Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What's on my hook: swatching

Neither of these ended up being my final swatch.
I would have thought that I've made enough granny squares in my life that I don't need to swatch before beginning a granny-themed pattern proposal, but it turns out I do. The difference between those two squares shows why. I made both with worsted weight yarn, and both are about 4" square. But the gray swatch on the left was done with a J (6mm) hook, while the green square on the right was done with a K (6.5mm) hook. Nearly the same size, but one less round, uses less yarn, and will give the finished product a very different look--more open and "holey." Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on what I want to achieve. Thus the swatching. From the swatch I can also calculate the size of the finished product and the total amount of yarn it will use. It almost makes up for the tedium of making a square, measuring it, making another square with a different hook, ripping out the first one, re-doing it in a different yarn, re-measuring... et cetera.

All of these granny squares are towards another pattern proposal, this time for a yarn company. I can't share further details or photos (most publishers prefer the patterns they publish to not have been plastered all over the internet beforehand, understandably), but so far it's going well. The swatch I'll be submitting is turning out to be gigantic, but such is life with a motif-based afghan, I suppose.

And now it's back to work! Taking a break from crocheting in order to type is probably not an orthopedist-approved action, but at least it's different repetitive motion, right?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Yarn store score

So soft! So squishy! So plant-fibery! And it's mine, all mine!
My closest local yarn store (A Tangled Skein in Hyattsville) is within days of closing. (Sad face!) I went for (what I thought was) the last time a few weeks back, and left with a bunch of lovely linen yarn, but when I heard everything was down to 75% off, I had to go back. There was almost nothing left when I got there--mostly some weird novelty yarn and a few needle sets, but I managed to leave with a decent haul anyway.

From left to right: 2 skeins of Fibranatura Flax (100% linen), 3 skeins of Classic Elite "Seedling" (organic cotton and so soft), 4 skeins of Classic Elite "Cotton Bam Boo" (cotton/bamboo, also super soft and squishy), and 5 skeins of Queensland "Bebe CotSoy (cotton/soy). The CotSoy is the only thing I have an actual plan for (Hogwarts Express, to be cast on as soon as I finish Hobbes, because I need it like breathing), but I have great faith in my ability to find suitable projects for the other yarn, too.

Oh, and the best part? I walked away with 1600+ yards of squooshy delicious plant fibers for $25. Amazing! I'll miss A Tangled Skein, but man, was that an awesome sale.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I thought I checked the dye lots on the yarn, but this photo is making me wonder...
I took advantage of Wednesday's (snow-free) snow day to block my "Sapphire & Steam" scarf (posted as a WIP last week). Blocking items need to be constantly supervised around these parts--I have four very curious cats who would love nothing more than to make a cozy nest out of my knitwear. We managed to get through the whole process without any kitty-related incidents, though, and I wore the scarf today. I can already tell it's going to become a new favorite.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's on my hook: guilt & shame edition

Finished: head, body, muzzle. Still left: arms, legs, tail, belly patch, ears.
When I mentioned last week that I had works in progress (WIPs) that were nearly a year old, this was the one I was really thinking of. I promised my husband, a lifelong Calvin & Hobbes fan, a crocheted amigurumi Hobbes (from this pattern) for his birthday... last year. Given that his birthday is coming up (again! it's like they happen every year) at the end of this month, I thought I'd better get on this. It's been hanging over my head, filling me with (well-deserved) guilt since last year. Time to do something about it. Besides, I'm no longer trying to keep the project a secret from him, so it's a lot easier to find time to work on it.

I finished the blue scarf that I posted about last week, so perhaps this post will be the boost I need to finish this project, too.

Monday, March 4, 2013

So many puns, I don't know where to start

So let's pretend I opened with a groaner and move on from there, yes?

Lately, I've been really interested in learning how to dye yarn. Up until recently, this was something that interested me about as much as spinning--which is to say, not at all. (Sorry, spinners. It's not you, it's wool.)

But when the more I've started to think about it, the better it sounds. Firstly, and most obviously, it's a chance to play! with! colors! And I love playing with colors.

More specifically, though, it's a chance to get the colors I want in the fibers I want. I'm sensitive (though not allergic) to animal fibers--any fiber, any blend, any quantity, pretty much. Plant fibers, though? Oh, plant fibers. I want to marry plant fibers and have their plant fibery babies forever. Merino, angora, alpaca? Meh, whatever. Cotton, linen, bamboo, soy, hemp? A thousand times yes! (Silk too, even if that is, properly speaking, an animal fiber.)

But animal fibers are easier to dye, and animal fibers are what the rest of the world loves best, which means that the vast majority of the scrumptious, gorgeous, brilliantly-dyed yarns out there are--yes--animal fibers.

So maybe, instead of getting needlessly frustrated over whatever latest handpainted bit of lovely I can only find in bleeping merino, I could just... do it myself.

So I did some research, and it turns out it's not as intimidating as it could be. (Knitty did a great article on dyeing plant fibers that I suspect I'm going to be coming back to again and again.) Of course, it's not something I can do right this minute--dyeing of any kind requires dedicated containers and utensils--you can use kitchenware, but you better only use it for dyeing. I don't have room to store a whole separate set of pots, let alone the counter and sink space for it. (And we won't even talk about where I could possibly hide the drying skeins from my horde of destructive cats.) But we're talking about buying a house this summer (!!!), so perhaps this won't have to stay on the back burner for too much longer.

And in the meantime, I'm developing an increased appreciation for the hand-dyed silk/linen I'm knitting with now. There's something really hypnotic about watching the color changes slip through your fingers as you work.

Friday, March 1, 2013