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Ms. Knits: July 2005

Wednesday, July 20

Two more days...

Until vacation! Woohoo! Of course, that means that this week has been twice as busy as usual, trying to get everything taken care of at work and finishing up my final papers for school (one of which is in a very sad state right now). This all adds up to very long hours of work and no time at all for things like knitting, so I have no knitting progress to report.

I do have a knitting question for you though - what project(s) are good for travel?

I'd love to take my leaf lace, but I fear that I'd end up messing it up completely unless I can give it 100% of my attention. That's not going to happen on a plane, in a car, or when I'm around any one of the dozens of family members that we will be visiting over the next two weeks. It may be best to leave the lace at home.

Socks might be good, but DPNs are kind of fiddly to work with. This may be a good time to invest in the magic loop book! And, I have lots and lots of sock yarn that needs to be knit into socks.

Any other thoughts?

I probably won't be posting again until I get back... until then, happy knitting!

Sunday, July 17

A little bit of everything

There's lots of stuff I've been meaning to post about lately, just haven't had the time (see yesterday's to do list... note that working on the leaf lace shawl was NOT anywhere on my to do list!!)

First of all, a big thank you to my SP5 secret pal! I got a wonderful package in the mail from her...
A pretty pink Lantern Moon bag, a pink sparkly coin purse, chocolate flavored lip balm (yum!) and a skein of Koigu KPPM in beautiful shades of purple! Thanks Secret Pal! I think I'm going to find a coordinating skein of purple sock yarn and make some socks with lighter or darker purple toes and heels and use the variegated KPPM yarn for the foot of the sock.

I've also been plugging away at the baby blanket... here's a picture of where I'm at with it. The color is kind of washed out, but it is a nice light baby blue color. It is a fast knit on size 9s, but I'm just not motivated to work on it since it has been so hot here (105+ degrees).

Since I haven't been wanting to work on the heavy, warm baby blanket, I decided to start the lace leaf shawl instead. I'm using Skacel Merino Lace yarn. Knitting with the merino lace is like knitting with thread! This is my first foray into laceweight yarn, and although it was hard to get used to, I think I'm figuring out how to deal with it. I do have a little trouble getting the yarn over the needle joins... too bad the join isn't more like the Addis. But there is NO way I could use Addis on this project... I'd have stitches sliding off the needles all over the place!

So far I have the first chart plus 1 of 18 repeats of the second chart completed. The ball of yarn in the picture looks pretty small, but that is 1375 yards (!!!) of yarn. Enough for the entire shawl and then some.

Here's a close-up... The pattern doesn't show up very well right now. I'm sure that blocking will work wonders for this project.

Not sure when I'll get to reading Harry Potter... probably not until next weekend. I'm dying to read it, but I know if I pick it up, I won't put it down until I'm done - not a good thing when I've got a ton of school work, work work, and house work to do.

Have a good week!

Completed Tivoli

Here it is!

Pattern: Tivoli by Grumperina, 36" size
Yarn: Katia Pisco
Needles: Clover Bamboo circular, size 5

- Superfast knitting! It took me just over a week from start to finish.
- Neat, well-written top down pattern
- Able to use yarn from my stash

- Not sure I chose the best yarn for the project. I have a love/hate relationship with the Katia Pisco... it knits up into a nice fabric, but on size 5 needles the fabric is fairly bulky and firm. I think I would be happier with a fabric that had more drape.
- Slight rolling at the hem, even after blocking. I don't mind it - it just gives the top a more casual look.

This is a really versatile pattern. I adjusted the decreases/increases (more of them, more frequently to make the fit better. I'm happy with the way the sizing turned out.

What I would do differently next time: Use a different yarn.

Saturday, July 16

A dilemma...

Things to do today: (in no particular order)
1. Write final patent for patent prosecution class, due by Thursday
2. Write final paper for international IP treaties class, due by Thursday
3. Read Harry Potter book (delivered by mail a few minutes ago!!)
4. Post pictures of finished Tivoli & baby blanket progress
5. Work on baby blanket

What I have done so far today:
1. Get a facial
2. Finished first chart (30 rows) of leaf lace shawl

Anyone see a problem here? Yikes!

Wednesday, July 13

Big boring baby blanket

That's what I've been working on this week... that is, when I get a few minutes in the evening to sit down and knit a few rows. I really need to get the blanket done soon, because knitting a baby blanket is not terribly interesting. And, this is the 2nd light blue project in a row for me - too much blue! I'm dying to start in on the green laceweight yarn that I bought to start the lace leaf shawl so I can try out my new Bryspuns. Not until I finish this blanket though!

I made up my own pattern for the blanket, based on a stitch pattern from the Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns. It is looking pretty good so far - it is a simple block pattern of alternating stockinette, reverse stockinette, and seed stitch blocks with a garter stitch border. I'll post pictures when I have more time, and plan to make the pattern available here as soon as I finish knitting it.

Happy knitting!

Monday, July 11

Tivoli done, but no pictures

I finished and blocked Tivoli yesterday, but no pictures today... I got up too darn early this morning, and completely forgot to check and see if it was dry before I left for work. I'll have to post pictures and my project summary for Tivoli when I go home later this week. I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

Even though I am dying to start a new project, I'm going to finish the baby blanket that I started a while ago. The friend I was knitting it for had her baby yesterday, so I'm a bit behind schedule on the gift. Better get busy on that!

My commute this morning was hellish (nothing new there), and I have to rant briefly (or not so briefly) about crazy bad drivers. What is up with people who insist on multitasking while driving? This morning I spent nearly 30 minutes in heavy traffic (10-55 MPH, bumper to bumper in 5 lanes) behind a woman who was applying her makeup (all of it - foundation, powder, blush, eyeshadow/liner, eyelash curling (!!!), mascara, etc) and fixing her hair, while looking into a rearview mirror that was adjusted so that she could see herself (nevermind about needing to see traffic around you!). It wasn't like we were just sitting on the road stopped either - traffic was moving, albeit slowly at times. I don't get it. Clearly this woman has never taken a physics class, or she would realize that her makeup tool of choice would end up in her eyeball or another equally undesirable place if she were to, say, rear-end someone!

OK, end of rant. Whew. Just had to get that off my chest. Tell me - what is the craziest thing you've seen someone doing while driving? I once saw a man driving down the expressway while eating from a chinese takout box with chopsticks!

Saturday, July 9

Yarn store heaven!

While running errands today I stopped by Violet's new store, Frog Pond Knits, which opened yesterday. Look what I happened across... Bryspun circular needles!

Woohoo! Just last weekend I called every knitting store in the Sacramento area to try to find these, with no luck. I bought the 29" length in sizes 5-9, which I figured are probably the most common sizes for lace knitting. I also bought the Fiber Trends Leaf Lace Shawl pattern and some laceweight yarn to knit it. Not sure when I'll get started on that, but knowing myself and my lack of restraint when it comes to yarn and new projects, it will probably be soon!

I'm nearing completion of Tivoli... only about 5 rounds left to knit. I'll finish and block it tonight and try to post some pictures tomorrow. What a fast, fun project!

I took some pictures of various flowers and bees in my garden yesterday and put them up on Flikr. Click the picture for a slideshow.

Tuesday, July 5

And the winner of the idiot contest is...

Me! Yep, I'm an idiot. Why, you ask? Well, I got up at 4:45am this morning to go to work. When I drove into the parking lot at the office, I noticed that there were only a handful of cars there. I thought that was a little odd, considering there are usually dozens cars in the lot and it's almost impossible to find a parking space most days. So, I looked at my trusty badge calendar attachment, and noticed that today, Tuesday, July 5th is a COMPANY HOLIDAY! Yes, that's right, a holiday! I got up at 4:45 to drive two and a half hours to work on a day that I didn't even have to work. Since I had plenty to do (and then some), I spent the day at work anyway, and ended up getting quite a lot done. I'm pretty bummed about it though - with a little advance knowledge and some planning, I could have stayed home today and spent some quality time with yarn and my dogs and my husband. Grrr. Guess I should look at the calendar more often!

Over the weekend, I managed to get through about half of the Tivoli decreases.

I'm modifying the decrease/increase portion of the pattern slightly, to compensate for my row gauge being slightly larger than the pattern calls for, and also to make the waist slightly smaller. I'm using the 36" pattern, which is written for a 33" waist, but I'm shooting for a 30-31" waist so it fits me better, and so I don't end up looking preggers.

In case you're wondering, the dark blue yarn on the lower left of the shirt is my version of a row counter. I wind a spare piece of contrasting yarn around a stitch on every decrease row so I can easily count the number of rows between decrease rows (3) and how many decreases I have total (3 so far).

Sunday, July 3

Fit to be Dyed

I present to you: A kool-aid yarn dyeing photo tutorial. Special thanks to my secret pal for providing the yarn!

To start my dyeing project, I headed to Google to find some information on using kool aid to dye yarn. I found good articles on Knitters Review and Knitty, but neither covered exactly what I wanted to do... make a self striping yarn. So, I took the instructions and modified them slightly to (hopefully) accomplish what I wanted in the least messy way possible.

In order to get my yarn in long enough lengths to dye large sections at a time, I wound it around the backs of two chairs placed about 7-8 feet apart. I then used small pieces of yarn to loosely tie the wound yarn together in about 6 places (approximately every 2-3 feet). Be sure to tie loosely, or you'll end up with a tye-dyed effect when you dye the yarn because the dye won't absorb evenly under the ties (ask me how I know). Using the ties is critical, or you'll end up with a tangled mess of yarn. After tying off the yarn, I soaked it in warm water for about a half hour.

Here's a picture of the Kool-Aid flavors I bought: Cherry, Orange, Pink Lemonade, Lemonade, Green Apple, Lemon Lime, Berry Blue, and Grape. I didn't end up using the orange, but I used all of the other packets!

I decided that the stovetop method would work best for dyeing, because I wanted long strips of color and didn't want to worry about getting dye all over my kitchen and white tile/grout countertips. Here's the setup that I came up with in order to dye multiple colors in one pot. I used a large stainless steel roasting pan filled about half full of water over two burners on the stove. In the roaster, I placed a small stainless steel bowl and a small pyrex bowl that fit next to each other. I used these bowls because they were the only ones I had that fit in the roaster together. I put my first dye color (cherry) in one bowl.

My very unscientific dye formula: 4 packets Kool Aid, 2/3 bowl of water (leaving room for yarn) and a dash of vinegar (probably a couple tablespoons).

I heated up the dye and water to near boiling and placed about 1/3 of the yarn in the red dye and the remaining yarn in the clear water of the 2nd bowl.

After the red yarn had absorbed all of the dye from the water and the water was clear, I used stainless steel tongs to gently pull the red yarn out of the dye water and placed it in the clean water in the roasting pan next two the two bowls. I then removed the dye bowl using tongs and an oven mitt, filled it with Grape kool-aid dye and put it back in the roaster. After the dye warmed up, I transferred about half of the remaining yarn from the clear water into the dye bowl using the tongs.

I then mixed my last dye color (Pink Lemonade) in a glass and poured it into the clear bowl, mixing gently to ensure even dye distribution. I kept the water very hot (near boiling) the entire time.

After the pink & purple dye had completely absorbed, I gently removed the yarn from the water with tongs and placed it on a plate to cool slightly. I then put it in a large bowl of warm water and rinsed it until the water was clear. The water was pretty clear after the first rinse, but I rinsed it a couple of times just to be sure.

Here's the pink/purple/red yarn drying on a chair on my patio. Looks good so far!

I used the same process for the next yarn, but with four colors instead of three: Lemonade, Green Apple, Berry Blue, and Lemon Lime. I wasn't really happy with the way the green apple turned out - it was a little too pastel looking.

Here's all of the yarn, drying in the sunshine.

Finally dry yarn!

And here it is wound into two 440-yard center pull balls.

All in all, I like the way my yarn turned out, but will have to see how it looks when I start knitting it into socks. I considered knitting a few rows of a sock with the yarn before I dyed it, ripping it out to see how much yarn was used, and using maths to calculate how long each strip of color should be to give me stripes of optimal width. Instead, I decided to just have fun with it. I think this should give me nice stripes and no pooling, but I'll have to knit it up to see.

After seeing what the color combinations look like, there are a few other combos that I'd try next time - Pink Lemonade with Green Apple (pastel pink & green stripes), and Lemonade, Green Apple, and Orange+Lemonade (pastel sherbet stripe). Also, I noticed that the Kool Aid flavors that are cloudy (lemonade, pink lemonade, green apple) make much more muted/pastel colors than the flavors that are clear (lemon lime, grape, cherry, berry blue, orange).

The verdict - Dyeing yarn with kool aid is fun! Try it yourself! It's going to take me forever to knit up all 880 yards though!

Friday, July 1

Secret Pal Strikes Again!

Yesterday was a busy, busy day! I worked through lunch, until about 2:45pm, then got in the car to make the long drive home, so I could telecommute today and have a long 4 day weekend at home. The drive was awful - I narrowly avoided getting tangled up in a 3 car accident that was two cars in front of me [if I had been tailgating, I would likely not have been so fortunate... remember, always keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you!], and I got home shortly after 6pm.

Then it was off to my very first Sacramento SnB night. I have been wanting to attend for months, and was finally able to fit it in to my schedule. I'm so glad I did! It was a blast. I got to see Caitlyn again, for the first time in months, and I met a LOT of awesome gals who were working on some really neat things (including Ruth, who also has a blog, and Christy, who lives really close to me!) - it was inspiring! I wish I had my camera there to take pictures. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend SnB regularly until March. (darn law school, getting in the way of my life again!) Oh, and I got a few rows of Tivoli done at SnB too. :)

When I got home, I tore open the package that had arrived from my KR Secret Pal, and she did an awesome job once again. Check out all this great stuff...

New Zealand Wool, relaxing on the couch.

Look closer - Isn't it great? It is just screaming out to be knit into something with cables. Scarf + hat? Cabled purse/clutch? Small cabled purse plus scarf? There's a lot of yarn here, I think I'll be able to make a couple of things - yay!

The whole package - notice the NZ wool, now in a ginormous center pull skein. I did that almost immediately after opening the package - I couldn't keep my hands off of it! I would have knit a swatch immediately, except it was really late by that time. It's killing me to have to work today rather than play with my new yarn. And look at the other goodies... KnitPicks dye your own merino (fun with koolaid, coming soon to Ms. Knits!), gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill Zebra Caribe cotton blend yarn in beautiful earthy shades of rust, blue, and brown (lace scarf? shawl? hmmm... must surf for patterns!), a fun book of knitting anecdotes, a cute purse notepad, a neat little sock coin purse, and a little tube of hand lotion.

Thanks Secret Pal!! I love everything!

Back to work... have a great day!