Monday, January 29, 2018

WIP: Mitered Square Afghan

Just a few photos of my mitered square afghan. As I mentioned in this post about cotton dyes, I have a lot of cotton-acrylic balls of yarn, remaining from other projects and I intend to make them into an afghan / cover for the settee on the balcony. The yarn is YarnArt Jeans and it is a very nice soft Turkish blend of cotton with premium acrylic, very popular for baby blankets in Bulgaria.

But the best thing about the blanket is that I got to experiment with all kinds of methods for applying dyes. Of all of the above 18 squares only three were made with the original yarn, all others were dyed with cotton dyes, some with full immersion, some with dip dyeing for a gradient, some with a resist twist, some were speckled and cooked in the microwave and the latest batch  (the first four from right to left) was powder speckled with low immersion on the stove. I've placed the original ball of yarn above each miniskein to show from where I've started creating the color. The first and the last miniskeins were made out of the light yellow color and these are the last yards of this ball.

And these two squares in the middle are probably my most favourite so far, I think I want to try to speckle sock yarn in similar colorways:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Urvich 2018

It was an absolutely glorious sunny winter day today and we had to get out in the open. We chose a very familiar easy route near Sofia - the ruins of the medieval fortress Urvich and the trail that runs around the hill near it by the river Iskar. We've been here many times before, last time about two years ago and to my unpleasant surprise the city authorities (or whoever's responsible) still haven't cleared the path, which was blocked by fallen trees after a big storm two years ago.

The first third of the trail up to the detour to the monastery was nice and clear, such a pleasure to walk along it under the warm sun and on the crisp snow.

The birch trees are preparing their blooms:

After the detour for the monastery the path was more often than not blocked and we had to find alternative ways to the left or the right to pass through. Ours were the only human steps on the snow ...

The fortress of Urvich

The monastery, where we had our lunch in the open - it was so warm and sunny that I even took off my jacket.

We went up the hill to visit the restoration and digging works at the fortress - once an important military point for the protection of Sofia on the pass between the three mountains - Vitosha, Plana and Lozen.

Some of the ruins of the fortress walls:

And back to the river Iskar:

An unexpected pop of color:

Dyeing Self-Striping Yarn II

Another experiment with dyeing self-striping yarn - for my husband's socks.
What I did differently this time - I dyed a separate ball for the toes and heels and I wound the yarn in a really long skein, so that one repeat of the stripes is about 13 rows.

I used only three colors for this yarn as I was going for a subtle, more manly combination - jeans (blue and black), light grey (black) and dark red/burgundy (red and black).

What I didn't do right - though I prepared the same dye solution for the jeans color of the big ball and the small ball, I dyed them separately, using different methods (immersion versus painting) and the final resulting colors differ a bit. It's not something to bother me much, but next time I'll know better to dye them simultaneously.

And my second mistake - I should have wound the skein double threaded, so that I would have two identical socks, or at least made sure that I have an even number of repetitions of the stripes. As it is now, the total number of repetitions is 21, so I'll either have to make the socks shorter without the last stripe or distribute the last stripe between the two socks, resulting in some difference in the cuffs. I think I'm inclined to go for the second option.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bonus Sweater - Photo Session

And a quick photo session of the Bonus sweater. It is amazing how much I like this sweater and how little I expected of this color combination when I started it simply to use up the very high quality merino remains.

Pattern: Bonus sweater (personal pattern)
Yarn: Zegna Baruffa Cashwool 160 g asphalt, 160 g burgundy
Needle: 3.5 mm (sleeve cuffs), 4 mm
Time to knit: 3 weeks

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Autumn By The Road Socks

I finished the first of the two pairs of sock yarn I dyed with pre-knitted by me sock blanks. The colors were inspired by an autumn photo of trees by a road and I love them. Although Gaby is posing for me for this photosession, the socks are for me and on my feet as I'm writing this post :)

For these socks I used my new addi 8" circular needle and I have pretty mixed feelings about it. It is just too small and uncomfortable and knitting with it was actually slower than magic loop knitting with my addi 80 cm circular needle.

I definitely prefer the longer needle for the toes, heels and cuffs of the socks, for the body of vanilla socks I'm willing to give it another try to get used to it. I know there are many sock knitters that prefer such short needles.

Pattern: Vanilla socks with Fish Lips Kiss Heel
Yarn: Alize Superwash hand dyed, 50 g
Needle: 2.5 mm
Time to knit: 4 days

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bonus Sweater - The Pattern

I finished my Bonus Sweater and as a bonus to my Bulgarian readers I decided to write my notes into a free design. It is only one size - small (bust 82 cm), but I hope it could be of use to someone and I believe it wouldn't be difficult to adjust it to other sizes.
I often design my own patterns, but writing them up is quite a different trade. Anyway I hope I've managed to write it understandably and I might even consider translating it in English, if I can find some free time.

I'm really pleased with how the sweater turned out and I am quite tempted to repeat the pattern with other colors as well, may be make one for me. Gaby has promised me a modeled photosession soon, so stay tuned :)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cotton Dyes

I finally opened my cotton dyes and did some dyeing. I had two balls of white yarn, about 80 g, unraveled from old projects. I knew the yarn was rayon and probably some acrylic, and because rayon is made out of cellulose I supposed I should be able to dye it with cotton dye, as it is intended for natural cellulose fibers like cotton, linen and hemp. I skeined all of the yarn and dip dyed it in purple dye.

I had thought that all of the yarn was the same, but the dyeing revealed its different origins - one of the balls was from an older purchase and it had larger viscose content, so it took more of the purple color, while the other ball had more acrylic content and it took less of the dye.

Here the difference is quite noticeable:

The two balls wound separately.

And because I had quite a lot of dye in the pot, I decided to overdye a ball of neon blue cotton-acrylic yarn. First I dip dyed it in the remaining purple and then I made a new dye bath of burgundy dye and dip dyed it in it from the other end. I'm quite please with how this cotton-acrylic yarn took the dye - the original color and the new color.

I decided to use the newly dyed yarn to make a mitered square cover for the settee on the balcony. I have plenty of scrap cotton-acrylic yarn and I bought three more colors of cotton dye, so it'll be fun. The only thing I have yet to decide is whether to knit all of the squares separately or to connect them as I go - lots of pros and cons in both directions, but I feel like I'm leaning towards the separate knitting and rearanging them by colors and connecting them when I finish the knitting.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Rust and Teal

Yesterday and today I spent hours experimenting with yarn dyeing. The color scheme was rust and teal and the technique - self-made sock blanks.

For the first blank I folded the strands into two and then again into four stranded cake. My new cake-winder was definitely very useful. Then I knitted the yarn into a simple garter stitch blank.

The color scheme I chose was teal and rust.
For the teal I mixed green and blue 1:1. This is where I faulted and should have been braver to correct it - my teal turned more green than blue and I should have dipped the green end into a little blue to accentuate the teal color, but I didn't, being afraid not to ruin it.
The rust was 8 orange + 2 red + 1 brown and it turned as I wanted it.

This is how the blank looked still wet after the dyeing - dip dyed on the stove:

I unraveled it and wound it on my niddy-noddy to dry. This was the dry yarn in the morning, four-stranded:

The yarn, separated into two-stranded yarn:

And finally separated into singles:

And wound into cakes ready to be knit with:

I wound the second ball of Alize Superwash into 8-stranded yarn and knit it into a garter stitch wider and shorter blank to be dyed in stripes. This is the color scheme I chose for the stripes:

In the evening, the process of dyeing. This time I hand painted the stripes and then nuked it into the microwave for 1:30 + 2 + 1 min.

The yarn cool and ready to be washed:

Dry and finally separated back into singles:
And the cakes.

Final thoughts: very labour consuming method, rather intense on the yarn. The dyeing of blanks produces interesting speckled effects because of the knitted texture of the blanks. However I am not likely to try it again soon, I believe I've satisfied my curiosity as far as this method of dyeing is concerned.