Monday, June 27, 2011

Frayed Knot

The yarn is frayed :(

A piece of yarn walks into a bar and orders a beer, but the bartender snarls, "We don't serve your kind here!". The yarn is forced to leave.

While sitting on the curb feeling sorry for himself, the yarn is suddenly hit with a brilliant idea. Working quickly, he ties himself into a knot and unravels his ends. Taking a deep breath, the yarn marches back into the bar and orders a beer.

"Hey!" says the bartender. "Ain't you that piece of yarn I just threw outta here?"

"Nope," replies the yarn, "I'm a frayed knot."

I've heard this one before, but I found this version on the Socknitters Forum. (It was post by someone named "silfert.")

This past week I got a lot of work done on the Epic Adult Surprise Jacket, but I had a problem. The yarn started breaking.

The ball of yarn fell apart

It started with my second ball of Queensland Collection Rustic Wool. I started pulling the ball from the middle. When I started to run out of yarn the ball started falling apart. (See the picture above.) I assumed the first couple of breaks were a fluke, but after the first couple of frays I realized something was wrong. I wondered if the yarn had been in contact with something with something sharp in my yarn bag.

Why is the yarn breaking?

After much spit splicing* I finished off the Rustic Wool and continued with the last little bit of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted leftover from Katie's Le Slouch. This time I started using the yarn from the outside of the ball, and the same thing started happening right away. (You can see some examples above.) The breaks stopped when I got farther into the ball.

Both balls had breaks and frays on the outside part of the ball and not the inside.  And most of the breaks weren't clean breaks. Individual plies had been broken. This leads me to one conclusion...


Here are the facts:

1. Both of these yarns have been in storage since November.

2. They were in plastic tubs, but not in plastic bags within the tubs.

3. They were stored in two different tubs.

4. They're both wool yarns.

5. I've seen silverfish in the unit before.

6. We've been having lots of triple digit days recently, and the unit is not climate controlled.

7. Dad put moth balls all over the unit when we moved my stuff in. This was recommended by the management at the storage unit.

8. Both yarns have been in my stash for at least a couple of years.

I'm seeking input on this issue. We haven't been back to the unit since this discovery. I guess I've been putting it off. I'm also wondering if it could be a different pest, like the silverfish I saw before, or if the yarn is so old that it's disintegrating.

In "The Secret Life of a Knitter", the Yarn Harlot's talks about her battle with moths in her stash. It was an ordeal. She had a complicated system of freezing, thawing, freezing again and inspecting. (I seem to remember a microwave being involved at some point. I could be wrong.)

Like the Yarn Harlot, I have a large amount of yarn. Unlike the Yarn Harlot, I live in a hot and dry climate that rarely has snow (especially in June.) I don't have the option of putting my yarn outside to freeze, as she did. Our freezer is packed, so I can only fit in a skein or two at a time.

I'm planning to start by taking the two tubs that the frayed yarns were stored in out of the storage unit. They will probably get some sort of Yarn Harlot-esque treatment.

Then I'm going to ask Dad to put in more moth balls, even though I hate them. (He puts them outside the tubs, so hopefully they don't stink too much.)

Mom got fresh lavendar for her birthday. I'm considering drying sprigs and putting them in the the tubs themselves.

I know moth balls and lavender won't do much if there's already moths in the yarn. I'm wondering what else I should do. Should take out every tub and "treat" all the yarn? (We're talking about approximately 10 tubs.) And exactly what type of freezing/microwaving type of treatment should I do? Should I bag all the yarns within the tubs?

Can I use your freezer?

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket

Meanwhile, the Epic Adult Surprise Jacket is coming along nicely. I'm at the phases where you only knit the stitches in the middle of the rectangle for a while.

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket

I've done even more since these pictures were taken, including using that Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted with all the breaks.

This is how you try on an Adult Surprise Jacket in progress.

The problem with the Adult Surprise Jacket is that you can't really put on your work in progress to see how it's going to fit. Mom helped me "try on" the jacket while I was lying on the floor. It was great photo op, of course.

I was trying on the jacket because I'm not sure what my desired length is. I'm supposed to go to the next phase when I'm about one inch from my desired length.

The pattern recommends using the length of your favorite sweater, but I don't have a favorite sweater. I may go by the length of my favorite t-shirt. That's why I haven't worked on it for a few days. I need to decide both the length and what color to use next. I'll keep you updated.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this:

A guy walks into a dentist’s office and flops right down on the couch.

“Doc”, he says, “Here’s the problem. I think I’m a moth”

“Well”, says the doctor, “That certainly is a problem, but why did you come into a dentist’s office?”

“The light was on.”


* - I know spit splicing isn't supposed to work with superwash wool yarns like Rustic Wool, but it worked well enough for me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Bites

I'll get back to the title in a moment. I'm going to start with a different bird.

Mom's Owl Potholder

Mom finished crocheting this a couple of days ago. This is Kate Alvis's  Funky Little Owl Potholder, made with dishcloth cotton.

Mom's Daisy Coasters

Then she got on a roll and started looking online for more crochet patterns. This time she found Doni Speigle's Flower Coaster pattern. I think she's planning to make more. They may be gifts.

Pretty Yarn

I lent Mom some dishcloth cotton for for the flowers. She picked some out when I went to storage to get more yarn for the Epic Adult Surprise Jacket. The different yarns looked so pretty together that I had to take a picture.

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket

The Epic Adult Surprise Jacket is coming along nicely. I'm glad I found these colors. There's a lot of blue and green, and a big red and orange section. I think these pinks and purples will balance those colors out.

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket

This jacket is going to look a little crazy, but I think I can pull it off.

I'm ending with something sad. I don't think I've ever mentioned Dewi, the family parakeet, on this blog. Our family had her for 11 years. Last Saturday she quit eating. By Sunday morning, she was gone. The video above was filmed just four days earlier.

We knew she had been having some problems. We took her to a bird expert at Tomlinson's back in May after she started pulling out the feathers under her wings. He contributed the itchiness to old age, and he said she was thin. We knew her time was short, but we didn't think she'd be gone so soon.

I've debated whether the title I used for this entry is mean. Since we found the other bird, which Katie and Aaron have named Pico, I've wanted to write about Dewi. This was the title I had in my head.

We wanted a male bird, since we've always read that male parakeets are friendlier and more likely to talk. We've had several parakeets over the years, and all but Dewi have been male. Dewi surprised us.

Dewi was always angry and easily frightened. It was a long time before she showed any interest in interacting with us or even leaving her cage. And she was a biter.  These are traits I've always attributed to her sex.

After we had Pico in the house, I thought maybe we had been too hard on Dewi. Pico is sweet and didn't seem afraid of us, very different than Dewi. Maybe it wasn't fair of us to expect Dewi to conform to a role created by humans. The qualities that make a good pet bird aren't the qualities that make a good mama bird. Perhaps she was programmed to be more concerned with protecting her "nest" than sitting on our fingers.

I started to wonder what other birds would have thought of Dewi. What would have her role been if she lived with a flock of birds?

I had planned to expound on this further before we lost her. Now that's she gone, I can see that we accepted her, even if she wasn't what we were expecting, and in return she accepted us. Over time she began to come out of cage and sit on our shoulders while she picked at our shirts and our hair. She would get on our plates and try to eat our food, and we would let her. We were friends, and that's what mattered.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Nothing Happened"

I kept diaries off and on when I was a kid. Sometimes I'd have trouble thinking of something to write about. Sometimes, the day was just boring. And sometimes I'd miss several days, and I would be stuck with blank pages with the dates printed at the top. On these days I would simply write "Nothing happened."

Over the last two weeks I broke my New Year's Resolution and didn't write a blog post. So if you're wondering about last week, don't worry. Nothing happened.

For the past two and a half weeks I've been house sitting for the third time since January. This time it was for Lyndsey's family. That's part of the reason I didn't blog. Since all my pain issues started, I've had trouble finding a comfortable place to use my laptop. With all the furniture in Lyndsey's house, I couldn't find a spot comfortable enough to use my computer for long periods of time. And blogging takes time.

I did take some pictures. Here are:






and Lady.

I also took this picture one evening of the view from their deck. I wish it turned out a little better:

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket and the Skyline

I included my latest knitting project, which I somehow managed not to blog despite all the progress I've made. Remember the sweater I was dreaming of that I eventually decided would be an Adult Surprise Jacket?

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket

I present the Epic Adult Surprise Jacket. I'm already at the armpits.

WIP: Epic Adult Surprise Jacket

You can see pictures of the evolution of the jacket here. Between the four stitches per inch gauge and the six inches of ease, I'm a little worried that it's going to be too bulky. I think it will be ok, since I am aiming for more of a coat than a jacket.

Later on I'll list more details, including the different yarns I'm using. I'm trying very hard to choose yarn that keeps the gauge consistent.

For now, I'll leave you with two things in honor of International Yarnbombing Day. First, a sighting from the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar on Saturday. I made asked Katie, Aaron and Aaron's brother Jacob to pose in front of the pipe with me.

Yarn Bomb Sighting

The yarn is very soft. I wonder what they used. It didn't seem to be acrylic, but I didn't have a lot of time to examine it.

Finally, I have more coverage of A Knitted Wonderland. This time it's a short movie is by Sarah E. Gonzalez.