29 August 2014


I'm currently on my way to Massachusetts for a much needed vacation. I plan on getting some relaxing knitting and spinning finished, visiting my alma mater, going hiking, spending time with my family, and making my yearly pilgrimage to Webs!

I recently finished my Narragansett sweater, it was a very quick knit and super relaxing. Only halfway into this knit, I found myself thinking about which yarn I would knit it in next. I think this will be a repeat project for me, it was simply that nice.


The pattern is Narragansett by Thea Colman. It is knit top down and features gentle cables from the neckline all the way down the sleeves, as well as down the waist (I decided not to knit that particular detail). The pattern is well-written and straight-forward, just how I prefer them. This is such a pretty design, I'm surprised it hasn't been more popular. 


The yarn I used has a special story. It was some antique yarn that my mother discovered recently back home in Kansas. The old, decaying labels provided enough information to know that the yarn had originally come from Massachusetts and that it is 100% wool. My mother knew that I would appreciate this and gave me some in black, light blue, and dark blue. In all, probably enough yarn to make six sweaters in my size! 

It was a little scratchier than I generally prefer, but very warm and certainly precious. 


Have you ever been gifted yarn with a special story?

25 August 2014

Life becomes crazy

Whew, it's been a crazy last few days! It has definitely been one of those periods of time where it feels like every moment has been filled and the days are whirling together into an unintelligible mess.

It was super tough, but I passed my preliminary exam and now officially get to call myself a PhD candidate! Thank you so much for all the well-wishes. I definitely have a lot of people in my life to thank for reaching this little milestone.


Finally, I am able to return my attentions to what I really, truly enjoy doing, being in lab doing experiments. My workspace has been so lonely!

Kitty has been doing well, despite the fact that she is now on a diet on veterinarian's orders. Maybe that's why she starts daydreaming of escape in the middle of grooming...hmmm.


I've been knitting, spinning, weaving, and painting as well. I have had so many exciting creative opportunities and challenges lately as well. I promise to report on those in the near future!

photo-1 (dragged)

Do you have some exciting new ways in which you are challenging yourself creatively? 

19 August 2014

This Week's Challenges


Still working away on my Kennedy sweater.  I finished the body quickly because I love the cabled design so much!  Now I'm slogging through the sleeves, knitting them two-at-a-time definitely helps!


Halfway done with the singles for my Black Jacob 3-ply.  My favorite aspects of this fiber are the smell and the natural color of it.  I think I'll be buying more next time I visit New England!


Thursday I have a graduate school milestone that I have been preparing to face for the last couple of months.  If all goes well and I pass I'll be an official PhD candidate and be able to continue my studies.  I'm nervous and even a little panicky, but stolen moments with fiber and nutritious, homecooked meals prepared by my boyfriend are keeping me sane.

How do you motivate yourself during challenging periods in your life?

15 August 2014

Cinnie Cardigan

A few weeks ago I bound off this little cardigan and as I did so I remembered how throughly enjoyed the process of knitting it.


The pattern is Cinnie by Bonne Marie Burns, the long version, because I'm not a huge fan of shrugs.  The lace charts were highly addictive and surprisingly easy to memorize.  This pattern just made sense to me, clicked nicely at each step along the way.

You may notice that the bottom front of the cardigan is a little tight and pulls up, this is my curse, I can never get those edges where you have to pick up a certain number of stitches quite right.  It's just something I will have to work on!  I'm certain that some persuasive blocking might help me out here.


The yarn is Berroco Vintage dk, a yarn that I have always enjoyed working with.  It was great for the stitch definition required to really make this pattern shine.  Although, I think that if I were to knit this cardigan again (and believe me, I do), I would pick a slightly more crisp yarn, maybe a cotton/wool blend to really bring that lace out.


I'm happy that I'm finishing this cardigan just in time for Fall!

13 August 2014

Dyeing Fiber with Tea II

One of my most popular blog posts and memorable projects was when I dyed fiber with tea a few years ago.  The end product was a gentle color that I have admired every time I've seen it while digging around in my stash.

In addition to having that naturally dyed skein brightening my stash, I had a skein that had the exact opposite effect on me.  It was the result of a past food dye experiment that did not yield very impressive results.  I thought the colors were too light and bland, and almost every time I saw that skein I would think "Someday I'll do something with you, poor little guy".

Lately I've been stockpiling used tea bags and freezing them.  It took me a while to get a substantial number saved because I prefer loose leaf tea, but the other day I decided that it was finally time to put them to good use.

I followed pretty much the same exact method as I did last time, starting with soaking the yarn in a 1:3 white vinegar to water solution.  The colors actually appear much darker here than when they are dry.


Then I added ~30 used tea bags (most of them were generic black teas) to boiling water and let them sit until the water was saturated.


The base yarn was Knit Picks Bare Merino DK, which really dyes well and has an excellent texture following the process, I love working with it.

I removed the tea bags and added my yarn... 


...and ended up with this!  I think it is a huge improvement, the colors are more rich and have a delicate gradient.  The best part of this was, it took very little time and effort for such a wonderful effect.  I'm very pleased with it.


Now that skein won't be pitied anymore and I'm already dreaming of what I'll knit with it!

Do you have any yarn in your stash that just doesn't appeal to you very much?

11 August 2014

New Skills - Weaving

Recently, I was inspired to order a small frame loom.  This inspiration stemmed from many sources, particularly A Beautiful Mess' weaving class.  The second I saw their simple designs and use of texture, I knew that was a perfect way to use and display scraps of handspun yarn.  And believe me, I have quite a few little skeins that I want to use creatively.

I decided to go simple and purchase the Lap Loom A from Harrisville Designs.  I was interested to learn that this vendor is actually a small, family-owned spinnery in New Hampshire, US.  I've been lucky enough to visit an industrial spinnery before and they are really fascinating.  I'm already making plans with my mother to visit this Fall.


The construction of the loom is very sturdy and minimalist, which is how I prefer my tools.  It also came with some of Harrisville Designs' yarns, which were well suited for learning with.

Once I got the hang of the process (not shown here), I picked out some little bits of handspun to experiment with.  Each of the fiber types works differently in this context, so I picked some 100% silk (pink/purple/black), black jacob wool (brown), and a mix of merino and several plant fibers (blue/green) among others.


I still have a few tension and consistency issues, but it's such a relaxing process.  I love watching the strands pile up on each other and seeing how the different fiber concentrations work together.


I'm not the only one jumping into this new world, Evelyn (Project: Stash) recently started weaving as well, her work is gorgeous!

08 August 2014

Onslaught of finished projects

I debated with myself about whether I wanted to blog about some of the projects I've finished so far this year.  I settled on a few that I really wanted to share because I enjoyed them so much!  Also, I must apologize in advance for looking so melancholy in these photos, I have no idea why!

I have been wanting to knit another Gemini for ages, I knit one two years ago and I loved both the process of knitting it and the finished product so much.

The pattern is Gemini by Jane Richmond, published in Knitty, Spring + Summer 2012 and there's something about the simplicity of this pattern that makes it so appealing to me.


The yarn for this top was some that I have treasured for a while now, it was some upcycled cashmere yarn that me and my mother worked together to save.  It was a wonderful process that I detail a little more in a previous post (I estimated that I saved at least $43 a skein by upcycling!).  Knitting this old favorite with such a special yarn made this project particularly memorable.


I also really enjoyed knitting this Rockfall Sweater, which I finished in April.  I love sweaters with an interesting construction and detail, this one is definitely following one of my favorite fashion trends, strategically placed mesh and lace.

The pattern is Rockfall Sweater by Mari Chiba, published in Knitscene, Spring 2013.

PicMonkey Collage

Although I love the end product and this was a fun pattern to knit, I was frustrated by a couple aspects of this project.  For one, I think the sizing runs a little small, if I were to knit this again, I would go up a size for sure.  Secondly, the neckline instructions were vague in places and made it very frustrating.  I ended up having to frog, rewrite, and knit the section several times to make it look right.  I would definitely recommend planning out the neckline before you start on it.


Both of these projects turned out so wonderfully and I'm looking forward to Fall when I can start wearing my new Rockfall sweater!

06 August 2014

Wednesday Works In Progress

Kennedy... I cast this sweater on because I really wanted to join the Summer Sweater KAL with Very Shannon.  The KAL is going until September, so I think I can pull it off!  The pattern is Kennedy by Anniken Allis and I've just reached the cabling section, I always find that exciting!

Black Jacob Handspun... I have been dying to start a new spinning project, it has been months since I've spun anything at all!  The only fiber I had available was some leftover black jacob wool that I used to make some handspun socks for my mother a few years ago.  I love working with this fiber, it's always a simple joy.
100% black jacob wool

Sock Scrap Blanket... I'm still making excellent progress on the cushion cover.  I'm also learning that learning to join crochet squares is particularly challenging with black, fingering weight yarn.

04 August 2014

Crochet Scrap Project - Mystery no more?

Last Wednesday, I spoke a little about this seemingly never-ending WIP.  Basically, I had leftovers of Araucania Itata Multy in five different colorways and thought it was a great opportunity to do something special with those matching scraps.

I bought five different skeins of this in a closeout sale at Webs about five years ago, when I just started getting seriously addicted to knitting.  I loved the sheen of the yarn and the gorgeous colorways.  I'm not crazy about Araucania as a yarn producer, largely because all the other experiences I've had with their yarns have been very disappointing.  But I've loved every chance I've had to work with Itata Multy, which I talk about more in this past post --> Speaking of Yarn - Araucania Itata Multy

So, for about a year I've been slowly crocheting my scrap skeins into little granny circles.  Recently I came to the end of the scraps and decided it was finally time to work these into something interesting.


Both Sarah (Sezza Knits) and Lisa (Wickedly Artsy) cleverly recommended that I make these into a cushion cover.  Every day, I tackled a row, adding the edges...


And now I'm learning how to join granny squares, which is a very satisfying process.


Now, I just have to sort out the sewing aspect of this project, which will probably require a trip to the fabric store! 

01 August 2014

Sunshine Rug

A little while ago, I finished this sunny rug.


The pattern was dreamt up along the way, using what I lovingly call my larger crochet hook (that's right guys, I now own two crochet hooks!).


The yarn is Cascade Yarns Sierra in gold (colorway: 443) and a green (unknown colorway), which is 80% cotton and 20% merino.  It is a nice blend to work with, although I think it is discontinued now.

I probably knit this yarn up into three garments (remember this one?), hating and frogging each one.  I generally have this issue with cotton or bamboo yarns even when blended with wool, it is just so difficult to get them to fit with most projects I try.

But the color made me so happy!  So I decided, why not crochet it into a pretty rug?  Now this seemingly doomed yarn sits in my stash no longer.


Surprise, surprise, kitty loves it too!