Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday v.25

I'm SO on the ball this week that I'm actually posting my WIPW entry early.  Apparently, miracles do still happen.  Unfortunately, none of them are happening in the area of my current knitting progress, but hey... I'll take 'em wherever I can get 'em.

And so.  First up:  MITTENS! 

Mitten #2 is coming along.  As you might expect, it's much easier to navigate this time now that I have one under my belt.  I knocked round 33 out while I waited at the car wash this afternoon -- only 60 more to go, plus one thumb.  I'm hoping to wear them this weekend, but not exactly holding my breath.

I also managed a bit of progress on the cable lace vest (about to be re-dubbed:  The Vest That Wouldn't Die).  I'm almost to the armholes now, and I swear it'll start looking different soon.  I hope...

This shot is much closer to true color than the others.  Turns out the lighting is better at Mr. Right's house.  Who knew?  Anyway, this is what the mittens and vest really look like.  Previous pics have been a bit off.  Some day the sun will stay up past 5 o'clock and I'll actually be able to take decent pictures again.  At least, that's what they tell me.

Don't forget to head over to Tami's blog and check out all the other WIPW progress!  There's a metric ton of it these days -- and it's super fun to see what everyone's working on. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yee Haw!

January is rodeo time around these parts, when the National Western Stock Show rolls into town, and this year Mr. Right and I decided it was finally time to check it out.  And so last Sunday, we bought our rodeo tickets and headed out.  It was quite an experience. 

We wandered around the livestock pens, where the cows lounged about waiting for their moments in the spotlight...
And the bulls (this one was bigger than my car) got brushed and fluffed...
...before the big auction.  We watched the auction for a while as the bidding soared upwards of $10,000.  And while we were watching, I realized they weren't selling bulls for $10,000, they were, stuff to make little bulls for $10,000 a vial.  Clearly I'm in the wrong business.  Right then.  Anyway...

After that, we stumbled on Roy Rogers' old car.  Awesome.
More wandering landed us here:
Even awesomer. 

And where there are giant piles of soft, freshly-shorn wool, it follows that there are lots (and lots) of newly naked sheep...

And they weren't too happy about it, either.

Before we knew it, it was time for the rodeo to start so we headed off to find the arena and our seats.  The Westernaires performed, which was a little bit mind boggling to watch. 

There was also "Mutton Bustin'", wherein parents plant their small children on the backs of freaked out sheep and see how long they can hold on.  Most of them make it about 6 feet, but this little girl rode - in this position - almost all the way down the length of the arena. 

In the end, all of the sheep were safe and sound and all of the kids (also safe and sound) went home with trophies that were just a hair taller than they were.

All sorts of rodeo-type-stuff followed, and all of it was fun to watch. The bronco riding was pretty impressive.  My favorite part is when they're getting ready to open the gate. There's so much excitement in the air.  Is that weird?

And once they do, look out...
The grand finale of the night is always bull riding.  Crazy. 

All in all, we had a great time.  It's definitely a lifestyle that's totally alien to me, but it's nice to visit.  If you're ever in Colorado when the show's on, go check it out.

Friday, January 21, 2011

FO Friday -- Teensy Weensy Edition

It's always so exciting when I have something to share on FO Friday.  You'd think it would motivate me to knit smallish things all the time, like coin purses and book marks and whatnot.  For the moment though, I think I'll stick to knitting tiny baby hats for Sudden Expression's Preemie hat drive.  They're SO stinking cute.  Seriously...

Told you so.  Forgive the few wonky stitches at the bottom.  It could use a bit of blocking, but I only just wove the ends in a minute ago...  And, if there's a particularly teeny baby in need of a warm noggin, it has a foldable brim feature!  Like so:

 ...and which is especially squee-inducing when it's fluffed up.  I might die of the cute.

For this hat, I used this pattern, which has been knit a whole lotta times by folks on Ravelry.  And I used these modifications, which I love.  If you're not a raveler, you can see them on annypurl's (not-so-up-to-date) blog here.  The yarn?  Some super soft purple stuff I grabbed out of the free box when I worked at Klutz.  I have not idea what it is, but I like it.  This used up the rest of it, so it totally counts as a destash.  Right?  Not that I'm counting or anything...

And now I'm off to celebrate the weekend.  Yay, weekend!  Hope y'all enjoy yours, too!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday v.24

Welcome to the WIPW that almost wasn't!  It's snowing around these parts this evening and my 45 minute commute took just about 2.5 hours this afternoon.  I was beginning to think I might make it home in time for FO Friday.  But I'm here!  And I've got a big pile of projects (still!) in the hopper!

There's not been much knitting going on lately.  We went to the rodeo this weekend!  The National Western Stock Show is in town, and we've been meaning to go check it out since we moved here.  Big fun.  But that's a whole other blog post.  Last night?  Hockey game!  Mr. Right's company has a box at the Pepsi Center and we got free tickets to the Avalanche game.  They're not the Sharks, but they'll do in a pinch.  More big fun.

All that to explain the sad lack of progress going on over here.  But here's where we are...

The baby hat for Sudden Expression's Preemie Hat Drive is coming along.  Just the decreases to go, and then I'm gonna whip out another one.  You should, too.

The cable lace vest is still creeping along, too.  I tried hard to make some progress at lunch today, but my brain was on a thousand different things, and one of the ladies in my lunch time knitting group is redoing her kitchen, and the net result of an hour's knitting was that I ended up in the exact same place as I started.  Sigh. It doesn't look much different than it did last week, so you get the arty macro shot this time (for a little variety).   I'm really hoping I'll be able to wear this while it's still cool enough.  The race is on!

And finally, MITTENS!  I finished mitten #1, and got the cuff going on #2.  I don't want to give too much away, so here's mitten #1 inside out along with the beginnings of #2.  I am 100% in love with these, they're so warm and squishy and cozy.  I can't wait to get the 2nd one finished.  I'm pretty sure once I get them on I'll take them off some time around April.

That's it for me this week.  Hopefully I'll be able to get something off the needles in time to share with y'all on Friday.  Fingers crossed!

Oh, and in case you missed it -- My misadventures in yarn dyeing have taken a turn for the better.  You can catch up on the riveting saga here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oops! I Dyed it Again

Apparently, I've sunk to punny new lows in the search for compelling post titles.  Sorry.

Anyway... Thank you SO much for all of the kind words about my freshly dyed yarn, and the loads of expert advice, too.  Seriously.  Go read the comments on this post if you're thinking about dyeing yarn for the first time.  They're a gold mine.  I decided to go ahead and try to re-dye this yarn and see if I like the results better.  It's not terrible as it is, but in real life, it's sort of... well, meat-colored.  I've dubbed it Beef Yarn.  Not quite the look I was going for. 

For this round, I've decided to follow Mimi's instructions.  Because when you get down to it, Mimi is freaking brilliant when it comes to color.  Have you seen this woman's blog, or her designs?  Gorgeous.
And so, I filled the sink with cold water and a tiny bit of detergent.  Like so...

Then grabbed the Beef Yarn and gave it a good dunk. 

While it soaked, I ran to the store to grab these...

And also this.  Because, a little caffeine never hurts.  Plus which, I'm addict.

So I rinsed and wrung out the yarn as best I could.  You'll have to trust me on this point, as Mr. Right was out doing Very Important Truck Things, and I didn't have an extra hand to hold the camera.

Then I mixed up some purple-y dye using Wilton's Violet...

...and dumped it into the cold crock pot that was 3/4 filled with cold water and about 1/3 cup of vinegar.  Then I saw that the water was a pale purple-y blue, so I mixed up some more violet with a bit of water and dumped that in as well.  Very scientific stuff, this.

I took the freshly Tide-d and rinsed Beef Yarn and dunked it into its new pretty violet bath and squished it around with my new gloves.  That part was probably more fun than it should've been.

All that was left was to turn on the crock pot and wander off to grab some lunch and knit my mitten for an
hour.  I love Saturdays.

This time the dye didn't exhaust after an hour and a half, but I chalked it up to being the 2nd pass, and also using a metric ton of violet dye. I grabbed my trusty salad tongs and plucked the yarn out of its bath so I could hang it to dry.  Goodbye Beef Yarn, hello Psychedelic Purple!  Again, what came out of the ooze was absolutely not what I expected, but this time I LOVE it.

Even when it's soggy and drippy and not looking its best.

But check out what I ended up with when all was said and done.  A skein of this:

And a skein of this:

Both of which are much prettier in person than in these photos.  So awesome!  One more question, though... if the dye didn't exhaust, and the skeins dripped a bit of blue water while they dried, do I have to worry about the dye rubbing off when I work with it, or wear something made with it, or bleeding when I block it?  If so, is there any way to help set it?  Inquiring minds, and all that.

And then, after I cleaned up my mess and bundled up my new yarn, I went to the store and bought this:

Stay tuned for Part III -- Kool Aid's Revenge!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vintage Family Photos

I think I mentioned last week that, just before Christmas, in a mad frenzy to find my roll of plaid ribbon, I unearthed 2 more boxes of ancient family photos that I had forgotten about and have been safely stowed in the craft room closet since we moved here from California.

Looking through them, it seems as though the bulk of these belonged to my great grandmother, aka Nana.  I have no idea who the majority of the folks are in these pictures, but many of them were taken between the turn of the century and the late 1920s.  And they are super cool.  So I thought I'd share a couple today, just for fun, and link up to the Sepia Saturday group - who you should totally check out if antique photos are your thing.  Just saying.

Anyway, I LOVE the tricycles in this one, and the showdown that seems to be going on.  I wonder who won?

I don't recognize any of the folks in this other picture, either, but the clothing is all kinds of awesome.  I love the "beach" attire...

Seriously fun.  If I find out who any of these folks are, I'll speak up.  For the moment, I'm going to wade back into the piles and see what other treasures are lurking.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

FO Friday - Yay!

Yippee!  I love it when I get to play along with FO Friday.  It makes me feel all warm and squishy and accomplished inside.  Awesome. The BIG project I tackled this week is my first yarn dyeing.  Yay, me!  And, lucky for you, I took pictures all the way.  Here's how it all went down...

First, I went out and bought some cheap wool yarn, which seemed like the best choice for experimental work. 

This stuff was super soft and squishy, and maybe not the best choice for dyeing since it's not plied, but who knows?  Not me, that's for sure.

Once I had the yarn, I pulled out all of my wilton food coloring bottles.  Oooh!  Pretty colors.  It was ridiculously hard to choose.
After much deliberation (sometimes known as waffling), I settled on red, and we were off to the races. 

First, I used my super fancy swift to un-skein (de-skein?) the yarn while Mr. Right warmed himself in front of the fire.  (Did I mention that the temperature here for the last few days has been hovering in the single digits? Brrrrrrr)
And it didn't turn out half bad...

After I unwound and tied skein #2 in the same way, I dumped them into the crock pot...
Disclaimer:  I did not actually heat the crock on the stove as pictured, it's just that the lighting is better here.  Promise.  I filled the crock with water and left it in the croco pot to heat up while I mixed up the dye.  Since I was doing 2 skeins, I dissolved about 1 teaspoon of food coloring in 2 cups of water. 
Don't mind the chunks at the bottom, I finished mixing everything up after the photo.  It was pretty, but a little lighter than I wanted.   So I added a bit (maybe 1/4 teaspoon) of purple...
And... it turned black.  Oops.  Ah well.  Might as well carry on.  That's what experimenting is all about, right?  Once the yarn was up to temperature and smelling for all the world like stinky, wet sheep, I poured the dye into the pot. 

I had to remind myself every 30 seconds or so not to stir since I wasn't using superwash wool (Don't be a cheapskate like me -- superwash is a really good idea when you're a beginning dyer).  But I sat on my hands and left it to percolate for an hour.

After an hour, I checked the water, saw that it was still bright red, then freaked out, having realized that I forgot to add the vinegar and convincing myself that surely everything was ruined.  No pictures of the freak out, but I did add the vinegar and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so.

Miraculously, the water was completely clear the next time I checked my yarn soup so I hauled the crock into the laundry room, and using my salad tongs, hung it over the laundry sink to dry.  Like so...
A couple of days later, I had a skein of yarn that looked like this:
And a second one that looked like this:

So now the conundrum... This is TOTALLY not what I had in mind.  The color is closest to the laundry room picture up there, but I was hoping for a slightly more uniform look and a deep, dark red color.  I don't hate it, I don't think, but I'm not sure it's something I'd use.

This is the part where y'all chime in and tell me what to do.  Do I stick it back into the pot?  Do I try again with some other yarn in some other color?  Advice, opinions, random votes and cookies are all welcome. (What?  When are cookies not welcome?)

And once you've solved all my problems, go check out the rest of the FO Friday posts and see what everyone else is up to.  It'll be fun.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday v.23

Happy Wednesday, y'all!  Once again, I'm amazed at how slow my progress has been this week.  I can't seem to find any knitting time lately.  Clearly, my priorities are not in order.  Must work on rearranging them. 

If you've been reading here for any length of time at all, you'll know that I'm a pretty monogamous knitter.  I really like to finish one thing before I start something else.  Otherwise, I get a little twitchy.  I've gotten a bit better (worse?) lately though, and have had 2 projects going for a while now.  I'm happy to report that this week, I have 3 (!) projects on the needles.  Huzzah!

In no particular order, here's what's percolating around these parts today...

Chevalier mittens are still trucking along.  I got really excited to finish mitten #1 on my lunch hour yesterday, and I was chatting, and knitting furiously, and I totally mucked up the decreases.  I was off by two stitches at the end of a round, so I tinked back a round and found myself off by 4.  Sigh.  I'm hoping to get it fixed today, because it's thisclose to being done.  So close, in fact, that you only get a picture of the palm side this week so as not to spoil the "ooh!  ahh!" factor when they make their debut on FO Friday (but likely not this FO Friday).

I made a little more headway on the cable lace vest this week, too.  I'm working the bust increases now, and kind of stuck since the instructions of where to make the increases don't match the instructions for where to work the increased stitches.  Hmmph.  Trying now to decide how to move the increases around so that it all makes sense and the vest winds up having boobs in roughly the same place I do.  We'll see.

Finally, I was catching up on reading all of the (tons of!) WIPW posts last week, and ended up visiting Sudden Expression, a cute blog that Laura writes and that I keep forgetting to subscribe to.  Anyway, she's coordinating a preemie hat knitting project in memory of her two nieces who were born way too early last year.  You can read all about it here.  And here's thethread on Ravelry, if you're a raveler, where there's loads more information and also links to super cute patterns.  Personally, I picked this one, a modified version of this pattern

Go check it out, and then knit a hat or two.  It'll just take a minute because, hello?  TINY.  These things are eensy.  And cute.  And fast.  And for you Yarn Diet-ers out there, I'm thinking this would be an outstanding way to use up some stash and do a good deed in the process.  Bonus!

S'all I got for today.  But come back on Friday for Misadventures in Yarn Dyeing.  Whee!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mystery Monday

I've been way behind in my blogging lately.  And I've been even more behind in sharing stories about my crazy family history.  But I'm aiming to get back on the wagon this week.  I miss you guys!

Sharing the family stuff was no problem early on.  I had a list of crazy mysteries that I'd unearthed, could lay out and work on.  Easy enough.  But digging deeper, it gets harder to come up with answers.  Plus which, it can be a bit emotional.

So I took a little break.  And now I'm back to working on family stories, and digging through pictures.  I'm happy to report that I have one tiny mystery solved!

It's this guy.

I have, scattered through 6 boxes of loose photos and a dozen old albums, approximately 18 (but who's counting?) grainy copies of this picture of this handsome guy in his uniform.  I knew the vintage was WWII, but didn't recognize him.  And not a single one of these pictures had anything written on the back.  My cousin (actually, she's my grandmother's cousi n - Hi Shari!) didn't recognize him either.  Into the unknown pile for him...

Fast forward to a few days before Christmas when I, in a desperate search for some plaid ribbon, pulled two huge boxes down from the corner of the craft room closet.  Inside?  One zillion loose pictures that I'd forgotten about, dating back to the late 1800s.  Yikes.  I'd forgotten about them.  Also inside?  3 more copies of this infamous picture.  And... written on the back of one:  Donald.  I'm pleased to introduce you to my uncle Donald, my grandmother's little brother.  And a great big thanks to my Nana (my great grandmother) for taking 2 seconds to jot it down.  Yay!

Here's Donald in his younger days, with my very lovely grandma...

All that to say, I'm working away on figuring out the family again, and promise to share a bit more often.  You know, in between cabling rows on my mittens.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Work In Progress Wednesday v.22

Wednesday again?  Already?  You wouldn't know it from the state of my knitting, which looks sadly similar to the way it did last week.  Mr. Right has been working all kinds of cuckoo hours (16 or so a day during our vacation - boo!), and it's kind of thrown me for a loop, schedule-wise. 

Anyway, I've made some good progress on Chevalier Mitten #1 this week.
All was well until I figured out that I fumbled the thumb hole.  Sigh.  I have to rip out about 6 rounds of what you see here and fix it.  Still learning about the whole chart business, definitely the hard way this time.  Ah well.  Don't be too surprised if I show up next Wednesday being all pleased with my progress and showing you a picture that looks remarkably like this.  It'll mean that I've gone twelve rows counting the backward and forward progress.

Faced with a boo boo at some point in the far back reaches of my knitting, I did what any self-respecting knitter would do.  I reached into my knitting bag and dug around until I found something else to work on.  Yep, the cable lace vest is back, but just barely.  I had an hour to work in it at lunch today, but only managed a few rows since it took me about 30 minutes to find my place in the pattern.  It's been a   l o n g time since I've worked on it.  If you peer closely at the middle, you'll see an inch or so of virgin knitting territory.  Feel free to Ooh and Aah.
I promise it'll look different next week.  Really.  But not for a while, as Mr. Right is taking me out to dinner. Yay!

For more (lots and lots more this week) crafty goodness, head over to Tami's blog and see what all the other WIPW-ers are up to!