27 December 2011

Christmas with Henry VIII

My mother and sister made a trip to the UK last year and the absolute coolest souvenirs they brought back were a set of Christmas tree ornaments with Henry and his six wives. I'm not sure where exactly they were purchased, but I think it was a gift shop at either the Tower of London or Hampton Court.

Here's Henry: (he's sure no Jonathan Rhys-Meyers)

Catherine of Aragon:
Catherine of Aragon

Anne Boleyn:
Anne Boleyn

Jane Seymour:
Jane Seymour

Anne of Cleves:
Anne of Cleves

Catherine Howard:

Catherine Parr:
Catherine Parr

(In the course of googling to try to confirm which wife was which, I found that they are for sale as a set and individually. If you'd also like to have an English-themed Christmas tree, you can! The set seems to be different than the individual ones.)

Elizabeth I is mine! The 4% (redheads) have to stick together.
Elizabeth I

The overall effect:

26 December 2011

Paraphernalia didn't make it.

If you read my post about Paraphernalia, you'll know I hated the pattern. HATED it. In trying to work around it and start from almost scratch, I ended up with a weird number on the back of the leg and started to frog. Without lifelines. With cables. Yeahhh. FROGGED.

They became Gentlemen's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.

  Claire's socks.Claire's Christmas socks

I love this pattern. I started it before, and didn't like the yarn. This time, I think the match of yarn and pattern was great. I did do the pattern toe-up instead of top-down, but the way the patterns in this book are written makes it VERY easy to adapt them to your own preferences. (She outlines several toes and heels at the beginning and throughout the book that are interchangeable.) The pattern is deceptively easy, and most of it is stockinette, though it doesn't appear that way. I did a 64 stitch sock with a flat toe and a short-row heel.

I don't have an FO picture of these yet. I finished washing and blocking them Christmas Eve at about midnight, so needless to say, I didn't take the time to photograph them before I wrapped them. They were a gift to my sister so I know I will have an opportunity to photograph them in the future.

Pattern: Gentlemen's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern
Yarn: Lion Brand Sock Ease in Circus Peanut
Needles: US #1s / 2.25mm
Ravelry project page: http://ravel.me/JessSacto/kihgg

18 December 2011

Gradient Dyeing Attempt #1

I found this wonderful tutorial via Pinterest with instructions on gradient dyeing wool with Kool-Aid.

I had to give it a try. I have a ton of crafty stuff to get done before Christmas (in a WEEK) so I thought I'd add to that by spending hours staring at blue yarn waiting for it to exhaust.

I used Knit Picks Bare in a discontinued variety that is essentially Stroll. First, I had to divide in in half so the socks would match.
weighing half the yarn

Then I rolled the other half into a ball. The tute told me to put tension on the yarn when winding into a ball. I think this was a mistake and resulted in the dye not being able to penetrate into the ball well enough. If/when I do this again, I'll put as little tension as possible. I mean, you don't want it just falling apart but that wouldn't really be winding it into a ball, now would it? 

Also not in the instructions: soaking the yarn. The thing here is that if you use any more than a very small amount of liquid, the ball will float UNLESS it's been soaked ahead of time. So soak that puppy! There is nothing to lose. I'd add a little vinegar. What the hell. 
yarn soaking

Because I did this with blue, which we all know takes notoriously long to exhaust, I decided to do this in the oven instead of on the stove top. I wanted to be able to leave it for a long time, plus I do not relish the idea of burnt yarn. (I also like to use a probe thermometer and really be able to know what's going on.) I ended up with the yarn in a clear pyrex bowl on a baking sheet (to help prevent spills, which it did). I used Easter egg dyes AND liquid food coloring AND Kool-Aid to get the blue as dark as possible. 
Easter egg tablets dissolving:
Easter egg dye tablets dissolving

Yarn in the over with the probe thermometer. You can't tell here, but it's floating. While I do know that it's the concentration of dye to yarn and not dye to water that matters, I still used too much.dyeing in the oven using the probe thermometer

 It never fully exhausted. I'll be interested to see whether or not I get blue fingers when I knit with it. 

Then we got to the second-worst part: getting the wet yarn out of a ball and into a hank so it can dry. I don't have a niddy-noddy, which would have been extremely helpful with this aspect. It REALLY sucks trying to wind soaking wet yarn. Period. I ended up improvising and wrapping it around the baking pan I used in the oven. (It was cool, obviously.) I plopped the wet yarn balls into the bathtub (could have just as easily used the sink) so they could roll around without worrying about things getting wet/messy. By the time I was done, my arms were achy, my sweatshirt was, let's say, damp, and my hands hurt from peeling the yarn off the pan. 

getting the wet yarn off the ball. WORST PART.

Winding was the point where I discovered how little the yarn had penetrated. You can tell a little better here.

drying yarn, post dyeing

Over-all, I like the technique. I will probably try it again. I'm really interested to see how it will knit up! (It's going to be socks for my grandma.) I think there is definitely a learning curve. I'm not an expert dyer, so it is always an adventure. I think this could be done really easily in a crock pot. 

If you want a couple more tutorials one dyeing with food colors and the basics, I recommend these two: 
http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall02/FEATdyedwool.html is mostly about Kool-Aid dyeing. 

http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring07/FEATdyeyourown.html is fantastic and written by the lovely and talented SamuraiKnitter. I have this article printed out and have referred to it quite a bit in my dyeing experiments. 

There is also http://www.dyeyouryarn.com/index.html which is interesting. I haven't fully explored their site to the extent I'd like to be able to really endorse it, but it definitely seems helpful. 

I can't wait to update you with how it knit up! 

16 December 2011

Boyfriend-y socks.

One of the (at least) three pairs that needs to be done before Christmas.

These are Knit Picks Stroll in Dove Heather (grey) and Aurora Heather (forest-y green). Each time I knit with this yarn, I fall more in love with it. I'm going to knit a sweater in it one of these days. I particularly like the Dove Heather, but I have an unusual love of boring greys.

I started doing some non-stockinette stitch socks (Paraphernalia) and realized that what I love about socks is that they are mindless. Paraphernalia may be headed to the frog pond.
boyfriend-y socks in progress boyfriend-y socks almost done!

10 December 2011

The Holiday shuffle begins.

You can tell I have a million things to do because I have instead chosen to procrastinate as drastically as possible by blogging.

I have at least three pairs of socks to knit before Christmas. My sister wants a yarn tree before her Christmas party tomorrow, and the only hot glue I have is black. Not going to work for a white tree. (I'm sitting here debating doing a dark green one, but the white yarn I have is super perfect. Dilemma!)

I am heavily relying on lists and sticky notes.

The last of my hot glue was used making this wreath. This was the cutest garland I could find at the dollar store. I have another wreath form saved for when I can find cuter stuff. Did I ever mention how much actual Styrofoam sucks? Unless you want to look like you have either been playing in the snow or have a horrible dandruff problem. (Hello weird search results people!) Closed cell foam is so much better to work with.

ETA: A good picture of the wreath! 

Five-Minute Wreath

Garlic dip!

If you know me and have been to ANY of my family's parties, you know there is one staple: garlic dip.

It started with my cousin's grandma on the other side of their family and spread. We always thought it was some kind of heirloom thing. She told us recently that it came off the back of a mayonnaise jar in the 60s. No glamourous origin here!

Everyone has their take on this recipe but here are the basics:

- cream cheese, 4 oz
- garlic, peeled, 3-4 cloves
- 1 heaping tbsp mayonnaise
- Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce
- slice of red onion

Mix cream cheese and mayo. Squeeze garlic through garlic press and add to taste. Add three (or more) dashes Worcestershire and Tabasco to taste. Put onion slice in garlic press and just squeeze juice into dip.
Serve with potato chips.

That's it! Pretty basic.

I generally use almost double the garlic. I LOVE garlic! In one batch I made last summer, I used triple the garlic and a ton of Tabasco and it was great! (Adding a ton of hot sauce without upping the garlic makes it hot with little other flavor, so I wouldn't recommend it.) Definitely take the cream cheese out to soften if you're mixing this by hand. I make this in the Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment when I can. It can certainly be done by hand but it's a work out! Be careful if adding too much mayo. The texture gets too soft if you do. We always ALWAYS make a double batch. (Which meant in that batch with triple plus garlic, I used like 14 cloves!) it tends to go pretty quickly!

Just make sure that if you have some that your significant other does too. It'll give you some pretty epic garlic breath.

05 December 2011

Take a second of your time ...

Please use GoodSearch as your search engine! You can earn money for the charity of your choice just by making the searches you already do. You can also use GoodShop and find coupon codes PLUS get money donated to your charity!

I have several charities I support through GoodSearch, and right now it's Planned Parenthood.

This is for your own good! Tell your friends! Spread the word. There is no better way to make money for something you care about than by doing what you'd already be doing in the first place!

24 November 2011

Paraphernalia is my favorite word.

I've been knitting since 2002. I've knit my fair share of things for my sister. Mostly scarves, with the occasional hat or other item thrown in. Finally, after almost a decade, I'm knitting her a pair of socks. Orange, of course, as it's her favorite color.

Paraphernalia is the pattern, and it's been in my queue for a while. I really like that the cable is off-center. That is about where my like of the pattern ends. Firstly, it's top-down. I don't knit top-down socks unless I absolutely have to. (This is partly why I'm considering frogging the Crossbones socks already. That and they just aren't fun. I'm a process knitter.) The pattern also has a flap heel, which I don't think will work very well with my sis's narrow feet. I'm rewriting the pattern with the only thing the same being the cable pattern and placement. The cable chart and key are kind of weird and not very clear. Luckily I have decent cabling experience, so I know that when you have k3, p1, k3 that crosses front/left, you need to put the p on a separate needle to the back or it's wonky.

Maybe I'm just rewriting the whole goddamned pattern.

I've got four short-term WIPs going right now. Three are socks. Two plus hours of travel time tomorrow ought to put a dent in them I have a finished sweater that hasn't been photographed. May wear it tomorrow, who knows. It's green, so it'll be perfect for the Holidays. Also, this is my newest tattoo. I love it.

21 November 2011

this is what one ball of KP swish gets you.

pattern: Knucks from knitty.com by Pamela Grossman
needles: US #3s
yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Bark

Evidently one ball of Swish was not enough. I was, however, very impressed with how soft the Swish is. I love it!

20 November 2011

I'm working on my first pair of stranded socks. It's ... fun. It's really less of a mental challenge than a technical one, which is not what I was expecting. This is one repeat. I anticipate some second sock syndrome in the works.

I was worried that the Glimmer was going to be overwhelming with the sparkle effect but it's not. At all. I really want the green or the peacock-y blue for a future pair of socks.

Pattern: Hot Crossbones socks, $1.99
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll in black; Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer in Chrome
Needles: US #1s (2.25mm)