Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Easter egg dying fun—with yarn

What other fun can you have with Easter egg dyes?? Try dying some yarn! It was so easy and the dyes were already mixed for the eggs. I used the good old standard PAAS dye kit. 
Wool yarn hand dyed with a PAAS egg coloring kit.
I experimented with some yarn that was handy—a white and a yellow, 100% wool, worsted weight. On-line resources did not recommend using this dye with plant fiber yarn (like cotton). Here are the results... lovely, springtime, jelly bean, cotton candy... Easter egg colors.
The small butterflies of yarn show the standard colors of the dye tablets—yellow, orange, pink, green, blue and purple. I did not do any color mixing. They look just like the eggs, yes?? The darker orange hank (second from the left) started off as a golden yellow yarn. The other three were white. All yarns were pre-soaked in a water/vinegar bath to get the correct pH. The dye was batched (fixed) with steam in the microwave.

What fun and soooo easy. So, run down to your local drug store, dollar store or grocery to pick up a couple PAAS dye kits at 50% off clearance prices.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Shibori Easter eggs

This Easter, we got even more creative with the Easter egg dying. Actually, my DH had read about a resist dying technique (aka Shibori) in the newspaper recently and retrieved various rubber bands from the junk drawer to experiment.
So, in addition to the standard baseball eggs (third row, far right, yellow egg) and the baseball player (second row far left), there were Shibori resist dyed eggs.

See front row eggs (left to right):
1) green/orange stripe: orange dyed egg, rubber band wrap, then overdyed in green
2) orange/lavender: rubber band wrap dyed in purple, re-wrapped and overdyed in orange
3) blue: yarn wrapped and rubber band wrap
4) green/yellow: yellow dyed, then rubber band wrapped with a wide and narrow band and overdyed in green.

He also experimented with a plastic netting that produced a modest resist with a subtle speckled effect. A few solid colored eggs, eggs with hand drawn designs in crayon (wax resist method) and a few chocolate eggs rounded out this year's Easter basket. Thanks, Easter Bunny!

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Earth Day recycling opportunity

Earth Day reminds us to reuse, re-purpose and recycle. But, it doesn't have to be all about washing out aluminum cans and milk jugs, bundling newspapers or going through closets to discard clothes that no longer fit or are not fashionable. I picked up this hank of a yarn made from recycled blue jeans this past weekend at Stitches South. It's called Riveting, by Kollage Yarns.
There are 9 different Riveting colors (no pun intended), but in the vendor mall, this one (Dusk Denim) seemed closest to the color of my comfortable faded favorites. The gauge is 26 sts/32 rows = 4" on a US #4 at 350 yards per hank. The fiber content 95% cotton and 5% other, and is 100% recycled yarn with 80% post consumer. I'll have to find just the right project for this earth friendly yarn. What do you think—a cowl, skinny scarf, something in lace, a pattern stitch? Kollage offers these pattern suggestions. [a new window may open behind this window, or here is the link: http://www.kollageyarns.com/patterns_in_cat.php?catid=50.]

Another yarn made from recycled knit fabrics left over from Europe's ready-to-wear industry is Remix by Berroco. Gaia, a short sleeve cardi designed by Kristen TenDyke, is a Free Pattern that showcases this yarn.

So, green up your knitting, support the repurposing efforts of the fiber industry and create something comfortable and environmentally-friendly... in blue, green, natural or whatever color makes you feel good!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kitchener stitch variations

Grafting and the Kitchener Stitch was the topic of the demonstration and discussion in my Lace Knitting sampler class this week. The story goes that the Kitchener Stitch is named after a British field marshal, Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, who, through the Red Cross, promoted the knitting of socks and other items for WWII soldiers. He requested socks constructed without a bulky seam or ridge at the toe which would cause discomfort to a soldier's feet. A sock pattern with a grafted toe was [supposedly] designed by and thus named after him. Whether true or not, it's a quaint little tale.
Lace Knitting students with their lace sampler scarves.
What came out of the class discussion about this grafting technique, however, was an excellent question on the difference between grafting in stockinette vs. garter. I checked my copy of "The Knitting Answer Book," and lo and behold, the information was there. There is a slight variation to the sequence of steps (and for reverse stockinette as well) among these patterns for an invisible join that blends with the surrounding pattern. For those familiar with the technique, here is a cheat sheet.

Stockinette set-up: Purl front leave. Knit back leave.
Sequence: Knit front drop. Purl front leave. Purl back drop. Knit back leave.
End: Knit. Purl.

Reverse Stockinette set-up: Knit front leave. Purl back leave.
Sequence: Purl front drop. Knit front leave. Knit back drop. Purl back leave.
End: Purl. Knit.

Garter set-up: Purl front leave. Purl back leave.
Sequence: Knit front drop. Purl front leave. Knit back drop. Purl back leave.
End: Knit. Knit.

So, whether it's socks, shoulders, or fingertips, here's a salute to Lord Kitchener for a seamless ending. Happy Knitting!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Knitting, swatching and snoozing

We had another glimpse of Spring yesterday as the temperature reached the 70s and the sun smiled on all the flora and greenery in the back yard. It was a relaxing afternoon to enjoy the outdoors, and prepare the swatches I need for upcoming classes.
We're going to cover the Kitchener stitch in my Lace Knitting class this evening. My students are working on a lace sampler scarf and will be joining live stitches from both halves of the scarf. The other swatches are in preparation for classes I will be taking at Stitches South in a few weeks.
I also completed a sample for a new class on Knitting in the Round (another request from my knitting students). This is a modified pattern inspired by Louisa Harding's Poppy Beanie. It's an adorable and retro beanie style hat—reminiscent of the 1920s cloche. The beanie and its flower embellishment have several fun techniques for knitters of all levels. I am converting it to be knit in the round for my class. It will be a good intro project for learning how to maneuver double pointed needles (dpns) and a circular needle. Stay tuned for more information on this class...

And, here is the "extra kitty" who was snoozing away the afternoon. He is a neighborhood cat who has more-or-less adopted us.

Try to relax, kitty.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mystery Knit Along—Clue 3

Here is the progress of the Mystery scarf after Clue #3 was issued. The cables are offset—due to the short rows—and create a cobblestone-like texture. (Don't you just want to run your fingers across this?) Instructions from one last clue will complete this project.
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