Because sometimes, you just need to make a 12-hour round trip to hang out with some friends and their cats for the weekend.

I think Burt approved of my dedication to cat pettings though.

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Athena mostly found me annoying, but would let me pet her head on occasion. And I got to touch the soft, soft belly and removed my hand before she could maul me. It's an accomplishment, I hear.

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Lemon was... Lemon.

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Yes, she is that big. She also makes an excellent weighted blanket substitute - I could just grab her, set her on my chest, and she'd settle in and start purring. Good kitty :-)

Other than cats, there was food. SO MUCH FOOD. And it was so good.

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We won't talk about how much yarn I bought at Stitches Midwest - let's just say it was a lot. But most of it has plans attached to it already! I may still skip Wool Gathering this year to let my credit card recover.

AND AND AND! Birthday Fluevogs! I luuuuuurrrrvvveee them.

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Yes, I know I owe you France posts. Give it some time. There's a lot of photos to deal with.

Yesterday was my annual pilgrimage to Young's Dairy in Yellow Springs for the Wool Gathering fiber festival. As always, it was lovely. I try to get there when it opens, so the crowds aren't too bad, and the weather was absolutely perfect to spend the day mostly outside.

There were grumbly ducks being herded, as usual.

Wool Gathering 2014

Wool Gathering 2014

There were sheep, one of which I actually got to pet this year. Usually they're a bit more skittish.

Wool Gathering 2014

And llamas being uninterested in everything.

Wool Gathering 2014

And I got ice cream for lunch. Way too much ice cream, in fact. Do not get two scoops of ice cream at Young's. It's impossible to finish.

Wool Gathering 2014

Yes, I did also buy yarn. Less than I expected though, without feeling like I missed out on anything. I like it. The whole "shopping from stash" thing seems to be really good training.
Wilton's food coloring is interesting for yarn dyeing. Not only is it cheap, food-safe, and easily available, but it's also sort of magic. Case in point: all three skeins below came out of the same dye bath.

Dyeing 19c

The pink was the first skein. I thought I could do something fun and dab black dye onto the wet skein, maybe get a bit of a speckled thing going.

IMG_1929

Instead, I used way too much dye, and it distributed relatively evenly throughout the water.

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But that's ok. I like the green/purple thing you get when Wilton's black breaks. Except when I rinsed the skein, all the blue tones that weren't left in the crockpot went down the drain.

Dyeing 17c

Ok then. Good thing I had more yarn to dye.

IMG_1937

This one sucked up all the greens and purples, turning into what I now expect black Wilton's to do on a good day (on a bad day, there's loads of pink to muddle everything up).

Dyeing 18b

And then I looked in the crockpot, and the water still wasn't clear of dye. Alright. Last skein.

Dyeing 19a

I love the blues in here. There's also some specks of purple that give it a really nice depth, but overall, it's definitely a light blue skein of yarn.

Dyeing 19b

And there you have it. Three skeins, one dye bath, three different colors. Magic :-) Ok, also SCIENCE!
If only every sweater was as easy to make as this one. And it's totally adorable.

Pattern: Garter Yoke Baby Cardi by Jennifer Hoel
Yarn: Yarn Lust Organic Merino Sport (sadly, the dyer seems to have gone under), a present from Laura

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I love the buttons too. For some reason, prep school jacket buttons on baby items always amuse me a lot. These were just from Jo-Ann's massive Wall of Buttons.

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I completely missed the inauguration, but oh well. Apparently there was talk of climate change being real and gay people who should be able to get married, but, well... talk's cheap :-) We'll see how that goes.

I did, on the other hand, actually attend the volunteer shift I signed up for, despite the fact that it randomly started snowing this morning, and the temperature dropped so much that I could tell before ever leaving the apartment. But I did go paint at one of the homeless shelters in town for two hours, which as a team got us a painted locker room and a half, so success! Then I cam home and baked cupcakes, which were delicious. Trader Joe's vanilla cake mix, which smells exactly like my grandma's vanilla pudding - which came out of a pouch, so... great brand of vanilla pudding in a pouch :-) I think they have it at World Market.

I also sort of tracked down the Christmas present my mum sent me... which they apparently tried to deliver on the 22nd of December, but they neither told me about it nor did they make another delivery attempt. Yes, I did register a complaint with USPS :-) Now I just need to pick up the actual package tomorrow before work.

In the meantime, have some dyed yarn! I got bored yesterday and dyed some sock yarn I had wound after my eye appointment earlier this week. I also finished some socks in time for a birthday gift.

IMG_0812 IMG_0813 IMG_0814 IMG_0810
It's basically the perfect yarn festival. Good food and ice cream, animals, and yarn. Oh, so much yarn. So much yarn I wanted to buy. But I was good and stuck to yarn I had planned on buying, for a very specific project. Yeah, I know. I barely believe it myself.

Hey look, pictures! With hovertext!



Wool Gathering 2012

Wool Gathering 2012

Wool Gathering 2012

Wool Gathering 2012
No really. Look at the pretty yarn. It's all I've got today.

Dyeing 9a

Dyeing 9b

Dyeing 9c

Dyeing 9d
I'm going to write up all of Rolex today and have it post over the next few days, because apparently that's the only way I can do regular blogging :-P

Finished reading Hunger Games. Still confused about back story. Hoping Catching Fire might give me some of that background info (and yes, I will read that one before they finish the movie).

Avengers was AWESOME. And the midnight showing was totally worth it, even if I paid for it for pretty much the rest of the weekend. Nothing like seeing a great movie with 200 of your closest friends, which is always what midnight showings feel like.

Riding lessons are going as expected, which means I have all of the technique and none of the strength to actually maintain it :-P Case in point: lesson was Saturday, and I still can't walk straight today. Hopefully that'll eventually stop - it's kind of irritating when the ibuprofen doesn't do much.

Went to the OSU renfest with peoples on Saturday, and was quite impressed. It was much more renfest-y than I expected, even if there was the occasional student who obviously just randomly stumbled across the whole thing and was entirely confused. And since we all haven't hung out together enough lately, I may very well meet up with Laura in two weeks for some yarn shopping. And two weeks after that, we're helping Bennett move. That's probably more time we've spent together in the past six months than all of the time I lived in Athens :-)

Met up with random strangers I met on the internet (ok, in public, and after talking to them for months online on Ravelry). It was quite fun and educational - I now know more about embassy regulations and dress code than I ever needed to know :-) I also ended up buying sweater yarn because it was much cheaper than at any of the stores here or online -_-; At least I know what I'm going to do with it, which I can't necessarily say for the sock yarn. Then again, it's sock yarn. How many fallback options do I need, really?

SO EXCITED about hanging out with Sarah this month! And about possibly meeting more new people. At least one new person seems to be guaranteed, with another knitter possibly thrown in the mix. Did I mention I'm excited? :-D
In an attempt to graduate from fruit-scented powders, I bought a little tub of Wilton's food coloring. This is the stuff people make fancy cakes with, so it comes in a variety of colors and reacts well to being mixed for more colors, while still being food-safe and therefore crockpot-friendly.

I'll let you take a guess what color that tub was. Go on, I'll wait.



Black. Yes, really. It broke beautifully right when I poured it on the yarn. Although I think all of the blues went down the drain with the rest of the water. I totally used too much dye, so they had no chance before the reds took over :-)

I'm now thinking this property could be used two-fold: one, a wicking experiment where I suspend the yarn above a dyepot with just the end of it dipping into the color (without staining my bathtub in various components of black dye). Two, other Wilton's colors that are a blend of multiple colors - you know how very little food coloring is just Red 40 or whatever, but mostly Red 40 with a little bit of blue, or a little bit of yellow, for example? I wonder if that fact can be exploited if I treat the dye roughly enough. The little tubs are only about $2 each, so the yarn will still be the biggest investment in those experiments.
I promised you content, didn't I...

TV Show
Started watching Game of Thrones (as in, I gave in and got the Netflix DVD plan as well). I'm really liking it, from an artistic and visual standpoint, and I think I'd get into the story more if I didn't know what was going to happen already :-) I guess that's the problem with reading the book first. But the casting and realization of the characters is still amazing - Sean Bean is obviously great, I'm liking Kit Harrington as Jon Snow, and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is a stroke of genius. So sarcastic, so witty, so awesome.

Movie
Went to see Hunger Games with Jess yesterday, as a thank you for babysitting me on Saturday. I'm still not sure how I feel about the movie... it's like I should have had more of an emotional connection with it. Visually, again, awesome, most of the actors are excellent (was that Parker Posey, by the way?), but it just didn't hit me quite as much as it should have. I wonder if I'm missing too much background I would have gotten from the books - I spent much of the first third wondering how the Games originated, why the Districts rebelled, etc. I'll have to figure out Overdrive for my Kindle and actually download the books, I think. Or just get the paperbacks from B&N down the street.

Stuff
Survived my sedated dentist appointment - more than survived, actually. I barely remember a thing :-) Which is exactly what I wanted - thank you Valium and whatever else they use for these things. I still have to go back and get the permanent crown put on, but I can deal with that on just nitrous oxide. Of course, I still was tense as hell the day before, and spent most of Saturday either in bed or on the couch, so my neck and back are a mess, but I found a massage place for Wednesday, which should at least take care of the worst of that.

Book
Finished A Feast for Crows. Desperately want to run out and buy the next book, but I have two Dresden Files and the book Ben gave me for Christmas to read first. Plus, I have no idea if the next book is even out in paperback yet. I'll look into that when the time comes.

Happy
Riding lesson this weekend! Finally... it's been too long. The disadvantage of having spent a year in decent physical shape is that I can tell how awful a desk job is in that respect :-) So hopefully between the lessons and some other stuff, I can at least stay in somewhat decent shape. The zoo membership is likely to help too, give me an excuse to do more walking.

Picture
Why yes, I am kind of obsessed.

Fill crockpot with water, soak yarn for half an hour, remove yarn, add powder, stir, add yarn back in, done :-) Well, heat for half an hour, fix with some vinegar, let dry. But that's basically it.



This is one large pack of blue with four regular packs of green. I used another pack of blue for the speckles/splotches you can sort of see in the water, but the end result was very subtle.



You can kind of see it at the top there, but the other areas aren't much more vivid. I like it though, it should make a nice cabled hat or mittens or something.
It's been one of those weekends where nothing really worked out... tried to buy dress pants: failed. Tried to do French homework: mostly failed due to loss of brain. Tried to cook some dinners for the next few days: failed. Guess I'll have to make spaghetti sauce tomorrow or something. I seriously need to expand my recipe range some more.

TV Show
Finished the US version of Being Human. Figured out why I was on the fence about it - it lacks half of the emotional impact because half the scenes, I've seen before. It doesn't really matter how Aidan gets stabbed when I know he will get stabbed and Sally will miss her door because of that. Sorry, spoilers? Not really, since we've probably all seen it before. I really like the characters, and I like it when they go off Toby Whithouse's original script, which I think they'll be doing more of in this next season.

Craft Stuff
More dyeing.



I love the concept of kool-aid dyeing, but it's too fast... it only takes an evening, so the outlay of money per time feels larger. (I know, I then get to knit with the stuff. But that's a different activity.) The new goal is to focus on stashbusting - I want to do some larger projects, but don't feel like I should be getting materials for that while I have perfectly good yarn sitting around. Have we heard this before? Yes. Re-stating my goals for this year is a good reminder, no? :-)

Plans
IKEA sometime in early March. I'm sick of not having a desk and bed, so with the influx of some surprise cash, I'm going to spend some of it on furniture. I'm very excited about it, even though it'll be an exhausting weekend loading and unloading a cargo van and putting everything together. But I'm actually looking forward to organizing :-)
This is what happens when I try to replicate dyeing results, apparently: it's a bit of a WTF moment :-)

You would think this would end up similar to the green and blue yarn from a little while ago, no? Same setup, same rules, just a little less powder.



But no. No dark spots, just a kind of interesting "darkened Americana" sort of look.



I have no idea. I still like it, it's just entirely not what I expected. Kind of like the stuff I pulled out of the crockpot an hour ago - but that will have to wait until it's dry. So you'll see it about this weekend, if temperatures stay as they are :-)
Today, we're going to end up with some more blended colors, compared to yesterday's distinct colors. It's likely this works best with colors in the same color family (all reds, all blues, etc), but I'm sure there's some cool opportunities for blending contrast colors as well. Remember, you want to look at some basic kool-aid dyeing articles to make sure somebody with more sense than me reminds you about wearing gloves. Admittedly, all the dye came off my hands during a nice hot shower - but your mileage may vary, and blue hands are likely to be frowned upon at work :-)

We start again with skeined yarn, either from a previously existing hank or by skeining yarn that comes in other forms. Then there's the "heating up water" step. Pro-tip repeated: start with hot water, without the vinegar this time. Set the crockpot to high and let everything sit for about half an hour.



Then add your kool-aid powder. I went with three colors this time (two packs of each). It's probably a good idea to stick to a lightest-to-darkest progression, to prevent dark colors from completely obliterating your lights. As it was, the orange still overdyed most of the yellow, but enough of the lighter color peeks through for a nice accent.



Again, don't stir. Put the lid on, set the crockpot to warm, walk away. I gave it about half an hour, then came back and sloshed a tiny little bit to dissolve the rest of the powder (as little as there was left). By that time, the water was mostly clear, so I gently poured white vinegar over the whole surface (again, a good glug or two will do it). I decided to let everything soak for another half an hour to let the dye set - I have no idea if that's necessary, but it seemed like a good idea.

Then take out the skein, rinse, and hang to dry.



You can't really tell from that picture, but the colors bled into each other a lot more, while still being distinct shades. There's no truly dark spots like in yesterday's yarn though.



That's what I've dubbed blended kool-aid dyeing. I still have to decide what to do with the last color combination I bought on this trip (I'm thinking spattered), and then I'll look at a kettle-dye technique after the next grocery run.
I don't know why, but I felt the random need to dye some yarn this week. I tried two different ways of working with kool-aid, and I thought the three of you who read this blog for the crafting may appreciate it. The rest (all four of you) can just look at the funny pictures and the pretty colors :-)

To start, you want to google "knitty kool aid dyeing" and read their instructions on how hot your water needs to be, and how to make sure not to felt your yarn or roving by rapidly changing its temperature (as in, rinsing hot yarn with cold water) or stirring vigorously. They also have excellent pictures of what kool aid flavors give you what colors.

Then, you want to skein your yarn. Unless you already have yarn that comes in a hank, use a niddy-noddy or swift to make one. I have not taken a picture of my setup because it's somewhat pathetic. Just know you want to end with a hank that's safely tied in at least two places. Kool-aid and similar food safe dyes only work on protein fibers, so wool or mostly wool is your best bet. I used superwash wool here because it's what I had - didn't seem to be a problem.

Fill your crockpot with water, about half full. Pro tip: use hot tap water. It takes my crockpot almost an hour to heat water to anything close to "dye pot hot," so give it a head start. For this particular dye result, add a generous glug of white vinegar before putting in the yarn.



Soak your skeined yarn for about half an hour (or longer). You want it to be pretty saturated, and you also don't really want it to float, as much as you can get yarn to not float. At the same time, set your crockpot to high and let it warm up. This is where you want to pay attention a bit, because if the water starts boiling, your yarn will felt.



Now it's time for the fun. I used two colors of kool-aid, but you could probably go with three if you wanted to. For the 100g of worsted weight superwash I used here, I ended up with a grand total of six packets (three blue, three green). To be fair, it seemed I ended up with supersized packets of blue, so really it was two blue, three green, but with regular packets, it's three and three.

Anyways... sprinkle the kool-aid on top of your yarn.



Do. Not. Stir. Just put on the lid, set your crockpot to low or the warm setting, and walk away for at least another half hour. When you come back, you can lightly slosh the liquid around to make sure all the powder has dissolved. If that is the case, and your water is mostly clear, it means the yarn has absorbed all the dye, and you can rinse.

This is where I remember to put on gloves... when it shouldn't really be necessary anymore. Oh well.

Rinse your yarn carefully, both to avoid felting and to avoid tangles. Then hang the skein to dry (this can take a while). I constructed an excellent setup to avoid having water drip on my carpets...



Yes, that's my shower. I was able to also close the shower curtain and take a shower without messing with the setup. Your mileage may vary.

Once the skein is dry, twist it into a pretty skein and enjoy!



I love how spattered and textured the colors turned out. Because you add the vinegar at the beginning, the dye sticks to the yarn pretty much as soon as it hits it in some spots, which is where the dark colors come from. Then the rest of the dye slowly absorbs irregularly, giving you the lighter areas. Because you've kept the two powders separate as much as possible, you'll have distinct areas of color on different parts of the skein.

I'm excited about seeing how this knits up - if I remember, I'll add a picture here in addition to the new blog post. And I have another skein of dyed yarn still drying - that one came out quite differently though :-)

On Stashing

Oct. 1st, 2011 12:13 pm
I had a freaky realization a couple of days ago: I don't think I want to stash yarn at the moment.

Ok, so if you hand me yarn, I'll probably hug you (if it's cashmere, probably kiss you too), but while I used to go past a yarn store and think "I'll just take a look," which then turned into "but it's so pretty, and it's just one skein," for the past three months or so, I've been going past yarn stores thinking "eh, I don't need anything, it's ok." I wonder why that is?

Maybe part of it has to do with moving twice in a year and a half, and actually going through what yarns I have, seeing what cool stuff is in there, and looking forward to using that instead of the New Best Thing. I mean, I have awesome yarn. I just forget about it sometimes. So, no burning desire for new awesome, because there is old awesome already.

Maybe it's because German yarn stores just aren't as tempting. I don't think I've seen more than two skeins of handpainted yarns in the stores I regularly pass, and while I LOVE knitting socks (want some socks?), there's only so much self-patterning sock yarn one can have before even that becomes a bit stale. Ok, maybe not stale, but I have actually realized that there will always be more, which I can't say for people who actually want handknit socks. Also, no laceweight. I think I could actually stash laceweight at the moment, but there is none. So, no stash purchases.

Maybe it's because I am now actually thinking about knitting garments, which require much more organized shopping, and a larger outlay of cash. I know it feels weird to spend $60 on yarn for a sweater when I have loads of yarn at home, even if none of that would make a wearable sweater (in fact, a sweater like that would probably make you go blind). So, saving money for organized purchases later.

Really, I think it's about being unemployed and knowing how much money I'll end up spending on the move back to the US. And about knowing that there's awesome yarn stores in Columbus where what money I have will be better spent :-P I'm seriously looking forward to Knitters Connection and Wool Gathering, and I think those will be exceptions to the "no desire to stash" feeling because of the sheer selection, but for now, it's stash knitting and planning for work-appropriate knitwear supplies.

Did I mention I started knitting a sweater I bought yarn for the first time I visited Laura in South Bend? Where she no longer lives? Yeah. Stash knitting. It's pretty awesome right now.

Mail Day

Feb. 17th, 2011 05:49 pm
Whee! Package!



Best customs tag in the world (well, aside from "chocolate")



Cashmere! Artyarns Cashmere Sock, in a really pretty navy blue.



Yes, that is all that was in that big box. I don't question people who send me cashmere :-)


Because the flight was so much cheaper, I got to Lexington a day before everyone else, so I had a day to kill before mum and her friend arrived from their Colorado trip. I also had some actual errands to run, so I spend the first evening plotting out a route around Lexington that included a stop at the bank, two yarn stores, lunch, and a coffee shop. The cab from the hotel into town was kind of pricey, so I had to plan enough stuff to tide me over until mum could pick me up in the afternoon, which really wasn't that hard to do. Plus, the Equestrian Games people included a map of downtown Lexington in the little welcome packet we received, so I wasn't actually going to get totally lost :-)

Did you know that banks will only let you take money out of your own account if you present your passport as ID? Even though you have a deposit slip with your account number and two other forms of ID with your picture and name on it? Yeah, me neither. Luckily that only seems to apply at main branches, not at little places in the middle of Amish country. Other people may call it laxer security, I call it reasonable banking practices :-)

The two yarn stores were lovely, though very different from each other. ReBelle was a bit New Age-ey, and definitely had some very nice yarn in addition to pieces from local artists, like jewelry and stitch markers. Magpie Yarns was the first store I ever went to that was sorted by color and not by yarn type or fiber. Looks pretty, makes it easy to find buttons to go with your yarn, makes it a pain in the behind to browse if you're not looking for a specific color, but were more in a "I could get some nice laceweight" kind of mindset. In the end I found something on the sock yarn shelf though, which I believe was only there because the owners had no idea where to put Noro yarns on a color wall. I'd have some serious difficulties with that myself.

Magpie Yarns was also close to a coffee shop I had found on Google Maps and suggested to Trevor for meeting up. Because of one thing or another, we hadn't actually talked for over a year (possibly two), and spend a good couple of hours catching up. As always, it was one of those "why haven't we talked in forever?" moments, but I think we've both given up on promising we would call... at least that doesn't interfere with good conversations when we do manage to get a hold of each other eventually. T was even nice enough to drive me back to the hotel so I wouldn't have to attempt to describe to my mum how to get to the coffee shop.

What else... spending time in Middlefield was relaxing as always, marked by lots of good food and some outlet shopping. Hey, I needed Europe-worthy casual clothing and stuff I could wear to a job. I can't help it that the stuff in Europe is so expensive. On the way back from Cleveland back to Lexington, we also stopped at Jeni's, which was yummy as always. I love the Buckeye State ice cream, and really enjoyed the spiced apple butter as well. There was a third flavor I tried, but I can't remember what it was... it was definitely yummy though. Like pretty much everything at Jeni's.


I promise I'm not paid to advertise this club (shut up Laura), but I have to share just how much I love my Yarn & Tea Club subscription from Bumblebirch. It's a monthly club that, as the name suggests, gets you a skein of yarn (sock or worsted) dyed to a certain theme, and a complementary tea or two, plus some extra goodies. January's theme was "Begin Anew," and it's a lovely light green color with a good amount of variegation without being strange.



There were two kinds of green tea, which I haven't tried yet, but December's vanilla black tea is already gone... it was amazing. The overall package is really pretty as well - everything matches, everything goes together, right down to the tissue paper that is wrapped around the yarn for shipment. It's just awesome how much care is taken to make it a pleasant thing to open, and how literally everything so far has been a good and pretty thing to get. I'm having doubts about resigning for a different club that's switching from coffee and yarn to tea and yarn, but I can't wait to do more of this stuff :-)

Ok, end free advertising here. But if you like yarn, and you like tea, you should give this a shot. Even if you just get a one-month thing instead of the full club, it's so worth it. I've been petting both of the yarns randomly for stress relief :-P

A yarn club with sock yarn and coffee... yeah, I couldn't help it :-)



It's got silk in it, which makes it lovely and shiny and soft - I think this is going to be a scarf of some sort.

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