Wednesday, September 28, 2016

More WIPs Than You Can Shake A Stick At

So many WIPs! I think this is the most projects I've had on the needles in quite some time; I usually try to keep to about 3 or 4 since any more than that kinda stress me out - but I find myself with 8 active WIPs on my needles & hook right now. Eep!

I've made the most progress on these Ancient Arts socks since my last WIP Wednesday post - last weekend, I knit the Fish Lips Kiss heel on sock #2 and am doing a mad dash to the finish line:


While traveling earlier this month, this Seraphim striped wrap became my go-to project for mindless, soothing knitting:


I've also passed the halfway point on my Molten Metal KAL project:


And I inherited a stockinette scarf project from my grandmother, which I feel compelled to finish in a somewhat timely fashion so that someone in my family can enjoy it this winter.


There are a few projects who haven't gotten much action lately, but I am hoping to focus more on them this coming weekend before I am embroiled in Spinzilla-land next week; the Rockling Cardigan hasn't grown much since I last shared it here on this blog, but at least I found the perfect buttons for whenever it's done:


I also haven't picked up the Bulletproof Curl I started a while back for fear of making a mistake and having to rip back yet again - I'm still getting the hang of the stitch pattern, and with all of the stress and sleep deprivation of the past few weeks, I thought it wise to give this one a short little vacation. I do love how it's knitting up in this yarn and color, however, so I think I'll try to work on it more frequently, just a pattern rep each day would probably make a big difference.


That's it for this week! I'll be knitting like mad and preparing for next week's Spinzilla for the rest of the week, but  I do have a little something special planned for next Monday - see you then!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spinzilla Prep: It Took Me By Surprise

Spinzilla is just one week away - gulp! Between a very busy month for work and the unexpected week-long trip to KC earlier this month, I find that I am feeling quite unprepared for a week of spinning. This past weekend, I did at least find some time to dig through my fiber stash and make some plans.

I've heard that Spinzilla is a great time to spin a sweater's worth of yarn, something I have never attempted, but I have been working off and on (mostly off) to spin through a large quantity of Louet Light Gray Swalesdale fiber with that purpose in mind. I've got about 2 pounds to go, and have been saving it for Spinzilla.


While I love natural colored fiber, I sometimes get bored spinning with it, so I raided my stash to see what else I could spin to keep things interesting. I pulled out a half pound of Louet Dyed Merino in Brick, A braid of Nerd Girl Yarns Panda Blend Fiber in Parrotfish, and two BFL braids from Cloudlover in the Ginkgo colorway. For me,  getting through all of these fibers along with the two pounds of Swalesdale above is ambitious at best since I have to work during the day, but I'll certainly give it a shot. 


Earlier this month, I had the foresight to invest in a rolling cart where I can keep all of my spinning supplies - fiber, extra bobbins, my spinning notebook, niddy noddy, yarn meter, and even a glass of beer! I bought it during World Market's Labor Day sale, and I'm so glad I did; since I'll most likely have both spinning wheels going concurrently, I can roll it back and forth and always have what I need within arm's reach.


I'm also feeling mighty glad that I purchased this spinning wheel basket for my Ladybug when I was at Convergence in August, because now I never have to waste time searching for my orifice hook, oil or WPI gauge - they are all safely stowed right there!


I'll probably start predrafting the dyed fibers next weekend so that they're ready to grab & go once Spinzilla kicks off - some of them have been in my stash for a few years now and are probably pretty compacted. If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I may even whip up some rolags with my blending board - something I intended to do for this year's event, but haven't been able to find the time to do just yet.

How are you prepping for Spinzilla?

Friday, September 23, 2016

FO Friday: At Last, Baby Sweaters

These two baby sweaters have been finished since the middle of August, but the buttons I ordered never showed up!

After about a month of anxiously checking the mail box each day, I finally called the company I ordered from to ask why they still hadn't shown up. Apparently, they were on a truck that had yet to be unpacked for that entire 4 weeks. Ummm....ok. I ended up canceling the order and seized the opportunity to buy some buttons while I was in Kansas City last week and had access to a car. Honestly, I think I'm better off - these buttons are way cuter than the ones I picked up which are probably still on that truck.


I used two skeins of Rowan Pure Wool to make a heavily modified version of the Easy Baby Cardigan from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Not sure I'd knit this pattern with these mods again, since it made it way more fussy, but the results are cute and I can't wait to finally gift these!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Solar Dyeing with Kool-Aid & Kraemer Yarn

I’m not really a ‘summer’ person, but I finally found a reason to get excited about 90 degree weather: solar dyeing! 

I’ve always wanted to try this technique, but usually don’t think about it till summer is long gone. Lucky for me, a box of undyed yarns from Kraemer Yarns showed up on my doorstep not too long ago, prompting me to make some plans for dyeing experiments which I can share on this blog. Obviously, solar dyeing was my top priority, since I assume that there will be very few 90-degree days this fall (here’s hoping!). 

It’s funny how, once you are actually looking forward to the next really hot day, they don’t show up! It took a few weeks of anxiously watching the weather forecasts, but there was finally a good day in August wherein I could give this a try. The upside of having to wait a few weeks? I could amass all of the supplies I needed! Here’s what I used to get the job done: 


2-3 skeins of undyed yarn (I used 2 skeins of Jane, a DK weight blend of 60% US Superwash Merino and 40% Nylon)
1 large glass jar (I used a 1 gallon glass jar - just make sure it’s big enough to house the yarn you want to dye, with enough room for water)
Several Kool-Aid Packets - make sure they are sugar free! 
Optional - dishwashing gloves, tongs

Here's what I did to achieve a kettle-dyed effect: 

1. Fill container 2/3 of the way full with warm water. Add 1-2 packets of Kool-Aid to start (I began with 1 packet of Cherry). Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

2. Add skeins of yarn. Make sure that you have added extra ties to keep your yarn from tangling, if needed. I lucked out, though - the undyed Kraemer yarn comes pre-tied! Let the water soak through yarn, using tongs to gently work water and dye through yarn if desired.

3. Add a few more packets to the top of the yarn/water/Kool-Aid mixture - but resist the urge to stir! Allow everything to just naturally do their thing - the dyes will slowly migrate through the water and yarn if left untouched. For this step, I added a packet of Cherry, Black Cherry and Grape, and sprinkled each one like so:

4. Set jar in full sun - I ended up leaving mine in a window that the cats enjoy sunning themselves in! 

5. Check on yarn in about 3 hours - now you can finally stir! I gave my yarn a VERY gentle stir just to move the skeins around a bit, but tried not blend the colors too much. 

6. Allow to sit in full sun for another few hours, and add more Kool-Aid if you want. At this point, I added one more packet of Grape and stirred a tiny bit more.


7. It’s time to pull out the yarn when your water is clear - that means the dye is exhausted! For me, that happened after about 7 hours of full sun. Gently squeeze out the excess water and allow your yarn to dry!

I was pretty pleased with the resulting skeins: 


In a later blog post, I’ll share some swatches knit from these skeins of yarn. 

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool 2016

Today didn't start as expected. I woke up in Kansas City, after spending 7 hours on the Amtrak train from Chicago to KC yesterday. I was hoping to see my grandmother one last time, but very early this morning (around 3am), I'm told she passed peacefully while all of us were sleeping.

I thought about postponing this entry until next week, but my grandmother actually read my blog regularly (with the help of my mom) and she would have loved to see this post, especially all of the sheep photos. So after debating all day, I am finally posting what I wrote on the train ride down here. 

One of my favorite fall traditions is the annual trip to Jefferson, WI with my upstairs neighbor, Lauren, to attend the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. My husband had the weekend off and decided to join us this year, and all three of us hit the road on Saturday morning. 

There were a lot of the usual suspects at the show, along with some new faces, too. Every year, I look at the Jennie the Potter booth, but this was the first year I purchased something from her. I know there is quite a JTP cult out there, and I’m told that she sells out within minutes at Rhinebeck. This is why I love our sleepy little show - no lines, no pressure! I chose a pretty ornament for my Christmas tree and this adorable mug with a bear juggling balls of yarn and wearing mittens. 


My friends Carl & Eileen from Bijou Basin Ranch were also there, as always, and I was really excited to see all of their new yarns and colors in person (and also visit both of the samples I’d recently knit for display in the booth!). I knew I wanted to get a skein of their limited edition Big Bijou Bliss for the Laura + Maddy KAL.

I was pretty happy with my purchases, few though they were, but I did end up impulse buying a skein of fingering weight Suri Alpaca yarn on my way out the door. I’ve worked with a lot of alpaca in various forms, except Suri - it seems like it’s time to cross that one off my list. 

While the shopping aspect is great, my favorite part hands-down is looking at all of the sheep; here are some of the friends I made this year: 






Perhaps my favorite favorite part is walking through all of the barns to hear the chorus of baas:

The food at the festival leaves a little something to be desired (well, if you like fried food and endless amounts of meat, you are in luck - but vegetarians/health conscious people such as myself are a little SOL), but Tyler was quite excited to get himself a fried Twinkie:


Since VK Live is in Minneapolis rather than here in Chicago this October, Wisconsin Sheep & Wool is my final yarn/fiber festival I’ll be attending this year, and I have to say, it’s quite a high note to end on. No complaints here, though! 

I have a special treat planned for you this Friday since I don’t have any FO’s - I hope to see you back here to check it out.

Friday, September 9, 2016

FO Friday: Woolstok Hat

Today I have just one lonely hat to share - I recently finished the Finial Hat by Brenda Patipa, which is from the Winter 2015 issue of Knitscene. I used a new yarn that just came out earlier this year, Woolstok from Blue Sky Fibers.


Even though this hat pattern looks complex, it was actually pretty easy to knit - the key was using stitch markers between pattern repeats.

I'm looking forward to fall so I can start wearing all of the things I've been knitting this summer!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Let's Just Start Everything RIGHT NOW.

My WIPS have multiplied! I went a little crazy and started several new projects since last week. First, I needed an easier on-the-go-project, so I grabbed some yarn from my stash and started a simple bias striped scarf...with lace weight yarn?! Clearly, it was a moment of insanity, but I really love the yarn - - Seraphim from Bijou Basin Ranch, a really soft angora with a hint of viscose.


Speaking of Bijou Basin Ranch, I have a new cowl pattern out this week which uses another one of their lovely yarns, a yak/bamboo blend called Lhasa Wilderness. Here's my KAL project which I started on Monday; there is plenty of time to join our KAL, and you can find more details here if you are so inclined. 


The sock project I shared last week did indeed end up getting frogged so that I could knit a different type of heel. After much thought, I decided to cross something off of my knitting bucket list by trying out the Fish Lips Kiss heel, and I'm so glad I did! I think this is a heel I will revisit for future projects, most definitely. 


I've finally made some visible/measurable progress on the project from Curls 2 that I (re)started last week!


I've also found time to work the Rockling Cardigan I started last week - it's kinda sorta starting to look like a sweater.


Last but not least, the handspun crochet blanket continues to grow:


That's it for this week, see you back here on Friday to see what I've finished! 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Molten Metal Cowl

I'm so excited that fall is just around the corner - it's my favorite season, so I wanted to put out a new pattern to celebrate the arrival of September. Rather than my usual Ravelry release, however, I have partnered up with the folks at Bijou Basin Ranch to offer not just the pattern PDF for sale, but a discounted project kit so that you can get a skein of the luxurious Lhasa Wilderness yarn AND the pattern, too!


The Pattern

Meet the Molten Metal Cowl, which you can knit with just 1 skein of Lhasa Wilderness, shown here in the Mango Salsa colorway from Bijou Basin Ranch's indie dyer series.

It uses two different stitch patterns (which are both written and charted) to create a fun-to-knit cowl you can knit using both variegated and semi-solid hand-dyed colorways.

I love working with this soft, lustrous yarn, especially since I know that the finished project will look great for years to come - the strength of the bamboo is the perfect complement to the yak fiber, and many of my previous projects in this yarn have yet to pill (even mittens!). Another bonus of working with this particular yarn is that it yields beautiful stitch definition.

Ready to KAL?

You can purchase discounted project kits for the Molten Metal Cowl here, or individual PDF downloads of the pattern here. If you'll be at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend, you can purchase your kit there, too!

Be sure to share your project with us in the KAL thread in BBR's Ravelry group now through October 31, 2016 (Update: there are two $25 gift certifications to up for grabs!), and if you happen to be on instagram, you can use the #bijoubasinranch and #moltenmetalKAL hashtags for your photos!

Friday, September 2, 2016

FO Friday: Socks!

I finally finished a pair of socks!


The yarn is a custom blend of 100% BFL from Succulent Fibers that I got in a sock yarn club earlier this year - I call the color light saber green.


The pattern is something I made up and should probably turn into a pattern at some point, but for now, I'm just going to enjoy having an actual pair of socks fresh off the needles.