Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend is Over

Unfortunately we were all down with a stomach flu. Mitch remained relatively frisky so he was pretty bored with the parents' inactivity. Of course as the long weekend comes to the end, we are feeling better...
Before this thing hit me full force, I managed to ply up the superwash. It's a little more green -- mint green -- in reality. It's very soft and silky, and I love it. I have two hanks of about 100 meters, and some more, so I am planning to knit a pair of socks.

My plying technique is still uneven. Most of the superwash was plied a bit loosely than I would have wanted it to be. So the third, smaller hank, I tried to ply much tighter.

Looks just about right.

Here's the pattern I am planning to knit from the Japanese pattern book I bought.

Isn't it cute? I am thinking of using the Bubble Gum Cotsweld I spun. I'm going to change it a bit and omit the sleeves at the arrow in the picture -- it'll be a cute drop-shoulder vest. I hope I have enough yarn for this. Some serious swatching and calculations to do...
My Bunny Socks is slowly progressing. And oh darn, back to work...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm Back...

... from Japan.

A view from the office in Harumi, Tokyo. Busy, busy four day trip, two days out of four visiting with my mom and brother.

The Kabuki-za (Kabuki Theater) in Ginza, Tokyo. Bad angle, but it was the best I could do with my suit case and laptop in tow.

Of course, eatin' was wonderful. Contrary to the popular belief, great food isn't always expensive in Japan. This sushi bowl, two of them with soup and two beer for lunch with my mom, was about $20 total! And it was great.

The trip was too short for the long flight that was required -- but I needed to be home for Mitch's dance recital, which was held this evening! It was all worth it though. There was no knitting related fun, except for a pattern book I bought. I do have a project I am planning to knit out of this book. In fact, with my handspun -- I will post the picture of the design next time.

Boy, no knitting or spinning pictures on this post! I'm thinking about joining the Knitlist ring, but this isn't going to qualify!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bunny Socks

I rammaged through my stash and found the yarn I wanted to use for my next pair of socks (number 5 for the year). As soon as I started knitting, I knew they were going to be for me, nobody else.

Lang BEBE yarn -- fingering, superwash wool -- and white Chrystal Palace Kid Merino mohair together. Lang BEBE is so cute but too soft and kind of flimsy to be knitted by itself -- maybe good for babies, but I'd put a hole on the socks right away.

By pairing it with the mohair, it's very cushy and substantial. Hopefully more durable too.

The relaxation factor of hand-knitted socks is amazing. But these will be super-decompression, unwinding bunny socks. I can't wait. I'm taking this on my flight to Japan tomorrow.

I'm itching to start a summer sweater, but I haven't been able to decide which one. Oh, I've added the Lotus Blossom Tank KAL button and links to the side bar -- there has been a number of visitors to this blog from my post on the KAL. The KAL activity has slowed down after the summer, but there are still visitors from it -- a nice surprise.

I haven't been to Japan for business for a long, long time. Strangely, it makes me nervous. I'm not prepared. It means that I won't be knitting all the way there -- some work to do :-(

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shades of Green

Chartreuse --
Did I spell that right?

We had a beautiful weather here in Novato last weekend. I spent some time in the backyard, tending my plants, then I looked at the rosemary trimmings -- oh yeah. I can dye with this.

Strangely, any of my natural dyeing books mention rosemary as a dye plant, but I have seen this site before, and wanted to try it. Since it was a hot day, rather than subjecting my family to hours of rosemary soup cooking in the kitchen, I decided to use the grill outside.

If you want to try dyeing on the BBQ grill, note -- it's better to remove the grates and put the pot/pan closer to the flame. It's also a good idea to have a thermometer handy -- this is in fact the first time I checked the temperature throughout, and because of it I may discovered one of the reasons why I keep failing with dyeing. What I needed may have been -- more heat.

I've neglected to take pictures of the process, but here's what I did --

Cut sprigs of rosemary into stainless steel bowl -- small pieces -- about 300 grams. Cover with water and simmer, 140 - 150 F, for a little over an hour. I mordanted 60 grams of wool with 10% alum + pinch of cream of tar tar, and cooled it down, and washed it. The rosemary soup is now yellow-greenish brown, or brownish yellow-green -- depending on how you take it. We leave to Josh's baseball game, leaving the soup to cool.

After we come back from the ball game, I filtered the soup, then added the mordanted wool in it. Again, making sure that it's heated slowly to around 140 F, I left it simmering for an hour -- catching a quick nap. Took it off the heat and left it to cool.

I really like what I got -- it's yellow-green, yellow stronger than the shade of green. The photo just didn't capture the color, although I took it in the natural light. Chartreuse? I was supposed to get much darker, stronger hunter green though -- like the third one from the top on the color swatches on the link above (see near bottom of the page). The result was completely different.

The wool smells wonderful, even after it's washed and dried. It's much sweeter, complex kind of fragrance, rather than the pungent, culinary rosemary aroma.

I'm disappointed that no matter what I tried I couldn't take a picture that showed the true color of this dye project. I will try posting some more pictures as I spin this.

I've finished socks for Tomoko. She's my friend at work, and she had requested a pair of "sage color" socks.

It's getting too warm for a pair of cushy wool socks, but since she lives in San Francisco, I hope they are still somewhat appreciated... Summer in the city can be freezing sometimes.

I bought this yarn in Montreal in March, with Tomoko's request in mind. Is this sage? Maybe it's more like wasabi. It's made in UK -- very cute label.

Mitch had a good weekend, playing soccer, playing with Erin's boys, and enjoying the weather. So did I -- the problem is that weekend is too short, and now Josh has a bum thumb, and Warriors lost!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Wish I Were There

Worriors beat Dallas! I still remember watching the last playoff game they won in 1991.
I'm hoping to finish the socks number four of the year before the next match, because I don't get much knitting done while watching the games.