don't wanna dream if it won't come true

The economy is bad. Waste not, want not, right? What happens when you want to a) support your local yarn store and b) need to use up a spare bottle of hair dye? A step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Shopping. I bought one hank of Plymouth Yarn's "Dye For Me"...a lovely alpaca/wool/nylon fingering weight yarn. I had planned on buying sock yarn from Skacel (also undyed, but similar to your average commercial sock yarn in composition) but then I saw this. I love Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, and although this is spun a little differently, it is, compositionally, very similar...and with 477 yards per skein, I have some flexibility as to what I want to make.

Step 1.5: Continue shopping. I stopped at the grocery on the way home, and much to my delight they sell a "Value Vinegar" for only 56 cents! I don't know if you can see the price tag, but I think that is the single cheapest item I have ever purchased at a grocery store. Score! Probably not the best vinegar for cooking...but for my purposes it'll do just fine.

Step 2: Frighten your friends and roommate. I soaked the yarn in a 25% vinegar solution overnight. I had also happened to make bread dough earlier in the evening and was waiting for it to rise...so pictured above are the two of the most disgusting looking tupperware containers I could possibly have in my kitchen. They also smelled a little: yeast + vinegar = a bad combination. I guess it could have been worse; the weather was nice, I opened the windows and we survived.

Step 3: A dream deferred. I had purchased this pink hair dye in hopes of getting a few pink streaks put in...but alas, when you work at a job with dress code rules (meaning "no unnatural hair colors"), sometimes you have to postpone your dreams. Which means: when I give my 2-week notice, I'm scheduling myself for a hair appointment pronto. But for now, why waste that pink hair dye? I slathered it all over my new yarn and microwaved it! What was the worst that could happen?

Step 5: What have you learned? I have to say I was disappointed with the result (at first). I decided to rinse the yarn (based on directions from the dye bottle), and I'm glad I did...nearly ALL the color came out! I thought heat-setting it for 5 minutes in the microwave would make the yarn absorb a lot more color. I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed...and came away with a petal-pink, feminine, fluffy alpaca that is rapidly gaining my affection. Now I have to admire it every time I walk past, and I'm already mulling over its ideal application. I guess I'm not really a candidate for beauty school, but knitting I've SO got down.


urban landscape

Half gloves are so useful: whether it's for biking, climbing chain-link fences, urban adventures, rural adventures, cool weather when mittens or full gloves would be too warm...

In short (like the fingers), these gloves are practical above all else. And pretty sweet.

You might recognize these socks as well...


my favorite words were the ones i couldn't spell

One of my favorite things about knitting is the way you can use color: whether it's through fair isle patterning, combining novel colors, or beautiful hand-dyed yarns. Inevitably I was drawn to experiment with dyes myself...and by using Wilton Cake Icing Dye, I was able to create a few colorways of my own. I used single skeins of Kraemer Yarns' Jeannie, a wool/nylon sock-weight yarn that could be ordered au natural. These turned out pretty bright (especially the neon green one, I was limited by the colors I could mix with an introductory dye pack), but they're still quite attractive. At least...I think so! Sock yarn is a pretty safe way to experiment because you can get a whole pair out of a single skein. I knit a lot of socks (who doesn't?) and thus this is a win-win situation.

The other nice thing was that having all this sock yarn (and the need for knitted samples so I could show classes what their dye work would look like) forced me to knit lots of pairs of socks. In so doing, I discovered many details that comprise my ideal sock. No two pairs are alike, but by the third pair I was thoroughly satisfied with the design. Factors included length of cuff, ribbing placement on top of foot, toe shaping, heel method, etc. I'm just a little OCD.

Pictured here is my fearless photography supervisor...concentrating as any serious artist should. Most of the photos on this blog are my own, but in the coming days and weeks you'll see more of his photos posted. If you like biking- should I say cycling- check Cyclist 17's photo blog to see what landscapes via bike look like. He's just humoring me by helping with the yarn thing!


by all counts, a festive occasion

My father's birthday sweater, modeled by the recipient himself...on his birthday! The picnic table is also handmade, homemade. Except, well, I didn't make it so I can't take credit for it at all. I can still say it's pretty cool and that we had a delicious birthday dinner served upon it, though. The sweater was perfectly appropriate, especially considering the weather on Sunday- it was cold! So we built a fire and cooked out, plus Dad got to wear the sweater and not be too hot.

It's amazing how quickly knitting gets done when you put yourself (or myself, as this case would be) on a deadline; by limiting myself to this one, singular project for a week, I got an unfinished project out of my closet and my Dad got a sweater that looks great on him and fits well. I still can't say enough about Pure and Simple patterns. Big, big fan.

I also have to thank, again, all my Kniterary Club attendees. You guys are fabulous. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to meet everyone and share ideas; I'm sure we will meet again and I can't wait to see what everybody will be working on. I really couldn't come up with ideas without inspiration from knitters around me! So, although the group itself is on hold for a while, I still feel like Sunday was a great day to celebrate birthdays, new friends, knitting, and spring. (That of course means sparklers.)


the first 100 days

If you remember, this scarf was featured on my very first post. I wrote a little about the knitting and techniques that went into its design, but it's extremely difficult to photograph properly because it's so long! Finally, pictures that show the entire scarf.

I know the Obama-mania has died down some, and I also realize the dangers in knitting a dated object. However, I wanted to knit something to commemorate the historic election and an administration I was legitimately excited about. (For anyone who doesn't agree with my politics, it's still a pretty cool scarf and I don't mean to offend anyone.)

As far as knitting goes, this is knit double (meaning both sides at once), and the scarf is totally reversible. I used worsted-weight wool, combining Plymouth Galway and Cascade 220 to get the right colors. I charted the entire thing out before I started knitting, thinking that, in doing so, I would reduce the opportunity for error. Well...no...designing is inherently frustrating, but I would not wish this chart on anybody. Knitting the design on one side was hard enough, but reversing it on the other side at the same time was just ridiculous. I don't know if I would wish this upon anybody! But you bet I'll be wearing it no matter what year...if only because it's one of my proudest knitting acheivements...but I really hope it will be to show continued support of our administration. I still think that yes, we can.


test of endurance

It's done! The sweater is done.
I did it with three days to spare, I am ecstatic that I can move on to the many projects that I've been thinking about (whilst knitting this sweater grudgingly and wishing I could be knitting any number of them instead).
Just wait till Sunday when I actually have time to start these projects in earnest- the combination of new knitting and coffee equals euphoria.


a sad announcement

Well, it's been a great couple of weeks for the Kniterary Club group...we've been meeting since March 1st at Old Village Yarn Shop. Sadly, this weekend (May 17th) will be our final gathering. Of course, my blog will go on...as will the concept and practice of Kniterary Club. It might relocate, recalibrate, re-think knitting and art, but there will always be large quantities of amazing yarn and always, always there will be coffee.

Above is a picture from May 3rd's Kniterary Club. I had received a request for a group project, so I came up with the idea to knit nametags! We all graphed our ideas and then used scrap yarns to knit them. I am always astonished to see how different people react to the challenge and how they realize their ideas. (It's also my philosophy that nothing can go wrong when you have a 50-pack of Crayola markers to share, either.)

See everybody on Sunday. Let's knit.


we rarely practice discern

It was so pretty I couldn't help myself. Several weeks I've been admiring this yarn (Berroco's Mica, of previous omg-gushing post), and finally I have my hands on lots of it. This time it's the creamy off-white color, shown here gleaming in the morning sun. My love affair for this yarn is so bad that I walk by and pick it up, admire it, marvel at it, then set it down and walk away dreaming of all the things I could knit with it. Since I'm trying so so hard to be good and knit only one thing at a time, I put this away in my closet to knit later.

As Annie said this weekend, "Caitlin, you called yourself out!" on the sweater below...it's only just begun...I have resolved to finish ALL the projects I have lying around. This is partially because they just need to get done and partially because I'm OCD and want half-finished knitting projects gone. This doesn't apply to current, active projects...just projects that I've stuffed away in my closet, in baskets, et cetera.

So far the sweater challenge is progressing: sleeve #1 is done, collar is done, sleeve #2 = 3" knitted, buttons purchased. 6 days.


hey, look! an unfinished project.

Look what I found!

Yeah, it's a mostly-finished sweater that really had no business sitting around as long as it did. I started this, like, two years ago now? That means I've packed this sweater up and moved it twice. This is unacceptable, and here's why (oddly enough, these are the same reasons it was never actually finished): it's easy to knit, all stockinette; it's a gift and SHOULD have been done within a reasonable time frame; and I'm not changing anything in the pattern, not a single thing! Wtf, right? Sometimes I really puzzle myself.

Here's the challenge: get this done by May 17th. 10 days!

Yarn used is Samoa, a half acrylic, half cotton blend by Muench Yarns. Normally I don't enjoy knitting with cotton, it just doesn't feel as nice as wool, alpaca, llama, etc. I feel my hands and arms getting more tired when I knit with it. The pattern is Pure and Simple's Neckdown Henley, as always P&S delivers a simple, user-friendly pattern that yields a very wearable garment (I don't mean that in the bland way that it sounds...P&S just provides great patterns for wardrobe basics, so even if you're a beginner you'll end up with a great sweater that you'll wear instead of hiding it away in your closet).

Wish me luck as I alternately drag my feet and knit furiously for the next few days.


feliz cinco de mayo!

Here are a couple leaves that I knit up the other day...since these two I've knit at least five more. It's easy to knit one up in just a few minutes and there's something so pleasing about them, I can't stop myself from chain-knitting leaves. This raised the inevitable question from my friends and knitting cohorts- "what are you going to do with all those?" It's a perfectly valid question since I often knit things just because I can without having an application for such things.

The yarn I used is Berroco's Ultra Alpaca Fine, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It's a fingering weight alpaca/wool/nylon blend, nice enough to use in larger projects but still fantastic for socks. This yarn is a steal, too- it's only $10!

So what am I going to do with my fantastic alpaca leaves? Well, it's a surprise...but...it's going to involve the yarn pictured above. The brown is fair trade Eco Cotton from Debbie Bliss, the mustard color is Mulberry Silk by Louisa Harding. And those buttons...I have a weakness for buttons. They're going to be involved for sure.