January 29, 2014

30 My $7.50 Knitted Tee - "Dollaramy Sally" from Rowan Mag 55

Let's talk about the yarn stash.  Everyone has one (and no I don't believe those people who say they don't).  My stash is made up of four different types of yarn: the splurges/urges ($$$), the oh-my-god-this-is-on-sale-I-must-buy-its ($$), the this-is-so-cheap-and-questionable-and-I-really-shouldn't-buy-it-but-I-wills ($) and the one-knitter's-trash-is-another-knitter's-treasures (free!).

Here's a story about my yarn from the Canadian dollar store chain, Dollarama.

They actually have a yarn brand, believe it or not.  And each ball is individually packed in plastic with vague fiber contents and absolutely no yardage.  Thank goodness I have this:

These are so awesome, I got mine at Knitpicks.

I was intrigued by the so-called "Promofil Cotton Blend", which felt like mostly cotton (as I ripped into the bags at the store) in squeakiness and weight.  In fact, this stuff is actually a tweed, with flecks of, let's call it... "unknown fiber".

I'm not afraid to say it: I love a dirt-cheap bargain.  I KNEW this wouldn't be the greatest yarn, not close, but just because it was cheap and had a lot of cotton, I started casing out stores all over Montréal to stockpile the magenta and mustard colors.  You see, they usually receive a box with a bag of all different colors, at most two of the same one in a bag.  So you have to be crafty.  I even found a cardboard box in a storage area of the store and ripped it open to find more, shhh.

As usual with stash, I didn't have any plans for the yarn until I saw the new Spring/Summer Rowan Mag 55, which is chock-filled with stripey cotton knits.

I started out by trying to make this cute peplum tee, Cove, but my tension was a bit off:

See Cove by Grace Melville on Ravelry

So, you know what I did?  I just flipped through the mag until I found a yarn that had the exact tension as my Dollarama yarn!  The winning match was Rowan Handknit Cotton, and I had three options.

Kaffe Fassett's free pattern Lithuania was too 80s and boxy:

Sarah Dallas's Boardwalk was cute but too cropped... and what's with all these huge sleeves, really?

Download Lithuania here

See Boardwalk on Ravelry

But Lisa Richardson's Sally looked like fun.

And it was... I highly recommend this pattern.  It's fast because of the worsted weight yarn, and very entertaining.  You knit sideways from sleeve to sleeve.

NOTE: When knitting side to side, remember it is the row tension that matters for once, NOT your stitch tension!

Knitting side to side usually results in a boxy shape, but the pattern is clever and includes short rows to shape the waist.

In retrospect, I should have created my very own unique barcode instead.

As usual, I made a few mods.  I didn't like the striped collar and hem, so I made it solid.  Those stripes had too much of an athletic feel with the colors I chose.

(Or maybe the "athletics" I'm referring to is Quidditch)

Then there were really too many stitches picked up at the hem, it was far too floppy.  So lazily, instead of picking up less, I decreased 24 stitches (by sk2psso to keep the 1x1 rib) evenly around after 6 rows of ribbing.  I like it, the decreases are almost like little cables.

After the photoshoot I realilzed I was annoyed with my sleeve "corners", and I kept trying to push them down.  Well, that's a big alarm bell for me, I hate repeatedly fixing anything I am wearing.

I took some elastic thread.

And wove it through the hem, making a knot and gathering it.

Exactly what I wanted!

This was a lighting-fast knit, and Dollarama petroleum yarn or not, I'll definitely get some use out of this $7.50 top.

But to offset the price, I pair it with my Veuve Cliquot earrings, made by my husband from two very special bottles of champagne (by the way, it is $72 per bottle in Quebec, and $42 in New Orleans!!  grrrrrr).

Photo from bonjour-sadness.blogspot.com

I have made a few other incredibly cheapo knits.

My $4 neon acrylic Cropped Vest (Mari Lynn Patrick, Vogue Knitting)

My $16 Dollarama Striped Tunic (Wenlan Chia, Vogue Knitting):

My $3 thrift shop unknown yarn Twist Front Top (Mari Lynn Patrick, Vogue Knitting):

But stay tuned for the splurge/urge ($$$) part of Mag 55, it's coming, too!  

Here are some sneak peaks:

Madonna by Marie Wallin

Wharf by Gemma Atkinson

See my Dollaramy Sally on Ravelry

January 21, 2014

31 Taking "Fine Art" Literally - Planned Pooling with Rowan Fine Art Aran

As you may know, I am a lucky lucky girl, and receive sample skeins of new yarns coming from Rowan.  I was head-over-heels for their new fingering weight sock yarn, Fine Art.

My Fine Art Tee is blogged here.

My Fine Art Hood is blogged here.

But then I got this in the mail, Fine Art's big brother: Fine Art Aran.

To be honest, I did not like it!  First, I really don't go for highly variegated yarns.  Second, the colors in the skein seemed to be such a mish mash, I didn't know how on earth they could ever knit up well.

That being said, they do look good together in this parrot!  :p

But I didn't want to look like a parrot.

In fact, most of the colors didn't match my sensibilities, but I know people do love highly-variegated yarns.

There are currently eight shades in this 50% wool, 25% alpaca, 20% mohair, 5% silk blend.  Note: fingering weight Fine Art has no alpaca, but 25% polyamide instead (ideal for socks).  Unfortunately, this change has turned what was a nice, soft yarn into a very scratchy yarn.  You will need to wear something under any garment you make!

Can you guess my colorway?

One of the reasons I'm not into variegated yarns is POOLING.  This is demonstrated well in some of the garments from the Fine Art Aran Mini-Collection... by the way, named after famous artists (See Theme):

See Van Gogh on Ravelry

It works better in this free pattern, Jupiter:

The yarn can go so crazy in some places, and less in others because the skeins are "space-dyed" with high-contrast colors. 

You can tell a space-dye when you have really stark changes of colors, usually hand-dyed on the skein, as in Fine Art Aran.

This is done to great effect in sock yarns from Opal, where one yarn creates intentional striping colorwork.  How about that, another Van Gogh!  There is a whole series of Opal Van Gogh socks, colored after his paintings.

How on earth do they manage to do that, you ask?  Planned Pooling!!  Basically, if you know the width of the item you are going to knit (and a sock is generally a predictable width), you can dye yarn so that it pools together to make a pattern.


Originally from knitpurlgirl.etsy.com

But how about working it backwards?  Can you take a space-dyed yarn and figure out the pattern it will make?  Hell, yeah.

Karla Steubing (a.k.a. Statnerd on Ravelry) is the queen of Planned Pooling on the internet.  Read her detailed article in Twist Collective, and check out some of her projects on Ravelry:

There is a calculator on the web for this, plannedpooling.com.


1. Open up your skein (or pull many lengths of your ball and loop it into a skein) to see the color order, starting anywhere.

I saw 12 colors, in a 6-color repeat:
Green - Orange - Green - Blue - Purple - Blue 

NOTE: Make sure to measure each wave of color, even if they repeat themselves, the hand-dyer may have made some of them different lengths!

2. Make a swatch (about 30 sts wide), and record how many stitches each color band takes.  It will be a bit different each time the color comes up, so take an average.  

This is where my note above came in handy... one "orange" was 7 stitches, but the other was 9!

3. Start knitting again for a few rows (maybe 50 sts this time) and double- check your stitch counts.  If you are falling short most of the time, decrease the number of sts in that color band.  It's much easier to loosen stitches than to tighten them, believe me.

4. Go to plannedpooling.com.  Add colors until you have enough, then go through the color wheel to pick the perfect colors.  End by filling in the number of stitches for each color.

5. Start a "virtual" knit.  Change the stitch count by one to see the magical changes!

6. IMPORTANT: I don't think a knitter wrote this program, honestly.  A knitter's chart starts at the bottom right and goes left.  Well... this chart reads like a book.  The fix this, turn it 180 degrees, clockwise.

7. Cast-on your determined stitch count and knit!  You can use the print-out as a chart (much like a colorwork chart), or you can just memorize the number of stitches you need for each color.

NOTE: It is important that you keep to the number.  If you come out with less stitches, pull the stitches very tight until you come close.  If you come out with more stitches, loosen them up to get to the right number.  I thank this blog post for this crucial advice!

8. If you eventually find yourself off by a stitch, that's ok.  I left out a stitch 1/3 through and didn't notice until much later, but the eye can't see the difference.  Don't do this too often though, you will notice eventually!

Now, one of the problems with a fun planned pooling project like this is that you're making squares/rectangles... and there are a limited number of projects that use this shape, right?

I thought about sewing it into a cowl, much like Life Lackadaisical's in-the-round "swatch cowls", which came out quite nice.  But seriously guys, this yarn is very scratchy.

I thought about a messenger bag.  Cool, but a lot more work and having to find contrast yarn...

Cocoknits Felted Messenger Bag pattern here

I thought about a pillow with a fabric backing, but it might shock you to know that my living room does not look like this.

And then I thought... if it's called Fine Art, let's make it literally into fine art!

I bought a $3 canvas at the "Dollar" store (is anyone else annoyed that nothing seems to be a dollar anymore?).

I gathered my tools.

I started nailing, making sure to weave the nail through the yarn strands so it caught.

It took A LOT of nails.  I gave up at some point, cuz really, it was okay, I wasn't going to sell it.

OR WAS I?!  :)

See my Fine Art, Literally on Ravelry

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