Category Archives: Patty

Crafting for Christmas – For Better or Worse

Holidays. Amiright? (I like to play the part of the awkward stand-up comedian around here).

My family insists on giving gifts to each other every year. No matter if we’re strapped for cash, or more likely, we just have no idea what to get each other, my suggestions of dropping the gift giving are ignored. I would so much rather my parents just mail me a card with some nice sentiment (that they wrote, not just picked up off the shelf), than the stream of sad and ridiculous gifts they’ve given over the years. I know, I know, this sounds so ungrateful. I just hate the idea of obligated gift giving. I mean, this sense of obligation led my mom to send me a salmon figurine with a lid in the top (the lid handle was the dorsal fin). Think something like this, but plastic, and more poorly painted:

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You’d rather get a card too, now wouldn’t you?

So last year I decided to go with something more personal and handmade, and gave them all knitted gifts. For my mom, dad and grandma, there were socks. My niece got a sweater, my sister some Norwegian mittens, and for my brother, a hat with his name on it, in binary code (he’s a geek). Here’s my niece in her sweater, man I love that kid:

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Everyone really loved their presents, my mom ooohed and aahed over all of it, which of course makes me happy. When I asked a few months later how the socks were wearing, she said, oh I don’t wear them, they’re too nice. Ugh. Same goes for my dad, and apparently they’re too warm for my grandma. What grandma has feet that are too warm?

It makes me sad to think that my parents think something is too nice to wear – they’re just socks. I’m sad that they don’t think enough of themselves to see that they deserve a little treat, made with love. And while I’m sad, then I start thinking that this is also about wanting acceptance and recognition from my parents, which at 37, I’d like to think I’m beyond needing. I waver back and forth between being irritated they don’t use my gifts, (although who knows, maybe socks are my parents’ unwanted salmon figurine), and inspired to try again to make them things they will like.

So this year’s plan is a little more modest. Some simple cotton socks for my mom, something store bought for my dad and grandma, a scarf out of my handspun yarn for my sister, and the other stuff is unclear. That said, back in the summer I was saying “no knitted gifts this year” – except for my sister, who as a knitter and spinner herself, totally gets it – and here I am now in October with a small list, that seems to be growing. I’ve already added a hat for my girlfriend, some washcloths for a friend’s mom who we’ll be visiting over the holidays, a skirt for my niece, and the best part, a sweater for my cat:

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Oh yeah, I’m apparently that lady.

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Breaking Black – San Francisco

I saw my lovely friends Carolyn and Kelly talking about “breaking black”, and sounding like “Breaking Bad”, awesome and dark TV show, I wanted to get in on the action. I decided to dye some KnitPicks Stroll Fingering yarn that I had in my stash, using Wilton Icing Color.

I started by soaking my yarn in 1/2 cup white vinegar and about 4 cups of water overnight. The next evening, I squeezed the liquid out of the yarn, but did not rinse it.

I wanted to use this project to test out different concentrations of the black dye. I wasn’t sure how to measure the dye, but decided to just stick a wooden skewer in the dye and count that as “one part”.

I made up four containers of 1/2 cup of water, and added 1 part of dye to the first container, 2 parts to the next, 4 parts to the next, and 8 parts to the final container.

I set the damp yarn out on two sheets of plastic wrap, and used a spoon to pour the different concentrations of dye over 1/4 sections of the skein. The dyed sections started as green in color, and turned purple almost immediately as the black dye reacted to the vinegar in the yarn.

I tried to press the dye mixture into the yarn as best as I could, and then wrapped the yarn up in the plastic wrap, and set it in a steamer, on top of boiling water. I left it in the steamer for about 20 minutes, until the water in the plastic wrap was clear.

 

The plastic wrap/steaming method is something I’ve used before, and I like it because it generally allows specific sections of dye/yarn to stay separate from each other – rather than immersing the entire skein of yarn in a dye bath. The downside of this method though is that some sections of the yarn can remain undyed.

Here’s how my yarn ended up:

I didn’t really love the color this ended up as, although the section in the upper right corner, which had 4 parts black dye to 1/2 cup of water is the most interesting, since both the brownish red and the teal colors are visible. I reskeined the yarn to get a better sense of what it would look like knit up:

I liked how this looked reskeined, but I still wasn’t happy with it. I decided to dye the yarn again, by immersing the whole skein in a dye bath, made of about 20 drops blue and about 5 drops of green of the Safeway version of McCormick Food Color. Before the immersion bath, I dropped a few drops of red McCormick dye directly onto the yarn. I let the yarn simmer at about 180 degrees F, for about 20 minutes until the water was clear. Here’s my final result:

I really like the final yarn. I like the result of doing two different batches of dye – I’m not sure if I could have gotten this result through just one method or the other. Now the question is just what to do with this…it’s only about 175 yards. I’m thinking stripes? Maybe combined with some red sock yarn I have in my stash?

I just finished another two step dyeing process, and I’ll post pictures and an explanation of that soon!

Another view from the “Back of the Bus”

Why hello! I’m Patty. Come on in and stay a bit.

I’ve been knitting for about a year and a half. My first introduction to knitting came after asking a friend about a great little rug on her floor. The rug was squishy, funky, and colorful (which is probably how I might be described, but more on that later).

“I made that!”, she said, asking if I knew how to knit.

“Why would I want to learn to knit?” I asked, considering knitting to be for old ladies and shut-ins.

After convincing me that knitting was not so bad after all, and I would need to learn anyway so I could make one of these rugs, because hell knows she’s not going to make me one, I reluctantly accepted her instruction. Little did I know that just a few months later, I would become a shut-in of sorts, and would most definitely feel like an old lady.

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The rug that started it all.

In June of last year, I was bouldering for the second time ever with some friends. I honestly didn’t want to go, I had a bad feeling about it that day – I wanted to just sit and watch. Not wanting to seem like the slightly chubby friend who’s athletically challenged (oh wait, I am), I swallowed my apprehension and got on the wall. Half way up I slipped and fell onto the thick padding below. My friends cheered and said “good job, try again!”

How I wish I hadn’t tried again. I got all the way to the top, about 12′ from the ground. I felt excited and proud that I had made it…until I felt my grip starting to slip. Since I’d fallen and been fine on the last attempt, I pushed off from the wall and jumped down.

I didn’t hear the my leg bones snapping – but I knew immediately I had hurt myself. I looked down and saw my lower leg pointed at an odd angle. “Is it broken?” I asked, my friends and partner rushing to me. I must have gone into shock because at that point I honestly thought it was like a shoulder – somehow it could be popped back into place, and I would be fine. Clearly, that was not to be.

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The view from my hospital bed.

I spent the next month in and out of the hospital, ending up with 4 plates and 26 screws holding my tibia and fibula back together. For the next 3 or 4 months, I spent long hours with my foot elevated, watching bad television, high on pain killers (for the first month at least), and continuing to knit.

Knitting gave me something else to focus on besides the pain, the fear, and the inconvenience of my injury. Researching knitting, patterns and yarn kept me intellectually engaged, and led me to this amazing place called Ravelry. I was thoroughly hooked. Finding Ravelry led me to this group of amazing women who have become people I genuinely care about, even though we’ve never met – although I hope to change that over time!

My goals for myself with this blog are to make people laugh, post tutorials, and links to helpful information that I’ve found through my rather extensive internet research (research, screwing around, it’s all semantics, really). My style is generally pretty irreverent, some might say crass. I love photography and videography, and I hope to bring some of that to this blog as well. That’s my photo up there in the header, of this gorgeous Wild Apple Bohus sweater kit from Solsilke. I’m the kind of knitter who isn’t afraid of trying something stupidly complicated, and I love encouraging knitting friends to trust themselves and try something new and challenging. A few patterns are percolating in my head that I’m looking forward to sharing, including a pattern for this sweater:

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Pattern coming soon!

Thanks for reading – I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes us!

Patty