Friday, December 28, 2012

Mott Canyon Stovepipe, or a hat for Sister Mary

Years ago, I knit a hat for my brother-in-law on the knitting machine. It was kind of unique (I did not make up the pattern), having a top that could be opened or closed, depending on your winter activity level.

He and my sister, Mary, are ardent skiers, having season passes to the local resort. They like nothing better than to head up on a weekday morning after a good dumping, and to be the first ones down the chutes in Mott Canyon.

Mary had mentioned in passing that she would like a hat like her husband's, if that was possible...

Of course it's possible!!

The construction is basically a tube, with a casing at the top, through which an I-cord is passed, enabling the wearer to open/close the top of the hat at will. The construction challenge, however, was how to do the casing... On the knitting machine, it's very easy. Hand-knit, from the bottom up, is a little different. I ended up knitting the casing and top border separately, and grafting 128 stitches to the hat... I'm now really good at Kitchner stitch!

As with my hat, I tried to find patterns that were meaningful and fit my image of my sis. In addition to her Celtic heritage, my sister is a consumate gardener - super green thumb!! She also preserves most of her garden's produce...

It started with  a two-color cast-on, then the Celtic braid that was too tall for my hat, then flowers (or snowflakes, if you want), and ending with leaves. I used what I call "beaded rib" as the unifying element.

 Here is a detail of the casing and the i-cord with the tassel.

 And here's a look at it closed up.

The next one (if there is one...) will start from the top down, which will make the casing WAY easier to execute!

The yarn is one that I designed and had custom spun; 47.2% gray wool (romeldale/montedale/rambouillet cross), 35.3% white alpaca, 10% iron gray kid mohair, and 7.5% white bombyx silk.

This is the first "real" project that I've done with this yarn (I have around 7 lbs. of it), and I really like the fabric. It was knit on size 3 needles, with a gauge of appx. 6.5 sts/inch.

This has the added perk of matching a vest that I knit for Mary out of hand-spun Icelandic, which is also gray and red!!

I still need to block it, but it will be on its way to her soon!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This is so not ok...

This is a picture of some superwash Merino yarn that was dyed with the Dharma dyes. The socks made from this yarn have been washed twice.
The colors are true in this picture.

WTH? All of the turquoise has mostly washed out. The green was made with turquoise mixed with Golden Ochre (a Jaquard Dye), the purple was Dharma Fuschia and Turquoise. The remaining stripes of dusky turquoise was a mixture of Jaquard Turqoise and black (and maybe something else, I forget). I hate to think what they'll look like after wash #3.

I have emailed Dharma, asking them to email me so that I can send them this picture. When I emailed earlier, asking if I could return the blue dyes because of rinsing problems, they contacted me, and because I had used some, I was unable to return them. Now, I'm really P.O'd, and I want them to take them back. I've also posted this picture on their Facebook page.

The real issue is that I have sold all the yarn in this colorway, along with most of the fiber in the same color mix. The other colorways that I've dyed have also mostly sold, and they also contain the turquoise dye and mixtures.

I know from my own experience (I am not proud of this...), that if something is wrong, most times people will not contact the supplier, but will bad-mouth the supplier to all their friends. This is my biggest fear - that people will think that Fiber Voodoo doesn't know how to dye stuff, and the dye doesn't stick.

I have been dyeing for over 20 years. Because of the issues I had in October, I checked the pH of my vinegar water - it was pH 4. I steamed the yarn for over 30 minutes (I got distracted and when the timer went off, I was in the middle of something else). There is no reason for this dye not to have struck the fiber, particularly since it's superwash, which is a dye magnet.

I will let you know what happens. I'm now reluctant to keep any of the Dharma Dyes, and think I would like them to take them back and give me a refund. I'm going to continue to use my not-so-old Jaquard dyes, which are now stored in the house...

So, in the future, I'll stick with the more expensive but tried and true dyes that I'm used to. This has been a very expensive lesson.