June 27, 2013


I managed to jinx myself in one of my last posts by stating that I was managing to stay caught up with my mini-KAL. I fell behind last week and didn't finish Segment 2 as I was supposed to by last Sunday, so I stalled poor Sam.  She told me she'd wait for me, even though I insisted she continue.  I have a couple of "waiting around forever" activities the next couple of days, and I know I can catch up.  Stinks to be nearly a week behind, though.

In other KAL news, the Mean Girls Yarn Club (to which I currently belong) is having a KAL that starts July and ends in August that seems like something I can manage.  We can use any pattern we want, we just have to use yarn that came from the club.  We can also do more than one project if we're feeling spiffy.  I plan on making another monster, and if I manage to get that done in decent time, I might go ahead and try to make something else (to be determined).  I'll have to start scrounging through my queue and favorites to see what could work with DK and fingering weights.  I know the fingering section of my favorites is a little...full, so there's potential there.

June 20, 2013

Color Choices

When I cruise through patterns and projects on Ravelry, I am often amazed by the colors people have chosen for their projects.  I wish I knew the secret codes of how they come up with their color combinations.

For example, one of my favorite projects EVER, is this pair of mittens by Ravelry user helloyarn (I'm pretty sure I've posted about these before, back on the Fiber Freaks blog).  Seriously.  I would never have thought to use a bright turquoise and a purple together, but it looks AMAZING.

There are several Truckee Shawlettes I adore, but one of my favorites is this one by Ravelry user Honeybee52; the contrasting colors are excellent!

And then, there's the Color Affection projects, of which I have many favorites (like this one, this one, and this one).

I understand that a lot of this (magical) ability is an understanding of color theory.  So many of my crafty passions require the use/knowledge/understanding of color theory (cake decorating, knitting, make-up), that you would think I would get it, but apparently not.  I am still constantly befuddled.

Awesome color theory poster by Nathan Bilbao.
I've read articles and watched YouTube videos all about color theory, but its still not clicking.  If anyone has any tips, I would love the help!  I'd like to (re-)try fair isle knitting again someday, and having a better grasp of color choices would definitely help.  Plus, now that I'm interested in dyeing, color mixing really does need to creep into my brain, or I might end up with some not-so-pretty results.

June 18, 2013

Brief Knit-Along Ponderings

Sam and I are both halfway through Segment 2 of the Truckee Shawlette, so this week will be devoted to finishing the remaining four repeats of that section.  Progress is steady, which is always nice.

I'm glad we're doing our own little mini-KAL, because I've always wanted to participate in one.  I haven't before because I have always worried that my tendency to be a slacker would put me too far behind and I wouldn't finish, etc. etc.  However, having deadlines/goals is actually helping my productivity--who knew? (hee!) 

I do wonder if part of my motivation is because if I don't stay caught up with Sam, she'll wait for me before she continues, and I would feel bad for slowing down her groove.  This would of course not happen in an actual KAL (the waiting); but I guess the only way for me to see if I could do a big KAL would be to just try it!

June 14, 2013

Adventures in Dyeing: Take 1

Last weekend proved to be very productive, knitting-wise.  I'm through the gusset and heel of my first Raphaelite Sock, and I caught up with Sam for our Truckee Shawlette KAL.  I also managed to fit in my first dyeing attempt.

I've had a cake of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in the colorway Springer sitting around for a millenia.  I had originally purchased (and wound) it with the idea of making some kind of scarf or hat for a friend's daughter.  At the time, she was too young for a scarf, and then the yarn was forgotten, and then it so happened that those folks became people I won't knit for.  So...I had a ball of pastel yarn I would never use.

After my friend Rachel posted pics of her Kool-Aid dyeing attempts, and I read a little about the process and discovered you could also use food coloring (which I have a ton of), I knew the time had come for me to try dyeing things myself.  At first I considered getting bare/white yarn from somewhere, but after reading through threads on the What A Kool Way to Dye group on Ravelry, I realized that I could dye OVER yarn that was already colored.  Light bulb moment--my first dyeing attempt could be FREE--I could just practice on yarns I already had in my stash that I didn't like the colors of. Yay!

As previously mentioned, I had Springer in a cake already, so my first job was to put it back into a hank.

Super high-tech on the legs of a chair.

Then I whipped up a dye bath.  Since I was over-dyeing the whole thing, I did the immersion method of putting water in a pot and mixing the dye/food coloring into that.  I wanted a pinky-purple, since Springer had some pink/purple tones already (plus we all know I love purple).  I used Americolors Electric Purple and Violet gels; since they're not drippy, but globby, I mixed them with a small amount of warm water in a glass to be sure all the color got mixed in before putting it in the dye bath.

Just hit the dye bath and already it looks better.

Then I cooked my yarn!  I let it simmer until the dye bath started to clear, then turned off the heat and let it sit.

Clear dye bath!  Yay!

After it got cool to touch, I rinsed it out in a colander and let it hang to dry.  At first I was worried it was too bright, but now I rather like it.

As you can see, I missed some spots, and some of the original color is still present. Happily, I think this will actually make it knit up in an interesting way...we shall see! All in all, I'm pleased with my dyeing experience. I didn't realize how much of the food coloring I'd actually use, though. I may buy some McCormick's to use rather than my fancy Americolors. Or just try Kool-Aid next time!

June 12, 2013

Podcasty update

I've been listening to a lot of knitting podcasts again, mainly because they help keep me motivated.  I do most of my listening at work because I'm currently alone in the laboratory, plugging away on sorting and boxing up artifacts (whee!).  It's nice and peaceful (for a change), but sometimes even I get sick of the silence. 

However, I am getting mildly frustrated because I've noticed that the podcasts that do reviews all tend to do the same review at around the same time.  I can only hear so many reviews about, for example (because its the latest case), Handmade in the U.K. by Tin Can Knits before it makes me want to throw something. (That said, there are some super cute patterns in that e-book.  I love the Loch mittens, especially.)

Anyway, I previously listed several podcasts that I'd been listening to and enjoying, and I still listen to all of them, though I've taken to listening to only selected episodes of Talkin' Toons and Nerdist.  I've added several (both knitting and non-knitting) to my lineup; if you're interested in what in the world those might be, take a peek below!

Have a podcast to recommend?  Just leave me a comment--I'm always interested in new ones!

June 9, 2013

Hurray for Progress!

So far, all is on schedule for the mini-KAL.  Sam and I both finished Segment 1 of the Truckee Shawlette, and will be moving on to Segment 2 this upcoming week, though we still aren't quite sure how to break that segment up.  Our original plan was to do 4 of the 8 repeats, but then we realized that not only are we going to be increasing stitch counts, but there are four rows for each color instead of just two.  So...we're sort of playing that one by ear.

Truckee Shawlette in progress.  Yay, stripes!
In other news, I've also been plugging away on my Raphaelite socks--shocking, I know.  I'm currently working through the gusset increases of sock #1 (the sock is toe-up).  My sock progress will likely slow down as the Truckee Shawlette gets bigger.

Most of a sock!  I might get these done by November.

June 8, 2013

Things are well in my (organizational) universe again.

Last weekend, I cleaned my knitting space.  I just couldn't take it anymore.

I can now breathe easily again.

I still haven't figured out what to do with my circulars.  I liked the "pencil pouches in a 3-ring binder" idea (I'm a fan of binders, if you couldn't tell from the picture above), but the hunt for pencil pouches at stores just after schools have gone on summer vacation was (unsurprisingly) unsuccessful.  However, it appears Amazon sells them pretty cheaply (i.e. this pack of 24  for $32).  I'm debating on whether I should wait until August for Back to School sales, or buy them now and satisfy my I-need-it-now inner child/OCD.

Still not as pretty as I would like.
For now, the circulars are living in their original small ziplocks, in some semblance of order.

Riffling through my needle bin also made me realize that I have a bunch of bamboo needles that will likely need a new home.  Now that I'm a full-on metal needle lover, I doubt I'll use them much in the future.

Besides organizing the bin mess, I also organized my FO binder.  It's basically Ravelry in written/scrapbook form, in case the apocalypse happens and the internet dies*.  I used the knitting journal pages from Kathryn Ivy to record project info, then stuffed my pattern/notes/yarn band behind it.  I like it a lot, though already I know I'm going to have to get a thicker binder to expand.  The project pages aren't as detailed as my Ravelry, but I tried to include all the most important information (again, in case of catastrophe).

The only thing I'm dissatisfied with (besides the circulars), are what the blazes to do with my yarn scraps.  I know a lot of people are using their sock yarn to knit hexipuffs for the BeekeepersQuilt, but I have no interest.  Does anyone know of a creative storage idea for them?

My current organizational scheme involves large ziplocks.  Classy.

Some may have enough yardage left to actually make another project...I should weigh them all and figure out what I actually have left.  Guess I know what my next organizational project is!

*Because of course I'll care about my FOs when the world ends.

June 3, 2013

Just a little KAL

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Sam and I wandered into our LYS (Jimmy Beans Wool), and saw a simple, but beautiful, shawl/scarf hanging up on display.  We inquired as to the pattern (it was the Truckee Shawlette) and what yarn was used (Malabrigo Lace/Silkpaca), and then discovered that it was actually knit by our friend Rachel!  Figures--she makes all the pretty things.

At any rate, both of us have been thinking about that project for WEEKS, and finally last week after we'd had lunch at a restaurant very close to the shop I suggested we stop by.  It did not take much convincing, and within 30 minutes both Sam and I had yarn and a plan to have our own little KAL.

As previously mentioned, the pattern is the Truckee Shawlette, which is a free pattern by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich (via JBW).  Sam will be using Malabrigo Silkpaca in Vaa and Arco Iris; I'll be using Malabrigo Lace Superwash in Polar Moon and Lavanda.

My purples--Polar Moon (L) and Lavanda (R)

We're starting today, so anyone that wants to join us (last minute, sorry) is welcome!  We don't have a full plan of attack quite yet; we're sort of playing it by ear (or feel?)  This week our goal is to work through the set up and Pattern Segment #1.