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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Saga of the February Lady Sweater

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, then you know of my recent sweater tragedy.  I don't know why I did this, but I certainly learned a valuable lesson.  I knit a FLS out of a lovely yarn that a friend gifted to me.  The sweater only took 5 balls, so I destashed the 7 I had left over.  I never really wear the sweater because I didn't like the buttons and for some odd reason I thought that it was ill-fitting.  However, I recently acquired a beautiful set of buttons and decided to pull them out and put them on.  I stabbed my finger and made it bleed.  I fought to get them all off the card.  I got them all in place and they were beautiful!  Then I started to fold up the sweater and noticed a giant hole in the lace.  I was crushed!
My friend searched her stash to see if I'd given her a ball of the yarn but no luck.  Then I realized that I probably put them in the "make room for more" sale at the shop, so I called Naomi to see if she still had the bag of partial-balls and rewinds.  Nope.  We'd already sold it.

To make matters worse, I showed my husband the hole...and noticed the second, larger hole!  I was so disgusted that I tossed it into a corner put it on the dress-form and stuffed it into my closet until I could find the time to deal with it.  Meanwhile, I checked Ravelry, Ebay, Amazon, and put out calls for help in two groups on Ravelry, Facebook, and Twitter looking for the yarn to repair it.  No luck on any front.  The yarn is discontinued and I'm SOL.  That'll teach me not to keep a yard or two around for emergency repairs.

Now, if you haven't had a chance to tap into the genius of the employees at Bella Yarns... you're missing out.  After agonizing over this issue for days, I told the story to Ann who replies "so, you're gonna pull back the bind off on the bottom and take some of the yarn from there?...".  Genius!  Why the heck didn't I think of that!!  All this angst for noting.  So, once we got that straightened out , I decided to pull out the bind off on the sleeves and cannibalize the yarn from there (because I love the length of the sweater).

The first thing that I did was pull back the cast off on one of the sleeves.

Then, in order to be able to bind off the sleeve again (once I had my extra yarn), I had to tink (knit backwards, literally lol) another row so that I would still have some yarn left over.

With my free strand of yarn, I decided to try my usual trick for repair work: follow the yarn.  It's similar to duplicate stitching.  I just run my needle with the yarn attached along the path that the knitted yarn is following, and walah!  Repaired hole.

Now, I know that there are better ways to do repairs, specifically with lace, but for now I had to go with what I know.  The final result isn't perfect, but if you look at the before and afters you can see that it's wearable and it's hard to spot the repairs unless you look hard for them.
Look closely at the photos.  On the left are the repairs, and on the right I circled them so you can see them.  I had a particularly tough time finding the repair on the last set of photos, so that's a good sign that they'll go unnoticed. 

 So friends, let this be a lesson to you.  Always wind off a few extra yards so that you can repair your beloved sweaters later.  Or, always knit your sweaters from the top down so you can more easily pull back a row or two for repairs.  Or, always use commercially produced yarns that are readily available in the United States (and check Ravelry to see if others have used this color before or stashed it) so that you'll have a resource if you need more.  But I say, go for option one :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Takoma, here I come

I was innocently surfing Twitter today when I saw an announcement that Knitty's Deep Fall 2011 issue went live today...so I clicked the link to check it out.  That's when I saw this!  I swear I gasped and my hands went right to my face, and my heart rate increased.  Of course I clicked the photo and went to the pattern description, and started to plot about what colors I would use, and about how I already have multiple skeins of Eco Wool and Eco + in my stash...  Then I went to Ravelry and stalked it until the pattern was put into the database so I could que it.  I just saw it there a few minutes ago, so I qued it so fast that my fingers caught fire and the keyboard may have melted a bit.

I've been obsessed with Cowichan-inspired sweater patterns like this one I saw on Knit-Picks website, or like this one, or this one, or this one.  Yep, they are all in my que right now.  That would be the que that currently contains 10 pages worth of patterns x 30 patterns a page, that I'll never live long enough to knit through if I started today and did nothing but knit for the rest of my life.  That que.  So.... if I ever get done with school, and I finish my current knitting obligations, I might get this sweater finished before I die.  Or at least right after Alex gets his back-to-school sweater and Aaron get's his afghan.

Oh, how I love that sweater!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reclaimed yarn

Yesterday I faced facts, that a most beloved pair of socks was ruined beyond repair.  They were made for me by my buddy Rain of Honey & Ollie, in my first ever sock swap.  Somehow my socks got bagged up in a giant plastic bag and shoved into my closed, where a carpet beetle got ahold of them and two more pairs of my socks.  When I finally found them, they were chewed up in so many places that I just couldn't fix them.  One had to be tossed out, but the other wasn't quite as bad off so I saved it. 

Well, as you know I'm knitting the Beekeeper's Quilt and that uses sock yarn leftovers.  I realized that this was a perfect opportunity for me to reuse the yarn from these special socks, so that I could keep the with me as a special memento...sort of like quilters do when they take squares of fabric from christening gowns or wedding dresses, and add them to a quilt to pass down.  That being said, it was time to reclaim the yarn.

If you've never reclaimed yarn before, here's how it's done. 

  • if the yarn to be reclaimed is knit into a garment with multiple pieces, then you need to take that garment apart first.  Then, start from the bind-off edge, and pick back the yarn until you have a free thread...then pull that sucker out.  You'll want to wind into a ball, or on a niddy-noddy (or your arm), or even wind directly onto a ball winder as you pull the yarn out.  Once you've unwound the piece, you'll have something that looks a little like this.

  • As you can see, any yarn that's been knit into anything for any  length of time will look a lot like Romen Noodles when you rip it back.  It's not ready to be reknit yet, because the kinks will interfere with you ability to get a decent tension, and the finished piece will look like crap (to use the technical term, lol).  To fix this, you need to wash this baby (and it could probably use a good wash anyway...) in an approved wool wash.  I like Eucalan, and I literally have a gallon of it.  It cleans and conditions the fibers, and there's no need to rinse.
  •  Once the yarn is soaking in the water, you want to gently squish it to make sure that it gets completely saturated, as well as to encourage the dirt to float away from your yarn.  Then just walk away and leave it for about 20 minutes.   As you can see, the kinks start to drop out of the yarn right away.

  • Once the yarn is finished soaking, carefully remove it from the sink and squeeze out the excess water.  Try not to pull on it, because the fibers are fragile when they're wet and you don't want to cause the yarn to wear out earlier than it normally would, now would you?  I like to put the yarn into a towel, roll it up, and step on it to get the last of the excess water out.  Next, the yarn is ready to be hung out to dry.  This is what my yarn looked like after being left out to dry over night.  See how much more relaxed it is?

  • Finally, you're ready to wind the yarn into a ball and knit with it all over again!  I used a ballwinder, and made a center-pull ball. 

I'll be knitting hexapuffs with my skein, and adding them to my future afghan.  That way I can point to those little hexagons and say "this yarn was a pair of socks that my friend Rain knit for me, and I wore them all the time, and they were loved".  So go forth, and reclaim yarn from you much loved (or even not-so-much loved) projects, and use it again for something you'll be more likely to use and love!