Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Longfellow slept here?

Actually he didn't. But my in-law's house sits on Minnehaha Creek, which leads to Lake Nokomis and I can't help thinking of the Hiawatha poem when we're there. You can drive on Hiawatha to get to Nokomis, in your Winnebago. Wearing Cherokee jeans. I could go on.
I was there, in Minnesota, last weekend. I finished the clapotis in my first 10 minutes of knitting,clapfin1_505 and was glad to have it in the chill. My sister-in-law lavished such compliments on me -uh, I mean it- that I will make her one. I'd enjoy knitting another clapotis, everytime I got to a drop the stitches row I felt a tingle of entertainment that the knitting was performing for me, instead the other way around. The details:
  • pattern: Clapotis designed by Kate Gilbert , who must be very very clever.
  • yarn: ggh Safari, a mostly linen yarn, on size 5 needles.
  • adaptations: The pattern repeats were increased in width and length by about 30% to have it come out close to the designed dimensions. Although it stretches........clapfin2_505
I made a stop at Linden Hill Yarns in hip Minneapolis to get a new project underway for the rest of the visit and plane ride home. I was in town for a funeral, an unplanned trip. The owner, Jan, and the knitters-at-the-table were friendly and so very patient when the frazzled part of the weekend hijacked the decision lobe of my brain. I was struck dumb with indecision over which cottony yarn to buy for a tank top with cable.

The Rowan Calmer on the counter was all but paid for when I was seized by doubt - the pale tasteful lavendar might look gray in certain light and that wasn't what I wanted. I dithered around, deciding & undeciding. Just before I made us all insane, I noticed a table-knitter working with some Classic Elite Star. I'd overlooked this yarn, not imagining how it'd knit up.
I wasn't sure about the color until Jan told me it was called granny smith green. Clearly this marketing approach works on me: Named for a fruit I like? Why, sure I'll buy it! I've never knit with a 99% cotton 1% spandex before but the stretch is nice, and should cut down on the sag factor of the finished piece.

Next post, show & tell of the stretchy green apple yarn in progress. I'll leave you with some uptown Minneapolis color:uptowncolor

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

this, that & some sheep

First up the book swap : we have a go! The blogless Susanne will soon be cabling with Alice Starmore. In 4-7 days, I'm told. Her copy of Scarf Style is heading to my happy home. I recommend this swap thing. I gave a thought to Ann's suggestion that Starmore is a keeper for my library. Flipping through the harbor scenes and remembering all the times I'd considered knitting the fishermen's guernseys, and what yarn I'd considered........... Nah. Off it went.

Life has been getting in the way of my knitting. Which, truly, is better than the reverse. But, still. My Clapotis has maybe 20 minutes of knitting left to go on it. Sadly, it'll be making its debut at the funeral of someone I'm going to miss very much, my mother-in-law. I don't want to say more except, if you smoke? And you enjoy it even though you know its not good for you? And its really hard to quit so you put it off for the month, or the year, or the decade? Just quit now.


I've made valiant efforts to get yarn for a new project - something sleeveless and cottony- but the weirdly limited hours of yarn stores are thwarting me. (ooh, thwart, a candidate for the Nake-Id word list ) . I've been thwarted three times since Friday.
- leisure time activity? Need to have the stores open more leisure time hours. Its a thought!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

dyeing to share

Overheard, whispered frantically, unaware of me listening:

"Before you go in there - Mom's getting freaky! First, she buys kool-aid. Then she sticks wool in it. And now..she's cooking it. In.... the microwave!"

Yes, its true. I've never purchased kool-aid for drinking. Forcing them to drink natural fruit juice. The cruelty! The freakiness!

It was easy, it was fun , not messy at all, and smelled fruity. First, what was once a skein of Brown Sheep in a natural whitish with gray became this in Berry Blue.Adye02 (its wet here, don't worry, it lightens up). A second skein failed to get discernibly green when dyed in Arctic Green Apple. The Arctic flavors, it turns out, are all opaque & frosty looking so maybe that's the problem. The second time around, in 2 parts Watermelon Kiwi and 1 part Berry Blue, a happy ending.

I'm now one toe away from the slippery slope of buying a bunch of natural wool on ebay , dyeing it and taking a table to the nearby Saturday morning farm market later this summer. I was telling this to my friend who, instead of saying how utterly ridiculous this would be, said hey, cool, I'll help. I told her she's an enabler.

Dyeing aside, I started to figure out that I wanted to knit with it. Maybe a scarf or shawl? I keep noticing scarves I like on other blogs from the Scarf Style book, which brings me to propose a

Book Swap

My copy of Alice Starmore's Fishermen's Knits is unloved. I bought it when I was on a guernsey/gansey kick years ago , then never found anything in it that called to me. I guess the three patterns I'd been fixated on at the time were enough. This has nice photos and much beautiful multiple cabling but I never could commit to a knit. True, it made me want to sail to the pub and share a pint with the fishermen but that's not the point, is it?

Wanna swap? Your copy of Scarf Style for my copy of Starmore's Fishermen's Knits. If you want to see some action from this book, take a gecko at Wendy's Inishmore Challenge, flying on her needles as we speak.

If you're interested, email me at ezisusATsnetDOTnet, and we'll exchange delivery addresses.

Please pass the word on this, I really like the two dozen of you friends who visit me but maybe you don't want to swap.....

Friday, May 13, 2005


Two whole weekend days ahead to get projects underway.
predye Here's a Sheep Shots Partial Project Picture.
I promise I won't keep aliterating but I might mis-use the word hank lower down. Just warning you.

The Brown Fleece you see is in one of four tin flower window boxes that are plunk in the middle of the living room, along with eight brackets. We've been tripping over them there since I didn't hang them last weekend. In one, the Brown Sheep natural that I'm thinking of dyeing.

Earlier, I was doing a photo favor for an artist friend. As she was watching me, I was whining to explaining to her about not having enough time for kool aid dyeing , I just couldn't rationalize it because the first step, of winding the skeins into big loops (hanks?) seemed too much given the to-do list. She's a friend who just loooves a project. She looked here, decided I should be dyeing whole sweaters (yes plural) worth of yarn next, and immediately unwound and hanked the first one for me. It made me unreasonably happy for the rest of the afternoon.

So I just need to get the photo work (at least 4 hours worth) promised out to Fed Ex, the window boxes hung & planted , the weeds pulledwater the social events attended and its Kool-Aid time for me. But first, off to yoga. Later!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

an avatar & an omen

av·a·tar Pronunciation (v-tär)
1. The incarnation of a Hindu deity, especially Vishnu, in human or animal form.
2. An embodiment, as of a quality or concept; an archetype:
3. A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity


Yeah, this is a good representation of me this week. Nothing too awful, just issues with work, not enough hours, and a teenaged son who's dicovering a social life. I scored a trifecta of things I don't like last Saturday: a trip to the mall (see: teenage son , above), playing outfield with a not-so-softball, and seeing a super-duper action film. eeeuw. Feh.

Being the optimist that I am, I'll look at the positives. I'm progressing on my Clapotis. I'm on the Enough Already With the Straight Repeats section. I'm sure you've been there. Close to decreasing to the end. Having come this far, I don't want to err on the skimpy side. She Shuns Short Shawls. So I keep on adding just one more full width repeat.

This frees me up to think whats next . Whatever it is, it'll use thicker yarn than the linen. Which doesn't split - gotta give it that. See? told you I'm positive.

I'm still pondering koolaid dye, while telling myself No, don't go there. Too many other projects going, none of which involve mounds of wet yarn to hang up at the end. But I've found samples, so I know what flavors to buy!

Yet still, at the chinese grocery, by the register, incongruously cozied up to candy jars filled with dried scallops & dried shrimp (are these a snack? I never see anyone buy them) and cryptic herbal supplements, is a little box of unsweetened koolaid packets. An omen, yes?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

about the process

The indigo dyeing experience didn't go as planned but my yarn, now restored to its old non-slimey dry self, looks wonderful.NotIndigo Its not indigo, its not even a color I can name. It has a pearlescence, some sea colors, and some of the original yellow. I love it. All not-enough-to-make-anything-I-can-think-of 130 yards of it.

But here's the thing: I really enjoyed the process of watching it become what it is. I'm not ready to go mix me a batch of indigo but you may catch me in the Kool-Aid aisle of the local supermarket, I've got a couple skeins of old natural gray-ish Brown Sheep that could use new hues. Then I could make myself a long skinnier color block version of Wavy, as I did last year for a gift to sister Marla. (That link is to her website , not her modeling the Wavy but just take my word, its worth making).

This enjoying the process came into question the other night, too. I was knitting away after dinner with friends. That shlurping sound you hear? My Clapotis sucking in every yard of Safari in the state. Every week I call Yarn to hold yet another skein. Guess I might have figured that a project needing 600 yds of worsted weight on size 8 needles would need a whole lot more of skinny linen blend on size 5's. Duh! I won't bother with a photo, just picture it at 70% complete. So, anyway, I'm knitting on it, commenting that I'm never going to get this thing finished with such skinny yarn, and my friend says" Well, why would you want to finish?' I gave him a look and he says" But you enjoy knitting it so much, why would you want to come to the end of it?"

Hmmm. I'm still thinking.

Lastly , about this process thing. Now that its spring, I've resumed an old favorite morning hike. We keep finding these cairns at a particular point in the trail. Its a well-used trail, its not like anyone needs to remember their way. Its got to be for the joy of piling stones.cairntree

Sunday, May 01, 2005

alternatively titled edition

/Welcome to She Shleps to Sheep Show

It was a chilly rainy Saturday. I stuck to my plans to attend the CT Sheep & Wool Festival, despite the weather and the last minute addition of two sons to the traveling party. By noon my sister and I were in Tolland CT watching a a soggy sheepdog trial. We conceded this wasn't going to be the spring outing we'd imagined, and headed for the barns, soaked boys in tow.

Ok, I'll get this out now. Spinning doesn't do anything for me. Not literally, I mean, it creates yarn for me to knit. But as an activity? Nah. As a spectator sport? Even less. I liked looking at all the spinners' bright handknit socks as they pumped away.

I loved this indigo demo, by Meg Grossman, who teaches classes in natural dyes but alas has no web presence. Here's what most of the dyed pieces looked like drying.
Indigo is a plant based dye that's curiously yellow in dilution but turns blue when oxygen interacts with the dyed surface. I can hear all the scientist knitbloggers shaking their heads at this inept description so settle for You can see this white wool yarn thats been soaking for ten minutes turn indigo blue magically, as it hits the air. Right before your eye! It keeps changing as it dries and settles.
a visual :
I'd followed the invitation to bring yarn to throw in her dyepot, surrendering a skein of Brown Sheep worsted in light yellow that I've had around for ages. Meg is so kind, she acted enthused about what shade I might end up with, and helped me tie parts with string to create some space dying. Really, the woman had been standing there demo'ing in the damp for hours and she still got excited with us. 
Even my sons got into it, and they'd already hit the eyeball rolling stage of the day. After ten minutes in the dye pot, Meg noticed the yarn was behaving badly, getting slimey. She fished it out and put it in a vinegar dilution to regain its acidity, saying something must have coated the yarn or been in it , and exactly how old is it anyway? I had to use fingers and toes to calculate so you know, maybe there was just a bit of accumulated dust & oil messing up my dye job. I took it home , its drying in a big spaghetti-like half-dyed mess now. I'll show it in a future entry if it survives.
What else turned my head? Some funky goat yarns but I can't imagine what I'd do with them, some baby alpaca worsted that I hope I remember. I like to buy only when I have an immediate project in mind. Weird, huh? Here's what I almost bought, I loved her needle cases and her website doesn't do 'em justice. The vintage-y looking upholstery fabric and unusual buttons are just what I've been wishing for. I made loud Mothers Day hints.
As we were leaving, I think I spied a group of New Haven SnB'ers but my sons had really had enough, so out we boogied. Baa-bye!