Monday, May 29, 2006

koolaid and non-sequitors

I finally got around to trying some hand-dying! I had so much fun - and it's nice that I can have a knitting-related finished product in only a few hours work, plus some drying time, as opposed to the weeks or months it takes me to actually knit something (that is, unless there is a looming deadline like Christmas). I limited myself to just doing 1 skein for the first try, since I was worried about totally screwing it up and ruining all my skeins. It was hard though, once I had started mixing up the kool-aid I was tempted to get all of it out and make every color possible. But I restrained myself. I used 1 skein of Knitpicks color your own merino wool in fingering weight. Here it is having a bubble bath:

I didn't take any pictures of the actual dying process, being worried about accidentally dying my camera. But here it is having a bath again, after the arduous painting:

And here's the finished product, rewound into a very messy skein (and probably missing about 20 yards or so, that just got too tangled up to deal with). This picture I think is a little lighter than the actual product. Those pieces that look white in this pic are really pale pinkish or peach. Although there were a few white bits that I had missed with the dye. I used 3 packets of koolaid, and I think that really wasn't enough for the whole 100 gm skein, even though I did a lot of pastel parts. The colors are various combinations and shades of grape, orange, and black cherry. I'm especially fond of the brownish color that is a result of a few sprinkles of grape into the orange mix.

I think it turned out OK, although it's a little pastelly for my taste. I'm thinking the next one will be darker red, orange, and brownish shades (will have to go back to Albertson's to stock up). I might send this one as the first one skein secret exchange. Is that rude, just because I'm not super crazy about it? Someone else might like it.

Here's the non sequitor part of this post:

It's the neighbor's baby bulldog sacked out on the back stairs. Awwwww

Monday, May 22, 2006

weekend report

Back to the grindy daily grind after a nice weekend away, sigh...
I didn't get much knitting done, but I sure did taste a lot of yummy California wine!
I also didn't take a whole lot of pictures, being more interested in getting my mitts on the wineglass and drinking than recording what I was doing.
But here's the sky being pretty on the drive up:

Saturday morning J and I decided to go for a hike before hitting the wineries (best to do it in that order rather than try the other way around, we thought). We went up to Lake Sonoma where there were tons of beautiful wildflowers:

After about 20 minutes, however, J noticed the first tick on his pants. That's when we started getting a little nervous. A few minutes later, he found the second tick on his thigh. And then I found one on my pant leg. And then we noticed that there were ticks on EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF GRASS along the side of the trail. So that was the end of that hike, unfortunately we had a 30 minute uphill tick-ridden panic-striken trek back to the parking lot, which was luckily empty, because we sprinted to side of the car and immediately dropped our pants to check for ticks on our legs. I couldn't figure out how to work the self-timer on my camera, which is too bad, because that would have been a hilarious picture, but here's a G-rated version of J's reflection pulling his pants back up:

There are some things to be said for civilization.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Ella is starting to look like a shawl. Maybe I'll actually finish her one of these days.

Meanwhile, I think it looks quite fetching on Paddington. (I couldn't get either of the cats to sit still long enough to try it on them.)

J and I are going up to wine country tomorrow for a romantic weekend (my bday present!). Maybe between all the romance there will be time for some knitting. (I think there will.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Grey skies are gonna clear up...

Looks like San Francisco summer is starting to rear its ugly head. It's been alternatingly sunny and foggy, warm and bitingly chilly all week. After freezing my tootsies off the last few evenings, I'm finally giving up the idea of wearing sandals in May. There's usually a hill behind these houses that I can see from my window, but today it's totally shrouded in fog:

Luckily things are a little brighter inside the apartment:

I'm super excited to try some hand-dying finally! Now if only I could get this pesky work thing out of the way so I would have some time.

30 seconds after I had set up the orderly display of kool-aid and yarn above, this is what happened to it:

I swear that cat has some kind of 6th sense about unattended yarn. She can be napping on the other side of the apartment and if I leave a skein of yarn on the table, suddenly she appears in the doorway. I don't know how she does it. Maybe she can smell it.

Also, I just discovered and joined the ScienceKnits webring. I think it's cute how specialized these things get. Maybe I will start my own RedheadTwoCatsScientistsWhoKnitInColeValleySanFrancisco webring. Who's with me?

Friday, May 12, 2006


It's my birthday in several time zones! And I was in lab until 9:30 pm on a Friday. You can bet your ass I'm having a cocktail:

That pinky lovely is called the Martini Royale, and it contains vodka, creme de cassis, and champagne. Yum!
Behind it is my early bday present from J, delicious chocolates from a local purveryor. More yum!
Now if you will excuse me, I am going to make my cocktail a little more royale with some more champagne.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


As promised, here are some pictures of Alpaca Shearing Day! Some background first: 4 or 5 years ago, my fiancé's mother decided she was tired of her day job and wanted to start an alpaca farm. So she and her husband moved from Florida to central Illinois and bought a large property and some alpacas. Now she sells yarn and alpacas here (there are even some pictures of me in that site somewhere!). Anyway their kids live all over the country and Shearing Day has recently become another sort of holiday for their family, or at least an excuse for lots of people to show up at their house and help out and eat yummy baked goods. This was my and the fiancé's first time at shearing day. (Some friends from Chicago drove out with us and when we got there and my friend saw the ten or so people in overalls gathered around an alpaca on a tarp, he said, where is the beer tent and the oompah band? I guess I had been talking about Shearing Day with such excitement that I gave him the impression that it was like a big festival and the whole county would be there. Although he swears he had fun anyway.)

This may not be so exciting for some, but for me, a city girl, it was downright thrilling. So that's where all my yarn comes from!

Here are some of the sillies with all their fluff:
so cute, right?

the shearing:
and man, I never knew this, but alpaca spit STINKS. Apparently it is so bad that they have to leave their mouths open for a while after they spit, since even they can't stand the smell. Poor things. There was a very wide range of behavior among the animals. Some were totally calm and relaxed, and some were screaming and spitting and peeing all over the place. Yuck.

the shorn :
and look! I'm learning how to spin! man, is that some ugly yarn. (I insisted on taking it home with me though, I figured I can't just throw out the first yarn I ever made with my own hands.)

One skein secret pal

Hooray I am so excited for the one-skein secret pal exchange! Being generally new to the internet knitting community this is my first of this sort of thing. I have bought some undyed merino wool from knitpicks and think I might subject my exchangee to my first experiments at hand-dying, bwa ha ha.
Anyway here are my answers to those secret pal questions.

1. Which yarn is most like your personality (you can be specific or general with your answer- brand, type, color, fiber, whatever)?
Hmmm, something soft and fuzzy and comforting and not too pretentious (I would like to think). Maybe Misti bulky baby alpaca? Love that stuff. I don't actually have any of it.

2. What is your favorite color yarn to knit/crochet with?

Everything I buy seems to somehow be blue or green. Sometimes that annoys me though. I need more other colors.

3. Have you ever used variegated, or magic, yarns?

I'm of two minds about variegated yarn. Some of it is beautiful, and some just looks kitchy to me. I think I like the rustic, handmade, handpainted looking types of variegated yarn better than the stripey stripey kinds.

4. Do you tend to favor certain fibers when choosing yarns?

Definitely go for the animal fibers almost all the time. Alpaca is nice, wools in general if not too scratchy, merino, cashmere (mmmmmmmmmmmm)

5. Do you prefer to work with center-pull or traditionally wound balls of yarn?

Either one

6. Have you ever worked with organic yarns or are you interested in trying them?

I'm not sure if I have - certainly not intentionally if so. But sounds intriguing.

7. How many and what projects have you made in the last year?

Only having started a blog recently, I don't have any way of keeping track of this. But I'm going to guess somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10? Let's see, I can think of at least 6 scarfs, 3 sweaters (although 2 are unwearable so I don't know if that counts), and I guess that's all I can think of. So 8.

8. Will you be knitting any gifts this year?

Of course!

9. What is your favorite one skein project?

I would have to say, some kind of scarf with an interesting pattern.

10. How much yarn do you have in your stash and how do you store it?

About 4 largeish boxes. It's currently in 2 plastic tubs, 1 straw box, and one crumbly vintage hat box in my closet.

11. Do you have a yarn in your stash that you love so much you can never use it or part with it?

I do have several yarns purchased in quantities of 1-2 skeins that I bought "just because" and now have no idea what to do with them.

12. Do you knit less or differently in the summer?

I live in San Francisco, so not really. But there are definitely some hot days when I just don't feel like having a big pile of bulky wool on my lap.

13. Do you belong to any knitting groups (online or offline)?

Nope. Maybe I should remedy that.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

what's on the needles

My first post with pictures!
I thought I would put up some pics of things I'm currently working on. These are the three projects I can remember that I'm in the middle of, I've no doubt that there are another three or four half or quarter or 1/10 started projects wasting away on scrap yarn in a box somewhere. In fact I can think of one ill-advised mohair sweater that's been missing a neck and sleeves for years now... I don't think it will ever get them.

Anyway, this is the beginnings of Ella. I don't think I've ever worn a shawl in my life, but once I saw this one on knit and tonic, I had to have one of my own! I will become a shawl-wearer!

There she is in her so-far entirety. This is also my first foray into Lorna's Laces, and I love love LOVE this yarn. So pretty!!! I am newly inspired to try some hand-dying of my own. Here's a slightly out of focus close-up:

This upside-down badboy is the Somewhat Cowl, also by the lovely Knit and Tonic (can you tell I love that site?) in Elann's Peruvian Collection Quecha (what does that word mean?) in celery. It looks kind of pukey beige in this picture but it's really a nice calm pale green color. This yarn I'm so-so about. It's kind of splitty and very fuzzy. But hey, it's also cheap!

And this one, masquerading as a fried egg, is the long-ago started beginnings of the Silk Camisole from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts, knit in some awesome brand-less cashmere from Ebay. Also so cheap! And so beautiful! (Did I mention that I am a somewhat-penniless grad student?) I haven't worked on this guy in quite a while. But it looks so pretty and sunny lying there, I think I might have to pick it up again soon. Mmmm cashmere...

here's another out of focus and sideways close-up of the cool lacey edge:
Next time - I promise I will learn how to turn pictures the right way up, and also learn how to use the supposedly automatic focus on my camera.
Also soon, pictures of alpaca Shearing Day!

another new knitting blog

I've been knitting on and off since I was in high school, ever since a good friend of mine went away to some new agey farming community retreat and came back with a new knitting skill that she insisted on sharing with everyone. Really. It wasn't an option. We were told to go to a certain yarn store, buy a ball of yarn and some circular needles, and then report to her house where she taught us how to knit a hat. She was a little bossy, this friend. But I can't be annoyed, since that was the beginning of a lovely new habit!
Unfortunately it wasn't lovely for quite a while. Until reasonably recently, actually. This friend, being a novice knitter herself, taught us quite well how to knit a hat, and I made a lovely if plain blue stockinette ski hat kind of thing. But I never heard of the concept of gauge, or different needle sizes, or any of that stuff until years later. After making several different hats and giving them away to everyone I knew, I decided that it was time to make an entire sweater. So I bought a pretty simple looking pattern, and a ton of yarn, and some needles, I'm not sure if I even bought the correct size needles for the yarn or the pattern (I'm sure the yarn wasn't what the pattern specified, and I know I didn't knit a gauge swatch because I didn't know what that was) and set out to make a shapeless potato sack lump of a sweater.
Anyway cut forward 12 or so years and a few important lessons later, aided in no small part by the massive amount of knitting information and patterns that have cropped up on the internet recently, and I've gotten a little better. Once I figure all that stuff out I'll post a bunch of pictures chronicling (is that how you spell that?) the different objects I have managed to turn out over the years. Unfortunately I no longer have that first potato sack sweater, it was too shapeless to actually wear (and, stupid novice that I was, I didn't even know about the concept of frogging, not that it would have been that hard to think of on my own, but I think that sweater ended up in a Goodwill somewhere).
So, pictures soon!