Monday, August 31, 2009

Lots of dipping, but not in the lake.

Another weekend in the "summer that never came" found us inside the cottage staring out at the grey mist and generally miserable weather. We did manage to get a walk in on Saturday between rainstorms, and did the water testing on Sunday in the mist.

However, I had already decided to use this time to do some dip dyeing for my Crewel course in a couple of weeks. Although I haven't dip dyed since my course at Trent a few years back, I decided to try. In the event of a total catastrophe, they will be selling supplies there. But I figure even if I only get a couple done, I'll be further ahead.

Choosing the colours from the formula sheet, without the benefit of a sample, is always the toughest part. I just picked two and decided to do one on Saturday morning and one on Sunday morning, before Rick was up and ready to do other stuff.

Saturday was a Yellow to Purple transition, and I think I may have made things more difficult for myself, rather than easier. My strips were too long, which made dipping very difficult (and may have affected the formula). Instead of doing one large piece, I tore it into four pieces and pinned it to a coat hanger. It wasn't as successful as I remembered, but I think I remember the pot being on the floor on my little hot plate, which made the dipping much easier than on top of the stove. I also thought my colours were pretty "wimpy", but I had followed the formula, so left them to dry before I made my final decision.

Sunday's results were much better. This was just a Blue formula with Blue Violet on the dark end. I used one piece instead of four and it wasn't as long as the previous one. And there was more dye so the colours were quite beautiful.

I was so happy with it, that I decided to add more dye to my Saturday project, while I had everything on the stove. And since I already had the Blue Violet in the pot, why not? The results were much better, although the picture I took on my blackberry is very fuzzy and not worth sharing.



Dyeing early in the morning (and the dip dyeing went very quickly compared to jar dyeing) gave me more hooking time later in the day. The weather was no better on Sunday - that is until we started packing up to come home. So, Max edged ahead "by a nose" and the little raccoon got his tail outlined.

It's amazing how when I wound the piece on the Cheticamp frame to give some new area to hook, I realized again how big this piece really is! The fact that Max's eye is no longer visible in the vertical area between the rails reminds me that he is one big critter. I know it's not easy to make sense of a nostril and muzzle, but that's where I will be working next weekend. Next time I wind the frame, I'll try to take a picture of all the progress.



All in all it was a pretty productive weekend. Next weekend I will also try a Red Orange dip dye formula and maybe some green for my leaves. I feel a little bolder each time I dye - guess that's the same with everything.

I'm hoping to do some in-the-lake dipping next weekend too, since Labour Day is often the last time it's warm enough to do so. My optimism about weather on long weekends is waning, especially this year - though the long-range forecast looks promising.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

6 Value Dyeing and The Value of Support



This picture is my 6-value swatch in progress for the upcoming course at S.T.A.R.T. in Gananoque in September. S.T.A.R.T. is the annual teacher training weekend where teachers in the OHCG teach other teachers a selected topic - this year, Crewel design.

A while ago I did some spot dyeing for my dark background. It went well enough to fortify me to attempt some colour swatches for the various motifs. So this morning, I assembled all my supplies and fortified by my first cup of coffee, proceeded to do the Peony formula in Christine Little's Sky Blue Pink with a Green Smell.

My value swatch dyeing to date has been seldom and not always successful. The method that Christine outlined in her book (isn't that the best name ever?) seemed simpler and didn't involve any math, so I decided to give it a whirl. Her books feature Magic Carpet dyes, which is what I use.

She starts off pretty much the same as any other dye exercise. Mark 6 jars with numbers 1 (lightest) through 6 (darkest). Mix the formula in 1 CBW. The next step is the basis of her method. You pour 1/2 cup of the 1 cup formula into a second measuring cup and pour that into your Jar #6 (darkest value). then you top the formula in the first measuring cup back up to the 1 cup measure - and repeat the process - 1/2 cup goes into measuring cup 2 and then gets added to Jar #5 - and so on and so on. So you are topping up from 1/2 to 1 cup and then halving the mixture for each progressively lighter value.

The stirring and sweating was exactly as I remembered and my course at Trent with Barbie Baker Dykem all came flooding back. This time, however, the results were really great. There is just the right progression from one value to the next with no big leaps and no two values too similar. Yippee, I think I have found another way to avoid math in my life!!!

However, no sooner had I finished my dyeing exercise than a note came on my BlackBerry from the committee attaching a dip dye formula for the class participants who will be doing the wide-cut Crewel - namely me. Oh well, now that I have had two dyeing successes in a row, I will give dip dye a whirl next weekend with one of the other colours and still use my beautiful swatches if I can.



This picture is my left hand wearing my new Theraglove - my right hand has one as well. I learned about these from a couple of people at Trent this year. One of my students came to class directly from a "Knit Off" (I didn't even know those existed) and she was wearing hers, so I asked her for the scoop. She said she wears them all the time to give her hands a little help. And after her victory at the K.O., she really needed the extra support.

My friend Loretta was also wearing one when I visited her classroom and swears by them. Loretta hooks in the primitive style - wide cuts - and several hours a day. She thinks these are what keep her going. They are like support hose for your wrists and really do seem to make a difference. I did a little online research and found mine at Mary Maxim, but I think you can probably get them in most knitting shops.

They are supposed to help with any repetitive craft exercise. And since I do them all, my lovely blue animal print beauties are going to get a run for the money (approx. $24.). I am delighted to give my poor hands any help I can. Heaven knows I certainly abuse them enough. Between the computer and the knitting and the hooking and whatever else, they look like the mitts of a much older woman, and the arthritis that is already in my index fingers is not about to stop there, I'm sure.

Both of these things seemed worth sharing here on the blog. I heartily recommend both the 1/2 cup swatch method and the Theragloves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I didn't do on my summer vacation.


As you can see from the picture of the raccoon on the "Max" rug, I didn’t get nearly as much hooking one as I hoped I would. In fact, all I accomplished on this mat was un-hooking the raccoon’s head (which was far too stripe-y before) and re-hooking it along with most of his body. I think I am much happier with it, although a little disappointed in the slow progress.

However….



I did finish these two Kilim pillows (I’m sure Anne is smiling as she sees them) which I started at Trent in ‘04. Since they were meant for the leather sofa and loveseat which are still in our house Toronto, there was no sense of urgency to getting them finished. But, our bed here at the cottage definitely needed a touch of colour and these two pillows are perfect with the Oriental carpet that is at the foot of the bed.

Also, we had my wonderful ma-in-law with us for most of the first week, which meant two things: too much driving (the trip to Peterborough from Parry Sound is 3 hours in good traffic, so when you go to and from in the same day, which we did on our first Sunday, that’s basically an entire day spent in the car.) When we took her back home on Thursday, we went from Peterborough to Toronto since we had to come back to the city for a wedding. Going that route cuts off an hour and a bit, so Thursday was only 5 hours of driving.

The other thing was that while she was here, I didn't think it was fair to retreat to the basement to hook, so I did things that were more portable.

Like this little Amigurumi giraffe – Georgia. She is a gift for a co-worker’s new little guy. I didn’t get this done in time for his early arrival, but he is now starting to hold things, so this is the perfect time for giraffe-giving, I think.



Another thing I did was a big intervention on my daughter’s rug – my one and only Oriental (so far) that I gave her for her 25th birthday. It needed some major TLC to undo some "Jasper the new kitten" damage. Under the 1/4 inch of cat hair (she had no idea how to clean it, so didn’t) were several pulls (my first personal experience of pet/rug damage). Once I had removed the hair and saw what there was to be re-hooked, it wasn’t quite as bad as I first thought – although it did consume one entire rainy afternoon.

Oh yes, there is also a completed “February Lady" sweater and one and a half socks, so at least all that car time was not wasted. Plus three books read, all of which I would heartily recommend. “Julie and Julia” was much funnier than I expected and I can’t wait to see the movie. The two Jodi Picoult novels were also great cottage books – I really enjoyed “My Sister’s Keeper” (so much more than the movie) that I was pretty sure I would like her other writing. I devoured “The Plain Truth” and “Vanishing Acts” in three days each.

And I have lots of freckles and a slightly red nose to show for the good weather that arrived in our second week. (The only good weather of the summer, so far.)

So, at the end of the two weeks, I guess I was pretty productive. And I know it was a wonderful holiday – because neither Rick nor myself want to go back – at all.

Oh well, may well be our last summer vacation, since we’re hoping to be here full time by the next one.