Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Can I pretend I'm not home?

I thought for sure I could get through this entire week without yarn showing up at my door and demanding attention. I love yarn and all, but I'm elbow deep in a design project right now and had hoped to have it finished before the new base yarn arrived.

UPS tried to deliver a package yesterday with 20 pounds of cotton warp and 5 pounds of felting and spinning wool. They weren't able to deliver it, so they dropped it off at the complex office. Dang it. This means 2 things.

First, I have to carry it up 3 flights of stairs. I remember when 25 pounds of yarn sounded like an enormous order. Actually, it still sounds enormous but only in that I have to carry it up the stairs to my apartment. Everything sounds more enormous when you have to carry it up 3 flights. Maybe one day I will have dedicated ground floor studio.  [Insert Digression Here]

Second, now I have all this internal pressure to clean my kitchen and get the yarn dyed up pronto. Let's face it. The only reason I ever clean my kitchen is to dye yarn. If I had any internal pressure to do the dishes for the dishes sake, then I wouldn't be writing this paragraph about cleaning my kitchen, would I? It would already be clean and I would be halfway through the dye process and too busy to blog. Ahem.

Digression: Recently, I did look in to getting studio space at a local nearly-defunct mall. Unfortunately the price for rent had tripled between the time I looked at it and the time I was ready to commit to an actual studio. I met a co-op of artists who had studio space and had considered joining them to rent out display space only. While it was a good deal (practically nothing a month with no long-term commitment), the general impression among most of the mall artists I talked to was that the mall management was less than supportive of the entire project. I still considered it, but had this nagging feeling that I should wait a week or two before committing. So I did and, lo and behold, a sign from the universe appeared. I took it as a sign that I should hold off on studio and/or display space when I heard an uncomfirmed rumor that the mall roof caught fire and management failed to evacuate despite corridors full of smoke. Fire can happen anywhere, but I know a sign when I see it. I was on the fence anyway about renting space. A slow season, fire rumors, and jacked up rent pretty much tipped the scale.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I've been yarn bombed!

I was up at 5am this morning for no particular reason. I was looking at my Ravlery friends page and saw this project called "Balcony Gates". For the non-Ravelers, here are the pictures that were posted.

Balcony Gates pics from Ravelry's Knitarchy

"How clever! How charming! How just my kind of thing!," I thought to myself. Then I thought "Hey wait! Is that my balcony?" and indeed, it was. Sneaky sneaky vandals these are. I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 5 and it is hard to sneak up to my balcony without being heard. I love it, yarn bombers, whoever you are!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Alexio's Scarf

Alexio’s Scarf

Design by Scott Kluesner

© Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008; © Scott Kluesner, 2006. All rights reserved. 


*100-150g of desired weight in a wool. Any weight from DK through aran weight is recommended.
Yarn used: 1 skein of Dyeabolical Yarns Super Ego in Firefly colorway, 100% superwash wool in a DK weight to make a short scarf

* US 7 or 8, if using an aran, US, 5 or 6 if using worsted weight, US 3 or 4 if you are using DK, etc. Use at least 1-2 needle sizes smaller than you would normally use with the yarn you have chosen. Go down 2-3 needle sizes if using superwash wool since superwash likes to grow once washed.


* Gauge for this project is flexible. Your primary concern is to make your stitches tight enough that they easily pull into a wave pattern, but not so tight as to make it difficult to knit. In general, smaller needles make wavier waves.
* Gauge for the scarf pictured is 5 sts/inch in pattern when held flat and stretched.


K= Knit

P= Purl

Kfb = Knit in both front and back loops

Pfb = Purl in both front and back loops

Kfl = Knit in front loop

Pfl = Purl in front loop

Kbl = Knit in back loop

Pbl = Purl in back loop


Cast on 36 stitches [To make a wider scarf, add multiples of twelve to this cast on number.]

Row 1(RS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3. Mark this as the right side.

Rows 2, 4 and 6 (WS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3.

Row 3, 5 (RS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Row 7 (RS): K2tog three times, (P6, K6) to the last 6 stitches, P3, Pfb in the next stitch, (Pfl, Kbl) of following stitch, Kfb of last stitch

Row 8 (WS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Rows 9, 11 (RS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Rows 10, 12 (WS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Row 13 (RS): P2tog three times, (K6, P6) to the last 6 stitches, K3, Kfb in the next stitch, (Kfl, Pbl) of the following stitch, Pfb of the last stitch

Rows 14, 16, 18 (WS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Rows 15, 17 (RS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Row 19 (RS): P2tog three times, (K6, P6) to the last 6 stitches, K3, Kfb in the next stitch, (Kfl, Pbl) of following stitch, Pfb of last stitch

Rows 20, 22, 24 (WS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Rows 21, 23 (RS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Row 25 (WS): K2tog three times, (P6, K6) to the last 6 stitches, P3, Pfb in the next stitch, (Pfl, Kbl) of following stitch, Kfb of last stitch

Repeat Rows 2-25 until desired length is reached.

Use a stretchy bind off to finish. Weave in ends.

5-hour Hat and Gaiter

 UPDATED 02/26/16

 Hello! Thank you for visiting the Rachel Knits/Dyeabolical blog. Please use the links in the sidebar to subscribe to have new blog posts delivered to your inbox, or to subscribe to the Dyeabolical newsletter. New Dyeabolical yarns, soaps, perfumes, and spinning fibers can be found at

[The yarn used for this pattern has since been discontinued. Please substitute Dyeabolical Super Bulky yarn, available at the link above.]

This hat and gaiter pattern is a quick and warm knit perfect for beginners or for those (like me) who need a quick and fast project. Knitting took 5 hours total. The hat is made for a 22-23" head. I can pull it firmly down over my ears and it fits great. If you don't want to smoosh your hair, you may want to increase the total length before decreasing.


Yarn: Both the hat and gaiter can be made from one 8-oz. skein of Dyeabolical Unspun 2-ply roving/yarn with plenty left over for a longer crown, longer gaiter, a giant pom-pom, ear flaps, ties, wristwarmers or just to keep on your desk to reach over and smoosh every so often. [Note: Unspun has been discontinued. Please substitute 8oz of super bulky yarn, or about 2.5 skeins of Dyeabolical Super Bulky]

Gauge: 9 stitches = 4", post steam blocking

Needle size: I used US 11 double points. I am a notoriously loose knitter. You may find it easier to get gauge on US 13.


Using knitted cast on, cast on 40 stitches on a size 11 dpn

Row 1, 3, 5, 7: Knit
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8: Purl
Rows 9: [k2tog, k8] around--36 stitches remain
Row 10-26: Knit
Row 27: [k2tog, k2] around--27 stitches remain
Row 28: knit
Row 29: [k2tog, k1] around--18 stitches remain
Row 30: Knit
Row 31: [k2tog] around--9 stitches remain
Row 32: k2tog around to last stitch, knit last stitch

Break yarn, weave through remaining stitches and pull tight. Weave in ends. Steam block to finish.


C/O 44 stiches on size 11
Row 1, 3, 5: Knit
Row 2, 4, 6: Purl
Row 7: *K2tog, K9* around--40 stitches
Row 8-18: Knit
Row 19: *Pfb, K9* around--44 stitches
Row 20, 22, 24: Knit
Row 21, 23: Purl
Row 25: Cast off

Weave in ends. Steam block to finish.

You can also use the gaiter as a headband!
© Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008. All rights reserved. Please do not redistribute this pattern without the link and copyright information intact. Contact via email for permission to distribute a printed version of this pattern in your store.

Shulkie Socks Pattern

[Reposted from my former blog. Somewhere along the line I lost the original pictures. I'll be updating the pictures in a few weeks along with a pattern a more comprehensive pattern. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure some version of the pattern was posted somewhere because there are people who have it listed in their queue.]

Jess's Shulkie Socks
by ©Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008. Full copyright notice below pattern.

While I have done my best to make sure this pattern is clear and error free, it is difficult to edit oneself. I apologize in advance if there are any errors or unclear instructions. Please contact me with any questions by leaving a comment or emailing dyeabolicalyarns at gmail dot com if you have any questions.If you are interested in future tech editing or test knitting, please email me at the address above.

Design notes: These were designed for my She-Hulk loving friend, Jess. I originally had the traveling rib moving in the same direction of the dark green spiral, but decided to break up the visual line by having the rib spiral in the opposite direction of the yarn. The relaxed ribs are slightly wavy. Pulled taut the traveling ribs are a nice stitch pattern.

Needles: 2.5mm double pointed needles

Gauge: 8.25 stitches per inch in stockinette


Cast on 64 stitches using the knitted cast on  or another loose cast on of your choice.

K2, P2 rib for 2"

Begin stitch pattern as below:
Round 1-4: *k4, p4, rep from * around
Round 5-8: k2, *p4, k4, rep from * to last 6 sts, p4, k2
Round 9-12: *p4, k4, rep from * around
Round 13-16: p2, *k4, p4, rep from * around to last 6 stitches, k4, p2

Rep rounds 1-16 until cuff is desired length.

Heel Turn
Combine 26 stitches on to one needle to work a short row heel. Leave 38 stitches unworked for the instep.  Work short row heel as you normally would, or as follows:

On right side, knit one stitch to end. Wrap stitch by slipping final stitch to right needle, bring yarn to front, slip stitch back to left needle, move working yarn to back. Turn. Purl to final stitch. Wrap stitch by slipping last stitch to right needle, move yarn to back, slip stitch back to the left needle, move working yarn to front. Turn. Knit to one before wrapped stitch. Wrap this stitch as before. Turn. Purl to one before wrapped stitch. Wrap this stitch as before. Turn. Continue in this manner until only 8 unwrapped stitches remain in the middle with an even number of wrapped stitches on either side.

Work your next row to the most recently wrapped stitch, pick up the wrap from behind, place it on your needle and knit the wrap together with the stitch. Wrap the next stitch. Turn. Continue in this manner until the last wrapped stitch on the right side is worked. If there is still a wrapped stitch on the wrong side to be worked then leave it until the end of the current round.

[There are several short-row heel tutorials and videos online if you find that helpful]

Pick up and knit an extra stitch in the gap between the heel and the instep. Work instep in stockinette. Pick up and knit an extra stitch in the gap on this side, as well . Pick up the final heel wrap (if left unworked from heel) and work it together with its mate. Finish the round by knitting in stockinette.

On next round decrease 1 stitch on either side of the heel, eliminating the extra stitch picked up. Redistribute stitches evenly among your needles . Continue knitting stockinette to 2" before the toe.


Work toe of your choice, or as follows:

Renumber your needles so needle 1 begins on the right side of your foot and ends in the center top of your foot. Needle 2will be from center top to left side of foot. Needle 3 from left side to bottom center of foot. Needle 4 from bottom center of foot to right side.

Round 1 (decrease round):
  • Needle 1: K1 ssk, k to end of needle
  • Needle 2: K to last 3 stitches, k2tog
  • Needle 3: K1, ssk, k to end of needle
  • Needle 4: K to last 3 stitches, k2tog
Round 2: Knit plain
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 12 stitches total remain. Repeat decrease round until 8 stitches remain.

Work Kitchener stitch to close toe.

Testing new yarns--a peek in to the process

I haven't been doing much dyeing these past few weeks. Hopefully I will have 5 pounds of felting wool and 20 pounds of warping cotton arrive before the end of the year. In the meantime I am taking a little mini-break, working on holiday knitting, test knitting potential new base yarns and avoiding catching up on bookeeping. I thought you might enjoy some insight in to the process of testing a new yarn.

I have been looking for a bulky yarn to replace my BFL Unspun. I still love the Unspun roving yarn, but ever worsening allergies are keeping me from dyeing anything that isn't extremely clean and free from any non-wool allergens (like hay or excessive dust) when it arrives at my door. Everything I dye gets a bath first, but some wools occasionally need an extra bath if you know what I mean. Sheeps are filthy creatures.

I found a superwash merino yarn that I thought might be a good substitute for the BFL Unspun. My first step was to order a cone of it and try it out. I wound up 6 100g skeins from the cone and dyed up a handpainted color, a kettle dyed color and a sorta-semisolid color.
 My creation
I ended up with an extra half a skein in the kettle dyed color, so I passed that out to a beginning knitter to get his initial impressions. He knitted up a quick cowl with it (no pictures, unfortunately) and liked it a lot. He didn't think it was too splitty like bulky yarn can sometimes be. He liked how the color took up. He didn't find any inconsistencies in the yarn.

My next step was to farm it out to my tried and true test knitters. Deborah made these great pair of swooshy fingerless mitts:

Kate made this great matching cowl. Remind me to devote a whole blog post to how awesome Kate is one of these days, okay?  Did you see the socks she just finished? Did you see the shawl she knit with some other yarn she was test knitting for me? She knit it in like a week or something crazy like that. Love that knitter. Love her!

Ann made a great pair of Festivus mitts with her skein and for some reason I told her I didn't need pictures. What was I thinking?

If you ever need test knitters, look no further than Kate, Deborah and Ann. They are so detailed and thoughtful with all of their comments. Deborah loved the way it felt in her hands. Kate pronounced the yarn "Squishystrongbeautifulsnuggly". Ann loved it, too, and gave great feedback about price points.

 Great! So why do I have a sinking feeling about this yarn? Well....nearly every person who handled the yarn said, unprompted, that their first impressions was that it was almost identical to another popular bulky yarn. Uh-oh. It might be a problem if my test knitters can't visually tell the difference between my more expensive superwash yarn and the less expensive and more popular non-superwash yarns. The actual knitting proved that are differences between the two yarns, mainly that the superwash is softer than the non-superwash and therefore....pills faster. Double uh-oh. When I asked the testers if they would pay the extra to have a superwash yarn, the answer was a resounding 'No'. Triple uh-oh.

This yarn just looking like another yarn wasn't quite enough to put this yarn out of the running. There are people out there who are willing to pay extra for a superwash yarn. Me, for instance. I am capable of carefully hand washing non-superwash wool, but I would rather turn it inside out and  throw it in the wash and I am willing to pay extra for the privilege.

If the testers overwhelmingly like or dislike a yarn then that is often enough to overrule my own feelings on the yarn. For instance, I am not a fan of chenille but it went so well in the initial test batch and with the testers that I have sold out 2 batches since then and nearly sold out of the 3rd. The testers really liked the superwash bulky yarn, but were on the fence about the price and the superwash treatment. It was time for me to put it through its paces.

I cast on for a hat using the final 2 skeins of the initial test run.
Empire Hat
My thoughts on this new base yarn?
  • Non-splitty!
  • Soft!
  • Good color!
  • Squishy!
  • Squooshy!
  • Good stitch definition!
  • It fuzzed predictably, as all softly spun wools tend to do.
  • The yarn grew during blocking, as most non-sock sw wools tend to do.
  • And....knotty? KNOTTY? None of my test knitters reported knots,  but there were 7 ply knots between my two skein. Ply knots are practically invisible when knitting, unlike real knots, but still. 7 is excessive. Damn.
My final decision is that lovely as this yarn is, it isn't the right time for me to devote money in to developing it in to a regular line for me. Perhaps in six months when the knot issue is taken care . The first run of any new base yarn is bound to have some inconsistencies.

It is frustrating to not have a good bulky yarn for the winter season, but this is why I use test knitters. At the upside, we all have great new accessories to show for our efforts.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A silly meme

O tidings of comfort and yarn,
Comfort and yarn.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
from the Christmas Song Generator.
Get your own song :

He knows if you've been bad or wool,
So be wool for goodness' sake.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
from the Christmas Song Generator.
Get your own song :

With true love and wool
Each other now embrace.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
from the Christmas Song Generator.
Get your own song :

Thursday, December 10, 2009

February Lady and Baby Sweaters

My February Lady Sweater is finally finished!  It took 3 skeins plus about 20 yards of a 4th skein (always buy the 4th skein). Still, 4 skeins of yarn netted me a sweater big enough for me, a baby sweater and some yarn left over. That's about $40 for 2 projects. I know I am biased because I sell this yarn, but I think that's a pretty good deal.

Normally I knit my project 10% longer and give the finished object a hot wash/tumble dry blocking. This initial treatment does two things. First, it gets a ton of lint off. If you've ever washed any new cotton garment you know what I'm talking about. Second, it allows the yarn to bloom and "sets" the stitches.

Notice I said I normally give it a hot wash and dry for its first wash. Peoples, I am a large woman with a loooong torso. By week 7 of knitting nothing but this sweater, I was ready to bind off. I bypassed the extra 10%, bound off and washed it by hand and it was just fine.  

What is Cotton Slub yarn?

Cotton Slub is a 100%  softly spun, thick-n-thin, sport weight, rustic handpainted yarn. The yarn is plied with soft slubs of cotton every so often. This yarn is a rustic yarn, meaning it has not been mercerized or bleached.

Cotton Slub makes a nice casual cool soft fabric that is machine washable on gentle. It is a non-mercerized cotton so it needs to be treated with a little more delicacy than a mercerized cotton when washing. The stitch definition is medium-to-good. It is a softly spun natural cotton and prone to a soft halo like all softly spun natural cottons, while still having enough structure to support the stitch definition of most textured stitches. The fabric will bloom in to a soft slubby fabric once it is washed, so please wash your swatches to get an idea of how the fabric will look in your finished garment. On most garments, I do turn the garment inside out and give it a single hot machine wash and tumble dry to bloom the yarn, set maximum shrink and set the stitch definition. I do subsequent washes inside out on cool gentle with an air dry.

Every skein has a minimum of 100g and 310 yards. Most skeins have 2-10g extra.

GUIDELINES (check your pattern requirements):
1 skein for most hats
1-2 skeins for most bags, baby garments and some small adult tanks
2-3 skeins makes most simple adult tanks
3-4 for a shrug
4+ skeins for most adult long sleeve pullovers

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Green Living Expo wrap up

I enjoyed meeting some associates from the St. Louis Craft Mafia, as well as seeing old friends. I bought some tea from Travelin' Tea. I've been drinking it all week. Baby, it's cold outside! I traded a skein of yarn with the owner of Kakao Chocolate. Peoples, if you haven't tried Kakao Chocolate, go get yourself some right this instant. Holy Moley. Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Sunday! It was great to see you.

I'm off the computer for the rest of the day to work on some work samples. I finished my February Lady Sweater last week and I'm hoping to finish a matching February Baby Sweater today. Pictures soon!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Green Living Expo

Just a reminder--

I will be at the Missouri History Museum's Green Living Expo this Sunday, December 6. The expo officially opens at noon and goes to 4, but the History Museum opens at 10. I am splitting a table with The Knitress, who specializes in hand knitted accessories made from natural fibers. I will be bringing with me a small assortment of sock yarns, cottons, the last of the silk, a few necklaces from Crafty and Crap Studio, reversible hand sewn bags, some roving and that entrelac shawl from the previous post.

Here are some of the exhibits that have signed on. How could you not stop by? 

• Isabee’s Honey • HPO Spa Treatments
• Kakao Chocolate • The J.U.I.C.E. Project
• Hope Build • Little Pleasures Foods
• Mod Creations • Go Green Clean
• Green It! • Better Life
• Miss Lemon • Squaresville
• Super Chick Studio
• Suzanne Shenkman Designs
• Missouri Coalition for the Environment
• Earthways Center, Missouri Botanical Garden
& U.S. Green Building Council–St. Louis