Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for July, 2011

Epic Fails

No pictures, just tears. I do know to make a test swatch. I really do. I did. However, my mathematically challenged brain, and my overzealous hurry to make a sweater ended in disaster, three times. This last time, I was determined not to make an itty bitty sweater. So I didn’t. After I lengthen it, it will fit me nicely. It will not fit a child. *Sigh* It would be too short, anyway. I haven’t given up though, I have more yarn. This time I will use a book to go with my gauge swatch, to tell me how many to cast on. I had a gauge, what was I thinking? Gauge swatches are not enough. You need to translate that into sweater dimensions well, and apparently, my ability to do that is lacking. Not to mention I have both books and software to help me AND I DIDN’T USE THEM! Grrrr. Or Duh. Or both.

Live to dye another day.

Who can resist these puns? I just wanted to add the pictures.

explaining how to dye

explaining how to dye.

Dying is so much fun, and so easy, at least for protein fibers like wool. I would recommend doing it outside, in the summer. Do not do as I do-WEAR GLOVES. Especially if other people will see your hands. Good old Wally-World (WalMart) sells dye for cotton, linen, silk and other natural non-protein fibers(cellulose). Tulip brand.  I know, you are going to yell at me and tell me that silk is a protein fiber. I know, the package says it dyes silk, what can I say?

pot of dye over campfire

The old fashioned way

Here is the cake dye pot. Wilson’s icing dye- great stuff. Cheryl took such a good picture, you can see how it didn’t take evenly.

Here is the finished product of three or four different experiments:

dyed skeins of yarn hanging to dry.

A thing of beauty and a joy forever

The above were all kettle dyed. The ones in the foreground had the blue dissolved first, the skeins put in, then using a butter knife, other colors were put in the dye pot and lightly swished.

Here is  more traditional “space-dying”, where you dissolve you dye in hot water in dispensers, then strategically place the color where you want on the fiber that has been soaked in vinegar/ water. That is what I am demonstrating in the top picture.

fiber dyed pink and yellow

Here is the dyed fiber

That’s all for now. I have to get a sweater done by Thursday. Thank goodness for a knitting machine. We are supposed to go horseback riding tonight, leaving me about 4 hours before Thursday, although if I really get crunched, I can take it to work and try and finish it on my breaks.

It’s a Looming Problem

What can I say, I love puns. So I am going from a relatively simple Schact, 15″ 4 harness table loomschact table loomto a nameless 43″ six harness floor loom.

6 harness floor loom

"Me eat you for breakfast."

While I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to expand my skill, this is an intimidating machine. I am awed by the fact that some nameless person was able to design and manufacture such a complicated piece of equipment. You can tell some of the pieces were recycled from something with words stamped in it, and the holes in the foot treadles look as if they were hand carved. The back beam is pegged on, and is removable for easier warping. I’m not sure what my first project will be. I have one or two things I have been waiting to make, but I’d like my first on on here to be rather simple and short, to get the hang of it.

Before I get to that, I have to finish my Arden sweater. Actually, it is Arden #3. I switched from the hand dyed when I realized how big 4T is. I then had to dig through my stash and totally rework my concept. Instead of tie dye like this:

I had to go with what I had enough of, in the same weight, which for me is always earth tones:

knitting on knitting machine.

This is why your stash can never be too big. You never know if there is an emergency sweater  lurking in the future. If this one doesn’t work, I’ll have to mail one to him. I’d really like to be able to hand them something hand made when they get here. On Thursday. This Thursday. Three workdays from now. That leaves me, oh, five hours if I’m lucky. 8 if I short myself on sleep. Oh well, I’ve never been one to let reality get in the way.

Back to the fiber

a group of friends eating lunch
together we dye.

Just in case you thought this blog was never going to talk about fiber, we had a dyeing day recently. Do you know just how many jokes you can make about dyeing?  We had a lot of fun, and got some beautiful colors. I did kool aid and some different acid and food dyes. Some of the others really got into the Wilson cake dyes. Those are amazing. If you don’t stir much, the colors separate as they strike, making some of the most beautiful yarn. Unfortunately, I was too busy to take many pictures, and the others posted theirs on Facebook. I don’t know if I can copy them from there.

I did take one picture of my sad sweater I made from my experiment. I say sad, as I really have a problem with size, and as you can see, while it is supposed to be a baby sweater, it will only fit a very small baby with long arms. and possibly a small head. I have since found out that the 11 month old I am making this for is just shy of 4T, changing my plans completely. More about that and the LOOM I GOT in my next post. After I get some sleep. Wait till you see this loom, it is amazing. It isn’t a brand name. But you’ll have to wait. Until I get some sleep. Did I mention I was tired?

han d dyed baby sweater

sad, sad sweater. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Wow, Inspiration of the Week.

Take a look at this kid.  Now, I know we always say ” Oh, stuff is easy when you are young.” But, no, it’s not. Kids don’t have the hormones to put muscle on like adults, and certainly, most don’t have the drive to do so. I’m not saying we need to push our kids into looking like this. This boy is an outlier- someone on the edge of a bell curve. However, he has drive and he is achieving amazing things because of it.

My question to you is “What are you going to do with your life?” There must be something that inspires you, that gives you drive. Are you using it? I coasted through a lot of years, just drifting and going with the flow. I don’t regret any of it. I have two beautiful kids that are successful adults. (Forgive my superstition, I’m almost afraid to say that, for fear of jinxing it!) I am glad that I have found passion, harnessed it and am making the most of it. I see too many people that appear to be sleep walking through their own lives. Some of that is caused by their lifestyle, being unhealthy will sap your physical and mental energy. While I do a lot of the physical things I do for their own sake, they also feed my body and psyche to do other things. I know you can’t change other people, but it is frustrating to see people throw their lives away, for any reason. While I can’t change people, I will keep cheerleading, encouraging, goading and prodding to get people to make the most of what they have. And if I flag in my enthusiasm, people like this boy will reinvigorate me.

little boy with grown up muscle


Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Who’s the Biggest of Them All?

I just read this post from “Fooducate’s” blog about the obesity epidemic. The statistics are astonishing and horrible. When you think about quality of life issues, and the resulting health problems of being overweight, it gets mind boggling. Here is just a sample:

10. Over the past 15 years, seven states have doubled their rate of obesity. Another 10 states nearly doubled their obesity rate, with increases of at least 90%.

11. Over the past 15 years, diabetes rates have doubled in ten states. In 1995, only four states had diabetes rates above 6%. Now, 43 have diabetes rates over 7% and 32 have rates above 8%.

12. Ten years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 24%, and now 43 states have higher obesity rates than the state that was the highest in 2000.

The question becomes, “what do we do about it?”. Is it a question of personal responsibility, or of corporate and social responsibility? I talked before about the being an issue in our church. Our entire culture has changed to encourage obesity, in a variety of ways, but the number one way is food culture. We subsidize junk food, corporations and their advertisements know how to appeal to us, and there is no moral concern about any of this. Is it right to appeal to people’s weakness? We are prewired to desire fat, sugar and salt. That was fine when those things were hard to obtain, but now we are inundated with them. Getting back to my church example, someone brought a pecan pie last week. I know better, but I couldn’t resist. Fortunately, it wasn’t that good, so I threw half of it out. The point is, if you wave treats under someones nose, they will succumb, sooner or later. Do we insist people must have more will power and education? Or do we change the culture, to stop creating so many temptations? Do we make junk food more expensive?

Karate, Weight Lifting, Endurance Riding, Oh My!

I have just spent a wonderful weekend learning the ropes of endurance riding. We were down in Allegany State park, where we usually horse camp. The woman teaching me is 68 years old, she just recently stopped competing, as much because of her horse as anything. For those that don’t know, endurance riding has some similarities to trail riding, much of it in our area uses the same trails for both, but for endurance you ride them as fast as possible, and the distances are from 25-100 miles. The one I am preparing for will be 35 miles, a bit longer than the usual “short ride”.

Did I have  a reason for telling you this? Two, actually. First, it is simply more encouragement  that staying active is the key to a healthy later life. Ainsly, the woman who was teaching me hauled her own horse down, set up camp, rode the two days and packed up horse and camp to go home. At 68. When most people are saying “I’m too old for that.” I’m not saying she wasn’t sore and stiff at times.  But the point is that she could do what she wanted.

The second point is that when you are active, you can do more, with less effort. Ainsly and I did things when we got back to camp, rather than needing a nap. I won’t say who needed the nap, but it was the one who hates exercise. Also, we could see what we were doing as fun, rather than a chore. Let’s face it, everything active requires effort(Thank you Captain Obvious). Unless you want to be a spectator to life, you have to keep yourself in good enough shape to do those things you love. If you want to bicycle in the summer, you have to exercise in the winter. If you want to hike on the weekends, you have to do workouts during the week. You have to set that as a routine when you are young, as it isn’t as necessary then, but you need the habit established for when you get older.

Oh, and I had a third point too. Surprise! Seriously, doing one activity leads to another. I wouldn’t have gotten into weight lifting if it wasn’t for Karate. I wouldn’t have thought about endurance riding if the desire for more challenges wasn’t awakened by karate and weight lifting. My friend Marlene is always talking about instant Karma, that everything you do impacts others. The same is true inside your own life. Positive steps create positive steps. Whatever road you are on is the one you will keep going on. Fitness and exercise leads to more fitness and exercise. Bad choices lead to more bad choices. Just take one baby step at a time in the direction you’d like to go, and see where it gets you.

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