Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Knitting in Brooklyn

Part of why this poor blog has languished the past few years is I have been going through a massive amount of transition on the work front. I haven't added up this year's miles yet, but last year was over 100,000 miles. 

Much of that was back and forth to New York for a summer gig. The company rented us an apartment in Cobble Hill, which I highly recommend if you ever get the chance.

Literally a block from our apartment was La Casita, a yarn store and wine bar with a small cafe.

When I travel I tend to get quickly overwhelmed with a lot of people (hellooo New York). So when I can I usually take a few hours to head to a local yarn store. I have several reasons for this:

  • It is a great way to check out the public transportation. I am a public transport nut.
  • I hate going someplace I may never go again and only seeing the lobby of a Marriott. We have those here.
  • Yarn stores are always in that section of town. The one with real local coffee shops and book stores. You get a real sense of place.
  • Each store is different. I know, they fundamentally all sell string, but you learn so much about a place from these little visits.
And I have seen some things I never would have other wise. In Dallas I happened across a QuinceaƱera where all the girls were escorted in on horseback. BTW that was not happening in the lobby of the convention center. In LA I got to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time since I visited my brother in Tokyo. In Denver I learned that public transportation was not full of the habitually sober. It is a great way to quickly get a feel for a city.

SO this past fall we made a trek back up to NY for Maker Faire. We got the chance to stop by Cobble Hill again for the afternoon. Here is the window display from that trip:

If you are ever in Brooklyn and need some string this is the best yarn store I found there. I know, I know, Purl Soho is only a subway how away. And it is worth going too, but I really prefer La Casita. The selection is amazing, and they serve sake in the cafe, which is perfect for keeping the mister occupied and mellow while yarn is happening.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Where's Wenda

We had to do a booth a Fall Festival last month. It was one of those awful situations where you find out three days in advance that you need to have a costume.

Knit faster!

It was done by the time the kids arrived. The shirt and hat are now stored forever in the Halloween box, just in case. The Where's Waldo theme was only recognizable by the adults, frankly I got a lot of pitying looks from the short-stuffs. "At least you tired I guess".

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sweater for Little-Sis

The resident eleven year old recently announced she needed a sweater. These moments don't come often, so this is a drop-everything situation. We looked at pictures and he decided a Norwegian sweater would be best.

At first she was thinking along these lines:

Which is pretty amazing. It is by Shiri Mor and I think is about everything I love in a sweater. Little-sis mostly liked the hair. After a visit to the Knitting Basket she changed her mind to brown and blue and wanted a bit more input into the pattern, plus "more snow-ish". And for the record, if you are in Richmond and HAVEN'T been to the new location for the Knitting Basket it is worth a trip. Decent selection and super friendly. 

Back to the sweater, the base is just plain old Fisherman's wool. I have a serious love affair with that stuff. Once ball is enough for an entire kid sweater plus some. Two balls is enough for a sweater for me. I'm guessing the mister would be three if he let me knit for him. The blue is some left over Knit Picks and Rowan.

So we swatched, and liked it OK. I tend to do a rough swatch, then start with a sleeve. If gauge hold true, you are fine. If you are wildly off, frogging a few inches of sleeve isn't too painful.


And then we measured, and swatched some more:

And hated it. Dark blue on the brown is too hard to see, and not nearly "snow-ish" enough. So then then we watched Star Trek and planned:

I use Excel for planning out knitting. Just set the column width to 3 and use the fill option to create your pattern. Very easy to copy and paste to create repeats. Then I swatched again - much better. It caused a lot of happy bouncing.

It has been a lot of fun planning this with her. Big sis usually want something very "one color" and there's not a lot of chit-chat about design. Little-sis, like everything else in her world, throws herself head on into the process.

Some details:
  • Yarn weight: worsted
    • Lion Brand Nature's Brown
    • Rowan Pure Wool Worsted in 2 blues
    • Knit Picks Swish in Big Sky
  • Needles: Size 5
  • Gauge: 5 st/inch, 7 rows/inc in plain sections, 6 rows/inch in stranded parts
General plan is to knit the body in the round with a steek. I am leaving 10 stitches for the steek. I originally cast on 140, then realized that once I added 1" button bands to the opening it was going to be a mite big. So I absorbed an extra 8 stitches into the steek with some ktog over several rows. My figuring is the extra fabirc in the first seven rows will just get folded back ito the steek.

Size is coming out just right. Sleeves and half the lower body are done. I'd like to get this together before she has another massive growth spurt. She'd like it a bit smaller, but I am banking on growth.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Darn it!

This fall's knitting theme has been finish it/fix it. Fortunately after the last crazy year I have plenty of fuel. Between leaving one job and starting a non-profit sleep, much less knitting time, has been at a premium around here.

Darned sock - the same yarn was used for the darn and the original sock. The fading was terrible.

The best part of fix it/finish it is the time from re-picking up the project to completion is so much faster. Lots of finished things flying off the needles. My main fix it inspiration has been Tom of Holland - The Visible Mending Programme: making and re-making.

Before weaving in the ends

These socks are about 5 years old. I bought the yarn while in Lynchburg doing an AP Computer Science training several years back, and we very excited about the bright colors.. The yarn has held up well, but the color was a dud after the first washing. Machine washed in cold water - so no chance heat did this. Had the store not been 3 hours away I definitely would have tried to return the yarn.

The idea of using mending as decoration and art is fascinating. I've been avoiding reinforcing these socks because the yarn had faded so badly that the original yarn didn't even look similar. The darns you see here are in the original yarn. Quite the difference. Finally last week the heel busted out, so it was either fix or toss. I still can't toss hand knitted socks.


I darned by marking off a large rectangle around the worn area. I went out beyond the busted yarn until I found yarn that wasn't thinning. I picked up stitches beneath this rectangle and knitted a flap long enough to cover the hole, then sewed down the edges. The first time I got fance and tried picking up the stitches from the sock along the edge of the flap and incorporate them as I knit. Big mistake - terrible puckering and a big lump under my heel.

The fixes went well, and I added some color back to the front the stitching on some hearts on the toes.

Before washing I plan on using the method talked about in the Knitmore Girls podcast for locking in color.

Full story and solution here.

It is interesting. I had this issue when I first started dyeing. I've since mastered it, and haven't had a repeat. It is sad someone selling their work has this drastic an issue. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Color Mixing

My new obsession: Dyeing Yarn

Sunday I finished dyeing my birthday stash. I'll try to get photos up this week.

My last batch turned out great - lilac and acid green, my favorites.

My second to last batch turned out awful. DREADFUL. I was trying to do several colors. I wanted a light celadon and a salmon. I need to practice getting colors exactly. They ended up way too dark.

Ironically I ended up with yarn the exact color of my collection of Gap socks from the late eighties.

So in my search to fix my color problems: Color Scheme Designer

This site is addictive.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Envy these socks!

Finished socks!


This is the yarn I dyed last weekend. My goal was to dye and finish a pair of socks for spring break-laundry be damned!

 Here is the heel detail. This was my fist toe up gusset which worked petty well. The pattern on the heel is from an old knitting book from 1915. It was supposed to form a diamond pattern - so clearly I got a bit off. I still like the way it works out. It incorporates yarn overs (yarn in front if you are from 1925) and slipped stitched. I'd like to play with it again and see if I can get it right. Either way, this made a nice cushy heel flap, so it is not quite correct, but I do consider it a success, seeing as I now have new socks and all.

I also tried to do the two at a time thing for the leg part. I can see why people like it...when you are done, you are DONE, which is very appealing. In all honesty I would have made these longer if I had been using my DPN's. I can roll much faster, and the circular needle is fiddly, and I am not so much on fiddly stuff. My cheapo circs don't really help[, so I probably ought to invest in a better pair of needles and try it again.

The basic yarn is KnitPicks bare which I rather like, soft, and my other socks I have done in it have worn well. With my Dahrma Trading Company order I get some Wildfoote Luxury Sock yarn. A bit scratchy before dyeing, but afterwards it softens up. My plan is to crank out a pair in that ASAP. That way I can compare how these socks and the Wildefoote wear over the next year. If it about the same then the Knitpicks is much cheaper. They both are 75% wool 25% nylon, so the race is on.

Of course this means (in my sad little math brain) that I cannot wear these socks again until I have the second pair, so they do not get over-used before the second pair is ready.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Green with Envy

My birthday present to myself this week - dyeing yarn.

This is with the new Jacquard iDye packs. Kelly green and royal blue. I live in a town with a huge college art program and all our local art stores had was the iDye stuff.

In fairness Plaza Art can do special orders for the regular Jacquard acid dyes, but I didn't plan this out so well. The order wouldn't get here until next week. Whoops.

So I've been playing with the iDyes until my order from Dharma Trading Company gets here.

Spring cleaning is almost done. If the laundry isn't washed by this afternoon it's not happening. Next two days I'll be up to my elbows in yarn.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hyperbolic Coral Reef

We sent the day at the Natural History Museum today. Hands down our favorite museum. This was the first time we got to see the new human origins exhibit. While I miss the old dioramas, this one is really well done. Lots of interactive stuff for the kiddos and lots for the husband to read. I even got the heel flap on my sock done while they were all doing their thing.

This is a must see: it is a giant crocheted coral reef. I'm on my iTouch (free wiFi- thanks Smithsonian!) so I'll try to add more photos tomorrow. This thing is incredible. All sorts of materials were used. I spotted cassette tape and Noro in the mix. Huge hit.

Edited to add photo:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yarn vs. Urn

I love this, but I'm saving up for yarn.


Next week is Spring Break, and my birthday. My gift to myself this year is to do some dyeing over break.

Some references for dyeing yarn
  • Great Inspiration - they have beutiful colors and lots of information about the yarns they use: Sunshine Yarns
  • Blank Yarn for Socks - this cone has 5500 yards!! That's enough for over 12 skeins at 450 yards each: Yarn Workshop
  • Color and Style trends Cosmo Worlds 
  • Color trends for clothing and household - lots of great ideas: Design Options