Archive for the ‘Crochet and Knitting’ Category

My first sock!

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Yesterday went by in a trance of sock-weight yarn. I finished my first sock ever, a little sockette, and was almost done with the other sock by the end of the day. It’s all i did, selecting “next episode” of the streaming Highlander over and over while Christine was at her mandolin lesson and at her tutoring. Too late, as Christine was just finishing up her warm up and tuning to leave, did i realize i could have gone with her to her lesson. At that point, i didn’t realize i was going to crochet all day.

My First Sock

I weighed my sockette and the remaining yarn and found i will get *almost* a pair out of the light fingering weight ball (230 yards/50 grams/1.76 ounces = 130 ypo). I have two skeins of this inherited yarn. I can stretch the self striping yarn if i do heels and toes out of some solid sock-weight yarn.

One of the lessons about yarn craft that surprised me is the design importance of the weight and behavior of the yarn itself. It’s obvious once you think about it, but the incredible variation in material still surprises me. Each step introduces a different behavior: the source fiber, the spinning, the plying. It drives me mildly nuts that there isn’t a very standardized yarn description. The fiber content is usually pretty clear. The weight of the yarn can be deduced, the ply is some times reported. There is a metric, wraps per inch, that would give the sense of bulk of the yarn, but that’s rarely reported. One could have a loosely spun and tightly spun yarn which has the same yardage per ounce.

Then there are often a knitters gauge reported (n stitches per some swatch size on some sort of needle) which is maddening: i don’t knit, and even if i did, stitch per inch can be so variable. I suppose this is an attempt to get at wpi — but why not just report wpi?

Why do i care? Well, i’d like to buy some heel and toe yarn, now that i’ve determined i can do this sock thing. Heel and toe yarn could be neutral, and the pretty pretty hand dyed sock yarns make the visible bits. So i begin shopping: it turns out the yarn i have is a little lighter than your average sock weight (130 yards per oz compared to 106 yards per oz). EBay has destashed sock yarn available: what’s a fair price?

Well, first i have to find what i’d be likely to buy at retail. It seems Knit Picks carries a light fingering weight at roughly $2 per oz in a good blend.

A regular sockweight yarn, undyed, at Dharma would be $2.43/oz.

I’m tempted by a silk noil sock yarn at Dharma because i could dye it myself with the fiber reactive dyes i like. It would be unsuitable, i believe, for heels and toes. Noil is a short fiber, and i suspect it would wear poorly on the heels.

I did read about a luxury sock yarn Lang Jawoll, that comes with “a bonus spool of matching reinforcement yarn to carry along when knitting the toes & heels, the parts that get the most wear.” I wonder about adding plain nylon threads to carry along in toes and heels. It seems like a straightforward solution.

What i’d like to figure out is how to cover the bottom of the sock with something like hemp to make slippers with a rugged base but soft and pretty top. I suppose i could just sew a hemp sole to a sock. The silk noil yarn could make the top and foot facing sole. And there’s the fun of uppers for the mohops (although i’ve bought silk ribbon from Dharma with the intention of using that for mohop uppers.

The story of the fingerless gloves

Saturday, March 27th, 2010
Fingerless Gloves for Christine

Once upon at time, about January 12 2009, i had found a fingerless glove pattern CrochetMe via Ravelry [Membership req]. Purple Mitts I had a number of lovely purple yarns in my stash from when i was keeping good track and i chose the smooth, gently variegated bamboo. The gloves worked up in just a few days. I remember how exciting it was to see them take shape under my hook. The first one i did according to the pattern, adjusting due to the difference in gauge: it was symmetric and would fit either hand. The second i tried shaping some so that the palm side was a little tighter than the knuckle side. They weren’t symmetric, but they were mine! And in a wonderful color! And really, lovely.

With the bamboo yarn remaining and the Bernat Boa in purple (“Parrot”) from the trim, so i made a little capelet.Crochet
I used the Shoulder Snuggle by Lion Brand Yarn [Membership Req] pattern on Ravelry [Membership req] as a guide, skipping stitches in the motif, trusting the eyelash of the novelty yarn to fill in. Then i trimmed out the cape with fun motifs in the bamboo — and this was all flying off my hook, zip, zap, here’s a lovely fun set to keep the chill off. I was done sometime in early February

We don’t need protection from cold that often in our home in California, but there can be a chill in the winter, a draft off the windows above my desk and the office 65° F or a little cooler. Christine liked the gloveletts, so we went and picked out a lovely blue yarn for her, and i had beads that went well with the yarn. I started on a beaded pair for her, a pair that would have a distinct back and front. (The beads went on with a backwards stitch so they would face me, one bead per row.)

All this in about a month, and then i left for a trip in Oregon. I pinned a silver pin of a horse to the back of one of my gloves, the easier to see it and use it as a meditation focus. And thend i went for a hike up a hill in the verdant rainforest. I slipped at one point, getting pants and gloves muddy, and i tucked the gloves in my back pocket. When we reached the camp, the gloves were gone, somewhere up the hill.

I was very disappointed.

I kept working on Christine’s gloves, but i slowed down. I finished my hassock cosy. I got distracted by dyes, by my Mohop shoe uppers. I still worked on the gloves. I’d work on them on flights and find i’d made the glove too tight or too loose for Christine. Rip and repeat. Between the right and the left i forgot what hook i was using, so the gauge is different glove to glove. I’d take them to craft and game night and forget to do a bead on a row and have to rip out and redo. I found i split for the thumb too early, and one is slightly shorter than the other. I finally finished them last night. They’re unique and not half bad.

The most important lesson i’ve learned is that the beading on the back should wrap around to the palm side opposite the thumb — the area for the palm is smaller than the area needed for the back. Other than that, though, Christine seems delighted.

Maybe i’ve put my grief of the purple gloves (done in two days!) behind me, and i can make myself a pair again.

Bamboo Yarn Notes: Y8: Bamboo, Purple/Lavender, 100 grams, 250 yards, $13.50 USD $61.29/lb 1135 yds/lb

Experimental Swift and Rake

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

While i have convinced myself that the half ounce of alpaca (tightly wound into a classic cat toy ball) is all i need to make my current project, the question of swifts and ball winders has stayed with me.

On Sunday i stopped at the hardware store to pick up Escutcheon pins ($1.79 for 1.5 oz). These were sharp enough to insert into a bit of balsa wood by hand at quarter inch intervals. I experimented with an e-wrap cast-on using #10 crochet thread. I now have an experiential understanding of the warnings about tension: getting the tension loose enough that one can move all the loops is a challenge when using thread. I’ll try some light yarn next. (If any alpaca is left over, that might be suitably springy, too.)

While at the hardware store, the issue of the swift and my more concrete need for an efficient way to create skeins for dyeing was in mind. It turns out that one can buy the ball bearing case for a lazy susan. I have the Shepherd Hardware Products Lazy Susan [product 9547 4" diameter, 100 mm ball bearings, 300 lb load, $4.49].

To make a swift (which turns as one pulls the yarn off) i just need four of the 6-32×2″ machine screws (I’d have called it a bolt), but a fifth for the center will allow me to install a crank (rigged out of a sixth bolt). (15 bolts: $2.04; 3 sets of six nits at $0.54 each.) The cross bars for the first draft of the swift are yardsticks ($0.99 each). The wood is soft enough that i was able to make the bolt holes with an awl. This is a sign that the yardsticks may not be durable. However, it remains to be seen if they are good enough for casual work.

My plan is to make four “C” shaped hooks from two wire hangers, and then use binder clips to hold those to the yardsticks. Figuring out the circumference of skeins should be a pleasant bit of geometry.

This leaves the challenge of *mounting* the lazy susan base. At the moment, it’s duct taped on two corners to a microphone stand. This is probably less durable than the yardsticks. I want to see if a standard broom handle fits in the mike holder: if so, wood screws into the mike holder and the mike holder on the stand might be satisfactory (although the mike holders were probably not designed to hold something undergoing torque.

While in the hardware store i bought two 2″ spring clamps ($2.99). I imagined extending the lazy susan base and clamping that to a table or chair back, but once home the thought of duct taping the thing to a five gallon cubic water bottle came to mind: for safety’s sake we should have water bottles around at all times, and the temporary solution is all i need. I suspect that people with wall space and workshops could mount the thing onto walls or tables for a permanent solution. Christine just happens to have two mike stands on which i stub my toe occasionally. The audio recording job she got them for never repeated, so she’ll let me use one. (Who knows, that might just be enough for someone to enquire after her recording skills again.)

I’m just left with the challenge of making a crank. The balsa i have was too fragile and did not survive the awl-piercing. A third hanger might provide another rigged solution. The next step, when i next have time, is to experiment with a mike-stand mount.

2000 yards of lace weight alpaca: advice welcomed

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

I have over two thousand yards (8 oz) of laceweight alpaca in a large skein. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Also, oh my heavens, it is softer than an angel’s kiss. I just hugged it for a while until i started panicking about how tangled it was going to get.

I spent some time (over thirty minutes on the phone, plus) winding it into a 0.5 oz ball — and then discovered my tight wind was bad for the yarn. That bit of yarn is probably OK for the time being — that’s all i’ll need, i suspect, to make alpaca angels. But what about the rest? Apparently $100 is the average price for a swift and a ball winder. Maybe i want the swift? Would that do the same thing my careful winding around my sewing board does to make skeins for dyeing? Ah, apparently i should have a niddy noddy for that. I almost think i could construct my own niddy noddy.

$40 + $25 for wooden swift and plastic winder

This is apparently a Good Deal. Suddenly the 2000 yards of alpaca got more expensive. On the other hand, dying yarn takes skeins, and skein management is time consuming.

Also, the tiny angel ornament i began crocheting lets me know that this is not as easy to crochet as crochet thread.

I am fantasizing about making a crochet and loom knit kimono-like jacket out of it. (See this design, but not a long kimono as diagrammed but hip length.) Not much shaping. I suspect i’ll be using this yarn in about ten years when my skill begins to reach the yarn.

Oh, and if i did that, the yarn could be dyed in multiple colors: first creating a long strip, weighing it, calculating numbers of strips to make the kimono panels…. (more…)

Yuletide Experiment, to dye for

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

We’re planning on giving Heifer International’s gift of a llama to our family this year. I’d like to make something, too, and had been thinking about finally getting back to my dying projects and making up some shibori handkerchiefs for friends and family. Dharma Trading Company also has alpaca yarn: #YARN24 Alpaca Lace: 100% superfine alpaca, ~8 oz., 2,480 yds

I haven’t used my fire red dye yet. Hmmm. On the other hand, this angel pattern [Ravelry] is perfect for white yarn. But then there will be over a thousand yards left, surely.

Iowa weaver’s notes about dying wool with procion dyes got my attention. She links to this PDF instruction sheet, skipping the same mysterious special wool ingredient, using vinegar as i would. Dharma’s method is altogether different.

I also think i could stand to experiment with the silk ribbon and the mohops. Perhaps it will be a mistake, but i’m going to give the bias cut ribbon a try first. (Will it pull apart under the tension?)

Links to shibori sites after the cut. (more…)

Dyeing crochet thread: a plan

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

My general plan for dying samples of each yarn is to explore the variations of two different “prep” methods and graduated variation in dye bath time. (I’m curious about going in dry — i may make some swatches to test that, too.) My hope is that not only will i have a good guide to getting the effects i wish, but also a collection of graduated yarns with which i can make an interesting object. The size of the samples will vary: one size that is long enough for making motifs up, another that is just swatch size. Most skeins/samples will be in groups of six, to measure the effect of dye times over ten minute intervals for a maximum of one hour.

Once “note” for this test is that i am using pre blended colors: i understand from my reading that the components of the colors can have different uptakes with time. If there is a fast reacting color (say red) and a slow reacting color (say blue), the first item in may pull a larger ratio of the faster reacting dye out of the dyebath than later elements. It’s possible i’ll see color shifts as well as gradations.

I’ve been working on this post in draft mode, but now that i’ve ordered the dye, i’ll post & keep updating as i prepare the skeins & swatches.


Crochet Pattern for Solomon’s Knot

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Crochet Pattern for Solomon’s Knot

Originally uploaded by Elaine with Grey Cats.

This weekend i decided that i was done with this experiment. While waiting for the Office 2008 12.1.9 update to download, i found the scans of all my Solomon’s Knot work and this pattern to post and release.

The pattern is now sort of tested. I have a PDF and will send if requested.

Skein Diameter: Help!

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Is there a standard understanding of what diameter means with respect to skeining yarn? I would assume that it means the length of the skein, the long dimension of the ovoid shape. It’s just that as i read the instructions and look at the pictures in Linda La Belle’s The Yarn Lover’s Guide to Hand Dyeing it seems that the pictures show skeins that seem like they must be different than deduced from that definition.

For example, reviewing the “faux ikat dyeing” technique, a total of 140 yards is to be skeined into a 10 yd diameter skein. My interpretation of diameter would then mean that a circuit was 20 yards, so the 140 yards would make seven circuits. The illustration shows more than seven strands in the circuit, though, and the resists applied more closely than the two per yard calculated from the 40 to the skein would produce if the skein is 20 yds in circumference.

Also, must find what a larks head knot is. It’s part of the instructions but never described.

September Crochet Bouquet: Mumsy Crochet Along!

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Mumsey: September Flower from Crochet Bouquet

I’ve made my attempt at the Mumsey flower, only getting the first center part done before running out of the yarn.

The yarn was from a crewel-work stash — and cruelly short. Eventually i gave up on carefully attaching new lengths and i just tied on new strands. Good practice for the petals, but not very attractive in the end.

Looking at the calendar, i think i’ll wait and give the October flower (or leaves!) a go, and wait to use this technique when i’ve got an end use for it. Learning the petal stitches, though, was good practice for free form work!

My first mumsyMy first mumsy

Crochet Bouquet Notes

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Mom's BDay washcloth

I bought this and another book (Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs) on a whim, with the recognition that crochet is sometimes about play for me, and i wanted a little more play. The washcloth for my mom was essentially play, and leads me to believe i can “wing it,” but i think i still need more lessons in how to assemble the stitches. These two books looked like they would help me fill in with Kooler’s Encyclopedia.

First Flower from Crochet Bouquet

My first assemblage is from the delicate pom-pom center, four petal arches, and four trillium leaves.
The trillium leaves were a bit of a challenge, and i ended up having to make my own chart. But, now that i have many symbols in NoeOffice’s Draw, i can do this for the troubling yolk in Everyday Crochet and so on.

References for the book: