experiment


Spats Complete

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Sassy!

What a weird little project but honestly? I love them. They are a bit funny and my husband “doesn’t understand” but I think they are great. I also know I’ll be using them because I have some shoes, two pairs in fact, that are extremely comfortable and fine but are slip-ons/backless. That doesn’t work for me because I basically exist in leggings and skirts all fall, winter, and spring. I need booties, not backless shoes. These little spats make those shoes totally wearable with leggings now. I actually think they make the shoes look better in general.

 

As always, I have some notes:

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A poorly photographed heel loop

  • I used Red Heart Super Saver in black. I used this for two reasons. 1) it is cheap acrylic I had kicking around and would have no problem tossing them in the bin if they didn’t work out 2) it is cheap, hard wearing acrylic that I can toss in the washer when they inevitably get dirty.
  • I knit them in a 2×2 rib. When I did my increases I added to the first knit ridge until I added 4 (on each side), which then allowed me to break it off into 2×2 ribbing again.
  • They JUUUUUUST fit to the top of my ankle but frankly I should have knit them to be longer. What can I say, I was impatient. Future spats (of which there shall be many) will be taller, perhaps even with enough length for a folded over cuff.
  • I had heels in mind when I knit these, especially my two pairs of slip on heels, and I wanted to make sure the spats would stay in place. I crocheted a loop into the back of each spat large enough to slip over the heel and slide (snugly) to the top of the heel. This works brilliantly.

 

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SPATS!


Comment-dit-on “Rainbow Entrelac Hat”?

Me and my menfolk on the Bluenose II

The past two weeks have been hectic. VERY hectic and very nonstop. First, all last week I was in an intensive French immersion course. It was exhausting and hard but I do think my French is better for it. Something else happened during French week, which I will get into shortly. Anyway, after French Week we went to Nova Scotia for four days to visit family and had one of the best visits we have ever had up that way as far as I am concerned. Great connect with family, visited a yarn shop, and even got to connect up with a facebook friend! Great vacation. This week, once we got back from Nova Scotia, has been a week of anxious waiting to hear back from a job I interviewed for a couple of weeks ago. This had been weighing on me like a brick because I really wanted this job. Yesterday, finally, I heard back and I got it! This is a huge deal because for the first time in my career I won’t be working for the provincial government any more. I have been a civil servant for almost a decade, but only for three more weeks! This job will be in the private sector, which is a whole other world, but it is a change I’m definitely looking forward to. New work. New challenges. New experiences. I haven’t been doing a great job about maintaining my weight for the past few months and let my gym membership lapse a few months ago as well. My new job? Yeah, it is like a block from the gym, so I am taking this as a marker moment to get back on that wagon as well. Whole new routine and state of mind starts in just a couple weeks!

Now, back to French week….

During my week of immersion we were expected to spend the entire day there, speaking French, including over our lunch hour. Me, I don’t need an hour to eat lunch (I often don’t even bother eating lunch) so guess how I filled the time!

BAM! Rainbow Entrelac Hat!

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Looooooove how it turned out. The pictures do NOT do it justice.

Of course, I have some notes:

  • Technically I started this thing on Tuesday and I was done it by Thursday, which to me is pretty speedy. People in my French class were pretty surprised/impressed at how quickly the hat got done and they all loved the end result. 🙂
  • Entrelac is NOT HARD. Keep in mind this was my very first experiment with entrelac. Honest to heavens, it was stupid easy and simple to do once you got the first row done, and the end result is absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend giving it a shot to any intermediate or even more advanced beginner.
  • My hat was knit on size US7 needles, using worsted weight yarn. The grey is Paton’s, and the rainbow is the fabulous rainbow yarn I bought from Belfast Mini Mills.
  • My entrelac had 17 squares, each 5 stitches wide. After 3 rows of that (each row being a complete repeat of both a rainbow and grey row) I decreased to 4 stitch wide squares for a row. Next row was 3 stitch wide squares. When I got down to two it was mostly just an exercise in decreasing evenly and then switching to just the grey to finish it off.
  • I didn’t have a pattern and was just sort of winging the whole thing, and because of that it did end up pretty big. Comically and unwearably too big until I picked the edge stitches up with smaller needles (i think US6) and then knit a bit of an extra, smaller, edge. It didn’t take much to bring it in that little bit and make the hat wearable.
  • Like I said, the hat was/is big, and even after the added rows to close it up a bit. The hat is basically a slouchy beret/tam type thing and not something I would usually knit, let alone wear, but the end result really is properly adorable and I think I will wear it after all.

 


Learning a new technique is so gratifying!

Today I decided to cast on using the yarn I purchased at Belfast Mini-Mills. I love the yarn, love the colours, but it was looking pretty insane all on its own. I am all for crazy fun colours, but this was just too much, even for me. I dug through my stash and found some leftover dark grey wool from the striped hat I made for Ryan this past spring and figured it would work to tone down the rainbow. But how? Stripes? Checker board? Some other sort of colourwork?

 

What about entrelac?

 

I hadn’t even attempted it before, it looks so beautiful and complicated but also super intimidating. Whatever..no time like the present. And of course I am insane and decided to plough ahead without a pattern. Nothing says “likely to succeed at new technique” like winging it… 

Entrelac As it turns out it is actually TOTALLY turning out! And entrelac is way easier than I expected! I am absolutely loving how this is knitting up, the grey has done exactly what I hoped it would. The rainbow now pops without being crazy in your face insane looking. I love how each block of the rainbow looks sort of like it’s own perfect little miniature rainbow. Man, I just love this.

 

Hurray for learning new techniques!


Dyeing yarn using a sock blank is both awesome as well as HUGELY annoying 5

20150411_190221I had some incredibly generous Ravellers donate some of their sock yarn scraps towards my sock yarn blanket which has been a tremendous help. Seriously, I went from a very lacking variety of sock yarns to now having dozens of different bits of yarn. Lovely lovely lovely people. Then, on top of that, one women even gave me sock blank! (For those who don’t know, a sock blank is a knitted panel of undyed sock yarn that you can use to easily make your own colourways and self-patterning yarn.) When I discovered the sock blank in the box of yarns she sent me I was extremely excited since I had looked into purchasing them myself in the past. I have been waiting to use this sock blank until I had a good opportunity to venture into dyeing, preferably without interruption or husband sighs while I inevitably get dye all over myself and the kitchen. He is a bit of a Tidy McCleanerson, and my inclination towards chaos and messiness can be stressful for him from time to time, and my having gotten dye EVERYWHERE (including on the front door somehow) has made him less than thrilled over the prospect of my doing any more hand dyeing of yarn.

My husband was away from the house for a full 36 hours this weekend. I seized the opportunity!

The same as last time, I didn’t go in to it with a particular plan or knowledge, I just winged it. Why I never go in to these things with a set plan is beyond me. Perhaps I secretly believe myself to be some sort of savant or natural genius when it comes to this type of thing and that I will just magically be awesome at it without trying.

Yeah… right…

Anyway, like I said I just winged this. So, what did I do?

  1. I soaked/saturated the blank in water. I don’t entirely know why, it just felt like the thing to do.
  2. I got out a 9×9 glass baking dish and created a sort of separated bowl and divider using tinfoil.
  3. I laid out the blank in the dish, putting half in the separated tinfoil bowl. Because I wanted short colour repeats I didn’t lay the blank out top half in the dish, bottom in the tinfoil bowl because that would have resulted in one long section of one colour and then one long section of another colour. To get the shorter colour repeats I put the blank in the dish dividing it left to right instead.
  4. I dissolved some blue Wilton’s food colouring in some hot water and a bit of vinegar and poured it into the dish, keeping it out of the tinfoil bowl divider.
  5. I dissolved some yellow Wilton’s food colouring in some hot water and a bit of vinegar and poured it into the tinfoil bowl side.
  6. I added some blotches of red and green along the center section that was held up by the divider out of the two main colours.
  7. I put the dish in the oven at 200°F for about an hour.
  8. Drain, rinse, leave it to dry fully.
  9. Once dry I unravelled it from the blank on to my swift.
  10. I unwound it from the swift, dividing the two strands into two separate balls
  11. I rewound one ball back on to the swift and then rewound it into a center pull ball using my nostepinne. Repeat for second ball.

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I am super excited for how it ended up, but I do have some notes:

  • The colours are a little more easter-ish than I intended, mostly because I dropped a bit of pink dye around in splotches on both sides. I think I was intending for it to result in a more mottled look, which did work kind of. Mostly the pink just dispersed throughout making the yellow look orange and the blue look more mauve. Ah well.
  • What a colossal pain in the ass it was unraveling this yarn and reballing it. Holy crap. Now, in fairness part of the problem was that I sort of screwed up when I was unwinding the blank on to my swift. The blank itself unraveled really smoothly and easily, that wasn’t the issue. I started with the swift in a weirdly unexpanded state and then it just got worse and, well, you can see the disaster I created in the first panel of the above picture. (What was that about my secretly believing myself to be a natural genius when it comes to this kind of thing?)square
  • The blank was a double knit one, and reballing those two strands into two separate balls was irritating to put it mildly. I don’t know if there is some magical easier way of doing it, but it took me a long time. I may have to put this question to the actual geniuses on the Ravelry forums to see if maybe they can enlighten me because seriously… it was a pain in the ass.
  • I have knit one square (so far) using this yarn and I think it is pretty fantastic. Turned out basically how I was hoping in terms of the self striping within my tiny block. This yarn would probably look more varigated if I used it for a larger item (like a sock) but the stripes work out perfectly in my little squares. WIN!
  • Despite the huge annoyance I suffered while unwinding and reballing the blank, I still LOVED dying using the sock blank. It was a great way of creating a really cool colour way, really simplified the whole process. No tangles or shenanigans. I also love that it resulted in two identically dyed balls, and I can absolutely see how that would be fabulous if I were going to use this yarn for socks.

 

So, in summary, I loved using a sock blank for dyeing. I loved dyeing it and loved the end result, so I can overlook the unballing/reballing annoyances.

 

Oh, and as for my husband’s reaction to my having dyed while he was away? I made a point of cleaning everything up before he got back home so that he would have no reason to be grumpy over any future dye projects, and he was totally fine with it, until he saw the distinctly blue staining on our wooden cutting board… oopsie….


Knitted purses done right

As the warmer weather approaches I have been looking towards projects that aren’t so focused on keeping me warm. I have long wanted to make a knitted purse that I could use every day but I feel like this is a tricky project, and not because they are hard to make.

The problem with knitted purses is that they can end up looking really tacky.

There. I said it. I said the thing you aren’t supposed to say, but it is true! Weird Al is the only person who could pull off a lot of the knitted purses out there. (Sidenote: man do I love Weird Al! Going to his concert later this year! YEAH!) I love to knit and love the look of most knitted things, but I am fully and completely aware that it is very easy to make very tacky, kitschy, dare I say ugly knitted things. VERY easy. I am also prepared to admit that some of the things I have made are ugly. (Cabled Leg Warmers, I’m looking at you…) Knitting is already regarded as being a dorky hobby, no need to compound that by knitting tacky ugly things. I am far from being a slave to fashion, but I do think that how you look and present yourself to the world has an effect on how you are treated. Maybe it isn’t fair or right, but it is just how it is. Plus, I am a civil servant and (unfortunately) have the expectation upon me to look more or less professional and civil servant-y (whatever the hell that means) most of the time.

My other problem is that I have a long history of atrocious taste in purses. I LOVE purses and often end up buying the ugliest purses on the planet. I have literally had strangers come up to me and insult my purse. I have learned to approach purses very cautiously.

So, how do I do the knitted purse while still looking fashionable? There are a TON of patterns out there for knitted purses in every shape and style imaginable, so first I look for knitted purse patterns that have elements I like in the purses I would buy!

  1. Not too big but able to carry what I need without over-stuffing
  2. good pocket placement
  3. comfortable strap at a good length
  4. structured
  5. not overly detailed or fussy

Then I take out the ones that have knitted elements that I find tacky, like the use of novelty yarn. To me, novelty yarn is NEVER the right option. Never ever. (Except maybe in this cute hedgehog pattern…) I also assess whether I think a non-knitter would be likely to wear the purse. If not, well,… maybe it isn’t the best choice.

So what does that leave me with? A surprising amount actually! I think I have narrowed it down to the following patterns.

For purses on the more simple side of things, I love this Braided Cable Handle Tote by Amanda Silveira. (Free pattern) Uncomplicated but still interesting thanks to the cables. And it is felted, and we all know how much I like felting!

For something a little more detailed, the Bee’s Knees purse by Andre Sue is pretty fantasic. Love the pockes and the stitch patten, the straps are nice and wide, and a fun liner fabric can do a huge amount to make it extra exciting and fun (while still being fashionable and untacky). The only think I’m not in love with is the garter stitch for the handle, but that is easily changed.

This DROPS design Bag with cable pattern (free pattern) is pretty simple and I think could be nice if done in a solid colour. It is a pattern I keep coming back to but for some reason I just don’t think it is right for me personally. Maybe it is the shape.

This Pleats Purse I by Josephine Woo (paid pattern) is pretty, felted, and interesting with the pleats. I also LOVE the mustard colour of the purse in the project photos and it is possible I’m responding more to the colour than I am to the purse design.

One pattern I keep coming back to is The Cinch by Nora J. Bellows. Part of me thinks it is too big and bulbous, but man… I just love how it looks. The belted detail adds so much and would be well worth the hassle of having to buy the hardware and do the extra work to finish it. The pattern is a bit pricey at $8.50, but very possibly may be worth it for me.

 

But then I think, hey, a purse is just a big pocket with some straps… maybe I can design my own! And that may very well be what I end up doing. I do like all the above options (especially Bee’s Knees), so maybe I can take the different elements I like from the different patterns and create a brand new design that exactly matches what I want in a purse. It isn’t like designing a sweater where fit matters. Its just a purse, after all. And this is knitting. If it ends up ugly I can always frog. 🙂

 

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post: