Category Archives: Creativity

Scratch that… no, unravel it

In the previous post I mentioned that I would dye machine knit blanks of my cotton yarn, assuming that I would knit all of these up in the handy knitting machine I bought for making hats and things.  I tried making a long blank with three 109 yard skeins of cotton and discovered that this knitting machine abhors working with cotton. After picking up slipped stitches with a crochet hook over 2 dozen times, I said enough!

So I unraveled the long ugly tubey thing I spent the entire afternoon making and unwound it around two wooden chairs set about 12 feet apart.  I did this with two more skeins until I got bored and moved on to something else. 13 more skeins to go… sigh.  It occured to me that I could play something cheery and tongue in cheek as I walked around the chairs to wind the yarn. Maybe… some Lord Kitchener.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqWLwZIncec]

Knitting has taught me the value of endless patience. Dyeing seems to be gifting me with the lesson of careful preparation and planning.  Several months ago, if you asked me if I would go to this length to prepare fiber to knit a sweater, I’d flatly say… no.  I couldn’t see past my love of knitting.

A year later, and now I’m finding myself branching into other fiber related crafts. I actually want to spend more time investigating crochet in depth and improve my skill at shaping and building structures in crochet.  I spend a great deal of time making garments, maybe I need to investigate knitting and crocheting other objects including un-utilitarian ones.

It’s a little late, but here’s my short reflection/inventory of things learned and things I’d like to learn this year.

A few things I tried last year:

  • Knitting with metal and beads – fun but it hurts.
  • Spinning – I used a drop spindle to make my first single ply yarn. I think I’m going to continue investigating
  • Dyeing – I… am addicted. Sad when you get to the point where you’re looking through your stash for lightly colored or white yarns just to satisfy your need for a dyeing fix.

Things I still need to do or want to try:

  • Gansey knitting – I still need to finish my Lochniver sweater
  • Steeking
  • Crocheting a small blouse in a simple lace stitch
  • Color work/Fair Isle knitting
  • Design and knit a real Aran sweater (with cables)
  • Start a podcast- this is a difficult one for me. I often think that I haven’t started this yet becuase I get my “I need to talk about knitting/crafting” fix with the wonderful group over at my knit night at the Naked Sheep Knit Shop.

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Filed under About Me, Challenge, Community, Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Dye, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Fair Isle, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Portland Knitters, Reflection, Yarn

Experiment #3: Planning a colorway

Dyeing cotton fibers is such a pain. Not only do I want to make sure that the pain is worth it, I want to make sure I get it right the first time.  Not to mention, I’ll be using my precious Artfibers cotton (Rush), and I really don’t want to over-dye any of this stuff.

I’ve decided to knit up the skeins of blank cotton yarn I have with a knitting machine and then paint these long blanks by hand using a color combo of four (see below).

(clock wise from the top left) Black Cherry, Brazilnut, Dusty Rose, and Raspberry

Four colors of Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dye: (clock wise from the top left) Black Cherry, Brazilnut, Dusty Rose, and Raspberry

This may sound a bit geeky, and I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, but I used a graphics program to ‘plan’ out the color on the blanks.  I think I’ll actually dye a test blank in leftover dyes that I’m not crazy about using one of the patterns below. Pattern 1 will result in a graduated dye dispersal. Pattern 2 is a recipe for plain striping. Pattern three will create broad strips of color with blends of the dye colors in criss-cross patterns dispersed throughout the fabric.

I want to know what the color patterns will be like in a large panel of stockinette knitting (say for a sweater).  If only my math and programming skills were sharper, I could actually create a program that would help me estimate the staggering of the pattern based on the length and width of the knitting and the stitch gauge. Actually, I could probably do it if I had the time, but for now, I’m just going to have to rely on both my imagination and powers of estimation.

Pattern 1

Pattern 1

Pattern 2

Pattern 2

Pattern 3

Pattern 3

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Filed under Colors, Colorwork, Cotton, Creativity, Dye, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Knit, Knitting, Math, Project, Stockinette, Sweater, Techniques, Yarn

Needed some color to brighten up my winter

Hopefully we’ve seen the last of the snow for now. Hopefully.

I meant to post more photos from the dye work I did in December. I finally got around to snapping pictures of the more of the skeins of yarn I dyed.  Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

Northwest Woods (probably for a pair of socks for my brother Ted)

Autumn Fire

Amazon Parrot

Note, I’ve discovered the fine art of squeezing the dye and painting the right amounts of yarn.  I was happy with all my colourways except for one. I didn’t include it here, it was supposed to emulate the colors in a peacock feather, but i think I should have used more dark green. I need to overdye this yarn or repaint it.

Sample of the Blouson from Interweave Knits

I also dyed a good deal of peruvian cotton (about 17 skeins) for the 1824 Blouson pattern.  Let me tell you, dying cotton (and I assume other plant fibers) is a royal pain in the ass.  It wasn’t so much the pre-washing of the fibers in a solution of synthropol then soaking them in a soda ash solution, or dissolving the large amounts of salt into the dye water before adding the urea solution and dye. I REALLY REALLY hated the process of washing out the excess dye and other chemical badness in the yarn after the dyeing was over. Ick. I could never truly felt  that I got it ALL  out. On top of that I’m not sure I want to make a simple stockinette stitch pattern like the Blouson… since dyeing this yarn was such a labor intensive process. Two or three skeins of the yarn are a bit darker than I expected. I think I may have soaked them in too much soda ash solution, but I don’t mind the color imperfection. I think it adds more appeal and a hand-fashioned look to the final product.

Not to mention the warning on the package of the dye said something like… the state of California warns that this produce may cause cancer!!!!

I have decided that I will dye up a few more batches of cotton yarn, just enough to use up the dyes I purchased and from now own I’ll only dye wools, animal fibers and nylon. Or I’ll use Kool-aid and other foodbased dyes.  I have a sweater’s worth of Artfibers Rush I need to dye and some skeins of mercerized cotton. Maybe I should invite some friends over… “Hey, share the cancer!”

Luna dyed with Seafoam & Grey Mist (formerly "Sunlight" yellow)

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Filed under Colors, Colorwork, Cotton, Craft, Creativity, Dyeing, Dyeing_yarn, Eco, Fibers, Fun Stuff, Knit, Knitting, Socks, Stockinette, Techniques, Wool, Yarn

Escaping the Heat

The View - Cove at Cape Disappointment

The View - Cove at Cape Disappointment

As I write this, the day after our beach trip, storm clouds are forming above us.  So my pleas for relief have been heard. There’s something completely unnatural about living in a hot climate. But I suppose someone who grew up in the Arizona desert might beg to differ. The overly moisturized environment of the Pacific Northwest might seem a bit soggy to them.

How does one escape 104 degree weather? We do what any normal Portlander does… flee to the coast. This time we made our way up to Astoria and the Long Beach area up to Cape Disappointment. Ahhhh… it was a cool 65 degrees, and you could see the mist rolling over the tree tops.

Sandy Pug Butt

Sandy Pug Butt

The dogs (Otto, Kirby and Pono – Pono is Kirby’s brother) had a glorious time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Otto most ecstatic and content. The cove by the lighthouse was pretty secluded and there was a steep trek down. Consequently, it’s not visited by too many people. So we felt pretty good about just letting the dogs run about. It’s quite problematic having chihuahuas on the beach with other dogs, because they’re so tiny and uppity. We worry about them getting into a deadly tussle with a much larger dog.

I was still feeling out of sorts from the heat from the last few days. The night before our beach trip, I got absolutely no sleep. I awoke feeling hungover, without having experienced the booze fun the night before, so I didn’t get much knitting done on the beach. On the way there, I did work on my Lace Ribbon Scarf (ala Knitty.com) with the very delicious Tantra silk from Art Fibers. If I was sharp enough, I would have taken a picture of the scarf on the driftwood. Art Fibers just does an absolutely amazing job with their coloring and variegation in their dye jobs. It’s worth, not being able to predict the colors exactly from their website photos. Each time I get a color I’m more than pleasantly surprised. As I look over the beach photos, the colors from this scarf seem very reminiscent of the colors I experienced on the coast that day. What a lovely coincidence.

Lace Ribbon Scarf in Art Fibers Tantra

Lace Ribbon Scarf in Art Fibers Tantra

As I lay on the beach trying to rehydrate my body and being, I did work on another Amigurumi creature, a mischievous monkey. Simple crochet in a spiral seemed to be soothing to work on.  I’ll post the photos up on this item later.

Our friend, Emily experimented with some stop-action animation with her camera.  She, Chad and Ryan worked together to shoot a short, short feature starring various beach paraphernalia and dead creatures (crab shells and Jelly fish).  It was quite interesting to watch all of them get involved in the creative process, each of them contributing ideas and direction. You can see the results here: Mysterious Beach.

Collecting materials for the movie set

Collecting materials for the movie set

Chihuahua brothers enjoy the beach

Chihuahua brothers enjoy the beach

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Filed under Amigurumi, Colors, Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Knit, Knitting, Lace, Project, Stuff I made, Yarn

Weekend in San Francisco

I went to SF to attend a wedding, unfortunately, I drank some chai tea drink this morning that had bad milk in it. I spent a good part of the afternoon being ‘sick.’ I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drink chai again. So I was too sick to attend the wedding, and I’m sitting in the Hotel room recuperating, watching BBC comedies and drinking Genmai-cha (green tea with brown rice).

Though I did have a great time yesterday. I’ve scored yarn, books, and a few Samurai videos. We’re staying in Japan Town at the Kabuki Hotel, and it’s quite a lovely spot. I highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to stay in SF and be pampered at a reasonable price. Each hotel room has a traditional Japanese bath. I was able to scrub up and relax in the tub before curled up and fell asleep yesterday… complete heaven – near Nirvana. The Hotel also has a lovely little garden to sit and knit in for a moment or two.

The hotel is part of the Japan Town complex that includes a mall complete with several Japanese restaurants, a huge bookstore and a number shops with Japanese goods. On Thursday night, I spent a few hours pouring over the books in the Kinokuniya bookstore. There are so many wonderful inspirations and designs in these books.  I wanted to pull out my notebook and jot some of them down, but I felt a little self-conscious. I do think that I’ve noticed that many Japanese styles featured in some of the books didn’t seem fitted. It must be a style adaption that comes from Japanese fashion history. Clothing in Japanese culture wasn’t really fitted until they adopted styles from Westerners.

I did buy a knitting stitch pattern book which was a little spendy, but well worth it because all the stitches were diagrammed in charts. I absolutely hate reading instructions to lace and cables line by line. The Japanese really understand how to explain things visually and with symbols. The only thing I get more joy from is the instructions for some IKEA products. There’s something comforting about not having to use too many words to explain things.

Yesterday I visited Art Fibers for the first time. What a joy! They have the most wondrous array of fibers and yarns. I bought a few things including a silk and mohair blend yarn called Tsuki that knits into an absolutely dreamy cloud. I’ve never knit a mohair lace shawl before, so I opted for something very simple: a triangular shawl with daisies. I started it yesterday and I’m about a third of the way done. I’m really quite pleased with the look and feel of this yarn. The silk catches the light beautifully.

Artfibers is a wonderful place, they actually allow you to ‘taste’ the yarns in house by swatching them yourself. Also, Kira Dulaney was there to offer advice and guidance on the yarns. She even helped me design a custom pattern for a tank top. If you have a chance, do check out her pattern site as her work is absolutely gorgeous. My only regret is that I don’t live close enough to frequent the shop regularly. Here are a few of my scores from the store: Mozambique, more Tsuki (in bright teal), Baccarat, and Golden Chai …

Addendum 4/1 – the scarf/shawl in Tsuki is nearly finished. It took only 40 grams and at $14 for a shawlette, that’s quite a bargain.

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Filed under Craft, Creativity, Crochet, Fashion, Fibers, Garment Design, Knitting, Travels, Yarn

Electronic knitty

Check this out… I think it would be great to apply to a knitted garment just for fun…. hmmm my rusty wheels are spinning.

Lilly Pad Arudino Tutorial for Electronic Embellishments for Textile Projects 

lily-pad.jpg

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Filed under Challenge, Craft, Creativity, Embellishment, Fashion, Fun Stuff, Gadgets, Garment Design, Knit, Knitting, Science, Techie

Am I dyslexic or just lazy? I can read charts but I can’t write them

I love Elizabeth Zimmerman’s writing, but sometimes I lament that she doesn’t make enough use of charts. There are times when the mathematician in myself would prefer to scan over visual charts instead of reading Zimmerman’s written pithy instructions. I’ve decided that it’s ironic because I myself would rather give verbal instructions when teaching than write the instructions out with diagrams.

I made up a simple little pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts about a year or so ago and I gifted them to a friend who taken up knitting since then. It was a nice little number…. a simple O cable panel surrounded by two panels of a zig-zag eyelet pattern on a stockinette background. I added a bit of snugness by fashioning a mock cable rib along the underside of the mitt. Don’t ask me for a picture because again, I’m two lazy to draw or produce one.

She asked me for the pattern and yesterday I tried to write it out, and I discovered… I’m crap at writing out patterns. At the very least, I need more practice writing them and I make excuses all the time telling myself that I don’t have the time and I’d rather spend my free time knitting. Okay, I realize that this is a very bad attitude to have and I’m sure that eventually I’ll reckon with my testy impatience and selfishness. After about twenty minutes and five or six crumpled pieces of graph paper… I just told her that I would walk her through the process telling her what to do row by row. I figured that after two repeats of the very simple pattern she would be able to do at least the length of the arm and section before the thumb hole on her own. I’d later show her how to join the mitt and then finish with a ribbed edge.

It was so bloody cold this weekend. I took a break from knitting gifts to make a pair of mitts for myself. I have a different variation which I finished this weekend. I will post a picture of these when I have the time. I used a very chunky and somewhat polar bear (beige) colored furry yarn that I purchased at a sale at JoAnn Fabrics (Sensations -Angel Hair) and knit a version of the mitts I described above on US size 10 and 11 needles. Result… in about three hours I had a pair of warm toasty hand warmers to wear in the cold outside…. with clothes, a coat, scarf and hat, of course. I love them because they make me feel like a cave woman.

angelhair.jpg

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