Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I admit that I have been lax about blogging these past few weeks (to the relief of many people, I am sure), but I haven't been doing much to blog about. It's spring!, and I've been futzing in my garden, which has been sorely neglected for the ten springs and summers I've been in Japan.

Outside of pruning and planting, I've made a few pairs of plain socks and sorted through my stash--lace yarn in this basket, sock yarn in that basket, and the "What chemical was I imbibing when I purchased this stuff?" yarn in a large plastic bag over there.

Some of the WCWIIWIPTS yarn was actually very nice, but the colors were either insipid or frightful.

..rustle...clank....out came the cauldron and Potions kit....

Here is a Before photo of Schaefer Andrea in the Louisa May Alcott colorway. I. Hate. Brown.

A flick of Chinese Fireball Red dragon scales...

I didn't much care for the green in the Andrea Helen Hayes colorway either.

A bit of Gillyweed and some Merpeople hair later...

Consultation with my Advanced Potions textbook allowed me to transform Fleece Artist's pale blue and yellow Cornflower colorway into something a bit more interesting:

And Fleece Artist's lackluster Saffron colorway was transformed into a spicier flavor:

I used potions with hues similar to the colors in the underlying yarn so I wouldn't end up with muddy colors. The process works surprisingly well, although I am still adding red to a particularly stubborn skein of ghastly beige Malabrigo laceweight in an effort to make it attractive. (It was billed as Peach, but the color I received bore no resemblance to either the on-line picture or the namesake).

One word of advice if you decide to try this at home. Do NOT add Eye of Newt to your potion mixture. Otherwise, you'll end up transforming your skein from a plain, but mainstream yarn:

Into something like this:*

A little vitreous humor (snicker).

*Actually, this incredible skein of handspun was created by the fabulously talented Jacey Boggs. You can find this yarn, as well as other amazing creations, at her web site: Insubordiknit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I haven't done much productive knitting this week, but I have frogged what seems like an endless wad of samples. Every morning, I grabbed my coffee and some neatly caked sock yarn (thank you, Roy!) and spent several hours trying to find an appropriate yarn for a few favored patterns that have been in the Experimental Pile (some of them for years).

After seven days of this, I had a large pile of yarn squiggles and a headache.

What I really wanted was a soft, squooshy sock yarn with long runs of variegation. Well, guess what--there doesn't seem to be such a thing, at least on this planet.

Every pattern looked spectacular in the yarns I don't care to knit with--Trekking XXL, Julia's Vinca, and Noro's Brillo Kureyon Sock Yarn.

Every pattern got lost in the yarns I love to handle--Lisa Souza, Claudia, Cherry Tree Hill, and Soxie.

The basic problem seems to be that the yarns with glorious color variations are not very soft, and the touchable yarns were either too splotchy or zingless.

This conundrum also plagues lace yarn. The long-color-runs are found in yarns that are a bit harsh--JoJoLand's Melody, Yarn Place's Graceful, and Yarn Treehouse's Merino Print. And the touchable yarns--Yarn Place's Gentle,Touch, and Angel, for example, only come in plain colors.

While I am whining, I might as well utter a high-pitched plaintive cry about Angel's color selection. Take that, Yarn Place!

Don't get me wrong--plain colors are lovely and most appropriate for complex lace. But after you've seen LaceFreak's Legends of the Shetland Seas, you'll probably agree that those long color runs can transform a merely pleasant pattern into a spectacular finished piece.

In Other News
I did actually accomplish something this week. Hanabi is half-finished (I will post a picture next time.) And the Vinca yarn from Julia's Craft has turned into an interesting pair of socks. Total cost for the yarn was about $6--2 balls (@ $2.99, 255 yards) are needed for a pair. It's a slightly fuzzy marled yarn and a wee bit splitty.

As you can see, I made no attempt to match the coloration, being a dedicated lazy knitter. Roy says the yarn is quite light and soft on his feet. Knitting with Vinca isn't an overwhelming experience, but the color shifts are inspired, and make me want to keep knitting so I can see what will happen next.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

More Bling!

Harry tossed his finished Bling shawl center at me this morning as he sashayed out of the house for his morning sauna/massage. He instructed me to photograph it (with feeling) and post the pictures and text (with alacrity). Since he is holding my ebony needles hostage, I must obey.

Here's a boring face-on shot of the center:

And a pseudo-arty shot so he can't accuse me of slighting his work...

Apparently, after crawling around the center for an hour or two, Harry is having second thoughts about the Really Wide Border. (Of course he is--he just can't leave well enough alone).

He says he might adapt the border of the Black Window Spider King for his Bling shawl. It's a more interesting knit and is slightly smaller, too. He pointed out that he might run out of yarn if he stuck with the original design and thus, I would have to go around begging for another cone of Colourmart's Japanese Maple cash/silk.

After thinking about it, I have to admit that Harry has a point. We already have the trapezoidal shape worked out and adapting the spectacular border to a triangle shape would provide an opportunity to fool around with the pattern yet again (fun!).

And finally, Harry says he absolutely refuses to endure the boredom of a knitted-on border, so he is in the throes of adapting an Estonian/ Icelandic/German border to suit the contemplated changes.

Does this litany of changes sound familiar? The gods of Shetland Knitting are poking out their eyes with tridents, lightning bolts, and swizzle sticks.