Weekend fun

This picture seems abiguous on its own, but it will make sense shortly. Have patience.

A local knitter hosted a Kool-Aid yarn dyeing party last weekend. A bunch of us who live “SOL” (South of the Loop – I just made that up and claim all credit for it) invaded her kitchen and her backyard to purposefully stain our undyed yarn. She was even so good as to coordinate a large order of yarn for us so that we didn’t have to pay shipping. What a good soul! It was her birthday, too!

IMG_3692Kool-Aid is an amazing substance. What genius decided to sell a permanent cloth dye as a child’s drink? That doesn’t seem to make much sense. It makes a great yarn dye, however. It has the added side benefit of smelling delicious! Wet yarn usually stinks, especially wool. The Kool-Aid balanced it out perfectly and made the house smell like a “Lifesavers factory” according to another knitter.

I was shooting for a pinkish-orangey salmon color I’ve been seeing around lately. I didn’t succeed, but I’m really happy with my final product. By adding some extra color after soaking the whole skein, I got some different tones here and there. I think it’s beautiful even if it wasn’t what I envisioned.

IMG_3717After watching the yarn dry for awhile, our host decided to dye more yarn and she talked me into taking an extra sock blank. I told her my comment about wanting to try one had been an empty threat, but she held me to it! Again, it didn’t turn out as I imagined, but I like it a lot. I wish I had better imagination for colors. As you may see in the wide shot below, another knitter made what turned into a sort of tie-dye looking work of art. I’m a little jealous.

Here’s the process we used: first, we soaked the yarn to get it evenly wet. Then we mixed Kool-Aid concentrate (3-6 packets per skein according to our local expert) with about 2 cups of water. The best method of dyeing seemed to be to pour the Kool-Aid into a bowl, then dunk the skein into it to soak up the color more evenly. (I poured the Kool-Aid over my yarn, and that’s why I had to try to cover up white spots.) To get stripes, we used a large syringe a thoughtful knitter brought (you know who you are). She used the syringe to dye her whole skein one color, and that seemed to provide pretty consistent color saturation, too. Many of us rinsed our yarn after it seemed to absorb the color.

To set the color, we tried two processes: we microwaved the yarn for 30 second intervals until the water ran clear (this was met with mixed reviews); secondly, we let it sit in the sun. Mix in sangria and margaritas, and you have a pretty perfect afternoon!



Monkey Pride

I got a package from Blue Moon Fiber Arts the other day. I’ve been wanting to try their Socks That Rock line, so I ordered two skeins of lightweight in Pride. The yarn is sooo soft, and I love the way it’s spun. Touching it for the first time, I knew instantly why people love it so much. The handdyed colors are beautiful, too.

I began knitting it up right away. Cookie A’s design “Monkey” called to me (maybe because every sock knitter in the world has made a pair). It’s a quick knit and a nice pattern (it’ll look better blocked). I am disappointed with how the color has pooled, though. I’m so bad at judging how variegated yarns will look. I was hoping for a nice chunky rainbow, but instead got this mess. I don’t think it looks awful, but it’s not what I wanted.

This is only my second pair of socks (not counting a false start), and I’m realizing that I should swear off the variegated and stick to self-striping, semi-solids or solids. I also think it’s time to learn the two-at-a-time method on circular needles. I love my double-pointed needles, but it would be nice to finish both at the same time. Finishing the first sock feels like such an accomplishment, it’s hard to guard against Second Sock Syndrome!

A Public Response

Stacey asked about LC yarn shops, and I have bad news to report. As far as I know, LC has never had a LYS (local yarn store). Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Wal-Mart and any odds and ends you see in fabric shops are it. If traveling to Beaumont or Lafayette, though, I do have some suggestions. Chain-wise, JoAnns and Hancock fabric stores both have a good selection of Lion Brand usually. But for true LYS goodness, give one of these options a try:

  • The Yarn Nook in Lafayette: Their Web site design doesn’t thrill me (but neither does my own LYS’s site), but their selection looks good. I can’t tell quantities from their list, nor how many types of yarn from each brand they carry, but it’s a good basic selection with some nice additions. I’d say it was definitely worth a shot.
  • Strings and Things in Beaumont: They don’t give an example of their stock online, which is disappointing. Based on the excellent list of classes they offer, though, they could probably support a wide variety of patterns if you were stuck and needed help. The yarn in their photos all look decent quality, but I can’t read labels. I’d say this was worth a shot, too.

There are a variety of online shops you can order from, but it’s always nice to support a local business … and to get to touch and feel the yarn and examine the actual colors before purchasing. Some of the larger online vendors I like are Webs, KnitPicks, Blue Moon Fiber Arts. There are myriad indy yarnies out there, too. You can always check out Etsy for handmade fiber.

These LYS listings brought to you by the good people at KnitMap. Be sure to call ahead before planning a trip to a LYS oustide of your city to confirm location and hours!

No nap

I took the bus downtown this afternoon and knit a bit (finally making some progress on another baby hat), then I wanted to nap (the mid-day commute is LONG since it stops at all of the park and rides). I set my iPod to this week’s edition of “This American Life,” and prepared to relax. Instead, the episode title was “Fear of Sleep” and I actually had to laugh aloud at parts of Act 1. I stifled it for awhile, but I think, “I’m the Hulk” finally elicited a small guffaw. Needless to say, no nap.

In Consideration of Will

 It seems natural for bloggers who share their daily lives and observations to share their annoyances, too. My favorite bloggers do this occassionally, and always deal with their subjects humorously. So far, I’ve tried not to post any of my frequent Andy Rooney-esque rants since I don’t know if I can manage the light tone I admire. I can pretend to tie this one into knitting, though.

Last night, we went to the Houston Shakespeare Festival’s performance of “Julius Caesar.” We brought our folding chairs and politely set up in the chairs-only area. Despite the large “No Cell Phones” and “No Smoking” signs painted on the stage, we were harassed by both problems. The teenagers on one side chatted away, despite one of their mothers shushing them. The party behind us lit up repeatedly and talked straight through the final scene. The family on the other side left after someone finally asked them to quiet their very young (and very loud) children.

I understand that the performances are free, so people don’t feel as invested. And sitting on a lawn, there’s not the formal feeling of a theater. Nonetheless, why are others so inconsiderate of those around them? Why bother coming to a play you’re not interested in?

It reminds me of a discussion on rules that the Yarn Harlot started on her blog. It also made me want to whip out a George Costanza impression: “We’re living in a society here, people!” How should one handle rule-breakers around you, especially when they’re ruining your evening?

After the play, we went to a coffee shop, and watched as a young woman backed her BMW into a Lexus. She nervously noticed us watching, so she went over and checked the bumper, but took off without leaving a note. We sat around our table discussing the various notes we’d leave on the Lexus if we found damage: we could write a note ratting her out, or we could just pretend to be her in the note. Regardless, we delighted in figuring out how to mete out justice. I was glad to find there was no damage, so she acted responsibly enough; but I was a little disappointed I couldn’t help instill some vigilante order.

I did begin a new baby hat. I worked on it while waiting for my friends before the play. I’m knittig it flat based on a pattern I have, but I’m afraid my gauge is horribly off. I’m knitting a smallish newborn size, but the yarn I’m using calls for larger needles than the pattern. I’m hoping it will fit a baby with a good-size melon, but I’m sort of afraid it’s big enough to fit a 1-year-old. I’m going to knit a few more rows, then figure out how the sizing is working out.

End of an era

I try to post every weekend, so where was I this time around? Closing out Baby Shower Season. That’s right, four showers in less than two months. The first of the babies have been born, in fact, and number two will be here any day now. How have I done on my baby knitting? Not so good. I have some hand protectors I need to mail to Austin, and one imperfect hat that I keep changing my mind on (it’s awful, it’s OK, it’s hideous, it’s not so bad). My own poor nephew has only gotten a blanket from me, unlike his big sis who already had a menagerie of animals and a sweater by this point. (Nephew makes the baby count 5, FYI, but he was born too far away for me to visit.)

So, there’s really not much to say in this post. Just mea culpa, I’ll catch up on the knitting and the writing this week!