Friday, January 28, 2011

Make Do & Mend

You might remember (or not!) my Pixie Slippers that I made almost exactly a year ago. I’ve been pretty much wearing the heck out of them ever since – except perhaps in the hot days of midsummer. I wear them around the house every day and they keep my feet nice and toasty. However they were starting to wear quite badly on the soles:


This is the better one and it’s already been mended and worn nearly out again. The other one needed some extra stitches over the holes but I already had the sole partially stitched on when I remembered to take pictures of the process.

It used up the last of the two balls of vintage Condon’s worsted yarn (that I had already knit double for the body of the slippers) when I crocheted the two new soles:


I used a 4mm crochet hook and a single strand of the yarn, beginning with a ch 25 and working sc around both sides of the ch and increasing in the ends as necessary. Since I didn’t have a pattern, I just worked a row on one sole and a row on the other alternately so they are more-or-less the same. The crochet was pretty tight because I want it to be as durable as possible. It only took an hour or so to finish. Then I spritzed them with water and pinned them out then steam-blocked with the iron for good measure and left them to dry overnight.

Today I used the tails of yarn to stitch the soles onto the slipper bottoms:


I also repaired a thin spot in one of the felt innersoles. And now they are nice and cushy and the life of my slippers should be extended for another year. I hope!


Of course now Milady Daughter wants a pair. They are pretty quick to knit the main slippers but the fun part is making the true felt innersoles! Maybe I’ll get her to do that part with me like I did when I made her dad’s pair. Anyhow, I put her request in my ever-extending and never-ending queue. I want to make Rosebud a new sweater first though. And I have to finish the socks for my niece which are nearly at the heel flaps. And we won’t even mention the rag quilt which seems to be stalled for some reason. I must get to it soon because I want my work table back! Plus I can’t justify starting to sew some clothes until I’ve finished that darn quilt. Why is it taking me so long?

Guess it takes as long as it takes.

T-Man is working at home today and we would like to get out for a walk when he’s done. It all depends on how wet we want to get and how hard it’s raining when we decide to head out the door.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Whew! The pelvic ultrasound was nearly painless – apart from the pressing on a full bladder (required) and the ouchy spot. I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to see my innards. Guess they think that I would gross out. Not! I find the whole thing fascinating. The technician said that nothing was out of the ordinary and there’s probably nothing to worry about but that my doc was the last word on that. He’ll only call me if he has any concerns so at this point, no news is good news. Moving right along.

Lately I’ve been feeling kind of…subdued? Not tired. Not depressed. But not really excited about working on all the projects that are lined up waiting for me. I haven’t even planted any seeds after all that kafuffle getting the ones I wanted. Instead I’ve been sleeping deeply and long – not leaping up at the crack of dawn like I usually do – and sitting reading and knitting a lot. Maybe it’s the time of year. Or something. Guess I shouldn’t worry about it. So far this year I’ve finished a pair of knee socks, knit 2 pairs of little socks for Rosebud, a huge pair of socks for The Ninja and started another pair for my niece. I’ve also knit a shawl for T’s aunt and more than half of my zip-front Remix Vest. Not too shabby really. Maybe I should cut myself some slack?

Here’s the latest pair of socks:

Green Ninja Socks

Green Ninja Socks

For: my son The Ninja

Begun: January 17, 2011
Completed: January 25, 2011

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL sock yarn, 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, colour 265, dyelot 30728 (dark green with multicoloured tweed flecks), 100g = 420m, 1 ball.

Needles: Clover Takumi 5” dpns, 2mm

Pattern: Damselfly’s Basic Socks on 72 sts (18 per needle), 2/2 rib 30 r cuffs, 8.5” leg before heel flap, 8.5” foot before toe decs, to 6 sts each needle, dog-ear reduction.

Comments: He got to pick the yarn but they weren’t quite ready for his birthday. These are the largest socks on my Recipient List and I only had a few metres left when I was done. Cutting it very close!

And here’s what the Remix Vest looks like at the moment:


The sun is out today and it’s quite warm at 10C so I’m hoping we can get a chance to go for a walk later when T-Man gets home from work. That should perk me up some. Meanwhile I’d best get at the 2-day heap of dishes in the sink, huh?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Did It Again

Skipped nearly a whole week again, didn’t I? Not to worry – I’m not feeling a rant coming on or anything. I’m just kind of full up with family things and not much to blog about really. I’m nearly finished The Ninja’s birthday socks. Just have the toes to graft and a celebratory bath and blocking. Not bad for just over a week since I cast on for them. These are the largest socks on my Sock List so I think that might be some kind of record. They are just plain socks though so that might also explain the speed with which they were executed. As long as I can read at the same time, knitting gets done pretty quickly. Picture and more info to come. Sorry about the lack of things to look at today.

Of course the recipient of the Green Ninja Socks didn’t get them on his birthday or at his party at his MIL’s on Sunday because they weren’t done yet. However he did get to start his first batch of red wine with his dad. T-Man learned how to make wine from his dad and now he’s passing it on. One kit makes 20+ bottles (though in our house they seldom make it into any bottles). It is soooo much cheaper and the results are very good – definitely not “plonk”. Later they will start some white wine as well. One large cupboard in our basement is dedicated to wine-making and gets constant use.

Then Milady Daughter and I had a lovely morning of knitting yesterday before we took baby Rosebud for her weekly cast replacement again. She is growing fast and we managed to get them to weigh her when she was starkers so we could get a real idea without the added weight of the cast. She’s officially 11lbs 14oz which is pretty great for not quite 8 weeks old. She can smile now and nearly holds her head up by herself, just occasionally has a “stabilizer malfunction” as her daddy calls it. She is eating and sleeping a lot so we know she’s going through a real growth spurt. So fun to watch my grandbaby grow! So cute to get her smiles when talking to her! Adorable.

OK – a small rant. I can’t help myself. Why is it that just when I’m feeling tip-top after the last health issue that something new comes up? Yeah, I know I’m no spring chicken but this has been going on for decades! One thing after another. Nothing really earth-shattering. Just annoying and uncomfortable. And yeah, I know it could be worse. Much worse. So I guess I should quite my complaining and move on, right? Oh, this time? Possible ovarian cyst. At least it’s not too uncomfortable and it’s improving. I have a tender spot and an occasional crampy feeling on the right side. So I have to go get an ultrasound today, my first ever. I’m just a wee bit nervous – if only because it’s somewhere I’ve never been and I have no idea of the exact procedure. T-Man very kindly offered to come home from work early to drive me. Yes, I’ve done my research on this condition and it’s likely not serious and will go away by itself soon. Google is my friend.

Meanwhile I’m back to knitting on my Zip-Front Vest just because it was lonely and neglected for the last week while I worked on the socks. It’s coming along – past the waist and nearly up to the underarms. I’ve cast on for my niece’s socks also and plan to take one with me to work on at my appointment this afternoon. At least if there’s any wait time and I get a chance to knit. Who knows?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

She’s At It Again!

After not posting for nearly a week and then babbling on uselessly yesterday, today I wrote another of my boring rants – and then deleted it. You can thank me now!

Anyhoo, here’s my most recent FO that I promised:

Auntie M’s Shawlette

Ams Holden

For:  Auntie M’s 90th birthday

Yarn:  Newton’s Yarn Country Happy Feet sock yarn, 100% superwash merino, colourway unmarked (mostly turquoise and purples), 1800 yds per lb, about 100g.

Needles: Addi Lace 24” circular, 4mm

Pattern:  Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes (free pattern from her Ravelry store)

Comments:  This is a lovely pattern that works well with variegated handpaint-type sock yarns. Knit from the centre back neck (what I call the Evelyn Clark start) outward, with a plain centre and a feather-and-fan variation for the edging. The distinctive bind-off is in picots which took quite awhile to knit and makes it a little more difficult to block because I pinned each one individually. I did use wires on the top edge though.

There are 2 extra stitches on each side in the edging that don’t add anything to the design and seem to make a “hiccup” in the rhythm while knitting it. If you just work the plain section 2 rows shorter to 189 sts instead of 193 sts, then you can eliminate those. I would definitely do that if I knit this pattern again. You could also knit it one edging repeat longer because it’s quite a small shawlette or you could adjust it for finer yarn on smaller needles. But I like this size anyway just the way it is. Hope Auntie M likes it too!

You will be happy to know that one of yesterday’s concerns has been resolved: we found Juliet tomato seeds! Yes, we drove all the way out to Ladner and checked out the West Coast Seeds retail shop. And there they were. Lots of packets too. I only bought one though I tell you I was tempted to stock up! Just in case this seedy drought happens again. However I should be able to get a couple of years’ worth of plants from the one packet. They have a 3-year viability. And now we know where the store is located! We can always drive out there again next January.

Of course that wasn’t all I bought. I got some new trays and clear dome lids plus some half-size pony flats to go in them. My old used and reused ones have seen better days and several are only held together with duct tape. I will go through them and chuck out the most decrepit ones. And I also got some plastic tags and a grease pencil to mark them with. I’m tired of labelling and re-labelling flats and pots with masking tape. Though I probably should have gotten twice as many but we’ll see how it works out. Now I’m all ready to start my seedlings. Do NOT speak to me of the excessive carbon footprint attached to my quest for tomato seeds, OK? It still must be better than importing them from Mexico!

I’m sure folks who live in places with colder winters than here on the coast are aghast that I would even think of planting anything now. So I guess you don’t want to know that my garlic is already coming up? The garlic chives are a couple of inches high? I still have kale and overwintering broccoli, though the latter isn’t sending out shoots yet. Soon though. It’s somewhat colder however than it was a few days ago when we had a record 14C. There was frost this morning. But it won’t be long before it’s dry enough to turn the fall rye under and begin a new gardening season. Around here that season barely ends at all.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Disturbed & Perturbed

Maybe it’s the undeserved migraine I have today but I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated lately. There are several reasons for this attitude. One is that somehow I keep wanting to start new projects without finishing the old ones. And the list of “wanna-dooz” just keeps getting longer and longer. I only have two hands and no more time than anyone else. On the other hand, if I look at my Finished Objects list, it’s longer than I think it is.

Nevertheless this is prime birthday season in our family. At least 6 people have birthdays in the next couple of weeks! Starting yesterday with my lovely niece who just turned 20 and desperately wants another pair of Auntie Damselfly’s socks because….gasp! She actually wore out her last pair!! And Friday’s birthday is my dear son, The Ninja, who also wants socks. Of course. Since it takes about 2 weeks for me to knit a pair I’m obviously late to the party but I did begin both pairs yesterday. Added bonus was they both got to pick the yarn themselves! Now they just have to maintain a little patience. And not get frustrated. Heh.

Happily I did finish Auntie M’s shawlette (yet another birthday coming up) and it turned out very nicely indeed. So much so that I’m tempted to keep it myself! Though if I’m that enamoured I still have enough yarn to make another one just like it. I’ll write it up properly when it gets light enough to take a photo. I missed my opportunity yesterday when I was busy visiting with both my children (at once! miracle!) and babysitting a grumpy Stargazer while trying to feed, de-cast-ify and bathe Rosebud at the same time. Just a little occupied.

Then Milady Daughter and I took Rosebud for her 6th cast (one per week!) and her doctor is now sure that she didn’t get the Botox in her last injection. Pooh. It was a 50/50 chance as part of the study. Anyway it will only set her back a little and not be a problem in the long run. Otherwise Rosebud is doing very well, eating a tonne and growing a lot. Another reason for the many casts because you don’t want to impede the circulation as her leg is growing along with the rest of her. The good news is that I get to have them both over every week before their hospital appointment and then I go with them to be an extra hand. Good thing I’m strong these days because I’m quite helpful in the lifting department with a car seat and stroller to be manipulated in and out of the car etc. Daughter is still recuperating from her C-section and finds it awkward to manage it. I’m just glad I can help.

Backing up a little and changing the subject again, on Sunday we decided that there are several plants that I could get started under the grow-lights. Yes, I know it’s still nominally winter but some things are slow to germinate. And some things take a long time to get big enough to transplant. And some things can go out as early as we can get the beds ready for them. So with that in mind, I went through the seed stash and figured out what we needed to buy and then we went to the plant store. Or more correctly: stores. It took two before I managed to find most of what I was looking for. I was still too late to get more of the Juliet tomatoes that I like so much from West Coast Seeds. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve lucked out and either the seed supply is short or everybody loves them as much as I do! I have a few old seeds left but I can’t save them from the plants because they are an F1 hybrid. Boo-hoo! I need to find an open-pollinated tomato with the same characteristics: vigorous growth, production and disease resistance in a cherry-tomato-sized Roma type. They even ripen and keep well on the kitchen counter (we ate the last one in December) and halves dry to yummy morsels in the dehydrator. So far, no such luck in finding a replacement. I haven’t totally given up on old Juliet yet though. Next we go to their retail store in Ladner. I’m on a mission! If they don’t have them there, they don’t have them at all.

On another subject entirely – yet still about frustration – you know how it is when you have a bee in your bonnet but you can’t talk about it in public for fear of Hurt Feelings? Not to mention sounding even more rude than I usually manage? Sorry to tease without giving you details, but I’m annoyed with an attitude that I’ve encountered recently. If I say anything to the contrary, I sound like an intolerant bigot. I’m not. At least I believe that others are welcome to their convictions whether or not I agree with them. As long as their beliefs don’t impact me in any negative way, that is. However I think I’m also entitled to have an opposing opinion but unfortunately some people just can’t discuss things in a rational manner. What do you do if you can’t agree to disagree? I guess you let it drop and then you avoid the bone of contention. And perhaps the person espousing it too. But I’m still annoyed. And frustrated that I can’t say more. And no, the problem is not with anybody close to me.

Whew! Got that off my chest. I feel better now. (Also the Advil kicked in.) Probably made my Dear Readers frustrated in turn though, didn’t I?

And this darn blog needs more pictures! Not dark rainy blech though…

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Knitting Likes & Dislikes

Today I’m still feeling a bit under the weather. And the weather itself is pretty lousy: 4” of snow followed by drizzling rain. Bleh. T-Man is working from home to avoid driving on the yucky streets. At least he hasn’t caught the dreaded bug. Yet.

So with nothing else to do, I started thinking (uh-oh!) about what I like and what I don’t like as it relates to knitting and knitted designs and garments. Here’s a rather random sample.

I prefer:

  • simply constructed yarns over fancy boucles, knots, fuzz, eyelash, art yarns etc.
  • handspun over commercially spun
  • some variation and depth of colour over all one flat shade
  • deeply saturated colours over pale pastels
  • pretty much any stitches from plain stockinette to the most elaborate lace and cables
  • except for reverse stockinette. Does not appeal at all!
  • top-down over toe-up socks
  • gloves over mitts, though fingerless is ok
  • thumbs must have a gusset
  • tams over tuques
  • long narrow over short wide scarves
  • no fringe
  • triangle or “boomerang” over rectangular shawls
  • cardigans over pullovers
  • longer over cropped, never shorter than waist level
  • either 3/4-length or no sleeves over long or short sleeves

I tend to knit some things following the pattern (lace shawls, hats for example) and others I will modify (particularly more close-fitting sweaters). Of course some things need to fit and with others it doesn’t really matter if they are slightly larger or smaller. I knit a bit loosely so I often need to go down a needle size or two to get gauge. I knit Continental though I learned the English way. When I work two-colour knitting, I put the main colour in my right and the contrast in my left hand. These days however it’s getting harder to remember how to knit with my right hand! I’m really out of practice. Unlike most knitters, my purl rows are a tiny smidgen tighter than my knit rows. And I actually like purling! Maybe it’s my technique which I find very easy. I use my left forefinger to push the yarn down to where I can grab it with my right needle. Needs a video, doesn’t it?

Anyhow, this photo is from before I frogged the Holden Shawlette yesterday:

AMs Holden_prog

Isn’t the yarn pretty? It’s Newton’s Yarn Country Happy Feet, 100% superwash merino. Looks like a handpaint and comes in a huge skein – sadly with several knots included. You can’t see the mistake in the shawl. Neither did I until I tried to count stitches and realised I had one too many on one side! Took me all day yesterday to reknit the thing after taking it back to less than an inch from the cast-on. Now it looks just like that only bigger – and minus the boo-boo. Sheesh. I’d be halfway through the edging by now! Never mind. I still have plenty of time. It would have driven me nuts to leave the error in.

While I’m working on the shawlette I’ve been neglecting the Zip-Front Vest. Currently it looks like this:


Not terribly exciting really but I’m happy with the way it’s coming out. I’ve almost used one ball of the Berroco Remix yarn. This stuff seems to go a long way on one 100g ball! I hate yarns that only have about 70 yds per ball and you need about 15 of them to make a sweater. Dumb. Yeah, I know all the arguments about how it saves having too many leftovers etc. But it doesn’t really. They just charge you more for each ball because they have to wind it and put a label on it. And I still would buy more than the pattern called for anyhow because I’m always afraid of running out. I’d much rather have lots left over than not be able to get more if I need it. I’m used to handspun yarn where I can squeeze 2 or 3 ounces of yarn onto a bobbin. You only need maybe 5 or 6 of them for a large long-sleeved sweater. Less ends to work in too. Just one of my little Pet Peeves.

I think if knitters demanded a larger put-up with more yardage, the manufacturers would comply. After all, they’ve mostly gone to 100g balls of sock yarn now where you can get an average-sized pair out of one ball instead of having to find 2 of the same 50g ones. Unless your recipient has humungous feet and needs more than 400m. In which case I would suggest getting 3 balls and making 2 pairs. Or 2 balls and making 1 large and 1 smaller pair. Or something else like a hat, gloves or fingerless mitts out of the leftovers. Of all the yarn types, I think sock yarn is the most versatile in the kinds of items you can make out of it. Likely why I have more sock yarn in my stash than anything else! Except maybe lace weight yarn. And we won’t even talk about the weaving yarns, ok?

Recently I’ve been more interested in knitting garments and for some reason the ones I like are all in bulky yarns. I don’t have a bulky yarn stash! I’d have to spin some. Which is probably not a bad idea if I can remember how. I’ve been spinning fine yarns now for so long it’s hard to go back to thicker ones. I can do it if I concentrate! Besides I have lots of wool in pretty colours all ready for blending. Need to use some up for sure.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Haz a Code

But I’m not going to bore you with whinging about it. Instead I’m going to whinge about my current project, the Holden Shawlette for T-Man’s Auntie M. (No worries. She doesn’t have a computer and so can’t read my blog.) I’m using some of my stash of Newton’s Yarn Country Happy Feet sock yarn in turquoise, purples and a few in-between colours. So there I was knitting away on it and it was coming out very lovely when…I noticed an error. Whaaaa….An error that was waaaaayyyyyy back near the beginning. Doh. I am famous for never making those kind of mistakes in complex lace patterns but too damn often in the plain areas. I guess I just don’t pay as much attention to the simple stuff. In this case, the shawl is knit from the centre of the long side down (as in Evelyn Clark’s patterns) and has a large central plain stockinette area before getting to the feather-and-fan-ish edging. Now I’m back almost at the beginning again because I. Could. Not. Leave. It. WRONG. I’d much rather knit it all over again than know there was a fudge in it. Besides, what else do I have to do? Oh yeah. Lazing around in bed snivelling.

I did manage to suck it up yesterday though. I felt not too bad in the morning and even got the bed sheets changed and the laundry started before Milady Daughter showed up with Rosebud. I’ve so enjoyed our little pre-hospital appointment visits! Rosebud’s cast has to be removed shortly before the next one goes on and my house is only a few minutes away whereas hers is at least 45 minutes (on a good day). So we chat and unwind the cast material and give Rosebud a much-needed bath. She is very content in the water and doesn’t even mind getting her hair washed.

This time the adventures at the hospital were very short. All that was necessary was that Rosebud get her progress checked out and her leg re-casted. She only squawked when her foot was flexed while being tested and then settled nearly to sleep with a bottle while the cast was put on. Such a good baby. But not too good! She does let you know if she’s really unhappy about something. She just doesn’t make a fuss for no reason.

Doting Granny, aren’t I?

Unfortunately today I’m not feeling quite so energetic. Just hanging out under the covers and trying to knit back to where I was before I frogged the shawlette. Nothing to see yet. Move along. Come back when I have something more interesting to talk about.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


And not the birdie kind of grouse either. I caught Milady Daughter’s cold when I spent the day with her last Wednesday. Last night’s sore throat made it hard to sleep. Do you think this is the ’Verse’s way of laughing at me for choosing “Acceptance” as my word for 2011? Now I must accept being sick for the first time since the middle of last summer. Drats. Typhoid Mary Milady Daughter also managed to share her bug with her baby and her husband. Hope I don’t continue to pass it on. Nasty one, this! I’ll have to suck it up tomorrow though because I get to help with Rosebud’s cast removal and bathing before they head off to get another cast on her not-so-curly-anymore foot.

On a more cheerful note, I finished several projects recently about which I haven’t blogged yet:

Rosebud’s First & Second Socks

SweetBabySocks  BabySocks2

For: Granddaughter Rosebud

Begun: January 2, 2011 & January 5, 2011
Completed: January 4, 2011 & January 8, 2011

Yarn: First pair - leftover scraps of DGB Confetti Stretch, 70% superwash wool/23% nylon/7% polyester, colourway 25.02, dyelot 8123. Second pair – leftover scraps of Opal Mexiko (discontinued), 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, colourway Veracruz. Approx 25 g each.

Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo 5” dpns, 2mm.

Pattern: On 44sts, leg 2/2 rib for 3.25”, foot 3.5” before toe secs, dec to 5sts each needle, dog ear reduction. Finished sock measures 4.75” circumference and 4.5” long.

Comments: First pair’s yarn is a small amount of leftovers from her cousin the Princess’s sadly unworn legwarmers. I thought I had run out of yarn before I finished but I managed to find another little ball in the sock yarn scraps box. These have to be a little large to fit over her cast but she’s still going to have to grow into them.

Second pair is knit with well-aged stash leftovers and slightly shorter, only 3.25” foot before toe decs. They’re 4.25” long and might fit a little better. Still too big of course! Rosebud has teensy feet. Must take after her daddy there, not her mommy.

I also have this project that’s been done for awhile:

Dark o’the Moon Knee Socks

Dark oKneeSocks

For: me

Begun: December 6, 2010
Completed: January 2, 2011

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL, 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, colour 325, dyelot 19214 (very dark navy with dashes of purple and black). 100g = 420m. 1.5 balls (50g left).

Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo 5” dpns, 2mm.

Pattern: Used to be Ann’s Knee High Socks by Ann Ackerman but I’ve changed them quite significantly.

Dark oKneeSocks2 Modifications: Pattern is adjusted for regular sock yarn. CO 88, cuff 5”, 3” straight before calf shaping, place markers: 12 st on either side of centre back st, dec every 4 rounds just inside markers creating a v-shaped gusset, last dec is a centred double-dec. 64 sts rem after dec, 6” straight after calf shaping & before beg of heel flap. Complete rest of sock as usual to fit foot.

Comments: I changed the name of these socks a couple of times but am happy with what I ended up with! Next time I would go 4” straight after the cuff and before the calf shaping and then 5” after the shaping is completed. I meant to do that this time but forgot so added an extra inch to the bottom straight section instead. Otherwise I think I’m edging ever closer to the perfect-fitting knee sock for my leg. The deeper cuff definitely helps keep the socks up without garters.

I’ve started a new project with the leftover Berroco Remix, plus additional balls. I liked the idea of Quincy’s Vest by Leigh Radford from Interweave Knits, Summer 2002. But I didn’t like several things about the fit and my yarn is more worsted or aran instead of the called-for bulky. So I used the main style points (sleeveless, zip-front, twisted rib side gussets etc.) and re-plotted a pattern with my own measurements and gauge using my Knitware software. I made it a bit longer and fairly closely fitting and adjusted the number of ribs upward to fit the finer gauge. I debated putting pockets in this vest but talked myself out of it. Pockets are very useful but also add a lot of bulk right where I don’t need it. I also planned it to be knit in one piece from the hem up rather than seaming the sides. I’ve only knit a few inches and am just about to start the waist shaping but it’s looking very nice so far. I hope to get a lot of wear out of this garment when it’s done.

However, I’m going to have to put it on hold for awhile because I have a 90th birthday shawl to knit for Nana’s sister, Auntie M. We’ve been invited to the party on the Sunshine Coast (pretty scenery, a ferry ride and all) and I have less than a month to finish. Already located the pattern and yarn. More on this later. Meanwhile, I think I’ll carry on with the vest today. And read in front of the nice fire in the woodstove. Be Gone, Cold Germs!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Mellow Yellows

I’ve been a bit remiss in my posting lately. I do have lots to talk about though. We had a lovely New Year’s Day family dinner at my brother-in-law’s. Most of the usual suspects were there so there was nearly as many as there was on Christmas Day at our house. And their house is even smaller! Though they do have a finished basement where the young-uns could go to play out of the way of the rest of the gang. Kept the noise level down somewhat anyhow. At least until the girl cousins (6 & 5) started a friendly screaming contest. Yikes! What lungs! They shut up pretty quickly when it was made clear that they were driving us all nuts. There was also apparently a cute photo taken of the littlest cousins which I haven’t yet really seen. I want a copy! Just a hint…

T-Man has had quite a few days off here and there also which of course kept me busy. We walked a lot whenever the weather cooperated. It was a vain attempt to walk off some of the holiday goodies we’ve consumed the last few weeks. Gotta try anyway, right?

This past week I got to personally remove 1-month-old Rosebud’s third leg cast and help give her a bath before heading out to Children’s Hospital for a lengthy round of procedures. I was glad I came with Milady Daughter because it was pretty major stuff: ultrasound on both legs, x-rays, an injection that may or may not have been botox, and finally a fourth cast. Rosebud is participating in a study to prove that the botox works and relieves babies with club foot from having to have surgery on their Achilles tendon. They do such wonderful work on this and I can already see an amazing difference in her little curly foot. It will be as close to perfect as it can get but it’s a long road. At least their study participation relieves them of some of the costs of the botox and the boots-and-bar system that comes later. (Edited to correct: actually she gets her special running shoes later.) And they get lots of detailed information from the extra tests and documentation. Win-win, I would say. Except for all the hospital appointments! Can you spell t-e-d-i-o-u-s?

Then yesterday my Spectrum Study Group came over and we made use of my dye studio with a day of Yellows! Coreopsis and osage orange were the dyestuffs. It was hard to figure out how much dried coreopsis flowers to use since I wasn’t sure of the exact weight of the skeins everyone brought. I erred on the side of excess and went with 250g which I thought would be good for at least 500g. It was really strong though especially after I did an overnight soak and 2 more heat extractions and put it all together for the dyebath. So intense we got a lot of deep gold colours from the first skeins. Only a small amount was dyed in the not-particularly-exhausted second bath and it was still quite gold rather than yellow. There’s plenty of colour left in it still. I’m going to try to save it for next month in the cold room which this time of year is as cold as a refrigerator.

I also soaked the 200g of osage sawdust overnight and only simmered it for about 2.5 hours or so before we dyed with it. It wasn’t nearly as strong and we got some lovely clear lemon yellows from that bath. My skein of silk was already dyed in a very uneven indigo so I got a lovely green in the exhaust bath. It ended up practically clear after the second use. I am going to try to extract a bit more colour from the sawdust though and see what we get. I’ll save that bath in the cold room too.

Here’s just some of the colours we got:

Coreopsis and Osage2

(These are all still wet of course.) The pretty green in the middle-bottom row was osage with an iron modifier afterward. The more teal colour is my indigo overdyed with osage. My big skein of superfine merino lace yarn on the right was the very strong coreopsis with an ammonia modifier afterward. It’s a gorgeous shade of rusty brown. Want to see it closer?


I plan to knit a fine lace shawl with this. Eventually. I totally adore that colour!

We have several salient points about dyeing with natural dyestuffs but my favourite one is:

Love the colour you get.

You can aim for a certain colour family but you never know what exact shade it will turn out. It’s always an adventure! It’s somewhat easier to be predictable with extracts but even then there are variations. Helps to take notes. Also discovered: yellow is a perfect colour to dye on a rainy cold dark day in January. Cheers you right up.

I have a couple of FOs too but I’ll save them for next time.