Inspiration result, take one

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last week during our cold front I had a stroke of inspiration, unfortunately it wasn’t for the editing and writing I was trying to do at the time, it was knitting inspiration. Knowing that the only way to get the insistent drive to make this item to leave me was to actually make it, I found a similar pattern (because a pattern for exactly what I wanted wasn’t available) a suitable yarn and needles and I got started. I started them on Thursday and I finished on Tuesday morning. They were just what I had in mind. IMG_0014

Typing gloves. Gloves that cover the fingers almost to the tip. The fingers stop about where my fingernails start so that I have just the tips exposed to type with. I was thrilled. Until I tried to type with them. They are too thick to let me type well. They slow me to maybe 1/3 of my usual speed and they cut accuracy as well. These were made with fingering weight yarn on US 1.5 needles. I can think of many things they will be great for, but typing just won’t be one of them.

So, I have started a pair in lace weight on 00 needles (ribbing is one size smaller so ribbing is in 000 needles.) The fabric on the new ones should be light enough to keep from inhibiting my typing, while the wool they are made from should still keep my fingers toasty. The new pair will take longer to make. trust me. But if they turn out to be all I’m hoping for they’ll be worth it.

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I dug out my sewing stuff

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And found some plain fabric to make an apron out of. My grandmother used to use a single layer of fabric and biased tape for the edges to that she didn’t have to do all that pressing and hemming on curved surfaces (a royal pain in the butt.) I didn’t have any biased tape, but I had an excess of fabric so I just made mine two layers and turned and topstitched the whole thing. And then I added a pocket, Hubster says the pocket is in the wrong place but I disagree… I don’t plan on using the pocket for big things, but more for holding my  mp3 player or my phone, so it is on the top across the bodice of the apron.. it works for me. and it keeps my clothes clean… Goal accomplished.

While I was digging things out I also found a bunch of placemats all cut out and ready to be sewn. So I pulled those out and put them together too.. I now have a dozen new placemats for the kids…

I have decided

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that I am tired of wearing everything I cook. I make cookies, flour poofs up and I wear it all down my front. I make dinner and something splashes out of the pan, and all down my front.. I wash dishes and I splash dishwater out of the sink and all down my front (sensing a theme here?) I can’t begin to count how many shirts I have lost, to becoming hopelessly stained from being splashed by what I am cooking. The worst culprets are spaghetti sauce and oil. EVERY time I fry some thing, even if it is in a single tablespoon of oil, it pops up and leaves oil spots on my clothes.

I am sick of it. I need an apron. One like my grandmother used to wear. Thankfully she used to make her own, and it was a pretty simple pattern. I  think I can wing it, and make my own.. now to raid my fabric stash and dig out my sewing machine… I’ll let you know how things go.

Yarn dying experiment…

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ok, I have long since wanted to make gradient dye jobs, but I am too lazy to do as I have seen so many time and dye it in portions. So I thought about it.. What would happen if you wound the yarn into a cake and then dyed it? I can tell you.

First I admit I used a LOT of food coloring here, I like jewel tones, and I have learned that I need to use a lot of dye for that. I use Wiltons  cake decorating gels, the ones you get at Jo-anns or Michaels, in the cake section. I used an entire jar for this experiment.

First I wound off my yarn (100% wool, Jagerspun Heather, fingering weight, to be specific.) This yarn is destined to be leg warmers for the cool mornings here. Mainly around the house wear, so it didn’t really matter how badly the dye job came out. I did wind my yarn doubled, so that they will match mostly. Later I will rewind it into individual cakes.

I took the wound cake of yarn, and soaked it in a water and vinegar solution (I never bother to measure I just pour some in. I admit this was a pretty strong vinegar solution.) I set the cake into a pitcher and added the water and vinegar to it, when the cake floated I took a mason jar and half filled it with water and set it on top of the cake, after about half an hour I removed the jar and the cake stayed submerged. 

Next, I prepared my dye bath. Same quart jar I had used earlier, I dumped the food coloring into and more vinegar, this time about half a cup, and a couple cups of water, I used my whisk to stir well, dissolving the food coloring, I poured this into the bottom of my small (4qt) Crockpot I set the yarn cake into and rinsed the jar out with the water/vinegar mixture from the pitcher until it covered the yarn cake. I set the Crockpot on Keep warm, put the lid on and walked away fro several hours.

When I came back I removed the yarn cake carefully with a slotted spoon and set it into a bowl to cool, once it was cool to the touch, I mean room temperature. I put the cake into a colander and ran room temperature water over the cake, occasionally flipping it over to rinse the other end, until the water ran clear.  I shut off the water and set the colander over the now empty bowl and let it sit there for about an hour, dripping as much of the water off as it would give. Next I very carefully wrapped the cake up in a towel and added pressure to squeeze out as much of the water as possible while disturbing the construction of the cake as little as possible.   I carefully reshaped it (from the smashed oblong it had become back into a cake) and set it in front of my fan (yes I am still using fans here.)

This is what the exterior of the cake looked like this morning, just as it came out of the dye bath, but dry.

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It was a little more purple looking that the photo shows almost a grape color.  And then I rewound it, starting at the outside and working in, so that what is now  on the inside of the cake is one the outside (this was done mostly to dry it, but also cause I wanted to see it.)

This is the rewound cake.

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there are spots of the darker color all through it, but the closer you get to what was the core the more of the bright Caribbean blue that there is, I totally love it so far.. right now it is sitting in front of the fan again, but once it is dry I will separate the two strands and we will see how it knits up.

Oh.. and I have to share this one, just because I love the shot.

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you can see all the little hairs and the definition between the plies and the two strands that were held together in the winding.  Ahh.. the fiber, you can almost feel the yarn love.

Halloween

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We had a good Halloween. My kids told me some time ago that they wanted to be a witch , a black cat and a broom, the witch and the black cat were easy, generic costume for the witch, ears and tail kit with black sweats and a little bit of face paint for the cat, but a broom.. now that was kind of tricky. I thought about it some… I could have gone to the home improvement store and gotten  the round tubing that is used for pouring cement pylons, but that was expensive, and for what I had in mind, heavy.

In my garage, I still had the box for the hot water heater that we replaced when we moved in (we switched from gas to electric) so I went out and cut out two sides from it.. brought it in and worked the long sides so that it would curl. Wrapped it around the child who would be wearing it ,and cut it so there was only about 3 inches of overlap, not 12. Once I got that cut, I wrapped it around her again, and measured so that if the edge of the cardboard were to sit at her hips, so that she can still walk, where her face would be,  and cut a hole out for her face. after that I cut hole on either side for her arms to stick out, this also means that the weight of the cardboard rests on her shoulders.

Once all the holes were cut, I wrapped it around her again, and taped it, using clear packing tape, into the tube that would be the broom handle. and then we pulled it off over her head. Just before we went trick or treating last night I helped her put the handle back on, over her head and then I took a generic faux grass hula skirt and wrapped around the cardboard at about her waist, making sure that it didn’t quite drag the ground, so she could still walk. taping it in several places around her body. on top of the grass skirt I wrapped two circles of silver ribbon, so that it looked like the wires that generally bind that style of broom. After much discussion the kids had decided that they wanted her to be a Firebolt, like one of Harry Potter’s brooms so I took a magic marker and wrote Firebolt near the top. I think it turned out cute. It won’t win any design or construction contests but it lasted the evening and all the neighbors loved it.

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They were adorable, if I do say so myself.

Dear Michael’s and Joann’s stores

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I regularly browse through your yarn sections, and continually end up disappointed. I do appreciate the new trend towards natural fibers, I love that paton’s classic wool comes in fifty billion colors and between the two stores, you have them all. And Wool-ease is great for a lot of things, the warmth of wool, the washablity of acrylic… Beautiful!

But can we please, Please, PLEASE get some decent sock yarns? The quality of the yarns you carry now (with the exception of the Bernat Sock, who wants plastic socks?) is not a problem.. the color selection however leaves much to be desired. I have no desire to knit socks that are mottled with hot pink and baby shit yellow, and honestly, no one I know wants to wear them either. What colors would I like to see? Hmm… Solids. Tonal variations, like kettle dye. Stripes, in none clashing colors, are ok too. White.. Black..

I really want to be able to knit socks for members of my family who are not into the whole world has gone psychedelic thing. My 80 year old grandfather has no desire to wear hand knit socks that look like a hot pink and purple cat puked on them . My husband, who is only 35, has strict limitations… No ‘Foofy’ colors… this means he will wear black, blue and white. solid only, no stripes, no variegated.

Please realize that in some places (like my backwater, wannabe city)  you two mega mart stores are the only walk-in yarn source some of us have.  We are your customers, listen to us.

Knitting quandry…

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I have been working on a bag for the last week or so, it is supposed to be a carrying case for a netbook. I wanted a sleeve style, but a knitted one, and I decided I would do what is called Button hole handles.

I knew I wanted the bag felted, because felted has more strength, and less stretch/flexibility, plus, the process of felting makes the fabric more dense and pads the computer better. I did a couple swatches… and decided I liked the thicker fabric that a seed stitch makes better than the one a stockinette makes. So I started my bag. After working the bottom, and several inches up the side of the bag, I noticed that the seed stitch spirals around the bag, and my marker, marking the corner of the base, and the beginning of each round, was migrating around the side of the bag. Which made the handle placement a little more difficult.. So I asked around on Ravelry about if this is normal, how will it effect the handles when I felt it?

I was told that the spiraling is a charicteristic of seed. and to just follow the corner of the bag up and place my handles from there… So I did.. I made the bag, and when I cast off all my stitches, the handles were centered and lined up. I put the bag in the washer, set on hot to felt it. It felted beautfully, until I went to block it to dry it. I fussed, I fiddled, I pulled. This was the best line up of pictures I could get. Now I have to figure out what I need to do to fix this. I am thinking I will cut one side of each handle and sew up the extra on the other side. I am hoping this works.

And in the future, for bags, that I want to do in seed, and have buttonhole handles for? I will be knitting the bag solid, felting and then just cutting the frigging handles into it.

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