30 July 2012

Enjoying the Ravellenic Games!

After much thought, I decided to attempt my first Ravellenic Games!  I had been signed up for a team for a while, but didn't even start to think about projects until two hours before the start of the games.  I managed to pull my resources together and get some patterns picked out just in time, and am I ever happy that I did!

I have decided to compete in four events this year with the overall goal being destashing:

I've suddenly been in a sock making kind of mood (it might have something to do with seeing so many of Andi's beautiful socks) and cast on a pair of vanilla socks using this yarn I hand dyed last month using egg dyes

I've had a small skein of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend sitting around for a while and desperately wanted to use it to make something I would use.  I decided on a pair of fingerless mitts, which work really well with the yarn and don't require much yardage. 

Perhaps my most ambitious project, which I may or may not conquer is knitting a Gemini top with this stashed, copper colored Hempathy I've been saving for something special.  I'm probably going to have to order more yarn for this project (why did I have to leave Webs?), but that doesn't matter because it is a perfect match for the project.

Of course I cannot do anything without somehow working spinning in.  So I started spinning up this disastrously hand dyed Cheviot wool, because I really want to see if dyeing it again after spinning might improve the color (ugh, pastels...). 

I've got a lot that I'm working on, but I'm loving the challenge and the fun of knowing that I'm knitting and spinning alongside some really fantastic people from all across the world! 

27 July 2012

Thrift Store Sweater Into Cashmere Yarn

I'm very excited to show the results of my second upcycled sweater project!  Some of you may recall that the first one did not go too well because I had inadvertently picked out the wrong sweater for this kind of project.  The second attempt was definitely not a failure!

This whole adventure came about as a result of my going to Goodwill (or Mennonite thrift stores, those people know what quality is) and happening to stumble across a large, men's L size, 100% cashmere sweater for $4.28 (includes tax).

Let me share this little secret, if you want good sweaters to upcycle, don't even bother with the women's section because the men's section is where it's at.  As a whole the sweaters are often cheaper, larger, and usually hardly worn (why don't American men know that sweaters are sexy?).

My mother and I had a nice time unraveling this one and then I plyed, and plyed, and plyed, which is why I'm contemplating building an Arduino microcontroller based e-spinner (don't worry, I would continue to spin my handspun by spindle, I love the process so much).  I plyed the yarn together because on it's own, it was brittle and unbalanced.

This ended up as a 4-ply, 100% cashmere (assuming average quality), worsted weight yarn in a pretty gray color that I don't think I will dye simply because it is a color I don't see a whole lot in yarn colorways.  I ended up with 265 grams and ~ 1,100 yards of yarn total.  I wish that I had kept track of how many hours this project took with the unraveling and plying, but sadly I did not.

I was interested to see how much money I likely saved by doing it this way (not counting labor), and so I did some rough calculations against what I'm assuming is a comparable yarn: Jade Sapphire Mongolian 6-Ply (which I haven't tried, but am definitely tempted to if only the price weren't out of my reach).

New, store bought cashmere yarn: 150 yards, 55 grams -->   $45.00 a skein (before tax)

Upcycled thrift store cashmere yarn: 220 yards, 55 grams -->   $1.13 a skein (including tax)

Even if the resulting yarn is not of comparable quality (which I can kind of sense by touch), that is a huge savings and allows me to knit with a luxury fiber!  This is a really fun and rewarding process and I would highly recommend it, just be sure to follow my upcycled sweater rules.

24 July 2012

Ambrosia Sweater

I started this sweater back in May as a way of getting me through a rough breakup.  As I knit this soothing sweater my grief faded and was replaced by calm and a sense of hope.  I'm not sure if knitting might help everyone through a rough time, but in my case it definitely did.

The pattern is Ambrosia by Katya Frankel, which overall I really liked.  I especially enjoyed the lack of seaming, as well as the top down construction of the sweater.  The cabling down the front helped to get me through long stretches of stockinette stitch and adds some extra interest to the sweater.  I also really liked that the bind off method was an i-cord bind off, because it made the whole project look much more finished and attractive.  The pattern directions were very clear and easy to follow.

The one problem I had with this pattern was with the recommended method of securing the sweater with hook and eyes.  When I first saw the pattern, that aspect really intrigued me because I had not seen many projects that way, and now I certainly know why.  No matter how much I block this sweater, there are still unseemly gaps down the front due to the hook and eyes.  I think that if I were to knit this sweater again, I would probably modify it to work with buttons.  I'm thinking that someday I might install a zipper onto this particular sweater, because with that one little change it would be perfect! 

The yarn was an absolute dream to knit with, as I've mentioned before, I'm not sure why my entire stash isn't made up of Madelinetosh.  I used Madelinetosh Vintage in the Nebula (isn't that perfect?) colorway.  I love the solid, crispness of the yarn base that they use for this yarn, and as an added bonus it still had that lovely merino smell!  Of course the best part of Madelinetosh is the almost iridescent color and this one in particular is just gorgeous.

Despite the fastening problem in the front, I really love this sweater and I hope to have many a chance to wear it this Fall! 

18 July 2012

Work-in-progress Wednesday - #11

I'm back from my trip to Las Vegas, it was definitely an interesting experience!  I was able to get quite a lot of knitting done over the course of the trip and so in the next few days I'll have some new projects to show!

But until then I'll show you my current WIPs:


A family friend recently had a baby and so I'm happily working away on a new sweater in this jaunty red Berroco Vintage.  The pattern is Garter Yoke Baby Cardi by Jennifer Hoel, a project I have knitted before and really enjoyed!

I'm also still powering away on this cotton sweater in Classic Elite Yarns Classic Silk.  So far I like the pattern (Gaia by Kristen TenDyke), but the lace sections are taking me a little longer than I anticipated. 


I'm a little more than halfway done with my cashmere sweater upcycling project.  Rather than post yet another photo of my plying spindle, I thought I would show how much better the yarn looks after plying.

The yarn is really attractive and soft and I'm hoping to have enough by the end to make a small sweater.  It is definitely taking me a while to ply this much yarn and I've been looking into wheel options for that very reason. 

I hope that you are all having a great Wednesday and I hope that you also join in for WIP Wednesday with Tami's Amis.

12 July 2012

Dyeing Fiber with Food Dyes

I wanted to let you all know that I will be on a trip to Las Vegas for a conference this weekend, so if I'm slow in responding that is why, I apologize in advance!

Before leaving, I decided to dye some roving I purchased a while ago.  It is apparently Cheviot wool, which I have never really experienced before.  I actually ordered this fiber online, and upon opening it up I was really disappointed with how it had been prepared.  Because of the bits of stuff sticking out of it and the overwhelming smell of lanolin, I have reason to suspect that it has not been processed very well.  This was further evident in the fact that it was very difficult to dye.

I dyed part of it using Wilton's food dyes, pretty much the same way as I did in my previous post and I was not completely satisfied with it.  The colors just didn't want to stick!

Once I finish spinning this fiber, I plan on washing it thoroughly and then attempting to dye it again to see how that might work.  Also, I remembered that the awesome Sara from A Year at the Wheel, has tons of tips on how to wash wool correctly, so I may follow her directions and see if that might make a difference as well.

But, if dyeing teaches me anything, it is that sometimes it doesn't go at all according to plan.  I'm looking forward to this fiber as an ongoing challenge that I have to tackle.  Perhaps I will make something I'm truly proud of in the end!

09 July 2012

Beatnik Sweater

After much cabling and seaming, I'm very excited to share with you my completed Beatnik Sweater!

I really enjoyed this entire project, and as you can see it yielded an attractive product.  I imagine this being a part of my presentation outfit in graduate school for lab meeting, it looks sophisticated and, dare I say it, just the kind of sweater a successful scientist would wear!

Pattern: Beatnik
Designer: Norah Gaughan
Published in: Knitty, Deep Fall 2010

 The pattern was clearly written and as far as I could tell, free of mistakes.  I can definitely see why it is such a popular pattern to knit because the cabling is highly entertaining and just challenging enough to hold interest for both the front and the back.

I especially liked how the collar was constructed, because it produces such a polished edge.  Basically it was knit twice as long as it needed to be, and then folded inwards and seamed to produce a nice clean edge.  Oftentimes I dislike how my bound off edges look and this is a great way around that problem that I will definitely keep in mind for the future.

My major frustration with the pattern was of course with the seaming, as it was constructed the same as most seamed sweaters.  However, this was even more difficult due to the fact that the edges of the garment were knitted in seed stitch, which is not easy to seam attractively (at least for me).  Luckily for me, I was able to solicit the aid of my mother, the master seamer and it ended up looking fantastic.  One thing that she suggested I do on future patterns with a complicated pattern is to knit a few extra stitches on each side in stockinette stitch to help make it easier to seam perfectly.

I used Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash for this project.  Some of you may remember from a past post that I simply adore this yarn.  Both times I have used it, it has produced such an attractive, smooshy fabric complete with that irresistible merino smell!  I also think that the yarn was a great match for this sort of project because it should be very comfortable to wear and long-wearing.

I love this sweater and will likely wear it a lot, but I think this will be the last seaming I do for a while.

04 July 2012

Recent Stash Additions

Last weekend I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with my good buddy Lisa (Wickedly Artsy).  Among many of the other exciting things that you can read about over at her blog, we found some time for some fiber shopping!

I know, I'm a poor student preparing for a huge move, but fiber is just as important as food right?

First we headed over to Wildflower in Manhattan, Kansas, which has a great selection of Berroco, as well as some yarns that I have not been able to find at any other yarn store.  I found some yarn that I have been dying to get a hold of for a while now, two skeins of Mini Moshi (Crystal Palace Yarns) in a muted rainbow colorway:

After that we visited Wicked Stitch in Wamego, Kansas, which is one of my favorite stores because of the amazing fiber selection, friendly people, and adorable location.  It took me a little while to decide what to get because of the overwhelmingly diverse selection, but I ended up purchasing two types of fiber that I cannot wait to spin up.

I went straight for some reasonably priced and super soft Blue Faced Leichester.  I will likely end up hand dyeing this at some point.

I also couldn't resist buying some Romney wool (which I don't think that I have ever tried before).  According to the owner, this is from one of her own sheep, Daisy.  I can tell that this is going to be loads of fun to spin up!

Isn't it wonderful the sort of treasures that can be found at yarn stores across the country?  If only I could visit them all!

02 July 2012

Targhee Jewel

I'm afraid that I now have to make a confession, I few weeks ago when I mentioned that I had reached my 100th post, that was an unintentional lie.  I had some old backlogged posts from ages ago and for some reason Blogger counted them even though they were not published.  So sorry!

Oh well!  But now I can say for sure that this is my 100th post and a fabulous do-over opportunity (how often do we get those?).  I started this blog in June of 2011, and I can honestly say that it has been a really amazing experience for me so far because it has made me challenge myself in so many ways and because I have been lucky enough to connect with some seriously wonderful people (yes, you).

Thank you for the comments, the support, the inspiration, and of course for simply reading!  I'm excited to see what this next year brings!  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In other news, I finally finished spinning the Targhee!

- Finished: June 28, 2012
- Fiber: 100% Targhee wool (Abstract Fiber)
- Spindle: Schacht 3" Hi-Lo drop spindle (2.2 oz.)
- Other Information: 1 skein, 3-ply, ~473 yards, 4 oz., DK weight

I found this fiber really frustrating to work with because it it had a brittle texture that frequently made it snap while spinning, a problem I have never had before.  However, when I finally began to wind the spun yarn into a skein I realized how soft it was and how it puffed up nicely!  Although I will likely spin many other fibers before trying this one again, I can definitely see why some spinners really love it.

All though the process of spinning this beautiful handspun, I had been intending to offer it as a prize in a giveaway. But after doing a little bit of reading it turns out that giveaways are a huge legal headache!

For example, US law dictates that it cannot be called a "giveaway" rather a "sweepstakes" (which has a really specific definition).  Also, Canadian citizens cannot legally participate in random drawings.  I really wanted to host one, but I'm not comfortable with the possibility of legal backlash (my adult life is just beginning after all!) or with excluding anyone (because I love you all). 

Sorry everyone!  In the meantime, I'm going to look into the possibility of a contest, which may be easier.