Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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March 2006 - Posts

Wheeee, thanks for the 'grats on the wheel!

I don't know what I'm doing here in front of the computer instead of the wheel. What's wrong with me??

I started a swatch for the second Norwegian Knits-Along hat. Sadly, my gauge and the pattern repeat do not play nicely. It's either cut off the circulation of my head, or have a floppy hat. Meh. Pretty yarn combo:

Frogged first attempt at second Norwegian Hat

I'll try again this fall with a different pattern.

Picovoli progresses, not long now.

Picovoli - in progress

Off to spin!

Thanks for the compliments on the new do and the red knitted stuff!

Just a quick post today to show you what I picked up from the post office this morning:

The Box

A big box, with an equally big box shimmied over it containing:

My New Wheel!

The wheel! Schacht Matchless Double Treadle. I took it out at work and just about everyone stopped by to check it out. I had fun explaining the mechanics to the mechanically inclined, but wished I had some fiber on hand to actually demonstrate. Okay, and to give her a spin.

She came padded with raw fiber:

Packing fibers

of the alpaca and llama variety. Nice padding, eh?

Packing fibers up close

The fawny fiber top left is high in VM, the others are dusty but otherwise look good. I foresee much fiber processing in my future.

I got terribly frustrated trying to get the wheel set up. There was bumping of parts that oughtn't bump and general lack of knowledge of parts and purpose. I was ready to holler and have a fit before I left for the BASD spinning guild meeting. Part of me wanted to just stay home and stew and figure it out. But most of me really wanted to go for the carding lesson and the chance for experienced hands and eyes to help me with the wheel. Good thing I went, I got what I wanted! I'll need to make some minor adjustments and give it a good cleaning, and then just get to know her.

If I weren't so darned tired I'd be doing a happy dance about now.

Speaking of which, I got very excited at work today when something I've been working on for the last week and a half finally worked! Really, I was hopping around excited and doing the Saturday Night Live "number oooonnneee" dive and that arm pumping thing that hockey players do when they score a goal. Yeaaahhhhhh! Considering I had picked up the wheel earlier that morning, I was surprised that I seemed more excited about web development stuff than getting a kick-ass wheel. I mean, the thing I was working on was way cool, but still, it's a web page, ya know? A web page that does a really cool thing!!! Anyhoo, I think, since I haven't spun on the Schacht before, I don't know what I have. I don't know how to react, except to be relieved that it arrived seemingly unscathed, in the number of pieces it's supposed to be in. I guess I'll have to spin on it a while for the excitement to register.

These are the photos that go with yesterday's post. :)

Picovoli progress

Picovoli - in progress

The irregularity on the right is the end of skein one. One skein goes along way, doesn't it?

I'm very ambivalent about skein size. When I'm counting stash, having a good number of skeins is a good thing (if there's space) because it means you have more flexibility in project choice. But man, a sweater's worth of yarn takes up a lot of space. When I'm knitting and measuring project progress by number of skeins used, each skein seems sooooo long. And then, the stash seems enormous! If it takes x hours to knit one skein of yarn, how long will it take to knit through the stash??? When I'm afraid of running out of yarn, each skein seems smaller, each yard more precious. Then I'm worrying about squeezing out an extra row or two with the last yards of each ball.

Each Provence skein is 125 grams - larger than usual. I have 3 skeins total, but I'm guessing I'll finish it with 2. That's some serious yardage.

DRCB progress

DRCB - in progress

Today I gave the cabling without a cable needle method a try. It's come up a few times recently so I thought I should at least figure out what the hullabaloo is all about.

Convenience. That's what it's all about. Speed? Hmm, not sure. If I were knitting something like a sock, with many stitches in constrained quarters, I'd definitely use the cableneedleless method. On this project... I'll try it for a few inches and see how I like it.

Wheel progress

Well, no photo. But it's at the post office, so there'll be photos tomorrow!

And the haircut

New haircut

Swish, swish

New haircut

Yup, that's spin-dye-knit-a-scarf. First time out. A little scratchy but purty. And that (gasp!) non-black top? Also cashmere, on (serious) sale, nabbed this weekend. Told you it was a busy weekend. :)

Found this the other day, cracked me up: How I learned to love

MJ's Norwegian Knits-Along is coming to a close and I was hoping to knit another something before it ended. I'm thinking a hat for me, red and black, similar to one she made. I studied the pattern and charted most of it out. Sadly, for all the fiber I just bought (all that stash selling was purposeful!), I don't have any extra for the kit. Or, I'd rather try to figure it out myself and save the funds for fiber. Yeah, something like that. For yarn, I have some Jaegar Matchmaker something or other in thin thin red and black, so my gauge will be probably be very different. There will probably be much frogging and adjusting.

My wheel should be here this week. I'm thinking sometime between Wed and Fri, but I don't want to get my hopes up too high. I don't have a tracking number, which is just as well because there's nothing I can do but wait. No website to check on the status multiple times in the day in vain hopes of an update. No constant reminders that it's almost here, almost here! Instead, it's best to just forget and think conservatively and be more than pleasantly surprised should it arrive earlier than expected.

Uh, feeling the adrenaline. Subject change.

Made much progress on Picovoli tonight while watching two subtitled foreign films (Bombay and Last Images of the Shipwreck, both excellent). Except for pauses for trying it on and figuring out where the waist decreases should happen, it's a pretty easy subtitled movie knit. I'm about to begin waist increases. Not long now!

You know how I was worried about the negative ease and, well, the whole fit thing? Fits like a glove. I'm kinda hoping it will stretch a bit so I don't feel so Kapow wearing it. I'm shy.

And Deep Rose Cabled Beauty (can we just call it DRCB?) is progressing much faster than I expected. A lot of this has to do with this weekend. I had a doctor's visit = half an hour waiting. Plus T (subway) travel time (can I tell you how much I don't miss the T?). And then a haircut appointment.

My hair is waaaay long. Was. You saw it when I modeled Creamsicle T, it completely obscured the neckline. I knew I had to hurry to get those photos because the hair had a date with the chopping block. It's been months since I got it cut, half a year at least. I had an awesome stylist do his magic shortly before the wedding; then I was traveling; then I was laid off and not about to hike into Boston to spend the bucks; and then I started a new job. All this time, it's been getting longer and longer (I know, that's what hair does), and driving me bonkers. When I throw my bag over my shoulder, my hair gets caught. When I roll over in bed, my hair gets caught. When I'm tussling with my hubby, my hair gets caught. No fun. With this doctor's appointment in Boston I figured it was the perfect opportunity to finally get it whacked.

I get there 15 minutes early, get comfortable and start knitting, trying not to watch the clock. Apparently I succeeded because half an hour later I'm wondering what the hell is going on. "Should be done soon." Fifteen minutes later, I left. I was pissed! The stylist (not the one who cut it before) didn't even acknowledge the wait, didn't come by to apologize or tell me she'd be done soon. Nada. After such a long wait I debated staying (when I had my coat on I was told she was almost done), but decided I couldn't condone the behavior. I had friends to meet, and while I wanted fabulous hair for the ballet performance we were going to see, it wasn't worth being late and fuming and feeling rushed.*

So yeah, 45 minutes of knitting there. And some lunchtime knitting. I must be close to the armpits now.

I did get my hair cut the next day while hanging out with a close friend that I miss dearly; we spent hours hanging out this weekend and had a blast. The guy who cut my hair was a little strange, a man of few words, french accent, a smoker, kinda reminded me of Andre the Giant as Fezzik in Princess Bride, only less friendly and not so big. The only wait I had was at the register: the older woman had no idea what she was doing, it took her 10 minutes to ring me up (no exaggeration).

Since then I've been swishing my hair from side to side, celebrating every time I put my bag over my shoulder.

Photos will resume tomorrow.

* There was an apology waiting on my work voice mail this morning, which was a nice gesture. She said she didn't realize the time and heartily apologized and offered a discount on my next visit. If she were my stylist I don't think I'd go back. Would you?

Lots of Life going on here this weekend which precluded blogging and has me pooped. Lots of fun, though.

Had a doctor's appointment in town Friday so I stopped by where I used to work. They've since moved into a new building and their new quarters are all chichi and hardwood and hushed. The views are gorgeous, but I was so busy saying hi to people that I didn't really look out. I brought a pile of spun yarns and dyed skeinlets to show Maria (doh, forgot to bring spin-dye-knit-a-scarf!) She recently finished her first pair of socks, is working on a scarf, and is slowly getting her whole family to knit. :)

Maria and my sister are my two most devoted readers. Last month I'm talking to my sister about the too hot chili Scott made (apparently, grocery store chili powder and Indian grocery store chili powder are not the same thing; I'll let you guess which is hotter) and how he added spaghetti sauce to tone it down (which didn't help). My sister asked, "was the spaghetti sauce in a jar?" I had no idea what she was talking about. It took some prodding before I realized she was referring to all the salsa jars I had emptied for my dyeing color studies. Hehe. We're still eating that salsa.

So I'm showing Maria my early spindle spun yarns and the KoolAid dyed spun yarn and the acid dyed and wheel spun yarns and recent color studies, and she knows them all, even knows their names. And as I'm showing them to her in progression, how I've improved here or have to figure out something there, in the spinning and dyeing, she's getting it, nodding her head, asking intelligent questions. And surprising herself. "Listen to me, I sound like I know what I'm talking about." I'm not surprised. She's a quick study and a smart cookie. That's why I brought it all with me (Scott just shook his head), to share and discuss in person and 3-dimensionally with someone who would appreciate and get it. (It's only a matter of time before she's spinning too.) Thanks, Maria!

This weekend I finished up the leftovers dyepot fiber (Romney/Corriedale):

leftovers dyepot

4 oz, about 230 yards, happy happy colors:

leftovers dyepot

and then started in on some Jacob I got in a recent trade:


Veeerrry different fibers. Not just the feel of the fibers, but also the spinnability. The Jacob drafted nice and evenly, very easy to spin a nice thin singles. The Romney/Corriedale fiber I dyed needed more predrafting and prep. Even then there were occasional little neps that, for the most part, I ignored. The undyed Romney/Corriedale is very soft and looks just as easy to draft as the Jacob, and other elsewhere dyed fibers are similarly easy to draft, so I'm thinking I'm either overcooking my fibers, overhandling them, or oversomethingelse-ing them.


A delivery van backed into us while we were stopped at a light mere blocks from Gram's. The Mini's hood is dented and slightly deformed and will probably need to be replaced. We're not happy.

It shipped! Wheeeeeeeeee!

Last night Picovoli started here:

Picovoli - in progress

and ended here:

Picovoli - in progress

and that's with some frogging.

This project has been on the challenging side, but not so much frustrating. I knew what I was getting into, and I was up for it.

First, the pattern is written with negative ease for shapeliness. This is a good thing. The finished size I want is between pattern sizes. Not so good.

The yarn I'm using has a great feel and sheen and the color is magnificent. It is the red. Poifect. I'm not getting gauge. Not so poifect.

Before I began a single stitch, I pored over the pattern and figured out what was going on. I then calculated all the stitches, increases, decreases, etc, for the in between size. Finally I adjusted the new numbers based on my actual gauge, making sure I had the "right" number of stitches in the appropriate places (some guesswork here). You should see my notes, some numbers have been crossed out 7 or 8 times as I worked things out. Right. Time to knit.

From the start, I ran into a number of problems, most of which had to do with being tired. (Yeah, all those calculations will do that to ya.) Lots of frogging, forehead slapping, and head hanging. It took quite a while to get to row 7, but then it was smooth sailing until the beginning of last night. And I realized... my gauge in the round is different than my gauge swatch, which was worked back and forth. "Eh no" (think Phoebe from Friends). It happens to us all, eh? I debated, I hawed and hemmed, and decided to try it on. There wasn't much to try on, no armholes, just a big loop to lay over my shoulders. It was hard to tell, it seemed maybe fine, maybe a hair small. But workable. I had read that some people's Picovoli's tended to stretch a bit so being on the small side might be okay. I plowed on with the understanding that all those calculations might need to be reworked.

A few rows after the armholes, I tried it on again. Ouch, armpit pinching. Too small. I decided to add another increase round and figured the extra stitches should be okay. I thought of adding 2 increase rounds, but then remembered that it would probably stretch, and the last thing I wanted was a loose body.

Frog. Reknit. Try on. Better! Knit knit knit knit. Try on. Hey, not bad! The bust area is comfortably snug, not tight, not loose. It may stretch a bit with wear, who knows. The part from the armpit up is just tall enough. The extra 2 rows made the needed difference; I just hope it doesn't end up being too tight anyway.

I'm about an inch from the waist decreases. There will be more try ons and more adjustments, but it's all good. You wanna know why?

I'm a sale shopper. I buy yarns I like when they're on sale. Not for a particular pattern or idea. Just because. I. Love. Yarn. (You noticed?) What does this mean?

There are so many patterns I want to make but don't have yarn to match. There are so many yarns I want to use, but don't have patterns to match. It can get frustrating. Some yarns sit around for a while waiting for the perfect pattern written at the right gauge. Or for inspiration to strike.

But I'm beginning to accept this situation. This means: Using my stash requires creativity. Using my stash requires adjustments. This year I want to make summer tops before summer rolls around. I know, revolutionary, isn't it? There's Picovoli, a ChicKami, maybe the Honeymoon Cami, and the Bistro Shirt (though that's a whole other story). And there are yarns I want to use for summer tops that probably don't match any patterns I have. But I want to use them. To make this work, I'll have to be creative and make adjustments. Because you know I don't have any more yarn money. It's all going into fiber these days. I'm even selling stash so I can buy more fiber. Yup, it's like that.

So adjustments to Picovoli? No problem. Frogging and reknitting and frogging? No problem. That's what I have to do to get them summer knits. And I'm gonna do it. It's all good.

I'm working on a cool new dyeing project. I'm taking an existing Debbie Bliss wristwarmer pattern that is knit in stripes and eliminating the ends-factor by making the yarn self-striping. 3 of the 6 colors I thought matched pretty closely to some of the red and blue color study results, but for the rest... I didn't know where to start. I had some not-yet-mixed dyes, and a few colors that had not been sampled yet, so I focused on that instead.

All are on 5g skeins of Kona superwash (see? the sample skeins are getting smaller and smaller...) and were dyed on the stove using my newly requisitioned pasta pot with steamer insert, trusty salsa jars and plenty of stream.

Dye intensities are .25%, .5%, 1%, 2% and 4%. Except the Brilliant Blue, that one went from .5% - 8% because the dye solution looked so weak.

(Some of the colors were hard to photograph so I included photos from two different attempts.)

Pink on white

Pink on natural

Turquoise on natural
Turquoise - very hard to photograph, very vibrant; reminds me of the Caribbean

Turquoise on White

Violet on natural
Violet - also very hard to photograph, actually deeper and more vibrant

Brilliant Blue on natural
Brilliant Blue - reminds me of denim

Pink and violet
Pink and Violet

Turquoise and Brilliant Blue
Turquoise and Brilliant Blue

Except for the Pink, the lower intensity skeins are irregular/splotchy - you can see it on the Violet the most. The pinks were done first and I let the skeins steam in the dye solution before adding vinegar. With most of the others, I reused the vinegared water and added the next color. On those, the dye struck more on the outside of the yarn and didn't seep evenly throughout the yarn. Something to remember for next time.

The Turquoise and Violet did not want to exhaust. And the Brilliant Blue, since I effectively doubled each jar's dye solution, the higher intensity jars did not exhaust. I saved the top 2 intensity jars of each and did random dyeing over 4 oz of fiber (some more Romney/Corriedale). They were leftovers, and not colors I would have thought to combine. I added a little more of each dye in the end (the darker spots), squirt squirt. I love the results.

leftovers dyepot

Did you know about CRAFTBOSTON? If you're not in Boston, check out the website anyway for inspiration. Click on Artists, then "Search for Artists". Choose a media, like Fiber Wearable, and then click on the artist name or image. Each artist has 5 photos of their work. Beautiful stuff.

Pixie's started a podcast, go listen! She featured my blog this week and said some wonderful things, thanks so much, Pixie!

I have a wheel on the way, did I mention? Hmm? What? Why are you looking at me like that?

Well, I dunno, I didn't want to jinx it, ya know? And I wanted to get some sleep at night. And if I mention these kinds of things here, they seem more real, ya know? I need my sleep. Oops. I can feel the adrenaline rushing. See what's happening?

Okay, okay, details.

Background first. :P

When I decided on the Joy, it was with the understanding that this would be my first and traveling wheel, and that I would get a second one after several months. I knew I would outgrow the Joy. The plan was to try a Schacht Matchless at Webs' May tent sale and if I liked it (which I'm pretty sure I would), buy it on sale. But, I've been keeping my eyes open just in case a used wheel were to sell for less. And it did! So we're, what, 2 months ahead of schedule, but there you go. Things happen. ;)

So yep, a Schacht Matchless, and if you've been paying attention, nope, haven't tried one yet. Ahem. Yeah, I know. Felicia says I'll love it, right, Felicia? It comes with the exceptionally high speed whorl, which will be great for spinning lace. I wanna try lace. Did you see the lace shawl Felicia knit with her handspun? And I found this amazing post on spinning lace last week at FiberLife. Yep, gonna try the lace.

If all goes well, it will ship tomorrow. And as each day passes, I will get less and less sleep and feel more and more pumped. Boy, it's already starting. Literally. The adrenaline, coursing through the veins. Heart fluttering. I gots da jittery leg, too. See? This is why I didn't mention it! I've squeezed in an extra few nights' sleep already!

Y'all are the sweetest, thanks for your lovely comments on the neckline and sweater. Just a few ends and she'll be done, and I'll post modifications then.

Meanwhile, if you smirked at those photos you might like these:

Curlycue Scarf

Curlycue Scarf

Curlycue Scarf

Curlycue Scarf
Finished: 3/10/06
Pattern: Ruffles from Scarf Style, with modifications
Yarn: Danette Taylor superwash merino in Bramble Rose
Needles: #5?
Notes: Since it's for my 7 yo niece, I didn't want too big or overwhelming a scarf, so I worked the rufflies over 18 stitches, and worked seed stitch for the neck wrapping. I had thought up an elaborate gradual transition from curlies to seed stitch, but at the moment of truth realized it worked fine switching cold turkey. Miles of seed stitch was not so fun for me, and in retrospect, I probably could have decreased by at least a couple of stitches for that portion. Meh. It's a cute, fun scarf, and the colors are gorgeous.

(You know, the rufflies look better in one direction than the other. If I were to do this same scarf again, I would use a softer yarn for drape, and do both rufflies so they hang in the same direction. That means grafting or invisible cast on or some such, but it'd be worth it.)

Thanks for all your sweet comments on the core spun mohair and the Deep Pink and Red.

I mentioned I wasn't quite happy with the neckline on Creamsicle T. Maybe you can help me out. I thought I'd model it for you so you could see it in three dimensions.

What do you think?

Creamsicle T - almost done

Hmm, not a great shot of the neckline... How about this one:

Creamsicle T - almost done

Not so good? Maybe this one:

Creamsicle T - almost done

Can you see the garter borer? Try this one:

Creamsicle T - almost done

Hahaha, if this is not looking familiar, read my previous frustrations on the Ella Rae T Shirt Sweater photos.

Here's a regular one you won't find in the book:

Creamsicle T - almost done

How does it look?

(And for anyone tuning in more recently, my version is a complete overhaul of the pattern. Completely. Overhauled.)

My lunchtime knitting: 

Deep Rose Cabled Beauty - in progress

is Deep Rose Cabled Beauty. I can't remember its given name, but I think it's from VK. The color is a deep rose, not nearly as bright as the photo suggests. I started it a year ago and finally decided to pick it up again. I've knit a full big diamond in the last week. It may be done by next February.

The yarn is naturally dyed wool from Tregelly's Fiber Farm in Hawley, MA, bought a few years back. Their natural dyeing studio is called Botanical Shades, and their one page "website" for years has said "coming soon". There's veggie matter in the yarn reminiscent of Noro Kureyon and the texture is a little scratchy but knit up it's not scratchy. With the stitch pattern and the non-smooth yarn, I do tug on stitches to keep even tension, and apparently my right index finger is doing a lot of work because it gets achy like it's being strained. Continental knitters, do you get that?

Last night I cast on for Picovoli:

Picovoli beginnings

Rats, I was gonna have you guess what it was. Ah well. The yarn is Classic Elite Provence, a shiny crisp mercerized cotton that feels wonderful. I had begun a Red Vest with it back in '98 that didn't get very far. Besides the fact that I don't wear vests, the biggest reason for its pokiness was the wrong needles. These bamboos feel so right. The color is a deep gorgeous red, which is why I couldn't bear to part with it. Imagine the deeper color above with the crisp shininess of the swatch below:

Picovoli swatch

Deep Rose and Deep Red. Coincidence? Is Project Spectrum gifted with prophecy? Has it subconsciously invaded my knitting colorscape?

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Monica!

  1. Monica is only six percent water.
  2. The ace of spades in a playing card deck symbolizes Monica!
  3. Ninety-six percent of all candles sold are purchased by Monica.
  4. Monica kept at the window will keep vampires at bay!
  5. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find Monica.
  6. Without Monica, we would have to pollinate apple trees by hand.
  7. The Church of Scientology was founded in 1953, at Washington D.C., by Monica.
  8. Europe is the only continent that lacks Monica.
  9. Monica is black with white stripes, not white with black stripes.
  10. Finding Monica on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck.
I am interested in - do tell me aboutherhimitthem

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Scott!

  1. Tradition allows women to propose to Scott only during leap years.
  2. Scott can not regurgitate!
  3. Scott is worth his weight in gold - literally!
  4. In the kingdom of Bhutan, all citizens officially become Scott on New Year's Day!
  5. It took Scott 22 years to build the Taj Mahal!
  6. Owls cannot move their eyes, because their eyeballs are shaped like Scott.
  7. Scott cannot jump.
  8. Four-fifths of the surface of Scott is covered in water!
  9. The pigment Indian Yellow was manufactured from the urine of cows fed only on Scott!
  10. Scott is only six percent water!
I am interested in - do tell me aboutherhimitthem
Ahh, I knew we had something in common. We're both only six percent water!

Thea's post about her Ski Lodge drink made me want to get some Peppermint Schnapps. When I did, I searched on, found Peppermint Twist and Love it. Schnapps, Kahlua and Creme de Cacao shaken with ice and strained. Tasty tasty tasty. Scott's been mixing it up for me about every day (lush that I am), with extra milk thrown in (not so much of a lush). Ahh, you're thinking, her recent posts make a lot more sense now... is purty cool, you can search based on ingredients, number of ingredients, ratings, and even percent alcohol. Mix yourself one.

Scott loves to find cool videos on the web (get yer mind outta the gutter), here are some awesome ones:

Okay, enough diversion. Check it out:

Core spun mohair locks

That, my friends, is core spun mohair locks. I purchased some dyed mohair locks when I learned to spin in October and though I spun up a bag on my spindle back then, most of it seemed matted, so it remained in bags. In December I realized the seeming mattedness might be lanolin and it just needed washing: 

Mohair locks

but it remained sticky and undraftable. In late January I learned that it needed a very hot washing with grease breaking dish soap, which did wonders. A dog brush opened up the locks:

Dyed Mohair Locks, washed and prepped

I wanted to spin it on the wheel, and I wanted to retain some of the locks characteristics, instead of brushing it out. But I needed to get comfortable with my wheel first. Fast forward 6 weeks.

Last night, I decided to give it a go! "Core spun" was in my head for some reason, so I looked it up in Spinning Designer Yarns. It looked just right.

It was time intensive, but quite fun! I brushed locks as I went (just the cut ends, not the tips) and drafted them in for texture:

Core spun mohair locks

I love where the bits of curly lock stick out:

Core spun mohair locks

You can see the core yarn below, a commercial blue shetland 2-ply rescued from my "to get rid of" pile:

Core spun mohair locks

In all it's about 30 yards (there's still quite a pile of mohair left). It's soft, fluffy:

Core spun mohair locks

and altogether delightful:

Core spun mohair locks

Perhaps my humor in the last post was a bit base for you. Muahahahaha. As Scott would say, I crack myself up.

Speaking of which, Julia at Moth Heaven cracked me up with her discussion of Warmus digitus latvius.

In other knitbloglandiosity:

Enough inspiration for ya?

Thanks for your nice comments on Autumn Leaves. It was such a serendipitous project, and one of the reasons why dyeing and spinning are so fascinating to me. One last photo, in sunlight:

Autumn Leaves

All that glitters

The mohair/ribbon scarf is all done. It was a quick knit, promptly followed by a thorough brushing to remove mohair from my clothes.


Finished: 3/14/06
Pattern: The scarf is knit with one strand of each yarn carried together. Cast on 13 sts, knit in seed stitch to desired length.
Yarn: Danette Taylor mohair in Birds of Paradise, about 2 oz; Erdal Yarns Harlequin, less than 1 50g cone (probably ~125 yards of each)
Needles: #13 circulars
Notes: The ribbon gives the scarf surprising weight, surprising only because mohair is so light. It also gives it more structure, or body. Shape. And the way it catches the light is really something. One more photo:



Last, a possible neckband for Creamsicle T:

Creamsicle T - almost done?

Did you think I forgot all about her? The garter border matches the bottom of the sweater. I'm not quite pleased with it, but I'm not ready to frog it out just yet.

Look what came in the mail today:

pH paper

pH papers! Now I can pHind out if I'm over vinegaring my dyepot. Thanks, Mini!

Here's plied up Autumn Leaves, soaking up the last bits of apHternoon sunlight:

Autumn leaves

(Hmm, kinda dark. I miss the morning sunlight!)

It's very sopHt and sproingy in a nice cushy way. That pHart, er, part, worked out! On the other hand, the looser plying shows my uneven spinning. I pHind I can get an even thickness, but I need to work on even twist. I hear some people count treadles and drapHt regular amounts. Any other tricks out there?

The mini skein shows I don't know how to pack a bobbin tight enoupH. ;) 20/20 hindsight: I so could have squeezed those pHew extra yards in! I hate cutting. But man, there was no take up, the bobbin was too pHull.

The second mini skein was plied with itself. A little overage on one bobbin. Not bad.

I'm ending up with a bunch of spun up yarn. I'm waiting for PumpkinMama to show pHotos (hehe) of her handspuns shawl so I can borrow, er, steal her idea.

I spun up the Romney/Corriedale dyeing experiment. Here it is in strips:

Autumn leaves

in progress:

Autumn leaves

and spun up:

Autumn leaves

With the first random dye batch, I separated into shorter strips and distributed evenly into piles to get more uniform color distribution. This time I split the roving into 2 longer lengths, and kept the strips with their brethren. I worked from end to end, maintaining the random color distribution (some parts were decidedly more red, some more yellow).

It's too bad I only dyed 4 oz. The colors really softened and blended with the drafting/spinning. I tried for a thicker singles and a loose twist so that, when plied, the softness of the fiber would not be lost.

I don't think I mentioned that this Romney/Corriedale and the Romney used in The Red and The Black were picked up at Spa, purchased from Nick's Meadow Farm. When it was soaking, there was an unexpected smell that was hard to place. In the end, I decided it smelled like flour. Strange, hunh? Not a bad smell, just unexpected. The roving was very soft and wide and loose/flowy.

PS  Thanks for the nice comments on the scarves! You can't have my stash.

Thanks for the suggestions on the bonnet cables, all good ideas. I shall mull it over and distract myself with...

Look, a finished object!

Curlycue scarf

It's the Curlycue scarf I've been working on for-e-vah and a day. It came out really cute! So glad it's done. Just need to steam to set the curlies and it's off to my niece.

I finished it at the Fabric Place Knitters Club on Friday and got up and did a weird victory/celebratory dance. I couldn't help myself, and I couldn't figure out what kind of dance I was doing; it reminded me of a Native American dance that you see in documentaries. Very strange.

When I got home I was surfing and came across someone selling their Anny Blatt angora/ribbon scarf kit, and it reminded me that I wanted to try out mohair and ribbon for a scarf. The only thing holding me back before was not knowing if I'd have enough for a scarf. Well, that and not wanting to knit with mohair because of Scott's allergies. I did some searching, found out the Anny Blatt angora and ribbon were lower in yardage than what I had, so with much mohair caution, I started:


I love how the ribbon picks up the light. It's a simple seed stitch; I tried fancier stuff but it wasn't as effective. The mohair is Birds of Paradise by Danette Taylor, the ribbon is Erdal yarns Harlequin bought on eBay. They happen to match perfectly, as if made for each other.


Last some stash pics. The yarn arrived during the Knitting Olympics and there was just too much going on so I put off posting. And again. And again. Well, I'm tired of them sitting around in flickr!

These are from handpainted wool on eBay, purchased through the Yarn Coop. Like Malabrigo, they are soft, kettle-dyed singles. Like Malabrigo used to be, they were quite affordable. This one was a well run coop, it took about 6 weeks from payment to receipt.


Mmm. Soooft. Purrty.


After much searching online, I bought some syringes from KV Vet (an online pet supplier) in 4 sizes:

Syringes for dyeing

Prices were really good, shipping was fast. These syringes are great for measuring and for placing dye. Skooshing. Yeah.

I also bought some Henry's Attic undyed Kona superwash, Monty and Andromeda (silk-merino) last month. No need for photos, it's natural colored, on cones. No need to discuss quantities, let's not go there. It was a liquidation sale from someone who used to handdye yarn. She also sold me a bunch of Jacquard dyes for a good price, too. I'm not to buy any more yarn until my birthday. June. Unless I sell some...

I sold some yarn! Well, I was trying to raise funds to buy some fiber for dyeing. But promptly spent it at the Knitters Breakfast last week. But I also swung some trades:

My first Lorna's Laces (mmm, soft):

LL Shepherd Sock

and 2 oz each of cashmere batt, silk caps and mohair:

fiber from trade

Phew. I'm pooped, are you?

I need your input.

The reverse rib "bonnet stripe" idea didn't work, it just didn't make much impact. After 8 rows. Or so. I could have knit a little further, I suppose, but it just wasn't doing it for me. So I ripped back again (for maybe the 6th time? lots of adjustments going on here) and tried cables instead. What do you think?

The Red and The Black - in progress

No, no, I'm not concerned about my foot being on the kitchen counter. That's not what I mean.

I mean the striping, the cables, the sock. Something about it is throwing me off and I can't pinpoint it. I know the cables are a little obscured in the black areas. Does it hold together or shall I rip back again and try something else?

These socks are another case of "project knitting" similar to what I experienced during the Knitting Olympics. I am making them because they are the next step in the dyeing/spinning process. The dyed fiber was not "done" until I spun it. Now that it's spun it's not complete until I knit it. I don't feel this way about all my dyeing or spinning. Some spinning I feel no need to knit up; the spinning was the process and once spun, that process, that journey, is complete. I haven't dyed enough fiber to feel the same; I don't have a lot of fiber so I dye to spin.

Anyway, I'm not knitting these socks because I want a pair of striped socks (or even a pair of socks, necessarily, though it's a nice bonus). I'm knitting them to complete the journey begun with an idea.


Maybe I don't like the stripes. Though they're cool. They're just a lot wider than I expected. And if I continue the experiment with the other 4 oz and spin a 3 ply the usual, non-navajo-plied way, then the stripes will be even longer. It's interesting. The stripes look so similar to how they looked in the roaster: mostly red and black with a bit of white/pink/grey. I could probably use this information and get a different kind of striping to happen, no?

I thought I'd make a pair of Jaywalkers with The Red and The Black. I wanted something that would showcase the striping. But I knew I'd have to knit toe up because I wasn't sure how much sock I'd get, and I'd have to modify the pattern for that and the gauge. I figured the best way to get ready was to start a regular pair of Jaywalkers in my Xmas Rock Socks That Rock:

Jaywalker - started

Those are itsy bitsy bendy Brittany needles. I started with some bamboo dpn's and was miserable. I'm still miserable, the yarn sticks to the needles and I much prefer working with two circulars; but it's less torture than the bamboo. (And what is up with the pooling? I mean, I think it looks really cool. But hasn't everyone else's STR Jaywalkers been coming out stripes?)

Look, I got a whole 2 rows done last night:

Jaywalker - in progress

Impatient to start knitting with The Red and The Black, I did some googling and I found someone else had not only thought of toe-up Jaywalkers, but had written out instructions as well. Cool. I started a pair using the figure 8 cast on. Look at the striping:

The Red and The Black - begun

I used two #4 circular needles (yay) and modified for gauge as I went. But you know what (or if you're in Texas, I'll tell you h-what), the number of stitches and bulkier fabric just aren't working for Jaywalker. I'm not liking it. So after a bit of thought, I decided to add two negative ribs up the sides, like bonnet stripes on a Mini, just to add a little interest, and knit the rest of the sock plain. The stripes will speak for themselves, and the little bit of detail will (I hope) keep things interesting.

Lunchtime knitting has yielded:

Curlycue scarf

an almost done Curlycue scarf! This is for my niece and has taken for-e-vah (the last photo). Curly parts from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, pared down to child size. I didn't think such curlies around the neck would be so practical so I added enough seed stitch to wrap around once. Dangling curlies, pretty colors. If you were seven would you love it?

PS:  I joined Project Spectrum. I love the idea of celebrating colors, I'm all about colors these days. The Knitting Olympics pushed me to explore things I wouldn't otherwise have, and I think Project Spectrum will do the same (just not as, uh, intensively). Colors for March are Red and Pink. It's not intentional, but all three knits in progress have one, the other or both!

Last week I decided I needed to try immersion dyeing on the stove. Electric roaster dyeing is great but time consuming. Plus, it's on the floor right now and my back is not so happy, what with the squating and hunching over. Hehe, not really, my back only minds for a little while.

I took a good long look at our pots and pans and picked the stainless steel Calphalon pasta/steamer set that I bought for pretty cheap on a few years ago, and which we've used maybe a half dozen times. Hubby agreed to sacrifice it to the dyeing gods. Yay!

The process was pretty new to me, so I split the 8 oz batch into two 4 oz batches. Still enough to make something with, and twice the dyeing opportunity.

Based on the previous experiments I figured equal mL vinegar to weight fiber, so in all I used about 250mL or a cup. I'm still trying to figure out what is a good amount; maybe I just need to get some pH papers. I also let each color exhaust before adding the next.

Batch one I figured I'd go primaries and see how it differed from my first primaries batch in the electric roaster.

I calculated a 4% dye concentration, which came to 454 mL, or just under 8 x 60 mL syringes. I remembered reading on fibernation that she liked adding lots of yellow because of how it changed the reds and blues, so I decided to start with 4 syringe-fuls of yellow:

Romney/Corriedale 1: lotsa yellow

and then thought, damn, that's a lot of yellow. Scott said it looked like a dog had peed on snow. I agreed. It was pretty downhill from there.

I added some blue, but it looked mostly green:

Romney/Corriedale 1: adding blue

and a seasick green at that. Look, the one spot on top that was still white!

At that point, it was "abandon all hope" so I added dots of red:

Romney/Corriedale 1: circles of red

and as the dye seemed to fade/lighten (like at the bottom), I kept adding more red to those same spots. What was I doing? Who knows. I poked underneath every now and then to see if the dye had exhausted, and eventually it looked like this:

Romney/Corriedale 1: what a mess

A mess. I was pretty disheartened, but chalked it up to experience.

Less is more. Less is more.

Enter batch 2. (And I moved to the left stove element, which was directly under the light. A-ha moment there.)

I started with blues this time, first a syringe-ful of Brilliant Blue:

Romney/Corriedale 2: starting with blue

and then a syringe-ful of Sky Blue:

Romney/Corriedale 2: another blue

and then marveled at how they looked the same! And so faint. So I doubled down:

Romney/Corriedale 2: double down

Less is more. Less is more. I added 5 mL of red on either side:

Romney/Corriedale 2: a bit of red

Only 5 mL made such an impact! I ended with just a bit more blues:

Romney/Corriedale 2: more blue

I let the rovings cool in buckets and then washed and rinsed. And something unexpected appeared.

Here they are dry:

Dyed Romney/Corriedale: Final results

Look at all those rust reds! Where did they come from? All that red I kept adding sank to the bottom of the pot. Where it mixed with yellow it became orange-y, and where it mixed with the blue-yellow (aka green) it became rusty. I suddenly loved it. What a surprise!

And the blue-reds? "I liked it better when it was Blue Moon Berry and Strawberries on merino." Hahaha. Um, are we over that yet? Can we be over it, please? Been there, done that? Hahaha. With so much less dye, though, the blues and reds struck pretty much where it was skooshed (what else would you call the syringe action?) and didn't take much time to exhaust. In fact, both sets were complete in less than the time for one set in the roaster. But, the pot is not huge (tall but not so wide), so I don't know what kind of results I could get with more fiber, too many layers I couldn't see. It's a trade-off. But it was fun!

I've been tagged twice now, so here goes... :)

Four jobs I have had in my life
1. (Web) Developer
2. Webmaster (having "master" in your title is always cool)
3. At a copy shop, making copies (and didn't watch SNL so the jokes were lost on me)
4. Actor (yup, it was not much money but I did get paid)

Four movies I could watch over and over
1. Shawshank Redemption
2. The Princess Bride
3. ... I have a bad memory for things like this ...

Four places I have lived
1. Etobicoke, ON
2. Oxford, AL
3. Cary, NC
4. Cambridge, MA

Four TV shows I love to watch
1. Battlestar Galactica
2. Firefly (on DVD, hmph, can't believe it was cancelled before I heard of it)
3. Stargate SG1
4. The Closer

Four places I have been on vacation
1. Poznan, Poland (to perform at an international theatre festival!)
2. Tokyo, Osaka, Kochi (Japan)
3. Atlantic Canada -- New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia
4. Rome, Florence, Venice -- the standard :)

Four websites I visit daily
2. (previously used

Four of my favorite foods
1. Curry, especially Japanese and Indian
2. Salmon Sashimi or maki that includes salmon and avocado
3. Shabu shabu, especially when my mom makes it
4. Maklooba (my sister makes this and I always overeat)

Four places I would rather be right now
1. home spinning or sleeping
2. North Carolina with family
3. Atlantic Canada - PEI; New Brunswick hanging out with Heidi at London-Wul
4. Japan visiting my grandmother

Four peeps I have tagged
1. PumpkinMama
2. Cheryl
3. MJ
4. You!

Wow, thanks for all the nice comments on skein one!

I fell asleep on the sofa watching SciFi's SG1 Monday. My eyes are all dried out (left the contacts in). Don't you hate when that happens? [blink blink]

Skein two was finished Sunday night, look, they match:

The Red and The Black - navajo plied set


I did manage to steam both skeins tonight before falling asleep. That's something. :)

I was almost done with my post and then the light by my desk flickered and my computer rebooted itself. So I'll leave you with the first skein and try again tomorrow.

The Red and The Black

One 2-oz skein of The Red and The Black is plied and it looks gorgeous. Love it. Love it! You know the whole dyeing plan? The one that didn't work as expected? It was my luck. Really. Because if it had gone as planned, I don't think it would look nearly as good.

You'll have to trust me on this, because I have an in progress shot:

The Red and The Black

an all spun up shot:

The Red and The Black

and a plied shot:

The Red and The Black - navajo plied

but no skeined yarn shot. I'll take that tomorrow. It's so cool. (FYI, I uploaded slightly larger photos so you can see more detail if you want.)

This was my first time navajo plying on the wheel, and while faster than the spindle by a longshot, it was more fiddly. The bobbin wound off more yarn than I could handle and then the yarn feeding from it would twist up and I'd have to stop the wheel to untwist. I think if I had a tensioned lazy kate that would take care of that problem. I found my rhythm, though, and it wasn't too bad. The skein is a little overtwisted, and while the final yarn is not at all rough, I lost some softness with so much twist. It does look sturdy, though, which is good because I intend to make socks.

Lady Luck

This morning's Knitters Breakfast was fun and overcrowded. They had JCA/Reynolds there this time with sample sweaters and some color cards. There were a couple of cute sweaters, but I can't see myself making any of them.

There was not nearly as much free yarn as last time (so I'm sorry if you went on my recommendation and was disappointed), and while they had some pattern booklets, they had no books. They did have some Malabrigo to raffle, and I chuckled because the caller didn't know how to pronounce it. How can you not know? You run what part of this store (and I'm assuming it has to do with the knitting area if you're at the Knitters Breakfast) and you don't know Malabrigo??

I mentioned I never win these things, raffles and the like. Just not lucky that way. Last Knitters Breakfast, there was so much stuff being given away, I thought I had a really good chance to win something. I mean, more than half the people there won something. Maybe even two thirds. Some people had their name called out twice! Anyway, as they're calling out numbers and I'm seeing this huge pile of stuff, I'm thinking, Nah, don't want that one, I hope I don't get it and waste my luck on that one. Ooo, that one, I want that one. Nah, not that one. Definitely not that one. So I'm sending my vibes to lady luck and hoping she hears me and gives me something I want. I got nothing.

Was I too picky? Too choosy? Not appreciative enough?

This time, they're hiding the pile of stuff behind the table so I don't know how much is left. But I'm taking a different approach to each item. I'm thinking, Hmm, well, I'm not crazy about that yarn but I'll take it. Sure, I'll take that, I'd be okay winning it. I could always trade it. Well, not much of a crocheter but okay, I could win that one too. Yes, yes, pick me. Call out my number! For anything!

See? Openness to chance. It is not for me to decide what I will win. I will not send any negative vibes to lady luck!

As usual, I didn't win anything. To be honest, I didn't expect to win anything. I hoped. One can always hope.

I did walk away with some yarn. Purchased. Half off Adrienne Vitadinni Celia, a 100% silk ribbon yarn, some in brown for a summer shell, and some in white to dye. It's all about the dyeing.

I wanted to explain the idea behind The Red and The Black (anyone read that in high school?).



Solid colored ends that bleed into lighter shades, separated by white. I thought that would be cool.

I figured each end was about 30% of the total, and would be at the full 4% concentration. The shady area I guesstimated another 10% at 4% (in other words, averaging out to about that amount of dye). So I measured 40% of the total weight at 4% strength for each color and added the dye to the very ends only. I figuring the dye would bleed into the middle areas. And I worked with 2 layers of fiber, 4 oz each.

So. What happened?

Well, I didn't add the vinegar to the dye or to the liquid already in there, so I had to either:

  • add the vinegar directly over the fiber, which is not great because of felting and because it won't migrate where it needs to go (will it?), or
  • add the vinegar to more water and pour along the edges

I opted for a combination of plans A and B. Which is to say, I started with A, then realized its limitation and switched to B. And while I was executing B (cut me some slack, I've been programming all day, I say executing), I realized it was not so great because as I added liquid to the ends, the dye started to migrate and dilute at the ends, which is so not where I wanted it diluted.

None of which mattered, ultimately, because the black was soooo strong. What I ended up with was more like this:


Still interesting, but not the original vision.

Lessions I learned:

  • Add the vinegar before the dye, or with the dye.
  • Use less black. Black is Strong.
  • If I really want to control placement, maybe cold pouring and plastic wrapping is the way to go.
  • If I already have 60% at 4%, and I want to split the remaining 40% between shade and white, then having an additional 20% at 4% makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. How about 20% at 2%? 20% at 1.5% What is wrong with my math these days?? I was a frickin' math major in college!***

I've almost got some free bobbins to start spinning it, because I plied some Finn:

Dyed Finn

Man, I suck at plying. (To be fair, I haven't done much of it yet.) It's hard.

These were done from left to right, and by the last one, I had a pretty good rhythm down. I wanted to keep the twist really loose to keep the yarn soft. The middle one is considerably more overtwisted, while the first and last are almost balanced. I might be one of those that has an easier time spinning than plying.

The plan for spinning The Red and The Black is to for half to be navajo plied, and the other half as either a 2 or 3 ply with each spool spun in matching order so that the plies mostly match up with slight variations. We'll see if this plan works better than the dyeing plan did.


Man, it takes so long to get anything done! All the spinning, all the dyeing, all the knitting, it all takes time! The crazy thing is, I have the luxury of time now, my commute is nigh nil. I'm so impatient to learn all I need to learn to make things I want to make. I want to dye the undyed yarns I bought and make some cool sock yarns (what? didn't I mention the undyed yarns? hmm, I guess I didn't mention the box o' imitation Malabrigo, either, hunh? no? the dyes? syringes for my addiction? stop that, my dyeing addiction, hmph). I want to knit the yarn I spun into socks! I haven't even cast on my Socks That Rock, and my WIP pile is going nowhere. How long before I know enough to do what I want?

I was the same way with programming. I spent the better part of 3 years learning everything I needed to know to create data-driven web apps, and at every step realized I needed to learn something more: VB.NET, ASP.NET and ADO.NET led to OOP and SQL Server which led to SQL; and along the way there was CSS, XML, IA, BLL... lotsa acronyms, eh? I was so impatient to get to the point I could pull it all together to create cool web apps utilizing best practices. Which is where I am now. Pulling it all together and doing some really cool things. Well, cool to me. ;)

So when does that happen with the dyeing? How do I even figure out how to get where I want to go?


Hehe, I meant my aside to be an FYI, not a busting at the seams. So here's the FYI:

The Fabric Place is having their bi-annual Knitters Breakfast this Saturday at each of their locations. It's at 8 am and they give away a LOT of yarn. I mean. A. LOT. Of. YARN. My luck is such that I never win in drawings or games of chance, but I figure I'm pretty lucky in life, so I'll be happy with that. And try not to be too jealous of the bags of yarn leaving in other lucky hands. Ahem. It costs $5, which is applicable to any purchase. And it comes with breakfast, fruit and pastries and coffee and stuff, which is worth the price of admission. So if you're near one, go! And if you go the one in Framingham, come say hi to me!

*** I was a theoretical math major for 1 1/2 years before I switched to theatre arts. Oh the stories. Oh the horror. Which reminds me, Cat tagged me for a meme! I've never been tagged before. Thanks, Cat, it's coming up soon. :)

I have to say, I'm in awe at the power of the Harlot. I mean, 4000 Knitting Olympians should have tipped me off... thanks to all who stopped by and thanks for saying hi!

Is anyone else having post-Olympic-what-the-hell-now-itis?

Nah, me neither.

This morning I caught sundrops on the walls:

Dancing Lights

courtesy of this unassuming porcupine that once belonged to Gram:

Porcupine Light Splitter

It lasted barely long enough to attempt photographs and was gone.

This afternoon, driving home, I saw 20+ wild turkeys in someone's front yard. And smiled.

Night before last, as with any night I've been dyeing, my mind danced over images of the dyed fiber, imagining what it might look like, resisting the urge to get up and rinse it, dry it, admire it while it dried. Yesterday morning I took a few photos of it wet; this morning, dry. Remember how I was excited to spin up the Finn? Doubly so The Red and The Black.

I had plans, measured dyes, squirted. But, well, ran into an array of problems. By the time it was ready to cook it looked like this:

Dyed Romney

Double, double, toil and trouble...

Exhausted, cooling for the night:

Dyed Romney

Rinsed in the morning:

Dyed Romney

Here's where we run into more trouble. I had the bright idea of using a dryer mesh bag and spinning in the washer. I even tested with a towel first and prevented water dropping on my fiber. But, well, I have a front loader. Front loaders kinda start out really slow, and that means everything in the washer, even fiber that has been oh-so-carefully tended to prevent felting, goes a-tossing and a-tumbling over and over and over. It took too long for the realization to sink in. Felted. Not complete unusable ropes, but man, I had been so careful!

It's still purty:

Dyed Romney

Come on, don't you want to spin some?

Dyed Romney