Monday, November 24, 2008

the weekend in pictures

First of all, here's the yarn that was such an utter misery to dye last week, that I said it better come out pretty or it was in trouble.

In case you were worried, it's not in trouble. :)

I had a bit of a crazy weekend--after a month and a half of dead silence, suddenly realtors were crawling out of the woodwork wanting to show my house this weekend. So weird, but I'll take it. The phone rang off the hook, people made appointments, cancelled them, made new ones, and it was all general madness. As a result, I found myself fleeing the house quite a lot (so that buyers would feel comfortable to open closet doors and hopefully start feeling like the house was their own). I've been really tired, and on Saturday, I just wanted someplace to go and sit down, so I decided to go to Little Barn. Honestly, I usually don't like going there because I'm on a mission to accomplish everything on a mile-long to-do list, and I always feel anti-social for not joining the group hanging out there. So this week, I thought "This will be perfect--I'll actually sit down and knit with those folks!" Well, it turned out nobody was there, and I felt really foolish just plopping myself down and knitting by myself in a store, so I looked at the merchandise instead. Duh, I haven't spun anything in weeks, not even my own fabulous roving, which is still sitting around half-spun and waiting to be plied, but I thought I was safe to look at stuff because I had just been there the week before and not seen anything that interested me except the Plymouth Boku that I went there intending to get. But I guess every day we're slightly different people than the day before, and it gives us slightly different tastes.

This is a Bombyx silk cap. I fell in love with the colors but had no earthly idea what to do with a silk cap. But the label said "instructions included"--sold!

This is my first ever batt. The colors are very subtle and may just make a pale muddy brown, but with that purple, I couldn't resist finding out.

Otherwise, it was dye dye dye.

I'm skipping knitting night tonight to keep at it so I can get this order finished and shipped. I'm tired, but I persevere.

Friday, November 21, 2008

more dyeing

I was a bit bummed when I started dyeing this yarn, but it cheered me right up. Just look at it.

Last night's yarn (which I haven't rinsed yet), on the other hand...the dye didn't want to flow right, I had a cold, my back hurt, and I just wanted to blow the place up. That stuff better come out pretty or it's in trouble.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

good dyeing

Dark, rich colors, enough light to really see what I'm doing, and this luscious soft yarn... oh, yeah, things are good.

This is my "Love" colorway, which is one of the first few that I thought up but which required persistent efforts to get the purple to come out right. I'm so happy that I've got that figured out.
I'm dying on a pretty ambitious schedule to get my next order ready in time--the best kind of busy! Also, I'm working on some process improvements--it is taking me way too long to dye this yarn, so I'm working on some ideas to get more efficient. It's all very exhilarating. Sometimes it's frustrating not to be able to put in as much time as I'd like--I see a lot of areas where the business would grow immediately if I could just tend it more--but today I just feel great.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

disappointing dyeing

I dyed some more of the new yarn base. I totally adore how soft this yarn is, and I've just about got a good balance between acid and salt in the soaking stage so that the dye flows and sets like I want it to.

Unfortunately, I guess I wasn't thinking when I dyed this yarn--it's supposed to be my Fire colorway, but I usually do that so that all the yellow is next to orange, which goes to red, then purple, not in a yellow-orange-red-purple circle like this where the purple is next to the yellow. Also, there are a lot of white spots on almost every skein. This really bums me out--all that time and yarn, and the best I can do with it as is, is put it in an "oops" basket and sell it at a major discount. Feh.
I think the problem is that it was just too darn dark in my studio--I messed up one skein with dark colors, but only one, whereas almost every skein with yellow (way less contrast to the natural color of the yarn) had a lot of flaws. So I bought two shop lights and put 100-watt-equivalent compact fluorescent bulbs in them. What a difference! I hope that will take care of the problem. I'm way behind my production goals as it is--I can't afford to blow a whole night making defective yarn.
Anybody want a bunch of very soft not-quite-right yarn? I can give you a real good deal. :P

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm in

I went to Little Barn over the weekend. I thought I remembered them having something Noro-like, and sure enough, they did.

It's Plymouth Boku. I know many of the people who make the Noro scarf seek something toward the tame end of their colors, but not me. I'm in the mood for bright, intense color. My only concern with this pairing is that they're too similar and won't be contrasty enough. Oh well, if that happens, I'll just have to pick two different ones and try again. :) Actually, I'm also a bit concerned that the yarn will be too scratchy for a scarf. I plan to wash it in vinegar or hair conditioner (or one after the other); hopefully that will take care of it.
This yarn is hanging out in my kitchen, enticing me. I won't let myself do more than pet it until I finish the darn scarf, but I have had two dreams about it. You can't beat that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

just a little dyeing

No time to write, but here's what I've been working on. That's my new base yarn. It rocks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


A much-anticipated box of yarn samples came in the mail today.

Glorious goodies, and a full skein of each yarn! Now that's what I call a sample! I feel like a kid: goody goody goody goody gumdrops!
In other news, yesterday's Yarn Harlot post about Noro scarves has me off on a new tangent. "But wait," I know you're saying, "aren't you currently working on a scarf that you're sick to death of?" Yes, you're right. And when the Yarn Harlot talks about how sad it is to follow knitting fads or refuse to knit something because it's a fad, I think it's an order of magnitude sadder to knit the thing because the Yarn Harlot is. Maybe two orders of magnitude. Not that I have anything against the Yarn Harlot, it's just that she's such a phenomenon, anything she does becomes an insta-frenzy faddier-than-fad fad. Those colors sure make me drool, though. Well, no problem: by the time I finish the current scarf, the Harlot and the entire rest of the world will have knit their Noro scarf and left the idea behind long since. When I do my Noro scarf, it will be retro, so I'll be cool after all. Ha ha! Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

time for a new obsession

So I've been thinking about a cowl. As it's rapidly gotten colder and more wretched in my office, the idea of a cowl has begun taking over more and more territory in my brain. Well, that's what Ravelry is for, right? So I started snooping around. Well, first I found the gorgeous Ice Queen. If I wasn't fully aware that it would be stealing, I'd copy one of their images here, because you've got to see this thing. It is gorgeous and made of Kidsilk Haze, a yarn that still has me deeply enthralled. But, oh wait, I was just complaining that my darn scarf was too complicated, and this thing has lace and beads and charts and oookay, moving on. Then I found the Aspen Neck Cowl, which doesn't look like anything super special on its main page, but check out how awesome this girl's looks. Suddenly I'm eyeing my Royal Llama Silk (from Yarn Expressions on Franklin day) and wondering if it's enough.

It's a very simple pattern, and the Royal Llama Silk is worsted/Aran weight, so maybe it wouldn't take too long. Some people have made this pattern in two days or less. Of course, those people probably knit a lot faster and a lot more often than I do.

In fact, hey, didn't I just say yesterday that I don't want to do any more monochrome projects and maybe not even a knitting project at all for a while? Has anyone out there met both of my personalities? If so, will you please introduce us? I think we have some things to discuss.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

this is the scarf that never ends... just goes on and on and on, my friends.
But I'm sure you're getting about as tired of it as I am, and it still looks exactly the same, so why bother posting another picture of it? I worked on it again last night at knitting night, and I swear I mixed up the pattern and was doing "knit one, frog two" instead. Feh. But I finally finished the second patch of lace, so the rest should go pretty fast. I'm just going to duplicate what I did at the beginning so that it's symmetrical, and that stuff is all pretty simple. I don't know if I ever want to do the Feathery Lace Stole, though. This project was supposed to be kind of a warmup for that, and they share two qualities: single-color yarn, and a pattern requiring a minimum level of concentration and short-term memory. Neither of these qualities is working for me right now. I'm sure I will attempt that project some day, but not right after this scarf, that's for sure! Also if I wasn't trying to finish in any particular time frame, I could switch to other projects, so maybe I wouldn't get so sick of it. Right now, though, if I ever finish this scarf, it will be a long time before I consider any more monochrome or thinking projects.
While I was waiting for knitting night to start, I browsed around the book store and discovered Happy for No Reason. One of the tips in there was to note which areas of your life you're not satisfied with and think of what you can do to make even tiny improvements. Well, one area of my life that I'm not satisfied with is recreation. I don't feel like I have enough time to do fun things like knitting and spinning, and when I do knit, it's this boring scarf. Well, one thing I could do to improve that is do a couple of rows on this scarf every night like I did when I first started knitting. Then I would make more progress and eventually finish the darn thing and be free to start something more interesting. That is my new plan. Also, now that all that's left is easy stuff, maybe I won't feel like picking it up is such a commitment. During the lace part I was afraid to start a row for fear of getting interrupted--I made enough mistakes even when I wasn't being interrupted!
Anyway, I have done something I'm pleased with: I dyed a lot of really nice yarn over the weekend. In my mad dash freakout to get it shipped, I forgot to take pictures, though! So mad! But here's the one skein I still have.

It's my colorway Relax, which it totally my favorite of the moment. This is my new base, and I absolutely love how it takes the navy dye (the others too, but the navy is the one that makes me want to yodel or something).
So why do I still have this one?

Yep, defective. I'm going to touch it up, maybe with a fabric marker or maybe by overdyeing that spot, and then I'm going to make something awesome. I want a cowl, maybe a mobius, but I have no idea if this is enough yarn. Time for some research.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I love this job

My new, gorgeous spinning fiber is dry.

It is exceptionally soft, shiny, and luscious. I believe it would be irresponsible of me to sell any without spinning some myself first though, just to make sure it's good. Oh, twist my arm, ouch. I know what I'm doing this weekend! (Of course, two of my three bobbins are still full of Stargazing--I'll have to finish at least one of those first. Again, woe is me.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

new stuff to dye

I finally dyed some of the new merino/tencel fiber I got. It is everything I dreamed of. It's not quite dry yet, but here's a preview:

Soft, luminous, and utterly gorgeous. It's actually darker than this in real life, but the shine makes it appear lighter in the picture. The contrast gives it the illusion of depth or extra three-dimensionality or something. It's really compelling. I think I will have to test-spin one of these as soon as possible.
I also had a new base yarn to try--I got a good deal on a small amount of this yarn, but if I like it, it will be the next addition to my line of yarns.

It's supposedly within 5% of the same content as my regular sock yarn--same fibers, just a slightly different balance between them. But it's spun a lot looser, which may account for why it soaked up tons more dye and why it feels about five times softer. Here's the same colorway dyed the same night with the same water and the same dye stock on my regular sock yarn base.

You wouldn't guess, would you? Obviously if I start using this new base, it's going to require a lot of experimenting to get the right concentrations with the dye stock and everything. Also, it bloomed like mad when I dyed it--I need to find out what the post-dye yardage is. I bet we lost a lot. It sure is soft, though.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

scarfity scarf

Given an hour of uninterrupted knitting time and nobody even telling any funny or interesting stories, I really had no reason not to fix the mistake in my scarf.

Ok, so it doesn't look all that different from last time I showed it to you. I never realized what a slow knitter I am until this project--I worked for an hour on this thing, and even I can't tell any difference. If I ever attempted one of those lace shawls, it would end up being like something out of Greek mythology. But whatever, I was happy standing in the sun knitting instead of sitting at my desk at work. I immediately started trying to plot a way to arrange such a situation more often, but the only real possibility I came up with involved getting fired, so I don't think I really want to go there.
Anyway, I never did figure out what was up with the missing stitch, but I successfully tinked back both of the last two rows. It turned out that in the middle of the next-to-last row I had forgotten which of the two-row repeat I was working on and cheerfully purled right across where I was supposed to do yarnovers and stuff to make the pretty row of holes that goes up this scarf. Yeah. It was a pretty glaring mistake. I sure do fall apart when I get tired. Just imagine what a knitting disaster I'd make if we held knitting night at a bar instead of a bookstore! It would probably reach the level of abstract art or something.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

rockin' the vote

Everyone, I just found out that if you vote, you can get a free scoop of Ben & Jerry's ice cream! Dude, what's better than that? Also, Krispy Kreme will give you a free donut (not their regular glazed kind, though, a star-shaped frosted sprinkle-covered one), and I've seen rumors of free coffee at Starbucks. And let's not forget 10% off at Yarn Expressions! Not that you needed any more incentives to vote, but what awesome bonuses!

Personally, I think it's extremely refreshing to see such a resurgence of interest in this country. Suddenly everybody cares! I think that's great--a much-needed change from the apathy and despair of recent times. For myself, I had a little over an hour wait at my polling place this morning, so I got to stand in the nice warm sun and knit while waiting to exercise my rights and stand up for my country and all that good stuff. Life is good.

finally, something to do with yarn!

I went to knitting night last night, and lots of my favorite people were there--it was great.
I continued to labor on the scarf, which is getting longer and thus will probably end some day.

Unfortunately, the time change was not my friend last night. I'm loving it in the morning, but in the evening, not so much. I hit a wall around 9:00 and completely lost my short-term memory, as in "wait a minute, what stitch did I just do?" A smart person would pack it up and go home, and I did stop knitting for a little while, but then I got bored and picked it up again.

Um, yeah. Somewhere in that top right corner, a stitch went missing. I don't seem to have dropped it, so things could be worse, but??? My theory is that I forgot a yarnover in the second-to-last row. Sigh. Every time I try to tink this pattern, I get all messed up and create some worse problem. I know this is knitting heresy, but I'm considering just adding a stitch in the last row and continuing merrily on my way.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Missing: one weekend. Please return if found. Reward.
Actually, I know where the weekend went, and although it doesn't make for good yarn pr0n, it was stuff that had to be done. Bookkeeping, laundry, etc.--the kind of stuff that as a kid I imagined my twin would take care of if I had one, not realizing that twins are people too and don't want to do any of that yucky stuff any more than you do.
But tonight is knitting night, and I will go and play with gorgeous soft alpaca/merino yarn and everything will be good. I'm still bored with the scarf project, but since I knit so rarely, I'm afraid if I start something else, I'll never finish the scarf. Plus all the really wild yarn that's calling to me is in the office, but my ball winder is at home--not conducive to starting a new crazy crochet project on a huge hook, which is what I really feel like right now. Maybe next week.