Monday, July 30, 2007

Trekking Socks

Have moved from OTN to FO. Witness.

I have now cast on for another pair of the Knitpicks Moc Croc socks. They're the only pattern that seems suitable to me for the yarn I'm using currently; a very short color change and a cottony type feel. I tried casting on for the Zokni socks but hated the way they looked. So I .... wait for it... RIPPED them out! I guess I'm getting more mature about my knitting. Good thing I am about something!

Later will be picks of the fiber spun during the Tour de Fleece. Oh! And my boss' wife tells me my plant is Dusty Miller. WHoo hoo!

Dye Swatch

I knit this from samples from the experiments in the previous post. I think I'm going to continue it with each experiment.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dyeing Experiments

May, 2007
My first dyeing experiment was with Eucalyptus wood. The wood was obtained from a tree in our yard which had fallen during a wind storm over the winter. The wood had aged a bit, perhaps four months, on the ground. It was in chunks of about one inch or so. I steeped it in Everclear for several weeks. I then heated it in the microwave with two small skeins, one mordanted with aluminum alum and the other unmordanted. I heated and cooled it a minute or two at a time, approximately 5 times. I allowed it to cool, removed and rinsed the yarn. It left a lovely reddish tan color on both skeins. I cannot tell any difference at present between the mordanted and unmordanted.

June, 2007
My second experiment was with an unidentified plant from our front yard. Dorothy said it was “Gray” something. The leaves and stem are a gray color with irregular shaped leaves, and the flower is a small bright yellow with multiple leaves. I used the flowers only, collected at full bloom, and steeped for several weeks in everclear. I again used the heat and cool method in the microwave, with a skein each of mordanted and unmordanted wool. The color left is a soft sage, actually very pretty. Again, I can’t see any difference between the mordanted and unmordanted.

July 2007
My third experiment was with copper. I made several mistakes with this experiment. The first was using a copper scrubber that was “copperized” rather than one of real copper. I steeped it in water for several weeks, then heated it with the skeins. No color change whatever.

I then got some real copper scrubbers. I placed one in water, in a small crock pot, and added the yarn, unfortunately, dry. Duh. I simmered overnight. It made a color change to a green/blue color, but was very blotchy and uneven. I blame it on the dry yarn and lack of stirring. Just for fun, I stirred the pot well, wet the skeins, and threw them back in. The color change was much better, but the areas that had dyed previously turned sort of a greenish black. A far less pleasing color. I hope to try again with better techniques to see if I can get a more even color.

I currently have two pots of avocado peel fermenting; one in water, one in alcohol. I’m still looking for non sudsing ammonia to do another pot. I also added more alcohol to the first pot of eucalyptus wood and have left that steeping as well. And today, I just decided to try the copper again... the right way. Pics for all these experiments soon, I hope. (I guess I need to pay my photographer more. Right, honey?) Pics added.

Can anyone tell me what this plant is?


Found you!
You signed up on July 8, 2007
You are #14966 on the list.
7604 people are ahead of you in line.
6463 people are behind you in line.
33% of the list has been invited so far

Sigh. Why do I torture myself looking EVERY SINGLE DAY when they're inviting about 200 per day? At that rate it'll be like a YEAR. Sigh.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Due to some unexpected expenses, I decided the other day to sell on of my wheels. I listed it on and surprisingly, I got a call almost immediately! (Thanks, Elisa!) Tonight, however, as I was cleaning it and preparing it for transport to Guild tomorrow, I started to tear up. I can't sell this wheel! This was my first big deal! My husband and I lovingly sanded and stained and assembled it. I LOVE this wheel! Yes, I love all my wheels. What's a fiber freak to do?

So I'm already spinning up some charcol gray Coopworth X New Zealand roving on my beloved Baynes. I'm not ready to give her up. I guess we'll just have to look harder in the sofa cushions.

But there WILL be fiber and FO's for sale in the store, as soon as the resident photographer takes the pics!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour Crash

Well, I was going gangbusters for a while there. I spun the two ounces of tencel wool blend and I love the results. I'm 7/8ths done with 4 oz of chocolate alpaca (YUM!) when BOOM.... the knee flares up again.

I was finally feeling hopeful. Monday, the WHOLE day, I walked sans limp. No pain. I walked without a waddle, without the ache. I was gleeful. Giddy even. Then Tuesday evening came, and I could feel the joint getting tight, swelling up by the minute. By Wednesday night, I was considering pulling out the cane. Sigh.

So, fortuitously, I had a follow up with the esteemed surgeon. He said "Considering what we found when we got in there, this isn't really surprising. This will not be your last surgery. Care for some cortisone shot?"

I'm ten weeks post op, for crying out loud! I really had expected to be better than this.

I declined the shot, as I'm afraid of the "kickback" effect he described. It's better today and really, it's not so much painful as distressing. I'll hold off on the cortisone until it's more severe. After all, Monday was so good! If it got there once, it'll get there again, right? So I do my exercises and ice and hold my breath a lot.

But it has cramped my spinning. Rats. Maybe this weekend I'll be able to get back to it. I hope so!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I haven't updated my links and such in a while. I've started, but it's going to take a while! Meanwhile, check out my store at Fiber; I've posted a few things but more will be ups shortly. I'd love your comments on the store.

I need to reduce my stash, so look for a LOT of yarn and fiber to be put up soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007


No, I didn't poke myself with a DPN. Much, much, much worse.

I frogged my Mystery Stole.

153 rows completed, and I just wasn't happy with it. I'd made a few mistakes, and that defective yarn thing just made the whole stole look sloppy and ick. So I bit the bullet and with tears rolling, I frogged the entire thing. Cut off the first 100 yards or so of the triple ply, and already I'm back on the horse. (Man, I'm using a lot of aphorisms...)

I am so glad I did it.

The second attempt is coming out so much cleaner looking. I'm using size three needles instead of the fours I was using, and instead of the addi circ, I"m using some Crystal Palace bamboo straights. The points are much more suited to the lace weight yarn, and it's not sliding the way it did on the addi's. I'm thrilled. Ok, so it was two weeks worth of work; I'll be so much happier with the finished product.

For those who don't know, and probably don't care, I hate ripping out. Tinking back a row, well, maybe; but to actually RIP out rows where you have to go back and pick up the stitches again? YIKES! I'd rather start over. And with this project it really was best.

So now I"m excited about the MS3 again.

Oh, and I've kept up with the Tour de Fleece; I finished the tencel blend and I love it. I think I'm going to keep it as a single; it seems fairly well balanced and I don't want to mess up the colors. With only 2 oz, I don't know what to do with it though.

Now I'm trying to do a lovely chocolate brown alpaca in lace weight plied... we'll see!

Pics when able.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tour de Fleece

Ok, so I haven't done much spinning of late. My knee hurt too much until about two weeks ago. I was so happy when I found I could spin again, I jumped right in and spun too long, and my knee ached for days. So I decided to limit the time spinning per day. Which was ok. But I've been spinning this CRAP fiber that I'm so disappointed in. I need to look up where I bought it because I never EVER want to buy fiber there again. I got it directly from the shepard's farm. The breed is Polypay. It's sticky (despite two washings and a dyeing), it's full of VM and coarse black hairs, which I could live with, but it's also full of neps. I mean FULL of neps. I end up pulling out a huge pile of unspinnable fiber every time I spin it, and it just not fun. I finally finished one strip of purple koolaid dyed fiber, washed and skeined it, and it's horrible. I had wanted to use it for the Sheep Thrills hat exchange, but no way would I wear a hat made out of it; it's far too coarse and itchy.

So when I started the Tour de Fleece, (and I haven't missed a day yet!) I finished the purple, started on the red. But this was duty. This was labor. This was a miserable time. Last night I decided if I was going to commit to a project like this, I should enjoy it, dammit! So I took that bobbin off the Majacraft and thought "what would I love to spin?"

Ohhhhh my. I bought this roving at the Santa Monica Fiber and bead Fest last August and have been afraid to touch it. The colors are so amazing! So I threw caution to the wind and loaded up a fresh bobbing and oh my I am in LOVE. The fiber is Tencel and Merino and it feels and looks like silk. The color is copper and brown and purple and green and just gorgeous. My husband thought it looked like a coil of copper wire, but soft! I can't wait to spin this stuff and I finally remember why I love to spin.

The lesson being get good fiber! It's such a shame that the Polypay is such a mess, and purely the shepardess' fault in carding, I think. I have a pound of the roving, and I'll spin it all eventually, but it's too icky to make anything to wear, so I'm wondering why.

Anyone with a suggestion on what to do with it? Compost heap? Maybe dog coats? Rug?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Promised Pics

Ok, these are the socks. Bad photo. Blame the otherwise perfect Spouse. Will try again later.

These are the newly cast on trekking socks. It's funny, but I really like Trekking yarn. It's coarse, not wonderfully soft like most fiber I like, but somehow, the socks come out really great. Of course, 110 degree heat in Southern CA doesn't exactly make one run for the warm socks...

And here is the MS3, completed up to row 132. Can you see the line where the plys changed? I'm hoping when it's finished and blocked, it won't be too noticeable. And if it is? Well, another shawl for me!

Fibery Stuff

I am in love with homemade socks. I have now made five pairs and have cast on for my sixth. They are fun to make, portable with large sections that don't require huge detailed attention, and so comfortable to wear. It's also very cool to have people exclaim "You MADE those?"

I've learned a lot in making those pairs, and continue to do so. I never knew there were so many ways of making heels and toes, or even of knitting types. DPN's, both one and two circular needle, toe up, toe down. It's amazing. I feel a need to design coming on, and perhaps after I finish the Simple Trekking Socks I will take a stab at it.

I've signed up for a few "---a-longs"; the Tour de Fleece, which is a commitment to spin every day the Tour de France runs. I'm participating in an exchange on the Sheep Thrills group where we spin the yarn to then knit (or crochet) a hat, due in September. Finally, I'm doing (and yes, actually doing! the MS3 knit along. MS3 means Mystery Stole #3. It's a lace stole being knitted sight unseen by thousands of people all over the world. We receive "clues" every Friday and try to knit them before the next clue is released. I started the MS2 last year and never got past the 8th row. Stop laughing! I had only just learned to knit, and it was a little over my head. This year I'm up to row 115, and it's going fairly well. I'll get a picture up soon. The only problem with it is that my yarn is faulty. STOP LAUGHING, I said! No, really it is! I'm using White Jaggerspun Zephyr, which is a lovely lace weight 50% wool, 50% silk. After knitting 110 rows, it suddenly went from a three ply to a two ply. Losing a third of it's bulk changes how the knitting looks, who knew? It seems like the rest of the one pound cone I purchased remains two ply, so I'm not quite sure what to do. If you think I'm frogging 110 rows of beaded lace, you're out of your mind! I'm hoping it won't be that noticeable. STOP LAUGHING!

Time for coffee, and maybe some picture taking, and then to tackle the 116th row...

On to something lighter.

You know how being a parent can be really really hard? When you have those days that you're so stressed out and exhausted that just brushing your child's teeth seems insurmountable?

Today, I had a day that makes those days worthwhile.

Murphy and Dad were playing games on the computer, and he mentioned that he had had a bad day the day before; he'd broken a knick-knack, and hurt himself, and forgotten a thing or two which needed correcting. But then he said something that made every travail in my whole life worth it. He said

"Yeah, but most of my days are the best day ever."


Friday, July 06, 2007

An open letter to ALL Politicians

Wake up.

No, really. I mean it.

You claim to want what’s best for this country. You claim to serve it. YOU ARE LYING.

Stop worrying about the next election. Stop worrying about your legacy, and your war-chest, and your popularity. Wake up and look, really LOOK at what’s happening in this country.

We are losing America.

Every value, every right and freedom and philosophy that the Founding Fathers worked so hard for, that they fought and died for, that they risked everything for; it’s all being trashed by a power hungry greedy corporatist administration. Six years in office and somehow these people have pulled the Constitution right out from under us, and you have allowed it.

You are as responsible as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney for the condition America finds itself in. You did not do your job. You sat back, Republican and Democrat alike, perhaps for reasons dissimilar, yet sit you did, watching, smiling as the coffers increased, as our rights were eroded, as a three branch co-equal government system was raped, leaving us with a unitary executive whose sole motives are power and greed.

Are you aware of National Security Presidential Directive 51? Where are the challenges to this power grab? Any crisis, anywhere in the world, and Mr. Bush can declare himself dictator, with unlimited, unchecked power, including the power to remain in office past 2008.

Are you aware of the theft of Iraqi oil? We do not steal it to pay for reconstruction of the country, no; it’s merely for the profit of the world cabal of Oil Companies. We, the United States of America, are allowing a group of Oil Companies to literally write laws in Iraq which outright give rights to nearly all current and ALL future oil fields to Exxon and Standard Oil, et al. Oh, a twenty percent share goes to be split between the factions in Iraq, after of course, the Iraqi government gets its cut, which has yet to be determined. The Iraqi reluctance to sign this bill is delaying one of the “benchmarks” that the US has imposed to go forward in Iraq. Is this not extortion? People do not understand the greed. They say that if this war is being fought for oil, why are the prices so high? They must understand that it is for control of oil that it is being fought. They have no interest in bringing prices down. By owning, they can control the price, and controlling the price, control much of the commerce in the world.

I was moved to tears this week, watching the history of our Revolution unfold on TV, in honor of Independence Day. I watched how this group of men decided that the King’s rule was intolerable, that their basic human rights had been violated, and that therefore they had a DUTY to rise up against such oppression. These men did not do this lightly. They placed their lives in jeopardy, their families and their homes at risk. They knew what they were getting into. Their families were tortured and killed, their farms were burned, they were hanged and abused, yet they persisted.
They saw that what they were fighting for was bigger than themselves. They wrangled and fought even amongst their own to found a government that could be an example of freedom and democracy to the world. They fought against all odds and they won.

Read the Federalist Papers, and the correspondences of the Founding Fathers. They explored and shared and dissected every area of Government. Why have a government? Who should the government serve? How can that Government be structured and confined? What are human rights, and how can they be attained? Their party affiliations were chosen by the philosophical bent of the party, not by issues.

Where is our Jefferson? Our Franklin and Adams? Where are those with the courage and conviction to stand against a rogue administration and lead the masses back to the Constitution? There are rare few voices out there, and unfortunately, they are marginalized. Dennis Kucinich pens a Resolution of Impeachment against the most toxic Vice President in our history, and people laugh. Over and over the Democrats give up before they even start, saying “oh, we don’t have the votes.” Well, dammit, make the stand anyway. Let the people, yes, WE the people, know that you tried. Let the world know that the majority of our citizenry does not support the policies of this President.

It is simply incomprehensible to me that even the staunchest of Republicans can support this President. There is nothing about this man that is truly Republican. He has spent the biggest budget surplus in history down to record deficits, and none of that has gone to programs that help mainstream Americans. His record on the environment, on health care and science, on immigration and national security are failures in every possible way.

I know there are protests going on. I’ve been to a few, and I get emails every day from very large groups who are working to reign in this Administration. Why do we not hear about it? When 10,000 protest immigration policies in LA, we hear about it, but when there are nationwide protests organized by Code Pink, or World Can’t Wait, or the Coalition for Peace? Not a word.

To all of you facing re-election in the coming years please know this. All the money you raise is useless. Your fate rests in the hands of millions of others like me. We’re ANGRY. We want leaders who will serve US. We want to believe that the people we support will have a backbone and a basic knowledge of right and wrong. We want someone who will tell us the truth, even if it hurts. We want the Constitution to mean something again, and not be viewed as a “quaint document.” We want honest, thoughtful dialog, where people who disagree can work together for the good of the country, without vitriol, without name calling. We want respect for all Americans.

If you believe in America and what it stands for; if you “defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, then you will do anything and everything to preserve it.

Are YOU that person?