November 30, 2006

Circle of socks

I pushed it to practically the last minute (luckily I don't have to go to work tomorrow), but I finished the second tiger sock just in time. So here are my socky accomplishments for November.

The circle above includes one pair of Opal Rainforest in Tiger, one pair of Opal Rainforest in Flamingo, one pair of Opal Rainforest in Zebra, and one pair of mystery yarn that I am 99% sure is Opal, in varying stripes of brown.

Posted by Jenipurr at 11:15 AM | Comments (5)

November 25, 2006

Feeling tropical

I had all of this week off, which meant that in between Thanksgiving, reorganizing my home office (and shredding a small ton of old paperwork), and being sick with some kind of nasty winter virus, I snuck in plenty of time to knit. Tuesday I even finished off the pineapple hat and dropped it off at Knitters' Playground. I think it turned out pretty cute, although that stem on the top took just about as long to knit as the rest of the hat put together. I made the smallest size, which took slightly less than one skein of the yellow and slightly more than one skein of the green (in Lopi Light wool).

I also dropped off the stubborn hedgehog (yes, that is him modeling the hat in the picture above), so that he could be passed along to a woman who happens to own the mighty washing machine of doom, capable of felting nearly *anything*, including recalcitrant hedgehogs.

Aside from the hat, however, it's been all Opal Rainforest socks around here. The second Zebra sock is done, and when I went looking for the Tiger sock yarn, I stumbled upon a ball of unlabeled sock yarn that looks suspiciously like Opal, and which turned out to produce socks with stripes of varying widths in several shades of brown and cream such that I have dubbed them, for lack of any other type of identification, Chocolate Layer socks, and I am now making good headway into the Tiger socks, with the goal of finishing them by the end of the month, thus freeing up my knitting attention span to focus solely on lace - first the shawl that I am supposed to be making for my little sister's Christmas present, and then another sample for the shop - a little lace scarf out of some bright red Cotton Fine.

And in the meantime, I just got an email saying that there is a certain hedgehog, still a bit damp, slightly smaller than when I dropped him off and probably feeling a bit put out at having been felted despite his best efforts, waiting for me to pick him up and bring him home and stuff him and give him a face and then wrap him up and ship him off as a Christmas present for someone who will hopefully think he is quite adorable and who never has to know that he has a bit of a stubborn streak, what with the extreme resistance to felting and all.

Posted by Jenipurr at 07:59 PM | Comments (1)

November 20, 2006

Just a little bit longer

Pictures of the formly unfeltable hedgehog will have to wait just a little bit longer. I have decided to try one last thing to see if I can't felt it just a bit more (my goal is significantly less stitch definition). After this try, however, that's it. Whatever stage of felting (or semi-felting) he's at, that's it!

In the meantime, however, the sock needles have been flying. The Opal Rainforest Flamingo socks are finished, and I have already churned out one Opal Rainforest Zebra sock, with the other to be cast on later tonight (probably while watching Heroes, which has become one of our very favorite new shows). My goal was to get the Flamingos, the Zebras and the Tigers done before the end of the month, just to see if I can manage it (along with everything else), because I am really trying to make a serious dent in my yarn stash - especially my sock yarn stash, and so working my way through three skeins of Opal sock yarn will definitely make some much-needed room in the sock yarn bins (the reason I need the extra room will be obvious later on).

In between flying sock needles, I've also been hard at work on a sample piece for Knitters's Playground - a child's pineapple hat (the Fiber Trends pattern). This is a deceptively complicated little project, since it requires three separate sizes of needles, and has far more little parts to it than you might think a hat should have. But it's turning out very cute, and even though this is the sort of pattern that is really keeping me on my toes, I'm having a lot of fun with it.

In other news, a bag arrived today from Knit Picks, with three skeins of their Bare Worsted Weight Merino feltable wool. There are two nephews and a niece who are going to get to help me 'make' their Christmas presents - Kool-aid dyed, felt-to-fit slippers, and I needed to make sure I had some dyable, feltable wool in hand before I see them at Thanksgiving.

As for the reason I'm trying to make room in my sock yarn stash? Well, Knit Picks does offer free shipping but only if you have a minimum of $40 in your order, and I've been wanting to get my hands on some solid color yarn to try some stitch patterns, and Richard really liked some of the colors, so this is all to explain why sock yarn stash suddenly grew by enough yarn to make two more pairs for him and one more pair for me. Or rather, it didn't grow, if we're going to be completely technical about this, because the three pairs of socks I'm determined to finish before the end of the month have simply been replaced by three more pairs worth of yarn, so as long as it all works out to no net increase, it's all good.

Posted by Jenipurr at 04:22 PM | Comments (3)

November 14, 2006

Third (fourth? tenth?) time's the charm, apparently

I finished up my new Fuzzy Feet last night and decided this morning to toss them into the washer, with my old sneakers and a selection of towels that needed to be cleaned. This magic combination of items (with hot water, lowest setting of water level, and a little soap) felted the slippers beautifully, so much so that I decided to give that pesky hedgehog one more try, and after I'd extracted my (very soggy) slippers from the washing machine, i left all the other items in, added a little more soap, and tossed in the Hedgehog That Would Not Felt.

Two times through and what do you know? Ladies and gentlemen, we have felting! Yes, pictures are forthcoming (once he's dried and I have sewn on some eyes and a nose, because right now he looks a little odd with no face). There is still some stitch definition, so I am tempted to try running him through once more, just on the off chance that the magic hasn't worn off, but the important thing is that, visible stitch definition or not, he felted. Finally.

(Amusingly, if he still hadn't felted, there was talk of setting him up at the new yarn store as a challenge - Felt the Hedgehog, Win a Prize)

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:29 AM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2006

Up and coming

Do you know what is better than having a friend with a yarn store in her house?

Having that friend join forces with another friend who has decided to open a brand new yarn store in an actual brick and mortar location.

Those of you in and around Davis, California, mark November 15th on your calendars, because that is the day that The Knitters Playground has its grand opening. And everything I've seen so far suggests that this place is going to be awesome.

A bunch of us in the area have been going in to lend a hand over the past week or so to help them get everything set up, and yesterday I got my chance to check out the new space, and to also help out in whatever they needed me to do. So while we sipped coffee drinks and chatted, I labeled a huge pile of gorgeous alpaca fingering weight and sportweight yarn. And then while another friend dropped by with her husband, to discuss the additional storage units he's building for them, I inventoried five notebooks of patterns. We took a break for lunch, and then they told me if I wanted to, I could knit up some swatches (yeah, twist my arm). So I got to play with two wonderful new (to me) yarns - a bright neon blue fluffy concoction that looks like it would make the cutest accent on little girl sweaters, made from, of all things, bamboo, and a gorgeous hemp and cotton blended yarn that is far nicer to knit with than any straight cotton I've ever tried. Finally, there was more yarn labeling, although it was hard to stay focused on the labels when all we wanted to do was just pet the yarn - several new lines from Classic Elite, including their Bazic - a superwash wool that is wonderfully smooth and soft - and the Classic Silk, a silk and cotton blend that I maybe just fell a little head over heels for. So much so that I even got to take a ball home with me to swatch up (again with the arm twisting), and discover that it is just as lovely as it feels in the ball, if not more so, and only sheer restraint kept me from sneaking back in today and running off with the whole stash of it while they weren't looking.

I dropped off my swatch this afternoon while we were running errands, and also picked up a new pair of Addi's for my next lace project, and there were already a small group of knitters sitting around the tables, busy doing swatches or sorting patterns or stocking yet more yarn. There's still a lot to do before they open, but so far it looks like it's going to be a great shop - lots of space for all knids of gorgeous yarn, comfy chairs for knitting, a huge room for holding classes, and even a safe and separate place for kids to play while their moms or dads shop. I am really excited for both the women who are setting this up, and I think I speak for most of the knitters in our area when I say that this store is a welcome addition, and that we are very, very glad that it is finally here.

Posted by Jenipurr at 06:01 PM

November 04, 2006

When good yarn goes bad

The hedgehog, after spending several weeks in solitary confinement (otherwise known as the bottom of one of my many knitting bags) decided it wanted another shot at felting. Or rather, Richard starting picking it up and putting it on his hand like a puppet and making it move its little paws around and screech (in a high, squeaky voice) "Felt me! Felt me!" So this morning I tossed it into the washing machine with a pair of old sneakers (the same sneakers which were instrumental in the felting of the pumpkin basket last week). I set it on the lowest water setting, and on the hottest temperature and I ran it through. Twice. And yet, it refuses to felt. At this point I am thinking that maybe this is just a hedgehog with a very Negative Attitude, because this makes no sense. It was made from feltable wool. I didn't knit it too tightly. Everyone else who used the same wool managed to felt their little hedgehogs just fine. Everything else I have ever tried to felt in that exact same washing machine, using one of the many techniques I have tried has felted quite happily. So it just has to be that this particular hedgehog might possibly be cursed. I cannot help but find the humor in this situation, even as I wonder just why it is that this hedgehog stubbornly insists on remaining its original size.

I am going to make a little swatch of the same wool and see if that will felt all by itself, just in case, for some bizarre reason, the manufacturer mislabeled a skein of superwash. There is also still the option of attempting to hand-felt the recalcitrant little critter, but I think that'll wait til after I see how the swatch cooperates. And in the meantime we are all having lots of fun discussing what to do with the Hedgehog That Would Not Felt (maybe we can pass it around to felting newbies, just to drive them crazy. Or offer a prize to the person who can find a way to make it play nice. heh).

In other news, after finishing off the Beaded Rib socks, I had nothing on the needles (except for the long-suffering bear rug, which languishes in the laundry room for weeks on end because knitting with four strands of fun fur at a time just isn't as fun as it sounds), and last night was First Friday Craft Night. Add to that the fact that the hot pink Fuzzy Feet I made for myself a year or two ago have developed annoying little holes in the soles (Richard's grey ones are also wearing through), and what else could I cast on for next but a new pair of felted slippers. And while I had grand plans, originally, of rummaging through the stash and pulling out random bits of wool to make a multicolored pair of Fuzzy Feet, I checked the yardage on my lovely orange sherbet dyed yarn, discovered it was exactly the right amount, and, armed with my swift, ball winder, and trusty kitchen scale, turned it into two little yarn cakes for slipper construction.

I am thinking that this time, when the slippers are felted (ha! Take that, hedgehog of doom!), I will also invest in a bottle of puffy paint, so as to give us some non-skid soles. Felted slippers and carpet-free floors (lubricated by the occasional well-placed hairball) do not a safe environment make.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:59 AM | Comments (6)

November 03, 2006


First, a very belated catch-up from two weekends ago. Now that everyone else in the knitting community has done it, I decided I needed to actually try this whole yarn-dying thing myself. A bunch of us ended up chatting about it, and before we knew it, we had a dying day scheduled at one person's house (although I realized later that just because I knew I was talking about yarn, Richard cannot always read my mind and I should have clarified a bit further when I told him that some knitters and I were going to get together to "die" on Sunday afternoon). Anyway. The hostess put in an order for Knitpicks Bare yarn and we all showed up with glass baking dishes and large quantities of Kool-aid in every possible color, and we commenced with the dying. And it is really, really fun (yes, I know. I am forever late to the party). The best part about having so many people participating was that we all tried different techniques, and so we could all get a chance to see how they worked. One woman created psychedlic sock yarn that looks almost tie-dyed. Another used regular food coloring (and vinegar) to color two hanks of sock yarn in varying shades of a gorgeous baby blue. The hostess skeined out a ball of sock yarn in a huge circle and then dyed one third of the skein red, one third green, and left the middle white, so that she can make some (very bright) Christmas themed socks. I put my first skein into a dish of orange Kool-aid, but as I'd hoped, it did not pick up the dye evenly, so the color swirls from pale melon to orange sherbet. And I put the second skein so that the bottom half was in purple, and then poured an equal amount of blue over the top half, creating what (I am hoping) will be a swirl of color once it is knitted up.

Pictures below show the results of our efforts. I am quite happy with how it all turned out, mainly because I still have a lot of that never-ending pink sock yarn, and I am thinking that if I could just turn it another color, maybe I would be inspired to work with it again.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:37 AM | Comments (1)