Sunday, May 25, 2008


I like colors. My wardrobe may offer examples to the contrary, as it is predominantly black, but there are several things I like colors in:

-- Socks. I'm a sucker for self-striping sock yarn (in case this wasn't obvious).
-- Nature. I've lived in a rural area all my life, and every year I am struck by how vibrant spring and summer can be. Trees, flowers, birds, fresh's all beautiful, and I look forward to all of it no matter how many times I've seen it before.
-- Guitars, particularly Gibson. 'Nuff said.

Despite this, I've never been very enthusiastic about experimenting or playing with color. I always felt that I didn't have an eye for it, a belief that the Circus Sweater drove home rather painfully. Lately, though, my thoughts have been turning to serious dye projects. Experimenting with Kool-Aid is great, but I want to be able to have more control over my dyes. I want more vibrant colors, in something that isn't going to leave my yarn smelling like lemonade and fruit punch. I want...a dye studio.

I know a have a lot to learn before a studio setting could pay off for me, so I've been doing the logical thing: reading up on dyeing and color! I recently perused several such books, including Deb Menz's Color In Spinning, Linda Labelle's The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing, and, most recently, Elaine Eskesen's Dyeing to Knit. I found the latter two especially to be great sources of inspiration. I've learned a lot about the color wheel that I never managed to pick up on before, and tonight I did some experimenting:

I had to darken the image a bit to make the colors stand out properly. It's still not exact, but it's close to the way the design looks in real life. It's in a book of black-and-white, color-them-yourself line designs I got when I was much younger, and I colored it in while referencing a small color wheel in Dyeing to Knit. I even laid the crayon colors out to correspond to the wheel, so the right colors would be easily within reach. I tried some work with complementary colors, color triads, and color harmonies. I think it came out good! I'd like to do a few more, both referencing the color wheel and freehand.

I'm finding some of the information hard to retain, probably because I've never been artsy in that sort of way, but I'm liking what I'm learning. It's fulfilling to feel like I'm finally getting in touch with a side of my creativity that was previously closed off. I'm beginning to feel a little more adventurous where color is concerned, and I think that's the first step towards being able to do the dyeing that I want to do in the near future. I have colorways in my head, inspired by everything from movies to books to RPG characters. I want to continue learning as much as I can in regards to color and dye techniques so that I can make these ideas a reality.

Also, I have discovered the work of Kaffe Fassett. Talk about delightfully insane...

Mood: tired & distracted
Music: Left Bank - Just Walk Away, Renee

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The computer and the blog both need attention

Here I am, playing catch-up again. I was doing so well for a while there! I definitely need to get back into the blog groove.

My laptop has started sneezing on me every time I try to scroll through a large amount of files that are also of large size. Read: Explorer crashes. This is decidedly annoying, especially since I don't know what's causing it. It's making it quite hard to transfer large files between the desktop and the laptop. For now, I'm defragging the hard drive and letting Avast AntiVirus do its thing to make sure all's well on the software front. I'd forgotten just how long defragging takes.

While all of that is going on, and Pandora serenading me in the background, I'm going to bring this blog up to speed!

First off, the spinning:

This is one skein (approximately half) of the merino I spun a while back. Before I started some socks with it, I decided to do a little dyeing experiment. No pictures from that, but it involved five jars, some Kool-Aid, and a bit of steam! The colors didn't turn out as vivid as I wanted, but the result was a yarn with a somewhat tie-dyed appearance, so overall it was a good result.

The first sock, done toe-up to maximize yarn usage:

The ball of yarn next to my foot recently became the start of sock #2.

The yarn has more variation in thickness than I thought, and far too much twist in places, but it's knitting up fairly well. I may have to block the socks when all's said and done. It's a learning experience. As I knit, I find myself thinking about things I've read regarding spinning, and considering how to apply them in future spinning ventures. In my experience, this sort of learning takes a little longer and incorporates more trial-and-error than being taught in, say, a class setting, but it works just as well. I'm really enjoying learning new techniques and how to improve what I'm already doing.

Remember the Eastside Weavers roving? Here's what it became:

Thick-thin yarn, predominantly purple, of all things. I didn't realize just how much purple was in the color scheme until I started predrafting and spinning the roving. This led me to think (don't laugh) of Barney, of all things. Which, in turn, led me to think of the Garfield & Friends parody of Barney, Sidney the Pink Dinosaur (Season 7, "The Beast From Beyond"). Which is why this yarn is called "Sidney".

Okay, now you can laugh.

This yarn is available for purchase at my Etsy shop, The Casimir Sheep (formerly Northeast Knits).

Now, the knitting! Excuse the crappy webcam pics; I don't currently have my good camera on me.

I knit the majority of this pair while watching Lost and House, and got a bit more work in while reading extremely long discussion board threads on Ravelry and fighting the Morphing Bacterial Infection of Doom.

The yarn is Trekking XXL that I picked up on that road trip to Pennsylvania, colorway 312. As you can see, I made no attempt to make them match.

First picture of the elusive Phoebe Pullover! This is sleeve #1, attempt #3. The pattern isn't difficult, but it requires more concentration than a lot of what I've been knitting recently (read: socks). My brain keeps trying to convince me that it's mindless, really it is, and I believe it until I find myself three-quarters of the way through a round and realize that I have no idea what stitch I just did, or if it was the right one. I'll have to keep re-training myself to pay attention, I guess!

With the exception of what's on the drop spindle at the moment, that's it! Catching up has been achieved. I can only imagine the chaos that's going to bloom around here when I start on my next endeavor: stash reduction...

Mood: cold
Music: Jim Croce - Dreamin' Again