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February 2007

The Stuff of Dreams

Yesterday, 1/30/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 35 high, 17 low (Above freezing AND clearer, cleaner air on the horizon?)

I have quite a love affair with sock yarn.  When I think of my rich, ripe stash a bit of Shakespeare pops into my head. This is "…such stuff as dreams are made on…”  a big pile of yarn is truly the stuff of dreams, but it’s the stuff of dreams that come true.   A bin of sock yarn isn’t just sock yarn or the potential for socks. It is fingering weight yarn in luscious color mixes that can become hats, mitts, gloves, shawls, baby sweaters, ...anything!  Stash is full of potential, full of promise and good things to come.  In an effort to lift the mood, as we deal with the last days of gray smog, I decided a bit of redecorating was in order.

Alittlebitofgreenisgoodforanygrrl Brightandbeautifulcolorsmakeanyhomehappi It's been some time since we've bought anything new for our home.  A collection of yarn shouldn't be hidden away in bins when it is so full of life, color and potential.  Color and texture add a bit of brightness to the drab, smoggy days.

AvasefullofwoolyflowerslivensaroomBrightcolorwithsubtletonesisanicefashion The best way to enjoy any collection is to add it to your daily surroundings.  It shouldn't be locked away in the safety deposit box or hidden from sight in closets and drawers. With this lovely collection of yarn  in plain sight, ideas and inspiration should abound.  Yarn is longer lasting than flowers and more inspiring than any tchotchke

Spiceuparoomwithcolorandtexture In this gloomy, long lasting, gray winter, it is best to bring bright color into ones home and to sit in front of it daily as a way to get rid of the blues.  Another way to enjoy this new look in your home is to pick up a set of needles, wind somthing colorful and beautiful into a ball and knit it up.  This way you can have your yarn and knit it too.  Fiber is very good for the soul.


Spinning and Plying

Yesterday, 1/29/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 31 high, 6 low (Today will be the 19th day below freezing, which is the 2nd longest period since records began.)

Mymountainviewobscurdedbypolutionandbada_1 Sunday night we were told that Salt Lake City has the WORST air in the country right now.  The cold air is trapped and can't leave, so everything, every emission from cars and industry, every breath you take, every last burp from your hubby, every-everything is still here and isn't going away.  If only we could live in the mountains...but that's a bit beyond our budget.  There could be a bit of a reprieve on Thursday and the temps could be slightly warmer by the weekend.  It must be 38 or higher for someone to win the contest, so keep your fingers crossed it will happen soon!

Credit must be given where due and I would like to thank Miriam and Susan for Kitchenering the toes of Smith’s socks.  There is a block in my brain that keeps the ability to remember, understand or do a Kitchenered toe from sinking in.  I know the mantra and have had the technique, and every trick known, explained to me over and over.  Susan has a method, she calls fool proof (she hadn't met me at the time), and I'm willing to give it a try next time.  She was able to explain how it works in such a way that I didn't hear the usual 'waa-waa-waa-waa', like a Charlie Brown character, and may have understood more of what she said than before.  We'll see. Thanks Susan, but I still don't see how you can Kitchener and carry on a conversation at the same time.   

Myblueheavenlyroving One thing I do understand is how much I love Emmylou and how much more I love the Oberon roving I bought from Anne.  The color, texture and lovely fluff of this roving is creating such a soft, lofty and luscious yarn.  It tells me it want to be a warm, three ply hat to warm my ears during long walks with Moxie.  This must be what a cloud would feel like if you could spin it. It's hard to think of anything else with something this yummy on the wheel.


Jessie, a good enabler, fiber pusher dyer and spinner, nominated me to show the difference between a three ply and plyed chained singles. I prefer 'chained singles' to Navajo Plying, as it is descriptive of the technique, and there is also a question as to the origin of this method.  Interweave has a very good article, in PDF form, by Dodie Rush and you can find more info by using Google. In my fiber stash was a beautiful wool roving, Delphinium, from Amy’s shop.

Delphiniumfromamysshop The contrast in color made it perfect to show off the different methods and how they create different effects.  I had fun spinning up a couple of samples. On the left is the three ply yarn. Three singles were spun and then plied together as one.  The color twists in the same way as a barber pole with the separate strands twisting around an  'invisible core' to create yarn.  The yarn on the right was created in the chained singles technique.  With this method you can ply a section of one color by controlling the length of the loops. You have more control over the end result and can keep colors in sections.  Both methods create a good three ply yarn.

Threeplyyarnwithplyedsinglesonright_1 click to enlarge

Plying chained singles creates a little more texture in the yarn and it is easy to over-twist (at least I found it so).  Both methods of plying could be used in one project for 'different but the same' effects.  Spinning three ply yarn uses up bobbins and all the singles must be spun before plying.  Chained plying can be executed after one bobbin is finished and the empty bobbin can be reused for the next skein.  I doubt there would be any time savings from one technique to the other and they should both create the same amount of yardage from the roving.


I feel like such an inexperienced 'expert', but it was fun to spin in both methods and share with you the results.

Real Man's Survivial Guide

Yesterday, 1/28/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 31 high, 7 low

ValleyairfromthehigherelevationsisthickuBlueblueskiesofsnowbirdinjanuary What does a real man do when the air of January is (in)edible, unhealthy and unbreathable?  He follows the suggestion of Utah's Motto "Life Elevated" and takes off for higher elevations.  He fills his lungs with clean, crisp mountain air and enjoys the bright blue sky at Snowbird.

ArealmanhasabigolheapofbreakfastArealmanwearswarmbootsandhemshisownpants A real man eats a big ol' pile of hardy breakfast, with strong black coffee (ok, with an added bit of cream and a touch of sugar), and stares with love into the eyes of his charming and talented wife. He knows the value of all things good and has worn his favorite cap, from the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, for years.  A real man knows how to dress for the cold, wears warm boots and pants he hemmed himself ( his secret is iron -on seam tape).

A real man wears warm wool socks, hand knit by his very talented and loving wife. 


He also knows just how special his real socks are.  He is a real smart man.


Pattern: Garter Rib Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: Jessie’s Superwash Worsted from her A Piece of Vermont Store
Color: Black Walnut
Needles: Size 4 DPN Bamboo
Time to Knit: 1-01-07 - 1-25-07

Weather Unchanged

Yesterday, 1/27/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 31 high, 9 low (more of the same)

It may be colder where you are and I do realize it is colder in many places, BUT our air does move, is inverted (a picture shows how thick the air is!) because of a high pressure that isn't going anywhere. Day after day the mountains and sun are obscured and the air feels colder than the temperatures because of condensation from the snow.  We are on day 16 of at or below freezing and will approach the record of 24 days before there is relief.  We need snow, we desperately need snow.  The mountains are bereft. We need the snow for tourism and for drinking water.  So, there you have it...why this is so 'bad'.   

Twisted Knitters Update

Yesterday, 1/26/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 28 high, 8 low (longer sigh)

In the interest of being a good KAL host it's time (past time!) to give you an update on what's happening with the Twisted Knitters.   First up, my sock!  I have neglected the little baby while finishing Smith's socks and by being distracted by Claudia Handpaint socks. I thought about giving this handspun sock some attention over the weeknd, BUT (oh this part makes me happy) I'm putting off working on it until February (not that far away!) as it will be the perfect project for Project Spectrum!   This pair of socks is going to wear like iron! I've knit the foot one needle size too small and will go up for the cuff...just to save my hands and sanity.


Now on to some of the TK highlights!

Madame Purl made the most beautiful pair of fraternal twin socks.  She dyed, spun and knit the socks! Excellent work Madame.

Abigale dyed and spun for this  pair of socks and then asked if there was a limit to the number of projects.  She dyed and spun the most beautiful yarn for her second project, too.  Have you decided what to knit Abi?

My good friend Laura spun her yarn and then dyed it.  To show she is a natural wonder at spinning, it was all accomplished on a spindle!  She then knit the most beautiful Argosy ever!

Utah grrl Lauren  knit energized singles socks that turned out beautifully.

Judy spindle spun the yarn for her fabulous Twined Hat.

Marcia , who has been an inspiration, enabler, and guide to me as I learn to spin, has spun the most beautiful, soft tweedy yarn.  She thinks a hat will be its future.

Jessie has left an encouraging on almost every post from a Twisted Knitter.  Thank you Jessie for your help and guidance through our spinning, dyeing and knitting adventure.

Wendy S. must have been the first TK to create yarn.  What have you decided to knit Wendy?

There are many other TKs dyeing, spinning and knitting up projects, but many more of you have disappeared.  This KAL will end on March 31st, so it's now time to get busy!  Have fun! 

This and That with a Dash of Randomness

Yesterday, 1/25/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 30 high, 9 low (redundancy continues)

Thank you for the wonderful anniversary wishes!  We opted for a quiet night at home after going to a concert on Wednesday night (and public knitting).  Tonight we'll head to our favorite Italian place for a celebratory dinner.

MeknittinginpubliclineatconcertMyhappyspringsocksWednesday night we attended a 'once in a life time' concert, a retrospective of the 1960-70s folk music scene in SLC. We saw the likes of Utah (Bruce) Phillips and Rosalie Sorrels, along with many other musical wonders that got their start here in Utah.  If you don't know Utah or Rosalie you really should find out more, as they left Utah and became well known in the folk scene around the country.  The height of the folk era was a bit before our time (the concert hall was full of more gray and bald heads, and beards too, than I have ever seen in one room), but we have long enjoyed the music. I knit while waiting in line and through the first half of the concert.  This sock is all the knitting progress I've made this week! Time for a heel. Sorry the picture isn't better, Lucia.

JessieyarnisperfectfixThe yarn arrived on Thursday from Jessie, so I will be finishing up Smith's socks this weekend. The new yarn is such a perfect match that I can finish the toe without frogging the first sock! It's slightly warmer than Black Walnut and there should be plenty in the skein to knit a pair of socks (for me.  Smith isn't happy with my decision to knit 2 for him and 5 for me, but he will survive). With little time to knit this month (how can I be so busy?), it will feel good to finally finish something and a photo shoot is a good excuse to head up the canyon this weekend in search of warmer air (ah, the mountains). In the interest of full disclosure, the sock and 'fix' yarn are sitting atop the soft and incredibly wonderful roving I also purchased from her. (Click on 'roving' only if you have the stomach to read a chicken massacre-e story which comes before the roving picture.)

Hazydayinjanuarynothingnew_1This is what the sky (or lack thereof) is like this week.  During the middle of the day the mountains hide behind the curtain of smog.  The picture is a little deceiving, as I'm close to the range and it looks better than it is.  The morning lows have been 10F or lower (they may warm slightly) and the weather will change very little (i.e. improvement) until the first full week of February (if then).  Many of you are still in the running for the contest and I thank the rest of you for being optimistic in hoping for warmer weather before now.  Hope continues that the *evil* Claudia will not be right about her guess of March 1st.  That would be completely perverse of Mz. Mother Nature (and we know she can be perverse).

Moxie and I want to wish you all a very happy weekend.  It's finally FRIDAY!


The Ups and Downs of Sock Knitting

Yesterday, 1/23/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 28 high, 12 low (again, not much change)

(Taken from Carole, as it just seems to fit. Hey, Grrlfriend, you haven't had a G,B&U post for awhile.)

The Good

Knitting with Jessie’s hand dyed superwash yarn.
  The color is Black Walnut and appears to be shades of brown.  But, as with a picture painted in the pointillism technique, there are dozens of shades, tints and tones that make up the overall effect. Mauve, tan, orange, green, gray and many others appear in individual stitches as the yarn wraps around the needle.  The socks have  been very entertaining and Smith is thrilled they will soon be his.


The Bad
Running out of yarn.
Sadly, with only a toe to go I am dangerously close to running out of yarn.   I made the leg a bit longer (as Smith likes them) and I may have lost a bit of yarn in the tangled disaster my ball winder created last week.   Jessie has come to the rescue with a slightly contrasting yarn that will save the this ends on a good note.

The Ugly
Prettymidsummernightstrforbloominfeet_1 I've got that 'ugly' feeling. Amanda’s Mr. sent out the Bloomin' Feet matches over the weekend and it wasn't very long before I decided on a yarn and pattern for my pal.  The perfect yarn for the project is Midsummer Night STR, a color I named and then won, from Blue Moon during the first Rockin' Sock Club.  I feel a little bit 'ugly' about my feeling of desire for it, and even though I could buy the same color later (or even now for my pal), that seems a bit silly.  I have dozens of skeins in my sock yarn stash and parting with one isn't going to hurt me in anyway.  Attachment isn't Zen. I'll be showing progress on the sock from time to time, but won't be talking about details much as this is a small swap with only a few participants.

The Good (Must end on a high note.)


Starting new socks (for me!) in a happy mix of spring time colors. This is the first time I've knit with Claudia’s Hand Paint (Freesia) and it won't be the last.  The colors are some of my favorites and they are so pretty mixed together. The pattern is Lace Rib from Sensational Socks, but instead of toe up like the book suggests, my sock is cuff down.  This sock lifts my spirits with every stitch.

More GoodPliedsinglesofsatisfaction_1
Learning new spinning techniques.
There was just enough Satisfaction leftover from the three ply yarn to practice 'plying chained singles' (PDF) (aka Navajo plying).  It was easy to get into a rhythm and in no time the leftovers were yarn!  It's a small skein but it was worth doing just to see the differences between the two technique in both process and finished product.  With just a bit more practice this will be a great way to ply colorful yarns. After seeing Kelly’s post and the many beautifully colors of CMF spun into sock yarn, I may never buy ready made sock yarn again.  Yeah, I don't believe it either.


Angela asked how I would pick a winner if more than one person guessed the same date in the 'weather contest' (see Saturday's post).  If more than one person has the right date then the random number generator will be put to work.  Or maybe I'll just put the names in a hat and have Smith pull one (or two) out.  At this point it looks as if the warming trend will not happen this week.  Keep guessing!

Spinning Satisfaction

Yesterday, 1/22/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 27 high, 10 low (not much change)


Oh yes, spinning with Emmylou certainly brought a lift to my weekend.  Not only did I finish up the third bobbin of Satisfaction...I PLYED the three singles into one yarn!  This was quite a learning process and took loads of time.  When I first tried to ply the three strands together the singles got all tangled up and process turned out to be less than satisfactory.  So, I stopped, made a small skein (which looked okay) and then ran a few errands. 

Singleswrappedaroundlegsoftableforplying As I was driving around, and thinking of spinning (what else would fill my head?), an idea hit me on just how to handle the singles.  When returning home I set a small table in middle of the room and put the Lazy Kate (with THREE bobbins full of beautiful yarn), on the other side of it.  One single looped around each side of the legs and the third went up the middle, between the legs. The method kept the singles seperated so that I could handle them better while plying.  I do realize this may be a very amateurish way to deal with the situation...but a grrls gotta do what a grrls gotta do!

Closeupofthe3plysatisfactionyarn_1 It was so much easier to keep the singles from twisting around themselves, or each other, and control them as they spun around the 'invisible core' while playing.  By the time I was three-quarters of the way through I had fairly good control of the situation and spent the afternoon at the wheel until one bobbin ran out. It took 2 weeks to spin all three bobbins and several hours to ply them together.  It is a long involved process, but very rewarding.

My arms and legs were tired as I wrapped the yarn onto the niddy noddy.  Three plies made a huge difference in the end product, as the yarn was more even in texture and weight, plus more stable and firm to the touch.  I was awed by the process, the end product and the knowledge that I.DID.THIS. 


375 yds, apx.14 WPI (and I'm thrilled!)  I do love spinning.

Lifted (May Be TMI)

Yesterday, 1/21/2007 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT: 27 high, 9 low

What's a grrl to do when her spirits need a lift?  There are several things that came to mind on Saturday morning.  First was to spin.  I did just that and finished up the third bobbin of CMF Satisfaction, which was a very satisfying moment.  The next thought was to head out for a work out...exercise is good for what ails.  But, that thought was quickly set aside as the much needed under*garment broke a strap! Crap! 

Agrrlsgottahavefununderneathitall_1 What's a grrl to do when her spirits need a lift and the universe just told her it's time for an foundation overhaul?  Go SHOPPING!  Yes, a trip to the LYS would have lifted the spirits, but done little to lift the 'grrls' (as Laurie calls them).  So, it was off the dreaded mall, a place I haven't stepped foot in for well over a year.  A very helpful clerk spent an hour and half with me, brought at least 18 (or so) items for me to try, and finally found the perfect thing (or two).  Just to make sure that the mood stays as lifted as the 'grrls'...I went all out and bought the prettiest one, loaded with frills.  Sheer brown with green embellishments...what's not to love!  (One in pink with black trim and second, all lace in nude, will also soon be mine.)  Oh and the proper work-out wear was also purchased, so I made it to the gym. 

What's a grrl do when her spirits need a lift? Read the guesses to my contest! (Post below.) You can enter a guess until the warming trend actually comes our way.  It snowed a bit on Saturday and that was a nice change from the haze. A sifted layer of new white powder covered the dreary landscape.  The below normal cold remains, however.   

Notesfromfriendshelpliftthespirits What's a grrl to do when her spirits need a lift?  Read MAIL from a dear friend and talk to other friends on the phone.  This grrl loves her grrlfriends from near and far.  Thanks Norma for bringing a lift to my day and to my life, too.  (You all do, actually.)

CherylandlarryatthesilverforkonsundayTheinversionliftedabovethepeaksbutnotbel_2 What's a grrl to do when her spirits need a lift?  HEAD up...up the canyon! Sunday dawned a little brighter as the storm had slightly lifed the inversion.  It had been several weeks since our last trip to SF and we knew the trip was a must if the spirits were to continue on their way up!   Our spirits were lifted even further, when in walked Cheryl and Larry, only a few minutes after we started to eat.  Talking to pals, breathing the clear, crisp air (that was still warmer than the valley air) and seeing the clear blue sky was a big lift to our spirits.