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.