Monday, February 28, 2011

Yarn Diet and Cold Sheep Progress

Wove 13 wash cloths out of cotton yarn - 431 yards
Knit Andrea's market salad pedicure socks - 226 yards (not included in stash totals)
Knit Dimma for Donna in a trade yet to be determined - 218 yards (yarn provided by Donna)
Starting total: 108,649 yards
Starting total for February:  110,279
Yardage purchased:  0

Yardage received as gift:  0
Yardage used in finished projects:  431
Ending total for February:  109,848 yards

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another KAL

In a discussion in the Stash and Burn Ravelry group, they started at KAL (knit-a-long) for the Holden Shawlette.  It is very pretty and seems to be a fast knit.  Since I have stash yarn on hand and it is a rainy day for cooking and doing chores, it seems like a good project to cast on.

Here is the yarn that I got ages ago that will be great and has some of my favorite colors.

I can't wait to get started.  It must be another case of startitis.

I did also receive clue 4 for the Blooming Mystery KAL this weekend.  Only one more clue left before it is done.  Onward progress.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dyeing Not Dying

In class this week, we learned/relearned how to dye fibers and yarn.  The requirement was to bring in some fiber or yarn to dye in class.  Margaret Tyler provided almost all of the equipment and all of the dyes pre-mixed.  In class the dyeing is done by microwave.

Steps to dye:
- soak your fiber/yarn in a vinegar solution (if you would like to have the dyes stay in place) or water (if you would like the dyes to move around)
- prepare your surface with newspaper/plastic
- lay down plastic wrap in a large enough piece to wrap up your fiber/yarn in a bundle
- apply your choice of dye(s) with a sponge/brush/syringe
- ensure that all the fiber is covered if you want a solid finish
- wrap up the fiber/yarn in a bundle (rectangular roll and roll like a cinnamon bun)
- heat either by the microwave (5 minutes - minute on/minute off/on/off/on and rest wrapping up in newspaper to allow slow dissipation of heat) or by steam in a pot (I steam about 30 minutes)
- rinse fiber/yarn when it has reach room temperature (hopefully all the dye exhausts and you are left with clear water)
- dry on a rack

**Any utensils used should be dedicated to the dye process and no longer used for food preparation - even the microwave.

I decided to dye up the 3 ounces of Cormo fiber from the October 2010 offering from the Fondle This! Club, the small skein of faux cashmere, a sample of the Romney discussed here, and a small skein of Bamboo/Rayon/Wool/Alpaca blended top.

I presoaked all of the offerings at home before I went to class and used the dyes in class for the fiber and the yarn.

The Cormo fiber pre-dye.
The Cormo fiber post-dye.  
I used a purple black, hot pink and bright yellow.  With such dark and vibrant colors - only a little bit of the yellow was left in the rinse bath.  There are still some white areas but will be nicely blended when spun.

The faux cashmere pre-dye.
The faux cashmere post-dye.  
I used the hot pink.  There were no problems with the nylon dyeing and no residual dye was in the rinse bath.

The Romney pre-dye.
The Romney post-dye.  
I used dark purple and dark green.  This was the most unsuccessful attempt as most of the dark colors ran in the rinse bath.  The ending result is mediocre.

The Bamboo/Rayon/Wool/Alpaca pre-dye.
The Bamboo/Rayon/Wool/Alpaca post-dye.  
I used a dark purple, blue and red.  It is still a bit splotchy but the colors adhered to the yarn even though bamboo and rayon take dye differently than wool and alpaca.

One of the other students in class wanted to experiment with dyeing sock yarn in self-striping color bands.  Here is a description of her process.
I wonder how easy this will be to replicate.  I can see another experiment in the making at home.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Romney Experiment

Last week in spin class, we got some Romney fiber that is pin-drafted.  Here is the picture of it - very pretty preparation.
We are to spin it up and get it ready for dyeing in next week's class.

Here is the spun up 2-ply.
Romneys are originally from England and are medium-sized sheep.  The fiber has some luster and a well-defined crimp.  The staple length varies from 4 to 8 inches.  Is is a coarse fiber and felt coarser to me than the Lincolns.

The yarn has quite a bit of a halo and is a little rough to the touch.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Alaska Quilt Progress

When I went to Alaska last year, I shopped at a quilt store in Skagway.

I last blogged about the fabric here and had cut out the pieces for the quilt pattern.  It has been a work in progress with quite a bit of sewing math - thanks to Val for helping me figure out how much I needed to finish the border.

I finally finished sewing the quilt top together and it is beautiful and will be an outstanding addition to the guest bed.
Next step is to send it to the quilt lady for it to be quilted and last but not least is to hand sew the binding.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lunch in La Jolla

I had lunch in La Jolla this weekend in between the rain storms.  I haven't been to La Jolla in quite a while and even with the threat of rain, it will still bustling with people.

Lunch at Roppongi was fabulous.  They have a special tapas menu which were all mouthwatering.
Hawaiian Style Kailua Pork Spring Rolls with Two Sauces
Chinese Pot Stickers filled with Shrimp and Scallops with Tobiko Caviar Sauce
Barbecue Mini Lamb Chops with Pineapple Egg Fried Rice

After lunch was a short walk to Knitting in La Jolla where I pretty much touched every skein of yarn that looked soft.  They have Jade Sapphire cashmere in stock in solid colors.  I resisted the yarn fumes and walked out with any yarn - whew.  It was quite tempting.

I did see a cute book called Best in Show: Knit Your Own Dog with the cutest patterns ever.   The sheep dog was the best followed by the dalmatian.

Then it was a quick stop for dessert at Cups for a couple of mini cupcakes.  Yummy!  
It was quite a cute little shop and my understanding is that they also have cooking classes there.  It may be something to check out in the future.

Got home before the big rain started. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

KAL Progress

So it has been a few weeks since the start of the KAL (knit-a-longs) and I have some progress to report.

Blooming Mystery KAL - 

The clues come out once per week on saturday morning so I have knit up two clues so far.  Here is is after week 1.
Here it is after week 2.
There are to be 5 clues in all and this hand spun yarn is soft and has a very nice halo.  The pattern is very easy to read and follow - no problems as yet and no having to tink (un-knitting) back.

In Dreams Mystery KAL - 

This project was more problematic.  The yarn I was using is a very fine lace weight - you can see the swatch here.
However, when the knitting was going in earnest, the stitches were not very defined and the yarn kept splitting.  After getting halfway through the clue, the stitch count was all wrong and I attempted to tink back but that made an ever bigger mess.  I frogged (un-knit the whole thing) and threw the yarn in the corner.

I dug around my deep stash looking for some lace weight with enough yardage I could use and found this soy silk.
The colors are a bit bold but since I'm not using the beads through out the shawl, I'm hoping that the pattern will be readily apparent when the shawl is blocked.

This yarn is a dream to knit with and the singles are tightly plied so no splitting going on.  Here is the result at the end of clue 1.
The KAL has clues coming out every other week so I'm looking forward to the next clue release this weekend.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


As I posted here, I was commissioned to knit up a lace scarf in Qiviut.   Well, I could not resist constantly touching this fiber and started to knit the scarf pretty much right away.  I still knit some of my other things, but any extra time I had, it was devoted to this scarf.

I modified the scarf pattern a bit because I just could not break the yarn in two.  I ended up knitting the pattern all the way through instead of breaking the pattern in two sections and grafting them together.

I used US 6 needles and slipped the first stitch on each row to give it a really nice edge.

I would love to knit with this yarn all the time.  It was so very soft that it was sort of like holding a cloud.  There were no breaks in the yarn and except for a few pieces of loose fuss, the stitch definition was readily apparent.  The two ply is tight enough to keep the yarn from splitting and I was using very pointy needle tips.

Here is the finished scarf - I'm almost tempted to keep it!
My friend Jan has teased me in the past stating that I'm a princess due to my preferences for soft luxury fiber and yarn.  No shetland for me!  After this experience, I think I will elevate myself to a queen.

It took me a week to finish and give it to Donna.  She loves it and was petting it all night.
Verdict - awesomeness!

Monday, February 14, 2011

$1,000,000 Pedicure Socks

My friend Andrea offered to pay me $1,000,000 for a pair of pedicure socks and I took up the challenge.  

I finished them and sent them off in the post and she received them this weekend.  Here are pictures of her wearing them with a pedicure.
She is a happy camper and I believe she thinks they are worth a million bucks!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bits and Bytes

So I'm probably going to date myself, but I recall the days where there was one Wang word processor in the office at the Army and the rest of us used IBM electric typewriters with multi-color tissue paper we prepared with carbon paper.

Since that time, computers and electronics have moved at light speed.  My friend Talia provided me with some interesting facts about bits and bytes and I had to share.

1 Bit = Binary Digit 
8 Bits = 1 Byte 
1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte 
1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte 
1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte 
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte 
1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte 
1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte 
1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte 
1000 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte 
1000 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte 
1000 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte

At one time in the not too distant past, a megabyte was huge.  We will probably be carrying around little flash drives with a brontobyte soon!  Ah - progress!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Qiviut - Yum!

There exists in the world this wonderfully soft and hard to come by fiber called Qiviut.  You can read more about it here.  When I was up in Alaska, I saw small balls of this yarn - I'm talking about 1 ounce of yarn for $98.00.  It is rare and luxurious.

This week at spin class, Donna shared a ball of this yarn that her sister sent to her for Christmas.  It seems a little late for holiday presents but if someone was giving me some of this yarn, I would proclaim it Christmas any day of the year.

Here is the yarn.  It is a blend of 50% Qiviut and 50% Mulberry Silk.
You may wonder why I'm in possession of this astronomically expense luxury yarn.  The reason is that Donna believes that I'm an incredibly gifted lace knitter and she is commissioning me to knit her a scarf out of this yarn.  I'm not going to disabuse her of that belief!

This is the pattern she chose.  It is called Dimma (which is Swedish for mist) and should be a very pretty lace scarf.  There is no deadline so I can caress this yarn for quite a while.  The best of both worlds - knitting with luxury without the expense.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shamrock Tam

My friend Brandilion wrote this pattern a while ago and I knit it for her as a test knitter.  I used some green alpaca and my friend Val loved it so much, she is now the owner.  A few weeks ago, Mary the sewing teacher saw Val with her tam and asked for one as well.

I have knit two of these and everyone who sees it in person wants one.
I poked Brandilion to publish the pattern and she finally did.  You can get it FREE here.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cotton Wash Cloths

When I got my Ashford rigid heddle loom, I warped it with Sugar 'n Cream cotton that I had in my stash.  I talk about it here.

Well I finally finished the wash cloths and I sent it though the washer and dryer.  They came out very soft but the edges were a little funky.  I cut them all apart since I sent it through the wash all still connected.

Here are the finished wash cloths.
 Warp consisted of Hot Purple, Sage Green, and White
 Cool Breeze Ombre weft
 White weft
 Denim Twists weft
 Hot Purple weft
Sage Green weft

I got one each of the Hot Purple and Sage Green, two of the White, four of the Denim Twists, and 6 of the Cool Breeze Ombre for a total of 13.

I used up three skeins of yarn accounting for 431 yards of cotton and have some left over of the Denim Twists and Cool Breeze Ombre.  I'm going to use these for a while to determine if they are absorbent enough to make more.  I still have quite a bit of this cotton left over.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Drum Carding with Margaret Tyler

Since I have been learning all about using my MacBook Pro to it fullest potential, I decided to make a little movie from my spinning class.  This class is offered under Grossmont Adult Education and is held at Helix high school.

My teacher, Margaret Tyler, always demonstrates various spinning and fiber related instruction.  She brought out the drum carder this week to process the fiber from last week's lesson which was preparing raw fiber and solar dyeing.

She is using the dyed fiber from last week's assignment and carding it on the drum carder.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Faux Cashmere

At spin class this week, Geeki brought me some faux cashmere to try.  I have to confess that it felt very luxurious.  I was wearing my cashmere cowl and there was only a slight difference in softness.

Here is the little bundle of fiber she gave me.
I spun it up on my Matchless and plied it back on itself.  It is very soft and lovely.
It was very easy to spin with no breaks at all.  The resulting yarn was light and infinitely squeezable.
I'm going to take it to knit group and see if the knit gals can feel the difference.

Geeki stated she got the fiber from Paradise Fibers.  I may have to buy some of this to have in my stash.