Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Mystical, Magical Exploding Cowl!!!

More green, plenty more green. Once again it seems I can only work in greens.

One morning I woke and thought, "I need a cowl". This thought stuck with me for quite awhile before I finally broke down and set about knitting my cowl. But any old cowl would not do. I wanted a cowl with a very soft hand, serious texture, and the ability to cover most of my face. It seems that the harder it is to see face of the wearer, then the more desirable the cowl. I wanted a neck covering so hip that it would impede my ability drive. So I began by spinning 8oz of single ply bulky thick and thin merino yarn. Being that the yarn was mostly thick, this did not take very long on my spinning wheel. Then I kettle dyed the newly spun yarn in a bright mossy green sort of color. After processing the wool in the dye-bath at 170 degrees, I brought it out to cool. I had decided I wanted some color varieation in the yarn, so I took the mostly cooled, still wet yarn and streaked it with a dark grey dye, and then squeezed it around a bunch to create the variation I was looking for. Then I wrapped it in plastic wrap and processed it in the oven for 45 min.
Tada!!!!! I knitted this up on size 10 1/2 needles in the round in simple seed stitch till I ran out of yarn.

I must say, I screwed my math up on this project. I did a gauge sample so that I could count how many stitches I would have to the inch, and then cast on and started knitting. Then I ripped it back out, us knitters call this frogging, and started over on a smaller size needle, but instead of doing a new sample I worked out some crazy proportion which made the cowl much to big. Oh well. I like it anyway. Photos of me in my cowl were taken by my cubicule wall mate on our one brake a week that is at the same it. Thanks Blair!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Extra work; neon dreams

Merino on Bubble Wrap

Sometimes I get special orders from clients for things I do not normally produce. In this case my client requested a sheet of felt in my lime green merino wool. Wet felting flat pieces of wool is a fun and exhausting process. I started by using 8oz of presoaked merino to match the neon green sample i was given. I tweaked the dye bath little by little until my merino matched the tiny twist I was given to work from. After removing the wool from the dye bath I washed it out with warm water. Normally I wait for the wool to cool in the dye Rolling with my Homies

bath before washing it out with cold water. Since I was just making felt anyway, I washed the excess dye out with warm water. I cut myself a big piece of bubble wrap that I have been saving. Then I lay merino fibers across the half of the bubble wrap all in one direction. The I laid fibers all going the other direction. Then lots of hot water, geranium scented dish soap, and good old elbow grease. I fold over the bubble wrap and roll the whole lot around a yard stick over and over again. And over and over again. I keep it hot by reJust Beat It

freshing the soap water, and then beat the hell of it with a wooden pasta spoon. And I really mean beat the hell out of it. Then a delicate wash out and a round through the spin cycle. I was left with a thick felt pad of bright neon green, and I think my client was pleased. I packed it with the leftover dyed merino and tied it with a silver bow.The finished felt pad

All dressed up

A sort of pinkish colored life explosion

I have had my thumb in many a pie these past few days. I have posted two new rovings to my Etsy site this week. The first is a very springy colorway that has been on the blog before. I call it Spring Awakening - Easter Flags. If your looking for a brightly colored easter gift for your favorite crafter, here it is.

The other roving I have put together is my Secret Valentine - Heart's Content Roving. This was created using a technique called Snow Dying used by quilters to dye pieces of fabric. You put your dyeable medium in a container, pack a ton of snow on top and then you pour dye over the snow. I dyed this merino while the little snow we accumulated remained on our trampoline. I poured Red Hot, Super dark Pumpkin Orange, Maroon, and Or-ange (a bright orange) all over the snow, then stuck the whole pot in the oven on the warm setting for about two hours. This turned out very different than I thought it would. So now I have this pink monster on Etsy waiting to go to the person you love.

While working at Gate City Yarns this week I was given the privilege of decorating the windows for Valentines Day. In the process I broke the stores stapler, shouted at a friend on the street who didn't look in the window, attracted the attention of some strange men, and sort of threw up a little in my mouth from the amount of pink I was exposed to. All in all I think the windows are pretty, and I am proud of them. You should stop by and see them if your in the area. That would be nice of you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finished Objects!!

So the Monkey socks are finished. On the evening of our snow night I attempted to graft the toe, but I got a little too inebriated so I couldn't concentrate on the stitches. Luckily, the next day I could keep it together enough to finish the grafting without screwing up the stitch pattern. For those of you who are not knitters I will explain. When knitting to the end of a sock, when you get to the toe you have to bring the live stitches together to tie them off so your piece doesn't unravel. This very much makes me think of that Weezer song about unraveling his sweater. I do not what that to happen, so I use a needle and the end of my yarn to make false knit stitches to tie the live stitches together to keep them from escaping. This is a technique that scares lots of knitters, but even beginner knitters can accomplish this and make it look really good if they follow simple directions.

I have been knitting for 20 plus years and I still look at the directions when I graft my stitches. They fit fantastically on my feet, and I love this yarn. This pattern looks really complicated but it is a fairly straightforward 16 stitch repeat. In the leg of the pattern I decreased the pattern by one repeat because my calves get really big, really fast. To make sure they would not slouch I just made the leg part shorter. This means I have a lot of yarn left over. I am thinking a little pair of baby socks, but I won't get to that for awhile.

As an attempt to stash bust I am developing my next knitting project from yarn from the bottom of the yarn bin. This yarn I mentioned in my last blog but I will fill you in again. I had some yarn samples, different fiber content mixtures and all just a couple of yards long. A few months ago I dropped the whole little collection of samples into a acid dye bath that was a dark scarlet color. Because the yarn bits are made of different fibers, they all accepted the dye in different ways. I am coupling them with a charcoal grey Lamb's Pride worsted weight yarn that is many years old. I have no idea where I got this grey skein from, but I was made before Brown Sheep (the company that makes Lamb's Pride) started adding more mohair to their yarn. I am planning a child's cardigan, so I am going to need more than one skein to complete it. I snuck into Gate City Yarns last night after closing ( I work there and have keys. You would be surprised how often employees go into the store after hours to pick up supplies for our own projects and the projects of our loved ones. I have solved many a yarn-emergency in the middle of the night this way.) and we don't have any of this color left. So I had to find something similar to work in with the grey. I was a little discouraged but I did find a grey Marks & Kattens Ecoull that is very very close to my Lamb's Pride. I am alternating the original grey with this new yarn so that you don't notice as much that I am using different colored yarns. I am planning a yoke with the little red yarn bits to highlight how different they look from the same pot. I'm thinking a simple colorwork in the yoke will do just the trick.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

As the days pass from the last time I posted, I have been looking for time in my daily life to make room for blogging. The whirl of life seems to get louder the more time passes. It is hard to keep my eyes on the prize when everything keeps spinning. I read the blogs of artists and crafters that make things for a living, and I wonder how they manage to make a living and blog and enjoy their lives. I have been thinking on it a lot and I think that I figured out the key to being able to make a living of making things. The secret is not sleeping. No sleep for the busy. I think if I stopped sleeping I could probably rule the world, except that I would be crazy from sleep deprivation. And sleep deprivation makes me dangerous. Mostly to myself. But I have been sleeping, and I have been working. I dyed a lovely 8oz roving for my Etsy site.

Before the oven...

I chose a variety of greens, Ooze, Kelly Green and Lime Juice, Teal, Midnight Blue and Satsuma Purple. I rolled the roving up in a pot and poured the colors onto the white merino. Then I just stuck the whole pot in my oven to process and set the dye. Thirty minuets @ 300 degrees and my roving was taken out to cool.

After the oven!

This is a new processing technique that I have not used before, and have mutated from a collection of other processes. I like it, I think I might try it again. I have also noticed I have been working mostly in oceany colors as of late. I really need to push myself to try other colors instead of just blues and greens. I like lots of colors, and a few years ago all that spoke to me were combinations of grays, black, red, and lime green. I like the way that sounds. I know that I promised sneak peeks of the new thing i'm working on for my Etsy site, but I broke a drill bit and have not finished the prerequisite leg work to fill you in on the big new thing. In the mean time, here is a photo of the socks that I am knitting. They are Monkey by Cookie A. made with Lorna's Laces sock yarn. The color way is Amys Vintage Office and it is the colorway made my Knitty. I guess it is fitting that I knitting a pattern from Knitty for this yarn. I'm so close...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day!!!!

Sock and a half!

Today we are having a snow day!!!! Here in the Piedmont of the Northern of the Carolinas we received less snow and ice then the areas around us but who cares. In the south even a quarter of a inch of snow can drive people to prepare for the second coming. I used the forthcoming storm to leave work early yesterday, and by early I mean to say 4:45pm instead of 9pm. A nice early ending to my Friday work day. So now its our snow day, B and I are very busy. I have been dying merino for my felting packs, and colors for B's needle felting projects. My lady has been doing a lot of needle felting recently, and now she is making color demands.

Up close and personal...

So I am spending my day over the pot on the stove. As my Monkey socks are coming to a close I need to think about a new knitting project. I had a pack of yarn samples from Henry's Attic that it had been saving for something, but i was not sure what. So a couple of months ago I took the whole pack of different samples and dyed them all together in the same scarlett acid dye bath. There were several different fiber contents in the samples, so I got lots of different variations of the dye color. I am thinking of coupling them with a gray skein of Lamb's Pride and doing some color work as some sort of sample piece. I'm still thinking on it, but I need to go check my blue.

I got the sock stuck!!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The begining of the begining

Brenda Dayne stated in her podcast "Cast On" Episode 59, "Start as you mean to go on". This has been repeating in my head for a couple of days now as I have been thinking about the new year and what I want to do with it. Therefore I am trying to harness the full potential and appeal of this blog and by the powers that be I am going to give it a fighting chance. I mean to start as I mean to go on. Really. Really really.

Recently I have been working on a few small projects for Christmas gifts and for fun. One of those projects was a square from the Great American Aran Afghan, and it is a gift for the mother of my girl. I choose the beach scene since it seems appropriate to be the one from me, being that I grew up near the ocean and still have deep feelings for it. Really I wanted to knit that one because of that connection, but now as I'm writing this it makes sense that I would pick that one simply because of its applique. Plus it has a crab on it. Who could say no? I chose a dusty sanguine tweedy color for the square, which is constructed of a garter edging with one half of the block in seed stitch to look like sand, and the other side a wavy back and forth cable to look like waves. Then some fish with tiny cable tails and a crab with cable claws are knit and sewn to the prospective habitats on the block. My girl has chosen a palate of dusty neutrals for the afghan and plans on knitting a few blocks a year until completion. I mean its only 25 blocks in all, how long could it take.
I recently was listening to NPR and some advisers on something were talking about Jon Stewart and the rallies that he has been involved with recently. Suddenly I had a huge realization and I am mentioning it now so that later, if it does happen I can rub it in. Jon Stewart is going to run for president. I'm not saying its going to be this up and coming race, but I'm saying I feel it coming. It makes sense right?

The next blog is going to have some sneak peaks on what I have been doing for my etsy store. I am branching out my stock in new directions and I want to include you in the process.