Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yarn Candy

My latest batches of hand-dyed 100% merino wool sock yarn. Each skein is enough for a pair of socks (same yarn that I used for the Classy Slip-Up Socks.)

Red-Hot Pink
Cocoa Pink

Sandalwood Spice
(This is the skein that I couldn't name a couple days ago. It's amazing what re-skeining the yarn will do to the color mix.)

Gratuitious plug: all available on ebay under Junebug514

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This just cast on...

I know, I know! I wasn't going to cast on another project, but this is different. This is the latest a prayer shawl that I'm knitting for my Prayer Shawl Ministry at church. We meet each Wednesday night for dinner and then we knit. Some knit shawls, others knit preemie hats, and some just hang out with us. It's a great group! I've been out of touch with them since the holidays and it was great to get back in swing of things tonight. I didn't realize how much I missed them until I came back. Does that make sense?
I only work on the shawls on Wednesdays, so it's a bit of a slow go. This is my 4th, and I've only got about 5 inches done. The colors didn't turn out so good in the photo. It's Lion Brand Homespun in Windsor. Blues, greens and violets. I'll add more photos when I get better light.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Recycle It!

Oh man! I scored a moth-damaged tan cashmere cardigan (with 10 mother of pearl buttons) at Goodwill for 2 bucks. Demented? I think not!

Recycling sweaters is something I've just started exploring. Just think of all that yarn for a couple bucks. Ok, you have to dig through a lot of acrylic, nylon, orlon crap to get to the goods, but it's worth it when you can score cashmere. Also be sure to check the labels. I read them for the amusement factor. I came across one that read "100% Virgin Acrylic". I'm not kidding. I almost bought the darn thing because I got such a kick out of the label. Dare I ask what would be considered non-virgin acrylic?

So, how does one recycle a commercially knit sweater? Lots of patience and follow this advice:

  1. Remove the tags. If the tag is racked on the back of the sweater, be very careful to only snip the thread holding the tag in place. You don't want to cut the yarn around the tag. Keep the tags with the yarn so you remember the content later on. You will forget. I know this to be true.
  2. Remove buttons, zippers, etc. A lot of the vintage cardigans have awesome mother of pearl buttons. Save these because you can never have too many buttons. I know this to be true.
  3. Locate the last place the sweater was sewn up, usually around the neck. A seam-ripper, reading glasses and strong light work best for finding the seam. If you're lucky, you can find the right seam thread, give a slight tug and the whole seam will ravel like a crochet chain stitch.
  4. Work slowly!
  5. As I rip I wind onto a niddy-noddy, but you can wind into a loose ball as you go. Whatever you do, don't let it all sit in your lap like a huge pile of ramen noodles or you will end up with an insane tangle. You'll need to skein the yarn at some point, so the niddy noddy makes sense...or the back of a chair, etc. I'm not the proud owner of a swift...yet.
  6. When all the yarn is in skeins, it will look like crap...all curly, unruly, etc. This is where the magic comes in. Soak the yarn in cool water for several hours, or until it's good and saturated. You may even want to use some wool soak to remove odors, dirt, and unpleasantness. Hang the skeins on a hanger and hang a damp towel through the bottom of the loop to give it some weight. The water and the weight will pull the curl right out of the yarn. It might take a couple days to dry, but it's worth it.
  7. You can now wind into balls or twist into skeins. Remember to do a yardage count (let's say you have a skein that's 2 feet long end-to-end, count each strand of yarn, multiply by 4 because each "round" is 4 feet long and then divide by 3...voila!)
The cashmere I'm frogging is very delicate and I've actually broken it by tugging on it. I also had to face the fact that the front panel with the button holes is a complete loss. Mainly because of the button holes, but also because that's the side that endured moth damage. I plan to respin this yarn, which will cut my yardage in half, but it's just to thin to use as is.

There are other uses for discarded wool sweaters...think FELT! Just remember to put the sweater in a zippered pillowcase before throwing it in the washing machine. Also, since these sweaters are knit to a finer gauge than what you or I would knit for felting, it might take a cycle or two to get a good felt.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Zack's Afghan - The Home Stretch

I pulled Zack's afghan out of the WIP pile yesterday. I cast this project on back in April...of 2006. I will finish it before April 2008! If I can just keep from casting on a pair of socks and cardigan and hat...oh my!

Once I'm done with the afghan, I'll post the pattern on Ravelry (someone has it tagged as a favorite!!) It's really pretty simple, lots of knitting and about 15% purling. There's neat trick to weaving in the ends as you knit so very little finishing at the end. I still need to work out how I'm going to finish the edges. A lot depends on how much yarn is left over. I really hope I have my yarn quantities correct. I'm getting down to the wire and have that sick panicky feeling....the feeling when you see the end of the skein but not the end of the project. I feel faint, I may throw up.

Here's how I calculated my yarn yardage. I'm writing all this down so maybe someone will reassure me. Really, I am feeling quite sick. I have 3 colors: red, blue and tan (Zack picked them out.) I knit one domino square, blocked it, measured the dimensions, and then frogged it. I measured the amount of yarn in that block, being very careful not to stretch it too much. I had to do some mathy stuff, which is totally suspect. Math sucks and should not be required for knitting. I'm a product of the early 70's public school education system's horribly failed "new math" experiment. I can't add 7 plus 8 without using my fingers and toes!

I wrote all my calculations down somewhere, but for the life of me can't find them. They are probably on the back of something long thrown in the recycle bin. Zack and I charted the afghan on a piece of graph paper and colored in the squares so I would know what color to knit when. I counted how many solid blue, red, and tan and how many partials. Then I multiplied the yardage by how many squares. For the squares where there are two colors, I just divided the yardage in half for each color. Now I'm just crossing my fingers and toes and hope that my sucky math skills didn't fail me. Luckily, it's a fairly common yarn (Plymouth Encore), so if I need to order more (, it shouldn't be too difficult. I'll keep telling myself that.

There's a trick to using yarn that's not the same dye lot. I've learned from experience. You knit two rows with one ball and two with the other. I've only had to do it once...on sleeves...on a mohair sweater. Ok, can you say pain in the a$$? I use dollar signs because not only was it a$$-pain, it was expensive. The sweater was knit in a beautiful gray Rowan mohair-ish yarn. I bought what I thought was enough. Nope. I was about 2 balls short. It had to do with weight v. yardage...something I'm still not sure I agree with completely. But there I was, half way done with a sleeve (lots of cable work) and the end of the last ball was quickly approaching. Called the yarn shop, nope, DISCONTINUED! Gasp!!!! What to do??!!?? Ebay. Nope. I lurked on Ebay for weeks, no luck. So I called Rowan somewhere in the UK. They had 3 balls left. I quickly gave them my credit card number, they charged an INSANE amount to it (I didn't think the P v. $ was so much) and shipped the yarn. It arrived in about 2 weeks and HORROR the dye lot was very different. Thank God, the sweater was mohair so the "hair" blended with the "mo" and once I frogged the half-knit sleeve and knit both sleeves 2x2, everything is nice and matchy. But here's the real kick in the butt...I live in middle Tennessee. Mohair? What the heck was I thinking?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How to make a guy blush

The guy I'm referring to would be the "Man"! Love it!

Name that color

I always though that naming yarn colorways would be a cool job until I dyed this skein. I can't seem to come up with anything descriptive yet catchy. The skein contains taupe, tan, chestnut, lavender and a touch of faded salmon. It's a great colorway but I haven't the foggiest idea as to what it should be called.

I dyed another batch this evening. I'll have it posted as soon as it's dry. It's a wonderful vibrant pink, deep red and vermillion. Just in time for Valentine's Day.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

No Shake For You

It's been almost 6 months to the day since my last craving for a McDonald's chocolate shake. This doesn't happen very often and I'm not a regular patron of the golden arches. However, when I crave a chocolate shake, that's what I want. I'm fighting off a sore throat today and icy chocolately slurpiness just sounded good. (A Wendy's frosty won't do...can't slurp it through a straw.)

The shake machine is out of order. Has it ever been IN order?

They still suck.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Art Gallery

Our new friends at YarnAlong in Henderson, KY graced us with some of their awesome artwork!

Green and Purple Erasure by Noah

Winter Flowers by Bethany

I hope to post more when I can get to a scanner. How great are these?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Yarn Snob? Who Me?

According to GoodnessGracious in WV, it would seem that my mother has been spreading my blog around and is name calling. She called me a "yarn snob". Well, I resemble that remark...sort of! Truth be told, I'm not all that snobbish when it comes to yarn. I will knit with anything (except dog hair)...wire, strips of old t-shirts, hemp cord, thread, and yes, even squeaky acrylic. So, maybe I'm not so much a "yarn snob" but a "yarn junkie".

Now my mom should not be name-calling with such abandon. One should ask her about her quilting fabric stash...

It takes one to know one!
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

I kill me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just a quicky blog....

Everyone sing along...
Hippo birdie, two ewes!
Hippo birdie, two ewes!
Hippo birdie, dear Karen (as in my sister who is now OVER 40)
Hippo birdie, two ewes!
Karen, check you mail box later this got a cool package coming your way! (I can say that because she NEVER reads my blog...yet she calls at all hours to ask for help with knitting patterns...hmm...)

So, we returned home safely after our road trip to Henderson, KY for the SpinAlong. Much success!! It was loads of fun! Even Randy had a good time sitting in the middle of a yarn shop with a bunch of knitters, spinners and kids. The kids drew some awesome pictures for us that I'll post as soon as I can get to a scanner.

I bought a pound of Cleopatra's roving...yum! She's a black shetland with exotic silver soft! I also picked up a cool hank of yarn for my sister. I put it in the mail already and I don't remember what it's called, but I stashed it on my Ravelry page. It's drop dead killer cool! I'm still going to consider it my stash even though it will be at my sister's, 900 miles away. Is that wrong?

After I had my fiber fill...(ok that's funny)...we hit the casino. Much to our amazement we actually took their money. That doesn't happen very often, and it pretty much paid for the trip. I should have bought more yarn/fiber! Dang those missed opportunities!

We got home, we made our famous shrimp scampi, ate like pigs and chalked it all up to a really good weekend!

p.s. I am lame and forgot my camera, so no photos. The camera is AWOL once again. I'm hoping it's in Randy's trunk.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Plural--As in with an "S"

Just one more post about comments, that would be comments with an 's', as in PLURAL! Thanks James, for making me Plural! I no longer have one "comment", I have comments. Did I mention that's with an 's'?

Sophie...a dog's life. Sophie is not in any danger of being spun. I know there are some people out there who love their dogs so much they feel the need to spin with dog "shed". I've actually met some of those people. Ok, I'm going to say it...a Pomeranian purse is just weird. How bad is it going to smell if it's slung over your shoulder and you get caught in the rain? Gak!

I Navaho-plied some of Frankie Lee last night. Frankie Lee is a romney ram who lives in Kentucky. Well I think I Navaho-plied it...I've never done it before and looked up 'how to' on the internet. Either way, it is killer gorgeous!

Roadtrip Weekend!
Destination: YarnAlong in Henderson, KY

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My First Comment

I got a comment! OMG! Is this the coolest thing or what?

I know that there are bloggers out there who announce their bazillionth comment with much ado, but this is my first comment. I'll never have another first comment and I'm so excited! Starz*Above, you made my night!

My blogging has been extremely sparse lately because of the spinning wheel. I've been spinning so much that I'm getting a bit low on fleece, and I'm starting to eye the dog.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Coolest Gifts Ever!

Drum roll please!

This is the secret project that Zack and my dad worked on over Thanksgiving. The handle is walnut and the arms are cypress. It's really nice and light. Zack sanded it so much that it feels like glass. It makes a 2-foot skein, so it's perfect for my smaller amounts. I've used it a couple times already and it's completely awesome. Signed and everything!This is what Santa brought me....I kid you not!Is this too cool or what?I nearly died!This is the first skein of yarn spun from new wheel.
With all the preparations before Christmas (the wheel arrived on the 21st), I didn't have a chance to try it out until Christmas Eve. However, during all my cleaning, I would walk past the wheel and touch it every now and then just to make sure it was still there.

My first attempt at spinning with a wheel was a huge disaster! I couldn't get the it to work and had a huge roving mess on my hands. I had everything set up how I thought the manual depicted, but the yarn either broke or wouldn't wind on the bobbin. How could something so simple be so dang difficult? Finally, on Wednesday, I swallowed all my pride and called Laurie at YarnAlong, where Santa bought the wheel. (Located in Henderson, KY). She walked me through the tension issues and I was spinning like a spider within the hour.

My guys are so good to me. I'm one lucky fiber junky!