Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I have a hat!

After the 50+ hats that I've knit for others, I finally knit one for myself.

It was intended to be special, contain elements that are meaningful to me, and above all, to be beautiful.

My family ancestry is Heinz-57, but mostly British Islander, particularly Welsh, Scots and Irish. I've always been drawn to Celtic knotwork and knew that I wanted that in my hat. I also was born in the Celtic month of Beithe (Birch) and thought I'd include leaves, as well.

I used the BFL/Tussah in the Viva OtoƱo that I
spun, after removing it from the inventory at Oregon Flock and the gray Corriedale/BFL X yarn that I spun while at Oregon Flock and Fiber. Since the BFL/Tussah was a gray based fiber, it looked best with the gray background. I tried it against black and brown and neither worked.
 The color is much brighter in real life...

I also wanted to keep the "yurt" style going, but instead of inserted I-cord, I did cables, knit along in the fabric (not inserted).

 When I started it, I used the two color cast on, but forgot to purl the first row, so the bottom curled. ARGH!! I went back and picked up the purl bumps on the cast-on edge, and did an I-cord bind off, which fixed that - Yay!
Knotwork pattern from "Charted Celtic Designs" by Co Spinhoven

Birch Leaves - adapted design
I'm pretty pleased with it. I particularly like the way the colors progress upward through the knitting.

It covers my ears easily, and is warm! Just in time for winter!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trip to the big city, and I was a cowgirl pole dancer

It's been awhile since I posted - not because nothing was going on, however.

I did an order for new dyes from Dharma in preparation for the Portland Handweaver's Guild Fall Sale, which was this weekend. I got some additional fiber porn from Mim, and ordered some yarn from Henry's attic to round out what was left after Oregon Flock and Fiber.

Because I had a dye space out of the weather in the shed, when I mixed up dyes last Saturday, I just left them in there. When I went out Sunday, the brilliant blue had congealed into a granular sludge with dark navy blue water. I called Dharma on Monday, and they said to warm it up. Since I had already tried to reclaim it by running it through a sieve, I decided not to try that. I did use that method on the only other one that seemed to be going that way by putting it in my canner on the rack and boiling water around it (it worked).

I proceeded to dye as normal and found the the colors in the Dharma dyes are enough different from the Jaquard that I was not completely satisfied with the dyes that I was mixing. They were nice colors, don't get me wrong, just not what I was used to getting when I put x amount of dye A with y amount of dye B. I needed the bright blue, so I used my old dye powder, which worked just fine, thank you... Hmmmm

Dyeing done, tagging done (the roving took me 5 hours at Linda's on Thursday morning), we set up our spaces Thursday night and Friday morning before the sale. I did not have a "booth" - I had 4 gridwall sections set up around a support column - the "pole." At first it seemed that it would be extremely challenging, and it didn't help that I set up the grids backwards so that the hangers wouldn't work... Sometimes I amaze even myself with my ineptitude! When I took them apart, I was able to substitute my short ones for taller ones that I rented from the guild, which worked out very nicely:

 So my wares were placed around the pole (I used black plastic table cloth material that comes in a 100' roll for the backing). I adjusted some of the overhead lights, and that was it. The sale has a central checkout, so there was no need to have a table for the administrative stuff. I had brought some knitting, but I quickly became bored with that.  I was talking with one of the other members (they are all very nice and were very welcoming) about it being difficult for me to sit still, and she offered to bring in her spinning wheel. I got permission to use it (normally it isn't done), after explaining that most people thought the roving "snails" were a) hats, or b) hot pads/trivets.  I spent a lot of time spinning yesterday, and then when that paled, started a hat for myself!

So, why was I the cowgirl pole dancer? Last week I was at the local consignment clothing store, and as I checked out, saw some snazzy boots on the bookcase next to the register. Now, it is difficult for me to wear pull-on boots, as I have high insteps and "womanly" calves. So, thinking that it was safe to try to get them on, I tried. And they fit... So, I got them - my middle name should be Imelda! It wasn't until I got them home that I discovered that they are Tony Lama boots - and they've hardly been worn. I wore them Saturday:

I'm an introvert - not in terms of dealing with people, but in terms of how I replenish my energy. By this morning, I was completely dead. That, coupled with the prospect of a snow storm blowing down the Cascades from the north, lead me to leave the sale today early. I put my stuff in order, and Linda graciously offered to take my "pole" down in addition to her booth.

I plied the yarn that I had spun yesterday, and when washing it, discovered another downside to the Dharma dyes. I was spinning a mostly blues roving, and it had taken quite a bit of rinsing when I was done dyeing it.  There was no crocking off on my fingers while spinning - however, there was much more dye that ran out of it when I washed it after plying. I'm not sure that I've gotten all of it out even now.

I'm going to call them tomorrow to see if I can return them. I'm going to stick with my "old" dyes - I think they'll work fine, especially now that the dye solutions are stored in the house, along with the powders. I can make adjustments as I need to with them, since I'm so familiar with how they work. I guess it just proves the old saw - If it's not broke, don't fix it...

I'm now looking forward to more dyeing (with a little less pressure), for some weaving projects I have in mind. I also have 2 sheets of felt that I'm going to make into a jacket, which should be really fun to embellish.

For now, I'm going to make a very quick dinner and go crash!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


And I'm working on a deadline again!!

When I moved in here, I was told I could use about 6 x 8 of a 8 x 16 shed. I worked around it as much as I could, but finally, asked my landlord to clean it out. He doesn't actually own the place - he manages it for the owner who lives near Portland. There was all kinds of, um, stuff in there that had been there forever, it seems, and he hasn't moved it. Since I have lots of tools, and need to store my feed in there to keep it from the Great Red Hoover (see Polymath Chronicles), it seemed like I should get to use it or reduce my rent. In August, he and a helper came and got a lot of the stuff out, and said they would be back to finish it. Two months later, it still hadn't been done. So I called again, spoke to his wife, who promised to get him over to finish it.

I now have the use of the full shed! So, with the Portland Handweavers' Guild sale looming, dyeing to be done, and inclement weather glowering, I set up the dye works in the shed. It's now the Dye Shed. In order for this to work, I needed lights, which I installed, along with the extension cord to feed them. The extension cord plugs into an outlet right outside the back door, which is very convenient. So, here's the set up:

The roaster will sit on the smaller table, along with the dyes and the plastic wrap. The long table will be where the dyeing happens. What's great is that I can take this down and put it away against the opposite wall.

Because of the aforesaid inclement weather, I'll have to dry the results in the living room by the fire, but that's ok.

I'm looking forward to the sale. It's in Lake Oswego (a very posh area), and hopefully people are willing to spend - I'll have a little different type of product than most of the others, with yarn and spinning fiber. It will be interesting to see how it goes. I have an interesting space, not a booth, but something really interesting. I'll explain, with pictures in the next post!