Friday, February 12, 2016

An Army of Kittehs!

In my journey to get rid of scrap/stash yarn, I was randomly searching ravelry one night and found the most adorable cat knitting pattern. When I say adorable, I mean so cute it hurts. Just look at them!





The two end kitties are from the pattern by Linda Dawkins (you can visit her etsy store here.) Clearly the middle kitty doesn't quite belong. I did a little impromptu crocheting after being inspired by the Beans the Cat knitting pattern.

What I truly love about these (besides the fact they're so freaking adorable) is they knit up super quick and they use all the random scrap yarn I have lying around. I'd say it takes me maybe 45 minutes from casting on to stuffing and sewing everything together to finish these. They're great for TV knitting.

Of course I couldn't just stop at three friends I had already created. More were begging to be made, so I decided to create more adorableness.....



All of these lovely, adorable babies were made as gifts and have found very good homes.

My original plan with the scrap yarn I have was to make a patchwork blanket. However I think that idea is going out the window and I will create myself an army of knited kittehs! They will attack everyone with their cute adorableness.

I purposefully leave the eyes off to give them a unique look. The original pattern didn't have whiskers on the kitty. Funny thing is I could have sworn it did which is why I added them. Funny what our brains autofill what we think should be there.


I like the idea of making these and just having them around to randomly give out as gifts. I can guarantee that most people will think they are adorable even if they're not cat people.

Until next time.....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lucid dream

Continuing from last post, I finished the Violet Waffles hat!  It is now washed, blocked, dried, and ready to wear. :)

Behold the loveliness
My favorite parts of this hat are the swirl pattern at the top, how the color flows like a sideways chevron, and that it appears to be self-striping yarn.  I did not intend for any of these things to happen....they just did.

Comparing the work up of Prism vs Hidden Rainbow two very different effects happened. The Hidden Rainbow colors were more sporadic than the Prism. See for yourself:

Both sets of gloves are beautiful in their own right, but I'm more in favor of the Prism.

I've used several different colorways in the Lucid Dream sock yarn from Julianna's Fibre  for different projects: Hidden Rainbow, Prism, Dask, and Midnight Radio. (link to her etsy page is here)  Each project that was knit with this yarn was gorgeous. This yarn always works up nicely, is extremely soft, and very durable. I look forward to see what new color ways this dyer comes up with in the future.

Pictured below on the top from left to right are
Hidden Rainbow/Prism, Prism, Dask

Bottom is Midnight Radio made in the Zilver shawl (found on ravelry.)


Friday, January 29, 2016

It's so pretty.........

As I've been working through project stash buster, I've realized that there isn't a huge variety in the "brand" of yarn I purchase. In some podcasts I listen to I always hear about Cascade, Madelinetosh, Malabrigo, etc. I've used different varieties of Cascade and absolutely love Madelinetosh, but I usually lean towards yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts or Julianna's Fibre.

I ran across Julianna's Fibre while perusing etsy one day. I saw this goregous skein called "Hidden Rainbow." 3/4 of the yarn was this stormy grey color and the other 1/4 was a solid strip of the rainbow. Around the time I saw this yarn I had already instated the cannot buy any more yarn rule. I was so intrigued by this yarn that I had to buy a skein so I could see how it looked worked up. So I bent the rules just a smidge (it was right around my birthday after all) and I bought a skein with some birthday money.

When it comes to buying yarn, I don't mind spending a little extra on one skein. I can justify the higher price if it's only one skein. If it's two skeins forget it, somehow the logic for spending the extra on one skein does not apply to two. I also like to think I'm cheating the system a bit by buying only 1 skein of fingering weight yarn which gives me roughly 420 yards. It's just enough to make a nice shawl, scarf, or matching set of hat and fingerless gloves.

With all of that said, I wanted to make the most out of my lovely skein so I made a hat and gloves. I titled them my Ray of Hope hat and mits.




I was elated with how they turned out. Pops of color everywhere! I found both the Straighforward mits pattern by Mone Drager and the Swirl Hat pattern by Mandie Harrington on ravlery.com.  Both are free patterns and knit up quickly.

I absolutely loved everything about these gloves: the fit, the color, the warmth. The office I work in gets cold so fingerless gloves are the best way to keep my hands warm while being able to type. I wore these all the time until one day at lunch I lent them to my mom. Yes I am privileged enough to work at the same establishment as my mother. It's nice being able to have lunch with her everyday.

On this particular day was the first cold hit of winter we had experienced this season. My mom was extra cold and I had brought my gloves with me to lunch. I let her borrow them because I had a couple other pairs in my desk (I love fingerless gloves).  Days and weeks went by and my gloves never made it back home to my desk.

It was at this point that I figured I would never have these gloves in my possession again. They had gone to a good home so I wasn't heartbroken over it. Besides I made the in the first place, so why not buy another skein of the yarn and make myself another set? I did precisely that and I'm currently in the middle of that project. I decided to do another glove and hat set because that is how I intended the first set to be so of course I had to pass along the hat to my mother.

I went back to the juliannasfibre etsy page and didn't find the "Hidden Rainbow" colorway, but I found one better. It's called "Prism." A beautiful mixing of black yarn and neon rainbow
 
Behold the beauty......




I'm loving how the gloves and hat are turning out. This go around I kept the same pattern for the gloves but choose the Violet Waffles hat by Halldora J. which I also found on ravlery. 99% of the pattern I use are from ravlery.com

It's funny to me how two yarns of similar design can work up so differently. The color of the "Hidden Rainbow" skein was more random than the "Prism" skein. The colors for "Prism" are more color blocked. I'm sure this phenomenon might be related to my gauge and also the dying technique used. I can't remember if the rainbow section lengths were the same for each skein or if one was slightly larger.

I should be able to finish and block the hat tonight. I'll post pictures of the finished products. Until then, ta ta.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Project Stash Buster

Towards the middle of last year I realized my yarn stash was growing faster than it was dwindling. My plan had always been to have little or no stash. The idea of beautiful, unused yarn just waiting to be picked for the perfect project always bothered me. My stash grew to cover my living room.


As I purchased each new skein of yarn, I always had a project in mind. I at least wanted to have some direction even if I didn't get to the project right away. My problem was....and still is that I love yarn. I love the colors, the weights, the fibers, and everything that yarn can become. I eventually had to put restrictions on myself when buying new yarn. The restriction was to not buy any new yarn with the exception of purchasing an extra skein of the same color I already owned in order to finish a project.

Once I made this rule, I also decided I needed to work through what I had. This spawned the idea of Project Stash Buster. I can't say how many yards I've busted through, but I've gone through 12 1/2 skeins. :) I'm pretty proud of myself. Here's just a few of the projects I've completed in the last 6 months.


Feeling accomplished with busting through so much yarn, I have to admit I bent the rules just a tiny bit......or a lot. I've added 12 more skeins to my collection so all the hard work of stash busting was for naught. I like to think of it as what I already worked through made room for the the new skeins I bought.

Here's why I couldn't resist........a couple of my favorite independent dyers (Juliannasfibre on etsy and Tanis from www.tansifiberarts.com) and knitpicks.com either had yarn sales or specialty yarn that only comes around once or twice a year. I couldn't resist the call of the oh so lovely skeins, so I caved and added to the stash.

I know I'll eventually get to all the projects I have planned, but it most certainly will not be a linear path.



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Partially successful

I dyed my second skein of yarn last week and I must say it turned out better than the first. This go around I decided to hand-paint the yarn rather than kettle dye. I had to pick up some additional materials to do this otherwise it would have been a huge disaster.

One of the materials I needed were bottles that had a tip so I could control how much dye solution was coming out. The bottles look like mini versions of old ketchup and mustard bottles diners use to have.

I was surprised at how hard it was to find these. I looked everywhere and couldn't find them. I thought surely there would be some in the kids craft section of most stores......big NO there. I finally asked an employee of one store to help me out.  I was taken to the cake decorating section and viola! there they were. They were bigger than I anticipated but they'd do the trick.

I prepped all my materials as needed: the yarn soaked in a vinegar water bath for a good 3 hours to make sure all the fibers were soaked, I mixed my dyes and wrote down how much of each dye I used to get the color, and I laid down cling wrap on the counter to protect my surface.

As I started dyeing I realized that I had forgotten one very important material......rubber gloves! I wasn't going to let this stop me from dyeing. I attempted to do a makeshift glove from my roll of cling wrap.  It sorta worked but it didn't stop my hands from being covered in dye. Good news is the dye washed off fairly quickly. By mid-week I only had remnants around my nail beds


Once the skein was dyed to my liking, I used the microwave method for heat to set the color. I gleaned this method from a youtube video. I've watched so many I don't quite remember which one it was to give them any credit.

My vision for this yarn as to have 3 blocks of color and leave the other part the natural color of the yarn. I had this picture of how cool the color would look after the yarn was hanked. The results weren't exactly what I had pictured, but it was still pretty cool looking.  I originally had wanted to see more of the bare color and less of the dye. I'll know next time to make my color sections a bit smaller.


I can't wait to see how this looks once it's worked up. I'm not sure what I'll make yet but I'm sure it'll be fabulous when I do.

Monday, January 4, 2016

I did it!

New Year's Eve this year was a day I hope we never have to repeat. Main reason being the area where I live was massively flooded. Worst I have ever seen. Two of our major interstates were closed and needless to say if I had any plans or wanted to head somewhere it was next to impossible to do so.

So what did I do with my New Year's Eve? I dyed yarn. I was itching to try out the dye kit I got for Christmas. I had prepped myself by watching several youtube videos and  looking at some of my Pinterest Boards to get an idea of how things should be done.

I chose to kettle dye the yarn first go around. I thought this would be a fun way to create a lovely tonal yarn. I wanted to choose colors that would blend well together so I went with blue, red, and purple. Depending on where I dropped the colors there would be a nice shift from the red to the blue to the purple.

I gathered all my materials, prepped the yarn, and mixed my dyes. Mixing the dyes proved interesting because there really weren't concrete instructions of what ratios to mix. I started with an 1/8 of teaspoon of dye and 1 oz of water. I didn't want to waste the dye so I thought I'd start off with a small amount.

Everything was moving along beautifully, until I dropped the color into the pot with the yarn.  I hadn't accounted for the fact that a liquid will always run down the side of the vessel it's poured out of when it is poured slowly. I was using small Anchor brand glass bowls. Great for holding things, not so great for precisely dropping color in a kettle.

After I dropped the first color, the idea I had pictured of this cleanly, beautifully dyed skein of yarn was shattered. I dropped the rest of the colors and made the best of it. I used my spatula to stir the bath ever so gently to get the colors to mix and distribute. I also made a mental note to get decent bottles with tips or some type of syringe for next time.

Time elapses, yarn cools, I wash the yarn, and then commences the dying process.  It took a day or two for the yarn to fully dry. I put it outside but it was in the 30's so quick drying wasn't an option.

Overall I wasn't too fond of the skein at first. The colors were a bit too muddied for me and well since it didn't turn out like the picture in my head I was convinced it was a failure.

Now that it's been almost 5 days since everything was said and done, I can say the skein is growning on me and I'm excited to see how it looks like knitted up.  The picture below is the skein both with and without the flash. The flash makes the colors pop more, but the non-flash photo is a more accurate representation of the color.










Sunday, January 3, 2016

Lets try this again.....

I've been meaning to get on here and post regularly, but something always prevents me. Some excuse of self-doubt that my writing skills won't be up to par or that my work isn't good enough or very plainly that I will have nothing to say. I'm trying this again......we'll see if it sticks this time.

Last year I meant to blog about the different yarns I was receiving with my YarnBox subscription. (www.yarnbox.com for those interested. I highly recommend it). Clearly by the lack of posts on this blog I never did get around to it.

I had that subscription for 6 months and it was extremely fun each month to get my new box and see what surprise was waiting for me. There were all sorts of color ranges and fiber types. I still have yet to find a project for all the skeins I received. The subscription did come with patters designed specifically for the yarn in a specific box, and they were all very wonderful; I just like to see what else is out there to my liking.

For Christmas this year, I received my first yarn dying kit. As my knowledge of knitting grows deeper it amazes me all the different avenues that sprout off from knitting. The possibilities seem endless. I became interested in yarn dyeing because I usually purchase hand dyed yarn because of the depth of color and range of fibers that are available. Don't get me wrong I like the acrylic store bought yarn as much as anyone else, but once I touched the world of fiber it's been hard to go back.

The kit is the Greener Shades acid dye kit and there are 3 skeins of the bare Precosia yarn (100% Merino Wool and purchased separately from the kit).  All the materials were ordered from knitpicks.com. Knitpicks is a favorite haunt of mine for yarn, needles, and now dye.

From everything I've been watching on youtube it's easy enough to use kool-aid to dye yarn and some people like it better because whatever pots you use to dye the yarn can be used again for cooking.  With the dyes pictured above, I had to source out a dutch oven like pot and measuering tools that I would never use again for cooking.  Thankfully I got a ton of measuring cups when I got married so I had some to spare.

So far I've dyed two skeins of yarn two different ways. I've kettle dyed a skein and I've handpainted a skein. The handpainted skein is currently drying in the bathroom. I'll post pictures of that one once it's dried and hanked.

Overall the dying process isn't very glamorous and to those who aren't as in love with the craft as I am might find it a bit dull.  I however find it fascinating. It must be tapping into my inner artist.

I'll post pictures of the two skeins I dyed in future posts. Hopefully the promise of that will keep me committed and dedicated to sticking with this for 2016.