Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Been Almost a Week...

...guess I should update the blog. It seems like so much happens in a week and yet I barely have time to slow down and document it.

I spent some time last week experimenting with dye. I tried several different techniques and tried to find the one I want to use almost exclusively (which I think I have, and that's good because my friend AG is pushing me to get my dyeing website up and running!!!).

This color is called School Carpet.
A few weeks ago we had a tornado drill at school and while I was down in the floor covering my head and digging my knees into the scratchy carpet I noticed that the colors in the carpet where quite interesting. This yarn mimics the school carpet with random splashes of teal, purple, rust, and white.

I don't know what to call this yarn yet but it makes me think of Easter on acid.
The true colors are much brighter in real life. I hand painted this skein with a little foam brush (which took FOREVER) without prepping the yarn. Just slapped it on there. Interesting end result. Not sure that I like it but I can't say that I hate it.

The last skein is probably the best.
I randomly choose these three colors by closing my eyes and picking up three bottles of Wilton's. I got black, rust, and burgundy. The best part is that the black turned out really well. After I finished microwaving it I let them all sit overnight and that helped the dye bath to really exhaust (for a more detailed explanation you can check out the Rav post I made here). I can't wait to reskein it and see how it looks then.

There's been knitting too. I went to my parent's house on Sunday to meet my new doggy brother (who I forgot to take pictures of, doh!) and finished this sweater for Warm Woolies.
I like the gull wing cables down the front. I promptly started another sweater for Warm Woolies.
I've also been doing some super secret Christmas knitting but I can't show you that because it's secret. I also discovered that I have more presents to knit than I originally remembered which only ups the ante on whether I will finish in time for the holidays or not. I also bought some more yarn on Sunday from the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store near my parent's house but I forgot to take pictures of that. There will need to be another post later this week just to talk about all the things I forgot to mention in this post.

On Saturday I went to a local arts and crafts fair and purchased a couple of things. In addition to some killer handmade soaps (will post a link to the website when I feel motivated to go and dig up the business card with the info on it) I bought my doggy brother, Luke, a bandanna and Penelope got a sachet of catnip. You can't see it in this picture because she's laying on it.
She totally flipped out for the next 20 minutes rolling over it and licking it. You can barely make out the little blue packet as she rolls around.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Now, Where Were We

Let's just start from Friday shall we?

Friday: Surprisingly a rather full social life has kept me rather busy for the last half a week or so. I went to the local high school football game on Friday to see some of my former students and meet up with some friends.
The kids looked good. It was hard to believe that just a year ago these kids were in my classes.
Afterwards went out with N.D. and A.P. and had a very nice time. But alas, no knitting that night.

Saturday: Drove my aunt and grandmother to a shower for one of my second cousins. Had a good time but again no knitting since I was driving a car.

Sunday: Church and then an epic family picture session. We had fun making the photographer laugh at our crazy family antics. Then I went and spent some time with my rents at their house. I took some very pretty pictures in their backyard. The sky was a little overcast giving everything a subdued look.
Grey Boy one of my parent's outside cats. He followed me around for the entire "photo shoot."
Some flowers and ivy on the back deck.
A close up of a very interesting and beautiful flower.
I love the shades of pink in this flower.
Such bright colors.
These last flowers smelled really good and there was a monarch butterfly on the branches that I tried to catch but was too quick for me and flew off.

I did get the chance to start some knitting on Sunday. I'm making another vest for Warm Woolies. It has a cable down the middle. Nothing too crazy. However, you know there might be cause for concern when your non-knitting mother asks you if you have started your Christmas knitting and then tells you you should probably get on that. Then she gives you a coupon for yarn. She's totally right, I do need to get on the Christmas knitting (I started it tonight, btw).

When I got home that night in my post box was a package from tinkiknit. Inside were lots of very nice yarns for me to use for charity knitting. All the blues, the green, the black, and the purples were in the one little box. I'm excited about using them and all I had to pay was shipping!

Monday: Yesterday I had planned to blog about the weekend but I got busy dyeing. Well first I had to finish rewinding an old skein on the swift.
I had a helper. She was very effective.

Yeah I realize that I need a second swift or something to keep the yarn from just lying around on like that. It got tangled several times. I was able to untangle it several times but at the end there was just too many knots. I knew it was getting bad when I kept yelling, "Frick!" at yarn.
There was some carnage.
It turned out lovely none the less.

My new yarn in still drying in my bathroom tonight. I tried some cool new techniques and I'm excited to show them tomorrow when they finish drying completely. I will say that I was able to get a really beautiful deep black which can be really hard to get without professional dyes.
Even up close with the flash you can see the color took really well. More pictures of yarn tomorrow!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dear Blog,

I'm still here. In fact I wanted to update you tonight; had planned to update. I had pictures to show of new knitting and yarn. But then I got the urge to dye tonight instead. And it took a while because it can be something of a process. I promise that tomorrow I will update you properly. With pictures and everything. A long post that covers what I did this weekend. Until then...

Your pal,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Home Improvement

There is a carpentry vein that runs in my family. My grandfather was a bona fide carpenter by trade and has a lovely, dusty, cluttered shop behind my grandparent's house. My aunt is the type of woman who sees a table she likes, goes and buys the lumber, then builds and stains the table herself. I mean she lives in the suburbs and has a miter saw in her garage. How awesome is that? I wish I had the space to build things. I've built a printer stand that I used at my old job and of course my swift but otherwise my projects are limited to drilling holes in the wall. Tonight I decided to take some advice and in the process I got to use a hand drill.

A few days ago when I mentioned I wanted to start dyeing a little more seriously I received a very nice comment from Jo from Celtic Memory Yarns. Jo is something of a celebrity in my eyes. Just take one look at her blog and you'll see why. This woman is talented. And besides all that she lives in Ireland which makes her cooler than your average internet knitting celebrity. Anyways, Jo told me to use the space I had and just go for it. As I was making dinner tonight I was mulling over using the space I had and all the while, glancing around my teeny tiny little kitchen. And then it hit me. I could totally arrange some things to give me more work space. Just like that, it was decided.

Here is the newly claimed long work area. This is actually the longest space in my kitchen at a whopping 4' 4".
This space used to house a crock pot, can opener, cookbooks, a drying rack, and the Dustbuster. It now houses my dyeing supplies. The Dustbuster (as you can see) has been mounted to the wall, thus fulfilling my desire to drill things. Plus I added some nails under the cabinets to drape the cord over (as I was wondering through the house asking myself, "Now where did I put my hammer?" I wondered how many single women my age ask themselves that very question each night. I figure not many).

The cookbooks are now in my decorative "window" that opens into my den (sorry there isn't a picture. The risk of catching the pile of dishes in the sink was too great). The drying rack, crock pot, and can opener got moved to the other side of the sink where the microwave used to be. I also moved my George Forman grill over there just to keep the small appliances together.
This is where the George Forman grill used to live, to the left of the stove on the other side of the kitchen (by other side I mean, literally, 2 feet away. My kitchen is claustrophobia inducing). Now this is where my cereal, sugar, and miscellaneous things still needing a permanent home are hanging out. But those are all small things and can be taken care of easily in the next few days.
Here's where I moved the microwave, right between the stove and the fridge (busted drawer included for atmosphere).
I'm pleased with the space I've gained, if nothing else for the fact that I can now actually put a plate on the counter when serving myself dinner. When I dye I won't be able to make anything too ridiculously long but then again, who has the space for that anyways? Plus it's more space than I used to have (about 2 times as much). I'll mix the dye stock in my sun room which is just adjacent to the kitchen and be able to work to my hearts content in a designated area. Pretty good for a nights work.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

7 Random Things About Me

Kate (a.k.a knightlyknitter) had this on her blog a few days ago and invited anyone who wanted to play along to join in. I signed up but have had a lot going on lately so I haven't had the chance until now to present you with...

7 Random Things About Me

1. My most vivid memories are all tied to smells. I can even smell a change in the seasons.
2. I can't sleep if my feet are too hot or my ears are too cold.
3. I have studied Renaissance martial arts and sword fighting.
4. I have 10 piercings (all in my ears) and 2 tattoos. I'm done with the piercings but not the tattoos.
5. The most natural place for me to hold my tongue is against the roof of my mouth which pushes my jaw slightly apart at all times (I don't know if anyone else does this...being my luck this is how everyone holds their jaw but at least it's random).
6. I know how to play 11 different instruments with varying degrees of success.
7. The first time I flew alone was this summer and it was a 18 hour international ordeal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Folks, I'm nearing a point where a decision has to be made. The problem is, I'm not really sure what decision I'm going for. See, it all started last night...

I dyed some yarn (pictures to follow) using some Wilton's icing dye and food coloring. It turned out ok. I say ok because the brown I used separated out into different colors. I know that when working with non-acid dyes like food coloring or Kool-Aid you kind of have to go with the flow and (honestly) not expect too much. I guess I'm reaching a point where not expecting too much isn't going to cut it. Not when I take the hours of time to set everything up or spend the money to buy the yarn and supplies. Therefore, the dyeing process is going to have to change. I'm going to have to step it up.

Stepping it up will mean switching to acid dyes. Acid dyes require a little bit of caution when using them to avoid a reaction. Which means I would have to move out of the kitchen and away from all the eating utensils. To where? I wondered. The kitchen has the "largest" work space (which isn't really all that large) but I can't mix dyes in there. The only other place is the sun room. The sun room would need a major overhaul for this to happen. Currently there just isn't enough room. I have a huge desk (that I love, so it's not leaving), an electronic keyboard, a guitar, 2 clarinets, and other assorted music odds and ends. I thought about moving the keyboard into my room with the boxes of t-shirts for the shipping company and setting up a long, narrow table of some sort along the wall that the keyboard currently located against. Which leads to a next little thought...If I'm putting this much time into this, shouldn't I try and get some return?

Getting a return means that I would like to open an on-line store. I've already talked with a friend who is knowledgeable in this sort of thing and I've started developing ideas about what I'd like to do. Opening a store means that I would have to switch to acid dyes for sure. It also means I'd have to invest in some fiber over and beyond the small quantities that I buy for dyeing for myself. Thankfully I know of some places I can get pretty good, almost wholesale prices.

This has been a lot to mull over for the past few days. Blondechicken must be reading my mind because she is doing a little series for online sellers about how to reach and develop a client base. At any rate I feel I am approaching critical mass* and I'm a little hesitant to start the reaction. I know that there will be some time and money that will need to be invested up front to get the ball rolling but I feel that in the long run I'll probably end up investing just as much for my own personal gain. Plus, as my friend AG said, "Why not?" He's kind of right. I mean what do I have to lose? I would want to switch to acid dyes if I continued to dye anyways. And if nothing sold in my store I could just knit it myself.

I say all that to say that there may be some rather large projects being undertaken in the next few months but I can't wait to see where all this goes.

*Critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material needed to start a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Basically this tiny bit of material is what makes things go boom. (Thank you Wikipedia).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Storm Clouds Gathering

I finished the Warm Woolies vest tonight.
There is more of the Storm Cloud color on the back but I didn't get a picture of that. I totally winged this pattern only checking the actual instructions every 30 minutes or so which made the finished product turn out nothing like the ones on the website. I did throw in this nice little "Tree of Life" aran pattern.
Sorry for the sub par photography tonight.

I'm also dyeing some yarn tonight.
These snap blocks are the inspiration.
I was playing around and showing the kids something with these about a week ago and when I looked at the colors I really liked them. I put the blocks in my bag and I'm hoping the colors come out as nice as the blocks did. Sorry for the dirty counter too. I was supposed to clean today in anticipation of a possible friend visiting on Friday but as you might have guessed that hasn't gone very far.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Changing Gears

I'm at the point in my vest where I've had to switch to the new color.
I'm changing to Storm Cloud so maybe I can pull off the "storm above a meadow" look.
I took the Meadow color to the most bitter end I could though. As is evidenced by this tiny tuft of left over yarn (don't ask me how I'm going to weave in that end, just go with me on this one).
I'm hoping tomorrow to finish this up and to dye yarn like I have been wanting to do all weekend. The half skeined yarn on the swift is mocking me. The swift may be trying to get my attention too as when I tried to get to my stash bin and find the Storm Cloud yarn I almost crashed through the window due to the rogue swift being in the way.

The moon is looking beautiful out my window in a frame of clouds and I'm about to head off to bed.

On a side note: I saw Traitor tonight and found it to be an exceptional movie that highlights the conflict of religion and warfare. I definitely recommend it to any one who likes a movies that make you think.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Very Sleepy So No Clever Title

First off a quick update on what I did Thursday night. I went to the local Irish pub to hear my friend Jim (a.k.a. James Patrick Morgan) perform. Jim has an amazing voice and he covered a whole range of songs. He even played Hootie and the Blowfish and Oasis, two of my all-time favorite bands, so he was ok by me :) A lot of my friends were out that night as well and I had a lovely time hanging out with everyone and letting my friend E.B. put me in stitches by just being himself. A good time was had by all and I'm glad I actually went out.

Fast forward to now

Do you ever have one of those moments when you are working on something and you realize that no matter how hard you try things aren't going to work out? But you realize you are also too far gone to start over? That's where I am with this Warm Woolies vest I'm knitting.
I have about 6 more inches to knit of the front and back of this thing and I'm not going to have enough yarn. Don't believe me?
Yeah, not enough. My frogging back point would have been when this was only 5 or 6 inches long but now I'm really in the thick of it. My solution is to keep knitting and sub in another yarn when this one runs out. Yeah, I guess I forgot to mention that I only have 2 skeins of the color that I've been using. Thankfully I have the same yarn in a different colorway so maybe it won't be too bad. We shall see.

I also realized that I never showed you the finished swift that I was making last week.
I used this set up a few times but ended up taking the lazy susan back. It was the cheap plastic kind and every 20 or so turns the little do-dad (technical term) on the bottom wouldn't spin correctly and the whole thing would almost fly off the tray table it's sitting on. I went back and purchased a 14" bamboo lazy susan that was $3 more than the plastic one and it works much better. The plastic one did work for a little while.
So I wound up a few skeins that were lying around. The new and improved swift being used for skeining yarn for dyeing which may or may not take place tomorrow depending on how tired I am after church.
Cat included for scale...kind of.

The ball of yarn that was on the original swift in the pictures above is my Stop Light colorway. I used the swift to reskein it and took some better pictures of it.
It really reminds me more of sherbet when it's been reskeined but I don't know if I will change the name.
Still pretty though!

Tonight's Penelope pictures show two of the many sides of my cat:
Sweet and innocent
and grumpy and unconcerned.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

News Flash

I am going out tonight. Like seriously getting off my behind and going out. Interacting with people even. People from my own age group. This may be nothing short of a miracle.

Monday, September 8, 2008

On a Dark and Stormy Night

I came home and found this in my post box:
Whee! My ball winder! I forgot to take a picture of it set up without yarn on it. This is my first attempt to wind something into a ball (and yes, it does take a little practice (as I found out)).
Ta da! A perfectly wound yarn cake. I actually took my hand wound ball of hand dyed yarn (Autumn Leaves) and rewound it to look a little cleaner.
Then I may have wound up the remainder of some other hand dyed that was sitting in my stash but didn't take pictures because I figured I might be the only person who gets really excited about winding yarn into balls...

I also spent today building. I had planned to go for a bike ride after work but when I left it was pouring down rain. It's hurricane season now and living in the Southeastern United States (a.k.a. Hurricane Docking Station #1) means that we get the left over storms after the hurricanes make land fall. Over the next week we are supposed to have another hit (there have been 3 big ones already). Anyways, I couldn't go riding so I went to Wal-Mart to try and find supplies for a hand made swift that Rebecca Chaky designed (got all the info off Ravelry).
I found everything except the doll pins and doll pin stands. But I'm ever resourceful and bought some dowel rods instead. Then I proceeded to drill holes in the yard sticks every 2 inches. It took a little trial and error to find the right size drill bit but I erred to the side of caution and started small.
See, nice little holes. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy running a power drill in my apartment but whatever.
Now all I have to do is pop in 4 dowels at the spacing I want. The dowel below is kind of broken because I tried to snap it and make it a little smaller. Didn't work too well. Also, Rebecca only takes her swift out to accommodate 62" skeins. I drilled holes all the way to the edge because I thought with hand dyeing I might want to make long skeins for color spacing.
Here's the main unit drying on my living room floor. There is a lazy susan that will go underneath it and turn the whole thing. I'll probably end up gluing those parts together but for now I just want it to dry so I can try it out!
Meanwhile, someone had to investigate the new ball winder.