Friday, May 19, 2006

Change Is In the Air

I'm feeling a bit....unsettled, sort of shpilkes-y. So I thought changing my blog colors a bit might help. After all, it IS spring. I'm not sure if I'll keep things this way. I may still experiment a bit more. Stay tuned....

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Spy Girl

Well, I've been spending so much time "spying" on my secret pal, that I've ignored my own blog. No, it's not like that; I'm just trying to get to know her a bit so that I know how to "spoil" her. This is fun!

Let's see, what's new here? On the knitting front, I got really frustrated with the pair of Trekking XXL socks I'm knitting because I tried a new type of heel. I THOUGHT it was going wonderfully well until I noticed the dropped stitch a few rows down. Try as I might, I could NOT recapture the stitches in the heel below that darned dropped stitch. Not only did I lose the whole heel, I had a heck of a time "remembering" how to recapture a whole circular round. So, painful as it was, I ended up losing a good inch or two of the foot in my bumbling attempts to lasso the stitches.

So what did I learn from this? Two things:

#1) When the going gets rough, start a new sock! Yes... I did -- just to feel a sense of accomplishment. It's out of Magic Stripes and it was like going back a grade or two in school. Easy, peasy....

#2) ALWAYS PUT IN A LIFELINE when trying something new.

I did get my confidence back and I'm back on track with the "sock of contention(SoC)." But I'm also still working on the Magic Stripes socks. When I need to feel like I'm accomplishing something tangible, there's nothing like "fatter yarn" to make you feel like your getting somewhere fast -- or at least faster.

Update on the beaded socklets: after finding my frogging mojo with the SoC, I grabbed up those babies and frogged with confidence back to the beginning of the cuff. I just need to decide what to knit for the cuff now. Hmmmm.....

Sorry no pics today. I'll have some with the next post.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Secret Pal 8 Questionaire

This is my first time participating in the Secret Pal program! So, here's some info about me, oh mysterious pal of mine....

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Merino, alpaca. I haven't yet met a fiber that I've hated.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
For straight needles, I use a cheapo fabric roll from the craft store. For my circular needles, I have this really cool needle "wallet."

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
Only about 2 years; I'm an "intermediate" knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes, but I need to update it


5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
Cinnamon, but my husband can't tolerate scents well, so I don't use or wear much. Bummer!

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Yes! Anything chocolate(m&ms or kisses), or cinnamon (like Hot Tamales or the Jelly Belly flavor).

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
Polymer clay. I'm a beginner at spinning but I have a cheapo bottom whorl spindle and a nice high whorl. Haven't invested the time into learning much yet, though.
8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I like Folk rock: Fogelberg, Four Bitchin' Babes. And Wyndham Hill stuff (not holiday though)
9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Teals, turquoise blues. I like "spring" colors -- pastels and jeweltones. I don't like greens or oranges that are brown-y (those retro colors)

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Husband plus 4 wonderful cats. Husband is wonderful too!

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Theoretically I wear scarves and hats, although I never seem to put them on. I like mittens but am very clumsy when I wear them. I'd like to make and/or wear a poncho.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

13. What are you knitting right now?
Socks, a jacket, felted clogs (Fiber Trends)

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Yes, if they are made with care.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Circulars; I only have metal, but would love bamboo or other woods

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, I own both

17. How did you learn to knit?
I taught myself from a "Learn to Knit" booklet.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?
9 months (the jacket)

19. What is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving; Chanukah

20. Is there anything that you collect?
Cat figurines, but not the cutesy stuff. Cats with "purrsonality".

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I get "Creative Knitting" and "Knitter's" mags. I'd love to get "Spin-Off" magazine. I'd love to have Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Also, I'd love to try those Bryspun needles.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I want to learn Fair Isle and intarsia, and also cables

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Why, yes I am!! Foot length = 9 3/8 inches; Circumference of ball of foot =8 1/2 inches; circ of ankle = 9 inches

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
April 8

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cool Kool-Aid Yarn Dyeing

Ages ago I bought some undyed sock yarn from a nice vendor on eBay. My quest: to dye yarn to create "unique" socks. Not so long ago I was totally engrossed by the self-striping yarns; but slowly -- oh, so slowly -- they all started to look alike to me. Bold patterns and bold colors do make for interesting socks, but I'm now more interested in using color in a more subtle, artistic way.

Not that I'm artistic, you understand. The closest I'd ever come to being an "artist" was messing with those "paint by number" sets as a kid.

So for my first effort at dyeing wool: My medium? Kool-Aid of course! I can hardly take myself too seriously if I use the drink of kid-dom. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my family partook of it. Hi-C was the sugary beverage in my house.

Now, how to choose? Kool-Aid comes in such a variety of flavors.... and colors. There are websites and blog pages that describe both the process dyeing with KA and the colors that you could achieve using specific flavors. and have a good amount of info for the newbie dyer. And this site has a neat color chart!

So here's my first dye job: I used 10 grams of sock yarn and 1 packet of Slammin' Strawberry Kiwi Kool Aid UNSWEETENED. The yarn was wound into a ball and soaked in water for about 20 minutes. I first diluted the Kool-Aid with a little warm water, added hot water to a mason jar, poured the KA liquid in, and added the soaked ball of yarn after gently squeezing out the excess water in it. I placed the lid on the jar and set it out in the sun while I went to the cat shelter for a while. When I got back a couple hours later, all of the color from the liquid was now in the yarn ball and the surrounding liquid was a milky white -- WAY COOL!!

I rinsed the fruity yarn ball, wound the dripping yarn around my bent elbow and hand to make a skein, and blotted out the excess water out of the skein by rolling it in a towel. I then draped the skein on a hanger and hung it in the shower stall to dry. Here's a picture of it dried......

And here's how it looks rewound into a ball. I'm hoping that I have enough here to knit the heels of a pair of socks I'm working on. I think this pinky coral is a perfect match with a color in the Trekking XXL yarn I've used.

It's interesting how the skein sucked up the dye. Even though the yarn was totally saturated before placing in the dye, the surfaces closest to the dye liquid pulled in the most dye.

Was it a fluke? I tried again with Lemonade KA.

Same technique.....Virtually the same results.

More experimentation is warranted. I have Black Cherry, Orange, Cherry, and Swirlin' Strawberry Starfruit waiting in my pantry. And the grocery store is only about a mile away ---

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