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 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.
Steve and Melissa Verill
Feathers and Fleece Farm
1215 Bridgeton Rd.
Airville, PA 17302
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'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.

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, 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 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


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.