Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Knitting is fun?

Never thought I'd hear that phrase come out of my mouth, but it's the truth. I just had fun while knitting. I just finished my Kool-Aid Twisty Twigs earflap hat and I had so much fun knitting it. I'm pretty sure this is my first knitted project EVER where swearing wasn't involved. In fact, I didn't complain about this project once. I even finished in less than a week!

Last Thursday I was having a bad day. Life got in the way and my crafting mojo was pretty much non-existant. I dyed some yarn which was pretty awesome, but I just wasn't feeling anything else. My brain wasn't exactly functioning. I have a montain of projects that need to be worked on, but I just couldn't get in the groove. I was in a bad mood and I wanted something that would cheer me up. Deciding it was time to say "screw it" to the have-tos, I grabbed my first skein of Kool-Aid yarn and got to work on the hat. It was a simple enough pattern, but also added some challenge and I could think about the hat and not life - something that I really needed. I was only going to give myself that evening to work on the hat then I'd go back to my regularly scheduled crafts.

It was so much fun showing off the way the yarn knitted up while I was at work on Friday, that I decided to keep knitting on it at lunch time. I just didn't want to put it down because with each stitch I got to see the way the colors played out. This hat was just so much fun to work on that I decided the rest could wait. I'm really glad I continued with it. I'm ready to get back to the have-tos and I don't feel nearly as burnt out. This will most likely be a Christmas present, but I still felt like I was making it for me. I should do that more often. I spend so much time making things for others, it's nice to spoil myself ;-)

actual color of the hat and detail of cables

full hat with braided ties :-)

Friday, June 18, 2010

The rainbow turtle of awesomeness

A couple of weeks ago my craft group got together at The Ceramic Place in Silver Lake. This was the beginning of the end. It's been a while since I've gone painting, and I've avoided the local place for years. I'm a die hard fan of Glazed & Amazed in Edmonds, but it was nice that I'd have to drive a ways, and make a day of it if I wanted to paint. Easier for me to not spend all my money on ceramics that way. But now I've been to the one 10 minutes from my house. This can't be good.

The first night I started painting a mermaid box for my water-themed swap box due to ship out at the end of the month. I figured this would be something unique and different for my "large item" and would be fun to paint. Of course, since I'm such a perfectionist and I usually only paint with tiny brushes, I didn't finish the box by the end of the evening. Oh darn, I suppose this means I would just have to go back and finish painting. Later in the week Valeta and I went back to finish our boxes. While I was there I decided that I knew I'd want to keep coming back so it would be good if I had a big project to work on so I didn't have to keep spending money. That's when I found the turtle. He was more than I wanted to spend, but I love turtles and he was seriously awesome and I had a vision of how cool he'd be with a rainbow shell, and now he's mine... all mine!!! Bwahahahahaha!

When I started painting the turtle, I knew it was going to take several trips, but I didn't realize just how long it really would take. Last night was the third time I've worked on him. I'm now at 7.25 hours. I've only finished the purple. Still have lots more shell to paint. I'm so happy that I have a new color to work on though. The better part of those 7 hours were with purple and only purple. I should probably point out, for those not in the know, that to get bright solid colors you need 3 layers of paint. I used a tiny brush because these lines are pretty small. It takes a long time to paint. At least next time I get to start on the blue!

the beginning of the evening - 4 hours of previous painting time

end of the evening - 7.25 hours total and I'm done with purple!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't drink the Kool-Aid (Part 2)

Dyeing was so much fun that I decided to dye again. Yesterday on my way to work I swung by Safeway for gas then decided to take a couple minutes to run into the store to pick up some coffee. While I was there it wouldn't hurt to check out their Kool-Aid selection, right? Turns out that Kool-Aid is on sale this week. Woo hoo!!! I picked up 10 packets then headed off to work. All day I thought about the wonderful ways I could dye my next batch.

As soon as I got home I got my yarn soaking - no time wasted! Learning from my previous experience I decided that I really wanted bolder color and more dye so there wasn't quite as much white. I mixed up 4 batches of color this time around. Each had a cup of water with 2 packets of Kool-Aid. Since red is the easiest route, I went with black cherry, tropical punch, cherry, and watermelon cherry. Not a whole lot of difference between shades, but wow, I love the result! I ended up with this glorious skein of bright red yarn without any white spots! Yes!!! The picture really doesn't do it justice. I can't wait for it to dry and knit with it. I think this yarn is going to end up being a gift to me :-)

The weekly challenge at Hogwarts this week is to make something found in the Chamber of Secrets. I totally turned this in as blood. I love the way my Slytherin mind works!

Two of the three skeins from my swap have now been dyed with Kool-Aid, so I decided it was time to take a break then try something new. I really have wanted to do something blue and green, but it seems like all the grocery stores I go to don't carry blue Kool-Aid. I'm not ready to start playing with acid dyes yet, so I knew the next step was going to have to be Wilton's icing colors. When I got home today I decided not to wait, dug out some sky blue and kelly green icing coloring and went for it. I used a cup of water each again and 4 colors - one solid blue, one solid green, and the other 2 a mix of the colors. I was surprised how much longer it took for the water to turn clear this time around, but it was definitely worth the wait. I'm pretty sure this is my favorite yarn EVER!!!

The most awesome yarn in the world! I decided it could be used as snake skin from the CoS. 14 points for dyed yarn!!!

This yarn is going to turn in to my first pair of knitted socks, and yes, I'm keeping it for myself. It's about time I start making things for me too, dang it! Mostly I just refuse to share the pretty pretty yarn. I could seriously stare at this picture all day. Now I just have to find the perfect pattern. I think toe-up will work the best. Maybe. I don't know. I'm totally open to suggestions too, so if you have any brilliant ideas please send them my way!

In other news... my first skein in cherry-grape finally finished drying. I dug out my yarn swift and yarn winder (first time I've had a chance to use my yarn winder) and had a blast turning my hank of newly dyed yarn into something manageable and usable. Seriously, if you don't have a yarn winder you don't know what you're missing out on. I got mine from Knit Picks and it was only $20 - well worth the investment! Who knew winding yarn could be so much fun?!?!

Here's the yarn on the swift. Swifts are pricey, but they're a total live saver! I loooooove mine :-)

Pretty yarn cake!

I couldn't wait to see how the new yarn knits up, so instead of saving it for a swap like I was planning on doing, I chose to start working on a Twisted Twigs hat that looks like it will turn into a Christmas gift for a friend. I can't believe how wonderful it's knitting up. I really like the white flecks too - it seems to make the yarn brighter. I haven't taken any pictures of it yet, so you're just going to have to wait until tomorrow to see the awesomeness.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't drink the Kool-Aid (Part 1)

I just dyed. It was amazing! I would highly recommend dyeing to anyone and everyone. I would also highly recommend saying that sentence to people that don't have a clue you're talking about yarn. I had so much fun telling my coworkers today that I couldn't wait to go home and dye after work. Now to the details...

A week or so ago I received the most amazing dyeing kit from the Try Something New swap hosted by the Odd Duck Swap Group. Angel101580 put together everything I needed to try dyeing with kool-aid, natural ingredients, and acid dyes. I've been drooling over the idea of dyeing my own yarn for so long that I finally got up the courage to do it tonight. I figured since I didn't actually buy any of this that if I screwed it up I wouldn't be out anything :-)

to-dye-for swap box

For my first attempt at dyeing I chose the Kool-Aid in crock pot method with DK weight yarn thanks to Knit Purl Gurl's tutorial. Check it out, it's awesome. Seriously. Anyway, you start out by letting the yarn presoak in a water/vinegar bath while the crock pot heats up.

waiting for it to heat up... and waiting some more... damn, now I'm craving spaghetti

Then you mix up the Kool-Aid in some hot water. I started out with just over a cup of water in each measuring cup: one with a packet of cherry, the other with a packet of cherry and grape (since grape is supposed to be more of a grey/purple color).

ooooh pretty colors!

Once it's all mixed and ready to go, just dump the dye where you want it in the crock pot. I realized that I didn't mix up enough dye, so I quickly made a batch of just grape and poured it in as well.

just poured the dye in.

Then it was time to wait some more. It took about 45 minutes for the water to turn clear, and that's how you know it's ready. In all the research leading up to this project, I kept seeing that was supposed to happen, but when I dipped my spoon in and saw the clear water I was still shocked!

yay for clear water!

I unplugged the crockpot, let it cool so the yarn could be handled, and hung up the yarn to dry overnight in the shower. I think it took about 2 hours or so from start to finish. Not bad :-)

I definitely have some white spots, but I like the way they look so it's all good

an overall view of the yarn - not colors I'd normally choose, but I LOVE it!

Now it's time to wait again. I'm just itching to knit something with it, but I have no idea what the heck I'm going to do. Of course I chose to dye DK weight yarn... I never use DK weight. Maybe a scarf or mitts or something. As always, I'd prefer to crochet, but I don't think that would show off the awesomeness of the yarn enough. We'll see what happens. Maybe I'll just wind it up and stare at it and pet it. That would make me happy too!

This isn't the fastest way to dye yarn, and it certainly isn't the way to do it if you want to control where the colors end up, but I had a great time dyeing in the crockpot. Once I learned to relax and stop staring at it every five minutes I was actually able to do some other crafting while I waited. For the first time in almost a year I got back to my chainmail jewelry. A while ago the mail carrier at work asked for a silver, green, and blue shaggy bracelet and this is what I came up with for her.

I just love shiny jingly things!

A special thanks to vberry for sending me dyeing tips and tricks, and just being an awesome friend :-)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Knitting is like childbirth

Ok, so I don't have children, I've never given childbirth, and my comparison is a bit of a stretch, but just give me a chance to explain.

I hear the same story from everyone I know who has multiple children. The first pregnancy happens and it's a wonderful thing. She has a baby growing inside her! Yay! Then the baby is due and she can't wait to get this #(*(@#^ blessing out of her. Time to give birth and lots of pain is involved. Soon enough there's this awesome new person and it's all worth it (well, until they turn into teenagers but that's a whole other story). A couple of months or years or whatever goes by and it's time to have another baby. By then most of the pain is forgotten. This chunk of time has passed and she has this awesome kid to show for it, so why not do it again, right? Then the cycle starts all over including the pain and the new added question of "Why am I doing this again? Why didn't I remember the pain? Omg what am I DOING?!?!?!" Of course she's past the point of no return, she gives birth, and yay there's a new baby and this one is awesome too. It's a vicious circle.

Here's the part where it relates to knitting. As we all know, knitting isn't my favorite thing to do (check out yesterday's post if you don't believe me). On occasion I get it in my head that I want to start a new knitting project. I'll find a pattern that is all kinds of awesome and amazing and I'll know that I can't achieve the same thing by crocheting (feel free to make your own knit-to-baby comparison here). I'll get my needles out and new yarn and cast on and I'll be happy - much like the pregnancy glow. After a while we enter the baby due-date section of knitting which is where I start swearing about "if I crocheted this I would freaking be done by now!!!" Then there's the birth where I just want to get the thing done and back to my other projects and wondering why I ever learned to knit in the first place and what the hell is wrong with me. Then it's over. I cast off and I have this beautiful new knitted item that I love. The pain is still fresh I know know I'm never going to knit anything again. Of course, a couple of days weeks or months pass and I get the hankering to knit again. Again, a vicious circle.

The reason I'm bringing this up now is that I finished my Beauxbatons fingerless mitts last night and I love them and they're amazingly awesome and I hate that I have to give them away in a swap. But I swear I'll never knit again. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have agreed to make a pair for my boss :-/

At this point the "glow" is gone and I know I could have finished them by now. Just put the thumb stitchs on spare cables.

Finished the main portion of knitting, just have to go back and add on thumbs. Do they really need thumbs? Can I stop knitting now????

Allllllllllllmost done! I completely finished one mitt, and all I have to do is weave in the ends and turn up the hems on the other mitt.

All done! Yay! I'm never freaking knitting again. Well, at least not until next time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fingerless Mitts of Doom

A couple months ago I signed up for the Triwizard Tournament Swap with my Hogwarts Swappers group on Ravelry. It sounded awesome at the beginning - something to represent each of the schools involved in the Triwizard Tournament. As soon as I started chatting with my partner and got a sense of the things she liked and the projects she likes to make, I thought I had brilliant ideas of what to make. Silly me, it didn't even occur to me that I only chose knitting projects.

To represent Durmstrang I knitted a Star Crossed Slouchy Beret and cussed the entire time. The cables didn't seem to even out for me, but at least the finished product looked good. Hats just aren't my thing. I think my spoilee will like it though - she said she loves slouchy hats :-)

 Check it out! The hat fitts on a balloon!

Bella the slouchy hat model. She doesn't looked too thrilled, but at least she's cute!

For Hogwarts I'm sending a project kit for Go Gryffindor Socks. I'm just happy that I don't have to knit them!

Last but not least, we come to the fingerless mitts of doom. That's what I'm working on this weekend. I just put the thumb stitches on spare cables and now it feels like I'm trying to knit with an octopus. It's crazy. The pattern is Susie's Reading Mitts and I'm making them to represent Beauxbatons. I thought they'd be quick and easy - that's what the pattern and other ravelry users told me anyway. Turns out they lied. I didn't realize there'd be hemming. Arg. I think they're going together faster than the Triforce Mitts I made recently, but not by much. I just want to finish them. Maybe the "quick and easy" comment was for more experienced knitters. Thanks to my "anything you can do, I can do better" mentality, I didn't even think about the extra time they'd take for me. Maybe I should go back to knitting instead of blogging.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Back to Blogyness

I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted here, and I'm sorry to say that I don't have any pictures to share, but I feel like it's important to make the announcement that I'm back!

Yesterday it occured to me that I really need to focus on the important things in my life, and obviously crafting is my passion. It's time to really do something about it. Today I'm planning on getting a chunk of my fingerless mitts done that I've been working on for a while, and I want to get a start on designing my new doll pattern. Today looks to be a very productive day. It also helps that I've loaded my Netflix instant queue with lots of Buffy... she can kick vampire butt while I take on my goals list. Woo hoo!