So that’s where the colour went!

I’m giving knitting another try.. shhhh, don’t tell the elbow that it’s supposed to be upset by this. I am, however, also trying to mix it up and do other things. Including digging out the dyepot and cotton. Prompted, I must admit, by a momentary panic as I remembered I’m teaching at the Needlecraft Guild a week today. Clearly this requires not class prep, but a dye weekend. Clearly.

I’m teaching a lace doily class. Doily = cotton. Therefore dyeing cotton is class prep. Right? Right!? How about taking seriously ugly cotton

and some el cheapo cold water dye from the fabric store in blue and my trusty dye crock pot (turned off, we’re talking cold water dye here). Voila.

I am more pleased with this than I really have any right to be. I mean I took fugly cotton and dunked, but hot damn it turned out well! I also *cough* over estimated how much dye one ball of cotton would need. The dyepot didn’t even vaguely change shade. I couldn’t leave it like that! Poor lonely dye. Sooooo…


The big ball of white stuff is acrylic (I’m pretty sure) and I only balled off a wee sample that stained a little. The bizarre varigated on the bottom right came from a ball of ecru cotton still balled up tightly and thrown in for good measure. I decided not to skein off the ball of pink cotton, my arms were getting sore by then.

Sore arms, and still a deep blue dye bath. I was out of cotton things I wanted blue. I mean I like blue and all, but there is only so much blue cotton a girl needs. Especially a girl who is not currently knitting (much). So in a moment of ‘enh, what the hell’, I dumped a healthy glug glug glug of vinegar in it, had a moment of ‘I am so smrt'(1) with the ph measurement and tossed fleece in. Heated it up (wool likes being warm. And acidic.), let it cool and…

Well I’ll be damnned. Apparently I did get it acidic. Now I just need to develop a fondness for all things blue.

(1) pH testing by it by strip or by drops of indicator into a water sample relies on colour to determine the pH. My dyepot already had the dye in it. It was a lovely deep blue. This makes it hard to determine the lovely pale shade of colour that tells you the pH. I am so smrt!

Where did all the colour go?

I woke up this morning to a white paw in my face (alright, that’s not so unusual), and once I got reaquainted with my glasses and got Dalla off my chest I looked out the window to this.

The entire outside world had become white all of a sudden. Whammo. Very pretty, even if the drive in was sloshy and slippy and miserable. Definately a boot day, not a croc day. (Note to all: Crocs + slush = Very Cold Feet. Take my word on it, even the most fantastic hand knitted wool socks will not help keep your feet warm in near freezing slush. I’ve tested this theory empirically.)

Fortunately waiting on the kitchen floor for me was an exhausted dye pot. (Alright, so I felt pretty exhausted too, but that had less to do with the lack of colour and more to do with needing an adjustment on the vader mask. Which I suppose is a whole different lack of colour in the all black look.) A couple nights back I decided I needed more orange in my world. Everyone needs more orange, it’s a law or something. So I balled up a chunk of reclaimed wool. (New ballwinder, still makes me squee. It’s downright fun.) Plunk in dye crock pot. Add a glug of vinegar and 2 packets of orange kool aid. And half a packet of colourless. It was handy, it was more citric acid. Fake watermellon kiwi smell + fake orange smell + vinegar is not something I think Kraft was aiming for as a marketing technique. Just saying. I let it cool in the pot and *cough* left it another day to um.. cool. Fully exhaust. Something. This morning I came downstairs to this little bloom of colour.

I’ll be interested to see how far into the cake of yarn the dye went. I may be redyeing the interior bit to have some colour to it. It’ll be something for post dental hell tonight. (Only one of the weeny layers of hell, just a check up and annual lecture about flossing. I still hate hate hate HATE going. Childhood trauma. *shudder*)

Plan B

One might argue that 26 hrs of being in a car (over the course of two different days spaced 4 days apart) with only the scenery and one’s knitting is an image of heaven. It slips into a layer of hell when you realize that you cannot knit for any length of time without pain and that many hours in the back seat causes the knees to compete with the elbow for one’s attention. So. Plan B.


I can, apparently, still spindle spin. I did a little bit of wheel spinning a few weeks back when the elbow first started acting up, but I find my Ashford Traveller, while compact, a little bulky to fit in the back seat of the car along with 3 gamers worth of crap. Fortunately, my toy wheel spindle travels well. I started these singles driving down to GenCon a few years back, and it seems to tag along with me for back seat craft potential when I’ve had enough of (or can’t) knit. The fleece is from a dye exchange equally a few years back now, and spins up to be this really neat mottled yarn. I’m spinning fairly thin, and I’m thinking I’m going to najavo ply to try and keep the colours vaguely together, although the colourways are so short, I’m not sure it will matter much, and if I only two ply it, I’ll have more yardage. Decisions, decisions. So the hoodie might be on hold for a little while (probably a good thing as my elation at being ‘nearly done’ was shattered by reading along in the pattern ‘continue pattern as set for 14 inches’.. 14 inches.. aieee! So much for nearly done!), and the fleece stash might see the light of day for a change. I wonder if embroidery bothers the arm.. sewing.. bobbin lace?

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Oh the choices…

Mariah is coming along nicely, arm pain nothwithstanding. No marathon sessions anymore, just little bits and pieces here and there. Fortunately, little bits and pieces add up. I’m on the hood, which is fewer than the 400 million stitches that the body was, and with luck, I should have an FO in the next few days.

I did learn, in a fit of grumpy last night (y’know those days where you could be handed a box of zero calorie chocolate truffles with a winning lotto ticket inside and somehow your brain could make that a bad thing too? Yeah. Grumpy.), that spinning hurts in all different ways. Apparently that was good enough (Change is as good as a rest? Perhaps not.) for me to dig out my wheel again and go back to working on the never ending spinning project. I expect it might end sooner if I worked on it more than say an hour every six months or so. (If any spinners are reading, mystery wool roving, slightly felted (hey, it was free!), ashford DT traveller, scotch tension.)

Yes, I know, it’s a damn good thing I knit better than I take photos. I blame the camera, it hates close ups. My camera is claustrophobic. That’s clearly it. At least on my monitor, the colour of the yarn is pretty close to accurate. I’m plying it up as two ply, to call it consistent would be generous and I have no clue what I’m going to do with it at the end of it all. I did a little bit of spinning on a drop spindle this morning, that too hurts in different ways but it’s a good hurt (?). The whole ‘these muscles have forgotten that they move this way’ hurt. Depending on how long it takes the arm to heal, I may get more spinning then knitting done for the next little while. Of course, getting near the end of Mariah has me dreaming of what project comes next. Will I be a good kid and dig up a UFO? I can think of two shawls that fall into that category, or will I cast on something new? Something from stash? Lace? Another garment? More socks? Toys? Baby stuff? (Don’t look at me like that, no I’m not spawning, just everyone else I know is.) Oh the choices!

Cable needle, we don’t need no stinking cable needle!

I’ll preface this with the commentary that my very first knitting project (beyond acres of garter stitch and a little stuffed penguin) was a cabled sweater. The friend who taught me how to knit operated on the principle that if you really want to do something, you’ll learn how on the way. So I picked out a cabled hooded cardigan and she helped me buy needles and yarn and a cable needle never once giving a hint that this was supposed to be Difficult. That sweater never got finished.. by the time I’d upsized it enough to fit me, the drop shoulder design was absurd and I detested it and ripped it all out. I still have the yarn. I did, however, learn not to fear anything in knitting in the process of that sweater. Cables? Sure! Lace? No problem. It’s all one stitch at a time, if you follow the directions logically it all works. So I’ve been doing cables since day one, and somewhere along the way I read a passing comment about cabling without a cable needle. There was no description of the technique, just an off handed comment. So I thought about it a moment and went with how I thought they meant. Exactly as it says, no needle. Turns out that they mean some odd twisting of the stitches and putting them all back on the left hand needle in the new order before you knit it. I think. I still don’t have that method down pat. I do, however, like to live on the edge apparently and I just don’t use anything but fingers. This works better with smaller twists, 1 or two stitches being moved. You can hold three or more, but it gets messy. Oh yes, and pardon the pretty awful photos, me and the ‘I don’t do close ups’ camera on delay and a 100 cd spindle case did our best.

Here we are, arriving at a spot where we need to cable. Eek! It’s a two over two cable, nothing too scary.

The two stitches at the start of the needle need to come to the front and look! There they are, dangling in the breeze. (They’re the fuzzy green things in the middle. Trust me.)

Alright, squint with me and pretend that the horrible focus is normal. I hold onto the stitches with the tips of my fingers. Really, with a thumb nail and the pad of my finger, the fingernail holds them better, but wool is sticky enough that they don’t really want to travel. This next photo is of a different stitch, one stitch held in back rather than two in front, but is (miracle!) slightly clearer.

It does take a bit of dexterity to knit while holding stitches, but a smidge of practice and it’s not so bad. And it’s only for a stitch or two.

Stick those (fuzzy again.. dammit!) held stitches back on the left hand needle and away you go. Not a cable needle in sight, and after the first few, it barely throws a pause in the stride of my knitting. Perhaps not the best plan for very slippery yarn, but then you just need to be more careful to hold onto them tightly. I tend to do most of my cable work in wool or acrylic, both hold their stitches pretty well. Only three more pattern rows to the end of the sleeve cable! Whoo! The end is in sight, and I need to fiddle for some changes I made earlier. Drat.


Well I’m still not really knitting. I think I’ve managed about 1 sweater row and 1 sock round in about ten days. Slowly, very slowly, the arm is responding to the happy shiny anti-inflamatories, and while I haven’t been specifically prohibited from knitting, the common sense of ‘Gosh, it hurts when I do this’ apparently still functions in my head. I might work in tech support, but I really do have some lingering aversion to pain.

So, what’s a girl to do when she can’t (or really shouldn’t) be knitting? Stash re-org. Or more accurately stash dig through and pet and *gasp* even a little bit of inventory. A few conclusions were drawn after half a lazy Sunday spent poking amongst bins of yarn.

  • I really do not own nearly as much yarn as I think I do. Sure, it’s contained in about 4 rubbermaid totes, which seems like a lot I know, except that I keep up on the knitting list. My stash is but a drip.
  • Nearly all of my stash are one ball of this, two balls of that, half a ball of this other. Scraps and bits. Enough to do a project larger than mittens is a rarity at best, and I’m not size XS.
  • For someone who loves colour as much as I do, my stash is mostly really boring colours. And a hellish amount of green. Wow oh wow do I love my green when shopping. While I can appreciate that a nice foresty green looks good on someone with my colouring, this is a little excessive.
  • I own enough crochet cotton (size 10 and smaller) to knit a doily the size of Ontario. Oh. My. Goodness. I have got to start looking into ways to knit the size 10 and larger into something other than lace doilies. I prefer those in size 30 and smaller thread. Which I also have copious amounts of. If I ever buy more cotton, smack me.
  • I have both less sock yarn and less lace weight wool than I thought. I was sure I had plenty of sock yarn tucked away, but apparently it’s all in little bits and pieces.

So while I considered participating in the various Knit from one’s stash endeavours running around the net, in retrospect, I expect I’d just be annoyed. I’m not quite at the must buy to start a new project stage, but I’m not so far off as I thought I might be.

Next time I hit the cataloging bug, fabric stash. Or pattern stash. Or embroidery stash. Or or or…

Pretty colours!

Apologies for the pause in posting, I finally did something obnoxious to my elbow (aching is normal, sharp pain is not) and it has ground knitting to a halt. Actually it’s ground a good many things to a halt, including work while I spent the afternoon yesterday in various waiting rooms (Dr office, lab for blood work, x ray place, pharmacy, bus rides to and fro.. blah.). Without my knitting. Women’s magazines (by and large) are really insipid and I should get more games for my palm. While there was no specific prohibition against knitting, everything hurts which makes the attention span even shorter than usual. So, in lieu of awesome sweater photos, I went digging in the photo stash for something else. (I have no illusions that anyone’s here for the writing.) *grin*

Back in November, I was off work a day and got the idea to try using up some Crystal Lite drink mix for dyeing. I wasn’t entirely sure how the fake sugar would affect things, and as I won’t drink the stuff and my husband’s moved on to different fake flavours in his beverages, I figured on using the the last of it in the dye pot. This is, for the record, that single serve in a water bottle sized packets. I use a crockpot for nearly all my dye work. I really /like/ being able to walk away and know it’s at a constant temperature, and it equally helps me keep my dye pot separate from food pots. My only wish.. that it was bigger. It’s a 4 litre (quart?) pot, and doesn’t hold nearly enough for anything but healthy sized samples. Fortunately, I tend not to be aiming to dye enough for big projects and am very fond of colourways rather than uniform colour. Alright, so a couple packets (This was 3 months ago, I don’t remember specifics) of Raspberry Ice into the pot, a dollop of vinegar and (purposefully) balled up reclaimed yarn.

I left the yarn in balls specifically to get different depths of shade from the dye penetrating the ball of yarn. I did mention that I’m not much for uniform colour, right? The absolute worst part of this experience is skeining wet wool on my pvc niddy noddy such that it actually can be properly rinsed and dry all the way through. Ew ew ew yuck yuck. The next batch was uhh.. tangerine? Some orange flavour, and therefore, orange colour. This one, for whatever reason, did not want to penetrate the ball of yarn. Just would /not/. Three times I dug it out, skeined some off onto the niddy noddy and plunked the rest of the ball back into the dyepot. As I recall, I dumped some wiltons in to get vaguely the same colour as I just did not have enough packets of drink mix to get it all dyed to any sort of colour.

Yes, I know, even food safe dye should be careful with other clutter on the counter. I live on the edge. Welcome to the clutter of my kitchen, it matches nicely the clutter everywhere else in my life too.

After far too long skeining wet wool (ew ew ew), these are three of the final skeins drip drying away on a dining room chair covered with tea towels (and with a tea towel on the floor. I should have covered the entire floor, skeining wet wool seems to send water everywhere, whodathunkit).

Someday I’ll even decide what to do with the skeins. Perfect for felting, I’m quite sure. Oh.. and as always, I toss a handful of fleece into the dyepot at the end to pick up the last of the colour, I’ve something against tossing a not completely spent dyepot.