April 23, 2013

Need some cheerful brightness?

 I really didn't feel like redoing the pink pirate sock right now.  It took quite a while and I was disappointed enough with my end product to want something quick and easy.  I started this rainbow coloured sock 2 days ago and I'm already at the heel flap.  It's just a plain 2/2 rib, so fast and easy.   I dyed the yarn last year and it's aged enough that I can finally use it.
I started spinning some of the fibre I dyed last week.  It's a bright blend of yellow and oranges.  It's superwash merino, so a tad slippery, but fairly easy to spin since it doesn't compact in the dyeing process.  It's a fairly fast spin because it's drafting so smoothly.  That easy drafting also makes it very enjoyable to spin.  No struggling with this one!

Yesterday it was sunny and warmish.  I hung out my laundry and when I looked around the yarn, I noticed that this clump of mini-daffodils was blooming.  It just happened overnight, since they weren't there the day before.   How bright and sunny they are!   The larger daffodils will be a few more days before they start to bloom.  I do enjoy these really early blooms, even though they are small and delicate. They do make a statement when planted en masse!

April 19, 2013

Taking the Good with the Rediculously Oversized!

I finished sock number one.  (well, except for grafting the toe).  It took me 3 tries to get the skull and crossbones motif error free.  I know that the sock pattern is only 4 stitches larger than I normally make for myself, so I'd hoped that it would compensate for the possible draw-in and lack of stretchiness of the stranded colourwork.  I also used  2.75 mm needles, which is also a size that I've been waffling about as I've had great results with size. 2.25 mm.  But often it's suggested that you do colourwork with a size larger than you usually use for stretch compensation.   I tried it on yesterday.  The sock is massive.  It would fit someone with a leg and a foot which is either much wider or longer (or both) than mine.  It kind of looks like it was made for a Sasquatch!  I wondered about the size early on, but just kept knitting, knowing that my math should have made it all fit!  Right....  I really like the look of this sock, fun, bright and very pink.   However it will be destined for the frog pond because it's useless to me the way it is right now.  I can't even think of anyone with feet that size who I might want to give a special gift!

Yesterday was a guild Dye Day.  One of our members sets up an acid dye station, tables draped with plastic and all the necessary supplies needed.  We show up, pay a nominal fee for the dyes and play.  Most people brought silk warps to play with, but I brought a skein of sock yarn and some superwash roving.  The dyes need to be steamed and while it could be done there, I have enough equipment to do it at home.   I steamed the packets last night and let them cool overnight.  This morning, I opened up the packets, rinsed them out and have spread them out to dry.  All the dye set perfectly.    There are several shades of the basic primary dyes so we get to mix and experiment to find the colours we want.   Last time my sock yarn was a bit darker than I wanted.   This time I went for bright!

The sock yarn has the pink and blue in 5 yard repeats, with 2 yards of purple in between each colour.  Both th e purple yarn and turquoisy green in the roving came out better steamed than they did with the dye colour.   I consider this a very successful dye experiment.

April 16, 2013

Mother Nature has not forsaken us

 I've no idea what these tiny but pretty, very blue flowers are.  Some years there have been many of them popping up in one patch in the garden.  This year there doesn't seem to be as many.  There is only this one in bloom, the rest are either still in bud or haven't put out any flower stems yet at all.  There are less than half of the little leaf sets than in other years.  They are a lovely blue though, which I don't see very often in flowers.
 Yesterday I found these by accident, under a shrub near the front door.   They are such a pretty shade of purple.  There are only the three little blooms and slightly misshaped at that, but they were such a wonderful sight.

These are growing where there weren't crocuses before.  However then I remembered that I'd planted some last fall, in that particular flower bed.   The beds were littered with leaves and pine needles from the winter, but the heavy rains, the ice storm and lots of winds have made it worse. Once they dry out it will take a bit of raking to clean them up.

These ones are where I hadn't expected them, in a little patch that the chooks like to scratch and peck at.   What a glorious burst of sunshine colours which on once again, another grey day, makes the heart sing.  While it has been a slow and dreary progression to spring, it seems to be coming, whether the winter wants to give up or not.  Thank goodness for that!  While the crocuses that were established have disappeared, it's wonderful that they are growing elsewhere in the garden.   I shall have to plant more this fall and forget about them too, as the surprise of finding them is lovely.

April 13, 2013

Finishing things up

I used up the last of the indigo vat by tossing in some silk hankies and a bit of leftover North Country Cheviot roving.  It's really a bit too coarse for my liking as a spinning fibre, but there are times when it's useful to have.    The blues are gorgeous though.
 The 2 long scarves are off the loom.  I still need to twist the fringes and wet finish them before I call them done.    I left the warp on the loom and tied it in front of the reed in case I want to do the white scarves next, so I can just tie them on.  If I decide to put on the tea towels, it will only take a few seconds to clear the old warp off.
The Louet Northern Lights is plied and skeined.  It's a lovely, subtle colour, with the pinks, blues and greens still showing through.  I was a bit worried that they'd blend into a grey mass, but it's very pretty.  There are 249 yards so enough for something useful.  It might have to age a bit before it tells me what it wants to be.

April 10, 2013

A couple of quick of projects

 I picked up this packet of Louet Northern Lights dyed fibre on a whim.  It's thin, like pencil roving and dyed with short runs of colour of varying lengths, from about an inch to 4 or 5 inches, with what seems to be a regular repeat to the patterning.    The colourway is called Cactus Flower and it's a a pretty blend of fuschia, dark blue and green.  It is easy to spin and the colours are soft and lovely.   They blend nicely when drafting but not totally, so the colours are still visible. I'm really happy with this, considering it was a purchase way out on a limb for me.   I can no longer find this colourway listed anywhere, so I've cancelled my notion of needing another packet of this.

The idea of pink socks drew me in.  Then I realized that they might need a bit of contrast to perk them up and make them interesting.  I noticed a colourwork mistake on the photo so I might have to do a bit of ripping and re-knitting.   They are a fun project, both to knit and to look at.  I love the idea of bright pink pirate socks hiding under my jeans! 

On a day like today, when the skies are dark and the rain is pouring down, a project like these socks makes me happy.

April 04, 2013

Early Spring Blues

 I was outside today and noticed these true signs of spring.  Even though yesterday was blustery and snowy, today the world has transformed.    These are daffodils and possibly some hyacinths.  Nearby there should be crocuses growing but nothing this year.  I'm guessing that I'll have to replant this year.  I love crocuses in the spring.  One day I'd like to plants them all over the lawn for a wonderful spread of colour.  I've to hope that they'd grow before the lawn does though.
 Shibori samples!  There are more but they are paler in colour.  These ones I popped into the indigo pot this morning and started on chores.  I only remembered them after lunch, so they had a good long time to develop colour! 

The socks are done!  It's always a good thing to have a new pair of wool socks in the drawer.  I've been knitting and dyeing an awful lot of blue lately.  I definitely need a shot of some other colour right now.  Not that I'm complaining about the blue, because look at today's blue sky.  But I've been dyeing with indigo, weaving with indigo, knitting with indigo, the shibori is indigo and the socks may not be indigo, but they've indigo stripes.  I'm even rather fond of indigo blues, but  it's time for a project in another colour.  Maybe pink?    One can never have too many pairs of pink socks!

April 01, 2013

Another week flies by...

 I'd been looking at these socks and thinking how long it was taking to finish them.  I'd cast them on before the big blue Milk Run shawl and I was still at the same first heel as I was two weeks ago.  Then I realized that I hadn't picked them up at all in that time.  So in some down time, I started knitting them again.  Only half a foot to go!  Hurray! or perhaps that should be hurry :)  Normally I enjoy knitting socks, but I'm not having the sock karma with these ones.  Maybe it's that it should be spring outside and instead it's snowing again.
 I did get a warp wound.  It's a simple project using up a bunch of handspun and naturally dyed skeins that I've collected over the past few years.  It's two scarves.  They will be about 7 or 8 inches wide and 96 inches long, plus fringes.  I'd made one for my daughter like that and it's garnered lots of compliments but she said she'd have preferred it 1 or 2 inches wider.  The blue is indigo and the coral is madder, while the grey and black are natural coloured fibres.  I have enough similar weight skeins to do a set of 3 or 4 of the same design, in white with other colours.  Then I think it will be tea towels so I can try a friends favoured towel draft, which works up with spectacular results.  I am hopeful I can get something nearly as successful as her towels.

It's been ages since I've played with this and it has been tons of fun digging up new techniques and trying out lots of samples. These are all cotton fabrics.   I did spend a lot of time hunting down a piece of silk that I knew I had hiding away but when I finally found it, it was obvious that Kevin kitten had played with it.  There were little claw mark holes in it and a bunch of kitten hair adorning the silk.  There is enough to use for a sample though but not enough to make into a scarf.   There are more samples made up, in different patterns.    If I get industrious, I might even wind a warp and try some Ikat wrapping.    In the next day or two, I'll do up an indigo vat and drop them in.  With any luck, there will be all sorts of nice surprises from that dye pot.  I'm using a few different weights and weaves of cotton, so the outcome of all these samples are anything but certain.