Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Catching up

So, what's new?

Let's see, at my house, there's new jewelry.

That's a bracelet, earrings and pendant, all made from recycled aluminum knitting needles, by Sassafras Creations. Aren't they pretty? I lovelovelove them, especially the bracelet. It's so light, I don't even know I'm wearing it. It gave me an idea for a new project, but I need some help with it, so more on that next month.

I've been working on my socks. Here are the Laughing Matter socks.

I'm not quite to the heels yet, but I'm getting close. And third time's a charm with my Sinuosity by the Sea socks.

I started them with size 2, 1.5 and now size 1 needles. I sure hope they fit! I've finished the ribbing, chart A (4 rows) and two and a half rows of chart B (12 row repeat). It's hard to tell from the picture, but the pattern is starting to show a bit. It's a slow knit for me, since I can't do cables without a cable needle. Someone showed me at knit night a couple of weeks ago and it made perfect sense at the time. I haven't mastered that particular skill yet, so I'm still using a cable needle. Work is going to be extremely crazy over the next couple of weeks, so don't expect too much progress till mid-April.

Last night I went to an Uppercase Living project night again. I made another lamp like this one that I made back in December.

John took the first one for a nightlight, so I made a matching one. I also put together a set of coasters, but the embellishments were the wrong size, so there's another set on order. We did make and take projects, too. Here's mine:

It says "Create". I actually decorated the back of the thing, but that's okay. I also brought a few things home to decorate my laptop.

It's all girlie now. :)

I usually include a cat picture, but today you get a different furry creature. This little guy lives outside the cafeteria at one of my work sites.

"Can I have another peanut? Please?"

My friend and I were out there this afternoon and saw him. I think one of the guys said his name is Curly. Katie gave him a couple of peanuts and he stood on the ledge by the door looking in. When we didn't give him any more, he came down to the end of the table where she was sitting and stared in the window at her. It was pretty funny. He's an aggressive little beast, though. Another squirrel jumped up on the ledge and Curly chased it away.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Am I blue?

Yes, I am. As you know, I've been working on my blue Laughing Matter socks. They're going pretty well, except for a couple of screw-ups that I've been able to fix. Tuesday night I cast on a new pair of blue socks. Sinuosity is the name of the pattern and it was designed by local designer, who just happens to be in my new Thursday night knitting group. I love the pattern and love the color. What I don't love is my choice of needles. I had a feeling I should have gone down a needle size because the pattern calls for me to cast on 70 stitches. But I didn't listen to myself and cast on with my trusty size 2 needles.

You can't really tell from this picture, but the stitches on the darker pair are kind of loose and really stretchy. So, I'll be ripping those out and starting over. It's frustrating, but at least I've only done about 10 rows. I worked on the Laughing Matter socks at knit night last night instead. Glad I took them with me! The pretty row counter was made by a new friend of mine from the Thursday night group, PrettyKnittyJewelry. It has a teapot charm on the end. How cool is that?

In other news, Sunday was craft day, and I played with my beads.

I beaded the seam lines of the last 7 seams of this block, and added a few beads on the flowers in the center. Now I just have to bead the fabric dragonflies and figure out what else to add in the border.

Also last weekend, I was in the living room and kicked off my slippers. A little while later, John asked if I was missing one of them.

Blue had picked it up and put it in his bed. I think he likes me. :)

Here's an example of how a can of cat food can really bring the "kids" together:

Unfortunately, it didn't agree with Blue's tummy, so we won't be giving him any more of it. Yuck!

And in other kitty news, Emma volunteered to help me with my socks.

"I'll finish these for you, if you'll tell that stupid kitten to stop looking over my shoulder, Mama."

Friday, March 12, 2010

They call her the Yarn Whisperer

Her name is Jen and she has mad untangling skillz. Just look at her go:

In less than an evening she turned the mess that was the formerly Very Pink, now red/orange yarn into this:

A beautiful yarn cake, wound by hand. I am in awe of this. I will really hate to rewind into two balls when I'm ready to use it. I can't wait to see how the pink highlights look when it's knit up. I'm going to use the Little Pumpkins pattern with it.

The other ball of Very Pink yarn is going to be a purple semi-solid. I'll be dyeing it with some Wilton icing colors, just to try something new. Don't worry, I'll blog all about it when the time comes.

A few weeks ago, I took a mystery sock class at River Colors. It was in the middle of my Olympics knitting, so I hadn't blog about it till now. Here they are:

Shibui sock yarn in color #350 ManBlue

The pattern is called Laughing Matter and it's a mystery sock class by Michelle Hunter. I kind of like the spiraling color pattern it's making. The pattern is a pretty simple 6 stitch and 4 row repeat, which makes it good mindless knitting. I started the first sock in class on DPNs, then after I finished the Mermaid socks, I moved it to 2 circulars, cast on the second sock on the DPNs, caught up to the first one, then moved it to circs to so I can finish them at the same time.

I was working on them at knit night last night and biffed one. I highly recommend keeping a pair of DPNs (or a really long circular, if you like/can do Magic loop) with you if you're doing 2 socks at once on 2 circulars. If you screw up one of them, you can move it off the circular needles, fix the problem, and put it back on. In my opinion, it's better than tinking back both socks. Just be careful to A) pay attention to where you are in the pattern so you can catch the doctored sock back up to the other one and B) make sure you have the needles and sock oriented properly when you put it back on the needles so everything is going in the right direction.

I'll work on these this weekend, but Monday I'll be starting some Sinuosity socks for the KnittingNonStop KAL (Knit ALong). One of the things on my ToDo list for the weekend is to wind the yarn. I'll be using Destination Yarn, in the Sea colorway that was the inspiration for the pattern. Not very imaginative on my part, but the combination is just gorgeous.

And here's an example of all the help I have at home when I'm using my laptop:

"I don't know why Mama says she needs longer arms."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dyeing for prettier yarn

As you might be aware, I like buying sock yarn. Over the last couple of years, I've bought some kits and samplers that turned out to have some yarn colors that weren't exactly me. Here are a couple of examples.

KnitPicks Essential (now called Stroll) in Glacial - too pale

Okiteks Sock yarn in something Very Pink

Now, since there is no shortage of sock yarn in my stash, I *could* have given this away, but I thought I'd have a little fun with it. So I wound it into hanks and tied it with waste yarn to try to keep it from getting tangled.

Then I soaked it in some vinegar water:

It took a *long* time (like hours, no kidding) for it to get fully wet. You can still see the lighter, not quite soaked sections in that picture. That's about an hour into the soaking process. Once it was good and wet, I drained the hanks.

Next up, preparing the dye. I had picked up a couple of PAAS classic Easter egg dyeing kits. They each came with 9 color tablets in pink, red, orange, yellow, spring green, teal, blue, denim and purple.

Can you guess which is which?

I didn't really have a plan for how I was going to dye the yarn, but I figured I'd start with blue. I took a guess on which ones were the blue tablets and mixed up the dye as directed (3 Tbsp vinegar per tablet) in some condiment bottles from the dollar store. The color looked good.

I added water to the bottle, gave it a shake and put it on about half of each hank. Note, the bottles aren't exactly water tight, so be careful if you try this at home. Your mileage may vary with higher quality bottles. Oh, and wear gloves no matter what.

I thought I did a pretty good job getting the dye all the way through, but as I moved it around, I found I hadn't. So I proceeded to mix up the denim tablets. I did a better job of with that color, but I still wasn't happy. So I pulled out a couple of packets of blue raspberry lemonade Kool Aid, mixed them with about a quart of water and filled up the dish.

I microwaved it on high for 2 minutes, let it rest for 2 minutes, and repeated the cycle a few times till the water was mostly clear. When it was done, I decided there were still too many spots that were too light. So I went back to my tablets and picked the ones I thought were teal, but could have been green. I divided the dissolved tablets into two bottles this time and used the water from the dish to dilute it. I did my best to fill in the undyed areas and repeated the microwave cycles a few times.

Here's the result, having a little soak in the sink.

Not bad for a first attempt

Okay, one color down. For the pink yarn I wanted a more all-over color, so I dissolved the yellow and orange tablets in a measuring cup.

I added two packets of lemonade Kool Aid and water to make about a quart. I put about half of that in the dish, put the pink yarn on top, pushed it down, then poured the rest of the dye over top. It still looked pink to me, so I sprinkled another packet of lemonade Kool Aid on top and scrunched it in. Still wasn't happy, so I sprinkled a packet of black cherry Kool Aid on top and mixed that in a bit. I turned the yarn over and did it again.

Much better

Another round of on/off microwaving and it was done. I rinsed it, squeezed it out, rolled it in a towel and put it on a rack to dry.

Here are the final results:

That's a little bit of the original color on top

Yeah, I had 2 balls of that pink

You can still see a bit of the pink where the waste yarn wasn't as loose as it should have been. I think I'm okay with that. After I knit it up, if it bothers me, I'll mix up some black cherry and lemonade Kool Aid and spot dye those areas. A little of the pink might make a nice accent.

If I do this again, I think I'll wind the hanks around something longer. They fit nicely in the dish this way, but they didn't work so well on the swift when I was winding. I'll also add at least one more piece of waste yarn. It took me over an hour to wind the blue/green yarn because it was so tangled. I'm terrified of the orange yarn. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but it's really a mess. I think I'd divide that 100g ball into two 50g balls before I dye it, to make it more manageable, too.

So pretty.....

Overall, though, it was fun and I'm glad I did it.

"I'll untangle that yarn for you, Mama"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Better late than never

I finished the Mermaid socks!

Show-Off Stranded Socks, by Anne Campbell in KnitPicks Risata, Woodland Sage colorway

I didn't make it in time for the closing Olympic ceremonies, but I finished the 2nd sock in less than 3 weeks, which is a record for me. I could have done it in the 17-day limit, if I'd even really tried. But I'm okay with my performance.

They aren't the most form-fitting socks I've made, since they're a little bunched up on the top. I think it's the cotton blend yarn.

But they're pretty, and comfy, so I'm keeping them.

Last night was Dear Jane night and I finished another (easy) block.

K-7, Rose of Sharing

I have a fun project planned for this weekend. It involves yarn, Kool Aid, Easter egg dye and my microwave. Stay tuned for more details.

In cat news, we've decided that Ripley will not have surgery at this time. At her advanced age, we think that the stress of what would be a 3-day hospital visit (with I.V. fluids the day before and after surgery) would be a bit much for her. She really doesn't seem all that bothered by her bum knee. She's still limping, but not as quite as much, and she's still able to jump up on the bed at night. If it seems to get worse, we'll reconsider, but for the time being she seems to be holding her own.

"I don't like hospitals, Mama."