Archive for the 'State of the Stash' Category


Adventures in Boxing and Dyeing

Thank you very much for the nice anniversary wishes.  The actual anniversary celebrating, however, was decidedly NOT nice.  Not because Mike fell down on the husband job, or because we have babysitting trouble (like we do every year, but I’m not going to go there now or ever, at least not here), but because my son decided it would be a good time to pretend to be Rocky Balboa and lay Apollo Creed, a.k.a. the little girl sitting next to him in art class, out.  Well, not really out.  He didn’t knock her cold, but he did punch her in the face.  I got a very serious phone call from the principal around lunchtime on Friday and it put me in a strange place for the rest of the afternoon.  I swung between frustrated, appalled, horrified, unable to focus, and frankly inept for the rest of the day.  I probably owe my employer money back for my lack of progress that afternoon.

It’s been sorted out.  The little girl teased him about his art page looking bad, and they jawed at each other a bit.  My son got his feelings hurt and was so mad he didn’t know how to handle the eruption of emotions, so he took a swing.  I’m not condoning in any way what he did, but he’s not the swinging away type, typically.  So the little girl provoked him, and while I’m definitely not saying Son shouldn’t be punished, I’m hopeful that the little girl he struck will get a lesson from the teachers about insulting her peers.  I have done all I can to make sure that Son knows if he gets that mad in the future, he’s to tell a teacher or trusted adult instead of taking matters literally into his own hands.  I have also had him write lines (my brilliant way of having him practice his handwriting as well as dealing him punishment) about not hitting; he’s been confined to his room for the last few days; he wasn’t allowed to play in two basketball games; and Friday night’s sleepover was canceled, which is what canceled our anniversary plans.  Being a responsible parent sucks.  But he will also write the girl a letter of apology and his confinement to his room may continue for the rest of the week.  We haven’t decided just yet. 

Have I mentioned a child confined to their room can bring the apocalypse of misery onto a household?  No?  Between the, “I’m thirsty,” or “I have to potty,” stalling tactics, little kids know right where to strike to the heart of the punisher, specifically with this ditty, “Mama, I can’t go to bed without my hug and kiss.”  So I let him out to come downstairs from his room and give him a minute of hugs and kisses.  While I was hugging him, he whispered, “Mama, I’m gonna miss this tonight.”  See, normally, after I get the baby to sleep, I let Son stay up half an hour or so later, so we spend that time in my bed reading a book or snuggling, or I knit while he talks to me.  It’s one of my favorite times of the day.  Lately, we’ve included Daughter in the mix, though she’s still a little firecracker and the supposedly quiet minutes before bedtime often devolve into a trampoline expedition on my bed.  But we’ll get her trained yet.

It’s in the quiet moments though that I take in their smell, their freshly bathed bodies and their pajama clad edibility.  They are great to tickle right now, and while I try to keep from riling them up, a little tickling is good for the soul.  Some hearty giggles do a body good.  But in the wake of the grounding, Son has been instructed that he must put himself to sleep.  He is not to con me into letting him into my bed, and thus, I’m missing the favorite part of my day too.  Am thinking of lifting the moratorium though after tonight, though Mike disagrees with me.

In the meantime, I dyed my first skein of yarn on Saturday.  It did not go as planned, namely because I was over-dying atop an already dyed (yellow) skein and the red I was going for didn’t materialize. It turned out terracotta with little bits of yellow peeking through.  It’s lovely even if it isn’t what I was hoping for.  I will, however, continue to expand my dyeing attempts to hand painting (using squirt bottles to put the dye right where I want it as opposed to submerging the whole skein) or selectively dipping.  But in an effort to document my first attempt (no pictures – sorry, husband took the camera with him and I didn’t think my only option, the camera phone, would work to convey the colors properly) I will spell it out here.

I have Wilton’s icing dyes already from previous cake making adventures, and so I got out the red and mixed it with nearly boiling water on the stove (about a cup and a half).  It wasn’t dark red enough, so I put in a smidge of black and got a nice black cherry color.  Perfect.  I soaked my yarn in cold water and dish soap in the sink and then rinsed it.  I added the dye to the crock pot, added enough water to cover the yarn (though yarn was not yet immersed) and waited for water to cool enough to add yarn.  At room temperature water, I added about a cup of white vinegar (acid for the yarn to soak up the dye) and the yarn and submerged it as best it could.  Turning the crock pot on high, I let it go until the water cleared.  It was about an hour and I went back to find clear water and burnt orange yarn.  Not what I was going for.  So I got some more red, the last of it, and a bit of burgundy and repeated the process.  After another couple hours, I had an orange brick color, much like a sunset.  It was nice.  I rinsed the yarn, rewound it around my fireplace screen, and left it to dry.  The next day, I took the skein off the screen and twisted it into a hank, replacing the original label on it so I’d have the care instructions and put it away.  Now, I have a hankering to try again.  I need some more undyed yarn and some more red dye.  Then I’m all set.


Recruiting the Masses, One Tweet at a Time

Do you talk about knitting and stuff?

I admitted on Twitter the other day that I have a knitting blog.  My name over there is @ShutterBitch and if you’re inclined to follow, I’m pretty uncensored.  I say whatever comes to mind, so that’s my only warning.  Anyway, someone was looking for links to St. Louis blogs and when I sent mine, she admitted that she’d learned to knit just the previous weekend.  I offered her a couple websites, told her to get on Ravelry for some inspiration, and offered to answer any questions.  Then I realized I’m kinda sporadic a poster over here.  I suppose I should rectify that, prove that I do care about this place, and make it my own. So I took pictures of the stash enhancement.



 DSC_0719 by you.

Yarntini Semi Solid Sock, Concord Colorway
DSC_0722 by you. Laceweight 20/80 Angora/Merino, 2300 delicious, delicious yards.
DSC_0724 by you.
Cascade Heritage Solids, Navy.
DSC_0725 by you.
Cherry Tree Hill, Foxy Lady Colorway
There have been small FOs (Finished Objects for the non-knitters)
DSC_0730 by you.
And some nearly finished items.
The Pinwheel Blanket:
DSC_0714 by you.

Sock 1 of Dad’s WhitbysDSC_0737 by you.

And Baby Blanket Square Hell

DSC_0738 by you.

Five down, 20 more to go.

But that laceweight up there is calling my name.  It’s 2300 yards, plenty for two projects, but I’m having a hard time deciding on which to do first.  The two candidates are the Meandering Vines Shawlrav link by you. or the Fountain Pen Shawlrav link by you..  What do you think?  I sort of like the heavier Meandering Vines shawl because I’m not really one to wear traditional triangular shawls.  That one is more scarf-like and also doesn’t appear to be as challenging.  Given that I’ve not knit with lace before, I’m a little skeered by the Fountain Pen Shawl.  However, that’s the one I have needles for, and the Meandering Vines Shawl calls for holding the yarn double.  If I do that then I won’t have enough for the Fountain Pen Shawl and I really want two projects out of the cone.

See the gripping life I lead?  I’m also considering which socks to cast on once the second Whitby is done for my Dad.  My husband needs new wool socks for his work, and what better way to support him (and get him to support my knitting hobby) than to knit him some heavy duty wool socks to keep him warm for when he’s working in a freezer all day?  But boring navy stockinette doesn’t do much for my inner challenge fiend.  So there’s competition for the sock knitting part of my brain.

Wow, it appears that I do have something to say. And that yes, sometimes I do talk about the knitting.


My Knitting Motto

Knit what’s fun.

This was what I told myself as I started project after project, and they were all fun, to start with.  But that wanes as the project slogs on, the blankets become never ending, the scarves knit in the round for double thickness are how long???  And the thought of trying my first sweater is both exciting, daunting, and, well… long.  The things I’ve set aside for projects that I’ve given myself with closer deadlines happen to be the long projects.  I have a scarf and two blankets in hibernation, and an irresistible urge to cast on sock after sock after sock.

What’s wrong with me?

Am I really that easily seduced by the quick finish?  Those ballband dishcloths look enticing to me, and we really could use some.  The cotton for them would be cheap.  I could use another couple of face cloths too, as Mike has used a few of them to clean the bathtub and I really don’t want Comet residue exfoliating my cheeks. 

So what did I do over the weekend?  I finished a pair of socks while watching my husband play mud volleyball and my son go nuts in the gloopy sloppy mud, and … you guessed it… cast on another pair of socks.  These would be the first ones for myself.  It all started last week, when I ordered a yarn I’ve heard good things about, Malabrigo.  I got the shipment in and it was such pretty yarn in such vibrant colors (the colorway is Caribeño) of purple, blue, and green that I spent a good amount of time on Saturday thinking about it as I finished a small pair of socks for Son.  Since I had empty needles, I though what the hell, and rolled up the Malabrigo on Sunday morning.

That’s where things started going south.  The skein was a bit tangled when I unwound it.  No problem, I’m a genius at untangling yarn.  I have more patience for that than I would ever have thought possible, but somehow, unknotting something is soothing to me.  But this skein was really whacked, and it took me a total of an hour and a half to roll it up in a ball.  Finally!  I was ready to start.  I read over the pattern I chose and saw that it fits a size 7.5 foot.  Oh.  Okay, this one means a little math.  I have fat feet that swell up on me.  I wear a size 9 shoe.  I had to modify the numbers if I ever had any hope of wearing these socks.  I’m getting more and more practice with this, and given that I’m an accountant, I can usually muddle through without much trouble, as long as I can figure out the pattern repeat just from reading.  I even swatched for this yarn to get my gauge on size 3 mm needles.  I was just about dead on the gauge recommended.  Only half a stitch more per inch. Should be fine, since I have bigger feet, right?

I used my cell phone calculator function, figured up some numbers, thought, that was easy, and cast on what I needed to cast on.  Short row toe, mm hmm, wrap and turn, okay, knit, purl, knit, going back through the wraps now, voila.  Toe done.  Wow.  This yarn is really pooling.  But the pattern should break that up.  That’s what all the people before me have said, so it’ll be fine.  I started the pattern instep and thought wow, this sock is big.  I tried it on, and if I kept going, then I likely could have gotten both feet in one sock, even my mammoth feet.  I realized that half a stitch bigger in the gauge was to blame.  For every inch, I was getting an extra stitch, which meant that the sock would actually be an inch bigger than I wanted when all was said and done.  No problem.  I frogged and switched to size 2.25 mm needles.  Tried again, but overcompensated for size and knit the exact number of stitches specified in the pattern.  I didn’t get too far before the insanity of that thought occurred to me.  What the hell, Andrea?  Your foot will never be 7.5 inches around and you’re using smaller needles than the pattern calls for, dumbass.  I frogged again.  This time, did the number of stitches I’d previously calculated on the smaller needles thinking that would work.  It was the equivalent of two extra pattern repeats per row.  Last night, after getting farther on the sock than I’d gotten before, I realized it was still huge but moving in the right direction.  With the give of the yarn, I would do well to cut back to only one extra pattern repeat and allow for the ease of the yarn. 

So I found myself frogging again last night, at about 10 pm and hoping I could get cast back on and going again this morning.  I was too tired to do more than rewind the ball and hope the next time would be the last time I cast on.  The yarn is showing signs of wear and I think if I have to frog again, I’ll be cutting off some length and trashing it.  That’s travesty in my book, and so, I double checked my math, cast on this morning, and am hopeful that this time will be the final time I do the beginning of this pair of socks.

 Tell me, are socks really this hard for everybody at the beginning of their knitting lives?  I haven’t even been knitting a year, so I’m wondering if this is simply a learning curve, if I’m destined to cast on five or more times for each pair of socks I start (remember the herringbone socks that took me eight tries before I finally got it?).  And really?  This is fun?

 This is fun.  This is fun.  This is fun.  Maybe I should go back to the boring garter stitch blanket, or the crocheted block blanket, or the ripple blanket that are all languishing in my drawers and shelves of my closet.  At least then I wouldn’t feel guilty for hibernating projects intended for other people.  But I’m realizing I hate crochet and two of those three are crochet.  They’ll take some enduring and a good pep talk before I can get  back to them.

 But my sock knitting clearly needs the practice.  Yeah.  That’s why I’ve cast on sock after sock after sock.  I’m not distracted by the shiny, pretty yarn I find on the web.  I’m bettering my sock knitting skillz.

 Ooh!  Pretty yarn!  I wonder what sock pattern I could do with that…

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