Sunday, July 12, 2009

newest knitting project: rainbow scarf II

I began this project a little while ago, but it lacked color. A quick trip to King Soopers supplied me with enough Kool-Aid to create something that would be remarkable. Into the crockpot went silk and wool, and out came deep red, pink and purple rovings. I paired this with some other yarn I had spun and dyed, and viola! The pattern is a basic sock turning pattern, carried continuously over a flat piece of fabric. This is one of my preferred ways of doing scarves, as it allows me to create a unique piece with yarn that would otherwise be left unused, taking up space in my already too-large stash.
I will post the finished object on here as well.
This project helps me celebrate texture in a unique way; I really enjoy the visual effect the short rows have on the fabric, and ultimately you never know what you're going to come out with. This is a great way to get rid of scrap yarn, and it really lets the yarn talk.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cats and spinning wheel

Achilles, he likes to play with yarn. This is Gandhi the Spinning Wheel.

Max, and more of Gandhi

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This scientist has knitting on the brain

You have to read this article. I thought I had knitting on the brain, but this scientist actually does. I gues this just goes to prove that knitting can become anything. I have heard stories about scientists knitting up DNA and replicas of other body parts, but this just takes the cake. Knitty features a knitted uterus pattern; I'm sure that people have come up with hearts and other such things. The bottom line is, we don't just have to limit ourselves to sweaters and scarves, but can make literally anything if we put our minds to it. I posted some pictures on here a while back of a motorbike that had been attacked by a crochet hook and some pure ingenuity. I admire these artists. This truly takes a lot of talent and creativity. Just wanted to share this with y'all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Things to eat while knitting: brown cow yogurt

For anyone who hasn't tried this, it is amazing! I rarely get excited about yogurt, but this is quite literally the cream of the crop. I don't know if its the Jersey cow featured on the label or the fact that it says "cream top" but everyone should try this, it is truly amazing! And it pairs perfectly with some nice yarn and granola (yarn is separate). I'm was never a big breakfast or yogurt eater, but this has changed my whole perspective on that. Seriously, you need to try this.

Monday, July 6, 2009

On feminism and knitting

The photo to the left reads "We will not raise our children to kill another mother's child," and is comprised of 4,000 knitted pink and green squares, unfurled by Code Pink in front of the White House. It is a testament to the kind of statement and impact knitting can have on the world.
Face it, girls: you don't always look like the radical feminist when sporting 2 needles and a ball of yarn. What gets me is when people ask, "are you expecting?" Or "who are you making that for?" As if we lack the independence to make things for ourselves; I am a self-proclaimed selfish knitter. 90% of my projects are for me, and I see nothing wrong with that. If I'm going to put that kind of time and energy into something, I might as well reap the benefits of it. Now, I do make things for other people, don't get me wrong here, but I do a fair amount of self-knitting.
And what's with knitting and babies? I understand that there is a lot of knitting that needs to be done when a baby is about to arrive; there are blankets and bonnets and booties and sweaters and all kinds of things that will drive people to don needles, but it isn't always about that. 85% of the population seems to disagree with me, however.
Knitting, I believe, is about liberation. It is about taking a step away from the stresses of your daily life and creating something; it is about liberating your creative self, letting it grow and prosper. Its about liberating yarn, needles and time, freeing up space in your closet, in your life for... you. No matter who the finished product is for, knitting is about the knitter. I have made sweaters full of love, and scarves filled with tears. Throughout my life, knitting has been there as the silent listener, the great liberator, the best friend. Stitches listen but do not judge; knitting for me has always been a meditation. It can be a very powerful act.
The act of creating something is always a statement. It fills a void of otherwise unused time with creativity, energy, passion. In times, it has been a social statement, a rebellion against oppression, in other times, it is to celebrate peace. Knitting is powerful. Feel powerful when you knit.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First-ever handspun sweater!

What began as mere green and pink roving has become a sweater! My first handspun sweater is a success! I started the design process as a quest to come out with the perfect cardigan-- I wanted something that didn't require a whole lot of seaming, no zippers or buttons, and something that would allow me to showcase the beauty of my handspun yarn. The result was knitting across, and then adding stitches for the front. I made a hole so that I could tie the sweater in back, having a double-breasted effect. One of the other benefits of the ties, is that I can tie both of the fronts in back to have just my back covered.
I used traditional raglan sleeves, as these would give me the shape I so desired. I didn't cast off when I decreased for these; instead I placed the stitches on a yarn holder so that I could later pick them up to make a hood. After completing the sleeves, I attached these to the body of the sweater and combined the stitches to make for a hood. The hood adds to the line of the garment. I'm a big fan of hoods, as they allow you to not have to wear a hat.
I am very pleased with this project. The colors are beautiful, and the design is exactly what I wanted.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My newest handspun

This is the product of being sick at home and having extra white rovings and too many packets of kool-aid. What's really cool about kool-aid is that you can make it work for you whatever way you want it to. I satruated the dyepot with this, doing "layers" of color. This is one of my preferred methods, as it gives you a lot of different shades and colors. Usually the dye will sink to the bottom, allowing for many different shades throughout the dyepot. I will post more pictures on here once I decide what to do with the yarn.

Friday, July 3, 2009

When I grow up, I'm going to be a sweater!

What started as kool-aid dyed roving is now in the final stages of sweaterhood. I used Paradise Fibers 64 Count Merino and their Mulberry Silk. The merino spun very nicely, and the Mulberry Silk was a bit different. I noticed that one end or the other of the broken roving drafts better. I spun everything fairly tight, but, as I am a novice spinner, the yarn came out thick and thin. As I used 2 different colors, I wanted the pattern to reflect the beauty of the yarn, so I chose to do a wrap-around raglan cardigan. I am just beginning on the sleeves, and have yet to add a hood or collar to it, but this is my most current project. It has been truly a joy to design and knit. I've had quite a bit of help from Stitch n' Bitch: A knitter's design journal. I strongly suggest this book or something like it for anyone who wants to try design out. As this is my first handspun, hand-dyed sweater, I'm very excited for it to come off my needles.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


While you shouldn't eat this while knitting, this is an awesome recipe for the knitter who needs sustained energy. It is great for those long stretches while knitting dozens of pairs of socks for the holidays, or when you're racing to finish a sweater for the winter.
Here's what you'll need:
dried fruit, such as currants, cherries, cranberries or raisins
nuts- preferrably roasted, I used almonds
chocolate (duh)
Put all ingredients in food processor and process until all ingredients are in smallish chunks. Place in bowl or plastic bag, and enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Things to eat while knitting: Pasta with spinach- cream sauce

I came up with this recipe after coming off an addiction to alfredo sauces, so I decided to make my own.
You'll need:
8 ozs. pasta
3/4 c milk
2 tbsp cream cheese
handful of spinach
handful of green peas
1 tomato
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of pepper

Cook pasta until done, and drain.
To make sauce: Pour milk into saucepan with everything else and heat until cream cheese has incorporated with milk. Season with spices, and pour over cooked pasta. Mix and enjoy.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How knitting can change the world

While doing community outreach for a nonprofit organization, I ran into someone passing out cards with an equation for finding the carbon footprint for the things you can buy on it. Basically, they compiled it down to a few numbers and you did an equation to figure out how much habitat you would save by not purchasing something.
It then occurred to me just how much energy I was saving by making the scarves and sweaters and potholders, better yet, how much energy I was saving by using a spinning wheel to make the yarn.
This is just one example of how knitting can change the way things are going for our environment but, more importantly, knitting brings many different people together from all different walks of life. Knitting circles are an integral part of any community, as they are where people from many different backgrounds are drawn together and share stories, ideas and thoughts. It is said that in the nuclear age, dialogue is one of the most important contributors to peace and prosperity.
Copyright (C) 2009 Sara LeMaster

Knitting on the bus

As much as I love kipping, it does get excessive when people just want to know what you're doing. I've had people ask whether I was doing cross-stitch before when I clearly had a pair of bamboo needles in my hand and was working with bulky yarn; other times people just want me to make a sweater for them or finish an Afghan that a great aunt or grandma never got the chance to finish.
What I'm trying to get at here, is the fact that it never seems to occur to people that this is my quiet time: I'm knitting because I need to think, to meditate, to draw on conclusions to the questions that life brings me. Knitting is a release, more than anything.
Yarn spans the roads of my life-- I would knit in the car on road trips with my dad, on airplanes to different cities, it is woven into my spiritual life like thick wheft. So, naturally, my purse does not leave the house without at least 100 yars of something and 2 needles in it. However, I find it awkward when turning out a 3-foot piece which any Joe 6-pack can tell is a scarf, and then people ask me what I'm making. I never understood this.
Copyright (C) 2009 Sara LeMaster

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is WAY too goofy

These were sent to me by my friend Susan Cohn, who is in a guild in Memphis. I thought these were ridiculous.
I wish I had the free time to do this, but alas, I don't. This bike looks like its way comfortable, as all the sharp ages have been crocheted over.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rainbow-knitted scarf

"Rainbow" knitting is one of my favorite ways of getting rid of scrap yarn, or just making a scarf that gives you texture. Its also a great way to learn how to turn heels if you're a beginning sock knitter, or if you just want to expand your horizons. Here's how to do it:
1. Figure out how wide you want your scarf to be, and cast on the according stitches
2. Knit the first row.
3. Knit the second row to 2 stitches before the end. Wrap and turn by bringing the yarn to the front, slipping the next stitch, then taking the yarn to the back and slipping the stitch back on to the needle it came from (your wrapped and turned stitches will stay here)
4. Turn the work around
5. Knit the other way
6. Knit to the stitch before the stitch you just wrapped and turned, and wrap and turn this stitch.
7. Continue in this manner until you have 1 stitch left.
8. Knit the next row by knitting the first stitch, then picking up the wraps "under" the following stitches- work to end in this manner.
9. Repeat from step 2
Continue in this manner until you have reached the desired length, ending on row 8. Bind off
Copyright (C) 2009 Sara LeMaster

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to do Mosaic knitting

Mosaic knitting first intimidated me, but once I got the hang of it I found it to be really enjoyable. Its a nice way of doing colorswatch in that it keeps your tension fairly normal, and it adds shape and elasticity to knitted garments. Mosaic knitting is always done using two colors at any given time, which you can vary as you please. Here is a basic how- to for mosaic ribbing. Note that there are many mosaic knitting patterns out there, most of them using charts, but to get your feet wet you might want to try this.
1. Figure out which is going to be Color A and which is going to be Color B.
2. Knit with Color A first for 2 rows even
3. Attach Color B and knit the first stitch, then slip one, then knit the third stitch, then slip the next one and knit the fifth stitch, and so on and so forth. Do this for 2 rows. If you want a Stockinette Stitch, you will need to purl on the wrong side, but slip all slipped stitches as knit stitches with the yarn in front (to avoid twisting).
4. Pick up Color A and knit the even stitches, slipping the ones you knit with Color B. On the wrong side, continue as for step 3.

Copyright (C) 2009 Sara LeMaster

Knitted Tank top

I started this little beauty when my coworkers told me to get a drink, and I decided to do something more productive and go to the yarn store. It began the way most of my projects do--I had the right pattern, the right yarn, even the right needle size ( a stretch for me) and I began knitting it on car rides and bus rides alike. Halfway through, however, I realized I'd made a grave mistake: I didn't like it. This yarn was too beautiful to force to the bottom of my stash, and I needed a tank top for the summer. So (thank goodness my mother wasn't watching) I ripped out the hundreds of yards of bamboo and cotton and started over. I started from the bottom in the round-- I hate seams almost as much as I hate weaving in ends-- and gave it a lacy rib border, then decreased gradually to give it a loose-around-the-hips fit. once I got to the point just below the bust, I wanted to accentuate this part, as I have a fairly small chest and need all the help I can get, so I added the color I used at the bottom and worked in a mosaic rib for a few inches. This gave me the shape I wanted. For the top part of the front, I used the criss-cross top pattern, giving the piece some movement around the neckline. For the back, I just did a deepish v-neck. The finished product: something I can pair with jeans (or a skirt to be more elegant). This is absolutely gorgeous.
Copyright (C) 2009 Sara LeMaster

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Llama and the Wheelbarrow: stories from the knitting circle

There are many reasons to work at a yarn store. Discounted yarn brings lots of people; for others its the prospect of working the business side of things; others want to teach and help others, but I did so for the stories. For a young person, there's nothing more entertaining than a bunch of women sitting around trading stories. The following was told to me by "Dr. Stitch", a knitter and spinning extraordinare who had a knack for telling outlandish, real-life stories.
"We had a llama who fell head-over-heels for a wheelbarrow we accidentally left in its yard. The llama would cuddle with the wheelbarrow, try and copulate with the wheelbarrow. At one point we tried to remove the wheelbarrow from the llama's pen, but it fought us off and refused to let the wheelbarrow out of its sight. We thought the llama was just lonely, so we bought a second llama and they ended up fighting over this wheelbarrow. We got rid of the second llama, and to this day the original llama is still in love with this wheelbarrow.'

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Berry-dyed roving into yarn

This is the berry-dyed roving turned into yarn. Its a nice, muted color, perfect for matching with earthtones. One of the nice things about crockpot dyeing is that it doesn't disturb the composition of the fiber-- I've had a handful of experiences where I felted my roving because it boiled too long or I agitated it in the dyepot too much. It will be great to knit with and I'll post the pictures of the final product up here when I'm done.
Copyright (C) 2009 Sara LeMaster

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"kreading": knitting while reading

Some people watch TV while knitting, others listen to the radio; there are knitting circles for those social knitters, and for those prone to road rage in heavy traffic, some even knit while driving. I read. As someone who barely gets enough time to knit, let alone read, I have found that the combination of the two can lead to optimal relaxation. Pictured left is my latest project- a sleeve for my first handspun sweater, sitting atop the latest issue of Mother Jones. Knitting while reading may sound like a disaster waiting to happen, with enough attention to detail, it can be quite satisfying. You have to be sure to follow the pattern-- "mindless" knitting patterns such as those that have you knit 30 rows with no shaping can be the best for this. Cable patterns can also be doable, as they involve a lot of feeling the project. Lace tends to be more trouble than it's worth, as lace knitting involves lots of instructions.
Knitting while studying can be doubly productive-- I have a set of sweaters that I knit while studying for my history classes, and once, while studying for a biology test, I linked continental knitting to RNA synthesis.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dying with berries

We have all had the occasional raspberries go rancid in our fridge, and usually these make their trip to the trash or the compost pile, but you can use these for dying fiber. The color will not be as bright, but it is a great way to get earthtones, or add color to fiber you are already dying. This method involves no mordants, so I don't know what you would get with a mordant.
Step 1: Put
fruit into pot on stove with 1-2 cups water. Mash fruit with fork or potato masher and bring to boil for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Allow to cool on stove until you can work with the liquid
Step 3: Strain liquid to get rid of berries, seeds, etc.
Step 4: Pour into dyepot and add water.

Step 5: Add fiber to the dyepot in addition to 1/2 cup vinegar
Step 6: Turn heat on dyepot and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours, or until dye is absorbed.
Step 7: Rinse out fiber and allow to dry.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review: Stitch n Bitch: A knitter's design journal

As a knitter with unlimited creativity, I often will find myself starting projects, especially sweaters, and never finishing them, either because I got bored with the project, ran out of yarn or found something more interesting. While shopping for books one morning, I found this little gem, which has revolutionized my approach to design. To begin with, they give you all the formulas, models and ideas you need. In addition to this, they have troubleshooting tips, a knit gauge check and needle sizer, and scads of design pages and graph paper for all of your ideas. This is a must-buy for anyone looking to expand their horizons and try designing, for anyone who would like to move their scope of designing from "scarves and hats" to "sweaters and everything else."

Review: banana silk yarn

A little bit about Banana silk: Banana silk comes from the shedded bark of the banana tree, which is processed by women in Nepal, then spun into yarn. This gives the women a business with sustainable income, and the banana silk itself is a sustainable, renewable resource.
I purchased this yarn to make a scarf to go with a bright green raincoat. I read some reviews on the site that weren't very favorable, but decided to try it out for myself.
After working with this yarn, I discovered it is wonderful. You want to be sure to use fairly large needles, as it is a handspun yarn and prone to being thick and thin. There do tend to be some rough parts, as it is a processed cellulose fiber.
Overall, it is truly a beautiful yarn, great for beginners and knitters who want to use sustainable products.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kool-aid crockpot dying

This is one of perhaps the easiest, cleanest ways to dye fiber; many people have asked me about how I do this, so here are the basic instructions.
1. Kool Aid-- I use upwards of 5 packets of the same color
2. Crock pot-- you can use the one you already have in your kitchen, as kool aid is safe for consumption
3. water-- enough to fill the crockpot
4. fiber-- a 2-quart crockpot will dye about 5 ozs. of wool.

How to:
1. In a dry crockpot, put some kool aid along the bottom, then add fiber, then add kool aid, then add fiber, and so on and so forth, creating a "layered" crock pot.
2. Fill with water, then turn crockpot on low for 2- 2 1/2 hours, or until water is clear.
3. During last 1/2 hour, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to set dye
4. Let cool overnight.

Above is some of the fiber i have dyed using this method. If you want consistently dyed fiber, mix the kool-aid and water before adding the fiber. With this method, you can also use like colors, such as yellow and blue and green, or purple, blue and red for more color.