A Scrappy Update

What to do with those leftover bits. We all have them in our stash: those remnants from pairs of socks or shawls that didn’t need the whole skein. I’ll be honest, for my Type A (plus plus) personality, these little balls of yarn, not big enough to make anything with, drive me a little crazy.

One way to use them up is my Sock Yarn Memory Blanket.  I started it in May 2016, and now it’s 25 squares big – not large at all considering how big I’d like for it to eventually be.

As of today, this is what it looks like:

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With the exception of two, every skein of fingering weight yarn from a completed project will be on this blanket. If you were to take a look at my WIPs and stash, I’ll be able to add many more squares. Because I’m a bit crazy detail-oriented, I’ve also started a journal for this project, and in it I’m adding the yarn tag with a snip of the yarn, noting where I bought it and what project I made with it.

Slowly but surely, this blanket is growing, and part of the excitement when finishing a new pair of socks or a shawl is not just the FO, but being able to add to the blanket.

Don’t discount those bits and bobs from skein remnants, because you never know when they might just come in handy. My latest shawl is a perfect example of this.

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The MC is a newly purchased skein of Sweetgeorgia, and the CC is left over Madelinetosh that I first used for a pair of Erica Leuder Socks.  A simple asymmetrical garter stitch shawl, but the contrast makes quite a statement.  For those keeping score at home, the pattern is Graphic Kerchief by Ce Persiano, with some modifications.

Summer always leads to a sporadic posting schedule, but I already know I’ll be offline next week. When I return, I’ll hopefully have completed projects, new WIPs, and new yarn to show off.

Happy knitting!

Get off my needles, or the tale of the never ending shawl

I’ve hit that moment of a project. You know the one, that moment where you’ve been working on a project for what feels like forever, you think you’re getting close to casting off, but the project just keeps going and going.

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Meet my Pendant Purls Shawl (the yarn: Shelridge Yarns Soft Touch Ultra Solid in Peacock colourway). I started it on New Year’s Day, and I’ve worked on it sporadically since then.  The first few rows went rather quickly, then I hit Chart A: 32 of rows of lace work, knitting and purling through the back loops, and different increases and decreases. It could only hold my attention for a few rows at a time, but then a few weeks ago, I got determined and have been working diligently away, finishing Chart A last week. Chart B was a series of knit and purl stitches over 8 rows, and they flew by in a few afternoons. Chart C, four rows repeated, and the end was in sight, or so I thought. The shawl is shaped through short rows, and these short rows are the four rows repeated a total of 10 times, increasing after every chart repeat; so it the nature of short rows. I felt so close to the finish by the time I started Chart C, but it just keeps going.

I’m stubborn and determined. This shawl will be finished before the end of the week. That is if the short rows don’t get the better of me.

Stay tuned…

 

Home-Dyed Yarn

Apparently, making things with sticks and string isn’t enough for me as I’ve had the urge for quite some time try home-dyeing.

In Fall 2015, a friend and I went to a dyeing workshop, and under the guidance and supervision of a local indie dyer, we used various chemical-based dyes to create our own hand-dyed yarn.  Here’s the post I wrote about this fun experience, and here are the yarns I dyed:

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My finished yarn.

Dyeing‘ to try this again (do you see what I did there), I took to the interwebs to read how I could do this at home. I didn’t want to delve into using the chemicals, so I looked into food-based methods. Kool-Aid powder was a common method, however, they’ve stopped selling the powder in Canada. What I did have an abundance of is Wilton Icing Colours.  I’ve been cake decorating as a hobby for years and my stash of gel icing colour is quite full. And it works quite well for dyeing yarn.

As my base yarn, I used Lions Brand Sock Ease. It’s was easily available at a big box craft store and rather affordable – a huge plus for this new experiment!

I’ve been eyeing Kate Atherley’s Bigger on the Inside Shawl as my next shawl project, but I haven’t found the right yarn. This is how I chose my dyeing colour – TARDIS blue.  The icing colour I used was Wilton’s Royal Blue.

I followed the instructions as posted by Creative Green Living for dyeing yarn in a slow cooker. I soaked my yarn in vinegar and water, the acidity in the vinegar helps the dye bond with the fibre.  I mixed the colour with water, preparing the dye base. I wish I could tell you exactly how much I used, but i just kept adding the colour until it looked like the right shade.  I didn’t need it to be precise; I just needed it to be TARDIS blue.  Yarn and dye base were placed in the slow cooker and cranked on high until the dye became exhausted – this happens when the yarn absorbs all dye, and the liquid that remains behind is clear.  Cool your yarn, rinse your yarn, dry your yarn.

After a few hours in the crock pot, here is my finished yarn:

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It isn’t a solid colour, instead it’s rather tonal, but I like it.  As well, the colour ‘broke’ in a few places. What does that mean? Some icing dyes are made with different colours to achieve their hue. Royal Blue, for instance, is comprised of both blue and red colours. When the colours ‘break,’ it means that one has separated out.  There are more serious instances of colour breaking, but here’s what it looks like on my skein:

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That pinkish splotch is where the colour broke. With this yarn, I wasn’t aiming for perfection, I was aiming for TARDIS blue. I’m beyond thrilled with my yarn.

As for home dyeing? I am hooked. Completely hooked. It was so much fun playing with colour, preparing the yarn, and watching something that is white become something brilliant. In my mind, I’m already planning out other skeins I can dye, different colour combinations, and am just generally excited by the potential of it all.

A Sontag by Any Other Name

When historic patterns are on Raverly’s Hot Right Now page, my day is made. This happened last week when the Ladies’ Knitted Hug-Me-Tight, or Zouave Jacket made it to page 1 on Hot Right Now. As any good history nerd would do, I followed the link and started reading the book where it was originally published, made available online at archive.org.  The book was The Art of Knitting published in 1892 by the Butterick Publishing Company.

From my quick flip through, it appears to be a fascinating publication.  The first part is what we might call a Stitch Dictionary, with many interesting lace work and other stitch patterns to follow.  The chapters that follow look at different articles of knitwear, tips on how to work them, and patterns that one could make, provided that knitter is fluent in patterns from the 19th century.

My quick flipping was interrupted in the Useful Articles for Children’s Wear chapter as one pattern provided was for a Child’s Chest Protector.  Here’s the image accompanying the pattern:

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Child’s Chest Protector, The Art of Knitting, p. 112; accessed from archive.org

Why did this pattern catch my eye? Because it looks awfully similar to Godey’s Sontag, a pattern I’ve made so many times now I can basically knit it in my sleep.

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Originally from Godey’s; image from http://katedaviesdesigns.com/2013/06/28/sontag/

 

 

The ‘Child’s Chest Protector’ has incorporated the garter ridge into the actual design and pattern notes, rather than with Godey’s where the border (garter ridge or otherwise) was added after the main piece was completed.

The pattern reads:

To begin the protector – Cast on 30 stitches and knit back and forth plain until there are 7 rows

To make the first row of blocks – after finishing the first row, turn and knit as follows: knit 10, purl 5, knit 5, purl 5, knit 5 (in knitting the rows, 5 stitches must be knit plain at each site of every row, in order to firm the boder seen in the engraving). Turn

Knit 10, p 5, k5, p5, k5. Turn

K 10, p 5, k 5, p 5, k 5. Turn

Knit back and forth in this order until there are 6 rows, each formed by knitting across and back. This completed the first set of blocks.

To begin the second set of blocks – (These blocks must alternate with those of the first set). Knit 5, then widen by knitting a stitch out of the next stitch, but to not slip it off the needle; then purl out of this same stitch and slip it off; purl 4, k 5, p 5, k 5, now purl 1 out of the next stitch, but do not slip it off the needle, to widen, and then knit 5. Turn.

K 7, but do not slip off the last stitch; p 5, k 5, p 5, k 7 but do not slip the last stitch off the needle; p 1, k 5. Turn.

Complete this set of blocks after this manner, widening as described at each side between the blocks and border. Then make a set of blocks to correspond with the first set, widening as in the second set, and so on until the widest part of the protector is reached.

To make the Tabs – when the neck edge is reached (in the protector illustrated) pass all the stitches of the border at one side and those of 6 blocks onto another needle; then bind off the stitches of 4 blocks for the neck-edge. Now continue the knitting after the manner directed, to form the tab at one side, making the plain border at each side of the tab and narrowing at the outer border instead of widening as before. Complete for the other tab to correspond.

For the outer Edge – Use Angora wool and crochet shells along the border as follows: 1 single crochet and 2 doubles all in the same space, selecting the spaces so that the shells will be perfectly flat. Fasten ties of ribbon at the sides as seen in the engraving, to tie the protector about the waist.

 

There are slight differences to the patterns – Godey’s has an increase of one stitch every row while Art of Knitting increases 2 stitches every other row; as well, once you reach the arms, or ‘tabs,’ Godey’s has you decreasing on the inner edge while Art of Knitting decreases on the outer edge.  These slight changes aside, following either pattern will result in a garment which will keep your torso warm while your arms are free to move about as you want.

If 100 year old patterns are your thing, or if you’re simply interested in an old read, I’d recommend checking out The Art of Knitting, available to view online.

Time to Knit

Last week, we had a long weekend up here in Canada, and I enjoyed three days out of the office.  Despite our very soggy spring here in southern Ontario, those three days were bright and sun-filled.  My days off were blissfully spent on my back deck, reading and of course knitting.

Between life, work, and other commitments, I haven’t had much time to dedicate to sitting and knitting.  When I finally make it home after those long days, I find I’m zoning out on the couch in front of the TV. The act of picking up needles somehow seems like too much hard work, and I’d rather zone out and be inactive than passively knitting. However, spending those hours outside over the Canada Day weekend, enjoying the sun and nothingness really made me realize how much I missed having dedicated knitting time. I went back to work on the Wednesday and missed being able to pick up yarn and create.  Socks were worked on, rows on my Madewell cardigan were knit, and I improvised a bowl cozy for my mum. I was able to set knitting goals and (gasp) attain them!

The moral of this blog post – I need a vacation, or a knit-cation.