Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do Pre-Mixed Tulip Tie Dye Kit Dyes last months?

The Tulip Tie Dye Kit recommends that you use the dye 45 min after mixing, but I had some pre-mixed dyes sitting in my kitchen for over 6 months.  When I didn't use up the dyes during my first yarn tie dyeing excursion, I couldn't bring myself to dispose of the extra dyes.   I kept meaning to use them, but time was just slipping away.  I finally realized that this would give me an opportunity to test out the manufacturer instructions that the dyes should be used within 45 min of mixing.  Do you think that they would still work to dye a vibrant yarn?


I have many other dyeing experiments in my queue, but do you have anything you would like to see me try?  I love suggestions!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Santiago Yarn Shops

I spent New Years in Santiago visiting some friends (some of the biggest ChemKnits supporters!)  We spent a lot of time exploring Santiago and some nearby beach twos, but we also took some time to explore the street of yarn shops in Downtown Santiago.  

The only thing I knew about the yarn district was from a blog post: "A WHOLE street ... yarn shops (Rosas)."  I assumed that this meant the street was called Rosas, but I wasn't entirely sure.  This is why I've included the picture of the map we used of the city with where I found the shops AND a Google Map so you can get directions for your own shopping purposes. 


Each shop has an impressive window display outside with the prices of the yarn listed.  This is the best place to actually look at the selection because you can see more of the labels up close.  Inside the store, all of the yarn is located behind the counter.  You have to ask to touch and the shop attendants select any balls you want to purchase.  Describing different colors in Spanish was pretty hard, especially when there were multiple shades of each color!  I am thankful that my girlfriends were there to help me with the Spanish and with my color selections.

After you make your selections, the attendant creates a receipt with the total cost.  You bring this receipt to the cashier to pay, and then you get another receipt which you use to pick up a bag with your yarn.  In total, I spent around $13500 Pesos (~$28.50 USD) in three different shops for 7 balls of yarn including some 100% alpaca.  I did not select the cheapest yarns that were available (the stores contain a LOT of acrylic) but I got some stunning thick and thin wools (made in Chile), some hand dyed cotton (Dyed in Chile), 100% alpaca (Peruvian) and a novelty ribbon yarn.  If I could have touched the yarns, or at least inspect them closer, I may have come away with more.  

Another concept that was difficult to communicate was the concept of yardage.  Many of the yarns do not indicate how many yards there are in a ball which makes it very difficult to estimate how much you will need for a project.  I had to just guess and hope for the best when making my selections.  

I did find a little yarn at some of the markets, but some of the skeins were way to big to be practical for me to bring home.  There was even (expensive) hand dyed cotton yarn in a shop at the airport!  The markets mostly sold finished crafts, there were a lot of (tempting) woven goods and even more knit hats and scarves.

I was trying to be really efficient with my shopping, but in the whole process I forgot to take more pictures of the street and the shops themselves!   A blog post in Portuguese (shared with me after I returned) has some amazing pictures of Chilean yarn shops and the hand knit items found in many of the markets.

The entire trip was so amazing.   It took some time for me to feel confident in my Spanish, but by the cab ride home I was happily chatting along.  What made the trip amazing was not just the location (or the yarn!) but the fact that I got to travel with 5 of my best friends in the entire world.  I feel so lucky and this was an amazing way to start the New Year!  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spinning Broken Purple

If you follow me on Facebook or Ravelry, you would know that I was given a spinning wheel for Christmas. This wheel happened to arrive on my birthday, which resulted in a lot of excitement and screaming.  As soon as the wheel showed up on my doorstep, I knew that I needed to have some special fiber to dye for my first project on the wheel.  (I did run to my local yarn store to get some roving to test the wheel, but I needed a proper first project.

The following video, Breaking Wilton's Violet Food Coloring on Handpainted Roving, is a little more giddy and unplanned than most of my video tutorials.  I hope it will give you a sense of the excitement and process that I go through when I do not have much planned for my dyeing.  (Normally I would have edited a lot of the footage out, but I wanted to preserve the feeling I had on my birthday!)

The Kromski Fantasia spinning wheel comes with an attached Lazy Kate, so I knew I could try something I'd never attempted before: Plying yarn.  I had no idea how to best do this, so I split the fiber (down the whole length of the roving) into two 48 g parts.  (I did not get this on my first try, there was an extra section that I needed to pull out to even things out.)

After spinning my first few yards of this.. I have to say WOW.  There is a such a difference between this WOTA fiber that I dyed myself and the random roving I got at the store.  Maybe I learned something in my test run (making me glad I got fiber I didn't care about to start out with...) or maybe there is just a big difference in the quality of the fiber.   Either way, this is now going smoothly and I am loving every minute of it.

Looks like I am spinning near lace weight singles!!!!!  These look incredible, as good as anything I've spun on my drop spindle.  (Not PERFECT, but really smooth.) I was starting to feel regrets about my decision to ply this yarn, but then I realized something.  This yarn was really easy to dye, the colorway is not very complicated.  I can replicate (not exactly, but closely) this colorway and make it as a single ply yarn later.  What better project to try to ply than my first?  Plying won't "ruin" it... it will give it more character and I may love it even more.  (Or, I will discover that I hate plying and that I never want to try it ever again.)

Clockwise clockwise clockwise.  It is much easier to remember to spin a wheel clockwise than it was to remember to spin the spindle that direction.  Now as I've finished spinning 100g of singles (which I didn't finish the day I set up the wheel, but I could have if we hadn't gone out to dinner!), it is time to start plying  Counterclockwise counterclockwise counterclockwise.

I made sure to put both spindles on the wheel with the big side down (the same side that was towards the back of the wheel.)  I figured it was important to be consistent.  With the leader, I checked there was still uptake if I threaded the orface the same way I did for spinning but with the wheel going in the other direction (it worked!)

I'm not sure if this is how You're supposed to start, but I tied the two singles in a knot with the leader.

While plying (which is much easier than i thought  - i realized I wanted to know how big my singles really were, so I got out the WPI tool.  These singles are around 20+ dpi (the part I checked was some thicker portion.) so it is definitely fingering weight.  I do not know why the WPI tool has different definitions for WPI than Ravelry (which has fignering at 14 wpi...)

I am glad that I am spinning fine yarn, but am also that I did not quite achieve lace weight at my first try with the slowest whorl.  I want there to be something to aim towards!

My ply isn't the most even, but that is also because my singles aren't the most even.  I will learn!  It still looks like great handmade yarn.

As I neared the end of my plying, I started to be concerned that there would be a lot more yards on one spindle than the other.  I ended up with extra on one, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I feared. (I will weigh this later.)  I put a knot at the end because I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to end it.

What do spinners do with their extra of a single ply?  I'm thinking I'll use it for a hexipuff!  The plying only took a few hours to finish.  Wahoo!

THIS IS SO MUCH FASTER THAN A DROP SPINDLE!  At some points, I felt that I could be going faster (Especially with the plying),  I love the lazy kate that comes with the wheel.  This is so much easier to wind on to a niddy noddy.  I am ecstatic that there were no breaks in the yarn during plying, which means that there are no knots!

90 g skein.  18 WPI.   120 wraps * 4 ft/wrap = 480 ft = 160 yards.  I am not sure what to make with the yarn.  I love it and it looks stunning in a skein, but there isn't quite enough for it to show it off as a cowl.  I'm thinking about making a few small projects with it to commemorate my first ever plyed yarn.

Remaining single ply - 17 wraps --> 22 yards extra.  This is enough for a hexipuff.

Finished 12/16/2012

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Now, the Chunkeanie hat is supposed to be a chunky beanie, but I've got non-chunky yarn.  I'm going to increase the number of stitches (and then the corresponding decreases) to fit the gauge that I can expect.  (I'm being bad and not actually checking my gauge... but I've made enough men's hats that I know around 100 sts in worsted weight yarn on size 6 needles will fit well.)  

I used 59 g (130 yards) of KnitPicks Full Circle Yarn (ponderosa) that was left over from Keith's sweater.  I knit the hat on size 6 knitting needles.

My Modifications & Notes from Construction:
  • Cast on 96 sts (*I would do 100, but the pattern calls for mulitiple of 8 stitches in each of the different sizes.)  
  • 3" Brim - 21 Rows of 1x1 ribbing.  
  • Reverse Stockinette before decreases - 28 rows (nice to see that my gauge is consistent!)  
  • Additional decreases:
    • Decrease Round 0.1: *ssk, p20, K2tog* around. (88 sts)
    • Decrease Round 0.2: *K1, P20, K1* across
    • Decrease Round 0.3: *ssk, p18, K2tog* across (80 sts)
    • Decrease Round 0.4: *K1, P18, K1* across
    • Continue decreasing as written for large hat.  

I love the final product.  This hat looks great whether you want to fold the brim or leave it with some volume.  I know that this is a pattern I will come back to in the future.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Spinning Wheel!

If you follow me on Facebook, you may be aware of the amazing early Christmas present that arrived on my birthday in December... a Kromski Fantasia Spinning Wheel! 

It took a lot of self control to not open her immediately, but I wasn't sure how long the assembly would take so Keith and I decided to wait until the weekend to set her up.  I was determined to do most of the assembly myself in case I ever needed to do maintenance on her.   Besides, I really should have an understanding on how the spinning wheel works, right?  

Unwrapping each piece is like opening a new present.  Some of the assembly instructions were a little hard to follow (according to this perfectionist), but there are handy videos to help you see how things should fit together.  The instructions did not come with the names of the parts.  Most I sort of knew, but many we just had to figure out (the videos helped).

Meet Sandry.  I named her after one of my favorite characters from the Tamora Pierce Circle Universe whose magic appears through spinning and weaving.  (Too bad she never knits!)

When the wheel showed up, I realized that I didn't have anything to test spin on it.  I ran (well, speed walked/danced) to my LYS to get some roving.  They do not have a great selection, but I knew from a past visit that they had some little balls that would be perfect for testing out the wheel.  I didn't want to start spinning some lovely hand dyed roving until I got a feel for how the wheel worked.  When I got home, I immediately dyed some roving myself to be my first full project on the wheel.  (Stay tuned for a future post.)

Before I knew it I was spinning!  The brake band was the hardest thing to manage.  I'm sure it will take me a while to get the feel for what this tension should be.  I am really glad I had some "waste" roving to practice with.

The wheel is FAST.  I knew that it would be faster than the drop spindle, but I still did not appreciate how fast it would really be.  I had a bit too much spin on this first yarn, and I'm on the smallest whorl ratio! Maybe I don't need the additional 14:1/20:1 whorl...  In no time I had gone though this little bit of roving and was ready to wind it onto my niddy noddy. 

The best difference of having a spinning wheel over a drop spindle (after the speed and ease, of course) is the built in lazy kate.  Winding yarn off of the drop spindle was always one of the biggest pains, and now it is such a pleasure!   In this first spinning session, I spun about 80 ft (20 wraps *4 ft) of yarn. I am not sure what I will use it for because it isn't the softest yarn ever, but I am happy to have had something to practice with.  The roving that I handpainted was dry by the afternoon, and I was ready to start spinning it. 

Yarn Spun 12/15/2012 - I will have notes on when I finished spinning the yarn on all of these posts to help me keep track of the important information of the yarn for when I enter it in the Ravelry stash.  As of this moment, there are a bunch of new hand spun yarns that I need to enter but have not gotten around to yet.  Thank goodness I keep notes in Blogger! 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Men's Knits: 20 New Classics

Men's Knits: 20 New Classics by Erika Knight

As a woman, I find it much easier to knit for other women than it is to knit for men. This issue isn't just about me being female, I have met male knitters who struggle to find good, modern knitting patterns for men. I recently checked out a bunch of men's knitting books I had never seen before from my local library. (Thank you Evanston Public Library for being the source of so much content for my blog!)

I love it when I open a knitting book and there are thumbnails of all of the designs in the contents. Right away I have an amazing summary of what the book is about.

The patterns include:
  • Pullovers - 11
  • Vests - 2 (but there are at least 4 different vests you can make from these two patterns)
  • Cardigans - 5
  • Scarves - 2
  • Hats - 2
I like that the book is focused mostly on sweaters. These designs are very classic, and you should be able to find one that will suit your men's taste. I love that these designs are so simple that they are basically a blank slate to add your own colorwork.

I have been looking a lot at sweater vest patterns recently. My SIL wants us to have an ugly Christmas sweater tradition (Her sweater dress with reindeer isn't ugly at all, but I know what she is going for.) I cannot see myself making Keith a whole sweater that he may only wear once a year, but I would love to design a vest for him. Sorry for the digression from the review, but the Plain, Argyll and Check Vests is the type of silhouette that I would go for.

Don't come to this book if you don't already know how to knit. There are instructions for garment care and fiber selection, but there is no how-to-knit section here.

This book shows pictures of each garment flat (as the schematic) in addition to multiple modeled photos. I give this book an A+ for showing off the sweaters. You wouldn't look at these sweaters and immediately go to thinking that they are hand knit, which speaks to a level of refinement to the designs.

I think my favorite sweater of the bunch is the Herringbone Sweater - and not just because it is knit with baby alpaca! I love the herringbone zigzags, and the sweater is so classic and lovely. Too bad Keith won't wear V-neck sweaters... but a crew neck wouldn't be as wonderful with the design.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cake Dyeing Experiment

I recently started a new series on my YouTube Channel called Dyeing Experiments.  I have made many dyeing tutorials on the fly where I haven't exactly known what the outcome was going to be, so I decided that rather than calling some of these tutorials, I should go ahead and name them what they are... Experiments!

Logic would dictate that when you are dyeing whole cakes of yarn, a cake that is more tightly wound would absorb color slower than a loosely wound cake.  But why not try it out?  The extremes between these two cakes will also highlight how even two similarly wound skeins in a dyepot won't come out identical.

Before the challenge, I weight the two balls of yarn.  The tight cake had 99g, and the loose cake weight 98 g. There is a greater surface area to the looser wound cake, so even though dye penetration should be easier, there is also a greater access to yarn just on the outside of the cake.  I cannot wait to see what is going to happen! 

The insides of both cakes had a really cool look.  The deepest portion has a purple tinge, which is rimmed by a pale blue halo before getting to the darkest outside portion.  Of course, the colors are overall darker on the loose cake than the tight cake. 

The loose cake took up way more color than the tight cake, as we hypothesized.  This doesn't mean that the tighter cake isn't beautiful, because it has a gorgeous mottled quality to it.  In the picture below, it looks like there is a lot of white left in the tight cake, but it is really a pale blue.  Every bit of yarn did take up SOME color. 

I am still amazed that these came out of the same pot.  The colors coordinate really nicely together, but other than that they do not look like they are twins at all.  I think that I will want to combine both of these skeins into a single project.  Any suggestions?

Want to see every step of this experiment?  Check out the video below: