Archive for August, 2006

Yesterday I finally wrote up something I’ve been toying with for a while, a hand sanitizer cozy. I did the first few in crochet with handspun, but now I’ve made up a pattern to knit in a standard size yarn. The basic bag is ready to design with colors or patterns of your choice. I even did a sample with two colors, something I normally avoid.

I’m now down to the “feeling better but still ought not push it” part of being sick. I have a new friend, a humidifier shaped like a frog, to spend my days with (because if I don’t, I can’t breathe.) This means a lot of knitting time, and I’m almost done with the baby hat. I’m really slow when I’m knitting from a chart, so I don’t normally do much in the way of patterning. But baby stuff is small so it doesn’t feel like I’ll never get anything finished.

I’ve been sick all week, so I’ve spent a good bit of time sitting around like a lump staring at the walls. Sometimes that’s all you can do. If you feel bad enough, you don’t even care.

I did start some more knitting, a baby hat of some yarn I’ve had stashed away for a few years waiting for a project. It’s one of four skeins of ostensibly matching 3-ply, but this one I got distracted on and one of the singles is much larger than the others. So it doesn’t match the rest, but it’s fine for something on it’s own. There is enough for a lace cap and maybe some booties or something. The pattern is an insanely simple four stitch yarn over lace, but at times it’s been too complicated for my fuzzy brain to deal with. So I started winding shuttles, something so stupid that it’s impossible to screw up.

The next piece on the loom is narrow, I actually prefer stick shuttles for that. They hold tons of yarn and are easy to handle. The boat shuttle would be faster for wider fabric, but for this I think it comes out about the same. What you lose in handling the shuttle is gained by not having to chase it down when you drop it for the 87th time or change the bobbin every ten minutes. If I’m going to throw something through the shed, I want it to be at least wider than my shuttle is long. Otherwise, I might as well pass it hand to hand. A while back I managed to acquire a Harrisville shuttlette, a short boat shuttle they suggest for narrow warps. I seem to recall the previous owner of my old floor loom gave it to me. I’m not terribly fond of boat shuttles in the first place, but oh how I hate this thing. All the bobbin-snagging madness of a standard boat shuttle with the added aerodynamic qualities of a brick. Just thinking of it reminds me I have to order that end-feed shuttle before I start the next project.

I finished the socks, you can go look at them in the Gallery. They are a tad large and didn’t shrink at all after a machine wash and dry. The ball band doesn’t say superwash, so I actually wanted them to shrink just a bit. Somebody pointed out the washing instructions that I hadn’t noticed. Apparently “sock yarn” means “superwash” these days. I didn’t get the memo.

I’m still not thrilled with my short row heel, but at least the second one was better than the first. They pool nicely around my ankles, which is what I was after. I knew these wouldn’t be perfect, but they are fine for wearing around the house and give me someplace to start with the next pair. I have two more balls of this yarn in a different colorway, I intend to make properly shaped above the knee stockings out of them. Since one ball nearly makes a pair of basic knee socks by itself, two will be plenty even with a smaller needle. Before I do that, however, I’m going to wear these for a bit and see what I think of the yarn. It’s not Merino, I’m concerned it may be a bit itchy above the ankles.

Back from Petaluma with a pile of laundry and a bunch of newly-blue yarn. I’ll put the rest of the pictures on their own page soon, but here is one of the coolest:

gray-green yarn

This is the huge skein I made from the cone of so-so white single. I did put it first in the walnut pot, but wasn’t thrilled with the color I got. It was a yellow-brown that many people admired, but I was not one of them. The natural dye expert in attendance hinted that indigo was a great way to recover from a walnut experience with which one is not entirely pleased (having done so herself on several occasions.) So into the indigo vat it went, which soaked up half the pot and required maintenance every time. But after some hours of dips, it came out a greenish gray. I’ve decided I need to use it for pattern weft on something in a traditional coverlet design.

I’m heading off today for another trip to the farm in Petaluma. It’s a bunch of people from my spinning guild, we go to sit, swim, eat, yak and generally hang out and be fibery. There will be dyepots. With luck, somebody will be able to explain what I am still doing wrong with this sock knitting thing. We will eat way too much food and hang out with the sheep.

There will be an indigo vat, as usual, and I made huge skeins out of a cone of baby pink cotton yarn. With luck, it will turn out blue with purple bits and make for interesting weaving. The chemistry of the indigo process actually strips the fiber reactive dye out of cellulose material, which is very interesting. It doesn’t happen all at once, so you get a range of colors between whatever the original was and blue and can tie areas of the material to act as a resist. I have a t-shirt that started off bright yellow and is now blue and this odd greenish-yellow alien glowing stuff where the original color comes through. This amuses me because it’s almost exactly what you see when something first comes out of the indigo vat, before it hits the air and turns blue. (Indigo is not soluble in water, you have to reduce it in an alkaline solution before the fiber will absorb the dye.) But the synthetic thread used to stitch it together is still yellow.

My other dye experiment is going to be walnut hulls, kindly given by an online spinning friend. Without adding any other chemicals, simmered hulls give a dark brown. I’ve never actually used walnut hulls myself, so I’m completely guessing on how much to use. I stuck 100g of it in a nylon stocking to soak for a few days and the water is good and black. I’ve got about 750g of wool yarn and no expectations.

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