Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekend Update 5-29

I spent an hour today cleaning up the deck. We have a lot of trees around and there was debris all over. The cushions were covered in pollen and dirt and tree debris. The table had a nice layer of ick all over it.

That's my favorite spot on a nice sunny day, knitting and yup, that's a glass of grape Kool-Aid. Made me want to dye some purple yarn!

It was a hot one today. Here's Willow wiped out in kitty heaven sun wondering why on Earth I am bothering her by sticking a camera in her face.

Phantom petunias! I love them! This is the first year I've seen these ones. I planted them in the window box under the kitchen window. Once they fill out I'll be able to see them when I am doing dishes.

We went to see Pirates 4 on Sunday. It was good. My mom's friend is a cousin of the director. It was definitely different than the others ones, very good though!

Saturday, I spent the day dyeing ... OK not the whole day because I only have two pots and have to wait for stuff to cool. So in between I ran errands, the cats and dog wouldn't understand why they had no food no matter what I tried to tell them.

I wanted to use up some of my dye stock to get rid of it, a lot of it was mixed colors and I have no idea how I made them. If I am intentionally dyeing in the future, I want my stock to be straight colors. The dyes I mixed today I labeled with color and strength for future use.

I'm thinking that if I open an Etsy shop it'll be sometime in July. I am traveling twice in June, so I figured the free time I had from now until then I would see what I could dye up and have several things to open a shop with.

Once the shop is open I was thinking of a giveaway for blog readers. I'll post a link and if you post the "grand opening" on your blog then I'll pick someone with a random number generator and you'll get your pick of one skein from what's in the shop.

I was trying to take notes to make reproducible colors ... thinking I was smart buying a brand new notebook just for dye notes ... until I realized that I can't take notes while wearing rubber gloves covered in dye. So I think I'll just stick with reproducing those I can easily remember the mix and take notes after and just having fun with the other ones.

I invested in some more dyeing equipment:

A large stockpot with steamer so I don't have to rig one with aluminum foil ... plus with that method I could only steam one skein at a time. I am thinking of investing in another small stockpot so that I can steam skeins and kettle dye more than one at the same time.

An apron ... somehow I've never gotten dye on my clothes, however, my back usually hurts really bad after dyeing because I bend over the table awkwardly to avoid getting dye on me.

A dishpan that can hold three skeins of yarn for soaking, definitely need another one or two of those!

Two clear plastic storage containers for dye powders and mixed dyes. Really much better than the cardboard box I was using :o)

One thing I didn't get ... towels. Did you know once you use one its wet?!? And it takes a LONG time to dry??

I also kettle dyed some laceweight in sage green and its lovely, I haven't re-skeined it yet though.

This one is Tesseract (if you're a nerd you'll recognize this word). This one is for me!

I also dyed some roving. This time I braided it first and I like that method much better. Apparently 7pm on a sunny day is the best daylight for photographs, this one is pretty spot on for color.

I don't expect to make any money off this venture ... but I'm sure it will support my habit of dyeing for fun!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

To do or not to do ...

Click the picture to make it bigger.

I am contemplating opening an etsy shop. Above are yarns that I have dyed. I am wondering if its worth the trouble or if I should keep this as strickly a hobby.

Please help me decide. Be honest. I won't cry, LOL!

1. Would you purchase any of these yarns? Would you pay $16.50-$18.50 plus shipping $2?

2. What are your favs? What do you not like?

3. I know I can reproduce 4, 5 and 8. And yeah the green is that bright in person, LOL!! That's my "Red Eyed Tree Frog" colorway. I'm fairly certain I could reproduce the rest, but not entirely sure, but these give you an idea of my "style". Of course I have more colorways boiling in my brain right now.

ETA: Minding my Own Stitches brought up a good point - yarn base would be Superwash/Nylon blends, that's what most of these are and what I prefer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5-25-11

Check out other WIP Wednesday Blogs here!

I've got plenty of other WIPs on the needles in various states of completeness, but this is the one I have been primarily working on this week. The Summer Mystery Shawlette by Wendy Johnson. I love it, the patterns are so clearly charted. I finished clue 1 and am moving on to clue 2. Clue 3 will be out tomorrow.

Yarn is Knit Picks Stroll in a discontinued colorway.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Froggin' - Not that Kind!

We finally got some sun Saturday after at least a week of grey skys and rain. The frogs were out in full force at the pond sunning themselves on the rocks. Here you can see a frog, or two, or three on the rocks.

I was pleasantly surprised at the zoom on my camera. I've used it before, but always stopped pressing the button when the lense stopped making noise indicating that it was zooming, I didn't realize it would continue to zoom after that. In this photo I am actually about 6-8 feet away from the frogs. One never can get too close or they jump into the water, unless you sneak up on them real quiet like.

Speaking of zooming, I am zooming along on the Summer Mystery Shawlette by Wendy Johnson. And guess what, its in a nice froggy green too!

My new favorite thing! We've been getting mini kegs of beer, they only come in select brands, but they fit in the fridge. Heineken isn't so bad actually! Today at Walmart I found these mugs for $2. They are solid ... I think they could cause serious harm if used as a weapon. Just out of curiosity I put mine on my yarn scale and set the units to lbs ... 2.8 lbs (with beer)!

I ordered from Knit Picks recently. Since I cleaned up my yarn shelves and re-stocked them from the stash downstairs ... now I don't have room for these skeins, LOL! The new tonal color Pearlescent is to die for, its not pictured very well here, we have another grey and rainy day. Roving to try dyeing again, this time I am going to braid it first. Size 0 needles to add to my collection in circulars and DPNs. The Goth Felici was catching my eye the last few times I ordered and usually these are limited so I grabbed it while I could.

The fuschia on the deck is doing well and as I'd hoped it is really attracting the humming birds. There have been several sightings since I put it out.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

FO: Dover Castle Shawl

Dover Castle Shawl
Yarn: Dream in Color Starry - Dusky Aurora
Needles: Knit Picks US 5 Acrylic 24"
Cast On: April 26, 2011
Finished: May 21, 2011

This is a wonderful pattern. I would surely knit it again. The pattern repeat was very easy to follow and it was a good tv knit. This yarn is scrumptious! It has little silvery bits spun into Dream in Color's squishy, wonderful sock yarn. Its also got quite a bit of yardage at 4 oz and 450 yds. I still have 49g left over.

Shawls, shawls and more shawls

I finished my Dover Castle Shawl tonight and soaked and blocked it. I'm really happy with it. I was a little concerned when I cast it off, it seemed really small. Blocking did help, but its supposed to be about 48"x22". Blocked it came out to be 44"x18". Its a great pattern, I'll post details when I post it as a Final Object.

I heard many recent podcasters mention a Summer Shawlette Knit A Long by Wendy Johnson, I love her patterns. I checked out what I had in my stash that would be appropriate, she recommended slight variegation, but nothing with major color differences or the lace pattern would get lost. I actually don't have many things that are not wildly variegated ... I love that crazy, wild and vibrant sock yarn!

I came up with this skein of Knit Picks Kettle Dyed, now discontinued ... can you see why?!?! This isn't kettle dyed at all, I got this near the end when they figured that out and were discontinuing it, so it was on sale.

The Shawl A Long just started, so go and check it out! Its a free pattern too!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Training Example: Knitting

I've been attending supervisor training by an outside company for my job and the exercise today was to bring something from home or work that you could train someone to do in 10 minutes ... well we all can guess what I brought.

I knit up a few rows of garter stitch with worsted weight on size 8 needles to prepare. My topic was the knit stitch.

I was paired up with a coworker, each person brought a topic and we were paired up and taught each other the specific task that was our topic. We were provided with instruction on writing an objective and task instructions. Later in the day was hands on. We had too much fun with the knitting!

I instructed my partner, then the instructor of our training pulled me aside and said what do you think about me asking Tim if he thinks he knows enough to teach Bob? I said go for it. It was too funny.

Do you remember first learning and holding the needles in a death grip? Putting the needle in the wrong direction, dropping stitches, wrapping the yarn in the wrong direction, etc.? All this happened.

I'm known for being very blunt, sarcastic, having excellent mnemonic ablitilies, wanting things done quickly, being very matter of fact and not touchy feely and I think the instructor had an idea that I was like that when I trained people. I was complimented by the instructor of my knowledge and patience and instruction in knitting. It was such a fun exercise.

Pictures of course were taken on phones, but I didn't get any of them yet, if I do I'll post them ... blurring the victims faces of course!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Update

Hello everyone, this is Weekend Update and I'm your host the Delusional Knitter!

I had a pretty darn good weekend! We always say that we should get out of the house and do things, we're sick of it all of a sudden being Sunday night and we feel like we did nothing all weekend and then have to go back to work. Saturday morning we went to a garden club plant sale a few towns over. We got a few things. Its cool because they are native or hardy to this area since they are grown here by hobbyists.

After that we went out to breakfast and I had delicious strawberry and sour cream crepes. I wanted to stop at Michael's which was down the street from the restaurant.

I wanted to try making my own spindle. At Michael's I got a toy wheel and dowels. We had a cup hook in the picture hanging supplies at home, the last one! I had to use some glue on the whorl because the dowels available were slightly smaller in diameter than the hole in the wheel. I meant to take photos as I was putting it together, but I got so engrossed in it, I totally forgot.

I had acrylic paint in my crafting supplies, so I put two coats on it. I love it, and its purple. And yes, it actually works! It spins quite well.

Once I had my spindle supplies in hand, I took a look around the store. I found some super bargains at Michael's! I've been searching for a plant stand for my orchid, but I didn't want to pay $30-$80 which is what I was finding. Michael's had them for $19.99 - but this was on clearance for $7.99! I also found the purple pot, I honestly don't know what I paid for that ... if its purple, price is irrelevant.

I found this Paton's Stretch sock yarn in a sale bin for $0.99 a skein ... yeah you read that correctly! I also saw size 000, 00, 0 and 1 sock needles. I don't have anything below a 0, so I thought these would be good to have on hand, (I thought they were $3.99, but now that I look at my receipt they were $12.99 ... whoops! I must have been looking at the tag for something else. Still not bad for 4 sets of needles). Michael's has their own line of yarns now, I didn't know that. They actually had quite a bit. This particular store carried quite a bit of different varieties of yarn. It was nice to see lots of fairly inexpensive sock yarn!

Next was a stop at Petco in the same plaza. I wanted to get my fish some food, I'd been stealing from the other fish in the house ... and theirs is mixed so I had to pick out the bloodworms which is what my fish prefers, he wasn't eating the other stuff. While there I found a tank for $29.99. I wanted to get one of these, but usually saw them for $50+. Its a nice hexagon tank with light and filter, so I think he likes it a lot more than his bowl.

And for now he's referred to as "Fishy" - so no name Dee!

I am happy with my Tradis blue yarn. I actually over dyed it on Saturday. Once it was dry I could see how light it actually was, and some parts were white. Not many, but enough that I think while I was knitting it, I would have been annoyed and unhappy with the final product.

It is slightly darker than this in person, but this is the closest photo I could get of the color.

BTW - if you're a Dr. Who fan, the episode that Neil Gaiman wrote that aired this weekend was pretty fabulous!! I'm a fan of both so double nerdy awesomeness for me!

Sunday I puttered around the house, it was raining all day. I finished the Baby Surprise Jacket (see previous post). Then I cleaned up my craft room (see orchid photo and stuff piled everywhere). I also rearranged my stash yarn thats out in view. I created some extra space so I figured I better run down to the basement and fill the holes before I got any ideas of buying more yarn. I came up with a grocery bag full of sock weight yarn and there was still about 1/3 of a plastic tote down there). Just out of curiousity I counted what was visible in the room:

Approx. 90 skeins of sock yarn (2 50g skeins were counted as one)
11 skeins I dyed
12 Misc. (only one 50g skein or a partially used skein, kept for heels and toes or colorwork)
13 laceweight (individual colors counted, not skeins)

This does not include the yarn set aside for particular projects on the shelves or the 6 project baggies I made up. This also doesn't include anything stuffed in the back of a shelf that I cannot see. Yowza!

What's visible to you in your stash? What's hidden away ... or do you even know?

FO: Baby Surprise Jacket IV

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket
Yarn: Bernat Baby Softee
Needles: US 6
Started: March 20, 2011
Finished: May 15, 2011

The knitting was done a while ago, but I finally seamed it up and sewed on the buttons today. This is for a co-worker who wanted one for a gift for someone.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Searching for the Tardis

I found a pattern for Tardis Socks online. Kept them in my queue for a while, and I finally wanted to make them. So I was on the hunt for the perfect Tardis blue. Everything was not quite right, a little too dark (or a lot too dark in the case of the Navy I ordered from Knit Picks), a little off on the color, etc.

I was determined to get the perfect Tardis color in order to make these socks. At this point, because the pattern requires 72 stitches for the "Police Box" colorwork at the top, I cannot change the stitch count. I figured if I am going to spend extra time making these because there are extra stitches, I damn well better he happy with the end result. So the color, does in fact matter a lot.

No, this is not the exact color of the Tardis, but in my mind, its awfully close and its pretty cool. Technically its kettle dyed, with slight variations in the saturation of the color thoughout. Which is fine with me. It will lend character to the socks.

I can't wait to see it in daylight. At this time its 10:45pm. So ...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5-11-11

Check out other WIP Wednesday Blogs here!

Nugatory by Hunter Hammersen
I really like this pattern. The yarn I dyed myself and I think it works really well for this. There are really nice elongated stitch cables running down the sides of the sock, that are not pictured very well in this photo.

Dover Castle Shawl
This one has some more added to it since last week. I really do like this pattern. Its so easy to follow the lace repeat, very good for catching up on TV.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FO: Toe Up Socks II

Pattern: Toe Up Socks with a Difference by Wendy Johnson

Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy
Needles: Knit Picks US 1 32" Circular
Started April 11 2010
Completed May 7 2011

These socks got dragged around everywhere and I only completed a row or two here and there while I was waiting. I finally finished them up this past weekend.

I like this pattern a lot, its my go to for plain stockinette socks.

I liked the yarn, I really liked the color repeats. It was a little splitty though, but not enough that I wouldn't use it again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Knitter's Denial

I give you this short story so that you can learn to recognize your own Knitter's Denial. Its real, its out there, its a fact of life!

I hurriedly finished up my toe up socks to get them off the needles so that I could start the Tardis socks mentioned in my last post. I cast on the Tardis socks shortly after midnight (problem no. 1 judgement is severely impaired at this hour). The pattern calls for 72 stitches, I usually use 64. I look at the colorwork band and it does indeed need the 72 stitches to be completed, so no altering that. Then I thought I could decrease after the colorwork band so that I am down to my usualy 64 stitches. I'll make the socks a little longer so that where they are 72 stitches is higher up on my leg so they'll fit. But there's a pattern stitch and I'm not sure that would work out and not interfere with the pattern.

Then I measured the gauge on other socks in this yarn on size US1 2.25mm needles and got 9-9.25 stitches per inch. Well that'll work I tell myself. That comes out to 8 inches circumference. That's about what my foot and ankle are. While this is going on I am completely ignoring the fact that it is advisable to subtract 10% from a sock so that they have negative ease and fit properly (problem no. 2 utter and total denial). For some unearthly reason I think, or tell myself, that socks knit on size US1 with 72 stitches are going to fit just like socks knit on US 1 with 64 stitches .... why would this work in any way, shape or form?!?!?

Not once do I think that I should change needles sizes, (problem no. 3 disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing) althought it may be due to the fact that I'm pretty sure I don't have anything smaller than a US 1 in my collection. So this justifies the fact that I am going to add 8 stitches to a sock and not change anything else and somehow they are going to fit me ...

I cast on said socks. I knit 2 rounds. Looking at what was there and telling myself, see its not that big, they'll fit ... then I went to bed.

Luckily sanity returned with daylight. I got up and had some coffee. Went online to see if Knit Picks carries size US 0 and found that they do and thought, perhaps you should order some. Of course I don't want to wait until they arrive to start these socks. I then went in my stash - I was pretty sure I needed US 0 DPNs before for a project, but wasn't sure if they were good needles or not (like did I want to knit an entire pair of socks with them or are they icky needles that I just got for a tiny Christmas ornament once). They are Clover Bamboo 5" DPNs and seem to be in good condition, so I'm gonna go with them. I think I'll order US 0 circulars for future use though because I typically prefer Magic Loop.

I can assume that I'll get at least 10 stitches to an inch on 2.0mm from the 9 I get on 2.25mm. Usually I get 7.5 or so on 2.75. That brings me awfully close to the size I get with 64 stitches.

Why, oh why do I continue to deny? I admit that I do have Knitter's Denial, but am able to recognize it before a project gets too far. Usually sleeping on it helps.

Do you suffer from Knitter's Denial?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Knitting Monogamy

So I found this pattern for Tardis socks a while ago. I wanted to make them. The yarn in an acceptable color (meaning, not the exact color I want, but close enough to work) arrived from my order and I was rearing to cast on. Oh, what's that ... you don't have size 1 needles free?!?! Well how many do you have? 3 sets?? And none are free?!?!

I have 3 sets of circulars, because I prefer magic loop for socks. That's not to say that I don't have a few sets of DPNs kicking around. I do. But my 3 sets of circs are on projects at the moment. Oh this is why I keep leaning towards a life of monogamy and stop being the loose, sleazy, yarn w&^%$ that I am.

I don't even have needles to cast on this project and its not like I only own 1 set, I have three and still don't have any free to start this project!

What does this say about my knitting morality?!?!

Let's see how much of a s&^% I really am ....

What's on the needles right now?!?
2 pairs of socks
3 scarves
1 sweater
4 shawls (yes four)

10 ... I have 10 unfinished projects right now and I'm thinking of casting on another?

Are you a monogamous knitter or a polygamist knitter?

And what about yarn hoarding? I have enough yarn for 11 lace weight shawls ... yeah this one goes to eleven.

How about sweaters ... 9 ... nine sweaters.

Socks ... oh we don't go there. We stopped counting when we got over 100.

I have 9 skeins of sock yarn that I dyed that I haven't knit anything out of ... yeah 9.

I'm cut off. There's been an intervention. There will be no more yarn buying until October. I am putting it out there so that its in writing and there are witnesses!!

How's your stash?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spinning Flax

No I didn't spin flax, LOL! And I don't think I ever will. Our Knitters' Guild Meeting this month was about the process of turning flax into yarn. A woman from the local textile museum came to speak to us about this. It was very interesting.

Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil, which has uses as an edible oil, as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products. It is also grown as an ornamental plant in gardens. (Wikipedia)

Flax fibers are amongst the oldest fiber crops in the world. The use of flax for the production of linen goes back at least to ancient Egyptian times. Dyed flax fibers found in a cave in Dzudzuana (prehistoric Georgia) have been dated to 30,000 years ago. Pictures on tombs and temple walls at Thebes depict flowering flax plants. The use of flax fiber in the manufacturing of cloth in northern Europe dates back to Neolithic times. In North America, flax was introduced by the Puritans. Currently most flax produced in the USA and Canada are seed flax types for the production of linseed oil or flax seeds for human nutrition.

Flax fiber is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of the flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible; bundles of fiber have the appearance of blonde hair, hence the description "flaxen". It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. The best grades are used for linen fabrics such as damasks, lace and sheeting. Coarser grades are used for the manufacturing of twine and rope. Flax fiber is also a raw material for the high-quality paper industry for the use of printed banknotes and rolling paper for cigarettes and tea bags. Flax mills for spinning flaxen yarn were invented by John Kendrew and Thomas Porthouse of Darlington in 1787. (Wikipedia)

Processing Flax for Spinning
After the flax is harvested. The first step in the process is called threshing - removing the seeds. The next step is called retting - soaking it in water. There were many different methods for this, soaking in a pond or stream, leaving out in a field to collect dew and get rained on (this took longer), or soaking it in a tank.

Once this was done, there's still a lot more to do. Breaking the flax is breaking the stalks into smaller sections, then there's scutching the flax, which occurs when it is slammed between two wooden boards in a mechanism called a scutch. Then there's heckling, which is a large comb type item. A heckle is a bed of "nails" - sharp, long-tapered, tempered, polished steel pins driven into wooden blocks at regular spacing. Whew, and the woman from the museum actually demonstrated this for us (except for the threshing and retting), LOL! I guess this is why in colonial times the entire family participated in this process.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know about linen, no?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It lives ... dyed roving

Sorry for the crappy photo ... but its rainy and grey today.

Well my braiding skills leave a little something to be desired ... I'll work on that. Initially when I was dyeing this roving I thought it was something I would never do again. I soaked it, and as it was in the bucket I thought, oh boy, was I supposed to do this?!?! Its all floating and mingling together, am I going to be able to find the ends in this mess?? I did, but I also broke it in two, which is why you see two braids here. And while braiding, I also broke each one in two yet again, LOL! Also why the braids are so messy.

It was fairly warm and sunny out while I was dyeing and the roving was drying and fluffing up as I was applying the dye. The nozzle of my squirt bottle was getting stuck in the roving and pulling pieces out. I moved quicker and quicker trying to beat the roving from drying. I thought I was making a mess of it and it was going to be a matted, completely ruined mess by the time I was done.

I found a tutorial after this where the person braided the roving FIRST, then soaked it and injected the dye into the braid. I think I'll try that next time. Then all the roving will be contained and won't be all willy, nilly flying all over the place.

Once the roving dried and fluffed back up and no longer looked like a dead, drowned, furry critter (see this post for that image) ... then I thought, oh yeah, I'll be doing this again!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WIP Wednesday 5-4-11

Check out other WIP Wednesday Blogs here!

Icarus Shawl
I started this one last year. I remember why I put it down now, there are so many stitches and those purl back rows are killer!

Dover Castle Shawl
Yarn is Dream in Color Starry Dusky Aurora. There are sparkly bits in there that didn't photograph. I love this pattern. The lace pattern is easy to follow and remember.

These are not all the WIPs I have on the needles at the moment, but they are the two I've been working on the last week!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 3rd TUSAL

Here's my May 3rd TUSAL update. Still growing!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Adventure in Dyeing

I finally found these pansies again after 2 years! Sometimes they are called Black Beauties, today they were called Halloween. They are so dark purple that they look black.

Since it was so nice out today, I decided to pull out the dye for the first time of the year.

I was nice to myself and actually labeled some of the colors before I put them away before.

I tried two new colors this time, Jet Black and True Turquoise. I am happy with the turquoise, but the black didn't really come out black. I've heard that about black. Next time I'll try mixing it double and see how it works.

Yarn ready for the pot!

The final product ... not quite what I had in mind ... but that's usually how this works out, LOL!! I am happy with it, its just not what I was thinking at the time.

I also tried dyeing some roving that I had. I love how it came out. It wasn't as fun as dyeing yarn and as I was doing it I was hoping that I wasn't rendering the roving useless by the end. It seems ok, its still wet here, but doesn't seem to be the matted mess I thought would come out in the end.