Monday, October 23, 2006

Regaining the habit of blogging

Well, the weekend came and went without a post, and that was mostly due to me forgetting about it. I have simply gotten out of the habit of thinking about blogging, so while I am thinking about it...

The finished Fair Isle Sampler Hat. I opted for the tassel instead of the pompom on the end, but this tassel is a little wussy. I will need to make a beefier tassel for it before I wear it. I mean, I want this sucker to induce tassel envy when I am done.

Then there are the socks for my Mom...

in a very seasonal color combo. All hail Trekking 143. These lovely picot edge socks brought to you by Claudia's pattern. I think she would also approve of the color choice. I sure hope my Mom likes them.

Then there's the in progress stuff. I am still going to town (slowly) on the Paistu Mittens, no in progress pics yet, but I have to say that I freaking heart color knitting. I have also gotten half a sleeve into this...

which will not look nearly as good on me as it does on this model, but there we are.

So that's the wrap up for now, more to come soon. ish.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dude, Where's My Blog?

For all of you who still have me on your bloglines, thanks for being patient (or just too lazy to remove me). I have been in the unenviable position of having so little free time I had to choose between knitting and blogging. And I chose the knitting.

But tonight I cannot knit, so I blog. Why, you ask, can I not knit? Well, I got bit above the wrist by one of my cats, and it seems I got bit bad enough to get infected in a mere 12 hours from bite to doctor's office. Ah, well, left handed typing is my amusement now. Fun.

When last we met, I had eight cats and two chickens and a small handful of baby fish keeping my big pair company in the pond. I now have nine cats, one chicken (these events are not related) and a gazillion growing fish in a too small pond. However, the remaining chicken, Ophelia, is a real trooper, giving us our daily egg and plenty amusement. Will I get a second chicken? We will see next spring, for now, I'll be happy to overwinter Ophelia. One chicken takes lots less precious time to deal with.

So, for the knitting. Right now, all uni-handed, I am too spazzy to get pictures together, but I will post some very soon. Not 3 months soon, like this weekend soon, maybe sooner if the meds get on top of this stupid infection. But I have finished the Fair Isle Sampler Hat, which was really rewarding, and am 3/4 of the way through the Paistu Mittens from 2 Pieceworks ago, I am almost done with some Trekking socks, I am acquiring quite a backlog of Petals Collection Yarn from Sundara's club (which is almost too pretty to knit!) and I have scored some of the new KSH purple color. Which brings me to this question.

Why do I keep buying KSH when I have yet to successfully knit with the stuff? Does anyone else have this sort of yarn problem? I can't stop buying it, I want all the colors, I love it, I adore it, I have big dreams and plans for it, and I can't make five freaking rows of lace with it without having to unknit it. Because you know it absolutely can't be frogged in the conventional manner. What is my problem here? And, to make matters worse, I buy it 3 balls at a time like I am going to knit a Birch in every flippin color. I have no idea. It is just a romantic dream I guess, but even I think it's weird.

Well, this is short but this is all I have energy for now. While everyone under the sun is at Rhinebeck this weekend I will be blogging (for real, with pics, finally), knitting (hopefully), and nullifying my antibiotics with a beer or two (definitely). What the heck.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I never would have thunk it.

Well, it has been a snakes on a plane kind of weekend here at the Mount Olympus of chickendom. Saturday started with my weekly date with the needle guy. My left shoulder was acting up big time (post migraine, 2 lost days of my life) and I decided to tell my TCM doc about it in case he had a suggestion to help ease the pain. Well, all I can say is that even if I hadn't been an acupuncture convert before, which I was, I would be now because the man whipped out some Chinese magic or something, and next thing you know I was fixed. Fixed! No pain, nothing. Freakin amazing. And you know what he did? One needle. In my right ankle. For my left shoulder. Magic, I tell you! I don't understand, I just believe.

So now I am ready to use my nifty new spindle at the demo for the Fayetteville Library that was scheduled that afternoon with my SCA group. Here is a lovely picture of me all rentarded:
Just your average 15th century peasant
That's me in the middle. Do you see the spindle? No, you don't. And do you know why? Because it rained, cats and dogs, and then the ground steamed gently for a good long while after that. Somehow it never occured to me that wool was hair and that the same weather that would cause a bad hair day would bring about a bad wool day, but there it is. I did try to spin, but the roving was sticky and kept frizzing out in my hands. I mean blow out kit frizz. Almost like static electricity would do, only more soggy and less shocky. So I packed up the spindle and the wool until a friendlier atmosphere could be found, and joined the rest of the ladies under the dayshade-become-sweat lodge while our men fetched us cool drinks and ice cream. Not so medieval, the ice cream, but very very welcome.

From there we headed off to Grantville, to have dinner with an old friend who opened a pizza restaurant there.
Nick with his sign - I love it!
This is Nick Sasso, who along with his wife Kim owns Nick's Pizza Stop which has the best pizza I have eaten since I moved to Atlanta 13 years ago. No joke. I would make the drive again for more of that, and the dessert we had of fried brownies, bananas foster and cheesecake would bring peace to the world if we can just work out the distribution plan...

So no spinning, and very little knitting, no exciting impromptu knitblogger meetups like last Sunday when I met Mouse, Jane and Sandy in person at Knitch, but deep fried desserts have their own charm, I can assure you.

There is plenty of knitting in the future, though, as I have a date with Amtrak next week, and all the fixings for a 22+ hour knitting extravaganza. Look for train knitting reports to come. And next time you're in Grantville Georgia, head over to Main Street for some great pizza, and tell Nick hi for me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fox in the henhouse.

Todays' plans were all cancelled by 11am and I found myself with a free day. Knitch, the new LYS on the block is about 3 blocks away from my TCM practitioner's office, so that was the first stop in my newly liberated schedule. It is a really wonderful place, and like last week I went right after acupuncture, which leaves me really woozy for a few hours after. That must be why I found myself leaving the shop an hour later armed for a brand new battle. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Don't ask me how this happened. I am not a spinner. At least this morning I wasn't. Now, though, I think I just might be. Plus, there is something delightfully perverse in being a chickengoddess and spinning on a spindle named the Fox. Actually there's a really good reason why this happened. Next weekend I am helping with a demo for a library down in Fayetteville. Their summer reading program has adopted a medieval theme this year and the SCA group I belong to agreed to do a demo for them. I had originally planned to knit in the round, which is perfectly medieval, but it is too freaking hot to have a bunch of wool in my lap. I also thought that knitting would be mighty boring for kids to watch, but spinning (even bad beginner spinning) would be more interesting, and I could let kids try it too. Anyway, I am having fun practicing and I can see where I might like to take a spinning class at some point.

So that brought me to lunchtime, after which I picked up the old Fair Isle Sampler Hat and went to town. Made a good bit of progress and man, I am loving the colorwork.

Wish I had a few more days like today, but alas, I must return to my regularly scheduled insanity. It was fun while it lasted, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Knitting vicariously through others.

Summer is half gone, and all my hopes of cool hours spent near the air conditioner vent knitting away peacefully are laid to rest once and for all. I got no time.

Neither, it seems do many others. All over the internet, knitblogs are full of posts of excuses for not knitting, apologies for non knitting content, pictures of anything but knitting. I will make no excuses or apologies, I won't make myself feel guilty for not knitting more, like it is some bad thing, or that I have failed somehow, when in actuality life is good, just busy.

Now, there's always time to buy yarn, against those days to come when good yarn might become scarce (or at least the good money you need to buy good yarn might). And living in Atlanta, this weekend was a banner weekend for yarn acquisition. On Saturday I made it to Knitch, the new store in the Virginia Highlands area. It has a really neat atmosphere and a good range of yarns that doesn't overlap any of the other local stores much at all, which is always nice. Unfortunately I went right after acupuncture (actually only 3 or 4 blocks away from the store) which meant I was really spacey at the time and that probably saved me from going hog wild with new cool yarns. I got away with a new set of Addi Turbos and that was it. I thought I might have recognized someone whose blog I read, but people never look enough like their pictures in person and I was too shy to speak up. Maybe we should all wear pins with our blog names on them when we go out in public so we can recognize each other.

Anyway, today was the glorious trifecta of yarn shop sale happiness in the back lot of Why Knot Knit, and there I admit I did drop the load of moolah. Stash properly enhanced against future yarn shortage, I must return to my regularly scheduled insanity.

So I have decided to knit vicariously through others till life calms down. Doing this, I will knit far better than I would if I actually had the time to commit to it myself anyway. For example, if I knit vicariously through, say, Grumperina, I can instantly achieve far more thorough understanding of the mechanics and techniques than I actually have time to bother with right now. Through Monkee, I will knit lace to perfection without all that nagging practice (read: frogging, tinking, swearing), through Claudia I will crank out socks by the dozen and maybe a sweater or two. Hey, if I include archives, the sky's the limit. Do you know how good this sounds to my weary brain right about now?

Yes, I have gone right round the bend, but I'm ok with that. And when I get some time to knit again and do it, I will thank myself for not flogging myself over not accomplishing much, and I'll undoubtedly enjoy the process a great deal more. Meanwhile, at the request of a few friends, here's a pic of me with my latest needles. Not the knitting kind. If you are squeamish, look away now.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Am I missing the point?

OK, will someone please explain lace knitting to me. I have determined that I am pretty much a process knitter, but this is ridiculous. Way back in the mists of time (well, last February) I started a Daisy Meadow shawl. A "beginner" lace project. I'm a beginner, so, ok. After ripping and reknitting every single row at least twice, I made it this far before I had to walk away.

A few weeks later I decided to pick it up again and spent an entire day knitting, ripping and reknitting chart 4. At the end of the day I had made it this far.

Before I admitted defeat. I don't know what it is about chart 4 that is so bad, but I couldn't get past it for love nor money. So back into its ziploc it went and aged several more months before I could stand to look at it again.

The problem is that I love the idea of knitting lace. The designs and the yarns are unbelievably beautiful, and I dream of knitting a Tina shawl or a Forest Path stole. Really. I have the patterns and I pull them out and look fondly at them and look toward the day I'll know enough to cast them on.

At least I used to feel that way. Until yesterday.

So I decided I'd pick up the scarf after another multi month hiatus and give it a go. I knitted the roughly 900 stitches of chart 4 4 times before nearly breaking down into tears. Not girly tears, not tears of sorrow, failure or remorse, but those special tears of frustration that say I know deep down in my heart that there isn't enough weapons grade plutonium on this planet to make a bomb big enough for my personal needs right now and that is why I cry. Oh, people, what is this lace knitting about?

Last row chart 4 I am one stitch short. Always. I think I find an error. Always. I tink back to fix it being very careful not to foul up tinking the fiddly bits. I begin to reknit, find a dropped stitch. I think. It looks like a yarn over, but that's not possible, last row was all knit. This happens in different spots, I think, but it is always the same. Picking up the stitch will make the number of stitches come out right. I pick it up. I knit. The lace pattern is off. I am somehow still one stitch short. And I seem to have a short column of stitches now where I picked up the alleged dropped stitch. Always. I look close, see where the error obviously started. Shouldn't have picked up that thing I thought was a stitch. Go back and undo to before I "fixed" it, but it doesn't look the same. See the obvious error. Fix it. Lose another internal stitch in the column of stitches and at end of the row I am still a stitch short. Always happens just like this. If I continue, I will eventually end up with a really short and mangled section in the internal lace structure and will never recover the 1 stitch I am short. Rip back to lifeline. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So for many hours work yesterday, I was finally able to achieve this:

I don't get it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Welcome July and all the future will bring! As last summer did, this summer has taken me in unexpected directions. Lest all you folks in blogland think you're in for another whine-fest of why I'm not knitting, let me assure you that that won't be the case. We are learning to roll with it. We are open to new experiences. Most importantly, we are still knitting.

First, let's contemplate the lotus blossom in the early morning light. I have never seen anything like it. The flowers actually glowed with a light I couldn't catch with the camera. They smelled like cotton candy and anise. Then one day I was looking in the pond and saw some new minnows. I thought, cool! Then I went inside and started to think about it for a few minutes. I decided that 1, minnows do not spontaneously generate in closed pond systems and 2, birds generally did not eat minnows from one pond and poop the seeds into another, thus spreading minnows like weeds. About now the brain actually starts kicking in, showing me a quick succession of snapshots of my memory. I remember the fish being all cute and synchronized swimmy this spring. I run outside and look really hard at the little plain bronze fish. Then a shubunkin splotchy minnow darts past and I realize my fish had babies! I know it happens, folks, but it was so unexpected! It is just amazing. (Granted, not as amazing as spontaneous minnow generation, but still...)

Then we saw the completion of the Dye-O-Rama swap. Somewhere in England a womans' eyes were burned out as she opened my package and "experienced" her yarn. I included some scented candles (she likes vanilla) so she would get something nice in case she thought the yarn was a booby prize. She was very gracious to me on her blog, I really hope she liked it. I am actually going to dye some more just like it so I can see for myself how that skein knits up. But that will be another project for another day.

I received my yarn and got a real surprise - 2 skeins! One from Susan W. who was my Dye Pal and one from her daughter! Bonus! (or like we say in Louisiana, lagniappe!) I would be hard pressed to tell you which I like better.

Aren't they beautiful? I just can't get over it. I can't wait to see what they look like knitted up.

The chickens are laying eggs on a pretty regular schedule now, we are finding new ways to use up the eggs (still at a 2 to 1 ratio to storebought - tiny!). I have reinstated the ceremonial gifting of fresh eggs to my friends (it's a chickengoddess thing, you wouldn't understand;), and am looking for some of those japanese boiled egg molds for making shaped eggs for bentos. I have always been intrigued by bentos and now that I am having to eat way healthier, I am studying the bento as an option.

Oh, so I haven't mentioned that I'm eating healthier? Let me share my healthcare odyssey. Remember, not whining. Really. Ok, there was overwork stress, then there was a hideous sinus infection, then there were general feelings of death-y-ness (it is a word if I say it is) which went way beyond mere summer cold. Then there were visits to multiple doctors (first one not my usual doc and I shant be making that mistake again) and much lab testing ensued. And guess what? My cholesterol medicine gave me hepatitis. Freaking hep. All those years of avoiding injecting recreational drugs, and for what? So, there was much discontinuation of medication, and supplementation with liver cleansing herbs, and then my MD suggested I consider acupuncture as a complementary treatment for strengthening my liver and for general good health. He recommended a TCM (traditional chinese medicine) practitioner. Let me tell you, I love my Doctor. And now, I love my TCM doc too. And my treatment, at first bizarre, has really been effective, and I have had many benefits from both the acupuncture therapy and the herbal therapy. Now, the final bloodwork was drawn yesterday, so this week I should know the answer to the most important question very soon. Will I be cleared to drink beer? Meanwhile, though, without the benefits of cholesterol lowering medications, I have to really watch what I eat. Did you know that shrimp are high in cholesterol? I sure as hell didn't. Not happy. Hopefully, I will remember to bring my camera with me next time I go. Good Lord, what's the use of being turned into a human pincusion if I can't post pictures and blog about it? Health effects aside, there's blogfodder there!

So ends the first installment of my catch-up. Stay tuned for actual WIP pics and the rest of the story.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Oh Lord I feel like I'm dyeing...

So now that work has promised to calm down, I get sick. I was too sick to knit publicly on World Wide Knit in Public Day. I was too sick to knit anything more complicated that my Trekking sock. I was so sick I could not differentiate between wanting to die and wanting to dye, and while reason dictates I refrain from making these decisions while under the influence of Cepacol and nasal spray, well, reason can get stuffed (like my nose). The most amazing yarns happen at the wrong times it seems. And it really took very little effort, because I spread the work over the greater part of the day and my friend Yul came to visit and took my mind off just how bad I felt. He was nice enough to take pics of my acid dye experiment and help me not make too much of a mess. He was also as excited about my lotus as I was. Yep, as if to compensate me for having to hang around the house so much, The lotus bloomed for the first time. It is really spectacular.

And the waterlily bloomed too. Woot!

So the dyeing began. I was really nervous about the acid dyes. I have no idea why, but they intimidated me. Kool-Aid just seems so friendly. You can drink it for heavens' sake. Acid dyes require "dedicated" equipment. Much less friendly. So I saved it for last, and really, the entireity of the "dedicated" equipment ultimately added up to one giant ziploc that ended up in the trash, and the sacrifice of a tin measuring spoon I had duplicates of. Oh, and some old convenience store cups. That's it. What was I so worried about? I don't know. These dyes deliver such a bang for the buck! So I warped up using my Infinitely Adjustable Warping Setup(TM) (ie: a table and my trusty bar clamps) and made one major change I plan on using in all my future dyeing.

I tied the warp with zip ties. Simple but brilliant, if I say so myself. The plastic won't react with anything you're going to subject the yarn to, and you can really be sure the ties are loose enough for the dye to reach all the yarn and not end up with tiny undyed lines under your ties. Then I set about making a wonderful mess.

OK, my idea was to make stripes of different combinations of color. My Dye O Rama buddy likes berry colors, but I wanted to throw in some of the greenery of berry bushes as well. I didn't count on the dyes setting up brighter and stronger, nor did I count on the color saturation which is vastly different than Kool-Aid. So you can understand how worried I became when, after microwaving, I got this instead of the more complementary shades I thought I had achieved.....

Youch! Where did all my pretty colors go? I mean, the greens are glowing like neon, and I took this picture without light or flash just to get one pic where the colors didn't burn out the camera! And the darker shades, they got dark! There's nothing for it than to hope it looks good after skeining. Don't get me wrong, the colors are all right, but this was not what I had planned when I set out. Blame the sudafed, I guess.

I gotta tell you, though, I really like it. It reminds me of these weird pressed crayons we had when I was a kid, where they took multi color bits and pressed them into a block. It was the hardest crayon in the world, and it changed color as you colored, and it was wonderful. Note to self: low probability that anyone else in the world will like this skein - consider renaming red skein and sending that to Dye Pal.

Maybe it is just that I like this one too much to part with it. Is that wrong?

Sunday a second flower opened. I needed two flowers. I felt twice as sick.

If only I could learn to dye subtle colors and pastel shades. I would be at no loss for inspiration.

Hey, Sundara, are you looking?

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Many thanks to all of you who have been sending notes of condolence and good wishes. It is so nice to know that you all are out there thinking of me from time to time, checking the blog and being patient with me.

Things have been better.

They are, however, looking up. Remember my partner with the stress-induced vertigo? Her being out left us 3 pharmacists down, and almost gave me a case of stress-induced quitting. But I really do love my job, and that became my mantra until she got better and we hired two new pharmacists who I think will really work out well. So there. Now I can breathe again.

But enough about me working, lets get to me knitting. And dyeing. First, lets have a lovely shot of the finished yard from our last dyeing installment. It came out darker than I had planned, darker than the picture. But I really really like it. I even named it.

Blood and Souls for my lord Arioch!
I am calling it Blood and Souls. Yes, yes, from the books about the ridiculously depressed albino superhero. What can I say? I had an Elric phase. And the color really is more blood-like than the picture. I was going to call it the Bloody Baron, then I remembered that he's a ghost and his bloodstains were silver, which totally wouldn't work. Blood and Souls it is.

In further non-knitting news, there has been much backyard improvement thanks to mother nature and DHL. First, from the water garden we have the exciting news that my asiatic lotus has five buds. I didn't get one flower last year because it was a baby, but this year it is very happy.

Two of the three buds. Down near the water there are two more buds just starting!

Second, from the back forty, DHL delivered my eglu about a week ago. I'm just waiting on my chickens to arrive. This picture's kind of blue, but it was just about to rain when I took it.

Last but not least, I have been knitting. In dribs and drabs, surely, but knitting did happen. I went on a bit of a starting binge. First, because two colors just weren't enough for me (it seems)...

The insanely long and cool Fair Isle Sampler Hat from IK Fall 2004. Yes I am tired of weaving in ends already.

And last because when charts were too much for my brain there's nothing like the instant gratification of Trekking XXL...

With a picot edge. God, I am such a follower. But I made my own decorative stitch markers, so neener neener neener.

And where, you may well ask, are my previous WIP's? They're still there, I've just been fickle as hell. And in the true spirit of someone who's largely too busy to knit, I have still managed to buy. But that will be another post for another day. I have to dye more yarn and update my template now.

BTW, koyaanisqatsi is a Hopi indian word which means "life out of balance". I thought that pretty well summed things up. It is also a movie I really like.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Workaholic much?

For all of you nice folks out there who have left comments and not gotten responses, I really appreciate your patience. Work has taken over my life for the moment, but the end is in sight. We are already 1 pharmacist short, and with 2 deaths in families, 3 hospitalizations, a case of food poisoning and a boss/partner with stress induced vertigo, I am doing the job of 97 normal pharmacists and no one has even had time to try to hire anyone else. Knitting is something I am looking forward to rediscovering. Sleep as well. For now, I leave you with a reprise photo of Jackson which pretty much sums up the way I feel.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Dye Another Day

We left our story yesterday all warped up with nowhere to go. That is when I realized that I probably warped this yarn wrong. I was wrapping post 1 4 times, post 2 2 times, post 3 4 times and post 4 2 times. I have never used a warping board before and was winging it as best I could. After all the wraps were done I realized I had done something wrong. The two middle posts had twice as much yarn on them as the two end posts. A quick query to the Dye-O-Rama message board revealed all. I was warping posts 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 and so on, when I should have warped 1-2-3-4 and brought the yarn back to post 1, starting all over again. I had two choices. Re warp the whole skein, or damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Since I knew the stripe pattern I should get from re warping but had no idea what would happen with the warp as I had wrapped it, I decided, in the name of science to forge on ahead. Ahead warp factor two, Mr. Chekov.

So I soaked the yarn, because I read that this is better to do with immersion dyeing where color placement and control isn't as much of an issue. Strangely, this made me hungry.

For ramen! So while the yarn soaked, I ate noodles. I was warming up the stove. Sure.

Then I mixed up the Kool Aid in cold water, dunked the yarn in and applied the heat. You're looking at Black Cherry, Cherry and Soarin Strawberry Lemonade. After yesterday, I totally expected to smell zoo when everything heated up, but got only fruity smell instead. I am definitely not complaining.

I cut the heat off when all the liquids were clear.....

And it's hanging to dry even as we speak. I am loving the colors.

So here's my take on this process so far. Handpainting with Kool Aid was a mess, and I look forward to trying it with the Jacquard dyes. I have a feeling that the color saturation won't be nearly the issue. I also won't mix them as watery. In general, it is a lot messier that immersion dyeing. Immersion dyeing definitely solves the problem of even saturated color. And I don't know about the smell thing, maybe that was a by product of microwaving yarn with very little liquid. Or just microwaving alone. Even when I was overdyeing yesterday with plenty of liquid I got hot stinky sheep smell. Today, nada. For a beginning project I certainly got more bang for the buck with immersion dyeing. Immediately satisfying, whereas I had quite a few interesting moments yesterday. Overall I am pleased with yesterdays' skein and thrilled with todays.

But wait, there's more! Two skeins to go. Next chapter - Jacquard, the real deal.

Smells Like Sheep Spirit

After another crazy shorthanded long hours no knitting work week, I finally got to play with my yarn for the Dye-O-Rama swap. All afternoon the cats were shooed off the porch and supplies were assembled.

Note the 4 skeins of undyed Opal superwash sock yarn fresh from England. The Jacquard acid dyes were present for the opening ceremonies but will not appear in the arena today.

This is my infinitely variable warping setup, which consists of table, upside down bar clamps, giant ruler and swift. (Makes it seem much grander than it really is) Cheesy, but it works.

And this is the just before dyeing shot. The next picture you will see will be the well after dyeing pic, and that is because here is where things began to go wrong get interesting, First, I found no information about how to mix Kool Aid for painting as opposed to immersion dyeing. So I ended up with way too much water in the dye. Then I didn't check to see if the opening of the Ball jars was actually wide enough for the foam "brushes" I had. When the "painted" color was looking all blotchy I decided to switch to dunking the yarn directly into the dye, which worked well enough at first, but left the yarn completely sodden. The downside of this is that you then learn that your porch slants to the left of where you're standing and that gravity is not your friend. During which time I just couldn't manage to grab the camera and snap photos of the fruity chaos.

So now we're all ready to go into the microwave. I am prepared for the infusion of sweet stench I am imagining boiling Kool Aid will fill my house with. I am not prepared for the less than pleasant smell of hot wet sheep I get instead.

MMmmm, barnyard-y. And I am less than enthused with the color uptake. This is 4 packets of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade, 2 packets Grape and 2 packets Lemon Lime. I punt, and overdye the entire skein by immersing it in a solution of 4 packets Berry Blue. I now have something that looks like a shirt I bought at a Dead-head shop in Florida 20 years ago. And smells like sheep ass.

We will have to see how this skeins up and knits up to know whether it was a success. The effect I was going for was a random color pattern, so I dyed short areas of color. I don't know whether or not it will pool, but it will certainly look bright. And I know just the t shirt I can wear with it.
Introducing cat number eight never before seen on this blog
The elusive Boudiccea likes it. I do too.

Tomorrow: Self Striping yarn
Already warped up!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

For my Dye Pal

When I first signed up for Dye-o-Rama, I originally put down jewel tones of blue, red green or yellow as my preferred colors. But you know, just thinking about it, I might rather you dye in colors that really speak to you. I think that if you are really having fun with color, whatever you dye for me will be the best because your enthusiasm will be the greatest. I would really hate to limit you to colors you don't care for and can't get excited about. So if you happen to really be into jewel tones, great, but if not, I'd rather you let your creativity and joy speak to me through your color choices.

I love color, and I don't think there are really any bad colors at all. Even the strangest colors can be used to great effect. And although I don't normally think of myself as a barbie pink or baby yellow kind of girl, an infusion of unexpected color is good for me from time to time.

So, dear Dye Pal, you might not think I'm being very helpful by being so vague, but I am dyeing yarn for someone else myself, waiting to hear their preferences, hoping I will enjoy creating yarn they will like, and I just want to be sure you will have that same enjoyment in the wonderful work you will be doing for me. Please rest assured that no matter what you do, I will be a grateful recipient of your handiwork, and will delight in your creativity.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Where is time going?

Wow, time flies when you are being worked to death (but the paychecks look pretty good.)

Here's the update of my status. Frustrated, but not too badly. Work is taking a huge toll. We are growing the business and so have 2 new facilities to service. At the same time we have lost 3 employees, gained 2 (that math says that May will be rough too) and had lots of people out due to family emergencies. When you work for a company with less than 20 employees, that sort of stuff is devastating.

It is also spring, which means grass starts needing to be cut and the pond is breaking dormancy. It also means chickens will be here soon. Oh yeah, and the cats are shedding. I have eight cats. My living room floor becomes like unto a vast plain with herds of dust buffalo and fur tumbleweeds everywhere. There is no vaccuuming frequently enough. Ya just gotta let it go, or else you become neurotic and burn out the vaccuum.

So, knitting has been in fits and starts, and sometimes not at all. I have learned that I do not like knitting with distractions. At all. I mean beyond the normal background distractions of regular knitting at home. Cats jumping on you or falling asleep on top of the yarn, phone ringing, etc. The Husband and I went to an SCA event last weekend where I planned to knit all day on the turkish stockings. I have never been so distracted in my life. I probably got less than an inch done and screwed it up. I have had no desire at the end of an extra long work day with an hour and a half commute home through Braves traffic to even attempt to knit for the 14 minutes I have left before I fall asleep standing up. The days are longer and longer - you'd think there would at least be an illusion of having more time.

I did however, get in some undyed Opal for the Dye-o-rama swap, and bought some commercial acid dyes and Kool Aid for experimentation purposes (yes, in my copious free time I am going to dye yarn). And the chickens will be here sometime this month. And I am fairly certain knitting will occur eventually. I have to admit, though, that the thought of summer in the south with a lapfull of wool is not very appealing.


Friday, April 21, 2006

God wants me to dye yarn

Ok now, who was it that was sitting here at 6pm mountain time and hitting refresh on Scout's blog like a lab rat?

And who was it that was frantically downloading Firefox so I could make the sign up form work (like it wasn't going to be up for 48 hours)?

Oh, yeah. Who took an odd but intense satisfaction in being like the 7th person in the sign up (even though the automatic alphabetizer makes me show up near the bottom of the list)?

Also - who can't count down hours properly and thought sign up wouldn't start 'till Saturday (when I'll be out in the woods) so it's a damned good thing Scout put a countdown timer on her blog?

Uh, that would all be me.

Then just after confirmation was complete, an amazing lightening storm blew up and took out the DSL.

I don't know about you, but I think all this smacks of Divine Intervention. (Dramatic much?)

(Sign ups are open till Scout's countdown timer says. Go over and sign up!)

And now, because every post needs a picture, here's a little humor from the last time gas went sky high:

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

All work and no play makes me order stuff on the internet.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Between the pollen making my asthma flare up and work being its usual crazy self, not much knitting progress has occurred. In anticipation ofI have ordered some undyed Opal to play with. Hopefully I will be able to make the sign up even though I'll be out of town and nowhere near internet access this weekend. Oh well, if I don't make it, I'll still play with dyeing, and that's the point.

I have also been on a pattern buying binge that really has to stop. I think I have a pattern stash that will soon exceed the yarn stash, but when I don't get to actually knit, this is the sort of thing that happens. So it is my bosses' fault. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Meanwhile in "the Birch is going nowhere" news, little overall progress has been made, but I have finally figured out what went wrong the first time I tried it. First, I am a loose knitter, second, I knit looser in Continental than in English. The first attempt didn't make it past the 1st repeat, when I found my yarn overs were making holes big enough for the cats to crawl through. So I had to frog it completely and cast on again, and let me tell you I don't ever want to frog KSH again. Oh, no, next time I am buying an extra ball and just cutting that mess off. I am now knitting Birch perfectly, and the secret is to knit English and choke the living *#^! out of the needles with tight stitches. Probably it would have worked just fine going down a needle size or twelve (the holes were huge, I tell you, huge!)but I must do things the hard way sometimes.

And now, I give you my favorite plant in the whole world - my lotus.
Last year's happy baby plant. Now that it has been repotted and it's in the pond, it should be ginormous. Oh, and the Eglu gets ordered soon. I have been chicken free for too long.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Victory, hard won (is there really any other way?)

I have realized that good knitting requires listening to my body. As I move through the process of skill integration, I find that I have very visceral reactions to seeing projects I am going to have trouble with. Tonight was the first night my stomach didn't bunch up just thinking about lace. So I decided to give it a try again.

I finally got through the repeat on the Daisy Meadow Scarf that tried to send me to the crazy house. Being my first real foray into the mystical world of lace knitting, I realize now how much this project is teaching me.

One of many lessons learned is that lace is the great equalizer. The more I read blogs and musings of those who I consider to be really great lace knitters, the more I find that we are all having very similar experiences, even though we have very different skill levels. Everyone, it seems tinks, curses, and approaches tears or stultifying boredom in turns, just like me! So I am going to trust that I will also be like everyone else when blocking time comes, and will feel that all the effort was worth it. I am already pretty happy when I stretch it out.

Something else I learned is that the lace itself will let you know if you are a lace person or not. If you survive the insanities of the process and don't quit, or even still want to knit lace after it is done, you are a lace person. If not, and you still want lace, my advice (even at this early stage of becoming a knitter, I give advice..) is to befriend a lace knitter and trade for lace. Find someone who sucks at something you can do in your sleep, like aran or fair isle, and make a deal. Cause if the lace tells you you aren't cut out for it, trust it, you ain't.

I also learned that there are many levels of patience attainable to the dedicated student of knitting. Sort of like the different levels of meditation, or martial arts, and as you master one level or type of patience, part of what you learn is how badly you need to achieve the next level to be that much better. And so on, until you attain grand master status like Monkee or Eunny or Grumperina or Wendy. Then you get to help others on their path. And from all those wonderful knitters I just mentioned, I learned (among other things) that they still swear over their lace, which has been a most relieving thing for a little lace grasshopper like me. One day maybe I will approach the greatness of the knit fu lacemasters, but for now, I am still one white belt lace knitter who has to call out all the stitches as I go.

Count with me, yo, k, yo, fiddly thing, yo, k, yo, fiddly thing......

Monday, April 10, 2006

One thing still works...

Colorwork. For some reason, while I can't knit plain stockinette in a single color, I have made a bit of progress with the turkish stocking. Can't explain it, but there it is. I did realize that trying to knit the stocking toe up and learn colorwork at the same time was self defeating, and since I think I can produce the same sock knitting it from the top down, I'm going to go with my strengths and do it backwards. I am pretty happy with my slow progress...

Now, the book, which really supposes you know a hell of a lot more about sock knitting that I do, says the original sock has a "hybrid" heel. I have no earthly idea what that is, and I am not sure it is even something that can be done properly if you knit the sock any way but toe up, so I'm going out on a limb with an inserted heel, which I hope will preserve the sillhouette of the sock. Wow, I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about! Anyway, I have a ways to go before I get anywhere near the heel, so there's plenty of time to figure it out. I'm pretty proud to have figured out a couple of errors in the chart in the book (even though it's pretty obvious, still, I could have been unconscious about it) and I like the way it is looking. Mostly I like it because it is the only one of my current attempts at knitting that hasn't self destructed on me. And I've got gauge spot on with 1s. Wheee!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Musings after a week in hell

Well, that's over, and I don't want to repeat it again. I shall have to declare that from now on no one is allowed to take time off work but me, and that's all there is to that. Precious little time was left for knitting, although I was able to sneak in a few rows here and there for purposes of sanity.

Something interesting has happened, though. I am losing my ability to knit. I can only assume that it is a natural part of what I have found over the years to be my learning process.

I have done so many different things with my hands over the years that I am usually able to achieve a sort of instant mediocrity in any new thing I try. This is actually good because it gives me a real boost at whatever craft I am trying, which is nice. It is generally followed by a quick success, then by a strange period of time where I feel like I am "unlearning" whatever techniques I have been doing so well, and nothing feels natural; nothing looks good or works right. It is really kinda scary, it feels like I am, for lack of a better term, "losing it", and the whole experience tends to impact every aspect of my life for a short time.

I know this will be followed by a resolution and integration of skill and ability and I'll move forward again, but somehow I always forget I must go through this and it catches me by surprise. Well, with knitting, it happened right as I was cluing in to lace. Bad timing - really, it could not have been worse. Lace is frustrating enough without this. After deciding to go back to plain knitting and working some of the worst stockinette I have ever produced (and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth) I realized that I have hit my brain damage phase in the process of learning to knit. So there's nothing to show as most things have been ripped and reknit and reripped and will be caught in this cycle until yarn and needles don't feel alien in my hands anymore.

This challenging work week has given me a great excuse to not fight this too much and a break which helped me realize just what was happening. For a minute there I was actually mourning the newly acquired stash I would not be able to make anything out of due to my failure to become a knitter. But I know this won't last, and it has even started getting a little better already. Does anyone else go through this "unlearning" phase like I do?

OK, so here's a picture of a chicken (actually, a rooster) to distract you from the lack of knitting content. It is a Red Jungle Fowl, and may be the chicken from which all others sprang. Dawn chicken, if you will. Ain't he gorgeous? Probably mean as hell, too. Go chicken, you rock!

Saturday, April 01, 2006