Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

5. October 2009 10:14
by Jobo

Fiddlehead Mittens... Still in the Mitten Prepping Stages

5. October 2009 10:14 by Jobo | 6 Comments

Some time ago I saw this amazing pair of mittens...

David's Handspun Fiddleheads

                                                        Photo Courtesy of David, at Southern Cross Fibre


That's when I knew that SOMEDAY I would have to make a pair too.  I think what struck me particularly about David's pair is the fact that the yarn colours were so cheery, and the mittens looked so well made and luxuriously soft.  Imagine my surprise when I went on to stalk read that they were made from his own Handspun yarn too!  (you can read all about it on his blog - here )

So I set out to try and come up with my own ideas about color and fibre to try and make a pair for myself.  I have some really fine, soft merino in my stash, so I think that's the natural choice for my main fiber, but I think an Angora Blend will add some luxury for the lining.  (see last post for more about my lining designing!)

I wasn't at all sure how much fiber I would need for each part, so I started studying the specific yarns called for in the pattern (Fiddlehead Mittens - Hello Yarn) and checked on Ravelry project pages to see what kinds of yarns other people had used.  Both original yarns were approximately 11 - 12 WPI (wraps per inch) and considered about a DK or Sport Weight.  In some ways it is kind of fun to try and "match" a required yarn with my own handspun.  Makes me feel like I am finally able to use my skills, and that all of the Wooly-Internet-Surfing has finally paid off?

David used about an ounce of each of the 5 contrasting colors for his mittens, so I started there.  Because I was afraid that I might lose/waste some of the fiber and be in trouble, I decided to use a little more than he did - about 2 ounces and hope that it makes enough for two pairs in the end.  For the lining I carded up about 4.5 ounces of merino/angora.  I think I will spin up all of the individual colors before I do the Main color, and hopefully I will be able to extrapolate a fiber quantity from my experience with the other parts.

Here is what my final swatch of Angora Merino (10% / 90%) looks like - at around 11 - 12 WPI, I think it will work just fine.  I've carried the swatch around in my pocket for a few days, hoping to bloom the angora halo of the yarn similar to what a little wear will look like.  It doesn't seem to be getting pilly or anything, but the light angora halo is definetly starting to come out.  At first I was a little disappointed with the greyish-oatmeal color, but I think it is growing on me.  For a lining (where hands, and dirt may enter) it's Probably best that the lining isn't pure white anyways.

The next step was to choose some colors and dye up some wool for the 5 contrasting colors.  (My main color will be a natural white wool)  I have a very minimal selection of Landscape Dyes, so for this project my colors were limited.  I want to achieve heathery shades similar to David's so I settled on dyeing the roving in a "kettle" fashion, where the wool would be semisolid and then I'll card it to mix up the darker and lighter shades. 

As for Dyeing process... I had read a post a while back (sorry I forget who posted it!) in a dyeing group on Ravelry, that another user would sometimes just shove the wool into a big jar with some hot dye solution and let the color wick from the bottom of the jar up the wool.  If done correctly, the wool would be darkest near the bottom of the jar, since it would have had the most contact with the wool and things would get lighter near the top.  I have been saving the 12 ounce Jars that Spaghetti sauce comes in just for this purpose... sorry I forgot to take pictures of the wool in process

Here is what I ended up with!  You can sort of see in the picture how the color is more of a semisolid with some lighter and darker bits.  I had folded up the roving accordion style, so when it went into the jar there was a repeating dark/light pattern.  I made sure to put Hot wool (soaking in hot water) into the jars full of hot dye bath to avoid felting.  After the wool was in, and comfy of course, I filled the sink with water as hot as the tap would allow, and stood the jars in the sink and left the whole thing to steep for about an hour.  (I refilled the sink with hot water about halfway through)  It was surprising just how hot it stayed in the jars.   After the hour, when I rinsed, there was quite a bit of dye runoff which was disappointing.  I had eyeballed how much dye to use.  Must really go out and buy scale sometime. 

Now I am waiting for them all to dry (were still damp this morning) so I can start carding them up.  I think I will try carding each colour alone first, and if there isn't a heathery enough feel, I might throw in a few handfuls of natural merino just to give it some contrast.   Speaking of which... this means I should probably clean out my drum carder too.  Sigh.  Always more cleaning isn't there?

It's nice to have a new project to daydream about :)

2. October 2009 18:51
by Jobo

Sock Yarn - forget 'Carte Blanche'... I have 'Yarne Blanche'

2. October 2009 18:51 by Jobo | 1 Comments

Pretty mountain of undyed yarn... *pat pat*

A few weeks ago I got the bright idea to go ahead and try dyeing some yarn... since I am enjoying dyeing wool I figured - Hey! Whynnot?

I bought 1 kg of yarn (about 2.2 lbs) which works out to be 10 x 100 g skeins.  This particular lot is Superwash Merino (with 25% nylon for durability) Sock Yarn which has approximately 450 yards per skein (so a nice big fat skein)

When It finally arrived, I was really impressed at the softness and consistant quality of the yarn. I think it will be really fun to start dyeing it up and using my imagination.  It's kind of like a Yarn "Carte Blanche"!  Sky is the limit.  I thought I might try and sell a few skeins to offset the cost of buying so much at once... but I fear this might be more difficult than it sounds.  I already have a 'thing' for hording sock yarn!

This is what 1 kg of yarn looks like in a bag... resist... urge... to dive in.... resist!

1. October 2009 08:21
by Jobo

Elvish Leaves... Blocked and Ready to Rock!

1. October 2009 08:21 by Jobo | 1 Comments

Finally, last night the weather and my hectic work schedule cooperated and allowed a sock photo session before dark!


Elvish Leaves (Elfine's Socks by Anna Bell)

JL Vinca Sock Yarn

Overall, I am quite pleased with the results.  These socks were my first pair done toe-up using Judy's magic cast on for DPNs.  If you haven't tried this technique, it was a little tricky at first but pretty reasonable.  I did find that you needed to go back and tighten up that first cast on row at the end of the toe (similar to the process of snugging up a kitchener stitch toe after the graft has been completed) but the real draw for me was no "wrapping and turning" back and forth for the toe.  The M1 increases (I did Knit Front and Back increases) made a nice clean line at the toe.

You can see it a bit in this close up - The yarn itself had some really nice colour shade progressions.  I really liked the way the 2 strands changed colour at different rates.   Several times I found myself thinking... is it changing colour?  I dunno?  and then looking back after an hours work and seeing the very gradual soft shift.  I don't know why I like this style of yarn, I just do.  It keeps things interesting :)

I really liked working on this cascading leaf style pattern.  It was very predictable, highly memorizable, and easy to pick up when put down unexpectedly.  The pattern was very clearly written and easy to follow, a "must knit" really if you are a sock-a-teer.  Before blocking the leaves were quite bumpy and lumpy, but after a warm water bath and an overnight on the blockers, things smoothed right out.  I am always amazed about how much better things look after a bath and a block.  Even the stockinette sole looked smoother after blocking.

As far as the yarn goes, I was skeptical about whether or not I would be happy with the finished product.  Some consumers have argued that no two balls of Vinca are ever the same, but I found my two balls to knit up quite predictably the same.  It seems there was a similar amount of each colour in the skeins, similar progressions, and very much alike from my experience.  I did find the yarn to be a bit thin and splitty, but for lace socks, I wasn't really concerned with thickness and warmth.  For light and lacy this style of yarn was perfect.  The next real test will come when these babies are worn and washed a few times.  There were some linty bits here and there in the skein, but I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the yarn being pilly or felty.  The yarn seemed to like the blocking bath, so who knows. I'll keep you posted on the durability of the finished socks.

This was also my first time working short row heels in contrasting colours.  I was concerned during the construction process that knitting the heel in line with the rest of the sock would perhaps interrupt my colour progression from the foot to the ankle.  So I knit the heels with a contrasting colour from the outside of the ball.  This of course means more ends to weave in, but I really like the effect it achieved.  It makes the heel stand out and sets them apart from the plain stockinette soles I think :)

Once again, another pair bites the dust... and my Nanners are coming along nicely too.  I hope to show you more about them later in the week.  Sock one is up past the heel, and I have a good 2 hour wait at the doctor's office this afternoon.  I would say the first one will be finished before I get home.  Funny how I'd be furious years ago if someone kept me waiting that long... Now I just pack knitting accordingly and I'm good to go!


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