Friday, December 29, 2006
This pillow cover is made from commercially-spun thick and thin yarn. Since I had limited time, I chose to knit the pillow cover on the bias. Yes, I know there are just as many stitches regardless of the direction, but starting at the corner with just a few stitches allowed me to avoid knitting a swatch. I just increased until the garter-stitch fabric was an inch or so narrower than the pillow insert, then started decreasing along one edge, while still increasing along the other. When the longer edge was twice the length of the pillow, plus some, I changed to decreasing on both edges. The result was a long rectangle. I picked up and knitted 4 inches of rib on each end, then sewed up the pillow cover so that the overlap would be in the middle back of the pillow. Stuffing the pillow inside, I found that the overlap wasn't enough to avoid gapping, so I added three matching buttons. The buttons are small enough that they can be pushed through the ribbing without making buttonholes. With one extra skein I made the 4 tassels. Result: one soft, yet interestingly textured pillow.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Happy holidays to you and yours!! May the new year add a few more treasured memories to next year's tree.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I'm moving along on creating a new table for the trailer. I spent several hours Monday evening drawing the design in pencil. Tonight I started the woodburning. I completed the general structure of the vines and the center part of the sun design in about 3.5 hours. I still have thousands of little leaves to burn and the rays of the sun before I can start painting. The grain in the plywood makes even burning pretty difficult.
Enough for tonight. I'll press on tomorrow evening.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Yesterday was the spinning guild's annual Holiday Party. Along with a fabulous potluck, a silent auction, and general merriment, we had an ornament exchange. I was happy to see that several needle-felted ornaments had resulted from last month's workshop. I do believe I made the score of the day, since I ended up with this fabulous felted dog made by Connie. She is modeled after Connie's dog, Sophie. Isn't she fabulous!?!
Must go work on holiday projects while the wood-filler dries...
Monday, December 04, 2006
Meanwhile, I have found myself short on yellow so last night I mixed up a dyepot with a generous amount of "Sabraset Sun Yellow 180". I threw in a mixed mass of white wool including romney, merino, and some alpaca. I stewed the stuff in the crockpot on low for a couple of hours. The resulting color (after rinsing) was the most glorious yellow imaginable! Unfortunately the picture doesn't come close to its full glory. There was still plenty of dye in the pot, so I threw in a mixed bunch of... well.... pretty ugly pastel stuff. The blue turned to a nice green, but the best transformation of all was the pink mohair curls that turned a beautiful russet orange-gold. The dyepot still wasn't exhausted so I threw in more white and and left it slowly cooling in the crockpot overnight. The result was a lemon yellow - not as glorious as the first batch, but good enough to allow me to save the first batch for a special project.
Saturday I took my new little trailer to the DMV for VIN inspection and registration. This should have been relatively simple. It took over 4 hours. The VIN was nowhere to be found and the nice inspector's computerized engraving tool refused to engrave through 53 year old petrified paint. He ended up dusting off an old toolbox full of metal stamps and hammering the VIN into the trailer tongue with a heavy mallet. (The folks in the cars behind me in line looked kinda testy, but noone honked. Perhaps that was due to the obvious presence of traffic cops.) Once inside, the DMV officer mistyped my drivers license and, due to the arcane complexity of the DMV's computer system, it took several supervisors and a couple of hours to keep my trailer's plates from being mailed to some guy named Roger Marsh. This is where the magical stress-relieving properties of knitting came into play. I just sat back in my chair and knitted. Although I did not, as predicted by one frustrated employee, finish a sweater while I waited, I was able to remain calm and breezy.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
In the past week or so I have learned a lot. Here are a few of the things I have learned:
1. Trailer hitches come in a vast variety of heights, even if the guy at U-Haul who installed your hitch neglected to mention this fact.
2. Trailer tires cost more than regular car tires.
3. Soon after learning fact #2, Murphey's Law guarantees that other expensive auto repair will suddenly be required.
4. Single-axle trailers are a bit tricky to back up.
5. When you mention you are buying a trailer, people you don't even know show up to give you advice on how to back it up.
6. Your ability to back it gracefully is inversely proportionate to the number of people who are watching.
7. It is important to have trailer bearings repacked, because a former owner may have done it himself and bungled the job.
8. If you carefully park the trailer in a back corner of a parking lot, leaving just enough room to pull out, other drivers will think you know something special and carefully wedge their SUVs into the narrow spots at either end.
9. When you finally find coffee during the long trip across the Nevada Desert, it will come in a cup with a mysterious, yet persistant dribble.
She is now comfy and cozy under a tarp in my driveway, waiting for spring.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I have been longing to knit with handspun. There are many fabulous commercially spun yarns to choose from, and I have regularly fallen prey to their wiles and now own bins and baskets full of them, yet they never give quite the satisfaction that comes from knitting with my own handspun. So with a holiday weekend ahead of me I pulled out some lovely handspun that was waiting patiently in my fiber room for just the right project. I bought the fiber at Black Sheep Gathering a couple of years ago. It is 50%-50% wool-mohair from BearDog Fibers. They called the colorway "Spring Leaves". I kept passing it by as I wandered about the Market, telling myself that I had absolutely no need for it. It wormed its way into my conciousness and just as we were leaving the last day, I dashed back in and bought all they had. Not as much as I would normally buy for a don't-know-what-the-project-will-be project, but enough for something. I spun the fiber up into an approximately fingering weight yarn, to get as much yardage as possible. Still I had no project in mind and the yarn was put away for future inspiration. The inspiration came from Birdsong's Blog. She recently made a "Seraphim Shawl" using a pattern available from http://mimknits.com. I admired it greatly and purchased the pattern. "Spring Leaves" sounds just right for the leaf-patterned lace border. I have started the shawl and it is working up quickly so far. It starts at the back of the neck and worked outwards, with the lace knitting at the end. I am taking it on faith that I have enough yarn, since I neglected to McMorran it. (Taking chances makes life interesting, right?)
I hope everyone's Thanksgiving is fun and safe. Me, I'll be overeating and knitting with happy, fuzzy, green handspun.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I still need to practice some on my grouting technique, but I feel confident that, with a bit of preplanning, I can tackle the bathrooms. I just need to choose a color pallette and start accumulating the right stuff to smash.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Last night I continued making samples, including a pony (created by wrapping roving around pipecleaners), a sun, and a couple of "squiggle ball" ornaments. For the workshop, I showed folks the basics, passed out needles and sponges, and we all dove into the piles of fibers. Although many folks started with basic balls, Toni made a llama, Polly made a furry tribble with a shiny silver glitz hat, and Heidi made an ornament shaped like a wrapped present.
As the "teacher", I was pleased by the occasional silence, interspersed with discussion and laughter as everyone concentrated and shared their projects. I was also pleased that noone needed the large box of bandaids I had on hand! I made a third squiggle ball (I like playing with layer upon layer of bright colors). I sent everyone home with their needles and sponges, so I am looking forward to seeing what shows up at the next meeting's ornament exchange!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
After the class (and after a shopping spree in the Museum Shop) I took a tour of local thrift shops to buy stuff to use in my mosaic class. I am now the proud owner of a mass of ugly, but interestingly colored or textured, china. Plus I bought several wooden boxes, bookends, and a tray that could be the base to mosaic on top of. The best scores were from the bargain room of the local Good Will. There the posted price is $1 per pound, but the clerk eyeballed my shopping cart full of china and charged me only $14! And that included a cool vintage wall sconce that I may clean up, rewire and install somewhere.
Now on to knitting before bed.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Saturday I had my first session of a 2-weekend Japanese Printmaking class at the Nevada Museum of Art. At the beginning of the class, the teacher asked each of the dozen students to introduce themselves and tell their art background. I was a bit intimidated to learn that half the class have MFAs, teach college-level art, or have studied art in exotic foreign places. Toward the end of the day I went around and looked at what folks were carving on their blocks and most of them were using finely detailed ambitious images. My snake design is looking rather cartoonish in comparison. It was lots of fun, anyway, and as part of the class we got to tour the ongoing exhibit of Whistler's prints. I have spent most of today continuing to carve my blocks (and vaccuming any wood shavings that weren't already embedded in my socks). I will be printing one image using three different blocks. Since we will be using watercolor pigments, where the images overlap, the colors will blend. The final image (assuming I did this right) will be of three snakes intertwined against a patterned background. Yes, I know it is snakes again, but they really are easy to draw. Across the snakes I carved the words "SOME SNAKES SLITHER". When I planned this, I had no idea how hard it is to carve "S"es. We get to print next session.
A quick knitting note or two: The red socks came out of the wash wonderfully. They shrunk only the needed amount and they are now soft and thick. The fingerless gloves are coming along, but it turned out the stitch repeat causes the yellow to stack up in an unattractive way. Eileen and Laura have both suggested cures for this, but I have decided to just slog on and see what they look like in the end. The suri alpaca feels wonderful running through my hands and the gloves are knitting up quickly despite the size 1 needles. I'll post a picture when I get further along.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Amid all this excitement I have finished the red socks. They are a bit big, but that is a good thing. I have noticed that the wool socks that accidentally make their way into the wash not only come out smaller, but they tend to wear like iron. I was planning to try turning them inside out and surface felting them a bit, but maybe I'll just throw them in with the next load of red stuff I do. Now that I have them done, I am allowing myself to start on the fingerless gloves.
Finally, it is just plain gorgeously autumn out there. So here are a couple of pictures I took today around campus.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
All of the products of the crockpot are now dry. Except for the now-orange beast roving, which is truly ugly, I can imagine a future for them all. I am dying (and dyed) to start knitting the fingerless gloves, but I must be stern with myself and finish my red socks first.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I tied the two skeins together at 4 points so that the color variegations would be the same length in both skeins.
I soaked the yarn in warm water for 20 minutes or so, with a little dishsoap as a wetting agent.
I set up the crockpot with two glass canning jars inside.
Shuffling through my collection of dyes, I chose sun yellow, mountain blue, and grevillea (yellow, blue and red). A purist would have weighed out the fiber and mixed up dye solutions, adding just the right amount after careful calculations. I don't do math on weekends, especially not when I don't feel well. So I filled each canning jar, and the crockpot around them, about 2/3rds full of warm water. I sprinkled red into one jar, blue into another, and yellow into the surrounding water.
I stirred each color with a seperate chopstick (very handy items - I always pick up an extra set when buying Chinese food). I set the crockpot to low.
Then I stuck one end of the presoaked skein in the red jar and the other in the blue jar, letting the lengths between drape into the yellow. I put the lid on and left the whole thing to simmer for about 2.5 hours. Then I turned off the crockpot and let it cool for a couple of hours. The aforementioned purist has unending patience and would let it cool overnight. I'm not a purist.
When I rinsed out the skein it ran a lot, but the remaining color is anything but subtle.
Here it is hanging in the sun to dry.
Since there was still plenty of dye in the pot, I stuffed some white wool into the blue and now tomato red liquid (I accidently knocked over the red into the yellow). After simmering for a couple more hours, the blue was exhausted, but the red was still going strong. So I added more water and stuffed a bunch of "Beast" roving into the pot. Then I threw in some yellow roving to be overdyed. The pot was still not exhausted, but what was left became more and more orange. The next morning I threw in even more fiber. Finally exhausted!
All in all, the actual energy required for this project was low and the length of simmering time for each batch of fibers allowed plenty of nap time.
According to the receipt, I have 14 and 5/8 oz of the stuff (who has a scale that weighs in eighths of an oz?). This will be too much for some things and not enough for others. Ignoring all impracticalities, and assuming the resulting yarn will tell me what it wants to be, I set forth. The color ranges of the fiber run lengthwise in each batt.
I rolled the batt like a jelly roll, then pulled it out into roving from the end.This strategy mostly kept the color ranges together. I spun it fine, then plied it into a 2-ply yarn of approximately fingering weight. I love the way the swatch comes out! When I have all the batts done, I'll McMorran it to estimate the yardage. Only then will I be able to figure out its final destination.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Each year we hold the Spinsters' Retreat at Davis Creek Park in Washoe Valley. Northern Nevada weather being what it is, sometimes we fry and sometimes we freeze. Occasionally we do both in the same weekend. This year the weather gods smiled upon us and it was just right - warm during the day and cold enough at night to make roasting marshmallows at the campfire a necessity. The only casualty of the weekend was the loss of my telescoping weenie fork, which rolled off a rock and was stepped on in the dark. Ah well, it roasted many a perfect marshmallow while it lasted.
The Retreat is all about unwinding with friends and fibers. This year Becky and her daughter Jerica made it all the way from Battle Mountain and Wayne came all the way from somewhere in the general direction of Yerington. Some folks stayed all weekend and some just for Saturday. Linda gave a workshop on fiber preperation, and we all did some shopping from each others' fiber stashes. Saturday night included exploration of the perfect marshmallow roasting technique, along with how to spindle or knit by only the light of a campfire. Each night concluded with the puzzle of fitting 3 coolers and all other edibles into a single bear safe.
Sunday morning we all concluded that it would be fun to have a spring retreat out Becky's direction. Maybe at Rye Patch State Recreation Area. Stay tuned for details. I promise to double check I have all my camera parts next time!
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I spent all afternoon yesterday clearing off, dismantling and removing the old table. That left a big open space in the kitchen, just right for cat olympics. What do you do with old cash-register tape when you get a new model? I unrolled several full rolls in tangles all over the house. Zach particularly enjoys diving into it and rolling around.
As for me, I am thinking about all the possibilities for finishing my new table. More vines, I think, and perhaps frogs....
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I hope it made up for the earlier multi-colored pair I sent that, when left to dry by the radiator, bled bright-colored permanent stains onto my sister's carpeting.