Friday, June 30, 2006

Need. More. Kool-Aid!

All of you dye-it-yourself virgins out there, let me assure you. Dyeing your own yarn is nothing like giving yourself a Brazilian. I thought it would be messy and difficult and the result would be scary. But no! It was so much fun. Thank you all for the helpful tips and suggestions. Anyway, I meticulously documented my process. Hold onto your seats! Click the pictures for bigger!

Here is the yarn soaking before its dye bath. I used the now-sold-out, but hopefully-more-to-come-soon Knit Picks Color Your Own fingering merino. I used cool water and a glug or two of vinegar. The yarn really felt like a big bowl of angel hair pasta. Nice. I soaked the yarn for about an hour and a half, I'd say. Then I squeezed the water out, wrapped the yarn in a towel and stomped on it.

I mixed 12 packets of black cherry and 2 packets of regular cherry Kool-Aid in some water and got this deep, dark, luscious shade of red. (Have I mentioned that I am obsessed with red lately?) I wanted a semi-solid yarn. Jennifer helpfully suggested kind of crowding the yarn into the pot (or in my case, microwaveable bowl) and pouring the dye bath on the yarn rather than setting the yarn into the bath. So that's what I did. I added water to not-quite-cover the yarn. I did not add more vinegar at this point.

Here is the yarn nuking away. Jessalu said I should put it in for two minute intervals until the water was clearish. She did not mention how many intervals that would be.

Dye Job, Part II

After eight minutes, it looked like this.* And after 22 minutes, the water was clearish!I let the yarn sit and cool for a bit before I took it out of the water. I used warm water to rinse to prevent shocking the wool. Here's the yarn all rinsed and water squeezed out.

And here it is, all dry and in a skein.

It's the new teammate for the Amazing Lace ... see? A little blurry, but the color is fairly true.
This was Really Big Fun. I have acquired some natural Cascade 220, having been unable to find more fingering weight, and beaucoup Kool-Aid. Next up, purple for July!

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to say how excited I have been to get comments from new people. Thanks for delurking! Unfortunately, because Blogger makes it really difficult to backtrack the comments, I have been unable to acknowledge them all personally. Waah! I wish you all had blogs. I'd love to get to know you and your knitting!

*For some reason, Blogger would not let me put any more pictures in the other post. So I'm doing this in two parts.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Showing Off, Frankly

Yarn Harlot is right -- blocking a lace shawl makes you feel like a genius. So I don't mind obliging your requests for a modeled shot. One of these days I will take a picture of myself and not look like I'm thinking of something unpleasant. That shawl looks fab with the cheap H&M t-shirt, huh?

Pattern: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark, published in Wrap Style
Yarn: Two skeins (about 145 yds each), plus a little of a third, of Blue Sky Alpaca and Silk
Needles: 3.75mm Addi Turbo 24 inch circular
Dimensions: about 50 inches across the top, about 24 inches from top to bottom point
Modifications: other than a yarn substitution, none
Thoughts: I've already waxed poetic, literally, about this shawl. Newbie lace knitters, take note! This is a perfect project to start with! If I were making this again, with similar weight yarn, I would add a pattern repeat or two and make it a little bigger. Or perhaps use slightly larger needles. But I am a very happy knitter. The yarn was magnificient -- I highly recommend it for lace.

Coming soon ... Laura's adventures with powdered drink mixes and wool...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Amazing Lace Poetry Challenge

The Shetland Triangle shawl is finished. She's been a fantastic, easygoing, fun, and cooperative teammate. Our knitter was delighted that the current Amazing Lace challenge would allow her to express her appreciation to Shetland in poetic form. Laura looked all over for inspiration. After all, poetry is all around us.

She looked to Ancient Rome.

Let us knit, my Lace, and love ...
Knit me a thousand stitches, then a hundred,
Then another thousand, then a second hundred,
Then yet a thousand, then a hundred,
Then when we have knit up many thousands,
We will confuse our counting, that we may know the value of lifelines...

She considered modern American poetry ...

so much depends upon
nice sharp needles
that aren't too grabby
when knitting up lace

She looked east, to Germany, and the World Cup.

I'm a thrower 'til I die,
I'm a thrower 'til I die,
I'll win the Amazing Lace,
And the pickers will cry!

Not surprisingly, Laura found inspiration on her iPod.

My mother was a Japanese silkworm
In a Blue Sky mill town,
Cocooned in filaments so divine.
And she met my father at a mill near Lima, Peru,
An alpaca who lived in the shadow of the great Macchu Picchu.

And there on the spindle,
By fingers so nimble,
Their fibers were mingled
And spun into sportweight
And sold to a knitblogger who lived in Ohio.

In the end, words really failed to pay adequate tribute to this lace project. Shetland Triangle was a constant delight as a teammate and is now a beautiful FO. The next project to join Team affiknitty in the Amazing Lace has large holes to fill, indeed.

It's Here!

My first package from Sundara's Petals Collection arrived today and it is ... words fail me here, knitters. Gorgeous. Sumptuous. Amazing. Breathtaking.

The yarn is a wonderfully soft merino superwash that has that pebbly Koigu look, if you know what I mean. The colors are so incredibly beautiful. Everything was carefully and meticulously packaged -- totally professional. Cannot. Wait. To. Knit. This. Yarn!

Does anyone know-- is there a Petals Collection blog/KAL? There really ought to be.

Edited to add: I emailed Sundara and there was no KAL. I offered to host it and she agreed! So I set up a blogspot page here. If you are also receiving this wonderful yarn and are interested, email me and I will send you a blog invite!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What's Going On in My Guest Room?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Not the Queen of DIY

There are some things that I have felt I should not attempt to do myself. The result is very likely to involve blue language, a gigantic mess, and/or grave injury. Here is a partial list of "can't-DIY" activities:

1. Electrical repairs
2. Emergency amputations
3. Brazilian bikini wax
4. Dyeing yarn

Nonetheless, I have decided that as soon as I have a sizeable chunk of time on my hands, I am going to try #4. I am going to use a popular dry beverage mix and would like to end up with a semi-solid yarn. (No fancy stripes for me! That would really present disaster potential.) Any advice for me?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What's Your Magic Number?

Helen, these pictures are for you. Sorry about the nasty light, it's thunderstorming here today.

My magic number is eight or ten. It's the number of rows or rounds in a pattern repeat that I prefer. I love the Rib and Cable sock pattern. I am loving this Shetland Triangle shawl. What do they have in common? Pattern repeats that are short, but not too short. Short enough to memorize, but not so short that they are boring and repetitive. The Shetland Triangle is doubly delicious in this respect, because the pattern repeat is both ten stitches wide and ten rows long.

Do you prefer something very short, like the two-row Jaywalker pattern? Or something very long, so that you work it just a few times and you're done? What's your magic number?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ceci N'Est Pas Un Post

Just some random thoughts ...

1. I am really hungry for rhubarb crisp. Thanks, Cat!

2. I think you all ought to go over here and hear my new favorite song, "I'll Love You 'Til My Veins Explode" by the Paper Cranes, "the most punctual band in rock and roll."

3. Note to self: If you allow J to watch too much Wiggles and Koala Brothers, he will start to sound like an Aussie.

4. Pictures of lace projects in progress make for boring blog posts. I have been working on Shetland Triangle (swoon-I love it!), but it just looks like a bigger and bigger lumpy pile of alpaca. But soon, there will be an update. Poetry! Heh.

5. It's as dangerous to click the links on a blogfriend's sidebar as it is to darken the door of your LYS. Before you know it, you have three or ten new (to you, anyway) blogs that you simply must add to Bloglines, although you really haven't got the time to properly read and comment on the eighty blogs that are already there.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hee Hee!

Pattern: Nautilus, by Anna Bell, with obvious modifications.
Yarn: One skein of Koigu KPPPM, color number P850.
Needles: 2.5 mm Addi Turbo 40 inch circular needle
Size: 3.25" wide unstretched, 8.25" long (fits my US size 7.5 foot)
My gauge: about 9 sts per inch over st st

So, I started these socks ages ago. I got about two-thirds done with the leg on the first sock -- the pattern is written toe-up -- and got bored with the lace pattern. I put them away for awhile. The other day, I decided that this being Blue June and all, I really ought to pull them back out.

Also, I originally had three skeins of this lovely blue Koigu. I started thinking (which often results in disaster, but this time fortunately did not). If I frogged back, and turned this sock into a footie, I might be able to squeeze two of them out and still have enough yarn to make a whole other pair of socks. And it worked! As you can see, I had very, very little left from that skein.

Bonus -- I finally fulfill my obligation for What's Your Skein!

Is that "extreme lace knitting?" You be the judge.

The Suspense!

Where did these socks come from?

Will Affiknitty be able to finish them with this little bit of Koigu?
Will you ever see an FO that is not a pair of socks on this blog? Stay tuned for the answers to these and other burning questions!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mystery Socks Unveiled

Pattern: (More or less) Nancy Bush's Rib and Cable Socks, finished June 11, 2006.
Yarn: A Piece of Vermont Handpainted, "Mystery" colorway, most of 1 skein
Needles: 2.5mm Addi Turbo 40 inch circular
Gauge: 8.5 sts per inch over st st
Modifications: Made a short row heel; shorter leg and cuff; decreased toe instead of doing a short row toe as I have in the past; three-needle bind off at toe.
Thoughts: Jessie, the yarn is just as beautiful knit up as it was in the skein! The colors are amazing: black, gray, midnight blue, bronze, purple, light blue, even rose.

This is a great basic sock pattern. This time I thought I'd do a decreased toe and I really like the way it looks. It's much nicer than a short row toe. The last time I made these socks, I used a 3.0 mm needle and they turned out to be a little loose, especially after they have been worn for a while. I went down to a 2.5 mm needle this time and they are nice and snug, perfect for wearing with shoes.

Best of all, it's a little chilly here this weekend, so I get to wear them right away!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Way More Than Just ABBA

You all know it. You meet the nicest people in the knitblogosphere. One of the people I feel lucky to have met is Cat from In My Life. She lives in Stockholm. I sent her an email telling her about a Swedish band that I recently and happily discovered -- The Concretes. (Hopefully, it did not sound like "Uh, they're from Sweden, and you're from Sweden... you must know them personally!") She said that she was familiar with them, but that they are not really popular yet there. Then she offered to send me a CD of Swedish music! As you all know, I am a total music ho, so there was no way I would demur. It arrived this week and it's amazing. And, of course, she sent a nice note on a postcard. I sent her a couple of CDs too, but they are on their way and I don't want to spoil the surprise. Thanks again, Cat, and I hope you like your music too!

More random thoughts ...

Did I mention what I got for Mother's Day? I cannot stand the suspense, waiting for my first package...

Lace knitting continues, and I am working on a pair of mystery socks...

I want this sweater desperately. But I guess I should finish one of the three or four other sweater projects I have started first.

BARGAIN ALERT! My Costco had copies of Inspired Cable Knits, Big Girl Knits, Mason-Dixon Knitting, and Morehouse Farm Merino Knits for $18.49 each. (That's about the same as Amazon, but no shipping or waiting.) I had to get the Ellis book. You're right, Lynda. It's gorgeous.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Random Stuff, Some of It Actually About Knitting!

1. Have you got a little extra cash lying around? OK, none of us really feel as though we do, but we are all rich, by global standards. So go help provide economic opportunity for people less fortunate than we are. Make a donation to Heifer International through Cara's registry and you will be entered into a fabulous contest for fabulous prizes! She has raised nearly $5000 so far! Woo-hoo! (Just be sure and send her a little email letting her know how much you donated -- you will be entered into the drawing one time for each $10 you donate.)

2. In lace knitting news, here's the progress on the Shetland Triangle. I love this pattern! I am addicted. I can hardly put it down to attend to less pressing matters, such as child care. And the yarn ... sigh. Those Blue Sky people sure do know what they are doing. It's wonderfully soft and light. I really started to worry a bit about having enough, so I called WEBS. Fortunately, they had another skein in the same dye lot.

3. Have you heard of Irving? They're an L.A. band that I recently discovered on one internet music site or another. Or maybe I heard them on a podcast. Anyway, go to their MySpace page and take a listen. I love the song "jen nothing matters to me."

4. Right now, I cannot eat enough wasabi peas. Apparently, I am not the only one. Please do not tell me they are fattening. Also, if you have not had goat cheese and fig jam on french bread, you do not know what you are missing.

5. I received an excellent Knitters' Tea Swap package from Andrea yesterday. I would post a picture if Blogger would let me. Grrr... Anyhow, she sent lovely white chocolate macadamia cookies; some Knitters' Black Tea from the Yarn Barn of San Antonio (where she is visiting her son); the most beautiful box of green tea I have ever seen, from Tokyo; and two skeins of ... Blue Sky 100% Alpaca in a dark green! My love affair with Blue Sky yarns continues!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Meet Team Affiknitty

The Amazing Lace is under way! Without further ado, as the deadline for introductions is fast upon us, meet Team Affiknitty.

Pictured above, looking particularly scrumptious, is the fiber member of the team -- about 450 yards of Blue Sky Alpaca and Silk in a lovely shade of barely pink. Maybe a little skimpy in the yardage, but we're hoping it will make it to the finish line. It claims to be sportweight. But if so, it's the Nicole Richie of sportweights. Pretty slinky it is. If all goes according to plan, this lovely yarn will become the Shetland Triangle (see gorgeous finished ones here and here and here), from Wrap Style.

And for the knitter member ... she's pictured here at Webs, where she met Blue Sky. Really, if there's a weak link, it's our knitter. Over the past several months, she's tried out several potential teammates (Adamas, Kiri, Trellis, Sampler Stole), only to dump them unceremoniously. She's waffled between laceweight, fingering, and sportweight. It's been difficult for our knitter to obtain the necessary level of focus to complete a challenge such as the Amazing Lace. We spoke with her recently about her participation in THE summer 2006 knitalong.

Q: Given your recent inability to stick with a lace project for more than one full pattern repeat, what makes you think you can actually complete this challenge?

Affiknitty: That's not exactly fair. Nearly everything I've knit recently has had intentional holes in it, from the Sockapaloooza socks to the Roundabout Leaf Tank. And if Theresa and Rachel say that's lace, it's lace.

Q: Oh, so you finished the Roundabout Leaf Tank?

Affiknitty: Ahem, not quite. Besides, I learned from those other failed attempts. For example, I learned in attempting Adamas that, for me, knitting lace without lifelines would be like attempting to summit Annapurna without supplemental oxygen -- technically possible but decidedly foolhardy.

Q: Other than these failed attempts, have you been training for this summer?

Affiknitty: I've been working very hard at positive visualization techniques. I see myself doing the provisional cast-on, I see myself picking up stitches on a teeny little piece of slippery knitting, I see myself not throwing the needles down in disgust, I see myself wearing the shawl and saying "Oh this? I made it." I may look to an experienced lace knitter for advice -- a sort of lace knitting psychologist.

Q: Earlier in the spring, you had some equipment problems. Have you solved those?

Affiknitty: Um, not exactly. I have looked everywhere, and I have yet to find needles that I would call "sharp." I think I've solved my issue by my pattern choice, though. No more K7togs for me!

Q: What motivated you to join The Amazing Lace?

Affiknitty: You know, a girl's gotta have dreams. Dreams and goals. One of my goals is to knit a Shetland lace shawl. I figured this summer was as good a time as any to knock off one of my less challenging items on the life goals list.

Q: Less challenging?!

Affiknitty: Oh sure. Knit a Shetland lace shawl is in the moderately difficult category. I have much more challenging goals, such as own an apartment on the Ile St. Louis, sweep the screenwriting Oscars with best friend Kara, and develop a healthful, cancer-fighting cigarette.

Q: Oooo-kay. Good luck with all that.

Affiknitty: It's important to think big.

Yes, we're thinking big here at Affiknitty. Although, given our track record, just getting the lace cast on will be a big accomplishment.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bad Blogger!

You know, just because you don't work outside the home doesn't mean the you-know-what doesn't hit the fan when you return from a vacation. It's been a busy week, and I finally have time to take a deep breath. I've been really remiss in not blogging about this gorgeous prize I received for winning Jennifer's 1970s trivia contest. That's 2 oz. of Jaggerspun Zephyr silk/wool laceweight and a beautiful beaded bracelet that Jennifer made herself. Thanks! What an amazing prize!

In general, since school has been out for S, I've had much less time for blogging, and blogreading and commenting. Over the summer, I anticipate being rather scarce. However, I am going to participate in The Amazing Lace and I'm ruminating my entry in the first challenge. I have until midnight tomorrow, right?