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.