Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Full disclosure

Something has been nagging at me. In truth, many little somethings. A bag of them in fact:
There was a sale at Wooly Monkey this past weekend, and anyone who knows me knows I can seldom pass up a good sale (although I am getting better, I promise). In the bag is this:
All practically free, except the Trekking, which was only 20% off. Now that I look at it it's pretty similar to the Socks that Rock I used for my Olympic socks, but no matter. It's bright and sunny. It's cloudy a lot in Seattle. Therefore, the yarn was justified. There was also this:

Many skeins of Cascade Cotton, in bright pretty colors. I was immediately attracted to them, and they jumped into my basket. I'm not sure about the lone skein of navy blue, but I'll think of something. The plan for these is bright dishcloths/washcloths/etc, but we'll see. Cotton baby hats? I have a friend expecting this summer, maybe some of this can be a baby project. You'll know as soon as I do.

Progress continues on the Clapotis. Here she is after the second (purposefully) dropped stitch:

My yarn from Little Knits should finally be arriving today, so I''ll have a decision to make - whether to finish this Clapotis or cast put it aside and make the other, hopefully more summery one first. That idea makes me somewhat nervous because I don't want to start building up WIPs/UFOs like I was before the great Lenten 'project finishing streak.' Although, thinking about it, it feels weird to only have the Clapotis and the blue Hike sweater on the needles. And the sweater isn't really on the needles, since the first sleeve was cast off awhile ago and the other one hasn't been started...I was making some socks but I ripped them out last night as they were looking absolutely gigantic, and the intended recipient isn't exactly the Hulk. I'm intending to restart those socks this evening, in a different pattern and with more swatching (yes, I did swatch the first time, I have no idea what went wrong, but it was very wrong). And I have socks in mind for some of my handdyed green yarn. So, there shall be more projects to talk about shortly...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Horrors abound...

I dropped a stitch. On the Clapotis. Not on purpose. Didn't catch it until a couple rows later. Was very concerned. Had to dig around for a crochet hook whilst muttering obscenities.
I know this probably doesn't sound so bad to the knitters out there, but this was my FIRST dropped stitch. I know, amazing. What that also means is that I didn't really know what the hell I was doing trying to fix this wee bit of a problem. The only thing that saved me was having dropped a stitch on the Clapotis (on purpose, in the correct location) a couple of days ago. Having had to help it along in its unraveling, I had some concept of how to, shall we say, reravel. So, I did that, and it worked, and now I can't even find the spot of torment, so all is good.

Second horror is that I'm out of undyed yarn! I dyed this on Thursday:

This is three shades of sapphire blue, and it might be my favorite thing that I've dyed so far. I love blue. Well, and green, but this is my first handdyed blue skein, so it's my favorite (but I'm fickle, the green may be back in favor soon enough). I'm really excited to knit this up, and have several sock pattern ideas in my head for it. The colors are a little less blended in reality than in this photo, but the general idea is the same. This is Kona superwash merino sockweight yarn, ~540 yards. I'm NOT reskeining it - you all saw the mess I made with only 400 yards last week. God knows what kind of trouble I could get into with this...

The horror of this situation, if I may reiterate, is that I'M OUT OF UNDYED YARN!!! I'm going to spend some time this evening looking for a good online source for the stuff. Buying it at Weaving Works was all well and good, especially for the Kona, but I don't need to be dyeing such huge skeins - after all, I have small feet. The sockweight stuff I dyed on Easter was about 400 yards/skein, but I had to make those skeins myself off the yarn cones, which was time-consuming and tedious. Yes, you can buy that preskeined, but they're small skeins, so you would need two for a pair of socks, and I'm just not good enough at the dyeing yet to make two matching skeins. So, what I need is a way to buy 360-400 yard skeins, cheap. I'll keep you posted. Any suggestions, please let me know!

Monday, April 24, 2006

A busy weekend

I had quite a fun and busy weekend, made all the better because the weather finally realized it's supposed to be spring! We had temperatures in the 60s-70s Saturday and Sunday, and not a cloud in the sky. Same today, but, being Monday, I'm not out enjoying it.
The weekend started out like this: Here I am trying to reskein some of the yarn I dyed last Sunday. Now you might be asking, Emily, why are you reskeining that? You're just going to have to make it into a ball to knit with it anyway. To you who would ask such a question, I reply, because I had too much time on my hands wanted to see what it would look like when the color splotches were broken up. I might add that what you see here is the 3rd (yes) attempt at this, the first two having resulted in much tangling and hostility between Dave and I (poor boy was roped in to help). The photo above rapidly descended into this:

You can see that I'm laughing, but I'm also holding a big mess. Let me tell you this was a frustrating project. I'm going to find some schematics and hope that my dad will construct me a niddy-noddy, which might make such a task easier (or at least I'd get the right size skein, and thus only have to go through this hell once - what you see here, wrapping elegantly around the National Parks of the United States, is a skein that is really too small and will have to be dealt with again).

There was also a bit of this:

That's Dave, in the midst of the SeaTac Shuffle mountain bike race. He's moving quickly. I'm moving slowly, sitting in the grass with this:
This is the "mountain bike race survival kit," containing Great Books, by David Denby, my iPod (note April Project Spectrum (yellow/orange) colored iPod sock), and the clapotis. I realize you can't see from this photo, but I've gotten to the first dropped stitch (Saturday night, and boy were my hands cramped up from so much knitting, but I got there!). That was excited, that stitch dropping. I've never been one to drop stitches, even accidentally, so it was a bit of a thrill. Of course now this scarf has so many stitches that each row takes an eternity, so it'll be awhile before I get to drop another one, but I'll keep you all posted...I didn't actually do any knitting at all yesterday (see above note on hand cramping), but I read a lot. This book is great - David Denby is a film critic, living in Manhattan, who decided to revisit the Columbia University core curriculum literature and contemporary civilizations courses (the "great books" courses). I was drawn to this book because I took two almost identical classes at the University of Chicago (which is mentioned in the intro as one of the only other schools to have such a requirement), so I've read most of the books he's talking about, and it's a great refresher (since, to be honest, and this is probably sad, I've tried pretty hard to push all that philosophy out of my head). I'll probably write more about this book when I'm done with it, but it's surprising good, and I'd recommend it to anyone trying to up their level of pretentiousness...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dyeing on Easter Sunday

I hosted a dyeing party this past Easter Sunday (although in retrospect we really should've done it on Good Friday, but there was that whole 'work' problem). The party was a great success - there were 4 dyers and 9 skeins of yarn dyed with lovely Jacquard acid dyes. Sadly I'm not overly happy with my skeins, although they may knit up into something better than expected. Without further ado, here we go:

These three are my skeins. On the left is some KnitPicks Wool of the Andes dyed with pumpkin orange, chestnut brown, and forest green, although I have to question the dilution of that forest green since it's looking pretty light. The right two skeins are both sockweight superwash merino (I think). The middle one is salmon and teal; the dark spot in the back is a purple/indigo concoction Daisy made. Yes, the colors really are that bright, in fact the yarn is blinding, but I think it will make cool socks. The right skein was made by randomly squirting all the green colors we had made on the yarn, so it's very splotchy and I'm quite intrigued by it. Daisy made a similar skein but hers is much darker and I like it better than mine. I will have to try again...

I also have a photo of the one skein that Kristen made:

This is also Wool of the Andes, dyed with a lighter version of the purple/indigo concoction, forest green (I think) and turquoise. It turned out quite lovely!

Sadly I didn't get any photos of Daisy and Rachel's finished yarn, but perhaps they will be kind enough to take some and send them to me? Rachel dyed over 1000 yards of mohair, which took up my entire bathroom sink during the soaking:

All in all we had a great time. The dyes worked really well, and we experimented a bit with different concentrations of colors and determined that less dilute gives better results (for the most part). This dyeing thing is definitely addicting, although one can only think of so many uses for crazy-colored splotchy yarn! A couple of the Fiberphiles couldn't make it, so expect another dyeing party soon!

And then, I ask, is this is Clapotis I see before me?

This pattern is great. The yarn is lovely and soft. I'm addicted. In fact, I ordered some more yarn to make another (yes, I realize I've just started this one, but there was that whole Lenten no-buying-yarn thing that I'm recovering from). I love this yarn I'm using, but it's 100% merino, and although it's very soft it's also going to be fairly warm, and I'd like to be able to wear this in the summer, and as well as being wool, black and grey are not so much summer colors. So I ordered some Schaefer Marjaana (colorway Mary Breckinridge) from Little Knits, one skein for a whole Clapotis. I'm excited.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Project Spectrum Swap Info

I signed up for the May edition of the Project Colorswap, and Abigail put together this handy info sheet for us to post for our pals, so I've obliged. I'll try to get the button on my blog at some point, but frankly I have no idea how to do it...

Are you crafty? Not overly so, aside from the knitting. I go in phases of working on needlepoint, but it’s been awhile. I’ve just recently gotten into papermaking, which I guess counts as crafty.
Would you enjoy things like: Buttons, ribbons and embellishments? Ribbons maybe, but I’m not sure what I would do with the others
Do you dye your own wool? Yes! And it’s addicting
Do you like to scrapbook or make homemade cards? I have good intentions and a ton of scrapbook supplies, but because I am lazy I never really get around to doing either. Having a digital camera and thus not a lot of in-the-hand photos has not helped motivate me to get back into this arena.
What are your favorite scents? Vanilla, cinnamon, fruity things of all stripes. Basically anything but musk and related strong scents.
Do you like stationary and cards? Sure
Do you like to sew or embroider items? Not so much
Do you like beads? Yes! Along with the needlepoint I’ve gone through several beading phases and I’m always tinkering with the idea of making jewelry
What kind of candy do you like? What don’t I like?!? I like most candy but not peanut buttery things or taffy-like substances that my dentist doesn’t approve of. Oh, and dark chocolate - too bitter :(
Do you like hand lotions or soaps? Yes, they are an addiction of mine (along with the yarn stash there is a lotion stash)
Do you like to wear costume jewelry? Necklace, earrings, bracelets etc. Yes, especially necklaces.
Do you like to make/or use stitch markers? Just the simple kind – although I love the pretty beaded ones I’m not coordinated enough to keep them from getting tangled in my yarn…
Do you collect anything? Hehe…aside from shoes, purses, and yarn? Not really, aside from my extensive stamp collection (yes, seriously) but that is at home with my parents…
Do you have any allergies?: Smoke, food, fiber, pets,etc. No, but I’m really not keen on smoke.
Do you have any hobbies? Yes, and they’re all fairly active and outdoorsy. I’m very much into hiking and camping, as well as cycling. In the winter I downhill ski and snowshoe. I also read a lot, and as for more crafty things, aside from the knitting I make paper.
Do you like scented or unscented candles? Yes, both.
Are you a fiber snob? Hum…I was actually thinking about a blog entry on this very issue this evening. I don’t want to admit it but I think I might be. It’s not that I’m against acrylic, I like nice acrylic, but I definitely find myself more drawn to natural fibers.
Do you like to play cards or board games? Yes!
Do you like neon colors, pastel, light or medium ranges in the color of the month? Probably medium, or light. I’m not really a pastel person. I was going in that direction and then I dyed my hair dark and now pastels have lost their appeal…
Do you like kitchen magnets or key rings? Not really so into either of those.
Do you like picture frames? Yes, but I have tons, and few pictures to put in them (see above lament about digital cameras!)

Monday, April 17, 2006

In lieu of knitting...

May I present a big orange cat?

Here is Oliver, ready to pounce on some unseen knitting... And in repose...

And, lastly, intently watching TV...

Consider this the first part of my offerings for Project Spectrum April (yellow and orange). There will be no yellow or orange knitting as these are really not my colors (although I did go through an ill-advised yellow polo shirt phase a few years back that shall not be mentioned again). I promise to get my PS postcard in the mail this week, as soon as I finish making it - the idea has been in my head since the sign-ups, but I've had some trouble getting to the execution phase...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Apologies, and brief spinning tales

I apologize for being such a bad blogger, especially since I don’t really have a good excuse. Unless being out of town for a few days and not having any knitting to show for myself counts, which I guess it might. Actually there is knitting, but nothing really photo-worthy. I’m almost finished with the first sleeve on my Hike sweater, and I’m convinced it’s going to be way too long and possibly too tight for my apparently too large upper arms. But, I’m plugging away at it in hopes that it will block out okay, and I plan to roll the sleeves up anyway, since there is a lot of ribbing at the cuff. Really what I’m doing here is coming up with reasons to hold out hope that this thing, my first sweater, is going to fit, because I’m getting a bit nervous…

But, what you really want to hear about is the spinning party, right?!? Last Sunday, the Fiberphiles plus some added guests took a beginning spinning lesson for Rachel’s birthday. There were eight of us, and we had a private lesson with Barb at Acorn Street. At the beginning we talked about fiber types, and learned how to predraft and draft the roving into submission before beginning to spin it. Then we were thrown to the lions left to our drop spindles to experiment for ourselves, with Barb hovering over us. I have to say that this spinning thing is easier than it looks. Well, that’s not entirely true – it’s easy to make “yarn” but it’s not easy to make consistently thick or thin not overtwisted yarn.
Here I am, spinning away (and probably muttering under my breath – there was a lot of that):

We also got to try out a couple of wheels. Me, I didn’t bother with that. I had enough trouble getting my hands to cooperate using the drop spindle, and I didn’t think getting my feet involved would help matters.. I’m fairly sure I lack the coordination for four-limb activities the wheel and I’m not into frustration, so I stayed with my drop spindle. Pam got the hang of it pretty quickly (photos maybe later, Blogger is acting up). Rachel had a few more problems but was hooked all the same (see above).

After the class we went to Daisy’s house and ate cheese and chocolate fondue (two fondue pots, in case you’re confused) and almond cake.
It was a lovely afternoon of knitting and spinning. Although I don’t have a good photo, Pam won the “first one to knit a homespun swatch” award. She has since made an entire hat and vowed to make Rachel a homespun afghan. Now that's ambition (insanity?)...

Here is the obligatory group shot. Note Rachel fondling her Rowan Crack Kid Silk Haze…

In the back: Daisy, Jennifer, Pam, and Kristen

In the front: Kimber, Rachel, and yours truly

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Phew, another FO!!!

May I present the finished tweed messenger bag?

Looks pretty good, no? By that I mean it looks like a square, and not like a parallelogram, which is what it looked like the first time I sewed the damn lovely thing together. I actually finished the bag last week, and then attempted to sew it together whilst watching The Godfather Part II last Saturday night. I sewed the small front piece to the strap first, and my stitches were tight, and it looked lovely. Then I got to the back part, which obviously needed to line up with the front piece in the corners. So, I did a bit of a pinning job, and got to work. Around the first corner I realized things might be slightly off, but I perservered, thinking that it wasn't bad and I could compensate across the bottom of the bag so the other corner would line up. If you're guessing that didn't work all that well, you would be correct. But, I sewed up the whole thing and stuffed the Lady E in, just to make sure it was as crooked as it appeared, and, why yes, it was! Sorry I didn't take any photos, but I really couldn't face the thing, so I ripped it apart (shame on me for having such nice tight stitches - the thing was really difficult to undo) and buried under my Poang chair until Tuesday night knitting club rolled around. Tuesday night, with some help from Rachel, I did a better job of lining it up and pinning it together, and resewing. And it is finished!!!

Project Specs: Tweed Messenger Bag

From Family Circle Easy Knitting, Holiday 2004

Yarn: Tahki Soho Tweed (?), 4 skeins? (been so long I don't remember)

Needles: 10.5 straights and circular

Time on the needles: Nov. 2004-April 2006 (eep)

Modifications: My gauge was off so my bag is slightly larger than the pattern, but who cares. I also made the strap much shorter than they suggested, because the pattern called for 80 inches, and that was ridiculous. I think mine is less than 60" and that is probably too long.

I'm counting this as finished because the knitting is done, but really I won't be using it until I find my ideal liner fabric and sew that in.

I've just realized that most of my posts lately have been finished objects (or stash, but that's another story). The casual observer might think that I knit like the wind and finish things all the time. But, really the only reason I'm finishing all these projects is that they were started long ago and were lanquishing in various knitting baskets until Pam made me give up new projects for Lent. With nothing else to work on, and the fire in the fingers, I had to work on all these assorted abandoned projects, so they've actually been getting finished. In fact, I only have two things left on the needles, one of which I can't blog about (to protect the innocent), and the other which is my blue Hike sweater from Rowan 37. On Wednesday Dave convinced me that even though I didn't want to, and even though the thought of all the stockinette was making my cringe, working on the sweater was the right thing to do. So I did, and Wednesday night I finished the second sweater front and started the first sleeve, and by today I am about 8 inches into the sleeve and moving along quickly. I'll try to get some photos up shortly, hopefully tomorrow as I will be out of town on Monday/Tuesday at a scientific retreat.

Tomorrow a bunch of my friends and I are taking a private spinning class for Rachel's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHEL!!!). We've all been looking forward to this for months, and it should be a hoot. I'll do my best to document the occasion...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The magic of chemical dyes

There is no knitting. Not that I haven't been knitting, but we'll get to that. So I will distract you with some lovely green yarn that Dave and I dyed on Friday, using Jacquard Acid Dyes.
This yarn was dyed using kelly green and forest green stock dyes, which we then diluted to several degrees and used on the yarn. I was initially hoping for something a bit darker, but we got overzealous in our dilutions, and I love the way this turned out. I've since balled it up and swatched, and it's lovely. This is sockweight Kona superwash, 750 meters (two pairs of socks? Socks and armwarmers? Scarf? The options are endless!). I also took some pictures while were doing the dyeing...After this experience I'm definitely thinking that a shower curtain liner would be useful to have on the counter; the blue diaper thing you see here worked well in that it didn't leak, but it
did get totally soaked through and I had to throw it out. Shower curtain would work better for durability. The acid dyes were as easy as the Kool-aid I did awhile back, and you can make so many more colors with ease. I was a bit worried about the smell from the steaming wet yarn/vinegar mass, but it wasn't bad even in my not-overly-well-ventilated apartment. This was a trial skein to see a) how long it would take, b) how many people could be involved without tripping all over each other, and c) how much of a mess it would make. Since I'm having several people over to dye yarn on Easter, these are important issues. So, it takes about 10-20 minutes to apply the dye (once mixed), and 30-40 minutes to steam (and more than one skein could be done at once, if they weren't as big as this one). Dave and I managed to not kill each other, but it was dicey and there was some stepping on of toes and tossing of elbows, so perhaps one person per skein is ideal. That shouldn't be a problem with the dyeing party as I figure everyone will want their own yarn anyway, and I can set up a couple of stations in the kitchen. As for the mess, it wasn't so bad for us, but the more people the more mess. Paper towels are key. And dark clothing - although we didn't get anything on ourselves, I wouldn't want to risk wearing anything white that one wanted to keep that way.

I'm planning to save this yarn to use during May, when Project Spectrum turns green. For April we're on yellow and orange, which I'm not so sure about, really. As I noticed while Flashing the Stash, I don't have any yellow or orange yarn, nor do I want any...Maybe I'll dye some yarn orange and red and call that my PS project for the month...
However, there will be orange photos, since I have a big orange tabby cat :)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My first meme...(I'm a joiner)

I've seen this floating around a lot lately (although some versions seem to be longer?), but most recently I found it on Cara's blog, and since she tagged everyone, I figured why not me?

Meme instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald (one of my favorites)
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
(His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
(One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (three kleenex book)
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
(The Secret History - Donna Tartt)
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (still not sure what I thought of this one)
(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Atonement - Ian McEwan
(The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
(The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood)
(The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath)
Dune - Frank Herbert