Tag Archives: yarn

When in doubt, or just feeling bloated, dye.

I’m in stash overload. I received money for my birthday and my checks for some work finally came in right before Christmas, so as a result I went on a yarn shopping spree the likes of which haven’t been seen in, oh, never. Now, “shopping spree” doesn’t mean that I didn’t get great deals (oh no, trust me. I computed like a little Scrooge McDuck) but it does mean that I bought. alot. of. yarn. all. at. once. And while it was fun at the time, now, a week later, it is all starting to arrive. And I, consequently, am feeling a little bit, shall we say, bloated? No, seriously, I feel like I just bought out the candy store and ate it all at once.

So, naturally, there is nothing to do by get rid of the old stuff!!! This does not, as you may have assumed, mean that I am ridding myself of my current yarns by having some sort of destash or sale. Ha! Please. What it does mean is that I am completing some yarn-related projects. Namely, I am dyeing up a whole bunch of yarn. I dye when the spirit hits me, when I’m in the mood, or when I’m feeling the white, privileged, Protestant guilt of excess.

And so I dyed some yarn! and I’m actually really pleased with myself, because I think that my skills are getting marginally better and that my photography talents are becoming dynamite. Anyways, I was inspired last time I dyed to start a Anne of Green Gables series of dye jobs, and I just decided to continue that this time. So, without further ado, here are:

Bosom Friends

I’m highly pleased with the first one, as it’s far more difficult to manage pale colors than I thought.

Marilla's Raspberry Cordial

The third is great because I was able to use red and orange successfully to create something bold but not bland.

Autumn in Avonlea

And actually, I confess I am a bit in love with the last one.


An Unfortunate Lily Maid

Ok, to bed I must go, because the day is done, I have happily removed this yarn to my Etsy shop, and all is right with my stash. Well, almost. I think more yarn arrives tomorrow!

Mask is done!

I reknit the mask and it’s gorgeous. It took a bit more yarn than the last one (26 yards), but every design flaw has been mended. I immediately laid it on the table that I use for photographing my yarns and moved everything else away from it so that it didn’t get rumpled. I finally got a chance to photograph it and edit the images yesterday, and I think everything came out pretty well. It was kinda dark outside (ok, raining and miserable), so I decided to go for a moody, spa-like look. I nabbed a crappy candle that I’d never used from one shelf and a shell that was filled with stylish toothpicks from another and shoved them together. Then I prayed that I didn’t set the curtain on fire, since I create my “lightbox” effect by wrapping the white sheers around the table. Oy! Everything went well. I found a wee little mistake in my seed stitch border on the mask (oops!) but it’s tiny and hopefully no will notice or care. Oh, and I used the pink ribbon for color and to mimic the effect of ties (if you are into that sort of thing, which I am not). Here’s some photo p0rn for you:

Oh! And I’ve been working on getting submitted as a pattern designer on Ravelry! It’s harder than it looks, so I’m actually glad I started before my official “release” date, which I randomly decided would be Oct. 1. I got OK’d today, so here’s a link to the page, even though the pattern isn’t up yet. People are already favoriting it!

More ruching fun

Yey! I am shocked at how fast my masks knit up! It was much harder to actually come up with the design than it was to actually knit them. I did two – one which I am calling my “prototype” and my second one which was perfect.  It  took me a couple hours to knit them, and I was watching TV and taking notes while I did it, so I think it went pretty well. The hardest part was making sure I got the ruching to look correct – I had to knit and then tink and then scratch out my notes and then reknit and then frog and then recount and reknit multiple times.

I made a seed stitch border, and had to do that a couple different times to make sure I was hiding the cast-on edge and the bind-off as well. I feel like I am teaching myself a lot as I knit this. The first one was a  little too large for my head and doesn’t really have great “lift.” I used size US 8s, as your average worsted weight yarn calls for, and after examining it, decided the mask would work much better on smaller needles. I cast on 13 stitches and only used 27 grams yarn, or 24 yards.

For the second prototype I cast on 17 stitches using size US 6 needles, and I could tell right from the beginning that it was working much better. The seed stitch pattern was more even (I had to make sure everything was symmetrical) and instead of a seed stitch band across the nose bridge, which lets in too much light, I just continued the stockinette stitch pattern. Tomorrow I’m going to make a third mask for photographing purposes because this poor mask is so beat up from my ripping back multiple times to get the pattern written correctly.

The ruching, the ruching…

…what what the ruching.

So I’ve gotten this idea in my head to make a sleep mask. I really dislike all of the sleep mask patterns that are free on Ravelry, for various reasons. Some are wonky-looking, others are padded, and still more are just plain ugly. The problem is that I’m very picky about my eye masks. My uncle bought me an eye mask for Christmas one year when I was in college. It was made of silk and stuffed with lavender, a scent which I absolutely detest, and always lay really heavily on my eyes. Sometimes I actually had trouble falling to sleep because it pressed down on my eyes so much. Luckily, I eventually lost it, and no longer had to suffer with the damn thing anymore.

But a couple nights recently the neighbors have left the lights on, making my bedroom fill will light and giving me a frustrating night’s sleep. So I started contemplating a lightweight mask that wouldn’t lay flat against my eyes. It needed to be gathered, to give it a little lift, and made out of something super-soft, like Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton.

I found a cool, little-used design element – ruching – and then scavenged through patterns on Ravelry for how to do it. I think I know now, but there aren’t really any properly designed free patterns that use this technique, so I’m kind of winging it based on my knowledge of increasing and decreasing and from looking at photos. I’m going to use this very nice cotton/rayon/acrylic blend yarn that I got from my friend Crystal (bradymom29), and I’m hopeful this will work!

Flash Your Stash 2009

Today is that annual event, the motherlode of all motherlodes: FLASH YOUR STASH DAY! And so I decided to photograph my stash. And it covered my bed. And it is massive. How did I acquire so much yarn? Why do I think I don’t have enough?

Here is my stash still in its bags:

Flash Your Stash Day 2009

Here is it unveiled:

Flash Your Stash Day 2009

Wow, I must admit I’ve never flashed my stash before. It is a little daunting. And here I thought I didn’t have that much – I think my stash is actually small compared to other people’s on Ravelry (I only have about 100 yarns).

How to take a good fibery photograph

I think I take pretty good photos on Ravelry and Etsy, and all I use is a simple point and shoot camera – a little Samsung digital camera purchased at Sam’s Club. This is my model:

I did take a couple B&W photography classes growing up (one in middle school, one in high school), and I’ve always loved taking photos, but it really just comes down to a few simple rules. I’m so low-tech it’s funny.

1.) Indoors during the day: I fine a flat, plain white space like my desk to pose my yarn on. I open the sheers and wrap them around the desk, which creates a light box effect. Make sure that the sun is not shining directly on the yarn. The key here is a nice bright day with indirect light (and yes, cloudy days that are nice work too).

2.) Indoors at night: Use bright lights. I take two plain white/off-white pillow cases and cover my armchair with them. I turn on all the lights in the room and place them as close to the chair as possible. Make sure your background is plain. Busy backgrounds like carpets and prints detract from the item you are photographing.

3.) I turn off the flash first. I do not use the camera zoom. I use my macro setting, which is the tiny flower button on your camera:

4.) I get up close and personal (like within 6-12 inches) and hold the camera VERY STEADY in my hands. Sometimes I have to take several photographs because one or two might be blurry and shaky. I push down on the button HALF-WAY and allow the image to focus on something. When I can see that the part of the yarn or object I want to photograph is crisp, I take the picture.

5.) I pop the card into my computer, use a photo program like Microsoft’s built-in fix it tool (it’s part of Windows Photo Gallery) to auto adjust the image brightness and contrast, and my image is ready for Etsy or Ravelry.

And here’s a great “before” and “after” example of what these simple rules can do for you.

Before:

After:

And here are some examples of how different lighting situations can produce different results:

Ravelry Stash Photo – natural lighting, indoors during daytime on bedsheets

Ravelry Stash Photo – artificial lighting, indoors at night on sheet-covered chair

Ravelry Stash Photo – natural lighting, indoors during daytime, use of macro tool for extreme close-up

I know it sounds crazy, but its really that simple. I know that it’s not just me thinking that its easy either, because I was at a friend’s house this weekend playing with her stash and I showed her how to take photos like I do. Now she knows how to as well. Here’s her latest photo:

Ravelry Stash Photo – natural lighting, indoors during daytime on white windowsill

Good luck!

My First Project – The Knitting Jenny

Recently I discovered an old thing I’d made as a child, buried in the back of a closet at my parents’ house. It greatly amuses me so I thought I’d share. I’d forgotten completely that I’d worked with yarn at an early age. I looked it up online and after a bit of searching I discovered that what I had was a version of the famous ’80s crafting toy The Knitting Jenny.

The Knitting Jenny

I received the Knitting Jenny as a gift when I was a child of about 10, most likely from my grandmother or great-aunt. As I had already learned how to sew, I quickly threaded the acrylic yarn through the square plastic “potholder” type object, using a different colored yarn for each row so that it created a fun concentric design. Now that I think about it, this was probably supposed to be one of those rug-like objects, where you pull the yarn through and create an image out of the short, fluffy bits that pop through the top. Oh well, I wasn’t really into instructions even then.

The Potholder Thingie

I remember that I lost interest in the loom when it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. It wasn’t very sturdy, I didn’t know what all oft he other little oddments were that went with it (pompom makers, crochet hook, knitting needles) and I was hitting my “anti-Barbie-pink” phase. Needless to say, it took another decade before I actually began knitting. I can proudly say, though, that my first “knitting” project was attempted at a much younger age.

My Knitting Jenny

I’m amazed that all of this stuff survived to adulthood, and I rather like that the knitting needles are so well-designed for small hands. Naturally, if I’d never gotten back into yarn stuff I would probably have just pitched this all, but it seems appropriate to keep it because it shows how far I’ve come. I think I’ll save this for nostalgia’s sake and for my kids to learn to knit with.