Dying Recycled Cashmere

When we first moved down here, I bought several lots of wool recycled from old sweaters on eBay. We’d been living rather hand to mouth at that point so there wasn’t a lot of discretionary funds for ‘good’ yarn. I even ‘recycled’ a sweater or two myself. I haven’t touch the majority of that yarn, which is a shame because some of it really is nice. Such as this luscious cashmere frogged from a size XL Ralph Lauren sleeveless turtleneck (only in California!).

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The sweater was brand new and soooooooooooooo soft I almost cried. It was kind of expensive for a thrift store sweater but where else could you find 870 yards of worsted weight 100% cashmere for $15? And let me tell you, that bugger was a beyotch to frog! All those long fibers stuck to each other, making it a test of my patience but it was worth it.

Sadly, it’s been sitting in storage for a year and I still don’t have a clue what to make out of it. But one thing I do know is that I don’t care for the color. Oh, it’s nice and all, but just not me. Inspired by a Kool Aid dying group on Ravelry, I pulled it out last night and did some testing. Here are the results:

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I like the top row the best. The first Grape test was very short to achieve the almost lavender color, the second was to get a deep dark color. The next samples are Tropical Punch with Black Cherry right next to it. All of these are nice — I guess it’ll just depend on what I use the yarn for. Suggestions?

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I think I’ll take a little of the vintage mohair I bought on Ravelry (something like 40 skeins of the stuff) home for some testing as well. After Easter, I might just buy up some egg dye for further testing!

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Randy’s Stocking Cap Pattern

This is a variation on Schwartz’ Stocking Cap, changing the colors to match Randy’s cap (“How does the piggy go?”) and to make it larger for a grown-up’s head. If you want to make it for a kid, just cast on the number of sts for Schwartz’ cap (76 sts) and if you want to make Schwartz’ cap for an adult, CO 94 sts.

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Randy’s Stocking Cap
(adult sized)

Materials
1 skein each Lion Brand Wool-Ease Grey, Navy & Maroon (or any worsted yarn in those colors)
#7 40″ circular needles (or dpns if you don’t Magic Loop)
darning needle
pom pom maker or piece of cardboard

Gauge
18 sts x 24 rows = 4″ in stockinette

Note
Adding rows between decreases will make the hat longer. I decreased every 6 rows for the adult hat, 4 rows for the kid hat. The adult hat is VERY long, hitting a 6’4″ man at his rump. Change the number of rows in between decreases for longer or shorter hats.

I knit this in the round using the Magic Loop method. It could as easily be knit using dpns.

I also used the ‘jogless jog‘ when changing colors.

Pattern
CO 94 sts with Grey.
Work in 1×1 rib (K1, P1) for 3″ (20 rows).

*Switch to stockinette and K 10 rows.
Change to Blue. K 10 rows.
Change to Maroon. K 10 rows*

Color changes continue at these intervals for rest of hat.

Approximately 10″ into hat, depending on size of head being knit for, decrease every 6 rows. At beginning of decrease round, K2TOG, K to last 2 sts, SSK. Continue decreasing until 6 sts remain. Break yarn & weave through remaining sts.

Make pom pom with all three yarns (TIP: hold one strand of all three yarns together when winding the pom pom for them to mix randomly) and attach to tip of hat. Weave in loose ends and do Randy proud. And trust me, Daddy’s not gonna kill Ralphie.

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Schwartz’ Stocking Cap Pattern

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth — just got all wrapped up in my own stuff and couldn’t find the energy to post. Funny the ebbs and floods of blogging. Some months you’re all over it, others you can’t stand the thought of it.

So, to make up for being such a slacker, I’d like to present the most adorable and gracious model a knitwear designer (cough cough) could have: LIAM!

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Liam is the 5-year-old son of my knitting buddy Lori and does this kid know his knitting! He knows what a drop spindle is, how it works, what kind of yarn mom likes best and is just a bright little bulb. When asked what he thought of the cap, he said “It’s good.” Oh yeaaah!

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He kindly agreed to show off the Schwartz’ Stocking Cap I designed — yes, I designed something! — based on the cap the smart-mouthed Schwartz wore in the best Christmas movie ever: A Christmas Story.

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This particular hat is kid-sized and it fit Liam perfectly. I’m sure he’d be able to comfortably wear it for a few more years. Luckily he lives in Cali and there’s little need for such amazingly long caps here.

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As promised awhile ago, here’s the finished pattern for . . .

Schwartz’ Stocking Cap
(kid sized)
[Randy’s Stocking Cap is the adult sized version]

Materials
1 skein each Lion Brand Wool-Ease Brown, White, Red & Gold (or any worsted yarn in those colors)
#7 40″ circular needles (or dpns if you don’t Magic Loop)
darning needle
pom pom maker or piece of cardboard

Gauge
18 sts x 24 rows = 4″ in stockinette

Note
I knit this in the round using the Magic Loop method. It could as easily be knit using dpns.

I also used the ‘jogless jog‘ when changing colors.

Pattern
CO 76 sts with Brown.
Work in 1×1 rib (K1, P1) for 2″ (15 rows).

*Change to White. K 6 rows in stockinette (rest of hat is stockinette).
Change to Red. K 9 rows.
Change to Gold. K 17 rows.
Change to Red. K 9 rows.
Change to White. K 6 rows. (Edited to add this missing band of color)
Change to Brown. K 4 rows.*

Color changes continue at these intervals for rest of hat.

Approximately 10-12″ into hat, depending on size of head being knit for, decrease every 4 rows. At beginning of decrease round, K2TOG, K to last 2 sts, SSK. Continue decreasing until 6 sts remain. Break yarn & weave through remaining sts.

Make pom pom with Brown & Gold yarn and attach to tip of hat. Weave in loose ends and do Schwartz proud. I triple dog dare you!

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Knitting for Love

Every Christmas Eve we have a gift exchange game as a preview for the Big Day. $5 limit (give or take) and no ‘white elephant’ crap. Just fun little items anyone could potentially like. I gave a skein of Malabrigo with a note promising any item the winner wanted made from the skein. My sister and Mom fought over it with Mom coming out on top and she picked comfy cozy house socks from One Skein Wonders.

The Parental Units left before I finished the socks and I dorkily forgot to snap a shot before sending them off. I bugged Mom till she sent this.

Mom's socks

Do you see how lovely and shapely her feet and ankles are? Suppose I got her skinny gams? Nope, I’m my dad through and through. Cankles, I tells ya! (BTW, that black splotch was a defect in the yarn.)

Digression: Interested in something different for charity knitting? Check out http://www.myspace.com/warmandfuzzysf which was started by a high school student who wanted to help the homeless. My friend knits with this mature and impressive gal in the City and hopes everyone will be willing to contribute. So cool! My main concerns in high school were with how I was gonna buy that pair of Guess Jeans on my allowance and who was gonna ask me to prom.

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The Scut Farkus Affair

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While watching TBS’s 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story, it hit me that this film had some of the most incredible handknits I’d seen on screen. Or at least the most. Scene after scene featured handknit items. “Holy cannoli!” I thought. “I wonder if there’s a Christmas Story group on Ravelry.” There wasn’t so I created The Scut Farkus Affair group so lovers of the best Christmas movie ever made could share patterns and laughs.

I had a hard time deciding on a name. At first I thought “I Can’t Put My Arms Down” would be hysterical, plus it had a subtle knitting connotation. “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” would have said it all but neither had that ring. Scut Farkus is far and away the best villain name ever thought up by the mind of man (or Jean Shepherd) so that was it.

If you’re on Ravelry and love (or even like) A Christmas Story, check out the group. Should be fun!

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Christmas Crap

We’re housesitting for a lovely lady for a few weeks, looking after her house, cat and ‘special needs’ dog. She has a huge place with tons of room so we were finally able to host Christmas. Usually, we sponge off everyone else – eating their food, using their hot water, dirtying their linens, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated how stressful having eight people plus three animals in a house really is. A big and belated thanks to EVERYONE who’s ever hosted us as guests. It was undoubtedly as exhausting for them as it was for us this year. We truly loved having everyone but we also loved having them leave!

Christmas was great and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy their handknits. Dad and Bro promised to use the hell out of their Dashings, Jane was enthralled by her trivet (she’s a knitter, too, though not obsessed) and Mom was enchanted by the lusciousness of her Tudora and Fetchings. Don’t know if anyone will actually wear them, but that’s not the point, is it?

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Here’s hoping all ya’ll had a great holiday season with your families and that they all loved their handknits too!

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Screamin’

I am screamin’ along with all the knitting projects. I’m like the Bionic Woman — remember when she’d turn the chalkboard around and fill it in 3 seconds with scribbling? That’s me and my knitting. I made Dad’s second Dashing in one evening and even made progress on FSM.

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Knitty’s Dashing
Paton’s Classic Merino Wool in New Denim

Last night, I cast on for Bro’s Dashings around 7 pm and was through the third cable by 10:30. I did take it easy last night — if I’d been ‘on’, I probably could have nearly finished it.

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Knitty’s Dashing
Knit Picks WotA in Forest Heather

This morning I finished His Noodly Appendages. I will felt them separately from the meatballs and then sew them together to create His Holiness. Note the two short antennae at the top. I’ll glue googly eyes after felting. Yea!

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Flying Spaghetti Monster Ornament
Cascade 220 & Paton’s Classic Merino

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Oooh La La

We’re moving into deadline again, which can mean late nights and little knitting time. But, man, have I got a ton left to do! I’ve prioritized, so the “must haves” will be done by the big day, but there are a few other things I’d really love to do and FSM only knows if I’ll have the time. I refuse to worry too much about it!

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First on the block was Dad’s Dashings. My goal last night was to complete the first one, which I did. After I sped through that — shortening the hand and knuckle portions to fit what I believe to be his hand measurements (Dad has shorter but thick hands so I knit the large and shortened the length) — I picked up my new favorite pattern: the felted Flying Spaghetti Monster felted ornament, designed by Shelley Hattan.

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I want to make three — two gifts and one for me — and finished up three sets of meatballs last night. Also got a good start on the first set of noodly appendages. Easy, fast and totally awesome! And a nice break from the Dashings, I have to say.

Tonight I’ll start Dad’s #2 Dashing, finish up noodly appendage #1 and hopefully don’t develop carpel tunnel in the process.

Wanna hear a funny story? Back in 1986, my folks took me out of my junior year of school and we sailed their freshly built sailboat down the Baja coast and up to La Paz. We made it there just in time for spring break and the infamous Sea of Cortez Race Week (originally sponsored by my current employer). My best friend flew down for the week and we had the BEST time. We went sailing on an old schooner, bronzed our 17-year-old bodies on the beach and discoed at the now-defunct Gran Baja hotel.

Part of my job is to set up our monthly calendar. I occasionally contact clubs and organizations to firm up dates, especially at the end of the year. A couple days ago, I emailed the commodore of one such club and read the following in the response: “On a completely unrelated note, back in 1986, the year of the shuttle launch disaster, I met a young girl in La Paz with your name who was on her parents boat of the same name. It was at a party for the race week. That wouldn’t have been you, would it?”

That got my attention, to be sure. We met tons of people down there, so how did I know this guy? I asked. Here’s his response: “Regarding La Paz, I was a callow youth who showed up at that party with a sailor friend who introduced me to the joys of sailing. It was my last night in Mexico after spending three months there. You were hanging around with some girlfriends and we started talking. What I remember most is that kiss you gave me as your dad was rowing ashore to come and collect you. That’s just the sort of behavior I’m going to be discouraging with my daughter. :-)”

Well, if that doesn’t bring one’s memory back in a hurry! He was the dude I met at the Gran Baja disco who looked just like a young, thin, curly-haired George Michael who gave me my first french kiss! I actually referred to him as ‘George’ from then on, though we never had any contact after. If you’d asked me yesterday what his name was, I couldn’t have told you. Today . . . well, I’d like to say I’m proud I could tell you but . . .

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Sick, Sick, Sick

I left work early Thursday and never went back because I finally caught Hubbo’s cold. I was down all weekend, which is bad for keeping the boat clean or getting work done but is great for Christmas knitting. It was fairly flying off my needles! Mom’s Fetchings are done (though I dope-ily forgot to snap a shot), as are a pair for my Seester. For both pair, I made increased the length by adding another cable set or two. I also CO purlwise as I don’t care for the curly picot edging.

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Mom’s were in Laines du Nord Cashsilk while Nan’s were done in Araucania Nature Wool to match the hat/scarf set I made her last Christmas. Man, those two yarns are a world apart. The Cashsilk is luscious while the Araucania is . . . um . . . sturdy. Honestly, it was like knitting sandpaper after the Cashsilk! I was worried they’d be too rough for mitts but they softened up significantly after blocking (I fully soaked ’em). Here’s what they look like next to each other for comparison.

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Next up was Quant from the December Knitty. (BTW, did they misspell that? Is it supposed to be “Quaint”? If not, what the heck is a “quant”?) After a few missteps that required frequent frogging, I got the hang of entrelac and sped right through it in a day. When the pattern said to pick up and knit a diamond’s edge sts, I kept skipping the bit about replacing the last st on the left needle and decreasing (ssk or p2tog). Grrr. But though it doesn’t have the nice color blocks other self striping yarn has, I still think she’ll love it. (And, Nan, if you happen to be reading this, which is highly unlikely, shame on you for peeking!)

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Last on the Christmas Knitting Chopping Block is Knitty’s Dashing for my BIL. I used the Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Green Olive that my SP sent me, which is a gorgeous color (very manly), super soft (but not too soft, if you catch my meaning), and is very warm (necessary for Colorado). I’m 2/3 of the way through the second mitt and I love them! I actually enjoy knitting this more than Fetching. All those measly little cables get annoying but there’s only six in Dashing. Unfortunately, I found out today that I didn’t read the pattern carefully enough — I was supposed to switch up the cables for the left mitt. Doh! I’m planning on a pair for my Bro and Dad too, so I can do it on theirs but I just can’t bring myself to frog nearly an entire mitt.

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Though it wasn’t technically knitting, I also put my SIL’s swirled placemat through the wash for the first time. In a laundromat’s front loader, as a matter of fact. Good progress in spite of it!

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Note that, even though I used Paton’s Classic Merino for all the colors, they’re still felting up at different rates.

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The green is by far the most felted, while the tan, surprisingly, is a close second. The rust is felted about half as much as the green. Go figure. Guess I shudda swatched!

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Fetching

Man oh man, are these puppies fast to knit! I’d read they’re a quick knit but, c’mon. I cast on yesterday on a short 30 minute drive to Half Moon Bay yesterday afternoon. I then interviewed the most amazing man who sailed nearly non-stop from Half Moon Bay (just south of San Francisco) to the Arctic Circle — we’re talking ABOVE Siberia, people — and back this summer. And it wasn’t his first time. If you’re intrigued, check out the January edition of Latitude 38, due out December 28.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

We have a friend down that way who invited us over for dinner, so while we were all visiting, I just plugged away at Fetching. I finished the first mitt (minus the thumb) about an hour after dinner. It took me a whole 15 minutes to work the thumb and weave in the ends this morning. That’s how fast this is! I think all the ladies in the family will be getting Fetching for Xmas and the boys will get Dashing. Woo hoo!

 

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Pattern: Fetching from Knitty
Yarn: Laines Du Nord Cashsilk in Color 12 (muted red)
Needles: Size 5 32″ circs (worked in Magic Loop)
Time: About 3 hours for the first mitt

Note: Less than 2 yards left from 67 yard ball

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