Sunday, September 30, 2007

In my time of dyeing

I did my first dye job today! Well, on yarn, anyway. This was my September project for the Do Something New knitalong (clickable button is in the right-hand sidebar).
Originally, I picked this project for the following very practical reasons: 1) I already had the stuff because I planned to do this three years ago and didn't, and 2) I knew it was going to be a really hectic month and I might not have time to finish a knitted item. As it turned out, I wouldn't have. Pretty much all the time I have found for knitting has gone into the Professional Project, and in the meantime I've been working and going on job interviews, which is just draining.
However, it ended up being really fun and I know I'm going to do it again soon. I may or may not have gotten the bug; we'll see.
I dyed some white baby alpaca yarn that I had frogged from my first attempt at a hat not too long after I taught myself to knit. I didn't do a gauge swatch, so the hat ended up big enough for two people to wear at once. Anyway, it was my first good yarn that I bought at a yarn store (as opposed to a craft store or a fabric store) so I hung onto it. I also wanted to dye a bit of this Morehouse Merino lace--

I got this as a shawl kit in one of the hand-dyed colorways, and boy was it ever a disappointment. In the picture of this colorway that is used both on the website and on the pattern, the colors are much, much brighter and there is a lot more pink in relation to the other colors. This looks really washed out and dull, like it was soaked in dirty water and then shoved in a dusty attic for a dozen years. It doesn't look any better knit up. I thought that it might be usable if I overdyed it a dark color, as the merino wool itself is very good (and I don't want to just throw out a $50 hank of yarn).
Here's the alpaca and the bit of merino lace on the scale...

The Kool Aid guy looks really happy knowing that he is going into a hot tub with a bunch of Alpaca, doesn't he?

...and here it is presoaking. I wouldn't normally use a $30 Mason Cash mixing bowl, which I guard with my life, to soak yarn but it was the only bowl I had that was big enough. Doesn't it look pretty?

Here's the yarn cooking on the stove, next to my curly fries (blush) and Quorn nuggets. (Do you think that eating the fake meat might offset the fried potatoes?) I wouldn't have believed it when I started, but that sucked up the dye like crazy, and quick, and the water really did end up clear! It was cool.

This is what the water looked like after only about 10 minutes on the stove-- almost all the dye is gone.

Purple spaghetti! The water was totally clear by this time--the yarn caught every little bit of the dye. The merino came out quite a bit darker than the alpaca, but that was to be expected; it was already dyed. Also, I was pleased how much of the dye the alpaca trapped given that I started with white (which was not necessarily natural white-- but I didn't keep the labels so I don't know.)

And here they are-- the finished hanks. Pretty maids all in a row.
I have a feeling that this yarn will become gloves, but I'm not sure.
The lace still shows different colors through the overdye, but it might look OK-- I'm going to reserve judgment until I have a chance to swatch it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Out of commission

No, I haven't taken a retail job-- I've just felt like something off a bus station bathroom floor for the last week or so. I'm saving my energy for work, since I can't afford to miss a day and -- mainly -- because the place where I'm working is an awesome nonprofit and I don't want to miss a day.
Anyway, this probably isn't the best way to treat a chronic headache/impending sinus infection/mild stomach bug or whatever it is that I've got, but I discovered a very refreshing drink tonight that I want to share with you. Trust me, this stuff is awesome.

About 1.5-2 oz. Absolut Pears
Most of a bottle of Dry Lemongrass soda
fresh lime wedge

Pour the vodka and soda over the rocks in a tall glass, twist the fresh lime juice into the whole shebang, and YUM you got yourself one refreshing, delicious drink.
Seriously, this might be a dangerous one because I could drink this down like iced tea. It's not quite as dangerous as the Blue Asian Pear Martinis that I like at this place downtown (which are mostly alcohol but I swear they go down like juice). Those are so innocuous-tasting that you can knock three of them back before the food reaches the table, which is a really bad idea. I only did it once. The broccoli prawns didn't go down quite as smoothly as the drinks did.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hanami Progress

I'm too tired to write but I have sneaked (snuck?) in a little bit of time for one of my personal projects -- Hanami-- over the last couple of weeks, although the vast majority of knitting time has been on the Professional Project (I think of it as a proper noun.)

I'm a bit behind the KAL but I expected that-- I'll catch up later. Well, I'll at least finish later if I don't actually catch up. Anyway, I switched to the Addi Lace Turbos tonight and they rock. What a relief to get off the teeny dpns and onto good needles. The lace ones are noticably lighter than the regular turbos-- and the bamboo dpns, believe it or not-- so my project really feels lightweight now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Random Sharing (a.k.a. Tuesday Show and Tell)

Item #1:

I came home today to two really killer boxes of yarn. It was the Best Christmas Ever.

I'm not going into too much detail except to say that:
1) most of this was the result of a swap. The swap actually went horribly awry (due to theivery/knavery/depravity somewhere on the trip over the Canadian/American border) but the friend with whom I swapped-- who is the sweetest person ever but probably wouldn't admit it-- got me a gift cert to Colorsong Yarn, since much of what went missing in the package was some really swank Kid Aran. The rest is for an afghan, and it is inexpensive yarn, although it is an inexpensive yarn that I am sure I am going to really like: Berroco Comfort. I can already vouch for the fact that it is unbelievably soft for a completely synthetic (and half-acrylic) yarn.
Anyway, the Hand Maiden and Fleece Artist selections are just the sexiest yarns ever. I would marry them if I could, but they know perfectly well that they don't have to marry me because I will put out anyway.
Hey-- doesn't "thievery/knavery/depravity" sound like the sequel to "Love! Valour! Compassion!"?

Item #2:

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.
Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.
Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.
You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.

I saw this on Kristina's blog (same friend of the yarn swap mentioned above), and I wasn't too surprised that I also ended up as a Midnight. The description seemed to fit.
Maybe I should start insisting that people call me Midnight...Nah. Too Goth.

Item #3:
After submitting the "Time of Day" questionnaire, I couldn't resist the opportunity offered in the Blogthings sidebar to see who my 80's hunk would be. I was hoping for Judd Nelson ca. The Breakfast Club or (sigh) River Phoenix, so imagine my surprise when I got this result:
Your 80s Hunk Is

Bill Gates

After the initial sexual letdown, it dawned on me: hey! I just got an unlimited yarn stash and free lifetime tech support-- although if I had hooked up with Bill Gates I don't think I'd be stuck using the piece of shit I am typing on right now (a.k.a. the $2,000 paperweight).

Anyway-- as far as the stashbust goes, I am keeping myself honest...I posted about the acquisition on here, I am adding the yardage to the total, and I am going into the red on my Finishing are you satisfied? Huh?!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Squirrel In Tree, Snail In Garden

...Just as it should be.

By the way, I really am knitting on a daily basis; I am just working on the professional project right now and don't have time for my own stuff. The butterfly top is currently pinned (ha ha!) in my WIP basket and I haven't touched it for a week. Oh, and I am so close...
Oooh, "professional"! Hoi ti toi! Can I say that now, if I am getting money in exchange for knitting? Because it sounds really cool.
The "yarn art" project is from the Fall 1970 issue of McCall Needlepoint; suitable for disappointing any niece or nephew on Christmas Morning.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Found in a bag of yarn headed to the Goodwill...

Uhhh.....anyone else find this yarn label a little disturbing?

Take another look:

(Shudder.) Creepy, isn't it? What's especially creepy is that none of these words require a "K" at the beginning. Country, Cabled, Cotton. Hmmmm.
This is the yarn of choice if you want to knit yourself a Kozy little hood(ie) before the barn dance and cross burning, I guess.
I hope that the Lily Company eventually yanked this (before it got discontinued, I mean)...or at least decided to check future products for hidden references to violent, racist secret societies.
Well, I'll be getting this out of my apartment ASAP...

Well, enough of that. Here's something just too, too adorable with which to cleanse your palate:

Let's say it together: "ahhhhhhhhh....."
I made soap with a hedgehog today. Really! Well, it was really with some friends, but one of the friends has a little wee hedgehog. If you have never seen one before, they are a lot smaller than you think they will be. This is no baby; in fact, she's already had a hysterectomy (long story). Isn't she cute?

(Short return to the "inappropriate products" theme: I like that Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! lunchbox in the background. I assume that was not originally manufactured for schoolchildren in the '70s. Wouldn't it be interesting to send your kid to school with that, though?)

Progress on WIPs has been good, considering that I'm currently working on a knit-for-pay project (my first one! yippeee!) so I have to divert time away from my personal stuff. But, I did manage to meet Friday's goal on the Hanami shawl. I've been knitting it on two 6" size 2 dpns, but that has to stop since I have 127 or so stitches on the needle and it is becoming a very fiddly process. I'm going to spend some of my budgeted Finishing Funds for a 24" size 2 circular, and I am definitely going to get the Addi Turbo Lace. I tried a size 6 on a different project, and they are awesome.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ribbed For Her Displeasure

Here we have Lenny and George modeling the latest and most hideous of acrylic handknit menswear ca. fall 1970.
The text notes that Lenny's pullover is knit in Quaker Stitch. Perhaps this is because the Quakers do not believe in sex before marriage, and this sweater resembles a sort of prophylactic suit-of-armor. Knit for chastity!
George, on the other hand, looks like he is a firm believer in sex before marriage.
With you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Labors over Labor Day Weekend

I made some progress over the weekend on a few projects, and had the gratification of moving some of the tickers forward a little. So far, this ticker thing is working pretty well; it really is motivating me to work on only the projects I currently have up there. Of course, this means that I am spending less time swatching and daydreaming, but then again I spend a lot of time daydreaming, and I'll go back to more swatching after I get some of these projects done.
Butterfly Top:

This is the "Butterfly" pattern by Katie Himmelberg from the Spring '07 issue of Knitscene. I am making it in Berroco Bonsai, so mine is going to have quite a different feel from the one in the magazine just by virtue of using a different bamboo yarn (my working title for it is "Glam Rock"). Normally, I don't go for shiny gold but this was the only color of Bonsai that the LYS had enough of-- and then it really ended up growing on me. Now I like my golden top, and hopefully I'll still like it once I try it on.

As you can see, this yarn photographs a LOT better when I don't have to use the flash.
I'm knitting both of the top pieces at once-- the strand of red yarn is marking the last decrease row (I love using this method to mark "last rows" -- very handy.)

Babette is getting bigger:

I finished strip no. 8 and added it to the blanket, so now I have only two more strips of squares before I can block and edge. The strips are all getting exponentially larger because this is assembled in log cabin fashion, so the addition of the three most recent strips has made quite a difference in size, as you can see compared with my previous post on this project.


The beaded cast-on did take a while, but I enjoyed it and the effect was worth it. I got Czech fired-glass beads for this stole, which are more expensive than the clear glass seed beads called for in the pattern, but I already had some of these in my stash and, fortunately, one of the bead stores in my neighborhood had some more that matched almost exactly. I bought some more because I was a few short of what I needed for the beaded cast-on, and I am also going to add some to the body of the stole.

And, one of the really old UFOs is done:

This is a crocheted blanket that I completed over a year ago, but before I added the edging it got relegated to the UFO pile. This was a sale-yarn special (the type of thing you make when you get a really great deal on yarn, get it home, and then wonder what the hell you are going to do with it.) I didn't count this in my yarn stash inventory because it was one of two blankets for which I couldn't estimate the yardage with sufficient accuracy. The other one is a throw for my Mom, who got the unfinished throw for Christmas, and who has been reminding me ever since that I owe her the finished item. So, I anticipate that this other stash-exception item will be done as soon as I can bear weaving in the hundred-plus yarn ends (I hated that project!!)

I've also taken one of the WIP tickers off the sidebar because I've decided that I'm not going to do that project with any of my stash yarns; I still want to make it but I need to give more consideration to my yarn choice (SWTC Bamboo is the top contender so far, but because I would have to buy all new yarn for it, this has become a potential reward project.) The yarn I bought for the Ingrid-- Silky Wool-- is currently under consideration for one of two knit cardigans, but I want to get the tickers down to a reasonable number before I start swatching.