Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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I was so pleased to finish the Black Fluffy Thing and the Vintage Unvelvet and cross them off my WIP list! Down to 65! (AND, cross off 2 gifts as well.) But then, I realized that the Multidirectional Silk Scarf I started last week never made it onto my WIP list, so I had to add it in. Up to 66. And then, I started a new project, a scarf for a New Year's gift... So, back to 67. Hahaha. You see how this works? This holiday and gift knitting thing is going to throw a monkey wrench into the whole WIP Management thing.

Vintage Unvelvet

Vintage Unvelvet
Started: 11/3/05
Finished: 11/16/05
Pattern: "Vintage Velvet" by Lisa Daniels, Scarf Style
Yarn: Mini Mills 75% cashmere / 25% merino, one 4 oz skein
Needles: #8
Notes: The Vintage Unvelvet was mostly a joy to knit. The pattern really bothered me for the first, oh, 3 feet. There is just enough difference between the front and the back that I have to look several times each row to make sure I'm putting the knits and purls in the right place. Can't watch TV, can't read blogs. But, the last foot and a third I got over it. Maybe it was the crappy late night TV... I really like the way it looks; this yarn shows off the pattern much better than the Touch Me. The cashmere blend is extremely soft (that's where the "joy to knit" comes in), but might deposit bits of cashmere fluff on unsuspecting fleece... haha, not the sheep kind of fleece, silly. I'm still not crazy about the color, and I hope the recipient doesn't mind it too much... But if so, I'll consider dyeing it. Not with Kool Aid. Not this year.

Black Fluffy Thing

Black Fluffy Thing
Started: 11/10/05
Finished: 11/16/05
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Zegna Baruffa Mousse, tripled
Needles: #10
Notes: The pattern was kept simple because anything more would get lost in the black and boucle. And while the pattern irritated me (mostly because I couldn't see it), the last foot and a half didn't bother me at all. Maybe it was the home stretch. Maybe it was burned onto my brain. Maybe it was the extra light from pulling the floor lamp closer to me. The scarf grew a bit in the wash (almost 6"), and the fringe got a little ratty (gave it a trim). But it did get softer! I wasn't crazy about the yarn, but that could have been the needle size as well. But since it got softer with a wash, I may skein and wash before using next time. May as well try, I have pounds of it left.

Yesterday was a day of knitting penance. Or torture. Or both.

I knit another foot on the Black Fluffy Thing. It's a simple pattern, but just complicated enough that I can't watch TV or read blogs while knitting. Maybe if it wasn't knit with 3 strands of fuzzy black loopy, maybe if I could actually see the pattern without inspecting, maybe then I could. It's 2 feet long now. 3 more to go. I figure one foot a day should do it, just enough to be painful but not enough to actually go insane. This one needs to be sent out asap.

On the plus side, Scott approved the black color!

Next I knit another foot on the Vintage Unvelvet. Lovely cashmere softness. 3 feet now, 2 to go. As I was putting it down (with great relief and pride at my fortitude), I noticed the ball of yarn looked smallish. In a panic I weighed it. 1.25 oz left. 4 oz in the ball. 3 feet complete. My equations in Excel tell me I will have enough yarn for 52.36 inches, or just more than 4' 4". Is this enough? Enough scarf, I mean? For a man? (Oh, the agony. I had to choose a cabled pattern, didn't I. Just had to. When I knew I only had one ball.) The scarf that Grumperina just knit for her dad was 53" plus a bit of fringe, and it was specially requested at that length. So there is hope...

On the plus side, what I do have looks really nice! (And I really do enjoy knitting with this yarn; the pressure is beginning to spoil that, must be careful.)

Last, I knit some more of Gram's sock.

Gram's socks - 1st sock

I don't know why I'm not knitting it faster. I'm just not enjoying it. It's Fleece Artist sock yarn,

Fleece Artist sock yarn

beautiful blues and purples, soft. (The one unphotographed Canadian souvenir.) Maybe the needles feel small for the yarn. Maybe I'm bored of stockinette socks after knitting 3 pair just like it. It's hard to say. But her birthday is coming up, so I'll have to work on that fortitude thing and suck it up.

After all that, it was ME ME ME time. I resisted the urge to start a new project and picked up a dusty Hourglass Sweater that I started in March (I was pleased to find I had only started it this year; some of my dusty WIPs are much, much older).

Hourglass Sweater - body

I was about 9" in when I stopped; if I remember correctly, I was worried about a bulky hemmed bottom, and about the softness of the yarn. It's Tragelly's Silk Blend singles in Desert Shadow; it's got wool and silk, and it's fairly soft, but is it Cash Iroha next-to-the-skin soft? Not sure...

Hmm... Now that I've spelled it all out, is this such a good idea? To keep knitting? Invest hours and hours on something I may not quite like or wear?

Enh, I've done worse.

Okay, I'll temper that. I'll knit to the armpits and then slip it off the needles and try it on.

My first knitalong!

Can you feel it? The holiday knitting pressure? I'm feeling it. That's why I joined my first knitalong:

The Who Wouldn't Love A Handknitted Gift?! Along, aka Knit Some Holiday Cheer.

Alison is running this one; she has instructions on her blog for signing up, so come join us! Let the madness end.

I've been wanting to try out Kool Aid dyeing for a while now. Finally gave it a go!

This is a soft merino roving/top, about 1 oz. See how soft and fluffy? (You can click on the photos to see more detail.)

Dyeing fiber - merino

I added enough water to fully cover and let soak for at least an hour while we prepared and ate dinner. It felt weird squishing it, not at all as I expected. Like there was a sheath around it.

Dyeing fiber - soaking

When I was ready to dye, I poured out the excess water and placed the fiber on a garbage bag.

I had pre-mixed a few Kool Aid packets in small jars, each with 2 tablespoons of water. The blue is Blue Moon Berry. The red is Solar Strawberry StarFruit and Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade (they looked pretty close so I used them more or less together). I used a small child's medicine dosing syringe and went at it. Probably used too much for what I was trying to do, I was actually hoping for a more dot-like effect, but got carried away.

Dyeing fiber - with dye

Yep, Kool Aid does dye.

Dyeing fiber - dyed fingers

I zapped in the microwave for 2 minutes x 3. Between each zapping I took a paper towel and dabbed to see if the dyes came off.

Dyeing fiber - cooked

It looks so... mangy. I imagine sheep do when they're soaked to the bone. Dogs do...

Now that it's done, I'm guessing the colors will bleed while I'm spinning and end up a murky brown. Maybe more blocks of color would work better. Or sticking with the dots, smaller and more separated. Well, we'll see. It'll be an adventure!

It's cooling; it's hard to be patient, I want to do something with it!

Seaweed Love blocking

Seaweed Love - blocking

Lookie what came in the mail -- stitchmarkers and soap from soapfibergal! They're from a trade on The Knitty Coffeeshop. I couldn't wait to use them. Look how purty! And they match the yarn perfectly.

Bead Stitch Markers

The soap smells wonderful. Thank you, soapfibergal!

Soap

What's that thing with the stitchmarkers, you ask? Yep, that's right, new project. I couldn't help myself. A friend was having trouble with the Multidirectional Silk Scarf on Magknits so I did a swatch to see what was going on, and well, this is what happened:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - in progress

Me loves the colors, but I'm worried about how it will look in the end. The garter borders are knit in cashmere/wool from Danette Taylor, and the multidirectional part is her silk boucle. The original pattern calls for Artyarns Regal Silk, which is much slinkier. Here it is up close:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - closeup

You can sorta make out the square that I just knit. Because it's boucle it doesn't have the same give, so... well, we'll see.

I took the plunge and steam blocked the Silky Soft Confection. Fingers are crossed.

Silky Soft Confection - blocking

The cashmere scarf is now about a foot long. Below is the back, which looks a little different from the front. The pattern is Vintage Velvet from Scarf Style. The original is knit with Muench's Touch Me, hence the "velvet"; but since mine is so very not velvet, I'm calling mine Vintage Unvelvet. Original, eh?

Vintage Unvelvet - in progress

And finally, I did some spinning! The brown is coopworth 2-ply. Worked on my long draw and non-parking techniques. It's a worsted to bulky weight, which was tough to do on my spindle (it's too light; good for finer yarns, though). Mebbe time to shop around for a second spindle. Any suggestions?

18: Brown coopworth 2-ply

The bottom skein is the Northern Mist quiviut/alpaca/merino blend that I spun the other day. I wound it around a small water bottle, and then put the ball around my wrist and plied it that way. Of course, it wasn't until it was all wound that I realized an empty water bottle would be easier...

I had seen a photo of something like this somewhere and thought I'd try it out. I like this method much better than the over-the-shoulders method. The ends don't twist around each other so much and I have much more control drawing them out. On the down side, it does take longer to wind. There's probably a way to incorporate the yarnwinder, maybe add something to the cone to increase the diameter...

Before I met Scott he hardly ever wore sweaters. He couldn't find any he liked. He's allergic to wool (that's a whole other topic right there). But he LIKES sweaters. In fact, he likes the look of certain wool sweaters, especially tweedy wool sweaters. He likes roll necks and sleeves. He likes slouchy sweaters; if necessary he will (attempt to) buy a sweater two sizes too big to achieve that look. He likes ... subdued colors.

When he finds a sweater he LIKES, Hurrah! Hurrah!

So when I found him the most special sweater -- light grey tweedy look with roll neck and cuffs, casual, roomy, and not a jot of wool -- I was excited for him. He didn't pick it up because it looked like wool. What a find! And next to it, sweater number two: dark blue/grey tweedy look with wide ribs, casual, roomy.

The sweaters received much care, wear, attention. They made him happy. But, sadly, his sweaters don't have a long shelf life. They shrink. This is a cause of great sadness.

My first knitters tip: don't put it in the dryer. That helped.

My second knitters tip: stretch it out when it's wet. That helped some more.

But when these failed and the most special sweater was too short to wear, it was a dark day indeed.

But wait! I'm a knitter! I'm (sorta) fearless! I just read about recycling sweaters!

We made a plan. Sweater number two took one for the team.

Sweater number two - recycled

And the most special sweater was gonna get a graft. Extensions, if you will. A "regrow".

Except it was almost summer and who wants to work on a fall sweater in the summer???

Ahem.

Time passed.

Here are the beginnings of the "regrow":

Regrow - in progress

With right side facing, I picked up stitch for stitch all around the cuff. Here's the inside:

Regrow - in progress

It seems a smooth transition (no pun intended). And when I unroll the cuff, you can see a slight puckering at the pick up point, which I hope will remain hidden in the roll.

Regrow - in progress

My first pick up attempt was a few rows below, where the ribbing ends, and was done with wrong side facing. Besides the puckering, the roll no longer rolled, just sorta folded over; and since it was picked up wrong side facing (what was I thinking?), it wasn't a smooth transition. This time, I looked at where the natural roll occurred and picked up a row or so higher.

Holiday knitting

Here be a new scarf I started using the cashmere/merino yarn I picked up at Mini Mills in PEI.

Vintage Unvelvet - in progress

The scarf is for... a man. That's all I'm gonna say.