Snow today, gone tomorrow

Last week here in Michigan we got A LOT of snow.  I'd guess it was almost a foot over a whole week.  8 inches of it was all in one day, and I even got to have a SNOW DAY from work!!!  So when I saw that the temperature for the coming week was going to get into the balmy forties, I decided I should use the snow while we had it.

My mom-in-law told me about Snow Dying, she said you layer the (soda-soaked) fabric in a container however you wish, then cover with snow and pour the dye over the snow.  So that's what I did.  I waited until about 4:30 Saturday afternoon and soda soaked my fabric while I mixed 5 dye concentrates (I don't use a recipe or anything, I just mix between 1 tsp to 2 Tbsp dye powder with 1 cup of warm water).  I set the dye concentrates outside to cool a bit while I wrung out the fabric and got my containers together.

Outside on the picnic table covered with at least 8 inches of snow, I slapped the buckets deep into the snow to keep them upright in case it got windy.  The first bucket, I put about 2 inches of snow in the bottom, layered the somewhat scrunched fabric on top and then more snow.  I packed it down a bit too.  It was really heavy, wet snow.  Good snow-man snow (and boy, you should have seen some of the pretty impressive snowmen around our house!) Then I poured the dye concentrate over the snow.  The liquid was still pretty warm, so it did melt the snow a bit. 
Bucket 1, one yard of fabric, two dye concentrates, lots of snow

In the other bucket, I scrunched the fabric into the bottom of the bucket and packed some snow on top.  I poured the first color of dye concentrate over the snow and let it sit for just a minute (I was outside with no coat and just rubber gloves, and I am impatient).  I layered a second piece of fabric, with more snow and more dye and did it all once more so I had three layers of snow and fabric.  I basically followed the Parfait Dying instructions from Color by Accident by Ann Johnston, but added layers of snow. 

These are two from the 'parfait' bucket

I figured for the best results, I would leave the buckets outside overnight and let them thoroughly re-freeze and make sure the dye can really get into the fiber, which I thought may have been slowed a bit by the cold temperature.    The next morning I brought the buckets in and put them in the bathtub to warm up enough to scoop the snow out. 
Then, rinse, wash and admire.

I didn't realize when I was mixing my colors that I was pretty much making purple each time.  oops!

Next time I think I'll try layering the soda soaked fabric and snow but leaving that outside overnight (depending on how cold it is, it may only take an hour) so the fabric can freeze.  Then pour cold dye over the snow.  I think that would give me crisper lines and more mottling. 

Also over the weekend, I finished my first toe-up sock!  I knit around and around until the leg was about 12 inches from the heel.  I was worried that the taller the sock got, the tighter it would be on my leg, so my first thought was to increase stitches.  But I couldn't decide how to stick to my 2 by 2 ribbing and also add increases.  So I increased every 8 stitches on one round, but changed to all knits to create a roll top sock.  I did a few more increase rounds and maybe had a 1/2 inch worth of stockinette and decided I didn't like it.  I ripped back to before the increases and decided all I would need to do to make the leg circumference bigger AND keep my 2 by 2 ribbing is go up one needle size.  So for the last two inches of the leg, I used size 2 dpns.  
Toe-up sock #1,  toe taken from IK Summer 07, heel and cast-off from Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson

I don't think I've been this fiber-productive in a long time.  It feels pretty good and I think it fended off a cold I felt coming on.  Solid proof: knitting heals your soul and your body.  I'm sure the chocolate helped too.


Done with one... not so successful on the other

We spent the whole weekend finishing up the living room.  I am thrilled with this room.  I feel like I'm in a totally different house!  Here's a quick reminder of what it looked like before:

Note the DARK green walls, blue/grey cove, and dusty purple on the inside of the doorway.  Also, you can just see the edge of a weird section of wood paneling on the left.   What you can't see in this picture is that whoever painted this house used flat paint.  So you can see every fingerprint, smudge and scratch from anything or anyone that has ever come near these walls.   No one had ever filled a nail hole and the window and base moldings don't match the rest of the house.  

Here is that same corner in the middle of the re-do.  

Nail holes filled and sanded, moldings removed and wall partially removed.  Also, no more paneling!
And here it is as of last night at 9pm. 

New wall color is called Magnolia Spray.   It's just on the yellow side of cream with just a touch of peach.  It is so bright and clean.  We had such a problem in here with the dark green paint, even with our big bay window it was always dark in here.  We had FOUR lamps in here and with them all on, and all the kitchen lights on, it was still not light enough to read or knit comfortably.  Last night I turned the lights off in the rest of the house and turned only two lamps on (and the new lights over the new breakfast nook) and it was totally bright enough to knit.  Not that I was knitting...

Which brings me to my confession.  I haven't been knitting.  I have held it on my lap and stared at the chart.  I have held the first 20 rows and stretched and examined them.  But I haven't knit a stitch since I realized that every 4th line should have a little cable twist over 3 stitches and I wasn't doing them.  I am having such a hard time reading the chart, I don't understand why the chart couldn't be ONE BIG chart with all the stitches for the whole 36 row repeat.  I've never really done any cable projects before.  I did one pair of socks with a very simple cable over 4 stitches and I am currently working on a baby cardigan with a cable over 10 stitches.  I admit I am inexperienced.  But I am not dumb.  I can read a chart but why am I expected to remember so many repeats.  Is it so hard to print a complete chart?!   

See those sections of stockinette.  They aren't supposed to be stockinette.  

For the past three days, I've picked up the first 20 rows of the shrug and stared at it.  Comparing it to the chart.  Deciding which I want more; a finished, perfect shrug or a finished in a week shrug.  I think I have decided.  This is the first large garment I am making for myself (or anyone for that matter) and I do want it to be perfect.  What's teh point of spending $65 dollars on yarn, another $5 for the magazine/pattern and all that time if the finished product is shoddy at best?  I would accept a missed cable stitch in a sock.  I've looked past bigger mistakes than that, and generally I am a 'make it work' knitter.  But this is too much. 

I think at this point I have figured out all the possible problems I'll have with this pattern and chart.  I think I have the knowledge now to rip back and start over.  I will start over with the confidence that it will be the last time I rip back and cast on for this project.  

I am disappointed.  But I am also sitting in my bright new living room.  So I'll take the good with the bad this time.  
I'll leave you with some more pictures of the finished (but mostly unfurnished in these photos) living room.  



Day 4

Or is it?  Ok, right, this is day 5 of the Olympics.  So far I am not making good time on my shrug.  I am on row 9.  That works out to about one and a half rows or about 140 stitches per day since Friday.  Since there are 33,372 stitches (give or take a couple hundred) in my cabled shrug...  I'll be finished in...  um... about 240 days... 

I cast on 103 stitches Friday night during the opening ceremony and worked the 'set up' row.  No problemo.  I moved on to row one and proceeded to cable my little heart out. I was just using the page right out of the magazine but I photocopied it so I could use my magnetic board to keep track of what row I was on.  Moving along the charts to about row 4 when I realize there are two pairs of symbols in my chart that look exactly alike.  But they have different descriptions.  I was totally perplexed.  I stared at the photocopied chart for too long and had no idea what to make of it.  So I picked up the magazine and looked closely.  The symbols WERE different.  My photocopy just hadn't picked up the tiny little corners that were white on one pair and grey on the other pair.  In addition to that problem, I was not even sure which of the four symbols I was using where.


So I ripped and cast on again.
I wasn't too mad or frustrated, but glad I figured it out before I got through one whole repeat of the 36 row chart.  I got up and got four different colored markers.  I filled in the four different symbols with four different colors.  I didn't put too much thought into choosing what color markers to use for each symbol, I just grabbed four colors that would look pretty on my chart together.  Blue, light blue, turquoise and purple.  See where this is going?  

Here is my color-coded chart.   What?  you only see two colors in that chart?  yeah...  let's not dwell here too long, the problem is obvious.  Well, now it is anyway.  

I ripped and cast on again.

So today I enlarged the big chart on the photocopier at work.  and also made two enlarged copies  of the smaller side chart (it goes on either side of the big chart).  I cut the charts out and frankensteined them back together in the orientation I would knit them.  I chose four VERY distinct different colors and carefully color coded my enlarged Frankenstein chart.  I made little notes on the margins reminding myself of the tricky little things I had discovered during the four times I worked the first 5 to 9 rows of the charts. 

So now I am home.  The Olympics are on tv and I am ready to give this new chart with the knitting equivalent of training wheels on it a try.  Because the fifth time's a charm, right?  

I am not sure the 9 rows I have on my needle at the moment are correct.  Some little sections look like they are setting up to be cables.  There are other sections that look like I've been making stuff up as I go along.  I think I'll try to follow the charts for a couple more rows and see if those rows start to make sense.  If not...  I'm going to have to call in reinforcements.  I don't know who or what they'll be yet,  so this color coded Frankenstein chart better help.


Cozy shrug for the Olympics

I had decided a long time ago, exactly 4 years ago, that I would try again in the 2010 Knitting Olympics.  I did not get a medal in 2006, so this year I have extra motivation to accomplish my goal.   My first idea was to make fingerless gloves.  The kind that also have a mitten part that folds back to reveal bare fingertips.  I couldn't decide if that project would be too easy or too ambitious.  I guess I just wasn't feelin' it. 

There is a project in the very first knitting magazine I ever bought that I have always gone back to and oogled and oohed and aahed.  It has cables and requires quite a bit of yarn.  So I always had some excuse why I couldn't make it.  Either I didn't have the money to buy enough yarn that I would actually want to touch my skin (yummy wool perhaps with silk) or I didn't think I could successfully read and follow the cable charts. 

A couple weeks ago it was really cold in my house and I couldn't get warm.  I couldn't keep a blanket on my shoulders and the one on my lap wasn't enough.  In that moment I decided I had to finally make the Cabled Shrug from Interweave Knits Fall 2005.  And with the Knitting Olympics coming up, maybe I had a better chance of actually starting it AND finishing it.  And maybe even get to use it before it starts warming up this spring... haha, ok that last part is just funny.  I live in Michigan, I'll still be using this thing in June.

Thursday afternoon I headed out to Knit A Round in Ann Arbor and used the gift card I got from my coworkers for Christmas.  I found a gorgeous 100% wool that is softer than any pure wool I've ever felt.  I couldn't believe it didn't have a bit of acrylic or silk or something in it to make it so soft.   I picked out a nice rich chocolate brown but there wasn't enough.  After another 20 minutes of petting each color (there had to be 25 or more colors to choose from) I decided on a green.  Not quite sage, not quite celery, somewhere in between. 


As an added bonus, the yarn I chose was made in Michigan!  

And... I can't leave a yarn shop without some sock yarn...  two skeins of Koigu.  This colorway is so NOT me.  I think that's why I like it.  It's all rusts and orange and gold with just a few bits of light blue and a scant bit of purple.  I've never used koigu before and have seen so  much of it on other blogs for years and years.


I can't leave this post without an update on our living room remodel.  It's not done yet.  Soon though. 

Kitchen wall:  now you see it...

Now you don't!!!
Ryan is building a butcher block style counter top to go there and we'll have a little breakfast nook.  I am SO excited.  I have the most amazing and talented husband! 

Hopefully this project will be accomplished peacefully along with the Knitting Olympics...  fierce competition around here. 


Pining for a lazy Sunday

Our living room is still torn up.  I spent half the day yesterday with a palm sander, going over every inch of the old paint.  There have been so many coats of paint in that room and each one had a worse finish than the previous.  So many drip marks and bumps and places where it looked like they dropped the paint roller on the floor and kept painting, not caring that there were little bits of who-knows-what in the paint.  You can see a line around the whole room where it was poorly cut in.  So, we're sanding every inch of the room.  Since we are painting a light cream color, every little bump and ding will be very obvious.  We are also patching a ton of holes.  I think we are the first owners in this house's nearly 60 years of existence to ever patch a nail hole.  I am not a perfectionist, by any definition of the word, but you can't just paint a room without removing nails and patching holes.

Because there is so much sanding and mess going on in there, we've cleared out pretty much everything except the dining room table and a couch.  The tv and stand got moved into our bedroom and everything else is now in the sewing room. 

Wish us luck, I hope to have this project done before Valentines Day...

It is a dark, cold, rainy Sunday here.  It is after 11am and I am still in bed; with my laptop, a book, knitting, and the tv all right here...  going back to the palm sander feels like punishment.


The rest of '09 and looking toward '10

I've had some people prodding me for an update, so here it is.  Just a quick recap since October.

I'm a trucker and Ryan just got out of bed.  Bella is the doggy that had to stay home.

R to L is Ryan, Shannon, Daddy, me, Leah.  We stayed with my little sister Shannon in Chicago.  She and Leah cooked us an amazing Thanksgiving meal Wednesday night when we got there and then on Thursday we went to Maggiano's for an amazing family style dinner where we gorged ourselves on crazy good bruschetta,  pastas, traditional thanksgiving faire and amazing desserts! 

Santa came

He brought us a Wii and Super Mario Wii, and Wii Fit Plus.   I haven't been doing a whole lot other than playing Mario.  I am addicted and in less than a month have gotten to the Castle at the end of World 5.  I keep telling myself to slow down because if I beat the game this fast, then what am I going to do?!  But I just can't stop. 

Ryan's birthday is the day after Christmas and I planned a surprise birthday party for him.   It was great and he had NO idea anything was going on.


For his birthday I gave him a pair of (one finished but unfelted and one almost finished) clog slippers.  Here they are finished and ready for felting. 

The only other gift I made this holiday season are the cutest pair of baby slippers I have ever seen!  My cousin and his wife are having a baby in February.  Her shower was the first weekend in December, but the slippers weren't done until the 26th.  So I gave them to her at our family Christmas.


I think Bella got more gifts than any of us.  She was due though, she was a good girl this year and all of her toys were getting worn out, her balls didn't squeak any more and none of her stuffed animals had any fluff inside of them.  

As for 2010, January is shot.  We are in the middle of painting our living room.  As you can see in the "Surprise" picture above our front room is a dark forest green.  I've hated it since the day we moved in, possibly since before the house was ours.  The room is not very big, and we have a lot of furniture packed in there since it is a living room slash dining room.  That dark color on the walls makes it so dark even when the sun is shining through our large bay window.  We are going to work on it all week after work, getting it prepped for paint and then hopefully have it done by the end of next weekend.  After that is finished, my sewing room is an absolute mess.  A lot of the stuff that had to be cleared out of the front room for painting ended up in my sewing room.  And it was a pretty nice disaster before that happened too.  Things just keep going into the sewing room and never coming out.  So don't look for any sewing projects to be coming out of there anytime soon either.

I'll be knitting though...  if I'm not playing Mario.