Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sock Class

It's been forever since I posted but I've had nothing to show you. I have plenty of things on the needles but nothing completed (the story of my life!). I did finish a pair of socks for my friend Libby but forgot to take a picture before I gave them to her.

On Monday night I taught the last in a series of four sock knitting classes at Cock-A-Doodle Quilts. This is the second time I was asked to do this and I had six brave victims students this time around.

For this class I wrote my own pattern, going into more detail than is usually provided in sock patterns that presume you already have some knowledge of sock construction. It's a basic top down sock, knit on double-pointed needles. As this was the first time I've ever written a knitting pattern, there were a few bugs and a few places where some more details were needed. A big thank you to my students for their patience and their help in making it better.

Liz got her first sock finished at the last class and modeled it for us:

Linda finished one too but I didn't get a picture. Everyone else was on the home stretch. We'll see about getting together again in a couple of weeks for a final sock fashion show.

It's quite satisfying to make your own hand knitted socks (they make great gifts too!) and it's not as difficult as you might think. Try it! You'll like it!!

If you'd like a copy of my pattern, please leave me a message in the comment section or send me an email at quilt dot stitch at gmail dot com (replacing the word dot with . and at with @)

And now back to one of the two shawls I am currently working on ... or the socks ... or the sweater ...


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another shawl completed!

Clarus, the second shawl in my "Mastering Lace Shawls" course is completed and in record time. I started in on April 28 - the day the yarn was purchased at the Knitters Frolic in Toronto - and it was completed and off the needles on June 8. It would have been sooner but I had a couple of issues near the end. I blocked it last weekend and gave it to its new owner, my best friend Jackie.

This shawl was made from a fabulous fingering weight 100% merino wool yarn from Indiodragonfly, an amazing indie dyer located in Haliburton, Ontario. To say they these folks have a wicked sense of humour would be an understatement. Completely insane (but in a good way!) would be more like it. Check them out and see the names of their yarn colourways and you will know what I mean. Their yarns are amazing and I will definitely be buying more.

The yarn I used is called "Hootenanny - Well It's Chock Full of Hoot, Just a Little Bit of Nanny", a beautiful semi-solid teal colour. Unfortunately, the colour in the photo just doesn't do it justice. And the puppy pads that I put down on the top of my bed to wet block the shawl are detracting from the elegance as well.

I'm planning to do this pattern again, but this time in a lace weight yarn. I've never knit with anything that fine so it will be a challenge. I wanted to start it right away but discovered that, of all the needles I own, I don't have any 3.5 mm circulars so one had to be ordered. It should be here soon.

In other knitting, I've been working on a couple of pairs of socks for my friend Libby. One pair is almost done, the second pair underway. Pictures will follow when they are done.

I've been asked to teach knitting in a child care centre one afternoon a week during July and August. I love teaching kids to knit. I've worked with some of these children (6 and 7 years old) before and they are very excited that I will be there all summer. I'm excited too!

And now, back to the sock knitting ...

Happy Knitting!

Monday, April 30, 2012

I've been MIA

I'm back!!

I apologize for neglecting my blog for so long. I hadn’t realized just how long until a friend pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been pretty busy the last couple of months with various projects, including some knitting.

One of the things that I was thrilled to do was teach a beginner sock knitting class at Cock-A-Doodle Quilts. As anyone who knows me already knows, I’ve almost aways got socks on my needles and carry my little sock knitting pouch with me everywhere I go. They are a perfect take-along project for those times when you have a few minutes. It’s surprising how much you can get done with just 5 or 10 minutes here and there.

Many of my friends and the customers at Cock-A-Doodle Quilts would see me working on my socks from time to time. The most frequent comment was “Oh, I’d love to knit socks but they are so hard!” "But they are NOT," I would explain. "There are a couple of slightly tricky parts, but once you learn how, you will see that it’s not that difficult at all."

This is how my sock knitting class was born. Jo-Ann (the owner of Cock-A-Doodle Quilts) agreed to bring in some fun, affordable, self-striping sock yarn and some lovely birch double-pointed knitting needles and we were good to go. Five people signed up for the 4 week class. Each week we worked on one part of the sock and at the end of the classes, two of my students had their first sock completed, with the others well on their way.

Here's Cathie's first sock that she finished on the last night of classes. She finished the second one on her own and has just completed yet another pair for her daughter. Now she's collecting sock yarn like a mad woman and is going to have quite a hand knitted sock wardrobe by next winter! Well done Cathie!

Here’s Linda’s first sock. She, too, finished her second one soon after the last class. Good job Linda!

And here’s Beth's first sock, finished about a week after the end of the classes. Beth was a brand new knitter having done only simple scarves before launching into socks. She and her Mom came to the class and Beth finished BEFORE her Mom. She was very proud of her accomplishment, as was I. I hear she’s working away on sock #2. YAY Beth!!

I'm planning to teach this class again in the Fall. Also coming in the Fall, I’m planning to teach an introduction to lace knitting    another thing that seems to terrify knitters and really shouldn't! I’m working on the sample now, a lovely lace scarf using a beautiful silky bamboo yarn from Dye-Version in Mississauga. Stay tuned for further details.

And speaking of lace, here’s a picture of my Skywalker shawl that I just completed. I took an online class – Mastering Lace Knitting – at LauraNelkin is an amazing teacher and designer.

Although nothing beats a hands-on class, that’s not always possible. I highly recommend the Craftsy platform for classes. They offer something in just about every type of creative outlet you can imagine. Each course offers complete video tutorials as well as written materials for you to print. Once you purchase the course, it is available to you forever. You can go back and look at it at any time, at your convenience. (Just to clarify, I don’t work for Craftsy. I’m just a fan.)

I currently have two pairs of socks on needles and am just starting the second shawl – Clarus – in my Craftsy class. I’m making this one as a gift for my best friend. We picked out the yarn together at the Knitters Frolic this past weekend. I didn't want to tell her what I was making but she wore me down! She knows it will be a shawl but has no idea what it will look like (unless, of course, she reads this!)

So in addition to teaching some quilting classes, doing some freelance administrative work for a few people, teaching knitting to the kids at a local daycare and just life in general, I’ve been keeping busy.

I'm going to try my best to post more often. I've been compiling some useful links recently and will post them soon.

Until next time ...
Keep on stitching!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ut oh, another passion ...

As if I didn't have enough crafty obsessions, I have a new one! This is not my first foray into the world of beads, but this is something completely different from simple bead stringing of earrings and necklaces. No sireeee.... I've learned a whole new skill and am loving it!

I've always admired the work of Stephanie Dixon aka The Dixon Chick, and for a long time wanted to take one of her wire bead crochet classes at BeadFx in Toronto but they were always scheduled when I wasn't available.

A couple of weeks ago that all changed and I was finally able to meet Stephanie at an Open Beading Night at BeadFx and she got me started down a slippery slope. I made my first wire crochet necklace and was thrilled with it.

Stephanie is an amazing teacher and tons of fun too! I was so hooked (pardon the pun) that I also took one of her classes a couple of weeks later. Be sure to check out her blog. She's an amazingly talented woman.

Here are the pieces I've made so far.

This was the first necklace I made using purple
wire and an assortment of green, purple and mauve beads.
This is the one that I made in Stephanie's class. The wire is gold
crocheted with Swarovski Crystal beads and Myuki glass cube beads
And this one I made with copper wire and an assortment of
green and amber beads.
And in in spare time, I made this simple memory wire bracelet with an assortment
of size 6/0 Czech glass seed beads called "Honeybee Topaz Mix".
I think it needs a matching necklace, don't you?

Can you tell I'm having a wonderful time? I have so many ideas spinning around in my head that I want to do. If only there were more hours in the day and more money in the bank account!

Of course I'm still knitting and quilting too. I'm only slightly ADD! :-)

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lace Shawl done and blocked!

In the spring I took an online class at Needlecraft University (class K154 - Triangular Lace Shaw). The project we worked on was from Heartstrings Fibrearts, the Triangles Within Triangles Shawl.

This was my first shawl ever, let alone taking on the challenges of a triangular shawl. I had trouble wrapping my brain around a couple of the concepts but finally "got it". The pattern is suitable for all weights of yarn so to prevent myself from going completely insane, I chose a sport weight cotton yarn so that I wouldn't get too frustrated. I was definitely a very good decision! I used Knit Picks Shine Sport in "Hollyberry", a lovely burgundy colour (a now discontinued colourway it seems). This is a lovely soft yarn with a nice hand with just a hint of shine.

I finished the shawl early in the summer but only got it blocked and photographed a couple of weeks ago. I'm delighted with the results and have already enjoyed wearing it a couple of times. :-)

Can't wait to make another lace shawl, maybe even with some stashed lace weight! However, before that happens, I have several other projects to finish up.

Here's the shawl while it was drying on the blocking wires.
The shawl artfully (??) draped over a chair.
And now back to my regularly scheduled knitting!

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And now for something quilty ...

I took a couple of days off from knitting to design and create a small, paper pieced wall quilt (or table topper). I needed a new sample to use for a beginnger paper piecing class I will be teaching at Cock-A-Doodle Quilts this fall. I'm pretty happy with the results.

This photo is a bit washed out and doesn't do
the colours justice at all!
Now I just have to decide how to quilt it. That's always the most difficult decision for me.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled knitting! 


The Great Kool-Aid Dyeing Adventure

As promised, here’s the information about my Kool-Aid yarn dyeing experiment. All in all it went well and I’m happy with the final results. Photography is not my best thing so I apologize for some of the slightly blurry images. And the colours are not quite as acid bright as the pictures seem to indicate.

In order to dye yarn, it must first be in a skein, tied loosely in a few places to prevent tangling. I used Bare Stroll Sock Yarn which came in a hank, tied in two places. Just for insurance I added two addition ties. These ties need to be loose to ensure the dye can get to all the yarn.

The first step is to soak the yarn in a basin of lukewarm water for about 30 minutes to ensure that it is thoroughly wet throughout. Because this yarn was brand new and meant to be dyed, I skipped the washing step for the first batch that I dyed green. In hindsight, that was a bad idea. I did gently wash the second batch and the colour was more evenly distributed.

Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid:

While the yarn soaked, I added 3 envelopes of Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid to 2 cups of hot tap water and stirred it to dissolve the powder. I let it stand to make sure all the powder was completely dissolved while I patiently waited. The ratio of Kool-Aid to yarn suggested on several websites is 1 package per ounce of yarn. My skein was 3.5 oz so I started with 3 packages.

When the yarn soaking time was up, I added the Kool-Aid mixture to the 6 cups of lukewarm water standing by in the crockpot. I lifted the soaked yarn gently out of its bath, squishing out as much water as possible with my hands down the length of the skein. Treat it gently and try not to get it tangled.
Kool-Aid disolved in hot water.
Did a colour test on a piece of paper towel.
Dye Bath in the Crockpot
I lowered the squished out hank slowly into the crockpot and said a prayer! I swished it around VERY gently to make sure the dye was reaching all the yarn. Interestingly, the dye bath exhausted within about 2 minutes, meaning all they dye had been absorbed into the yarn. Hmmmm that wasn’t supposed to happen so quickly. And there were some spots that were still almost white. Hmmmmmm that wasn’t supposed to happen either. I mixed up another packet of Kook-Aid and added it to the water and again, almost instant exhaustion. Now what? The water hadn’t even heated up at this point.

This was shortly after I put the yarn in the pot.
You can see that the dye is exhausted. The water is clear
and all the dye absorbed. You can also see the white patches.

I turned the crockpot on high and left it for 30 minutes because I had a feeling the heat was required to set the dye. Not sure if that was the case or not but I did it anyway. I then did an addition 30 minutes on low before turning off the pot and left it to cool down to room (I actually left it overnight).

I lifted the yarn out of the pot and put it in a basin of lukewarm water to rinse. Swished it a bit, dumped out the water and added clean water and swished again. There was no dye released in either rinse.

I took the yarn out of the rinse water, squishing the water out with my hands down the length of the skein as I did so. I then laid it on a huge bath sheet, rolled it up gently and squished out as much water as possible by walking on the rolled up towel.

I hung the yarn over a plastic coat hanger and hung it in the bathroom over the tub to dry. There are still some very light patches in the yarn but it will still make nice socks or a shawl I think.

Yarn drying. You can see the white patches.
Close-up showing the undyed parts.
The finished ball of yarn :-)

Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade Kool-Aid:

I did everything pretty much as outlined above but this time added some “Soak” to the water in which the yarn was soaking and "squitched" it a bit. I had read that adding a bit of liquid dish detergent to the water helps to break that surface tension of the water which helps the yarn to thoroughly soak up the water. Although “Soak” does not require rinsing, I rinsed the yarn a couple of times anyway (just in case) before putting it in the dye pot. Although again, the dye exhausted very rapidly, there was a much more even distribution. I can only attribute this to the addition of the “Soak”. I have since read that adding salt to the dye bath will slow down the absorption of the dye to create a more solidly dyed yarn. My blue yarn is somewhat mottled but definitely no white areas.

Colour is more evenly distributed this time.

It seems I forgot to take a photo of the completed ball of blue yarn so you will have to use your imagination. :-)

There are loads of resources on the internet for dyeing with Kool-Aid. You can find some great information at this Ravelry Group. In addition, Knitty has a good tutorial which includes a really useful chart of the colours you can expect with various flavours of Kool-Aid.

I highly recommend you try this. It's loads of fun. Just be cautious of getting Kool-Aid powder on your hands. I had "smurf" hands when I accidentally spilled some of the blue powder. Ooops! A couple of drops of bleach with some hand soap cleared it up.

Have fun!