Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crisis Averted

Last week, I blogged about what I thought was a dye lot  problem.  I've been working away on a lace curtain for the sidelight to our front door and was using crochet cotton I found in my grandmother's workbasket - which means it is 40 years old at least.  In mid curtain, I realized that I had two very different colors.  After asking for suggestions and searching for matching cotton, I attempted bleaching in a diluted bleach solution.  Voila!

Crisis averted.  Where it was soaked, it turned white very quickly.  I confess that I was planning to rip out and start again so I didn't bother to take it off the needle even, just put part of it in the dye pot.  You can actually see where some of it has been bleached and some of it not.  The beads even came through without harm.

There is a brown section in the middle.

While I'm happy to have a solution and not have to do four feet of knitting over, what on earth was causing this?  While she was healthy, my grandmother was a perfectionist housekeeper - granted after she died, my grandfather wasn't.  She lived in coal mining country, so coal dust is an ever present issue.  But how could that permeate the full ball of wound cotton?  More likely culprit is that my grandmother smoked - a lot!  When she was dying in the hospital and on oxygen she was asking for cigarettes.  As I have started working through the new ball of yarn, there are sections that are different colors so some of it was picking up the nicotine as well.  I'm not worried now, because I'll just bleach it all at the end.

So if you smoke, take this warning to heart.  Perhaps the surgeon general should start labeling cigarettes with the following warning:

    CAUTION:  Cigarette smoking can be hazardous to your yarn!

If you won't quit for your lungs, do it for your yarn.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finished Object Friday

Happy Friday!  The rain has lifted and it is nice and sunny.  Should actually be very warm today.  So great weather and a finished object to share!

These are the little slippers to match the wrap cardigan for Olivia, our cousin's first child that is coming in March.  I hope to pack up all the sweaters and some hand-me-down blankets to ship off.  Sometimes babies come early.

That's it for me.  Head over to Tami's to see lots of great projects.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Happy Wednesday.  I had a crisis on my lace curtain panel, read about it here.  Unfortunately, I didn't check dye lots or realize that I had started with crochet cotton from my grandmother which is about 40 - 50 years old and three shades darker than anything else in my stash or at the store.  So the curtain is hibernating.  I'm going to try bleach it this weekend, but I'm open to any other suggestions you may have.

When faced with that type of crisis, you have to cast on a new project or two.  I started Nantes' Hat - even in the same color.

This is the same color as the pattern but different yarn.  This is Sublime's Merino Silk Cashmere Aran that has been in my stash for a long time.  I love this yarn.  Soft, fluffy and great stitch definition.

Then I also started matching baby shoes for Olivia's Cardigan.  These are lilac to match the sweater.  The pattern is Baby Janes and they are adorable.  Very fast too.  They are not yet finished because I need to find some cute buttons for them.

Not sure that I will have them finished by Friday because it is suddenly monsoon season here after being in the worst drought in over 50 years.

Enjoy your day and head over to Tami's to see what else everyone is working on.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Knitting with Beads

I've been meaning to post this tutorial on knitting with beads for a long time.  I particularly love to add beads to lace.  I have used three different methods and I definitely have a preference.   But I’ll cover all three methods here and add some editorial comments.

Selecting beads
The important factor in selecting beads for knitting is their size.  For lace I prefer 8/0 seed beads.  You can get them on line or at beading supply stores.  These are not usually available at large craft stores, since they carry mostly larger beads.  You can use larger ones but need to be careful not to use too many or they will be too heavy.  Also for fine yarns, do not use beads that are faceted or sharp on the inside since these can cut or damage the yarn.  There are many colors and sizes to chose from and you can mix them within a design.

There are two ways the bead can sit with respect to the knitted stitch.  You can put the bead on the yarn and then have it sit between two stitches or you can put it on the stitch itself.   The first requires you to string the beads onto the yarn before knitting.

Beads that Sit Between Stitches

In this method, you need to have an idea of how many beads you are going to need in advance and then you string them onto the yarn.  You push the beads out of your way while knitting until you want one and then you push it up to the last stitch and then work the next one.  This will put the bead between the stitches.

There are some difficulties in this method.  How do you know how many you will need in advance?  If you are using a lot of beads, pushing them over the yarn can weaken the yarn and cause it to break.  I once did a shawl that called for this type of beading with 5,000 beads.  It took an incredible amount of time to string the beads.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think ahead to realize that if the shawl took two skeins of yarn, I could put 2,500 on each skein.  Instead I put 5,000 on the first skein and then got to move 2,500 of them to the next skein halfway through.   If you are interested in what this looks like, please see Shipwreck Shawl on Ravelry.  There is a good picture of the beads in the lace section.

Placing Beads on the Stitch
Placing beads on the stitch occurs while you are working the knitting.  This can disrupt your flow and slow you down, but it does prevent you from having to string all the beads in advance.  I have used two different ways of placing beads.

Placing beads with a crochet hook:  Knit the stitch indicated and put a bead on the crochet hook.  

Use the hook to remove the stitch just knitted from the right hand needle; push the bead from the crochet hook down over the knitted stitch.  

Return this stitch back to the right hand needle and adjust the tension of this stitch.  You do have to use a very small crochet hook for this.  Please be careful and don't stab yourself.  That would hurt.

Placing beads with dental floss:  This is my preferred method.  The secret is to use Super Floss.  Oral B makes it for people with braces.  It comes in pre-cut lengths and has three sections:  a stiff, short section, a fuzzy part, and a long, smooth part.  You can string a bunch of beads at once onto the floss and don’t have to worry about stabbing yourself with the crochet hook.  Thread beads onto floss.  The fuzzy part will keep them from falling off the short end, and I tie a knot around a bead at the long end to keep them from falling off that end.  

Bead tied at end of floss

One bead on the fuzzy section and many more ready to go

Knit the stitch indicated, thread one end of the dental floss through this stitch and remove the stitch from the right needle. 

Hold both ends of the dental floss together and push a bead down from the fuzzy part of the floss so that both ends of the dental floss are through the bead.  

Push bead down onto the stitch and replace this stitch back on the right hand needle, pulling it to the right tension.  

Remove the dental floss.  You can see the bead sitting on the stitch.

Using beads gives you lots of creative options.  You get to chose where you put them.  I frequently use them in a line between the body and edging of shawls (pictured above).  I also like to use them on double decreases, but you can place them wherever you want - either to accent a part of the design or to add sparkle in a specific spot.  

Have fun adding beads to your knitting!