Monday, April 29, 2013


My first time going to my local yarn store in Evanston I became enamored with a skein of Madelinetosh Merino Light in the color Logwood.  I looks like this single ply yarn has just a dusting of color applied after the yarn was spun with a slightly white core.  I have no idea how the dye job worked, but the coloration is stunning.  

Ever since I first tried the Hitchhiker Scarf, I have wanted to knit more of Martina Behm's designs.  At long last, it is time for me to knit Magrathea

I chose to knit the scarf/shawl (this is going to count for my 13 in 2013 after all!) on size 4 (3.5 mm) knitting needles.  This is a little bigger than the pattern requires (3.0 mm), but I wanted to be able to knit it with my harmony circular set rather than using straight needles.  I do love my round needles!  

There were some issues with the set up chart where there weren't enough stitches to do the number of decreases illustrated (row 19 and one row much earlier on that I didn't make a note of.)  Maybe I made an error farther down... but row 17 was knit perfectly.  Initially, I omitted the first SSK in row 19 and turned the K3tog in row 21 to a K2tog, but the lace didn't look right. Looking more closely at the lace, I realized that the extra stitch is before the first SSK of row 19. (3 rather than 4 sts)  I backtracked to move the placement of the YO, and then reknit 21 also turning the K4 into a K3.    I really think I must have messed something up somewhere... I am still 1 stitch short for the beginning of the body chart.  I therefore changed the second SSK into a K stitch to regain the stitch I lost.  (JUST ON THE FIRST REPEAT!)  I think everything should be fixed now.  

I need to keep track of yardage to know when I am close to 25% remaining.  
  • 100 g before casting on.  I will need 25 g to finish the scarf.  
  • 88 g remain after 6 repeats of body chart.  
  • In the 10th repeat of the body chart, I count 73 sts after row 7. (After row 8, 78 g remain.)  I should really count on row 7 of the 11th repeat (since you're supposed to do one more after 3 away from 25) - 77 sts remain.  If I am still 1 stitch short at the end of Round 25 (or wherever I need to stop) then I can just add a pfb at the end of the first edging row.  
  • 65 g remain after 15 repeats.  
  • 55 g remain after 18 repeats.  
  • 47 g remain after 20 repeats. 
  • 39 g remain after 22 repeats.  
  • 36 g remain after row 7 of repeat 23.  (125 sts)  I'm still 1 stitch off from being divisible by 6, so I haven't lost any more sts.  (This is a good thing!)
  • 31 g remain after 24 rows.  
  • 133 sts after row 7 of repeat 25.  I would need to decrease 1 st to make it divisible by 6.  27 g remain.  I am going to go to the end of the shawlette here and decrease one stitch with a P2tog lined up with the lace edge (just after the marker) in the p'd across row.    
  • 21 g remain after the completion of Edging Chart I.  
  • 15 g remain after row 8 of Edging Chart II.  
  • 8 g remain before bindoff.  
  • 7 g remain when I'm all done!

It has been very interesting knitting the same lace in two directions.  I have enjoyed this a lot!  Too bad it isn't simple enough to memorize the pattern (like Hitchhiker), but it was still quite a great knit.  I cannot wait to make another.  I also cannot wait to use Madelinetosh Merino Light yarn again.   Too bad I'm currently on a yarn diet...

In pictures, it is a little hard to tell the difference between the two sides of the scarf, however the directionality is more apparent in person.  Still, I took closeups of the two ends of the scarf (above) and the center point (below) so you could get a sense of how it looks if you should knit this project yourself.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

First Crochet Amigurumi - Little Owlettes

I am starting to feel a little more comfortable with crochet, so I decided it was time to try a crochet amigurumi.  It is a little silly that I selected a pattern that requires notions I do not have in the house, but I will just have to make a trip to the craft store this weekend.  I wanted to try out these Baby Owl Ornaments (pattern available as free Ravelry download) so I pulled out my F hook and started crocheting!

The very first thing I had to look up is what is a magic circle.    Oh, I guess this is just the terminology for starting in a circle that I've done in the past.  Awesome!  I got half way through the increases when I realized I was doing SC wrong.  Time to start again! (Third time's the charm?)  WOW this is MUCH better!  

For the first Owl, I am using a size F (3.75 mm) crochet hook and some 100% Lion Brand Wool Print that I used from my first ever felted mittens.  Or 3 g of it... and then I ran out.  (I think these are hard colors to work with because I cannot see the stitches very well.)  I then Switched to a grey WOTA for the top of the owlette.  (AT ROW 7)

The second owlette used 5g of hot pink WOTA.

Don't know what safety eyes look like?  They look like little screws with washers that you attach to the back of the toy.  Super cute!   It turns out that Michaels does not have safety eyes in stock, so I found these from a seller on Etsy.  

I poked holes in the felt to get the safety eye through the felt, rather than cutting a slit.  I used small DPN and then larger ones until the hole was large enough for the size 6 mm safety eye to fit through the hole.  

I then attached the eyes to the unstuffed owl.  The biggest problem I see with safety eyes is that you cannot adjust the placement once you've finished the project.   

I was not able to sew through t he felt with the yarn needle, so the placement of one of the beaks is much better than the other.  After sewing the beaks down, I glued the eyes down.  Voila!  My first ever crochet amigurumi are complete!  I have a feeling that I will be making more of these teeny owls in the future.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Carding Attempt 2

Watching the videos from my How Not to Card post taught me MANY useful things.   But I also wanted to test out once I had the fiber properly carded, how to turn it into rolags.
  1. Pull the fiber off of the carder into a strips (see the bottom part of the picture.)
  2. Roll up horrizontally (which that you have more concentrated the fibers that are facing approximately the same direction.
  3. Gently draft open into a rolag.

My carded wool is a little less grey the second time around.  Apparently this is something that can happen with new carders and you should just card with either dark wool or wool you don't care about until it comes off clean.

My spinning wheel is currently occupied with another project, so I wasn't able to immediately try these rolags out... but I am excited to try blending different types of fibers next!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

More Hexipuffs!

It has been a while since I've made some hexipuffs, and I've received some generous and very purple RAK's.  I have not had the chance to knit with many of these yarns yet, but I hope to very soon.

I made a hexipuff from the yarn that I used in the first sweater I ever made (In high school - see middle puff below.)  The puff is a tad bit bigger than some of the others, but I think that this will be okay in the end.  I'm not too worried about it in any case.

I did not finish quite as many hexipuffs as I had hoped for this update.

SO I did a "measurement" and found that ~30 hexipuffs (5x6) makes 1 square foot of quilt.  A full mattress (double) is 54" x 75", or ~ 4.5' x 6.25'.  28.125 square feet, which means that I would need around 900+ hexipuffs.  At the rate I'm going, this should take me around 25 years.  Do you think I'll ever make it there?  (I only have 36 completed right now.)  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Art yarns luxe cowl

When my mom gave me a coveted skein of ArtYarns, I wanted to do more than just a tiny one skein projects. I realized that I was dying to make a second Luxe Cowl from the  Luxe Accessories set, and that the limited artyarns yardage would pair perfectly with some Aloft I had in my stash already!

I started off with a 49g, 114 yard ArtYarns Beaded MOhair and Sequins skein and 24 g of the Aloft in Tranquil.  I knit the cowl on size 8 knitting needles.   In a slightly creepy fashion, the project required 18 g of each type of yarn... IDENTICAL to what happened the first time I knit the Luxe Cowl.  This is especially odd because I used a completely different yarn for the contrast color this time.

I considered making this cowl double size so I could wrap it around my next twice.  Therefore, after the 5th repeat, I measured the amount of yarn used again.  Unfortunately, after the 5th repeat I only had 9 g of Aloft left.  This is enough to finish this cowl, but not enough to make it much larger.  There was plenty of ArtYarns left over, so this would be enough for a third cowl (or completely different project) in the future.

The kitchener stitch is much harder with a beaded yarn than it was with KnitPicks Capra from my first version.  I quickly got the hang of it, and the grafting is nearly invisible.  

I have 31 g of the Luxury ArtYarns remaining.   What do you think I should use it for?  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A "Real" Crochet Project

Time to do a new years resolution and make a REAL crochet project!  (By REAL I mean not just the border or something... and something that is not a granny square.  I want to try increases!)   I decided to make a baby hat because it is a small and fast project to create... not to mention that my back up baby show gifts have all disappeared in recent months.  I selected the Bev's Newborn Roundie Hat for this project.  I used Lilly Sugar'n'Cream Ombre 02223 and Size G (4.0 mm) crochet hook.

So I'm not sure what it means by make 14 DC's inside ring.  Am I supposed to go all the way around the chains or pick up a loop from the first chains?  I'm going to figure to go all the way in because I couldn't fit 14 trying to pick up from the edge of the frist loop.  I picked up from inside the circle and it was MUCH easier.  The hole in the center was a little big, but I was able to tighten the tail and it brought it closed.  I'm crocheting!!!!

Knitting Round 4, I think that this isn't any where near big enough with 35 sts.  Maybe the hat would fit a DOLL head but not a baby.  I frogged this row and decided to add an increase stitch into every 3rd stitch rather than every second stitch.  (New Round 4 had 48 sts.)  Continue as written.  (Look at me, modifying a crochet pattern!)  

I knit a total of 10 dc rounds, and then did one sc round.  32 g in the hat.  25 g remain.  Completed in an evening!!  The final hat is 5.5" long, 6" wide.  What should I crochet next?

This project would not have been possible without the help from my Encyclopedia of Crochet (seen in some of the above pictures.)  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Trying for Less Spin

My last two skeins of hand spun yarn have been a little rougher than I would like.  I've been getting more consistent with my drafting, so this was causing me to try to spin and treddle faster.  More twist in the yarn = more rope like.  It is time to try to slow things down and get less spin into the fibers.  (Hopefull with less breaks!)

I'm using some natural colored Montadale Combed top that I  received as part of my generous gift. The fiber has a LOT of crimp to it.  It is a really pretty color, brown flecked with white.  The fiber is a bit slippery and it is hard to re- join if I break the continuous flow.

A bit too late (30 g into spinning), I decided I wanted to make this a 2 ply (rather than Nply) yarn.  I zeroed the scale with a blank spindle and leader, and then split the rest of the yarn to make two 39/40 g bunches.  Hopefully I will get close on yardage.  (With what remains, I can make a mini 2-ply skein from the center pull ball method.  This yarn is so fuzzy that I didn't want to do this with the entire thing.)

I'm really concerned that there is so little twist that I am going to break the singles a ton when I ply.Before I ply the yarn, I weighted the spindles.  Both weigh 95 g.  (But, of course, this is what I had planed on when I divided the fiber with weighting hte spindles)

So far so good.  No breakage of the singles and the plying is going easily.  The yarn is really soft and yarny (not ropy) so I think I achieved my less twist.  However.... some of this may be due to the crimpiness of the fiber itself and not my spinning technique.  i will need to try this "less is more" twist action in a different fiber as well.

There was only a little yarn left on the second spindle, so I wound this into a center pull ball and then used both ends to create a 2-ply miniskein.

So just after writing this I had my break.  Rather than adding a knot, I just have a small region of 3 ply yarn.  No harm no foul.  Right?   This is why it is better to make this a 2ply yarn than single ply.  Stronger is much better!

Big Skein: 196 wraps = 261 yards 2ply   76 g
Mini Skein (not pictured): 8 wraps + 1 ft = ~11 yards 3 g
17 WPI = Sport weight

Finished in Jan 2013.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Behind the Design of the Denise Shawl

Denise Shawl Knitting Pattern PDF - $5.00 

Now I've shared with you my notes from the actual construction of the shawl, but I also wanted to give you some sneak peaks behind the design of this shawl.  I started out with the idea that I wanted to use a twisted braid lace design.  I did some sketches on how I could orient it into a triangular shawl.

Next I started drawing out the lace pattern in excel.  I drew out a skeleton of the YO's that I wanted and then added decreases around the pattern.  

I wanted to check out the decreases were working, so I knit a swatch of each of the three sections.  You can see my markings and corrections in the paper above.  

Finally, I knew that I wanted there to be some fun points at the end of the shawl.  I also wanted to fill in the end with a bit more design for the edging.  In the following swatch, I tried out some additional "V's" versus diamonds.  (I ended up going with the V's.)

Of course, Indy was very interested in every step of this process.

This shawl was really fun to design, but it was even more fun to knit.  Why don't you purchase the knitting pattern and try it out yourself?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Breaking Delphinium Blue

Ever since I read that Wilton's Delphinium Blue Food Coloring is composed of both Red and Blue food coloring I wanted to try breaking it.  I used some unknown wool that was part of my generous gift.  I space dyed the roving and it resulted in some stunning color separation from teal to a magenta.  (See the below video.)

The finished unspun wool:


I spent a lot of time thinking about how to spin this up.  I could have randomly chosen sections and then gotten random stripes, or I could make a gradient.  In the end, I separated the most purple parts from the blue parts. I thought it would be fun to spin this one as bit of a gradient.  There will still be a lot of variation within the blue section, this is super fun and pretty!

I think that I still have an issue with over spinning.  I'm not sure how to go about this or how to make a softer yarn.  I would like to make this a 3ply yarn again, but we will see how long it takes me to spin it.  It isn't as thin as the previous 3-ply that I created, so it may not have any where near as much yardage.  But I am still excited about the prospect of a multi-ply gradient. 

There was some debris in the fiber, and also some really short pieces of wool.  I am not understanding why good picking is important!   This doesn't spin as easily as some of the other fiber I've spun, but the experience is REALLY good because I'm learning about what I want for when I prepare fiber.

After the first bobbin was basically full, I decided to switch to a second bobbin.  I know I will need to eventually, and I want to make some 3 ply yarn with the gradient intact.  (I was afraid that there would be only blue - med mixed and I wanted no knots with all three colors.  This makes it more like a single yarn rather than two different of different colors.)  

I n-plyed the yarn, and you could see the deeper purple sections as I went towards the center of the second spindle.

The yarn is a little rough.  I really need to stick with the slowest whorl and try to add less twist to the yarn.  I need to treadle slower and to draft faster.  This is something that I will work on more in the future.

There are two skeins that are technically very different, but are part of a matched set.  I haven't yet decided what I would make with this, but maybe some kind of bottom up shawlette starting with the purple.  

In the end I had 100 wraps of the more multicolored yarn, or 133 yards.  There are 117 yards (88 wraps) of the more solid blue skein.  

Finished January 2013.