Friday, August 22, 2008

Still kickin'

We had a great time at the South Australian State Titles for Western Action shooting. It was well organized, the food was top notch, and everything but the weather was great. The rain did hold off, for the most part, but there was this bitterly cold and gusty wind that at times made things darned uncomfy. I wore the pancho I had knit for just such occasions, made with three 8 ply strands of yarn held together. It sheds water beautifully, and it as warm as it gets. I only regretted that I hadn't made a body length sarape instead. I had a nice toasty upper body, but below the waistline, I was freezing. Perhaps I'll do that sometime down the track.

I won the silver medal in my division, which is a neat thing, but has more to do with who DIDN'T shoot well, or in my division, than it does with any prowress with guns that I might be said to possess. While I no longer provide comic relief with my shooting skills, I am far and away from being a talented shot, and still further away from being the most talented shot at these events. Some of the competitors live eat and breathe this stuff (taking it every bit as seriously as I do my knitting)and they practice far more than I do. I tend to think of this as all good fun, and probably wouldn't like it nearly so much if I became competitive. Still, silver is silver, and I'm happy to have it.

I can't say I got a lot of knitting done over the weekend. I didn't work on my Peace in the Hood (CPH) at all. I dedicated what little time I had for knitting to the "Thank god they're not Black" socks I'm knitting for Chris (with the Widdershin's heel). I pretty much finished the foot, up to where I need to start the gusset increases.

After I got back from the shoot, I laid the socks down and picked up the "Peace in the Hood" sleeve, which I managed to finish off yesterday.

I've cast on again for the other sleeve, and knit a couple of rows of the ribbing. I debated whether or not to do this, but given the sock is critically close to the heel, I thought I better. I NEVER knit heels at work, or anywhere other than when I can find a nice quiet undisturbed moment...which means at home when DH is gone somewhere. I need peace and quiet to concentrate and get it right the first time, as tinking back those tiny gauged stitches drives me to distraction, and I have the attention span of a gnat, so interuptions throw me for a loop.

There's another reason why I was reluctant to cast on the other sleeve. It's time to start knitting mom's Christmas jumper. I won't say too much about that for now, as I haven't decided yet just how much info I want mom to have about what I'm doing, and mom is one of my (possibly my only) dedicated readers. I will only say that I'm well into the planning stage for that, and need to do some swatches in the next few days to determine gauge and also fiddle with gauge to get a good fabric with a nice drape to it. That, in turn, will help me determine the pattern I will use and the amount of yarn I will need for the long haul.

Just bear in mind, I have a mystery project going on in the background, so results that I can post here will be skimpy for the near future. Actually, I may have several going on, given Christmas is coming up. Could be dry days ahead for the blog.

The other day, DH said: "You know, I can't help noticing you are running out of storage space for all that yarn". Of course, a bit of panic swelled my throat shut. I thought 'Ok, this is it. This is where he starts telling me to stop buying so much wool.' Then he continued "Here in this sale paper, there's a cabinet that we could put out in the shed, and it's on sale for $99". Dear, dear man. I reckon he's a keeper.

Yesterday, after I got off work, I went over to Marion shopping center and hung out with the other vagrants until the shops opened. K-mart opens first, so I used that opportunity to get me some of those bags that you can put stuff in and then vaccum the air out so that they will take up less space. I've heard they are great for yarn, and even though 6 of them were $30, they are still cheaper than that cabinet for the shed. Besides, they'd be handy for other things as well, if, in the end, I decided to reduce my stash a bit. (Ok, I do realize how absurd this sounds, but it potentially could happen.) With the cabinet idea, I was worried about the moths and other critters that get into the shed. But with the bags, well, if we were to get the cabinet, then I could put everything in vaccum sealed bags, THEN put it in the cabinet, thereby tripling the storage space in the cabinet and protecting my precious yarn (I realize this outcome is more likely than an actual stash reduction). Besides, I think that sucking the air out of the bags full of yarn does count as an actual stash reduction.

Anyway, I hung out at the mall until just before ten o'clock, and then went to the Walking Wheel studios, which is the local spinning shop in Adelaide. Nice place, that. I picked up, among other things, the much needed Niddy Noddy for skeining my future spun creations, two more bobbins for my spinning wheel (realizing rather quickly that 4 were not enough for one with a short attention span such as I have), and 600g of natural, white, utterly dyeable corridale.

The long fiber's make it appear quite spinner friendly, and now I can't wait to get the dyepot out. I have sooo much to dye now, what with this corridale and the merino and sock yarn I got from Jane.

I'm wanting to try my hand at some natural dyeing, and might just give it a go on some of this, providing I can accumulate the proper ingredients and mordants. The mordants are the hardest part. Just where does one buy alum? A good chemist, according to one book on the subject, but really, I don't remember seeing "alum" on the shelves of the local Amcal. The plants and such should be fairly easy, and something that DH can be drafted into doing for me, or at least helping me with. There's a good article in the latest YARN magazine about natural dyeing with Eucalyptus leaves, which are certainly plentiful. Apparently onion skins are good, and so are walnut shells. The possibilities are endless, but of course, first I must figure out what I'm doing.

Meanwhile, mom tells me that my knit pick needles have arrived at her place. She's away working right now, but early next week when she gets back home, she will forward them and another load of koolaid to me, so I will have plenty to dye with then, even if I don't get the "natural" stuff figured out soon.

Last night, I finished spinning the rest of my blue silk.

So that does it for the silk. Now I have to spin the pink and the blue matching wool up, and then ply them together and see what I can make of it. I need the same lengths of both, and as the silk is much more dense than the wool, I'm pretty sure I will have to spin, volume wise, much more wool to match the length of the silk. Well, I'll just spin what I have and see what happens. Tonight, the wool spinning fun begins, but I'm not counting on any quick results. I'm starting out on 4 nights straight at work, so time will be a premium until my "two whole days in a row" off, which starts Tuesday.

Until then.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Once more, before I go...

Just a quick post before I go to catch up, before I get so far behind I forget half of what I've done.

First, the "Socks Ahoy" socks, made with the Widdershins pattern and the Koolaid dyed Patonyle are finished. I'm quite proud of them. They are, I admit, a bit loose (but truly, only a bit) around the toe and heel, and I will tighten that up on my next pair I reckon. Otherwise, I couldn't be happier, and the heel itself is still a marvelous creation as far as I'm concerned. Here they are on my very happy feet:

and a close-up of the heel:

So impressed was I, in fact, I have picked up my new Knit Picks wood needles (which I got to play with briefly while making the heel on my Socks Ahoy project), and have cast on to make Chris a pair of Widdershins, minus the cables.

When you take the cables out, what you have is a K2,P1 rib pattern. Pretty simple, but with that impressive heel! I'm using some Jigsaw sock yarn from Heirloom, in a flat grey color, and I'm making them one at a time, mainly so I can use the Knit Picks wood 80cm circular needle. It's too short to do two at a time, but I'm fixing that. Yesterday, I ordered 6 of them, sizes 2mm to 3.5mm in the 100cm length, perfect for two at a time socks. Since Knit Picks won't ship to Australia, I'm having them sent to mom, who has graciously consented to forward them along, hopefully with another batch of Koolaid.

Speaking of Koolaid, the Heirloom Easy care I dyed the other day turned out to look pretty good when it finally dryed. It has much more muted colors, which is certianly what I was looking for.

I wound it up into balls, and now I'm looking for a good 8 ply sock pattern, although that is proving a challenge, so I might just use a toe up sock "recipe" and design my own. 8 ply socks sound very attractive; thick, warm and quickly made, relative to fingering weight yarns that is.

On the spinning front, I just dived in and started spinning the silk, more or less. I did get advice from Jane, who sent me the silk in the first place, to keep my hands further apart when spinning. So that's what I did. I really didn't mind spinning silk. I have a tendency, apparently, to spin things rather thinly for a novice, but silk is very strong, and even a thin strand doesn't break easily, so I didn't have to "go fishing" for my yarn thru the orifice as many times as I do with wool. It's was rather slow going, because at places, even with my hands far apart, it was very hard to draft, and there were lots of stops and starts, but in the end, I was pleased.

Here is ALL of the pink:

Here is a strand of the pink next to a 10 cent peice:

And here is about 1/2 of the blue:

I'll have to wait until I get back to spin the rest of it.

Which brings me to the postie offerings this week. After my semi-success with the blue and grey wool that J.S. from work gave me, I got the itch to do more spinning. I had a few bits and peices around the house (including the silk), but never liking to get anywhere close to running out of...well...anything, I placed an order with Jane at her Moseley Park Shop.

I ordered some bare sock yarn to dye (fun fun!!):

And some white rovings to dye as well (MASSIVE fun):

I also ordered these black and white beauties:

Jane sent this beautiful English Leichester in varying shades of purple:

She also sent these babies:

I'm assured that it is entirely coincidental, but I can't help noticing how similar the colors of this last batch is to the colors of the silk! What dumb luck! (Or is it? hummm)

So now, plans are to finish the blue silk, spin up one color wool and then ply it with the matching color silk. I can't wait to get going on that.

Not this weekend. Shortly after finishing this post, I'm packing up and going away for the weekend to the state titles for Western Action Shooting. We're getting a cabin near the shooting range, which is a couple of hours from here. I'm taking the new sock I've started for Chris, plus my Peace in the Hood cardi, as these trips are always prime knitting time!

So I should have some progress to talk about when next I post. Till then.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend Fibre Warrior

Now, what the world has asked for! Damn the Olympics! Everyone..I'm waiting with baited breath to see what all I've gotten accomplished on my hubby-free weekend, and I just couldn't disappoint everyone!

I have, of course, knit more on the "Socks Ahoy" sock project, although really not enough progress has been made to warrent a picture. I have switched off to my last two "half balls" of Koolaid dyed Patonyle, and have added another pattern repeat to either side of each sock (that would be two pattern repeats per sock) to compensate for my fat calves. I expect to have them finished in the next few days, although as we all know...anything can happen.

Finished or not, I do plan to cast on for another sock (or something small) project before next weekend, which is "State Titles" in Western Action shooting. I'm off work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and we have a cabin over near the state shooting park for Friday and Saturday night, so I will need a small project for the event. The Socks Ahoy are just too close to completion to last thru that. Trouble is, I haven't settled on anything yet.

I also managed to get some dyeing done. I had 3 50g balls of white 8ply Heirloom superwash that I'd bought heaven knows how long ago, so Saturday morning, I put the wool on the skein winder and got it ready to dye.

I tied green cotton yarn around each skein, and then tied all three skeins together, so that (hopefully) they would stay together during the dying process and match fairly well.Then I gave the whole thing a good 24 hour overnight soak (ok, maybe 22 hours..but whose counting?)

I wanted something this time that wasn't quite as pastel, or as bright, as what I've made before. Something a bit more earthy...colors anyone would wear. So I got some ideas from this article in Knitty and from my Twisted Sister's Sock Workbook (which is, by the way, more about dyeing than about knitting socks)and went to mixing Koolaid colors.

I sat up the "dyeing lab" (the dyeing lab meaning old bowls, aluminium baking pans and a mismatched collection of jars) and I did a heap of experimenting. I really wish that I could tell you how much I used of what, but in the end, I really couldn't. I had decided that I was going to "dip dye" this lot, and that I wanted a yellow base and brownish goldish colors (that was the plan, anyway) I took a few packs of yellow koolaid and disolved them in water in a bowl. Then I looked at the color wheel. Purple was on the other side, so I added a few drops of purple to tone down the yellow. That was going to be my base color.

Then I took yellow or orange and added either blue or purple (those "opposite" colors on that wheelie thingy) and made a few other shades I wound up fairly happy with.

I took the skein out of it's soak, squeezed out some of the excess water, and dunked the whole bit into the bowl of toned down yellow. Then I took it out, set it aside, dumped the clear water left in the bowl and took the next lightest color, the more orangy one, and poured it into the bowl. Once again, I dunked, but this time only a part of the skein. I did this twice more, going from lightest to darkest shades, and leaving a gap of plain yellow for good measure.

I stuck it in the microwave for two-ish minutes and then lay it out to cool for about an hour (although it was probably cool in 10 minutes...but I had other things to do).

Then I gave it a bath in sudsy wool wash and rinsed and hung it in the utility room sink.

I'm pretty happy with the colors so far, but it's yet to dry, so I'll have to get back to you on my final verdict.

Now, on to other things. I had the intention of spinning something over this weekend, and having the "poodle trauma still fresh in my mind, I though perhaps a change of fibre would be in give me new incetive...a new zest for the spin.

Not too long ago, my friend from Moseley Park Shop had sent me some silk caps that she had dyed with some Koolaid I had sent her (aren't we knitters a sharing bunch??!!??), so I's the ticket. I'm not sure what exactly I had expected. When the package with the silk caps had arrived, I had looked at them, even taken them out and felt of them, but I guess I hadn't examined them all that much. When I took them out this weekend with the intention of working with them, I discovered all sorts of things I hadn't counted on.

For instance, did you know that silk caps really do look like caps? Well, I didn't. But when you open it up, it does look like those little paper caps I used to make in grade school. Cute, but what on earth do I do with it?

Faced with this delimma, I consulted the Google Gods, and found this website with pretty dang good instructions on how to make rovings out of your cap.

So I separated the layers and came up with very very filmy stuff.

Then I poked a hole in the center of that and stretched and stretched and stretched until I had this HUGE circle of silky roving.

(that's a two dollar coin in the picture)

And came up with what looks like the right thickness..although I think the thickness is optional depending on how thick you want your yarn to be.

But now, I can't find any good advice on how to actually spin it. The fibres are so long...and ordinarily I would say that is a good thing, since I cannot handle shortish wool fibres...but these are so long I'm not sure how to draft it. I've read that you can't get silk to be smooth, that is, it will have texture, but I don't want it positively bumpy.

So, I've requested help from some spinners I know on Ravelry, and I'm awaiting thier advice at this point.

That's pretty much how my weekend went. Hubby is due back sometime this afternoon, but by then I suppose I will be in bed sleeping, getting ready for work tonight. Meanwhile, I'll play around on here trying to work out what my next sock project will be. Must cast on...must cast on..

Friday, August 8, 2008

WIP's, Postie Offerings and Weekend Plans

I suppose this post is more of an update of the past week or so since my last entry. Chris is at work right now, but he is leaving from there and going out of town for the weekend, to the lovely seaside resort town of Wool Bay with a friend who has a cabin there, to do a bit of boating and fishing, so I have the whole weekend to myself, and my knitting, from this morning until Sunday evening. Whooo hoooo!

Of course, I still have to work, but just being able to have the time that I am at home free of distractions. It's also nice because alot of my time seems to be taken up in dragging out and repacking my projects, and sometimes I neglect doing things like spinning or dyeing simply because the whole process of arranging things is intimidating. It's so much easier if I can leave the wheel in front of the couch, or the dyed wool hanging on the shower head. So I expect to get a few things done while he's gone, and of course, I'll post about all that, hopefully, Tuesday or Wednesday when I have my "two whole days in a row" off work.

The postie has been very good to me this week. I ordered, and recieved, a new MP4 player off of ebay. It has a 4G capacity, will hold my audio books, has a screen for watching videos on, and also an e-book function, which lets me read txt format books on it. This part is promising, since I can copy the written (not graphs and such, but nothings perfect) part of patterns onto my Windows notebook, which is txt format, and then transfer those to the player. Which means I no longer need to take the big paper patterns of my projects around with me on short trips or to work. I can just put the info on the player, and then if I run into trouble, or get more finished than I anticipated, I have the written pattern right there in a much more compact way.

I've figured out everything but the video part so far. I know how to USE the video part, but can't figure out how to transfer videos on there (and all the different formats doesn't help either). I got an excellent deal on this thing, but it is a Chinese no name ripoff product, and the instructions are good mostly for humourous entertainment, but aren't much help in figuring out to work the thing.

But once I do get the trick, I hope that will be "knitting handy" too. I'll use an example, if I may. I'm knitting on a pair of socks, and reach the heel, but alas I'm away from home and computer (vacation, work, whereever). It's a short row heel, and I really wanted to use Cat Bordhi's method of picking up wraps that I saw on YouTube a couple of weeks before. But alas, even though I had practiced it at the time, I hadn't used the technique, but had planned on trying it on these socks. With this device, I could download that video ahead of time, and have it ready and waiting on my player when I reached that step in the WIP. That's my dream anyhow, now I just have to figure out how to execute it.

The player wasn't the only postie offering this week. I also recieved some lovely stitchmarkers from Binkaboo's Etsy shop. She had sent me some pretty blue stitch markers a few months ago as a RAOK, and I loved them so much. I'm sure it wasn't her intention when she sent the first ones, but she did get a good customer out of the deal, because I just love her work to peices. Not that the green/gold coloured ones aren't pretty, but just LOOK at those pink ones! In my book, those are pure ART.

Now for my WIPs. The "Socks Ahoy!" socks are going along very nicely. I started out with three balls of Koolaid dyed Patonyle to do them with. Since I'm doing two socks at once, a couple days ago I took the last ball and rewound it into two balls, and although I didn't get the balls exactly "half and half", I think it will work out fine, as from the looks of things I will only need 1/4 to 1/2 of each ball to finish the project anyway. Shortly after I pick them back up, the old balls will run out and I'll attach these two "mini" balls and I'll be in the final stretch.

Frankly, they are long enough now. As long as I generally make my socks, but I want to experiment with getting socks over my calves, so I'm going to knit away until I have "nearly knee" socks. At the moment, I'm doing a 1 stitch increase now at the end of each needle on each sock, every four rows (there's 8 rows in the pattern repeat) to make the leg wider as it goes up. I'm keeping to the K 2 P 1 Widdershins pattern, but don't have enough yet (and I'm not sure I will need enough) to make another repeat of the cable, but we will see. I'm trying it on every few rows to judge how much increasing I need to do (YAY for toe up socks!!!), but essentially the results are K2 P1 panels on each side of the sock.

The Peace in the Hood cardi (CPH pattern) hasn't seen as much work as the socks have, but I have gotten about 2/3rds of one sleeve done. I mostly knit on it when there is something on TV that demands I actually WATCH it, since the stitchs are bigger and don't demand as much concentration, or even me looking down overmuch. I'm in no hurry. I never really planned to have it done for this winter anyway, and it could easily go into hibernation as Christmas approaches if I get too overloaded with "gift knitting". But I do so LOVE knitting with the Peace Fleece every so often.

Well, that's about it. I'm off to the LYS and the grocery store soon. I don't precisely NEED yarn, but I do need to support them, and I've neglected them over the past couple of months what with the Bendigo trip and all. That's my excuse anyway.