We've been on vacation this week! We rented a house in Seabrook on the Washington coast, and the kids and grandkids joined us here for a week of last-of-the-summer fun. They're all here till Saturday, though I have to work this weekend so I'm headed home tomorrow.

We've had good food, lots of fun and games, and beach fun. Lewey just loves beach fun. He also loves sleeping.

And of course there has been knitting.

Everything I brought with me seems to be red.

What all is in that pile?

There is a pair of socks.

That is the sweater I started a few weeks ago. I'd be farther along if I hadn't screwed up and had to rip back about 3 inches.

There is Color Affection!

Last but not least, some spinning. This is a wool-silk blend that I have been working on forever. I think there were about 8 ounces of this in batt form, I have a few ounces left to spin.

I head home tomorrow, then “get” to spend the weekend working in the hospital. But it's my last few hospital shifts for the near future, I'll be 100% clinic based from now on, which is a good change for me.

I'm off to do some of that knitting!


Onion Soup

Well, we really didn’t have onion soup for dinner. I finished my dye project that I mentioned in the last post. Here’s the finished yarn:


This started as “commercial” natural colored yarn, from my Nature’s Cauldron natural dye CSA. The wool is 100% merino, grown at Mary Vega’s Ranch in California, and milled at Yolo Wool Mill. In all there are 600 yards of sport weight wool. I put “commercial” in quotes, since although this is mill spun yarn, it’s not exactly a big commercial yarn business.

That color is pretty true to real life. Want to know how I did that? I didn’t get any photos during the dye process, since it was just a big mess of boiling onion skins.

I’ve been saving yellow onion skins for over a year. We use a lot of onions in cooking. Every time I would get out an onion to chop, I pulled off the papery yellow skin and put it in a bowl. When the bowl got full, I started putting it in a big bag that I kept in the garage. Last weekend I finally used them. I shoved them all down into my huge stockpot that I use for dyeing, and covered with water. Then I brought it to a simmer and cooked it for a little over 2 hours. I let it sit for about another hour with the burner off, then pulled out the onion skins and strained the liquid.

Then in went the wool. I prepped this the weekend before, using an alum mordant to help the dye stick. The yarn went into the dye pot, brought to a slow simmer, and again left to simmer for a couple of hours, then I let it cool right in the dye pot. Rinse, dry, and there you go. Bob’s your uncle, I have this gorgeous pumpkin pie colored yarn that I never would have expected from a bag of onion skins. And it is surely one of a kind. I’ve seen photos of the results that people get from onion skins, and it’s anything from a much paler yellow to a deep bronze.

Here’s another one of my do-it-yourself projects. I didn’t dye this myself, but I did spin it.


The fiber was from Cupcake Fiber Company, it’s a superwash merino/nylon blend, about 6 ounces worth of fiber. This was spun up on my Marie wheel, it’s a 2-ply yarn, mostly a sport weight. There are about 460 yards there.

And just because I haven’t shown a picture of the wheel lately, here she is in my little spinning corner.


We’re off to the farmers’ market! Have a great Sunday!

Verrrryyy Interesting!

This new sweater has a very interesting construction. So far it doesn’t look much like a sweater.

Here’s a photo:


It’s just a big rectangle so far. Here’s another photo to show you how it’s put together.


That faint line down the middle shows where the original cast on starts. The stitches on the needles are the back and sleeves, just started. The top of the photo is the ribbing at the back and sides of the neck.

So you cast on along that line using a provisional cast on, then knit the right neckband and upper yoke, then put those stitches on a holder. Then you undo the provisional cast on and knit the other half of the neckband in the other direction. At some point you get to add in the front sections, though I can’t see it just yet. This is one of those patterns where you just have to have faith that it’s going to turn into a sweater someday.

I’m also doing some dyeing this weekend for the first time in a long time. No photos yet, but yesterday I prepped some yarn with an alum mordant. The dye pot is full of onion skins that I have saved up for months. The yarn is about to go in. I’ll show photos when it’s out and dry!


Sweater knitting requires careful swatching for gauge planning. Every single time that I skimp on this step or skip important parts, I end up ripping out four inches of sweater because it's either going to be too small or huge.

I knit a not-huge swatch, but big enough that I can get a good four inches of width to measure my average gauge. Remember, the gauge gods will lie to you and try to get you to talk yourself into mistakes.

“Oh, sure, I'll just knit for an inch or so, squint sideways, and it will work. If I just scrunch it together a bit, I can make that look like 22 stitches in 4 inches!”

Rip. Rip. Rip.

So here's my gauge swatch for my new sweater, unwashed and unblocked, with four inches marked off by the pins. 24 stitches. Drat.


But let's wash it and see what happens. Do this just like you would wash and block the real thing once it's done. Let it dry before you measure again (you're not going to wear it wet, are you?). Here you go.


22 stitches per inch. Just what the pattern calls for. Perfect. Even the row gauge matches up on this one.

As a reminder to myself, this swatch was knit with 3.5mm/US 4 needles.


Because I Can

Honest, I have been working on that big heavy wooly square sweater. But there is only so much heavy wool knitting I can handle in July. What's a knitter to do?

Of course, cast on something new! OK, I didn't really cast on, that's just the beginnings of a gauge swatch, but it counts.

It will be this eventually:


Doesn't that look like a wardrobe essential? The yarn is some ancient Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool from deep stash, in a lovely claret color.

In other news, I passed another Cold Sheep landmark on Monday.

120 days without buying ANY yarn!

I'm off to knit a few rows before my lunch break is over!


Sleeve Island

Next modification to the pattern. For some reason, the sleeves on this sweater use a rolled stockinette edging, which doesn’t make sense, since the body edging is ribbed. I hate rolled edges anyway, so I dragged out this old post with my mini-tutorial for a tubular cast on.

Please send me a rum drink. I have at least a gazillion miles of plain stocking stitch left. Cocktail umbrella optional.

Old Friend Sweater

Isn’t this what everybody does when the outside temperature threatens to hit the low 90′s? Whatever, it’s only 68 here so far this morning, so if I want to knit a heavy wool sweater, that’s what I’ll do.

I finished the front piece this morning. (The back is under the front in that photo.) I’m sure you’ve all forgotten what this is, but it’s Peace Fleece wool, pattern is Old Friend, which is basically a boxy shapeless square sweater. My modifications so far have been to use a tubular cast on for the ribbing, and I did short row shaping for the shoulders.

On to the sleeves. We’ll see how far I get today before I pass out from wool fumes and the heat.

And yes, this is yet another project that will be for John. If it seems like he’s getting a lot of knitting love lately, he deserves it. This is also on the agenda today.

Baby back ribs, done as only a good southern boy does them. They are being prepped with a dry rub, then they will get a long cooking in the smoker.

*And no, I have no idea why there are boxes of nuts and bolts on my dining room table. Who knows.


Blue Socks!


Project Details:

Pattern: My own sock pattern. Cuff down, picot top, flap and gusset heel. Knit on 72 stitches aroundYarn: Flying Sock 100% BFL wool, Deep Ocean. Really nice “cushy” yarn.Needles: 2.00 mm Knitters Pride double points.Started: October 16, 2013Finished: July 10th, 2014For: Supposed to be for me, ergo the picot tops. They are a little big on me, so we’re negotiating. John may get them.

What I Learned: They’re just socks. I still love plain vanilla socks.

And that’s the yarn I had left.

The Oldest Living Knitting Project Known To Man!


Dog Mittens!

And here they are!






Project Details:

Pattern: Dog Mittens by Jorid Linvik
Yarn: Rauma Finullgarn, 1 skein dark navy, and 1 skein cream. Very nice yarn for stranded knitting. It’s not the smoothest shiniest stuff on the block, but it sticks together nicely, colors don’t bleed, and it blocks beautifully. This is where I got it, I think. There are many fine colors to choose from. It’s not the least expensive yarn of this type you can buy, but it’s great quality. The yarn was consistent, there wasn’t a single knot or thin spot. It’s firmly enough spun that I don’t think pilling will be much of a problem.
Needles: 2.75 mm KnitPicks double points
Started: December 5, 2008
Finished: July 4th, 2014
For: John!

What I Learned: It really shouldn’t take so long to knit a pair of mittens. These were a heap of fun to knit, and once I loaded the charts into Knit Companion, it was a lot easier to keep track of where I was. I learned that it makes a difference which hand you hold which color in two color knitting. I also learned gradually to keep my “floats” in the back looser so things don’t get bunched up. I also found out that if it takes you nearly six years to knit a stinking pair of mittens, your gauge is likely going to change from one mitten to the next one. Blocking fixed that just fine.

Verdict: I love them, John loves them. They are already stashed in his drawer, ready for the next cold spell.*

*Winter is Coming–

I Think I Can—

Here’s the sock in progress. I’ve been a bit worried that I’m going to run out of yarn on the second toe.


I weighed the yarn an inch ago.

21.8 grams left.

I knit another inch.


That one’s tough to see. 18.9 grams left. So roughly 3 grams of sock yarn per inch.


4 inches of sock left. So I should need 12 grams of yarn at most, but definitely less taking toe decreases into account. Unless my measurements are off, which certainly happens with sock feet. You measure it, you have 4 inches left to knit. Knit, knit, knit. Inches of knitting later, you measure it, and you have 4 inches left to knit.

I do have a back up plan involving a deep deep green and 1 or 2 row stripes to eke out the yarn if need be. We’ll see. My current plan involves knitting like a maniac because we all know that makes the yarn go farther.

Color Theory

I ran across this post yesterday. It’s a blog post by Jared Flood talking about color choices. This made me think a bit about my Color Affection shawl.

Jared talks in his blog about hue, or color, and value as the two important concepts to look at when choosing several colors that will go together in a project. Obviously the colors that you choose are important, they need to “go” together in some fashion that is pleasing.

The value concept was newer to me. If your colors are all great choices, but their values are too similar, your finished piece might be a muddy mess instead of having the colors pop out individually. Jared recommends using your digital photo application to convert a color photo to greyscale to illustrate this and to test your choices.

Here are my colors for my current Color Affection.

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 3.43.05 PM
And what that looks like knitted up so far.


Here are the same photos adjusted in Lightroom to black and white.

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 3.43.05 PM-2


Not bad, but there could have been a little more difference between the two lighter values. With stripes, I think it’s OK, but with a complex stitch pattern, those two light colors would just blur together.

Here’s the other color scheme I had contemplated for this shawl.

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 3.44.02 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 3.44.02 PM-2

I don’t think that would work as well. And it definitely wouldn’t work in something like the yoke of an Icelandic sweater.

What do you all think? Is this something you’ve run into in your knitting? And do go read Jared’s post, and the follow up post that goes into much more detail.

I Married A Sweetheart!

I had to work the whole holiday weekend, so my sweetie offered to make me breakfast this AM. Bacon, scrambled eggs and homemade hashbrowns.

Of course it didn’t hurt that I finished his MITTENS! Did I mention that already? Here they are on the blocking board.
Why is only one of them pinned down, you might ask? These took so freaking long to knit that my gauge changed, and the one on the left is just a bit bigger, so I stretched the other one a bit to match. Wool is a lovely thing.

And the Finished Bacon project: