Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
Welcome to Two Left Needles Sign in | Join | Help

January 2006 - Posts

Thanks for the supportive posts the last few days, it is mucho appreciated.

After the blogging break last night I went back and decided, enough "playing", let's make something real. Well, actually, it was more like... Hmm, I'm out of random fiber and everything else is either handdyed or luxury... guess I have to make something real. Luxury we'll leave for another day. Who spins cashmere, yak or camel on their second run? Hmph. Ditto alpaca. That left undyed Finn and Corriedale, and some handdyeds (doesn't that word look weird? Wait, it sounds weird, too). After little thought I chose the handdyed superwash merino from Paradise Fibers (photo here), since I have 8 oz of it and it's enough to make something real with room for error. And it's purty. As I spun, I hummed classical tunes, just like the last time I spun on a Joy.

37: Superwash Winter Solstice

Socks. It will be socks. :)

Project: Part I

You'll have to see this in pieces. It's a lot to take in. Today we'll look at the "before":

Yarn Room
Upon entering the Yarn room: Chair o' handspun. Covered desk. Yarn on the floor.

Yarn Room
Turning slightly to the right: More yarn on the floor. Box o' fiber. Bins stacked high.

Yarn Room
Turning to the right: More yarn on the floor. Lotsa bins in wire shelves.

Common theme: lots of yarn on the floor. Lots of piles. No walking room, no room for a wheel.

Actually, common theme: Lots. O'. Yarn. Told you it was a lot to take in. In my "defense"... I've been knitting for 25 years... Hehehe, it's not like any of it is from when I was 8.

Coming soon: Part II - Construction.

It's here.

You'll have to settle for crappy photos. And, no "play by play", it was open, set up and spin! A mini skein and a good bit of hunger later I grabbed some chili and the camera. My little Joy:

Wheel is here!

She's as easy to spin as I remembered.

I started with the last of my Coopworth but plied with some shiny rayon stuff:

36: First wheel yarn

I've wanted to do something like this for a while, but didn't want to venture it on a spindle. It was done carefree and quick and I'm not sure I like the colors together, but I don't care, I'm just playing! I didn't worry about about much beyond drafting and treadling, and while plying, was more focused on the final look than proper twist for balance or anything like that. Oh yeah, and getting each ply to unwind off the bobbin/cone. It's a mini skein and a full twist overplied, and the Coopworth doesn't really lend itself to being next to something so shiny... or does it?

I can see that it will be a while before I am comfortable and even and in control and all that, I have plenty to learn. All in good time. But for now, aaaaaahhhhhh, I have a wheel.

A project!

That's not all the excitement 'round these parts. This weekend was spent doing:

Working on...

something very cool. More soon!

PS:  Note to self: next time a wheel or something equally exciting is wending its way to you, don't check the status before bed. You won't get any sleep.

Madness. I've been checking 6 times a day for the last few days (incredible restraint!), and there has been no change! My wheel is somewhere between here and Seattle:

Wheel progress

I imagine it wending it's way here, over hill, over dale, through bush, through briar (Shakespeare, just the last bit; probably remembered it wrong). I'd love to be more specific about the landscape in these visions: corn fields? meadows? mountains? It's due to arrive Monday. I've managed to refrain from believing it might be here sooner. Good thing, I would have been sorely disappointed. 2 more days I can wait. It could be late, though... but I won't think about that today.

I've had plenty to distract me. The Jacquard Acid Dyes I ordered from Dharma Trading arrived! I ordered the primaries and black, though just what are considered primaries is a subject worthy of debate.

Squatting in the kitchen, with mask, fan and latex gloves on, newspapers laid out, hair tied, scale at the ready, heated distilled water (we're on well water here and it's a bit reddish; I'm guessing the prepared dyes will go bad sitting with whatever is in our water), and a few other items, I measured out 1% solutions of each:

Mixed Jacquard Dyes

It was a bit stressful, what with not really knowing what I was doing, worrying about the dyes floating about, not wanting to knock a jug over and inadvertently dyeing the kitchen... I'm clumsy, after all. But all worked out well. Until I tried to fill the smaller containers:

Red dye

Half again of the above ended up on the newspaper. A mess! The lip of the larger container is not conducive to pouring; we're actively pursuing solutions chez 2LN.

Some supplies I picked up last night might help:

Dyeing Supplies

Well, maybe just the funnel... Except for the turkey basters, all at the Dollar Store! Drop cloth, plastic storage containers, a measuring cup, latex gloves and a large funnel set, and the plastic bowl. A buck per! And the turkey basters were only $1.76 at Shaw's. The black gloves cost much more than a buck, they were bought a year ago.

In all the only discoloration of floor or body occurred:

Dyeing - blue thumb

due to the blue Sharpie I used for marking the containers.

Knitting too

Creamsicle T is still in pieces:

Creamsicle T - in pieces

I haven't been in a blocking mood while fighting the cold/flu. And actually, I'm thinking of seaming and then wet blocking, since I want to give it a quick wash before wearing. I usually block then seam; at last check (when I started the project) I was getting gauge so it's just to get the rolly polliness ousted. If the seaming is too much of a pain, especially at the shoulders, then I'll have to block.

Since I couldn't pour out any more dyestuff, I worked on Gram's Socks. At last check in (11/21), I was a few inches past the heel (ie, almost done), but had to rip back because it didn't fit (last sock photo). It fit fine up to the mid-foot; from there, her foot gets wider, which is something I couldn't have foreseen.

I am horrible at dealing with complete setbacks like that. So the sock languished and I focused on holiday knits.

Well, I've had just over 2 months to brood and mope and brainstorm. Last night I finally ripped back to the last set of toe increases, added one more set of increases, knit 5 rows plain, and then increased 1 stitch every 4 for 4x1 ribbing. I figure ribbing will be most forgiving, and adding the extra stitches will hardly affect the finished silhouette, while adding plenty of room to stretch. I imagine that even with her currently swollen feet, she would be able to fit into these!

Gram's Socks - restarted foot

The added bonus is the knitting is more interesting; every other needle I have something to do! Plain socks at this gauge is not for me.

I lost my Seaweed Love scarf and Blue Biffle Wristwarmers, hadn't seen them in a week. I kept hoping they would turn up, but they didn't. Then, after all-you-can-eat-sushi at Minado, I found my knit hat on the ground next to the Mini. All I could think was, did I leave the scarf in some parking lot? Is it gone?

Two days later I started pulling out knitted gifts for the trip to NC, mostly scarves. It got to me. I interrupted Scott mid-sentence, blurted, "I lost my scarf and my wristwarmers, I don't know where they are, I haven't seen them for a week, I hope they're not in some parking lot like my hat."

We immediately started a house-wide search. Living room, bedroom, computer room.

"I found it!" Seaweed Love was in my yarn room, hidden by yarn from a recent project!

We searched on for Blue Biffle Wristwarmers, but no luck. I started to give up when Scott said something, "pocket" something. Lightbulb - fleece pocket! In the fleece vest pocket, zipped up secure, piled under layers of clothes, Blue Biffle Wristwarmers.

He was happy for me when I was in the clouds after learning to spin. He doesn't say much when the yarn and projects creep into every room, though he's allergic to most of it. He'll drop everything to find a lost knit, or calm my hysteria after seeing anything moth-like in the yarn room. He'll try on wool wristwarmers again and again as I figure out the design, despite itch and irritation. That's a lotta love.

Happy sometime around now Birthday, Scott!*

*Scott does not like his birthdate to be known.

I never liked using "anniversary" for anything other than years. Monthiversary, 3 month anniversary, don't like 'em. I suppose Monthiversary is better, technically, than a 3 month anniversary, but still... blech.

You know why I've been tired lately? I'm fighting a cold. Yep, I finally put 6 and 6 together and got 2. That was the first sign. I've been tired, feeling wiped towards the end of the work day, moderate congestion the past few days (another sign), and couldn't smell dinner last night until I was almost on top of it. Right now I could use a good 12 hour nap, and despite my protestations, I think I will go to bed early. While grumbling. (I hates going to bed early...) Scott suggested some cognac, but you know me, I'd just end up lying down with my cheek to the cool floor. He offered to monitor my alcohol level (in the glass, silly) and get me headed to bed, too. But I think I have to be a (sniff, sniff) big kid on this... even if

I don't want to go to bed! It's not even 8 o'clock! It's not fair, I never get to do anything fun!

Right now I'm thinking it's a good thing the cognac is still in the bottle...

It's been a fun 3 months and I've enjoyed getting to know you out there and letting you get to know me. If the contest entries are any indication, then more people can't post comments on my blog than can. While frustrating, I find this comforting as well. The Yarn Harlot celebrated her 2nd anniversary (in the legitimate sense of the word) yesterday and said she wouldn't write if no one were listening. Same goes for me. She writes to connect to a community, to not feel alone. Why do I write? Some of the same reasons. I've mentioned before, I think, that I've been knitting pretty much on my own for 25 years. I've had to come up with my own solutions, figure things out in the quiet of my mind, revel alone in my accomplishments and mourn my unfixable messes.* When I started reading blogs, I found so much inspiration: solutions, ideas, patterns I had never heard of, people who loved knitting, who knit in public places and didn't feel (or look) like premature grandparents creaking in rockers. Like minded creators. I learned so much from bloggers, and wanted to share my projects, to perhaps inspire someone, or at the least, amuse.

At the same time, it was an opportunity to write. When I was a kid I wanted to be a writer. I forgot that dream through high school and into college, until I took a class on the personal essay. Loved the course, loved the instructor, but as the semester wore on, I stopped writing. Couldn't do it. Serious Blockage. I had a lot going on back then, including issues revealing me. Kinda problematic when you're writing a personal essay, eh? I later took a playwriting course, same problem. Even transferred to 3rd person characters, I couldn't figure out what I was trying to say. I couldn't write the heart of the scene. I've been a journal writer on and off (currently off). I have books on writing that I no longer think to peruse. I stopped self-flagellation years ago.

When it comes down to it, a writer writes. I wasn't doing that before, but I am now. I write. I blog. I knit. I get up an extra 10-15 minutes earlier in the mornings to try for a half-decent sunlit photo. If you know anything about me, that's shocking. And I do it for all the reasons mentioned above. Plus one. To connect. Make some knitterly and spinnerly friends.

I'm not very practiced at making new friends, so bear with me here. I don't always know what to say or do. But, thank you for stopping by, occasionally or daily, and for taking the time to say hello, comment on a project, idea, crazy trapeze expedition, uncontainable wheel ordering excitement. I am sorry that my current setup doesn't allow some people to post comments and hope to remedy that in the future. But I do feel better knowing that there are some out there that would if they could.

* I did have supportive friends and family; just no one who really "got it". You know what I mean.

Blah blah blah, you just want to know who won, eh? ;)

Contest Winners

This contest was so much fun, I'm sure to have more in the future.

It's a tie!

Winner:
Catherine with her enchanting story; I loved the image of needles sprouting arms and legs and faces! I've never had a story written about me, thank you Catherine!

Winner:
Knit_TGZ's entry in the comments. The sense of what you wrote is right on, esp the last sentence, and doing things differently than the norm. My original title for this blog was "I'm Knitting With Only One Needle" from Queen but it was taken.

Honorable mention:
K. Anne:
"Hmmm.  Reminds me of that old saying that someone who could not dance had ""two left feet"".  But since you can obviously knit there has to be something more to it all.  That brings me to this... If there were only two needles left in the world what would you do?  Knit you silly people, knit!"
Of course, now I'm imagining those last 2 needles sprouting arms and legs and faces and procreating to bring knitterly joy back into the world.

Random drawing winners:
Pixie and Bookish Wendy

Thanks for playing!

Winners: 3 more prizes to choose from:

Contest yarn
8 oz thick and thin wool and 2 oz mohair in Bramble Rose

Contest yarn
8 oz loopy mohair in Summer Garden

Contest yarn
7.4 oz bulky (rayon?) chenille in Bouquet

Please choose between these and the ones posted yesterday and email [mygomi at gmail dot com] your top 4 choices plus mailing address. Top winners will have first dibs, and so on.

These are the yarns I picked out for the contest:

Contest yarn
4 oz soft homespun and 4 oz mohair in Purple Haze

Contest yarn
4 oz silk/mohair boucle (really soft!) in ... hmm, don't know the colorway

Contest yarn
8 oz baby mohair loop in Junebug

All Danette Taylor yarns. (Sad thing is, this doesn't much dent my DT stash.) There is enough of each to make some kind of scarf, or even a shawl with the last one.

But then I thought, what if the person who wins doesn't like that color? I know it's free and who are you to complain?? But, I don't want anyone to walk away too disappointed. So, I picked out another 3 sets. Most likely I will give away 3 sets, maybe 4. Who knows? I'll take photos tomorrow morning and post the winners tomorrow night! I think the overall winner will get their pick, and then I'll figure out an order for the others. Fun, fun!

Don't have much else to say today. I've been unusually tired this week. My guess is it's all the excitement from the weekend. Let's see, there was the wheel purchase, gadzooks! and then trapeze school, holy moly! and then seeing Gram not doing so well, sniff, sniff... and loud knitterly company at Knitsmiths. Hmm, yes, I think my body started to shut down somewhere between the wheel purchase and the first swing on the trapeze... or was it on the drive there?

Contest

Tomorrow is your last day to submit contest entries. I've picked out the yarns and will post photos tomorrow!

Ice Creamsicle

Woke up to a few inches of snow today:

Snow!

The clouds diminished lighting so I couldn't get any clear photos today. I did want to show you completed Creamsicle T sleeves, though!

Creamsicle T - sleeves done!

I finished them at Knitsmiths yesterday. I haven't been able to make it to Knitsmiths since early December; they meet on Sunday afternoons, and that's when we go to see Gram. (Gram's not doing so well. Her feet are completely swollen, they say it's nothing to worry about. Poor Gram...) I feel guilty going to Knitsmiths because it means getting to Gram's earlier in the day and either not bringing her favorite Boston Market turkey dinner, or else eating it early in the afternoon only a few hours after she's already eaten. It also means a much shorter visit and a tighter schedule. On top of which, Scott gets dropped off at South Station and takes the train home. All in all it throws chaos and inconvenience into the works; but I enjoy the knitting company and feel like I do need to do something for myself now and then. I'd like to be able to go every few weeks.

Knitting the cap shaping was stressful. I knew I was tight on yardage and brought my swatch to use. Even then it didn't look like enough, yet I was optimistic. With every row I'd look down at what I had left and (panic) wonder, yet knit on. Somehow, it worked out! Here is what's left: the little butterfuly on the right and the remains of the swatch. Boy, that's cutting it close.

Creamsicle T: remaining yarn

Though I had adjusted the body to make it snugger, I decided to knit the sleeves as is. If I had knit the body according to the pattern there is no way I would have had enough yarn, which confuses me. The pattern calls for Araucania Atacama, which is 110 yds to 50g. I used Malabrigo, which is 215 yds to 100g, just slightly less. Here's what gets me: I got the same gauge with the Malabrigo, and the pattern calls for 5 balls Atacama, or 550 yds / 250g, while I had 3 balls Malabrigo, or 645 yds / 300g. I had way more yardage and weight, and I knit a smaller body and I barely had enough. I don't get it. I guess Malabrigo knits a fluffier fabric and therefore takes more yardage?

Oh god. I just realized I have to knit the neck. It's only 1 row then cast off, but... This is going to get ugly.

Since my photos in the morning were crap, I asked Scott to take some photos of the snow for you:

Snow! Snow!
Look at all that snow. It kept piling up after I left; I think we got 7-8" in a few hours.

Snow! Snow!
That must be the rat's eye view of our back porch, followed by the kid's eye view of the front. We have neither in our house. Well, a big kid... okay, a couple of big kids...

Snow!
And of course, our Mini, covered up.

In what's shocking

A whole pile of Alice Starmore yarns went up for bid on eBay last week and sold for over $3,400. $3,400!!! (Here's the link, but you'll only be able to access it for 30 days, I think.) The list of what's included is quite long and the yarns themselves cover up a bed. And by cover up, I mean 3 times over. Naturally I broke it down in Excel: 453 skeins, mostly 1 oz skeins of Scottish Campion, but including 113 skeins of 2 oz Scottish Heather; 566 oz total = just over 35 lbs. That is a lot of yarn. Would you pay $3,400 for yarn? In one fell swoop, I mean, and one kind. Is there any yarn you would pay $3,400 for??

At my last job, after 4 years of showing off sweaters, scarves, baby sweaters, socks, and hearing many times over, "I wish I could make that," and "When are you gonna make me one?" I decided to start a weekly knitting group and teach anyone that wanted to learn how to knit.

I had taught 3, maybe 4 people to knit in my life: my sister (a lefty), and 2 eight year olds. Not a lot of experience, but I've been knitting since I was eight and tutored when I was in high school and was doing some training in my job, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Day one, 6 people, 5 of them new to knitting, including Maria. Thankfully the 6th, Kathryn, knew how to knit and could help out here and there. We started with the cast on where you're essentially doing a knit stitch and then transferring stitches back to the left needle. Took a while to get the hang of it, but the beauty was when they realized they pretty much already knew how to do a knit stitch! Voila, knitting! They started their first project over the next couple of weeks, mostly scarves, and their pride and the way their faces lit up when they showed me their projects in progress was delightful and gratifying. Instead of the "I made that!" jingle that often runs through my head, I thought, "I showed them how to make that!"

Over the next few months, I taught a dozen women of varying experience and ability: all to knit, some to purl, some to cast on long tail, some to fix errors, backtrack, pick up dropped stitches, cable, simple knit-purl patterns, how to read your knitting, and so on. I learned a lot in the process; that's a part of teaching someone else, isn't it? Mostly, I gained confidence in my knitting knowledge and abilities. After spending most of my life knitting alone, I didn't have much to compare to. I knew what I knew, but I didn't know how much it was, and I didn't have much reason to examine my knitting.

My approach was that knitting was not difficult, just took some getting used to and practice. You want to purl? No problem. Fix mistakes? Okey dokey smokey! Backtrack? Simple. Try cabling or basket stitch? Sure, why not? And I brought in lots of projects to inspire and encourage them, mostly scarves: garter stitch knit end to end, simple 2x2 rib, basket stitch, seed stitch - all things most of them could easily tackle.

Teaching affected me in unexpected ways. For example, undoing mistakes used to be painful for me. Sometimes it was the reason I dropped a project. I'd get so disheartened at having to rip back rows and rows to fix a mistake that I'd just drop the project and move on to something else. But with the "sure, no problem" attitude I was preaching, I found I had to live it, too. Fixing mistakes is part of the process. Sometimes, mistakes can be left and no one will know. Sometimes, you need to fix them. I used to consult with Scott on whether or not I should frog on serious mistakes; inevitably, he'd get me to see that I needed to fix it, that I would feel better if it was done right. With my new attitude, I saw it as part of the process. And, I didn't want to scare them off. If I was intimidated by fixing mistakes, wouldn't they be?

You know what happened? I got more adventurous. For example, on my Nothin' But A T, once I had knit the front and back, I tacked the seams and tried it on. Everything below the waist just didn't fit me! I didn't want to frog the whole thing, so I thought about it, and decided to undo a waist row, frog a few inches and reknit it shorter with adjusted shaping, and then graft to the upper stitches. Magic. Challenging, to be sure. Required patience and trust in my skills. But it worked!

Here's a shout out to all of the Knitters Lunch folks, whether or not you're still knitting. Thanks for giving me something to look forward to every week, and inspiring me to become a better knitter!

Maria's knits

Maria took to knitting like I took to spinning. Mostly, she just got it. She understood what was supposed to happen, and with some practice and not much time, she figured out how to do it. In no time at all she finished her first scarf, then her second, and it didn't take long before she made her first sweater (with lace) and was figuring out her own patterns:

Maria, scarf for son
Scarf for her son Silvestre

and combining yarns for cool effects (with short rows to boot):

Maria, scarf for Mom
Short Row Rib scarf from Magknits.com with a thin brown boucle and black yarn, for her mum; doesn't she look happy wearing it?

And, of course, it didn't take long for her to get hooked on Danette Taylor's yarns, too:

Maria, scarf for daughter
Maria's version of Seaweed Love using 100% silk, for her daughter Natasha

and tackle lace:

Maria, scarf for niece
Misty Garden from Scarf Style, using Danette's angora in Violets, for her niece

She's a knitting machine!

Maria, lots of scarves

She kept me on my toes and it didn't take long for me to use jargon with her and discuss projects conceptually, knowing she'd go home and figure out how to do it. I'm still trying to convince her to start her own blog, but seeing as I can't get her to post a comment, it will take a lot more work.

Here's her current work in progress:

Maria, scarf in progress
Scarf on the diagonal using Danette's super soft cotton ripple in Cascades

Knit on, Maria!

Just to be clear --

For those that have a creative bent I hope you are inspired by Cat to come up with your own take on the challenge. It doesn't have to be a story, it doesn't even have to be a sentence! I surely don't want to discourage entries. If anything, I am more likely to feel like more prizes are warranted. So, do submit your contest entries! At the least, you may win the random drawing! And I'm on the high of a new wheel on its way. You could say I'm in a celebratory mood. :D

Look, Ma, no hands!

OH. MY. GOD. Trapeze school was SO MUCH FUN!! Sorry to shout, but holy cow, what a rush! They moved pretty quickly through the instructions and then we were up there, getting ready to go.

I have an extreme fear of heights.

Yup.

Every time I went up, I was TERRIFIED. PETRIFIED. Sweaty palms, tense body, mind in overdrive. When they told me to stand with my toes over the edge, both feet, I wanted to back up and hold onto something. Tight. It took incredible force of will to stand 30-40 feet up*, toes over the edge, leaning way out to grab the bar, then release the hand gripping tight the side rail and grab the other side of the bar. Adjusting hand positions like my life depended on it: Can't fall! Hang on tight! 

"Ready ... HUP." A hop forward and aaaaaAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. Rollercoaster oh my frickin' flying through air rushing by fast fast fast scream! I hear chuckles in the audience. Couldn't hear the instructions I was just hanging on and sensory overload. Swing back, hear the instructions now, legs up and over the bar, hanging from my knees. Wheeeee! Arch back, look at the water fountain and scream again, this time it's a yaaaahoooooo, look, ma, no hands kinda scream! Back to hanging from the hands, and she says, "get ready for the back flip."

Flip? What? Me? No frickin' way. Doesn't she realize I'm afraid of heights? Doesn't she realize I've already done more than I thought I'd have to? I thought we were just going to swing a bit to get the hang of it (no pun intended). I didn't know I'd be hanging from the knees on the first run! Not yet. I holler, "I can't do it!"

"Yes, you can!"

"No, I can't!"

"Just give it a try. Legs swinging forward, backward, forward, now lean back and tuck your knees."

I got the forward, backward, forward thing. My hands wouldn't let go.

"I can't do it!"

We try again. Forward, backward, forward, hug your knees! Nope. Ain't happening.

"I can't do it!"

They lower me down, my whole body is shaking. I feel like I've biked 20 miles, minus the sweat. I feel good. I flew!

Back in line and watching everyone else, I realize the safety ropes will catch me. I won't die, probably, most likely not. I'll try the flip. I can do this!

Next three runs, I'm moving with efficiency, I know the drill; still feeling the scream, but focusing on what I'm doing, and enjoying the sensations. Still petrified when I'm standing at the ledge, still forcing my mind to realize I'm strapped in, they're holding onto me, I can do this, I will most likely be just fine. I try for the back flip and it's not pretty, but I'm doing it! Each time, I walk away exhilarated and spent, body shaking, limbs weak, fear conquered for that moment.

The last run is the special one. Being caught mid-flight by the instructor! I'm freaked, of course, and I nearly don't go because I'm wiped. A few words from one of the instructors and I'm thinking, Bah, I can do this! One more run!

It's all in the timing. You have to hop on their Hup. You have to be hanging on your knees, arched back and outstretched arms on the second swing out. And there's still the paralyzing fear to overcome. Yeah, that.

But I did it! Hanging upside down, arched back and reaching hands -- caught by the hanging upside down instructor. Flying through air! Dropped to the net. Shaky legs and happy happy happy.

Scott, he's a natural. He doesn't have that fear thing to overcome. He sailed, moved agilely, adjusted with ease and enjoyed every moment. His catch was smooth transitions, clean lines. First time, what? I can't imagine what that would be like, not being afraid of heights. Crazy boy.

* I just looked it up, it's actually 23 feet. But it felt like 30-40 feet.

PS  Until it messes up my bandwidth, here's Scott's catch (4.7MB). It's amazing to watch. First time, what??

Yeah, I still knit

After ordering the wheel I was so mindwhacked, like a chicken without its head, looking for something to do. I nearly started a new project before I remembered Creamsicle T. Successfully switched gears and now Creamsicle T sleeves are almost done. Here's where she was yesterday:

Creamsicle T - sleeves

I'm almost out of yarn and I'm pretty sure I won't have enough. I may have to use my swatch. Isn't that desperate? I hate getting that desperate...

I'm loving the entries I'm getting for the contest! So glad, I was worried there'd only be one. You have to read Cat's entry, it really made my day!

I'm addled, so addled that I noticed the last 2 paragraphs started with the same word but I don't have what it takes to fix it. Why am I so addled, you ask? Why, I'll tell you why:

I bought a wheel!

What?

Yes, a wheel! I decided! Oh lordy lordy, you don't know the euphoria coursing through my brain, I can barely stand it! I bought a wheel! I bought a wheel!

[happy dance]

Curious, the mental happy dance looks very much as I'd imagine Curious George would look dancing...

You see, I'm addled. You get it now, right? I'm done for the night. I'll be lucky to get anything done. I shouldn't even do anything except sit in front of the TV and do happy dances.

In case you had any questions, you know, like what kind of wheel did I choose and why, I'll just quote myself from the Knitter's Review Forums. You see, in my state, well, it's asking too much:

I decided!!!! I just ordered the Joy from The Fold. They're out of stock, so it will be a week or two before it arrives, but I'm so relieved and excited that I decided and that it's on its way!! I'm feeling light headed, I've been forgetting to breathe, I can barely think my brain is so overloaded. When I recover I will do some more happy dance and maybe sit catatonic for a bit, smiling.

In the end, I decided that, since I plan to get a second wheel anyway, and I really LOVED the Joy, and it's so portable and cute, and whatever flexibility I'm losing out on I will get in the second wheel, and the Joy would be a better complement to a second wheel than the Lendrum (with a Lendrum I wouldn't need a second wheel for a while because of all the flexibility, but I would want one) -- see, I can't put together a proper sentence. But you get the idea. :D Oh yeah, and I know I said I would try them both again before deciding but it will be a while before I can try them again, maybe even a couple weeks, and the waiting is just killing me, it's killing me! It's been a month since I've gotten the green light to buy one and I just can't wait anymore. I can't! Well, except a couple weeks shipping time. ;)

Thanks for all the feedback and support, you guys rock!

And I echo the final sentiment here. Thanks for all the feedback and support. And to Scott, the woman at The Fold, and Felicia for last minute decision assistance. You guys rock!!!

PS  Maria's pics will come tomorrow! I'll have pics of the prize yarn by Sunday! I'm going to trapeze school tomorrow! Have an awesome weekend!

Next Wed will be 3 months that I've been blogging and I plan to celebrate! Yup, you guessed it, contest time. I don't have the exact prize picked out yet, but if you've been reading for any amount of time you probably noticed I use a lot of yarns handdyed by Danette Taylor. So, the prize will be some of her yarn!

What do you have to do to win?

In the comments, tell me why you think my blog is named "Two Left Needles". The winner will be the most creative / entertaining / mark-hitting entry, as decided by moi.

All entries received by midnight on 1/24 will be considered. If there are enough entries I will also draw one at random for a second prize.

For those that can't leave a comment (some IE users have problems), send an email to mygomi [at] gmail [.] com with subject "2LN Contest".

The usual suspects

Creamsicle T sleeves in progress:

Creamsicle T - sleeves

That small ball of yarn is all I have left, save a few yards. It doesn't look like enough, but I was sure I would run out on the front and back, too; it goes a looong way.

It's very soft to knit with and that doesn't get old. I haven't had any problems, though multiple froggings in the very beginning did fuzz up the yarn. As a merino singles I know it is prone to pilling, but for the softness, I think it's worth it. Looking at the knitted fabric I definitely want to block it both to smooth out the look of the stitches and to make it behave (ie, lie flat).

And look, sunlight! Winter is slowly waning and there is more sunlight in the mornings before I leave for work and hints of light when I leave. Makes for crisper photos:

35: food coloring dyed merino

That's the food coloring dyed merino plied up. The feel of my handspun is so different from commercial yarns, more bounce and body. I haven't knit with much of it so I don't know how that translates in the knitting.

Tomorrow I have a bunch of knitting photos from Maria, a former co-worker and friend that I taught to knit. She has been a knitting fiend, finishing scarves left and right. Go Maria!

Creamsicle T sleeves are about 3" done. I'm knitting both at the same time, which is my preferred method of knitting sleeves. That way, I know my gauge is the same, and I don't have to figure out what I did on the first one. Creamsicle T shows that I can stick to one project if it's the right one at the right time. Sure, I threw a little bit of fairisle mitten and Kiri knitting into the mix, plus a wee bit of spinning. But that's as close to knitting monogamy as I can get.

The wee bit of spinning is plied and is lovely. It's soft and squishy. Pictures tomorrow.

I ordered some Jacquard acid dyes from Dharma Trading Company. I'm starting with primaries and black, and some tools. We have a second crock pot in the basement that I'll put to good use. I'm reading good info on the Dye Happy Yahoo group and can't wait to experiment. I'll admit to feeling a bit intimidated and clueless, and I'm hoping it will all work itself out once I get started. In addition to good ole fiber dyeing, I'd like to try some superwash wools for self-striping sock yarn.

And in the "I'm an idiot" category, I got off my butt and decided to figure out how to write a pattern for Buttercup. I mean, it's only been, what, a month??? Sometime before winter ends would be nice, eh? It was then that I realized: Buttercup is in NC. I already gave it away! My notes are, well, let's just say, I didn't even write down how many stitches I cast on. Yup, I'm an idiot. I can rework it from the photos and memory, and I'll probably use an easier to find yarn to test knit it. Sigh. Live and learn.

Therese said:

I was pondering that the other day - why do patterns always call for knitting the back first? Now that I'm working on something with a complicated all-over stitch pattern, I'm thinking it's so you can make your mistakes on the back and not have to look at them. Makes sense, right?

That's a very good reason for it. A couple of others I can think of are:

  • The back is the most boring piece (well, the sleeves are, really), so you get the interest of working out the pattern on it. The front has some neck shaping to save you from utter boredom. The sleeves, well, the sleeves are always tough, but for most of it there is some shaping going on...
  • Sometimes the front is measured off the back: "when your piece measures 8" less than back..." so maybe the back is easier to measure off of? I dunno, maybe I'm reaching here. Heck, maybe I'm making it up.
  • That's how it's been done so that's how it's done! Quit questioning and obey! Follow the pattern!

Any other reasons?

Popsicle

Here's the back of Creamsicle T:

Creamsicle T - back

Looks remarkably like the front, just a higher neck and different splotches.

And a wee bit of spinning done! This is the merino I dyed with food coloring (right-most in last photo). Prepped width-wise:

35: food coloring dyed merino, prepped

And spun:

35: food coloring dyed merino

I tried for a slightly thicker weight than usual and did a pretty good job of remembering. I like the color variations and look forward to seeing it plied.

Knitting of the Gods

The Yarn Harlot is hosting The 2006 Knitting Olympics, and I've joined the madness. There are rules, there are medals, there will be blood, sweat and tears. Well, maybe sweaty palms and a few tears... frustration or elation, who knows. Yeah, you know me, it'll be both.

I haven't decided what I'll make yet. It has to be challenging, but do-able. I was thinking a second, more challenging lace shawl. Is that do-able? In 3 weeks? Scott suggested a sweater for him. I was stunned, and then laughed one of those "ha ha, I don't know how to react" laughs. A man-sized sweater, not in wool, likely DK weight at best, and probably good amounts of frogging involved. Hmm... We are looking for Olympian knitting, not Herculean... It would be challenging, in many many many ways. Would it be do-able?

The back of Creamsicle T is done. I took a photo this morning but it came out very weird, part of the right side of the photo was on the left side and except for the very top it was all dark, dunno what happened, technology glitch.

Instead, I bring you photos of some holiday knits! Below are Scott's parents with Caribbean Flora Scarf, and Argyle Caddy on the special club:

Caribbean Flora Scarf Argyle Caddie

In other holiday knitting news, Linda's family absolutely LOVED the Esther Williams hat! She has some crafters in her family, and they were inspecting the construction, trying to reverse engineer it. I love that.

I miss my family. [sniff sniff]. When I was home over the holidays I found out my sister and niece both get tongue bumps like I do. It's genetic!

Special white dress shopping this weekend was productive, if exhausting. How can it be so tiring? I suppose there's a lot of emotional investment. I was amazed when I was shopping for my dress and again this weekend how different dresses look on the hangar and on a body. Some dresses that look boring or flat can look stunning and just pop when worn. It's also amazing how darned expensive they are. What the heck?? Shopping is not my forte to begin with so I struggled to find words to describe why this dress was not quite right, or what was good about that one. Mostly it was facial expressions and hand gestures accompanying words like "something about this part..." The front runner was simple, elegant, dreamy and flattering. Sometimes I can find the words. ;)

Despite the post title, I'm in a better mood today. I took PumpkinMama's advice and took a break this weekend, even got enough sleep last night.

Much progress was made on Creamsicle T last night while watching the rest of Gone With The Wind - in between bawling and wiping my eyes. At heart, GWTW is a love story, and a tragic one at that. I think it must have been many many years since I saw it last, because I don't remember Scarlett being so in love with Ashley before. That part of the story gives the rest of the story its meaning. I think I was in high school or middle school when I saw it last... Well, being older and catching onto that crucial plot line, the story made a lot more sense to me, and really got to me. I'm sitting here shaking my head. It's just too bad, it really is.

Anyway, here's the front of Creamsicle T. Hmm, I think usually patterns call for making the back first, didn't even think of that while knitting.

Creamsicle T - front

Since I'm adjusting stitch counts and decreases on the fly, I'm not sure how it will turn out, but it's a quick enough knit that I'll plow on just the same. I did redo part of the shoulders, and have had to redo rows here and there. Nothing major so far, in the "reknit the whole thing multiple times" category. Strange, I picked this sweater and yarn so I could follow the pattern, but as soon as a I get 4" done I scrapped that plan and started readjusting everything. What's the point, I say? Mumble, mumble. [wink]

The back is about 2/3 done. Here's where it was this afternoon:

Creamsicle T - back in progress

I was going to do some spinning but couldn't do it while watching Slap Shot. Man, what a crazy (and entertaining) movie. Paul Newman cracks me up, and he is so charismatic. Crazy hockey players, reminded me of growing up, being forced to watch hockey all winter long by my brother, the remote hogger. Hmm, I don't think we had remotes back then, had to walk to the TV to change channels, imagine that. AND, we changed channels by rotating a dial. Hehe, those were the days.

It's been a tough week, and I'm wiped. I was going to write about work, my first full week, but I couldn't figure out what to say and what not to say. And I'm dog tired now, can't put together... thoughts... practically falling asleep in my chair. So instead I'll get some sleep, chill, worry about it another time. It was a good week, though. Tough, but good. Productive. I'm proud of what I accomplished (and pleased). New jobs are tough. Stressful. Overwhelming. And this place is so different than the last, oh, 7 or 8 years of very corporate environments I've been in. A nice change. And I'm tough on myself, have high expectations... Hmm, this is not sleeping, this is ruminating and writing. 'Night.

Here be the beginnings of the T Shirt Sweater, named Creamsicle T, the one using super soft merino from handpaintedyarn.com:

Creamsicle t

I had knit about 4" but was worried about it being kinda loose on me. I recently read about negative ease but can't for the life of me remember where; they linked to Purly Whites's post and it musta made an impression. I'm on the petite side, and a snug soft sweater would be poifect, accentuate the girls, ya know. ;)

So I frogged and restarted by measuring my Nothin' But A T-shirt, the body of which fits pretty close to what I want, just a bit short. The plan is to add an inch to the overall length, some at the bottom and some at the waist. I had to adjust my NBaT for length cuz I'm petite (ie, short) and I got pretty close. The sleeves didn't work out so well for me so I'll use the instructions for the T-shirt Sweater on this one. Mix and match, it's all good. Maybe. Hehe.

I also worry about running out of yarn. In theory, I have enough, but you know how these things go.

Lotsa knitting accomplished during the first half of Gone With The Wind. It's been a while since I've seen it and I'm enjoying it in an entirely different way. I'm watching the performances and can't help but notice the age differences between the actors, and of each actor in relation to their role as the movie progresses. I'm marveling at the creative solutions used in special effects, and their sometimes super cheesiness. I'm thinking about Hollywood production values and large casts and the scene to scene intermingling of painted sets and outdoor scenes. I'm imagining the movie when it came out, seeing the attitudes of that era imprinted on the story of a past era; and amazed at that past era, even if through a 1930's looking glass. I'm charmed by beautiful Cinderella dresses and mystified by corsets and complex social rules... and surprised by how funny the first quarter of the movie is.

Scott had never seen it and sat with me even after I "released" him after an hour. His one question: "So when does he say, 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn'?" Oh, 4 hours from now, honey, 4 hours.

Knitting during commutes is a thing of the past, but I still get morning anxiety -- do I have enough knitting? what should I bring?? -- before I remember. In a way, I miss it, commuter knitting. Focused time with few distractions and nothing else to do. No computer or TV to get in the way; only elbows and newspapers to battle. I think a good chunk of knitting time is lost on browsing time at home: blogs, forums, sales; too addictive. I need to learn to get away from the computer. (Except to post and process photos, of course.)

Lunch hours are whittled to half an hour now, instead of the hour I had at my last job. Again, less knitting time. (No complaints, just less knitting throughout the day and a lot more in the evening.) Today I finally knit a few rows on my portable project during lunch. Here's a photo from last week:

Curlycue Scarf - in progress

Yep, Ruffles from Scarf Style, in yarn to match my niece's Bramble Roll Hat. Since it's for a 7 year old, I didn't want it to be so large. The thinner yarn takes care of part of that problem, and I also cast on 2 less stitches. It's purty.

I thought ruffles throughout might be too much. Scott had the idea of making the ends ruffles with a straight stretch in between, so I'll give that a try. With all the back and forth and curling about, this scarf will take (me) a while to finish. Could have to do with my knitting ADD.

Speaking of knitting ADD, I started a new project last night. While I wait for you to stop snickering and rolling your eyes, I'll explain. You know I really want to make the Bistro Shirt despite its short-sleeved inappropriateness for winter. I finally caved and hunted for non-wool in the right gauge. I don't have much non-wool. I do have some supersoft handpaintedyarn.com merino from a Knittyboard swap in bright colors that don't suit me that I've been wanting to use for months. It's wool, though... Hmm, it's the right gauge. But it's wool... Hmm, the t-shirt sweater from ella rae designs also knits to 18 sts / 4". Interesting, I've wanted to make that for a while. Yarn and pattern that I've wanted to use for a while. Hmm. I should knit a swatch. A swatch will come in handy no matter what I make. Hmm, swatch knits to gauge and damn that's soft. I need to keep knitting with it. How many stitches do I cast on??

See? See how it happens? And still no Bistro Shirt.

Don't you worry about my WIP count, I did a few more rows on Kiri; I am determined to do a few rows each day and get it done this year.

No wheel for you

The wheel plan was to go to The Fiber Studio in New Hampshire, but a friend is shopping for a, um, special white dress, so that takes prioritiy. Maybe next weekend!

Special Mayo

I love knitters/spinners/crafters. Catherine in UK offered to send me some Heinz mayo! Yay! I'll find some cool yarn to send in return. Thanks, Catherine!

So the wheel thing. I was starting to think mebbe I should just get the Folding Lendrum. People are so attached to theirs, love the flexibility, the fact that it's made in Canada (I made that up). I started thinking that maybe I should just get the Lendrum. Finding someplace to try it and the Joy will mean a long drive... somewhere. But then the trusty Knitters Review spinners snapped me back to, and I'm back to probably Joy, but trying both to be sure.

Which means a drive somewhere.

Me: So, honey, feel like taking a long drive this weekend so I can try out a couple wheels?
Hubby: Sure, oh yeah, definitely, where we going?
Me: [musses his hair, what a good guy]
Hubby: You didn't answer my question, where we going?
Me: Oh, I don't know yet.
Hubby: Is it going to be far?
Me: [thinks] How far is too far?
Hubby: London-Wul [in New Brunswick, Canada; we're outside Boston]
Me: [chuckles] So anything closer is not too far?
Hubby: Yup.
Me: [chuckles]
Hubby: Does this mean we're making more than one stop?
Me: I hope not.

I loves my hubby.

Special Mayonnaise

I've been looking for a particular mayonnaise for a long time and was so excited when I found it. It wasn't on sale but I bought it anyway. It could have cost double and I would still have bought it.

At my last job, I love love LOVED the mayonnaise in the packets they had in the cafeteria. After I stopped eating in the cafeteria and started brown bagging, every time I was near the cafeteria, say if I'd forgotten my lunch, I'd secretively snatch a dozen packets, casually stuff them in my pockets or bag, and stockpile them in my desk drawer. Every day, turkey sandwiches with special mayonnaise. And every shopping trip, I despaired that I could never find it in the grocery store.

Until today.

Kraft

Happy happy happy!!

Until... I opened the kitchen drawer to look at my last packet... and realized... it's not the same.

This is the special mayonnaise:

Heinz

Heinz. Not Kraft. Rats.

Knitting

Kiri ... is a little bigger:

Kiri - in progress

And I've also picked up Fair Isle Mittens, my oldest current WIP from back in '95:

Fair Isle Mittens - in progress

You can see why I couldn't just abandon it! Knit using #2 needles and JaggerSpun heathered 2/18 yarns in my own color combos; this is probably my earliest attempts at my own color work. It's slow goings, and I'll probably switch to using 2 circ's instead of the bamboo dpn's.

In bizarre news

I got like 20 calls today from some guy in Iran. He wouldn't stop calling. He didn't speak much English, he kept telling me his name, I think he even said "I love you" at one point. I was patient at first, trying to tell him "wrong number", then "please don't call" then "stop calling" then just hanging up as soon as it rang. He asked my name, which I wouldn't give. Dude, why are you calling me and then asking my name? Why do you keep calling me after I keep hanging up on you? WTF??? I checked the phone number on google to find out he was in Iran, more google searching to learn he speaks Farsi, yet more to find a few phrases. I tried "Na Farsi" (no Farsi) which only encouraged him. I tried "Goodbye. No Farsi. Goodbye." The phrase list was useless, only friendly touristy phrases like "hello," "what is your name," "peace be with you". They didn't list "stop calling me, "leave me alone," "what the ***". In the end I shut off my phone and gave up. WTF???

In the winter, I get to wear a lot of my handknits. Yesterday was a 4 knit day: Grey Cabled Socks, Blue Biffle Wristwarmers, Seaweed Love, and Grape Snuggy (hat). 3 knit days are easy to achieve: hat, scarf, mittens. 4 knit days are special. Any sock day is special. 5 knit days are giddy, but I can't remember the last time I had one.

I saw my reflection in the Mini window; I really like my Grape Snuggy. I think it fits me well, and I've received a few compliments from knitters and non-knitters on it. I don't always like hats on me, and I've convinced myself I don't generally look good in hats, so this is a cool realization.

While in the grocery store, I looked around at those wearing hats, all machine made. Enjoying my 4 knit day, wearing 4 knits I happen to love, I thought how limited their selection is, and wondered what they do. Do they wish for a handknit hat, custom designed just for them, in materials, color, pattern to their specifications? Would they want a handdyed handknit one-of-a-kind silk-merino scarf? Can they imagine the cozy comfort of handknit socks?

Does this have anything to do with the current surge in knitting's popularity?

Random observation

It's harder to use chopsticks while wearing wristwarmers. It feels a little off.

Swatchin'

Swatches

These be the swatches I mentioned yesterday, forgot to take a picture of them before. Notice the sizes, nice and big. Remember the Grey Cabled Socks swatch? Hahaha, I've come a long way.

I really liked knitting with the Filatura di Crosa 501 Tweed (left). Fairly soft, and firm yet flexible fabric. It was interesting to see how the barberpole yarn knit up, not quite what I expected. I want to match it to a project soon.

Bamboo (middle) was nice to knit with, crisp feeling. The colors are so much nicer knit up than I expected, I really like the variegation. To be honest, I was kinda disappointed when this color showed up, it just wasn't what I was hoping for. But knit up, I just love it and can't wait to make it into something. My gauge is way off, though, 6 sts instead of 5 to the inch. And that's on bigger needles. Has a lot of spring when stretched width-wise.

Thanks, Beth, for the heads up on the Bamboo. I see what you mean about the scratchiness and I'm glad I made the mistake of using #7 needles. At this gauge it doesn't feel scratchy per se, just... crisp.

Okay, had to stop and play. After roughing up the swatch for a few minutes, it changed gauge, closer to 5 sts per inch. Better for following patterns written at 5 sts per inch, but, my mistake of using #7 needles means the stitches are now a little holey. A little risque for a tank top for conservative me. Guess I'll have to knit me another swatch.

Third swatch (right) is some Knit One Crochet Two Meringue I bought on sale at A Good Yarn at the end of the summer. I was hoping to use it for Bistro Shirt, but I'm not sure it'll work. It feels very spongy knit up, and has some bulk. It will probably be warm; maybe a bell sleeved sweater.

Kiri

...is just a little bit bigger.

I'm battling serious startitis. Last night I was roaming, from yarn room to living room to computer room and back, trying to match yarn to pattern for a new sweater or top, knitting swatches. I really want to make a Bistro Shirt, but I probably won't be able to wear a sleeveless top for a while. I really want to use the Bamboo or Oasis I just bought, but those are probably going to be summer tops as well, maybe a ChicKami and Picovoli. I'm looking at some Jaegar sweaters, and then there's the sweater I've wanted to make combining these yarns:

Danette Taylor yarns for a sweater

While pondering all this, and catching up on some blog reading, I saw Adrian's finished Kiri, and noticed she had made hers out of Koigu KPPPM. I had been thinking about making a Kiri or Birch for a while, you know, hop on the bandwagon, and had secured 3 balls of Kid Silk Haze in a swap a few months back. Somehow the timing never seemed right. And, while the Yarn Harlot's been known to call it Kid Silk Crack for its addictive qualities, others have been less than impressed with the knitting experience, so I've been wary. I wondered what yarn from stash I could use.

And then this happened:

Kiri - in progress

That's the beginnings of Kiri using the KSH. It all happened so fast, I can't explain it. I think it started with, "Let's just see..."

The first few rows I wasn't sure about the combo. Thin yarn, big needles. But as the pattern emerged, I could hear the inner voice saying, "I like, I like." And the soft and silky flow through my fingers, mmmm, nice. It's still early; anything can happen. I hope it gets knit, though. It'll be beautiful. (At the same time, I know it would have to be gifted; Scott would get shivers just looking at it, and I mean the heebie jeebie kind, not the good kind.) 

Some finished items

Grey Cabled Socks Grey Cabled Socks

Grey Cabled Socks
Started:
12/96
Finished: 1/6/06
Pattern: Stahl Socka booklet #6, pattern #23
Yarn: Stahl Socka 50 in color #9444
Needles: #2
Notes: These only took me 9 years to finish, not too bad, hahahahaha. The first sock was finished 7/24/97. It was on the tight side, so I didn't start the second. I finally started the second sock a few years later, but was getting a very different gauge, so I dropped it. Last month, as part of my WIP Management efforts, I picked it up again and finally finished the pair. The second one is even tighter than the first, but once they're on, it's not noticeable. They're snug and warm, I've been wearing them all day, and I love looking at them. Well, I haven't looked at them much, but I love knowing that they look wonderful with their cabley goodness.

 

My Birthday Scarf

My Birthday Scarf
Started:
9/29/05
Finished: 1/6/06
Pattern: my own: c.o. 38 sts. 2x2 ribs ad nauseum.
Yarn: Danette Taylor 4 ply cashmere in Calypso, just over 3 oz
Needles: #5
Notes: I bought this cashmere as my birthday present to myself, but it took a while to make it to the needles, and then just as long to knit. 2x2 rib is not fun, but on the plus side, this yarn is so very soft and luscious, it's as soft as angora without the bits of fluff escaping, without the allergic reaction. If I were to do it again, I would probably add a few more stitches to make it just a bit wider. Otherwise, I love it.

I'm looking forward to when my sinuses drain and I stop making noises that gross out Scott.

On my trip to NC, I found out my sister reads my blog! She called Buttercup the upside down noses scarf, hehe. Hi Lisa!

I took so much knitting with me and did so little. Knitting can't compete with this:

Akira and Auntie

and the drool he produces (danger, will robinson!):

Akira

That's the best photo I could find of me and my nephew, taken by my niece. My slacker husband didn't much pick up the camera this trip.

Here he is wearing Blueberry Fields, with room to grow:

Blueberry Fields

And Matching Hat (the cardi looked like it might be too tight on him; he SO does not like being changed, clothes or diapers, so I didn't want to risk it):

And Matching Hat

That's Scott, scruffy and not looking at the camera (very camera shy).

Some more New Year's knits:

New Year's

My niece wearing Bramble Roll Hat 2 (here's Bramble Roll Hat, which is just a smidge smaller, and from the top), brother wearing Charcoal Cashmere Scarf, and his fiance wearing Buttercup. Unfortunately, don't have photos of my sister or parents wearing their scarves.

Our non-traditional New Year's feast of Korean delights: 

New Year's Feast

I should explain: my family is Buddhist, and for New Year's, they drive to DC. They stay in some kind of Marriott, get some food, bring champagne, hang out and watch the countdown on TV. In the morning, they go to the Temple for New Year's, hmm, what do you call it, a meeting? prayer? Then lunch, shopping at an Asian food mart, and the long drive home. I've been a non-practicing Buddhist for a while now, so I usually don't join them; but I suppose I got tired of going to NC for New Year's and then spending only a few hours of New Year's day with them on their evening return; plus I missed out on the family time. This year Scott and I went for the ride and the New Year's eve celebrating; were even going to go to the Temple with them, but our colds got in the way. Maybe next year.

Last pic: my sister and me at my niece's school on her birthday. she's wearing the Belt tie that we had dyed together and I knit. The other pics had kids in 'em, but Scott and my dad were there as well.

School lunch

I finished My Birthday Scarf and the Grey Cabled Socks last night! Mebbe pics tomorrow. I'm battling serious startitis, distracted by all the yarn and books I just acquired, projects that have been calling out to me throughout holiday knitting, stash that begs to be made useful...

dumbest dog you'll ever see

I best post before the beer goes too far to my head.

Dyeing yarn with food coloring

As I mentioned yesterday, my niece and I had fun dyeing yarn with food coloring. We mixed about 15-20 drops per 50 mL, 3 colors each. Mine were red, yellow and blue with a bit of green; hers were purple, green with a bit of blue, and green made mixing blue and yellow. We skeined 4 sample sizes to get the hang of it, with the intention of dyeing a much larger skein for a small scarf; alas, the best laid plans...

Fool that I was, I didn't take pictures of us dyeing, just a few here and there of the yarns. We each did 2 mini skeins, and the first was a joint effort:

Food coloring dyed wool

Solid sections of red first, drops of yellow between, and blue over the yellow. I added too much yellow so it's mostly greens and yellow greens; but the variations are cool.

Food coloring dyed wool

This is one of her creations. She used lots of her greens and added in reds and just kept adding more drops of this and that, this and that. Square that I am, I tried to warn her that the colors would bleed, that she was using too much dye, without actually saying, "stop, you're using too much dye". Don't want to spoil the fun, after all. In the end, I was right, the colors did bleed; but my sister and I both really liked the effect, while my niece was "eh" about it. I love how adventurous kids are.

Here's her second mini skein, solid bands of red, green and yellow:

Food coloring dyed wool

And the mini skeins ready to be nuked:

Food coloring dyed wool

Their nuke was much more powerful than ours, ended up doing 1:45 on, 2 min off, 1:45 on, 2 min off, 1:45 on, then cool and rinse. Results:

Food coloring dyed wool
First skein, reds with yellow dots and blue over top

Food coloring dyed wool
Her skein, lots of reds and greens that blended into very earthy hues

Food coloring dyed wool
My second attempt, sections of red, blue and yellow, allowing room for bleeding and overlaying red over the blue (so methodical)

Food coloring dyed wool
Her second attempt, solid reds, greens and yellows

I knit up the first mini skein, since it was her favorite, into a little belt:

Belt tie

Belt tie Belt tie

and took it with me to her birthday lunch. Just traveling knits and purls.

Off to get more beer! Yay, weekend! (spoken like a true working stiff)

I had a wonderful time in NC! Some of the highlights:

  • dyeing yarn with food coloring with my niece (photos to come), then
  • teaching her to spin on a spindle!
  • spending enough time with my nephew that he felt comfortable falling asleep in my arms and smiled widely whenever he saw me
  • drinking (too much) tequila and sake (no no, 2 separate nights) with my parents, sister and Scott (we all had never done tequila shots before, with salt and lime... technically still haven't, since we improvised and used citric acid)
  • going to my niece's school for lunch on her birthday, sitting in the cafeteria with all the kids and marveling at how many there were, how little they were, how chaotic it was and grinning like a kid myself
  • the slight change I felt in my family towards Scott: total acceptance into the family
  • feeling a little giddy realizing Scott and I were there as a married couple (hee hee)
  • seeing happy reactions to New Year's knit gifts (photos to come)!

Very slow internet access and plenty of auntie duties kept me away from the blog and much email. Bloglines shows 533 new posts to read. Meh.

When I got home, 3 packages on my doorstep! From Wild String (quick shipping and excellent service) during their 50% off sale:

Wild Strings sale - yarn 
South West Trading Company's Bamboo in Fiery Red and Tequila, Oasis (soy silk) in Passion, Infinity (soy silk, same weight/yardage as the Artisan Lace) in white; 1 skein of Artisan Lace in Wedgewood; Cherry Tree Hill Super Sock in Moody Blues.

The photo doesn't do the colors justice, the red is a deep, rich red, and the Artisan Lace is really lovely. I've wanted to try bamboo yarn for a while now but couldn't justify the cost. Half off and holiday money does wonders in the justification department! Also:

Wild Strings sale - patterns
Oat Couture's Bistro Shirt, which I've been wanting for a while, and Fiber Trends' Pacific Northwest Shawl; plus some free patterns to go with the SWTC yarn.

From a knittyboard swap with awesome swappee glccafar2:

Spin Off magazines
Spin Off magazines     yes, we'll let the silence speak for itself

Extras
And some extras. :)

And from Amazon.com, purchased using gift certificates (read: free!):

Knitting books
Wrap Style, Oddball Knitting, and The Knitting Experience : Book 3: Color

I gots lots of reading materials now, and lots of new yarns to dream with and fondle.

I was sick for most of the NC trip, I think I caught something in one of the airports on the way down. Burning sore throat, sinus congestion, aches, general icky feeling. Scott got sick too, poor kid. I was mostly recovered for my first day of work today. Still, a looong day, after being home for weeks. This will take getting used to. But, it's good to be earning and learning. I'm afraid the job will get in the way of blogging, though. For one thing, photos: early morning light is kinda crappy. For another, less time and less brain. For those who were wondering how I found time to do it all, now you know: no job, no kids.

Thanks for the comments while I was away, particularly tips on plying and wheel selecting. I also received a couple of comments/emails from people who don't feel so bad about their WIP list after seeing mine. To this I say: Hurrah! You know I realize there are limits; that's where the whole WIP Management thing comes in. But, there are enough things to feel bad about.