Here’s some of the stuff I did this weekend. I have lots of fibery goodness to report on, and lots of pictures!

First, a stealth finished object!

The Season of Mists Cowl

Pattern: Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together
Needles: 16″ size 10 Denises
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden in colorway 230
Started and finished: 10/4/07. Took about 3 hours of knitting
Finished dimensions: Approximately 20″ around, 9″ long (there was enough yarn left over for perhaps one more repeat of the pattern)

I had a sudden craving for a yarn purchase, and left a lunchtime visit to my local yarn store with a skein of Noro Silk Garden in hand: colorway 230, an autumnal mixture of browns, yellows, reds, and greens that felt perfect for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

I was pleased with this quick little pattern, though it might work better with variegated yarn than with self-striping yarn. I wasn’t totally pleased with the way the Noro worked up. In the skein, the combination of colors looked all subtle and warm and brought to mind the changing colors of autumn leaves. Knitted up, it made me think of stop lights, particularly the green, which looked far too bright and garish. Like crayons, or tree frogs, both of which have their uses, but not in a temperate October vignette. I ended up duplicate-stitching over a couple of rows of the green with some of the leftover brown yarn in an attempt to tone it down. What do you think?

Anyway, I’m thinking this pattern might be a good use for my one precious skein of silvery, semi-solid Artfibers Ming, instead of Cat Bordhi’s Moebius Cowl, as I was originally thinking. It’s pretty, and lacey, and versatile; you can wear it either down, like you’re wearing a scarf

or up, like you’re robbing a bank.

Another thing I did this weekend was finish plying my Stormy handspun. I don’t really have any specs on this, to be honest; it’s a two-ply yarn spun up from Louet Northern Lights roving in “Icy Winter,” a mixture of blue, white, black, and gray, but I have no idea how many yards I have, or how much it weighs–4 oz, maybe?–or what the thickness is. In any case, here are some photos of my makeshift guitar stand niddy-noddy (not a great idea, I’ll use the swift next time) and a close-up of the lovely yarn. Purty, ain’t it? I’ll probably make some kind of scarf with it.

I saw this cool truck full of chickens and straw bales on the road on Saturday. I also saw a hay ride in Bryan Park and a guy carrying his spiky brown bearded dragon through the farmer’s market, but unfortunately I left my camera at home and missed those photo ops. I heart Indiana!

And the last fibery thing to report on is the exciting afternoon I spent dyeing yarn with chemgrrl yesterday.

We used black walnuts to dye the yarn.

Those two pots on the right are what we boiled the yarn in, simmering it for an hour or two. We took out the yarn and put it in this big washtub to cool.

I like to think that’s one of Leigh’s walnut trees reflected in the dye, but I don’t know if that is in fact the case or not.

It was interesting seeing how the different yarns we dyed took up the color differently.

Leigh dyed up some Knitpicks Bare wool (not sure if it was Peruvian or merino), and it came out pretty dark:

My violet Lopi came out a beautiful dark chocolate brown:

Some handspun wool yarn I got in a swap from cmtigger came out a pretty light caramel color:

Some of my own handspun Romney singles came out lightest of all. I dyed them again last night with some of the leftover dye, so they might be a little darker today. I spun these with a lot of twist, in preparation for plying with another yarn, but then stuck them in a box somewhere and forgot about them. I was thinking I might ply them with a natural brown wool single–I have some chocolate brown roving to spin up–or maybe I’ll separate it into two balls and do a two-ply of just the Romney, or maybe I’ll knit with it as energized singles and see how it looks. I think I have about 260 yards here. It seems already pretty bulky as a singles. Any suggestions?

The preparation of the walnut dye took some work. And, um, mostly on Leigh’s part. Leigh told me she had started to crack open the fallen green walnuts with a sledgehammer when she noticed tons of maggots crawling out of the walnuts! Brave dyer that she is, she chucked the walnut pieces into the dye pot anyway, and boiled it for a while. I came over and the first job we had was to fish all the walnut pieces out of the dye bath and then strain the dead maggots out with a pillowcase. Here’s the strained maggot and walnut pulp mixture. Yum!

Has Mike Rowe ever worked as a natural dyer?

Look at all the pretty yarn drying in the sun, though. That’s some compensation.

(Says I, who didn’t have to deal with the live maggots at all. Thanks, Leigh! Take a bow…)