Friday, January 27, 2012

Unfinished Friday!

This week has been really busy with school, writing term plans and concept maps and reading textbooks, so I really have not had a lot of time to work on my crocheting. Everything I've been working on over the past few days is still in the middle of being finished.

However, I have made some good progress on my Apple Blossom Stole, as I have finally gotten into the swing of the pattern. If I was going to make this pattern again, however, I would change all the treble crochets to double, and all of the doubles to single. I know that would make the overall effect less noticeable, but the trebles are still a bit unnatural to me.


I have also been working on a few things for my 'shop'- more baby hats. These also go on the list of not finished, because I've only gotten as far as finishing the hats- the embellishments are not yet finished. And if I do say so myself, the hats are 10 times cuter with embellishments. (By embellishments, I mean either a flower, or ears, or a dinosaur spine...) Getting the hats done is the first step, though, so I'm closer to completing them than I was last week.

mostly finished hats!

I've been dyeing yarn this week as well, which has been loads of fun. First I was testing out some 'unknown' food coloring that my mom's had around for a while. (I asked for some, and she was just like, here, take it). It's all been successful so far, and I'm quickly running out of stuff to dye. I'm branching into solids now, and I'm totally loving it!

sweets anyone?

That's all for now! Head on over to Tami's Amis if you would like to see some *finished* stuff!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: New Squares, New Shawls

I'm linking up with Crunchy Catholic Momma's Stash Bash, and Tami's Amis Work-In-Progress Wednesday.

I've been working on a few more stash-bashing squares, some from the BAM CAL Rav group, and a few that I've found on my own. The first two are from Melinda Miller, Pretty Petals and Versailles, and # 3 & 4 are both the Chain Stitch Square from Mary Lokken (both WIPs are cotton, as I wanted to test the pattern first)

pretty petals
versailles 1
chain 1
chain 2
I just started working on the Apple Blossom Stole, using recycled yarn that I dyed myself. I'm planning on shortening the mesh section in the middle, and extending the blossom section.
apple blossom

More progress on my Citron:
berry 3

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Morning Musings

I can't believe it's 2 thirds of the way through Janurary already! I feel like it was just a few days ago that I was complaining about waiting until March/April, but now they are just around the corner! (sorry for those of you who like February... I'm just super excited for spring!)

In a few short months from now, I will be one semester closer to graduation, one of my best friends will be getting married, and I'll be able to wear flip-flops and shorts.

But until then, I will keep up with my yarn buying fast, and continue to try to clean my room. I'm making some decent progress on my yarn stash, however. At the beginning of the year, I had a huge container of scrap yarn, and now I've gotten it down to half full! I've made at least 4 -12" squares that will eventually become part of a super colorful blanket (I nearly said ugly...) and have 2 or 3 more blankets in the works. I never realized before this how helpful blankets are at using up yarn. It's totally fabulous.

I also finally started hooking the afghan for my best friend's wedding present. I'm using the Neat Ripple Pattern from Lucy at Attic24- it's my favorite ripple, and so far the only pattern I've found that just gives the theory (multiples of 14 plus 3) of a ripple blanket. I love working with the theory, as it makes more sense to me, and gives me more freedom in choosing my finished size. (I'm not sure if she visits here, so I'm going to stop giving details).

I've also been successful in 'stocking' my 'inventory' for my fall craft shows. I've hooked 2 more infinity scarves, as well as 2 hats. That brings my January totals to 5 infinity, one straight, plus 2 hats.

Enough of my rambling. Today I am happy to be alive, and thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon my life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

FO Friday: Owl hats!

Inspired by Pinterest and a pattern on Rav, I finally made an owl hat.
I did share it earlier in the week, but I wanted to share it again, because I am so glad that it worked out the way I wanted it to.
I made a second one, shortly after finishing the first one, but did the eyes slightly different. Can you tell?
wip (this is my WIP photo)

These are also part of my stash bash, as the yarn I used was leftover from my scarves and shawls that I make for my craft shows.
I really like this design for hats, and might make a few plain ones. For now, I'll just stick with the 2 I've made, see what sort of interest I get on my Facebook page.  If I get interest there, I will probably make a few more for the fall show.

Linking up with Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Scarves

Started working on more scarves for the fall/winter craft shows, even though they are ages away. I am such a procrastinator, so I need to work on building up an inventory now, while I'm actually thinking about it. One regular scarf in blue, and one infinity scarf in cream. The blue is one of my favorite colorways in the Homespun yarn (Delft). This is my first time using the cream colorway- Pearls- and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.

These projects are continuing to fuel my stash bash, as I have a HUGE bag of Homespun that I got on sale before Christmas at Michael's. Last weekend I made 3 infinity scarves from this stash, but when they are one-skein projects, my bag is still full. It's a slow but steady process. Wish me luck! :)

Also: more progress on my Citron:
section 1 done!

Linking up to Tami's Amis today!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tea on Tuesday: Vanilla Caramel Truffle

I go from the teas that everyone's heard of to the cheaper, buy-at-your-local-grocery brands of tea. This black tea from Lipton is my one of my favorites. I think it smells a little bit like coffee, which is one of the reasons why I like it. Also, just a little bit of sugar brings out the caramel flavor, and it's lovely.


This is another swap received tea, and I was a little bit reluctant to try it at first, as I've had some less than pleasant tea experiences. But my mom kept saying, Mary, try it. So I did, and I love it. This swap package came from Idaho, so I just thought, it's in the States, we should have it here. We looked, and couldn't find it. It took several different grocery store stops until we did find it, to my relief.

So here I sit, on a dreary Tuesday morning, cozy with my cup of tea. I spent most of yesterday working on a new design for a hat for my 'business' which should be up for sale by the end of the week. (The university has in recent years decided that MLK Day should be a day off of school, which I love, even if I don't really celebrate) And because of the long weekend, I have been procrastinating terribly, and only just started rooting around the house for folders and binders for my classes. Luckily, my mom is amazing, and everything I needed was where she said it would be. So I will be able to go off to my one class today mostly prepared.


But school and my lack of preparation was not the point of this ramble. In the Midwest, most days of the week are dreary, and there's nothing like a cup of tea and a bit of knitting to cheer you up. If knitting's not your forte, maybe a book. I hope you enjoy your day, whether or not you get a cup of tea.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dyeing with food coloring

I thought I'd put together a bit of a tutorial on dyeing wool yarn with food coloring. I definitely use a bit of a trial and error method, just so you know.

To start, if your yarn hasn't already been skeined, you need to do so. I usually skein mine around two of my bedposts, because it's exactly 3 feet apart, and I recycle a lot of sweaters and I like to know the yardage of my yarn. The yarn I dyed this time was purchased: 850 yards of Sappho I from Sanguine Gryphon. (I forgot to add more ties on it- my yarn came with 3, 6 would probably be better, as the yarn gets handled a lot during the dye process)

Because I was dyeing with food coloring, I soaked my yarn in a bucket of water with a slosh of vinegar (I didn't really measure how much, sorry) This yarn is 100% wool, and I soaked it for around 45 minutes.
soaking the yarn

As you can see above, I use a lovely sand pail that I got for $1 at Michael's at the end of the summer. This one I keep separate and clean for soaking yarn (I have others for actual sand use, lol)

At my last dyeing session, I was visiting my cousin and dyeing yarn with her 3 oldest kids. She is a nurse, and conveniently had a bunch of old syringes that she let me have to use for my dyeing. This is how I put the dye on the yarn. I mixed up my dyes using recipes from Dye Your Yarn for McCormick food coloring. I used the neon pack- neon purple and neon pink, plus the blue from a regular pack. Raspberry: 1 pink (or red) to 3 purple, Purple: 1 blue to 3 purple.
dye and syringes

Since the skein of yarn wasn't super big, I used my battered 7"x11" pan ( I think that's the size...) As you can see above, it fits really well in the microwave, which I think is a big plus. (Our microwave is supposed to be big enough to hold a 9x13, but I think this one fits more comfortably)
starting with the purple


dye on yarn
As you can see above, I simply divided the skein in half (okay, not simply, but roughly). I started on the purple side, and in the second photo, you can see where the purple dye separated a little bit. I really liked this affect, but I was originally going for a more solid skein with half purple and half raspberry. The bottom picture is from the first round of dyeing. This was one batch of dye, 2 colors, each in approximiately 1/2 cup of water. All the dyeing help I've read said that the amount of water doesn't matter, it's the amount of dye that matters. Hence the small amount of water. I actually love the McCormick food colors, especially in comparison to Kool-Aid. The McCormick already comes as a liquid, where the Kool-Aid you must dissolve in water first (thus needing more water). But, if you are just starting out dyeing, Kool-Aid may be a safer and easier experiment (and it smells better because you don't need the vinegar)

About the vinegar: food colors need an acid to help them bond to the wool. For Kool-Aid, it's citric acid, which is already in the drink mix. When you use either Wilton's or McCormick, you need to add an acid, and the one that is usually in most household is vinegar. I used white vinegar for this run.

For this skein, I ended up making at least ten batches of dye, both colors, to achieve the colors I wanted. Even then, the colors were not completely saturated. I'll advise you to be more careful and less impatient than I was, as this was not superwash wool, and there is the possibility of it felting if it starts to boil.

Every 3rd or 4th pass through the microwave, I drained off the access water, as if it built up, there was more chance of the dye moving around. Also, to be sure I had enough vinegar to help the process, either the 5th or 6th round of dye was 60% vinegar. In this round, I filled my little dye cups halfway with vinegar, added a bit more water, then added the dye. I'm not sure if it made any difference, but I felt better about it.

After finishing, I let the yarn cool- be careful not to shock the yarn by rinsing it in cold water- I used lukewarm water to help bring it down to handling temperature, and ran it under a lukewarm faucet to rinse out any dye that had not taken. Rubber gloves are great for this.

It took a bit to dry, and this is where my impatience hits. I started by rolling it in a towel and stomping on it, followed by hanging it in front of a heater, and the list goes on. What ended up being most helpful was the heat in my car. Obviously, you don't need to use this method, but I wanted to use my yarn ASAP.

When my camera battery died, my sister started taking photos with her camera, and for some reason, I can't get them on here. So here is the photoset that she uploaded to flickr: more pictures.

I hope this is a semi- helpful tutorial. Feel free to offer suggestions! I hope you have fun dyeing your yarn with food coloring!

You can see the finished product of the yarn here (or at least the beginning of it).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Semester Equals New Books

A new semester of school always brings a new selection of books to my fingertips. Most of the time I groan because college textbooks are so expensive. But this semester, along with my groans came the hope in the back of my mind that some of the books would actually be enjoyable.
I'm taking 5 classes this semester, 4 in person and one online.

Teaching Reading: Do I really Have to Teach Reading? Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy
Adolescent Psychology: Adolescence Adolescent Portraits
Classroom Assessment: Classroom Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know
Curriculum: The Students are Watching
Teaching Social Studies: Teaching Geography Social Studies for Secondary Schools Teaching History Through Film

I'm most excited for my Social Studies class, as the books seem to be pretty fun. I've already started to read the Assessment book, as that was my first assignment due, and it's not too bad. Since I'm going to be a teacher, I might as well get used to that sort of thing.
Also, the professor for my Reading class seems really cool and down to earth- I'm hoping that the rest of the semester continues to be like the first class.

With all these new and exciting books, I'm not going to have as much time for pleasure reading, but I do have Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games checked out, so hopefully I'll have a chance to read it before it's due. (If not, it's assigned for my sister's college English class, so I'll borrow it from her)

Friday, January 13, 2012

I've got nothing.

Nothing finished to show off, that is. I've been pretty busy, it being my first week back at school. And I already have homework that has not been finished. Gah. Luckily, I have Monday off, so I just need to do a lot of textbook reading to catch up.

I'm on a stashbusting kick, however. This means that nearly all of the new projects that I start are scrap projects. My log cabin scrap blanket is getting too big now to work on comfortably, so instead of adding more rows, I'm adding more panels. Each one is different- some are simply striped, others continue the log cabin design. But I'm hoping that by using this method, I won't have as many wonky edges. And, these pieces are quick and easy to make- I've done 2 in the last 2 days (And I'm not counting them as FOs because they are parts of a whole)

Once I get my homework done, I think I'll be starting my next big project: a ripple afghan, using this pattern from Lucy at Attic24. Hopefully, I'll have something to show off next week, but until then, enjoy a cup of tea.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stash Bash: 12" Squares

This year, I discovered the BAM CAL on Ravelry. That is: Block-A-Month Crochet-A-Long. Several days before the new year, I was out yarn shopping, and pick up 3 shades of Caron Simply Soft to work the coming year's blocks in. Then Tricia (Crunchy Catholic Momma) mentioned wanting to do a stash bash for the coming year, and I'm all like crap, can I not buy new yarn for the whole year? I decided I would take it one step at a time, and right now, my goal is no new yarn until March. I will re-assess my stash at that point, and see if I need another 3 month yarn diet- and I'll do this every 3 months,  until my stash is significant reduced (or the end of the year, not sure which).

So, inspired by all the crocheters at the BAMCAL, I decided to do a stash busting afghan along with my other one. My mom was so confused by it, because she thought I was putting all the squares in the same afghan. I'll probably have to explain it to her again next month, and so on.

I worked my first stash bashing square on Tuesday, and I'm pretty thrilled with how it turned out:
Scrap #1

The pattern is Drop in the Bucket by Janie Herrin. I love it, because it gives me some ideas for creating a square with a circle center. Also, this square helped me use up my first bit of stash- I don't have much more than 3 feet of the baby blue color left. I saved it to go into another stash busting project- Christmas Stockings! I hope to make more of these as the year progresses- I made one at the end of last year, and I really like how it turned out.

Yesterday night, I started the second one, and was nearly finished when I realized I was doing it wrong. So I ripped back to the last color change, and started again. At midnight. Not entirely thrilled with myself, but oh well. I finished it today during work:
Scrap #2

The pattern is Pretty Petals, by Melinda Miller. I absolutely love her patterns, and have several more printed out to work up for the Stash Bash as the year goes on.

Now, go back up to the top of the page, and head over to Tricia's page to see other inspiring stories of our stash bashing adventure!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday: I'm knitting again!

This week, I'm back to working on a knitting project. My last project that I got on and off the needles was my first lace shawl, the Holden Shawlette. I moved on from there to some crocheted shawls and shawlettes.  I've had the Citron shawl/ette in my queue on Ravelry for quite some time, as I wasn't working on a lot of knitting, as I am a slow knitter. However, I ordered some undyed lace weight yarn at the end of the year, and it came in the mail a few days ago. I wanted to dye it straight away. As I started the dyeing process, I started to look for a pattern. Lo and behold, the Citron was knit in a lace weight yarn! Yay!

So when my newly dyed yarn was finished drying, and I had gone from the skein to a ball, I cast on. At first, I was unsure if it would work. The lace weight seemed fiddling, and I was out of the knitting habit. But I got into it, and here is my progress so far:

It's not very big, but I've also been working on some stash busting projects that I will show on Friday.

To see more WIPs, head on over to Tami's Amis!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tea Tuesday: Lady Grey

I don't have as cool of a story for TT today.
Twinings Lady Grey Tea is, from what I recall people telling me, a lighter version of Earl Grey. According to the label "This delicious black tea has a light and gentle citrus flavour that is both relaxing and refreshing. Lady Grey is perfect in the morning with breakfast or for afternoon tea."
I'm not really drinking it with a meal- rather, I enjoy my tea after breakfast while I do a spot of crocheting. This particular Lady Grey was not purchased by me. I participate in a few swaps through the internet, in particular, swaps through the crafting social network Ravelry. A group that I am a part of spends a few months reading a Harry Potter books (we're on POA right now) and at the end, we swap with a partner that we had been 'stalking' throughout the read-a-long. My partner for the last book sent me a lovely assortment of teas, which I am taking my time to enjoy.
So, Lady Grey: I'm not as fond of it as I am of Earl Grey (I love the bergamot in Earl). But I do enjoy the citrus-y flavor. And it's not as weak as some of the green teas that have little to no flavor at all (at least in my opinion).
That's all folks! Join me next week for the next installment!

Friday, January 6, 2012

FO Friday! 5

For my first FO Friday of the new year, I have several things to present. One of my big goals this year is to keep the WIPs to a minimum, unless it's something big and actually does take a bit longer. So, off to a great start, I finished off one of my long term projects, a striped lapghan in my favorite yarn, LB Homespun.
I've also been participating in a Ravelry Block-A-Month Crochet-A-Long and have already finished the first 12" block (it's not quite 12", but I'll adjust it as I make more squares). It's with Caron Simply Soft (love its shine)
BAM CAL Jan 2012
Some other goals of mine for the new year include stash busting and better preparation for my fall craft shows. This little stocking does both quite well. I'm not entirely keen on my first version, but I hope to alter it to fix my needs.
baby stocking

My hand-dyed ripple

That's all for now!
Head over to Tami's Amis to see more finished projects!

(So, I just discovered that I never posted this. It's a week old. sorry)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Up-cycling

I've been drawn into the thrifting world, and have started to make a cashmere blanket, with pieces cut from 'felted' cashmere sweaters. I cut out my pieces, laid everything out, and am onto the sewing. I don't have access to a machine, so I've been sewing by hand- extremely tedious.
Cashmere Blanket
I'm also working on more flowered headbands, trying a few different types of flowers, as well as experimenting with some different band styles. All the yarn has been hand-dyed and recycled from thrift store sweaters. :)

To see more WIPs, head on over to Tami's Amis!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tea Tuesday

I was floating some ideas around in my head, trying to decide what to post about on different days of the week. And since I was having my morning mug of tea, it hit me- I drink tons of tea, I might as well talk about it.

Last May, I was in London for a study abroad trip (I had an amazing time!) and I was in the morning routine of having a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea. So naturally, the first stop was the grocery store to pick some up to continue my regular routine. Being a college student on a thrifty budget, I was not about to buy a small package of tea when I could buy a bigger package for a few pounds more. And it was Earl Grey, which I knew if nothing else, I could bring home and share with my mom. So I bought the 100 tea bags package of Earl Grey (the grocery store brand- thrifty college student again). And since I was not in London for 100 days, I brought what was left home with me.

Here it is, January 3rd, and I still have a lot of it left. Not that I don't like Earl Grey anymore, just that at home, I have a greater variety of teas and some coffee as well. But this morning felt like an Earl Grey morning. I don't know if all English tea comes this way, but this particular brand came in what I'll call pods. (Older Bro Uno has an expresso shot maker, and the coffee for it comes in little circle shaped filters, these are the same way.)

So, for my first Tea Tuesday, I give you Earl Grey (Sainsbury's). I like mine with a bit of sugar. How do you drink yours?