Thursday, February 24, 2005

Turquoise Dyeing

Yesterday I dyed six skeins of white wool using Lanaset turquoise dye (2 tsp dye powder in ~4 gallons water and 2 cups white vinegar):

The 2 hanks of fingering wool on the far left are target color #1, they were first in the dye pot together. The 2 hanks of fingering wool in the middle are target color #2, they were last in the dye pot together.

The 2 hanks on the far right were orphan skeins (white Lamb's Pride worsted and LB Fishermen's Wool) that were thrown in separately just to soak up dye so there'd be a noticeable difference between color #1 and color #2. These orphan yarns will be wound up and returned to the stash, no plans there.

The two target colors will be used for more mittens or gloves, along with some undyed yarn in the original white. I'm tempted to wind off one more hank (or at least half) and dye that to get an ultra pale blue before I dump the dye bath. This is a lovely fingering weight wool that I lucked into at a thrift store last year. The bag had seven 50g balls of unmarked white yarn that looked like wool so I brought it home and it passed the bleach test. (The bag cost ~$3.00 so it wasn't a huge gamble.) I wish there had been a label so I could look for more of this yarn online, it's great stuff. Of course if there had been a label revealing it was wool Value Village would have tripled the price.

My hands still look smurfy.

Komi mittens update: just have to finish the thumb on mitten #2 and then they're done.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

KnitCast 01: The Knitting Biologists

Have you heard about KnitCast? It's a free mp3 download. In this first edition Marie Irshad offers a fascinating look at "biologists who get inspiration for their knitting from fungi and bacteria."

It's a most welcome alternative to the braindead fluff pieces found in most knitting magazines. If you enjoy listening to interviews on NPR then KnitCast will sound like a familiar friend.

Download the first KnitCast [here]:

Irshad is interviewing Wendy Johnson for KnitCast #2.

Komi mittens update: The first mitten is blocked, second mitten is almost half done.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Valentine Mitten

OK, still working on the thumb...

I'm thinking the mittens will probably fit my mom after blocking, there's already room in the fingertips and it won't take much to change the circumference. We'll see.

a token for my valentine
who has saved every card I've made
for the last 12 years
now that says something
(it's either OCD or love)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Komi mittens, part 2

Almost done with the first mitten, just have to do the decrease section at the fingertips and then finish the thumb.

I'll make more of an effort to photograph the mittens properly (in the right light, etc) when they're actually done.

I started out thinking this pair would go to my mom for her birthday in March but they fit me perfectly (like a glove, heh) and her hands are bigger than mine.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Progress Report: Komi mittens

This week I've been working on a mitten from Mostly Mittens using Kroy 4-ply sock yarn on size 1 (2.50 mm) needles. I just put the thumb sts on scrap yarn so I paused to take photos of my progress.

This is the front... or is it the back? They're identical so the mitten can be worn on either hand. Now that I think about it I could have made the knitting easier by doing a 1x1 checkerboard on the palm.

The bottom half of the thumb gusset

The not-thumb side, which neatly avoids the color jog

Friday, February 04, 2005

mismatch socks and thank you cards and ramblings

All right, my only knitting output in January 2005 was this:

Two socks? That's sad. And they're not even a matching pair because one sock is a toe-up short row heel and the other is a cuff-down standard rounded heel. Who knows when I'll get around to knitting their mates, maybe in a month or two or five.

Anyway, in January I needed a break after the mad shawl knitting of October - December 2004 but now I'm now ready to try something new. My first thought was a Starmore sweater but there's the issue of yarn...

I've stocked up on ideas thanks to the library. Three weeks ago I brought home Mostly Mittens, Folk Mittens, and Starmore's Aran Knitting. They've been sitting on the floor next to my comfy chair but they're due back Tuesday so I better figure out what I want to make before someone slaps a hold on the book I need to renew.

Mostly Mittens has an unfortunate title but I like the book better than Folk Mittens, it has beautiful (though somewhat repetitive) patterns based on designs of the Komi people in Russia. I've seen a lot of lovely traditional Folk Mittens type mittens in blogs but the Komi designs are different enough so they manage to look fresh and intriguing.

Comments Ketchup

Stephanie asked: The question I now have is with all those variations on Cast-ons, I've yet to see much in the way of bindoffs - is there really just the one method?? (I ask because I have issues with bound off edges that aren't real stretchy)

I've compiled a list of stretchy bind-offs here. Some work better than others but I didn't take notes so all I remember about the experiment is that my favorite is Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn cast-off.

Kathen wrote an excellent review of her KnitMaster set in the comment section of my last post. Thank you so much!

It's very interesting to hear about the metal bits that are supposed to be on the KnitMaster cables. The needles twist into the cables and they stick quite securely with a seamless join so it didn't seem like anything was missing. Hmmm. The rubber cable itself is gripping the needle and it's a tight fit, which is what made me wonder if the cables ever split at this pressure point. Maybe my kit was an early version and the metal bits were added later or they might have been yanked out by the previous owner. These sets pop up on ebay so I should email sellers and ask them about any metal pieces.

Kathen asked: Is that Needlemaster Kit yours? How does it work? I always thought it would be way better than the Knitmaster, but I am only presuming this 'cause it cost over twice as much!

You can buy a Boye NeedleMaster at AC Moore or Michael's using one of their 40/50% off coupons, usually found in the Sunday paper ads. Their regular price is $70.00 so with a coupon you get a great deal. So, is the NeedleMaster worth buying to have as a second interchangeable set? Probably not, especially if you've never found the KnitMaster lacking. I suspect the NeedleMaster would be a lot more popular if the needles weren't aluminum.

Maybe this will help, I wrote the following a couple weeks ago and posted it in a knitting forum (someone asked for my opinion since I have both sets).

pro: lightweight resin material, you can do the magic loop (buy a 40" cord, sold separately), lifetime warranty

con: if you're a tight knitter then the size 5 might not work that great due to the thickness of the cord (sts have to be shoved along and then over the join), only has sizes 5-15, not everyone likes the plastic/resin material, parts do break sometimes (and the lifetime warranty will only last as long as the family-owned company remains in business).

BOYE NeedleMaster:
pro: sizes 2-15, spare parts can be bought in some craft stores, thin cord so there's no problem with sts sliding along it

con: some complain that the needles unscrew from the cords but I have never had this problem, the metal needles are heavy especially in the larger sizes, the cords are rather stiff which is fine for regular knitting but it doesn't lend itself to magic looping, not everyone likes the aluminum material.

If I had an unlimited amount of money I'd buy Addi Turbo circs in every size, every length. They are my favorite needles, neither interchangeable set comes close.

I can't recall my parents ever making me write a thank you note which is baffling if you ask me. At some point in my teenage years it seemed like the obvious thing to do, so I started sending out thank you cards after my birthday. This is where I falter and likely offend Miss Manners: I thank people for my Christmas and birthday gifts in the same note. Well, they're only 13 days apart, there has to be one perk to having a birthday so close to 12/25. This year I managed to drop them in the mail so they'd be delivered before the end of January. My Dad (of all people) actually sent an email asking "How did you do that?" I was tickled that he asked.

Why Dad, it was the magic of embossing powder! And colored pencils on black paper, always a nice effect.