I Almost Gave In

Awhile back I posted about the Beekeeper Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits being the blanket everyone is making. The pattern still seems to be oddly popular. Back then, I was very dubious about the pattern. It seemed like it would take an eternity to make. The result would be very heavy. I don’t knit socks and don’t have scraps laying around. However, I saw the kit over at Knitcrate and decided to give it a try. My Koigu mini-skeins, needles, pattern, and fiberfill arrived, and I was ready to try it out. For the first two puffs, I had really decided to knit this monster. Even though I knew that it would take around 600 puffs to make a decent sized blanket. However, I sat there looking at the little pile of mini-skeins and realized that I had not overcome my desire for things to match.

Now, I am the daughter of a quilter. In fact, my mom opened her own quilt shop when I was 10. Although I do not quilt myself (I’ve dabbled once or twice with no real prolificacy), I have gathered up bits and pieces of quilting knowledge through osmosis. Mostly because I used to spend my afternoons when school let out at my mom’s store, waiting to go home at closing time. When I started considering how I could turn the Beekeeper’s Quilt into something I would actually like, I decided to look to the quilting world for inspiration.

There is a vintage quilt pattern known as Grandmother’s Flower Garden. It is small hexagons (1 or 2 inches) pieced to look like flowers with little white “paths” between them, or green “vines”. I decided this could be the perfect motif for the Beekeeper Quilt. All I would have to do is get skeins of sock yarn in colors I liked and arranged the final product like the quilt pattern.

I wanted to do the colors in something I wouldn’t normally pick. Since the quilt pattern is from the 1930’s, those colors seemed perfect. I went on Eat.Sleep.Knit and started hunting. I ended up with three skeins which, while they aren’t totally the 30’s style, will work.

From left to right I got Manos del Uruguay Fino in Crystal Goblet, Dream Smooshy in Rosalita, and Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Straw. I bought all of these based purely on color and cost so it was a gamble, but I am incredibly pleased with all of the yarns. Also, once they arrived, I realized that I hadn’t ended up with such random colors. In fact, they match the new colors in my living room. You can see the yellow throw pillow in the back there.

photo 1I started talking to my mom about my idea and it started to change. I originally called to ask if she had a pattern at her shop that would show how to lay out the flower colors. I began to describe the Beekeeper Quilt to her and she started poking holes in my plan. Firstly, why do they need to be puffs? We live in Texas where its warm so you don’t need a lined blanket. If they were just knit flat, it would use half the yarn, take half the time, and be lighter. Plus, the hexipuffs are connected by tying the corners with scrap yarn. That makes the back ugly because of all the strings hanging down. After my discussion with her, I had totally changed my idea.

Instead, I found the Six’es pattern on Ravelry. It is still hexagons, still done with sock yarn, but it is a single layer that is more neatly seamed together.

I guess I am still bucking the trend. Also, I’m excited about my quilt/knit hybrid, it brings together my mom’s world and mine.

 

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The Blanket Everyone’s Making

I’ve been hearing about it. You’ve probably been hearing about it. Maybe you or someone you know is even making it. Everyone seems to be buzzing about the Beekeeper Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a blanket comprised of little “hexipuffs”. I think that the general idea is to use leftover sock yarn. Each puff only takes a little fingering weight so, if you’re a big sock knitter, I could see how this would be a nice, ongoing project for you. Every time you finish a pair of socks and have some scraps leftover, you whip up a hexipuff and, eventually, you’ll have a blanket.

I’m oddly drawn to this pattern (as are many others, considering the 5674 projects on Ravelry), however, I am not a sock knitter. There are no little scraps of sock yarn laying around my home to use up (Problem 1). Also, even if there were, I am not a fan of this controlled chaos where every little puff is a different color. I really like things to match. I mean really. My entire bedroom is done in purples*. It’s not even like I have a few coordinating shades and one is purple. No, it’s all purple. But I digress…

So that would mean, if I were to make it, I would need to buy a load of sock yarn to start making puffs. Which takes away the handiness of it being made as a method for utilizing scrap yarn. I saw that some online shops offer bags of mini-skeins that you could use for it, like this one at Eat.Sleep.Knit. Although then we’re back to the situation of colors not matching (problem 2).

I have also seen a kit for it at Jimmy Bean’s Wool that does come in coordinating colors. That’s more my thing. However, there’s also the concern with my ability to stick with a project for the extended period of time it would take to knit the nine million (give or take) puffs that comprise the blanket (problem 3). I can have a really short attention span for projects. The only thing about the Beekeeper Quilt that might help with that is that maybe each completed hexipuff would give me a sense of instant gratification.

Now, once you have the puffs all knit up, and your home is practically overflowing with little fiber-filled, yarn nuggets, you have to sew them together (problem 4). Oh goodness, how I hate sewing projects together. First of all, I have no finesse for this. I mean really, my seams look a little like you let a child hack away at them with some yarn. Sewing each little puff together sounds maddening.

I finished a knit throw blanket in December and, let me tell you, it’s a little on the heavy side. Wool isn’t the lightest material once it’s all looped together. Throw in the fiberfill, and this Beekeeper Quilt sounds like a hefty blanket. That doesn’t seem like something I would use around my home (problem 5). I’m always warm so I like light blankets. Has anyone made it and found it to be a heavyweight?

Each puff is made by knitting in the round (problem 6). I am really not a fan of double pointed needles. They make me feel awkward and bumbling.

Even with all those issues, I am still weirdly intrigued by this blanket.

 

 

*Every time I think about my all-purple room it reminds me of the children’s movie Wee-Sing in Sillyville. The little town has divided according to what color everyone wears. So there is a gypsy like woman who wears all purple and has a purple house. Her name is Pasha and I am becoming her. I wanted to find a picture of her, but the best I could do is this video.

 

More Snowballing

I really need to stop. I seriously have a problem.

Yarn.

If you saw my last post, you’ll notice that I was seriously considering buying some yarn for a basket weave baby blanket. Which led me to looking at yarn online. I came across another blog that had an icon about a Yarnathon. That lead me to Eat Sleep Knit (an adorable shop design, by the way).

So that got me thinking… I could pick out baby blanket yarn there and, as a plus, I would enter the Yarnathon.

So I started looking for a worsted weight, sturdy wearing yarn that would be perfect for a baby blanket. Something that you can throw in the wash as needed and not have to worry too much about.

I decided on Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted. Now, I originally wanted something yellow so I considered the color Magnificent Mile. However, once I got looking at the colors, I really loved the color Growth. Now, if I knit this in green, it will look exactly like the blanket my mother already knit for my future/someday/maybe baby. But I really want to!

Then I saw the color Poppy. Now, I don’t want to do the blanket in Poppy, but it was such a gorgeous, spring color that is not what I would normally pick out for myself that it made me want to knit a sweater for myself. Which I have never done.

So then I had to find an awesome sweater pattern. I came across the Neck Down Wrap Cardigan which is Yarn Harlot approved.

So how could I resist adding 6 skeins of Poppy and 6 of Growth to my cart?

Now, I haven’t hit purchase yet (mainly because I’m writing this from work and my credit card is out of reach) but I really want to.

Have you ever read the book If You Give A Mouse a Cookie? I’m basically like that all the time. If you give me a pattern, I’m going to want some yarn. If you give me some yarn, I’m going to want some needles…

Dessert Yarn: Part 2 – The Process

After my last Dessert Yarn post, I learned that Kool-Aid is actually better than Jell-O for dyeing with because it comes in small, sugar-free packets in a variety of bright shades. I realize now that Kool-Aid may have been what I originally heard of this process being done with, and I just got mixed up.

Researching the process got me all excited and I was determined to start my yarn dyeing project almost immediately. So I decided to rush around after work and make all the preparations. This included going to Madtosh in Fort Worth to look for undyed yarn because I know they have a section of it there. (I’ll leave out my grousing over the terrible traffic en route and my own terrible navigating). They didn’t have the weight I wanted at easy reach and I was trying to hurry to get out the door before they closed. I did get some Cascade 128 (which is a chunky yarn) to try out.

Cascade 128 Yarn

Cascade 128 Yarn

My next stop was to Jennings Street Yarn (just down the road for Madtosh) to get a replacement for my broken Dreamz needle and to pick up my new Nova set (YAY!). I decided to check out what they had as far as dyeable yarn and picked up a skein of worsted weight.

Cestari Traditional Collection. 100% Wool

Cestari Traditional Collection.
100% Wool

Then I trekked back to Arlington to hit the grocery store for dinner supplies and, of course, a trillion Kool-Aid packets. I wanted to do rainbow shades so I found myself in the Wal-Mart isle having to ask myself “what Kool-Aid flavor is indigo?”.

So much Kool-Aid

So much Kool-Aid

I won’t post a full tutorial of how to dye with Kool-Aid here because there are already some fantastic posts out there about it. I used the following two for reference.

Dyeing with Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn

I mixed each color into a disposable bowl and put roughly a seventh of the Cestari yarn into each bowl, then nuked them in the microwave.

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Bowls of Kool-Aid Dye.
Cherry Red, Peach Mango Orange, Lemonade Yellow, Lemon-Lime Green, Mixed Berry Blue, Mixed Berry/Grape Indigo, Grape Violet

I got pretty good at sectioning off an ounce and a half (the yarn is wet, so this isn’t really accurate) on the food scale and winding it into a mini-skein during the two minutes that the previous bowl was heating.

Makeshift swift

Makeshift swift

Yarn or spaghetti?

Yarn or spaghetti?

Then the yarn was rinsed and set out to dry .

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Drying Yarn

For now, here’s a list of random things about my dyeing process:

  • Did I dye my hands? Almost immediately 
  • Was there cat hair in the dye? Of course
  • I was the most happy with the Cherry yarn and how the color came out so rich
  • I was least happy with the grape and indigo. Both are a little dingy and the indigo didn’t pick up the blue and purple evenly.
  • The tutorial said that the water would turn clear as the yarn soaked up the dye and I didn’t believe it… but it really does!
  • O’Malley was really fascinated by my temporary chair swift and watching the yarn unwind.
  • The funniest part of the evening is when Cullen attempted to leap onto the table as it was covered in bowls of dye and I panicked and tried to block him.
  • He managed to land gracefully in an empty spot… but then knocked one over just walking past it.
  • While the yarn set, I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and wrote the post. 🙂

Additionally, I decided to dye the Cascade using a dip dye method.

Testing colors

Testing colors

This was far more complicated than the other process. It didn’t come out exactly how I wanted but I think it’s pretty. I had to dip a portion of the hank into a Pyrex pan of one dye color, nuke, rinse, then start over with another color. Finally, I dunked both hanks into a “wash” of Cherry Red.

Overall, the affect was nice, except I totally tangled the two hanks of Cascade.

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Left to right:
Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Kiwi, Watermelon, Strawberry, Cherry, Black Cherry