Sunday, March 31, 2013

Thin Cherry Red

The last thing I Spun I tried to spin as chunky as possible... This time I'm going as thin as possible.  I had the strand break a few times... maybe too much pressure pulling in?  I dyed some KnitPicks Full Circle Roving with Cherry Kool Aid for this project (hence the name thin cherry red!)  My plan was also to try N-plying the yarn (a method of creating a 3-ply yarn out of a single strand.)

I am spinning this so thin that I decided to break the roving down in to what is basically pencil roving.  This is much easier to manage and I get fewer bumps in the yarn.

I am still spinning on the slowest whorl, I move to the faster and could manage it but I don't mind treddeling a little faster if I want more speed at this point.  This is going much slower than my other spinning projects, but I am assuming this is becaues I'm getting so much more yardage! 

Towards the end, maybe I was getting sloppy but I kept breaking the yarn a lot more.  Hopefully everything holds up when I start plying!

N-plying is much easier than it looks.  I found a great N-plying tutorial that was super helpful.  It is almost like spinning a really long crochet chain with mega elongated stitches.

I split the yarn a few times when plying, but this is around where the yarn was splitting when I was spinning anyway. 

The 3 ply yarn is beautiful, but it is funny.  Because the color is so dark, it is hard to tell that it is multi-ply at all.  On the spindle, it almost looks like single ply.

However if you look closely then you can see the different colors and tell that it is a multi-ply yarn.  This is much more balanced than the two ply yarns I've created before, PLUS it is rounder than 2-ply.  If not for the fact that it eats up yardage I would do this every time I spin!

162 wraps = 216 yards.  This means that I would have had over 600 yards on singles!  I didn't measure the WPI of the singles, but I'm guessing that they were close to lace weight just based on the yardage.  This yarn is 17 WPI and therefore Sport weight.  Wahoo!  I am improving.  I could still stand to add a little less twist over all, so I will need to work on this in my next endeavor 

What roving did I use for this spinning?  I overdyed charcoal grey roving with Cherry Kool Aid.  I had no idea what I was going to happen when I started with this experiment, but I am very pleased with the final results.  The following video wills how exactly what I did.  Isn't my yarn beautiful?

Spinning Finished 1/15/12

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Search for Free Dog Vest Knitting Patterns

Since Indy is full grown, I can now knit him some kind of sweater.  I'm not sure if I'll find one that I like or if I'll design my own, but I decided to do a search for dog sweater patterns that could fit medium sized dogs. (Yes, I am crazy do be looking at this now that Spring is here and it would be cruel to dress Indy in a sweater... but I can start preparing for next winter now, right?)

This is by no means a comprehensive search, but it is a list of the patterns I'm considering making for Indy.

Free Dog Vest Knitting Patterns
  • Perfect Fit Dog & Cat Sweater (Pattern Generator, Top-Down) - This pattern does it all. You can select your own yarn, determine your gauge and the measurements of your dog, and the pattern will walk you through the construction.  I have a feeling that this is the pattern that I will use because it will guarantee a perfect fit.  It is a seamless top down sweater that has arm holes.  If your pet hates to be dressed, you may need to select another pattern.  You will need to create a free account to access this pattern.  
  • Hoodie Dog Coat - This dog sweater slips over the head and through the front arms.  As the name suggests there is a really cute hoodie!  You will need to create a free account to access this Pattern
  • Snowflake Dog Sweater - Sized for a smaller dog (22" chest).  The pattern says that it gives instructions for resizing   This one is really like a little sweater vest with fair isle snowflakes around the middle.  
  • Button Up Dog Sweater - This ribbed turtle neck dog sweater knitting pattern has buttons going up the back of the sweater. This is the cover image from the book Knitted Dog Coats (see below) but it also happens to be available for free at the link provided.
  • Dog Sweater - A cute pullover with a decorative button at the throat.  The knitting pattern is available in multiple sizes. 
  • Biscuits & Bones Dog Coat - A cozy ribbed and cabled dog sweater knitting pattern.  Pullover.  
  • Rainbow Pooch Sweater - A cute striped dog pullover that would be easy to adapt to contain a different stitch pattern.  (You could chart a cute design on the back.)  Comes with instructions for 4 chest sizes.  
  • Dog's jumper with Norwegian pattern - Fair Isle knitting for the win in this adorable pullover.  Four sizes are available, and the give examples of breeds to go along with the sizes (in addition to actual measurements.)  XS = Chihuahua, S = Bichon Frisé, M = Cocker Spaniel, L = Irish setter.
  • Boston Terrier-Sized Sweater - I am not sure how terriers size up to Eskies, but this pullover has a cute sleek design.  The designer provides the measurements of her dog.  (Pictures are available on Ravelry)
  • MinnowMerino Holiday Dog Coat - Three sizes are available in this coat that goes over the head with a chest strap to secure it.  There is some stunning large plaid work here, which is much simpler to make than it looks: "While knitting, the horizontal stripes are made by changing colors for a single row and a vertical rib is created with purled stitches. When the knitting is finished, the vertical stripes are made using a crochet hook, following along the purled rib."
  • The 'Boyfriend" Dog Sweater - Has an adorable colorwork heart/bone (think heart with arrow) on the back.  The designer has numerous other dog sweaters located on the same website.
  • Knitted Dog Jumper - A striped pullover with a bit of a turtleneck.  

Dog Vest Knitting Patterns that Cost Money - In my search I came across some dog vest knitting patterns that I loved, but happened to be in a book or for purchase.  (You can frequently get book patterns for free from your local library.) I am going to share some of my favorite of these patterns below.

Unfortunately most of the patterns I have found are not for long haired dogs, so the pictures are of fitted sweaters on dogs with very short fur.  I know that the neck details aren't super important to me because they were be obscured by Indy's ruff.

Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 SusannaIC Mystery KAL

So excited for another SusannaIC Mystery KAL!  The first clue was released in early Jan, 2013 and continued through March.  The details were available in December so I knew that I would need MANY beads and ~800 yards for this shawl.  I selected Madelinetosh Prairie in Turquoise (started with 122 g.)  Enjoy watching the project unfold with me as I work through the clues.

I hemmed and hawed about removing repeats vs changing needle sizes to conserve yardage for a while.  I had yarn that would work great for the small version, but when I was ordering yarn for this project I didn't know that there was a small option for this KAL.  Oh well.  I think I am going to remove 2 repeats (17*2 sts) from the CO edge.  This should definitely leave me with enough yarn to complete the project, which still making the shawl a bit larger than a shawlette.

Since there are so many beads in this project, I did not want to use the dental floss method to add them to my knitting.  I decided to purchase some tiny crochet hooks to help with adding the beads.  I am not sure if I will have enough beads.  I ordered five tubes of Toho Round Seed Beads 8/0 #88 'Metallic Cosmos' 8 Gram Tube, which at the lowest estimate (7 g per tube, 38 beads per gram) is 1330 beads.  Since I am removing two repeats, this means that there are 86*2 fewer bead that I need to add to the shawl.  Lucky me!   

I knit the shawl on size 6 knitting needles.  I used size 4 for the cast on and size 9 for the bind off, following the pattern instructions.  

Clue 1

I am SO grateful that the pattern makes it so easy for you to add or remove repeats in both the small and large sizes.  I am going to make the large shawl, minus 2 repeats.  (256-17*2= 222 sts cast on)  I used the cable cast on as suggested by the designer.  Not only does this cast on method meet the firmness requirement, it is great when you want to conserve extra yarn because there is no long tail to calculate. 

I realized that I should check my gauge.  I am so worried about yardage, why not make sure that my gauge is on target?  (Especially since this is the first time I've knit one of her designs with this yarn)  6 sts/inch unblocked.  We're ready to roll!

I LOVE the marker placement for the short rows.  This is so much easier than keeping track of which stitch was wrapped or not.

When this projected started (second week of Jan), I was working on the sample of my first shawl design.   (Denise Shawl)  I had figured that it would work nicely because the progress of a mystery KAL is fairly slow.  What I didn't count on this biggest step being the first clue!  Whoops, not too great for my timing.

107 g remaining after the short rows.  I realized (a bit too late for my part) that by removing 2 lace repeats I've reduced the number of rows at the middle of the shawl by 7.  This is only about an inch of depth so it will hopefully not make too much of a difference.  I can easily get 9" at the center if I pull.  Unblocked this is deeper than my Polairs shawl at this point, so I'm feeling a lot better.  


Clue 2

I checked my stitch count (as instructed) and seem to be ready to go!  Picking up the wraps was a piece of cake.  It looks like SSK's and K2togs (as i'm sure its meant to.)

This is my first time using a crochet hook to add beads.  Sometimes I accidentally split the yarn, but I am getting the hang  of it.   95 g remaining at the end of this clue.

Clue 3

Clue 3 went quickly, but it was also shorter overall than clue 2.  I am really enjoying working with this yarn, even with hooking a million beads!  (By comparison, the yarn I'm using for my Mom's Polaris Shawl is not quite as pleasant to knit with.)  85 g remain after the clue.


Clue 4 

The lace is now getting more complicated.  It is taking more focus to knit each row.  I am really enjoying how this pattern is coming out.  When I started this clue, I was still on the first tube of beads and then opened the second. 

There will be 86 beads used per repeat, and at this point we have only used about 30.  I suppose it is possible that I severely underestimated the number of beads that I will require for this project, good thing I like the color!  The only sad thing is that with my Advent Scarf project starting soon, I would have loved to use these same beads on that project. 

Since I would need to move the markers at the beginning of the next clue, I moved them during the last p round.  78 g remain after clue 4.

Clue 5 

This is the first clue where I am both working on this Mystery KAL and the 2012 Advent Scarf (which I started Feb 1, 2013).  I'm afraid that my days of finishing the clue in 1 day are over.  But I am glad to spread this out a bit more because it has been an absolute dream to work on.   (Even if it is only spread out over a second day.)  

The shape is finally looking less Christmas Tree-y and more like a wonderful geometric shape.  I love how there is almost a curve to the lines.  

70 g remain after clue 5.   I have consumed 52 g of yarn at this point, well under 50% of the skein.  I am beginning to regret adapting this shawl to make it a bit smaller.   To think I was worried about running out of yarn!  I should have remembered that I tend to use less yardage than required for many of Susanna IC's designs (Annis and the last Mystery Shawl, but not my Polaris.)  

Clue 6

I take out the shawl to start this clue and realize that I somehow forgot to do the last WS row at the end of clue 5.  This means that I didn't finish!  (Whoops!!)  

I finished the second tube of beads near the beginning of row 57.  Of course, I still have a few dozen beads that haven't been used but are too small to fit on the crochet hook.  These technically would be usable if I were running low, but I am not.  Oh well, I'd rather have too many beads than too few!  

I made sure to finish the last WS row this time around.  I wonder if there is going to be 1 or 2 more clues after today.  I am so excited to see how big this shawl ends up.  58 g remain at the end of the clue 6.  

Clue 7/Clue 8 

Wahoo!  I am so excited that this isn't the last clue.  There are only 8 rows, but since I am still busy with the Advent calendar I wasn't able to start this clue until days after it came out anyway.  Turns out, it was Sunday when I was able to start it... the day before Clue 8 was to come out. (But this was also the day that I finished the Advent Scarf... so much free time now!)  When Clue 8 was released, I was only done with 2 rows of clue 7.  My staying on target stream is done, but it is my own fault for doing to mystery projects at the same time.  

I am overjoyed!  The finishing instructions and blocking schematic won't be coming out until next week's update!  This means that I still have some time to catch up.  

The end of Clue 7
At the end of clue 7, 49 g remain.  Towards the end of row 69, I finished the 3rd tube of beads and opened the 4th.  

I've been so exhausted that I've only been managing 1-2 rows a day.  My hope was to finish this Sunday evening (Tonight - I currently have 1/2 p row, last beaded row and then binding off to finish) so then I would be all caught up for the last clue.  No such luck... The last clue was released Sunday morning!   

The end of clue 8


In total I used just under 3.5 tubes (7-8 g each) of beads.  Of course, there is about 1/3 of a tube that are beads that did not fit comfortably onto my 0.75 mm crochet hook.  If I were concerned about running out of beads, I could have switched to the dental floss method to add these to the project.  I found that the matte beads I used in my advent scarf had MANY more beads that fit onto the crochet hook even though they are the same size same brand.  Something about the treatment of these beads must make the holes smaller.  

Compare size to Polaris. I really didn't need to alter the short rows... In fact, I wish I hadn't so it would be a bit deeper. Set blocked after soaking for 30 min. 35 g remain.   The stages of blocking:

I think removing two repeats was the right decision.  If I have had any complaints with (many) of the shawls I've knit...  it is that they are too long and not deep enough.  I think that I may have a winning size here!  Ultimately, I think the size of this shawl is perfect and I cannot wait to wear it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dyeing for Denise Shawl

Part of what makes my Denise Shawl special is that I also designed the colorway specifically for this shawl.   I wanted there to be a gradient of color like from my cake dyeing experiments but I also knew that for the large version of the shawl I would need more than 100 g of yarn.  My solution was to dye THREE balls of commercially wound KnitPicks Palette Yarn (color Sage).

I have dyed a lot of 100g skeins of yarn, but I knew that I would likely need more than 100g for the Denise Shawl project.  I decided to overdye a color other than bare.  I selected this color in part because it was on sale (Hurrah for Cyber Monday Yarn Sales!) but also to give some more dimension to the whole shawl.

To start off, I had a dyebath of 8 cups of water, 1/2 cup of white vinegar and added a mixture of McCormick's liquid food coloring and Wilton's paste.   After 10 minutes of cooking in the vertical position, the balls of yarn were rotated to be completely submerged for another 10 min of simmering.  During the first 10 min, most of the color absorbed to the yarn, so if you want a little more coverage I would wait 5 min during my next attempt.  Once the heat was turned off, the balls of yarn cooled in the pot (to allow any remaining dye to absorb).  The yarn was washed with luck warm water and dish soap (off camera). 

The Video - Watch exactly what I did!  

The coloration of the balls was really cool.  I loved how the colors played out towards the center of the balls (see picture below.)  The effect would have been different if I had submerged the balls from the start of dyeing, but I wanted there to be some consistency and have some colors carry through most of the shawl.  

I knew that I would not end up with three identical balls of yarn, and I also didn't want there to be stripes in the shawl.  By using three different balls of yarn this would allow me to get a greater proportion of saturated colors near the outer edge of the shawl.  I created the continuous gradient by alternating balls of yarn ever two rows and then adding the third (starting at the darkest portion) when I reached the end of the shawl.

I am very thrilled with the over all effect I got from Dyeing for my Denise Shawl.  What kind of project would you like to apply this method to?

Purchase the Denise Shawl for $5.00 USD.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

How not to Card Wool - First attempts gone wrong

For Christmas, Keith gave me some lovely chinchilla rabbit fiber.  This fiber has been unprocessed, and I can not spin it as is.  It will either need some carding or even some blending before I can attempt to spin it into yarn.  This means that I need some carders.

There are many types of carders, and I went to the Woolery website to figure out what I should get.  I finally decided on "Howard Brush, Standard, 190 TP" because of the following information about carding cloths:  "Extra Fine: 190-255 teeth per square inch. For ALL fibers, especially very fine varieties. Can be used for Cotton, Merino, Llama, Alpaca, Cashmere, Dog Hair and other exotics."  In addition to the chinchilla fiber, I know that I have some dog fur that I will eventually want to spin.  (I also have some raw cotton from my wonderful gift.)  Therefore, I settled on the extra fine carders. 

When my carders arrived, I wanted to see how intuitive they were to use.  I decided to test them out before looking up how to actually use them (yeah, I'm a little stupid.)

So I learned a few things things:

  1. Carding Hurts.   Without noticing, I scratched myself up pretty badly.
  2. I have no idea what I'm doing.   The end result doesn't look any more ordered than what I started with (which admittedly wasn't raw wool.)
  3. So I tried again...

  4. They turned the fiber grey... (I asked on Ravelry and this is normal for new carders.  People recommended using waste fiber or dark fiber with new carders until the discoloration goes away.)  

It is time for a time out to look up some Carding Resources.  It was stupid to try this out while having no idea what I was doing!  

Carding Resources:

The first video shows how wrong I was doing it. I was not pulling with the carders in the opposite direction, I had them in the same direction! No wonder the wool transferred almost immediately.

 The second video show that I should not engage the teeth quite so much, but move them gently across one another.  Biggest mistake you make when you hand card? I did that one! (Globbing the fiber onto the carder)

Difference between Rolag, Top, & Roving... I'm not sure I can recognize the difference between different fiber preparations, but It is still really helpful to know (and to know what to expect from doing my own fiber preparation).  I wish the article had pictures.

The following illustrates some of the confusion I had over carding vs combed top (which is actually more like the "rovings" I've had)

Blending fiber, but also turning hand carded fibers into a roving (i'm not sure if this is the correct terminology... but it looks good!)

Wish me luck when I decide to give carding another chance.  I am going to wait for my fingers to heal first...