Sunday, August 31

parade preparation

My father asked me this afternoon if I'm planning to blog about Carnival this year. For those of you who don't live within a few blocks of where I do, you may not be aware of the West Indian American Day Parade, which occurs on our street annually on Labor Day.

Last year I was pretty psyched about it. This year I really wish I didn't have to deal with it. Part of this is because I have to rise very early on Tuesday to go to Cape Cod, and I have a lot of work to do before I leave. Part of this is because Christopher is still pretty wary of crowds, and so I know that we'll be spending tomorrow indoors. And the biggest part is I think I don't want to deal with the noise.

Last year, you may remember, we were kept awake by the steel bands playing on their way to J'Ouvert, a dance party-parade which starts at 2am the night before the parade at Grand Army Plaza. We're anticipating another night like that tonight, and I've bought us some ear plugs, which will hopefully help us sleep. Tomorrow we may still be wearing them, as the semi trucks with 12'+ high speakers blast their way down the parade route and past our apartment building.One more thing: I think it's really weird that white people don't know about this parade, which draws over a million people annually. Of course, it's really geared towards the Caribbean community. But it's also a weekend-long event that celebrates a vibrant culture, and there is delicious food and great music to boot. Is it that the organizers don't want to integrate it? or is it that the white folks don't want to mix?

knitting for babies

I mentioned a while back that everyone I knew was having babies. Well, they're all here now: Alden, Ellery, Alex and Siri. We met the youngest of them, Siri, yesterday.

It's funny. I am familiar with babies, but I'd become used to hanging out with our friends' pre-schoolers. The past two months has involved meeting these 4 newborns, and I was reminded of how wiggly and small they are. I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but I can see why parents of babies are so excited when their baby smiles for the first time or is able to pick up her head.

Anyway, since the gifting is more or less done, I thought I'd give a run down of the baby knitting, part two. (Part one is here.)

Alex, the baby who lives in Maine, received a baby vest. The pattern is based very loosely on the Cobblestone sweater, and is therefore called Pebble. It was a quick and fun knit, and I enjoyed finding contrasting buttons at M & J Trim.

The major drawback for this pattern is that it's written for one size, and the designer says that it will fit a baby 0-12 months, which I find ridiculous. I found some standard measurements and sized this sweater for a 3-6 month old.
Unfortunately I was a bad blogger and forgot to take a photo of the entire finished thing before I gave it away, so you only get to see snippets of it.

Pattern: Pebble by The Thrifty Knitter
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Superwash
Needles: US6

Siri, who was born on August 11, received a pair of knitted pants for the fall and winter (depending how fast her legs grow). You may remember that I made another pair of baby pants in April, Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Leggings. They would have been too big for Siri to wear this fall, so I found the Kanoko pants pattern and made them for her. I think they are adorable, but again I have issues with the construction. First of all, Elizabeth Zimmerman's graft under the crotch is ingenious and really perfect for a baby in diapers. The Kanoko pants don't allow for that diaper crotch. Second, as written there would have only been a 4" height from the waist to the crotch in the Kanoko pants, a height which is significantly shorter than what anyone else recommends. I added about 2 inches to it, and I think they'll be fine, though I still am nervous about how they'll squeeze over a diaper. The fabric is pretty stretchy, so hopefully it will be fine.Pattern: Kanoko Baby Pants by Yumiko Sakurai
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Ruby River (loved it!!), less than a skein
Needles: US7

Baby knitting is fun. I love how quick it is, and everything is just so cute! What I'm not crazy about are these patterns that aren't so well researched...

Saturday, August 23

our floor, our apartment

While we were away we had our living room, den and hallway floors redone. This all meant that before we went away, we had to clear everything from those rooms into our bedroom and office. Sort of like moving.It was really annoying, and it took forever. Though Dinah seemed to enjoy having the whole room to herself.
This is what the living room floor looked like before we had it redone.

Now that we're back (and our floor seems nearly brand new)
and we are faced with unpacking it all again. It's not so much fun, especially when I've got to design my Cape Cod show in the next week or two. There's a lot to do, and sorting through boxes of paper... not so appealing.

Wednesday, August 20

in between

Our apartment is renewed, the floors were a success! Christopher has decided to sand and paint our baseboards before we settle back in, so we're still living amongst boxes and our bedroom is still stuffed with living room furniture. It seems that I left my camera cable in Maine, and my backup one is in some box somewhere, so until we unpack and locate it there will be no New York photos.

One nice thing about this situation (not the camera situation, the living out of a box situation) is that everything seems intentional. We can make some improvements and throw some things out as we unpack, upgrade a little. A trip to Ikea is scheduled for next week.

Maine was wonderful, a combination of visiting with friends and family and relaxing and being alone. I feel like I savored just about every moment, really making the most of that rare chance to be alone and of the silence. I do feel like I could have used another week (or month) but now that we're back I'm knee deep in design work. It's kind of annoying how these things don't seem able to coexist.

Highlights of the week:

Christopher made the most delicious blueberry cobbler for his birthday dinner, which was attended by his cousin and the cousin's family. It surprises me sometimes how someone with absolutely no interest in food is able to cook well when he tries, but really it comes down to him following a recipe, and he can do that.

My father installed a shower for us! Of course, it wasn't the most practical shower, but it was better than using the bathtub, which we've done for the past 10 or so years. Yeah, that's him installing the shower. See how it's not so practical? where would you put your clothes?

My friend Laura (the one who lives in Germany) visited us for 24 hours or so. She was visiting her parents down in the Casco Bay, and I convinced her to leave her husband and children and see me. We had a grand time, swimming in the cloudy cold and visiting Hope Spinnery, a wind powered wool spinnery in Hope, Maine. We got a tour of the facilities and I bought 2 skeins of his wool, which is from local sheep and dyed with natural dyes. This is dyed with indigo and cochineal, and I am planning to use it on the cuffs of the sweater I'm designing.

It is a pretty awesome place. (I went back later with my mom and got naturally dyed roving, too.) He'll be at Rhinebeck in October. You all have to check him out. It's really truly yarn with integrity.

I met Mary Jane! She lives about 10 minutes from my parents' place, which is just too funny. I had dinner with her and her husband at their amazing self-designed and built concrete chateau, and she showed me tons of fiber goodies and we talked about everything. It was like meeting an old friend, and she even gave me pickles that her daughter had made with ingredients grown by the daughter's boyfriend. How's that for awesome!?

We spent a day with Christopher's grandparents. It was actually kind of fun. We went with them for lunch at about 2, ate tons of food and dessert, and then at 4:30 his grandmother suggested that we go get dinner, so we did even though we weren't at all hungry. But dinner consisted of the most delicious lobster rolls ever, in a totally gorgeous (but suddenly foggy) spot, so it wasn't so bad. And then we got ice cream, in honor of Christopher's birthday.

And that's about it, other than dyeing wool with goldenrod, which I've already described.

Edited to add the photo of the indigo vat, and to say that I did overdye the earlier tinted wool with goldenrod, and it turned out well, but alas I have no photos...

Sunday, August 17

Superwash: dye hog!

So, the dyeing is done. Mostly.

I was hoping to have lots of wonderful things to write here about it, but I'm a little disappointed. After a little posting on the Natural Dyeing forum page on Ravelry, I seem to have a reason why:

Apparently superwash wool hogs all the dye. I dyed all of my fibers together, and I shouldn't have. My superwash turned out great, but the other fibers seem more tinted than dyed. The superwash is at the top of this photo. Blue Faced Leicester is below it. And my poor merino is to the right.

We're leaving tomorrow on a 7am bus, but I may do some emergency goldenrod picking, and a last minute overdye on the merino and Blue Faced Leicester tonight before bed.

Yeah, I realize I'm cutting it close, and it might be a late night! But I'll have plenty of time to sleep on the bus, right?

Friday, August 15

time's a tickin'

We are leaving on Sunday, and I feel like I could use another week here. We're starting to think about what we need to do when we get back. Mostly move our furniture back into the living room, and Christopher wants to sand the living room baseboards before we do that.

Today is Friday, however, and I'm trying to finish up my natural dyeing before then. Everything seems to go in slow motion with this process. On Wednesday I scoured my wool, which meant soaking it in a soapy solution for several hours, and then soaking it in water to rinse it. (Don't want to agitate too much, since it may felt the fiber!)

Yesterday I pulled out my new dyepot, mixed up my mordant (cream of tartar and alum). I made the mistake of filling the dyepot from the hose, and the water was icy. It took several hours to get it to simmer, and then it's supposed to simmer for several hours before letting it cool overnight.Today, well, today I'm hoping to dye, though we have to leave in half an hour to have lunch with Christopher's grandparents. I've collected my goldenrod and it is simmering out there on the lawn. I'll probably turn it off and let it sit while we're gone, and when we get back I'll strain it and add my fiber. I seem to be stuck with just goldenrod for dyeing this summer, which is a little unfortunate. It apparently makes a beautiful yellow dye and it is growing everywhere, but I don't like wearing yellow. And I've got a bunch of different fibers to dye: merino, superwash merino, blue faced Leicester, and the silk/wool blend that I spun a month or two ago. I'll have yellow fiber and more yellow fiber. Maybe next year I can overdye my yellow fiber with something else, like black-eyed Susans. (I looked for them this morning, but only found a handful and half of them were covered with little black bugs.)

Wednesday, August 13


see the problem? Yeah, one of them is 2 stitches wider than the other. I'm making children's mittens for Afghans for Afghans, so I could conceivably just make two more that match each of these. But wouldn't that be boring? I have so much scrap wool to use, so why make two identical sets?

In other news, the wool is scouring. (Seems an odd term for something that requires so little movement or handling.)

Tuesday, August 12

we're here

and there's too much to write. It's all good. Words just don't do it justice.

Today I bought a pot for dyeing, along with a candy thermometer. It looks like my dye plants didn't grow so well, so I'll be starting with goldenrod.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 7


We're heading north tomorrow, to Maine. While we're gone, men will come and refinish our floors. Which means that the floors need to be clear when we leave for Maine.

They're not actually going to refinish all of our floors, just the ones in the living room and in the room where my computer and knitting are, our den. It's something we've wanted to do since we moved in, but it's so much of a hassle that we've been dissuaded up till now. This summer we bit the bullet.

So, while we pack for our week up north, we are also packing up these rooms and stowing their contents in the bedroom and office, and any closets that seem to have space. It's slow going. I'm hot. I'm feeling overwhelmed. I get distracted by my yarn, the knitting patterns I want to bring to Maine with me, the piles of receipts and phone numbers sitting next to my computer. It's good to sort through these things and do some purging. And I'm sure it will make our return (and unpacking) much easier. But it's hard to motivate.

It's also hard to pack for our trip. It is muggy and 85 degrees in Brooklyn today. There are thunderstorms and it's close to 60 in Maine. My mother keeps reminding me to bring a wool sweater along. The idea of wearing a wool sweater in the next few days is really inconceivable to me. I haven't worn pants in months. The only sweater I've pulled out recently has been cotton and good for an over-air conditioned theater. I find myself staring at my sweater drawer and thinking, "You're kidding me!" as sweat rolls down my back and I long for a shower.

Anyway, I'm really excited about going to Maine, packing not included. I'm really psyched to wear pants and a sweater (even if I can't wrap my head around it right now), and I am looking forward to seeing lots of people who will be there. My cousin and her daughter, Christopher's cousins and grandparents, my friend from Germany, who is summering with her family near Portland. I'm even going to meet Mary Jane, who lives very close to where I'll be. And of course, I am still entertaining my dyeing fantasies, even though I hear that the only seeds of mine that grew were the purple basil. And apparently my dad mowed down the wildflowers, so I might not be able to find black-eyed Susans, goldenrod or Queen Anne's Lace so easily as a back up. Mary Jane talks of dyeing with a certain lichen, so we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, August 5

busy week

Wow! It's been a while since I've blogged. I was on a roll there, and then we got into the final stretch of Christopher's show and we started thinking about everything we need to do before we go to Maine. And well, I took a break from blogging.

I did knit something last week though. An entire finished object in just a few days: a new hat for Christopher. Of course, it's 90 degrees (or close to it) these days, so it's not something that Christopher requested that I make or something there was any necessity for. Here it is.
It's Jared Flood's Turn a Square hat.
I basically saw it and knew immediately that I needed to use some of the Noro Silk Garden that I'd been hoarding for about 2 years. And it went perfectly with some of my hand spun! I'm so excited about this hat. I feel like making similar versions for everyone for Christmas, or at least a beret-type of thing with changing stripes for myself.In other news, we're having our floors redone while we're in Maine, so before we go we have to move everything from our living room and den into our bedroom and office. This is problematic as we need to use the bedroom and office until around the time we go, so it's causing much anxiety. At least, it makes me anxious.