Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday is Dyeday.

Tuesdays are called Holy Tuesday at my house. That is because my family knows that that day is sacred. Nothing else gets scheduled for Tuesdays because that is the day I go to the “open Knit” at my LYS, SPIN. And Fridays are Dyedays. I try to do some dyeing every Friday. Yesterday I decided that I would dye some merino roving that I purchased at the CedarburgWoolen Mill as a gift for my daughter-in-law, Gay. She and I have been dyeing buddies for some time. We have dyed at her mother’s house in Florida, and then in Wisconsin, and at Siever’s School of Fiber Arts, where we have taken Batik classes.

I dyed two lengths of roving using Greener Shades dyes recommended by Deb Menz in her Interweave DVD, Dyeing in the Kitchen. Menz’s book, Color in Spinning, is also an invaluable source and guide I rely on. The first length of clean roving was pre-soaked in a warm solution of 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar. After gently squeezing out the wool, I placed it in the bottom of an enameled dye pot with enough water to make it as Menz refers to, using the technical term,  as “squishy.” I then poured the prepared amounts of dye over the wool, and with a gloved hand pushed down gently on the yarn to insure that the colors would blend, and that there would be no white spots. I then heated the pot to 170 degrees for 30 minutes.

An example of the dye card I try to keep for each job.
First length of roving dyed for Gay recorded on above card.

The painted the second length with the same colors, but in lighter shades. This wool I rolled up in plastic wrap, placed on a steamer rack in my pot, and steamed for 30 minutes. Both lengths were then rinsed gently and hung to dry.

Yarn painted for Gay.

Dye card for yarn painted for Gay.

This morning they were dry, packaged, and mailed in time to arrive on Gay’s Birthday.

If I have left over dye, I either mix them together or add some other color to it. I added some ruby red to some left over amethyst and dyed some Lion Brand Fishermen's wool for my bonus yarn of the day.

Amethyst - Ruby,  gem of a yarn.
Needless to say, Tuesdays and Fridays are my favorites.
Happy days, happy stitches, and to Gay, Happy Birthday.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good intentions vs. Reality, and a good idea

I try to keep a binder journal of my projects, but it isn’t always up to date. Ideally, the plan is to have a record of each project I do so that I can repeat it, share it, or, perhaps, develop it for sale. I use plastic sleeves to store a copy of the pattern that I can write notes on while I’m working. Sometimes the pattern is from a published work with its source recorded, in case I want to find it again, or cite and credit the designer. If it is my own design or riff on a published design, I store my notes and charts in there, too. The sleeve also contains a photo of the finished product, and a sample of the yarn used, with its label or record card, if it is hand-dyed or handspun. Here is an example. I made two hats adapted from a pattern in Baby Beanies by Amanda Keeys Her photos of those darling children make knitting her patterns irresistible. Thank you Amanda! 

Scanned images for my Knitting Journal file.

I used the pattern “euro bebe,” as my base, using solid and multicolored Plymouth Yarn’s “Encore” from my LYS, SPIN located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I added a section of my first attempt at bobbles. The second hat was made from yarn that I dyed after spinning. It included my first faux Fair Isle yarn. This sleeve, actually, contained most of the items I listed above.  Like I said, ideally, this is the plan, but I am way behind on the actual doing phase. (Lunch Break)

While eating my peanut butter and banana sandwich, I had a different idea for keeping my journal. I tried using my flatbed copier to make pictures of my work and yarn info to place in my binder. It is an acceptable option. Then I had another idea. Maybe some of you have already thought of this and are doing it already. In that case, YOU ARE BRILLIANT! Instead of using a binder, I have decided to use my scanner (I love my scanner.) and computer to keep my info, thus freeing up precious shelf space for another dyeing, spinning, or knitting tome. And I’ll save on paper and toner, too. 

Now I know what I’ll be doing the rest of this afternoon.  My scanner is all warmed up, and my bin of projects, patterns, and yarn samples awaits. 

Happy Stitches or Scans!                                                                 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Craft Heritage

With the news of the release of the 1940 Federal Census material, my interest in genealogy has been rekindled. Genealogy is one of many of my on again, off again enthusiasms. It fits together with a new found interest in history, a subject I will write about some other time. Now that I'm knitting, I have become interested in the history of knitting, and I have been enjoying, Knitting America: a glorious heritage from warm socks to high art, by Susan M. Strawn and Knitting Around the World: A multistranded history of a time-honored tradition, by Lela Nargi. Plying the three threads of history, genealogy and knitting leads me to thinking about the craft as it applies to the women in my family. Did my great grandmother, Rose, knit socks for her husband, Irish born, Union soldier, Tom? Was her sock pattern similar to the one reproduced in Strawn's history? 

I know very little about the craft history of my women ancestors. I do, fortunately, have one treasure handed down to me by my uncle. The velvet and silk log cabin quilt was made by my great great grandmother, Sarah. I love the scalloped edge with the bits of ribbon.

Sarah Ledden's log cabin quilt

I was close enough to my grandmothers to know that neither of them knit or engaged in other crafts. I did have a cousin, Dorothy, who knit. I remember sitting on her stoop, and watching her knit argyle socks for her husband. I was fascinated by the multiple swinging bobbins of color coordinated yarn. I was envious of her daughter, Barbara, whose doll sported a forest green hand knitted sweater set. I don't know where Dorothy developed her interest in knitting. I know her mother did not knit. 

My mother's passion was reading, but she began and completed a couple of projects that she made for me. One was stitched from a crewel kit, a mother rocking her baby. The other was an afghan from a Spinnerin pattern. I'm sure I still have it. If I took time now to look for it this post would not be published until, maybe, September. I did find her pattern book, so I can show you a picture. 

   Spinnerin, Fashions for Living, Volume 168, 1966.

The one my mother made was turquoise with roses cross-stitched in shades of pink. I wondered about the narrow shape of it until, years later, I saw the pattern. My mother had decided to leave out two of the narrow panels and the chain stitched joins. I have to give my mother a lot of credit for all the work she did do. She would have had to learn how to do the afghan stitch from the "How To" section of the pattern book. And I wonder if she adapted those instruction for he left-handedness. She may have used her right hand because she wrote with her right, a result of the insistence of the nuns who taught her. It is too late to ask her now. That's a genealogist's regret. Ask now, or never know. She might not have understood the chain stitch joins, never having had any prior experience with crochet. I know these two gifts were acts of love, one mother to another, and mother to daughter. Now, many of my projects are stitched with love for my children (5) and my grandchildren (10). And I use them as an excuse to knit every chance I get.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

A four letter word 

I just learned a new word. When I saw how my crossword puzzle blanks turned into a four letter word I did not know, I started to look for mistakes. The word clew had automatically appeared vertically as I made horizontal entries. The clue for 54 down was, "ball of yarn." Since I had never heard the word before, I was convinced that my across words were wrong. Nope. So, I reached for the dictionary that sits on an antique highchair in our farmhouse kitchen. There was the word in our ancient 1966 college edition of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, "clew....noun...1. a ball of thread or yarn in Greek legend, a ball of thread was used by Theseus as a guide out of the labyrinth." Had I ever read about Theseus? My reading retention is abominable, but my curiosity is alive and well, so I went online to check him out.

I found Theseus at: Here are two paragraphs from the story you can read at this site.

It was not long after he arrived in Crete that the hero encountered Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos. She fell in love with him at first sight. It was Ariadne who gave Theseus a clew which she had obtained from Daedalus. In some versions of the myth it was an ordinary clew, a simple ball of thread. It was to prove invaluable in his quest to survive the terrors of the Labyrinth.

When Theseus first entered the maze he tied off one end of the ball of thread which Ariadne had given him, and he played out the thread as he advanced deeper and deeper into the labyrinthine passages. Many artists have depicted Theseus killing the Minotaur with his sword or club, but it is hard to see how he could have concealed such bulky weapons in his clothing. More probable are the versions of the tale which have him coming upon the Minotaur as it slept and then, in properly heroic fashion, beating it to death with his bare fists. Then he followed the thread back to the entrance. Otherwise he would have died of starvation before making his escape.

This all led to:'s_thread_(logic). Then I remembered the horrendous knot I made yesterday while working with a skein of yarn I had dyed. The words Gordian knot popped into my head, so I had to look that up. What I found did not apply to my particular knot, but it was fascinating and thought provoking. Take a look and see where it leads you.  

I'm not even going to mention Arachne, or the Greek Moirai (the Fates).
Where will your next clew lead you?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

welcome to ikn

Welcome to my first post in "i'm knitting now." I've been sitting in my "knitting spot" thinking about making my first pair of socks. I know I have to measure my feet. Okay, 10 1/2 inches is the length of my foot, but is the width down near the ball and toes or up near the instep? I start looking for the answer to that question in books I have acquired in the last year since my interest has turned to knitting. When I pull Kristin Nicholas from my shelf, I'm reminded why I started knitting again after thirty some years. Looking at her work in Kristin Knits and Color by Kristin not only gives me my color fix for the day, but also tickles me from the inside out. Next year during the doldrums, I'm going to try to remember to use her books to brighten dreary winter days. The first things I knit last year were a hat and baby sweater inspired by Kristin. They are not as colorful as she would have made them, but they were a new beginning for me.
I was going to use some Patons Kroy Socks yarn from JoAnn's, and instruction from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd for my first sock adventure, and I think I'll stick to that plan while I decide which of Kristin's luscious socks to knit. In KK she has two colorway options, "atlantic and pacific socks." Since I live near the third coast, a couple of miles from Lake Michigan, maybe I'll come up with my own color combination.

Oh, I think I'm going with the ball and toe measurement. If I'm wrong, let me know. If I'm right, I'd still like to hear from you. In the meantime, good stitches.