Friday, November 30, 2007

On The Rolling Sea

Or at least that’s what it feels like. No, I don’t feel any better today, darn it. Showering this morning was very interesting — like being on a boat. As an old sailor, I’d like to think I can handle some rough water. I always have one hand for me and one for the boat…er, house. At least it isn’t constant but more like it comes and goes, especially when I get up. Thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts. It will go away soon. Sooner would be even better.

Meanwhile I got quite a bit of knitting done on the Hepburn Cardi and some on the OYT Socks. I tried dyeing some Sisu (superwash wool and nylon) yarn for Granddaughter Socks. The request was for pink but my first try came out very bright indeed!

That was 3 different red dyes and what I thought was a microscopically teensy bit of dye sprinkled lightly over. But the superwash wool soaks up dye colour like a sponge so it never got a chance to blend at all. Next try was a little better:

I put just a splash of red dyestock in the acid water and popped in the pre-wetted skein. Which immediately sucked up all the dye anywhere it touched! The water was instantly clear and I hadn’t even nuked it yet (which I did anyway to increase the colourfastness). It’s still quite variegated pink and white but I think it’s much more acceptable since it’s wanted to go with a party dress and silver shoes. (Quite the elegant dresser, my KiKi is!) I’ll still knit the first yarn into another pair but the lighter one goes on the needles first.

This exercise made me realize that if I wanted a more homogenous and pale pink with this yarn, I’d have to start with no acid in the water and possibly some salt to slow down the uptake. Then soak the skein in the dye for awhile before adding the acid. That would give the dye a chance to reach all the fibre before the acid makes it stick permanently. I did want some mottling and variegation but not quite to the extent that I got, especially on the first skein. I wasn’t really thinking it through or measuring carefully and just letting serendipity slap me upside the head. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not particularly fond of pink? My granddaughter loves it though, like most little girls, so that’s what she gets.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why Me?

I woke up today with the return of the labyrinthitis (inner ear imbalance) that I had last winter. Oh joy. Drunk again without the pleasure of having had a drink! Apart from seriously dizzy, I don’t really feel sick and since even my doctor doesn’t know exactly what causes my version of it, we can’t do anything about it but wait it out. It usually only takes a few days before it’s mostly gone. Good thing I have stuff I can do while sitting around. The steep stairs in my house make me nervous and I get tired of bumping into walls and furniture. However I can’t spend too much time on the computer either because the words start dancing on the screen and my eyes get tired trying to keep up. This will be a short post! Then I’ll go back to spinning and knitting. At least I got my Palm refilled with lots of podcasts to listen to and its battery all charged up.

Here’s the final finished group of “peary dustcatchers”. (Thanks, Sharon, for that apt description!)

Wooly Pears

Begun: November 11, 2007

Completed: November 24, 2007

Yarn: handspun wool, mostly 2-ply acid-dyed and approximately worsted weight, some a bit thinner and some thicker. One brown is natural coloured Corriedale. Light green is a singles. The blue-green was the one that didn’t felt at all and was eliminated. A lot of this yarn is very ancient!

Needles: Denise size 7 (slightly smaller than the pattern called for)

Stuffing: dark grey Birkeland Bros coarse wool roving

Pattern: Wooly Pears by Nicky Epstein from Interweave Knits Holiday 2006 issue, cover.

Comments: I’ve been commenting on these in process all along but to recap, four of these were knitted out of the russet/gold yarn (and one of them had the extra hatching in dark rust). Two of them were fulled in Tide Free and they lost the russet dye, turning golden instead, including the one with the hatching. Also the wool I used for the leaves didn’t full properly so I removed them and replaced with a different green yarn in a slightly reduced leaf size. The green pear was fulled twice before it reached proper size and its leaves were also changed before the second fulling. For that one I used Orvus instead of laundry detergent and the second pair of pears didn’t lose colour. They are much darker, looking more like Bosc pears than Bartletts. The stuffing was dark grey wool which also fulled some to give the pears a bit of weight and density that they wouldn’t have with poly stuffing. They’re a little smaller than most real pears, just fitting in my hand. The bowl they are shown in on the photo was turned by T-Man on his lathe.

I’m outta here. My eyes have nystagmus, aka “undesired eye motion” and I need to stop looking at the screen. Argghhh…good thing I don’t get motion sick easily.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Brain Is Full

My weavers’ guild has finally set up a website. I’ve been hinting/complaining/requesting/suggesting one for about 10 years now but it took the current president to get things rolling in the right direction. We are lucky to have the famous Sweet Georgia as a member and she has the programming and designing chops to set us up. However at some point we have to take over the day-to-day content stuff and I got suckered…er, asked to be the official Guild Website Chairperson. We had a meeting yesterday to get started but we’re still feeling our way around. This morning I went to the software’s main website (Drupal, an “open-source content management platform”) and got completely lost right off the bat. I just want to learn what some of the stuff means and how to tweak it a bit. Why can’t these people speak English instead of Tech-Talk? At least in the beginner levels? I can see further meetings with Felicia in the future. Unfortunately none of the rest of the committee remotely resembles a computer programmer, except perhaps Yoriko who set up the FibreEssence website totally in HTML script. She unfortunately is nearly as out of her depth as the rest of us here. We have many questions.

So of course nothing else has really been happening around here. Today it’s dark and rainy with a chance of snow mixed in and not terribly conducive to photography. A pity as I was hoping to finally show the 5 Wooly Pears together and get that FO off my list. Instead I’m going to turn to my podcasts on iTunes and knit on the Hepburn Cardi. I measured and it takes me an hour to knit 8 rows on the two sleeves. Yikes! I’m so slow I’m never going to finish this until I’m old and grey. Oh wait. Too late. Anyway it’ll probably be summer when I don’t need it. I’m trying to persist so I can at least feel like I’m getting something accomplished.

I also have to write up a project for my Complex Weavers Beads & Interlacements Study Group exchange. It’s due on Saturday but luckily it’s a virtual exchange so I only have to email a PDF to the coordinator. The theme is “Free For All” so I thought I’d use my wrist counter/abacus since perhaps folks aren’t familiar with this cool tool. I even have stitch markers to match. I need to take some more photos though so I’m hoping for it to brighten up. Doesn’t look too promising.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Silly me realized that I’d forgotten to give you the scoop on the OXO cuffs when I showed them finished yesterday. So here it is:

OXO Cuffs

Begun: November 5, 2007
Completed: November 22, 2007

Yarn: Cashmerino 2-ply laceweight yarn, leftovers from Swallowtail Shawl. Dyed in acid dyes. Only took maybe 10 g! This stuff never gets used up. Purchased at Birkeland Bros.
Needles: Clover Takumi 5” bamboo dpns, 2 mm
Pattern: Wedding Cuffs by Nancy Bush, Piecework May/June 2006, p40

For Comments, see yesterday's post.

At our Ravelry meetup yesterday I brought my wheel, Tori, in her backpack and got half a bobbin of the darkest madder spun up into singles. The roving is not too bad and just needed to be stripped down and pre-drafted some to become cooperative. Siobhan came for the first time (she’s not on Ravelry – yet!) and brought her Ashford Knitter’s Loom so we had 3 knitters a spinner and a weaver in total. That covered a fair bit of the fibre spectrum for sure! Got a few looks from folks at The Grind but nobody got up enough gumption to ask questions. We all managed to control ourselves from initiating a yarn crawl afterwards this time. Our collective stashes must not need enhancing right at the moment. It worked out fine for me carrying Tori and my neck isn’t too sore, or at least much worse than it has been lately.

The weather turned out nice today and not even as cold as it has been for the last few days. No frost this time. Which reminds me, if you were wondering what those berries were from my last post, that’s my pyracantha, aka firethorn, looking very festive. If you don’t know it, this is a very nice evergreen shrub with pretty tiny white flowers in spring and bright berries (some varieties have orange or yellow ones instead of red) that the birds like to eat in winter. Technically speaking they aren’t really berries but “pomes”, like teensy little apples. Not especially edible though not toxic. It’s not fussy as to where it grows and it doesn’t have much in the way of diseases or pests to bug it. The only thing to watch out for is the nasty thorns on the stems! For that reason it makes a great trespasser deterrent. And it’s not nearly as bad as hawthorn at puncturing tires or as bad as blackberries at attacking you. T-Man has been on a multi-year program of disposing of the last of our ugly hawthorn hedge with only a few more to go. The blackberries, on the other hand, get pruned and tied back and generally fussed over all on account of their yummy produce. Even though they are considered an unwanted pest that doesn’t stop folks from coming by with buckets to pick our berries on the outside of the fence. There’s still plenty on my side for our use so we don’t mind. Just wish they’d all come back to help when it’s time to prune! As if.

Short post with no photos today. I’m going to spend some quality time with my poor Hepburn Cardi who has been ignored for the past few weeks. I’d like more than the bit of sleeves I have so far. And there’s a bunch of podcasts I haven’t heard yet.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Verrry Interesting

Yup, I’ve been somewhat MIA for the last few days. I got rather busy and time flew by with never a moment to blog. My friend Jo did indeed come over on Wednesday for a spinning lesson. She had a lovely and very interesting spindle made by Viking Santa, a name I had not heard of before. Apparently he’s in Delta, BC (not far away) and also makes bobbins for lacemaking. His spindles have a wonderful barley twist to give better grip and his whorls are nicely dished to be rim-heavy for a long spin. Jo had received hers as a gift from a friend. She did quite well at beginner yarn, using the park-and-draft method at first but shifting to free-fall fairly quickly. She emailed me later to say she’d plied a bit up and knitted a wee swatch from it. Her very first yarn! What a treasure!

Meanwhile T-Man is of course very interested in the shape of Viking Santa’s spindles and the barley twist is especially fascinating. Maybe one day I’ll have a T-spindle to call my own. For now I make them out of toy wheels and dowels or buy other people’s turnings. No biggie. I’m patient. At least I have T-made nosties, several of them in fact. And I know how to use ’em too.

Thursday I went to my friend Kirsten’s house for “Spectrum-Lite”, a mini version of our usual once-a-month gathering. Four of us equal half of the Spectrum membership and while they were felting scarves, I knitted like a mad fiend and finally finished my second OXO Cuff:

These are rather teensy but warm. Kind of like wearing wooly jewelry. If I had enough patience I could have repeated the pattern and made them longer but they are cute and fairly functional the way they are. I got very tired of the twisted stitch pattern just about the time that it got to be sunk into my brain. I also had a leetle accidental with the chart I was following. I spilled tea all over it and never noticed until the next morning when it looked like this:

Kind of interesting in a “paper arts” kind of way. But not legible at all. Just shows you how water-soluble my HP printer inks are, eh? I just printed me out a new one and carried on to the end.

Speaking of water, the Wensleydale wool made the most interesting felt. If you layer it very thinly (one ounce makes about 8” x 70” when finished) it develops almost a lace-like texture:

Afterwards, some of the Wensleydale scarves were dyed in an instant indigo vat and some were left natural white:

Very cool. They were also working on nuno felt in patterns over silk chiffon (which in this case didn’t really scrunch up as much as was expected) and also some thin merino-tencel felt (which worked properly). I’m not really interested as much in felt scarves though I have the materials and equipment to do some of my own. Eventually.

On Friday, T-Man had the day off so we walked downtown in the glorious but freezing sunshine to get our passport applications in. It only took one and a half hours in the Canada passport office which apparently is very good timing. It will now take a couple of weeks to actually receive the passports but we weren’t planning on going anywhere anyway. I also found out that my BC-ID is crap and needs to be renewed. It’s tough when you don’t have a drivers’ license. You become a non-person. However my other ID seemed to be good enough for them to process my passport anyway. Whew! I’ll wait for my passport before I go to the motor vehicles branch to apply for the ID and hopefully it will help facilitate things.

Today I finally finished fulling the rest of the pears and guess what? I used Orvus this time instead of Tide Free detergent and it didn’t lose it’s colour like it did last time! I don’t have yellow pears like the first ones. I have gold and rust pears. And one green one that finally shrank almost as much as the others. It just needed more fulling than they did because the wool was Romney instead of maybe Corriedale? Not sure exactly. Might be Perendale. Interesting though hey? In laundry detergent (possibly alkaline with additives) it lost colour but in neutral Orvus (mostly sodium laurel sulphate) it didn’t. I’ll have to remember that for the future. Obviously some dyes are sensitive even after they are part of the fibre. Of course, it was probably not an acid “milling” dye which could explain it. Photo to come when they dry. A couple of days from now. It’s cold outside! But the rain is supposed to be coming back.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nuthin Much

Today was a day for finishing up a few things and getting on with a few more that couldn’t actually be finished today. I finally after a couple of months got all my recent books covered with clear plastic. Yes, I do that to all my books. If they are flimsy paperbacks or have paper dust jackets (which includes nearly every book I own) it keeps them in much better condition over time. Every book also sports an imprint of one of my hand-cut rubber stamps and my name and the year I acquired it. My magazines have “collection of…”stickers and the whole shebang including my personal or workshop notebooks are all inventoried in a computer file which is backed up in two places. I’m disgustingly organised. At least where my library is concerned. I have had actual nightmares about things happening to my precious library so I’m doing my best to keep it safe.

I got the ribbing done on the next pair of plain socks for T-Man and am just starting to knit on the leg of one of them. The yarn is new to me, On Your Toes, which ostensibly has an aloe vera finish on it though I’m not sure I can tell in any way. The colour is a nice dark brown heather. See?

I also wound one of my white balls of Sisu into a skein in order to dye it in pale pinks for my granddaughter to go with her new silver party shoes and pink and white dress. She is such a princess! Neither her mom nor I am particularly fond of pink but KiKi likes it so that’s what she gets. Maybe I’ll include a bit of lace at the top of the sock for her. Just to make knitting with pink yarn a bit more bearable for me!

Tomorrow my buddy Jo is coming over to learn how to spin. She’s a fabulous knitter and is weaving quite competently now too plus she already learned how to dye in my Dye Studio so we’re creating a Textile Monster…er, Master…er, Mistress? Whatever. She’s hooked! She even got a part time job at my second LYS, Three Bags Full. I’m not sure whether that adds any money to her purse or just yarn to her stash though. I know I never made any money when I worked at Birkeland’s. They got it all back plus much more.

Note to Sharon: Honey, just harness your inner Martha and decorate with those pears! An attractive bowlful will take you right through late Fall and the entire Holiday Season with style and panache. Alternatively, they could receive a hanging thread and go on The Tree representing the first of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Later it could be felted birds and drums and cute milkmaids…gee, I don’t know. I just wanted one pear for a gift exchange. They got away from me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Peary Funny

I knitted new leaves for my Wooly Pears, stitched up and stuffed the final two, fulled the leaves for the already-felted ones and stitched them on. Now all I have to do is felt the last 2 and the odd green one again. Then I will have 5: one for my guild exchange, 3 for me and one more to give away to someone. I was really surprised how much of the original dye had come out when I put the felted and un-felted ones side by side:

Yes, that was the same wool! used for both those pears! It might be because it wasn’t fixed properly to the wool when I dyed it or because I used an alkaline detergent on them when I put them in the washing machine. This time I plan to use Orvis and see if that makes any difference. Otherwise I actually like the faded colour better. It’s more pear-ish. I took the photo on my vintage washboard that came with my house. It does come in handy occasionally — but I’m glad I don’t have to use it for the laundry.

I modified the leaves for the smaller pears to make them fit the size better. The wool I dyed was quite thick and the original leaves came out huge. So I left out 4 rows (an increase and a decrease and their corresponding purl rows) in the middle of the leaf for ones that fit much better in scale. They probably don’t even need leaves to look realistic. Or maybe one would do. But I gave every one the two leaves that the pattern called for.

On Saturday when we went for our rather soggy walk to the magazine shop, I got the new Winter issue of Interweave Knits. Why is it that the fall and winter issues are always my favourites of any knitting magazine? This is a wonderful issue with at least 3 or 4 sweaters that I would make, with the cover cardigan my absolute favourite of the bunch. Plus the article on designing sleeve caps was very informative. I’ve already considered armholes and sleeve caps as a dressmaker would but it’s good to have that pattern drafting knowledge translated into knitting. There are a few different aspects to take into account when building a shape with stitches and rows as opposed to just snipping it out of a piece of fabric. You can’t just take in a larger seam allowance or let it out a bit to compensate for bad fitting. And then there’s thickness, stretchiness, drape and a number of other factors to take into consideration. I sure love the way so many sweaters are fitted properly to the body. Too bad I don’t have the body that the models have, darn it! I know I need to learn how to adjust the sweater to fit the body I do have.

Speaking of sweaters, there’s one in IK that might work for my Backyard Sweater. It’s a cardigan with a feather and fan lower section on body and sleeves. The colour changes every 4 rows and it has a lovely bit of curvy laciness that I like and that shows off the different yarns. It will have to be fitted a bit differently though because I need sloped shoulders (the pattern has them straight across) and a somewhat more closely fitted upper arm (they are much too baggy on the model). It seems too wide through the upper chest as well because the armholes don’t indent very much making the top section nearly as wide as it is at the bust line. It shouldn’t be too hard to adjust thanks to that article on sleeve caps. But first I need to have some yarn instead of a heap o’wool!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Going Nuts

So here’s the results of my walnut dye experiment. Sorry the colour isn’t quite as accurate as I’d like. The light today isn’t cooperating. There’s a dim sun up there behind high cloud and the light is too yellow with too many shadows to take good photos. It’s nice though if somewhat cool. Better than when we went walking yesterday in the pouring rain anyhow!

Below on the left is the first batch of brown, not too intense but I only left it in the pot for an hour on heat. However the next colour to the right of it is the same wool with an iron afterbath. It went darker and cooler though it's hard to see in the photo. Next is the exhaust colour, a warm peachy beige, and lastly the exhaust with iron afterbath which is a cooler tan. The wool I left in the pot overnight matches the exhaust exactly but a marigold yellow that I threw in later didn’t change much at all.

While dyeing the lighter colour, I also tried overdyeing some madder exhaust (below left), plus some marigold yellow exhaust (middle) and some lighter marigold exhaust (right). I didn’t like these colours much until they dried so I only have a little bit of them.

So now I have a heap of wool. Four pounds in total, portions of which are somewhat matted up from all the handling, and I need to make something with all the pretty colours. I’m thinking a Backyard Sweater of some sort since all the dyes came from my yard and I bought all the wool roving from Birkeland Bros Wool which is only 3 blocks from my house. It’s hard to start spinning until I figure out what I want to make. I think I would like a button-front vest but there’s probably enough wool for several projects here. I know — sample! Well, I will. Eventually. There are other things ahead in the queue.

BTW have I mentioned that we cracked the walnuts and most of them, although very soggy, were still quite edible after a drying out and toasting in a low oven. They’re kind of an odd dark colour but they taste ok. We had some in our pancakes this morning which also included blueberries and blackberries that I had frozen from our garden. Yum.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Gee, I was hunting all over for the post where I talked about the second pair of Baby Socks and obviously nobody is paying attention because I never did a proper write-up on them when they were done. So here it is rather belatedly:

Stargazer’s Baby Socks 2

Begun: October 30, 2007
Completed: November 3, 2007

Yarn: Trekking XXL, 75% wool/25% nylon, 420 m = 100 g, colour 90, 25 g of leftovers.
Needles: Clover Takumi 5” dpns, 2 mm.

Pattern: Damselfly’s Basic Socks on 40 sts, cuffs 2/2 ribbed for 3”, foot 3” before toe, dec to 5 sts each needle, dog-ear reduction.

Comments: If at first you don’t succeed, try again! These are much smaller and fit him right now. Barely. They’re 4-1/4” long. The third pair fit better but they could still be a smidge longer. I plan to make a fourth pair eventually that hopefully will be just right. I will take into consideration that the little guy just keeps on growing.

Meanwhile I started a pair of plain socks for T-Man. Yes, he keeps getting socks because he doesn’t have a dozen pairs yet. It was interesting when we were at The Ninja’s new house on Tuesday, everyone except KiKi and her dad were wearing my socks. Even Nana (we brought her with us) was wearing one of her two pairs. Obviously they are a hit. I wish I could knit faster before some of the first pairs start wearing out! They don’t come with a darning and repair service. I’m not that dedicated. So what am I using you might ask? A new (to me anyway) yarn from my LYS marketed by SR Kertzer called On Your Toes. It’s made in Turkey with 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon and a smidge of aloe vera at 390 yds/360 m per 100 g ball. I got Brown Heather and another ball of Cream for dyeing. Don’t ask me if the aloe actually does anything useful or not. It’s supposed to be nice on the hands while knitting. Hope it doesn’t interfere with the dye but I’m pretty sure it just washes right out. We’ll find out eventually.

I also decided that the walnut dye had enough “maturing” after 3 days or so and decided to use it today. I did a whole pound of wool leaving the last 1/4 lb still in the dyepot to rest overnight. I got 4 shades of browns/tans so far plus I overdyed a bit of the madder and marigold (some lighter colours) to see what happened. I wasn’t sure I really liked the results so I didn’t overdye any more of it. The plain walnut is a warm brown and it went darker and cooler in an iron afterbath. The other two colours are lighter tan from the exhaust bath with a cooler shade from the iron afterbath. I’ll see how dark the last wool becomes that’s still in the pot but I suspect there isn’t too much strength left in the dye. The remains of the hulls after extracting the dye equaled about 4 cups of goo that went into the compost. I may have been able to get a bit more colour out of them but I was too tired to care. Photos coming when the wool dries.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Actually, it doesn’t really matter to me that it’s Friday, only that I don’t have any pressing engagements today. My neck and shoulder hurts. I’m starting to think I may need to go visit Florence the Torturer…er, Physio. I know what I did to me though — on Tuesday I spent the afternoon sweeping off all the stairs, decks and sidewalks around my house. Then I went to see the kids’ new house and carried Stargazer around for awhile. He’s getting rather heavy but since he can’t yet walk and loves to be in your arms, it’s kind of hard to ignore him. Besides he’s so darned cute! Then Wednesday I did a lot of dyeing with my marigolds, plus 4 loads of laundry, vacuumed the basement and changed the bed sheets. Yesterday I spent the early morning dyeing some more and then went to my weavers’ guild meeting. Just too much stress on an already weak part of my anatomy. It didn’t hurt so much yesterday but last night was uncomfortable and today I’ve got the Magic Bag alternating from my shoulder to the microwave and back. Since we have no definite plans for the weekend (yay!) I’m planning to take it easy. And maybe dye some more, this time with the walnut goo I’m creating. Yes, I cannot just sit. If I did, I’d be knitting anyway which also hurts right now. Maybe I can just read?

The Ninja and Family’s new house is perfect for them. It’s older (built in 1925) but it’s been recently completely revamped. The previous owners had kids too so there’s gates at the top of the stairs in the house and on the deck. They have 2 nice bathrooms, one with a shower and one with a an old-fashioned (but new) claw-foot tub, and the laundry is upstairs near the three bedrooms. There’s also a small office on the main floor for the computer etc. The kitchen is big with all new cupboards and counters and good quality appliances and the dining room is right next to it. There are lots of windows in the house and, even though it’s not large, it’s airy and bright. DIL even has space in the long and narrow enclosed front porch for her painting easel. The basement is accessed from outside and it’s too low for living space but it’s high enough to make an excellent storage space. The backyard is small but it’s completely enclosed with a high gate so kids can’t get loose and there is parking for 2 cars in the back. The front street is only 2 lanes but it’s busy and has a bus route which is good. With double windows it’s actually pretty quiet inside the house. Schools are nearby when the kids get big enough and there’s a great park with playground and extensive trails within walking distance. They’re very happy with their purchase and hope to be there for a very long time. Which is probably how long it will take to pay for it! Since The Ninja is a very-small-business owner, he’s a bit nervous about that part.

So back up a bit — back to the Wooly Pears. I was SOOOO disappointed in them. I put them in a mesh bag and threw them in with T-Man’s dirty jeans. The first 2 pears fulled nicely but two things were wrong: a lot of colour came out and the leaves didn’t full. At all. They just got fuzzy and limp. See?

Complete with laundry lint. Believe me it looks much worse in person. Also the last pear that I made from an ancient fat handspun single needs more fulling. I haven’t shown you that one yet. It also suffered from the Bad Leaves Syndrome. I thought I had chucked that particular yarn when it refused to full in my Mitred Shoulder-Bag that I made a number of years ago. Either I didn’t or I threw out the wrong one! Whatever, it was a bad choice. I quickly dyed up some really old handspun 2-ply and yesterday I knitted more leaves. They aren’t fulled yet. I thought I’d do the ones for the 2 small now-gold-coloured pears by hand and sew them on. And replace the ones on the larger green pear and full it some more. I’m also making a couple more of the small pears that lose their rosy blush in the wash and will use the new leaves on them. It’s a brighter more grassy green than the dark teal of the non-fulling wool, which I already threw in the trash before this happens to me again. Not sure I like it as much but since I don’t have any other green yarn that will work, it’ll just have to do. One of these pears (probably the one with the knitted-in “blush”) is going to my guild for the Christmas Gift Exchange. The other 3 without the blush will stay with me. And I’m not sure what I’ll do with the bigger green one.

Next I want to show the lovely colours I got from the marigolds. Apparently a pound of madder-dyed roving wasn’t enough colours for me, so I dug in the freezer for some marigolds that I had picked a couple of years ago. Two quart-sized Ziplocs full gave me enough to dye 5 different colours and another whole pound of Borderdale wool. Here they are:

From right (darkest) to left (lightest) and all with alum and cream of tartar mordant, that’s full strength marigold with iron afterbath, full strength marigold alone, nearly full strength marigold with copper afterbath, exhaust marigold left in the bath overnight and exhaust marigold left in the bath for a short time. I also overdyed a bit of the madder-dyed wool and also put some into to a copper and an iron afterbath. Sometimes it’s hard to stop:

Left to right in this photo is madder with a marigold overdye, madder with iron afterbath and the madder exhaust that had an iron afterbath with a marigold overdye (that was the rosy beige one in last Monday’s post). I forgot to photograph the copper afterbath on madder because it didn’t really change it much at all. As if all this wasn’t enough fooling around, I also took an ice cream bucket full of Persian (aka English) walnuts with hulls still on out of the freezer. We collected them from our monster backyard tree a few years ago during a rare season of overabundance. For once there were so many walnuts the Evil Imported Squirrels weren’t able to take all of them before we got a chance to get a few. I’ve been soaking them for a couple of days and today I heated them up in the pot and slipped off the hulls (wearing gloves of course) and rescued the nuts. I’m hoping there might even be some edible walnuts there but my hands are too sore to crack them. I’ll get T-Man to help me tomorrow and we’ll see. Yes, I too am wondering why they were languishing in the freezer all this time but I guess I really didn’t feel like dealing with them. The dyebath itself is getting lovely and brown and is just about ready to use on my last bag of Borderdale wool. You don’t even need a mordant with walnut since it’s a substantive dye and will fix by itself. There’s a lot of tannin in the whole tree including in the leaves, bark and nutshells. But the most dye is in the green hulls which often cling to the nuts when they fall off the tree. You can stain your hands for days if you don’t wear gloves when handling them. Ask me how I know.

It might look yukky but it sure smells better than the pungent marigold dyebath. In some cases it’s lucky the wool doesn’t retain the smell, just the colour. But I’m very fond of the smell of walnut leaves when I rake them (though my neck says “ouch!”) and the dyebath smells very similar. It’s kind of woodsy with a hint of spice. Heck. Where’s Smell-O-Vision when you need it? Scratch-N-Sniff? It’s nice anyway. Now I need to control my urge to go down and start putting wool in the pot. It can wait at least until tomorrow. It’ll only improve. Which is more than I can say for myself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More Teeny Socks

OK, I’ve been forgetting to give you the final specs on the third pair (just right!), which I’m gifting to him when we go over to their new house later this afternoon.

Stargazer’s Baby Socks 3

Begun: November 6, 2007
Completed: November 9, 2007

Yarn: Sisu, 80% wool/20% nylon, 160 m = 50 g, colour 90, 25 g of leftovers from the Ninja Toe-Socks. Like father like son!
Needles: Clover Takumi 5” dpns, 2 mm.

Pattern: Damselfly’s Basic Socks on 44 sts, cuffs 2/2 ribbed for 3”, foot 3” before toe, dec to 5 sts each needle, dog-ear reduction.

Comments: If at first you don’t succeed, try YET again! These are smaller than the first pair and slightly larger than the second. They should fit him right now and hopefully after his first birthday and into the New Year. Unless he puts on a growth spurt! They’re only 4.5” long which is only a smidge bigger than the last pair but they’re also a bit wider which should give a bit more wiggle room. Next time I’d do them on the same number of stitches but go to 3.25” or even further before starting the toe decreases. Do you think if I just keep knitting baby socks, I’ll get them truly right eventually? No pair is wasted anyway because they’ll all fit somebody at some time as they grow!

Stargazer’s big sister KiKi (like the new spelling of her nickname? just made it up) could use another pair too. She’s very likely grown out of the last ones from a year ago because she’s getting quite tall these days. Maybe I can measure her foot today. I should be able to get a pair for her out of one ball of sock yarn. And I need a plain pair on the needles again anyway. Small ones are fun because they’re finished quickly.

Also I finished one of my OXO wristwarmers last evening:

It’s a lovely little thing and fits my skinny wrist perfectly but it didn’t use up as much of my never-ending cashmerino as I had hoped. The yarn and needles I used are smaller than Nancy Bush’s original pattern (Wedding Cuffs, Piecework, May/June 2006) so these are only 2.5” long instead of 3.75”. I could have repeated part of the pattern to make them longer but I like them this way. Though if I was thinking, I really should have put beads in the middle of the O’s. On to number two. I now know why I usually knit these pair-type things alternately — it’s a PITA starting all over again!

If, like me, you get totally caught up in knitting fingerless mitts, wristwarmers, cuffs, fingerless gloves and muffatees, there are lots of free patterns on the web. A bunch of links appear on the Fingerless Mitts For Fall knitalong blog sidebar that you could peruse. They are listed as to whether they’re free or not which is a nice feature. There’s lots of inspirational photos on there too, plus a link to a Flickr group with more.

OK so I was wrong when I said that yesterday’s winds didn’t cause problems. Apparently it was even windier in some other areas than it was here and there were trees and branches down plus power outages, some of which are still out this morning. Also the BC ferries were docked for quite awhile due to high winds and waves which made it hard for a lot of folks traveling home on the holiday Monday. It can get pretty hairy out there in Georgia Strait! Back in my sailing days we had some wild crossings on our little boat. Once we even had to turn back because the waves were higher than our masthead! Or at least they looked that way from our perspective from a heaving little cockpit. Not fun. And it was much worse out there yesterday. If the ferries don’t sail, not much else does either. We got away with only a little debris on the top deck:

Guess I’d better sweep it off before it starts raining again, eh?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Windy Windy

The first “windy” of the title is the weather. It’s gusting up to 90 kilometres an hour out there and is beginning to remind me of some of the stormy weather we had last winter. At least we aren’t losing any trees around town like we did then. Only lots of leaves that hadn’t fallen off yet. My bamboo keeps knocking on the kitchen window and making me jump. I think it wants to come in out of the inclement weather! It did stop raining and is brightening up but I’m sure that’s just between systems.

The second “windy” has a long “i” because I’m winding my newly madder-tinted moorit handspun yarn into cakes. Note that I rather naturally used to call the yarn packets that came off my ball-winder “balls” but some of my spinning students refer to that shape as a “cake” and I kind of like it. Before I starting winding I took a photo for you:

I put my Icelandic Lace Shawl underneath so you can see what the yarn used to look like before it got its madder blush. I think the new colour is really pretty. I’m very fond of dyeing over natural colours to see what interesting tones I can get. In the photo below, the bit of wool on the bottom is the actual colour of the madder bath that the moorit wool was dyed in:

I put a wee bit of white wool in just to see what I was getting. And the wisp on the top is the leftover colour from that bath with a smidge (1 g) of iron mordant added. You can still see some of the madder bits in it that escaped my seive. Of course I couldn’t throw out the almost-spent bath! I managed to dye another 1/4 lb of wool (mordant: alum & tartaric acid) that warm beige and if I don’t need so much of it, I’ll use it to overdye later. Exhaust colours are fun and make a nice contrast with brighter shades plus I love subtle layered colours that you can get with overdyeing. And that’s the last of my home-grown madder root for this harvest! The spent chips went into the compost. Now I have a lot of dyed wool but I need more colours. Marigolds and walnut hulls are next. I’ve had them both in the freezer for ages so it will be nice to use them up. I seem to collect but not make use of natural dye materials for some reason. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. Heh.

I had a good time at my Ravelry group’s meet-up yesterday afternoon at the local coffee shop The Grind. This one has been around so long that my kids used to hang out there as teenagers. There is lots of room to set up and we could even bring spinning wheels if we wanted. I don’t know if we’ll keep meeting here or try some different venues for awhile until we discover the perfect one. Though for me The Grind is ideal: walking distance from my house and halfway between my two LYS’s. What could be better?

There were 7 Ravelers again this time — though Norma couldn’t make it we gained Beth, another of my former spinning students, who heard about it from Erin. I was first on the scene and while I was waiting I saw this sign on the side of the Internet kiosk that completely cracked me up:

Sock Trading! Yes of course. I knew folks traded socks on the Internet. I don’t know why someone wrote in a “t” making it “stocks”. What’s that all about?

While at the meet-up, I started working on my decoration for the guild’s Christmas Exchange for the December meeting. I decided to go for the Wooly Pears that were on the cover of last year’s Interweave Knits Holiday issue. The pattern is by Nicky Epstein and I used the same handspun yarn that I was making the fulled leaves and acorns out of before. At least I know it fulls well. I managed to get one Wooly Pear done and started another but wasn’t happy with it so I frogged it and started again when I got home. I finished it this morning but haven’t fulled either of them yet:

They’re kind of cute the way they are actually. I’m currently knitting another pear from some really ancient fat singles handspun. It’s not pleasant to knit with, being sticky and dense, but I’m hoping the fulling will improve the texture plus wash out the 30+ years of dust. If I like the results, I have enough of that yarn for 2 more. I figure you need either one single or three, not two, for a complete bowl full. They’re pretty quick to make anyway. I’m using one size smaller needles than Nicky Epstein’s pattern (from Interweave Knits Holiday 2006) because my handspun looks too thready and doesn’t full up as much as the Lamb’s Pride Worsted. They’ll be a bit smaller but no matter. I’m also stuffing with coarse grey wool instead of polyester fiberfill. The colour doesn’t show so much and it fulls somewhat along with the outer knitting instead of bearding through it.

Of course after we left The Grind most of us walked up to Three Bags Full. It’s a teensy shop and it was totally crowded when we got there. What does one do when one needs a wool fix on a holiday? Hit the only store that’s open of course! There were 3 or 4 staff and at least 15 customers crammed in. Because it was Remembrance Day a lot of stores along Main Street were closed including the other wool shop, Birkeland Bros. I decided that since I was there I would stop resisting the sweet siren call of the Louet Gems super fine merino fingering wool and bought 2 skeins in white so I can dye them.

I think I will make another pair of gloves but not until after I make the black handspun ones. I certainly don’t want to make socks with this soft stuff. They would last about one trip to the magazine shop before they wore a hole. I need superwash wool with a hefty nylon content to survive in my boots. Although I’m not really that hard on my socks, I walk a whole lot more than the average person. And I wear handknit socks every day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Madder Addendum

I decided that I was saving the remains of the madder in the freezer for no good reason since it’s pretty much played out so I decided to thaw it out and use what colour was left to tint the rest of my moorit wool handspun (the part I didn’t use in the Icelandic Lace Shawl). There’s 150 g (about 800 or so yards), which should be enough for another lace shawl. Maybe the Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark from Interweave Knits Fall 2004. This one can be easily expanded or contracted depending on how much yarn I have by adding or subtracting repeats of the main lace pattern. The edging is an extension of that so it automatically fits properly. As long as I leave enough yarn to complete it. I love Evelyn’s smallish shawls. They are just complex enough to keep me interested but once you’re done, you’re done. No extra picked up or knitted on edgings. Just work in the ends and block. My friend (hi, Silk!) is planning to knit this pattern soon too so maybe I’ll join her. But not until I’ve done the Hepburn Cardi first! Help me resist starting something new before I finish my sweater! Socks, wristwarmers, mitts and gloves don’t count. Really.

Today I went to our Spectrum Study Group meeting where again we had a lively show-and-tell, some heavy discussion and a wonderful lunch but we never got any actual work done. Again. Oh well. Nobody is marking us on our projects. However I was going to start knitting my ornament for the December guild meeting/Christmas party. I’ll begin that tomorrow morning before I head over to one of the local coffee shops for another get-together with our Ravelry group, the Terminal City Yarn Wranglers.

I was hoping to have time to show the latest pair of Baby Socks that I finished. These ones turned out ok. I’ll get a chance to put them on Stargazer on Tuesday when we go over to their new house for the first time. Unfortunately I have to go feed T-Man some supper. I’m still full from lunch!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Yeah, It’s Rainin’

I’m trying really hard to stay out of my usual Bah-Humbug mode this year, but it’s so difficult! The local community newspaper yesterday had 700 g (over 1.5 lbs) of flyers vs. the paper itself which was only 150 g (under 6 oz). And it was ALL holiday-oriented stuff. Notice how I can’t even say the C-word? Decorations went up before the pumpkins went down. Arghhh…I just get so tired of the whole thing because it misses the point entirely. Does anyone really need giant blowup ornaments on their front lawn? Wouldn’t it be better if they spent their excess cash on, say, impoverished small crippled boys named Tim or something?

OK, rant over — moving right along. I’m halfway through the second of the Baby Socks 3. It looks just about right: a little wider and a smidge longer than attempt number 2. I should finish these quickly because I only have until Tuesday when I’ll see the grandkid to whom the socks belong. The family is now happily moved into their new house and we’ve been invited to come over to see it. And bring Nana too. Meanwhile I’m sure they need to unpack a few more boxes and find the missing necessities, that kind of thing. I do know the TV is set up and the cable hooked up already. Priorities. The 3-year-old must have her Littlest Mermaid video or it’s the end of the world as we know it.

I so wanted to go for a walk today but instead I’m sitting here knitting and reading group posts on Ravelry instead. What can I tell you — it’s just one of those days. I still have to go out and get the membership booklet to the printer. Maybe I can talk T-Man into driving over when he gets home? We need to pick up some groceries anyway. Boring aren’t I? Yeah, it’s rainin’. So what else is new?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Well Of Course

Yes, I found a few more errors (with T-Man’s help) in that darn membership booklet. Sigh. You can never see all your own mistakes. I’ll fix them before I take the thing to the printer tomorrow. Then it’s out of my hands and any remaining mistakes are permanent until next year. I used to do the guild’s newsletter — 13 years worth of working on it in fact. So why did I get myself involved again? Because they asked. And I know how. I also volunteered to help with the library for the first time this year. Plus I have already had their spinning equipment for rental at my house for lotsa years. I’ve been a member of this guild since 1985 or so and they know me too well! I’d rather do this type of thing than be president or something anyway. Executive positions are out of my league entirely.

So what’s on the menu for today? Here’s the photo of the second batch of madder-dyed fibre that I didn’t show you yesterday. The weather is crappy (rain, rain, and more rain) so the colour may be a bit off. I’m still not getting red by any stretch but it’s pretty, no?

I’m kind of taking a day semi-off today after my marathon computer day yesterday. I’ve almost finished the first of the Baby Socks 3. I couldn’t do both alternately like usual because I used the other set of needles for the OXO Cuffs which I’m also doing one-at-a-time. The cuffs are much slower because I have to actually see what I’m doing. I need to go back to the Hepburn Cardi too. So many projects — so little time.

Meanwhile I just heard the postman at the door and I got my next book order! These ones are my birthday prezzies to me. I know, what were all the other ones? This is the third bunch I’ve ordered in the last few months not to mention the pocketbooks and magazines that I’ve bought in the actual store. It’s all so darn tempting but it’s getting a bit out of hand. I’m now on a bit of a book diet methinks. So what did I get you ask? I finally broke down and got a copy of Alden Amos’ Big Book of Handspinning. I’ve heard so many mixed reviews of this book — you either love Alden or you hate him because he’s just so darn opinionated. I’ve taken the book out from my guild library and quickly perused it but there is so much technical information that I wasn’t able to process it quickly. There are no pretty pictures, just black & white illustrations by Alden’s wife Stephenie Gaustad. These guys are the real deal. I’m looking forward to reading the book and trying to absorb some of the info. If my eyes don't glaze over first.

I also got The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Ann Feitlson on the recommendation of David Reidy of the Sticks & String podcast. This is a very good book with lots of colour photos. More than half the book is dedicated to the history and an in-depth discussion of design for this style of 2-colour knitting. There are some nice patterns too though a few are a bit dated (this book was originally published in 1996) and includes gloves and hats as well as the usual sweaters and vests. I already have a couple of books on this subject but this one is much nicer. I like that Ann virtually expects you to change things up and create your own garments and that her focus is on knitting techniques and colour considerations rather than just a bunch of charts for OXO and peerie patterns that I already have plenty of in the other books I own. I have trouble knitting 2-colour patterns without drawing in the fabric and twisting up the floats. I’m hoping the information in here will help me with that problem because I’ve been avoiding this type of knitting for awhile now. And I absolutely love it! Dumb huh?

Well I’d better get the last few errors fixed in my booklet so I can check that off my list. I’ve been avoiding it so far today and suddenly it’s later than I thought.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Well, yesterday’s lunch was an adventure for sure. The restaurant that Darling Daughter picked is right at the very edge of the hole where the Canada Line rapid transit so far doesn’t exist. See?

To the left are the steps into the Toyo Restaurant and to the right is a huge drop into space. The remains of the sidewalk ends right there and the whole block behind is fenced all the way along. Nobody walks down there if they aren’t going to eat sushi! How do these poor people make a living when they are trying to run a business right next to this mess? How does their building continue to be suspended in space? Are we very tired of this whole HOLE thing yet?

Lunch was yummy anyway and the company was of course great. I was kind of not in the mood for sushi (I know, too weird) so I had miso soup and prawn and sweet potato tempura instead. I now feel completely spoiled for this year’s birthday! Moving right along…

As far as the second batch of madder went, the first lot of sliver was in the bath for 3 days total and it’s even more orange and lighter in value than my first batch. I think I extracted more of the yellow dye than the red with my quick extraction method. I bet there’s a lot more dye remaining in the roots which are now in the freezer. I put the rest of the half-pound of mordanted Borderdale in the remaining dye after removing the first wool and it’s a much more rosy-pink. I only left it in for an hour or so on the heat and it’s not as matted as the stuff that was in the bath for days. All in all, I got some interesting colours and they are all slightly different! No wonder industry doesn’t show much interest in plant dyes. They are incredibly unpredictable.

Here’s the OXO Cuffs that I’ve been working on in fine cashmerino 2-ply wool left over from my Swallowtail Shawl. Can you see the X’s? Haven’t gotten to the O’s yet. It was dyed with acid dyes in my Bryce Canyon colourway but it looks surprisingly like some of my madder experiments! Maybe a bit more dusty-peachy. The yarn is somewhat finer than the fingering the pattern calls for and I’m using 2 mm needles instead of 2.5 mm but they will fit me just fine. Perhaps the twisted stitch pattern doesn’t show up as well as the original. But it’s very soft and warm so that’s good enough for me. I would have maybe doubled the yarn but I don’t think I have enough. But then I probably have more than I think since this stuff just goes on for miles! Out of one 225 g skein, so far I’ve made 2 shawls and a scarf. The shawls are admittedly on the small side and the scarf is skinny (though very long) but I’m definitely getting a lot of knitting bang for my buck. My LYS has many skeins of this in natural undyed and a few that were dyed (and slightly felted) by the Handmaiden by special order. And I have one more undyed skein in my stash.

And here’s the beginning of the third installment in my Baby Socks saga. I figured if 40 stitches is just right and 48 stitches is too big, then 44 stitches should give a little wiggle room but not be too big to wear now. These are so fast and easy that I can afford to keep experimenting and using up a bunch of sock yarn leftovers at the same time. Stargazer (and his mom) are enjoying my efforts anyhow.

I want to thank everyone with suggestions on how to de-pee my magazines. So far nothing I’ve tried is working and wet cures are out because it just makes the pages wrinkle and stick together even more. The catbox odour seems to be getting worse instead of better. I’m now debating on how badly I want the worst-hit magazine and whether I can get away with trying to keep the two that are not so bad. The one that was on top has got to go but I don’t know if I’ll replace it yet or not. The jury is still out.

So I worked on it all day today and I just finished the guild’s membership booklet with some time to spare. I’m already getting questions on the contents but that’s just too bad. I just work with the information that was handed to me. It’s hard enough to proofread your own work without having to double-check every address and phone number as well. If I’ve introduced a new error myself then that’s another story.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cat's Revenge

I had a busy weekend again so didn’t have time to post until now. I should be working on my guild’s membership booklet but I have amazing powers of procrastination. Deadline is looming later this week though so I’d better not push my luck.

First off, I’d like to thank everyone for the lovely birthday wishes. I did actually get to go out, first to my favourite tea shop, Steeps, and then to a Greek dinner. And today I’m going to lunch with Darling Daughter. So the birthday goodness just keeps on going!

Backtracking to Saturday, I spent some time (with T-Man’s help) chopping and smashing up the rest of the madder roots. I didn’t have quite as much as I had thought, maybe another pound of fresh wet chips. I couldn’t just put them in the freezer so I quickly alum-mordanted a pound of Borderdale sliver (I ran out of the Crossbred) and put about a third of it into four quick extractions from the new batch of madder. I wanted a larger proportion of madder to wool than the last batch. This time I added about a teaspoon of soda ash just to see what effect that had. The bath turned quite purple, like Bordeaux wine though I’m not sure that really transferred over to the wool. The reason I don’t know yet is because the wool is still in the bath! I’ve been heating it up daily, giving it a stir, and then letting it cool. I’m sure my impatience will get the better of me later on today however. This is one of the reasons why I’m not a particularly successful plant dyer. I can’t wait long enough to see what colour I’m getting! One thing I can tell is that the Borderdale is somewhat more matted already than the Crossbred, even though it’s not that much softer to the touch. Hopefully I’ll still be able to tease it out enough to spin it later. I’m now totally tempted to get the frozen marigolds out of the freezer as the madder root goes into it. I have 2/3 of a pound of mordanted wool still demanding to be dyed. Remind me how I need to do that booklet first, will ya?

What’s next? Oh yeah. Yesterday we went out to the Ninja’s house and borrowed the grandkids for the day. Packing for the big move to their new house today was a lot easier without 2 little demanding persons underfoot. We had a great time with them and took them to the Bloedel Conservatory which is not far from our house. The weather was sunny and not cold at all so we spent some time on the plaza outside watching the new fountain with the spouts of water that suddenly rise up and then subside. Even 10-month-old Stargazer was fascinated. Inside the big koi were a hit with 3-year-old Kiki (apparently at least 6 of them are named Nemo — who knew?) as well as the parrots that talk (“Hello, Charlie!” and “How’re ya doin’?”) She especially liked the relatively little one named Rosie who sneezes (“Ah-choo!”) and meows like a cat. Other brightly coloured birds flew around us or walked across the path. Much fun. Then we went home and played for the rest of the afternoon and finally got them back to their parents at 7pm. Kiki was asleep already in the car and didn’t wake up as she was tucked in her own bed but Stargazer woke up as we arrived though he went right back to sleep without much fuss. T and I were both ready for bed ourselves by then! I like that you can give grandkids back when you’re tired.

I forgot to mention the Baby Socks. Pair #2 (on 40 stitches) fit Stargazer perfectly, which of course means that they will fit for maybe a month max. Pair #1 (on 48 stitches) are still very loose on him. So now I’m going to start Pair #3 with 44 stitches. Third time’s the charm!

Oh, you’re wondering about the title of this post? Well, while the grandkids were here we shut the basement door so that the crawling Stargazer wouldn’t take a tumble. Julie doesn’t much like kids and had already headed for the safety of her own bed downstairs but her mom, Ms. Polly wanted to get in on some of the action upstairs. Kiki even got to brush her which she loves. But apparently the old lady-cat forgot to mention that she needed to use the catbox and couldn’t get downstairs so she peed on my beading magazines on the floor by my bed! Over $25 worth of magazines. That I don’t want to have to go buy new copies of. Anybody got a way to get the cat-pee smell out of paper? One that doesn’t involve anything with perfume? I can live with the wrinkled pages.

OK, membership booklet. Right. But I’m going out to lunch first. And wait, you gotta see the beautiful disocactus flower that came out this morning:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Orange Madder

Yeah, it’s supposed to be ROSE madder but no matter what I do, I get orange. Luckily orange is my favourite colour it’s a lovely slightly muted shade, not neon at all. I got 4 different values:

The second darkest wool (second from the left) is a bit more red and less orange. It weighed about 1/4 pound. I dyed it with the first soaking water from un-heated roots right after I chopped and hammered them. I brought it slowly up to about 150 degrees F. and kept for an hour and then cooled slightly before rinsing. Here it is in the pot. It looks a lot darker when wet.

The lightest one (far right in the first photo) was dyed with the second soaking water and was never heated at all. It only spent about an hour or so in the room-temp dye and then was rinsed. The second-lightest one (second from right) was the same as the lightest only heated for an hour. The darkest colour was from the actual heat-extraction of the roots. I covered them in water and heated them, poured off the dye, re-covered with water, heated again, etc. several times. By that time I had enough liquid in the dyebath for my half-pound of fibre so I scooped some out and re-covered the roots, heated and poured the extraction back in several more times. The wool was brought to just under a simmer, kept there for an hour and then left overnight in the pot to cool. I was trying to get as much colour out of my roots as possible and there was still colour in the water, but by this time I’d had enough! I had lots of cleaning up to do. See the lovely permanent stain in the bottom of my extraction pot?

It used to be yellow from marigolds. Heh! I really think the problem is that I need to use much more dyestuff to the weight of the fibre to get closer to red. Remember I started with about 1 pound of wet fresh roots to a total of 1 pound of wool (even though it all wasn’t dyed to the same depth of shade). And even though I used lots of ingredients that are supposed to help keep it on the red side (soda ash, calcium supplements, baking powder) it didn’t have much effect. I even tried a small amount of the deepest colour in an ammonia afterbath (a glug of extra-strength ammonia in 2 cups of water). That did shift it slightly more towards rose but I decided not to treat the rest of the wool. Ammonia is stinky and fairly hard on the wool. The most red I got was on some little cellulose samples that I threw in which were leftover from dye experiments from several years ago. (They were mordanted with aluminum acetate and tannin.) However I’m absolutely pleased with how much colour I got out of my little pile of home-grown roots. And there are more still! I’m just really tired of processing them right now. Even the used roots are still giving colour so I put them in a freezer bag, labeled it and stuck it in the big freezer in case I ever get enthused enough to try again. I think the rest of the fresh root is going to go there too after I chop it up. I think freezing is safer than drying since there’s quite a good chance of it moulding before it’s dry.

I’m really happy with the feel of the dyed wool. The sliver held up quite well to all the manipulating, even though I was as careful as possible with it, and it didn’t felt up at all. It’s going to make some pretty yarn. If I can decide what to make out of it! Maybe a vest? I definitely need a vest.

In other news I’m almost finished the second pair of Baby Socks. These are coming out much closer to the right size. Hopefully if I get them finished by Sunday I can put them on my grandson and see for sure if they fit. We’re babysitting while they start the move to their new house. I’d rather lug grandkids than furniture.

What else? Have you seen Nora Gaughan’s new sweater in the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting?

A cutaway coat made of hexagons and partial hexagons. Totally worth the price of the magazine for this pattern alone. It’s gorgeous and I want one. In handspun. But not until I finish the Hepburn Cardi — and probably the Madder Vest too. (Not that I know what exactly I’m making yet.) Oh, the Samhain issue of AntiCraft went up on the appropriate day. A little late really but we’ll be ready for next year! I love all the spider stuff. And there’s stuff that was left out of their forthcoming book. Link in my sidebar. Well I’d best get some more work done around here. After all, it’s my birthday today!