Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dyeing is Addictive

Another beautiful Saturday, not too hot, amazing for Texas in August. And I was tempted back to Heritage Arts at the Beaumont Ranch to test dye some Kraemer Sterling before proposing it to the group for our dyeing week-end next month. OK, any excuse will do. Micki and Susan decided to come along, and off we went to the ranch.

Where Lorelei and Sue had already set out the dyes and our worktables on the wooden porches of our little western town.
The process involves a bit of mental planning, then some measuring and stirring.
Then it's off to apply the results of our concoctions. Note Lorelei's blue/green hands here. She hates gloves almost as much as she hates shoes! Susan is hard at work creating "Noriko", a colorway to honor her beloved kitty of the same name. Thanks to Susan for all but two of the photos today. Ms. Angeluna forgot her camera!
Notice how "chic" we all are in our aprons provided thoughtfully by Micki. One of the neighboring shop owners wanted to buy them off our backs if we would stain them with "blood" so they could use them in the upcoming Civil War Reenactment. Impossible. Hard as we tried, our dyes wouldn't work on the non-protein fibers of the aprons. And here is Ms. Angeluna working hard to get the colorway she has so clearly in her mind.
Dyeing done and ready to cook heat set.
Straight out of the oven and too hot to handle. The Kraemer Sterling needed to be rinsed ASAP before the vinegar tarnished the silver.
VoilĂ , the products of our labors...the two ends are both skeins of Sterling.
And here we have the Sterling samples, which dyed up beautifully. Think these two skeins of Gitane may want to be a shawl.

Just nearby, these beautiful water lilies were languishing in the lake. Eye candy for the overheated dyers.

Can't wait to return. Have lots of new colorways floating in my head like sugarplums. We missed you Celtic Memory.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gauge Happens

The latest round of books to arrive on my doorstep were each a real treat. Knit Kimonos is so good, I want to knit every single pattern in the book. Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters is a terrific workbook for sweater creation. And then there is Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters which I found at Knitter's Bookshelf (Nancy shipped it out in record time). This is really an exciting book. Cat takes sock construction and turns it inside out before turning it on it's ear. Lots of lovely and innovative patterns, but also lots to learn. I couldn't be more pleased with this little collection.

And since I mentioned knitting immediately from the Kimono book, here you can see I've been swatching. There are actually several swatches, each more confusing than the one before. I have a nice little stash of Celtic Memory Yarns cashmere/silk which Jo hand-dyed in the most luscious scarlet/coral colour. Wouldn't it be beautiful in this kimono jacket? The pattern shown was knitted in cotton (heavy?). So I set about trying to get gauge, 10s, 10.5s and 11's. 11 is too airy, although the closest to gauge. 10.5 actually gave me a tighter gauge than the 10s. Both were Denise needles and I've no possible way to explain that except...gauge happens. I even blocked the swatches. If I get stitch gauge, I am way short on row gauge, etc. etc. Just about decided to redesign the piece a bit to allow for these irregularities. Just itching to get started.But first I must absolutely finish my June STR Sock Club sock since the next one should be here in a couple of weeks, plus I need to get them posted to Summer of Socks, where I am a complete laggard, with no shame. I've been painting the house as much as knitting lately. Both socks are on the straightaway of the foot, and it is now clear, I am falling way short of enough yarn to finish. Way short. So if anyone has bits and leftovers of STR Firebird, please take pity on me. I will happily pay postage.
And just for fun, here are two versions of a Cat Bordhi knitting needle sheath from an April Fools Day Workshop in Newport, Oregon.It's lovely, practical and sentimental. The last night, Cat has you share bits and pieces of each others yarns with beads and bits and whatever you want. You knit up your shape, felt and twist, and they make these elegant little sheaths to protect your precious needles. And you can see Mary's red yarn and Celia's pink yarn and, well, you get the picture.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We do so love the mountains

First off, I don't think I've yet shown off the finished handspun socks, my first completed pair for Summer of Socks. TahDah!! I keep falling asleep on my knitting and it's for sure I'm not going to win the most socks completed prize, but I do so love these. Colors are much nicer, ochres and mauves, but my camera just wouldn't show it this time. Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop Handspun, 2 skeins

Size 2.25mm &2.5mm circs

Undulating Rib Sock from IK Favorite Socks

Had a few days escape from the heat and relative flatness of Texas. Headed to Idaho! Through Phoenix, into Boise. Boise was a delight, not at all what I expected. Neat, green, pleasant. All the people we came in contact with were great. Areas of downtown had been renovated and guess what I found near the Capitol? This is Drop a Stitch, a neat little shop with just lovely yarns and the nicest owners. You can just smell a fiber store from miles away, can't you? And this is a wall of Koigu, and Alchemy and other goodies!! None of which are carried locally, so it was fun to look things over.
This is adorable Anne, very sweet and she really does smile tht much. She is probably giggling over the fact that the BF would not hang out in the shop. This was his first yarn shop and he had a look of panic before he fled for several coffees. He definitely didn't get it.
Anne recommended the Alchemy Bamboo sock yarn. They have a local Russian knitter who makes a lot of socks. She first turned her nose up at this fiber, but then she knit a pair with it and loved it. So I shall give it a try.
They had a LOT of solid Koigu, and I have definitely been in the mood lately for some solid socks, so got enough to do Loksins and some of CookieA's patterns, Thelonius will be the next.And then they showed me the new Lorna's Laces Twist. Looks like a Clapotis to me. Leaving Drop a Stitch, there was the most beautiful pottery horse in the middle of the sidewalk. Now he seems to belong to a Chinese Restaurant nearby, but isn't he lovely? Actually, Boise had several other yarn stores that sounded interesting, but the BF looked as though it was best not to ask for another stop!
Then it was into the car for several hours drive through rolling desert with a thick haze over it. The BF and I wondered what this weird haze might be. Found out the next day it was smoke, that there were fires all over the state, one very close to Sun Valley where we stayed, just a mile or two up the canyon.
And this most unartistic shot is Ketchum, a rather charming little town just a mile or two down the canyon from Sun Valley. Excellent restaurants, lots of galleries, lots and lots of real estate offices and banks, and a shop called Isabel's Needlepoint. Who knew that this delightful and sunny little shop on the second floor of a neo/old building had such a wonderful knitting side? One thing I loved, as I always do when I find them, is all of the sweaters they have made up that you can finger and try one. This is only a few. Every window all the way around the shop had a sweater hanging in it. But the big excitement was that, in addition to their very well stocked wall of Koigu, their shipment (ordered the year before) arrived while I was standing there. Being totally Koigu deprived in North Texas, I had to take deep breaths to keep from swooning.This lovely lady is Trina (short for Katrina I believe), who was a huge enabler! There was also Jane and Julie Jane, one of whom is a crack sock knitter and both of whom were very helpful.

This gives a bit of an idea of this little patch of green in the desert mountains. Sun Valley is extremely green with beautiful flowers and fountains and symphony in a tent and an outdoor ice skating rink that gave a show with olympic champion skaters, and several gorgeous golf courses, all very Disneyland for grown-ups. But delightful. The views in all directions were fantastic. The air was so wonderfully mountainy crisp, it was a joy to sleep with the windows wide open.Even the swans had luxury accommodations here! These are the babies from the spring hatching. I love the mountains. Spent much of my childhood in the mountains of Colorado and most every summer thereafter. And I miss it!

What I didn't mention here yet was all of the airports and the throngs of people and the fact that every flight was oversold (that gets tiresome) and the fact that every connecting flight seemed to come into the totally opposite end of the airport. There is no glamor left in air travel, that's for sure. But I had to manage all of this, plus all of the mountains, with a toe I broke the day before I left. I heard it snap and did I feel stupid. Swollen and purple, then yellow, there was no way that toe was going into anything but a thong sandal, even in the cold mountain air. I debated unraveling the toes of a couple of my handknit socks so they would fit into thongs, but thought better of it. Then you got to worry about people bumping you. Thank goodness for knitting. Waiting for hours and hours sure goes better with a bit of knitting in hand. Now for the truly weird part. I'm knitting various absolutely lovely socks on magic loop, and nowhere, not one single person mentioned it. Days of knitting on planes, waiting at gates, in restaurants, no one commented. It's strange.

New projects starting up, but that will have to wait for the next posting!