Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What no one ever tells you about new home renovation...

by Kathleen

Is that lots of what you do is small, simple and boring. And no one will ever notice. Like thinning out overgrown hedge bushes (that still look overgrown when you're done). And changing out toilet seats (though you'd think they'd notice the padded butterfly embroidered seat gone missing). Or like switching out light switch plates.
From old heavy bronze ornate or cutesy...

To simple, clean and white...

These are some that matched the few plain original plates that we found at a thrift store. They were a little dirty and beige, but some soap and water, and a spritz of white enamel spray paint, and they're good as new! Or rather, good as old since the new ones were the ugly ornate ones.
Interestingly (to us, of course) we have decided to keep all the plates, switch and outlet, white regardless of what color the wall goes. So as you'll see in a later post, whether we painted the wall dark grey, light green or even white the plate stayed white. Personally, I like the stark contrast on the colorful walls.
But that post is for another day... after we finish the wall paper stripping (ugh).

PS...  One thing we haven't done is scraped the gold paint off the actual switches (yes, they painted the switches to go with the gold-bronze plates). They look dirty, but they're not. I just haven't yet figured out how to get into those tiny little shapes with a scraper.

PPS... I can't leave without showing you the toilet seat. The old one that is...
I admit it... I hated it from the moment I saw it. But really? Replacing a toilet seat is low on the priority scale. As long as it works... But when the bolts finally give way and the whole thing slides off sideways...? Yes! Goodbye old monstrosity and hello very plain, simple, unadorned, so boring I didn't even take a photo of it seat.
Now all that's left is to get rid of the (identical) one in the master half bath.  Hmmm, now where did I put that hammer...?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Short Disucssion on Shorts Dyeing

by Kathleen

You know what would be fun? A new post!! And how about one with lots of pretty (maybe) pictures? Yesss!!!

These past few years one of my recurring design responsibilities has been to do the costumes for two to three of the pieces in our spring dance concert. I started out as a dancer when I went to college, and I still love dance. All kinds and forms of dance interest me, but here our main (pretty much entire) focus is modern dance.
I have certain strengths in my design work, and one of them is character and humor. Two strengths... my two strengths are character and humor. And use of color. Three! My three strengths are... oh wait... sorry. I got lost in Monty Python (Nobody expects the Costume Designer!).
Anyway, despite the above I am good at funny and and at bold characterizations. And so I tend to get those kinds of pieces. But this year... I not only got a character driven piece, but I also got a pretty one too. Oh such fun!
The choreographer wanted dresses with full skirts and each of the five dancers should be different. There was a lot of twirling and floor work, so one of the elements that the choreographer and I talked about was that the full skirts meant something else had to offer modesty protection. And since we wanted to keep a flow to the silhouette I suggested full legged culottes... so there would be a double skirt effect (she didn't want it to look like pants), but plenty of modest coverage as well. (This was an idea another of our designers had used a couple years before). And as we got further into color discussions the idea of differentiating each girl in dress color but unifying in culotte color gelled.
To achieve the different colors while maintaining the strong connection between the five dancers I bought an undyed yardage of rayon knit for the all the dresses and stretch silk charmeuse for the all the culottes. And first built, and then dyed them.
The dressed were ombre dyed a solid color each, but the culottes... ooooo, I did something new to me! I threw dye on them! Fun messy splashy wheeeee dyeing!
I used Dharma Trading's acid dyes, and I pretty much followed the directions given on their site. I soaked the shorts in a vinegar and water mix first, getting them well saturated.

Then I mixed up the desired colors in small batches in glass jars, filled the washing machine with cold water for the rinse, and prepped the aluminum pan.

I did one pair of shorts each time. I laid them out as flat as I could length and width wise.

And then I poured the dye over them, overlapping and splashing as I went, judging it by eye. I did the up side and then flipped it quickly to do the back.

I did a quick microwave... VERY quick, about 30 seconds, pause, 30 seconds. I had read somewhere that this would help set the colors. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't... but I figure it didn't hurt anything.

Then I rinsed until the water was mostly clear and tossed it in the washer.
When all the shorts were done I turned on the washer and rinsed them well. This is their color wet.

This is their color dry.

Back view.
I also dyed scraps with the intention of finishing off necklines and sleeves and wherever it looked right on the dresses.

Here is one of the dresses. You can see how beautifully the rayon knit draped (and it felt like a cloud of soft melty textile fabulousness. Really).

Back view. I wish the dancer had turned her back to the audience more... she had a great back and this looked great on her!

And when she spun...

Here you can see the colors all together, the dresses in motion, and the way the culottes peeked out here and there adding coverage and color. The choreographer was happy, the dancers were happy, and I was happy.
It's always such a joy when things comes together so well...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

by Kathleen

If so much can happen in one day, how much can happen in two years? LOTS!
Caroline and I started this blog beacause we wanted a place to share our mutual interest in knitting... which was hard to do over 600 miles apart. We're still over 600 miles apart, but we're not so good at the sharing recently. We're also not so good at the knitting, I think.
My sister lives close to the rest of the family, and two sets of twins (to our nephew and then our niece) has consumed her days with babysitting and spoiling (the babies that is). I don't know how much time she has to knit or spin anymore, but I know she has even less time to blog.
I've just been busy, as is usual, but have expanded involvements in local fiber guilds and class teaching. Which ironically has cut way into my knitting time! And I added a huge new responsibility to my life... J and I bought a house. I kept thinking of great topics to blog about, but always ran out of steam to actually write.
But we started this blog to share, our fiber interests at first, and now I want to share more than that... I intend to add home renovation/decoration too.
We'll just have to see how it goes.
Which is pretty much our motto for the home reno/deco too.

And here's a picture or two to prove it...
We decided to paint the living room walls a very brave color.

We were inspired by the back of a large mirror that we left leaning against the wall for days and days. Both of us were struck by how great the dark gray looked, but neither of us said anything because... really... dark grey? How crazy!
But I guess we're crazy!
So crazy that this is what we painted the corner wall...

Hey there Sassy Lilac!

And the horrible kitchen wallpaper?

Yeah! Who's rocking the color? We're rocking the color! Oooh yeah.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Festival Fun
by Caroline and Kathleen

It's time to hit the road for the annual trip to VA for a fiber festival and visit to Kathleen! (Yo Caroliiiine!) Scheduling changes mean a new fiber festival for us, the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. Also, for the first time in ages, I needed to make the trip down in one day (same for the return trip). Weather forecasts had the weekend as a rainy weekend so I had packed accordingly: rain ponchos, no camp chairs, jeans, and long sleeves. I loaded up the car w/ a multitude of knitting projects, a drop spindle, my spinning wheel, some fiber, my suitcase and an iPod loaded w/ podcasts and set off. It ranged from a drizzle to a downpour for at least half the trip but slowly the sun started staying out longer and longer.

Friday night was spent catching up and getting color advice on a project from Kathleen (thank you) (you're welcome) and we went to bed, almost hopeful about the weather. My friend Mary was due to meet up w/ us at the festival in the morning. Saturday arrived and brought sunshine w/ it! Cool temps, a little breezy, but wow - sunshine! We were very lucky... just a few days earlier the forecast had been rain all weekend. But the long range forecasts turned out to be wrong!

What a group we made: Kathy w/ her bad back; me w/ my bad foot; and Mary w/ her bad knee. (So a quick explanation... A few days before the festival I noticed my back was feeling very tight and I couldn't find a comfortable way to sit. By the next day I could barely move. Just getting up from a chair was extremely difficult and reaching over a table would put me in immediate spasming pain. I saw a doctor on Thursday and went on an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxers. This helped... a LOT... but I was really worried how I'd cope with walking around the fairgrounds) But Shenandoah is a small festival on fairgrounds so we had paved paths and didn't have to dodge huge crowds. Benches scattered around the grounds were very handy (VERY! Thanks festival planners! ) and we moved at a comfortable stroll. Shenandoah is a lovely festival, I got a chance to talk to people doing demos such as the woman dying yarn w/ natural dyes (sorry, no pictures),  found some new vendors, as well as caught up w/ some old favorites (hey there, Dianne from Creatively Dyed!).

Mary inspired me to start some of my Christmas shopping! I've never been this early, I'll just have to delay the non-knitting shopping to make up for my early start. I can't take credit for all of what you don't see here. Some of it is Mary's that I am taking back w/ me for wrapping and delivery.

There were the usual suspects:

the goats are cute and curly but the sheep look suspiciously innocent (If I recall correctly one of the specialties of the festival is that there was a goat breed judging. Interesting being at a festival focusing attention on goats rather than the more common sheep.)
these guys are so happy to be here
As well as new ones:

saw him out for a walk later in the day - quite a sight!
And I'm not sure what he was doing here:

he was not happy to be here or maybe it was sharing a pen w/ sheep
 Mary stayed w/ us Saturday night and we all slept in (except Mary). After an early lunch, Mary returned home and Kathleen and I returned to the festival. I'll be visiting Mary in a couple days.

No sheep dog trials but they do have sheep dog demos and Sunday, Kathleen and I watched the team of Tom and Pete (Pete is the dog). We've seen them work at Montpelier in the past. This time we watched Pete manage 6 sheep instead of 3 and his control was amazing! Umm, right up until the end when he finally got a little impatient and snapped at a sheep (in the trials this would have been a disqualification). (In my opinion that sheep deserved it. That was a very obstreperous sheep. If Pete could have kicked him in the rear he would have, but snapping was his way of giving that warning.)

Also, Sunday I was introduced to an amazing treat: deep fried white chocolate Reese's Cup and all I can say is O. M. G.! I'm not actually a fan of deep fried whatevers (Oreos, Twinkies etc.) but this was truly incredible and I'm lucky it was a sample and not actually on the menu. (I thought there was some decent fair food there. Not great food by any means, but there was some variety which is nice... and boy scouts making fresh cobbler served with ice cream.)

I spent the next couple days w/ Kathy and her DH, Jeff. I always enjoy my visits with them (the feeling is mutual), evenings are peaceful and I am inspired to get a lot of spinning done. This year the big bonus was my total acceptance by cat, Bodie! Bodie is a bit shy (For a cat Bodie does a good impersonation of a female dog.) and in the past has taken most of the week to warm up to my presence, only sleeping on my mattress because big ol' guard cat, Simon was already there. This year, she let me pet her the first night and slept w/ me every night. She made it hard to get up in the morning because I didn't want to disturb her.

you would have to be heartless to make her move and I want to be a cat in my next life!

I will close with a few photos of the loot. Remember... the first photo is a mixture of THREE people's impulse purchasing! And those hotel beds are a lot smaller than you'd think! And the camera adds ten pounds to your fiber haul!

And Caroline would like to point out that a large(ish) portion of hers included gifts...

Oh boy... bet you can't wait for Christmas...

And so, as the sun sets on another fun visit we say farewell......... It was a great visit and a fun festival, and I hope we can make a repeat next year!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

And now...

For something completely different.


Well... sort of.

I made pillows.

Pretty huh?

The red ones are slightly different. I used opposite sides of the fabric. Subtle...

I did an overlapped back with no closures. Easy peasy.

And keeping with the knitting theme, I also made pillows from felted thrift store sweaters. I've got a rather obvious seam on the gray one, but I'm thinking of adding a line of embroidery stitches... if you can't hide it, make it a design decision!
This weekend I'm going to a very small, new to me, sort of local fiber festival. Caroline  is coming down for it too so I'm very excited! Even the forecast thunderstorms can't damp my enthusiasm!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Well, enough with the sturm and drang of ungrateful sock yarn and linen. We leave these poor ragged creatures and move on to...

 More Socks!!!!!

A pattern from Charlotte Schurch's first book, in a Plymouth Yarn Noro-lookalike.

A simple feather and fan variation, in Shaeffer Yarn's Nicole (lovely heavier weight sock yarn... feels a lot like Socks that Rock in its skooshiness).

Plain ol' stockinette, in FibraNatura's Yummy.

Opus 400, in Wisdom Yarns Marathon.

Another feather and fan variation, in Hand Painted Yarn's Donegal Sock yarn (brought back for me from Sock Summit by Caroline)

A pattern of my own  with a lattice cable and a feather and fan variation, in a sock yarn that I dyed myself (shown in progress, this sock is now finished).

So many socks! Just count them... 6!!! 6 socks!!!
Yes. That's right...6. NOT 6 pair. Just 6.
And why would someone knit 6 single socks (someone who's never before shown signs of the dreaded second sock syndrome)?
Maybe because their other foot was wearing this...
This year's lovely AirCast Pneumatic Walking Boot; sublime in a tonal variation of greys; perfect for every occasion involving foot surgery and more!
Certainly minimizes the need for two socks.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is it me?

Both of my Noro socks.

My favorite linen blouse!

Perhaps I have a secretly abrasive personality? Or do I  just rub inanimate items the wrong way? Clearly I need to be kinder to my textiles.