Archive for February, 2013

One Hundred Years And Counting; Or, Happy Birthday, Mama Florrie!

February 25, 2013

One Hundred Years!

The social event of the year happened on February 1, 2013, at the Bull Durham Building in Estill.

Friends and family from far and near gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mama Florrie’s birth.

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She makes her way into the building under her own steam with the aid of her walker and her two escorts.

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There were possibly one hundred people there, a guest for every year!  I hardly knew anyone there except for Miz Florrie’s immediate children and neighbors.

It was a great evening of celebration!

Happy birthday, Mama Florrie!

 

 

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Dyeing Yarns At Catcatcher Corner, Part 4; Or Plum Delicious

February 21, 2013

It appears that I’m going to need to dye each skein twice to make sure that the color saturates the yarn.

The latest color choice was neon purple.  When the dye was spotted onto the wet yarn in the processing bath, it made an odd hot pinkish spot.  After the first bath, the spots remained, and some of the yarn on the underside was light blue.

First dye bath, front of skein.

First dye bath, front of skein.

First dye bath, back of skein.

First dye bath, back of skein.

Let’s try another soak in another batch of dye.

Second dye bath.

Second dye bath.

 

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That picnic table is really coming in handy.

February 16, 2013

SALISBURY HOUSE & GARDENS

The Salisbury House Foundation was founded in 1993 to preserve, interpret and share Salisbury House for the educational and cultural benefit of the public. Implicit in this mission is a role we have embraced since our inception as caretakers of the Weeks Family history: not just for Carl and Edith (who built the house in the 1920s), but for their forebears, their four sons and their later descendants. (Social media has proven an incredible asset in this latter regard, as we have connected with many Weeks grandchildren via our Facebook page). In 2012, we received a Historical Resource Development Grant from the State Historical Society of Iowa specifically to research and interpret Weeks family history, so we have spent much of the past year delving deep into local and remote archives to better tell the story of this remarkable family.

Of Carl and Edith’s four sons, only their third —…

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Well, (t)Hat’s That, Then

February 14, 2013

Sugar needed a new, warm, knitted cap.

So I showed him a design I made using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s decrease system for the crown, and he didn’t like it.  The swirly-looking top was too girly for him.

I made up another decrease system, and the cap looked like a medieval helmet.  Yes, that’s right, because gray is the color he chose, and the top of the cap was slightly pointed-ish.

So I found this design on the Yarn Harlot’s website, and I knitted it in variegated greens, because he likes greens.  That served him well, but then he wanted another one.  Oh, yes, in gray.

He’s becoming quite the manly expert in choosing yarns.  He knows that only non-superwash wools will felt, after multiple times helping me chose yarn for a felting project, and I would reject his choice, saying, “It’s not wool.  It’s acrylic.  Won’t felt.”

Imagine my amusement one day at the yarn display when he picked up a skein, looked at the label, and said, “That’s acrylic.  That’s no good.” and tossed it back into the bin.  He not only listened, he remembered, and he repeated at the appropriate time.

Sugar likes the color gray.  He also likes blue and green, but he would like a yarn that is green, blue, and gray, which is nigh unto impossible to find.  Someday, someday, I might have the skills to make his wish come true, but for now, let’s remember that I’m dyeing yarn in a pasta pan.

So he chose a fisherman wool in gray and white.  I knitted along with no problem and produced a new cap.  There was a bit of yarn left over, not an enormous amount, but several yards, which I hate.  I hate leftover yarn.  I want to use it all up.

He washed the cap.  The next time I saw him, he clapped the cap on his head, and he looked a little bit like an acorn looks.  The acorn cap fits but it looks a little too small, too short.

What if I had used all the yarn up?  Maybe the cap wouldn’t have been a tad bit too short, because, let’s face it, caps are going to be washed.

I decided to knit another cap, this time starting from the top and knitting until I ran out of yarn.  I reversed Elizabeth Zimmerman’s 7-section decrease, and I cast on 7 stitches, joined these 7 stitches in a circle, proceeded to knit, and completely boogered up the increasing part.

I unknit, I reknit, I unknit at least 10 times.  I knew that the trouble was with the operator, not the equipment, and I gnashed my teeth and tore at my hair a bit every stinkin’ time I ripped it apart to simple yarn.  Cursed a bit, too, I did.

Finally, I got it so, so right that even I was satisfied, and I produced a hat over the course of a few days.  I used almost every bit of yarn.  I even did higher math to figure out how much yarn I needed to knit 20 stitches, and multiplied that number by 6, because there’s 120 stitches on the needes, and measured that amount of yardage back from the end of the yarn, added a yard as an insurance policy, and marked the place, so that I knew when I absolutely had to start binding off.  Confused?  Welcome to my world.

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I *LIKE* it!

February 14, 2013

Ah, corruption.

Knitted Notes

A few days ago the chief executive of Finmeccanica (Italian aerospace and defence firm) has been arrested on corruption charges: he has been accused of paying bribes to ensure the sale of 12 helicopters to the Indian government.

This is MrB’s comment on that case:

“Thanks to those magistrates that demonstrate a sort of absurd self-harm against Italy, we are going to be cut out of the opportunity to compete with other Groups around the world because nobody will ever deal in anything with ENI or Enel or Finmeccanica any more. It’s something that shows a pure masochism… we must be very peoccupated…But these are not crimes! This is, if you pardon me, to pay a commission to somebody in those Countries just because this is the rule in those Countries! We don’t want to pay commissions? Well, we will stay home and we’ll be out of business!”

Is not…

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Dyeing Yarns At Catcatcher Corner, Part 3

February 13, 2013

So I’ve re-dyed the pink yarn using the neon pink food dye, and the effect is still not neon pink at all, but it is yummy and fabulous!

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It’s for sale in the Etsy shop!  Click here to see more!

Live Oaks & Resurrection Ferns, Part 2

February 11, 2013

About 2 years ago, I wrote about a post about some local live oaks and resurrection ferns.  You can read that post by clicking here.

Yesterday, Sugar and I were out and about, and we took a leisurely drive home on a road that we tend to frequent, because it cuts through a hunting plantation and the territory is desolate.  At least, *I* think it’s desolate, but Sugar likes the remoteness of it.

There’s a lot of that here.  Hordes of humanity, and then turn down a lane and you are in Flannery O’Connor territory.  She wrote the kind of stuff my mother worried about.  “You better not go there.  Somebody’ll knock you in the head.”  Worry, worry, worry.

There’s probably no more danger of getting knocked in the head on this desolate road than there is in a shopping mall parking lot.  And driving along this dirt road makes Sugar happy, so what’s the harm?  It’s only twelve-ish miles of narrow dirt road bordered by deep ditches.  The craziest things make some people happy.

Sometimes we see the local fox squirrels, which are as big as cats.  If you have never seen one before and encounter one on this desolate road, it’s like you have stepped back into my county’s rodent version of Juraissic Park.  “What was that?  Was that real?”  Occasionally there are deer bounding across the road, and sometimes hunters in trucks, and we’ve even seen gangster-type vehicles with spinning rims.

On this particular day, Sugar asked me to turn the van around and go back to look at a tree.  Well, if we’re going back, I’m taking pictures.  We ended up at a large live oak covered in resurrection ferns.

Sunday morning, February 10, 2013.

Sunday morning, February 10, 2013.

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This branch was dead and so were the resurrection ferns, but I still like the shot.

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The white building that looks like it’s right under the tree is actually a bit down the road. When we drove past, a man had walked out to the end of his driveway to check out the crazy people out for a Sunday drive. (Hint: it was us.)

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I’m glad we stopped.  Today, it’s been rain all day, and the forecast calls for rain for the next two days.  Spring has come to the lowcountry, although it arrived last month after practically no winter at all.  The spring peepers should be out in full force soon from all the rain.

Welcome, spring!

Dyeing Yarns At Catcatcher Corner, Part 2

February 9, 2013

Enboldened by my first dyeing attempt using McCormick’s food coloring, I tried another skein in neon pink.

The neon pink turned out not so neon-y, and I think that I should take a nap during every dyeing event while the dye sets up.  I waited 30 minutes after adding the dye, and waiting for the yarn to absorb the dye, because this was the amount of time that was recommended by one of the tutorials I read online.  The water was cool, and I started to rinse the yarn under a gentle stream of cool water from the faucet, and I noticed that one area, the area directly under the faucet, was noticeably lighter that the rest.  Perhaps I was rinsing out the dye; perhaps I didn’t let the yarn sit long enough, perhaps the moon and stars were not in the proper alignment.

Really, who cares?  I don’t particularly because I learned to take a nap after dyeing the yarn.

And here’s how the dyeing process played out…

 

I set everything up on the picnic table because I realized that I was losing daylight so I couldn't dye outdoors, and I didn't have adequate space indoors to lay everything out.  So I started outside, and then moved indoors.  (Shrug shoulders here.)

I set everything up on the picnic table because I realized that I was losing daylight so I couldn’t dye outdoors, and I didn’t have adequate space indoors to lay everything out. So I started outside, and then moved indoors. (Shrug shoulders here.)

 

There's the vinegar, the tiny bottle of neon pink food coloring, the measuring spoon, the natural yarn, and the aluminum pan.

There’s the vinegar, the tiny bottle of neon pink food coloring, the measuring spoon, the natural yarn, and the aluminum pan.

 

The skein of yarn has been unfolded but is still tied together in a couple of spots.  Looks spaghetti-ish, doesn't it?

The skein of yarn has been unfolded but is still tied together in a couple of spots. Looks spaghetti-ish, doesn’t it?

 

Now we head indoors so that I can put the pan in the bathtub and start the water boiling in the electric pitcher.

My Procter-Silex pitcher has a handy marking inside for 4 cups, which is exactly the amount of water I need for soaking the yarn.

My Procter-Silex pitcher has a handy marking inside for 4 cups, which is exactly the amount of water I need for soaking the yarn.

 

Hi, and welcome to my bathtub.  The first 4 cups of boiling water, along with 4 tablespoons of vinegar, is added to the center of the pan so as not to disturb the yarn very much.  I don't want felt.

Hi, and welcome to my bathtub. The first 4 cups of boiling water, along with 4 tablespoons of vinegar, is added to the center of the pan so as not to disturb the yarn very much. I don’t want felt.

 

I've added the second 4 cups of boiling water and 4 tablespoons of vinegar, after making sure the yarn is completely submerged and wet.  Here's the first drop of dye added to the yarn.

I’ve added the second 4 cups of boiling water and 4 tablespoons of vinegar, after making sure the yarn is completely submerged and wet. Here’s the first drop of dye added to the yarn.

I used the entire tiny bottle of food coloring which has about 164 drops in it.  Who knew?

I used the entire tiny bottle of food coloring which has about 164 drops in it. Who knew?

 

After a few minutes, the yarn is really soaking up the dye.  One way to know for sure that the yarn is not ready, aside for sticking your hand into hot wet yarn, is to look at a water sample, which clearly has dye in it.

After a few minutes, the yarn is really soaking up the dye. One way to know for sure that the yarn is not ready, aside for sticking your hand into hot wet yarn, is to look at a water sample, which clearly has dye in it.

 

Thirty minutes later, the water is cool and the water sample is clear, indicating that the yarn has soaked up the dye.

Thirty minutes later, the water is cool and the water sample is clear, indicating that the yarn has soaked up the dye.

 

I add a few drops of dishwashing detergent and rinse the yarn of any residual dye.  This is the part where I noticed that the dye appeared to be washing out so I stopped with the rinsing.  I think next time I will take the nap at this stage so the yarn itself can nap and rest, too.

I add a few drops of dishwashing detergent and rinse the yarn of any residual dye. This is the part where I noticed that the dye appeared to be washing out so I stopped with the rinsing. I think next time I will take the nap at this stage so the yarn itself can nap and rest, too.

 

The yarn is now dry, and I've hung it next to the original green yarn.  You can clearly see the lighter area in the pink on the right.  I'm not completely happy with it.  Perhaps I'll re-dye it.

The yarn is now dry, and I’ve hung it next to the original green yarn. You can clearly see the lighter area in the pink on the right. I’m not completely happy with it. Perhaps I’ll re-dye it.

 

Or perhaps I’ll take a nap.

What color to dye next?  Neon purple or neon turquoise?

 

 

 

Dyeing Yarns at Catcatcher Corner

February 5, 2013

I have a brilliant idea.

For those of you who know me, I CAN HEAR YOU.  I hear you laughing.

For the rest of you, here we go.

Reader Sharon sent me some kettle-dyed yarns for my birthday.  I’d never seen kettle-dyed yarn before, and I LOVED it.  I wanted to learn more about it.

The particular yarn that she sent was “Maxima” by Manos del Uruguay, a co-op which empowers indigeneous women by giving them a world market for their kettle-dyed yarns.

I live pretty primitively here at the Swamped! Plantation and cat-catchin’ corner.  Why can’t I learn how to kettle-dye yarn?  Never mind that I don’t have an operating stove, much less a kettle.

I googled, then youtubed, and found several tutorials.  It seems like a science experiment with yarn and food dye.

Heat is an important factor in kettle-dyeing, as is water in a kettle, and some white vinegar.  And, of course, some undyed, natural yarn which I found from a supplier online.

I didn’t take pictures of the first experiment because I was afraid that it would end badly, and I didn’t want to disappoint my readers who have come to expect such a high standard of blog-worthy material.  You, over there.  Stop snickering.

I have a grill, and I supposed that I could make a fire in the grill, wait for the coals to settle, and heat up a container of water.  That sounded dangerous somehow, so I put my unique twist on it.

I bought two of those aluminum foil-like catering-style pans.  They looked big enough for a skein of yarn.  I’m wondering if the people in the grocery store who saw me doing higher math on the dimensions of the aluminum foil pans had any idea of the immensity of my project.

I found McCormick food dye which I have surely not used since I was a child and we dyed Easter eggs.  LilSis and I longed for those Paas Easter egg dyeing kits, and indeed sometimes we used those, and now it makes me wonder if the tablets would work on this project.  On second thought, probably not.

McCormick, in addition to the standard colors, makes a neon color set.  Oh, be still, my pounding heart.

I put an aluminum pan in my bathtub, because it’s cold outside, folks, and I am NOT making a fire in the grill, plus the wind had kicked up, and I could see this episode ending in a 911 call.  I arranged a skein of yarn in the bottom of the pan, and I heated 4 cups of water in my Procter-Silex electric cooking pot until boiling, and poured the boiling water in the middle of the pan so as not to disturb the yarn while adding a tablespoon of vinegar for each cup.  I sloshed the mix about, and swirled it gently with a plastic coffee stirrer and pressed down on the yarn with the back of a plastic spoon to get the yarn soaking wet.  At the same time, I’m heating another 4 cups of water until it boils.

I added the second 4 cups of water to the pan, remembering to add another 4 tablespoons of vinegar, and that made the water deep enough to cover the yarn.

Now here’s the fun part.  I took a dropper bottle of food dye, and added a drop of dye directly on to the yarn.  I had no idea that it was going to take an entire bottle of dye, even though the bottles are very small, but it seemed like the best way to go since it was premeasured and gave me a standard of measurement.

I let it sit in the pan in my bathtub until it was completely cool.  I might mention that I fell asleep and woke up about 10:30 PM, having forgotten about the yarn in the tub, what with old age and all that, and it was definitely cool.  Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, rinse well, and hang to dry.  In my case, I hung the skein on a hanger over the pan still in the bathtub.

The yarn had completely absorbed the apple-green dye, and I’m sorry that I didn’t take photos of the before and during, only the after.

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The yarn is 100% merino wool, the kind that shrinks and felts if washed in hot water and agitation, not the superwash kind.

I’m sending this skein to an internet friend in Massachusetts to work up and give me a report as to the viability of selling this product.  Any thoughts?

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I don’t hear anyone laughing now.  Save it.  You’ll need it for the second episode of “Yarn Dyeing; in which there is drama”.