Knitting the Light Fantastic

Knitting, spinning, dyeing and other crafty goodness

Archive for May, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

Posted by notthatkat on May 28, 2007

For those of you in the US, Happy Memorial Day. For those in the rest of the world, Happy Monday. I worked today, but we were pretty slow, so it wasn’t too bad.

Curtain Report
I made much progress this weekend on the curtain and am down to my last dozen rows on the last lace repeat. The stokinette part should whiz right by, assuming I do not do stupid things like drop a stitch and not notice for 4 inches, like I did on the first one. Unfortunately, these curtains do not make for very interesting blogging as they aren’t photogenic in progress. I will post photos when they’re done and blocking, as well as installation shots, but until then, you’ll just have to take my word on it.

Gimlet Socks
The Gimlet socks are past the toes and all on two circs now:

Gimlet socks

This is my first time making thong toe socks, and I chose to do them toe up because their intended recipient has much larger feet than I and I don’t want to run out of yarn. They look a bit like Franken-socks, but they fit well, and she is happy:

Gimlet Socks

The soap is cut into bars and curing:

Cut Soap

On the lower right is the hot processed soap while the cold processed bars are the lighter ones to the left and on top. The cold processed soap will need a good 4 weeks to finish becoming soap. It was maybe 70% done when we unmolded and cut, but it’s still pretty harsh and I wouldn’t recommend using it right now, unless you like burning skin. But once it’s done, there is nothing like it.

The hot processed soap can theoretically be used at any time, but I like to let it cure about a week to let it dry and give any unreacted areas a chance to do their thing.  It looks rougher because it was semi-solid when it went into the mold (about the consistency of Vaseline) and was cooling/solidifying as we were putting it in the mold.  I could trim off the rough edges, but after a couple uses, it’ll smooth itself out, and that’s all good soap there.

I used sheets of plastic canvas to allow air circulation and turn the bars every day or two for the first week or so, then a couple times a week for the remaining cure period.

Customer Service
To my way of thinking, what separates a great yarn enabler retailer from a merely good one often comes down to customer service. It’s (relatively) easy to take and fill orders. It’s what happens when there’s a problem that really shows what a company is made of.

A while back, I showed you the yarn I got for my Sockapalooza pal. I had settled on the Cherry Tree Hill solid yarn and a pattern and started winding the skein. As I wound I found a splice in the yarn:

CHH splice

Not great, but close enough to one end that I can probably just start after that. Then I felt another. And another. And several more. I was less than half way through winding when I had decided that I could not use this yarn for socks intended for a gift for someone else. By the time I was done, I knew that I didn’t want to use it at all, and emailed Allison at Simply Socks Yarn Company and told her about the problem.  She contacted me within the hour to let me know that she would, of course, replace the skein.  Furthermore, she had contacted Cherry Tree Hill and they wanted the skein back to determine the source of the problem.  The yarn is on its way back to Vermont, and a replacement skein should come my way shortly.  Allison’s quick response and clear desire to fix the problem turned a disappointing experience into one of the more pleasant customer service experiences I’ve had in a long time.  I will certainly do business with her again.

Since I had already shifted mental gears to the Fleece Artist yarn and a different pattern that works better with a variegated yarn, I will probably go forward with that once the Gimlet socks are done, and make myself a pair of Embossed Leaves from the CTH yarn.

Unfortunately, we lost 2 of the 4 kittens.  They were the smallest, weakest two, and they just faded over the first few days.  Mama Cat didn’t seem to have a lot of milk, and even though we were supplementing with bottle feedings, I’m not sure if they were just not getting enough nutrition, or if the time Mama Cat was in labor/placental separation/lack of oxygen was a factor.  The other two were doing well when they left our hospital on Friday, and we did send milk home.

Anita asked why she was in labor so long.  Frankly, I don’t know.  This is not a problem I see very often in cats, and most cases of dystocia (difficulty/inability to give birth)  I see are in cats that have a prior history of pelvic fractures or traumatic injury.  This cat was semi-feral, so I had very little history on her, but her pelvis did not appear narrowed at the time of surgery.  I am assuming that it was an issue of inadequate contractions, as she had not moved any of the kittens down into the birth canal.  The question is somewhat moot, as I spayed her while I had her in surgery.




Posted in animals, soapmaking, sockapolooza, socks, WIP, work | Leave a Comment »

Knitting, raw fleeces, and a bit of soap

Posted by notthatkat on May 23, 2007

Wherein I promised actual knitting content, and I deliver.  I started making the Gimlet socks for a friend.  I’ve gotten this far so far:

Gimlet Toe

Yes, those are DPN’s you see.  Yes I am only working on one at a time, for now.  This will change.  Stay tuned.

I haven’t gotten very far on those because I have been working diligently on my sister’s second curtain.  I added 32 rows yesterday evening.  I have about 60 rows of lace left, plus a good chunk of stockinette at the top, but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It doesn’t look different enough to warrant a photo.

I bought a few fleeces (maybe 4 with an extra one thrown in: long story) this spring and have been working on getting them washed.  I prefer to wash raw fiber in small batches.  I am nearing the end of the second one, a quite nice merino, and try to do a bit here and there when I can.  This was the scene a bit earlier; they’ve moved on to the rinse stage now:

Wet Merino

Most of this afternoon (my mid-week day off) was spent making soap with a friend who has wanted me to teach her since she found out I knew how.  I was a bad blogger, and didn’t get many in-progress pictures.  I was so busy teaching Courtney the process I forgot to take photos.  Next time, I’ll try to do better and might post a tutorial if there’s interest.

I did get this one of Courtney measuring out the oils:

Courtney, junior chemist

We made two batches using the same basic recipe.  I took lead on the first one, explaining as I went, then had Courtney do most of the measuring and mixing for the second one.  The first was cold processed and is currently incubating wrapped in a blanket:

Cold process soap incubating

The second was hot processed in the crock pot and is cooling in its mold:

Hot process soap cooling

Once cool, it will all be the opaque off white that the lighter areas are now.  I took scrapings from the pot and what was left on the spoon and made a wee little soap ball.  This is what the final soap will look like, except we will cut it into rectangular bars.

Soap Ball

Tomorrow we unmold and cut.  Courtney is feeling pretty confident in her ability to make soap now.  She has a lot to learn if she ever wants to go beyond a written recipe, but she made a good start today.

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Posted by notthatkat on May 21, 2007

No significant knitting progress to report. I got a couple rows done on the curtains, am in the process of casting off the second Knuck, and have yet to cast on my next sock project.

The main reason for this lack of progress? Work has been kicking me in the tushie lately. Today was about as insane as it ever gets. At one point, I asked my office manager if she could please warp the space/time continuum to get me a few more hours so I would have time to do everything. In the midst of it all, I did a C-section/spay on a cat that had been in labor way too long. I didn’t expect any of the babies to be alive, and was a bit concerned that we might lose the mama. Much to my surprise, when I opened her uterus and pulled kittens out of placentas, all of them started moving and breathing. My staff worked on the babies while I finished up with mama. Several hours later, everyone seems to be doing very well. The babies are all nursing and mama is finally taking an interest in them.

Wanna see?

Mama cat and kittens


Babies! Babies!


Hopefully next time, I’ll have some actual knitting content.

Posted in animals, work | 1 Comment »

Knitting meme

Posted by notthatkat on May 20, 2007

La posted this and it looked interesting, and since I don’t have anything interesting to show, here goes:

Bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do eventually and normal for stuff you don’t intend to do (Most of my “don’t intend” are things I don’t feel particularly moved toward now, but wouldn’t rule out)

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down (Do gloves count? I haven’t done mittens this way, but gloves – totally harder)
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with bananafiber yarn (wouldn’t mind trying it if some crossed my path, but I’m not seeking it out)
Domino knitting
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with Bamboo yarn(yummy)
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/Doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffitti knitting (I find this notion… intriguing. Just not sure it’s plausible in my small town/suburban environment)
Continental Knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Knitting with Alpaca
Fair Isle Knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male to knit (None have asked)
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton (this doesn’t bother me like it does a lot of knitters)
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously (my preferred technique for socks)
Fulling/felting (Love it!)
Knitting with wool
Textured Knitting
Kitchener Bind Off
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and Purling Backward (Actually “backwards” is normal for me, but I can go the other direction, which is most knitter’s “forward”)
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed Toys
Baby items
Knitting with Cashmere (soon, my precious)
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern (I’ve done a lot of “making it up as I go” designing and writing it down as needed, even given verbal instructions for simple things, but haven’t actually written up a pattern for someone else to follow. Soon)
Knitting with Linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

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All about the Knucks

Posted by notthatkat on May 18, 2007

I’ve made a bit of progress on John’s Knucks in the last couple days.  I got the first one bound off and all the ends woven in.  The second one is nearing the ribbing section and I expect to have it done tonight.

John's Knucks

I am planning to swatch whatever yarn I have left t0 play around with embroidery and color choices.  Yes, I know, it’s completely backwards to knit the project, then the swatch, but I used my first thumb as a gauge swatch.  The pattern recommends embroidery floss, but cotton thread on wool mittens just seems wrong somehow.  I have some of this same yarn in a lovely olive left over from a previous project, that I was thinking I could maybe split the plies to get a thinner yarn.  Alternatively, I was considering leftover scraps of sock yarn.   I considered needle felting, but I don’t want to shrink the fingers, so I’ve ruled that out.  Not sure I have any handspun that’s apropos, but I’ll probably go through it as well.  Maybe even break out the laceweights.  I’ll post details, and maybe a poll if I can figure out how to make it work when I get that far.

In the adorable animal section, I have a special entry today.  Well, really all of them are special to me, but this one is extra special.  This is my miracle kitten I thought for sure was going to die last summer.  I promised a friend that I wasn’t going to post a lot of gory details or pictures here, because… well, it’s just not that kind of blog.  This is about as detailed about my work as I plan to get, and I promise it will not be very graphic, but if you’re not interested don’t read behind the cut. Read the rest of this entry »

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