25 August, 2007

Scarf Month? What Scarf Month?

ARGH. I got to around row 100/423 on Faina and realized something important. That pain in my right wrist? From working on straight needles. I got tendonitis years ago from dance team, and it acts up every once in awhile. So Scarf Month has been put on hold - again - until I can get myself a set of Knitpicks Options needles. ::sigh:: I was just getting into that lace thing, too! But there will be updated pictures once the camera battery re-charges.

Money will be tight for awhile. I had my 3-month review at work yesterday and discovered that the vacation I took in August - the one I was encouraged to take - will likely not, in fact, be paid. Now, my boss is super-nice and may pay me anyway, but it means that the financial aid I was going to save for next years tuition might be re-purposed to pay rent this month instead. It also means that the previously mentioned Knitpicks Options set will take a little longer to arrive in my hot little hands. Bah! It also means that I won't be getting a spinning wheel for awhile. I'm a bit sad about that, but yesterday I consoled myself by hauling out my drop spindle and spinning up some of the wool that's been sitting in my closet for a year - or is it two? It's addictive, that drop spindling.

In the mean time, I've been working on my brother Gabe's Charade Socks. They're quite lovely (in a manly way, of course) and I'm enjoying them a lot. My friend Sarah IM'ed me last night and wanted to know where HER socks are and why, if I'm not currently making her some, I insisted on tempting her with all that lovely fibery goodness. To which I can only answer: Evil. Pure and simple. ::grin::

But enough about knitting! Yesterday, the kitteh announced that his name is Senor Sancho Panza, Esquire, and he would like you all to know that he is the clever one. And please do not disturb him while he is eating:

Or while he is watching bugs on the wall:

or for the love of God, sleeping:

19 August, 2007

A New Addition

On Thursday night, ManCandy and I went to the Rock Bottom Brewery with Jer, Elizabeth, and some other friends. To my surprise, the brewery was hosting a benefit for one of the local animal shelters. Can you see where this is going? There was a pair of kittens there - part Maine Coon by the look of them - who were feral until their foster mama took them in at around 3-4 weeks old. The little boy stole my heart and I brought him home last night. He's currently holed up behind the couch in the TV room, but he's come out a couple of times to play with string or get some pets before he remembers he's afraid and runs back to shelter.

He's between 10-12 weeks old now, has been fixed and gotten his shots and has a microchip already (hurrah!). Darcy so far seems supremely unconcerned that there is another cat in the house, but that might be because my brother got him so stoned on catnip last night he passed out on the living room floor. I'm hoping that because the as-yet-unnamed kitteh is just a baby, Darcy will beat him into submission and they'll live in harmony.

No yarn pr0n today, but I did manage to salvage the Hideous Raw Silk using an excess of blue dye. I used the leftover dye bath and dropped in my final cone of Kona, and I was rewarded with a lovely arctic blue that I will probably use as a base for some experimentation. We'll see!

Without further ado, here's the kitteh:

Isn't he aDORable? He purrs like a lawnmower. I hearts him.

16 August, 2007

Scarf Month is finally here!

Well, I bound off my test knitting last night, which means Scarf Month only took an extra 15 days to arrive. I think that means I can safely extend Scarf Month into September; I'll probably need to in order to get all of my scarf UFO's taken care of. There are only 3, really - but they're all doozys.

First up is Faina, because the Mother Ship has been bothering me in an only half-joking tone .
Now, let me go back a couple of days: Here's the haul my mom and I picked up from the lovely Fibers in Grass Valley.
And here is her portion:
The rest was mine. ::blush:: Isn't the tiny little iron just as twee as can be? It'll keep me from having to haul out the ironing board every time I want to press open a seam for the forth-coming sock project bags. Anyway, my mom let slip at the yarn store that she had forgotten what Faina even looked like, not to mention what color she chose for the yarn. WELL! Of course the Startitis virus that has been lying dormant in my brain began to twitch and awake. If she didn't remember, why on earth couldn't I start something else? No reason at all! To make it worse, when I got home my order from Knitpicks had arrived, including A Gathering of Lace and EZ's Knitting Workshop. ManCandy had to wrest me away from the Faux Russian Stole page in GoL, shouting what I've told him to say in situations like this: "NO! Don't give in! It's not you, it's the Startitis! Come back to me! Don't give in!" Sometimes it works, but he has to catch me early.

So I somewhat regretfully hauled out the original Faina: She's looking a bit neglected, isn't she?

Since I began this project, I have learned a whole lot about fiber and knitting and mysterious words like "drape" and "gauge" and "yarn weight." I knocked out about 1/2 of a row before I discovered that I missed a YO somewhere. Again, I contemplated ripping and starting the Faux Russian Stole, but I resisted mightily again - mostly because GoL was out in the living room and I was knitting in bed, and I knew that if I couldn't keep track of YO's in Faina, I certainly would muck up the FRS beyond recognition. Instead, I looked at the pattern again. The piece on the front of the pattern was knit in sport weight alpaca. I was knitting with worsted weight Cascade 220. Now, Cascade 220 is lovely, but it has no "drape" and is the wrong "gauge" not to mention "yarn weight." But damn if I didn't get the needle size right! No wonder it didn't look much like lace. I wracked my brain and remembered this little gem in my stash:Purple Kool-Aid Knitpicks Superwash Fingering Weight

So I ripped the Cascade - maybe it'll be a French Market Bag or something - and wound the Knitpicks into a ball. I don't think she'll ever notice, but if she does I hope she likes the Knitpicks Bare better. It feels lovely against the skin and it'll be easier to wash should it get dirty. Y'know, 'cause she lives on a farm and all.

Knitpicks vs. Cascade! Yarn weight? Whazzat?

And here she is, re-fitted and I think much more suited to herself:
She still smells like Grape Kool-Aid. Yum.

Here's some kitty pr0n as well, since I've been seriously remiss with the cute kitty pictures lately.

Waffles and Pierre lounging at the Farm

Darcy checking out the bed A new sleeping spot!

14 August, 2007

My Blog Contest

The Yarn Pirate (yes, that Yarn Pirate!) suggested I have a blog contest to get people over to my Etsy store, so here it is. I present to you, gentle reader, My Blog Contest.

What I need: a logo for my store, and a banner to put it on (yarrrrrr!)

Specs: The banner needs to be 100 pixels high x 760 pixels wide to conform to Etsy standards. I would like the logo to be something I can separate out to put onto a label tag. Feel free to manipulate this quote any way you choose (or to leave it out completely): "If we can't succeed, we'll die trying." The file needs to be in JPG, GIF or PNG format.

The winner will receive: one skein of sock yarn from Dye Trying, current or previous colorways. One sock project bag of their choice (pictures coming as soon as I finish the bags) and a matching set of stitch markers made by my mom, the master beader in the family. Oh, and bragging rights! Don't forget those.

The sorta-legal stuff: The banner I choose will belong to me to use for dyetrying.etsy.com, and the winner agrees that he or she will not give it to someone else to use commercially. Of course, the winner is free to use the banner in a portfolio etc. if that's what floats their boat.

I think that's it! I will accept submissions to my dyetryingshop (at) gmail (dot) com through August 29 and choose soon after that. Bring it on!

ADDED 8/16: If you'd like to buy anything until the end of August, because you entered the contest shipping will be free. Don't send your payment immediately and I'll send you an adjusted invoice. Just put your etsy name somewhere in your email along with your entry.

11 August, 2007

Irony, thy name is knitting

Today is Saturday. I wrote the following on Thursday:

I would like to stress – before I begin to rant – that there is nothing
wrong with the pattern I am test-knitting. The whole thing is quite
well-written and understandable. And yet there I was, all up on my high
horse, at the top of the heap, mixing metaphors with the best of’em.
Making my own sock pattern for my first pair of socks? Cake. Cookie’s
German Stockings on size 0’s? Simplicity itself. Knee-highs for someone I
didn’t know? A bit more challenging, but utterly do-able. But somehow, the
simple-yet-elegant pattern in these socks has both given me my
come-uppance and taken me down a peg.

The pattern looks a bit like this:
Row 1: [SSK, k6, YO] repeat to end of row
Row 2 and all even rows: K all stitches

Doesn’t look difficult, right? Let me tell y’all, something about “knit
all even rows plain” has got me all kinds of f’ed up. I seem to be keeping
one row for every three rows I tink, and it’s incredibly aggravating!

I can’t seem to do anything while I knit these socks. I think I’m just
going to have to pull them out on the car trip to my mother’s this
weekend and plow through them as best I can. At least I’m getting the
experience of knitting with my own product! I like the color variations.
This is the same base I used to over-dye Beatrice, but I think in the
case of this hank I used blue instead of Beatrice’s green. I don’t like
it quite as much – I prefer the multi-faceted greens to the
aqua-and-jungle-yellow of this hank. However, it’s still pretty, and it
stands up to the tinking pretty well.

Not even 2 hours after I wrote that, the pattern went *click!* and now I'm off to the racecs. Half a repeat (14 rows) left until I start the heel, which is short row so won't take very long. Hurrah!

My mom and I found a fantastic fiber store in downtown Grass Valley today. The yarns were delightful, plentiful and reasonably priced. The people at the shop were super-nice, and encouraged my mom and I to gab about the new Fall Interweave Knits (bought), the 25th anniversary Vogue (bought) and the possible benefits of spinning your own recycled sari fiber or making your own stitch markers. Mom bought a pattern and some Brrocco Ultra Alpaca for her first knitting project that will involve purling (and YO's and k2togs - never let it be said we're not an intrepid pair!) - a gorgeous scarf by Frog Tree Alpaca which just might be my new favorite alpaca pusher. 130 yards for 7 bucks? I'll take 5. Except I didn't. Instead, I bought 2 hanks of Shaeffer Anne in this white/green/pink colorway that reminds me of spring. 1120 yards of superwash merino/mohair blend. Score: yarn diet wagon: 0, Tikabelle: 2. Go me!

We also let some ideas about stitch markers for Dye Trying percolate, but that's another discussion for another day.

07 August, 2007

Sockapalooza 4!

I got a box in the mail today from - of all places - Berkeley. Who knew my sock pal was so close? I certainly didn't. Maybe she'll comment here and we can have coffee! I promise to wear my A-MAZING socks. Thank you, Aimee! Here's my loot!

Are you jealous? Aimee said that this is only her second ever pair of socks, which obviously means she's well on her way to being a fantastic sock knitter. And the Lorna's Laces? I put that color down yesterday with a stern "No, Tika! Bad Tika! Yarn diets are not about buying more yarn!" and what happened? The Yarn Fairy came through for me via my sock pal. I was going to swear off swaps for a bit, but getting presents in the mail is just too much fun to pass up.

Speaking of which, my sockapalooza package is going in the mail tomorrow morning, along with my Very First Dye Tyring order! Augh! I'm all a-flutter.

Edit: Does selling one skein of yarn allow me to buy several more in celebration? 'Cause KnitPIcks thinks so...

06 August, 2007

Going Live

As promised, I photographed the Dye Trying yarn yesterday morning and set up my Etsy store last night. I must admit the naive part of me was disappointed that it didn't all sell magically during the night, but the realistic part of me reminded myself that I merely set up the store and didn't make any announcements to the blogosphere or even to my friends, so it was to be expected [this was in conjunction with the me who was urging myself to get up and go to work this morning - it was a veritable convention of me's in my head this morning, and all of them (us?) were clamoring for coffee].

Here are the Pomatomus socks drying in the California sunshine:

And here, as promised, is my fab K'nex skein-winder! Hurrah for ManCandy! (Or, as Brie has dubbed him, BrainCandy. He's so proud of that...)

04 August, 2007

Oh, yea!

And not the "oh yea I forgot" type of oh yea. More like the Kool-Aid pitcher guy busting through the wall in the old 80's Kool-Aid commercials "Oh, yea!"

Yesterday I discovered this thing called a skein winder. It's the opposite of a swift; it's designed to wind yarn into skeins (imagine that...) and I NEEDED one. So, I used Google and found one - for $300. The cheapest one I could find online was about $115, and it was made of PVC. Here is how that little scene played out:

[thinking] A hundred and fifteen bucks for PVC? Screw that right in the ear. Home Depot is around the corner from my house!

[gets in the car and drives home, picks up ManCandy and drags him to Home Depot] Me:ManCandy, I need to build this thing like a 3D windmill to wind my yarn onto. ManCandy: Okay... [looks at me like I'm crazy] But, like a good boyfriend, he helped me and carried the heavy stuff. And didn't complain when I hacksawed 30 feet of PVC pipe into a 3D windmill and got plastic shavings all over the carpet. I glued the thing together and traipsed off to bed.

[the next morning]
Me:ManCandy! The plastic glue didn't hold the plastic PVC pipe together! W.T.F.?!? Gah, make me coffee!
[ManCandy hauls out a mysterious box] ManCandy: Baby, we could make you a yarn ball skein swift winder out of... [he opens the box] K'nex!
Me: ... ohhhhh kaaaaay...
[ManCandy proceeds to explain his genius theory] Then, we spent the next 3 hours happily creating a skein winder out of kids toys. And girls, it has an electric motor. So once I get the yardage figured out, it's good-bye hand crank and hello automation. Oh, yea!

So now I have an adjustable skein winder made of K'nex, and once the camera re-charges there will be pictures.

As if that weren't enough, I used the skein winder in conjunction with my swift and re-skeined all the yarn I dyed last weekend into tidy little bundles of colorful love. Tomorrow I'll photograph them, and then - ta DA! - Dye Trying will be officially open! Again, camera + recharged = pictures. Oh, yea!

And lastly, I finished my Sockapalooza socks. They're soaking in lovely Earth-friendly tulip scented soap right now and will be put out on the back porch to dry in the morning. Next up: finish the Test Knitting, then (the rest of) August is Scarf Month! Faina, I've got my eye on you... Oh, Yea!

02 August, 2007

Crash and Burn!

I haven't joined any sock clubs because - well, just because, really. But this one reached out its sneaky little hands and grabbed me by the scruff of the neck. Can you guess why? How could I not join? Anyway.

I've been listening to Cast On from the beginning. So far, I'm just about 14 months behind schedule, but I'm enjoying the Muse series. Ideas are percolating in my brain for a piece about Urania and Clio, but you'll just have to wait for those! I spent all weekend and several nights this week plugged in to my iPod, happily dyeing skeins of yarn. My first batch is going to be Henry's Attic Kona, but I think the next set will be Knitpicks Bare. It's inexpensive and already put up into hanks of 100g, which will make my life a bit easier. Plus, I can use several things from their Bare line which will give everything I make a bit of continuity. I will miss the textured feel of the Kona though. Perhaps if I can find a place that will put it up for me I'll go back to it eventually.

My Sockapalooza socks are so close to being done. I'll be able to send out my package tomorrow during lunch; only one day late. Argh! Then it's on to the test knitting.

Off to speed-knit. Pictures will be forthcoming once I stop blogging from work.