Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More mermaid tail.

The transition from aqua to green needs to be longer... and there needs to be more blue. But all in all, not bad. The dark green is almost black, like spinach. I love it.


I'm taking photos for tomorrow's yarnfest and I SO want to keep this.

How stoopid am I?

Okay, it's been a couple negative posts in a row, but dammit, it's been a shitty couple days.

I was starting to feel better yesterday and HAD to get out and mail some yarn (I hadn't mailed it Monday and felt really, really bad because I feel if someone pays me for something I should get it in the mail at first opportunity, even if I'm so sick I can't stand up straight). So while I was out, I thought, hell, we're out (did I mention I had The Baby with me because the husbeast is working weird hours again?) I should run down to the mall book store and get the new JD Robb novel. (Amy. Slow, deep breaths.) And, well, it was hot. Not outside so much - around seventy. But in the Jeep with the sun pounding in, it was pretty damn warm. And the AC unit in the Jeep apparently needs recharged or whatever because it wasn't working.

So we drove around yesterday afternoon with the windows down. (Right this minute, the Baby got hold of the TV remote and reset the cable box, and is now rampaging about the living room, howling because her shows aren't on. I'm going to leave her to that.)

At the time, it was nice. Cool air in the windows, baby squealing with joy in the back seat. (She loves the wind in her hair.) Today? Not so much. She's got a return stuffy nose. And me? I've got a sore throat again and glands the size of golf balls.

And I can't imagine why I just spent eleventy thousand words typing all that, except as an extended whine. I DON'T FEEL GOOD. WAAAAAAAh.

In other new - real news - inspired by Trish's suggested name for the yarn yesterday, I'm trying to do "Mermaid Tail" justice and adding in some blue-green and green to the mix and make it more... mermaidy. How is it other people come up with lovely romantic names for colors and I get radioactive isotopes and 'Queasy Iguana'? I'm sure there's another potential ink-blot style test in there somewhere.

That's the heel flap of the new sock. The colors are accurate. I need to avoid white in the future, and work on getting more 'middle colors' between the dark and light. But I kinda like it.

Now The Baby's babbling at me because I'm not treating the lack of "The Upside Down Show" with proper respect.
Life's tough, kid.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Remember me saying, after I broke my hand and found out I'd be knitting for life as physical therapy, I decided to knit clothes? And my first proejct was EZ's Chainmail Sweater from Knitter's Almanac? Here it is.

Apparently the latest Baby/Cat plan for world dominion involves driving me insane as a first step (how long a drive is that?) The tag team action is, The Baby pushes everything off the back of the couch. Then Sekhmet comes along and nests in it.
If you look closely, you can see she passed up a perfectly nice blanket to lay on the crumpled handknit.

Rumor has it that the Spouse of a Beloved Reader wants to get a cat and name it You Fucker. When I told the husbeast, he laughed and laughed.

Mermaid tail.

Here's the experimental yarn I'm using. Just finished up the ugly socks and am casting on for the new. It was produced the same way as Raspberry Ripple, only using aqua dye instead of burgundy. I need a sock knit with it to put a picture up on Etsy so people have some idea how it knits up. It SHOULD be a gradual color gradiation from white to dark aqua and back, over about an inch. Here's hoping it works.

The last, dare we hope, on this subject.

The other day I had something of an epiphany on the subject of what sock yarn I was going to use for my shop. Why not carry both? (Yes. Glaringly obvious. I'm blaming it on being sick, never mind that I was worrying the problem long before I caught this bug.) So that's what I'm going to do. The dip dyes (Raspberry Ripple, Purple Trainwreck, Round Rainbow, and hopefully some more colors coming soon) are going to be done on the regular Peruvian wool because I can get more subtle color gradients. But I'll keep some superwash going for people with a prefrence for it. The superwash stuff will probably be horrendously bright. I'm going to try for some neon, next batch. You were warned.

It's shameful how long it took me to come to this realization.

Otherwise, a few skeins of yarn might get added to the shop late this month, because instead of winding and dyeing I've been laying around coughing and hitting myself in the face with toilet seats. But I hope to have another dip dye like Raspberry Ripple, only in blue (Blueberry Ripple?) added to the shop by the second or third of the month. If they get really popular I'll probably have to up the price a bit because they take three or four times longer to produce than the regularly dyed yarns. (Unwind to a longer skein, six to eight hours of dye time with the crock pot, then wash repeatedly, and wind into a shorter skein for mailing.) There are photos of the dip-dye process going up on Knitty soon for their spring issue. (I hope. I haven't heard from Amy, which is a good thing. But she prefers articles around two thousand words long and the one I sent was TEN THOUSAND. With about twenty-five photos.)

I'm halfway through the toe shaping on the second ugly sock, and hope to start the third sock tonight. I want to get IT done so I can post a photo of it to my shop - it's a dip-dyed yarn and that way people can see how they knit up. This one's in aqua (Moldy Cheese Ripple?) and I love it. Hope to hell there's enough for a pair of socks. So far, so good on getting four ankle socks out of one skein of 440 yards of sock yarn. I'll post the pattern as soon as I have socks to take pictures of.

Did any of that make any sense?

Pass the cold medicine.

Monday, February 26, 2007

How good was my weekend?

I've got a huge bruise between my eyes where I hit myself in the face with the toilet seat while throwing up. I complained about it to the husbeast last night. He said "Uh. Yeah. I wasn't going to mention it. Can you make sure people don't think I hit you?"


I'm feeling better, though. I don't have an elephant on my chest any more, more like a bear. Maybe by tomorrow I'll just have a cat on my chest, like normal.

Now I'll share the two HTML jokes from over at the Cat Site.

Gonna go lay down.

Oh, and I'm almost done with sock two. Looking good for two pairs of sport socks from one 440 yard skein of yarn. I'll post the pattern soon.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I feel so clever.

By distant association. All I did was drop some yarn in the mail.

Coffeelady has made some glorious socks out of the skein of Purple Trainwreck she bought! Link here.

Quick update.

Since I'm trying to spend the whole day in bed. Or at least horizontal (the couch works too). I was up all night coughing and throwing up, but I think I've turned the corner on this damn bug. For those of you worrying about pneumonia, I've had it before (more than once - fun times) and know what to look out for. (And in fact, am kind of worrying about it, myself.)

The good news is, while poking about yesterday, I got most of the dyed yarn skeined up and am nearly ready to go, posting my new yarns March 1. Coming up with names is becoming a game. My mother-in-law pointed out that the selling point of OPI nail polish is the silly name of each color, and was enthusiastic about my crazy names for my yarn. I've got one skein named "Radium" after the glow-in-the-dark radioactive goo they used to put on watch faces.

Sock yarn's on the left, lace weight is on the right. Radium is in the middle.

I got the Raspberry Ripple untangled last night (thanks again for that name):

Yesterday I think I broke my niddy-noddy. It gave a crack when I pulled a skein off it, and I gave it to the husbeast to look at. (He finds broken stuff for the Navy as a career.) He looked it over for a while and finally pronounced that he can't find any cracks but there's some tortional instability that wasn't there before. (I'm married to a man who uses terms like 'tortional instability'. And I know what he means. Which one of us should I be worried about?)

Two skeins left to wind. On top is "Death Warmed Over", which was supposed to look like a pond of lily pads but the dyes mixed wrong.

The one interesting thing about being sick is, the husbeast's been in charge of the baby. He's calling this hair style "Einsteinian".

I'm not sure how he managed it, but I'm pretty sure peanut butter was involved. Check out the glitter jammies. Very stylish.

Speaking of the baby, she's well again. Feels fine. Is into everything. Little shit.

I'm gonna go knit something. While laying down.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Get up to get a kleenex, and what happens?

Nothing but good times ahead.

Yesterday I did a pink/burgundy dip dye.

It's just possible I stirred the yarn too much (in an effort to get the color even). Here's a closeup of the carnage for those of you who haven't swooned yet.

...yeah. Winding that up on a niddy-noddy should be a good time. I'm pretty sure I didn't get all the dye out, either. (After literally ten rinses and three washes.) Screw it.

My mother used to get bronchitis a lot. When she did, she would say she felt like she had an elephant standing on her chest. I feel like there's an elephant standing on my chest. I now forgive the baby for whining this week. If she felt like this, it's no wonder. And now she's teething. Oh yes, good times.

The observant among you will notice I FINALLY put a button in the sidebar, linked to my etsy shop. In an act of shameless self-promotion, I put it at the top of the sidebar. You're all welcome to steal it, though I can't imagine why you'd want to. For those of you overseas, I have shipped yarn to Canada now, and it went well - letter rate and should be there in ten to fourteen days. (Catie, this means you. If you let me know when you get it, we can know for sure how well it went.) Thing is, internationally shipped yarn gets taken out of it's skein, put in a plastic bag, and squashed flat. Then the air's sucked out, the bag's sealed, and it's put in an envelope and shipped at letter rate (instead of parcel - cheaper and faster). So if you're overseas, that's how your yarn would arrive if you ordered it. And YES, the international shipping costs are correct over at Etsy. If it costs more, I'll pay out of pocket.

Just noticed that skein of yarn above dripped pink all over the bath mat. Bugger. Definitely didn't get all the dye out of it. DAMN.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go doze on the couch to the lyric strains of the Wonder Pets. (I fucking hate the Wonder Pets.)

Friday, February 23, 2007


I am vindicated!

The Clovis peoples were not the first to inhabit North America and that 13K years ago figure is bullshit. Which I've said since I first heard that 'ice corridor' migration theory in eighth grade.


Article here.

I'm going to gloat now. For quite some time. (For those of you not up on your N American history - and if you don't live here, who can blame you?- the standard theory on the colonization for N America is that people came from Asia to Alaska on foot across a land bridge in the Bearing Strait that existed during the low sea levels of the last ice age. Then they walked through an 'ice corridor' in the glacier that covered Canada - an ice corridor there's NEVER been any evidence for and goes against everything I ever learned in geology - and then slooowly settled N and S America, starting 13K years ago. Bullshit. Utter bullshit. They used boats and came along the coasts from Asia much earlier, and I will bet big bucks that there were other waves of colonization from other places, including Europe, Polynesia, and Africa. The Polynesian has been proven by DNA and the European by linguistics.)

In reply to the baby/germ relationship, what happens is, the Baby picks things up because she doesn't have much of an immune system yet. Then she brings them home and coughs snot in my face. I don't care WHAT scientists say, fighting off the occasional germ at the grocery store is far different than having ten billion of them coughed into my eyes. So then I get sick.

And I keep forgetting to mention, I KILLED THE FUCKING ROACH! The little bastard that lived under the toaster? He's dead now. I got up at three AM the other night for a drink, and who was at the sink ahead of me but Mr. Roach, sipping away. I reached under the sink for something toxic, came up with Drano, and poured it over him. Instant dead roach. It worked so well I wish I could do it on carpeting.

Lung snot.

That's mostly what I'm dealing with today. (Plus the usual brain snot.) The Baby and I are both sick. She's whining a lot and I'm wishing I could (okay, okay, I'm whining too). We've got that lovely situation going where she's sick and wants to cling, and I'm sick and want left the hell alone. Someone's not going to be happy no matter how we do it. Ah, the joys of parenting.

Otherwise, we've got more yarn I want to keep:

Almost overflowed the crock-pot on this one. It's laceweight, and while it's not Purple Trainwreck, it uses the same dyes with a different method. So there's more pastel and white in the yarn, but it still contains a good many shades of puprle.

Next up, a burgundy dip-dye.

We'll see how that goes. I'm thinking a blue dip-dye tomorrow with my one remaining skein of sock yarn.

I've been fiendishly working on the second ugly sock. I finished the ribbing and did the heel flap last night (while watching a series of forensic shows on TV - very cheerful) and turned the heel this morning (from memory because I loaned Knitting Rules! to my mother-in-law). Of course I should be working on the Knitty Project since there's a freaking DEADLINE and I haven't touched it in a week - at least chart the color portion, for crying out loud.

And then there's the steeked jacket. Uh, anyone on their second sleeve yet? Do I need to hurry?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Um... stuff.

Rae has asked me to post a photo of the Happy Spider yarn from yesterday in my hand, for scale. So here we go.

This is lace weight yarn. So the skein's actually smaller than one for 440 yards of sock yarn. To try communicating how fine this yarn is, I stuck a penny in there with two strands over it:

I'll probably use size two needles (3mm) to knit it up, though I'm leaning toward using my size ones (2.5mm). It's extremely even yarn and I am highly impressed with the skill it took to make this.

I've been reading up on lace knitting (what with all the new books in the house) and I read in my Shetland lace book ("Heirloom Knitting", reviewed a week or so ago) that master spinners in the Shetland Islands could produce 9000 yards of laceweight single ply from one ounce of wool. Yes, you read that right: NINE THOUSAND YARDS from ONE OUNCE. Lately they are lamenting that the skill is being lost because the youngsters don't have the patience to practice spinning enough to manage that (you THINK?) Personally, I'm doubtful that there were ever a LOT of people able to do that. I don't care how fine Shetland lace wool was supposed to be. That's crazy.

Anyway, I love my Happy Spider yarn and intend to make something impressive for the State Fair with it.

Thank you all for pointing out the baby shape of last night's yarn skein post - I'd just wrinkled it around on the floor so it would all fit in the camera frame. Maybe we should do yarn-related ink blot tests. Or develop some kind of divination system where you fling yarn on the floor and see the future in the pattern that develops.

I finished my sock last night by grafting the toe together. I've never minded grafting - see it rather as a party trick. And since I'm the lunatic who wears machine-made socks inside out because of the toe seams, I figured it was the best way to go. I just wondered if anyone had ever done the three needle bindoff and how it wore. I wonder if it creates holes in the long run, since it's so stiff and unstretchy. (And yes, I love three-needle bindoff for shoulders. I use it all the time, precisely because it's unstretchy.)

Otherwise, I started on Sock Two and am trying to motivate myself to finish the Knitty Project by the deadline (March 15). Plus I need to go to Florida sometime soon. It'll be interesting.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hee hee hee.

Lookit what I just dyed.

Riches. With photos.

Today we are discussing the yarny loot that Bells sent me along with the baby tee shirt and kangaroo shown yesterday. (This morning while The Baby was playing I fell asleep - damn medication - and woke up to find a kangaroo propped against me.) I love it all. Love love love. (The husbeast came home while I was unpacking the box yesterday, pulling out these almost-basketball sized balls of yarn and hooting with glee, and he said "What did you order now?" and I said "Nothing, Bells sent me this." and he said "Oh, great, now you're getting FREE yarn. We'll be buried." or something to that effect.)

So the balls of yarn? Bendego Woolen Mills yarn in "Colonial" pure new Australian wool. (There's no web site to link you guys to. Aussie readers, nag them about that.)

As always the colors aren't coming out quite right (and I took the damn picture in daylight, too). What looks like red there is actually a bright magenta. And the greyish is a beautiful heathered lavender. Bells mentioned I might want to dye the beige and she's right - I do. I look at this and think socks. I've already got a pattern picked out for the lavender, from the book I reviewed yesterday. Don't let the size of those yarn balls decieve you. Each one is 400m/437 yards. (Neat yardage/meterage calculator here.)

Then there is what she calls the historic yarn of Australia:
"Tomten" from Paton's. I've never used this particular species before, but I've loved the Paton's yarns I've worked with. I'm thinking a striped jumper for The Baby next winter. (When you knit with Australian wool, it's a jumper, not a sweater.)

Then there's the best part.

Hand spun, hand dyed lace weight wool from the Happy Spider. It's 1200m/1310yards - hello, a shawl for me. Memememe. I'm keeping this one all to myself. It's living on my desk where I can pat it and hug it and call it George until I find the time to knit it up.

Bells also send some shade cards from Bendigo and some Australian goodies - Tim Tams and Violet Crumble. Both are yummy... could someone explain the "Violet" part of the Violet Crumble name? I'm not getting it.

Thanks again, Bells!

In other news, when I finish this post I'll be adding another yarn to my shop. (Which needs a link from here... I need to get off my ass and do that.) I found this down behind the book case while I was cleaning up my office the other day:

One last skein of the Peruvian sock wool, color scheme 'water'.

Oh, and I finished the sock!

Well, all except for grafting the toe. Anyone ever tried a three-needle bindoff? Anyone? Thoughts?

It also looks like I need to work a little harder at that whole random dye thing.

I used the 'anatomically correct toe shaping' on page five of "Socks for Clogs and Sandals" by Anna Zilboorg (yesterday's book review) where you start shaping on the outside of the foot about an inch before you start on the inside. It worked well and I really like the fit. (Of course then you have a right and left sock, but I can handle that.)

I think I dislocated my hip taking that photo. Anyway, the heel feels fine too, now that the rest of the sock is done and it's all fitting properly. And we're looking good on yardage for another sock. (If I run two rows short I'll be pissed.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Baby!

And happy Mumum. Bells and I had arranged a swap, months back... we spent the holidays hoarding up goodies and finally mailed them out. My box came in the mail today. Among other things (which I will show photos of tomorrow), there was a tee shirt and a little kangaroo for The Baby.

Here she is, smiling over her good fortune. Sorry about that camera strap in the photo... it was like a runway photo shoot with her crawling around and me backing away, snapping photos.

And here she is doing one of those happy baby shrieks over her kangaroo. (Actually she's doing the "Alas, Horatio" soliloquy from Hamlet, but I know you don't believe me.)

Thanks, Bells!

Hey, look! Knitting!

It's The Ugly Sock. Knit on 72 stitches at 8.5 stitches to the inch with size one needles and my Peruvian-not-superwash yarn. The color scheme, in case you don't remember, was done by pouring the day's leftover dyes all over it. There's a bit of pooling, mostly blue-green colors on the sole of the foot. The length doesn't go up much underneath the cuff of my jeans - it's a sport sock. I did an inch or so of ribbing and a few plain rounds and then started the heel flap. I find that the heel is a bit baggy, but I guess I'm not surprised when I think about it; I had really narrow feet before that previously mentioned Hawaiian Foot Spread set in. Heels probably don't spread much, regardless of what happens to the rest of the foot, or even weight gain. Otherwise it's quite comfy and I suspect I will become quickly addicted to hand-knit socks. I sure hope I can produce enough by next winter.

It appears there may be enough yarn in one of these skeins to get four average-sized women's sport socks out of it. I'll report on that for sure once I finish them all. (I divided the skein in half and did a dip-dye in aqua on the other half.)

The Baby has figured out that if she climbs on the dining room chairs, she can reach EVERYTHING on the kitchen table. Especially the scissors, which she seems to be fascinated by.

That's last weekend's Daytona 500 race on, in the background. Is it just me, or should anyone crossing the finish line upside down and on fire get style points added for the season?

Let's have a book review, shall we?

"Socks for Sandals and Clogs" by Anna Zilboorg. This was one of my 'what the heck' purchases from Schoolhouse Press while buying the lace books already reviews. (The pink sock on the left side of the cover made me go 'ooh'.) I figured since I wear Birkenstocks or clogs nearly all the time I'd probably find something I liked in it, not to mention I've loved anything I've ever seen by Anna Zilboorg. It's a good book, spiral-bound for easy knitting-and-pattern-reading. There are toe-up and top-down patterns and a variety of different styles - cables, color patterns, twisted stitch patterns. There's also a re-footable sock, like the one EZ developed years ago (but different), where you can strip off a sole with holes in it and knit on a new one. (The EZ version is available in "Knitter's Almanac".) At $19 USD, it comes out to about $1.35 per pattern (there are fourteen patterns) so I'd say it's worth the money.

A polite reminder to anyone who ordered anything over the weekend (not just from me); yesterday was a federal holiday so everything goes in the mail today. Won't the post-office be fun?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Odds and ends.

Some thoughts, a review, some links... much like any other blog post, now that I think on it. Anyway.

First, the sock yarn problems. The first yarn I got was 100% untreated (not superwash) Peruvian mystery wool. I'm knitting a sock with it now (The Ugly Sock) and it doesn't seem too bad, but it's rather rough and tough and scratchy. The new yarn is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon and is nice and springy and soft and doesn't take up dye worth shit (and costs twice as much as the plain wool sock yarn). My real problem, I think, is that I've not worked with enough sock yarn to really judge if it's good or not. The only other 'sock' yarn I've ever had my hands on was Koigu and that's not really sock yarn. So if anyone who has ordered the Peruvian sock yarn from me (the other isn't dyed or available yet) would like to give me your thoughts when you get it, I'd really appreciate it. Don't be afraid to tell me it sucks. I kind of think it myself, so you'd only be confirming my suspicions. I want to know - I don't want to sell something people think is crap.

The Peruvian stuff currently on sale is priced the way it is partly because I don't like it (the yarn, not the dye jobs), and partly to give you guys a chance at some discount yarn before mention of my etsy shop goes up on Knitty in March.

So, anyway. If ANYONE has thoughts on sock yarn and what makes it good or bad, leave a comment. I'd appreciate it.

Meanwhile, I'm reading a book. (Gee. That never happens.)

"A History of the World in Six Glasses" by Tom Standage. The 'six glasses' in question are beer, wine, spirits/booze, tea, coffee, and Coke. The eras are Ancient, Classical, Enlightenment, Colonial, Late Colonial, and Modern. It's a different slant on world history and quite interesting. Right now I'm in the spirits chapter learning how rum fueled the slave trade. It's a fun book if you like your history with a different viewpoint. Not much humor - it's a straightforward style. But good anyway.

Let's see, I was gonna drop some links... Oh.

I Can Has Cheeseburger? Is a blog that is nothing but cat photos with captions. Sometimes they're hilarious. Sometimes they're stupid. But if you like cats, it's still cute, so it's all good. Here's a taste:

Much of the writing, such as it is, is in what I think of as "Blackberryese" - 'Dood, wut R U doin?' But as I said. Cute cat photos.

And Vintage Textile has updated and has new loot, for those of you who can afford $2000 shawls and collector clothing you'll never wear. For the rest of us it serves as fantastic inspiration for knitting ideas. Try not to drool into your keyboard.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fine, the Baby.

A while back, the Husbeast found this toy in the store and bought it. It's a Leapfrog thingie that works like an educational video game for small children. ("To hear a story, push the button." Eventually it moves on to 'for X to happen, push a yellow button'.) Here they are, figuring out how it works:

Eventually she got bored with it (we thought), and we put it away and she proceeded to crawl around the house raising hell and whining until we figured out she wanted it back:

Of course I have a child who pushes the BIG ROUND RED BUTTON as much as possible. Eventually she'll nuke China. I'll be so proud. And we taught her how.

And here is a picture of Grandma taking a picture of the cuteness.

So there you go. What's happening with The Baby.

In between rounds of Civ 4, I have done some knitting (still on the Knitty Project - no photos yet, but I'm at the 'oh hell, I hope this thing turns out like I planned' stage) and dyed three skeins of yarn.

This superwash yarn SUCKS. Anybody know any sources of nice sock yarn that's affordable? Because I hate working with the stuff I've got now. I'm wondering if I can find a wool mill here in the US that will sell me yarn a mile at a time. (I've lost my mind. Gotta be dye fumes.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007


This post is coming to you from my NEW LAPTOP on the DINING ROOM TABLE!! Eeeee!

The in-laws got in last night (bringing the laptop, among other things). We all had snacks and wine and a nice chat before staggering off to bed.

This morning I have played with my new toy (the husbeast dominated it last night - I should complain but he was doing Windows updates and other maintenance stuff) and it turns out my lovely new computer plays CIVILIZATION FOUR!! EEEeeee!

Okay, so I'm happy.

Only problem is, the little bumps on the F and J keys are so small I can't feel them and have to watch my fingers when I type. (Yes, I'm a touch typist from way back.) I keep losing my home row and typing tjomgs ;ole tjos/. I'm thinking I can glue some beads to the keys, or something. (I've done it before.)

Anyway. Um, news.

I sold yarn yesterday, which made me happy as all hell for many reasons, not the least of which being, I'm not going to be buried in yarn for the rest of my life. There were some questions, and I'll answer them here, too...

First was whether or not the yarns were machine washable. Right now, no, none of the yarns for sale are machine washable (they're colorfast enough, though, for hand washing). HOWEVER, starting in March I'll be offering superwash sock yarn. If I get a lot of requests for superwash, I'll start dyeing more of it, but right now I only plan to carry sock yarn in superwash. Let me know if you want something different.

Secondly, there was a question about whether I'd carry certain color schemes all the time. Probably not. I'll try to keep some Purple Trainwreck in stock, and any other colors that seem particularly popular, but for the most part, these are going to be one-of-a-kind skeins of yarn. (On the other hand, if you want two thousand yards of worsted for a sweater, let me know and we'll work out a deal.) BUT, even if the yarns are the same 'dye lot', because of how I color these, they'll never be the same. Just so you know.

I think that's all the excitement fit to print today. Tomorrow we might have another book review.

Friday, February 16, 2007


That's done. I think I've got it figured out... now I need to find someone willing to draw me a sheep waving a sword for a logo. (Anyone?) But in any case,


I posted all my 100% wool sock yarn at bargain prices so you guys can have first shot. Have at it.


Thanks for all the encouragement, everyone.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Did anybody know that ultrawash wool and regular wool take up dye differently? Or maybe nylon content causes it? (But I'm thinking the 'superwashing' process that renders them unfeltable probably opens them up chemically and is the cause of Massive Dye Suckup. Like an extreme version of what you do to the fiber when you add vinegar for dyeing.)Don't believe me? Look at this:

On the left, 100% merino wool. On the right, the new sock yarn, 25% nylon and 75% superwash wool. The dye was the same. I mean, not just the same chemical, I mean the same exact concentration, both from the same dispenser, all mixed at the same time. I was going to call the yarn on the right Martian Sunset, but I'm tempted to call it "FUCK." because that's what I said when I first poured the dye on and saw it go thermonuclear.

Creating pastels should be really interesting. Ha. On the other hand, the dye hits so fast it may not have time to 'break', making my life easier. Even if you guys won't have the same quality Purple Trainwreck.

Seriously, though, I'm much happier with this second batch of sock yarn and am glad to put my name on it, unlike the last stuff (100% Peruvian mystery sheep, and kind of stringy and splitty). It's just rendered all my dye experimentation of the last two months completely useless. More freaky color combos on the horizon.

I tried some Purple Trainwreck today with the superwash stuff. It really IS a trainwreck. Eesh.

Bells asked about the light box I'm using, and I'm sort of ashamed to post a picture of it, but here it is.

I left it set up for the shot I took above, so you can really see how rickety it is. (That's one of The Baby's ABC books, wedged between the couch cushions, holding it at the proper angle.) It's a cardboard box with three sides cut out and white tissue paper taped over the holes (to diffuse light), and a piece of white posterboard curved around to make a back and floor without a crease, so that there's no real horizon line.

Lighting on the cheap is discussed in great deatil over at Strobist, which is where I got the plans for this little gem. Cheap, and it works. If the cat trashes it, I'll build another. For yarn photos, a good shot depends 90% on lighting. At least. Maybe 95%. I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of it.

Anyway. I dyed six skeins of yarn today and have yet to finish the shovel-out on the office.

Maybe I'll go knit something.

It all seems like work.

I dyed five skeins of yarn this morning in a burst of energy, and have a sixth stewing in the crock pot. I want to get March's yarns dyed before I head to Florida for a few days at the end of the month. This whole deadline thing is starting to make it seem like a job.

And lo and behold, I learn the hard way this morning that superwash yarn takes up dye in completely different ways than the cheapass peruvian wool sock yarn did, so now I've got this neon stuff I swear I'm going to call Martian Sunset and Electric Spring. And with the new uptake, the first round of Purple Trainwreck really is a train wreck.

Oh, well. It's yarn.

Otherwise, I'm still shoveling out my office and trying to get my act together. Tomorrow the in-laws arrive so I'd like to have the house looking okay by tonight. Though it's probably a pipe dream.

Boy, isn't my life exciting.

Still knitting on the Knitty Project.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yarn porn. Again.

I just got done building this light box thingie in which to photograph my yarn, as to show it off best when I try to sell it. So now I'm left wondering what these pictures look like when they're posted on the 'net and you get to be my victims.

Look! A 440 yard skein of Purple Trainwreck!

And there! A closeup of the orange/pink laceweight I want to keep!

And the Deadhead Mistake!

Ugh. They need cropped. Badly.

If I get moving on the labels, I may have this lot posted to Esty by tomorrow night. Definitely by the end of the weekend. After this, I'll be posting whatever I've got dyed at the beginning of each month.

Now I'm off to soak a bunch of lace weight and reel some sock yarn for more Purple Trainwrek.


The in-laws are coming! The in-laws are coming!

The problem is not their visit. I like them and enjoy them. The problem is this:
That's my office. See the futon buried under books and other stuff? That's where they're supposed to sleep. Possibly as early as tomorrow night. I've mostly shoveled out the living room (the coffee table is visible now) but the dining room needs help (the table there has become where we put anything we don't want The Baby to get to), the kitchen is it's usual disaster, and of course, the office. (Though I did get a cork board put up; that's my State Fair ribbon hanging off it.) And just to make us look totally low class, there's a cockroach living under the toaster that leaps out at odd moments. I haven't been able to kill the little bastard yet, because he's fast and I don't want to splatter roach guts all over my counter. The perfect touch for house guests.

My desk is a mess, too. Sigh. All you folks who think I'm organized should feel better now.

The Baby is walking, after a fashion:

Mostly she thinks it's a game to play with the grownups. Still no walking unassisted. We try to get her to walk between us, and she drops to her knees, crawls over, and stans back up again. Urgh. Our theory is, she wants to be carried because she likes to be held.

Time to go back to shoveling.

Oh, and happy Valentine's Day, to those who celebrate it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Blah blah, blather blather.

I'm going to review the two lace books that made my head explode yesterday, but I'll do it at the end and try not to rattle on for hours. I'm afraid my book reviews go on way too long. So, other news first.

You'll notice (I hope) that I added a bunch more blog links to the sidebar. I got through the S's last night and will hopefully finish out the alphabet soon. (Then I get to go through and double-check. Joy.) If you're into that kind of thing, there's plenty there to click on. I left out links to anyone whose blog has not been updated since 2006, but otherwise, if you're missing from the list and want to be put up there, drop me a line.

The Baby does indeed seem to be working on the Art of the Tantrum. Unfortunately for her it never seems to work out the way she wants it to; she either gets ignored or chucked into her crib. I'm working hard to remain calm and be the sensible adult (since when did I wind up the sensible adult? What in hell kind of universe is this when I wind up in charge of another human being??!!?? Ahem). It's still not on a major scale, though; just whining. It's more annoying than anything and we're trying to nip it in the bud before it gets full blown.

Felted bags always look like they're the size of suitcases before they're shrunk. Just an observation.

Oh, and I've now got four projects on the needles (steeked jacket, ugly sock, stash blankie, and Knitty Project) and I need to FINISH SOMETHING. Anything.

All rightie, reviews.

"Victorian Lace Today" by Jane Sowerby.

I see why people are ga-ga over the book. Just the right amount of history, a boatload of patterns, and a good bit of how-to information in the back. It's a nice book, and if you wanna knit scarves and wraps and shawls, this book would keep you busy for a while. Pattern tally: Eleven scarves (fancy edgings with easy middles - great starter projects), six triangular shawls, FIFTEEN rectangular wraps of varying sizes - some quite large, one circular shawl, one hexagonal shawl with the option of making it a half-hex, one half-round shawl, a round capelet, and two 'fichus', both with really interesting construction. I'm thinking I need to make the 'knitted veil' on page 68 for my state fair entry this year.

The difficulty levels listed in the book don't make much sense to me - some things are listed intermediate that should be either easy or experienced. And after a while, all those rectangles start looking the same.

The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the stuff in the back. Unlike most XRX books, they keep the how-to section mercifully short and don't insult anyone with how to knit lessons but stick (mostly) to specialized increases, decreases, cast-ons and the like that are unique to lace knitting. Then there is the buried treasure. "Understanding Lace and Charts", and "Knitted on Border" both of which spell out all the information you need to construct one of these projects instead of assuming you know it. And THEN there is the design section. "Understanding lace design", "How to make your own wide border", "Planning a shawl". The book is worth the money for this stuff alone.

With "Knitting Lace" by Lewis out of print, this is the most coherent discussion on how lace works and how to make it work for you that is available on the market. If you're interested in lace knitting, at the least, check the book out of the library and read the stuff in the back. It's really, really good.

In fact, I wish they'd dumped the ten page "Colophon" in the back, where XRX shows a bunch of fancy photography and gloats about how much they love the book, and use that space to discuss more in the way of how lace works and what to do with it. But at any rate, it's definitely worth what I thougth was a rather high price tag.

I'll try to keep this next review short, but here it is:

"Heirloom Knitting" by Sharon Miller.

As she put it in the intro, "This is the book I wanted when I first started knitting Shetland lace." And that's what it is. Entirely devoted to Shetland lace, it covers materials, history, construction methods, and blocking. There are approximately 190 pages of traditional Shetland lace motifs, like a Barbara Walker Treasury. They vary from an inch square to several feet wide. The rest of the book is devoted to how to plan and execute shawls, with a good bit of beginner stuff on reading charts and fixing mistakes and unraveling, and a few pithy patterns in the back.

Even with the explanation chapters, I'm not sure this is a beginner book, if only because it's totally overwhelming. (I've been knitting lace for twenty years and my brain melted about halfway through.) Also, it's extremely specific - Shetland traditional lace only - and kinda pricey. If you're a beginner, this book may be too much. But if you've knit a little lace and are really on fire for information and detail, this is the book for you.

My brain is melting again.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Aaah! Brain overload!

My ten pounds of books came today. I haven't knit a single stitch and instead have been holed up reading "Victorian Lace Today" and "Heirloom Knitting" (the second being a vast tome about Shetland lace knitting... if I ever want to produce a wedding-ring shawl, I've got the refrence material to do it now). Both are available for purchase or fantasy purposes at Schoolhouse Press.

For some reason, I can't knit and read about knitting at the same time. Particularly complex knitting like lace.

Anyway, I also got some books on Faroe color patterns, socks for clogs, and more lace. ("Creating Original Handknitted Lace" is on back order - good thing, or my brain would have exploded around four PM.) Tomorrow I'll at least do some mini-reviews on some of the smaller books.

Whose idiotic idea was it to knit lace with Doucer et Soie? Hmm? Plain silk isn't good enough? And what the hell ever happened to cotton? And what is UP with doing it on size eight needles? (Do not remind me of the Christmas scarves knit on size tens. I was not claiming it was traditional lace.)

And a note to the folks at Blogger: Do you suppose you dipshits could get your act together enough that I wouldn't have to log on to the bloody web site every time I type in the URL? I've got all my cookies enabled, so the problem is on YOUR END. This is particularly annoying because YOU MADE ME SWITCH TO NEW BLOGGER WHEN THE OLD ONE WAS WORKING JUST FINE. And now my log-on is longer. Fuckers.

Tag, you're it.

This isn't a meme, exactly. More like a request for information. Since "Where I Knit" went so well, I thought I'd try this again. And like last time, if you take part, drop me a link so I'm sure to see it, and if I don't leave a comment, that means I haven't been there yet. Give me a kick and send me another link.

Today's topic? Where and when I learned to knit, and how, and what I did then.

My first memory of noticing knitting is from grade school (under age ten public school). I was riding the bus from school to home (don't ask me how I remember it was afternoon and not morning, but I do), and the girl in front of me was wearing a jacket or cardigan knit at a rather large gauge. I think it was a Cowichan knock-off, but I wouldn't swear to it. (Cowichan knitting is the only traditional knitting from N America, produced by native Americans in the Pacific NW.) At any rate, I remember looking at it and thinking "That looks like loops pulled through loops." and wanting to know exactly how to do it.

Wanting to know how (and why) is sort of the defining urge of my life. (In case you guys hadn't noticed, with the suggested reading lists.) That desire to learn to knit stuck with me, even though no one in my family knew how to knit, and ten million crochet lessons from my grandmother failed to stick in my head and I produced nothing but a mile-long chain.

During my last year of high school and my first year of college (1987-1989ish) I was dating a guy whose family sprang from Mennonite farmers. (We're still friends... Hi, Twa, if you're reading.) One evening I mentioned my desire to knit, and he said, "Shoot, my mother can teach you that." (Or something to that effect.) So one evening his mother sat me down and showed me a knitted cast-on, knit stitches, and purl stitches. It took about half an hour. (As I recall, after that we all fought over the mac and cheese leftovers, but that might have been another evening.)

That's it for my formal knitting education.

After that, I checked out every book in the library on the subject (this being Amish farm country, we had quite a few knitting books in the local library -- particularly for the size of the library). I discovered Barbara Walker's treasuries and spent about six months knitting squares of every pattern that looked interesting, with acrylic yarn from the Woolworth's and some aluminum knitting needles. I'd knit a square and throw it away. They weren't good for anything (because I, as a novice dumbass, didn't think of SEWING THEM TOGETHER).

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I moved to Columbus and the local library there was both huge and welcoming. And I found charted doily patterns (Marianne Kinzel's books). I bought a ton of crochet cotton and some size 2/3mm needles at the local knit shop, and proceeded to knit lace. That was in 1990.

I knit lace.

Then I knit some lace.

In 1998, I broke my hand. In 2000, after two surgeries, my physical therapist agreed that knitting would be good for me, so I started knitting again after two years off. That year I knit fourteen doilies (some of them two feet across) all on my trusty size twos, blocked them, and mailed them out instead of Christmas cards. It's still rather strange to walk into the house of one of my parent's friends and see one of my doilies.

Around 2001, I was finally getting bored with the lace knitting, and decided if I was going to knit as physical therapy forever, the least I could do was start producing clothing. So I bought some Brown Sheep Sport and knit Elizabeth Zimmerman's Chainmail Sweater from "Knitter's Almanac".

Since I'd begun my career, so to speak, reading EZ, I was rather lax about the idea of patterns, and finally quit following them altogether and did my own designs.

And here we are.

What about you?

EDITED TO ADD: For those curious about the hand problem/knitting relationship. I've always been very careful to avoid hand problems while knitting - if I noticed holding my hands a certain way made them hurt, I would adjust my technique until it didn't. It was the broken bones (between two and twenty; the doctors and I disagree on what constitutes 'broken') and the additional nerve damage that created the problem. However, these days if I overdo the knitting, it agravates my injuries and I have to take a couple days off. (Mostly my problem is muscle strain - they spasam and my fingers twitch uncontrollably.) The knitting DOES help as physical therapy, even now; when I was pregnant, I was off all my pain medication and couldn't concentrate well enough to knit. By the end of the year, my hand was weak and I'd lost a great deal of fine motor coordination (to the point I got sent off to the hand specialist by a worried GP). Once I started knitting again, I regained most of my fine motor control within about six months. I had to build up to long days of knitting, just like working out; at first I could only knit for about fifteen minutes before the muscles would spasm. Now I can go about two hours.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Review and a Q.

First, the review.

"Color Works" by Deb Menz. It's a color theory book geared toward crafters. The crafts in question (with examples - it would apply to anything, of course) are spinning, knitting, weaving, embroidery, beading, 'surface design' (fabric painting), machine embroidery, pieced quilting, and paper collage. For each point discussed, there is an example for each of these nine crafts. There are over forty pages of examples, most of them with nine small swatches representing each craft and the area of color theory it's showing. In that respect, this book is impressive as hell. One of my major pet peeves is books discussing color theory with no pictures; I'm perfectly happy with this book. In addition to the example swatches, there are loads of color charts, graphs, and wheels in the text itself. If she talks about a value range, then by golly there's a picture of what she's talking about.

Otherwise, this book is pretty basic. If you've already studied color theory in school, or read a couple books on the subject, this one contains nothing new (other than the impressive array of craft swatches). But if you're any kind of crafter and have never studied color theory, then I think this would be the ideal book. You know, one of those "If you only buy one book on this subject..." situations.

In addition, the book comes with color wheels, value finders, a host of other little tools, and a handy pocket in the back cover to tuck them all into. Very clever. And it's spiral-bound, which is nice. These two things, plus the massive amount of color printing, would account for the cost. In fact, now that I've seen the book, how it's bound and printed, I'm amazed it's as inexpensive as it is. I'd have put the price at least 10$ higher if I were guessing what it cost.

If you read my last Knitty article, there is more detail on the stick-it-in-a-copier trick that I discuss. It goes into a lot more detail on value, how it works, and better, how to make it work the way you want it to. (And incidentally, I KNOW nothing about my article was original, thank you. The point was to teach it to people who've never studied color theory. So you can quit complaining, if you have been. You know who you are.)

Ahem. Anyway. If you've been looking for a book on color theory, don't paint and don't intend to start, and don't know what to buy, buy this book. However, much though I hate color theory books geared toward painters, I have to admit that since I started dyeing yarn, what I learned about mixing paint has come in handy. If you're looking for something to help with dyeing, maybe this book and "Color" by Betty Edwards. Just sayin'.

Now the question. I'm working on the Knitty Project. It will have intarsia shapes knit in. Does anyone have a particular suggestion for the shape chosen? Is there a certain popular shape? I'm leaning toward diamonds because they're easy to knit and kind of interlock, but I feel like I should do circles 'cause they're The Baby's favorite shape. (If you put a bunch of different toys in front of her, she goes for the circles, balls, and cylinders, every time. She also likes yellow.)

And a Toblerone Rose answer to a question: Swapna wanted to know what, exactly, it was. It's two Toblerone bars (in their original packaging, no less) with an outer cardboard wrap with a rose printed on it. Nothing fancy, just silly. Here in the US we're gearing up for Valentine's Day on February 14th, where sweethearts give each other gifts, usually candy and flowers.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Stuff. With photos.

I was finishing reeling up the next-to-last skein of dyed yarn I've got here, when the husbeast walked in carrying a pile of boxes. One of the boxes contained more yarn to dye (including another three miles of sock yarn, bringing the total amount of sock yarn in my house to over SIX MILES.)

Fortunately I've started getting organized:

But I still need to design labels, print them out, attatch them to over twelve skeins of yarn, and take good-quality photos of them to post. (Yeah, that won't take any time at all.)

In the other box was the yarn I need to do the Knitty Project, and a couple shade cards (including one for Sonata, which is probably going to be a design to sell by fall).

Nice colors, but there's no orangey-red similar to carnelian. Hm. There's also a card for "Uros Aran" the half-llama yarn I made the Cookie Monster bowl with. I'm thinking felted stuffed animals.

While I was trying to figure out where to put all the yarn (I am SO not showing you a photo of my office right now, nope, no-how, no way), the husbeast wandered in again with a Valentine's Day gift. Namely, a Toblerone rose.

I put my hand in the photo for scale. This is what I get for a decade's worth of severed sexual organ jokes when he brings me flowers. He also brought me a heart full of chocolates. There's no 'map' telling us what's what. He's calling it "Chocolate Roulette". I've discovered a quick and easy way to get rid of coconut cremes.

I feed them to The Baby.