Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Throw the Confetti

The second pair of socks from this Confetti yarn are finished today. When I buy sock yarn I often get 3 balls instead of 2 which gives me enough for 2 pairs of socks. There was some yarn left but that's probably because these socks are a bit smaller than my usual ones knit on 64 stitches because I used metal needles to knit them. For some reason, I tend to knit tighter with metal and looser with bamboo. This means that I have to use the same type of needles if I want the two socks to match. In this case I only have one set of these aluminum needles made by Susan Bates. They are part of a complete set that comes with 4 different colour-coded sets of 5 needles (sizes 1.5, 1.75, 2.0, and 2.25 mm) and they're 7" long. If you want to see, there's a picture on this page — just scroll down a bit. I don't know how available these needles are since I got them in a trade with a knitter in the US who didn't like them. She very much did like my skein of handspun that I sent her! I do know you can't find them in Canada. I like them because there are needles that are actually smaller than 2 mm, which is the smallest most brands make, but I wish I had two complete sets. I always knit on 2 socks alternating and it was a pain substituting the next smaller set whenever I was changing over to work on the other sock. I'm going to keep an eye out for them when we go to Washington and Oregon in a couple of weeks. Anyway, if I was designing sock needles they would be 5 1/2" or at most 6" long and made of something more flexible than aluminum but that doesn't bend and break as easily as wood or bamboo does in the smallest sizes. Well, I can dream, can't I? Whether the manufacturers listen isn't a question. Of course they won't. Unless millions of sock knitters pressure them to make shorter dpns in smaller sizes, nothing will happen. Plus many sock knitters like circulars instead and they don't knit their socks as tightly as I do. One knitter's perfect needles are definitely not another's. I like different types of needles for different yarns and different projects myself. Guess that's why I have so many of them!

I got to babysit my lovely little granddaughter yesterday. Poor baby has chickenpox and has spots on her face and legs and wrists. I didn't take any pictures, not that she's old enough to get embarrassed about her looks yet! And there's no way I could have gotten a picture of her new first tooth. I did get a chance to measure her feet for a pair of socks to go with her poncho that I made for her first birthday. I'll make them a bit big so they'll fit for more than a minute. She was still her usual cheerful self even though I could tell those spots were itching somewhat. Luckily she hasn't been very sick at all. I just hope her dad's weird spots he had when he was a teenager that never were properly diagnosed give him immunity to these ones. We never were sure whether either of our kids had chickenpox or not.

In other news, the painting is done in the main part of the kitchen now. I've started painting the drawers and putting clear Contact liner on the shelves. I think we bought way too much of the clear sticky plastic but it's the same stuff I use on my book covers so it won't go to waste. It was really hard to judge how much was needed and a lot depends on how I orient the strips and how I piece it where it doesn't cover completely. Next we have to clear out the nook area and start filling, sanding, and painting again. Oh boy.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Yawn

I'm still painting, even in my dreams. It feels like I've been doing it every day forever but it's really only been a week. I can actually say that one wall is done...wait...sorry, almost done. It's the one with all the cupboards and the doors aren't even started painting yet. I didn't get as much done today because a friend invited me out to lunch and I took the opportunity got get my hair cut at the same time. It was much longer than its usual inch! It actually moved in the wind! Whoa!! Feels much better now which is good since we're going out tonight to a gala-gala-do for Thom's work. Semi-formal even. I don't know how I'm going to keep my eyes open after 9pm. What a little old lady, eh? Maybe semi-old.

Got my kumihimo swap samples into the mail. There's still a chance it'll get there before the deadline on September 1. Several people are as usual running a bit late anyway so I'm not too worried. I live the closest to the swap meister (mistress?) and some have to come from overseas. I was wrong though. It’s not New Westminster it’s going to — it’s Coquitlam which is a smidge further. Good thing I looked it up before addressing the envelope.

Started a swatch for another zip-front vest loosely based on one I saw in Vogue Knitting. I don't plan to put a hood on it though. Maybe a simple collar with the zipper going right up so I can wear it open and folded down or zipped up high to keep my neck warm. I have 2 cones of stranded wool yarn that I was gifted by a friend. It's musty smelling and dusty and each one is made from a group of fine singles wool in different colours wound together. Orange and grey are common to both and one has black where the other has white, plus a bit of green in there somewhere. If I use both of them at the same time and knit on large needles in a basket weave pattern of knits and purls I get an interesting fabric. I just washed the swatch gently but maybe I should try washing it more vigourously and see what happens. Will it stop smelling quite so musty? Does it get any softer? Does it shrink a bit? Does it get more fuzzy? This is what it looks like so far:

Not sure I need another project but who's counting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm Walking Sideways

...because I'm Crabby! I've had one of those days where I should never have gotten out of bed. First my kitchen painting was going OK until I looked back and saw...a zillion drips! I tried to fix them but the paint was drying and my brush made bad marks on the paint job. Pft. The line between the ceiling and the wall was really badly uneven too even with a fine brush. And I was doing so well yesterday. Next, the guy came over to measure for the new flooring. He instantly said we needed a subfloor, we have to move out all the furniture including the fridge (which doesn't really fit through the door except with extreme difficulty), and we can't get the new flooring installed until October after we get back from our holiday at the end of September. The good news is we won't have any seams. All this took about 15 minutes for a grand total of $50 for the privilege!

Carrying on the day's theme, I finished up the kumihimo braid for the swap. That went alright until I tried to full it in the washing machine, whereupon it inexplicably developed a knot in it that resisted the fulling. I was able to undo the knot before the second wash run so it isn't too obvious but it's still there if you know to look for it. Right after I rescued my braid, I was knitting on my current Confetti socks and found a slipped stitch. I'm talking slipped way down and way back. I wrestled with crocheting it up the more than 2 inches to the needles when I noticed another slipped stitch right beside the first one. No way was I going to be able to pick up 2 stitches and pass the place where my knitting got tight when I didn't notice the escaped stitches and kept on going. It was tight enough with one to pick up. So a-frogging that sock went and poof! went the last 2 days of knitting. Sigh. It's back to just past the gusset now. The bright side? I've got a lot more mindless knitting I can do while reading email and other people's blogs.

My poor husband got the brunt of the whining and whimpering about my lousy day when he got home from work. A hug helped though. I think I'm just over-tired — 7 or 8 hours of painting and scrubbing will do that to you. Well if you're a wimpy older middle-aged lady like me anyway. Young strong persons may find it somewhat easier. Or maybe not.

This is the beach at Carl Washburn State Park on the Oregon coast where we're going on our holiday. Hoping the weather will be reasonably cooperative, but just getting away is the goal. Doesn't it look relaxing?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Clutter

What is clutter anyway? I think it's different for different people. Some need a zen-like clear space and some can function in a disgusting pigsty. I think I'm in the middle somewhere. All the discussions I've been reading lately on clearing clutter just don't resonate with me. (Yeah, I know I've recently tidied up my dye stuff and am in the middle of painting and flooring the kitchen, but I never really threw anything out!) I feel anxious when things are too empty and stark. But I can't stand total chaos either, particularly if it's dusty or dirty. I do love my things. I actually have dreams about what I would take with me if I had to leave home suddenly. I couldn't carry it all. Couldn't even fit it in our VW van. Yes, I will confess I have that much stuff that I really care about! But it's not junk. Well, most of it isn't.

You have to understand that a lot of things in my house are just not replaceable: antique (or just plain old) furniture, handwoven curtains and rugs, handmade stained glass, and a hand-built hide-a-bed couch, just to mention a few. There's two thousand out-of-print craft books and 20-year-old magazines, notebooks of collected information from workshops and other sources, the information on my computer (yes, backed up), and a craft supply/equipment collection that no house insurance would remotely cover. Then there's the things that most people care about: the family photos and keepsakes. Don't ask me what is most important to me. It's almost (note I said almost) equivalent to picking which of my children I love best. Just don't ask me to choose. I couldn't do it.

Of course, I could survive without all that stuff. But I wouldn't be at all happy about it. One person I read about lost all her artwork and supplies when her car was broken into. She found it both devastating and freeing at the same time. Bought all new supplies and was back creating almost immediately with her work heading in a new direction. I don't ever want to find out what I would do in the same situation. So my house better not burn down or we'd better not have "the big one" earthquake in my lifetime.

On the other hand, I do like a certain amount of free space to work in. I periodically clear off the archaeological layers off my desk and work table. Sort out the papers that are piling up to be filed. And tidy up a cupboard, a bookcase, an attic space every so often. You never know what you'll find that you forgot about. Something that will spark a new project or one that just needs to be finished. I like the idea that I heard of recently of "maturing trays". You put all the items you think would go into a project and leave them there for awhile. Check the trays often and add or remove items until the ideas gel and you get a chance to complete the project. You could place one or two of these trays (could be a box or basket, just something where you can see everything in it at a glance) around your workspace so you can see them every day. This accelerates the maturing process if they're right underfoot. Just glancing around my study, I see 3 baskets with knitting, 4 more bags with knitting and spinning, 1 table with my rug hooking, and 3 trays with bead projects so I guess I'm already following this advice. Some of them aren't maturing very fast though. Glaciers move faster.

Well, I should get down to the disaster...er, kitchen and start painting the inside of the cupboards. I've got the paint now: Melted Butter for the insides and the ceilings, Arizona (somewhat darker than the Butter) for the outsides and walls, Hawaiian Cinder (dark brownish-red) for the doors. Sounds like a vacation, doesn't it? At least it'll be sunny in here during the long dark rainy winter.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Yeesh!

I was so tired last night that I fell into bed without feeding my poor cats or even remembering to put them downstairs to bed. Now that's tired! Luckily the cats can live on their leftover crunchie crumbs and their fat for one night. We spent most of yesterday scrubbing, filling, sanding, and priming the kitchen cupboards. It's amazing how long it takes to paint top, bottom, and sides of all the shelves! Only one coat so far — we don't even have the actual paint yet and the whole room needs at least 2 coats on top of the primer. This process seems to be going on at a snail's pace but there is slow progress. Today I scrubbed and spackled another section of wall and the back door. Hopefully when I get home from mom's care home this afternoon we can go get the paints mixed. I want to see colours! I want to finish one stinking wall! No pictures yet.

I have 45 minutes to re-paint the cupboards' front edges where the paint was stripped right down to bare wood. Then it's off to mom's for a rest: feeding her a snack and pushing her around in her monster wheelchair. Well it feels like a rest after all the painting.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Fun With Braids

I finished the kumihimo braid that I need for the Kumi2 CyberSwap. Or at least the prototype model that I will keep to use as a strap for a knitted fulled bag — yet to be knit of course. Now I have to do the "real thing" for the swap, in different colours because I need the rest of these ones for the bag itself. The theme is Expanding the Basics which I think I've accomplished with this braid. Kumihimo is normally done with fine silk threads or at the very least with biron which is a rayon substitute. Something shiny and slinky anyway. Andean braids are usually wool or alpaca but with a hard twist to make a strong rope for practical use. In this case I've done a Japanese braid in soft wool so that it will full in the washing machine to a solid, reasonably non-stretchy cord to coordinate with fulled knitting. Notice I don't use the word "felted." That is reserved for fabric that is made from fibres that are interlocked alone with no other technique involved. If it's woven or knitted or crocheted or whatever first, then it's "fulled."

On the left is what the braid looked like before I threw it in the washing machine with a couple of towels and detergent and hot water. I put it through 2 long wash cycles (without letting it empty) and then the cold rinse cycle. And then I took the braid on the right out of the machine.



It's now thicker and shorter than it was and very fuzzy. The fulling process fairly successfully hid the mistakes in braiding and the sloppy tension and it's just long enough for a shoulder strap. It's not too stretchy and once I got the braid into my head, it was actually much quicker to make than knitting I-cord. I think I should have attached it to the bag before fulling it but the bag doesn't exist yet! And I had to see what happened to the braid in the washer — and get my swap samples in the mail asap.

For those who care about such things, this is Braid 40, Usu Hira Se, from Makiko Tada's Comprehensive Treatise of Braids 1: Maru-dai Braids. It takes 12 - 70g bobbins with a 15 oz counterweight. I used a 2-yard warp of 4 strands of wool for each bobbin (6 of each colour), either Condon's 2ply fine (discontinued) or Quebecoise 2. I'm not sure now which is which but the green was hand-dyed by me and I think both are leftover from a handwoven blanket that I still sleep under every night. I could only do one 2-yard warp at a time because the bobbins got too full. Now to warp up the actual samples and do this all over again. And write it all up.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Demolition/Reconstruction

See my lovely demolished kitchen?It's actually coming along, though Queenie my kitchen spider has left in disgust after a foiled attempt to rebuild her demolished web in the window. (Whether she comes back or not is anybody's guess.) There were a lot of layers of paint on the cupboards so the doors didn't even close properly. Now they're almost finished being stripped and smoothed. However, all the stuff that was in that part of the kitchen is now in here:

So my dining room looks like a flea market! I've been doing the dishes in the bathroom and I'm not even going to show you the kitchen nook. I've just barely got enough space in there to do food prep — for the moment. Until we start on the nook cupboards too. Hopefully, by then I'll have stuff back in the cupboards in the main kitchen so there will be room to move everything around some more. First though we're not even finished the stripping yet. Next step: washing and priming and painting the kitchen. Are we having fun yet?

On the craft front, I obviously haven't had time to do much but I did finish one piece of the kumihimo. It's in the washing machine right now attempting to full it into something I'd want to use for a bag strap. We'll see. Meanwhile I have to set up another warp for the swap samples. I can only fit 2 yards on the bobbins at one time so I can't do it all at once. At least it goes pretty fast once I got my brain around the moves. Who knew that a mere 4 moves could be so hard? I did discover that it takes 6 repeats of the 4 moves to get the colours back to the starting point. This has been kind of fun because I've never heard of anybody fulling kumihimo before. I hope it sparks a few ideas in the swapper's minds.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Well Hooray For Me!

I finished the gloves and they fit me perfectly! How come it took almost as long to knit half-fingers as it would have to knit whole fingers? I didn't follow Marnie's suggestion in the pattern to use a double-knitting technique for them. I thought it might not have been easier since it's unfamiliar. So I went with the old tried-and-true rounds with lots of needle points sticking out. I must be pretty familiar with double pointed needles because it didn't seem all that difficult. Just time-consuming picking up stitches, casting on 2 extras, and 2 ends to sew in on each demi-finger. Another thing to cross of the ever-expanding to-do list!

Still working on the Confetti socks. They're past the heel turn and one is up to the plain rounds so I'm able to knit while reading email and blogs again. I get more done that way but it has to be simple mindless knitting that I don't need to look at very often.

Meanwhile, the kitchen is looking more and more like a major disaster area. Like after a typhoon or something traumatic. (No, I'm not taking pictures!) All the cupboard doors are off (and beautifully scraped and sanded by Thom) and all the stuff is out in the dining room all over the buffet, table, and floor. The microwave and a few basics are in the kitchen nook taking up the table. The weather better stay nice enough to eat outside for the next while because we don't have an indoor table left uncluttered! Cooking is a bit of an adventure but at least I still have a stove, fridge, nuker and hot water on tap. For the moment anyway. The hardest part is finding some of the items that are all in boxes in the dining room. We may be ordering pizza before the week is out.

Yesterday I bit the bullet and tore off all the shelf liner that I labouriously applied not all that many years ago. It was hard to do because it still looked pretty good. I have no idea whether I can find that pattern again but I'd really love to. It was dark green with gold leaves and looked like something I would stamp on cloth. It would go with the leaf theme of the flooring we're getting too. I won't hold my breath that it's still available though. If I can't find what I like I'll just get clear Mactac. I really hate painted shelves without liner for some reason. Stuff sticks to it and scratches the paint. It would be different if it had a nice wood finish or even melamine like Ikea bookcases. Now I have to use our little "mouse" sander to smooth out the inside of these vintage cupboards before applying a coat of primer to them. Oh fun.

Yeah, I'm still ignoring my kumihimo swap project. Maybe later today. I'm starting to feel guilty about not getting it done because I know swap-mom doesn't want it to be late and I'm running out of wiggle room.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Spinning Tuesday? Not!

OK, I'm changing it to Spinning Wednesday. This just isn't working out on Tuesdays. I keep trying to catch up on housework on Tuesdays instead — boring stuff like laundry, vacuuming, and changing the sheets on the bed. Can't do it on the weekend because I'm usually too busy. Can't really get into it on Monday because I'm visiting mom in the afternoon. Ditto Friday. So I end up going from Thursday to Tuesday without any major efforts in the housecleaning department, just basic stuff I do every day like cooking, dishes, feeding the cats etc. And today was a perfect day to vacuum because it was the first cooler semi-cloudy day we've had for ages. I couldn't help but take advantage of it. I even went out and picked a bucket and a half of my blackberries because it's supposed to rain some tonight and tomorrow morning. Blackberries don't much like being rained on — they mould really fast. I also tucked my wild and crazy tomatoes into their house so hopefully they'll stay dry. They're just starting to ripen and I wouldn't want that late blight to get them now that I'm finally eating some. Whew! I'm tired!

To answer the comment from Susan, the stools that I use for my marudais when I'm teaching kumihimo are small folding ones from Canadian Tire. You have to watch out for the quality though — some of them are not very good and have nicks and rough spots on the wooden top. It's kind of hard to tell that when they're shrink-wrapped in plastic. To make them, Thom took off the metal bases (they just screw on) and put the wooden tops one at a time on his lathe to cut the holes. He's done over a dozen of them for me and my students. I find them a little short to sit at in a normal chair, but you could prop them up on something sturdy to the right height for your back. My infamous Cat...er, Morris chair is actually a good height for me since it's lower than a regular dining chair. I need to get that darn braid finished and in the mail! I'm obviously putting it off.


Speaking of kumihimo, I borrowed this intriguing book from a friend. Actually I just about wrenched it out of her hands, poor dear! I will give it back as soon as I figure out how to do some of the braids in it. It was written by Makiko Tada to be used with the Hamanaka disk and plate. These are stiff foam versions of the cardboard circles and squares that I learned to braid on. I only have the circle and would rather use the real marudai anyway but some of the braids for the plate are very interesting and I'm not sure whether they can be easily done on a marudai. I'll find out or I'll be making a cardboard square! Of course the whole thing is in Japanese but there are many diagrams. Plus I have 2 friends who can read Japanese which might come in handy. And of course I will share what I find out with the friend I originally borrowed it from. She already knows how to do some of the braids in here though because she took a seminar with Makiko at the ANWG conference in Tacoma a few weeks ago. Lucky duck.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sun Fun

I've been too busy to blog this weekend so now I'm trying to catch up. Spectrum, my dye/surface design study group, met on Saturday and since it was still sunny and hot we decided to play with sun printing. Setacolor transparent fabric paints are a lot of fun to play with. Mix with water and brush over cotton cloth, arrange something that will block the drying time (the effect is not actually caused by the sun itself) and put it out where it will dry quickly. I used bracken fern and cut-leaf maple leaves for mine. Others used different leaves and feathers. Leaf skeletons didn't work as well due to not blocking the drying enough to make a good print. Coarse salt sprinkled on made interesting patterns as did just scrunching up the painted fabric and let it dry (top left in photo). In the bottom right is the piece (kind of ugly methinks!) that I did with a monoprinting technique. On a piece of plexi I sponge rolled some drips of fabric paint. Using a leaf stamp I stamped into the paint from the plexi which picked it up and then stamped it on the fabric (extreme right of that piece). After doing that a few times I then put the rest of the fabric over the plexi and rolled it with the brayer to transfer the negative image to the cloth beside the stamping. I think I should have used more paint for a better image or else it was drying too quickly because the monoprint was somewhat disappointing. I'll have to try this again when it's cooler and damper. Note that the rainbow blips you're seeing on this photo are from a large crystal hanging in the window with the sun shining through it! I didn't think they'd show up this well!

The reason why the sun printing technique works is because the pigments that are in the paint have room to shift when water is added diluting the binder that usually keeps them in place. These pigments migrate out to wherever the cloth is drying the fastest. Putting something over the cloth keeps that spot from drying as quickly as the areas out in the sun. This effect also works indoors with a warm lamp over it, just sitting out (less intense image), or even in a dark closet (faint image) so obviously it isn't the action of the sunlight itself that makes it work. Wherever the leaves weren't contacting the cloth closely, the image is fainter because the cloth underneath those parts dried more quickly. Notice on the scrunched piece the darkest areas are the tops of the mountains and the lightest areas are down in the valleys. You might not be able to see it in the photo, but I mixed in a little metallic opaque fabric paint (bronze) and it helped create a network of fine lines in the lighter areas. Yummy! I love this technique — just don't try it on a windy day. You can't put anything over the cloth to hold the items down if they're very light and if you pin things sometimes the pins show up. See that white spot at the end of the green fern stem (corner of the cloth) in the centre of the photo? That was a small rock! I was concerned the fern would move but I actually had to peel it off when all was dry.

What else?
There's the fingerless gloves (Hooray For Me), one with 3 half-fingers now — an increase of one finger in...oh, about 4 days. 5 more to go. The Confetti socks are up to the heel flaps, both of them. No boring pics of them until I'm a bit farther along. No more sewing, no weaving (though I did buy a weaving book, the first one in ages so there's hope yet), and no more tidying. Actually there has been destruction instead. The kitchen is beginning to look like a war zone as the cupboard doors get taken off and stripped. Now I have primer paint and a new brush so I have to start cleaning out the insides and putting on a coat of primer. The whole room has to be primered because we're changing from alkyd paint to latex and it won't stick properly without the primer. (Ask me how I know.) Interestingly this is only the 3rd time we've painted the kitchen in 26 years. Anyway I guess if we're going to do this, we might as well do it right. This is an older house — over 70 years old — and we're not planning to move (ever!) so anything we do will be something we can enjoy ourselves for a very long time. But, man, is it a lot of work!

And poor Queenie! I'm worried that she'll move out permanently when we start painting her corner. But even for my spider buddy I'm not going to leave it untouched. She'll just have to take her lumps or take a hike. We'll try to be gentle but I have no idea how much disruption and paint smell (taste?) she'll tolerate. But I'm sure we'll find out.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Multidirectional Triangle Scarf

Here's my version of the Multidirectional Triangle Scarf hot off the needles. I used one skein of wool that was spun from some dye-painted roving. It was an experiment in spinning 4 lengths of similarly painted roving onto 2 bobbins and then plying to keep the colours somewhat together. There are areas in the yarn where the colours in the two plies are the same and areas where they are different. Since I only had one skein I wasn't sure what to use it for but this pattern from Iris Schreier of ArtYarns is perfect!

I had a wee bit of trouble in the last triangle section but a message to the Multidirectional Yahoogroup from a knitter who had the same problem really helped. So did a good night's sleep and rereading the directions! Here's the finished scarf and a detail:


I only had about 5 yards of yarn left after knitting the scarf. It was nip and tuck there for awhile, but I just ignored how much yarn I was using and just knitted. If the worse came to the worst I'd just pull it out and frog back one equilateral triangle. But luckily, I didn't have to! This is the leftover ball:


Not much left, huh?

Details of my MD Triangle scarf -
Yarn: 125 g skein of approx. sport weight yarn, about 400 yards total
Needles: size 7 (4.5mm)
Gauge: 18 st = 4"
Finished size: 5" wide by 64" long

So nice to cross another thing off my UFO list!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Not Another Thing?

OK beat me with a wet skein — I started yet another project today. Well this actually one that I promised months ago and was putting off. It's a swap for the Kumi2 Yahoogroup and I need to get it in the mail soon. It's only going to New Westminster (2 cities over) so I've been stalling because I don't really feel like braiding right now. So I decided that I would use wool and try fulling the finished braid for a handle for a knitted bag (one that doesn't exist yet, of course). I found a nice kumihimo braid called Usu Hira Se ("thin flat stream") that uses 12 bobbins and only 4 moves. Simple right? Not. For starters wool is hard to work with. Unlike silk, it sticks to itself and it's stretchy too so the tension is always wacko. I'm trying to make a large braid so 4 strands of 2ply (commercial but dyed by me) per bobbin. Now I discover that the two yarns are slightly different sizes. Soldier on anyway. I keep making braiding mistakes which is silly since there are only 4 moves. The colours keep shifting and putting me off because they don't go back to "home base" for many repeats. I tried to count but I'm still not sure how many! I have to stop often and readjust everything which ruins my rhythm. I still haven't tried fulling this darn thing yet, but I hope it hides some of my mistakes! See the blurry bobbins in the picture? They were swinging around anxiously waiting for me to continue braiding! I fooled 'em and took a break. My brain and my back were both hurting. BTW, this is not my best marudai (braiding stool) — this is one of my "teaching" marudais made from a folding stool with a hole in the middle of the seat.

I've also gotten quite a bit further on the Multidirectional Triangle scarf. It's already considerably longer than the pattern suggests. I like long narrow scarves so I can wrap them around more than once. I might as well use up all the yarn in this one and only skein. No use having yet one more little ball of yarn left over.

Oh goodie! I don't have to cook dinner tonight. My mother-in-law is taking us out to dinner at our favourite Thai restaurant. Well actually we're taking her there, but she's paying! And I don't have to cook but I do have to be careful not to blow the old diet too far. I've lost 2 pounds recently with great difficulty and I sure don't want to put them back on again. Remind me to go easy on the rice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Further Adventures in Cleaning and Storage

It took me longer than I thought but I finally finished cleaning and organising the dye cupboards I mentioned in my August 1st post. Check this out:



There isn't really any less stuff in there, more actually if you include the baskets and shelves. It just all fits much more efficiently. I'm so proud of me — I keep running downstairs and admiring! Now we'll see if I can actually keep it this neat.

I actually spun on Tuesday. I now have two skeins of that dye-painted yarn plied with black. See?

Hopefully that's enough to use for something nice. I'll post it on here when I find out what it will be when it grows up. Another skein that finally decided what it wanted to be is now becoming my Multidirectional Triangle Scarf. I'm halfway there. Want a teaser? Here it is as it was yesterday morning:

It's a lot longer and more colourful than that now. There was a whole section of that magenta and another one is going to pop up soon. It keeps me knitting just to see what's next. I'm liking this a lot, even if I didn't really need another scarf. It's giving me garment ideas too. Uh-oh.

The gloves still only have two fingers. They've been cast aside for this scarf, poor things. But they're in good company with all the other languishing UFOs around here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

We Have Pictures Today

It's working again! Here's the pics I tried to post yesterday of my granddaughter Kiera's first birthday. On the left, here's the Birthday Girl all proud of herself after crawling all the way up the back stairs and across the deck into the kitchen door. Too cute, eh? On the right she's opening presents with her mom, the lovely Bronwen. Shredding paper is fun! And I think she's going to be a reader like her daddy and auntie Cel. Notice the cool ankle bracelet made for her by my 7-year-old nephew Nico who's visiting from Mexico. Very chic! Kiera actually left it on for most of the afternoon.



Then we have the post-party scene: Birthday Girl is exhausted. So is her granny! I'm pretty good at putting her to sleep. Must be my boring personality, doncha think? That sling is worth it's weight in the price of my physiotherapist! She might look little but hat kid is heavy when you lug her around for awhile.



Look, I'm wearing the nifty notted (sorry) knotted necklace and earrings my baby sis made. See how well it goes with my black dress? Here's a not-too-wonderful scan of the set so you can see it a wee bit better. Those are cute little multicoloured lampwork beads (purchased of course) on a heavy cord. Simple but effective. She was fascinated with Thom's lampwork beads so if she has time before she goes back to Mexico, he's going to teach her how to do it. What I didn't show is the lovely teal green velvet bag with bead fringe that it came in. She spoils me.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Everyone Survived

The birthday party for my granddaughter went off without a hitch yesterday — more or less. However, I don't seem to be able to post any pictures today. What gives, Blogger? I want to show off the one-year-old birthday girl (tomorrow's the real day actually) and the nifty knotted necklace and matching earrings that my baby sister who's up from her home in Mexico made me. (So I got a prezzie too!) Maybe tomorrow adding pictures will be more cooperative. Or I may have to resort to the Hello software. Ick.

I'm glad it's over though. I'm not like the infamous Martha Whats-er-name. Can't throw a party for 25 at the drop of an invitation. I find it stressful to try to take everyone into consideration. What will I serve? Will I have enough of everything to satisfy all? Does anyone have diet restrictions or allergies (besides me!)? Will everyone behave themselves and not drink too much so they're safe driving home? Will the lineup for the one bathroom get too long? That kind of thing. Stressful, I tell you.

On to the next thing. Silly me — I couldn't just finish one of my UFOs before I started something else. Uh-uh. Gotta get in on a knit-along started by Iris Schreier, list-mom over at the multidirectional Yahoogroup. She's the queen of directional short-row knitting, author of two books, and owner of ArtYarns handpainted yarns and patterns to go with them. Iris offered everyone a free pattern if they introduced themselves on the list. The thing that got me was the offer of another free pattern for those who took part in the KAL of the first pattern. All I had to do was add my yarn & needles & gauge to a group database and post the picture somewhere for all to see when it's done. Easy-peasy. I have this perfect skein of yarn that I spun from some dye-painted roving I made after one of my dye classes just to use up the excess dye. It's in wonderful shades of browns, subtle reds, a bit of muted blues, and a touch of screaming magenta and it looks fabulous knitted into the Multidirectional Triangle Scarf. I don't really need another scarf but hey, this yarn was itching to be this particular scarf. Forgive me. I'm weak!

So after I knitted about a foot on the MTS, I felt guilty and concentrated on putting some half-fingers on my Hooray For Me gloves. I got a thumb and a pointer finger on each glove now but it took a rediculously long time, much of which consisted of picking up stitches, figuring out which colour bits of my self-patterning yarn to use, and darning in loose ends. Not a lot of actual knitting. Only 6 more half-fingers to go.

Other News
Thom took some of the doors off my kitchen cupboards to start stripping the paint off them. It took him 2 hours to do one door so with 12 more plus 3 drawer fronts, this process is going to take quite a bit of time. Plus there's sanding, filling, undercoating, removing the quarter-round, pulling up the flooring, sanding, having the flooring installed, painting the whole room, re-lining the shelves, and hopefully refinishing the rusting sink's surface somehow. Unfortunately, the sink is not replaceable, due to both it's old-fashioned shape and size, and also to the fact that it's tiled in with vintage irreplaceable tiles. I guess the kitchen reno is on in earnest! I'll be living with a disaster for months to come.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hot Hot Friday

No pictures today — it's too stinking hot to even think about what to show off. AC? Who needs AC in our maritime climate? There's only about 5 days a year when it would be useful. Just about as useful as a snow shovel (though you better have one anyway in case). However, this is one of those 5 days. Best I can do is a big oscillating fan that doubles as a swamp cooler when you fill it with water. Oh yeah! Why didn't I fill it with water? Silly me.

So I was merrily plying my second skein-worth of dye-painted and black singles together when (you guessed it) I ran out of black. So now I'm spindle spinning more to finish. Why is it when it doesn't matter if I have too much black left over, I keep running out of it first? Must be a sub-corollary of Murphy's Law specifically for spinners. So that skein isn't finished yet.

I've gotten up to just before the half-fingers on the Hooray For Me gloves, both of them. Not bad since I only knit on them while reading email and blogs. Wait a minute...I must read too much on the computer to get this far so fast. Oh well, I have to stop reading and concentrate to get the fingers done right. Obviously these gloves aren't finished either.

And I also have to fix my TV knitting, the Confetti socks. I'm using leftovers (buy 3 balls and get 2 pairs of socks!) and had to join a new ball. The tricky bit is joining it in the right place in the yarn's pattern sequence. I got it wrong the first time — joined the wrong end of the ball so the sequence was backwards. Sheesh. The next trick is to make the join as invisible as possible. Sock yarn is slippery stuff so it needs a bit of doubling back on itself to hold. This join is in the middle of the heel stitch, a spot where you don't want it to rub. Oddly enough I'm only at the ribbing on the second sock so I can knit on that one awhile before I have to do a join on it too. If I stall long enough I'll have to do them both at the same time. OK, another thing not finished yet.

See a pattern here?

I did get several more plastic baskets for my dye cupboards. It's nice and cool down there in the basement. I'm avoiding it. Hmmm...Could it be I'm not enjoying fiddling with packets and jars of questionable dyestuff while wearing a mask and gloves to avoid breathing in the dust and developing multi-coloured fingers and lungs? Tomorrow. When I'm not running around buying groceries for Sunday's birthday party and cleaning the bathroom so guests don't run screaming...er, gross out...er, turn up their noses at my lack of good housekeeping. After all, we only have one bathroom around here. Maybe we should have looked into renting a port-o-pottie for the approximately 30 people who could potentially show up?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Or Maybe Spinning Thursday Too?

Somebody stole my spinning chair! Maybe Ms Julie thinks I should spin her fur too, huh? It almost matches the black wool. Nope, my cats are not Fibre Animals unfortunately. Except that my house is covered in their fur — which sounds like a paradox, doesn't it? I've actually tried spinning both my cats' fur and it wasn't pretty at all and too short to hold together as yarn. I'd have to blend it with something but why bother? It's ugly and kind of prickly and not worth it. I really think Julie just likes stealing my chair when I vacate it for a minute because it's warm!

I've almost finished spinning up enough black yarn to ply with the dye-painted stuff I spun last week. Two skeins — I wonder what I'll make with it? Right now I'm just happy to get some spinning done.

I haven't done any more sewing since Tuesday. It's supposed to be the hottest day of the year here today so I shouldn't wait until my studio heats up. But wait! My chair is free! I'm going back to spinning first. The black/gray shirt can wait. Damselfly is on a spinning roll right now.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Spinning Wednesday?

Well, as the observant may have noticed, I missed out on Spinning Tuesday yesterday. So I started this morning (after washing last night's dishes) with some relaxing spinning. Now the cat has stolen my favourite spinning chair! Not much to show yet so instead I'll show off yet another finished garment:


This was what kept me from spinning yesterday. I was bound and determined to complete this tunic or maybe it's a smock. Not too au courant, eh? After all, I don't even know when I cut it out or how long I've had the fabric. It's been that long! The pattern is modified from one I bought in the mid-'70's. This is number 4 from this Vogue pattern and number 2 of the modified version. I got so much wear out of the last 3 of these that I wore them out! I've changed the sleeves to no cuffs (so I can wind them up when they get in my way) and extended the collar and widened the neckline to match because it was choking me. That adjustment is why I notice in retrospect that the top 2 buttons are too close together. I should have re-spaced them. Silly me. You can't see from the picture, but the fabric is a tiny houndstooth check in black and dark red. So the black buttons aren't really as odd a choice as they look. I sewed them on with red thread and I like the effect. The advantage of not working at a "real job" is you can wear whatever you like whether it's stylish or not.

While reading my email I knit a bit more on the Hooray For Me fingerless gloves so they are just past wristwarmers now. Plus I got almost one heel done on the UFO Confetti sock. This is my TV knitting and we rented "Million Dollar Baby", the Clint Eastwood flick last night so lots of knitting time there. (There's sure nothing good on TV! Everything half-decent gets moved around so you can't find it and then cancelled because nobody's watching it. Phooey.) I'm going to start on the second sock before going further on the first one. That old SSS lurks always in wait to snag the unwary!

Rant Alert

I heard today that one of my sisters-in-law is now almost totally housebound by pain. She is only two years older than me. Now that's scary! She is the same one I mentioned in one of my previous posts who is morbidly obese. I don't mean fat. Fat is normal. I mean something close to 300 lbs. As you might expect she has a large number of health problems related to this. And they're always somebody else's fault. She blames the doctors for not making her better. If she didn't like what they said, she changed doctors. This does not compute with me — did the doctors make her eat too much of the wrong things? Did they cause her to get into a catch-22 of it being too painful to exercise/too painful to sit around? She's tried every quack cure/supplement/diet known and never kept up any of the good things long enough to get results. She even tried having her stomach stapled and all that did was nearly kill her. The rest of her stomach stretched back out to compensate. If you can't take responsibility for what passes your lips what can you control in this life? I'm not blaming her for her illnesses, but I am blaming her for not really doing anything about it for herself. Doctors can only help so much and you have to be willing to help yourself and do the things you know you need to do to stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can. You owe it to yourself to do your best with what you've got. Take responsibility! Shit happens enough on its own without contributing to it.

End of rant.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm Stuck!

I'm trying to lose the last 10 pounds that I need to get rid of. I've been very very good for the last week and I've lost a total of one pound. Waahhh!! Not good enough. I'm sticking with eating carefully though. I'm not giving up yet! This weight has got to go. I want to be 125 lb. again like I was in my late 20's. They do say the last 10 pounds are the hardest. Totally! The tricky thing is going to be Sunday at my granddaughter's first birthday party which will be here on the deck. I guess running around catering to about 30 people will help keep me away from the food. I'll have to keep away from the drink too and that's harder. What's a party without a glass of wine? Out, out damn blubber!

Craft Report
See my glove so far? It's not only fingerless but handless! The second glove is up to the end of the ribbing though so I'm farther ahead than I look. Purty colours, eh? I'm increasing between the stitch markers every 3rd row for the thumb gusset. Gee, that hand looks like it could use a manicure! Gardening with your bare hands is not conducive to nice nails but it's too hot out there to wear gloves.


Remember the cupboards yesterday? I've made a big mess out of them now and I need more plastic baskets (at least 4) to get things back on the shelves. Guess it's another run to Home Despot in my future. Well, I have way too many ancient wool dyes that were gifted to me by a number of people who've retired from dyeing or decided to change dye types. Some I'm sure must be 25 or 30 years old and of dubious function. I need to test them somehow but that's such a tedious procedure. If I use the canner (used for dye only) I can only test 7 dyes at a time. If I dye paint some roving and nuke it, I can do more at one time but it's harder to tell if the dye is good. No matter what you do you still lose some down the drain even if it's good dye. It doesn't get a chance to completely exhaust unless it's immersion dyed. Decisions, decisions...

Meanwhile, my work counter is covered in dyes and a bunch need to be rebottled or combined. At least if the Procion dyes are no good anymore, they will still work as acid dyes. Though the old ones should also be tested for their original use as cotton dyes. Nothing like trying to get a specific colour and having half of it wash down the drain! I keep buying new dyes for when I want consistent results which means that the old stuff doesn't get used up. I just can't bear to throw anything out if it's still good! And I haven't even discussed the natural dyestuffs. Many of them take up a lot of space for the equivalent dye power of a teaspoon of synthetic dye. This job is not going to be quickly done.

Guess I should take advantage of the cool morning today and get some more sewing done.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Cleaning and Storage

Gee, that title doesn't sound very exciting, does it? Actually, I've been having a great time slowly getting more organized around here. I know, according to my previous posts I'm already disgustingly organized but that's just not good enough yet! There are quite a few areas where my magic wand hasn't been waved yet.

Case in point, these two cupboards in my basement dye studio/laundry room:



Apart from the catfood and kitty litter on the bottom shelf of the one on the right, these cupboards are chock-a-block full of my dyes, chemicals, assists, botanical dyestuffs, fabric paints, paint/paste tools, and polymer clay tools. The shelves are tall necessitating stacking of small jars and bottles. Not good. Things have a tendency to fall over and I have to dig for the one I really want in the bottom at the back. So I bought a bunch of storage items yesterday: metal racks, stacking plastic baskets with handles, and a little 3-drawer box. I might (probably!) need more, but I'm starting with these just to see how they work out and which ones are the most useful. I'll post pictures of the results when I'm done.

Today is blessedly cooler than it has been for the last few weeks. It was almost 30ยบ C. up here in the study/studio last evening. Even with the fan my eyeballs were melting. I know that doesn't sound all that hot to those who've already been sweltering through this summer back east and south, but for us on the Wet Coast it's pretty much as hot as it gets. I am not a hot house flower. That wee bit of rain we had last night wasn't enough to water things much however. Now it's sunny and really windy and they say it's going to heat back up again this week. Better take advantage of the coolness while I can. Back to the sewing machine!

By the way, I've been messing with my blog template again. I think the text is somewhat more readable now for those of us with older eyes. (Yes, luckily my eyes didn't actually melt away yesterday!) If anybody reads my blog, do let me know if anything looks wonky, eh?