Friday, July 31, 2009

Wool tried to kill me

[After the rambling there is an offer of cheap yarn. Skip to the end if you want to bypass the whining and moaning for there is a lot of both whining and moaning herein. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. EDIT: The navy is spoken for.]

Wool tried to kill me.

This is the second time wool has tried to kill me.

The first time wool tried to kill me was in January 2007 when I was winding a skein of Wool Pak. It wasn't the wool itself, which is perfectly fine wool. Wool Pak is a low-processed wool. It doesn't use chemicals to dissolve vegetable matter out like many other wools. It uses good old water, it smells like wool ought to smell and wears like traditional wools wear. That is, it is great for felting, EZ sweaters and outergarments but you wouldn't want to knit yourself an undershirt out of it.

The first time wool tried to kill me I was winding the Wool Pak, my face too close the swift and breathed in a lung full of wool dust.
Wool, especially gently scoured rustic wools, isn't just wool but what wool rolls around in--hay, dirt, pollen, etc.

I walked away with my Wool Pak experience thinking I was allergic to whatever was in Wool Pak. Since I had worked with other rustic wools I assumed it was just a Wool Pak issue and the whole rustic wools/allergy connection left my head. I've been to sheep festivals, buried my face in sheep fleece and been in the yarn shop while other rustic wools are wound. Hell, I've buried my face in THIS yarn I'm about to talk about. Occasionally I get a little hitch in the back of my throat but nothing severe so yeah, I came away with "I'm allergic to Wool Pak". Faulty assumption.

Can you say the word of dumbass? I'm a dumbass.

I've wound a LOT of wool in the last few years. I'm not allergic to wool. I am, however, allergic to a good number of pollens and oils that sheep might roll around in. I discovered (re-discovered) this fact when I tried to process the new worsted weight base yarn I've been working on. The wool came in needing a bath with a strong detergent to rinse out the sheepy smell and spinning oil. Other than that it was a good sturdy cream-colored worsted weight wool. It even took color great. Deborah thought the unwashed yarn smelled more like hay than sheep and I think there is a reason for that. I always sneeze on hay rides.

Half-way through the second batch of yarn I had hives where my gloves ended, deep coughing and tingling lips. Repeat after me, kids. Fuuuuuuddddggge!


I loaded up on Benedryl, complained to Twitter, listed the remaining undyed yarns up for sale and took a LOT of naps. Clearly I cannot finish dyeing this yarn. The thing is, it is a popular base yarn. It is used A LOT without any problems. I could have knit with this without a problem. I'm convinced of it. The problem came when I aerosolized latent allergens by steaming 20 skeins worth of it in a small kitchen. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Before I aerosolized I probably could have worked with this yarn without even noticing. Now I'm hypersensitive to it. Simply touching it set off a sneezing fit earlier. Ever few hours I get a bronchitis pain in my chest. I'm still sick in a way that's going to require a doctors office if I'm not feeling better by Monday. I screwed up big on this one.

Let my freakish allergies be your gain. I only dyed 2 colors of this yarn so let's call this a limited edition. I am selling these two colors in a no frills sale. I'm not making a profit on this. I just want it out of my house. Damn.

10 skeins of each color, 100g skeins, ~210 yards per skein, no labels, $45 plus shipping. Email me at stlrachelknits at gmail dot com if you would like to buy a color. Like I said, it is a lovely yarn unless you take large quantities of it, stick it in hot water, heat it to boiling and take deep breaths when you are.

Email me. It's yours for what it cost me for the yarn, dye, water and benedryl, $45 plus shipping. I'm open to trades.

This wool tried to kill me
{Edit: The navy has been spoken for. Thank you.}
This wool tried to kill me... I burned it as punishment.
(The gold/orange has a few skeins that have dark "burn" marks. It is just a color issue. It isn't actually burned.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Store Update

I just updated my etsy shop with a 4 colors of Alter Ego (fingering weight superwash merino), including 2 new colors--Hippolyta and Sunshine Warrior. These two new colorways are both hand painted skeins and have the exact same colors in each skein. The difference is how the colors were applied. Hippolyta has very short color runs and random color application. It should knit up in more of a mosaic with most of the colors being only 1-2 cm long. Sunshine Warrior is more typical of my regular hand painting . Sunshine Warrior has 2-4" of color before the color shifts in a repeatable and predictable way. I would also like to announce--


I have lowered the prices on sock yarns from $20-21 depending on the base to $18-19. Happy shopping!

My creation

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My mother's sunflowers

Scott and I went to my mother's house today to view her sunflowers. The package of seeds she bought said these were Mammoth Sunflowers. They weren't kidding. Click the slideshow below for more flower pictures.

Mom's Garden

Mom's Garden

Mom's Garden

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Still alive

I'm here and still alive. I just haven't felt much like blogging lately. The fatigue, lethargy and ADD-esque portion of my summer has set in. In the past week I managed to get some yarn ordered, get the front page of my website up, knit with a new group, make a few ads, make a cake, ruin dinner multiple times and not much else.

The week before last I was super busy knitting hats and taking pictures to submit to Annie Modesitt's 1000 Fabulous Knit Hats project. She is looking for pictures of hand knitted hats. The hats do not need to be original patterns. Here's a link to the project and submission information. The deadline has been extended to August 15. You should submit your pictures!

Here is a video from the hat photoshoot with Julie from Sungazing Photography. How did I get to be so lucky to be friends with such talented people? And now I'm signing off. I have a skein of yarn to untangle and a nap to take.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shop update

I listed these 4 colors in my shop yesterday:

Listed today

I will be listing these 4 colors later today:

Preview of tomorrow

Annnnndddd....I'm going to be a vendor at the Strange Folk Festival! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It is 5:45am on a steamy July morning and I am already 30 minutes in to this mornings stage, despite swearing off the Tour de France after the doping scandals of the past few years. This year I haven't heard a breath about doping or testing. Either doping control is doing its job and everyone is riding straight or they are being discreet in handling positive tests. Either way, the Tour is much more pleasant when dispersions are not cast over every athlete.

I haven't' missed a Tour Stage yet this first week and at the same time I haven't really watched one, either. Versus TV's website began offering a "broadcast quality" streaming feed and Video on Demand of the stages so I can still enjoy the Tour without having cable. The "broadcast quality" feed is not quite ready for prime time. There were several glitches in getting the feed working and the broadcast quality is, well, it isn't good. I'm sure by next year Versus will have figured out all the bugs of offering the Tour live online, including a HD picture and commercials to pay for it. I think I would rather have a lower quality full feed than a shorter HD broadcast chock full of commercials for male enhancement products.

I have 3 minutes until I have to be up and rinsing yarn. "Rinsing yarn" is the #1 reason I've been up early enough to watch the Tour and also the #1 reason I haven't really been able to watch watch the Tour. Once rinsing begins the Tour fades in to a pleasant background hum that I can't really focus on leaving me wishing I had 4 hours to watch the full stage despite just spending 4 hours rinsing yarn and watching the full stage.

I'm rambling. And it is 6:02, which makes me officially late for work. Imagine there are pretty pictures of yarn right here.

Rinse, rinse, rinse.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why Jackson Counts As News

I want to say something about Michael Jackson today. Yes, the media made a circus out of his death as they did his life. No, that does not make his death and funeral somehow less newsworthy.

I have heard several people say that there was a bigger deal made out of Jackson's death than was ever made over Reagan's death. Maybe that was because Jackson moved more people than Reagan ever did. Reagan moved those of us in the United States and maybe a few other countries. Jackson reached in to every part of the world.

I have heard several people say that his actions in life made honoring him in death impossible. He has been called a freak, a weirdo and pervert. Maybe he was all of those things. He probably was all those things. He was also the first black male performer to hit the mainstream. He was the one of the first one to make it acceptable for a black male musician to be on prime time TV. He inspired following generations and showed them what could be accomplished. [Correction from the comment below: Jackson was among the pioneers to make it acceptable for a black male musician to be on prime time, but not the first. Nat King Cole had a primetime weekly show on NBC in 1957.]

Maybe he was every bad thing ever said about him, but he was also singularly talented, an innovator, a philanthropist and, regardless of his own struggles with the color of his skin, and integrated radiowith his music. Rarely had music from a black performer been heard on a white radio station before Michael Jackson. He didn't just have one hit that crossed over. He had dozens. His talent revolutionized rock, pop, dance, videos and performances.

Setting aside Jackson's contributions to society, look at how his music and his talent touched the world. His music moved millions, if not billions of people. 1 BILLION people were expected to watch his funeral. Think about that. 1 BILLION people, one-sixth of the population of the earth, the entirety of China stopped to day to mourn Michael Jackson. It wasn't because he was 'just' a singer. It wasn't because he was 'just' a pop icon. It wasn't 'just' because of his social and charitable contributions. It was all of it.

I heard too many people scorn the coverage of Jackson's death and too many people today spit vitrol over the coverage of his funeral. To those people, I say this:

Broadcast media turned this in to a circus. They speculated on wills, custody battles, money and the seedier aspects of Jackson's life. TMZ played 911 calls and video of Jackson's final moments. Jackson's death caused a feeding frenzy just like any other big piece of news likely to bring in ratings does. Every station is trying to get its share of the people and they went to ridiculous lengths to do it. None of those things were what made Jackson's death newsworthy. It was the people who knew him and who he affected in life that made Jackson's death newsworthy.

Maybe some people care about the seedier part of Jackson's death, but the people who spoke at the funeral today... They didn't talk about the spectacle of Jackson's life. They didn't make a spectacle of his death. They talked about how he contributed to this world, to their lives and to their family. A US Representative spoke on behalf of the House on the importance of Michael Jackson to the world. Martin Luther King, III and Bernice King spoke on the contributions Jackson's contributions, along with half a dozen other dignitaries and leaders of the African American community who spoke on the importance of Jackson to the African American community, to the nation and to the world and NOT just in the area of music. If that doesn't lend cachet to the newsworthiness of a person's life or to their death then I do not know what does.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


[Edit to clarify: I knit the glengarry patter in Folk Hats. I didn't design it but really flattered that so many of you think I did.] I should have put a definition and an example in my last post of what a Glengarry is. I didn't know what a Glengarry was until Monday morning when Scott pointed the pattern out to me. According to Wordnet, a glengarry is "a Scottish cap with straight sides and a crease along the top from front to back; worn by Highlanders as part of military dress". There are several examples on

After looking at so many Scottish hats this week I have been inspired to make knitted interpretations of several different kinds of hats, authenticity be damned. On the needles now a Dyeabolical mash up a tam and a glengarry. It will either be ridiculous or epic, perhaps even epically ridiculous. Now if only I could knit faster...

(image from

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Blogging through the cranky

There are few things I need to complain loudly about before I get on with my day.

  • Truncated Feeds. I hate truncated feeds. I took an informal poll on twitter and all seven respondents also hated truncated feeds. [All seven! Bow before me internets! See what mighty influence I yield!] Do your readers a favor and let your blog publish full feeds so we can read them in our blog readers (Google Reader, Bloglines, etc.) If you feel like you need to have a truncated feed for whatever reason (ad income, for instance) please please PLEASE make your feed longer than 2.5 sentences. There is only one blogger I routinely click through the truncated feed to read. The rest I generally scroll past unless something in the first 2.5 sentences catches my eye and generally it doesn't.
  • Tact. If someone makes a knitted version of, oh say, a glengarry and is really fucking, yeah I said fucking, proud of it, the polite thing to say when they ask "how do you like this glengarry" isn't "what glengarry? that isn't a glengarry" in some haugty superior tone as if you were the sole arbiter of all things authentically glengarry-ish. The correct response is "Isn't it lovely!" or if you don't like it "What an interesting interpretation!" or even "I don't like it" or "It doesn't look like a glengarry", but "that isn't a glengarry" when I just told you it was? It's the wrong damn thing to say. [Edit to clarify: I knit the glengarry patter in Folk Hats. I didn't design it but really flattered that so many of you think I did.]
  • Authenticity. I've mentioned before that I'm one-half Chinese decent. I don't think I've mentioned before is that I am also decended from Scottish, Northern English and probably a French, Irish and American Indian ancestors, but the only "authentic" "race" I am is AMERICAN.
  • Smoking. I think my head is going to explode. If I had a pack of cigarettes right now I would be tempted to smoke them, but then I would be completely blowing my 4 year anniversary of being smoke-free. I envy people who can have a a cigarette here and there and just stop.
  • Motherhood. A friend I have been out of touch with called recently. She shared many interesting things with me, including how important it is to get pregnant because I don't know the spiritual wonderland I'm missing; how much fun it still is to get trashed every single night; how she's trying to get pregnant; how many times she's blacked out from drugs while driving; how big her kid is getting, but not fat. Never fat. Nope, not fat. Did I mention she's NOT FAT. Just big boned and all the boys on the playground want her. Yeah.
  • Scum and villiany. I recieved my deposit back from my former landlords today, all $168.13 of it. Why so little? They told us not to clean the carpets because they were replacing it. So we didn't clean the carpets and they charged us for cleaning them. I told them 30 days in advance that we were moving and asked if they wanted a letter. No, they didn't want a letter but they wanted us to think on it for a few weeks before we made our final decision. I thought on it a few weeks, made my decision and now they are charging me 2 weeks rent because I didn't give them a full 30 days notice.
  • Incomplete sentences. Can't stop using them. Blame Twitter.