June 27, 2003

A New Take on the Female Anatomy

(My apologies, dear readers -- no photos today. The camera actually resides at Miss K's house and sometimes (a) having an interesting subject to photograph and (b) getting myself to her house (c) at least a day before I post to the blog sometimes doesn't all work out...

Also, I will be on vacation again next week. I'll trytrytry to post.)

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Yesterday morning, I had to drop my car off for service. Because I arrived at the shop early, I just dropped my car keys into the drop-box they make available. Then I got to thinking, wouldn’t it be great if you could do the same thing for a mammogram? Just slip your boobs through a special round hole in a drop box, leave them there for the day, and pick them up when the mammogram is over. If you’re lucky, maybe they will even have been vacuumed, shampooed and waxed before you pick them up. (Although I’m not too sure about the waxing. I have visions of myself chasing a slippery boob around my bathroom. It would be kind of like trying to pick up that last pea on your plate.)

Knitting Knews
The pressure! The pressure! Saturday night, we’re having A Last Pre-Labor Hurrah with the parents-to-be of the baby for whom I knit the Oat Couture sweater. It now behooves me to get the sweater fixed and blocked by then. Love the pressure; hate the pressure.

However, it does appear that I have officially gone over to The Dark Side. I have already purchased another baby sweater pattern to knit, a cable-and-rib raglan cardigan. The pattern is written for Sirdar Chunky but I'm using Plymouth Encore Worsted Weight in a wonderful bright egg-yolk yellow that literally makes me smile whenever I take it out of my knitting bag. Mind you, I don’t have a baby lined up for the sweater yet, but I'm not too concerned. Knowing the human penchant for putting Tab A into Slot B, I'm pretty sure some bun will start baking in some oven somewhere before I'm done.

Hmmm, even as I'm writing this, I'm wondering about using a worsted weight as a substitute for a "chunky." The LYS said it would substitute just fine but... Drat. That means I have to do a gauge swatch. Double drat.

Dyeing Dyegest
My next Adventure in The Land of Natural Dyeing involved using foxglove leaves. Online, I had found a mention of foxglove as a possible source of green dye. Eureka! So I went through the whole routine, gathering the leaves, soaking them, simmering them, straining the dyebath, adding the wet skein of yarn to the dyebath, and simmering again. But, nary a drop of green. I did get a color which I would describe as one slice of banana blended in a quart of vanilla ice cream, a super-super-light lemon chiffon. I'll post a picture as soon as possible.

Posted by Ryan at 08:18 AM | Comments (7)

June 25, 2003

I Hit the Big Time!

Still in a bit of "who me?" shock, yesterday I went and did the natural dyeing presentation at the local high school.

I spent ten years working as a technical trainer for a large law firm. Who knew that facing eight kindergarten teachers could be as nerve-wracking as facing a roomful of rabid litigators? But my nerve-wrackedness was sorely misplaced. The whole thing went swimmingly and I had a wonderful time (or, to use a word I recently found in the Merriam Webster thesaurus, a galluptious time). It didn't hurt that I went armed with every piece of show-and-tell I could scrounge up: skeins of dyed yarn, skeins of natural yarn, alum, cream of tartar, photos, posters, a list of the criteria we used to select dye plants, a list of the flowers we planted, pictures of the flowers we planted, samples of leaves pressed between wax, a little baggie of alder cones, a mason jar of alder cone dye, books, instructional hand-outs, samples of Kool-Aid dyed yarn, and information on Kool-Aid dyeing for good measure. Unpacking my car, I felt as if I was unpacking Mary Poppins' carpetbag!

A big thanks to K for helping me get the photos and poster printed and mounted!

Knitting Knews
Once again, I'm avoiding the Oat Couture sweater. Really not in the mood to fix it. Next week K and I are going to visit the "parents-in-law." Perhaps I'll take it with me. How much do you wanna bet I also take some other project with me "just in case," and spend the weekend working on only that project? I think I need FiberRavenSoiree's Fantum Finisher to come sliding down my chimney. Don't have a chimney, but you get my point.

The Oat Couture sweater aside, I'm in the unique position of having nothing to knit right now. Nothing in the UFO pile either. Neener, neener. The Lorna's Laces socks are done except for kitchenering one toe. (We are talking five minutes of my time, one commercial break, to zip up Mr. Toe, and yet I balk! Oy.)

Casting about for something to do, I pulled out of my stash my yummy Opal Brazil yarn. The color I have is the brightly colored one at the left of this picture. (FYI for non-knitters: This yarn makes its own stripes. The socks in the picture are knit from one strand of yarn but as you knit along, the yarn changes color, automatically making a relatively complex, colorful, striped pattern.) That should be good for a few hours of mindless knitting, while I silently mouth curses at the Oat Couture sweater.

Dyer's Dyegest -- Bracken Dye!
Still on my impatient quest for Dyestuff I Can Dye with Right Now Damn It, I scoured my reference books yet uh-gain and decided to experiment with bracken. Bracken is a fern-like plant that grows in tall, single stalks. As I understand it, it is A Bad Thing if you have it in your yard -- and I have a lot of it in my yard.

I cut up the bracken (which was a very slow process since, due to my nature, I had to save every frickin' microscopic spider I found on it), soaked it in water overnight and then, unlike with the alder cones, simmered it in water to see if I could extract more color. After about half-an-hour, the water had developed only a very slight, clear, greenish tinge. Not having much faith in a pan of faintly green water and not wanting to waste much yarn, I threw in a three-inch piece of the Henry’s Attic and was startled and tickled to see it turn a beautiful shade of minty green. By that time, quite a bit of the dyebath had evaporated (an ongoing problem in the dyeing process, I’ve discovered) and there wasn’t enough dyebath remaining to dye even a puny 1/2-ounce skein of yarn. So, being a total neophyte at this, and being eager to make more green yarn, and not knowing what else to do, I threw in some fresh bracken and more water, simmered it for another half-an-hour, threw in the skein of yarn, and simmered the whole shebang for yet another half-hour. Pooh. All I got was beige yarn.

Funny thing about beige. Until I started experimenting with dyeing, I didn't think beige was a real color, at the very least, not a color that someone would go out of their way to create. I figured, if you want beige yarn, sheer a beige sheep! Wrong-o! Beige is a real color and, in fact, I have fallen quite in love with the subtle, natural color of this dyed yarn. However, it's still not the kicky green I had glimpsed earlier. Now the question is, what went wrong, and do I have the patience to try to reproduce the conditions that created the mint green yarn, or do I move on to something else? I'm pretty sure my impatience and the fresh, as in not-soaked-overnight-so-its-cellulose-can-break-down, bracken are the culprits.

A swatch knit in Bracken Beige:

brackenswatch.jpg

The alder cone swatch for comparison:

alderswatch.jpg

The undyed yarn for further comparison:

Yarn_Garden1.jpg

On Friday, dyeing with foxglove!


Posted by Ryan at 08:32 AM

June 23, 2003

The Pen is Mightier Than, Well, The Pen

Recently another blogger, frustrated with the lack of comments on her blog, entertained herself by writing her own comments, using various dialects and personas. In an interesting twist, some of the personalities weren't particularly complimentary about her blog! This reminded me of something similar my mother did many years ago:

At the time of this story, we lived in Singapore (Really. And this was country No. 5. Maybe 6?). My mother was asked to write a book review of "Jonathan Livingstone Seagull" for our small American community newspaper. Being an unsentimental sort, my mother L-O-A-T-H-E-D the book but, for sociopolitical reasons, couldn't be as starkly honest in her review as she would have liked. She noticed, though, that previous book reviews had not had bylines, so she solved her problem thusly: She duly wrote and submitted a smarmily positive review, followed immediately by a long scathing letter to the editor saying how moronic the book was and what an idiot the reviewer was to think that the book had any redeeming value whatsoever. The review was printed one month, sans name. The letter was printed the next onth, avec name. Problem solved. A brilliant but conniving woman, my mother.

Knitting Knews
Take a little journey with me. One day, say, about six months ago, you learn that some dear friends are expecting. About one month ago, you decide to knit said dear friends a sweater for their snookum-wookums. You go to an LYS and find the perfect pattern: simple, tailored, sweet. You go to another LYS and find the perfect yarn: machine-washable and dryable, the right weight, a beautiful cobalt blue. You spend the next month slaving over the sweater, with considerable furrowing of brows and sticking out of tongue. You finish the sweater, back, front, two sleeves. You seam the sweater, again with great furrowing blahblahblah. You go back to LYS #2 and pick out six of the most precious cobalt blue heart-shaped buttons. You attach the buttons. You give a huge, satisfied sigh of relief that the project is over. You lift the sweater up to admire your handiwork. And notice a huge frickin', frackin' mistake!!!! Yes, dear friends, I left an entire pattern repeat out of the left front shoulder, making it a good 3/4-inch shorter than the right front shoulder.

The first sound you hear is me thumping my head against the coffee table. The silence you then hear is me holding my breath until I turn blue. The muffled sound you hear next is me stuffing the sweater in the "Sweater? What sweater? I don't see no steenkin' sweater!" pile.

And the next muffled sound you hear is me taking it out again because you know and I know I'm going to fix it.

Anyway, here is a picture of the &*$#@! sweater, post-seaming but pre-button:

bluesweaternobutton.jpg

Dyeing Dyegest -- The First Dyed Skein!

A picture of a 1/2-ounce skein of Henry's Attic in two cups of the alder dyebath:

alderdyeandyarn.jpg

A finished, rinsed and dried skein of alder yarn.

alderskein.jpg

The color of the alder yarn is very much like the color of honey, as this picture shows.

alderhoney.JPG

Lastly, a swatch knit using the alder yarn. The color of this photo is pretty accurate.

alderswatch.jpg

On Wednesday, bracken-dyed yarn!


Posted by Ryan at 09:52 AM | Comments (7)

June 20, 2003

But...But...But...I Don't Really KNOW Anything!

I suppose this technically should go under the "Dyeing Dyegest" section but since it's so astonishing, I think it qualifies for the Gratuitous Story of the Day. I've been invited to do a natural dyeing presentation! Clueless, only-been-dyeing-for-a-week moi!

The story: Wednesday night I went to my monthly Guild meeting and, during "show and tell," trotted out the balls of yarn I've dyed. Afterwards, a member of the guild invited me to do a short presentation about natural dyeing to some science teachers at a local high school! I am, as the British would say, completed gobsmacked. And very flattered. And very excited. Fortunately, I have oodles of experience doing training and presentations, so that leaves me free to just enjoy the process of putting together and conducting the presentation. Dear K has, of course, jumped right into the fray and said she will help me print large copies of some photos to use, since she has all that fancy foo-foo Mac equipment and a high-end color printer. This is going to be so much fun!

Knitting Knews
Nobody move. Nobody speak. Nobody breathe. I've started sewing together the Oat Couture sweater... News at 11.

Dyeing Dyegest: Success! (I Think...)
Reader Janet has expressed particular interest in the results of my experiments in dyeing with alder cones, so I dedicate today's entry specifically to her! Hi, Janet, and thank you for reading the blog!


No doubt about it, gathering flowers for dyeing is a slow process, especially if you're determined to keep the garden looking splendorific while you do it. Every few days I gather a few more slightly wilted flowerheads and stash them away in the freezer but, since the minimum amount I need for dyeing a 1/2-ounce skein is two cups of flower material, it will be a while before the dye garden yields what I need. Currently, we are having the most success with gathering the prolific marigolds.

While we wait for the flowers to grudgingly surrender their blossoms, I thought it would be a lark to see what I could do with the alder cones I gathered about two months ago. The dyeing reference books say you can dye with a combination of alder cones, leaves, and bark but I had only cones since I was clueless the day I gathered them. Although all the books said you should soak the cones and then simmer them to make the dyebath, one book said sometimes soaking them was enough to bring out the dye color so, being impatient, I decided to go that route, just soaking them for a couple of nights, straining them, and going straight to the dye process.

As a reminder, here are the cones soon after I picked them:

alderconespicked.jpg

Here are the cones in the bowl (2 cups of cones to two cups of warm water). This is five minutes after I put everything together. Notice that the color has already started to leach out.

alderdyebegin.JPG

Here is the dyebath being strained through cheesecloth and a sieve. Pretty gross, non? And you have to wonder why I chose to wear a white t-shirt while I was doing this...

alderstraining.jpg

A small bowl of the finished alder dye.

alderdyebowl.JPG

The finished alder dye in a mason jar.

alderdyejar.jpg

On Monday's post, I'll explain and show pictures of the dyeing process and the dyed yarn.

Posted by Ryan at 02:22 PM | Comments (2)

June 18, 2003

Garden: 1; Dog: 0

If you are a gardener, or get gardening catalogs, or have ever been in a gardening store, or know a gardener, or have been in a garden, you've probably seen a gazing ball. You also probably know that you can't purchase a ball and stand for less than 50 smackeroos. But - ta-da! - a $3.00 terra-cotta-pot-and-pearlized-plastic-ball knock-off!

gazingball.jpg

And why is Miss Frankie staring so fixedly at our gazing ball? Because that's her ball perched on the pots! In fact, she had been maniacally chasing it around the yard a mere 30 seconds before. She is most perplexed. (And, yes, that does mean that our lovely and serene Victorian gazing ball is in fact covered in dog slobber.)

Knitting Knews
Continuing to successfully avoid the Oat Couture sweater, I finished the Magic Scarf, casting off, pulling the dropped stitches, fringe, and all. Here is a picture of the finished product, looking a little stiff and boxy, although, in reality, it hangs quite nicely, especially when flung around the neck with an Isadora Duncan-like flourish:

magicscarffin.JPG

What I learned:

1. All the patterns I found called for stockinette stitch so I followed suit. However, in retrospect, garter stitch would have been preferable because the edges of the finished scarf curl inward (as you can see in the picture). This causes the 8-inch-wide finished scarf to look a mere 4 inches wide. Pooh. Perhaps slipping the edge stitches might have helped with this as well.

2. A "magicked" scarf will pretty much double in length and width. I cast off when the scarf reached 30" in length; after the "magic," it was 60" in length, not including the fringe. I didn't measure the before-and-after width, so I can't report as precisely on that, but the scarf did become much wider.

3. If your yarn is mohair-y at all, it will take a loooooong time to pull the dropped stitches out. It took me about forty minutes and some mighty colorful language to unravel all the dropped stitches in this scarf.

4. To make the cast-off edge as wide as the "magicked" cast-on edge, I did two single crochets between the stitches as I cast off. The process went something like this: Knit the first stitch, crochet one loop into that stitch, crochet a second loop into the first loop, drop the second stitch (a weird but liberating feeling), knit the third stitch, drop the second crocheted stitch over the third stitch. (I didn't actually crochet the loops; I just used my knitting needle to pull a new loop through the existing loop.)

5. The cast-on edge and the cast-off edge will seem a mite Jekyll and Hyde-ish since the cast-on edge will look loose and wet-noodley while the cast-off edge will look more like a normal, tailored cast-off edge, even with the double-crochets. I strongly recommend a fringe; it will help camoflauge some of this incongruence.

Dyeing Dyegest - The Journey Begins
Half-way through my vacation, somehow I found myself with the cart before the horse: a finished alder cone dyebath but no washed or mordanted yarn. Wooooah, Nelly! Time to head on back to square one! In retrospect, I think I was reluctant to wash and mordant because, well, when you're done, the yarn looks just the way it did when you started. As a dyer wannabe, I say what's the fun in that?

For no other reason than it’s what would fit in my larger enamel pot, I washed ten of the 1/2-ounce skeins (five ounces total). Only then did I notice that all three dyeing books had recipes for mordanting -- you guessed it -- four ounces of yarn! Argh! After doing some mental gymnastics, I ended up with the following approximate ratios for mordanting five ounces: 1.5 gallons of water, 1 1/4 tablespoons of alum, and 1 1/4 teaspoons of tartaric acid. My Biggest Lesson: Although you’re supposed to simmer the yarn in the mordanting solution, a large pot on a smallish burner on an electric stove gives you only two heat choices: (1) boiling and (2) one degree below simmering. I spent the hour required for the mordanting process turning the heat up-down-up-down-up-down-up-down, crossing my fingers that the semi-boiling and semi-simmering temperatures I was achieving would somehow average themselves out.

On Friday, we'll start the Alder Cone Adventure!

Posted by Ryan at 08:30 AM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2003

Blogging Redux!

I'm back after my week-long blogging-bereft vacation. Who knew this silly little diary could get under your skin? A few days of no blogging and I was getting downright twitchy!

A "thank you" goes out to everyone for their condolences about Barclay. Granted, it was not like losing a pet but we had become very emotionally invested in the little guy. We did not request a follow-up note from the animal shelter but we're pretty sure he's gone to the Big Nest in the Sky where chewed-up worms are plentiful and he has normal feet like all the other crows. Now if he could just cover up that big, glowing red nose. Oh, wait; that's another misfit, another story.

I have so much to catch up on that I thought I would jump right into Knitting Knews.

Knitting Knews
In my last post before my vacation, I was teetering on the brink of seaming my first sweater. That Friday, I had a couple of quick and dirty finishing/seaming lessons, one from a co-worker who showed me some basics during the lunch hour, and one from an LYS staff member who gave me an impromptu ten-minute lesson after work. Now I'm more confused than ever. I should have known I was in trouble when the LYS person whipped out an entire book on finishing. And what's that she's saying? Sewing the sleeves to the shoulders involves math?! Horrors! I'm now reduced to eyeing the four pieces of the sweater with great trepidation and, in truth, haven't touched it since I cast-off the last piece. In fact, if I were a cat, I'd have my back arched and I'd be dancing around it on kitty tip-toes, curious, intrigued, tempted, but still afraid to touch it.

My simple avoidance solution was to start the Magic Scarf. I now remember why I bought this obscenely expensive yarn. The colors are downright spine-tingling: coppers, teals, pine greens, cantaloupe, aquamarine, terra cotta, every earthy color under the rainbow. It knits up beautifully, too. I used size 13 needles and got about 2.5 stitches to the inch. The scarf is now about a 1.5 feet long; I think I'll make it about 2.5 feet long and then abracadabra! I did a test swatch Saturday night and then pulled out all the drop stitches; it was a hoot!

A picture of the scarf pre-magic:

magicscarfbeg.JPG


Dyeing Dyegest
During my vacation, K and I took measure of the dye garden, seeing what was growing, what wasn't, what was missing, which seedlings were ready to plant, and so on.

Our cosmos seeds have been very disappointing. They germinated a good three weeks ago but are still only about one inch tall, no matter how much cheerleading we do ("Gimme a 'C!' Gimme an 'O!' Gimme an 'S!' ") and no matter how much water or Zoo Doo fertilizer we throw at them, so we said ta' heck with 'em, and bought and planted 16 sturdy, already-blooming, bright-pink cosmos plants.

In another bed, we planted three purple basil plants. One of the reference books assures us you can dye with basil, but it's a complicated pain in the tookus to do so (something along the lines of it will gladly dye everything, including you, your clothes, and every surface in your kitchen, but is stubborn about dyeing yarn). Still, we figured it was a win-win situation: If we couldn't dye with the basil, we'd serve it up with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, toasted baguette slices, and lemon-infused olive oil! That'd show it!

As a thank you gift for some work I did, someone at work gave me four dahlia plants. Since dahlias are on The List, they got plopped in the dye garden as well. Here's a picture of one of the plants:

dahlia.jpg

Lastly, we transplanted some calendula seedlings into the dye garden. I'm really intrigued by the orange calendula and wonder if they will make a different color from the yellow. All of the dyeing reference books warn that the color of a flower often has little to do with the color of the dye it makes so, who knows?

On a slightly different note, I finally divided the 1/2-pound skein of Henry's Attic into 16 1/2-ounce skeins (as Goldilocks would say, “Not too big, not too small. Just right!”). The skeining process wasn’t perfect; the skeins vary from 30 wraps around my hand and elbow to 40 wraps, but it was as exact as I was willing to get. A picture for you with you-know-who in attendance, as always.

skeins.JPG

The last few days of my vacation I also did some mordanting and some actual dyeing. I'm looking forward to shareing my "dyeing journey" with you over the next few entries!

Posted by Ryan at 10:46 AM | Comments (3)

June 11, 2003

A Hitch in My Computer Gitalong...

As I mentioned in my entry last Friday, I'm on vacation this week. I quite assumed that, while I was on vacation, I would be able to continue posting to the blog from either K's Mac or my PC. Uh, nope! K's Mac doesn't get along as well with Moveabletype as a PC does, and Microsoft decided to cancel my MSN account for some reason which, five phone calls to five different people in five different departments later, I haven't been able to resolve. Anyhoo, please bear with me this week. I'll be back to full posting form on Monday.

In the meantime, I'm sad to report that our Baby Barclay adventure did not have a good ending. On Sunday, we noticed that something was wrong with one, if not both, of Barclay's feet and that, in general, he seemed underdeveloped. In comparison, his sibling, who had remained in the nest for the duration, was now approximately the same size as the B-52s, was healthy, shiny black, and strong, and was flying around with great crow-like boldness. We realized we had no choice but to take Barclay to our local wildlife rescue center. The wonderful, sympathetic lady there agreed that something was wrong with his legs and said they would see what they could do, but they didn't hold out much hope.

We spent the rest of the day feeling blue, weepy, and snappish. It was not easy saying good-bye to our little charge.

(Of course, we also found it ironic that, after we had spent a week taking care of the little bird and had made a special effort to take him to a place where people would make the right decisions for him, we went to lunch and both ordered chicken...)

Posted by Ryan at 09:49 AM | Comments (4)

June 06, 2003

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

Let me share with you my all-time favorite joke, told to me by my niece when she was 7. I am 43 years old, and this still makes me laugh every time, even when I tell it to myself. I have no idea why.

What did Tigger see when he looked in the toilet?
Pooh.

Go ahead. Try to tell that joke to someone without smiling or laughing. I dare ya’.

Barclay Bugle
babycrowillus.jpgNot much news about Baby Barclay although he is busy perfecting the Barclay Bounce – boinging up and down to see over the edge of the box. Because he is so young, his feet are like floppy wet noodles, and we think maybe this bouncing is one way of his strengthening his feet. (Notice how one week ago we didn’t know squat about crows and now, all of a sudden, we think we’re crow experts? Sheesh.)

We did another diaper change last night. Same drill: Bird, box, towels, K going "icky, icky, icky." Here is a photo of Barclay mid-box-switch.

grumpybarclay.jpg

Knitting Knews
All pieces of the Oat Couture sweater are knit and cast off! Now on to sewing the pieces together with some help from a co-worker. I’m a little nervous because I’ve read soooo many blog entries and forum entries where experienced knitters moan and groan about finishing. Exactly how horrible is it?

This pattern is definitely a keeper. I so enjoyed this first true foray away from the world of socks. Again, if you’re a new knitter and want a great sweater pattern to practice your skills on, I wholeheartedly recommend this little gem! For Seattleites and Northwesterners, I purchased this at Weaving Works.

Dyegarden Dyegest – Skeins!
The Henry's Attic is now in skeins. I will be on vacation all next week so I'm planning on actually get some dyeing done! I want to wash and mordant the Henry’s Attic this weekend, and then create the alder cone dye and the marigold dye. K seems convinced I can do all of the dyeing on her barbecue, but I am not convinced…

Posted by Ryan at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)

June 04, 2003

Ansel Adams In an Alternative Universe

We've recently discovered the breath-taking colors and perfumes of giant bearded irises. K has always had some of the traditional purple irises in her yard but last fall she planted some exotic hybrids and this spring we were rewarded with some truly spectacular flowers.

In order to share the irises with you, I attempted to take the best photo my fledgling photographic skills would allow but, as always, things are never as simple as they seem. Here, my first attempt. What is the blurred gray area along the bottom, you ask? Why, that would be my boobs!

blockediris.jpg

Attempt #2, closer up and minus the bodacious ta-tas:

newiris.jpg

Traditional purple irises smell, well, purple, the way some candies taste "red." These hybrid purple/lavendar/orange irises, however, smell like vanilla ice cream and gingersnap cookies blended together. A very heady and exotic scent.

Here's another of the new irises. Oddly enough, this one also smells purple, although, according to the emerging pattern, it should smell brown. Which, frankly, doesn't sound very nice. In fact, I don't even want to know what brown would smell like.

iris2.jpg

The Barclay Bugle -- Operation "Diaper Change"
We're happy to report that Baby Barclay is still being fed by the B-52s. He is becoming more active and curious and K reports that she has seen his head and one eagle-eye (or “crow-eye,” in this case?) peeking out of the box.

Last night we gave Barclay the equivalent of a birdy diaper change. I peeked in the box, as we do every couple of days, and discovered that it was rank enough in there to singe my nose hairs so, while the B-52s were busy elsewhere, we took the box down, put Barclay in another box, replaced the old kitchen towels with new, put Barclay back in and bungeed the box back in place. Towards the end we did espy some dark and threatening wing'ed shadows in the tree above us, but ultimately we don't think the parents had a clue that we had temporarily kidnapped their young un', and they are back to feeding him this morning. (Miss K was not very butch about the whole process, I'm afraid. In fact, she broke out in goosebumps (ironic, non?) and danced around on her toes saying things like "Icky, icky, icky!")

This is still a delicate process and there are no guarantees we have done the right thing by Barclay but perhaps with our "stewardship" and your encouraging thoughts, we can drag him flapping and pecking into juvenile-hood.

Knitting Knews
The Oat Couture sweater is close to being done. I've completed the back, the front and one sleeve. Here, the front, with yarnover button holes at the top, and the finished sleeve:

aidansleeve.jpg

Lest you think I've forgotten about the Lorna's Laces socks, they are getting their share of attention. I've completed the ankle and heel flap for the second sock. Which reminds me: In October, the guild I belong to is going to have a meeting dedicated primarily to socks. The members are invited to bring their sock masterpieces for show-and-tell. Ack! What shall I knit? I'm intrigued by the idea of beaded socks, and the image of beaded baby socks keeps popping into my head, maybe yellow socks with white opalescent beads. I'm also intrigued by the idea of designing a sock based on Polynesian tattoo designs like this or this. Janine, are you knitting anything for the October meeting? Can I steal your idea, wink, wink, nudge, nudge?

Dyer's Dyegest -- Baby Steps
Finally, after weeks of slowly accumulating the paraphernalia I needed for mordanting, losing some of it, finding what I'd lost, losing the rest of it, finding what I'd lost again, I'm starting the process. So far, the steps look something like this:

1. Wind the 8-ounce skein of Henry's Attic into four 2-ounce balls because going from a skein to a skein, which is what you really need, while trying to weigh the yarn on a small kitchen scale, is nigh-on impossible.

2. Rewind the four 2-ounce balls into eight 1-ounce balls because that was what the reference books said to do in the first place, only you didn't read them carefully enough.

3. Wind the eight 1-ounce balls into eight 1-ounce skeins, which is where you were trying to get in step 1.

4. Wash the skeins without making them go all felted and icky.

5. Dry the skeins.

6. Mordant the skeins without making them go all felted and icky.

7. Dry the skeins.

As you can see from this photo I am on -- drum roll! -- Step 1. Oh. (When exactly do I get to dye?)


henryattic.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 09:08 AM | Comments (5)

June 02, 2003

Duck! Oh, Wait, I Mean, "Crow!"

Apparently The Powers That Be have decided that I am to continue telling stories about wildlife plummeting out of trees because this weekend K and I became temporary foster parents to a wayward baby crow.

First, you should know that K has extreme birdophobia, specifically flappingwingophobia and peckingbeakophobia. And I, who am not birdophobic and would, in fact, have welcomed the chance to get up close and personal with the baby bird, was, at the time of his inelegant arrival, quite elsewhere and was taking my $%^!&* time about getting home. When I finally did get home at about 7pm, I called K for our nightly “check in” and she told me, in one big, long anxious breath, that a baby crow had fallen out of its nest into her yard, that she had called animal rescue but they said they don’t come out and pick up downed wildlife anymore, that they advised her to get the crow herself, that she had attempted to do so but that, in the meantime, the parents who, to hear her tell it, were the size of B-52s, had found their lost little one and attempted to beat the crap out of K whenever she went out in her yard.

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After I arrived at her house, we went out to rescue the wee one, she armed with a broom for whacking the B-52s and me with a box. We put the crowlet who, by that time, had been named Barclay (ask K why, don’t ask me), taped the box up and put him in the workshed for the night. The parents did swoop in during this operation and, while they didn’t come down and physically belabor us, they did make a God-awful racket and one of them, in a great display of avian melodrama, ripped leaves off the apple tree and gouged out chunks of wood from its branches. I’m quite sure at one point I saw him put his wing up to his forehead and swoon.

barclaylonely.jpgWhile waiting for me to arrive, K had cobbled together a little platform for the box which we affixed to the fence under the tree that Barclay had fallen out of. The next morning, Barclay looked no worse for the wear, so we bungeed his box to the platform and waited anxiously to see what would happen. It took the B-52s a good half-day to get used to the new set-up but we are thrilled to report that, as of this Monday morning, they have been feeding Barclay in his new home for the last two days. Armed with our faithful Excalibroom, we did check in on him a couple of times. Originally, he was flat, listless and hunkered down on the kitchen towels we had lined the box with but, as of yesterday, he was much more three-dimensional, sitting up, moving, flapping, and staring around with his amazingly blue eyes. Going into the yard is still a little dicey because the B-52s are still keeping a protective vigil and hate K, me, the dog, and everything we stand for, but we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Please keep your fingers crossed for our ugly little child.

Addendum: K asked me to post this other picture of the Barclay Box because she says the other photo makes his new home look so stark and lonely:

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Knitting Knews – Stash Explosion!
A couple of postings ago, I smugly said that my yarn stash is unusually small and, in fact, fits in one small plastic bag. A week later, I am forced to eat my words. First, I acquired the six large skeins of Schaefer Yarns which I wrote about in my May 28 entry. That alone pretty much doubled my stash. Two small plastic bags. Then, yesterday at a lovely knitting party at Sheila's house, as part of a stash-reduction, she presented me with pretty much her entire collection of sock yarns. Three small plastic bags and a stash that has tripled in size in a week!

Lest I sound ungrateful and stash-size-obsessed, be assured I would quadruple, five-uple or six-uple my stash if it meant getting wonderful yarns like my treasures from Sheila. Such rich, wonderful colors: plum, brown, white, gold, dusty blue, taupe, bright red, burgundy, a blue tweed and a kicky red with dark flecks. Thank you for my Christmas in May, Sheila! (Incidentally, she did want me to mention that while she got rid of her sock yarn because she is perhaps sock-knitting-averse, perhaps sock-knitting-challenged, or perhaps just not-sock-knitting-inclined, she does wear socks. Hmmmm. She wears socks. I knit socks. An idea is born.)

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Dyeing Dyegest – First Harvest!!
We harvested our first dye flowers yesterday, all of the first flowers from the marigolds. We put them in a plastic bag and they now reside in the deep recesses of K’s freezer until we find them some more brothers and sisters.

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Posted by Ryan at 10:00 AM | Comments (5)