Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cat Hosting??

So. Right. About the cat. Since I don't have any fantastic knitting or spinning to tell you about, I'll give you the long version----if you're here just for the fiber fables, I won't be offended if you skip down to New Word Wednesday, go ahead. About 15 years ago, my husband, who grew up in a home without pets and only tolerated the dog, volunteered to keep a colleagues cat while they moved, and then put said kitty on a plane (to of all places Colorado; we were in Ohio at that time). We had never had a cat, weren't overly fond on cats---the way they get on everything, leave hair wherever they go and are so aloof. For three weeks Shadow lived with us, got along with the dog and, well, I got rather attached to him. While Brad was at the airport, sending Shadow to his family, I was at the pound. I brought home another black cat we called Mocha. Mocha was great, except for the way she would attack me as I walked to the bathroom in the night. Not cool. So Mocha went back to the pound and we brought home a giant cat we called Mo (cuz we got mo cat fo da money). Mo was big and lazy and couldn't seem to find the litter box. So. Not. Cool. Back went Mo. After that we got another black kitty, we called him Licorice, and for quite a while he lived with us. He was the indoor/outdoor kind of cat, he loved to hang out with Sunshine from across the street. Together they would hunt birds and rabbits and such. Sunny would come over a meow at the door for Licorice to come out and play.....I'd never seen such a thing. Once, he was gone for days, and we really were getting worried. We were at the pound looking for him when a fella came up and started telling a story about a cat that was caught in his tree, and had been there for days. At the base of the tree was a kennel with a couple big dogs, the poor cat was scared to death. It was our Licorice. Once out of the tree, he stuck pretty close to home, but soon wanderlust got to him and he ventured out. After redeeming him from the pound a couple times, we decided he had to stay in...the next fine would be $100. Needless to say, Licorice did not like this one bit, and demonstrated his feelings by adding a pungent odor to our newly finished basement. Hubby said he had to go. The kids (and I) were heartbroken, but agreed as long as we could get another kitty, a female, to which he agreed. At the pound we held every kitten in the room, knowing by now that each critter has it's own personality. We had decided to get two, to keep each other company, and after quite a while settled on a orange shorthair and her orange and white littermate. We told the attendant what we wanted and the kittens were checked out; the orange one could be adopted but the other had a fever and could not go home with us that day. After a bit of pouting, we decided to take just the one. On the way home, we decided to call her Peaches, and we had her for almost 10 years. She came with us to Colorado, and we would have her still, but the last move was suppose to be to England (another long, long story) and I gave her to a cat loving colleague for safekeeping. We have now been without a cat for 3 and a half years. We have new furniture. We still have two dogs. We don't need a kitty. Yesterday morning, early, the phone rang and it was dear hubby. "I just did something unselfish, but it will require you to be unselfish too." Crap, thinks I. I kinda like bein' selfish these days. "What did you do??" I say. And he tells me this story about our longtime friend's son, who is very attached to his cat, who can't keep him right now (he's about to enter a year long discipleship program at their church and will be living with a host family) and the rest of the family is moving to DC, and, well, he volunteered to keep the cat, until Ben can reclaim him. And so, our household has a new member, however temporary. His name is Zorro. For the time being he is in the basement---I thought it would be best to give him a few days to get used to his new world before an official 'meet and greet' with his furry room mates. I did take the camera downstairs so you could see what the guy looks like, but he is hiding. Didn't even hear him. Perhaps later. New Word Wednesday: today's word is lucuna which is noun that means 1: a blank space or missing part: gap 2: a small cavity, pit, or discontinuity in an anatomical structure. Here's what Webster says about lacuna:

Exploring the etymology of "lacuna" involves taking a backward leap into lacus, the Latin word for "lake." Latin-speakers modified lacus into lacuna and used that noun to mean "pit," "cleft," or "pool." English-speakers borrowed the term in the 17th century. Another English descendant of lacuna, is "lagoon," a word for a shallow body of water, which came to us by way of Italian and French.
Who can come up with fiber/knitting related sentence using this word???

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tuesday...already??

I hope all of you had a great holiday weekend. Things were busy here at Black Sheep Central; I've got loads of pictures and stories and knitting news, and.....and.....well let's start here:

Saturday, KWA held a puppy party---knit meet with our doggies. At one point we had nearly a dozen dogs running around MJ's back yard. For the most part everyone played nice. Anti brought doggie jello shooters (too funny), there were tons of goodies for the human people, and a good time was had by all. Some of us got knitting done--I managed to finish up the moebius basket, and get the buttons on the cardi. Others were, um....

....occupied. Sunday, after church, Brad and I took in Territory Days; the annual street festival in Old Colorado City. Live music, 'fair' food and several blocks of vendors filled the historic district. It always amazes me what people are selling, and folks are lining up to buy. My favorite for this year was a fella selling doggie hats. Yep. Hats. For. Dogs. Here is a picture of his top salesman. Monday, the Knitter's With Altitude scheduled a bonus meet, and I ambled in about 10 a.m. to knitting in progress. Christy was fresh back from the Pagosa Springs Fiber Festival, and brought goodies---cinnamon brown Alpaca, that she shared with me! She also bought a loom, and had brought her first attempt at weaving to show off. All this talk of fiber and yarn and everything that goes along with it has made us all very anxious for the Estes Park Market. I think it's fair to say that the more excited I get, the more worried my poor hubby gets. (I am going to have to come up with a better wool containment system, that's all there is to it). MJ had her latest pair of socks done.... ......I believe this is some of the yarn she dyed at KWA Dye Day a few weeks ago. Pretty, no? The weekend was not ALL sunshine on roses. Saturday night I cast on my sock for the Trek-along.....at least three times. I finally gave up and just focused on the movie I was watching (Munich...which was very good). Sunday afternoon I cast on again, in good light in the quiet, and what I discovered was that I hadn't been making the same mistake over and over the night before, but actually because of the number of stitches on my needles, the pattern worked out in a way different than what I was expecting. I got through the ribbing and into the pattern a few rows before I set it aside for the day. Monday, I took it with me to knit with the 'girls' and was thrilled to see the pattern developing. After a bit, I didn't have to count so much, as I could "read" the knitting, and things were going along swimmingly until I realized that I had WAY too many stitches on one of the needles. For the next two hours I frogged and tinked, the "mother of all swear words" dancing in my head (you know the one) and now instead of about 4 inches of leg, I have this:

.....and this:

Details: Trekking XXL, color 104. The pattern is the infamous Jaywalker (figured it was about time). Now I'm off to hang out the wash (yay), figure out how to save my favorite black linen pants that I dripped bleach on this morning, and get ready to host a cat----indefinitely. Should be interesting.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Moebius...take 5?

Yesterday afternoon I met up with a couple of the girls from KWA (Knitters with Altitude) with the intended purpose being to get the moebius thing figured out. If you were here earlier in the week, you'll remember this: ....the basket with the design feature. Still don't know how it got there. Anyway, the decision was made to frog it and start over, for a couple reasons: 1. I was afraid that the double twisting handle would felt to itself in the washer and 2: Since this little basket is suppose to be a practice run for a larger trifold bowl thingy, I really thought it was a good idea to get it right. So, the basket was frogged and I cast on again. And again. And again. I actually lost count of how many times I started over, but at least twice I got through the entire cast on (a trick in itself) and began knitting the moebius to find that half way round all my stitches were crossed. Finally, Christy reminded me I was suppose to be knitting in the front and the back of the stitches alternately......oh yeah. Crap. After three hours, we now have this:

....a basket handle with 1 twist, and the infant beginning of a basket. True to form, I somehow have more stitches than I'm suppose to, and I'm really hoping that it won't be completely wonky, but at this point I'm banking on the felting process covering for me. We have buttons. Not on the sweater just yet (I did mention the moebius thing, right?), but purchased, complete with backing buttons and thread. While I was buying buttons, I picked up an issue of Spin-Off, my thought being that it never hurts to know a little more about what you're trying to do. I think Donald Rumsfeld was quoted as saying "we don't know what we don't know..." or something along those lines, and as far as spinning is concerned, I know that I don't know more than I know, which isn't much. I was reading on Juno's blog the other day about her new wheel, about choosing it, and so on and she mentioned someone asking her what ratio she preferred. Ratio?? thinks I. What did he mean? I have a choice??? Sad, but true. So armed with a new magazine and the books that are coming from Amazon.com (gotta love Amazon), maybe I'll get a better handle on the spinning thing. I'm also hoping to figure out what to do I I happen to buy a fleece (what---you knew that was bound to happen) at Estes. I am really and truly not interested in the processing aspect, and need to find an economical fleece to roving guy. Spin-Off seems to list several, so in the next three weeks I'm going to try to get a handle on that. Ready for favorite foto friday?? Here's a fun one.

While the boys (yep, that's them) were down for Christmas, we went to the zoo. I love the zoo, and one of the best parts of our zoo is the giraffes. For some reason, our zoo has a very successful giraffe breeding program, and there are lots and lots of animals. There were nearly 20 out in the yard the day we were there. You can check out our giraffe exhibit here. Anyway, the best part is that you can feed the great beasties, for a small fee of course. If I knew how to do it, I would post the 'video' we took---there's just nothing like being sandwiched between giraffes, going for the same bit of rye krisp. Have a wonderful holiday weekend....and while you are reveling in the unofficial start of summer, please take time to remember why we have Memorial Day in the first place.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

More Random Ramblings...

I woke up this morning with the thought/plot for a book, and so before I even read my email (shock) I opened up Word and started to write. Three phone calls and a visit from a friend later, I'm back at the computer, searching for the muse that woke me. While I'm looking, I'll write a quick update. The red cardi is done, except for buttons. It FITS, the v-neck turned out perfectly and all things considered it is a success. There will be pictures, once the buttons are on. Spinning is progressing, I've got one bobbin 3/4's full and enough fiber to fill a second. It is mostly good, with some sections of crap, but given that I've been at it less than a month, it too is a success. I'm thinking it might be nice for mittens, and I have two people in mind (no, I'm not telling--you'll have to wait and see). As for the wheel, we are getting better acquainted, I'm learning how to keep the wheel spinning in the right direction with the single treadle, learning that sometimes dropping my heel is the "right" thing to do, and all in all we are getting along swimmingly. Still no name, though I've had suggestions ranging from those already mentioned to something profane, the thought being that I can't be held accountable for swearing if I am calling something by it's given name. DH suggested that 'damn wheel' might be an excellent choice, while I'm sure Cliff was thinking of something a little more, shall we say, choice. -----reminds me of a story. Early in our marriage we lived in Japan, and for several months we lived in a little apartment on a pretty street lined with cheery blossom trees. In addition to the local folks, we had as our neighbors another American couple stationed at the same Air Force base as my husband. They had a little finch of some sort that they had named Shithead, (it was about a year after Steve Martin exploded onto the silver screen as "The Jerk"--remember that?) Anyway, this presented a problem or two; they wanted to get the bird a friend, but couldn't think of what they would name it, not wanting to hurt Shithead's feelings. During the day, the bird had the 'run' of the apartment, and one day, the couple came home to discover that poor Shithead had drown in the fishtank. Hubby and I, expressed our sorrow for their loss, but thought 'really, what did they expect? Naming a bird Shithead, geesh.' Moral of the story, I don't think I will be naming the wheel Damn---even though I can see the wisdom in such a name. Lookie what was on my porch this morning: All this yarny goodness is Son number 2's new cardigan, the pattern for which is in the new issue of Interweave Knits.

Also in the box is the yarn for the tummy of a cute hedgehog :

(don't ask, I have NO @#$% idea what I'm going to do with a hedgehog). Pattern by Fiber Trends. The yarn for Trek Along with Me should be here very soon, coming from Boulder it can't take too long can it? Completely unrelated to my normal blog fodder, this came in the mail yesterday (and you have no idea how excited I am!) During our last sojourn in Colorado I had this nifty retractable clothesline in the back yard. Loved. It. With so much sunshine and the nice breezy days, I could hang out a load of t-shirts and have them dry in no time at all. When we came back from our season in Washington, alas, the clothesline was no longer. We bought a new one at the local mega home improvement warehouse, only to find it was too short, and when we took it back we found it was our only choice. Last week, longing for line dried sheets, I looked for one online (I don't know why it took me so long to think of this) and yesterday---TaDa---it arrived. This morning, apparently before he left for work, Brad installed it, right where the old one was. Back. In. Business.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Oy...what a megillah

I fear today will be a bit random. There are lots of little things to talk about here, not the least of which is knitting and spinning activity. Let's get started, shall we. 1. I had some bonding time with my new wheel yesterday afternoon. As it had been sitting in the shop for who knows how long, I took a dust rag to it with a bit of orange glo and cleaned it up. I also removed all the spun wool from the bobbins, I felt like we needed a fresh start, felt in a way like I was claiming the wheel as my own. (Don't laugh, it's a bit like painting a house that is new to you.....you need to make it your space). Two different girlfriends have asked me what I've named the wheel. When Ellen asked on the day we liberated the wheel from the little shop, I really hadn't thought about naming it; I'll have to think about it, I said. Yesterday, when my girlfriend/massage therapist asked, and then elaborated by saying I not only needed to name it, but bond with it, talk to it, bring it tea (no not really, I made that last one up), I thought, well, I guess I need to come up with a name. Ellen thought that since it is a Castle style wheel, it should be called Lady something. Lorna, after consulting with her pampered pooch Max, suggested Lady Belle. After cleaning her, and spinning for a bit yesterday afternoon, I'm leaning toward Lady Folly. I am totally open to suggestions---shout out in the comments. If you think I'm totally off my rocker (a few yards short of a skein??) you can tell me that too. Here's what I was working on yesterday:

2. The red cardi is in the final stretch. Yesterday both sleeves were sewn in (and they fit perfectly---YIPEE), and I picked up the stitches for the button band. I had to do the second side twice as I had 20 more stitches than I did on the first side. After that little hiccup, the button band was a breeze, 5 buttonholes placed and the whole thing bound off. When hubby came up to bed (yes, I was knitting in bed.....don't you do that?) I was weaving in ends. I'll finish that up today, and think about buttons. I found some really cool fused glass buttons the other day, but at $12 a pop, the buttons would cost more than the yarn to knit the sweater. If anybody is wondering, I DID NOT run out of yarn....actually had plenty left, whew. 3. This came in yesterdays mail. It is the pattern book I ordered, specifically for the pattern on the cover. I actually really like it in this pale blue, but got to thinking it might be really elegant in black----for the holidays and such. Any thoughts?

4. I've joined Trek Along With Me....note the new button in the sidebar. This will be somewhat of a challenge as I am not an obsessive sock knitter, and not much of a hiker these days either. It's not that I don't like to knit socks, I do. I just seem to be bored with them, long before they are done. I ordered the yarn last week (shhhh don't tell DH), and it should be here in a day or two. What I need now is a pattern, simple enough for the car/TV/conversation, but not so simple that it is mind-numbingly boring. Again, I'm open for suggestions. The other perk is that since I ordered blue, I can make it work for Junes Project Spectrum Project. (Always thinkin' I am). 5. I want to say a word about girlfriends. For last several years I have been sadly lacking. One thing about being married to someone whose job takes them all over the country, is that while you meet lots and lots of people and have a huge Christmas card list, maintaining lifelong friendships is really a challenge. I so envy those of you who have a group a girls that you can count on, girls that you meet up with regularly, confidants. I'm happy to report, I'm getting there. But what I want to say is that I treasure those of you who stop in to see me everyday, here, and leave encouraging messages, email me, talk to me like we've been friends forever. Cathy, gave me virtual flowers, and is willing to share them in real life. Margene has invited me for coffee when I travel through Salt Lake City. Chris will stop by on her way to Taos in the fall, and we'll hang out and go to the Llama store. Stephanie has helped me through a knitting conundrum. I have never met any of these women face to face....but they are my friends. Then we have the Knitters With Altitude. I would never have met up with these girls (and Brian :) ) if it hadn't been for the Knitting Olympics, a poorly attended after party for Team Colorado and an invitation to join them. And they are now my friends, cohorts, enablers and peers. Thank you all for letting me be a part of the group----you're the best! Okay....ready for a New Word??? Let's try megillah, a noun, which is slang for a long involved story or account. It is, as you might have guessed, Hebrew or Yiddish in origin, and comes from a word that means "scroll" or "volume." The thought is that it began in reference to the Book of Esther that is read aloud at the celebration of Purim, and came to be known in the English language as a story so long and involved it resembled the ancient Hebrew scrolls. While the Hebrew form of this word is serious, megillah, and it's Yiddish counterpart are more playful and lighthearted. So with that, I will bring this megillah to an end.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Is anyone surprised?

I didn't think so.

Yesterday afternoon I indeed hooked up with Ellen to look at spinning wheels. The place where she bought her wheel is rather, um, unique. Tucked away in a little strip mall is a tiny nail salon, that also sells candles, has a tanning booth and......spinning wheels. Here is a perfect example of a gal who does what she loves. Fiber addict, spinner and nail tech, all rolled into one.

Now before you say "....but you said you didn't want a castle wheel!" let me explain. This shop sells beautiful Kromski wheels and there were many different wheels to choose from. I am still lusting after the Symphony, but there, in the corner was this little Mazurka, on sale (really on sale--like half price) because the owners puppy had nibbled on the treadle. I was ready to keep looking when Ellen sat down to give it a spin. Then of course I had to try it. Lovely. Just lovely. It spun like a dream, smooth and even with a soothing whir. Once I got the wheel going, the single treadle was no trouble at all. I spun on another wheel, the Polonaise, and truly, I liked the little Mazurka better (go figure). So, it came home with me, along with the lazy kate, oil, an extra drive band, a video and goodie bag of fiber.

On the way back to Ellen's for tea, we stopped by a yak farm to see if they had fiber for sale. Sadly, there was no one home but the yaks, and they weren't talking. They were, however, very cute.......

..................just look at that sweet face! I had no idea yaks were so cute! And they're small, I'm guessing in the 400lb range. And check out that fur.....I'm sure Ellen will be stopping by again.

Back at Ellen's, I sat down for another test spin, which was a bit frustrating at first because things had jiggled out of adjustment on the ride over (through Castlewood Canyon, past a couple wild turkey's). Ellen carded some buffalo, which spun up fairly nicely, but may not be worth the work to get it all prepared........it is full of stuff and ick.

It was time to head home, so I packed up my sweet little wheel and headed out. Apollo and the gang were near the fence, so I stopped for a chat and a photo.

The weather was, well, turbulent is a good word. Out East the skies were nearly black, towards the West, more blue and grey. I had the radio on (classic rock, if you're curious), and there was a road closed due to power lines and trees being down, a report of a sign in the middle of the road and a report of a tornado out East in Ellicot. As I went to bed last night, there were thunderstorms passing by.

The red cardi is still waiting for me to put it together, but I have this nagging feeling that I will follow the Harlot's example and make Tuesday's for Spinning.

.....so many choices.

Monday, May 22, 2006

In which I knit a Moebius Basket and add a design feature

Damn. So, Friday afternoon, Christy came over for a bit a walked me through a moebius cast on. Anybody who has tried this technique will understand my confusion. Christy's words of advice were "don't think about it, just do it......I know it looks like crap, just keep going and it will be fine." So on I knit. I completed the I cord bind off at the knit meet on Saturday morning, and Sunday afternoon I picked up stitches and began the seemingly endless round and round stocking stitch that forms the basket. About 3 rows in I noticed this:

......the moebius handle has an extra twist. Nope. I have no idea how I did that. Probably couldn't repeat it if I wanted to. Yes, I tried flipping it, inverting it and doing everything else I could think of to it. [Insert expletive of choice here]. Short of tearing it out and starting over, I don't see a way to fix it. Thus, I now have a double twist basket. The learning curve had another interesting twist this weekend as I learned how to do short row toes (for socks) on Saturday morning. Again, those around kept saying "don't think about it, trust the yarn, just do it, it will be fine......" (I have such helpful friends), and after an hour or so I had a toe:

......not one that would fit my foot, but a really nice looking sock toe. Right then and there I decided that I would have to give it another go, fewer stitches, smaller needles. I was working with what I thought were US 2's----measured them before I left that morning. By the time I got to the coffee shop, they had grown into 3's. Damn. That explained the big toe. SO, Saturday night on the way to a party in Pueblo, I cast on another toe, and last night before I gave up and went to sleep, this is what I had:

........better, no? I'm going to knit another inch or so and then start a simple pattern on the top of the foot---probably MJ's seed stitch rib, which is simple but cute. I LOVE the gals in our knitgroup. We laugh a lot, share ideas and techniques and have such a good time. This coming Saturday we are meeting at MJ's for a 'puppy party.' Most of us have at least one doggie, lots of us have more than one, and so we will bring them along for a knit day in MJ's back yard. Should be fun. The weekend was full of non-knitting activity as well. Friday night we went to an impromptu dinner party for one of the foreign researchers who will be leaving soon. Saturday night we celebrated a new American citizen; another of our foreign researchers was sworn in a week or so ago. At each of these parties, the non-Americans equaled or exceeded the Americans, which makes for good conversation. Here's what blows my mind: We have several married couples that are made up of different nationalities, for instance, the party on Friday evening was hosted by a couple who hail from France (hubby) and Spain (wife). The children who are 3 and 5 speak French, Spanish and English equally well. Saturday night, the hosts were German and Korean, and the children, about 4 and 5 spoke Korean, German and English. What an advantage they will have! The German dad was telling us that his 5 year old daughter interprets for him (Korean to German) if she thinks he may be missing the finer points of the conversation (her Korean is better than his), and I assume she helps her mother in a similar way if the conversation is in German. Of course, both parents speak very good English (mom is a surgeon) but they speak only their native tongue to their children. Today's goal is to get the red cardi put together, and then work on the sock a bit (I think). The spinning wheel has gone back to the shop (snif), nothing to tempt me on that front. The other possibility is that I may be tempted away to Franktown to look at a couple used wheels with my enabler, Ellen. Here is the issue: Lisa wants a spinning wheel; Sister-in-Law is sending Lisa a spinning wheel of unknown working order/quality; Spinning wheel is still a long way from arriving at Black Sheep Central, and will most likely require work; Lisa is not know for her patience and would like a working wheel before the Estes Park Wool Market; Ellen, being the fine enabler that she is, found used Kromski 's in Franktown and has only today to help me look; Lisa wants a wheel. Tune in tomorrow and see what I decided to do.

Friday, May 19, 2006

S.E.X.

Yes indeedy...a Stash Enhancement eXpedition commenced this morning as Christy and I headed to Castle Rock. The Red Wheel will be moving their business and will no longer be stocking yarn or knitting paraphenalia, HENCE, a SALE. Ellen (my spinning buddy) met us there and, well, I don't really need to tell you what happened, do I??

A couple of the gals and I are planning a knit-along (a mobius 'bowl') so I picked up some Cascade 220 and a needle. The black wool is for a felted sheep and the fiber.....well who could resist merino/silk for less that $3 per ounce? What I left in the store was the 'to die for' gorgeous cherry spinning wheel that cost a mortgage payment. Oh. My. Goodness.

Enough Said.

Yesterday afternoon I spun up a bit of the hemp. I say a bit, because frankly, it was not fun. While I was working with it I was thinking of that fairly tale (Rumplestiltskin???) where the maiden is spinning straw into gold. I was not getting gold of course, but it felt like straw, or fiberglas insulation. The final product isn't anything I thought I would ever use.

Until I saw this:

Gasp. The handle of my best favorite Lantern Moon basket is torn, and ready to give way. The obvious answer??? Hemp.

I plan to give it a go before the basket leaves the house again.

Both sleeves are done on the red cardi, thanks to knitting time yesterday afternoon and this morning with the girls. Now to sew up the sleeves, set them in there pre-ordained places and make the whole thing look like a sweater.

Christy is coming by this afternoon with her wheel for a little play time. She came away from the sale this morning with chocolate alpaca, and she's going to walk me through the mobius thing.

One more...since it's Friday....

Here's a shot back toward the Olympic Mountains from a nature preserve on the Olympic Peninsula. After camping for a few days out on the ocean side of the peninsula, we were on our way home and stopped to check out this preserve. From the beach, we snapped this picture, just as the sun was getting ready to call it a day. I love the beach....the shore birds, the screech of gulls and slap of waves against the rocks.

Magic.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Morning Update

There's not a lot to report today, but here it goes: The end is in sight for the red cardi: Yesterday I sewed up the shoulder seams and figured how long the sleeves needed to be. Surprisingly, off the needles, the sleeve is the right width (at the top) so I just needed another inch and a half or so in length. I'm hoping to get them both done and sewn in today. Also, I took another look at the garter stitch button band and have decided that it really does suit the sweater....so that's what I'll do. My only worry now is to work the button band around the beginning of the V-neck without it looking wonky. I'm open to any and all pointers.....shout out gang. Our front porch seems to be in the running for a nesting area for a pair of what I think are small swallows. I haven't been able to get a photo; they are rather skittish and very fast. I went out to the porch yesterday to see if perhaps they've started building, but at least when I checked, there was no evidence of a nest. Brad and I were talking about the prospect of a nest on the porch and once we decided the mess would only be temporary, thought about putting a WebCam out there to watch the little family. Stay tuned for more updates. One spring, several years ago, we had a little nest in a fuchsia that was hanging at the front porch. The boys and I loved checking in on that---until the nest was raided by bigger birds and the babies taken. Heartbreaking. I still haven't spun up the hemp, but need to get to that today, as the wheel needs to go back this weekend (sniff). I just can't justify continuing to rent a wheel, and pay for fiber; I really need to find a good wheel to buy, so I'll make another pass through ebay in a bit. The squirrel was visiting out back a few minutes ago, and Kramer is pretty sure he's still out there somewhere....I just think he's so funny from the back I had to share (smile). This is a pretty normal pose for him, at one of the windows, always ready to alert me to intruders, aliens, whatever seems to pass through his field of vision. Kramer is the first terrier I've had, and though he has mellowed in the company of his room mate Jake, he is very territorial, and intensely protective of his purlieu and his family (oooo, look how I snuck in our new word). Okay, enough random blathering for today....let's see if I can get the sweater done :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'm really in trouble now :(

Yesterday afternoon I made a trip to Table Rock Llama's for some fiber to play with. Presented with all the options, I ended up with an ounce of baby alpaca, and a wee bit of hemp, just for fun. When I got home, I moved the spinning wheel to the room with the TV and got going. After an hour and a half or so, this is what I had:

.......about 36 yards of 2 ply yarn; and while it's still not "perfect," I have to say I am pretty stoked about it. There's a Beatles tune running through my head........its getting better all the time, better, better, ooooooo. This, of course, has brought mixed emotions to DH, who really wants to be proud and excited and supportive, but keeps seeing dollar signs flashing before his eyes. But even with the unease over the financial aspect of what is looking to become a new obsession here at Black Sheep Central, DH was quite impressed with the yummy, soft and pretty darn good looking alpaca yarn. I'm anxious to try more, but don't want to keep 'renting' the wheel, and paying for fiber ad nauseum.....it's time to "**** or get off the pot," if you get my drift. Thus, I have been on the hunt at ebay, for a good wheel at a good price. The one I was bidding on last night ended up going for $280, which was a killer deal, but over my self imposed limit. I'll do some more searching today. And now on to New Word Wednesday, my feeble attempt at enlightenment and education. Todays word is purlieu (purl-yu or for us knitters: purl ewe :) ) This is a word which has several meanings, which include 1a; an outlying or adjacent district b (plural): environs, neighborhood 2a: a frequently visited place: haunt b (plural): confines, bounds. Anybody want to guess where I'm going with this??? The local fiber supplier has become my purlieu, but unfortunately I am hampered by the purlieu of my budget.

Drats.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Morning Funk

I was up late (for me) watching "Hotel Rwanda" last night, and was awaken by a phone call early (for me) this morning. Bad combo, and now I'm in this morning funk, my eyes keep wanting to shut, my head feels muzzy, and since it's too late to go back to bed and too early for a nap, well, I guess I'm stuck. I'm doing what anyone would do, catching up on the gossip (via the internet) and drinking coffee......sweet elixer of life as my son says. Yesterday I managed to get a few things done around the house that I'd been putting off, and then I rewarded myself with knitting. I got two little squares done for Justin, which are now safely in the envelope and ready to send. I also finished listening to "In the Company of the Courtesan," which was wonderful, from start to finish. While watching the movie last night, I knit on the sleeve for the red cardi, had to tink a row and a half 'cause I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, but I think I'm down to the last couple increases before I do a test fit. It's nice to be able to knit what you like out of the yarn you want to, but doing all the fiddley stuff to get it to work out right is just such a pain. I'm eyeing a zippered cardi for my son, from the new Interweave Knits, and it calls for good ole Cascade 220.....I can live with that. Less math, for sure. Son number two thinks he'd like it in grey, a good choice, don't you think? I can't remember the last time a knit something out of the specified yarn. Yesterday I also ordered the pattern for a darling little cardi with a cabled edge, from the Occasion Collection (available through Patternworks and Woodland Woolworks), and it looks like it might be a fun summer knit. This afternoon, after my trips to the various torture exercises (massage and chiropractor) I'd like to get up to the Llama store for some fiber. I'm still planning to take the wheel back at the weekend, but want to play around with it a bit more before then. While I'm there, I'll check out the Cascade 220 colors. I hate to admit this, but WEBS still has 220 on sale, and I'd be a fool to pass it up. And now little dude is here and I must pway yeggo.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Make it a Blue Day.

If you've read the little blurb in the corner, you know that I am a nurse. One of the jobs I had a few years ago was in private practice with a Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist......a kids cancer doctor. It was a small practice, but on a weekly basis we saw children with cancer and various blood disorders, mostly African American children with Sickle Cell Anemia. I did all the blood draws, blood infusions and administered chemotherapy to these little people. I ran the blood count tests. Most weeks went by with more good news than bad, but in a practice such as this, we had our share of really bad days. People have asked me how I could do this job, wasn't it terribly sad, and I would say that yes, it is sometimes terribly sad, but the kids are amazing and teach you so much about life and dealing with illness. I have memories of children who have touched my heart such that I will never forget their little faces. I have a couple memories of cases that looked like we had triumphed only to see something else sneak up and steal our patient. And one child, though not my patient, will always be remembered because he was my younger sons friend, and a son of my heart. Cancer is a no good, lying, cheating bastard. The treatments can be far worse than the disease (at least in the beginning), but the good news is that the many common childhood cancers are curable. The cases that are not, are heartbreaking. That is why there will not be any progress on the red cardi, until I have sent a couple blue squares off to the Warming Grace Project for Justin. Here is a tangible way to send love, comfort and maybe a small ray of hope to a little dude who will more than likely be taken from his family very soon. How could I say no? If you can't pitch in this time, or you don't have anything blue in your stash, keep in mind that Cynthia is still collecting 5 inch squares and will make blankies for these small patients as long as there are squares and children in need. Enough said???? Good. I hope you all had a good weekend, ours was busy and full. Friday evening, in lieu of date night, we hung out in the Field House at the Academy while cadets tried to earn extra credit points by flying their small gliders across the field. It was good fun; I always enjoy meeting my husbands students, watching Brad interact with them and seeing them all together. Our own guys are about the same age as these cadets, so it's neat to spend time with young people that age. Some of them kept making modifications, hoping to get the glider a bit farther; one guy kept at it for a couple hours until he had finally hit the back wall and earned all the points he could. One guy was about to give up because his glider flew apart on it's maiden voyage. Encouraged, he dug it out of the trash, glued it back together and flew the thing nearly all the way on the first toss. One young man told me about his plan to propose to his girl the next day by flying her over a field in which his friends would be holding up a "will you marry me?" sign. I can't wait to hear how that worked out. It was a fun evening. Saturday morning I joined the Knitters with Altitude (check out the new links in the sidebar!!) at a local coffee place, where we took over a small corner and knit, wound yarn, perused books and patterns and gabbed for several hours. In the late afternoon we attended a retirement dinner and ceremony honoring one of the departments visiting professors. It was a moving tribute to a wonderful man....I don't think there was a dry eye in the house by the end of the evening. Sunday, Mother's Day, we went to church and then joined our friends Cliff, Eva and Stephen and Lorna for a great brunch at a local hotel. You might imagine everyone ate more than they probably should have---I don't think I have ever seen so much food at a buffet---and we parted ways to enjoy the rest of the day. Brad and I had a quiet day for the most part, we did a little shopping and ended the day with coffee at Starbucks. Once home, he made me a niddy noddy out of some pvc pipe we picked up at Lowes. Always the engineer, here's what his "plans" looked like. (smile) Today, there is a lot I need to catch up on, but I will be knitting blue squares. Have a great Monday.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It's calling my name!

Yesterday, Blogger was having trouble loading photo's---again. Seems every few days there is a hiccup in the system, and something goes pear shaped. Rather than sit in front of the computer, tapping my fingers and getting frustrated, I glanced over and saw the spinning wheel, sitting near the window and thought--well, I'll just go spin a bit while I wait for the $%^ pictures to load. Good idea, huh? 5 hours later, I had gotten none of what I wanted to do accomplished, not the dishes, not the vacuuming, no knitting. But I did have this: I'm still not there yet, not getting the consistency I want, but I'm coming to believe I will, with enough practice and good fiber. I dug out the cinnamon colored mystery wool and gave it another go. It's still sticky and it seems to break really easily (adding to the frustration level), but I was able to get some of it spun up. My thoughts were to ply it with the brown, which is not all that pretty on it own. This is what it looks like:

Again, not something I'm likely to use, but I will have a great history of progress, no? AND....if I can hold out til summer, I can pick up a wheel from my Mother-in-Law, who has two, neither of which is in use (or ever has been). Several years ago, she got the urge to spin and asked her father--then nearly 90--to make her one. Without a pattern or any idea how it was suppose to work, and with only a picture, he made a beautiful (and functional) wheel. During one part of the process the wheel itself flew apart, knocking him on his keester, breaking his glasses and causing quite a nice little gash on his eyebrow. Even if I don't bring it home, I'm planning to give it a spin the next time I get the chance. It will be neat to spin on the wheel that this master woodcrafter made (more than likely from wood from his own property), and spin fond memories of my Brad's beloved Grandpa. I've had quite the busy day, beginning with a trip to my massage therapist, where I allowed her to torture me for an hour or so. Then to the chiropractor, where he does his best to hurt me as well. All along he has told me that I shouldn't be knitting, and I've held my tongue, or at most told him "sorry, that's non-negotiable." Today when he suggested we get rid of the spinning wheel, I quickly told him that perhaps he should get rid of his mountain bike. I don't think we'll be discussing my fiber fetish anytime soon. My sister-in-law brought to my attention this morning that Washington's Mount Saint Helen's is again making noises, and lost a piece of itself over the last several days. I thought that for today's Favorite Foto, then, I would show you all what it looked like last July. Who knows what it will look like this July.

You can see from this photo that life is returning to the area, as well as the giant crater that was left behind after the 1980 eruption. We took a nice little hike down a trail that lead to Spirit Lake, and all around were signs of the disaster; entire forests leveled by the blast. The crystal blue lake is still at least 1/3 smaller, as it is filled with debris and trees. But at least in this picture, there is still striking beauty.

Have great weekend, and Happy Mother's Day to all of you wonderful Mother's out there. (Gentlemen, you still have time to be a hero).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hope restored

Lot's of progress here at Black Sheep Central.....I love progress. Yesterday around lunchtime I arrived at my new friend Ellen's house for an afternoon of spinning. Her little farm is beautiful and is home to 5 horses, 3 llamas, a variety of chickens, 3 dogs and 4 cats. It is situated with a phenomenal view of the rocky plain and front range, and I would move there in a New York minute. After a bite to eat we had a bit of of fiber tour, like anybody obsessed with a new hobby, Ellen had baskets, bags, boxes stuffed with yummy fibers; from buffalo and yak, to silk and merino, it was a veritable feast for the senses. Ellen showed me some of her handspun and since I knew she had only been spinning since the beginning of the year, I felt a small glimmer of hope that I might "get it" after all. We sat down at the wheels--hers is a beautiful Kromski--and began to spin. She gave me a bit of brown "mystery fiber" while she played with some fluffy yak down. She was spinning the most beautiful, thin, even, consistent yarn, I was almost afraid to try. After a couple false starts I began to spin.....and what I spun was thin, beautiful, almost even and consistent yarn. I. Was. Stunned. Completely gobsmacked. When I went to bed Saturday night, I was not at all pleased with the yarn I was spinning, and had very little hope of doing better. Yesterday, with Ellen saying "look at you! Look what your making!" I had my first real thought that I could indeed be a spinner AND spin something worth knitting. We played with a variety of fibers, "mystery wool," merino, and even silk. Ellen was making the prettiest thread from the silk and while mine was not as pretty, I still was able to spin it. I think what made the difference was the fiber. The roving I had been practicing with was somewhat "sticky," making it difficult to draft, while the fiber I played with yesterday drafted easily, allowing me to make a thin ply of yarn. Each time I picked up my roving, I spun 'crap;' each time I used 'better' roving I spun something worth looking at. I made a small amount of single ply on two different bobbins and then Ellen helped me ply them. Here's what I came up with:

Not bad huh? Almost pretty? Ah, progress. Last night I finished up the front of the red sweater, after making a really stupid mistake while binding off the left front....that we will not be discussing. Now on to the sleeves and whatever tweeking I'll need to do in order to get them to fit properly and not hang over my knuckles. The sweater calls for garter stitch button bands....I'm thinking seed stitch might look better, maybe even 1x1 rib. Does anybody have on opinion they'd like to share?

Finally today, I would like to share two treats that came to me via email. Both are very funny, the second, particularly if you are a mother of sons. (thing 1) (thing 2) Enjoy.