Monday, July 30, 2007

forty-two point two

Gather round and have a look. I bought buttons for my Kauni Cardie.

I just love Etsy. These are from TLess.

There are far more here than I need, but they are all so lovely that I just had to have them. I'll let you know what they are like when they arrive.

forty-two, the ultimate answer

42, the ultimate answer

In honour of the answer to the ultimate question (if you don't know what I'm on about, read The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy), I wanted to write something extraordinary. Perhaps a commentary on how buying organic foods often has equal or greater environmental damage to buying regular foods in the supermarket (this is mostly due to the fact that the majority of organic foods grown in North America are grown by large corporations and are shipped on average four times as far as regular produce. - the best way around this is to first buy locally produced foods (think the 100 mile diet - what's that in kilometers?) or even better, to buy locally produced organic foods). Or, I thought I might share my recipes for eco-friendly cleaning products which double as pest repellent for plants (a smelly drain is easily cured with two table spoons of backing soda with a white vinegar chaser (about a cup), allow to bubble away for ten minutes, rinse with hot watter, repeat as necessarily).

In the end, I decided that the ultimate answer is best honoured by sharing beautiful things.

Perhaps some of you remember when I utilized the sun to dye a roving to be Kool Kolour Kool Aid Dyed. See here and here for how to, and here for some photos of the end result. Well I finally finished spinning the first of two skeins and I learnt an important truth about 'setting the twist'. If you leave the singles on the bobbin too long, they don't ply so well. There, I said it. apparently too long is about a week. I just thought I would share this vital bit of info out there with my fellow (new) spinners.

But anyway, here are some photos of my two ply, woolen spun, sock yarn.

It has a lovely halo which comes from woolen spinning (twist entering the draft zone) but it won't be as strong as say worsted-style spun yarn. No matter, isn't the colour wonderfully vibrant?

My washed fleece is also just about dry, it's taking two days to dry, which isn't all that long I think. But have a look at the colour change.



Isn't it amazing?

My place on the Ravelry list:

Found you!
You signed up on June 24, 2007
You are #10909 on the list.
3596 people are ahead of you in line.
10567 people are behind you in line.
33% of the list has been invited so far

It looks like only three weeks left if everything keeps going this way. Although, I am nervious about it. What if it zaps all my fiber-time?

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I hope this knitting funk is over soon. Yesterday was another day with no knitting. Not only that, but while visiting a few yard sales, I passed up 2, that's TWO!, opportunities to purchase knitting needles (one of them even had a large bone (probably whale) crochet hook circa 1920s) and I passed them by.

With no knitting being done, I had to satisfy my need for fiber somehow, so I washed some of my new fleece that I picked up at the Salt Spring Island Fiber Fest. Here's what I did.

Last week I spread out the entire fleece on a tarp and sorted through it. It was then I learned why one uses gloves when handling raw fleece. I cut my finger on some invisible bit of dirt, and promptly remembered where I stored the rubber gloves.

There is a huge amount of variation. Some areas are jet black and quite coarse, most of it is grey with golden tips, but some of it is a fluffy light grey, almost like sunshine in a dusty room.

After picking through every bit of I could, looking for vegetable matter, this is all I found. She had said it was well skirted, but I had expected a lot more. Not bad for seven pounds of unwashed wool.

Speaking about unwashed wool. It was difficult to know how to turn dirty wool into clean wool. There seems to be an infinite number of ways to wash wool. Alden Amos in The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning, has a rather large chapter on scouring wool which involves an in-depth study on how soap works and how best to utilize a system of half a dozen bath tubs set up on your back lawn.

Spin to Knit: the knitter's guide to making yarn by Shannon Okey has an cursory look at washing yarn which if memory serves me correct includes includes some rather harsh shampoo or even (gasp) sunlight soap (that stuff is so hard on the hands and even worse on the earth).

So yesterday, I opted towards a modified method told to me by Brenda (my spinning instructor from the Victoria Fiber Festival). First off, I found a couple of those net bags designed for washing 'delicate'. I put about half a pound (225g) of wool in each bag.

Then I filled two tubs with hot water and home-made eco-friendly soap

I carefully pressed the bags of wool into the tubs. Notice the gloved hand? I tell you, that water was hot! But they tell me that's what wool wants.

The tub on the right side has had the wool pressed into it, the one on the left has only had it placed gently into the soapy water.

I let this first wash sit for just under half an hour. In the end it looked like a tub of mud with some wool in it.

The second rinse had half the amount of soap, and came up much cleaner. I left them in there for about ten minutes.

The third tub, just clean hot water. As you can see, almost all the grime is washed out of it. I kept it in this rinse for about two minutes.

I wuzzed the wool still in the bags - that is I took the bag firmly in hand at one end and swung it around in a circle to get out the excess watter.

I had considered laying my wool out on a flat surface to dry, but two things stopped me. First off, the wind was picking up, but second and most importantly, I remember the Yarn Harlots adventure with a devious squirrel (see here and especially here).

I know it will take longer to dry in the bags, but I feel much more secure drying it this way.

There was quite a lot of water, considering that I used eco-friendly soap (which doubles as a pest repellent), I wish I could have done it at my allotment garden and given the rinse water to the plants. Sadly, there is no hot watter there. I suppose it will just have to keep going down the drain until I have my own place.

Other good news, I'm starting to sleep at night. Some nights this week I've had five or even six hours sleep. Don't you dare suggest that there is an inverse correlation between knitting and sleeping (ie. less knitting = more sleeping), because it's just not true. It can't be and that's that!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

forty point one

While reading blogs (check out Wool-Crazy in Ottawa - another wonderful Canadian blog) I came across Unraveled, which I should have been reading already - but there are so many blogs out there. Particularly of interest is this post where you can discover how far along you are on the wait list for Ravelry.

I will be the first to admit that I didn't understand Ravelry. In fact, I am willing to say that I still don't. But as more and more people start talking about it on their blogs, I thought that I should sign up soon or I'll never get in.

So here I am:
Found you!
You signed up on June 24, 2007
You are #10909 on the list.
3823 people are ahead of you in line.
10288 people are behind you in
32% of the list has been invited so far

A while yet to go I think, but at least there are more behind me than in front. That's always a comfort. Not to mention, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... the longer I wait for Ravelry to invite me in, the more excited I become.


At long last, an opportunity to tell you about my adventures at the Salt Spring Island Fiber Festival.

Y, my father and I caught a ferry to the little island quite early in the morning. A bit too early for some of us, but once we were on our way, things began to cheer up. The weather threatened rain, misty in some places, sunny in others. But the rain held off until we began our journey home.

The view from the boat:

Here is Y on the boat. Still a little bit sleepy, but enjoying herself I think.

Of course, the token WIP project, Monkey socks.

The fiber festival was on the same day as the Harry Potter Launch. Everywhere we went on the island, there were people talking about the book. There were even a few wizards walking around in full costume.

A creative fence:

And at last, the fiber festival itself. Nestled next to a stream, it was like a little piece of heaven on earth.

Now, I must stop here and admit to you that large quantities of fiber, all in the same place, with people spinning, weaving, knitting, carding, &c. all in one place, made me a little crazy. So crazy that at this point in my adventure, I stopped talking photos. It's a shame really, as there were so many wonderful things to see. The flax demonstration ensnared me for quite some time. The wonderful sheep to shall spinners and weavers captured me in their web. And the shopping, ah yes, the shopping. So much shopping, and yet somehow I stayed under budget! Mostly because one of my first items was an unwashed, well skirted light grey Romney fleece (photos to come later).

I also purchased some silk from Treenway Silks:

Some hand carders:

And some Alpaca sheared from a saucy fellow called Pedro:

Oh yes, I did manage to take one photo at the fiber festival:

On the way home, we drove via Duncan and saw the home of the worlds largest hockey stick.

That's the best photo I could manage as we drove past, but if it's any comfort, most of my photos turned out like this (thank goodness for digital cameras).

You can almost make it out, the hockey stick and puck that is, if you squint.

For some reason I didn't buy any yarn. I think I was overwhelmed with the amount of work that all this fiber will take to turn into yarn level on knit. I wonder how many sweaters I can knit with seven pounds of wool?

What did I enjoy most? So many things, but two really stand out, first and foremost, day-tripping with friends and family. Second, the opportunity to purchase directly from the farmers that raised the animals.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


First and foremost - thank you to those who sent their condolences. It's appreciated.

I've been in a knitting funk the last few days. Injured fingers aside, every time I pick up my Kauni sweater or my Monkey socks, I just don't have the heart to do more than a few stitches before feeling overwhelmingly sad. You see, my 'darling' cat loved it best when I knit. That half hour or so every morning, me drinking coffee and knitting, her curled up beside me - that time every day was one of the few moments in the day when she looked 'happy'. She was a grumpy cat, a real pain in the ass. But she was my cat. And I miss having her.

I've got to find some way out of this funk. I've been spinning a bit.

The kool kolour kool-aid dye as singles waiting to be plied.

What I really want to do is to knit without feeling sad. Perhaps talking about the most beautiful sweater I've made so far will help - My Kauni:

I am making the medium size Kauni, with a seven (rather than thirteen) stitch steek. The last (and only time) I knit a sweater with steaks, I only had five stitch. Albeit, it was of a thicker yarn and I crochet the edge (which worked extremely well). I haven't decided how I will do these steeks yet, but I think an argument with my sewing machine will be involved.

The edge curls like the devil, I used the traditional long-tail cast on instead of the twisted German one they KAL recommended. I think if I were to knit this again, I would use a two colour gtst edge as it a) curls less and b) keeps more with the overall colour pattern.

The colour pattern goes green, purple, dark blue, light blue. Yarn A began at about the middle of green and yarn B began at the very beginning of dark blue. I not only staggered which colours they began at, but because of the long colour repeat, I staggered where I started in the colour length so that it would appear to change colour more often.

I've taken photos with the flash off and the flash on as the colours are quite muted and I don't know how it will display on your monitors at home.

That's about all I've got for now. Hopefully the knitting funk is almost over and I can get some more done on my Kauni soon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm sad

What a crazy day it was yesterday. So many things seemed to go wrong. Inanimate objects like door frames jumped out and hit me as I walked by, I cut my right pointy finger on some invisible bit of dirt while examining my new fleece (I picked it up at the Salt Spring Island Fiber Fest), and I cut my right thumb pealing potatoes (first time I've ever done that). Those are pretty much my main knitting fingers (aside from my left thumb which somehow escaped unscathed).

On top of all that, my cat died last night.

I have to go burry her this afternoon. As I don't have a yard, my grandfather said that I can use his garden. She had been poorly for some time now, but still, I'm pretty broken up about it. so I'm taking today (and maybe tomorrow) off from the world.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


There is something magical about staying home on a rainy day, cuddling up in one's favorite comfy chair with one's knitting. The wind, pounding rain against the window, your afghan wrapped around you like a protective shield, and a cup of your most favorite hot beverage on the table at your elbow.

For all you care, the weather can rage all it wants to. In fact, the worse it gets, the more content you feel snuggled in your home - safe, protected from the storm. And if by some chance, the weather in one violent serge, knocks the power out, you have an oil lamp that you can pull down from the top shelf, already full of oil, ready to light. As you sit there knitting, the rain floundering against the window, you almost hope that the power will go out so that you can perch yourself precariously on a chair and bring down that old lamp that your aunt gave you oh so many years ago. There is nothing quite as comforting as knitting by lamp light with a storm raging at your doorstep.

Knitters like rain, I think well tell ourselves that it is because, in the rain, we have nothing else to draw upon our time: no gardening can be accomplished, it's impractical to wash the dog, and grocery shopping, well that can wait until the sun is shining - who wants wet groceries anyway? But really, knitters love to knit during a rainstorm because it feels right. Centuries of knitters before us have knit in the rain and now we do too. Knitting goes with rain like hot goes with chocolate - perfectly!

Knitters like rain, but what about the other way around? Does rain like knitters? Is it possible? What proof can be offered to support this far-out hypothesis? Do knitters, brimming with anticipation of, lets say for example, an upcoming fiber festival, emit a vibe that draws rain like coffee draws the half-asleep into the wakening world? Is that why, the two fiber festivals I attend this year have forecast for heavy rain?

I'll be at the Salt Spring Island Fiber Festival today. Hopefully the weather forecast is wrong.

On a side note, what kind of git waters their lawn in the rain? We have had a week of substantial rain and the git in charge of installing and monitoring the automated sprinklers for our building not only has not turned off the lawn sprinklers, but has somehow managed to set the noisy sprinklers so that they come on at the front (our side of the building - the ones on his side start up at a more reasonable time of day) just before 4am. Not good for someone suffering form insomnia and tends to only sleep from one to six am anyway! UG! Me want sleep! Me want not to hurt earth by waisting water!
(oh yes, any spelling mistakes today are entirely due to lack of sleep)

Thursday, July 19, 2007


You know, I thought I knit pretty fast, that is when I have time to knit. But seeing all the people at the KauniKAL finishing their projects in no time flat, I feel rather inadequate. Although, perhaps not reality, it seems as if they cast on in the morning, and by the afternoon of the second day, they have finished the body and half a sleeve. Yes, some people have more time on their hands than I do. I work, I have family obligations, and I am lucky if I have an hour or two of knitting/fiber time a day.

It gives me a mixed feeling to see these knitting divas. Mostly, I am excited and glad to see another person create something beautiful with their hands, some string and two sticks. It's inspiring. It also sometimes, albeit, not very often, it feels as if I have swallowed the scratchy green yarn of jealousy. I wish I could knit that fast, I wish I had that much knitting time, I wish I had that skill, I wish...

I know it's wrong to think this way. I know it's not something us bloggers discuss very often. But I thought I would share this with you in case there is someone out there who has felt the same at some time in their life - someone else who has tasted of the scratchy green yarn of knitters-envy. You are not alone. I think that all who read knitting blogs must feel this way at some time. It's not a spiteful feeling, it's a natural reaction to seeing such beautiful creations.

When I feel this way, when I choke on that scratchy length of puke green yarn, I remember why I made this blog in the first place. This blog was created to help me learn how to take my darker emotions and transform them into something beautiful and productive. Trampled by Geese is from a Kierkegaard quote (roughly translated): Being trampled by geese is a slow way of dieing, but being worn away to death by envy is even slower and more painful.

Whenever I feel that jealous sensation approaching, I take it and transform it into inspiration. Whenever I think, "I wish I could do that," I change it into "What a wonderful creation, how can I aspire to be like that person?" It's not easy at first, but it gets better with practice.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Kauni one: Bird zero

I have finally received my Kauni yarn yesterday and I'll tell you now, it's beautiful, albeit, quite different from what I expected.

To start with, the people at the KauniKAL are right, it is a little bit scratchy. But no matter, I like wool that feels like wool. Besides, as a cardigan, it's not going to be right next to my skin.

The colours are wonderful. I ordered EF which is muted green, purple, dark blue, light blue (in the order). It's exactly what I wanted and perfect match for the rest of my wardrobe.

The yarn is much thinner than I expected. Yes, I knew that we are going to be knitting at a gage far smaller than I've ever knit a sweater before. But I didn't realize (and this is important when it comes to winding the skeins by hand) that when you have thinner yarn, you have longer yarn! Longer yarn takes much longer to wind by hand than shorter yarn.

I put the skein on the swift and with my trusty nostepinne, began to wind.

I kept winding and the ball got bigger.

And it got even bigger.

Until I had two monster balls of yarn (they would never have fit on a ball winder anyway - I'm glad I didn't fork out $60 for one) and one little ball of yarn which I made to displace the colour repeats.

Lastly, I learnt, as per Danielle's comment on thirty-five, the yarn is thicker and thinner in different spots. Not a lot, but enough to make a difference while you are knitting. It has been a while since I knit with two colours, so my tension to begin with took a few rounds to adjust, but even with that, I still had problems.

Yarn one, dedicated to the knit stitches in the ribbing, was considerably thinner than yarn two (purl sts). So, I knit an inch of two colour ribbing with the knit stitches receding into the background and the purl sts standing out as lumpy ridges. Not what I wanted. I've frogged it out already. This time I'll start again, but with the knit sts in yarn two and the purls in the thinner of the two yarns. Hopefully, problem solved.

It doesn't bode especially well if by the end of day one, I've already frogged it. Here's hoping that things will go better from here.