Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm Back!

I have the use of both hands again.  Do you hear a choir of angels singing?

I haven't been able to knit for long periods of time, but I have been able to make the sticks click again.  It is so nice to get back to my zen activity.

My son is also back from visiting his grandparents in Kentucky.  Every year he goes, he always brings back gifts for us.  This year he brought me back 6 oz of hand spun thick/thin yarn in white that I can dye.  (He is just the most thoughtful son ever.)  I am still trying to figure out how many yards there are in the 6 oz so that I can figure out what to make with it.  It will probably end up being some sort of wrap.

I also recently took a trip to visit my long time best friend up in Sunnyvale.  I was proud of myself that while there I didn't rope her into going to any yarn stores or even drag her down the drink aisle to look at Kool-aid.  

Maybe I am actually getting a handle on this addiction. HA HA HA.   That was funny.   I couldn't type that without laughing.  I've already planned a trip to my LYS (most people think this stands for Local Yarn Store . . . but to me it is Local Yarn Supplier).  I want to try my hand at knitting socks and I don't have the right size double pointed needles.

Well, I best wrap this up so that I can go off to the place I go to earn the money I spend on yarn and Kool-aid.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I have problems

The first problem I have is that my wrist is still in a brace.  I am doing everything I can to avoid getting a cortisone shot.  I've had enough friends and family tell me their stories about The Shot (as I now call it) that I want nothing to do with it other than as a last resort.  The doctor put me on a different medication for the swelling and pain and so far it seems to be working better than the last one.  I am also going to be looking into going to a chiropractor for some assistance.

The next problem I have is related to the first.  I still can't knit or dye yarn.  The lack of one useable hand is quite devastating to my addiction.  You have no idea how hard it is to watch others knit and not be able to engage in the process yourself.  It is hard to resist the urge to find a way to knit one handed.  The only thing that keeps me from trying is fear of The Shot.  

The Shot must be avoided.

The last problem is really very amusing to me.  Part of the reason for the lack of posting over the last week (other than the one hand thing) is that I was attending Comicon in San Diego (another one of my passions).  The first morning we were down there we headed to the local grocery store to stock up on snacks.  While my dear husband was looking over the snack aisle, I headed over to the drink aisle.  Specifically, the powdered drinks.  (You must see where this is going.)

Yes, we bought snacks and 20 packets of Kool-aid in colors that I haven't been able to find up here. ( I freely admit that I have an obsession.) The checker must have really wondered why we were buying protein bars, chips, and that much Kool-aid.  Maybe she thought I was going to dye my hair for the convention.  Hmmm, idea for a new superhero - Kool-aid Girl.  Fighting crime one flavor at a time.

Like I said.    I have problems.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who needs opposable thumbs?

Well quite frankly, any human that wants to be separated from the animals does.  For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to limit it to anyone that wants to knit.

That would be me, and that would be what I am lacking right now.  At least on my right hand.

I had been experiencing increasing pain in my right thumb and wrist over the past couple of weeks.  I started to notice it when I was doing laundry.  Picking the wet clothes up out of the washer was painful (and not in the "I really dislike doing laundry" type of way).  Since I wasn't really experiencing it any other time I just blew it off.  Then I started to notice that I was having a hard time opening jars and my hand would get tired quickly while knitting.   

Last weekend I hit a (figurative) wall with the pain.  I actually had to stop knitting completely; it was just too painful.  I decided it was time to go see my doctor.

My suspicions were confirmed.  I have severe tendonitis in my right wrist/thumb.  As such I have two new best friends, my brace and my ice pack.  The brace I get to wear 24/7 until I go back to the doctor on the 29th, and with the ice pack I get to try to achieve frostbite (OK not really, but it certainly feels that way). 

This, of course, means no knitting.  For a yarnaholic, like myself, this is truly depressing.  I actually have to sit and watch TV without anything else to do.  My hands feel naked without my beloved needles and yarn and it has only been two days.

So I have decided that I am going to purchase more books on color and textile crafts to feed my growing addiction to dyeing.  If I can't actually work with my fibers I can read about cool things to do and get some ideas for when I have use of both my hands again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Young Scientist

Yesterday, I put my 9 year old stepson on a plane to go visit his paternal grandparents on the other side of the country.  This is the third year in a row we have taken him to the airport and watched him fly off on his own.  It doesn't get any easier to see him leave or to have him gone for several weeks.   He loves it.

Waiting in the terminal yesterday, my husband and I were discussing  my yarn dyeing and how I want to learn to spin my own yarn.  My son ( I rarely refer to him as my stepson), who is a budding young scientist, was listening with rapt attention.   You could see the wheels turning as I was talking about the use of food grade dyes versus acid dyes (that I have yet to try).   

I guess he keyed in on the word food, because he immediately started offering up suggestions of foods of varying colors that we could use to dye my yarn.  Now, I should say that I have never really mentioned the whole natural dye area, his mind just made the natural jump that he could find food that stain his lips and use it to dye yarn.   He started with some that wouldn't really work (the inside of an apple to get dull white), but as soon as I mentioned things like berries he started making some really wonderful suggestions.

I have promised that as soon as he gets back we will try doing some natural dyeing and see what happens.  He even wants to try his hand at painting some yarn.

I can't wait until he gets home.  I already miss him.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Notes on Notes

I really need to take notes.  Detailed notes.

I didn't really think about it when I first started experimenting with dyeing my yarn.  I was just playing around, seeing what would happen.  

Well, what happened is I got results that I would love to be able to repeat, but may not be able to, because I didn't take notes.

I decided to try overdyeing some light blue yarn I got on clearance (specifically for this purpose) with Pink Lemonade Kool-aid.    I soaked the yarn and mixed up some Kool-aid.  The only real measure I have is that I used 3 packets of Kool-aid for the 3.5oz of yarn I was dyeing.  I had added some vinegar to the water/dye, but I have no idea how much.  Again, in my mind I was just experimenting.  (Any good scientist will tell you that part of experimenting is being able to replicate your results, which means a good amount of detailed notes. duh)

Of course, as fate would have it, the yarn didn't take the dye evenly and came out with a really nice mottled effect.  One I would love to reproduce on another skein so that I have enough to make something other than a scarf.

The effect is hard to see in the photo as it is very subtle, but in the right light it moves from the original light blue to pink and light purple.  

I don't know if I will try to recreate this or not.  On one hand, it would be great to have more yardage, but on the other hand, I could just end up with another skein that ends up being a one of a kind scarf.  Then again, if I d0 enough experimenting in the same hue I could take all the skeins and make a shawl.

The one thing I know for sure . . . from now on I will make precise measurements and take detailed notes about exactly what I am doing.  This way when a happy accident like this one happens I will hopefully be able to recreate it.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Spumoni isn't just an ice cream flavor

My Kool-aid run the other day was not very successful.  I found some Orange, but no other non-red color.  I will continue my search and when I find the other colors I will stock up.  

Instead, I purchased more Wiltons colors and had fun experimenting with hand painting sections of yarn.

For this experiment I used the cold pour method on some off white Patons Classic Merino.   I soaked the yarn in a vinegar/water solution for a couple of hours and then  placed it on plastic wrap on my kitchen table.

I mixed up approximately 1/8 teaspoon with one cup of water and a glug of vinegar for each dye.  I used pink, brown, and moss green.  I added a few drops of yellow food coloring to the moss green to make it a little brighter.

I then poured it on sections of the yarn (the kids had great fun watching mommy make a mess with the dye in squirt bottles), wrapped it in saran wrap, put it in a baking dish, covered it in foil, and put it in the oven at 225 for a couple of hours.

Unfortunately, in all the handling of the yarn I twisted it up and even though I had put ties through it in various places it was very tangled when I removed it from its encasement.  I also cut part of the yarn when I was cutting the plastic wrap off.

I hung it to dry in the shower and then 
my dear husband and I spent close to an hour trying to untangle and reskein the yarn.   We ended up having to cut it in several places.  

Luckily, this was just an experiment and I wasn't planning on knitting something special with it. I think I will  use the yarn to to experiment with felting and make some felted coasters. 
 I call the color Spumoni Ice Cream.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Kool-Aid Dilemma

The latest addition to my yarnaholism is an obsession with dyeing my own yarn.  

I've been reading what other people have been doing with hand dyeing/painting yarn for a little while, but only recently (in the last two weeks) worked up the nerve to try it myself.  After reading an article on hand painting yarn on Knitty, I decided that I wanted to try each method.  I went to Micheal's on my lunch hour and purchased a few shades of Wilton's icing colorant (cornflower blue, violet, and pink).

I spent a Saturday soaking yarn in water and vinegar, mixing dyes, and pouring them into the pot.  After a couple hours of work, several hours of waiting and watching, and many more hours of drying time I achieved the following results:

The variegation is blotchy and organic in look, which is what I was hoping would happen.  I really enjoy the mixture of colors.   For a first attempt, I am very pleased.

Now I want to try using Kool-Aid.   This is where the dilemma began.   The only flavors of Kool-Aid that I have been able to find are all variants of red or yellow.   While I can (and will) use these and mix them to make varying shades, I was really hoping to find a good lime, orange, or dare I say blue color to use.   

I went ahead and purchased numerous packets of the black cherry, strawberry, and lemonade flavors.  Luckily, I had my son with me at the time so the checker must just think he really likes to drink Kool-aid.  I'm sure I can create some wonderful color combinations with these, but, true to my nature, I am not satisfied with my search.   As such, I am off to scour all the local grocery stores and like to see if I can find some of the illusive colors.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Starting at the beginning

I have always had someone in my life that would knit or crochet around me.  I have always been fascinated by the ability to take fiber, spin it, and then with two (sometimes more) sticks, make it into clothing.

About 6 years ago a friend of mine decided to teach herself how to knit.  It was the trendy thing to do at the time (that's not necessarily why she did it) so I decided it would be a good time to try it out.  

At first, I had great difficulty.  I am left handed and I couldn't decide if I wanted to knit left handed and have to spend time reversing every pattern written or if I wanted to train my hands to knit right handed.  After a few very frustrating attempts at left handed knitting, I gave up and began to teach myself to knit right handed.  As such, I do knit slower than most people I know and I almost always have to watch what I am knitting.  I don't mind, because knitting has become my form of meditation.

There were a few years that I barely touched my needles so that every time I tried to knit I had to relearn what I was doing.   Then one day, I don't even remember when, I found myself addicted to yarn.  At the start of the addiction I didn't really know fiber very well.  I bought because of color or texture not really understanding how much of a particular yarn I would need for a project or if it was appropriate for the project.  As a result, I have numerous balls of yarn that may never be used, but are pretty to look at.  I think this is a fairly common problem for beginning yarnaholics.  

Now, several years later, I am selective about my fiber purchases.  However, as hard as I try to tell myself that I shouldn't buy yarn unless I have a specific project in mind, it just won't stick.  I do make sure that I buy enough for some project, just not a specific project all the time.  I have all my yarn displayed in cubby holes and I look at it all the time.  

I love my yarn almost as much as I love my children.  :)