Sunday, 9 October 2011

A knitting disappointment

Yesterday I finally finished my Johnny Rotten mittens, the ones that look like Union Jacks in hand-dyed red, white and blue pure wool from Skein Queen.  I had struggled a bit with the stranding of three yarns in this pattern, and it took me a lot of work to finish them.  But they were done, they fit well, they felt cosy, and I was quite pleased.

I decided to give them a wash and let them block flat before I took a picture for the blog.  Well, I sure wish I had taken the picture first because after that decision, it all turned into a bit of a disaster.  I washed them in a bowl of warm water with a little bit of liquid soap for delicates in them.  My first inkling of doom was when the mittens went abruptly floppy and loose as they became wet in the water.  Then the water turned a vivid pink.  And stayed a vivid pink through multiple rinses.  And the mittens just grew and grew and became floppy and huge.

It was as if the yarn had just lost all of its cling and bounce, and become floppy and stretched out.  After about 10 or 12 rinses, the water was still very pink, so I tried adding a small amount of malt vinegar to the water. This immediately cut down on the pink, reducing it to a pale pink, but the damage was already done.  The white yarn was a definite pink, and another 5 or 6 rinses only reduced it to a sort of dirty taupe colour.  Meanwhile the mittens are now about two inches longer in the hand and in the cuff than they used to be, and they feel strangely floppy.  Any hopes that they would shrink up again when they dried seem destined to remain unrealised, as so far they are staying the same length even though they are almost dry.

I still had my Paypal receipt so I have written to Skein Queen with photographs, asking for a refund.  I am really gutted about this after all the work I put into them.  If they were just a bit pink, but still the right size, then it wouldn't be so bad.

Update:  Skein Queen promptly issued me with a full refund and said: "The colour should never run out of hand-dyed yarn and I'm mortified that it has done in this instance, especially after all your work.  Please accept my sincere apologies and reassurances that this is not a common occurrence with Skein Queen yarn. I was also extremely surprised to hear about Desire losing its structure and having a odd smell. It never usually smells when I soak it prior to dyeing and has maintained its shape in anything I've knitted with it. I'm wondering if what happened might have been that, around that time, my supplier sent me a faulty batch of the superwash merino that acted a bit differently to the usual Desire and didn't have the superwash element added and maybe that's got into the kits before I realised there was a problem? I'm not sure, but could be a possible explanation. I'm just sorry it's happened to you. "

On a happier note, I am really getting excited about my trip to New England now.  I spent several hours yesterday trawling through all my knitting books and loose knitting patterns, matching up possible projects to available yarns on the Webs (big knitting store in Massachusetts) store website and comparing prices to the UK.  I now have a shopping list of several projects to buy for, but am keeping an open mind about the vast backroom in their warehouse full of end of line sale items.  In fact, I had planned to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace today, but realised that it was a bit pointless when I was going to the motherlode in a few weeks.  We've purchased the ability to bring a second suitcase each on the return journey, and I'm sure mine will be full!  And DH's as well...  If he buys anything, he will have to wear it onto the plane  :)

The weather has turned warm again, so I washed the Vintage Lone Star quilt very carefully in the bath and let it dry out on the rotary arm where it gets some support.  The 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom wadding has shrunk up a bit, throwing the quilting pattern into relief.

My work colleague finally decided she definitely did want to buy my Stars Over England Kaffe Fassett design quilt, and she is giving me quite a decent price for it which is great and gives me more spending money for America.  Not as much as it's cost me to make it, but a substantial portion thereof. So TV viewing this week, when it wasn't finishing the ill-fated mittens, has been sewing down the binding on the edges.  I prefer to do single binding as I feel I get a neater result, and I sew it down by hand.

Today in the car I made a start on the Fan Stitch Half-Circle Shawl  (Rav link) by Martha Waterman from 'Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls' , which is going to be my travel project in America.  Why is it that no matter how many needles you have, you can never find the right pair?  I wanted a 3.5mm lace circular, and I know I have some somewhere, but could I find them??  I had to make do with a blunt tipped metal pair, which worked adequately.  I am a bit confused because currently I am knitting in garter whereas it looked like stockinette in the picture, but looking ahead, it seems that it turns into stockinette later.  Do you read patterns through from start to finish before you begin a new project?  No, neither do I.  In fact, I kind of like the sense of a journey of discovery, when you realise 'oh, that's how we do that bit...'.

We were in the car on the way to a preview of an amazing film 'The Help'.  We had to go to Henley which was a bit of a drive, but the tickets were free.  It had received good reviews but I didn't really know what to expect. It's about race relations in the early Sixties in the southern United States, but from the perspective of ordinary white families and their black maids (the help) and it is so excellent and moving.  I don't cry very much but my eyes were watering by the midpoint and by the end I was in full-scale nose blowing crying mode.  Really well acted, really well told, highly recommended if you get a chance to see it.


swooze said...

Sorry about your mittens. I fear these experiences.

I hope you have good weather for your trip to the US.

Marthaamay O_o said...

Oh no, That's disappointing to have that happen to your mittens. They acted like anarchists! But very kind of the lady to get back to you and take the complaint well.

I won some FQ (I know what Fat Quarters are now!) and so I think I might be making some small quilting type thing soon when they arrive! I don't think I can be as exact as you, it might end up in a 'crazy quilting' style!
I'll let you now.

Daisy said...

I read The Help for reading group and loved it, will definitely be seeing the film. Can't believe your mittens ended up so much bigger? Do you know anyone with large hands who could wear them?!

Sue said...

Oh, soooo sorry about your mittens. I wonder if they could be felted a bit to make them fit again? I always come to calamity when putting things in water. Something always runs, or shrinks or doesn't shrink when I want it to. You know.
I don't know where you're going in New England, but I have a couple more suggestions for you. Keepsake quilting and right next door their knit shop. I don't know if you get the Keepsake Quiltiing catalog in England but it's a great quilt shop in a beautiful location. Also, Quilted Threads in Henniker, New Hampshire is a great quilt shop. A lot of variety including a lot of the Japanese taupe fabrics. My quilt guild took a bus trip from the Albany, New York area to Keepsake Quilting for their annual sale and stopped at a bunch of quilt shops along the way. Quilted Threads was a Quilt Sampler magazine shop and a spur of the minute stop. It turned out to be the nicest place on the whole trip.

Sue said...

Oh, and I forgot to say how much I love your Lone Start quilt! I personally love the crinkly look of quilts after they're washed though I know a lot of people try to avoid that. Safe travels to you!

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