Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's Almost May!

I am trying to get at least one more blog in for April. I really haven't any news, and it is boring around this house. I have been in such a messy house that I got high behind and cleaned. Well, not really cleaned cleaned-like sanitized. But straightened and dusted and somewhat cleaned up. I am really feeling good about this, and now I actually am sleeping without a clogged nose. I think that part is psychological, since there is pollen covering everything this morning.

Remember a while back I mentioned that I gave a part of my old, old stash away to the Teen Knitting Club at the library. Well, in the process I found a very old UFO. So today I took it out of the cupboard. Now when I say old, I mean I started this as an afghan for my son when he graduated from high school and was going away to college. He will be 35 years old in a coupla months! So I sorted through the box, and I actually had knit 6 blocks. It is a sampler afghan and each one of them is different patterns. I looked through the booklet, and I fell in love with it again.

Now I will confess that it is acrylic yarn!! GASP! But back then I had few choices. This was pre-Internet, no knit shops around me, and my grandmother and I spent hours choosing the right yarn. There is a part of me that says, "Forget this crap. Start over with a decent yarn." And then there is a part of me that pats the yarn, remembers the reason I bought it, and remembers my grandmother talking about the patterns with me.

So tonight I cast on 57 stitches and started a new block. It felt good. Yes, it is not the perfect yarn for today. But it was the perfect yarn in the early 90's. I am not sure if I will ever give it to him. Maybe. But then I may keep it myself. Like I really need another afghan. But this one is special.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

This blurry picture is some of my recycled yarn I unknitted, skeined, washed, and blocked. It is quite lovely. I still have one more large skein to wash and block, and then there are some smaller pieces of yarn that I rolled into small balls. There was some moth damage, and I just rolled small balls with that. It is more brown than grey, but it is still pretty. It is a one-ply bulky. I am quite happy with it.

I am hurrying this to post since there are all kinds of weather threats outside. It has gotten really dark out, and it has been thundering for at least an hour now.

Hope you get out and enjoy Mother Earth today. Do something kind for her. Have a good Earth Day today!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I love Sunday mornings. I listen to certain NPR shows on the radio. I knit, I spin, or I sew while I listen to these shows. I then listen to certain podcasts while I continue these activities. So today I have spent most of my morning doing dishes (yuck!) and cleaning up my mess I made with the dye experiment. I can only live in chaos for a limited amount of time. I have set out a mission to finish the binding on the quilt that has been languishing for months and waiting patiently for the finish. I have the beginning pinned and ready to go.

I also finally got REAL and decided to start the unknitting of the sweater I thrifted from a long time ago. I have never unraveled it because it hurts to look at the carefully handknitting of someone who did a beautiful job. To think that this knitter took such care to knit this for someone much smaller than I am, and then it is put in a thrift store with all the leftover yarns and one sleeve not completed in a plastic bag. Well, sentiments aside, I began unknitting yesterday. It is lovely yarn-a single ply light brown wool. It is a bit heavy and scratchy, but quite pretty. It is tedious to unravel raglan sleeves, but it will be a nice yarn some day. I am not sure how many yards, but I will measure it when I wash and block it.

I lost something last week, and it took me one whole day to find it. It was something of value, and to make matters worse I haven't thought of it in perhaps 5 years. So I had no idea where it could be. I had it narrowed down to two rooms, and I looked at the one room that would be the easiest to search. Not there. So that left going through drawers, sacks of stuff in closets, etc. I finally found it, but it literally took me all day to find it.

Last night I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with the smell of smoke, as if something is burning. When I am in a deep sleep, I don't always think clearly. I jumped out of bed, and went to the bathroom. I then went to each window looking for any kind of fire. I couldn't see anything. I then tried to think of what items I needed to evacuate in case I was in danger. It was then that I realized that I had the hallway window open, the winds were coming from the south-southwest, and my neighbor in that direction uses a wood stove. Just to verify all that, I went to the door, opened the door, realized it was really cold enough for a wood fire, and went back to sleep. The drama of it all!!

Yesterday was our spinning guild's meeting. We had a huge group of 18 people, and only 2-3 of us did not have our wheels. One of our esteemed leaders had a program on dyeing. Not the process, but the product. She has been a teacher for years, and she did a color wheel. So there were all kinds of boards with color in fleece, then what would happen if you added this color or that color. Then there would be a sample of that fleece, the yarn, and a knitted sample. It was an immense project to prepare, but also the whole linear pattern was prepared to see. It was amazing.

My friend CJ has started making notecards from some of her photography. They are really nice.

Nothing else to note at this time. I am almost done with my first new sock, and it is not an exciting thing to photo at this time. I am doing a plain old sock, and I had forgotten how fast plain knitting knits. It takes a longer time to knit patterns, although I love patterns.

So back to sewing. Enough of this Internet stuff.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just An Update!

So Now We Have Popsicles!
I don't waste dye material. I soaked the wool batt in water and vinegar. Dumped the leftover dye in a crockpot with water and vinegar. First I got grape popsicle, then blue ice popsicle, and then I got orange in two shades. This is more like it. I think this will add some dimension to my stash from yesterday.
So the bottom line is to use more dye than the instructions call for and soak the wool in vinegar and water.
Now I just have to try this on store-bought yarn to see how it works. As everyone knows, store-bought yarn acts differently in a dye situation. I will keep you posted on this.
A storm is brewing out west, and we are getting ready for a cold front to move in. It's the clash of the fronts that does us in. FEMA is in the state trying to get a handle on the storm from last week. They haven't made an official decision as to the help that they will provide.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's Try Something New!

Here's the surgical procedure for the fringe. It was nerve-wracking! The mohair was less than cooperative, and I think next time I might try just regular wool. If there is a next time, that is!
But the shawl is quite lovely! I am not a shawl-y person, but I know someone this might look really cute on! We will see. In the meantime, it is languishing on the back of a chair, and I touch it regularly. I will say something about the yarn-remember, Trendsetter Yarns Dune- it smells good! Isn't that weird? Well, it does. I sniffed it regularly while knitting.

Another new thing.......................

This was dyed with a new dye called Culinary Colors. I was dyeing-ha!ha!-to try it! Well, Handheld Knitting got it from Knit One, Crochet Too and I am experimenting with it. After carefully carding my wool and then splitting it into roving, I proceeded. When I thought my wool had soaked enough, I began mixing the colors. It comes premixed in 1 oz bottles, and has ten different colors. I mixed the 1/8 tsp of their dye with 1/2 cup water, and dissolved the dye. I added 1 tblsp of vinegar. All this is their instruction, okay? I mixed some grape and blueberry-3 to 1. Then I mixed tangerine and lemon 2 to 1. And I wanted a neutral color, so I used nutmeg with a little bit of lemon. I thought the lemon would brighten it some. Well, after putting my roving onto the plastic wrap in a most cautious way, I began. Well, the grape and blueberry was turquoise! Whodathunkit! And the nutmeg/lemon was tannish something. The tangerine/orange was closest to the color. Then I carefully wrapped up my little roll of stuff in the plastic wrap. It looked okay at that point. Then I microwaved it per instructions. As an aside, I never, ever microwave dyes. I always steam them. But I am following their instructions. Okay. It turned to these weird colors after microwaving. Then when it cooled, I washed it in a teeny bit of Orvus, and the blue went away. Well, actually it had turned green somewhere in there. So there is this electric pink-where did it come from? There is a teeny bit of tannish beige color. There is some orangey color, and some faint, faint green that is minuscule. Actually when I applied the color on the wet wool, the blue was the most color I applied. And the green is the least color left.

So then I had this ropey mess above. I could tease it apart and draft it into fleece to spin, or I could recard it. The labor intensive-ness of this whole process! So this morning I tried both methods.
I couldn't tell the difference between the two methods. So I just got busy and fluffed out the roving I had made and dyed.

And now my little French Market Bag is overflowing with stuff to spin. It is very pastel, and still pretty. Just not what I was expecting.
Next time-maybe tomorrow-I am going to try some of my own ideas, and skip their directions. I hope I can get a more intense color out of this.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It's Been A Long Time Since.....

This pretty alpaca fluff was bought at an alpaca show in December, 2007. I thought it was so pretty. The woman who sold it said her husband calls it "Road Kill".
It isn't "Road Kill" anymore. It is a pretty tweedy something. What I did find out during my spinning is the difference in the two animals. The black one was named Maya, but she did not know the name of the white one. The black was smoother and less crimp, and it was a little more difficult to spin. The white was softer, fluffier, and had more crimp. I did not try to do anything other than I would pull off a bit, draft it a little, and spin. There is 4 ozs and I might think about writing them a letter and getting some more. I somehow instinctively liked the black-white combo, and it sure turned out pretty. The other thing I found out is it was really dirty. I washed it with a little bit of Orvus and lavender oil prior to blocking on my blocker. Well, there was yucky water, so I rinsed it twice. I ended up with 359 yards. I also finished up the Regia Bamboo socks. I used a waffle pattern, but it is stretched out on the foot. But I like the visual texture since the colors are blended so well. Noodles could care less about them.

I have also finished a shawlette that I knit with Trendsetter Yarns Dune. There was a pattern with the yarn. It is super, super, super easy, until I got to the self-fringing part. I started to unravel the fringe section, and it was awful. So I knew enough to stop that minute until I could get myself together for this. I have it laid out flat on the ironing board and I am picking it out with a tool I have for pottery. It looks something like a dental pick, but thicker and heavier. The mohair seems to not want to unravel, and it sticks to itself. So occasionally I do an itty-bitty snip with my scissors. I guess this self-fringing thing is like steeking. One has to just trust the procedure. I couldn't get my head around it, and I just started tugging. And it unraveled. Bit-by-bit. Not like pull a string and zip it goes down the row. This is one fringe at a time. I will show a picture when I get this finished. And the pattern does not call for any blocking, but I do not like the uncontrollable roll around the top. So I am going to do a wee bit of blocking there to ease out that little problem.

Otherwise I am doing nothing. I am trying to conserve on gas and not drive anywhere. I saw a most depressing show on Bill Moyers last night. It was about the abject poverty that some people are living in. Especially the elderly. Food banks are running out of food, and soup kitchens are now serving more families than every before. And then to insult that emotion, they did a segment on subsidies that the government is paying some farmers. So--some farmers in Texas and other places have figured out it is best to just not farm that land, and just bank the money from the subsidy. It is a LOT of money. Some farmers put the crop in storage, bank the subsidy, and when the price for the crop goes up, they sell the corn or whatever. Oh, and in Texas they showed a tiny acreage that was called something like a farmette. Enough that someone could build a HUGE house and have enough to put a horse in back. They are selling the land with the promise of subsidy from the government!

Anyway, my girlfriend sent me a cartoon yesterday that showed a couple sitting at their kitchen table with their rebate check in their hands. He turns to her and says, "Should we pay for our prescriptions, pay our electric bill, or should we just put gas in the car?" Sad, isn't it? If I get a rebate check it will be for bills, too. The last time I got a rebate check it was taxed the next year as income. So what's the deal?

Anyway, I did not mean to rant and rave. It is a blessing that I have so much. And with that I will go back to trying to make fringe out of knitted mohair! What a task!