29 April 2008

BTW I still knit...sometimes

Yes in fact I do still knit, even if I don't write about it as often these days. Any guesses?

Here, I'll give you a better picture:

No good? I'm sure you're pretty close though.

I'll give you another:

Slightly better I know. It's a hat. Big shocker. But you haven't seen it for a while.

It's reeeeeaaaaaaaaallly nice:

Pattern: Le' Slouch by Knit and Tonic
Adaptations: Um, handspun anyone? Started with 6 st i-cord and knit down from the top making increases every other row. Alternated the handspun with the Silk Dream every other row to maximise handspun slouchyness.
Materials: 1 skein Lang Silk Dream, 50 grams Handspun from Ozark Handspun 100% Silk roving
Start Date: March 23, 2008
End Date: April 12, 2008

I made it with my very own handspun. Yup, I did show it to you before with some other grey yarn, but it just wasn't doing it for me. The feel was off and the yarn was a bit too dull when knit up with the silky goodness of the handspun. So a trip to Ariadne for some Lang Silk Dream was in order. And the Silk Dream was exactly what I wanted to make this hat great.

After knitting the hat once according to the pattern (ribbing upward) but was worried about running out of the handspun. So I decided go the other way, knit from the top down. So a little bit of i-cord, some initial increase rows just in the Silk Dream and then I continued working one row of the handspun and one row (with increases) in the Silk Dream. Once finished increasing the stitches, I started working two rows of the Silk Dream to one row of handspun until full slouchy-ness was achieved. Then I finished with some good old ribbing in the Silk Dream.

BTW this Le'Slouch is for me.

27 April 2008

Mixed Berry Tart anyone?

Yes, I'm still very much addicted to spinning. I 'officially' learned to spin two weeks ago and it was AWESOME. Leslie knows her shiz and is a great teacher. I, of course, lived up to my promise of being annoying and asking many a question, being a smarty-pants all the while, but she didn't seem to mind too much. While I thought I knew what I was doing before the class, I paid attention and ended up learning a whole new drafting technique and am completely stoked to get a fleece, wash it and spin it.

Since the class and using Leslie's mad drafting skillz, I've upped my productivity (can draft AND spin at once), increased overall yarn softness and the consistency is awesome! Huge sections of 'real-like-store-bought' yarn. It's pretty awesome.

So now I'm working through the fibre backlog that seems to have accumulated without paying attention. Here's some lovely Navajo plied Falkland that I spun up a while ago. Yup, Navajo ply with a drop spindle. I make a whole length of finger chain (usually longer loops) then spin to add the ply. But I could see how Navajo plying would be better suited to spinning with a wheel.

I took this:

And made this:

The dets:

'Blueberry' Spunky Eclectic
4 oz. Navajo plyed handspun
100% Falkland top

And to answer your question before you ask it, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to knit with this yarn. I could make a hat, or a Baby Surprise Jacket or something, but there are no babies on the horizon that this would be appropriate for (I'm thinking at best 'gender neutral' girl). I'm kind of thinking hat of some sort. The Barrymore Slouch hat caught my eye but it shall have to wait for an appropriate handspun mate before cast on. I have some medium brown wools to spin up. K, so I have a bit of an idea.

For future updates on Pamplemousse en caoutchouc please check out the newly established blog here or the Flickr group I set up. Please feel free to add your pics to the group and I'll be sure to comment spam any and every one I see.

20 April 2008

Sweater Saga Ends in Steam

Someone asked me in the comments some time ago about what my steaming method was. I don't own a real steamer, so use my iron to steam. Molly Ann of Ariadne first showed me this method of steam blocking and for Jane of the short attention span, this has become my new favourite blocking method.

I took a bunch of pictures while steaming stuff and here we go. When re-working the Pink Lopi Raglan (one of the many many times), I steam blocked the yarn before re-starting knitting (one of the times). Mr. Peabody and I thought the crimp leftover from having knit the yarn was affecting the gauge of the knitted sweater.

Here's the yarn after the sweater was frogged. Crimped was in style in the 80s and it should stay there:

I used a ball winder to make little yarn cakes when I ripped out the sweater. Then I took those cakes and wound them into big loops using a couple of chairs (officially skeins, but I wasn't going to be re-twisting them for storage).

Once in big loops, I used my iron (set on the wool setting and steam set to MAX), I steamed steamed steamed the yarn straight again. Barely allowing the iron to touch the yarn, I hit the steam button and let the steam work it's magic through the yarn. One end of the loop around my ironing board and the other in my non-ironing hand, I steam away like this:

Afterwards I had something like this:

Practically brand new yarn! Ready to be knit again without monkeying with my gauge.

Alternative methods of straightening out your kinky kinky yarn would be to hang it next to your shower for a few days. May work faster/better with a weight of some sort on the bottom of the big loop.

Or getting the yarn wet and hanging to dry. If you go for the wet, be sure NOT to agitate it AT ALL and to use ROOM temperature water. Felting=bad. Leave the skein in water to thoroughly wet then hang to dry where you don't mind it dripping a lot. I usually use a hanger off of a shower curtain ring in my bathtub.

Today I finally got around to steam blocking the Pink Lopi Raglan. To prevent from damaging the sweater, I one of those cloth dishrag things soaked in water to provide the steam. Tea towels work well too and give more coverage. I use a cloth dishrag because I don't use them for much else and the cleanliness of my tea towels can be questionable. In my kitchen, the rags are a safer bet. Keep in mind that ironing wet fabric can put scald marks onto the fabric so don't use something precious to you for the purpose of steam blocking.

Lay the wet (but not sopping) cloth on top of your garment to be blocked. Set your iron to the appropriate setting (here I'm blocking wool, so I use the wool setting):

Once your iron is heated up, got to town ironing the CLOTH and not the sweater. The water in the cloth is vapourised by the heat of the iron and the steam settles works it's way into the wool causing it to take a new shape.

After ironing the water out of the cloth a bit, I set down the iron, move the cloth out of the way and tug the sweater vertically and horizontally to even out the stitches. For this sweater, I don't need any more width, so really tugged vertically more than anything.

The cloth will dry out after a few passes with the iron, so I use that spray button on my iron to rewet it. It's probably the only time I've ever used that button.

I worked my way around the sweater, turning it over to steam both sides of the sweater to make sure everything's nice settled down.

Before blocking the knitted fabric looked like this:

After steam blocking, the fabric is much smoother, and has better drape:

For those of you that actually have real steamers, check out Crazy Aunt Purl's Block 'til you drop! tutorial.

Here is the (FINALLY) finished sweater. You can see the only detail on this basic raglan, a purl stitch in between the raglan decreases.

Pattern: Sweater no. 4 from Lopi no. 20
Modifications: Lots of adaptations for gauge (Létt Lopi instead of double stranding Alfoss Lopi)
Materials: Istex Létt-Lopi
Start Date: November 30, 2007
Finished By: April 20, 2008 (took so long due to initial, unfounded angst upon immediate completion)

By no means a perfect sweater, but not horrible either. I'm happy enough with the final product.

But I do wish I had properly blocked the gauge swatch so I may have avoided the 'perfect' sleeves growing well beyond a reasonable length.

I may work up the gumption to fix this while working in those final ends. At least now I don't feel like a complete sweater failure.

In other news, I am still spinning like a mad-woman. I've even tried a wheel. The cuttlefish socks are still in progress, the Noro Surprise Jacket is being reborn and the Sideways pullover is frogged for good.