Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The EPS Seamless Saddle Shouldered Sweater.

So, here is the project I have been promising to share.
It's Elizabeth Zimmerman's Seamless Saddle Shouldered Sweater using the EPS (Elizabeth Percentage system). I'm knitting it with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, and using my own handspun for accents.
I was hoping two weeks would be enough time to finish it, but there have been a few days that I have been too busy to even knit a stitch!
Right now I am just about to start the shoulder decreases. The cuffs are done in linen stitch, but I may switch to ribbing for the neck, as linen stitch may be too stiff. I'll decide when I get there.
Right now I fear that the sweater body isn't going to be nearly long enough, but if I remember correctly from the similarly constructed Cobblestone pullover I had the same fear, and it worked out just fine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Woolly dreams

I thought I would take a minute to tell everyone about my crochet class in Billerica, and my exciting new fiber related plans.
Yesterday was a yucky rainy day here in the North-East. Since Billerica, Ma is over an hour drive in the best weather I figured I'd better leave extra early. I had hoped to stop at the Hub Mills Store. I did manage to make it to MA with enough time to stop in Lowell, and was I glad I did!
For quite some time I've been dreaming of a simple roll necked sweater made out of Classic Elite's self striping, thick and thin wool -Desert. I believe it's discontinued, but they have had a large stock of unlabeled balls in the outlet for some time now. I finally decided I was going to have to go and buy the yarn before they ran out (after all the roll neck sweater will fit perfectly in line with my mindless homework knitting). Well, in honor of Lowell's city wide Open Studio weekend all yarn at the store was an additional 20% off! Good things really do come to those who wait!
So, here it is. Hopefully it will be a sweater in time for a cold New England winter.
The class ended up being only three people. Somehow a few were lost through the week. However, it did move along quite nicely with so few to keep track of. Usually for a beginner class I feel that everyone should leave with enough knowledge to make a square or rectangular project in single crochet (a basic scarf or dishcloth). Then if I can move on to other stitches it is a bonus. Well with these three woman we went through the foundation, the single crochet stitch, the half double, and double crochet stitches, and actually got into making a granny square. I was amazed! Unfortunately we only got half way through the 2nd round of the granny square before I had to leave, but the fact that we were even able to start it amazes me.
I was threatened with the possibility of frustrated crocheters showing up on my doorstep for further instruction, but luckily I live quite a distance away! I may return for another class with these ladies at some point this winter.
After the class I went back to Lowell, and the last 40 minutes of open studio for the day. Of course that really isn't time to see much, but I spent it at my friend Lynne's studio, where there are always lots of fun fiber junkies hanging out. It had been way too long since I had gotten to see Lynne, and we had plans for Mexican food and Margaritas after open studio closed for the day. Somehow it came up that Lynne was going to Rhinebeck. Months ago she told me she planned to skip it this year. Before I even got to ask what changed her mind she said "Do you want to come!?" I thought about it briefly and said "Well, I'm back in school, and I've been so busy. I really shouldn't, but of course I will!" I did come home and double check my school schedule, but it turns out to be the perfect weekend for me to take off. I'm very excited to go, and I'm hoping to meet lots of my online fiber friends. I've already told Maureen that we have to meet if she will be there.
No picture today of my current WIP- the weather is just too gross to get a picture that really captures the colour. Soon, I promise.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Natural Dye Experiment

On Monday night I stopped at my sister's house to pick some pants to hem for my niece. When I got there I was told that the girls had gotten something for me. They slipped outside and came back in with this:

A bag of wild berries they had picked with the thought that I could use for dying yarn.
I had honestly never really considered dying yarn with wild berries. It seemed like a very tedious and messy idea to me. However, after being presented with such a gift from my nieces I figured I had better give it a shot.
I did a bit of online research, and the information available for using berries as dye was a bit sketchy, and described a fairly lengthy process, including days of soaking the berries to make a liquor before preparing a dye bath. I didn't want to spend that sort of time on it. So, I improvised:
First I mashed the berries, then I put them in my dye pot, added water, and boiled them for about 1/2 hour.
When I felt as if I had drawn out enough of the colour I strained away all of the berry pulp. You can see that I was correct in believing this would be a messy venture.
The strained liquid went back into the dye pot with some vinegar. There is probably a better mordant for dying with berries, but I don't know what it is, so I stuck with what I know.
My natural coloured wool went into the dye bath, and simmered for about 40 minutes. I have to say that for the first 10-20 minutes I didn't really believe that anything attractive would come out of this dye bath.
In the end, I really did get a very pretty yarn in a vivid pink colour. I do find myself wondering what sort of rich purple I may have gotten if I had pre-soaked the berries, and allowed the wool to soak longer (I did this all in about 2 hours). However, I think I am done with the berry dying for 2008.
In the knitting world I have discovered that a simple project worked in the round is a great way to keep myself from fidgiting while doing my homework, and helps me get more reading done in a single sitting. Becuase of this, I do have a new project that I will be sharing soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tragedy Strikes!

One of my Denise needle tips snapped mid-row! I can't believe it, I have never broken a needle before (well, I have broken size 1 bamboo needles when I stepped on them, but that doesn't count). I guess trying to pinch stitches with this firm cotton yarn was a bit too much for the plastic. I have already picked up a metal needle and started to insert it in place. Luckily the project hasn't unraveled too far.

So, I really seem to be slacking with blog posts these days, and the truth is the amount of things I have to talk about really has declined. I am a college student once again, and that's cutting into the knitting time a bit. Also, A severe bout of knitting ADD has kept me from making too much progress on any one piece.

These socks are the socks that were completed on my road trip in August. They hadn't been photographed before because I had misplaced 1 as soon as I got home. It finally resurfaced this weekend.

These are the Woven Ridgeline socks from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book. I altered the pattern by using her garter toe from the same book. It doesn't show up well in the photo, but the front of the sock has a panel of linen stitch.

The socks are made with Trekking ProNatura, and when I starting them I really didn't like the yarn, but by the 2nd sock I was growing accustomed to it, and I am so glad I persevered. I love the feel of these socks!

As for the sock I showed in the works in the last post, it's gone for a swim in the frog pond! The pattern made a sock much too long for my foot. Although I could have ripped back to the toe and adjusted it I just wasn't liking it enough.

Just to show you I am knitting something these days, this is my current mindless project, for times when I really want to focus on something else. It's a hemp market bag. I bought a kit for this bad forever ago, and it has sat in my stash. I recently gave away the crocheted market bag I had been using. So, I needed something new. When I pulled out the kit I decided I really didn't like the pattern it came with, so I am just winging this one.

Another thing I have been managing to find time for is spinning. It felt like I hadn't done it in forever. Honestly, it was partially a time issue, but I was also pretty bored with spinning that grey gotland lace weight (which I still need to spin more of).

Well, a couple of weeks ago I went up to Vermont to see Joansie, and attend the VT Sheep & Wool festival with her.

There is nothing like a S&W festival to get the desire to spin back! There were so many fun fibers there. One vendor (and I am sorry to say I forgot to take note of who) had blended rovings they had made from the left over bits they had after carding their first quality rovings. These scrap blends were merino, silk, alpaca, and mohair, and were $0.99 an ounce. They had 2 big bags, and although the colours weren't ones I would normally choose, I had to buy a little.

I got a red/yellow/purple striped roving which I used to spin up a very fun, very textural thick & thin bulky yarn. The 6 ounces made about 400 yards. It somehow made me think of my niece Ella as I was working with it, so the yarn will be worked into a gift for her.

The other yarn in the photo was made from roving that was a gift from my friend Deb. I think the colour was called "Prairie grass" It was another striped roving with 3 different greens and tan. Again I made a very textural yarn with this. This one is approximately aran weight, and I want to use it for a project for myself. I have about 300 yards here, and another 2 ounces of fiber to spin.

Oh, and because I love Halloween, I have a new free crochet pattern on the Pisgah website.

The Halloween Ghost cloth is a quick and easy project. I had fun making this one.

I also want to thank Norma for testing the pattern for me. If you are a cloth knitter or crocheter check out her website Dish and Wash Cloth Mania for a great free pattern directory.

For those of you who live in the Northeast, come and see me:

I will be teaching a free beginner crochet classes at the Billerica Public Library on Saturday September 27, from 1 to 4. There is a cap on the class. So, if you are in the area, and want to attend let me know!

I will also be a demonstrator in the Fiber House at the Fryeburg Fair in Maine, on Thursday October 2 from 2 to 5. This is the Men's day at the fiber house.