Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blast From the Past (or what is the opposite of blocking?)

Have I mentioned that I love old yarn labels?

A couple of weeks ago, my friends in Sumter County sent me a large box of yarn they found while doing some cleaning (along with a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card that I managed to turn into two knitting books.)

Tonight I decided it was time to pull out some of the acrylic for a charity project my knitting group is participating in. The box was sitting right there, and I grabbed a couple of skeins and started looking at the labels.

Some of the yarn in the box is quite new (there's a ball Bernat Eyelash in there.) But some if these are obviously part of someone's stash from long ago.

I think my favorite is the Wintuk label. Caron now owns Wintuk. So either at one point Caron was named "Wonder Art" (which used to be Gold Bell, according to the label) or Wintuk has been sold a couple of times. I also like the fact that the label proudly states "100% DuPont Orlon Acrylic." as if it were some fancy space age material. I also love the Eckerd's price tag. I think CVS bought out Eckerd's a couple of years ago, but more importantly, when was the last time you saw a drugstore selling yarn?

But the best part of the Wintuk label is the directions for "automatic blocking." Apparently, this refers to the fact that after drying, the yarn will snap back into shape. Isn't that actually the opposite of blocking?

The other Sayelle yarns are apparently branded to the stores they were sold at, including TG&Y and K-mart. They also tout the "Orlon" acrylic, and the yellow skein also talks about automatic blocking. I guess you really can't block acrylic (although I've tried.) And this was once a selling point.

The box also included someone's abandoned UFO (or possibly a couple.) There are some crocheted granny squares and the beginnings of a ripple afghan, all in white. I may try to finish it someday. I did that once when I was 12 with an old granny square afghan that belonged to my great grandmother. I gave it to my grandmother as a gift. When she passed away, I think my cousin took it (I couldn't bear to bring it home with me.) I'll have to see if I can find a picture of it.

I may keep these skeins for another project (I think the white goes with the UFOs anyway) and use the more recent looking brown yarn for the charity project. (I think it may be simply soft. The label is missing.)

In Ravelry news, there are only 262 people ahead of me in line. We're getting closer!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Morrigan Yarn Candidates

I've been obsessing about Rowan Calmer and the Morrigan sweater from "No Sheep For You." I went to HCW on Saturday and the staff was nice enough to make some recommendations (even though I told them I wasn't ready to purchase any.) But I'm still stuck on Calmer. I read the review of Calmer on Knitter's Review and it just seems so perfect. And I want really crisp stitch definition, nothing that will fuzz up.

Glenda from knitting group said there was a sale on Calmer at an eBay shop. (And now that I've posted it, watch it sell out.) But I'm not sure how I feel about the colors, and I don't think I can afford to buy it now (and it may sell out/expire before I can make a purchase.) Also, Nicki pointed out that if I buy it from Webs I'd get 25% off.

I've decided against the multiple dye lots I pondered earlier. I don't want to risk it on a sweater that will require this much work.

So here are the candidates I plan to swatch:

Rowan Calmer - 21 sts per 4 inches
174.978 yards per ball
25 balls = 4,374.45 yards
25 balls at $11.95 a ball = $298.75
25 balls at 25% off = $224.07
25 balls at $6.50 a ball = $162.50 plus shipping from the UK = $190.50

The yarn recommended by the pattern, and they had a hell of a time finding a non-sheep yarn to use. Very comfy.

RYC Cashsoft DK - 22 sts per 4 inches
142 yards per ball
30 balls = 4,260 yards
30 balls at $8.50 = $255
30 balls at 25% off = $191.25

Still pretty pricey, and how will it hold up as far as stitch definition?

Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK - 22 sts per 4 inches
136 yards per ball
31 balls = 4,216 yards
31 balls at $8.50 = $263.50
31 balls at $4.49 (Webs sale price) = $139.19

It's a good deal at Webs on close out. But again, can I afford it before it sells out, and what about stitch definition.

Karabella Yarns Aurora 4 - 22 sts per 4 inches
197 yards per ball
22 balls = 4,334 yards
22 balls at $8.50 = $187

Again, stitch definition and merino?

Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool - 22 sts per 4 inches
192 yards per ball
22 balls = 4,224 yards
22 balls at $7 = $154
22 balls at 25% off ($6.95 is the Webs price) = $114.68

Normally I wouldn't have considered this one, but the staff at HCW said someone brought in an FO out of this and they were amazed by the crisp stitch definition. And it's pretty cheap. I still wonder about the texture of the yarn.

Knitpicks Telemark - 24 sts per 4 inches
103 yards per ball
42 balls = 4,326 yards
42 balls at $1.99 = $83.58

Will it be scratchy?

Knitpicks Merino Style - 22 sts per 4 inches
123 yards per ball
35 balls = 4,305 yard
35 balls at $2.49 = $87.15

Again, stitch definition and merino?

Knitpicks Swish DK - 22 sts per 4 inches
123 yards per ball
35 balls = 4,305
35 balls at $3.29 = $115.15

I think the superwash treatment may actually help with the stitch definition, but will it be scratchy, and will it hold up?

Even if I go with the cheaper yarn, I may still go the route of waiting for Christmas and my birthday and ask everyone for gift certificates to fund this sweater.

I decided that 25 balls is a safe number, because I may need to make it a bit longer and larger than the pattern. At HCW we discussed using a larger gauge for a bigger sweater, but I decided against it. I think the small gauge is part of what makes it so impressive.

And honestly, I do want to impress people. That's one of my goals. But most of all, I want to challenge myself. And it is a nice sweater.

I'm still accepting advice, ideas and pictures of anyone who has made Morrigan out of a different yarn. That's why I need Ravelry. I could check this out on there.

Speaking of, Ravelry invited more people since my last post. Only 522 in front of me now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Knitting Meme

I could resist a silly Knitting Meme. It will be fun to repost in 6 months or a year to see if I have more stuff in bold.

Bold for stuff I've done/am doing
Italics for stuff I plan to do someday
Normal for stuff I'm not planning on doing

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up

Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Entrelac Knitting
Purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed Toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

In Ravelry invite news, there are only 592 people in line in front of me, as of now. At this rate, I should get an invite late this week.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Musings on Rowan Calmer

So I got No Sheep For You in April and even took Amy Singer's No Sheep class at HCW. I fell in love with several patterns, and while I was initially drawn to the colorwork in Bacardi and Intoxicating, I find myself going back to the tiny, intense cables in Morrigan. (I found a picture on Flickr.)

At the class, Amy said the only non-sheep yarn they could get to work with the pattern was Rowan Calmer.

Rowan Calmer is awesome. And expensive. And for my size it will take 20 balls. At least. (Amy said some people may want to make it a bit longer.)

So I've been trolling e-bay for cheap bags of Rowan. And the closest I've found is 5 balls in a deep purple.

My question is, if I buy a ball or two here and there, on sale, in different dye lots, will anyone really be able to tell the difference? I know when you have different dye lots, you're supposed to alternate them every row two so it's hard to tell. But I really don't want to do that. I can rarely tell the difference between dye lots in commercial yarns, but some claim they can. And for something that will take this much work, I'd hate to ruin it with obvious dye lot differences.

I could also try a sheepish yarn. Something cheaper. If I'm going to buy a lot of calmer, I could use it for one of the designs floating in my head. (And it'd be great for a summer top.) But it would be awesome to make this sweater in Calmer. It's so soft, easy to work with and not itchy.

I'm looking for advice and alternate yarn suggestions and yarn sources. Something with the same "spronginess." Please comment.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Knitnapping" - Now this is just sad...

I got this e-mail from Hill Country Weavers this evening:


Well we haven't either and we need your help. Sadly over the last few years many of our handknitted samples have gone A.W.O.L., M.I.A., hasta la vista baby or basically STOLEN.

WE NEED YOUR HELP, so we are appealing to our HCW friends to help us by keeping an EYE out for any KNITNAPPING! In additional to this we ask that you begin using the FRONT ENTRANCE to the store as we will be keeping the side entrance locked. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Now that's just sad. I sincerely hope people aren't actually stealing, and that it's just a misunderstanding.

And I must remember to use the front door next time. (I always use the side.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Things that cut into my yarn budget: The Dentist Part Two

So last week I had the heck drilled out of the upper left side of my mouth. Today I had the lower right side of my mouth drilled. Now I'm sore on both sides. At least I'm symmetrical.

But actually I'm not. While the dentist did grind down last week's fillings (which I think is the reason why I'm still sore about a week and a half after my last appointment) I think the same thing needs to be done on the right side.

You know when the dentist makes you bite down on the little piece of purple paper, looks for the purple spots and grinds them down? That's important. I know because I've had problems with this several times. And after a while, dentists usually say it's my imagination, and finally listen when I come back a couple of weeks later in pain. At least this dentist is better. I think the problem was that I was too numb to tell (especially today.) I could barely find the paper to bite down. I suspected this would happened and asked if I could come back if there were any problems. He said to come in tomorrow, because he's about to go on vacation for a week. And I'd know as soon as I got the feeling back in my mouth if it was going to be a problem.

It's a problem.

I feel that telltale pressure on the right side when I bite down that eventually turns into pain (aside from the giant-Novocaine-needle-in-my-gum pain that lasts for a couple of days.

But it doesn't hurt as much as my pocket book. $139 for this visit. I used the $9 I had left on the MasterCard Gift Card I won at work, and the other $130 came from my bank account, canceling out my bonus and then some. At least Ibuprofen is cheap.

And the dentist recognized me right away as the knitter. He said he actually knitted a bag once in shop class (yeah, I think he was confused.) He was amazed at how knitters can get clothing to be the right size. I said "practice," which isn't much of an answer. (There are entire books devoted to that topic. It's a bit hard to explain briefly to the non-knitter.) A little later I realized that a brief explanation of gauge would have probably shed some light on the subject, but by then I had a mouth full of tools.

He compared it to making vinyl flooring fit in a room. I think that would be easier than making a sweater fit. But then again, you can't uncut vinyl flooring, but you can unravel a sweater.

And more bad news. The tooth with the hole I mentioned in the other entry? The dentist thinks he may have "nicked" the nerve because the hole was so deep. He said there was a 50/50 chance that I would need a root canal. I would know if I started feeling more tooth pain in a month or two.

In less painful news, there are only 1,043 people ahead of me on the Ravelry waiting list.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

FO: Project Linus Baby Blanket

As I predicted last night, I finished knitting my blanket for Project Linus before I went to bed. However, it took two episodes of Stash and Burn today to finish weaving in the ends.

As I mentioned last week I used six skeins of Red Heart Bright and Lofty (100% acrylic), two in bubblegum, two in Grape Crush and two in Ocean. I used size 11 needles (as I have a loose gauge, most of you would probably need bigger needles.)

I actually modified a "pattern" my knitting group is using for afghan squares for another charity project. Basically, I cast on...how many did I cast on? Not very much. Anyway, I just worked garter stitch and increased (kfb) at the beginning of each row, (changing colors every three rows) until I had used up half the yarn (it seemed like it was about right.) Then I started decreasing (k2tog) at the end of each row until I had only a couple of stitches left. Then I cast off.

So all I need to do now is contact my local Project Linus chapter and drop it off. I've gotten all sorts of compliments from non-knitters on the beautiful, soft yarn. I think other knitters may look down upon my choice. Either way, I think some little kid will love it, and it is sturdy and machine washable (as required by Project Linus.)

In Ravelry waiting list news, there are only 1,448 people in front of me as of right now. Slow and steady.

Knervous Knitting

I recently read this blog post by Judy at Persistent Illusion about knitting as a "nervous habit." I just had my own experience with knitting as a nervous habit.

It was Friday, and I was looking forward to a relaxing evening with a long bath, knitting, internet, television, etc. And on my way home, I realized I needed gas. The last time I went to Bluebonnet I had tried to fill up, but the pump wouldn't take my debit card. I finally gave up and decided to just go home and fill up later.

Well, I pushed too far, barely managing to pull into a parking lot as I ran out of gas. The nearest gas station a couple of miles away.

I debated what to do for a minute. I would have just started walking, but it was a long way, and leaving my car parked in a precarious spot while I embarked on a journey by foot to a gas station at least 2 miles way seemed like a bad idea.

I finally gave up and called my parents. Admitting to them that I managed to do this for the second time this year was worse than being stranded. Factor in my mad Dad having to drive across town in rush hour traffic, and we had an unpleasant encounter coming.

I guy named Chris, a stranger at the glass place nearby, helped me move my car out of the way and got me gas, but my car still wouldn't start. By that point he had done way more than a stranger should be expected, so I called Dad again.

And then I knitted.

I had been working on my mystery project, but I didn't feel like reading charts, so I got out the Project Linus blanket and got to work. It really calmed me down.

Long story short, I got a lot of work done, Dad had calmed down by the time he showed up (it turned out all I needed was even more gas to get going again.) It did ruin that Friday afternoon euphoria, and I wasn't in the best of moods when I got home 2 hours after work let out.

So now that I've done this much work on the blanket (I did more while waiting for a table at a restaurant and at my parent's house today) I'm going to try to finish it tonight. Expect another FO soon.

In other news, as of right now, there are only 1,524 people ahead of me on the Ravelry waiting list. They keep making progress but I still feel just like that poor Alpaca. (At least I think it's an Alpaca.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Needlemania from Across the Pond...

I stopped by Joann after work today, thinking a bout settling for the not quite perfect color of Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky that I wrote about earlier. I noticed as soon as I walked in the door some coupons that would get me 50% off the yarn. So I decided to wait.

However, I did decide to take advantage of some clearance items, including several pairs of knitting needles.

You can keep your rosewoods. I love metal needles. Usually the Boye needles are just fine with me. I may splurge on some Addis every now again. (Although I wish I had waited to get Knit Picks Options rather than the
Boye Needlemaster set.)

At any rate, some of the Joann brand needles were marked down to 97 cents a pair ($1.97 for the US 35 pair.) I decided this was a great chance to fill in some gaps in my straight needle collection with these metal needles (coated in some sort of plastic, I believe.)

Boy did I fill in some gaps. The US 35's and the US 13's were nothing special. But look closely at these needles. I picked up a needles gauge, and discovered the 7 mm needles (the straight ones on the left) aren't equivalent to any US sizes (they are a size 2 UK). The dpns on the far right are size 7.5 mm, which once again is not on the US chart. (those are a UK size 1). And to be really confusing, the middle set of dpns are US 2.5 (3 mm). Is that a standard size?

What is with US sizes? There is a big jump between US 10 and US 11 (which explains why there are always US 10.5 needles out there.) Wouldn't just going by millimeters easier?

It reminds me of my sixth grade science class when the teacher asked us why America stuck with it's measurement system while the rest of the world went metric. People talked about how hard it is to convert. The teacher kept saying it was the same for the rest of the world, and they converted. The point is, there is no good answer. Which probably explains are knitting needles.

The cashier said I could use the needles for European patterns. Of course, my gauge is so screwy, They'll probably come n handy on American patterns. Besides, for 97 cents, it's worth it as a conversation piece.

Another update: I checked Ravelry. There are 1,721 people ahead of me know. Apparently, the folks at Ravelry are having a long night.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I made the Hand Dyed Yarn Swap

I got home from Bluebonnet tonight and was psyched to discover that I made the cut for the Hand Dyed Yarn Swap. I read about it in a comment on Amy's blog. I've been wanting to dye some yarn, and this sounds like a great introduction.

I think they still may take one or two more people. It filled up pretty fast.

In other news, I checked Ravelry. The list hasn't moved since yesterday. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Steve, Don't Eat the Crochet!

I recently started using Google Feed Reader to keep track of all the blogs out there. Right now, I only have 2 non-knitting blogs up. One of them is The Sneeze.

Imagine my delight when I saw that Steve's entry today was about crochet. He has a bunch of pictures of crocheted food and other items by someone named Nicole. There are a bunch more pictures on Nicole's Flickr page.

According to her Flickr page, she only knows one stitch. That's pretty impressive work for just single crochet. (I think there is some plastic canvas needlepoint in there as well.)

On the entry, Steve says he wants her to crochet him a robot. (He likes robots. A lot.) I think he should learn to crochet or knit and make his own robot. And he should check out this site to see some knitted robots. Maybe he should hold a contest for the best knit or crocheted robot. The winner would get to choose the next Steve Don't Eat It food. I would make him eat one of Nicole's creations.

I wonder what he would think of my adult themed creation.

Movin' on Up...

Ravelry continues to make progress. There are only 1,792 people ahead of me today. (And the line behind me keeps growing. If you're not on the waiting list, you better sign up quick!)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things that cut into my yarn budget: The Dentist: Part One

So a couple of weeks ago, I won a $200 MasterCard prepaid gift card in an incentives contest at work. What was I going to spend this on? So many yarns to choose from...

But I had to spend it on my teeth.

I'm trying not to look at it as "wasting" my prize, but being lucky enough to receive some much needed help paying for the dental work. After all, I won the thing the day after a cleaning and exam. At the exam, I found out that I was about to max out my dental insurance for the year to get neglected cavities filled.

About this time last year, I had to get a bridge. At the time I new I had lots of "little" cavities to take care of as well. But I was dealing with other health problems, and they were forgotten.

Until a piece of tooth broke off last April. Right before my new dental insurance kicked in.

So today I spent $191 of my gift card getting the upper left portion of my mouth worked on. I'm still numb (but it's wearing off, and now I'm starting to feel sore from all the Novocaine shots.)

And that's just part of it. I have another appointment next week that will cost about $140. And another after that that will be in the $180 range. Actually, I could do the right side in one sitting, but I can't pay that much at once.

At any rate, I did get to leave work early and spend time in the chair working on the blanket for Project Linus. It amazed the assistants. One said she was just learning to knit, and I recommended Knitting Help. The other said she learned how to crochet "circles" when she was younger. She was amazed by the yarn and had all sorts of questions.

The dentist seemed amused. He thought he was insulting me when he said I could knit while my brain was still numb from all the Novocaine he gave me (I'm hard to numb.) I took it as a compliment. After all, at this point, I probably can knit with one lobe tied behind my back.

In other news, I just checked Ravelry. Only 1,862 people ahead of me today. They're making progress!

PS- Don't forget to floss. I know I won't.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Finally! Some Word From Ravelry

I heard (or rather overheard) about Ravelry from a group at HCW in the beginning of June. Ravelry is perhaps the most comprehensive knitting and crochet community on the web. I could hardly wait to sign up.

Of course, there is a waiting list. I signed up the first week of June. I was being patient, but I kept hearing from people in my knitting groups getting their invitations. I found myself anxiously checking my e-mail everyday, hoping an invite had arrived.

I decided to check on the site today on the web. Apparently I'm not the only one who was wondering. You can now check your position in line.

As of now there are 2,075 people in front of me, which isn't so bad when you consider that 8,884 people are behind me in line.

The blog also expects it to open up to the public in the next 4-5 weeks. So hopefully it won't be too much longer either way.

PS - Don't forget to floss! I know I won't.

Adventures in Cheap Yarn

Once upon a time, a few weeks ago, I almost lost my job. Long story short, my department narrowly avoided lay-offs.

After that, I felt like I needed to do something to give back. So I made a small donation to a local charity, and I decided to knit a blanket for Project Linus.

I was confident that I could make an awesome blanket out of stash yarn, because I have so much cheap practical yarn in my stash. After much debate, I realized that I had a lot of yarns that were good candidates, but none of them were going to work very well together. So I pulled out the skein of Red Heart Bright and Lofty I had in Grape Crush. This was the first yarn I bought at the Sumter County Walmart when I started knitting again in 2004 for the first time since elementary school. Apparently, I had a skein leftover.

So I went to Walmart again (this time an Austin Walmart) and bought two more skeins of the yarn, one in Bubblegum and one in Ocean. I thought thought surely this was enough for a kiddie blanket. And the blanket would still be one third stash yarn.

But as I approached the halfway point, it became clear I would need more. At least it'd be one sixth stash yarn. So I went back to Walmart and bought a skein of Ocean and a skein of Bubblegum...and couldn't find Grape Crush.

I looked at another Walmart, Michaels Hobby Lobby and Joann. No luck. I couldn't even find Bright and Lofty at Michaels, Joann and the Hobby Lobby in North Austin.

So I stopped by the Hobby Lobby in South Austin while I was in the neighborhood yesterday. And there, hiding on the bottom shelf, was Bright in Lofty in Grape Crush.

It was on clearance. Yet it was "New!"as well. I have a feeling it had been there a long time.

They also had one of my favorite practical yarns, Wool Ease Chunky. I don't mean the worsted. I don't mean the Thick and Quick. Chunky. And, as usual, the color selection sucked.

Wool Ease Chunky doesn't get the credit it deserves. It is overshadowed by the Thick and Quick. In fact, I've seen stores get the two confused in ads.

Which is a shame, because Wool Ease Chunky is awesome. It is faster than the Wool Ease Worsted, yet it is not nearly as bulky, making it much more practical.

So, to recap for all you purveyors of practical yarn:

1. Wool Ease Chunky is different than Wool Ease Thick and Quick.

2. Wool Ease Chunky is awesome, and it needs to be easier to find in more colors.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub Continued...

So if you read this entry, you know that I have been debating how to wash my Cherry Bomb Tank Top. I had a woolwash sample, but it contained lanolin, which didn't sound like a good idea. I used Katia Jamaica on this top, which is 100% cotton.

So after consulting with knitters in real life in real life and on the web, I was truly confused. I had heard that the yarn bleeds from one person. Some said lanolin was bad for cotton. Others said it wasn't.

I finally decided baby shampoo was a good choice. But I was still nervous. So I sat down at last week's Chicks with Sticks at Bluebonnet and to cast on a swatch about 3 months after I completed the tank top. I started casting on, and we started talking. Someone noticed it was the same yarn I used on the top, and I explained what I was doing. I got more mixed advice. But what sold me was the fact that someone had made a washcloth out of the same yarn in a similar colorway. She had thrown it in the washer without problems.

So after that I was sold. I ripped out my cast on and moved onto something else.

So today I finally got around to washing it. I used the baby shampoo and lukewarm water. As you can see, it didn't run.

And also, you can see from the other picture that it needed to be washed. That is the water after being soaked for a couple of minutes. At least there is no dye in the water.

However, I think I used too much shampoo. The biggest problem I had was rinsing. I went by the directions on Knitters Review. It says to rinse until the water runs clear. So I rinsed. And rinsed again. And again. And again. And again...

The article recommended rinsing with a splash of white vinegar to get out the soapy residue if you use shampoo.

I actually happened to have some on hand because I use it to clean the bunny cage.

I was a little nervous about using the vinegar, but I was feeling brave. I used on two of the rinses. But it still seemed soapy. Of course, I have this whole paranoid thing about rinsing. Whether it's my hair or dishes (when I actually do dishes) I'm always worried that it's still soapy. But I thought maybe I was worrying too much, and a little bit of baby shampoo wouldn't hurt.

The good news was the vinegar didn't hurt the tank top. No running. Even after I did more massaging and squeezing than recommended.

When I finally gave up on rinsing, the water looked like this:

Does that look clear to you? I saw a couple of soap bubbles on top.

Now I've got it all laid out to block. It barley fit on the table:

I just pinned down the bottom edge. The bottom edge has always been a little curly, mainly because I was too impatient to do a full blocking when I finished. This should help.

Anyway, we'll see how it is tomorrow. Hopefully the edges that are hanging over the table won't be as stiff as a board.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Things that cut into my yarn budget: Helping the LBJ Band

I was planning this little feature for a while, expecting stuff like dentist and vet bills to be in this spot.

But it ended up being something that made me sad and angry, not because of the money I spent, but because of what happened.

For four years I was a proud member of the one, the only LBJ Band at LBJ High School in Austin, TX. I spent some of the happiest times in my life in that band, and met friends I still have to this day. I hauled a both a bass drum and a snare drum around the marching field (not at the same time though.) I participated in UIL and solo and ensemble. I practiced hard. I traveled to London and Disney World. With all that has happened to me since I graduated from LBJ in 1998, sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel that type of happiness, pride and accomplishment I felt when I was part of that band.

So today my Mom told me that a lot of their equipment was stolen. I didn't realize the magnitude of the loss until I read this article in the Austin American Statesman. Apparently they lost $12,000 worth of equipment, and insurance won't cover it all. Among the equipment stolen was the on field sound system. I have no idea how they will conduct marching practice with out that sound system. And I'm sure summer band starts in a matter of weeks.

So I'm not writing to complain about the small amount I donated online. I'm writing in hopes some of you out there will read this and donate as well. If you were in a high school band, if you've ever played an instrument, if there is a time in your life you long to revisit, I think you'll understand.

The LBJ Band is taking donations via paypal on the band's website.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Saving the Amazing Technicolor Disaster

Hopefully, I have turned a total disaster into something... interesting.

Once upon a time, about a year and a half ago, I discovered Recycled Sari Silk on E-Bay and I fell in love with it. I decided to make a nice comfy jacket out of it and I ended up buying an obscene amount of it. (In my defense, I ended up paying less than $3 per skein for yarn that retails in the $15 per skein neighborhood.)

I borrowed my Mom's copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Around" and decided to make the bog coat. An Amazing Technicolor Bog Coat. (Knit and Tonic has a nice explanation of it here.)

However, this whole project was ill conceived. For starters I didn't account for how saggy, bulky and heavy the knitted fabric would be. Combined with a coat pattern with no shaping and a small gauge (even with my loose gauge, size six needles were way too small) it was shaping up to be a complete disaster.

This project has been long languishing, getting pulled out in between projects for a couple of those long rows. The yarn itself, while beautiful, is very demanding. I probably spent as much time picking out vegetation and un-kinking the stuff as I did knitting. Sometimes, I could hold the yarn taut and pluck it and see a little cloud of dust. Recycled Sari Silk is made in Nepal. The threads are swept off the floor of sari factories and are spun into yarn. (There is a more in-depth explanation is here.) I still say it was worth it. The yarn is so beautiful. And it is supposed to get much softer after washing.

I started coming to my senses when I pulled it out at a knitting group and started getting compliments on my beautiful throw. I started thinking that maybe I should make it a throw. I had knitted some waste yarn (the lime green) where I was supposed to form the sleeves. I just have to weave in some matching (and matching is relative when you knit recycled sari silk) yarn where the lime green was.

So today I was back at Chicks with Sticks at Bluebonnet, between projects, with my giant sari silk rectangle. I was asking the throw or jacket question, when someone mentioned that it would make a great shawl. That's when everything clicked. It was the perfect size for a shawl just as it was. After a bit of discussion, I started binding off.

After I bound off, I did a little photo (please excuse the poor lighting.) I'm not calling it an FO yet. I started removing that waste yarn (which is difficult when the yarn keeps breaking) and I have more ends to weave in. Also, I want to wash it. (This time I'll probably have to clean the bathtub instead of the bathroom sink.)

At any rate, I think I made the right decision. Even on me, even with generous ease, I had made the jacket way too big. Probably by 6-12 inches in width.

Besides, I've always wanted to make a shawl. Apparently I started one a year and a half ago.

And I can still use it as a throw.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


If you read my last entry you know that I did some hand washing recently. And if you know me, you are probably shocked. Because I rarely clean anything. I'm too lazy busy. It's all about priorities.

But, with serious plans for Claudia Hand Painted yarn, and my Cherry Bomb Tank Top in desperate need of washing, I decided to take drastic action.

The first order of business was to clean my bathroom sink. Keep in mind I've only been in this apartment for about 2 months and I'm still moving in.



That was step one. The next step was to find the sample bottle of Kookaburra Woolwash I had picked up at some point. So I looked...

And I looked...

And I looked...

And I was about to give up when I found it.

I was a bit concerned about using "wool" wash on a top made out of a 100% cotton (Katia Jamaica). After some looking, I discovered that Kookaburra has lanolin in it, which didn't sound like a very good idea for cotton. I finally decided to skip the tank top and just wash my swatch.

The directions said about 1 teaspoon per gallon. Does that look about right?

I ended up adding a little more. It didn't feel very soapy. But I read suds doesn't necessarily equal clean.

I swished it once or twice in the water and let it soak. No bleeding, which is good for hand painted yarn. I soaked it in rinse water a couple of times and dried overnight.

So now I stuck wondering what to do about my tank. I was surprised that Amy Singer didn't go into more depth on washing cotton in No Sheep For You. However, she does stress the importance of swatching and washing swatches. Before you commit to a sweater. Someone online also recommended the swatch. *sigh* Am I going to have to post-swatch? The good news is that I have almost an entire skein of the yarn leftover. The bad news is I'm going to have to waste use it on a swatch after I finished the sweater.

The other bad news: at least one other person online told me that Katia Jamaica bleeds.

Well, I bought some lavender baby shampoo, and it looks like I'll be swatching some more. We'll see what happened.

(Added bonus: Eucalan offers free wool wash samples when you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)

Swatch: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, Sport Weight

After much debate, I came home from the Hill Country Weavers sale on Thursday with some Claudia Hand Painted Yarn (sport weight.) One skein in "Circus Dancer" was put aside for swatching and a small project, like a hat.

Because I have a more involved project for the rest. I decided to do the whole thing and even wash the swatch. I cast on 24 stitch and worked a portion in stockinette stitch and a portion in garter stitch. I used size 2 needles from my Boye Needlemaster set. I was at my knitting group when I did it, and I was worried about it being too loose. (Again with my loose gauge.) I think it was because I had to make the Knucks so tight. In the ends I ended up with 6 stitches per inch (Officially 24 stitches and 34 rows per 4 inches)

Then I washed the swatch in Kookaburra Wool Wash. The wet swatch is on top and the dry swatch is on the bottom.

I couldn't really tell the difference. Between the two. The gauge stayed the same. It is a bit softer. I don't know if there was bloom officially. I couldn't really tell.

Anyway, I'll put this aside for later. I bought two more colors I plan to use. The dark one is "Argyle Socks" and the lighter one is "Just Plum."

This is the last time you will see them. I have top secret design plans for these yarns.

So I actually swatched and did the whole washing thing. Amy Singer recommends keeping a swatch diary. For now, I post them on my blog. On my livejournal, I already have a swatch for Patons Classic Merino (felted.)

Hill Country Yarns....but not in the Hill Country?

Through some online surfing, I recently discovered Hill Country Yarns. Which, as the name implies, are hand-dyed in the Hill Country. (If you aren't local, this wikipedia entry seems to give a pretty accurate explanation of the Texas Hill Country.) The colorways are very Texas, including Pecan Orchard, Cowboy, Bluebonnet, Sand Stone, Indian Stone and - of course, Hook 'Em Horns and Gig ' Em Aggies.

This yarn is now on my list of yarns to buy very soon (budget permitting.) I'm all about handpainted yarns right now, and a name can easily sell me on a colorway.

But what bothered me was where you can buy the yarn. The only online retailer listed is Discount Yarn Sale. The yarn shops that sell it are in Katy, Texas (near Houston), Dallas and... Colorado and Missouri?

There are no places in Central Texas to buy Hill Country Yarns?

Hill Country Weavers doesn't carry Hill Country Yarns? Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe doesn't carry the Bluebonnet colorway?

It seems to be a new company, but come on guys, step it up!

Advertising and Ethics

You may have noticed the Google Ad Sense ads at the bottom of the blog. I've been debating ways to make a couple of extra bucks off the blog, possibly through affiliate programs. But I have some concerns about ads and fair content. I don't want people thinking that I am talking about certain yarns in an effort to make money. So for now, I'll stick with some safe, randomly generated Google ads. These ads are random, and I do not personally endorse anything listed in the ads.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

FO: Knucks

So I have my first FO (finished object for those who don't know the lingo) for my new blog.

Wednesday I was off from work for the Independence Day. It was rainy, so I spent most of the day hanging out at my parents house finishing my Knucks. I made a pair last for a Christmas gift last year and had been waiting for an opportunity to make my own pair.

I used Rowan Classic Yarn (RYC) Silk Wool DK in "Velvet Purple" (#307) and Size 1 dpns. (Eep!) I know, if you don't know me, you would think using size one needles on DK yarn is ridiculous, but you will soon learn that my gauge is extremely loose. (Insert your own joke about being a loose woman.) It took me two balls, and I have most of the second ball leftover.

If you follow the link to the Knucks pattern, you'll see some pictures of intricate embroidery. I didn't do that. The chain stitch lettering was hard enough. The lettering is a bit wonky, and some of the letters on the "KNIT" hand are off center. I had to twist them around to get them in the picture. I considered re-doing some of the letters, but I think it's close enough for me.

There was some concern about the color of embroidery floss showing up, especially in the pictures. I considered outlining the lettering with another color, but now that I have downloaded the photos, I think they show up pretty well. What do you think?

And why all the emphasis on photos? (Especially when the photo I posted is so crappy?) I plan on making this one of my entries for the Knitty Calendar Contest. I'm saving the good pictures for the contest. I did a little photo shoot with my Mom on Wednesday, but I may take more.

Inaugural Entry

After much time spent playing with the layout, I am finally ready of the inaugural post of Sally Comes Unraveled - The Blog.

So as of today I'm 27 and live in Austin, Texas with my pet rabbit. I work as an "inside sales marketing rep" in a call center, but I dream of making it big in the knitting and crochet world. (Making it big = quitting my day job) I hope this blog will be a vehicle to help me do that, communicate with other knitters, get opinions and advice and keep track of things.

Some obligatory links:

My livejournal which, up until now, was the home of my knitting content, and is still the home of all sorts other personal stuff.

A modest Etsy shop. (I also do a few small time craft shows here and there.)

Lots of pictures, knitting and otherwise, on Flickr

A modest myspace page