Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fastest Mail in the West!

Not 20 minutes after reading an email from Knittymama telling me that she mailed my package yesterday, the doorbell rang.  I was completely blown away to find that it was my mail carrier with . . .

        This baby traveled 1770 miles, in one day!

                    Mmm, it smells so good.

I feel so pampered now:

                                All the goodies.

                                    Mmmm, coffee.
                        (Check out the name of the blend!)

                        Yum! Chocolates.
The Lake Champlain and the Mini-Snappers are both new to me.

                This stuff is realllly good.

                    Isn't this lovely.
It's a marble (?) trivet/coaster.  It's just the right size for my espresso maker, too.

                    I love these colors.
Lucy Neatby Celestial Blue Faced DK.  Mine, all mine.  Aaaah.
I've been eyeing this yarn for a while. 

I love it all.  Thanks so much, Knittymama!

I can hardly wait to try the coffee in the morning.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Coffee Shops and Mugs

Squeeeeze! That's the sound of this entry just sliding in under the wire for the KCS contest deadline.
I was going to post a pic of a local shop, too, but yesterday's didn't turn out well at all.  So, here goes:

This is Coffee in Motion.  It's key to keeping my sanity on my bi-weekly two-hour* drive taking Boy Wonder to his dad's.

Sorry about the blur on this one.  I haven't quite figured out the low light settings on my camera (it wasn't nearly as dark as it looks, either).

Yep.  It's a drive-up shop, in a double-decker bus.  Actually, I think they have tables and seating upstairs, but I always drive through.  Gotta get my caffeine before I hit the freeway.

A couple of my mugs.

                                    Most often used.
My trusty Nissan Stainless travel mug.  Note the all important rubber grip.  Yeah, I've been known to need that sort of thing.  On the right, a mug from our wedding dishes.  I love these.  They were a big factor in picking the set.  They're just the right thickness at the brim.  A funny note about these: I've seen them on two different TV shows (Judging Amy, final season.  Can't remember the other show, but they were the brown version.).

        Yes, I love them enough to post two pictures.

                                      Espresso cups
I have a set of 4 of these.  My mom and I found these in a coffee shop, about 8 years ago.  I think it was a Coffee People, maybe Seattle's Best (before Starbucks bought them and whored 'em out to McD's, they were a pretty nice chain).  They are great when I'm in the mood for black espresso, or for splitting a little pot.  I used them everyday, until getting the blue ones.  Now I mostly use these on holidays, when my mom's here, or for serving my hot Holiday Nog.

*It's two hours, each way, IF hell freezes over, pigs fly, and I can keep the baby happy for all that time.  He's old enough now to not instantly fall asleep, and too young for most travel entertainment.  Lately it's been taking between 5 and 6 hours, from leaving home, to getting back home.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Superwash Dyeing Adventures

I dyed the superwash merino from Woodland Woolworks last week.
This was quite the adventure. I've dyed superwash wool once before, and learned that the dye strikes faster, and that much more dye is needed, but I had no idea how much more for this roving. I used Kool-Aid, in various reds, using the cold pour method. I unwrapped and recoiled the roving into two twists, about 4 oz each.

Unwrapped and Coiled Soaked and Ready
I covered my kitchen table in newspaper and plastic wrap. I mixed up Black Cherry, Berry Cherry, Orange/Cherry, Berry Blue/Cherry/Neon McCormicks Purple, Strawberry. The food dye cup got a little extra vinegar.
I was going for a progression of reds, from the orange end to the purple. I laid the wet roving out in long zigzags, poured the colors, flipped the whole thing over, and poured more. I was stunned at how fast the color took. Almost immediately, the extra liquid running off was clear, and there were a lot of white spots on the underside when I flipped it. After I was done, I wrapped the roving in two packages, and microwaved it. Two minutes, rest two minutes, repeat twice, until the packages were puffed up a little. I set the packages to cool overnight, and cleaned up (big mistake, I poured out the extra Kool-Aid).

Supplies and cooling roving.
Note the bottle of Baileys. I'm adding this to my list of needed supplies for late night dyeing.

The next morning, I unwrapped and inspected my job. Ack! What I thought were round lengths of roving were actually flat strips with the edges rolled in. Lots of white appeared.

This red, white and blue crap? Not the look I was going for.

Time to overdye. Since I had poured out the dye from the first round, I mixed more. I was running seriously low, and couln't get to the store to get more. So I decided to treat each half a little differently. The first batch I laid out and repeated the cold pour method. The rest of it I dyed in a hybrid immersion/hot pour technique. I mixed some Berry Cherry in a pot of cold water with a little extra red food dye and vinegar, added the roving, and brought it to a simmer. After the dye exhausted, I poured different mixes of Orange, Cherry, and Neon McCormicks, letting each exhaust before pouring the next. Once the water was clear, I turned it off, and let it cool.

In the pot
(ignore the yellow center, that's the lightbulb reflecting)


Amazingly, the two batches look remarkably similar. I was getting really stressed out over finding a few more white/pink splotches after all this. Margene's post on Zen-like spinning really came to my rescue. I have decided that I am going to do this for the process, and enjoy learning and developing my skills. Probably a good idea for someone who's spun a grand total of about 200 yards ever.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

So much to blog, so little time.

Well, no time that I'm willing to tear away from the actual crafting, that is. Add on the fact that Kid One is sick again, and that I've been tearing my hair out trying to make heads or tails out of web design/publishing, and the blog has suffered.

Presenting (in the face of Kid One's taunting skepticism) . . . The Blue Sweater !

On MeMaw's bed. Artsy Closeup.

I've been spending a lot of time dyeing, too. A couple of experiments with natural dyeing, using alum, cream of tartar, and iron (otherwise known as rusty nails soaked in vinegar) as mordants. I was intrigued by a rosemary dye article , but I didn't get that great, bright, green. Maybe my rosemary was older, different season, different water, who knows? The snip I dyed would be right at home in That Seventies Show. My other experiment went much better, but since it's for a swap, it'll have to wait until the package is received.

On more familiar territory, I dyed up LB Fishermans in several Kool-Aid colors for making fruits and veggies toys.

Lemon-Lime/Arctic Green Apple, Lemonade/Yellow Food Dye, Lime/Grape, Orange, Grape/Neon Purple Food Dye.

On the home front, SNOW! Poor kid was too sick to enjoy it, and Delayed Start school day is no fun when you are too sick to go anyway, but the babe had a great time exploring this new stuff. Last night, he watched out the window, saying "Wow!" in an amazing range of inflections and tones. This morning we bundled up and trudged around the yard, until I had to drag him in kicking and screaming, lest his fingers or nose suffer permanent damage.

I dyed my roving for Twisted Knitters but that gets its own post. Hopefully tomorrow. I'll try to get my mug and coffee shop pics up for Knitters' Coffee Swap, too.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Knitter's Coffee Swap Questions

1. Whole bean or ground?
Whole bean
2. Fully-loaded or decaf?
Either. Usually I drink the caff. in the morning, but sometimes I like a little decaf in the late afternoon.
3. Regular or flavored?
4. How do you drink your coffee?
Lots of ways. I like black, with cream, mochas, cappuccinos, etc. Most often I drink espresso with a little half-and-half.
5. Favorite coffee ever?
The cappuccino at Torrefazione. Perfect temperature, milk actually steamed, not just heated, and a creamy layer of foam. All that, served in beautiful Italian cups, in a great setting. That would've been my contest entry, but they've all been closed.
6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do?
The darker the roast, the better.
7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee?
Anything chocolate. Or cookies.
8. Anything else about your coffee preferences?
I usually try to get fair trade.
9. What treats do you enjoy with your coffee?
More chocolate ;)
10. Yarn/fiber you love?
I love wool and wool blends, and other animal fibers.
11. Yarn/fiber you hate?
Red Heart, lol.
12. What's on your needles?
Perfection Pants, baby hat, socks, and that blue cardigan.
13. Favorite colors?
I love lots of colors. Earth tones, jewel tones, reds.
14. Allergies?
15. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


No, I'm not posting a much belated TLAP entry. I'm suffering from some serious knitting curse.

Shortly after I did a celebratory, I-am-a-grafting-genius dance around my house, I spread out all the sweater bits to seam, and realized that there is something seriously wrong with the sleeve cap. Having never knit (or sewn) anything with set-in sleeves, I didn't know what I was doing, and the pattern is rather vague.

But it is now painfully obvious. The sleeve caps are definitely shorter than the armholes. Again, "Aaargh!" sez I.

So, time to rip back to the last increase row, and give it another go.

I decided to start the coordinating pants. When I picked out the yarn, I thought everything would match nicely. I had a plan. NO seat of my pants knitting for me. I picked out blue cotton for the sweater, blue and brown marled wool, and a solid brown for waist and cuffs on the pants.
I even waited a couple extra weeks for the back-ordered brown.

When I finally saw my yarn, I realized I'd made a big oops with the cotton. 4/2 cotton is not DK weight. OK. I can deal, I'll just pick a new pattern on smaller needles. (bwahahahahaha!)

And . . . the blues are not the same. Not at all. I really should have learned my lesson about colors and online ordering last winter (ordered yarn described as burgundy, black ,and cream. Got mauve, charcoal, grayish-white). So much for the whole matching outfit idea, but at least I'll get two nice garments out of the deal, right? Ha! The solid brown is not the same brown as the marled. And, not only are the blues in the cotton and the wool different, they really don't look that great next to each other.

I am determined to finish this godforsaken sweater, but I may very well sell/trade/? the wool. I only ordered it to do this particular project.

I did manage to finish a hat this week, but not before knitting to the the 2nd to last row, realizing I'd done the decreases asymmetrically, ripping back, and then finishing anew. Poor babe's been sick , so no pix yet.

How do I get my knitting karma back on track?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Grafting breakthrough!

Wow! I thought I was going to cry trying to graft the new length onto the cardigan. Then I finally "got it." I had to let go of any previously memorized methods (the old "knit, off, purl, purl off, knit" mantra). I made a swatch with one row of contrasting color and copied that. I've done both fronts, now just the back to go. I can only work on this during naps, so it's going super fast, but I no longer have to puzzle over every stitch.

The brown yarn is the row above the graft.

Ignore the weird color changes, it's just the lighting, and bad photography.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I hate being sick. Really. Ugh.

I laid the blue cardi out to start seaming, and decided I'd better hold it up on the babe. Aaarg! He's got such a long torso. It's barely long enough. So . . . I unraveled the bottom, and am going to (eeek) graft it back together after I add a couple pattern repeats. I knit a swatch with one row of contrasting color, so I can follow that when I graft. I was all set to give it a try, then this yuckiness overcame me.

So, grafting, posting Halloween pix, and more updates will have to wait. I seem to be on the mend. If I get a good night's sleep, maybe tomorrow will work out.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Houston, we have progress.

I've been forcing myself to concentrate on this *&^^% blue cardi., lest I take so long to finish that the little bug grows out of it before it's done.

Amazing how much faster the knitting is when you don't pick up something new every half hour.

Here's where things stood Monday evening:

And this morning:

Sleeves cast off, washed, and blocked.

While I was waiting for the sleeves to dry, I picked up the stitches around the top, knit the 4 row neckband (and remembered the buttonhole!!), and cast on the extra stitches for the hood.  Only about 8 bazillion stitches to go.  Maybe not, but 133 stitches for 28 cm, at a gauge of 26 sts x 34 rows = 10 cm, certainly seems like waaay too many. 

Next time you hear the words "100% cotton", and "size 3" in reference to anything larger than baby socks, restrain me.  Seriously.  Ack.

Also, I went back to the website to look at the picture for clarification on a couple things and noticed something odd:

What do you see on that button band?  Edging.  That's what I see.  Some sort of finishing was done to the edge of that garter stitch.  But what? and why, why, did they feel no need to tell me about this in the pattern? It looks so much better.  Much more, well, finished.

The DROPS designs are fabulous to look at, but the patterns require quite a bit of reading between the lines.  I don't know if that's the writer's style, or due to the translation process.

In other WIP news, I somehow lost the working version of the pattern for the orange multi pants.  You know, the one with all the measurements and gauge written on it.  Aaaaargh!  I'm hoping it fell out of my bag in the car, and will turn up somewhere in the detritus covering the front passenger floor.

Friday, October 13, 2006


It's a disease, I tell you.  As if the 5 (five!) WIPs (OK, five currently being worked on) weren't enough, I decided to spend a couple hours Wednesday making these:


In the interest of full disclosure, here's a quarter for scale:

I'm not loving the sweater, but I stopped myself from ripping it back.  The dolly doesn't need clothes that badly.

Some of those previously mentioned WIPs:
The babe's blue cardigan.  I blocked the body, and did a three-needle bind off on the shoulders.  I originally thought I would seam the sides, pick up stitches and work the sleeves in the round top-down, but decided I  wasn't in the mood for tinkering with the pattern. 

So, the sleeves (I'm working two at a time) are about 1/3 complete, then I need to seam, and knit the hood.  Oh, and pick buttons of course.  Maybe some nice wooden ones.


Perfection Pants, in Zitron Loft.  The color repeats are incredibly long.  I pulled out about 20 yards of the second ball, in a futile attempt to get the legs to match.  Ah, well.


Falling Leaves socks, with my STR.  I don't think this pattern is going to work.  I really wish designers would include gauge in stockinette in addition to the pattern gauge.  I think the yarn is too heavy, and these are probably going to be too big.  Not sure what pattern to try next.  Maybe I'll give in and go with RPM.  I really wanted to find a pattern that was both toe-up, and lacy.  I may go back through my print magazines.


Monday, October 02, 2006

OFFF goodies

I  was so good.  Too good.  I really am wishing I'd bought more roving.  Especially since I just signed up for theTwisted Knitters Dye-Spin-Knit Along.

Here's my haul:

Cascade Eco (for $9 !!), Breed variety pack roving, BMFA Socks That Rock
, medium-weight, in Nodding Violet (damn! I'm such a follower.)  And two back issues of IK.  These are great issues, especially the article on grafting, and the hooded sweater.  But the line was ridiculously slow, which ruined my plan to make one more trip through, and they were full cover price.  Oh well.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

An Excuse

Sorry about the lack of actual knitting content lately. I'm racing along on a super secret gifty thing for an online friend. I have no idea if she reads here, so I can't give any hints. Feeling quite the time crunch, so I'm not working on anything else until this is done. Once it gets to her, I'll have lots to post.

Fiber-y Goodness and Sling Junkies

Had a blast yesterday at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

Didn't get there as early as I would have liked, and somehow only managed to find one of the two friends I was going to meet.  My sweet husband took charge of The Incredible Grabby Toddler so I could browse in peace.

I was so good about not overspending that I actually had non-buyer's remorse when we left.  I tried to go back at the last minute and get one more skein of Socks That Rock, but they were already packing up when I got there.  (Arrgh! Even more regret now.  Just checked the website, and they had sooo many more colors in person.  Damn!) 

The only purchase I regret is a couple back issues of Interweave Knits.  They're both issues I'll use, but I thought they were discounted, and I paid cover price.  Plus the line was so slow, I could have gone to at least 2 vendors in the time I spent there.

Next year, I'm going to try to go alone, or with fellow fiber junkies only.  I'm gonna go early, stay late, and actually take my brochure with vendor list and map WITH me, instead of leaving it here.  I also really want to go to Black Sheep.

I'll try to post pix of my goodies tomorrow.

Today was fun, too.  Went to Portland NINO meeting.   Got to see some people I know, and some new ones, too.  And lots of great carriers.  Everything from NOJO padded rings sling, to Gypsy Mama wrap, podegi to Hot Sling, Ergos, Mei Tais, and more.  There were lots of little bitty babies.  E played very well with N, who's only a month older.  I think I need to find more opportunities for him to socialize, he just loves it.  So much so that when it was time to leave, he threw a classic Two-Year-Old Tantrum.  Except he's not even 2 until April.  Eeek!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A little late but fun none-the-less

    My pirate name is:   
    Red Bess Flint   
    Passion is a big part of your life, which makes sense for a pirate. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky.    Arr!   
  Get your own pirate name from
part of the network 

Monday, September 11, 2006

End of Summer Fun

We've been sooo busy around here.  Trying to cram everything in before the sun takes off to Southern climes.

I'll add knitting content next time around.  Here are just a few of the things we've been up to:
Everyday Routines
Helping big brother with his chores.  Dang, look at that big kid.

Bend/Black Butte/Reunion
Our annual family reunion with my mom's side.
Cousins.  12 kids ages 12 and under!

DH, babe and I went to Bend for our 3rd anniv. while the big kids stayed with Nonna (my mom) and the rest of the clan.
First Ice Cream Cone!

Running off the ice cream at the park.

Birthday Party in the Park

How the *&^% have 10 (!!) years gone by already!?!

  BoyWonder doesn't like cake, so we had root beer floats. 

Quick! Look while you can.  I actually came out from behind the camera.

State Fair

DH took the big 2 on rides while the babe and I roamed around the fair.  The craft displays were definately inspiring.  Maybe I'll enter something next year.

Braving the Super Loop!
After rides, we all did the petting zoo, had dinner and treats, and watched the juggler.

Hey! Don't eat my shirt, deer!

Mmmm! New fave. food to put the molars to good use.

Using up their game tickets.