Monday, April 30, 2007

No Pink

I was hoping that after several sessions of shimmering, the apple bark dye would saturate the wool and turn into pink as my book said.

No such luck. See the pretty muted pink swatch? This was what I was hoping for, and what I was supposed to get. See the wool next to it? It's just another sad pale tan! I don't think I made a mistake on the dye stuff - fiber ratio. I had 154g of bark, and I dyed 65g of wool -- considering that the book recommends 1:1 ratio, I was pretty conservative.

The lichen dye has been sitting for more than four months. No pink there either. It's supposed to take 120 days to develop the deep burgundy color. Mine is just sickly greenish brown. I just learned from one of the Japanese fiber blogs that I visit that I'm supposed to open the jar lid to let the air in. I didn't do that -- being afraid of the ammonia odor. Come to think of it, I'm supposed to shake the jar daily to incorporate the oxygen into the dye, so it only makes sense to let the supply of oxygen in. So I've been braving the smell to open the jar every day, but no luck.

OK -- three failures (Black-eyed Susans, apple bark and lichens) out of six (dandelions, turmeric and hibiscus tea were successful) isn't that bad. As much as it's been discouraging and disappointing.

Oh, by the way -- Mitch says "Hi Grandma!" to his Grandma Eunice. What a goofball!

Weekend in Texas...

Hello everyone, Erin here. Just thought I'd announce myself as Tamami is usually the one that does the posting.

First of all, let me give kudos to Tamami for making our blog beautiful and for keeping up the posting. I swear this blog would be dead if it were left up to the rest of us to post!

I thought I would post a not so knitting related update. Yesterday I returned from a long weekend in Austin, Texas with my son, Austen. We went for my brother's wedding, and we had a great time. However, I'm a bit tired since I wasn't in bed before 3 am any night that I was there. I spent a lot of time with my uncle seeing the city and shopping at WalMart at 3am. Do you know how many people are at WalMart at 3am? Exactly 5 (not including us). - 4 people stocking shelves and one checker. It was a bit surreal.

Here is a picture from the wedding. The ring bearer is my son.

I had hoped to get more knitting done on the trip, but not much knitting except on the plane. I travelled with 3 different projects and wasn't asked once at the airport to open my bag. I guess that the screeners are used to knitting needles.

Knitting update:
On the needles: Plain sock (2nd one) in Socks that Rock January One colorway, Feather and fan shawl in KnitPicks Andean Treasure in purple, and Meida's socks from Favorite Socks book in Chasing Rainbows pansies colorway.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I need a break...

It's been pretty tough. Just way too busy at work. Too many problems. Yuck.

It means not much time spent on my wheel -- even though I'm completely in love with it and what it produces.

Even if my mint green roving and the spun yarn on a bobbin reckons.

My modified Boogie vest still awaits to be completed. The mystery of three missing stitches on my sock remains to be a mystery. I have never kept a sock on needles this long, untouched.

I've been trying some more natural dyeing -- I started to make a dye bath with apple tree bark before I left to Toronto. Finally yesterday I bathed wool in the pretty pink bath. It looks pretty when it's in the bath, but when I lift it up and the dye drains off, the wool is just pale tan color. Reminds me of the Black-eyed-susans failure. Bummer.

My baby has a bum thumb. He fell with a drinking glass in his hand -- although, very fortunately, he didn't cut his hand, he bruised his thumb to the extreme, and his thumbnail is about to peel off. I can't bear to even look at it(hence no picture) -- I just have to cry every time. The doc says: "You have a boy. This isn't going to be the last time." Oh, thanks for the reminder.

Mitch (before his bum-thumb incident) had a great time at his first soccer practice.

It was raining and cold, but he was still fully engaged and loved everything about it. He didn't want to leave the field after the fun session.

Lucky kid -- the poor bum thumb aside -- I never had such opportunities to play sports or do anything when I was growing up, outside school or what my mom could teach me. Like knitting and sewing that I learned from my mom.

I've been trying to plan a business trip to China and Japan since last year. It's becoming clear to me after three cancellations and re-booking that I just have to give up on China -- just fly to Japan, do my business and come right back. Alone. BUMMER.

This is so wrong.

I think I have to give a long and hard look at what I'm doing. The little guy at the soccer field agrees with me.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Like It?

Yeah, a new look of the blog. Let me know what you think.
Today is the first soccer practice for my 3-year-old son, but it's gray and chilly here in Novato. It's supposed to rain.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What a Week

Boy what a week. I feel like I was all over the place! As the week comes to a close, I'm feeling good about my accomplishment.

I was in Toronto from Sunday to Wednesday. The first two days were very cold, with freezing wind. But it was warming up as I left.
I took my extended team out to lunch, for a celebration for the end of a successful project. Yum... Oysters were great! I got to know many new people on this trip.

St. James Church, from my hotel window -- early in the morning.

Saturday night before I left to Toronto, I plied the single from the brown pencil roving and the hibiscus-dyed single.
I love the way it turned out. Amazingly, I had perfect two singles length-wise. I only had about 10 cm of brown single left after I finished plying. It was meant to be!!

I resisted the urge to spin the mint-green superwash wool before I left, but now that I got some new bobbins, I did spin some last night. It's heavenly. I will post the photo next time.

I'm not doing so well on the knitting front. I started new pair of socks on the way to Toronto, and now I'm on the toe decrease for the first sock. I'm missing four stitches from one of the four needles. I can't figure out what happened! It will take some serious decoding to find out where I went wrong. My weekend project.

I finished the front piece of Boogie vest before I left, but I was utterly disappointed. Right before I finished it, I finally realized that it wasn't the design I was envisioning. From the only photo on this pattern on Knitty, I thought it was a V-neck (and that's what I wanted). But it's actually like a Henry neck, not a V.

I just couldn't tell from the picture on the pattern, as the shirt collar was obstructing the vest's neck. But if I actually read the pattern to the end, it was quite, quite obvious. Sigh.

So, now I frogged the neck shaping (or lack thereof) and now I'm working on making it look like a V, decreasing toward the shoulder seams. I am not sure how it's going to go, but I'll see... I just don't want to end up not liking it, as it won't do justice for my 20 + year old yarn!

I'm starting to realize, despite my denial and effort to ignore, that I am not a good knitter. But I think I'm pretty good at spinning. Yes, it does help.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Enhansing Stash

I really shouldn't go browsing on Ebay. I bought some mill-ends roving from this seller called yarn1merch2 in February. Her fiber was wonderful and the price was great, so I kept going back to her store -- and here's my second purchase, just arrived today.

It's beautiful mint-green superwash wool. I bought six four-ounce rovings. I love this fiber, and I love this seller. She's very honest and transaction is fast! Nice to find a seller like this. I hope she does well on Ebay.

I am out of empty bobbins, so I'll have to wait until another batch of bobbins to arrive from Yarn Barn of Kansas. I can hardly contain myself.

Here's my boogie vest, almost done with the front piece.

See how wobbly the stitches are? It's because the yarn is wavy from being frogged from a 20 + years old UFO. I probably should have either washed or steamed the yarn after I ripped it, but I actually like this "textured" look. It does look very hand-made. It's looking like the yarn is finally being worn!

I am leaving to Toronto Sunday afternoon. I am hoping that I'd get to go to Lettuce Knit while I'm there. But I don't need more yarn or fiber! I mean, I want it, I need it, but I shouldn't.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Spring Full Swing

Spring is ...

Here in full bloom. The fragrance is mind-boggling. Bees buzzing around.

And here. Just the prittiest season in our backyard.

I finally got up enough courage to spin the brown pencil roving my spinning teacher Nancy gave me last year.

The fiber is fairly short, and very curly, making the spun yarn amazingly springy, stretchy and lofty. It amazes me every time I spin new fiber -- the fact that each one requires different way to spin, and different yarn it produces. For this one, I needed to put in a lot more twist. Almost no predrafting was needed.

I'm pondering now what to do with this single -- I can ply this with the dandelion yarn, or ply it with the hibiscus yarn. All of these are about 20 - 30 grams, so by plying them together, I can have a longer yarn... If I tried to ply them with its own kind, the length will be 1/2. I really need an idea on how I can use these small skein of hand-dyed handspun. Any suggestions?

I've dyed more wool last week with just dandelions only. It went really well, and I have those now to spin. Or I might wait for another Little League baseball game and collect more flowers and dye another batch. Too bad that you have to use fresh dandelion flowers -- they can't be dried.

When I was picking dandelion flowers, Mitch asked, "Why are you picking them?" My reply; "Oh, I'm cooking dandelion soup." Mitch: "Again!?" Hope the other parents didn't hear our conversation.

My boogie vest is going well. I hope it's big enough for me though! I'm going to Toronto again soon, and it means that I should start a pair of socks. I know which yarn I'm going to use, but which pattern?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dandelion - Daffodil Blend

In my last post, I wrote about picking dandelions for another attempt on dyeing my wool. I think the reason of failure when I tried to dye with the Black-Eyed Susans was that the ratio of the flowers (dye matter) and the wool was not right. For most natural dyes, especially flowers, the ratio should be 1 - 1. It was more like 1 flowers - 2 wool. The result was pretty miserable.

So, I pondered -- Should I go with very little wool to make sure it will turn out yellow, or shall I go pick more dandelions in the neighbors' yards? Then I looked at our dinner table -- a large vase full of golden daffodils, 50 of them! They were for American Cancer Society's fundraiser called Daffodil Days. My employer sponsors it every year, and I've been buying for as long as I can remember.

This year's flowers were large and gorgeous, but they were fading fast... So, I decided to make a Dandelion - Daffodil Golden Blend. I simmered the flowers for two one-hour long sessions. It smelled like chamomile tea, but it looked shockingly disgusting, so I won't post the picture.

One thing I really like about dyeing with natural dyes is that most of the time it's safe to leave it in the kitchen -- it doesn't smell bad, and no chemical fumes. I can't dedicate hours at a time to do things like this, so it's very convenient. Anyway, about 150 dandelions, 50 daffodils and a few days later, I got 15 grams of lemony yellow roving.

The wool is corriedale, and it was pre-mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. I did go very conservative this time on the dye matter - wool ratio.

This is the carded wool, blended with about 3 grams of soy silk.

Sigh. The colors in the pictures never come out right. It's really a pretty lemony yellow. It's just so little that I don't know what to do with it....

You pretty daffodils, what great lives you had! Raised money for great cause, gave joy to me for a few days, then helped me to create pretty and sweet smelling yarn. You will never be forgotten!

This weekend, we spent some time cheering at Erin's sons' baseball games. I picked some dandelions at the field (well, not in the baseball field where they were playing!). I think I'll try a second batch without daffodils.

My Boogie vest is progressing well. I'm done with the back, and I started on the front after the game this afternoon. Oh, by the way, Josh was awesome in the game today -- I'm a big fan!