Sunday, March 26, 2006

The peace of simple things.....

I was craving a simple project that I could squeeze in a few minutes here and there. Something soothing that requires little thought but was a nice stress reliever and the beautiful Red Socks seemed just the ticket. I wasn't sure if the over-dyed Opal yarn would have any type of self-patterning show-through so a simple pattern would be perfect. I chose the Twisted Socks stitch pattern for petite cable ribs. It is a 2-row, 4-stitch cable pattern repeat which fits the simplicity level I was looking for but the texture of the stitch is great in this yarn. Much better than my photography skills show.

This week was also my brother's birthday. I had made a necklace for him about 5 or 6 years ago that he really loved. He loved it so much in fact he never took it off - literally.
He wore it from the time I gave it to him until the link on the clasp just broke. Slept in it, showered in it, swam in the ocean in it, you name it for over 1500 straight days. I'd say that's a damn fine track record for my workmanship if I do say so myself. It's Black Onyx and Tabacco Jasper and he gets it back for his birthday week.

Add a couple of tributes to Red - kind of an easy one for me, my whole bedroom is red. Did I mention it's my favorite color?? :)

And for future thoughts, Marina mentioned a tutorial on dyeing in response to my last post. Sounds like a mighty fine idea to me. I'll put some thought into it and see what I come up with. Hopefully soon.

Lorraine also mentioned lure coursing for greyhounds - where they chase the little bunny around the track. I'm not aware of any tracks in my area where they can race just for fun, so the girls only get to run at the dog park. Greyhounds at the track run at speeds of around 45 miles an hour, I'm not sure what speeds she gets in the field but she does leave all the rest of the doggies at the park far behind in her dust. If you've ever been curious, you can see their stats online. My girl Kya ran 82 races in her career but I think she is preferring her retirement. At least based on the sounds of the snores, it sure sounds like she is.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Remember the Shetland Lace I was playing with a few weeks ago? While I love the moorit shade of Mariah's fleece, it is not a shade that I am likely to wear in a shawl. I decided to try dye colors. The first try was a shade of Red - appropriate for Project Spectrum in March. I like the shade I came up with - deeper and darker with a definite blue red tone even over the browns. I have a great deal of fun playing mad scientist in the dye pot but this is the first time I was trying to counter balance the original shade of the wool. What I didn't want was a brownish red - blood color. I can't wear that shade either.

So, while the shade turned out beautifully, the yarn itself shrank up a bit making it a bit thicker than when it was spun - more like a fingering weight than a lace weight. Very good to know before I spun up a ton and had it turn out way heavier than I wanted.

I played a bit with Sharon Millers Daisy Shawl pattern. I tried a little first in a stockinette stitch but I didn't care for it in this yarn. I re-did it in a garter stitch and I like that much better in this yarn but it's still not great. It is good enough to practice a bit with reading lace charts. After working on the fair isle pattern charts, training the eye to read the lace chart back and forth feels really odd. I'll probably continue with this for awhile as practice then frog it and use the yarn in socks.

I need to find a way to add a bit of sheen or something to the shetland. The dyed color is a bit flat and the subtle shade differences leveled out. It spins so much easier natural than if I dye if first but I may have to in order to get a nice blended depth. Something to play with some more.

As for the pretty red sock yarn, I finally got that untangled - finally. Tangles are really icky for the record. Really icky. But I won the battle and there wasn't even any damage, I was so surprised! Very pleasantly surprised! As a reward to the goofy doggies that had so much fun causing said icky tangle, we have been spending some excellent quality time at the dog park. It's been not too awful cold and not muddy so they've been spoiled every day. The park I take them to is huge - perfect for letting a greyhound stretch her legs and fly like the wind! I marvel at her as she races the entire field for the sheer joy of running. She is so beautiful, maybe I'll figure out how to catch a picture of her soon - so far I just have blurs :)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Greyhounds are Swift!

Just not the "swift" I was really looking for!
Here lies the aftermath of curiosity. Someone decided to help me out with my Red project for March. Someone that also has a love of yarn. Someone that gleefully tosses skeins to the ceiling so she can pounce on them and bring the 'dead thing' to mama. Someone affectionately known as "Nose".
The same someone you see here sucking up with big brown eyes and kisses as if to say "I'm sorry mama!" as she sees me cringe and give her "the look".

Sensing my displeasure, her sister is quick with hugs and the "I didn't do it!" plea. She is off the hook this time as the evidence was clearly tangled in Nose's toes. It appears that the bulk of my Red project for March's Project Spectrum will be the meditative peace of untangling skeins. Don't mind the screams, it's nothing, really........>twitch<

Edit: Just to make sure no one misunderstands, the story is for humor purposes - no doggies were even reprimanded during the course of tangle scenario - they just have very expressive eyes. The yarn on the other hand....... ;-)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shaping, shaping, and more shaping

The sock she is resting. Busy weekend and totally knit-less.
Socks are usually my traveling project but these are a bit much for that. I'm back to swatching for a bit to save the frogging. My challenge is still just getting my head around managing the striping while merging the heel into the arch shaping and predicting what may happen when I get to those toes, because someday really, I will get to those toes. It will be a glorious day too. I will smile, the sun will shine, the birds will sing, and we'll......... sorry, Disney moment. It will be cool though, really, it will. I do look at the book periodically and think to myself, "Self, if you had picked any of the other versions of this sock, you wouldn't have to contend with the two color foot and would probably be done by now." Then I laugh and think "Well, what fun would that have been???"

Rosemarkie is still growing. I made a little progress yesterday and it is now close enough to completion to do body checks - not like I can try it on or anything, I do still have arms myself, but holding it up folded on the center steek and comparing it to the shoulder seam on the sweater I am actually wearing, and I have about 2 repeats left before the neck shaping. That's 44 rows people! 44 rows, that's enough to be count down rows. That's low enough to feel "close". Then I would have 9 rows for the neck shaping. THEN I can cut it!!! Oooo head rush....... OK, I'll slow down for now.

BUT - speaking of nearing the end of the shoulders, I have of course been doing more thinking and I am hoping to end the knitting in the middle of one of the color bands so the shoulders look balanced from front to back. I am also thinking about Janine, the Feral Knitteress, and her notes on Shoulder Shaping which make a bunch of sense. The question becomes, do I want to learn short rows, short rows in the round, and short rows in color stranding before finishing this vest so that I can use this technique? Maybe I am square and don't need shaping? Maybe I should try to knit a pattern as written, just once for comparison sake? Maybe I should acknowledge that this is only my second sweater and I really don't have to learn every possible technique on it? Maybe I will conquer the crazy short rows and then it will confuse me on the edging later? Maybe I should start looking into lifelines because I am nuts and may do it anyway? What do you think - should I go with the short row shoulder shaping or save that for the next project?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I see.........Red!

Bold, brash, rich, fiery, luscious, ripe, hot, powerful, deep Red!Project Spectrum is a neat concept in that there is nothing specifically required. That fits real well with my creativity style. My world is a celebration of color so I thought it would be fun to stretch this fiber blog a bit with images from that world. It is also nice to have something to prod me into challenging my view and shaking out any complacency.

Since I have a shortage of hand knit socks, this is always a candidate for expression. (Shortage meaning that I am required to actually own store bought socks for any reason) And for The Hammy, the yarn is Opal, I'm not sure which goofy pattern, over dyed in deep Red. It's custom from my local yarn shop and has been in my stash (hahaha) for a while. "Stash" and "A while" being relative here. I had nothing but problems with this yarn when I first purchased it. It knit like cotton - zero elasticity - and I thought it was awful, but pretty. Looks lovely lying about in the foyer don't you think?

Well in honor of Red and Pink, I re-skeined in, split it into equal parts for each sock, and re-washed it. That was exactly what it seemed to need. I don't know what they did to it when they dyed it but it shrank up significantly as it dried and regained it's bounce. My size zero needles are empty at the moment so if I can decide on a simple pattern that goes well with it, I may just start another pair of socks. I wonder if I'm so attached to my handknit socks because that was the first "item" I ever knit? Like comfortable old friends maybe. Maybe it's just because it is Michigan and March and my feet get cold if they aren't in wool socks!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Victory and Defeat

Victory - MS-FIFFAS are progressing well. I figured out the trick with the heel turn in two colors, picked up the gusset stitches and made some modifications. I am re-working the calculation charts as I get through the gusset and begin the arch shaping. (yeah!!) I am also re-working the calculations for the arch shaping, they seem to be off. I've modified it but I'm also checking with Meg. The new challenge is that of maintaining gauge. The pattern stitches change to simple stripes with the exception of a panel down the instep. The simple stripes knit to a tighter gauge than the the cuff pattern stitches did, so I'm playing with stitch counts and tension right now. Normally I would frog back to the cuff and start over with the modifications, but the modifications I think of making change as each part develops and changes the tension on the stitches. Because of this, I am going to continue through the foot and keep meticulous notes. I'm hoping to draft a new pattern from these notes and prove it out in a second pair of my own design. Stay tuned! I can't wait to see how this arch shaping turns out.

Victory - I'm down to the last 6 inches on Rosemarkie. (here scissors scissors scissors) I know, they are taking forever. One of these days I will catch up to you all and knit with lightning quick fingers while paying no heed. You just wait! Oh yeah, you're already doing that right!?! Marina posted a great pictorial on steek cutting. I know, she just keeps rubbing it in that she gets to cut stuff every other week! If you've ever been nervous about the steeking process, check out her posts. They make it seem so matter of fact you can't wait to get your hands on the scissors. Oh, and while you are there, tell her how "not creative" she is, yeah, you just tell her - HA!!!! Beautiful work missy! You inspire me all the time.

Defeat with potential Victory - The other interview from before the trip to Texas? - they love me, think I'm fantastic, say I interview like a champ, great leadership skills, never miss a beat and show all the wonderful qualities they want on their team.......... and they hired someone else. Ready? You know it's coming - Yep, because I'm "over qualified". Now, this one is true - but we discussed it in the interview!! She said they are trying to get another position pushed through that will be more appropriate for my "leadership qualities". Now everyone say it with me - HURRY!!

And a note for The Hammy who asked about the alpaca. It is 3ply Superfine Prime Alpaca, 650 yards from Heritage Spinning and Weaving. They must get it in bulk because they re-label it with their name on the tags. We'll see what I manage to do to it.

Many thanks to everyone for their suggestions on the references for Lace Edgings, I really appreciate it. Now I'm armed and almost dangerous :)