Friday, June 30, 2017

Fiber Friday: Tour de Fleece

I just returned from a long weekend visiting family in Kansas City, only to realize that the Tour de Fleece has snuck up on me. I can't believe that it starts tomorrow!


I'll be spinning with Team CKT again this year, which is a super laid-back team hosted by one of my fellow Team Louet Spinners and host of The Corner of Knit and Tea podcast/blog, FluffyK.

After spending half of this month traveling, I feel woefully unprepared for this event. Luckily, the point is to spin every day the tour rides and the amount of yarn you spin is less important (if this were Spinzilla, I'd be screwed!!). I was hoping to take stock of my stash and have a more specific plan for this event, but the reality is that I'll have to fly by the seat of my pants. On the plus side, I have plenty of fiber to keep me going:

At least I'm not in danger of running out of spinning fiber....

Are you going to spin during this year's Tour de Fleece? I'd love to hear about your plans & progress during this event!

Friday, June 23, 2017

FO Friday: Look Familiar?

There's nothing wrong with your monitor - this IS the exact same baby sweater I posted last week, but with different yarn and buttons. I had a baby shower to attend recently and needed a project that I could work on while traveling, so I turned to my go-to, the Seed Stitch Yoke Cardigan. I knit the sleeves two-at-a-time on the way to TNNA, and started the body of the sweater on the way home.

A few monkey wrenches popped up once I got home (namely, losing an entire day to being flattened by a nasty cold I picked up at the show), and I very nearly didn't finish in time to gift this to the intended recipient. Somehow it all came together, and my iron had the good graces to break down only after I'd finished steam blocking this project into presentability. That was lucky!

Tip: Add a sample of wool wash to your gift!
Also lucky was finding the perfect buttons in my stash, something I hadn't thought through when choosing the yarn color (incidentally, I used Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Sour Apple). I'd purchased these cute buttons a year or two ago from Fastenation Studios (I think they're now called Wild Flower Button Studios?) and for some reason I just like the way they look - it all somehow works.


I do have a few more babies to knit for, but I'm planning to to expand my horizons for pattern choice (and I'm taking suggestions for worsted weight baby sweaters, if you have any).

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WIP Wednesday: MKAL Math

I got a little behind on my June Cashmere MKAL project due to the trade show and a bit of deadline knitting for a baby shower I attended last weekend. I'm now back on track, having started the third clue which came out last Friday:


Here's what I've been doing so far:

Crochet cast on 180 stitches and knit 1 inch of garter stitch for border, which took 8 g of yarn (so, that's what I need to save for the border and bind-off at the end).

Clue 1: Six repeats of Dot Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 2: Two repeats of Chevron Stitch pattern. Purl 1 round.
Clue 3: Three repeats of Mock Cable Stitch pattern (1/3 of the way through). Purl 1 round.

I am enjoying working this yarn, what's not to love about cashmere? This yarn in particular has a very cool story, as the fibers are collected directly from Kyrgyz shepherds living on small family farms along the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia (learn more here).

There are two more clues left in the MKAL, and I'll be sharing my progress over on Instagram as I knit through them, in addition to updates on this blog of course. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 19, 2017

#ManosMonday: Knitty Sweater

At the end of last year, my friend and colleague Mari asked if I would be willing to knit a sample of a new design of hers that would be coming out in Knitty in 2017. The idea is that my project would combine commercially-spun yarn with a handspun (by me, of course!) accent. I'd get the yarn and fiber to spin and knit with, and could keep the resulting garment. Of course I said yes!


We both picked out our yarn colors in the Fairmount Fibers/Manos del Uruguay booth at the January TNNA Trade show, and a few weeks later, a lovely box of yarn and fiber arrived on my doorstep. Originally, I think this sweater was supposed to be in worsted weight, but at some point it became a sport weight sweater, so I admit that I was a little nervous about finishing in time for our  photo shoot in early April - historically, I am a pretty slow sweater knitter (see: chunky weight cardigan that's been on the needles since last August).

By some small miracle, I finished in time for our scheduled shoot - Mari lives in Raleigh, NC, but since we had a mutual workshop in downtown Chicago scheduled for April, we thought that would be a fantastic opportunity to work in a quick photo shoot.


I did much of the finishing work in said workshop, including sewing on the buttons. After our workshop ended, we headed over to Grant Park to take photos before Mari headed to the airport to return home. It was a bit of a nailbiter, but I think we pulled everything together quite well, and I am absolutely loving the result.


One thing that didn't occur to me AT ALL was the fact that I'd see my face on Knitty (eep!). I was even on the blog, which I wasn't expecting at all!


The Details
Pattern: Bosco by Mari Chiba (queue here on Ravelry)
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Clara & Merino Roving
Buttons: Akonye Kenya

Besides loving how the hand dyed and handspun yarns look together, I also love that they are Fair Trade. In fact, so are the buttons - when I spotted these handmade bird buttons at the Quilt Show, I knew they'd be perfect for this project.


I'm really excited to see what colors people choose for this sweater!

Friday, June 16, 2017

FO Friday: The First of Many Baby Things

Seems like there's another wave of babies in 2017, and I haven't been very proactive about preparing it, even though I had plenty of advance warning. My sister's request for a baby sweater and hat to gift to my nephews' babysitter flipped the switch for me, it seems - now I am knitting like crazy to get a few more baby sweaters knit up for my friends who have either just had a baby, or will be having one later this summer.

My go-to book is 60 Quick Baby Knits, and I used two skeins of Berroco Vintage to knit the Seed Stitch Yoke Cardigan and Rolled Edge Cap. Aren't they cute?


I happened to have the perfect buttons on hand, which I'd bought last summer with the intention of getting ahead of this baby wave - then I got distracted by a bunch of other things, as so often happens (at least for me). Here's hoping I'll have a few more cute baby knits to share later this month!


Thanks for stopping by - have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer 2017 TNNA Recap

Yesterday I got back from the TNNA summer trade show, which returned to Columbus to the delight of pretty much everyone, judging by how busy and lively the show floor was for most of the weekend. My measurements are 100% unscientific, but it seemed like there was way more activity when compared to the rather quiet January show in San Jose.

The company I work for, Stitchcraft Marketing, created a community art installation called #StitchLove, which was on display in the TNNA lounge in the center of the show floor. It was the brainchild of my colleague Mari and I am so proud of how it turned out - we all are!

L-R: Mari, Me, Leanne & Ben.
Seeing everyone's contributions was really cool, and by the end of the weekend, the wall was quite full!

Although I'm pretty sure I didn't get a chance to check out every single booth, I did see some pretty cool things while I dashed from meeting to meeting. I was really psyched to spot Katrinkles, whom I discovered on Instagram last year. They had some new stitchable ornament kits - a cardigan sweater and socks - that I simply must get!!

Photo Jun 10, 4 02 10 PM

And I loved this display by Artfil in the What's New section - what an awesome use of Weavettes, and a clever way to display yarn in general (sure wish I thought of it first).

Photo Jun 10, 4 09 52 PM

Besides seeing all of my friends at the show (which was awesome), one of the highlights was having my photo taken with an alpaca, who also let me pet him a little. He was very soft!


There was also a very handsome llama who was not as cooperative when it came to photos:

Photo Jun 11, 2 10 31 PM (1)
You wanna take my photo? I don't care!!
He might be entertaining notions of photobombing Pearl Chin in this one, though - naughty llama!

Photo Jun 11, 2 09 11 PM

I was trying really hard not to bring home tons of yarn, since I already have plenty in my stash, but several mini skeins ended up in my luggage thanks to the quick thinking of Benjamin, who happened to be in the right place at the right time when Dream in Color posted on Instagram that they were leaving some yarn that didn't fit in their luggage in a specific location for the first person who could get there! If Ben hadn't shared this yarn booty with the rest of us, I would have brought home way more beer than yarn; this way, I think I achieved the correct ratio.


I'll be sharing a post about the trends I spotted on the show floor over on the Stitchcraft Marketing blog soon, so keep an eye out!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Tips for Overdyeing Yarn

It's inevitable that some DIY dyeing experiments don't go as planned - sometimes, the multicolored palette doesn't look as good in real life as it did in your head, or your semisolid color turns out lighter or than intended, or your skein has unfortunate dye spatters or, worse yet, bare spots. Oops!

When bad things happen to good yarn, don't fret - you can always overdye your skeins to cover a multitude of dyeing mishaps. You may even get a prettier color in the process, as adding layers of color can add depth that simply can't (easily) be achieved by a single dye session.

My crock pot that's dedicated for dye projects!
When I dyed yarn at Lorna's Laces, we would frequently overdye mis-dyed skeins of yarn to create one-of-a-kind colorways which almost always ended up coming home from me. In fact, the first time I dyed a multicolored colorway (Mixed Berries), I forgot to add one of the colors to the repeating sequence. Once the dye is set, it's pretty tough to fix such a big oopsie, so we overdyed it with a deep purple and it looked a-MA-zing. I ended up knitting my grandmother a pair of socks with it; you'll have to forgive the poor quality of this photo - this project dates back to 2008 and my photography skills were not so great back then.


The key to overdyeing is to choose a color that is complementary to the color or colors in your skein - otherwise, you'll just create a big brown mess. Of course, if a big brown mess is what you're going for, go head and overdye that yellow skein of yarn with green! But it would probably be much prettier if you used an orange or red color to overdye it. 

A while back, I dyed these 3 skeins of yarn with Kool-Aid and didn't achieve the full-strength green I was going for. What's more, there were lots of bare spots on the yarn where the dye didn't set properly. While they would probably knit up into a lovely variegated natural-and-baby-green fabric, I would really prefer a deeper hue.


If you want to get a deeper version of the same color (and remember what your original dye recipe was), that's easy - mix your dye at half-strength.

If you want to get a totally different color, that's ok too! Depending on the level of intensity desired, I would mix the dye anywhere between 1/2 - 3/4 strength. If you can spare a little bit of yarn to do a test dye before hand, that will help you adjust the strength accordingly. Of course, if you don't mind the occasional surprise, you can mix up a batch of dye, toss in some yarn, and hope for the best. I do this quite a bit and have yet to be disappointed with the results.

Recently, I attempted a gradient set of skeins using the mis-dyed yarn mentioned above and some Gaywool dye I had on hand (the color I used is Lucerne). I started with the recommended dye recipe on the package for the amount of yarn I wanted to dye (12g) and got a fairly nice green color. From there, I mixed stronger batches of dye for the other two skeins of the gradient. This will only help you if you're using the same kind of dye as me, but here are the water-to-dye ratios I used to overdye my skeins: 12g dye, 10 cups water; 15g dye, 10 cups water; 18g dye, 10 cups water. Basically, I used the same amount of water, but added 3g more of dye each time to get these results:


There are tons of ways to dye yarn; here are some resources to help get you started:
I'd love to hear about your favorite dye tutorials in the comments!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Weaving Wednesday: Handspun Edition

The ginormous yellow handspun wrap is still on the loom. I've woven about 35 inches, which is not quite halfway, but it's getting there. For the most part, I am loving how it's weaving up, although there is some warp wonkiness here and there: while it started out being very uniform in terms of tension, I now have a few misbehaving strands that need to have weights added to them. It's not the end of the world, but it seems like every time I advance the warp, a new issue pops up!


I can deal with the many opportunities to learn something new from this project (even if it's what not to do), so long as I am liking the results - after all, this is only my fourth weaving project! I'm sure it will be many years before I have a weaving project that goes smoothly from start to finish.

The weft yarn is spun from 8 oz of superwash merino from Cloudlover Fiber in the Quick's Point colorway she dyed for Knitting Sarah a few years back. I'm so bummed that Cloudlover is no more; apparently I was under a rock last September when she announced that she was taking a break from dyeing, and I totally missed the boat on hoarding more Cloudlover fibers in my stash. I think I have just a precious few unspun braids that I'll have to ration out til she come out of hibernation - though I noticed that the website no longer exists. That's not a good sign!

I know there is a lot of amazing hand-dyed fiber out there, and I love trying it all out, but there was just something special about Cloudlover. It was the kind of fiber I would go back to again and again, always with amazing results. I was really hoping to see the Cloudlover booth at YarnCon this past April, but no such luck. I guess I'll have to cross my fingers for Wisconsin Sheep and Wool this fall!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday Motivation: Must! Finish!

There have been a lot of long-term projects in my knitting basket, and I've been working through them one by one (for the most part) in my attempt to Finish All The Things. Mostly this is because I want to start new projects, but I feel guilty about how long certain projects have been on the needles, and I also get weirdly stressed out if I have more projects in progress than I can count on one hand.

The good news is that I'm very close to finishing the chunky cardigan that's been on the needles since last August; next in my sights is a lace weight striped scarf that's been in progress since last September - it's great mindless knitting, although it is a bit long and becoming tough to wrangle, especially on the go.


Later this week, I'll be heading to Columbus, OH for the TNNA trade show, and this will be coming along with me. With any luck, I'll come home with another FO!

Friday, June 2, 2017

June Cashmere Mystery KAL

At this point in my knitting life, I've determined that mystery knit-alongs (MKALs) just aren't my thing. I've had too many unpleasant surprises in the past: being tricked into doing intarsia (I'm looking at you, Mr. West), discovering that the project is really a hideous dickey rather than a wearable cowl (designer name redacted), feeling meh about the resulting project and not finishing it, or worse yet, finishing a project that I totally don't get the idea.

Long story short, I'm making an exception this month for the June Cashmere Mystery KAL, and here's why: it's choose-your-own-adventure. That means I'll have a reasonable amount of control on the resulting project. I'll be using using just 1 skein of lace weight yarn in Moss (just as soon as it arrives), and the pattern is free! I plan to weigh my skein as I knit each weekly clue - that way, I can use every bit of beautiful cashmere without worrying about playing yarn chicken when it's time to knit the final border and bind-off!


It's not too late to join the MKAL! If you sign up for the free pattern, you'll also get free shipping on your yarn! Click here for more info on Ravelry.

You can see my weekly project on Instagram or here on this blog. I look forward to seeing your mystery cowl, too!