March 27, 2013

Spring Yarn Spotlight

As promised, new Rocket Sock colorways have begun to arrive in my Etsy shop. I've tried to mix it up a little so I have some brights and some pastels. I am not usually a fan of pinks or reds, but I have to say that I'm rather smitten with two of these new colorways: Sweetheart and Poppies. So here they are, the first of my 2013 Spring/Summer colorways!






Each of these colorways features at least one of Pantone's color picks for spring 2013.  All of these skeins have been hand painted, meaning the dye has been applied by hand in some way rather than the skeins having been submerged or dyed in a factory.  All of my yarns are unbleached, meaning that the fibers retain their natural tencil strength.  In case you are wondering, I don't use a microwave, and these dyes aren't derived from Kool-Aid.  All of my dyes are non-toxic acid dyes that require no baking in the oven or cooking in the microwave, or DIY kitchen-dying tricks, and all of my dyes are fixed.  There will be no running of color and no fading to grey or some noxious color once you've finished your masterpiece and want to block it or wash it.  This is a yarn you will love for years to come! 

Happy Spring to you and your knitting!

March 26, 2013

Double Knitting Unraveled

Over the weekend, since my newly acquired respiratory misery (aka the cold Honey passed on to me) had me feeling like doing nothing but being still, I took advantage of the gloomy weather and my gloomy condition to watch and to swatch the double knitting Craftsy class that Honey bought me for my birthday in January. Despite the awkwardness in front of the camera of the presenter, the whole process was pretty darned simple and I whipped out a swatch in no time. I even figured out how to troubleshoot the few stitches that were the wrong color for the pattern while I waited for the video to buffer (that's one issue I always have with Craftsy classes, the inadvertent buffering every 8 minutes or so).

But here's the thing that confused me, and I am here to tell you that it doesn't have to be so confusing: the stupid chart. Once you understand that each box represents 2 stitches, then you should be good to go. But for this class and its charts, there is no key. There are no knitting symbols. There's just an elementary shaded graph, and if you lose track of which color to switch from purl stitch to knit stitch, well you are up a creek. So here's what I would suggest if you are new to double knitting: grab a coloured pencil and color in your wrong-side boxes. That way you can see that on the wrong side you are working in reverse of the right side pattern and your brains don't get scrambled, even if it looks like the chart does.The chart below is "fixed" so that I can follow the color changes on paper instead of in my head, and it does make the chart, which turns out to be that cute little swatch, look a bit wonky, but it was a snap to knit with. 

Here's another trick. If you accidentally unravel too many stitches when you pull out your slip knot because those last 2 stitches before the slip knit are just slipped and not worked with the rest of the first row, just take the tail, remake your long-tail V, and cast on again whatever you dropped. No point in ripping out the row and casting on again.

And now that my internet connectivity--or should I say lack thereof--is restored despite 4 days of no internet and a string of very technologically challenged outsourced-to-India "technical support" agents (and that's in quotes because they are, hypothetically speaking, capable of providing tech support but are not actually able to provide it), I will be showing off 5 new Rocket Sock colorways tomorrow, so check back tomorrow.  Same bat time, same bat channel.

March 21, 2013

Little Victories

It's been a busy week so far in the knitting department, but it seems as if I haven't made much progress on anything at all. There have been a few small accomplishments to note, however. I managed to get through the first 24-row repeat on the Shalimar shawl that I began about three weeks ago.

That doesn't seem like much, unless you've attempted this pattern yourself and had to rip out and re-knit a few rows about 90 times each or, say, dropped a stitch on row 6 with purl-through-the-back-loops and a gazillion yarn overs (and every row before that has those) and your dropped stitch unravels itself five rows in the wrong direction. (insert dramatic pause) Somehow I managed to work that stitch up to its proper place through all of the ssk, yo, pb2tog stitches.  We won't talk about just how LONG that took to do, but let's suffice to say that if this knitting instructor had followed her own instructions and put in a life line, this catastrophic event would never have taken place! (I do feel a little like a knitting superhero for having been able to fix it, though, wink, wink.)

The green silk Lila scarf has made it to 24 inches after a few days of carpool line knitting. I've discovered that I can get this same 3-ply silk noil yarn from my supplier, so look for my own collection of color ways in this yarn that knits up like a dream in April.

Despite a two-day hiatus because I was waiting for the rest of my yarn order to show up, I've almost made it through the yoke on my top-secret seamless cabled sweater project. The hands are getting tired and are full of complaints today from working with worsted wool on US 6 needles for the last week, so the needles aren't exactly moving at record speed. I'd really expected to be done with the yoke and onto the body by now.  It looks like raspberry in the photo, but it's really such a dark wine color that I had to lighten it so that y'all could see it.

And who knew that it would take 3 hours today for the stars to align long enough for me to get a decent 3-minute video recorded of myself for my application for Skacel's The Fiber Factor competition? If it wasn't the dog wanting in, out, or on my lap it was the trash truck, the recycling truck, and the power company crew with their total annihilation tree trimmer mixing up a pretty obnoxious soundtrack. I don't know how video bloggers do it!!  Anyway, all 10 parts of the application have been submitted and maybe I'll hear back from the selections committee. Maybe not. Fingers crossed.

And last but not least, I was finally able to get more of the base yarn for my Rocket Sock line, and it's going to be a stay-inside-and-dye kind of weekend, weather-wise, so look for some new colorways early next week.

Until then, be grateful for the little knitting victories in your life!

March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Although I am not Irish, I do have a bit of green on the needles.  I have an increasing number of high-focus projects in the "must do" basket, but every day I have to sit in the carpool lane at three different schools waiting to pick up children, and knitting them while sitting in the driver's seat is just asking for catastrophe.  Thus, I've cast on another Lila scarf, which is pretty much the most automatic lace knitting I've ever done, in a gorgeous hand-dyed skein of pure silk from Dragonfly Fibers that I picked up at Stitches South last year.  Unlike the last skein I pulled out of the stash, this one is more than happy to cooperate.  I'm not a big knitter of silk, and I don't often dye it unless it's blended with another fiber, but I am absolutely enamored of this particular skein and hope that the other two that I picked up in cranberry and grey handle just as nicely.  I don't think I am even going to have to block this one.  Here's hoping that your weekend knitting is being kind to you, too!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 08, 2013

Pesky Yarn Trials

Sometimes I find a skein or two of yarn in a yarn shop or online and the yarn strikes me as being something I absolutely CANNOT live without!  I have zero thoughts as to what that skein can be become, but into the stash it goes.  And then it sits there, pitifully unattended with sad puppy eyes, begging me to play with it until I relent and discover that there isn't a darned thing that can be done with this pesky skein of yarn.

Case in point:

Last year about this time, we took a family vacation to San Francisco.  It was an itinerary requirement that we go to at least three yarn shops while we were there.  So over the bridge to Oakland we went to visit a charming little LYS called "Verb for Keeping Warm" in a VERY sketchy neighborhood.  The point of going to this yarn shop was to check out yarn that was organically dyed.  Between the behavior of my then 8 year-old and my husband's extremely vociferous argument with a co-worker on the phone--turns out sound carries embarrassingly well in a shop that has three straight concrete walls--I was in and out in record time.  I snagged a hank of silk/BFL in a DK weight and dyed with indigo and some roving, I think.  To make a long story short, the indigo has been calling to me more and more lately.  Having just finished the Lila scarf in 100% baby alpaca Wednesday afternoon ...

(now available for purchase in my Etsy shop) and having just begun an insanely complicated sport weight lace shawl (my knitting class students are going to kill me for choosing this pattern at the next class, I feel certain), I felt that I needed a purse project to replace the Lila scarf that I've been carrying around for three weeks.  I thought, "Hey, I'll knit that hank of indigo into some fingerless gloves."  But that didn't work out.  This yarn has ZERO elasticity.  I'm having a hard time believing that it is wool and not dreaded cotton. I mean ZERO elasticity.  But it's kettle-dyed yarn, so you can't just knit any pattern with it.  I've tried a cabled scarf swatch.  I've tried a trinity stitch swatch.  I've tried lacey columns.  I've tried plain ol' garter stitch.  NOTHING looks right and that yarn is just so crazy that it's not even like knitting with yarn.  It's like knitting with a plastic cord.  I might just do stockinette and make some sort of mobius cowl.  If that doesn't work, it's definitely going back into the stash to think about its transgressions.

In the meantime ... I've decided to knit another Lila scarf, only this time in 100% hand-painted green silk.  It's behaving very nicely and is offering me no pesky nonsense.

I hope your yarn is nicer to you than mine has been this week!


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