Monday, August 31, 2009

Book and Yarn Exchanges

9-02: 2 spots in each exchange are still open

I have 2 non-chain letters that I'd like to participate in, but I don't want to inflict them on anyone who is not interested. I have had both of these non-chains on hand for much longer than I should. It's time to get them moving.

If you are interested in joining either of these exchanges, e-mail me personally ( ) and I'll get your address. Don't send me your address yet- just in case both fill up quickly. I'm sorry to have to narrow this, but US or Canada only- I can't guarantee that participants down the line will want to deal with overseas shipping.

#1: Paper Back Books- send 1 used paperback to the person whose name and address is on the back of your cover letter (in an envelope, no need for a box or expensive postage). Make 6 copies of the letter, and place an address label of the person who sent the letter to you on the back of each. Make sets of 6 address labels with your name and address on them, and send one set with each of the 6 copies of the letter to 6 interested people.

#2: Sock Yarn Exchange- send 100gr (it says 1 ball, but I assume they want enough to knit a pair of socks, so 2-50gr balls or 1-100) to the person listed at #1 on your cover letter. Make 7 copies of the blank letter (enclosed). Write name #2 from the cover letter in the #1 spot on one copy. Write your name and address in the #2 spot on that same page. Make 5 more copies of that page, and send that and a blank copy along to 6 people.

I never do these things, but these sound like fun. If one or both of these exchanges fill up, I'll ammend this post.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Books and Movies, and Some Plants

I thought I was done with Tudor England for a bit, but a surprise 4th disc to The Six Wives of Henry VIII arrived as I was working on the color band mittens. Since I'd already seen all six unfortunate women, plus Henry's death, I figured the last disc would feature the making of cheap costumes and facial appliances fastened with chewing gum and flour. I was happy to discover that the disc contained the 2003 BBC adaptation of Phillipa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl (with Natascha McElhone, not Scarlett Johansson).

I haven't read the book, but I know the story (or should by now, having wallowed in Tudors for several months straight). I thought the adaptation was really interesting- with both Mary and Anne, speaking directly into the camera, Reality TV Show Style. The costumes were lovely, and the acting very good. I'd never viewed Anne Boleyn's grab for power as sibling rivalry before, but it makes some sense. This is the first version I've seen that gives any credence to the incest angle- I don't know if I buy it or not (most versions portray George as gay), but they played it out credibly. I suppose I'll have to rent the new version now. And read the book.

Yesterday, I continued working on the yellow Graduated Color Band ribbed hat- boy, endless rounds of 2x2 ribbing are boring. But the hat is coming along, and it's a good way to show off that dye style. As I worked, I watched the first two episodes of True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books. I am embarrassed to admit that I have not read the books (since I've met Charlaine, and have several of the books, signed), so the story is new to me (or as new as something that has been talked about a lot in the media can be). I'm loving the production and the story. I especially love the sets and scenery- you can really feel the heat. And I have a special fondness for small town cafes and bars. Whoo doggies, there is a lot of sex... (in other words, enjoy this series after the kiddos go to bed). I can't wait for the next discs to arrive.

I finished reading Rick Riordan's The Sea of Monsters, which was every bit as good as The Lightning Thief. And I have The Titan's Curse lined up next. Unless I decide to read Dead Until Dark first.

And I'll leave you with a couple of pictures that I took on our morning walk: some really tall corn, and milkweed pods. It's a different species than our usual milkweed, but the seeds are the same. Click on the milkweed picture to get the details. I love this shot.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Graduating Class

Earlier this week, I dyed the two colorways of sample yarn for the Graduated Color Band Dyeing class that I'm teaching at SAFF in October, and wound one small ball and the large ball for knitting. The last small hanks (the yarn for the mitten mates), I'm leaving as-is (as-are?) so the class can see what the yarn looks like before it's wound.
Over the last few days, I got the sample mittens knitted up (adult size- pattern will be included in the workshop handout). The color divisions are nicely delineated, and though there's not a lot of yarn left from each 50gr ball, there is some (larger mittens could be made by shortening the cuff- I just like 'em long). Of course, you could knit a smaller size, but unless you dyed shorter color sections, you'd end up with mittens that shade from one color to one slightly darker color, and not the whole range.

I'm also knitting sample hats from the larger balls. These will be simple ribbed-cuffed hats, which should show off the color changes nicely. 100gr is plenty for a hat in this style (pattern will be included in the handout also).

Next week, I'll get the handouts updated and ready to print. Next up, the All-Day Fair Isle class samples and handouts. I'm teaching that workshop at NCFF in September,as well.

Oh- and look at this adorable little sock project bag that I got from Ravelry. Cool, no?

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Field Report

Awhile back, I heard one of the Knitterati say, in a radio interview, that she felt "sorry for those living in the Midwest, with all that boring flat."

I thought to myself, Honey, if you can't see the beauty here, you don't deserve to.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Tab- Mystery Set- Solved Whitman Tini Mods

I have no idea who these girls are, or who published this set (or even if all of the clothes go with these dolls). My guess is that they're from the late 60's.

Anyone recognize these paper dolls?
Added: Mystery Solved. These are Whitman Tiny Mods, from 1968. Thanks to Linda and Elizabeth for the information, and the cover scan.
I'm missing 3 of the dolls, apparently. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not sure these actual dolls are in my collection. I may have gotten these scans from someone else, which accounts for my not knowing anything at all about them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Addi Turbo Commercial

It's a hoot, though it would be even better if the guys looked like they were actually knitting.

I'm dyein' down here

Yesterday afternoon, I dyed the samples for the Graduated Color Band Dyeing Workshop that I'm teaching at SAFF (as always- link to the right of this page). This process was developed for my book, Yarns to Dye For, which was published by Interweave a few years ago, and then promptly disappeared from this dimension. I don't know how many copies sold, but it wasn't many (I don't think it even went into a second printing).

The technique involves dyeing yarn Noro-Style, with colors that gradually change throughout the ball. It's fun, but it's also wet and messy, and if you want to make mittens (or sleeves, or socks, or anything involving pairs), you have to wind 2 separate balls of yarn and dye them at the same time. For my class samples, I dyed 2 mitten balls and 1 hat ball (2-220 yd skeins of worsted weight yarn, total), in each of the two colorways that will be offerred: purple/green/blue and yellow/brown/orange. Again, I was very pleased with how well the dye struck (and stayed) using citric acid rather than vinegar. The colors are lovely, with absolutely no bleeding in the rinse, and my house does not smell like a pickle factory that has been invaded by wet sheep.

I plan to knit sample mittens today, and then get to work on both of the dye class handouts. Students will have the option of dyeing their yarn (provided) in one large ball for a hat, or in 2 smaller balls for mittens. Patterns for both will also be included.

The pictures show the progress, as the yarn balls are dyed, with the yarn totally dyed and sitting in rinse water (note the strand of yarn hanging outside the buckets- that's really important...), re-skeined (that's the wet part), and drying.

October will be here before we know it. I am so excited.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Spiral Dye Workshop Samples

These are the colorway/style choices (and the actual samples) for the Spiral Dyeing Workshop that I'll be teaching at SAFF, in NC in October. The technique is taken from The Big Book of Socks (link to the right). The colorways that students can choose from are: Patriotic (though the Country Classics Tomato Red dye came out pink), and Watermelon. The dye styles are- Spotty Spirals, and Wide Spirals.

It's a fun process and I love how the socks came out. For those considering the class, all of the materials, including dye and yarn, are provided (fee + materials are combined in the SAFF registration) (SAFF link to the right). The handout will also include a simple sock pattern (short-row heels are best with this kind of self-patterning yarn, though an afterthought heel would also work very well. A traditional gusset/flap construction changes the stitch count enough that the colors pool. If you like pooling, it's not a problem, but I prefer consistent striping throughout my socks).

Today, I'm going to dye the samples for the Graduated Color Band Dyeing Workshop. Lots of wet, color-y fun ahead!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Those Darn Socks

I've spent free moments in the last two weeks, darning holes in handknit socks. I think I fixed 17 pairs (I lost count somewhere around twelve). Some of those socks have been out of rotation for over a year, so it's nice to have them back in the mix. I've gone through the rest of my socks, and found 6 more pairs with thin spots that need reinforcing (heels, toes, balls of feet- I went through a serious Self Striping phase, as you can see). Thanks again, Merike Saarniit, for teaching me a quick and efficient way to fix my socks.

When I started seriously knitting socks, I probably made a dozen pairs before I could bring myself to give any away (back in those days, I was shocked to spend $16 for sock yarn... had I but known...). These days, I keep very few new socks (the exception being the 4 pairs I knit for the Sock Summit)- my Sock Gifting List is longer than I can keep up with, no matter how fast I knit (and some days, I can knit pretty fast).

Even so, I was surprised to discover that have 41 pairs of handknit socks (8 pairs from handspun yarn)! Of all of the socks I've made, I've only lost 1 sock (and I still have the mate, just in case I find it again, though it's been 5 years since the first went missing), and have only thrown one pair away (because it was knit with totally unsuitable yarn, which grew holes the moment I put them on my feet). Otherwise, every pair of socks I've knit for myself, I still wear- some of them are nine years old and still going strong. Now, many have had multiple repairs, but until the feet blow totally, I'll keep fixing them.
And when they finally do wear out, I'll probably cut the cuffs off and knit new feet.

Handknit socks are forever.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Books and Movies and Hungry Deer

I've been reading a bit lately. I finished Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief, which I started a year ago with Voracious Reader. She took the book with her when she moved [insert mopey Grandma here], so I bought another copy and carted it to the Sock Summit, and read most of it on the flight home because I was squished between other passengers and too tired to knit.

I really enjoyed the book- it's not quite Harry Potter, but it's much better than The Spiderwick Chronicles (which did not have even one likeable character, and milked you $8 for essentially 40 pages of text in each book, and at the end, did not resolve- or even address- the conflict between the kids and their absent father) (VR loved the books, however, and I was happy to read them with her even if I didn't actually enjoy the stories). Percy Jackson is not only a believable hero, he's immensely likeable, as are his cohorts, Annabeth and Grover the Satyr. I've begun Book 2 in the series, The Sea of Monsters, and it's equally good. One nice thing about coming into a series late, is that I can read them all quickly (and then send them to VR when I finish).

On a whim, I picked up Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. I may be the last person in the country to read the book, but it sucked me in. I gulped it down in one day (something I never do any more). Now that I'm finished, I'm not entirely sure what to think about the story- I suspect that the the whole does not add up to the sum of its parts, but I was definitely fascinated with poor, dead Susie Salmon and her family. I will be curious to see the movie (on DVD- it's not worth a 100 mile round trip to see in a theater).

Speaking of DVDs, I'm winding down myTudor Obsession with The Six Wives of Henry VIII. This is the 1970 BBC version, with each wife getting 90 minutes for her story (which is not enough for Anne Boleyn, and too much for Anne of Cleves). This version of Henry looks more like the Henry we know and love/loathe (as opposed to Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Henry The VI-Pack Abs), but he comes off as an oaf and a simpleton. The wives don't fare a whole lot better, and politics are totally absent until Anne of Cleves (who would probably have made him a good wife and had healthy children, if they'd liked each other).

I know this was the '70's but the production values are awful- you can actually see the seams on the rubber face wrinkle applications and bald-head caps. While the clothes resemble those in the famous paintings, they're obviously made with modern (and very light) fabrics (old clothes were heavy), the trims look like they came from JoAnn's, and you can see machine seams here and there. I don't know what kind of embroidery hoops they used in Tudor England, but I am pretty sure that they didn't look exactly like the ones I used to buy at Ben Franklin.

The acting is not a whole lot better. I laughed out loud when Jane Seymour's chest rose and fell as Henry cried over her dead body.

The different versions of this story have been fascinating, but two things are consistent: Thomas Cromwell was a toad, and Archbishop Cranmer was a worm (though my friend Ann assures me that Cranmer found his spine eventually). I guess there are three consistencies: families continued to throw their daughters at The King, despite his track record.

And on that note, we segue artfully to apples. And the deer which were nibbling on them early this morning. I snapped this picture through the screened bedroom window without a flash, which accounts for the fuzziness (Mother Nature is responsible for the fog). The deer caught my movement and bolted, but I'm glad they got an early morning treat.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Field Report, More Bragging and More Appearances

It hasn't been hot this week, in fact I had to turn the pool heater on in order to swim laps, but the soybean pods are starting to fill out anyway. The plants are about waist high on me (I tried to get my foot in one shot for a little perspective). The grasshoppers haven't been too terrible yet, so the leaves are in pretty good shape.

I've been shamelessly bragging lately, and there seems to be no reason to stop now.
My self-striping, handspun socks are featured in Interweave's All New Homespun Handknit ( )! I haven't seen the book itself yet, but my copy should arrive any day. The promo pictures sure are pretty, and my socks turned out exactly as I envisioned them (you'd be surprised how rarely that happens in designing). BTW, I got the roving from Decadent Fibers (link in Stash Enhancers).

My calendar is filling up with September and October appearances for The Big Book of Sock Knitting (which is popping up in stores all over). On Saturday, October 3, I'll be signing/yakking/knitting at the NDSU Bookstore in Fargo, ND, from 11:00am-1:00pm, and then again at Prairie Yarns, also in Fargo, from 2:00pm-5:00pm. I really enjoyed my last visit to both of these stores and am very much looking forward to the next one.

And just for pretty- here are some rocks along the railroad tracks in front of my house.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Tab- Whitman Daisy, #1943

It's as though Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobbie, Laura Ingalls, and The Ginghams all got together and had a child.
added later: My paper doll friend Sally found another page to this set. You can see it here:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Workshop prep, a nice surprise, and more BBoS previews

While I wait for the next step in the Huge Freaking Project With The Terrifying Deadline, I've been doing more prep work for my workshops at SAFF in October (I'm teaching 5 different classes, 2 of them brand new). Today I will order yarn for the two dyeing workshops, and I'll wind a sample skein of the Patriotic and the Watermelon Spiral Dyed Yarn colorways for class samples, and begin knitting the sample socks for display. The nice thing is once I finish those socks, I can set them aside for future workshops- this particular prep work is forever. I need to revamp the handout a bit, but not a whole lot. I also have a list of supplies that I need to buy and ship to NC before the end of October (I'm not going to fly with all of that stuff and take a chance on the airline losing the luggage. I'll send it early- that way if it disappears, I'll have time to order more).

Anyway, I got a nice surprise as I was checking the Fall 2009 Knit Picks catalog for dyeable workshop yarn- they revamped my Palette Fair Isle Cardigan pattern with the new colors in their Palette line. The pattern is available again, with the new colorway- link to Knit Picks in Stash Enhancers.

And since I'm bragging, here's another sneak peek from The Big Book of Socks. This is a worsted weight sock with a garter stitch lace cuff from Chapter 5.