Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stand By Me

I'm usually not a bandwagon type person, but having seen this on a few blogs already, I'm jumping on with both feet and adding this here for your enjoyment.

You can find out more about Playing For Change here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Convert

Hey guys meet Joyce!

Joyce is one of my new Rav peeps. She is a new sock knitter that will very soon become an experienced sock knitter....she's really cranking them out! On Sunday she mentioned in our Illin' Knitter group (Ravelry link) that she wanted to learn about koolaid dyeing. Um yeah like I was going to let that desire of one so close to me go unfulfilled. :o)

Yesterday Joyce came over to my house to play.

And why do you suppose this woman looks so happy standing at a kitchen sink, cuz she was then the very proud (and deservedly so) owner of 2 two new hand dyed sock yarns and a yummy alpaca for a yet to be determined bit of knitterly goodness. See?

Ooops the yellow/orange/pink pic didn't come out. Go to Joyce's blog to see much better pix! It was very good day and we plan on having many more. We already have a few more adventurous dyeing jobs to think about, like making our own sock and scarf blanks.

Wanna see what I did? Actually I didn't really have a plan, I just pulled out a bunch of different things just in case Joyce was not able to find appropriate yarn on such short notice. She did find some for herself so I had lots of option sitting on the table. I had some naked KnitPicks in lace wt and sock wt. I had 5 skeins of Sirdar Balmoral which is a dk wt 72% wool, 25% alpaca, and 3% silk, in a light sage green. I had 5 skeins of Louet Riverstone 100% wool bulky/chunky wt in a light dust blue. I had just bought this stuff during one of Webs recent clearance sales. And I also had two bunches of rovings, both from the Motherload. One bunch of natural undyed, 130 grams, and the other already dyed in an I'll-never-wear-it-autumnal-golden-orange, 247 grams.

I decided to begin with the already dyed roving. I may have mentioned this before but it's apparent that the person who dyed this stuff from the Motherload did two things I would have done differently. 1) she must have used a combination dyestuff like Rit or something cuz the amount of the dye that bleeds out is incredible, and not usable, not for wool anyway (I've tried, hmm make note, throw a bunch of cotton in there next time) and 2) she didn't set nor even rinse the fibers after dyeing.

So anyway getting by those troubles is no big deal and I soldiered on. I began making thin streaks, black and brown, on the roving using a drinking straw as my tool.

It took a really long time. For the next batch I used a paint brush MUCH faster. Duh.

After Joyce left I decided given I had everything already out and sitting there, I'd do two more batches. I drop the Riverstone in a big pot making the light dusty blue a navy blue, and while that simmered I'd dye the natural roving.

I laid the roving out like above but this time I mixed my dye (burgundy) in a little 2oz fine spray bottle and sprayed one side. I flipped the whole thing over and then sprayed it with electric purple and royal blue. Put another layer of plastic wrap on it, rolled it up, and zapped it.

After all that roving was done I checked on the big pot and while the yarn had taken on some nice shades of blue there was still sooooo much dye in the pot it hadn't even lighted up even a tiny bit! Dang this dye is CONCENTRATED!!!!!! (see below for dye info)

Out came the Riverstone and in went the Balmoral. I do have to confess that I did add a touch more dye to the pot cuz I didn't want it all the same blue. I added a tiny bit of forest green and smidgen of black.

When the Balmoral was done simmering there was STILL dye in the water so I threw in both the lace wt and sock KnitPicks. Finally around 10:15 PM the dye was exhausted but not nearly as exhausted as I was! :o)

So here is what I've got:

Balmoral, overdyed icky autumnal hued roving and the spray dyed natural roving.

I'm hoping this spins up into some tweedy goodness. Below is the Balmoral, just look at what 3% silk does for this yarn! This close up of the Balmoral is what it really looks like, not as bright as it looks in the group pic, nice and smokey.

The spray dyed roving.

The next pic is the Riverstone, and the KnitPicks.

My camera hates blues!!!! The picture below is the Riverstone and closer to the real color than the pic above but it still is much darker than even this pic. I don't know what to say about the KnitPick photos. The lace wt. is more purple/wine color very dark and deep and the green has a lot more life to it and much deeper in color. Tell ya what, put a navy filter over your eyes and then you'll see the colors better.

I'm thinking of using the lace wt doubled for a pair of sock cuz although I like making lace I don't wear it. Of course the sock wt merino (green) will be socks, and then of course the rovings will both be socks.......uh oh, I think Joyce's enthusiasm for socks must be contagious!

Ok, I gotta git, the tweedy roving is calling me.

Dye Info:
AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color
Purchased online from Into The Oven
Very good prices and this soft gel is sooooo easy to mix, much easier than Wilton's paste.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whirling Dervish I

I finally got around to winding up the plied, still languishing on the bobbins, Whirling Dervish I project. This yarn is the stuff I tried to to dye then spin, hoping to get a Kauni type yarn. You can see further explanations of my adventure doing this here, and here.

I had some issues today with one my swifts. It decided to fall apart halfway through the winding process, but I salvaged it as best I could and wound on. It's a shame I wound this up stairs in the front room, the lighting as terrible for photos and it looked so pretty on the swift.

Then my ball winder decided to develop a wobble.....sigh. I adjusted it as much as I could, there really wasn't anything wrong, except one tiny, thing. It seems the cone part of my ball winder itself has become warped......sigh. I never dreamed that could happen but it has. I usually have this winder set up ready to wind at all times on an old wooden ironing board I've cut, and bored holes and slots into to accommodate my sifts and winders. It's kinda like a "winding station" in my workroom. Unfortunately, way back, when we were having those bats flying around in the house, I wasn't very comfortable upstairs at night so my swifts and winders found themselves off their appointed places on the winding station and literally scattered around the house. The winder I used today had been sitting on a table, on its side, in the sunlight months(?). Now the cone part is lopsided....sigh

It now winds some pretty ugly balls. Notice the concave-y-ness of those balls? That is only part of the problem, it doesn't show up too much in the pix but see how one side of each ball is kind of loopy? That's cuz the ball itself is waaay taller on that side then the other and it falls inward.....sigh.

But I am pretty happy with the yarn itself. :o)

Definitely not my colors but I think it will work well and be wearable in a colorwork pattern. I think I'll pair it with a dark navy for the groundwork.

In other knitting/spinning news I don't have a lot to show you. Yes I've been spinning it is just more fiber from the Motherload in shades of brown. Pretty boring pix so I won't bother. I've been knitting a lot of little things lately. A few scarves, neckwarmers and some gaunlets any one, all, or none will be for a fund raising event my SIL is helping organize. I couldn't decide just what kind of knitted/handmade item she wanted or what might be desirable to people I don't even know so I'm making several, they can pick and chose or not.

I'll have pix and details on those pieces as soon as I get them all blocked. I'm saving them all for one big day of blocking...hope I have enough pins! LOL

Monday, October 20, 2008


This past Saturday was the SpinIn sponsored by the Bishop Hill Fiber Guild. It was fabulous as always. The men and women of the guild have once again out done themselves. It is/was a fiber filled day at an extremely low, low, price. Tell me please, when you have ever gone to a fiber conference and the total cost of attendance plus lunch with choice of attending two classes throughout the day (not to mention the on going knitting, crocheting, drop spindle, and spinning workshops) was $18.00 ($12 w/o lunch) for the early bird registration and a whopping $21.00 ($15.00 w/o lunch) for day of registration. Guess I should have posted a reminder of the upcoming SpinIn rather than reviewing it after the fact, huh. Just to rub it in and be a bigger schmuck than I am being right now, you can go here and see what you missed.

I promise to remind you guys before it happens next year, but just in case I forget next year too...mark your calendars for the 2nd Saturday in October, it typically falls on that day.

I didn't actually take any classes this year, I was too busy hanging with met-for-the-first-time-in-real-life Ravelry peeps! I also spent a good deal of time hanging out in the spinning wheel circle. Part of my circle time was spent teaching a wanna be spinner, Sister Mary Stephen, and briefly helping Sister Mary Lawrence, and Brother Gregory also wanna be spinners. It totally flipped me out that they were there and I was compelled to help them. I don't why, I suppose cuz the whole full habit thing churned up childhood memories of Sister Mary Francis one of my best loved teachers. Thank god Sister Lizarian didn't come to mind otherwise I would have fled screaming incoherently and prob'ly found later cowering in a bale of fleece fretting over the specter of ruler blistered palms. The other part of my circle time was spent wheel hopping. There were several types and brands of wheels for anyone to try. Louet, Ladybugs, Ashfords, etc.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not really in the market for a new wheel. I love Levi my Babe's Fiber Garden Wheel. But I did want to see how well Levi held his own compared to other wheels on the market. Levi did beautifully. IMHO he out did most brands and styles, was dead even with one other, but did lose just a tad bit to the new objects of my lust.
Majacraft's Little Gem and a woolee winder. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

But I like Jimmy Carter will merely lust in my heart. I'm not going to spend that much $$ for a wheel, nor for a woolee winder. Although you won't hold it against me if I do succumb will you?

And to continue in the same frame of mind, or rather a lusting heart...

While I did not attend any classes at SpinIn one of the classes I was considering was the class on spinning luxury fibers. At the end of the day I ran into the teacher and mentioned that I had considered attending her class and she graciously offer me the handouts for the class and all the fiber samples. YUM!

Most of the samples are in sliver, top, and cloud forms. The fibers themselves are Quivet, Quivet/silk blend, Camel, Baby Camel, Cashmere, Mohair lock, Silk top and Silk hankie, Yak and Bison. YUM YUM YUM More lusty reporting after I get a chance to spin these fibers will be forth coming.

I haven't knitted a stitch since Saturday. I've been spinning, thus all of Whirling Dervish I is spun. So far so good, I can't wait to begin plying! Unfortunately most of what you can see here is yellow but believe me there are plenty of other colors in there. :o)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Seeing Red

...but not in a bad way.

The other day Joe and I went into town. We were running the usual errands, one of which is to go to UFS. Let me tell you about UFS, it is a, um, "unique" store. It has just about everything you can think of from appliances, furniture, stationary, household goods, clothing, food and alcohol, personal care/makeup, toys, construction materials, the list goes on and on and every bit of it is "displayed" in a no frills fashion. Completely without frills, picture huge dump bins and boxes with the tops cut off that on occasion have some sort of alignment that almost reassembles rows and aisles. The lighting is poor, the flooring is, well, mostly non-existent and what is there is waaay older than me even though they sell flooring! It's also in lousy part of town.

OTHO I love it. It is a family owned business. I can't be sure when it was first established, but it's been in the same location since it opened it's doors and is now with it's second (third?) generation of owners. I wouldn't be surprised if generation #3 (#4) won't soon be taking over. The original name was the "Unclaimed Freight Store", thus the variety and variability of the inventory. To be fair though nowadays there is a substantial portion of their inventory that is constant having picked up distributorships of some name brands ie GE appliances, Ashley Furniture. They also have an excellent liquor/wine department. That is the reason we visit UFS so frequently. No other store can touch their prices and if you buy by the case, well nuff said.

Sooooo the other day while doing our wine run at UFS I poked around the boxes and bins and found a perfect knitting bag for $7.99.

Technically it is a tool "box". It is made of canvas and has a tough plastic tray like bottom, all the better not to stain when placing it on the floor at knit night right?. The interior has pockets all around, there are pockets on the outside, and it comes with a removable shoulder strap. Oh and the coolest part, notice how the zipper across the tops curves down the side giving the whole bag a shape similar to a Doctor's bag? When opened the zipper kinda pops open wide exposing everything making every corner of the interior easily accessible.

Isn't that the coolest???? In the last pic is one half of a bulky weight sweater plus all the yarn needed to make the second half. All zipped up the dimensions are 16 x 9 at the base and it is 9.5 inches tall (remember the doctor bag/triangular shaping) Open it is 16 x 9 x 11.5

Moving on from small thrills to bigger ones, I finished Pretty in Red. Here is Vivian wearing it. I couldn't stop her, she just had to put it on before I got it blocked.

I struggled it away from her and it's now blocking on the day bed in my workroom.

Pretty in Red specs:
Pattern: Drops 105-1
Yarn: Classic Elite Four Seasons 9 balls (927 yards) 70% cotton 30% wool
I also held a strand of a random lace wt. mohair blend to meet gauge.
Needles: size 6 & 7

Modifications: Not too many, pretty much stitch for stitch per pattern til I came to the sleeves. I found the sleeve directions leaving something to be desired, um, like an ending stitch count. Granted I could have figured it out knowing what I started with and calculating what would be left after the decreases, but given the occasional iffy translations I winged the sleeve cap on my own. I also originally placed 5 buttonholes but then decided to close up the lower 2 button holes, partly cuz I only had 3 of the buttons I wanted to use. Oh yeah and I also made the sleeves a tad bit longer cuz their 3/4 sleeves hit me just above the elbow. If you plan on making this yourself, check the sleeve length I do have freakishly long arms.

The Four Seasons was a pleasure to use. I used it cuz this is a sweater for Gillian who doesn't need heavy winter woolies living in Savannah. If she doesn't like it I'll keep myself. :o)

Thursday, October 09, 2008


OK peeps you know once I get something in my brain I just gotta do it, right? So for the last month or so I've been working on a new sweater. Not necessarily any particular sweater, but more like a method of making a sweater wwith a variety of design elements. So far I'm on "Prototype VII" Yep, that's a seven, and no, I haven't really knitted 7 sweaters, but I have made 7 half sweaters. Let's not count the sketches OK? I can get carried away at times it seems. lol

It's been great fun churning up the gray matter like this. To be brief, the construction isn't all that special per se. It starts at the cuff and meets in the middle. I'm thrilled with the set in sleeve without the need for seaming though. You know me and seaming....ICK. So like I said, I've been churning out various renditions of the theme. I've got it worked in a bulky gauge (11 sts to 4 inches) and in a much smaller gauge (6 stitches to 4 inches). I've got cables meandering around, peplums, empire waists with full flirty lower bodices, as well as 40's-50's style swing coat variety, not to mention v-neck, crew, cardigan and pullover. Waaaay too many sweaters to comprehend and that's not counting those in my Ravelry queue! LOL

On Saturday the Antropologies group on Ravelry turned me on to this sweater. It's not from an Antropologies catalog but it can be purchased at Barney's in NY.

I dang near fell off my chair. Aside from the Rev. Stk. St and the over size collar, it is nearly identical to my Prototype V! LOL So ya know, I had to make it, just cuz I could.

I really hate the increases and decreases I used on this, and I'm not really thrilled with the yarn either, but it was merely an exercise in mimicry so why bother with the good stuff. Right? I have now begun in another in better yarn, and I'm changing the increases and decreases so they don't look so weird. I'm also going to make it with more of me and less of Barney in it. Exactly which of the "me" variations I haven't decided yet but I'll let you know as soon as I do.

I'm thrilled Fall is here, it's been sweater weather for a couple of weeks now. Love it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fall has Fallen

The trees have only just begun to give a us a slight glimmer of the colors that lie within their leaves, but I know it's Fall. It's not merely because the thermometer tops out around 62 everyday and dips to the mid-40's at night it is cuz this happened yesterday.

The farmer dude came and edged out the field. The beans have been turning for a few weeks now and soon they will be not much more than twigs with pods, all dried out and perfect for harvest. Edging out the field is one last step to hasten the drying out of the plants. I imagine the farmers around here have been doing a happy dance lately. Even though we got oceans of rain recently, the weather has been ideal for pre-harvest drying. Strong sun, and cool temps suck the moisture out of everything. Summer has ended, Fall has fallen.

I suppose another indicator of the changing season is Oktoberfest. We had our three-day festival this pass weekend. A good time was had by all. No pix to share with you this time. It would be kind of silly to show photos of Joe and I in the same costumes as last year, although next year there are sure to be photos of the days leading up to the event. Joe bought a new hat to go with his Lederhosen. The pair he has now are black, his new hat is dark green. He'll need a green pair for next year. Good thing I have some green suede in my stash!

On the fiber front there's been some spinning and plenty of knitting done of late but not really worth bloggin about. Miles of spun singles and oceans of stockinette/moss stitch is not thrilling to those who are only watching. I'm still working on Gillian's Pretty in Red. sweater, body done and sleeves begun.

OK, that's sort of a lie. The body isn't totally done, I don't think. If you look closely at the pic you'll see the shoulder stitches are on holding threads and they each have tiny balls of yarn hang from them. I do this with almost every top I make. I get to the supposed bind off point and keep the stitches live with a length (a few row worth) of yarn still attached. I just think it makes it easier for any adjustments that might be needed later. Ripping out something that has been bound off ticks me off to no end. It's a make or break deal for me. If I bound off these stitches right now and then discovered that I needed one or two more rows on a shoulder the whole thing would never get done. The sweater would languish in the blackhole of UFO's for all eternity. Only needing 19 stitches unbound, a row or two of those 19 stitches knitted and then bound off again. What would you say, 10 minutes of work after how many hours invested? It's silly, I know, but there you have it.

Papa G, the bulky remake of the Mr. Greenjeans sweater, wasn't enough to quell my need for bulky woolie knitting so I started something else the other day. A chunky car coat that I'm sort of winging as I go along. I was merrily knitting away on it and it was flying off the needles. See? this is what it looked like a few days ago.

I stopped knitting on the bodice shortly after the colorwork and began the sleeves. I figured I would make the sleeves and then knit the length as far as my stash would allow, hopefully fingertip length. What happened next I care not to show you even if I could. Both sleeves complete, with a colorwork band that lined up perfectly with that of the band on the bodice. But wait! Did it really line up?? Something wasn't quiet right. It looked funky and wonky and not merely cuz it was not blocked, there was something else about it I couldn't put my finger on. Then it hit me. I hadn't worked the same the colorwork pattern. The pattern on the bodice is a fretwork pattern, the pattern I worked on the sleeves was a Greek key pattern.

Ooops. Although, "oops" wasn't the word I used.

I have since ripped out both sleeves all the way up to the armpit so it once again looks similar to the blue blob in the photo above. I ripped all the way up cuz not only did the pattern not match, neither did the stitch multiple. All the figuring I had done for the decreases was wrong.

Bummer. Although "bummer" wasn't the word I used.

I haven't touched it since. I have looked at it a few times. Is it just me, or is my sweater mocking me? Take a quick glance. Doesn't this look an awful lot like a row of Swastikas to you?