Sunday, May 25, 2008

cutting it close

Lately, I've had a rash of projects where I've had just enough yarn to do the project. First, there was this pair of shorts, where I had about three yards of yarn left (not blocked in this photo, pardon the lumpiness):

I was pleased that I had enough yarn to get exactly the measurements that I wanted. Didn't have to unravel and fiddle around with the stitch numbers, which is kind of a pain, not to mention anxiety-inducing.

Next came this pair of shorts. I dyed the yarn for these, and estimated that I would need about 5 oz. I had about a foot of yarn left over. I was pretty pleased about that, since I have been wondering what to do with all my leftover bits of skeins. But apparently a foot of yarn does not trigger my pack rat tendencies.

Then six ounces of DK yarn, I think Blue-Faced Leicester, came in the mail. The customer wanted a soaker skirt, but she lives in a hot climate so she didn't want the skirt part to start until the hips, instead of starting up by the waistband. Since it was DK yarn, I decided to do a slightly ruffled skirt with a lace edging, to take advantage of the drapiness and the more delicate stitch size. I ended up with zero leftover yarn on this, except for four inches from the cast-on tail, after I used it to sew up the elastic waistband. Usually when I'm this close on a project, it's on the other side of the line--I'm just a few yards short, and I have to redo big chunks of my project to try to compensate. Can I say how thrilled I am that I didn't have to do that with this skirt?

detail shot of lace edging:

I really love how this turned out. My husband says it's the coolest thing I've ever knitted. "It's pink and it's ruffly, but not too ruffly, and it's feminine but not over the top. Just about perfect, really," he said. High praise indeed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

note to self: read the directions

In my quest for a true, reliable black dye, I recently bought some Sabraset. I ASSumed that I could treat it like any other acid dye, but kept getting brownish results. No improvement on using straight Jacquard black.

This week, I was rereading a thread on Ravelry about black dye. I noticed that someone specifically mentioned the importance of following the manufacturer's instructions when using Sabraset. Um, there were instructions? I eventually dug them up on Prochemical's web site. Whoops! Yeah, Sabraset is not like your other, more forgiving dyes, where you can casually toss in some citric acid until it feels right. No wonder the black was striking too soon and turning brown.

So I've learned my lesson--always read the instructions. I'll try overdyeing this weekend, following recommendations, and see if I can rescue my four skeins of organic merino that aren't quite the right shade of black.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

business cards

I'm almost out of business cards, so I decided I wanted to redesign them. Spent about an hour working on some variations before I settled on one. Then I spent another two hours trying to upload the file to a certain online print shop. They didn't have my preferred font, and when I converted the font to paths, it looked horrible. And I knew it wasn't just how it looked onscreen--having gotten cards from this place before, I knew that if it looked bad onscreen, it was going to look equally horrid in person.

I tried exporting the file to a bunch of different file formats, and they all looked bad. Plus the colors looked off, so I spent some time tweaking those. Eventually, I uploaded a blank file as the background image (I couldn't just have a blank background), uploaded my logo, and then used one of their house fonts for the rest of the content. Now my eyes hurt and my plans for an evening of knitting are shot. I do graphic design as part of my day job, so I really shouldn't be surprised that these things can eat up so much time ... but somehow I just didn't think it would take so long.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Spring cleaning fever has hit our household. Today we rearranged some furniture in the house. We have a Lane cedar chest that was full of random junk and never-worn wool sweaters, which we were always bumping into when we tried to go into the master bathroom. Now it's out in the living room and full of yarn. I didn't think that I could get my undyed yarn in there, but I did hope that it would consolidate all of my dyed stash, which is all over the house.

Well, not quite. The stuff that is most easily organized--my yarn from other indie dyers (Beemer Knits, Mosaic Moon, Three Irish Girls, Wooly Wonders by Nada), my Noro, a few skeins of commercially dyed yarn, some colorways that haven't sold yet--are now tidily sorted into little bins inside the chest, and I get a little glow when I look at it. But I still have a Rubbermaid tub and a couple of big tote bags full of odds and ends. I'm a little appalled to find all this fresh evidence of my pack-rattiness.

I've got skein remnants that maybe I could use "someday" for trim or accents or embellishments. Ugly dye jobs that are not fixable. Experimental dyeing partial skeins that are too big to throw away or compost, too small to sell or give away. What on earth am I supposed to do with all this stuff?

I did hear about someone on LJ who solicits yarn donations for her senior center in Massachusetts, so I might contact our local center and see if they'd want it. Or maybe the local preschools could use them for art projects. It seems so wasteful to just junk this yarn, but it's taking up so much darned space--I hope I can find a useful home for at least some of it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

F5, F5, F5.

I have been hopefully refreshing my Ravelry cart all day, just in case the store opens. I don't know why, but I keep thinking that if only I could buy a Ravelry lapel pin, tote bag, and T-shirt, I could snap out of this funk that I've been in for two days.

Anyway! Enough moping about the lack of retail therapy. I've finally managed to get some good photos of my custom dyeing order. I took some photos yesterday, but I had the not-so-brilliant idea of using a brushed metal tray as the background ... so the yarn got nicely framed by blurry reflections of my face. Whoops. Makes me think of those "accidental" reflections of naked photographers in eBay product photos that were all the rage for a while.

All of these colorways are on bulky Blue-Faced Leicester. I really like this yarn--smooth, silky, and a fast knit.

Copper Patina:

Bloom (really like how this one came out):