Thrifty Thursday, The Big E

So this week I’ll tell you how the Big E, also known as the Eastern States Exposition was a thrifty event for me.  It’s a large fair, this year 1,498,605 people attended!  Holy traffic nightmare right?  My sister and I went on a Tuesday afternoon, so it wasn’t too bad.  I haven’t been on a weekend in many years.

I entered my knitting.  It cost $5 to enter one item.  So entry fee for me was $15.00.  I received free parking for one day ( $10.00 value) and two free entry tickets ($30 value).  I spent around $40.00 for lobster rolls and drinks.  Then I received $57.00 prize money for my knitting.  So I spent $55  and received back $57 and a free visit for two ($40.00 worth) to the fair!  Pretty thrifty right?

I’m already thinking about what I could enter next year.  I’ve been toying with the idea of a guernsey type sweater knit in a bulky weight  yarn designed for Wool-Aid.  Plain bottom, lots of textured stitches on top….


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Prize Winning Knitting

I entered some of my knitting at the Eastern States Exposition this year.

Imagine my delight when I received two first prizes and one second prize!  One of the first prizes was for my Fisherlad Guernsey.  You’ve seen it before.  This was the sweater I knit through my dad’s heart surgery hospitalization.  Here it is modeled by my niece .



And here it is at the Big E.


My critique says it needs blocking.  I did block it, but I guess I didn’t do it well enough?  Some one else entered the exact same sweater in green.  They got a second place.  A fact my father called to tell me the first day of the Big E…LOL.

Next first prize was for my Hogsmeade Hat!  That really made me smile.  Honestly I have no idea why it won first prize because it is so simple.  But I did enter it in the category of self designed knits so maybe there wasn’t much competition?  My critique said that it needed washing to soften it.  Well, it’s not merino or cashmere, it’s Lamb’s Pride people!  It’s as soft as it’s going to get.  What would they say if I entered a hat knit in Bartletts?  Speaking of Bartlett’s, they had a booth in the Maine building.   This is the Hogsmeade I entered.  I had twelve that I knit to choose from.


I don’t have a picture of it at the fair.  They had put the hats in a glass case all scrunched up.  It looked terrible in there.

Lastly, my Guernsey wrap won a second place.  It took me three years to knit this!  Pathetic.  I just kept putting it aside.  It is designed by Jared Flood and is knit in Shelter.  That was the called for yarn, which I rarely use.  I added about a foot in length as it is for me and I am “traditionally built” as Mma Rmaotswe says.  Love those books!   I love the color of the yarn.  There’s no picture of this at the Big E either.  Why?  I couldn’t find it.  I knew it was there because my parents told me they saw it there, but honestly once we had gone through the whole building and didn’t see it,  I didn’t care enough to go look through it all again to find it.  It was time for Lobster rolls!  Do I have a picture of the Lobster rolls?  No, bad blogger!  But Carolyn is an good blogger and has not one but two different posts with Big E food.  Go check it out.  You can also see her prize winning knitting!

Here it is in progress.  This picture shows the texture well.

guernsey wrap

And here it is during the blocking process.  Thanks for the loan of the blocking wires Angie!  065


What did my critique say?  Exactly what I knew it would say,  that the “edging” needed better blocking.  But there was no way I was blocking it again before I entered it.  Would I have won first pace if I had?  Guess I’ll never know.




And last picture, this pumpkin lifeguard was at the Big E.  This picture is for Ashley, my favorite lifeguard!


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How to dye yarn with Kool-Aid, lesson one. A tutorial

Let me just first say I am an amateur dyer.  This is what I do.

First you have to buy your Kool-Aid.   You need the kind that comes in packets without any sugar or artificial sweetener.  Store brand is fine.  Around here a packet costs around 20 cents, 10 cents or so for the store brand.  For this yarn I chose 2 packets of Watermelon Cherry.


How much do you need?  It depends on what color you choose, the color depth you want and how much yarn you are planning to dye.  I generally use 3 to 4 packets per 100 grams wool.   Certain colors don’t give as much color per packet as others.  I find the orange, lime, grape and berry blue to be the strongest colors.

Now, your yarn.  You need wool or another natural fiber like alpaca.  What percentage wool?  I’ve dyed as low as about 60% wool with 40% man made fiber ( don’t remember if it was acrylic , nylon or whatever) and it still took the color.  This will NOT work with cotton.

For this project I chose a lonely single 50 gram skein of Regia 4-Fach Haltbar, 8 Fadig.  I googled fadig, supposedly it means threadlike.  Ravelry lists this yarn as a worsted weight.  I bought it at a thrift store long ago, I think I paid a dollar.    It’s color was sort of a cross between a pale oatmeal and gray.


You need to get your yarn ready to dye.  There are people who dye yarn as is in skeins like this, I have never tried it.

Not Yet…..

I transfer the yarn from the skein to my swift.  This is my least favorite part of the process.  I often wish I had a motorized swift for this part.

002 (2)

Then tie the two yarn ends together in a knot.


Next you need to tie your yarn so that it does not end up in one huge knot after the dye process.  I use a figure eight tie.  You need to tie it loosely so that the dye can get under the tied area.  If you tie it too tightly there will be areas that have no dye, or less dye.  For the ties I use scrap yarn.  this is acrylic, but you can use wool.  I actually  find it helpful to use acrylic, it will not dye and I can easily see where my ties are later if they don’t blend in with the rest of the yarn.



Because this is only 50 grams of yarn I only used 4 ties.  More yarn =more tangles in my experience.  If it were 100 grams I would use 6 or 8 ties.

My swift is from Oregon Woodworkers.  I love it. It has served me well for several years now.  It does disassemble but I basically leave it set up all the time in my  office/craft room.  The rug gripper strips keeps it from dancing around on the table ( sometimes I get it going pretty fast).  I keep saying I’m going to buy some of those rubber dots for the bottom but never remember to.

Now you’d think your yarn is ready for dying, but it’s not.  You need to soak it in water for about an hour.  If you don’t the dye will not penetrate fully into your fiber.  How much water?  Doesn’t matter as long as your yarn gets fully wet.  You can add Synthrapol if you have some, but even though I have some, I rarely use it  for Kool-Aid.  I had bought it when I was dyeing wool fabric for rug hooking.   Some day I’ll do an experiment with two batches to see if it makes a difference with Kool-Aid dye.

What’s Synthrapol?


Your yarn is ready to dye.  The next part is more fun.

Stay tuned for the next lesson.

And don’t forget, you have a couple more days to knit a Hogsmeade hat and enter in the drawing for the awesome yarn chicken bag!

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Thrifty Thursday Late again

I like to dye yarn.  It’s fun, if a little messy.  I use food safe dyes so I can use all my regular kitchen equipment and not have to have separate dyeing equipment.  I prefer to use Wilton’s Icing Color’s but also like to use Kool-Aid.  My first yarn  dyeing attempt was with Kool-Aid years ago.  So what does this have to do with Thrifty Thursday?  Guess what was on sale at my local grocery store?  Generic Kool-Aid for 8/50 cents!  Way cheap.  I couldn’t resist.



Watch for an upcoming series  posts on how to dye yarn  with Kool-Aid.

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Which way to Hogwarts?

I am so lucky, I have a new garden sign to direct me!  This was a birthday present from my very talented niece.  I love it!

006As you can see the black eyed susan’s are going crazy!



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Thrifty Thursday

Pyrex again.  Savers find.



Being put to use to make crepes.  And bonus glimpse of vintage linen dishcloth.  That one has a recipe for Irish Stew on it.

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The Hogsmeade Hat and an incentive to knit it and then donate it

I’ve got my first pattern ready to put on Ravelry, it is hat #50, also called the Hogsmeade Hat, because if you are going to visit Hogsmeade, you need a warm woolen hat!  I wanted to design a very easy quick knit that one could use multiple options when it came to yarn choice, while using the same size needle and the same stitch counts.  There are four sizes. And I like quick results so I designed it using super bulky yarn.  Other pattern  options include using aran yarn held doubled or worsted held tripled.  Lastly I did a test knit using smaller needles and regular bulky yarn, which worked with a few minor adjustments.  The whole goal of this was just “hats that will fit someone” for donation to Wool-Aid or your favorite charity.

009 - CopyThese are the four sizes in the superbulky option.  The largest hat which is 60 stitches is quite large, but looks good on a smaller head tilted back and worn loosely  (2nd hat from the right in this picture).

013 - Copy

019 (2)

The green one is a triple worsted version.

018 (2)

This is the regular Lamb’s Pride Bulky version.

039These are the superbulky hats.


These are the doubled aran hats.  As you can see there are a couple different brim variations you can use.


Tripled worsted versions.

So incentive you say?

How about this awesome Yarn Chicken tote bag?  009


Bag is a light weight canvas bag.  Straps are long enough to go over your shoulder.  There is a key fob on the inside.  No pockets.  Bag measures approx 17″ wide by 13″ high by 5 1/2″ deep.

How do you win a chance to win this bag?  You need to knit a Hogsmeade hat and post a project page with a picture on Ravelry by Sept 30th.  You must promise to donate your hat to Wool-Aid and send it in by the end of 2014.  Your project must be tagged Hogsmeadehatforwoolaid2014  the prize will be randomly drawn from projects which meet this criteria.  If you post more than one finished hat and put each hat on it’s own project page you get more than one entry.  Knit 5 hats and have 5 project pages?  5 entries.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Wool-Aid, at least 80% wool/alpaca/similar natural fiber is required.  No acrylic content at all.  Here is the Wool-Aid page for further information.  And here is the Wool-Aid group on Ravelry.


I am now going to attempt to put the pattern on Ravelry, wish me luck!  I will edit this post once that is complete.

Shocker-It actually worked!  Link to pattern on Ravelry




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It’s done, hat #50

I  have finished knitting 50 different hat patterns in the past year.  I did finish before my 50th birthday!  Here’s hat # 50, more on this pattern in a separate post.

013 - CopyHere’s a picture of all the hats that I have left in my possession.  Time to get measuring and tagging to send them to Wool-Aid.


Out of the 50 hats I kept one for myself, Foliage, hat # 26.  I gifted 5,   Ariosa Pom Pom hat #24,  Picholine Hat #22, Teapot hat #20, Bend hat #16 and Checker Rib hat #3 to my nieces and nephews.  Two hats went to the local 500 hats project in honor of Dr Seuss.  That leaves 45 hats for Wool-Aid, and if you are wondering at that math, there were a few hats I knit more than one of.

Some of these patterns will be knit again, some will never see the light of day again.  All in all it was an interesting experience.  I am definitely more skilled at cabling without a cable needle than I was a year ago.


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Hat # 48

It seems I forgot to post hat #48.  Here it is.


This one is  That Easy Guernsey Hat by Christine Roy.  The first hat I knit was with Lamb’s Pride worsted, which is in a perverse way, actually an aran weight.  It is knit flat and seamed.  I thought I could use the practice seaming.    I do not like to have to seam items, and I did not enjoy the process.  The hat turned out quite a bit smaller than I thought it would, so I reknit it in Lamb’s Pride bulky, in the round this time of course!  I liked the textures of the hat and will knit it again.   Both were knit for Wool-Aid.

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Hat # 49

I’ve been lax in posting knitting pictures.  Here is hat #49.  It is called Bulletproof Aran by Chuck Wright and is knit in Northampton yarn.  This was a really fun knit, a bit of a challenge but not so challenging as to annoy me.  It is a paid pattern but very well written.   It was knit for Wool-Aid.   I will make this pattern again.  I just have to grit my teeth to get through the ribbing, which is never my favorite part of a project.




I’ve been knitting my felted mittens using scraps, pictures soon!

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