Hey look, she CAN finish something she started!

I finished my little bag and felted it on Saturday, here is the before/after shot. The colors in the after picture are accurate. It was a fun and quick knit. I even have a whole skein of Manos that I didn't use, should I return it? I'd have to drive ALLLLLLLLL the way to Grand Rapids to return it... Yeah right, I'll NEVER EVER return yarn.

Last night I also finished Red Striped Rail Fence. The pic I took of the whole quilt looked exactly the same as before it was quilted, so here's just a closeup.

Last ever textiles class is tonight. It's a wierd feeling, I'm pretty excited about it, but at the same time, it's nice to have all that space and freedom and some kind of deadline and goal. I guess now I get to learn how to motivate myself to get things done.

I was over at my parents' house on Saturday, hanging out and doing laundry. I brought Shannon's skirt with me to work on, since it is my only WIP now, I did two whole rounds on the thing which took at least 45 minutes. I don't know how many stitches it has now, but it's a lot and there are still one or two sets of increases to do before it is done. Well, my mom had just finished a pair of KnitPicks socks, and didn't have another project lined up to work on. So, me, being the BRILLIANT and GENEROUS daughter that I am, gladly sacrificed my own project to give her something to work on. So, the skirt is in her trusted hands. HAHAHAHAHAHA... I cast on a sock on Sunday! I just can't not have a sock in progress. Add it to my list of weaknesses. I am using the dusty brown Pima/Tencel yarn for the main sock and the lilac color for the toe and heel, and probably a stripe at the top. (see yarn in this post, upper left corner) Pictures to come, it's less than an inch long right now, so I didn't take a picture.

Are you all using the Blingo search engine? It is SO cool! I have won three times, three separate $10 iTunes gift certificates. (and I've never gotten any spam from them) It's sponsored by Google, so you'll get the same results as if you were searching with Google, but instead you use Blingo and maybe win a prize! There are bigger and better prizes than iTunes too, you could win an iPod Nano, or a $25(or more) Visa Gift Card. The last iTunes gift cert. I got, I used it to buy an album on iTunes that I wouldn't have spent money that wasn't free on, Michael Nesmith and the First National Band, "Nevada Fighter". I bought this album (yes, on vinyl) in high school when I was going thru a pretty heavy Monkees phase (circa 1995 or so), so I thought I would put it on my iPod for a little memory-lane action.


I can see the finish line

Tomorrow night is my last critique, then we will bring all our stuff in again next Tuesday if we need to do more work on it over the weekend. And next week I have one more physics class and then the final. And that is it. The end. Finished. I dun gradiated colledge.

So here is what I am taking to the critique tomorrow, I'm calling it "Red Striped Rail Fence" Title subject to change pending appraisal of it's cheesiness. (I always think my titles are cheesy and have considered just having a billion "untitled" pieces.)

and the detail shot

I haven't shown any pictures before now because I only JUST figured it all out at about 8:00 tonight. I am pretty pleased with it. I'd like to do another one, pieced maybe instead of fused, and I'll dye gradations specifically for it, these aren't perfect gradations, but they work.

I started to take some pictures of my sewing room after this week of frantic "gotta get a freakin' quilt outta all this fabric I dyed" fusing, but I am too embarrased. it's bad. Real bad.

In knitting news, the latest socks are finished and have been worn, but not washed yet. Hand wash only ya know.
Started on the felted bag with the green and maroon Manos. It's almost done, needs a front pocket and a strap. Then I'll felt it this weekend. After that is done, it's the skirt, and only the skirt.
I Candice, do take you Olympic Skirt in a monogomous knitting relationship. I promise to work with you until you become the beautiful skirt I know you can be. I promise to knit around and around for what will seem lilke an eternity and then knit some more, purl too. I promise to be faithful. I will not cast on socks. Even though that Twizzle is SCREAMING to get some action, you are my one and only knitting project. God help me.

Oh and skirt, I hope you know there will be a frenzy of dpns and sock yarn the minute I'm done with you, so, you know, don't get too upset.

Thank you all for your nice comments regarding Olive. Honestly I expected at least one a** to comment saying that I did the wrong thing and I am a horrible person. And I guess if that is what you do think, thanks for keeping it to yourself. And I'm sorry to those of you I made cry. T'wasn't my intention.


It's time to tell the story

Today is the day the finalists of the Quilting Arts Magazine Calendar Contest are announced. I have changed the homepage on my browser to the Editor's blog, where the finalists will be posted, and am checking it obsessively. Whether I make it or not, I thought today would be a good day to finally tell the story of my entry. This is what I wrote and sent in with my entry. I've added pictures for the blog that were not included.

In December of 2004, I decided I was ready for my first dog. I started reading as much as I could about training puppies, comparing different breeds and talking to people who have had experience raising good dogs. My boyfriend Ryan and I went to the Detroit Humane Society the day after Christmas. We walked past rows of cages with adult dogs in them, and could see down the hall there were cages with animals that would not be adopted for one reason or another. We found our way to the puppy room, it was a small room with stacks of cages against three walls, there were quite a few litters of puppies that were 6 weeks old, and only a few puppies that were older. The top left cage caught my eye. A 12-week old female, white with huge black ears was whining and wagging her tail, so excited that we were talking to her. We grabbed her paperwork off her cage and went back up front so we could take her out and play with her. The employee took her out of the cage and we went into a little room where she jumped all over us and licked our faces and was so happy. I loved her instantly. We kissed her and put her back in her cage and told her we’d be back in a couple days. Back up front I took care of the paperwork and was told to come back on Wednesday, after she had been spayed and given the routine veterinary care.

We went back on Wednesday to pick her up, I think we waited in that waiting room for hours and hours, but it was probably only 15 minutes. A doctor came around the corner holding my puppy and I could see that she recognized me. Her tail started wagging and her ears laid down against her head. As soon as the doctor put her in my arms she peed all down the front of me. I got some final instructions and signed more paperwork and we were on our way home.

The first week was rough. That may be an understatement. The first week was a nightmare. I had no idea what I was doing. I had taken the week off work so I could stay home and get my puppy, who I had decided to call Olive, acquainted with her new surroundings. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my mom, my sister, and with Ryan, usually crying. I was having feelings like I had made a mistake. I didn’t know how to raise a puppy. I wanted to work in my sewing room, but every time I sat down, Olive peed on the floor, whined or needed some other attention. I don’t know what I was expecting; I guess I thought puppies slept a lot. This one sure didn’t. At the end of the week I had decided to stick with it, to keep working with Olive and she would be the best dog ever.

The next couple months brought lots of good things, along with bad. She was potty trained by the age of 4-1/2 months; she hardly ever chewed anything she wasn’t supposed to; she could sit, lie down, come when she was called and we were working on ‘roll over’.

Olive was about 8 months old when the aggressiveness started. It started with just some barking, whether we were outside with another dog in view, or inside looking out at another dog outside. The barking developed into growling and snarling. It got so bad that when she would sit by the window and see another dog outside, she would jump all over the window, sending the vertical blinds all over the place. At first, I would pull her by the collar and talk to her calmly. After a while, when I reached for her collar during one of these “freak-outs”, she would turn and snap at my hand. I refused to let her become the alpha dog in this house, so I kept pulling her back and was more firm with her especially when she snapped at me. Nothing worked. After about a month of this, and three separate attacks on Dakota, the 10 year old German Shepherd Husky mix at my parents house, we were on a walk with Olive and happened to pass by a woman in front of her house. Olive started barking at her dog through the fence, and this struck up a conversation with the woman, who happened to be a dog trainer. She worked with Olive for a few minutes and thought she could be a good dog with the correct training. As the woman was talking a man with two Jack Russell Terriers walked by. Olive, predictably, stood on her hind legs, barked and snarled and leapt at the dogs across the street. The woman stopped mid-sentence and just said, “oh my”. I told her how often that happens and that she has started to snap at me and other people who take care of her. Her unfortunate recommendation was to have her put down. Dogs with that much aggressive tendency are just not safe.

As we continued on our walk, I talked with Ryan and my parents, but no decisions were made. I was assured that they would be there for me whatever my decision was. I wrestled with every possible option available, but could only think of one thing. What if Olive hurts someone? I knew I could not keep her, but if I took her back to the Humane Society, she would be adopted to another family, possibly with another dog or small children. I couldn’t let that happen, so I made the awful decision to have her put down.

The morning of June 22, 2005 I left for work after a lot of kisses and scratches and hugs for Olive and quite a few tears. My mom came shortly after I left and took Olive home with her. My dad picked her up and took her to the vet. He had already made arrangements so that they could come in the back door, where she wouldn’t come in contact with any other animals. As soon as the vet laid eyes on her he told my dad he could see why we had been having so much trouble.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Olive was my responsibility. I volunteered to be her sole caretaker and give her everything she needed. I felt like such a failure, I would look around at other people walking their dogs and get sad and jealous. So many people have dogs, what is wrong with me that I couldn’t keep mine? But I have slowly realized that it wasn’t my fault. I did everything I could to keep her and take care of her so she could have the best life, and so that I could have a great companion as well. But I see now that sometimes, no matter how hard you try; some things just can’t work out the way you want them to.

My quilt is a portrait of Olive sitting in her favorite spot by the window keeping watch over the yard. I used hand-dyed fabrics and some commercial fabric and over-dyed commercial fabric. It was fused and then hand and machine quilted.


One over a quarter century

I made it past the quarter century mark. At 10:22pm EST I turn 26.
So far, I've gotten cards from Ryan's family, and two skeins of sock yarn from his mom Gayle. She knows me so well. The card on top there is from Ryan's 3-1/2 year old nephew Joey, he told me he picked that card out for me because that possum is smiling. He had the cutest little grin on his face and was bashful and so proud of himself at the same time. adorable.

Saturday was Joey's little sister's baptism and at the last minute we decided we should bring a gift, and hey, why don't I make her a rosary. So this was my Saturday...

  • 9am wake up with knitting pattern in head and have to sit in bed and knit for a while to test it out

  • 9:30 get up and dressed, go to Ryan's to pick up his dad's rosary that I was going to take apart and use the cross and mary part for Matteson's rosary, and so I could get the number of beads right

  • Stick around and talk cars with Ryan and my dad... well, not so much talking on my part, but listening and thinking about how cute it is to watch my dad and Ryan hang out and work on Ryan's car

  • 11:45 leave Ryan's and go to Bead Store. I decided at the last minute it might not be a good idea (karma-wise) to take apart someone else's rosary. I got lots of good advice and bought new findings for the rosary and pretty glass beads, even though I probably had everything I needed already at home (minus Mary and the Cross)

  • 1:00 get home, gather rosary ingredients and metal working tools and ipod. I did not buy any eye pins or any findings, all the pieces were twisted and cut from sterling silver wire. each bead has it's own little link, hand made by me. Only the best for our little Matteson.

  • 3:15 finish rosary, whip off iPod and clothing and get in shower, get dresssed, do hair and makeup, put on shoes and grab a bag of pretzels (didn't have time to eat) and get in the car to go to Ryan's and then to the baptism.

  • got to Ryan's right at 4:30, he got in the car and we headed to the Church

I just got back to work; I met my mom and dad at Panera for lunch and I got another present! Knitting Rules, by Yarn Harlot! Wahoooooo! I guess this means I have to finish "Secret Life of a Knitter" right quick. Tonight I have school and then Ryan and I are going out with another couple to Applebee's for $2 beers and 1/2 price appetizers. I'm a cheap date. Unless we're going to a yarn store.


Success with Remazols!

A week or so ago I did some more work with the remazol/reactive dyes and this batch turned out pretty darn well, as far as the process actually working correctly. The colors did some funky stuff, which is to be expected with this process.
This picture shows four different designs. Starting on the left, I painted the fabric with green remazol (liquid reactive dye from Pro Chemical) mixed with Basilen Fixing Agent (by Jacquard, not sure yet where we buy it, it is supplied to us at school, I'll have to find out before the end of April and the free supplies (aka school) is over for good), oh, mixed in print paste and soda ash too. After that was dry, I mixed up a chartreuse, yellow orange and grass green and used my finger tip to dab it on randomly onto the green... as you can see, green remazol + green reactive = blue.

The next piece has two different designs on it. I painted it with the turquoise remazol first, then mixed up three different shades of blue/purple reactive dyes. The colors on this one turned out exactly as planned. On the left side of the fabric, I used a squirt bottle to just randomly squirt all three colors all over the fabric, and then used a plastic fork to move the dye around and mix it up. On the right side, I used the squirt bottle to make swirlies. These both turned out really well, the halo effect is very cool between the reactive and remazol. should have taken a close up... maybe I'll add one in the next post.

The third piece, all the way on the right was not at all what I expected. I painted it black with remazol, then used GREEN to make big leaf-ish shapes all over, just with my fingers. Then went back and put some of the yellow orange down the center of each shape. So, yet another funky and unexpected outcome: black remazol + green reactive = purple.

These are just some fabrics I already dyed a while ago that I overdyed. Far left was bright green and fuschia, I got it wet and scrunched it into a container and poured diluted bleach over it (like the low water immersion technique). Then once I saw it was acutally doing something, I took it out, rinsed it and put it in Anti-Chlor for 5 minutes and then washed/rinsed it out. The middle one started out a light brown/tan low water immersion and then I did low water again with a reddish brown that is now more red-orange. And on the right is the same light brown/tan low water fabric that I screen printed with purple.

These are 2 6-step gradations between green and blue. I sorta forgot that when you mix blue and green you get turquoise. I'm not a huge fan of turquoise, but I'm sure I'll use these for something. I used the instructions from Elin Noble's book, Dyes and Paints. Except I do mine flat on the table with a paint brush, instead of standing in front of 6 buckets for an hour stirring them all.

That's all I have for ya at the moment. Just wanted you to know that I am actually doing stuff when I say I have school at night.


maybe more than you bargained for

How far would you go to use a 20% off coupon at a really great yarn shop? 25 miles? 100 miles?

What if you had a "20% off your whole purchase" coupon for a yarn store that was 614.3 miles away from home? Is it worth almost 10 hours in the car (one way) plus about $40 worth of gasoline, at least two fast-food/on the road meals, and a sore ass? I still want to say YES! sign me up! when do we leave?! Besides, travelling and shopping helps the economy, I haven't seen Shannon in a month and the yarn shop in question just happens to be less than a mile from her apartment, and the most important argument, I NEED more yarn.

*** WARNING***change of subject with no segue***

So last Saturday I went to see a psychic. This was not a cheesy, read your palm, crystal ball gazing, tell your future type psychic. She is a "metaphysical counselor". It was such a fun and eye opening, emotional, goose-bump inducing, tear producing experience. It was an hour of her telling me some things I knew about myself already but maybe weren't obvious, she introduced me to two of my spirit guides, I learned just a little bit about past lives, my relationship with my immediate family and something about this "power" she kept referring to that apparently I have but am afraid to use. That part confused me. She told me I am an old soul, and that this is definitely not my first lifetime as an artist.

Of course, I have been thinking about everything she said a lot and coming up with SO many questions I want to ask next time. So much so that I want to make an appointment to see her again, like, RIGHT NOW. I want to ask about Olive and why that experience happened to me and why it had to turn out the way it did and what I was supposed to learn from it. (I realize I have never really explained the whole Olive situation, it will come. in due time.) I also want some help with my headaches, and I wonder if she could help me with that. I have questions about what she told me in our session on Saturday about the greif I carry and how I can heal it. She told me that I have a "long thread of grief running through my emotional core" and that it is old and not necessarily mine. She said I have a way of "helping" people grieve, but it's not much help for them or me because I take it from them so that I have to deal with it, and they can't deal and get over it. That may sound like foooey, but it totally makes sense to me. I am always the first one to start crying... even BALLING at funerals, movies, tv, radio commercials... seriously, On-Star commercials should not make me cry, but they do, and it doesn't matter what day of the month it is. The best example of this is when Leah's mom Michele got sick, and sicker and passed only 6-months later, I was a wreck. I couldn't even tell my boss and co-workers I'd be gone the day of the funeral because I would lose it and look like a bumbling idiot trying to get the words out. So I had to email them, and I even asked in the email, tactfully, but with the basic message being, don't try to talk to me about it. Most of them complied; others didn't and got the bumbling idiot I knew would come out. Of course I am sad and miss Michele, but I think bigger than that, was that I can so easily put myself in someone else's place, that I was feeling Leah's grief. I was worried about her and how she would handle it and get through it. And of course want to help her in any way I possibly can. As soon as I saw her speak at the memorial, of course I cried through the whole thing, but I felt better after because I knew she would be ok. Wow, this is going off to a place I wasn't prepared to post about. I guess I'll just finish it up with, Leah, I am sorry I took some of your grief from you and I apologize in advance for giving it back to you, when I figure out how.

That was a little too heavy for a fiber art/knitting blog, dontcha think? So, let's end with some appropriate content. School tonight, dying gradations and color ranges for the impending quilt. I think it'll be a tree... that's the idea in my head at the moment. I was working on some Remazol/reactive dyes for the quilt, but they didn't turn out like I thought. So they'll probably get scrapped. (just not used for this project, not thrown away or anything, who do you think I am?!) I'd like to do some potato dextrin and a little more remazol this semester, but I think I'll proabably run out of time. Critique is the 20th, so that is coming real quick!


Well, now what?!

One of the many things I've been drooling over lately is some Twizzle sock yarn by Mountain Colors. I've drooled over ebay listings for $18 plus shipping, I've touched it and squeezed it and rubbed it on my cheek at Flying Sheep in Ann Arbor... but the price of $21 for a pair of socks just seemed too much. I've searched for other places online that might sell it for cheaper, but no luck. So I just kept drooling... until yesterday when I had a realization. I went to a yarn shop with Leah on Saturday with the intention of getting two skeins of Lorna's Laces that I've also been drooling over for quite some time. When they didn't have any colors I liked (was holding out for either Motherlode or Tuscany and all they had was camouflage) I bought $50 worth of Manos del Uruguay solid(ish) colors for a felted bag instead.
Then we went to another yarn shop on the other side of Grand Rapids and they didn't have Lorna's sock yarn either, except for two skeins of the bee stripe socks and one lonely skein of Iris Garden. So I wasn't going to get anything, until I spotted the Twizzle. This store had a whole shelf full of it, at least 3 different colorways. I picked up one skein at a time, of each different colorway and squeezed. I must have this yarn today. but... $22 for a pair of socks? then I realized that Lorna's is between $9 and $11 (depending on what store you are in) for one skein... and me, being the math and physics wizard that I am, now understand that two skeins of Lorna's is the same price as one skein of Twizzle. And you only need one skein of Twizzle for a pair. TA DA!!! I now own one skein of Twizzle sock yarn in the colorway Elderberry.
But... now what? I have to find something else to drool over. That shouldn't be hard though.

Ok, ok... You got me, I am still coveting and drooling over the Lorna's Laces in Motherlode (and Tuscany). I can't help it. I am addicted to sock yarn... and I know I'm not alone. It is just the most perfect thing. You know exactly how much you'll need without having the pattern with you. Socks are relatively cheaper to make than a sweater or sometimes even a scarf. And they are useful, especially in Michigan where winter seems to last from October through April.

As you can see on the current pair of socks, I got a little carried away with the pattern and should have started the heel about an inch ago... rrrrriiipppppittttt

I had a wonderful weekend at Leah's house. We knit and shopped and watched RENT and we listened to our tapes of the Psychic we both went to, her two weeks ago and me on Saturday. We made gluten-free lasagna per Leah's dietary restrictions and a yummy salad and we made gluten-free brownies which were surprisingly wonderful. We also found a very good but very expensive chinese buffet for lunch on Sunday. mmm... crab cheese. too bad we didn't know we were going to end up there, or we would have brought zip-loc baggies... pretend I didn't say that out loud... we would NEVER do that!

So here we are,
Leah, learning to knit in the round... this picture is posed, she really is having fun learning to knit with 4 needles.

And here I am working on the modular scarf Leah taught me to make!

No pictures of us together though, the dogs couldn't get the zoom or the lighting right to take one of us... they were having a little trouble holding the camera; no thumbs, ya know.