Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dubose 2014: Weekend of Fiber

Dubose will happen again this year! Hoorah! This retreat has taken on a life of its own now and I don't even need to be there for it to be self perpetuating. And that's a good thing, cuz I won't be able to be there this year. But have no fear. The same fun you have come to expect will be there for you anyway, thanks to the dedication of two long time Dubose goers, Jan Quarles and Christina Consiglio. As many of you know, Jan has been my right hand woman at Dubose and Harrisville for some time. She and Christina have organized a beautiful retreat this year, calling it Weekend of Fiber at Dubose. You can read all about it here and you'll also find them on their new Rav group "Weekend of Fiber". So please come and enjoy a weekend of relaxation, great company, and all things fiber.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Meet Ebee, our newest member of the family. That's pronounced like "email"...with the accent on the "E". Currently at 17 weeks; our talking scale tells her, "You weight 6 pounds. Have a nice day." One reason I haven't been posting her like crazy is that she is really hard to photograph. Unlike the photogenic Monk, she just catches light funny and ends up looking more like a cartoon character than the beautiful little mini aussie that she is. Wish I could take credit for these beauties but they are the work of Leighton Smith who got right down on the ground with his professional camera to capture her essence.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Magic Loop

So I decided to compare my addi lace and sock rockets points to see if there is a difference and yes, there is. Here they are as proof. The tip of the sock rocket (top, US 2/2.75mm) is a little shorter than the lace (US 2/3.00mm). I held them against my 2.75mm lace points as well...same difference. Shorter point equals duller point...just a fact of life. You can also really see how much bigger the 3.00mm is, so don't go by the US number when purchasing addi needles.

Besides the fact that the rocket point isn't as sharp, it is also a little slipperier, which does affect my tension ever so slightly. The brass finish on the lace needles is just a tad slower (more so when they are tarnished) and sometimes this really works to my advantage. Brass has an odor that nickel does not and it is more noticeable when the finish is tarnished. I polish mine with a tiny drop of Wenol and they stay shiny for a long time. Isn't it amazing how many differences there are between the two? So many details go into personal preference.

Lately I've been talking to all my knitter friends about their preferences for knitting in the round. It seems that they either love or hate magic loop, so I'm going to offer my tips for successful magic loop knitting. It's all in the curve of the needles. When you change sides, you need to pull your right needle towards you, then let it curve back around to face the left hand needle. This puts more curve into the back needle, which enables you to pull the stitches at the seque snug enough to avoid ladders. This is how the loops should look. I love magic loop because I can knit with a puppy in my lap and not disturb her with extra points or dangling needles. The needles stay put when I'm not knitting and I can work more stitches before changing needles, which is especially great when working an intricate stitch pattern. It also doesn't matter if there are more stitches on one needle than the other you can increase for a thumb and not have to transfer stitches.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

I Love the Yarn Bus

You know how it is. No matter how many needles you have, there is always one you don't have when you really need it. So the fact that I didn't have a 2.75mm 32 inch addi lace circular for a particular magic loop project last Wednesday really didn't come as a great surprise. Getting one in a hurry, though, that can be flummoxing when you live a minimum of 60 miles from a yarn store that stocks addi lace needles. But look! A few new options have appeared here in our tiny Sewanee. Our amazing little mercantile Mooney's has recently started carrying a wide variety of lovely needles, addi lace included! So I headed over and found a US 2 only to find that it was a 3.00mm. Rats. For some reason Addi labels both 2.75mm and 3.00mm as US 2. I think of the 3.00mm as 2.5, really. So it pays to read the fine print. That said, I bought a very nice Knitter's Pride 2.75 and trotted home happy.

But after knitting a few rounds with the KP, I found that it really was slower than the Addi Lace, especially in the changeover from one side to the other. Ok, call me picky, but I am picky and it wasn't exactly what I wanted. And of course we all like our gratification instant, no? Option #2 was just on the horizon. Nashvill'es Haus of Yarn's Yarn Bus has just initiated a regular schedule of Sewanee stops by coming to Mooney's on the first Saturday of every month. My luck!!! I rav messaged YB's pilot Meg (knitknotes23) and asked if she could bring my desired needles from Haus. Saturday I stepped onto the beautiful bus, a vehicle brimming with colorful yarns and top flight tools and notions and there were two lovely packages of Addi Lace 32" 3.00mm. Ha!!! We both had to laugh, cuz it's the kind of thing that happens to the best of us. But on the wall of the bus hung a 32" 2.75mm addi turbo"Sock Rockets" circ. The Sock Rockets are addi's newest needle, a circ with points like the lace but with the nickel finish of the turbo. I've been dying to try them so I was very happy indeed. I'm knitting with them now and couldn't be happier. Thanks, Meg! And in the time I spent in the cozy bus, I saw that several people had had a similar idea in that they had requested special items from Haus as well. Two other knitters left with their special purchases in the short time I was there. I see a trend happening here, especially when Haus carries such a beautiful collection of handpaints...Tosh, Sweet Georgia, Malabrigo, Shi Bui, Koigu to name a few. And Mooney's is carrying more yarns too. Lots of pretty solids. No excuse not to knit on the mountain.

Stay tuned for more on the difference between sock rockets and lace needles, plus tips on magic loop technique.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Studio Tour Dec 7 & 8, 2013

This year my studio will be one of the stops on the Cast TACA holiday Studio Tour in Sewanee/Monteagle, TN. Jan Quarles and I will be showing together this year with beautiful textiles.

I'll be showing my OOAK handknits this year. This wrap is handknit in my own original design from my handspun art yarns. I will also have some beautiful naturally dyed yarns for knitters.

Jan will have her amazingly beautiful organic leaf print and shibori scarves. Her bold color sense and confident hand make these pieces truly unique.

Come join us on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 & 8, 2013. We're at the intersection of Kentucky and Tennessee Avenue in Sewanee. And we have chocolate!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday Savings

25% off all my patterns on Ravelry and in my Etsy Store this weekend, Nov 28-Dec 2, 2013. No coupon code required. Savings will show up at checkout. Sale includes all my new patterns.
Happy Knitting!

Also, stay tuned for updates to the Cast TACA Studio Tour page. Lots of news to come.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ooooh That Smell

Can't you smell that smell? You know the one. Vinegar.

I recently purchased a lovely yarn online (won't say which one) and it arrived smelling like a stale bag of vinegar and salt potato chips. The odor was so strong that my husband walked in my studio and asked, "What stinks? Did you spill vinegar in here?"

As a dyer, I am very curious about this. When I dye with acid dyes my yarns never vinegary after they are properly washed and rinsed. But I like to design with popular commercially available yarns so that when knitters purchase my patterns they will often be able to grab something from their stash and start knitting without hunting for yarn. Why, if my yarns don't smell, do others? Here are my thoughts. I would love to hear from the rest of you about this topic.

For one reason or another, perhaps some dyers don't rinse as much as they should. Water is expensive and rinsing takes time and energy. Usually when yarns aren't completely rinsed, there will be some color bleed when these yarns are washed. This residual dye is harmful to the knitter, as it is now in a powdered state and can rub off and be absorbed through the skin. Fine particles of residual dye can be inhaled, especially during the process of winding the skein into a ball. I can't help but wonder if some dyers may use vinegar in the final rinse as a vehicle to set any residual dye that may have not been completely rinsed out. Or they don't use any kind of soap in the rinsing process so that they don't have to rinse, wash, rinse. And perhaps the pungent smell helps to keep moths away? Who knows.

Certain colors are more prone to this bleeding, namely red, dark blue, turquoise. The skein that so offended my husband was a luscious deep blood red. So I decided to wash the skein. I filled a basin with warm water and added about 1/2 tsp of Wrapture by Eucalan (it smells so lovely...jasmine...mmmm). After soaking for about 5 minutes, there was only the slightest tinge of pink in the water...almost non-existent. And guess what? No more vinegar smell. As I hung the skein to dry I detected nothing in the way of pungency and once dry I could bury my face in the wool and only smell fiber and jasmine.

So if you want to wash those vinegary skeins before you knit, make sure that they are properly tied. Undo any ties that constrict the yarn to the point of "sausageness" and retie them. Remove labels, then soak the skeins in cool to lukewarm water with a little Eucalan or Soak. These mild soaps do not have to be rinsed and leave a lovely scent behind. Do not agitate the skeins, just gently squeeze them and allow them to become fully saturated with water. If you see any color in the wash water, then rinse again in clear water of the same temperature of your wash water. Squeeze them out and roll them in a bath towel to remove as much moisture as possible and hang them to dry. To speed drying, blot moisture from the bottom of the skein once it has had time to drain some, then move that part of the skein to the top of the hanger.