Monday, 31 August 2009

Blocking my Raspberry Beret

Just popping in to share some pics of my latest beret and - more specifically - to mention the blocking technique that I used for this.

The beret and flower were made from one skein of Sublime Kid Mohair, using a free pattern by Susan Power called Baroness Beret (Ravelry link:

I will definitely use this pattern again. As for the yarn, I find it soft and light and almost barely there when wearing the hat. I'm totally in love with the colour. It's such a luscious shade of red... bright like raspberry coulis and a little pinker than pillarbox. The flower was not part of the pattern, but I think it works well, edged with a fine chain of kidsilk haze in black.

My ravelry page for this project is here:

Anyway, onto blocking techniques...

Having made a whole load of lace berets recently, I've got into the habit of blocking them over a dinner plate, which works very nicely for giving that proper beret shape, and really opens out the lace. However I think that this beret has the best blocking result of all - and I think that it is due to having taken an extra bit of care over the ribbing. I've posted a few explanatory pics below...
  • The first pic shows the beret before blocking.
  • The second pic shows the beret stretched over a dinner plate
  • The third pic shows something new - this time I basted the ribbing to pull it into shape over the plate. This made a difference and resulted in a snug, unstretched ribbing
  • The final pic shows how I like to leave the beret to dry overnight.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Angora + Lace = Pretty

Just a little update to share my latest FO... a lighter than air lace 'scarflette' made from a divinely soft angora/merino blend.

This is a planned christmas present and a fun knit using a pattern from 'Little Luxury Knits' by Louisa Harding. (The pattern is also available for free on Ravelry via the link below.)

The scarflette only uses one skein of DK yarn, including the flower and takes a fairly vigorous blocking to get the length required and to open up the lace. If you wanted a full length scarf, you could easily do it with two skeins. I amended the flower pattern slightly as I wanted more petals (and also crocheted round the edges with kidsilk haze).

For interest, here are my 'before and after' blocking pics...

More details and a link to the free pattern can be found on Ravelry here:

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Kool and the Gang... Part 2

In my last post I showed the results of my first Kool Aid experiments (using five skeins of superwash sock yarn). I promised to elaborate on a couple of things, so here we go...

Firstly, I want to show the before and after pics for the overdying that I did on the deeper red...

You may recall that this skein was initially dyed using 1 part Grape to 2 parts Cherry. The result was a pretty shade, but patchy coverage, with several undyed sections that did not look good.

So I overdyed it the following day using a madcap mixture of cherry, black cherry tropical punch and grape.

As it turns out, that was far more dye than I needed, and the skein did not soak it all up - but I did get a lovely rich red at the end of it - and all of the bare patches soaked up the red beautifully...

So moving on from sock yarn, I'd like to show what happened when I progressed to two beautiful 100g skeins of lace weight merino/silk (80% merino / 20% silk). Each skein has about 1200 yards - easily enough for a shawl, so I was looking for shawl-friendly colours.... or something less psychedelic than my sock yarns anyway.

When these raw skeins arrived through the post, I was so taken with the beautful, silky texture of their undyed state that I was tempted not to risk dyeing them at all. But then.... you only live once, right?

So having become comfortable with Knitty's recommended microwave technique, I decided to go straight ahead with the first batch of laceweight. So I mixed up one part each of Black Cherry and Tropical Punch - with a little Grape thrown in also and bunged it in the microwave for 2 mins.

When I took it back out, I started to feel a little nervous. It occurred to me that the water and glass bowl felt far hotter than the max wash temperature would be for this yarn. So to minimise damage, I took the yarn straight out of the water and left it in the sink to cool, then rinsed it and hung it up to dry. At this point I was already noticing that the texture of the yarn had changed... it no longer seemed silky - more like "felty" (argh!) and the strands were sticking together somewhat.

As it dried it started to look like this... still a little on the felty side for my liking.

After several days, it was fully dry and the colour was a sort of matte, pinkish red. I'm not sure how exactly to describe this colour - but it calls to mind the sort of dusky hue that you would find in a heritage range of wall paint, aimed at traditional dining rooms. It's really very pretty.

The really good news is that when I came to wind the ball, it was not felted after all - hoorah! It had simply changed texture slightly - effectively it had 'bloomed' and is still very soft.

For the second skein, I wanted a pale apple green, and managed to get exactly what I was after by using just one sachet of Lemon & Lime Kool Aid for the whole batch. This time I only gave the yarn one minute in the microwave, and I think it has retained more of the silky sheen than the other skein did. It has a slightly variegated finish, which is subtle enough to be very pleasing to me :-)

Right now it is being wound via my swift and trusty nostepinne.

So, finally.... I thought I would finish up with gratuitous yarn shots.

Friday, 7 August 2009

The kool aid's so bright I gotta wear shades

Gentle yarn fetishists, I have something to show you...

However, before we start, you may wish to turn down the colour settings on your computer. Lets just say that Subtlety, your name is not Kool Aid...

As you may have guessed, I have been hand dying yarn, using nothing other than Kool Aid (which I ordered off the interwebs), a glass bowl and a microwave. Instructions for this are available on

The resulting colours are, ahem, zingy. Ideal if you want to knit for Oompa Loompas and just can't get that psychedelic hit from your LYS.

So are you ready?

Ok... here we go...

I have to confess I did not keep a perfect track of what I used... but it was more or less as follows:

  • Skein 1 dyed using 1 part Lemon & Lime to 2 parts Berry Blue

  • Skein 2 dyed using 2 parts Lemon & Lime

  • Skein 3 dyed using 2 parts Orange

  • Skein 4 dyed using 3 parts Cherry

  • Skein 5 dyed twice (the first batch using 1 part Grape to 2 parts Cherry - then overdyed using a crazy mixture of cherry, black cherry tropical punch and grape)

Things I learned about Dying...

  1. The first skein I dyed was the Lemon & Lime and it took me several seconds to dip the second half of the skein into the dye ...this has resulted in a variegated finish - where half of the skein is a brighter green than the other half. So if you prefer a regular coverage, I think it is better to try and dip the whole skein in at once.

  2. After its first dying, I noticed that the deep red skein had a few irregular patches where the dye had not taken, and it did not look good. So I overdyed the skein, this time using loads of koolaid. The interesting bit its that it didn't really take up that much dye the second time around. I think there may be a limit to how much dye a single skein can realistically absorb. The already dyed parts went a slighty deeper red, while the irregular patches took up a full soaking of dye to blend in with the rest.

  3. All of the above skeins are superwash sock yarn, and the microwave method worked beautifully. So much so that I got a little carried away and progressed immediately to two skeins of lace weight Merino/silk. I am not sure these skeins reacted very well to the microwave (will blog the results of that later).

UPDATE... I have posted some follow-on ramblings about kool aid dyeing here: