Tag Archive | knitting

Blocking Your Crochet/Knitting Project

When I was a young girl first learning to crochet and sew, blocking your item was right up there with do I really need to stay-stitch my neck edge within my sewing project – duh, I learned the hard way, you DO need to do these steps to get the desired results and have an item that will last and continue to look good.  Think about it, you have gone to all this work to crochet a wonderful piece, now you need to block it so it will have the necessary shape, curves, points, etc. to look awesome.

There are basically 2 ways of blocking – called wet blocking and/or steam blocking.  STEAM blocking is exactly as its name implies.  I do this for small projects and I NEVER do it for anything that has been made with acrylic yarn.  I layout my project on my ironing board, spray it with a little water from my handy-dandy spray bottle that I always have hanging from my ironing board and sort of shape it with just my fingers.  I like to cover it with a pressing cloth, then I hold my iron just above the item but don’t touch it with the iron and steam away.  I usually give it a couple good bursts of steam.  Lift the pressing cloth, check it out and if all looks good just let it stay in place to cool and dry. If you aren’t totally satisfied, maybe an edge isn’t just to your liking, give it another spray of water, cover with your pressing cloth and give it another burst of steam.

The steaming method works really well for cotton yarns.  I would be cautious with WOOL items too as heat will do funky things to wool yarn.  As one time my hubby was trying to be so helpful and threw a lovely sweater in the dryer and it shrunk to fit a Barbie doll.

WET blocking is probably the best way to block your yarn projects.  Basically, soak your crochet in a nice sink full of cold water, add a very little drop of a gentle soap, give it a nice swish around, and rinse really well to make sure soap is all gone.  Gently squeeze out some of the water, you can let it drain a little in the sink, layout a big towel and place your project on the towel.  You really don’t want to wring or twist – I like to fold up my towel in half and then fold in the sides and press easy on it to help remove extra moisture.

Then off to my blocking mats with my rust proof pins and tape measure.  Layout your project and gently stretch it out, finger open those fine details that you have made and pin away.  Use your tape measure to make sure you are getting the size and shape you want.  Again, have that handy-dandy spray bottle at hand if you need to dampen your project during the blocking process.  For a shawl with fine picot points, be sure to place a pin in each one.  Believe you me, it is worth it!!

Round shaped items, like booties or hats, I like to shape using wet paper towels.  Put wet paper towels inside your booties to shape them the way you want and let them stay that way until the paper towels are dry.  I use fabric covered styrofoam balls for shaping hats but if they need to be a little fuller, again wet paper towels to fill in those spaces – works great.  Just do final shaping with your hands and let air dry completely.

Take a moment and check out Shibaguyz Designz blog.  Some really interesting ideas for blocking here using wire, #10 cotton thread and/or unwaxed kitchen string.  Recommends the string for nice shaping of curved areas.  Another recommendation – block your swatch piece to really ensure you are getting the correct gauge.  Excellent reading 🙂

Here are some pictures of the blocked shawls and scarves that I just did – talked about the patterns on my last blog That’s a Wrap!!  Good examples of how blocking really gives your item that WOW factor.  You’ve spent lots of hours crocheting or knitting that beautiful piece – now spend just one more hour to truly give your item that professional, finished appearance.

Blocking on mats

 

Before blocking

After blocking

Before blocking

After blocking

 

 HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

Dyeing Yarn, My Experience – Guest Blogger

Dyeing yarn….. A scary but fun adventure…..Guest Blogger Jess Eisert.….find her on Ravelry.com

About 2 months ago, I was perusing a local yarn store not finding EXACTLY what I wanted.  I’m willing to admit I’m a hard person when it comes to buying that perfect yarn.  I don’t want a wool yarn unless it’s soft ~ I don’t want a super slick yarn that will fall of my needles constantly ~ I don’t like too much texture in my yarn ~I have to have color with it ~ And the price has to be Just Right!!  OK, let’s face it, I’m a yarn snob.

So back to my adventure at the yarn store where there seems to be 1,000’s of skeins of yarn and NOTHING is “calling” my name.  As I headed down the last aisle, way in the back, I come across this very unassuming, plain white skein of yarn.  Still not sure what made me pick it up but hey it’s got some sparkle in there.  Upon closer examination, I discover it is a Plymouth Yarn Dye for Me Suri Alpaca Merino Glow (say that 3 times fast) ~consisting of 80% Suri Alpaca, 15% Merino Wool and 5% Stellina made in Peru.

photo1

There is 1,094 yards on this lace weight skein for just $18.00 (enough for a whole project).  Wow, got my juices flowing but dyeing ~ never attempted that before ~  always a 1st time for everything ~ so I made my purchase and headed home to surf the net for ideas, directions, suggestions!!

After much research, I found some helpful information so now off to the big box store to find types of dye.  Lots of different brands to choose from but I decided upon Dylon Permanent Fabric dye.  Of course, I had to select 6 different colors too!!!  Used a Tulip brand for my purple color as that was the only one available ~ go figure!!

Spent about $18.00 on my 6 packages of dye and  I purchased some plastic squeeze bottles too for good control over where I wanted to place my colors.

photo3

Now I was ready ~ first I had to soak the yarn in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and cold water for 24 hours.  All those worrisome thoughts were running through my head, but after the 24 hour soak, the yarn was ready for the next step and was still in a nice workable hank 🙂

photo2

Remove the skein of yarn from the soaking mixture and pat dry so it is just DAMP to the touch not dripping.  Now I laid paper towels out and then placed several layers plastic wrap over them to make sure all my seams were covered.

 

Now the fun part ~ dyeing!!  Follow the manufacturer’s directions but I used a pinch of salt (didn’t measure), 2 cups of luke warm water, and half the dye package.  Which was way too much dye, just a fourth of the package would have been sufficient.

I was going for a rainbow effect and was very pleased with how everything was going at this point.  I didn’t wear gloves but you could wear some latex gloves if you don’t want to get any dye on your hands.

Pictured here is what I ended up with after I squeezed dye onto the yarn.  I recommend that you kind of move the yarn around with the tip of the bottle to make sure that you get your dye through all the yarn.

photo5

HINT:  Start with your lightest colors first (yellow, orange, green, red, blue, purple)

At this point, you want to seal the skein of yarn with the plastic wrap.  I essentially folded one long side over the yarn, folded the other long side over, then the ends and then folded this tube in half then in half again.  (Your goal is to just keep the dye from going everywhere during the steaming process).   Now you were suppose to place your wrapped yarn inside a double boiler for 45 – 60 minutes with the lid on the pot.

Oooh ~ my lack of patience and my thought that I was going to end up with a big felted piece made me deviate from the instructions!!!   So I “cooked” it for only 35 minutes with no lid but my end result   came out as a softer, less vibrant color but perfect for a Spring/Summer project.  I loved it!!!!

Once you have completed the steaming process, place your yarn in the sink to let it cool.  You don’t want to shock the yarn and go straight into cold water as you would end up with a big piece of felt!!    After about 15 minutes, I removed the plastic wrap from the yarn and ran it under cool water in the sink.  Here was what my yarn looked like after the first rinse.  I let it sit for a few minutes and then did another rinse in water.  I did a third rinse as there was still dye coming off the yarn and onto the paper towels.  I let the yarn air dry on the counter top until it was fully dry ~ about 48 hours.    Once dried, I wound my skein and this is what I ended up with.  I’m currently making a Trillian scarf out of it.  (You can find the pattern on Ravelry) and I’m doubling the yarn as I knit it.  I really love how it is turning out.

photo6photo7photo8 (1)

photo9

With my second dyeing process ~ I used a skein of Apollo from Catnip Yarns, 50% silk & 50% Merino wool.  They sell only natural, undyed yarn.  It’s super soft and more of a chunky weight.

I did everything the same EXCEPT I used only half the amount of dye (1 cup of water, ¼ of the dye package), and I feel, most importantly, I used the double boiler, on a high heat, with the LID on for 50 minutes for steaming.  My end result was the vibrant rainbow that I initially was striving for.

photo10photo11photo12

photo13photo14

I know I will attempt this fun and creative process again.  Hope you will give it a try ~ would love to see pictures too 🙂  Check out Dharma Trading Co. for more information on dyeing yarn.

HINT:  I am still using the original dye packages that I purchased and I feel certain that I can create another rainbow skein before I would need to purchase more!!

HAPPY CREATING!!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Wishing everyone a Happy Mother’s Day and hope your day has been extra special too!!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Just wanted to share this awesome “yarn bouquet” that I received as a gift.  As much as I love to have fresh flowers around, this bouquet is just as special as I get to look at it and decide what do I want to create!!

This bouquet was shipped through Jimmy Beans Wool website and I received 3 gorgeous skeins of a beautiful Madeleine Tosh DK yarn with two different sizes of knitting needles.  It came with a lovely pattern that I downloaded through Ravelry called Sylkie Cowl by Gudrum Johnson.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I also downloaded 2 other “free” patterns from Ravelry:  one is called Mara by Amy Hendrix which is a triangle shawl and the other is called Honey Cowl by Ann Maria.  Both of these patterns are really cool too!!

However, I think I am going to give the Sylkie Cowl a try.  As I have mentioned before, my real yarn love is crocheting but I am adventuring out in the knitting world and this pattern does offer some new techniques for me to try.

If you are looking for a unique gift to get your favorite yarning person, then check out JB’s website, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Wish me luck as I attempt this new pattern.  Hey, if I think it looks horrible, I can just frog it and find another “crochet” pattern~~ ha, ha, ha!!

HAPPY CREATING!!

Welcome 2014

It is always an exciting moment when I hang up the new calendar welcoming in the New Year!!  For me, it is like a clean slate just begging to have something new written on it.

SONY DSC

Already have some new fabrics and yarns just waiting to be designed into wonderful new projects!!  Purchased a new raspberry blaze color of hand dyed, sock weight yarn by Dream, dreamincoloryarn.com, called “smooshy”.  Now who just wouldn’t want a smooshy in their yarn stash.  It is a merino wool, cashmere and nylon blend and very, very squishy soft.  Haven’t decided what I am going to make with it just yet but I know whatever it is will be scrumptious.

Also, picked up a Malabrigo yarn that will be perfect for a warm winter cowl.  And, of course, several new cotton fabrics that will be made into totes and whatever else I might decide to sew.

SONY DSC

I hope your New Year starts off with some smooshy yarns and wonderful textiles just waiting to be designed into your something special item.  I want to “Thank” everyone who has visited my blog and I look forward to this coming year with new ideas, discussions and designs.  If you have something in particular that you want me to talk about, please let me know your questions, thoughts, and/or ideas.  Always another way to stir up those creative juices and, hopefully, give insight to new and old techniques.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and HAPPY CREATING!!

 

Taming Your Yarn!

Whether you are crocheting or knitting or doing any type of craft using a skein of yarn, keeping that yarn easily accessible can be a job.   Sometimes you feel like you need to “whip it” into shape so you are spending more time crocheting/knitting and less time untangling or retrieving your yarn!! This year I received a Yarn Buddy by Sun Valley Fibers as a Christmas present and boy does it work great!!  Basically, as described by SVF, it is a wooden spool lazy susan for your skein of yarn.  You don’t need to fuss with locating the center-pull yarn strand anymore.  Just slide your skein onto the spool and work using the outer yarn strand.  Because the spool is on a turning gear, your yarn spools off either in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction depending upon how your skein of yarn was wound.

SONY DSC

They are made for a single skein of yarn or two skeins of yarn.   I was fortunate enough to receive the double spool for two skeins of yarn, which will be perfect for doing a project using two skeins or I can actually have two projects going at the same time.  The quality is outstanding, very smooth gear operation and the wood is sanded incredibly smooth!!  No varnishes are used either.

SONY DSC

The Yarn Buddy is not too large or too heavy and should be easy to take to a class or “knit nite”!!  I am actually thinking about taking one of my cloth tote bags, putting a couple of grommets in the center of the bag, placing the Yarn Buddy with yarn down in the bag and then threading my yarn through the grommets.  That way my project is ready to travel or to be stored by my easy chair ready at a moments notice. Of course, I have already started a project using the Yarn Buddy and have found that I can even place my completed crochet pattern pieces between the spools so I have them all in one place until I can sew them together.  I know this will become one of my favorite items to use for crocheting and knitting projects!!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

 

 

 

I did do a little exploring on-line for information on Yarn Buddies.  Here is another site I found that looks kind of interesting too, landwoodworks.com, which shows their Yarn Buddy design. This is a super gift item for that special “hooker” in your life or add it to your wish list so that maybe you can receive one as a present too!!

HAPPY CREATING!!