Friday, March 27, 2009

Presents!

On Ravelry, I have discovered these fun things called "swaps." Some of them are like secret-santa-type gift exchanges, some of them are not secret, and some of them have partner pairings.

I got so excited, I have joined, like, 5 of them. I like ordering things online, because it's like getting a present when it comes, but with swaps, it really is a present!

My first swap completed was the Chocolate Group's Local/Regional Swap, where either the yarn or chocolate had to be local. It was a secret swap. Since my partner (SpiderSpins on Ravelry) has already received her package, I'm going to post pictures of it here. First, it's important to note that she likes black widow spiders, because I tried to keep with that theme in my package, starting with the actual box itself!



Inside, I got her:
  • a box of truffles from Stephany's (a chocolate company started in CO)
  • 4 pieces of Hershey's Organic Chocolate
  • lucky Chinese candy (mostly because the wrappers were red and she said red was her favorite color)
  • black, red, and white ribbon
  • the result of my first time dyeing silk hankies
  • some nylon firestar for her new drumcarder
  • thick-and-thin merino yarn hand-painted by me in shades of red
  • 1 skein Berroco Comfort in black
  • 2 balls of Peaches & Creme cotton in subdued earthy-type colors, since that was another favorite color combination of hers
  • treats for her cat
  • a couple spider-related patterns





My swap package came from SierraSkier (blog) on Ravelry, who gave me a TON of chocolate of all different sorts!



She got me:
  • 2 skeins of soft and beautiful yarn (Melody Superwash by Jojoland) in a really pretty blue-green color
  • truffles imported from France that she bought at her local health-food-type store. These look similar to the truffles that Whole Foods sells, which are really good!
  • a milk chocolate bar with peanuts and jalapenos
  • tequila-flavored chocolates
  • Longhorns chocolate with pecans and caramel, which looks really tasty
  • a Yorkie chocolate bar that says “It’s NOT for Girls,” which is funny, because anytime someone says something isn’t for girls, you know girls are going to try it anyway!
  • a hand-written letter explaining everything!
I have another swap package going out tomorrow, which is also exciting! The people in the Journal Swap group were put into pairs, and my partner was really on top of things, so her package really needs to go out soon!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Scrunchable Scarf 2 And The Jayne Hat (Yay!)

Some actual knitting content! Finally!

I finished the second Scrunchable Scarf that I started on my East Coast trip.

Blue Scrunchable Scarf Finished 1 Blue Scrunchable Scarf Finished 2

Pattern: Scrunchable Scarf by Susan McConne (free)
Yarn: Lionbrand Homespun in Lagoon
Needles: US 10, bamboo
Size: CO 17 sts. I used up the entire skein so it ended up being 7 ft. 5 in. long.
Made For: the gift stash

Blue Scrunchable Scarf Finished 3

I used to hate working with Lionbrand Homespun, especially since it has terrible stitch definition, but I really like how it looks in this pattern. And, I have to admit that the yarn is very soft and this scarf is so squishy! I've heard rumors that it pills and sheds, but I haven't seen it yet. Then again, I haven't really handled this scarf very much.

And finally, I present to you the Jayne Hat!! Woo!!

Jayne Hat Modeled 1
I'm excited.

Pattern: Jayne Cobb Hat by Dryope (free)
Yarn: Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids in Cherry Red, Bright Yellow, and a bright orange (I can't remember the exact name)
Needles: US 8 bamboo circulars (16 in.), US 8 plastic
Size: small
Made For: my shiny self :)
Modifications:
  • Work with yarn doubled
  • CO 80 sts in the round in orange.
  • K1P1 rib for 3 rows.
  • K for 2.5 in.
  • K for 3 in. in yellow
  • Decreased 10 sts each row (every 8, 7, etc... sts) for several rows (I don't remember the exact number.)
  • K2tog until ~10 sts left.
  • Picked up 22 sts for earflaps.
  • Stockinette for 4-5 rows.
  • Decreased 2 sts on each side every 4 rows.
  • Made a sad little pom pom out of too little yarn and accidentally layered the colors because I wasn't thinking ahead. Boo. (Lesson Learned - thread all yarn colors into the pom-pom-maker-discs at the same time, not one at a time!)
Well, it didn't turn out exactly the way I had pictured. It's a bit tight (I really don't remember my rationale for using US 8 needles because I'm already a tight knitter...) and the earflaps are way long, but I'm still really happy with it because I figure Ma Cobb wouldn't have freaked out if it wasn't perfect :D

That picture was taken at work today, which is where I finished it a few hours ago during some down time. I don't usually bring my knitting to work, because I don't think it's appropriate where I work, but I thought it'd be ok since it's Sunday and no one else is here :)

Yay :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Free Pattern PDF Redo

So I've decided that I don't really like Scribd and I moved my lone pattern PDF to Box.net, which was suggested by Amybel (who sells cute knitted/felted bags and recently won a faboo blog makeover by Summer's Blog Designs!).

So I have put a link to the PDF download site in the sidebar. If you click the link, you can both preview and download the file.

I think that's a lot easier and simpler than using the giant PDF viewer, even though it looks kind of cool.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Free Pattern PDF

I (kind of) figured out how to make my pattern into a PDF download using a site called Scribd.

So here's the Staggered Neck Warmer in a PDF viewer. You won't be able to save it to your own computer unless you have an account at Scribd, but you can print it by clicking "More" and "Print."

I've been testing this thing like crazy today, but please let me know if this doesn't work. I'm going to try and find another free file-hosting site later on to see if it works better, but if any of you know of one, send it my way!

Staggered Neck Warmer Pattern

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Random Fiber Stuff I've Been Doing

So I got around to dyeing my first handspun (100% alpaca, single ply, bulky-super bulky) a couple weeks ago, but haven't posted the results yet. Here's what I did:

1. Soaked yarn in pot filled with water and a splash of vinegar. Low heat on stove.



2. Mixed colors: 3 packets lemonade/1 cup water, 2 packets orange/0.5 cup water, 1 packet pink lemonade/0.5 cup water, 1 packet strawberry/0.25 cup water.



Inspiration: Orange Rose

3. Microwaved dyes in tupperware for 2 min. Added yellow, orange, and pink in random parts of pot. Added red in one part of pot.


(If you squint, you can see the tiniest bit of pink in the center.)

4. Observed helplessly as red slowly spread throughout the entire pot, overtaking other colors.
5. Let dyebath exhaust on the stove. Let water come to boil for ~ 1 min to allow alpaca yarn to felt a little. (Background: I read somewhere that alpaca does not make a good single, as it has a weaker memory than wool. Someone on the Spindlers Yahoo group said that she slightly felts her alpaca singles when washing/setting the twist.)


6. Let yarn cool in dyebath for a few hours. Mmm... fat red worms in warm milk... the cornerstone of every healthy breakfast ;)
7. Washed and rinsed yarn in a little detergent and warm water. Did something you're never supposed to do when washing and drying feltable yarn: agitated yarn in water and wringed out water by twisting yarn (again, to help it felt slightly).
8. Let yarn air dry. Forgot to take picture of finished skein.
9. Wound yarn into a ball, releasing some over-twist.
10. Forgot to take picture in good daylight, rushed to take picture in fading light of sunset. (Many apologies.)


There is a LOT more red in the yarn that I wanted. It looks pink in the picture, but I can't see any pink in person - most of that is actually red.

Lessons Learned in the "Hot Pour" Method of Dyeing Yarn:
  1. Less volume of water = more control over where the dye goes. This applies for both the dyebath itself and the water that goes into mixing the dyes.
  2. If I did this again, I would probably start with the red and add it a little at a time to one or two spots. Then add the pink and orange, ending with the yellow. I'd probably wait until each color exhausted before adding a new color. It would take longer, but it would be worth it if the color turned out how I wanted.

Here is a progress picture of the Scrunchable Scarf I started on my trip to the East Coast.



I'm going to use the entire skein of Lionbrand Homespun, so it'll turn out pretty long. It's taking me a long time because I only work on it a little bit at a time.

Over the past month or so, I've been expanding my drop spindle collection. I had been storing them in a drawer with my unspun fiber, but I didn't want them to get all dented up (especially the new ones from ButterflyGirlDesigns, so I came up with a new way to store them:


I cut out a long piece of foam board and punched holes with a knitting needle. I tied loops with scrap pieces of yarn.

From left to right:

I also bought a cheap skein winder from theknitstore on Ebay, so now it's easier to wind skeins for dyeing.



And just for fun, here's another picture of Berniece. I was taking a picture of her from my balcony.