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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Solar Dyeing Adventure Continues

Do you remember my first foray into solar dying? You can see and read about it here. You'll remember it was from a kit from Spin City UK and I had taken out the first lot of yarn and I had added a second batch of yarn to the dye pot to exhaust the yarn. The yarn I used for this second batch was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in ecru. This time I tried to be more patient (it was difficult!) and I left the yarn in the pot for 4 weeks.

In the meantime I had also been doing some research into how I could continue with the solar dyeing experimenting and I bought a Kilner jar, white vinegar and some white DROPS yarn. I unwound some of the DROPS alpaca into hanks and soaked it for half an hour in 4 parts water to one part vinegar. Then I layered it into my jar with loads of onion skins (just the brown part) and then filled the jar with the water the yarn had been soaking in. Then I left it for 2 weeks and let the sun do it's work!

Last weekend I took both sets of yarn out of the dye and they are beautiful. Now I know I'm hooked on solar dyeing! I washed them out with baby shampoo but I'm definitely going to get some proper wool wash because I'm not keen on the smell.

I've already set up a new pot, this time with turmeric & paprika - It's already looking good!

I'm constantly thinking of other things to try - coffee, beetroot & berries are all in my to do list - and I keep coming across things in the kitchen & garden and thinking "that would be a good dye!" But I also need to think what I might make with all the yarn!

I did try dyeing in the microwave with food colouring too but it wasn't that successful and I ended up with a pale pinkish-grey yarn below and not the deep purple I was going for. I pre-soaked as before in water/vinegar. Not sure where I went wrong. If you have any tips, please leave me a comment!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Knitting Survey Result

During KCBW one of days encouraged you to do a survey. So I did. I've got to admit I didn't get a fantastic feedback and therefore the results are a bit flaky for my liking. I hate it when you see advertisements on the TV that say "95% of women agree that..." but then you see in small type at the bottom that only 18 people were surveyed. So I didn't feel that inspired to share the results, but I will because that's the point of doing a survey isn't it? So here they are.

 The "other" on the last chart was Mozart. A couple of people did leave me comments too saying that on the last question they did want to tick multiple boxes (TV and tea) so I am mentioning that here. I guess I did learn from this experience (embedding code in the body of my blog and of course the response of the people who did complete it! ) even if the response was not overwhelming.

Anyway, I'm off to work & then to knit, let's catch up again soon!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

On My Needles

Having finished my crochet shawl for the CFTC Make Along, I really felt a bit lost. With limited crafting time available to me I had put my knitting on hold and concentrated on the shawl. So with the MAL over I was free to pull out my needles and knit, but to be honest for the first few days I really felt I had lost my knitting mojo. What I needed was to decide on what to work on next!
I spent ages trawling Ravelry and looking at various blogs and at Pinterest for inspiration.

I discovered 2 things. Firstly, I came across the campaign Knit a Tulip for ME. I love knitting for charity and this campaign is for such a good cause.  The aim is to raise awareness and to support ME charities. Set up in 2014, the campaign is run by a group of mums who all have children suffering from the illness. Their aim is to get 25,000 knitted tulips, one for each child suffering from the illness in the UK. At the time of writing they have around 11,000 tulips from over 200 knitters. So I've been working on that. The tulips are really easy to knit and put together.

If you think you can help, head over to the campaign's Facebook page where you can find the pattern and drop Jackie an e-mail and she will send you more details on where to send the finished tulips,

Secondly, I remembered that I had purchased the Settler Shawl Pattern by Libby Jonson from Truly Murtle. Have you seen the podcast? It's really enjoyable, just like chatting to a friend. I also have been itching to cast on with one of the yarns I bought in Wonderwool. While mooning over the pattern online, I noticed in the top right corner that it had been mentioned in some forum posts and it led me to the group for the Actually Knitting Podcast. I'm really happy to find this podcast. It's an audio one which is great because you can download and listen on the train etc - perfect for the commute. Michelle is really easy to listen to and when she talks about knitting I feel like she is almost inside my head! Michelle is running a Podcast Knit Along (#palkal2015 on Instagram - check it out!) where you knit to support your favourite podcast designers or producers. I really didn't need anymore encouragement! So I dug out my Knitpro circulars and selected the yarn and cast on! Actually I did do a swatch first. It's a first for me, but the pattern warns that if the gauge is too loose, you might run out of yarn so its scared me into it! The yarn I'm using is hand dyed and is from Coastal Colours in Lancashire in the UK. It's 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk & 10% Cashmere. It's beautiful and soft and I can't wait to see how it comes out - it already has a beautiful soft stripe and I can already tell that the shawl will end up being one of those favourite items you keep going back to. The body being mostly in garter stitch means it's really easy to knit away while watching TV too!

I am also of course still continuing with the Ocean Breeze Cable Top that I have been working on. I haven't really picked it up too too much during the last month of so.

Finally surfing and reading about my handmade wardrobe which seems to be a theme on several blogs at the moment, I have been thinking that my wardrobe could really do with a couple of cardigans and it would be really great it they could be ones I have knitted for myself, This is a tough one because I'm not good at finishing things for me. However, I remembered that I had a cardigan already on the needles that had been hidden away for a while so I decided perhaps it was time to go back to it. When I got it out, I realised I had done more than I thought - the back is done and I am part one up the first front! I thought I might have to rip back the front to the ribbing by I noticed I had handily ticked off where I was up to in the pattern! The pattern is Autumn Berries and it was from Simply Knitting in November 2012. In fact, I think I started it not long after that so its been on the needles for a while! It's Sirdar Hayfield Bonus yarn with wool (80% acrylic and 20% wool) and I chose a beautiful olive green colour. So I've brought it down to my knitting corner and hopefully will finally get around to finishing it!

How about you? What are you working on?

Friday, 5 June 2015

Now I can say I crochet...

Finally, a bit later than I'd planned, I have finished my CFTC MAKE ALONG shawl! In case you are reading for the first time Sarah from Crafts From The Cwtch set up a Make Along which started on the 1st of May. The idea was to make a shawl in your non-dominant craft or with something you had not tried before. I had been meaning to learn to crochet for a while and this seemed like the ideal project to give me a push in that direction. After scouring Ravelry for patterns, I settled on Spirographical from The Shawl Project by Joanne Scrace. Here it is finally finished.

The yarn I used was DROPS Alpaca and it's beautifully soft - I would definitely recommend it. Very inexpensive too!

So did I enjoy it? Yes definitely. I loved the camaraderie of the MAL - it's inspired me to try more MALs/KALs/CALs as I've met some lovely people on Ravelry & Instagram. I did struggle a bit at first watching some people knit/crochet so quickly but I had to remind myself that it's fun, not a race and I should just go with the flow.

In terms of crochet I really enjoyed it. I would definitely crochet again. I loved the portability of it and the fact that you can pick it up and put it down so easily. I think my first love is definitely knitting, nothing can beat the rhythmic click of the needles but there's room in my life for crochet too. I'm thinking of a blanket perhaps, but not yet. Having limited time for crafting I've been neglecting my knitting and the needles are calling!

The shawl itself is beautiful. Stunning motifs. I think that for a first project it was definitely challenging. I'm not sure I'll rush to do another motif pattern, I'd like to do something in one piece so you don't have all that joining to do! As a beginner, I found the joining instructions hard to follow initially but after 3/4 motifs I was OK.

The best thing is now I can say I crochet! Definitely a bonus and part of the point of the MAL.
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome. What do you think?