Monday, March 26, 2007

A New Series

Back in March and April of last year I did a couple of series, one on spam e-mails (which quickly ran out of steam, since they are so repetitive) and one tracking the blooming of an amaryllis, which would have been much more attractive had my camera been, well, not crappy (it was crappy in a bad way, not in a good, artistic way).

I've been thinking for awhile about doing another series, but a more deliberate and ongoing one. I love where I live and while I can be a bit of a complainer, often cranky, and depressed, the colors and textures of the country rarely fail to bring me joy. As I've thought about how to convey this place, the way I am seeing it has been changing, I'm seeing more detail and more color. I think the first days of Spring is an appropriate time to begin, so here is the first in an occasional, as-yet-to-be-titled series:


I live 35 miles from where I work. There a couple of ways to get there, one is the highway which has the advantage of speed but the disadvantage of Traffic. The other is The Back Way. It's slower and has about 3 miles of dirt road which, before it is graded in the spring threatens to take out my tiny little Escort. But it is so pretty and there is much less traffic than the highway. When we moved out there, I thought I would hate the commute. I don't, I love the drive.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Letting Go

My aunt Ann is dying. This has been true for a couple of years -- she has a particularly virulent form of Parkinson's and is being systematically robbed of the use of her body. I don't know what to say about it, really. I didn't know her well; she is my mother's sister and because I grew up with my father and stepmother, I saw her side of the family mostly at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My mother left yesterday to spend a month in Florida with aunt Ann, my uncle Con and cousin Barb. She will travel back to Michigan with them at the end of April, where, hopefully, home health will be set up and waiting. I am very sad. Sad for my mom, and my uncle and cousin. But sad, especially, for my aunt.

I sent Icarus with my mom. I thought that, at the very least, Ann's shoulders could be warmed by something beautiful. I told my mother to remember, when she sees the shawl to hold Ann's hand and to give her some comfort.
Icarus Detail

Monday, March 19, 2007


This morning it was 30 degrees and we had rain, snow, and sleet in various combinations. But yesterday:


There is something about stuff that I planted months ago coming out of the ground that makes me feel. Optimistic. You know?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yarn Love

But first things first. I had intended to send my sister an e-mail, but I think it should be a more public announcement (no, not that. Not that either): despite the lack of blogging about it, and the lack of pictures, I have started the Bath Mat. I know, you're dying of excitement. But I have to say, I am pretty pleased with how it is coming out. I decided early on that I wanted to do a striped mat, and since one of the yarns Sarah picked is variegated, the stripes needed to be wide. I remembered a discussion about a number sequence (Fibonacci) from an old listserv I was on (Aranknit) and did some calculating (unusual for me) and am now several inches in. It's oddly compelling, for garter stitch. So, Sarah, you will be getting a mathematically and aesthetically pleasing bath mat in the not-to-distant future.

And now for the yarn love:

Yarn Love

I dyed these two skeins this weekend. I'm head-over-heels in love with the colors.

Pretty Blue

Pretty Green

They have shades of the grayish color in common, so my plan (for now) is to measure out a long enough warp for two scarves and paint it with that color. Then (someday) I will weave these up into scarves, which I may or may not be able to part with. As much of that 10/2 cotton I have, I think everyone in my life will be getting some hand dyed, hand woven something or other.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I finished the knitting more than a week ago (here it is in it's unblocked state), and finally got to the blocking this weekend:


Isn't it lovely? I say that not to pat my own back, but as a tribute to such an elegant design.

Icarus 2

My camera, as usual, failed to capture the blood red color and the perfection of the yarn (for that we would need Feel-o-Vision): it is Alpaca with a Twist Fino (70% alpaca, 30% silk, yum!)


Simon has no appreciation for my hard work.

In celebration, I finally made it up to Threadbear this weekend and bought (most of) the yarn for Meg Swanson's Fair Isle Cardigan (the sweater doesn't have a name but it needs one). The shop didn't have enough of one of the main colors (Rye), luckily they had already placed an order for the yarn, so I may not have to wait for a very long time.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Knitting News

Len's hat is finished:

Len's Hat

Len's Head2

Luckily, I wrote down the decreases: the first time Len tried on the hat, it was too short. I tried to convince him otherwise, but he wasn't going for it. Len's head is 22" around and this hat fits him pretty tightly, and is meant to have two folds and it sits just above his ears. Here are the particulars:

Yarn: Fortissima 100 Socka, one 100 gm. ball should be enough for 2 hats.
Needles: Size 2, 16" circular and/or double points
Cast on 168 stitches. Join and knit in K3, P3 rib for 7.5 inches. I started the stripe at 3", but it would have worked better had I started at 3.5". The decreases were worked as follows:

Round 1: *Knit 10 in pattern, p2tog
Round 2: *K3, P3, K3, P2
Round 3: *K3, P1, P2tog, K3, P2
Round 4: *K3, P2
Round 5: *K3, P2, K3, P2tog
Round 6: *K3, P2, K3, P1
Round 7: *K3, P2tog, K3, P1
Round 8: *K3, P1, K3, P1
Round 9: *K3, P1, K2, P2tog
Round 10: *K2, P2tog, K2, P1
Round 11: *K2, P1, K1, P2tog
Round 12: *K1, P2tog, K1, P1
Round 13: *K1, P1, K2tog
Round 14: *K2tog, K1
Round 15: *K2tog
Round 16: *K2tog
repeat from *
Thread stitches through remaining stitches and pull tight. Weave in all ends.

And there you are. A little beanie.
The really stupid thing is that I can't remember my own phone number, but I could remember these decreases. When I knit the blue version of this, I had to futz around a lot with the decreases and it still ended up a little pointy at the top, so this time I stopped the non-decrease rounds as soon as the original purl stitches were eaten up (at round 9). The crown is a bit too gathered looking for me when it is off of Len's head, but fits him well enough.

Comment: Thanks for you comment, Valerie. The long the skein hangs in my bathroom the happier with it I am. I think there is some sort of Psych 101 process going on there. I think the yarn will be for weaving -- probably a weft in a twill variation. That's what it's saying to me right now, anyway!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bad Dye Job

On Sunday, I did my first hand painting with the Procion dyes. Hand squirting is more like it, since I used squeeze bottles.

Bad Dye Job

It's been hanging in my bathroom ever since. By the way, the silver sponged on gray walls? I did not do that, I just haven't gotten around to repainting. The yarn colors are two purples, a blue of some shade or other, and something that came out much more orange than I had intended. I was really hating the colors (which are more intense in the above picture than in reality) until a co-worker sent me a web page of Hundertwasser posters. Suddenly purple, blue and orange makes sense.

However, all is not well. I didn't let the yarn sit long enough before rinsing the dye out, so the color isn't as saturated as I would like, and the orange doesn't play well with others so the colors mixed in a less than attractive way.

Faded 3

I think a way to fix the problem of colors not playing well together is to make sure they share at least one color component. In this case, the purples and blue share navy blue, and the purples have fuchsia and a splash of black. The orange, on the other hand, has carmine red and golden yellow. I might have been happier had I used fuchsia instead of red. Oh well. Dye and learn.

Ugh. That was very bad. Sorry.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Adventures in Dyeing

Bad title rip-off and kind of bad dyeing, too.

Penny Dye

Here are the jars of dye as they appeared on Sunday. The difference in color saturation was significant, especially between the dye using distilled water and the dye using unsoftened water.

Distilled Water Detail 2

On Sunday, I used the distilled water dye. I took the plastic wrap off of the gallon jar I was using and shoved just over 2 ounces of Paton's Classic Merino (cream) in and let it sit for about 40 minutes or so. When I did this a year ago, I had too much yarn for the amount of dye and the color was sucked up immediately. That was not the case here, the ammonia/water never went entirely clear. The color you see above (depending on your monitor) is fairly close to the color of the yarn and there are some other views in Flickr. The yarn came out quite mottled -- the jar was too small to allow for even distribution -- but over the last few days the color has been evening out.

D&L Water

On Monday I worked on the dye using my parent's (softened, but very sulphuric) water. This time I pour the stuff into a larger bucket (appropriately, a cat litter bucket, if you must know) and the color is more evenly distributed. It's maybe a little lighter, but essentially the same color.

The other dye, using our own unsoftened well water, has seemed too light to use. Tuesday night I poured some of it off and added more ammonia. That seems to have brought out more blue from the pennies. I dye with it this weekend. If you are thinking about doing this, let me offer one piece of advice: do it outside. The smell. My god.

Dye Experiments

While playing with the penny dye, I've also been fooling around Procion dyes. After talking to Stef the other night, it turns out I've been using an unorthodox method (read, my own Dumbass-Instruction-Melding Method). In any case, I've managed to get a nice saturation, and the colors, while somewhat unexpected, are pretty enough. I don't really intend to get serious about dyeing, so I will probably make a couple of alterations to my dumbass method (to cut down on dye waste) and continue. To what end, you ask? I don't know. Knitting avoidance?