Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Dye Yarn - Handpainting

I finally dyed some of the yarn I got at Dharma. I got a book and googled how to do it and after reading a bunch of different stuff did it and documented my process at Instructables. I found out later that my Instructable was featured on their home page for a while by one of their editors, which pleased me.

Here is the end result of the dyeing process:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our gathering here at my house was so nice. My parents drove over from Pittsburgh and my brother, his wife & their two kids came down from Connecticut, and we had a HUGE feast. We used the Williams Sonoma turkey brine and turkey gravy base and I highly recommend them; we used Alton Brown's methodology for cooking (500 deg F for 30 min, then continue until done); and we circled up all the cooks and agreed upon 165 deg F in the deepest parts as the temp we'd take it out of the oven. It was the best turkey I've ever had, much less ever made!

My niece and nephew were in good form. Johnny gets under Adam's skin right now, but that's temporary. He's four and he's going through a very, uh, independent phase where he doesn't listen to anything anybody asks of or tells him.

My sister-in-law has an eye inflammation so she couldn't have her picture taken without sunglasses on. But see how glamorous she looks!

My mom made brussels sprouts, which she shreds and sautees in bacon grease. So it's a very very healthful concoction. Okay, maybe not so much - but it is delicious! Here she is cooking the bacon:

Adam gazes adoringly at Ange's electronic meat thermometer:

And my brother and my dad help out by not helping. Everybody wins!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My cut finger is a lot better

It amazes me that a week has passed and it's still not totally closed up. Today is the first day it hasn't been actively hurting. I definitely should have gotten a stitch or two put in it, but it just seemed like such an inconvenience. Live and learn!

I did a lot of work on the yard today - front and back. (I wore gloves AND a band-aid.) I pulled up all the marigolds, which died in the frost we had a few nights ago, and ditto for the pepper plants. Once I was out there working I decided to rake the yard, which was a bigger undertaking than I expected. It's a lot of work. We have all this ivy in the front yard which captures dead leaves and makes it hard to rake them out. I got a lot of it cleaned up. My family is coming on Thanksgiving so I wanted to try to make things look as nice as possible. The ivy in front still looks like crap, it's kind of a balding pate with a combover and lots of weeds in the bald spots. Ugh. At least I did pull up the current crop of thistles. I hate those, and they have deep and persistent roots so they are just going to grow again until we put some weed killer on them. But they're gone at the moment. We filled up five bags of cuttings. I say "we" because Adam helped with the last bag, but I did most of it myself.

He did however finish my abandoned job of putting together the exercise bike that I just got. It arrived missing a part so I only did the first two steps of the total of eight (the instructions were VERY organized - yay Schwinn) that it took to put it together. The missing part arrived this past week. So while I was outside doing yard work, Adam finished assembling it for me. It has two water bottle holders, a rack on the seat back for your reading material, and even a small fan you can point at your face while you pedal. And it wasn't terribly expensive. I would like to bring a TV down to the basement so I can watch that while I work out, but it's good that I can also read magazines. I do subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, after all, which kind of seems like the perfect exercise literature.

Last but not least, I got what finally does get to be called the last skein of Chokecherry Kokopelli and finished Williamsro. I still have to weave in the ends. I'll post a pic when that's done. It's a nice sweater, and (thank heaven) big enough.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I cut myselllllf

Cutting a bun for sloppy joes, cutting toward myself the way they tell you not to do, I sliced right into my little finger. It bled like a mo-fo. This first picture is terrible for the bleached out quality but the drop of blood is very cool looking. I took this after half an hour of trying to get it to stop bleeding.

Here it had mostly stopped:

Now I have a band-aid on it and have it splinted with a Q-Tip to keep me from bending it for a while (it looks pretty silly). I can't type very well with only 9 fingers. And I think it's best if I stop knitting for the evening.

STILL not enough Kokopelli!

I got the supposedly last skein of Chokecherry Kokopelli, wound it, and used it up and am still not done with Williamsro. It's ridiculous. I actually finished off the bottom anyway and cast off. Then I decided I wouldn't be happy with that decision, and went online and ordered more. The color seems remarkably well matched from old skeins to new, so although this is usually a risky move, it doesn't seem so much so this time. I just know that I won't be happy with the result if I make the decision that it's finished based on the fact that I ran out of yarn rather than on the fact that I like the length I knitted it to.

Adam and I are making a cast of his hand. He has a birth defect in his left hand and has never, consequently, been able to get a pair of gloves that fit. I told him I'd be glad to make him a pair of gloves, including a truly fitted left glove, and we decided that in order to allow me to keep checking the fit as I go, we would make a cast of his hand that I can use when he's not around. Also because it's just cool to have a cast of his hand anyway. So we made the mold, and then I mixed the plaster wrong because I misread the instructions, so I had to go out and get more plaster. The second time I mixed it right and poured it in the mold. Now it's hardening; it has to cure for at least 3 hours before you try to take the mold apart around it. Unfortunately it's a one-use only mold, you can't reuse it. It'd be quite cool to get a bronze cast of his hand, some day. But probably fairly expensive.

Speaking of expensive, a friend pointed me toward Jessica Joslin's sculpture and I have to share the link. She makes these obsessively precise, fetishistic imaginary animals out of antique hardware and findings, bone, fur, satin, velvet, leather, etc. I wanted to buy one but they're out of my price range right now, regrettably. But I'm so glad there is a person in the world making work like this.

Friday, November 9, 2007

We have your laundry.

We also have our next door neighbors' laundry, and that of my coworkers as well. At least, I hope we do, because otherwise there's no explanation for why we have so many loads of it in my basement. Also, the dryer can't keep up with the washer. The washer churns out its work and the dryer is all, I have a little bit more I'd like to do on this load, and there's an actual line of loads to get in to the dryer and I think a bouncer just came on his shift as well. Loads are leaning over the velvet rope and claiming they are on the list, but they have to wait in line like all the other loads that want to get into this drying and folding dance party.

For the second time, the cats - wait, why do I "pussyfoot" around it? it's not both cats, it's Lily doing all the badness - pissed in our bed yesterday. I discovered it last night as we were about to get in bed, so we had to pull the sheets off the bed and make it with the other set, before we could go to sleep. Here is the reason: We got the litter robot and she hates it, refuses to use it, and has been acting out first behind the TV as posted here a couple weeks ago, and now in the damned bed. Dude, I was VIVID!*

I got the last skein (I better not need any more) of the Chokecherry Kokopelli yarn and now I can finish my Williamsro sweater. I made a mistake in my conversions from Noro Cash Iroha to Kokopelli; probably Cash Iroha compresses more when held double than Kokopelli. I'm not a huge yarn expert, I don't like to worry my pretty little head about it. So sometimes I guess wrong and this is one of those times. I overestimated by one skein how much Manos to buy, and underestimated by one on the Kokopelli. Anyway, it arrived today and now I'm trying to finish it up. I also did a "mod," as the kids like to call them, or modification, to the pattern on the edge of the body bottom edging and on the edge of the collar, because I didn't feel like a single column of seed stitch along the edge lined up well with two rows of garter along the plackets. So I made it two columns of seed stitch (i.e., two consecutive seed stitches) before the stockinette started on either side. I decided to do this while in progress on the bottom edging (after I'd already finished the collar and bound it off so I still have to go back and change it).

I was under the weather today so I stayed home from work. I got out my DVDs of "Sports Night," which I own but haven't seen all of, and started watching some more of them. I adore that show. The writing on it sparkles and dances and the actors have a fantastic rapport with one another. Plus, I care about them all. But sometimes it is a little hard to take, because it's not superficial, and so I watch a bunch of episodes in a row and then I put the DVDs back on the shelf and wait a long time before watching more. In a way, this is good, because there were only 3 seasons, and I'm more than halfway through season 2, and there's a limit to the goodness, so I don't mind rationing them out.

* As my brother's frat brothers would have said. There's a story behind that, but for now, suffice it to say I actually know the correct word.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Niddy Noddy nuttiness

I finally overcame my fear sufficient at least to divide the skeins of yarn into smaller skeins preparatory to dyeing them. It took a few turns, but I got the hang of the niddy noddy, which you wind yarn around to reskein. I googled it and got a couple useful links - this one and this one with a video - and got under way.

After winding about 100 turns around the thing, I realized that counting the number of turns was the LEAST efficient method of telling how much yarn was on it. I realized I should have weighed the original skein, then go by weight to tell when I had wound enough on there. So I began to unwind from the niddy noddy back onto the swift, but soon got the yarn all tangled up. I worked at the tangle carefully for about half an hour, until I finally got so fracking frustrated that I stomped my foot on the floor a couple of times. Adam came up and tried to calm me down, but ultimately I threw the tangled yarn out the window.

Eventually, after taking a break, I came back to it and was able to get both skeins rewound and divided into smaller sections. I even went out, got the yarn off the bushes and brought it in and completely untangled it. I weighed the large skein, divided it by four, added the weight of the bare niddy noddy, and used that as the target weight of the niddy noddy with yarn wound on it. The silk is yucky yarn - very toothy and unlovely. I think I have twice as much of the wool than I thought I bought, but I am not sure. Ultimately the only way to tell would be to count the turns, but I don't think I have the patience for that.

Learning is really hard. Really trying to the patience, and frustrating, and ego-bruising. I hate it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dyeing experiment

I bought some dye and some yarn from Dharma Trading and am afraid to begin. I need to reskein the yarn (which is currently two big skeins of 860 & 900 yards, respectively) into smaller skeins of 215-225 yards each, first. Then I will try dyeing it. But I am scared. I don't know what I am doing - at ALL - and I printed out a sheet on how to do it from the manufacturer but it looks hard. Plus, what I want to do is multiple colors in one skein, and the instructions are for solid color dyeing. So I'm a little stymied and I want to read more about how to do it first, before I do. Also, I bought a niddy noddy to reskein, but I don't know how to skein around on it and how long one once-around is on the thing. So all these little stupid things are stymieing me. I'll start eventually, but figured writing about it would be helpful as a way to get around some of the fear.

Adam says the point of it is to make mistakes, but I hate doing that. Melissa says "Dare to suck." I say I think I should know how to do something before I even try it, and that's the sticking point for me every time.