Thursday, February 28, 2008

Little Red Rose

Little Red Rose
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
A small project, this was still one I really enjoyed making. The stem seems a bit too flimsy to me and I'm on the hunt for some pretty leaves to add to the back. When completely finished, it will be a lovely lapel-pin for my black wool coat.

The construction was pretty enjoyable. Each part knit up easily and fast. I enjoyed the trick of casting on. I didn't enjoy assembly, but I knew I wouldn't looking at the pattern ahead of time. It didn't help that I seemed to get tighter and tighter in my knitting as I went. If I'd relaxed a bit the whole thing would have slid together more easily--maybe. It's still a lot of little fiddly work.

The pattern came from cabledguy's blog. He was kind enough to post it to our sock club's blog as a use for left-over yarn from January's socks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Misty Night

Misty Night blue
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
I've had this idea to dye my own sock-block of yarn. So previously, I got a hobby knitting-machine. I chewed through almost 500 yards of yarn in an afternoon on the knitting machine, fashioning it into a two-stranded knitted block to dye. This method gives you two strands of yarn with exactly the same pattern of color on them, so the socks will match. Then I worked from a Knitty article on dying a gradient into yarn. Wilton's Royal Blue food coloring and some white and rice vinegar (I ran out of white--oops!) and I have a gorgeous block of yarn ready to go.

Misty Night blue
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
To try and get more variation, I dissolved my dye in only about 1/2 cup of water for each addition, and I carefully poured it down only one side of the pot. Diffusion still meant that dye spread out through all the water, but I definitely have areas of greater saturation throughout. The dye doesn't work evenly through the knitted yarn, either, so there are lighter flecks where each strand of yarn presses up against the next. I'm really excited to unravel the block and wind it into two balls of yarn to knit as socks.

Now I just need an appropriate pattern to knit!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Odd Ideas

I really wanted to try dyeing my own yarn using some food coloring as the dye (I don't think acid dyes are a good thing to jump into with curious little ones in the house). I read everything I could get my hands on about dying wool with Kool-Aid, and Wilton's food coloring, and I found a great article on that inspired me. I decided I wanted to make socks with a gradient, white at the top and a dark color at the toe. But I want some variation on the way.. so maybe a side-to-side gradient as well to give it a ripply effect.

I figured the best way to get this (or maybe some other effect) was to go with a method some of the women in my knitting group had used, by creating a knitted "blank" of fabric. The blank is made with two strands of fingering weight yarn. You dye it however you want, and then unravel it and make two socks as you go. This makes two identical socks, with the same color patterns--pretty cool!

But that would require a blank. I blithely began to knit the yarn from both ends of the ball---lalalala..boooring. And how frustrating, to be knitting something once, to unravel and knit again. I struck upon the idea of machine-knitting it. But machines are cost-prohibitive.

I ended up getting a cheep hobby knitting machine and giving it a whirl. After several false starts, and about a foot of decidedly funky fabric, I finally got the swing of it. It knit FAST. It knits nice and even. I have a 5' by 9" strip of fabric ready to meet dye. I hope it works!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

They are done!

The Serendipity Socks are done! Yay! I lost track of how many times I pulled them back, but I got quite skilled at it. The first few times I used waste yarn to weave in a 'lifeline', but after that I simply pulled out a needle and wove it in on the strand I wanted to start from by picking up the front of each loop. Then I could rip back with impunity, stopping on the needle and starting up again. I'm rather proud of 'perfecting' that little skill.

The socks look great. The heels are a bit pointy, but I think they may block out very nicely on my feet. The yarn feels very nice slipping the socks on for the first time. We'll see how it wears!

I wish I had finished them for Valentine's Day, since I had that as a goal. The yarn kept reminding me of chocolate-covered-cherries. YUM. But we're not far off and I'm still going to love wearing them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Strobist Macro Studio

Strobist Macro Studio
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
So I found this interesting article on the web about how to make your own macro studio on the cheep. It was on this great website (which you may have heard of) called Strobist. I went a little over his $10 boast, but I needed a couple of items not on his list.

I've been saving up materials for a while, trying to figure out when I'd have the time to do it, and a couple of hours finally presented themselves. The box is an old monitor box I've been saving for years to move our computer's monitor (which will probably be replaced soon with a flatscreen). The panels are standard tissue-paper, but I taped over the entire surface with clear packing tape to make it more sturdy since there are plenty of little people around the house that would easily put a hand or foot through the side in curious exploration.

As far as additional expenses go, I used about $3 in posterboard (needed two white sheets, and I have one black sheet cut to a 20x20" square that you can't see here). The biggest outlay in money was the $20 daylight-balanced bulb which I stuck in a $5 clip-on-lamp from the hardware store. I just don't have any other good source of light in the house (especially this time of year when it's grey and grim and natural light is hard to come by). I don't even have a removable flash, so some sort of light was necessary.

I've already started to use it and it's so much fun! I'm able to get some glamour shots of my yarn, and soon I'll be putting my finished projects in here to show them off. It was completely worth the effort!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Progress, at last!

I'm finally seeing some good progress. I have the leg done on one sock (two-by-two-ribbing and two repeats of the lace pattern), and most of the leg done on the second sock (2x2rib + one lace repeat). The striping looks close enough between the two I could care less what differences there are; if I wanted identical socks, then I would have purchased them machine-made and industrially dyed.

The goal today is to finish the second leg. Tomorrow, heels!

And soon, hopefully, lovely pictures, as well. I finished putting together my macro-studio box. I need a little more white poster-board to cover the bottom and it should be good to go. And I have to figure out how to set up my daylight-balanced lamp.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy, for the moment!

I lost count of how many times I've pulled back these socks. This morning I sat down with one that was striping for five rows and one that was clearly knit in a tighter gauge and striping for only three rows, and kicked myself. I then realized that my 5-row-stripe pattern also was off by a stitch half way through the lace pattern.

I pulled the first one back to the ribbing. I pulled the second one back half way through the lace. I successfully re-knit them both today.. and they now match! My gauge is the same between the pair. They look lovely. I'm thrilled and hope that I'll keep it up for the rest of the sock.. because I don't want to rip them back again!!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rocky Going

Slow going on the Serendipity Socks. The pattern is easy enough, but I managed to forget two rows in the lace about half way back, so I ended up frogging (again) a good portion of the second sock. Now I'm looking at the striping between the two socks and noticing significant differences. I'm worried my gauge is changing! Argh!

There is nothing like trying to achieve a particular effect on TWO socks at the same time to reveal just how nit-picky you can get with your own knitting. After all, I probably could have just ignored the missing two rows, or slipped a two-row-repeat in to make up the difference. But I would have known the mistake was there and it would have bugged me forever!

Now I just have to decide if I'll frog (AGAIN) and try and get the striping right, or if it's just an artifact of the yarn and give in.

At this point I have finished one repeat of the pattern on the first sock, and a little over half of the pattern on the second sock, provided I don't rip it back to knit it tighter.