Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Play Clothes to Dye In

All decked out and ready to play!

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Except now I don't play with mud pies. Today I am making poison soup. The kind that produces little green balls that are fun to spin.

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The dyes I am using are not good to breathe or eat and they are quite happy to stain my clothes and hands, hence the fancy outfit. It's dangerous enough that I am doing this inside my kitchen.

No husbands will be harmed in the making of this soup. It's poisonous contents are being cooked up in a designated "Dyeing Only" crockpot and will only be served to Little Gemivere (my spinning wheel).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Well that explains why we are going through the bird seed so quickly!

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The photo is a little blurry because I took it through the kitchen window. I thought that they would scatter if I opened the door and went out to the porch. Nope! They waited until our dog had them on the run.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Felted Entrelac Bag

The entrelac bag is finally felted. I was finished the knitting quite some time ago but had to make a trip to my daughter's to use her top loading washing machine. My front loader is too wimpy to beat wool into felt.

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I used Knitpicks' Wool of the Andes.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Knitting Needles......

......not just for knitting anymore.

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My husband borrowed this one to hold a light fixture out, away from wet paint. (It wasn't much of a sacrifice for me as I don't use straights anymore.) That's just white primer in the picture. The walls received their first coat of "wooden spoon" (that's the name of the color) tonight.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Handspun Lace Rib Socks

These socks, with their handspun wool/mohair yarn and lacey rib pattern, were involved enough to hold my interest right through to the end.

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I knit them toe-up, two at a time on one circular needle. They were started with a figure 8 cast on, used a lace ribbing pattern from "Sensational Knitted Socks", and have a Peasant Heel. I finished them with a picot bind off for elasticity and worked out a stitch repeat for it (cast on 2, bind off 6, repeat around) that placed the picots over each vertical line of lace rib.

This is the second project I have knit from the same large batch of roving given to me by a very generous guild member when I was a brand new spinner. The first project was the Poinsettia Shawl. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for yet another project using this same yarn. It's already cast on........and it involves lace and beads.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Where's the Glue?

I love wallpaper.....or at least I used to. Remember back in the "Good Ol' Days" (70's and 80's) when wallpaper had so much glue that it spewed to the floor in great globby puddles? Yes, those puddles were a pain in the butt, requiring careful squeegeeing, drop-sheets and much mopping up, but at least the darn wallpaper stuck when you were through with it.

Well, for whatever reason, manufacturers of wallpaper have gotten more and more stingy with the glue to the point now where wallpaper is best used to wrap gifts or line shelves. Certainly no one in their right mind would attempt to actually stick it to a wall.

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I should have known. This is exactly what happened the last time I attempted wallpaper. In this very room in fact. Last time I went out and bought seam glue (the very fact that seam glue exists should be a warning, hmmmm?). It didn't do much to stick the wallpaper down, but I found over the past several days of stripping the old wallpaper that, ohhhhh that glue can be horrendous to get off the wall! Won't go there again.

Falling back on Plan B, we will now be painting instead.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Unraveling Brussel Sprouts

Here we have another edition of the Saga of the Dyeing Experiments. In this crockpot full I was going for a darker green while also testing what happens if I dye the wool AFTER it was combed and dizzed.

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We'll have to wait to see the effect in the finished spinning. I have to set aside crafty endeavors today for THIS:

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I'm stripping wallpaper in our main bathroom. This is part of a temporary, mini-fix of new wallpaper and mouldings. The BIG FIX will be done some time next year and will involve new fixtures, flooring, cabinets, walls and color. The family room is first in line for its major fix up this Spring.

Why the temporary fix in the bathroom? The wallpaper has been in the process of lifting away from its seams for never did fully stick the way it was supposed to. The other day I was in a thrift store rummaging for craft supply bargains when I came across some vinyl coated wallpaper. I brought home two double rolls (at $2 a piece) to use as drawer and cabinet shelf liner. I plopped them down on the bathroom counter and did a double take! WOW, it looked not bad. Certainly looked better than the peeling wallpaper that was there. Could it be used instead for the walls? It could you know, and it just might.

The next day I went back and bought the other two double rolls. At only $2 each the whole lot cost $8 and there should be enough to do the entire project. The new wallpaper will go perfectly with the old paint, so we only have to replace the mouldings and they will be painted white to match those in the rest of the house. Ta Da! Bathroom redo for only $12. (The other $4 is for two floral pictures I picked up at a different thrift store.) EDIT: Ooops, forgot about the mouldings. That will cost a few dollars more for sure, but not bad.

Now if the wallpaper was there in the bin for a REASON (like it won't stick or something) then we will fall back on Plan B, which will be to repaint instead. As we attacked the existing wallpaper we realized that the walls underneath are still the color they were when we moved in.....two redecoratings ago. That would be okay I guess......if it wasn't pea soup green....and if it was ALL the walls, not just the ones we wallpaper over. Pea soup and soft peach? What do you think? Nah, me neither!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Grass Green

The comb-blended nests I blogged about earlier spun up far more grass like than I expected.

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Please excuse the newbie attempt at Navaho 3-ply. I haven't yet got the knack of this technique. It looked way over plyed when I was working on it, but off the bobbin and skeined it is clear that it is actually UNDER plyed. I should have went HERE first. I can see now SEVERAL mistakes I was making. *sigh*

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Stephanie's book is in the picture to show that her sheep pasture is similar in color to the general color of the skein.

Now I'm pondering what my next step should be. Should I dye the next washed batch of fleece the same way, (dyeing before combing, which results in a blended effect) or should I comb it first and then dye it, possibly with a more mottled effect in the finished spinning? I'm going for a color to represent a sheep pasture. I didn't expect the first little nests to spin up so nice and "grass-like".

One thing to take into consideration is that I will likely need more contrast between the green background and a creamy natural "sheep" color for the Shy Sheep Vest, with its illusion knitting, to work right. With that in mind I'll likely try for a darker version of this same color combination no matter which dyeing order I end up using.

So I guess the next step in this Dyeing Experiment is to comb a crock pot's worth of the wool and bundle it in little nests in preparation for crock pot, sprinkle dyeing in the next few days. After seeing how that spins up, I'll make some sort of a decision about how I'll approach the final project.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dyeing Experiment

My guild had a Down breed fleece that no one wanted (it's old, dirty, and has a fair bit of VM).

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I took it home to use in dyeing experiments, and to play with using my new wool combs

I'm using Ashford wool dyes. My first dyeing experiment was quite a learning experience. I'm "in training" with this free fleece, and I'm trying to come up with colors and methods that will spin up into a reasonable facsimile of a pasture sheep might be standing in. This is for the background color in the "Shy Sheep Vest" which I want to start knitting in May. My first experiment involved dyeing clean locks and then combing them afterward.

I'm delighted with how beautifully this fleece is combing and spinning. How fortunate for me that no one else from the guild could be bothered with it! The locks are long and, with combing, all the VM everyone seemed to shy away from is just falling right out. The fleece also looks terribly dirty, but in a sink of hot water it practically melts away. Not a problem at all.

Anyway, back to the dyeing experiment. The dyed wool looked lovely and the 6 shades of green I mixed up were quite "grassy field-ish" looking.

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BUT, when I comb it it blends into one nearly solid color. The variation of course gets combed out. There are slight differences between one combful and the next, but not the kind of variety that I had in mind. Still, I'm not giving up on it. I'll see how it looks when spun.

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Meanwhile I think what I'll do is wash, dry, and comb a batch and then dye the coiled "nests" in the same manner that I had dyed the locks, (sprinkle dyed in a crockpot). Hopefully using this technique I will get more variation and a final result that looks more like the field I had imagined.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Entrelac Bag

Entrelac has never really appealed to me, but after receiving a request to teach a class on the subject, I set to work to learn something new. I chose a felted bag pattern from the Knitpicks line and bought their Wool of the Andes to complete it.

Here it is, not yet felted, turned upside down and warming my feet.

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I have several miles (okay, it's "only" 80 inches) of 10 stitch I-cord yet to knit for the two handles and then it's off to my daughter's house for felting. I gave my top-loading washing machine to her when I (stupidly) bought a front loader.

And the class I was asked to teach? Not going to happen. I wisely begged off. I'm not interested enough in the technique to do a full exploration of all it's variations and possibilities and, really folks, it amounts to picking up stitches along the edge of one shape and knitting another. I could talk/demonstrate on that for a maximum of.....oh....maybe three and a half minutes! They have an offer, waiting in the wings, from a yarn shop owner who will do class lasting about 2 hours.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wool Combs

Whoo, Hooo! My new wool combs arrived today!

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I borrowed a set of these wool combs in December and loved them so much that no others would do. It took me a while to track down the person who makes them. All I had to go by was a tiny punch-stamp that read "Ray00". I googled "ray, woolcombs" and found this site. I tried emailing and phoning to no avail. Finally they popped up on "CanSpin" and I was happy to hear that they had been involved in a big move and were back in business, now in BC.

Mine are the "mini combs". I didn't bother to get the "Workstation" that fits it because I prefer to sit in my comfy chair to do my wool combing and with the workstation you have to stand near a table or countertop suitable for clamping the workstation to.