Monday, May 19, 2014

Finally Some Photos!

Various and Sundry:

Linen Stitch Cowl

The linen stitch cowl was put on almost-finished hold because I'm not sure how "tall" I want it to be.  Also, because I was getting a little tired of it.  (I do love the way linen stitch looks, though, and I'm saving all my smaller remnants of wool-based yarn for a linen stitch scarf.  There are some gorgeous examples on Ravelry.)

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When I put down the cowl, I picked up some old, on-going WIPs.  The "So Ugly It's Cute" afghan and the "Granny's Daughter" afghan, to be exact.  I added 40 mini-grannies to the Ugly-Cute bag and 20 micro-grannies to the tin where I'm keeping those.  I have more of each kind waiting for end-weaving before I can add them to the tallies.

Scrap-ghan Bits & Pieces

If I keep the Ugly-Cute afghan on the small (one-person) size-- and I probably will-- I think I can glimpse the end of the project, in the distance.  (Well, I can glimpse the end of the mini-granny-making portion.  Then there's the joining and edging to consider.  I'm still not sure whether or not I'll join "on point"/diagonal seams.)

The micro-grannies, though... I'll be working on them for years to come, most likely. The pattern calls for 836 of the things (for a 55" x 78" afghan).  I have 150 in the tin.  Though crocheting them is a breeze, I don't love weaving the ends, so the prospect of that many more to make... Hm.  I'm just not sure.  I could always abandon ship and use them to make a cushion cover...

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See the crochet hook in the photo above (the one with the mini- and micro-grannies)?  Maybe it's old news to most people, but apparently the Crochet Dude (in association with Boye) has come out with a new line of rubbery-handled hooks.  I found them at Michaels, but some of the other big-box craft stores might stock them, too.  (I see them online at knitting-warehouse.com, for instance, where they even have a selection of rubber-padded steel hooks.  Interesting!)

They're not as cheap as your standard aluminum hook, of course, but using a coupon helps, and they're already more affordable than a lot of the other ergonomic hooks out there.  I have two-- sizes H and G, because those are the hook sizes I use most often, these days (except when I'm using thread).

One thing that could be improved is that the size is just printed on the handle in white.  It's easy enough to read right now, but it seems like it could possibly rub off over time.  Still, I have a plastic hook-sizer I can use, if that ever happens, and I think they're color coded, too.  (All size G are that same dark blue, for instance, while the size H is a medium blue.)

Another thing I can imagine some people not liking is that they have slight "seams" down the sizes.  They're not perfectly smooth all around, like some rubbery-handled hooks look to be.  The seams aren't a big deal to me, but for some it might be.

Also, be aware that they're Boye-style hooks, too, so they're probably not the best choice if you prefer in-line hooks.

My Michaels also has the Clover Soft Touch hooks, now, too.  Before, it was pretty much just plain aluminum hooks or nothing.  It's nice to see some variety available locally!  I'd like to try the Clover, too, but I'm not sure I can justify the purchase.  Maybe down the road...  How many hooks do I need, really?  (Many fewer than I already have, is the answer.)

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Sometime in the past month or two, I decided to dye some more yarn.

As an aside, if you haven't tried it before but are even remotely intrigued by the prospect, you should, because it's so much fun.  It's really simple, too.  You don't need many special supplies.  Start with a protein-based yarn.  Wool, alpaca, etc.-- and nylon works, too.  (As I understand it, anything plant-based, like cotton, linen, or bamboo, won't accept the food-coloring dyes I'm using, and acrylic is out, too-- but if you have a blended yarn that contains at least 20% or so of wool, you can dye it.  The colors might not be as deep or bright as with higher-percentage animal-fiber, but it can still be pretty.)  Other than the yarn, you just need heat, food dye, and acid.  You can get them in a few different ways.  Kool-Aid (and the cheaper versions) has both dye and acid in the pouch.  Liquid or gel food color (Wilton's, for example) can be paired with plain white vinegar or citric acid (which is a dry product used in canning).  You need a heat source-- either stove-top or microwave, usually, but some people even use crock-pots or the Power of the Sun (à la "sun tea").  Anyway, you can find detailed information out there in several places.  Just take my word for it that it's very easy and FUN.

So, where was I...?

I overdyed some yarn reclaimed from a couple of thrift store sweaters.  Kind of a "country aqua-blue" 100% wool and a coral pink rayon-wool-cashmere blend.

I overdyed just a small amount of the pink sweater, trying out the new Wilton's black.  It deepened the color considerably in spots.  An improvement, I think.

Overdyed Yarn

I'd made two hanks of the aqua, so I tried out a couple of different looks.

First, I tried the new Wilton's black-- which turned the aqua a very dark purple, of all colors!  I'm a little confused by that, but I think it's because the black broke-- and I didn't let it absorb the blue dye (because it was taking for-ev-er, and also because I kind of liked it as it was).  I was under the impression that this new black formula wouldn't be easy to break, but I'm pretty sure I still broke it, though it is definitely the new formula that uses Red 40 instead of Red 3.  (Note to self:  Next time, if you want grey, use less dye and mix it into pure water-- no acid.  Put the yarn in the pot, then add the acid very slowly in small increments.) 

With the other hank of aqua, I tried for more variegation.  Wilton's Royal Blue... then some Golden Yellow.  (I always seem to gravitate towards analogous blues, greens, and yellows when I dye.)

Overdyed Yarn

(I didn't capture or adjust the colors in that photo perfectly.  The original aqua has more of a "country blue"/grey cast to it.  This photo makes it look almost like a sky blue.  Also, the green ball has more variation in teal and green tones than you can see here.) 

I had a teeny-tiny amount of cream wool from a sweater, so I dyed that with Wilton's Teal... (No photo, but there's not much to see-- just a small skein that's half teal and half slightly-darker-teal.)

The main overdye project was the Uruguay Chunky I picked up in a thrift store last year.  It's a soft, squishy bulky-weight yarn-- 70% merino, 20% alpaca, 10% silk.  Three balls for just under $3 made it an irresistible deal, but the color-- camel/golden-beige-- just wasn't my favorite, so I decided to give it a makeover.  It got a few shots of Royal Blue, then later on, a tiny bit of leftover Golden Yellow, and maybe even a little leftover Teal-- but I can't recall for certain.  (Can you tell that I sort of fly by the seat of my pants when I dye yarn?  That's what makes it exciting!)

Here's a photo of the yarn before overdyeing (along with a small ball of some mystery wool):

Uruguay Chunky

And here are a couple of photos of the new dye-job, with the three balls joined into one giant, smooshy cake of wool-silk-alpaca love:

Overdyed Yarn

Overdyed Yarn

I love the results.  Those greens and blue-greens are some of my favorite colors.  Now, there are a few tiny spots in this ball that are colored a dark purply-blue.  They were an accident.  The result of bits of Royal Blue that didn't dissolve enough.  (That's something I still have trouble with... Guess I need to premix my dyes...?)  I haven't decided yet if I'm going to let them stay and be artistic touches or if I'll try to cut them out and... I don't know.  Do felted joins?  I'll see how I feel when they pop up in my knitting. 

The hardest part of dyeing is the waiting!  Waiting for the dye to exhaust and "set".  Waiting for the yarn to cool.  Then waiting and waiting for the yarn to dry completely so that you can finally either re-skein or wind it.  ...And then, if you're like me, you put it away and don't use it for a year or two.

Here's another one I dyed earlier in the year... or was it late last year?   The base was cream-colored "I Love This Wool".

Overdyed Yarn

Yellow isn't usually one of my favorite colors, on its own, but I was trying to do something out of my comfort-zone (colorwise), and I do like the results.  I'm not sure what I'll make with it...

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I've also been "doilying again".  I'm working on this while listening to an audiobook.  (Touch Not the Cat, by Mary Stewart.)

Latest Doily

Sorry-- no information about the pattern.  Found it online years ago.  (I wish there were more of a demand for doily patterns, these days.  I'd love to have a subscription to some version of the now discontinued Magic Crochet.)

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And now I shall photo-bomb you.  (Ok, so that's not what "photo-bomb" means.  It's a silly word, anyway, so it'll mean whatever I want it to mean. ;o))

This is how far I got on the Billowy Delight scarf before I set it aside just LEFT it there for months and months until it now cries itself to sleep every night because clearly I don't love it anymore.  (Boo hoo.)


It's not true, B.D.  You still have a place in my affections.  I've just been flirting with some other projects, but your time will come, eventually... (~whisper~ I'd love you more if you flowed off my needles a little more easily!  And didn't have such messy-looking tension issues...) 

Here we have some-- I repeat, some of the projects languishing around the house for want of a little finishing work.  This isn't even half of them.  Yes, I am ashamed.  And yes, I'll try to Do Better.  If I spent an hour or two a week on these things, I'd have them done in no time. 


Waiting for Finishing


Here's the Crochet Cacti in Progress.  I didn't get very far before setting it aside, as you can tell.  Thread-size amigurumi is tiring.  Hey, even worsted-size amigurumi is tiring!

Crochet Cacti in Progress


Look!  It's something I actually finished completely!  Rusty French.  It's a nice pattern for a quick market bag that's not plain mesh. I added the flowers, which aren't part of the pattern, and I like them, too, but I think they mostly get lost.  Well, they were fun to make.

Rusty French bag


...And I think I've changed my mind about the last few photos. They're just fairly boring photos of three more one-color squares for the Old-Fashioned Sampler.  (They're on my Flickr photostream, if anyone really cares to see them.)

That sampler has been put on the back-burner.  I kind of lost enthusiasm when Luna (our puppy) got into my project-specific basket of yarn again.  This time, she not only tangled the yarn (not as badly as the first time, but still!!) but also got the book (200 Crochet Blocks) and chewed up a good portion of the cover.  I was MAD.  (I couldn't believe she'd done it again, and I felt like either bursting into tears or punching a hole in the wall.  In the end, I didn't do either.  I may or may not have pitched something of a fit, though, because I'm so very mature and grown-up.  It's one of the luxuries of having no kids in the house.  You don't have to worry about setting a good example for anyone. (g) I think I shocked Donald a little, though.  He doesn't "do" emotional outbursts.  Lucky for him, he has me to keep life interesting. ;o))  I'm still none too happy about the whole thing, to tell the truth.  The yarn hasn't even completely been sorted out, because I just gathered it all up and put it away where I wouldn't have to look at it.  I was too aggravated to fix it up neatly again.  It was just so frustrating, because I'd put the yarn (and book) where I thought it would be out of her reach-- but obviously it wasn't.  (These days, she has to stay in her crate if we're going to be out of the house for that long.  She's too much of an escape artist.)

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Well, that does it for photos and updates.

Next up is finishing the doily-- and I mean really finishing it, with blocking and everything.  I'm not sure what my second priority will be...  There are so many options!