Discipline and Self Control

Despite what some may think, the tedious nature of knitting and spinning really aren’t only for people with an extremely meticulous and focused nature. I honestly think it’s quite the contrary. At least such is the case for me. Knitting allows me to float around somewhat aimlessly while remaining productive. That might seem like an oxymoron, but indeed I can do a little of this and that, here and there, yet still feel as if I’m not wasting my life away.

That being said, I started cleaning this past weekend. And found…a ridiculous amount of WIPs. Too many to even begin to count. (This may not be a ton for you, but it’s a ton considering I a) just moved; b) just pared down my yarn stash to half due to that move; c) just started having a regular source of income for yarn) Nevertheless, I’ve come to a decision: no more fibrous purchases and starting any new projects (except “drinking” projects) until I finish all my current WIPs or Lent is over.

Now the meaning behind this decision is multi-faceted and can be interpreted in any way chosen; however I will not be spelling those out.

As of right now, the projects stand (in no particular order)

  • Sweetheart Pullover
  •  Awry
  • Mittens
  • Alpaca Cowl
  • Fingerless Mitts
  • Cadence Socks
  • Striped Socks
  • Lacey Scarf/Shawl
  • Last Summer’s Shirt/Sweater
  • 10-Year Blanket
  • Doily (yeah, I know a tatting project)

Let’s see what the progress is at the end of these six weeks. So far, I’ve finished half of the pair of striped socks…yay?

Til next time!

Discipline and Self Control

Project Sheep to Sweater: Dyeing

Disclaimer: By no means take any of these statements for fact. I am a wanna-be fiber artist attempting to process her own wool for the very first time by means of the project titled “Project Sheep to Sweater.” The following series of statements and any future statements are my observations only.

So my wool has been washed and hanging out with me for the past 7 months. After acquiring it I had washed it multiple times (see previous posts on washing and shearing) and let it dry completely. It then sat in a bin for the next 7 months, travelling from Pomona, to Los Angeles, driving north over 1,000 miles, to Bellevue (Washington), and finally to my apartment in Seattle. After many long months of waiting for my life to transition, I finally started with the dyeing process, thanks to the readily available supplies that are pretty easy to find here at Weaving Works.

Dyeing, when done correctly seems to be a science. I, however, do not do it correctly. At least I’ll admit it to myself. I have a little here and a little there. But I can definitely say I understand how it should be done correctly with ratios of ounces of liquid, grams of dye powder, amount of fiber, etc.

I acquired a crockpot at the nearby Goodwill for a mere $10 which was great. I didn’t want to spend too much; granted I’m sure I could have gotten one for cheaper, but it’s in great condition and I probably could have used it for cooking if I had so desired. I decided on the crockpot method due to the seemingly easy method of leaving it and basically forgetting it, only coming back to check every now and then so I could do things as I pleased.

So my first batch, I chose to do a chartreuse with my Rambouillet. (Quick project update: I’m blending my Rambouillet fleece with some Shetland and Tencel in order to get the strength of Shetland with some shimmer of Tencel; we’ll see how this goes). I thought, well 2 ounces of fiber will fit in the pot so lets do it! I followed that thought with “let’s fill (almost) the entire pot with water to ensure maximum coverage. Then let’s set it to low so it doesn’t felt. Then let’s open it regularly to make sure it’s okay. Then let’s add a little dye because this doesn’t seem to be working.”

Mistake. Fail. Fail. Meh.

The above picture is the crockpot at work. FOR SEVEN HOURS. It took so gosh darn long for the fiber to get up to temperature that I had to leave the house and turn it off by that time. Meaning there was no way in heck the dye set. So I was left with a wasted day and a pot of fiber that was attempting to dye.

Lesson here: Do not fill your crockpot up with this much water. You really don’t need that much water so long as it remains covered. Moreover, don’t keep opening the crockpot up! This only allowed the heat to escape so the temperature lowered, thus making it take way longer to get up to temperature.

I ended up having to recover from this pretty crappy mistake by redoing the process about 4 times until I got the desired result. In the end, I had to put this fleece into a bag where my not-so-satisfactory fleece goes that’ll be used for some woolen bitted yarn. But I absolutely despise waste so it will get used. Plus the wool became a weird green-light green with extreme changes that cannot be explained.

After this, I’ve gone with 1 ounce of fiber at a time, with barely enough water to cover it. This has resulted in a much more satisfactory result. Often times, I’ll let it get to the temperature it needs with a good amount of water, then keep it on warm through the night, turning it off in the morning. This way it lets the dye set and I can set it and forget it. 🙂

As you saw yesterday though it’s coming along really well. While the dyeing has been much more difficult and time consuming than I had thought, I still love it. And it’s getting better; lot’s better! I think if I can find a good sized pot at Goodwill, I might do the stovetop method when I have some spare time. It seems like it might go a lot faster, and seeing as I hope to dye/process about 1.5-2 lbs of fiber for this sweater, I still have about 1-1.5 lbs to go. I’m getting impatient with the dyeing.

Til next time!

Meet Penny, a dachshund from the Humane Society who had stolen my heart 2 weeks ago. She by no means replaces my Penny-weenie, but she is so heart-wrenchingly adorable. I am still rejoicing in the fact that she just got adopted today! 😀

Project Sheep to Sweater: Dyeing


Being binge crafter, I’ve been on a relatively constant spinning kick this week, meaning I hardly made progress on most of my knitting projects. That’s not to say everything’s been stagnant here.

I’ve finally finished spinning up the batch of wool that I’d gotten when I went out to Whidbey Island in August. I went out there with the intent of just hiking Deception Pass and spending the weekend out there, but the first night I encountered an absolutely lovely craft store in the city of Oak Harbor (where I stayed) where they sold only local fibers, yarns, etc. Moreover, this was an amazing place that had its own workshop where one could dye or spin their wool (among other things) as well. If only I lived closer to this place.

Now deception might be somewhat of a harsh name to give such a lovely fiber and yarn, but I feel that the colors, spinning & plying methods, and place and meaning of the fibers acquired have warranted such a name. It’s exactly what I think of when I see this yarn, for literal and more personal reasons. I have no idea what the different fibers are within this yarn and the colors vary greatly. Funny enough, upon first glance, it appears to be an aqua, teal flavored yarn.  But upon further examination, you can see the variety in fibers really well. And I really do believe the variety gives the yarn an amazing flavor, though it has yet to be knitted up so I’ll keep that in mind.

I’m extremely proud of the thoughts behind this yarn. Being immersed in thoughtful architecture has led me to search for a greater meaning behind every life decision, menial and major. Menial as it may seem, the meaning behind this wool makes spinning and (soon to be) knitting it so much more meaningful and enjoyable. I look at the yarn today and a wave of various feelings comes with a bundle of simple twisted fiber; I can see the twists and turns of life spun into this fiber.  More than just memories come with this fiber; emotions and nostalgia of that time in life.

I never really realized why the prospect of spinning and processing my own wool was so important to me. But after spending some time and thinking through all of the meaning and the ideas behind starting something from the very beginnings, it makes me realize how much each step of life can intrigue me. Knowing and learning about so many different stages in life and other forms of development such as design is absolutely fascinating and just constantly leaves me wanting more. I’m sure everyone has their medium for intrigue…any thoughts?


starting over and over (and over again)

I’ve had some trouble lately starting and continuing what I had deemed my travel project. I just came back from a 10 day trip to Cape Cod and have very little progress to show. I’m taking on Awry using Habu Paper Linen yarn on #4 needles.

Fail #1

My first attempt ended up with being twisted in the round. Yup, after joining 30482309 times in the round, I still make that same mistake occasionally. Worst part is, I had stayed up late to join (probably the source of my mistake) the night before my flight so I had slept only 4 hours before waking up to leave. So I had knit about 9 rounds (and I cast on about 296 stitches) before realizing that fatal error. Of course I was enraged (on a plane) and just slipped off the cord for the provisional cast on AND my circular needles (note to everyone: DON’T DO THAT. the result is a heap of tangled yarn). And so I spent about 3 hours til I landed untangling (then ended up cutting the yarn at the impossible tangle that stripped it of its leaves).

Fail #2

I cast on 296 stitches again about 2 days later after I was done sulking (yes, this adult sulks at her knitting). Hopefully the yarn and needles (who I blamed completely for that error) had learned their lesson after that. And they did. This seemed to be successful, I completed about 4 inches of knitting by the end of my lovely vacation…all seemed well. Then on the plane ride home, I held it up and realized This shirt seems big. Oh gosh…this is double my size. DOUBLE. Let the frogging commence. “Luckily” my flight was delayed a lot. As in 3 hours a lot. So I spent those (trapped) 3 hours frogging and casting on and recalculating.

Fail #3

I re-cast on a little more than half those stitches (I refuse to believe that I’m 140-some stitches in circumference). And joined. FATAL ERROR. About 4 rounds in, I realized I twisted yet AGAIN. Who in their right mind would make such a silly mistake…AGAIN? One would think that a) knowing how to knit in the round for years now and b) making that mistake a mere 10 days earlier, I would have been more careful. Nope. (halfway through the flight now)

Attempt #4

Note the label “attempt.” I haven’t found an error yet. But I have dropped the cord from the provisional cast on once and then realized I should secure it a little better. Luckily I’m on the hem round and so far so good..but I’m not getting too cocky yet. I guess this may have cured my start-itis for now…I’m shooting to finish at least a handful of my current WIPs before starting the Christmas knitting next month.

Though this may have seemed to be a nightmare of a problem project, I still love the yarn, love the needles, and love the project. I guess it’s the stubborn-ness in me that keeps me going.

In other news, it’s 2 days ’til the big moving day. And by big moving day, I mean moving about 1,200 miles away from where I’ve grown up. I guess it’s become-an-adult-time! (That also means, I’ll try to post between now and next week but that may or may not happen)

starting over and over (and over again)

On the Subject of Journeys

I have developed an affinity for traveling. That is not surprising, seeing as these past 8 months are as “stationary” as could be, my only trips being to Hawaii and Northern California. I have not taken out my passport since July. That’s rather weird for me. Anyway, since I got to traipse through Europe during my study abroad stay, I started a new travel habit: yarn store hopping! Of course, I did not aptly document this, only purchasing yarn but not taking any pictures, but that stops here (er, rather stopped when I went to Hawaii). Introducing Yarn Story:

During my week in Hawaii (for spring break), I was extremely adamant about my mission to purchase Hawaiian yarn. Well, picturing a tropical scenery and yarn don’t exactly go hand in hand but I found a yarn store nonetheless (well two, I didn’t get to go to the other one, sadly. Plus my budget wouldn’t allow it.) I walked all the way down King Street in my quest for yarn and spent a nice chunk of time (probably 2 hours-ish) simply talking to the shop owner. She was a lovely lady (though I did not catch her name) and we conversed extensively about spinning, knitting, and other fiber components. While there was only one type of yarn that was locally dyed in Hawaii (which I acquired and failed to take pictures of; those will come) there was some roving that I had purchased from some sheep off of another island. Acquired both.

Anyway, a lovely little shop very interestingly organized on the shelf and might have been the size of two of my bedrooms. If I could, I would have loved to go there and knit for an afternoon. Unfortunately, I have yet to do that even in my hometown.

On the Subject of Journeys