Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Siren Call of Hand-Dyed Skeins

It's been so long since I've been in a actual yarn shop. Sigh. However, I still have a few hand-dyed skeins lurking in my (nowhere near depleted) stash. They're the equivalent of fast food or candy for knitters. You've probably been in this scenario. You're browsing in a yarn shop, not meaning to make a big purchase (because you have more than enough yarn already), and you're getting ready to leave, but then you see the wall of hand-dyed goodies. The colours! Your pulse beats a little faster, and you tell yourself it's only one skein. Then you buy a couple -- because it's not like buying a truckload of wool for a sweater. And only when you get home do you realize that there might be an bit of an issue (and I don't mean with the size of your stash).

The thing is, apart from tonally dyed yarns, hand-dyed yarns present a problem. In the skein, hanging innocently in the yarn shop, they look like this.

Ok, I'll admit I'm in an aqua/grape rut colourwise. That's not the problem. The difficulty is that when you spread out the skein, the colour splotches are localized in one or more spots, like this.

It's a result of the dye method which typically involves squirting or painting dye onto the skein while it's wound as shown above. When turned into a cake and knitted up into something like a sock, the colours will pool in ugly, undesirable ways. So what's a knitter to do? 

There are lots of suggestions online and in books for things to do with these gems, ranging from which projects work best to what stitches will blend the colour changes harmoniously. I'll let you do your own internet search. I have my own solution. Pembroke. The garter stitch, combined with the gradually lengthening rows result in an almost woven look. It's fun to knit and soothing. Some would say "numbing", but there are indeed times when you may want your brain to focus on something other than your hands.

Even with Pembroke, a tiny smidgen of pooling can occur,

but it's brief, and when the scarf is worn no one will notice. So satisfying.

As I write, the afternoon temp here is minus 17C (plus 1F). The house was creaking and popping last night. The car windows are frozen shut. Can anyone ever have enough scarves at this time of the year?

Friday, December 31, 2021

Pont Neuf

For the last week I've been working on Pont Neuf, a design by Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits. This feminine sweater originally came out in the now defunct Twist Collective magazine, the same publication in which my designs Brookline, Vinland, and Sandridge appeared. The fact that I'm familiar with the pattern format and editing style makes knitting this so much easier. Of course, I'm having to make changes to fit Isabel's petite figure, but so far it's been pretty smooth sailing. I'm in the midst of a pause today while the body is blocking. Isabel will be moving away from Kingston later this week, and I need to be sure the sizing is on track before she departs. (Yes, my mother anxiety is at fever pitch with a move at the height of the Omicron wave.)

Here's a closeup of the gorgeous lace.

Now I must go and put together a tourtiere for tonight's New Year's Eve dinner. Stay well.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Just in Time

At the request of knitters, I have re-activated "Stripes". This is a favourite pre-Xmas knit, perfect for gift giving. You can read its 10-year-old origin story here and here. The Ravelry link is here.

 Please respect the copyright even though the pattern is free.

Friday, December 17, 2021

An Oldie But Goodie

This afternoon I re-activated my Diamanda Mitts pattern. Why now? Well, as of yesterday we are the Omicron capital of Canada, perhaps North America. Yes, this has happened even though we had so few cases and deaths in the first three waves that we were featured in a PBS Newshour segment.

This is the view from the lineup at the Olympic Harbour Marina (1976 Olympic sailing venue) where I stood and waited for my booster jab. You can see the crane for hoisting boats in and out of the water.

 And the boats themselves...

Being on international waters, there are rules (in normal times) for entering Canada.

After all of that I feel a need for small, bright, cheerful knitting projects today, so here is the link to the mitts.

I wrote this pattern way back in my early days of designing patterns. I still love this "pink lemonade" colourway. I don't think this Ella Rae Classic is around anymore. Certainly not in Canada.

Happy knitting.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

At Last, the Uniform Cardigan

Back in late spring/early summer I started Madder's Uniform Cardigan in Ultra Alpaca's "Blueberry Mix". Note: this publication is no longer in print, but there's a version on Ravelry here. There's a reason I don't often knit other designers' patterns. I'm rather petite and these projects always require so much futzing that it's usually simpler just to do my own thing. But I liked the elegant simplicity of the design and forged ahead. Slowly. So much plain knitting. So boring. So much ripping out and re-knitting to get everything in just the right proportions. I did some things my own way, including the top-down pocket method and the circularly knitted sleeves, among other details. For ages the cardigan languished with the knitting done but the weaving in, button sewing, and blocking left to do. I got so tired of it taunting me that I stuffed it into a trunk and pretty much forgot about it. Until last week. On Friday, finding myself in the mood, I finally wove in the ends and chose some buttons.

Can you see the purpley-pink heather pocket linings? Visit this tutorial to see how they were done. For links to other techniques I used that differ from the pattern see this post.

Last night we had horrific wind, the tail end of the system that caused the devastating tornadoes south of the border. The house actually shook and we lost power for most of the night. When it came back on, our furnace/boiler didn't. Eventually, feeling cold and exhausted I went on the internet and looked for a solution -- hitting a reset switch. I'm feeling clever for solving this, considering that boilers seem vaguely terrifying. This morning I went out and picked up bits of branches that had come down, then came back indoors and took this pic of me (with very windblown hair) in my new cardigan.

Ta da!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Working Out the Kinks

When Isabel visited yesterday we browsed through a bunch of books and websites looking for inspiration for a new sweater for her (we found it). This morning I frogged about an hour of knitting on something that was making me grumpy every time I picked it up, and steamed the wool to get out the kinks. Here it is with the previously knitted part of the skein (still attached to the cake) waiting for my steam iron to do its magic.

All you need to do to un-kink is hover the iron over the wool, NEVER touching it or staying long enough in one place to scorch it. The wool is Kelbourne Woolens "Scout", a soft, gorgeous non-superwash dk wool. It might be my new go-to dk.

FYI, is it worth this extra un-kinking before re-knitting? Absolutely. One of the great things about aging is you actually have a lot of experience to lean on. Trust me on this.

Mostly, as I wait for snow and possibly freezing rain to arrive tonight, I've been working on a Merchant and Mills dress. This one, with this hack (the pleated skirt). It's not a quick sew, but this afternoon I've managed to complete most of the fully lined bodice. Feeling pleased with myself.

The main fabric is Brussels Washer, yarn dyed black, a blend of linen and rayon, and the lining is a remnant of some Essex linen/cotton left over from my Pants #1. 

And just in case you missed the slight modification I made to the sleeves on my new Wheatsheaves, here's a pic that shows the little garter stitch ridges at the top of the dropped sleeves.

Stay warm, stay safe, and keep on making!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

That Time

Time to haul out the woollies from the coat closet and sort out which ones need washing and repair. Yes, I should have done this in early summer, and bagged them away from moths, but somehow I didn't and here we are.

No moth damage, thank goodness, only a little wear on the elbows of my aqua Willingdon (my camera, as usual, is making this look grey). I did a quick and not very careful darning job (see below). It's on the underside of my arm and no one will notice that it's a little sloppy.

The leaves are sticking around strangely late this year.

Must get out and do some raking. If only the glow-in-the-dark ginko in the backyard would drop its leaves.

 Hmm, just as I wrote that, a huge wind blew up, so it looks as though I'm about to get my wish.