Knitting Centered Blog Regarding All Things Design Related

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

T-shirt yarn swatching

Even though the t-shirt yarn class I am taking (which ends next Monday) comes with four custom (and customizable) patterns that Stefanie designed specifically for the class, I wanted to swatch some of my yarn just to get an idea of how it looks. I knitted up one of the balls on size 10.5 needles:

Click photo to enlarge!

As you can see, the lowest portion is garter stitch, which looks good. The middle section, the stockinette, I am most impressed with. It looks really nice for what this yarn started out as! However, seed stitch (the uppermost portion next to the needle) is not this yarn's friend. It looks like crap. Which is OK, not every stitch is for every yarn.

The lightest weight yarn you can really make without breaking the material is about a heavy worsted. I would say what I have knitted up here is a bulky. The most WPI I have been able to get is 6.5, and this yarn is about 5.5 WPI (wraps per inch - wrap the yarn around a ruler and it helps you get an idea of yarn weight - fewer wraps = heavier yarn).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Upcycled T-shirt Yarn Class

I am taking Stefanie Japel's online class for recycling old t-shirts into yarn. Well, I guess it's really any t-shirt, not necessarily old. I am really enjoying the techniques we are learning. Basically, you chop up a cotton tee into a spiral (she shows us a really quick method for doing this) and pull the strip of cotton and it curls into a tube. I made and dyed my first batch of yarn this weekend.

This is what I am starting with. A pile of my husband's old undershirts. I had been collecting them for dust cloths, and really don't need 57 dust cloths.

They have a future as beautiful cotton yarn. Well, the torso from the armpit down of each of these does, at least.

I used one of those teenybopper tie dye kits. The color stays bright and you just add water.

I had a couple of hanks already cut into yarn.

I also had some shirt torsos and dyed those. They will be cut into yarn after dyeing.

Yarn burritos!

The finished product (some of it):

First time dyeing yarn, I'm pretty happy with it. I am learning a lot about dyeing plant fiber versus animal fiber (like wool). You can't dye cotton with things you would dye wool with, like Kool-Aid, acid dyes, or cake dye. I watered the dye down in cups and applied it with foam brushes, as I wanted a muted color. I might overdye some of this with tea to see how that mutes it even more. Hopefully I will have some FOs from this yarn to show soon!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another sewing project, and more!

I made another knitting needle roll-up case, this time for my straight and double-pointed needles. Prior, they were all just jumbled in a drawer, and a pain in the butt to dig through. So, I headed over to Jo-Ann (where they are having an awesome sale, btw) and went a little nuts in the fat quarters. I did have the project in mind, though, so in addition to looting all their cat-themed prints, I got fabric for this:

(I haven't snipped all the threads yet)

Ta-da! It holds all my needles! With some room to add more needles, as I like bamboo straight needles in anything over a size 5. Less than that, and I break them. The back has batting and is quilted like the other one I made; it gives it just enough structure and support. And now I have an empty drawer to organize all the fat quarters I seem to be amassing.

You probably noticed all the Knitpicks needles in the bottom row and are wondering, "Knitpicks? But Nancy, weren't you just hating on them?". Well, yes, however, I must admit that one product of theirs that I have been very impressed with is their nickel-plated DPNs. Sharp, pointy, sturdy, don't bend - they are awesome. I'd buy DPNs from them any day.

I put the Everlasting Bagstopper to the test on Sunday, and boy does it stretch! To the point where it is hard to carry if the stuff is too heavy and stretches it down to your knee, or past it. If I ever make another one, I will make it about half the length.

And a third thing. Does anyone know how to frost a cake? I suck at it. Yes, I have tried warming up the frosting and the cake is always completely cooled before I try to frost it, but for some reason, I just can't frost a cake! I have a special spreader and everything (thank you Cutco wedding registry). When I try to frost across the top of the cake, the top if it just rips off. And then the whole thing just goes to crap. This also happens with cupcakes. This is very bad, as I love cake. It doesn't stop me from eating said dilapidated cake, but I plan to have kids, and I heard that they have birthdays, and at these things called "birthdays" they eat cake, and I would really like to make it for them, because I am too damn cheap and stubborn to call Baskin Robbins. I know I can master this, but I need serious guidance:

It looks like someone has already chewed it up. If anyone out there has cake frosting tips or advice, I need it! Help!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New Yarn and Fiber Shop in ABQ!

I was wandering through Old Town over the weekend and a shop sign caught my eye - Fiber Chicks. I went in and sure enough, it's a new LYS in town!!! Yay!!!!!!! They have only been open a few weeks, but they are very friendly, and the best part is that the owner wants to know what people in ABQ want to knit and crochet with, and will look for a distributor to get it in the shop! I have already put in a request for Malabrigo. So, please do go check out the shop and let her know what you like to knit with! They (it's 2 ladies that co-own it) also carry some roving, and are working towards carrying more local fiber than you can normally find around ABQ (which isn't much). Anything other than Fiesta would be appreciated by many, I am sure! I chatted with the owner that was there, for a while, and her husband is an architect in town who went to school with one of my bosses, which was very cool.

Needless to say I made a purchase. I got some beautiful mercerized cotton to knit this bag for groceries. While we do reuse plastic bags in our house for trash and when we scoop cat poop, the grocery store bags are flimsier than they were in years past, so I am converting to taking my own bags, not for the social message or any shit like that, but simply because the grocery store bags are crap, and if I can't reuse them, I don't want to just chuck them in the landfill without being able to repurpose them.

So, go forth and visit Fiber Chicks! It's in Old Town, in the little plaza just south of La Placita, off the SE corner of the main plaza. A very cool spot and hopefully to become a staple for the fiberistas of Albuquerque.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Great sewing idea!

If you are like me and are not a huge fan of mini-blinds, but don't love the retail cost of Roman shades, then this is for you! What a great idea! I love the photo of the living room with the green print shades.

I think next on my sewing agenda will be curtains, as I don't think the landlord would appreciate it if I massacred the blinds in the front picture window.

I am currently studying for the 5th ARE (just took #4 a little over a week ago), and if I keep on my schedule and keep passing the exams, then I will be done and licensed by the middle of the summer! Yay! All this studying throws a wrench in the works of all my crafting projects, but it is definitely worth it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


One of the things I hate about "learn to knit" or "learn to crochet" books is that the patterns are often butt-ugly. And while it makes sense that in the beginning, one can only knit or crochet rectangles, I think garments beyond a scarf should be avoided until one has mastered increases and decreases so as to shape a garment. Beginners patterns have gotten better in recent years, but it bewilders me that anyone would put this kind of crap out there as a free pattern to promote their yarns:

What the fuck? Is it a vest? A tunic? And what's with the preschooly color blocks and gigantic pockets? Could this thing be any boxier? She only remotely has a figure because of the way she is thrusting out her hip. Look at the size of those armholes! Either they were expecting a much larger model, or this pattern is just fucked up. I vote for the latter. If she took the stupid vest off, she would probably have a decent outfit.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Shibori Felting gone bad

I finally finished knitting a giant swath of stockinette I planned to shibori felt and then sew into a pillow cover for the living room with a zipper and all. Well, it felted, but the shibori part was a bit of a disaster. Most of the bottlecaps fell off in the wash and the finished product looks like a giant piece of felt with a leprosy problem:

With flash. As if that helps:

Patons Merino Wool
More skiens than I care to count

Certainly not my favorite project. I guess I can still make it into a pillow cover, but I'm not really sure I want to. I mean, it's ugly. It didn't cost much money for the yarn, but I was knitting on that thing forever! This being my first foray into felting (if you don't count accidentally felting sweaters in the wash), I am not exactly smitten with the craft.

At least Ginger knows how to make me feel better. Here she is snoozing on her kitty rag quilt, reminding me that all of my projects are not disasters, they are mostly successes:

I can't get the picture to rotate, but she is cute just the same. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I had my ancient Kenmore sewing machine serviced recently, and have gotten into sewing again (after a many-year hiatus, because the sewing machine needed servicing and I was too cheap to fix it while I was a student). I started with recovering our hideous couch pillows. I kept this felted sweater in my sewing stash for the past few years, and always knew it had aspirations for a second life.
It was a nice sweater, until I washed and dried it at the laundromat. oops. I didn't really know how or why (or that) wool shrunk, when I was in college. I got it at Old Navy years ago, before their clothes started being made with that signature falling apart in the wash.

Here is the butt ugly pillow that needed recovering. What the hell was I thinking when I bought TWO of these in college? Who ever brought back animal prints? Or have they just never gone away?

I cut out the body of the sweater, and seamed it all into a square on the machine, then added the zipper. There really isn't a fancy trick to sewing in zippers - you just turn your pillow inside-out, pin the zipper in, and then sew it on. I didn't really follow any instructions or use a zipper foot (as I had lost mine ages ago and recently just bought one).

Voila! Who's your zipper-sewing daddy?

Here he is next to the other hideous pillow on the couch in the den. The other one will be recovered in a shibori-felted blue to go in the living room. When I get around to it.

I can't get the dang picture to rotate!
We also had two ugly pillows in the living room. They weren't ugly as much as they attracted copius amounts of cat hair, which makes them look gross. So, I wanted to make covers for them that could be removed and washed. Here is the finished result:

The fabric is from Jo-Ann. I was impressed to find something there that isn't country kitsch. I don't like to spend very much on DIY projects, because that defeats the purpose for me, so I am glad to see they are carrying some cuter patterns than they were when I was in college. Or maybe I don't just cruise the clearance table anymore now that I am out of school. Gee, could that be it? The pattern reminded me of India, where I traveled in college, and the fabric is made there. Coincidence? I think not!

Next on the list was wanting to learn to quilt, so I started with a rag quilt tutorial on, and decided to start small and, inspired by Paula's kitty's blanket, I made a blankie to put in the sunny spot Ginger, my assistant, likes to lay in.

Just some standard cotton fleece from Jo-Ann

Chopping it up

Piece it all together, snip all the seams, toss through the washer and dryer, and voila again! Rag quilt!

I haven't gotted a picture of Ginger on it yet, but this guy seems to like it:

I think it's hilarous that the mean cat likes the pink frilly blanket.

In other news, I have been studying for the next ARE. Three down, four to go! After I take the next one in a couple of weeks here, I will have tipped the halfway point. Yay! I didn't study very much while my husband was on winter break (he is a PhD student), as we finally had time to hang out. But now we are both back to studying habits. Sigh. And I have all these sewing projects out of my system so I can concentrate on studying more, but it also makes me think of all sorts of fabulous things to sew!