Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Slippery Saturday

It's a quiet day around here, as few people are out and about. We've been under a winter storm warning all day, but only recently has it started to work it's magic--sleet, freezing rain, and other yuck. I much prefer the snow, as I know it won't bring down the trees and electric lines. And there's nothing worse than an over-confident Indiana driver on black ice. All the more reason to stay home, knit, and watch something on the dish or the dvd player.

I've promised pix of the felted totebag created with a double strand of Brown Sheep's Handpaint Originals (color HP50--English Garden) for a couple days now.
Here's the tote in full

and here's a close up of the felted fabric

I can't explain it, but the colors are WAY off on this one. They should be beautiful sapphire blues, fucshias, a little orange, and some green thrown in for good measure. The yarn is incredible to work with, the colors are amazing, and the finished project is quite striking. But these pictures are much more ROYAL blue and RED than the finished item. I'll have to have Matt work some magic with PhotoShop on them or take entirely new pictures. But at least you can see it now.

It did take 17 full hanks and a tiny smidgen of another to create the bag. I used the yarn doubled throughout, and each hank is only 88 yards, so they don't go very far. As I mentioned earlier, it is a special order for a friend who's an artist and lives out north of Indy. She makes beautiful and fun jewelry and we both have our finished art for sale at the Frank Basile Gift Shop at the Indianapolis Art Center, located in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indy. Broad Ripple is a fun, funky, and eclectic area on the north side of town. She and I also market our wares at the Broad Ripple Art Fair each Mother's Day weekend. This tends to be the last big hurrah for our goods until the weather cools off, as who shops for felted wool items in the heat of an Indiana summer?

In the top picture, the bag rests on a scarf I knitted out of yarn I hand-dyed myself a couple weeks ago. The base fiber is Cascade Yarns' Leisure in the bulky weight. Loyal blog readers may remember that Joe knit a hooded sweater for his neice out of the purple worsted weight version of this same yarn. It's a definite treat to work with, in my opinion, as the yarn is a boucle that's 50% pima cotton and 50% alpaca. Knit up it feels like a cushy terry towel, but nicer. And because of the alpaca, it's WARM. I dyed the yarn in the hank with a variety of colors with fall in my mind. I've gotten several compliments on the finished item, so I'm definitely going to dye more and knit more. Since it's so quiet around here today, I may pull out the dyeing stuff and hit the kitchen for a marathon later today, depending on what Matt's plans are for working vs. relaxation. We did get in 30 hanks of the Bulky Leisure last Friday, so I should get hoppin. The last dyeing I did was of this colorway and another that was featured in Matt's blog back in January on the 13th. My work is in the middle--the blond colors, as Matt calls them.

Off to go knit some more. I'm making a bunch of felted hats this weekend, as I've been on hat strike since January 1. I made entirely too many of them over the holidays, as they seemed to sell very well this year. It was all I could do to keep up with the stock as the holidays drew closer, so I haven't made any since then. Back on the production wagon for me. Write me, as I'd love to hear from you and read your feedback.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Round Two

I promised pics of my Wendy-socks project, and here it is, being inspected by the namesake of my blog (in case it wasn't obvious, Connor's the inspiration around here).

I really like the knitted fabric of these socks, as the colors are rambling along beautifully. This is a stash-buster project, as I've had the yarn for two+ years. It has tags on it from one the shops we patronized when living in Michigan for a year (living in.....sentenced in.......sentenced to......hmmmmm). Just kidding, speasley.

Matt made Connor suffer the indignity of wearing my socks. I wondered what was up when I heard him calling the dog and talking to her. Granted, him talking to things that don't talk back is no unique event around here, but this one stymied me, as I thought he was downstairs taking pictures of said socks. Including the haunting green eyes, this is a spooky picture. Poor thing, she needs some peanut butter.

I'm enjoying the pattern a great deal. The short row toe is just wizard! It fits amazingly well and I decided to make the second toe so I could work them both at once, so as to avoid the dreaded S^3 (Second Sock Syndrome). I miss my DPNs, and I'm not totally sold on this two circulars technique. But it does make for wonderfully portable sock projects.

Two points of interest in that picture. First is the Folk Shawls book. I've wanted to make something out of it for several years now (at least two), and I thought my first one would be Dolmovi. It's a Russian pattern, and it's the closest thing to a Lithuanian pattern in the book--since it's folk shawls, I thought I'd go for something close to my heritage. But I think the Aran Pocket shawl will win, as we ordered our first batch of Bartlett today, and that stuff is a wonderful substitute for the Black Water Abbey yarn mentioned in the pattern (and an incredible price point, in comparison). I do have a couple cones of Jaggerspun yarns that might become a Dolmovi in the near future--that or Moscow Nights from Two Old Bags. Or both!

Next you'll see Sally's The Knitting Experience. It has become a mini-bible around here, as I'm teaching beginning knitting to seven folks at a nearby community center, Matt's helping one of our good friends teach her aunt how to knit (Hi Christi, Hi Sherry! see you Tuesday), and we're having a sort of Sally Melville Trunk Show on the 23rd. We've made several garments out of the book, several of our customers have made things out of the book (go Eva! yay Helen!), and there's quite a buzz around here about many of the other projects inside. So we'll bring all interested parties together next Sunday to look through the book (we still have a couple copies in stock), let them see actual finished projects, and avail themselves of the specials we're running that day on materials purchased with the intent of making things featured in the book. So now you know what our plans are for next weekend......stop by!

Enjoy the pics, have a wonderful Friday night, and thanks for reading this far. I'm sure I'll post more tomorrow, as Matt did get pix taken of my felted totebag made from BS Handpaint Original HP50--English Garden. He said they aren't the best, as the bag absorbs the light. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow, if we get some daylight. Our forecast is for snow for the next two days, with a total of 3-5 inches of accumulation. Winter rages on around here, and I don't mind one bit. Having lived in the Deep South for awhile, I grew to miss snow. So bring it on!

Happy VD to you!

More later in the day, especially pictures of my Wendy's toe-up socks (see below) and my finished felted tote in handpainted mohair.

I had to post my results to Teresa's quiz link found here: How Do (they think I) Really Feel About Valentine's Day?

The Average Enthusiast Although you wouldn't be caught dead in a Cupid-covered sweater on February 14th, you are still somewhat nostalgic when it comes to Valentine's Day. For you, the holiday serves as the perfect opportunity to do something special for someone you care about, or simply spend time with family and friends. You value the themes of love and romance, but are careful not to go overboard when it comes to the materialism of the day. This year, why not kick things up a notch with a romantic recipe or Valentine's Day activity? Check out the following articles for some inventive ideas.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

You knew it wouldn't last long

Last evening we had a change in plans--Chi Chi's for dinner (marginal at best). Thai will have to wait until Friday, as I'm teaching beginning knitting tonight (see yesterday's entry) and tomorrow is our local knitting guild meeting, such that it is.

The good that came of it is that we went across the parking lot to Circuit City and purchased a snappy new digital camera. The new one is WAY better than our previous four-year-old Mavica. It has better imaging, all of the same features, more options on the lens, and also can use memory stick as well as floppy storage. And the price was about 1/3 what I paid for the previous one, so I'm happy. So is Matt, trust me. He was pining without a camera, and he did a good bit of playing with the new one last night, snapping all sorts of pictures of yarn and such.

So, you ask, what's in it for you? Why of course, a picture of MY fuzzy feet, felted and on my hooves, just this morning.


The careful eye will note that I'm wearing them inside out (purls on the green toe show), as the knit side is way fuzzier and very comfy to have inside. They're Noro Kureyon, but the colorway is discontinued, the ball labels were missing (this was straight outta stash), and I can't recall what the number was. Sorry, Theresa in Chicago. I did need just a smidgeon more for each foot, given that I'm covering up my 10 1/2 EE hooves with them, so the little nib of brown on the tip of one is leftover Tahki Donegal Tweed from my mom's Christmas present felted handbag (yes, it's still here, not sent....I'm tardy, ok?). The green toe on the other was leftover Kureyon of an undetermined lineage to finish that foot. So one ball per foot ALMOST makes it, especially if you have stash.

I'm all set for tonight. Handouts are ready, much chocolate is purchased, I brought a ton of finished (and appropriate) projects for inspiration, and I have eight pairs of needles and tons of cotton yarn for us to begin with. We'll learn some basics, practice stitches, and then start on making a dishcloth as a first project. Then, I'll spend some time with each individual, suggesting projects based on their interests, goals, and ambitions. That, I feel, is central to them getting what THEY want out of the class. If it's all dishcloths, that's fine. If it's a full-blown sweater out of Sally Melville's new book, all the better. If it's a hat or scarf from a simple pattern, I'm game. It's all up to THEM. I revel in the chance to share my passion for a hobby that's been with me almost as long as I've been alive (35 of my almost-40 years) and shows no signs of slowing down. That's what's important to me.

Should you have suggestions for a first project, please feel free to e-mail me at and I'm very interested in your ideas!

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

We're still looking for a new digital camera, so I apologize for the text-only site for now. YUCK!

Well, Sock-It-To-Me was a raging success, despite what Matt thinks. I've gotten plenty of feedback today that what we learned was challenging and very much a new technique for so many folks, but they also said they enjoyed it and liked stretching their brain.

What am I talking about? Working a toe-up sock starting with a short-row toe, of course. Wendy's pattern is wonderful, people were using amazing new yarns, and we had a big group. I was thrilled that so many turned out for the evening, and Matt had his hands full. Between people with WIDELY varying knitting skills (one participant started knitting last March and she did her entire toe, both sides, in a couple hours last night) and people talking way too much (guilty!), he tried hard and succeeded teaching a large group something that takes concentration. Hats off to Matt!

Tonight is quiet time at home. No knitting shindigs, no visitors to my knowledge, and no plans whatsoever (and also to my knowledge, no contract work pending for him). Well-deserved relaxation will be the order of the evening, including a nice Thai meal for us (I see nam sod to start, then spicey Thai basil chicken for dinner, followed by peaches and cream ice cream). Shhhhhhhh, don't tell him what's up!

Tomorrow it breaks wide open for me, as I have to drive an hour to teach a beginning knitting class at a community center in Franklin, Indiana. At last report (Friday), I had seven folks. No sitting down for me, but that's what I'm used to. I haven't taught beginning knitting before, as all of my previous classes were with semi-experienced knitters. This should be fun! I'm at odds with myself on whether to direct their project (boring) or let them pick what they want to make (more like Annie does with her folks). I strongly lean to the latter, but.................maybe open ended within reason? Here's a list of projects, pick one? What's your thoughts? I would love to hear from you, but time's short--it's tomorrow evening! EEEEEEEEEEEEEK

On the yarn front, we just got in our first shipment of Noro (just Silk Garden in 71 and 73--all of the Kureyon and Cash Iroha and much more Silk Garden is back ordered), some Sirdar (special orders). And a second, much larger box of Jamieson showed up. Truly amazing colors in the DK weight, and two colors in the Chunky. Combine that with the Jamieson 2 book, and I'm in heaven. But I need to remember, most of this should be offered for sale, and should NOT turn into projects of my choosing. Restraint, give me restraint!

Monday, February 10, 2003

The good, the bad, and the ugly............. We had a great time on Saturday with the Fuzzy Feet workshop. Myself and seven others showed up to knit and make fuzzies, and I'm ecstatic with their choices. Some normally conservative folks went for bright colors and eyelash (Rachel's 50s kitchen kitsch in aqua with black eyelash), while others did some WILD eyelash on more sedate colors (Margaret and her blue magic with FLASHY metallic eyelash--you GO Margaret), and still others went two-tone with theirs (April and her 220 two-tones) and some even altered yarn choices (like Christie and her Cascade Pastaza fuzzies). And others made solid fuzzies (Dolores, Eva, and Cathi). This is the good...... The bad is that the digital camera met an untimely demise early on Saturday. Matt was using it and it just shut down on him and wouldn't power back up. The floppy was lodged inside, so I did some primitive surgery, and out popped the floppy and a tiny microchip-looking thingy (that's a technical term). Bad news....dead Mavica. So no pictures for now, unless they were snapped before the death heave. Or we splurge for a new one (more likely) The ugly--suffice to say there's been unneeded/unwanted drama in our lives lately, mostly surrounding our business life. At the risk of sounding like Rodney King, why can't we all just get along? End of bile spewing. Back to Fuzzy Feet--I felted mine last night, at the urging of my friend Helen (Hi Helen!) who had to see my Noro Kureyon feet, and Christi brought hers by (the above-mentioned Pastaza ones) and she had to get more Lamb's Pride for a pair for a friend. Fuzzy Feet mania has swept over Bloomington, Indiana! Tonight is Sock-It-To-Me night, where a loosely-organized group gathers at a local Barnes & Noble to create socks. Some folks do their own thing (just knit on whatever they want, mostly socks) and the remainder work on a group-determined project. This month we're doing a toe-up sock, following the pattern at Knitty by the wooly and wonderful Wendy, including her three different toe-starting options. What an amazing resource! THANK YOU WENDY! Matt's leading the group, as he has the technique down pat by now. The group is hungry for this technique, as they want to learn how to work a sock in this manner to end the guessing involved in how much yarn it will take and when to stop the leg portion, particularly if they're working with Koigu. Yummmmmmmy. More later, but I'm happy that folks made wonderful fuzzy feet and we'll get info over to MamaKate shortly for her FFFA postings. I do love the knitting community and gladly embrace it as my chosen career path. I miss university-level teaching, but at least I still get to work with learners--just different subject matter!