Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wool in the Wash!

  Things don't always turn out the way we want them to. I never expected to face so many challenges in such a short time, and it has thrown off my schedule and finances. (The car breaking down; that could be expected, but it was unplanned for...) I'm desperately in need of some new clothes, so I thought I could make a few lacy summer tops from the yarn in my stash to save a few bucks on the wardrobe budget. Most are coming out well, but I had one that didn't fit me as perfectly as I had hoped. Before the a/c in the house quit on me (note: I live in Florida and its SUMMER), I used Caron Cakes (20% wool) to make a warm but breathable top to keep me from shivering... In the air conditioning. Maybe I won't be wearing that top any time soon, but I did find a solution to fix the fit: High heat in the dryer.

Caron Cakes, wool, worsted weight, yarn, top, blouse, tank top, granny stitch, square, crochet, garments, drying, shrinkage

  Still looks great, right? I know, I'm surprised, too. Many of my acrylic yarns hold up well to washing and drying, but I don't usually use high heat to dry them. And no, this wasn't an accident like with the soap saver, I meant to put in in there in order to shrink it. I was using my dress-form for fitting, thinking that one size bigger would be okay for a top. But it wasn't okay with this material. (You'll see more about that in the upcoming GrannySpiration Challenge.)

Caron Cakes, wool, worsted weight, yarn, top, blouse, tank top, granny stitch, square, crochet, garments, drying, shrinkage

  Knowing that Caron Cakes would hold up to machine washing and drying, I decided to give it a try on high heat. I had previously thrown one of my hats in with a load (another accident) and it came out just a tiny bit smaller... Not enough to ruin the project, but it turned a roomy beanie into a well-fitting beanie. I was confident that the dryer could turn my somewhat loose blouse into the form-fitting top I wanted.

Caron Cakes, wool, worsted weight, yarn, top, blouse, tank top, granny stitch, square, crochet, garments, drying, shrinkage

  It suffered through the abuse and came out as I had hoped! It fits perfectly. As can always be expected, I had the end  of a tail pop out. It happens every time. Other than that, the top is still in one piece and no more fuzzy than when I had washed it by hand.

Caron Cakes, wool, worsted weight, yarn, top, blouse, tank top, granny stitch, square, crochet, garments, drying, shrinkage

  Extra-tall stitches were used for super-stretchy, airy lace. I did notice more fuzz around these areas, but as I said above: That was there after hand-washing. Perhaps the choice in materials was just the wrong way to go for this project. I've made two other tops similar to this; one in acrylic and the other in a cotton/bamboo blend. Both have better drape and are so much cooler (in slang meaning and temperature) than this version, and neither has fuzz around the taller stitches.

Caron Cakes, wool, worsted weight, yarn, top, blouse, tank top, granny stitch, square, crochet, garments, drying, shrinkage

  I guess I'm in an experimental mood. First, with trying to fix the color in my cotton yarn; now with making summer tops in wool blends... Maybe this heat is just frying my brain. What was I thinking? IT'S WOOL. Well, I was thinking of how I shiver in the air conditioning at the time, but now all we have is a portable unit that's doing its best to keep the house at a balmy 89°. No wool needed now! Experiment failed. Meh, you can't blame the yarn. It held up awesomely to washing and drying, and I even have a little left over after making my top a size too big. That part of this experiment was a win.

  So, I'm pretty sure that this pattern could be made up to a size large with just two balls of yarn. It follows more of a "format" than a pattern, which makes it easy to adjust how you want it to fit. With the other two tops I've worked up, I've found different areas and methods that can be changed to make it even better. And that means I have a lot of work to do! I'll be sharing the bare-bones how-to at the GrannySpiration Challenge. More will come soon after to help you mix and match techniques to create a perfect-fitting, easy-to-make top.


Happy Crocheting!

PS- There's more than just the granny stitch that makes this pattern suitable for the Challenge... There's a square in there! Can you find it? Hop on over to Crochet is the Way's Facebook page and you can see a sneak peek of the entire top.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Running Away Again

  A while back, I shared with you a problem I was having Peaches & Creme yarn. In the post Running Away, you can see what happened to the colors after the first wash. I've been working on some projects to use up the rest of the cone, and now I'm back with an update on some experiments. The photos aren't great because I'm working in my poorly-lit kitchen, but I'm excited to share the results.

Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Our unwashed test subjects are a couple of simple granny washcloths and a mitt made from a square. (Side note: There's still over half a cone left.) What we already know about this yarn is that it bleeds when exposed to cold water and mild detergent. The thing we're going to test for is to see if we can stop the colors from running by treating with a fixative.


  I have to admit that my knowledge of fabric dyes doesn't extend much farther than tie-dyeing tee shirts, so I had to go do a little research. At first, I was confused and thought that a "mordant" was the thing I was looking for... That's okay, because it led me to this article with a list of mordants and fixatives.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Somewhere along the way I read (in another post or in comments) that vinegar shouldn't be used for cotton yarn, so I went for the first thing on the list: Salt. The experiment starts with cool tap water, a non-reactive measuring cup, and some ordinary, iodine-free table salt. I also have iodized salt, but I thought it best to leave extra ingredients out of the mix.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  I didn't submerge the entire project right away because I wanted to see if there was a difference in the colors. In hindsight I realized that I have other pieces to compare it to... This step was unnecessary. I did notice some minor bleeding after a few minutes, so I went ahead and pushed the whole thing into the water.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Easily amused as I am, I sat watching the process for about 20 minutes. Is the color running, or does the white not look as white because of the water? Well either way, it's not running as bad as my first project did. Is that water blue? Yes, it is turning slightly bluish. Should I just take it out, then? No, sit and watch the bubbles float up from the pretty yarn; it gives you a tranquil feeling. Okay, but this is staring to get boring even for me. Fine, it's been half an hour, let's see what happens...


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Comparing the unwashed version with the project still soaking, there didn't appear to be much of a difference. I removed the washcloth from its bath and gave it a rinse with cold water. The water I poured out of the cup had a blue tint, but I never saw dye running from the project as I rinsed it.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Plain white paper towels are the tool I'm using to soak up extra water. I made a comparison while the first washcloth was still drying, and noticed the white wasn't so bright anymore. This could just be because it was still wet, or perhaps the dye ran after all. (We'll come back to this really soon.) I left it to dry overnight before starting the next test, but you get to fast forward to see what happens next...

Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Not really knowing if there's much of a difference, I decided to try sea salt for another project. This test was performed in almost the same way, except I went ahead and submerged the whole piece at once instead of leaving part of it out.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  And this time, I walked away to do some things instead of staring at a measuring cup like the crazy person I am. The mitt stayed in its bath for a little over thirty minutes, but not as much as an hour. I was getting ready to get it out, but first I needed to move the still-drying washcloth to make room...


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Hey, those are cute little sprinkles of blue on that paper towel, but that color is supposed to be in my yarn! I guess the table salt didn't do much good to lock in the dye... I mean, the white is still pretty white, and the yellow looks the same to me; but that blue! Oh, I really hope the next experiment works...


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  I pulled the mitt out of the sea salt mixture, gave it a squeeze with some paper towels, and immediately saw traces of blue left behind. The sea salt also failed to stop the colors from bleeding. And so, we move on to the last experiment...


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  I went against all dyeing logic for this, so let me explain my thought process: These are washcloths, made to be used with hot water. And when you're dyeing fabric, you usually do it in hot water. So since the dye won't stay in, I figured it couldn't hurt to treat it now in the way it will be used later. If it all runs out, then I'll have some pretty white washcloths, right?


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  So, it went into a nice hot bath with table salt and soaked for about 30 minutes. While it was resting in its tub, I set up a treated and an untreated washcloth for comparison. You know, I guess it's not that bad. The colors may have bled a bit, but the yarn still looks really nice. None of that "robin's egg" tie-dyed effect that happened with the first project - The white is still white.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  Soaking in the hot water/table salt mixture, the next washcloth didn't look like it was fading/bleeding/running at all. Could hot water be the answer here? We'll find out when we put in on some paper towels...


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  I should have kept another treated project in the picture for comparison, but failed to think of it. Regardless, the hot water treatment seemed to do the trick better than both experiments with cool water. The white looks white; the blue still seems bright. The yellow never changes.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  For the last time, let's take a peek under that washcloth to see what's on the paper towel... What? Little blue speckles? Yes, they are less noticeable than before, but the evidence is still there: None of my experiments succeeded in fixing the color to the yarn. But as I still have half a cone left, I suppose there will be room for more tests in the future. I've been doing more research and learned that you can use vinegar to set the dye in cotton yarn - As well as washing soda, baking soda, and cream of tartar; all things I have available in the kitchen, ready to experiment. I'm going to need them.


Peaches & Creme, yarn, cotton, washcloth, mitt, granny square, crochet, color fastness, color running

  To end, I'd like to share a final update on two projects: The new mitt I made was used, and the colors bled further. Although not as bad as the untreated soap-saver, the white turned blue as soon as it was exposed to soap and hot water. The blue isn't very blue anymore, and the yellow turns a bit greenish when mixed with it.

  As for the original project with Peaches & Creme, it suffered an unfortunate accident. (Wait, can we call it another experiment?) It was wadded up in a load of towels that got thrown in the washer on heavy wash, then dried on high high. The good news is: I was never happy with the requested size, and it shrank down to properly fit a bar of soap. The bad news: Among the staining of Rip van Winkle's concrete dust, you can barely see any color at all. The most noticeable shade now is the lovely rust stains left from my supposedly rust-proof shower hooks.

  Well, it's better to find out sooner than later. With the low cost of this yarn, I was hoping to make some gift sets to sell. Could you imagine the customer's disgust with the product when they make the mistake of machine-washing the item? And who wants to hand-wash, air-dry a washcloth, anyway? I will continue to make more for myself to use up the yarn, and use them for future experiments with more fixatives. Perhaps you'll already know the results if you see a new post titled "Running Further Away".

Happy Crocheting!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Pattern and a Bright Side

Wow - It seemed like some unseen force was trying to stop the progress of this pattern, but it's finally FINISHED! 

1-2-3 Beautiful Scarf, crochet, pattern, for sale, Ravelry, scarf, cowl, Caron Simply Soft, yarn


  I can't believe two whole months went by from the first post, Mess or Masterpiece. I asked for your opinions... Is it a neat design or a terrible idea? Most agreed that it wasn't the pattern; the color of the yarn was the problem. So, I finally decided on the right yarn, made it in a solid color, and was satisfied enough to start creating charts and directions... But then life kinda fell apart.


  The cover was blown on my super-secret project when my car broke down. The good sides to that situation: It forced me to get my truck back on the road, and it gave me an idea to help fight the algorithm change. Sorry that my rant to Ford made its way onto a crochet blog. I'm working on another(?) blog that will be the proper place for such things in the future.


  Frantically working to get the truck road-worthy made me realize that I've been missing a part of my life. It later registered that I am a very diverse person and the world is missing out on so many things I have to say because I limit myself to family-friendly, craft-oriented blogs... And yes, I said blogs, because I already have another. However, I will be deleting that "random craft" blog because it's horribly neglected. Perhaps when I complete a craft once a year, I can just share it here.


  As for the other parts of me: Some of those might involve four-letter-words and middle fingers because I swear the morons all come out whenever I drive. (Wait, maybe they're always out there...) But seriously, I need a place to scream "stop passing people on a double yellow line in a blind curve, you idiots!"; I crave a following where somebody might have heard my favorite metal bands/songs; I think I saw Bigfoot when I was a kid - That's an interesting story nobody really wants to hear (lol); there's a lot of good reasons to share why I won't work with electricity; sometimes I want to talk about the latest politics; will I find others who laugh at the whisper of "Chicken Permission"? It doesn't always have to involve profanity and insults, but I know there's so much that just doesn't belong here.

Chicken Permission, Rob Dyke, YouTube, mug, merch


  Crochet, yarn, and trips to the craft store are still very much a part of my disparate life! This blog is here to stay. So I'll ask of you: Please show me the same respect I've shown you by keeping the "family-unfriendly" out of this blog... If the material isn't for you, then you're welcome to come back to the land of yarn where it will now be free of my complaining about car parts. Or if you already know it won't be your cup of tea, don't go there at all. But, don't think you're getting away that easy! You'll still get rants about how the local Michaels never has buttons. I promise there just won't be any middle fingers or Meshuggah here.


  So with all that figured out, it was time to get to work on the pattern... Oh, but wait, then I got sick. Finished with the creation of the scarf but stumped for a name, I reached out for help again. My mind flip-flopped through the awesome ideas that readers were sharing. Something stuck out to me. The most common word used in the comments: Beautiful. Well, it made me decide on part of the title, but then what?


  Then, I skipped the Granny-Spiration Challenge when Dad was put in the ICU with pneumonia. Just when it looked like he would get to go home, the doctors came back with what sounded like scary news. Each day as I visited him, I worked on another scarf. (Eventually I made a cowl, too.) Besides the rainbow of colors filling my bag, there's another bright side here: After a minor surgery and a quick recovery, he seems to be doing better than ever. Pneumonia really might have saved his life, and Anderson is happy to have him home.

cats, white, Anderson, kitty


  I had a chance to peruse the comments again and consider a name for the scarf. It all came together with a suggestion about the stitch count... There's only three numbers in the whole pattern. One, two, and three; plus it's done in just one, two, three rows/rounds! With things slowly getting back to normal, I was able to put the finishing touches on the PDF for the pattern. The 1-2-3 Beautiful Scarf got a less elegant name than I expected, but I think it has enough character to speak for itself without a fancy title. Thank you so much to all of you who commented. Without you, this would still just be "Scarf #1"!

1-2-3 Beautiful Scarf, crochet, pattern, for sale, Ravelry, scarf, cowl, Caron Simply Soft, yarn


  Sometimes it takes awhile to shine through, and there's times you're not looking hard enough to see it yet. There is almost always a bright side to the stresses in life. I'm going to work more often on for-sale patterns until I can make more than pennies a day again... But I really like the idea of giving you all chances to get them for free, too. If you missed out on this one, there will be more in the future. It's the most I can do to say "thank you" to all my readers. When I wrote in a post that you can help support the bloggers you like just by turning off your ad-blocker, I saw what you did there; you listened. 😉 80% of you listened, and it helped a lot. Thank you.


Now, let's see if I can figure this out!


If you're interested in purchasing the pattern for the 1-2-3 Beautiful Scarf, you can find it on Ravelry -OR- If this works right, you should be able to buy it right here without being a Ravelry member! (No guarantees it's going to work; this is my first time doing this.) Click the "buy now" button:





Happy Crocheting!

1-2-3 Beautiful Scarf, crochet, pattern, for sale, Ravelry, scarf, cowl, Caron Simply Soft, yarn


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