Note: I'm on vacation next week. Will post again as soon as possible!
IswearIswearIswear I don't go looking for art that has to do on some level with bosoms or bosom accoutrements, but when you're on the hunt for Kooky Krafts, ya' just run into this kind of stuff.
For something completely different and perhaps not so terribly kooky (and which fer sher has nothing to do with bosoms), here is some truly whimsical jewelry made from computer chips. Don't miss the necklace made from crocheted wire .
The Sisyphus Scarf continues to shrink. I've decided to blame this phenomenon on the proximity of Mars. After all, it's just a liiiiiitle too coincidental that the closer Mars gets to Earth, the shorter the scarf gets.
Dye Garden Dyegest
In K's next door neighbor's yard grows a tall, majestic birch tree which, according to K, is the pride of the neighborhood. In quite unneighborly fashion, I have been lusting after the bark of that tree ever since we started the natural dyeing project. (I must get this lusting from my late paper-engineer father who, much to the family's collective chagrin, spent our entire visit to the Muir Woods calculating how much paper he could manufacture from one redwood.) However, the birch tree steadfastly refuses to drop broken limbs on the ground and K equally steadfastly refuses to succumb to my frequent, wheedling suggestions that it needs severe pruning.
Two weekends ago I chanced upon a rather substantial branch lying on the ground. Trying not to sound too eager (and, in fact, whistling nonchalantly at first to cleverly throw her off the scent), I asked K, "Um, where did this come from?" When she said, "I cut it from the birch tree," I whooped with delight, snatched up the branch, and scuttled off, very much like a cockroach when you turn on the lights, I'm sure, to stash it somewhere safe. While she was in San Jose (the same weekend of the obscene knitting-and-cable-TV marathon), I carefully pared the bark off the branch. (That is, after I rescued it from Frankie who insisted that she, too, had been waiting for That Exact Stick.) Behold, my hard-fought, hard-won prize nestled on the Ancient and Holy Platter of Processed Papyrus. (Isn't this where someone tells me, à la walnut fiasco, that I have the wrong part of the birch tree?)
The sad thing is, now that I have it, I don't know what to do with it.
Thanks to a grammatically militant mother (and we are talking five-star-general militant here), I don't have much patience for sloppy typos in forum messages (although, ahem, in the interest of fair reporting, I have been known to make them myself). Recently, however, I came across a message, presumably about doing an invisible cast-on, with the subject line "Invisible Cat On." So many questions immediately flooded my mind like, How do you even know if you have an invisible cat on? How do you remove an invisible cat from your person? Can you hear an invisible cat purr? Where would you buy invisible cat food? Or invisible catnip? Does it chase invisible mice? Do they barf up invisible furballs that you discover only in unfortunate ways? If your veterinarian has to take your invisible cat's temperature, how does he know he's not really poking it in the eye? I know I have two cloned black cats, but is it possible I also have an invisible cat? Will I ever know?
The lace scarf is now officially called the Sisyphus Scarf or, more accurately, the &!@#$%@&! Sisyphus Scarf. For the first week or so, I knit and knit and knit and knit like a madwoman, yet when I held it up, it was only 3" long. So I knit and knit and knit and knit some more...and it was 3.25" long. Then I knit and knit and knit and knit some more...and it was 3" long again. I held it up for K to look at, desperately hoping she would reassure me that, yes, it was longer, but she just snorted. Sigh.
The breakthrough came when K went on vacation and I house- and Frankie-sat for her. I do not have cable TV and K does so, the truth be told, I spent a large part of the five days watching sixteen or seventeen shows simultaneously, knitting all the while. The scarf is now a good 40" long. I have one more foot to knit, at which point, according to the Sisyphusean "new math," it should be 36" long.
A closeup of the scarf:
Dye Garden Dyegest - A Lesson Learned
One of my most favorite dyeing outcomes was the marigold-dyed yarn. It had a wonderful golden hue and, as I described in an earlier entry, a unique metallic sheen. That is, until I knit up the swatch. Somehow, once you swatch it, the subtle shadings of yellow, brown and green blend together to make a color that looks like...well, there's no nice way to say this -- the stuff the doctor looks for in your nose to see if you have a sinus infection. Blech.
You can't really see the gross yellow/brown/greeny swirly effect in this picture but, trust me, this swatch gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "snot rag."
(Note: No posting on Friday or Monday. My "photo wrangler," K, will be away on vacation and, since having a blog with no photos bores me stupid, Mossy Cottage will be on a very temporary, very short hiatus.)
Because I am an amazingly talented human being, I managed to sunburn the right side—and only the right side—of my face. I have a half-red forehead, one inverse raccoon eye (thanks to my sunglasses), one red cheekbone, one red jawbone, and half of a red neck (no comments). If I concentrate on the left side of my face, I feel cool, fresh, dewy, and pleasant; if I concentrate on the right side of my face, I feel hot, swollen, sweaty, and bitchy. I wouldn’t come near me today if I were you; there’s no telling what’s waiting for you behind Door Number Three. (This is all thanks to a weekend ride in the convertible with the top down. One-hour drive to the outlet mall—lovely, fresh morning sun, filtered by tall pine trees; one-hour drive home—broiling, diabolical afternoon sun, filtered by bupkus. K told me to put my SPF 30,000 on but did I? Nooooooooo.)
Rather than raining pennies from heaven, lately it has been raining free yarn.
K's neighbor arrived at her house this weekend with a small bin of unwanted yarn that she dumped in my lap (with certainly no protest from me). Some of the yarn is genyoowine beige aran yarn from Ireland, which is extra-fortuitous because I've used up all of the Henry's Attic and was waffling between not dyeing anymore or buying a whole 'nother 560-yard skein of undyed yarn. Now I have at least two more 1/2-ounce skeins of yarn to experiment with.
Below, a picture of some of my loot. I don't know what the composition of the large skein of yarn on the left is. It doesn't feel as genyoowine as the yarn on the right. Does anyone know any way to figure out if a yarn is 100% wool or not?
Wait, I lied. There is a small price to pay for this yarn. In exchange, I told K's neighbor that I would weave in all the ends in this sweater that she knit ten years ago and then threw in The Closet of No Return. (But now I see that the sweater is crying out for some silver buttons, which, knowing me, I'll pick up at my LYS this afternoon, so my free yarn is becoming less so by the minute. Humph.)
Then, at the soiree, Sheila hauled out the party favor to end all party favors, her "Bag of Balls," a huge bag of yarn that she wanted to adopt out to good homes. Despite the fact that I don't need any more yarn, I don't want any more yarn, and I have no use for any more yarn, I dove right in. Sigh.
Here, my booty, including some Lamb's Pride worsted, a lovely skein of midnight blue aran wool, some Pingouin wool, some Kitchen Cotton, and an alpaca entrelac sock kit (which I puzzled over for many hours later that evening until I had completely and thoroughly scrambled my brain. What evil genius came up with this stuff?).
Dye Garden Dyegest
For anyone who didn't see this picture on Pink Tea, here are all of my swatches and balls of dyed yarn en masse.
Top to bottom, left to right:
The two balls at the very top: marigold, and failed black walnut
First row: Failed bracken, black walnut, alder cone
Second row: Bracken, foxglove, purple plum tree leaves with lemon ammonia afterbath
Third row: Dandelion with vinegar afterbath, coreopsis with lemon ammonia afterbath, purple plum tree leaves
Next project: Wash and mordant the freebie aran yarn, and then on to hollyhock dye!
And you thought this was just an ordinary day... This month, this week, and this day we celebrate:
Home Business Month
National Catfish Month
Children's Vision & Learning Month
Medic- Alert Awareness Month
National Water Quality Month
Romance Awareness Month
American Artist Appreciation Month
National Golf Month
National Inventors Month
Foot Health Month
National Back To School Month
Family Fun Month
Foot Health Month
National Watermelon Month
Children's Good Manners Month
National Literacy Month
Romance Awareness Month
National Hypnosis Awareness Month
National Data Entry Month
Family Eye Care Month
National Water Quality Month
International Air Travel Month
National Peach Month
National Child Support Enforcement Month
National Parks Month
Admit You're Happy Month
Almost Too Late to Get a Tan Month
Eat Dessert First Month
International Breastfeeding Month
National Little League Baseball Month
National Napping Month
National Parks Month
National Sandwich Month
Pooh Friendship Month
American Dance Week
National Friendship Week
Air Conditioning Appreciation Week
Don't Wait - Celebrate! Week
American Dance Week
National Aviation Week
Thanks for All the Gifts Week
Weird Contest Week
Zoroastrian Remembrance of the Dead Day (Farvardigan)
Saint Agapitus Day
Saint Asteriolus Day
Saint Clare Day
Saint Helena Day
Saint Frances de Chantal Day
On Saturday, I went to my third soiree hosted by Sheila of FiberRavenSoiree, and it was the best evuh! Such a funny, articulate, creative lot of women attended that, suffice it to say, during one conversation about a particular knitted piece, the words "uterus" and "ferret" were used. None of this limiting "knit" and "purl" vocabulary for us, no, sirree!
This soiree was unique in the history of social knitting events in that it was "blogged" while it was happening. Sheila had the mahvelous idea of posting running pictures and commentary of the soiree as it played out. For the running commentary, a look at some of the folks at the soiree, and pictures of some of the beautiful knit pieces they brought with them, look at the August 16, 17 and 18th entries on Pink Tea. (And pleeeeeeeze scroll at light speed past the horrible picture of me with my eyes closed down to the mo' bettah picture.)
An unsolicited plug for Pink Tea: Its unusual use over the weekend aside, Pink Tea is a "communal blog," a place where anyone can post pictures of and information about pieces they are knitting, but it is sorely and sadly underused! To join, contact Sheila and she will give you access rights. Surely there's a knitblog wannabe out there who sees this as the perfect opportunity to dip his or her proverbial toe in the blogging pond?
Dye Garden Dyegest -- Hallelujah!
Last week I achieved the pinnacle of my natural dyeing experiences. More experienced dyers may just shrug but I love this color, which a co-worker calls "pumpkin spice" and I call "burnt carrot." It was created using coreopsis flowers and my secret ingredient, lemon ammonia. (Natural dyers, FYI: I used about 1/4 dyer's coreopsis and the rest was the type you see in the picture.) The dyed yarn initially came out a beautiful, deep burnished gold but when I put it in the ammonia afterbath, it turned browny-orangey-spicey-carroty.
For once, I was bright enough to include an actual flower blossom in the picture.
But as with many of life's joyful moments, there was a price to pay. Let us have a moment of silence for my shirt.
Apparently this is the week for spontaneous cloning. First, the black cat with a red collar that has adopted me -- even though he has a perfectly respectable home two houses down -- mysteriously metamorphosed into two black cats with red collars. I'm thoroughly used to the one cat wandering into my house so I didn't pay no ne'mind when, last night, a dark shape with a red collar started oiling its way around my living room, that is until the shape arched its back, got all big and black and hairy and tip-toey, and proceeded to beat the crap out of -- what's this?! -- another dark shape with a red collar?! Dark Shape Number Two turned out to be the original cat and Dark Shape Number One was zee interloper, and what looked like a to-the-death territorial fight turned out to be just some lame-o posturing since, according to their tags, they live in the same house.
And now this! (I'm waiting for Bench B to arch its back and get all tip-toey and beat the crap out of Bench A.)
While I plug away on my scarf and wait for Guild Night so Janine can help me be the best two-color sock knitter ever (you can do that, right, Janine?), I started ruminating about sock blockers.
I don’t get sock blockers. I understand blocking sweaters because you need to convince a sweater that it really is a sweater. If you just let a sweater dry on its own, it will mysteriously turn into a tam o'shanter or Faroese shawl. Socks on the other hand, with minimal convincing, dry in the shape of, well, socks.
When it comes to acquiring sock blockers, you seem to have two choices: purchase mind-numbingly expensive plastic ones (one pair for every size of sock, mind you, which, per one online site, would lighten your e-wallet by 72 smackeroos), or viciously torture a wire hanger until it turns into something that looks more like an amoeba than a sock. I suppose if you want an amoeba-shaped sock then this is the way to go.
On the rare occasion when I have needed sock blockers, my solution has been cardboard. This has so many advantages: It doesn’t require wrassling stiff and uncooperative wire and running the risk of skewering your hand and having to go to the emergency room for a tetanus shot, which is so far from where you had planned on being when you said innocently to yourself, “Hmmm, I think I’ll make a sock blocker;" it’s cheap; it’s easily available; and you can customize the blocker exactly to the socks for Auntie Gertrude who has extra narrow feet or Uncle Beauregard who is missing four toes. If you use stiff enough cardboard and remove enough water from the washed sock, the cardboard sock blocker holds up just fine. Besides, if, after a while, the blocker does develop toxic mold, why, heck, chuck it and make another one! Lastly, if you want the blocker to be ventilated so the sock will dry faster, punch a few holes in it with a hole-puncher. Total cost? $0.
I recently shared this information with a woman who was as confused by the need for sock blockers as I was. After our e-confab, she immediately went to her recycling, retrieved a Priority Mail box, and five minutes later had two cheap, disposable, customized sock blockers. Her e-mail back to me positively glowed with relief and pride. (So this is how I inspire people, eh? It ain't much of a calling, Lord!)
My favorite sock blockers so far have been the ones I made for the miniature sock ornaments I made for my sister’s family. A photo for your enjoyment:
Dye Garden Dyegest
The coreopsis is currently steeping. Photos soon. In the meantime, I thought I'd share a photo of my dyestuff "collection." Everything in these bags came from the dye garden!
Confession time: I have checked this link more than once. Perhaps I need to get out more...
Did I or did I not say that this looked like a cross between a felted bowl and a deflated balloon?
My current project: a lace scarf based on a free Ozyarn pattern (requires Adobe Acrobat). I'm doing #2 using Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool in a royal blue, lighter blue, purple, and teal colorway (perhaps Larkspur?). The dark variegated yarn is muddying up the laciness of the scarf but it's a fun, easy pattern with an enjoyable end result.
Dye Garden Dyegest
Truly the emperors, the gods, of our dye garden have arrived – the beautiful black hollyhocks. K and I have never planted these before and are now thoroughly in awe of and enamored with every inch of their seven-footedness.
We have discovered that hollyhocks cooperatively (or perhaps petulantly? or even petalantly?) fling their blossoms to the ground when the blossoms are still juicy and fresh and viable. This has two benefits. First, one gets to go on a daily equivalent of an easter egg hunt -- always fun -- and, second, there's no cutting-flowers-when-they're-still-beautiful guilt.
I put two of the freely flung flowers in a ramekin and poured some hot water over them (with K breathing down my neck with anticipation) and was thrilled to see the water turn the color of black cherry Kool-Aid!
K and I had our own bona fide “six degrees of separation” experience this weekend, although in our case we only eked out five degrees. The chain:
Me: Seattleite, blogger, knitter. Link to my blog on the page of:
Rebecca of Supergirl: Seattleite, blogger, knitter, bicyclist who also has a link on her blog to the blog of:
Fran of Northwest Notes: Seattleite, blogger, bicyclist, gardener who met this weekend with:
K: Seattleite, gardener, bicyclist wannabe, who is the partner of:
Me: Seattleite, blogger, knitter.
Ack! My head is spinning!
Anyway, thanks to a world that is truly growing smaller every day, on Saturday we spent a great two hours with erstwhile-stranger-now-acquaintance Fran, talking about how to cut, rototill, amend and build new flowerbeds. Which is weird, since my blog is about knitting and dyeing. Hmmmmm; when did this all stop being about, me, me, ME?!
I forgot to take a picture of the felted Crayon Bowl but it's really all for the best since it bounced around in my purse all weekend and came out looking like a cross between a felted bowl and a deflated balloon, not the sturdy, gourd-like yet delightfully fibery bowl I had envisioned.
Here, though, is a picture of the completed, blocked Acoma Sock cuff. The triangles are definitely "swirling," although I’d still like the swirl to be more pronounced. Unfortunately, in its present form, this sock would only fit the leg of a gazelle, an anorexic gazelle, at that, so the whole thing will have to be rethought.
And now, the good, the bad and the ugly of dyeing with walnuts. Or, in this case, the ugly, the bad, and the good.
The ugly: I didn't realize that the 12-year-old walnuts were actually still in the 12-year-old walnut dye so when I innocently scooped out a cup of dye juice, and black, floppy, wet lumps suddenly started swirling darkly around in the gallon jar, I practically shot across the yard with terror. Oh, no, I'm not jumpy.
The bad: Being a bit of an eejit, I went straight to simmering the yarn in the dyebath, instead of simmering the walnuts in the dyebath first and then simmering the yarn. Here are the results, a slightly silvery beige, miles away from the dark brown I had been hoping for:
The good: I wised up and simmered some of the dark, creepy lumps in the dyebath first and then simmered the yarn in the dyebath. The result was worth every heart palpitation and "smack on the forehead" moment I had to go through: a beautiful, dark, cinnamon brown, slighty lighter than this picture shows:
The Great Low-Budget Greenhouse Project continues. With astonishing rapidity, K made this sturdy shelf for holding plants, and is well on her way to making a second one:
She's also shoveling out the cow-poo-infused dirt so that we can venture into the greenhouse without our nostrils snapping shut like a submerging hippo's. Once she digs down to hardpan, she's going to lay a frame of timbers to attach the greenhouse to, line about 1.5 feet in from the timbers with gravel for drainage, make a brickstone path down the middle to absorb and release heat and to give us a place to walk, and install the shelves. She also has ambitious plans for introducing permanent sources of electricity and water but I say all in due time, all in due time. That's the difference between K and me: A week later, I'm still resting on the laurels of just having erected the dratted thing. Unzipping the door, walking in, playing "house" for a minute or two, walking out, and peeling open my nostrils is my idea of making full and complete use of the structure. K, on the other hand...
With reader and fellow-Guilder Janine's encouragement I blocked the cuff of the Acoma sock. The results were good, except for the green strip at the seam. It is irretrievably puckered. But Janine has offered to have a confab with me on Guild night and maybe give me some sage advice. Thank you, Janine!
The Crayon Bowl felted just okay. The walls are kind of weak. It truly does look like a semi-floppy hat turned upside down. And, yes, it has actually been on my head a couple of times, once perched smack on top in all of its magnificent "bowlness," and once flattened and angled à la jaunty beret.
Pictures on Monday (uh, but not of me wearing the Crayon Bowl).
Dyeing Garden Dyegest
Today I have the honor of posting a picture of the results of a reader’s natural dyeing efforts, namely, those of Janet, a multi-faceted Oregonian who is a cranberry farmer, natural dyer, and proprietress of KnitKits where she sells creative and charming knitted bag and tote kits.
Apparently Janet was inspired enough by my bracken dyeing experiments – and surrounded and overwhelmed enough by ever-multiplying fronds of bracken – to want to try the same, so here are her results. She spins a funny story of trying to do this the one weekend they had little, if any, water but, as she wrote, “There was all that bracken. What's a body to do?”
I believe the difference between the colors of these two skeins comes from the fact that Janet put one skein in the dyebath first, let it simmer for a while, and then decided she had enough dye color to warrant putting a second skein in. Janet, correct me if I'm wrong...
Janet has also dropped some hints about dyeing with alder cones next year so perhaps I'll have some more photos to post when that time rolls around. Hint, hint, Janet, hint, hint.
Monday, the interesting results of my experiments with the black walnut dye.
Below, a picture of a sparrows' nest in a birdbox in K's back yard. Unfortunately, the B-52s viewed the birdbox as the bird equivalent of a fast-food window and we believe that they plucked the sparrow babies forth to feed to their young 'uns, despite our frequent mad dashes up from the kitchen table, out through the screen door, and into the yard, flapping our hands and yelling, "Shoo." All we know is that one day the babies were there and the B-52s were perched on the fence, eyeballing the birdbox hole; the next day the babies were gone and so were the B-52s. You do the math.
Well, that was a depressing story...
The "satsuma bowl" so quickly developed a little fan club, both in "real time" and online, that I thought I would experiment knitting a larger one. As is so often the case when you push your beginner's luck, this one didn't turn out as well but it was still a hoot to knit. The satsuma bowl had a 10-stitch base and 9 stitches picked up on each side; this one has 20-stitch base and 19 stitches picked up on each side. I used Noro Kureyon and, again, size 10 needles. Although for a bowl this size it would be better to use double strands, I used single because double-stranding and then felting the Kureyon would have resulted in muddy colors. The bowl is still recovering from being violently hand-felted so I don't yet have a picture of the finished product, but here is the "before" picture.
(Hey, is it my imagination or is "Kureyon" just Japanese for "crayon?" Or has everyone else already figured this out and I'm just behind the eight ball?)
Dye Garden Dyegest
An update for Ced from the Yahoo natural dyer's group: Ced, the green dye from the purple plum tree leaves failed the light-fastness test miserably. After about 30 hours in the sun, that wonderful bright green had faded to a very ordinary tan. Here's a picture for you with, obviously, the faded yarn on top, the original yarn on the bottom:
Another new blog amie, Amber, recently told me that some neighborhood ne'er-do-wells crushed up some of her indigo leaves and used them to stain the walls of her home. I was absolutely enthralled by the image of 21st-century youths using a 2nd-century technique to make pigment. Anachronism at its finest. But Amber gently brought me back down off my pseudo-intellectual high-horse by reminding me that vandalism is vandalism and that hours of scrubbing are hours of scrubbing. If she weren't so polite, I think she would have said to me, "If you think this is so historically significant, you come scrub my walls!"
I take some satisfaction, at least, in knowing that the culprits left her home having gained an education in fiber culture, natural dyeing, botany and color theory. (What do you mean they didn’t?)
Inspired by, again, Amber and also the Loose Ends blog, and needing to do something different because every single one of my knitting projects is languishing in the Why Did I Start This? pile, I knit and felted a little bowl this weekend, using Cascade 220 and size 10 needles. I knit a 10-stitch-square base, picked up and knit 9 stitches on each side and did a little arbitrary decreasing around the top. I then hand-felted it, stuffed it with paper and left it to dry.
I’m afraid to say K is not impressed. Every time she sees it, she breaks out in a fit of giggles. Unlike with my other projects, she is not saying, "Oooooh, make me one, make me one!"
The bowl with some flowers to give you an idea of its size:
Dye Garden Dyegest – Good News, Bad News
The Good News: The dye garden is being expanded! New bed to the right in the photo below.
The Bad News: We changed our minds.
The Good News: We decided to put a small greenhouse in that area instead!
The Bad News: Greenhouses are mind-numbingly expensive.
The Good News: We found a slightly used 6’ by 10’ cheap greenhouse knockoff for only $155. And it takes only 30 minutes to set up! See this simple frame? And, yes, that is Frankie's fluffy butt in the lower picture.
The Bad news: The manufacturer lied. Three hours, countless swear words, two flushed faces, four exhausted arms, four blistered hands, and one carbide blade later…
The Good News: We like it anyway!
The Bad News: Before we decided to put the greenhouse in, we amended the new bed with compost. The inside of the greenhouse smells intensely, and I mean i-n-t-e-n-s-e-l-y, of cow poo.
95 degree weather. A white-hot, unforgiving sun. A faded-blue cloudless sky. Just enough humidity to make you sweat even when you're sitting still. Parched gardens. Parched people. So how did we keep our cool? With a huge, no-holds-barred squirt gun battle, of course. Nothing was spared. Not hair, not eyeglasses, not shirts, not pants, not socks, not shoes, not the dog, not the inside of the garage, not even the inside of the kitchen. It eventually deteriorated to our just opening up the plugs on the squirt guns and pouring the water on each other's heads.
99 cent stores can be very useful sometimes.
Still plugging away on the Acoma Sock. It's still puckering too much. I'm this close to flinging all of the food from my highchair onto the floor, holding my breath until I turn blue, and lying down and drumming my heels on the floor.
For a break from endless pictures of swatches of yarn, here are some photos of some of the Denizens of the Dye Garden.
Here, one of the sunflowers. Not a single one of the regular sunflowers germinated but we're happy with the six or seven 8' tall beauties of this variety that we did grow successfully. Standing between the 8' tall sunflowers and 7' tall hollyhocks, one feels quite pintsized. But we've also discovered that there is one spot that seems to have a perfect feng shui balance, something which is hard for this stiff-upper-lippish, white, East coast WASP to believe, but it's true. You can quite lose yourself for minutes at a time in that one particular spot.
Here, one of the cosmos. I had grand visions of obtaining a purple or pink dye out of these flowers but when K and I ran a test last weekend, the water just turned yellow, thanks to the dense yellow pollen. Nary a drop of pink appeared, which is really a shame since I have bags and bags of these flowers stored in my freezer. You win some....