small sample of my crazy quilt embroidery

About Me

I am a consumate crafter. I knit, quilt both sane and crazy, scrapbook, bead, mosaics and any other thing I can think of along the way. Someday I also hope to do real glass jewelery and stained glass but those have to wait until I have room and more time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Ready for Fall, Are you?

I am ready cause I finished Seneca!! Well, except for blocking and the possible overdyeing. But she is sitting in the sink right now, so blocking will shortly commence and the overdyeing? Well, we will see. I still think she is the color of one of my favorite comfort foods, hamburger gravy. The kind you serve over mashed potatoes. Yummy stuff. To eat, but not to look at, colorwise. But others, who have only seen her on-line, assure me it is a pretty grey.

I have tried this sweater on and it fits me wonderfully. It is a well designed pattern, made to nicely hug a girls curves. Which means waist shaping and short rows. The waist shaping is just increases and decreases. Elementary school stuff. Short rows now, are the devil's handywork. Not that they are hard. I've tried every version out there and no, they are not hard to execute. They just don't ever look good. Ever....So I will keep trying any new technique that comes along and see if someday I don't find a way I like a little more. Cause, boy, they do make a sweater fit like a sweater should. I also have not yet, found a way to get my underarms to look just right. These turned out pretty well for once. But not till I fussed with them a bit. First thing was to really tighten up the armhole stitches that were going to go on the holders for later joining. I mean really tighten. Then when you put them back on the right sized needle to do a 3 needle bind off from the inside, you have to work to get them on. And the extra yarn comes from the last stitches on the body section. So that tightens up that side on both the sleeve and body. But that leaves the side where you have your yarn tail still a bit loose. You kind of fix that by pulling the tail as tight as you can when you start the 3 needle bind off. But still I always manage to have a bit of a hole at the join. So I try to pull any looseness in the stitches away from the gap and out into the body of the peice until the looseness is distributed over many stitches instead of just 1 or 2. I actually like knitting sweaters from the top down just a little bit better because it allows you to pick up an extra stitch on each side of the armhole seam when you are picking up stitches to knit on down the body or sleeves. But enough of all this. I am not good at any tutorial stuff. Better left for those who are. Just know that this sweater is a lovely knit and I may even make it again. Maybe I will try to re-engineer it to be top down.

Next up on the agenda is my wonderful woad dyeing success. I have only once messed with using any kind of indigo and that was a chemical vat with indigo granules. That was fun but I wanted to see if I could get that same blue with something I could grow myself. So into my dye garden this year went both woad and indigo. I decided to go with woad first. The leaves are larger and faster to pick was the only reason. So I stuffed a 1 gallon glass jar full of the leaves. Then poured nearly boiling water just to cover the leaves and left it sit for 1 hr.

The liquid was then a sherry brown and barely cool enough to touch. I strained off the liquid and squeezed the leaves to get out all I could. Then into that went 1 Tablespoon of ammonia. The next step is kinda fun. You get to pour this liquid back and forth between 2 containers, to incorporate air, til it starts to get frothy, blue and has a coppery sheen to it. It didn't take long at all for this to happen to mine. I probably should have kept up the aeration for a bit longer according to my directions but I really didn't have the best containers and I was getting sloppy and losing some of my dye liquor. Besides it was blue and I was a bit over excited at this point!!

Next step requires you keep this liquid at a very stable precise temperature of between 100 and 120F. So I made a water bath out of a large shallow stock pot, put in my glass jar and kept my electric stove on its lowest setting. I checked the temp every 10 minutes or so, and turned off the stove if it started to get a bit high. Then you add 1 Tablespoon of Rit color run remover. Stir very gently and cover. The dye remover reduces the liquid, meaning it removes all the oxygen. It takes the indigo blue, which is not water soluble and changes it into indigo white which is. The liquid is now supposed to go yellow green on you in the space of an hour or so. And if not, add more color remover and wait. So of course, mine stays blue. Even after a second dose.

But my reducing agent was old, from last year. And this stuff is a bit fragile so I think it was very weak. But I threw in a ready sample, let it sit for 10 minutes, pulled it out carefully and it was a sickly yellowy green, swiftly changing to blue!!! OMG, what a feeling that was. Pretty close to orgasmic I think!! Well, for a natural dyer it was! So in went my intended yarn for 10 minutes. It came out the same sickly green, swiftly turning blue. Without a partner, standing right there with the camera you can not get a good picture of this color change. In fact, I have not even seen one to speak of in a dye book or on line. But beleive me, it is cool to watch. I was really thrilled with the blue but felt it needed to be just a tad darker, so it went back in for another 10 minutes. Just about perfect that time. But I still had a lot of dye left so I threw in some shetland I had laying around and got a gorgeous blue on that also. Wish I had some previously dyed yellow to throw in so I would get green. But next time, which there will be very soon. As I still have a ton of indigo and a bit of woad left. And now I know woad will have a permanant place in my dye garden. I will just be careful to keep the self seeding under control so it does not attain noxious weed status here, as it has in many other states.

Not sure what project will be next. I wanted to immediately start another sweater but not all the yarn has arrived and will need dyed once it does. But I have lots of leftover Cascade 220 in that hamburger gravy color to use up. And I have an idea just how to do that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Big Black Racing Machine

Do you have any idea how long I have waited to drive one of these around the track?? Years, many years, way to many years. But I finally took the plunge. Thanks to a 20% off coupon at Bed, Bath and Beyond, a rebate sale by Kitchenaid, and a $70.00 rebate check from another transaction I was able to get this at about 1/2 the impact on my wallet than usual. My worst problem was trying to decide between the Artisan at 5qts and the Professional at 6 qts. The motor on the Pro is also a bit stronger. Of course, there is the pesky fact that one cost $100 more and does not come in cool colors like the Artisan. But after weighing all the facts I decided on this pretty black racing machine. Now I could have gone all girly and gotten blue, yellow, pink, ect. But what if my kitchen changes moods down the road a bit? Hopefully this machine will still be purring and black will never be out of style. So far I have managed to make bread dough quite nicely. With great end result, not having depended on my wimpy old lady arm muscles for kneading. The guide book firmly states to not go over 6 cups of whole wheat flour in this size mixer bowl and beleive me, they know what they are talking about. My recipe calls for between 6-7 and as soon as I put a tiny bit more than 6, the dough started crawling up over the top of the hook. So I am going to try another recipe next time that makes just one loaf of bread. Cause I think I was really a bit shy on the flour with this one. But still-NO KNEADING ON MY PART!! How cool is that?? And I haven't even gotten the chance to whip cream or eggs yet.

This is what else has been going on in the kitchen this week. Tomato slaughter. Lots and lots of tomatoes. This was a 30+batch that yeilded 4 qts of rich sauce that got frozen. I didn't even bother to take pics the day I did 60+ and got 6qts finished product. But I think I am about thru with the red guys. Still gots lots of pumpkin to do without a great system worked out yet to get it done. Everything is too small or too messy. But I am moving on to another idea tomorrow. We will see if I grow behemoths like this again next year.

The sweater is progressing. But it just looks all frumpy and lumpy. Not picture worthy at all. But I am not afraid the end product will be awful, rather I am convinced it will be all that and a bag of chips!! After all, Jared told me. Right?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On to the knitting!!

AS promised, I am back, sooner than later. This time I am opening with a picture of just some of the tomatoes that I need to process tomorrow. I will probably just make them into tomato sauce. Although some are nice enough to leave as diced tomatoes. But seriously, don't you love all the color in these? Yes, some have a tad more ripening to do, but mostly all the color differences come from the variety itself. I have Cherokee Purples, Striped Romans, Cour d'Bue, Yellow Pear and I think some garden variety Big Boys thrown in for good measure. The variety that has done the best for me this year are the striped Romans. Will definitely plant those again next year. And the yellow pear. But for the rest, I think I will go with all new varieties. And keep picking the best each year til I have a full orchestra of tomato colors, flavors, styles and sizes.

And now on to some knitting. Now I warn you ahead of time. This is not nearly as colorful. Not at all. In fact, much bland, in my opinion. But this yarn was on sale. A good sale, a darned cheap sale. So I bought it. My plan at the moment is to finish said sweater. Wear it once and decide. Is it too boring? Or does it look great in the throes of a dull dreary winter. If it is indeed too boring, it will get dyed as a garment. Probably something in a deep bricky red color to cover up the oatmeal gray. But time will tell. On to more pertinent details. First this sweater was designed by Jared Flood and its name is Seneca. Seneca is half way down this page. He designed it to be knit in Classic Elite's Lush yarn, which is a wool/angora blend. But I think that whipping this up in Cascade 220 is still a worthwhile option. It will for sure need to be worn with something underneath, if sensitive skin is an issue at all. Mine is getting a bit more that, all the time.

So far I have gotten the body knit up to the underarm join. I am well into sleeve #1. The sideways cables on this sweater are easy peesey to knit but will demand a really good blocking to set them into the fabric the first time. Jared mentions that, which for sure made me feel better when I could not get my hem to lie flat for the pictures I was trying to take.

Maybe it is because I have knit on some small gauge yarn this last year, but this project seems to be going pretty fast. Of course, when knitting a raglan from the bottom down, you are working on the smaller rows of the project. Just join the body and arms to start knitting that yoke and then you get some long rows to knit!! But when you get to that part on this sweater you get to throw in some interest following the 2 different cable charts. And you get to do those decrease rows every so often.

And yes, I did get all that pumpkin processed. Some went into freezer after much prep work. Pumpkin has a lot of water in the flesh. And to get it to something akin to what comes out of the can made by Libby, you really have to work at it. I think I have the process down to an art now tho and can hopefully breeze thru the other 20 giants out there. I also used some to make Daisy some dog treats. And if you throw some into her dog bowl along with her food she will scarf it down and lick the bowl. It is supposed to be really good for dogs, just as long as she doesn't start turning orange from all that beta-carotene!!!