Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sock pic

All better now

The sock is fully recovered, well past the heel, and fitting nicely. (I'll try to take a picture this afternoon.) I'm hoping to finish it in the next couple days and start the second one! Part of the reason for its recovery is that I had what the Yarn Harlot calls "a whack of knitters" at my house yesterday for a lovely Memorial Day knitting party. We'd considered going downtown, but when we realized that downtown would be a complete zoo thanks to the big race I offered up my living room instead. And it was a great time. I completely failed to take pictures, but I can report the presence of Emily, Erica, Anne, Kate, Katie, Maggie, and Penny. Thanks to everyone for coming, and for bringing all the chips that I'm going to be snacking on for a week!

Friday, May 26, 2006


I made it all the way past the heel gusset. I tried it on, and... it was too small. I should have known earlier but I was filled with optimism and wishful thinking. So I frogged the whole thing and started over on bigger needles and with an extra purl stitch or two. I think it's going well so far; I started last night and finished the cuff on the bus this morning, and I know the pattern pretty well now so it should go quickly. I swear I'm going to knit all other socks toe-up. It's not worth the suffering. (But the yarn is still beautiful! Check out Emily's, which is similar but in greens instead of blues.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Just a quick update

Thanks to some judicious pattern-editing, I'm well into the heel flap of the sock already! I love the way the leaf pattern is turning out. I'm using gray reinforcing thread on the heel, which is making it a little dark. Once they're done I'm going to have to work on getting better pictures; the colors are so much better in real life.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My friend Kate has a new store, Zeitgeist Yarns, where she's selling hand-dyed sock yarn! Her colorways are beautiful, and the colors are in short stretches so they'll be more variegated than stripey, which is what I prefer. And the coolest thing is, she named a color after me. Anyone who saw my stash picture will recognize the appropriateness of the colors! She also gave me a skein so that I could knit a sample sock for her store - but I get to keep the socks, how could anyone pass up a deal like that? The yarn is a lovely range of soft gray-blues with a tiny hint of green and the occasional splash of purple. I'm making the Embossed Leaves socks from the winter IK, which I fell in love with again after seeing Lene's picture. I think they'll be gorgeous. Kate put up five skeins this morning and more will go up tonight, so check it out and get yourself some new sock yarn!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Random Wednesday!

I was thinking this morning that I'd like to make the Lotus Blossom Tank, sooner rather than later, so I can wear it this summer. I looked at the yarn requirements, and has anyone else noticed that the sizes go straight from 33.5" to 39"? Given that my size (which is really quite average) is right in the middle of that range, and that 3" of ease is a little much for a cute summer top, I think a redesign is called for. Or else maybe I should just find a different pattern. I already have two Chickamis and I need something new.

I've been spinning purple silk nonstop for several days and it's looking fantastic. Soon I'll ply some up and put fresh batteries in the camera so you can all see it!

S&B at the coffeeshop tonight, after a stop at the farmer's market on the way home. It's 80 and sunny outside. Yay!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


(This is my first entry in The Amazing Lace.)

On November 12, 2005, I was having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I was sad and grouchy and clearly in need of some retail therapy. At the time, I was living in Princeton, New Jersey, which has a rather nice downtown shopping area complete with a very good yarn store. I wandered around, looked at the yarn and browsed the books sitting out on the table. And then I saw it: Wrap Style. Things that I could make that would wrap me up and keep me warm and cozy and happy. I bought it and walked out feeling slightly better about the universe.

Fast-forward to the following weekend, when I finished my first lace shawl, the Flower Basket Shawl. As you can see from that post, I loved it (and still do). It's so soft and cozy, and it makes me feel good about myself when I wear it. (I wear it to work: I may be having trouble figuring out our old software, but by God, I can knit some really cool stuff.) I'd been reading my new book all week, and while the Shoulder Cozy and Spiral Shell looked warm and comfy, I kept coming back to the Wrapped in Tradition lace shawl. (I can't call it a poncho. It shares no traits with the archetype of a poncho.) I went out yarn-shopping but I was insistent on making it with the recommended yarn, Douceur et Soie, and so I was thwarted by the yarn stores. I bookmarked the page and went back to my sock- and holiday-knitting.

A month later, we packed everything up and moved across the country, from NJ to Colorado. On the way, we spent a few days at my parents' house in Kansas. I'd been planning a trip to the Yarn Barn, a great yarn store in Lawrence. Armed with a gift certificate from my parents, I swept through the store, picking up sock yarn (Trekking), books (Knitting on the Road), and the exact yarn I'd been wanting. Douceur et Soie, three skeins, pale blue. I admired it, petted it, and set it on my worktable where it languished for a month or two.

At one point, probably in the midst of my two months of unemployment, I picked up the yarn and the book, cast on, and knit five rows of very tricky lace. It's one of those patterns where you have to stare at the pattern constantly and mutter to yourself, "knit, purl, k2t, double yarnover, knit knit purl." Obviously you have to do this at home, so there are no distractions and no one looks at you funny. I haven't picked it up again since; too busy with Knitting Olympics and socks and learning to spin. But now, we're ready. We're a team. We're joining The Amazing Lace, and nothing's going to stop us now.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I know you're all anxiously waiting to hear - did I buy a wheel today? Nope. Surprise! But only because the store had just sold the last Lendrum to one of my classmates. Oops. Fortunately, there's an order in for several more, which should be arriving Any Day Now, and my name is on the list so they'll call me as soon as mine arrives. For now, Maggie was good enough to let me borrow the same wheel I'd been using, so I can get my spinning fix. Still, I'm looking forward to having my very own gear.

I did pick up the latest IK at the store. (And I bought the rest of the purple merino-silk.) Lots of good patterns, as everyone has been saying, and some that I like enough to want to make. Namely, the Lotus Blossom Tank, the Icarus Shawl, possibly the Evening Star Top, and the Little Arrowhead Shawl.

I had a fabulous time at Emily's yarn-swap party this morning (thank you Emily!!!). It was great to see everyone and it was somehow easier to talk to everyone than it is at the coffeeshop, possibly because there weren't a lot of other random people in a large echoing space! I was happy that some merino I'd been stashing for years found a new home, and I came home with: one skein of very pink No No Kitty cotton/rayon yarn, one ball of black/green laceweight alpaca (I think it's Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud in Midnight), and a copy of The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book. Good stuff.

And now, I think it's time to get back to spinning up the dyed blue fluff!


Beth asked for photographic evidence of the status of the Bonny sweater, and it's Saturday, and I woke up too early, so I have time and sunlight in which to take pictures. So here it is: a front, a back, and two sleeve cuffs. There's a little bit of weird rippling there on the back where I changed needles (bamboo to Turbos) and my gauge changed slightly, but I'm really hoping that'll go away with blocking.

I spent about an hour weeding the front yard yesterday and oh man, my legs are sore today. But I think I made a dent in the weed population, and am having visions of covering the rock wall with nasturtiums. I actually had a dream that I woke up and someone had mowed the lawn for us. Now there's a hard one to interpret.

It's going to be a good weekend: yarn-swap party today, hiking tomorrow, and gardening, knitting, and spinning to fill in all the extra time. Hope everyone else is having a good weekend too!

p.s. to QuantumTea: the wheel in the previous pic is the Lendrum double-treadle.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Carried away

Like I said earlier, I started spinning the purple merino-silk. The color is just fantastic, very rich but with enough lighter color to give it depth. I have this problem, though. I'm not very good yet at judging how thick my finished yarn is going to be, and I am a little bit of a perfectionist who loves having mad technical skillz and doing really serious stuff (e.g. my new lace project, and my fondness for programming).

The result?


I spun laceweight! This is very exciting! But this is also a problem. Because, you see, after much waffling I thought I'd decided to make the Diamond Fantasy Shawl. Which is knit in fingering-weight yarn. So now I have more decisions to make. The options:

- Work on my spinning and try to get singles that will yield fingering-weight yarn.
- Try knitting DFS in laceweight. (I'm not sure that will work very well; it looks like it needs a bit more structure.)
- Give it up and knit Icarus instead. Or something else, even. I like geometric triangular shawls, and any suggestions would be welcomed.

Opinions, anyone? Adding to the problem is the fact that I have to return the wheel to the store on Saturday, but we all know what the solution to that is.


First of all, go wish Beth a happy birthday! We've been friends for 12 years now (omg, how is that possible? we're not that old) and she was partially responsible for teaching me to knit, so I owe her a lot. :)

In spinning news, we have this: 62 yards (2 oz.) of fluffy worsted-spun pink-green merino! It's so delightfully squishy. I'm not sure what to make with it; maybe a pair of fingerless gloves, or I could buy more and make a scarf. I also started spinning the purple merino-silk I bought Sunday and I think it's exactly what I wanted for a DFS. I spun up some of the dyed blue fluff, but it's tricky; I didn't wash it very much for fear of felting it, so there's still some lanolin and dye in there, making it sticky. Spinning teased fluff is a bit of a challenge but maybe I'll try to do more tonight. The color does look really, really good.

In knitting news, I've finished the back and front of the Bonny sweater, and cast on for the sleeves last night! I'm knitting them both at the same time, which is my new favorite technique for things that are supposed to be the same length. I tried to take a picture of the rest of it but it didn't turn out very well, and it's not that exciting yet anyway, just a lot of navy blue stockinette stitch. While I was procrastinating the sleeve cast-on (not something I wanted to do on the bus), I worked on the pastel socks a little, but it's slow going. Thank goodness I have small feet.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Here they are: the same yarn you saw here, plus a little extra, after many hours in the dyepot. We learned how to use natural dyes: two kinds of wood (one from Brazil, one that grows wild in my parents' backyard), black walnut shells, and red and yellow onion skins. To make natural dye stick properly to protein fibers, you need to add a mordant, which is generally a mineral salt. We used alum, copper sulfate, and iron sulfate; there are other options but they're much more toxic. Different mordants give very different results, as you can see here. All yarns are Corriedale cross, spun woolen, except for the Brazilwood/alum which is worsted-spun merino, and the Brazilwood/iron which is spindle-spun. That worsted merino is the best of the lot; lovely color, smooth but squishy yarn, I wish I had another thousand yards of it.

From the top, each dyestuff in three mordants: alum, copper, iron. Top: Black walnut shells. Brazil wood. Bottom: Onion skins. Osage orange wood.

We also tried something different: we took part of a washed gray fleece, put it in a big tub with hot water and vinegar, and sprinkled WashFast Acid Dyes in various shades of blue all over it. This was the result. It's still drying, since it takes longer for the fleece locks to dry out than the yarns. When it's dry I'll just fluff it up a little and spin it, rather than carding or combing it first, so the colors don't blend too much.

Quite honestly, I expected dyeing to be interesting, but maybe not my newest hobby. I was so wrong. The prospect of being able to dye yarn into just the colors I want, with just the amount of color variation or the exact combination I'm looking for, is really terrific. I had no idea acid dyes were so easy to use. The only thing stopping me now is time (entirely occupied with spinning, carding, and knitting, oh, and my day job), money (need to pick up some saucepans to use for dye, not to mention the dye itself), and the prospect of making the entire kitchen smell like boiling vinegar. Still, it's pretty much guaranteed that there's going to be sock-yarn dyeing around here at some point soon.

Oh, and you're probably wondering, what the heck am I going to do with all this new yarn? I'm thinking that the small amounts and the complementary colors will look really nice knit into a sideways-striping garter-stitch scarf. But first I just have to sit and admire my yarn for a while.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Today was our last spinning class, and rather than doing any spinning, we had an all-day dye workshop. I'm so overwhelmed from all the information and color (and not sleeping enough last night) that I can't do it justice in this post, but that's OK, I'll save it for when my dyed skeins are dry so I can take nice pictures of them. I did, however, take advantage of the 10% class discount at the store, and picked up 2oz. each of these gorgeous Ashland Bay combed tops - that's their new spring pastel line of multicolor merino (seen here; I think this is Snapdragon and Strawberry Swirl) and some yummy grape purple merino/tussah.

The book is A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan, and given that it combines gardening and yarn and is full of lovely pictures of plants, how could I possibly resist?

Check back tomorrow, when hopefully my twelve skeins and the big pile of fleece will all be dry and ready for prime-time!

Friday, May 05, 2006

The only problem with spinning class

is that it was on Thursday nights. Leaving me, on Friday, stuck at work trying to decipher someone else's old code, while desperately wanting to be home with the wheel and the combed merino top and the newly-learned worsted-spinning technique. It's gray and rainy outside, too, the perfect weather for staying inside with a cup of tea and a nice pile of warm wool. Whine, whine. I'm going to go self-medicate with York Peppermint Patties now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Lots of good stuff

Here it is: yarn, spun by me! The white is all Corriedale-cross fleece (except for that stripe of blue merino, an experiment), and the green is the Ashland Bay merino-silk I blogged about before; so it's now a two-ply yarn from both wheel- and spindle-spun singles. It's gorgeous and soft and subtly colored. I'm having ambitious thoughts about spinning a whole lot of merino-silk, possibly in this color but maybe in something different, and turning it into the Diamond Fantasy Shawl. It'd take a while, but wouldn't it look great?

It might be too ambitious to be my Amazing Lace project, though. I'm really looking forward to this knitalong; I'll probably make the fluffy blue thing, but I confess I've been thinking about making a Birch. I'm stalled because my LYS doesn't sell Kidsilk Haze, and I can't decide on a color based only on internet pictures. Expect to see a KSH purchase after my next yarn-hunting expedition.

I have been knitting, in the midst of the wedding and travel and all, and the Bonny sweater has a finished back and almost an entire front and now I'm worrying about having enough yarn for the sleeves. Pictures forthcoming eventually, I swear.

And the last on my list of happy things: the California poppy seeds I planted in the yard last week have sprouted! I'm hoping for lots of lovely orange flowers in a few more weeks.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

His name's codeine, he's the nicest thing I've seen

(Credit to Townes Van Zandt for the title.)

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes! Unfortunately, the cold wasn't going away so I hauled myself to the doctor yesterday and wouldn't you know, it's bronchitis. Just what I always wanted. But the nice doctor gave me prescription cough syrup with codeine, and I slept really well last night. I think the Red Sox victory over the Yankees probably helped too.

I promised a report on spinning wheels, and this is my biased opinion so far: I like the Lendrum better. The Schacht is a beautiful piece of work, and I admire it greatly, but:
- The single treadle model makes me spin really fast to keep the wheel moving evenly. Faster spinning = less control, for this new spinner. I realize that the double treadle would probably fix this problem.
- It weighs a ton. I like to spin in my craft room sometimes, but I also like to sit in the living room and watch the NBA playoffs, so portability is somewhat important to me.
- The Schacht costs about $400 more than the Lendrum. Do you know how much fiber that would buy?

This is the last week of spinning class; we have class Thursday as usual and then we're spending Saturday learning about dyeing. I've learned a lot already but I can't wait to sign up for the next level!