Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dyeing success!

Yesterday, I spent time dyeing on my own while S napped. The results were a little strange. I used for the first time the fingering weight yarn from Wool2Dye4. Nice yarn, sold by the half pound (or pound I think). I didn't realize until today that I failed to do the first step yesterday as I was in a hurry. I didn't soak the yarn in the water/vinegar mixture. Anywho, I was back on the Kool-Aid bus and did this interesting green/brown/yellow mix. There's some white in there also but I realize now that was due to the fact that the yarn wasn't saturated to begin with. I wasn't thrilled with it in the cake....but it swatched very nicely. So much so that Callista wants me to knit her some socks out of it. Surprising because purple is nowhere to be found. And it actually came out sort of self-striping. Interesting.
But the real success was today at Linda's when we finally got around to using the acid dyes. She purchased the dye from Dharma Trading Company. We had a bunch of colors. She went first with russet, chartreuse, chestnut, and a red whose name is escaping me. It definitely came out looking like an autumn leaves kind of colorway. We basically laid saran on the floor and squeezed the dye onto the yarn then wrapped the sections, stuck it all in a bowl and microwaved. For mine we tried it a little differently. The colorway was sky blue, violet, chartreuse, and emerald. It was interesting this time because even though we soaked the yarn ahead of time, it was really hard at first to get the dye to stick so to speak and i can't really figure out why. Might be that the yarn was upright in ziploc bags......yes, it was easier to take six bags, stick a u-shaped section into each bag and then squeeze the dye. Some collected in the bottom but it was easy to just squeeze it up onto the rest of the dye.
Then we microwaved that yarn, rinsed, spun and we ended up with the yarn cake you see here (I took the pictures from two angles so that you could see more of the colors). The chartreuse came out really neon. I was kind of surprised by that. The violet I actually ended up overdyeing because it didn't come out dark enough the first time. So I whipped up some more dye in a mason jar and just re-dyed that portion. I'm going to keep this colorway for myself. And I am going to send the purple, green, yellow combo to my dyeorama pal because I think that she will probably like that the best. At least I hope so. I've got to get her some goodies, and she has a pup, so he's getting goodies for sure! Can't wait to see what my pal comes up with for me!


Just a drive by post to say that I dyed yesterday and today and will post pictures of the interesting results later. Yesterday not too fabulous, though it looks a lot better swatched up and today awesome with the acid dyes. Also, found yet another toad...wonder what we are doing to attract them????

It's hotter than hellfire here, hope you are cool wherever you are!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Busy little beaver

I was a good girl and started my socks last night. And here are the first three inches of the cuff to prove it. I can't believe how many people who are already either finished with the socks or almost finished with the socks according to the Sock Club KAL. I'm loving the linen stitch and already thinking about other ways to use the stitch. I'm thinking towels. Or maybe a tissue box cover. I have this sick need to make at least some of what I knit more useful and something I can see in the house at all times.

I got up early early this morning to get outside and do something, anything. I finally felt well enough to do more than complain about my head. So, out the door to lay down the grub ex in the yard, the meadow, every last ever-loving bare spot of grass that I could find. Cause those little bastards are everywhere, which also means that I have moles, cause they are eating the grubs, just not fast enough :) Took an hour and at eight a.m. it was hotter than hell, or I should say more humid than hell. Rotten. But, I pressed on. Got some hosta and some hydrangea moved to their new homes (right before the deer end up eating all of my hosta, I figure I'd like to see them at least). The girls were happy today in the yard because we found two ladybugs, an inchworm (yes, we sang the song), and this pretty cool toad. He's living in a stump from an oak tree we had to cut down due to proximity to the house. There's a nice hole in the middle of rot where it's shady and damp and the perfect toad house. He's quite the jumper, and I know that because I picked him up and the little bugger tried to get away from me multiple times.

And I weeded, I weeded a whole darn lot. The problem for me is that my garden beds are way too big and daunting. After five hours in the garden (granted, not all of them spent weeding), I only had weeded the front of one of my major beds. But, at least it's done, I put down the weed preventer and hopefully at least the front of the bed is good for another month. I'm dreaming a bit here, but I have to after all those hours. The strawberries are really ripening nicely, the broccoli doesn't look great, but there is still time and I have some hopeful looking carrots. We'll see. But, when I saw this clematis bloom today, I had that "it's all worth it moment."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Here's what's growing at my house

Since that last post was so text heavy, I thought you deserved flowers for putting up with it. So, here's what's currently blooming at my house. The first azalea I only include because it's one of the ones I vented about earlier, one of six that the deer chewed on all winter because I was a fool and didn't wrap them. I point this out because as you can see, all bloom and no leaves.
And just to prove that the deer are selective (and stupid), here's one from the front yard that I wish they would have touched because I have decided that regardless of the fact this color is currently existing in nature, it shouldn't.

On to more beautiful things, like my Beverly Sills bearded iris. I planted these suckers two years ago, and this is the first year they look decent. Sadly, something, a child, a pet, or an interloper stepped on one of the other stalks that had three potential blooms on it. Despite me bringing it in and trying to nurse it towards a bloom, I think the shoot was broken too early and I am going to have to give it up and throw it out.
I also have these fab hot pink rhodies in the front yard that are making me want to get my dye out and try to duplicate it. I'm thinking gloves because nothing cheers me more on a winter day than hot pink (well, maybe a hot toddy). When I was growing up in Virginia, we really only had rhodies in a sort of bland lilac but I loved them not knowing that someday I would have access to these hot pink ones.
I also have some bleeding heart that's on it's last legs but still divine, some sort of mystery creeper with delicate white flowers (definitely not phlox, but probably in the family) and a bunch of other darlings waiting to join the party. There's this enormous clematis bloom just kicking in to high gear that I can't wait to photograph when it is at its peak. Tomorrow I must fertilize and weed (ugh!), but now I am off to start the linen stitch cuff of the socks!

The curious incident of the pull-up in the nighttime

I've been sick since Tuesday with this cold from hell that is going from bad to worse. I'm also not a great patient, so it probably is me saying it's worse than it is. I've been doping with Zicam Extreme Sinus (the equivalent of firecrackers going off in your sinuses: painful but effective) and DayQuil/NyQuil depending on the hour. I confess I have medicine head and this week has not been the greatest for my decision making skills.


Last night, I was getting the girls ready for bed. Daughter #2, S, is not quite potty-trained. Mostly it's a #2 issue and I'm starting to panic a little because she is going to school in the fall, and we just aren't there yet. She'll be three in July and this just seems to be taking an extraordinary amount of time, not to mention effort on both of our parts. But, I digress.

So, I am getting the girls ready for bed. S goes to the potty, C goes to the potty. I put a pull-up on S and put her in bed. I go off to do something and see that it appears she has gone again in the pull-up (unusual, but whatever) so i take that one off, I throw it out and then I put the new pull-up on her. Reading, snuggling, prayers, whining, and they're in dreamland.

I wait for DH to return from his evening trip to Home Depot. We watch some TV, I continue on my now endless quest to swatch correctly the Socks that Rock pattern of this month. Seriously? Seriously. I am getting to the point of madness on these little f'ers. I have the linen stitch to 30 stitches on size 1's and I think that is just going to have to do so I can start these darn things. Besides the 0's and 00's won't be arriving from Astrid until sometime next week.

Again, I digress. Around 11 ish I am ready to go to bed, hopped up on Nyquil and I decide to honor my promise to the girls to move them into our bed to sleep. I admit it, I know the snuggling and the wanting to snuggle us is going to be coming to an end here, sooner than I want, so I take my opportunities when I have them. I go up, C wakes up enough to walk down the steps (which was pretty hysterical because she looked like one of my roommates in college after a night on the town all wobbly and babbly), and I am carrying S in my arms. I lay S down in the bed and realize she has no pull-up on. She's naked as a jaybird under her nightgown.

This gives me pause. As DH mentioned to me earlier in the day, there was a pull-up failure during nap time and she ended up leaking all over the bed (oh, and BTW, she's in panties the rest of the time just nap and bed time with the pull ups cause I don't love cleaning pee out of beds). I think to myself, "Self, I know you put a pull-up on her because I have such clear recollection of putting not one but two pull-ups on her prior to bedtime." Hmmmm....but as I am doped up on Nyquil, I really don't care enough to go up and figure out what happened to the pull-up. I put the third one on of the night and off to dreamland.

My curiosity overcame my laziness this morning and I went up to their room to discover a completely ripped-off pull-up on the floor next to the bed. So, no, I'm not crazy and I did put it on her.

But, this would explain why at one point after I put them to bed, she proceeded to scream bloody murder to try to get me to come upstairs. Naturally, I ignored it, and for the first time, not to my peril because thank the Gods, she didn't pee in the bed even after three hours of being au naturale.

Oh, and C woke up with pink eye, but hey, it's all par for the course right? After all, it is a holiday weekend. Hope you are enjoying yours.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Swatch this!

I have swatched both the linen stitch and the stockinette stitch twice already for my Socks that Rock pattern of the month. I'm getting a little irritated because I just want to start them already!!!! But, at least, since the yarn is so awesome, I am getting joy out of the colors and texture. I bought some size 1's today hoping that at least one of the stitches will gauge up correctly on those because after that I will have to order if I want to get smaller needles. Luckily there is a great online source (overseas) that has less expensive Addi's and fast shipping. So, if you are looking for teeny needles and want them quickly, go see Astrid.

A promise for a photo of the head scarf later. DH is finally home long enough to take one for me!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

the Spring Cold

I think I made it through the entire winter without a cold. Had the stomach bug a couple of times to make up for no cold, but to the best of my recollection, no cold.

And now, full-blown, kill-me-now cold. Which is why no entry yesterday. I'm hoping to post later a pic of me in the finally finished Chevron Scarf that I am using as a head scarf. Have to figure out a way to make it so the darn thing doesn't keep slipping off of my head.

And I am swatching up the linen stitch portion of the socks I am knitting from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. An interesting swatch to me because for the first time, I have to use smaller, not bigger needles. Guess after two and a half years, I have finally loosened up in my knitting.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Just a thought

My ball winder ought to be called a ball buster because that's all it's been doing to mine the past few days (pun very much intended). As if the problems with the swift of a week ago were not enough, now my ball winder is ganging up on me with the swift to cause more havoc. I'm happily balling my Socks that Rock yarn when the ball winder literally flies off of the kitchen table. It's got to be me. Because I've never heard of this happening to anyone else and yesterday I had to hold down the base of the winder while I wound with the other arm/hand. Thank God there was no food nearby because if I had gotten food on the Fairgrounds yarn, someone would have had to die at my hands for me to feel justice.

The squeeze bottle yarn

Yet another go at dyeing yesterday. This time with the squeeze bottles and some Wilton color. I wish the picture did the beauty of the yarn justice. I used leaf green, violet, and golden yellow in a very small amount. I would say less than half a teaspoon. Probably more like a quarter of a teaspoon of the Wilton gel. Put it in the bottles with some warm water and then added vinegar (I had already soaked my yarn in vinegar and warm water). Linda was over again and she helped me figure out the how of what we wanted to do.

We planned on using Saran Wrap to lay the yarn on, then squirt the dye onto the yarn. We realized after the fact that instead of me laying out three big sheets of Saran, we should have had individual strips of Saran going around in a circle (underneath the yarn) in order to individually wrap each color section. But, I actually got kind of lucky the way I did it. When I added the vinegar to the violet, the squeeze bottle contents seemed to turn navy blue which was strange and unexpected. The golden yellow, stayed golden yellow, and the green was pretty damn green.

We saturated the yarn with color, gently tossed the Saran-wrapped yarn into a plastic container and into the microwave it went. Two minutes on, two minutes off for 10 minutes or so. And the blue went back to purple as you can see and I only had one section of gold that looked a little tie-dyed because of how it was laying in the Saran. A little bit of green in the gold, but not a big deal.

I think I want to call the yarn either Iris for it's natural namesake or Jerry Garcia Iris because of the tie dye!

I've almost finished with the chevron head scarf, and I am very happy with how it is turning out. I'm only making it as long as I want it because the pattern is just too long for what I want it for. The Koigu was an expensive but nice choice and I hope to post a picture very soon of me wearing it.

I think I'll go wind up my Socks that Rock yarn because I just can't wait any longer! Too pretty!

Monday, May 22, 2006

My amateur dyeing tips

As I round out my whopping fourth skein of hand-dyed yarn, it's time to impart some wisdom about the dyeing process.

1) Start small and simple: use kool-aid (several packets if you want brighter colors and use WHITE vinegar as the fixative) to try your hand at this. And use the mason jars/microwave method. It's faster than the stovetop and so far I see no appreciable difference. You can also drop-by-drop brighten it up with food coloring (the dye bath). You get great bright colors that would be cute for socks or kids hats/scarves.

2) If you go the Wilton icing colors route, know that those are very volatile in that what color you think you are going to get might not actually be the color that you get. Like when we did the squirt bottle/Saran wrap method--I chose green, purple and golden yellow. By the time I added in some vinegar, the purple looked navy blue. After cooking in the micro, it looked deep purple and once dry, it was actually a nice color of purple that looked good with the other two. And also, with Wilton less is more . Somewhere it said to use 2 teaspoons of the stuff and that was how Linda's came out looking like psychotic clown hair. (no offense Linda, I only say that because you've said worse about it). The second time around that she and I did yarn, we used 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon with much prettier results .

3) If you are planning on doing a multi-color yarn, long skeins seem to be the easier way to go, that way you can put a little bit in each jar, if you go the jar route. Or you can stretch the circle of yarn out nice and wide for the Saran route and even make tiny stripes if you want to do self-striping sock yarn.

I'll add more to this list as I think of more tips.

Back on the Dye

After the dyeing/wrapping debacle of last week, I felt I needed to redeem myself. Friday afternoon while S slept, I took my opportunity. This time, I wanted to try the Kool-Aid method but not so pastel like it turned out the first time. Didn't love that. I took my 100g of yarn and wrapped it into a somewhat longer hank and cut it in half (well almost half; forgot to use the scale and ended up with a 40 g/ 60 g split, but whatever). Then I mixed up my Kool Aid with some warm water and some vinegar (mind you, no scientific amounts). I used lemonade, cherry and mountain berry as one color, and then orange. I also revved up the yellow with some yellow food coloring and the orange with a couple of drops of yellow and a couple of drops of red food coloring and voila! I was ready for the microwave:

I confess this part wasn't very scientific either because I was ironing some shirt in between. But, basically, I would heat the jars for 2 minutes, let them cool for about 2 minutes and then repeat. I did this at least five times, but the real indicator was that when I started to lift the yarn out of the jars the water was heading towards clear (love what a great fixative vinegar is). I also made sure to use a small syringe to fill in the color where it didn't seem dark enough (the parts that were out of each jar and still receiving color) because I didn't want there to be too abrupt color changes. And the result is what I am calling Sunfire.
Sorry for the gratuitous picture of my azalea, but since it is the healthiest one in the garden right now, I couldn't resist. I have azaleas in all stages of bloom right now, many with blooms and no leaves (damn, those deer!). And the lily of the valley are in full bloom now, unbelievable fragrance, but I digress.

I have to figure out now which skein to send to my dye-o-rama pal. I was thinking maybe the first skein in the blues and greens, but since she likes bright colors, I am thinking that though this is an undersized skein by 10 g, maybe I will send this and a little something else. Thoughts?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

These socks rock!

Due to my extraordinary hangover yesterday, (which I can't quite figure out why it was so bad) I was unable to blog.

But, I am back and have to share with you that I just got my first shipment from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and their Socks that Rock club. I opened up my package and found the following:

Love the binder that holds all kinds of great info and a really cool free pattern. I have a Socks that Rock! button which I am sure C will confiscate immediately. The bumper sticker that I will have to find a home for (really I should give it to my best friend, who is not a knitter, but is dedicated every day to wearing mismatched socks). The cutest mini-skein of sock yarn and of course the sock yarn in Fairgrounds! Awesome! I'm going to have to swift this yarn up immediately to enjoy the yarn cake all the more.

I'm psyched to see how awesome the other shipments are. I also have some dye work to show, but will have to get that in later as I promised C she could use the computer! (spellchecker isn't working, so my apologies if my internal spellchecker screwed up in this entry)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Da Vinci

I'm really not going to rant about this, but I will say the following:

Remember when Dan Quayle started talking about Murphy Brown being an unwed mother and ended up looking like such a schmuck because Murphy was a fictional character?

Insert Catholic Church for Dan and Da Vinci for Murph. 'Nuff said.

What do you mean there's no coffee?

Those of you who know me know that I am a one-cup a day girl. I don't ask for much, I just want my one cup of caffeine in the morning. I have to watch my intake of caffeine because I have IBS and caffeine has a major negative effect on my gut. So, it's one cup and I'm happy, just enough to take the edge off the morning and deal with the beginning of the day. Because, let's face it, I'm no morning person. Kids who get up at dawn have not changed that for me.

And then I go to make my one cup on the way out the door yesterday morning (we have that awesome one-cup Keurig brewer that does coffee and tea or just hot water and it makes my life so much easier because I can make one cup without fooling around with a pot and grounds and all that other crap) and my coffee maker is broken. There's a little needle that pokes a hole in the bottom of the k-cup (Which holds the coffee and acts like a filter) and the damn thing isn't punching holes in the bottom of the k-cup, so nowhere for the water to go through and make coffee.

I know, it's just coffee, and truthfully, I think it's more of a mental addiction than an actual physical one, but I want my coffee and I want it now. Mind you, it's not like I don't own other coffee makers. In fact, at one point, my husband and I were really hardcore, grind the beans at home, searching for the perfect bean for the perfect cup kind of people. We own, and this is no exaggeration, at least 7 coffee makers. We have at least three four-cuppers. We have the Barista Utopia from Starbucks that had more problems than actual cups of drinkable coffee; it should have come with an actual Barista for goodness sake. There's a cuisinart that was crazy expensive and worked but was a pain to clean. And then we have all the other crap ones in 12 and 10 cups that we got at miscellaneous linens n things type stores.

I could obviously make a cup of coffee. I have the equipment. I even have some ground coffee in the freezer that my mom drinks when she is here. But, did I make coffee? No. Did I get out of the car in the pouring rain to go into Starbucks? Well, I didn't actually do that either (even I have my limits for coffee). But, I did go through the Drive Thru at Dunkin. And it was a good Latte, let me tell ya.

The new part is winging its way to my house right now. For the sake of my readers and the safety of my children and husband, let's hope it gets here soon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm Dyeing here

My friend Linda and I signed up to do the Dye-o-rama together. Yes, my friends, there really is safety in numbers. How the two of us got through today without imbibing gratuitous amounts of alcohol is beyond me.

I got to her house with S in tow around 11 a.m. with my paraphenalia--mason jars, latex gloves, Paas egg dye, and of course, yarn. She already had some yarn and some food dye (Wilton icing colors) to try. So, first we say, okay we need to get our skeins into really long skeins to get the dyeing going. She starts winding on two chairs, I start winding on two chairs, and by now it's probably about 11:30 a.m. She begins to get really tangled. Within five minutes of that, I too am in a wicked mess. Around 2:30 p.m. ( four freaking hours later) Linda has finally balled up her yarn so that she can now go back to the chair situation and actually wind the yarn around the two chairs. Not me! I'm still trying to untangle and it's time to pick up the kids.

I go pick up the kids at our school, she goes and picks up her older daughter to take her to Hebrew school and not until 5:00 p.m. am I ready to start dyeing the yarn. In the meantime, she gets home from her errand and starts dyeing her yarn, in what we hope will turn out as some sort of autumn colors, a green, a copper and a peach. Let's just say, that is not what she ended up with as you can see on her above referenced site.

I chose to do mine in the microwave instead of on the stove and I ended up with these colors using the Paas egg dye tablets. One color was supposed to be deep purple but ended up a weird mix because I accidentally put a purple tablet in with a green one. Whatever, it kind of looks cool. Darker than my initial Kool-Aid fiasco, but clearly not yet at the brightness I am looking for in the end. She's got the real acid dyes for us to try next, but important lessons here folks:

1) Take your undyed yarn and for the love of God and your own sanity, swift that sucker into a ball before you try to stretch it out on two chairs.

2) And, perhaps, though we were both loathe to think of this, do a swatch if you are unsure of the brightness or exact shade of color cause you don't want some horrified sheep showing up on your doorstep saying, "How could you, you lover of yarn, you yarn whore, create such a monstrosity as this?"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Dear Dye O Rama Secret Pal

I've been remiss in posting the answers to these questions on the blog because until I checked my secret pal's site, I had no idea that I was supposed to! Can you tell I'm new at this! Thank God I saw my pal's site cause she doesn't like self striping yarn and I was going to send her some of that! Whoops!
Here goes:

Your favorite colors? purple, blue, pink, bright green (no limey crap)

Preferred yarn weight (Fingering, Sport, DK, maybe even Worsted)? I would say for socks definitely fingering

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn? multicolored

If your buddy is able to do so, would you like a variegated, self-striping, or self-patterning yarn? variegated would be cool, really I don't care, cause I'm a yarn slut and will take anything (though anything is not meant to mean "red heart" :)

Would you be interested in a wool blend sock yarn (nylon, tencel, silk, acrylic, alpaca, etc.)? whatever

Imagine the perfect colorway. What would you name it? My daughter's eyes

What was the biggest appeal to you for joining this dye-along? like the secret pal idea and love the excuse to dye yarn!

General yarn/fiber questions:

Have you dyed yarn/fiber before? yes, only once

If so, whatÂ’s your favorite dye and method? not sure yet as it was only once

Do you spin? not yet (I still enjoy spending time with my family)

Have you knit socks before? yah, you betcha

Do you use sock yarn for just socks or in other patterns too? other patterns too (see the Chevron scarf)

What are some of your favorite yarns? Koigu, Rowan Cashsoft, Opal Haguebutte, Koigu, Regia, Knit Picks, and did I mention Koigu

What yarn do you totally covet? amazing cashmere

Favorite patterns? hmmmm, anything I can knit?

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object? in wrap style (I believe) there's that cashmere shawl poncho thing, to die for

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)? like circs best, and i admit, yes, the addi's do make you knit faster

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be? I'd probably be Koigu

Nothing to do with knitting/yarn/fiber in any way but seemed kinda fun:

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack? Hot Tamales

WhatÂ’s your favorite animal? Hmmmmm...when I was little it was rabbits. I love dogs. Yeah, I'll go with dogs

Do you have pets? What are their species/names/ages? Cal, Golden Retriever 100 years old, only kidding he's 12, he just acts like he is 100; Lucy, domestic feline, about 3.5 years old.

If you were a color what color would you be? Purple, really great purple

Describe your favorite shirt (yours or someone elseÂ’s)..soft long-sleeved tshirt, not too tight, not too loose

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature? Irises "An iris is like a woman in love . . ."

Do you have a wishlist? yes

The embroidery

I am such a proud mama. I'm not sure why this year's pillows are so much smaller, but check out the braid stitch and all the new detail!

I've been working on my top secret project a ton. I don't know if I disclosed this before, but it involves 1800 beads. I had not done beadwork prior to this and I love it. Though it's kind of heavy, I really like how it is turning out. I just have to find someone at the end to help me with a sewing portion that I do not know how to do myself.

I'm also thinking about changing up C's dress a little more. I have already decided to knit in some beads at the bottom of it instead of doing big ribbons. But now that I know how to do a Latvian braid, I am thinking that maybe I will do a little Latvian braid at the bottom of it and then work the beading in somehow. A little knowledge in my hands is a dangerous thing!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Though the weather was extraordinarily crappy, it was a great Mother's Day. Went out to breakfast and dinner and had the ultimate family nap! With all this rain, who wants to do anything but sleep anyway? My girls picked out the most beautiful flowers. Funny that on their own they picked out my faves, irises and hydrangea. Just beautiful.

In addition to the amazing flowers, C embroidered me a spectacular butterfly pillow. I don't know how to embroider, but to me it looks as if it is really difficult and especially for a 5 year old. I think I'll have to take a picture of the pillow she made last year, and one of this year, to really do it justice, because WOW has she made progress in one short year. I told her she now has to teach me to embroider.

Hope you mothers, grandmothers, godmothers of human and furry children alike, and all of you who have been like mother's to people had a wonderful day today!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Candace Eisner-Strick

If you don't know her name, you should get to know it. I attended an awesome workshop with her today at Sit N Knit in West Hartford. She was kind enough to teach us her workshop, "25 Tips and Tricks of the Trade." It was a good six hours of instruction and I am truly exhausted.

But, there were so many "lightbulb moments." We learned to knit backwards, we learned to do some really interesting ways to increase and decrease. We learned something called the Latvian Braid, which I assure you is easier than it sounds, but not so easy towards the end of six hours of instruction. We did the invisible cast-on which I wasn't very familiar with, a two-color cast-on and too many things for me to remember right now. I've got to get out my notes to really do all of it justice. Imagine cabling without a cable needle!!!

The good news is, if you don't get to one of her classes, you can at least buy one of her patterns from your LYS. Demand that they carry her if you don't live near WH and can't get to Sit N Knit. She has this line of yarn, Merging Colors, that is really amazing. Of course, I had to buy one kit. What I really want is some of her sock patterns (I think the store will be getting them soon). The socks are too fun! Amazing use of color in the design.

I'll post some pics tomorrow of the kit. And I have to post a picture of the most adorable mother's day present ever from C.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A couple of FO's

When ponchos were all the rage last year, I knit one for S and for C. C's didn't have any fringe (a point I still hear about and may eventually have to rectify), so I include a photo here for your perusal. We've had so many compliments on it lately and, of course, because it's over a year old, I have the "that old thing?" attitude about it. But, it was easy. A Berroco pattern with their Lullaby yarn (which is kind of a PIA to work with, though not as irritating as the Cotton Twist I am using right now--the yarn that thinks its job is to split while I am knitting). I made one as an auction item for C's school also.

And the second item, and clearly more adorable due to the model, is the Umbilical Cord hat from the Stitch N Bitch book. I can't remember the specific yarn name, but I know it was a Lorna's Laces. And the great thing about the pattern and yarn to me was that due to the fact she has such a nicely shaped head and the yarn is elastic, she has gotten more than 6 months out of wearing it. How many baby hats can attest to that! The hat knits up super fast which is always a bonus when you are behind, yet again, on a new baby project.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I haven't had homework in forever. And here I am doing homework for my class on Saturday!

I have to have four swatches ready for Saturday. So, I figured I need to swatch up the Berroco Cotton Twist for the dresses for C and S, so I might as well do one of the swatches in that. And there was that Chunky Cable Purse from Knit Picks(in Wild Rose), that I ordered yarn for a bazillion years ago, so let's wind that up and swatch that (more on the winding later). And then there's some of my Brooklyn Handspun that I want to see knit up so that will be on the list and finally, I need to re-swatch (re-gauge) the yarn for the boxers from Knit Wit.

I managed (in between two of the fussiest children ever; C has had three early dismissals this week and I swear the change in schedule has made her like a hibernating bear that woke up hungry and pissed off) to get half of the Cotton Twist swatch finished and two balls of yarn wound.

The winding from hell that was my swift/ball winder experience today. I'm sure it wasn't the yarn's fault. Really, is it ever? I got the Knit Picks yarn wound no problem. Managed to even get it done while I was on the phone with my mother but before the children noticed I was no longer in the room with them.

And then I got to my fab sock yarn from Brooklyn (and, again, not the yarn's fault) and all hell broke loose. I think I picked the wrong end to lead from the swift to the ball winder (not exactly un uncommon occurrence, but usually less frustrating). I realize this as I am beginning to wind, so I take the yarn off the winder, ball it up without making any knots, and try to tuck it into the yarn on the swift for safe keeping, thinking, of course, it's not going to go anywhere. I put the other end on the ball winder and we're off. That is until all of a sudden I realize (because by now the kids have walked in and everyone wants to be so helpful by winding themselves) that crap, the reason it's gotten so tight is because the yarn is stuck up under the bottom part of the swift's pole (this ends up happening several times, which I wasn't going to mention because of how incredibly daft it makes me look, but there it is). Come on people, there aren't that many working parts right? So I manage to get it reasonably situated with both my hands working (STOP winding, I can't fix my mistakes while you are winding sweetheart) , one holding one end and the other trying to wind and the part of the winder that holds the yarn just pops off. Yes, I know you are supposed to twist it down and lock it, which I did, but again, my helpful children seemed to loosen it just enough for it to pop off. At this point, I don't have very much yarn wound so no big deal, I stick it back on lock it in place and I'm off again.

Wrong. Because now, the little doohickey on the ball winder (the metal curlicue) that holds the yarn, well, it's no longer holding the yarn (phone rings, my mother again; C on computer, needs help; S still trying to wind as I am trying to get the yarn back into the curlicue). Kill me now.

All in all, a great afternoon of fun with the swift. Now, I think I may have misinterpreted the comment of the women at the yarn store when I bought it. Her, "Why would you buy a yarn swift (and yes, I sometimes call it a swifter, because the domestic goddess in me can't keep straight the swiffer and the swift) when they wind it for you at the store?" Me, "Because so much yarn comes in hanks, and I order some from the Internet and I can't exactly ask my LYS to wind yarn I didn't buy there. Oh, and by the way, Jodi at the yarn store is awesome and often offers to wind it, but with the amount of yarn I buy I don't think it's fair for her to end up with one arm looking like Ahhhhnold."

What I really think she meant to say was, "Why in the hell would you ever want to tackle winding your own yarn? You look like a reasonably sane person who would like to keep her sanity . . . do not complete your purchase and don't ever wind your own yarn."

Back to my swatches (and no more parentheses).

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I get my news from Boston Legal

You know when you are watching TV, and there's a story line that you think might possibly be rooted in the truth, and as you are watching your inner skeptic says, "Come on, even American can't be that crazy!"

Well, in fact, watching Boston Legal last night did that for me. And yes, we are that crazy.

Case in point. The Global Gag Rule. As usual, I am late to the party on this one, but I am enraged, yet again, at the absolute arrogance with which we often choose to deal with the rest of the world.

For those of you not familiar with the gag rule, "The Global Gag Rule was reinstated by President George W. Bush on his first day in office in January 2001. Officially termed the Mexico City Policy, these restrictions mandate that no U.S. family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to: perform abortions in cases other than a threat to the womanÂ’s life, rape or incest; provide counseling and referral for abortion; or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country." Because, you know, the third world doesn't have enough problems without Boy (wonder) George getting his hands in there and mucking around.

Naturally, this policy will be easily misinterpreted and the "deciders" who are checking on these local clinics aren't going to be the sharpest tools in the shed. And I'm sure that if they see ANY abortions getting performed, regardless of reason, they're going to yank the funding. Which means these women aren't going to get even basic medical care because they are already stigmatized.

What's so great about this rule is that research is showing that it is not reducing the number of abortions but rather eroding family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries (FYI--all these quotations are coming from Global Gag Rule). Fabulous.

As usual, when it comes to affecting portions of the world, Africa is the hardest hit by this policy. Because, when they should "just" be focusing on starvation and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it's really great to have to decide not to perform an abortion on a rape or incest victim because if you do, the United States won't give you money for food and drugs. Boy, we're really showing the boys and girls abroad the true meaning of Democracy. I can't imagine why everyone thinks we're arrogant and difficult to deal with.

Did I mention that we impeached Clinton over a blow job but we're keeping the village idiot in office while he does absolutely nothing for anyone who doesn't act and think like him? That W is really starting to look like a swastika to me.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We interrupt this blog . . .

Actually, I feel I've interrupted the blog. The past few days have been crazy. The Walk Against Hunger on Sunday was great. Perfect weather! And I am so proud of my team...together we raised over $6300 and we had 11 team members. You can still donate by clicking on the link in the right column. No donation too small!

I got a little sick Sunday night and had a migraine for the majority of yesterday afternoon and evening, so that limited my functionality a bit! And today it's been doctor's appointments and early dismissal, parent conference and gymnastics! Where does the time go?

I'm putting together a video slideshow for C's school so that's going to take more of my time in the next week than I would like (only because I would rather be knitting).

I'm psyched because I am attending the Candace Eisner Strick workshop this Saturday at Sit-N-Knit . It's six hours of Tips and Tricks of the Trade. . . and as we know, I can use all the help I can get! The class is sold out and I am looking forward to meeting some new knitters while I am there.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Walk is today!

I'm so excited, Walk Against Hunger Day is finally here! I'm very close to my goal of $2,000. I'm at about $1700 right now. (Doesn't that make you want to donate? :) But, the best news of all is, my team has collected well over the $5,000 mark and that was our goal. Very cool. The weather here today is awesome which makes for a nice walk. CDD is very excited to be participating, though I know she won't walk very much since I am bringing the stroller. I'm up in the air about whether or not to bring SED, some of that depends on if DH is going to go with us or not.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My mama, the yarn pusher

This isn't the greatest picture of the fab yarn that mom brought back from Frankfurt. Just over $7 a ball for Rainforest Opal? I must bow down and kiss her feet. I'm psyched too because when Opal comes out with the new line of Rainforest Yarn, I hope to send her back for that as well. The colorways are Chameleon, Flamingo, Parrot (Toucan?), and Ladybug. Really interesting colorways. They're getting me inspired to dye my sock yarn for the Dye-o-rama!

Last night

I've been in a knitting funk over the past few days. This happens to me periodically where I go through really manic and highly productive periods of knitting and then usually get caught up in a really good book and I go through a period of a couple of days of zero knitting. I actually can feel my agitation if I go more than a few days without knitting, great book or not.

I think part of it is because I have been unable to go to my LYS Sit N Knit for the past few weeks because either Allen has been out of town or we have to make plans. Like tonight, is parent night at school so no knitting for me.

So, when my friend Linda, suggested that I join her at her group last night, I jumped at the chance thinking it would be a great opportunity to get on track. She meets every Wednesday with the Hartford chapter of Stitch and Bitch and once a month they meet up at Creative Fibers in Windsor to knit.

We had a great time, the owner, Laura is a very nice woman and they have a wide selection of yarn. More importantly, I worked a good deal on my top secret project that I have previously alluded to (has to be finished by September at the very latest) and since it involves beads, it is sometimes slow going, but very rewarding as well.

Also, I was able to pick up the Berroco for my sugar bear's dress (my LYS doesn't carry) in a very nice purple. I decided to go with the Victoria pattern (she liked it better) so I am using Cotton Twist. I am thinking though that instead of putting a ribbon on the bottom I will work some beading into the pattern. Very cool.

Now back to my knitting!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thank You, Stephen Colbert

Unless you are under a rock, you are bound to have noticed this man's name in the news over the last few days. He was on 60 minutes Sunday night and he was the main schtick at the White House Correspondent's Dinner last week. To give you some background, Stephen Colbert started on The Daily Show (well, he did have a life before that, but I don't have time to digress that much today) and now has his own show on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report. It's basically a giant lampoon of FOX news and specifically Bill O'Reilly. He posits himself as not the brightest guy, but definitely an elitist. Lucky him.

Anyway, the past few days he has been a huge subject of discussion among the media: whether or not he was funny, if he went too far, what was he thinking? You have got to see the AWESOME video to believe it. Granted the video is long (About 20 minutes), but he does an excellent job of lampooning the president on some of his biggest goof-ups.

So, you must go watch the video because it rocks. And there's also a very amusing site, Thank You Stephen Colbert.

Let's just hope that he keeps succeeding because it's about time someone said in public what we are all thinking.

Walk Against Hunger this Sunday

Okay folks, here's your last chance to donate or participate. Remember, $5, $10, or even $20 can make a huge difference (every $1 = $10 in food). Bear with me one last time as I point out a few statistics for you:

It may interest you to know that America's Second Harvest recently reported on the results of their latest hunger study (Hunger in America). Among the key findings:

* The national food bank network provides hunger-relief services to an estimated 25 million low-income people each year, or roughly 9% of all Americans

* This represents an 8% increase since the 2001 study (23 million) and an 18% increase since the 1997 study (21 million)

* 9 million of the people served are children under the age of 18

* 2 million of those are young children under the age of 5

* Nearly 3 million of the people served are age 65 and older

* More than one-third (36%) of the households served have one or more adults working

* The majority of adults served are women (60%)

* Single parent households represent more than half (54%)

* 70% of the people served are food insecure,… not always having access to enough food to meet basic needs

* 12% are homeless (a 28% increase since 2001)

* 47% do not have access to a working car

* 41% said they were forced to choose between food and utilities

* 35% said they were forced to choose between food and rent/mortgage

* 32% said they were forced to choose between food and medicine or medical care

Thanks to all of you who have donated or agreed to walk and thanks to all of you who will work in other ways to help alleviate (and eliminate) hunger across America.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sweet Georgia Yarns

I'm hoping this time I am posting this with enough advance warning that even I might be able to purchase some of this yarn. Sweet Georgia Yarns will be adding sock yarns and fibre (their spelling) as well as laceweight kid mohair yarn. They are putting it up on May 4th at 12 noon PST, so be there, or get no yarn.

My UK sock yarn is here!

Love this, love this, love this. I spent way too much on the Opal, but it is hand-painted. (ah, smell that justification, because you know, I have absolutely no knittable sock yarn in my stash.) I purchased it on eBay from the lovely Catherine. She's got quite the nice stash of sock yarn!

And I know I am a sock yarn tramp of the first order, but I confess, my dad is about to drop off yarn my mom brought back from Frankfurt. Try not to be bitter, I'm sure there is plenty of your yarn I covet as well.

Dyeorama baby!

Well, very exciting news, I just checked my email and low and behold, I have received my secret pal for Dyeorama! She has her own blog, and once she knows who I am at the end of the summer, I'll tell you just what it is! Stay tuned.

And the person who has me as their secret pal contacted me and sounds like the greatest person. Love her and don't even know her. My friend Linda and I are dyeing our yarn together in the next couple of weeks. Must get babysitter so I don't have to deal with Sabrina trying to dye with us! I'm thinking a combination of Paas egg dye and maybe some Rit. I actually have some extra yarn that needs to be dyed, so this could end up very interesting. I know Linda definitely wants to dye self striping, one of her passions with socks, so perhaps I'll piggyback on that and send my pal some self-striping as well.

I can't seen to get the button up yet for Dyeorama so for now, you'll just have to click on the link until the Dyeorama mamas get back to me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Decisions, decisions

A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I was going to knit Victoria for my little one, Callista. Well, now I see this other jumper Missy and I'm having a hard time deciding which to make. I'm almost thinking that Missy might be a little to juvenile for Callista at five, even though they have sizing up to 6. This is probably a moot discussion with myself because I really do like the Victoria pattern. And I like the colors I found the yarn in. The yarn is different for the Missy dress, and I am not completely sure I love the buttons.

Thoughts anyone?