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Happy Halloween everybody! I’ll be waiting with the candy…

spooky house 2

Nobody ever comes Trick or Treating at our house, though. Huh.

For gift knitting.

First up: HG, niece extraordinaire. Her birthday’s in a month. She’ll be four. She needs to be a princess.

Auntie Chemgrrl to the rescue! It’s another felted princess hat!

Before felting:

princess hat before felting
Let’s welcome our newest member of the Barbie Hamas!

After felting:

princess hat after felting
Now child-sized.

Does it go without saying that it shrank a lot?

I think I’m going to change the sash thingie. It doesn’t really go. It was left over from when I made another one of these princess hats for niece E, two summers ago. The pattern is tedious to knit, but the end product goes down like gangbusters. Mom of niece and nephew E (I made him one too, only of the wizard variety) said they wouldn’t take them off for days. I guess they got some really strange looks driving down the highway.

Pattern: Felted wizard and princess hats, from New Knits on the Block
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes, tulip, 2.5 skeins
Needle: Addi turbos, size 11, 16″
Begun: about two weeks ago
Finished: last week sometime
For: HG, niece

So check that one off my list. Next up is the Christmas knitting. Delicato mitts have been started for HG’s mummy, my SIL. I’ve actually already finished mitt #1, and cast on for #2 (but no pictures yet–it’s really hard to take a pic of your hand when you have a manual focus camera, ya know?). I also cast on for some Dashings (sans cables) out of Wool-ease (it was laying around…) for my big brother. Baby J will get a pair of Devil pants–I think I’m going to use that leftover CotLin from cherry, but I’m not 100% on that yet. My FIL will get a Scholar Collar, and HG’s getting some swat team kitties. Thus ends the Christmas knitting. Oh, and I’m making another crazy hat for the blub, out of Malabrigo. This one, except for adult sized. That’s really it. I gave myself limits this year.

Le sigh. I love making things for people, but right now it seems like work. I really want to cast on for some socks, as I’ve gotten some really nice sock yarn lately. I also am jonesing to start another sweater, as I’ve just come into some Debbie Bliss Aran tweed (02), from a swap. It’s red! I heart red!

But no, I have to finish the gifty knitting first. Head to the grindstone, nose to the wheel. Get ‘er done, as my weird friend Cara would say. Well, I did start some other socks awhile ago. I saw the Rainbow socks pattern from the October issue of Magknits and I just had to try them. So I grabbed some of my nice Vesper and cast on. I turned them around and made them toe-up. Good thing, because I can easily turn them into something else.

wonky rainbow sock

Ick! I don’t like them. They look like ten kinds of patooty left out on a hot summer day. See that section below the dental floss lifeline? The knitted fabric’s all wonky and bumpy from the short rows. So into the frog pond they will go.

eeek! needles in creek

They almost went into the creek, but that was an accident. I grabbed them in time, but some needles went over. Good thing it’s been kind of dry lately. We could have had an epic, here!

Got some knitting to do. Over and out.

Happy, indeedy. Here’s what I’ve been

Reading (I really like Gregory McGuire, but for once I’d like to read a book of his not based on another story. The “homework assignment for Creative Writing class” thing is getting a little old.)

Listening to


. This was kind of lame. The story had holes you could have um, fit a house through. The animation and the acting were good, though.

And speaking of Halloween…

I got my Weenie Swap package! Wanna see my goodies?

weenie goodies 2

Sorry for the el crapo picture. It was raining, so I had to set everything up under the eaves of the house. In the picture above are (deep breath) a pumpkin bucket, Reese’s peanut butter cups, two Scary Stories books, a DVD of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” (already popped that puppy into the DVD player), a flashing light up ghost necklace, a kickass Halloween mug, a Starbucks giftcard, a pumpkin pie candle, a little stuffed black kitty, a skully Pez dispenser, a little Great Pumpkin book, a sock blocker keychain, some really cute stitch markers, and TWO skeins of sock yarn. Look at these stitch markers!

pumpkin stitch markers

and the yarn! The yarn!

str in the navy

duet sock yarn

Top: Socks that Rock Heavyweight, In the Navy; bottom: Duet Sock Yarn, pumpkin caper. Isn’t it pretty?

Not pictured is the gift certificate to Spritely Goods! Squeeeeeee!

Thanks so much to my pal, crazyknits aka Lori (sadly, blogless). You rock!

Word on the street is that my downstream, susubee, is charmed with the Weenie Monster. Yay.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some sock knitting to do. Toodles.

It’s finally behaving like fall around here.


That was taken standing at my mailbox, looking west. I took tons of pictures over the weekend–you can see them all in my flickr set here.

I finished the pumpkin hat, finally. I decided to leave off the leaf. It’s funny what a deadline will do to you. Baby J’s birthday is Wednesday, so I had to send it off.

two pumpkins

Pumpkin hat with inspiration.

What do you think of the tops? I don’t know about the authenticity.

pumpkin stemknitted pumpkin stem

Eh, whatever. Like he’s going to care.

I also finished another stupid sock creature.

Lopsided Lou

I’ve tentatively named this one Lopsided Lou. Like the Weenie Monster, he is for someone else, so they will give him his final name. This person also has a little one, hence the safety eyes. Those things are a bitch to get in! I had to have the blub do it, and even his muscularness was cursing and sweating.

Lou stands up on his own, though. Look at his tail!

Lopsided Lou's little tail

He was made out of a two pairs of fuzzy ankle socks. I do like making these sock creatures. I have some old knee-highs picked out for my next ones, which will be for niece and nephew E for Christmas. I think Nels might get one, too, as he was very taken with the Weenie Monster.

I’ve also been working on getting that walnut dyeing tutorial together. I repeated the dyeing this weekend–maggot free! I’ll give details when I post the whole thing. That’s going to be a little later than I thought, as I’ve had a little setback.


Note to self: don’t throw yarn in the washing machine. Oy.

because lurking…

…in the woods…

…………near by………………

………………………is a terrible monster!


weenie monster in woods


Okay, they’re really quite docile. They’ll even pose for pictures.

weenie monster 2

The Weenie Monster
from Stupid Sock Creatures (based on Wronky)
Made with an old pair of my Halloween socks, three buttons, and a crapload of stuffing.

He’s for my Charlie Brown, aka my secret spoilee in the Great ‘Weenie Swap, on the knitty boards.



Not my yarn, someone else’s. I have some lovely recent discoveries to show you today, but first let’s get the normal crap out of the way.

Here’s what I’ve been

Watching (a classic)

Listening to


(attempting to) read
. I must admit, I gave up. It was really bad. For those of you who don’t know much about Louisa May Alcott, look here. Her famous Little Women was a fictionalized account of her life. She never married or had children, and she died quite young, of mercury poisoning. There were kernels of truth it, though. Like her character Jo, she did love to write swashbuckling gothic romances. A Modern Mephistopheles was one of them. I guess they allowed her to support her family after her mother died, but…yeah. Little Women it is not.

Okay, now for the good stuff!

I recently discovered the Mobtown Review. To quote the site, “The Mobtown Review is the new home of the weekly fiber fix. Every Wednesday, we will review 3 up and coming fiber artists. Learn their stories and drool over their wares! Leave a comment for the artists and your name will be entered into the Friday Fiber Fix! 3 lucky winners will receive the “Fix of the Week” prize from the featured artists. Simple… you comment and you win!”

Does that kick ass or what? The site is run by MamaE, of C*EYE*BER Fibers fame. This past week, she featured some loooovely indie dyers. My favorite was Stephanie from Spritely Goods. Just look at this Coffeepot Rock! And Chaparral (drool)! She also sells handpainted fibers (I am particularly digging the Raspberry Truffle, and I don’t even spin), soap, patterns, and little needle felting kits, among other things. Look at this sheepie! I am plotzing here.

Onto the next. You will really thank me for this.

Do you know of this fabulous and beautiful sock designer Yarnissima? She is the one responsible for the very cool Firestarter socks (at top). Well, she has her own shop up and running now. It is there, and only there, that you can get her newest pattern, the gorgeous Fratello. It also comes as a kit, containing the pattern and an exclusive colorway from Rohrspatz & Wollmeise. And there are still some left! Get it here. I already got mine. :)

May your wallets be ever lighter and your stashes be busting full!

Oh, and have a great weekend.

Now that it finally has cooled down, I’ve finished my cotton-linen blend short sleeved cardigan! Hooray!


The cherry cardigan
Pattern: Cherry by Anna Bell (34″ size)
Yarn: KnitPicks CotLin, in Moroccan Red, 6 skeins
Needles: KnitPicks options, US size 3 (ribbing and button bands) and 6 (body)
Begun: according to Ravelry, sometime in July
Finished: October 7

The obligatory model shots:

cherry model


cherry model back

…and back.

I trusted the blub one more time with the photo shoot, and I think he did pretty well. He did want me to use the photos that were bordering on the obscene (he had me sit on the motorcycle, in a skirt), but other than that small disagreement, things went okay. The pictures are in focus! Wow!

Anyway, back to the sweater. I like it. The pattern was well written, but bear in mind that Anna’s patterns are not for beginners–she does a lot of “match decreases as for right side” kind of thing. As you can see in the above picture, the buttons do pull a bit. This is even with the five snaps you are directed to sew in between the buttons. They do help–it was not pretty before I put those on, and it’s still not perfect. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that (gasp!) maybe I should have made the next bigger size. I only allowed for one inch of ease. I probably could have used another one.

cherry with friend

Sleeve with friend

So why did it take me so long to finish this thing? Well, I had “sleeve issues.” I knitted the first sleeve and it looked way too small. You may remember me mentioning this. To fix it, I did a crazy thing–I blocked it! To the measurements given in the pattern! And then it fit! Crazy, huh? The knitting world just keeps getting weirder and weirder! (end sarcasm)

Yeah, so if I hadn’t been such an idiot, I would have finished this a lot sooner. It is a lovely sweater. I do heart the buttons. I got them at Windsor Button, on my trip to Boston.

cherry button band 3

Sorrowfully, it must be packed away for the spring. Ah, well. I’ll have something to look forward to.

Thanks for all your nice and lovely comments about my walnut dyeing experience! I swear I’m just as squeamish as the next person. I did squeal internally when I first saw the maggots, but then my inner bitch took over (she does live awfully close to the surface) and took profound joy in mashing their little maggoty bodies to a maggoty pulp. Nobody f*cks with my yarn dyeing, dammit!

Words to live by…

Who knows what evil lurks inside of black walnuts?

walnuts in a bucket 2

The chemgrrl knows!

Yes I know, in great detail. The dyeing of wool with black walnuts can be summed up quite succinctly: it was icky.

So to do this, first you need some walnuts.

Check. I gathered the fallen ones from my yard. I guess that was my first mistake. The directions I was following said to get them from the trees, but that proved difficult, seeing as my walnut trees are about 20 to 30 feet tall. So, the ground it was.

Secondly, you need to separate the nuts from the hulls. The hulls are the green and/or brown outside layer, and the coffee-ground stuff inside them. The hulls of black walnuts are pretty hard, so I cracked them with a sledgehammer.

It’s lucky for you guys that I did this at night, with a headlamp. Otherwise I might have taken pictures of what resulted.

The walnuts were full of maggots. After the first couple, in which I dutifully picked the nuts out of the squirming hulls, I decided to chuck it and threw the whole things, nuts and all, into the pot. I did give each one a good whack beforehand, to make sure that it was open. Only occasionally did I send maggots flying everywhere with the force of my blow.

Yeah. Icky.

So then I filled the pot with water (maggots and all!) and let it soak overnight. Then I went and took a shower. With lots and lots of soap.

In the morning, I boiled the mixture for about an hour. Then Huan-Hua came over and we fished the walnuts out of the mixture, then strained out the protein and goo with an old pillowcase. Well, it’s an old pillowcase now.

Here’s what was left.

what was left

Ick. Fortunately, that was about the end of the gross part.


We dyed about seven skeins of yarn. I dyed some KnitPicks bare DK weight, and Huan-Hua dyed some handspun she had, plus overdyed some purple Lopi. I diluted down the walnut juice a bit, then we popped in our pre-wet yarn. Simmer for ~and hour, viola! Brown yarn.

walnut yarn in the big bucket

Can you spot the knitter in this picture?

We pulled it out of the steaming walnut-ness so it would cool a little faster.

After a rinse, it looked like this.

walnut dyed yarn all

It’s funny how much darker my yarn came out. Huan-Hua’s was kind of a caramely brown, where mine was a medium chestnut brown. The purple Lopi took the dye pretty well, and became dark brown.

still life with plug

After drying:

walnut dyed yarn

Walnutty goodness. The yarn took the dye really evenly. I was kind of bummed by this, as I really like the tonal quality of kettle-dyed yarns. It still smells like walnuts, too. I kind of liked the smell as I was boiling the walnut mixture, but it became more and more unsavory as the day went on. Now it kind of makes me want to yak.

walnut dyed yarn 2

I think I need to wash it again. Blarg!

But pretty, though. Yes?

***For those of you interested, I AM going to write out a detailed tutorial on how to dye with walnuts sometime next fall. So check back!**

Actually, I guess that should read, “Sheep and pumpkins and walnuts, oh my!” because that’s the order in which they appear. It sounds better the other way, though. I get poetic license, don’t I? It’s my blog, dammit.


Last weekend, my little bro and I went out to Schacht Fleece Farm for their annual sheep shearing. If you want to actually see pictures of that, please see Elli’s or Huan-Hua’s blogs. They actually saw the shearing. I had my brother in tow, who didn’t want to leave his seat at the bar because the Bears were on. Feh. I did eventually drag him out of there, but we missed the whole deal. Oops. Oh well, it was still a beautiful day. Here’s the yarn I bought from them.* It’s 100% Icelandic wool, but it doesn’t say that on the label.

Eve's wool

It just says ‘Eve.’ This makes me smile in a way that non-knitters think is really weird. Just ask my brother.


guard llama cropguard llama 2 crop 2

Well, that’s only one. He kept looking at me. I don’t think he liked me. I think he took his guarding job a little too seriously.

It just occurred to me that, while at the sheep farm, I didn’t take any pictures of actual sheep. Um. Hey look, a silo!


The good thing about sitting on my ass watching football was that I got a lot done on the pumpkin hat.

What pumpkin hat, you say? This one.

Nels with pumpkin hat 1Nels with pumpkin hat 2

(A big thank you to my lovely model)

It’s for my nephew, Baby J, who turns one on October 24th. A pumpkiny hat for a fall baby, from Itty Bitty Hats. How friggin adorable. Anyway, I’m not so sure about the stem. I did my own thing and I don’t know if I like it.

pumpkin hat stem

Does it look like poo? Or a real pumpkin stem? I also don’t know if I’m going to knit a leaf for it. Opinions?


walnuts in a bucket close up

I have several Black Walnut trees in my yard. Okay, a lot. In fact, it’s slightly dangerous this time of year to venture outside without head protection. We had a walnut fall during a storm last week that actually put a hole through one of our cheapass plastic porch chairs. I’m just glad it didn’t hit the glass table. There’s also a walnut tree right over the shed in the front yard—the one with the flat metal roof. When a walnut hits that, it sounds like a bloody cannon going off. It never fails to scare the shit out of me, and the cats are looking shell-shocked. Ha! Ha ha! Get it? Shell-shocked! Ah, fun times.

walnuts in a bucket 3

Anyway, this year I decided to actually put the damn things to some use, so I’ve gathered them up to dye with. Those are just the ones I picked up from the front yard in about five minutes. I haven’t even looked in the back yard yet. Black walnuts make a pretty dark brown dye, and you don’t even need a mordant. You do, however, need to get the hulls off the walnuts. The hulls are really hard—I read one website that suggested laying them in the street for cars to run over. We don’t get a lot of traffic back here, so I’ll be going at these later with a hammer. Then I’ll soak them overnight, and dye with them tomorrow. Huan-Hua’s coming over to join in the fun. Yay, brown yarn! If it works okay, I’ll use the dyed yarn to make my FIL’s Christmas scarf, Here and There Cables by Norah Gaughan. I think it will be pretty, no?

Have a great, yarn-filled weekend!

*At the Farmer’s Market the day before. They weren’t selling any yarn at the farm. Good thing, too, because I’m sure I would have come home with Eve’s whole outfit, hooves and all.

Sleep deprived posting, that is.

Hi. I’ve been up since 3 am.

So I’ve been AWOL for just a little bit. All my aunts and uncles and my parents and my little brother were here for the Lotus World Music Fest. It’s this big three night music extravagnaza where you run around and see lots of bands from all over the world. It’s tons of fun. Evreybody got here Firday and left Sunday, excepting my little brother. He stayed until this morning. His flight left at 6 am. I live an hour and a half from the airport. You do the math.

That made sense, right? Wait…yeah, okay. It did.

Anyway, so I have no pictures today because I couldn’t find that thingie that connects the camera to the computer. You try finding one at 3 am! So no pretty piccies. We went to a sheep farm and everything. I guess I’ll have to post those later.

Did I mention I haven’t had any coffee yet?

I’m going to do the Friday thing now, becasue I have nothing else to say.

Here’s waht I’ve been

Listening to (Lotus people–they kicked ass!)



Watching. Like I said, my little brother was here.

Okay, I go now. Byeeeee!

Contact me

thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
October 2007