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Speaking of getting organized….

…. or I will in a minute, but first here are some of the yarns I’ve got queued up for upcoming projects.

I’m loving these soft gray/blues. I’ve been collecting them here and there, and the tweedy one below was put in my Christmas stocking by Mike.  He did a good job choosing!

And….. ta-da…. my new needle case!  Ok, unless you’re a knitting geek or love bags like I do, it’s probably not all that exciting, but I’m rather tickled with it. I’ve been looking for a while for a replacement to my decades-old, too-small needle case, which was made to hold only long, straight needles – no short sock-type needles and definitely no circulars, so my needles and other tools have been spread about in various different bags or containers, making it difficult to actually find anything when I need it. Not to mention, it was made from sort of tacky looking fake tapestry.

Now this is the case for me. It looks like an envelope when closed….

…and inside has lots of pockets for straights, circulars, interchangeables… the works. There’s also a zippered pocket for a  tape measure, stitch markers, and other tools, and a larger pocket for who-knows-what-else.

The left side fastens with a button, the right side and the outside flap have hidden magnets to keep them closed. I had thought it would be cool to make my own case but, realistically, it would be ages before I could figure out and make one anywhere near as lovely as this.

It was a bit of an indulgence but sometimes, when it’s for something you love to do, it’s very nice to have some quality tools and materials if you can.

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Mailbox bliss

Looky what came in the mail yesterday…..

…a belated Christmas gift from a friend.  Actually, the parcel delivery notice came just over a week ago but it wasn’t until yesterday that one of us (my sweetie) was able to go pick it up. For some reason, our packages are sent to a post office 17 blocks away, rather than the one just three blocks from home. But I digress……..

Among the assortment of goodies, the package included some knitting magazines, the “Big Easy” book of Debbie Bliss patterns (I’ve checked it out a few times online, there are some fabulous patterns in it), and a skein of Araucania Ranco Multy – beautiful hand dyed wool from Chile, I’ve never had any of this yarn before so was really happy to find it in the package. I’ve just looked it up on Ravelry, looks like it would be well suited to a lacey scarf.

Just look at these gorgeous colours…..

… and I didn’t notice it right away, but my book was personally signed.  Lovely.

You say qiviut, I say qiviuq…

It may not look like much, but this is Some Special Yarn.

The company I work for just gave each employee a Christmas gift, and the group who put this together personalized them according to each person’s interests. One of our staff has recently been working in Whitehorse, Yukon, and so my gift is a skein of Qiviuq (also spelled qiviut, but as far as I can tell both spellings are pronounced kiv-ee-yut)…. yarn made from the soft, wooly undercoat of muskox, straight from the Yukon.

Qiviuq is pulled or combed from muskox in the spring when they shed. It is stronger and ten times warmer than sheep’s wool, softer than cashmere, and, unlike wool, can be washed in any temperature of water without shrinking.

This little skein (it’s about 4″ long) is just 25 grams, 180 metres, and cost…… drum roll…… $70.00!! I was given the choice of this as my gift or something else, but decided since I can’t imagine ever buying this yarn, it’s a good opportunity to get some and see what the fuss is about. I’ve read reviews by knitters who absolutely love it, and apparently even when it’s knitted into something very open and lacy, it’s so warm it can’t really be worn in anything other than really cold weather.  Makes sense…. it’s the muskox’s amazing coat that allows it to function normally in temperatures as low as -40c.

Qiviuq  can be dyed in various colours, but this reduces the softness. I’m happy that mine is the natural colour of a muskox though, it’s what I would have chosen anyway. Can’t wait to make this into something warm and toasty for myself!

Thinking Pink

While I was at home with the flu last week, a lovely package arrived in the mail from Three Irish Girls.  Back in July, I’d spotted their gorgeous limited edition colourway of yarn called Georgia Peach in “Sock Summit 2009” and HAD to order some.  They were inundated with orders, apparently, and it took longer than expected to arrive, but I was glad it came when it did…. what a nice pick-me-up in the midst of my fever, chills and aches.

The yarn is McClellan Fingering, a merino/bamboo blend which is lovely and soft, but with a bit of sheen to it. And it’s just so…. peachy!  I have no idea what I will knit with it. For now I’m just enjoying admiring the skein as it is. If a skein of yarn can be a work of art, this one surely is.

The second yarn I ordered is Beckon Stretch Merino, in the colourway called Elsbeth.  As a friend just pointed out, it’s rather reminiscent of Neapolitan ice cream.

Normally I’m drawn to blues and greens, but apparently I was in a pink mood on the day I placed this order. I’m glad though, they did brighten my day. 

In the last few days, although still coughing and sniffling, I’ve felt up to doing some knitting. I finished a hat (except for weaving in the loose ends)…. this is made from my own hand-dyed yarn, kettle-dyed in a workshop I did in the summer. I’m happy with the denim-y look of it. The hat weighs 72 grams, and the leftover yarn weighs 54 grams…. I’m looking for a lacey pattern to hopefully squeeze a second hat out of it.

I also made a lacey scarf out of a mossy-green-with-touches-of-blue Malabrigo, this went up really quickly as it’s the fourth time I’ve knit this pattern (Ishbel).

I had a couple of green yarns queued up for my next projects but that pink yarn calling to me.  I think there is a pair of Neapolitan Ice Cream gloves in my future…..

Latest Crock Pot Creation

Green Yarn 2009-10

My only creative pursuit on the weekend was dying this skein of yarn.  I was going to clear a space on my desk this morning to take a photo, but I kind of liked the impromptu collage created by the clutter around it, so left it as it was.

This yarn (Knit Picks Peruvian Highland Wool) was dyed with Kool-aid in the crock pot again, but this time I mixed several flavours, and dyed it twice.  For the first dye I used three packets of Lemon-Lime, one Ice-Blue Raspberry Lemonade and a touch of Strawberry. Then I added some green food colouring and a scoop of Iced Tea.  I have no idea if the Iced Tea actually did anything, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. 

P1060821

After rinsing, I did a second dyeing with one packet of Lemon-Lime, two Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade, a bit of Orange and Strawberry, and more green food colouring.  I was wondering what that mixture would taste like, but I didn’t try it!  (The second dye was also very blue and milky looking, and reminded me of Bridget Jones and her “string soup!”)  In a small bowl, I mixed up more of the same colours in a tiny bit of water for a highly concentrated mixture of brownish-green, and I dribbled it over the yarn here and there, to create a semi-solid variegated blend.

The variations in colour are very subtle (not even really visible in the photo) but it ended up a lovely mossy-grassy colour. I’m happy with it, even if it is a bit spring-like for an October yarn!  I think this yarn is destined to become a pair of mittens.

That’s all I have to show for the weekend, but I have to say…. there’s something extremely satisfying about taking a blank, snow-white skein of yarn, throwing it in a pot with a few packets of drink mix, and creating a beautiful, one-of-a-kind new colour!

A Cozy Ride

KBN bike

I am fortunate to have three yarn shops within walking distance from where I live and work  (not to mention three art supply shops…. it can be rather dangerous!) 

Today on my lunch break I went to the newest yarn shop, Knotty By Nature.  They sell fibre and tools for knitting, spinning, weaving, crochet and more, including local fibres and locally made items.  I went looking for (and found) something specific for a little project I’m working on… more on that later.

In the meantime, I thought I’d show you the bike that sits outside the shop. As you can see, it’s completely covered in knitting – sort of a bike slipcover, or bike cozy.  I love how the knitting is coming apart a bit on the back tire and the kick stand, as if someone’s actually been riding it.  It reminds me of the yarnbombing or guerilla knitting I’ve been reading about, where people cover public objects with pieces of knitting…. sort of grafitti with yarn.  I’ve seen photos of knitting wrapped around trees, lamp posts, statues…. even an entire bus covered in knitting!  Pretty cool, huh?

First Dye Job

For my first blog entry I thought I’d share my recent venture into hand-dyeing yarn. I did some reading about dyeing with Kool-aid and decided it would be a good method for my first go. Eventually I plan to get set up with proper acid dyes but in the meantime Kool-aid is very low cost and food-safe, so you don’t need dedicated containers or tools. There are many good tutorials available online about Kool-aid dyeing, but this is how I did it.

I started with two skeins of lovely, super soft Malagbrigo Lace merino wool, and an assortment of Kool-aid packets in various flavours. 

Step 1

Step 1

The Merino sheep is regarded as having the finest and softest wool of any sheep, so this was pretty good stuff I was experimenting on. Jump in with both feet, I say!

Step 1:  Give the yarn a good soak in cool water. Untwist the skein, but leave it in a big loop. If there are short pieces tying it together leave them in place, to keep it from getting tangled, but make sure they’re loose enough for the dye to reach all the fibres.  Now, mix up the Kool-aid in water. There are guidelines about how much Kool-aid to use per ounce of yarn, but I must admit I didn’t really pay attention to them. I used six small plastic containers and mixed Lime in two of them and Ice-Blue Raspberry Lemonade in two others, with different amounts of water for more or less colour saturation. In the other two containers I mixed both flavours together. Dip the yarn into the containers.

Step 2

Step 2

Step 2:  I had the containers on the glass tray of the microwave, which made it easy to transfer the whole tray into the microwave with the containers on it. I zapped it for about a minute, let it cool for a few minutes, and repeated that a few times.

Step 3

Step 3

Step 3:   Remove from the microwave and rotate the yarn, so the undyed (white) areas that were in between the separate containers are now submerged.  In the photo on the left, you can see I rotated the skein a few inches clockwise. You can get some really cool effects here, where the colours blend into each other.  Repeat the zapping/cooling process.

 

Step 4:  After the yarn has cooled down, give it a rinse in cold water, then hang to dry.

(I should mention: hot water + natural fibres + aggitation = felt.  In other words, when heating the yarn to set the dyes don’t move it around, or you’ll end up with the strands felted together. When you rinse use cool water and, in general, avoid any sudden changes in temperature.)

Here’s the result:  the blue/green skein, as well as a Strawberry/Tropical Punch pinky-red one.  Ta-da! It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a 39 cent packet of Kool-aid!

The finished skeins
The finished skeins