3KCBWDAY6 Knitting’s in Our Genes

q8 ~Neither Barb nor I would pass up a knitting pattern we liked that was listed as “Advanced”.  As a pack to ourselves this year, each joint project that we do is specifically to learn a new technique – that is new to both of us.  Doing the Norwegian Star slippers, we learned twined knitting.  Looking inside of the slipper you can see how twined knitting looks.  See that there are not any “carry along” strings.  Each stitch gets twined or twisted before it is knit.

Our next project that we hope to start this week, is two color brioche knitting.  We already have our two balls of variegated yarn.

We’ve chosen different color ways.  Curls loves the harvest palette and I love the winter palette.  If you are interested in learning how to knit brioche, join us!  We’re still deciding between a couple of patterns.  Barbara has knitted a type of brioche, the Fisherman’s Rib.  You can see that in her scarf from the other day.  She has not knitted the regular brioche, nor the two color; so this makes it a new technique for her.  Let us know if you’d like to join in and we’ll let you know which pattern.

Two future projects are a linen stitch scarf and socks.  We’ve knit our share of booties, but not socks.  I did start one, but it was a BORING pattern so off the needles it came.  As we see new techniques, they’ll be added to the projects we must do.

So, beyond beginner knitting, a few skill sets we already have, are: lace, cable, enterlac, twined, dropped stitch, cross-over stitches, beaded, Fair Isle, and whatever I can’t think of. Lol!  Our mom is/was a wonderful knitter and so it’s in the genes!  At 90, she says she just isn’t interested in knitting anymore.  I keep offering to send needles and yarn. lol!

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Guess I’m Not a Vanilla Type of Gal

 Yesterday I started spinning some vanilla colored Ashland Bay Portuguese Wool Top Spinning Fiber. After spinning about 20 oz I decided I could not spin that vanilla color one more minute.  It was so boring I almost fell asleep at the wheel.  Yawn.  I kept saying, “Dye it when you’re done.”  Didn’t work.  Pulled out the crockpot and some KoolAid.  I tried a new dyeing method.  Don’t you just love craft blogs?  I found this method at the do stuff! blog.  This should make kind of a “spotchy” yarn.  Filled the crockpot with water and added some vinegar, even though Kool-Aid has citric acid this is thick wool and I wanted to make sure.  Added the wool, poked it down, turned it over, tons of air in this top.  You can see air bubbles in the picture. Soaked for about 20 minutes.  Then turn crockpot to high; it only has a low and a high setting.  Let it “cook” for an hour.

Colors I used; Ice Blue Raspberry, Orange, Strawberry, Lemonade, and Lemon-Lime:

Sprinkled Lemon-lime color on one side and orange on the other.  Yes, the Kool-Aid package was torn open and sprinkled directly onto the yarn top.  I did have to poke the orange a bit so it would dissolve.  You can see some of the orange Kool-Aid chunks in the picture. I left a swath of neutral color in the middle since I know the colors will bleed together.  Kinda reminds me of the Italian flag!

Top back on and let it cook.  Had to show this picture of my favorite dying tool – the wooden fork!  It is the best yarn-poker, turn-the-wet-yarn-over, and lifter-out-of-pot tool ever!

After about 30 min the dye was exhausted.  I carefully turned the yarn over, making sure I kept the green side to the left and orange to the right.  This time, I sprinkled blue on the green side and 1/2 of the strawberry package onto the orange side.  Red is so strong it will just take over if a whole pack is used.  Blue + green = Blue-green; Red + orange = red=orange.  Yum! Last dye step.  After all of the blue and the red have been exhausted, look for any white spots and add yellow lemonade.  You can see that there is a small white line going around the yarn top.  Gently turn the yarn and add yellow to the back portion.  Now the yellow lemonade has been sprinkled all around.  After the yellow has been exhausted, I let the yarn cool down in the crockpot.  With spun yarn I dump it into a colander to drain the water.  This is my first time doing a top, it seems more fragile.  I did not want to agitate too much, so I turned the crockpot off and let it cool down slowly.

Ta Da!  The final product.  I let the top cool down in the crockpot, carefully lifted into the colander to drain for awhile, then gently rinsed in a cake pan. Now it’s on the boot tray to dry.  Love the boot trays from Target.  They are large, heavy, unbreakable plastic, with about 1/2 inch lip all around. Perfect for putting wet yarn on.

My husband said, “It looks like cotton candy.”  😎  Really is quite vivid.  When it dries, I’ll spin it.  Can’t wait to see how the splotchy colors turn out!!!  Easy peasy way to dye.

Off to sister Barb’s today.  What trouble can we get into? At least, how much trouble can we get into that allows Curls to sit with her sprained ankle up?

A Tisket a Tasket, What a Wonderful Basket!

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” ~ American Proverb

And that’s the truth!  When Barb and I went to St. Vincent de Paul’s Thrift Shop I found this fabulous basket for $10.  It is wonderful.  I needed a big basket for the fibers that I am collecting: one that the cat can’t sleep in and the dog can’t grab bits of fluff out of.  Took it outside and gave it a good scrubbing.  Good as new.  Lined the bottom with muslin and lavender sachets.  A steal!

Our purpose in going to the store was to find sweaters to recycle.  We look for sweaters which are mostly natural fibers.  This is the  $5 sweater that I found which is 63% Mohair Wool and 37% Acrylic.  It is a lovely shade of peach.  The sweater really has a lovely knit pattern.  Just not the right size and too hot for me.  When looking for a sweater to recycle, make sure you look at the seams.  It is important that the seams are joined by a chain stitch and NOT overlocked.  If the seams are overlocked that means that the yarn has been cut on each side and so if you unravel you’ll just have small bits of yarn.  If you’re not sure what overlock is, look at the inside of a purchased shirt, dress, etc see how the seam has been finished.  Color doesn’t really matter since you can always over-dye.

Curls found this 100% Silk sweater a steal for $5.  Another wonderful spring color.  Who knows, she might decide to over-dye, this really isn’t one of her colors.

At the Goodwill, I found this $7 sweater to recycle.  It is a rich shade of deep purple, my favorite color.  It is a blend of 55% silk, 33% nylon, 10% Angora Rabbit Hair and 2% Lambswool.  Beads and sequins covered the front, which I had to cut off.  Luckily, I was able to find the correct end of the chain stitch and pulled the string, it was like opening sugar bags! Notice how I unwind the rows directly onto my ball winder.  If you try this make sure you start unwinding from the last knit/purl row- usually opposite of the cuff or ribbing.  Mindlessly, I first started to unwind as the sweater was knit, from the ribbing end.  Took a bit to figure out why it wasn’t working. lol

Really, where else could we have purchased that much yarn that cheaply? Now all that’s left for us to do is to decide what to knit!  So many patterns, so little time.

To Dye or Not to Dye

Years ago I read an very funny article can’t remember the author, think it was Gene Sheppard, or what the entire article was about.  What I remember is the description of  a car the author had that was an awful shade of green.  He referred to the color as “goat-vomit-green”.  That’s how I feel about this yarn.  What was I thinking?  Try as I may, I could not get the digital camera to show the true ugliness of this yarn! I did make a yarn cake holder for my sister from the yarn  Now, I’ve decided to try some Kool-Aid on it.

I had a left-over mixture of Blue Ice Lemonade and Lemon- Lime so I tried that first.  It turned into a beautiful green color.  But, I decided it looks to much like a primary school color and that’s not what I’m after.

I decided a reddish color might just be the ticket.  I put a sample into Black Cherry.  The sample is such a beautiful dark red-orange color.  It is stunning.  This is the comparison:

Out came the nitty noddy and the ball was turned into a skein.  I love my home-made nitty noddy.  Made it from instructions found on the web at The Lost Pages.  I brought the measurements to the hardware store and had them make the cuts for me.  I spray painted it pink since I didn’t like the PVC pipe with the black writing on it. I made sure that I tied the skein in four places so the yarn won’t tangle.

Skein went into the Kookaburra Delicate soak for 20 minutes.  Since Kool-Aid already has citric acid added as the first ingredient, I didn’t add any vinegar to the soak or Kool-aid solution.  I know different people have mentioned they add salt to the mix. I didn’t since salt is the second ingredient in Kool-Aid. Go figure!

While the yarn soaks, I prepare the Kool-Aid mixture.  It is recommended to use 1 package of Kool-Aide for every ounce of yarn.  I have 2.5 ounces of yarn so I used three packages.  I added about 72 ounces of water. Using my handy-dandy, recycled, plastic, 48 oz, mixed nut container as a measuring cup.

After 20 minutes, I squeezed the excess water gently from the soaked yarn.  I don’t bother to rinse the yarn out.  The yarn goes into the Kool-Aid mixture which is the same temperature as the soak so there isn’t any temperature shock to felt the wool.  I push the wool into the dye bath so all parts are under.  Now, I turn the stove on to a medium heat – just enough to cause the bath to simmer. I keep checking until I see that the dye has been depleted.  You can see that the yarn has absorbed all of it.

This lot only took about 25 minutes.  Now I dump the yarn into a colander to drain. To cool the yarn down, I transfer the skein to this fabulous boot mat that I got for $2 at Target!  I have to go back for more.  I need some for planting my seedlings.  What you can’t see in the picture is that there is a slight variation in the way the dye was absorbed so the yarn has a great variation of colors. Now all I have to do is wait for the yarn to cool, gently rinse it, then soak in the Kookaburra Delicate, squeeze, and dry.  I’ll post the dried yarn later.

I’m going to stay home today and go out into the garden for awhile.  My flowers are screaming for attention!  Really have to get my flowers blooming.  My house’s totem butterfly, the Gulf Fritillary, hasn’t been around much thanks to the winter.  I had one last week and I’m sure it followed Barb home because she said it showed up at her place!!  We live about 40 miles apart.  I told her she’d better bring it back. This is the basket I keep by the back door and always take into the backyard. As a Girl Scout, I’m always prepared.  It contains: camera, butterfly book, bird book, sunglasses, a book to read, and binoculars.

“You’ll Not See Nothing Like the Mighty Quinn”

q8~Today’s spinning retreat was AWESOME!  To paraphrase the song, Cecelia Quinn proved to be a mighty teacher.  She’s a traveling teacher from Alaska and if you get a chance to take one of her classes just do it!  We learned a great new way to join so there wasn’t a clunky seam (as I usually get). Split open the bottom, put the new yarn in the middle perpendicularly, then bend the new yarn down.  Really looks good!  Spun with a wide assortment of fibers – even cashmere!  The visual demonstration of carded yarn vs. combed yarn was perfect for understanding how the two differ.  The main technique for spinning was the long draw.  I just started spinning a month ago and hadn’t gotten to the long draw yet.  Now to practice!  Why do instructors make it look so darn easy?

Of course there were all types of goodies to purchase!  After much deliberation, I selected  a 20% silk, 40% wool, 40% camel blend.  The yarn is from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks by Nancy Finn.  It’s so gorgeous!  Fingers are itching to start spinning. I think it will be the perfect yarn for Jojoland’s Berry Tam. All of the colors will segue beautifully.  On our Northwest fiber journey we saw a model of the hat at Yellow House Yarns.  What a wonderful shop!  Friendly, helpful, staff and wonderful yarns!  Got a few great ideas which we will be slowly sharing with you.

30% change of rain over the weekend here in San Diego, Ca.  If it is nice, as today was, I’m going to do some dyeing.  Barb works Saturday so I’ll have to have fun without her. I have some great undyed top screaming out to dye.  I’m thinking forest colors.  But, I do get in a rut and pick the same colors  – my “comfort” colors.  I’m trying to step outside of my comfort zone and pick a different pallet.  See the orange in the roving above?  That’s what I’m talking about.  Maybe something with these colors, Browns, Grey, rust, golden yellow, peach:

Using the dropper in Photoshop can help isolate a great pallet!

Ah, my special iris.  This is the great-whatever-grandchild of an iris my grandma planted in the 1940’s.  My mom took some rhizomes from grandma so we had this iris at every home we lived in as children.  When Barb and I grew up and had homes of our own we snagged rhizomes from mom.  This is a family heirloom.  We’ve told our kids that they have to keep the tradition alive!  This iris brings back so many memories every year when it blooms.  We live in San Diego so things bloom earlier here.