Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Karen Millen Inspired Cardigan

Pattern: Karen Millen Cardigan (personal pattern, inspired by RTW design)
Yarn: Alize Cashmira 100% wool, white, black and a very small quantity of red, 300 g total
Needle: 3,5 mm rib, 4 mm body
Time to knit: appr. three weeks with breaks

Gaby wanted a simple cardigan for school and liked the unostentatious and elegant geometric design of this Karen Millen block striped cardigan. I had my doubts in the course of knitting, actually at one point I was about to abandon the pattern altogether and to knit the Drops stranded cardigan that I used for the hat pattern. But now, that I see it done and worn, I'm glad I finished it and Gaby really likes it. This is how she wore it today to school (not exactly how I had planned this photosession, I would have preferred black jeans and a black top under the cardigan :)

Pictures taken in front of my Alma mater - Sofia University, today on her way back from school.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Drops Hat

I don't remember exactly how I came upon this cardigan by DROPS design, I might have been browsing through legwarmers, but the striking combination of black and white stranded knitting arrested my eyes and made me look through the projects on Ravelry. And when I saw Saviera's hat interpretation I knew I had to knit this, more so as I had just the yarn remains from Gaby's cardigan. Like Saviera, I cast on 96 sts for k1p1 ribbing, but then increased to 120 sts for the stranded design.

Pattern: Jacket 116 by Drops Design
Yarn: Alize Cashmira 100% wool in black and white
Needle: 3.5 mm rib, 4 mm body
Time to knit: 2 days

I bought a piece of black fleece to make a lining for the hat, but we still haven't got any winter here, the temperatures are well above 0 C, actually it was 11 C earlier today and the fleece would be redundant in such warm weather. The snowdrops in front of our building have blossomed! I don't remember them ever coming to bloom so early.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Old Gold

In my stash I had three balls of beige YarnArt Pure Merino, which I had bought specifically with the intention of dyeing them in yellow. At first I considered dyeing with turmeric, but after extensive reading and some experiments I can confirm, that the yellow color, gained with turmeric, vanishes when exposed to direct sunlight within a few days. So I bought a package of yellow and tobacco acid dyes for wool. And let the idea mature for a while.
Then, late on Wednesday night, having sewn the last of the buttons to Gaby's new black & white cardigan (photo session later next week), I found my hands idle and decided to unwind the yarn and prepare it for dyeing. I knew it was late, I was tired and embarking on a time-consuming and demanding task like dyeing a sweater worth of expensive yarn that late in the day would not be advisable. And then that's exactly what I did ☻!

I prewashed the yarn and soaked it in vinegar solution (1:5 approx.). Meanwhile I boiled 2 l of water in an old pot I have allotted for dyeing experiments, adding appr. 50 g of vinegar and 40 g of salt to the water.
Then I prepared three plastic containers with diluted tobacco dye, yellow dye and a mix of tobacco and yellow. Using my kitchen scales, I poured exactly one-third of each dye into three smaller disposable plastic cups.

And then I proceeded to dyeing each of the skeins individually, trying to replicate the dye distribution as exactly as possible to gain equally dyed skeins. I spread the skein on a big tin, covered with foil and  distributed the three dyes. I did not make a proper sample of the dyes and the tobacco dye turned out to be too dark and I did not like the look of it, so I made a new concentrated solution of yellow dye and added one-third of it to the hot water.

Then I placed the skein into the hot (but not boiling!) yellow water (containing vinegar, salt and yellow dye) and let it soak until the water was clear.

At all times I tried to keep the temperature of the water around 70C. When the water was clear, I transferred the skein together with the hot water into a plastic basin (to free my only dyeing pot) and repeated the whole process again and then once again. Of course, it was quite past midnight when I finished with the third skein and I was pretty tired and angry with myself for messing the tobacco dye (sad face).
I had to wait further for the yarn to cool, then I washed the skeins, soaked them in hair conditioner (another unsuccessful experiment, because it made the yarn bleed) and hung the skeins to dry in the bathroom.

The next day I considered redyeing the yarn with a touch of red to give it a brick tint, but then abandoned the temptation and decided to knit it as it was. If the end result is not pleasing, I can always get some dark brown dye and cover my dyeing mistake.

Today I started the back of a cardigan. I've read recommendations to alternate skeins to get even results, but I opted for knitting from one skein at a time. I inspected the skeins carefully and to me they look the same. I hope one skein (280 m) will suffice for the back, one for the two fronts and one for the two sleeves and thus, even if the skeins differ in color, it shouldn't be noticeable in the resulting object.

In conclusion: the dyeing method works fine, but I need to fine tune the process. I need to do further research on why the soaking in hair conditioner solution led to bleeding and is it yarn-specific or does it depend on the conditioner type and brand. Although the dye instructions explicitly do not require mordant, next time I might try mordanting the yarn in advance. I need to do better sampling of the dyes and, of course, to plan in advance and bridle my impatience.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snowflake Hat

Unlike the rest of the Northern hemisphere, here in Bulgaria we are having an unusually warm and snowless  winter - the daily temperatures average around 2 to 4 C. Only on the colder mornings we wake to find frost on the leaves and trees.
Thinking about the snow that was bound to come this year, I made a baby snowflake hat for a friends' two year old boy. The chart is the classic Norwegian snowflake from the Basic Lined Hat on Ravelry, the calculations are mine, based on googled measurements of two-year old boys' heads - 48 cm in circumference and 19 cm in length (the hat is a surprise present and I couldn't ask the mother for more accurate measurements.)

Pattern: Snowflake Hat, snowflake chart from Basic Lined Hat
Yarn: Alize Cashmira in white and dark pine green (a ball that remained from my Dusseldorf sweater)
Needle: 3.5 mm rib, 4 mm body
Time to knit: 2 days

For the lining I sewed a simple fleece hat from my remaining fleece piece. I need to find a store in Sofia that sells fleece and to stash some fleece fabric in different colors, I want to make some more hats lined with fleece.

The hat looks and feels so cozy, makes me want to try it on my head (but it's so small :)
I really hope it will fit David and keep him warm this winter.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cross Stitch WIPs into 2014

I began this posting on 31 December last year, but got caught into all the cooking and preparations and never managed to finish it. But at the end of the year I found myself embroidering again, though not with the enthusiasm I had for cross stitching a few years ago.

The poppies flower panel is almost done, only the back stitching and a single color white background remain, but I ran out of floss. I plan a big purchase of various colors and then I'll finish it and probably frame the bunch of flower panels together:

I did some stitching on the big Algeria picture too. I had planned finishing these three sheets of the chart, but my disappointment in the design got the better of me and this cross stitch is again deeply frozen.

And for the new year I started a new project - Charming Waterway by Dimensions. I'm stitching it very slowly in between knitting - presently I'm kind of deflated both about my current knitting and cross stitching projects. Maybe I need more new projects :)))

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Dear friends, thank you for stopping by my little creative spot and for all of your support and comments, which mean so much to me! I wish you health, joy, happiness and dreams come true in the new year 2014!

I decided to skip the reviews and recapitulations, the promises and the new-year knitting, sewing and stash-managing resolutions this time, just a collage of the things I made during the past year: