Monday, February 28, 2005

Afghan Arrival

Last night the NETA afghan that i won in the raffle was brought to the house by Karen. We oohed, aahed, drooled, and pondered over the beauty of it for quite a while. Here are some pictures of it posing in my living room (and the colors happen to match perfectly! wow!)

Karen and I modeling with the new afghan:

Then we inspect and dissect the gorgeous stitch pattern of every block:

The Inspector of New Objects must approve:

and finally:
an artsy daytime shot to really appreciate the true colors and textures. Griffin was very comfy under the afghan on this chilly morning. (ignore the mess behind the couch!)

You can't believe how wonderfully squishy and warm it is. yum! i am still amazed at how great all the stitch patterns are. i would never in a million years have enough patience to make a whole afghan.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Its a Dye party!

Today we had a Fiber/Yarn Dyeing Party at my house. what fun!

We mixed food coloring, cake deco pastes, kool-aid, and easter egg dyes to get interesting colors. Then we painted them onto the yarn or roving with sponge brushes, and set the color on medium heat in the microwave. after cooking it, we spun the water out with the spin cycle in the washing machine (new for me. very useful!) 3 ladies painted natural yarn from kniitPicks, two of us painted processed roving, and one dyed carded wool (although it still had a lot of lanolin so the dye didn't take very well)
Here are some in progress pictures:

Painting begins...

Kate, Melissa, and Kat get artistic....

Mia and Trista working on their masterpieces....

Here we all are showing off our finished products

closeups of bits of roving

After reading the methods of guest blogger Laurie over at Yarn Harlot, i really wanted to make my own big long rainbow roving. I did mine sans-pantyhose though.

I made some other ones after the ladies left, and they are drying in the bathroom now. pictures tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

hatching a plan

first, let me share a photo gallery of the work that went into making the afghan that i won. I got teary-eyed looking at it; thinking of all the care, emotion, and wonderful energy that went into it. And now it will be in my home. awwwwwww. I can't believe my luck.

now on to the plan hatching... which i am starting to call "The Triple Cursed Sweater".
A few months ago i showed D the mens sweaters in Noro Knits by Jane Ellison. He indicated that he would like wearing the Fitzgerald or James sweaters. Being the Big Orange that he is, he loved the burnt orange/brick/green color 128 (used in the Ripley sweater.) I can't afford 14 skeins of Kureyon. But i could buy the roving, dye it, spin it, and knit the sweater. Its a plan, its hatching.

I mentioned this idea to my friend Adrienne last night and she gasped "No, you can't! the Curse!" Well, I could be dooming myself here, but i don't believe in that curse*. And if it does exist, will it be worse if i've dyed and spun the yarn myself? ha!

- he will love the sweater. immensely.
- i need some direction in my spinning. if i don't have a plan for the yarn that i'm making it just sits there in the stash and i will never ever use it. I'm always afraid of actually using my spinning for anything. or i don't have enough yarn to do what i want. this would be good for that.
- I'm almost done with Ribby Cardi.

- i need another project like a hole in the head.
- my spinning isn't regular enough to produce a ton of yardage of all the same gauge.
- i haven't even started working on my blue/green aran again
- i have tons of other projects that could use the attention.

*[in the interest of full disclosure: i did make a 'boyfriend sweater' once... and we did disastrously break up two months later. But in all honesty the relationship was crap long before that. we were just 'trying to make things work'. they didn't. I'm more heartbroken the i gave him the sweater without even taking a picture first! and now its probably in a city dump somewhere. hopefully he at least donated it to goodwill. and me with no record of my work. that's the Real Curse. If anyone found a bulky
mistake stitch rib sweater in light gray Banff yarn at goodwill, let me know!]

I forgot to take pictures at SnB last night, but everyone's Ribby Cardis are coming along swimmingly.
In the side bar i've posted a picture of my best spinning yet!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Fun weekend acquisitions

D and I drove up to Portland, Maine to visit the New England Textile Artists (NETA) "Spa, Spin, and Knit Weekend". This is the 3rd year that a group of fiber enthusiasts from the NETA message board gather at (well take over really) a hotel in maine and have a relaxing, playful, fun weekend together. They have activities, fashion shows, vendors, and general camaraderie. I couldn't go for the whole weekend, but i would love to go next year. Every possible public nook in the hotel (lobby, bar, conference rooms, etc) had people sitting there with their spinning wheels, drop spindles, knitting, whatever! They were all so friendly. The spirit was wonderful.

I didn't have too much time to hang out. In the vendor room i saw so many beautiful fleeces, fibers, yarns, books, kits. I bought a batt from Indigo Moon Farm. The colored batts aren't on her website, but i've heard so many good things about them from other spinning blogs that i had to get one. I also got to meet in person many people that i've emailed on the NETA yahoo group. In particular, Helen from Bay Colony Farm. She raises angora bunnys and i fell in love with this little bit of roving:

Its angora/iceland wool in sherbety pink and orange; and was the first thing i played with when i got home. (ok, i admit i did pet it for most of the drive back from maine too). Here it is spun up:

I also installed a Spinner's Choice poly-cord drive band on my wheel. I would highly recommend it to anyone with an older wheel with a cotton drive band. it makes a big difference, much easier for spinning.

On the way up to Portland, we stopped off in Lowell to see Lizzie at Lush Beads. what a great selection! I could spend a lot of money in her vintage bead section. but i was fairly restrained.

The biggest news from the weekend came to me on sunday afternoon. We had purchased six raffle tickets at the SPA weekend on saturday, but the drawing was on sunday. They called to tell me that i won THE AFGHAN! the big one, that was made by a bunch of members of the group. its so beautiful! A woman from the group who was still up there and lives in northboro will be bringing it down so it doesn't have to be mailed. here's a picture:

I will be sure to take more once its in my house.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

patience is not my strong suit

(putting it mildly)

I am eagerly waiting for my package of fresh fiber and "real" dyes. I read a cool entry about some more technical aspects of color dyeing. I think i really should read that book (Color in Spnning, by Deb Menz), it seems to be the book on the subject. I had also been concerned about using the acid dyes at my house, but now i've realized that i had a simple solution right in front of me: WORK! i've got gloves, a scientific scale for making stock solutions, citric acid, a microwave dedicated solely to cooking harmful things, the fume hood, and 24 hour access... rock on. now i'm really excited now!

Here's the resulting skein from my previous attempt with kool-aid dyes.

i'm pleased with how it came out. The romney fiber isn't the softest, but i'll think of some use for it.

In ribby news, i've finished the back and both front panels. I don't want to get too far ahead of the group so i'll work on something else this weekend.

Monday, February 14, 2005

a week of progress on Ribby Cardi: Finished back panel, just starting the neck shaping of left front now.

i won't be at SnB tonight, but maybe Kat can take digital pics of the ladies progress and send it to me....?

while i got little knitting and no spinning done this weekend, I did spend some time doing knitting related crafting. First, i went to the home despot and bought hardwood (oak) dowels. With these, i made knitting needles! the smallest dowel they had comes out to about a size 8 (although i couldn't find my needle-check to be sure. just a guess.) a trip to the craft store found dowels in smaller diameters as well. using a pencil sharpener and sand paper, i made two sets of 8" needles. My goal was to put beads on the ends of them, but couldn't figure out how to get that working. I don't want to glue the beads to the end of the wood, but i can't get the headpin into the wood either. (tiny drill bit?) While i had my bead stuff out, i made a few sets of pretty little stitch markers.

I will need to make a trip to my friend's shop, Lush Beads of Lowell MA, soon to get nicer beads and high quality jewelry findings. maybe she will have some suggestions for attaching beads to needles.

And because i got paid on friday, i ordered more plain roving and some jaquard dyes from Pacific Wool and Fiber. very excited about dyeing and spinning possibilities.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


last night i attempted to dye some more of my romney roving, this time using Kool-aid. Somehow, the colors managed to come out exactly like the last one i did, even though this time was supposed to be blue and green. where'd the purple come from? where'd the green go? bah humbug. on the upside, it'll match the little teeny skein that i got from the first attempt.

here's the roving hanging in the tub with some other skeins i've been working on. finally gave them a little bath to set the twist.

(l-r) Brown/silver/purple: one ply brown wool, one ply silver/purple angora; last nights dyeing; brown/orange wool; green and yellow from the Grafton Fibers batt that i bought (i believe it was color 113. how does she get such gorgeous colors?); more of the orange that i used for D's scarf.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

And they're off!

Last night was only-slightly-official start date of the Ribby Cardi Along for our knitting group. Most of us had already swatched and begun anyway. Here's a sampling of the hot cardi-on-needles action.

First off, there's my purple/gray heather Lana D'oro. (mmmsoft alpaaaaaca). To the right of that is Jordan with blue Peruvian Highland from Elann. (She was further along, but note the unforunate pile of frogged yarn in front of her due to "gauge issues". let this be a warning to you children!) Below that is Kat, who's using tasty KnitPicks wool (not sure which type). To Kat's left is Trista hiding behind her wonderful purple cotton.

Monday, February 07, 2005

State of the Crafts: Stained Glass

I wasn't going to discuss this one next, but something came up this weekend to remind me. I went to the house of a friend i haven't seen in a while. Hanging in her kitchen window was this cutie that i made as a housewarming present for them a few years ago.

I have a terrible habit of giving away these projects before taking pictures of them. Then i forget all about 'em until i see them again! some of my other stained glass projects can be seen in here.

I started by taking a stained glass hobby class in Northampton about 3.5 years ago. I continued taking classes here after moving to worcester. (check out the awful picture of me on her website!) i really enjoy the entire process: choosing a pattern, picking just the right colors of glass, cutting - grinding - fitting it all together, and soldering (my favorite part!). The whole thing is very relaxing for me. Its a puzzle, its technical, and yet its creative. I get to solder AND play with color and texture. whee! But it takes up space. Not only the actual process, but storage as well. As you go, you start to accumulate scraps of glass that are too big to throw away and need to be kept for future projects. There is the cutting space, design board, and grinder. In my last apartment the back porch became my stained glass 'studio', but i don't have that option in the new place. so its all in the basement right now. probably cracking because its so cold. I would love to be working on it again, but just can't right now.

In fiber news, i very nearly finished this while attending a stupid-bowl party. (love the company, love the food, hate the sport!)

After a trip or three through the washing machine, it will become a Chicago Blue Line bag designed by fellow knitting scientist, Theresa.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Dye action

take a lookey at the dyeing process i've been working out.

I took a very small amount of that romney fiber and soaked it in vinegar and warm water. Also dissolved a bit of cake decorating colors in warm water. (it would work better in hot water, but i am trying to reduce any risk fo felting)

Next, paint the colors onto the fiber and let them soak in. massage/squoosh colors around to get them to mix in interesting ways. For some reason, the red soaked into the fiber much better than the blue and purple. So the left over water was very blue.

wrapped it up into a wormy shape with cling wrap. you can see how all the extra blue seeped into the red areas and tinted them.

put worm back into glass dish. nuke on MEDIUM setting in the microwave for 2 minutes, then let rest for about 5. (meanwhile, light candles and chant "please don't felt, please don't felt.") repeat nuke and cool a few more times until the liquid runs clear. This means that all the dye has been taken up by the fiber.
Let it completely cool, then unwrap and hang to dry.
Here's the finished roving:

Spun singles:

plied yarn!

the red didn't take as well as the other colors, so it came out more purple tone than it was originally. i suppose any 5 year old knows that red and blue make purple. duh.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

State of the Crafts: Spinning and Weaving

1) The table loom
purchased super duper cheap from someone on craigslist, it sits unused in the living room. First, I bought some great cotton from Halcyon Yarn. Then I figured out how to use the legs of my kitchen chairs as a makeshift warping board. i warped the loom. Its is very nearly ready to go, except this one minor little problem. the back beam is missing a screw/metal rod that holds it in place. i can't wind the warp on without fixing that first. I'm sure i am smart enough to either describe the needed part to a helpful person at Home Depot, or figure something out myself. The colors of the warp are springy/eastery colors, so i should get working on that soon. i would except that i'm too obsessed with...

2) Spinning
totally addicted to this at the moment. Bought myself a used Ashford Traditional around christmas time, and have been getting much better at it. I want to spin mucho yarn! and then sell it at craft shows! but i need the fiber first. buying fiber is much cheaper than buying yarn but it still adds up. Especially if its dyed pretty colors by someone else. There are so many gorgeous handpainted fibers out there! Now i'm experimenting in buying it white and dying it myself. The most cost effective way would be to buy a raw fleece straight off the sheep, but cleaning that requires WAY more work and spare time than i've got. processed roving is more expensive, but worth it. Until now i've purchased all fibers from ebay or The Fiber Loft in harvard MA. (i guess i should confess that i am waiting for two of gorgeous batts from Grafton Fibers in the mail right now. bad!)

3) dyeing
This week's experiment is dying this:

1 lb of new zealand Romney wool roving (bought off ebay). i'm dissapointed that its not as soft as i was expecting, but i can't justify buying a bunch of fabulous merino and then run the risk of ruining it in the dye bath. So far i've had success with plain old food coloring and cake decorating colors. Professional acid dyes are not terribly expensive, nor that hard to work with, but they do require separate utensils, pots, etc which make it a bigger financial investment. for now i eagerly await the arrival of easter egg dyes to the stores!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

the incredibly true conversation of 2 geeks in love

here's a little thing about me: i have a very hard time keepin a secret. ESPECIALLY when it comes to presents. I have ruined many birthdays, holidays, and special occasions with my inability to hold onto the surpise until the proper time.

of course, i couldn't resist showing D the scarf that i am making him for Valentine's day. He already saw the yarn when i spun and washed it and he knew it was for him. (it wasn't a huge, complex, surprise at least). It is, however, 2 weeks early. so goes my life.

(i show him scarf in progress)
DK: wow hon, that's really cool!
DM: do you recognize the pattern?
DK: is it exponential decay?
DM: no, but close....
DK: Its Fibonacci Sequence!!! i love it!
DM: aww shucks...

here he is modeling the work in progress. And for other geeks (knitting and/or math) out there... i made it up to the 55 section before running out of handspun brown.