[knitting] Socks

Another pair of Birthday socks for Dollar:

Gray Socks

Pattern: Basic Sock Pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns

Needles: US 6 (leg), US 7 (foot)

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease, gray, two balls (with leftovers)


[spinning] SOYSILK (a.k.a CRAPSILK)

Oh man, I am never spinning this crap again. The finished yarn (which I purposefully coiled up like a pile shiny blue-green turd):

Soysilk, a.k.a. Crapsilk

I can report that it was a nightmare from start to finish. I mentioned that the fibers got all over everything during the spinning process. I saw some fuzz on my pants and on the sheets of the spare bed where I was drafting and spinning in the craft room. I rubbed my hand on it in a circle and came away with a big ball of green. Ugh! I started rubbing my hands where I didn't see any fuzz- still got balls of green. This stuff was invisible and it was all over.

After plying and cleaning up, I wondered how I should wash it. Hot water? Was whacking necessary? Soap? I searched and read through soysilk posts on Ravelry only to be more horrified at what lay ahead: the yarn bleeds like a mo-fo. It's not that the color isn't colorfast, it's that there is excess dye in the fibers that doesn't rinse clean during the manufacturing process. That dye is going to come out when you wash it.

The trick is to soak/wash the yarn with synthrapol (or a less-toxic version), which keeps the excess dye suspended in the water, rather than creeping into other colors in the yarn. Woe is the person who adds vinegar to the water- a common, easy, inexpensive way to make colors colorfast. It will permanently set the excess dye into your lighter colors. Boo.

The good news is that I hear the blue "flavor" of Dawn dishsoap will work just as well as synthrapol. But, I didn't have either. I just washed it in lukewarm water with Eucalan wool wash.

It bled like a mo-fo. For real, the water wasn't a little blue-green, it was freaking DARK. I washed it four times and the water wasn't getting any lighter. The tub was blue, my hands were blue, my mood was blue. Unfortunately, I had some place to be while all the the wash, rinse, repeating was going on. I just went, "Aw frak it, I'm hanging it up to dry."

Now I'm terrified to knit with it. I know there's excess dye still in there! Is it going to stain my bamboo needles? If I make a hat and I'm caught out in the rain, am I going to turn green? Lois said there is one way to solve this whole problem... Throw it in the trash. To which I replied, "NO WAY! I spent good money on that craptastic crap. I can't- No. I can't throw it away." Someone else suggested I make the hat and gift it to someone I hate.

Hmm... Yes. Possibly.

For now, my plan is to knit something with it and then wash that, like, 45 more times. Then we'll see.


Music to hate by: Kelis' Caught Out There


[knitting] Fidge-at

A Fidget-along sprung up rather quickly in the White River Yarns group on Ravlery. I was "meh" about the pattern to begin with but everyone was doing it so... I jumped off the bridge, too. I'm impressionable like that.

I really liked this pattern. It was stash-busting, fast, and the result is:


Yarn: Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky (less than 1 skein)

Needles: US 9

I loved picking out the buttons for this. I took the just-finished (not blocked, no ends sewn in) Fidget to Joann and tried on various buttons attached to their cards. I looked at the back of the cards to see that buttons 3/4 inch and 7/8 inch worked best. After looking at hundreds and kind of losing perspective, it came time to choose between the silver flower buttons, the orange etched buttons or the brown leather old-timey buttons. I settled on orange:

Buttons for Fidget

After the Fidget was washed, blocked and dried (it only took 4 days to dry. only.) it came time to actually sew the buttons on. I went though my yarn scraps trying to find an orangey-brown strand that would work. I had some short lengths of yarn from the Colorspun socks. It was a three-ply yarn and the strand I was holding was a ply of orange, brown and gray. I painstakingly removed the gray ply. This consisted of me clamping the end of the orange and brown plies between my lips, pulling the gray ply with my right hand and managing the untwisting of the yarn with my left hand. It must have looked like I was trying to play some kind of weird yarn instrument for a while but, in the end, I had the color I wanted for the buttons. (There were many more false-starts and do-overs than I'm describing here. Who knew attaching buttons was so freaking difficult.)

Fidget Buttons

I'm thinking about making another.

In closing, I'd just like to say that it took a while for me to get used to the name "Fidget". I swear this project wanted to be called "Frickle" and I have no idea where that came from. Now I'm used to calling it Fidget but it's pronounced "Fidge-AT" in my head. Did you ever see the Friends episode where Chandler is helping Ross move a couch up a flight of stairs and Ross keeps instructing him to "pivot" but it's coming out "Piv-AT! ... Piv-AT! ... PIV-AHT!" Eh, I keep hearing FIDGE-AHT.


[spinning] Grape Aid

I spun the Kool-Aid yarn and got:

Grape Aid

Grape Aid

I love it. It's even and smells slightly sweet. I think this yarn should be used to knit something for a kid (although they'd probably end up sucking on whatever was made).

Here's a more accurate shot of the color. Yes, it's pink but it's more of a light purpley pink:

Grape Aid


Music to spin by: Old Skool Kool-Aid Commercial. Hey! I just painted that f'ing fence, you stupid jug!


[knitting] Start something(s) new

I started some new projects. More socks for Dollar:


I love this yarn (Jarbo Garn Raggi), it's very sqwooshy. I work on these socks while waiting- waiting for Dollar to get ready in the morning (we've started carpooling), waiting for something to bake, waiting for this or that. These will be added to the growing pile of birthday socks.

I cast on Rogue, a hooded pullover.


It is slow-going. I've already worked on it for hours and I'm still not done with the inside of the hem. The yarn is sticky wool (Bartlett Fisherman 2-Ply) and I'm plodding along on size US 3 needles. Didn't I say I was done with sticky wool and small needles after Dollar's Yoke Pattern Jacket? Anyway, this sweater will probably be ready for Fall... 2009.

Not wanting to work on the waiting socks or the sweater, I started another crocheted Anne scarf with Malabrigo:

Barbara's Anne

The color is something like toffee or pecan or... Praline! That's it.

I've also started swatching colors, testing various combinations for a pillow cover. I have two 18 x 18 inch and two 24 x 24 inch pillows to knit covers for. I've been reading/studying Color Works by Deb Menz to help guide me through my stash. Hue, value, saturation... Tint, tone, shade and... what's the other one... Whatever. Cool and warm undertones... It's a lot to try to comprehend and then do. I have some wools but I'm running into things like: that yellow isn't the right value to be next to that shade of red; the green and violet would work... if I had some orange; etc etc. It's just making my decisions that much more difficult.


[spinning] Soy Silk

I went to Hodgepodge Handicrafts* yesterday afternoon on a whim. I picked up a 4 oz bundle of 100% SOYSILK top by Conjoined Creations. It's a Happy Hippie fiber in the Woodstock colorway:

Soy Silk

Soy Silk

It's spinning up wicked shiny but I don't like the fiber. It's loose and delicate and is currently all over the craft room. I'm trying to finish it up as soon as possible so that I can take a lint roller to everything. I don't want to spin up some white and have errant bits of green and blue sneak in.

*Hodgepodge blew my mind. Blew it, I tell you. I was expecting a corner in a furniture store with a couple bins of yarn. I was there for TWO HOURS. One hour was just looking through pattern booklets. I didn't even see all the books or binders. The yarn selection is incredible. They have lots that they spin and that are locally spun, in addition to all the brands that you know and love. In addition to yarns that no other shops in the area carry. There is a good sale section, a spinning section, a comfy and inviting sitting area. I was there for two hours and I feel like I only saw a fraction of the store. And it's not huge. Imagine pointing a shrinking ray gun at Webs and shrinking it to 1/16 it's size. That sounds like a hodge podge and it is. But in an orderly over-flowing kind of way.


Music to spin by: Yael Naim New Soul


[spinning] Dyeing with Kool-Aid

Last week I dyed some wool roving with Kool-Aid. The set up:

Dyeing Fiber

The scale is to measure off 4 oz from the big ball of white merino. While the 4 oz were soaking in the sink, I chose and mixed my colors:

Dyeing Fiber

Grape base with 4 different colors to mix with it. This produced 2 close shades of purple, a burgundy and olive green.

I taped a black garbage bag to the table and some lengths of plastic wrap on top of that. I pulled the roving from the water and tried to squeeze out as much as possible. I lined it up on the table started pouring color:

Dyeing Fiber

Rolling the roving up was difficult because there was so much dye/liquid in the wool. It started to ooze out but I mopped up the excess and eventually got the roll into a pot on the stove and steamed it for 30 minutes.

I unrolled the roving into some cool, soapy water (and burned my hand) and then hung it to dry. The finish wool looks like:


It's so light! It's so... pretty and light (and it smells like grapes). I'm spinning this up now.

Next time, I'll try (1) sprinkling the Kool-Aid straight onto the wool, (2) dyeing with food coloring. I hope either or both of those method will result in more vibrant colors.


[spinning] 3-Ply

Because Navajo Plying to create a 3-ply was so completely not fun for me, I decided to just spin three bobbins of kind-of-thin singles and ply those other. Easy!

Handspun 3-Ply

The fiber is 100% Merino in heathered gray.

Handspun 3-Ply

I like how round and bouncy the yarn came out.

Handspun 3-Ply

This skein won the blue ribbon for handspun at the Cornish Fair. Not bad for my very first 3-ply.

Music to spin by: Ooh Wee. Ooo-ooo Wee. Ooo Wee.


[spinning] Thread Plied Yarn

I whipped up a skein that's a little different than the rest I've made:

Sparkle Yarn

A single plied with thread. SPARKLY thread.

Sparkle Yarn

Here it is a little blurrier. This is closer to what it looks like in real life- white with pretty sparkles.

Sparkle Yarn

I love it. Not sure what the yardage is or wraps per inch. Not even sure I have enough for a hat. I wasn't sure this technique would work but I just HAD to try it. And the nice part was that after I plied, the yarn was balanced. I didn't need to wash and whack it against the side of the tub.

I can't wait to see what it looks like knit up!


[knitting] Noro Happy Tam #2

For the August edition of Hat Club at White River Yarns, I chose this Fair Isle Tam pattern. I've made it before and had such a great experience that I bought and stashed enough yarn to make four more. Here is my version:

Fair Isle Tam

Fair Isle Tam

Yarn: Noro Kureyon (1 ball), Reynolds Lite Lopi (1 ball)

Needles: US 4 (ribbing), US 8 (rest of hat)

Mods: Cast on 96 and did *K2M1* when it came time to increase. I used US 8 needles for the hat, instead of US 7, to make it a bit larger. I hoped it would be floppier but I need to choose something other than wool to make that happen.

I've seen some really amazing versions- every one is different but beautiful and interesting. Hope to see you at Hat Club next Tuesday, August 26.


[knitting] Cornish Fair

Not to toot my own horn but...

Cornish Fair
Doot diddley oot toot toot.

I entered many items and did very well.

Vindication! At last!

[misc] Murderface Monday

Muderface on vacation

It looks like Murderface was enjoying the vacation last week.

Here he is cuddled up to the backs of Dollar's legs:

Murderface sleeping

Personally, I think it's a dangerous place to be (could get rolled on, could get farted on) but he seems to like how warm it is.


[misc] The Craft Room

During my week of vacation I spent most of my time sorting out my craft room. It needed sorting in the bad way and I have before and after pictures.

Let me begin by saying that the room started out as a library. I used to read. A lot. The room was full of bookcases and books.

Now most of my free time is spent knitting and spinning. I stopped buying books and started buying yarn. And spinning tools. And fiber. And yarn. And yarn and yarn and yarn.

So the room got crowded.

Then Dollar and I got a new bed and the old bed went where? Into the craft room. A full size bed into an already crowded room.

I had to shift things in front of other things, blocking other things just to get the stupid bed in.

The room was beyond crowded- there was hardly any room to walk.

And now... Be horrified and shocked at the messy mess...

Craft Room... Before

Craft Room... Before

Craft Room... Before

"Yikes" is right. Over the course of a week I moved out 2 black bags of garbage, 1.5 black bags of donations to Listen, 1 tub of books to the used book store and 3 bookshelves (and all their books) were moved to other areas of the house.

Now the room looks like:

Craft Room... After

Craft Room... After

Craft Room... After

I even cleaned out the closet. It's not ready for a magazine spread just yet but it's so... open. I love hanging out in here now. I used to just come in, step over things, grab what I was looking for and head back downstairs where I would inevitably spread the mess.

I moved a computer to the desk so I have a nice workstation to blog, post pictures to Flickr and update Ravelry. I organized yarn and came to the brutal realization that I really, really, REALLY don't need to buy any more yarn for the rest of my life.

My sister helped me make a collage with yarn labels I've been collecting since I started knitting:

Yarn Label Collage

Whenever she comes down to hang out, I end up blindsiding her with a "hey, let's do this project", whether it's dying yarn or spending hours getting our fingers all gluey from a collage. At least she's always up for it.

Siiiiiiiiiigh. I'm pleased. Now I need another vacation to rest.


[cooking] Blueberry Muffins

Dollar and I have been on vacation this week and it has been awesome. I made blueberry muffins every morning:

Blueberry Muffins

I have the recipe memorized now. I had many quarts of freash blueberries to go through. I would have frozen them but I have many quarts already in the freezer.

Blueberry Muffins

In an effort to use a lot at once, I did make a pie but it came out runny and then it was soggy the next day. Muffins seem to be the easiest and tastiest. But a batch of 12 only calls for 1.5 cups of berries. Which is why we had muffins every day.


[spinning] Teddy Bear Colors

I bought a couple discounted skeins of pencil roving in a "teddy bear" colorway. They were small (only 50 grams each).

Teddy Bear Colors

The wool was rough (not nice, smooth merino like the Zitron Artfelt) but I was able to spin it fairly thin.

The finished yarn:

Handspun 2-Ply

I ended up with 176 yards. I got a handy-dandy Wraps Per Inch (WPI) tool so I could figure out that this yarn is 11 wraps per inch, which is worsted weight. Apparently, I'm still not spinning thin enough for DK or sport weight (how to people even spin lace weight?). The thing is that the yarn looks thin to me while spinning but after I give it a nice, soapy soak, it really blooms. I'm going to have to leave my comfort zone and start spinning really freaking thin.

Handspun 2-Ply

I'm not sure what to make with this although a teddy bear has crossed my mind.


[knitting] Birthday Socks

I finished a pair of socks for Dollar:

Dollar's Socks

Pattern: Basic Sock Pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns

Needles: US 6 (leg), US 7 (foot)

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash

This had got to the the 9th pair of socks I've knit for Dollar. He wears them all the time and I like that. I'm keeping these and any other pairs I knit between now and November. Then I'm going to give them all to him on his birthday. I have enough yarn kicking around to make at least 4 pairs.

I may already be halfway done with his next pair...

Gray Socks


[knitting] A Better Inversed Shorter Bucket

I made a 2nd Bucket Hat, this time brown on the inside and green on the outside.

A Better (Inversed) Bucket

I messed up the pattern a bit and didn't do enough rows for the brim. It's a little shorter than the brown one.

A Better (Inversed) Bucket

Who would have thought a few rows would make so much difference? But the two really look different on.

My sister is the proud owner of the brown one. I'm going to try to work some blocking magic to see if I can add a little length to the brim on the green one.


[knitting] Jamaica Pouch

I had one skein of Katia Jamaica in my stash and found a free One-Skein Wonder pattern for it:

Jamaica Pouch

Pattern: Jamaica Pouch

Needles: US 5

Yarn: Katia Jamaica

Jamaica Pouch

Mods: I printed out the PDF for this pattern. Once I finished the bottom (I love how it looks like a cross-section of a watermelon) and went to the pattern to see how to do the sides, I read "Begin Circular Spiral Stitch (see at right)..." I looked to the right. Nothing. It's actually written out on the web page for the pattern, not in the PDF. Just a warning.

Jamaica Pouch
Coffee Mug for scale...

I've been using this pouch as a lunch bag. It's large enough (and quite stretchy) to accommodate tupperware, a can of seltzer and a few clementines.


[knitting] A Better Bucket

A Better Bucket

Pattern: A Better Bucket

Needles: US 8 (brim), US 7 (body)

Yarn: Plymouth Tweed

Mods: Used Solaris' mods (from Ravelry). Cast on 100 stitches instead of 96. Also, the brim flares a bit more in this version.

I gave mine a green lining:

A Better Bucket

It fits very well. My sister tried it on and really liked it... so I'm making another. I had two balls of Plymouth Tweed in brown and two balls in green kicking around. I weighed out the leftovers last night and I have enough to make an Inverse Bucket- a green hat with brown lining.

This tweed is really nice. I don't like the kinds where the color nips are loose and poke out- they look like colorful pills to me and I want to pick them off. The color nips in this yarn are tightly spun with the wool, so it looks speckled but feels smooth.

A Better Bucket

The provisional cast on was a little tricky the first time but I was able to do it last night with no problems. They key is to use a LONG spare circular needle. The first time I used a 24" and it was not good. Last night I used a 40" Addi Turbo and it was a cakewalk. I might start doing ALL my provisional cast-ons this way.