Monday, 14 April 2008

Spiralling into Madness (and other fibrely pursuits)

This weekend has been exceptional...that's putting it mildly! After the anti-climactic ending of round 2 which had us all twiddling our thumbs waiting for the last player to finish when someone did a recount and found the final post had actually been filled 5 days earlier; round 3 started rather abruptly 3 days 1.30am...on a Friday when I was doing a weekend dyeing course...hmm, this was going to be a toughie!

I knew I had Friday free to get a head start but that I would be more than usually tied up on the weekend as I would be driving myself (and you can't knit AND drive!). Bizarrely, I woke around 3.30am and after trying to get to sleep, just had to fire up both computers to print off the latest pattern which I read the relevant first instructions in the light of the computer room then proceeded to knit in the dark of the bedroom to avoid waking the hubbie who was after all, working the next day.

Great plan, shame about the reality...don't get me wrong, I often knit simple stuff without looking at it BUT that green and that purple both look black in the dark! So, after casting on with the wrong yarn and knitting a row (luckily, I mucked that up enough to both wake the hubbie so I could temporarily shed a little light on the situation, realize my mistake and remedy it). Great, lost half an hour there, but never mind...cast on with the right yarn, but in doing so, I knocked my other circular needle on the floor so whilst I managed to knit (albeit slowly) one rib in the dark, there was no way I could cast on for the second sock until it was light.

So, head down for an hour and back awake at 6.15am when I could see the floor, see the circular and as hubbie was getting awake, rustle in the bag I'd put the second balls of yarn! I had a couple of hassle free hours doing the second rib and starting with the slip stitch pattern. Can I say that of the patterns so far, I found this the most intuitive and whilst the patterning became cumbersome in the final stages when I was on my knees with tiredness, on the whole I was far more able to watch rather than listen to a movie which was a godsend.

The progress pic was added around 2pm Friday, I was all sorted, I had lunch in the fridge, soup on the stove for tea and apart from a half hour skelp round the shops and a memory like a sieve (I'd turned up to a dentist's appointment that had been booked for 2 days previously), I worked like a trojan and by 9pm that evening, both socks were past the heel and on to the gusset decreases. A quick bath and a little extra knitting before bed took me a little further but I needed my sleep.

Now came the tricky part, I could manage a half hour in the morning and had got my stuff together for the workshop the night before. Hubbie bless him, offered to make the sandwiches (it was a buffet-style affair) but didn't know what he'd let himself in for what with beef and white rolls, ham salad baguettes and so on! Anyway, I got on my way deciding to try the motorway version avoiding the tunnel charges but as it was busy and there was a lot of spray from lorries, it definitely took longer. Still, I got myself there safely, explained to Debbie (who was running the weekend) my predicament and apologised if she caught me knitting in the lulls. There were a few lulls on the Saturday in in between dyeng batches of sample strands so I was well and truly on the foot and by putting in a herculean effort when I got home (and ordeing out for food!), I was a few rows off completing the toe by bedtime.

Sunday morning, the first thing I did was reach for the needles, finish the toe then attack the other sock. Hubbie, bless him once again agreed to take me and pick me up hence I got vital knitting time in there and back and whilst I spent an intensive few hours "playing" with natural dyes (I never thought I'd hear myself say that!), when my back finally gave out around 2pm, it was the perfect excuse to sit and pick up the needles and keep on going...which I did...even when everyone left at 3.30pm and I was left on my own in the hall until hubbie arrived. But I didn't mind, not really, I was too busy knitting!

These were completed at breakneck speed around 9pm that night, I'd snapped at hubbie, cursed a dozen times and we raced upstairs to take this shot...then realized the toe looked weird because of a crease in the throw so it was back upstairs again for another one.

I have realized that all my competition socks are full of dog hairs on the underside because the first thing I do is race upstairs with hubbie in tow for the pic then race back down in my newly clad feet to upload them on the laptop! I then tend to mooch around online waiting for the e-mail, posting my pic on Ravelry and end up walking back upstairs to bed in 'em. I do love the colours though, it's a mix of Knitpicks Shadow Vineyard heather (purple) and Posh Yarn Gloria "cobweb" cashmere in "Exotic". It was a weeny 40g skein left at the end of a sale 'cos nobody wanted a measly 500yds but as soon as I saw it I thought...perfect! Knowing my colour wheel, purple and green are complementary colours and can clash BUT the green had blue in it and so did the purple which was dark so the colours zing but don't sting!

I got in, ninth place and the twelfth person finished only 3 HOURS later! If I'd had extra sleep, rested, waited until Monday Morning I'd have been doomed!...But I'm not sure whether I'll be that dedicated next round, I'll wait and see the pattern first!

Anyway, this poor neglected dyeing weekend, what did we do (aside from knit of course!)?

Well, Saturday was spent putting bunches of strands of yarn into dyepots on the stoves then waiting for them to be ready in batches of four. In between times, there was a HUGE amount of mordanting going on (one of the reasons that I generally avoid natural dyeing like the plague!).

Having 15 different colours to get through, it took a while but even at that stage I realized that using the concentrated powders where all the effort of extracting the colour was already done and the colours were more consistent, I began to warm to the subject. Throughout the day, we collected our samples then towards the end, we modified the colours by placing a single strand in a chemical bath for a few minutes. Iron generally dulled and darkened the colours (technical term "saddened" which seems quite appropriate); citric acid affected some ore than others but sometimes brightened the colours and sodium carbonate, an alkaline affected the reds most.

It was a packed day to get everything in but the knowledge we learned was crucial to the following day when we were let loose to "play"!
I was particularly impressed by the fact that you can rainbow dye effectively and tried a few techniques that I hadn't thought of before. Being over-prepared (as usual!) I'd brought masses too much yarn and fibre to mordant so I still have a couple of skeins to dye at home. I DO think the colours are different and unusual enough to warrant the work, particularly with the dye preparation removed BUT I'll never fully convert to natural dyeing, not when acid dyeing is so much easier! It was great fun though!

Anyway, in order not to be accused of not finishing anything, here is the latest photo of the Freedom wool sweater.

Well, it was sewn up on Wednesday but as the collar proved too much for my mathematically challenged brain, it remains as written. I felt I couldn't give it my full attention so close to the next sock so it has been on hold 'till today and hopefully will be knitted in the next day or so. Watch out for a FO on Sunday then!

I also forewent the Tuesday evening knitting group to join a new group at Borders that meets once a month. Of course, that was on the day I'd just finished the sleeve and didn't a) fancy sewing it up and b) fancy picking up the collar and knitting it while chatting etc. so, I ...

...cast of for another project! Yup, this is how far I've got on the back of the freedom spirit cardi I showed you last time, so I won't need to worry once I've finished the first one...and it's good for easy knitting at the knitting groups!

There's a thread on the Sock Madness group over on Ravelry that goes " you know you've got Sock Madness when..."; well, I added a few points this time but this was the cruncher.. ...when you've bought yarn off ebay but you don't have the time to look at it!

Guess what I did this morning! It's mostly oddments of 4ply wool and silk yarns, some full 100g balls, lots of in-betweenies, a huge indulgence, I know but I have plans...they might not mature for a while though, so don't hold your breath!

The origin of Floppy:

People have often asked why Biscuit (being black) is so named, you'd not ask that if you saw her foodie abilities! Floppy's name however is somewhat harder to catch...but I got it!

His favourite position, if not slid down your leg and flopped on one of your feet is...
...on his back, legs in the air ...
...And particularly rolling around the floor! (now you know why all my competition socks have dog hairs on the feet!).

1 comment:

Jominx said...

You socks are gorgeous :D