Friday, October 18, 2013

Fresh Off the Wheel - Rainbows

You might have guessed by now how much I like rainbows if you have visited here or my shop, so today's post should come as no surprise.  Fresh off my spinning wheel this week is a self striping skein of a bright rainbow yarn.  I completely geeked out while making it and seeing the rainbow appear on my bobbin that I stopped to take a picture.

I then plied it with a ply of BFL wool/silk blend in a cream grey color.  Above are the results.  I would like to learn how to mix two rainbow ply together matching up the colorways so they don't overly bleed into the next color, but I'm not sure how to make each color strand the same length.  I see some experimenting in my future.  This skein came out at 148 yards and is available in my Etsy shop for purchase.  I have more of the rainbow wool so what do you think I should ply it with next the next time I spin?  I'm thinking a light blue might be really pretty, but I am up for suggestions.

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Finished Project - A Teddy Bear

I've been wanting to knit a teddy bear for some time now, but just haven't been able to find the right one.  The patterns are either too complicated, take too long to knit or are simple enough, but I don't like how it looks until I found this pattern.  I knit it with some of my earliest handspun yarn (very lumpy bumpy thick thin) that I just dyed with avocado skins.  The resulting color of the yarn was a warm pinky tan which, oddly enough, was about the color of my first teddy bear Fred. you think that's where I got the idea? 

Please excuse the dark pictures as we have been having some truly gloomy days here in Minnesota.  The only thing I did not like about this pattern was the very thin neck so I gave him a little red garter stitch scarf to ward off the cold.  I'm already knitting another version out of my black walnut dyed yarn.  This time around I'm knitting the neck thicker and the head bigger (my mom's request) and will see if he"ll need a scarf or not.  This first one in now available in my Etsy shop if you think you can provide him with a loving home please purchase.
For books, I'm still reading A Thomas Jefferson Education.  With the darker days and earlier evenings I'm finding it hard to read at night and quite frankly, I keep falling asleep.  My guess is I just have to find another reading time while it's light out, but then what to do with Sam?  When do you find time to read?

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fresh From the Dye Pot

I've had the itch to dye some yarn this week and because of the season I decided to use black walnuts.  My friend's yard gets littered with the walnuts each Fall so I knew right where to lay my hands on some. Her daughter kindly collected a large bagful for me and I paid her a little something for her efforts - a win win!  I placed the black walnuts in my large 5 gallon dye pot along with enough water to fill it within a few inches of the rim.  They simmered for about 2 hours at which time I strained off the walnuts leaving a lovely dark brown dye bath.  While the pot was simmering on the stove I soaked some previously mordanted (I use alum and cream of tartar) handspun and machine spun yarn.  Then I placed the wetted yarn in the dye pot and simmered them for  about 1 hour.  The results were a lovely warm medium brown color.  I wanted to see what other shades I could get from this dye bath so some of the yarn went back in to see how dark I could make it and I added a couple of fresh skein to create a lighter shade.  You can see the processes below.

Black walnuts simmering away.  I kept this covered as it can be a little smelly. 

 Yarn soaking in sink.  If throughly wetted the yarn will soak up the dye evenly with no splotches.  Some skeins were previously dyed with osage orange wood chips or annatto seeds but I didn't just love the color so I decided to over-dye them.

Here are the final results drying in the sunshine outside.

The black walnuts were such a success I wanted to dye more yarn.  Dyeing is just as addictive as knitting and spinning for me, but thankfully I go in waves so I don't permanently overtake our tiny kitchen.  I have been collecting avocado skins for some months as I heard they are used as a dyestuff  and really, since we were eating them anyway it makes them free (just like the walnuts - are you seeing a theme?)

Here is the surprising color made by avocado skins.  I found out later I could have used the pits as well as the skins.  Which would have helped dye more yarn as it's a 1:1 ratio by weight.

Here are my single plies drying outside.  I spun them last spring and it has been satisfying to see I have improved quite a bit since then.  Practice, practice, practice as they say.   

Here is a closeup of the peachy tan color.  It kind of reminds me of dyeing with tea by how the yarn looks more aged than colored.  I think it would make a great skin tone for gnome doll faces.  

I will spin more singles to ply with the walnut and avocado skeins.  I've already made this skein with a confetti colored ply (also plant dyed, but with exotic plants mainly) which is already available in my etsy shop SimplyPlaying.  It's twin skein is still drying, but will probably be listed by tomorrow.  The really lumpy bumpy slubby yarn I will knit with myself probably into some more toys  for the shop.  I'm off to clean up my mess in the kitchen now.  Just on a side note, black walnuts contain a toxin that prevents other plants from growing so it is best to throw it in your garbage rather than composting.  

A Giveaway!

Hello.  As I mentioned in my last post I am having a giveaway this weekend.  You can find it at the lovely Small Things blog where I am a sponsor.  I will be giving away one Small Things reader the below pictured 70 yard skein of worsted weight rainbow handspun wool/angora yarn along with one of my jewelry making kits (also pictured below.)   There is also a coupon code that can be used for the month of October for 15% all items in my Etsy shop SimplyPlaying

Head on over to Ginny's blog Small Things and find out how you can enter to win these two items and for the coupon code to be used in my shop.  Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yarn Along - Knitted Chickens

Well, I have been flipping from knitting project to knitting project this week.  Not quite sure why I am so unsettled and unfocused.  Maybe it's the darkening days here in the North which are leaving me with the feeling of having to hurry and finish knitting everything (and let me tell you I have quite a few works in progress) before it gets cold.  As I said last week, many of my knitting projects are big ones so the end is not in sight for most of them.  This "hurry up" attitude makes me want to complete something, anything really.  So, I've turned to making toys for my etsy store instead of working on my personal knitting.  I settled on chickens as they are quick to knit and let's face it - so cute to boot!

These chickens are stuffed with a wooden egg for the body with just a bit wool for the head.

Here is my array of chicken body colors; all will have red feathers and beaks.  Some use my own handspun yarn and the yarns are either in the fiber's natural color or plant dyed. 

As for reading, I haven't done much this week; again trouble with focusing.  But, I did at least start A Thomas Jefferson Education : Teaching a Generation of Leaders For The Twenty-First Century by Oliver Van DeMille.   A homeschooling friend of mine recommended it and so far as the first 20 pages go I am intrigued, but feel it pertains more to older children (my Sam is just 7.)  Maybe by next week's Yarn Along I can tell you more.

Be sure to check back here this Saturday the 13th for another Giveaway!

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Leftovers - An I-Cord Necklace

Left over yarn drives me nuts.  I love using up every little bit on a project, but rarely does this happen.  Then, what do I do with the leftovers?  The little itty bitty bits go into making pillow stuffing like I mention here and the longer yarn scraps I use to continue my snail like progress on my I-Cord Rug, but this time I thought of another I-Cord idea - a necklace.  I usually don't wear necklaces because the weight pulls on my neck and gives me a headache, but a knitted necklace weighs almost nothing so I gave it a try.   
Here are the results below.

Thanks to Sam's pumpkin for modeling.

I knit all my leftover bulky weight yarn from my cowl and mitts into a long 3 stitch i-cord.  Then, I wrapped all three loops with a piece of plant dyed felt in a light orange also a left over but from toy making.  Finally, I snugly wrapped some sport weight yarn in dark orange and brown around the felt.  All this wrapping keeps the loops in a fixed position and gives a nice color contrast as well as a focal point to the necklace. 


Remember from this last post how I was debating on whether or not to embroider the backs of the mitts?  Well, I decided to stitch some very simple randomly placed orange flowers with brown french knot centers to coordinate with my new necklace.  What do you think?  I am really quite pleased with the overall look even if it limits their wear-ability to certain colored clothing.  
Orange, turquoise and brown just really jibe I think.

Here they are together.  Honestly, I like them both better than the cowl which was my original intention with this yarn.  Funny how limits, like short yardage, really can inspire your creativity.

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm and Craft On.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Stashbusting - A Cowl and Mitts for ME!

I've been knitting a lot for my etsy shop lately and feeling like all my personal projects are backing up and stalling out.  That afghan I was knitting on earlier in the week has already been put aside to make some knitted chickens for the shop (I'll post on them later) as they are small and easy to finish.  All my other knitting seems to be big and long in process so I decided to stash bust a few bulky skeins from Luna Grey Fiber Arts.  Something quick and easy seemed just the thing to give me a sense of accomplishment and some much needed forward movement.  Below is what I came up with a simple loosely knit ribbed cowl and some matching fingerless mitts.

The cowl was knit with size 13 needles and took me a mere 2 hours last night to knit.  And for the record, I am a slow to average knitter so this was really fast for me.  As you can see I already have it blocking and this morning I knit up one of a pair of fingerless mitts.  Hopefully this afternoon I will finish the other of the pair and that will be two skeins out of my yarn stash knit into useful items.  I will still have some leftover yarn, which drives me nuts by the by, but maybe I'll knit some kind of bracelet/cuff  just to use it up.  What do you think about doing some embroidery on the backs of the mitts?  I was thinking an orange flower/s might be fun as almost everything in my wardrobe (if you can call my collection of clothes that) is solid colored, but then it might also limit their wear-ability.  Any thoughts?

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday on a Saturday.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yarn Along - Fair Isle Dreams and an Afghan

Taking a break from serious reading this week as I find myself perusing a knitting book called Fair Isle Style over and over.  Do I need another knitting project?  A resounding "NO!" can be heard echoing throughout my house, but dreaming is always fun.  I especially like the Reeva Hat in a traditional tam beret style.

On my needles is an afghan I began last Spring using this pattern with a mix of Lorna's Laces worsted weight yarn.  The pattern is so simple and a really fun knit as you really could just stop at any time.  You start from the middle and work you way out in consecutive squares (the designer also has a circular version.)  So, you could stop right away and have a coaster or a hot pad, then maybe after a little more a chair cushion or pillow, next up a lap blanket or wall hanging, my destination - afghan would be next or finally a bedspread.  Really, a low pressure pattern.  I left it over the summer as, let's face it, wool is hot when draped all over you.  Now, with the cooler temps it has been calling my name.  I'm hoping to knock it out quickly so I can move on to my holiday gift knit list.  Oh, if I would only start on that list in July.  Sigh.

Joining in with Ginny on Small Things for Yarn Along.