Today I completed my very first knit shawl.
It was ordered by a friend back in October and I have to say thank goodness she was so patient with me as it took some time!
I had no idea how long a knit shawl would take me and expected that it would be similar to my various crocheted projects.
Yeah, not so much.
It didn’t help that I chose 5mm circular needles to make it…perhaps larger would have been better for my first large knitting project….but regardless, I washed and blocked it two days ago and today, it is finished!
Anyway, back to the purpose of this post.
When I blocked this piece, I decided to use these metal rods that I picked up at a hardware store months ago. They are heavier than the rods you use for blocking lace, but for this worsted yarn and open edging, they were perfect!
I saved so much time by weaving the rods through the edging and then simply pinning them out with my T-pins.
You can find these at any hardware store I believe and only cost me a few bucks.
The only downside that I could see was that the edges were somewhat rough, so I had to be careful when weaving them through the stitching.
Otherwise, a perfect time saver!
I recently went on a European trip from Canada.
Before I went, many friends warned me that I would likely have my crochet hooks and knitting needles confiscated if I brought them. So initially, I started packing without any projects to work on.
But the more I thought about 6 hours on a plane with no yarn and no crochet, the more annoyed I got. 🙂 I wasn’t willing to bring along my lovely wooden knitting needles as they are fantastic (and were expensive!). I also wasn’t willing to bring along my handmade ergonomic crochet hooks as I order those from the states and they too aren’t cheap.
So, I put together a small traveling crochet pouch with new bits and pieces as an experiment. Throughout the trip I went through four security checks in three different airports (Pearson Airport in Toronto, Ontario Canada, Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris France & Keflavik Airport in Iceland) and not once was I questioned or stopped.
Of course, every airline, airport and every security employee is different so there is no *one* way to ensure that you’ll never be asked about your hooks and needles, but I though I would share what I did because it seemed to work….in January 2015 at least 😉
First of all, I researched each airport for security regulations. Some were easy to find and others were a bit harder. I also asked my airline via Facebook what they allowed on their airplanes. I was told 2.5mm and smaller were acceptable which didn’t work for me as all my projects were on hooks and needles 5mm or larger.
So instead I created this pouch….
I went out and bought plastic hooks and plastic needles, as well as the smallest pair of scissors I could find. Initially I was looking for scissors for children as I figured they would be even less threatening but I came across these for quite cheap and figured I’d try them.
I also purchased a replacement set of circular knitting needles for a project I was working on. These are aluminum:
The key to all of this was that I made my purchases with the knowledge that they all could be taken away and I was okay with that. If I had lost my plastic hooks or scissors…they hadn’t been too expensive and I still had my preferred ones at home.
Prior to going through any security, I pulled a string through the stitches of my knitting project along the needles and tied it together. Every time.
I only had one knitting item with me….so if you have a few this could be annoying BUT you just KNOW that the one time you think “I haven’t had a problem so far, I’m sure it’ll be fine” is the time when someone will decide that your needles are not acceptable! 😛 So do it every time! Of course, if they had decided to confiscate the needles, I may have lost the project as well…I have heard of that happening before….but this way, if I had been given the opportunity to keep the project, the needles could have been easily pulled out and all the stitches saved.
Lastly, each time I went through security, I purposely pulled out the crochet pouch and the project with the needles in it and put them in a tray to go through the scanner. That way they were clearly seen and could be checked easily.
Four security scans later, I wasn’t asked once about them.
So there you go! 🙂 Hopefully this helps my fellow fibre freaks out there who also like to travel with their yarn art!
NOTE: One additional note….I was also working on a project with 15mm needles. Mine are plastic and I assume pretty non-threatening but I didn’t chance them due to their size and always put them in my checked luggage.
ANOTHER NOTE (Later…same day):
I had to add another note to share some of the awesome ideas that are being shared with me on social media!
One person suggested taking along small nail clippers for children instead of scissors and another person suggested floss…because floss packaging usually has a small sharp edge to cut floss…or yarn!
How do you travel with your needles and hooks? Leave a comment. 🙂
Would love to hear more ideas and suggestions. 🙂
I have recently been quite inspired by the various knit and crochet projects coming from the fans of the new “Outlander” show.
I read the first few books long ago, and I admit I have yet to watch the show, but the patterns and the photos are incredibly inspiring! http://www.pinterest.com/pin/548102217124727455/ http://www.pinterest.com/pin/548102217124727457/ http://www.pinterest.com/pin/548102217124727463/ http://www.pinterest.com/pin/548102217124727466/
What’s more, the costume designer purchase many of the knit pieces on Etsy! You just never know who is going to be buying your items! ….But I digress.
There are some groups on Facebook dedicated to recreating the pieces on the show, but they also share similarly inspired pieces and patterns. Amazing resources for those of us fibrefreaks who can’t get collect enough patterns!
I recently decided to experiment with a new yarn and crochet a capelet. I was thinking it may look traditional, perhaps a little victorian…..
It started as a simple plan…crochet a smallish rectangle and add a button or two.
…but it became much bigger than that!
The colours in my experimental just-want-to-see-if-this-pattern-idea-will-work yarn turned out to be quite lovely and they deserved….nay, they demanded more than a simple button.
In the end, they required lace crocheted borders, ribbon/netting lace edging, three of my favourite metal spiral buttons and a removable bow. For the first time in a long time, I had to pull out my sewing machine! And it felt amazing!
You may think that crocheting this piece was the hardest part of this project.
The yarn was quite bulky and the rectangular body crocheted up in a couple of hours tops.
The hard parts were
1) Choosing the lace to use for the edging….
I hadn’t opened my lace drawer in many many months. At first, it wouldn’t open, but when forced
I had no idea I had SO MANY different types of lace in that wee little drawer! And to make it even more difficult, I only needed two small pieces so even the remnants of lace gone-by were candidates for this project.
One after the other, I held a lace up to the piece to gauge whether it would work. I considered, I experimented, I asked friends….finally settling on, wouldn’t you know it, one of the first pieces I pulled out!
So, lace work done, I moved on to….*sob*
2) Choosing the buttons!
I started by gathering the buttons I thought I had.
And I kept finding more.
There is no reason for *any* item of clothing in our house to require a button!
Because I apparently have buttons for all occasions!
Pretty awesome, yet to decide on one set of buttons….shall I just say there was some swearing involved. As well as some “set down the buttons and come back later!” moments.
Which ones. How many.
I think this part was harder than the darn lace!
But eventually….finally…I chose a set of three buttons that I purchased over a year ago and that have been waiting patiently in a shoebox all this time for a perfect project to come around.
The final addition was a bow of lace that I sewed up and added with a pin so it could be removed.
Feeling pretty satisfied with myself at the end of it all. This lovely piece is now up for sale on my Etsy shop and I’m already thinking about making another.
Although I really wish I could find more of those awesome spiral buttons!!!
Ever since I began this obsessive fibre arts period of my life, I have enjoyed visiting local yarn shops when I travel.
I usually take the time to hunt them down before we arrive so I have a sense of where they are in the city. That also means that I can manipulate our plans to bring us near said shop and then say something like “Oh, look! There’s a yarn shop over there! It’s a sign from the universe that I should check it out! Can you pull in? I’ll only be a minute!”
Cue the sigh, the raised eyebrow and my partner B pulling out his book as he lowers his seat back and settles in for a long wait. 😉
I have to say though, that over time, I have been able to somewhat shorten my visits … well… depending on how talkative the shop owner is!
Part of the reason for this is that I like to look for local items when I travel. I visit the local yarn shop and the moment I enter, I ask if they carry anything made by local artisans. My logic is that, generally speaking, all the other mass-produced yarns can be found near my home. So if I’m going to stuff my suitcase full of lovely skeins to bring back with me, they had better be unique and one of a kind.
My most recent outing was to Port Elgin, Ontario.
We were visiting friends at their cottage and a few of us decided to head out for some needed groceries….and a chai latte! It’s always time for chai!
Anyway, I digress.
As we drove through the downtown portion of Port Elgin, it occurred to me that perhaps I could convince the driver, our friend John, and B to pop by the local yarn shop….assuming there was one.
At a red light, I googled yarn shop + port elgin and came up with Doc Knits. I excitedly mentioned that there was a yarn shop somewhere nearby and could we maaaaaybe go find it.
B looked up, pointed to the left and said “You mean THAT place?”
We were stopped at the light in front of the shop. It was the universe saying that I should *definitely* visit! 😉
They didn’t open for another half hour so we did the shopping first and then the guys parked the car and gave me some time to poke my head into the loveliness that is Doc Knits.
One of the first things I noticed about the shop is the sitting area in the back, beyond the front desk.
The second thing I noticed was BUTTONS!
It was at that point that I stopped looking and headed to the counter to ask about local yarn. The woman working there was lovely and quite friendly, I’m sorry I didn’t get her name.
She pointed me in the direction of their ShantiKnits yarn. The yarn itself wasn’t local, but the dye job was done nearby in Southampton, Ontario. Good enough for me!
I really liked her choice of colorway names! There were many skeins to choose from but I went with Chantry Mist as it seemed to be the most interesting and unique of the bunch.
Once I had decided what I would buy…I couldn’t help but look around a bit more. Just to see what they had of course!
I came across this lovely cowl, which turned out to be a free pattern off Ravelry! I liked the look of it, so I took a shot so I would remember to find it online.
AND the other item I found that excited me was an alpaca/bamboo blend yarn!
I am always on the lookout for yarns that are natural fibres, warm, and NOT wool as so many folks who order shawls from me specify that they don’t want wool of any kind.
We could get into the discussion about wool and how there are so many different kinds, treated so many different ways that it’s hard to say that all wool is the same: itchy, scratchy, rough, uncomfortable.
I absolutely love working with alpaca and I am completely happy to search for an appropriate yarn to make a custom order! It can be hard to find a heavier weight so this yarn that I came across made me happy!
Heavier weight alpaca, wool-free and chain-constructed. Perfect for those heavier winter projects I want to work on!
I didn’t buy any…I just took a picture for later! 😉
So in the end, I was in the shop for about 15-20 mins and only bought two skeins of locally dyed yarn!
That’s a success in my books!
Sometimes, you have to go all out to complete a piece of art, even when it’s a lovely piece of fibre art like this shawl!This is only the second time I have crocheted this pattern. It is a blend of a couple of different crochet projects I have come across, but the actual pattern isn’t available….yet.
It presently lives in my head, and in the pages of illegible handwriting found in my crochet notebook.
The second time turned out better than the first….although I love them both!
The skull portion of the second one improved slightly as I tweaked the stitches and tried different combinations and counts. I can only hope it will get even better with the third one, which I have already started!
I presently refer to it as the chainmail shawl since many who have seen the pictures comment that, upon first glance, it looks like chainmail. 🙂
So, searching the far corners of the earth? Yes. Yes, I did!
What happened was that a couple of months ago, I ordered two skeins of a lovely silk peacock coloured yarn from Expression Fibre Arts. After I shared a picture of my new yarn on my Facebook page (I was SO excited!), a customer contacted me and placed a custom order for a skull shawl made from that exact yarn.
I was originally concerned that I wouldn’t have enough yarn, but it worked out well and when I was done, I had about 50g left.
The same customer then requested a chain mail skull shawl with the skull edging done in the same peacock yarn.
50-60g remaining? I thought that would be enough…so I said sure!
She needed it by a certain date as it would be a birthday present. The date in question gave me a few weeks and I couldn’t foresee a problem. I had the time. I had the yarn.
Turns out, I didn’t.
My peacock yarn ran short….by THIS much!
On the right at the arrow is a hanging yellow thread…from that point to the upper left arrow…the completion of that final row was all that remained!
What a pain!
I considered changing up the pattern but it had worked incredibly well and there wasn’t much I could change to save yarn.
I checked with Chandi at Expression Fibre Arts but she was out of that yarn. Of course! Because it’s awesome!
Ravelry has this amazing feature called “stash”. It’s where you can record all the yarn you have and link to that exact brand of yarn online. It will store your amounts along with the details about that yarn so that you can keep track. You can even specify whether you’re willing to sell/trade each yarn or not.
The extra awesome thing about it is that you can nose around and look at OTHER people’s stashes!
So I did.
I found everyone on that site that had the “Peacock 2 Sparkle Silk Fingering Weight” and I sent them a desperate email! Whether they were selling their skein or not, I wrote to about a dozen people from all over! I asked if they would be willing to sell me just a wee bit…5 grams or so…20 yards give or take…to help me finish a shawl.
Many responded that they hadn’t even started working with their skein so they had no idea how much they could spare. But finally, one awesome lady from British Columbia offered to mail me 5 grams!
Her awesome, fantastic, amazing 20+ yards of peacock yarn arrived in my mailbox four days before the birthday that required this shawl!
So a couple hours to finish off the row and the edging…another day and a half or so to block the shawl (It was hot and humid…took forever to dry!)…half an hour to take a few pictures…..and then off in the mail for overnight delivery with a few hours to spare!
Last week, I signed up for a Natural Dyeing course that took place over two evenings at the Knit Cafe here in Toronto. It was a small class, only 5 of us plus the instructor and the store owner. A great size because we were able to chat, ask lots (LOTS) of questions ;), plus the space isn’t huge so it was a comfortable setting for the 7 of us.
I went in knowing a bit about dyeing yarn as a friend and I experimented recently with food colouring, but we had used vinegar as a mordant and stuck with food colour gels. In this class we learned to used alum/cream of tartar as a mordant and we dyed with food and food waste….it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot!
WASH the WOOL
The first evening we washed our wool and then placed it in a mordant bath.
Washing included placing the wool in water mixed with a squirt of mild soap (like Dawn) and squeezing the wool to ensure it was wet and to get rid of air bubbles. We heated the water for about an hour to remove any dust, dirt, chemicals etc.
I thought our wool looked pretty darn clean but the water at the end was pretty brown!
The mordant we used was 20% alum and 6% cream of tartar. The percentage refers to the weight of the mordant compared to the weight of the fibre that was to be added.
We filled large stainless steel soup pots with water, brought the water *almost* to simmering and added the mordant mixture, followed by our wool skeins. The pots remained on the heat for another 30 mins or so, until the class ended.
The wool stayed in the mordant overnight and the next day, the teacher went in about an hour early and turned all the pots back on, bringing the water back up to *almost* simmering.
Then….we starting mixing up the dye pots!
A) Red Cabbage
The first dye pot used red cabbage. The bottoms were chopped off we could simply peel away the layers. We used almost the whole cabbage except the very middle where the colour started to lighten.
Then we added water and brought it to a boil. When the dye water is 50 degrees, you can add the wool and continue heating until you are *almost* boiling. You don’t want a rolling boil as that agitate the wool and result in felting.
Well, in this case, we added the wool before it reached boiling….due to limited time and the fact that the small burners we were using were having a hard time bringing such large amounts of water to a rolling boil.
We also left the cabbage leaves in the pot with the wool….again, due to limited time.
It appeared to be dying the wool a pinkish-purply colour but in the end, the colour softened quite a bit and wasn’t the vibrant shade you would expect.
Gloves! Gloves, gloves, gloves! Plus garbage bags or some other plastic protection….
Turmeric will dye *everything*. You, your counter, the wall…so be warned! 🙂
It is a gorgeous colour and well worth experimenting with…not to mention it smells pretty good…unlike the boiling cabbage!
In this pot, we placed 800g of turmeric, two large bags. The instructor had a nylon bag that she told us she always uses with turmeric. It allows the water to flow throughout the spice and it keeps the granules from getting caught up in your fibre.
In terms of heat, it was prepped similar to the cabbage prepping mentioned above.
C) Red Onion Skins
Again, another food item that I sort of expected to equal a brilliant dye colour, but didn’t. As you can see, minutes after we added the yarn to the pot, it had already started to turn.
All of our yarn stayed in the dye pots for about an hour to an hour and a half. Again, our class had limited time so the point was really to experiment with the dyes and learn about the process so that we could return home and practice ourselves.
RESULTS Hard to capture the colours properly due to tungsten lighting next to a patio door with natural light…but as you can see, they all turned out a bit different.
On the Left: Turmeric
Brilliant goldenrod yellow
If we had had the time to leave it longer, we were told that it would have become more of a deeper orange.
In the middle: Red Cabbage
The photo above makes it look pink, but it resulted in more of a slightly pink but more blueish grey. The initial picture at the top of this post captures the colour much better.
On the Right: Red Onion Skin
This gave us a yellow-brown colour. Quite pretty actually!
We each had purchased our own wool and you can see clearly in this picture that different yarns take dyes in different ways. The front skein ended up much darker but the process was the same for both skeins.
ADDITIONAL COOL INFO
One other cool thing we learned about was the use of Iron to darken and sometimes completely change a dye colour.
A piece of the red cabbage yarn was used as an example.
First, the instructor boiled a rusty NAIL…well more of a STAKE than a nail but whatever it actually is…it deserves capital letters! 🙂
Any rust would do. You grab a bunch of rusty metal bits and boil them.
Then you dip in your yarn and in many cases, it changes almost immediately!
I’m hopeful that you can see the difference between the little piece in the centre of the pic above and the remaining skein wrapped around it. That little piece was dipped into the iron water and turned a gorgeous warm blue-grey.
Here’s another shot:
I tend to prefer darker colours so I’m thinking there will be a lot of iron in my dyeing future. 😉
So yep, I learned a lot and hope to do more yarn dyeing in future! Unfortunately, my present kitchen has next to no space for such an endeavour. Time to move! 😉
One more picture to share….
Near the end of the second class, I asked if there would be enough turmeric left in the pot to dye a shawl.
I had had this shawl on hand for about a year, crocheted it myself, but the winter hues and icy colours weren’t doing it for me.
With 800g of turmeric in the pot, there was *definitely* enough so I also dyed my shawl. I prefer the warm autumn colours to the previous colder ones so I consider it a successful experiment!
This week has been amazing! And humbling.
And absolutely chock FULL of crochet and knitting!
Last week I kicked off a Facebook campaign for Stitch Noir. I didn’t know if it would make much of a difference but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
In the last 6 days, my page likes have tripled! Very unexpected and humbling. So many nice comments, not to mention people sharing my photos and my albums. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect such a reaction!
If nothing else, it has inspired me to keep working on patterns. Altering them and making them my own. I discovered some software that allows me to create crochet charts so I have been trying to learn the ins and outs…plus I have been trying to create stock for my Etsy store….but although I have SO many ideas, I only have two hands and sadly only 24 hours in a day.
Next up, we are headed up to the family farm for around a week. Cows, pigs, chickens, horses and SHEEP! My plan is to use up every sunny day sitting out on a hay bale, scratching the ears of Claire (the lamb who loves scritches! 🙂 and crocheting. Well, perhaps I’ll also find time to take out my bicycle!
I’m pretty certain I’ll also find time to take pictures.
For now, I’ll leave you with the gallery below. This is the project I completed today: A Skull Cowl that is multi-talented and can be used as a hood, a cowl and a scarf 🙂 This pattern has received quite a bit of attention on FB. It is meant to be a multi-tasking accessory…thus the description in my shop: “Imagine an air conditioned theatre. It’s not cold outside so your shoulders are bare, but inside….well BRRRR! If you’re wearing this lovely cowl around your neck, you simply pull it down over your shoulders. Driving when it’s chilly outside…but driving with a bulky jacket on is annoying…throw the coat in the back and pull your skull cowl down over your arms. 🙂 Unexpected precipitation? Pull this lovely cowl up over your head and you have a lovely hood! I love this piece. Dressy or casual…can be made with or without a skull. Perfect for those moments when you’re chilled but aren’t going to put on a bunch of layers!”
It’s a pretty straightforward pattern to create and credit must be given to both Kungen O. Majkis for the skull inspiration and Lorene Haythorn Eppolite for the Zola cowl pattern.
I’m pleased with how it turned out and already have another three planned and yarn purchased for each.
Back to limited number of hands and hours in a day. So frustrating! 😉
Not too long ago, I came across a new pattern on Etsy whose purpose it was to use up all those leftover bits and pieces of yarn that we have upon completing various projects. (See Ravelry page with link to pattern HERE)
We of course NEVER throw out those bits, do we?! 😉 I had a variety of leftover yarn that I had been saving for JUST such an occasion so I was pretty excited! Lots of colours and so many different textures!
Type of yarn included: mohair, wool, alpaca, silk, merino, nepalese wool, Blue Leicester, etc. I avoided acrylic yarn and chose all natural fibres with the exception of some yarns that were a blend (IE one of them contains 50% Wool, 30% Nylon, 20% Alpaca).
I admit I pulled out some untouched single skeins that had been waiting for a suitable project….as long as they matched the colour scheme of course!
Yes, I did buy a couple skeins too. But I had to! The colour combination I came up with was *almost* perfect but needed a little punch so I bought a couple skeins of brighter violet and teal to balance everything out.
Once I had all the yarn gathered up, I began the project. Really straightforward, easy pattern to follow! Highly recommend you check it out! I approached it as a freeform type creation so I didn’t worry about gauge or hook size or yarn weight, I just crocheted row after row after row of pretty colours! What eventually happened was that it began to narrow due to the lighter weight yarns I was including. Eventually it narrowed from approximately 55″ to 42″. At that point I had mainly worsted weight yarns remaining and they resulted in a slightly thicker section that naturally folds over to create a lovely neckline and collar. I had to block it to really see how it looked and I think the resulting wrap is pretty darn cool!
As my interest in crochet has grown over the years…not even to the point that it takes up my free time as much as it layers itself on top of other things I’m doing…so has my wrist pain.
It isn’t to the point that I’m overly concerned, but it is there. Just beginning to complain and show itself. The odd muscle knot or tiny sharp pain zipping up into my fingers.
As a person who works with American Sign Language on a daily basis, my arms, wrists and hands are pretty darn important.
Who am I kidding, as a person who likes to write, paint, crochet, sew, etc etc etc etc…..yep, I kinda value my arms and would rather not damage them if I can help it.
So, what to do?
Take care of arms and wrists ≠ crocheting like mad for hours at a time
But I have discovered something that has really helped and I thought I would share. (No, this is not an infomercial! lol)