Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Beginning

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I have two new WIPs to share with you today. I've also been working on the Portland sweater...I may be halfway done with the back, which is exciting because that means it is almost done!!! Now what cable sweater will I make next??

Anyway....two new WIPs. The first one is from the Little Box of Socks and is called the Faceted Rib sock. I've sort of blown off the directions and am just using the actual Faceted Rib pattern on a toe-up sock. I love toe-up, using Judy's magic cast on and the increase directions from Sensational Knitted Socks. Anyway, the faceted rib adds a bit of zing to a self-striping sock yarn, and I'm pleased with the results. The yarn itself is Vesper Sock Yarn in Love Stinks Yeah Yeah.

I like the Vesper: love the colors but not crazy about the base yarn, so average it out and it is like.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I'm also making progress on the Ahlstrom Bodice from the new issue of KnitScene. I haven't been a big KnitScene fan, but this one looks almost exactly like some of my favorite issues of IK. This bodice is knit with three colors (the pattern calls for four, but that is way too crazy for me. The back (which I've finished) is solid off white. The front has a panel of navy, light blue and off white ad then a side bit of off white. The original pattern called for three different colors in the panel.

The yarn is Elsebeth Lavold Silky wool, which I used to just like but now I love (maybe I should start the Kim Knits Yarn Rating Scale?). Love the colors, love how the yarn feels, love how it is to work with.

Obviously I have miles to go on Ahlstrom but stay tuned!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Public Service Announcements!

Originally uploaded by kbshee
1. If you love Rowan yarns, you probably already know about the eBay seller Jeannette's Rare Yarns. Well, Jeanette is opening an online shop that will be up and running at the end of the week! She has good prices on her yarns, fast shipping from the UK to the US, and is lovely to work with. I'm a happy JRY customer.

The URL is www.jannettesrareyarns.co.uk .

2. Also this week, I'm anxiously awaiting the first issue of Twist Collective (www.twistcollective.com). This new online magazine is the brainchild of Julia F-C and Kate Gilbert (of Arwen fame). The first issue promises a design by Kate, as well as socks by Cookie A and Cat Bordhi. I think it goes up either Thursday or Friday, and I just can't wait.

3. Finally, if you have any ideas on how to photograph my completed Rivendells, let me know. The flash makes the pattern disappear, and not using a flash makes the pattern sort of fade away. I know Bonnie's idea will be to send them to her in Costa Rica for photographing under the tropical sun, but other suggestions are welcome too.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You would even say they glow

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I knit these socks up pretty quickly...the basic sock recipe, toe up, knit with Panda Cotton from Crystal Palace. Love the yarn...it is a little springy, which makes it fun to knit with and even fun to wear, and very light weight which makes it a nice change for summer knitting. Some have accused this yarn of being a bit splitty but I didn't have that problem at all. I really enjoyed knitting these socks, and I'm off to figure out what else I can make from the Panda Cotton in my stash!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yarn in the Trees

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I did some more dyeing yesterday, and the maple in our front yard served as a drying stand for me. I did quite a bit yesterday, including 8 ounces of sock yarn, two fleeces, and two sock blanks.

You can see the stripey sock blank on the left hand side of the picture. The other one was a mess when I tried it the first time and so I just threw it in the cochineal pot at the end of the day. I don't think sock blanks are made for natural dyes, and I know they aren't made for my messy dyeing process!

Anyway, the colors yesterday were cochineal and logwood.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Two sock yarns (well, actually one sock yarn, a half pound of something wool from yarn2dye4). The top is dyed with cochineal, mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. The bottom one is logwood, with same mordant. The logwood was simmered for a bit and left to soak overnight; the cochineal simmered for about 45 minutes and it was done.

And yes, the top one looks like it became all deskeined (a new word? I think so!!) and should be a disaster to get into a ball. Luckily, I know someone who lives to detangle!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's the Madder?

Originally uploaded by kbshee
As I blathered on about yesterday, I dyed some yarn with Madder. Madder is a plant (duh) and the dye is in the roots of the plant. I bought some dried roots from Hillcreek Fiber Studio, and then threw them in a pot and boiled them a bit, then added the fiber to the pot and let the whole shebang (fiber, dye and roots) soak overnight. That treatment resulted in the coppery yarn on the right.

I took out the yarn, and added in washing soda, which brings out the pinks in dyestuff. I then returned the left hand yarn (fingering weight) into the dyepot and let it soak another eight hours. I probably could have deepened the color with a longer soak but I get antsy.

I'm pretty pleased with this, and am going to try the 'two step' dying with a couple other colors that I have. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Handspun, anyone?

Originally uploaded by kbshee
A summary of my fibery Saturday:

1. I bought some hand painted roving in bright bright colors on etsy and spun up half of it yesterday. This is the result. It is reds, purples, yellows and oranges, and I navajo plied it and did a pretty good job. I'm hoping that between this and my dark purple handspun I have enough for a pair of mittens, and I think I will.

2. I did some dyeing yesterday too...I tried two skeins in a pot with madder. One thing about natural dyeing (well, two things)...everyone has different directions about how to use natural dyes, and every natural dyestuff has different 'rules'. One of the madder rules is that you shouldn't boil it (and while there are a dozen different ways to dye with madder, everyone agrees on this rule). So I did an overnight soak with two skeins. One is a coral orange, and it is drying outside now. I put the other skein back in the pot with some washing soda (here's the chemistry stuff) which brings out the pink in the madder. So that's soaking now and should be an pinky-orangey-red. Pictures tomorrow.

3. I mordanted the Knit Picks sock blanks, and they started to unravel. Sight. Knit picks, I want to love you but I can't. I'll buy blanks from various other online vendors in the future.

4. I have left the sleeve Vortex on the Portland sweater! Yay!

5. Various other knitting bits and pieces to show you in the days to come.

6. Off to kayak now.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dye, Dye, My Darling

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Ok. So I did the natural dye thing.

Quick backstory: three years ago I thought I'd try dyeing with natural dyestuffs (flowers, bark, bugs). I bought a kit from some yarnshop in Missouri (email or comment me if you want to know the name and I'll look it up) and undyed wool and fibers. Then, I broke my collarbone. Then, I went back to work. Then, a bunch more time passed. Then, it was yesterday.

I thought I'd finally give it a try. Honestly, though, it would be much easier if I just bought those full o'chemicals professional dyes and just squeezed 'em on the fiber. 'Cause natural dyeing? You have to do math and science and stuff and its not just a day fingerpainting.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
And I pretty much did it the easy way. I used three natural materials: cochineal (bugs), logwood, and brazilwood, and basically just had to dissolve the powdered dyestuff in boiling water and put it in a big jar. Then I had to mordant the fiber...more fibers won't just naturally soak up natural dyes, they have to have a little helper treatment, specifically in my case heating the fiber in a big pot of alum and baking soda. So all that happened in pre-dye day.

On dyeing day, I laid out the roving on top of a table covered in layers of newspaper and saranwrap. I then used turkey basters to trasfer the dye from the big jars to the fiber, then wrapped up the fiber and put it in a canning rack in the dye pot where an inch or so of water started to simmer. (I also did some sock blanks that aren't quite as colorful as the roving).

Originally uploaded by kbshee
The packages of dyed fiber sit in the steam bath for a few hours, and then I let them cool off. Then the moment of truth...the rinse...which should be basically clear water, which tells you that all the dye has indeed been absorbed. Then the roving hang in a tree outside and dried, and finally today it was dry enough to take a picture.

Two reds and a purple. Not bad. Not as bright and vibrant as I would like but it is natural dyes and thus tend to be a bit subdued. But I learned a lot, I have more sock blanks and some undyed sock yarn, and I will live to dye another day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One Rivendell!

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Things have been very fibery around my house lately, as I've knitted, I've spun, and today I began a new adventure...dyeing with natural dyes. Results tomorrow (and they may be horrible, so keep that in mind).

I finished the first Rivendell, and it is a thing of beauty if I do say so myself. I love this pattern, the yarn, and Janel Laidman is awesome!

The second one is cast on and I'm done with the 'honeycombs'. This one did not go so smoothly....I was all thumbs when I was knitting the clusters (the technique involves moving a set of stitches to a cable needle, wrapping the stitches like you're tying up a bundle of strings, and then knitting the stitches). I just could not get the tension right on the wraps. Oh well. Live and learn. It still looks beautiful though...I may be all thumbs but its a foolproof technique.

I forgot to mention we took the kayaks out to Blue River Reservoir last Sunday, trying to escape the heat. It was just as hot up there, and we also faced a pretty stiff wind (for kayakers) on the Reservoir, but we still had a good time.

Now, I need your help. I'm on the hunt for grapey colored sock yarn. I know my mad dyeing skilz suggest that I could dye some yarn with KoolAid, which I might do, but does anyone have a favorite really, really deep purple yarn? Let me know!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Who's Your Daddy...and Your Mummy?

Originally uploaded by kbshee
When you own a mixed breed dog, you get asked a lot what the dog is. Early on in Cody's life, Tim came up with the answer 'red' for Cody, and that seems to appease most people (some of whom probably think Red is a breed, like Rhedd or something like that). With Juneau, we tend to say 'part lab' since that seems fairly obvious.

Recently, a few different companies have cropped up offering to do a DNA test on your dog to figure out their breed history. We found a company called Biopet that seemed fairly reasonably priced (compared to the one touted at our Vet's, which is called Wisdom or something like that). So a couple of weeks ago, we swabbed both dog's cheeks and sent them off to Biopet. And today we got the results.

Juneau (on the bottom, in case you're new to the blog) is a mix of Lab, Doberman Pinscher and Norwegian Elkhound (!!!!). A year ago, our vet Priscilla predicted she would have some northern dog in her, and Norwegian Elkhound seems to fit the bill. So her dna test seems to make a lot of sense.

Cody, on the other hand, is much more complex. He's a pretty mixed-up mix of the following dogs:
Dachshund (did Cody have extra 'd' in the dna?)
Pomeranian and
Shih Tzu.

We find the final four pretty hard to believe (and I find it all hard to believe, since I was predicting Rhodesian Ridgeback for years). We have found a few pics of Keeshonds with reddish brown fur (mostly they're black and grey) and can believe he's a bit of that, but we were surrpised there was no Golden or Lab or Sheltie in him. Oh well. Now we know (or do we?).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Frog knit

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Here are the frogged socks...not frogged in a traditional knitting sense, but the frog colorway from the WoolGirl Sock club. Fun to knit, hopefully fun to wear once winter gets here.

But for now, it is truly summer here in Oregon...hot days, cool nights, and beautiful blue skies. We took a hot midday walk with the dogs yesterday and I collected a lot of wildflowers to see if they'll work for natural dyes (um, not so much). We bought a glider for our front garden and Tim put it together and we sat and glided on it for a while in the evening.

And to celebrate summer summer summer, I cast on for a pair of cotton socks using Panda cotton.

I also finished that purple sweater, which I love but weight a TON and so won't model it for a while.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Time and Knitting

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Knitting, I've found has its own rules of time. Two stand out in particular for me. First is the sleeve vortex. I've posted about this before, and if you've ever knit something with sleeves you've experienced this phenomenon of time. It takes forever, forever, to get through the sleeves. You could have knit many, many fronts and backs, as well as a few pairs of socks and some gloves and even a Mystery Stole or two during the same amount of time that it takes you to knit sleeves.

And the other one, which I've experienced a few times, is the "nothing is close to being doneohmygod look all these things are done" phenomenon. You know that one. Anyway, in the last 18 hours two projects became done or close to done. First, you see here the cardigan I've been working on. It needs seaming together, which for some reason no longer strikes fear into my heart. Off to do some pinning now (that's pinning, not spinning). Oh, and I forgot to tell you that Cody and Juneau both had good reports from the Vet this week. Yay them! And George, our Economic stimulus check that is in the mail and supposed to arrive today? Didn't. Guess the PO needs some economic stimulus too.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Like a Record Baby

Originally uploaded by kbshee
You know it is summer when I have time to spin. This is some red and white candystriped yarn from the Bellwhether. I don't even know what the actual type of wool is I"ll find it some where. Anyway, it is nice and it is fun to get back into spinning. I'd like to spin some beaded yarn and I might try with the second ply on this one. I like spinning. I don't love spinning...I get sort of bored and can only spin for 20 minutes or so before I'm antsy. I guess I could spin while watching a movie, but that time is usually saved for projects with cables. Anyway. Luckily, for me, spinning is like riding a bicycle. There's very little 'ramping up' time even when I haven't spun for long stretches.

I'm also going to do some natural dyeing this summer. I bought a kit from Hillcreek Fiber studio three years ago and it arrived right before I broke my collarbone. But I'm going to try it...we'll see what happens.

Monday, July 07, 2008

More Rivendell

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I turned the heel on my first Rivendell, and so far so good! There are three of these motifs on the sock, cleverly places so there is one on either side of the leg, sort of toward the front, and one in the back. The ribbing is a ktbl p2 ribbing (so does that really even qualify as ribbing? Not sure) which should be mindless knitting but for some reason it isn't for me. Ah well. It's the tbl thing that is throwing me off.

I continue enjoying the knitting of these socks (how awkward is that sentence?).

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Slow Road to Portland

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I've been working on the Portland sweater....

..honest, i have!

...for much of the summer (so far). It is going to be gorgeous when it is done. But right now I'm in the middle of the sleeve vortex and I'm wondering if I really will ever be done.

And of course I know I will, but sometimes, when it takes an hour to knit four rows on the sleeves....it doesn't seem like it.

I'm not one of those people who has a problem knitting wool stuff in the summer...actually I kind of like it, mostly because I know that they'll be done in time for sweater season. And I have enough yarn in the stash for several others sweaters from "A Fine Fleece", so I guess I'd like to finish it sooner rather than later.

The yarn: Rowan Felted Tweeed in Treacle, bought for the cheap from somebody on Ravelry.

In more news: guess what? Juneau is not only afraid of thunderstorms, she's also afraid of fireworks. I guess we should have figured that out. So we've had maybe two non-Juneau-in-bed nights this week. We're looking forward to the weekend being over and life getting back to normal, whatever that might mean.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Images of the 4th

Originally uploaded by kbshee
It was an odd July 4th this year...Tim has a booth at the Art and the Vineyard festival so I was on my own for a lot of the day. It is the first holiday in many years that we haven't spent time together. Usually we don't go overboard on holidays, but at least we try to do something special together.

But I persevered. I knit so much that my wrists are a bit sore today...I knit a bit on four of the five projects that I have going on right now. I spent most of the time on the sleeves for my Portland sweater...sleeves, ugh. I'm a little over halfway done with them so there is a light at the end of that tunnel.

When Tim was getting ready to leave yesterday morning, we notices that a spider had spun a web in his car (he has a convertible miata. We tried a few times to get a picture and then Tim had the great idea of sprinkling some water on it...not sure if spidey thought it was that great of an idea but whatever.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I spent a few hours at Art and the Vineyard and let Tim walk around a bit. This is a festival that has about 100 artists, a bunch of food vendors, a music stage, wine sellers, a garden art section, community booths (Oregon Writers, the Raptor rescue people) and a kid's section. There were a lot of lookers yesterday but apparently not a lot of buyers. The Olympic trials brought a lot of new faces that will hopefully come back and buy some art!

Sometimes A&TV can be horribly hot, but yesterday the sun and clouds alternated throughout most of the day and today is supposed to be cloudy all day. It makes it much more bearable, especially for the artists. Tim reported that he saw several friends and neighbors...if you are in Eugene, and have nothing to do either today or tomorrow, stop by and say hey!

Originally uploaded by kbshee
As I drove home and passed the park by our house, I noticed that some of our neighborhood llamas were out for their annual amble. We live in a community called the Laurel Hill Valley where typical 'West Coast' plots (ie not a whole lot of land) coexist side by side with very large lots left over from when the original farms were split up. And parts of the neighborhood are zoned for livestock...we have a few neighbors with horses, goats, chickens and at least two llama farms. We occasionally take the dogs for a walk to see the llamas, but it is much more fun to have them visiting the park. This one is a male about 7 years old named King, and it was his first time walking on his halter. He wasn't too crazy about it, but he was very patient.

So that made it sort of a magical Fourth. Hope yours was too.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Word Cloud

Picture 3.png
Originally uploaded by kbshee
Steve found this very cool thing on the web. It's called Wordle and it creates this beautiful word cloud based on your blog (or other Internet content). If your blog has an RSS feed, all you need to do is enter your blog url and it will create the cloud for you. There are some cool customization options and it is a fun place to play.

I think the size of the word reflect how often the word shows up on the blog. Should I feel guilty that Summer and Yarn are bigger than Cody and Juneau, and which are both bigger than Tim?

My Own Private Summer of Socks

Originally uploaded by kbshee
There's this big KAL about to start (or honestly, it probably started already) called the Summer of Socks. Where people (I think) just knit socks for the summer. Very cool idea, but it wouldn't work for me since I knit socks all the time and I'd get a little bored only knitting socks in the summer.

But I have two socks to show you, anyway.

First is the first completed sock from the Woolgirl Sock Club Frogger (Froggin'? Frogged?) yarn by Dashing Dachs. This is in sport weight, which I love because it knits up lickety split. I didn't get quite the gauge to get the nice stripey pattern, and so I got a nice pooly pattern, which is fine with me.

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I know that colorway isn't to everyone's taste, and as I mentioned previously I didn't think it was mine, but the socks are just a big ball of happy fun. So on I go.

Second up is the slower-moving but so pretty Rivendell Socks from the incredible book by Janet Laidman called The Eclectic Sole. I love these socks, and I love the yarn (Twinkle Toes by Chameleon Colorworks) and I love the book. The yarn colorway is Glacier Moraine (Glacial Moraine?) and isn't quite as contrasty as the photo looks.

And I think I couldn't do lace! Ha!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm.....

I unsubscribed from a lot of email lists I was on (from online stores, mostly).
And once I did that, the spam volume on that email account went through the roof.