Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I can't stop.

I may need an intervention.

Stack of Knit Dishcloths or Washcloths in a Variety of Cotton Yarns

On a recent gloomy day I happened to be in a chain craft store. And I happened to wander into the yarn department — the cotton yarn aisle, to be exact. The bright yarn colors were just begging to be made into dishcloths or washcloths. Four of them came home with me:
  • Lily Sugar’n Cream Ombre Summer Prints is a white yarn with flecks of yellow, green, and blue.
  • Lily Sugar’n Cream Scents in the colorway Aloe Vera has lovely subtle shifts of light greens, but I didn’t notice that the yarn was scented when I purchased it. The fragrance is pleasant enough; it’s a sort of perfumed soap smell. I can be sensitive to scents and it made me sneeze, but the fragrance alone wouldn’t prevent me from buying the yarn again.
  • Lily Sugar’n Cream Stripes in the colorway Country has long stripes of blues and greens. I expected more gradual color changes but I still like the overall look. The feel of the yarn is a bit rougher than a typical cotton yarn.
  • Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton in Grape is simply purple yarn.

I rounded out the colors with some yarn from my stash, pulled out my US-8 (5 mm) needles, and distracted myself from the dreary weather by happily knitting some free new-to-me cloth patterns:

Nubbins Dishcloth by Vyvyan Neel is a basic pattern that is just different enough to be eye-catching. The simplicity of the pattern would work well with even the busiest of yarns. We had just watched “Mary Poppins” and I kept humming “nubbins, nubbins” to the tune of “Feed the Birds” (tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag).

Knit Nubbins Cotton Dishcloths or Washcloths

Diagonal Knit Dishcloth by Jana Trent is a variation on the basic Granny Cloth that is a good fit for solid colors or subtle color changes. I tried it with the striped yarn (below left) and think the color changes take the focus away from the knitting.

Knit Diagonal Cotton Dishcloths or Washcloths

Fisch Blubb - SpĆ¼li by Deborah 9 is a fun pattern that takes advantage of different stitch textures to create the image of a fish. While the cloth is adorable, I don’t like that it doesn’t want to stay square due to the row height variations.

Knit Cotton Dishcloth or Washcloth with Textured Fish Image

The Almost Lost Dishcloth by Julie Tarsha is another simple pattern that would work well with any colors. I didn’t like the fussiness of stitching the first and last rows together at the end, although the finishing was minimal with so few stitches.

Knit Almost Lost Cotton Dishcloth or Washcloth

Lizard Ridge Dishcloth by Laura Aylor is the most complicated cloth pattern that I tried, yet it’s far from difficult with pattern repeats that are easy to remember. I was told my color choices make this look like a very wide slab of bacon.

Knit Lizard Ridge Cotton Dishcloth or Washcloth

That wraps up the highlights of my latest bout of cloth knitting. I found myself in another chain craft store this weekend and managed to resist buying more cotton yarn. I think I’m up to twenty cloths in recent weeks; it’s time to move on.

What projects keep you coming back?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dyeing Wool

Each spring, I look forward to dyeing Easter eggs as much as our children do. I boil a dozen eggs and let them have at it for as long as they wish. Then it’s my turn! After the eggs have been dyed I use up the excess dye on some fiber. It feels good not to waste the dye and it’s fun to see how the colors are taken up by the wool.

The fiber I’ve been dyeing in recent years is a Mystery Wool Roving, given to me ages ago, in a full range of greys from off-white to deep charcoal. As much as I love the color grey, this particular combination looks a bit dull on its own.

We always buy a package of PAAS dyes for our eggs (no affiliation), although the colors we choose may vary from year to year. This year, we picked the Sparkling Glitter package, which included the dye tablets plus glitter to affix to the eggs after dyeing.

Dyeing Wool by Soaking in Leftover Easter Egg Dye

The dye colors, in the same order as the photo below, were yellow, pink, orange, green, red, and blue. I have to admit, this year’s colors didn’t yield the most dramatic results. The yellow and green are difficult to differentiate. I didn’t see how much vinegar was added to each color cup, and don’t recall smelling it, so I have to wonder if a lack of acid affected the process.

Wool Dyed in Leftover Easter Egg Dye

I still see our day of dyeing as a success. We have bright, sparkly eggs to eat and colorful wool to spin. When combined with dyed wool from previous years, the color variation from this batch will give the soon-to-be-handspun yarn greater depth.

This year’s wool dyeing used up the last of the Mystery Wool Roving. I definitely need to get spinning! And I need to start plotting what to dye next year.

What are your springtime project traditions?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bobbin Lace

As we’ve been preparing to move, there is one item that keeps getting shuffled from one space to another: my bobbin lace pillow.

A friend introduced me to bobbin lace in 2013. She has a home weaving business and bobbin lace is her creative outlet for personal projects. She was offering free lessons and a few of us took her up on them.

Bobbin Lace Bookmark in Progress

What is bobbin lace? As the name implies, it is a type of handmade lace that is made from thread wound on bobbins. There are different styles of bobbin lace, hailing from different regions and time periods. She taught us one of the oldest but simplest styles, Torchon, which is based on geometric patterns with bobbins that usually move together in pairs.

What does a pillow have to do with this? As the pattern is worked in one continuous piece, the lace is pinned onto a soft but firm surface. This surface also allows space for the bobbins to rest without getting mixed up. My round “cookie pillow” is about 20 inches across with a pincushion secured to the top that makes it about five inches tall, plus the requisite assortment of pins stuck into the surface; it’s not something that can be easily tucked onto a shelf or in a drawer.

Top View of Bobbin Lace Bookmark in Progress

If it has to be out anyway, why not use it? One peek under the dust cover told me that I already had a bookmark project set up and ready to go; I’m still enough of a beginner that all of my projects so far have been bookmarks. The one catch was that I had already packed my related books and notes. The other catch, which I quickly recalled as I revisited the project, was that I had been struggling to learn a new-to-me design on this bookmark: Half-Stitch Rose Ground.

Purple Blue and White Cotton Bobbin Lace Bookmark

After a week of working on the bookmark, undoing and redoing the work numerous times, it’s done! The color combination isn’t my favorite; I remember I was using up some scraps of thread when I chose the colors. If you look closely, you can see that the design isn’t quite right. By the end of the bookmark, though, I was finally making the Half-Stitch Rose Ground correctly and that’s what really counts. Learning doesn’t always equal perfection, a concept that I think we all struggle with at some point.

The pillow is still out, with the same pattern pinned down. I picked up a few other thread colors so I can continue to improve my Half-Stitch Rose Ground skills as we wait for our house to sell.

What types of projects do you find yourself shuffling around?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

One Stitch at a Time

Progress can be a fickle thing. It doesn’t always happen in the situations and ways in which we’d most like to see, but it does happen. And time marches on, regardless. This week, I finished knitting my entrelac scarf.

Folded Scarf Knit with Entrelac Stitch in Multicolor Wool

I started knitting the entrelac scarf just before the new year in order to use up my stash of Plymouth Yarn Zino, just over two skeins of yarn. I adapted the free Entrelac Scarf pattern by Allison LoCicero to suit my gauge and the approximate width I was envisioning for the scarf.

Scrunched Scarf Knit in Entrelac Stitch with Multicolor Wool

I wanted a wide scarf, but after knitting a few inches’ worth of the pattern I thought that maybe I had made it a little too wide. On top of that, I was concerned that the scarf might end up too short and need to be transformed into a cowl; narrowing the knitting would result in a longer scarf. However, the yarn is just fuzzy enough to make frogging a nightmare, so I carried on.

Scrunched Scarf Knit with Entrelac Stitch in Multicolor Wool

Three months after starting the scarf, almost to the day, I finished it. Ultimately, I’m very happy with it. The cheery color changes will brighten up a cold winter day, and the scarf will look wonderful with the mittens I made from the same yarn. After blocking, the scarf is about 60 inches long and 10 inches wide, and I love the way the yarn bloomed and softened. The width works well. And after all that worrying, I actually think it’s too short to turn into a cowl but perfect for a scarf.

Folded Scarf Knit in Entrelac Stitch with Multicolor Wool

Spring weather has arrived here and we’re moving to a warmer climate, which means I may not need a wool scarf for quite some time. And yet, I’m still happy to see some progress. The little steps remind me that bigger steps are coming.