Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Agonies of indecision: Which shall it be?

Shall I make another Morning Surf Scarf (free pattern!),

...or another Garterlac Scarf like the one I just finished?









for this:







Just FYI, the "Garterlac Scarf" is actually named "Slotted Neck Scarf with Entrelac Knitting" and is Suzanne Pufpaff's (Pufpaff's Fiber Processing) own pattern.

The stuff I am spinning is so lovely, with its many subtle shadings of blues, browns, melding into whites - all of them quiet, gentle colors reminding me of a late Winter's day, with the sky so blue and the brown Earth still covered in snow, but melting at last. The Garterlac Scarf would work so well to express that! But, then again...

I am reminded of the Winter ocean with her cold, blue waters foaming almost-white against the sandy, shell-strewn beaches. The Morning Surf Scarf would be perfect for this imagery.

Which, oh, which shall I make?!? I wish you could see this yarn's sheen and luster. I suppose you could, if only I was able to take good pictures. My camera-skills are legendary. For their poor quality, that is. In the skein photo, it appears as if some of the browns have a green-ish cast, but I assure you - they don't! That's just my lack of photog skills shining through. Guess I'd better have dd try her hand at it.

I wish you could feel the warm, silken hand and surprising drape. I didn't know a rather tightly-plied yarn would still have such nice drape! I had to spin it rather tightly due to the general shortness of fibers, and - being so eager to see it "done" - I then Navajo-plied the first bobbin (the second just barely begun).

Because of the extremely uneven character of the dyed areas across the loose roving, I knew I couldn't get a satisfactorily shaded (to me) 3-ply. Once again, I had recourse to the good old standby of Navajo-plying. I'm so grateful someone invented it; what an excellent way to keep color-runs together to obtain a certain effect!

If only I'd had 8 ounces of this exquisite 50 silk/50 Merino, I would make both! Does anyone out there have a preference, or should I just toss for heads/tails? Take my poll and help me out, here, please!

Winter's End:











I think I forgot to mention that this fiber came from Leah of Yarn Or A Tale - wonderful stuff! - and she ain't got no more of that particular dye batch :-( Dang it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Entrelac (garterlac) Scarf done!

Well - it's been simply ages since I posted. The days have just whizzed by. I got this scarf done 2 days before Christmas and got it to its recipient - and forgot to take pictures. As usual!


















The fiber is Falkland from Laughing Rat Studios (thanks, Jenn!)











and the pattern is from Suzanne Pufpaff of Pufpaff Fiber Mill.

She has some really interesting patterns and I wanted to try her simplest one as I'd never in my life done entrelac. It was a weird experience, but I'm so glad I persevered! I changed her pattern quite a bit (mostly making it narrower), but it still looks much the same as her original one. I used size 6 needles (4mm) - and they were the totally cool Kollage square circular needles. WONDERFUL needles!

The biggest changes I made to the pattern was that I only knitted the leaves up to 30 stitches wide, and I changed the entrelac "rectangles" to squares by using garter instead of stockinette. Then, for the number of stitches in the squares, I kept them at just 8 stitches wide, rather than increasing them up to 10 or 11, as the pattern called for. But other 'n' that - it's just the same!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You know your house is cold when...

you go to bed fully dressed (well, minus the boots), flannel pyjama pants on over the leggings, wool socks, thermal shirt, large wool shawl over the shoulders, heavy denim skirt, heavy wool scarf over the head and ears, 2 very heavy quilts and one heavy, double-knitted blanket. And you're still :::shivering:::.

In case you're wondering, dh looked about the same, but he has no knitted wool shawl, poor thing. Perhaps he will never again whine that his hand-knitted, Cherry Tree Hill, totally gorgeous, handknit socks are (hold your breath):














"too hot".









He's lucky not to have been moved out to the garage for that crack this Summer.

I really, really HATE Winter. Hate it. I hate and despise everything about it. I don't understand people who say crazy things like: "I LOVE snow and cold weather! I can hardly wait to freeze my tushie off!"

Me? I think they've cracked up. Totally. That's not freaking normal by any sane standards on Earth. Unless you're a penguin at the South Pole. Or something.

Bears are smart. THEY know when to stay in out of the cold.

I'll post about knitting and spinning as soon as my fingers thaw sufficiently. Right now I'm using a pencil held between my teeth...

just kidding, guys :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Did I ever show you this wheel?

THIS is what I would love to have for a bulky/artyarn wheel! It's Pocket Wheels by Doug. Yes, I know - A Ladybug has my name on it...somewhere, somewhen, but it doesn't spin bulky - and that's what I'm needing. This Pocket Wheel is just too cool! I know - I'm beginning to obsess about a bulky spinner. I never thought I would want (let alone need) one. Oy. That's what I get for Spinning My Imagination: more flippin' wheels to buy. Hm. I wonder if Harvey could make something like this?!? Oooh - I'm going to ask him!


Also - on a VERY happy note, little "Charlie" (our new foster Brittany) actually came OUT of his crate and jumped up on me to lick my face! How about that, eh? Needless to say, I am so pleased! He might be even younger than we thought for him to try to make friends this soon. This is great!

One goes out...and another

comes in. I am a bit discouraged - I admit it. This gets old really fast, people dumping their unwanted animals just any old where - no food, no water, no nothing :-(. I mean, what would be SO hard about taking their unwanted animals to a freakin' shelter, for crying out loud??? Are they afraid of "what people would say" if they used a shelter? That's what they're FOR!

"What people would say" is a whole LOT worse when they find an animal's been dumped! At least the poor animals get fed at a shelter. But they don't get fed when they're in the middle of a freakin' field! Figure it out, you selfish jerks!

I sometimes fantasize about slapping the irresponsible jerks into next week, after having starved them for a couple of weeks, first.... I find myself grinding my teeth into powder...

As well, my poor Meems has been sick as a dog (no pun intended!) almost this whole week with a hideous sinus infection. She rolled out of bed around noon today looking almost human. Her eyes were a bit unfocused, but at least the fever's gone, thanks be to God!

We finally found a Forever Home for our sweet, goofy little Brittany foster girl, Ginger. Yes, she really did lay like that. ALL the time :-) Isn't that a hoot? That denotes GREAT hip sockets, btw - probably no hip problems in later life. But I miss her so much! We all do, and the day's been kind of a bummer all around.

She left early this morning on her long journey to the North, all the way up to Michigan, where she will have 3 other Britts to run and play with. She'll have a 10-acre wooded area and fenced yard to run and play in (lucky little girl!). I can't help but worry about her, though: is she scared because her Family (us!) isn't there anymore? It makes me sick to think she might be scared. We took one of Dave's old t-shirts and rubbed it on ourselves and the other dogs (they miss her, too!), and sent along her big Barbie sleeping blankie (Meem's old comforter) with her and lots of treats and toys. I sure hope she will be happy and not miss us!

ANYWAY...we already have our next foster here. We don't know his name, of course, because his former owner apparently abandoned him up near Salina when the dog proved to be gun shy. Damn all "hunters" who don't know squat about being a REAL hunter! This poor dog had no collar (of course not) and is very thin, though thankfully not skin-and-bones like most of our rescues are.

It looks like the poor young fella was on his own for a good week before a REAL hunter found him, cowering under his truck, terrified of the gun shots. This was a hunter who used to raise his own Brittanys (and still has 5 of them). He took him back home to Andover with him and contacted American Brittany Rescue to let us know he'd found a dumped Britt who needed a home, then fed & watered the poor dog. Kept him overnight until we could get him (thank you, Larry!)

This poor baby is so scared of people, he just cowered and shook when he got here this afternoon. That means only one thing to me: he had to have been beaten and abused by his former "masters". Just give me a rubber hose and 15 minutes alone with him/them in a locked room. That's all I ask. Hell, I'll settle for TEN minutes.

We FINALLY got him to take a bit of turkey this evening (he loved it!), but he still won't look at us - doesn't dare :-(. He lets us pet him, but he just freezes, not responding to our strokes or anything. I could just cry in rage for what was done to him. He's around 2 years of age - this young'un should be silly, bouncing, frisky and into everything. He should be driving me distracted by tearing up everything he sees. That's a normal 2-year old Brittany: just plumb crazy. Not this pretty boy, though. Maybe he'll warm up to us a bit later tonight or tomorrow.

I've got to arrange for his neutering and chipping, asap. Boy - next week is already looking mighty busy! Forget the Christmas knitting - it ain't gonna happen. No way. *sigh*

I had SO looked forward to some relaxing spinning. But stayed tuned...I'll get back to the wheel soon. I've got about 4 of 8 oz hand-dyed Merino spun up (from April of The Gourmet Sheep). Lovely colors - not really pastel, but not dark, either. It should Navajo-ply up into a beautiful yarn - I hope! Yes, I'll get a photo posted - after the batteries are charged. I swear, those batteries don't hold a charge worth anything! I wish I could afford a plug-in power source for it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

IntroDUC ing...Knarly Knots™!

That's what we've (Shelly and I) named it: Fairyspun Knarly Knots. Whaddya think? It's definitely gnarly stuff. Looks like I stomped all over it before pulling it through my teeth.

Yuck.

No, I promise! I didn't! It just looks like it, I said.

Baaad roads out there, folks...

Hubby said it took him nearly an hour to get home; his usual drive-time is around 20-25 minutes, shorter if he's coming home earlier or later than the normal rush-hour craziness. He said he slid alllll the way home :-(. I am so glad I didn't realize how bad the roads are - I would have chewed my fingernails to the elbows worrying about him. As it is, the day has been just crap. Just one of those stupid days that you hope don't get repeated very often. Almost everything that could go wrong, DID go wrong. Ugh.

If I believed in sleeping, I think I would go to bed early.

An adorable little Angel ...

is wearing a hat her Mommy knitted up for her. Isn't her sweet little face so awesome?! She's Shelly's little three-year old girl and she loves to wear things knitted for her by her mum. She makes the hat look great, too - LOL!













Somewhere, Shells picked up a hat with the yarn barf on top - it is SO cool - which looks like dyed dredlocks! She asked me if I could spin something like that and, being the idiot intrepid spinner that I am, I said "SURE!" :::coff:::

Actually, I had been messing around with "novelty yarn" like this just a couple weeks prior (making a total mess around me, with mohair floating all over the place), and had achieved - sort of - something like it. She gave me a box of dyed mohair locks (oh, lovely!) to play with. It would have been pure pleasure to spin it up, except...neither of my Babes have bulky-yarn orifices! Oh, NO! They have tiny 1/4" ones which just don't like having 1/2" wads of mohair yanked through them! Don't ask me how I did it - *I* dunno.

After having managed to produce about 6 feet of wild, messy, pastel dredlocks, I had to felt it to keep it from coming apart, as Shelly was going to cut the length to several shorter ones. So, after sinks of hot and icy water dunks, coupled with vigorous palm-rolling, I had what - I hoped! - resembled the hat she'd already bought. She liked it! So...I get to do several more lengths!

My willpower is so strong...

NOT.

I don't really have any spinning silk (well, none to speak of, neway) and I'm kind of scared of spinning plain, straight silk, so I've mostly avoided getting any. Until today.

Ruth MacGregor, of Spinning Forth - Temptress Extraordinaire and Enabler that she is - has just dyed up a fresh batch of her glorious silks. PLEASE go see her website! Not only does she sell gorgeous hand-dyed silk, but she's also got wonderful articles and videos on How To Do Stuff!

I fell resoundingly from my (pathetically brief) self-imposed Fiber Fast and ordered one of her spinning kits (spindle, her silk-spinning book plus 50 gms silk), and ... um ... several more 50 gm hanks of other colors. I hope Ruth doesn't mind my borrowing these photos 'til I have some of my own (I'll ask her!), but feast your eyes (hey, wipe yer slobber off her pics!) on these...

No, I didn't get ALL the colors. Just...most of them. I'm not saying just how many. Wouldn't want anyone to be jealous. Or anything. Some of these are new colors (I think!) - there are many, many more on her site. All of them glow like cut jewels - all of them. I will try to list the colors later, but I got Stuff To Do Today, so it might take awhile before I get the time to do it.


She told me that 50 grams of wool, as any spinner knows, doesn't go very far (she's right - it doesn't!), but with silk one 50 gm hank would make a hang-to-the-waist scarf.

Wow! I didn't know that, but I should've figured. The problem will be in ME spinning it thinly enough. Well, practice makes perfect, but the thought of barfing this up makes my stomach hurt. We'll see!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now THIS is more like it!

I am so loving this new yarn I've spun up - it looks EXACTLY the way I'd planned it - for once! I hope the photos show the rich and lovely color changes to this hand dyed Falkland top from Jennifer of Laughing Rat Studios. She called the colorway "Evening". Yes, I know...I get half my fiber from her - I can't help myself! I also just noticed that her Studio does NOT appear in my "Stuff I Can't Quit Buying" list (see sidebar)! So sorry, Jenn! That is now rectified! I guess I thought I'd gotten the link inserted everywhere, but apparently not.

I love how she chooses many different wools to work with, rather than just sticking with one type. I've gotten Merino, Shetland, Falkland & Finn from her (and probably others, as well), which allows me to find out the different characteristics of each type of wool. I find that I LOVE the Falkland for spinning worsted. It's so much like Blue-Faced Leicester (pronounced 'Lester', in case you wanted to know), that it is going to be one of my favorites - I can already tell. BFL is not always easy to find and, sometimes, darned expensive when you do! The Falkland fiber (similar to BFL and Shetland in length) is much longer than Merino, allowing for a more leisurely draft and a looser twist (if that's what you want). I didn't opt for that this time around, but were I spinning for a lace-weight shawl, you bet I'd want that for a nice, drape-y hand.

Isn't this stuff lovely, though? There are so many subtle, varying shades of browns, reds, teals and a bit of green, that I can hardly count them. I divided the top in half lengthwise and spun the first half, but couldn't wait to ply it, so I'm just now spinning the second half, and about 1/3 the way done with it. That is NOT the 'recommended' method for dealing with a project (can lead to very different twists between the plies), but so what... Its MY stuff and I just couldn't wait this time. Here's what it looked like on the bobbin:











Rather than merely hoping to keep the colors together by plying from 2 bobbins (this is always an iffy prospect when dealing with a many-colored top), I chose to spin a rather thin single and then Navajo-ply it. I wanted a worsted weight yarn with lots of twist in the ply - and it looks GREAT, compared to what I usually produce! I'm about 1/3rd the way through the second half of the split top, so maybe I'll be done tomorrow or the next day and can ply it up. I just wish I'd gotten a good 2 lbs (for a man's sweater!), as I'll only end up with around 360 to 380 yards, total. Darn it - not much after all that work, huh? Anyway, I am probably beating my drum a bit too hard, but I sure do like this stuff!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All I Want For Christmas...

are these. Or these.

That's all. That's it. I could die happy if I had a full set some of them!

The only other thing I have ever wanted just as badly was is a Schacht Ladybug ::sigh::

Friday, November 28, 2008

Neener, neener

Lookee what *I* bought from Tina from her Made For Ewe Etsy Shop. I snatched that puppy up the minute she let us know it was available. I ain't stupid; it would've been gone in a half-second, otherwise.

Tina's Shetland fibers are just lovely, and I just wish I could afford to have a whole "library" (okay - it sounds more dignified than stash) of all her gloriously-dyed Shetland locks. The colors glow like jewels lit from within - beautiful! These locks dye up as beautifully as mohair and Salish, and that's really saying something.

I ALSO got (I couldn't help myself) more fiber from Jennifer of Laughing Rat Studio. I hope to get some photos up soon.

I wish I could spin fiber as fast I can buy it...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kindergarten Rug Shawl

Well, it's been done for a good, long while, but it was in one of the windows of the yarn shop, along with 2 other Kindergarten Rug shawls made by my sis, Cass. It sure was fun to do, but I didn't think I'd ever get done. I guess I'm way spoiled making socks. They're ever so much smaller than shawls!

I chose a base color-range to work with (Fall colors), then I just dug through my yarn scraps to see what I had, plus Cass gave me a ton of scraps in "my" colors that she couldn't use for her own shawl(s). Aaaannnnd ... we were off and running! Ain't it kewl? And oh-so-warm! As you can see, I've got some crazy fibers in there: metallics, ribbons, tapes, chenilles, pom-poms, eyelashes, fuzzies, furries, bumpies, hand-spuns, sock yarns, bulky yarns...you name it - it's in there. I used up nearly all my handspun scraps - I'm so glad I didn't throw them away - I nearly had!


We both started with an "inspiration" yarn (Cass' idea) and dug around in our (much-bigger-than-we-realized) stashes to find yarns that would "go" together (okay, much in the same way horses and clocks "go" together...). I quickly discovered that if I used just Fall colors, the shawl just looked...dull, somehow, even though many of the colors were very bright. I realized I HAD to have some brights and lights in the mix to make it "work". Back to my stash I went and gleefully dragged out More Yarn.

Just FYI, we worked the shawl in the most simple way possible. Starting at the bottom, we cast on somewhere in the neighborhood of 3, 4 or 5 (I can't remember and it really doesn't matter) stitches and increased by 2 stitches on every other row, by knitting in the front and back (K1fb) of the 2nd and 2nd-to-last stitches. For example:

Using needles anywhere from about U.S. size 10.5-to-whatever...

CO 5
Row 1: K1, K1fb, K1 (or across until 2 st remain), K1fb, K1
Row 2: Knit
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you're sick and tired of knitting. Cast off loosely and wear. You don't even have ends to work in!

You could use yarnovers, instead of K1fb, if you want holes along the edge.

You could also just increase by one stitch EVERY row, and make it way easier on yourself. I wish I had, because I was constantly forgetting whether I'd increased or not. Seeing that there is NO front or back to the thing - and seeing that I was too lazy to go get a freaking marker to assist me - I couldn't tell which "side" I was to increase on. Yes, I am that lazy.

The way we changed colors just depended entirely on whatever whim was driving us at the time. Sometimes we cut varying lengths of yarn (from 12" to a yard or two - or three.) of whatever yarn came to hand, either leaving it by itself, or combining it with 1 or more strands of other yarns. That depended mostly on how heavy the yarns were to start with. Mostly, we ended up with bulky-weight stuff, which made the knitting faster!

Other times, we'd start a crazy-looking yarn ball to work from later (tails sticking out everywhere), by grabbing some yarns, holding them together and say "yep, that looks pretty good" and cutting them off. We'd then tie strand/s after strand/s of yarn together, leaving 2-4" tails, using over-hand knots (important - NOT square knots!). We did this if we wanted to knit on the shawl somewhere besides our homes, because our scrap stashes were absolutely NOT portable in any real sense of the word.

Just knit the shawl from your short scraps of yarn, leaving the tails wherever they "land". I did go ahead and pull some tails to the other side if I had a bunch on one side and a big, bald, tail-less spot on the other.

Anyway - we added some fringe, et voila! Finis! A crazy-looking piece of fabric that would probably bring $120 - $150 in a boutique. And it's mine. Our shawls are just gorgeous!

The Most Obnoxious Handspun Yarn...

in all History is now being made into an eye-popping version of the Morning Surf Scarf (my 3rd version!) for my daughter. It's being knitted from one of my earliest attempts at dye-your-own Merino top. SHE thinks it's "awesome". I get headaches just from looking at it. I need sunglasses. It's nearly twice as bright as the photos show:










I'm almost done with my second Morning Surf Scarf. Too bad I didn't spin up enough yarn :-(. I would've if I'd had more fiber, but I'll just have to treat this as a neck-tucker scarf. Darn! Scarves take up more yarn than you might think!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Eunny Jang! Totally Tubular Cast-On

I love being able to embed these cool YouTube vids onto my blog. Isn't it great? Interweave's Eunny Jang (Knitting Daily) does it again: a super-handy Tubular Cast-On video. I'll bet you've probably always wanted to know how to do it, but never got around to looking it up. It's a very easy-peasy cast-on (otherwise, I'd never have bothered doing one - ever!). Enjoy!



Yes, I am still spinning, but I have had SO little time to indulge in that most-loved pastime. I'm also knitting up that "Morning Surf" scarf again using more of my hand-spun. It's that bumpity, slubby, 50 silk/50 Merino green stuff that kept insisting (in all the photos) that it was BLUE. Well. It's still green.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Knitting Black Hole - NEW Scientific Discovery!

There I am, finishing up (finally) my 2nd little 10"x12" afghan "square" (okay, so my I'm-going-to-do-it-myself design was sooo off on needed stitch count). I fiddled with the pattern and made my own as I didn't like the ones I was doing. What else is new.

Anyway, I cast on 54 stitches and increased to 68 to accomodate the 'pull' cables exert (as in: cables are a Force of Nature whose-influence-is-not-to-be-ignored) on any piece of knitting. That's an increase of just 12 stitches. Keep that '12' in mind. It's important.

See, there were to be 3 main sections to the 'square': 22 stitches on the outer design (Trinity stitch) and 24 stitches for the cabling. Twenty-two plus twenty-two equals forty-four. Right? RIGHT! Then add that 44 to the middle 24 stitches: that's 68. Even I can add in my head that much. To check, I used my calculator. We both came up with 68.

Gottit. I knitted. And knitted. AND knitted, cabling dutifully up the piece, finishing off 5 repeats of the blasted Celtic Knot figure. Still had 68 stitches. Good. I'm an expert at losing stitches.

Always mindful of making ends, edges and other things match, I carefully decreased - BY 12 STITCHES (yes, I counted) - on the first of the 6 garter row edging (to match the beginning 6 garter row edging).


I NOW HAVE 48 freaking stitches. Not 56. 48.

And the dadburned thing looks FINE! (other than being too freaking narrow thanks to my stitch number miscalculation.)

AND, I still have to make it wide enough so that it will BE a flippin' square. Do you know how UGLY adding side edgings to a 3-stitch (or any number-stitch) garter edge??? BUTT-ugly; that's how ugly :-(

::retires muttering::

I give up. I hate knitting. I'm going to take up stamp-collecting.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Mother's unendurable grief

My much-beloved cousin Sarah just lost her only son this past Saturday night in a crazy, horrible & totally unlikely traffic accident. No alcohol, no drugs, no reckless driving - on anyone's part. I haven't wanted to write about it, but I should, if only to acknowledge a Mother's terrible and unendurable grief. After my prayers, it is all I can do, and it is so very little.

My poor, sweet and kind Sarah is in total shock, and all I can tell her is "I'm so, so sorry and horrified. I love you!" I can hardly quit crying over it; yes, for HER sake; because my heart just goes 'thud' every time I think of what she and her husband are going through, as they buried their only son today at 1:00.

I can hardly stand to write or think about it, it's just so horrible. And no one can do a damned thing about it :-(

We have only 2 living children, ourselves, and I thank God every day that they are still with me. I cherish them more than I can begin to describe. But do I need to? You are parents, most of you. YOU know what it feels like to have your heart squeeze in love - and fear - for your children. I tell my kids that I love them ... every. single. day. I try to show it, too, with my actions, not just words (because talk's cheap, and kids intuitively know that). Because, one day, I might NOT be able to tell them - or show them - how much I love and appreciate them. They are more precious to me than my own life.

I would like to comment on what one poor mother said (to another grieving mother on another blog): that she "got angry" when someone told her that were sorry for her loss. That just blows me away. I wondered...what does she want people to say, instead? That they were GLAD at her loss? Of course not - she'd be justifiably horrified, hurt and outraged - and I don't know of anyone hateful enough to say something like that. I suspect there are those like that in the world, but *I* sure don't want to meet such foul, satanic monsters.

That poor, grieving mother has forgotten that most of us adults in this world ARE parents - and we have vivid imaginations. Oh, yes ...we can imagine -- far-too-easily -- the horror and grief we would feel if we lost one of our own beloved children!

Of COURSE we're "sorry" when we hear of another parent's loss! In fact, we are so horrified and devastated for that poor, bereaved parent, that we can hardly breathe. We're "sorry" because we're not God, so we can't do a damn thing about what happened. We're "sorry" that we don't have a magic wand to undo what happened. We're "sorry" because we KNOW that whatever words we say or actions we take will be cold comfort - at best. We know our hugs and helplessly-murmured whispers will mean nothing to the grieving parent, yet it would be worse - far worse - if we did not offer them at all.

We feel a cold, bony hand mercilessly squeeze our hearts when we hear of these things. Should such a thing happen to us, I know I would want to curl up and die of agonized grief, as would my husband. What an unspeakably HUGE hole in our hearts that loss would leave!

We know one of OUR babies could be 'the next'. :::shudder::: Oh, yes, we CAN 'understand' -- even if we have never lost a child. Any ordinary, normal, loving parent can't help but 'understand' - we have no choice but to understand, for the fear of our own possible loss is never far away; no, never.

We are, when all is said and done, not ever the 'masters of our fate', as some very silly people want to delude themselves into believing. We never will be in charge, either.

If you all would offer up a prayer for my poor Sarah & Simon - and for all grieving parents - it would be an act of Charity...and understanding.

Thank you!

A shocking and *OUTRAGEOUS* story

Wow. I think I've heard it all with this one. Do ya'll remember the photo I took of the bobbin half-full of "art-spun" kid mohair? The lovely multi-colored mohair from an angora goat named "Sierra"? It's on Nov 7th's blog-entry: "Yes, I really *have* been spinning".

I am so upset by what that poor goat's owner has written me. What but a sicko creep would do such a thing?? I received permission from her to post what happened to them and do what I could to 'advertise' their existence. They don't have a website, but I imagine they're much to busy to mess with one anyway.

Steve and Melissa are just now beginning to recover from this senseless and horrifying act of hatred, but...well, read on:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Connie,

Thank you for taking the time to look me up..yes we still sell mohair on ebay and on etsy. My user id for both is farmgirlchic. I'm glad you have some of Sierra's fleece and are able to use it. We lost Sierra in a terrible fire we had here at the farm back in March. We lost her and 15 other does and their newborn kids. They believe it was arson. There wasn't anything we could do, and we lost our 60x40 1890's bank barn and everything we had in it. Our horses, sheep and several bucks were spared.

We have been slowly rebuilding and now have a new larger barn and we are back up to 23 colored and white angora goats as well as more sheep. They become addictive...! I have started to sell the fleeces whole and raw as the time it takes to skirt and wash is very time consuming. I would love to be able to have more animals and explore other fibery projects. Right now I have two 2nd cut meaning they were sheared in June for the 1st time and then they were just sheared again last weekend white kid fleeces. They each weigh approx. 2lbs. We will have several 1st cut fleeces avialble next May, will know for sure how many after the kids start coming in January. Now, they are from pure white kids but the fleece is raw (unwashed) so therefore it will appear cream even beige in some parts because it hasn't been washed. Washing if you are unfamiliar with it is very simple and I provide printed directions with each fleece.
[snip]
Steve and Melissa Verill
Feathers and Fleece Farm
1215 Bridgeton Rd.
Airville, PA 17302
(717)862-9777
mlverill@aol.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I know I've been advised to "keep to myself" any good mohair sources and I understand why (and normally would, probably!); super-kid being almost impossible to come by, and rather expensive when you DO find it.

But not now...not in this instance. That insane act of injustice outrages me to the point that I'm still spitting in anger and horror. Those poor little goats! Poor Steve and Melissa! They're probably just barely making it as it is (like so many today) - and then to have some foul monster kill their animals and burn down their beautiful, historic barn, has left me in disbelief. Surely, no one could be so monstrous! But there are jackals like that, far more "animalistic" than the poor, innocent animals could ever be. Fortunately, there are still good people in this world, and they came forward in a beautiful way to help Steve and Melissa. She went on to write in her last email that:

"In fact many of our goat breeder friends gave us many of the goats we now have as replacement for the ones we lost." (May God bless those kind folks!) And...

"It's interesting that you asked about reserving some of May's clip as we are contemplating starting a fiber CSA where you would actually become a member of the farm and be able to share in the fiber bounty, such as having first choice of what is sheared. Will let you know more details. We estimate having at least 6 white kids born out of approx. 30 in January and February. I'll make sure you have a choice. [snip]

As I told you before we now have 23 goats with approx. 30 due to be born in the spring and then we also have 6 sheep (4 Border Leicester cross and two Babydoll). It has been interesting almost having to start over with our herd as well as all of the equipment that we use...tractors, buckets, feeders, tools fencing gates etc. as well as the barn. All have had to be replaced and unfortunately insurance didn't cover the half of it. We certainly don't mind you using our/my name as we appreciate the "advertising"! With the CSA we would also be encouraging people to participate in our farm with a website, blog. farm visits and help in naming the newborns...maybe something like being able to pick such and such's clip."

I only included some of her last email so this entry wouldn't be too long, but I think I've included all the pertinent details. I would love to be part of a CSA - what fun! It's too bad they live too far away for me to visit them (rats!), but still...it'd be fun to help name the darling babies and be able to get one of their adorable fleeces!

Here's their eBay store: Farmgirl Chic
and their Etsy store: Farmgirl Chic

ANYWAY - that's the story. An' Ah'm gonna get me a loverly baby fleece one day! Ha - I'll probably just end up stroking it rather than spinning it, knowing me :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LEST WE FORGET: In Grateful Remembrance

My Daddy, may God rest his soul, served as rear-gunner in a B-17E's suffocating belly ball-turret during WWII, in the Pacific arena. He would rarely speak of those horrible, frightening times. His was the only plane from his squadron to return. I and my sisters came so close to never being born.











My nephew, Austin, served as a re-fueler and returned last year from Iraq, in agonizing physical pain and under emotional stress that can hardly be described. And he was one of the "lucky" ones.
May God bless and heal all those who suffer,
especially those in faithful performance of their duty.
Amen!
LEST WE FORGET....

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
(1872-1918) Canadian Army

Monday, November 10, 2008

Knitting the Nupp: now we know...

how to make the thing (see video below) and pronounce it, too. I always thought it was pronounced "nuhp", but it's "noop"! That's phonetically spelled, folks; it's still spelled 'nupp'. So advises Nancy Bush, one of my knitting heroines. I've got her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia: Techniques, Patterns and Traditions, on order from Amazon. Unfortunately, the publication date has been pushed back by SEVERAL months (waaah!).

SO...Knitting Daily is offering the Estonian Lace Scarf as a free download (you gotta join, though!) and you can purchase the Estonian Triangular Summer shawl pattern ("Lily-of-the-Valley" - only 6 bucks!) published in the July/August 2008 Piecework magazine (which is also in the book).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I must be crazy...

to attempt typing anything today. I was up all night, 'til 7 this morning (insomnia). Hubby helpfully got me back up at 9:20 to go the Spinning Retreat Dawn was holding for her first students.

SO...I was supposed to get there at 10, with 2 passengers. Got there around 12 with NO passengers! How I managed to spin and talk at the same time is beyond me. Guess I can talk any time, though.

Neway, Rabeka and I left about 3:15 and went to Twist. Sat on the couch and drooled 'til Meems got off work at 4. I am soooo tired. And I can't even go to bed now, or I'll get up at 3 a.m.!

And poor Shelly sounds sooo sick. She sounds like a mouse, squeeking and whispering everything, poor girl. 'Tis the Season, I guess.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yes, I really *have* been spinning...

and to prove it, a few photos. None are completed projects as I'm always starting one thing, then another, then dropping those to go experiment with something else!

Speaking of experiments, I've got a really cool mohair single spun up as one of those totally hairy art yarns. I just HAD to see if I could do it. Don't know if I did it correctly, but I did it and *I* like it. The Angora goat (from Feathers and Fleece Farm - no website) was amazingly colored. There are, like, 5 or 6 colors (NOT shades..colors!) on this doe: white, cream, champagne, silver, medium grey, medium taupe - and several shadings of each one. GORGEOUS! I think this had to be yearling mohair, at least. Some of it was as soft as super-kid, even. You might have to click on the picture to enlarge it as not much detail can be seen, otherwise. I tried to take a good picture, I really did!











I have also done a bit of experimental spinning on four gorgeous silk hankies from The Yarn Yard in the UK, hand-dyed in glorious Autumn colors. There isn't much done yet, and my spinning is just terrible (I've NO idea what I'm doing when it comes to silk hankies and caps) and, of course, my photog "skills" are just total crap, but...in person this stuff just glows (literally). I think it would be very hard to ruin silk, regardless of how badly it was spun (or is that just wishful thinking?).











Lastly, I've got 2 full bobbins-worth of a spongy, down-like roving from "Shadow", a ram (wether?) on Nancy's farm, Naked Pines Ranch. I can't believe it, but I've forgotten what his breed is! It's white with lots of black fibers running through it, and my sis thinks I ought to make it a 3-ply. I've tons of it, so I guess I'll be spinning just about forever on it! Hope Nancy's got more, though - I really like this stuff :-)

I want one, too!

Oh, these wheels are sooo COOL! I found them on Pocket Wheels by Doug. They would be perfect for lugging around with you, pretty much wherever you went! I wonder how they spin? And can you see the size of that orifice and bobbin? Now, THIS might make a very nice 'art yarn' spinner!

You can spin with *anything* when...

you're desperate. Or can't find your spindle. Observe, mes enfants:












See? I rest my case. You can spin with anything!

What possessed me to spin with that, you ask? Well, I saw this fluff of pink stuff on the table. Seeing how the table is loaded with knitting and spinning crap (we usually have to eat elsewhere), I thought, "maybe I ought to start thinking of clearing it off." So...I picked up that pathetic 6" chunk of roving. Shut up. It was a start. Then, a chewed-up pencil caught my eye. I tied the fluff onto the middle of the pencil and gave the pencil a whirl. Wibble-wobble. Stuff slid all over the length of pencil. Wondered what I had that could stabilize it some. Nothing on the table. Wandered over to the 'frig and found that old baby carrot just sitting there. No way was it going to get eaten. Stuck it on the end of pencil (which actually had a point. NO pencil around here has a point - they're all perpetually broken off.) and there I went. Even self-plied it using the carrot-pencil spindle.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Daily Knitting's Eunny Jang...new video!

Well, once again, I'm posting far too late to for my own good, but I just had to share the new video by Knitting Daily, of Provisional Cast Ons by Eunny Jang. GREAT video, and absolutely everyone should know how to provisionally cast on! It's easy, it's fun, like most of knitting is. Yes, I know - and have done - the 3 basic versions she gives us in the video, and several variations, but I sure don't mind having an occasional reminder of how to do it; especially the one using the cable needle. I am ALWAYS getting that one messed up, with the loops going every which way but the right one.



Oh ... I forgot! YES! I voted! Always have, in every election unless I'm totally sick. I knew I'd accomplished something today, but I'm so freaking tired, I couldn't remember! That's plumb scary, having Senior Moments long before the age of 65. Ugh!

Today was also our 20th Anniversary :-) Strange - I don't remember it EVER falling on Election Day before?!? I'm sure it must've, though... Yet another Senior Moment...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ugh...groan

Well, like Meems, my day could have been titled:

"Let's See How Little Can Be Accomplished Today."

Answer: Not a DAD-GUM thang!

It was a nasty, yucky day, even with the glorious-weather-that-I-didn't-get-to-enjoy. I felt rotten all day long & so did Dave and Meems. I never even got out of my pajamas. I need a shower. ::sigh:: I don't care - I'm too tired to get one. I'm almost too tired to type. But I will, because I haven't posted in days! I've hardly spun, so busy I've been with doing other things this week. I need a spinning fix...and I'm too tired to even do that! This is really bad.

Gosh, and yesterday, the whole day was so great! The cup/cozy exchange at Cafe Moderne was a total blast. What-the-heck-happened to today, eh???

Anyway, there were about 12 people there (10 exchangers and 2 buddies). I got my own sister's cup! Hoo-rah! I'd been coveting it since she showed it to me, wishing and wishing I could just steal it from her. Then she'd have to go buy another cup in a hurry! ☺. Naw, just kidding. I was determined to be brave AND kind to the turk knitter who got her special cup. Now I ask you? Just how likely was it, that I'd pick the number of the bag holding her cup?? I mean, it was a 'blind pick' - couldn't see what slip of paper I was picking up, so...?!? WHOOT! It's a huge thing, this cup/mug. AND totally cool Retro! Yes, yes - I'll get you a pic. Unless you like Retro stuff, you'll probably think I should have my head examined, but then...I might think the same about you - for not liking it. So there.

Come to think of it, though: I DID accomplish something; I finished the Quilt block for Jan! No, no pics. I'm too lazy to even think of trudging around looking for my camera. Solly.

So...end o' post. I'm too tired to write anything else. G'nite, all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Harlot's Request

The Harlot sez: (in this post)

PS. While I was in Jacksonville I met a knitter named Renee doing her thesis on knitting. (I bet some of you who were there remember her.) She needs volunteers to fill in her survey so that she can validate her theories. If you have a minute, can I ask you to help her out here? It's interesting work, and good for all of us.
The reason I had to copy part of her post, rather than just paste in a link, is because I've already taken the poll and - apparently - you can't go back to the link and get to the first page of the poll in order to copy the link! Weird, but whatever... Anyway - the poll was fun and I urge everyone to help out a fellow knitter and go take it!

In the meantime, I've been working away on my carder, still fluffing up the 50/50 silk/merino laps I got from Leah at Yarn Or A Tale. I've also been adding a bit of glitz and glam, and more silk noils. So far, it looks great, even if it is blue (and I don't even like blue usually), and I've named the whole shebang "Winter's Day". I wish the top layer showed up better - it looks kind of 'nothing' in the photo, but it's a very pale, pale blue. The next 2 layers are grey, and the bottom 2 are medium blue and bright blue. I still have to card up a plain white batt - wish I could find a brilliant true-white for this particular color mix. I'm afraid that a 'natural' white will just end up looking yellowed next to these clear, cool blues and greys. Any suggestions? Anybody? And don't say bombyx - I can't afford that (don't I just wish!). I also wish the opal, silver and blue Angelina fibers had shown up, but those are very hard to photograph. Oh, well. I tried. You guys know what a rotten photog I am.

Funny, isn't it, how one's color likes and dislikes can change drastically after you start working with fiber? I still can't wear blue, grey, purple or black (they make me look like I should've been buried yesterday), but I kind of like working with them. It's nice to not 'hate' certain colors - I was never easy with 'hating' colors as color has been such a huge part of my World Perception ever since early childhood. Color really can affect my mood (big time!), so it has been so freeing to quit 'hating' colors merely because I don't look very good in them.

I don't know yet whether I'll be keeping it to make up or just sell the batts on Etsy. It's a great honkin' wad, whatever I do with it. I soooo want to spin it up, but... there's something else I want even more. It's this and I need to save up (a lot!) to get it.

I've also been playing a bit, finishing up some left-over stuff from the bobbins. I made my FIRST cabled yarn - and it's gorgeous! I made it from the tiny leftover ball of Z-spun singles I used to ply up for my Morning Surf Scarf (Finn top). It was so totally blah, I just about threw it away. Instead, a lightbulb came on and I thought: I've never made a cabled yarn - let's see what one looks like! I knew the original 2-ply was supposed to be really tight (and this was waaaay too loose), so I ran it back through (again, S-plying) onto another bobbin. Then, putting that tightly-plied 2-ply into a center-pull ball, I then re-plied it onto itself (Z-twist). Et voila! A gorgeous 4-strand cable yarn! I had NO idea it would look so lovely! The colors, rather than barber-poling (which usually doesn't look so wonderful), it becomes beautifully speckled and streaked - almost 'tweedy'. I never really liked cabled yarns before. I think I've found a new love ☺
Wanna see 'my first yarn'? It's in the photo, next to the cabled beauty. Actually the plain white strand was my first single I ever spun, and I later plied it with my 2nd-ever single, made from a colorful batt provided by my first spinning teacher, Dawn Jones of Custer Cottage! Dawn is a dear-heart and so very, very generous and kind.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

As if one ache wasn't enough...

I decided to add to 'em. Friday, a pile of us went on the Central Kansas yarn crawl (okay - HOP, but I think 'crawl' sounds more fun). Twelve hours later (a la Sponge Bob) we dragged our exhausted selves home after having had WAY too much fun, coffee and yarn! I hurt everywhere. My hair hurts. Even my Achilles tendons hurt - and I hardly walked anywhere! So typical of me.

We only managed to hit 6 of the 8 shops. Seems the yarn shops don't stay open 'til 8 or 9 p.m. like the quilt shops do during a 'shop hop'. Oh, well. Next year, we'll do better! I might even manage to get photos of each place we stop.

I was SO organized that I even remembered to charge up my camera batteries the night before. Loaded up camera with said new, freshly-charged batteries. Placed camera in knitting bag. Put bag in sister's van. Forgot to take photos of ANY place we stopped. ::sigh:: I guess I was too eager to inhale wool fumes. Didn't get much knitting done, either, I was so busy flapping my gums...

Anyway - dd and I had to go to the last 2 shops on the list (The Beadery and Heritage Hut). Yes, The Beadery has yarn! It's half lovely yarn shop and half bewitching bead shop! We had a great time making our own shawl pins at the Beadery, and snatched up a few BOGO yarn balls. SCORE! It was VERY difficult to get Meem's out of that shop (read: I dragged her out by the hair) and we had to go.

We toddled back to home turf (just b-a-r-e-l-y in time) and had a wonderful visit with Mary. We had a lot to catch up on as it's been ages since I've seen her. She's even got a new Irish Wolfhound pup! Her name is Maggie and we'll be going back to meet her - hopefully this week. Mary says Maggie works the Tuesday-Saturday schedule (lol), but she's still a silly pup who thinks every yarn ball is a toy. ha! I'll bet! Heck, our 2 Britt fosters think the same thing! Mary has to keep her behind a baby gate (that she could probably step over if she just thought about it), but one day she'll be trusted to 'work the floor' like a regular employee :-).

Well, it's way past my bedtime, and what-the-heck-am-I-still-doing-up??? G'night all - 'see' you soon. Will post photos of newest spinning stuff when I get a chance to breathe!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ohhhh...my aching everything

This is what happens when you get 'old': everything hurts when you use it even slightly too much. I ache all over. Even my poor head is pounding this morning - an unusual thing for me: I rarely (used to be never) have headaches. Strenuous activity is something I rarely (read: simply never) indulge in - for several simple reasons: I'm 'getting too old for this', I'm inherently lazy and I'm totally uninterested in exerting myself unless it has to do with spinning or knitting. I'm freaking tired, for Pete's sake.

This Family Unit's teenage Son decided to remove the paneling from his bedroom yesterday. With mom's help, of course. Yes, we should've done it years ago - but I sinply HATE decorating or re-doing anything, so of course it never got done. Son got tired of it - decided he wanted a room not decorated in the 60's (literally) like the rest of our house (no, I'm not kidding - it's hideous). So his Lucky Mommy is privileged to help. ::sigh::

Do you know what was UNDER that ugly paneling?? Freakin' PINK 60's living room/dining room wallpaper! The former owners of this house were too freakin' lazy to strip it (even *I* would have done that before I sold!), so they just threw up a very bad paneling job (you wouldn't believe how amateurish it was) to cover it up.

Thousands of pulled nails later...I ache. Every muscle, every joint, every square inch of skin hurts. I could hardly get to sleep last night because my legs ached so badly and the muscles kept twitching uncontrollably. UGH!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Okay...this is scary (semi)

All I did was innocently take this for-fun test while minding my own business. I'm not sure how pleased I am at being pegged so accurately. harrumph

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...,

Concientious, Fulfilled, and Spiritual

9 Renaissance, 4 Islamic, 2 Ukiyo-e, -22 Cubist, -18 Abstract and 5 Impressionist!

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence affected literature, philosopy, religion, art, politics, science, and all other aspects of intellectual enquiry. Renaissance artists looked at the human aspect of life in their art. They did not reject religion but tended to look at it in it's purest form to create visions they thought depicted the ideals of religion. Painters of this time had their own style and created works based on morality, religion, and human nature. Many of the paintings depicted what they believed to be the corrupt nature of man.

People that like Renaissance paintings like things that are more challenging. ['more challenging' than what, for Pete's sake???]

They tend to have a high emotional stability. [Ha! They haven't seen me in the morning before I have my coffee, have they?]

They also tend to be more concientious then average. They have a basic understanding of human nature and therefore are not easily surprised by anything that people may do. [well, DUH. NOTHING surprises me anymore, except the exceedingly rare not-so-Random Acts of Kindness]

They enjoy life and enjoy living. [Well, who doesn't? Life is GOOD! even when it's awful, it's good!]

They are very aware of their own mortality but do not dwell on the end but what they are doing in the present. [Yeah, well. I ain't stupid enough to ignore it, either.]

They enjoy learning, but may tend to be a bit more closed minded to new ideas as they feel that the viewpoint they have has been well researched and considered. ["Close-minded", my ass! If we reject some dumb-ass idea, that makes us "close-minded"?!? Just on their say-so, eh? HA! Well, maybe it makes us smarter than the hoo-haw idiots who fall for any new idea that comes within their small-minded purview? This willingness to be "close-minded" is more accurately called having/developing Critical Thinking Skills; which skill does widen - and inform - the mind of the following: Truth vs. Dumbshit Ideas, And The Difference Thereof. Something an appalling number of people have never learned.]

These people are more old fashioned and not quite as progressive. [You mean, not quite as stupidly self-destructive, perhaps? You mean, perhaps, that 'these people' stick to things/ideas that actually work and have the virtue of making sense? 'magine that! helluva concept, what?]

They enjoy the finer things in life like comfort, a good meal, and homelife. They tend to be more spiritual or religious by nature. [It's called BEING GRATEFUL for everything we have - another wildly novel concept for ever-so-many people nowadays.]

Yeah, yeah, I know. I grumble a lot - mostly to hear myself talk, but truly...I am, perhaps [and-when-all-is-said-and-done], the happiest woman there is. Even when I'm not happy...there's that part of me that is always, always happy. I am sooo grateful for that, too!

They are open to new aesthetic experiences.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at

The bumpies and noils of it all

What a wonderful two days I've had, to be sure. I haven't had two nice days in a row in...um. I'm not sure when. There's even going to be BIRTHDAY CAKE later today - lol. I'm sure the Birthday Boy will share with his wife and kiddos.

Anyway, about the yarn. I'd gotten some buttery-soft 50%-50% Merino and silk laps/clouds - in greens, turquoise, white and purple - from Leah of Yarn Or A Tale and ran it through my carder last week. I put each batt through twice on the carder; in retrospect, one time through would have probably been better, as the colors got a bit too homogenized for my liking. It's still beautiful, though, with plenty of color separation. I love this yarn (heartbreakingly soft!) and wish it would tell me what it wanted to be. I've only got *180+ yards of it, though, so it can't get any fancy-pants ideas of being a sweater. I know - too bad - it would be a glorious sweater!

* I re-measured and missed a few yards, so it's actually 190 yds. Still...it isn't much to work with.

I've got more of the same laps in a white, silvery-greys and blues mix named (appropriately enough) 'Cloud Cover'. It's just lovely, but THIS time, I'm only going to put it through the carder once. I've also now got some lovely Angelina fibers in to put with it. I think I'll the use silver and opal - it should be gorgeous!

It's too bad my idiotic camera thinks that greens are always blues, but I tried really hard to MAKE it see green as being green. I don't know if you have to do something to adjust the camera, or what? Anyway, I didn't succeed, even though I took over 40 pics. I took them in every type of light imaginable, with and without flash. Either the skein showed blue or was totally washed out and looked nearly white. ::sigh:: Oh, well! Just imagine my new yarn as being true GREEN (a medium-bright, silvery green!) with silky noils and texture-y bumps of blue, purple, green and white. It's really very pretty, if I say so myself.

Since I wasn't happy with ANY of the companion singles I spun up (mostly white), I decided to just self-ply it and I'm glad I did - it looks very, very nice. I still don't get why Blogger keeps turning some of my photos to 'portrait', rather than keeping them the way I took them: sideways! Do you see how turquoise-y blue the singles look on the bobbins? That doesn't even begin to look like the real color. In fact, there's not that much turquoise IN the yarn and all the purple is just washed-out. However, at least you can see the noils and bumpies, which is why I kept the stupid picture.

Dye Day...in which I score another...

Babe wheel! Yessiree, I truly lucked out yesterday, and I'll tell you all about it in a minute. But first! Our local Guild was holding a Dye Day (thank you, Marnie, for hosting us!), where we used mostly natural dyes. I'd never used them before so that was a great learning opportunity for me. My 2nd spinning teacher, Nancy Squire, told me a lot about indigo dyeing and supervised that dye pot. Good thing, because goodness knows what we'd have ended up with if she hadn't!

You have to be picky about how the brew (broth?) looks before you start dyeing with it, and it's got to have the 'mother' floating on the top, plus the brew itself needs to be pea-green. That 'mother' thing is a kind of molten coppery-looking stuff that floats on top. It's actually rather pretty, but I guess that's one of the ways the dyer can tell that the brew is ready.

When actually dyeing, you have to be verrrrry careful to let NO oxygen get down into the brew. That means NO splashing, no dunking stuff - or hands - right into the middle of the pot, no yanking out of fiber (or hands) - nothing like that is allowed! You have to s-l-i-d-e your fiber/yarn - and hands - into the brew against the side of the pot. Then, you carefully push your stuff to the bottom of the pot (even with gloves, it was hot!), and pull it out against the side, being careful not to let the excess dye simple drip back into the pot. Even the drips had to s-l-i-d-e down the sides to minimize the amount of oxygen being introduced into the brew.

I was so fascinated by how indigo works; it's cool watching one's yarns and fibers go from a really pretty green to a beautiful blue, all through the 'magic' of oxidation. Yeah - you read that right: the color rusted: from green to blue! One thinks of metals as being the only things that oxidize, but not so.

Do you know how many dips it takes to get dark indigo??? GOBS! I was able to dip some of my fiber up to 4 times, and it is NO WHERE near as dark as I'd have liked. You have to wait at least 20 minutes between dippings for wool, and 30 for cotton, so it just about took forever. But that's okay - the color is still gorgeous and I'll be pleased to use it just as it is. I now have a great respect for those patient, dedicated indigo dyers.

We also got to use madder (supposed to be red) and cochineal (turned out screaming fuschia). I got to grind up the little dried red bugs to make the cochineal. It wasn't gross, though. They didn't really even look like bugs. At least I couldn't tell they were bugs. Anyway, I dyed some pretty, light grey Shetland in all 3 colors. The cochineal hardly 'took' at all (I guess we needed more bugs!), the madder turned an incredible, bright solid PURPLE! and the indigo looks really, really nice. The 4th dipping made all the difference, as it's now a fairly darkish blue. My Lincoln locks are a glorious mid-blue - just beautiful! The Cormo roving is a disappointingly pale blue, but I only got to dip it 3 times. Oh, well. They sent me home with a jug of indigo so I could do more dyeing with it - if I dare! We'll see :-)

Et maintenant... le piece de resistance: a brand-new Babe Fiber Starter with double treadle! For only $75! I have been really, really wanting another wheel, both for the kids to learn on and so I could do more than one type of project at a time, if need be. Prayers have been answered!

On a very sadder note, though, I received my new wheel only because of the passing of another spinner - and that makes me feel bad. I will do my best to do right by her wheel. Her kids were stuck (as most kids are) with dealing with their mother's personal belongings. A son apparently knew one of our spinners and sent all his mom's spinning and weaving things with April, to see if she could sell them for the sibs.

This Babe wheel had been opened, but apparently never used - at least, it was still in its' opened box, receipt and all, in pieces. It works very well, too! I also purchased two of her sets of hand carders: one wool, one cotton/fur, for an excellent price.

THEN, I got to follow April home so I could Get More Fiber (like I actually 'needed' more?). Specifically, I needed silk noils and some kid mohair. I guess I'm kind of silly for thinking I know what I'm doing, but still...I have some ideas floating around in my head for some batts I want to create. In my mind, they are lovely. We'll see what the reality turns out to be :-) So, all-in-all, my day overflowed with simple joy and much pleasure!

To top it all off...today is hubby's birthday (Happy Birthday, honey!) Love you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Morning Surf Scarf

Okay, so I finally located the camera. It was buried under a bunch of junk on the dining table :-/ No, I haven't seen the surface in awhile. The camera was about half-way down through the rubble layer...

I sure wish I knew how to take really good pictures. Because I don't, you can't see the really pretty color gradations in the yarn. There's a heart-breakingly beautiful Montana blue in there, shading from light to dark. I usually don't like blue, but I love this blue. I kept wishing there was a lot of more of it, but mostly I have greens and purples - and they're pretty, too.

Anyway, this scarf was fun to make - and oh, so easy! I used a triple-twist cast-on, which gives a picot-like edge that is very stretchy. Perhaps too stretchy, but that's okay. I haven't blocked it yet, so I'll do that to straighten out the edges.

What's that cast-on, you ask? Oh - well, all you do is make a regular slip knot, leaving a small tail. Then, holding your needle in your left hand, twist the ball yarn 2 or 3 times around your index finger and mount the loop of yarn (over your finger) onto the needle! For a double twist, it's no problem to pull the yarn evenly and tightly. Unfortunately, this Finn really stuck to itself. As I was using a 3-twist loop cast-on, I had to pull very carefully to keep the twists from 'jumping over' each other and making a mess instead of a cute 'picot' bump. But, the extra bit of effort was worth it.

I then used a simple 2-stitch picot cast-off, which matched close enough, imo. I could have done a sewn bind-off - which I usually love doing - and just knotted the yarn around each stitch being cast-off, but I got lazy and eager to wear the thing! Oh, well. It's just a scarf, and it's not like I'm going to enter it into the County Fair or anything.

I really, really like this scarf! As I was finishing it, it occurred to me that I had never made anything for myself with my handspun yarns! I've hardly made anything with my own yarns, come to think of it. A hat for hubby, is all - I think. Most every yarn I've ever made, I sold or gave as gifts.

Jus' checkin' in

Do you realize Christmas is nearly here??? Augh! What with all this fabulously warm weather we've been having for endless weeks (I'm not complaining!), it never occurred to me that I only have a bare few weeks to get some spinning and knitting done! ~whimper~

SO. I've been knitting up that gloriously-soft BFL yarn I made from the New York colorway (Miss Babs) into socks for my teenaged son. His feet sure are bigger than they were last year! Good thing I'm using a 47" needle - I'm gonna need it for the heels!

AND...I finished my Morning Surf Scarf - it's GORGEOUS! No, I haven't got a photo yet. You'll just have to wait. I've been much too busy spinning and knitting to even think of locating my camera. Besides. I sort of don't know where it is. And the ends aren't sewn in. Yet.

Hoo boy. I sure hope I don't pull a Yarn Harlot this Christmas season. You know - the closer it gets to the 'finish line', the later I will have to stay up. Then, before you know it, I'll be knitting a gift at 5 a.m. on Christmas Day. ::groan:: I don't think I'd live through it. The older I gits, the behinder I gits...in everything!

Monday, October 13, 2008

::cackle::

Okay - I'm probably the last person on Earth to "discover" this Franklin Habit guy, but at least I did find him. He's a screech! Here's his blog, "The Panopticon". I'm, like, hooked...

Gotta see if Shel's carrying his "It Itches" book yet.

Where's the spinning or knitting content, you ask? Well, geewhiz!...we've been really busy this week! Okay, I'm nearly done with my Really Big Scarf (Morning Surf). I started with 392 +/- yards of my Hyacinth handspun, you know, but I made this thing a wee bit wide I suppose. SO...46 stitches may've been one design repeat (10 +6) too many. Should'a gone with 36 after all. But that's okay! It should still be long enough to tie around my throat and have decent tails left over. I hope. I'm not quite done and I am NOT going to take another pic of it 'til it's actually done.

As for the spinning, I've been messing around with some stuff I'd started ages ago and got bored with. After working with it last night for 10 minutes, I realized I was still bored with it :-( HOKAY. SO...I started on something else. A light pink bit of top - and THAT was deadly dull. I don't know what's wrong with me today. Maybe it's just not a Spinning Day for me. I don't know that that's ever happened before! Kinda scary...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My deepest dream (a paeon to spinning)...

in my own little Fantasie Worlde is to be a...

Master Spinner.

(can you hear the harps and Angelic choir in the background?)

I can't believe how badly I want it. I want to learn everything there is to learn about spinning, about texture, about color, about...well, Everything Spinning! I would give SO much to be able to go to SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) and take all those wonderful, awesome Workshops and Retreat Sessions, given by wonderful, awesome teachers! I'd be in 7th Heaven; I really would.

That would be by way of learning mostly Specialty Stuff in Spinning, with my "meat" being able to go to the Ontario Handweavers & Spinners (it's a Spinning Certificate Program) for the yearly almost-2-week Summer sessions. It can take 6 years to get through it all, with there being spinning assignments (O Heaven!) the rest of the year. A DREAM, to me!

What would I do with all that knowledge? LOVE IT! USE IT! TEACH IT! I would teach others to love the whole process of spinning yarns; to love the feel of all different sorts of fibers slipping through their fingers; to love yarns for their own sake; to love the end-use of their yarns, whether for knitting, weaving, crocheting, fiber art...whatever!

I would wish for my students to find what I have found: a lovely, peaceful, soul-soothing and actively creative process - very important, that. Some like to describe spinning as the 'new zen', the 'new yoga' (naw), or as being 'better than Prozac' (that's my favorite - lol), BUT...it's ever so much more than either of those things. Sooo much more.

Spinning is certainly soothing. Peaceful. Quieting to the soul. Harmonious and centering, very balancing. At times, far better than a mere chemical anti-depressant.

But what removes it from the realm of the merely peaceful and soothing, (not that those should be denigrated)? After all, wine and a warm bath can achieve that, as well. So...'what' is it? Two words (okay, 3):

(the) CREATIVE PROCESS!

The Creative Process does ... something ... for people who indulge in it. For me, it feeds my soul, releases anxieties, gets me 'outside' myself and into something more interesting than my bummed self. It 'grows' me, somehow. Don't ask - I can't figger it out, either. It just does. I feel as if I can b-r-e-a-t-h-e, move and think more easily. And - if my powers of observation are anywhere near accurate, I've noticed that it seems to do the same for others. When people are creating - no matter what it is - they are...happier...easier. More comfortable in their own skins, maybe.

SO...if at any time, someone can use the creative process to off-set (or even prevent?) depression from getting a toe-hold, or becoming worse - they should immerse themselves! Heck, even if they aren't depressed, dive in anyway!

Well, that's all the time I have for musings. I need to go do some more Creative Processing Stuff. Like...finishing my Morning Surf Scarf! LOL I'm almost half-done, and I'm really loving the...er, 'creative process', so I want to get back to it for awhile before I pick up the Dear Daughter Family Unit from work.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Morning Surf Scarf

is about 1/4th done! I got the pattern from the Summer '08 Spin-Off magazine. The designer is Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer of Heart Strings Fiber Arts. I didn't realize it, but she offers the same pattern for free if you sign up for her HeartStrings Knitterly News email newsletter! She has GREAT patterns! One day...I will own them all. LOL Anyway, here's my progress so far, fuzzy shots and all:










I started it last night, using sz 7's, but decided I wanted a slightly tighter knit, so frogged and went down to a six. Went to bed late and was awakened at 2:50 a.m. by *someone* dinging the doorbell! Scared the dickens out of dd and I, while the MENFOLK snored their oblivious heads off. I made hubby get out of bed and "do something!" We figure it was probably some real jerk teenagers who live in the area. Little nerd-heads.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I was wrong. So what else...

is new about that? After I washed and dried the Finn hyacinth skein, it puffed out a LOT and now it's actually DK weight...or maybe a bit heavier! Woo-hoo! I am sooo pleased with myself!

Naturally, I didn't full the skein as I'd spun it true worsted, but apparently the Finn hadn't heard, so it puffed out almost as much as if I'd spun it woolen! Not *quite*, but still - OH, so soft and cushy!

Finn top c'est finis!











Remember the hand-dyed Finn top in the "Hyacinth" colorway from Laughing Rat Studios (Jenn)? I didn't ask her if I could use her photo of the unspun top, so the link only goes to what I'd done up on my own bobbin. That's what I get for not taking pics before spinning! Well, here it is, all 390+ yards spun up. I was trying to spin 2 thicker singles to get a light worsted weight. Unfortunately, it's more like heavy sock yarn, dang it. I want to make the Morning Surf Scarf from Spin-Off magazine. Sure hope there's enough yarn, b'c I haven't got a clue how much it calls for! I don't want some skinny, wimpy thing that only looks decorative. It's gotta at least be semi-warm!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A whole pound of frabjous fun!

Heh heh. Aren't you jealous? I'm getting a whole POUND of this glorious (do I really use that word too much?) fiber blend from Leah of Yarn or A Tale! She's letting me use her photo (hers are far better than mine) -- thank you so much, Leah!

As can be seen, it is a pale fawn (in case your monitor's color tracking has gone nuts) 80% Suri Alpaca/20% Merino blend. O Heaven! Total luxury! A WHOLE POUND of it is on its way...to ME! Oh, joyful day when It arrives!

Monday, October 6, 2008

My almost-done Noro socks

Wow. I can't believe it's been 4 days since I posted! Guess I've been busier than I thought. I haven't got much spinning done (when do I ever??), but at least I found time to nearly finish these Noro socks that've been on my needles since early this Summer. I'm knitting from both ends of the ball, so I'll have 'fraternal twin' socks, rather than the color-matched ones I don't much care for. After all, if I started with the same color for both socks, not all the colors would show and that would be sad! These socks will make me visible from at least a mile and a half away, don't you think?

In case anyone wonders, I just "plugged-in" the lovely-but-simple "Crosshatch Lace" design from one of Barbara Walker's Stitch Dictionary Treasure books. Book 2...I think. No, I'm not going to go look for you. Sorry - feeling grumpy and out-of-sorts today. Must be the grungy, rainy, cloudy, icky weather. I really like this stitch design - it is so easily memorized. As it's only a 6-stitch/8-row repeat it can be used for nearly any number of stitches needed for nearly anything. Thing is...it's best used in-the-round only, because there are no 'plain' rows/rounds between each 'design' round. That is, unless you're willing to turn your knitting hand around almost backwards in a purl-two-together-through-the-backloop in order to achieve the left-leaning decrease on the front. YUCK - I absolutely hate doing that stupid stitch! I will leap through hoops and avoid gorgeous stitch patterns just to avoid making that horrible, unnatural and rather painful movement.

I've been meaning to fiddle with the stitch pattern to see what it would look like with plain rounds/rows between each design round. Bet a million other knitters have done the same :-). It would be extremely easy to re-design the pattern to make it wider and taller, for larger items, such as sweaters and scarves, too. Problem is, most of those aren't knitted in the round!

I'll knit a few more rounds, then use a sewn bind-off for 2x2 ribbing to keep the edge super-stretchy, without it looking all stretched-out. I love, love, love this bind-off and find all sorts of excuses to use it :-) This'll be a short post, however (and aren't you grateful!), as we've got so much to do today. I have a dog with possible tumors on his fuzzy tummy, and I'm pretty worried about that. So, we're going to see the vetty-girl this afternoon.