19 August 2014

This Week's Challenges

knit...
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Still working away on my Kennedy sweater.  I finished the body quickly because I love the cabled design so much!  Now I'm slogging through the sleeves, knitting them two-at-a-time definitely helps!

spin...
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Halfway done with the singles for my Black Jacob 3-ply.  My favorite aspects of this fiber are the smell and the natural color of it.  I think I'll be buying more next time I visit New England!

career...
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Thursday I have a graduate school milestone that I have been preparing to face for the last couple of months.  If all goes well and I pass I'll be an official PhD candidate and be able to continue my studies.  I'm nervous and even a little panicky, but stolen moments with fiber and nutritious, homecooked meals prepared by my boyfriend are keeping me sane.

How do you motivate yourself during challenging periods in your life?

15 August 2014

Cinnie Cardigan

A few weeks ago I bound off this little cardigan and as I did so I remembered how throughly enjoyed the process of knitting it.

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The pattern is Cinnie by Bonne Marie Burns, the long version, because I'm not a huge fan of shrugs.  The lace charts were highly addictive and surprisingly easy to memorize.  This pattern just made sense to me, clicked nicely at each step along the way.

You may notice that the bottom front of the cardigan is a little tight and pulls up, this is my curse, I can never get those edges where you have to pick up a certain number of stitches quite right.  It's just something I will have to work on!  I'm certain that some persuasive blocking might help me out here.

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The yarn is Berroco Vintage dk, a yarn that I have always enjoyed working with.  It was great for the stitch definition required to really make this pattern shine.  Although, I think that if I were to knit this cardigan again (and believe me, I do), I would pick a slightly more crisp yarn, maybe a cotton/wool blend to really bring that lace out.

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I'm happy that I'm finishing this cardigan just in time for Fall!

13 August 2014

Dyeing Fiber with Tea II

One of my most popular blog posts and memorable projects was when I dyed fiber with tea a few years ago.  The end product was a gentle color that I have admired every time I've seen it while digging around in my stash.

In addition to having that naturally dyed skein brightening my stash, I had a skein that had the exact opposite effect on me.  It was the result of a past food dye experiment that did not yield very impressive results.  I thought the colors were too light and bland, and almost every time I saw that skein I would think "Someday I'll do something with you, poor little guy".

Lately I've been stockpiling used tea bags and freezing them.  It took me a while to get a substantial number saved because I prefer loose leaf tea, but the other day I decided that it was finally time to put them to good use.

I followed pretty much the same exact method as I did last time, starting with soaking the yarn in a 1:3 white vinegar to water solution.  The colors actually appear much darker here than when they are dry.

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Then I added ~30 used tea bags (most of them were generic black teas) to boiling water and let them sit until the water was saturated.

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The base yarn was Knit Picks Bare Merino DK, which really dyes well and has an excellent texture following the process, I love working with it.

I removed the tea bags and added my yarn... 

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...and ended up with this!  I think it is a huge improvement, the colors are more rich and have a delicate gradient.  The best part of this was, it took very little time and effort for such a wonderful effect.  I'm very pleased with it.

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Now that skein won't be pitied anymore and I'm already dreaming of what I'll knit with it!

Do you have any yarn in your stash that just doesn't appeal to you very much?

11 August 2014

New Skills - Weaving

Recently, I was inspired to order a small frame loom.  This inspiration stemmed from many sources, particularly A Beautiful Mess' weaving class.  The second I saw their simple designs and use of texture, I knew that was a perfect way to use and display scraps of handspun yarn.  And believe me, I have quite a few little skeins that I want to use creatively.

I decided to go simple and purchase the Lap Loom A from Harrisville Designs.  I was interested to learn that this vendor is actually a small, family-owned spinnery in New Hampshire, US.  I've been lucky enough to visit an industrial spinnery before and they are really fascinating.  I'm already making plans with my mother to visit this Fall.

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The construction of the loom is very sturdy and minimalist, which is how I prefer my tools.  It also came with some of Harrisville Designs' yarns, which were well suited for learning with.

Once I got the hang of the process (not shown here), I picked out some little bits of handspun to experiment with.  Each of the fiber types works differently in this context, so I picked some 100% silk (pink/purple/black), black jacob wool (brown), and a mix of merino and several plant fibers (blue/green) among others.

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I still have a few tension and consistency issues, but it's such a relaxing process.  I love watching the strands pile up on each other and seeing how the different fiber concentrations work together.

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I'm not the only one jumping into this new world, Evelyn (Project: Stash) recently started weaving as well, her work is gorgeous!