Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tuesday-What an Awful Day

This was really a BAD DAY. There is no other way to say it. So far I haven't written much personal on this blog but right now I don't care. I feel a need to vent but I won't go on too long. The day started with a mean email from a mean woman. Someone really kind of evil if you ask me. It was very personally attacking and its a long story I won't go into, but this sort of set the tone for the day. All day I was thinking about why are some people just plain mean and not nice people? And why are some people so incredibly self centered? This got me thinking of my recent man friend. I won't go into detail but lets say I won't get the nice Valentine this year that I got last year, I am sure of it. I have really been sad today, totally in a huge funk, the blues, bummed out, depressed.

This afternoon, I laid on the sofa and knit row after row after row of a scarf I am making for my mom. It is a very funky, cool scarf of two yarns put together in black and white. Simple, simple, mindless knitting, back and forth. And I cried my eyes out (Oh I also got my period today and wow, a really bad one, cramps and all). So I cried and knitted, cried and knitted, and now I feel a bit better I guess.

I can always erase this later if I change my mind! (LOL). A huge box arrived from Knitpicks today (YEAH) and I can start back working on my wrap sweater. I do have one photo to show (I also posted this on my new KAL blog Year of the Sweater if you want to peak. I love how the Knit Picks Andean Silk knits up. It is very soft but with a subtle sheen to it and I love this cinammon color. I am glad I can wear these earth colors and they look good on me too.........I am going to finish the neck part of it tonight if I can figure it out and then I think I will do the sleeves next for fun.

I hope I sleep tonight..

Monday, January 30, 2006

Gorgeous Valentines Yarn

I wasn't sure how this would turn out but I love it! I used this photo of another one of my favorite flowers (aren't they all my favorites?) called Fuschias. When I was little, our neighbors next to us had tons of these plants in their yard and I used to just stare at them because the color intensity is so beautiful.

This yarn would make a pretty scarf, hat or even a sweater. It is also a very soft, worsted weight merino wool. One of these days I am going to sell all these on line but for now I am just playing and experimenting with color. A friend and I are going to open a tiny shop on the web site called Etsy.com where people sell handcrafted items. We are working on the shop and building up a little inventory. Here is a link to our shop Yarn Botanika but there is nothing for sale yet. I am so far making two skeins of each colorway so if someone buys them eventually, they really could make something bigger with them. My favorite type of knitting for these variegated yarns is Modular Knitting without a doubt. Check out the book Modular Knits or the yahoo group for ideas. My other favorite book Exquisite Little Knits also has some great projects in it using handpainted yarns with modular techniques. I just ordered a ton of sock yarn to hand paint. I better get to work on making the socks that I am trying to knit. I bought some pretty striped Regia sock yarn at Jessica Knits last week, our local store.

Here is a photo of the yarn that I am calling Summer Fuschias, a great Valentines Day yarn.! Isn't it just gorgeous! In this case, I also love how it looked before it was reskeined. I am going to show you photos of it before and after (below). But I have heard that when it is reskeined, it does give you a much more realistic idea of how the yarn looks when it is knitted up which is important to someone buying it.

Here is a really cute scarf, The Besotted Scarf, that would be so cute with this yarn. I had started this scarf for my besotted, but since I am not too besotted anymore, well....that is a long story..........

In other news, we have six people so far for my sweater KAL. Won't you join us? You only have to make one finished top over the whole year!! It is fun. I am out of yarn now for my sweater and for dyeing and I am anxiously waiting for the UPS guy to show up! Where is he???!!!


Friday, January 27, 2006

Year of the Sweater KAL

I think maybe I am taking on too much but oh well! I decided to start a KAL called Year of the Sweater. I hope you'll please go read about it and JOIN ME!! I am working on my first "real" completed full sweater and sometimes I feel alone with it! Am I using the right yarn substitution? How do I do this part in the pattern? Etc, Etc, Etc. There must be more people out there like me at this step!

I did finish Picovoli as part of the Sexy Knitters Club. It was very fun to knit, but it turned out too big! So I may reknit it, we'll see. In the meantime I am still working on my DROPS wrap sweater.

If you want to join this KAL and I hope you do, come take a look:



Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Colorway- Golden Orchid

I love love love how this colorway turned out. I took this photo last year in the Pacific Northwest, I think in Seattle, but I am not sure. I love orchids and they come in such beautiful colors. Orchids are definitely one of my favorite flowers and they do not grow well in Arizona. They need more moisture and humidity. I was going to use this close up shot (which is cropped) to paint a watercolor of. One of my favorite types of watercolor paintings are called "macro" flower paintings which are close-ups like this. Well...I decided instead to try to use the colors in hand painting a new yarn. This colorway is a keeper, next time a little heavier on the gold I think but we'll see......I did mix some custom colors for this and and one thing about handpainted yarn, no two skeins are ever exactly identical.
Here is the macro photo:

Now for the benefit of friends Roxanne and Kathy, here are first two photos of yarn done after dyeing (without reskeining). You can see how the colors are more separate. But oh so beautiful soft and fluffy and yummy 100% merino:

Now, here is a photo of the yarn re-skeined. Which do you think looks better? I am trying to decide.

In this last photo, you can also see the new tag that I did for all the handpainted yarns and roving. I think this yarn would make a very pretty summer shawl or hat. It is amazing how many colors their are and how different people are drawn to different ones. I think I need to do some research into this topic..........The emotional aspects of color. I have another really pretty colorway coming in the next few days, also scrumptious and different!


Monday, January 23, 2006

Spinning Last Thursday!

I have to write about spinning day! Last Thursday, Kathy and her puppy Cupcake came over for a visit and spinning. Cupcake is quite a little dog! My boys loved her. At first, there was a lot of noise and I never thought they would mellow out but they did! Cupcake even learned to swim! She ran around the backyard and dove a perfect swandive into the pool (without knowing what she was doing, I might add!!). It was funny beyond words, except of course that she had been all beautifully groomed beforehand. Oh well. She still managed to spend the rest of the day laying in front of the mirror admiring herself. And hiding from Bailie and Pepe. Here is a photo of Ms Cuppy.

Kathy spent most of the day on my new wheel. Did I even touch it?? (LOL) But it was fun and I learned a lot. Here is a photo of her spinning and then one of the bobbin up close! Can you see Cupcake staring at herself in the mirror behind Kathy? That is what she did all day!! Now I need to practice, practice, practice, and I have some kind of fear around this I don't understand. She also brought me a saw to use for cutting notches in the spindles I am making. I have to finish these spindles this week!

Here's a photo of the Moody Blues roving after it was dyed and then all spun up. SIGH SIGH SIGH. It is SO PRETTY and SO SOFT. After plying, there is only about 20 plus yards and I want more!!! I have to make something of this. I read in the recent New York Times article on spinning that most spinners don't even use their yarn! That is not going to be me! I will use it, sell it or give it away! Of course some will be beautifully presented around the house as works of art but away from Bailie!

Happy Monday!


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Yarn Substitution Confusion!!

Well...as I have posted earlier, my next project is going to be an entire sweater so I can learn how to sew in the arms and how to seam. I ordered these two wonderful DROPS pattern books from a lovely woman named Evelyn at her on-line shop Niddy Noddy. There are also many free patterns on their website here in English!

Then I obsessed over which sweater to make and I had several I have put up on here recently. I decided after much obsession that I should try to use some of the yarn in my growing stash. I found five balls of this beautiful cinnamon colored Andean Silk from Knitpicks so I tried to find a pattern in my DROPS book that would work for this.

I think this one will but I am not 100% confident for some reason:

I knit a gauge swatch and had to go down one needle size. I did get the stitches per inch correct but the rows per inch come up a bit short. Yet when I read the whole pattern, it is written by knitting in cm for the length. You don't count rows. So...I hope it will work. The yarn shown is a heavy cotton but all of their patterns say you can substitute and they have a nice Alpaca yarn too. Andean twist is a beautifully soft blend of Alpaca, Silk and Merino Wool.

Wish me luck with this. I love these wrap sweaters with the belts and I like the collar! I just hope I am counting the stitches per inch right. I have one of those little guage tools and I don't know why but everytime I count it, I get a different count!! I just know it is my eyes and I need new glasses.

I am happy also that for now I could use the yarn in my stash (I do have to buy more of it) The Garnstudio yarns are BEAUTIFUL but would cost me quite a bit more. I do want to try them though for my next project.

If you haven't looked at the DROPS patterns, DO LOOK! They really are adorable. I bought pattern books 88 and 89 and I really could make every single thing in each of them.

Happy Knitting!


Friday, January 20, 2006

Dyeing Day!

I have so much to post about. Kathy and I had quite a spinning day yesterday but that is a whole post in itself I will do over the weekend. Otherwise this will be way too long.

I did some dyeing this week. I had this brilliant idea of trying to pick colorways for my yarns that were based on flowers and plants. I still will do that because I like it. On the other hand, I also like just picking out any colors I like together. Anyhow, a friend of mine Monica from Santa Monica was just recently in New Zealand on her honeymoon. Monica does not have a blog or I would link to it. I wish she did and I have been encouraging her because her and her new hubby are great photographers and world travelers. Anyhow, she sent me these photos of the most beautiful Lupine Flowers (Lupinus perennis)that I have ever seen in my life. They even have some medicinal properties if you open up the link. Anyhow, here are two photos of the Lupine fields:

I decided to dye some yarn and roving in the Lupine colorway. I used three different shades of purple, magenta and two greens. At first, I have to say I didn't like it. But once I reskeined the yarn, I thought it was very pretty. It is not quite as bright as it seems in the photos.

No Monica, this is not the present I am working on for your birthday that I have mentioned. That is still a big surprise!

More on spinning day soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Friday!


Thursday, January 19, 2006

OH NO, I got tagged!

This is the first time this has happened to me? And I am not sure exactly how it works but since I was reading my new friend Tina in Sweden's Blog Wooltopia I noticed she tagged me, so I guess this means that I must answer these questions! Hey, the one thing I love about this blogging so far is I have come across some interesting people all over the world and I really like that!

I guess I'll have to play along too and so I just answer these questions? OK

Four Jobs You Have Had In Your Life:

Private Chef
Telemarketer for a Cemetary (Honest, this was a 1 month assignment in college for a temp agency!)

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

The Lion King (yes it is true!)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Love Jack N)
Dr. Zhivago
Gone With The Wind (yes can still watch it)
Love Actually
Harvey (OK, I listed more than four!!)

Four Places You Have Lived:
(I am going to list all)

Detroit, Michigan
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Toledo, Ohio (Triple UCK on this one)
Madison, Wisconsin
Boston, Massachusetts
Scottsdale, Arizona

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch:

Law and Order (especially SVU)
Seinfeld reruns

Four Places You Have Been On Vacation:

Oslo, Norway
St Kitts and Nevis
Toronto, CA

Four Websites You Visit Daily:

Knitters Review
Yahoo groups

Four Of Your Favorite Foods:

Middle Eastern
Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup IceCream

Four Bloggers You Are Tagging (Hope You Guys See This and Aren't Annoyed):

Teacozy Jezebel (what is your real name??

I did it!

OH, going to have some spinning practice today with Kathy. I should be able to take some photos and also some of the dyeing I did yesterday! Finished Picovoli but have to do a lot to it still! It fits!! But its a bit big which surprised me!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Projects!

Hi friends,

I am almost finished with the Picovoli as part of the Sexy Knitters KAL. I hope it fits when I am done!!! I only have about 30 more rows!! I am still working on two scarves..one made of Eros and one for my mom in black and white (two yarns together). But, I still have to pick a sweater for my next major project. I start an intermediate knitting class in February and want to knit a little more complicated project for that. These are the two sweaters I am trying to decide between (both from DROPS design in Norway):

Part of the problem is that it is a bit difficult to obtain all the yarns needed for this. Which one do you like the most??

I have some new skeins of undyed yarn to dye this week and another 2 pounds or so of roving to dye.AND, I have to practice my spinning! That will be fun.

I am also learning how to make drop spindles this week from my friend Kathy and I am going to be handpainting them and making up spindle kits for gifts and also to eventually maybe sell on the little site I am creating. This brings me to tell you that I am changing my blog name to YarnBotanika. You can find that blog HERE so please change your bookmarks if you have me marked or on your blogline list. I picked Yarn Botanika because I thought long and hard about different names for the handspun and hand dyed yarns that I create and I like this one the most. So that will be the name of my web page too whenever I get it finished. I hope to be able to sell just enough of what I create to help pay for some supplies. I have a few other ideas of some things I also want to make for the site that I am working on. I might try to use the skills I learned in jewelry class to make some wire wrapped stitch markers and knitting needles. I just have to find a source for plain wood needles preferably in birch or rosewood. I have a huge collection of beads and small gems that I bought at the Gem Show in Tucson and so I can use these. I have lots of great ideas in my mind, but we'll see if I have the energy to carry them out!!!

Anyhow, please change your bookmarks and/or bloglines listing to YarnBotanika. I am in the process of transferring all of the posts and links. I hope you like the name!! You should hear the ones my nephew Adam came put with. He heard me talking about Alpacas so he wanted me to call the yarn Filebertos Alpacas!!??! Where he got that from, I haven't a clue!!!


Friday, January 13, 2006

Look What I bought!

I admit, I feel very guilty about this purchase! Especially since my house needs painting and remodeling badly, and I have tons of medical expenses and bills. I am tempted to call this physical therapy and to deduct it on my taxes!!! It sure is excellent therapy for the mind and soul!! Plus, I bought it at the once a year Fiber Factory sale. When I arrived at the Fiber Factory, there were literally 100 people in line! I was very lucky to be the first one to put my hands on the one and only beautiful double treadle Lendrum in stock and I bought it for 35% off!! So even though I feel guilty, I think it was worth it.

Here are some photos of my beautiful new friend Lucky, the Lendrum. Isn't she beautiful?!?!?! She comes from Canada and is made of solid maple. I had a private spinning class this week and now I am ready to go!!!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Lots and Lots of Fiber Dyeing!

Hi all,
I have done a lot of dyeing this past week using several methods and materials. This is one long post with lots of photos!! First, here is some wool yarn that I dyed using Wilton Colorings. I was very surprised at the intensity of the colors. These dyes are used for cake icing coloring. They come as a gel inside little pots. I mixed a tiny bit of each dye with about a cup of water and a glug of vinegar for the acid. Then I painted it on sections of the yarn and cooked it in the crockpot for a few hours. I called this one Blue Moon. Look at all the colors!! It is very beautiful. These are also completely safe to use in a home kitchen which is a nice feature.

My second project was dying some undyed yarn that I bought from Ebay. This is a 100% Merino worsted weight yarn that I wanted to use to make a Poncho from the Modular Knits book. This yarn was all a natural off white color when it arrived. I saw a beautiful yarn that had shades of pumpkin, tan and browns online and I thought I would try those colors. I used Prochem acid dyes for this. This was much tougher and to be honest I hated how it turned out at first. One of the strands dyes completely different (darker in a twist) than the other. When it was drying in my bathroom, I truly hated it and wanted to throw it out. The colors all ran together, it didn't look variegated and i just didn't like it. But once it dried and I re-skeined it and then started knitting with it, I really am loving it. It is very soft and warm and actually has many subtle color variations of vanilla, tan, maple sugar, mocha, pumpkin and a lighter melon orange. I called this one Butternut Twist because it has a twist going through the yarn that in this case is dyed either a mocha brown or pumpkin orange. The twist part noticably takes up more yarn and is much darker. I wrapped this yarn in plastic wrap after hand painting it, and then set it in the over overnight at 180 degrees.

This weekend I dyed some very soft Falkland wool roving with great success!! I tried two methods and both worked equally well. One method was much easier than the other. I soaked the wool in an acid solution (using citric acid) and synthrapol. I used acid dyes (the ones from prochem) and I mixed them ahead of time VERY VERY carefully with a protection mask on and gloves.

The first batch I simply put in a large turkey roaster pain in the oven. I squirted five different blues randomly over the roving. I used a cover on the pot, but I did not use plastic to roll them up in. This was am easy technique! They stayed in the oven at 350 for about 35 minutes and then sat at 180 for two hours. I let them cool before putting them in the sink. Once cool, I soaked them twice in some clean water mixed with a little dishsoap. I basically used the instructions from this web
site: Hello Yarn.
Here is a photo of the roving in the turkey roaster and then soaking in the sink.

For the other batch, I put a few pieces of roving at a time on some plastic wrap, squirted the blues on and let it sit for a bit. Then I rolled it up in plastic and put this in the crockpot. I had three bundles like this in my crockpot. In the crockpot, I put a few cups of water first under a cheap metal vegetable steamer. I set the crockpot on high and left it for about an hour. It did get very hot and the packages also got very hot. I then turned it to the lower heat for another two hours. This worked PERFECTLY as well. Both sets of roving really turned out identical only skipping the rolling in plastic part was MUCH easier...

I think in a situation where I really want to keep the colors more separate, the plastic wrap is important. Otherwise, I will continue to use this oven method because it was so incredibly easy...... Here are the final photos of the roving in the crockpot and then drying in my bathroom and finally braided into pretty braids. I called it Moody Blues because that is just what came to my mind! I can't wait to see what this looks like all spun!

Hope you enjoyed seeing these posts and the dyeing I did. I posted about this also on the yahoo dyeing list I am on. Thanks to everyone there for all your help!


Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Ladder Shawl-The Yummy Drop Stitch

The photos really do not do this shawl justice! I need to get some close up photos of the drop stitch pattern and some of a model (me?) wearing it. It is so beautiful! First of all the yarn is incredible. It is a thick and thin hand dyed cotton.

It is called Patagonia Natures Cotton, made by a company called Araucania It is very very soft and has a beautiful texture and the colors are various shades of light greens. I just love it. Wish I had some better photos.

The other project I finished recently which I love is the Multidirectional Scarf from the book Modular Knits. I LOVE modular knitting and just about every project in this book. I highly recommend it and the Multidirectional Knitting yahoo group. I am about to start an unusual poncho in some merino yarn that I handdyed myself and it will be woven with some silk ribbon. It should be truly unique. I used this great ArtYarns yarn in black and white and gray. This supermerino yarn is SO soft it is incredible. It is hard to even believe it is wool. This is another one where the picture doesn't do it justice. But I felt I had to put these up on the blog and also in my 2006 gallery. This scarf is beautiful and goes with a lot of different things.

I have a TON of new photos of other things to post in the next few days. I have a few new dyeing projects and a brand new beautiful "toy" that I bought today. Photos soon.......


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

This is Scary!

I took this test called What Is Your Sex Appeal? And this was the answer! LOL! Well I admit, I like the shoes very much!!
Wow!!! Go ahead, take the test too, I want to see your result!!!

What is your sexual appeal?

brought to you by Quizilla

Some New Years Resolutions

It has been quite a few years since I made some New Years resolutions so I think I will work on those a bit here in my blog. Some of them are definitely fiber related, so its appropriate. Some are a bit boring, typical and mundane but oh well, that is part of life.

1. I know everyone starts the New Year with their health and weight loss resolutions, but UGH I got on the scale today at my doctors office and OUCH, I have gained about 10 pounds since the beginning of December. That is what happens when I allow myself to eat all of the sweets and carbs I desire!! So the biggest resolution is yes, I really want to lose about 30-40 pounds and then keep it off once and for all.

2. Along that same vein, my other goal and resolution is to exercise regularly. I feel so much better when I do this, then why do I stop? It doesn't make sense that I stop every time. It helps my mood, pain levels, everything etc!

3. So this weekend I am going to sit down and make an excel goal spreadsheet with exercise plans every day for 8 weeks along with my usual fat flush diet which works so well for me. I always feel like a million bucks when I am doing this and I have to try to remember that!!

4. On a fiber note, my goal is to clean out my spare office for an office and fiber/art studio. I need to go through the closet and get rid of a bunch of old papers and then organize it for storage. It is HUGE so I am lucky. Then I need to get the room painted and a new desk with a very long table on the side. I'd like to rip out th carpeting and have hard wood floors but that will have to wait a bit.

5. I also want to clean out my garage and have it be more organized.

6. I want to buy my Lendrum DT spinning wheel that I have been saving up. I hope I can do this soon!

7. I want to take at least one weekend painting or fiber arts workshop somewhere beautiful this year (hopefully somewhere with trees and water and blue skies).

8. I want to exercise the dogs more outside, to take them to the dog park. They are so adorable, my loyal and sweet companions. They deserve this. I would be so lonely without their company every night. Bailie always wants to play ball, constantly. I wake up in a bed of balls every morning. Bailie is going to be 10 on January 13th and I can't believe it. Here is his photo. I have posted it before but I still like to put it here again so I can look at it as I am so grateful to have little bailieboy in my life. Boy have we gone through a lot together the past ten years! He still acts like a puppy. He was sick all night and i couldn't figure out why until I discovered that he had eaten some brillo pads he snuck when I turned my back for one second! Thank God he threw them up. He is such a theif! Happy birthday to my best pal. I LOVE you Bailieboy!!

This will remind me that my number one resolution is to be happy and grateful for all I do have in life, including my special pets.

9. I want to knit TWO complete sweaters with sleeves and all by the end of this year. I am in love with these DROPS pattern booklets from Norway and I think I will order two tonight to pick out two sweaters. Here are a few of the sweaters that I am trying to decide among. I am going to order this pattern book right now!! Definitely I will make at least two of these from the DROPS pattern books. I love the look of these:

10. I am going to continue learning about dyeing fiber and yarn and work towards someday having some type of online fiber business. Even if it is only selling some of my handspun and handpainted yarns a little bit enough to pay for my supplies, that would make me very happy!

11. I am going to start a handspindle collection and continue spinning on these. My goal is to learn also how to spin some more difficult fibers like cotton and merino. I also want to learn how to make spindles like my friend Kathy makes, who taught me how to spin. But, I want to hand paint these in various colors and make up spindle kits to give to friends for presents.

12. I am going to try to paint at least once a week still focusing on nature and color as my muses.

13. On a personal note, my goals are to work on being calmer, nonjudgemental, and not as reactive to situations and people around me

14. A yes, my last goal is to finish my Audiology doctorate and I only have until the end of April and then yippppeeeeeeee I am done. That will be a relief.

WHEW!!!!!!!!!That's all I can think of for now. If I can do all of this in 2006, I will be very glad.......And if I can't, oh well...I will still be happy.

Back to eating all the sweets and carbs I can until MONDAY and then I start the strict detox routine! I CAN DO IT. I CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Kool-Aid Dyeing

I am anxiously awaiting a package in the mail from a company called Pro-Chem in Massachusetts. It is filled with acid dyes for wool and other protein fibers in a multitude of colors plus some other supplies for dyeing. In the next few weeks, I am going to practice handpainting roving (this is spinning fiber) and undyed yarn both! I can't wait!

In the meantime, I have been playing around with kool aid and my new crockpot that I bought at Walmart for only twenty dollars! AND IT IS HUGE! I love how my kool aid yarn turned out, but...I still think the acid dyes will be more intense and reproducible, although I am keeping a record of every dyeing projects (e.g. in this case which kool aid dyes were used!). The house also smelled fantastic! A real nice sweet smell. Much more pleasant than normal dyes mingling with the smell of hot wool and vinegar!

I used some undyed Fishermans Wool yarn from my stash for this project. Here are some photos of the yarn on the skein, then in the crockpot. One of the skeins hanging to dry and a few of the beautiful skeins themselves in all of their colorful glory! I used a combination approach of both mixing the kool aid packets in a little water and also putting the powder straight onto the yarn where I wanted dark areas. For this batch, I used Mango, Jamaican Punch, Cherry, Orange and Lemon!! It is very pretty. What do you think???? My real goal of course is to handspin each batch of yarn that I dye but I can only do so much at one time!!! Oh...also I left the crockpot on for about three hours. It did get pretty hot and I had to turn it down so it wouldn't boil and felt the yarn. The yarn absorbed every bit of dye and the water left in the pot was clear!

Happy New Year! Lisa