Sunday, December 2, 2007

Natural Dyeing workshop with Liesel Orend

Wow! What a great weekend! I went to a workshop by Liesel Orend at Montgomery College. I had always heard that you couldn't really get good colors with natural dyes and that the mordants were dangerous to handle. Boy did Liesel dispel those myths. The colors of her yarns are beautiful. And although there are some mordants that need special handling and disposal, we did all our dyeing using alum which is pretty innocuous. We did 3 sets of samples in seven colors, shifted one set with iron, then dipped the 3rd set in indigo. Plus we each got to dye 8oz of wool in whatever colors we chose. Mine were osage orange, cochineal, logwood, and indigo. I think everyone came away from the workshop “dying” to do more “dyeing”. You can see photos HERE. I haven't labeled them all yet, but you can see what we did. It was so much fun and I met a whole new group of interesting people. We're already talking about setting up more fiber days in 2008. A special thanks to Linda W for setting this up, and for letting me stay in her beautiful guest cottage so I wouldn't have to drive the 100 mi. round trip on Saturday night!

These are my finished skeins after washing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Year's 2008 Project

Although I still have more unfinished knitting than I care to admit, I just can't let the new year begin without starting something spectacular. This year it's going to be "Lyra" by Herbert Neibling. It is the pattern that really got me interested in knitting lace. I ran across it on Michael Kaprelian's website some years ago. I'm going to knit it in some handpainted yarn by Margaret Pittman that I bought when attending a workshop with Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer. It is 100% Tencel, and the colors are very vibrant - much like silk. And with a beautiful drape. I think it's going to be a good match! Now I just need to finish as much other stuff as possible before the end of the year so I won't feel quite so guilty biting off another meaty project.

"Lyra" - knitted by Michael Kaprelian

100% Tencel, handpainted in the "Tallahatchee Bridge" colorway by Margaret Pittman

Thanksgiving 2007

I actually cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in probably 20+ years! We always went to my grandmother's house when we were kids. Then it was to mom's house. Now it's my turn. The turkey torch has been passed! ;-) After a balmy 80 degree week before, Thanksgiving was wonderfully cold. It's not that I really like winter, but I do like it to be cold for the holiday season. I just can't get into the mood to shop and decorate when I'm in shorts and the a/c is on.

So anyway, I had a wonderful 4 days with kids and grandkids. We did Autorama on Friday, then I babysat while C&S did some shopping on Saturday. Riley helped put up the Christmas tree, and hung all the unbreakable ornaments on the bottom third, while Tucker had a nap. Bailey has been steadily knocking them off with her tail this week, then chewing them up. There may not be much left by the time Santa gets here!

Here are a couple of cute pics from the weekend...

Monday, November 12, 2007

2007 Kid 'n' Ewe & Llamas, too

I think Bailey missed me! Here's the view as I try and get this onto the blog.

We're back from our annual girl's weekend to the Kid 'n' Ewe fiber festival. And once again, it was a rousing success. The festival is growing each year with more and more vendors and demonstrators. This year the cashmere goat association was represented too. I was having too much fun to take very many pictures, but here's a link to the ones I have - festival pics.

Our first stop was Jojoland Yarns. We discovered them last year and couldn't wait to pick up more. The colors are beautiful and I love the laceweight yarns for shawls. They've made the big time by being featured in the current issue of Knitter's Magazine.

On the way in to get to Jojoland, we passed CJ, of Donlee Acres, with her Angora rabbits for sale. Since Roddie and I each have a big bag of angora from our friend Jane's bunnies, we were curious about how to spin it. CJ graciously gave us a great lesson in spinning Angora straight from the bun! (You can see photos in my photo gallery) If you'd like to see more of CJ's bunnies (and other animals), click here.

Since Roddie and I both have a rather extensive yarn/fiber stash, we weren't really doing a lot of impulse buying. Her sister, Debbie, picked out some yarn so Roddie could knit her a gift; and we all bought some alpaca sweaters from Bolivia that were adorable and an absolute steal at $35. I found a few Christmas gifts, too, that I can't mention in case the recipients are reading this. And I bought a smattering of yak and buffalo fibers to spin (that was my big splurge purchase this year) from Buffalo Gold. I think I got enough to do a few luxurious scarves if I spin it laceweight.

We also made a stop at The Old Oaks Ranch booth where I got a guick lesson in weaving. As you can see, it was a lot of fun but I don't have room for another hobby at the moment. But later?

After making the rounds at the festival, we headed to lunch at Boerne Vistro to meet friends for lunch. The food was wonderful and I don't think there was a crumb left on anyone's plate! Now we just needed to walk it off at a craft fair in the Boerne town square (where we found more gifts). I definitely got a good start on my Christmas shopping this year!

The rest of Saturday and Sunday were spent in a whirlwind of shopping in Boerne and Fredericksburg, and eating German food (with the appropriate beer, of course). We were all exhausted by the time we got home, but were already talking about what we are going to do next year!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fiber Fest Weekend!!

We're off on the annual "girls only weekend" to Boerne, TX for the Kid 'n' Ewe fiber festival! There is so much going on this weekend that it's going to be hard to fit it all in. But we're going to give it our best! Story and pics to follow...

On a gramma note, I was online looking to see if there were any new pictures of the grandkids since Riley has been playing soccer. They sure do start young these days! Anyway, I found the cutest picture of Tucker napping with dad so I had to share. They both look like it's been a LONG day! Note: He's only 11mos old there!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A new member enters the fold

I've sucked another one into the "craft cult" as James calls it. I forgot to add to my post on the 21st about my friend Esther coming over for a spinning lesson. We had a very productive afternoon and she was able to leave with her first little skein of handspun yarn. So I loaned her all my beginning spinning books and spindles, and pulled out samples of various fibers out of my stash for her to try. As you can see from her blog, she's been hard at work and skein #4 is looking really good. I'm so proud! Teaching people crafts from the beginning has not really been my forte. I'm much better teaching techniques to someone who already has the basics. Some years ago I foolishly agreed to teach a basket class at our neighborhood clubhouse. There were 10 people in the class, and thankfully my friend Julie and my mom came along to help out. If they hadn't been there I totally would have lost my mind. Everyone said that they had a good time and really liked their baskets, but I wouldn't try that again. I've done quite a few workshops and programs for the knitting guild and am pretty comfortable with that. I guess because I still feel like an advanced beginner spinner myself, I'm not that comfortable teaching others.

So thank you Esther for being such an exemplary student and making me look good!

New Job (sort of)

I just moved to another facility to work on Monday. It was REALLY hard to leave all my "old people", and many tears were shed last Friday. I'd been there for 3 years, so it was almost like leaving family. It's kind of sad to think that being on therapy would be the high spot of someone's day. So now I'm working a little closer to home (cut my 45 minute drive by 15 minutes), I get every other Wednesday off, I'll be learning to apply all the modality training we did last year, and the building is better staffed which lets me better utilize my time for therapy. And as an added bonus, I'm still working with people that I like as well as respect professionally. Woo-hoo! Now if someone could just manage to figure out a way that we could do paperwork online my work world would be good. I'd even spring for my own laptop to get out of writing notes by hand!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Productive Week

I actually got a lot done this week, in spite of working way more than I really wanted. The Bobble Sweater is finished! And I've actually got a picture ready. Somehow when I was figuring yarn amounts, I totally blew it on the main color. I only had enough for the body and ended up buying 4 more skeins on the internet since Wendy only had 3. Part of the reason was that I added some length to what the pattern called for, both in the body and in the sleeve length. Once I was finished, I had a ball and a little bit left over so I could have just used the 3. But I did not want to take a chance on not having enough to complete both sleeves in the same dye lot. In the right light you can tell the sleeves and body are different dye lots, but it's not something most people would ever notice. I'm happy it's done and am now waiting on some cold weather to try it out. And I've got enough of all three colors to make a matching cap!

I think I may have mentioned finishing spinning a skein of the combed merino x romeldale yarn I was doing on the Country Craftsman. It came out pretty good considering the learning curve and all. Now I want to spin a couple more skeins so I'll have enough for a project. I thought I was spinning pretty fine when I was doing the singles, but once washed, it's more of a fingering weight. I should have known better with the merino.

Then today I spent the afternoon teaching my friend Esther how to spin using a drop spindle. I think she's hooked! We managed to spin a little test skein in two hours. She is a very talented knitter, and so I doubt she'll have any trouble picking this up. A bunch of us are having dinner next weekend so she's going to bring what gets finished this week. I can hardly wait to see it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

We're back!

Wow! This was an exhausting weekend! James arrived home from Topeka early Saturday morning and took a nap while I delivered Bailey to the kennel so we could make the trip to Dallas to see my stuff at the State Fair. And off we went! Fortunately (or not, depending on what you think of driving fast), we hooked up with a group of trucks that were making very good time so it only took us 3 hours to get from home to Mesquite! After a mess up with our hotel reservation, we ended up in a jacuzzi room for the night, which felt good after being so tense on the drive up. I was too nervous to even knit (plus we had the top down and it was too windy).

Sunday arrived and was just beautiful for our trip to the fair. We went to the Creative Arts building first and started making our way around the displays. About an hour later, we were getting to the end and still hadn't seen my entries. But there was a new display right in the middle, and lo and behold, there they were. I felt very special to have both of my entries in such a prominent position! They do such a good job of displaying things at the State Fair. It's always amazing how they can come up with so many themes for each showcase using just what's entered that year. I was really surprised that there were not many entries in the knitting catagories. In years past, the competition was pretty fierce. But I still feel very humbled to have won two 1st place ribbons. Below are a couple of pictures.

Since James' mom was also gone this weekend, I took the opportunity to try out a new kennel. It's not actually new, but new to us. It's called the Pooch Pad and we were very happy with Bailey's care this weekend. She's still on drops for an ear infection, and they made sure that she got all the drops and pills on time. In addition, they take her out to play 6-7 times a day! That's more playtime than she gets at home. She was still glad to be home again, though, and came in with a cute Halloween bandana. She's such a cutie!!

I haven't got much knitting done this weekend (actually none), but I did manage to get one sleeve finished on the bobble sweater before we left. It's really looking cute, and it actually fits! Hopefully I can finish the 2nd sleeve by the weekend. I'd like to have the sweater to wear for Kid 'n' Ewe weekend in case it gets cold. We're really looking forward to getting away for that again. I've already got more fiber than I can spin in a few years, but I do want some more yarn from Jojoland. I'm using the yarn I bought last year for the Victorian Shawl and it is wonderful to work with. And the colors are beautiful! Last year Roddie bought the cashmere and I bought the laceweight wool. The colors are great and the prices are very reasonable. My only other big purchase will be another case of wine from the Fredericksburg Winery. If you're ever in town, stop by for the tasting. They really have some good Texas wines. And their port is delicious! I never really liked ports, but this is great. I need to stock up on the Christmas wine which is wonderful during the holidays. The only problem is not drinking it all ourselves!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

It's October already?

Gosh! It's been a whole month since I posted last. Time sure flies! I've been working more, but James has been busy with the SCCA National Tour so I've actually made time to exercise most days and have almost finished a sweater I started last month. I'm doing the Bobble Sweater out of Jamieson's Shetland Knitting Book, but substituting Rowan Felted Tweed for Jamieson's DK. I've only got one sleeve left to do so hopefully I'll have it finished by the end of the week and get a picture up.

Last week on the spinlist there was a post on reconditioning the wood on old spinning wheels. They recommended Howard's Feed-n-Wax. After reading up on the product, and it is available at the local Home Depot, I decided to give it a try. The wood on my Country Craftsman was pretty dry, and the stool had several substantial scratches and blemishes to the finish. So I used the Restore-A-Finish first, then went over everything with Feed-n-Wax. It looks like brand new!!! This stuff is great. I spent the rest of the weekend waxing all my dry antiques.

It looks like October is going to be a really busy month with stuff planned every weekend. I'll just be glad when we finally get off of daylight saving time and back to normal. Who cares if it gets dark early? At least I won't feel like I'm getting up in the middle of the night. If I had my druthers, I'd skip DST altogether! I'll try and post a photo of the finished sweater and of my stuff at the state fair, but probably won't have time for much else. Only 74.5 months 'till retirement...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hurray! I won!

Ok, quit reading now if you don't want to hear my shameless bragging. The letter from the Texas State Fair came early and I won first place for both of my entries! I was pretty confident they would win, but you never know. There are a lot of talented people out there. But I find that most people are very hesitant about having their work judged, which makes the entry pool smaller. What you have to realize, is that judging is often very subjective. You can't take criticism personally. Once I entered things a couple of times, I quickly learned what "helps" when everything is equal. Especially at the county fair level. The judge is not necessarily a knitter, so good use of color and texture can go a long way. For the state fair though, I usually agree with most of the placings when I see them all in person so I'd bet that the person judging the knitting is probably a knitter.

So now I'm planning an extra trip in October to go see my stuff.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

I almost forgot...

The kids surprised us and came in last weekend to take Riley to NASA while I babysat Tucker. We finally got to see Tucker walk! He's been taking a few steps at daycare, but wouldn't do it at home. We still didn't manage to get him to walk while we had a camera ready though. In fact, I hardly got any pics at all! Trying to sit those two still for 10 seconds is like pulling teeth. So here's the best of what I managed to capture...

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Bailey takes advantage of her opportunity to give Tucker a smooch.

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It's no wonder this child is so skinny - he never slows down!

Woo-hoo! A long weekend! (sort of)

After being off work almost all week with a stomach bug (I worked Monday and Friday), I went in for a little while today to see a few people who had missed treatment while I was out, and also caught up on my paperwork. That's not so bad since I get Monday off. I also indulged myself and spent the afternoon browsing antique shops, with no real purpose other than the fact that I felt like it. Last night I caught the end of a story on 20/20 about "soft addictions" (bad habits) such as being late, messy, overweight, etc. The gist of the story was that we develop bad habits as a way of destressing, then they get out of hand and no longer provide the stress relief. In fact, they cause more stress. The cure? Identify what it was you were trying to relieve - such as loneliness. Indulge yourself in something nice (do something you enjoy), then remove one thing you don't like (clean off that messy table, be on time for one meeting, cut back on spending, etc.). As you take care of your inner self, the soft addictions will resolve themselves. So now I'm going to go clean off my messy kitchen counter. No need to tackle the whole house, just baby steps. This is pretty much the same philosophy as Flylady, the most sensational organizational system I've ever run across. I still do it in fits and starts, and it's time to get back on the bandwagon now that I'm feeling better. So that's what I'm planning on doing tomorrow while the laundry runs and James comes home from racing in Fort Worth (he won 2nd place today).

On the knitting front, I finished the body of the Victoria Shawl and have started the edging. If I really buckle down, I may be able to finish it in time for the county fair in October. But it's just killing me not to start any new projects right now. I've really got a bad case of "start-itis" now that fall is approaching.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fun Test

I was reading one of my OT magazines on Sunday and ran across this fun cognition test. It tests your mental processing speed and accuracy. I took it on Sunday (after being up most of the previous night worrying about Hurricane Dean) and scored 104. I tried it again tonight and scored 138. It probably helped immensely that I wasn't over tired and understood how to play the games. I had so much trouble with the monster game that I was seriously considering subscribing to the service for a few months to see if I could improve my memory. Just goes to show why it is so important to get enough sleep.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Road Trip to Dallas

Yesterday Roddie and I packed up the "school bus" and were on the road to deliver the tablecloth and shawl to the Texas State Fair in Dallas. After spending that much time on it, there was no way I was going to put it in the mail. I have this fear of the FedEx truck being in an accident and catching on fire with my stuff in it. Not a reasonable fear, but hey, it could happen. I didn't spend 3 years on that thing to have it go up in smoke! It's hard enough just trusting the fair to keep it safe. The judges mail out the results of the various contests in mid-September, so I'll know then if we're going to need to make a trip back to the fair to see the display. In the meantime, here are a few photos documenting delivery day.
Theresa at the fair
Getting my stuff out of the bus.

At the needlework booth
At the needlework booth

Taking the tablecloth out of the bag
Hey don't unfold that!

At the designer/craftsman booth
Don't be alarmed. It's just my manager documenting the occasion.

With that chore out of the way, we visited a great yarn shop in Arlington called "Yarn Heaven". We were greeted at the door by Sparkle, the shop puppy. There are also two beautiful angora bunnies in a cage with fluff just waiting to be spun. Tarie has a well organized shop with a huge selection of needles and yarns. I was trying to be good, so I only came home with another ball of TOFUtsies, some Dream Baby for caps, and a few sets of Inox needles that were on sale. I just finished one set of TOFUtsies socks and really like them. The are cooler than 100% wool socks. The only drawback is that they need to be knitted on size 0 needles. I don't mind that, but I know a lot of people who do! Here is a picture of my first pair in the "Underfoot" colorway.
TOFUtsies socks

Roddie bought a nice heathered forest green yarn for that cute sweater on the cover of the Fall 2007 Interweave Knits, plus needles and some sheep note cards. And we got to see the "Bella" shawl from Fiber Trends, all knitted up. It is WAY nicer in person than in the picture. The shop shawl was knitted in Lorna's Laces "Helen's Lace" , which is a much nicer choice than what came with our pattern from Joslyn's Fiber Farm shawl club. But then again, it's a little pricier too. You get what you pay for most of the time.

After a stop for Mexican food at El Conquistador, somewhere around Waco, we were on our way home. And we managed to dodge almost all of the rain all day!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stitch 'n' Pitch

Today was Stitch 'n' Pitch day with the Houston Astros, as well as a tribute to Craig Biggio's 3000th hit. We really lucked out that they had already set aside a block of tickets for knitters/crocheters/etc. The game was a sellout and packed with everyone decked out in their Astro's gear. We had a good time, but the "stitch" group sure made a poor showing. Considering how many knitters we have in the Houston area, turnout was pretty sparse. I did finish up a cute preemie cap that looks like a baseball. If you'd like to test knit the pattern for me, click here. Below is a photo of the hat on a softball to give you an idea of the size.
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I did get some good news in the mail this week. My entry for the Texas State Fair made it there in time, so we'll be making a road trip next weekend to drop off the Rose of England tablecloth (lace knitting category), and the Beaded Shapely Shawlette (handspun category). You can see pictures in my 2006 Finished Items album at The tablecloth won Best in Show at the 2006 Brazoria County Fair, and the 2006 Knit at Night Guild 10th Anniversary Conference. Sure would be nice to make it three in a row! The shawl was just finished last Christmas, so this will be it's first entry. Looks like I'll be taking this year off from entering the county fair since I haven't done much "entry worthy" knitting this year.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Brilliant Idea!

On the long drive back from Seattle, we passed an old one-room schoolhouse and I had a GREAT idea. A schoolhouse or small church would make a perfect craft studio! Then we could have our house nearby (with the requisite huge garage). Not only would it be a great place to work with lots of open space and good natural light, but it would also be handy to give small classes, have people over to play, etc. Ideally, it should be in a cute little town that is not totally dried up, not too far from kids, and sitting on about 5-10 acres. Hey, as long as I'm wishing I may as well start at the top! If you ask for the stars, you can always compromise with the moon.

I figure that I've got 6 years and 4.5 months left until I can retire, and it's time to really start getting ready. So I'm working on channelling all my whining about NOT being able to retire yet, into something more constructive. Maybe it will turn into a third career - only more fun. Committing to an idea in writing is the first step toward reaching the goal, at least for me anyway. So if you happen to pass a place with character in your travels, let me know!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Toys!

Right before we left on our trip, my new skein winder arrived! Now I can make any size skeins I want and easily calculate how much yarn I've spun. Don't get me wrong, the McMorran Yarn Balance is a very cool toy, but now I don't have to waste any yarn in the measuring process. I think I'm going to finish it in a medium oak finish similar to the CC wheel. But notice that I'm NOT going to tie myself down to a date. I'm still waiting on my Indigo Hound combs to arrive so I can work on a couple of fleeces I really want to start spinning up.
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Ever notice how every time you try out a new hobby there are $$$ in new tools that you just have to have? Not to mention books! But hey, it's cheaper than an race car. On our trip back last week, I saw an old schoolhouse out in the country which got me to thinking, "Wouldn't that make a great craft workshop!!". Hmmm, I wonder how I might be able to find one for sale in a nice little town, not too far from grandkids? Well, one can wish...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

It's been a while

I actually took some time off from work last week to attend my nephew's wedding in Oklahoma City. The wedding was held just outside of town at the beautiful Express Ranch. The bride and groom really outdid themselves planning this elaborate affair. There were activities planned all weekend to keep the guests and kids entertained - food, movies, a tour of the ranch, and a trip to pick up the new Harry Potter release the night before the wedding! It was absolutely beautiful and everyone had a great time. Below are a few pictures.

Here we are all dressed up. It doesn't happen very often so I made sure to get a photo.

Here is the happy couple carefully coming back across the bridge at the end of the ceremony. The setting was beautiful; even cows chimed in to wish them their best.

Here we are (right) at the reception with my aunt and uncle (left), and mom with new hubby (center).

After brunch on Sunday, we left on our trek to Seattle, WA to pick up a 1936 Gibson tractor for my BIL's birthday. We've always enjoyed taking driving trips, so 5000 miles was not too bad (we've done worse)! Also got to see my sister, her new house, horses, and dog. Hopefully we can go back sometime soon when we can actually stay for a while. Washington state is just beautiful in the summer. We had actually planned a leisurely drive back, but after a rock slide, a washed out bridge, and a dead battery put us a day behind, it was kind of a quick trip home. I did get a lot of knitting done though.

I was going to work on the Victoria Shawl, but knitting with cobweb weight yarn while riding in a truck is much too dangerous. So I opted on a pattern we got at a guild meeting a couple of months ago - "Carol's Clever Little Shawl". I had some Brooks Farm yarn that was just barely enough. But I like the pattern so much, I'm going to do a little modification and knit it again with some space dyed mohair/wool yarn that is also from Brooks Farm.

After that, I started working on Lucy Neatby's "Camelot Socks". As you can see, I got down to the foot and got a little befuddled so I had to stop. It's hard to concentrate with someone constantly wanting you to pay attention to the map! I'll pull them out again this weekend and see if I can get started again. While that was on hold, I finished a pair of plain socks that I'd been carrying around since MS&W in May. Nothing special, just something to keep my hands busy.

This weekend I've got to get the guild website up to date so I can turn over the reins to my successor. WooHoo! Now I can start to work on MY website The goal is to compile all the little bits of information on various crafts that I'm interested in to one place. Handy for me, and hopefully handy for others. I'm planning on keeping the blog just for my personal stuff.
Stay tuned...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dark Chocolate Brown Sweater

Well, I guess you could say I was somewhat successful. The spot is gone. But the color didn't strike evenly so it's sort of splotchy all over. I took a couple of photos while still wet, and I'm going to wait until it is dry before I decide whether to do another dye run. At this point, it's not ugly. It actually looks sort of space dyed. Too bad the color wasn't even, because it's really a nice combination of burgundy and dark brown. Since I have some dye powder left, I may use it after I spin up some red llama and dye it at about 50% to see if I get that pretty burgundy again. Playing with color is so much fun. Sometimes you get what you planned for, sometimes it's a surprise!

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It's still raining and yukky so I decided to work on Jane's sweater again. After spending the morning treating it with Thiox to remove the color, all I managed to do was get it back to the original color. Which must have been knitted with some of Jane's reddish-brown llama yarn and the stain was something that actually bleached the color from the llama. As you can see from the picture below, it looks just like when I got it.
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So now I'm dyeing it a dark chocolate brown to see if that's going to cover it up. It looks like it may have worked (I'm waiting on the dye bath to cool so I can rinse and see what I've got). My fingers are crossed and I'll post a picture tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cool Yarn!

At the June Tall Pines meeting, I bought some really interesting pencil roving from Upstairs Studio. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm to spin it, I forgot to take a "before" photo. It was kind of hard to describe, but I'll give it a try. Think of a 2-ply pencil roving in which each ply is space dyed in different colors. When you spin it, you get a barberpole effect. And when you ply that, you get...
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If you look really closely, you can see the striping in each ply.
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I haven't weighed it on the McMorran yarn balance to see how much I have yet, but I'm hoping to have enough for a pair of mittens. That's about all I've been up to lately. Still plugging away on the Frosted Ferns doily and the Victorian shawl, both of which are in that "bag of string" stage where they aren't really very impressive to look at. I suppose I should concentrate on one or the other and actually finish.

Monday, June 11, 2007

First Skein on Country Craftsman

I finished it last week, but just got around to getting some pictures. It's not the most evenly spun yarn, but hey, it's a learning experience. This is Blue Faced Leicester spun from a lofty batt that I carded myself. Hopefully the merino/romeldale yarn I'm working on now will be more even.

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I'm slowly making my UFO list shorter...

I finished my gift for Wendy's baby shower just in time. It's the "Brittany Jumper" from Jil Eaton's .Minnow Knits, Too. I just love this pattern and have made it several times. Hopefully mom will love it as much as I do. It was knitted using GGH Linova, a cotton/linen blend, which incidentally makes a great drive band on Rapunzel.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Overdyeing: What not to do

My friend Denise, gave me a sweater that belonged to a mutual friend before she passed away last year. It is really nice, and we are pretty sure that Jane knitted it herself, but it has a big blotch on it that is bleached out. My challenge: to cover up the spot without ruining the sweater. As you can see below, it is a pretty reddish-brown.

I decided to try and dye it with a similar color. I thought it was probably not going to work, but I had the dye and some free time over the wet holiday weekend and I decided to proceed. I now have a nice reddish-brown sweater with a slightly different color splotch. So I guess now my only option is to try and strip the color, then redye it. I've done this once before with a cotton sweater and it came out great. But wool is a whole other matter. From browsing the Pro Chem website, it's looking like I can use Thiox to remove the color. So now it will be a few weeks before I have the free time to attempt this project again. But it will be worth it in the end.

I'm still working on filling up my first bobbin on the new wheel. I have a couple of Blue Faced Leicester fleeces that I'm working on carding, so I'm using it as my test yarn. So far it's spinning up very easily. This is a wonderful fiber to spin and should make something nice.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Isn't the internet wonderful?

I totally love that you can find the answer to almost anything by using Google or another search engine. Even if it doesn't answer my question, I can almost always find someone who can. Many thanks to Dawn Adcock who was able to put me on the right path to getting the new wheel (herein after referred to as Rapunzel)assembled correctly. It seems the metal piece that connects the whorl to the flyer had come apart. I was able to put it back together and everything is working great. Hopefully I'll have some yarn to post by tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My new baby is home!

Woo Hoo! I spent the day and my new friend Linda's house test driving the Country Craftsman wheel that she has up for adoption. It's just like petting a stray puppy. Once you touch it, it's yours! So off we went through the driving rain through the Memorial Day weekend traffic. Felt like it took forever to get home since I was so anxious to play some more. But I was a good mom and took a little time to get everything adjusted and oiled before taking it for a spin again. It's spins fine yarn like a dream! And fast, too; although there is a problem with the whorl which I've got to fix before I can ply :-(. I've got to find a couple more bobbins, and I'll probably get whatever other accessories are available since this wheel is no longer in production. It definitely won't replace my trusty Lendrum, which I think is the easiest most versatile wheel ever, but I have room in my heart (if not my house) for both.

That's Bailey there to the right. Probably a little jealous because she's not the center of attention today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I have managed to get a little bit done...

I whipped up these cute baby booties over the weekend for Emma (friend's first grandchild). The pattern is the "Stay on Baby Bootie" from Twisted Yarns. I made up the matching cap pattern on the fly. Came out pretty good if I do say so myself. Guess I'd better write it down before I forget what I did!

While cleaning off all the junk that has accumulated on the kitchen counter over the past two weeks, I decided to use up the yarn that I had left from the Merike Saarniit workshop. Since there wasn't a lot, I decided to make a felted wine holder - something to keep it cool and not sweat on the table. I haven't tested it yet, but I think it came out kind of cute. No pattern, just one of those things I decided to do on a whim. It came out shorter than I expected, but that's ok. James says it looks like something for the Cat in the Hat.

Now I just need to get to work finishing the things I already have started. And I REALLY want to finish up my Level II Master Knitting Program from TKGA. I had all the swatches done at one time, but with the new revisions, I'm going to have to make a few more. Plus, I think my knitting has improved some since I did them originally so I'll be reknitting a few too. I already have the argyle sock and the vest done, so other than the swatches, all I have left are questions, book reviews, and a report on the history of knitting. Yawn! You can see why I can't get motivated to finish this!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Spinning Wheel

I'm picking up my new spinning wheel next week! It's being adopted from a fellow guild member whose house is overpopulated with wheels. The new wheel is a Country Craftsman. I still love my Lendrum upright, but have always wanted a Saxony style wheel too. If my husband can justify having five cars, I must be at least three wheels behind, so what can he say. Linda is having a little reunion at her house for all the MS&W gang (we haven't seen each other in at least a week!), so I'll be picking the wheel up there. I haven't spun on a double drive wheel before, and will greatly benefit from a little instruction. I'll post some pictures next week.

I've decided that need to start setting aside one evening a week for spinning. There are lots of things I want to do, but I'm always putting it off because there isn't enough time. If our great-grandmothers had time to spin, certainly I can make the time. We have all the "time-saving" gadgets in our lives, but seem to have less and less free time. When Chris was little, I worked full-time, was room mother for his class, den mother for cub scouts, took piano lessons, trained for marathons, and my house was neat and clean all the time. Am I that much more disorganized now? Where is all my free time going? Maybe I need to fill out a timesheet at home like I do at work?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2007

Twenty of us from the Knit at Night Guild were scheduled to leave on Thursday evening to attend the festival on Saturday. Storms were brewing as we were about to board, and we were informed as we left the gate that we wouldn't be taking off until the weather cleared. About 3 hours later, after sitting on the runway with no food and only a small drink of water, we were informed that the crew had maxed out on their time allowed to be on the flight and we would be returning to the gate to deplane! Since there was only one lonely attendant at the gate to give out information, we eventually learned that most of the local hotels were already full of the people who hadn't been sitting on a plane, and that we were now booked on a flight leaving at 6am Friday morning (it is now 9:30pm). Do we try and get home for a couple hours of sleep, or do we camp out in the cavernous cot room next to gate 45?
Camping it is! After a couple of beers and a piece of greasy pizza we were ready to sleep. And if some *@#&! smoker hadn't set off the fire alarms in the entire terminal by trying to smoke in the bathroom, it probably wouldn't have been half bad.

Once we finally made it Baltimore, six of us decided to take in the Oriole vs. Cleveland ballgame at Camden Field. Since the game didn't start until 7pm, we had time for a water taxi ride around the inner harbor (with a side trip to A Good Yarn, and a local pub).

Our last stop on the water taxi took us to The Rusty Scupper for some awesome crabcakes! I bought a recipe book on our travels so my mission is to learn to make this delectable delight. Lucky for us Camden Field is a nice hike away to burn of a couple of calories!

Here we are at the game. Our seats were on the front row of the upper deck right behind home plate (and in the middle of all the college kids). The view was great and the Orioles hit a homer just as we sat down. We didn't stay for the whole game since we were pretty exhausted from no sleep the night before and sightseeing all day. Plus we wanted to be a little fresh for the festival in the morning.

The festival was awesome! We arrived early and immediately lined up for t-shirts, after being warned by many that they would be gone by the end of the day. The wait in line was a good chance to mingle with the locals and get more tips on what to see and do first. The shopping was overwhelming - yarn and fiber everywhere! Since I went with one particular thing in mind, it wasn't too hard to pass up a lot of impulse buys. Since I had already committed to buy Linda Woodward's Country Craftsman spinning wheel when we get back, my major purchase was a Golding Spindle that I had been lusting over for a long time. This is me with master woodworker Thomas Golding. The spindle is truly a work of art and I've already tried it out.

One of our favorite things about the festival were the sheep barns. Who knew that there were so many different kinds of sheep! We got to pet lots of of them (we were more than willing to do our part in "socializing" the little cuties) and I bought a little bit of fiber so I could test drive the new spindle. Is this not the cutest face you've ever seen?

While we were killing time before the Shepherd's Feast, we watched the sheep dog demonstrations. Those dogs are amazing! My dog doesn't do anything but chase rabbits and shake hands. Hmmmm. Maybe I need a trainer?

A great time was had by all! And we can hardly wait to go back again. If you want to see more pictures, check out our guild photo site. We'll all be posting our pictures there to share with everyone.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Merike Saarniit Workshop Weekend

Last weekend the Knit at Night Guild held a workshop with Merike Saarniit. I am always impressed with the caliber of instructors there are out there. Merike presented us with an engaging overview of knitting in Estonia, and challenged our skills with uniquely Estonian stitches. I was only able to attend the Saturday workshop, but heard that the microwave dyeing on Friday night and "Fiendishly Difficult Stitches" on Sunday were equally good.

Being the good wife that I am, I spent Sunday at the Houston Grand Prix. James was driving in the charity race in the morning, and I knew he wanted me to be there even though he said it was ok if I wanted to attend Merike's class. This was a good one for me to watch since it was not quite so competitive as the Spec Miata races he's usually in. Normally my heart is in my stomach the whole time he's on the track, so I don't watch very often. Below are a couple of pics.

Now that all that is over I've got time to get back to work on the Victoria Shawl from "Victorian Lace Today". I'm making it from some cobweb weight yarn I bought at Kid 'n' Ewe last fall. If I can find my camera, I'll post some pictures now that it's starting to look like something.

Stay tuned! Next week is the road trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! Another excuse to buy stuff!!