Friday, 29 October 2010

Notes on a Scandal knits

Has anyone seen "Notes on a Scandal"? Yes, I know it's more than five years since it's been out, but I'm a bit behind the times. It's a deliciously wicked psychological thriller with Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. It's about emotional blackmail with two equally despicable women and their conniving co-dependent friendship. A bundle of sunshine and flowers, really.

Anyway, I was in awe of some of the great handknits that Cate Blanchett wears throughout the film. She is seen in a delicate pink lace scarf:

(all images are from fox searchlight films)

She also wore several fab cardigans that I couldn't get good screenshots of, but one of them was a seafoam colored one with big cables running up the front in a fuzzy mohair blend.

Best of all were her fingerless gloves:

They appear to be either cabled or linen stitch on the palms, with large slinky-like welts at the start and end. Maybe not entirely practical, but I must have a pair of these. I have made it my life's mission to dissect these like a frog in middle school science class (everyone now: "Ewwwww!"). Eventually, I plan on having a similar pair. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

FO- Republic Hat

My A-Z stashdown continues! Now with even more Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky!


I had what I thought was a full skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in a pretty light gray. This yarn was re-claimed from my most fantastically ugly fair isle skirt:

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Then I skeined up the yarn and gave most of it away. Half of it was Renyold's Lopi Icelandic yarn, which matches the brown sheep perfectly when it comes to gauge.

I cast on for the Republic hat. Just as I was decreasing for crown, my yarn ran out.

Republic hat

I had to make some emergency calls, but a friend who I gave some of the skirt scraps to still had some on hand. I finished the hat in Lopi, which matched color-wise perfectly. The only thing is that the lopi has a lot of dark black wiry guard hairs that bloomed up, while the Lamb's Pride has more of a silver mohair halo. I trimmed up the guard hairs with a pair of sharp scissors and I can't even tell where one begins and the other ends.

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I got the giant button at M&J trimming.

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This got wrapped up and shipped up to Northern Maine for my Grandma's birthday. She's a pretty classy lady, and her mother used to own a hat store in Rochester, NY. She still loves hats.

The Specs:
The Republic Hat, which is a knock-off of a Banana Republic design. It's also a free pattern on this blog. I used about 100 yards of bulky weight yarn on a size 10.5 needles.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Another Overdye Success

Back in the early days of my handpainted yarn obsession, I was distracted by all sorts of pretty colors. I hadn't yet learned 1. That yarn will pool and drive you crazy and 2. oh, all those colors combined together look like clown barf.

Case and point.

sock yarn

1 skeins of Fleece Artist Sea Wool in the "Renaissance" colorway. This was a blend of 70% wool, 30% seasilk, which is a fiber processed from seaweed. It had a lovely sheen, and I was attracted to the flashy colors, which looked so crazy beautiful on the skein. Once I started knitting though, I realized that this might be a bad mistake.

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Ooooh the pooling. And the primary colors clashing.

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Having red, green, blue and dark purple in one place really did look like clown barf. Yargh.

Just a slight grumble about this yarn base- the seasilk did not blend very evenly with the wool, making large white slubs in the yarn.

Also, this yarn is very loosely plied. You really want sock yarn to have a nice, tight ply as to keep abrasion and wear to a minimum. I ran the yarn through my wheel before I started to tighten it up a bit, but I still have my doubts about the long-term use of these socks. It probably would have been better to use for a garment that is not quite so hard wearing.

I made the Leyburn Socks by Minty Fresh. I loved the pattern, but I was so disenchanted with the yarn that I turned them into anklets (I made them toe-up).

They sat in my sock pile for the better part of a year, unworn and unloved. Finally, I decided that overdye is the way to go.

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Much better, right? I used acid dyes and mixed a deep, dark sapphire blue. The seacell slubs because more apparent when it was done (they are the white flecks in the pictures), but the crazy colorway mellowed out enough for me to actually like these socks.

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Being all one color also makes the sock pattern pop more.

These are now going to be gifted to someone who lives in Florida. They are lightweight and not terribly warm, so they will be perfect for chillier days in the sunshine state.

The specs:

I used 1 skein of Fleece Artist Sea Wool. The pattern is Leyburn from Minty Fresh. I loved this pattern and plan on making them again one day.

Friday, 22 October 2010

FO- A Failure that I Don't Want To Show You


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The yarn- Elsebeth Lavold silky cashmere- was way too drapey for the pattern. This one is going into the frog pile, to be deconstructed and re-created as items that don't really need structure.

The yarn is cushy and smooshy and luxe though.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Handspun Yarn: The Curtain Dress

In my constant effort to use up my entire stash, I recently spun this gem up:

spinning stash

It's another bat from Butterfly Girl Designs. The color is called "Curtain Dress", and it's a rather dazzling blend of 67% bamboo, 25% merino and 8% firestar. I tore the batt into strips and let it spin up as it wanted to, with no real drafting and letting it lump and bump where it wanted to. This is a lot of fun sometimes if you can learn to give the control up and just let the yarn happen. Coming down after spinning from a sweater (lots of controlled spinning to get the yarn perfect and consistent) makes me okay with just letting this art batt become what it wants.

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From 3.8 oz of batt, I ended up with 155 yards of a heavy aran-weight 2-ply.

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I'm not quite sure what this will be yet- maybe a simple pair of mitts.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Making Ugly Knits Pretty

I'm not a huge fan of dyeing or over-dyeing entire garments. It presents too many challenges that apartment dwellers find hard to overcome. Usually, you need a pretty big dyepot in order to get the dye evenly distributed. Like a vat. I have a stockpot that is at least a 12 quart, and it's not really big enough to do a sweater. The second issue is the seams. Any place where the garment has a seam, it will be harder for the dye to get to. You'll end up with really funky strips of the original color any place you have stitching.

Saying that, I thought this garment was a good candidate for the dye pot:

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Oh, the horror.

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Someone (a non-knitter, specifically) had given me 4 different colored skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in rather Easterish colors. This was waaay back in 2004. I found a pattern that called for 2 skeins, with two strands of yarn held together. So I picked out the two skeins that were the most complimentary and used those together- a pale blue-green and a carnation pink. That is how this monster was born.

I never wore it because of the hideousness and awfulness. Plus, because the yarn was mostly cotton, I needed special Procion dyes.

Finally, over the summer, I took it out and decided to dye it. Procion dyes need no heat to set- just a day or two to cure. Running the stove for hours in summertime is never a valid option. After soaking the tee in washing soda, I mixed the dyes and got a pretty bright raspberry pink that was saturated enough to cover the existing color. I laid the wet garment out on layers of saran wrap and hand-painted the dye on using an application sponge. Once it was saturated with dye, I wrapped it up in the saran wrap and let it sit for a day.

Ballet Tee

The results were nothing but sweet.

Ballet Tee

The dye covered the former heinous color evenly and with no hint of the monster that lurks beneath. It's cheery and summery and wonderful.

Ballet Tee

Because there were no seems at all on this garment, I didn't have any trouble at all getting the dye where it needed to be. It was almost too easy, really.

Ballet Tee

The specs:

The pattern is the Ballet Tee from Teva Durham's book Loop-d-Loop. I used 2 skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece held together. I don't remember the needle size, but it was probably whatever she recommended in the pattern. It was a super simple pattern worked completely in the round.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Rather Predictably, a Post about Rhinebeck

NYS Sheep and Wool festival was a Magical Shopping Experience this year, as always. The weather was beautiful, the trees were ablaze with color, the company was excellent.

The fleece sale had some rather impressive selections:

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Not all mine, of course. More on those later. It was refreshing to see other people fleece-crazed spinners haul off much more than that.

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Also, anytime I think of telling regular everyday people that I go off on the weekends to paw through fleece, I'm pretty sure they get a mental image of this:

Therefore, it's best that I just stick with the story that I was "Upstate for the weekend with friends".

Perverse as it might be, lamb dishes abound and are delicious. The lamb chili is just what you need to take the chill off.

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Afterward, the sheep give you disapproving stares, but I assure you, the guilt is totally worth it.

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This was an Oxford sheep, which, incidentally, I find unspinnable, or at the very least, not a lot of fun to spin. Therefore, it's a meat breed. Guilt absolved.

This Lincoln Ewe was sweet as can be, and super-soft to boot:
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I don't think I had ever seen karakul sheep in the flesh before, but as soon as I touched one, I was like, "Oh, it's a karakul".

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Angora goats, reluctantly being shown. They were all like, "Don't judge me."

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The yarns were beautiful-

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These are gorgeous skeins of natural-dyed yarn from Hope Spinnery in Maine.

Best of all, it was great to catch up with friends.

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They were good to have around- we talked each other out of several purchases, and yet somehow facilitated several more.

The Crew
photo from KnithoudBrooklyn.

We all left a few dollars poorer, but richer in fiber. We are like bran in that way. It's really what makes the weekend great.

Oh, also: Uma Thurman was there, and she rear-ended someone coming out of the parking lot in her giant black SUV.

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She was tall and willowy and very elegant looking, and not really handling the situation as I would have expected The Bride to (which is a good thing).

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Corespun yarn

I'm a plain vanilla spinner. There. I said it.

I like myself a nice balanced 2-ply, and sturdy round 3 ply, and the occasional even lace singles. Not that I don't admire crazy art yarns. I look on, green with envy, when friends make piles of chaotic gorgeousness. I took a 2 day class that was nothing but freeing your inner anarchist at the wheel. It was fun, but I'm still not convinced that I could ever make anything useful.

Then, last month, I got a weird urge to corespin. After a few yards of trial and error, I found my rhythm and could. not. stop. It was addictive.

spinning stash

I started out with batts from Butterfly Girl in "Rocky Road". It was a soft, luxurious blend of merino, suri alpaca (the best kind of alpaca in my opinion), silk, bamboo, and a little bit of glitz. Corespinning lets you stretch out a small amount of luxury fiber- because you are wrapping it around a core yarn, you will end up using less. This is a perfect technique if you only have a couple ounces of fiber, but you still want the yardage to actually make something.

For my core, I chose some dk weight wool.

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This was some yarn that I had frogged from a hoodie years ago. It is still too painful for me to knit with it. I didn't check to see if there was a pattern errata and followed the pattern with blind faith. I didn't question things at all, even when it had me put the hood where one would logically put a second arm hole. I just kept on knitting. Very painful memory right there.

Anyway, I found that hiding the yarn makes me feel better.

I ran the core yarn through my wheel and onto a bobbin, adding more twist. That way, I wouldn't end up with an over-twisted mess once I started the core spinning process.

Basically, you are taking your pretty fiber and letting it wrap around the core yarn. The Bellweather has a great tutorial (as always) on corespinning. She can explian the process much better than I can.

Here are the results:

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Parts of the silk were a little tough to draft out evenly resulting in lumpy thicker sections, but I thought I got most of the skein fairly even. It was so fun, once I sat down I couldn't really stop if I wanted to, and it only took me a couple hours to complete.

I ended up with about 160 yards total. I'm planning on making a hat from this- I think the yarn will give it a fun, funky texture.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

FO- Snappy Hat

I grew up in Maine, and I still have quite a few friends and family who still live there and spend the winters there. I do my very best to outfit them with overly warm accessories to make the long winter months a little more comfortable.

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This is the Snappy Hat, a free pattern from Picnic Knits. I had a skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky to use up as part of my A-Z stashdown which paired with this pattern perfectly.

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The yarn contains 15% mohair, which is warmer than wool. Cables gather the fabric and create more bulk, making a warmer hat. Plus, I made the bottom band twice as long as the pattern called for in order for the wearer to fold the brim over, keeping the ears super toasty. This might be the Perfect Storm of Warm Hats.

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It's a unisex pattern, but the brown yarn makes this more XY.

Naturally, this is part of my self-imposed A-Z stashdown.

The Specs:
The Snappy Hat by Corrina Ferguson (picnicknits). I used almost a full skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky (125 yards) in Sable. I used US size 10 needles. The only mod I made was to make the bottom ribbing twice as long as the pattern called for (I knit for 20 rows). I was able to finish this in just a few nights of casual knitting.