Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Natural Dye Series: Part II

Happy Halloween! Nothing will make you feel as though you’re creating a witches’ brew like dyeing with lichen. It’s a unique way to get into the holiday spirit.

In the second installment of the Natural Dye series, I’m going to show you how to use lichens as a natural dye. If you thought the marigold dye from Part I was fun, you will love this installment. Remember the foamy, magenta liquid in the jar from Part I? That’s the lichen dye.

This dye takes about a month to prepare, but it is well worth the wait. Something about it is magical because you’d never expect such a vibrant color to come from a leathery, grey-brown lichen.

For today’s tutorial you’ll need:

  • A glass jar – canning jars or recycled sauce jars are perfect
  • Measuring cups
  • Ammonia
  • Water
  • A handful of umbilicaria pepulosa (pictured below) – this type of lichen is abundant on boulders, and there are several variations. For results closest to mine, try to find this lichen. You may achieve different results with another variation, but that is part of the fun of natural dyeing!

Before you get started, I want to include a note on ethics and lichen dyes. Unlike our marigold tutorial, in which I grew and harvested my own plants, lichen dyeing requires you to search public and/or forested land. Be considerate and mindful of your impact on the land and how you may be disturbing the ecosystem. Do not collect more than you’ll need – a little goes a long way. Avoid scraping lichen from stones as much as possible as lichen is slow-growing and may not regenerate. I went out on a windy day over the weekend and found more than enough on the ground surrounding the boulders.

Once you have your lichen, you’re ready to go. To achieve a magenta dye from umbilicaria, an ammonia extraction is required. After you’ve collected your lichen, place your handful into a jar.

Next, create a 50/50 solution of water and ammonia. I’ve measured out 1 cup each. Pour the solution over the lichen, leaving about an inch of air at the top of the jar. You should notice the solution briefly change to a brilliant shade of red or purple that will fade to brown.

Close the lid tightly and shake to your heart’s content. Give the jar a few shakes each day for about three weeks. Once a week, take the jar outside and carefully remove the lid and swirl the contents of the jar to allow oxygenation. Repeat the process over the next few weeks until the liquid is purple or magenta. This process can take more than three weeks. Do not rush it– it is a practice in patience. I’ve dyed this way many times and have found that I can achieve a gorgeous dye after about a month.

Since I already have another jar of concentration ready to go, I’m going to dive into dyeing.

For this part of the tutorial you’ll need:

  • 1 skein of Universal Yarn Ready to Dye Superwash Merino Worsted Weight yarn.
  • Jar of concentrated dye
  • One stainless-steel pot that you don’t plan to use for cooking – I purchased mine for a few dollars at a thrift store.
  • Tongs – they don’t need to be stainless steel but choose some that you won’t use for cooking.
  • Measuring cups
  • Water

In Part I, you used a mordant to help fix the marigold dye to the fiber. That step isn’t necessary for this lichen. In fact, it can actually dull the color.

Fill a stainless-steel pot with 4-5 cups of water and place your yarn inside. Set aside for approximately 30 minutes.

Pour off approximately 1 cup of the concentration into the pot. Gently stir and turn the yarn to incorporate the dye into the water. I suggest you open your windows for ventilation as you’ll be warming an ammonia solution over the stove-top.

Bring water to just under a simmer. If you have a thermometer it should be about 190 F. Allow the yarn to soak in the dyebath for approximately one hour, occasionally turning the yarn gently with your tongs. Notice how brilliantly saturated the color becomes.

\

Remove from the heat and allow the yarn to cool in the dyebath overnight.

Remove the yarn from the dyebath and thoroughly rinse. I do recommend a gentle detergent or wool wash as the ammonia can be quite pungent. Hang and allow to dry completely. Then, pat yourself on the back for your patience. I told you it was worth the wait!

I’m working on a pattern that uses the yarn from Parts I and II of the Natural Dye series. In the future, I’ll show you how to use natural dyes on some of our other Ready to Dye yarns.

Summit Scarf – Triple Knotted Fringe

The Summit Scarf from our Colorful Commute e-book features triple knotted fringe. It is an easy way to add a lot of visual interest to your project. It may look complicated, but it’s really quite simple and doesn’t take much more time or effort than plain fringe. Today I’ll show you how to do it!

summitscarf4_classicshadesfrenzy_web

Step 1: Begin as you normally would when adding fringe to a project, for this scarf I cut 21” strands of yarn. Then, holding two strands together as one, I attached groups of fringe to the edge of the scarf, about one group every other stitch.

Step 2: Take half of one group of fringe knot together with half of next group of fringe 1” below first row of knots. I did not split the first and last groups of fringe.

fringe1

fringe2

fringe3

fringe4

Step 3: Repeat for another row of knots. To finish, trim fringe evenly.

fringe5

fringe6

fringe7

fringe8

That’s all there is to it! You can keep adding more rows of knots to create some really amazing  and intricate looking fringe, use longer strands of yarn when increasing the number of knotted rows. Beads can be placed above the knots (or even in place of the knots) to add some sparkle – there are so many possibilities.

 

 

Trade Street Cowls and Hat – Applied Crochet Lines

Today, I have another tutorial involving a crochet hook  to go along with our In Transit e-book.  The Trade Street Cowls and Hat pattern uses contrasting applied crochet lines to create vertical stripes. The  lines are added to the purl columns in the finished pieces.

The Trade Street Hat and Cowls feature an applied crochet stripe. No carrying colors on the back side! The pattern comes with both long and short versions of the cowl.
The Trade Street Hat and Cowls feature an applied crochet stripe. No carrying colors on the back side! The pattern comes with both long and short versions of the cowl.

It can be a lot of fun choosing the color for the applied crochet lines, and there are a few options, depending on the look you would like to create. Using a solid color in Uptown Bulky that also appears in the Main Color produces a plaid-like effect. With Classic Shades Big Time as the Contrasting Color, there are a ton of options – choose a highly contrasting section of the color repeat to make the stripes pop, use a section that is neutral or similar to the Main Color for more subtle stripes or choose a section with quicker color changes for gradient stripes.

Let’s get started!

Once you have finished and blocked your cowl or hat, you are ready to add the applied crochet lines.

Step 1: Holding yarn beneath work, insert crochet hook through the center of the first purl st in a column.

appliedcrochet_1

 

Step 2: Pull a loop of yarn through to the front of the work.

appliedcrochet_2

 

Step 3: Insert hook through the next st up in the same purl column, pull a loop of yarn through to the front of the work (2 loops on hook), pull the second loop through the first loop (1 loop on hook); repeat along entire column.

appliedcrochet_3

appliedcrochet_4

Step 4: When entire column is complete, break yarn, leaving a 3 to 4 inch tail and pull through last loop.

appliedcrochet_5

 

Step 5: Pull tail to wrong side and weave in ends.

appliedcrochet_6

Keep going until all of the purl columns have applied crochet lines.

Will you go for subtle or bold stripes on your Trade Street Cowls and Hat?

 

 

 

Free Pattern Friday – Sideline Scarves

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

Just in time for football season (and gift knitting season!), we have the Sideline Scarves. And a photo tutorial!

Each scarf requires 1 ball of Uptown Worsted Spirit Stripes and 1 ball of Uptown Worsted. 1 strand of each yarn is held together throughout the scarf.

Though these scarves look like intarsia, I can assure you there is no manual changing of colors in this project. The vertical striping along this piece is inherent in the yarn print. This project takes advantage of the color changes in the yarn, and employs what we call “intentional color pooling.” The reason for the tutorial below rather than a simple pattern is that the color changes in Spirit Stripes can vary just a bit from skein to skein. With the method below, no matter what the lengths of color are in your particular skein, you can achieve intentional color pooling.

With just a little bit of preparation, you’ll be knitting away in no time!

Here’s how to do it!

When choosing yarn colors, it’s best to pick a color in Uptown Worsted solids that contrasts with the Spirit Stripes. In the tutorial below, I’m using Uptown Worsted 324 Black with Spirit Stripes 517 Arena (red and yellow)

Step 1: Holding both yarns together, cast on 30-40 stitches with a US Size 10 1/2 needle. Make sure that the last cast-on stitch ends right at the end of that particular color section in the Spirit Stripes. This is important because we’re going to be calculating just how many stitches are consumed by each section of color.

colorpoolscarf1

Step 2: Work in K1, P1 Ribbing through the end of the first section of color. Count how many stitches it took to get through this color, and round to the nearest even number. We will call this number of stitches “X.” If you’re as absent-minded as me, write this number down!

colorpoolscarf2

Step 3: Next, work in K1, P1 Ribbing through the second color and count the stitches. You will most likely have to turn the row before you’ve made it through this color – that’s okay, it’s unimportant now. We will call this color “Y.” Y may not be the same number as X, because the color sections are not always exactly the same length.

colorpoolscarf3

Step 4: Unravel your knitting from above. Add X + Y, then divide in half. The resulting number will be your cast on. Your cast on number should be roughly 24-30 stitches.

Step 5: With waste yarn, make a crochet chain that is several stitches longer than your cast on number. Now, holding both yarns together, from the tail end of the yarns, find a color section a few colors from the end. Find the halfway point of this section of color. Be sure to leave at least a yard or so of tail for binding off later.

colorpoolscarf4

Step 6: Beginning at that halfway point in the first color section, working through the bottom bump of each crochet chain, [pick up and knit 1 stitch, pick up and purl 1 stitch] until you’ve run to the end of this color. The number of stitches you were able to pick up should be half of X (or Y). If you picked up more or fewer stitches before reaching the end of the color change, take out a few stitches and adjust tension as needed.

colorpoolscarf5

Step 7: Continuing where you left off in the rib sequence (you may have left off with either a pick up and knit or pick up and purl), pick up stitches in K1, P1 Ribbing until you have run halfway through the second color. This number should be half of X (or Y). If it is not, take out a few stitches and adjust your tension.

The total number of stitches on your needle should be the cast-on number figured in Step 4, or X + Y divided by 2.

colorpoolscarf6

Step 8: Now it’s time for the fun part – the knitting! Turn your work. Work in K1, P1 Ribbing until you reach the end of that color. Your last stitch in this color (shown yellow below) should fall right on top of the first stitch yellow stitch. If it doesn’t, take a few stitches out and adjust your tension.

colorpoolscarf7

Step 9: Continue in K1, P1 Ribbing to the end of the row. You should now be halfway through the second color (shown red below).

colorpoolscarf8

Repeat Steps 8 & 9 until you have about 1 yard of yarn left, enough to bind off.

Here is another version of the scarf, a little further along:

colorpoolscarf9

You can see that the midway point between the colors is not perfect – and that’s okay! Just be sure not to get too far off track with your alignment of the colors, or it will be tougher to correct when you get farther into the scarf.

Pick your team, choose your colors, and get knitting!

New Bern Cowl – Faux Cable Fundamentals

Have you seen the New Bern Cowl and wondered how I created that faux cable look? Today, I’ll show you how, step by step!

So easy! The New Bern Cowl calls for just two balls of Big Time and a US Size 15 (10mm) needle.

It is a very simple technique, but brace yourself knitters…it does involve a crochet hook! Don’t worry though, if you can do a simple chain, you can do this.

newberncowl_tutorial1_blog4newberncowl_tutorial2_blog newberncowl_tutorial3_blog newberncowl_tutorial4_blog newberncowl_tutorial5_blog3newberncowl_tutorial6_blog2newberncowl_tutorial7_blog2

Pretty easy, right? I can’t wait for you to try it out on your very own New Bern Cowl!

Free Pattern Friday – One Side Cowl

It’s Free Pattern Friday!

one-side-cowl-loose-blog

 

Today, the One Side Cowl in Bamboo Bloom Handpaints.

Recently, we sent some stitching work to a talented local knitter and teacher, Sandy Harris.  (Side note about Sandy – she’s also a creator of the knitting game Last Knitter Standing.  If you haven’t tried it, you should – it’s a hoot.) When we got Sandy’s project back, we were delighted to also receive this – a new one-skein pattern in Bamboo Bloom Handpaints!  She had picked up a skein of the yarn and been inspired.  It’s not hard to see why – Steven Be’s custom colorways certainly fire the imagination.

one-side-cowl-wide-square-blogSandy has created a moebius cowl with judiciously spaced yarn overs for additional pizzazz.  This cowl-with-a-twist uses a moebius cast-on, which may be a new technique for some of you.  It certainly is for me!  With that in mind, our newest designer, Tori Gurbisz, volunteered her hands to show us how it’s done.  These photos cover Row 1 of the moebius cast-on in the pattern.

moebius-caston-1-blog moebius-caston-2-blog moebius-caston-3-blog moebius-caston-4-blog moebius-caston-5-blogmoebius-caston-6-blogmoebius-caston-7-blog

You’re going to wind up with a loop within a loop.  Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be kind of “tied” to itself like that.  This technique will put a half-twist in your finished cowl.

We hope you get the chance to try something new this weekend.  And if you’ve got questions, let us know – we love to help!

Happy knitting!

one-side-cowl-shoulders-square-blog

 

The Mighty Spit Splice

How’s everyone coming along with their Deluxe Cable Collection knitalong projects? As I’ve been knitting along on my own Wesley Heights project I have already worked my way through a few skeins of yarn.

View of my back piece in progress:

Back

I would like to share with you one of the best reasons for knitting with 100% wool, such as our Deluxe Worsted or Deluxe Chunky: the spit splice. Once I get into the right frame of mind, I don’t mind weaving in ends too much. But I don’t exactly enjoy it, either. The fewer, the better! By joining ends of wool yarn in the middle of a piece of knitting using the spit splice method, you don’t have to go back and weave these in later.

Here’s how to do it:

(shown in 2 colors for illustration purposes only)

SpitSplice1

 

Step 1: Split the plies from each end into 2. Deluxe Worsted is made up of 4 plies, so I’ve split it into sections with 2 plies each. Do this for about 1 1/2 – 2″ along each end.

SpitSplice2

 

Step 2: Cut or tear half of each strand about 1″ from the end. By reducing the bulk of each strand in half, it will make your join as smooth and seamless looking as possible.

SpitSplice3

 

Step 3: Place the strands together, fitting the 2-strand sections together.

SpitSplice4

 

Step 4: Spit! I have no qualms about spitting on my yarn. But if the thought of this grosses you out, just use a little water.  Get the strands moist, but not drenched. You just need enough moisture to help bind the fibers.

Pro tip: Don’t spit splice light colored yarn if you have been drinking red wine.

SpitSplice5

 

Step 5: Rub the strands between your palms to create friction. Do this rapidly for a few seconds up and down the joined section. Tug gently on the join to make sure it has adhered. If it hasn’t, rub the strands a bit more.

SpitSplice6

 

And that’s it! You’re ready to keep knitting on your piece with the knowledge that you have 2 fewer ends to weave in later.

What are you knitting from the Deluxe ebook? I’d love to hear about it over in our Ravelry group.