Monday, August 30, 2010

Tutorial: Make and Dye a Yarn Blank

I bought a great big skein of Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool in natural cream and decided to play around with dyeing on Saturday. I used Paas Easter egg dye tablets that I bought on sale last April and a lot of vinegar to dye a yarn blank that I handknit.



A blank like this could be used for a wide variety of projects, but I'm saving this one for a Fair Isle hat: all the color and half the work of a project that would normally call for six or seven colors.

Full tutorial can be found here, through Google Docs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quo Vadis

Me and mittens have not been the best of friends. I have cast on at least a dozen pairs over the years and maybe three pairs weren't frogged. I'm a sock knitting pro, so I'm a bit befuddled that mittens are my Achilles heel. After finishing the Quo Vadis mittens (Ravelry link) from SpillyJane, though, I just may be a convert.

Worsted weight is totally the way to go when trying to conquer mittens. Come to think of it, I started my successful sock knitting by beginning with a Christmas stocking pattern (read: bulky yarn and bigger needles), so maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Michigan Fiber Festival

The Michigan Fiber Festival, which is sort of in my neck of the woods, was up and running today with two barns full of vendors. I planned ahead and brought limited cash so I couldn't "overspend." I came home with this and could not be happier:

This is Foot Notes by Fiber Optic, and it's a 4-ply, 80% wool and 20% nylon, washable, delicious light blue-purple handful of wonderful.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aestlight Shawl

I followed this pattern to the letter, except for binding off the large garter stitch triangle instead of holding stitches until the end, and it really paid off.

Interesting construction, delicious yarn, utterly wearable shawl: it's going to be hard keep this for myself! The good news is that this pattern knit up really fast and the color changes prevented a beautiful piece from becoming a boring or tedious project.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Free Pattern: Luxurious Loops Washcloth

This loopy little cloth was designed a few months ago, but since the pattern just got a facelift (read: now available as PDF), I decided I ought to post it here, too.

I seem to recall this project used most of a 50-gram skein of sport weight organic cotton. There is a simple seed-stitch border, a loop to hang it that can be made with a crochet hook or double-pointed needles, and these fun little loops, which I explain how to make in detail. Available from Google Docs or Ravelry.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Free Pattern: Cabled Ice Cream Cozy

This little chill-chaser prevents frozen fingers while eating ice cream right out of the carton. Sadly, it does nothing for brain freeze.

Knit in the round on DPNs with three simple cables and a k2, p2 ribbing. The stockinette bottom is made with decreases on every other row. Pattern available here with Google Docs or on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aestlight Shawl: Block Party!

A beautiful Saturday in August: what a day for a block party! I wove in the ends on my Aestlight shawl this afternoon and blocked it right away.

I've been guilty of failure to block on previous projects, but when it comes to lace, or shawls, and in particular lace shawls, blocking is a must. It evens out those little stitches, allows the shawl to grow a little, and ensures nice, straight edges and perfect points.

My materials:

After weaving in the ends, I submerged my shawl in lukewarm water with about a teaspoon of baby shampoo. One could always use wool wash, like Eucalan or Soak, but when finances are tight and/or there's a little one in the house, why not use baby shampoo? It's mild, it's inexpensive, and if it can get dirt, spaghetti sauce, and goodness knows what else off of a toddler, then why shouldn't it do wonders for yarn?

After rinsing in another bath of lukewarm water, I put the shawl on a large bath towel, then folded the towel over my knitting and walked all over it. This removed a ton of water, and less water in the yarn means shorter drying time.

I would prefer not to block on my bed, (in fact, I usually block on top of my washing machine), but large projects need large spaces to block. The trash bag prevents my bed from getting damp, but I almost always use a trash bag wherever I'm blocking. Unlike towels, the trash bag won't absorb the water from my knitting, and the knitting tends to dry faster this way.

Finally, pins were placed at all points on the border and I used a yardstick to make sure I had a straight edge across the top. I turned the ceiling fan on high, and three hours later I had a dry, blocked shawl.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Honey Cowl

I just wove in the ends on this yummy cowl from madelinetosh. This was the larger pattern option, which can be worn doubled around the neck. I used about three and a half skeins of Knit Picks Merino Style, a DK merino wool, that were left over from my Fairy Tale Cardigan. It was a very fast knit, thanks to slipped stitches on every other row, and was knit in the round, so all in all a pattern built for speed. I used a bind off of *k2tog through the back loop, place st back on LH needle, and repeat from *. It proved to be a good choice: more forgiving and stretchy than the classic bind off but not too loose either.

Worn long:

And worn doubled: