Thursday, January 29, 2015

A lot of blue in this post, it seems.

I haven't been knitting all that much this past week because I'm still working more or less monogamously on Mr. Rippley, my coffee friend. Remarkably, when you keep working on something, it tends to get closer to done. I'm probably two and a half pattern repeats (Four rows each of three colors) from being done, though I suspect some of my yarn has gone missing because I'm not using it up evenly. The persimmon (brown), which resembles no persimmon I've ever seen, is being used up faster than its paprika (red) and peapod (green) brethren and it's entirely possible that I'm using more of that one
or that there's a little ball of it under the couch somewhere. I would not rule out the latter. There's no telling what's under there. I'm a little afraid to look, actually.

Leto got a little bit of attention while I was at the doctor's office and I worked on the Fork in the Garbage Disposal socks last Thursday night while both children were dancing. Little Miss Bu, who is no more than two, wanted to go into the room where Fluffalo dances. The clogging teacher said it was okay for her to stay and the whole time, she tried to do what the big girls were doing. She had fun and I got some bonus sock-knitting time. Everyone wins!

Now that I have my new progressive lenses, I've been starting back to embroidery and hand-sewing. Miss Summer's handkerchief got some love and I can see/remember more or less what I've done on the first wing, but I'm afraid it's not going to be as symmetrical as I'd rather. Doing the same thing I did the first time, only in reverse, is about as easy as it sounds.
Privet soup: To dye for.

I even dipped my toe into some natural dyeing, but I seem to have wandered off from it and left the privet berries soaking in the pot in the garage. The thing is, I have one pot. I need to transfer the dye bath to another container so that I can mordant the fiber and then do another switcheroo when the mordanting is done. I got so distracted by the crochet and the silk hankies that I... forgot that I'd already started the dye bath. A good soaking won't hurt anything and may make the color deeper, but I don't want to leave them so long that they go rancid on me. Bleah. Nobody wants that. With any luck and if I'm paying any attention, I'll move the dyeing forward this coming week.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of the hand-rolled hem, which is:

This week's technique:

It's a long-ish video, about fifteen minutes, but Ms. Simms' voice is really very soothing and she does a good job of showing you the technique. I'm still having a little trouble on the corners, but it's going fairly well on the two dainty little hankies I'm working on for Project Make. Naturally, the second hanky went better than the first and practice will make success.

First one done, and a little bit of snow.
Both hems done. No snow.
They've since had a brief date with the iron and look a little bit neater. I decided that, because these are what you might call TARDIS blue, I'd do something a little bit special. I have one FO for this week:

A Rose by any other name...
100% silk hanky with hand-rolled hems and hand-stitched embroidery in Circular Gallifreyan that reads "Rose." Upcycled from a thrifted silk skirt.

I've been working on:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy Yarn Friends

This week has been pretty mild weather for a January and most of the handknits were shed around noon and put back on when the sun went down. Today, Wednesday the 21st, I'm wearing Durhamknits' Multnomah in a hipster scarf kind of way and it's been keeping the chill off my neck all day. I love the squashiness, the drape, everything about this shawl. I especially love that she was knitting it for me and sent it to me in a giant pile of woolly love from several of my far friends. It's just amazing to find such a pocket of kindness. Hooray for yarn friends!

The warm weather has also been great for getting some work done in the garage. My loom has lived there since we moved in and I've been itching to get her put back together and to have that space as a usable studio, of sorts. The lawnmower still has to live there, but the yard tools and I pretty much live in harmony. The big part is sorting through all the stuff that never quite got moved into the house, getting rid of what can be got rid of and putting away the rest of the things into their right places. I put up shelves and did some organization and it's so very close to being cleared out enough for my loom.

I made the shelves just high enough for me to reach and put things up and take them down again by myself. I need to replace the boards, but those are good enough for now. There's a ways yet to go and it won't be done until spring, but I did manage to find all of my fabric.

Some spinning got done, too, and I finished my very first gradient yarn as part of Project Make. I'd considered making the two skeins fraternal, but dear Bekah convinced me to spin them up the same. That's what friends are for, right?

I love this picture so much. It's the happiest thing and the colors are perfect for a winter-weary Jess. This is about 200yds of Z-spun, S-plied WTF?IDK batt with so much sparkle, that there is a German Sparkle Party somewhere that wants its yarn back. It's about 11wpi, or about a DK weight, though the yellowest parts may slide into fingering weight. It's Navajo plied, which isn't a new technique to me, but one that I haven't used very much. I like it for this kind of color gradation, but the WTF?IDK batt wasn't as evenly spun as other fiber preps, so sometimes the yarn got weird on me where the switchback was on the chain. I'm pretty sure nobody calls it a switchback, but I couldn't think what else to call the part of the chain that goes through the loop and back again. It's like a switchback road, Y? N?

Well, not much knitting has been done this week, though I did get past the heel in the Fork in the Garbage Disposal socks. I like the heel! Ding-ding-ding-a-dinga-ding-ding! But I may try to find a way to avoid the provisional cast-on in the middle. It did get a little fiddly. What I have been working on is the Ripple Afghan. I'm totally in love with it and I can't think of anything else right now. Though I'm cuddled up in its much older brother right now, Mr. Rippley has been my morning coffee friend, as has a far friend up Nort' who is a retired teacher and a delightful woman. We're stay-at-home bros.
So that's really about all that's been going on, though it's all been very intense. I did get my new glasses and I'm starting on a small sewing project, which I'll probably talk about next week. Until then, I'm going to peruse ideas for small projects to make with fabric scraps because some destashing has to happen there, too.

This week's technique:

  • A provisional cast-on a la Lucy Neatby. I needed this one for the Fork in the Road socks and just picked a provisional cast on out of the proverbial hat. This one served just fine, but was a little fiddly. It could be user error because it wasn't a technique I'm terribly used to and I wasn't accustomed to stopping in the middle of a sock to cast on and re-join. 

I've been working on:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yarn for Mama

This week started out colder than... a very cold thing and I was glad to have my Man Sweater and Nymphalidae to cuddle up in, among other things. I think I've worn the Honeycomb mitts that Bekah made for me more than I've worn anything else this week. Most of it is kind of a woolly blur, though. That, and the ripple afghan, which seems to be plugging along. I'm about halfway through the yarn I have for it, which should make it a goodly couch-sized blanket.

"This is a tag. It says, 'Yarn for Mama.'"
I'm already plotting other afghans (all the afghans) because the weather has just been that way. That and knee warmers and/or leg warmers, but there's some waffling about how I'd wear them: under the jeans or over the jeans? Both?

Color Affection has also been wafting in and out of my yarny fantasies. I already have the yarn and Bekah and Koren and I are going to do a little along using the same colors in several different yarns. I don't remember how that happened, exactly, because I bought the yarn some time ago before Color Affection was on my radar. It could be Fate or serendipity or... the Universe's odd sense of humor. IDK, man, I just work here. Anyway, I'm at the point where I want to finish some stuff up before I go casting on a bunch of things.

Movin' right along.
The EZ sweater is also plugging along, but unless you're interested in miles of stockinette, there's really not much to report there. I do love the color, though, and I don't mind having some knitting I don't have to think about.

It's also been rainy, which is pretty great for any dyeing shenanigans I may be getting up to. Rain water, while the slight acidity might affect the color, won't affect the color quite so much as our hard water. Certain minerals will sadden, or darken, the dye and I don't particularly want that. It's going to be an adventure since I only kind of know what I'm doing.

Between the many several books on dyeing with natural dyes and the internet, I think I can handle it. I am a scientist, after all, and we're trained for this sort of thing.

In Project Make news, I'm spinning the most fabulous of singles out of the most fabulous of happy warm colors (see above re: weather). I'd been saving it for when I needed a break from browns, blacks, and greys and the middle of a rainy January seemed like the exact right time to pull it out. I'd meant to do some fractal spinning, but I had a derp about how much fiber actually goes on my bobbins and ended up filling the whole bobbin entirely up. I don't have bigger ones, so I'll probably Navajo ply it to preserve the color gradation. I could do the second half of the fiber the same way or I could try something else with it. I'll likely end up doing it the same way so they can be yarn friends.

This Week's Technique:

  • Invisible braided join: I've been looking for joins for yarns that don't felt and came across this little gem. As far as I can tell, it really is invisible and I'm very pleased with how easy it is to do, requiring no spit at all, and it's very very strong. 

I've been working on:

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Including the Kitchen Sink

The New Year's cast-on a-thon went very well and I'm even a little ways into the socks now. The baby sweater had to be ripped and re-knit after having overlooked some of the increases and the sweater is going to make good tv/morning coffee knitting if I get bored with the crochet blanket I'm working on now. My dear Bekah has finished her blanket already, so I feel the urge to catch up. Of course, I'm ahead of her on the BFF cowl, so...

I had a rough day this week. Little Miss Bu is no more than two and, as two year olds go, she's about the chillest that you will find anywhere.

But she's still two. The confluence of a difficult potty day for her and a case of the crankies for me meant that there weren't nobody happy (to put it in the manner of my people).

While I was still having the crankies, I did manage to retreat to the bedroom where the drum carder is and did up one of the Sheep of Unknown Provenance (SoUP) batts. They are now all carded and ready for the next stage of their woolly adventure. Husband kept Miss Bu out of my hair and I worked on not being quite so grouchy. The scritch-scritch of the carder is kind of soothing, actually. The moral of this story is that Husband is awesome and fiber arts are necessary for mental health. Miss Bu has been pretty excellent the rest of the week and even went with me to see my former professor, whom we shall name "Mr. Andy." She loved the science building and was fascinated by his library of science books.

Unrelatedly, there was plumbing this week. It wasn't strictly necessary plumbing, but two parts of my kitchen sink have been annoying me since we moved in, so I replaced them. It's not the most attractive of design choices, but I'll take improved functionality over aesthetics when it comes to plumbing. Not that aesthetics don't matter, but this fix was under $20 and I hate my sink much less now. There's a certain sense of accomplishment when you successfully do plumbing things on your own. As you can see, I've also started painting spots with a sample of the color I want the kitchen to be. I think I'm in love.

The reclaimed silk also got washed and ironed. It has a lovely sheen to it and I can't wait to start on it. The first thing up for the blue silk will be practicing hand-rolled hems.

But before I do that, I'm getting my eyes checked. No lie, mere hours before I listened to the Knitmore Girls' Episode 314: Dessert First, I had decided to make an eye appointment. They both strongly urged us to get our eyes checked in the Mother Knows Best segment and I could not help but think, "How timely!" We go on Sunday.

This week, I've finished:
I've been working on: 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Project Make Begins!

I've been really excited about this and I've kind of kept a lid on it, but now it's time to let the cat out of the bag, to release the canary from the cage, to free Willy, to--
Calm yourself, Jess. Deep breath. Tell the people what Project Make is. 
Right, okay! Here we go!

Project Make is a personal commitment to excellence in the textile and visual arts. Over the course of 2015, participants will choose projects that are challenging and produce works that are of the highest quality.  Projects can't have been started prior to January 1st, 2015, and must result in a tangible object. If you would like to play along, tag your project with #projectmake on Instagram, G+, or in Ravelry, or you can drop a comment here at the blog about something you are producing that is challenging to you in some way or that demonstrates the best of what you can do.

By the end of 2015, this commitment to excellence will not only help us to produce better works, but will help us be better ourselves. Maybe we're not going to the moon or winning an Olympic medal, but we're gaining confidence and fighting stagnation. Maybe I'll make three things this year, maybe I'll make thirty, but by the end of 2015, I'll know I've done my best work. I was going to quote something profound from some great author or philosopher about facing challenges and doing your best, but really, the words that really expresses what I'm trying to say come from my junior year high school English teacher:

"Don't go out with your curlers in."

In other words, don't save your best for a special occasion. Shine your light every day. Wear your fabulous hairdo to the grocery store. Make your best stuff and if it doesn't turn out as awesome as it could be, learn from it and do better next time.
There are going to be days when you just don't want to get out of your pajamas and that's okay. The idea is not to kill yourself to produce masterpieces or to beat yourself up about mistakes, but rather just to do the best you can do this year.

As an extra added bonus, my Project Make items are going to go up for sale on Etsy at the end of the year and you'll have an opportunity to own a piece of the action.

Follow me on Instagram @delphinianjess
on Ravelry as Delphinian
and on G+ I'm +Jessica Matz