Monthly Archives: October 2007

Happy Halloween!

Despite our usual last-minutosity, Halloween Happened tonight.

A dad with a young trick-or-treater asked us how we kept the squirrels from eating our pumpkins. Well, that would be — by carving them an hour ago. . . .

I cheated and just drew: boo-pumpkin.jpg

But the rest of the family had fun with them:

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Then when I went to get the candy from where I had hidden it (mostly from my husband) in the garage, I found that someone else had been enjoying it:

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Based on the evidence, I would say that there is a mouse in the garage, who prefers Snickers and Twix, disdains M&Ms, and probably has developed diabetes by now.

It was a gorgeous, if appropriately chilly day.

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This is not my house.

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Below, however, is the front hallway of my house, with some crazy lady with a camera in there too:

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And our front porch with a dark princess:

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Here the Gothlet is, as a Goth Princess (her words, not mine), in the light, with two other blond Goth friends (she’s in the middle):

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and in full regalia later on:

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The cat got into his bag costume.

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My other daughter?

You mean Preteen Paris? (Her idea!)

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Mmm, hot cider. . . . scary undead Goth princess likes it.
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It’s better to be lucky. . .

. . . than good, so the saying goes.

I was lucky #1000 at The Tsarina of Tsock’s blog (1000th comment, that is).

Today, straight from her talented hands and fertile imagination, I received happy prizes!

Look at this:

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A circular needle keeper, to keep the stitches on your needles and your needles from puncturing the bag (or other people, I suppose!). Most ingenious. Here it is in close-up:

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The circs slip inside and the cork goes on over the cables. And the corks are jeweled:

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Pretty and practical; what more could one ask for?

Just as pretty are these:

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My very own Vintage grape leaf earrings! Here hanging out with their distant cousin the Japanese maple. (Botanically, no doubt that is incorrect five ways from Sunday, but the shapes are evocative, don’t you agree?)

But they ultimately felt most comfortable with the Autumnal Shawl, being autumnal together.

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Doesn’t that just make you smile?

It does me! Thanks, Lisa! I am thinking I will have to wear these during the upcoming total knitting immersion weekend.

(And my cat was MOST intrigued by the shipping envelope; obviously it carried marvelous hints of interesting felines. Such a bonus. Citrus also thanks you.)

Gordian Knot Undone

I have been making inroads on my autumnal lace pancake (aka Wedding Pi Shawl), and the predictable consequences were that tonight I had to deal with the internal workings of this:

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A barfglob, as Wendy put it some time ago.

As I suspected, I had to adopt a semi-Alexandrine technique to undo the Gordian knot (no sword, however, just a firm pull) and break the yarn in two places to facilitate untanglage.

What was rather amusing was that, after 20 – 30 minutes of serious untangling, I ended up with this:

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The two places I broke the yarn, at seemingly opposite ends of the barfglob, ended up being a yard and a half apart.

A little splice action, and I’m knitting away again!

A view of the Mississippi River while running errands this afternoon; this is a couple miles from my house, looking downriver while crossing the sloughs (backwaters).

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Saturday Sky in Madison

Yesterday morning dawned cloudy, cold and windy on the outskirts of Madison:

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But it cleared up into a gorgeous day.

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We could see this rather disturbing sight from our hotel.

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“Lasting Skin Solutions”; and on the lower right, a drive-through (which is open!). Drive-through skin resurfacing?

(Actually, this office building shared space with a bank. But it did look a little odd.)

The Preteen sang beautifully, along with many other middle schoolers.

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Listening to these singers, as well as the Honors Orchestra and Band that also played, it was hard to remember they were middle schoolers. They were wonderful.

After a celebratory dinner, we had a lovely drive home.

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There may have been some yarn and knitting books in the back of the car. Friday, we went here:

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The Sow’s Ear — a truly great coffeehouse and yarn store in Verona, on the west side of Madison. Too bad I missed Knit Night, held twice monthly. But I tried to solace myself with yarn….

And chocolate.

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Isn’t that the prettiest fondue you’ve about ever seen?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of chocolate, sadly, Beth of the Chocolate Sheep and I could not get together for our tentative rendezvous. A combination of residual virus and consequent oversleeping on my part, and family obligations on her part, prevented it. But we had a nice chat on the phone! Next time. . . .

I did meet up with another blogger this weekend though. Teri and I got together to admire each other’s shawls and compare progress and shawl notes. I only had to go a mile to the coffee shop downtown to rendezvous with her, though! (Teri had to come considerably further, though she does it every weekday also from where she lives in Minnesota.)

Shawl? Well, it’s a very nice lace bag right now. I just increased to 600 stitches. Now progress will be glacially slow.

Here’s a close-up, though, looking autumnal (what else?) in the evening light.

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Eye Candy Friday, and Out The Door

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Do you see the leaf, mid-fall?

Yes, it’s October!

I’m out the door early this morning in a good cause; The Preteen is singing in the Wisconsin Middle School Honors Choir, with rehearsals today and the concert tomorrow in the Madison area.

Warning: a little parental pride coming up!

When The Preteen was recommended to audition last spring at age 11, which involved sight-reading an unfamiliar piece as well as vocalizing, etc., and then when she was chosen for the group, of course I thought it was great. But then this fall, when she mentioned that she was the only one in her choir chosen, and when I was scouting the website for other info and found out that she was one of about 27 altos in the whole state of Wisconsin picked, from about 250 altos auditioning, those being hand-selected by their music teachers to audition — well! Pretty impressive!

And then when the music came in the mail, I was even more impressed; this is high school to college level music, including Mozart and Handel pieces. I was glad I sing, sight-read, and pronounce Latin well enough to help her learn these; if kids’ parents weren’t necessarily good sight-readers/vocalists, it would be a challenge (though their music teachers were supposed to help too, and hers did rehearse with her). So I’m very proud of her, and expect a great concert. There is also a Middle School Honors Band and Orchestra, playing at the same concert, and a friend’s son is in one of those.

SO — we drop her off a little later this morning, and then we don’t see her again until the concert! The kids all stay at the same hotel, have fun activities together, room together with young people from other areas of the state, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Since I made the executive decision not to drive to Madison, drive back tonight, and drive there again the next day, I got a hotel room for my husband and I nearby for tonight.

That means — a day plus a bit in Madison with no real commitments until the concert!

I have plans to abandon that beloved guy who’s driving, to his own devices for a while, and visit Beth, out beyond Madison. And a trip to The Sow’s Ear is hopefully in the plans. (Don’t have to abandon him for that; he drinks coffee, anyway!)

So I’ll check back in Sunday, I expect. Look for some current photos of Beth’s projects!

😉

More gratuitous eye candy to tide you over:

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Road to Ewetopia

We pause in the ongoing chronicles of the Wedding Pi Shawl, to bring you this account of a recent road trip to a new(ish) Southwestern Wisconsin LYS.

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Ewetopia is a yarn and roving shop in Viroqua, Wisconsin, about a 45-minute drive from where I live. My friend Lee and I had been itching to check it out since it opened earlier this year, but with family and work, it’s hard to find the time for a road trip. Especially when both of us work a lot of weekends.

The shop is open later on Mondays, and I thought I could get done with work a bit early (NOT, as it turned out!), but in any case, we eventually headed out in Lee’s car, accompanied by her small knitting (and weaving) daughter.

The roadside was beautiful, even though it was cloudy:

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Lee drove (thanks, Lee!) so I got to point my camera out the window as we rolled along. When I wasn’t finishing Fetching.
This is Coulee Country! Coulees are small valleys tucked in between bluffs, which are the remnants of both ancient mountains and ancient seabeds, depending on where exactly you are. Coulee comes from the French word ‘coulée’, from ‘couler’, to flow. (I’m thinking named from the small streams often flowing at the base of the valley. The coulees were carved out by glacial runoff from Up North, but I’m speculating that the French explorers didn’t know that.) The glaciers didn’t make it this far in the last Glacial Period, so the bluffs and coulees result in gently rolling, fertile land throughout the Coulee Region.

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So we got to Ewetopia as it was getting dark. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture of the storefront. But here it is inside:

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The yarn in the low case right in the center, as well as the skeined yarn in the foreground is all locally raised, handspun, and/or hand-dyed/hand-painted yarn. I really value supporting local fiber artists, so was delighted to see these. Of course, I had to put my money where my mouth was. . . you’ll see that later.

They have as much Cascade as I have ever seen in one place, I think:

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This isn’t even all of it.

The owner and her assistant were friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful without being obtrusive.

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Check out the “Our Founder” photograph above them! We kept them there a little late, I’m sorry to say; I got a work-related phone call as I was ready to have my purchases totaled up; and there may have been just a few things that needed to be totaled!

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Here are the highlights. First, some lovely local handspun:

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Then, this Skacel Merino Lace, which I have designs on for dyeing:

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Especially after seeing Astrid’s results with some blue-gray yarn, I’m curious to play with it. And this was $12.95 for 1350 yards; less than a penny a yard, such a deal for a whole shawl’s worth of fun! It’s a nice, soft, light merino which should be enjoyable to knit with.

Speaking of dyeing, this intriguing combination of brights and neutrals by the Great Adirondack Yarn Co. proved irresistible.

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I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it. Perhaps “My So-Called Scarf“, which breaks up color runs with its slipped and knit-together stitches. But it’s cool, regardless.

Then this Kid Seta by Madil, which is the same kind of yarn I used for the Pink Fuzzy Cardigan:

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One variegated blue and one solid blue; I’m planning to hold them together and knit a lace scarf.

Then the two purchases I’m most excited about:

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Tiny Chibis! I realize that’s redundant (apparently Chibi means “small in the sense of dwarfed” in Japanese) but I have trouble finding these smaller bent-tip yarn needles, whereas the Jumbo ones (think about that — “Jumbo Chibis”? “Jumbo Dwarfs”?) are much easier to find. It was the last set the store had. . . .

And this pièce de résistance, right after I said to one of my friends that I didn’t see a lot of sweaters in my near future (much like Grumperina), while the kids and I were all as busy as we are in our lives:

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The blue yarn is locally hand-dyed merino in a worsted weight. I loved the colors (china blues, light teals and purples) but thought it might be a bit busy solo. But I had this vision as I looked at it; as the second color in stranded colorwork, the shifting blues would be gorgeous! Set off by white or off-white, I thought (black would also work, but I think I had this Delft thing going on in my head).

So, a little scurrying around the store fondling yarn and comparing weights, and I came up with the Cascade Lana d’Oro, a marvelously soft worsted wool/alpaca blend, which is going to set the blue off beautifully.

So I’m picturing a Norwegian style sweater; probably a cardigan for more wear opportunities (plus it will be WARM with the alpaca, and I think a sweater would be too hot for usual indoor wear). Yoke, hem and sleeve edge patterning; I’m not sure if I might do a ljus pattern on the body (probably not, that will make it less drapey and even warmer to wear, and might be too much visually; on the other hand, that means miles of unrelieved stockinette. . . .). I’ll keep my eyes open for a pattern I like, but might design it myself.

I think this could be my first steeking experience. Yikes. Not until after the holidays, for certain. But this would be pleasant to work on in the depths of the January chill. The blues remind me of the blues of the sky and of the blue shadows on the snow in January. But without the subzero part.

Speaking of chill, we still have not had a hard frost, which is freaky, but it was close this morning at 33 degrees F. There was frost on the mom-car frost-on-the-minivan.jpg [which actually my husband drives]) . Anyway, here are the finished Fetchings to ward off the fall chill for The Preteen!

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Knit in RYC Soft Lux, pattern from Knitty.

Mods (of course there are modifications, I can’t stand to leave well enough alone!)

I decreased down to a K3 P1 rib for the body of the glove, as people seemed to be reporting this running big, and visually this made the ribbing the same width as the cable. I haven’t cared for the look of the picot bindoff as written , truly; it to my eye just ends up looking a little loose and sloppy . So I had decreased to K3 P1 ribbing again for the edge then cast off in purl. I could have done a sewn casting off too, but this was faster when you have an impatient Preteen waiting for them. Plus, I was just coming down with this virus as I cast off the second glove; managed to weave in the ends even though I was not very competent in any other way right then; but simple was good.

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Also, I did the afterthought/forethought thumb, but I’m not sure I like it for a glove. With the tighter hand-hugging fit of a glove vs. a mitten, and the fact that one is potentially doing tasks requiring manual dexterity (hence the actual need for the fingerless glove), I find this way of making a thumb rather binding across the thumb side of the palm in real life. So I think if I knit this again, I’d do a thumb gusset instead. I do always like this technique in and of itself, though; it’s knitting magic!

Here they are on the pleased recipient:

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(How do you tell when a Preteen is pleased? It can be difficult, but when she puts the gloves on immediately and wears them out the door even though it’s 20 degrees too warm for them — and even says “Thank you!” — that seems like a pretty good indication.)

Thanks for the good health wishes! I still sound like Marlene Dietrich, without the accent, and felt poorly enough to stay home from work yet again today. This is what I’ve been doing for the last two days:

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But my brain is a little less mushy today, so I got some lace knitting in and this post done — by doing a little at a time, and taking a break when I needed to. That’s how we need to take all of life, eh?

Like this little guy. A blade of grass at a time.

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And here — this bud’s for you.

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The Gordian Knot

Besides the “Cat P—” treatment, I have learned something else from my adventures with the Suri Lace yarn. I had read on the Mystery Stole 3 forum, that some yarns don’t take to center-pull balls well. I have had good luck with center-pull balls, even in laceweight, even slippery yarns (when confined in a yarn bra, anyway), but these lovely long Suri fibers and the beautiful halo that arose after washing and reskeining, result in the yarn inside the center-pull ball hanging on to itself for dear life. (Picture Red Rover* in a yarn version. ) The first three tangles I untangled with increasing difficulty. The fourth tangle — was not a pretty picture.

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I’m pretty good with knots, but there was no end to this one. There kept being 3 strands going from the knot to the inside of the ball, and I could never get it down to one even as I took more and more yarn out of the center of the ball. So I stuffed it back into the center of the ball to be dealt with later, and spit-spliced the yarn from the outside of the ball to my WIP, and now am happily knitting away.

In fact, yesterday I graduated from a snood to a hairnet. The Gothlet is ready to be a Cafeteria Lady for Halloween!

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(Or an Alien warrior, perhaps) alien-toy-downscaled.jpg

Yes, I’ll have to deal with the knot sometime, but if it does truly end up being a Gordian knot, I think I have plenty more yarn, at least, and won’t make the same mistake again! Sorry I doubted you, Mystery Stole 3 laceweight knitters!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am currently battling a nasty virus that ambushed me on the way back from a yarn shop Monday night (I guess my defenses were down….)   I promise an account of the visit to the new LYS soon! Plus an FO (or a pair), some local color and so much more. Sigh. I wish I had more energy (and less mucus). At least blogging doesn’t require me to talk (right now I sound like 50 years of whiskey in smoky bars).

In the meantime, here’s a flower picture to tide you over:

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*The wiki entry for Red Rover says this childhood playground game was popular “into the 1970s”. Guess that dates me. . . .

Peppermint to Autumn

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The Transformation of the Suri Alpaca Laceweight.

So I bought this yarn on eBay. . . .

Some stories that don’t end well, start this way. This is not one of those stories. Although it is not without its own drama.

Some Cherry Tree Hill Suri Lace mill ends were up for auction on eBay, about the time I was on a roll buying yarn on eBay (it can be addictive). Suri alpaca is the rarer form of alpaca, though becoming more common as this breed is increasingly being raised in the United States and elsewhere. Suri fiber is longer and more lustrous than the more common huacaya alpaca fiber. This particular Cherry Tree Hill yarn normally comes in 50g hanks, 440 yards for about $26. These mill ends were naturally less than full yardage, being mill ends, but respectable lengths, and totalled, if I remember correctly, about 7 oz (almost 200g!). They were, however, ‘potluck’ dyed in red and pink. Not perhaps the most alluring; therefore, I bought them for a relative song. I thought the colors might grow on me, or when I dared, I might try dyeing the yarn (I was a dyeing neophyte then).

Well, the colors did NOT grow on me. All I could see when I looked at the yarn was melted Peppermint. And I was not in the mood for Melted Peppermint Lace at that point. So, after some initial Kool-Aid dyeing successes, I dared to overdye the alpaca laceweight with fairly concentrated orange Kool-Aid. It turned out intense, but improved, to my way of thinking. Sorry, no picture, this was pre-blogging.

I put the red-orange yarn away, waiting for the right project. I did have my red-headed friend who loves orange in the back of my head. I did not love orange in the past, necessarily, but I really liked this deep orange interspersed with warm red. Is it that when you dye something, it’s kind of like your child and you can’t regard it objectively? Although I certainly am aware of those areas where my children may be less than perfect. And I would certainly hope if I dyed something truly fugly, I would be cognizant. I think so. But be that as it may, although the orange/red-orange thing may not be to all people’s tastes, or even always to mine, the yarn pleased me more than peppermint blotches.

When I found out about my friend’s engagement, I did think of this yarn immediately, as the suri is a special fiber and would be worthy of a wedding gift. But I also had started the Mystery Stole 3 in an off-white laceweight with pearly gold-centered beads, which would make a lovely wedding stole. And I didn’t know if she had a wrap already in mind/bought/on hand.

So first I asked if I could make her something of the sort for her November wedding.

Yes!

Then I asked if she wanted a stole — a narrower, more dressy wrap to go over her shoulders — or a larger shawl.

She would love a larger shawl, to cozily wrap up with in the future, so that it wasn’t a one-time only dressy sort of thing.

OK. White or off-white — or color?

In colors like the wedding colors — her favorite — would be awesome! Fall colors of orange/red/gold/brown.

I had already been plotting a Pi shawl in the recesses of my brain, so this clinched it — a large circular shawl in the Suri Lace, which I had plenty of, was destined to be. But as I thought about a wedding shawl, the colors seemed a little too brightly intense; and I didn’t trust the Kool-Aid not to fade or transfer.

So, now having dabbled in acid dyes, I decided to overdye the orange/red with a little subtle brown. I had Jacquard Acid Dye in Chestnut. I put what seemed like a small amount in my newly-designated dyeing kettle, along with lots of water and some vinegar, and plopped in the hanks.

Whoa! It started to turn significantly brown a little faster than I anticipated! It was in the dye bath all of about 60 seconds before I whipped that puppy out of there. It looked pretty good, maybe; hard to tell wet. Because it hadn’t had the simmering time to set, I microwaved the yarn a few times to heat set the yarn.

Then I rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. It kept bleeding color every rinse — hard to tell if it was red or orange (didn’t look chestnut). I microwaved a little more. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. I used up the brown dye bath on some KnitPicks Bare worsted, and filled the dye pot with clean water with vinegar and simmered for 30 min. And rinsed the yarn. And rinsed the yarn. Seriously, I must have rinsed 15 to 20 times. And every time, there was still red/?orange coming from the yarn. Was this Kool-Aid? Though typically, after microwaving, I had not had any color leakage. Was this the Cherry Tree Hill red, red being notoriously not colorfast? And — HORROR — those lovely long suri fibers were starting to mat together — the Yarn Was Starting to FELT!

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(There’s the drama. Okay, I know it’s not what some would think of as drama. But imagine if you have almost 2000 yards of the perfect yarn for your friend’s wedding shawl and it all felts and can never be truly recreated — I can tell you, my heart rate went up!)

So I stopped rinsing and pressing, let it cool and hung it up. And brooded. Did I take the chance that the yarn might not be colorfast? The rinse water was a lot less red by the 20th rinse. But on top of a white wedding dress; maybe a little bit of perspiration bridal glow after dancing; can you imagine if my shawl turned the wedding gown orange?? What to do??

Well, not long thereafter, I had a passing correspondence (about yarn I had ordered) with Jennifer of VanCalcar Acres. I knew she had been so kind as to help Astrid with a dyeing question. So I ventured (a little reluctantly, I hate to presume on people’s kindness and professional time) to ask if she would be willing to give me any advice. She was and she did!

Give the yarn a bath with ammonia added to the water to flush out the excess dye; repeat if necessary; then rinse gently followed by a short soak with vinegar to neutralize the residual ammonia. (What Jennifer refers to as the “Cat P—” part of the dyeing process.) She also suggested re-skeining the yarn to separate the fibers that were starting to think about felting.

Ooh, just doing that (and I wouldn’t have done that on my own, I don’t think), allowed me to see how lovely the yarn was looking. The process was slightly involved and intrigued the cat greatly; first, winding from the swift,

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to the ball winder,

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then back to the swift.

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Before re-skeining, again: yarn-after-kool-aid-dyeing.jpg close-up-preskeining.jpg

After re-skeining.

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This is pre-ammonia, so a little redder than it turned out in the end.

Now the ammonia bath. Look at all this color coming out!

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I did need to repeat the ammonia treatment, but eventually the rinse water was clear, Clear, CLEAR!

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Hooray! I’m not going to ruin the bride’s dress after all!

Now, I could finally get designing and then knitting. And, as I said yesterday, this yarn is heaven to work with. It’s subtly lustrous, almost as though it has silk blended in (now I realize that that’s the long, lustrous suri fiber); soft, and resilient. And the colors make me so happy; rich, deep, toned down a bit by the variegated Chestnut, and blending beautifully as they knit up.

Autumn on my lap.

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Nicely, Nicely

The title being a continuation of the movie musical theme which often finds its way into these virtual pages (Nicely Nicely Johnson is a character in Guys and Dolls — he’s the one who sings, “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”).

Today, however, no boat’s being rocked; the post is in recognition of Astrid nominating me for the Nice Matters Blog Award!

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Awarded to “those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. ”

Here’s the corollary: “Once you’ve been awarded, please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award.”

Not that I don’t know seven other bloggers who are deserving, but 7 is reminiscent of chain letters to me, so I will limit my nominees to those that spring immediately to mind. And they do not have to feel obliged to pass it on. I would have nominated Lisa, the Tsarina of Socks, and Beth at Chocolate Sheep, but Astrid and Lisa (respectively) beat me to them.

First, Lisa at knitnzu.com shares an interest in the natural world (especially of the Northern United States) and knitting with me, and is generous with information and thoughtful comments. Her blog has crazy funny dogs, glimpses of talented family members and life in Maine, and fun knitting.

Second, Sarah-Hope at whatifknits [“ideas, inquiries and irreverence”], a fellow Cotton Commando in the recent DishRag Tag, writes an articulate blog full of wonderful knitting, original designs, art, travel, and cats. I always enjoy reading her well-written and intriguing posts from the opposite side of the US from Lisa!

Bonnie at Très Bon Babble is an amazing sew-er and great knitter as well; some good food to be found in her pages here and there too! I am in awe of her ability to whip up a sewing project. (All I can think of is my Home Ec days; the only sewn project I’d still be willing to be associated with, is the initial pillows that spelled out my name….) She is also a fellow Cotton Commando (you become friends when you strategize together, not?) and a very Nice person. She sent me a cheer-up card recently, when I was feeling sorry for myself — it worked!

Another most Nice fellow Dish Rag Tagger (what can I say, we all bonded!) is Marcia Louise at AndSewKnitBegins, who just started a blog, inspired by Dish Rag Tag and (she says) my posting of her kool Kool-Aid dyeing projects, when she was blogless. She is an warm and awesome person, the epitome of Nice. Her blog is brand new and hampered by a recent crashed hard disk, but she definitely deserves the Nice Matters Award! She also sucked me into turned me on to the International Scarf Exchange 5! Which is really fun!

One last Dish Rag Tagger, who deserves the Nice Matters award, is Laurie at Knitting Garden, who had captaincy thrust upon her by random draw by Emily, and who gracefully rose to the unasked-for challenge with enthusiasm and positivity. She also independently knit the Mystery Stole 3, and signed up for the International Scarf Exchange 5 as did I, so we have much in common! (Except she’s finished her Mystery Stole and I haven’t…) Her blog is full of knitting and family, always enjoyable.

An enabler of the highest water, a sock artiste and a very friendly blogger is Deb of Cashmere Dreams (on a Kitchen Cotton Budget) — a blog title we all can relate to!  It is only because of her that I am the proud owner of some beautiful Wollenmeise.  Not only did she make the ordering happen, and let me in on it, but she tenderly hand-washed all the poor waterlogged yarn that had met with shipping disaster.  And she and fellow members of the Como Saturday morning knitting group made me feel so very welcome on our trip to the Twin Cities.  Now I’m coveting Kauni. . . . don’t tell my husband.

And lastly, I haven’t seen on her blog that she’s been nominated, so I am hereby awarding the Nice Matters Award to Wendy of WendyKnits, who is generous with free patterns and knitting advice, as well as breathtaking knitting, original patterns to beat the band, and beautiful Lucy the cat pictures. Like Steph, she’s also used her blogosphere name recognition to benefit a worthy cause and is unfailingly polite and — well, just Nice, a pleasure to read! The interactions I’ve had with Wendy have been always smile-inducing.

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Thanks, you guys! You’re great!

SOOOOO — I promised some current knitting, as opposed to yesterday’s featured knitting which was 15 years old!

I have been knitting a pair of Fetching fingerless mitts for The Preteen:

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The yarn is RYC Soft Lux yarn. I’m liking these, and more importantly, The Preteen is too. (She is in love with green currently, and she asked for a pair of “fingerless gloves with cables”. Hmmm; you don’t think she saw the pattern for Fetching which I had printed out and left lying around, do you?) I’m about 1/3 done with the second one.

Here’s my other work in progress (besides Oktoberfest, which is still awaiting full healing of my knuckle; the Irish knots are just under so much tension to do, that they make the little finger knuckle laceration feel quite unhappy).

Earlier this week, it was a tiny dreamcatcher:

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Yesterday, it was a snood:

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I would gladly wear the Harmony needles as hair jewelry, wouldn’t you?

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Today, here it is, an apparently tangled mess in lovely shades of autumn colors:

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I put a lifeline in right after taking this photo. . . .

So this will be a wedding shawl for a friend, who also is my pastor! The yarn is mill ends of Cherry Tree Hill Suri Alpaca lace weight, overdyed twice by me to get the effect I wanted. As I mentioned, I am designing the pattern based on Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Pi Shawl, with assorted lace patterns that I liked/fit the stitch and row requirements reasonably well, and that had some significance. This post is already rather long, so I will detail the dyeing adventures and the designing work at a future time. But this yarn is lovely to work with, lustrous, richly colored and soft. Which is good, because I anticipate working on this pretty intensively for the next several weeks. Why, yes, the wedding is three weeks away — how did you guess?

Since Astrid talked up my flower pictures, I’ll leave you with one:

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Some confused lavender which is re-blooming now. ‘Sokay!

UFO Saturday

Beware — they’ve landed!

See the flying saucer in the pre-dawn Saturday Sky picture?

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(Okay, okay, it’s really Venus in its incarnation as the Morning Star!)

And this post isn’t about that kind of UFOs, anyway.

First, Beth warned us she was going to be asking for our oldest Un-Finished Objects.

Then Sandi at Knitting Daily jumped on the bandwagon with a poll as to how many UFOs one had.

I said 13, but like Beth, I now realize that I missed a few. I’m not going to go into as much detail as Beth, but here’s a quick rundown of the ones I can think of, right off the bat. Many of the more recent UFOs were things I cast on to try out a technique or an idea; I was planning to finish them, but then something more seductive or time-sensitive pushed them out of the way.

The first three are really WIPs, since they’re being actively worked on:

1. A wedding shawl in Suri Alpaca laceweight; more details tomorrow.
2. The Oktoberfest socks.
3. Fetching fingerless mitts for The Preteen.

Now for the true UFOs:

4. One Jaywalker, almost done, in red and black yarn from Oldfield Creek Sock Yarn.

5. Two sock toes in Austermann Step, for toe-up socks two at a time.

6. One sock toe in Yarn Pirate BFL in “Calamity Jane” for a toe-up sock.

7. One knitted uterus, with cervix and lower uterine segment done. (Don’t ask. The scary thing is that this is my second knitted uterus…)

8. A baby blanket in the Ball Band dishcloth pattern, done just to try out the pattern in that idiom and use up stash yarn.

9. A bulky sweater in Fingerpaint (by Plymouth, I think).

10. One Aspen hat (from Twinkle’s Big City Knits) in another colorway of Fingerpaint (I just frogged the Aspen hat made of Bombolo; just too big; or that would have been another one).

11. The Tuxedo sweater from Twinkle in Rowan Big Wool, I think.

12. A chenille scarf in some burgundy yarn from Noro.

13. A small purse from recycled sari silk.

14. A small project to see if Mystical Creation Yarn’s wool/silk yarn will felt.

15. Cabled Mitts by Petra; I’ve knit one and a half, but have misplaced the second skein of yarn I need.

16. One fingerless mitt I used to work out my Mini-Mitts free fingerless mitt pattern. Needs a mate.

17. Three Saartje’s booties, none of which are exactly the same size.

18. A poncho in burgundy Wool-Ease that I used to work out a pattern I was designing for a friend.

19. A ribbed pink (tipped with white) tunic sweater, started for The Preteen when she was about 2 (she’s 12 now). So ten years old. Acrylic never goes out of style, does it? And the moths and carpet beetles don’t care about it. It’s finished up to the armholes, almost, which is a lot of ribbing in baby-weight yarn. Probably has something to do with why it was never finished. Not to mention her baby sister being born and The Preteen deciding she didn’t like pink any more. But that’s not my oldest UFO!

Here it is, UFO at-least-number-20:

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My first and, at this point, also last Aran sweater.

This is so old that I completely forgot I started it. I ran across it in a box (which apparently had never gotten unpacked when we moved here in 1994) at the back of a closet maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I thought — did I make this? Did I make this? My husband, who does not usually register knitting, reminded me that I had been working on it in the car as we took a driving trip in fall around Western Michigan, a few months after we were married in May of 1992 (so still in that honeymoon phase, it was a wonderful trip).

Then, when I looked closer, I saw this part and it all came back to me.

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See how the seed stitch part widens at the top? That’s when I figured out that — for some reason — even though I did make a swatch (I think!) — my gauge was significantly smaller than the pattern called for, and the sweater wasn’t going to have enough ease. I couldn’t face ripping all of my hard work out. So I just decided to add a few stitches. Ha! Yes, if my torso were shaped like a beach ball and I had no hips, maybe it would fit! It’s no wonder I shoved it in a box and tried to purge it from my memory. The pattern was written traditionally, in the flat, and it was my bright idea to adapt the pattern to knit it in the round. Now, being older and wiser, I know that my stitch gauge is noticeably tighter in the round, as with many continental knitters (there is less yarn manipulation to complete a knit stitch, so tends to be a bit tighter, and of course in the round, most stitches are knit stitches). You know, except for that, it’s not too bad, considering I had never done any significant cabling before.

How old? I don’t know exactly when I started it, (probably earlier in 1992) but I know I was knitting it in September 1992, 15 years and one month ago.

Its destiny? Not to be finished. The pattern was not with it, and I don’t recall where the pattern was from. And the carpet beetle larvae have been at it, so there are thin spots (I also have a partial sleeve to go with this, which I remember I was knitting on the go, which had seriously suffered from carpet beetle munching). I think I’ll try making it into a pillow. My thought is to go ahead and knit another couple inches of twisted rib on the top to make it sort of square, then try felting it (it’s tightly knit, so it won’t felt maximally, but I don’t want maximum feltage anyway since I’d like some detail remaining). I can sew/trim the extra seed stitch before or after felting (if it DOES felt) so that it’s not lopsided. We’ll see. Definitely low on my list of priorities, though it wouldn’t be hard to do. I may throw the sleeve in with a white load one of these days just to see what it does, as a test run.

So there’s my UFO story.

*Edited to add:  I totally forgot about Mystery Stole 3 black fingering weight version and cream laceweight version!  And I found a single Mrs. Beeton-style ruffled cuff in my workbasket.  Oh, yeah, I remember that now.  And . . . umm . . . I think we’ll stop at that.

Here’s the Saturday Sky after the aliens left this morning, still before dawn (I had to work):

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And again this afternoon on a gorgeous fall day:

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*******Tomorrow — current knitting! Really!*******

Wait! Ooh, ooh! Here’s a photo from about four minutes ago, when I opened the door for my returning Nutcracker rehearsal dancers:

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Last glimpse of Saturday Sky:

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