Monday, February 28, 2005

okay, okay

because someone is a whiner :P here's me in the sweater, for pete's sake, with a bonus Tim dancing in the background:
In my defense, I wasn't trying on the sweater 'cause I was all cozied up in my footie pajamas:

and I gotta say, the stylesheets and I really just don't get along very well. I have no idea why my font got so big just 'cause I put it in a table. Grr.

secret no more

A sweater has been achieved! The Top Secret sweater had become a trademark, of sorts. It accompanied me to meetup back in August, it went to many other knitting events, including a yarn party this past weekend. It was reconfigured and its pattern changed (I went from the Knitty pattern to the Ann Budd book's sweater pattern) and now it is done. Which is not to say that it didn't put up a fight.

After finishing it up (and it was done in the Elizabeth Zimmerman style in the round, so there was very little finishing to begin with), the sleeves were a couple of inches too short. So, I unravelled from the cast-on end of one sleeve (which is a big, big pain, since the stitches don't just undo themselves, but rather need to be coerced), and added a few rows of seed stitch, which was my pattern for the sleeves largely because the pattern's call for 4 rounds of purl wasn't stopping my sweater from rolling. At that point, there were 7 rounds of seed, which was just too many for a sleeve edge. So, I unravelled what I'd knit, and then the rest of the seed, and did a few rows each of stockinette and rib instead. Then, I noticed that I'd missed half a row of seed, and re-unravelled, and finally fixed everything. The second sleeve took a little less time to fix, but by then, my wrist was killing me. I couldn't just stop, though, so I went against what I'm sure is common wisdom and put on my wrist brace and finished up.

Good thing that worked, 'cause here's the remaining yarn after finishing the sweater:

And now, these two yarns need to become something:

I tried a simple scarf, but I don't think I like the way they interact:

Any ideas?

Friday, February 25, 2005

photography 101

Today, I'm extra-sensitive to the sun that streams into my window and disappears as I sit at the computer, writing this and watching Buffy season two on DVD. A bit ago, I spent some quality time out in the cold and the snow, trying to capture the rays between the cloud cover. Yep, it's a little early for sunbathing, but there's no time like the present to get some pics of the newly-dyed yarns so that we can put them up on the website. I learned that I have no concept for where to put the shadows, which side of the yarn to stand on, or much else when it comes to capturing my yarns at their most photogenic. I have no photojournalism instincts when it comes to yarn photography, nor photo-editing. But, I persevered. Here's one of my favorites:

Also, the latest handspun -- the rovings were similarly-colored, but I Navajo plyed (plied?) this one:

and I regularly plyed these two:

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Someone out there is doing something with my pretty blue merino handspun, which was purchased from the Folk Art Studio in Bowie. One of my felted bags also sold. I am now remotivated to spin and knit more (and get the dyed yarns ready to put up on the website -- if I can earn enough money to support my habit hobby, I will be thrilled.

And, since I don't have pictures of anything current in my office, I bring you sheep in shirts from last year's Sheep and Wool Fest:

Just a few months away, and the website has been updated!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

over a mile of color

What did I do from 11:30-7:30 or so on Saturday (or should I say, what did Paula and I do)? DyeFest I, 2005!

First, Tim and I did some grocery shopping, during which I picked up a new pair of rubber gloves, and two bottles of organic lemonade, so that I could empty them into a pitcher and use the nice glass bottles for dye storage. I put a bunch of skeins and some synthrapol (soap) into a big bowl to soak.

Then, Paula came by and the three of us took a quick trip to Home Depot and Linens n Things for masks, a drop cloth, measuring cups and spoons, and a bucket.

Back at the homestead, we toted the dyes, a big pot of hot water, the electric tea kettle, measurers, bowls, and storage containers out to the garage. I am trying to keep toxic dye powders out of the house.

We mixed a solution of each of the colors for which we had dye powders (black, red, yellow, blue, moss green, deep purple, and fuschia), by adding powder to boiled water, and then created a few new colors by mixing together some of the dye solutions (dark red, a greenish-turquoise, orange). Each of these went into a separate container (plastic and glass bottles we had been hoarding), and then everything went back into the house.

Put down the dropcloth in the kitchen, set up a couple of roasting pans and a crock pot (purchased at a thrift store) with water and citric acid crystals (fixative), and let the water warm up. Then, the dyeing began!

We went through 1.5 miles or so of handspun and pre-purchased yarns. There are a dozen or so colorways, 1-4 skeins of each. They dried on the weight bench overnight, and then got some fresh air the next day. This picture doesn't really do them justice, but then, neither have any of the pics I've taken yet, so hopefully you'll get some more when the sun comes out and I'm home and photo-happy again. The yarns should be coming soon to a yarn store or craft fair near you!

Thursday, February 17, 2005


I admit it - I didn't make it to meetup last night because I had a headache. No, really -- I went biking in the cold and wind, and it gave me a headache. There was that, and the fact that I had nothing on needles that was really meetup-friendly. I have the afghan, which requires paying attention (and toting a lot of yarn), the sweater, which I haven't picked up in a month, so I don't even know where I am right now, and the clogs, which only had two rows left before they were done. It is time to start something new and portable -- I just have to figure out what.

So instead of going to meetup, I finished and felted my clogs from the Fiber Trends pattern while watching the new episode of West Wing and some Queer as Folk DVDs from Netflix. Hoorah!



I haven't snipped off ends or anything fancy yet, but they're done! They took three skeins of Cascade 220 (two in the main color, one in the contrast), two size 13 circulars, and a decent amount of paying attention. The shaping is done in short-ish rows, but they aren't really that short. For example:

k1, m1, k29, m1, k1, m1, k16, wrap and turn (w&t), k25, w&t, k15, m1, k2, m1, k1, m1, k2, m1, k28, m1, k1.

That's a lot of paying attention just to get through row 2 of the pattern. I've noticed that when I'm counting stitches, somewhere in the teens, it takes a lot more concentration to remember what number I'm on, and what row in the instructions it corresponds to. I think I'll be retyping this pattern from small font in two columns on blue paper, to large font, single column, white paper, just to make it a little easier.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

in need of some acrylic?

I don't know how I manage to accumulate so much acrylic yarn. A lot of it is from non-knitters who somehow end up with yarn and give it to me. Some of it I've had for awhile. In any case, I want it to go away. I don't know if this ugly link will work, but I think that if you go here, you will see five yarn auctions, and one auction for a pair of boots. If not, search by seller, and my seller ID is k8fc, and you'll see all of the yarns that are cluttering up my living room until they sell. I just donated a huge box of yarn to charity, so I feel like I can try to get a little back for the current lot.

Also, I'm home today, which means some knitting has been accomplished. I'm almost done with the second of my to-be-felted clogs. This pic is one of the last steps of knitting the first one, which required a three-needle bind-off with size 13 needles. Ick.

the dyes have arrived

Although I accidentally left all of the squeeze bottles in NYC (they'll be winging their way to Maryland today, hopefully), the Prochem dyes and soap and citric acid crystals have all arrived!

And then the mailperson brought these:

I think that next weekend will be the beginning of DyeFest (or was it this weekend? Paula will remind me...)

This week is also meetup, and I hope to make it there tomorrow, for a change.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

yarn diet in effect

and this, my friends, is why I am not buying any more yarn until May's Sheep and Wool Festival:

That is approximately 280 quarts of yarn. I know that it's less than some people have, but it's more than I can have and not feel guilty for having. This doesn't include my current projects, or my handspun yarn. Oy.
i am for sale

k8knits handspun and woolarina handspun yarns are both on sale at the Bowie Folk Art Studio right now! About six skeins of mine and a couple of felted bags, have finally left my house and gone out to see the world, freeing up some space in my storage tubs. Between the yarn diet and the sending my stuff away, I'm down to 3 giant Tupperwares instead of four. It's a good feeling. However, once I actually get my yarns organized (i.e., not all over the floor, stuffed in bags and baskets and computer paper boxes), I will likely have refilled the fourth, but at least it'll be organized. That will be a project to be done during Project Runway and West Wing this evening.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Dye Days of Midwinter

It is official - Paula and I have purchased a bunch of real, toxic, chemical dyes with which to paint our yarns. I knew that having a garage in the middle of my back yard would come in handy for something -- that will become the dye kitchen of sorts, complete with crock pots and hot plates. Hopefully, the weather will stay mild enough that we can hang out there and not freeze.

On the needles right now is the first of a pair of Felted Clogs from -- the pattern was fun, and my first experience working with Cascade 220. We'll see how it felts.

Friday, February 04, 2005


I started this thing in...March, was it? Or perhaps May? It feels like a long, long time ago. It has been abused by being stuffed into multiple different bags, and it has seen NY, MD, MN, IL, and Ireland. Soon, it will wing its way to California to Tim's mom, as a late Christmas present.

The picture doesn't really do it justice -- it's meant to be photographed over a pretty black dress or something, not on a towel, blocking in the living room. Ah well, at least it's done, and it's here in the virtual archives.

The stats:
2 3/4 skeins of Stacy Charles Ritratto Yarn (28% Mohair; 53% Viscose; 10% Polyamide; 9% polyester) at 198 yards per skein, knit on size 9 needles in a feather and fan pattern with some border stitches on each side. Approximately 6' long by 18" wide.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

to dye for

Paula and I went to a dye workshop at Dancing Leaf Farms last weekend, and it was fabulous! We got some good tips on dye technique, but mostly, it was great to see a small, fiber-centered business thriving. I want a dye kitchen in my basement! After the workshop, we dyed a bunch of roving in my normal, old kitchen, and it's gotten me back into spinning more than I had been recently.

I threw some locks into the dyepot after most of the dye was exhausted, and apparently, there was mostly green left over:

The locks were free from the friend of mine who sold me the wheel -- pretty jumbled up, so they mostly make very rough, wool yarn. I've enjoyed learning a little about processing from carding and/or combing them, but the yarn isn't good for much outside of felted pet toys. In any case, they spun up into 185 yards of this:

And now I'm working on turning this:

into this: