Tuesday, March 30, 2010

PatsyZ to the Rescue!

So, my friend and teacher, PatsyZ, suggested that I re-skein the moderately felted silk/merino. As usual, she knows what to do in any fiber emergency! Yay!

Here are three of the six skeins. The top two are how they dried, and the bottom one has been re-skeined. It will be a time-consuming process. It took about 30 or 40 minutes to wind it off the swift by hand onto the niddy-noddy, but the results are quite worth it. That's about 193 yards in the bottom skein. I have the original numbers - 1250 yards/pound, so when I finish everything up, I'll see if I can figure out what shrinkage might have occurred.

Here is a close up of the two skeins. You can click to biggify. The color of both of these photos has been adjusted, trying to get a closer approximation of the beautiful golden color.

I'm way happier now - thank you Patsy :-)

And sorry, Yarnsnob, this silk's staying with me ;-D

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tesu Trauma . . .

Crap, crap and double crap.

The Merino/Silk that was dyed in the Tesu is moderately felted after all . . . I looked at it and thought that the skeins were looking a LOT shorter than what I started with. So it definitely shrank (shrunk?) and moderately felted. Crap.

It's still drying, and I've been able to pull a number of the strands apart so far, but it's definitely not the beautiful silky yarn it was when I started. In my frustration in getting the residual dye out, I was clearly too zealous in my efforts. I must have swished it around and squeezed it too much trying to get the water to run clear.

It should be interesting winding it into yarn cakes. Oh well - live and learn. On the up side, the color is looking to be beautiful, and I'm sure I'm going to be able to figure out something to do with it.

And on the double plus side, at least the stuff dyed in Indigo has quit stinking to high heaven.
Thank The Lord.

Here are the blues. Since we had only one dye this time, Toni gave us three different samples of yarn to dye in it. I also dyed another skein of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace. This one was the Somerset colorway - pale blue and green. There were some red dye splotches - it was a mill end. So I dyed it blue. You can still see some green, however, and I have no idea how that's even possible - I dipped this a number of times. Oh well. That's the first yarn on the left. Next is the Falklands superwash that we used for all the other classes. It took the dye the best. The third is a yarn called Great Wall, which has bamboo in it, and the final yarn is Deschutes silk. Each one different - all lovely and (I suppose) worth that nasty stink :-D

Here are two more photos - since there haven't been any for a bit. Here's my wonderful shelf, that I love and that was well worth cleaning up :-) Forgive the clutter - you can see I really do have a "basement" basement. You'll just have to imagine it with my soap-making supplies. Over the weekend I was the happy recipient of about 100 pounds of two different oils! That's a really lot of oil . . . I'm going to have a LOT of practice bars of soap.


And Michelle - this photo is for you. This is the yarn spun up from roving (Braveheart's, yes?) that you sent me for Christmas. It is so springy and fluffy - and I spun it worsted and it's still really poofy. It's got great loft and although it's not next-to-skin for me, I think it would be for the average bear. It's pretty darn soft. And it's bright white. I mean white! What a lovely gift you gave me :-) I've gotten pretty good at spinning Shetland, thanks to you!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Indigo Dye, Part II

Actually, this part is about the Tesu that Toni, up at The Fold, set up for me yesterday to overdye the Silk/Merino that I dyed in chamomile last month. I have been rinsing the yarn for more than an hour and it's STILL releasing dye. However - I'm done. I got as much dye out of it as I could, and now it's sitting in a vinegar bath in the hopes that that will set it and it will be done. It's amazing that it's not felted for as much as I squeezed it and rinsed it in constantly changing temps for the past hour and a half.

Yes, at least and hour and half. I have used up all the hot water in the house . . . Which means that that stinky cat pee Indigo yarn is going to have to wait until the water heats up again before I can wash it and get it's horrid smell out . . . It's in the basement now.

There is, however, good news in all of this. I cleaned up the old laundry tubs in the basement because rinsing out this dye in my all-white kitchen just did not seem like a functional plan. I also got my old restaurant rack shelf in from the garage and cleaned that up (6 years of kitchen grease from a former tenant and it sat in the garage for 3 years . . . ). That was a job in itself and entailed the rubber mallet hammer to get bits of it back to how it should be, and then a wash with Dawn, and then a complete coating of Goo Gone, and then working that in and around the nooks and crannies (no English muffins just greasy gunk) to get all grease off. Then another wash with Dawn and a rinse.

It looks pretty damn good for being at least 18 years old!

It's been quite a day - and I have new found respect for indie dyers, like Perfect Day Yarns and Tempted Yarns. Sarah and Stacy, you guys rock hard. I'm going to leave dying to the experts from now on. I loved the classes I took and I feel like I learned a lot, so really, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I gained knowledge and the certainty that I don't want to do this again :-D any natural yarn I spin is going to stay natural from now on!

Indigo Dye . . .

. . . smells like cat pee.

OMG it's freakin' horrible. 9 more hours to oxidize . . . :-S

Photos soon - thankfully NOT in smell-o-rama.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring . . . ?

It snowed here yesterday on the first day of Spring. It's gone now, but it was not a very nice day. Today, however, the sun is attempting to shine, although I think it's still pretty chilly out. Still being in my jams, I haven't gone out to check :-D

I relish the weekend days that I can spend just relaxing - today, for example.

Yesterday I went with all my tax paperwork to my accountant and got that chore accomplished. I really left it too late this year - I spent my Thursday night sorting paperwork, and all day Friday worrying that I was going to be up all night long getting everything ready.

Thankfully the reality was more pleasant. I got everything sorted and put together and spreadsheets made on Friday night (do I know how to have fun on a Friday or what?!) and got in the car, in the crappy weather to head up to my accountant on Saturday afternoon.

The news was good. I figure any time I don't have to pay, it's good news :-D

Then, I spent a rather low-key Saturday night - with DVDs and fiber and a little bit of cleanup with the violets. This hasn't been finished yet, but this is about 170 yards of Miss Babs Blue Face Leicester top. It's 3-ply. I think it's still too fat for sock yarn. I have three more bumps of this, so will spin it all up the same. The colorway is Forest Afternoon.

I finally got enough time last night to watch Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, a Bollywood film with Shahrukh Khan (known in the Bollywood world as SRK). It's really quite good. Here's one of my favorite songs from it, Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai. I keep watching it :-D and here is the final dance - but if you're going to watch the film (Amy!) don't watch this one. There's also a great item number, Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte, where SRK dances with pretty much every current leading lady in Bollywood! I continue to love the films of SRK. Pretty much every one I've seen so far I have thought was well worth the time - most Bollywood films are about 3 hours long . . . The colors and the dancing and the unabashed love stories are such a good way to escape for a few hours . . . India is next on my list of places to visit (after Morocco :-) ). I know, I know, the real India is not the fantasy seen in a Bollywood film, but I've long felt the pull of India - and not just to see the country. There is a spiritual tug there for me, too. Not sure what that's all about, but I plan to go - maybe next year . . . :-)

Here's the bread basket I made last weekend in Missouri. It's better looking in person :-) I soaked the blue reeds (not knowing I was not supposed to . . . ) and their color ran a bit. But I like it anyway and it's not bad for my first effort :-)

I've spent some time today getting stuff into Ravelry - mostly the magazines and books I got last week, but will also be adding the fiber and yarn I got during my dispensation from stash busting. Just general cleaning up and putting away. I have a baby sock to kitchener, and another BSJ to start (people around me keep having babies!), and two Cedar Leaf Shawls to finish up. And my St. Brigid is finally calling my name again . . . Soon, I think. Soon . . .

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hangin' in Missouri . . .

I just got back from a wonderful weekend with the Fiber Folks of Southwest Missouri Guild. I call them the Missouri Fiber Gang :-D Here they are. All amazing women who I got to meet a few years ago when I was a very new spinner. They welcomed me to a spinning workshop held by their Guild a few years ago - I drove all the way to Lamar, Missouri for the chance to study with Anne Field. Judy, Darlene, Leslie, Karen, Betty, Robin, Joi and me! I'm missing a few (sorry Jonee, Mary and Janet). This was actually the last photo I took - and the old camera worked just fine ALL weekend long, thank you very much . . .

The women in this Guild are pretty amazing. Many of them have working farms and they are all gifted in many, many fiber arts. Many are also gifted teachers, and they love to share their experience and knowledge. Plus, they are all-around nice people. :-) I love seeing them - they pretty much adopted this city girl into their Guild, so it's always a distinct pleasure when I have to chance to get together with any of them.

When they suggested that I come to the Missoui Fiber Retreat the first time (the retreat is more than just their Guild), I wasn't sure, but they get some of the top people in the world in their respective fields to come and teach. And the classes are small and the cost is amazingly reasonable. I didn't go last year, because the focus was on weaving, but this year it was on spinning and dying. I was so there.

Here's a sample of what we spun in Janel Laidman's Spinning for Socks class. L to R, Blue 100% BFL in my regular size, 3-ply, cabled yarn, Merino/Tencel blend (70/30 and I was SO reminded of why I do not like to spin with Tencel . . . ), and a 3-ply yarn that seems so very overplied, but Janel assured me it would loosen when I finish it - it's a 3-ply with two of the plies being 100 Merino and one being the Tencel. It's actually very pretty, and it forced me to learn a new technique in my spinning (that of a "softer" spin and a tighter ply). It was a great class, and it really needed to be another hour or so longer.

Here are Darthknitter and Christa in Janel's sock spinning class! We had a blast all weekend long. I told Darthknitter about the retreat, and since she's from Missouri, I figured she should go. She agreed :-D Really good to see her and to meet Christa!

I loved the basket weaving class and also the soap making class. I would not buy the basket supplies to make them at home, but man, I would sign up again in a NY minute to take another class. I really liked it. The soap, however, well, I'm definitely going to be making some soap. I'm pretty excited about it and got a mold and everything! I just bought some of the recommended books off Amazon.

I know, you want to know about what I came home with. Now, this looks like a lot more than it really is. I had a dispensation from Knitterary and Amy, and I figured - use it, or lose it . . . OK - it IS alot. It takes up the entire living room sofa. Which is quite large. BUT, there's other stuff here besides yarn.

So - to break it down for you . . .

Here's the left side of the sofa. An assortment of books, including Janel Laidman's The Enchanted Sole, and the motherlode of old Spin-Offs!!! Woo Hoo!! That dark green blob is 8 skeins of Cascade 220 in green/black tweed (I already have three skeins of this). It was seven bucks a skein and 30% off of that . . . I really couldn't pass it up.

That large, cream colored blob, is 4 pounds (yes, that's a bigass bag of fiber) of Masham, which is a English rare breed wool. I was so excited to get it that I got a lot. And at 12 bucks a pound, it was a bargain. It's finished beautifully and I think it's going to be amazing to spin. Next to that is a new project bag from The Loopy Ewe (did I mention that I stopped there on the way? :-) ) and behind it are a few more books that were on sale at the retreat. Down front are the magazines.

And on the right. A Longaberger basket - something called the Medium Gathering Basket. I stopped at an antique store in Tuscola, Illinois to . . . um . . . stretch my legs, and that basket insisted on coming home with me. In the corner, is a small Hull vase in the Woodland pattern - high gloss, so made after 1950. I have a substantial collection of Hull - it's American Art Pottery - and I haven't added to it for many years. Again, the price was too good pass up. Then in the basket and in front of of it, a few things picked up at The Loopy Ewe. Some sock yarns and yes, three skeins of Wollmeise (!). Behind the basket are a few more books (on beading) and a hat pattern, and that box that's IN the basket, is a soap mold :-)

There is a recipe book and some silk hankies that I won as door prizes, another piece of Hull - this one a jardiniere in the Sueno Tulip pattern - damaged and crazed, but still a great find. There's the bread basket I made, down in front. And see those skeins?

Here, take a closer look :-) I entered two of my skeins of handspun in the skein competition. I think there were more than three in the 2-ply, wool, class :-D but even if there were not, I was thrilled to get second and third in the class. The third place yarn is some Gale's Art Black Blue Faced Leicester in The Deep Blue Sea colorway, and the second place skein is wool from my friend Michelle at Boulderneigh's former ewe, Rechel (I hope I spelled that correctly). Michelle surprised me, as she is wont to do, with a gift of some of Rechel's fleece - in a cloud - and she sent more when I was afraid I wouldn't have enough to finish for socks. I'm pretty excited that this particular skein was so well-received. Thank you, Michelle :-)

Well, I'm exhausted and I only worked a half a day today. In fact, I probably should have just stayed home all day. . . oh well. I just wanted to get some of the photos up from this wonderful weekend.

I'll write in more detail about the classes I took in the days to come :-) But for now, it's early to bed . . .

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Feelin' Kinda Silly . . .

So. Apparently my favorite camera's battery must be fully charged up at all times for the flash to work the way it should . . . this discovered after about 40 minutes chatting with a Kodak trouble-shooter. Alrighty then. Guess I forgot that rechargeable batteries don't really last forever. They only have so many charges in them. So, I'm buying a new battery.

The new charger came, which meant that I actually got to charge up the battery so I could actually talk to Kodak about it. The other positive of that is: FINALLY, here are some photos to catch up from the past weeks. :-)

First: The reds from the first dye class at the end of January. The darkest red is Lac (2 skeins). The red red is cochineal (3 skeins) and the orangey one is madder (1 skein).

Each of the test skeins are 60 yards, so I have 360 yards of sport weight, Falklands yarn here. I'm not much on colorwork, but I'm thinking that's got to be enough for something kind of nifty - I thought maybe socks, but also maybe mittens or something like that . . . any ideas?

And here are the yellows from the February class. On the left is Tesu. We were not sure about this one at all in class, but it dried this luminous shade of golden yellow. It's so gorgeous - this photo does not do it justice. In the middle is chamomile (the yellowest of the three) and on the right is weld. Again, the same sportweight Falklands yarn. Again, I have 6 total skeins, 2 of each color, so another 360 yards.

So - some yarn came in to the house, but Knitterary and Miss Amy, I didn't actually buy it - it was a by-product of my class :-)

Here is the Gemini silk/merino blend that I died in the chamomile. It is a pale, buttery yellow. But I like the Tesu so much that instead of going with indigo to get green as was my original thought, I'm going to re-mordant and overdye it in Tesu. I know it will be a lighter shade (silk is like that), but I think it has the capacity to be stunning in that golden color. Cross your fingers!

And how about a project for ME for once? I contemplated gifting these, but I really do like them. Just a simple 2x2 rib with my new favorite eye-of-partridge heel. The yarn is Alchemy's Juniper, in the "The Night Air" colorway, purchased from one of my favorite places, The Loopy Ewe.

This yarn knits up beautifully and has a great feel to it. It's 100% Merino, superwash, and it never really pooled at all. The only strikes against it are that it's quite spendy. $16/skein, (you need two to make a pair of socks), and the yardage is a little stingy in my opinion - 232/skein. I had very little left of each skein at the end of these socks for my size 9 feet.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend, Do What You Wanna Do . . .

A blast from the past . . . there was a video of this but it was so horrible :-D I just remember the song. Fondly. :-D

So - whatchuwannado? Got big plans?

Haircut for me and FINALLY the trip to REI that I've been attempting to do for two weeks now. The possibility of an Oscar party on Sunday, and I would like to spin the other half of that bump of fiber. Oh, and I made my tax appointment, so I'll be drowning in paperwork! But I'd like to get it all together now so I'm not scrambling at the last minute.

I'm really excited for this weekend because the weatherman says we will be in the 40s and I'm SO READY FOR THIS SNOW TO MELT AND BE GONE!!!!! Geez. I love all four seasons, but the ground has been white for what seems like months. I'm tired of wearing hiking boots everywhere, so yesterday I wore my tennis shoes to walk to work. A little chilly on the toes, but I was so happy to not feel like Nanook of the North.

Managed to get these out of the camera. I never have found the battery charger so I broke down and bought a new one - which is on its way. But I got the card reader to work. The new camera . . . I'm not loving the viewfinder, which is the entire reason I got it. But I'm thinking that I will use it anyway and see if I can learn to use just the LCD screen - I'm thinking my photos are always better, however, if I can frame them properly through the lens with a viewfinder. I don't know why all the companies are only keeping the viewfinder on their most expensive, most bulky models . . . it's aggravating.

It's the Cedar Shawlette pattern. It's great and easy, and talk about a stash buster!! Woo Hoo!! I made them as scarves, using sock yarn instead of worsted. Love it! This first one was made with Koigu KPPPM. One and a half skeins, and the leaves are made with JWrayco's Scottish Collection. Both yarns are hand wash only, so that worked out well - I love the colors and initially was making this for myself, but I gifted it to a friend of mine in Colorado. You MUST block this to get the leaves to lie down. I did find that the garter stitch band has a tendency to want to roll over, even with blocking. I have two more of these on the needles, but if I make another, I would do 7 rows of garter instead of 6, so that it would bend the other way and hopefully stay flat.

Here is my second one. Color is a little bright, but true - that's the wonky flash on the old camera (I swear, I'm going to spend the money to get it fixed . . . ). This one is made with Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn that was a gift to me (thanks YarnSnob! (are you EVER going to blog again?!)).

It was the perfect colors for my friend, C, in Colorado. I was a little worried about the mohair content, but it seems that most people are not nearly as sensitive to the "itch factor" as I am. She loves it! In fact, she put it on immediately and wore it all weekend! The leaves on this one are Colinette Jitterbug.

So, that's really all the news from The Third Coast today - have a great weekend and do what you wanna do ;-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Zucchini 1: Banana Zip

So - there's a loaf of zucchini bread in the freezer and one partially eaten one in the fridge. There was success yesterday with quick breads. But geez - I am reminded of why I didn't do this for a long time. Zucchini bread is deadly good . . . yeah, I ate way more than my share, and had a couple of slices for breakfast today!

This, coupled with my not being able to walk on the treadmill right now does not bode well for the size of my ass. :-D

I'm still struggling with plantar fasciitis, and have realized that walking on the treadmill is not helping. So, my feet are getting a serious rest, I'm still taking lots of Advil (note to self: Please do not forget to take your Advil . . . you know what happens when you do that . . . ), and I know that eventually they will be OK again. I'm not interested in cortisone injected into my heels, thank you very much. Some people say they work. Some say they don't. ALL people say they are screamingly painful (not for me, thank you very much). So the universe is teaching me patience in a very graphic and immediate way . . .

I'll be back on the bike tomorrow - I was giving my spine a rest. I twisted on the plane home last week and aggravated my ruptured disks. It's always amazing to me how fragile we humans really are . . . So, been practicing radical self-care this last week in particular :-)

The yellow dying class up at The Fold was wonderful - a very nice, small group of students - we had a great time. Everything is rinsed and finished and drying on the floor of the guest room and I'm looking forward to next month's indigo class.

I'm also still looking for the camera battery charger . . .

Still a ton of snow on the ground here - I keep hoping it's going to melt soon.

I pulled out my Lendrum yesterday and started on a bump of fiber that came from my friend, Michelle at Boulderneigh. It's beautiful - from her ram, Braveheart. I spun half of it, and will finish up the other half this week and ply. Good for me to get my hands on the wheel again - I'm headed for the Missouri Fiber Retreat in a few weeks! Yay!

Oh, just in case you wanted to know - Smuckers makes an organic preserve without HFCS. Heinz makes organic ketchup less the HFCS. It's just a matter of reading the labels (and paying a little more, I guess) - and if anyone knows a bran that can be used for making bran muffins, please advise, because the All Bran I used to use has HFCS in it and you already know how I feel about that . . .