Knitting Medley

Knitting Medley

I am not going to sugar coat it people, I’ve knitted a bit on my rainbow socks and put a few more rows on Paul’s socks. Mostly our house has been completely taken over with the preparations for the Creativ Festival this weekend.

CF Spring 2015 03

We are going to be in booth #276 at Mississauga International Centre; Friday 10-7 and Saturday 10-6. This is our first year at the Creativ Festival and I am super excited about it!

CF Spring 2015 02

There is a lot of work being done to make sure all the yarn is labeled and the stitch markers are strung! I am also giving two lectures at the Creativ Festival this weekend so I have been polishing those up!

CF Spring 2015

Outside of small snatches of knitting here and there, I haven’t had any really good chunks of time to get several inches done. Paul’s sock is getting along, I am really happy with how it is turning out, I think it will be a good fit for him. I’ll just have to copy it for the second sock to make sure they’re the same size.

Paul's Socks MA April 2015 02

I am making a few plans for what I am going to knit after the show. My grandmother’s sweater is, of course, on my mind, but I will also start a sweater for myself too. I am due for something other than socks. Don’t get me wrong, I love socks; but there are only so many times you can write about socks. I’ve been dancing around with the idea of trying Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter pattern maker. It seems like a really great idea and I am going to try it eventually. I might as well try it sooner rather than later!

Playing Around with Colours

I mentioned a last week that I was going to be doing some experiments with yarn I began to play around with self-striping colours. While I was dyeing, I decided to try something a little bit, out there.

Dye Experiment 04152015

I’ve been sticking with a two or three colours pallet, because it is a bit easier than going all in and doing 1000 colours all at once. I am dipping my toe, not hurtling myself into the deep end. I dyed this skein, which when knit up should look similar to the Harry Potter scarves in the later movies (The Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix).

Harry Potter Scarf!

I haven’t even had time to knit a swatch of that to see if it works because I have been working on the two other pairs of socks I showed you last week… AND this pair.

Rainbow Sock 2 04152015

Yes that is right! Already done one sock! Look out world!!

Rainbow Socks 04152015

Upcoming!

The season for knitting shows is coming around! I guess I shouldn’t really say knitting shows, but crafting shows. Even when they are fiber festivals, we can’t leave out the crochet and spinning!

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I am happy to say that Stitch Please is signed up as a vendor for the Spring and Fall Creativ Festival! Not only will we be there vending, but I will be giving a couple lectures in Spring and teaching a couple classes in the fall! I have updated our upcoming events (in the sidebar). I will be putting in the web pages and relevant information as soon as they are properly announced!

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There are several other fiber festivals we are looking into attending, none have been properly booked yet, but if there are any in your area, please let us know! The next year is going to be very interesting with all the upcoming shows, but very exciting!

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If you follow us on Etsy, you will notice the HUGE update we did yesterday! We have 15 colours and all colours come in each different base. Until yesterday there were not photos of every base in every colour. With the help of Sara and Piotr (Thanks guys!!!) I was able to get all those skeins up on the shop! I feel much more complete having most of the colours up now!

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As always I welcome any questions, comments, suggestions, hints, proposals, presentations, statements, assertions, debates, dialogues, negotiations and possibly answers if you have them. If not, I am sure I could probably find some around here somewhere.

The Lowdown on Dye Lots

Since I am an indie dyer, I like to think I have some inside information on dye lots. There are a couple trains of thought with dye lots and matching up yarn, and with commercially dyed yarns this is an excellent idea. However, with hand dyed yarn, you have to be much more careful. Just because the dye lot is the same, doesn’t mean the colour is going to be exactly the same.

Cotton Candy and Diet Cotton Candy

I always suggest you use the time-tested method of switching skeins every other row when you are working with hand dyed skeins. Not only does this break up any unwanted colour pooling, but if the skeins are visually different, you will still get a fairly even colour. Hand dyed yarn is not perfect and that is part of the charm, every skein will be slightly different. Even when I knit socks from my own yarn, the patterning on each sock was totally different and it was from the same ball.

I kettle dye all my yarn, so the dye lots depend on several factors. One is the rate at which the yarn absorbs the dye. There are about a zillion factors included in this. If the yarn is closer to the bottom of the pot it gets darker, if you leave it in the pot longer it is darker. There are a lot of factors you can’t really control, but you can replicate them very closely. This might mean you get a couple skeins that are exactly the same colour or you get one that is much darker than the other. I have had two skeins from the same dye lot and they look very different. One happened to be near the bottom of the pot while dyeing and the other was nearer to the top. A majority of the dye absorbed into the bottom one because it was closer to the heat source and therefore set the dye much faster than the skein at the top of the pot.

Different Greens

Another really good photographic example are the Vampire Barbie socks I completed. They are from the same skein of yarn but look so very different. It could have been that my venison was a little tighter on one, or it could have been the dye, but the shafts of the socks were completely different!

VB Socks Different Pattern

Usually the hand dyed yarns are not a perfect solid colour, unlike commercially dyed yarns, they are more tonal which lends a bit of depth and character to a knitted garment. As a summary I would simply say, use your common sense and look at the yarn with an eye towards the colour. If they don’t look the same, see if there is one closer.

Silence is Golden but Duct Tape is Silver

Okay, I will admit that I did not actually USE Duct Tape, it would have left a mark. Liane and I have been trying to figure out the best possible way to skein things. The way we were doing it was A) not ergonomically correct at all. Seriously, while we were spinning the swift sometimes the bars holding the yarn would come up and hit our forearms. While this doesn’t sound particularly painful, I will assure you that it is not something you want to experience while you are turning a swift as fast as you can. B) the swift was slipping all over the table.

Swift 1

As we were turning the swift and it was sliding across the table. To stop the swift from sliding across the table I would put my hand on it but my hand wouldn’t be low enough and the next time the swift came around it would hit my knuckles. After I had finished cursing, I would try to wrangle something so it wouldn’t slide. I managed to get it between my knees so it wouldn’t slide as bad but it slipped out.

Swift 2

I finally got so frustrated that I used masking tape to attach it to the table. This worked great for about 10 seconds then the tape started coming off. Liane actually just started adding layers and layers of tape in an attempt to keep it on the table. This wasn’t working really well either, but it was keeping the swift on the table. I count that as a win.

Swift 4

Another modification we added was to add a pole to turn the swift. We drilled a hole in the leg of the swift so we could turn it and keep our forearms above the poles. This works really well, I wouldn’t go back on this for anything!
Lets hope it keeps going well, I will continue to keep you updated on the upgrades we keep doing to these swifts and hopefully they will be perfect.

Swift 3

Monday Mishaps: Tangled into a Nightmare

I have tried to get a lot of re-skeining done in the last little while, much easier said than done. For the most part it goes well and there aren’t a lot of problems, but for the one or two problems you do have… it totally washes out the rest of the success.

I have been eternally grateful to Liane, who has been coming over and helping me throughout the day. I hope she isn’t put off knitting by all the yarn tangles that happen while re-skeining; at least she will have a great grasp of how to untangle her own snags when they come along!

Huge Yarn

I am really dreading re-skeining of the Topaz and Amber Label yarn. These skeins were only tied twice instead of three times, so sorting them out for re-skeining is going to be a pain in the… er… lower back. Usually if they are tied three times, it keeps all the stranding running in the same direction. When there are only two ties, the strands can flip around and run counter to the rest of them. So while you have your skein on a swift and are unraveling it in a clock-wise fashion, some of the strands may need to be unraveled counter clock-wise. The swift really does not like going from clock-wise to counter clock-wise, at all.

Ultra Purple Tangle

This is where all the snags happen. It’s really not as simple as ‘the swift will just start turning the other way’. Usually all the strands of yarn run over and under one another; some gentile tugging in the right directions usually sorts it out if the skein isn’t too far gone. The overlapping strands just slide out of the way.

There are times when the strands running the wrong direction completely stop your original unwinding. They loop around that single strand and the only way to fix that is taking your freshly re-skeined yarn off the second swift and pass it though the loop. This will, of course, make your skein look scruffy and you will end up needing to re-skein again!

Purple Tangle 2

Instead of doing this, I sometimes just start balling the skein from the other end. The loose tail is not too hard to find and much easier to get around then the whole skein. This way the fresh skein stays on the swift and you can just skein the rest, from the ball.