Monday, July 16, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful

The Good: I got my invitation to Ravelry this weekend. I'm raspberry over there if you want to find me. Fortunately for the state of my marriage I didn't get a chance to log into e-mail and discover this until today. After I finished my huge list of Sunday and Monday chores. If I disappear for a month it'll be because I'm wandering through Ravelry in a happy fog. If you're on the waiting list, do what I meant to but didn't get around to and gather the info about all your projects together so that you can pop it all up easily. If you're not on the waiting list yet, go check out the tour and then get on the waiting list. It has the potential to be fantastic. I'm really impressed with what they've accomplished and how carefully they've been adding folks in so they can avoid implosions. It really must be a huge endeavor to manage that kind of environment as it grows. Even when it is growing in a controlled way.

I can't wait to see what all there is and get my projects organized there. Unfortunately, I'll have to. Today was full of errands and tomorrow is my upholstery class which sucks up the whole day.

The Bad: Last night I broke a Lantern Moon Sock Stix needle working on my February Rockin' Sock Club socks so they are on hold until I can replace it. I managed to get one heel finished and start the second so I want to keep going with these rather than switch now. At least the heel knitted with these needles is a better fit than the previous one.
That's one horribly pale foot propped on my other equally pasty leg in order to get a good shot of the heel. I need to enlist a helper for these photos I think. I'm rather annoyed with myself for not using the bamboos instead though. Especially since I knew I have to knit tight to make gauge for this pattern. Only, they were in a different project and I was too stupid to switch them out. And then this morning I cracked (just a tiny one thank goodness, but still) my beautiful David Reed Smith niddy-noddy by skeining a lace weight under too much tension. Sometimes I just want to smack myself upside the head. I'll have to see if I can get a replacement part for it or something. Sigh.

The Beautiful: Possibly I should have saved Beautiful for Ravelry and lead off with this as merely Good but I am so pleased with how this turned out (eventually) to be almost exactly how I envisioned it when I started, that I think it's beautiful. I mentioned last time about dying some yarn for Mystery Shawl 3. Well, I did it this weekend. I started Friday night with what I had in the house. Food coloring. I tried blending some colors and dropping them into the water on the yarn in some sections followed by using the new (to me) black food coloring with which I tried to get a grey fairly evenly over all the yarn. The idea was to end up with a grey backed by hints of other colors (blue, purple and green basically). Well, that didn't work out too well because the black food coloring isn't really black. It just looks black if it is dark enough. Lighter, it's more of a reddish brown or something I think. Which wasn't the look I wanted.

So Saturday I went out and got some Jacquard Acid Dyes and overdyed the whole skein with Gunmetal. And I got this lovely yarn which is not quite as blue as it looks here but it is definitely a blued grey which I think I actually like better than the grey I had initially envisioned.
hand-dyed laceweight arty shot

It felted a little bit in the dye pot because I had to leave it for a bit while doing chores and it boiled softly while I was gone. That'll teach me to not try to multi-task while I'm dyeing. I re-skeined it today while it was still slightly damp (I seem to remember reading some blog somewhere that mentioned doing that with slightly felted yarns to make it easier to separate the strands) and it looks fine. It was only a tiny tiny bit felted together. It pulled apart pretty easily except for a couple of places where I actually had to tease the strands apart a bit. This photo shows the color variation better but the one above is arty.
KnitPicks Bare Laceweight dyed with food colors (blends of regular and neon and Black) and overdyed with Jacquard Acid Dye - Gunmetal

It's still drying right now. But I can't wait to use it. I think I've finally got the right yarn for my Mystery Stole 3. I just hope that 880 yards will be enough. Melanie says it only took her 780 but I'm always convinced things won't work for me even if they do for other people. I need to learn how to color correct my photos I suppose but I haven't time for yet another interest. Especially now that I have Ravelry to explore.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Confession Time

I'd probably get a lot more done if I just concentrated on current projects instead of starting others. And reading about still more others. Only I've been reading these blogs and they all have these cool things they are doing and... Yeah, you know what's coming next. I buy another pattern or yarn or both and futz around with them instead of finishing anything currently on the needles. Plus I keep finding issues and have to rip out the little bit I did get knitted. I'm working on accepting that in the appropriately Zen manner but mostly I'm still swearing and stomping and pulling a Cinderella's step-sister with the sock (or whatever) when I figure out there's a problem. Then after the appropriate mourning period I rip and restart.

The "accomplishments" of the last two weeks are thus minimal.

I ripped the French Market Bag back to the color change and switched which color I was using for the lighter color. I knew in my heart when I started the second color that it didn't seem quite right but I plugged away for a while before admitting it officially. Then I had to wait for a chance to get to the LYS. I like this combo much better though.
But at the current knitting rate, I figure there's at least two weeks before I finish this bag.

My Feb Rockin' Sock Club Socks had managed to get knitted to the appropriate length and get their heels knitted only to have their heels have to be ripped back. I mean really, does this look like it was gonna work out ok to you?
Me neither. It's partly because I forgot to switch back to the size 1 needles from the size 0 needles I think. I may also have not started at the right place. I ran a thread through to use as a lifeline (note to self, do that before starting the heel next time, idgit, it'll be much faster than carefully picking up stitches in the already knitted part) and ripped the heels out. Then I got smart and with the socks on the lifelines put them on and measured and decided I actually needed a few more rows of foot on each one first. That's finished but I haven't restarted the heels yet because I got sucked into the whirlpool.

I joined Mystery Stole 3. I'd have managed not to I think, except my best friend joined up too and after that I was helpless against the current. Of course, despite thinking it over since I first heard about it (sometime around the day signups started, iirc) I didn't actually sign up until practically the last day. (I'm wondering, do I win a procrastination achievement award for that?) So I'm still trying to pick a yarn let alone get caught up. So far I've tried a plain purple extra fine merino which is probably ok but not quite dark enough maybe. And the Midnight Rainbow/Harlot's Peacock laceweight by Perchance to Knit that I got from The Loopy Ewe and I'm still looking for the right answer. I love the Harlot's Peacock but decided I want to save that for the Peacock Feathers shawl. I know, how predictable, but I think it will really look nice in that shawl so I'm saving it for that. Which I just ordered the pattern of - see paragraph one.

So I decided to dye my own for MS3. I have some KnitPicks bare Laceweight merino. I've popped it into a dye pot and we'll see what I can come up with on my own. After all I'm already so far behind that waiting while I dye some yarn isn't really that big a deal is it?

The two inches of ribbing socks are still just two inches of ribbing and the sidewinders are still where they were too. And the Barbie dress, while twice as long as it was, is still indecent even for Barbie so I've nothing to show you for that either. I did start another hat, this time for the neighbor's baby, but quickly put it to one side to finish up closer to the winter holidays. No one needs a hat around here right now!

I did get some more done on my studio but no more pictures of that until it's done I think. I want to display the full effect rather than anymore piecemeal shots. And I did get something done on my chair...
That's the first piece of actual fabric on the chair instead of just muslin underlining or whatever they call it.

To give you an idea of just how exciting it is around here...
... she's watching ice melt.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What? Wait, where did all the time go?

Woosh. I'm not sure how more than a week has passed without me really noticing it. Some knitting has naturally occurred. A little spinning too. Not enough though. Of either. Nothing much to photograph because of that.

In not really knitting or spinning or anything related: I did some more work on my chair but forgot to take the camera. Next time maybe. And the studio has now had most of the joint compound stuff dealt with. I'm not making anymore predictions though about when things will be done because the project stalled a bit this last week and I blame that completely on my boastful statement about when I'd be able to paint.

Knitting-wise: I got through the increases on the French Market Bag and am at the color change point. There's days and days of knitting ahead of me on that before it will merit another photo. I started yet another sock but won't show that either. It's only 2 inches of 2x2 ribbing. Boooooring.

The Sidewinders stalled because the dog ate my knitting needle. No really, she did. I had switched to a pair of rosewood straights because that was all I could find that I liked in the 2.25mm size 1 size in any lys. Anyone who wants a Crystal Palace bamboo in size 1 feel free to ask and I'll send it off to you. I don't like the join. So anyway, I knit a few rows of Act two on these straights and they were working fine. And I go away for a while and when I next go to pick them up I discover the end missing off one of the needles. It turned up with the unmistakable marks of dog teeth on it about two days later. So I couldn't work on my Sidewinders because of the dog. Also, because I was too stupid at first to figure out that by wrapping a rubber band around the needle near the end I could easily render it useable again. And partly because I couldn't figure out how to write the pattern out for myself so even after the doh! moment I didn't start right up again. I think I have got it now though. But since they still look just about the same as last time - no photo of that either.

More rows done on the Feb RSC socks too but again, not enough of a change since last time to be worth a photo. And I started a Barbie(tm) dress for my daughter's dolls but since it still isn't long enough to be decent, let alone finished I'm not gonna photo that either right now*. Those skinny yarn things take forever to show progress. Worsted weight things go much more quickly. Well, as long as they are small things like hats they do anyway.

I did manage to knit a couple of little hats for Sheri's Loopy Q2 Challenge (baby hats for an orphanage in China) and got them sent off in the nick of time (I hope - I don't really trust the post office). They were a fairly fast knit actually (worsted weight and small = fast), and I had fun with them.

I used Knitting Pure and Simple's basic children's hat pattern and then did a little tiny bit of futzing at the top for decoration. On the plain peach I just did an i-cord long enough to make a little loop and then sewed it down. On the multi-color (knit out of the crock pot dye experiment that involved shaking three flavors of KoolAid over the yarn and water to see what would happen) hat I used the method for making decorative little yarn twists that Annie Modesitt showed on Knitty Gritty. I thought they looked kind of cute like that. And better than a pompom because no yarn ends can be pulled through and then eaten by the hat wearer.

I've started on a third one as a present for next Christmas for the neighbor's baby girl. I'm just going to get it going so I can remember the plan and then I'm going to shelve it for a bit. If I remember to take good enough notes (or look here) I'll do a matching one for her older sister and something similar but not too cute for their middle brother. And then I'll be in clover with my own daughter who's the same age as the older girl which is always a good place to be.

I find myself puzzled by something I noticed when my June Rockin' Sock Club yarn arrived the other day. I'm really not a big fan of oranges or yellows or even reds. I do like wine/burgundy and the occasional black cherry or even maybe once in a very long while, maroon. But mostly I tend to stay in the cool color half of the color wheel. So why does my "currently easily accessible" yarn pile look like this?

I don't know, either. I know some of them were bought/dyed for the orphanage hats and the colors were chosen partly deliberately to make them look "happy" and partly because there's not a lot of color choice in the KoolAid stash. And my daughter does like those colors so they won't go to waste even if I didn't manage to use them up for orphanage hats this time around. And two of them (the June RSC - that's the one in the front, 2nd from the right, and June Zen String - the one that's still in a skein instead of a yarn cake ) are club yarns where I had no control over the color that arrived. Only I actually like them all - in at least the abstract, even if not for me. And I think the June club yarns will stay mine no matter what.

Does this mean I'm finally getting over that orange outfit I wore when I was twelve that I thought had scarred me for life?

Probably not.

* Actually, I did. It's the thing on the needles in the yarn pile photo.