Saturday, June 25, 2005

It ain't spaghetti... Posted by Hello

Dyeing Again

I suppose you could say I'm crazy. With temps in the 90s around here, what does Paula do? She presoaks 2 pounds of yarn, unearths the 60 qt stockpot that will never be used for food, fires up the new Cajun Crawfish Boil outdoor propane stove, and soon is set to dye.

It's not as crazy as it sounds. I chcek the status every 15 minutes or so, then retreat to the air-conditioned living room. So far, so good, and I am actually going to be a good-dyeing-do-bee for the first time ever and leave the skeins and swatch outdoors in the pot overnight to cool. Whatever exhaust dye is left will be re-heated and used for some other yarn. I have a bunch of mohair boucle hanging around for just this purpose, as I hate to let any of the dyestuff go to waste.

This yarn is for a commission job I'm doing. I'll be designing (what else?) an Aran style sweater for a dear singing friend who is a member of my alto section on a part-time basis. So far she has commissioned this sweater, five hats and a pair of mittens made from my handspun yarn, and she also purchased my "Stars in the Night Sky" triangle shawl. How's that for a vote of confidence? I feel very blessed to have a friend who likes my work this much!

If time and luck are with me this summer, I may get the new sweater done in time to enter in The Big E. Wouldn't it be nice if I could tell my friend that, not only did I design her sweater and hand-dye the yarn, but it took a ribbon at The Big E. That would make it even more special than it's already going to be.

Above is a picture of the yarn and swatch simmering in the kettle. Too bad I didn't think to throw the swatch into the mix until the yarn had already been in the dyebath for 20 minutes. It just is not going to match the color of the yarn, but at least I'll have an idea how the sweater's textures will look with some color added.

I'm using Cushing's Egyptian Red for this. What a nice color, and of course I cannot say enough good about Cushing's. Love the stuff. So easy to use, a good value, and splendid colors!

I missed the spin-in today -- too hot -- and decided not to go to the NETA Summer Spa after all. I was just too tired after Phoebe's first week at RISD and all the driving I had to do to accommodate her schedule. Plus it was a rough week moodwise. I was just feeling unfit for human consumption all around. But being in the process of finishing this dyework that was hanging over my head is helping. So too is the fact that business has really picked up quite a bit in the last couple of weeks. All three lots of my first attempts at dyed silk roving have sold. One little bump is actually on its way to Chilliwack, British Columbia. I haven't looked at a map yet to see, but it sure does sound like a far-flung part of Canada to me.

Fifteen more minutes 'til I can turn off the fire under the dyepot, pop the lid on the pot, and forget about the whole darn thing 'til morning...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cockleshell Scarf for Daphne's Teacher Posted by Hello

I have been busy...

Barely any time to write lately, but I HAVE taken a few pictures to share.

The one below is a test swatch for an Aran commission. It's to be knitted up on size 4 needles, and the yarn is a gorgeous wool/silk blend. I haven't started the actual sweater yet, as I will be dyeing the yarn beforehand, and it has just been too darn HOT around here to fire up the outdoor dye stove.

The one above is a Shetland Lace Cockleshell scarf, pattern from Candace Eisner Strick's lovely book, "Beyond Wool." Her original pattern called for quiviut but, lacking the funds for that kind of expenditure, I decided to use Su's fabulous space-dyed kid mohair/silk yarn instead. Su started making these sorts of yarns in the last month or so, and it was so luxurious I had to have some. Of course, at the time I had no idea what it might become. Then, a serendipitous browse through Candace's book whilst in the "reading room" one morning got me thinking that this scarf might be a perfect, simple project. Well, sho 'nuff! This will be a gift for Daphne's classroom teacher, Miss Mahoney, who has put up with an awful lot from my girl. Miss Mahoney wears a lot of red, I've noticed, so this will be a perfect accessory.

I'm working on another for the classroom aide, Mrs. Beccia, who seems to volunteer so much time for kids' programs all over town. Phoebe had her as a teacher in her last year of the town's Vacation Bible School and loved her as much as Daphne does. She's one of the most enthusiastic and energetic senior citizens I have ever met. Daphne says her favorite color is purple, so I am making the scarf out of a beautiful, deep purple laceweight wool yarn I just happened to have on hand.

It was such a pleasant surprise to have the cockleshell pattern turn out to be so EASY. I was not expecting that. But it is sooooo easy, I have managed to memorize the entire 12 row repeat! This is a first! Memorization of anything lengthy has never been my forte, but I've noticed that I've been doing this more and more with choir music. It must have to do with the amount of repetition we do. Somehow it all gets into my brain, so many times on gig days I am holding the music for security's sake, but rarely do I even look at it. Evidently, this skill is beginning to translate to my knitting. Who'd-a thunk it???

Time to go scavenge through my inventory again, with an eye to possible new listings. I'd like to keep my weekend sales trend going. It wasn't huge, but it was steady, and I have a lot of nice little hosta plants coming in from Vermont soon...maybe tomorrow? I owe, I owe, so winding skeins I go...

Heat wave is due to break tomorrow, but does anyone believe that's REALLY gonna happen? Thank God for AC, is all I can say. Keith put the big one in the living room yesterday, so now I feel as if I can breathe and function semi-normally.

Stay cool! Think snow! Think knitting!

Test swatch for new custom Aran design. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

Just checking...

Which flock do you follow?

OK, so I took The Sheep Quiz again. Thought maybe my general outlook might have changed since the last time I took it, but nooooooo. I am still a "Goth" sheep. [sigh]

Choir season is almost officially over, with Phoebe's RISD program due to start a few days after the last gig. I'll be on the road a lot more than I had anticipated. Blogging may be even more sketchy than it has been in the last few weeks. Urrggghhhh...

Am also bumming because I did a preliminary check on airline tickets for next summer's Orkney trip. [ulp!] I had originnally planned to bring Keith AND Daphne along, but yikes! And I don't think the price will go down significantly by next summer. Keith, like a good sport, says I can go solo, but I am wondering WHEN I am ever going to get to travel someplace exotic WITH HIM! If business doesn't pick up soon, I may not even be able to go solo. A sobering thought, when I am so looking forward to meeting fibery folk from all over the world. Well, it's still a year away. Perhaps there will be a Miracle. Or perhaps I will finally begin buying lottery tickets.