24/30 Design and Dye

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 24: Have you ever made your own pattern or dyed your own yarn? How did it turn out?

Yes to both.

I have several patterns for sale on Ravelry and etsy, which all started with the Owl Honeycomb Blanket. That wasn’t actually my first pattern, just the first one I actually screwed up the courage to write, have tech edited, and published (I didn’t know about test knitters then). The rainbow sock yarn baby blanket (probably) was the first pattern … oh wait, no, no it wasn’t the first pattern I made up. I had a special button in my collection and made a felted belt specifically for it. I got the wool from the shepherd on ebay, which was special also – I love the greens in the yarn and it was one of my first all-wool yarns.

The belt with the special button and special yarn -the special belt.
Detail of the special button.

Now, yarn dying – yes, I’ve done that too. The very first time, I unraveled an angora-wool-nylon blend sweater and dyed it with KoolAid.

Recycled sweater yarn dyed with KoolAid. The skein is sitting on the last remaining piece of the sweater, a sleeve.

In the Spring of 2011 (2010?) I took a natural dye class with two friends at The Art League of Alexandria, which I really wish I lived closer to (I live over an hour away) so I could take advantage of their classes more. That class started me on an exploration of natural dying that I’ve only recently finally admitted has fallen by the wayside. If you’re curious, I documented most of it on flickr and on this blog, but here are all of my sample skeins, Lion Brand Fisherman’s wool in white mordanted with alum, copper, or iron and tossed into the dye pot with larger quantities of material.

Natural dye sample skeins. Some of the natural dyes represented here: cochineal, indigo, walnut, osage orange, avocado skins & pits, dandelion, marigold petals, lichen, onion skins.

Natural dyeing is a lot of work, so I also branched out to dye/over-dye with Jacquard Acid Dye, Rit, and most recently, Dylon (that Emergency Project). Dyeing is fun, even though when it’s a lot of work. It’s fun to see how the dyed yarn or fiber turns out. If it turns out badly, you can always overdye it with a darker color, keeping in mind that a pure black is very difficult to achieve; basically, you have infinite chances to dye something a color you like, it may just be darker than what you originally hoped for.




23/30 Fantasy Project

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 23: If you had the supplies (and patience) for it, what project would you start today?

Hands down, another Bohus cardi or two; I especially like The Blue Light and The Forest Darkness. And The Wild Apple. And The Spring. Maybe I should just plan on knitting my way through them all? That would be realistic if I had a knitting machine to knit all the bodies, but otherwise, I think it’s going to be an every-few-years thing for me.


22/30 Un-knitworthy Recipients

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 22: Have you ever stricken someone off your to-knit-for list because they didn’t appreciate/take care of your last knitted gift to them?

Lucky for me, I haven’t had to do this. My husband might qualify for ruining my sweaters in the laundry, but I still knit for him. If people I’ve knit for have treated my gifts badly or scoffed at them, they’ve been kind enough to make sure I haven’t found out. I don’t think I knit enough for other people, or rather, I don’t knit as much for other people as other knitters do – I’m a pretty selfish knitter, so haven’t exposed myself much to rejection.

What a short answer. Here’s a video from almost 2 weeks ago of Eevee and I chatting to make this more exciting.


21/30 Knitted Gifts

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 21: Do you knit gifts for friends and family for the holidays or birthdays?

I don’t usually knit for the holidays or for birthdays; it has to be a special birthday or special holiday. Or I have to have stumbled on the perfect gift that has to be given. For example, a few years ago my Mom mentioned how cold her shoulders have started getting in winter, so she was using a throw blanket like a cape. For her birthday that year, I made her two shawls to keep her shoulders warm and also as a thank you for sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens she made me when I was a kid.

I made a shawl out of hand spun yarn for my sister when she was dealing with a very aggressive breast cancer. She keeps it in a place of honor in her house, with her other treasures, where everyone who comes in sees it. I’m not sure if she ever actually used it – I hope so! I also knit baby blankets whenever I can for the expectant mothers in my life, which is how I got started writing patterns. There are several kids who still use the blankies that I made them.

I sometimes knit for my boys. None of them are into sweaters, so I’ve stuck mainly to hats and scarves and, when they were younger, toys. And I have knit several times for my sweater-shrinking husband.

Basically, when someone needs love and support and that someone is likely to use and appreciate a project, I knit, but the rest of the time I’m a pretty selfish knitter. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯



20/30 Knitting in Public

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 20: Do you knit in public? Was anyone offended/incredibly happy/curious that you were doing so?

I knit in public all the time. Every Wednesday my knitting group meets at our local Wegmans to knit in the seating area of the cafe. We’ve attracted other fiber artists of all kinds, some have even become group members. We’ve also had people stop in mid-step to compliment us – “Your work is beautiful!” and “Wow that looks great, but I couldn’t do that!” – and watch us all working away for a minute before they carry on.

I also take knitting to every school function I go to, from Back to School Night to chorus concerts and track meets. I took a project to my oldest’s graduation last June and got a lot of interesting looks, some good, some as if to say “What a weirdo!” One woman told me that it was nice to see someone knitting, that it reminded her of her grandmother, who was always working on something.

I knit while waiting in line to vote in 2008. I brought knitting with me when I voted in 2012, but the line was too short for me to even get the project out.

When I go to roller derby bouts just to watch, I take knitting with me. I started derby via my knitting group, which always surprises people.

I participated in World Wide Knit In Public Day a few times, back when my knitting group also met on Sundays (with a different crowd from the Wednesday group). Once we got space at the local weekly farmers market, which was neat and fun but kind of confusing for people because we weren’t selling anything. We had a few people who pulled up chairs and pulled out their knitting! Overall, a delightful way to spend a few hours on a Saturday morning.



19/30 What Do You Knit To?

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 19: Do you watch movies and/or listen to podcasts while knitting? What are your favorite things to knit to?

I watch TV series and sometimes movie when I knit because I generally don’t need to look at what I’m doing too much. I listen to podcasts when I spin, but it’s been a while since I’ve spun – I have a backlog of Radiolab, This American Life, The Moth, and a list of new podcasts to try. I keep thinking I’ll listen to podcasts and knit but then default to TV instead.

So. What do I watch? Sometimes movies – usually documentaries or French movies to keep that part of my brain alive (I double majored in French in college). I’m currently in the middle of watching Cocaine Cowboys Reloaded on Netflix along with working my way through Narcos, The Get Down, and American Horror Story.

I also watch series on Netflix, Amazon, and on cable. I love BBC imports like Downton, Sherlock, Home Fires, Luther, The Bletchly Circle, The Hour (so sad that’s over), Broadchurch, Peep Show, That Mitchell & Webb Look, Broadchurch, and more. I wish there was a way to watch the BBC channels in the US.

On Netflix, I’ve been watching mostly Stranger Things, Jessica Jones (so good!), The Killing (so sad this is over too), Rectify, and more. I default to Bob’s Burgers when the kids are around and whatever I’m watching is inappropriate for them to watch. Oh! And Amazon streaming! Transparent is amazing; it’s won Emmys for a good reason. Mozart in the Jungle is great also – I could watch Gael Garcia Bernal all day; he’s dreamy … I also love him in The Science of Sleep.

TV series that I watch via cable: Penny Dreadful (sad that’s over too), The Knick, Walking Dead, Mr. Robot, Halt and Catch Fire, and probably a few other I’m not remembering. And I’ll also default to Turner Classic Movies if nothing else piques my interest.

Basically, I watch a lot of TV (too much, probably – that’s why I should start listening to podcasts) but I try to steer clear of junk TV. I do get caught up in The Real Housewives of [Orange County, New York, New Jersey] series, but that’s pretty junky TV and a very last resort for me.


18/30 Do you knit English or Continental?

30 Day Knitting Challenge Day 18: Do you knit English or Continental?

Yes. (Be kind; these are my first-ever videos of me knitting. I need a better set-up if I decide to do this on the regular.)

And backwards too: