A fresh coat of paint

A few days ago on Twitter, I saw a tweet asking what’s one thing in your house that immediately puts a smile on your face, and in response, someone else tweeted: A hand painted piece of furniture.

I couldn’t agree more.

One of my favourite furniture pieces is a a wooden shelf from an old exhibition at the Museum – the exhibit came down, and I was lucky enough to be able to take it home, and a portion of my yarn stash lives there. I added a simple top with a piece of scrap wood, which I THINK was left over from my Grandpa, random wood left in a pile in my parent’s basement. After sitting in the same spot in my house for over five years, I wanted to give it a facelift.

It is such a simple but very functional piece. But I was ready for a change.

So all the yarn got dumped out…

And then I got painting.

The body is a simple black (although the drying paint makes it look grey), and I wanted the body to be a simple colour to let the yarn be the focus. I did, however, have fun with the top, painting it an oh-so-me teal.

When it was all said and done,

This just makes me smile every time I see it. A little bit of paint for a lot of happiness.

How Do You Organize Circulars

This seems to be a very common problem for which everyone has their own creative solutions: How to store circular needles.

After knitting for several years, it’s inevitable that one’s collection of tools will continue to grow.  A boon of needles purchased at a thrift shop for a dollar each is a big contributor to this problem… a good problem, but a problem nonetheless.

Until last week, my storage for circulars was an accordion file, intended for receipts.  It worked well, with each size having its own pouch to be filed away in, and the different cords held in place and organized with binder clips, labeled with their size. With all my new needles, however, my patience with this system was waning, because the file was practically bursting and the elastic holding it in place was under great strain.

There happened to be a very timely thread on Ravelry talking about different ways to store circular needles, and this was the inspiration I needed to change my storage.  So I headed to a dollar store, and I bought pouches:


These pouches fit inside a three ring binder, are clear, and are closed with a snap.  So, Thursday evening, I took my needles from the receipt folder and unceremoniously dumped them on the couch:


Now, each size (2mm-2.75mm; 3mm-3.75mm; 4-4.5mm, etc), have their own pouch, and the cords are still remaining orderly thanks to the binder clip.


I’m much happier with this storage system.  They are easier to access but just as organized and orderly.  I think the only change I will make is to the binder they are currently in; the 1 1/2″ just isn’t big enough for these needles.

This is just a glimpse into what works for me. How do you keep order for your circulars?

A Little Old Fashioned

I’ve made good progress on my  Captain America shawl.  I’ve been working away at it, row by row and bead by bead, all the while watching any Marvel movie available on Netflix.  I truly thought it would have taken far longer than it’s seeming to right now, but I’m happily watching the progress take place.

The yarn, as I explained last week was all hand dyed. The grey finished with steaks of mint green throughout, a result of the black I used for dye breaking, and after receiving encouraging comments from a Ravelry group, I decided to keep it as is.  The green isn’t bothering me nearly as much as I feared it would at first glance.

The most challenging part of the shawl has been the beading, as this is a new technique for me. Like with all new things, at first it felt like such a foreign motion, but after over 300 beads, muscle memory starts to form and progress got faster.  The beads are adding a lovely weight to the shawl, and I’m just excited to see it taking shape.  That I get to re-watch any Marvel movie I can get my hands on, well that’s just an added bonus.

Madewell was, well, Made Well

It’s finished.  After 11 months on my needles, of picking it up, putting it down for weeks, then the flurry of ribbing at the end, my Madewell Cardigan is finished.

And I love it.

My only really modification came right at the end.  The collar involved picking up over 300 stitches and ribbing for 28 rows. I was thrilled to ‘Bind off as established’ as called for the pattern but as soon as I tried it on, I wasn’t happy with it.  ‘If only I did a stretchy bind-off’ I thought.  Hoping it would block okay, I washed and blocked and crossed my fingers.  Tried it on after and still not happy.  So what do I do? Because I’m apparently insane, I took out the bind off edge, carefully putting the now live stitches back on my cable needle, and bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off.  This process must have taken about 3-4 hours, removing, putting live stitches back on, and re-casting off all with black fingering weight yarn, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’m SO much happier with the finished edging, and I love my new cardigan to bits.

Pattern: Madewell by Joji Locatelli
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Solids, black; the elbow patches were from bits and bobs of leftover Manos del Uruguay Alegría.

Experimenting with Yarn Dyeing

A few weeks ago, while enjoying the remaining days of my Christmas holidays, I spent an afternoon experimenting with yarn dyeing. I had about 95g of Berroco Ultra Alpaca in my stash – about half was white and half was grey. What would happen if I joined these balls and dyed the skein together?

Here is the yarn skeined:


I must admit, it looks super cool like this.

In order for the dye to adhere to the fibres, an acid needs to be used, because, science. A common acid to use with dyeing is vinegar, so in prepping my yarn, I added it to my slow cooker with 8 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar, and I let it sit in that solution for about an hour.


I decided to dye/overdye the yarn purple, and in the past have used Wilton food colours with great success.  I took 1/2 tsp food colour and mixed it with 2 cups boiled water. Mason jars worked great for colour prep.


See the blue on that paper towel? The purple Wilton makes must use blue to achieve its purple colour. I’m not trying to get a specific colour with this, I’m simply experimenting, so after the yarn soaked for an hour or so, I turned the slow cooker to low and added the dye.


I’ve only dyed a few times, and I’ve been amazed every time with the process of ‘exhausting the dye.’ This happens when the colour of the water, which at the beginning is a vivid shade, becomes clear, the fibres absorbing the dye that was in the water. You doubt it will happen, but inevitably, this happens:


Water on the spoon is clear. So cool.

After this dyeing experiment, my skein looks like this:


And this:


Seeing it caked, it gave me some pause as to what to make with it. It would make for a very dramatic gradient.  I could unravel and separate the two colours (using a Russian Join to connect them), and make something with the two smaller colours.  There are some lovely hats or cowls with colour work easing the transition between the dramatic colours.

Unhappy with the softness of the purple shade, I redyed it this weekend, using a dye that was such a deep purple, it was like Smoke On The Water was my soundtrack. Once again, I used the crockpot and I’m a lot happier with the final colour.

Having only tried home dyeing a few times now, each skein truly is an experiment for me. I’m still learning the tricks, playing with colours and their vibrancy, and admittedly having a LOT of fun each time while making a glorious mess in my kitchen.