Monday, March 29, 2010

I Got Fiber This Weekend

And we're not talking cereal that looks like bales of hay. After my fun filled weekend learning how to hand-dye I revisited the shop to pickup blank sock yarn. Above is the result of my class. Of course I also found the bargain basket and adopted six balls of silk yarn that needed a home. I'm envisioning a sleeveless top-but don't hold me to that. On the way home I stopped at the grocery store and snagged a couple boxes of food dye (the brand recommended in the book). So, to review, yarn, dye and stuff I already have at home. Check.
I didn't jump into dye mode. No, I for some odd reason pulled my drop spindle out and tortured a piece of roving for hours. I even plied it but neglected to photo. It's looks somewhat respectable...if you like slubby novelty yarn. I actually enjoyed it. No really, I think I'm going to add my first spin project to the dye pile and knit a hat. That's what I have roaming around in my brain at the moment.

My w.i.p. has had a steek cut. Did I forget to mention it? Oh, so sorry, I'm building a double breasted sweater/jacket. It wasn't what I intended when I started but this happens when I knit. I'll have to post pics of that along with my lumpy hand spun yarn. Remind me later-kay?

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm Dyeing

Just when I thought  I was over starting new things I go and sit in on a demo on hand dyeing. Fun, fun, fun! And not a budget killer. In fact, Gail Callahan's, aka The Kangaroo Dyer, gave some excellent eco friendly suggestions during her talk. Her book, Hand Dyeing Yarn & Fleece is reasonably priced and in a great format--the binding is spiral so the book stays OPEN as you work through the steps. The seminar was held at Metaphor Yarns on Rte. 2. (aka Mohawk Trail). It's a beautiful ride any time of the year but especially dazzling in the fall.

Not only did I sit in but I got to play too! I now have a hank of fingering weight yarn hanging to dry. Gail had one of the half dyed hanks from the book's cover and she let me dye the other half. I felt Special. If I worked it out right I will have a pair of green/yellow/orange striped socks, or mittens, or maybe I'll over-dye the whole thing and.....ahhhhhh, a monster is born! Next time you see me I'll have blue/green/red stained hands. Fetching, no?

Another great thing about dyeing yarn is you don't have to be a knitter/crocheter/weaver to enjoy it. You could sell it or gift it to a fiber friend. It's just fun I tell you. Highly recommended. Think its messy? Think again. We worked on a white tablecloth covered with plastic of course, let's not be silly, in an area approximately 36" square. The point being you don't need a huge studio or a lot of gadgets. Children would have a blast and are fearless. We borrowed one from the audience and she did a great job.

The rest of the weekend was spent raking 500 gazillion maple "helicopters" out of the lawn. I've owned this property for 20 years and this is the first time the stupid trees have dropped every. single. helicopter. they possessed. I couldn't move my arms to knit Saturday night. On the upside the temps hit 70 degrees. Deeelightful.

A book/seminar review and whining all in the same post--you lucky ducks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So here's the bottom of The Stash. All the bits and pieces left from projects over the last few years. The round neck isn't bad for a first try but I see room for improvement. If I EVER in my life feel the need to wear camo pants I'll have a sweater that coordinates. As that won't be happening jeans will do.

The cardigan has been designated as the Downstairs Sweater. You know, the one you leave at arms length when New England gets chilly.

Yesterday, the Bike Path resembled 91 North on a ski weekend. Bikes, people, dogs, strollers, rollerbladers (?) out enjoying the over 60 temps. Along the path folks were laying in the sun, filling picnic tables with goodies or just taking in the view of Barton's Cove. Like the first robin sighting there were pastey legged folks in shorts strolling and acting as if the dampness and cool breeze off the water wasn't bothering them a bit--stoic New Englanders. My two mile trek was just as awesome and for the first time in ages I didn't feel like crashing on the couch 2 seconds after getting home from work. This spring thing might just work.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm An Hour Off

With a party-filled weekend and a time adjustment, the past 3 days have been a discombobulated mess. It's amazing what a single hour and grey drizzly weather can do. I'm blaming everything on the time change.

I'm blaming it for the crappiest pizza I have ever made. After watching a show on pizza wars, NY vs. Chicago (NY being my pizza of choice) I went out to the kitchen and created a dough "thin enough to read the NY Times". I plopped the toppings on, cranked the oven to 500 blasting degrees, slid it in. I watched carefully so as not to burn the cheese (something did set the smoke alarm off) and removed for a short cooling. THE WORST. Blech. First time I have thrown pizza out. May have something to do with the show's 900 degree oven to my 500 degree. D*$#n time change.

I'm blaming the time change on my lack of motivation, my inability to form simple words into a sentence, and my bad hair day.

I'm blaming it for my brilliant idea of mixing a lime Airborne tablet with a cup of green tea and having it taste like...wait for it....chicken. Chicken? I was trying to get warm and de-stress in one application. I'll try orange Airborne next time. Stoopid time change.

On the knitting side of my life I'm finishing my Stashbuster sweater--buttons and blocking required--the stash drawers are empty, vacant, with more than 2 weeks to go before my annual pilgrimage to WEBS annual anniversary sale. Not that I couldn't go before hand but why pay full price when all those goodies will be on sale? Logical, yes?

I'll take that back, I did venture to Keene, NH with a Christmas gift certificate in hand to redeem at a teeny yarn store. Fortunately they carried Cascade 220 (limited supply) which I snagged the largest amount of an acceptable color and headed for the checkout counter. For a bit of background, I'm not a fan of teeny yarn stores though the hostess was quite pleasant unlike many small yarn shops in my own territory that in the past have made me feel unwelcome. You know who you are....brutes.

The second reason I wanted to flee? A group of knitters in a circle just off the checkout area with that One Token Person who gets asked a perfectly simple yes or no question and it launches into their life history with all the gory details that no one asked or wanted to know about. I'm a private, solo, get out of my zone  knitter. No knitting groups for me thankyouverymuch. No talk, more knit. I don't need to know your "stuff".  Though of course, when the pleasant lady asked me how I constructed the sweater I was wearing you might of thought E.F. Hutton was going to give out stock secrets. Dead Silence from the Knitting Group. Gah! It's just me but  I hate that. Felt like my sweater and all other articles of clothing had been stripped and I was left there standing in my gauchies (that's undies for translation folks). I briefly (no pun intended) explained The nice lady oohed and acknowledged that as she owns the yarn shop she should probably know how to do a steek but does not. Dead Silence continued. Okee Dokee it's really hot all of a sudden. Can I have my clothes, yarn and slither out of here please? Thanks. What should have been a quick in quick out shopping transaction once again became yet another uncomfortable small yarn shop experience with the lady who was  nice. I can just imagine what the Drama Princess in the knitting circle would have done. Hours of blah, blah, blah.

'Kay, where was I? Yes, yes, wrapping up that diatribe brings me to six hanks of a reddish solid worsted weight wool. I'm thinking of making another version of the sweater I was wearing at the yarn shop (see "Gold Standard" by following The Done Stuff link in the right column). This should tide me over until the BIG SALE. And coincidentally, my income tax return came--just in time. No, no it won't all become yarn. Wish it could!

I could always dig out the drop spindle and practice but with that whole hour changey thingy....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wait! I Need More Winter!

The weather in Western Massachusetts is getting WAY too warm! I'm not done with comfy wool sweaters yet. My head's not ready for springy cottons and silks.
Too bad for me cuz I really don't have a say in it do I?
"what are you whining about now?"

Monday, March 01, 2010

Cleaning the Stash

After the Knitting Olympics project was finished, I was officially stash busted of worsted weight wool in a single color in one dye lot. It was time to clean out the stash from bits of this and blobs of that. I also decided to be a big girl and attempt the very last style of top down knitting from Ms. Walker's book that has incited fear in me for years: The Round Yoke. As with the top down set in sleeve, the round yoke was a breeze. Gawd, what took me so long.

The only part that caused pause was how many stitches to appoint to each section once I got to the underarm. I referred back to the raglan section, applied some logic and gave it my best shot. So far everything fits. I'm hoping the sleeves aren't too roomy. I'll make notes for next time. (I say that then I never do.)
The pattern is straight out of my head as I knit and as you can see not much was in my head at the time. There was some fudging here and there as I didn't bother to count how many stitches I had to work with. Seems to have worked out. I'm hoping the increase "lines" disappear after blocking.

To be perfectly honest, part of the reason I haven't attempted this style is because I don't like them. In my opinion, these style sweaters look best on folks with broad shoulders and for those of us who don't have broad shoulders they accentuate the problem. I also shy away from "busy" garments as a personal preference. I've seen and admired some absolutely fabulous multi stranded sweaters but if I had one I wouldn't wear it. I'm a plain dresser. Plain and Simple. (Those in the know may apply those adjectives to me in areas other than wardrobe.)

I have enough "half a ball of this, 2 hanks of that" to create another yoke style or switch back to a drop shoulder to keep the design on the front and back only. We'll see. April is coming and that means WEBS Anniversary Sale will be here for fresh pickings to restock my stash. My favorite time of the year!

Knitting Olympics- Finished

This entry is several days worth to keep progress together in one blog.
At the lighting of the cauldron 68 stitches were cast on. No technical difficulties were experienced.

After the vacuuming and defurring of the Olympic Facility, the program featured short rowing shoulders and advanced into the set-in sleeve. Making good progress and getting ready to bind off for the bottom of the 4" steek in the front, a red flag was thrown. Something was off about the right sleeve. Some deliberation from the judge found a marker had been placed incorrectly causing lopsided increases. Program had to be frogged to where the sleeve cap stitches are picked up, the marker moved to the correct position and the re-knitting commenced. She may lose points from the total score.

A birthday celebration delayed today's event. Providing weather conditions continue to be favorable, no further delays are expected.

At 10:46 am all qualifying heats were finished and the long program (body of sweater) began. Short programs (sleeves and neckline finishing) will follow.

Today's program had a delayed start due to weather conditions (snowstorm slowed down the commute from work to home)and ended at the midway point with shaping completed.

Entering the final laps of the body section with a 2x1 rib to create a clean finish. If the pace continues the program will finish long before the closing ceremony. (will there be a second event?) Time will tell. The Short Progams are still in the wings.
The long program finished today. A solid performance! The Short Program started immediately.

A gusset maneuver was performed to remove bulk and make the underarm comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. The Judge hates a bulky underarm.

The first short program had several venues. A few rounds of competition took place at the dentist's waiting room, a few more at the car wash. Once Christmas dinner (yes, the final installment of Christmas managed to take place.) and gift exchange was complete, the short program reeeeeaaaalllllyyy cranked. Through Curling (U.S. Men won-finally), giant slalom and ice dancing the first of the three short programs was complete. The judge called it a night.

The second short program completed before Apolo Ohno started his quest for a 7th medal. To add to the excitement, the steek was cut, stitches picked up, knit, and the resulting edges sewn into place which started the final short program. The completion of the collar is expected tomorrow.

After two false starts the collar was added finishing the compulsory programs. Up next? Free Style finishes.

The free style program is still being developed.
Another snowstorm has hindered the medal (button) purchasing.
The wet heavy snow continues and has knocked out the electricity to the Olympic Arena several times. Local roadways have been banned from use so no medal shopping today!
After wicked weather delays, extended work hours and a medical procedure for a family member (everyone is fine), a trip to the button shop garnered gold, silver and bronze-ish buttons and ribbon to finish the interior raw fuzzy edges of the steek. Meanwhile, the sweater has been blocked and is ready to receive it's medals (buttons).

The Gold, Silver & Bronze medals have been awarded. Applause from the crowd is deafening!

And so concludes the 2010 Winter Knitting Olympics. It was the thrill of victory and the agony of my butt from sitting and knitting so long. The competition had its tough moments. The marker snafu, the shoveling of heavy wet slop, and the stiff fingers trying to knit in a house that dropped below 60 degrees when the power went out. But that's what its all about, isn't it?
"She's whining about her butt again; we're exhausted from all the Curling."