Monday, July 30, 2007

Babywearing meets Knitting!

Remember this little number, knit a couple weeks ago? We were cleaning up on Saturday evening, in prep for a visit from Rob's parents and his aunt and uncle, visiting from England. We were in my room, and I threw on this wrap, mainly cause I didn't know where else to put it. Megan was playing around, and suddenly looked at me. She patted herself, and pulled me down to the floor. I sat on the floor trying to figure out what she wanted. She climbed on my lap and was trying to climb up me! Then I realized that she thought the wrap was a sling! We'd just started using a pouch again. She was rather upset when I showed her there was no way it could hold her! Back when she was a newborn, there was someone who knit pouches out of cotton....Tickle Turtle Pouches? I tried it on the knitting machine, using short rows to shape the curve. The knitted fabric needed no extra stretch room, making it tight to put on. It was hard to size it as it stretched quite a bit with her in it. A pouch made out of Patons Katrina would not be very good either, snazzy, but way too stretchy, LOL.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Green is the New Brown

Uh huh. Did you know that? Combining colours is not my fav thing to do, but I thought I could read at least.

It seems that if I find a pattern I like, I don't have the yarn. When I finally get new yarn, I can't find/remember/don't fit the patterns I wanted. One tank I have wanted to make for awhile is the 'W' tank from (look it up in the archives heading, choose 'tanks' from the drop down menu). It's really clever, sideways, short-rows, garter st vs stockinette st. Not something that would be easily altered, at least not without knitting it the way it should be first. The yarn is 16st/4" and the one listed is 100% wool, handpainted, exclusive type yarn. Now, I know the nomads wear wool, but I don't think I want a chunky gauge tank top in 100% wool. Cotton would be okay (because of the stretch of garter st), but chunky weight cotton? It'd weigh a ton. A blend would be nice. But I can't find anything I like/afford/can buy here.

But I was dropping into Wal-Mart the other night, and can't not stop by the yarn row. I found ONE bag of three 100g balls of a yarn by some unknown Canadian company.

It's slightly textured, cream strand and a beige strand with a binder strand. A little boring, especially since the sideways nature of the W tank would be lost. It's cotton/viscose with about 15% acrylic. Perfect for dyeing with RIT type dyes!

So I drag the kids to the mall, to see if Zellers happened to have this yarn too (they had just re-arranged the store, not got rid of the yarn!). No, so off to the other end to the dollar store where they sell fabric dye. Tintex. That's a name brand, right? They had "Brown" which, although a little boring, was the best option. I bought another colour too that I thought might add some splashes of colour.

First thing, set up the giant skeins. A thing to do during Megan's nap time. Unfortunately she is sick and not sleeping much (day or night).

Obviously, I was not about to start dyeing until ALL the kids were in bed (and it took forever and some Motrin to get Megan asleep). I open the box, read the instructions. It says for colours like brown to use two boxes (doesn't say that on the OUTSIDE of the box). One box normally for 1lb (454g) of fiber, my yarn was 300g but I was only dyeing portions of it, so I figured I was safe. I tear open the packet and pour GREEN crystals into the pot. It's okay; brown is a mixture of many colours, maybe it's like blonde hair dye that goes on purple. Just to be certain, I hang a strand of white, 100% cotton over the edge. After awhile, it could pass for brown, but it shows green where it seeped up the yarn strand. The paper towel I rest it on turns green. I put the bits of yarn in. (Kind of looks like two long ponytails hanging over the edge, doesn't it?)

They turn green. I leave it, come back and stir now and then. Where it seeps up the wet yarn, it shows almost blue. After awhile I decide it's rinse time. Looked pretty green to me. But it's still wet, so what do I know. The box says 'Brown'.

I arrange the yarn again for a second dip in different spots. I leave it in extra long. It's getting late. Finally take it out, rinse out green water, and leave it draped over the divider in the sink and go to bed.

The dark green areas are from the first dip.Here, you can see a slight variation in colour/sheen between the cotton and viscose portions (I'm assuming the acrylic is the binder thread, but the yarn feels a little acrylicky). Hopefully a few more rinses and that'll show better.

I'm going to knit it up anyway. The garter stitch nature of the pattern will change how you feel about any yarn. However, I don't think even garter stitch will be able to make green turn brown. If I don't like it after knitted, I can re-dye the whole thing in the other colour I bought. What colour could that be?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Did you Hear That?

Did you hear it? About 8:30pm, Tuesday evening? A big, long, groan as I came to the conclusion that I would not have enough yarn to finish ANOTHER baby blanket attempt for Rob's co-worker?It's a square, using short rows. The blue is the waste yarn at the cast on. I need to make that last triangle at the top meet up with the blue. Uh huh. I had originally started with 45 sts and KP 35, but decided it would be too small and the gauge was too tight. So I went with KP 45 and 50sts. The gauge is much better, but it did come out a little big. I don't think though, that going back to 45 sts would have given me enough yarn to finish. I bought this bag of yarn several years ago at the Spinrite tent sale in Listowel. I have never seen it in Patons or Bernat's line up. I don't know if it was a trial yarn that never got marketed or what. They had it in shades of pale blue, pale green, and tan (which was a little orange). It's all chenille, the dark and light pink are thick, velvety, and the shiny light pink is much finer. At least now I can re-wind all the balls so that the colour striping will be the same direction for each ball!

So, another plan. I made this blanket back in the spring. Click that link and scroll down to see the issues I had near the end of the blanket! Last year I bought a GIANT skein of this Baby Sport from the Spinrite tent sale. It was $2 and was giant. Not like a skein of sock yarn, or a skein of Fleece Artist, it was probably 2' long (but very thick). It was originally about 2 lbs.The newborn baby sweater was made with the same colour, but from regular balls; just there to show comparison. If I had known how the colour repeats were going to work up in a blanket, I would have started it at a different point. You can see the blue outlined triangle near the bottom gets repeated further up. A little dizzy-ish when laid out like that, but not too bad in real life.
So anyway, I had started to crochet around it, but didn't know just how to finish it off. All my crochet books are British, and that leads to terrible confusion! I did a simple 5 tr shell and got it finished late last night. Washed it, dried it, and even gave it a steam with my new iron!. Kept me up a bit late last night, but I'm impressed at how quickly crocheting an edging can go. I think it took me only 2 months! LOL. Anyway, it is off to Rob's co-worker. Not the blanket I wanted to give, but then again, we're not friends or family. Rob has enjoyed working with her and wanted something to give her (besides the Moby D wrap I bought, and the pink and white pouch I made, because she apparently got 5 carriers at her shower recently. And I TOLD Rob back in May to take the Moby D in to her, but he wouldn't cause he was holding out for the blanket).

We're having quite a laugh in the Machineknitting group about headless knitters on the internet, and how we're known by our boobs. Since I've had my surgery, that's the internet knitter's equivalent of a face lift, LOL! For those of you who do really want to see my face, click on March 2007 in the archives, and scroll through the month. You'll find some pretty scary pictures of me!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yes, I Knit!

After the demise of the white baby blanket, I was feeling a little frustrated with my Singer 327. When I first got my first machine, I was making 'real' things right away. Maternity tank tops! I've had the Singer since the end of March, and what have I really finished? A pair of socks. One Angel Baby blanket that still needs edging. Swatches. Suddenly it seemed that every pattern I want to do is for the other machines. Or, none of my cones of yarn seem 'right'.

Then I thought about the tank pattern at The gauge is 7sts/inch, which I could have gotten in handknitting, or the LK150, or even the KnitSmart. But I have all these odd cones of fine yarn. I picked a green I didn't really like, and a very fine brown boucle. The green reminds me of old artificial Christmas trees.

Here's the amazing thing. The size large is to fit a 36" bust, finish size 38". I'm about a 39" bust right now. I TOTALLY forgot to do a test swatch! I casted on the 134 sts, and realized that I had no idea what size it would be or the tension to use. Based on my limited experience, I figured the tension in the pattern (8 1/3) would be too loose, so I went with 6 1/3.....I think, LOL. I figured the worse that could happen is that it would be see through and I'd rip it out.

It turned out to be 36" and has negative ease, but I like it. The boucle thread makes it look like it's gone fuzzy, from a distance.

but up close it's okay. I still don't care for the green, but the brown really helped to tone it down. It doesn't go with anything I bought recently (all shades of olive green), and my brown shorts are missing the waist clasp, but I MADE SOMETHING WEARABLE.

I decided to try another yarn, same pattern. I had a cone of a gold brown that I got from a Georgetown guild member who has/had knitting machines. She said it biased, so be careful what I make. I had done a swatch, and actually washed it. It did bias. The Yahoo group for machine knitting suggested running serger thread along with it. That seems to have worked!

You really can't see the thread, as the yarn had enough texture already. After washing, this yarn had fluffed up quite a bit in the swatch, but not so much with the tank. I may have also 'read' my swatch wrong and chose the wrong tension. But it still worked!

This time I added about an inch of short rows for the bust. I made the large size again, using T 8 1/3 like the pattern says. And, it's almost 40" so it's a much looser feel. Laying it here on the floor and it does not look nearly as long as it does in that picture!

I had Rob take that picture and said "Don't include my head." He asked why, and I said that knitters are headless, LOL. Lucy took the one of the first tank. The self-timer feature is tricky as the self-focus light comes on as soon as you press the button, so if you're not in position, you won't be in focus, but if you have someone there to press the button for you, why would you use the self-timer?

I have enough of that gold yarn to make perhaps a cardigan. I'm not a twin-set type, but it'd still make a nice cardigan.

It's been hard finding time to blog with the kids home. I tried to keep to a routine, and that worked the week Huey was at day camp, but it's not working now!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I Did It!

Thanks Z! I had no idea you spoke HTML, LOL. At first, I changed the bit in the < $BlogItemComment..... >and that did something funky. Then I saw the word 'comment' by itself after that bit, and changed that instead, and it seems to have worked! It's tempting to go through and see what else you can play with, but with my luck, I'd mess up everything. In high school, I got banned from using the new computers in the drafting lab; they seemed to freeze everytime I had my turn!

Stay tuned for some actual knitting photos!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sidebar Links

I added somethings to my sidebar, under links. And the font changed to that larger size. Can anyone help me get it back to normal? And recommend a good book on HTML? LOL. I'd like to change on my template, where it says 0 Comment(s) so it says something cool like other blogs. Where in the template is that? I see the word "comment" in MANY places!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You Win Some, You Lose Some

This is a wrap from Family Circle Easy Knitting, Spring/Summer 2005. Made with the recommended yarn, Patons Katrina. Of course, the yarn is discontinued. I was able to get some recently on a really nice trip to Lens Mill in Guelph. However, this was the only colour that they actually had 3 balls in. I don't like most of the colours that it came in anyway, but I thought it would be nice to make a pattern, as written, for once, LOL. What do I do with half a ball of Katrina now though? The two things I did do differently---I used my KnitSmart machine (c'mon! It was 287 rows of stockinette!!), and I grafted the seam instead of casting on/off and sewing it. I used KP 40 and I think my gauge was a little tighter than called for (the recommended gauge in the pattern was 16st/4" and the yarn gauge is 18st/4"; I think I got 17st/4"). I did have to unravel about 2 inches of the 287 rows. I haven't steamed it, I'm afraid of it growing too much if I do, but it could use a light steam to soften. It is a very stretchy yarn so you can really pull it down on your arms, or up on your shoulders. Nice for clingy tops, if it weren't slightly (very slightly) scratchy. I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but it has quite a sheen to it, giving it a more dressy look than most of my life requires. And I think I like it better with the twist at the back, LOL. Like my new shirt and pants? I've done a bit of shopping this week!

And this sadness.....almost half a baby blanket on the Singer 327, using Elann's Baby Lace alpaca/merino laceweight. I was having some issues and pursued it a little further than what I really should have. One issue was Megan 'helping' and when I came to work on it the last time, there was a mess in the lace edging that I just didn't have the patience to fix, knowing that I was already unhappy with it. (The red is waste yarn from the casting on process.)
Here, you can see the long strands underneath from when the yarn kept getting caught on the gatepegs at the short row end. This blanket is made by doing 16 wedges of shortrows; you cast on half the diameter, work the wedges, and graft the cast on to the cast off to make a circle. There was also a knot in the yarn, and the yarn broke once or twice, and a yucky spot in the yarn. All those long ends would need to be woven in, defeating the purpose of the 600yd ball.

You can also sort of see the line connecting the inner most points of the lace sections, making a stockinette triangle bordered by the lace. The line is from a bent gatepeg. Gatepegs are metal points sticking up between each needle latch on the machine bed. The separate each stitch, pulling the fabric tight so the carriage can knit. A bent one causes the two sts on each side of it to be slightly out of alignment compared to all the others, meaning that the yarn bar between the sts is slightly longer than all the others. Does that make sense?

Here you can see the ends of the short rows going up along the top left corner. In the center is some messed up sts, and other yuckies. I have one needle with a sticky latch I think, and it doesn't always knit, causing the yarn to pass behind the stitch, but it usually gets knit on the next row, with the stitch. This is technically called tuck stitch. When you DON'T want it to happen, it's called "That TUCKING stitch!". As close to swearing as I come, LOL.

Here's another view of those messed up stitches, and you can see the vertical line from the bent gatepeg. That might have gotten steamed out when blocking, but messed up stitches remain forever.

A close up of the edging, which forms points along the edge. I learned alot from that! There was something wrong with the pattern (did you actually think I created this myself?!), and I tried to figure it out, but it resulted in three plain rows where the edging goes from angling in to angling out again. I thought it would act like a border or something, but it just looked wrong.

And there you have it. I kept working on it, hoping the messed up stitches weren't too noticeable, but knowing it was way less than perfect. But in the end, I just knew it was past the point of acceptable and I unravelled it all.

Now, what to do with the yarn? Unfortunately, because of the knots, and the breaking, it's no longer a 600 yd ball. I was thinking of dyeing this yarn, should I re-join it all, so that I can do a long skein of two strands so I have two balls the same? By doing a long skein (ie---set two chairs up about 15ft apart) with two strands at the same time, and dyeing them together, they will come out exactly the same. But what colours? I have some nice blue laceweight, and some rusty mohair laceweight, and some pink I want to overdye....what else would I want, considering I don't wear shawls?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Having A Ball

Things are going interestingly on the knitting end of my life. So lets dwell there for a change.

This is a knitted ball, a baby gift for Rob's co-worker. It's a Sirdar yarn I used to make a cardigan for Lucy before Megan was born. I tried to alter the pattern so instead of grafting the last row to the cast on, I did a sort of pick up one from cast off, three needle-bind off kind of thing. But I guess I did it from the wrong side as there aren't the garter stitch bumps for that row! Oh well. I put some macaroni in a pill container for the rattle. I used to use squeakers for pet toys, but little babes can't make them squeak, so what's the point? I love making these balls, and I was very surprised when they didn't sell at a craft show. Okay, I was very surprised that nothing sold.....

I'm still working on the crochet baby bonnet. It appears to be much larger than newborn. But I think there is an error in the pattern. Yeah, I would pick the one pattern in the book with an error. I need to look it up on the Internet, see if there is an errata list somewhere, but I seem to be stalling.

Here's a bit of non-knitting adventures. I'm doing some clothes shopping lately. I know in the US, sizes have gotten larger, but has it happened here too? I'm wearing size 10 pants. Years ago, when I first wore size 10, I was about 15lbs smaller, and much of that is in my belly. And, what's with all the padded bras in 36C? When I first hit that size years ago, I was bummed to be in a C cup. I know the smooth look is great for with t-shirts now (and years ago t-shirts were no where near so snug as now), but does smooth have to mean padded? But you want to know what is the coolest thing? I put on the bra, and I have the same shape as without it!!! I don't have to hike anything up, squish it in, re-arrange during the day. So cool. LOL. But here's another bummer. Last year or the year before? there were all these cool summer dresses I really wanted, but were usually halter necks and I couldn't wear them because of the weight around my neck. Now, I can't find anything that doesn't look like it came from the far back of my mother's closest (sorry, ma! I know you don't wear them, but just having them....). Where's the cotton? Why is everything looking like my toddler painted it? I just want a simple, cotton dress to wear on those days when I tired of shorts. I though Old Navy would be the ticket (especially since we have a gift card from Christmas!), but the one dress they had did not fit. Everything was either jersey (TOO clingy on the belly) or too maternity looking (Fine if you're 16 and NOT pregnant, but when you're 36 and LOOK pregnant even when not, these new 'baby doll' tops and dresses suck!).

This isn't knitting, but it's one of the bright spots from the last week. It's a pouch sling for Rob's co-worker. I hope it fits. I asked my online slingsewing group if anyone was tall and skinny, LOL. He wouldn't ask her to measure herself because I had already bought a Moby D for her. It's an embroidered stretch poplin, backed with a soft, dark pink, Ultrasuede. Not as cool as I was planning for summer, but she said she likes pink, and when I saw the Ultrasuede, I just KNEW that was it (especially since the price was great!). The pink shows through the white a little, but it softens the white (I just make a pouch that's white twill and a blue print, and the white is VERY white).

Here's a close up of the embroidery. Originally I had made a ring sling, and used an embroidered gauze for the tail, but I never really liked it. I had already Freecycled the leftover of this fabric (DARN!) or I would have just made it two layers of the same. I REALLY like this pouch. It looks good with either side as the outside, it has some stretch (The poplin is 3% lycra and the Ultrasuede is stretchy). Megan and I tried it on, LOL, but it's too small for us :( I hope she likes it and uses it too. I think baby wearing is one of the best things you can do with your newborn. Sure, you don't have other kids to chase, and perhaps you don't get a baby that needs to be held alot, but it still helps to ease the transition from womb to world, and babies should be held by people, not things. What do you want your baby to hold in 30 years? Things or people they love?

Anyway, that's most of the good stuff from lately. Tomorrow you can read all about the death of a baby blanket that never got fully born. Or maybe I'll continue writing about how my husband has misplaced priorities and an arrogant attitude? Mmmmm....choices.....

Friday, July 06, 2007

And Crochet Too!

I am not a good crocheter. Although it turns out even and even nice looking, I have a hard time with directions, and a harder time with gauge. But I do like crocheting summer hats with mercerized cotton!
First I made this one:

Which was supposed to be for Lucy. I worked alot on it on a sunny Sunday and got it done about 20 minutes past my bedtime. It fit Lucy, but fits Megan better. So I started another one for Lucy, and it took me over a week! I kept adding a couple rows, taking out a row, getting hooked up to IVs, etc. It ended up a little big on Lucy. Mostly, it's too tall; this picture really exaggerates it!

I used Cantata DK cotton in two different purples, and Butterfly Super 10 for the pink. There wasn't much left of either purple, but I did crochet up a flower for each one, to hold the brim up a little. Very cute. I'll get pictures of them on later. I managed to get the stitch gauge, but my row gauge was way off.

I'm working on a little crochet baby bonnet right now. I know my yarn is a little thicker than the pattern calls for, but I'm hoping that remedies my too tight crocheting, LOL. I find crochet patterns very inconsistent. The bonnet is done in a two row pattern, the second row is double crochet. At the start of the book, in the instructions for dc it says the ch3 turning chain counts as a stitch. In the bonnet pattern, they don't tell you otherwise, but the turning chain does NOT count as a stitch. I had to start it several times, but it's going good now. I have to ribbon shop, and then attach the ribbon. Argh. I hate doing that. Any advice?

On another topic....would anybody be interested in a yarn dyeing day? Maybe bring your kids, bathing suits, yarn.....I've done some dyeing before and really enjoyed it, but just can't seem to find the time now. I've used Kool-Aid, Easter egg dyes, cake decorating dyes, and food colouring. Everything BUT 'real' yarn dyes, LOL. I'm thinking of ordering the dye sample pack from Knitpicks and some sock yarn (I do have some lace yarn already). Maybe others would like to order too and we can combine an order to save on shipping? Let me know!

Oh, Z....I have a question about 'Krista' that I'm sure you can guess but I don't want to ask here so I'll email you :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Yes, This IS a Knitting Blog there anybody out there?
(I went to a Pink Floyd concert at the old Exhibition Stadium. Remember those old, ROOFLESS stadiums? It was cold! We were up in the bleachers, way up, a few rows down from the top, in front of the speakers. It was one of the most fragrant concerts I went to....).

Yes, I do knit. I took a day off after the surgery, then started up again. On the way to the surgery, I started a sock. I got the first sock done on the weekend, so a little over a month.

This is Austermann Stepp, with the aloe and jojoba oil in it. It's very soft, but I did have problems with splitting. The colours aren't quite what I was expecting, and perhaps not what I'd do if I were striping this sock on my own, but that's the fun with this type of yarn.

The foot is plain, and I decided to do cables up the leg. I started with 3x3 cables separated by two knit stitches I think it was. I realized quickly that it was pulling it in alot. I thought of keeping the same cable, but do them randomly or when the colours changed. But I like predictability, LOL. So, I kept the 3x3 cables around the ankles, then 'walked' the outer two knit sts of the cable out (over the purl st). That left me with a 2x2 cable, and more ribbing. I did this for a ways, then did the same thing with the outer two knit sts of the cable, leaving me with a 1x1 cable.This picture is a little blurry, but I think you can see what I did. I ended with some ribbing at the top. I wanted to start the second sock at a different place in the yarn pattern, so I did the ribbing until the beige yarn ended, LOL.

I got started on the second one, I hope I remember all that I did (like, adding some short rows to the top of the heel to give a bit more depth to the heel). I'm not good at remembering things. We took the kids to see the fireworks on Sunday night, and Megan has not slept well since! I can't believe I felt like this for over a year!