Monday, September 24, 2012

FO - a's Sweater

Amazing how fast boys grown once they hit a certain age.

This was made in that yarn that I won't be buying any more of.

It was a test knit and knit at a far tighter gauge than I'm used to working in. Figure it'll never wear out as tightly as it was knit.  This is a size 8 for boys... but honestly? The sleeves before joining to work in the round had to be 15" - so it's not much smaller than an Adult female sweaters I make for myself. Add the extra tight gauge and it easily had almost as many stitches as an adult sweater.

I'm probably going to be a little more cautious before signing up for more test knitting. Maybe ask some questions... it was good to try test knitting, and I wouldn't mind trying it again - but this sweater is almost stiff it's so tightly knit. Yet, in order to properly test, you knit to the gauge specified.

But, then again, it should be really warm, right?  So, all good in the end.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pre-planning for October

I've been wanting to make a sweater similar to the Chromatic Sweater by KnitPicks.

Problem is that I'm allergic to wool, so I need to find a cotton or acrylic alternative.

Second problem is that I need to watch my budget and can't afford to spend a fortune on the yarn.

Third problem is that finding yarn dyed on a gradient, in non-wool, is not something that is easily found, let alone affordable.

I've decided to try to buy plain yarn and dye it myself.

Second issue is finding 100% cotton yarn in Fingering weight without spending a fortune for it. I needed about 400-ish yards dyed in a gradient and over 1000 yards dyed in a dark contrast base color at the same weight.

I found several options that would cost over $120 for the sweater, and still required me going through the dyeing process. That's more than I want to spend on yarn I can dye (and mess up). I couldn't find any gradient dyed yarn options at all, not even out of my price-range yarn. The exception was Wolle's Yarn - which I have used before. This is "ok" and definitely gives gradient, gradual color changes. However, it is basically 8 strings strung together (not plied nor spun together) and the color changes are implemented by knots placed periodically to change one string color at a time. I don't like the knots and the strings are difficult to work with. I wanted something else for this sweater.

I was online complaining about my budget issues and someone pointed me towards 'carpet warp'. I found 800 yard cones of 100% cotton in fingering weight (8/4 carpet warp) for under $8 a cone. I bought one cone in white for dyeing and 2 cones in a vibrant medium blue for the main color. Under $30 for the sweater and I should end up with almost 1000 yards left over which would be enough for a second sweater. I have no idea how 'soft' this cotton will be (or won't be) but it's cotton. If it's not soft from the cone, it probably will be fine with washing.

Next step is to buy the dye and another dyeing bowl (I only have three right now for dyeing). Cotton dyeing requires an acid dye which is NOT foodsafe. My bowls I use for dyeing are set aside and not used for cooking. I buy inexpensive pitchers from Dollar General for $1 each. I figure if it doesn't work out and I don't want to store them any longer - they are simple enough to toss out.  I do most of the pre-dyeing soaking in vinegar (which is obviously food safe) in a wash tub that I also use for cleaning.

I have FOUR main colors I want to dye out of the 400 yards I plan on dyeing - Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue.

Divide the yarn into the following sections should give me the gradient look I need for the sweater:

A) 70 yards which will be the darkest of the red - dyed in the red pot
B) 40 yards which will be the next lighter shade - which will spend half the dyeing time in an orange pot, and before the time is up get moved to the red pot to get a blended color.
C) 70 yards in the orange pot, that will stay in the orange pot for the whole dyeing period
D) 40 yards which will be the next lighter shade - which will spend half the dyeing time in a yellow pot, and before the time is up, get moved to the orange pot to get a blended color
E) 70 yards which will be the lightest shade - and in the yellow pot for the entire dyeing period
F) 40 yards which will start in the yellow pot and get moved halfway through the dyeing process to the light blue pot for a greenish (I hope) gradient between the yellow and blue
G) 70 yards which will stay in the light blue pot the entire dyeing time

70 + 40 + 70 + 40 + 70 + 40 + 70 = 400 yards. I'll probably add a few extra yards as I spool the yarn into each of those sections so I end up with more than 400 yards (because more is better than less when it comes to one-time custom dyed yarn. I don't want to run out.

I'll post pics when I have the dyeing day which will probably be the first weekend in October if things go as planned.  With any luck, I'll be able to pick up the dyes and vinegar for under $20 which combined with the cost of the yarn and shipping is still under 50% of the cost of custom-dyed yarn (if I could even find it).

Monday, September 17, 2012

September mid-month Progress Post

Finished Items:

First up - the planned washcloth (intended for a future exchange).

This was an unusual pattern (Rav link) that I really fell in love with while knitting. I didn't understand what it was supposed to do and it didn't make any sense to me. It's intended for two color - but since I couldn't 'get it' from reading the pattern - I ended up using a single color. I followed the pattern exactly and once I got to a certain point it finally clicked. I will be making more of these, though the next ones will probably have a solid color for the 'front' and a variegated color for the 'back'. There's a lot of density in this and it'll make a great washcloth. I'm thinking I'd love to make a blanket covered in these squares some day.

Second up - the planned hat (one of the two - probably won't have time for the second one):

Basic Brioche in-the-round; like so many other of my charity hats. I'm having the pattern tested now and will probably release this pattern in a month or two.

Third item? - I won a door prize on September 7th, for a Kindle Fire (which is cooler than cool even if it wasn't HD - which got released on the 7th - lol - nothing like technology getting updated faster than you can buy it).  Fast-track inspiration; and it got a case by the 9th. This was orginally going to be made into a pencil case, but you can see - it works far better as a Kindle case.

Fourth item? Again, another inspiration-struck-had-to-have.... a simple Rose bookmark:

On the needles:

First sweater started this month - set aside for a short bit so I could catch up on a couple of other projects was a sweater I'm test-knitting for my son to wear.

I've got about six more inches to go on the sleeves before joining them to the body and working the yoke. I've been carrying the sleeves around with me and got a couple of hours done on them during a Footie game this weekend. Hope to get more done this weekend and maybe even get the whole thing finished, shortly.  It takes a couple of buttons at an angle near the neckline - so I need to get hopping in double-checking I have buttons that will work with this.

Second sweater started this month - set aside once I got to the work even for x number of rows/inches.... it was my first ever top-down, contiguous sleeve construction. The pattern: Ambiente (Rav link) is extremely well written, and I would strongly recommend trying it for a first contiguous sleeve project. I had no trouble at all following it and am pretty pleased with the results. I'm hoping to pick up on this as soon as I finish my son's sweater - yet this month barring any unexpected complications.

Third sweater started this month (but this is going to be one of those takes-a-bit sweaters). I'm planning on this one not getting finished until November.

You remember this shiny, amazing yarn?

Well, it's turning into this (though the color is a little washed out in this photo):

I'm adjusting the pattern to working top-down, contiguous sleeved... and so far, I'm really loving it. I'm about ten rows away from dividing off the sleeve stitches; once I do that, I'll probably set it aside a little while so I can get back to the other two sweaters OTN.

Not started yet:
  • AND a 12" Blanket square - pattern TBD

Not going to get started this month - the second hat... I'll have plenty of time next month for making more hats... so this is going to get sidelined in favor of the other projects I picked up and making sweaters.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A side Political note - I am boycotting Hobby Lobby

I usually try to stick to knitting with my posts. What I'm doing, what I'm making, what I'd like to make.

At least 75% of my projects use my favorite yarn - Hobby Lobby, I Love This Yarn.

But I am now boycotting Hobby Lobby.  They are filing a lawsuit in pursuit of not having to pay for contraceptives for their employee's medical plans.

I understand that they are basing this action on their belief that this is against their religious beliefs.

I struggle with that, because in my understanding of how religious beliefs work - that you can chose how you and your family behaves (barring things like human sacrifice, etc). Within a church, you can chose to ban members that don't follow your religious doctrine. That is within your religious right.

I don't believe that you have the right to chose which medical coverage your employees have the right to.

I understand that you are against abortion, and that some contraceptives, like an IUD which prevents a fertilized egg from being implanted might fall into that definition for some people. And I can understand that it would be extremely upsetting to you to have to pay for something that you don't believe is appropriate.

I also remember that once upon a time there were MANY people very angry when they could no longer own slaves in this country.

I remember not that long ago, that there were MANY people angry that they had to provide equal rights to African Americans.

For some women, birth control is a medical necessity. Probably less than 10% admittedly, but it's a reality. Another 70-80% of women within child bearing ages are (or have been) at one point on birth control out of choice. Choice is still a legal right for them.

I realize that you aren't fighting their right to chose to take birth control, you just don't want to pay for it.

But here's the rub. If I were an employer, and I didn't like it that my employees smoked. I still have to pay their insurance coverage for lung cancer treatment. If an employee who was struggling with money and can't afford to raise a child, let alone pay for birth control -- that is the VERY target audience the law is trying to cover. They can't afford the birth control, even if they want it. So what do they do? They end up having abortions or having children that they can't afford to feed and cloth. So they end up on medicaid.

I'm sorry... but the religious right are so adamant that their 'religious freedom' be placed above common sense. Contraception reduces abortion rates. You may not like abortions, but not all of the contraceptives they are fighting on causes abortions. When it comes down to it, there is no illegal abortions being performed by any of the birth control options that are covered in law.

I find it hypocritical that Hobby Lobby buys as much product as it does from China while fighting against birth control options for it's employees.

I easily spend hundreds, if not close to a thousand dollars a year on yarn at Hobby Lobby. I take samples of yarn and show it to all my knitting students (I teach an average of 100 new knitters a year). I talk pros and cons about the yarn and have been extolling the virtues of a low-cost acrylic that is as nice as their yarn.

But that won't be happening any longer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September Planning

So much to do, so little time.

First up, a big project that I don't expect to finish until November.

Velvet Morning Cardigan - Rav Link

Made with custom-dyed yarn from Yarntopia Treasures with the base yarn from Knit Picks - Shine Worsted.

Stunning yarn. Shiny, lucsious and the color? just goregous.

Next the smaller (hahah) projects that I hope to finish this month.

  • First up - a Striped Raglan sweater for my son - a test knit on Ravelry (so no pattern link). I'm using my favorite worsted acrylic - Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn... and it's coming along quickly.
  • Second up - a short-sleeved sweater for myself - Ambiente - Rav Link made in a similar green to the pattern photos from Spa.
  • Of course, there will be charity hats - hoping for two of them (minimum) - one of which will be my final item for my TKGA Master Knitters submission.
  • I'm also planning a washcloth and/or scrubbie for an exchange.
  • AND a Tardis pencil case.
  • AND a 12" Blanket square - pattern TBD
I will feel more confident about this list once I get the first sweater finished and the second one started... and once I get one or two of the smaller items knocked out.

August End-of-month progress post

All I had left to work on was my sweater. Which was technically finished on September 1st... but I figured you'd let me post the picture of it completed in this post.

I love the cables:

But the over-all look is a little 'messy' (sigh). But not bad for a wing-it-and-see pattern. Fit is perfect.