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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Water on the spoon is clear. So cool.

After this dyeing experiment, my skein looks like this:

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And this:

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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.

Changing habits and accepting the compliment

I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago, as one does, and this meme caught my eye:

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Naturally, it made me laugh because of how accurate it is. I don’t know about you, but this is certainly a habit I’m guilty of. I’m not comfortable merely accepting the compliment with a simple thank you, but I always feel like I have to follow it up with something.

Person: Wow, those are great socks!
Me: Thanks, the yarn is self patterning. It makes it look fancier than it actually is.

Person: Wow, I love that shawl.
Me: Thank you, the yarn is ___________. The colour is lovely.

Person: I really like that hat.
Me: Thanks, the pattern is ___________, you should check it out.

Person: What a great sweater.
Me: Thanks, but I messed up here and here, and I would have done ________ differently.

These are fairly standard responses I know I have given in the past. Why do we do this? A knitted object can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 months (or more) to complete. Time is spent choosing the yarn, knitting the object, and finishing it to the specifications. A knitting object is truly a labour of love, and yet I will constantly downplay the work that I have put into it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this habit.  It’s time to change my attitude and accept the compliment. After all, I made the thing. I’m inwardly proud of the thing. Time to accept the love of the thing.