Thursday, August 31, 2006

Getting Up to Speed

Someone turned me on (or tuned me in) to Pandora. Now I have two stations set up and I've registered (free) and all and it's pretty darned cool. Available only to U.S. residents right now because of "streaming issues," but they're working on making it more widely available.

I plugged Johnny Mathis, Lou Rawls, Nat King Cole, and Gene Kelly into my "suggestions" so far. I am getting lots of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and some other artists that are new to me. It's nice background.

My other station is 60's and 70's pop. Beatles, Motown, Beach Boys. I'm a teen again!

I finished the gansey hat earlier this evening. It's stiff. It's Red Heart. Ya gets what ya pays for. There is such a difference between it and the Patons Classic Wool. Washing and dryer drying helped. But it's still ack!

The body of Heartfelt Passion is about half-knit(7 of 14 inches knit). I'll be doing a 3-needle bind-off at the bottom rather than seaming. That will be sturdier, I think, and I know it will be faster (I might actually get to it in this lifetime!)

My yarn consumption seemed heavy, so I spot checked (the totals will be posted on the 5th like usual). Amazing! In spite of adding 11 "balls" of this stuff.

Yes, it's another Tree closeout and I haven't a clue what I will do with it!

Slippers? Mittens?

Here's a closeup of the yarn itself.

Ball band says it's super bulky and needs a US 13 needle. I don't think so.

I think I'll attempt it on 8s first. There's a half dozen of the blue (night sky), 5 of the tan (suede), and 1 of black (black magic) that Leah sent. That's 720 yards all together. Surely it can be knitted into something besides a scarf!

Stay tuned.

At 3 o'clock tomorrow, we start a three-day. I really need a three-day! Of course, it's supposed to rain half the weekend. We're really counting on that "clearing by Sunday." The fair beckons!

Film, as they say, at 11.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I don't know where to start. So I'll just jump on in.

Ken Storen has started sharing his experiences in Africa via a blog. (I am hoping that he will share some pictures. The children are beautiful!)

In the interest of full disclosure, Ken is the nephew of a very dear friend. He served in the Peace Corps in Africa and saw first hand the AIDS pandemic's effect on the people. He returned there and now he and his wife work with babies, many of them orphaned by AIDS. I've enjoyed his emails and I'm looking forward to more from his journal.

Please bookmark his blog and check back often. (Clicking on the ads that interest you on the blog helps in a small way to support their work.) And if you'd like to help in a bigger way (no, not socks and mittens, silly!) let me know and I'll get you the address for Touching Tiny Lives Foundation so that you can make a tax-deductible donation.

Okay, closer to home: Several new folks have bellied up to the mitten bar. See my June 11 archived edition for more info. If you like to knit mittens, here's your chance. And you could win a prize. Deadline for getting in on the prizes is October 1. The need is on-going, though, so don't let the fact that it's a month away :eep: stop you from making some. If you miss the prize deadline, I can get you an alternate address. The mittens will wind up in the same place, I'll just cut out the middleknitter (me).

And even closer to home: Things are heating up at work! 'Tis the season, you know. October through January is our busy season. It seems to be starting early. We have a dinner planned at the warehouse to commemorate our anniversary and World Food Day and National Food Bank Week. Then the annual Donate a Turkey Season starts. I do love the fall! It doesn't help that one of my key people is sick.

And right here in this house (and the car):

I tried to get a little gansey thing going on the latest Ship Support hat. With some enhancement, you can almost tell in the photo!

There's ribbing, then a little diagonal action, then a welt, then a little checkerboard thing.

I dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It's Red Heart. I cast on 90. You know the rest.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's In the Bag

See that cute little Barbie bag?

It comes in three sizes: tiny, big, and huge.

I'm making the big one. In navy, hunter, and burgundy Patons Classic Wool.

It gets felted.

With pockets inside and out.

There are bobbles. Thirty-four of them to be exact. So far. So, after a round or seven of turn, turn, turn, I decided to try knitting back backwards. And I did it!

I don't know if it sped up the process, but it sure saved a lot of twisted yarn. Please note that the bobbles are stranded color work in addition to being bobbley. What have I gotten myself in to?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Regrouping: An Explanation

The red blob amid the trash in yesterday's post is, indeed, the red Frenzy mitten.

I am pretty sure that the problems I encountered were/are due to operator error and not the fault of the pattern. It's a good pattern according to the many people who have knit it up. And a fast one, too, for last minute itten-knitting. Clearly, I screwed up. And rather than try to rescue my mistake (this Frenzy does not frog!) I threw in the proverbial towel (and the mitt into the trash can, as well!)

Sometimes you do what you've gotta do.

I finished the plum baby sweater this morning. The sleeves go really fast on something this small. And I believe I will probably make a few more of this pattern with different patterning in bright colors. It's a free pattern that I got from Knitting Pure and Simple. I truly love their stuff (and am willing to put my money where my mouth is)!

Buttons are flowers in the same blue as the contrast.

I have enough green superwash wool and some lovely wool blends (a gift from the same source as the Regia--Thanks, Leah!) that are dedicated to the Reservation. I think they will make sweet little sweaters.

Poor old Walter got pressed into service as a model.

In his 20+ years, he's taken a lot of abuse, but the hanging by the ears is something new.

Other Works In Progress: a hat in hunter green for Ship Support, my current car knitting (4 days to mailing, I need to get cracking). It will probably get some patterning in a contrast yarn (white or cream).

I am back on track with the Regia cap. After frogging about 3" of 2X2 ribbing [sob], I switched to stockinette. There should be enough for a generous length, just without a doubled up cuff. Not totally my choice, but again, you do what you gotta.

I am nine rows into the second part of the Double Secret project (tm). Nothing further will be said (until I say something further) on that one.

In the Queue (IQ): Felted bag for my swap partner

I think I've settled on Heartfelt Passion from Barbie and Me by Nicky Epstein. Book Review: I found it "remaindered" at Ollie's for just under $10. Bought it for the Barbie patterns, though I am finding the "and Me" parts to be quite good as well. Basic yarns, cute "little girls" sweaters, and (along with this bag), a turtleneck that I would wear--a lot! I have black, royal blue, and anchor gray wool, and bark, eggplant and mulberry cotton, all sufficiently aged and all in sufficient quantity. The only question is if I can take that much mindless knitting.

Also IQ from the same book, a project that screams for the Cotton Ease over at Smiley's. Or Highland Wool from Elann. Screams, I tell you!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

That Was Liberating

'Nuff Said!

Of All the Things I've Lost

I miss my mind the most!

Last night's grocery episode was among the Top 5 Worst of All Time! I really need to start taking the camera along. (I thought last week when the little kid threw up in the checkout line was the topper!)

Call me a bitch. (Go on, you know you want to.) I don't go to the grocery to socialize. I go to get food and pay for it and come home. I use the self-check for that very reason! I do not wish to discuss (for the 4th Friday in a row) how much I "enjoy" shopping.

Nor do I want to be told, when the pull-off coupon on my package 1) pulls off entirely--that is, doesn't peel off with the bar code exposed, then 2) when I peel it apart, the bar code sloughs off onto the sticky part, that I must stand in line at the customer service desk (where 27 people are lined up to buy lottery tickets) in order to get my $2 rebate.

And then, when I scan my "free with purchase" soda can cozy (that I didn't want, but the Other Half did) for which I meet all the criteria (purchased $10 in Pepsi/Frito-Lay products, check, use my bonus card, check, and do it between August 18 and October 28, check, I do not expect to be charged $2.11 ($1.99 plus tax) for a freakin' can cozy that I didn't want in the first place!

You know the 27 people lined up for lottery tickets? There are now 34 of them and a guy filling his propane tanks! And I need to be accompanied back to the display by a high school kid who will indeed affirm that the sign is there! Tell me that I was the first person to take "advantage" of this offer! I think not!

So, okay, I finally found a pattern that will fit on the plum baby sweater. It's 14 stitches wide. I have 98 stitches. Perfect.

Except that, well, you take a look. Something is amiss.

Off center? Not unlike the knitter?

I've bound off the bottom already. I am not frogging 16 rows. The next one will be better.

Sleeve Island, here I come.

(This sweater is a lot tinier than it looks in the photo. The sleeves will not be a major project!)

I finished the Big Red Fuzzy last night.

It really is soft and warm. And a good size for a real baby up to toddlerhood.

I will be using the leftover skeins (10 or so of them, plus some leftovers from another project) to make a cat cozy for the Resident Cat.

But. . .

I was turned on to this pattern that seems somewhat suitable (and uses about 1 ball of the Frenzy per pair). Because the grist (yarn thickness) is a little different than the called for yarn (Debbie Bliss Cahmerino Superchunky-75 yards/100 g.--Frenzy is 120 yards per 100 g, but is fluffy.) I compensated by using a smaller needle (10 v. 10.5) and cast on for a larger size (Child L to get a finished Child M) than I want to finish up.

This could be interesting.

Update:The Regia hat is in its way to the frog pond. I am going to run out of yarn before I run out of hat! I may just frog half of the ribbing and forgo the turned up cuff.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

W Is For W

This is Sparky's favorite toy. At least it's the one she plays with most.

Mostly she kicks the loving stuffing out of it. Then she sits on it.

We don't mind one bit.

In fact, given the chance, we step on its little head at every opportunity.

Just sayin'

Dropped my stuff off for the fair. What a crew they have working that! They are very nice ladies, but I got questioned on the technique used in every single entry. It got to be funny. I wonder if they were checking to be sure that I made these things myself!

And the one lady absolutely insisted that I am NOT who I say I am, even though I've been me for more than 50 years, and using this name for more than 35. She knows me, and I am not her! (I think it was a little early in the day to be drinking the hard stuff.)


She: (looking at the tag on the first item) Hmm, Myfirstname Mylastname. I know her. Are you dropping her stuff off?

Me: No. I'm Myfirstname Mylastname. This is my stuff.

She: No, you're not.


I understand that entries are down. The fair booklets didn't get to everyone. Hello! The Fair happens every year. It's on the Web. Including the Premium Book . I know if I didn't get my booklet, and I really wanted to enter, I'd be on the phone or on the 'net.

Car knitting update: Moving right along. I want so much to switch to stockinette. Maybe on the next round.

I will finish Big Red Fuzzy tonight. I will stay awake knitting until I reach the magic last row.

Even if I have to stay awake until time to go to work.

Wait a minute.

I will finish Big Red Fuzzy before Monday. There. That's better!

And then I will start my bag. For the swap. (Which means I need to decide on a pattern.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Name That Noise

Or have I suddenly gone deaf?

Weekends in the fall here in the 'hood, the ears can count on constant assault from the various gas- and electric-powered leaf gatherer/blower/shredder things employed by the various neighbormen. (Women do not seem able to master this particular task, sticking to rakes, mostly.)

I thought I had at least another month before they started. Clearly, I was wrong.

Neighbor across the street spent hours vacuuming the mini-van last Saturday.

My whole house can be vacuumed in less time!

Neighbor across the other street (we live on a corner) has been weed-whacking since 6 (it's 7:15) around the same rock!

Neighbor next to him typically spends at least one day a week vacuuming his garage and driveway (I am not making this up! )

Someone down the block got an ATV and is riding it in circles. Around and around and around.

Can you say "noise pollution?"

Can you say "honkin' big grenade launcher?"

I thought you could!

Meanwhile at the food bank: We are between cleaning services. The new one starts next Friday. The old one hasn't shown up since we gave 30 days' notice. (Do you see a pattern here? And I'm guessing he's still trying to figure it out!) So we are winging it.

Some people are coping better than others.

Today, I scrubbed out the display cooler. No, it's not my job. But the person whose job it is is a bug-phobe. I swapped cleaning the teeny tiny bugs (total time: 10 minutes, tops) for vacuuming all the carpet. (She thinks she got the better deal. I wonder if she'd like to join my Amway family. . .)

I will be really glad when next Friday finally gets here!

Big Red Fuzzy update: There is nothing to see. Trust me on this. I broke into another ball-o-fluff tonight and have 34 stitches left on each side of the marker.

Rabbitch is making a mitered square, too. Pop over and look. Ain't it purty? And it's for an actual baby! That is to say, she knows the actual family that this baby will belong to. I, on the other hand, do not know my baby. Unless, of course, it turns out to be Sparky.

Car knitting:

I'm making some progress on the "daytime project."

Ribbing goes a lot slower than stockinette.

8 rounds. 960 stitches.

That and the little bit I did on Big Red Fuzzy was the extent of my knitting today.

I feel a bout of startitis coming on. Or a trip to one of the Local Yarn Shops (just for inspiration).

Yep, that's the ticket! Inspiration here I come!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I Am Unable to Come Up With a Catchy Title

I know I said yesterday that I would not speak again of fair entries. Have I ever kept my word? (Yeh, and the horse you rode in on!)

This afternoon, I tagged them all (16, I think) , stowed them tenderly in a giant Rubbermaid in the back seat of the car, and now I must bide my time until Thursday.

So, how best to do that? Working a bit on some WIPs. Of course I started something new. Car knitting. It's the one in the middle.

Left to right: Little Purple Sweater (on hold while I decide whether or not to add a fair isle band), Something New (how cool is this? sport weight yarn in the same colorway as the mittens I'm entering in the Event That Is Not Mentioned. It's a matching hat for some kid on the Reservation), and the neverending Big Red Fuzzy.

I know that the rows should be getting shorter on BRF, but it sure doesn't seem that way. I knat for hours (okay, 90 minutes) tonight and made no progress at all. None! A measly 12 decreases each side, leaving me with 48 on each side of the marker. I broke into ball 12. Just. I suspect that I will need at least 2 more of the pristine balls (leaving Sparky 10, plus 2 oddballs of 2 other colors for stripes).

That's okay. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that cats are colorblind.

The good news is that the rows I did tonight averaged about 4 minutes per (down from 11 minutes on the earlier rows).

Up next: Over the next several days, I will need to hone in on a bag pattern and start shopping the stash for suitable yarn. I might use the Sarah left from my Diamond Patch, or some of the Highland Wool that I have sampled so deeply and felt it. Or Lopi. Or maybe I'll stick with a neutral (natural?) and line it with something spiffy! Decisions, decisions.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm On a Mission!

Car knitting has been confined to the little purple sweater for the moment.

Tonight, it was Fuzzy Red Square (tm) all the way!

And now, I find myself 1/2 done with the rows (60 ridges completed) which means I am actually 3/4 finished with the knitting. (Posed again on the same spot on the carpet for comparison purposes)

Yes, the rug really is that dirty. Bite me!

I still have about 14 (please don't make me count them) balls left; three more (give or take) should finish my miter.

So a baby will get a blankie and Sparky will get her cat mat. Sounds like win-win to me!

Or I could make the square bigger, and Sparky and I could have a nice cozy, um, cozy for watching TV under.


Movie Review: Saturday, we rented Scary Movie 4. It would not have been my first choice. It was an amusing bit of fluff. Not a chick flick. More a 12 year old boy flick. Lots of potty humor. Lots of making fun of Tom Cruise/Tom Ryan in the movie (okay by me). The kid that plays Maia Skouris on The 4400 is in it. She shrieks a lot. Everybody shrieks a lot. Wait for it to be on the dollar shelf.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sheep, the Final Frontier

Okay, make that Sheep on a Wreath.

Starting at the bow and proceeding clockwise: Melvin, Otis, Inez, Maude, Hortense, and Sylvia

This is my last fair entry. I just need to get the tags tied on and deliver them on Thursday.

Photos of the rest of the entries have been posted in earlier episodes. There will be no further Speaking of Fair Entries until I get the results on September 2.

How will we stand the wait?

Catsup (and Other "C" Words)

I devoted my entire TV watching night (a rented movie and Friday's episode of House to working on the Red Fuzzy Square (tm). I have broken into ball #8 (of 24) and am at 81 stitches (counting down from 120) on each side of the marker. It appears that there will be yarn to spare.

I attempted to "pose"the miter at the same spot on the carpet as the last photo so that you, Gentle Readers, could get a sense of my progress, such as it is.

I got a big squishy package in the mail on Saturday. Leah sent me some odds and ends to knit up for charity (specifically for the Reservation).

Oh, and are they ever yummy!

Before anyone asks, they will not show up in my sidebar countdown (my blog, my rules!) for at least a month (of course, I plan to have them all knat up by then).

Um huh.

These are wool blends. And the colors look great together.

I'm thinking baby sweater(s) or mittens, or hats. I've got some leftover Encore odd balls in blue and a little Phildar that will go just right with these colors!

Check my stash, these are my favorite colors to work with.

And here's some homespun, all in natural shades, in varying thicknesses. Mittens! Definitely mittens. I'll divide the balls into equal amounts, then use one of the folk mitten-y patterns.

Thanks, Leah. (Watch your snail box!)

And as long as we are discussing "C" words. . .

Rabbitch started it! Those who are inclined to Christmas knit are already experiencing that annual frenzy. I do not knit for many for Christmas. (In truth, I do not give gifts at Christmas to many, and one box of Christmas cards can last me 2 years. Bah, humbug!) There will be a couple of sweaters, the Double Secret Project (tm) times 2, 7 or 8 pairs of socks, mittens and scarves, a shawl, 2 afghans, and a couple of toys. Other than that, nothing much.

Yes, Rabbitch, I am making fun.

Actually, there will be the Double Secret Project (parts 1 and maybe 2), and perhaps a pair of socks for the Other Half (alpaca ragg I bought 2 years ago?) . There might be a little something for each of the (3) kids.

In which I show that I really am that dumb: I signed up for a swap.

Knit a tote, fill it with a skein suitable for an Elizabeth Zimmerman 1-skein project, add some goodies, ship it off by 12/5/06. I have been assigned my partner. I am looking forward to selecting a pattern I've been dying to make. (Andean Folk Knits, Folk Bags, or any of a number of other books on my shelf have great patterns.)

Let me just say that my last several experiences with swaps and round robins (except for the Oddments Box RR, but that's a whole other ball of wax) have been less than fulfilling. I have wound up as an "angel" to more than a couple, gotten stung at least three times (twice with quilting, once with an ornament swap).

My faith in human nature (and my general gulability) keeps me coming back.

What's that line from the introduction to Rhoda? "New York, this is your last chance."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Progress of a Sort

This post is about multiple topics (what else is new?) so bear with me, please.

I am on the home stretch with the first 1/2 (or 1/4, time and enthusiasm permitting) of the Double Secret (tm) project involving the former cotton Aran vest. Here's a wad shot. of part 1.

You won't see it flat until after the Big Day (tm)--December 25!

Live with it!

I have knat up 5 + balls of the red Frenzy, and already, Rabbitch is saying "I told you so" about the fuzzy red thing.

And why?? Because I casually mentioned that I might be considering keeping it rather than shipping it off to the reservation!

You see, Sparky likes it. A lot! How can I deny that sweet face? Even if she did bring a flea inside.

Ever notice how the mere mention of fleas, ticks, and lice can make you start to scratch? Sort of like the word yawn.

And here's breaking news: I signed up for Flylady. It was self-defense. Now I'm giving serious thought to un-signing. Okay, "swish and swipe" in the bathroom= good idea. "Shine your sink"= good idea (though it's the job of the Other Half; I cook dinner, he cleans up after). I was already doing a lot of what she suggests (except the shoes. I cannot do the shoes).

I'm pretty well stuck on the latest, though.

"Load a Day"= jury's still out. My typical weekend is many laundry loads. This has been an interesting experiment. I've been at it for six whole days. Instead of intensive laundry on Friday night and Saturday, I have spread my laundering out over the whole week. This is an improvement? (Though, I guess, if you are buried in dirty clothes, it might be.)

Movie Review: (I bet you thought I forgot!) We watched The Phantom last night (it was TiVo'd). Amusing, predictable Blast From The Past that brought up memories of Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon (and truth be told, Sky King and My Friend Flicka). Ah, to be 10 again. . .

That pattern request: Melvin and company want all their fans to know that the pattern is available in the book Knitting with Bits and Pieces from House of White Birches. It's a good book, but I'd check the library before I ordered it sight unseen. I regret that I cannot put the pattern here--copyright, you know.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Three Time's the Charm

I swear that Blogger is toying with me. It takes three tries every single time to get photos to load. I can see where a less patient person might give up and not bother!

But I am a patient person (shut up!) and words alone will not convey the loveliness of the ammonia and copper water.

This is after 7 full days of steeping in (mostly) sunny days in the garden.

Isn't that a pretty color?

Well, I'm here to tell you that natural dyeing is not an exact science, and that Things You Do To The Wool can affect the final product.

I had a whack of vinegar in a bowl that I added to the soak water for my skein of white yarn. Don't ask why I dumped it in, 'cause I am clueless. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

I drained the soaked yarn. Then I put the yarn into the jar of ammonia water and pennies (see above) and waited 15 minutes.

Then, I dumped the newly dyed yarn (to the left) in warm water to which I had added a small amount of alum and cream of tartar.

My blue-gray yarn (left) turned a lovely sorta-celery color (below).

I'll take it! I think it will be lovely with the marigold and birch-dyed yarns from previous experimentation.

Mittens and hat. Stranded pattern.


Here's the post-mordant, post-rinse yarn, hanging to dry. It's the color of old weathered copper (think Statue of Liberty), but pale.

I think I really like this color and I think that I may dye some other of my natural wools with the dye bath that remains.

And now for a little secret about the sheep gang:

While I was stitching on ears, I discovered that the tails I had already stitched were, indeed, ears, not tails, and so, all six have ears on their butts, 3 have ears where their ears belong, and the other 3 have 2 tails (ponytails? pigtails?) on their heads.

I don't think that anyone is likely to notice. These body parts are about 3/8" square.

Don't tell!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Meet the gang!

Left to right: Otis, Hortense, Melvin, Inez, Maude and Sylvia

Coming soon: Sheep on a Wreath.

Actual Pictures of Knitting:

And as promised, pictures of knitting. A pair of Aunt Alm's Dorm Boots (Google is your friend) in Lionbrand Kool Wool, The finished Norwegian hat, and another Dorm Boot OTN.

All of these will go to Ship Support, and yes, it's still hot as blazes in The Sandbox, but injured servicepeople are in need of warm woolies to conserve their body heat. That's where these will probably end up.

And here are 20 afghan squares that I will be mailing off to the Person Who Assembles POC Afghans (also Ship Support).

They are patterns from various stitch dictionaries, all made in ack (per the PWAPA's request that they be machine wash and dry).

This is a good way to use up odds and ends, and to try out some interesting textures.

Update on the stink: The Person Responsible confessed. Then went home sick before I could beat him senseless. Good thing. I look lousy in orange.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gag Reflex

Not for the weak of stomach!

If you read on you will quickly understand why there are no pictures.

I am a supervisor of the sort who would never ask anyone to do anything I would not do myself. So, today, I "volunteered" to prepare a refrigerator and freezer that was brought to our warehouse (removed from a closed pantry) for storage (or for reallocating to another member).

I had heard Not Good things about the condition of these appliances, so I was prepared for the worst with a bucket of strong Mr. Clean solution. Imagine my delight when I opened the freezer to discover that a light once-over was all it needed!

Imagine my disgust when I opened the 'fridge to find 1) hard, crusty gray stuff(?), 2) red, fruit smelling stuff (solidified), 3) blue stuff, and 4) some sort of 3-colored lumpy mold.

Two hours later. . .

I was ready to wash the glass shelves, so I moved them to the nearly brand new "mop sink" (low to the floor fixture intended for filling and dumping mop buckets, though we generally dump the bucket out the door to avoid having the trap fill with "stuff"--don't go there!--it's a very expensive proposition!) expecting that (since it's mere months old) that it would be reasonably clean (dream on!). It wasn't :sigh:

So first, I cleaned out bunches of wood chunks (pallets) broken glass (wtf?), and paper clips that had left rusty stains, and washed the surface, then put the glass shelves from the 'fridge in and washed them.

Okey dokey. All done.

While the shelves were air drying, I decided to sweep the little "janitor closet" and neaten up the stuff stored there. I moved the "scrubber" (a honkin' big machine used to clean our cement floors) and caught a whiff of Something Nasty. Very nasty. Like I imagine the inside of a "honey dipper" tank smells. After sitting in the sun. Times ten!

Whoever the hell used it last had put the scrubber (also almot brand new) away without draining the scummy crap out of the tank. Do I need to mention that the temperature has been hovering near 100 for weeks? This crap (and I don't use the word lightly) has been "cooking" for over a month, at the very least.

Gag! Gag!

I just found something that I would ask someone else to do that I would not do myself!

(But I did go get the jug of Clorox. And the toilet brush.)

Pictures (of knitting) tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Overstating the Obvious

The Other Half noticed this tonight.

Can you read it?

It says "DOOR STOP"

And it is. One. All righty, then.

First small sheep finished (with swab for size comparison).

It needs eyes. And a little plaid bow around its neck.

This is Melvin.

Coming soon: Maude, Inez, Hortense, Otis, and Sylvia.

Does this tail make my butt look fat?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sheep Parts

I had to go to the dentist today. This is not something I look forward to, though it beats the hell out of mammograms and pap smears.

I got a new toothbrush (green). And some nifty flossing things, but yet again, they didn't offer me a treat from the treasure chest.


I'm on the home stretch with stitching up very tiny tubes into tiny little sheep legs.

Only 6 to go.

Then I can start assembling all the sheep parts into 6 tiny sheep.

Here are the parts.

It's a good thing that I still have something like 9 days to go.

Because there's a sh*tload of loose sheep parts in this basket.

That's six sheeps' worth (say that fast a few times.).

Is it my imagination, or do these sheep each have 6 or 7 legs?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Nothing Complicated

Stuffy head, sniffles. Probably not contageous. Ragweed season has arrived! And so, dudes, I need simple stuff. Things I don't have to think about. Claritin will do that to ya!

And I need to stitch together 17 more sheep legs, attach 6 stuffed sheep heads to 6 stuffed sheep bodies, attach 24 legs, 12 ears, and 6 tails. Then I need to do something with the velvet-looking holly and other Christmassy stuff I acquired, add plaid ribbons, yadda, yadda.

I will finish this wreath! Then I will take pictures of it.

In the meantime, I'm sticking to the simple things, at least for the moment.

Here's the progress on the little purple sweater. I made it to the armpits (coming down from the top).

I've decided that it will have no embellishment. Just plain--with some cute buttons. Three of them.

And because I have 24 balls (60 yards each) of this Bernat "Frenzy" in this garish red, I cast on a big mitered square. (240 stitches, mark the center, decrease each side of the marker every other row until 2 stitches remain. Remove the marker, knit two together. Fasten off. Weave in all ends.) At 3 stitches to the inch (give or take) I'll have a 40" (give or take) blankie when I finish.

Based on how far I got with 3 balls (1/8 of the yarn I have), I shall have plenty. (And I will use up nearly a mile of yarn!)

Answer to a question: Vanessa asked about the age of the pennies in my ammonia. I just grabbed 'em from the change bucket. Some were shiny, others weren't. None are "real old," I'm sure (all the wheat pennies get grabbed up by the family "accumulators"). There was at least 1 Canadian penny in the pile. Just typical pennies from a change bucket.

I will say that the blue is getting deeper. And that I added more ammonia today. Ammonia is a gas (dissolved in water). Heat (from the sun) will cause it to dispell (see, Mr. C, I was paying attention in chemistry class!). Same thing happens with chlorine (also a gas) if you leave a glass of water.

This one needs 5-10 days to "cook."

Saving Me from Myself

Last night I wandered over to Smiley's for a little Windows shopping. Oh, hell, lt's be honest. I do this at least once a day, sometimes more.

Right now, they have Lion CottonEase in 7 colors that I've been drooling over for a couple of weeks. I really want some for charity knitting.

It would be perfect for baby sweaters for the reservation-in this pattern . I like the pattern so much that I cast on a 6 month size in Plum Cevinia Sorrento (purchased on a previous jaunt to Smiley's). It's a keeper.

There are variations (and personal modifications) possible. I cast on initially for the hooded version, then frogged it in favor of the garter stitch collar which I think is a little more practical for tiny babies. If I have enough yarn left, I'll make a little hat.

(There really isn't too much to see is there?)

This pattern offers endless possibilities:

*Hood, or no hood
*Ties or buttons or little clasps
*Pattern in the yoke, pattern at the cuff and hem, intarsia, stranded, or knit/purl textures

It's a blank canvas that I am planning (for the moment) to leave blank.

Anyway, seeing as Smiley's has flat rate shipping (<$10) no matter how much you buy, and a $40 minimum, I shopped around, adding and subtracting from my shopping cart to the tune of $60 +/- forthe better part of a half-hour. I was in yarn heaven. (Of sorts. This is different than yarn heaven.) Then it hit me like the proverbial Ton Of Bricks.

Here's some of the sock yarn I bought on 3 previous "charity sprees." It's intended (mostly) for baby garments.

There is a boatload of it! In all colors of the sock yarn rainbow--and then some.

There is yarn, dudes! And it is washable. And suitable for babies. And much warmer (even in its thinness) than any cotton blend.

But, but, but. . .

What about troop knitting?




Small items (hats, slippers)--small amounts.

Two bushel baskets full.

Oh, so reluctantly, I closed the window.

"But what about the .99 Bumble Bee closeout? Forty-one balls of cottony softness for tiny baby sweaters and longies," I whimpered.

"Self," I said sternly, "you don't even like pink! 'Apple Blossom!' That's about as pink as it gets. Step away from the mouse. And don't look back!"

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Penny For Your Thoughts?

How about a half a cup of pennies?

I know what you are thinking! The mad scientist is at it again!

And you would be right!

(The mad scientist has also used her entire "!" allotment for the month.)

Here, we have, what I have been assured, is the beginning of a remarkable dye experiment.

Combine copper (pennies, wire, a hunk of pipe, whatever ya gots--I gots pennies) with common household ammonia (find it in the cleaning products aisle near the Windex).

I used 1/2 cup pennies

2 cups clear (not 'sudsy') ammonia

about 1/2 gallon water

Combined it all in a gallon glass jar and waited.

After about 3 hours in the sun, it was apparent that something was happening.

(Note blue color.)

Because I fear that several days soak in ammonia will seriously damage my wool yarn, I will allow the pennies to steep in the ammonia for several days (actually following directions), then dip the yarn.

Information on copper/ammonia dyeing can be found here and
here .

It seems that this an old technique. I am guessing that the original dyers used urine to cause the chemical reaction. After all, there's a lot of ammonia in pee.

Some cautions: If you are unfamiliar with ammonia, do not get it near your nose. The fumes will knock your socks off! Never mix ammonia with any product containing chlorine. The fumes from the chemical reaction can kill you.

That said, ammonia can be both useful (it's a great grease-cutter) and toxic (do not ingest it! it's poison). Keep this out of the reach of any child not old enough to understand Mr. Yuk. Okay?

Leftovers are good in the laundry and for washing windows, but make note of the caution above about sniffing the stuff!

Check back next weekend for pretty blue wool!

And speaking of pretty blue wool, this is the hat I have currently OTN. It's for Ship Support and is made of Plymouth Encore (the dark blue) and Phildar Pegase (the light blue).

It's the old "cast on X," in this case, 88. The stitch pattern(s) is from The Encyclopedia of Knitting by Stanfield and Griffiths (ISBN 0-7624-0805-7). It's called "Scandinavian Decorated Stripes."

This hat feels soft. I would like to put it right on my very own head and leave it there until the curls inflicted on me by the sweet little hair stylist at Cheap Walk-In Haircutters 'R' Us and her magic curling iron flatten out a bit. I look like a freakin' poodle! There will be no film at 11 (or any other time).

Friday, August 11, 2006

September is Mine!

One month out of 12. Is that too much to ask?

My friend Rabbitch and I were just "talking" about the possibility of Knitting For Ourselves (tm) in September.

Of course, before the thought had even gelled, we were both already thinking of reasons why not. Hers is homeless, and her husband, and Missy Moo, and other family. Mine is Ship Support and the Reservation and family, and Missy Moo.

So it seems, not even 30 days will be ours.

If not an entire month, what if, just for a month, from September 1 to September 30, before we pick up any project for anyone else, be it friend, family, or charity, what if, just once, for thirty whole days, we pick up the needles and knit for our own selfsh selves FIRST?

Are you with me?

Leave a comment!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

But Who's Counting?

I have at least 57 bits and pieces of WIP currently floating around in my "studio" (I love to throw that word around).

I have one "mystery project" in natural cotton/ack of which I will not speak except perhaps to announce its completion. There's an afghan square for Ship Support in the car (my "waiting in line" project). Last night I cast on a new "mitered square" blankie in that fuzzy red "Frenzy" that I got at the Dollar Tree a few months ago. It'll go fast on size 10.5s at 3 stitches/inch.

So, the other 54?

I need six tiny sheep. That's 6 heads, 6 bodies, 12 ears, 6 tails, and 24 legs. Fifty-four tiny parts.

Here's one tiny leg on the hoof, so to speak.

I'm using some long discontinued* Lion Brand babyAck for the white and black sock yarn (wool) for the black. On 1s.

All the body parts are done. I just need to seam and stuff. And stitch together.

Then make some knitted flowers, attach all of that to a wreath, add ribbons and a hanger.


Counting and recounting as I finished each tiny section was driving me to distraction, so when I got to the legs (cast on 8 stitches in black, knit one row. Switch to white, knit nine rows, bind off), I decided to do the black part of all 24 at once. So I did.

Cast on and knit that first row for all 24, then did the white part on each, one at a time.

At bedtime last night, I was ready to start stitching and stuffing. And so, I think my Thursday evening is planned for me.

Then, I can start the flowers. And leaves.

* The price tag on the yarn was from a store (Leh's) that has been out of business for at least 15 years. That's vintage yarn! (Picked up at a bargain price at a local thrift store.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nature at Its Finest

The girls love the great outdoors, but being older and wiser, they stay close to home while soaking up the sun.

Here's Penny, the 13-or-so tortie in her usual spot. If she can't be leaning on the Other Half, she likes the bricks. (Can you say warm?)

Sparky's sticking close to home, too. She must realize that dinner will be served soon!

She's about 10-and-a-half (please don't tell her she isn't a kitten any more).

Sparky is a Japanese bob-tail. She lost the "classic" figure when her little high maintenance mind had to go on mood elevators. Common side effect: weight-gain.

It would take 3 of Penny to equal one of her, weight-wise. Penny's petititude was a big surprise. Our last tortie tipped the scales at 18 pounds! That's a lot of cat!

Final installment (until the knitting) of the dye experimentation. Birch is on the left, marigold's on the right.

In real life, both are more intense in color. Marigold is fairly evenly colored, birch has the look of a kettle-dye, ranging from a paler yellow green to almost neon. I am pleased.

I think that they are going to need some neutralizing in the odor department though. The marigold is very funky smelling! Vinegar didn't touch it. Maybe fresh air will.

No, wait, the cotton's still soaking up color. There will be more pictures of dyeing!

Monday, August 07, 2006


After 8 days, I could wait no longer. I like the color (or the color it will be), I just can't wait!

Besides, the dye is taking on a distinct, um, stink. Sort of earthy, spicy, composty smelling, um, stink. I'm pretty sure it will air out. Oh, FSM, let it be so. . .

I've joined a Natural Dyeing listserve and posted my first/only question: Do I drain and dry, then wash/rinse and dry again, or drain, rinse, then dry?

Twenty-four hours later, I haven't received a response, so I'm winging it! Flying by the seat of my pants. I'm gonna drain it, hang it until tomorrow night, then rinse and dry completely.

I figure, it can't hurt to dry it first, but if I rinse it first, there's no going back.

We shall see.

The dye bath is foamy, and kind of fermenting, but there's still lots of pigment left, so I decided to give it another whirl. Actually, I decided to give my sassafras-dyed cotton another whirl to see if I can get a deeper shade.

First, I fished out most of the VM. I've already experienced picking VM out of this cotton!

I soaked the yarn in warm water, squeezed out the excess, and stuffed it right on into that jar-o-dye.

There's lots more bulk/yardage/weight than there was of the wool and it's pretty well filling the jar.

The dyebath is looking a whole bunch lighter, too. Hmmm. Wonder what the outcome will be.

Brighter cotton? Muddier yellow?

I have absolutely nothing to lose.

If the color is acceptable, I'll use it for a 5-hour baby sweater. If it's too dull for a baby, dishcloths 'r' us!

The saga of the ceiling continues: The contractor who had us remove the tiles was back today. The news, sports fans, is not good. Lord knows who or how, or even why the central air was installed the way it was, but it wouldn't pass current codes. Oh, my, no.

Stay tuned.

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