Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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April 2006 - Posts

I've lost my first really good post through the cracks of technology. Click Post! Get the login screen and realize I've been logged out! Click back and get the login screen again! Realize my post is toast! It feels pretty crappy. Lesson learned.

So just an update picture today:

h&g - in progress

Sadly, that's still sock one. I'm worried about lack of snugness on the ankle. Sockpal's foot is bigger than mine (which is to say, normal sized) but all I have to compare to are my feet.

Much knitting remains.

I'm digging the guesses on the idea behind h&g and the third design element. Julie is channeling the h&g when she mentioned birds. It's definitely connected.

I meant to take some photos this morning of the also ran trees, but, being tired already, starting The Godfather at 8 pm (yay, TiVo!), then posting, meant I turned the alarm OFF instead of snoozing this morning. Yikes. No pictures.

Ah, but I do have this from a couple of days ago:

First Tree Attempts

Those are my first tree attempts. Hey, that top one, take out a pair of branches and it's the Chinese character for little! Which is how much it resembles a tree. (Imagine, Chinese calligraphy in knitting. Why not?) I was going for pine tree. Yeah. Not so much.

All the traveling twisted stitches is starting to hurt my hands so last night I took a break and spun. Well, plied, mostly. I finished that superwash merino I had dyed,

Spun stripey superwash
that stripey number spun up

that stripey number, and it came to 500 yards for 4 oz. 500 yards! First of all, that means I spun 1000 yards of really thin stuff. That's 3000 feet. (Or 4235 of my feet.) It only felt like 4000, though. Really. Second of all, that's a lot of yards for 4 oz! It's not even lace weight. I gulp at lace weight.

I'm pretty happy with the spinning, not so happy with the plying. Now that I think about it, I think I've only seen one person ply, and I was being polite (read: shy and paranoid) so I only looked for about 3 seconds. If you're plying at MDSW and a short Asian chick comes up to you and stares at your fingers, it's me. I won't bite.

for the second design element?

h&g - in progress

It's a tree! (I hope you see a tree there.)

h&g - in progress

On the leg, the path continues front and back, flanked by trees, a forest, if you will. I couldn't find a tree I liked so I made one up. I'll try to take photographs of the also ran's. One design element left. Anyone want to guess what it is?

srvana asked about how the path was knit up. The path knit stitches are twisted, separated by purls, and travel every other row. It's not difficult, just kinda... requires patience.

Thanks for the nice comments on the socks, both handspun and Sockapaloooza! I'm calling the latter h&g, I think it'll be easier to type.

h&g

Progress on h&g... progresses. I stumbled quite a bit on the second design element, searched books and the Web for patterns/solutions, and swatched several different ideas before settling on a workable pattern. I'll take pikchas tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, here's where I left off last night, just past the heel:

h&g - in progress

that sheepy place

Hey, guess what? Guess who's going to Maryland Sheep and Wool? Yup, me. How did you know?

Hehe, yup.

Serious!

Way!

I know! Isn't that cool? I'm catching a ride with someone from BASD who is volunteering at the festival, and therefore arriving early and leaving late. I didn't get my act together in time to sign up for classes (honestly, I was in a bit of a daze about it and it hadn't sunk in... until... oh... a day or two ago?), so I'll be wandering around, trying not to spend all my money. I don't want to think about how much stuff will be there to tempt me. Okay, I do. :)

So yeah, I'm feeling a bit intimidated by the whole thing. Getting there early and leaving late, like a hardcore fiber nut or something.

Nudge nudge. Wink wink.

I'm worried about meeting people, knowing what to say. I'm worried about not meeting people and wandering around alone.

I know, it will be fine. Great. Fantastic! Mindblowing!! Or at the very least, pretty darned cool.

special mayo

Speaking of cool, look what arrived in the mail yesterday:

condiments!

Heinz mayonnaise! All the way from the U.K., sent by Cat in what is, perhaps, the first ever (and possibly last?) yarn-condiment trade. If the shipping weren't so high and the travel time so long, we'd have a real trade route here. As it is, I shall horde my condiments, even the mysterious Brown Sauce, and make it last.

There was some chocolate, too, but it didn't make the photo shoot. Hehe. Thanks so much, Cat!

but not least

To Julie: thanks so much for your comment, I am so flattered! Oh garsh, you're too sweet. But yes, go dye and spin something!

The Red and The Black

The Red and The Black
Started: 3/8/06
Finished: 4/15/06
Pattern: standard toe up socks
Yarn: handdyed, handspun Romney 
Needles: #4
Notes: This was a fun project that started with, "What if..." What if I dyed roving so that the colors gradually shifted from red to white to black, with pinks and greys in between? How would it spin up? 

The dyeing didn't go quite as expected, but the results were cool nonetheless. I split the dyed roving into lengths that repeated the entire color cycle. I divided the roving into two piles, and further divided into strips; the width of each strip determined how wide the stripes ended up. When spinning, I began each bobbin at the same roving end so that the final yarns would begin with the same color sequence. I then navajo plied to preserve the colors (see finished skeins). You can see how the striping plays out here:

The Red and The Black

The striping obscured patterning, or patterning obscured the striping, so in the end I knit a plain sock with short row heels:

The Red and The Black - heel 2

I love how the heel turned out!

The only cheat I made was in finishing the top of the second sock. To make the sock end in black and match the length of sock one, I skipped over a color sequence and continued in black.

This is, I think, my third project knit with handspun, and it was a good learning experience. There were times the yarn felt a little rough, most likely from overtwist. There were other times it felt quite nice. The balance between tighter twist for sock durability and looser twist for softness -- still figuring out where that is. I'm sure it's a long-term spinning life lesson. There wasn't a wide variance in thickness, at least, not enough to show in the knit socks. The socks themselves are thicker than other socks I've knit, and quite sturdy as a 3-ply, so no wearing until the Fall. I usually wear loose clog-style shoes, so the bulk shouldn't matter.

I love these socks. I love the striping, and the fact that I made them stripe. I love that I dyed, spun and knit them. I love the boldness of the colors and the symmetrical heels and the almost matching stripes. Can you tell my feet are happy?

The Red and The Black

I knew I needed most of the first Sockapaloooza sock done this weekend: there's not much time left! I've had a creative idea for the design for a while, but wasn't sure if it would work, or how to realize it. My first thought was to do it in lace, but that was problematic. Last night I thought I'd scrap the creative idea and just make a nice sock, and almost committed to that route before I felt I was copping out by not even trying.

I pulled out books o' stitches, charted, adjusted, knit some, frogged some, knit some, frogged some, and finally got to this:

h&g - in progress

which looks better on a foot:

h&g - in progress

I'm afraid the creative idea will be too much of a giveaway in the unlikely event the recipient sees this, but I will tell you the meandering lines represent a path. More as the pattern unfolds.

Dye-O-Rama update

Woaaahhhh Nelly. As of this moment we are at 248 confirmed registrations! Does anyone else feel faint?

Less than 5 hours before registrations are closed (8pm EST) so, if you want in, be sure:

- you went and filled out the form

- you got your confirmation email and clicked the link

- your name shows up on the form page

- you also registered at the Dye-O-Rama group blog

If you have problems, email us right away at dyeoramaswap@gmail.com so we can get you squared away!

Yarn Harlot update

She was high-larious as usual. I had heard a portion of her talk at the Spa Knit and Spin fiber retreat in January, but stuff still cracked me up, and there was new stuff that cracked me up too. If you have the chance to go listen to her, go!

The shop was packed, standing room only, and though we were early and were standing up front, come book signing time Maria and I found ourself at the end of the line. A long, slow moving line. Hehe, I'll bet the line at Webs is even longer. Remember yesterday when I was hoping not to say something really stupid or embarassing, or gush too much, or not say anything? Well, I get up there and after showing her my Knitting Olympics spin-dye-knit-a-scarf and thanking her for the inspiration to try something so ambitious, I found myself smiling and standing there silently. While she signed. Silently.

"Oh, I'm standing here silently. And smiling. I said I was going to try not to gush. Or stand here silently."

She looks up.

"So. Yeah. I love your blog and you were the inspiration for starting mine. So thank you."

She smiles.

"I said I would try not to gush, you probably get that all the time --"

"Actually, I don't --"

"You don't?" Incredulous look. "Really?" How can she not get anyone gushing? I was standing there for half an hour before she arrived and witnessed gushing. I remembered the first time I met her a year ago and feeling lots of internal gushing going on. She didn't know this?

I start talking really fast. Really fast. There's still the line, you know. But she needs to know. "So I was at work today, and I was telling this IT guy, because I'm, well, I'm in IT too, and we're outside the building and I'm telling him I'm going to the Yarn Harlot's book signing, and he says, 'Yarn Harlot' and --"

"Yeah"

"Yeah. So I tell him how I met you a year ago at your first book signing and how I felt like I was 13 and meeting a rock star, even though I never gushed when I was 13 about any rock stars, and I told him it felt like [insert flapping hands and wild excited gestures], 'oh my god I'm meeting the Yarn Harlot oh my god!!!' You don't get that?"

She laughs. "No."

"People were doing it here before you arrived. 'I can't believe I'm going to meet her! I'm so excited!' See, they're all trying to be cool when you arrive so you don't see it, but before you get here they're all excited and gushing."

She's smiling. We're all entertained. I go on tell her how excited I was when I first met her. Flaping arms. Talking fast.

"Wow, you really got over your quietness."

I'm pretty jazzed up by now and smile and wave bye and try to move slowly so I don't fall over anything. How can she not know? People drive hours to see her. There were people from Connecticut and Maine there.

Every time I remember that moment, I chuckle. I was silent. I gushed. And to some people I may have been stupid or embarassing, but to me, I was sharing the excitement, giving her a glimpse of the excitement that goes on that she doesn't get to see. Being myself.

We thinks the Internet Explorer funkiness is unfunked! Or refunked, or something like that. Go try it and let us know if you have problems.

Thanks so much for your comments! It was especially wonderful to hear from folks that have been there all along but couldn't post. I was at work getting emails (I get emails from comments now!) and had a moment, I was, what do they say, verklempt? It was a wonderful feeling. I tell ya, you were there in my head, but it's so much nicer to hear it outside my head. I feel less crazy. ;)

So let's see, there's been a lot of stuff going on. Where to start?

I'm going to see the Harlot speak at Classic Yarns of Grafton tomorrow! I'm hoping I won't say something really stupid or embarassing. Or gush too much. Or smile too widely and not say anything. I'll be meeting up with my buddy Maria and she'll stop by the house afterwards to gawk at the stash. Go on, admit it, you're jealous. You want to see the stash!

Speaking of the stash... it has groooown. I spent the last of the stash sale monies on some Addis from Jeff Wonderland (so I can finish those danged Jaywalkers) and yarn at The Fabric Place. Look what a judiciously spent $22 will get you:

new to the stash

Superwash baby yarn and non-wool for Scott in Scott-safe colors!

I also ordered a few books from Amazon.com using reward certificates (read: free!), the Harlot's Knitting Rules, and Deb Menz's Color Works and Color in Spinning:

               

and they arrived within days! Oh boy oh boy, already started reading the Harlot's book and Color Works and am very pleased. (Are those Amazon things too obnoxious looking? I thought having the pictures would be nice.)

Taxes were a very pleasant surprise this year. I was hoping we'd break even or not have to pay too much. Instead, we're getting money back! Woohoo! I promptly ordered Woolcombsmini wool combs from The Artful Ewe so I can process some of that lovely alpaca and llama that shipped with my wheel. June had recommended them and I'm excited to try them out!

As if that weren't enough... today I stopped by Woolcott in Harvard Square and bought Heirloom Knitting, mostly subsidized with a gift certificate. Couldn't put it down.

Can you stand it?? Can I???

And last, but not least, there's some handdyed silk roving wending its way to me. No more on that 'til it arrives. Hoooo boy.

I hate to leave without some pics cuz I have a few stockpiled from the week, so here's progress on the Honeymoon Cami:

Honeymoon Cami - in progress

Honeymoon Cami - in progress

Honeymoon Cami - in progress

Dye-O-Rama

Sign ups are open!

Registrations will be open for 48 hours, you snooze, you lose, hahaha. When you fill out the form you'll get a confirmation email and will have to click the link to finish registering. Kudos to Noelle's hubby for setting this up!

We're having some issues with Internet Explorer (I know, you're starting to think I have something against you IE folks, right?), so if you can, use Firefox or something else. We hope it'll be fixed soon and will post an update.

What are you still doing here? Click below!

ETA: We believes the Internet Explorer problem is fixed, so go try it out! Let us know if you have problems.

Sign-ups begin this Thursday, April 20th at 6:00pm MST (8 pm EST?). We won't have a number cut-off this time but sign ups will be available for 48 hours only. If you won’t be around please have someone sign you up, 'k?

Noelle’s husband Cody is our tech guru and is creating an online registration form. Thanks Cody! Noelle has been hard at work setting up a blog where we can brag and share our dyeing woes and questions. We have a few guests who are dyeing pros who will share tips with everyone and be available to help with questions.

Some swap business:

  • PLEASE DO NOT SIGN UP IF YOU ARE GOING TO FLAKE! Don't make us open up a can of whupass on you. ;)
  • There will be a choice on the registration form to sign up to be an Angel. This means you are willing to dye a second skein of yarn to replace a Swapper who had the nerve to flake out on us (the noive!). It’s nice to know we can contact someone to help us out if we need it. We're hoping we don’t need Angels but, you know, just in case.
  • Cody and Noelle have put togther a countdown timer so you know exactly when the sign up will start.

Let us know if you have any other questions. We’re really excited about the swap and already have over 100 people ready to play. Very cool!

I've upgraded my blog software. Hopefully if you're using IE you'll be able to post! You can also create an account to post comments and be notified of new posts and comments. Assuming it all works, that is.

Can you post a hello and let me know if you run into any problems?

Thanks!

PS:  I'll be adjusting categories and the like. I don't know how my rss feed handles such changes, if it will "re-post" the "re-saves" or ignore them. So, sorry if I screw up your feed reader.

I'm excited that there's been so much interest! Some more information about the swap:

  • We will give plenty of notice about when the offical sign up will be. Just keep an eye on one of our blogs and we will give you a 36 & 24 hour notice.
  • You will need to register to be a part of the swap. Just leaving your comment in the previous post does not ensure that you will be in the swap. We will need all of your information and that will be your committment to join the swap.
  • Beginners will be welcome. We will have two official groups. One will be the WTF am I doing group and the other will be for people who feel pretty confident in their dyeing skillz.
  • You may use any dyes as long as they are permanent and lightfast.
  • We will do international swaps. We will specifically ask whether you mind having an international pal or not.
  • We have had a lot of interest already and we may have a 100 person limit for this first round. We will let you know about this.
  • Finally, please do not sign up for this swap if there is even the slightest chance that are going to flake-out on us. We recruited Noelle to help with the organization of this swap and the 4 of us will not be very nice DYE-O-RAMistras if you don’t follow through with your committment. Most of you have probably been a part of a swap before and know that nothing sucks more than having a pal who doesn’t do what they are supposed to. Ya know?

So stay tuned for more details!

In other news...

Gram fell this week and as a matter of course went to the hospital. Nothing "serious" and she's been moved to the rehab area, but unfortunately she's too weak to go back to her place until she's better, and she won't be getting better. Most likely she will move to a nursing home soon. So... I'm not feeling my usual self, and may be posting less often. I will keep up with Dye-O-Rama updates and will be spinning and knitting as usual, but most likely less chatty and less present.

June's post about funny Minnesota politeness got me thinking about Japanese politeness. I've never really lived in Japan but I've visited many times growing up and spent the majority of childhood Saturday mornings going to Japanese school (this probably explains my love of sleeping in on Saturdays and doing nothing). From what I understand, in Japan, it is common to refuse a gift at least 2 or 3 times before accepting, even if it is something you really really want. Or a ride. Or anything that puts someone out of their way for you. "No no, I couldn't possibly..." As a Japanese Canadian/American, I don't fit into Japanese culture. I'm direct enough that, though I've figured out when to do the head bobbing (I even do it on the phone), I will never be a true Japanese. I'm not direct enough that I feel comfortable in this culture, either. Stuck between worlds; it's typical for people like me who grew up with one foot in each.

I was reminded of a funny story about my brother. When he was 10 he visited Japan for 2 or 3 months, alone. He mostly stayed with my Dad's side, where they didn't understand English at all. My grandfather wanted to spoil him and took my brother shopping for toys, clothes, etc. Each time they came home empty-handed, my brother incredibly frustrated, my grandfather at a loss. It wasn't until towards the end of my brother's visit that my mom found out what was going on. When my grandfather asked my brother if he wanted this or that, my brother would say, "Yeah!" In Japanese this sounds like "iya" which means, roughly, "hell no!". Hehe, poor kid. All the toys he could have had.

*  *  *

Thanks for the compliments and feedback on Picovoli! I'll try Grumperina's suggestion of giving her a firm ironing to get the bottom edge to lay flat. Depending on how it looks then, I'll decide whether or not to add length.

I was hoping to show you the flu-influenced-dyeing I did this weekend -- not my best work, :D -- but working on taxes yesterday and an unexpected but much needed nap today got in the way. Instead, here's the tussah silk I had dyed before pre-drafted:

dyed Tussah silk, sunfires

I was struck by how the base honey color warmed all the reds, oranges and yellows, very different from how it looked on the white wools:

dyed Tussah silk, sunfires

I wasn't sure what to do with it: spin it straight? From the fold? The last time I tried silk did not go well at all, but that was on a spindle and before I learned the magic of pre-drafting. This time I went with regular spinning with enough twist for a 2-ply and it went pretty smoothly:

dyed Tussah silk singles, sunfires

That's about half an ounce. I was careful of my drafting hand and making sure it didn't hold onto the fibers very long so that I didn't get clumps of silk in my hand. This required a lighter (and less sweaty) hand. I was also careful to keep the to-be-spun lengths sufficiently unrolled in my lap and not let it fall to the floor: the silk sheds and wanted to stick to itself and instead of easily unrolling from the little nests.

Love to dye yarn? Always wanted to give dyeing a try? Join Scout, Cookie & Monica in the first hand-dyed yarn swap - DYE-O-RAMA!


Who wants to play??
Sign-up will be before May 1st
You will get your assignments shortly after and will have 6 weeks to dye your magic yarn
This round will be sock yarn - at least 440 yds
You can use Kool Aid or acid dyes, your choice
You can do variegated, self-striping, etc, your choice
You do not need a blog as we’ll have one where you can post your pictures if you’d like
We will do international swaps!

If you’re interested please leave us a comment (or email) so we can figure out how many people want to play. Sign up will be next week. We really think it will be a fun swap! More details soon….pass it on okay? The more the merrier!

You know you want to...

ETA: Good questions!

  • Finished yarns are due mid-June, around the 15th.
  • I think food coloring and natural dyes would be acceptable as well. As long as it is wash and light fast, I don't see a problem. :)
  • As for colors, I think the person you will be dyeing for will list their preferences and you can be creative within that. That'll be a good way for people to work outside their comfort zone. ;)
  • Newbies welcome! I think we'll have 2 groups, beginners and those with some experience, so don't be afraid to give it a try!

Picovoli

Picovoli

Picovoli
Started:
3/17/06
Finished: 4/8/06
Pattern: Grumperina's Picovoli, with modifications
Yarn: Classic Elite Provence in a to dye for red (color # 2627), almost 2 full skeins
Needles: #5 bamboo circulars
Notes: For starters, I didn't get gauge. Next, my size is between the pattern sizes. So, all actual numbers were recalculated and fudged to fit. And boy does it ever fit. I suspect that it's either too short or small, or I'm not used to baring the midriff. Scott loves it, though. Any thoughts? I could always add some rows near the waist to make it longer.

Modifications aside, this was an easy and relatively fun knit. The plain stockinette stitch makes for good TV knitting, while the shaping details give it interest. Plus, the fact that you can try it on as you go helps make a garment that fits. The instructions are clear and in-the-round knitting means minimal ends to be woven in.

I enjoyed knitting with Provence. Soft and silky with a nice sheen. Good yardage, too.

The bottom edge won't stay down. I've tried steaming it to no avail. Any thoughts on that one, too?

More Knits??

I'm making a liar of myself, where's the spinning content?? Actually there's been some spinning and dyeing, but today's post was determined to be color coordinated.

Sock one of The Red and The Black is done! My first handdyed handspun handknit sock, hehe.

The Red and The black - sock 1 done!

I added a simple 1x1 rib only in the last black band, because it looked odd any other way.

The Red and The Black - sock 1 done!

Sock 2 is in progress and I'm curious to see how they match up. These I will be sad not to be wearing until the Fall.

Oh hat

I wanted to knit a second hat for MJ's Norwegian Knits-Along, and ran into some troubles. Adrian helped me brainstorm and I tackled the project anew. On my first stab, the gauge and stitch pattern were not cooperating to make a hat to fit my head. I considered:

  • adding larger motifs separating the panels
  • adding an extra repeat to the "front" and "back" panels
  • adding an extra panel to make 5 (Adrian's suggestion) 

In the end, I went with the first option. I'm pretty sure there was a good reason. I distinctly remember trying the second option and having one of those, "<sigh> this is not going to work" moments. At this moment I can't recall what the issue might have been.

Oh hat - in progress

Assuming it will fit, it's looking good. I'm not happy with the way I increased stitches before starting the main pattern, so I'll probably have to rework the first few rows. But, with the Norwegian Knits-Along ending and Spring seeming to be around the corner, there's no pressure to finish anytime soon.

Curlycue scarf

My niece loves her scarf! I think it looks fabulous on her. Even in 80 degree weather.

Curlycue scarf

I was surprised by how much longer it is on her than on me. Which just means it'll last longer. :)

Curlycue scarf

I was called a spinner recently. Specifically, the word linking to my blog was "spinner", as in "this spinner". It was the first time that word was used as my sole description and it was startling. As a long time knitter and johnny-come-lately spinner, I've yet to see spinning as my main squeeze. Lately, though, it seems that's all I do - spin, and dye stuff to spin. If you look through my recent posts, it's spinning heavy. And actually, because I started blogging shortly after learning to spin, most of my posts have some kind of spinning content in them. While I know I love to spin, how it fits in my life is an unknown blank. Spinning and dyeing are new so every experience is a learning experience, fresh, new, exciting; I'm like a teenager at an all-you-can-eat buffet, trying to sample everything without worries of the waistline. In time whether I become a spinner-knitter-dyer, a knitter-spinner-dyer, or some other combination, will become clearer. And really, all that affects is switching the words around on my blog heading. And how much budget goes to fiber vs yarn. And whether my cards will list "web developer, knitter, actor" or "web developer, spinner, actor" ... or perhaps ... "web developer, fiber artist, actor". For now, I'll just say there'll be a lot more spinning and dyeing going on than knitting.

Ironically, I have knitting updates today! A finished and steamed Picovoli:

Picovoli

Photos of me wearing it will follow post-flu.

And I picked up The Red and The Black again. I tried simple ribbing but didn't like the effect, so I stuck to simple stockinette stitch. Check out the striping at the heel:

The Red and The Black - in progress

Thanks for the nice comments on the dyed rovings, I'm glad you like them too. :)

Just a quick post today, Tylenol Flu has me feeling hopped up, tired and mentally absent. I'm thinking slow, speaking even slower and moving at a snail's pace. I wanted to show you the leftovers dyepot yarn:

leftovers dyepot

It's really green, isn't it? It's a bit tough to capture the color and there is more variation in the tones, but yeah, it's mostly green.

leftovers dyepot

Actually, what I really want to show you is the alpaca 2-ply:

more stripes alpaca 2 ply

Isn't it purty? So soft, too. I want to pet it.

I'm sick. Flu, I think. Blech.

Here's the leftovers dyepot predrafted:

leftovers dyepot

and half of it spun up:

current projects

It's been a while since I spun bluefaced leicester and I miss it. I miss the springiness and softness of the finished yarn. Nice stuff.

Also pictured:

  • Picovoli, almost done. I want to finish but I know I won't be able to wear it for a while so I'm lacking motivation. However, I do want to start on the next summer knit so I best get cracking.
  • Yarn for my Sockapaloooza sockpal! It's Danette Taylor superwash merino in ... I don't know ... seaweed, maybe? Sockpal likes jewel tones so I think it's a good match! I looked for clues on their blog and decided to take an aspect of something they're interested in and use it for design inspiration. I don't know how it will work for socks, it might be one of those "cool concept, not so interesting for socks" kinda things, but I'm hoping it will be "cool concept, interesting socks". Or maybe even, "cool concept, cool socks!" Wouldn't that be nifty?
  • Stripey superwash merino in my continuing attempts to get a decent color representation. Here's another try:

stripey number

and another:

stripey number

Actually, the last one is pretty close!

Last night's dyeing yielded:

more stripes

Alpaca on the left, 100's merino on the right. I love how the colors came out! I couldn't wait to try some out, so tonight I spun up some of the alpaca, and man, was it tough! Not to mention a big mess. Had Scott running scared (though he braved the mass of shedding fibers and gave me a peck on the head). From what I understand, the trick with alpaca is to put just enough twist to hold it together; too much twist and it gets wiry and loses its softness. It's a slippery fiber, too. Well, I was doing fine until I started plying, and the second singles kept breaking on me. Guess "just enough twist to hold it together" is not quite enough if you're plying. It made a beautiful looking skein, though. I love the way it looks! And it's actually quite soft. I don't know what it would be like to knit with it, seems kinda hairy and like it would shed. I guess I'd better do a swatch. I know I need to knit more of what I spin to learn what makes a good-for-knitting yarn, ya know?

I'd like to do some more dyeing, but I'll need a new color combo. I think we've all seen enough turquoise, blue and violet to last us a while, eh? Not to mention all the turquoise, blue and violet we'll continue to see as I spin up the rest of the last 2 batches... hehe... any suggestions? :)

Our TiVo arrived today and Scott already likes it. We can pause, we can record, we can rewind, we can make the TV wait for us, instead of rushing for it. Not that we watch that much TV. He's busy playing WoW, I'm busy spinning or knitting. But there are a few shows we like to watch, and it's nice to know we can watch them on our schedule.

Boy, I sound like an ad, eh?

Pico-oh-oh

Picovoli is oh-so-close to being done. The bottom and top picot edges are complete, just need to do the armhole edges. Sewing up the picot edges was very time consuming, surprisingly so. Picot edges in crochet are a lot of work for a pretty, dainty effect. I never liked doing them and probably avoided patterns with too much picot edging. In knitting, it's not so different. Creating the picot effect is very easy, but sewing the edge down is tedious. Well, all the more so when you have to redo it several times.

The picot edge won't lay flat, either. Steaming helps some, but I wonder if a plain edge would have been better? I wanted a slightly dressier look, though. We'll see how it steams up.

Roaster action

The merino, alpaca and last of the tussah silk were still soaking from the weekend so last night I cooked 'em up in the roaster:

more stripes

Hmm, look familiar? Yup, same colors as the stripey number. This time, simple repeating stripes and no exact measurements. I think the merino may have felted some, boooo. The roaster didn't seem hot enough so I turned it up. And then it was too hot. Booooo. The dye didn't penetrate far into the silk (thirsty stuff) so I'll have to overdye it. There are some white spots in the merino and alpaca, which is fine. The merino took the color flatter than the superwash did. Interesting to see how the different fibers behave.

Note to self

10 minutes in the morning is not enough time to rinse out dyed fibers. I know it's hard to resist, but self, you're better off doing it after work. It doesn't affect when the fiber will be dry (either way you wouldn't get to spin it until tomorrow night), and you won't have to rush to work. Just sayin'.

It's not April 1st, but we got snow anyway:

April snow

It came down hard from morning til mid-afternoon, and then melted away. It's been warm enough (thank goodness) that there was no accumulation on the roads, and actually, it was quite pretty and pristine. Still, I'm so tired of winter this year! Maybe I just haven't been getting out enough, going straight from work to home, and staying in much of the weekend as well. And before that I was home job hunting and didn't even go out to work! I am very ready for spring.

It's not just the weather that's got me down. One of the big things on my mind these days is Gram. Every week we go to see her she's doing a little bit worse. She used to take care of us each week, cook us meals, pick up groceries for us to take home (including things Scott didn't have the heart to admit he didn't like), give us pocket money. Now we take care of her; first it was bills and mail, now it's groceries, necessities, dinner, and of course, chocolate. Gotta bring the chocolate.

Last week I noticed her fingernails were really long. I sat on the floor and did my best to trim them with crappy clippers, the only ones I could find. I tried to get Gram to find another pair but she kept getting distracted and forgetting and I just had to chuckle to myself and remind her to look again. As I clipped she kept twitching so I was afraid I was hurting her. I figured those salon ladies chatted you up to distract you so I did my best to do the same. Later Scott told me she was falling asleep and every time I said something she woke up. He kept trying to signal to me but I was so focused on not clipping her finger that I didn't notice at all. In fact, I was sweating. Literally. I felt like I had tunnel vision. It was pretty stressful. For a moment I stepped outside the situation and thought it was a sweet picture, Gram in her easy chair, me on the floor giving her my best manicure. Hehe. Me sweating, Gram napping.

Last week Scott called me during the day, left a message; he sounded out of breath or upset, and told me to call him. All I could think was "something's happened to Gram" and I started to panic and think the worst. Turned out he had gone for a ride and was winded. Nothing special.

For the last few years, I've been waiting for that call about my grandmother. Every time my mom called, I waited for some indication that everything was fine before I could breathe easy. Any time it seemed like "something was up" I tensed and prepared for the worst. Once I got the call that my grandmother no longer recognized family, it was a sort of closure. I know "the call" will come some day and it won't be easy. It will probably take a couple of days for it to really register. Shock. She's so far away and not part of my every day life... not like Gram is.

Anyway, the fibery stuff is a good distraction.

Here's the leftovers dyepot from the other night:

leftovers dyepot

Mostly teals, which settled in the bottom of the dyepot. I predrafted tonight and there were bits that were a little felted, so I still need to work on that. It was definitely better than the last immersion dyed batch. The colors softened up in the predrafted bundles, too.

The sunfires were a little hard to photograph:

sunfire

Below, left to right: tussah silk, superwash, bluefaced leicester:

sunfire

I actually really like this photo of them. Vivid. Nice Project Spectrum shot, eh? And the darker half, really hard to photograph:

sunfire

sunfire

And continuing in the hard to photograph category, the stripey superwash:

stripey number

The colors are darker than shown. It's surprisingly silky and very soft. Should I ply it now to sample it?...

I was getting frustrated fiddling with the new wheel until I decided to just clean and oil the whole thing and start from scratch. That's what I did Friday night. Before our date.

We've been married 6 months and together for over 4 years and this is maybe our 6th date; we sorta skipped the whole dating thing and became a couple. A coupla what? Don't ask. (The date went well until the kids-who-don't-give-a-shit sat a few seats away in the movie theater. They talked, to each other and on the phone, and gave worn "whatevah"'s to angry "shhh"'s. I wanted to deck them. Instead, I stormed into the theatre lobby in search of theatre personnel, only to find it vacant. Grrrr. This is part of why it's been months since we've been to the movies. That and unemployment will do it every time.)

Fiddle fiddle, and inaugural plying, transforming Jacob singles:

Jacob singles

into Jacob 2-ply (ooh, aah):

Jacob 2-ply

I could feel parts were softer than others, where I had put in just enough twist. While plying, I worked to stay ahead of the twist, to maintain softness. It was a bit tough to see the yarn but somehow it came out better than usual. Here's a closeup:

Jacob 2-ply

Almost 4 oz on one bobbin without squishing, gotta love it. It's pretty much balanced, too. And the mini-skein plied with what was left on one bobbin was balanced as well. What a shocker.

In other shocking news, I started spinning the stripey number from yesterday and decided to do a sample card like June recommended:

Sample card

I've been referring to it often and have been adjusting my spinning accordingly. It really helps! When I first read her post I thought it was a fabulous idea, but I also didn't think I'd be trying it any time soon because I'm too impatient. I don't like stopping to switch hooks, never mind to switch hooks and compare my spinning to my sample. The thing is, I didn't want to "waste" this fiber. It's not precious or anything, it's just cool. And I wanted to make something with it that would be maybe as cool. You know? So instead of winging it and speeding through it, I decided to put concerted effort into it. I think it'll pay off.

Which reminds me. Despite the concerted effort and thought and sample card, I'm not sure what to do with it. I was thinking maybe socks, or maybe a scarf, since it's kinda thin for sock knitting (for me). Does superwash block okay in a lace scarf?

Oh, and by the way, this superwash is so silky. It feels fabulous!

PPS: The wheel rocks!

The Mama:

The Mama

Her Babies:

Coccoons

They're getting away!

The Great Escape!

(no fiber was harmed in the making of this story; the fiber entities in this story are fictitional and any resemblance to actual fiber entities is purely coincidental; colors may not be accurately captured; all rights reserved)

No finished Picovoli, but there was dyeing.

I lamented not having a microwave I could use for dyeing because of the speed and convenience with which I could dye a batch. Recently, I realized that I could achieve nearly the same results using my pasghetti pot or roaster as a steamer. 20 minutes of steam and done, quick as you please. The arrival of a bundle of undyed fibers from Little Barn (March Madness sale, bought with proceeds from stash sales, yippee!) was the perfect occasion to give it a try.

Friday night I pre-soaked 8 oz of superwash merino, 8 oz of bluefaced leicester, 4 oz of 100's merino (so excited to try this), 4 oz of superfine alpaca, and just under 2 oz of natural tussah silk. A lot, eh?

Saturday night I couldn't find the motivation to get started. I sat reading Color in Spinning, which I borrowed from the BASD library. If anything, I felt overwhelmed and confused. Scott even came in multiple times to find out why I was sitting around not dyeing. Simply, I didn't know what I was doing. I had no clue! I've done a few dyeing experiments but either I was using a single color in varying intensities, or doing a "luck of the dyepot" mix without really knowing how it would turn out. Well, this was no different in that I still didn't know how it would turn out, but since I was painting, I had to pick colors to paint, and figure out how wide I wanted the strips, and and and...

Scott reminded me to have fun and go play. Yup, play. Go make some mistakes and learn. Okay.

I wanted to work with the same colors from the last leftovers dyepot because I loved the way it turned out and I wouldn't have thought to combine those colors before. That was a good starting point. I set up the little bit of counter space with mixing jars and tubs of dye, grabbed my syringes, and started mixing up some combinations. A bunch of them. Which was fun, but brought me no closer to getting dyed fiber!

Mixing in cramped quarters

So I decided to focus on the three colors in 2 different intensities, and made lengthy calculations based on information in Color in Spinning to determine the amount of dye and water and vinegar to add to each of the six mixing jars. 3 dark stripes separating 3 lighter sections. My brain was pretty pooped by then.

Once they were all measured out, and my floor space set up, I started placing the colors. And made a series of mistakes and tactical errors.

My dyeing "pattern" was based on a repeating 9" length. The fiber was continuous, so had to be folded back and forth; which meant at the folding points the pattern would be a mirror image. Tactical error number 1. Wet fiber does not pull apart easily (or at all?), so I adjusted my pattern to work with the mirror imaging. But, when I started adding the first series of stripes, I placed them as in the original pattern. Mistake number 1. I mixed up some more of the same dye and had to swap out one of the darker stripes. But in adding those stripes, I got confused and added some at the wrong location. Mistake number 2. I added the rest of the dyes without much incident. It was hard to get the colors to spread uniformly, the dye just stuck wherever it was put and mooshing made little difference. Also, I looked underneath and noticed a lot of the dye did not soak through to the other side. Tactical error, or mistake? I flipped the whole thing over (which was not easy) but didn't have enough dye to saturate the colors. Oh well.

Here it is painted on superwash merino:

Superwash stripes, painted

My notebook is right there, fat lot of good it did me. And a close up:

Superwash stripes, painted

The inbetween sections are supposed to be at .5% intensity, but it looks much stronger. The book said painting takes twice as much dye as immersion dyeing, so I doubled up. I don't think this was the right thing to do. Again, tactical? Mistake?

I had enough of that. Haven't you? Too much work, too time consuming. Too many mistakes. Though the steaming was quick and easy:

Superwash stripes, cooling

So I switched gears and did some red/orange/yellow gradations. I figured those were nice and easy, just 2 dye colors, and they're the April Project Spectrum colors. Oh yeah, I also took inspiration from one of the photos in The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook.

Again, mapped out the pattern, mixed up some colors and calculated amounts of dye and all that. But this time I decided to go with the Twisted Sisters method of spritzing the vinegar at the end (though I was skeptical this would be enough vinegar). I hoped this would make the dye mooshing go easier. I'll spare you the details of tactical errors and mistakes, suffice it to say, the tone of the evening had been set.

Here is the superwash merino packet all ready to be steamed:

Superwash sunfire, painted and wrapped

And shortly thereafter I realized I forgot the vinegar. Good thing I remembered before the steaming!

And the same colorway on bluefaced leicester (and this time I didn't forget about one of the jars):

BFL sunfire, painted

BFL sunfire, painted

BFL sunfire, painted

Rinse and repeat on natural tussah silk. Besides not wanting to do more calculations and come up with more color combos, I wanted to see how the same dyes and sequence would look on different fibers. I'm calling it sunfires.

Steaming was, again, quick and easy. All 3 packets steamed at the same time, in only 20 minutes. Ahhh. And ready to cool:

Superwash, BFL and silk sunfire, cooling

I was ready to fall over by then but thought I'd do another leftovers dyepot on some more bluefaced leicester:

BFL leftovers dyepot

I kept throwing in this and that until I was reasonably satisfied.

Steam setting is very quick and efficient. Painting is very time consuming! I suppose if I didn't go to the trouble of calculating everything out, it wouldn't be so bad. But I wouldn't be able to reproduce it. Also, now that I've figured out the numbers, I could do it again relatively pain-free. And, I even mixed up some extra sunfire colors for next time. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm glad I finally just got started. You gotta start somewhere, right?

Also, mooshing was much more successful in sunfires than the stripey number. It could be coincidental, it could be the higher dye intensity, maybe the lack of vinegar in the dye solutions, who knows. Maybe painting lighter colors is harder?

Here's sunfires post-rinse:

Superwash, BFL and silk sunfire, rinsed

From top to bottom, bluefaced leicester, superwash merino and tussah silk.

Superwash, BFL and silk sunfire, rinsed

And the stripey number, mostly dried (I rinsed it last night; the others I was good and let sit overnight):

Superwash stripes, dried

Superwash stripes, done

The good news: the stripey number is so soft! I didn't overcook/handle it so I think spinning will be smooth sailings. The other fibers are still wet but I think they've also been gently treated. Yay!

And finally, in non-fibery but very exciting news, we may be getting TiVo! Amazon is having a good deal and I've been wanting TiVo ever since I visited my sister.

I debated flashing my stash. There's a lot. I mean, a lot. And while much of it is beautiful, interesting and worthy of admiring gazes, well, it's a lot. So instead of showing you all of it skein by skein, I'll show you most of it from 20,000 feet. And you'll get an idea of where the yarn room organization is (mostly done but still in progress). And you'll just have to imagine the rest.

(Most of the fiber and dyes and stuff is in the metal rack to the right.)

Yarn Room

Tonight: fiber dyeing. And maybe a finished Picovoli!