Monday, February 26, 2007


Thank you to all of you that commented on my last post. "The Yarn of Yarnnation" will become a regular feature here at Yarnnation. I was inspired by Erin over at Dress A Day and her "Secret Life of Dresses." If you haven't read them, go on over, they really are entertaining.

And to celebrate the first episode, naturally, I must share some yarnish love. As Bells was the first to comment, I thought she should get a skein of some Yarnnation hand dyed sock yarn. Send me your address Bells- yarnnation at gmail dot com.

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Each time I post a Yarn of Yarnnation I will (from here on out) randomly choose a person from the comments to share a little bit of Yarnnation with.

Now, what else has been going on around here? Spinning? Yes, and Maggie was trying to her best to impede.

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This is some slightly variegated orange supperwash Merino, 2 ply. I wanted some orange socks, and orange socks I will have. It came out at a perfect 16 wpi, and it hasn't dried all the way yet, but it doesn't look like it's going to bloom too much. It came out at 245 yds. I have plenty of this left over, but I'm not sure yet if I will spin more to get enough for a pair of socks, or (as I am sick to death of it right now) I will knit the toes, heel, and cuffs in something else. We'll see. They aren't even the next socks in the cue.

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Also, because I have so much of this stuff, and because I'm lazy and my scale is on a different floor in my house, I didn't weigh or measure the fiber for each bobbin in any way, I just filled up the second bobbin until it looked like it about matched the first- this is what I had left over- can you believe it? Crazy lucky!

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What else? Dyeing? Of course, and when else, but in the middle of the night.

This is my new favorite Yarnnation dyed sock yarn: Raspberry Ice Cream (I can't eat it, but I can wear it!)

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The Yarn Queen also sent me some very nice Targee/Lincoln mixed roving. I kettle dyed it in two different batches. They both came out stunning, but I couldn't get very good photos, you'll just have to wait for the spinning to see the colors. . . which won't be long :)

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And last but not least. . . I over dyed some worsted weight wool that was this kind of unpleasant dingy orange and yellow variegated. Isn't it stunning? I have enough for a sweater, my internal Creative Project Manager is working overtime.

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Hope everyone has a great week. . . It's the Duke's last week of a his second to last rotation.

As he says


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Yarn of Yarnnation #1

I was beautiful and I knew it. No one could tell me otherwise. I was to be all the rage. Not only did I carry the name in yarn, I was chunky and chunky was sexy. My color was that of royalty and desire, my texture cried out to be touched. Those poor balls of yarn that were placed next to me, I almost felt sorry for them. . .almost.
I was, naturally, given a prominent place to display my glory. I shone, waiting for the proclamations of love that I knew would come.
The attention came, the little people, they ohhed and ahhed, they were permitted to touch me, to fondle me even. I soon grew weary of the shallow adoration, but I knew that with fame and beauty came "the burden." I tolerated it as best I could, but each time someone mussed my perfectly arranged strands, I longed for the time that a true knitter would see me for what I was. . . perfection in yarn.
I waited, never doubting my own magnificence. I watched as the lesser colors left our shared stage where I was the star, knowing that I simply intimidated the common knitter.

Then, then came that most dreadful of all days, a case of mistaken identity I am sure. I was taken from my stage and placed in a basket- A SALE BASKET! I was being put on sale? I promply displayed all my charms, sure that this travesty would soon be noticed and corrected. Really, how dare they? I was traumatized, I couldn't believe this could happen to me of all yarns. I was tossed about with common and course yarns, cotton, and even some synthetics. My tresses were displaced and disheveled beyond repair. Only my ball band, though ripped and tattered, kept me from tying myself in knots. Day after day I was left there, and I was close to hysterics when a face I knew pulled me from the basket. Yes, it was one of the servants, one of those girls who had straightened and smoothed me on my stage day after day. At last, I had been rescued, the silly girl had realized her mistake.

But wait, where was she taking me? No, my stage was the other direction, no impertinent girl, not into a bag! And then it hit me. . . into a bag, this servant girl was taking me home. I had been purchased, on sale, by an employee. My humiliation was overwhelming. It soaked into my very core.

I ended up in another basket, not on display, not even on someone's needles. I sat in a basket with other tattered balls of yarn for months and months. My despair festered and grew until it began to ferment into something else. . . rage. I was the diva of yarn, I would not allow myself to be treated with such a lack of respect, not without recourse. She would curse the day she threw me into any basket! I knew what I must do.

And then my chance came at last. She had been rummaging through the basket, and at long last pulled me out. I was cast on and the ribbing commenced. At one time I would have flowed into that springy fabric with glee, but now, now revenge was my only pleasure.

She worked me into a cropped vest, deep ribbing, a shawl collar. All in all, a fairly nice garment. I cooperated, I was patient. Simply splitting on her needles or some such silliness would not satisfy my burning anger. I could wait. Finally, she bound me off, and the hour was at hand.

I strained every fiber, twisting and contorting each ply to my will. This vest would never fit right, I would be sure of that. She would never be rewarded for such despicable treatment of me, the most glorious of all yarns. She tugged and she blocked, but it was all for not, I would not submit. She studied me, wondering where her needles had gone array, and I laughed to myself, knowing that there was not a mistaken stitch to be found.

In mere days she gave in to the frustration that signaled my triumph! Never, never again would she treat me with such disdain. I had taught here the awful lesson that comes with neglecting a star.

My angry justice burned hot inside of me for some time, how long exactly I could not say. I was drunk with self satisfaction. When the fire of vindication began to dim, I realized that I was again in a basket. A different basket this time, not a basket of lovely, if somewhat disheveled balls of yarn, but in a basket of misfit and forgotten projects. It was then, slowly, that the realization of what I had done began to set in. I asked myself, "now what was to become of me?" For weeks and then months I sat in that lonely basket, never speaking to the other projects, the collective depression was too deep for conversation.

I began to think that I had been too rash. What does it matter when and by whom you are purchased, and how you are stored? My basket wasn't so bad, warm, dry and not a moth to be heard of. I had been knit into a lovely garment, but I had thrown away my chance to be worn, admired, and serviceable. I thought that perhaps I would be given a second chance, I tried to correct the ugly contortions I had subjected myself too, but in vain, the damage was done.

After a very long while she retrieved me from the basket. I dared to hope, but my hopes were dashed when she threw me into her washing machine. I was tortured, first scalding water, then icy cold, and all the while, being beaten and battered. My weakened fibers matted and felted within minutes. I shrunk to less than half my original size, now a stiff and ugly bit of fabric. She pulled me from the washer and I cried when she laughed at my misshapen shape. She didn't notice the tears as she rung the water from me.

I was left to dry, and then she came with scissors. She cut me into many small shapes. I was despondent, nothing mattered anymore. She began to sew me into a bag of some sort with much difficulty. I knew it would never work. Even in my felted state my fabric would not lay flat, but even so, I was grateful to her for trying.

Again, I ended up in the forgotten project basket, cut and stitched, even with a little needle felting to try to hide my sins, but still useless to anyone. I had been a beautiful yarn, but my pride had destroyed me, I could blame no one but myself.

My life ended when her mean little dog escaped her attention for a moment. He pulled me from the basket, tore my needle felting away from me, and proceeded to chew and tear at me. She found him some time later, snatched me away from him with hardly a scolding, gave me a sad look and tossed me, unceremoniously, to my grave.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Tzarina

You've all heard me talk (er- seen my write) about the talented knitting friend, Tzarina. She has, at long last, entered the world of blogging. Check out her newly launched blog.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Year of the Boar and other Randomness

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Happy Chinese New Year. It's the year of the boar. While I was not born in a year of the boar (I in fact am a sheep, evidently, although I know little to nothing about the Chinese zodiac,) I do have a special place in my heart for pigs. And now I will have a little piglet nephew to love. Yes, the royal little baby of Princess P. and Prince B. will be a little bouncing baby boy! I all ready have projects lined up for him, starting with this, only in a nice brown. This book is adorable, I'm sure he will be getting other knitting goodness out of it.
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Continuing, for the moment along the pig thread, the Duke and I have this print hanging our our wall. It is called Kohler's Pig by Michael Sowa and at our house we like to think that it is pig heaven, where pigs come when they die. It is here that they can fly.

Why do I like pigs you ask? It has to do with the legend of Carcassone

In 760, Pippin the Younger, king of the Franks and father of Charlemagne, had recaptured most of Southern France from the Saracens. But the impregnable fortress of Carcassonne resisted. According to legend, a Saracen princess named Carcas devised a ruse to save the city. After a long siege, she used the last sacks of grain to fatten up a pig, and then threw it over the ramparts. Seeing such a well-fed pig, the assailants gave up, thinking the city had enough food not to surrender for a long time. Carcas rang the bells to celebrate, and the city was named Carcas sonne (Carcas rings).

The Duke told me this story at a difficult time in my life. Now, when I am having a hard time, I think of Carcas and her pig who together saved the city. I realize this didn't end so well for the pig, that is why we have the painting in our house where pigs come to live in peace and happiness after they die.

Anywho, moving on. I listened to The Story of Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting. It was sweet and while not the most enthralling of literature, was enjoyable. It has a baby pig name Gub-Gub in it.

So, in honor of the Chinese New Year, which I love because it's like another chance at the fresh start that I always somehow miss in early Jan., I thought I would pull out my various WIPs.

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Sebastion- on the needles since Nov. I will get this done soon, I swear.

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The Duke's Aran Sweater- considering I've had to do "cable surgery" on it three times now, it's moving along, slowly, but surly.

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My Eco Sweater is DONE! YIPEE- it just needs a closure of some sort, I'm undecided as to what it should be.

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Green Socks (done in my own hand dyed yarn.)

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The Shadow Scarf

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My scarf which if I hadn't made myself insane enough knitting endless rows of garter stitch, then I decided it needed a crochet edging. Slowly, yes, but coming.

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Here is a simple raglan that I cast on for last night. The Queen Mother Knitter sent me the yarn and the pattern as a b-day gift, and I needed some mindless knitting last night, it was perfect.

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Last by not least, here is my nearly finished tote for the International Tote Exchange III. It just needed the bottom ribbon and handles. I hope my exchangee likes it.

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And to finish off with some more randomness, this is my latest hand spun, 2 ply, 12 wraps per inch, spun from a Corriedale Grafton Fiber Batt. So nice.

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And here are some adorable pictures of my two little beasts. Click here to visit my latest photo set of my cutie pie pups!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Outsmarting the Andean Ply

I really like the idea of Andean plying. I like it for the same reasons that I like Navajo plying, no waste, one bobbin, ect. ect. What I don't like about it is having to wrap the singles around my hand, as it somehow always seems to get tighter and tighter until I think my middle finger is going to break off. Yes, I realize that this is normally a technique used with spindles, not wheels, and that doing it with the amount of yarn you spin onto a bobbin poses problems. Well, never let it be said that things as small as tradition and logic ever discouraged me.

If you have never Andean plyed, go here for an excellent tutorial.

Now, onto the problem solving. (Or a shout out to girl camp where I learned to lash sticks together for more survival type purposes.)

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Here is my Andean plying jigamado. It is made of four size US 15 DP needles lashed together as you see.

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I wrap the singles onto the jigamado just as you would wrap it onto your hand and wrist. The upper part of the vertical needle acts as my middle finger. The single horizontal needle acts as my nuckles. The double horizontal needles act as the bottom part of my hand, and the lower part of the vertical needle acts as my wrist.

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The cocoon builds, I found that I could get about a half an oz. of singles on there with no problems later on. Now, how do I get that off. . . ah the clever tricks.

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I slide the single and the double horizontal needled together, near the top of the vertical needle.
Sorry that some of the photos are a little blurry, my camera and I were arguing about how close I could get to this.

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This is what it looks like from the back

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Slide the loop created at the top of the vertical needle off of the jigamado, being careful not to let it slip off the bottom.

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Insert your fingers into the loop or braclet this creates and pull the loop of singles off of the jigamado.

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Now. . .

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Slip the braclet of singles onto your wrist (right if your right handed, left if your left handed) and proceed to ply from both ends, as you normally would.

Sometime the singles will stick together a little bit. If you have wrapped the singles on the jigamado correctly, you should be able to give them a tug and they will continue to unravel. DO NOT ever take the braclet off of your wrist.

And you will end up with a lovely bit of 2-ply yarn.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

'07 Was a Very Good Year

Some birthdays are good, some are bad, and some are just plain outstanding! This was one of those birthdays. I didn't request my birthday off, but it just worked out that I didn't work the entire weekend. We celebrated Sat. because the Duke did have to work. After a very nice day of relaxing at home, the official celebration got kicked of with a crashing good time. Now, normally I would not be happy about being woken up early on a Sat. by a demolition crew, but this was no ordinary demolition crew. . .

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Yes, that is the abandoned, dilapidated, nasty, awful, building next to our house being torn down at long last HURRAY! A GREAT birthday present.

The pups (and the humans) got a nice morning walk and then off to breakfast, but not before stopping off at the post office to pick up the package I missed yesterday.

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My SP is Awesome. I have never seen this yarn before, but I adore it. It's called Malabrigo, kettle dyed pure merino. It looks a little like Manos, only much softer and more yardage (216.) She also sent a couple of bottles of her favorite salad dressing/marinade. I looks delicious, we will be using it Sunday night. And she sent some tart valentine candy, my favorite.

Then off to breakfast (our tradition) at a restaurant we had never been too. Oh we will be going back, it was sooooooo good. The best french toast I have ever had (sorry Mom.)

Then, a little shopping on Queen Anne Hill in the best weather I have ever been treated to on my birthday. (High 50's and sun in Seattle in Feb. - love it!)

Later we had cake- yes I made it, and happily so as the Duke cleaned the kitchen and cooked dinner. I love angle food cake and my lil sister told me how to make our traditional frosting with cool whip instead of cream. It's not as good, but better than not being able to eat it at all.

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Tzarina and Miles joined us and Tzarina and I knit while Miles and the Duke played Scrabble (thank goodness Miles likes it too, as Tzarina and I both detest the game.) I got one sleeve set in, and the underarm is perfect! Not too low, as is often the case. I will share my secrets when I get the sweater done.

In addition to all of this, An Ordinary Mom and another blogless friend brought me flowers, Lucy and Daddy Shark called to sing a lovely Happy B-Day duet to me, My parents and grandparents called on speaker to all sing together for me (and remind me that I am not getting any younger and they want grand kids ASAP- such love!)

It really was a great birthday, the best I can remember.

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Last but not least, here is the finished lace weight single from the Wensleydale Grafton Fibers batt I have been spinning. You would not believe the shine on this, it's so pretty. It will be set aside for some very special lace knitting.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Happy is our Desert Isle

I discovered a wonderful new site. LibriVox:

"LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books. We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project."

It's the greatest thing for knitters since Magic Loop!

I just finished listening to The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Davis Wyss. It is a classic for all the reasons that I love. Lots of detail, a continuous story, but not emotionally draining, great characters with depth, an unpredictable ending, and (I know not all good books have this, but it's important to me) and happy and resolved ending. Also, it was read entirely by one reader; thank you Mark E. Smith. It is an excellent presentation, he has a very expressive voice.

I also listened to the short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs, read by "Rainer," also recommended, if you like kind of creepy short stories, which sometimes I do, and Alice in Wonderland, which I didn't make it very far through, as there were many readers and some of them were not very good.

I will continue to use LibriVox, and let you know which I like and which I don't.

The Swiss Family Robinson proclaim that "happy is our desert isle." One of the many things that I liked about the book is that the father (I don't think he ever mentions his own name, as he is the narrator) builds his wife, Elizabeth, a spinning wheel and a loom on which she spins and weaves with with much enthusiasm, a woman after my own heart.

If I were stranded on a desert island, my first order of business. . .

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And what would I be searching and longing for?

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Some of this, maybe.

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A little of this.

Why yes, there was a sale at Hilltop today, how did you know? Don't worry, it's not all mine.

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I probably wouldn't be needing any of these, though, and I really like socks (especially newly finished ones) so hope I don't end up on a desert island.

BTW- Thank you to all of you who wished Princess P. and her new baby well, and sent condolances to my Duke and his family.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Shadow Knows (and so does Vivian!)

The Duke lost his scarf, and he needs a new one. You wouldn't think this would be a problem for someone living within the boarders of Yarnnation. HA! Nothing is ever that easy.

Here is the problem: Most men (including the Duke) like plain boring scarves, maybe a stripe or two, but nothing more, just plain and boring. Most Knitters (including the Duchess) do not have any desire to knit miles and miles of garter st or ribbing (just shoot me now!)

Oh, but compromise is the the essence of any good relationship.

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So how did it come to be that this acceptable scarf has continuous stripes, and further more, what are those two stitch markers doing in a simple stst scarf?

Ah, this scarf holds secrets. . .

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Now do you see?

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How about now?

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From this angel?

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It isn't a pattern out of Shadow Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro, but her very cool book did inspire it. Isn't it cool? After all, who can resist a good hidden secret, and a knit one, all the better.

And my other secret? Here it is, just needs sleeves (did I really say "just" and "sleeves" in the same sentence?)

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A close up of the stitch pattern which I really love. I can't wait to wear this.

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