This past week’s Iron Crafter challenge was to make something around the theme “winter.” I contemplated all manner of crafts and finally settled on the handbag I’ve been dying to make. Guy pal bought me some wonderful boots a while back and I wear them any time it’s even remotely cold. They’re 100% sheepskin uppers with natural rubber soles and a pair of wooden beads for an accessory. I feel so beautiful when I wear them in addition to warm from the calves down. Unfortunately, the only handbag I had was a bright orange striped one I got at Old Navy back in middle school. The bag is in great shape for being about 14 years old, but it doesn’t go with my winter clothes at all.

My favorite part of winter themed crafts are the snowflake motifs. I don’t do all the religious themed goodies for Christmas, so for me winter is about family gathering together and the cold of a Colorado winter. I’ve looked at hundreds of snowflake motifs in intarsia, stranded, quilted, cabled, and appliquéd. Oddly, the one I like the most isn’t considered a snowflake at all. The pattern, Brea Bag, is supposed to look like a lotus flower. BS I say! It looks like a broken snowflake to me. Given all my health issues, I have a particular affection for other broken and cast aside things, so a broken snowflake is perfect for me.

I’d been given some alpaca yarn off of freecycle last year that’s been marinating in my closet. I used only one ball of the natural white alpaca to make the body of the bag. After seaming, I had only a few yards of yarn left. It was just the right amount. The pattern calls for holding light worsted yarn double, but since this is more of an aran, I just worked one strand throughout. I also made some minor changes to the side/bottom gusset of the bag because I didn’t like the way the pattern did increases/decreases for the strap over so many rows. Mine is more compact. This project does take a ton of attention while knitting. I was super proud to be able to work on it during the Super Bowl party at Green Valley Weavers on Sunday and then at my friend’s house afterward. When I finally finished all the cables and the long gusset, I blocked the pieces. Unfortunately, blocking was delayed by nearly 8 hours because of a sick dog. My poor little pup decided the best place to launch her explosive diarrhea was under a bookcase. Everything had to be moved, taken apart and cleaned. Between cleaning and shuffling the dog around the room, the friend that was helping me managed to scare her while she was on my bed so she peed all over my quilt too. I already had all the towels in the wash, so it took me forever to get my blanket cleaned. It was 4am before I had a quilt to put on the bed! When the dog was finally all set up in the shower with supplies for the night and given her Imodium, she managed one last blast of the shower so I had to clean the whole shower, her, and her evening supplies again. Given the level of pain I was in from dealing with the dog and her messes, I honestly thought I’d have to quit working on the purse and give up entering it in the competition. I was REALLY pissed off. Somehow, I manged. I’m really proud of myself. Since I’d never blocked before, I was really eager to try it. That eagerness to try blocking is what got be back into working on my project again. Here’s a mid blocking shot. The side of the bag on the left is pinned and blocked. The side on the right is not yet blocked. Check out how much this bag grew! I was worried it would be too small with using only one strand of wool, but it came out exactly the size I want.

I just used the kids’ play mat I have and sewing pins since I don’t have any proper blocking materials yet. My next task after seaming the blocked pieces was to make a liner for the bag. Since it is knit on large needles, it’s a little loose. I wouldn’t want a pen falling out, so I most definitely need a liner. I dug through the bin of old clothes I’ve collected from my family. I love reusing the old fabric in something new. I found a pair of linen pants of my mother’s that were exactly the same color as my yarn. I couldn’t believe how perfect a match it is. I cut out the seams and managed to get just enough large pieces to sew a liner. I’ve never sewn a bag liner before, so this was a pretty big deal for me. I’m thrilled with how it came out. It was also my first time sewing in a zipper. I found a metal zipper in just the right color in my box of zippers, also from freecycle.

I took my bag, bag liner, and thread to knitting group and spent the entire time at Panera Bread seaming away trying to attach the liner to the bag. When I got home, I still had more hand sewing to go. Properly anchoring all the corners of the liner to the corners of the bag and getting the zipper edge to attach well to the alpaca while keeping the stitches invisible is quite an undertaking. At some point during the stitching, I came down with the flu. I still feel horrible. I’m sure I looked like a rather silly person struggling to breathe next to my humidifier cranking out the hand stitching and the knitting for the strap.

The strap is knitted from a softer alpaca from the same box of yarn on freecycle. I really love this yarn. It’s alpaca from the source; all the tags are in Spanish and from a farm in Peru! Since the pattern didn’t have a felted handle but rather a leather one, I knit a swatch, felted it, then figured out the number of stitches for my strap. It was so hard to knit the strap when I just wanted to sit with kleenex attached to my face instead. I felted it the lazy style, in the washer, because I felt so bad I couldn’t stand over the sink to felt it even, much less use my arms for any kind of scrubbing.

I can’t tell you how good it felt to stitch the handle onto the D rings. I’m finished. I tried this project once before, earlier in the fall when my pain was so out of control that I couldn’t keep track of the numbers of stitches or cables. I’m so psyched that now, on the new pain meds, I can actually keep track of my stitches and do complex projects! I can’t wait until I’m healthy enough to go out. This flu virus sucks. I’m really hoping to pull it together enough to go on a first date this Friday night to a small film festival here in town. I met him on okcupid and am itching to meet him. Plus, this film festival promises to be wonderful. Just think how beautiful I’ll be downtown walking up to the theater in my sexy wool boots, my charcoal grey peacoat, stylish cashmere lined black leather gloves (that are seriously worn out unfortunately), and this stunning bag. I’ll be so hot the snow will melt under my feet and men will break their necks snapping around to catch a glimpse of me!

Here’s some finished shots of my new bag:

In real life, the strap matches the boots perfectly. It’s still a little damp from felting though so that makes it appear darker. I’ll get a better photo when it’s dry, but I was under a deadline for Iron Crafter! This snowflake winter handbag is so wonderful, it just had to make it in under the wire for the winter competition. I’m really coveting the winter badges, but i have to admit, the best thing is having my winter handbag done and ready to go out with! I feel so nice just holding it. With all the alpaca, it should even help keep my water bottle from freezing and my medication at a more appropriate temperature if I go outside for any length of time or have to drive around in a cold car. This bag is just so perfect in so many ways.

 

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Mondye July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

You know you’ve been looking for it, your Mondye eye candy! Here’s the week’s work:

This week’s dye lot includes some new sodas, a custom order, some Wilton dyed, and roving, worsted weight and fingering sock yarns! The left side is worsted weight Peruvian wool and superwash roving both in Big Red soda pop. The earthy one next to it is a sock yarn I’m falling for myself. The top back left is Orange Crush soda dyed onto fingering sock and the top back right is Grape Crush on worsted. This Grape Crush came out a bit more saturated in color than the last one, which was made into this awesome bag. The middle right yarns, Grapette I’ll be sending to Oregon and Cherry Crush, are both worsted. I learned that Cherry Crush and Big Red dye to exactly the same color red. Both are much more red than the pink of Mountain Dew Code Red. Finally, in the front right we have a roving I’m calling “tumultuous sea”.

Here’s a close up of “Tumultuous Sea”:

Additionally, I’ve got a close up of the Big Red roving because the fibers are so delicious and close-ups so luscious:

My last big dyeing project this week was to start making a dye binder and color cards. I figure this will help me to get color combinations I actually want for my cake dyeing and also to track which sodas look good together, how dark they dye on different kinds of yarn and fiber, etc.

I hope you love all the colors. Let me know if you see something you would like. Most of the goodies pictured in the top dye lot shot will be heading to my etsy store as soon as I get them dried and packaged up.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this review on Ravelry. This was posted by a fellow LSG group member who purchased some of my Grape Crush soda pop dyed yarn in Worsted Peruvian wool. I think you’ll agree her project is stunning!

“I purchased some lovely worsted wool yarn dyed with Crush Grape soda from swamps42 at her etsy shop: Hairballz Creations.

Soda Pop Yarn

It arrived promptly and I had to cast-on promptly too 🙂

I made a Ballband Bag with it.
Ballband Bag 1

You can see the Soda Pop Yarn in the garter stitch at the base, but to be honest the photo doesn’t due the subtly of the shading justice. The color ended up being just want I wanted; not too pink and not too purple-y.
Soda Pop Yarn

It felted up very nicely after a couple laundry loads:
Ballband Bag 2

Very happy with the final results!”

She also added, “when knitted in garter stitch, it felts to approximately 75% of its original length (didn’t pay attention to width as I was more concerned with how long to make the strap). This info might be useful for some.” so those of  you who want to use this yarn for your felting projects have a better idea of how it felts up. Of course, I know some people felt their projects differently. I personally felt the heck out of my stuff so it’s impossible to see the different rows and I’ve seen plenty where it’s still possible to see the rows and columns of stitches in the knitting. It looks to me like the 75% length is a pretty complete felting job.

I hope you all love historyweaver’s bag as much as I do! You can add comments to the original review thread in LSG here. I’m personally feeling quite inspired to try that pattern and likely will once I get a few other projects off my plate.

It’s MONDYE!

July 12, 2010

I’ve decided to start a new weekly tradition for the hairballz blog. Every Monday, we’ll have Mondye! It’s a chance to oogle all yarn, fabric, wool, and even ungloved fingers that were dyed during the past week. If you have to start another week, you might as well do so with some fuzzy eye candy, right?

Here we have an overview of the week’s dyeing, most of which is destined for my etsy shop. It was my first time to dye roving! The yellow yarn that’s hanging in the back of the picture is 5 hanks of Mountain Dew dyed yarn for a custom batch order. I’m very pleased with how these came out. The color is perfect, and the subtle variation in color within the hank is ideal for adding that gentle interest to solid colored knit pieces.

Unfortunately, I had a rather high pain week and wasn’t able to do as much as I set out to do. Additionally, the yarn and wool I was expecting to receive on Thursday didn’t arrive until Friday. I started in Friday right away with some sock yarn and some professional acid dyes I ordered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY happy with my food safe dyes and acids, but I wanted to experiment. So I got some acid dyes in black, grey and blood red. My intention was to dye some zombie/apocalypse yarn. This way I’d be plenty inspired for the upcoming zombie swap with the Odd Ducks of Ravelry. I envisioned a mottled grey yarn with black flecks and blood splatter. The goal was truly gruesome sock yarn to make some stunning mid-calf socks for myself. The black I ordered was a blueish black, and mixed with the red blood color made for lots of purple. Next time I’ll dye the grey, wait for it to cool, wash the yarn, then dye the red splatter, wait for it to cool, wash…. and so on to layer up the color rather than my current dyeing history of just keeping going and only washing at the end of all colors. This way I may be able to prevent some of the color mixing that caused my zombie yarn to come out so feminine. I’m calling the color “Punk Endtrails”:

I’m no longer content to have my socks made from this. However, I do like the color a ton. It just wasn’t what I was trying to achieve. It reminds me of colors a goth girl might wear. It’s very similar to my punk zombie doll. Who knows, if I swapped yarn dyed this color with my little zombie doll, then it could still be on theme even! I just don’t want this yarn for me though since the colors came out so un-gruesome. Unfortunately, this particular yarn got a bit knotted up. Thank goodness I’ll have a yarn swift soon! Since it does have about a half-dozen little knots in it, I’m calling it unfit for sale. I wouldn’t want any of my customers to have even one knot in their yarns! I spent hours hunting through sock patterns on Ravelry to find just the one. I decided I’ll knit socks out of this yarn anyhow, and I bet my mother would love these colors! I’ve got to get my holiday crafting done sooner rather than later, and she has a birthday around that time too. If the finished socks don’t seem very her, then surely they’ll be very me. Either way, I’m still knitting socks!

Next we have soda dyed rovings. I don’t want to leave the spinners out of the awesomeness of soda dyeing! Here’s the “Orange Crush” and “Grape Crush” both dyed on a superwash merino wool roving.

Both colors came out with tons of white area even though each is the same weight of wool and dyed in the same quantity of soda as my soda yarns. The superwash just sucks up the dye before I can even get all the wool into the pot! The orange is just varied shades of orange and off-white so it looks just like orange soda with foam. The purple came out with stripes on the inside of deep bluish purple in addition to the lighter soda foam areas. It’s a very interesting roving to say the least. I’m quite happy with how both came out and I’d love to spin that orange up! The purple is nice, but it’s just not my color.

I also dyed a roving with the blood red professional dye. I dipped it much like making hand-dipped candles. The color came out exactly like I wanted, but darker than I’d intended. I was just going to use the dye that was left over from my sock yarn to make some pink roving, but when I added a bit more dye to the pot, I got the most stunning color. I’m calling this one “Wild Strawberries” because looking at this roving makes me hungry and almost makes my mouth tingle with the tartness of a wild strawberry.

The final roving I had to dye, I wasn’t sure about what colors I wanted. Then guy pal suggested a waterfall over dinner. Every dyer seems to make a waterfall colorway, and I’m sure I will to at some point. I decided that since I’m in Colorado, and it’s the summer time, the appropriate color would be white water rafting instead! I used several Wilton cake colors to make acid dye for this roving. This color is truly one-of-a-kind. Be sure to watch out for those rocks on your rafting (spinning) adventure!

I’m so happy with this week’s dyeing, I don’t think I can pick a favorite. Even though I don’t like purple much, it’s a stunning shade. I’d love to spin up the white water colorway, but I know those colors don’t look good on me. The orange would be super fun spin and knit into socks. It’s superwash, so all you’d have to do is ply in some nylon thread! Then the wild strawberries I want to spin into a worsted weight yarn and actually make up one of the many free patterns for knit and crochet strawberries. Of course then I’d have to dye a stem green as well… The Mountain Dew always comes out great. It’s such a reliable and soft yellow. All geeks should knit their kids’ blankets out of Mountain Dew! As for the sock yarn, I’ve adopted it and someone on my list is likely to get some socks made from it…so long as this pattern works out well. I could see some great fingerless mitts there too. Send me a message if you’ve just got to grab one of this week’s dyeing. This is all there is from this week, so you’ll have to jump on it!

I finally got my package done for the Doctor Horrible Sing Along Blog swap I did for the Odd Ducks Swap on Ravelry. Given how much work I ended up having to put into this package, the absence of inspiration for the first month, and all the paperwork and time that ended up being involved for the deposition and then the hearing that didn’t happen, I’m really pleased it came out this well and only took an extra 5 days to finish! It’ll get mailed out first thing tomorrow morning via FedEx 2 Day. That means I only have to wait and squirm in anticipation of my spoilee opening it until Thursday! I don’t think there is anything more exciting than getting to spoil someone. Yes, it can be very hard to send away all your awesome creations, but somewhere someone will squeal with delight.

One of my earliest ideas was to send some soup from the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen. I also have a history of wood burning spoons, so this seemed like a good, easy handmade to include. My partner doesn’t like really spicy stuff as I found in my stalking, so I got a different flavor soup from what I’d normally buy for myself. I’ve tried the same brand of spicy tortilla soup, but still had to add some heat. I picked up a set of wooden utensils when I was in Arizona at the IKEA, so the total cost of this craft came to 3 bucks for soup and 49 cents for utensils. I used her favorite quotes for the spoons and came up with a design for Caring Hands.

I love the slogan I came up with for them based on Dr. Horrible’s attitude toward their efforts. After all, the solution really is to just put the power into different hands, and not necessarily their caring ones. The date is the year the movie came out.

I did a big sewing project too. I’d seen several people make Wonderflonium knitting bags, but I wanted to be a little more unique than that. No one wants to see everyone make the same projects for the swap, right? So I made a binder to hold patterns and included page protectors to keep the patterns safe from Moist. I’d hate to have him drip on my patterns and smear the ink. I made 4 pockets too. There is one sized just for the Dr. Horrible needle gauge I made, a big pocket with 3 separate compartments each large enough to hold a set of DPNs, and a little pocket for odd bits of yarn or stitch markers. I know for a fact my spoilee made some awesome stitch markers for her spoilee and was talking about crafting them in double to have for herself. Here’s the front inside:

And here’s the back inside with the last pocket for holding circular needles. My spoilee is a sock knitter and I wanted to make sure she had space for all her sock knitting supplies, or at least enough to last a short trip, vacation, or wild stitch-and-bitch session. Even this binder came in under budget. While the actual binder was expensive, all the fabric I used was in the remnants bin at the Hancock Fabrics by my house on a day when all remnants were on sale an additional 75% off! I have plenty to make another binder even. All the remnants were at least a half yard! But, I don’t have the program or card writer for my embroidery machine though and ended up using Sharpie on some white satin I had in my stash for the labels. I also contemplated needle felting black wool on, but that just wouldn’t fit with the sparklie briefcase nature of the project.

I love this binder so much I have to make one for myself. I don’t know what theme I want for mine, but I want this binder. I also want a nice needle gauge. If only I could figure out a theme, I’d have the best set of stitch markers, a row counter, a binder, a few bags, and a needle gauge. I want the finished set, I just can’t pick a damn theme! I may go something earthy, something hippie, or something punk. I have no clue.

Here’s the whole haul I’m sending off. Believe it or not, I came in under the $30 budget. I wanted to do more, but a few little birdies on my end kept saying that I can’t do that much because it makes the smaller swap packages and packages from folks who don’t craft/shop quite as well as me look lame. I certainly don’t want to make anyone look lame, but I want to have the most awesome packages anyhow. I think this will have to suffice.

I like to wrap with clues. My family almost always uses clues on our Christmas presents, and we even do celebrity gifts! Every person gets one gift a year (and usually a big one like Santa’s present) and it’s addressed as from the celebrity. It’s my favorite holiday tradition. I mean who wouldn’t want to get a gift from Hannibal Lector? Then when I checked my wrapping box, I had tissue paper left over from the video game swap I did. There were several bright colors and METALLICS! I love the whole package being wrapped up in the steam punk-ish Doctor Horrible color scheme. Could it be more perfect? Not unless I’d had a shipping box big enough to package it all in a blue, round laundry basket like Penny’s! For the record, I bought one at the dollar store, but the binder didn’t fit inside and I didn’t have a big enough box. The basket is now holding fiber under my spinning stool so the wool doesn’t get icky on the floor.

The clues I used are:

  • for the ice cream flavored candy and chapstick, “what a crazy random happenstance”
  • for the black and white thread she had on her wish list, “for that classic battle of good and evil”
  • for the chair, “we all need somewhere to sit while we dream about the keys to a shiny new Australia”
  • for the Otterpops style soda pops, “the freeze ray needs work…may I recommend your freezer?”
  • for the needle gauge, “It’s ok, he won’t feel a thing”
  • for the soup, “From the Caring Hands Homeless Shelter and Soup Kitchen”
  • for the odd duck, “Steampunkin’ up the Odd Ducks”
  • for the pop rocks mad scientist set, “Materials from the E.L.E. for your next horrible experiment”
  • for the Wonderflonium binder I included a message in the front pocket about why I’d made the pockets the size I did and that this binder, like wonderflonium will include what you need to finish your next horrible project and to keep knitting those awesome socks because you have to remember, “Even in the darkness, every color can be found.”
  • for the page protectors, “to keep your patterns safe from Moist”

Fingers crossed she loves this package at least half as much as I loved putting it together for her. I hope she feels very loved and very spoiled. I hate sewing with satin. Doing so is a sign I really, really like someone.

I decided I need to see how well cake yarns sell on etsy compared to my soda pop yarns. The most obvious way to do this I figured was to make some and see how well they sell. So I dyed this one tonight. I’m not dyeing cake yarn with the same speed as soda pop yarn because the hand-painted dyeing process takes much longer than the kettle-dyeing process AND I really like to contemplate my colors when I paint.

For this yarn, I took a light blue soda pop yarn and over-dyed it with Wilton cake colors and acid. All color added to this once natural color yarn I bought is food-grade. I let the colors blend a bit and cooked them in. The finished product has been washed several times, including one soak in Woolite to be sure it’s ready for you to use.

Dyeing of yarn is a learning process and why I try out a hank of each new technique to make sure the yarn is nice to work with, clean, and colorfast. I learned the hard way on my hippie cake that incomplete rinses after cake dye can lead to very pink fingers that leave pink smudges all over the house. Now I’ve implemented a 3 part hand-wash cycle after every dye, regardless of what dye is used. Now there are no more pink hands. I have noticed that yarn turning hands and even wooden and bamboo needles fun colors is not a problem unique to hand-dyed yarns. One of my dear friends showed me her discolored bamboo needles a week or so ago. The color was caused by some bigger box commercial yarn! I would have thought that big companies would have developed a 3 stage wash cycle like I have. They’ve been dyeing yarn for longer than me.

Anyhow, I love this finished yarn. I still need to get it packaged up in a proper cake with a candle, but I’m quite hung up on what to call it. Does anyone have any ideas for this colorway? I think it looks like a candy, taffy or cotton candy. Maybe something like Cinderella colors or some other combination of the Disney princesses. Do any of you have ideas as to what to name this fantastic colorway? While it is one of a kind, I would like to have a proper name should I create a similar yarn later. I am keeping a ‘dye book’ with rough recipes for each yarn along with a small sample. This way I’ll get more predictable results as I gain experience. Check back on my etsy store to see the first cake yarns starting to appear! I’ll be rolling out cake yarns in addition to my soda pop yarns in the month of July!

So I started the September Scarf several times and the pattern sucks. I’m sure it’s got an error or two. So I picked another pattern rather than try and deal with the September stuff. I really just hate that month. I found this pattern for the Villandry Lace Scarf that looks nice and doesn’t require too much yardage. This hippie yarn was dyed on a thrift store find of 166 yards, not my usual natural wool of over 200 yards that I dye. So don’t try the September Scarf, it sucks.