Friday, August 30, 2013

Cold Mountain Journey: This month's lace knitting

Showing someone your lace project before it's finished and blocked is a little like showing someone your bread dough before it's baked.  It's gooey and sticky and chewy and a big ole blob of not-quite-something-good. 

Nevertheless, I will show you the progress on my Cold Mountain stole, since I am doing it as part of a Knit-A-Long and that's what it's all about--showing how it's going, even if it looks lumpy and disheveled and like something no one in their right mind would ever want to wear.  I am also overlooking the fact that I am not "caught up" to where I should be if I had managed to knit 15 rows every week so far.  I am, in fact, a little bit behind on the count...

It's getting longer! Note the cowardice displayed in the use of TWO lifelines!

I love all the flecks of color in this KnitPicks Shadow lace weight yarn.

I have to say I am starting to enjoy this project more.  I hesitate to go so far as to say I've got the hang of it, but things that didn't make sense before, make better sense now. (Isn't that a lot like life?  The more you learn about something or someone, the more sense it or he or she makes.)

The length of time of this KAL seemed a little daunting at first, but I am SO glad that I don't have to rush through this.  I have so many other projects in the works right now that I have to schedule "shawl days" and "charity project days" and "new design work days," just to cover all my bases.  It's a good thing I love to knit!

Monday, August 26, 2013

More Indigo Dyeing

Noticed today that Wendy over at Spinsjal has been messing around with Indigo.  Very cool!  I love seeing other folks using Indigo. It looks like she had some great results and I'm very intrigued by the silk yarn she dyed!

Also, Leigh at Magar Hatworks has been dyeing some fabric for fall--yep, using Indigo. Beautiful stuff!

And finally, here is a recent post from The Charleston Museum's Tumblr page featuring, what else? Indigo. 

I used to notice when people were knitting; now I see them dyeing with Indigo...
Want to have your own expereince with the magic of Indigo?  Don't forget, my next Indigo Dyeing Workshop at the Charleston Museum is Saturday, October 19. Space is limited and you must pre-register.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An adventure in felting

I recently took part in a back-to-school education expo.  This being the second year of my participation, I felt better prepared to create a display that would be bright but not too bright, colorful but not overwhelming, and above all to clearly communicate the message I wished to convey:

Y'all come let me teach you to knit!

In my efforts to stream line the display, one of the things that I dropped everything to make (with only a few days to spare--living on the edge here, people) was a felted bowl.  This was my first attempt at knitting a felted bowl, but having felted a bag a few years ago and being currently in the state of euphoria brought about by kicking "behind" on that lace shawl KAL, I thought, I can SO do this.  And I did.  Naturally, I used some scraps of leftover yarn from the bag (I knew it would felt!) and having found a simple-looking pattern on Ravelry, I busted it out.  The result was that I now think that everyone I know NEEDS a knitted, felted bowl. Also, I wish I'd tried it sooner. 

If you've never felted before, let me encourage you to try this project.  It was a quick knit (my son wanted to confiscate it as a hat in its pre-felting stage), didn't use much yarn and the resulting felted coolness of it will make you think you're a Felting Rock Star.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Indigo Dyeing, version 2.0

There's something to be said for being open to growth and change, and for never saying "never."

In my previous Indigo Dyeing workshops, I think I might have said just that: never.  As in, I will "never" use extra chemicals when dyeing with Indigo.  So, by now you can guess where this blog post is headed, right?

In the quest for ever more impressive results, I gave thio-urea dioxide and soda ash a chance to wow me, and they did. 

First, I was wowed by the odor.  I won't sugar coat this: it stunk to high heaven! On it's own, pre-reduced Indigo has a subtle scent that is not unpleasant.  When these chemicals are added, it's a whole 'nuther story!  Two words: abundant. ventilation.

Secondly, I was wowed by the richness of the color.  This blue was so intense, even in lighter shades, that it took my breath away. (OK, what little breath I still had after the smelly, chemical-laden vat took away a good deal of it.  In the interest of honest disclosure.)  Y'all, the yarn and fabric I dyed using the new technique is just amazing.  I'm going to start carrying some of it around with me at all times to show people, because, while it does photograph nicely, in person it's even better.

And third, I was wowed at how much easier it was to rinse off all the leftover Indigo. My theory is that the chemicals reduce the Indigo and this makes the Indigo WANT to stay on the yarn.  I like it--it's a good theory.  Things should make sense as much as possible, whenever possible.  Anyway, whether you buy into my theory or not, the fact is that the yarn was a joy to knit with.  The color still rubbed off slightly in the process of knitting, but it was a vast improvement over previous yarns which had not had the benefit of super smelly chemicals added to the vat.  (Two more words: vinegar. soak.)

So there you have it: Indigo Dyeing, version 2.0.  Just in time for the next Workshop at the Charleston Museum.