Wednesday, January 31, 2018

More dyeing, Testing, Instruction-Writing

I spent yesterday over-dyeing the not-very-black black for the sweater. I still didn't manage to cover the red, which is frustrating. I like the blue, and I think I'll use both as is. That said, I'm not winding it up today. I'm going to focus on the pattern-writing, as I have to work out some details before I knit the prototype.

I've spent the morning working out some of the instructions for the hooded infinity scarf I have been knitting, and it's more complicated than I had realized. Of course I didn't plan to make it a pattern when I knit it up; I just wanted to make some improvements on the last hoodie, but didn't make notes. How silly; I always need this information, so why would I think I didn't? At least I have the hood still, and it's still on the needles. I made a diagram, and I can figure it out enough. If necessary, as I've learned from making a video on how to do the increases on the last hoodie I designed, I can always recreate it without knitting the entire hood -- just the part I'm concerned about.

I was all set on re-starting the swatch for the shawl for my sister, and skeined-up all of the yarn to dye it. And then I decided to delve a little deeper into the components of a shawl I thought I couldn't do, and have decided to try it out. It combines lace and garter stitch, and I'm going to test it in a solid and variegated -- solid for the lace and variegated for the garter. The solid will be similar to one of the colors in the variegated, so they will be nice together. I've been wanting to use this lace pattern for a while, and doing the swatch will help me see how it looks and if I like doing this lace pattern.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Testing Dyes, New Designs

I test-dyed the colors I want to use for the sweater, using the color-breaking as a source of my two colors. But my black yarn didn't come out black enough. I may know why, but I was feeling a bit disappointed, and stopped working on it. I have some ideas on how to make the black work. I also overdyed the  black dip-dye shibori- style. I love the way the skein looked, but I thought I'd blown it, because I didn't think there was much variation, and it seemed very dark. But today I have been knitting up a hooded infinity cowl (yeah, I'm hooked on them now), and I the colors look very tweedy. Also, since I won't have enough of the shibori-dyed skein, I'm striping it with the icy blue, and it looks amazing. It's a single row each of garter stitch, and so the colors are blending in a really beautiful way. When I run out of either, I will stripe it with the not-black I produced.

Dip-Dyed Broken Black Blue from Broken Black,
Shibori-Dyed Broken Black
Hooded Cowl using all three yarns
I have some thoughts on how to make the black work, and will try again, with smaller bits of yarn. Today, in fact, is the big yarn day, when I dye up the sweater-quantity. I'm slightly intimidated. This weekend, I also offered my sister a shawl, so I've been texting her questions like "what colors?" and "symmetrical or asymmetrical?" I pored over my shawl designs and other ideas, and sketched out something last night, and also designed the yarn for it. She wants blue-greens, with some saturation, and either asymmetrical or symmetrical. I think I'm going for a dropped-stitch piece that's asymmetrical -- something I can turn into a pattern.

I'm not finished test-dyeing it yet, so I'll show the stages tomorrow. as well as the mini-prototype.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Swatching and Mending

I didn't feel super productive yesterday, though I accomplished a few things.

First, I had some corrections to make on the hooded cowl pattern, per one of my testers. Now the instructions should be perfectly accurate -- my favorite thing. I also added photos to the pattern, so except for the video tutorial, it is probably ready to go. I'm looking for more testers, and need to make more of an effort. It's unfortunately not an easy knit, at the very beginning.

Later, I swatched my new yarns so I could see how they look knit up. I was particularly curious about the one I tied up shibori-style. I am particularly excited about the shibori version, as this technique added a lot of color depth and variety I'd not been able to achieve otherwise. I love the way the yarn looks, and would love to do this with fabric, but for now I'm working with yarn. I see using this technique to overdye other yarn to make it similar enough to work together into a shawl of leftover yarns. Having lots of leftovers in small quantities makes me a little anxious, so finding a way to dye them so that they can be used together makes me really happy.

Red-Black Shibori Double-Dipped Red Green-BlackDipped

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sweater Details Coming Together

I had a productive day, massaging the measurements in the pattern, adding interim sizes, and generally making some nice adjustments that make sense. At the end of the day (maybe too late in the day for a good night's sleep), I dyed four mini skeins. One was the avocado green I wanted to use with the black in the sweater. I also wanted to try breaking black, but to make it a warmer color, so I added a bunch of yellow.

Stranding with dip-dyed green-black
I dip-dyed this to see if it would break (it didn't), and I got a deep warm brown and a variety of greens. I also dip-dyed red, and on the pale-yellow yarn I got a very pretty range of corals. Then I dip-dyed red mixed with black (and kept adding black) to see if there would be any breaking. No. I got an orange-red. This skein will probably get the black-overdye treatment. n the other hand, the coral will probably get re-skeined and dip-dyed again in the same concentration, to add complexity and smaller color changes to the skein.
Stitch pattern swatch

This morning I had time between appointments, and I mocked up the cardigan from the first color through to the second, including the sleeves. I like it. The colors are exactly what I envisioned, but they aren't right for me. I will test an ice blue to go with the black, and put the blue on top and the black for the body of the sweater. I will test it using my broken black yarn from the other day.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Planned Color Pooling

I spent a few hours* fiddling with stitch numbers to try to get stacked pooling in the hat band. I thought it would then be easy to get the body of the hat to pool using a multiple of the hat band. But no. There are no slipped stitches in the body, and slipping probably adds a little slack between the stitches, so I got a galaxy effect. (I’m sure galaxy is the technical term...)

After so many attempts, I let it go on the body, and looked forward to whatever was going to happen on the top as I decreased. I’m not disappointed at all by the psychedelic pattern!

Yes, this started out to be a cowl, but I have quite enough cowls, and saw a pattern for a tam I liked, so I went that way instead.

As for the sweater, at some point (maybe during a walk or in the shower) I realized that I had measured the neckline and sleeve caps on sweaters I like, but I made the body to be skin-tight on me, and I want to have a bit of ease. So, back to the drawing board and Excel. I’ve made a couple of my last sweaters too tight, and while snug and tailored is dressier than baggy, I also don’t want to look as if I’ve outgrown them.

*I’m embarrassed to confess the number of hours.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Dyeing Thrills

Last night I experimented with my new Americolor Super Black, and I got a very different result from the McCormick black. This time, I added more vinegar to the dye bath when just the blue remained, which helped it adhere to the wool. Watching the progression of color uptake was fascinating, and I could see pulling the yarn out at any of the interim the stages. This dye broke a lot, and there are strands within the same sections that have more red, and some that have more blue. It is a very richly colored skein, and lovely.

I studied color theory as a design student about a million years ago, and haven't had much opportunity to make colors since then, only choose them. It's not individual colors I love so much as combinations. So, dip-dyeing colors is an unexpected thrill.

I did dye a small sample black, since I needed to see how and if that was possible. It did well, though I will be running through a lot of dye to make 400-500 yards of solid black. There is a hint of red overtone to this black.

I had to test dyes and I had to dye up and swatch my new O-Wool yarn. It turns out that washing it in the washing machine will open it up so that it will be more like a worsted-weight yarn. It measures out like a sport-weight right now. It has more sheen than other O-Wool worsteds, and it’s lovely.

I veered off course a bit by knitting up more than just a swatch. I’m knitting up another Fizzy Water Cowl, using a stitch count that pools the colors in a beautiful way. I had been playing with a two sided piece with the remaining yarn from the pair of socks I made, and the colors were stacking perfectly. (I simply doubled the number I used on my socks, which striped beautifully.) So, I did some calculations and attempted to do the same with the new colorway. Because of the stitch multiples in the fizzy water stitch pattern, I didn’t get it exact, but I did achieve this beautiful fade. Going down a needle size might have made this work, but I didn't test it out. I’m using one end of the skein for the main color, and the opposite end for the contrasting color.

I definitely want to keep playing with this dyeing technique, and keep playing with planned pooling ideas and stitch patterns that bring out the best in hand-dyed yarns.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sweaters with Impact

As a person who walks most places and who used to bike everywhere, I think a lot about what parts of the body need the most warmth, and where it needs less. I do not tolerate cold very well. But that doesn't mean it is ever too cold to go out on a winter day. I have lots of knits for that, and I don't think "too cold" is a good excuse considering the pile of knitwear I have.

I know that the head leaks a lot of heat, and keeping the neck warm is very important. For a sweater, the parts that need to be warmest are the neck, yoke, and front. So, doing slipped-stitches, garter, and stranded work up top is a good idea, and closing a cardigan at least from the neck to the chest is a good idea. The rest can be lace as far as I'm concerned.

I've had this hot pink sweater for years, ever since a friend "trash-picked" it for me.* This was a Jones of New York hand-knit sweater in single-ply bulky-weight yarn. As it's not in merino wool, I couldn't wear it comfortably as it had a high turtleneck, and it was itchy. (The only wool I can wear is merino.) Since before I was a sweater-knitter I'd wanted to remake this sweater. I finally started about a month ago, and used my new construction style, with lace below the yoke and on the lower part of the sleeves. It fits very snugly, and is great on frigid days.

This sweater will become a pattern. Once I get this current one down, this will be easier.

* We were living in a university neighborhood, where students regularly put out bags of perfectly good clothing. My friend couldn't pass up a good piece of clothing.