Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Dye Class

I told someone I went to a class on dyeing last week and they became alarmed that I was sick. Non-knitters! Whatever are we to do with them? But I have to say the most fun class I took at Madrona was Judith MacKenzie McCuin's Just Dyeing for Socks.

Nothing like being given a room protected in industrial strength plastic and being let loose with a boggling range of color possibilities and told to "have fun." Here are the advantages of dyeing at Madrona:

1) Not in my kitchen.
2) I don't have to prep it all.
3) I don't have to clean it up.
4) And best of all, I don't have to clean it up.

So I repeated the last ones, but come on, those need to be repeated. Special hurrahs to Judith and her pair of helpers who did all the grunt work so the rest of us could play.

We started out with skeins of Worsted/Mohair mix. Mine turned into a clownish mess, but that is how it is supposed to be your first time out. I listened to other students worry over not getting it perfect, but for me, it was the lessons of doing it all wrong in the first skein that helped me with my next two: a sock blank and a skein of merino/silk blend.

Isn't this silk blend beautiful? I just love how the greens and blues and yellows blended. I'm thinking of making a lacy little scarf with this skein. The clown yarn will probably get knit into something to felt, but I have to decide whether or not I want to risk hives over knitting with mohair.

After all the painting, the skeins went into ziploc bags and then into the pot to cook. Oh, yum, Mom! What's for dinner?

Now the only downside of all this, is that we also dyed sock blanks, but mine somehow went missing. They were left on tables in the back of the classroom over the next few days for all of us to pick up, and mine got lost in the shuffle or someone just picked up the wrong one. But even if I hadn't come home with anything, I would rate this class an A+ for fun. Like being allowed to color on the walls and outside the lines all at once.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coming Down

I'm back from the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I've been back since Sunday night, but I couldn't type yesterday to save my life. Now I could go on and on about the classes and what I learned, and all the cool knitters I met, but I think everyone prefers seeing what you get when go to a knitting conference. So, since my brain is still mush, I give you my own personal Madrona yarn crawl. And just a warning, I do have my firewall up, so no trying to sneak over and steal my precious'es:

First up, I hit the Toots Le Blanc booth. I haven't knit up the last yarn I bought there, but that didn't stop me from stocking up, 'cause you know, it's 50% Alpaca, 50% Jacob, in a DK weight that I think will be lover-ly in the Honeycomb Vest.

After Cat Bordhi's class, I'd spotted some sock yarn in a linen/merino blend, by Tactile, that was so bright and pretty, I had to have some . . . because well, I am now an enthusiastic sock knitter. Yes, I am.

Yeah, that pink will wake up the feet. Though I may be doing something else with it. Not sure.

Then it was onto The Fiber Gallery booth were she had the Fiber Trends Leaf Lace shawl hanging in the booth. I'd been having shawl envy since I walked into the conference and there it was, taunting me. "Knit me, knit me," it whispered from across the aisle. "I won't drive you to drink crazy, I promise. . . " Now we all know me and lace knitting. But ahem, I also mean to give this a try. So I bought the pattern and these two skeins of Handmaiden Sea Silk:

I was shopping with my new friend and great designer, Lisa Ellis and she and I went back and forth over which skeins worked best with my colors, and we had a lot of help picking them out. Isn't that great when you have lots of people to help you buy yarn?

Now I didn't need any help when I got to the Blue Moon booth. Despite having knit the World's Ugliest Socks out of one of their skeins, I still can't resist their yarns. The names and the colors just knock me over. And so I got two skeins of:

Jabberywocky in the Lightweight version. I thought if the shawl project is a success then I will try another one, and if not, well, then socks! And since I know of about four babies about to make their way into the world, I got this wonderful skein of Mediumweight STR in Grimm's Willow Wren:

Which is going to make the coolest, sweetest Baby Surprise Jacket (like this one) for some little wee pumpkin. And then I went back in the market at the last hour and probably shouldn't have, but found the colorway of Taos I've been looking for and bought it:

Okay, I bought all of it. But I was tired. And not thinking straight. And it will make the coolest . . . something.

Next, I will share all the great patterns and knits I saw, so check back! And if you went, what did you get that you can't wait to knit?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Baby's Got Back . . . And a New Shawl

So now that we have all purged the memories and visual aids from my last post, on to happier subjects. Like my Veste Everest. Which now consists of a back:

And the beginnings of a front:

I also did a little more finishing and finally got the ends woven in on my
Symmetrical Flying V Shawl. After a good dunk and a bit of blocking, it turned out wonderful--though not quite symmetrical because I ran short of yarn, but I can overlook that small problem. I hadn't been real pleased with it when it came off the needles, but sometimes, as it turns out, blocking can be your new BFF.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I don't know what to post

I started the week with a big bunch of enthusiasm for Vest-uary, starting my vest with a big smile, and then realizing I'd used the wrong sized needles. Well, rather than go through my four painful false starts over again, I finally got going on the back of my Veste Everest with the right gauge, the right number of stitches and the correct needles. One more repeat and I'll be at the bind off for the underarms. I feel really good about this.

I wished I felt the same about my Vine Lace Top Down Cardigan which I blocked this week. Wherein it turned into a disaster. I will not model it, so don't even ask, I look like a Boobah in it. I have no idea what happened, but I now believe I can drive my minivan through the neck opening. With. It. Buttoned.


Makes me look like this:

Huge sigh. It is still sort of wearable. In my office. With the door closed. The blinds down. And no deliveries expected from UPS. I just have to remember to take it off before I go flying out the door to pick up the kids. I don't want the minivan door sliding open at school and it setting off a stampede of elementary aged children screeching, "My eyes! My eyes!" Yes, it is that hideous.

I had hoped to wear it proudly to Madrona next weekend. I don't think so. I would probably get tossed out of the conference and banned for life from ever attending again. My knitting needles confiscated. My name blacklisted at all the local yarn shops and most of the prominent online shops.

Truly, I've resigned myself that some projects were just meant to hang in the closet and remind us that knitting is a craft. And there is always room to learn.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Vest-uary

I know it is Groundhog Day, but to all of us on the Vest-uary KAL over on Ravelry, it is Happy Vest-uary, for all of us knitting a vest this month. Just so you can be in the know, the correct response is, "And how is your vest going?"

Being really jazzed about this KAL (which I am not really much of a KAL person, try as I might) this one is heaven sent. I'd been planning on knitting a vest this month anyway, but not I have an excuse to hang out with a bunch of like-minded, sleeve-less happy co-knitters.

I had my pattern at the ready, (Veste Everest from the Fall 2005 issue of IK), spent Friday evening winding the yarn (some Aran Tweed I bought a while back from an Irish vendor on eBay), and getting everything lined up.

In my excitement yesterday morning, after greeting my bewildered house of men with a cheery and rousing, "Happy Vest-uary" (let's just face it, living with 3 boys--and I count the DH in that head count-- just doesn't make for a lot of knitterly celebration), I was reminded that Sunday was the SuperBowl and they got on with their plans for nachos and pizza. I, on the other hand, cast on, and began knitting, until I got to the line in the pattern that read, "switch to larger needles."

Switch to larger needles? Oh, bother. I'm already using the larger needles. So I frogged what I had done, searched for a pair of size 4s to cast on with, ended up sorting a bunch of needles, cleaning out my knitting basket, and finally about kick-off, got back to knitting. I'm hoping the rest of Vest-uary goes without any hiccups. How is your Vest-uary starting out?