Friday, June 30, 2006


Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and words. It is a fitting tribute to a good dog.
As the title says, I'm going on vacation. I have to say that if my dog had to suddenly sicken and die, I'm glad she did it while I was home and not thousands of miles away. It would have truly broken my heart for her to be as sick as she was and feeling like I had abandoned her. Never mind my poor mother having to have her put to sleep. It is just better all around this way.
Anyway, I am leaving for the West Coast tomorrow to visit my friend Jess, the Reiki Master and best friend from Junior High. I'll try to blog if I can. I will certainly take a lot of pictures and fill you all in about it when I get back. Also, remember that the shop will be closed from tomorrow (7/1) to Tuesday, 7/11. No Knitting or Spinning Groups next week either.
Now, having finally finished the Knit Out's 501(c) 3 application (not as bad as I thought it would be), I must pack and get ready for this trip!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Yesterday was a sad day here. Actually, today is still sad but what can you do.

Yesterday, I said goodbye to my little Maggie. She was a grand old lady of 16 ½ and had lead a long and eventful life.
I got Maggie and her sister Ginger one day over fifteen years ago when my friend Cordie dragged me to the shelter because she wanted a dog. I already had a dog so was just ‘along for the ride’. Did Cordie get a dog that day? Nope. Me, I got two!
Until only a few years ago, I always, always had three dogs. They consisted of a succession of large breed rescue dogs (none of whom lived very long because they were old to begin with and big dogs just don’t live that long) and Maggie and Ginger. When my last big dog died, I made the landmark decision not to get another (there’s only so much time you want to spend washing spit off the ceiling as you get older). This was just fine with Maggie since she had spent most of these years trying to bully and dominate all of these 100+ lbs dogs. Considering she topped out at 20 lbs, she managed to do this with surprising success. I often wondered if she would have been Alpha Dog if she had been just 10 lbs heavier.
When I lost Ginger about a year and a half ago, I was very much afraid that Maggie would pine away without her. After all, they’d never been apart since conception. Just the opposite happened. Apparently, Maggie had been waiting her whole life to be an only dog. I remember watching her as it dawned on her that “Omigod! They’re finally all gone!!” So she had a glorious year and a half of being my only dog.
It is so strange not having a dog in the house. After all, this is the first time I’ve been without a dog in over sixteen years. Maggie has been gone for less than 24 hours and I can’t believe how much my life was regulated by her presence. For sixteen years, I have had a constant subroutine going in my brain that consisted of ‘Does the dog need to go out?’ ‘Does the dog need to come in?’ ‘Is there fresh water in the bowl?’ ‘Did I leave something around that the dog will chew up?’ ‘Has the dog gotten enough love today?’ and so on. It’s unbelievable! It’s just constant!
I feel like Maggie’s passing brings me to the end of an era. She was a good girl though she was never very snuggly. She took her job as a dog seriously and did it well. I’m glad she got her time as an only dog and I think she was very happy in the last few years of her life. It is hard to believe she’s gone.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dye Day Wrap-Up

I do wool dyeing in my kitchen which means I have to clear out anything edible. I cover my counters with plastic wrap then newspaper.

It is important, and I can’t emphasize this enough, to have dedicated pots, pans and utensils for dyeing. Dyes are quite toxic and you never want to use dyepots for food!
With wool and any other protein fibers, you use acidity and heat. Here is the yarn soaking in water and vinegar.

I also use this stuff called synthropol to help the yarn take the dye better.
After that, I apply the dye. I do a bunch of different techniques (none of which I managed to take a picture of, sorry about that) but they all end up with the yarn wrapped in plastic wrap and then steamed.

Once the dye is set, I rinse the yarn

and take it out to the back fence to dry. You may think the skeins stay all nice and neat during the dye process but a lot of them end up looking like this.

I have my tricks for fixing them but there is generally some foul language involved.

I had a lot of fun dyeing yarn yesterday. I did a bunch of my favorite colors and experimented with several more. Subway Knitter suggested several colors to me and I actually was able to do a couple of them. Both gunmetal gray and raisin came out really well. The picture doesn’t really do them justice.

I tried three times to do a sage and here’s what happened:

Not really,

ah, nope,
and, not even close.
I came to the conclusion that I really needed to buy a dye that specifically says “sage” because I’m obviously unable to mix it.
Look for all the yarn to get posted on Etsy in the next few days. Remember, if you order after June 29, you'll have to wait for me to get back from vacation to mail it to you.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I've Dyed Until I'm Dead

Remember this?

Now it looks like this

and this.

I can’t believe I got through all that yarn by myself! Usually, Kerry, my trusty minion and Queen of All Orange, plays hookie and helps me out. Unfortunately, young Kerry is busy moving into her newly painted house and, though the allure of sock yarn is great, was not able to join me. I’ve been dyeing yarn since 9am and, as my mother likes to say (warning, Mommism coming up) “I’ve died and I’m too dumb to lie down.” Which is, of course, why I’m sitting here at the computer blogging.
I think I’m going to sign off now, though. I have a bunch of pictures and will do a full dye day round up tomorrow. Even though I got all the yarn dyed, my kitchen still pretty much looks like this.

I think I’ll order pizza and deal with it in the morning.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Here are the pictures that blogger wouldn't let me upload yesterday.
From Monday, we have the graduate!

A fine young man and, as he will often tell you, now a ninth grader!

Tuesday-See how much knitting I got done on the bus. I know it's not that much but its's on size 3's!

Next we have Kerry edging the livingroom

and the Lovely Deb painting the bathroom. I got her pretty bad with the flash but I'm fairly sure her vision has returned by now ;-)

Everyone should have a sunny yellow kitchen with white trim!

I didn't mention it but Kerry and Deb seem to paint very successfully with out using drop cloths! This is a new concept for me. I found it quite challenging but I managed not to ruin their floors.

Wednesday-The winding goes on! I love a big pile of yarn!

This is what I had left at the beginning of the day yesterday. I've gotten a lot more done since then and I'm hoping to finish it up today!

So that's all the pictures! Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

Good grief! Where do I start! I feel like I have been in constant motion since I last posted!
Well, here’s what I’ve done since you last heard from me.

Went to morning practice at the Zen Center then grabbed some lunch and met Guido and his Pumpkin for a delightful sail on the Charles all afternoon.

7am Get up early and got everything ready and printed for my evening Knit Out meeting.
9:30am Get on my bike and head up to see my grandmother.
Half way there, hear my bike make a sound something like toingggg, think, “This can’t be good”. Stop and find out that I’ve broken a spoke. Fortunately, I’m only about ¼ mile away from the bike path bike shop. Stop and get my spoke fixed.
10:40am Get the rest of the way to Arlington Heights and visit Grandma.
11:20am Head back home
11:45am Get home and get ready for Big Nephew’s eighth grade graduation
12:15pm Head over to CVS to get said nephew a card and some money to put in it (never say I leave these things until the last minute).
12:25pm Meet my mother and brother headed out the door to go. Mom says “hurry, hurry”! My mother is compulsively early. Run in and get my bag.
12:45pm Get to Baldwin School
1pm Watch one of the sweetest and nicest (and most brief!) graduation ceremonies I’ve ever been to.
2pm Head home
2:20-3:30pm Wait for Little Nephew to get home from daycare so that we can go out to a late lunch to celebrate. Listen to my mother and brother argue about the fact that he doesn’t like Thai food and why do we have to out to eat any way.
3:30-4:30pm Eat a fairly tense meal with my family. Amuse myself by introducing Little Nephew to bubble tea.
4:30pm Return home and collapse for 45 mins.
5:30pm Change bags and head out to Knit Out meeting.
6:30-7:45pm Have a very productive Knit Out meeting. Thank you to every one who made it!
8:45pm Return home after stopping at a friend’s house to feed cats while they were out of town.
9pm Sound asleep

8:30am Leave the house to run some errands and catch the 350 bus to Burlington to go help some friends’ paint their brand new house. The bus ride was perfect knitting time.
10:30am Arrive in Burlington. Receive the 25-cent tour and spend the day painting Kerry and Deb’s delightful new house!
5:40pm Head home and collapse. Beginning to really look forward to opening the shop tomorrow just so I can sit down!

AM Go to the post office, bank, grocery store and pick up shop. The only problem with being closed three days in a row in the summer is that I have 50% more time to mess up the shop before I open again on Wednesday.
PM Open shop, wind yarn. Spend two hours sending out Knit Out related email, wind yarn some more. Have knitting group.

Well, today has been pretty slow. All I’ve done is ride my bike up to Arlington Heights and get more groceries from Trader Joe’s. I’m sure I’m going to have lots to do today but for now I’m ignoring the list and having a little bloggy fun. I tell you, it’s a good thing I’m taking that iron suppliment or I’d have needed medical attention sometime mid-Monday.

I can't seem to post pictures this morning but check back. I have some fun ones and I'll try to post them later today.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My, my, my, what do we have here?

A veritable mountain of sock yarn. You are looking at 22 lbs of sock yarn waiting to be wound off and dyed! That’s 88 pairs of socks worth! The little cones are a new sock yarn I'm trying. It is a two-ply, fingering weight, superwash merino. We'll see how it works out.
I’ll be dyeing all this a week from Monday.
Let’s see it again!

Mmmmm, sock yarn!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sweater Progress, Sort Of

Well, folks, I’ve been working on Jess’ sweater since Tuesday and look how far I’ve gotten!

I did a fairly extensive gauge swatch first on #4 needles (too loose) then on #3 needles (pretty good but 3’s for cryin’ out loud), and then doubled the yarn on #6. I was torn between the single stand on 3’s and the double on 6’s. The knitting group came down firmly on the side of the 3’s (dammit). I was still questioning it so I emailed Jess and she said she’d get more use out of a thinner sweater. 3’s it is!
So I measured the swatch and thought I had 6sts/inch, but, as the Yarn Harlot says, gauge swatches lie. I had cast on 280 sts on a #2 (#2, people! For an adult sweater!) to do the bottom band. I was knitting along and it just seemed, well, large. I looked at it hard and thought I’d start again with, hmmm, maybe, 12 less stitches. I took it off the needles and, just for kicks, put it around myself to see how big it really was. It was a good thing I did this! It was going to be huge on me and Jess is half my size! So here I am casting on 200sts and blogging (whining) to you all about it. Let’s hope 200’s my number. I’ll keep you posted!
Hope you all have a nice weekend. I had a divine bike ride this morning. The honeysuckle is blooming along the bike path and it smells very sweet.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What's My World View?

I've removed this post because the HTML I cut and pasted fouled up my sidebar. It was a fun quiz, though. I hope you got a chance to take it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Call me Queen of the Buckets

As promised, here are some pictures from the cotton dyeing I did yesterday. Actually, one yarn was 100% cotton and the other was a cotton/rayon blend. Rayon is a vegetable fiber so the cotton dyes work on it just fine.
Cotton is different to dye than wool. You use different dyes and you don’t have to steam it. You just soak it in the dye and then rinse it. You have to rinse it a lot more than wool too. It can be a lot like doing laundry by hand.
Yesterday I dyed this:

Included in here is another Hall of Shame UFO. Last year, my friend Jessica, a Reiki Master, let me take a weekend class of hers for free in return for a sweater. Yesterday, I finally (FINALLY!) dyed the yarn for it. I’m going out to see her in California the first week of July and my goal is to be knitting her sweater on the plane.
Here is how her yarn looked in the buckets.

I love how the colors mix where the yarn goes from one bucket to the next!
You have to be fairly organized with cotton dyeing since you can only do as many colors as you have buckets. I wasn’t all that organized yesterday so I had to do the dyeing in two batches. That and I can’t seem to find all my buckets! I used to have at least nine buckets and I was only able to find four of them. I have a funny feeling that at least a few of them are upstairs in my mother’s apartment (which will be thoroughly searched in the near future!).

Anyway, here’s the finished yarn drying on the back fence.

The blues and greens were the first batch and the oranges and yellows were the second batch. Everything is going to get listed on Etsy today except the blue-green variegated (top picture, left side) which if for Jess’ sweater. I’m going to start knitting that tomorrow (or whenever the yarn dries!). If the cottons start selling on Etsy and in the shop, I’ll definitely be dyeing more.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fight MS! Support Claudia!

Long time spinner, knitter and blogger extraordinaire Claudia is doing the MS ride. If you send her a donation, she will put your name in a drawing for fabulous prizes one of which will be this!

8oz., 490 yds of mohair boucle hand dyed by yours truly! This skein sells in my shop for $50. I'll even include a poncho pattern if you would like. So pledge early and pledge often! It's a great cause!

Scarf Madness

The Cambridge Zen Center had its annual fundraiser on Saturday. This was the event that I had knit the lace scarf for. After the shop sale, since there was a bunch of novelty yarn left in the sale bin, I decided to knit a couple of silly scarves for them to sell. The silliest one of all was the eyelash scarf that Danielle named Zsa Zsa. This scarf gives a person a lot of options as Susan is demonstrating here:




It was a lot of fun making this silly thing and it earned some money for the Zen Center.

Because of time constraints, the lace scarf almost didn’t get auctioned, but they managed to squeeze it in. Here is the winner of the scarf, Patrick and his girlfriend Kuen (a couple of the nicest people you ever want to meet!).

Patrick, of course, got the scarf for Kuen, so romantic! Kuen is a knitter herself so she understands the amount of work that went into making it. I’m very pleased.

What am I doing today? Today, I dye cotton for the first time in about 5 years. That is, I will if the UPS man ever comes with my dye activator! In the meantime, I'm busy tracking down all my buckets. Cotton dyeing is all about the buckets! I'll put up pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe!

I forgot to mention something very important about my new iron supplement. It has a very serious warning label that reads:

Keep refrigerated at all times after opening.
This product contains no alcohol or preservatives.
This bottle must be refrigerated after opening to preserve this product and prevent fermentation. Failure to refrigerate this product may cause the contents to expand and the bottle to shatter, which could result in the risk of serious injury.
That means if you leave it out, it could EXPLODE! I mean, one minute, mild mannered supplement, the next, KABOOM! I can't even begin to tell you how much this cracks me up!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Iron & Chocolate (what more does a girl need?)

I did a lot of bike riding yesterday and what a beautiful day it was! I think it worthy to note that I also felt better than I have in a long time and I credit that with the fact that I’ve started taking an iron supplement. I asked my friend Doria a.k.a. The Village Witch for a good one to take and she recommended Floradix.

Looks like plant fertilizer, doesn’t it? It is actually a liquid and doesn’t seem to have a lot of the unpleasant side effects of regular iron supplements. I’m amazed at how much better I feel! I may even try to give blood again. I haven’t been able to do that since college! Anyway, girlz, if you are feeling a little under the weather, get thee an iron supplement. It’s making me downright perky!

Tonight at knitting group, we are going to have a special treat!


This is chocolate from Russia. Old friend and one of the original knitting group members, Letitia, brought it by on Monday. I, of course, forgot to get a picture of her. She is working in Russia now and stopped by on a visit to the area. It was really great to see her!
Anyone who is willing is going to be asked to help fold and stuff envelopes for the Knit Out shop letter. We’re hoping to get that out tomorrow. There's chocolate in it for you!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blocking Day

Thank you to everyone who came by to shop the sale! It was my best sale ever and I want you all to know how much I appreciate your support!

There are a number of shelves where a few lonely skeins huddle together wondering where all their friends went (that shelf was full last Wednesday!). Needless to say, I'm going to order a bunch of stuff this afternoon, some of which will be sock yarn. Look for it in the shop and listed on Etsy by the end of the month.

Now it's time to block some lace! When you finish knitting lace, that’s only the first part. The most important (and gratifying) part is the blocking. I’ve tried blocking lace a number of ways and, though most of them have worked well, they have all been really time consuming. This time, I am trying pinning it out. Since I don’t have a rug or a spare bed to do this on, I went to Home Depot (expecting to see Grumperina any minute) and got a piece of ¾” foam insulation.

I had to cut the end off to fit in the car but what I had left was plenty. If you decide to ever use this method, be sure to wash off the insulation before you start. Home Depot is full of many nifty things but it is also full of dust! I can’t believe how dirty my hands were when I got home.
This is straight edged lace so I ran a thread down each side to save pins and avoid making the edge wavy. The end is actually supposed to be wavy so I just pinned the points.

The next step is to soak the lace. The Yarn Harlot seems to like to soak stuff for a while just to show it who’s boss. I am not as patient and only soaked this for about five minutes. When I took it out, I rolled it in a couple of towels (one wasn’t long enough) and knelt on it to really give it a good squish. It is amazing how much water 2 oz. of lace can hold!

The last step is, of course, the pinning, which went relatively quickly. It was really cool how the wavy edge straightened out when I pulled on the threads!

I’ll definitely use that technique again. The ends are not as wavy as they are meant to be.

I bound off too tightly which is really bizarre for me. I’m some kind of freak of nature in that I almost always bind off too loose. Ah, well, too late now. I’ll remember it for the next time. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the results. This is my first time knitting lace from my own handspun and I’ve enjoyed the experience. I’ve actually started spinning some cashmere for next year!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Just sale-ing along!

The sale has been going well. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. There aren't too many pictures because I'm too busy waiting on people. Here are a few, though:

Here is Stacey helping herself to some merino-silk blend for spinning,

another happy customer (can't believe I forgot her name!!) with some Wonderful Wool,

and Pam and Erika getting ready to do some damage. Pam, if you're reading this, leave your blog name in the comments and I'll put up a link! Pam is, sadly, moving to Florida soon but vows to stay connected to the area through all the blogs.

Yesterday, I had a mother and her two daughters in here all learning to spin. Here is the lovely and talented Sophie

and her equally lovely and talented sister Rebecca both spinning like old pros.

Their wheel is a very elderly Ashford Traditional, probably one of the first ones to enter this country. I have such a soft spot for these old wheels and the beautiful thing about Ashford is that you can still get all the parts for them. These girls may very well be passing this wheel down to their own kids!

In other news, I've finished the lace scarf and will, hopefully, be showing you blocking pictures on Monday. I'd show you a picture now, but like most unblocked lace, it really doesn't look like much.