Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wool 2 Dye 4

I have always wanted to order yarns from Wool2Dye4, but unfortunately most of the yarns come in 10 skein batches (intended for bulk purchases by independent dyers.)  I have tried some of the yarns via dye festivals, based on the yardage weight of the yarn on the lable, but I was really excited to try out the bare yarns.

In my sock weight sampler, I got Cash Sock MCN, Sheila's Sock and Silk Sock 50/50.  This also came with two miniskein samples - Silk Sock 50/50 (unfortunately also in the sampler) and Sheila's Sparkle.  I haven't tested them out yet, so I cannot review them... but I am saving them all for a special occasion.

The sock yarn sampler (and other samplers) are only available occasionally, so it is worth checking back on the website often if you are interested in trying them out for yourself.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Crochet Mini Octopus

When I finally started crocheting amigurumi, I found it hard to stop.  This mini octopus crochet pattern is so darling that I knew I needed to start it right away!

Once again, I did not yet have safety eyes when I started this project.  I therefore decided to start by crocheting the legs (rather than the body) so I could get farther along with the project before needing to stop.
I used KnitPicks WOTA Wonderland Heather (16 g total, ~35 yards) and size F (3.75 mm) crochet hook.

I am so glad that you can knit the legs as one piece.  This will make it MUCH easier to finish the project.  This was the most complex crocheting I've ever done, but it was worth it.  Plus now the legs are all orientated evenly.  You can't even tell all the HDC's that I missed along the way.  New stitch!  This is my first HDC!  (At some point I hope to be able to do these stitches without keeping my Encyclopedia of Crochet super close.)  I did the HDC's into the back loop since the pattern didn't specify.  (I don't know what is more standard!)  Just the legs alone took 10 g of yarn!

After row 12, I need saftey eyes to continue, so I waited fro my package to arrive.  I used 8mm safety eyes.  I placed them near the 9th row as it was marked.   So I put the eyes betweein rows 9 and 10, but I sort of wish thatI had placed them between 10 and 11 to have them be a little "shyer."  I decided against adding an embellishment for now, but I may add a little bow at a later date.  


There are so many adorable free octopus knitting patterns (and free squid knitting patterns) out there.   I compiled a list of free squid/octopus crochet patterns before I had even started crocheting.  I have a feeling that I will be making more items from these lists in the future!  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Baby Pod

Now that I have dyed fiber and spun the yarn for the baby pod, it is time to start knitting!  The Peak-a-boo Pod knitting pattern can be found in the book Welcoming Home Baby the Handcrafted Way.  

The two hand dyed handspun yarns I'm using for this project.  The first chunky attempt (green, right) and the very bulky blue Chirphead yarn.  

Gauge Swatches

The Peek-a-Boo Pod calls for size 19 needles, but the largest I could get for my harmony interchangables is 17 (12.0 mm).  Since my needles are a bit smaller, I wanted to check my gauge with both of the yarns.

Chunky Baby Bod Yarn - 7 sts/ 4", 5 rows/2" over stockinette.  Pretty close to what the pattern calls for, so I call that a win!

First Chunky Attempt Yarn - 9 sts/4", 6 rows/2".  This is very loose and would easily stretch to larger dimensions, perfect for making it fit a baby!

Peek-a-boo Pod Construction Notes
  • I did not have any stitch markers that were large enough to go over size 17 needles, so I put a removable marker on the last stitch of the first round.  
  • I cast on 45 sts with the First Chunky Attempt Yarn and knit 5 rounds (opposed to the 4 indicated in the pattern.)  I know that as this stretches to accomodate the baby I'd lose some of the depth to the pod, so this should counteract the slightly smaller gauge.  
  • First row with Chunky Baby Pod Yarn - *K7, K2tog* across (40 sts)  
  • After 4 rows of Chunky Baby Pod Yarn, 75 g remain.  This means that I will likely consume all of this yarn before getting to the decreases, but I think that will be okay.  I can just switch back to the other yarn for the bottom of the pod.  (Where it won't really be visible.)  
  • 15.5 rows were completed with the Chunky Baby Pod Yarn.  I then switched back to the First Chunky Attempt Yarn.  I continued counting rounds as they were written in the pattern until I had completed 19 rounds since the switch (25 rounds total INC row on needles) and the piece measured 8" from the cast on edge.
  • After 16 sts left, K2tog around before pulling yarn through remaining stitches.  

Final Dimensions of the baby pod are 10" deep x 12" wide.  It is VERY stretchy, so I believe that it would easily accomodate my newborn baby boy.  I decided not to weave a ribbon through the pod at this time.  I don't think the issue will be the pod being too loose on my baby, if anything it could be a wee bit tight.  

In the end I used 100% of the 28 yards of my chunky chirphead yarn, and 50 g  (30.2 yards) consumed of "first chunky attempt" yarn.  As you can see from the side in the picture below, the yarn that I created specifically for this project is showed off really well on the sides, and this is exactly what I wanted.  I cannot wait to share a picture of this project with my baby instead of a stuffed animal!  

If all goes well, the baby will be born in about a month!  Wish us luck.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Spinning for Baby Pod

Part 2 on the way to my Newborn Photoshoot Baby Pod!

In my last post I shared how I dyed some KnitPicks Full Circle Roving to a beautiful blue/purple colorway.  I dyed this fiber specifically to make a bulky yarn for a Newborn Cocoon for Chirphead's 2 week old photoshoot.  

The first thing I did was install the Jumbo Orifice Kit to the wheel.  This was really easy to to do with the included Allen wrench.  I'm happy I got this kit, as it should help things run smoothly, and it is easy enough to go back to the original wheel settings.  

I knew that I wanted to spin some kind of bulky weight yarn for this cocoon, or at least as bulky as I can.  This will eliminate a lot of drafting from the project, and I will need to take care to have minimal twist in the yarn.  I separated the yarn into ~1" thick pieces.  I'm not planning on plying the yarn, but if it isn't thick enough I could see myself doing that after that fact.  

The yarn is coming out a bit thick and thin, but I think this will have some good character.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!   I had trouble with some uptake of this yarn.  I should have watched some YouTube videos first.  I ended up needing to split the yarn onto two spindles.  

This is no where near the best spinning job I've ever done, but it only took about an hour for me to spin this all up.   I made a simple felted join to join the yarns from the two spindles together.

I wound the yarn onto my homemade niddy noddy and then set the twist with hot water.  I was very careful when washing the fibers because I knew that the sections with very little twist would felt easily.

21 wraps = 84 feet = 28 yards.   The WPI will vary a lot over the course of the yarn, but from a reasonable section I got a WPI of 5-6, this is DEFINITELY a bulky yarn!

Sometimes there was too much twist.  I do not really know how to control this better, because thinner sections of the wool will take a LOT of twist whereas the thicker sections take very little twist.  As I mentioned before, I had some issues with uptake which didn't help in preventing these over twisted sections. 

I have no idea if this is anywhere near enough yardage for this project.  I guess we'll find out when I try to start knitting it!    Backup Plan - I have some stunning thick and thin single ply yarn that I picked up in Chile that is green.  I have enough yardage of this for the main body of the cocoon.  I think this project is a fast enough knit that I will try to knit the body with this handspun bulky yarn as the MC, but if I run out way too short then I'll frog it and turn it into the CC instead so that you see these colors up around Chirphead's head in the photoshoot.

Stay tuned for the knitting of the Baby Pod in the next post!  

Spinning completed August 2013.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dyeing for Baby Pod

Welcome to an exciting dyeing project!  The project I'm going to share in this post (and over the next few posts) is really special because this is the first time that I have dyed roving and spun yarn for a specific project.  I have no idea how it will turn out, or whether I will end up with enough yarn, but I am excited to share the journey with  you.  (What is the special project?  Why a baby pod to use at a newborn photoshoot for my baby due this October.)  

I started with some KntiPicks Full Circle Roving in the color Pigeon.  I have handpainted fiber twice in the past, and both times I used slightly different techniques.  The first time I handpainted roving, I added 3 T of white vinegar to the pot of water where I presoaked the yarn.  The second time I hand painted fiber, I mixed 1.5 tsp of white vinegar in each cup of dye.  From my previous experiences, I think I had an easier time spreading out the color when I added the acid source along with the dye, so that is what I'm going to do today.

I added less than 3 cups of total dye volume to the roving.  I used a combination of blue, black and purple food colorings (both Wilton's and McCormick's) and even played around with diluting one of my darker colors.

I cooked the roving  for 6 min (3 min intervals) until hot and then let it sit for hours to cool down completely.

The fiber was washed in luke warm water with mild dish soap.  There was very little runoff of color.  I'm not super concerned about washing thoroughly because the fiber will be washed a second time after spinning, this time in much hotter water.

I hung the fiber up to dry.  I am in LOVE with the deep blue and purple colors.  If I had wanted to avoid more purples, I should have 1) not used violet food coloring, and 2) instead of using black to deepen the color (which contains red food coloring) used McCormick's blue food coloring to deepen the brighter blues. However, I am happy with the way the colors came out and since my contrasting color handspun for this project has flecks of red in it I wanted this to be reflected in the overall project.  Who says purple can't be for boys?

The colors are always much darker while wet, which is something I really need to remember for the future.  I am still very happy with the colorway, and cannot wait to see how it will look spun. (If you watched the video at the beginning of this post then you will see a sneak preview of the result from the next post!) 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Teddy Bear Amigurumi

When I saw the Teddy Ornaments crochet pattern, my first thought was that these round creatures really do look like ornaments!  

So far other amigurumi I've made with WOTA I've used a size F hook.  This calls for sport weight and smaller than B....  I think I may try using a slightly smaller hook than F to make this a little smaller rather than modifying the pattern itself.  I have both E and D hooks.  I will try to make it with D, but if I have trouble with tension I will move up a size.

I was on row 3 when I discovered the designer had linked to a post with modifications made to work with worsted weight yarn and size D needles!  Thankfully this would mean that I didn't need to start over again.

Before finishing the bottom, I added size 6 mm safety eyes placed between rounds 6-7.  I used used one strand of palette to embroider nose/mouth.  (I think it turned out alright!  For once I like my embroidery!)

I used chocolate yarn for the body (22 yards) and an extra 3 yards were used to complete the ears.  For the scarf I used Teal (~2.5 yards) and Wonderland Heather (~5 yards).  I chained 53 sts to start and then followed the supplemental instructions.

The scarf is my first real "flat" piece of crochet.  I am quite proud of it, especially since it doesn't matter that the ends are a little uneven.  The scarf was done all in one direction, so I have not worked back and forth crochet yet.

I glued the scarf to the bear per the instructions.  I used pins to hold the scarf in place as the glue dried.

I am in LOVE with the final result.  The pattern also includes instructions to create a panda and a koala bear.  I know that I will be making more of these in the future!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Last Minute Baby Shower Gift

At the beginning of this summer, my SIL and BIL were in town visiting from the UK.  They were going to stay with us the second weekend they were in town and with my SIL's BFF (who is also pregnant) the first weekend.  This BFF was going to have her shower, and while I'm not invited I still wanted to send something sweet for her baby.

The problem.  I realized that I wanted to send her a knit gift the day before the shower.  (My BIL and husband are hanging out during the shower, so he would be able to deliver the gift to his host in the evening.) Unfortunately, everything in my current gift drawer was earmarked for a particular bun.  I had nothing extra!   I decided that I would just need to whip something up particularly for this friend.

I have some cotton blend worsted weight yarn (KnitPicks Comfy Worsted) in a variety of colors, but I do not know the gender of this baby.  (These yarns were left over from the sample cards I made my MIL and FIL last Christmas to pick colors for their afghan.)  I therefore decided to go with a fairly neutral pale sage green "Silver Sage."  I selected the Ripple Eyelet Baby Hat pattern - Sweet and simple.

I followed the modifications I made previously to make this hat in the round.  I used size 6 double pointed needles.  Looking back at the pattern I have no idea why they would want you to switch to larger needles for the crown decreases.... I'll stick with size 6 needles throughout.  I forgot to do garter stitch for the brim and ended up with reverse stockinette.  Oh well, it still looks cute!  

After 4 pattern repeats the hat measured 5.5" at the points of the hat.  In the end,  this baby hat consumed 29 g, ~64 yards of yarn.  The final hat measures 6" long x 13" circumference.  

I bust my butt to finish this project in a day, and then Keith forgets to bring it to his brother!  Keith is now responsible for finding out the couple's address and mailing it to them.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Stitches Midwest

I have an awesome husband.  He took me to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair for our anniversary at the end of June and happily looked through all of the fiber and yarn with me.  In mid-July, I realized that Stitches Midwest was coming up in August.  I hesitantly mentioned that there was another fantastic yarn expo to him, expecting him to sigh and say that he JUST took me to one... but to my surprise as soon as I mentioned another expo this summer he responded, "Awesome, we should go!"

Stitches is a much bigger fiber event than the Midwest fair and draws amazing teachers from around the country.  There were many classes that tempted me (both design and dyeing), but between CFS and pregnancy (30 weeks as of the time of the event) I'm just not comfortable driving myself 50 min for a full day event only to have to drive myself home.  This is why Vogue Knitting Live Chicago worked perfectly for me because I could take the train downtown.  Unfortunately Vogue Knitting Live this year is taking place 2 weeks after my due date, so I won't be attending!

I failed at my yarn diet for the year (I blame it on the pregnancy), but I am still trying to be good about adding fiber to my stash.  While at this expo I was looking for things that would catch Keith's eye so that I could make a special project for him.  While I didn't come home with any yarn, I did come away from the expo testing out two new fiber based techniques: Needle Felting and Tunisian Crochet.

Keith tried needle felting, too!

At the needle felting demonstration in the Esther's Place booth, we got the chance to make felted beads.  This was the first time I had ever tried needle felting and I loved it!  In fact, I liked it so much that I purchased two little kits to bring home.  One of the kits includes the foam piece (to protect yourself) and needle.  I will be making a 2d purple seahorse ornament from the first kit and a 3D penguin from the second.  I hope I can do this new craft justice.


The second new craft was tunisian crochet.  I have been curious about this technique that is a combination of knitting and crochet, but with just one long crochet hook.  You crochet and keep many stitches on the needle in one direction, and then in the other you "cast off".  The most basic stitch gives a really nice pattern, as you can see on my lap below.

I can see this being a technique I explore more in the future.  I know that KnitPicks sells crochet hooks that can screw into the interchangeables needles set, so I think this would be a perfect chance to fill in my collection of hooks at the same time as plying with a new way of stitchery.  

If you have never been to a yarn expo, I highly recommend it.  It is certainly worth the admission fee, even if you aren't planning on purchasing a lot of yarn!