Nath Knits

and should probably be doing something else.


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How’d it get to be mid-November already??

I know, I know. At my last post, I said I’d give you an update, and then I vanished for another week. Turns out I got another Spinrite assignment with a completely ridiculous deadline, so I had to spend all my spare time knitting. So what have I been doing?

Last time I posted, it was October 21 and the trees were all pretty. Today, the trees are bare. However, we got substantial snowfall last night, and the world was beautiful when I looked out the window this morning. In between, it was dreary and wet. Bleh.

There was Halloween! I made Zebula’s costume from a former bridesmaid dress generously donated by K. I’m inordinately proud of the job I did. I started with this:

Notice the row of rhinestones at the top of the bodice.

I took the entire thing apart, and picked out the seams, so that I’d have all the pieces as large as possible. The rhinestones turned out to be a ribbon, which was neat. I kept everything, included the zipper, and through a combination of blind faith and eyeballing, cut the pieces I needed and produced this:

Zebula has a completely ridiculous look on her face (I don’t remember what she was saying), but look! I sewed a workable garment! I saved myself some hemming by making the skirt pieces using the already hemmed bottom part of the skirt fabric off the original dress. I put the rhinestones at the waist. I used the zipper from the original dress. I had run out of the dress fabric and ended up making sleeves out of some pink tulle stuff from one of Zebula’s torn dress-up dresses, but since that stuff is extra flimsy, the sleeves didn’t survive the school Halloween parade. So after we got home that afternoon, I used the lining fabric to make sleeves. I’m pretty proud of it (as you may have noticed) and Zebula’s been wearing it pretty frequently since then.

I also spun stuff and plied it into actual yarn!

That’s about 400m of fingering-ish weight yarn – my spinning is far from even. I think it’s destined to be a scarf and hat for the new winter coat I bought a couple weeks ago. That little bit of roving is all that’s left. I’m sure it’ll take another two years to spin it.

There was the short-order sweater from Spinrite. I sent it off without taking a picture of it finished. But here it is, blocking:

The wool was Patons Classic Wool, which was very well suited for the cables. I wasn’t crazy about the colour, but the sweater was really nice to work on. I had less than two weeks to work on this one, and just squeaked it in.

Zebula’s hat got finished:

Sadly, I ran out of yarn. There really should be another stripe before the rolled brim, since you can’t really see the snowflake pattern when Zebula is wearing it. Also, the picture got taken and uploaded before I realized that she had the jog from the circular colour changes right in the middle of her forehead.

I’ve been working on the Yosemite, but I had to put it down in frustration. It took me about four tries before I got the collar right. Then I made a sleeve, hated the way it looked when I put the sweater on, and put the whole thing in the naughty corner.

And then I got my latest Spinrite project. I hastily accepted it when it was offered to me on Nov. 7th. I was told that it was due on the 17th (10 days for 7 small socks. No sweat). Then when I got the yarn on the 10th (since the 7th was a Friday), I realized it had to be couriered off on the 14th for it to get back to the office on the 17th, which is a Monday (4 days for 7 socks! Aiee!) I tried my best, but then asked for an extension at the last minute and got one, squandered my time, and ended up staying up late to finish off the last sock anyway. I sent them off this morning.

The yarn is YĆ¼nteks Alize. It’s a wool and nylon yarn with an elastic core. Makes nice stretchy socks, but it’s really hard to get gauge – I ended up using 3.75mm needles for a yarn that looked like it needed a 2.5mm. My next project from Spinrite is coming on Thursday – a shrug made from Alpaca and Bamboo. Should be very soft, whatever the pattern might be.

I’ve also started some undies. Yep! Apparently, the KW chapter of the Red Cross is 100 years old this year, and to celebrate, they’ve asked for volunteers from the Guild to knit war patterns from the 40’s. Stuff for the men and women who were serving, mostly socks and hats and the like. But one pattern for “ladies’ knickers”. I leapt at the chance. They’re ridiculously small (the waist, stretched, will measure 28 inches in circumference), but fun to work on.

And in among all that, the consumption of entirely too many mini-chocolate bars, a short-lived cold, a ‘book’ club meeting, a visit to Toronto with the kids on the train, and the beginning of a paint job that I’m doing in 1.5 hour increments while Vorlon is in preschool. Oh, and there was a Guild meeting last week with some demos on drop spindling. I think I want a drop spindle for my birthday. Just what I need. Another hobby.

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Dye!

I know, it’s been forever. I have lots to tell you, but first I have to get organized. To tide you over, I present my first yarn dye job.

About a month ago, I ordered four sock blanks from Knit Picks. The idea was for each member of the family to dye one and I would make socks out of the result. Yesterday was a PD day, and the weather promised to be bad, so I thought I’d seize the opportunity. After running errands in the morning, and watching the kids frolic in the ‘fountain park’ close to our house (since the weather in the morning turned out to be gorgeous), we went home, had lunch, and set to work. While at the grocery store in the morning, the kids and I picked out our colours – we used packets of unsweetened Kool Aid (or the no-name equivalent). Sadly, the selection was not great, so there were no blues or greens, but everybody was happy with their selection.

The sock blanks are lengths of two strands of sock yarn machine knitted together. The idea is to dye the blanks, and then knit both socks at the same time straight from the blank. Dr. Thingo was incredulous: “Wait, you’re going to take a knitted piece of yarn and un-knit it and knit it up into socks??”

First, we soaked the yarn for about an hour. Then we blotted out most of the water by rolling them up in a couple towels like a giant jelly roll and letting the kids walk and jump on it. We mixed each colour into one of those plastic drinking boxes (after removing the straw) and about a cup of water. Shake, shake, shake. Lay out the sock blank on some plastic wrap, and go crazy with the colour.

After you’ve covered the blank to your satisfaction, you roll it up in the plastic and put it in a microwave safe dish.

Nuke it for about two minutes. Let it rest for a couple minutes, and then nuke it for another two minutes. Let cool for a while, until it’s cool enough to handle. Unwrap, wash it (I used Kookaburra wool wash), then dry.

It’s easy, non-toxic, and you don’t need mordant because there’s plenty of citric acid in the Kool Aid to set the dye. Gloves are recommended, but not crucial.

And one of the kids’ favourite part of the process was to drink the leftovers. After I put sugar in it (even I’m not that mean).

And the results aren’t that bad!

Vorlon’s is on the left (Grape, Orange, Strawberry-Kiwi and Tropical Punch), Zebula’s on the right (Grape, Strawberry-Kiwi, Cherry and Tropical Punch), and mine in the middle (Grape, Orange, and Cherry).

Surprisingly not messy and lots of fun! Dr. Thingo has to go pick his colours, and he’ll dye his blank later. Which is ok, as I now have three pairs of socks to crank out. And there’s lots of stuff coming down the pike already. More on that later.