Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dye lots - a cautionary tale

So, you remember that I had those three skeins of ruinously expensive silk/wool Claudia Hand Painted yarn that eventually got made into a Möbius wrap, which I then frogged? I was left again with the dilemma of possessing yarn I wanted to use that was too nice to make something non-splendid with, but had too little of to make anything big.

Stroke of luck - the lovely WEBS had the same yarn on sale at half price and there was a pattern I wanted to do, so I purchased another three skeins. When they arrived I swore the order was wrong. Actually, I just swore. A lot. Here's why:

That's right, well spotted. The one on the right is the original dye lot, the one on the left is the new one. They look very, very different. Every part that was black on the original skeins is a blueish grey on the new ones. The colour number and name were the same, but I ask you, does the lighter one look as if it should be called Midnight? No? Well that's the name of the shade.

A little variation between dye lots is normal. I bought some yarn in the UK from two shops that each had about half of what I wanted, so I accepted the slight variation in colour. It's so slight that the photo below barely shows it.

To get over the difference if I was making a sweater I could use one batch for the body and another for the ribbing. Or I could alternate between skeins of the two versions (knit two rows in one, then two in another, and on.) Will try that with so-called Midnight and see how it works out for this cardigan.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My poor, neglected blog

My only excuse is that I've been too busy knitting and, you know, having a life, to post much to you. I still feel bad about it though. I never even posted my MIL's Christmas present, a green sleeveless V-neck made per her request. It worked out quite well and I look forward to forcing her to wear it modelling it when I am back in the UK in September.

Of course, I have made another hat. This time it's my third Shedir, hopefully for me and just as a hat, not a chemo cap. And no, my head isn't that shape or colour, but the medicine ball shows up a hat's pattern beautifully.

As a crazy European, I also made a string bag. Now I just need a real market, preferably in France, where I can browse stalls of gorgeous, locally-produced fruit and vegetables, sample cheeses of character, break crusty bread and even find a bottle or three of young red wines. Then I can stuff all those goodies into this bag.

Too small, you say? Won't accommodate all that, you say? Well you, my friend, are so wrong. This baby can take five dozen full-sized bagels. Baker's dozens at that. See?

Whether I could still lift it with all that swag in it is another matter.

Monday, March 29, 2010

While I was away ...

... I managed to complete loads of stuff.

Such as, the beautiful but damned near unwearable Naga socks. Those babies have almost no ease at all. Once on they fit really well, but getting them on and off is a menace.

Made Cookie A's wonderful Monkey. They fitted me pretty well, but a friend was about to go to a university whose team colours I'd made the socks in, so I gave them to her.

Also continued my love affair with all things Noro, making the Noro Silk Garden Striped Scarf that was so much in evidence on ravelry and the knitting blogosphere last winter. The yarn was a delight to work with and the resulting colour changes were mesmerising. I am looking longingly at Noro Silk Garden sock yarn but those will be such spectacular socks I don't know who to make them for, or if I'd ever get enough wear out of them myself.

Perhaps my happiest bit of knitting was turning a truly awful crocheted scarf on which I'd squandered some terrific wool I'd bought in Reykjavik during one of the two visits I've made (so far, intend to go back) to Iceland. It was too big, itchy and never got used. Big scarves look good on Tom Baker-era Dr Who, not me.

I frogged it and made it into a very useful felted bag, which I lined with and made handles out of some left over silk grosgrain that I'd bought for a client during my dress-making days. I may shave the wool slightly as it's a bit too fuzzy and starting to pill due to much use.

The Scot in me thoroughly approves of not giving up on good yarn just because it was in a bad project. I'm now looking at a few other vile dreadful useless ill-conceived projects that can be considered a waste of good yarn.

The Möbius wrap that sucked up three skeins of wool/silk has already been frogged. Such lovely (and expensive) yarn - I can't waste it on something that won't get used and I don't love. Thinking of making a cowl in the Monkey stitch from Cookie A's sock.

Yarn Crawl

The wonderful Dom, who is a born organiser as well as being a talented knitter and funny guy, got a load of us together to take a trip into Manhattan. We boarded a very comfortable bus at Fairfield RR Station and made our merry way into the city (our way being made all the merrier by the Mimosas that Mireli kindly brought with her).

Once in the city we hit various fibre porn yarn stores, broke for lunch, hit more stores, than back on the bus to Connecticut, with wine, cheese, crudités, cream puffs and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Does Dom know how to throw a party for yarnheads, or what?

School Products
Purl SoHo
Knitty City (think this site is currently undergoing some construction work)
The Yarn Company

Sharon, Jackie and I had a delicious meal at Bistro Les Amis round the corner from Purlsoho. Entirely civilised. (The three of us also sneaked a few minutes at Zabar's, where the cheese counter took a direct hit and I was able to get the weekend breakfast I used to get my husband and me during the years we lived at 53rd and Eighth - Zabar's own orange juice, croissants and pain au chocolat. Yum.)

I may post photos of the crazily wonderful silk thread I got at School Products. If only I'd taken my camera for the trip, but I was too laden with water, money and a knitting project.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time just keeps slippin', slippin' ...

Poor blog, how I've neglected you. My only real excuse is that I've been knitting, rather than writing about knitting. And organizing a school reunion (quite why I and another classmate who also lives in the States are organising a reunion in London of a school we attended in Hertfordshire is the subject for a long, preferably drunken, rant at another time).

The big news is that the Path of Flowers stole in done and I love it! I take back everything bad I said about Rowan Cracksilk Kidsilk Haze. It's wonderful to the touch, incredibly warm and still very lightweight. When I next see some at anything like a sensible price I will buy it, mortgage and stash storage space availability be damned.

This was my first time using lace blocking rods and they are worth every penny (thank you Knit Picks). It took ages to thread them through the edges, but they gave a beautifully straight and clean edge to the piece, and let it block out enough to see the pattern detail easily.

I've also been having fun using up left-over yarn (mostly Manos del Uruguay) trying my hand at Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket. It was thrilling to make - so different in construction than any other sweater I've done - that I was quite giddy at times. Also confused, because it looked like this for a while.

Not many rows, a little stitching and some crochet edging later it looked like this.

The buttons have Chinese/Japanese-looking ideograms on them, that I can only hope are meaningless, or at least not obscene, especially since I just sent it to a friend in Japan, for his first child to wear.

I contemplated making an adult-sized Surprise Jacket, but every single one I looked at on Ravelry was shapeless in a way that would do me no favours at all. I have quite enough garments that don't suit me (I am trying to get rid of them, but some are so comfortable I can't quite bring myself to sling them).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Been away so long ...

So much knitting, working, living, that no blogging has happened for a while.

The Lizard Ridge blanket is gorgeous. I finally used 20 skeins of Noro Kureyon, mattress stitched the five resulting strips together and edged in very plain crochet using Cascade 220. A rinse in the washing machine on Delicate and it was ready to pin out on the spare bed.

The cat hopped up on to the damp wool before I had even finished blocking, tried to claw it and then settled down for a good, fur-bearing scratch. He had to be escorted from the room and the door closed over night while the blanket dried.

However, despite the feline terrorist's best efforts, the result of all those short rows is very pleasing and now draped over the back of the navy blue sofa in the front room.

Also finished the Starsky, despite using the wrong yarn for the project. The stuff I used (Bernat Bamboo in shade Linen) doesn't have much stitch definition and is currently shedding like a Golden Retriever in hot weather.

However, it's a pretty nice pattern and I've worn it quite a bit already. The yarn's texture has helped cover up the mistakes too, so much so that even my A-Type knitting personality was able to chill the hell out relax and refrain from frogging.

The self-patterning socks are ... finished. They do not excite me, but completion's always good. I have named them Very Vanilla Socks, since that's what they are - cuff-down, knit only, no shaping. Yawn.

The Path of Flowers stole may be the death of me. That Rowan Kidsilk Haze is undoubtedly lovely stuff to touch and to look at, and when it behaves it's good to work with. However the tiny, teeny little stringy bit in the middle gets lost in the fuzz around it, which clings to itself and disguises the fact that a stitch was dropped many, many rows back. Once such dropped stitch turned up below two, count 'em, two, lifelines. And that sucker's going to be BIG - here it is at about the half-way mark.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So many projects ...

Well, I'm down to only three projects at the moment, but there are so many others pressing to be started that it is taking a supreme effort to keep to the three.

Lizard Ridge Version 1.5 continues to be totally gorgeous. The first strip used four skeins and is now on a stitch holder, having been blocked. The second strip is nearing the same length. This, of course, is just my way of prevaricating about exactly what shape to make the blanket. It's not intended to go on a bed, so should it be oblong or square? I envisage using it to cuddle up on a sofa, or lying on a steamer chair some cool summer evening.

I am in severe danger of becoming a Noro Ho. One of the projects currently clamouring to be started is the Noro Silk Garden scarf that's been all over ravelry recently. I'm not sure whether it was the Yarn Harlot's version or Brooklyn Tweed's that finally tipped me over the edge, but last weekend I shelled out full price for the requisite four skeins of Noro Silk Garden and am now itching to start. There's also the Rowan Kidsilk Haze calling to be made into a Path of Flowers Stole.

In an attempt to marry stash to ravelry queue I started the Starsky cardigan in Bernat Bamboo, shade Linen, but got half way through the back before realizing the stash amount wouldn't be enough. Some weeks later I got another seven skeins (not in the same dye lot, but I'm kidding myself hopeful that I can use the smaller lot for the collar and cuffs, possibly even the whole sleeves.

For a travelling project I have some self-patterning socks. The yarn came from Franklin's in Colchester and was accompanied by a multi-size pattern which seemed simple. Having cast on the requisite number of stitches for my shoe size (the original pattern is in German but it gives the sizes for UK and US shoe sizes in metric) I cheerfully knitted the cuff, ankle and heel (which took a few attempts, but looked fine in the end) and started to reduce stitches back to the original amount cast on, as directed. It did not look right. So not right I didn't even take a photo.

On looking at the pattern again it seemed I had never had the right amount of stitches to begin with. After a rather restless night I finally grasped the nettle and frogged that sucker right back (sob!). Fortunately for what remains of my sanity I worked out that the original number of stitches cast on was perfectly correct for US size 7/8 feet, but only in Toddler sizing. For adults rather more stitches were advisable.

It's nice yarn and I'm back on track, so I shall continue. I just need to finish Lizard Ridge (eight out of 24 skeins used thus far) or Starsky so I can start something else big.