Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall is Here

...and it's not so bad. I usually love this season, but this year just seemed to go by too quickly and I wanted to grasp onto the threads of summer. I'm over that now. These temperatures are so much nicer.

Those blurry red things are fall leaves. 
So, what have I been doing since I've abandoned my regular blog posting? Reading, knitting, sulking. *sigh* It was the weather.

I've given myself pseudo-academic assignments and they've brightened my spirits. First, I'm dabbling deeper into dyeing yarn with acid dyes. In fact, my first sampler kit of WashFast acid dyes should arrive today. I already have four skeins of different blends of yarn, all "bare" or undyed, from KnitPicks.

More dyeing equipment that I've been gathering. For safety, it all has to be separate from what you use for cooking. It was all pretty cheap, too. Measuring spoons, cup, foam brushes from the Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart soak tub and stainless steel stock pot. The pot is just fine for hobby dyeing, but probably isn't heavy gauge enough to work for a business. I already have gloves and some filter masks, also good enough for hobby dyeing, but not for a long-term business dye operation.

But before I could imagine myself doing this, I wanted to prepare as much as I could by researching dyeing technique and color theory. I was also inspired to go deeper into the color research after reading and loving Victoria Finlay's Color: A Natural History of the Palette.  So, I read about color theory and color mixing in Michael Wilcox's Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green. Then I ordered Gail Callahan's Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece. Callahan not only offers technical know-how for dyeing with acid dyes, she devotes much thought to color theory, as well. She's developed a variation on the traditional color wheel: her Color Grid (that link has a short video of Callahan demonstrating how to use it). Then, to really bring the color theory and the dyeing together, I ordered and read Susan Rex's Complex Color: Color Mixing for WashFast Acid Dye. Rex not only gives specific recipes (in the form of percentages of primaries to mix), she gives explanations and insight into why certain colors and dyes behave the way they do. I've also been watching Laura Jinks Jimenez (aka Gynx)'s fantastic video podcast series, The Dyer's Notebook. (If you go back to watch her from the beginning, you may need to check her YouTube channel for the earliest videos.) I now plan on creating my own color wheel with either the paints I have (stored somewhere downstairs) or using the dyes, once I mix them into stock. **so excited!!**

My second project is rather nerdier. I've always been an Agatha Christie fan. I read many of her books when I was in high school. I discovered, not one, but two active Ravelry groups dedicated to reading her novels and discussing patterns that may have fit the time periods (early to mid-Twentieth century). One of the groups is dedicated to Miss Marple, my favorite Christie detective. I've developed a personal reading plan to read all of the books and stories featuring Miss Marple in order, comparing how she's characterized and how else she may have changed over time, or how she reflects Christie's personal philosophies on human nature. I want to reread them partly because my mind's eye has been skewed towards my favorite BBC incarnation of Miss Marple, played by Joan Hickson. Also, I think there's more to be found in the texts now that I'm older and not just reading for the thrill of the mystery. These are not "classics" in the Western Canon vein, but they are a snapshot of history. And I just love Agatha Christie.

OK, that's enough of my academic pursuits.

I grabbed Mom and we attended our first knitting retreat! It was a day retreat held at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center organized by the Smoky Mountain Knitters Guild.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely. I took a nice walk after lunch (excellent food). Unfortunately there's no picture of the actual Lake Logan. The retreat center doesn't actually have a view of it. You may (possibly) have heard of Lake Logan. The lumber industry and lumber barons featured in local writer Ron Rash's novel Serena were very much a real presence in the Lake Logan and Sunburst area of Haywood County. The novel is now a movie starring the latest Hollywood movers and shakers Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. This area now brushes right up against the Pisgah National Forest.

I strayed from the gravel road to get closer to the water.

Lake Logan is on the other side of that bridge.

As you can see, it was an absolutely gorgeous day. I was reminded why I love this time of year. And why I need to get outside more often than I have been lately.

For the retreat, we had each brought yarn and had a rousing Chinese or White Elephant swap. Yarn was being picked and stolen all over the room! We all ended up with beautiful new skeins to add to our stashes. Mom got a hand sewn "box" with two skeins of Interlacements Sweet Feet (hand dyed 83% superwash merino, 18.5% merino, and 18.5% Tussah silk) in Brown and Canyonland Plus. I've only got a picture of the Brown below because I've already got the Canyonland Plus on the swift, but it has a similar rusty brown, with some blue/grey going on. Someone told me that they've only ever seen it locally sold at Friends and Fiberworks, and it is apparently discontinued because its not on the Interlacements site.

I received two balls of Noro Ayatori in color way 11, which is a mix of grey tones and a splash of bright yellow in 60 wool / 40 silk.

I'm making significant progress on my Wayside Lace Cardigan. I'm about midway through the back.

Last night I cast on a new project. This is a textured, triangular shawl called Nae by Anat Rodan. "Nae" is the Japanese word for seedlings. I've called mine "Dragon Seedlings" because I'm knitting it out of Earth Guild's Dragon Tale 4/2 cotton (Winter Wood color way). It is coming together very quickly and already has a nice drape.

I also dyed two more of the hand spun skeins that we picked up from Julie Wilson's farm. The first time I used black beans in a cold dye vat. This time I used coffee and set the dye with heat, up to 180 degrees. I think the two colors go well together, but I'm frustrated with the shawl pattern I chose (am I making errors or is it the pattern?), which is Colonnade by Stephen West. I'm also a little frustrated because I can already see how the black bean dye is not "fast". I didn't think I'd see mottling or fading this soon! And I'm frustrated with the texture of the yarn. I'm beginning to be spoiled by the silky stuff. Hrumph.

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