Friday, December 30, 2005

A Knit of a Lifetime

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
Wednesdsay night at B&N, a foreign looking man (maybe about my age or a little younger), asked me "Do you mind if I ask you something?" I thought it was a little strange, but I was relaxed from knitting and thought I'd listen to what he had to say. He began to tell me that he had been put in jail in another country (didn't say which) for his religious beliefs. In this prison, there were many other men and women who were put there for similar reasons. He described to me how these people weren't allowed to do anything while in this prison....anything but knit (but it could of also applied to crochet or the like).

He then asked if I minded working on my living room throw for two or three months at a time. I told him that I enjoyed it and liked every minute I worked on it....if it took me a shorter time to knit it, it'd be even better because I'd be able to enjoy it sooner. I tried to explain to him how much I liked the alpaca yarn I was working with and, if I had more free time, I'd knit on it more. He asked if I would mind working on this project for my entire life. "Well", I said, "I think I'd become bored with it sooner or later and might be resentful of it after years and years of knitting on it."

So, this man started to tell me how these prisoners are only able to work on their knitting projects during the day and at night, they had to give them to the guards...needles and all. He said, "Their projects are like their children. They hate to give them up to the guards and can't wait to get them back the next day." The reason it is so important to them is because they are only allowed to work on their one knitting project for the rest of the time they are in other words, for the rest of their lives. They try to make each knitting day go by slowly and savor each and every stitch. They put not only their heart, but their almost literal souls into their knitting project. For, once it is their time to die, this knitting BECOMES the legacy of who they were. Every movement, every breath, every moment becomes transferred into this priceless project of themselves. If the project is not finished when they die, another member of their family finishes it for them. The finished project is placed in the home of the prisoner's family and is then regarded as the person themselves.

I can barely put into words how this man's story affected me. It was like a window opened up and showed me a view of the world that I could never quite see before. It made me feel incredibly happy and profoundly sad at the same time. All I could think of were the poor people who were wrongly imprisoned and how their small knitting project was the focus and then the symbol of their entire life.

I feel as if I've taken my own knitting and life for granted and how lucky I am for all that I have. For the variety and freedom to knit and live as I choose, for any amount of time I choose, for whomever I choose. May we all remember those who are not as lucky as we are.

Knitting Blessings to all and especially to the man who shared this story with me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Quick Purse Pic

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
Here is the purse I knitted (and then felted) for my mom for Christmas. It's purplish pink color of Rowan Big Wool yarn...100% wool. Used only 2 balls to make this. It's the LuLu Purse from one of Rowan's Biggy books. I didn't much like it after I knitted it...way too floppy and I felted it and I think it looks much nicer. Has a great rounded bottom and I added one of the pretty pink brooches I had in my drawer. Looks very feminine and is sturdy but soft.

Toasty Toes

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
Finally!!! My next to last UFO is finished!! Woo Hoo! These are socks I started at least 3 months ago for my pen pal in CT. Here they are, finished and looking very warm and toasty....if you're wondering why they look so small, well, she has small little tootsies and I made them a little wide so she could wear them as bed socks. The yarn is Interlacements 100% merino superwash wool...fantastic...soft, easy to knit with and the colorways are just beautiful....this one is called Reds.

Now, I only have to finish my Knit Picks Suri Dream throw in Fern green by January 1st and I'll be free of all my UFOs!!! I only have one more skein of the yarn left for the throw and then I'm off to start the Knit Picks (see a pattern here? he he) Sweet Mary Jane Cardigan with my knitting group. I'm still winding the yarn hank done...three to go...wish me luck!

SeaGlass Swatch

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
See...I told you I'd share my swatch (yarn now dubbed "SeaGlass") pic with you! Using my very nice Crystal Palace bamboo straights in size 8, I got a nice swatch that came out to exactly 4 stitches to the inch. I love the way the green apple color and the sky blue mix in with the turquoise. I'm very happy with this yarn! What'd you think?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Entry 8....The Hang

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
Now....all I have to do is wait....wait and wait...until my beautiful yarn dries. Then, I can wind it up (loosely...I have to work on not winding so tightly) and knit up a swatch. As soon as the swatch is done, I'll post the pic....what a great experience this time! I guess the Knitting Goddess was looking out for me this time....

Do you have any pics of your own handpainted yarns? I'd love to see them!

Do you have any colorways you'd recommend for another dyeing project? I'm always looking for new ideas...

Happy Knitting!

Entry 7....The Rinse

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
I love this picture. I looks like some sort of sea creature swimming happily in the sea....of clear water, anyway. So serene. I like the way the light plays on the water and you can almost see my hands and camera taking the picture. Look closely : )

Entry 6....The Result

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
After a few tries, I realized that I had to be more careful when squirting my dye. I decided to squirt a little, press down on the yarn (wearing gloves this time!!) and then repeat. This method was by far less messy and muddy than last time and I liked the result.

I was surprised that I'd only used up 1/2 of each of the color solutions and had more for another time. Pretty sweet!

Entry 5....The Arrangement

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
So, now I had to decide how to arrange the yarn in the dish. I thought about doing my own thing, but that's not usually my style. I liked the way the zigzag worked last time so I decided to try it again. Looks kinda like an E, don't you think?

Entry 4....The Dyes

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
I was excited to have found the McCormick food colors in Neon...which I've never seen before. Thought I'd try those instead of the Kool Aid this time.

Color 1: Green Apple (20 green and 2 blue drops)
Color 2: Turquoise (5 blue and 2 green)
Color 3: Sky Blue (9 blue, 2 green and 1 purple)

Each color is mixed with 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup water.

They looked super in those clear glasses by the window!

Entry 3....The Stuff

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
This time, I found a bottle with a small, squeeze top so I could control the amount of dye that was squirting out onto the yarn. Worked much better, but not perfect. Coffee mugs do make a nice holder for the dyes, but if I'd had 3 other smaller Pyrex measuring cups, it would've been excellent and much easier.

Entry 2...The Soak

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
Okay, so far so good...the yarn is tied nicely (and correctly) and looks very serene in my big pasta boiling pot. Soaked for 30 minutes in cool water and then gently squeezed out the excess.

Dyeing Yarn Part II...entry 1

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
This is my second attempt at dyeing yarn. ( I'm not sure exactly which order my pictures will be arranged in my blog....either they'll be nicely in order or backwards. If backwards, please read from the bottom up...if you are unable to do this, imagine that you're just seeing the process in reverse, which may be very interesting anyway.)

I received a large skein of natural wool from a friend of a friend who was giving it as a gift in return for some mittens I knit for her cold Wisconsin hands. I almost gave it away to someone else (didn't know what I'd do with it), but realized it would be the perfect yarn for attempting another dyeing project. I also remembered to tie it in FOUR places, not just two! : )

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Knitter's Wish List (Beware!)

A Knitter’s Wish List
(not in any particular order, although always YARN over books)

~The first magical knitting book by Cat Bordhi
~2 skeins of Anny Blatt angora...preferably in pink
~ANY kit from Fleece Artist or with Hand Maiden yarns
~Cascade 220 skeins for moebius felted projects (most require 3)
~Manos, manos, manos! (the lavender and new lime-blue colorway I love)
~The Knit Stitch book by Sally Melville
~Undyed yarn so I can dye it! Knit Picks has a nice worsted weight and fingering/sock weight yarn...nice and inexpensive.

Colors I love: pink, cranberry red, pastels (very light colorways), soft apricot or yellow, white, black, varigated blues, the metallic gold, not the 70’s refrigerator gold : )

~Vintage knitting pattern books, especially ones for baby things, shawls, blankets or accessories or antique books on knitting
~The book KNIT SOCKS! ...not sure who it’s’s shaped like a sock
~Knit Picks yarns: Elegance, Ambrosia, Suri Alpaca, Vacation (the solid colored one) and the Parade cotton blend sock yarn.
~Any weight yarn (in any amount) by Misti Alpaca in any color! (sooosoft!)
~The Bobbi Bear kit (or Baby Bobbi Bear) from Blue Sky Alpaca
~1 skein of Socks That Rock yarn....any color (mmm!)
~4 or 5 skeins of Berroco Suede yarn or 1 skein of Air (technicolor)

(of course, there IS and WILL be more, but there is only so much time and space in the universe and I am a yarn slut, so my wishes are infinite!)

What is YOUR wish list?

Moebius Sling

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
I was very excited to start my first moebius project from Cat Bordhi's book...the second in the magical knitting series. The moebius cast-on was a complex battle involving my mind (which is not always at full capacity at the best of times) and my body (which at the moment is happily working well and slimming out at a nice rate) that sometimes resulted in bouts of hysterical laughing, sobbing or just plain swearing like an angry man. In the end, something just "clicked" (maybe it was the door closing...who knows?) and I finally understood how to do it.

Instead of knitting the 120 cast on stitches, you're actually knitting twice that amount because of the moebius factor of the neverending loop. So, the knitting was longer, but smooth sailing for a while...until I ran out of yarn....

Now, this is a big problem for me. I don't know why. Is it because I'm so tired that I don't notice the cats stealing huge chunks of yarn OR is it the Yarn Carnivore that is threatening (and succeeding, I presume) to eat up all of the needed yarn for current projects I have.?.!.? No matter how perfect my gauge or how many times I check to make sure I'm using the correct, suggested yarn or re-checking the yards of the skein I'm working with...I'm ALWAYS a skein too short. It's a frightening and very frustrating experience. I guess I should know by now to....JUST BUY ONE EXTRA SKEIN....each time I start a project. But, the optimist in me (or maybe it's the memory loss due to the lack of sleep I've gotten since Ben's been born) decides not to go the logical way and live in my own la la la la...only to be sadly disappointed when I have 3 inches of yarn dangling off my needle and I'm shouting, "Don't I have another skein of this yarn? Where the HELL is it?"

Does anyone else have this problem? If so, please write me and let me know I'm not the only one! : P

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lucille's Throw

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
Finally, it's done! Donna, Laurin, Ericka, Chris, Vicki, Peg, Jean, Fran, Denise and I made knitted 12 inch squares for this throw. It was supposed to be a shawl, but has grown to a nice warm, cozy blanket for Lucille. I found out that it's difficult to fit squares together that you don't knit yourself because they all end up very unique shapes and sizes...beautiful, but not so easy to fit together. I also wanted some sort of color pattern...I tried to alternate the multi colored ones in the blues and purples with the pinks, whites and white/blue ones. Then, the center has the diagonal ones and Chris's dark blue cable square. The border is a single row of single crochet, but I think I'll add something more festive to it later....well, before Wednesday anyway....that's when we'll be giving Lucille the wonderful throw and pillow we made for her. I hope she likes it! We put a lot of time and love into this for her and hope it'll bring her some healing and relaxation : )

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lace Dress

Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
This was the dress I knit to donate to the American Girl Doll Club at the Barnes and Noble where my group knits. My husband made the hanger himself out of copper phone wire! He's so creative. I was very happy with how the dress came out and even happier that the little girl who got it loved it!

Sleepy Sunrise

Sleepy Sunrise
Originally uploaded by yogagardengirl32.
This is my kooky Kool Aid yarn....not as bad as I thought. It's actually a little bit pretty and interesting.

Kooky Kool Aid Dyeing

I received my KnitPicks undyed sock yarn (400 yards!) in the mail the other day. It was very nice....had a smooth feel to it. Thought I'd use the directions for KoolAid dyeing in the recent Creative Knitting magazine to help me along. (I have dyed before with Kool Aid, but just in my own way...probably not the right way) Anyway, for anyone who's interested in doing it, I've got some thoughts and advice from my own many, many mistakes and blunders to help you along on your way:

~ The article says to form your yarn into a hank and tie in 4 places before soaking in the vinegar/water solution. I'd have to say...please, please follow these instructions. My hank came tied in only two places (but securely, so I thought) and I didn't bother to tie it twice more. BIG MISTAKE! It looked so pretty in the pot of water swimming around like spaghetti, but when I pulled it out, the hank was unrecognizable and a huge, huge tangle and mess. It took me an hour just to get it in a somewhat less tangled skein, but not at all like it was supposed to look.

~ The article warns you to cover all surfaces in your kitchen with newspaper or some kind of protective cloth. I put one small kitchen towel down and that wasn't nearly enough. I had no idea how strong that Kool Aid drink is....I got a drop on my countertop and it's now permanently orange....I can't even imagine what it does to your insides if you drink it...ewwww! So, make sure to do a good job covering up. And use gloves when pressing into the yarn....I forgot and had orange fingers for at least a whole day.

~ The article says to put your color dye concoctions into turkey basters or syringes....I was lazy and just poured the 3/4 cup into a salad dressing bottle. NOT GOOD! While pouring, the dyes went everywhere because the opening of my bottle was way too big. Not very precise "handpainting"....that's for sure. I had the idea afterwards to use those plastic ketchup bottles with the tiny opening on top that you see in diners....that would work, too.

~ The article says to arrange your yarn (either in a spiral or zigzag shape) in your microwavable casserole dish, dye one side with desired colors, then turn it over and dye the other side. You don't have to follow my advice, but DON'T DO THIS! Or at least do it so carefully that you know it will be okay in the end. I dyed one side with 4 far so good...but then went to turn it over and all went to HELL. The dyes started leaking out of the yarn and blending together in the bottom of the dish (do you know what red and green and orange make?....yup...brown) so while I was trying to place the yarn in exactly the right zigzag shape as before (in my opinion IMPOSSIBLE), it fell into the brown one side was nicely dyed and the other was a light brown....not attractive.

~ After crying for only a few minutes (or hours....depending on if you talk to me or my husband), I drained the excess brown and decided to cook my yarn anyway. Place it in the microwave for like 4-6 minutes...when it comes out the yarn will be hot (REALLY HOT!)....let it cool then rinse gently, but not under running a pot of tepid water. Drain. Let hang to try. This part went okay. I took a picture of my hanging, drying yarn in the white room...looked very interesting.

~ I was so disappointed in how the yarn colors came out, but decided to wind it all in a ball anyway and shove it deep, deep into my large closet....never to look at it again. But, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, after winding it (which took 2's 400 yards!!!) the colors looked almost a sunrise. There's parts of perfectly dyed a soft strawberry color, light green and peach..... amidst the sorry looking light brown areas. I may still knit it up into some socks.....