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Archive for February 18th, 2007

Busy Away from My Desk

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

whartoncenter.jpg(Late addition to post: Photo of me in the mezzanine of Wharton Center before the concert. I’m wearing my dress from the Congo and my Party Stole. Thanks to Brian for taking the photo.)


Sunday was a full day. I woke up at 8:30am (incredibly unusual for me) and was already daydreaming of finishing the dye work I started Saturday, before I got out of bed.

Dyeing Tasks

When I dye yarns, I steam them to set the dye, then I leave them covered in towels to stay hot as long as possible (so they don’t run in the wash later). So after a long dyeing day, I wake up the next morning and first thing rinse out the yarns that have come to room temperature.

The rinse is not about color. Acid dyes (they require a mild acid such as vinegar to create a proper pH for color-bonding to happen) do something called “exhausting the dye.” This means that if you put a reasonable amount of dye and a reasonable amount of fiber together in a solution with the right acid pH balance, and you give it enough heat and time, the water will turn entirely clear. The dye is totally bonded to the fiber permanently and no color is left in the water at all. Very cool! Kids call it “magic.”

I instead rinse my yarns to take out any residual detergent and/or citric acid (I use this instead of vinegar, but it still has an unusual aroma I try to minimize… Kool-Aid also has citric acid in it). Since I have been letting my yarns “heat sink” overnight I have not had any trouble with dye bleeding in the morning rinse. It’s really worth the wait.

Once the yarn is rinsed (in a utility sink), I spin out the water using my clothes washer’s spin cycle, then put the yarns out on sweater-drying racks to dry. In this cold weather (with the heater blowing) they dry in less than a day; in humid spring weather I have to point a box fan at them and it takes however long it takes.

Gauge Woes

While waiting for yarns to cool and later dry, I am knitting. I am struggling (no surprise) to get the gauge I need with a yarn I’ve never used before. I can get its stated gauge but I’m making socks and the gauge needs to be tighter. On the second try I got it much tighter, now I need to work in the in-between needle sizes and cross fingers I can make this work.

If I can get 5.5st/inch with size 3.0mm needles and 7.25st/inch with size 2.25mm, then I need to find my 2.5mm and 2.75mm needles and hope one of them will work out to 6.25st/inch. (At these sizes, US needles are labeled differently depending on the brand, for example 3mm are size 2-1/2 in Brittany needles but size 3 in other brands.)

Photos and Patterns

partystolecropcorrectgamma12.jpgI am also working on the text/images for my current batch of patterns under development. I went out in the snow wearing a silk sweater, silk skirt and the Party Stole which will soon live at Threadbear, so that Brian could take a final photograph for me (brrr!). He took 14 shots and one is working out fine. Have I mentioned lately what a great sport Brian truly is? The best.

Of course, my primary expertise with PhotoShop is with web graphics… I’m very comfortable with that angle, but it took me hours to figure out how to get this photo to print well on paper in my pattern. It looked great on screen, of course!

Miscellaneous Knitting

I finished a pair of heavy slipper-footies a few days ago, all except for closing up one heel. I finished one legwarmer which will be a sample. I cast on for a sock for me in Bingo. I don’t remember where I got this yarn, it’s a sort of hot pink/magenta, and I know Threadbear carries many colors of this yarn but not this pink.

I’m happy to have the yarn, at any rate. Bingo makes great socks, I’m wearing some green ones from 2005 (same color as my brother Eric’s pair from 2006) right now.

The Concert

I knit the pink Bingo when we were at Wharton Center tonight, before the show and during intermission. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is just plain amazing. Seven voices and the rhythms which can be made by humans standing on stage, nothing else. I cried plenty, as predicted. That was a pretty great substitute for a Florida vacation since we just couldn’t make one fit in this year.

I sort of like having a pair of socks as a reminder of a good concert. I remember a pair I knit during a James Taylor concert a few years back… they have been darned a few times but are still wearable.

Work is Waiting

The yarn is dry now, but it is almost bedtime. I have 35 skeins to wind and label, and photograph for you/my online shop.

I guess I will be winding yarn all day Monday, since it is a holiday here. I do not teach computers tomorrow, though I will be helping a friend install her new printer. Other than that, it’s another long day in ColorJoy Studio Heaven. I am not complaining. I LOVE my long days alone at home! I get so much done!