Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Yow, I'm so excited! Here are some photos of the self-striping Grapevine Test Yarn...

Draining in the sink after washing:

On the drying rack (a little tangled, but no felting, thank goodness):

Blurry ball photo (adding ball winder and better camera to wishlist):

Swatchy joy:

The swatch is done in two repeats of vine lace with 3 stockinette stitches on either side as a border. We likes. We likes so much, we knits new scarf. (Super-long swatch = scarf. I just can't stop knitting it.)

And I have to plug the Paton's Classic Merino. This yarn has behaved so well, through the unwinding and the balling and the skeining and the dyeing and the reskeining and the overdyeing, and especially the poking with a spoon when the dye wouldn't absorb. I was sure it would felt after that, but no. It is lovely and soft, easy to find, and not very expensive.

Still not sure about the colors tho. My sock pal likes jewel tones, and these are a bit subdued. The green is rather mossy, even muddy in some lights. I may have to mix up some more Kool-Aid and try again. In the meantime, I am keeping my eyes open. If I see the *perrrrrrfect* sock yarn at a reasonable price, I may pick that up instead.

And I am totally going to make more self-striping yarn.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It Worked!

In my frustration last night, I left the yarn-filled dye containers on the kitchen counter to figure out today. Guess what happened overnight?

It exhausted! All the yarn soaked up all the dye. I am so happy.

The green is still not what I was hoping for. It is green, but it's kind of icky green. We'll see how it looks when dry, but I think I just need to reduce the amount of purple in the dyebath.

Will try for photos soon. (so happy!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Moving on to stage two of the experimental yarn dyeing. It's not going so well.

I am trying to make self-striping yarn (see here and here). I am not worried about the length of the stripes at this point, since the experiment is mostly about color. So I took three kitchen chairs, made the biggest triangle I could with them in the kitchen and wrapped the purple-dyed yarn around. Retied the yarn at the three points, soaked it, and strung it into separate containers.

Then I added 1/3 cup of prepared Kool-Aid dye to each container, filled the rest of the way with water and started microwaving.

Now, several nuke/rest cycles later, the grape/purple container has completely exhausted, while the blue and the green both look like they have a ways to go. The purple had the most yarn in it; the green had the least.

Do I keep nuking and hope they exhaust? Will this ruin the purple?

Do I assume they have absorbed all the color they can and that's it? The blue is close to what I wanted; the green is nowhere near what I was hoping for.

What to do, what to do?

Pinky McFrog

Web fun! Found this quiz on the "And She Knits Too!" blog, and, hey! We are the same finger!

You Are a Pinky

You are fiercely independent, and possibly downright weird.
A great communicator, you can get along with almost anyone.
You are kind and sympathetic. You support all your friends - and love them for who they are.

You get along well with: The Ring Finger

Stay away from: The Thumb

I know there are projects in Frogress, but I have the "start something new" itch...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Purple Yarn Experiment

Wouldn't that be a fun band name?

Before I even signed up for Sockapalooza 4, I decided that I would dye my own yarn. The big kids and I had tons o' fun last fall dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid, and I've been itching (I didn't say dying!) to try it again. In order to be sure I could get the colors I want for my Sockapalooza Grapevine Socks, I am experimenting using Paton's Classic Merino Wool, color = Aran.

I wound off a 1 oz. ball of the Paton's, then skeined it using the backs of two kitchen chairs:

I wanted a loose skein, so I used two chairs instead of one. (I don't know if that made any difference or not.)

I tied off the yarn using some crap acrylic I had laying around. (You know you have some, too.) Then, I let the yarn soak for a bit:

While it soaked, I mixed up one packet of Kool-Aid with one cup of water in some used water bottles. The color/flavors are: dark blue = Berry Blue; purple = Grape; green = Lemon-Lime; light blue = Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade; dark red = Black Cherry.

I did some painting on paper to see what color mixes I liked (not shown due to iPhoto's continuing uncooperativeness). I'll use that info when I do the overdyeing. For now, I decided to just use purple as a background color. So, I mixed another packet of Grape and a cup of water and added it to my yarn soak water. Stir gently, gently, gently.

Microwave for two minutes, let rest for two minutes (not shown due to boringness). Repeat until you have this:

See the color in the spoon? No? Good. That means your dye has "exhausted," or completely soaked into the yarn. (Also, a little too much flash.) Some flavors of Kool-Aid will turn more milky white than clear. This seems to be more common with the lemonade variations than with other flavors.

The purple yarn resting and cooling off before washing.

I had a great caption for the above photo - "Stewing in its sickly broil" - which I thought was a quote from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. Wanting to have an accurate quote, I looked it up. The actual quote is "The creature stirred in his sickly broiling vapor." Rats. I will try to work that into another post later.

I miss Douglas Adams. (Also Jim Henson. But I digress...)

Coming soon... overdyed in stripey goodness (we hope!)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Knitting Blog Post With Actual Knitting Content!

Just a quick update. Mostly - The SKY SOCKS ARE DONE! Woo hoo! Gotta wash and block (so I guess not DONE done, but still...), and of course, take pictures. Maybe post a picture (insert eye roll at self's continuing ineptitude with iPhoto here).

I have also been doing some dyeing experiments to prep for Sockapalooza socks, hoo-ray. I have a big post in draft mode about the dyeing process that I plan to share in the next couple/few days.

In Which I Say Nice Things About Detroit

Today we spent the day in Detroit with my grandmother and uncle. Took the kids to the Detroit Science Center, and WOW. I hadn't been there since they updated it. It is AMAZINGLY better than it used to be. Hip new decor, updated exhibits (that actually work), tons MORE exhibits than they used to have, lots of fun. Boy1 is a big science nut, Girl doesn't do too badly herself, and yours truly is a science fan as well. A family membership is only $70/year, and considering that tickets for our family today cost $36, if we lived closer to Detroit, I would definitely consider a membership.

The DSC had one of my fave cheap souveniers - the penny smasher! Two or three quarters and one penny per kid, and we were good to go.

Hubs and I were impressed by how clean the city looked and how much new development is going in. There were tons of people downtown for the Tigers game and for an event at Hart Plaza (I missed the event name). We even took the People Mover around for a couple of laps. Now, I am usually the first one to let out a *snerk* when the People Mover is mentioned, but it was nice! The People Mover is a great cheap date also, only 50 cents (1 token) per entry, and kids under 7 are free. (Plus, tokens are another fave cheap souvenier of mine.)

About 10-15 years ago, there was a Detroit-area campaign to "Say Nice Things About Detroit." Well, now I feel that I truly can. We had a nice time. Go to Detroit, people! Really!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nettie, Part II

I've decided to just continue on with the Nettie version I have on the needles. I think it's going to be a bit small for a standard shopping bag, but I'm sure I can use it for produce or something. Plus it's like a swatch. I'll be able to see how much the stitches stretch so I will know if I need to up the needles size or add some YOs.

Currently, it's standard dishcloth cotton on size 10.5 (US) (6.5mm) dpns. I'm also going to switch to circulars just to get the hang of those. It looks a bit tighter than I was hoping (and taking longer), but we'll see how it works once it's stretched.

I know I only have about 3 readers, but if you would be interested in a shopping bag KAL, hit me in the comments and we'll see what we can do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


If you're playing along at home, you might have noticed a new Work in Frogress over to the right there - Nettie the Grocery Bag. Recently, I looked at my overflowing stash of plastic grocery bags and decided I have had enough. Here are a few facts:

1) Each year, the US uses 12 MILLION barrels of oil just to make plastic bags.
2) It takes 1000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill.
3) Paper bags are heavier and bulkier, and, therefore, use much more oil in transportation. (Plus, you know, trees. I personally enjoy breathing.)
4) Plastic bags are taking over my dark and seamy undersink cabinet space.

Good reasons to go bagless.

Right now, I am all talk and no action, as I keep forgetting to bring my own bags to the store. Still working on that "distracted mom of 3" problem.

Fortunately, a lot of the bags I get are #2 plastic and recyclable in my area. I recycle the extras whenever I can. I've been saving bread bags and other unavoidable plastic bags to reuse for those really icky jobs that reused plastic bags are great for.

As part of the knitting class gig, I offered to teach a class on knitting shopping bags. I have a couple good-looking patterns bookmarked, but I am still looking into whether I would be legally able to use those to teach a class. In the meantime, a few days ago, I started working on my own pattern for a knitted mesh bag - Nettie. Once iPhoto and I are on speaking terms again, I'll show you what I've got going so far.

In the meantime, if you are interested in making your own knitted mesh bag(s), here are some patterns to get you started:

Lion Brand Eco-Friendly Expandable Shopping Bag - Lion has an organic cotton that grows in four natural colors. Basic dishcloth cotton yarn would also work.

Knit Shopping Bags by Jean Lampe

Saturday Market Bag, by Jodie Danenberg

If you have links to other free patterns for mesh shopping bags, hit me in the comments. If you have or know of a pattern I could legally use to teach a class (this would be a class people are paying to take), I definitely want to hear from you!

Here's a great little video about using your own bags: Click Here

Lots of other fun greenie videos on that site. Check it out.

Worky McFrog

So, in addition to the yarn shop, I am also looking into changing my main job (besides the Mom thing; keeping that one). Currently, I work for a Major Department Store (MDS) part-time in the evenings. Retail is tough, physically, plus the added joy of customers who think you are too stupid to do anything else (don't judge me!) is starting to wear thin. On the plus side, the other employees are fun to work with, and the management team is great. They have been very understanding of my various scheduling weirdities. Oh, and let's not forget that employee discount!

Last week, I spoke with a display company about a customer service/sales support postition, 30 hours a week, about 20-30 minutes from home. The job plays into my love of graphic design and recent and past experience in sales support and customer service. The downside is, while it does pay better than the retail thang (duh), it might not pay enough to cover child care (three kids, oy). Plus I would be away from my kids for most of the day EVERY DAY. While some days that might sound like more fun than being WITH my kids all day, and while other parents are gone from their kids a lot, this would really be a big switch for me. I went to part time once my daughter was born, and was able to work from home for the first months of Boy1, so I have always been able to spend a lot of time with my kids. Taking this job would be a lot less of a hassle if the kids were in school, but summer is coming, and Daddy has to work some time too! I would have to give up my volunteer projects at the kids' school. I can't imagine letting go of my fabulous employee discount at MDS, yet I can't imagine working both jobs plus teaching knitting classes. And I really want to teach the knitting classes. And play Volunteer Mom.

Then, also last week, I spoke with another company about a part-time office position, 15-20 hours per week. This job would be about 5-10 minutes from home. The position would be general office help, with the occasional opportunity to do some graphics/writing/marketing (my career loves) as needed. The job and the employer sound much more flexible than the display company, plus it is only 5 miles from my house. I could go green and bike to work! With gas at 3.49/gallon, the prospect of spending ZERO DOLLARS to get to work has a lot of appeal. The only drawback that I can see is that it is a technical company; graphics and marketing don't play into what they do at all. On the plus side, if I decide I am interested in learning more about what the technical people do, the owner would let me move into that position eventually. As it stands, I could possibly do this job, the MDS, and the knitting thing. Daddy could watch the kids most of the time that I would be working, with the occasional hired babysitter/generous relative filling in. It would be crazy, especially at the beginning of each week, but it might work.

My working goal is to avoid another retail holiday season. I was completely miserable last year, and I hate being miserable in any job. It really is time to move on from MDS, but I am having a hard time letting go completely. (Discount?)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


One of the LYS (my fave) sent out an e-mail looking for knitting teachers and I responded, half thinking there was no way they would be interested in me. Turns out they are! Time to step it up!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's on YOUR Knit List?

Picked up this list from And She Knits Too!, and I thought it was great.

Bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing. (With notes.)

I added notes because some things fell into the category of "I am interested, but no definite plans."

Afghan/Blanket (idea in works)
Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire (maybe someday)
Shawl or stole
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
(not complete but OTN)
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk (Yes. Please.)
Moebius band knitting (dying to try this)
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns

Knitting with banana fiber yarn (maybe someday)
Domino knitting (modular knitting) (no clue)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn (sooooooo soft)
Two end knitting (not sure what this is? knitting from both ends of a ball? I've done that, then.)
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn (yes, please!)
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles

Knitting with your own handspun yarn (must... resist... the spinning...)
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street) (Never heard of this before but love the idea.)
Continental Knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book (Uh, no concrete plans, obviously, but a knitter can dream...)
Scarf (duh, has any knitter NOT made a scarf?)
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money (Like knitting garments to sell? Knitting for love is more fun.)
Button holes (I'm guessing there's no getting around this)
Knitting with alpaca (Hubby gave me some for our last anniversary! Looking for the perfect pattern.)
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors (Definitely want to try this over the summer with the kids.)
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars (Interested in trying this.)
Olympic knitting (SO sorry I missed this in 2006 - hoping someone gets this going in 2008.)
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn (Please. Send me some.)
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting (I don't celebrate any conventional holidays, so, no.)
Teaching a male how to knit (I have four little boys in my life - one of them WILL knit! BWAAA ha hahaha!)
Knitting for a living (Teaching, writing, etc., yes. Knitting garments to sell, no.)
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Steeks (The very thought fills me with terror.)
Knitting art
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO

Purses/bags (Almost marked this as "done" because I have so many patterns I want to try!)
Knitting with beads

Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards (Want to learn this one.)
Machine knitting (MIL has knitting machines, but I don't know that I'd ever do it myself.)
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn (FUN!)
Stuffed toys
Baby items

Knitting with cashmere (See soy and silk, above.)
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern

Intarsia (Tried and failed. Need someone to show me this.)
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
(What is this? Intriguing...)
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Rug (Braided a rug once, tho. Would like to do that again.)
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets

Knitting with dog/cat hair (Why???)
Hair accessories
Knitting in public
(Knitters, represent!)

The Knitblogger's New Clothes

Trying out some new fun with Blogger, so bear with me if the scenery around here keeps changing over the next few days.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Trek Throws a Contest

Trek is having a contest to see if they can reach 290 comments on one post about fun summer activities for kids. The original goal was 145 comments, but that was surpassed so quickly, Trek decided to see if the goal could be doubled. Deadline is June 1.

If you're not familiar with Trek's site, she has a quote at the top that I love: "Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup." I read it long ago before I found her blog; does anyone know where it is from?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

TAGGED! The horror...

So I just got my first tag ever, from Caitlin - 8 Random Things About Me.

1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2: People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3: At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4: Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

My 8:

1. I learned to read at age 3.

2. I still love to read, and am most comfortable when surrounded by books.

3. I am least comfortable when surrounded by people.

4. I currently work in retail, but only because it works with my family's schedule, not because I am too stupid to do anything else. (Think of that before you judge your local store clerks.)

5. I don't like to tell my real age because people usually guess I am younger. (Hint: I am old enough where people thinking I am younger is a good thing.)

6. Just because I stop arguing, doesn't mean I agree with you.

7. My only two must-watch TV shows are LOST and Heroes

8. Honestly have no clue of 8 people I can tag with this. Caitlin tagged me (so I can't tag her), and I don't know any other bloggers well enough to tag them. Many of the blogs I read are Famous Knitting Authors; I can't imagine asking them to do something like this.

(9. I suffer from a mild case of author-worship.)

Is There One For "Which Contender to His Throne?"

Found this quiz on Caitlin's blog. Last summer, I got into the history of Queen Elizabeth I and her family, so this was kind of fun...


Which of Henry VIII's wives are you?

this quiz was made by Lori Fury

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Pondering Patterns

Still thinking which pattern to use for my Sockapalooza pal. I really like Vine Lace, and I wonder if it is stretchy enough to skip the ribbed part of the cuff. I really like how the cast-on edge forms a wave. Hmm...

FO! - Stormy Socks, Senior

I thought I had better update the blog and maybe throw in a couple photos or risk losing my reader. (Hi, Caitlin!) After many arguments with iPhoto (which I am still not sure if I won), I present to you... Stormy Socks, Senior...

See how they *almost* match? That's because of Stormy Stripes, Junior. Had to get creative with the toes there.

Yarn: Moda Dea Sassy Stripes in colorway "Stormy"
Fiber: 100% acrylic (and proud of it! Machine wash and dry, and they are so soft!)
Needles: 4 steel dpns, unknown maker and size (falls between a US 1 and a US 2 on my sizer; purchased from yard sale before I started knitting)
Pattern: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Basic Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules
Started: Early April
Finished: April 30 (and I think I can finish my first lace socks by Friday night???)
Learned: Don't make toddler/kid socks first if I plan on using the yarn for adult socks (duh).

If I can get iPhoto to stop eating my albums, I will post pictures of some of the other FOs floating around here.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Rethinking Aloha

The Aloha socks aren't exactly forthcoming with the Aloha spirit. After many false starts (including a prolonged tinking session where I somehow lost a stitch for every row I tinked), I have decided to put them on the back burner for now.

After looking through the Barbara Walkers, I decided I needed a simpler lace pattern for my first lace project. I also needed a project I could complete in less than a week.

Then, today at the library I picked up a copy of Socks, Socks, Socks and found lots of great patterns for lace socks, including a Gull-Wing lace already invented. Amazing. I also have some cotton-blend sportweight in a nice sky blue. So I've decided to make some Sky socks for mom.

(Ok, the sportweight is really "baby" yarn, and the sky blue could possibly be construed as baby blue, but I'm on a tight schedule. Please work with me here!)

Being me, I couldn't leave well enough alone and had to rework the pattern to fit with my gauge (size 4 needles, people! FOUR!). But I got that all written out today, and i think it might actually work. I am adding a purl stitch to the beginning of the pattern repeat and doing 5 repeats around. I even wrote out the variance for the top of the foot and the back of the heel. The top of the foot will have two repeats across, and the heel will have one down the center.

Sockapalooza buddy has been contacted! I have her color and style preferences (and WAY too much Kool-Aid), and I can't wait to get started!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Alohahahaha - Hawaii Laughs at Me

Well, maybe not the entire state.

But these socks? Definitely. Let's review our progress thus far...

Cast on 64 st on size 1 (US) dpns, knit in k2p2 rib for 1 inch.

Make one extra stitch (on purpose). Start pattern, a repeat of 12+1 (because 13 divides evenly into 65, right? Stop laughing. It gets better.)

Complete one full pattern row repeat (14 pattern rows). Realize that a stripe of plain stockinette stitch is forming at the end of the rounds. Ponder.

Decide that since it is a 12+1 repeat, that I will just add the "+1" to the beginning of each pattern repeat to avoid the stripe. Rewrite pattern notes to reflect this brilliant breakthrough.

Decide to not frog yet, but try to work out the pattern for the back of the heel and top of the foot. Move 32 stitches to one needle and start each row with the beginning of the pattern repeat instead of with the "prep" stitches that the official pattern calls for at the beginning of each row. Fail to produce satisfactory heel pattern. Figure it will work out once I have the cuff done and am more familiar with the pattern.

Frog back to ribbing. Re-pick up 65 stitches on tiny (for me) needles.

Fail to realize that if the heel flap experiment failed, adding the "+1" to the beginning of each pattern repeat is not going to work either.

Knit two rows. Realize the above.

Tink back to ribbing.

Really study pattern. Realize what "12+1" repeat means.* Start knitting pattern as written. Again. Flash of insight as I realize that "end last repeat K4" means that instead of the "k7" instruction at the end of the repeat, I will K4 on the last repeat. (Isn't that what it just said? Duh.)

Realize I have 4 extra stitches, which accounts for the previous stockinette stripe. Decide to work the last 8 stitches as k2tog. Ha! Got rid of those pesky extra stitches.

Work second round. Realize I have miscounted somewhere; I do not have enough stitches to complete the last pattern repeat.

Frog the entire sock in fit of temper.

Re-cast on 60 stitches. Work 1 row stockinette. (For socks, I always work the first row after cast on in stockinette because I would go stark, raving bonkers trying to k2p2 rib that first wonky row.) Work second row stockinette unintentionally.

Quietly set sock aside and eat many, many snacks.

Mom will be here in 8 days. I have zero socks for her. I am NOT a fast knitter.

On the positive side, I learned how lace repeats work.

*Newbie Note: A 12+1 repeat means there are 12 stitches in the repeating part of the pattern, plus one extra stitch somewhere in the row to make it even. So instead of 65 stitches (13x5), I needed 61 stitches (12x5=60, 60+1=61). I still didn't quite get it for a while. Read on.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Babs Quote of the Month (May 2007)

Happy May! I love May.

I also love Babs. She is the knitting chicken from Chicken Run, one of my favorite movies. Babs has some pretty funny lines in the movie, and I hope to bring you about one a month. (I am also trying to set this up in my sidebar but Blogger is not cooperating. It might be my browser, tho.)

"I don't want to be a pie! I don't like gravy."

Decisions, Decisions...

Sock Pal info is available at Sockapalooza 4! I am so excited! I can't give too many details about my sock pal here (duh), but I think they matched us up by foot size...

I am pretty sure that I am going to try lace socks from a Barbara Walker pattern. I have it narrowed down to four patterns (does four patterns count as "narrowed down?):

Razor Shell (BW1, p 206)
Horseshoe (BW1, p209)
Vine Stripe (BW2, p272)
Flame Chevron (BW2, p276)

Wow, a quick search shows none of those are available at The Treasury site. Maybe I can photograph some of my swatches for there. I'd love to be able to contribute to the project.

Anyway, first I get to practice on some socks for my mom. Mom lives in Hawaii, and will be coming for a visit in a couple weeks. I already have Knit Picks Dancing in "Hula" (see earlier post). I found another BW lace called "Palm Leaf Chevron" (BW2, p277) that will be perfect. Palms = Tropics = Hawaii, plus the pattern makes little hearts if you look at it upside down. Isn't that just oh-so sweet?

And practice I will need, since (A) I have never knit lace socks before, (B) I have never knit lace before, and (C) therefore, I have no idea how the repeats work when knitting in the round.

FO Alert! Stay tuned to this blog for upcoming photos of FOs! The Stormy Socks, Sr. are complete! I also finished knitting the I-cord Snake last night (like at 3:30 a.m., sheesh), and he is on schedule to be felted today.