a new swap: mini pin-cushions!

A new swap is starting in the Dutch Karma Swap Group.

A little handmade pincushion.
I LOVE pincushions, especially handmade ones and especially small ones!

BeFunky Collagepincushion
These are some elaborate examples from the photo pool of the Ravelry Handmade Pincushion Swap Group I participated in gladly a few years back. It was a lovely and generous group and they fortified me so much as I was still very ill back then. The group is no longer active as times have changed.

Here is my pinterest board with pincushions I either made or received, in that group or in the Dutch Karma Group:
BeFunky Collage my pincushions
So many techniques…. So much inspiration! I would gladly make any of these again for this new swap.

I have a few rules for my pincushions:
– I love small.
– it must function as a pincushion. I actually use all my pincushions!
– I won’t stick pins in an animal figure. I solve this by having all animal pincushions keep something in their paws and I stick the pins in that. The cat above holds a felted ball and the squirrel got a felted acorn to hold.
– If I make one for a swap I’ll make two: one for me and one for my swappee. This way I get to try out my idea before I make it for real AND I have a pincushion for myself at the end too 🙂

Oooh, I’m already gearing up for this swap! I would love to try a new one for this swap too. Either new in shape or a new technique. Isn’t this one marvelous?
knitting tuffet loaded by tesseresa
I think it is this pattern: Pin Cushion or Knitting Doo-dads Cushion by Carol Ann Dubrow. The pattern is no longer online but she found it in a webarchive. (Would have to improvise the embellishments myself.)

There are many more possibilities. Here’s a Ravelry database search for “pincushion”.

Do I want to knit? To crochet? Felt, embroider, sew, quilt? So many nice and diverse examples!
Pinnies :) pic by Maria Johnson

Ooooh, now I’m thinking of having a little get together in September, where we can craft on our pincushions together!
mushroom pincushion pic by LoRi

That will be nice. 🙂

A swap received: Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

I visited with Meilindis yesterday, in our important city of The Hague. We went for a stroll in the city forest (yes they have a forest in the city, with fully grown trees and it feels like visiting a green cathedral. There’s also a royal palace in the middle. And a Japanse garden.)

trees overhead pic by J E Theriot

After an hour we stopped for tea and cake.
And then she presented me with my swap!
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
A total surprise! I had only send her her own swap package the other day and now it turns out she was my return swapper all along. For our Favourite Books Swap. Rascal!

She had read the book Hitch Hiker to the Galaxy which is one of my favourites:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad coverswap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

This is an iPadcover is in her own handspun:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Project page here. Adorned with large friendly letters 🙂
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Such gorgeous colours. Exactly the green I adore: misty misty green.
For reference: these cat eyes always live in my mind.

Stitchmarkers in the binary code for 42: 101010
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
I adore mathy geekery like this. Meilindis also mentioned in the swap card that “42” in ascii code is *
And in normal/internet writing an * stand for “anything you like” which is a wonderful answer to the question about life, the universe and everything.

And she knitted a shawl in the blueest blue, which she knows I won’t knit for myself:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
The pattern is Magrathea by Martina Behm. Magrathea is the planet where planets are being designed and made.

It has an genius construction: you start at the narrow end on the right and increase, incorporating the lace edge as you go. Then, at 75% of your meterage, you stop all garter stitch and start the lace edge at the left side. It looks like its sibling but is knitted in another direction.
 pic by Meilindis
The famous shawl Hitchhiker is also by Martina Behm and is also inspired by the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy 🙂

Shawl Hitchhiker en Leftie, also by Behm:

Hitchhiker currently has 27698 projects on Ravelry!

The booklet in the swap is from the ’80’s and invites the reader to look at the world differently. Very suitable, both in reference to tHHGttG as in reference to me.
A wonderful swap!

After all the fawning over the goodies we had a nice lunch and then we went to the high quality local yarn shop of The Hague: Cross & Woods.
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
It’s “a crafting parlour”…. and they have gorgeous yarns, fabric and fibre:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

I went home with this:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Ah… uhm…

That silk cotton yarn will become a Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier:

A lovely summer top and I’ve been wanting to knit a second one for a few years now. I knit one in Tussah silk back in 2013 and I wear it a lot, even though it has the totally wrong colour.

Six weeks ago I nearly bought 4 skeins of bright yellow linen at Spinspul but it didn’t happen. Now I’ve gotten my hands on this soft, silvery yarn, I’m sure a Buttercup will happen now!

But first knit like the wind on that lila cardigan! I’m at the sleeve now and I knit in the train towards The Hague and also on the way back. I barricaded myself with woolly things in the train. This my woolly bubble:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover

Back home and I’m using the iPad cover:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
It gives a good feeling about that electronic window upon the world: the iPad.

Meilindis send two pictures of her lovely cat Freya who always helps with blocking:
swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover pic by Meilindisswap 42 hhgttg ipad cover pic by Meilindis
And I just noticed she wrote a blogpost about our double swap and she takes much better pictures than me: go read it here 🙂

Swap sent: Matilda by Roald Dahl

For the recent swap in the Dutch Karma Swap Group on Ravelry I read Matilda by Roald Dahl and made a handmade inspired by the book:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
It’s a pyramid WIP bag, with 4 equally exact triangles.

This means the height of the fabric was the width/4 x 1,73.
(Usually crafters will just make the width 4 times the height because math is scary and also because that can be nicely done with pre cut fat quarters, but that will not give a true pyramid: its top will not be in the middle of the ground plane. There’s a Dutch explanation on this Belgian blog.)

I chose the outer fabric to be nice and precise, both in print and in sewed lines to keep the batting inplace. Nice and precise, just like Matilda and my swappee are. (And like I am). My swappee is Meilindis from Meilindis.nl (English blog).

The zipper gives a hint to what else is important:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
It’s one of The Woolly Dodo stitchmarkers, without the ring.

This is the inside: chocolate cakes! Like the one the head of the school makes one of the pupils eat in totality. Enjoy some of the marvelous illustrations by Quentin Blake here 🙂

The lining of the bag:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books

And the content of the bag:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
These are her two favourite chocolates and a coupon to get some more.

Then I painted this mug, to bring some more “book” to the swap:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
Again I looked at Quentin Blake’s illustrations and let them inspire me.

This is at the bottom, because Meilindis and I both love cats:
boekenswap Matilda swap WIP bag reading books
I also included three tins of cat food for her cat 🙂

overdyeing socks

As part of a swap I offered to overdye some knee socks that had uneven colouring from a previous dye attempt.

As usual my keenness to solve a problem made me overlook all the practical obstacles. And there were some!

  1. these socks are already knitted. It’s very difficult to dye knitwear evenly. You need a big pan and lots of water and careful pacing of dye and acid to avoid spots or felting. My previous attempt failed horribly.
  2. it has previous stains. These will always show up in any overdye job. Luckily they are dye stains and not grease or anything. Still. It would be best to dye very dark and visually drain out the stain.
  3. this yarn is part acrylic. Acrylic doesn’t take acid dye. I will not be able to dye dark.
  4. these are not my socks. If I ruin these socks it’ll be terrible. Extra stress.

Luckily the knitter is a knitter and very lovely. She assured me again and again that whatever I do it will be ok. She’s open to surprises.

So I pulled out my dye pot and Ashford dyes and set about.

First: thoroughly wet the knitwear. I put it in water the day before. Squeezed out all the air. Kneaded it repeatedly. Every fibre needs to be wet.

This is how the socks look on the day of the dyeing:

overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye

The now thoroughly wetted socks display uneven colouring in a dramatic fashion, it’s not as bad as this in real life. But bad enough for the owner not to want to wear them. Which is a shame.

Second: make the dye bath. The owner had requested a half-blue colour as her favourite so that’s what I start with.

I take precautions so I can dye the fabric slowely, making adjustments along the way. For this I make the dye bath without the acid and I use lukewarm water, not hot.

I put the wet socks in the dye bath and manipulate them. I swirl them so the dye touches every part of the socks. I then stretch the knitted fabric, in all directions. I stop just short of pulling the socks inside out.
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye

Stretching the fabric to make sure the dye reaches the inner part of the stitches:

I check and recheck the colour and the evenness. Pretty soon I put the wet socks aside and adjust the dye bath to a more intense colour:
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye
Put sock back in. Swirl, knead, stretch stitches. Still no acid and no heat.

On the third bath I add a bit of red because the red stain will keep showing up. The rest of the sock will need a bit of red too. This time I keep the stained part of the sock out. It’s the rest of the sock that needs darkening. Dipping only part of the sock, keeping the stain out of the pot:
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye

When I like the overal colouring I add vinegar. Pretty soon the colour drains completely from the bath. I’m pleased that the acrylic doesn’t pose a problem, it seems to be well blended into the yarn. I could probably go some shades darker too. But I don’t like the risk of heathered colouring or felting.

Now I put it on heat to fixate.
The pre-existing stain is still there. I’m hoping it will be less prominent once the sock is dry. Do that first, fixate and dry, and then assess. I can always give it another go.
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye
This is right as I put the heat on. See how exhausted the dye bath is already?

Results:
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye

The socks are nearly dry. They are not very blue, more of a jeansy blue.

The stain is still visible but acceptable:
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye

Detail on the other side: dye right into the middle of the stitches:
overdyeing handknitted socks acid dye

but not through and through. I think this is as much as the acrylic content will allow. I hope the owner is happy with them and they get to see more wear.

 

TdF day 8: I watched someone spinning

My claims to Tour de Fleece are getting ridiculous by now.
Today I only SAW someone spinning and I’m using it as an excuse to make a TdF collage:

I myself embroidered a cat on this WIP bag:

A thing I’ve been planning for … ahum … ten months now.

A friend from the Dutch Karma Swap Group organised a crafty afternoon especially for this and I made it, fuelled by fresh mint tea and home made cake, in two hours flat.

She was quilting her first quilt, by hand, and it’s large and looks amazing:
wolfeestje borduren

My other friend was spinning, from a wonderful tin that matches her dress:
wolfeestje borduren

It was a lovely and inspiring afternoon and I’m going to finish the WIPbag asap now. We talked about dresses and sewing and I’m all fired up now to do some sewing.

The Happy Swap Blues

Did you know that I don’t like to knit with blue yarns?
It’s true. I don’t like to knit with blue yarns and I can’t explain why. I find it boring. Tedious. It makes me moody and cross.
While blue is THE colour to compliment my face.

Luckily we have the “Achterstevorenswap” in the Dutch Karma Swap Group and I love to offer to forfill people’s wishes and as a result get to post my own wishes regularly.
Just recently I wished for a pair of blue socks and another time I wished that someone would knit me a shawl with my own blue yarn.

Both wishes were granted!

These are my new, blue socks:
blue handknits
These are Ophidia socks, a design by Hypercycloid Designs. These were knitted by Helga, as part of Tour de Sock 2015. TdS is a different kind of international sock knitting competition than Sock Madness: “Ophidia is Stage 5 of the 2015 Tour de Sock, a six-stage speed knitting competition benefitting Doctors Without Borders.”

Beautiful blue socks! With cables and ribbing and *sparkly* red and pink accents. Things I could never make myself and now this pair is mine 🙂
blue handknits

Helga also send me some little balls of yarn in nice colours for stranded knitting:blue handknits
Marvelous!

Having forfilled my wish Helga got to post her own wishes and I offered to fulfill one of them and she chose my offer! So with the socks and the balls of yarn came a pair of knee high socks that needs to be overdyed. A bold adventure since the yarn is half wool half acrylic and acrylic does not take up dye. Also: it’s very difficult to dye an existing knit in an even way. For even dyeing you need to stir the pot and you can’t stir knitwear because it will felt.

It’s pretty daunting wanting to dye something this complicated for someone else but Helga is very gracious about it and about half of the time I feel like I know enough about dyeing to give it a try. I’ll make sure to start the dyeing project only when I feel like that!

My other swap wish was a shawl from my own blue yarn and I got it and I blocked it yesterday evening!
blue handknitsblue handknits
This pattern is Liliaceae by Angelika Luidl, a free pattern. I used this pattern once before, in 2010, to knit my mother a shawl in a very high end yarn:


This yarn is The Old Piggery Merino/Tencel Sock in the colour Sweet pea, 50% soft merino 50% tencel. Beautiful yarn! So soft en with such gleam. I bought it specifically to knit a shawl for my mother with, when I was on holiday, by myself, to Devon, to a knitter’s retreat, in 2010. It was a long weekend and it took me about a week to travel there because I had to make all kinds of arrangements because back then I could only travel for one hour and then had to lie flat for an hour. It was a wonderful weekend 🙂

It’s where I learned proper darning (Swish darning) and also carding with colours, from the inspiring Wrigglefingers whom I since have met again at Midwinterwol where she gives workshops in this technique and also: her daughter sells handdyed wool and I bought this green yarn at the last Midwinterwol for a Spring vest and it has indeed been cast on 🙂


Welsh Mule yarn by Shepherd Cat.

Yeah. It was a special holiday for me back then, still being very ill, and it being all about knitting. I wasn’t carefree enough to buy myself quality yarns back then but I did for my mum.

Now, in 2017, I am better in buying luxury yarn for myself and I bought and dyed this:


The yarn is Chester Wool 4 ply Mulberry silk,  that I dyed myself just a few weeks ago.
This yarn is thinner than the pattern calls for and that’s why Anneke cast on for 19 pattern repeats instead of 17. She knitted with needles 3,5 mm and used 85 grams of the 100 grams skein. The shawl is plenty wide and high enough.

Now I have this lovely Summer shawl I would never have knitted for myself, in just the right colour. 🙂

“Just add a little green….”

I wanted to dye a skein of soft fingering yarn cornflower blue.

Because I’ve won the Make-A-Wish-Swap in the Dutch Karma Swap Group again and my wish was for someone to knit me a blue shawlette 🙂 because my eyes looks smashing when I wear blue next to my face but I myself don’t like to knit with blue (???).

Easy plan, easy dye. I went to the cabin yesterday, one day before my husband, and pulled the pots and pans from the wool room. Lillepoes was giving directions.

And I ended up with green instead of blue:

It won’t photograph properly. It’s a deeply saturated dark green with blue semi solid. It was a green variegated yarn to begin with and when adding blue it became VERY BLUEGREEN. The kind I don’t like at all.

Then, while trying to make it a proper green instead of a teal, I mixed too much green dye and then had to find extra things to dye green.

By then it was already getting really late. The cat kept nagging me, demanding food and attention and bed routine. But I knew I had to finish it all before bed (rinsing and spinning it all dry and putting it on the drying rack in the middle of the room) and clean everything up too because things had to be tidy for this morning or my husband and Poekie wouldn’t fit in the room.
dyeing wool
dyeing wooldyeing wool
Oh man, why do I do this to myself? Again and again? (I must secretly love it, that’s the only explanation for it. Alright, alright, the only sane explanation for it.)

Dyeing on the evening of a busy day in which I drove all the way to the cabin, by myself, with Lillepoes loudly giving directions for the full 75 minutes it takes me to drive there and with all the mad people on the road, clearly all letting their blind cats hold the wheel.

Sigh. Stuck with a cup full of extra strong green dye I found myself digging through the stashroom, late at night, frantically looking for more stuff to dye.

Here I am chucking dry fleece and dry silk into the pot with the dark skein from the first pictures:
dyeing wool
The fleece is Swifter that I had dyed too “Autumny” and too blue-green back in the Autumn. It’s such great fleece! Great staple, nice touch, nice smell. When I rooted through the stash-room I had real difficulty not to dismiss all plans I have for the next few days and start carding it right away. Lovely fleece!
This:

became that:

Now card it in with the rest of the white and I’ll spin for a lovely jumper!

Make haste! make haste! I cannot wait to spin this! No. Wait. Noooo. We are knitting the Sock Madness sock while we are at the cabin. We are also casting on for a new vest if we need to do something on bigger needles. And we have the Music Maker sock with us for easy knitting. We have an all day birthday visit on Saturday and an all morning spinning group on Tuesday and we will be travelling back on Wednesday and there were a thousand things you wanted to paint while here. Also shower. So: no. No carding.

The silk skein I threw in is the lovely mulberry silk fingering yarn. But I kept it in short because I want my silk to be lightly coloured. Like willow wisps:

Yes, succes!

Silk soaks up colour like nobody’s business, I could actually use it as “a mop” to drain the dye from the water and dye the fleece evenly and not too dark. I was lucky though, the water had not had vinegar yet which makes dye soak into silk even faster. Too fast would have been a problem here because silk needs to be presoaked for quite a while to become thoroughly saturated. Only thoroughly saturated yarn will take up dye evenly.

Otherwise it will stay on the surface and only in the places that are wet. Which is a desirable effect on its own when dyeing speckles or for a sprayed look. But not for me, this night.

I was also lucky in not overdoing it and dye the silk too intense. It’s hard to gauge a shade when the yarn is wet and when you’re dyeing in the evening. The lamp over my dyepot is a daylight lamp but still… better to dye during the daytime.

I then started the pot again. This time dyeing with just Ashford blue, on an undyed base. But I had no sheep yarn left. I did have more silk though…. not sure my well-wisher wants to knit with it. Silk is slippery, especially this mulberry silk (my favourite!). But the colour is s*m*a*s*h*i*n*g*l*y blue:

I would LOVE to wear this colour near my face.

Again I had to take care to not leave the silk in too long. It is a bit more intense than I wanted. I remember thinking: “O yes, this is just right! Or maybe a little too light?…. I’ll just leave it in the water, the water is nearly clear anyway.”

And then the silk went and soaked every bit of dye it could find and became two or three shades darker than I had wanted. Still beautiful.

For a while I had the silk parked outside the pot and threw in two bits of sparkly sock  yarn to “mop up” the extra dye in the water. When they had done so (but apparently not to the maximum extend) I put the silk back in and heated everything to dyeing temperature and added vinegar

It’s happily blue glitter yarn now 🙂
The light one used to be light green, the dark one was a multicolour. They now go well together. Perhaps for a crocheted hat?

Aw, the sparkle doesn’t show one bit in the picture. It’s very pronounced in real life though and will look great in crocheted fabric. I have 25 grams of the dark, 45 grams of the light. Enough for a pair of knitted socks for me. Enough for a crocheted hat?

Mad about Socks: the swap I sent

So in the Dutch Karma Swap Group we’re doing the Mad about Socks swap at the moment and this is the swap I send.

I secretly stalked Anneke, who is very good in knitting socks and loves happy colours. I send her this skein of sock yarn:

Handdyed by Tibbe, who loves happy and intense colours.

I also made an aquarel of her dear dog Dunya:

Using the water colours I bought in Germany and thick, smooth paper. This is actually the first aquarel I ever made. Where I knew a bit what I was doing, I mean.

This is the photo I found online in one of Anneke’s posts and it iss clear she loves Dunya very much. And Dunya her!

Dunya is an elderly Scottish Border Collie. She wears shoes when she goed outside, because of joint pains. A sweet dog wearing socks, that’s how I tied it to the swap.

Her whole family loves dogs so I also made a drawing of her daughter’s dog, who was professionally photographed by Angelique van Doorn from AngeliquevanDoornfotografie.nl:

dog aquarel watercolor
Sketches on the right, send image on the left.
Anneke was happy with them! She went out and bought frames the same day. I’m glowing with happiness 🙂

This is the rest of the swap I send:
swap send
Four solid miniskeins for stranded socks, a brightly coloured half cake I dyed myself when happy colours were very important to me, a mini cake in a yarn that knits up like tiger paws and a key chain of a sheep with adorable feet.

That tiger striping yarn I received myself in a swap but never knew what to do with. I used a bit to knit this pincushion:
Tiny pincushion

This is a good swap 🙂

Mine was well received.
I got to play with watercolours and I’m fortified in my hope that the joy I have when depicting a lovely animal is visible in the end result.
(If you want specifics: I used Schmincke Horadam water colours and a very smooth paper of 300 grams weight: Schut Terschelling Glad (my favourite!)).

The swap I received made me happy too 🙂
I’m looking forward to using the quality Dutch Wool Diva sock yarn. And the glass items are already in use. One holds stitch markers, the other the first flowers of Spring:
Untitled

The Mad About Socks Swap: received

The Dutch Karma Swap Group has a secret mail swap going on, Mad about Socks. Emphasize on Mad:

It runs coincidentally with the SockMadness but any madness is good: Mad Head Socks (aka hats), Mad Hans Socks (aka mittens).

Over the past few weeks we had some fun in the thread, answering silly questions. And now the parcels are reaching their destinations!

When I came home from the Women’s March on Saturday my swap was waiting for me:

That’s Dutch Wool Diva Sock Star in the colour Grey Hare!

The same colour I bought for myself last year, when Dutch Wool Diva opened her brick and mortar store. I then testknitted her design, Bines socks, from it:

I wear these socks a lot. Alot! (please pet you’re alot whenever you pass it)

The pattern ia Bines by Dutch Wool Diva, knitted on 2,25 mm, used 70 grams. The remainder of the skein I used in the Wolop Advent shawl.

Now I have a second skein! A wonderful choice by my swap partner, Yarncontaminated. I’d said that silvery greys are my favourite at the moment and she had a look at my inspirational board:

Wonderful colour.

Ahh, to think what to knit with it. I’m leaning towards another pair of socks, seeing as this is the Mad about Socks swap and I love wearing my existing pair in this colourway and stitches show up very nice in this yarn and pretty soon we’ll be getting the new pattern for the Sock Madness.

I do need to finish the qualification pair first though. Deadline is Thursday night (=3AM in America). I’m knitting like mad!

swap received: seasonal postage swap

For seasonal greetings we have a cheaper stamp in the month of December. In the Dutch Karma Swap Group we have a fun swap of trying to send the maximum that’s allowed with the cheap stamp. One stamp allows for 50 grams in a paper envelop not thicker than 3,2 mm and not wider than 30 x 24 cm.
This is what I got today!
kerstzegelswap NKS Ravelry
All favourite things of me: a small tin, stitchmarkers, darning needles and decorative band for the project bags I am sewing one of these days…. soon…
And a lavender wool wash soap. A lavender kind. And a no rinse kind, from the good brand Eucalan. I don’t know this no rinse-washes. I’ll sure give this a try next time I wash my socks or other handknits.

Here’s a close up of the stitch markers, they have an amethyst bead on them and they are well made: totally snag free.
stekenmarkeerders met amethist, kerstzegelswap NKS ravelry

The stranded pouch is expertly knit. Even tension and all that. It’s a delight to look at and to handle.
I filled it up with some fiberfill and a bit of lavender I cut off our plants earlier this year.
stranded pincushion with lavendel in it. I love darning needles! kerstzegelswap NKS Ravelry
Using the darning needles that were in the envelope. And a piece of yarn my fellow raveler so thoughtfully send with.

It now smells so good here!
stranded pincushion with lavendel in it. I love darning needles! kerstzegelswap NKS Ravelrystranded pincushion with lavendel in it. I love darning needles! kerstzegelswap NKS Ravelry
stranded pincushion with lavendel in it. I love darning needles! kerstzegelswap NKS Ravelry
Beautifully knit.

A very thoughtful swap. Thank you.