Monday, February 27, 2006

Turtle Knit-Along

Did you try your best to finish your Knitting Olympics project, but not manage it in time?

Are you still committed to proudly crossing the finish line, even without the lure of the gold medal?

That, my friend, is the true Olympic Spirit!

Join me for Mafia's Turtle Knit-Along:

Relay Gold, Individual Disappointment

Well, the Knitting Olympics are over. And what a big 2+ weeks it has been, including:

- a week-long illness
- not one but TWO birthday parties (for me)
- a road trip
- a train trip
- a belly dance performance
- some serious sister time
- a job offer
- transition plans related to said job offer
- the "launch" of my knitting website, Yarngineering

and of course, a whole lot of knitting.

The MIT Relay Team was a smashing success:

(modelled here by our Anchor Danielle)

But, alas, Zig-Zag isn't finished. I'm done with the body and 90% of the first sleeve. I'm disappointed that I didn't finish, but I feel really good about the way I did it. I chose something that was a real challenge and strove for the gold, but I didn't sacrifice my standards. I ripped out 4" of the front chest, and dropped 2-4 stitches 20+ rows to fix cable mistakes FOUR TIMES. I didn't finish in time for a medal, but I did do something wonderful and without sacrifice. And I'm not done yet! The medals may already have been awarded, but I'm going to keep going until I cross the finish line too.

And yes, there will be pictures.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Olympic Update, New Web Site!

Well, I've finished the body and about 4" of sleeve one, and I'm pretty worried. I was sick all last week, and while I spent three whole days at home, I slept most of that time, so I actually got LESS knitting done than if I had been well and going to work.

The sleeves are going very slowly. My bamboo double-points are way too sharp for this yarn, so I switched to the 2-circulars method with my Denises, which was a little too laddery, so I switched to a three-circulars method with my denises (I bought an extra pair of size 6 tips a few weeks ago!), which is much better but SLOW. I'm going to Windsor Button this afternoon to see if I can pick up a blunter pair of dpns.

With only a couple of days to go, I'm nervous, but, in the true Olympic spirit, I'm not going to give up. I have a 5-hour train ride tonight, so hopefully I can make up some of the gap.

In other news, I picked out a design name and registered its domain. Yarngineering is born! At the moment, I've only got a placeholder page that points here and to my steamed bun pattern, but I'll add more content there in the not-too-distant future.

And now, for something completely unrelated, I give you the Best Lunch Ever: veggies and dip with a side of crabmeat, and followed by two perfect strawberries. Yum Yum Yum. And I got everything from the supermarket salad bar, except for the crabmeat which came in a nice little ready-to-eat packet. The crab would have been even tastier with a little lemon and dill, but it was great plain.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ball 4

I have no time to blog today, but I finished the fourth ball of Merino Style for ZigZag. I'm getting pretty close to done with the body section.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Day 3's progress

As of bedtime on Sunday night (technically Monday morning), I've got 10 or 11 inches of ZigZag done. I took a picture after finishing Ball 3, and then forgot to upload it, so you'll have to wait until tonight for pictures. The 10-11" also includes a fair bit of Ball 4.

I've had a bit of wrist strain in two days of solid knitting (including extremely frequent cabling without a cable needle), but I've got a better sense now of when to stop and rest, and when I can pick it back up again.

This isn't going to be easy (particularly considering my upcoming commitments), but I think I can do this.


Last night's work

Sunday, February 12, 2006

First 36 hours

Here's what I managed so far:

- six inches of Zig Zag:

I've used exactly two balls of Merino Style so far.

- the first of two squares for My Relay Team's blanket:

I'm not sure I love this, and I still need to add a border, but it was my first try at mitred squares, and it was pretty fun to make.

Friday, February 10, 2006

First Hand Dyes

In other news, my very first hand-dyes:

I used KnitPicks Dye Your Own sock-weight merino. It's not a wildly good quality yarn, but it's perfectly decent. I was underrconfident of the colors, and made them all bolder than I meant to (particularly the green in the blue/green colorway), but I still like how they turned out.

The method was based on the multiple-jars-in-one-pot-of-water method fromDianna's tutorial (which also inspired the red colorway) and used the stripe length math from Eunny's. I used water-to-vinegar-to-kool-aid ratios from Barbara's tutorial.

In short, here's what I did:

- estimate how long I wanted each striped section to be, and how long the full cycle of color repeats would be
- wind a skein as long as the full cycle (this is LONG. I did it in a huge rhombus around four chairs)
- tie off the skein to mark where the colors change
- soak the huge skein in a vinegar and hot water solution for half an hour or so
- mix 6 oz water, 2 oz vinegar and 1 packet of kool-aid (the sugar-free kind) in a large jar and mix very well. Repeat for all colors. Add more dye mixture, in these proportions, if desired
- place the jars in a large pot, in a bath of cold water several inches deep
- place each section of the yarn in the appropriate jar. Add enough water to cover the yarn well, and give it a very gentle, but thorough, stirring to mix.
- turn on the heat under the pot (I did it on medium), and bring the water in the pot (but not the dye in the jars) to a simmer. Stir the yarn very occasionally, to make sure the dye circulates
- it's done when all the dye has been sucked up into the yarn. The liquid in the jars will either turn milky or clear. The picture below is ALMOST ready (and has a cool steam effect):

- Let the yarn cool (or put on a sturdy oven mitt) and dump the yarn carefully into your (clean and bleach-free) sink. Let it sit for a minute.

- Gently wash and hang to dry as usual. (I used cold water and Eucalan)
- wind into a ball or skein. I think self-stripeys look particularly adorable on a skein. Plus, it will entertain your cat no end.

- make your color change markers nice and obvious. Once your yarn gets wet, it's harder to guess
- choose jars with plenty of room. I used a 26 oz jar for about a 1.5oz section of the skein, and it was a bit too small.
- choose jars of approximately the same height. Otherwise, the dye from the taller jar will travel down the yarn and mix into the lower one. If you're stuck with different heights (as I was), allow the yarn to dip down below the lip of the lower of the two.
- use rubber gloves when handling the Kool-Aid powder and mixed dye
- artificially-sweetened drink mixes like Crystal Light work just fine
- the yarn is going to absorb all the dye in the water, so the actual dilution doesn't matter, but the total amount of dye does. Add as much water as you need to cover the yarn, but make sure you mix it well.
- if you take the yarn out of the jars before it's milky/clear, it might bleed onto the other colors


Red colorway:
Largest section, appx. 2 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Cherry, 1/2 packet of Grape (dark red)
Med section, appx 1 oz of yarn: 2 packets of Wyler's Strawberry-Kiwi and 1/2 packet of tropical punch (coral)
Med section, appx 1 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Lemonade (yellow)

If I make this again, I'll include more Cherry and less Grape in the dark red, omit the tropical punch from the coral (for more of a peachy pink), and maybe use 2-2.5 packets of Lemonade.

Blue/Green colorway:
Largest section, appx 2oz of yarn: 3 packets of Ice Blue Raspberry (turquoise)
Small section, appx 2/3 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Watermelon Kiwi (green)
Small section, appx 2/3 oz of yarn: 2 packets of Wyler's Strawberry-Kiwi and 1/2 packet tropical punch (coral)
Small section, appx 2/3 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Lemonade (yellow)

If I make this again, I'll use 2 packets of Watermelon Kiwi for a green that's more lime than grass, and omit the tropical punch from the coral, for more of a peachy pink.

Let the Games Begin

I have no words better than these

If I may excerpt (shamelessly copying the idea from Mafia):

The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success....

but on my trying.

Let the games begin!

- by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Olympic Training

I've completed my swatching for Zig Zag:

I'm substituting KnitPicks Merino Style for the incredibly pricey (but doubtless lovely) Lana Gatto Feeling. In theory, the two have the same gauge in stockinette. However, when I did swatches in pattern, I got a very different gauge.
The pattern is supposed to knit up to 23st./4in. double-stranded. I got closer to 20. I did a single-stranded swatch, and got 24st./4in. I blocked the two, and will have to do a final check when they dry. The row gauge is SPOT ON, although I'll need to double-check that as well after it dries.

Single-stranding also has a few other advantages:
- it gives a much nicer fabric. The double-stranded swatch is very stiff, since it's essentially an aran weight knitted on size 6s.
- it uses less yarn. I might even have enough left over to make another garment. Yay!
- it is infinitely easier for the cabling without a cable needle method. Doing that with double-strands is a serious pain.
- it is much more comfortable to knit. With the double-strands on proportionally small needles, I felt like I was wrestling with the yarn.

In other news, I had my a spinning lesson today with Lucy from my most L of LYSes. It was extremely helpful; I finally understand what I'm doing. It'll obviously take some practice before my hands get the hang of it, but I feel very well equipped for that practice. I spun a few yards of yarn using the drop spindle and Blue-Faced Leicester my lovely secret pal sent me:

Thanks, SP; this is really fun!
Lucy also showed me how to spin on a wheel. I had a really hard time using the double-treadle model we started with, but got the hang of it much more quickly when we switched to a single-treadle Saxony style. I think I'm going to need one of those in a few years...

It is awfully late, so I won't be showing pics of MY FIRST HAND-DYEING. I'll post those soon...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Tubey Shrug

I've finished the shrug portion of my Tubey:

I'm very pleased with the fit. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to let the sleeve ends roll, or if I want to add an edging. I think I'll put that decision off until I've finished the body, and can look at the garment as a whole.

Next step: recalculate the number of stitches to pick up.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hooray for Knitted Food and Pretty Hats

The February issue of Magknits came out this morning, and there are two designs in there that I absolutely love:

Sushi by Amy Polcyn

Hooray for knitted food!
[shameless self-promotion]Check out my steamed bun pattern[/shameless self-promotion]

Odessa by the always fabulous Grumperina

There are precious few elegant knitted hats out there, and this is my favorite.