Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

So I told you last night that it was snowing. A little while after that post I took the following picture.

Those thin white streaks against the darkness are more snowflakes falling. When I got up this morning, the same view from my front door yielded this:

It's not even Thanksgiving and already it's a winter wonderland out there. So I decided that we'd celebrate it. After a 9am conference call in my pajamas and a very warm shower, I hooked the Dread Pirate Roberts up to his leash and carried him outside.

We were only outside for about five minutes. I could tell Westley was cold, but he didn't want to go back inside. *Sigh* sometimes it's so hard to be a little kitty.

With all this snowing it's nice to have something(s) wool on the needles. I'm sort of still working on my Valium Bandit (so named because I started it when I had a pinched nerve/muscle spasm in my neck that required a short ER visit and a prescriptions for Valium).

This is being made out of Cascade Pastaza (50 wool/50 llama) that I got at Goodwill (3 skeins for $5).

The other big project I've got going is my NaKniSweMo Challenge. That's National Knit a Sweater in a Month. I'm knitting Debbie Bliss' Shawl Collared Jacket (aka Alex) in Peruvian Highland Chunky from Elann.com.

So far I've done both sleeves, the back, and the left front (in that order). The right front has been cast on. I might make it.

And finally, at the special request of my mom, a final picture of the snow, Westley, and me. Sorry it looks a little odd, I had to tweak in in photoshop. Because of all the white, and the glare, and the timer, the photo was a little over exposed and washed out, but it was actively snowing and Westley wasn't up for multiple tries. But hey, I got him to look at the camera, so I count it as a win.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Snowing

If it keeps up and sticks overnight I'll take pictures. For now I'm going to turn off the security light. The snow triggers it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

And The Beat Goes On

I'm back to finish up my lengthy update. I don't have pictures of the sewing or spinning that I mentioned earlier, but I do have pictures of the dyeing. The following skeins are all Knit Picks bare, 100% merino fingering. I recently ordered 17 skeins to take advantage of a really good sale. It was quite impressive to open the box.

For the first skein I dyed, I used three colors of Wilton's food coloring (brown, teal, and delphinium blue) and mason jars. I baked the whole shebang in the oven. For my first time using this method I think it turned out rather well. I haven't named this color yet. Anyone have suggestions?

The second Wilton's skein was done with a mix of the leftover teal from above and a whopping dose of royal blue, which apparently didn't dissolve all the way, which led to some very pretty results. I can't get the camera to pick up on the full range of colors. :-(

Within the dark blue spots there's actually some very pretty dark purple. It really is quite stunning in person, and I can't wait to knit something lovely with it.

Finally, I've begun experimenting with natural dyes, using only food safe mordants and dyes. I decided to start easy with onion skins.

I brought the skins and water up to a simmer, then covered it, turned off the heat, and let it steep overnight. I mordanted the yarn with 10g pickling alum and 7g cream of tartar, also overnight. The steeped skins produced the most gorgeous amber colored liquid.

I exhausted dyed this yarn (as I do with most all my dyes) and the resulting skein is beautiful.

It came out with fantastic depth of color. It's not a color I can wear, but I'm sure I can find someone who wants it.

That's all I've got for today. I'm going to keep dyeing (there's no shortage of yarn here), and my goal is to get all of the pieces for my tote blocked out so I can start the sewing process. I'm also going to work on my sewing project and get some photos of it, so keep watching.

I've Been Busy

I don't know where to start with this post, I've got so much to put in it. I've been knitting, sewing, dyeing, spinning, and Westley's right in the middle of all of it.

My knitted tote is almost done (well, with the knitting, then there's the sewing). I was working diligently on it, which apparently Westley took exception to. I obviously wasn't paying the appropriate amount of attention to him, so he took matters into his own paws.

I've also been working diligently on my Percy shawl, but I've hit (another) snag. 17 more rows of chart B and I should be in the clear to finish it up.

Of course, all of this got put on hold for swap knitting. I'm participating in a Buffy the Vampire themed swap on Ravelry, and now that my swapee has received her package I can post about it here.

First, I designed and knit a fancy pair of fingerless mitts inspired by Drusilla.

The colorwork (my first ever stranded work) is supposed to represent blood dripping, and the fancy cast on gives them the frilly Drusilla vibe. These were done in Cascade 200 Sport on US 3 needles. I learned the cast on from Lucy Neatby's Knitting Gems 4 DVD.

My second contribution to the box was some custom dyed roving. My partner put in her questionnaire that she is itching to learn how to spin, so I picked up 4 ounces of undyed Polwarth at the yarn shop and used Kool-Aid to turn it into this:

I used a combination of cherry and black cherry to get the color I wanted, and I named it "Blood of the Innocent" (inspired by something Buffy said to Spike in Season 4, "Something Blue").

I wanted to add one more handmade thing to the box, so I went back to the yarn shop and picked up a ball of cream colored DK weight superwash, sat down (with my US3s again) and designed the following on the fly.

That's right, I knit Spike. His clothes are the same Cascade 200 Sport as the mitts. His clothes are removable.

The biggest challenge was figuring out how do put on his hair. In the show, he's got platinum hair that is wavy but slicked back. It's pretty much the same color as his skin, too (the whole no sunbathing thing). I spent hours thinking about it, and finally came up with the solution. Crochet.

I picked up a loop of yarn through his head, and did a chain one, single crochet repeat down the back on his head. I repeated this across to create his hair. I felt right clever about it, too.

To round of the swap box I sent, I added a drop spindle (came with my wheel, I wasn't using it), a Buffy book with 3 short stories, a bar of Dagobah organic dark chocolate with sunflower and hemp seeds in it, 2 skeins of Knit Picks Shine Sport in "Hearts Blood" (they call it "Holoyberry on the site), a ball of Kathmandu tweed, and a Brittany Birch shawl stick (for vampire protection). My swapee loved what she got. I'm still waiting to get my box (not coming from who I sent mine to). I'll post pictures of what I get when I get it.

Westley says it's lunch time, so I'll complete my update in the next post. See you then.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Drive By Pictures

Now those are some happy toes.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

It's been some day. I'll probably go to sleep just as soon as I'm done posting, even though that will probably be around 9pm.

First off, let me show you (some) of what I've been working on.

This is a baby blanket for one of the women in my knitting group. Her little daughter, Namoi, was born on the 13th of this month. I did not the entire blanket. It was a group effort as far as the blocks went (I knit 10 of them). I did, however, do 100% of the put together (including weaving in almost all of the ends). All of the neutral color little strips between squares? Me. It was a lot of work, but not as much as the beautiful little baby who now has a nice, warm, full of love blanket.

These are the pieces (thus far) for my Knitter's Handy Carry-All, from Knit Picks. So far I've got the outer bag (gray), the inner bottom, outer pocket, and part of the inner side (green).

The other two projects I've got going are secret. One's for a swap and one's an X-mas present.

Today was one day of the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (as you might have guessed from the title of this post). I did a small amount of shopping (I've got so much yarn and fiber right now I can hardly store it all). The first thing I bought was a pattern.

Sorry it's a little blurry, the camera kept jiggling at the last second, and I was too tired to fight it. It's a gorgeous circular-knit jacket. I've been eyeballing it for ages, and the designer was there with the patterns and samples and all and I caved. It's so very---elegant.

We walked around for a while after that (I went with Amy, Allison and Jill, Amy's mother in law). We watched some very enthusiastic sheep dogs herd some very aggravated ducks. We looked at pretties. We met up with Beth and had lunch. At lunch Amy showed me something she bought, and I loved it, so after lunch we went to Peru (well, not literally) and I bought this:

It's 100% alpaca from Peru. And if it looks long it is. I comes to about 2 inches above my knees. It looks good with jeans, but will be really cute with tights this winter. And it's got llamas on it!!

(That picture was right side up before I uploaded it).

We walked around lots after that, seeing pretties, woolly animals, more pretties, and lots and lots of pretties. We all started to get tired (and i was getting a headache) so we wrapped up our trip with a last go past the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth, where I got this:

It's Socks that Rock lightweight in color "Spike" from Buffy. It's black, reds and white, and will be excellent winter socks. Vampire serial killer socks.

Finally, I want to leave you with pictures of my new teapot, which I painted myself at the do-it-yourself place downtown.

(that picture was also right ways before I uploaded it. I don't know what's up)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How have I lived so long...

...without a garlic press? I picked one up last weekend at IKEA and I used it for the first time last night. It's brilliant! I can't wait to cook more stuff with garlic.

Speaking of IKEA, there are those of you out there who are waiting for pictures of the big purchases. I finally got around to taking the pictures today (I've only had this stuff for a week, it took a little while to get everything settled). I'll give you the before and after picture for each piece.

First, the TV area.

There was a small blue shelf with quite a bit of wasted space. Also, it wasn't quite sturdy enough to have a teenage hooligan jumping on and off of it several times a day. So I replaced it.

This is the MALM 4-drawer chest in birch. It's quite a bit larger than my previous dresser (next furniture picture) which means I've been able to make more space in my closet for sweaters and other bulky winter clothes. It is shorter than the shelf, and it took me about a week to figure out how to raise Westley's Window Spot to it's previous height where he could lay around looking out at the world. I finally wrapped an old pillow in his blankets and it works great.

So I got a new dresser and dumped the shelf. But I need a shelf, so I replaced the old dresser...

...with a new shelf.

This is an EXPEDIT series shelf, and I filled it with KASSET boxes (six of which I already had). See the little orange moose in the upper middle cubbie? That was an impulse purpose at IKEA. I don't feel too bad, it was only 49 cents. Four of the boxes and the bottom two magazine holders are still empty. I love having room to grow.

I also replaced my desk chair with a TROBJORN, since my old one hit right below my shoulder blades and made my back hurt, but I didn't photo it. I got the black one. It's comfortable.

Finally, the biggest change of all is my bed. My old bed was a traditional bed, but in this small space it took up so much space, and I decided to do something about it. So I went from this...

...with this:

Doesn't look much different, still sort of bed like? Well, it also does this:

This is the PS frame with the LOVAS mattress. It's a futon-style sofa bed that is very comfortable for both sleeping and sitting. It's awesome to have a sofa again! I didn't get the sofa cover since I didn't want to a) strip and remake the bed everyday, or b) find a place to store my sheets and comforter during the day. Having the sofa bed now gives me lots more room and makes this place feel bigger. Westley loves having the extra space to run.

So far I've sold the old bed, old dresser, and old shelf. I'm also selling my old desk, which has been in the house game room since April of last year. Someone is coming at 2pm today. I'm also thinking of selling my "living room" chair since I now have the sofa. I haven't sat in it all week, in fact it's buried in stuff. I'd like to replace it with a small side table so I don't have to keep my lamp, book, and glasses on the floor next to the bed.

In other news:

--my thesis is moving forward.

--I've finished the outer body of the Carry-All bag.

--I've got 2 more rows to attach to the baby blanket.

--Percy is hibernating.

It's time for lunch, both mine and the Westley Monster.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I finished a knitting project yesterday, and now I'm at loose ends about what to start next.

Actually, let me clarify that. I'm at loose ends about what sweater project to start next. Small bus knitting is decided (and will be started soon), and I'm currently working on the Knitter's Handy Carry-all Kit from Knit Picks (which is moving along nicely), and Percy is on-going (my goal is to have it completed by the start of fall term). However, I like to have a sweater project, and I'm keen to start making a dent in my exponentially increasing stash (despite my not buying yarn, the stash is still growing). So I'm going to lay out my options here and see if typing helps focus my knitting fancy.

First up is the Trellis and Keyhole Tank from Interweave Knits Summer 2009. I've got 5 balls of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy in royal blue that is just perfect and waiting to be this tank. However, since we're rapidly moving into the season known as "Fall" around here, as soon as I got this done I'd have to pack it away for 8 months until the weather rolled back to warmer. Not very practical.

Next possibility is Margot from Knitty Fall 2009. For this I would use more of the same yarn that I knit my Braided Pullover from last year (I've got 7 balls left over). It would be an easy knit, "mindless" comes to mind in fact, when thinking about it. I like the lines of the sweater and it's a classic, everyday kind of look.

Third is the Tweedy V-Neck Jacket by Stefani Japel (ravelry link). For this I'd use the $1/ball navy blue Peruvian wool that Mom got for me. It would be worn lots in the winter, because I love this kind of jacket and navy blue is a nice neutral color. I do own the book, so pattern acquisition isn't an issue.

I also have the yarn and pattern for the Geodesic Cardigan from the Winter/Spring 2010 Knitscene (third down), but the project I just finished was in the same yarn so I'm going to take a short break from it.

Choices, choices, choices. Maybe I'll start a new spinning project instead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ode to Buffy

It's Monday, and I'm back in the lab (no, I haven't moved in, and I've only got 2 hours today). I can't watch movies in the lab during the week, so I thought I'd give you all a run down of my favorite things about my favorite TV show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I watched Buffy from the very first episode to the final battle. Sure, there was that period during Season 6 when it had switched to UPN and we didn't really get UPN on our TVs, but I watched it all snowy anyways. I watched in in college, and even got my best friend hooked on the show so we could watch it together (because my roommate didn't want it on her TV). I've read essays written by serious people about the show and it's many messages, I've seen every episode ever made multiple times, and I own all 7 seasons on DVD. I've watched the interviews (but not commentary, I don't like people talking while I'm watching TV) and I've got my favorite episodes that correspond with my many moods. Following is a list of my many favorites about the show.

Favorite character: Xander. A close second is Tara.

Favorite love: Willow and OZ.

Favorite Buffy love: Buffy and Angel.

Favorite season: Three

Favorite episode: "Dopplegangland"

Favorite Halloween episode: "Fear Itself"

Favorite pick-me-up episode: "Prophecy Girl"

Favorite birthday episode: "Helpless"

Favorite scene: in season 2 "School Hard" where Buffy is fighting a vampire outside the Bronze so that Spike can assess her, and she sends Xander in for a stake, and he's going through her bag and pulls out a yo-yo, then a tampon, at which point he kind of freaks and filps it around, then pulls out the stake. The look on his face and his reaction to the tampon are priceless (at least to me).

Favorite rivalry: Angel vs. Spike. In fact, this is what redeemed the show Angel for me in it's fifth season. They play so well off of each other, and their petty bickering is hilarious, like an old married couple, they know how to push each others buttons.

Favorite character growth moment: Season 5, when Buffy puts the stupid Watcher's Council in it's place and tells them what they're going to do for her instead of jumping through their stupid patriarchal hoops.

Favorite supervillan: Caleb, cause I like Nathan Fillion and it was very gratifying to see Buffy split his misogynistic butt in half.

Favorite minor villan: Vampire Willow and Xander

That's all I've got for now. I've got an hour left here in the lab, I'm going to see about knitting another baby blanket square (got three done yesterday).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In the Lab Again

But this time I have pictures to share.

First, I have pictures of Westley in his improved window spot next to the TV.

Yes, they are basically the same picture, but the second one gives you a better idea of what he gets to look at out of the window, and the first shows the indoors off better.

Westley LOVES his spot now. He's very nearly glued to it. He naps there, watches the world there, bakes in the sun there, and surveys his indoor kingdom (aka my apartment) from there. He still has to share with the alarm clock, but that may change soon. The only down side (for me) is that this shift required that I move the TV antenna 10 inches to the left of where it had been sitting, and this was apparently enough to lose the tenuous connection with the air waves and I can no longer get OPB (PBS to the rest of the world). I miss getting to watch Nature and Antiques Roadshow.

On the other hand, I do find myself with more free time now (not lots more, cause I didn't watch TV that much anyways) but enough to give into the fiber dyeing impulse. This time I dug out the 4 ounces of ecru merino roving that I treated myself to for my birthday back in April. I used Kool-Aid and vinegar (only food safe dyes in my house on account of the Dread Pirate Roberts), but instead of simmering or steaming the roving, I decided to try baking it.

I got a large aluminum roasting pan from the Dollar Store, soaked the roving for an hour as per usual, then I painted the roving.

I made the base dye bath (the blue) using 4 packets of Blue Raspberry something or other and one packet of Grape. This went into the pan and the wet roving went in on top of it. I used my (very dry) hands to squish the dye (gently) into the roving. I had beautiful blue hands at the end of this process. The red is Cherry that was applied with a dropper.

After I took these pictures I sort of squished the red dye in so that it wasn't so...in your face.

I then put the pan into my cold oven and set the temperature for 200 F. My oven, being the piece of junk that it is, got up to 250 (and was still climbing) so I turned it down to 150 for about half and hour, then turned the oven off and just let the pan sit in the hot oven. Right around the time that the pan was cool enough to handle, all of the dye had been exhausted. I then dumped out this water, put in a 1:5 mixture of water and white vinegar, and let it sit for about an hour (it really doesn't need an hour, but it doesn't hurt anything and I was not in a hurry). During this bath, I was sitting on the floor next to the pan when Westley decided to pounce on my toes (I might have been egging him on). He managed to get his back foot into the pan of vinegar water as he pounced, and he was SO SURPRISED!!!! Now he had a WET FOOT!!! I couldn't stop laughing as he step-shook his way over to the rug, where he spent a great deal of time cleaning his toes off (between every toe).

I rinsed and squeezed the water and vinegar out, and spread it on my baking drying racks overnight. I don't have more pictures, because I'm not happy with how the blue turned out. It's much too pale for what I wanted. So I'm going to do another blue dye bath (with more dye) and bake it again (which was a great method!) to see if I can get a better color saturation before I take finished photos.

I'm going to finish off now and go knit some (more) four inch squares for a friend's baby blanket. And work on my sock, which I did a fantastic and death defying cable fix on yesterday, and last night I finished the gusset, turned the heal, and started up the leg. I'm on the home stretch!!!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I'd forgotten just how mind numbing 4 hours in the computer lab can be. So far I've printed 3 patterns, transcribed a thesis interview, dinked around on the internet, read some of my book, and gotten to a point in my second sock (the only knitting I brought with me today, in a total preparedness fail) where I got to looking at it compared to the first sock and I think something's gone wrong. This is a pattern I'm designing, so I can't just check the pattern or Ravelry. No, I have to go back and count the rows I knit for this section of the first sock, then go count the rows I knit for this section on the second sock, and if they don't add up...well...

I'd transcribe more interviews, but it's not really a practical thing to do when I've got to monitor the lab. I'll be sitting here for ages with no interruptions, and then as soon as I start transcribing 15 people in a row come up to me with questions. It's like how my mom knows just when to call me as I'm handling raw meat or in the bathroom.

I've got two hours left. Anyone feel up to bringing me some new knitting? No? Fine, I'll just have to work with what I've got here (which means I may be ripping the entire thing back if I've done this section wrong, since I have none of my knitting tools and this yarn is kind of splitty).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Less Than One Month...

...since my last update. I meant for it to be less time, but I'm happy that it is less than one month (if only just).

I'm going to start off this update with my most favorite of kitties.

He's been such a bug lately, stealing all sort of places to sleep.

He's stolen my "living room" chair:

He's stolen my pillows:

And his favorite new place to nap the day away is my desk chair!

It is very difficult to work at my computer when my chair has been usurped by a furry body. When he's not napping, he's in full attack mode. He's very fond of a new bag (which has been utterly destroyed since this picture, but remains a favorite even in it's ragged state).

I've been attacked several times out from under this seeming innocuous bag.

His Dread Pirate-ness is currently on top of my "entertainment center" where he surveys both the yard and his personal empire. I'll leave this part of my post with one more picture of my buggy boy.

(He's cuddling with a stuffed shark. He's my boy!!)

In more fibery news, I have the results from the first County Fair that I've ever entered items into (which is news to my blog readers because I've been so bad about posting).

(I just got up for something, and when I came back my chair had been commandeered!!!!!! That's what I get for housing a pirate, I guess. I'll have to get one of the folding chairs out.)

(When I went in the kitchen to get the folding chair, I was followed by my pirate in case I might feed him. I've reclaimed my comfy chair.)

I entered four items into the county fair this year. I will post them here in order of ribbon and proudness, and will include the judge's comments.

My Hot Pink and Vintage cardigan garnered a second place in it's class. The judge wrote:
"Try to bury yarn @ seams not in middle of work--when yarn source is ample - split plys + go in 2 directions to reduce bulk. Left seam sleeve incorrect. Pretty front, pattern even, buttons evenly spaced." It's true that the left sleeve seam is wonky (you can see it in the above pictures) but it doesn't show while wearing so I left it.

My tank top, knit from Moda Dea "Wool Bamboo." The judge had this to say: "Lacing at top thru open hole + both ends coming out same hole could be more attractive. Loose stitch @ lower bind off edge. Lovely yarn feel, great c-front pattern." Sadly, there aren't enough holes at the top for the lacing to do what this judge suggests.

A sundress that I made from free fabric. It currently doesn't fit, but I still love it (it's a cotton poly blend so it doesn't wrinkle or stain). There were no judge comments for this dress. My sewing skills left them speechless. :-D

And finally, my most favorite:

3 ounces of two ply light sport colonial wool top. This is my fourth yarn I ever made and I'm very proud of it. I'm not sure of the yardage, cause I stopped counting at 85 loops on the knitty noddy, which makes 5 ft loops, which makes approx 141 yards and I only counted about 1/3 of the loops on the noddy. It's soft, it's even, it's drapey, and it's a lovely heathered color.

I'm already starting to think of what I'll make for next year's fair. Perhaps the blue ribbon yarn will return as a lovely shawl...among other things, of course.

And finally, a few weeks ago three masked knitting bandits (Tink, Frog and Lifeline), whose true identities are unknown, yarn bombed this fair city. I captured evidence on "film" so that I could share it with you. Enjoy.