Wednesday, 31 March 2010


... I can count the Textured Circles Shrug as a finished object. The knitting has been done for ages, but I wanted to overdye it a shade of pewter.
Step forward the major players in this scheme...

... food colouring paste in Liquorice and a large bottle of household vinegar.

I soaked the shrug in a water / vinegar mix to saturate the fibres, then in the dye (made up in hot water and vinegar). After about 10 minutes in the dye -with agitation to ensure an even take-up - it was into the microwave to heat the dye and fibers so the dye would strike.

This was achieved by way of a large salad bowl covered with clingfilm. Then it was just a case of rinsing in cool water, checking the colour and repeating until the depth of colour was what I wanted.

I did the final rinse and spin in the washing machine. The colour is possibly still just on the pale side, but I've decided to live with it for a while before deciding whether to darken it up more.

I've worn the finished shrug to work three times already since I dyed it - it's the perfect shape to go over a 9-month bump!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Baby Gifts

There seems to have been a spate of babies lately, so in addition to knitting lots of little toys and clothes for my own bump, I've been knitting some for others as well.

This is the Upside-down Daisy Hat from Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B Anderson. I knitted it in Pisgah Peaches and Creme cotton on 4mm needles.


The petals were knitted separately and sewn on afterwards, but were not as fiddly as I thought they might be. I made each petal two rows longer in the central section to look a bit better proportionally on the hat size I'd knitted. The hat is a gift for a colleague of my mother's.

I've also knitted another Nautie by Beth Skwarecki. My sister saw the first one I knitted and asked for one for a colleague of her's who's due the week before me.

She wanted the same colours as the first one, but I didn't have enough yarn left over for the shell, so I added a lilac and striped the shell as written in the original pattern. It worked out so well that I kept the second one and gave my sister the original!

Friday, 12 March 2010

A bit behind

I've gotten a bit behind with my blogging lately but the knitting is continuing. I'm actually making really good progress with a couple of my larger projects that I'd like to get done before the baby makes an appearance.

This is the Textured Circles Shrug by Stephanie Japel. I've knitted it in Noro Cash Iroha that I bought in the John Lewis sale a few years ago now (so it almost feels like knitting for free!).


Pattern - Textured Circles Shrug by Stephanie Japel (Ravelry Link).
Yarn - Noro Cash Iroha (7 balls).
Needles - 4.5mm and 5 mm circulars.
Modifications - nothing that really matters, however, I did sew up the sleeve seams before I picked up and knitted the border. This seemed to make more sense to me that picking up the border over unsewn seams.

However, despite appearances, this shrug is NOT FINISHED YET... The knitting is all done, the ends are sewn in and it fits well enough that I don't want to make any tweaks, but the colour is just not me. I knew this when I bought the yarn, but when a full pack of silk-cashmere blend yarn is on sale for a song, I could't pass it by. I reasoned that the yarn is very neutral, so once it decided what it wanted to be, I'd overdye it.

I've repeatedly debated with myself whether I should dye it in skeins, or wait until it was knitted up and garment dye it and eventually went with the latter. I didn't know how many balls I would use, so didn't want to risk either too few or too many of one colour. I also think that garment dying might be a bit more even.

I've knitted several swatches with the remains of the 7th ball and have plans to experiment with them until I get the colour I want (a sort of pewter), then have a go with the whole shrug. The current plan is to acid dye using white vinegar and food colour paste, setting the colour in the microwave so I don't end up with a felted mess. Fingers crossed...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

New Toys

I'm a bit of a use-the-best-tools-for-the-job junkie. I've inherited this trait from my Dad (who's a trained tool-maker and engineer) - my Mum will probably be nodding in recognition around now. I'm happy to improvise and make do for a while, but once I know that something is for me and I'm going to stick with it, I like to make a bit of an investment in the right tools.
This has happened recently with knitting. I've been knitting regularly for the last 6 years and over that time my needle preference has evolved. I started out with 14 inch straight inox needles inherited from my grandmother, and added a few pairs of wooden ones in sizes that I didn't have. I moved on to socks and used inox DPNs from Gran's needle box (these are still my favourite sock needles). For small circumferences and especially socks, I now know that I'm going to stick with DPNs so have added more sizes (inox for small gauges and wooden for larger). I can do small projects on two circular needles, but don't really like it.

Since I started knitting lace a couple of years back, I've acquired a few sets of Addi circular needles and like them immensly. Over time, I've found that I actually prefer circular needles to straights for all projects because the weight of the project always sits in the middle and not out at the end of one needle. Once I'd acknowledged that I hadn't actually used a set of long straights for well over a year, I decided to make an investment in good circular needles. I had a decision, either two pairs of the longest Addis in each size that I used (so I wasn't hampered by cable lengths) or a set of interchangables.

I went for the interchangables. Get Knitted were offering a starter set of KnitPro interchangables with three sets of points, three cables in different lengths, and some other necessary accessories. I'd heard excellent reports of the KnitPro needles and liked that there were nickel, wooden and acrylic points available that would all fit the same cables, so in I jumped (with a few extras - more points in the sizes I use most, and some markers and cable connecter so I can make really long cables eg for edging a blanket).

I love them. They make it really easy to change needle size and I can connect an extra cable if I need to try something on, rather than slipping the stitches onto waste yarn and then back onto the needle. They've also worked out much less expensive than the equivalent combinations of fixed circular needles (I've got the equivalent of 21 sets of circulars for the price of around 4 sets) and are really good quality. My long straight needles have gone into a box at the bottom of my stash and I'm not really sure that they'll see the light of day again...