Friday, September 28, 2007

Oh NooooooOOO!

Can you see it? The end?

I swear I knit far faster when I think I'm starting to run out of wool.

I get to try on my 'dye lot' skills you think that I can dye the next skein to knit up in the same stripes? Could Superwoman?


At least this gives me time to contemplate a name for this wool colourway. What do you think...Watermelon? Or Grinch?

And it gives me time to contemplate what I'll do with the remaining wool after I'm done. A third sock would probably use up exactly the remaining wool. Then instead of a pair, I'd have a 'thrair'. That would be handy if I ever lost a sock.

I should probably knit mittens in 'thrairs'. At least for the boys.

In the meantime, I'll just work, I guess, and go downtown later to see if they have any of this particular wool still, and to the grocery store to see if they have the same Kool Aid available.

Happy stitching,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kool Aid, that amazing substance...

It's another knitting post! (Vicki, feel free to surf don't have to hang around for this!...then again, it does involve dying, so you just may want to stick around....)

I've confessed to my late night love of sock knitting...but I have a hunch that the last 12 hours are going to take my knitting to a whole new place...

I tried Kool Aid dying. In my microwave. It was so simple that I'm already contemplating more....

I started with my long time standard sock yarn. I tend to use Kroy (75% wool, 25% nylon) for most of my socks, mostly because it is easily available in this very tiny town we live in. It's the only wool that I can walk downtown and buy a skein of with reasonable faith that it will be in stock.

Yesterday I did just that. And picked up 4 packets of Kool Aid on the way home...2 blue packets, and 2 green. Imagine my surprise to open up the blue packets and have the colouring be red! Not just any red, but a really amplified, play-dough-on-steroids kind of red! Not what I was expecting (a-hem, I was expecting BLUE?), but this is all about experimentation, right? The green packets revealed - green. Whew.
I used both packets of each colour in each of the dye baths. Before I started opening packets I had prewashed and soaked my wool so I squeezed it out, put it in the dye baths ( I think there's a little more in the red than in the green), popped the whole works in the microwave, and zapped it on High for 3 minutes. I let it rest for a while, did it for 2 minutes more, rest, (during one of these rest times I moved the hot yarn more into the green, then into the red to minimize the white in the final colouration).

Things continued in this way for quite a while longer. I think I cooked everything for a total of 11 minutes (while cooking dinner on the stove) in 2 minute increments (after the first 3 minutes) until the dye bath was completely clear for the green and about as clear as it was ever going to be for the red.

After things cooled down somewhat I rinsed the hank out carefully in the sink (using similar temperature water to the temperature of the wool to avoid felting), hand washed with mild soap and rinsed again carefully.

Now I have demonstrated many times that I am not always a patient person. This may not work for all wools, but I used this drying method for mine... in front of the heater. I hung the hank on a hanger, displaced the plants from the plant stand and put the whole works in front of the heat. I rotated the hank every 1/2 hour or so, and it dryed in about 2, maybe 3 hours.

Once it was completely dry, I wound it into a rather homely centre pull skein, and cast on. This is the fastest sock pattern I know that is made using 3mm needles...I think it's called 56 stitch 56 row sock pattern, or some such. The dyed Kroy is the perfect weight for it, too.

Yes, it does smell a tiny bit like candy.

No, I did not intend to knit a pair of lime green and cherry red Christmas socks.

What I've learned?

Packaging is deceiving. Especially for powdered beverages. Blue can be Red.

Immersion dying is really, really fun.

I might have to try this with some silk...then use the Shiva paintsticks on it....

Oldest Son said,"whoa, that's cool...but I'll never drink Kool Aid!"
and "will your feet smell like fruit?"


Happy stitching,


silk saga...finished. (for now)

Managed to finish the scarves yesterday....

I overdyed that soft yellow one with the red, but was disappointed that the yellow doesn't look yellow on the completed silk. I wonder if the Presist took out the Dye-na-Flow. The funny thing is, that salt that I thought was doing sweet-twiddle-all really did work! That's where the lovely bits of yellow show through! Sorry it doesn't show in the pics.

The purple one looks verrrry purple, not so blue as in the photo at right. The zippy-zappy one came out wonderfully fall/Hallowe'en-ish.

My fave though, has got to be the blue with flowers. It's closest to my long time favorite silk scarf that I've worn for years. Dad gave it to me a really, really long time ago, and it's been a wardrobe staple every fall and winter for at least 12 years now. The colours have stayed strong, but the silk is finally deteriorating after years of daily knotting and unknotting.

I think if I were to do this on a large scale, I'd get into using acid dyes. The Dye-na-Flow is a good 'gateway drug', but it's not doing it for me the way I thought it's a little granular when used heavily. I want those wonderful clear luminescent colours unencumbered by sediment that only come from immersion dying. Don't get me wrong, this has been fun...and until it seems the right time to make a major investment I'll certainly do this again. I'd like to try it using stamps with the Presist, or getting some kind of thickener for the Dye-na-flow so that I can stamp with it. I may yet get those Shiva Paintsticks out for use here, too. Who knows. The sky is the limit (as come there are so many things to try, so few hours to do it in?)!


Monday, September 24, 2007

the continuing silk saga...

Not a great photo, I'm afraid. My camera batteries frapped out when I went to take some pics...something I've not had to think about with this new camera (it's a Canon and I love it). So, batteries are charging as I write and I'll update more later.

As you can see with the newer scarves I've used much heavier colour. I hardly diluted anything! I'm hoping that the colours will be more intense, but not dull the way they are right now. I'm looking forward to that wonderful silk luminescence. See the salt on the red one? It's not doing a lick of good. I waited too long, the Dye-na-Flow was too dry...but too wet for me to get the darn salt off again. I haven't used salt since my watercolour days, but thought I'd try it after a comment left on one of the previous entries. I'll give it another go with something a little more wet, later in the game.

Back to stitching while the paint is drying!


Sunday, September 23, 2007

And the winner is....

Lisa C!

I did the whole random number generation thing, and you, my dear, are the winner. Please contact me through my profile email address, and we'll get this package of goodies winging it's way to you Monday morning.

Thanks to everyone who participated! Thanks, too, for all the lovely comments...not just the other day, but any day. What a wonderful and surprising world this blogland is!

Happy Sunday,


Saturday, September 22, 2007

If this is an illness...

I don't want to get better.



Thanks for all the generous hearted comments on the 'blogaversary'. You girls rock!


Friday, September 21, 2007

What I do in the wee hours...

I knit. Late at night, some time in August, the urge strikes. And I knit socks. I really, really love knitting socks. I love the tiny gauge, the lovely wool. My thoughtful Mom brought me this book a few months ago...and it may well replace all the other sock patterns I use! It's a really thorough, all knitting level book on socks. Charlene Schurch has written charts for all gauges and sizes, and has a 'class sock' lesson in the beginning in which you can learn the ropes of shaping by knitting a small sock.

My most recent pair here are the first ones I've ever knit with a textured stitch...I'm usually a 'let the yarn do all the work' type girl, using self striping and other fun yarns. After seeing how stripey yarns knit up with chevrons in the book, I just had to try it. Now I'm hooked on the idea of knitted lace. Darn. One more thing to try to make time for!

Just a note on the wool I'm's 100% wool treated with Aloe. It is the single nicest wool I've ever knit with (aside from 'way back as a kid when I didn't get all the lanolin out of the fleece and was knitting homespun). This wool was so gentle on my hands! I'll be buying more of it, once I can remember what it's called.(*later edit* It's Austermann Step Sock Wool - check it out)

The other thing I've been playing with a little here and there is painting silk. I ordered some Presist from Dharma Trading Company, and this is my first run around the block with it.

I put some of the Presist ( a water based resist formula) in a squeeze bottle and doodled around, then painted with diluted Dye-na-Flow. You can see here that the Presist is a warm coffee colour (it really reminded me of molasses!). I've got some ideas for how I can be a bit more controlled with it on the next round, but this worked really well for a first try.

The two photos here are after heat setting (with the iron...paper towels on BOTH sides of the silk for that) and after the first wash, before drying.

The Presist came out completely, without any difficulty. - when I wanted it to, too. Not before.

Below is a photo of the finished, dry and heat set silk. The colours were not as intense as I'd hoped, but now I know I need to try one without diluting the Dye-na-Flow and see what happens.

Becuase there was some leftover diluted yellow, I immersion dyed another piece of silk which I hope to now Presist and over dye (well, paint, actually. Presist won't stand up to immersion dying. It's water based and would all come out).

The best part about the silk painting is that I can do it in 10 minute spurts, here and there. It didn't take a whole 10 minutes to apply the Presist in the first place, may have taken 10 minutes the next day to paint the silk, a bit more than 10 minutes much later the same day to heat set the dye, a quick spin in the washing machine (while I was quilting), then a final press. This is my kind of craft.

So next on the agenda?

Presist some more silk so that I can let it sit and dry while I"m quilting.

Can't beat that.

Hope you're happy stitching,


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An anniversary, of sorts...

Okay, so it was really last week.

My first Blogaversary!

I thought with this momentous occasion I'd do a draw. All ya gotta do to enter is to comment on this post, and I'll put your name in the draw and send out this little collection to the lucky winner. Draw will be made on Sunday, Sept. 23 in the morning. Please enter your comment by Saturday, midnight (there you go...all you lurkers and night's your chance!)

The prize consists of a Magic Tiles pattern by Kathleen Bissett, the book Four Blocks and More by Linda Giesler Carlson, three fat quarters and a set of 8 blank greeting cards of my own design with envelopes. I'll cover the shipping!

It's just a little thank you to all of you who have been so welcoming, so kind, and have kept reading throughout the year.

(philosophical part...feel free to skip!)
When I started the blog I thought it would be a good place to keep track of my own quilting development...and it has. It's become much more, though. Who knew that having this place to post would motivate me so well to start exploring fibre so much more than I had before? I have always done needlecraft of some kind, but having this place, this opening to a kind of dialogue, has helped me to push my own boundaries, take classes, challenge myself more than I ever imagined. It's thanks to you.

And it's allowed me to meet people I never would have met. A couple in person! Many through correspondence, through generous trades and gifts. It's a pretty neat-o venue that can bring people with passions in common together every day like this. I've belonged to lists, but this is so much more personal.

So thanks. Thanks for all the comments, the input, the encouragement. It has meant a lot to me.

Happy stitching,


Monday, September 10, 2007

Saddle Mountain Hike, installment 5....cabin

The cabin has no indoor plumbing, of course. This is the view of the outhouse from the door of the cabin. Can you imagine finding your way down across the rocks in the middle of the night, pouring rain or thick fog with only a kerosene lamp because you had one too many cups of coffee? I wonder how many fire lookout keepers ended their career by falling off their lookout?

Please notice that the cabin and outhouse are held fast to the ground with the help of cables. I can't imagine being up here in a high wind, sitting in the biffy and hearing those cables sing.

Once inside the cabin you can see that there is a small fridge and stove. They may have been run by propane or gas...but I can't figure how they would have refilled or replaced the tanks up here, unless they were bringing in all the supplies by helicopter (not possible for the first of the lookout keepers).

The coffee cups and washbasin...well just about everything is still here. It must be just too much effort to take it away. Surprisingly, the lookout has not really been terribly vandalized (except for names and dates scrawled and carved all over the walls). All but one of the windows is still intact (and I think it was there last year when I was up) and all the appliances are whole. There is rat poop in all the cupboards, and, well, everywhere else. Who knows what they're eating in there? There's no food that I could see.

Even all the charting equipment is still there, in the the cabin.

The photo at left is out the window, North, of town. It seems like it's tremendously far away. And very, very small.

This would have been the fire lookout keeper's view, each morning as he left the cabin to do whatever fire lookout keepers did in those days.

We really were on top of the world.

Thanks for sticking with me this far.

The photos don't give the tremendous sense of scale that we had there. If you can imagine being so high up that there's nothing above you, nothing hampering your view in any direction...we spend our lives in this part of the world down deep in the valleys of these huge behemoth rocks. Our sunrises and sunsets are false ones, as our hours of light are measured in the time it takes for the sun to rise over one mountain and set behind another. It's tremendously liberating to climb up above it all and look back down. It gives a profound sense of perspective, reminds me of my place within the world, within geological history, reawakens my sense of wonder.



Saddle Mountain Hike, installment 4...names

This is the top of Saddleback. There's not tons of room up here, but the view is completely panoramic.

It was originally a fire lookout station beginning in the 1920's some time.There are two wooden structures up here, a cabin (about 10 or 12' square) and an outhouse.

It was strange after so much unbridled wilderness to reach the summit and find a funny little house perched right up on top!

The large, flat, dish-shaped rock that everyone is sitting on is completely covered in names and dates. The oldest one that I found is here, marked C.J.C. Slade 1929 1933. The oldest names that are carved into the rock are done with the same type of lettering, so one can only assume that these were fire lookout keepers and that they had metal stamps of some kind to incise their names with.

Many of the older names have a string of dates after them...these fellows would add the new date each time they were posted back here.

It would have taken a very special breed of person to spend all of fire season perched on top of this rock, high above everything else with no company. I'd be interested to know if they spent the whole season up there alone aside from supply delivery, or if they had rotating shifts of a few weeks each. I think it could become very monotonous in that tiny cabin after 2 weeks... without a sewing machine, that is...

Over many, many years, hikers have been adding their names to those of the lookout keepers'. The whole of the dish shaped rock is criss-crossed with names and dates, incised in many directions. Many, like the keepers', have a short string of dates after them.

I even found where Oldest carved his name in last year, and added mine to his. I know youngest tried to carve in an initial for himself last year, but I couldn't find it. I took a photo of a letter someone else had carved (that just happened to be his initial) to bring home to him as a keepsake. (Do click on the photo of the name rock. It's quite something)

Don't think that it's easy to carve your name in the rock, either. To do it with any degree of success, you have to hunt around the cabin for an old nail or something, find a rock to use as a hammer and chisel your name in, blow by blow, chip by chip. Many people who come repeatedly carve their own name deeper each time so that erosion doesn't wash it away. I carved Oldest's deeper for him, then did my own. Our letters are about 2" high.

Here is a view of the rock from the bottom of the steps of the cabin. You can see in the photo that there is really nothing below in on the East side, the side we came up underneath. I'm always surprised at how close to that edge some of the names are carved.

Stay tuned...


Saddle Mountain Hike, installment 3...

Going up through the rock bluffs is something a girl needs to pay attention to. This is the point at which I put the camera away for a while!

There are many parts here where we use our hands almost as much as our feet, and have to watch that we step on to areas that are stable.

The tremendous reward of this is getting up to the top of the bluffs...up to the point where the two peaks diverge. Last year this part of the journey brought me to tears. Living below this mountain for so long had given me no sense at all of the scale of it...I had originally thought that these peaks were very close together and similar in size....not so. Not by a long shot. This photo was taken looking back to the south, away from town.

This next photo is of THE OTHER SIDE of the mountain, looking west. Last year when we went on this hike, it was a cloudy, bit of a blustery day...this valley was completely filled with cloud. Yesterday was the first time I saw this view. Yes, it brought me to tears, and I don't think it was the low oxygen, either (wink!).

One more shot down at the lake where we crossed on the ferry...last one, I promise! The land that I mention fondly as 'camp' is down there, to the right (south) a little, and on the other side of the lake from the large sand bar.

We made it! Time to look around a little, have some lunch, and drink in the view.


More to come,


Saddle Mountain Hike, installment 2...

The way the trail goes through the alpine meadows is by doing wide, zig-zagging switchbacks. This photo was an attempt to show how steep the slope would be if we were going up it, but it doesn't really show it all that well. I find that when I'm on something that steep I have a hard time figuring out which way is UP, true UP, not just if you tilt your head a little to the left while looking at the first picture (so that all the trees appear to be growing straight up and down) you'll get a better idea of how steep the slope is.

The second picture here is an attempt to show how steep the path is... even though we are not going straight up the grade, the path across it is much like climbing stairs. If you enlarge the picture of my friend at right, you'll see the path continues up by her head in the photo...not flat at all.

Did I mention that I'm sore today?

As we come out to the edges (and trust me, they are edges) of the mountain's north side, we found these amazing windswept trees...sculpted by their lifetime of direct wind. The trees here have nothing to shelter them, even the next mountain peak is many, many meters away with a steep (1000+M) drop right next to them. It's incredible that they insist on living there at all!

Above the alpine meadows the terrain becomes rock. There are still scrubby little things eking out their lives on the mountain's face, strong, stubby little plants made of very stern stuff. The lichens here are spectacular, some are a bright lime green (regardless of the fashions), many thistles are here and dwarf lupins, too. They can't get much rain, and as you can see in the photo the sun is unrelenting up here.

The peak itself is 2304 M height, and we hiked up there in 2 1/2 hours. It's 5.3 km from the trail head to the top. - Did I mention that I'm sore today?

Stay tuned,


Saddle hike yesterday...1st installment

I wasn't sure how I was going to post about this, so thought I'd break it all up into smaller posts. That way you can skip anything that doesn't interest you - and I still have it here to refer to later!

The first photo is of Saddleback from our street. We have lived here for 12 years beneath this beautiful behemoth. We look to it to see when the snow is coming, to see if the rain is coming our way, to see if it's an early spring. It's the backdrop of life here and has made it into many of the logos and names of local businesses.

Last year was the first time I had the opportunity to hike to the top - it was a very profound experience for me! I took the boys with me last year, but this year they stayed home (they would have liked to have come again, and I will definitely take them some time again in the future).
In order to go on this hike, we drove down to the ferry to take us across the Lower Arrow Lake (this is the one our town is nestled against), then drove up to the base of the trail. The trail begins in beautiful temperate forest, much of which reminds me of where we used to live on the West Coast of BC. It's really, really beautiful.

The first part of the hike is all in the wood. As we were hiking we could see the trees changing...they get scrubbier, thinner and more compact looking as we got higher. One of the first areas that we got to where we could see 'out' of the trees was here, along this rock ridge.

It's amazing how the terrain changes under your feet as you ascend.

Although the alpine flowers were finished their bloom for the year, the fields were still beautiful. Above the rocky ledges is an area that is huge alpine meadow. It's a very fragile area, and we were careful to stay on the path.

I should mention that the path is not a wide one in most areas. Most of the time we hiked single file in small groups of twos and fours.

This is the first view back down from the meadow, back to where we took the cable ferry across the lake.

It was breathtaking to see how far we had come already!

As you can tell from the photos, the weather was amazing.

I took the following photo of the summit from the same spot as the photo down at the lake.

See that little white dot up on the right hand side of the rock? That's the cabin we hiked to. I think we were somewhere around half way through our hike by the time I took this picture.

(sunburned and smiling)


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Kathy's quilt - finished!

Kathy graciously gave her permission for me to share some photos of her quilt with you, now that it's completed. You can click on any of the photos for a larger version.

Notice her amazing piecing! She did not miss a point on this quilt.

I love the touches of applique, especially at the corners.

The scalloped border is the perfect finish for this, don't you think?

Nicely done, Kathy!

I'm headed up Saddleback Mountain today with some friends. It's about 4 hours to the top, and could be cold up there (it had snow on it yesterday? Friday? morning). It's a special hike, and on it we will be saying a final goodbye to someone close to us who passed away in April.
Cross your fingers for us about the weather.

All the best to each of you,


Friday, September 07, 2007

Well, a large entryway is inviting...

But maybe not THIS large..

The house renovations began in earnest yesterday with the new front door being installed. Before we move we will be replacing all the main floor windows, and having the roof re-done.

The fellas who did the door said that the windows should be in soon. Yay!

Now, doesn't that look better?

Happy stitching,