Saturday, July 27, 2013

Indigo All Over

My friend Kaye is a traveler extraordinaire.  She recently returned from a road trip that took her to New Mexico, and while there she visited Tierra Wools and saw their natural dyes operation.

In my studies of indigo dyeing I ran across this article about a dye master in Mali.

And then this happened in my own garage yesterday.
Just pulled from the vat, turning blue before my eyes.


I've begun experimenting with a slightly different dye process.  It is proving to be rather stinky, but the results are so intense that opening an extra door for added ventilation is really no problem at all.

Learning the art of dyeing is a little like learning a second language.  You don't ever forget your first language (knitting), but eventually you see connections between it and your new language.  If you look on the rack in the pic above, you might see a wee bit of wool roving, dyed a glorious indigo.  If you think that this might mean that I plan to attempt a third language (spinning) soon, you might be right....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Red Scarf Project 2013 (plus a free knitting pattern!)

The Brickworks Scarf

Most of you who know me know that I love to knit for charity and one of my favorite charities is the Red Scarf Project.  I enjoy knowing that somewhere there are young adults who have grown up in foster care who are wearing red scarves they received in a care package while away at college.  It must be the mom in me, wanting these kids to have a tangible expression of love and support.  And it's the knitter in me who jumps at the chance to make that expression out of yarn.

This year in addition to knitting a scarf for submission to the Project, I also designed a pattern: "Brickworks".  It is available now as a FREE Ravelry download--giving you plenty of time to send one in for this year (between September 1 and December 15--address on their website).

So enjoy, and thank you in advance for sending scarves to help make a difference in the lives of foster youth in college.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Feeling Blue Again, or, Indigo Workshop #2

Today we dyed, again!  It's such a privilege to get to guide people into the world of Indigo dyeing.  I love seeing how their yarns and fabrics turn out, and watching them experiment with different techniques is so fun.  My favorite thing, though, has got to be getting to chat with our workshop participants and learn from them as well.

Here's a little of what we did today.  If you find yourself wishing that you, too could have been a part of this workshop, then plan to join us in October for our next one!

Curator Jan Hiester shows us the Indigo exhibit

Is it done yet?

Undyed wool yarn + Indigo = Magnificent!
There's a lot of rinsing.  A LOT of rinsing!

We 3 Hues of Indigo Are...

Amazing tie-dye! So creative!
Shaking out the fabric

And the racks filled with so much blue...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cold Mountain Journey: Knitting Lace (or anything else)

I made it to 15 rows!  It took a little ripping back and a bit more concentration than I'm used to having to give my knitting (sorry, Hubby!), but I made it.  With a weekly goal of 15 rows, we will be knitting this till February 2014, but that's OK.  If I felt rushed to knit this lace project it would never get done (I know me!).

Today's tips for knitting lace apply to other projects as well--cables, color work, even plain old garter stitch sometimes.

1) Count often!  Because there is a "resting row" between the lace rows, by the time I discover I missed a YO, it's 2 rows back and the ominous black clouds appear directly overhead within minutes.  The answer? Count. Then count again. Don't move off the lace row until you know it's right, then knit the resting row and count it, too. Find the mistakes early so it's less heartbreaking when you have to go back and fix them.

2) Use markers!  Stitch markers are our friends, and I use them all the time.  For this project I have markers right after and right before the border rows (4 stitches on one side and 5 on the other) and in between the pattern repeats (which are 30 stitches wide).  This means I only have to count (and re-count, see item #1, above) up to 30, which saves me time and makes this more like Fun and less like, well, Not Fun.  And knitting really ought to be Fun at least part of the time, right?

For those of you participating in this KAL, hang in there, especially if you're new to lace knitting or using charts or if you have your own version of the Lace Prom Shrug Fiasco of '12.  I tell my beginning knitting students this and it bears repeating:

You are bigger than this yarn and those needles and that pattern.  
You are the boss. YOU CAN DO IT!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cold Mountain Journey: A Word About Lifelines

I'm one of those people who likes to look for the educational benefit in just about anything.  This means that, as I knit this Cold Mountain stole, I have no doubt that I will learn a lot--chiefly by screwing it up as I go along.  It IS lace knitting, after all, and so far, we are not BFF's.

After one day of knitting, on which I made it to Row 7 only to have to rip it back to Row 5 and go to bed with a sick headache, I learned the following:

1) Use a Lifeline.  If you don't know how to use a Lifeline, do not knit any lace until you go to and watch this video.  I'll wait till you're finished.

2) When you put in a Lifeline, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
a. Write down the number of the row that you put a Lifeline on
b. Make sure you have the correct number of stitches knit on that row (because if you have missed a YO, you will hate yourself)
c. Don't put the Lifeline through the stitch markers if the stitch markers do not open.

3) Unless you have bionic vision or 300-watt lighting near your recliner, try to use a light colored yarn.  It's too late for some of us, so please, save yourself while there is still time.

4) Lace knitting and lap cats are not always a happy combination.

5) A missed yarn-over is in fact, a major catastrophe, and your loved ones should agree to treat it as such.

Please don't get the wrong idea about this project.  The pattern and chart make sense and I am an intelligent, experienced knitter who likes a challenge. Even it it's lace.  And hey, this morning before breakfast I knit two rows and moved the Lifeline up to row 7!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cast-On Day!

Today I will be casting on to participate in a KAL for the Cold Mountain stole pattern.  I'm excited for a number of reasons, among them:

1) My daughter picked out the pattern because she wanted to tackle a "big lace something."
2) When I suggested she might want to make it a KAL (peer pressure done right), she did.
3) Do I need to mention that I like knitting with this kid?
4) Some of you may remember the Lace Prom Shrug Fiasco of '12. It's nice to have a fresh start.
5) Starting a shiny new project is fun. Period!
6) Starting a Knit-A-Long is even more fun!

So, if you're game, join us.  More details can be found here. Also, here are some tips on reading knitting charts.  By the time we are through knitting this lovely shawl, we should be expert chart readers!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy 4th!

Patriotic wishes for a happy and safe Independence Day for all my fellow Americans! In between the potato salad and the fireworks, don't forget to knit!