Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fiber Content

I found a big stainless steel pot in the basement, which made me all dye crazy again. Here's Fisherman's Wool (love love love 40% off coupons for Joann's) with:
1. Wilton's cookie dye in yellow mixed with orange
2. Grape and blue lemonade Kool Aid and Wilton Icing Dye in Solid Black
The icing dye broke in the hot water (so much for being "solid"), separating into purplish brown and hunter green. Not what I expected, but pretty nonetheless. I dyed one other skein in a different color, but that one's going to my Secret Pal 8 spoilee, so it's all very hush-hush.

This has been my pet knitting for the past few weeks:
This will be another modified fulled lopi tote. No lopi here, though. The turquoise is Lamb's Pride Bulky (with Bernat Boa), the pink is Cascade 220 from my lovely SP8 (with Bernat Matrix), and the variagated is Noro Kureyon. Using different yarn weights together has been a challenge, and I've been changing row width as I go to try to compensate. I guess I'll have to wait until after the felting to see what I've done. Oooo, the suspense! With a knife you could cut it!

I've picked Icarus back up. I've fixed my little boo-boo and will soon be at the bind off. It looks like there are a million stitches on this needle! To the edge I go...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mr. Brown Comes to Washington

I got to see Alton Brown at the Smithsonian last night! So cool! He's even quirkier and funnier on stage than on his show. The auditorium was packed with his fans and he didn't disappoint. He was plugging his new book/TV movie about road food, so he shared film excerpts and anecdotes in an "inside the actors studio" format. I managed to get a few blurry photos:A brave and fortunate audience member got to play the host (a.k.a. James Lipton). Then there was a Q&A with some good questions and some oddball ones too (some of his fans are he is). Anyway, I laughed a lot, and when I wasn't laughing too hard to control my fingers, I knit. FYI, stocking in the round with worsted weight is a nice dim-lights-and-many-distractions knitting, until you get to those darn stich markers!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sundry Updates

The concert was a blast on Saturday! Lots of fun singing and a very appreciative audience to boot! We sang Schubert's Mass in G, Hailstork's "I Will Lift Mine Eyes," nd Beethoven's Choral Fantasie. The last one is the music from the old Dean Witter TV ads - you know the ones Saturday Night Live used to make fun of. This was way before they merged with Morgan Stanley). I think one of the best things about summer concerts is that they attract people who might not have been to a choral performance before. Classical music has a reputation (not always undeserved) for stuffiness, and having a good choir singing dressed down in t-shirts can change some perceptions.

Polly asked about music samples, which is a great idea! I will try to find some excerpts from concerts I've been in. I'm one voice in a hundred, so you won't hear me personally - at least I hope not. If I'm feeling brave, I'll post something from one of my voice lessons. I can do a respectable Katisha, though I like to think I'm not a vengeful, scorned woman. That's one of those choral biases that probably stems from common human generalizations: Sopranos are innocent heroines (the lovely young blond who gets the guy in the end). The altos are older and cleverer (not meant as a compliment). They never get the guy, or at least not the guy they want. The tenors are the heroes (the dashing one who runs off with the soprano) and the basses are either older wise men or older evil men.

After the concert, Icarus and I took a mutual time out. I made a small boo boo on the last row - no big deal really: I can fix it by dropping down a row (no tinking back), but I thought I could use a break from all those damn beads! I have to get back to it in a day or two because the intended giftee will be leaving in a couple of weeks.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Do Re Mi So Crazy

A few months ago, in a moment of uncharacteristic optimism, I signed up to sing in the University of Maryland Summer Chorus. How was this optimistic? Well, because I knew that, though summer music groups are less formal in appearance (picture soloists in flipflops), the commitment is still quite serious. But I signed up anyway! What is wrong with me?!

One more rehearsal until the concert tomorrow. Afterwards, I can breathe easy and solemnly swear never to do this again. Although ...they are having auditions for the upcoming season in, no, no! Must fight the urge - I just have to keeping reminding myself that auditions make me very queasy and if (by some miracle) I get in, I'll be too tired and harried to be happy about it.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Baby Vogue

The promised action shots of Jersey Cousin's new baby in handknits:
Awww! Isn't he just adorable?? He's a month and a half old, making the smaller blue one a better fit for now. My cousin says he gained 7 pounds in a month (the doctor was surprised) so good thing I made the bigger size too!

Both sweaters are from the Knitpicks Last Minute Pullover pattern. The blue/white one at the top is made from Tess Designer Yarns Supersock in the 0-3 month size and the orange/green/purple one is made from Knit Picks Simple Stripes in the 3-6 month size.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Here's another batch of dyed Fisherman's Wool I made this past Sunday:
The yarn may look calm in the photo but the dyeing session was a nightmare. I opted to go with a handpainted, microwave-only approach with food dye. I spread out a couple of layers of plastic wrap, put my nice long skein on there and proceeded to pour greens and purples. First of all, I didn't mix the purple properly so I got teal at first, then teals with lumps of purple, then pale purple. Ugh, not fun picking out those lumps. Then when I lifted the bundle up to put it in the microwave, I found out the plastic was leaking!! Ahhh!! I was so flustered I didn't let the wool steep in the dye long enough, hence the pale colors.
Here's what went right:
1) The skein was nice and long.
2) The dye washed out of the butcher block...and the grout...and the kitchen floor...
What to fix for next time:
1) Dissolve the dye in a small amount of water first. (I did this right last time. Don't know why I forgot!)
2) Use more plastic wrap!
3) Microwave larger skeins longer. The yarn didn't seem very hot after 4 minutes. This probably also contributed to the light colors.
Now that there's a little distance between me and the leaking dye incident, I'm growing to like this colorway. I'm giving it to a knitter friend headed off to colder winters.

I've also started spinning the green top from I think something magical must have happened between my brain and my fingers since my last spinning adventure. If you recall, that produced this somewhat respectable second-skein-I-ever-spun:
When I started spinning yesterday, everything was so much easier! Drawing the fiber went more smoothly, I wasn't turning the spindle too hard, and the results are clearly more even:
So much better :) . It's so nice to know the old neurons are still firing away!

Monday, July 10, 2006


I went to a spindling class on Saturday. It was fun and I learned a lot. Plus I got to keep the spindle. Hooray for new hobbies!Notice how doggie's not loving the new toy. Probably because he saw what I'd made with it:
Yes, yarn only a mother could love. But it is knittable, and here's the proof:
It's's a....let's just call it a swatch. My second attempt on Sunday was a little better:
14 yards of uneven spinning. I kinda suck at this spinning business. I'm stuck at the spin-park-draft stage because I can't work out how to draft properly under any circumstances, let alone draft evenly with the spindle spinning. Perhaps some more practice is in order. My next victim:
Some top from This stuff won't know what hit it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I Spy

...with my beady eyes, something beginning with I:
Icarus, with beads! Oooooo, sparkly! I'm at the end of chart 4. This project is just crawling as the rows get longer and longer, and, pretty as they are, the beads only make the knitting slower.

In a totally different palette, here's the result of the kool aid dyeing:
This little swatch shows a few streaks of orange, resulting for my last minute (what? me?) decision to pour Wilton icing dye (mixed with water and vinegar) on the more "naked" parts of the skein after its kool aid bath. I then zapped it in the microwave for a couple or minutes. I like the way it knits up. Now, what to do with it.....I'm a little hesitant to use it for a project, since I heard these edible dyes are not light-fast. It would be a pity to make something with it, only to have the color fade away in the sun.

Just as I feared, it was a royal mess to untangle that dyed skein and get it wound up. It was like this:
only much less serene and with only one person and a ball winder involved. Isn't this just the cutest? I got it from an antique store in Grayson, Ky. It's "The Heart of the Parks," and they mean it, there are lots of woods and lakes around there.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fat Cats and Dye Vats

Kentucky was fun and very relaxing. The cats there are this big:This is Rocky, making his second appearance on my blog. He's now a svelte 19 lbs (he's lost weight since last time). My aunt was the uber-hostess, as always, and we had a fantastic time. And I didn't come home empty handed:
Damn Walmart and their low low prices! I went four days without internet (ok, technically my phone has email) but couldn't go that long without buying yarn. I prefer to view it as a fair exchange, since I left behind a baby sweater, a Mason Dixon bib and a baby hat, none of which I got pictures of cuz I had vacation on the brain. My aunt's daughter is expecting her first baby

We got back in town on Monday evening in time to beat the Independence Day traffic, but also just in time for the daily afternoon rush hour. Doh! Back at home, I got around to felting the handpaintedyarns bag.The final size is 14x16, which I'm happy with. I hope the giftee will like it too.

July 4th was quiet, apart from the stormy weather. We've gotten so much rain here lately, a daily thunderstorm is pretty much the norm. After the requisite cookout (yummy burgers!), I decided make my first attempt at Kool Aid dyeing. Here's what happened:
Ok, there's more to it than that, but apart from the constant fear of scalding, it wasn't too bad. I used Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, 6 packets of Tropical Punch Kool Aid and a double boiler (stainless steel bowl over a pot of water over a low flame). Here's what I learned:
1. Make the skein long and thin. The fat skein I wound made it hard for the dye to penetrate evenly.
2. Tie off the skein in multiple places. The way I did it with one tie makes it susceptible to tangling (i.e. this is going to be such a pain to wind into a ball!)
3. Find a bigger bowl. Again, for even dyeing.
4. Triple up on the rubber gloves. My right thumb is the same color as the yarn because both my right gloves had holes.