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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Deadline Approaching

For those who have read about the contest being hosted here on this very blog, one of the projects I mentioned is closing in on its deadline. Squares for the Barn Raising Quilt are due June 9. I need to get mine done! (Remember, the prizes will be good!!! I know for sure that some STR will be involved.) I'll be highlighting some additional charity knitting opportunities in upcoming posts.

I'm getting some fun knitting done, but pics are scarce. I am currently wearing my Chickami, but since winter doesn't always leave these parts until June, I might be better off wearing my Bzzz Queen of Bees Hat. It's chilly here. (Sometimes I get a kick out of what the Weather Pixie is wearing down there in the lower left corner of the blog. I love that she changes her clothes with changes in temps--and that she sometimes is accompanied by a black cat--but one of her outfits looks like full-on S&M gear. Weird and funny.)

I am currently listening to the audiobook Son of a Witch, the follow-up to Wicked, one of my favorite books. I love the Wizard of Oz to the point of distraction, and the backstory that Gregory Maguire created is brilliant. (Definitely not a read for the kiddos, though. The musical left a lot of the adult content out.) There have been a number of references to spinning, and I am always amused by that.

Speaking of spinning, we did have a few warm days recently, just perfect for me and the cats to spend the afternoon on the balcony with the spinning wheel. (I have a workshop in a month that requires sharper skills than I currently have, so I am on a bit of a mission.) Occasionally, keeping my older cat, Pitch, away from the pre-drafted roving becomes a battle of wills, but we usually work it out. I think he likes the smell of alpaca because he once appropriated an alpaca shawl. The cat survived, but the shawl suffered permanent injury.

Off to knit a Barn Raising square!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Lesson in Dyeing

I just got home from a tour of the Lorna's Laces studio which is just a few minutes from my house. (Yes, there were bargain basement-priced acquisitions!) It was very interesting to learn a little bit about Beth's approach and technique in comparison to what I learned from Tina at Sock Camp. There were a lot of differences, actually. Vinegar or no vinegar. Dish soap or no dish soap. Pre-soak or not.

The more I learn about dyeing from what I've been reading, seeing, and through first-hand experimentation, the more I realize that, aside from a few important details like making sure the dye is set by heating to a proper temperature for an appropriate amount of time, the rest is open to interpretation. Different things are going to work for different dyers and different yarn bases. There is a bit of magic involved, however. (Some may call it chemistry, but I prefer magic.)

I've been dyeing down in the craft dungeon for a while, and some good things have come out of the dyepot. There was the recent success I had by overdyeing Blue Moon Twisted in Falcon's Eye using various blues, greens, gray, and purple:

The other day, I decided I wanted to make the Bzzz Hat for Queen of Bees. After searching for the right colorway, I decided to make my own using some natural Malabrigo-like yarn I had stashed. I used two different golden-y yellow dye solutions to get this result, which I have named Honey Butter:

I'm on a bit of a tear at the moment, and I have a wildly unrealistic list of projects I'd like to accomplish. There are a bunch of warm weather items that I'd like to make before the snows set in again. This week I cast on my friend Bonne Marie's Chickami pattern. It would be finished if I hadn't done something so entirely stupid, not once, but twice. I missed a paragraph and leaped ahead in the pattern. Each time I made a different error because I skipped a different paragraph. Ugh. I'm using Cotton Fleece (which I had planned to use for a number of summer projects), and I am realizing that it is contributing to some pain in my right elbow and hand. Looks like I am going to have to alternate projects with some bouncier fibers. It's a good thing that my list of service projects, most of which will be wool, is as long as my list of personal projects, so I'll be able to switch back and forth.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Second Favorite Man From New Jersey* **

*post not knitting related at all
** I married a man from NJ

I am WAY to young to have a bucket list (*ahem*), but when I do have a bucket list, I will be able to cross off that I have seen Springsteen do Jungleland live. Everything else from here on out is gravy. (I was at the concert at the United Center last night. I was the one in front of the four drunk girls who paid over $100 a ticket (plus a bazillion $8 beers) to scream to each other and take pics of themselves with cellphones through the whole show. They. never. stopped. yelling. Does the fact that I just complained about screaming girls mean that I am old enough for a bucket list? Nah...)

I just went back through old set lists from shows I have been to (I love you, Internet, where things live on forever!) and have started an Excel spreadsheet of the songs I have heard at which concerts. It's the fangirl version of stashing on Ravelry, I guess. (Looked, I slipped in some knitting content!)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Do-Gooder (There will be prizes.)

My first words when I woke this morning were, "Today is Maryland Sheep and Wool, and I wish I were there." I hope those of you who are there are having or had (if you're reading this later) a wonderful time. I'm only the tiniest bit jealous!

To piggyback on my post about the square I did for Afghans for Afghans, I have decided what my next charity projects will be. Knitters for Obama (Ravelry Group) currently has two service projects in motion. The first is to provide hats, gloves, scarves, etc. for LGBT youth living on the streets, and the second is providing stuffed toys for children in foster care in Chicago and throughout Illinois. In addition, Melanie Falick has a post on her blog about Barn Raising Quilt Squares (from Larissa Brown's Knitalong book) that will be assembled into blankets to be auctioned or raffled at Sock Summit. So, it looks like I have some knitting to do!

Okay, remember when I said that there would be challenges that entailed prizes? Well, here is the first one...I challenge you to a knit/crochet service project-off. (Think of it as a calorie-free bake-off with yarn.)
  • The charity is of your choosing, but it must be a charitable organization or cause. Sorry, gift knitting doesn't count for this challenge.
  • The project must be new, not one you have already completed or that you currently have on the needles/hook. My intention is to get more projects going.
  • Multiple items will be counted separately. So, for each hat, toy, blanket square, etc., you make, your name will go into the drawing. (Baby/kids socks/booties count as one item; adult socks will count as two. Baby blankets and sleeved garments will also count as two.)
  • You have until July 4 to make your item(s). (It's an easy date to remember.)
  • Email me with your name, Rav name (if you have one), the name of the charity, description(s)the item(s) you made, and links to any pics you post on Ravelry or your own blog. (Please do not attach any picture files to your email.) You can email me at PurlsBeforeWine(at)gmail(dot)c(0)m or PM me on Ravelry at PurlsBeforeWine. No need to wait until July; go ahead and send me the info as you finish your project(s). Please title your message "Do-Gooder" so I don't miss it!
  • I promise that the prizes will be really, really good. Really. One prize will be drawn at random, and another will be awarded for an entry that moves me, makes me laugh, that I really, really love, or some other subjective criteria. (There will be some objectivity--it won't just be because I know you. I might know you, but that won't be why.)

I know my readership isn't huge, but I would love for you to help spread the word, not for my sake, but for the purpose of generating some positive movement. Most of us are so very fortunate to live in the circumstances we do, to have the time and funds to knit/crochet (even if it isn't always with the luxury fibers we'd desire), to have roofs over our heads (even if they sometimes leak when it rains alot), to sleep in clean beds (when the cats don't have hairball issues in the middle of the night--there's an ugly little snapshot into my world right now), to have a warm meal (when we don't forget to turn the crockpot on *headsmack*), and so on. No one's life is perfect (actually, I think Hugh Jackman's wife's life looks pretty close to perfect from where I sit, but maybe he leaves the toilet seat up or snacks on raw garlic something equally annoying), but a lot of us have it pretty good. Let's do something to make someone else's day a bit better. Are you in?