Sample time

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks on August 2nd, 2014

This shows why I don’t knit light coloured socks. It might be different if I washed them all by hand but I bundle them all together and stick them on a wool wash, reds, greens, blues and blacks. I manage to separate the lights and darks in the main wash but all the wool goes in together. This pair was originally knitted with undyed yarn but over time they’ve become even more off white and are leaning now towards on-grey. This one has been living in bedsock corner, not so much because of the colour change but because the other half of the pair is in hiding. When I’m fishing around for a sock in the dark the colour is unimportant, as long as it warms my foot it’s fine. Even single grubby looking socks can have a function, this one came out of the bedroom for a star part in a dyeing experiment.

I kept the spots on the sole so that if the other sock magically appears I can still wear them as a pair. Providing that I keep my shoes on no-one will know that one sock has a dotty sole. I wanted to see whether I could dye spots after knitting without the dye running into blotches or penetrating across to the other side of the tube. I could have knitted a sample tube to practise on but it was quicker to use a sock that was already made. The dots stayed round and red, didn’t run, bleed or wash out so this was a success from the start. I know that if I’d gone straight to the real thing I would have had a pink splodgy mess, the time to sample is when there is a high price to pay for failure. My learning points in a nutshell are that if you stick a plastic bag down your sock you prevent bleed through and that if you thicken dye it doesn’t run.

These were released to feet on the Friday before the Tour finished on the Sunday. I dyed enough yarn for another pair because I was expecting a request from Woolforbrains junior as soon as he saw them. That’s not happened yet because the socks were worn and put in the washing basket while junior was away on his course. It’s possible that it might be a few more weeks before he sees them and I might even evade the new-sock detector altogether. If I can manage it I’d like to keep the other ball until next year’s Tour but I think my chances of that are slim. This is my standard 72 stitch sock with King of the mountain polka dots added after knitting.

 This is my current major time suck. The Wensleydale is all washed now and I’ve started to comb it. There was a learning curve with the washing and the combing, the first batch of each wasn’t all that good. Funnily enough once I’d cracked the washing the combing magically improved too. I’m planning to end up with a sweater or two from this and I had initially thought that the Wensleydale might be too harsh around the neck. That’s not all that big a problem, it just needs a neckline that isn’t too close fitting. I’m reconsidering that now seeing as the yarn is obviously not itchy at all. I know this because I stuck the spun sample down my bra to test for itch and surprised myself when it fell on the floor at bedtime.



Purple suit wrap up

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, sewing, socks, Weaving on April 22nd, 2014

The worst part of the whole business was pressing the jacket – it was such an educational experience that I started looking for local tailors in the Yellow Pages because I would have happily paid someone to do it for me. I watched a professional do it on Youtube and then set to with a tailor’s ham and a sleeve board. It would have been more straightforward if I had a wider ironing board, I got on much better once I’d put a chair behind it to stop the jacket making a break for freedom. Tacking it all together was a good thing to have done, it would have been even better had I run a line of stitching around the cuffs and hems of the jacket because I had to rediscover the edge of those. It would benefit from better pressing and I will show it the iron again once I’ve forgotten what a performance I made of it the first time. Badly pressed or not, it’s a lovely colour.

The buttons were also educational, my new word for this week is “ligne”. That’s how buttons are traditionally measured and the ones I took off the jacket were 24 ligne on the cuffs and 32 ligne on the body (also known as 15mm and 20mm). In keeping with the theme of cheap and cheerful I bought a mixed bag of ten of each size on Ebay for £4 including postage so the jacket has cost £15, a teaspoon of dye, two tablespoons of citric acid and lots of hot water. He’s pleased with it and more surprisingly (because my standards are much higher) so am I. It’s very evenly coloured and I made a much better job of dyeing it than I thought I would.

I released another pair of school socks into the wild last week. As usual they didn’t hang around long enough to be photographed, this morning I tracked them down to the laundry basket. Of course I would prefer to be showing a shot of a pair of clean socks but at least they are currently still a pair so I’ll work with what I have. The knock on from knitting the longer cuff and starting the colour before I’d finished the gusset decreases was that I ran out of the patterned yarn before I started the toe. Fortunately I still had some bright yarn that I hadn’t out away yet and that lasted to the toe with about a yard left over. That means that I’ve used up two small balls of yarn rather than one so it’s a win.

This is all that I have left from the fabric that started life in this post. At some point I’ll use up all the scraps in a patchwork something, at the moment I’m sticking them all in a bag. I’m not sticking them in this bag of course, that’s the one I’ve just made. With this I started with the fabric that I had leftover, I couldn’t work back from the bag that I thought I wanted because I didn’t have enough fabric to have any choice as to size. It might not have helped me much because I’m no good at visualising sizes, I can wave my hands around as much as I like but I still can’t what the finished thing will look like until I have it in my hands. It’s a perfectly proportioned spindle bag with room for at least four ounces of fibre but I’d rather be making sock project bags. Now that I have one in front of me I can see what I need to change to get the sock bag that I want. I can see that future bags want to be a bit deeper and wider but not as long with a narrower handle and no interfacing in the lining. I knew the lining didn’t want to be stiff but no, I had to follow the tutorial. Bag two will be a variation on a theme and hopefully next time I’ll get the zip in to my satisfaction.

 



Quick change

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family on April 16th, 2014

Patience is a virtue they say so I will refrain from gnashing my teeth and ranting about the delivery performance of a large internet bookseller. I am poised on the edge of a deep, deep rabbit hole and the one thing that is stopping me from flinging myself into the depths of a new obsession is that I’m waiting for my book on tailoring. I have the idea, the pattern, the fabric samples, a book on pattern fitting, a sheet for the muslin and a waiting husband. What I don’t have is the book on tailoring that I ordered on March 27th. “Delivery in 9-12 days” my eye.

I left the jacket pattern where it was seen by other passing males and things quickly escalated from “you could make one of those for me if you like” to specifying the number of buttons and the colour. I’m reluctant to make things for my son firstly because he’s still growing but mostly because he has absolutely no idea of how much work is involved. I’ve been calling in at the local charity shop in the hope of picking up a suitable sports jacket that I could alter to fit him and this week I struck lucky. I found a lightweight wool suit that I thought would be about the right size, when I got it home it fitted perfectly. The pockets still had the threads where they’d been sewn up when new, there was no wear at the hem where it would have rubbed on shoes and it had the look of something that had been worn twice. The downside was that on one of those occasions someone had sat in crumbs of chocolate and it was the wrong colour (his preference being for purple or lime green). I ignored the dry clean only label and washed the trousers on the wool wash to see if I could wash it without it shrinking because I was hoping to dye it in the machine. The trousers were a 30″ inside leg when they went in the washer and a 30″ leg when they came out so I was confident enough to wash the jacket too. I tacked through all the layers before I did that so that it would come out the same shape as it went in. The chocolate stains came out after a fashion, there were still some faint marks on the back but you’d need to be me to find them.

I had hoped to throw the lot in the washer with a dye designed for use in washing machines but all the machine dyes say that they must not be used with wool. Having already ignored “dry clean only” I would have ignored this too but I watched my machine wash on the wool cycle and I suspect that it wouldn’t have worked well. There’s very little water in the drum and it’s a short programme so I don’t think that there would be enough time for the dye to take or enough water for it to colour evenly. I don’t have a big enough pan for the suit to go on the hob so that was out, to get an even colour it would need to swim in lots of water. Patchy yarn is appealing when knitted but I can’t see a patchy jacket being as desirable. At this point I was stuck and then I remembered the solar dyeing I did for the first pair of stealth socks that I made. After seven years and countless wash cycles that yarn is still orange and yet it didn’t get much in the way of heat. Sitting in a jam jar in the greenhouse worked as well as simmering in a pan on a gas ring so maybe I could get away with using hot water rather than a heat source?

This is where I feel there should be a flashing sign like the ones on the television “Caution, these stunts are performed by professionals under controlled conditions. Do not attempt anything you see here at home” except that I’m not a professional and I was attempting it at home. Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? The suit cost all of £10 and if I learned something and got some nice felt out of the process it would have been cheap entertainment. I dye a lot of wool so unlike tailoring I’m not reaching for the stars from a zero skill base. I knew that the lining and stitching would probably stay grey as they were not going to be silk or wool but I could live with that.

I bought a sixty litre storage tub rather than a barrel because the spare bedroom looks like the wardrobes have exploded so I have an immediate use for another storage box. (Next week’s job – tidy wool room) There was a chance that it might leak so I stood it outside near the drain so that I could empty it easily when I was done. I took the buttons off so the fabric under them would dye evenly, soaked the suit in warm water and then gradually added water firstly from the hot tap and then from the kettle so that it came up to being bath water hot without a sudden temperature change. Many of the dyes you can buy for wool have the dye and the acid combined. That’s not what I wanted for this. As soon as you have heat, dye and acid the dye will start to bond with the fibre and what I wanted was for the suit to become evenly saturated with the dye stock before it started to strike. I added the dye when the tub was about half full and then after I thought the suit was thoroughly soaked in the dye stock and I’d turned it several times I started to add the citric acid solution. After that I just l left it to cool, moving the clothes about every ten minutes or so. The magenta didn’t exhaust (does it ever?) so then it was back in the washer on the wool wash.

The result is evenly coloured, it’s still suit shaped because of the tacking and the added bonus is that the zip on the fly and both of the linings took the dye as well. The stains on the back have vanished altogether and the inside leg measurement is still 30″ so there was no shrinkeage. I forgot to take the buttons off the trousers as my focus was solely on the jacket so I know now that it’s not worth trying to dye the buttons. I will be consulting over button selection, I need eight small ones and three big ones so there’s a chance that it will double the cost of the jacket. I don’t expect him to ever wear the trousers and I doubt he’ll wear the jacket more than twice but then I will have proved beyond doubt that he’s not a jacket wearer without the effort of making him a jacket or the expense of buying one.

I am beyond pleased with the results and would certainly attempt this again although I would not be saying this if I’d done the dyeing inside because the storage box did leak. I’ve looked on Ebay and light coloured wool jackets are cheap and plentiful so if he does wear it there’s a good chance that I might do this again some time in the future. I think I struck lucky with this in that it’s a very light weight wool, I think that a thicker fabric would be harder to dye evenly and it would certainly take more drying.

There will be modelled shots once it’s dry/I’ve pressed it/it’s got buttons.

 

 



More of the same

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on April 10th, 2014

I didn’t fill all my bobbins before I started to ply, I knew I wouldn’t because I can never wait to see the yarn but as it was the weather provided me with a convenient excuse to start plying. The forecast was for a warm sunny day with a bit of a breeze which promised to be ideal wool drying weather and it seemed a shame to not take full advantage of it. I had six bobbins of single at that point which gave me two big skeins and lots left over. I’m aiming to spin a bobbin a day so I’ll be plying again at the weekend. I thought I’d be looking at twelve bobbins full and that looks about right because two bags of wool filled six bobbins with a bit left over. I’m still not sure whether I’ll have enough yardage for a sweater, it will be close and I may have to consider stripes as a necessity design element.

The warm breezy weather made me get on with dyeing the yarn previously known as Rogue. There’s a strand of the original colour on the bottom left, you can see that it’s still grey but darker than it was. I was aiming for more of a brown/grey but the brown dye that I put in seems to have vanished without trace. It’s reasonably even in colour, three of the skeins are a little darker than the majority and two are a little lighter so providing that I alternate knitting from two balls at a time and keep the dark and light away from each other it should work out well enough. I know that it doesn’t look terribly exciting yarn but I’m thinking of knitting something with cables and I don’t want an interesting yarn that’s going to fight with a pattern. In this case plain, even and boring will do me just fine.

No, I am not recycling pictures, if you look closer you will see that this one has the buttons actually sewn on rather than being artfully posed on top of the knitting. I had hoped to be showing you a finished Sirdal, earlier today I thought that this was totally reasonable seeing as I thought I had only had two buttons to sew on. Then there were the two buttons on the cuffs, a cuff facing to sew up, a bit more sewing on the cuffs, some ends to weave in so even without adding blocking to the list it’s never going to be finished today. I’ve got all the buttonholes done despite me not liking the front bands at at all. They are double thickness ribbing like the collar and that may work perfectly well on a bigger garment but I think it’s just too bulky on a garment this size. Ribbing makes a thick fabric anyway and there are four layers there underneath the buttons. If I were to make this again I’d be tempted to make a band and facing combo rather like that on the top of the sleeve with the bands single thickness and backed with ribbon. It’s too late to be fussing with it now, I’m finished with it and thinking about what comes next.

I like to look back through the archives and see what I was doing in this month in previous years. Last spring was all about yeast and bread and my mission to ditch the floppy white sliced loaf much loved by the junior household member. I succeeded with that, over the year I’ve settled to a pattern of baking brown loaves, white breadcakes (baps, rolls or alternate regional word of choice) and sesame topped bagels. It’s plain, even and boring bread and like the plain,even and boring yarn it means that it’s easy to use. The croissants, brioche and chocolate products all fell by the wayside because it’s much easier to bake bread and add chocolate hazelnut and cocoa spread to it if I’m feeling indulgent. I have a drawer in the freezer that just holds frozen bread products, we don’t run out and they are as good as fresh if you microwave them for a few seconds. They come out the same every week because when I finished experimenting with weight of dough, percentage hydration and oven temperature I wrote down what I did so now all I have to do is follow the pattern. There’s a novelty, me following a pattern.

 



It works for me

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, Spinning on March 5th, 2014

Baby Sirdal has been rescued from the bag of abandonment. I’ve finished the first sleeve and started the second although I’m not yet at the point where I can see that I’ve successfully reversed the cuff. I know from mittens, gloves and studying organic chemistry that I have terrible issues with chirality mirrored items but because I know that I can’t see the difference I don’t often get it wrong. I take a lot of care to check that what I think I see is really what is there. In a few rows time there will be much poking and several second opinions and then I’ll leave it overnight and check it again. I know that it shouldn’t need much thinking about, I just need to do what the pattern tells me to do but that assumes that I managed to do that on the first sleeve.

I’ve got as far as setting the wheel up, I put it away for Christmas and never got it back out. I know, it’s shocking, what is the world coming to? In my defence I would like to point out that I’ve not been well. I found the samples I made when I knitted Celtic Dreams back at the end of 2010 (18 stitches, 24 rows per inch) which should serve as a staring point for the yarn for Yoho (16 stitches, 20 rows per inch). I know that some spinners have elaborate systems for storing samples and have purpose made books or cards with attached yarn and ratio notes. I have a system that works for me and it obviously does work seeing as I found the relevant samples in under a minute. My tried and tested system is that I stick things in a bag that lurks near the wheel. I have the unwashed single, the washed plied yarn and the knitted sample. Hopefully I should be able to get the yarn I need on the first attempt.

It’s still sock knitting season here although I am starting to be bored with round and round knitting which is why the last pairs have had patterns. This pair will be going away for birthday/Christmas presents and by the time they reappear I may have forgotten that the toes don’t quite match. The yarn originally had a pink and white section that was right on the very edge of being husband-acceptable but you can’t see that in the finished sock (at least not after its encounter with navy dye). Ordinarily I would have dyed the yarn before knitting it but I had no other knitting so I didn’t want to wait for it to dry. I also wanted the leftovers to be pink and that’s not going to happen if you start with navy. The easiest thing to do was to knit the socks, dye them navy and then dye the leftover yarn pink. I can recommend dyeing the socks rather than the yarn because not only does it avoid having to wait for the yarn to dry, it also avoids the work of turning a ball of yarn into a 420 yard skein to then wind the 420 yards back into a ball. The only skeining and winding that I needed to do was that of the leftovers and that was only a quarter of the work. For anyone wondering why I bought the yarn if I didn’t like the colour – I buy most of my sock yarn very cheaply in Ravelry destashes and the colour is immaterial because I know that I can change it.



Redefining leftovers

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, Spinning on October 20th, 2013

It’s not been a week where I’ve flown along but I did accomplish a few things. The striped baby jacket is finished including buttons. When I’ve made this before I’ve used sock scraps for the contrast colours and although it’s not hard to make the two sides match it does need a bit of effort. The sleeves were hard work last time, even putting the yarn for the second sleeve in a bag marked “sleeve” wasn’t enough to make it plain sailing and so I seized the opportunity to do something differently this time. I can rationalise with the best of them and I managed to convince myself that it made no difference to the order in which I knitted them providing that I ended up with a pair of socks and a baby jacket out of a ball of sock yarn. It didn’t really matter whether the jacket used leftovers from the socks or the socks used the leftovers from the jacket. This idea came to me because I was looking at a ball of sock yarn that was the same colour as the scraps that I’d dyed, that they matched should be no surprise given that they came out of the same dye bath. The result is that the body of the jacket uses overdyed sock yarn leftovers but the sleeves are knitted from a full ball of sock yarn.

When I finished the jacket I had just under 70g of the sock yarn left, not quite enough for a pair of socks but that didn’t matter because I had some of the other colours left from the jacket. These socks have the cuff and heel flap knitted from the true leftovers from the jacket and that was enough for the main yarn to see me to the toe. You’ll notice that the blue stripe isn’t prominent in the sleeves of the jacket, that’s because there wasn’t a stripe in the yarn then. I originally thought I’d add stripes as a way of making the 70g of yarn stretch to the toe, then I thought about all the ends that would generate and decided instead to make the cuff, flap (and toe if necessary) from other yarns. I still liked the idea of stripes though so I added a wide stripe of navy to the yarn.

I do still spin, last week I spun up a bag of merino/angora that I found as part of my tidying up, there are no photos of that because it’s gone away. It looks just like every other skein of white yarn you’ve ever seen so you didn’t miss a deal by me not taking its photo. I looked out a bag of coloured Shetland and a bag of coloured Corriedale and carded several sets of colour changing wool. When spun end to end you end up with a monochromatic gradient yarn, I’ve spun it many times before so I know exactly what it will come out like but it’s still fun to watch the colours gradually change as I spin and ply. It was so much fun that I might make another (and another).

My big plans for the loom were sidelined, I wound the warp and then read the directions for using the sectional beam. I need a metal rod and that didn’t come with the rakes so the warp is in a bag waiting for two foot of something that’s rigid but thin enough to pass through the eyes on the rakes. Thinking about it, there might be a work around – I see some research in my future.

I’m down to one knitting project now, the ugly duckling baby jacket. Glowering at it doesn’t seem to be getting it finished so it does look like I have to pick up the needles to get it done. If I don’t start anything else then there’s more chance of that happening.



Zipper win, button fail

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on September 24th, 2013

I’m always in love with the most recent thing I’ve made, right up until the moment when I make something else. This is my favourite bag design, for today at least. Like the last zipped bag I made, it all went together very well so perhaps zips aren’t as difficult as I thought they were. That’s one explanation, the other is that I got lucky twice. These will be for sale when I’ve made a few more and am less attached to the first ones. They are a good size for a sock in progress, I know this because I put my current socks in there to check and the handle is just long enough to put over your shoulder if you’re loaded down with other bags. I thought the raspberry and orange fabric was perfect for the lining, I had to cut the bag to fit the lining as there was so little of it. There is now even less of it and it is officially a “scrap”.

I’ve been doing a bit of spinning and dyeing too, all in the name of tidying up. I’ve been working my way through the bags that have been littering the spare bedroom floor and I came across one that held an oddment of orange and white superwash bfl fibre. It had been sidelined because I didn’t like the colour but things look different when spun so I tidied it by spinning it. It still didn’t grab me (neither did the sock yarn that’s sitting with it) so it had a hot bath in some dye and now I like it much better. The bag on the bedroom floor is now a ball of yarn in the drawer – tidy.

The cardigan is sidelined for the moment. It is finished but the buttons I bought for it weren’t right. That’s the second set I’ve bought that were just all wrong once I got them home so I’ve given up on it and handed it over to my mother. She’s the one that will be wearing it after all and she has access to different shops so hopefully will be able to find an acceptable set of buttons. It’s the right time of year for wool now, the geese are flying and it’s turning cool so I had no trouble finding some knitting to replace it. I’m into the foot of two socks and I trawled through the bag of leftover sock yarn for something to make into a baby jacket. It’s a bit bland and I wish now that I’d thrown some of these yarns in the dye bath too but that would have meant waiting for them to dry and I needed knitting NOW. I have another two bags of scraps set aside so in the absence of a must knit pattern drifting across my view it looks like I have a period of scrap reduction knitting ahead.



Grey, black, brown, white

Posted by caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on January 14th, 2013

This is the result of my first plying session. I took a shortcut with sampling because I found the piece of cardboard with a length of single wrapped around it that I used when I made the yarn for my Celtic Dreams sweater. I made a length of four ply yarn first which is what I thought I wanted seeing as that’s what I used last time but it didn’t speak to me at all and I preferred the three ply version. I didn’t knit the four ply because I knew it was going nowhere but I knitted the three ply to see if it looked like a sweater. It was slightly underplied but even so it looked respectable on a 4mm needle. The bottom of the piece was on a 4.5mm needle and it wasn’t bad for a first guess but it wasn’t right. You are probably thinking that this is a very small swatch to be basing a sweater on and you’d be right but this isn’t the swatch that determines the tension for the sweater, this is the swatch that tells me whether I’m making the right sort of yarn. The next swatch will be bigger. It may be sleeved shaped but it will be bigger.

I did fill six bobbins before I started plying although some were more full than others because I was pretty keen to see the yarn. The last two suffered from my impatience and were rather skimpy and perhaps not entirely full by any reasonable definition. I ended up with two skeins of about 220 yards apiece from about four bobbins of single. There’s a lot of “about” in there but seeing as I don’t know what yardage I want for a sweater I have no pattern for then I can’t see the point in knowing exactly how much I have. My rough guess is that I’ll need a bit under 1200 yards so I know that I have about a third of what I need so I’m not anywhere near the magical point of “enough”. If I fill these six bobbins again and ply everything then I should get another three similar skeins which will take me to the 1,000 yard mark and that’s close enough to be starting with.

I’m planning on having a contrast edging so that’s what I’ll need for the cast on row. Again I have no idea how much I will need but it won’t be a lot so although I bought 100g of the lovely dark wool I’ve only spun 30g of it. This is wool from Wingham Woolwork, its from a flock bred from NZ Halfbred and Romney and comes in two grades and four colours. This is the black which is the normal sheep black known to the rest of the world as brown. It’s been tested on merino boy and deemed to be “not scratchy” so that’s a win. I’d quite like it to be really black but the only fibre I’ve had that was truly black would be too harsh or alpaca so that’s out. My reasoning behind the contrast edge is that if he grows out of the sleeves first then it will be easy to take out the original contrast edge and knit down. The reality is that there will be little to no chance of me keeping any of the original yarn so I’m planning ahead to avoid having to match the original grey. If I need to work the contrast in a different dark shade it won’t matter, I’ll take out the edging on the sleeves and the body, add some length to the sleeves, reknit the body trim and call it good. If the new contrast doesn’t match the old yarn at the neckline it’s far enough away for it not to be too noticeable. It might seem overkill to be planning on extending the life of a sweater that I haven’t started yet but young males who are nearly 13 grow like weeds in the night.

I didn’t finish the socks, I started something else instead. This is the cashmere that I spun before Christmas now dyed in Crunchie colours and on its way to being a Honey cowl. I know that some knitters have fallen down the rabbit hole with this pattern and made one after another but I’m pretty sure that this one is my last. I know that I get three rows of fabric for every four that I knit because of the slip stitch rows but it doesn’t feel like a four to three ratio. It feels more like a two to one. Either I’ve slowed down a lot over Christmas or there’s something mindbending going on here. In some alternate reality I must be turning out piles of these because I find it hard to believe that I can knit for so long to produce so little. When it’s finished (if it ever is) it will be going straight into the gift heap to replace the cowl that was a music teacher gift in 2012.

I had to complain about the lack of daylight didn’t I? My preventative measures of snow tyres and my stockpile of frozen milk, dried yeast and bread flour might be enough to stop a single flake from falling providing I could keep my mouth shut. No, I had to whinge about the lack of light. When those grey clouds have finished unloading snow and the sun comes out (tomorrow, according to the forecast) then it should be very bright indeed.



She’s making a list and writing it twice

Posted by caroline in Bohusish, Dyeing, Knitting, socks on December 12th, 2012

I’ve been busy with seasonal activities – wrestling with wrapping paper and too-sticky tape and answering the door to a flock of delivery drivers (the best effort so far has been four in a morning). It’s the time of year when I find it hard to take my husband seriously, if he stands in the doorway from the kitchen and I sit in my usual spot he ends up wearing the antlers from the Rudolph mobile. Whatever he’s saying to me is lost as I giggle. I’ve had the seasonal nightmare, the one where I’m standing with a trolley (fully clothed – it’s not THAT nightmare) in a supermarket buying the Christmas groceries but I have no list. What did I want? Cream? Erm, sprouts? How about jelly? My subconscious thinks it’s time for a shopping list and she’s right. The final one will be a wonder of organisation, sorted by department and written in the order that I walk round the shop. I thought about that and it seemed particularly overplanned even by my standards until I realised that it’s a throwback to an earlier time. I’d forgotten that at one time all my weekly shopping lists were written like that because it was a byproduct of shopping with a preschool reader, he had the skills but not the common sense that comes with experience. If he was ticking things off the list then the shopping had to go in the trolley in the order in which it was written. If I’d written “butter, sugar, eggs, milk” then we couldn’t get the milk while we walked past it to get the butter because we needed the sugar and eggs first. He wasn’t the only fast learner, I soon worked out that it was quicker to rewrite the list than to argue my way around the shop whilst zig zagging about and visiting the same spot multiple times.

Where was I before I went off for a trip down Memory Lane? Ah yes, wool. One of the delivery drivers bought me more angora/merino so I was able to make the fifth orange/red for my hat (or somebody’s hat). The first four shades were carefully dyed one after the other in the same pan with the same two colours of dye but this last one was dyed with a different range of dyes. I thought about waiting until I could use the same dyes but that would have added five days into the process so I settled for any old orange. I’m not sure if I like it, it’s wet in the photo so will dry a little lighter but it is maybe a bit too bright. I’m already planning the next big thing so the hat is already on its way to being history. It’s knitting not surgery, no-one dies if you get it wrong and good enough will do.

Another delivery driver bought me a bag of aromatic wool, I’m so glad it was double bagged because this one was left with my neighbour (I think I managed to collect it before it got warm so I might have got away with not being noticeably weird).  It’s not the best time of year for scouring fleece because I can’t put it outside to get it dry but this was a new breed to tick off my list so I bought it while I saw it. The overnight cold soak was a bit of a problem because there was a hard frost and I started out this morning by having to thaw the two bucket shaped lumps of fleeceberg. I suspect that this wasn’t the most effective soaking process ever but judging by the colour of the water it did some good. I have learned that putting the bucket right up against the wall of the house isn’t enough protection to stop it from freezing solid. I have also learned that down fleece is not always short and crimpy, the Oxford Down is a big sheep and online resources say that it produces the heaviest fleece of the down breeds with long staple light-shrinking wool. Different online resources also say that it has the short and crimpy staple typical of a down breed but what’s in my sink says otherwise.

I had a brief cycle of knit-rip where two hats and a Christmas stocking had a short existence before returning to wool. I had nothing to knit so took refuge in the bag of sock scraps because making something out of nothing always feels so good. I’ve got two small balls of yarn just for the first sock and two larger centre pull balls which I thought would knit both socks. When I started I assumed that there was plenty of the two larger yarns but now I’m not at all sure. I’m not certain enough to knit the first sock to the toe before starting the second, I’ll get them both to the heel and then see if I need to introduce a fifth ball before the others start running out.

There’s a full week left of school before I vanish so I’ll be back with progress on the wool, socks and hat although I might skip the report on tidying up the spare bedroom, cleaning the oven and the other stuff on the list that demonstrates whether I’ve been naughty or nice.

 



Knock on

Posted by caroline in Bohusish, Dyeing, hats, Knitting on December 7th, 2012

Before I started dyeing the angora blend yarns I looked at the chart in the book and worked out how many rows were knitted with each colour. There are fifteen colours in the chart and I calculated the percentage of each I’d need, used that percentage to split up the yarn and then dyed it. What could possibly go wrong?

I knew it was going to be difficult to tell all of the yarns apart, especially the greens as they were all so close in colour so I labelled them all before I started knitting. The staple is close enough to the yarn for the label to stay put, it’s not going to slip off accidentally.  I wrote down the name I’d given them when I wrote out my dye plan and the colour number that corresponded to on the chart. That was the stage when I realised that I’d dyed a colour too many, it was a bit obvious when I had a ball left over. What I’d failed to consider was that one of the colours in the chart was the body colour for the hat, that didn’t need dyeing at all because it was already in the big ball of camel silk. I thought that this might run me into problems later, the knock on from dyeing one ball of brown too many is that all of the other colours are slightly smaller than they could have been. As I had no way of knowing whether I’d have enough of any colour anyway I decided not to worry about it until I had to.

The hat is the Wild Apple, you can see the start of the apples just appearing on the needles. I’ve knitted the second of the reds, the balls were small to start with and I was convinced that this meant that there wouldn’t be enough for the second round of apples. My scales say that there’s enough of the darker yarn and as the lighter yarn doesn’t appear again there’s the fallback of overdyeing it and using it if I need to. The more pressing problem is that I have two more red/oranges in the bag and three left in the chart. My page of dye calculations confirms that I haven’t lost one, I never dyed it at all. I think this is the follow on from my dyeing the background colour again – I counted the right number of colours but I was a brown too many and an orange short. It’s not the end of the world, the orange I didn’t dye is at the end of the colour range so I don’t have to slot it in between two existing colours but just make it more yellow than the existing orange. The real stumbling block is that I dyed all the yarn I spun and I have no more angora blend to make more.

Why did I not notice this earlier? The chart I’m working from is in false colour, the only true colour shot in the book is a photo of a sweater and it’s too small to be of any use in replicating the colours. Ravelry came to the rescue, there are several stash photos of the skeins in the kit all laid out and they were what I was referring to when I was dyeing. I saw a burgundy-red, a red, an orange-red and an orange in the photo and that’s what I dyed. Once I realised I was a skein short of a hat I went back to the two photos I’d been looking at and even now that I’m really looking at them I can still only see four orange/reds rather than five.

I am checking my tension several times a day so I’m happy that it’s still coming to the size that I wanted and I’ve decided that when and if I run out of a colour I’ll substitute one of the others. When I’m knitting this in the evening all the greens look the same as do most of the blues, even in daylight the differences in colour are very subtle. I have four rounds of knitting before I’m stuck, the last fibre I ordered took a week to get here and so even though these rounds involve knitting with three colours I think it’s safe to say that the hat is going to be sidelined for a while. It looks like it will be back to socks again tonight.