Saturday, February 9, 2013

Thoughts on a February Saturday

Yesterday I told Doug I would knit him a pair of knee-high argyle socks.  He has a new Brompton folding bicycle and is thinking about riding in the Brompton US Championship Race in June, sponsored by Calhoun Cycle.  It is common for the riders to wear old-style clothing.  I've been thinking I should sew him a set of tweedy knickers.  He would very much like to have argyle socks, too.  I agreed to knit them for him.

Today I'm wondering about how fine the yarn will need to be for this project, since I will be working in the round and this means stranded colorwork.  I will do an internet search for "how to knit intarsia in the round" because I've heard it's possible.  For a pair of socks I am expecting to find that intarsia in the round is more trouble than it is worth.  That means stranding two colors.  That means thick socks unless the individual yarns are quite fine.  The socks need to fit into dress shoes, so they cannot be too thick.  Hmmm.

Other knitting thoughts today.  Doug's Lounger is nearly complete.  I would like the finished sweater to measure 24" in length.  I would like to build in extra length in case of a bit of fulling, as this sweater will be sent through the washer/dryer.  26" will do nicely.  The sweater is at 23.5".  The final ten inches of body have been a slog.  I'm ready to have this sweater finished (so I can move on the the argyle socks).  2.5 more inches, fitting, steeking, fitting, seaming the sleeves, knitting the neckband.  It's very close.  It will definitely be finished for spring, to be put away for next winter.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


This was meant to be "Grello".  It  began as six skeins of something called "Flamme", which I dug out of a box at Bargain Bill's in Chippewa Falls, WI.  The label says "Made in Turkey" and "75% Cotton  17% Acrylic  8% Polyamide" and "Color 05".  It does not say "made by X Company".  

The colors in this yarn were cream, tan and grey.  I wanted the cream to turn into a light yellow, to make a yellow-grey for working up into a lightweight spring/summer sweater.  So I soaked the yarn in water-soap-vinegar while I heated water in my canning pot.  I dumped in a small spice jar of turmeric and a few glugs of white vingear.  When that water was hot, I chucked the six skeins into the pot and stirred.  I also tossed a skein of handspun corriedale in, just because.  

I had heard that "natural dying" results in not-too-vibrant colors.  I had heard that natural dying results in colors that may wash out easily.  These things were not true.  

Now I have six tangled messes of an atomic-goldyellow-odd green cotton/acrylic/polyamide suitable for ??what??  And a skein of corriedale in :

Flat atomic goldyellow.  

Turmeric is serious spice.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Yesterday the trees here decided to start shedding their leaves.  I think it was the aspens that started it.  The maples are holding steady.  They think it's just fine for the early-turning yellow-leafed trees to start dropping.  The maples prefer to have the stage to themselves for their red-orange-purple show, anyway. 

Besides the color show and the dropping leaves and that heady autumn scent in the air, I love October for the cooling temperatures.  I also love October for the excuse to eat a caramel apple.  Every year in October I treat myself to a big ole caramel apple.  I wait until the weather turns cold.  Last year, it never did turn cold enough.  And I never got that apple.  This year I am intent.  I harbor caramel-apple-eating intentions.  All I need is that crisp autumn day.  I hear it's on the way.  This.  Week. 

I also love October (and November) because sometimes we get a cold rain with the wind blowing a gale outside.  And sometimes that happens over a weekend.  And THAT gives me a fine excuse to stay in the house and sip a hot cocoa and read and nap and knit and spin and sew.  A blowing gale never, ever gives me an excuse to clean the house.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ishkur, I am your Shala

Here is a story:

Once upon a time.  I drove to Astoria, OR.  Then I drove to Seattle, WA by way of Tacoma, WA.  Then I drove to Eugene, OR.  And at Eugene, OR I attended Black Sheep Gathering 2012.  And I met my best friend Sasha, of the Spin Doctor podcast.  And I shopped for fiber.  And I showed Sasha one of the fibers I purchased. 

It was this:

 Polwarth, 8oz, from Crown Mountain Farms in the colorway Ishkur.  I asked Klaus about “Ishkur”, and he told me that this is the name of a very old god.  And the god’s lady friend was named Shala.  So I said, “I will be Shala to this Ishkur” and bought it. 

I didn’t buy it because of the name or the story of a Mesopotamian god and his consort.  I bought it because the colorway attracted and repulsed me.  My first thought when I saw it was “uck”, but I kept circling back around the booth to pick it up again.  It was a scary colorway.  I had no idea how it would spin up or what I would do with yarn of such colors.  I bought it as a challenge. 

And then I brought it to my best friend Sasha and asked her to tell me how to spin it.  Sasha held and stroked and gazed at Ishkur in a way Shala did not appreciate.  But then she released the fiber and suggested a thick-and-thin singles.  I was game. 

Then one day I took my Ishkur to my spinning group and asked my best friend Theresa to show me how to spin a thick-and-thin singles.  She was happy to do this, and I was off and spinning.  Now I have these:
 Two Ishkurs. 

I’ve looked up more information about Ishkur.  He was a god of storms and rain.  Ah, I get it.  Lightning and thunder and walls of blowing dust and funnel clouds that pick up some houses and leave others standing.  Unpredictable, astonishing power.  Ishkur.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bunch of Bags

My best friend Jan joined me a few weeks ago in ripping up the carpet throughout our little house.  In appreciation, I am giving her these bags:

Thanks, Jan.

I modeled them after a reusable bag I had purchased from Jewel-Osco.

Here is the long version of the story:  Once upon a time.  The local Jewel-Osco grocery store was selling reusable bags.  For a dollar.  This was many, many years ago.  Jewel was ahead of its time.  I bought a bunch of these bags.  My mother bought bunches of them.  And she has now used these bags weekly for at least 15 years.  They're tough nylon things, but she has managed to wear holes in them and has patched those holes with: duct tape.

I saw that this was true and determined to provide her with similar reusable bags.  I brought her a few prototypes made from cotton duck fabric and she chose the one she liked best -- the one I modeled after the Jewel-Osco bag.  I made her a bunch of bags.  There was enough fabric left to make slightly smaller versions for myself.  Then the carpet and my best friend helping with that project, and now the smaller bunch of bags are hers.  Well, they soon will be.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The First of Three

As I was explaining to Abby of the Knit Knit Cafe, there is a project I want to crochet.  The magazine and pattern have been set aside for me at my LYS.  Then I came face to face with the sheer number of partially-completed knitting projects.  My inner Governess instructed me to complete three projects, using yarn I already have in my home, before I purchase the yarn and magazine.

And now, the first of the three projects is complete:

 Sock Project 1.  

This is the first completed pair of the Sock Project (more to come in another post), meant to teach myself more about sock construction techniques.  Once upon a time many years ago I bought a skein of Trekking XXL intent upon knitting a pair of socks.  I knit a sock.  It was, I thought, just a bit large for my foot.  Nine or so years later, I knit another sock, using the yarn from the original sock as I unraveled it.  And now there are two.  Two socks.  A pair.  For me.

For purposes of the Sock Project, some stats:  Completed September, 2012.  Trekking XXL.  Size 2.25mm dpns (I think).  Top-down.  Long-tail cast on, 68 st.  Rib for 8 rds, then inc 1 st to 69 st.  Cuff to 4 in.  Pattern: Rd 1: P1, *Twist 2, P1;  Rds 2-4: P1, *K2, P1.  Heel Flap w/ slipped stitches.  At Gusset, change pattern to:  Rd 1: P1, *Twist 2, P1;  Rd 2: P1, *K2, P1.  Foot to 7 in.  Toe decreases e/o rd to 32 st, then every rd to 16 st and graft toe.

That change of pattern at the gusset was the result of a brain blip during the first sock.  It makes the foot a bit more snug, which is something I like.  The short cuff is intentional.  These are meant as after-hike socks.  I often get a bit rashy above the ankles by the end of a long hike.  Something to do with the combination of socks, tight boot lacing, long distance and heat.  I imagined a short-cuff set of socks to change into would be ideal for having just enough coverage under a pantleg while giving my troubled skin a chance to breathe.  They're perfect after-hike socks.

And now I have this:

38 grams of this yarn left over from the project.  That's nearly 40% of the original skein, by weight.  I think that means a second set of socks, perhaps with shorter cuffs and a corresponding yarn for toes and heels.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Lovely Thing

Here is a lovely thing:

It's the Maia shoulderette by Romi Hill.  I made it from a yarn given to me by a former podcast listener of my former podcast, Knitajourney.  The yarn is Pagewood Farm St. Elias sock yarn in the colorway Army Girl, 80/20 BFL/Nylon, 40z, 450 yds.  The skein was just enough to make most of a Maia, leaving off the final few rows of edging.

I knitted this lovely thing on the way to and then from the Pacific Northwest, on a grand road trip to visit friends (hello, friends!), shop for yarn and fiber, and attend Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR.  Also, I was in my role as support team to my husband Doug who was on a mission to ride his bicycle across the country.  Mission aborted.  And that resulted in a road trip back to Duluth with Doug sharing the driving, and That resulted in my finishing the Maia just as we were traveling the final 45 miles to our house.

And so, the day after returning home, between loads of laundry and unpacking I was able to take the finished lovely thing out to the garden for a snap.  I've been wearing Maia often, it's just enough to keep the chill from my neck and shoulders as I'm sitting on the front porch knitting or spinning at the end of a long summer day.

Thanks, Romi.