Saturday, March 5, 2016

Husband Hat, a.k.a Gauge Hell

I have been slowly driving myself insane trying to knit a hat in "sport-weight" yarn for my husband. He has hinted that he wants something like a watch cap. I am using Brown Sheep Nature-Spun Sport, and started out with a pattern that I had in my Ravelry Queue which looked like a good, basic hat for a man. Problem: no gauge is given for the pattern, so even though I dutifully knitted a gauge swatch, it didn't do any good, because I had nothing to compare it to. Even though the yarn is labeled "sport-weight", it is very thin, and the wraps per inch are well within the fingering-weight range. I was using US#1 (2.5mm) needles, as recommended. All should have been well. I was so confident, I cast on 160 stitches, and knit about 3 rows. I know that rib will shrink it up a bit, but right now, it looks like it will be way too big, and I am tired of making hats that turn out too big. My knitter's spidey-sense is telling me this is TOO MANY STITCHES!!! So, I did a search on Ravelry to see if anyone else commented on this pattern in this regard (or mentioned their gauge) and did not find any. I am just not looking forward to knitting row after row of gray 2X2 rib for hours, only to find that it is the wrong damn size! So, I found this other pattern today, The 8-Trick Pocket Hat, which has a gauge of 12 sts. per 2", which is my gauge. And it has stripes, so I could use another color to break up the monotony. Of course, the recommended yarn is DK, but at least that is closer to sport weight than fingering. And I want to learn the 8 tricks!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bleak HouseBleak House by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this on free classic literature audiobook podcast It was extremely good, and I had been so reluctant to read or listen to this book for years.  The title is so depressing, and also the PBS Series years ago starring Diana Rigg as Lady Dedlock, where she is all in black, just gave me the creeps.  I love Diana Rigg, but something about the combination of Victorian law courts and people being cheated out of their inheritances just sounded so horrible, I didn't want to go there.

But there is so much more to this book.  It is not all doom and gloom.  It is a complex novel, rich with story lines and amusing, lovable and horrible characters.  As always, Heather Ordover (the podcaster) does a great job of giving an intro to each chapter, and the narrator is almost unbelievably good in the multiple voices she had to perform for this novel.  I highly recommend listening to it on Craftlit.  Even if you don't do any crafts, you can skip that part because she gives a "book talk starts at" time so you can fast forward over the craft segment.  This book was part of the "premium content" of the podcast, not the free content, but you can also buy it separately at the Crafting-a-Life shop.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wavy Feathers Wimple

This was on the needles for a long time, almost 2 years.  I put too many beads in it, which made it slow knitting, and I think it would have been much more fun and quicker without the beads.  But it was for a friend who really likes beads and shiny things.  She's like a crow.  It's the Wavy Feathers Qiviut Wimple pattern from Caryll Designs.  I didn't make it with Qiviut, though.  I used Louet Kid-Lin, which is a strand of Kid Mohair and a strand of Linen plied loosely together.  Similar to Rowan Kidsilk Haze, only not as fluffy.   It's a very nice yarn, though.  The two fibers together create a lovely texture, and the linen is shiny enough alone to give it a kind of pearlescent look.  I would definitely use it again.  The lace pattern was fairly easy, and pretty in this yarn.  I would definitely knit this again, only without the beads.  It's good for people who don't like to wear hats, because it doesn't smoosh your bangs or give you "hat hair" but still provides some warmth.  I used 2 skeins, had about 1/3 skein left over.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Just finished another pair of socks.   The pattern is "Sugar Maple" from Melissa Morgan-Oates' book  2-At-A-Time Socks.  I was a bit worried that the mini-cables would not be stretchy enough, but they actually fit very well.  I accidentally started off with a regular 2-by-2 rib for the first inch of the cuff, then when I realized my mistake, I just kept going, because it goes with the pattern stitch, which is a 2-by-2 cable.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back to Spinning

First skein of plied Cotswald
I had some time off this week, and I decided to do some spinning.  Picking up where I left off at the Tour De Fleece last summer, I did some combing of the dyed Cotswald.  It was nice combing the pretty colors together to make a nice purple blend.  My favorite color.

First skein of Merino
Then, I had to get some of the problematic Merino off the bobbins to make room for more Cotswald, since it has to be plied and I have various different yarns on all 4 bobbins.  I had Merino on 2 bobbins, but not in equal amounts, and it definitely needs to be plied, so I decided to spin a bit more of the Merino so that I could ply those 2 together to free up bobbins.  I still had some Merino left that was already combed, so away I went.  I am trying not to be too much of a perfectionist this time.  The Merino has some nepps in it, because I processed it myself, which I have mentioned in previous posts.  But when spun up, it really isn't too bad and it is fun to spin.  It spins very fine, and is super-soft.  I would stop from time to time to let it ply back on itself, and it looks pretty good plied, so I was hoping it would encourage me to ply it and see the results.

When I had roughly equivalent amounts on 2 bobbins, I began plying.  I found that some of the plied sections looked very good, and others did not.  Being still new at Merino spinning, which is kind of an "advanced" wool, some sections were thinner than others.  Some sections did not have enough twist to really ply together well.  I also think that this is one yarn that really would be better as a 4 ply, since it is so thin, and in 4 plies the inconsistencies might even themselves out a bit more.  But it might not be so bad.  It has been resting on the bobbin for a couple of days, and I will probably wind it off with the niddy-noddy today and see how it looks relaxed, plus how many yards I have so far.
I weighed the combed Cotswald before spinning, which I plan to do from now on, to increase the chances of having equal lengths on 2 bobbins for plying.  I normally just eyeball it, and they are never equal.  I was surprised to see that one combed "nest" is about .25 oz.  I spun 4 of them, and it didn't even half fill the bobbin, so my plan is to do 2 oz. per bobbin, then ply.  I am trying to be consistent, as I have a lot of the Cotswald left to spin.  I still have no idea what I will make with it.  I will have to see how much I have in the end.  It's very glossy.  Right now I am just enjoying the process, and glad I finally got back to spinning again.

Dyeing Cotswald Fleece Sun Yellow

Years ago, I took a fantastic weekend spinning class at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine.  Among other things, we learned to blend colors on a drum carder.  We took fleece that had been dyed primary colors:  garish-looking red, blue and yellow, but when blended on the drum-carder, they made lovely heathered blends.  I left with a copy of the book Color In Spinning by Deb Menz.  Years later, I was traveling up to that neck of the woods, so I stopped by.  I bought 3 colors of their Wash Fast Acid Dyes, some Glauber's Salt, Ammonium Sulfate and Synthrapol.   A good basic beginner's dye kit, or so I thought.  I was planning to blend colors, having bought a red, blue and yellow that looked closest to primary colors of all the jars.  They were:  Magenta, Bright Blue and Sun Yellow.

I dyed some Cotswald with the magenta, and it turned out more like fuschia or neon pink.  One of my favorite colors, so though it was not what it looked like in the jar, I was still happy.  The blue, however, came out like an electric blue, which I guess matches the neon pink, but I was not sure what I was going to do with these crazy colors!  I tried blending them on the drum carder, and didn't really like the results.  I tried blending them in various amounts, but was not happy with the results.  I set it aside for awhile.  I had nobody to consult on what to do.  The internet community for fiber arts we have now did not exist, and I was not near any Fiber Studio or Guild, so I was basically on my own for problem-solving at that time.  Plus, I work full-time, and life intervenes frequently in my pursuit of various crafts.

In Summer 2010, for the Tour De Fleece, I wanted to de-stash some of my fiber.  I finally got the bright idea of blending on fiber combs.  I own some Viking Combs, but I have not used them much, so I had kind of forgotten about them.  Sometimes, I can be really dense.  Well, that turned out to be the key to it all.  You need to use the right tools for the job.  Cotswald fleece has very long and silky locks, which should be combed, not carded.  The results of some of that can be seen in my post from Tour De Fleece 2010.

However, I had yet to try the Sun Yellow.  I had often thought of that while working with the pink and blue fiber, wondering if blending the yellow with electric blue would make a nice green.  So this week, I hunted out all my dyeing equipment (the dyepot was finally found after much searching, under a rolled-up Kilim carpet which needs hanging).   Luckily, I had made notes from before on what I did, so it was fairly easy to repeat the process.  Since I will be blending this yellow with existing, highly-saturated shades, I decided to use the same strength of dye I used last time:  2 tsp. dye powder per 1 lb. of wool. 

Yellow is not my favorite color, which is probably why I did it last.  I don't wear yellow, for one thing.  But it is good for blending.  Also, as I was mixing the dye solution and preparing the wool for the dye bath, I thought  that yellow is really a good color for Spring.  The daffodils are out right now.  The dye solution even looked like Easter Egg dye.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

February Lady Sweater

I finished this in December 2010, but did not have a photo of myself wearing it until recently. I have worn it a few times, and am very happy with it, especially the color and warmth. Photos don't really do this yarn justice. It is so beautiful. It's the February 2010 yarn share from Romney Ridge Farm. It's a garter-stitch yoke, knit from the top down, and if I make one of these again, I will definitely tweak the fit of the yoke, as that is the one thing that is a bit off, but not enough to stop me from wearing it. I just knit the pattern as written, when a lot of people have published tweaks for it. My only change was to add a 4th button, which I don't think it really needed, but I'm glad I did, because these buttons were in packs of 2, and I really, really like them.  Here is the Ravelry Link, which has more details if you are interested. 
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