Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yarn Dying Experiments

I have always wanted to play with yarn dying, and in the last few months, with the help of my friends, Melissa and Kate, I've had two opportunities to do just that.

The first dye day was with Melissa in July. I brought three yarns I wanted to experiment with.

The first one was a free skein of lace weight that I got with a Knit Picks order, and it looks better in the photograph than it did in real life. The color reminded me of dirty dishwater—probably why they were giving it away for free—so any other color would be an improvement.

Here's what the yarn looked like after a dip in the dye bath. Much better, right? I call this colorway Radish.

The second yarn, a skein of Beaverslide Dry Goods 2-ply sport weight that was a KAL prize, was a much prettier shade of cream.

But I don't wear that color much, so we dyed the skein blue.

The last skein of yarn, a wool-silk blend that I got in a swap, was a nice light green.

While this colorway was certainly pretty, I wanted a deeper green. This was my first try at over-dyeing it:

It was better, but not quite what I had in mind. Melissa thought the silk content probably took the dye differently and muted the color. So we tried again a couple months later, using much more dye to make a deep green.

As you can see, that good long soak in green dye turned out a spectacular deep green skein.

Kate joined us at our second dye day in September, and the three of us each dyed a sock blank. We had such a fun time, and I love the final result!



Here is what the sock blank looks like knit up:

While two times don't make me an expert or an indie dyer, I may have to try some more yarn dying experiments sometime soon, and I'll share the results when I do.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

October Photo of the Month: Doughnuts or Socks?

Nope, I couldn't just pick one photo of the month for October.

The first photo of the month happened on October 1st, when I was with my friends, sisters Melissa and Kate, in the village of Deep Cove, which is near Kate's home in North Vancouver, BC. They kept talking all weekend about Honey's and their fantastic doughnuts, and on Sunday morning we braved the crowd—a line out the door—and got Honey's signature maple frosted doughnuts and coffee. YUM! Absolutely the best doughnut I have ever eaten! I managed to snap a photo with my phone before I ate every last crumb.


I took the second photo of the month at home, right after I finished knitting my latest pair of socks. I cast on the socks back in July, when I needed a pair for car knitting and it only dawned on me in mid-October that the Intrepid Otter colorway, Acid Dreams, would make great Halloween socks. Fortunately, I finished knitting them on October 28th, just in time for the pumpkin carving party that we go to every year.


There has been quite a bit of knitting and other fiber adventures happening in my life lately, and I have been remiss in not sharing them with you. But that is about to change; I promise to be back with a new post in the next few days.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

September Photo of the Month: The View from the Top

Isn't this view spectacular? I hiked to the  top of Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park. I was looking north, at 5,700 feet. You can see Unicorn Peak, the city of Port Angeles, Washington, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and on the far shore, Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria, British Columbia. I took this photo with my iPhone.

Monday, September 25, 2017

August Photos of the Month: Spiced Plum Butter!


I couldn't just post one photo for August. There were many exciting events during the month, especially the eclipse—which was at 92 per cent of totality here in Seattle—but the most exciting event for me was learning to make Pflaumenmus, otherwise known as spiced plum butter. I came across the recipe last year, when I read Luisa Weis' delightful book, My Berlin Kitchen. The recipe is also included in her wonderful cookbook, Classic German Baking. I discovered the recipe too late last summer to make it, but this year, when the Italian plums on our tree were ripe, I was ready! You can see some of those delicious plums in the photo above. It is wonderful having a tree that produces fruit so prolifically, but there are always too many to eat ourselves and give away, so this gives us another way to use and enjoy them throughout the year.

I documented the Pflaumenmus process in photos:

Step one: pit and quarter the plums and put them in a large cast iron pan (we used our Dutch oven).



Step two: add sugar, a cinnamon stick and two whole cloves and let sit, covered, overnight.

Step three: bake uncovered for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Step four:  once you take the pan out of the oven, remove the cinnamon stick and the cloves (if you can find them) and use an immersion blender to puree the plum mixture. This was probably the first time that we have used our immersion blender, which was a wedding present 14 years ago!

Step five: fill the jars to the top.

Step six: screw the lids onto the jars tightly, turn upside down and let cool.

Step seven: when the mood strikes, open a jar and spread some plum butter on toast, add to yogurt, put on ice cream, or come up with your own tasty use for it. Here is what I did:
YUM!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

July Photo of the Month: Infinity Mirrors


My favorite photo of the month didn't happen until the very last day of July, when I went with my friend, Stephanie, to the Yayoi Kusama exhibit, Infinity Mirrors at the Seattle Art Museum. The whole exhibit was mind-blowingly amazing, and I took several photos of the wonders I saw. This photo is my favorite.

The exhibit is in Seattle until September 10. It will be in Los Angeles this fall, and then in Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta in 2018. If you live near any of these cities, don't miss it!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

June Photo of the Month: Shining Sea

Looking west toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Deception Pass State Park. I took this photo with my point-and-shoot camera, a Canon SX620 HS. I got this camera for my birthday in March and it takes fantastic photos, as you can see. This is one of my best so far.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Second Sock Conundrum

Why does it take me two months and twenty-one days to get to this point,


and only seven days to get here?


I guess I don't have second sock syndrome...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

May Photo of the Month: Stretching to the Horizon

It's kind of ironic that I am just now posting this quintessentially spring-like photo in mid-June, just days from the summer solstice. My excuse is that spring was really late in the Pacific Northwest, and the annual tulip festival in the Skagit Valley, which usually happens in April, actually stretched into the first week of May this year.

I took this photo on May 2nd, one of the few dry and sunny days we had that week. We were at Roozengaarde, and after wandering in the display gardens, Mr. D and I took a short walk over to the breathtaking tulip fields, where this photo was taken. Tulips almost as far as the eye can see—perfection!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Knitting with Friends...and Critters!

I promised in my last post that there were several other candidates for photo of the month from my California road trip, and two of those photos were taken while I was at the Northern California Knitting Retreat, which I attended again this year. You can view those two photos at the end of this post.

But first, I want to show you a little bit of the main activity at the retreat: lots and lots of knitting, going on all throughout the weekend.

 Knitting in the Fireside Room
That's my roommate, Debra (JavaNut), and Tracy (Thumperina)
Some serious concentration going on
Gayle and her gorgeous (and growing) blanket

There was also some stash enhancement and stash reduction going on in the destash room. I contributed some yarn to this picture, but didn't bring anything home.

The peaceful setting is also a big part of of the retreat experience. Despite cold (for California) temperatures and some rain, I managed to get out for a walk every day. This is where the critters came into the story. Look at what I was lucky enough to see and photograph early one morning:

Yes, those really are three male wild turkeys displaying in front of one lucky female. I imagined her saying, "Hmmm, which one of these hot guys should I choose?"

The next morning I captured a moment of perfection: the sun peeking over the horizon, and another wild creature greeting the day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

April Photo of the Month: The Peace of Evening

I spent more than half of April on a road trip to California, and, as a result, there were many candidates for Photo of the Month, just from the trip. I'll be sharing some of those photos in an upcoming blog post, but here is the photo that I finally decided to post as the April Photo of the Month.

That is Morro Rock—in Morro Bay, of course—with the afterglow of sunset behind it. Truly a peaceful scene!


Friday, April 21, 2017

March Photo of the Month (So late, so sorry): Rain on Red

I have been traveling since April 4th, so this is really, really late. March was especially characterized by rain, rain, rain, but there were also some signs of early spring. This lovely Hellebore was in full bloom in early March, and despite the rain, it was a welcome sight.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Fun at Stitches West

You know you're in for a good time at Stitches West when you see this in the hotel elevator:
And then, after the market preview on Thursday night, there was Prosecco (and sushi for Sarah).
The classes were great. I learned a lot in my knitting two-at-a-time class with Patty Lyons, but didn't get a photo.

On Friday, my Stitch and Click class with the Shibaguyz gave me lots of new ideas for my project photography, including:
how to make a tripod for an iPhone out of a coffee cup;
cool photography equipment and lenses for iPads and iPhones; and 
the importance of good lighting and background for yarn and project photography.
We had lots of opportunities to practice what we learned, using the photo set-ups/lighting around the room, and also one that was outdoors, where we could take some photos in natural light. I got several good project photos, and this one, which was, far and away, the best.
But for me, Stitches is mostly about getting together with my knitting friends, especially Sarah and Martha. We traveled from Seattle together and we were able to get adjoining rooms in the hotel. Somehow, I didn't get a single photo of the three of us together, but Sarah did—thanks, Sarah.


I did get a photo of our shadows, though...
I also got to spend some time with one of my online friends, Wendy of Knitters Brewing Company. We really didn't plan to both be wearing our Hitofude cardigans, but it made for a great photo.
I also went to the podcaster get-together and hung out with the poncho ladies (left to right, me, Kelly, Marcy, Marsha, Barb and Tracy).

And of course, Stitches West is also all about the yarn. 

And I bought a little bit...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Madrona: Just a Glimpse

I know I promised you a detailed account of my adventures at Stitches West, but before I share that, I want to fill you in on my very quick visit to the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I have gone to Madrona every year since 2009. Some years I have taken classes and stayed overnight at the Hotel Murano, and other years, like the last two, I have just gone down for the day. This year, my friends, sisters Melissa and Kate, joined me, and we had a fun time exploring all the goodies in the market, lunching in the hotel and knitting together at a nearby Starbucks—because we couldn't find anyplace to sit together in the Murano!

I didn't manage to get a photo of the three of us together, but Kate did, and you can see her photo here on her blog. Melissa did take a photo of Kate and me in our matching ponchos:


This matchy-matchy event was planned well in advance. We both knit the Tea Cozy Summer Poncho, which was last year's LYS Tour pattern from the Tea Cozy yarn shop in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We also picked the same colorway, as you can see, but we each dealt with not having quite enough yarn to finish the pattern as written a little differently, and we also wore them in a slightly different way. Melissa also purchased the yarn and is knitting the pattern, but she wore Kate's lovely design, the Silk Road Wrap, instead.

I did a tiny bit of shopping in the marketplace, because, after all, why go to Madrona if you don't get at least a tiny bit of yarn? I bought a luscious new Hazel Knits yarn, Ethereal, at the Fiber Gallery booth. It's a 70/20/10 merino, silk, cashmere blend, and I chose the Hydrangea colorway, one of my favorites.


I also got a rustic blend of merino and silk from Isis Yarn. I know this local vendor from seeing her at Knit Fit every year, and she always seems to have interesting blends and beautiful colors:


So that's all there is from Madrona this year, but keep an eye on the blog in the next few days for more yarn-y goodness from Stitches West!