December 15, 2017

The Dye Pot

What?!  How can I possibly talk with you about dyeing yarn when I've been dye petrified since the beginning of wool time?

Some time ago, I made the Awakening Cowl by my friend Amy Lamash..  The colors I chose to make it in required some red yarn of which I had none.  So the ladies of the VKN convinced me (for darn near 30 minutes) to just grab three yards of yarn and some red dye and do it.  So I did.  It turned out that I did not die from heavy metal poisoning, the jar with the dye did not explode and spray all over the house and I ultimately ended up with enough red yarn to make the cowl. I was so pleased with myself, but the recovery period was very long.

After watching many videos of "real" dyers plying their trade, which is all still a mystery to me, I decided that it just couldn't be that hard - or dangerous - to dye yarn.  So I found some very old stash of white yarn, in this case it was Knit Picks Peruvian Highland fingering, not superwash, which is the same thing as Palette yarn.

It's a 2-ply yarn, very loosely plied and I'm sure it's about 10 years old.  Since I had no plans to use it for any knit projects, I decided that it would be safe to dye it, and if the jar exploded and I ended up dyeing my whole house, well, so be it.

I did what all the videos said to do and buh-bang!  I got dyed yarn:

Nobody died, the yarn was not what I expected, and I didn't want it anyway - so I won all the way around.  I gave that skein away to the first person to send me their address and it's long gone now.  But what I got was courage.

I found another partial skein of Knit Picks Chroma worsted and dyed it also.  It looks just like the first skein, but with a lot  more yellow.  I was not pleased with the color, but the process  turned the lights on in my head about what I wanted and how to get it.

Then I found some white Aslan Trends 100% alpaca that had been stained by black yarn.  I thought it was just ruined and it ended up at the bottom of the stash bin.  But with my new found courage, I dug it out.

I ended up dyeing it with light blue, then I sprinkled some navy blue and some green on it, put it in the pot and crossed my fingers:

 When I pulled it out of the pot, I was (again) not impressed with the colors:

Until it dried, and then I was in absolute heaven:

I wish I had used more green, but there are speckles and blue and turquoise and it just tickled me pink!  I'm going to make something with this skein, oh yes I am!  Don't know what yet, but it'll come to me.

Now with my new found courage, I'm going to have some yarn dyeing misadventures/experiments.  My inner 'mad scientist' has awakened.  I have since purchased natural dyes, in addition to the acid dyes I already have, and I'm soaking some black walnut husks right now.  You know, go big or go home, right?

Next post will be about knitting.  Until then, happy knitting and dyeing to you!

May 29, 2017

May - how is it almost over?

One weekend of babysitting my 18 month old nephew, 6 doctor appointments with mom, and nursing one mother of a bad cold.  I spent most of this month driving mom around, sleeping off the babysitting gig, or recovering from the worst cold I ever had - ever!  But things are coming back to normal, and you should be happy that you can't hear me hack while I type this.

I did get some crafting done, though.  So let's talk about the crochet items on my ta-done list.

Two Virus Shawls, and I would make more right now, except I want to get in on the Summer Stripe Along CAL so I have to slow my roll, just a bit.

Since the weather around these parts isn't exactly cooperating, I had to bribe my son and his girlfriend to pose for the pictures.  They weren't happy with the conditions, but I offered my son's girlfriend a pair of socks (her choice) and I offered my son my love.  They agreed, and their cooperation was appreciated, but it took dozens of pictures to find the ones that were blogworthy.

The first Virus Shawl was made with Creatively Dyed Steele, no colorway, but it's browns with a trim of Verdant Gryphon Aidos in blue:

Sky is a little taller than I am  , so the shawl is shorter on her than it is on me, but I think it's just right.  The browns show up much better on a cloudy day outside, and it's not particularly soft, but it is pretty and a really fast project.

The second shawl was made with acrylic, which seems to be a trend at my house.  This second Virus Shawl was made so that I could write the instructions down for one of the ladies in my knit group.  Problem is, I got halfway with writing down the instructions and finished the shawl before I finished writing the instructions!  Yikes!

This shawl is HUGE and heavy and shiny!  In fact, it's more like a blanket, and I am sure I know someone who can use this shawl as a decorative carriage blanket, although I'm not going to vouch for how warm it keeps the baby.  The yarn is unknown, maybe Bernat, and the white is older than Central Park dirt, and it's probably Wintuk.  I made this shawl that big because I needed that yarn out of my stash. Truly, I did.

The next thing I crocheted was a baby blanket.  My cousin and his wife were blessed with a baby girl on Mother's Day, so I made them a blanket using all 8 skeins of  Bernat Sparkle (which may or may not be discontinued) in the color peach.  More acrylic out of my stash.  Yay!

I didn't use a pattern, just found a simple shell pattern and did it over and over until the yarn was gone.

Then I did some knitting with wool, and the first thing off my needles is the Make It Better socks.  Have you ever had one of those days when everything you tried to knit just didn't work out?  I fell into a knitting slump and nothing appealed to me.  So one of the regulars of the vkn suggested I make something up, so I did.  Thanks Simona!  I made them with Knit Picks in the chickodee colorway:

I haven't written up the pattern because I'm a lazy slacker, but when I do, the vkn ladies have agreed to be my test knitters.  Thank you in advance ladies of the vkn!

I made the same socks in acrylic - just so the pattern would show better.  I used Bernat Baby in blue for those:

I love the design!  Not to brag on myself, but they are lovely with a little bit of lace eyelets.  I only wish someone would write the pattern down for me.  It would sure make me much happier to only have to concentrate on the design.

The very last thing I knit was the Zig and Zag cowl.  I made it with my handspun from Greenwood Fiberworks in the fruit punch colorway (100% merino) and Aslan Trends alpaca in black:

If I had known how soft and wonderful this cowl was going to turn out, I never would have promised it to someone else!  Oh my gosh.  And Jason looks totally adorable wearing it, but he says there's too much pink in it, As it turns out he wants a cowl like that in a solid color, no design.  I can do that - but not this time of  year because nothing is going to come between me and my spinning.  Maybe I'll start one for him in August.

So that's it for the knitting and crocheting.  I'm going to start on the stripey CAL while still contributing to the Biggest Loser Stash Reduction KAL.  I feel a Drachenfels shawl coming on and I already have my colors picked out.

And don't forget, the Tour de France starts July 1 and so does the Tour de Fleece!  Get your fiber ready and join me and the gang over at the Moms With Yarn Ravelry group.  I have a sneaking suspicion that there are prizes to be had.

So ciao for now folks.  I'll be back as soon as I get rid of this darned cold!

April 15, 2017

One In, Two Out

How do you know when your socks are at the end of their life?  Does it hurt your feelings to have to do away with them?

My socks have four stages of life, depending on how they look to others and to me.  Phase I, is where I find myself taking my shoes off to show them off.  Not just because I made them, but because I think they should make a public appearance and I look for any reason to show them off (or no reason at all).  Phase II is when the colors change from their original color, you can no longer distinguish the pattern from the rest of the sock and, while they may be cute, the memory of what they once were makes me now wear them with sneakers instead of shoes.  Phase III, well, the socks are faded, felted, and no longer look like they did when I made them and even I'm not impressed by them.  They get washed, put in a drawer and become 'house socks'.  Phase IV is a hole which is instant death.

Remember when I made these Nordic Lights socks by Janel Laidman from her book The Eclectic Sole?  At the time, they were the best stranded knit socks I'd ever made and I adored them, but that was then.

This is now, almost 8 years later (which is a very long life for socks):

These poor socks, while still in good shape, no longer fit ne and have reached Phase II, they got fuzzy and have shrunk in a most unnatural way (or my feet grew, which is unlikely).  Since I'm the only one who washes and wears them, for the life of me I can't figure out what happened.  They are in such a state that they cannot be unraveled, and cannot be worn by me.  So, I have to give them up.

I found another pair of socks that somehow met with misadventure.  Way back when, I made my first pair of Socks on a Plane by Laura Linneman, they were wonderful and functional and the yarn was divine.

This is what happened to them:

Could have been the cat, or the washing machine, or maybe even a dastardly moth and her lousy babies.  Who knows, but it hurt my feelings.  Only one sock was destroyed, and I have unraveled it (I'll get to the other later):

I already washed the unraveled yarn and hung it to dry, and I've already replaced my Socks on a Plane with these and new yarn.   Now that its Springtime, it's time to reassess my sock inventory, and I'm sure there are others that deserve a good garbage can send off.

In the old days, when my socks got a hole, I'd just throw the pair out and bought a new skein of yarn.  Now that I am on the verge of retirement and money may be an issue, it seems awfully wasteful to throw out otherwise good yarn, so I'm getting into the habit of recycling and reusing what I can.

While mourning the loss of two good pairs of socks, I decided that knitting another pair of socks will make it all better.  However, my mourning must have addled the part of my brain that knits socks because I every pair I started didn't make me happy.  I just couldn't find a pattern that made me happy, and every attempt to make socks failed, even plain socks. 

I decided that I needed to work with some yarn that was happy and I chose Knit Picks Felici in the chickadee colorway then designed a pair.

These are the 'make it all better' pair that I started yesterday, so it's going quick.  Now that my sock knitting mojo is back I am not feeling so bad about having to chuck socks that took some of my awesome yarn, lots of knitting hours, and  about 10,000 stitches to make.

This makes pair #7 for the year of twelves. I'm way ahead of my self-proclaimed schedule, am happy to be getting a new pair of socks out of the deal, stashing down, recycling good yarn, and I'm making space in my sock drawer.  I call that a pocket full of wins.

Until next time ... happy crafting.

March 29, 2017

One Sock to Rule Them All

If I had my way, I'd knit socks all day and half the night every single day of my life from now on. 

However, since I have to do other things, like shop for food if I want to eat, do laundry if I want to wear clean clothes or potentially step out my front door, and face it, I have to take my newly knit socks somewhere so someone will see them and think I'm the brightest thing since sunshine.

My latest sock knitting is the Jewel Fair Isle Socks by Tina Whitmore - again.  If you read my last post, you well know all about the first pair (#5 for the year) which were a fail because I ran out of yarn and I wasn't thrilled with the second sock.  At a minimum, they lacked the fraternal twin kind of matchy-ness that I can deal with, and I wanted that sock pattern knit up and in my sock drawer!

Ultimately, I found some Cascade Heritage Sock in black, and some Black Trillium Fibres Merilon Sock in the Jack Dempsey colorway and went to work:

While I was knitting up this pair of socks, I had that feeling come over me.  That feeling that says these are the ones I will wear - the keepers.  With every row and every pattern repeat I fell more in love with them:

This pattern is written top down, but I knit them toe up with a fore-thought heel using waste yarn (compared to an after-thought heel where you snip a stitch).  Toe up socks are not necessarily my thing, this is fourth or fifth time I've made them in my life.  

My main issue is that I have rather large calves and Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off is still snug on me.  So I did what most people do and found another bind off on YouTube that works for women with mountain climbing legs.  Very Pink Knits has a simple stretchy bind off that works for me and there's puh-lenty of room on my cuffs.  Thank goodness!  So now these socks really are perfect.

This pair makes sock pair #6 of 12 for the year of twelves.  If I finish early, I can start on my Buttonside Sweater which I hope to wear to Rhinebeck this year.

The Mitten Garland Advent Calendar mittens are coming along.  I made mitten #2:

And mitten #3 which I'm not happy with since the "3" doesn't look like a three at all:

I will keep going with the mittens, all of them are different sizes even though I'm using the same size needles, US #0.   I don't care, they all have their own little personalities, regardless of size, and they're a great palate cleanser for me.  They're all made with Knit Picks Palette yarn.  I don't know when I'll start mitten #4, hopefully soon.

Finally, I'm spinning braid #5 which is Frabjous Fibers merino in the chocolate cherries colorway:

The package said it was 8 ounces, but I weighed it and it's only 6 ounces.  I generally don't get along with merino, it fights back on the wheel and it takes me 30 minutes of spinning to get my stride.  Oy!

With half the braid spun up today, I have only 2 days to finish this yarn in order to enter it into the monthly tally for the 2017 Biggest Loser Stash Reduction Challenge.  That means I have to finish spinning the other half of the braid, ply it, wash it and weigh it by Friday.  Guess what I'll be doing all day tomorrow?

So now I'm off to find my next sock pattern.  I'm taking suggestions if you know of any patterns that require 2 colors, and thank you in advance.

Thank you for stopping by and happy knitting!


March 15, 2017

A Mitten to the Rescue

If you've been crafting for a while, you've probably been where I am now - stuck.  My knitting came to a dead stop because of something so trivial, I hate to even bring it up.  However, since I brought it up, I may as well fill you in.

While putting my books in piles on the floor of the craft room, I came across a binder full of printed patterns  (I've had them since the 80s) that I planned to knit.  The one pattern I chose to start with were the Jewel Socks. The pattern is written for top-down, but when I read ahead, I came to these dreaded words 'break the yarn'.  Why would I want to break the yarn?  The pattern also calls for the use of several colors which means a lot of weaving in of ends which I. ain't. doing. Sorry, not sorry.

I tried the top down method, even broke the yarn, got frustrated by the heel construction and ripped the sock back.  I don't like to get 'aggie' (which means aggravated in the local vernacular) over something I know how to do and do regularly.

What ended up happening is that I knit the socks with Cascade Heritage sock in navy and some leftover yarn from a Gale's Art single sock blank in the Extreme 80 colorway, knit it toe up with an afterthought heel, and got this:

I adore this sock!  I used most of the sock blank on the one sock before I realized there was no way to squeeze a second sock out of it.  (Note to self: next time I use scraps to knit a sock, take the yarn out of the project bag to see how much got used).  My heart broke!  Here's a close up of the one lovely sock:

At a loss for what to do, I went to Instagram and asked knitters for advice and counsel, and the general consensus was to make a second sock with different yarn and learn love the difference.  So I found some leftover Expression Fiber Arts yarn in the Unicorn colorway and made the second sock:

Oy!  I am not happy.  Worse yet, I am frozen, can't go forward, can't go back.  I don't want this pair of socks, probably won't wear them and I don't know if I want to knit this pattern again because I don't want to be disappointed again.  What to do, what to do?!

I needed a moment, a palate cleanser and time to have a good think.   Is it in me to rock these socks?  Ummmm ... time to take a break.

So I found some skeins of Palette yarn from Knit Picks:

I have lots of it, 50 balls or more (likely more), and because it felts whether washed by hand or machine, it can only be something that doesn't go in a shoe.  What I found was the Mitten Garland Advent Calendar and decided that I had brain space to work on at least one mitten:

Yes, it's fair isle and fiddly;  I didn't even bother to capture the yarn in some cases, but its cute and it put some distance between me and those socks.  When it was done, a light bulb went on and I found this yarn in my stash:

Another ball of leftover Cascade Heritage sock yarn in black and Black Trillium Fibers in the Jack Dempsey colorway.

Now all I have to do is figure out where to put the other socks while I knit the socks that I will wear.

Thank you, mitten!

February 24, 2017

Loss of Grams

In January I celebrated yet another birthday.  Mercifully, no one gave me yarn.  However, as I get older and slower, I realize that I have to do something about my stash before I son sells it all off for $1 per skein so he can make a mortgage payment after I kick the bucket. 

See, here's the thing.  Getting older is a privilege,  a joy because there's lots of knitting and spinning to look forward to, and other than social security and a retirement home in the country (suburbs) I can't get much happier than that.  Being 'fake retired'  (real retirement doesn't happen until July), I've been purging my house of all the things I don't want to spend the rest of my life with.  Some of it went to the trash bin, three bags full of clothes no one wants, but managed to make it's way to the laundry every week, ended up in the donation bin, and some of it given away to friends who want it more than me.  None of it was yarn or fiber.

Having cleared out a closet of  the stuff I don't want and making room for stuff I do want brought me face-to-face with my stash.  My wonderful, adorable, sweet smelling and beautiful stash.  There might be two or five skein in there that I don't love, but the rest of it is near and dear to my heart.  Still, there is too much of it and love like that is demanding, consuming and has psychic weight - something must be done about it, so I'm committed to knitting it down.

Now, if you've ever gone stash diving looking for a particular skein and the same scraps keep popping up, well, that's a sign that it needs to get knit up.  Such was the case when I found these:

I know the top skein is Jojoland Melody, the other two are mystery white sock yarn.  None of these big scrap balls are enough to make a pair of socks on their own, so I mixed them up and came up with the Flower Patch Fair Isle Socks.  It's a paid for pattern on Ravelry, and if you look at the original pattern, you'll know that these socks are busy as heck, so I toned them down a bit.

I eliminated the picot cuff, the corrugated rib, the drive-me-crazy heel turn pattern and I added stripes where there were none.  Yay me.  That makes sock pair number three for the year, and I only used (most of) the Jojoland Melody and all of one skein of white.  Maybe the second skein will stay in the bin once I stuff it back in there.

Right now I'm working with some Regia Pairfect in denim, pair number four.  It's a skein of yarn that claims to give you two perfectly matching socks as long as you follow the instructions on the inside of the label.  Well, I read the label and this is what I got:

Not so matchy-matchy, eh? I'm gonna love them anyway.  The pattern is Socks on a Plane, but knit top down since I'm not so good at toe up sock knitting.  These are replacement socks since the old pair had some sort of run in with something that totally destroyed one sock - and I'm pretty sure it wasn't the washing machine.  I'm not naming names, but ... (Miss Kitty)

Regia is a sturdy yarn, hard wearing and will look just as good a year from now no matter how much I wash them, and more likely to be covered with Miss Kitty's hair than pills.

A few months ago, I pulled out twelve braids of fiber to be spun.  They have to go because they are eight years old, at least, and every time I open the fiber cabinet door something falls out.  Who is more blessed than me to have such a hoard? I refuse to get a bigger cabinet so these braids that fall out have got to be dealt with.

So, I took some Abstract Fiber in the hopworks colorway, 100% BFL which is my favorite fiber to spin. This is braid number four of 12 and it spun up like a dream:

I ended up with 151 yards of this lovely Navajo plied yarn in a worsted weight:

And because I was so in love with it, I made the Bankhead hat with it:

Sure, there was yarn leftover, but not enough to do anything with and I can live with that.

So now I'm going downstairs to spin the Frabjous Fiber on my wheel that is the colors of Valentine's Day, and after that I'll finish my sock. 

I bid you adieu for now.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram as BronxKnitter, and on Ravelry as BronxKnitter1.  You can also find me on YouTube.  Until we meet again.

Happy knitting to you.

February 12, 2017

Twelve Months Of Twelves

Happy 2017 everyone!

I know it's been a long, long, long time since I last posted a blog.  It almost seems like a lifetime ago.  The thing is, since I started the vlog/podcast on YouTube, it almost seems redundant to do the blog, but I think the blog might fill in for the long gaps between recording.  And I know some folks would rather read than watch - and truth be told, I kind of like reading blogs too.

This is also a good place to 'park' my knitting, and a much better place to for me keep track of it.  So, if you will forgive my absence I'll just get on with it.

This year I have decided that it would be a good idea to buckle down on the stash down.  I have too much yarn and fiber to store in one place (my craft room) without stubbing a toe or breaking my neck!  Clearly, I had a problem called 'having' which means I wanted 'it' - not to knit or spin, just to have.  Which is the exact same thing as hoarding.

Without throwing my hands up in the air and just selling everything or giving it away, I'm going to attempt to refrain from buying (except at festivals), and I'm going to knit and spin until everything fits in the tiny little room I have for craft storage.

My first objective is to knit 12 pairs of socks, and so far I've knit two pair in January:

Vanilla Latte Socks by Virginia Rose-Jeans for my son.  I used Miss Babs Babette 2-ply yummy in the Into the Void colorway:

He never used to ask for socks, and now he doesn't stop asking.  The problem is, the very day after I give them to him, he loses one.  I am aware that socks get lost, but not after one day.  I'm going to have to rethink is knitworthiness.

The next pair was a pair for his girlfriend.  She saw me wearing my Cup of Tea socks by Robin Lynn and she wanted a pair for herself.  I used White Birch Fiber Arts sock yarn in the Crime Scene Barbie colorway:

This makes the second pair of socks I've made for her.  She has both of her socks.  Which makes me think that she's more knitworthy than my son.

I'm also dedicating myself to spinning up my fiber.  Not all of it, mind you.  Just the ones that fell out of the fiber cabinet when I opened the door, and the ones that prevented me from closing the door.

Twelve braids will have to be spun, some of it has to be dyed, some of it will have to be washed.  Oy!
I have made a dent, though, and for that I am grateful.

Skein one was a braid from Into the Whirled called Mithrandir:

I tried to spin up a worsted weight and this is darn close.  A bunch of greens that look like collards, kale, iceberg lettuce and what all!  This will make a lovely hat that's not too busy since the yarn seems to be screaming colors.

Skeins 2 & 3 were a two-fer.  I spun a Loop bump called overcast, and a braid of Sunset Fibers (she's on Facebook only) that looked like this before the spin:

And looked like this after the spin:

This turned out to be more than 500 yards of a 2-ply fingering weight yarn.  I could have dressed it up better for the photo, but I was so excited with the yardage that I hurried things along. This is going to make a great contrast color for the hap baby blanket I'm going to make - one day.

I would have linked back to my project page, but Ravelry is down or technology truly finds me offensive and will thwart my every attempt to be a good blogger.  All of the projects here can be found on my Ravelry project page (BronxKnitter1).

It doesn't help that I'm a little rusty at blogging.  Missing details, no mention of what I'm working on now, no links to the KALs I'm participating in - the list goes on - but my toes are wet and that is what matters.

And if this post pops up because you're still subscribed after a 2-year hiatus - thank you.  I'm going to sign off on this post and update my blog page details.  I'm no longer Sharon V on Ravelry.  I'm also on Instagram (as BronxKnitter) and I have to figure out how to add all this stuff to the page.  It's going to be a long day.

Until next time, my best to you.