Wedding Shawl

Tonight I finished my second lace shawl

Wedding Peacock Shawl

In any case, I am very excited because I used several hints that I found on ravelry, and decided to make a half circle shawl, and only knit out to the end of chart #3. 

Wedding Peacock Chart 3, revised!

If you would like a printable .pdf of this chart, please find me (Babeinthemoon) on Ravelry, and send me a message.  I'll be glad to e-mail you a copy as soon as I can.

How to felt… on purpose

Felting, when accomplished as a result of an accident, can make even the most accomplished knitter cry. To see hours and hours shrunk before your eyes into an unwearable mass… can be quite frustrating.   To avoid accidental felting, either always hand wash your handknits, OR use machine washable yarn. Superwash wool, cotton, silk, or acrylic are all appropriate examples of what to use when you are not sure how the recipient will take care of the item.

Felting on purpose, is an exercise in faith. When you look at your finished object prior to felting, it is easy to wonder how on earth it will shrink down and become the size the pattern says it will. All you need is some hot water and agitation to get the process started. Some people felt by hand with a bucket and a brand new toilet plunger. Not me. I’m too lazy, so I make my washing machine do the hard work. 


To felt

Put the item to be felted into a zippered pillowcase or fine-mesh laundry bag for delicates.

Traditional Washer:
Add knitted item and a couple towels to the washing machine. Use a tiny amount of laundry detergent (about a tablespoon or two). Set the washer to a large load and hot wash. 

Front Loader (with a pause setting):
Load the washer with several towels (4 or so) and the knitted item. Use a tiny amount of laundry detergent (a couple teaspoons should do it). Set the washer for hot wash.

Start the washer, and every 5-10 minutes pull out the knitted item. Gently squeeze out the excess water, take the item out of the bag and smooth the item so that wrinkles are not felted in. Also, when making a bag/sweater/etc, you will want to check the inside to make sure it is not felting together where you don’t want it to be. Put the item back into it’s bag, and back into the washer to repeat this step until you get to the finished size, or desired amount of felting. 

Once the object is felted as desired, gently squeeze all the excess water out, and lay on a towel to dry. If you made a hat, purse, or other shaped object, make sure you fill the cavity with a plastic covered towel or box to give it the desired shape during the drying process. To speed up the drying process set near a heat vent or fan.


*The felting process might take more than one run through the washer. 

*Be sure to remove the item from the machine during any spin cycles, or it might become more felted than you want.

*If any over-felting occurs, gently separate the fibers with your fingers, using a scissors to cut the fibers but not the yarn if necessary.

I love it when a plan comes together....

I learned a lot along the way with this dye project!  I am so glad that I had to dye so many different skeins in short succession, because I was able to morph my technique over time.

My first skein in this project, I already blogged about it here:  A lesson in bouncing back from an Epic Fail.  What I learned??  Don't leave a project on the stove, even if the heat is turned off.. if you want it to look the same when you return.  Also, capillary action (ie: wicking) is a powerful thing... the red #3 dye managed to make it past the mason jar lid into the "natural" jar... and I screwed that sucker down tight before I left. 

After the skein was dry, I realized that my fun idea of making the striping pattern completely random, was not the best plan after all.  I probably spent more than an hour detangling that skein into a ball so that I could put it on my Niddy Noddy to make a skein... and then eventually wind it into a cake with a swift & ball winder.. Yeah, that process was labor intensive.

But even with all the craziness that went into the yarn, the finished product is beautiful.  Emily as already knitted it up into the Baby Booga Bag... oh, and it is soo pretty!!  I can't wait to see it after it is felted.

But I digress..  I learned a whole lot during the next several skeins... that I could probably write a book on the subject (well, maybe a pamphlet).  Anyway, here is a summary of my conclusions:

1)  Dye wicks well... really well.  If you are dying self striping yarn, figure out some way to elevate the strands going between the jars.  I found that a clean tall energy drink can filled with water was skinny enough to fit between the jars in my large water bath, but only worked well with up to about 6 strands sitting on top.  Any more color changes than that, and the strands would droop down, leading to a wicking nightmare.

Alternatively, dye one section at a time, and use something else that is tall to drape the yarn over...  I finally had the process down for my last skein and got little wicking!! 


2)  The more concentrated the dye is, the longer it takes to exhaust the bath.  In the above picture I'm dying about 115 yds of fisherman's wool orange.  The process took about more than an hour, but was totally worth it.

3)  DON'T use a random stripe generator, and follow what it says, unless you are prepared to spend more than an hour untangling the mess once the yarn is dry.  You'll have to wind the yarn into a ball before making it into a pretty skein.

4)  Even if you keep all your colors in order, you might still have to resort to winding a ball first.  In order to avoid this mess, spend some extra time and make sure that each section is put back on the warping board in the same order and direction you used before dying.   
 notice the ball in the bottom right corner of the picture...

5)  If you want to wind your yarn directly onto a niddy noddy, it helps if each loop around the warping board goes in the same direction. 

6) You can become completely addicted to dying yarn... and might even be tempted to dye 360 yards into a beautiful turquoise for a massive color-work project to celebrate your best friend's pregnancy with her first child....  
And because it *is* a color work project, you must dye similar quantities of other colors to complete the project.  Yes, I'm nuts.  LOL

7) Sometimes it is best to leave the yarn in the dye bath overnight (after turning off the heat) to try to absorb the rest of the dye.  Then, to set the dye, I put the yarn in a baking dish, and put in a cold oven to let it warm up as the oven was preheating.  Following this process, the only time I had dye come out in the rinse water was with the most saturated yarns.

8) There are completely legal reasons why one might want to have a fume hood installed in their home.

With out further ado...  here are the 7 skeins of yarn, each color combination chosen by a student in my knitting class

p.s.  Extra bonus points if you can tell me where I got the title for this post.  :) 
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Cast-on and knit stitch

In our first class you learned how to cast-on and Knit your first row(s).  Below you will find links to online-tutorials detailing these stitches, so you can work on your assignment this week.

Cable Cast-on

"This cast on creates a solid edge. It is quite similar to the Knitted Cast On.  The difference is in where you insert your needle and draw the loop through. In the Knitted Cast On, you are drawing it from the previous stitch. Here, we draw it from between the two previous stitches."

Knit Stitch

There are two different ways to knit, English & Continental.  I teach the English method, not because it is better, but because it is what I am most comfortable with.  The only thing I will stress, is if you are "throwing" your yarn, you need to be holding it in your right hand (English). 

English: "The American method simply indicates that you hold the working yarn in your right hand. Knitters who use this style are often referred to as “throwers”."   I use the "alternative yarn hold" as shown in the video.

Continental:  "The Continental method of knitting requires that you hold the working yarn in your left hand. Those knitters who utilize this style are often referred to as “pickers”. In the Continental style, the working yarn remains fairly stationary while the right needle is wielded to do most of the work. For this reason, mastery of the Continental style can result in faster knitting."

A lesson in bouncing back from an Epic Fail

Even some of the best laid plans fail.  Today I attempted to dye my first batch of yarn for my co-op knitting class.  Everything went swimmingly well... until I realized that I needed to leave the house "now" and not in an hour.  ugh.  So, I put a cap over the center jar (that was to stay "natural colored" and left everything on the stove to sit for a few hours until I could return home.  the strands of yarn looping from jar to jar were dripping dye... but I didn't think much of it at the time.

Before I left:

After I returned, the red from the other colors managed to leach into the "natural" colored yarn in the center, and the water bath the jars were sitting in had been dyed black from all the dripping dye. 

In my opinion, the pink just doesn't work, and the other colors were not quite saturated enough.  So, I over-dyed it gray.  I also overdyed each of the other colors a bit more just to up the intensity a notch.  I'm happy with the results... hopefully Emily is too!

Spring Knitting Class - First Class Happy Valley Co-op

A note to my Spring Knitting Class with the First Class Happy Valley Co-op:

Welcome to Knitting Class!  By now, you must have read my letter.  I hope you are excited about our project this term. 

Your first assignment is to select up to 5 colors for your Baby Booga Bag... and don't forget to e-mail me your color choices too!

I'm looking foward to our first day of class.

of warps and swifts.....

Ahhh...  I love fiber... and the tools that let me play with it.  Today I spent winding off 18 mini skeins for my swatch project & decided on a pattern for a warping board.  I decided to go with a version of this:  and  this:  Later on I closed Lowes trying to find the 1/2" drill bits..  mission accomplished, so now I can't wait to start constructing it tomorrow.

Also on my tool drool list is a umbrella swift, so that I can eventually have a ball winder too.  Ball winders are relitavely inexpensive.  Umbrella swifts??  not so much.  Really, $85 can go a long way when you want to buy yarn.  Now, as crafty swifts go, I like this one because it comes apart easy for storage.  But, I keep drooling over the umbrella ones, like this one.  Only time will tell which one I decide to make. 

Now, once those are made, the only major toy, I mean tool, I'll need is a ball winder.

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Second Dye project

I'm currently working on some test colors for all the dye (Wilton Icing color) that I have... that way I can be more "scientific" about getting to the colors that I want.  I'll be trying to get a light, medium and dark out of each color... because I know that sometimes I will want a light version, and others a really rich tone will be what I'm going for.  When I'm all done, I'll have lots of 30 yd bits for color work too!  ;-)

From what I've read, the color red #3 is really touchy to work with.  If the ph in the water is too low (acidic) it will just drop out and solidify.  However, if the ph is too high (basic) the blue will not take to the yarn.  I have found this ravelry entry to be very helpful so far:

1.  Soak fishermans wool with water and some vinegar (used 1 c for a full skein of yarn)
2.  Mix dye with 1 c boiling water in a 2 qt jar.  add a second cup of water and put in refrigerator to cool, while the yarn is soaking. 
3.  When the dye has cooled to about the same temperature of the wool, gently press the water out of the yarn, and add one loose hank to each jar.
4.  Put 4 jars in a large pot, fill the outside of the pot with water, and add water to each jar so that the yarn is covered
5.  Bring water in jars to about 160 degrees and simmer for 10-20 minutes (higher concentration of dye needs the longer time.
6.  Heat water to 180 degrees.  Simmer 10-30 minutes. (Red dye should be out of solution by now, ie purple will turn blue)
7.  Add 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice and simmer 20 minutes.  Repeat as needed every 20 minutes until water is clear (or just cloudy from the lemon juice).  

 Not quite clear                 
        green is not quite clear                                            pink is clear

7.  Gently take yarn out of jars and place in baking pan (do not squeeze out water).  place in oven preheated to 180, and heat set for 20 minutes.
 8.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then rinse with lukewarm water.

I used anywhere from 1/32 tsp - 1/2 tsp per 1/2 oz yarn to get the colors I wanted.

edited 3/2 to change a couple of numbers to include findings from later dye projects.

First foray into Yarn Dying

Yesterday I stepped into the wide world of yarn dying.  Oh, I think that was a mistake.  LOL

I tried to duplicate a similar stripe pattern to the Noro Kureyon that I used to make a Booga Bag.  I think I was successful..  Now I just need to wind the ball and start knitting! 


I used a whole skein of LB Fishermen's Wool: Natural, with Wilton Dyes: Violet, Royal Blue, Teal, Burgundy & Pink.

Method:  I wanted each stripe to be 3-5 lines of knitting at 4 sts/inch over 100 stitches.  Each row equals about 1 yard of yarn.  I divided off the yarn and grouped it for dying.  I marked each section with a simliar color of yarn so I'd remember which portion to put in each dye pot. 

I soaked the yarn for 1 hour with cool water and a healthy glug of white vinegar.

While the yarn was soaking I prepared the dye.  Each segment had it's own quart size mason jar.  The Purple had 3 jars.  I mixed in 1/16 of a tsp of dye with 2 cups boiling water, figuring that I could add more dye if necessary.  After the dye was diluted I added another 3/4 cup of cool water to make the level higher before adding the yarn.  All seven jars fit in my extra large skillet that is 2 inches deep.  I added water to the skillet to make an "even bath" for the jars.

I added the yarn (before waiting for the dye to cool all the way... yes I was impatient), toped off each jar with a little extra water so the yarn was covered, turned on the stove to medium and waited 10 minutes.  I decided that I needed to add more dye, to each pot, so I mixed up about 1/4 c water with 1/32tsp of dye and added it to each jar.  Waited 10 minutes and repeated with every jar except the pink.  After a 3rd 10 minutes I noticed that the purples were coming out more red, so I started adding lemon juice (1tbsp) to every jar except the pink.  During this time, I also monitored the water level in the skillet and checked the temp in the mason jars to make sure I kept them close to 170 degrees.  I continued the addition of dye or lemon juice rotation a few more times until the color got almost to where I wanted it.  Then I turned off the burner and let the yarn sit until all the water baths were clear or cloudy white (from the excess lemon juice).

To heat set, I took each segmet of yarn out of the jars, and lay them into a 9x12 baking dish, and put in a preheated oven (200 degrees), for 15-20 minutes.  Took out the yarn, out of the oven and made dinner.  LOL.  After dinner the yarn had cooled to room temperature, so I rinsed it with lukewarm water, that ran cloudy then clear almost immediately.  I gently squeezed out the water, then rolled the yarn in a large towel and pressed out more water before hanging the yarn to dry.

Later I got really impatient, so I decided to untangle the yarn/wind it into a loose hank before letting it dry further.  I'm glad I did, because some of the yarn started felting together, so I seperated all those fibers, and got the whole mess untangled, then let it dry overnight again, hung near a heat vent to make sure the yarn was dry by morning.

What I would change next time:  Test dye 1/2 ounce of yarn with dye to figure out how much to add to the water the first time so I don't need to make so many adjustments... which will limit how much I need to mess with the yarn. Also, I will mix the dye first and put it in the refrigerator to cool off faster, and make sure everything is at the same temperature before adding the yarn to the dyebath.  These changes should bring the felting problem down to a minimum.

Also I need to make a Warping board like this one:
and a Niddy Noddy, before my next project.

Resources: (I've looked at so many pages over the last few days, I know this list isn't complete... but it's close) (supersaturation)