Thursday, 25 April 2013

Happa Hat FO

My trip to Unravel Fiber Festival earlier this year was very fruitful ... I came away from it with lots of goodies ... Well, it would have been rude not to!

One of these purchases was 100g of merino fiber from Skeins in the Pale Jungle colourway.

I was itching to spin it up and so this happened >>>

This was such an enjoyable spin, as these are some of my very favourite colours, plus of course being 100% merino ... Yum!

It all fit onto one bobbin, so I wound the singles on to a yarn winder to create a center-pull-ball.

And after the plying, I had a lovely squashy 2-ply yarn ready and waiting to be used.

I began looking through Ravelry or a suitable pattern for the correct yarn weight and meterage. I kept on thinking that I wanted to make a cowl, but then I asked for the advice of my Instagram friends, who instantly suggested that a hat would work well.

And so the 1 of 6 Hat KAL was born.

With very short notice, as this was all so spur of the moment, I simply couldn't wait any longer and cast on the Happa Hat within days of organising the KAL. There was no urgency or rush for others to follow suit, and they participated when they had the yarn and tools to hand.

And there it is ... the beginnings of my hat. I had learnt a new stitch too (I love an educational knit) ... the twisted 1x1 rib stitch, which I couldn't quite work out at first because I thought that my hat looked way too small for an adult head, but once I was further into the pattern I discovered (with great relief) that this rib stitch is uber-stretchy.

And on to the lace pattern, which is always so thrilling to see as it starts to take form. I just love the leaves effect of this design.

Being worsted weight yarn, it knitted up nice and quickly. In between a busy lifestyle it took a few evenings over the course of about two weeks to complete.

There's nothing quite like knitting with your very own handspun yarn. Truly satisfying to the MAX.

And here it is ... with some daytime FO photos :)

And a cheeky selfie of one happy spinner/knitter ...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Crochet Squares 4 Charity

I was recently alerted to the presence of a wonderful charity and of an amazing way for yarn crafters to do their bit and help a good cause.

Zoe Horsefield of THETEDDYBEARSHOP on Instagram put a call out on her IG feed for any knitters and crocheters to see who could help a charity close to her heart.

The charity is GRWE or Greyhound Rescue West of England and they do a fabulous and much needed job rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abused and abandoned Greyhounds and Lurchers.

As the owner of a lurcher myself, this is a charity that immediately pulls at my heart strings. I love all dogs but absolutely adore all of the Sight Hound breeds whose gentle, sensitive and kind nature make living without one of these special animals unthinkable. The fact that these beautiful creatures are being rescued from abusive, debilitating (and worse) situations breaks my heart.

I immediately felt like I wanted to be involved in any way that I could.

Zoe is looking for people to either knit or crochet 4x4" squares in DK (or similar) yarn and send them to her so she can join them together to make blankets for the dogs. Anyone with a knowledge of these somewhat skinny creatures will know that they feel the cold very easily and like nothing more than a snuggle with their owner or being wrapped up in a cosy blanket. The blankets will go toward helping these dogs feel warm, cosy and at home whilst they are being treated for any ailment caused by cruelty or abandonment, and to help them feel warm and loved. These blankets will then stay with each respective dog so that when they are rehomed they will have something that is special and smells familiar to them.

Fortunately the response to Zoe's call out has been good so far, so much so that she has started a blog. You can follow all the efforts of those involved HERE.

If this blog post speaks to you, and you would like to help, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Zoe at the following email address:

Here are my additions to the squares collaboration (several of the one pictured below), crocheted in handspun yarn:

Nice and bright and cheerful.

I will hunting around for more yarn scraps so I can add to the collection.

Maybe you have some odds and ends that could be put to good use for the GRWE charity?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Daybreak Shawl FO

It's only taken me six months to be able to say this, but ... I've finished my Daybreak Shawl ... Yay :)

I had a serious case of inertia with this project, and had to put it down on several occasions, but I did really enjoy this knit and am thrilled with the result ... I just got a little distracted with other projects along the way.

It all started with the idea to do a knit-along with some Instagram buddies.

I had been admiring this pattern on Ravelry for quite some time, and felt like I was ready to tackle it.

Being Autumn when I started the project, I decided on a sympathetic colourway with Ochre (a mustardy-yellow) and Cordovan (a rich dark chocolate) Malabrigo Sock Yarn.

And so I cast on ...

As with all shawls, I do love how the first handful of rows knit up really quickly, and then with frequent increases, they begin to lengthen ... especially with sock weight yarn. And so with this pattern I eagerly looked forward to being able to add my second colour.

It was really exciting to begin the stripes as I could then see the pattern start to take shape.

I became side-tracked quite a bit by other faster projects with bigger needles and chunkier yarn. Inertia sometimes happens when I'm faced with a project that doesn't grow quite quickly enough.

Picking it up and putting it back down again over the next few months, I made one last concerted effort to finish and gave myself a stint of a good few nights in a row ... and here it is, freshly off the needles and awaiting its first bath ...

And on to some VERY satisfying blocking ...

And then the utterly gratifying first trying on session, where all the blood sweat and tears were forgotten (okay, okay, I'm exaggerating a bit now).

And I must say I'm over the moon with my new hand-knitted shawl. It is a beautiful and striking pattern and I'm really pleased with my yarn and colour choice. I missed the boat to make the shawl in time for Autumn 2012, but will be wearing it with pride when the colder weather returns in September 2013.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dyeing to Have a Go!

I've been stalking various dyeing forums, YouTube and other websites for some time and have been gradually building up a theoretical knowledgebase. Procrastination is an issue of mine, but I recently decided to throw caution to the wind and get stuck in.

I was food shopping and in the baking isle when I spotted Dr. Oetker Gel Food Colourings in small tubes. The colours looked gorgeous so I just had to throw a few in the basket. At this point I was really in a state of pure experimentation (or madness) because not one of the websites I'd studied on this subject had ever shown results from using this brand, but I thought it would be fun to see what would happen.

I had some Citric Acid powder in my cupboards at home, left over from my last batch of Elderflower Cordial, and I found about 450-500g of cheap 56's English (which is a blend of white English sheep fleeces) fiber in my stash, so I had all I needed.

One cold and rainy Sunday I set my mind to giving kettle dyeing a go.

I got out my largest pan and ran some luke-warm water, to which I added citric acid, stirred to allow it to dissolve, and then I carefully placed about 150g of fiber in to soak for half and hour.

Then I switched the hob on to a moderate heat to warm the fiber up gently. When it was gently steaming without boiling, I began to add my colour.

I'd already prepared the colour by adding the contents of one tube of gel colouring to a jam jar filled with hot water. I had four in total ... green, blue, pink and purple.

With turkey baster in hand, I excitedly began to add the colour to the roving. Not really knowing the best way to proceed with this, I decided that I would do four equal sections of colour to try to prevent a muddy mess.

I used the tip of the baster to inject colour through the top layers of fiber to try to ensure an even distribution of dye, and then the waiting began.

Keeping an eye on the water temperature was not a chore at all. I just loved looking at the beautiful bright colours in the pan.

However, after about an hour on the hob (which was already longer than I had envisioned it taking), I was discouraged to see that the dye bath had not yet run clear. It appeared that it was the green dye that was at fault here, as the water had mostly run clear for all the other sections, but was a strong yellow colour around the green.

I quickly put word out to my dyeing friends on Instagram to see if anyone could tell me what I needed to do next.

One kind IG friend quickly responded saying that they add more fiber when this happens, in an attempt to soak up any excess dye. As I had plenty of fiber left, I thought it was worth a go. I took about 50g of fiber and added it to the dye bath, on top of the green section. I was delighted to see that it instantly turned a beautiful mellow yellow colour.

And within a short space of time, the dye bath was running much clearer.

Conscious that by this time the first lot of fiber had been in the pan for quite some time, and with a real concern that it might have felted, I moved it away from the hob to let it cool down.

An agonising wait ensued ... which was only allayed by the fact that it was lunch time for me and my toddler, which kept my mind off things for a while.

A short while after lunch the water was touch-comfortable and I simply couldn't wait any longer. In to the sink it went. The water coming away from the fiber was initially a very pale yellow. Here is a picture of the roving before rinsing.

The rinsing process proved to be disappointing. I watched with dismay as most of the pink and purple fell out of the fiber and went off down the plug hole.

I was delighted to see that the blue and green remained true. The green had also split to reveal shades of green, teal and yellow.

It took quite a few rinses before the water ran clear, and I was a little concerned to keep going for fear of the pinks and purples coming away completely, so with a gentle roll inside an old towel I took it to the clothes drier.

I was also really pleased with the 50g of fiber that I had used to pick up any excess dye, which was a beautiful blend of pale pastel shades.

Having been bitten by the bug in a BIG way, I looked at my left over undyed roving and citric acid and my mind wandered.

Yes I thought, I'm going back to the shops for more dye! Having fallen in love with the green dye I decided to use the remaining supplies I had left to do a plain green roving. With time against me, I decided to let the fiber soak whilst I went to the shops so I would be ready to get straight into dyeing upon my return.

This time I had about 250-300g of fiber which was a bit of a tight squeeze in the pan, but I wound it into a spiral and placed it into the citric acid water.

After a trip to the shops I had two tubes of the green dye in hand and was all set to go.

Again I was just in awe of the divine green colour of the fiber in the pan. A beautiful range of greens and yellows.

After about an hour on the hob, I decided that was enough time, even though there was still some excess yellow in the surrounding water.

After the cooling, to the sink it went and to my surprise this fiber had a completely different effect than the first lot. It was dyed dark teal/green in small sections with the rest of the roving being a yellowy-green colour. I certainly wasn't disappointed. I loved how something in the way I hadn't been so accurate with my fiber to water to citric acid ratio, and even my inexact timings had resulted in this unexpected colourway.

The following morning, the fiber was dry and I was so proud to be able to braid up my first ever hand-dyed rovings.

Unfortunately the first lot that I dyed was slightly felted, as I'd suspected. I think it had been on the hob a little too long, and I may have agitated it a little too much checking to see if the water had run clear. However, after some slightly challenging pre-drafting I checked that it was still useable, and created this mini yarn.

So all in all, not a bad first attempt. The main thing is that I thoroughly enjoyed myself and can hand on heart say that this is something I'll do again.

I really want to try all the methods to see which I prefer, so I'll probably use the microwave next time, and I may well try to dye ready made yarn, which I envision as being slightly less prone to felting. I also want to try Kool Aid dyeing as I'm looking forward to the range of beautiful bright colours, as well as filling the house with delicious fruit smells.

It really is exciting to try something new at the same time playing with one of my favourite things ... WOOL :)