Monday, February 25, 2008

Hello, mojo.

Whether it was the spinning wheel that sparked it, or my thyroid medication continuing to kick in, or the fact that the fruit trees here are starting to flower, SOMETHING turned the knitting mojo back on.

I started the sleeve of the Russian Prime. In that photo, the chest portion is on the left, and the sleeve has been picked up and is being knit down to the wrist, on the right. Remember when I said stranded knitting is square? (The row gauge and stitch gauge are the same.) Here's your proof. The sleeve stitches are picked up in pattern, and then you rotate the chart ninety degrees and off you go, knitting in another direction. This is an excellent way to hide the unflattering shoulder lines on most drop-shoulder sweaters. And it looks really freaking cool, if I do say so myself. Picking up the stitches in pattern isn't difficult, just a little tedious. It took me twenty minutes or so. Once you find your place in the pattern, it's plain old stranded stitch from there on out.

I also finished up the hibiscus dye job. Yes, it really did take a week; each skein did three or four days in the pot.

On the left is the skein that came out first; the colors look right on my monitor, it's a nice mauve. On the right is the one that came out second, a rather ordinary but okay brown color. Having discussed this with a chemistry-geek friend, we suspect one of two things happened: either the purple colorants in the flowers (anthocyanins) broke down to brown with all the heat, or else there really are two types of colorant in there, and the first dye job removed the purple (safflower does that - you can get yellow and pink dye out of it). We're leaning toward the heat destruction: it's exactly the same thing that happens when you overcook red cabbage and it turns that disgusting brown color. At least this brown is kind of nice.

Then, when I was plying the blue wool, I had a little left over on one bobbin (don't you HATE when that happens?) and I figured, what the hell, I'd give chain-plying another try. It went a lot better, now that I have a clue and started with a single that wasn't overspun. I still need more practice, but this is something you could actually use, unlike the last attempt.

At the moment, I feel terribly clever. But I'm attempting to dye some silk as I type, and I have a bad feeling that project will go south and put my ego back where it belongs.


Anonymous said...

yay, Russian Prime! It's gorgeous. I love the dyed yarns, too. You're on the move, lady!


Amy Lane said...

Between the Russian Prime and the hibiscus dye, I think, indeed, your mojo was back! (Hey--don't knock the plain brown... I saw a colorway from STR called 'Blech'--it looked like dye-barf leftover from all the other dyes. Apparently, it's one of their biggest sellers...)

Alacaeriel said...

Nicely done on the return of the mojo!

Roxie said...

The Russian Prime is stunning! Bravo! And hail the returning mojo!

I am at an age when my rods and cones are burning out, and subtle, muted colors just don't excite me anymore. I am probably a very few years away from orange and purple and chartreuse faire isles. Hooray for your foray into natural dyes and hooray, too, for those nice bright synthetics.

kerri said...

Had to delurk to say your Russian Prime is coming along beautifully. The pick-up for the sleeve looks great. Yay to the returning mojo! It must be that time of year. Keep up the awesome work!