Saturday, September 29

holiday kal-cal Prize

Marly and Sharon of She-Knits blog and podcast are hosting another knit and crochet along. This time with a holiday theme.

Marly put out the word for Indie Dyers like myself that she was looking for swag, prizes to offer the folks who join in the fun. I agreed, because prizes are such fun and it is a way to advertise Yarn Forest, where Erika and I are selling our hand-dyed yarn.

I pondered what to choose. Should I take something from the store or dye something special? They'll be giving out prizes in January, after the holiday season, so I figured I should think ahead, dye something someone would want to receive when they are fed up with holiday colors, deep into winter and thinking about spring. So I told Marly that I was dyeing some pretty laceweight wool in a happy spring theme. Alas, Marly, things didn't turn out well. Yes, there was a four letter word appropriate for the occasion, a four letter word beginning with an F.

Yup, Felt. I got careless or carried away and felted it to heck. Oh well, I live and learn.

So instead I am offering up some laceweight yarn that I am happy with. It may not be springlike, but the color is a wonderful dusky grey blue purple with a hint of fuchsia. It will make a lovely shawl or scarf or two.


Approximately 4 ounces, 1200 yards of 50% silk 50% merino laceweight yarn. If you want a chance at winning this, join the Holiday Knit and Crochet along.

Wednesday, September 19

Reading Lace

Did I mention that I've gone back to my old job? I think I drafted a post but didn't finalize it. Yes, the day my kid started high school (full time after two years of part-time school/homeschool) I started back at the bookstore.

Some folks fantasize about working at a bookstore just as some fantasize about working at their LYS. Truth is, it's not all standing around reading and having happy chats with customers about good books. And the pay? Um, small business, retail, part-time, those are not words associated with getting rich. But it does have its rewards and it is only part-time. The owner pleaded with me to come back. I don't know how much of that is that I was a model employee and how much of that is that I'm a warm body and they were desperate. Probably a little bit of both, but that's OK. I felt wanted and that's usually a good feeling. She doesn't know about the blog, but I'll have to write as if she'll find out eventually. That's OK. She's a great woman but she does drive me nuts sometimes. And I may mention that here. But nothing that I wouldn't say to her face. I am pretty candid and there isn't much that I wouldn't say to her face, regardless.

I will get access to galleys again and the discount is nice. I already have a list of books I want to order. I'll space them out to keep purchases less than my salary, but that is hard! My knitting book collection could use some expanding, especially Lace books.

Lace! Oh, how I love you!

When I started reading blogs I would read about folks who memorized lace patterns. Patterns that seemed infinitely complicated to me. And sure enough, my first lace projects were hard. I never got comfortable with the pattern in Cece. I persevered and finished the sweater, but each row was slow. Cozy, well, I could never get that pattern figured out. So many mistakes I ended up frogging it. It was only a few different pattern rows, but I never could figure out where I was.

Either something changed or I chose easier patterns, because lately I have been able to read the lace on my needles better. Most of Estonian Garden Wrap was done watching TV. This weekend I cast on for the Large Triangle in Leaf and Trellis in Victorian Lace Today. And to my surprise, I have A) become faster --- already have 10 of the 30 pattern repeats finished and B) Memorized the pattern. I haven't checked the chart since about repeat number 6. And even then it was just a glance or two. What I still cannot get over is that it is so mathematical, so logical, so easy to read, yet the result is so fluid and graceful and curvy.


I am using some wool I got from a vendor at Madrona. The photo does not do it justice. I was told that it was dyed by none other than Judith Mackenzie herself. That's not on the tag, which just says Davidson Corporation. I don't remember the vendor, but she was clearly associated with JM and Jessica was with me at the time and seemed to know the vendor. Anyway, the yarn is a beautiful green, a richly heathered deeply layered green. I loved the yarn at first sight, but didn't realize just how heathered it was until I started knitting with it. How do you dye yarn so heathered? It almost seems impossible, like that it must have been dyed before being spun, but I don't spin so have no knowledge of that.

I've been dyeing some lace myself, some Zephyr. I don't like strongly variegated yarns for lace, but have become so attracted to hand-dyed yarns that commercial dyed yarns just seem flat and one dimensional. My method of dyeing the Zephyr is to slowly add one color after another to get depth and variation within a limited palette. So far I have sold two skeins and have two more available at Yarn Forest. I have one more that I dyed to keep, but it is red. And we've been finding that photographing red is a challenge. And silk is a challenge with its sheen. So getting a picture I like of that will have to wait until I have more time.


Tuesday, September 18

Contest Winners

Thank you all for participating, a variety of sock yarn experiences for sure.

The winners, provided by my son's new-for-high-school graphing calculator's random number generator are the first Elaine (Elaine, are you the Elaine I know who used to keep a blog? Let me know) who will get the set of mini-skeins and QueenMeadow, a homeschooling, running, knitting blogger in Utah who will get the hard to photograph but lovely red skein.

Thanks all for the thoughtful comments. Funny how different people have different experiences. For me, the best socks have been my Koigu ones. I've machine washed and dried them repeatedly. They did fade a bit but have held up well. I don't have any holes in any hand-knit sock yet, but really I got my sock-knitting groove started last spring and I don't wear socks much in the summer. This winter will be the test.

I did get ideas though. Treesh's comment about long staple wools made me think of some fingering corriedale I purchased for lace. But the lace I made with the first skein doesn't stay blocked, it's too springy. Perhaps the second skein wants to be socks? Won't be superwash, but might make some comfy stretchy socks.

Friday, September 14


I thought I was going to have to blog about my dear departed chicken. The other night around 11 pm we heard her scream. I went out to her roost --- the rhododendron in front of the house --- and saw a raccoon hiding underneath. It ran off when I shined a flashlight on it, but no sign of Tasty. No signs of a struggle either, but it was dark. I searched again in the morning after it was light. Still no sign. An hour later, there she was on the back deck, perfectly fine! She's a tough old bird, she is. She did spend the day under the deck, except when I was outside she followed me around, sticking very close. I managed to lock her in the coop overnight. Will that work in the long run? Or will she seek out a new roost? Who knows.

Blog contest! I've been planning a contest to celebrate the opening of Yarn Forest, where Erika and I are selling our hand-dyed yarn. Tasty's escape gave me an idea of how to structure it. By far the most popular yarn for hand-painting and selling is sock yarn. By far the most common use for this yarn is knitting socks. What happens to those socks? How well do they hold up? We've been exploring base yarns and have our favorites, but by no means have we exhausted our search. So you tell us what you like.

Instructions: If you have hand-knit socks, tell me about the ones that survive the best. Which ones, after 6 months or 2 years of wearing and washing, do you still grab first to wear? Or which ones do you leave until it's almost laundry day and there's nothing else available? Leave your answer in a comment or send me an email (address is in my sidebar) and you will be entered in the contest.

If you don't have experience with the longevity of hand-knit socks, you can still be entered, just leave a comment about anything related to sock yarn or hand-dyeing.

One entry per person no matter how many comments you leave. Contest closes Monday September 17th at 11:00 PM my time (that's US Pacific Daylight Savings Time)

Two prizes! Two lucky winners will be chosen at random. One will receive a set of mini-skeins of our super soft merino we call Aurora 6.

The second winner will receive this skein of Aurora 6, one of a dyelot of two. Why? Because this yarn is prettier in person than we've been able to capture in a photograph. Frustrating but true. So while one of the skeins will be listed at Yarn Forest, the other is earmarked as a prize.

reds hard to photograph

Thursday, September 6

short post with pictures

Erika has listed some of my hand-dyed yarn in her etsy store. Go take a peek.

Here's some of my hand-dye that I kept:


One sock, BFL DK weight, shows the length of the color repeat using my jumbo niddy noddy. I love this sock and have been wearing it while I knit the second one. It's thicker than fingering, I knit this on US4s with 48 stitches.


Monkey Sock number one is also done. (Number two is almost at the toe.) This was some of my very first hand-dyed yarn. Cookie's Monkey sock pattern in comes in only one size. I was worried that it would be too small for me, but it isn't. Close though. Knit-Picks Bare sock yarn, knit on US2s.

Look what Franz built. this has already been used, then dismantled to reuse the parts for winder version 2.

Monday, September 3

Backpack part 1: When a tree falls in a forest...

A couple weeks ago my family took a hike. A three day hike. It was supposed to be a four day hike, but we'll get to that later. We like to backpack, but don't actually do it that often. Before the kid, Franz and I maintained about a 50-50 ratio of car camping and backpacking. Well, maybe not 50-50, you know how memory is. Next I will be saying I walked 6 miles every day to school, uphill in both directions. After child, we continued the occasional backpack (starting when Zach was 10 months) but mostly turned to car camping.

So anyway, back to this trip. We hiked a popular loop in the Olympic National Park called The High Divide, although that name more accurately refers to just one section. Starting at the Sol Duc Hot Springs trailhead, the trail follows a river valley up through the forest. Our first day and night we remained in the forest. We have big trees here. Big trees. The day was overcast and damp. Rain was predicted but didn't fall. In the past, such a walk through the damp dark forest with the sound of the river nearby has felt peaceful. But this trip...

Trail through trees

Try this experiment. Get a piece of paper and cover up the right side of that photo. Doesn't that look lovely? Peaceful, serene, green and full of oxygen producing old-growth forest? Now remove the paper. Newly shattered stump. Yes, shattered. What kind of force could do that? Just another tree falling over. And trees fall. We like it when trees fall, it is part of the circle, the cycle, nature at its finest. See the foreground. Trees fell years ago and are turning back into soil. Take your paper and cover up the top of the photo. Don't the logs turning back into soil look peaceful and quiet? Then take the paper away again. Does that look quiet? Do you wish you were witness to that event?

Here's another view. The tree that fell which shattered the other tree was at least 100 feet tall.


Nurse logs, fungus, termites, worms, all seem such a beautiful serene, slow part of nature. I never really concentrated on the dramatic events that start the process. But this hike, as I walked through the woods, every tree reminded me that behind their quiet beauty lies the capability for extreme violence.

I wasn't worried. I didn't expect something to fall on us. It was more a sense of power and darkness, the unknown and unknowable that fueled awareness and anxiety. I was glad to climb above treeline. More about that part of the trip later.