Electrifying hand dyed yarns, with personality!

Posts tagged ‘how to’

Eeee!!!

I have brought her to the woolly side! This, is my sister’s first knitting! I couldn’t even wait until I had decent light to post it!

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She has already said that knitters should be selling their stuff for way more because of all the work and love put in, and when her husband went to bed, she said, “Just one more row.”  !!!  One of us!  One of us!  Haha I couldn’t be more proud!

Tomorrow night we have another date to sit and knit, and then she wants to go to a yarn shop to pick out her own yarn for a project (this was something I had sitting in the stash).

Please send her luck, and lots of good knitting juju 🙂

 

Plying With the Spindle

Yesterday was a no make-up, get stuff done around the house kind of day, and today looks to be more of the same.  I dove into the spare closet where all my crafty stuff had been tossed, just to get it out of the way, during the move.  Spent all day burying Little’s room under a pile of stuff, then finding it again so she could go to bed.  To reward myself for a hard days work, I broke out my spinning once again to try to finish plying all I had so far.

On that note, I thought it would be a good idea to give you all the long-delayed plying tutorial!  When I was just trying to take up spinning I was lucky enough to get to sit in on a local spinning guild’s class.  I spun my first bit of yarn there!  Before I left, the instructor outlined the plying method I’m about to show you, and, not to brag or anything, but it’s a lot easier than having to wind up a bunch of center pull balls like most of the You Tube videos suggest.  So, on to it!  (But if you haven’t read my original drop spindle tutorial, check it out here.)

Supplies, easy!

Supplies, easy!

Grab yourself an old shoe box you don’t mind poking holes into, and a good, sturdy pair of needles you don’t mind poking through the box.

Poke!  Poke!

Poke! Poke!

Stick your needles through the shoebox as shown.  This is what I call the “poor man’s lazy Kate.”  Make sure you leave enough space on all sides of the needles for your “spool” to turn smoothly.  And by “spool” I mean those TP tubes with your singles wrapped on them (or is that just me?).

"Spools"

“Spools”

Double check!

Double check!

Make sure that your singles are coming off the spools on the same side.

OPPOSITE of the way it was spun!

OPPOSITE of the way it was spun!

Slip the end of both singles through your starter string (see previous spinning post for a how to) and start spinning the OPPOSITE direction that you spun your singles in.  In my spinning tutorial I spun my singles by rolling the spindle UP my leg, so, when I’m plying, I roll the spindle DOWN my leg.  Easy peasy!

Mmmmmm

Mmmmmm

When my spindle was full, I unwound it onto a home-made niddy-noddy (there are lots of tutorials on how to make one out of PVC pipe) that measures in yards.  That is about 80 yards of my finished, two ply yarn!  I can’t wait to finish plying the 1/2 pound I have spun up.  I’m hoping to have enough for a nice slouchy hat 😀

Even if you don’t end up with enough yarn for a large project, make something out of it!  Even if it’s just a thin headband.  You’ll love it all the more because it was made totally by you!  Have fun!

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Shop news!  I have the original colorways up and running again, and, new lower shipping cost!  Woot!!

 

 

 

 

Wow…

Okay, so nearly a month with no post.  I guess things have been a little nuts around here.  Lots of traveling for the hubby means not a lot of blogging time for me.  I swear Little is the busiest kid I’ve ever met!  Even at only 7 months, she pretty much requires constant entertaining/corralling.  Not sure if that’s going to get worse or better.

On that note, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!  I hope you all had great ones!  In honor of that, I’m going to share the gift that I gave to the mamas in my life, and how to make them yourself!  (Cue terrarium how-to I was supposed to post months ago…)

 

You can see my big terrarium in the background.

You can see my big terrarium in the background.


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Okay, they aren’t terrariums in the traditional sense (covered), but you can use this method for those too!

Step 1:  Find yourself a suitable container.  It can be pretty much anything, pot, vase, maison jar, old candy dish, anything that strikes your fancy.  (Tip:  If you have cats, or any other critters that like to eat your plants, I’d go with something that has high sides, like a wide mouth flower vase.  That way you can put the plants deep in the container where said critters can’t reach them.)

Step 2:  Put in a good handful of gravel.  Succulents (and most other plants for that matter) are going to need good drainage.  This will give the excess water someplace to go if your container doesn’t have its own drainage.

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Step 3:  Add dirt.  Easy enough.  Just a thin layer to start.

The ever helpful Leah, and the "garden" in the background.

The ever helpful Leah, and the “garden” in the background.

Step 4:  Add plants!  Succulents work best, in my experience (black thumb, right here!), but you can get pretty creative.  Just make sure they are plants that will do well in the environment you want to keep them in.  I arranged my plants in the dish, then filled in  around them with extra dirt to keep them secure.  (Tip:  If you’re getting your plants from a nursery or big box store, double-check how many plants are actually in each pot.  You usually end up with multiple stems that should be separated for the health of the plants, and hey, bonus plants!!!)

SAM_0788 SAM_0787

Step…: Water your plants, and place them in an appropriately sunny area.  You can stop here, or move on to the bonus round 😀

BOUNUS ROUND!!!  If you’re feeling creative, once the dirt has dried a little, brush off any extra dirt from the plants leaves.  I like to use an old paint brush for this.  Then, gather up some colored sand, pretty rocks, moss, or anything else you think would be fun and let the decorating begin!

I LOVED the glass chunks I found at Pigment!

I LOVED the glass chunks I found at Pigment!

I’m lucky in San Diego to have a really cute shop at my disposal with TONS of terrarium supplies.  You can order most of their stuff on-line too!  www.shoppigment.com  I got most of my plants, all the sand, moss, and decorative glass bits from there.  They also carry air plants, which I’m slowly getting obsessed over.  Those will definitely make an appearance in my next terrarium!

So, make one, give one, cover your house with them!  Just have fun!!!

What kind of do it yo-self gifts made the rounds in your family this Mother’s Day?

 

 

About Time!

Former ribbed edge to your left, active stitches to your right!

Former ribbed edge to your left, active stitches to your right!

Since my hat had a ribbed edge on it, and I’d decided rather than frog the top half of my hat I’d add-on to the bottom brim.  I picked a starting point and went around picking up one side to every V-shaped stitch. I picked up my stitches just above where I’d started the ribbing.  It was much easier to see the individual stitches that I needed to pick up, and ultimately, easier to pick back the following row.

After getting all the stitches back on the needle, and checking that they were all in the same row, I snipped a stitch TWO rows above (assuming you’re holding the work upside down) the stitches I’d picked up.  (Actually, I cut the very next row above and completely regretted it.  So please, learn from my frustration.)  I then painstakingly picked back the cut row, so that the stitches on the needle were active.  This post from Knitting Daily shows this method in better detail.

I had a pretty good tail of yarn still attached to the knitting, so I knit to the end of it and reattached the ball.  I’ve measured (like 12 times) and am almost done with the reknitting.  On top of that, I finished the “Baaad Sheep” shawlette today too!  Pictures and a patter to come, yay!

And the Holiday Sweatshop Continues

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season, and a happy new year!

We had fun playing with the lights :)

We had fun playing with the lights 🙂

While I did finish a fair amount of knit gifts, including that sweet Santa hat Little Sheep is modeling for us (It was a simple 2X2 rim hat, where I put 3 rows between each decrease row.  And obviously, change colors accordingly, and add a fun pom-pom on top!), the holidays continue on at our house in the form of unfinished objects.

Still on the needles:  two cowls

I swear that's black yarn

I swear that’s black yarn

This one is being worked flat, with a seed stitch border.  When it’s done I’m going to sew the ends together, and attach some BIG buttons.  Not useful buttons mind you, just satisfyingly HUGE ones 😀

SAM_0433This cowl is knit in the same Swirl Hat pattern I’ve used before.  The only difference… instead of decreases, I’ll just put a few more rows of 2X2 rib.  Done!  (It’s also showing off my prototype Lazer Sheep stitch marker!)

One scarf

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This is a special scarf for my husband.  I sprung for some super soft baby alpaca.  Should have enough to make a matching hat as well.  I just stuck a basic cable in the middle.  My husband is a man, and his scarf should be manly as well.  No frilly stuff here.

One pair of fingerless gloves

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These I found on Ravelry, for my Dr. Who obsessed friend.  The pattern, The Oncoming Storm! They are modeled after the Daleks, villains in the show.

You’d think being home all the time I’d have plenty of spare time to finish up this knitting and get them off to their final destinations.  Too bad the Little Sheep doesn’t like watching the knitting needles go as much as I do.

How many projects do you have yet to finish?

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On a totally separate note, I’m working hard to get the Lazer Sheep Etsy shop up and running this month.  The yarn is all set to go.  The stitch markers on the other hand, are slow going.  The idea is that each colorway has their own Lazer Sheep character, and I want to send a stitch marker with its character out with each hank of yarn.  Through trial and error, I have a few ideas.  Hopefully I can get enough of them done to be ready to ship with this batch of yarn.  Since I’ve managed to hijack my parents’ computer, I’ll try to keep updated.  (I’m here every other day for laundry any how.)

Internet! a Move, and Typing One Handed

Through many trials and calls to AT&T, I finally have internet!  Internet at our new apartment no less!  Yes, we are officially back in the land of my people, San Diego, and oh how I missed it.

Via a lovely restaurant on Coronado Island

Majority of my family lives here, and we are very lucky to have so much help with Olivia.  Although, right this moment I don’t have this help handy, and thus I am holding the little sheep in one arm, and hunting and pecking with the other.  Whatever works, right?

I have manged some knitting however!  After the baby blanket was finished, I started finishing up all the baby hats I’d started (modeled pictures to come) and working on a headband or two.

After the little sheep debuted, I did have to take five while I recovered and get into the new swing of things.  This was the next project… (I did mine in cotton because it was the only orange I could find (?) and so the rim didn’t roll much)

Cute hat, squirmy baby 🙂
Grumpy Halloween apparently

We also joined the Susan G. Koman Walk for the Cure in memory of her Grammy V.  (My sister made her the shirt <3)  It was amazing, and at 6 weeks postpartum it was exhausting, but totally worth it.  We’re planing on participating again next year 🙂

“Strolling for Grandma”

Now, the race for Christmas knitting starts.  I’ll give you a minute to catch your breath…

So far I’ve got 3 projects started, including his awesome knited moustache,  and at least 4 more to go.  Knitting is far harder one-handed than typing.

How’s everyone else’s holiday knitting going?

The Blankie is Here! (But Still No Little Girl to Wrap in it…)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a blankie!

The “yet to be named” baby blanket!

Stats:

~38in X 41in

Knit from 5 balls Pattons Classic Wool, which I hand dyed in my “Fuzzy Navel” colorway , and knit on size 7 circulars

I LOVE how this knit up!  It wound up being bigger than I’d expected, which is great, and used up all but a few yards of the yarn I’d dyed.  I’m not one for self patterning, or predictable yarn, so this was perfect for me!  Just happy splashes of color thrown around 😀

The hearts border the whole blanket, surrounded by garter stitch.  The body is simple stockinette stitch.  Look!  I’ve even got a pattern (such as it is) for you!

*This is my first pattern written for the public, and I’m the only one who’s tested it.  Please let me know if anything is unclear or needs to be fixed.  Thanks!*  (click to make big!)

Heart pattern

The key was sadly lost in translation, but if you use your imagination a little bit I think this will work for now…

Odd number rows = Right Side, Even number rows = Wrong Side

Blank = Knit

O = Yarn Over

\ = Knit Knit Stitch

/ = Knit 2 Together

— = Purl

Cast on 162 stitches

Knit the heart repeat 6 times across what will be the bottom of your blanket.  

When you have a completed row of hearts along the bottom, start the next repeat, but only with one heart on each end of the blanket.  Stockinette stitch (knit right side, purl wrong side) should be between the hearts to create the large solid body of the blanket.

On the 7’th vertical repeat of the heart, do just like you did with the first repeat and create hearts all along the top of the blanket.

Bind off loosely.

I think this would be lovely in a solid color yarn as well…  I’ll worry about trying that maybe after holiday knitting (need to start that NOW!).

For the time being, I’m going to work on a few little things for the little one we’re very anxiously waiting for around here.  Maybe some headbands, Ooo! or a cute little pumpkin hat for Halloween 😀

In the mean time, I guess the blankie will just have to wait for its recipient to show up in her own sweet time.  After all, she’s not late yet.  She’s still got 5 more days before she becomes her mother and is perpetually late 😉

I’m Dying Over Here!

*Har*

So apparently off in my la la land, “tomorrow” means nearly two days from now.  Ah well, better late and all that.

I’d been trying to find the perfect colors to dye the yarn for my little girl’s blanket.  I’ve never been much of a pink person, so I was thinking on an orange, yellow, pink mixture of some sort.  As I’m still an amateur at all this dying stuff I gathered together some Lemon Yellow, Scarlet Red, and Magenta RIT dyes (found in the laundry aisle of most major stores) and started experimenting.

Follow the package directions when mixing the dye.  I put each color in a separate glass jar (awesome way to recycle old spaghetti jars and be able to save extra dye).  I also added just a tablespoon on vinegar to each jar, to help the dye stick to the yarn.

Mixed Dyes

I ended up mixing 1/4 part Red, with 5 parts Yellow to get the right orange.  The other two colors I wanted (Yellow and Magenta) seemed good as is.  Just to double-check the colors I dipped a piece of the yarn I was going to work with in for a few minutes, just to get a general idea of it.

While I was doing all the mixing and science, I had my yarn soaking and warming on the stove.  *always use a designated pot for yarn*

Water+Yarn+1/4 cup Vinegar

I heated the yarn, vinegar, and water to low/med low.  You want the water warm, but not bubbling, AT ALL!  Once the water was warm, I poured the dye in.  Yellow on one side, Magenta on the other, and speckles of Orange in the middle (a turkey baster is a handy tool for this).  It’s super important to not move the pot after this, because that will mix the colors even more, and make the yarn nearly a solid color (which I didn’t want).

Don’t Move the Pot!!!!

Put the lid on the pot, and let it hang for a good hour.  Check it every so often to make sure it doesn’t reach a boil.

After the hour , check to see if the dye is exhausted (the water should be at least mostly clear), if it’s not, let it go for a while longer until it is.  Once the yarn has sucked up every bit of dye it can, turn off the heat, take off the lid, and let it cool on its own.  If it’s a 100% wool yarn (or anything that might felt) make sure to let it completely cool before transferring it to a wool wash to take out any excess dye.  Then, hang that sucker up to dry!  *I like to roll my yarn up in a towel and step on it to get out some of the extra water first*

Once its dried, ball it up!

Not very true to color… thank you iPhone 😛

This isn’t the yarn I’m going to use for the baby blanket, it’s a blank sock yarn I had floating around.  I liked the colors enough (much darker than that pic) that I will do things the same way, but on a larger scale.

On that note I’ve started yet another baby hat with it.  They’re so quick, and I get to try out new yarns and patters, I’m addicted!

A little closer to the true color

This is just a simple roll brim hat so that I could get a good idea of how the blanket will look.

This was just one of many ways to dye your own yarn, and frankly my new favorite.  I’d love to hear about other dying styles and recommendations on dyes, if anyone has them.

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Basics of Starting Spinning

So I’ve been spinning my little heart out over the last few days, but in small bursts, so the sum total of my work is about 1 spindle’s worth of single ply.  20120711-140834.jpg

In the light of enjoying my drop spindle so much lately, I thought I’d share how I learned to use it.  Tutorials on YouTube are great (and I’ll  link to one in particular later on) but most of them don’t really show in detail the way to get started.

I learned from a great lady who teaches a class in East County San Diego (I believe she was from the East County Spinners Guild).  Her method made it easy to attach the roving and get started.  So that’s what I’m going to share with you.

That string (thin cotton yarn will work too) that’s attached to my spindle is the first step.  Make a long circle with the string and tie the two ends together.  Then you’ll attach it at the knotted end to your spindle (as seen in the picture above).

Pull roving to the thickness desired

With your string attached, it’s time to start preparing your roving.  The roving I had was already pre drafted (pulled to desired thickness).  Basically pull the end bit of wool away from the rest of the wool so it looks similar to the picture.

Put the end of your roving through the end of the string

Put about an inch of your roving through the loop that the string created.

Hold end of roving back over itself

Fold the roving over so that it is touching itself (har).

Run the spindle UP your leg, towards you.  Never mind the passed out Beagle.

Now it’s time to load the spin up on your spindle.  While still holding the roving in one hand (I’m right-handed, but I find it easier to work the spindle with my right and hold the roving with my left) run the spindle UP your leg, towards yourself.  This will load the twist up on the spindle, and thus the roving/yarn.

There’s some more detail (hard to show in pictures without a second person handy) on the actual spinning process on this YouTube drop spindle tutorial.

I prefer to sit while I’m spinning, and use a cheater method.  After I spin my spindle up my leg, I hold steady to the roving and just let the whole thing hang and spin until it almost stops.  I then catch the handle of the spindle between my knees, THEN draft the roving and let the twist run up it.  It just seems easier to me to concentrate on one thing at a time, but do whatever works best for you.

Single ply!!!

Once you’ve let the twist run up the length of the string, and onto the roving, the part folded over itself twists together.  This creates a strong hold, and a secure base for the rest of your spinning!  Learning this was when the lightbulb really went on for me, the rest comes with practice and finding which kind of wool you like using best (my favorite is alpaca, mmmmm).

I hope this helps someone out there get the spinning bug!  It’s tons of fun once you get the hang of it, and after that, as they say, the possibilities are endless!!!