Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bringing a Doll out of Hibernation

Sometimes I start a project and get really far really fast... and then I end up setting it aside and forget about it for a while.  Last fall I started the pattern Mary, Millie, and Morgan during a class with Susan B. Anderson at Vogue Knitting Live.  I'm not sure why I stopped working on the doll.  I made great progress in the class, finishing the head, the body and part of one leg.  At the end of March it was time for me to bring this project out of hibernation and finish it up.  Hopefully I can find all of the instructions!

The WIP that I set aside for way too long. 
I pulled out my size 3 (3.25 mm) dpn's and my remnant bag of shine sport and started working on this doll again.  Hopefully I can remember the tips that Susan taught us in her class to finish her up!

I started this project with 6 g of an unknown purple.  This is close to the color Iris, but isn't exact.  Since I was afraid that I would run out of the unknown purple for the stripes on the second leg, I knit the first purple stripe in Iris and the last two with the unknown shade.  

As I finished up the doll body, I decided that her name would be Millie.  I suppose I picked it because that was my favorite of the patter title, but it also seemed to suit her.  I felt triumphant after finishing the doll after letting her sit as just a head and torso in my travel knitting bag for months.  My feelings then shifted to fear... soon I have to do all of the finishing details.  Millie is all sewn up, but she needs a face, hair and to have her shoes embroidered.  Yikes!  

Lucky "helping" me finish up Millie
The shoes were simple to finish, it was just duplicate stitching with the skin tone to turn them into Mary Jane's.  I've done this before so I wasn't concerned.  French Knots on the other hand...

I did make a mistake when making the feat and did one too many decreases, which is why they are shaped a little wonky.  I also wish that I hadn't made them quite as long, but I suppose that since I have such big feet myself I shouldn't feel bad about creating a doll with large feet, too!  

There is more knitting on the body left, I forgot about the ears!  I love how the ears are picked up and knit versus knit and then sewn on.  I think that it looks much better in the end.

Before doing the face, I added the first two strands of hair so I could get a sense of where I wanted the hairline to go.  I was REALLY nervous about the embroidery, but realized that the only tricky part would be the French knots which I did previously when making Lucky's Halloween Costume.  (Here is a handy tutorial if you need some French Knot Help.)  For the mouth I split the 4 ply shine sport in half and used 2 of the pink plys.

I went for a center part and the rest went pretty smoothly, even if it took a long time.  I just wish that I had done this right after the demonstration from Susan!


Embroidering on the part was  a breeze.  Now I have a finished doll!

I decided to knit a single color "pretty dress.  I'm using Shine Sport in "pistachio" and size 5 (3.75 mm) knitting needles.

I think the dress was the fastest part of the whole project, but then again I didn't take a huge break in the middle of its construction.  If I were making this for a real little girl, I would worry that the dress is too short, but on a doll it is fine!

Isn't Millie Darling?  There are a few minor details I'm still not sure about.  I sort of want to secure the tops of the braids to the side of her head so it is harder to "mess up" the hair from the part.  It just doesn't feel secure and one good yank will really mess it up.  I also sort of wish the neckline of the dress were a little tighter, but I also used a yarn that has very little elasticity.  These concerns are minor and are only really important if I decide to knit another doll sometime in the future.

Final Yardage Consumed:
Dark green (shirt and leggings) - 11 g; 24 yards
Purple 1 (pants) -  6 g
Purple 2 (pants) -   2 g; 18 yards purple total
Cream (skin) -  12 g; 26 yards
Brown (hair) -  14 g; 31 yards
Black (shoes) -  6 g; 13 yards
Pistachio (pretty dress) -  17 g; 37 yards

Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Review - Easy Tatting

Right before baby Lucky was born, I decided to learn a few new fiber crafts.  I picked up some needle felting kits from a yarn expo and ordered a tatting shuttle. (I needed to meet $50 for free shipping from KnitPicks!)  I love the vintage feel of tatted lace, and I think it would be fun to make some pieces in colors for a modern twist. I checked out the book Easy Tatting (Dover Knitting, Crochet, Tatting, Lace) by Rozella F. Linden so I could learn more about what I've gotten myself into.  (Discliamer, Lucky is now 18 months old and I have yet to attempt tatting.)  

It is hard to understand what you do by looking at the step by step photos, but I think that I would have an easier time following along with the shuttle actually in my hand.  The book starts with the basic stitch, and then slowly takes you through slightly more complex patterns building on what you just learned, teaching some other stitch types as you go.  The book finally ends with some rather complex (in my opinion) designs.

I don't know how soon I'll start tatting lace, but it is nice to know that there is a book I want to come back to.  This may not be the easiest book for everyone to follow, there isn't a lot of hand holding explanation.  However with a little focus, I feel like I understand how these pretty lace creations are held together.  I will need to watch some videos to help me get started with the stitches, but as far as projects to start with I think I'll be coming back to this book.  There are some patterns that I would love to create!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spinning "On the rocks"

Into the Whirled's September 2014 fiber is English Shetland titled "On the Rocks."  The colorway is pretty, but there is a similar batch where there isn't such a mustard yellow that I am more excited about.

I have some gradient dyed wool/silk blend that I would like to spin as a N-plyed gradient eventually.   I figured that this yarn could be a good practice for gradient spinning, especially since I'd have to break up the colors more to start with since it isn't dyed as one long gradient.

Before separating the fibers I decided to give this some thought.  I want to go Yellow - Green - Blue but I'm not sure if I will separate out the greens and blues more (i.e. Yellow - pale green - dark green - dark blue - light blue)  I don't want to cut any of the fibers and some of the mottling in the fiber itself should be fun.  Wahoo for trying something new with my wheel!  (And for spinning a third month's worth in January, before the January 2015 fiber even arrived.)

I divided the fiber into six different piles.  Mostly yellow, transitional yellow, pale green, dark green/blue, mostly dark blue and blue.  I like that each pile isn't a true color, there are transitions that will happen within each pile.  Awesome!

I want to spin this thin with a reasonable amount of twist to N-ply it.  I therefore sent my wheel to the fastest whorl (8:1) and got spinning, starting with the yellows.

The pieces of fiber are short, I'm going to have to attach new fiber almost constantly.  wish me luck

As I was spinning, I tried to leave part of the previous color uncovered so you could see the growth of the gradient.

The first three color sections are working fantastically!  The color combinations are looking almost heathered, an effect that I love.

For the first time on one of my Into the Whirled fibers I'm seeing some dye leaking.  The dark blue/black is rubbing off of my fingers a bit.  Hopefully too much won't leak out when I set the twist!  Thankfully it washed off of my hands with one simple handwashing (soap and water.)

It has been a while since I N-plyed something, but it is going really smoothly.  I don't think I have too much twist in it at all.  English Shetland practically has been spinning itself!

I didn't check the WPI of my singles, but then again I had a TON of variability in them.

I had a few breaks in the beginning of the plying, but in general it plyed fast.  The yarn is dense, but still very soft and squishy.  I guess I've improved my overspinningness?  The singles are thicker than I wanted but I am going with it. Maybe I'll use one of the other new samples to practice spinning thinner.

64 wraps = 256 ft = ~85 yards
7 wpi heavy worsted

Look at my first ever gradient spun yarn!  I'm still not a fan of the mustard yellow, but I am a fan of of a long gradient.  I wish that there were some more transitional space between each of the colors, looking at some of the pictures of the fiber it looks like 4 distinct colors rather than an ombré.  

This yarn will make a really fun hat, maybe with some simple, thick cables on it.  What would you knit out of this asymmetric yarn?  

Spinning started 1/27/2015
plying completed 1/27/2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Free Squid Crochet Patterns

There are numerous squid crochet patterns and octopus crochet patterns available for free online. I have done a search for these free crochet patterns, and want to share them with you in this lens.
In Knitting vs. Crochet, crochet wins on the number of free cephalopod patterns available.

Toy Squid Crochet Patterns - Free Squid Knitting Patterns

Toy Octopus Crochet Patterns

Miscallenous Squid and Octopus Crochet Patterns - Free Crochet Patterns

Functional Octopus and Squid Crochet Patterns: Baby booties, purses and more! These crochet patterns will help you create more than just a toy.

This pattern search was previously published on Sqiudoo, however with the migration of Sqiudoo to Hubpages at the end of 2014 some of the pattern searches don't work for Hubpages's model.  I have reposted the former lens/hub here.  All the research finding the free knitting patterns is my own and I wrote all of the descriptions of the patterns unless otherwise noted.  Please let me know if any of the links are broken, I am working on migrating multiple pattern searches over here at once.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spinning "Flounce"

I'm not spinning my fiber of the month samples in order, I'm skipping ahead to December 2014.  This was my birthday month, and I got a very Rebecca colorway!   This is my 2nd Into the Whirled spinning project for January, so I am on track for keeping my subscription and reducing my fiber stash (*cough* and increasing my yarn stash while on a yarn diet *cough*)

I've never spun Corriedale before.  The name of the fiber was familiar and I couldn't quite place it.  It wasn't one of the fibers from the single breed yarns experiment, and since it hadn't shown up yet in my Into the Whirled subscription I was puzzled  I then realized that I had some in a batch of fiber I purchased from Webs ages ago.  I got a bunch of different fibers thinking that I would blend them with the chinchilla fiber Keith got me for Christmas, but then discovered that the purchased fiber came as roving already and that I didn't really want to disrupt it.  You might see me dyeing some Corriedale in the future!

My first attempt to split this yielded 51 g and 62 g.  Yikes!  Adjusted 57 and 55 g.  This is close enough!  I know that even when I am able to split the fiber evenly I don't spin evenly so there is only so much you can hope for. The day that I spin two singles that are exactly the same length will be the day that it rains skittles from the rainbow.

Recently I've been spinning on the slowest whirl (5:1) and I've been getting 2 ply worsted weight yarns.  I want to increase my speed and try the 8:1 and maybe I'll spin a thinner yarn.  Hopefully I won't over twist the yarn, as that has been my biggest issue when using the faster whorl in the past.

Teddle slowly, treddle slowly, Rebecca. I have no idea how this will hold up when it is time to ply, but for now it is going really well and I'm spinning the thinnest I've done in AGES.  The predrafted fiber is really thin, almost pencil roving like and I'm sure that is helping, too.  When I first attached the fiber to my leader yarn it spun SUPER SUPER tight and I was worried, but I just drafted out more fiber until there was less twist and continued on.

It isn't the softest yarn, but it is holding together really well.  There is good crimp to the fibers and it isn't slippery.

I'm a little nervous that this will die during plying.  If I pull on the single too hard it a bit it will break.  Although it hasn't broken thus far with the spinning so mabe it will be okay?  Please cross your fingers for me!!

Look at how much of the bobbin HALF of the fiber filled up!  This is a fluffy fiber,  or else I'm wonderful and didn't put too much twist in it.  Let's hope that there isn't too little twist in it so it breaks when plying or knitting!

One yard into spinning into the second half of singles and I got a break.  uhoh....  Soon I got my groove on.  I'm dividing the fiber much thinner this time (like I did at the beginning of round 1) so the color repeats will be shorter on average.  This should look cool when plyed together.

The second half looks smaller on the bobbin than the first half.  WPI #1 = 18  ; WPI #2 = 14-16

When I started plying I had two breaks right near the beginning, but the fiber is sticky enough that they were "fixed" easily.  I'm holding my breath here!  There was one more break later on, but given my fears from earlier on I'm really happy.

There wasn't as much left over from the first batch of plying as I thought.  I wound this into a center pull ball and then used both ends to make a miniskein.

When plying I was surprised how often the long stretches of color lined up.  There is still a ton of character so I'm not disappointed by any stretch.   (When winding the yarn onto my niddy noddy there was less lining up than I thought.)  I'm so glad that I'm not N-plying this yarn.  The singles have so single spin that i think they would break a TON if I was chaining it like that.  I'm not consistent with the amount of twist per inch on the plying, but it looks really cool so I'm happy.

I'm not the biggest fan of the big white patches.  The whites are slightly yellow which doesn't really do much for the purples and blues.  If it were a bluer or pinker white, then it would be really cool.    To my eye, these solid portions stick out like a sore thumb.

Large Skein: 157 wraps * 4 ft/ wrap = 628 ft = 209 yards.  107 g
Small Skein: 17 wraps * 2 ft/wrap = 34 ft = 11 yards.  6 g
12 WPI (DK weight)

200+ yards isn't bad at all, but to quote the little mermaid "I want moooooooore!"  One of these days I'm going to order a second bag of fiber so I can have 200g and spin enough yarn to knit into a luxurious cowl.

Spinning started 1/15/2015 
First half finished 1/16/2015
Second half finished 1/16/2015
Spinning Completed 1/17/2015