My first sock!

November 27th, 2010

Yesterday went by in a trance of sock-weight yarn. I finished my first sock ever, a little sockette, and was almost done with the other sock by the end of the day. It’s all i did, selecting “next episode” of the streaming Highlander over and over while Christine was at her mandolin lesson and at her tutoring. Too late, as Christine was just finishing up her warm up and tuning to leave, did i realize i could have gone with her to her lesson. At that point, i didn’t realize i was going to crochet all day.

My First Sock

I weighed my sockette and the remaining yarn and found i will get *almost* a pair out of the light fingering weight ball (230 yards/50 grams/1.76 ounces = 130 ypo). I have two skeins of this inherited yarn. I can stretch the self striping yarn if i do heels and toes out of some solid sock-weight yarn.

One of the lessons about yarn craft that surprised me is the design importance of the weight and behavior of the yarn itself. It’s obvious once you think about it, but the incredible variation in material still surprises me. Each step introduces a different behavior: the source fiber, the spinning, the plying. It drives me mildly nuts that there isn’t a very standardized yarn description. The fiber content is usually pretty clear. The weight of the yarn can be deduced, the ply is some times reported. There is a metric, wraps per inch, that would give the sense of bulk of the yarn, but that’s rarely reported. One could have a loosely spun and tightly spun yarn which has the same yardage per ounce.

Then there are often a knitters gauge reported (n stitches per some swatch size on some sort of needle) which is maddening: i don’t knit, and even if i did, stitch per inch can be so variable. I suppose this is an attempt to get at wpi — but why not just report wpi?

Why do i care? Well, i’d like to buy some heel and toe yarn, now that i’ve determined i can do this sock thing. Heel and toe yarn could be neutral, and the pretty pretty hand dyed sock yarns make the visible bits. So i begin shopping: it turns out the yarn i have is a little lighter than your average sock weight (130 yards per oz compared to 106 yards per oz). EBay has destashed sock yarn available: what’s a fair price?

Well, first i have to find what i’d be likely to buy at retail. It seems Knit Picks carries a light fingering weight at roughly $2 per oz in a good blend.

A regular sockweight yarn, undyed, at Dharma would be $2.43/oz.

I’m tempted by a silk noil sock yarn at Dharma because i could dye it myself with the fiber reactive dyes i like. It would be unsuitable, i believe, for heels and toes. Noil is a short fiber, and i suspect it would wear poorly on the heels.

I did read about a luxury sock yarn Lang Jawoll, that comes with “a bonus spool of matching reinforcement yarn to carry along when knitting the toes & heels, the parts that get the most wear.” I wonder about adding plain nylon threads to carry along in toes and heels. It seems like a straightforward solution.

What i’d like to figure out is how to cover the bottom of the sock with something like hemp to make slippers with a rugged base but soft and pretty top. I suppose i could just sew a hemp sole to a sock. The silk noil yarn could make the top and foot facing sole. And there’s the fun of uppers for the mohops (although i’ve bought silk ribbon from Dharma with the intention of using that for mohop uppers.
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Amaryllis and other bulbs

October 17th, 2010

I’ve been growing an amaryllis in our worm bin for the past year. It’s probably been there six months, so i’m going to follow kdjoergensen’s instructions at Dave’s Garden and harvest the bulb. The gardener writes, “3-4 months later the flower scapes will appear” and then, once it is repotted, “it will typically flower within 3-5 weeks.”

I also bought a Red Lion amaryllis at the hardware store this past weekend. Looks like if i want it as a mid to late December bloom I should plant it mid November.

The other bulbs are from Van Zyverden Mammoth Yellow Crocus (12 bulbs ; plant 2″ deep), Hyacinth Carnegie (white, 3 bulbs; plant 6″ deep), and Daffodil Cheerfulness (double pale yellow , 5 bulbs; plant 6″ deep). There’s a size on the packages. The crocus says 3.1″-3.5″, the hyacinth 5.5″-6″ — maybe this is the size of the bloom? It isn’t the bulb size or the height.

I bought the hyacinth and daffodils for forcing. I’ve a forcing pot for five bulbs. In looking for a simple guide to how long i should allow for the bulbs to start, i found a few notes that gave me pause: 14-16 cold weeks? In pots? At least this guide for water forcing says the bulbs can be kept cold in bags. This guide makes it sound even easier. I found a note that says, “after resting they typically bloom in three to five weeks.”

Looks like if i should just put some bulbs in a bowl every four weeks. I’ve put the hyacinths and daffodils in the fridge so they’ll have six to eight cold weeks, at least.

Airmail 100 Mail Art Invitation

July 31st, 2010

You are invited be part of the historic 100th anniversary celebrations by creating a piece of airmail mail art and sending it to the Modesto Art Museum for the international exhibition in January and February 2011. Just follow the directions below.

Mail Art Theme: airmail, the beginning of airmail, future airmail, some aspect of airmail, faux historic airmail, zeppelins, space airmail, fantasy airmail, etc.

Format: Envelopes (letter, legal, DL, or C6 envelopes, maximum size 4.5×9.5 inches, 115×245 mm) post cards (same size limits), and stamps. We will frame and display only the side with postage and address. The postage and address should be part of the art work unless it is a stamp.

Deadline for all entries: Monday, 15 November 2010

Exhibition: Modesto, California, watch for details. Also online exhibit. Viewers and artists will be able to comment online about the art.

Documentation of Participation: on museum web site and to all adult artists

Return: mail art will not be returned, it will become part of the museum’s collection

Send Entries to:

Airmail 100

Modesto Art Museum

404 Patrick Lane

Modesto, CA 95350 USA


I did a piece with a similar theme in 2005, “colorflymail” [FM2005.13 finds the source images and JEB-ATC2005.01.03.jpg finds an ATC card]. This was when my images were hosted on my home linux server: i never found the time to resurrect the album software on one of the Macs.

To Dye For 2010: Back on the wagon

July 15th, 2010

I am clearly wanting to “do it right” this year, compared to last year’s impulsive dive into dying. I’m not sure why, but i’ve put more deliberation into this than…. Well, i’m not sure what, when measuring duration of planning to duration of actual work. Beam time on the Michigan State cyclotron is about the only thing that comes to mind.

I’m calculating how much dye i need. I’m deploying all the blanks into target containers. I’ve documented the techniques i want to try. Am i killing all sense of serendipity, spontaneity? Am i scared of the dye?

Not sure. Tomorrow morning will tell!


So i tried making the dyes just at dusk, and i must say, i feel like i am missing dye. I seemed to just barely have 3 tbsp of purple dye, and that’s what i put in the 2c container
for the purple; i only made one red cup and one brown cup. I feel like i must have a unit wrong somewhere, but all the checking i’ve validates the concentration recipe.

Plans — from before the dye limits were observed — after the cut. Read the rest of this entry »

Dye kit (and a day’s adventures)

May 16th, 2010

This weekend i pulled out my kit to see what was needed (trays for tray dying) and what i had misplaced. I don’t think i’ve technically misplaced my respirator, but it’s not in the dye kit. I expect it’s in the closet.

Over the past few weeks i’ve tied my shiburi/tie-die patterns in the rayon dresses and have been winding up skeins of crochet yarn on my experimental swift.

I hesitated this weekend to mix the dyes: it’s a very demanding week coming up and i don’t quite think i can be sure i can dye next Saturday as well. I need to make some decisions about dye intensities, quantities, and recipes, and i think i’m about ready to go.

IMG_0560Nightgown Tie patternNightgown Tie pattern
Old jeans dyebath layoutNightgown Tie pattern die lay-outNightgown Tie pattern die lay-out
Ad Hoc Yarn SwiftAd Hoc Yarn SwiftAd Hoc Yarn Swift

I did get a pleasant bit of cooking in. I’m glad i hadn’t yet cooked the baby artichokes i received in my organic box on Wednesday, because it wasn’t until yesterday morning that this recipe for a artichoke and orange salad with mint and saffron showed up in my reading list. I didn’t want to wait until i had slivered almonds and the right olives, so i made it anyway. I was in the mood for a warm dish, and couldn’t bear the thought of just draining off the saffron infused water the artichokes had been cooked in, so i added a bit of corn starch to thicken it and poured the warm dish over rice. Delicious.

IMG_0509Artichokes with Saffron and Oranges

After the cut, the dye kit inventory.
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A souvenir Deckbill from a lovely evening -or- adventures in producing a chapbook

May 15th, 2010

One morning a few weeks ago i wrote about the previous evening in the form of a whimsical play. Christine was entertained, and, from the following conversation, this whimsical Land Mail Art Object project was born.

First run production

One of the interesting challenges was in the layout of the booklet or chapbook. I did not find basic templates available on the web. I spent some time figuring out how to formulate the final pagination of the booklet given a total number of sheets of paper used, N, for a particular sheet of paper, m.

  Left half Right half
Odd side 2N+2(N-m)+2 2m-1
Even side 2m P 2N+2(N-m)+1

I would have done my layout in Word, because text boxes can be connected so that the text will flow from one to the next. Unfortunately, i also wanted text running at right angles to the dominant flow, and i best know how to do that in the NeoOffice (OpenOffice) Draw program. I don’t know how useful this would be to others, but here’s a template that you may use freely and adapt as needed: ChapbookLayout.odg

I looked into the prices of having this produced at FedEx Kinkos and have concluded that even with the cost of a long arm stapler, good cover paper, and another color ink cartridge, i’d be better off printing and binding them myself.

The first ten are bound and ready to post, and i’ll be producing more as i post them in the mail. My plan is to produce no more than forty. [I will update this as i complete the production.]

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Looking for inspiration

April 5th, 2010


Originally uploaded by y.sabur.

I did dye some t-shirts last year using a pleated tray fold with the dye poured on top. The resist worked in a lovely way, producing the expected idea of stripes. Looking at this piece from Flickr, though, i find myself thinking of breaking up the stripes by clamping a physical resist over the pleats in a sort of “smocking” fashion. The alternate clamping would be an additional resist, so the stripes would be broken up into blocks.

Just a thought….

To Dye For 2010: Initial Planning

April 5th, 2010

I’ve purchased three remaindered white 100% cotton jersey cardigans from Lands End and have an order to Dharma in my queue for t-shirts and a dress to pair with the cardigan. My dye choices from last year are rather bright and bold: and i realize i’ve yet to experiment with the brown and red dyes to see how they behave.

This weekend i spent some time with Photoshop and some random models from the web to see how my color choices might play out. I’m not entirely sure i would wear the brown-purple cardigan over the green and red shells, but i have an idea of what it might look like now. I also must recognize that if i were to over dye the brown purple with the green, i’d end up with something different from the emerald. I can’t be sure that the colors will simply be an translucent blend as with photoshop: my experiments with acrylic pigments have given me a good sense for how pigments don’t mix the same way the colors of light do.

Then there’s the way the dye takes to different fibers: depending on how the cotton has been treated the color may take with a vibrancy or a more faded tone: last year’s yarn experiments with mercerized cotton crochet thread and cotton yarn show the variations behind the cut.

No matter how “unexciting” one-tone dying is, i think i will make a simple red twin set and green twin set just for practical use. … I note that the low water immersion method i’d use is doesn’t exactly produce “simple,” and perhaps by the time i get to the green i’ll be more ambitious.

Then i’ll get adventurous with the brown purple pairing: this is because i have a variety or purple tops already (some of which are faded and i’ll experiment on as well), and some brown clothing items, so trying for a sophisticated multi dye process with this palette will be a pleasant adventure.

After the cut, the beginning of my 2010 dye plans, to be updated over the next few weeks.
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Coconut and Shaker Lemon Pie

March 27th, 2010


Our adventure begins with Meyer Lemons, which are divine, sweeter than. I had made Ohio Shaker Lemon pie several times after moving to California, but not in recent memory. I recall making a delicate pie crust, with decorative lemons encrusted with large grain sugar, but i can’t seem to find the photo.

The colleague who brought the lemons to the office is no longer with the company. My lemon tree has brought forth lemons, but never quite enough that i wanted to surrender them to pie. And now i’m not eating pie crusts. Lemons

But a member of our meeting brought lemons from their tree, just as i bought a few (and soon our tree will have some fully ripe). I’ve an abundance of lemons: i must make the pie! I started the lemons macerating on Friday.

For a crust, i found this coconut flake crust. When it came time to make the crust, i found i didn’t have the two cups of coconut, just one. I added 2/3 cup glutinous rice flour and 1/3 cup coconut flour, 1/3 cup vegetable oil spread, and some dribbles of soy milk. I used the pastry cutter to mix in the spread until it was crumbly, and then added enough soy milk to make the dough ball up. I pressed most of the mixture in a greased glass pie pan, reserving about half a cup. I baked the crust ten minutes at 350° F.

I filled the crust with the lemon-egg mix soon after taking it from the oven and crumbled the rest of the coconut mix on top, gently floating it on the egg-lemon mix, then baked as directed — 450&deg then 375°. did need to put foil on the top to protect the crust from over browning.

Shaker Lemon PieShaker Lemon Pie

It turned out quite well. It’s an intense pie, with the lemon rind tasting like sunshine, and the lemon curd filling rich and flavorful. The coconut crust is a little tough, but not crumbly. I think a little less rice flour or perhaps regular instead of glutinous rice flour might have made a slightly more tender crust.

The story of the fingerless gloves

March 27th, 2010
Fingerless Gloves for Christine

Once upon at time, about January 12 2009, i had found a fingerless glove pattern CrochetMe via Ravelry [Membership req]. Purple Mitts I had a number of lovely purple yarns in my stash from when i was keeping good track and i chose the smooth, gently variegated bamboo. The gloves worked up in just a few days. I remember how exciting it was to see them take shape under my hook. The first one i did according to the pattern, adjusting due to the difference in gauge: it was symmetric and would fit either hand. The second i tried shaping some so that the palm side was a little tighter than the knuckle side. They weren’t symmetric, but they were mine! And in a wonderful color! And really, lovely.

With the bamboo yarn remaining and the Bernat Boa in purple (“Parrot”) from the trim, so i made a little capelet.Crochet
I used the Shoulder Snuggle by Lion Brand Yarn [Membership Req] pattern on Ravelry [Membership req] as a guide, skipping stitches in the motif, trusting the eyelash of the novelty yarn to fill in. Then i trimmed out the cape with fun motifs in the bamboo — and this was all flying off my hook, zip, zap, here’s a lovely fun set to keep the chill off. I was done sometime in early February

We don’t need protection from cold that often in our home in California, but there can be a chill in the winter, a draft off the windows above my desk and the office 65° F or a little cooler. Christine liked the gloveletts, so we went and picked out a lovely blue yarn for her, and i had beads that went well with the yarn. I started on a beaded pair for her, a pair that would have a distinct back and front. (The beads went on with a backwards stitch so they would face me, one bead per row.)

All this in about a month, and then i left for a trip in Oregon. I pinned a silver pin of a horse to the back of one of my gloves, the easier to see it and use it as a meditation focus. And thend i went for a hike up a hill in the verdant rainforest. I slipped at one point, getting pants and gloves muddy, and i tucked the gloves in my back pocket. When we reached the camp, the gloves were gone, somewhere up the hill.

I was very disappointed.

I kept working on Christine’s gloves, but i slowed down. I finished my hassock cosy. I got distracted by dyes, by my Mohop shoe uppers. I still worked on the gloves. I’d work on them on flights and find i’d made the glove too tight or too loose for Christine. Rip and repeat. Between the right and the left i forgot what hook i was using, so the gauge is different glove to glove. I’d take them to craft and game night and forget to do a bead on a row and have to rip out and redo. I found i split for the thumb too early, and one is slightly shorter than the other. I finally finished them last night. They’re unique and not half bad.

The most important lesson i’ve learned is that the beading on the back should wrap around to the palm side opposite the thumb — the area for the palm is smaller than the area needed for the back. Other than that, though, Christine seems delighted.

Maybe i’ve put my grief of the purple gloves (done in two days!) behind me, and i can make myself a pair again.

Bamboo Yarn Notes: Y8: Bamboo, Purple/Lavender, 100 grams, 250 yards, $13.50 USD $61.29/lb 1135 yds/lb