Friday, October 12, 2012

Monster Mash

I knit a lot.  Mostly, i love to knit socks as they are utilitarian, will see lots of wearing, they are small projects and very portable.  They are generally well received as gifts and sizing is not generally too complicated.  When i am cold, wool on my feet is an instant warm hug.  I also just love looking down at my feet to see the crazy colorful socks i knit.  It makes me all hella happy.  Once you start wearing hand knit socks, it's near impossible to go back to cheap crappy store bought.  Sure, you will pay between $9 and $30 for the wool for one pair of socks, but that pair will last 10 times longer than your typical sock and 30 times longer than a dollar store sock if cared for properly. 
Sock pattern is available from Drops Design.  It's a great pattern but for established sock knitters.  These were my first attempt at stranded knitting in the round.

These are Puzzle socks by Violet Green (pattern is available for purchase).
One of my more favorite socks to knit up are Stripe Tease for their unique construction. Yay General Hogbuffer! So nice, i knit them twice. Too bad these ones shrunk.  My son inherited a great pair of socks. This pattern is free on Ravelry too.

Shown here is Kalajoki by Tiina Seppälä... an excellent free pattern available to download from Ravelry.  Note, you must be a member to access the patterns on Ravelry. If you love to knit, and you aren't on Ravelry, well what are you waiting for!? It's awesome there.

What happens when you knit so many pairs of size 6 women's socks is you are often left with 1/6th of a skein of yarn or about 70 yards.  In fingering weight yarn, that is not all that much to make any one item.  you can save them all up to make a scrap yarn blanket which i will be doing this winter but you can also combine those remnants into MORE SOCKS.  These are commonly referred to as Monster Socks.  You can use any old sock pattern, and there are many different ways to combine the colors of yarn including but not limited to, knitting 2 rows each of 5 or 6 left overs or using the Blender Sock formula.  I like to stagger a few rows back and forth with my various yarns and do some stranded colorwork.  It makes for some super cozy socks that are fun and colorful. 

 These were knit for my teen daughter... and i can barely get them from her long enough to wash them.

These are all mine baby!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Halloween.  It is nearly upon us.  I adore Halloween with an unrelenting zeal.  I have even dedicated my left arm to a tattoo sleeve of Halloween stuffs including a jack-o-lantern and some kids trick or treating.  I make costumes as well.

This year has been a slower one for costuming.  The economy is not faring very well and fabric prices keep going up here in Canada which means i have to charge more to make costumes.  I also tend to only make costumes for my family or custom orders  i REALLY want to make, like this Reptar costume i made for my daughter when she was little.

Or the costume of Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.

I have a few costume ideas that i have yearned to make for quite some time.  This year, i got to make one of those... Oogie Boogie from Nightmare before Christmas!

You can't tell from this picture but his right hand stitches are "unraveling" and there is an open flap revealing glow in the dark and hand-painted bugs.

Here is a cute little giraffe costume i made this year.

I also made one Angry Birds costume... green boomerang bird.  I have 3 more Angry Birds to make for my family this year... and our pug Stella will be a green pig.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Squarejane Dyes

Don't fret... i said DYES not dies.  All 3 of my readers can rest assured that i am far too stubborn to die anytime soon. I plan on being an old crotchety lady for a long long time.

I love to knit.  I love to knit socks in particular.  One of my favorite sock patterns to knit is Skew which is knit on a diagonal. Here are a pair of Skew socks i knit before in Zitron Trekking XXL (one of my favorite sock yarns for it's fun colorways and durability).  This colorway is Prism.

It's like Dr. Seuss designed them in Froot Loops colors, what's not to love?

  Anyway... i decided i wanted to knit another pair of Skew socks but i just couldn't find some fun self striping sock yarn close to my rural BC home.  Sure i could wait to order some online but i decided that i had long wanted to foray into dyeing my own self striping yarn.

I started off with some Zitron Trekking Natura undyed.  I wound each section for each stripe around my hand 30 times and then tied off gently with some scrap wool in a different weight.  This took some time.  As i did this, i placed each tied loop of yarn in a bowl... bowl A, bowl B or bowl C to create a pattern.

When done, i carried the bowls to the kitchen and added boiling water with a few drops of vinegar, then poured my various powdered dyes directly onto the yarns.  I didn't want solid colors but more variegated within the colors.  I chose a red to plum to purple, an ice blue to deep sky blue and a pale green to apple green to dark forest green. 

After 15 mins and with much care, i took the yarns out of their baths but kept them in their respective piles, A or B or C and squeezed excess dye from the yarns.  I wrapped each pile in it's own plastic wrap and placed it all in a glass dish.  I microwaved on high for 2 minutes, took the dish out and let sit for 10 mins.  Then i opened the wrap and let them all cool.  When cooled, i washed each section by hand in cool water and rinsed until clear.  It was torture waiting for it to dry.  I ran into some tangling issues (i really need a swift and ball winder!) I had to toss out a portion of the yarn due to bad tangles but in the end, the yarn turned out quite pretty.

Here are my new Skew socks in progress...

and here they are all done:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A stunning yet simple project... the Wingspan Shawl

I have a love for Zauberball, which is a delicious German ball of wool from Schoppel Wolle.  They are crafted in delightful colorways and have fantastic slow color changes that rather appear to evolve as opposed to switch colors.  Just after Christmas, i took a gift certificate my awesome Hubby bought me to the local yarn store and bought my first Zauberball... in cranberries.  Is it not a most delicious color?
 I fawned over it and smooshed it to my cheek many a time and then made not one but two lovely pairs of socks from this beautiful and machine washable wool.   I loved the color and feel of it so much, i went back to my LYS and picked up another Zauberball.  They had a few colors there but the one that was prettiest to me was still the cranberries colorway.  Since i had two pairs of socks already, i was at a loss for what to knit in it. 
This led me to log on to faithful Ravelry... the website and online community for yarn artists, knitters and crocheters from all over the world.  I searched their extensive database of patterns for specific patterns people had knit from Zauberballs and discovered Wingspan. (note that the pattern link will only work if you are a member of Ravelry, which is free to join and this pattern is also free).  I thought the pattern by maylin Tri'Coterie Designs was lovely and looked like good fun so i thought i would give it a go.  I also noted that there was a knit along group going on in the forum there on Ravelry for this particular pattern.  I cast on gleefully and checked back daily to see how others were doing with their patterns.  There were some absolutely awe inspiring versions and they all looked so different.  This pattern can be knit in different sizes, with different gauges or textures.  It really is versatile. 
I decided to make one wingspan with 90 st cast on and 16 st increase patterns AND a 60 st cast on with the 14 st increase pattern. i only had enough yarn to go to 7 triangles on both (knit the smaller one to 7 first and then the larger one… they happened to work out to the same number) i then knit the 4 rows of each and cast off all of the edge on the smaller wingspan minus 36 st. i then did a 3 needle bind off overlapping the end of the larger wingspan with the remaining st. on the smaller one, binding them together… then finished the remaining cast off.
Here is how it looked right off the needles.  Pardon the poor lighting as it was 9 pm when i finished and the only light source was CFL.
Here it is once blocked.  I decided to pull the points a bit and really accentuate the fractal look of the finished piece.  I love how it appears to fly like some abstract bird.
I love my Wingspan and will be knitting up more of these.  While the first change from triangle 1 to triangle 2 threw me for a bit of a loop, once i figured that out (and it was simpler than i was making it), i no longer needed to even read the pattern.  It is quite intuitive and a good fun knit!