Bon Voyage!

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Sweetpea has her passport ready and so do I! We leave in a couple of hours for our great adventure. We’re spending a little more than half of the two weeks on the Normandy and Brittany coasts, then several days in Paris before we come back home.

And as always, the house and vast yarn stash are well guarded by a crack team of house sitters, led by Lewey the Fearless Wonder Corgi, so don’t even think of showing up to sniff around the wool.

Depending on wireless access, I’ll post along the way!

Happy Birthday To Me!

 

 

Pretty, eh?

It's another Golding Ring Spindle to join my little spindle flock, just in time for my birthday this weekend. I have had a bit of a tough week or two at work, so coming home tonight to find this little bit of loveliness was very sweet. The fiber is a braid of very Pepto Pink wool from Barrister Lane Fiber, just labeled as 100% wool.

Here's one more, just because I can:

 

Ten On Tuesday, the Cars Edition

I don’t usually do the Ten on Tuesday post, mostly because by the time I get around to it, it’s already Friday and I’ve missed it. I couldn’t resist this one though. Carole wants us to list ten cars that we’ve owned. I won’t get to ten, only because I haven’t had that many!

I’m going to do this in reverse chronologic order. And the current ones are the only ones I have photos of.

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10. This is technically John’s car, though my name is on the registration too, so it counts. It’s a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. It is dog-approved.

9. My ride.

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That last one is the current license plate! This is a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle. Yes, I drive a ’98. It won’t quit, so I keep driving it. As it gets more dinged up, I just get more hippie stickers to cover the bumps and bruises.

8. An ancient Volvo sedan that was mostly John’s car, but I owned half of it. He got it used and drove it until it was almost dead.

7. Early 90′s Subaru Legacy wagon. It replaced–

6. Another Subaru wagon. This was about a 1982 model. I drove it until it dropped dead one day in the parking lot at work. It was towed in, they gave me $150 in trade in, mostly because the tires were still good.

5. Let’s see. Brief co-ownership of a Toyota Celica in the early 80′s. We only had it a couple of years, it was pretty but didn’t handle Montana winters very well.

4. Another VW Beetle, co-owned with my then-spouse. It was a 74 Love Bug, in a color that we lovingly called eagle-shit green. This one got rode hard, and finally totaled in a crash.

 

That’s it. That’s pretty pitiful. I can’t even get to ten, and most of those technically belonged/belong to spouses. I drove two Subarus into the ground, and I’m working on that VW. I’m thinking my next car might be another Subaru.

Stuff That Makes Me Happy

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It’s Game Day! Lewey is ready!

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That one is just because Lewey really makes me happy!

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I have a new pencil sharpener in my office at work! It’s bright red. That makes me happy, too.

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My sister-in-law was here to visit. We went to see Mt. St. Helens. I’m really really happy it didn’t blow up while we were there.

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There’s been some cooking around here. We had about a million tomatoes that all went ripe at once, so I made tomato sauce to freeze. This will make me very happy in a month or two when all we have is canned tomatoes.

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Dinner last night made us both very happy. Lamb chops, potato tortilla from CSA potatoes, and CSA veggie ratatouille. Oh yeah, and wine. Happy, happy, happy.

180 days

To those of you who snickered when I said I wasn’t buying any yarn for a while, this makes me deliriously happy.

Last but not least, knitting. I got tired of all the red knitting around here. This is in honor of Start Something Sunday.

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Yes, I know I still haven’t finished the last pair of socks. I might just start two or three more pairs, too, just because it makes me happy.

 

Red!

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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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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!

Swatch

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!

Finished!

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!

AKA,

Dog Mittens!

And here they are!

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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–