Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do Nada

How sad for me. Nearly a month ago, a heal was in view. See here for premature thinking. I see the Monkey sock pattern to be knit in a superb blue. I envision the named Mandrill socks upon my extremities. Unfortunately, whilst I see the monkey, the monkey is not doing these socks.

Here sits sock number one. Nothing happened. I left it alone in a nice dark spot with nary an interruption for weeks and weeks. Nada. Let the statement be emphasized: nothing happened! There is not a heel in sight. No decision as to which heel is most appropriate needs to be made.

Clearly life is interrupting the stick and string thing. And to top it off, the color in the photo is so wrong, not even the sliding adjuster things in Photoshop could help. All in all - to much playing at retail store and traveling the country and volunteering and not enough progress on the projects that focus on self.

My narcissistic side is feeling neglected. So I ask, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Hmmmm. . . . .

Monday, September 28, 2009

No Knitting, Just Yarn

There might be a reason that my yarn love is limited to stashing and not retailing. Witness what I have gotten my self into.

What you see is an explosion of new yarns. This is part of the fall shipment that arrived at a favorite LYS recently. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back - even though none of this is camel hair. Where to put the new? What to put on sale? Why not move the sock yarn to there? Oops.

Have you ever noticed that once the first item is moved the whole scheme is off kilter and other items must get moved and then the furniture has to shift because there is more of this than there was of that and then men are involved because of bolts and attachments and the whole thing gets awfully close to chaos?

Chaos and I do not get along. Period. Luckily, the shop owner and her employee left town and headed to Big Bear and a yarn retreat. They were taking a group up to cool off, learn to take color out of knitted fabric and how to add color in to yarn fiber. That left only two determined women in charge. Keys to the shop and everything.

The instigator of the shop redesign in the photo trying to figure out if it was actually worth watching those men disassemble, move and reassemble the supports for the yarn cubbies. Will it work? Is it all for naught?

Wait till you see the result. I must say there is something quite trusting about a shop owner giving the keys to the kingdom to two customers and letting them 'play store.' We moved all of the Louisa Harding! We moved all of everything. We put up new displays and redressed the windows.

What will the shop owner think when she returns. How will she ever find the new yarns? Actually, that won't be an issue as all of the new stock is in one place - New Fall Yarn Section. Brilliant, don't you agree.

She might never find that silk/merino again. Well, at least she will not notice that the purple is slightly hidden from other customers until I casually stroll up to the counter with the marvelous stuff in my hands.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Get Something Accomplished!

Last week brought several frustrations. Missed opportunity to visit, sluggish thoughts, the boring middle of an afghan (that long slow section that takes forever) and lack of progress on several other items of involvement. All of this left me with a Friday night reflecting that nothing got done. It seemed that an entire week of peddling very fast accomplished nada - zilch - big zero.

Not the best way to start a weekend. What I needed, lest the funk feeling take over, was a quick easy success so that I would feel as though progress was in the air, rather than that sniff of stagnation. Enter chunky yarn from the stash and any basic top down raglan.


Something did indeed get accomplished.

Started Friday night.

Finished Saturday night.

And I even slipped in nine blessed hours of sleep.

Yeah for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recycled Project

There are all sorts of thoughts on recycling yarn from one old project into a new project. And there are thoughts and hints on using recycled anything as yarn - from plastic shopping bags to t-shirt strips. All of this is well and good for the pocket book and the environment. More power to us all for jumping on the recycle bandwagon.

Today, I recycled in a slightly different way. A whole project was recycled and all I had to do was walk up a flight of stairs. Earlier this year, I made Pluie thinking that this soap holder would be ideal at the laundry sink where we wash up after messy projects. No pump soap to fall in the sink, no greasy hand print on the pump top - just one self contained soap and scrubby object that could, with a quick untie, dump, turn and toss, join any load of laundry. It all made sense.

Well, there Pluie still sits there at the sink in all of its unused glory and not doing any one any good. Why? Is it rational to make something that sits idle? Is it financially prudent to spend money for naught? Nay! Over and over - Nay! So, this very morning I picked up Pluie - complete with its fill of floral scented soap - and moved it to my dresser drawer.

Instant sachet! I love this recycle stuff.

PS - click the t-shirt link above and check out Stefanie Japel's video! She is also teaching an up-cycled t-shirt yarn class. Read about it here

Monday, September 14, 2009

Still A-Muse-ed by Knitting

Isn't it absolutely fascinating how a piece of string can twist in to so many unique and marvelous shapes? Crochet, knit, weave, tat, sew or any other manipulation that comes to mind. Does not matter at all. Twist a length of the stuff and magic happens.

The knitting muse is still upon me. Following this wayward guide is proving to be very educational. Back in my "I don't knit socks" days, a friend advised that she enjoyed the freedom of sock knitting. To her way of thinking, once the requisite number of stitches was on the needles anything could happen. She has the ability to drop in a cable anywhere and make a whole new experience come to life. Finally, with this current experiment moving along, I understand what she tried to get my brain to understand.

Even if I never wear this rectangle of a pullover, the working of the thing will have advanced my ability with string greatly. Over on the left of the top photo is the current side. The stitch count and ribbed lower edge are exactly the same as the first side, but the string has decided to twist in a unique combination. Symmetry is not my life ambition. Thus, I love what is happening.

Here is a close look at the new piece of fabric. Cables with no purl set-off are quickly becoming a favorite and appeared with no previous thought on the lower right side. These are stacked up vertically, unlike on the first side where the cables enjoyed forming a diagonal line. go ahead and click the photo - it should enlarge a bit.

That niggling muse seems to want to divide this side so that it becomes a v-neck front. I wonder - what shape is a V?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dyeing To Knit

The end product excites me. Knitting and crocheting are just a means to an end. Thus, the how of the yarn has never held much fascination. Interesting processes for sure. Cotton or soybean fields are just something I grew up with. Sheep make a mess and are smelly - except when a wee one is bottle fed. Then the wee one is darling and can do no harm. Bamboo is a weed; worms make cocoons; various other animals eat grass and carry stuff. This is just science and - get ready for a confession - science belongs in text books and television and laboratories. It does not belong in my house.

Appreciating that science and manufacturing activities occur prior to my purchasing a skein is quite different from wanting to be involved in it all. Especially when those steps are meant to change what nature hath wrought and second guess the color pallet of Mother Nature herself.

Oh, for sure I looked forward to the Kool-Aid dyeing workshop that was mentioned here. Education is a good thing. Experience is grand. Perhaps it is best to say that I approached the workshop excitedly and as a one time experience.

Fast forward - an addict is created. Sad, but true. I might be addicted to dyeing yarns with food safe products.
  • no worries about people and pets when food safe dyeing takes place
  • no need to invest in special equipment
  • ventilation is not an issue
  • clean-up is as easy as every day dish washing
  • children can participate
  • the smell is familiar
  • cost of 'dye' is minimal
  • all supplies can be kept in the kitchen cabinet
  • water run-off is safe
I have probably forgotten some of the advantages. But this makes sense to me. The cost effectiveness makes sense. The environmental footprint makes me happy. The familiarity of every ingredient and tool is comforting.

This little skein is my result. It makes me happy. The color is fairly accurate showing the lemonade and berry blue colors. For this look, each color was spooned on to the prepared skein in alternating pools of color. My plan was to avoid green as much as possible and have sections that would be two or three stitches worth of yarn when worked on a US 8.

And the finished product! Two coasters. Since I can't take credit for the mitered square, the only thing left is to take credit for the color way.

How does Deconstructed Blueberry Lemonade sound?

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Muse-ing Knitting

The muse is still upon me. This no pattern knitting has truly turned in to an education and an inspiration. I know that the knit and purl stitches can be combined and manipulated ad infinitum. I know that the same yarn and needles will produce a different gauge if worked in ribbing or cables or stockinette, or moss combines in hundreds of different ways. By following my muse I am actually seeing gauge change right there on the needles.

Look carefully at this portion. Yes, it is still on the needle and yes, no blocking has occurred. Just go with me, will you? Can you see how the ribbing warps the fabric width wise. And look at the little inverse 'bubble' that appears at the top where the stockinette begins again. Same thing is happening in the upper right corner. I am using these insets of ribbing to help shape the waste with out ever decreasing. You have to agree that this is a slick idea. Right?

The plan is that no sleeves will be inserted into this top. Working the Moss or seed (if you prefer) up the sides means that I can make the arm opening as deep or shallow as necessary once this is blocked. I know that it will not curl and I can decide later if perhaps a crochet edge might be nice. Or even an edge band picked up or knit and sewn on. With or without embellishment, it will work.

This next photo is a good example of what happens when the cable concept is inserted. Look carefully in the lower left where a bit of ribbing is evident. Just above that and making an angle up toward the left side is a series of 2x2 cables with no purl stitches to set them off. The cables move stitches visually, cinch in just a tad and blend into the new moss section.

Yes, a bit hard to see photographically, but I love the impact. In person, you would stare at this and then the knitting muse would flash in your brain - light bulb on!

Also fun is the cable panel in the middle of the photo. This is a color block with the same 2x2 cable set off on either side by a more typically and expected k1, p2. And look how the sides of the color pull in due to the cable twist. Even the bottom and top edge of what is a colored rectangle are distorted.

I am having so much fun watching how this fabric moves and undulates that I almost don't fret the wearing. The learning is turning out to be wonderfully fulfilling. I can see, in this one rectangle of stitches, how and why knit patterns work.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Skeining to Dye

Being unfamiliar with the dyeing process, I am really looking forward to participating in a quick Kool Aid dyeing workshop on Saturday. This morning I worked diligently on the preparation homework. Many of you who are experienced with animal fiber and Kool Aid might want to skip right over this post. But I really had to think and worry over the preparations.

It makes sense that if we are going to add color, the yarn I bring should have very little color - something akin to 'natural wool' perhaps? Superwash sock weight was suggested, but even my stash does not have an extra bit of that hanging around and uncommitted to some grand scheme and plan. There was alpaca left over from two years ago. Deep teal alpaca. We can all admit that such a dark color might not accept another dye with open arms.

More digging in another drawer and Bingo! It almost jumped up and bit me. There sat a tidy left over ball that I vaguely recall to be Cascade Pastaza. Naturally, at a time such as this, no ball band can be found. So, I am going to stick with my best guess, especially since this yarn passed the burn test, the felt test and the smell test. Pastaza is llama & wool, so that is two animal fibers in one. Surely this will work.

A bit of time winding, tying and voila! One little skein for practice, and one bigger for playing. The rest of the supplies are basic kitchen tools: turkey baster, rubber gloves, microwave safe bowl, plastic bags and creativity. Just think. My homework preparation is done early!

From what I understand the turkey baster is for applying different colors to the skein so that the final product is a self striping yarn. The plastic is for protection of self and clothing. Well, I have the creativity, the supplies and the yarn. Is it Saturday yet?