Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Knitting - Summer Sweater KAL

Over the past few months, I have been learning more about knitting, and the anatomy of the stitches, than I have up until this point.  As I mentioned before, I always though I knit "wrong", but I have since learned that I just knit in a different style.

My typical knitting style is Eastern Crossed, but I have been trying to get into the habit of being just an Eastern knitter. As much as I love the look of my twisted stitches, they are not always my friend. For my mosaic socks, they caused a couple of pairs of too small socks, and for certain stitch patterns, the twisted stitches can cause an unwanted look with the pattern.

So I started with a couple of baby blankets. One was a simple corner to corner seed stitch blanket, which I have finished and given away. The second one is an entrelac baby blanket, and is still in progress, but got put aside as soon as I was able to get started on a summer knitting project.

I decided to do something different, to stray from my comfort zone of socks, and knit myself a summer sweater. A while back I talked about a class by Patty Lyons that really helped me understand my knitting. I started following her on Ravelry, and this summer she has decided to do a Knit-A-Long of a really nice lacy sweater.

For anyone who is thinking of trying a sweater, I highly recommend this KAL! During the KAL, it is $7 for the pattern, and she includes loads of instructional videos as each clue is revealed.  After the KAL is over, she is offering it at a ridiculously low price of $7 of the pattern or $10 for the pattern, videos and modification note.  Corcoran Pattern on Ravelry - I also very highly  recommend joining her Ravelry Group as well for the KAL, since she has been amazing at answering questions in the group forum.

She has suggested a yarn (Classic EliteYarns - Song DK weight) and even has a supplier who is giving a discount on the cost of the yarn right now. Check out the Song yarn at FiberWild.

One of the other things that is really new to me is gauging and blocking. Normally I grab the yarn and needles suggested in the pattern and just start knitting. But for this one, I am actually following the instructions and knit up a test swatch, then blocked it to check the gauge.
My swatch! I used the Ballerina colorway of the Song yarn

I am starting to wonder if I blocked it properly.  When I look at some of the other pictures I see, it looks like other people have opened the lace pattern up a bit more than I have.  But I like the way it looks, and at this point, I have started the back of the sweater already, and am going to just go with it.  When I blocked it how I like it, I got the right gauge, so we will see what happens.

I keep needing to remind myself that when I block it, the sizing will change, because right now, I have my doubts about picking the right size to fit around the midsection. But I am only one and a half repeats into the pattern, so I need to be patient and trust the process.  Although you all know my history of patience LOL

So if you have ever thought of knitting a sweater, or have done them before and want something really pretty, give this KAL a try! As I said, Patty is wonderful at answering questions, and is very helpful!

I will give updates as the pattern progresses, and am hoping to be done by the end of the KAL on August 15th.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Trying to dye Black... (part two and three quarters - Americolor)

So I did this last month, but things have been really hectic around here, so I was not able to get the post up until today.  Thanks to racinggirl on Ravelry for messaging me today... it reminded me that I had not posted this yet.

After my Trying to dye Black... (part two and a half - Americolor), I wanted to give it one more go with the Americolor black to see if I could get closer to an actual black.  One thing I noticed was that my previous attempts seemed to lean more towards the red side of things, so I had an idea that if I dyed the yarn blue first, then put the black over the top, I might get a less reddish colour.

I used 100g of my superwash Opal sock yarn, soaked in plain water.  For the first dye bath, I used 6 drops of Wilton Color Right blue dye (since the drops are easier to control) and let it go until it absorbed all of the dye.  I am noticing that no matter how loose I tie my figure eight ties, the dye really does not want to strike under them. I am going to have to start putting those sections in the dye first and making sure they are dyed before I put the rest of the yarn in.

I brought the water up to temperature and then added the citric acid mix one tablespoon at a time, at about 10 minute intervals. There were a total of 3 tablespoons to this one.
Step One - Dye blue first
I have to say, I almost stopped right there because the blue was so pretty. Even my husband thought it was really nice and that I should stop, but I had a plan, so I kept going. For this one, I let it cool completely before I went on to the next step. Again, was doing other things at the time or I would not have had the patience to do that.

I took the yarn out of the water and put it on a plate, dumped the water and mixed up another dye bath. This time I used 10 drops of Americolor black and 1/4 tsp of salt, dissolved in hot water.  I slowly added the yarn back to the dye pot, and let it come up to temperature. Once it was at temperature, I added my citric acid mixture one tablespoon at a time, adding each tablespoon at 10 minute intervals. I added a total of 4 to this pot.

I kept the yarn at temperature for about another 20 minutes or so, and then turned off the heat and let it cool while I dealt with a bunch of other things.  After about 2 hours, I made it back to the yarn. The water was pretty much clear, so I rinsed the yarn, washed with baby shampoo, wrung out in a towel, and then put it in the dryer on a shoe rack.

When it was done, it had more of a purple tint to it, but it is still definitely not black.
Much less of a brown than the last one. Picture did not pick up the tone as well as I had hoped, but you get the idea

Wrapped up, with the white twine as a contrast to try to show the colour better.

I do really like it, and already have plans for it, but I think this may be the end of my attempts at a full skein of black.  The only other thing I MIGHT try is doing with all WCR colours. I find the WCR black seems to be a bit more green based, so it would be interesting to see what happens if I dye it blue first,  like I did here, then overdye it with the black WCR colour.

For now, I am confident in saying that while dyeing stripes of black in a variegated skein is possible, trying to dye a whole skein black with food safe colour is not just worth the hassle. I get a feeling you would have to overdye the skein multiple times, and even then, am not confident you would ever get a true black.

Would love to hear if any of you have had any luck with a full skein of black using only food safe colours! Post in the comments below if you have tried it.