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The title originally read “Yarn overload,” but then I realized that such a thing did not exist. But buckle your chinstraps, folks. The Wild Yarn Ride begins…now.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was in Palo Alto this past weekend. I had gone for a conference, but I had a lot of time Friday morning, so guess who graciously took me on a yarn crawl? Carrie!

First we went for brunch, because I was really effing hungry. (They don’t feed you on planes anymore. And I had to get up at 2:30 am, which makes my tummy unhappy. Bleah.) Then we went to this adorable little shop called Bobbin’s Nest Studio. So many cute things there. It took much going back and forth, but I finally decided on some really cool buttons (that I forgot to take a picture of), some fabric (which I didn’t take a picture of, since it’s a sussie for my mom), and some yarn.

Oh dear, some lovely lovey yarn. Because Bobbin’s Nest is one of the few places that carries Hazel Knits Artisan sock.

hazelknits sock 3

The color I finally decided on is called Pacific. I did carry this one around with me for a bit. And I also loved this one and this one and especially this one. In fact, I might go back for that last one. But Pacific’s simplistic beauty won out in the end.

hazelknits sock

On to the next store! The infamous Purlescence. Which infamously carries Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Which infamously makes up 99.999999999% of Carrie’s stash. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration. It’s probably only about 97%.) After much deliberating, this is what I walked out with.

STR heavyweight lovers leap

STR heavyweight, in Lover’s Leap, which isn’t on the website any more. So now I’m doubly glad that I got it. I’m leaping with love. Carrie seemed to like it, too.

Carrie loving my yarn

In fact, I had to watch her pretty closely to make sure she didn’t pocket my yarn. (Just kidding. Sort of.) All she bought at both of those places was a pattern. That’s it. Can you believe her restraint? She also gave some yarn away. To me. This.

STR mediumweight from Carrie

STR mediumweight. Which I just happened to be out of. And it’s a mill end too, so it’s unique! I heart it. And look what else!

sheep bag!

A sheepie bag! It zips at the top! It’s so cute! I can’t stop using exclamation points!

Isn’t she the sweetest? Thank you so much, Carrie! I had a fabulous time, and I hope I can come back soon. Despite your being a graduate of a far inferior school. :)

So all this happened Friday morning. This was shortly after I had called the blub, who told me I had received a box back at home. From the UK.

“From someone named Charlotte,” he said. “Do you want me to open it?”

“NO!” I yelled.

It was my knitty Halloween SP box! From the UK! I knew right away it was from LittleMy. And when I got home Sunday night, I tore right into that sucker. I didn’t even take my shoes off first. Everything was wrapped up in orange and green paper, just like a pumpkin. This was the first thing I unwrapped.


Colinette Jitterbug, in forest. In the new, larger skein. And if I find any knots, I swear I’m keeping my mouth shut.

After I squeezed that for awhile, I dove back in. This is what I found next.

rowan chunky

A skein of that new Rowan yarn, Kaffe Fassett Colourscape Chunky. I think it’s color #436, but I’m not sure. I am sure, though, that it’s the same exact color I picked up at Purlescence and said “Ooo! Pretty!” to Carrie. Hee.

But wait, there was more! (Can you believe it?) And this next one is my favorite.


A skein of Kauni 8/2. In beautiful, beautiful blue-greens.

kauni inside

Just look at that beautiful, stripy promise that is the middle. I want to cast on with this yarn. Right. Now. I carried it around with me for awhile that night, like a kid with a teddy bear. I love it. I swear, the second I finish up my Christmas knits I am casting on for a sweater with this. I don’t care that I have a half-finished one on the needles. I want to make something like this, but with the Venezia pattern on the body. Would that not be freaking awesome? I’m thinking maybe a rich brown for the contrasting color. I wonder how much I would need?

Oh hell, I’m getting carried away. There were other things in the package too, like a little sheepie pouch that made me squeal long and loud, some really really yummy ginger and rhubarb cookies that are almost gone already, some fabulous soap and hand cream that smells wonderful, and vibrating bat thing that freaks the blub out (yay!), some really really dark chocolate (my favorite), some squirting jelly skull things which kind of scare me and some other cute candy. Oh yes, and this beautiful card.

rabbit card

I love it! I’m totally framing it and hanging it on the wall.

Thank you so much, LittleMy! Wow. Just wow. At the risk of understating, you rock. Most egregiously.

So is everybody drooling now? My brain isn’t quite working anymore in the midst of all that yarny goodness. I’ve been saying “agagagagagag,” and walking in circles a lot. Hang on, though. Because I have to announce the winner of the poop shawl!

It’s Denise, aka dlotter, contestant number eight. Come on down!

(By which I mean email me with your address so I can pop the shawl in the mail.)

There were a lot of good poo jokes, though. You guys certainly are anally fixated. Freud would have a field day.

And speaking of fields, I can’t end without one more picture, taken from my back yard. Carrie, this one’s for you.

Zack's barn in autumn

Happy Autumn.

Thing one: Carrie over at We Do Not Have a Knitting Problem gave me an award awhile back:

Why, zank you darlink!

So I’m supposed to now link to four blogs that I love. Well, I love way more than four, but I think rising to the top are the blogs of my knitter-partners-in-crime, the swell gals in my knitting group.

all buttoned up
Elliphantom knits
Feather and Fan

although Orata moved away to silly ‘ol Wisconsin. Pbbbt. That’s the sad part of living in a college town, though. You make lots of nice friends, then they finish school and move away (or in Orata’s case, her boyfriend finishes school). I have TONS of friends all over the country, but only a few here. Sad.

But speaking of friends in other places, I get to meet the nice awarder herself, Carrie, this weekend! I’m going to Palo Alto for a conference, but we’re going to knock over a couple of yarn stores together too. Yay!

Thing two (or things two, I should say)

‘Tis the time of year for weenie monsters.


she's just sleepy

I think that second one is the weirdest weenie monster I’ve ever made. I like her, although she doesn’t really stand up so straight. The blub is quite fond of Numero Uno up there. I do like his tentacles. And you can’t tell in that picture, but he has four arms. I imagine they’ll come in quite handy.

Thing three:

Happy Mole Day! This wasn’t a forgotten thing. How could I, of all people, forget that?

Thing four:

Oh yeah. I had a blogiversary. In September. Whups. It was number two. So I’m celebrating with something poopy.

shawl 1

My Shetland triangle shawl. It’s made of Joseph Galler prime alpaca, in nutmeg. And try as I might, I cannot wear this around my neck. It itches the shit out of me. So…anybody want it? I’ll throw in the remainder of the yarn as well. I won’t lie; I have worn this a couple of times. But I’d love to wash it and re-block it and send it to a happy home.

If you fancy this scarf, just leave me a comment with your favorite poo joke. If you don’t know a poo joke, just say ‘poo’ a few times. I’ll pick someone at random on uuummmmm, next Tuesday. That’s October 28th. Hopefully it won’t be as poopy for someone else as it’s been for me.


Chemistry. She’s a fickle bitch.

Sometimes she is good to me. She often likes it when I acid dye.

before reskeining

before reskeining

And while I’m usually pretty meticulous with my measuring and addition of citric acid to dye powder to yarn weight ratio, sometimes I just throw all that crap out the window and slap shit together.

after reskeining

after reskeining

I hand painted some Kona superwash fingering for my Weenie swap pal on knitty last weekend. Nicole and Kalani came over, and we had ourselves a little dyeing party. Nicole brought along some of her Jacquard dyes as well, so I played with those, mixing them haphazardly together with my ProChemical dyes. The result? Not bad.

special SP yarn

I’m not so sure about adding that fuchsia, but I think I like it. And I’m pretty sure my Weenie pal will too.

So yay, we had a fun day. But Kalani had grading to do and had to run away, so I didn’t have time to pull out the indigo dyeing kit that I’ve had hanging around for eons. (The instructions are in hieroglyphic, I’ve had the thing so long. I had to dig out my Rosetta stone to make sense of it all.)

So I decided to do that the next morning. I started early. And maybe this was my problem. I don’t think Chemistry is a morning person.

implements of destruction

I added all the bits carefully, like a good little scientist. I stirred and waited and checked and measured, until finally my dyebath was ready.

blue scum

the package instructions literally called this the ‘blue scum’

So then I carried the pot inside and added my yarn. And here’s where things got a bit tricksy for me. See, the instructions said to keep the dyebath at 120 F during the dyeing process. (At least that’s what I think they said. It was a picture of a standing guy, a sheep, a sun, and a portrait what I think was Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. But it could have also been Abe Lincoln.)

And this was tricksy because, as I had discovered the day before, my thermometer was broken. Whups. Oh well, I thought, I’ll just keep the burner on low, and everything will be hunky-dorey, yes? Sure. Although, I did realize when I checked on my pot later that the top was steaming. Since water boils at 212 F and simmers at 190 F, I probably oops-a-daisy may have gone over 120 F. No biggie. the instructions didn’t really make a big deal out of this, so it should be okay, right? I took the pot outside and pulled my yarn out.

(This was the really cool part too, since indigo is yellow until it gets oxidized. As you expose the yarn to air, it goes from yellow to blue pretty damn quick. I was going to do a whole post on the chemistry of this, but as she’s bitch-slapped me with a wet herring, I’m not feeling too enthused. Maybe later.)

beautiful blue, crunchy skein

Beautiful, beautiful blue!

A little too blue for my sock blank. I wanted to do a dip dye, so it would be light blue on one end and dark dark dark blue on the other. Oh well. So I left one end hanging out in the pot to get darker.

attempt at dip dye

And now. This when Chemistry dropped her proverbial pants and showed me her ass. Because when I pulled out my second skein of sock yarn, it was a bit tangled. So I gently began teasing it apart with my fingers. Have you done this before? Untangled wet wool? It’s weird; when I do this, it’s like my brain is tangled as well. And as the yarn begins to come apart, my brain gradually relaxes too, until both yarn and brain are happy and untangled and ready to knit.

So as I was gently (gently!) pulling apart this second skein, my brain noticed that it seemed to untangle rather quickly. It went, “Hey! This is coming apart really…GASP!!!!!!”

Because that’s when my yarn broke.

broken skein

As I’m sure you can imagine, I cannot even begin to describe the horror of this moment. It was like my brain kind of broke as well.

Oh well, I thought. (I get over stuff fast.) I still have one nice skein! And a nice sock blank, kind of. Let’s look on the bright side of life!

But Chemistry wasn’t through with me yet.

I let the yarn dry overnight. And when I checked it the next day, it seemed…odd.

crunchy yarn

Like it looked still wet. And it felt…crunchy.

And it, um. Stood up by itself.

it stands on its own

So I did a little researching. And I found out that when you heat wool in a lye solution too high, the yarn can break. Lye is sodium hydroxide, and it’s used in an indigo bath like mine to keep the overall pH high so the reducing power of your reductant also stays high.

(Again, I will explain this sometime in the future. It’s cool, trust me. Oxidation and reduction have to do with the addition and removal of electrons, the currency of chemistry.)

What it can also do is eat away at the cuticle of the wool, making it not-so-wooly. Crunchy. Generally gross.

So in short, I killed it.

Here’s how the sock blank turned out, anyway.

crunchy sock blank

Not so great. So Weez, you should be glad you’re not getting this after all. (Even though it was made with soft-and-squishy ivory colored Shibui sock yarn. Sob!) Because it looks like poo. And it feels like…well, not poo unless you have something terribly wrong with you. It doesn’t feel nice, let’s leave it at that. So that’s why I’m sending you yarn that somebody else dyed instead.

The dyepot is still sitting on my porch. I think I’ll let it sit there for a bit. But then I’m going to have another go. Because that’s what Chemistry and I do. She trips me. I get up. She sucker-punches me in the solar plexus. I barf on my feet and then stand up for more. Over and over and over again.

But someday, I’ll have a PhD.

And maybe some nice, blue yarn.


los mittens

I’m really starting to love this whole mitten knitting thing.

Fibonacci mittens (Rav them!)
Pattern: Mitered Mittens (May) by the great and powerful person who wrote the helping friendly book (EZ)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Shepherd’s Shades, about 0.35 skein each of wild indigo and split pea
Started: September 22
Finished: October 11

From Knitter’s Almanac: Let’s make them in May; let’s take our time over them; let’s venture into new approaches and designs; let’s enjoy them.

Ha ha, EZ I thwart you! Well, just about the May part. I suppose making mittens in September/October is similarly practical, since it’s certainly warmer now than it usually is in May. (Yesterday, it was 85 F here. No need for mittens quite yet.) But I did venture into new approaches and designs. And I did, most certainly, enjoy them. Oh yes.


So you may have noticed the name of my little wooly darlings: the Fibonacci mittens. That’s because the stripe pattern is based on the Fibonacci series. Remember that from grade school? 1,1,2,3,5,8,13…et cetera. Each number in the series is the sum of the two before it. I started with the 13s at the wrists (I did each number twice, once with each stripe color) then worked up to the 1s at the tips.

pom-less tips

One stripe, two stripe, green stripe, blue stripe?

It has been pointed out to me by the blub, then verified by Kalani, that this particular stripe sequence makes my mittens look somewhat Seussian. Do you think? Maybe. But I do know that their color combination plus nice silly stripies plus long pointiness makes me giggle with glee.

But when I finished them, I realized I hadn’t gone quite far enough. So upping the ante on the silly factor, I added pom-poms to the tips.

poms that dangle


mitten with pom

Oh man. These are the Best. Mittens. Ever.

mitten's eye view

Okay, let’s talk mods.

Oh wait, let’s talk yarn first.

I found this yarn, Brown Sheep Shepherd’s Shades, in the sale room of my LYS for $5 a ball. Love! It’s so…sheepy! And warm and thick and squishy! And sticky–it would be great for steeking.

filling in for velcro

Behold the sticky power! Yeah, they’re defying gravity there. Stuck right to the bark on that tree.

The SS is listed as a bulky (?) but I found it knitted up to more of a heavy worsted. So I cast on 36 sts instead of the 48 suggested in the pattern. (Although we all know that everything is just a suggestion in EZ’s patterns. She wants to make sure we use our GAUGE, like Death from the Discworld books is speaking. GAUGE, don’t ignore your GAUGE.) (SQUEAK!)

I also did a gusset thumb ala Kathryn Ivy. I like those better than those afterthought thumb thingies. Your thumb doesn’t stick out of your palm! So why should your mitten’s thumb?


I find myself wanting to cast on for another pair just like this. How crazy is that? I’m trying to think of people that need mittens for Christmas, but coming up blank. Maybe my friend Jolene, but that’s about it. (And you’re lucky you live in a warm clime, weez, or a pair would be headed your way!)

los dangling poms

Too bad. Since now I can’t stop singing

Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff
Like bingle balls, and whofoo fluff
Trim up the town with goowho gums and bizilbix and wums…

P.S. Do you realize that I just talked about Dr. Seuss, Fibonacci, Terry Pratchett, and Elizabeth Zimmerman, all in the same blog post? I should get some kind of award for that.

Contact me

thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
October 2008