8.31.2015

Novus Collection: Choosing Yarn!

Once you've decided to knit a sweater from the Novus Collection it's time to choose what yarn you want to work with! Right? Sometimes this is the most fun and frustrating part of getting a project started....

Hot Flash was knit in a DK yarn, and Las Cruces in sport weight yarn. I would say that this is not exclusive and you can play a bit with the weight yarn you use for either of these sweaters. The most important thing to do is make sure you end up a with a fabric that you like! (And this involves swatching).

HOT FLASH
My first Hot Flash is knit in Siidegarte's Siide-Buschper a stunning hand-dyed silk linen milled in Switzerland, not so easy to get in the US, yarn. I love it, but the silk/linen has no memory and so grows over time. I did discover that if I wet it and put it in the dryer until almost dry (on low) that shrinks it right back up. That was super scary to do the first time, but it worked! The yarn itself feels phenomenal against the skin and is wearing incredibly well!
 
My second Hot Flash (still on the needles) is being worked in Wollmeise DK, a 100% merino with a structured twist, that is dyed in Germany. This Hot Flash will be a big heavier and warmer than my first one and should transition into fall well! I'm loving knitting this so much that I am onto the side panels already.
 
Many of my testers knit their Hot Flash(es) in Juniper Moon Zooey, a textured cotton/linen that is available in many LYS's. Lorrie knit hers in Manos del Uruguay Serena and it came out beautifully, making Serena (which is readily available) another great choice!


LAS CRUCES
I knit two Las Cruces... the first was in Noro Taiyo Sport which was SUPER fun to knit as I am highly amused by color changing yarn. I got this yarn while teaching at the Yarn Club... we were all talking about how fun my Las Cruces Shawl is to knit and I saw the Taiyo on the shelf, before I knew it I was all like... "that construction would make the coolest sweater, I should totally do that! With that yarn!" Famous last words people!
I absolutely love the hand of the Taiyo but I felt like the details were lost in it.... sooooooo... I just had to knit another one. (Do you see a theme here?) This time in Anzula Vera, which I knit Forza Scarf out of and always knew would be the perfect sweater yarn for warmer weather! Vera did not disappoint, she is a silk/linen blend that has a much more textured surface than the Siide-Buschper which gives her more structure. I'm thrilled with how this sweater is wearing.
There are some other great yarns to try with Las Cruces, particularly, Fibre Company Savannah, Quince and Co's new Willet, and BC Garn Allino. Check out all the Las Cruces already on the needles here.

Here's my trick for purchasing sweater yarn that I mentioned in the KAL the other day: 
  • When I am shopping I buy just one skein of a yarn I want to audition for future sweaters... then I have it around to play, swatch, with and get to know.
  • Then when I am ready to knit a larger project I know if that yarn is a good choice, and order the amount I need. I find it saves me money and space, and I get to know many yarns and their construction and fiber properties.
  • Finally, when I feel like knitting a hat/mittens/headband or other small accessory I can just grab these single skeins and knock the project out! Totally win/win, right? Or maybe just a really good justification?
The next post in this series is going to be about gauge... which is the next thing to think about once you have yarn. That won't come out until next weekend, though, cause we are going on a spontaneous camping trip... where I'm going to finish my Hot Flash!

So, have any questions? What yarn I you thinking of auditioning for Hot Flash and/or Las Cruces?

8.28.2015

Novus Collection: The Construction!

I promised you all a blog series outlining some of the tips and tricks you'll need to know for the Novus Collection. Hot Flash and Las Cruces use the same techniques and construction so the series will apply to both patterns.
I first played with this concept in Kinetik Mystery Shawl, and then started riffing off of it as the technique allows for intriguing modular construction. I always knew that a sweater using it was in the works, but I was happily surprised to see that I couldn't stop with just one!

This first post outlines the step by step construction used in the Novus Collection.... it's a little crazy, but surprisingly simple. The only trick is to follow the pattern exactly as written. : )!

Step 1: 
Cast on for the right side of the sweater.

Knit the sleeve and then to cast on for the front and back and work them along with the already established sleeve stitches.

Next, you’ll be splitting your stitches for the neckline, working neckline shaping and separating the shoulder from the front and back.

When finished the sts are put onto scrap yarn and held.
 
Step 2:  
Repeat for the left side of the sweater.

 
Step 3: 
Place all back held sts onto one long circular needle and cast onto left needle tip ready to work back panel!

 
Step 4: 
Work back panel from bottom of sweater to collar. As you work through the Back Panel, RS rows decrease st(s) from the Left Back, and WS rows decrease st(s) from the Right Back.

Step 5: 
Time for some Origami...
fold your sweater in half at the shoulder! 

 
Step 6: 
Pick up stitches along each edge of a sleeve and coordinating side seam and then work a side panel in the same fashion as  the back panel.

 
Step 7: 
Finally, place your front stitches, back onto the needle, pick up a few stitches along the neckline decreases, replace the shoulder and back panel stitches on the needle, and then pick up more stitches on the left neckline decreases and finally put the left front stitches back on the needle.

Now you are ready to work the shawl collar!

 
Please do ask questions as this series on knitting The Novus Collection progresses! We've got a KAL thread in my Ravelry group... I can't wait to see these sweaters come off your needles!

Also, before I go any further I want to give a huge shout out to all of you who helped me get these sweaters together! Novus Collection had 3 editors, Renee Lorion, Kate Atherley, and Anne Weaver, and  seven test knitters, Ana Cecilia, Laurel, Lorrie, Lori, Carol, Kelly, Suzie (y'all rock!).

Dave Burbank offered his photography servies and we shot on location at Firelight Camps a new glamping destination outside of Ithaca. I think Firelight would be an AMAZING place to hold a knitting retreat, as long as people don't mind walking to the bathroom : )! I'm thrilled with how all the photos came out, it's much easier for me to be behind the camera than in front of it and Dave did a great job relaxing me!

8.24.2015

Dyeing a Long Gradient Yarn at Home with Food Dye!

I've been finding that it isn't as easy to find super long gradient yarns as I thought it would be for Circo Mystery Cowl KAL and decided to teach you how to make your own! I used to dye yarn for many of my weaving projects in college and it was great fun to resurrect my dyeing skills.
The instructions below use readily available materials and can be done in your kitchen as the dyes are food safe.
What you will need:
400 yard skein of fingering weight wool yarn (if you plan on using beads on your yarn read this post first)
  I used Jill Draper Makes Stuff Esopus in Ash.
Wilton Icing Dye (You can find this at your local craft store, or online)
  I used Violet.
Vinegar
Glass or Plastic Bowl (don't use your favorite, it might get stained!)
Plastic spoon
Microwave
Gloves (don't forget these, you will regret it!)
  1. Wind Yarn
    I took about 3/4 of my yarn and wound it into a ball and left the last 1/4 in a skein to dye. If you decide to dye yarn for Circo Cowl MKAL, you'll want to wind 275ish yards into a ball and dye the rest.
  2. Soak Your Skein
    Soak the "skein" end of your yarn in a solution of 3 parts of water to 1 part of vinegar for at least 1 hour if not more. This helps wet and prep your skein so that it is ready to take on the dye. Take your yarn out of the bowl and squeeze it out. Dump out your vinegar water.
  3. Prepare Dye
    With gloves on, dilute dye into 1/2 cup warm water (in the bowl from above)... ensure that all the dye is dissolved and no lumps are left. I used about 2 teaspoons of Wilton Icing Dye. Use more if you want a saturated/darker color, and less if you want it lighter. You can always re-dye your yarn if it isn't dark enough but it is hard to get the dye out once it is set.

  4. Dye Yarn
    Keeping gloves on, place wetted yarn into dye solution. Add more water so that your yarn is covered. With gloves or spoon stir around gently making sure the dye penetrates your yarn evenly.
  5. Cook Your Yarn
    Place bowl of yarn and dye into microwave and cook on high for 3 - 5 minutes. Let stand for 3-5 minutes. Carefully lift yarn out of bowl and add big glug of vinegar (like one cup), stir it  and add the yarn back in. Cook and let cool as you did before until your dye water is clear which means all the dye has bonded with your yarn. (At least 2 more times.) Do not worry if your dye bath doesn't exhaust. Just continue below.
    Exhausted Dye Bath
  6. Cool Down
    Allow your yarn to sit in the dye bath and let it cool down.

  7. Rinse Your Yarn
    Dump out your dyebath and gently rinse your yarn in luke warm water. Do not use hot or cold water, you don't want to shock your yarn fibers. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear. If it doesn't run clear go onto Step 8. If it does hang your yarn to dry (This is the hardest part... waiting for it to dry!)

  8. Set Your Yarn
    If your water didn't run clear you can "re-cook" it with more vinegar and water. Make a solution of 50/50 water/vinegar and put yarn in it. Cook/cool as you did before until water is clear.  Then let it cool and rinse out as in Step 7.

  9. Rewind Your Yarn
    Take your yarn and wind it into a pretty gradient ball! If you are dyeing your yarn for Circo know that I knit the dark end of the skein left, so I wound that to the inside of the ball.

Resources:
Dyeing with food grade dyes
Fresh Stitches series on dyeing
Instructables Tutorial on Dyeing with Food Coloring 
Knitty Tutorial 

Note: This style of gradient dyeing gives a pretty hard "line" between the two colors, if you want a more gradual shift from color to color you have to dye the end of a sock blank. I don't have a knitting machine, and life is TOO SHORT to knit a sock blank by hand and then dye it and rip it out. I have heard you can soak a tightly bound ball of yarn and just let the dye penetrate the outside of the ball, but I'm not sure how to set this. That is an experiment for another day!

Time for a Winner: Congrats to Susulu69 you are the winner of a KnitCircus kit for Circo Mystery KAL! Get in touch with you address so I can send it out to you! (ALSO.... SQUEE! Yeah Suzy! I did a happy dance when your name came up!)

8.18.2015

Circo Mystery Cowl KAL (and a Giveaway!)

Did you hear? It's time for another Mystery KAL!
I give this one a two thumbs up for FUN and LEARNING! I can't wait until it's time to cast on together! I've set up a KAL PAL program in my Ravelry group, we tried this for Meta Mystery KAL and it went REALLY well, so of course we need to do it again! If you have never participated in one of my MKAL's, (or feel like you would love some extra help) having a KAL PAL can be a great way to participate. A Tips and Tricks thread has been started to help you choose yarn and beads and work gauge... and everyone is already chatting away in preparation!

Members of 2015's M Club got some pretty special yarn for this KAL, an exclusive color of KnitCircus' Greatest of Ease in a new long-gradient style of yarn Jaala calls Dip-Dyes.

While we were working out the exact color Jaala was super patient and sent me multiple "trials" until we got just what I wanted.... and I saved one of the One-Of-A-Kind Dip Dye skeins for you! So let's have a giveaway!!!!

The giveaway details... 
I matched my extra skein to some fabulous beads and have it already for you...


Head over to Ravelry and Favorite and Queue (and maybe even purchase!) Circo Mystery KAL, and then leave a comment below by 12pm (EST) on August 23rd. Don't forget to leave a way to get in touch with you! I will randomly choose a winner on Monday the 24th and get your yarn and beads to you in plenty of time to join in!