Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dyeing Day #2

It looks like summer weather is promising to take hold and stay around awhile. This is good dyeing weather for early birds like me. Yesterday morning I got the itch to “dye”.

I love working in my patio in the morning. The birds are chirping. The long shadows shade my patio, yet it provides plenty of sun to see the vibrant colors of the dyes. The hot sun is on the other side of the house so the patio is cool like a refreshing drink of lemonade.

This morning I dyed more merino wool roving. The last dyeing project with Procion MX dyes did not come out as deep in color as the cotton and superwash wool. I’m thinking my mistake may have been presoaking to wet the fiber overnight in cold water rather than warm water. Warm water opens up the cuticle of the wool allowing for better penetration.

This time I decided to dye with Createx liquid dyes. I have worked with these dyes before and know they give wonderful color but require a heat set. This time I soaked just before dyeing in warm water, mixed the stock dyes and dilutent with warm water to hand paint the roving. I loved how it turned out.

I tried to use up the remainder solution rainbow dyeing skeins of Romney handspun yarn. I wrapped the roving and skeins in plastic wrap and heat set them in the microwave, which was faster than simmering it for an hour. All too soon, my time ran out and I put my supplies away and hung out the dyed yarn to dry.

Later that day, I was wondering what to do with the left over solution, which had lots of color left. I decided to experiment. I reactivated the fixative by adding more citric acid and vinegar to the dye solution and added some water. The colors I had to work with were fuchsia, yellow, blue, brown and something that was labeled orange but turned out to be a Bordeaux color left over.

In the afternoon we get an afternoon breeze in our patio so it was not good conditions to dye there. I tried painting some more roving but made a big mess, with the breeze blow everything around. I gathered up all my supplies and continued in the kitchen. I again heat set in the microwave the roving to set it, rinsed gently and set aside to dry.

By this time I was ready to finish but did not have the heart to throw out all the remaining dye. I started a pot of water, poured the remaining Bordeaux, blue, and brown into it and threw in some skeins of handspun Jacob and rougher wools that I could make into rugs. At first I thought it was going to end up a muddy grey color, but after rinsing resulted in a Dark teal to midnight blue color. I started another pot and mixed the fuchsia, yellow and a little brown and ended up with watermelon dyed skeins.
By the end of the day I was very happy with the results. “It was a good day to “dye”. ;)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A noble wife

From the time I was a teen, which was a while ago, I always admired the passage from Proverbs below and have tried to live with it in mind. It is something we women should strive for in character and works. How interesting that working with wool, spinning, sewing, weaving and making things for the needy are an important part of this “Woman’s Work”. My thoughts are in italics.

A wife of noble character, who can find?

She is worth far more than rubies. (We always knew we were not worthless)

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (I hope our husbands appreciate this).

She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. (Learning to judge a good fleece and good quality flax? Wool, yes! Flax, still learning about this)

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. ( So this is where our love of shopping come from.)

She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portion her servant girls. ( Sure wish I had some servant girls. I've got to get a housekeeper!)

She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plan a vineyard (A working woman and a smart woman who can handle money is of great value)

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks (Boy, do I need to get in shape! Still a work in progress.)

She sees that her trading is profitable. And her lamp does not go out at night. (Is this why I'm up early and asleep late? Always vigilent and alert!)

In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.( A spinning skill at it’s best)

She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. (a compassionate and generous heart is needed)

When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet (Warm clothes are made and dyed, a great skill to have)

She makes coverings for her bed;

she is clothed in fine linen and purple. (She sews or knits or crochets and dyes it in purple)

Her husband is respected at the city gate. Where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. (Only if he is worth respecting. She can't make him into a leader, but she can encourage and affirm his efforts to lead)

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. (How about cotton washclothes? Close enough)

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ( She knows when to be serious but a good well-practiced sense of humor is always needed)

She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (She loves teaching others, and others come to her for counsel and wise advice. Don't forget to pray for wisdom!)

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
(Idleness is never a friend)

Her children arise and call her blessed. Her husband also, and he praises her.
(Perhaps, someday)

Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. (Be happy with yourself)

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a women who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Don’t be a flirt and outward beauty is skin deep and after one turns 50 is very fleeting. Above all, obeying the Lord is more important)
Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I finished spinning up the merino handdyed yarn. I spun it as fine (thin) as I could. There was some neps in this roving, but I tried to remove as many as possible as I spun. It totaled about 350 yds when I 2-plied it. Three-ply would have made it too thick for what I intended it for…….the Swallowtail shawl.

It is so soft and bouncy. The lavender streaks in it are not as defined as I was hoping. If you look very close you might see them. The yarn has been staring at me longingly to do something with it. Everyday I would wake up admiring it, feeling its softness, hearing in my mind the yarn silently whispering “Knit me! Knit me!” I thought what would it hurt to study the Swallowtail pattern? Hmmm, seems simple enough. I went to Ravelry to study how the shawl came out for others. There were hundreds and hundreds of beautiful loveliness. It simply hypnotized me. I did notice, however, that most were using alpaca or a silk blend. I didn’t see too many with a pure wool. I was still determined to use my merino wool for this.

I came home one day wanting to escape the stress of the working world. My husband went to bed early and my son was off to college. I had the whole evening to myself and finally gave up resisting the temptation to cast on.

The cast on was a little different from what I was familiar with but I plugged on. This actually made a sturdier beginning for the shawl. This is a triangular shawl and I’ve made lace shawls before, but as I did the lace repeats, my counts were wrong and I had to rip back. The pattern only gave the total count of stitches after whole sections of rows, which was not helpful. In frustration, I finally sat down and using the Excel software program calculated how many stitches I should end up with after every other row. This also helped me keep track on the number row of the pattern I was knitting. At any moment, I could count my stitches and know which row of the pattern I was on and how many I should have ended up with. If it was off, I could find the mistake with 2 rows and correct it. This was so much better than ripping back 6-12 rows. If I can figure how to embed an Excel chart in this blog I will try.

Here is the start of my shawl……

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chain Knitting

My son enjoys making things too. His craft is not necessarily fiber related but I would call his craft a type of “knitting”…….chainmail knitting. It is made of galvanized steel which he has rolled into coils on a rod machine my husband made. He stretches the coils out slightly and snips each circle with wire cutters. With plyers he connects the circular rings together in a pattern.

He has been diligently making a chain mail shirt since February (2 months) for a friend and has finally finished it. Here are the wonderful results. It look great on him, The friend liked it too.

Cool Isn't it?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Winning the Race!

I won.! My goal was to finish 24 inches of Candlelight scarf within 7 days and I finished in 5 days! It was a race to the finish and I won! I am blocking it today.

I really need to work on completing my UFO(Unfinished Objects). I have so many and I am starting to forget how to do them, so I thought I would make a concentrated effort to knock them off one by one.

Although……I keep seeing new ideas and projects that I would love to make. Interweaves’ Knitting Daily has come out with the results of its Reader’s Choice poll for the Best Of Interweave Knits and has posted them for free. One of the designs I have fallen in love with since I’ve seen it and have been trying to find the sold out magazine to get the pattern to no avail. I was thrilled when I saw it and downloaded it as fast as I could…..the Swallowtail Shawl. I had put it in my Ravelry queue a long time ago. Photo from Interweave Press:

I’ve been trying to figure out what in my stash is worthy of being the Swallowtail shawl. Finally, it hit me. I am spinning the handdyed merino on my wheel right now. I am spinning it fine, trying to decide if I want it to be 2-ply or 3-ply. Since merino will shrink and felt if mishandled, I don’t dare make a fitted garment out of it. A beautiful shawl will be perfect.

Last weekend my husband and I went to the movies and I was desperately trying to find something I could knit in the movies. In vain, I could not find anything thing already on needles, so I decided to use up my spinning stash and grabbed a few balls of handspun wool and #8 circulars and headed out the door. On the way I cast on for a simple striped hat. By the end of the movie, about two hours later, I finished about 5 inches of hat. Today I finished the rest. I like how it looks. In the dark, its hard to count the rows, so I guessed and thus the result, but I still like it. It is made of a Cotswold wool and an unknown mix of wool for the other colors.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Socks and Scarves

All the podcasts I’ve been listening to is talking about socks! I just can’t get away from it. Am I being persecuted or convicted for ignoring my Dad’s tofutsies socks. I just can’t get in to it. I’ve decided I really hate the yarn and color. Yet, I don’t have the heart to rip them out. I had both cuffs and legs done and started the heel and picked up the stitches for the gusset too loosely and had to frog to the heal flap because this yarn does not have memory( or stretchy bounce back). I haven’t touched them since then. I am trying to get up the courage to pick them up again.

I decided to get out all the sock yarn I have around the house, hoping it would inspire me to finish Dad’s socks. It certainly has been calling to me. What kind should I make next? Perhaps, what I need is a really easy but creative pattern to keep me interested. Plain 2x2 ribbing is just not inspiring enough for me. Soo…I went to the shopping Mall, and stopped at Borders. Lo and behold, I saw new book “Knitted Socks” by Anna Tillman. It has so many cute patterns I am drooling to make. My granddaughter would love the penguin and lady bug socks. There’s a very nice anklet with appliqu├ęd little knitted strawberries on the ankle that my future daughter-in-law might like. There some socks with toes for flip flop wearers, intarsia pig socks, fair isle patterns and felted booties. There is even a pattern for felted jester boots. Wouldn’t my son’s roommate like those? Well, needless to say I am inspired.

So I am struggling with the decision to cast on something new or get out the Tofutsies to finish them to free up my sock needles. I just have too many projects on the needles. I am wanting the feeling of finishing something. I need to feel I’ve accomplished something so I can move on.

I also have been working on my candlelight scarf. We’ve been hit with a heat wave in the 90’s and I am making a scarf. Am I crazy or what? I guess it is the only mundane knitting I have at the moment. I have about 2 feet done and am about to start the 2nd skein. I am thinking 4 ft will be enough for this scarf. It is beautiful and soft. It will make a nice fall scarf. I am tempted to have a race with myself to get the next 2 ft done in 7 days. Can I do it? It has taken me 5 months to get 2 feet done and am I being crazy to think I can finish it in “1” week?

Hmmmm…..let’s see. That’s about 3 ½ inches a day, 8 rows to 1 inch, which is 28 rows a day. Ready, Set, Go!!

A Bit of Nostalgia

I was cleaning out some things and discovered a project from 30 years ago. When I was expecting my first child I started this needlepoint sampler. By the time he turned two, I somewhat finished it but did not have the money to get it professionally framed. I put it in a frame masking taping (big mistake) to a big piece of cardboard. My granddaughter will be turning 2 in August. I was thinking that she might get some use out of it (provided her mom wanted it) to teach her some words. This sampler taught all my three sons, who are now adults. It was made for her daddy and I am hoping it could be passed on to her grandchildren if it lasts that long. It is made of wool needlepoint thread and so I washed it gently with fiberwash and blocked it. I am planning to have it professionally framed so it can be protected for generations.

My Smiley’s yarn order has arrived! It is so nice!!! I just love the $2.50 sock yarn I forgot I ordered. I’ve got to get those Tofutsies socks finished! I am also dreaming of colorways I want to dye the cotton yarn and can’t wait to knit with it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spinning Mojo

I have been gazing dreamily over the roving I’ve dyed a few weeks ago. It has been calling to me. Sooo… I dug out my spinning wheel from the dusty closet. My husband nearly fainted when he saw me do this. Has it really been so long since I’ve spun? Perhaps it has. I’ve been a little (mwahahaha) “ knitting” obsessed.

I decided to start with the Lavendar and yellow Churro roving since it is a hardy fiber and I didn’t think I was up to tackleing the fine merino yet.

So I set up my spinning wheel, dust it off, and made sure it is working smoothly. Oh no! I’ve forgotten which direction to spin the yarn. It HAS been a long time! Do I spin to the right or left? With my style of knitting, the opposite from the mainstream is better because the yarn usually untwists as I knit. I was too shook up to figure it out, so I guessed………..wrong. I spun to the right, but midway I decided it didn’t feel right. Well, no turning back now. I struggled to finish it. It ended up with thick and thin parts and was very hard to control because of the long staple length. Churro wool is a somewhat rough wool, more suited for rugs or purses. Well perhaps this would make a small bag. It ended up about 107 yds of bulky thick and thin yarn when plied. By the time I finished it, I felt I had better control. My spinning mojo was back.
Now it was time to tackle the merino. This merino was very fine. I was so glad it did not “felt” as I dyed it. I really made an effort to treat it gently and I think the cold batch dyeing worked well on it. This lovely soft pastel-colored ball of yarn would make a nice soft baby item, provided it was washed in cold water. It has been spinning up very nicely and the colors are intensifying as I spin. My spinning in not very consistent as I’m not counting my treddling but it seems like it will make a nice yarn. Here’s my effort so far. Perhaps I’ll 3-ply it. I’m trying to make a fingering to sport wt single to ply. Any ideas on what I can make with it? I wonder how much I will need for a sweater? Or booties? Or a Hat?! Hmmmm, a hat! Sounds like a great idea! Stay tuned………

Friday, April 4, 2008

Falling Off the Stash Wagon

I’ve fallen off the wagon. The yarn stash wagon. I told myself I would not buy anymore yarn. I’ve have enough to last me a long while. At the rate I knit, and lately it seems I am cranking out all kinds of knitting projects quite faithfully, I have enough yarn to last me for years….or more. This doesn’t even count the handspun.

Along comes an email from Smiley’s Yarns. “ Cotton Elite for 99 cents a skein”. Almost 200 yds of soft goodness for .99. It was a temptation I could not resist. I was imagining all the Procion MX dye I still had in my shelves and all the lovely color I could be dyeing the yarn. I cave. Hours….no days…..of unsurmountable joy with experimenting with color! How could I resist? I bought 30 skeins: 20 in white and 20 in yellow (to over dye). Oh no,……it says minimum order is $40!!!!!. I get sucked in. I order 7 more skeins of a $1.50 skeins of a Lovely Acrylic I’ve never seen before. I’m no “yarn snob”. I like good acrylic, especially if its soft and washable.

I think I need to join a Yarnaholics group. Actually, I think there is a Stashaholics group on Ravelry.