Friday, March 31, 2006

Kool Aid Fever - Part Three

Apparently there is a limit to the number of pictures Blogger lets you load to your post (?), so here is the third installment of our Kool Aid odyssey.

The yarn is dry!

The kids thought the hanks looked like leis ("It's like we're on vacation!"), so the posed shots ...

turned into hula shots ...

which turned into trampoline shots ....

And if you thought this looked like fun, you should have seen the winding! We used our favorite two-door-knob winder and look at our final results (notice the attractive photo op props under the yarn...)

... it is the textile artists themselves!

This couldn't be any more fun!

Kool Aid Fever - Part Two

Forgot an important step - don't forget to sniff the dye!
The Orange flavor smells the best and seems to be the predominant smell in the finished skein.

Check out the finished products (the yarn, not the kids!).

Sissy's yarn on the left got a bit muddied by the red dye that I poured over her yarn. The resulting purple looks a bit dark, but she likes it - so it's perfect.

I'm amazed at how bright the colors are. I thought that doubling the Kool Aid amount in the dye recipe would make it less pastel, but these colors are amazing. My favorites: the Orange and Strawberry colors.

By the way - we used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Natural. I tied the hanks two more times (for a total of four ties) with Lion Brand Microspun in White - and suprisingly, it dyed really well.

More to follow with Kool Aid Fever - Part Three!

Kool Aid Fever - Part One

We had a fun time yesterday dying yarn with Kool Aid! Each kiddle picked out three colors (B: Orange, Cherry, and Lime and E: Arctic Apple, Strawberry, and Berry Blue) and we followed the directions from Creative Knitting January 2006.

But first - a snack! This was my favorite snack as a kid - Kool Aid and popcorn.

I was not surprised to find the Little People doing what I liked to do - dipping the popcorn in the Kool Aid (my favorite was the Lime flavor - it nicely complimented the corn flavor of the popcorn).

Here the the yarn is waiting to be dyed with lots of colors. It is soaking in water with a cup of vinegar added. We wrung it out and placed it in the microwave-safe pans to get ready to dye.

To make the dye, place 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and TWO packets of Kool Aid in a cup. Make one cup for each color and stir a lot.

The colors look nice and beautiful in the clear cups.

We didn't have any droppers, so we put the dye on the yarn with plastic spoons, then flipped it over to get the other side saturated. I got a little impatient with the spooning, so we poured the color on Sissy's yarn. We used all three cups.

Baba took the time to gently place each and every drop of dye on his yarn. He didn't pour any of the dye over the yarn and had less excess in the bottom of the pan.

Our Helper read through the new Mason Dixon Knitting book while we cooked the yarn. We put the pan of yarn in the microwave, cooked it for 2 minutes, then cooled it for 2 minutes. We repeated this cycle four times. After it cooled, we rinsed the yarn in the sink (no dye came out at all!), and then laid it in the sun to dry.

Lessons learned and tips we discovered:
- Wear gloves when flipping over the yarn.
- Start dying with a Kool Aid snack.
- Make sure you share the fun with a friend.
- Spread out the dye so it covers more yarn, but don't use too much or the colors will blend too much.
- Kool Aid yarn smells really good when dry (but not so good when hot and wet).

Check out Kool Aid Fever - Part Two, for the best part - yarn ready to knit!!

Produce Post

Never in my wildest (or most boring) dreams did I ever think that I would take a picture of produce, post it on the Internet, and people would see it. But, that being said, I wanted my friend Madge to know that we have purty food stuffs right here in the ol' USA. And - no poop!
(Interesting that you need to sweep your stoop, but not remove poop from your eggs in Germany!)

I have never seen such beautiful sweet potatoes. Was it because they were White or because they are fresh and local? Who knows, but they were grrrreat!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I Have the Glass Slipper...

...but no Cinderella!

I just realized that the pattern I am using from the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns has a page with the measurements for its finished socks just after the pattern. How did I miss this? Well, the measurements and my sock are horribly off! So I did a fitting, only to confirm the worst:

I almost broke into a sweat getting this sock on Little Man's foot. Well, maybe all is not lost - how about Sissy:

Another stepsister! What happened to Cinderella?! Perhaps this is the baby sock pattern I was looking for last week. Much noodling will now commence!

Boy, Are We Having Fun!

I had the best time today working with three great boys (one's my son!) learning about sewing. Or really about using a machine to sew (machines=cool fun!). How delighted I was to indulge in a fabric fest with these guy. And the fabric was flying!

They cranked out squares for a raggedy-edge quilt of plaid squares. I couldn't believe how quickly they took to pinning and sewing on the machines. I remember vividly someone sewing over their finger in Home Ec in 7th or 8th grade - ouch! That really slowed down my speed!

I think they liked it because one conversation was:
BW: "Sewing quilts is fun"
BB: (happy sigh) "Yeah. It is fun."

They're right!

I haven't been knitting as much as I should lately because we are having the bathroom floors replaced. How could that impact knitting? Should be a pretty straight forward job, especially as someone else is doing the installation. You'd think! But no - we need to paint at least one before the install and I needed to find a new shower curtain, etc. for a paint color choice. That should be resolved this week. Meanwhile, we decided to replace the vanity on the master bath, and hey! let's install a new top, too. Did you know that there are multiple vanity heights? European height? What? It means that all the plumbing needed to be reworked, the lighting fixture need to be replaced, and the mirror needs to be raised to accommodate the new height. Ack! And if that wasn't bad enough, the two sink tops we tried to use were damaged, and all the repair time got used returning things. Now my husband can't complete the work for two weeks and I just spent three hours yesterday visiting four stores and calling four more to find a top. I've called in professionals to make this all go away next week. But in the meantime - here's how things look at my house:

With all the excitement, I needed comforting, and I found it in Ann Budd. I'm trying her sock pattern (with dpns and top down - nothing new or exciting!) to feel like something is working out. I'm using Knit Picks Sock Landscape in New England Foliage. I've done the rib cuff and the heel flap/turn and am ready to pick up the gusset stitches. Here's what has happened since Friday. My goal is to knit faster than this grass can grow!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Three Times is NOT the Charm

or: a Tale of Two Socks

or: That Baby is Looking at Me

I got a terrible itching' yesterday to start some socks. So terrible, in fact, that I was kinda happy that my Little Man so so far under the weather that all he had energy to do was watch a movie (and even happier that there was no output associated with the illness!). That meant that we had a "snow day" - no school and the day was wiped clean of any engagements. Perfect conditions for sock researching!

So after a few books being read to the class and the DVD being fired up, I had some "free" time. I really want this to be a Summer of Socks so I can learn some new tricks and have something fun and small to tote to the pool (no prayer shawls in the deep end!). So I thought that I could make this the Spring of Figuring Out How.
Here are some things I want to learn:
  • The Magic Loop technique
  • Knitting with 2 circulars (and if this works - knitting 2 socks at the same time on 2 circs!)
  • Toe-up sock construction
  • Avoiding the Jaywalker (how does a pattern that has such fitting problems get so popular?)
  • Finding a pattern that I really like to make some Christmas socks for brothers who live where it is cold
I also want to try some fancy sock yarns:
  • Socks That Rock
  • Lorna's Laces
  • Cherry Tree Hill
Tall orders for a sick day, no?

I picked Magic Loop first and smugly sauntered over to my make-your-own circular-needle case and fired up the right length, only to find that the metal doohickey that joins the sections will not bend - thus no looping (unless there really is Magic involved). Well, by now the itch is reaching a fevered pitch, so I rely on the friendly neighborhood Internet to work on a toe-up pattern for baby socks (little sizes for practice/baby gifts). I found Just Your Basic Baby Socks and got ready just about the time the movie ended.

I did get a chance to knit again and wound up trying this pattern THREE times. I don't redo much of anything, so this was a monumental step. On the first round, I used leftover Baby Cashmerino and size #0 dpns. Way too tight. I was happy to discover my #2 dpns, so I fired those up and got up to the heel. The stitch numbers made no sense, and I realized I had the wrong number of stitches. All gone again.

Today, I was ready. The right size needles, the right number of stitches, and a heel stood between me and an itch scratched. I followed the instructions but got nowhere. There are holes on the turning part, where the stitched get "wrapped". I think that the numbers might be off. I even tried to do what I thought the pattern meant, and still no dice. So I pulled out attempt #3, but as I started, I realized that I needed a fitting with my favorite baby fitting model.

Here Big Baby marvels at the lack of magic in my dpns and sees the large holes in my white sock attempt. She's still in a good mood though, because failed attempts wind up in her bin. On her left foot is one of the pair of Kid Silk Haze mohair booties from Last Minute Knitted Gifts (not binding off l-o-o-s-e-l-y enough results in socks that would never go on a fat little foot).

So - all that work and nothing to show for it. Not even a Lesson Learned. Pooh! Happily, my Little Man is on the road to recovery. Undaunted, I will continue with a new pattern or maybe long enough circulars for some Magic Loop.

At least Big Baby had fun.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Finished Feast Continues...

Woohoo! Blogger is letting me load photos again! Here's the rest of the story:

Thought I'd try my hand at wire knitting when I saw this - discovered through some other blogger (does anyone else lose track of where they've been?!). I used 32 gauge wire as recommended and some 4 mm beads - probably only around 60-70 rather than the 100-200 suggested. Knitted on #2 metal dpns, this knitted up so quickly (maybe an hour for the second one). It's really just a rectangle of reverse stockinette with beads slid up to the purl stitches. I do have a few tips if you try this:

  • Keep a rubber band around your spool of wire at all times! Didn't think it would really turn itself into a Slinky if I didn't provoke it, but that wire just started unraveling like the tokens from the Chuckie Cheese machines. Stand back!
  • I only made two bracelets, but the needles seem un scarred. I don't think it's worth it to buy separate ones just for this project.
  • Don't slide one bead per stitch as recommended - it looks too uniform. Random beading looked better. Irregularly shaped beads like the pattern would have looked better too.
  • I wore this bracelet once and was amazed at how much it stretched. I had pulled and tugged on the length of it during and after knitting, but it still added 1-2" of length. I would have made it much smaller (faster!) had I realized it.
  • Magnetic closures are so much fun! My bracelet stuck to everything (especially once it stretched), even a pen while I was writing. Maybe it woul dcome in handy for a McGyver moment.

I took advantage of the spring snow yesterday to snap a few shots:

Since the Fire Tie blocking went so well, I'm trying it on the baby cardigan for my niece-to-be. This has been smoldering in the background of my to-do list for some time. It's "Jacket with Seed Stitch Bands" from Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss knitted with her Baby Cashmerino with #1 and #2 needles. I think this is the project that convinced me that I need remedial help with my knitting stitch to resolve the irregular tension that is very obvious with a big plank o' stockingette. I was not impressed with the edging that resulted in a standing collar (seems that others have had a similar outcome - not what is shown in the book) and I have a fear of blocking, so it has been "waiting" for me. Actually, I have horribly ignored it. Well, now I am ready to face the beast! Here it is in its unblocked innocence.

And I'm not even going to go into the drama of button picking. I'll let you know what shapes up!

A Feast Of Finished Finds

I have been focusing on finishing started projects, and the results are starting to show!

Here is the latest prayer shawl I finished:

It was done with 4 skeins of Knit Picks Suri Dream (Blueberry) on size #10 needles using a fun three stitch repeat. After casting on 69 stitches, each row consisted of *K, YO, K2tog. Repeat from * until your yarn runs out. Very rhythmic and meditative (once I got into the pattern), but rather slow with this yarn because I had a hard time seeing the two stitches to knit together. Lighter colored needles helped a lot (thanks Pam!). Here's a close up of the pattern made by the three stitch repeat:

Also in the "stick me I'm done" category is the Fire Tire. With its lumpy decreases, I didn't think it was going to wearable. It was knitted on #2 dpns with Sock Something from Knit Picks in Zinnia. Here it is before blocking:

After full-immersion, I stretched its stripey loudness out on the plaid ironing board (My eyes! My eyes!) and pinned it into submission:

After drying and releasing it, here it is on the only willing model I could find:

A couple of more projects are getting wrapped up (pun intended!) and I can't wait to share them. Let's just hope that Blogger will cooperate!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Where We Meet Alison, Two-Sticks, and Fire

(and no - this isn't an Indian tale!)

All sorts of new projects have been percolating around here. Trying REALLY hard to finish works underway has resulted in the ultimate reward - starting new projects!

Here is the one that is giving me tiny little fits. It's the Alison scarf. Thanks to friend Mary's mom, I made it through the second line of the instructions! Love the i-cord cast on, but I am not sure that my edges are what they should be. The sample photo looks like there is a defined i-cord up the edges. But while Googling the issue, I stumbled across Obsessknit who is in the Tuesday Knit Night I like to frequent. I think she made one - and since she is as nice as she is smart about knitting, I'm hoping to get a tip or two. The internet is great, but I need remedial, hands-on help with this one.

Here's my happy little project - the Two Sticks Aran Purse that I picked up at Spring Sprung simply because walking around with knitting needles would be so fun! I even have an idea for really cool needles, but I need to see if the bag flies first. I'm using Lion Wool Ease Thick and Quick with #13 needles. The gauge seems right, but it looks a little loose. I need to do a bit more knitting to see what's what. And since this doesn't seem very spring/summer appropriate, what's the hurry?

Here is my Little Man's Fire Tie.

I used the
Prepschool pattern from Knitty on #2 dpns with Sock Garden in Zinnia (because it looked most like "fire colors") from Knit Picks. It was a great little project to tote around (in my favorite organizational tool, the clear pencil box!). I started it last summer, I think. It did make it to Puerto Rico in August, so I started it before that. But as it started to take shape, it just looked so lumpy, and then there was the flub in the yarn that seems to be right at the knot point (I didn't know what to do with it, so I just kept knitting). And the mind numbingness of nine stitches per needle for two needles for what seemed like 12 miles of knitting the skinny back part. It all conspired to keep this little guy at the back of the knitting parade. But I felt that I owed it to my son to finish, so here it is before blocking. I am hoping for a miracle.

Leprechauns are Hard to Photograph

Here's a very belated St. Patrick's Day update. Had a little photo loading problem, but it is ALL GOOD this morning.

We had a few friends over to share in the annual corned beef feast. I can never boil a corned beef again after I got this baking technique from my good friend's family. Bake the briskets in a slow oven for 4 hours wrapped in foil and accompanied by oranges, celery, pickling spices, onions, and carrots (or the three of the five you feel lie using!). Who would have thought that raw meat and citrus could look so good together?! I think the foil is what makes the whole composition (the other pan of two looked just as fetching)!

After baking, glazing, and slicing (and making Irish Soda bread) you have this (nestled on an Irish linen towel from the Old Country):

The little people were all festively adorned in green - and very difficult to photograph. If they stood still, I couldn't. Here they are in an artistically fuzzy shot:

Way to get the Irish on, little people!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Hooray for Storm Doors!

I was so pleased to discover that by opening my front door and the front closet, I have the perfect distance to hang a hank of yarn for winding. I don't need no stinkin' swifter! Well, actually I do, so I am very glad to have a friend who is happy to share! But for one hank - the door set up is perfect. As windy and chilly as it was yesterday, this couldn't have happened without the storm door.

I was even more pleased to see that Holly Spring Home Spun (also know by me as Spring Sprung - I can't get the name straight!) had mailed me another hank of this yummy Art Yarns Supermerino. The two I had weren't adding up to a full scarf with Amy's Scarf pattern. Two skeins = only 30" length. To save a drive, I asked them to ship it to me. Hoping one more would do the trick and killing time waiting for the yarn, I looked over the pattern again. AHA! Amy used Ultramerino and two 100 g skeins (188yds). I'm using (total) three 50g skeins (104 y each) of the Supermerino. Maybe I should have noticed this a bit earlier! Any way, the needles will be cranking to get this one done - because I can wear it now. Love this yarn (even if it's not the right one!).


Knitting with ribbon is so texturally different from regular yarn, yet the familiar motions of knitting are there. A nice contrast.

Here the ribbon scarf is ready for release (hopefully this Sunday). I also made up a little fun version for my daughter to use as a belt or a scarf.

I really liked the loopiness and the bright colors.

Yarn used: Lion Incredible "Carnival" on #10.5 needles. All knit stitches with lots of single and double yarn overs randomly lofted into the mix.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ribbons of Thanks

A recent blog post made me think about how we help friends in trying times. We always want to do something and when the situation is bad, we want to do even more. It made me realize that I wait too often until there is a "situation" before I let folks know how important they are to me or how much I appreciate them. It also made me so very thankful for the help I get from others when nothing spectacular is happening.

So, inspired by the trials of others, I cast on a project to celebrate how wonderfully normal life can be, wishing others continued happiness and days of unadventure. This ribbon scarf is being knit with thanksgiving prayers for the wonderful help others bring to my life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bye Pom!

Our little friend is now the new owner of Pom. We had meant it to be hers all along, but it was a little tough saying goodbye. But how could you feel bad when you see this:

Happy Trails Pom!

Be Kind to Strangers

Happy blog news! I just received my first comment from a real, live stranger! And not just one - there were three comments. I know, I'm a dork, but hey, I feel just like Kay AND Ann (or maybe that's because of all the Girl Scout cookies I've been eating!).

Thanks comment strangers!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wee Bunnies

I was so enchanted to see the Wee Bunny over at Wee Wonderfuls. She has captured the very essence of bunniness! I printed out the pattern to get to sometime soon, but kept thinking about it all afternoon. As soon as the little people were in bed, I perused through my felt stash to see what there was to work with. This brown felt fairly jumped out (pun intended!) at me, so the rest just came together from there. Because doesn't every little brown bunny need pink ears? and a puffy white belly? and maybe a friend to come along for the ride?

All the supplies huddled on my sewing table:

Bunny ears need a little wire to allow them to fully express their bunny thoughts. I didn't want the ends to hurt anyone little and I didn't want to sew over them, so I came up with this idea with floral wire and tape:

Adding the facial features was harder than I thought. I made a felt nose and blanket-stitched around it to endure the inevitable nose wiggles bunnies are well known for:

After sewing up the body, it was time to turn her inside out. How funny that her little face popped out first, as if to say "Hello!".

The first bunny (soon to be named Daisy) watched her friend getting stitched up:

Boy, sewing that base is tricky!

I wanted to stuff them last night, but the stuffing got relegated to the attic during my last organizational binge, and I couldn't get up there without trekking through my daughter's room. But I was up there first thing this morning - and here the bunnies are awaiting their date with plumpness:

But wait - what kind of weighted base can I use? I made little sacks out of scrap felt (is there any other kind?) and used aquarium rocks to fill them.

Here the bunnies are getting their last filling while crossword puzzles and button sorting abound at the "school" table:

Here they are all stuffed and ready to play in the last freakishly warm day this week. The weighted bases helped keep them from blowing away!

After consulting with the naming committee, the white-eyed bunny has been dubbed "Pom" and the black-eyed bunny is now "Daisy". Why the names? Well, the tails inspired the naming. I loved how Daisy tail is made out of a fun flower (I added feet to her in case she had places to go on important bunny business).

Pom has a more flattering portrait:

Here the ladies are visiting during a spring walk in the local daffodil park (you can see Pom's tail made of a pom pom constructed from strips of felt left from her assembly):

Almost as much as I love the bunnies and the fun they've inspired here today, I really love that all of the materials were found here in my house! No new purchases or trips to the store. Imagine that all this loveliness and frolicking was right here all along!

Thanks Wee Wonderfuls for the LOVELY pattern and the inspiration.