Friday, February 29, 2008


I'm titling this peice "Obituary". Isn't that what's written after you dye?

I spent last night finishing Justin's hat (see previous post for pattern details), which turned out rather well. The two circ needles kept humming along, and shortly before 11 PM I was doing a three needle bindoff on the top bit, which was interesting in itself. Having a row of stitches on one circ, and another row on the other, I just used the other end of one of the circs to make my "third" needle and wahhh lahhh! I love these little discoveries! It's what keeps me knitting.

During cigarette "breaks" last night I was reading up on dying in the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, which I wished now I hadn't done, since it only served to confuse me. I started thinking maybe I would need PH test strips and such. So after I finished my hat, I got on the computer and read up on Kool aid dying and found out that not only do I not need PH test strips, but even vinegar isn't nescessary, as Kool aid is naturally acidic. The very best infomation that I got was from this article on

So this morning I woke up with practically every bit of housework I should have been doing for the past two days still waiting to be done and armed with the knowledge of how to do some Kool aid dyeing. Needless to say, the dyeing came first, or at least, it took precedence. One has to be creative, so I did bits of housework in between dyeing steps.

Wednesday I went to the LYS and bought some Te Awa Natural Wool, a white to cream color 8 ply, a natural 100% wool in the natural color, as the name implies. Considering it was 200g worth, a fine NZ wool, and bought at a small town yarn shop, the price wasn't too dear.

Today, the first thing I did was soak the wool. It said on knitty at least 20 minutes, but I soaked mine for an hour while I picked up the house, did a bit of laundry and culled some emails. Then I mixed the Kool aid packets per the instructions on Knitty. I had Now I had about 4 different sets of instructions from various places, but I decided I was only confusing myself, so I was forced to pick one.

I had 10 grape (purple to black), 10 orange, 10 strawberry (primary red) and 1 generic clover leaf lemon flavored (yellow). Mom had included the yellow to see if it worked, so I mixed it as well, although it wasn't enough to go very far, I figured I could use it for sort of an accent. I threw a garbage bag on the kitchen table and poured the orange mixture into a water bottle with a pour spout and started dying.

I just kept it simple, and kept the colors compatible. I started at one end with the orange, then squirted on what little bit of yellow I had. Then I went to red, then solid grape, then a mixture of the red and the purple, then red again, and then orange, then a bit more watered down orange. Frankly, I loved the results, which is funny considering a post I wrote a few months ago was all about how I hate the loud psychedelic colored yarn. I guess the love comes when you do it yourself. See, I'm still learning.

After I got the colors "painted" on, I stuck the whole thing into a plastic tupperware type containter, put plastic wrap over the top, and nuked the stuff for 4 minutes in my less than powerful microwave. I took it out, and some of the purple was still bleeding, so I let it cool a bit and then stuck it back in the microwave for another two minutes.

I layed it back out on the table, spread the bits apart to check and see if I missed any bits (see the yellow??? Generic WORKED!). I hadn't, all bits were coated. So I left it on the table to cool slowly down to room temperature and then once again gave the entire skein a bath in lukewarm water. Then I hung the skein over the faucet to my laundry room sink to dry.

No felting, no major mess in my kitchen, nothing other than my hands and forarms dyed that wasn't supposed to be. I wore gloves, but fat lot of good it did me! The dye just seeped in around the wrist. I've since showered though, and all that remains is a bit of red on the pad of my left hand.

I'm writing this some 4 hours after the initial dyeing, and it's still not quite dry. The colors have became a bit (but only a bit) more muted, which is a good thing considering how extreme they were when dying. This was to be expected, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a good thing.

My fingers are itching to knit with my dyed wool already, and talk about a bonus, the yarn has a lovely fruity scent that's going to make knitting it that much more sweet. Now all I have to do is find a recipe for some easy peasy 8ply socks. I wonder if Chris will like these colors?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

2 circ anti-drama

I decided to try the method of knitting small diameter "in the round" fabric using two circular needles. I found Cat Bordhi's U-tube videos of the process, part one and part two. Now, I had reasonably assumed, given that the video had two parts, that this was a complecated procedure, taking extra long to explain. I couldn't have been more wrong. I've tried it today, and the drama is: there is no drama.

I watched the videos early this morning. It looked easy, really. I dutifully knit away, decreasing until the stitches would no longer comfortably fit on the 40cm circ they were on. I grabbed up all of my knitting, stitch holders and other knitting paraphenalia I thought I might need, and came in here and sat in front of the computer, with Cat's videos on the screen and ready to play. I put "Radio Margaritaville" on in the background.

Bravely, i decided to start out without looking at the videos, and then refer to them if I needed help. Those video's never got played. It's just that easy. My only complaint is that I thought it would be a good idea to get my second circ in a different, longer, length, so I bought an 80cm ones. I wish now that I had just bought another 40cm one, as when the 80cm needles are the dormant ones, all that cord does get in the way.

Otherwise, it came off without a hitch, and I'm happily knitting away, heading for the finish line. Overall, it's quite a positive experience, and will certainly go a long way in breaking down those mental barriers that have kept me away from making socks for so long.

Sometimes, I amaze myself.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hat harried

A couple of days ago I was talking to Mom on MSN messenger. My son was visiting, and after I talked to him, mom got on the keyboard and told me that she had noticed his hat had a hole in it. He told her he'd laid it on a lamp??? Must have been acrylic and melted, who knows. At any rate, he has a birthday coming up so I'm knitting him a hat in a hurry so I can send it along with mom's birthday gifts.

Mom told me he's into browns and greys and such, and that the hat he already has is one that doesn't turn up on the bottom and is tighter knit than the one I made for her at Christmas.

I found the pattern on Ravelry (where else?) for a "metrosexual hat" that seems to fit the bill, knit on 3.5 mm circulars. I'm using the Grignasco alpaca from my stash, which is a lovely mix of brownish/greyish/rust colors. So far so good, I reckon. I hope to have it finished by the end of the week.

I'll have to go out sometime soon and get me another 3.5 circular, because I want to shape the crown using the "magic loop" method. I've been wanted to try it ever since I heard about it, as I'm hopeless on DPN's, and often avoid projects because of this, so this will give me the perfect opportunity to try it out.

My Koolaid also arrived, and in record time! THANKS MOM!! Just three colors for now, but I'm going to try them out on the white alpaca fleece I got from a girl at work as soon as I finish the hat and have some time.

In the meantime, cheers and happy knitting!

Friday, February 22, 2008



After many months of being picked up for a week or so, diligently worked on, and then heartlessly ignored for a week or two, the alpaca jacket is complete! I love the way it turned out. Only one small detail mars my otherwise blissful happiness with this project. Well, not really with the project, but with it's recipiant. Myself. I'm just too fat. It fits, mainly due to the forgiving nature of 4x2 ribbing, but it looks atrocious on me with the belt, since I have absolutely no waistling for it to "accentuate", so it accentuates my lack of one.

However, it looks soooooo good on my sewing model, which has a beautiful figure (the dummy!!!), as you can see in the photo. I actually finished the jacket a few days ago, but it took me tons of time to take the pictures, and then for some reason I didn't button the top button, so the hole at the top is a buttonhole, not a goofup...well, a photography goofup, not the knitting kind.

At any rate, I'm super duper proud of the jacket. I'm just not so happy with my figure right now. I suppose I could go on a diet. Well, it's a consideration, niggling around in the back of my head. We'll see.

On the needles right now is the Fringe jumper. I just knew I wouldn't do the right thing and finish those things in hibernation. Ah well, that will happen down the track. I'll need stuff to do at home soon, and this jumper is miles and miles of BORING knitting. I finished one sleeve (see photo) and have just gotten started on the body part, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 stitches, knit from back hemline to frount.

I'm using my Denise Needles . When I first saw this project and wanted to make it, I was in the process of searching Australia to find the 100 cm circular needles the pattern calls for when I stumbled on the Denises, and I'll be forever greatful. They have revolutionized knitting for me. It's almost an obligation now that I knit this pattern.

Anyway, it's an easy knit five rows, purl 1 row, knit one row, purl one row "ridge" pattern, repeating every 8 rows. It's as simple as sin and easy to KIP, but I know that soon this thing is going to grow into a monsterous size and I'll need a trailer to haul it around in. Particularly since I've added stitches to the length and rows to the width. I probably shouldn't have done this so soon after trying on the "a bit snug" alpaca jacket, as likely I have overcompensated and this thing will finish out to be big as a tent :)

For that reason (or is it an excuse...and really, do I need one?) I'm thinking of starting a smaller project soon. I have the "stuff" to start some socks and have found some infomation about the "magic loop" which is a way of knitting small areas (such as socks) in the round without having to use the dreaded DPN's. Instead, you use two (or one very long) circular needles. To see this method: . I don't know when I'll get started learning this, but soon I reckon. Aint the internet neat???

Well, those are my knitting adventures for the week. I'm waiting on some Koolaid that mom has mailed, at which point I'm planning on trying my hand at a bit of dying. Also, my co-op has finished taking orders for the Peace Fleece and almost all of us have turned in their money, so I'll be looking sooooo forward to that batch of stash to arrive.

In the meantime, I'll keep on knitting.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Good Yarn

During this period of "making up", I don't have much to write about, and absolutely nothing to take pictures of, as making up is decidedly unexciting. I have been, however, working a bit on my spinning when I'm bored to tears from all the sewing, and I'm coming up with stuff that looks suspiciously like yarn. The picture here is my bobbin containing my very first "keepable" efforts. Once I get all this making up done, I'm going to try to get a couple of bobbins full, and then ply it up and see what I come up with. Should be interesting. After that, if I happen to get some Koolaid in the mail, I'm going to try my hand at dying it.

I'm not "falling" for spinning, as many people do. I do like it, but I don't feel compelled to do it like I do knitting. Perhaps it's because it's still such "work" for me. As I get better at it, I'm pretty sure it will be a relaxing pasttime, and far more suited to TV veiwing than knitting is. I have a feeling it might become just as addictive as knitting has.

I'm still busy making up the alpaca jacket. Aside from it being in no less then 8 peices, it requires you doing most every seam in mattress stitch. Fact is, the pattern says to make it all up in mattress stitch, but of course you cant do that with the shoulder seams, and the sleeves I've sewn in with a mixture of mattress stitch and fake grafting, which was tricky, but they look good. I'm currently working on the shawl collar which is knit in two peices. I'm sewing it together right now, and then I will only like sewing it to the jacket and I'm done. Unfortunately, that's the longest seam yet, and I'm running out of "time off". I can still get a bit of work done on work days, but it will go much slower then.

I have Sunday night off, but I have a workmate and her family coming out to the boat on Sunday, which will tie up the morning and the afternoon, and I have to be in town early on Monday for a manual handling "class" that is required yearly at work. Afterwards, I will shop and then go to a meeting that night before going to work. All of this is fine and dandy for some "on the road" knitting. Trouble is, I have almost NO "on the road" knitting on the sticks right now, with the exception of the almost finished alpaca jacket belt..

There is NO doubt I will finish up the belt tonight, as I'm going to a meeting this evening and then on to work afterwards, which all together will mean I have a good 3 hours knitting time minimum, and I only need another 1/2 hour to an hour to finish the belt. So, my mission this afternoon is to find something easy peasy to start on tonight.

My yarn falls into three categories. 1.)Stuff I know what I'm going to do with. 2.) Stuff I just liked and have no clue what I'm going to do with. 3.) Stuff that I had a vague idea about what I would do with but subject to my whims.

Out of the first category, I have the yarn for 3 jumpers and one cardigan. One of the jumpers I have been aching to make from the time I saw the pattern about a year ago. That is likely what I will throw on my needles tonight. On the plus side, this jumper is knit in one peice, which means it won't need much making up once complete. On the minus side, I really love this jumper and I'm afraid if I start it, I'll ignore all the finishing work I need to do around here. My alternative is to finish the sleeve on the Crave jumper and add one more thing to my making up pile. That's what I SHOULD do, but the more I think about it, the less appealing it sounds.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On a Mission from GOD

I'm finishing like a woman possessed.
I have finished the Plain ole Cotton Top, and I'm rather pleased with it. The hemming under to make the picot trim on the neckline did serve to make the ugly picked up stitches less noticeable, and the fit is superb. It's currently blocking on my dining room table.
I went on a shopping excursion this morning. My story was I was going to Spotlight because they had linen on sale and I really do need some "dust ruffles" for my bed. What I got was a boxed pleated valance for only 14.95, which is the perfect color and is definately a bargain, so the cover mission was successful. However, my ulterior motive was to "feel up" the new fall yarns at Spotlight. It's early yet, but there were 4 new Moda Vera yarns there, all of them quite nice, but I'm eyeballing a soybean/wool blend called "mousse" that is simply divine. I didn't buy any however. I'm being good. I'm in control. I'm on the wagon, at least for now.
I've established a "no new yarn" policy for myself at least until I get my unfinished items finished, and I reckon this may have a little bit to do with my vigerous interest in getting things made up. I finished the cotton top yesterday, and I finished mom's scarf (no, mom, absolutely no pictures...there needs to be SOME surprise to this) today after I got home from the shops. Layed out on my couch right now, ready for my fingers to get to work, is my Alpaca jacket. I'm even thinking I might even pick back up the Crave jumper and do the second sleeve on it to keep my knitting going while I'm out and about. I have extra yarn for it now, so really, matching the colors fairly well won't be as hard as it was when I was trying to do it with limited yarn. That's right. Nothing new! I've made a decision!
Walking down Rundall Mall to Spotlight, I happened to pass Borders bookstore. It occured to me that I had not established a "no knitting book" buying policy, so wouldn't it be the perfect time to add to my library? Surely it would! After all, I'm saving so much money NOT buying yarn. So, on my way back, after being a virtual ROCK of discipline in Spotlight, I stopped at the bookstore and bought not one but two new knitting books.
I bought "Knitting Rules" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka The Yarn Harlot), which appears to be something of a survival guide for the knitting obsessed. It covers topics such as stash management and how to deal with non-knitters, plus oodles more. Can't wait to get between those covers.
The other book I bought was "The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook". I have never done a sock, much less two, and it seemed a good place to start. Plus, the Twisted Sisters also spin and dye, and it looks like it covers alot of dying groundwork in this book, which I suppose would be really tricky with socks, particularly self striping ones...but how would I know, I've never made one, much less dyed yarn for one.
Ok, lets face it, I've never even dyed yarn before. I keep forgetting to ask Mom to mail me some Kool-aid. Kool-aid is 3 to 4 bucks a pack (yes, a teenie tiny little pack) in this country (or at least, in this state) if you can find it. I reckon mom could mail me 20 packs for less than 20 bucks. Mom? Are you reading this? When you send my next package, don't use newspaper to stuff the box, use Kool-aid packets!!
Well, I'm off for 2 nights now! Let's see if I can get in gear and get some more of this making up done. That is, if I don't spend all my time reading....

Friday, February 8, 2008

Making up is hard to do...

I have knit till I can knit no more on the Plain ole cotton top. Front, back, both sleeves, and, since taking this photo, I've knit the collar. I don't particularly like the collar, as knitting up stitches is not my strong suit, and there are a few "gappy" looking stitches in the curved sections, but I suppose it will look passable when I hem it under.

I had to sew together the shoulder seams before doing the collar. I did them with "fake grafting", which I had never done before. I'm thinking it would work very well on straight seams, but for the "stairstep" shaping of the shoulders of this top, it isn't perfect. Still, they look pretty nice. So far today, I have stitched up the side seams and tried it on. I couldn't have asked for a better fit, so on that score I'm well pleased.

Still to go, stitching up the sleeve seams and setting the sleeves in.

I also finished the knitting on mom's scarf this morning. I think I'll add tassles, and I'm also thinking of making her some little surprise with the rest of the La Boheme yarn...but I haven't quite figured out what yet. I put "Caliometry" in my queue on Ravelry this morning. That's my best option so far.

The knitting part of the alpaca jacket is all but over too. I still have to knit the belt, which I plan on doing tonight, but the actual jacket part is also waiting for me to put my hand to making it up. The pattern calls for me to use the mattress stitch on the seams. I've done exactly one sleeve so far.

Also in the finishing queue is the vest I'm making for Chris, where I still need to pick up the borders and then stitch it up, and the Crave jumper, which lacks a sleeve, needs closure. But the problem with this sleeve in the first place is that it is going to take a good deal of concentration, color changes and the like to get the second sleeve the match the first one.
So here's my dilemma, and it isn't a new one. I don't like knitting up or making up at work or when KIP. When I've tried this in the past, invariably I stitch things together either in the wrong spot, facing the wrong way, or using the wrong stitch. Knitters will know, it is massively difficult to try and undo what is done when making up without breaking or at the very least stretching, strands of yarn that the rest of the fabric is depending on to hold itself together. With knitting up, I need a flat surface and concentration to get the new stitches spread evenly.
So, do I do the right thing and finish all the unfinished projects lying around begging for a few crumbs of attention? Do I take them out with me and hope for the best? Or do I start on something new, knit on it when I'm away from home, and finish the unfinished at home?
The only problem with the latter idea is that I get soooo engrossed in a new project, and so despise the finishing process, that I tend to just keep right on knitting the new when I get home. Ahhh yes, I lack discipline. But there you go. The good news is that having these UFOs on Ravelry, my shame exposed to the public at large, gives me good incentive for actually wanting to finish them.
Tomorrow will be crunch time I reckon. The belt for the alpaca jacket will get me through tonight. A decision must be made.

Monday, February 4, 2008

One Row Indulgent Scarf (aka. Mom's Birthday Scarf)

For Mom's birthday scarf, I decided to go with the "one row scarf". Ok, I didn't exactly decide to. I put the choices up on here, and she decided for me. I had already decided that whatever I did for her, it would be with the Fiesta "La Boheme", mainly because the yarn itself makes for an expensive present, and birthdays should set you back some cash :) However, in hindsight I wouldn't recommend the La Boheme to anyone, unless your just the type who likes to brag about how much money something costs. Then, by all means, go for it, cause at $45 a ball, it certainly gives you bragging rights. (The catch is, of course, there's always the chance that you will simply impress them as stupid for spending that much on one skein of yarn.) It's also miserable stuff to work with. Just winding it into a ball is a major drama. Knitting with it is a constant excercise in keeping the colorways on the two strands together. The mohair strand is a bit stretchable, so for small discrepancies you can stretch the mohair tighter. If worse comes to worse you can break the yarn, straighten it out, and then start again, or cheat and wrap the longer band around twice on a stitch and then pick both wraps up in the next row (tricky...don't drop it).

I've been hard at work on finishing the "Plain ole Cotton Top", so I haven't had too much time to devote to it, but still, with the "yarn harlot's" One Row pattern (link in previous post), it's still moving along fairly quickly, which, in these circumstances, is a good thing. I love the pattern, although it is a seriously mind numbing repetition of four stitches and the kbl stitch is not always easy due to La Boheme's having two strands. Still, it's easy to remember and the stiches become automatic fairly quickly. I will definately use it again down the track on some homespun, as it was intended.

So, for mom's benefit, as she's much too impatient to wait for the finished project, I'm posting this today so she can have a peek. Now that the cotton top is almost finished, it's pretty much the only portable project I have on the needles, and I have a feeling I'm going to have it finished in no time flat.

Time for me to start thinking seriously about what I'm going to do NEXT!