Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Here are my newest needles.  


You've seen them already; they're the same needles that led me to declare that I would buy no further needles in my quest to find joy while working on Sigridur.  And there will, indeed, be no further need.  

I LIKE them! They have a dry-ish finish to them, unlike my Harmonys' grippy plastic laminate finish, so they don't impede the stitches.  The whole square needle thing turns out to be pretty comfortable, and the tips are adequately angled for the job, but not so sharp and pointy (I'm looking at you, here, Harmony needle tips) that they (a) split your stitches or (b) poke holes in your index finger as you remove your stitches from the left hand needle (don't bother telling me that there is a better way to move stitches;  I already know, but I'm still a needle pusher when the yarn isn't all that elastic, so shush). I was so happy with them that I added two inches to the body of the sweater yesterday without even breaking a sweat.

So that's good, right?

Not so fast, you say.  What about this whole Bad thing you mentioned in the title??

Well, here it is.  Nate likes to ride his bike to the end of the driveway to meet the  bus in the morning.  He leaves the bike there, and when he gets off the afternoon bus, he can hop on his bike and ride up to the house instead of spending the next 20 minutes stuck in car with me waiting for Matthew's bus to arrive.  It's a good plan: fresh air, exercise, initiative--the whole package. 

A few weeks ago, he complained that his bike wasn't working right, and when I lifted up the handlebars to check it out, the front tire fell off, so I had to agree with him.  It turned out that quick release pin had vanished.  I still can't figure this out.  It's not like the pin is a loose part just waiting to fall off if you aren't careful enough.  If it's on, it's on securely, and if it's not on, you can't ride at all because your tire won't stay on.  The notion that there might be a middle option where the pin is unscrewed but your tire hasn't come off yet still boggles me.

And yet, the pin was undeniable lost.  We didn't find it in the garage, and I didn't find it on the driveway where I thought it most likely had fallen off.  I gave it up as one of life's mysteries and put "new QR pin" on my Everlasting To Do List.

Today, I found the pin.  Actually, I can't take that much credit.  It was the van that found the pin, and if you want to be really specific, it was the rear passenger tire that found the pin.

I didn't realize right away that the Mystery of The Vanishing Pin had been solved.  At first, I thought from the sudden knocking at the back of the car that I had been Twilight Zoned into one of those urban myths where some guy with a hook-instead-of-a-hand  has attached himself to the car and is banging on it to get you to stop driving so he can make your worst nightmares come true.  So I kept driving because in those stories, it's only the people who stop that have bad things happen to them. The one's who keep driving long enough only have to deal with the hook stuck in the car.  

Then I decided that there probably wasn't a madman attached to my car, but a seat belt hanging out of the door with it's buckle flapping against the side of the van.  It's perfectly safe to stop and fix that, so I did and that's when I found the missing quick release pin embedded--pointy end first and big noisy lever end sticking out, naturally--in my tire.  Of course. 

The quick release "pin" is actually a fairly sizeable bit of metal, which meant that as soon as I pulled it out, it was going to quick release all the air in my tire.  What to do?

Leave it in and keep driving, right? No one is going to fix the stupid tire in my driveway, but there was at least a reasonable chance of getting to the service station two miles away.  

HAHAHAHAHAHA.  I'm funny!!  About a quarter of a mile down the road, the hideous thumping and bumping stopped and I can only hope that the lady who was walking her dog wasn't hit by the QR pin as it flew out of my tire.  

So now what?  Keep driving, only faster now because the air is escaping. The air in the tire lasted for the rest of the first mile, but by the time I reached the main road --after having to wait for an unreasonable amount of traffic to pass at the stop sign-- the tire was completely flat.

Kind of like this:


The guys at the repair station, who have fixed an impossible number of flat tires for me lately, were both duly impressed at the size of the puncture and flat out (hahaha--I'm still really funny!) relieved that it wasn't the front tire --the one that went flat twice in the same day last spring-- that was the problem. It turns out that the rear tires were pretty close to the end of their life span anyway, so now I have two spiffy new tires.  Again.

And can you believe that wasn't even the ugly part of my day?

Here's the ugly part:

Actually, that's not ugly, just plain.  I bought this wool as a fleece, washed it, carded it, and spent July spinning it into five springy skeins of worsted weight yarn.  I thought I might leave it undyed, but when I had finished spinning it, I noticed that some of the yarn had a yellowish tint to it that I did not like.  

So I decided to be daring!  I bought some "Herb Green" dye at a festival, and a cheap pot at the store and decided to throw caution to the wind.  I would dye my yarn!  The time was right, the instructions were simple, and I was poised to take the world of indie dyers by storm. Yay Me!!!

I should have known when I brought the pot home that the project was doomed.  The one thing the instructions were explicit about was using a pot that was either stainless steel or unchipped enamel.  I made sure to buy an unchipped enamel pot at the store, but when my kids opened the back of the van to take in the groceries, the new pot fell out and became a badly chipped and dented enamel pot. 

Not one to be thwarted by trifles, I decided to carry on.  Yay Me!!!!

Here is the picture of the yarn in the dye bath.


Notice anything funky??  Like the suspiciously uneven color of the wool??

For whatever reason, the first part of the yarn that I put in the pot (fortunately I lowered the ends of all five skeins at once) zapped the dark blue/green color right out of the water, leaving behind a dismal old-celery color.  I tried to add some more of the regular green, but adding dye after the yarn is in the pot is no way to achieve uniformity of color, so that's why there are some spots that are the right shade mixed in with my celery/ gray-green yarn.

Here it is from a different angle, just in case you weren't convinced of my color analysis.

I'm not quite ready to give up on the yarn, though.  I have decided to pretend that this is intentionally and creatively variegated yarn in shades so fashion-forward that no one has dared use them yet.  I plan to wind the yarn and knit some of it up to see how it looks in an actual project, probably a simple seamless sweater.  If it still looks like puke, then I will admit that I may need a little more practice before the knitting world is ready to accept me as the next hot indie dyer.  I will re-skein the yarn and re-dye it in a shade of blue that is dark enough to conceal the worst of the color variation and pleasant enough that I don't have to convince people that it's avant garde.  

I even have the second jar of dye in the house.  It's stored inside the newly re-enameled dye pot, which is dangerously close to some pure white fiber that is looking a little plain to me.  Together, they are hatching a plan to take the knitting world by storm.  Yay Me!!!

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