Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunshine is amazing!

Here is the tablecloth two hours after being set out to dry:

I've folded the side that wasn't up to the sun on top of the side that was. You can see a distinct difference. Oh and the smell? What smell? It is gone.
I've turned the tablecloth over and set the timer for another hour.  I don't think it is going to take the rusty spots out completely, but I'll wait and see.  If it doesn't, I'll do the lemon juice and salt paste method. Then wash it out and dry it in the sun again.  I'm glad it is daylight savings and I still have a few more hours of sunshine.

I may have gotten a little carried away.  I thought,"Hey this worked so well for the tablecloth, I should try it for all my old handmade linens."  I have quite a few doilies made by my great-aunt, or great-grandmother.  So I put them all through the same routine as the tablecloth.
The before pictures:

They are all next to a machine made doily that is actually white.

Here they are soaking in Woolite:

A rinse in the tub:

And here they lay out on the grass:

Only problem, the sun went and hid behind some clouds.  So they didn't get as bleached as tablecloth.  I am planning on doing this all again this weekend.  There are still some spots that need to come out on all of them.  But now I know that this definitely helps get them whiter, while being much gentler on the fabric than say chlorine bleach.

Still sick

I was feeling better yesterday afternoon, and then I tried to talk to someone for longer than five minutes. So I'm home again today. I've learned a few things from these two days off. The first is that I will sleep in way longer than I intend if I have not set an alarm.

The second is that once you have a blog, you will read the blogs of other people much more closely than you would otherwise. That might just be me. I know Emily in real life, but I'd never read her blog before. It is really well written with pictures that blow mine out of the water. I might eventually have to start using something more than my cell phone camera. Also, I've been reading my cousin's blog. She has archives that go to 2005; I feel like I'm so late to the game.

Thirdly, while I've been known to lay on the sofa like a bump on a log, if I don't turn on the TV, I eventually have to get up and do something. I've finally noticed that TV, while very entertaining, does eat my life. I feel better about watching it if I'm knitting, and at the end of a hard day at work it is great to unwind to. But I've not been at work, so don't need to unwind. So things I've been doing while not watching TV:

Yesterday, I attempted to clean and organize my craft room. Like a 10 year old cleaning his bedroom, it is now more of a mess than when I started. But there is method in the madness. I swear! It is difficult to put things away when you haven't decided where their home is yet. So on the floor until that home is decided upon.

One of the things that needs to find a home is a beautiful handmade tablecloth. I think it is at least 60 if not 80 years old. It stinks of mothballs and age. It is yellow and has stains. I love it. I can't actually be in the same room with it.

I had thought leaving it out to air would help get rid of the smell. That's why it's been laying out on the craft room floor. But it's been weeks and the thing still smells, not as powerfully awful as when it was first given to me, but enough that I don't want to touch it. And although I was scared I'd ruin it, I decided today it was finally time to clean the darn thing.

I am not a professional restorer. I had no idea how wash this without hurting it, so to the interwebs! After reading many confusing and contradictory articles, I decided to treat it like I would wool, or lace, and hope for the best.

First I rinsed it out in the sink, twice. The water was yellow and smelly after the first time.
Then I moved it to the bathtub and filled the tub with cold water and Woolite.

I let it soak for an hour or so, and then rinsed it out a few times before I laid it out on the grass.  Supposedly the mix of the chlorophyll and the direct sunlight has a bleaching effect. I think it's just the direct sunlight, but as I haven't done any serious research into the matter, on the grass it goes.

Here are close ups of the rusty looking spots. 

I have read that a mix of lemon juice and salt should help take them out, but I am going to let the sun do it's work before I attempted it.

So I've set the timer for two hours to remind me to check on it. I might watch an episode of Downton Abby to pass the time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sick day

I didn't get to go to yoga this morning. I stayed home with strep, not a horrible case, just bad enough to make talking painful.  So I planted myself on the couch and didn't do much.  Ok so maybe I got a little cleaning done, and I did play with some fiber. Remember that felted blue fiber?
While sitting on my rear I thought, "Perhaps carding it will fix it."
Guess what? It did:

Isn't it pretty?!
So I spun for a little while, but I only have a spindle, and I feel rollags (what you get if you card fiber) work better on a wheel. I can't go to HCW because I'm sick and contagious, but not sick enough to spin on a wheel at home. I really want my own wheel.
Ah well, I've got antibiotics, and I should be better by tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Heat and Agitation

Yoga Scott is out of town so, instead of going to my usual 1pm class, I went to the 9am yoga at Lelu Lemon.*  But when I got there at 8:50 and class had already begun.  I tiptoed to the back unrolled my mat and followed along.  It was a more advanced class than I expected, but I enjoyed it.  When I talked to the store owners after the class, they told me they changed the start to 8:45. The change is so that, if the class runs long, there aren't patrons outside trying to get in while everyone is in Savasana (corpse pose).  

After class, I headed over to Hill Country Weavers, one of my very favorite yarn stores.  The Louet Julia caught my eye today and I sat down to spin only to realize that my fiber was NOT happy.  It had some how felted itself.**
It is kind of hard to see, but here is the really felted stuff:
It is stiff, almost crunchy, and very hard to pull apart which is what is absolutely required in order to spin.
Fortunately, I think most of it is salvageable, and my favorite new fiber is not felted too badly:

You see how the fibers kind of float away from each other? This is light and fluffy and just scrumptious.

So what happened? Well, most of the fiber that I have is wool because, as a new spinner, I want fiber of a type that is easy to spin.  Wool wants to be spun.  The hairs have scales that catch and hold onto each other as you spin and this makes for an easier fiber to learn on (unlike bamboo for example which is very slippery).  This quality causes it to felt when you apply heat and agitation.  Felting is easier when there is water, but really all you need is the agitation. Even a small amount of agitation, can cause wool to felt. I mentioned that some of my fiber seemed to have felted itself in my car to one of the lovely ladies at HCW and she said, "Well, yes. The bumps that you go over in your car can cause agitation, that coupled with the heat and humidity we've been having and you've got a recipe for felted fiber." 

It was a sad realization that fiber is not like yoga mats.  It cannot travel around with you for the whole week just in case you get a chance to practice.

I did get some spinning done, here's what my singles look like all wound up:
I think I've decided that they are thin enough that I can ply them and still use them for lace projects.  Once I get more spun I'll see. I need to get a knitty knotty so I can wind my yarn into skeins to finish it, but that's another post.

*Lelu Lemon is a yoga clothing store on Lamar and 6th. On Saturday mornings, before they officially open the store, they invite instructors from different studios to teach a free class. Exposure for the studios, goodwill for the store, and a free class for yogis - it's an Austin win.
** If you have ever washed a hand-wash only sweater in the washing machine and it has come out stiff, hard and the perfect size for a chihuahua - that's felting.

Late night pondering

I'm planning on getting up tomorrow for early morning yoga* and then spinning at HCW, so quick update tonight.  I had a knitting epiphany yesterday: when knitting cables left = back, right = forwards.  I should have known this, I've been knitting cables for a while.  But this time it stuck. I think this will help me when I get around to writing knitting patterns.
The other main thing I've been thinking about is whether I should finish my thin singles as lace weight, or if I should ply them with each other.  I know that if I ply them they will be more balanced which is what I am looking for, but they will probably be fingering or sports weight which is thicker than I'm looking for.  I guess I'll sleep on it.

*early = before 9am on a Saturday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

and another post...

I'd intended to post the previous post a week ago.  But I opened up the blog and it hadn't actually posted.  So in under an hour, through the magic of the interwebs, I've finished the blue bird and the year long fingerless mitts.  Also I'm further along in the Serpentine Mitts. Mine are bright yellow.  In fact they are the exact same yellow as the legs of the blue bird... odd that. I'm very proud of myself, I'm doing them two at a time on magic loop.
For those of you who haven't used magic loop, here's how it works: 1) attempt to knit using two circular needles 2) forget to switch needles and keep knitting until you have whatever it is on one needle.  It looks like this:

It is soooo much easier than trying to use double points! And they will both be done at the same time.

My happy thought for the day, given to me by Yoga Scott:
Be compassionate to yourself, so you can have compassion for others.

Almost done... time to start something new.

So I'm almost done with the little bird. I need to write up the pattern from the half notes I've got. And I still need to add French knots for eyes. I haven't decided if I'm going to make the eyes yellow, white, dark blue or brown. Until I figure it out I'm moving on to trying my hand at knitting two fingerless gloves on two circular needles. It is my first time working two at once. Perhaps this will keep me from the second whatever syndrome. That's where you knit the first sock, glove, whatever and then it takes you forEVER to get to the second one. Like my last set of fingerless gloves I started last year and I've still got the thumb to finish.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When I started and what I'm doing now.

My obsession with knitting started just over three years ago. I picked up a little book and taught myself how to knit. It did help that my great-aunt had tried to teach me a couple of years before, so it was like remembering how to knit, rather than learning.
My passion for yoga is much more recent. I have never been flexible. I had never touched my toes until about a year ago. A few friends and I volunteered to help friend had decided she was going to be a yoga teacher. She had never taught yoga before, and I'd never taken a class where the fundamentals of yoga were presented for the uber beginner. We met once a week for 6 weeks and by the 5th week I could touch the floor. Suddenly this yoga thing seemed like a good idea.

I'm almost done with a baby bluebird that I'm making for a friend's baby shower. So the shower was today, and I'm not done. But I will be soon! This is my third design. It, like the other two, is in crochet. I do intend to create patterns for knitting, but I'm still learning how to do that. Other than that I'm between projects right now, not counting the ones that are "hibernating."

So now would be a good time to start working on a new yoga pattern. I'll get on that right after SXSW. So maybe in a week or two.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Casting on and setting an intenton

And so it came to pass that she did shout unto the interwebs, "Look, I've got a blog!"
And the interwebs did reply, "meh."

Hello out there.

Ah, the first blog post. From the few I've read, I get the feeling that a blog is a work in progress. Each tends to develop its flavor as it goes along. So I guess the first post is kind of like the first pancake. Or like your first finished object. The one with the unintended yarn overs, the dropped stitches, and made out of squeaky acrylic. Or like your first downward dog - where your shoulders are tired after two breaths and your calves tell you this is NOT a resting position. Something to use to measure your progress, but might cause a wince or two when rereading.
So here it is, the first post:

um..... I like knitting, and I like yoga, and I think the two work very well together, and I'm hoping to create some knitting patterns for yoga gear and maybe spin some fiber into yarn. Oh and crochet is cool too.

Yep, definitely the first pancake.