A blog about my life, knitting, and other stuff.

February 28, 2007

NWRSA Conference?

Is anyone in Western Washington planning on attending the Northwest Regional Spinners Association Conference in Coeur d'Alene in June? I'd love to go but I don't think I'd enjoy the ten hours of driving there and back all by myself. Registration starts tomorrow.

My New Love

Is Wednesday the Day for Random?

I was all over the map yesterday. Figuratively, not literally. Tuesdays are always really tiring. I work for four hours then teach knitting club. When I get the kids home I can barely hold my head up. Why should this be so much more exhausting than working a full day? The girls in the knitting club are doing very well. Some are still working on their hats. We've had a few finished hats and one girl has started a scarf. Most of the effort is trying to get them to sit down and knit instead of good around.

I started a new Dulaan hat for some knitting-I-can-do-without-thinking-or-looking. I worked on my Estonian sock. I'm still crawling through the colorwork portion. Why is following the chart on colorwork so challenging to me when following a chart for lace is simple as pie (Mmm, pie)? I have decided to rip out the edging on Retro Prep the Third but I haven't worked up the energy to actually do it.

I also washed my new fleece last night. After three soakings/washings it still seems a little sticky to me. I tried to comb a little bit last night but it was too damp and didn't go very well. It's very pretty though. I might need to spin this right away.

I was so excited yesterday to know that today I didn't have work, the kids are in school and no one is sick. So why do I feel so listless and aimless today? I can't remember anything I was anxiously waiting to accomplish. Hopefully inspiration will come soon.

Oh, I finally chose my new purse.

Click on the photo for more bag information.

It's simple, inexpensive, the right size and it has a light that comes on when you open it! This bag got returned. It was too kitschy. You couldn't see from the photo but the red part was kind of a pearlized patent leather. It looked like the seats at a 50s diner. And the side gussets were a multi-colored stripe fabric.

February 27, 2007

Fleece With Photos

A good sign.

Her name is Rose. It was meant to be. I love the crimp and color variations.

I finished up another quick Dulaan hat last night.

I also steeked Retro Prep and picked up for the edging. I'm not sure I like the way it looks in ribbing. I might rip it out and do garter stitch. No picutres of that. Sorry.

February 26, 2007

Weekend Wrap Up

Just a quick post to say that I'll get a photo of the fleece I bought yesterday up as soon as I can. It's a multi-colored Corriedale with many of shades of gray. It's small--only 2.5 lbs. It was lots of fun to fondle all the fiber and especially fun to watch the little lambs. Unfortunately it was pouring. Note: Next year wear boots. I still have lots of dried sheep slurry on my shoes from slogging around near the barn.

I finished my secret project. Finally! It's soaking right now. I'll block it and photograph it. Once it's been received I'll post pictures.

Tonight I'm cutting the steek on Retro Prep the Third at Purlygirls. Before I machine stitched it on Saturday I double-checked to make sure I stitched in the right spot. That's when I discovered that I had placed the neck two stitches off center. There was a bit of ripping and reknitting.

Oscar recap: No big surprises this year. No outfits I completely hated except Sally Kirkland who has obviously gone completely off her nut. There were only a few outfits I absolutely loved. Kate Winslet looked gorgeous. I loved her hair, make-up, jewelry and her gown. The color and cut were so flattering and fresh looking. Reese Witherspoon looked fabulous. I loved the dash of color at the hem of her dress and the way it flowed. Rachel Weisz also looked so elegant in her champagne-colored Vera Wang. For the men, George Clooney was the reincarnation of Cary Grant. So dashing. And what happened to Philip Seymour Hoffman?? He looked like he'd been licked by a goat just moments before coming on stage.

I've got to run. More soon!

February 25, 2007

Fleece Sale

February 23, 2007

Oscar Catch-Up

At AMC you can see all five films nominated for best picture on Saturday for $30! Plus you get a large popcorn and soda with unlimited free refills. Cool.

February 22, 2007

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

More fashion from the New York runway. This week's theme: Big Ass Knits.

So dainty and cozy, they are.

February 21, 2007

How Do You Do That Exactly?


I knit yesterday until my arms nearly fell off and completed the yoke on Retro Prep the Third.

When I picked out the colors, three years ago, I was trying to work a bit outside my comfort zone. Sadly, these colors together are still out of my zone so I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this. I'll mostly likely set this aside until I can cut the steeks at Purlygirls on Monday night.

I did rip out the unfinished portion of my gift knitting that I ran out of yarn on. I restarted and I think I should be fine this go around.

Dispatch from the Courthouse

Wes has jury duty today. The courthouse has wifi so we've been IMing. He just sent me this.

"at the screening area with the metal detectors, they have a big printed sign that says "NO WEAPONS, KNIVES, OR KNITTING NEEDLES" but the KNITTING NEEDLES part has been crossed out by hand"

Grey's News

Addison is going to get her own show. I guess that means she has another whole hospital's worth of men to sleep with.

February 20, 2007

Back in Sick Bay

My younger guy has what the big one had last week. He's crashed out on the couch all day and I'm home from work.

Retro Prep the Third is two-thirds up the yoke. The yoke always seems to take me longer than I think it will. So I say with a little hesitation that I might finish knitting the yoke today. But I was thinking of holding off from cutting the steek until Purlygirls next Monday. It's so much fun to cut your knitting in front of people who have never seen it before. I love that terrified look in their eyes.

February 19, 2007

Long Weekend Wrap Up

Here is the first Estonian sock and evidence of just how little yarn I had left when I finished. I have started the second sock and am just at the beginning of the colorwork.

I knit these two Dulaan hats on Friday and Saturday. The all turquoise one was knit while seeing Little Children (Whoa! IMDB changed their format. A lot. Since yesterday.). What an excellent film. Todd Fields is an amazingly talented director. Then last night I knit another turquoise hat (no photo) while at karaoke with Wes, his co-worker and a group of her friends. If you want to get some strange looks pull your knitting out at karaoke. Everyone who spoke to me about it said the exact same thing. "You must be bored." I tried to explain but they just thought I was some kooky knitting lady. But I showed them when I rocked the mic with my awesome version of Wheatus's Teenage Dirtbag.

February 17, 2007

What Watching The Lord of the Rings with an 8 Year Old Sounds Like, Part Two

"Is he going to die?"
"Is he going to die?"
"What happened?"
"Is he going to die?"
"Is he dead?"
"Is he going to die?"

and during the final moments in Mount Doom
"Drop it!"
"Just drop it!"
"Throw it in!"
"Drop! It!"

Writing Practice

My eight year old son is learning cursive at school. He's very excited about it. He was up early this morning practicing. Here's what I found in his notebook.

Hey there Julia!
Repel the rats that are in the cellar!
Holy crap! Salsa races are radical dude!
Catch it Jack!
Cereal is delicate.
Fill the hull!

February 16, 2007

Win Some, Lose Some

I just finished my first Estonian sock (no pictures right now, the battery is charging). As I got closer to the end of the toe I noticed I was very short on yarn. I knit faster. The yarn got smaller. I realized I would probably need to get another skein. Miraculously though I finished the sock with one gram of yarn to spare. For us Americans who are lousy with the metric system, one gram = a really, really tiny amount of yarn. Like a yard and a half. Maybe.

So that was a win.

On the losing side of things there is a gift I have been knitting in secret for quite some time. I am knitting it from my own hand-dyed yarn. I used my very accurate scale and my percentage calculator. I did math. I puzzled. I fretted. I started my fancy-ass lace edging with what I thought was the correct amount of yarn plus a little extra cushion. I pulled the yarn out of my bag last night and gasped to see it's tiny size. I weighed it. I calculated. I have only half the amount left that I need. I couldn't possibly dye more yarn that will match the original. But I can't stomach the idea of ripping it out. It's so pretty but unfinished.

So that was a loss.

February 14, 2007

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

When Lion Brand announced this week that their yarns had been featured in a runway show during New York's fashion week I felt the need to investigate. The yarn was used by a designer who goes by the name Pierrot.

Yeah, Pierrot, we get it.

I said we get it.

Work that boucle.

Perhaps with pants next time.

This must be one of those "smiling on the inside" clowns.

Isn't this what you wore when you were seven and standing in front of the guest bedroom mirror pretending to be a model while staying at your great aunt Hazel's house?
Until she called out from the living room and said, "Where's my afghan?"

It's what a neon-stripey-undead-soccer mom wears to the grocery store when she just needs to pick up some milk.

Those folks at Lion Brand must be bursting with pride.

Off the Back Burner

I don't have many hard and fast rules about knitting. But one that I try to maintain is only one pair of socks on the needles at a time. I don't know why but the thought of multiple pairs going on at the same time would make me panic. I stuck to this rule with no problems until last summer. I cast on the Estonian Socks from Folk Socks in May 2006. I worked on them on and off for a few months. Mostly off. They sat. Eventually I shoved them aside and moved on to other socks. This month the Folk Socks Knitalong is working on knitting a pair of socks already selected for the knitalong that you skipped. So yesterday I sucked it up and went back to my Estonian socks.

I think I know why I lost all interest in them. Knitting the travelling stitches on the heel flap when you have to travel stitches on the right and wrong side of the fabric made my head hurt. And my knitting looks pretty shitty. As my son would say, whatever. I'm moving forward. I'm hoping the second sock will be a lot prettier than the first. Maybe I'll finish them in under a year.

This weekend's cleaning/organizing binge has been having ripple effects. I reorganized my stash. Then last night I redid my stash blog and have everything categorized and even listed in which container I can find my yarn. Now if I could only figure out this whole "widget" thing in the new Blogger. Pawing through all my yarn got me fired up to start some new projects. Retro Prep the Third is sitting on the sidelines waiting until my class on Saturday to be joined together. I needed a new sweater project.

I hope to turn these

into one of these. The yarn is Rowan Kid Classic. I started buying oddballs several years ago when I'd come across them in sale bins. I planned on some sort of striped sweater but I didn't know what. When Yarnplay came out I saw Poppy and loved it. It took me a while to realize out that my stash and my new crush were compatible.

February 13, 2007

Knitting in the Sick Bay

I've been home for the last two days with a sick kid. Just a little fever and cough. He's doing much better and hoping to be back in school tomorrow. It's been the right time for a little simple Dulaan knitting.

A simple hat knit in Lamb's Pride Superwash Bulky. Quick and easy.

In the weekend cleaning rampage, Wes cleared out his closet. He had two bags, one for cold weather and one for warm weather clothes. All his no longer wanted cold weather clothes are going with my Dulaan donations. I'm going to need a big box to ship this all off.

February 12, 2007

Kitchen Tip

This Boing Boing post this morning with Rachel Ray showing various methods to open a jar reminded me of a tip I've been wanting to share. Get one of these.

Turn it around and use the handles to grip the lid of your jar.

It has a great grippy surface and gives you leverage. Makes opening even the stickiest stuck lids easy.

Any Linkin Park or Metallica Fans Out There?

I found some goodies way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back of the closet that I'd love to pass along. Drop me a line.

Updated: Linkin Park stuff is gone.
More Updated: Metallica stuff is gone. Thanks!

February 11, 2007

Lace Style

I like it. It has Evelyn Clark, Nancy Bush and this pretty little vintage-inpsired cardigan by Kathy Zimmerman. I don't usually like her work as it leans toward chunky and slouchy but this cardi (the long version not--dear God--the short one) is delicate and feminine.

I do think it's kind of hinky that Interweave is hosting the knitalong for the book. And all their other new books too.


I wondered why my post from this afternoon about Lace Style never showed up on Bloglines. It looks like Blogger ate it. Grumble...

February 10, 2007

Blame Oprah

There is no knitting.
There is dusting.
There is vacuuming.
There is organizing.
There is cleaning.
It's all Oprah's fault that I barely recognize the place.
Even the Christmas tree is gone.

February 9, 2007


I am not a pattern repeater. I can't think of a single pattern I have knit multiple times. Except Retro Prep. I love this stripey little sweater. It's light-weight making it ideal for all but two or three months of the year here in Seattle. It's simple. It fits well. I knew when I first knit it that it was in the style of Elizabeth Zimmermann. I only realized when I knit it a second time (only the bottom half this time) that it was an Elizabeth Zimmermann percentage sweater down to every last digit. The pattern doesn't reference Zimmermann at all which I think is really inappropriate. Now I'm knitting it again in yarn I bought three years ago with a sweater like this in mind. At that time I didn't know about seamless bottom-up construction or steeks.

After all the trauma of getting this sweater started it has been smooth sailing. The body is complete to the armpits. One sleeve knit up in just a few days. The second sleeve was started last night. I'm teaching a class on EZ's percentage system at the shop. I need to have the body and sleeves ready to demonstrate how to join it all up. I was worried about being ready in time but now I see I'll have the sleeves done in a day or two and I'll have to then put it all aside and wait. I could knit a closet full of these sweaters. I'm sure I will eventually. There's still yarn in the stash earmarked for it.

February 8, 2007

Thursdays are for What the Hell is This?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the world's least appetizing tea cozy.

Possibly related to the carnivorous poncho. Or the origins of penicillin. And it appears to be multiplying!

February 6, 2007

More Harry Potter Excitement

Not only can you pre-order the seventh and final book in the series but you can also pre-order Charmed Knits by Alison! Even Wes was curious to know what will be in her book. Congratulations Alison.

Weldon's Practical Needlework

Ever since Knitting Vintage Socks came out I've been curious to look at Weldon's. The many volumes were published over several decades in London at the turn of the century. They feature crochet, knitting and other types of needlework. On a whim I ordered Volume 12. It features "knitting, drawn thread work, crochet waistcoats, smocking, crochet, mountmellick work, knitted waistcoats, knitted stockings for cycling, golf, shooting, etc." This volume happens to have more crochet than knitting but it's still completely fascinating. The Pirate Cap in Point Neige bears the explanation, "A pirate cap worked in point neige, or five stitch, is pretty headgear for a young child, and is just now extremely fashionable." At first I chuckled given how pirates are all the rage yet again. Weldon's, however, goes on to explain, "in shape it much resembles a jellybag." Hmm.

The book contains many knitted patterns for items like corset covers, men's wool "bathing drawers," chest protector ("for those who have constitutionally delicate lungs, or who are recovering from an attack of pleurisy or pneumonia") and lady's knickers. The description that had me just gasping for breath last night was for a "mail cart strap." I still don't know what it does but the description begins, "This strap would make an acceptable little gift for the mother of sundry small children who are young enough to run some risk of falling out of the mail cart when taken our for their daily airing."

February 5, 2007

Super What?

Why does plying take so much longer than you think it will? I finished spinning this green wool/mohair roving, that I bought from Dawn's Custom Carding at Black Sheep, on Saturday. Then spent hours and hours plying. It's only 275 yards of very tightly spun 2-ply yarn. It's a heavy fingering weight destined to become socks.

When I finished this up I pulled out my new wool combs and tried them out on a bit of Cotswold lamb and some of my Targhee from Oregon Flock and Fiber. I ended up with a lot of waste on the Cotswold. I did better with the Targhee. I even spun up a tiny sample of super-fine lace-weight. The fleece is still a bit greasy. I washed it twice and thought I had it pretty nicely clean. Guess I was mistaken.

So no football or parties for me yesterday. Just wool and spinning.

February 4, 2007

What Watching The Lord of the Rings with an 8 Year Old Sounds Like

"Who's that?"
"Who are they?"
"What happened?"
"Where is that?"
"What did he say?"
"Who's that?"
"Is that bad guy?"
"What happened?"
"What did he say?"
"That can't happen in real life, can it?"
"What happened?"

We are only 20 minutes into the extended version of Fellowship of the Ring.

Get Your Winter Squeeeeee!

The January Pincushion Challenge Gallery is up on Flickr. Again with the incredibly, darling, stinking cuteness. Great job everyone!

More IK Preview

There are now "bonus photos" online. I can now see that I don't want these nupps on my, er, nupps and that this fair isle looks pretty good. Kate Gilbert's sweater looks beautifully constructed but I won't be going anywhere near it unless I have some sort of major surgical renovation. Have a look for yourself.

More on Madrona

This sheet of paper shows what we did in the morning session of Jill Laski's fiber blending class. We focused on color. As you may or may not be able to see in the photo there is a sample of a four-color monochromatic, analogous, complimentary and split complimentary blend as well as a multi blend (one color from all twelve spokes of the color wheel). Each sample was run through the carder once then twice, keeping a sample of each. I also spun up a tiny sample of each one. This was a great explanation of basic color theory for me. I pushed myself to pick colors I don't like to see if I could find ways to use them in blends that were appealing. So far no luck with that.

These are the samples from Color Progression in Plying. We were instructed to pick a three colors of combed merino top. Judith encouraged us to use at least one color we were a little scared of. I started with the taupe-sage, then added chocolate brown and finally picked the scary bright green. We spun it all as singles. Then we did a color progression in a 3-ply yarn. Three plies of the first color, then two of the first color with one of the second, etc. In this case the color I liked the most as a single, the taupe-sage, was horrid in the blends. The other colors just made it look dead. Judith suggested I go back and pick new colors to go with it until I find the ones that make it "sing." I selected colors but didn't have enough time in class to spin and ply it all. This class also reaffirmed my belief that 3-ply yarn rule. They look so round and relatively perfect compared to a 2-ply. Mental note: Make more 3-ply yarns.

My last class was Three Wild Downs. We learned lots about buffalo, yak and cashmere. We got many samples. The card shows (counterclockwise from the top right) 30/70 cashmere/merino blend, buffalo, black yak, grey yak, depigmented yak, a second depigmented yak, cashmere, baby Mongolian camel, a second cashmere and a third cashmere from China which was the highest quality of them all. Now can someone explain to me why I've been too scared to spin this, this or this but when Judith just hands me $30 of fiber I spun it up and didn't worry about the results?

All of my friends have been warned at this point that all of my sentences will start with the phrase, "Judith says..." for at least a few more weeks.

February 3, 2007

Out of the Dye Pot

(I finally was able to upgrade to the new Blogger. Hope it doesn't suck.)

As I stepped out on to the porch to get some photos in natural light it started to rain so the lighting changed quite a bit from my first photo to my last.

First up are the dyeing disaster skeins. They've gone from pukey peach to screaming orangey-pink. Not really all that great of an improvement. They are also seriously underplied. I need to run them back through the wheel for a little more twist.

My friend Jill gave me a partial skein of Rowan Polar on Thursday night. It was a yellowy lentil green.

Now it's a vivid jungle green.

This is one of my class skeins. The colors were kind of weak. I juiced them up a bit and also added some black for low-lights. It doesn't look as much like the Polar skein in real life. The Polar is very vivid while this skein is more mellow.

This skein was also done in class. I had finished dyeing all my skeins and was just chatting with a friend while she was finishing up. We had a big bucket where we dumped all our brush rinse water and odds and ends of dye. The bucket usually was filled with brown, sludgy water. When I peered into the bucket on her table it was the most gorgeous rich mauve. My favorite color. I got a skein of yarn and put it in a baggie. Then I dumped in all the garbage water. I squished it around and dumped out the excess. Since the dye was very watered down I added a little more magenta and cyan. The resulting skein was very pretty but pale. I put it in the dye pot yesterday and poured mauve and maroon dyes over it. After it came out of the dyepot I laid it out on plastic wrap and drizzled some magenta highlights over it. I'm very happy with the results.

The best lessons I've learned so far are use a lot more dye than I think I need and that I can't get complex colors in one pass. I need to dye, hand paint, overdye and keep working a skein until I get a color I like. There are a few other skeins left that still need to be tweaked until they are acceptable.

February 2, 2007

Dye Pot and Tea Pot

Realizing this morning that I had a whole day with nothing planned I decided I would work on over-dyeing some of my skeins from Madrona and the dyeing disappointment from a few months ago.

Skeins before dyeing

I got one pot of dye simmering on the stove, a lot of yarn soaking, a big plastic bowl to use in the microwave. So far the results, as always, are "eh." Wes took my camera today so I can't show you anything yet. I did realize that I've been pretty tentative about how much dye I use. I've been afraid of getting too dark of a color which is silly because my usual complaint with my finished skeins is that they're too pale. Pour, Jess, pour.

Now that everything is steeping in dye I unpacked my new IngenuiTea pot. I've been looking at this little guy at Adagio Tea for probably two years. I kept hoping I'd find it locally but never did. Then I went to the Adagio site a few days ago and found a sale for the pot, 4 tea samples and a book for $19 with free shipping (don't know if that is still available). Sold! I ordered it Wednesday and checked the delivery tracking this morning only to find that the tea pot had already been delivered. It was sitting on my porch. Cool. I boiled some water and made myself a little pot of Yunnan. The only drawback I've seen with the system is that if you make more tea than can fit in your cup it's hard to see when the cup is full. I managed not to overflow but I came very close. They also let me send friends $5 gift certificates for free. If you want one, just leave a comment (with your first and last name) and I'll send one to you. Or you can email me (address at top right in sidebar).

Edited to add: Yikes! There seem to be some security issues on the Adagio site. I'll stop sending out gift certificates until I hear back from them. Thanks.

Edited again to add: Adagio just contacted me and said they have resolved the problem. Happy tea drinking.

Fridays are for Cruelty to Animals

These must be some very bad puppies. Why else would someone do this to them?

Previous animal cruelty here and here.