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So. Hi.

I really hate it when people apologize on their blogs for not blogging. So I think I’ll skip that. But I will tell you what’s been going on.

To refresh: I’m in New York for Big Internship. Aaaaand Big Internship is not going so well. I’m kind of sucking, and it’s been a study in frustration and self-doubt and a whole lot ‘o angry. The hardest part is that my editor, who can be just about the world’s biggest asshole (hence the angry part), actually genuinely thinks I have a lot of potential and really wants me to get better and is trying to work with me even though I’m being stubborn and belligerent (his words, not mine). Plus, when he’s not being a total dick, he’s a great guy and I both like him a lot and respect him immensely. Which is honestly why I took the internship in the first place. It’s a bit outside my realm of expertise/interest, but I thought I could learn a lot. And I am. I’m just not learning what I thought I would. Or maybe I have a lot more to learn than I thought I did. Either. Both.

Anyway.

I haven’t been knitting much. I find that when I get sad/depressed/upset, I just don’t. But I have been buying the shit out of some yarn. I’m in New York, after all. You could shotput a pigeon in just about any direction here and hit a yarn store. I haven’t taken pictures of ALL my purchases (coughSHELTERcoughcough), but two have gotten a photoshoot.

First! Superwash worsted by Sweet Georgia yarns.

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I actually bought this in a store. Knitty City, which is about seven blocks from my house. They have TONS of it, but should be grateful I didn’t walk out with the whole pile.

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Isn’t it pretty? I’ve been yearning for spring, which is why the next one is green as well.

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It’s also c-c-c-cashmere. Handspun. Two-ply. I got it at Purl. On sale (but they don’t have it online, I guess). It’s becoming this.

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I took it for a little walk in Central Park today, which is about two blocks from my apartment.

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Look, a building in the background!

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By the reservoir.

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Park bench. And the quintessential Central Park shot.

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Imagine all the cashmere…

I did also get a kickass new knitting bag recently.

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It’s waterproof! I also got a project bag, but it came separately.

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I’m a bit worried about getting all this crap home. My bags were really close to overweight coming here, and I had Nels send me some stuff I forgot, plus some other purchases. (Mostly books. No library card = sadness.)

But I am going home. Soon. In about two and a half weeks. To a (so far) successful restaurant (knock on all things even remotely wood-like around you, please). Yep, Nels opened almost two weeks ago! So far, so good. And I totally can’t wait to see it.

Yay for going home.

Oh, this sweater. We have a long history, it and I. And I’m sorry to say that history hasn’t always been good. But now? Now we’re cool.

just hanging out

Back when the earth was young, I bought the yarn for…the blub. (It was before written records, but after yarn stores.) Yup. I was going to knit him a sweater with it. And I did begin to knit him a sweater with it. It was a drop-shoulder roll neck pullover, from The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits. (Before written records, but after knitting books too. Those don’t count.) The pattern is knit in large blocky pieces, then seamed up.

I got through one piece before I wanted to stab my eyes out. So, I did what any sensible knitter would do. I tried to finish in on my knitting machine.

Ah yes, that was a disaster as well. I won’t go into details, but the finished pieces got rammed into a bag and thoroughly cursed. True to his nature, the blub mostly forgot about this sweater. There were a few frightening moments for me when he said something like, “Hey whatever happened to that sweater you were knitting…for…m?” Then his eyes would glaze over and he would stop talking. (How I love online shopping. Useful information, straight to your door.) Anyway, I did knit him a replacement sweater, which he likes very much. Later I ripped the original satanic piece of hell out and stashed the yarn.

Yay, then I started a sweater for me, yay! It was fun for awhile but then it got boring, boo! I’m not going to go all into the details of that. The important thing is, it’s done now. And I love it, yay!

on the fence

Serendipity sweater (rav link)
Pattern: #77 Vine Lace Top Down Cardigan by SweaterBabe
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed in dusk, I have no idea how many skeins
Needle: US 10.5 (6.5 mm)
Started: August 22, 2008 (at least that’s what my rav notes say, cripes!)
Completed with much relief: September 13, 2009

So this pattern is actually written for a bulky weight yarn. But I thought it would look nicer in a lighter weight. Plus, I had a whole hell of a lot of aran weight hanging around.

Here’s how, at least in part, this sweater got its nickname: I did not swatch for this project. I just started knitting. Since I knew my gauge would be a lot smaller, I just thought “Eh, knitting the largest size should work okay.” And it did.

(Okay, I realize I’m putting this up on the internet and all, but I have to say this: do not tell anyone about this! It’s a secret! If this gets out, my knitting luck will be doomed, DOOMED forever! I will never be able to knit a fitting sweater again! Although, maybe this is comeuppance for that Hourglass sweater that I knit so long ago. That one where I swatched so carefully and it LIED to me. Fucker.)

Other mods: um. I made it fit? Yes, I realize that that’s not very specific. But it was a top-down sweater, so I tried it on as I went along. Plus I knew my row gauge was way off (I think the pattern called for Lamb’s Pride Bulky), so I winged it.

Oh! I remember one! The way I did the increases on the raglan line. I didn’t like the ones in the pattern, which I believe were just M1s. I don’t like how those leave holes. But for some reason that I don’t remember, I couldn’t make the numbers work for a central stitch between the increases. So I M1L and M1R into the same stitch. Sounds a bit weird, but um…it worked out really well.

my raglan decreases

I also made the sleeve ribbing quite a bit longer. This was a result of me not paying attention, and I started the ribbing after x rows like the pattern said. Which was dumb of me because…hey doofus! Your row gauge is way off! I don’t know why I paid attention in some places but not in others. So yeah, that means my sleeve ribbing is about 7 inches long. But you know what? I like it. I think it looks nice.

sleeve!

I know I also did something very small on the collar differently than the pattern, but I can’t remember what.

collar

Oh! I remember now. She suggested putting the increases to make it flare out in the back, and I put them in the front. Like that, too. But the bestestestest part of this sweater? The pockets. You know how I heart pockets in sweaters.

super cute pocket

I know a lot of people who knit this sweater did not bother with the pockets. After putting mine on, I think that is a big mistake, for two reasons. One–pockets on sweaters are awesome. Two–the way these are sewn on is really cool.

You do it with duplicate stitch.

sewing on the pocket

Well, the bottom anyway. But isn’t that ficking ingenious? It was really really fun, too. I was kind of sad I had only two pockets to sew on when I was done. I made them kind of poofy by pulling down a bit after the bottom was attached. Then I just sewed on the sides like a sewing machine would. Easy.

What was not easy was trying to figure out how to size the pocket up. That cute little pleat thing made it kind of hard to just scale up. (By kind of hard, I mean I tried that and it looked like a pile of vomit and it was really annoying.) So in the end, I just added two stitches to each side. Which worked fabulously.

The buttons were yet another issue. I went everywhere and I couldn’t find anything I liked. I kind of wanted colored buttons, but I couldn’t find the right ones. Finally at Joann’s I found some blue plastic toggles that exactly matched the blue tweedy flecks. But, problem: I needed 9. They had? 6. I did ask a very sweet and patient lady behind the cutting counter if they maybe had any more in back. “No,” she spat out, and turned her back on me before the entire question was even out of my mouth. Friendly, eh? I bought the six anyway. Then I did what any independent, intelligent woman of the world would do.

I called my mom.

My mom lives near Chicago, where they have a wealth of strip malls and therefore, Joann’s Fabrics stores. The first store she tried–no good. But the second? Yes! They had them! She bought enough for me to have two extras. Yay for mommies!

I think they look quite faboo.

ze buttons

I heart this sweater. It was a pain in the ass at times, and a slog at other times. But I finished it and it’s soft and fantastic and fits perfectly. It looks good on me, too.

umer?dork supreme

…which you’re going to have to take my word for. Don’t quite have the hang of that self-timer thing yet. And I don’t like my auto-focus lens. (Hey, the blub wasn’t home, what could I do?)

But anyway. Over a year in the making. But overall? It was worf it.

...and more hanging out

This blog post is brought to you by other people. No, really. I didn’t knit anything I’m about to show you. Neat trick, eh?

To begin the story, we must hearken back. To…um. When the hell are we hearkening back to? Not sure. Let’s start with July, at least I remember that one.

My in-laws, who have been married 50 years come December, had a party this past July. (So people, especially the grandkids, could come during their vacations.) It was a lovely time, but the most lovely thing was that I learned something Very Nice. My FIL’s sister, Tanta Renata, knits. A lot. I hadn’t known this before, and my MIL told her that I knit. So as you maybe can imagine, we had much to discuss.

I found out she loves Nancy Bush. With a very unholy passion. (Can you blame her?) We talked about TONS of stuff: stashing, socks, nupps, Estonian knitting, just to name a few. This last thing is also very important to Renata. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but my FIL is German. But he was actually born in Tartu, Estonia. I’m not sure if Renata was born there too, but she was certainly loves those Estonian knits. So much so that she knit my FIL a pair of socks, “sometime a long time ago,” she said. “He never wore them. He probably threw them away.” I kind of doubted it, and I told her so. Nels got his pack-rattage tendencies from somewhere, after all. But Renata didn’t agree. “He didn’t appreciate them. Be grateful you have someone who appreciates your knitting,” she said, smiling at Nels. He had already pulled up his pant leg to show her the handknitted wool socks he was wearing in the July heat.

Renata left the next day, unfortunately. I wish we had had more time to talk. She lives in Albuquerque too, so I don’t see her often. But she did mention how happy she was to have someone to inherit all her knitting supplies. (She’s around 80, and seems not squeamish about such things.)

About a week after she left, I decided I needed to know what happened to these socks. So I asked my MIL if she remembered them. “Oh yes!” she said. “Peter still has them! Do you want to see?” And she ran upstairs to get them.

Hell, I thought, that was easy.

And then she gave them to me. Yes, really.

Estonian socks

My FIL never wears them, she said. His feet get too hot. But goldang, they are in beautiful condition. I wonder if he wore them even once.

I’m sorry I don’t know what the pattern is. Renata said they were an Estonian pattern, and I think she knit them while she was still living in Germany, many years ago. They are certainly not superwash wool. But I love the details. Especially the twisted stitches down the heel flap, and the broken ribbing that runs along the sides of the foot.

heel

The little purl ridge after the ribbing is also a nice touch.

ribbing and tops

I’m not too familiar with Estonian knitting, so I don’t know how traditional the fair-isle pattern is. It’s pretty, though.

pattern

And since I’m curious like that, I flipped the sock inside out to see the floats. I’m a bit ashamed of this, because it always feels a bit like I’m peering into the knitter’s underwear drawer. But look at this underwear!

the flip side

Dang!

She finished the sock off with a star toe.

star toe

Just lovely. And the best thing? They fit Nels!

They fit!

He didn’t want to take them off after I took this picture. But I made him. I’m so afraid he’s going to wear them out! I’m thinking of weaving some nylon thread into the heel, so it lasts a bit longer. It’s just knit plain, no slipped stitches or ribbing or anything. Anyway, he pouted. I told him they had to be hand-washed, but he didn’t care. Watch him chuck them into the washing machine. Gaa.

I haven’t told Renata yet that we found the socks. I think I’ll just send her a copy of that last picture. That would be a nice surprise, yes? Blast from the socky past. Yay.

So there’s that.

The next thing is not old, but it IS also Estonian. My FIL is a retired professor, but he still does these speaking tours from time to time. This past spring, he and my MIL went to Estonia to give a lecture or two because his very famous book had been translated into Estonian. (I don’t know how many languages that it’s been translated into now. I think it’s around 20 or so.) This is what they brought back for me.

Estonian yarn

240 grams of light fingering/heavy lace weight yarn. In Estonia’s national colors. It’s kind of scratchy but smells very sheepy so I like it. I don’t know how many yards it is. A lot. Enough for a nice stole. For Renata, maybe? I think she would like that.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that wasn’t the only thing they brought back from Estonia for me. I got the other on my birthday.

more stole

A handknitted stole! For me! My MIL said she got both yarn and stole at this outdoor market thingie in Tartu. Pretty! But kind of hard to capture on camera.

even more stolestole

That’s the general idea. It shifts colors, kind of like Noro. But it’s not. This yarn is also very sheepy and kind of scratchy. But I will wear it anyway. It’s nice to know that that quality extends beyond my own knits. I think a bath in some wool wash will do it some good.

So yay, I had a happy birthday despite the auspicious beginning. Thanks to everyone for all the nice birthday wishes! And I would also like to say a very special thank you for this last thing, which was a package I received shortly after my birthday. It wasn’t really a birthday present. It was more like a “hey cheer the hell up” present. And it didn’t cheer me up so much as made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants. That’s cheerful, yes?

Anyhoodle, it was sent to me by the lovely and most wonderous Weeza. The things inside the package are a bit beyond description, but for simplicity’s sake I will call them “socks.” She suggested that I use them to make some sock monsters, and they will make the most kick assingly awesome sock monsters on the face of the planet. I couldn’t think of a better way to thank her than to make a happy sock dance video. Which I accidentally filmed upside down. I thought I could flip it over later, but it seems I can’t. I’ve decided this adds to its charm. So here you go, Weez. A very happy thank you video, very charming and containing cat for scale.

(Sorry for craptastic quality. I need to turn up the resolution on my phone camera thingy.)

Aaaaaaaaaaaack! Look what’s back! And I have no money! Oh, the humanity!

Curse you Amy Singer and your Twitter feed!

P.S. Happy First Day of Spring. Is it snowing where you are?

ETA: Approximately 0.067 seconds after I posted this, I went and bought three skeins. One each of poppy, dusty blue, and coral. Does that make me a bad person?

Okay. Fine. You have spoken. The blub gets the hat.

the gay smurf

I hope you’re happy.

The final results:

Totally fruity, but let him have it: 22
He rocks that hat in a non-gay way, let him have it: 18
Overdye the thing (an excellent suggestion, which the blub is pondering): 2
Um, hide the hat (and call the Village People): 7

In his acceptance speech, the blub thanked all of you. And stressed that he is very secure in his sexuality.

So yeah.

The winner of the yarny prize, via random.org: CBear!

Email me your new address please, CBear! I only have the old one.

And lookit what I got in the mail yesterday.

luxury tweed the arty shot

Debbie Bliss Luxury tweed. It has angora in it. OOOooooooooohhhhh, I lovelovelovelovelove this yarn. Three balls, I got. Two of slate grey, one of green. In time, they will be a hat. For now, they are lovingly being turned into a swatch. And dayum, am I taking my time about it. Each stitch is a dream. When I win the lottery, I’m knitting myself a sweater out of this stuff.

And speaking of winning, check out what I picked up at my family’s white elephant gift exchange yesterday!

little froggy, foot lover

You stick your feets in those little slots there, push down, and it vibrates. And as the blub quickly discovered, where you push depends on how fast it goes. Ain’t it classy? I had to steal it away from my aunt to get it, but you know what? Totally worf it.

But I’ve gotten some lovely sock yarn lately, so let’s make today a Yarn Pron Friday, shall we?

Malabrigo sock in Impressionist sky

Malabrigo sock. Impressionist sky. So very very pretty. It was from ChickenKnits! I won one of her (many) blog contests. I’m trying to decide what this is going to be, since I seem to be sock-obsessed lately. (Go look at my Ravelry queue, especially pages five and six if you don’t believe me.) I’m thinking maybe Django for these. But I dunno yet.

I forget what this is

I had to call home and get the blub out of bed to tell me what this is. Cause I kept forgetting to look. But–da da da da! Mystery solved! It’s Hand Painted Knitting Yarns Donegal Sock! In Daphne. I got it at Loopy Yarns when I was in Chicago about two weeks back. (The new site for the store is lovely.) The very nice sales lady assured me it would wear like iron. Plus it’s handpainted and tweedy. How rock awesome is that? I’m thinking the Lakehouse socks for this one, since my last attempt at them failed miserably. They looked like this.

cheery yellow sock

But now they look like this.

f&f is pretty in handspun

Because I ripped them out and started a different sock. I really like the Lakehouse socks, but with my larger gauge the increase rate for the instep was just too fast. And I’m too lazy to figure out what it should be. So it went bye-bye. But I’m quite happy with how the yarn (Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop in Sunshine of Your Love) re-entered the world.

fiery orata socks

The stitch pattern is a simple feather-and-fan. So I’m calling them my orata socks.

my socks match the fire!

Isn’t it cool how they match the fire? I really like the way they’re working up. I chucked a forked heel a-la Kalani Craig in there too, so maybe I should be calling them my knitting group socks. The heel is a most excellent match for these socks. I tried them on after I finished knitting it and…foomph. Perfect. Fit. It’s like God’s Own Chosen Heel. I felt like Cinderella trying on that glass slipper. Faboo.

I’m actually up to where I would normally start the top ribbing, but I have a ton of yarn left. And a whole other ball for the second sock. So I’m kinda thinking knee socks. Maybe. Perhaps. It’s conceivable. (Believable.)

In other knitting news, both my of current WIP sweaters have gone to beddy-bye la la land. Yep. Buried them deep. That would be this one.

the never ending sweaterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Which is almost done. I’m on the bottom ribbing for a top-down sweater for purgatory’s sake. All I have to do is finish that, then knit the collar and pockets. But…meh. I’m tired of it. Besides, think how happy I’ll be in the fall when I pull it out and finish it in two days! Um, yeah. That’s what I keep telling myself.

The other sweater never even saw the light of the blog. But it’s an aran-weight angora blend. I don’t think I’ll be wanting to work on that when it’s above 50 F or so. So they both go TTFN.

But I am pulling out two card carrying members of the ghost-of-sweaters-past to take their place.

Sweater A: the top-down hourglass. The one in sock yarn.

top down HG

Doubled sock yarn. I’m actually a bit farther than that, but not by much. According to Ravelry, I started this on February 11, 2008. So I guess it’s due.

Sweater B is even older. Anyone remember this one?

ariann sweater sleeves attached

And what became of it?

frogged sweater

Yeah, it’s Ariann. Out of frustration, I shoved this in a sack almost two years ago. Hmm. Time to give it a second chance, yes? Getting it back on the needles is going to be a titch hairy. But then I just have to knit the yoke and it’s done. Yay.

And speaking of done things, did I mention here that I sold a freelance article awhile back? Well, I did. Now that’s done too. Super-yay with big piles of zipper on top! And even more yay for the paycheck. :)

Yessiree bob, it’s time to unveil those sneaky Christmas knits.

Seekrit projeck numero uno was for my Dad. And no, it wasn’t a thong. It was a very nice and sproingy scarf. I just hope now he throws away that ratty old scarf I made him about four years ago, that pilled and rolled and generally looked like a maroon piece of shit hanging about his neck. This one’s much better looking. As you can see, he was super duper happy with it.

Dad with scarf

That charming young man in the background is my little brother. Yes ladies, he’s single.

The pattern is the Triumph Cable Scarf by SmarieK, and I used the most fantastically wonderifous yarn in the whole universe to knit it. It’s di.Ve’ Zenith, and it’s squishtastic. It’s also cheaptastic—I got it at WEBS for $3.99 a ball, and now because of their year-end sale, it’s even cheaper. I wish I could afford to go buy several sweaters’ worth, because I LURVE this stuff. It’s a cabled twelve-ply, and it’s round and plump and very, very soft. Supposedly, according to the vast Ravelry/internet research I did, it also doesn’t pill. That was a must for this scarf—I don’t want it looking like grey poo in two months, like the last one. Oh yeah, and it’s superwash too, so he won’t accidentally felt it. Yay for that.

scarf

I liked the pattern, although I did want to gouge out my eyes after knitting it for awhile. But I always want to do that when I knit long straight scarves, so you can take that how you will. The only mod I made to the pattern was to add an i-cord edging to both ends. It looks more finished that way, I think. Yes?

scarf end

One last thing. It grew. Before blocking, it was a compact and perfect five feet. (That’s using every inch of four balls of the Zenith, 480 yards.) After blocking? Six and a half. Yikes, dude. It also kind of stretched out width-wise. I was a bit bummed, since it was so squishy and thick before blocking. I suppose I could have foreseen that if I had, I don’t know, blocked my swatch. But why on earth would I want to do a thing like that?

Anyway, prognosis WIN. Dad happy. Me happy.

And speaking of me happy, I also got some lovely candy in my stocking for Christmas!

candy in my stocking



Sock Candy
, that is. Black, er, orange gold.

Weezalana sent this to me, isn’t she sweet? She knows I lovecravecovet the difficult to find Blue Moon Fiber Arts sock candy, so she sent me some. I was good and waited until Christmas to open it. And squee! It was prettier than I thought it was going to be. Thank you uber oodles, Weez! This almost makes up for that fun fur I gave you that time, don’tcha think?

Unveiling of seekrit projeck number two next time. The DNA socks. Oy vey.

Hoo doggies, do things get wild at Chez Chemgrrl on Saturday nights. Last night, we played Scrabble.

This is no happy little low-key game, mind you. Nope. Around here, we play cut-throat Scrabble. At least the blub does. And to keep myself from getting completely tromped by him, I’ve had to start getting nasty, too.

Don’t have a word to reach that triple word score square? Block it. Think you know where your opponent is going to play next? Put a word there first. Preferably a lame and crappy word too, just so it pisses off the other person. Gloating is also highly recommended.

Playing this way is not how I was raised. But compromise is the key thing in a marriage, so I’ve learned to be a complete bitch on the Scrabble board.

The blub usually still beats me anyway. And this never fails to piss me off, since I always have way better words.

Some of the ones I played last night: MELEE, GNOMES, TROOPS (actually, I didn’t think that one was so great, but the blub thought it was brilliant), JOT, OVA, QI, and TAXA. (Which he challenged me on, ha! It is a real word, it’s the plural of taxon, which is the word for a collective name of a biological organism, like in family, genus, species, blah blah blah. Yay for reading Biology textbooks.)

I also played the word POTEND, which isn’t a real word. I didn’t really think that it was; I was pretty sure I was confusing it with PORTEND. But I didn’t have an R, plus the spot I stuck it in was sandwiched between two across words that were one space apart. So there was a P, a space, then a T. Sweat droplets the size of small children were running down my face when I plopped that one down, but the blub just rubbed his chin and said, “Potend. Hmm, good word.” Whew! (Then after the game I looked it up and laughed at him.)

Some of his words? BIDET, LURK, QUEST, which fell on both a double letter score (for the Q, which is worth 10 points) and a double word score. He got something like 46 points for that one word. He dropped ZEN on a triple word score. 36 points, ouch. He also did this thing where he put down three letters directly under three more, so he got the points for an across word and three down words. The letters were so pedestrian that I don’t even remember what they were, but it ended up being on another double word score square, so he got another 30-something points. Gah!

So yeah, he kicked my ass. Again.

HOWever, I must enter evidence in my defense. I was knitting this.

noro swatch

Well, I couldn’t have knitted either of my sooper-sekrit projecks! Both require paying attention (don’t want to stick a tassel in the wrong place), so I had to knit something that didn’t require any thought. What better than a swatch of the ferociously fabulous Noro Kochoran I just got?

Bought from a fellow Raveler for a song, enabled by inspired by turtlegirl’s Lady Eleanor wrap. It’s bunny! And silk! And Noro!

stack o noro

And pretty.

I didn’t really have a goal for this yarn when I bought it. Vaguely I thought of knitting a Lady E too. But honestly, the idea of knitting something very long and rectangular is about appealing to me right now as sticking dpns through my eyeballs then squeezing lemons into the open wounds.

But while trolling Ravelry yesterday, I did notice that a certain sweater that I’ve long had in my queue just happens to call for aran weight yarn. Which Kochoran just happens to be. I also just happen to be headoverheelsandmanyotherbodyparts in love with this version, which is all beautiful and stripy. And Kochoran is all beautiful and stripy. And it takes about 900 yards to make. I just happen to have about 1050 yards. And my gauge just happens to be spot friggin on.

I have Christmas presents to finish, dammit! I am getting close. Seekrit projeck #1 is half finished as of this morning, and I’m past the 75% mark for seekrit projeck #2. But still.

Must not cast on for Mrs. Darcy.
Must not cast on for Mrs. Darcy.
Must not cast on for Mrs. Darcy.

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.

jitterbug

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.

kauni

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.

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.

Eventually.

Contact me

thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
July 2017
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