Tuesday, 1 January 2019


Hello 2019, nice to meet you.

2018 was a great year, don't get me wrong. But for this bright and shiny new year, I want so much more.

First of all, I want to shake the dust off of my DSLR camera, and really take some pictures. And then turn around and use them to celebrate and share my knits and craft.

So here we go.

Here is my Tecumseh, which I squeaked in just under the wire, casting it off on New Years Eve morning, and washing, blocking and even sending it for a tumble through the dryer that day. Heck I rang in the new year wearing it (after taking a nap, partier that I am). The pattern is of course by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks (a fellow mom of twin boys).

The yarn, well its extra special. I dyed it all myself. More on that in the next few days.

And the place, our little homestead here in Olds, Alberta, just about the most beautiful place you could ever want to live.

Overall, it's a super comfy sweater, although I'm not sold on the dropped arm holes (or whatever you might want to call it). But this one is destined to by a sample, and a symbol, of what I want to achieve this year. And I love it. So happy 2019 fibre friends, hope yours is bright.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Things I knit in Crowsnest Pass

We just got back home to Medicine Hat, after spending pretty much all of February in Crowsnest Pass. And while I was unpacking today I thought both: hey I finished a fair number of knits there and yeep I didn't knit half of what I brought with me.

The problem of course being the presence of a lovely little yarn shop in CNP, A Nest of Needles.

Some tiny Patons Kroy Socks.

My Carbeth of course.

This little Boy Sweater.

A hat for Kevin for Valentines Day.

A gift hat that turned out too small.

I finished my Flock Colourwork Sweater.

And a second hat, much larger, but I forgot to take a FO picture (probably because I cast it off the morning we left. Which meant I blocked it and dried it real quick on a heating vent).

Two sleeves and the start on the body for my Hearthstone sweater.

Plus a sock and a half for Kevin (no picture).

Oh... and somehow, this followed me home as well:

It's going to be a Carbeth Cardigan.... once I finish my thesis.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Let's try this again.

The rather beautiful home we have been occupying this past week and a half belongs to a family with a 5 year old boy.

So of course I decided I would knit him a hat.

I was inspired by the pile of hats the Yarn Harlot knit at Christmas this year.

Pattern is Tiny Lumberjack by Fiona Alice, available on Ravelry.

So I popped into our LYS (A Nest Of Needles in Blairmore, AB) and grabbed myself three skeins of Cascade 220 superwash.

Colours, I believe (as I tossed the ball bands straight away), are silver grey, aran and really red.

However, I had it in my head that I wanted to knit the Antler Hat (by Tin Can Knits) only Tiny Lumberjack style. Particularly because the Tiny Lumberjack is knit with sport weight and sized only for babies, whereas the Antler Hat, like all Tin Can Knits patterns is sized from newborn to adult.

So I picked the child size, cast on 84 stitches with the recommended 4mm needles and switched to 5mm needles after knitting the brim.

And poof, hat. Don't mind the crown decreases there, about half way through them I noticed I had gone off pattern so I just winged it. 

But two problems with this hat.

1) the fabric is knit at too loose of a gauge, cascade 220 superwash doesn't really like 5mm needles for hats, and after washing and blocking the whole hat is way too drapey. Plus the 1 by 1 rib brim is really opening up too much for my liking.

2) the size, well let's just say it barely fits my 20 month olds, and would be way too small for a 5 year old.

So let's try this again.

This time I'll knit the brim on 3.5mm and the hat on 4.5mm, and I've cast on 106 rather than 84. I'll do a couple extra repeats of the cables as well.

And the first hat, well plenty of people around me keep having babies, it'll make it's way to warm a tiny head some time soon.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Today I'm 30, and maybe I'm finally learning a thing or two

Well it's the big 30 for me. And to be honest, I'm not sure I feel all that different. I think I really aged out of my 20s back when we found out we were expecting twins.

But today I did make one decision already, influence by my older and supposedly wiser self.

I did not cast on my So Faded Sweater.

Here's my beautiful fade of Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn, in Typewriter, Boombox, Oracle and Graphite. I have it with me here in Crowsnest Pass (that's where we've been for all of February by the way), all caked up and with the intention of casting it on as a birthday present.

I learnt lessons from my Tegna, and knit a pair of swatches.

Decided on a tighter than recommended gauge on a 3.5 mm needle and did all the math I need to knit the size that will fit me. Heck I even measured myself rather than go with the size I am in my head.

Problem is, it's all written down on the printed out pattern... which I currently can't quite find (I'm fairly certain I packed it).

I almost cast it on anyways.

But I realized my 3.5 mm tips are currently knitting this project.

My Hearthstone by Ysolda Teague.

And I just have way too many WIPs on the needles right now (20, which is where I am supposed to draw the limit).

And so I made a mature choice, guided by age and wisdom, and decided to knit on this instead.

A long running sweater design project that is some number of inches away from the hem (I just can't seem to find my measuring tape.... maybe as a 30 year old I will be more organized than I was in my twenties? one can hope!)

Friday, 2 February 2018

I'm a sucker for a good KAL

My friends, I have a problem, and I can admit it.

I am a sucker for a good knit along (KAL).

I just can't resist.

Mason Dixon Knitting and Fringe and Friends are running a Log-Along..... so of course I joined in.

I don't know if it's because I don't have a local knitting group. Or because I don't want to miss out on the fun. Or maybe I just like to drink the cool aide. But none of these things stopped me from caking up 4 skeins of yarn to cast on a Hearthstone (pattern by Ysolda Teague from the Heart on My Sleeve Collection) for the Tin Can Knits Heartfelt KAL .... although I haven't cast it on yet.

I'm not sure how many sweaters I think I am knitting this February (my 30th birthday month btw) but I am currently working on 4 adult ones, 1 toddler sized one, and have yarn caked up for 2 more.

So when Kate Davis and Mason Dixon Knitting announced a February, Bang Out a Carbeth KAL, I initially said, oh no, I can wait. Besides we're in Crowsnest Pass all month, I should just knit the yarn I brought with me.

But have you seen the Carbeth sweater?

I mean, maybe it's Kate's husband Tom's amazing photography (check out her blog for more increadible photos), but how could you not want to knit this sweater.

Plus, knit at a big gauge (bulky weight on 6.5 mm needles) you can fly through the 700 or so yards in half a minute.

So I said, no Sara, you don't need to knit this sweater right now. Work on the projects you have.

Which is why I'm not sitting here next to two skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool in Chocolate.

Thank you Nest Of Needles Wool Shop (in Blairmore, AB), I know what I am doing this weekend! What KAL's are you joining in on? Maybe I need another one?

Friday, 26 January 2018

FO: Tegna by Caitlin Hunter

Let's talk about lessons, and how you are supposed to learn them the hard way.

When you set out to knit a sweater there are a couple of things you are supposed to do.

Knit a swatch.

Wash and block your swatch.

Measure your Gauge.

Measure yourself.

Do some math.

Pick your size and estimate how much yarn you will need.

Cast on, Knit, and enjoy your beautifully fitting sweater.

You are not supposed to do it this way.

Identify two skeins of yarn in your deep stash (oblivious to the fact that one of them is clearly not a full skein).

Scroll through Ravelry patterns database, selecting fingering weight, and sweaters, and 800 yards.

Pick a pattern (the Tegna, by Caitlin Hunter).

Note that the second size uses 800 yards.

Decide that is the size that you are.

For really no reason at all (the pattern calls for 3.25 mm) decide you will knit yours on 3.5 mm needles.

Cast on.

Finish your first skein and think to yourself there is no way that was a full skein.

Order an emergency back up skein online.

Knit the full body, join the shoulder seams and try it on (with neck stitches held on needles).

Have a hoooooly crap moment, this thing fits you like its cropped to your boobs. Not a pretty look on anyone let alone someone with twin mommy weight around her middle.

Knit the neck line (because you're waiting for your back up yarn) and pray to the superwash gods that this puppy with grow.

Hang it on a hanger and give it a good steaming which you pull hard.

Try it on a bunch more times.

Knit the sleeves.

Soak and wet block it, giving it a solid stretching for length and width.

Go to bed and dream about sweater elves coming in the night to magically grow your sweater.

Be pleasantly surprised with the results, even tho it fits nothing like it was designed to. Mine has 0 to negative ease, pattern calls for 5 to 10 inches of positive.

You can guess which path I followed to get to this sweater, and right up until I wore it yesterday and Kevin said it looked good I was seriously thinking I might have to cut my losses and gift it away. But given my choices, that is not what I deserved.

It should have been fit for a 10 year old.

But lesson learned (for now), and I've already swatched for the next one.

Project Page
Yarn is Cascade Heritage Solids in Charcoal, three different dye lots, can't tell the difference tho.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Natural Dyeing Yarn with Avocado Skins and Pits

We eat a lot of avocados. In salads, on toast, as guacamole, or just cut up and given to the boys as a snack. So it should not be a surprise that the second natural dyeing project I should try would be avocado skins and pits. Apparently if you keep them separate they will give slightly different colours, but I pooled them together for this set of four naturally dyed skeins.

I've been collecting them in a bag in my freezer for the past month, and when I hit 15 (ok really I just wanted to give it a go already and 15 is the number I had) I decided it was time.

I used 15 avocado skins and pits to dye 400g of yarn. After scooping out the tasty parts I scraped the skins clean with the spoon and rinsed everything in tap water. Some skins (about 4) were fresh that day, the others had been frozen for up to 1 month.

To extract the dye: I put the skins in about 3.5 litres of water. The pits I chopped up in my food processor to icrease the surface area in hopes more dye would be extracted. I added this to my pot and brought the whole thing just to a boil, then reduced heat to a simmer for 1 hour, stirring ocasionally. Then I let the pot rest and cool for 24 hours. I strained out the liquid and had 3 litres of dye solution. Note to self, invest in a fine mesh strainer for dyeing.

Yarn: 4 skeins of 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon sock weight yarn, bought online here.

Skein 1 and 2.

I soaked my yarn in water overnight. I poured half of my dye solution into my pot (I use a large enameled one bought on amazon, the porceline enamel surface is non reactive and this pot was cheeper than similar size stainless steel ones). And added an extra 3 litres of water. In to the pot went skeins of presoaked but not otherwise treated yarn. I brout the temperature up to just under a boil, reduced heat and simmered for 1 hour.

Skein 1: No mordant.

You'll see the without any help at all, avocado dyes wool to a lovely pale blush.Apparently if you keep skins and pits separate they'll give slightly different shades, and again, you can intensify colours by creating a more concentrated dye stock (ie use way more avocados), but this pale colour is very pretty in of itself, and the yarn was beautifully soft. No colour washed away with rinsing.

Skein 2: Iron after bath.

After removing skein 1 from the pot I pulled skein 2 out and hung it above the pot (did not rinse, just got it out of the water). My dye bath was still hot, I added in 1/4 tsp of ferrous sulfate powder (Iron mordant purchased from Dharma Trading Co.) and stirred it into solution. Then I lowered my skein quickly back into the pot. Bam! The colour change was mediate, with the skein darkening to a silvery purple. The trick with an iron bath is that it is non-reversible and the colour progresses with time. I should have started with even less than 1 tsp, but alas, that's why this is a dye experiment. But after two minutes the skein had deepened to a great silvery purple and I quickly pulled it out and rinsed it off., not wanting it to darken too far.

There still seemed to be quite a bit of dye in my pot, so I ran downstairs, grabbed another skein of 100% merino (100g DK weight) and threw it into the pot as is (dry!). You can see that skein (the bottom one) is lighter in colour than the first skein in that pot, showing that the dye pot is exhausting. If I had unlimited time and yarn, I would have dyed a full gradient until the pot fully exhausted (one day...).

I cleaned my pot (scrub really well, the tiniest leftover iron residue can affect your colours) and got ready for Alum.

Skeins 3 and 4

These skeins needed pre-mordanting with alum. Into my pot went 4 litres of water and 2 tsp of aluminum sulfate (Alum, Jacquard brand purchased on Amazon). I added my two skeins, which had previously soaked for 1 hour in water in my sink, and heated the pot to just under a boil, then reduced heat and simmered for 1 hour. I let the pot cool and sit overnight before removing the yarn (but not rinsing it).

Skein 3: Alum premordanted

I added the second half of my dye solution to my pot, along with an extra 3 litres of water. Into the pot went my two premordanted with alum skeins of yarn. I brought the whole thing up to just below a boil, reduced the heat and let simmer for 1 hour (I know same old same old). Then I pulled out one skein, the colour in this premordanted skein was nearly identical to skein 1 above. The major difference however was that the alum treatment left the yarn feeling crunchy. This is why it is recommended by many natural dyers that you include some cream of tartar (tartaric acid) to your pot when mordanting with alum, as the acidic pH helps to keep the wool nice and soft. Interesting that this didn't happen in my previous onion skin dying experiments. I may do an acid treatment on this skein and see if if helps to soften it up, since the texture, while not totally horrible, isn't as desirable as the softness of this skein originally.

Skein 4: Alum premordanted and Iron afterbath.

Just like before, I pulled my fourth skein out of the still hot pot and hung it out of the way. I added 1/4 tsp of iron to the pot. Stirred it up and then lowered my skein back into it all at once. Again the colour began to change imediately and although not nearly as dark despite using the same amount of iron (perhaps an effect of the alum treatment). This time I let it simmer for about 10 minutes before pulling the skein. Its concrete grey, not as deep as skein 2 above and without the purple cast.

So there they are, four beautiful skeins, four truly distinct colours, from one batch of avocado dye.