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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

Today I made the decision not to dye. My friend's shop is opening a bit later than I thought, and I have a bit more time to finish her order, which I should be able to do with no problems once the new motor for the electric skein winder gets here, provided I can install it without causing harm to man, beast, or object. My knitting has been sorely neglected, and I have some projects that need to get moving. I designed (on paper) a cowl that needs to be knit up pronto. It's for a swap, and the sooner it gets done, the sooner I can write up the pattern (if it is worthy), and the sooner the package can get mailed. One less thing to cause me distraction.

Other decisions are looming. Our "baby cat" (who is 14) is not doing so well, and we may have to make a decision about that sometime soon. He's been having occasional rough days for some time, but he always seems to bounce back, though he's just a shadow of his former self. The bad days seem to be coming a bit more frequently, and it's clear that, even on a fine day, his batteries are drained. But, every time he trots from one end of the house to the other (he doesn't walk unless he's punky), we look at it as a positive sign. He's been especially chilly, so this morning I wrapped him up in a fleece blanket burrito. Sometimes he still looks like a kitten.
I wish there was a yarn that was as soft as the fur right behind his ears. It is the softest, sweetest thing I've ever touched.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Dr. Might Sew, But He Doesn't Knit

True story: If you tell your osteopathic surgeon that your hands are blue because you are dyeing, he's going to think you just told him you are dying. Lesson learned. Homonyms will getcha.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Dyein' Here!

I am spending copious amounts of time in the Craft Dungeon. All this dyeing means that there isn't much knitting. Not much at all. As in none. Zip. If not for knit night on Tuesdays, it would be a knitting desert around here.

Today I'm dyeing up a seacell (rayon) and silk blend lace yarn. It is gorgeous, shiny, luxe stuff, but it smells awful--really, really, really awful--while it's being dyed. The end result is so gorgeous that it's worth a bit of suffering on my part.

When I buy yarns, often they arrive packaged with ribbons, tissue paper, and plastic bags in a shipping envelope. The plastic bags seem like overkill, and don't get me started on the ribbons. They are pretty and festive, but they often end up in the trash, and who needs that? My plan is to wrap the yarns in natural, unbleached tissue (recycled and recyclable) tied up with yarn, plenty of which is lying around the Dungeon. I'm going to ship in Tyvek envelopes (unless a box is required), which are water resistant. What are your thoughts on packaging? (I should also note that I'm going to be sending a little extra with the yarn--tea from Steven Smith Teamaker. Their teas are exquisite, and if I like them, I think you will, too!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Comfort Zones and Accidents

We all have them, and we spend time trying to step out of the former and avoid the latter. One that I have been fighting for some time is the concept of dyeing a skein of yarn that isn't my personal cup of tea. I remind myself time and time again that there are infinite combinations and just because a particular skein is not the first one I'd grab doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't fall in love.

In my teens, my friend and I used to mutually despise yellow. We even went as far as to be a bit superstitious about it, blaming unfortunate incidents on the presence of yellow in the immediate surroundings. At some point, that changed for me and, in this house as well as my last, I have had yellow or gold rooms. My current house has four. I am sitting here looking at two balls of golden yarn destined to be a shawl. Yellow has gained ground in my color world.

Dyeing can be thrilling, and sometimes there are unexpected results. A while back, I put some skeins in the pot with the three different dyes that make up the colorway. The secret to that particular colorway is to limit agitation so that there are flashes of color without much mingling and the natural color of the skein still remains visible. For some reason, I stirred the pot, literally. Oops. What came out was a new colorway because it shares very little resemblance to its cousin, and it may just be one of my favorites. And it has yellow in it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Ahead of Myself

I do it all the time. I get so caught up with the possibilities that the here-and-now gets in my way, and I end up tripping all over myself.

Today I found myself thinking about seeds. Here in Chicago, you really can't plant things outside until after Mother's Day. That's a long way off, and there's much to do between now and then. Additionally, I've not had much luck with my own seedlings. They tend to be spindly, weak, little things that wither in the urban jungle of my backyard. I do, however, have a worm bin just packed full of castings (that's a polite way to say worm poo) that could provide a better starting medium than what I've used in the past. I'm going to be ambitious and try it again.
There are seeds of a different kind that have been germinating here for some time. As you may remember from posts-long-gone, I dubbed the basement The Craft Dungeon, and in said Dungeon, experiments of the dyeing type were taking place. I became more comfortable with my technique and my materials, and I was producing colors that I thought could be attractive to yarnaholics who weren't just me. Last winter's fall and subsequent surgery postponed my plans, but didn't dampen them. So, I finally feel ready to tell you all that there is a new yarn line soon to be out in the world.

I will be launching the etsy store soon. You'll be the first to know.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So You Think You're So Smart...

Okay, about that cowl and my "improvements." Well, I solved a design issue, but I created a construction issue. For some reason that I just can't discern, grafting the two halves--which, theoretically, should have been seamless--caused some areas of the pattern to create weird little poofs. They're a bit too odd to be "design elements" and so it's back to the drawing board. I think what I really need to do is get out some knitting graph paper and design my own cowl. It will be a good exercise for me, and I'll let ya know how that turns out. By the way, do you know how long it takes to kitchener 119 stitches to 119 other stitches? I believe that unit of time is called a foreffingever.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One One One One One

That was predictable, right?

I wish I could say that 2011 has started off with a bang, but, alas, it hasn't. It started out with sniffle, then a whine, then a honk, and it progressed from there. The sofa in the knitting room still has a dent from the three days I spent there, both day and night. Admittedly, I do not suffer illness of any magnitude well, but this cold wiped me out. I am feeling better, but now my sleep rhythms are completely upside-down, and I was fully awake until 5am this morning. Fortunately, though, the calendar has provided me with a do-over of sorts, so I am declaring today the first day of my 2011. It's got an extra "one" in it, so that counts.

I've got some new projects on the needles, both of which have been subjected to my tinkering. I started one of the many pairs of mittens out there that are based on the ubiquitous Owls sweater. After knitting 90% of one mitten, I decided that the construction wasn't making me happy. The thumb was accommodated with a series of increases that essentially followed the lifeline on the palm, and while that sounds interesting, it resulted in a mitten that pulled in an odd way, and so it went to the frog pond. Instead, I am Frankenknitting a few patterns together to make a mitten that's making me a bit happier.

I have signed myself up for a Mardi Gras swap on Ravelry. I have decided to knit my giftee a lacy cowl made with some of my hand dyed yarn. The pattern is pretty (but I shan't name it here because of the Ravtroversey which, apparently, surrounds it), but it isn't symmetrical. The motif at the top and the bottom are mirrored, and the stitch pattern in the middle runs gracefully and logically from one side, but then it kind of slams into the border at the other end. After knitting 75% of it, I decided to frog it and make some changes. I am knitting it in two parts, from the ends in, and I am going to graft the halves in the middle. In the past, I have said my knitting would go faster if I didn't stop to admire every row. It would also go faster if I didn't re-knit every project at least once.

I am doing that "Pay it Forward" thing that's been making the rounds. It's the one where I promise you something handmade if you post on your blog or Facebook page the promise to do the same. I have one more slot open, so if you are interested in receiving something handmade by me in 2011 (it could be anything, mind you, not just knitting, as I wield some mean recipes and I own the Cadillac of hot glue guns), you must promise the same for five others. Comment here or on my Facebook page, and the next person I hear from is in. (If you decide to do it, I can provide you with the "text" for the Pay it Forward promise.) I'm really excited about the folks who are on the journey with me so far. One of them is a male friend from high school who I haven't seen in about 25 years! I have already been plotting and planning about the "right" items for each of them.

It's a beautiful, snowy day here in the city, so I need to do a bit of shovelling. Perhaps I'll take a bit of a snow walk for some exercise and to help ease myself toward being tired enough to fall asleep at a normal hour. Wish me luck, but if you see me Tweeting in the wee hours, you know I'm in deep trouble. (Insomnia often results in reckless internet shoe shopping, and that's just not good...)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

One One One One

Hi there. Wow, it's been a long time. I can't promise how often I'll be stopping in, but I'm gonna try to be better.

Since it's 1.1.11, it is de rigeur to set a few goals for the year.

1. Less takeout and more cooking at home.
2. More exercise.
3. Less retail therapy. Shop in my stash more often rather than buy new yarn. Desire a new pair of shoes? Go to the shoe closet and pick out a pair rather than succumb to the temptation for a new pair. (I admit it: this will be a hard one.)
4. Plant the garden this year.
5. Rearrange the rooms I have wanted to revamp for a while: the TV/knitting room, the upstairs living room, the back room upstairs, both pantries, the office area.
6. Purge/clean the basement.
7. Purge the cookbook collection.
8. Hang all art/pictures. If there isn't a place to hang it, purge it.
9. Spin more.
10. Waste less time. Limit computer time. (Use an egg timer if necessary.) Turn on the TV less, but always multi-task when the TV is on.
11. Spend more time on the business.
12. Purge the Ravelry queue, if only a little bit.
13. Fewer pajama days.
14. Spend more time with friends.

All right, y'all, hope to see more of you in he coming year. Happy start to the new year, and see you soon!