Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Just In Time!

So, I had made Hugh two pairs of blue mittens, neither of which he was really excited about, although he wore the blue Kroy (doubled mitts) the most. I knew I could do better, and that my kids deserve better, especially since it took me awhile to convince them that wool mittens are so great! I had extinguished all options for bright blue wool in my stash. That meant one thing...dyeing some of the wool I bought a few years ago to dye for making mittens (would have been January 2009, when I made some for Lucy's grade 1 class!). It's Superwash Merino. They give the gauge as 19st on 4.5mm needles I think...but if you read the comments on you can see that I'm not the only one who thought it was much thinner. It's very similar to the "mercerized merino" I bought at Wal-Mart for Lucy's teacher's mitts (the bright green ones). That yarn also gave a much looser gauge. I was pretty certain I could knit it up on my standard gauge, but I figured I could still use the LK150 if I needed to. But first, it had to become blue:
I wound it into a cake, and stuck it into a measuring cup with some Wilton's food dye in Sky Blue. That's the turquoise part on the bottom. I did it in the microwave, about 45 seconds at a time, let it cool, then repeat.
Then, I remembered that I had bought some Jacquard dyes in the summer! Indeed, one was labelled Sky Blue, so I decided I'd dip the other end in's the dark Royal blue. What's the colour of your sky? The bright blue reminds me of Caribbean oceans....sigh...I was too impatient to wait for it to dry before re-winding it (how long would that take?!), so I put it in the oven on the lowest setting, and gradually unwound a bit at a time. Then, when I got to a portion that hadn't got much dye, I repeated the dyeing...with the darker, re-wound part hanging out of the microwave, LOL. I really liked the speckled look of the yarn, although it wasn't until it was knit that I could see just how much variation in intensity there was.
I traced Hugh's hand, and made a pattern for the Knit Contour. I knit the inside mitt, using the Kroy 3 ply, then switched to the merino, which I had gotten 24st/4" at T10. I got the first mitt done, and was loving it (had done the thumb gussets using my new 7 prong tool!), but as the second one was coming along, I began to feel the "there's no enough yarn" doubt....big time. Indeed, there was not enough of the dyed yarn!!!

I decided to do a pattern, with another ball of the undyed white. We looked at my patterns (I just got a bunch of new punch card patterns, but they have to be punched out!), and the only ones he wanted were 24 st repeats, and he needed at most, 40st, so they wouldn't center, nor match up at the sides. He liked a 12 st pattern from the manual, so I went with that, using 38 sts (36 +2 to seam). It went okay, but once done, I was pretty certain it was too narrow. My Knit Contour told me I needed 40sts as I was now getting 25st/4" in the pattern. I said, to heck with the seam matching, and re-did it with 42 sts.

But now, my machine was mad at me or something. Nothing went right. I won't bore you with the details, but if you've ever machine knitted with a ribber, a punch card, and a knit contour, while trying to simultaneously care for 3 kids and a old puppy.....even the knit contour acted up and one mitten came out way too long. The other was too short. The inside mitts were two different lengths. Argh. I finished off the tops in the solid blue, by hand....I found out I could have done more on the machine but I wasn't about to tempt things anymore. I undid seams, reknit one inside mitt top, or was it both....

On Monday night I still had the outer thumbs to do. I figured I could do them easily on the machine. But after two tries, I kept coming to the end of the gusset area on one edge, but not the other edge. I decided to do the thumbs the same way, but by hand, so I could see it and fiddle with it easier. Got it right the first try. I also had to reknit the inside thumbs...
Even though it took me at least 2 days longer than expected, I LOVE these mitts! I want my own! I think it's really interesting how the one mitt pooled the more intense colours, but the other one is much paler. Wish I had realized this was happening, I would have stopped it. What I find fascinating is the punch card. It looks nothing like this. I did it as a slip stitch pattern (which unfortunately doesn't create floats for extra thickness), but the same punch card will give a totally different pattern if done in Fair Isle. How does that happen?

1 comment:

Jennifer Lori said...

I'm trying to wrap my head around that colorwork on the machine...I think the most creative I ever got was stripes. ps Cool dyeing!