Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sneak Peek: Elisa

In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans, Elisa is a beautiful princess with eleven brothers. When her brothers are cursed and turned into swans, she takes a vow of silence and must knit them shirts from stinging nettles to return them to human form...This was always one of my favorite fairytales, and I remember being so taken with it the first time I heard it. I had been on a great search recently to find it again after I had forgotten the name of the story. I love wikipedia…all I knew was that it involved knitting and nettles…and I was able to find the beloved story!

So here is the shawl that the story inspired:

 Elisa 2

The double sided lace comes from Babara Walker's Second Treasury and I was inspired to adapt it for this project since it was named "Porcupine Lace." A prickly name and an interesting pattern to resemble the nettles. I have a smaller, two-color version in the works, that will show off the wonderful curves in the lace even more.

Elisa 1

This is shown in Malabrigo Silky Merino...obviously nothing at all like knitting with stinging nettles!  I did find out today that Classic Elite makes a yarn with nettles: Woodland. Pretty amazing, right?! Even though my stash is spilling out of its closet, I may just have to grab some to knit yet another Elisa, I mean that would be totally fitting.  Plus the fiber content, weight and sheen would work quite well for this pattern. 

I will be away for a bit, so don't think I am abandoning you!  Just going on a nice long vacation, in the Florida Keys ♥

Friday, April 8, 2011

Live like you were dyeing...

I really need more hobbies like a hole in the head...but I have been wanting to learn how to dye my own yarn for ages.  Most things I usually just jump in with both feet, but not this.  I have spent the past few months reading every dyeing forum on Ravelry and going through the guide I got (World of Color) with my Greener Shades beginner kit obsessively.  I couldn't decide which method I wanted to start out with, what equipment I wanted to use and how much dye stock I should mix up.  This is funny since I used to whip up a batch of candles, soap or mineral make-up on a whim...but I was just so afraid of ruining my yarn!

Anyway I finally did it!  First I got some natural color Red Heart: Heart and Sole absolutely no guilt if it came out horrible!  I decided to go with a kettle dyed/immersion for the first batch, using quart mason jars in a turkey roasting pan with a rack on the bottom so the jars weren't in contact with the bottom of the pan.  I wound the yarn into 7 - ~7gm mini skeins and used 4 figure eight ties on each to prevent tangling.  Next, the mini skeins soaked in warm tap water with a drop or two of Dawn dish soap for about 2 hours.

While the yarn was soaking, I mixed up some stock solutions.  Since I had enough jars, I mixed every color all at 1% depth of shade (DOS) or 1 gm dye powder to 100 mL of water. I have a pretty good scale from my soap and candle making days, so that came in handy for weighing out the dye powder.  After every color was mixed, I wrung out the soaked yarn and began to prepare my set up.

Once all of the jars were in place, and filled with about 3 cups warm tap water, I added the dye.  I have a ton of 3 mL pipettes, which were extremely helpful for measuring the small amounts of dye stock needed for my mini skeins, as most were done at .2% DOS, requiring only a mL or 2 of each color.  After the dye was added and stirred, the yarn went in.


I heated the jars of yarn and dye until they were approx. 175 degrees F and held at that temp for 10 min.  Then I added approx. 1/4 tsp of citric acid crystals to each jar and stirred well.  I upped the heat and waited 5 mins to see if the dyes exhausted.  All of them, but the Hot Fuchsia and the blends with Coral Reef Aqua had exhausted.  So I added more citric acid those colors, approx. 1/8 tsp every 5 min until the dye had exhausted.

dyeing 2

Next I added an overydye, Midnight Black (at .05% DOS) or Silver Gray (at .5% DOS).  I learned the hard way that you shouldn't add it undiluted directly on top of the yarn as it will strike extremely fast!  So I moved the yarn to the side of the jar, and mixed the dye stock with a few TBSP of hot water from the dye bath before adding it.   I was very pleased with the results, a lovely "shaded" look.  I let the yarn cook for another 10 min at 180 degrees F, then took the jars out of the roasting pan to allow them to cool.  The Hot Fuchsia and Coral Reef Aqua needed a bit more time and higher temps, so I let them hang out for 10 mins longer and heat to about 210 degrees F.

baby yarns 2

From top to bottom:
  • Jacquard Silver Gray @ 1% DOS
  • Greener Shades 55% Ruby Red, 20% Yellow, 25% River Blue @ .2% DOS overdyed with Silver Gray @ .5% DOS (this is the one I added the overdye directly on top of the yarn and it came out a bit splotchy)
  • Jacquard Hot Fuchsia @ .2% DOS overdyed with GS Midnight Black @ .05% DOS
  • GS 65% Coral Reef Aqua, 35% Ruby Red @ .5% DOS overdyed with Midnight Black @ .05% DOS
  • GS 55% River Blue, 45% Amethyst Purple @ .2% DOS overdyed with Silver Gray @ .5% DOS
  • GS 80% River Blue, 20% Amazon Green @ .2% DOS overdyed with Sliver Gray @ .5% DOS
  • GS Coral Reef Aqua @ .2% DOS overdyed with Midnight Black @ .05% DOS

So I am super psyched with how the yarn came out!  As soon as the eBook is finished, I am going to go on a crazy week long yarn dying bender!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I do on Tuesdays....

So on Tuesdays I have a new obsession, check it out:



Kim Klassen is a texture and photoshop guru!  I have taken a few of her eCourses and I am still amazed at the things I am able to do in photoshop.  It is funny, because I just started out wanting to learn the program a bit so I could spiff up my photos for my patterns...but now I am completely consumed!  If you have any interest at all in photography, I definitely recommend poking around her site. is a peek at my design from the Fresh Designs Series, Sweaters:

My Raglan Hoodie is shown in fabulous Lindon Merino from Three Irish Girls.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I have been staying incredibly busy...right now I am just taking a little break from typing up the pattern for Daphnaie.  Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:



To say I am pleased with how it turned out in the under statement of the century!  Of course as you can see from my last post, a ton of work went into making it just right...and it was so worth it.  I can't wait to get the pattern out to my test knitters next week so I can see their projects!

I want to say a big thank you to everyone that made a purchase in the past two weeks.  Today I tallied up the sales and was able to donate $75 each to the Red Cross and Shelter Box.  It seems so insignificant in the face of such tragedy, but every little bit counts!

Finally I will leave you with a peak at an upcoming project that I am involved in: are some preview photos of the Fresh Designs Series from Cooperative Press.