Adventurous April 2018

Dyeing For Spring

I'm going to need a hat to wear on my travels this spring.  I want something lighter weight than the hats I have managed to keep out of my children's greedy little hands and also a springy green color.  Since I didn't seem to have anything the fit the bill in stash, I dyed this.

Yellow green kraemer maria silk merino

It's a new-to-me yarn, Kraemer's Maria, a 50% silk/50% merino blend with 225 yards in 100 grams.  The yardage and the look are both about right for me to call it a worsted weight yarn. For patterns, I'm still deciding between a Plum Tree Slouch

image from images4-b.ravelrycache.com

(c) NNK Press (with permission)

and an Irving hat.

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

(c) Melissa LaBarre (with permission)

They are both tempting choices and I feel sure I'll end up knitting both of them.  The yarn itself seems to almost completely lack a Ravelry presence, so I'm knitting blind here.  But I tend to like Kraemer's yarns and this one dyed up beautifully, so I have high hopes.

A note about the dyeing process.  I like to apply color to yarn in layers, rather than all at once, to get more organic color variation in yarns that aren't going to be level-dyed a solid color.  This yarn was originally dyed a pale yellow and then overdyed with a blue that was a dilute almost-navy solution, before being glazed in a yellow-brown.  Although I'm often asked is glazing is worth all the work, there is no doubt in my mind that the same principles I used to use in painting collage backgrounds are equally at work in dyeing yarn, and there is simply no substitute for carefully applied layers of dye, each of which makes the final color full and rich.

Adventurous April 2018

Outlander Knitting and The Polar Vortex

With rumors of another polar vortex-like episode of cold weather headed for the deep south, I decided I needed a quick, but densely warm cowl, to get me through the next few weeks.  I've knit several cowls that mimic the look of Claire's  beautiful Sassenach cowl, as she works her way through the Scottish Highlands in the Outlander series, and I decided a modified version would be just right.

Bluecowl

This pattern is so easy that I knit it during a drive yesterday (I was obviously a rider, not the driver), and had it ready to wear by evening.  The yarn is Bulky Blue Sky Alpaca and I held it double-stranded.  I used three skeins of yarn for this cowl, dividing the last skein into two even parts.  The pattern is very simple: Using size 35 needles, Cast on 16 stitches using your favorite provisional cast on (I like Lucy Neatby's, using a crochet hook, which you can see here).  Knit in garter stitch, i.e. knit every row, until you are almost out of yarn.  You will finish the scarf with Kitchener stitch, for a seamless join.  To do this, you need one length of yarn (no double stranding for this part), that is three times the width of your work. Even if you don't like to Kitchener, you can manage it for 16 stitches, and the result will be well-worth it.

For the larger cowl worn by claire — one that is long enough to twist around your neck a couple of times or spread out along your shoulders, you will want a longer cowl than this one.  The modification is simple — this cowl is very bulky because of the double stranding, but using the same quantity of yarn, held single, you can produce a longer cowl that is easily wrapped around your neck.  

Bluecowlyarn

Finally, a word about the yarn.  Recently, I overdyed a sport weight Blue Sky yarn in this same pink colorway for a friend, and got a lusterous result.  That yarn had silk in it, and I thought that might be responsible for the sheen of the yarn.  I was curious as to whether I could replicate the result in a yarn that lacked the silk content.  I tried it with this bulky yarn that is 50% Alpaca and 50% wool and you can see the result in the picture at the top — it's a deep, shimmering blue.  I'm as pleased with the cowl as I am with the yarn, and look forward to staying warm through out the coming weather event.