat, then seamed. After the bind off row for the thumb, I cast on one additional stitch and knit 2 together to make the rejoin extra secure. I didn't modify the stitch count at all. I really like the way these fit and want more, but in a better color!

Now on to my absolute favorite yet...Dashing! For these I used 1 ball of Lion Wool that I hand-dyed with Kool-Aid (more about that tomorrow). I'm wearing these as I type and I adore them! Here's me with the swatch I made out of the last little bit of yarn. I followed the instructions for size "smaller", but it was still too long or me, so I ripped and modified. I did only 18 rounds of rib following the last cable round, before the thumb placement round. After thumb placement, I did only 10 rounds. Lastly, for the thumb, I did 6 rounds and it was just right.
Thus, my addiction to wrist warmers, fingerless gloves, whatever you want to call them. Can't beat 'em for working at a cold desk!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Meditations on Lion Suede

I work out of my home office, but I take a break to watch Knitty Gritty. It's on at 1 p.m. where I live so it's the perfect little lunch break. I also have 2 skeins each of 2 different colors (Orchard and Vineyard) of Lion Suede. I've had them for about 1 1/2 years leftover from the Scarf Binge of Xmas 2005 (which was accompanied by the Knifty Knitter Hat Gorge as well - 15 scarves and 11 hats (plus 6 reject scarves that ended up in the donate bin...I may have been a little crazy!).

So last week, I'm watching Knitty Gritty and lo and behold they're making a Lace Sampler Shrug out of 2 skeins of Lion Suede!!!!!

Yippee! I gotta get myself on that show somehow. Did I tell you that Vickie and I could be the exact same age, down to the day? But I digress.... Here's the shrug after one day of knitting while my computer network was having PMS:

As Myra said on the show, the edges are a little wonky, but they'll all even out with single crochet. Aren't the YO's awesome? The pattern is fun and speedy. It moves so quickly from one pattern to the next, that I have't once gotten bored. I have a slight problem with getting bored. So I have a lot of yarn. And a lot of projects. I may just finish this one!

Now if the Scarf Binge of '05 taught me anything, it was that while Lion Suede is beautiful (LOVE this "Orchard"), it is a little tricky to work with. I had just bought Scarf Style and was enamored with the cabled scarf shown in Touch Me. Not willing to spend the money on that, I decided Lion Suede would give me the desired result without the fuss. Can you tell I'd never used it before?

I also used plastic needles. And, I tend to knit tight. Kids, don't try this at home.

I wrestled with that scarf through completion - and made another in mistake stitch rib - but learned that Lion Suede is sticky. If you've ever wondered what that means, try knitting it with plastic needles and you'll find out! Plus, my when my mom washed it, suddenly there were little loops of yarn sticking out all over the place that she needed to tug on to get back into shape. After all the tugging, the scarf didn't lay as nice as it did in the beginning. Thus, the excitement over this lace shrug. With lace patterns, you can and should tug to get it just so and there's enough room to the pattern that it will still lay right.

This pattern really is a fun one to follow and it's moving along like Speed Racer. Apparently I didn't learn my lesson and started it on plastic circular needles, but quickly realized that this was the perfect project for my 14" Boye's. The yarn slides nicely but won't fall off, and the stitches stay the right size. I prefer working with circulars for everything, but with lace, my YO's get stuck when I'm trying to slide them into position.

So that's the project for today! If I'm lucky, I'll have an FO to post tomorrow!

Monday, March 12, 2007

I love accessories!!!

I really should finish Breezy Cables from Interweave Knits Spring 2006, but it's starting to get warmer and I want to knit fast and furious! Ok, warm is a relative term - we've actually only broken freezing, but I have spring fever. Plus, am I really going to need a cardigan in May in Orlando? Yeah, baby, that's right...vacation!

I'm into accessories now! My favorite new books are Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and One Skein by Leigh Radford. These books have wonderfully quick projects that would make superb gifts for someone you love or yourself! Plus, who doesn't have a stash to use up? Picture the Tomie de Paola book Strega Nona and you might get an idea of what my stash is doing to my house!

Last summer I knit Aiblhinn (Knitty Winter 2004) with S.R. Kertzer Marble in Patagonia. It's a DK weight 100% acrylic yarn that is soft and self-striping.

The pattern is adorable, but I realized halfway through my third skein that I would need another to make Aiblhinn the full length. Try as I might, I could not find the Patagonia colorway anywhere. So, I shortened the piece to about 17" and it really is perfect. It's a little floppy as a cowl, but one day I pulled the edges down over my shoulders and realized it makes the perfect little capelet! I can pull it down completely so it's off the shoulders or it can be pulled just slightly over the shoulders, keeping a cowl neck. Even though it's not as long as the original pattern, I still have enough length to pull it over my head while keeping my neck covered. I love wearing fitted tees and this is the perfect accessory when I'm a little cold working at my desk. The spiral rib is fun to work, pretty to look at, and it makes this piece so stretchy that it would fit many builds when worn in this manner. I have a 36" bust and I can stretch this piece several inches away from my body. It feels like a hug!
This pattern and wearing variation inspired me to make another one with Patons SWS in Natural Earth. It's such a beautiful yarn and I really love a single spun yarn like this one (you know, one without multiple plies). Because this yarn has more body and is the weight that was intended for pattern, I'm sure it will work better as a cowl and it will be a warmer capelet. The thought has occurred to me to turn it into a seamless sweater a la The Sweater Workshop, but that one needs a bit more research. Plus, with spring around the corner, I don't need a sweater. Stay tuned for that one in the fall!

I'll share more of my adventures in accessories as we near spring!