Sunday, April 30, 2006

What's Next?

Not a lot of knitting was accomplished this weekend. In fact, just the opposite.

The Pink Pomatomus is not going well. The foot was too long so I wanted to rip out the heel again to re-knit. (Knitting rule #1 - Never rip out knitting at 1am!) I lost track of what row I was on and went too far. Instead of taking the time to count up the rows, I had decided it would be best to rip it right down and start over again. It seemed like a good idea at the time. (Knitting rule #2 - Nothing is a good idea if you thought of it at 1am!) I had ripped back the heel previously and started it at 3" instead of 2" from the heel. I may have to start the heel right after the toe, the way this is going!! I think I may just change back to a short row heel.

The Elfine socks was another frog casualty this weekend. There's a good reason why I like to knit both socks at the same time...especailly if I leave the second sock for a few weeks. The second sock was just not matching to the first sock. I don't care if the colours are not lined up but I really hate having the technicals not match up. (Knitting rule #3 - Write things down...especially if you deviate from the pattern!!)

What I did accomplished this weekend...

I finished spinning my hand-dyed silk noil. It was really difficult to spin. My fingers are covered with little cuts from pulling the silk. It needed a LOT of predrafting! The resulting yarn is a thick/thin yarn with lots of texture. Spinning this stuff is very interesting - you have to pretend the dried brown bits are really leaves and twigs. (Don't worry - I sat out on the deck and picked out all the non-silk bits.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Colourful Chevrons

Presenting the Chevron Socks! This is the merino wool that I handpainted during our Sock Yarn painting day. My son suggested I call these Clown Socks. Haha!

The wool was wound into two joining centre pull balls so each sock was knitted from the opposite ends of the skein. It was a happy chance that the stripes lined up. It was not the exact effect I wanted but it was close. The pattern was supposed be a fairisle look but the repeats were too big. We didn't use any thickeners so the dyes ran as we were taking the wool off the jigs.

The sock blocker is a wire coat hanger, bent into a sock shape. Cost: Free

This pair of socks will go in the "special" sock drawer. While we painted our own skeins, the whole project was a collaboration of the Group. We had a great time doing this. It was a long day but it was fun. We started knitting our socks as soon as the yarn was dried. I can't wait to see all the finished socks when they're done!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunny Fridays are EVIL

Some days it's really hard to concentrate at work when the weather is gorgeous and sunny.

(Weathercam from the Jericho Yacht Club as of 9:30 am today)


Friday, April 21, 2006

Celebration of Earth Day

This is a Calendula officinalis, Erfurter Orangefarbigen variety. Commonly known as Marigold but I like to refer to it by the latin name, Calendula, so not to be confused with the French Marigold of the Target family. Very different.

This plant is special because it's two years old. In this zone, calendulas are usually considered annuals. They should die each fall and have to be replanted each spring. This guy have managed to live through his second winter. A common plant that's easily grown.

The flowers usually range from pale yellow to brilliant orange. I've also seen varieties with reddish orange as well. This particular variety is usually grown commercially because of it's high medicial value.

The young leaves can be eaten in salads, the petals are plucked and dried and used in all sorts of skin washes. Infused in oil, it will make a great face lotion. Very soothing for chapped skin. Another great reason to keep it in the garden is the flower can be rubbed on bee and wasp stings to relieve the pain and swelling. And lastly, the flowers can be boiled to extract a yellow dye. I haven't tried this yet as it would take too much of my precious flowers that I use for other purposes.

Calendula Oil
1/4 cup dried calendula petals
~1/4 cup jojoba oil

Place the calendula petals in a clean dry container (I like canning jars) and fill with jojoba oil until the oil covers the petals with just a bit over. Let sit for 1/2 hour and check to see if you need to add more oil. As the petals absorb the oil, the level may go down. Put the lid on tight and let it sit in a sunny window for 2 weeks. Gently swirl the jar twice a day but make sure all the petals are still covered.

After 2 weeks, strain out the petals and save the oil. The oil can be used directly on your skin as a soothing skin oil or used to make a salve or lip balm.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Merino/Silk Orenburg-like swatch

Orenburg shawls are traditionally knitted with fine gossamer yarn, handspun with the down from the Orenburg goats and plyed with a fine silk thread. This yarn was spun with a merino and silk blend and would be considered much too thick. Needle sizes range from 1.5mm (000 to 2.0mm (0) and my swatch was done with 2.75mm needles.

I started at the lower left border, cast on 7 stitches loosely, knit a simple border pattern. Originally, I had planned on doing 4 sets of teeth but was not sure if I would have enough to get a decent size swatch. I did 3 repeats of the border, turned the corner, knit back, did the other corner and worked up. The centre pattern is a simple fish eye pattern. It's worked on both sides.

One thing I learned is that you need to keep careful count of your rows if you're going to doing several patterns. I need to rework the charts so that the number of rows line up with each other better.

Traditionlly, the yarn is spun cleaned but greasy to make it easier to spin fine. The yarn is not washed until after the shawl is knitted up. This will help to see the stitch definition and make the pattern easier to follow.

Hmm....looks like I got a yarnover in the wrong spot in the border. Not much to look at - knitted lace is so ugly until it's properly blocked. I think I'll re-knit this with a different needle size.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A good day

Compared to rest of the weekend, today was a beautiful day. The sun came out and warmed everything up so nicely. I dyed some silk last night and was able to put them out to dry. Drying silk is very ugly. But once everything is dried and you snap them into shape, the silk is the most luxurious thing ever! So soft and shiny!

From left to right: Tussah silk roving, silk noil, and silk oblong. I wanted the uneven dyeing so I scrunched everything into mesh bags. I love the way it spins up with the colour variations.

I did get a bit of knitting done (in between spinning and eating and lounging) but not as much as I hoped. I got sidetracked by the merino/silk. It's 70% merino and 30% silk. Although the percentage of merino is higher, it spun up more like silk than wool. Silk is so light that for 30% silk, that's a LOT of silk fibres! It's spun fine with lots of twist. I'm knitting the sample skein into a swatch for my Orenburg lace shawl. Once again, I have to say how ugly lace looks before blocking.

Cherry Tomatoes

The little tomato seedlings are getting big. This variety are cherry tomatoes that you can grown in hanging baskets. We planted 8 pots and every one of them have sprouted. The first year, we planted the whole package of seeds (not sure how many would survive) and got over 30 pots of plants. We gave away so many plants that people ran screaming from us! We're getting much better at this now.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A little bit of everything!

I had good intentions. I wanted to finish a few of my socks-in-progress but I got a bit sidetracked.

I really don't think it's humanly possible to buy all that luscious fibre and not spin any of it! This little bit here translate to this...

8 grams, 2 plyed, 64m. I didn't think there was that much on the bobbin. I plied it from a centre pull ball and the colours ended up darker than what was on the bobbin. I'm spinning another sample to see how it will look Navajo plied. It's a 4-day long weekend...I still have plenty of knitting time.

Not Jaywalker Socks

We all knew that I was going to start the Jaywalker socks, right? I got about 5" done when I realized it was way too wide for my feet. And the pattern was not as nice going toe up. It made funny little points (don't laugh, TBC!) I thought the Cheveron socks from Elann would look much better...

The one thing I changed was to add an extra stitch at the end of the top to make 34 stitches instead of 33 in the pattern. This way, I don't have to end with a YO and this kept my stitches nice and neat. There's 3 sets of chevron plus 1 stitch.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Toe Up Pomatomus - Part II

Heels for the Toe-Up Pomatomus

The toe-up Pomatomus has been waiting for the heels for a few days now. I have been carefully considering all options. I usually like the short row heel for toe up socks but part of the charm of the Pom socks is the rib-look heel. I'm going with the heel flap and gusset. It's a bit more work for toe up socks because you have to figure out what goes where.

Work the foot and pattern until 3" from the heel. (The reason I went with 3" instead of 2" is that the foot ended up being way too long for me. I had to frog back and started my heel earlier.) On the sole side, knit 1, increase 1 and knit to 1 stitch before the end, increase 1, knit 1. Next round, knit plain. Alternate the two rows until there's 36 stitches for the sole and there should already be 36 stitche on the top (pattern).

For the last plain round, place marker 1 stitch from the end at both ends. Next round, increase 1 on the outstide of the markers for both ends. At the same time, knit in pattern for the top of the foot. Increase until there's 15 stitches on each sides (outside marker).

For this part, it was easier doing one sock at a time. I took the heel section off my circular and used DPNs. Next round, knit to 1 stitch before marker, knit 2together taking 1 stitch before marker and 1 after marker, place marker back. Turn work and slip the last stitch. Purl to 1 before end of marker and purl 2 together - 1 before and 1 after marker. Do the same thing until all the stitches on the outside of marker is used up. There should be 36 stitches on the sole side.

Now I have the second heel to do.

Continue with leg, using chart A.

Rib and cast off loosely.

See here for Part I

Not Knitting

I'm not knitting them...just wanted to see what it would look like in balls. I have willpower.

I think I'm not going to knit a pair of JAYWALKER socks with this.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Need sunglasses!

Last night, we got together for the unveiling (or unraveling) of our handpainted sock yarn. Overall, I think the results were pretty spectacular. "Not Really Orange" came out a nice bright yellow.

The surprise of the day was the "mop up" skein. One skein got a bit messed up during soaking and instead of playing around, trying to sort it out, we used it to mop up extra (and spilt) dyes. The overall colour came out golden rust with bits of blue.

I'm so tempted to start knitting this right away but I wanted to finish the toe-up Poms first, then the second Elfine sock...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Fibre Fun Weekend

I'm so very tired and my feet are hurting. But I had such a good fibre weekend that I would do it all again, given the chance. I don't know where to start.


Fiber Festival at Tradex in Abbotsford. It was so much fun! With everything we had planned this weekend, I knew that I won't have time to go both days. Instead of a workshop, Amber and I shopped till we dropped...literally.

I came home with just few things. :)

It was a Merino kind of day. Two bags of merino/silk, one bag of 100% merino, one bag of merino/bison, two bags of jet black alpaca, 200gms cotwold/silk blend, one skein of handpainted tencel, one bag of fake cashmere, 1 set of Crystal Palace double pointed needles in a size & length I don't already have, and a couple of magazines.

The fake cashmere is nylon so I thought it would be something to blend with merino for socks. I still have so much of that merino from Black Sheep last year.

The black alpaca is from Cortes Island Suri Alpacas. There's a picture of Thunder, the Alpaca. My son has met Thunder and he is as gorgeous as his picture.

Still, considering what was there, I thought I showed remarkable restraint. We shopped until 4:30pm, met up with the rest of the gang (who were finishing up the Nuno felting workshop. There should be some pics on the Twisted By Choice blog in a few days.) for more shopping and a late dinner. I was exhausted by the time I got home. I think I spent just as much time chatting with everyone as I did shopping. :D


This was our Sock Painting Day at the Clubhouse. Jade's husband had kindly made us two jigs. We got together about 10am-ish...and finished at 8:30pm! The first two skeins took us 6 hours to organize and paint. The rest was much faster once we figured out what we were doing. Heh! It was done with our usual trial and error method - accompanied by a lot of laughing and giggling.

We did managed to finish painting six skeins. I love how they turned out! There were some surprising results after steaming. Some colours bled and separated, making interesting effects. Other colours changed drastically - some were more vibrant and some were more muted than we origianlly thought. I think we were all happy with the results. More socks to knit!


I really don't like losing that hour when we move the clocks forward. Especially this busy weekend. I think we should all petition to change that to Wednesday - I don't mind giving up an hour of work time for daylight savings. :) Weekends are short enough as it is.

The Glass Bead workshop was so much fun! Kerri Fuhr is a very attentive instructor and talented bead maker. She had all of us oohing and ahhing over her work. At the beginning of the class, Kerri passed around samples of her work. The work was fantastic! They were the kind of stuff that you want all of it - every single last bead!

During the class, as Kerri explained different techniques, she would pass the samples around again. After trying it out for ourselves, we can appreciate the hard work that goes into the making of a single bead. Our attempts were nothing like hers. I'm not going to point out which misshapen beads are mine. Making glass beads (or Lampworking) was something I've always wanted to try. Despite the wobbly first beads, I really enjoy working with the glass and came home with one of her beginner's kits. I'm trying not to think of this as a new hobby but as something that will accessorize my fibre work.