Yarn Shrink, Rethink

It’s been three and a half years since RSI set in and I had to give up knitting. In that time I’ve culled a quarter of the garments I made because they no longer fit well, partly because I grew, and partly because they shrank despite gentle, careful washing. So far this year I’ve culled three more garments for the latter reason. I really hadn’t worn them that much, so it’s disappointing.

And that got me thinking that if I was still knitting now, I’d be much more choosy about the yarn I made my clothes out of. But then I remember how I used to be intimidated by using expensive yarns in case I wasted them on a bad design, and that knitting was as much about enjoying the process as having a garment to wear a the end of a project.

Taste and fashions change, too.

Then there was the little discovery I made about the Paua Shell Ruanna. The green and black yarns I used are machine washable. The blue is not – or it is not as machine washable. The result is a slight shrinkage of the blue stripes, despite the fact that I’ve only washed it twice. It doesn’t bother me, but it is a mistake I don’t want to make again.

So in the spirit of learning and moving on, I’ve had a more critical look at my stash. Sure enough, I’d matched machine washable and non-machine washable yarns for a couple of other projects. I’ve now added the info to my stash spreadsheet, designated those yarns for other projects, and even shuffled the stash into tubs for ‘feltable’ and ‘non-feltable’ yarn.

From now on any garments and hats I make will use machine-washable yarn. But since most of what I weave isn’t garments and hats, that’s not a big change. I have a few projects in the to-do list for the Bond Sweater Machine, though. All but one use machine-washable yarn, thankfully. I just have to rethink one project.

Beanie a Long Time

Back in 2010 I started knitting a fair isle vest out of Patonyle sock yarn. I got to the armpits and discovered it was too small for me, so I cast off and set the piece of fabric aside. Since then I’ve toyed with plans to make a bag, a hood style hat, and finally, this:

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It was really just a matter of using a beanie I already had as a template, overlocking the edges and sewing the halves together.

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I used some of the waste yarn to make a pom pom. This is the only time I’ve put one on a hat. I’m not 100% convinced I like it, but I don’t dislike it enough to take it off again.

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This was a WIP that had been around so long it fell off the WIP list and wound up on the To-Do list again. But now it’s done, and I feel more satisfaction at that than how it turned out. Though I do think it worked out alright, and I’d have hated to waste all the hours of knitting that went into it.

Mental Cull

A little while ago I had to go to Ravelry to check on the meterage of some yarn. I visit less and less these days, though it is still a very useful site. Sometimes, though, the sight of knitting makes me sad. (Which is a bit unfortunate when well-meaning friends send me pics or links to articles about knitting, not realising that it can feel like rubbing salt in the wound.)

Looking at my queue, I decided to delete all the projects I’d lined up for knitting machines. Then I culled the favourites back to patterns I’d made or projects I’d seen that I still thought were amazing. Then I trimmed the friends list – some I no longer recognised, some I only followed for the knitting, and some whose blogs I now follow in Bloglovin’ instead. The forums were next – down to a handful of weaving and machine knitting ones. Finally I took out all the books I’d given away from the library.

Basically, I had a big mental cull.

At the same time, I marvelled, as I always do, at how great Ravelry is. It’s still a useful and fun place to be even though I’m only weaving now. I really admire how user-friendly and intuitive the interface is. The creators did – and are still doing – a brilliant job.

Test results came through a few days ago and I’m immensely relieved to learn I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis. I don’t have the symptoms for carpal tunnel, either. But the RSI is bad enough all on its own. I’m supposed to be back at work next week, and I don’t feel I’ve recovered nearly enough for it. It’s going to be… interesting.

Long-suffering Stash

My poor stash. It’s been ignored lately, which is a pity because it’s a nice stash. Several bouts of culling have eliminated most of the so-so yarns, leaving plenty of nice ones. But the majority was bought for a purpose it won’t be put to, since I can’t knit or crochet it, so I’m considering what to do with it instead.

Back when I was able to knit I used to do a big photo of all of my stash every six months or so, label it in Photoshop and write a post about what I wanted to do with it. Doing this often inspired me, either by showing yarn combinations I hadn’t thought of, or reminding me of projects I really wanted to do. I haven’t done that in ages, so maybe it’s time I did again.

My stash has been stowed up in the top of the craft room wardrobe since we moved in, and barely been touched since.

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A quarter of those boxes don’t contain knitting or weaving yarn. One of the small ones contains embroidery yarn, another perle cotton for inkle weaving, and a third has ‘craft yarn’ warp for rya rugs. One of the big boxes holds macrame jute and another has little leftover balls and labels from past projects.

Once upon a time these boxes were bursting with knitting yarn, and I had a couple of storage boxes of yarn hiding beneath the day bed, too. Of the knitting yarn that’s left maybe 20% is from frogged garments. How has it shrunk so much? Well, while there was a lag between giving up knitting and not buying yarn for it, eventually the urge to splurge did fade. Yarn was used or culled.

I might not be able to knit, but can still weave. I’ve photographed my stash again and initially wrote a rather long post. For ease of reading I’m dividing it into two posts, which will follow this one. Stay tuned…

Shade Card Pom Poms

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Thanks to moving house, preparing the old for sale, lots of unpacking and DIY at the new one, and work, I’ve now got a big flare up of RSI in my hands. And week before the work deadline. Sigh.

I’d been so looking forward to getting past the deadline and finally having time for some craft. Now I’m resting my hands (I shouldn’t be typing this), dying of boredom and my main form of creativity right now seems to be trying cocktail recipes (only one a night, mind you, unless Paul wants one).

Yesterday I tidied up the craft room a little. Looking at some of the stuff in my refashion/repurpose piles, I came upon the leftover shade cards from my Yarn Shade Card Blanket. I got to wondering if I could turn them into pom poms. It seemed like it would be very quick and not too fiddly, so I gave it a go. Lo and behold, it worked.

Two things I found worth noting: cable yarns don’t form fluffy pom poms, and wool yarn doesn’t seem to be as good as cotton at staying in a tight knot.

Not only did I have leftovers, but new cards that had become obsolete (or contain mohair, so I won’t be buying the yarn) since I made the blanket. Plenty to choose from:

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I cut away all the paper except a narrow strip where the yarn was attached:

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Then I rolled it up:

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Into a nice little coil:

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I tied it twice, flipping it over for the second knot, as tight as I could manage:

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Then I pushed the string to the centre and trimmed off the paper strip:

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A gave it a haircut to even up the strands:

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Success!

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But the mix of colours on a Bendigo Woollen Mills sample card tend to divide into pastels and darker colours, which don’t always go together well. I decided to try cutting up the cards and combining similar sets of colours:

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And that worked, too!

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Which is great, because some of the sample cards are of novelty yarns that aren’t going to make good pom poms. I can combine them with other yarns…

… when my hands recover. Even this small, fast project left me sore. I can see a long, boring, craftless summer ahead.

Two Cardy Refashions

I’ve had this post waiting for a few last pics for some time now…

Back at the beginning of the year, I decided Purple needed to become a cardigan:

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This involved cutting it down the front. I sewed a zig-zag on the machine, either side of the stitches I wanted to cut, then took a deep breath and snipped:

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It languished in the bottom of my knitwear adjustment basket until its turn came. I simply picked up stitches along the raw edge behind the zig-zag and got knitting.

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I have no idea why I chose a 2×2 rib. It wasn’t until I got to the second band that I thought about it. But it works. I crocheted over the raw, zig-zagged edge on the inside as an extra precaution against unravelling.

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The only detail that gives the refashion away is that the neckband is usually knit onto the edge of the button bands. This is the other way around. Let’s call it a ‘design feature’, eh?

I’ve worn this quite a bit since the refashion, which I’d say makes it a winner.

The next refashion was easier – simply to add another band of ribbing to the Gift Yarn Jacket as it just didn’t look finished enough to me:

So this:
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Became this:
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And this:
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Looks like this:
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Which took some months, but was done in time for winter at least. I prefer the second way of wearing it, though I haven’t yet worn it since doing the refashion.

Craft WIPs

Tapestry Bracelet – Abandoned
I went off the boil with this project. The trouble is, though I’ve sewed in the ends, the flower yarn is slippery enough that they worked their way out again. And it’s was such slow work. This is about five or more hour’s worth. Zzzznore!

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Art Necklace – in hiatus
I was going to fill the frames with little paintings of eyes and ears and mouths, then after I started embroidering I got the itch to stitch something instead. But I couldn’t think of a subject. Lately I’m thinking photos of my ancestors might be better – and much faster.

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Double Trouble Baby Blankets – picking up again
Inspired by a weaving group meeting on multiple projects on one warp at the Guild, I cut a warp for two baby blankets late March. I lost momentum for this project for a little while, but resumed warping a few weeks ago. Last weekend I finally finished and started weaving. I’d really like to give one of the blankets to a friend who had a baby in April.

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Two Heddle Leno Scarf – established
Another project inspired by the weaving group, after a meeting in which we explored bead leno. I got to thinking that bead leno should be possible on the rigid heddle loom if it had two heddles. Well, I didn’t manage to do bead leno, but worked out a way to do doup leno with tabby between.

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Gift Yarn Jacket Modification – current tv project
Adding another band of ribbing to this:

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Eye Embroidery – poised to begin
The skull was a great ongoing brainless portable project that I could pick up while watching tv or work on while travelling. Now that it’s done I’ve got this eye ready to go.

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Knitwear Refashions, Part 1

A month ago I decided to tackle the refashioning pile. I’ve posted about some of the sewing refashions I finished, but I actually tackled some of the knitwear first. One of the projects is taking a long time, since I can only knit a few rows now and then, so I’m abandoning my plan to do one knitwear refashion post so I can show you what I’ve done so far:

Sunrise Circle Jacket
Before:

After:

Because the garment has raglan style sleeves, and I wanted to use the same sort of hem on the arms as on the rest of the garment, I could only frog back to a short sleeve rather than sleeveless. I’ve added extra large decorative hook and eyes that have been in my sewing notions stash for twenty or so years. I like the change but I will have to see if I wear it now before I decided if I’m happy with it.

Cowly Vest
Before:

After:

It’s a little hard to see the change, but trust me, the vest sit better. After removing the triangles joining the shoulders I put the garment on the dress model, with the underarm about where it needed to be, and discovered a very simple solution: fold the front and back over each other and stitch into place. Very pleased with this one.

Olive Wrap Vest

On closer examination I decided a woven shawl would be nicer, so I frogged it.

I also frogged this:
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I’d outgrown it a while ago and made three attempts to add width to the front that all looked crap. I decided I didn’t want to send it to the op shop. I like the yarn, and I’m thinking of taking out the rocket needles to make another chunky scarf.

I wound up with quite a bit of frogged yarn:

All which I washed and hung to dry and straighten, wound into balls and added to to the stash.

There’s something appealing about frogged yarn, especially when it has gone slightly felty. It’s more rustic, and more honest. Some washing and wear and you see its true self, and hopefully what you knit with it won’t change any further.

Dyeing Day

After making so much progress last Saturday, I was keen to do more on the Sunday. But my back was a bit stiff from hunching over the sewing machine so I decided to do something that didn’t involve sitting down. It was warmer and dry, so I decided it was Dyeing Day. Items on the list:

Dye poncho-shawl
Overdye socks I don’t wear much

The first project I tackled was converting this poncho my parents bought for me on a holiday to something a bit more my style.

These days I want my knitwear to be easily removed, preferably not over my head, and bulky white garments make my body look huge and my head tiny. Thankfully the two pieces of the poncho were easily unpicked. I sewed them together end to end to make a shawl on Saturday. Now I just had to dye it. For that I needed dye for synthetics, which I found at Lincraft.

There was a lot of shawl to dye, so I decided to dip dye the ends. I tied a string to the rail of the deck above and made loops to adjust the height. The instructions for the dye said to boil the item in the dye bath for half an hour to an hour, stirring constantly. The stirring was vital – at one point I let it go still for too long and the end of a piece of fringe began to melt. I don’t think I kept it up for an hour – more like half an hour.

Look at that strong colour! The instructions warned that not all synthetics dye well. Unfortunately, the shawl must be one of those kinds, as didn’t turn that wonderful blue. But the pale lavender it did change to is nice enough. Which is why I chose blue. No matter how pale or strong it turned out, I’d still like it.

It dried even lighter than that. Oh well.

Next I set about overdying four pairs of socks I don’t wear much because the colours don’t match much in my wardrobe. I used trusty Landscape dyes and it was satisfying, after the shawl, to see the wool suck in the colour. Here are the socks, back when they were fresh off the needles:

And here they are now:

Almost like having new socks. Almost.

Later in the day I did another Accessory project which I included in this post at first, but it looked odd so I’ve made that one a separate post.

Score for the day: 3 projects finished. One category defeated! Yaaaay! I wondered if I should eke out these posts, as I suddenly have a lot of them after a couple of months of not much happening here, but I like the diaryish feel of this blog that lets me look back on what I was doing at different times in the past, and so it may as well reflect the droughts and floods in my crafty life right now.

Yarn Shade Card Blanket

I’ve been receiving shade cards from Bendigo Woollen Mills for quite a few years now – since 2006 if the shade cards I’ve collected are any indication. When the new one arrives I can’t bear to throw away the old one, or the shade cards for yarns they stock temporarily once the yarn is discontinued. Those little fringes of yarn are just too pretty. I’ve always wanted to come up with a way to repurpose them, maybe as greeting cards. Well, greeting cards for knitters.

A while ago I gathered them together and found I had enough for larger projects. I could cover a scarf or bag in multicolour fringe. I just needed fabric or a bag to cover, so it went on the craft to-do list.

When I measured how much fringe I could make last week, in preparation for the weekend, I realised I could go even bigger. I could surround a small blanket. Two blankets, even. But if I stuck to the standard shade card where the fringe is all the same width I had enough to go around a meter square.

I bought polar fleece and iron on adhesive tape.

The first task was to iron the tape onto the fringe, on the side attached to the card.

Then cut down the centre of the tape and carefully peel the fringe off the card.

Once I had all the fringe off the cards, I applied the first piece to the blanket, peeling the backing strip off the tape…

… and ironing the edge of the blanket to it.

Then I sewed the fringe to the blanket with a wide, short zig-zag.

But I found this made the edge curl, so I cut it off, and discovered that the removed fringe straightened out. So I attached the rest of the fringe to an off-cut of polar fleece instead, which I cut off…

… then sewed this to the blanket with a longer wide zig-zag.

I’m really happy with how it came out.

Hopefully the adhesive and two runs of zig-zag is enough to keep the fringe in place. It seems well attached, though I haven’t tried giving it a good yank.

I have some fringe left, and plenty more shade cards, so maybe a shade card scarf will go on the next craft to-do list.