Monday, November 19, 2012

Gift-Giving Season: An Early Freak-Out

Augh!
Where does the time go?  It's already Thanksgiving (and then Black Friday) this week!  Monday is my husband's birthday (already?!)... and then the month of December will be whisking by, with all its gatherings and obligations.

How does this happen every year?  I love the holidays in theory, but gosh, they have a way of sneaking up on me every single year.  I never seem to be prepared in advance, even when I started making gifts back in January!

That said, I don't actually have many gifts left to make (if only I could say the same about my gift-shopping, which I haven't even begun).  There are three or four that need some finishing... A few more that need washing and photographing (which I've been putting off because I want to make sure they'll smell fresh when they're opened and not like they've been stuffed in a drawer or closet for half a year)... Then there's a bigger sewing project that is not even halfway done.  (Fortunately, it should go quickly once I pick it up again-- provided the sewing machine behaves like a lady and not a thread-jamming hussy.)

How's your gift-crafting going?  Did you have it all finished months ago?  Will you be sewing, crocheting, etc. right down to the finish line (a.k.a. cutting the last thread and tossing it in a gift bag before racing to the car)?  Or have you sworn off making gifts altogether?  Sometimes that seems like the way to go, honestly... But somehow I can't resist!

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My latest finished project is a gift-to-be (probably...), so I won't share any photos, yet (even though I don't think the intended recipient reads this blog).  I wish all I had to do was weave in the tails, wash, and block it-- but no.  You see, I used that "broken black" yarn to make it, and that is presenting some problems.

I knew when I hung it to dry that it was still giving off red/pink dye, but at that point I just didn't want to deal with the problem.  (So I get to deal with it now instead.  Yay.)  It knit up just fine, but (as I kind of expected might happen) it colored the pads of my fingers pink while I knitted.  (g)  The cable of my circular needles also ended up with a pink tinge.  The color came off the needles and cable with a little rubbing alcohol on bits of paper towel.  Since alcohol dries things out, I'm not sure if it's the best cleanser for plastic cables, but if it's only an infrequent occurrence, I hope it won't matter.  Besides, this was a homemade cable, so if the worst happens, I can replace it at minimal expense.

This problem-- the red coming off the dry yarn-- is due to something called "crocking", which apparently is caused when the pH of the dyebath drops (becomes acidic) too quickly for the Red #3's liking, at which point the Red #3 solidifies into particles that fall to the bottom of the pot, stick to the pot, and/or stay just on the surface of the yarn, only to come off in the wash, on your hands and needles, etc.  (Or in other words, I added too much vinegar too fast for the red to adhere to the yarn properly.)

I'm going to try to set the dye by gradually adding a little vinegar at a time while soaking/heating the finished item in a "non-dyebath"-- clean water.  Then I'll wash and rinse as usual.  If that doesn't work (or if the process redistributes the colors in a way that is hideous), I may try to overdye it.  (With blue, maybe?)  I'm hoping it works and doesn't change significantly in appearance, but if it doesn't work out, I may end up not giving this item as a gift, after all...  I hate to give something (even as an "extra" gift) that may continue to give off a red tint to anything it rubs against long enough... (g)

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While trying to decide how to clean my circular needles (see above)-- before I, you know, decided to just wipe them off with alcohol, come what may-- I came across a couple of interesting links:

Cleaning Steel Crochet Hooks
(More useful for people with old/antique hooks than the those of us who bought new ones fairly recently, but still... Nice to know they can be recovered from rust!)

61 Ways to Store Your Knitting Needles (or Crochet Hooks)
(I just think it's fun to read about how other people organize their craft supplies.)

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And finally, last but not least, a thank you to Pammy Sue.  She had a giveaway on her blog a week or two ago, and late last week I received the prize in the mail-- a yummy strawberry sorbet lip balm egg from eos, and a change purse and makeup bag in pretty Cath Kidston floral prints.  What a fun package to receive in the mail!

If you're not already following Pammy Sue, you should check out her blog.  She writes about crochet, recipes, her cute dogs, and more.  You never know what you're going to read next, but it's bound to be entertaining. :o)  (She's currently taking a holiday hiatus from her blog, but she says she'll be back sometime in December.)