Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cabled Skirt

I promised I would post a picture of the cabled skirt when it was done.  Here you go.  This was taken during our Thursday night Knit & Crochet group.  Special thanks go out to Charles - you are a dear, and we love to pick on you.  Thank you!

Psst!  That's my friend Kim behind me.  Hi Kim!

A Kool Way to Dye

I did it!  I dyed yarn for the first time, and I love it!  I'm really very excited (in case you couldn't tell).  It was relatively simple, and the results are beautiful.  I've had a lot of emails already asking about my process, so to make life simple, I'll post the details here.  My pictures do not show the colors quite as vibrantly as they really are.

Are there websites or instructions out there?  I wish I had great answers for you. I really don’t. I fudged my way through it.  I searched on YouTube for microwave dyeing yarn with Koolaid. A few videos came up and most of them were other people fudging there way through it too. There was no great formula. There are a couple of methods.

This is what worked best for me:
  1. I presoaked my 100% wool in lukewarm water with about 1/4 cup vinegar for 1 hour in large microwavable bowl. Squeeze most of the water out after soaking.
  2. I put 2 packets of each color I liked into a glass mason jar - I used pints and quarts - doesn’t matter. Added lukewarm water to each jar to about 3/4 full plus about 2 tablespoons vinegar - for good measure. Stirred well. I put the jars next to the sink on a crappy old “I don’t care if it stains” towel. I advise having it next to or even in the sink so you can easily transfer the whole project into the sink for step 6.
  3. I carefully stuffed a section of yarn into each. Yes, there was unexposed yarn that carried over the tops to the next jar - it’s ok.
  4. I topped off each jar to just under the screw bands with more lukewarm water and snuck a spoon down in to just stir up a little. (Rinse spoon after each jar to avoid color transfer.)
  5. Let it soak - a long time (30-40 min). Really. Be patient. Walk away. Go knit/crochet. Most people/videos will tell you not to do anything until the dye is exhausted (completely soaked in and the water is clear), but I think 2 packets may have been A LOT of dye, cuz mine never did and I dyed the next batch in the same jars. Do what you feel. The dye will soak up into the carry-overs from jar to jar. At about 1/2 soaking time (15-20 min) I shifted the yarn slightly out of one jar and more into another to help the dye bleed into the carry-over - you may choose to leave it natural. You may choose to finish all steps, then go back and dye just those sections in strong contrast. This is a very creative process. There are no rules, which is why there are no steadfast instructions.
  6. When the dye has “taken” and you are satisfied with the color depth, transfer jars into sink. Take one dipped end out at a time, laying the yarn in the sink and removing the jar from your work space. When yarn is lying in sink, press water out. Rinse with lukewarm water 2-3 times squeezing out water/dye until mostly clear.
  7. Put yarn back into first large microwavable bowl with enough lukewarm water to cover yarn. Microwave on high for 6 minutes. Let cool to room temp. Transfer to sink, drain, rinse again. This time there should be NO dye runoff. If there is, repeat this step. Otherwise, sqeeze as much water out as you can and hang outside or in shower to dry. Done. Fantastico!

Hints:  Be patient. You’ll be really bummed if it felts. Mine didn’t. I think this method is pretty safe as long as you don’t ring the yarn out, just squeeze and press the water out.

Use gloves. I turned my hands BRIGHT pink. IF you should happen to dye your hands, it is good to know that cheap shampoo will get the dye out. Take a shower and wash your hair lavishly and your hands will return to normal in short order.

The vinegar will help the dye soak into and set in the yarn. You don’t have to go nuts with it or even measure. Just add some. White vinegar. Not any other.

Some of the Kool Aid reds mix up in the jars dramatically different, but seem to dye about the same. I used Orange, Cherry and Jamaican Punch for my project. Jamaican looks darker than it comes out. The purples (Grape and Black Cherry) come out kinda grey and crappy. If you want purple go with food coloring. I’ve read a lot of complaints about how hard it is to get good purple.

I hope this helps you. Do it. Go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll felt it or hate your colors. Before you decide you hate the colors, wind it back into a ball and swatch it. I made one small skein that was total Clown Barf - wanted to throw it out. Even over-dyed it. In the end, I wound it into a ball and decided, albeit a little pinker than I’d like, it really was still pretty cool.

If you have dyed wool with Kool Aid or food colors, please let me know how yours came out or if you do anything differently. I’m always open to new ideas and suggestions.

O, also, there is a group on Ravelry dedicated to this: What a Kool Way to Dye  If you aren't yet on Ravelry, really, give it a try.  It's FREE & FUN!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Twisted Winds" Available

Originally titled "Denise" I've renamed this piece "Twisted Winds" due to its unisex status.  Regardlesss of its name, this hat was inspired by my sister in law, Denise, and her gloriously curly hair (it runs in their family). 
This hat fits Teens, Women and Men, as it will stretch to fit head sizes 20-25”. Very simple cabling techniques make this hat look far more complex than it is, much like the wind whipping about, no matter how it twists, it is still just air. The main body of this hat is knit back and forth, then joined into along cast on and bound off edges. Stitches are picked up along top edge, and crown is knit in the round to close. Pattern is available on my website (MyKnits.com) as well as from Ravelry.com.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Dittany Sprouts" - Baby Hats

In response to several requests to downsize my Dittany pattern to fit children, I have created Dittany Sprouts!  For this pattern, I again used the Candlelight lace, but changed out the optional embellishments to offer more color and less dangle (a safety consideration).  I'm very excited about how these came out - I think they are simply adorable.  Pattern is available for sale on both my website and Ravelry.com

I unfortunately don't have any available models for this hat.  If you happen to have a little one at home that would be willing to model your test knit for my photographic needs, please contact me.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

Instant Gratification & Diversion Knitting

Sometimes when you're working on big projects that threaten to burn you out, you just need to do a little diversion knitting and give yourself some instant gratification.  Just a little project, something quick and easy, that breaks up the mind numbing 13" of stockinette stitch the big project requires, makes a big difference in your overall success completing projects.

My solution this time was a modified Pinwheel Purse, originally designed by Frankie Brown (pattern available for Free on Ravelry!)  This project actually killed three birds with one stone.  Not only did it combat my stockinette boredom, it fulfilled my Transfiguration homework, and gave me a cool new way to store my knitting notions!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Dittany" Women's Hat PDF Pattern Available!

After much support (and demand) from my friends and the Ravelry community, "Dittany" is active and available for purchase.  This hat was inspired by my love for all things Harry Potter and Magical.  I'm especially proud of the embellishment I created for the top of this hat, a whimsical three dimensional set of flames dangling by i-cords from the hat’s peak.

"Dittany" has been posted to my website MyKnits.com and Ravelry.com for sale. Both MyKnits and Ravelry provide automatic delivery / download of the PDF file upon receipt of payment. If you are interested in purchasing "hard copies" please email me!

Oh, yeah... there was a request for this pattern to be produced in Baby sizes.  Watch for it!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Magical Inspiration!

Not that I needed inspiration for more designs...

I'm a huge fan of Ravelry.  (If you knit/crochet, and you're not a member, you are missing out.  Join today - it's free and loaded with not only a wonderful community of fellow stitchers & hookers, it has a HUGE library of both free and for fee patterns, and is an incredible resource for techniques, and so, so much more!)  While perusing a friend's completed projects, I ran across a project that had been completed for credit in one of the Ravelry Groups - HP Knitting/Crochet House Cup.  I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter series. I researched more about this group and decided to join.  Sadly, the sorting had already been done for the winter term, however, late joins are allowed to play along (just not for points).  It's actually a wonderful option and allows you time to learn the ropes.

Basically, it works like this.  You are a student at Hogwarts and you choose your classes.  You can earn credit for up to 6 classes per term.  Each class has homework, and to earn points you must complete a project within the assignment month and turn it in as homework.  Each homework assignment has certain criteria your project needs to fit into to qualify as completed homework. 

I chose to start with an Herbology project.  I read the criteria and used it as inspiration to design a project that qualified.  Much to my delight, a new pattern design quickly emerged.  (Had I not been in the designer mindset, I could have selected a pattern I wanted to complete that fit criteria and done that instead.  That is what most of the players do, and it's a great way to wrangle your WIP's and UFO's.)

And so, "Dittany" was born.

Pattern is in final tech-editing stage and will be made available as soon as it's done.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Denise" is Coming!

Here's a sneak peek at my newest design... "Denise"

This design features some twisted stitches and fun cables, including a face framing braid.  Like my other designs, this one is knit back and forth, then joined in a circle.  Stitches are then picked up along the top edge and knit in the round to close the top.

Don't let the seeming intricacies of these patterns scare you off... each of my hat patterns are great skill builders, and are honestly much easier to knit than they look.  Remember, knitting is really only one stitch.  Everything else is just the front side, backside or twisted version of that one stitch.  You can do it!

Falling Temps, Falling Prices!

I had a theory that by the time I finished a scarf for myself, the weather would be too warm to wear it.  Thusly, I focused like crazy on that scarf and got it done fast in some mad witchcraft hope that it would speed the onset of warmer weather.  I finished the scarf just in time for nearly 60 degree weather.  That was last weekend.  Mother Nature has since decided to chime in and show me who's boss.

Now it's cold.  Really, really cold.  I'm talking about the coldest temperatures we've had in New Mexico since before I was born (NO joke!) and to honor knitters everywhere looking for affordable, stylish, warm knit patterns, I've just reduced the price on all of my hat patterns to just $3.00.

May you all knit something warm for yourselves!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Brenda" is Coming!

I'm doing a final test knit for this very cool pattern I designed a couple years ago.  I gave the first test knit to my sister in law who reports that she uses it all the time and loves it still, therefore, I'm naming it after her.

Medallions and smocking details give this hat wonderful visual appeal!  The main body is knit horizontally and then joined into a circle.  Stitches are picked up around the top edge to finish the hat.  Brim edge rolls up to show face framing cable.  Braid embellishment is optional.

Like it?  Want to score a FREE copy of this pattern?  I'm looking for two (2) test knitters - just email me!

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