Thursday, August 31, 2006

Making Lemonade....

.....well sort of. Many of you may recall that I am in the possession of about three and a half pounds of crap roving. This roving is so utterly bad that the only resemblance it has to the fleece we took to the mill is the color. No kidding. For the last several weeks I've been to disappointed to even look at the stuff, but today, I dug out a roll of roving and have been playing with dye. Now, this roving is not spinnable, at least by no one I know, and so the thought has been that something would have to be created from the roving itself. Trouble is, the roving barely holds together, not enough to knit it on jumbo needles anyway. So the thought I've been playing around with has been to dye it, hoping that it will partially felt and then braid it and stitch it into a basket, bowl or rug or some such. This morning I just launched in, I mean really, what's the worse that can happen? I'll have a pile of COLORED crap roving, right? First off, I placed some wool into a 2 gallon ziplock:

Then, I mixed 6 packets of Black Cherry Kool-ade, and a splash of vinegar with 2 quarts of water and poured it into the bag. After smooshing it around pretty well, I set it outside between layers of black garbage bag.

Next up, I decided to try red wine. I had a bottle that was opened last week sometime, so I put more roving into another baggie, poured in the wine and set it outside with the other bag.

Well, now I was on a roll, so I got out the food coloring, setting the roving into canning jars as well as another ziplock, and put three more batches in the sun, this time in my canner. I realize that this is the quick and dirty way of dying wool, and really I have no idea whether it will work or not. What I do know is that I won't be any worse off; what I started with was practically unusable, so I've really got nothing to lose. If it turns out the way I'm hoping, then I'll have been successful. Even Thomas Edison had off days, and said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Hopefully I'll figure something out before 10,000 trys. Yikes. While we wait to see what the results will be, remember to stop by Brett's pledge page and make a donation for his MS Ride---coming up in two weeks. Every little bit helps, and if you click on the picture of the handsome guy in the sidebar you can make your donation easy breezy! If you decide to donate, leave me a comment and you'll be entered for some sort of wonderful prize, (as if the good feeling you get from helping others isn't reward enough :) )

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What a day!

So, I'm laying in bed this morning, easing myself into consciousness, and thinking, I don't have to hurry, there's nothing on the calendar for today, I can take my time....when the phone rings. Eva is inviting me to join her for breakfast----she has taken the day off, little dude is in pre-school for the day and she's ready for a girlie day out. Up I hop, make myself presentable and off we go to a nearby eatery for breakfast, complete with champagne (mimosa for me, something with cranberry for Eva). From there, we went hunting for a dress to wear to the shindig at the end of September. Now I must pause here and say that while I appreciate a bargain as much as the next gal, I really don't like to hunt for it. Eva, on the other hand, loves to sort through the offerings at Ross, so that's where we ended up. After trying on 9 or 10 options, I bought 2.....and a pair of shoes. For less than half of what I would have spent on the dress that wouldn't zip. After a trip to turn in outgrown toys and clothes at the children's resale shop, we headed to a new pub in the neighborhood for an adult beverage and bite to eat---neat little place, good food, great bar, pool tables and more big screen TV's than a body could keep track of. What's up with that, anyway? I find the televisions to be a distraction when I'm in a restaurant, do you? It would be a great place to go with a group, maybe to watch Monday Night Football, but a lousy place to take a date, just sayin'. From there, we were off to find some earrings to wear with the dress, a quick trip through PayLess Shoes and Target, and back home again----a successful day all in all. AND....it's someone's birthday too. This lovely lady was born just before the Great Depression, in Northern California, and after her brother came along 18 months later and logging industry all but shut down, the little family moved back to the homestead in Snohomish, Washington, where 2 more brothers joined the family. Her father died when she was just a little girl, leaving her mom to raise 4 children on the small farm, during the depression. As she grew up, she took care of the boys while her Mom earned a paycheck, and to hear her tell it, they were not always eager to cooperate. After high school she went to business college and then got a job with Alaska Airlines (the only woman in a shop full of men). She met and married her husband in 1953, and settled into a little yellow house on Beverly Lane. Eight years later, she became my mother. Our days were full of mudpies and dancing lessons. I remember taking trips downtown, eating at the dime store soda fountain and buying little packages of plastic jewelry. I remember pouring over the Sears Catalog for school clothes, trips to the beauty school for haircuts, and home perms. When I was in high school, Mom made my prom dresses, helped me choose and buy bouteniers for my dates and waited up for me to get home. Though she is not the demonstrative type, I never doubted for a single minute her love for me. Over the years there have been vacations and holidays together; D.C. the Grand Canyon and Disneyland in more recent years. A couple years ago, while we were living in Washington, we bought season tickets to the 5th, and looked forward to each and every show. And even though I now live several states away, I look forward to our times together. Happy Birthday Mom----I hope it's a great one. (new word wednesday will return next week)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Searching for Inspiration....and a bit of help

I've come to the conclusion that I just can't be witty and entertaining every day. Surprised? I thought not. Somehow, when I began writing this blog. I got into the swing of posting everyday, and after coming to the afore mentioned conclusion, I've given myself permission to take a day off now and then---hence my absence yesterday. We had a very full weekend, beginning with the retirement celebration for one of Brad's colleagues. Saturday morning I met up with the girls for some knitting and then a few of us met up for a while on Sunday as well. Sunday afternoon brought the back to school mixer for Brad's department at the Academy---always a good time. Monday was taken up with massage, haircut and grocery shopping. I can however report some good progress on the latest trekking sock, having started at the toe, I did my first short row heel (with a little coaching) while knitting with a gals on Saturday. After doing countless heel flaps, I think I enjoyed the process, but so much of it seems counter intuitive, and I found myself married to the directions. Hopefully the second will go more smoothly, now that I know how it works. This morning I've been listening to the news (big surprise) and organizing the plethora of knitting magazines and pattern leaflets I've amassed. A week or so ago, I went to the Container Store and ordered some box type storage files for the magazines, and they have tidied things up quite a bit. What I realize now, is that I really must do something about the stash. It's gone beyond the point of decorative, past the point of welcoming clutter and is approaching out of control. I have a couple ideas, clear plastic bins and so forth, but there is still the issue of where to put the bins, meaning of course that I will need to take a good hard look at the closets, and frankly, it's much easier to just keep piling things in the overflowing basket. Now before I sign off, I'd like to ask for some help. Many of you may remember Claudia, and her MS Ride earlier in the year. Well, friends and faithful readers, I'd like to call your attention to another Ride for MS, coming up in mid-September, this time in the Seattle area. My son Brett will be participating in this event and he needs OUR HELP! I will add the link to his page, where you can learn more about the event, see who will be riding with him, and make a donation. Since I'm not all that html literate, the best I could do is put his picture in the sidebar---which will take you to his donations page. (anybody who would like to help me make a proper button---let me know :) ) Now, I know that I am just a little blog, with nowhere near the readership of Claudia, or others who make similar pleas, but I would think that even the few of us there are can earn the $150 entrance fee, don't you?? In fact, I would bet we could do even better than that. I'll leave it up to you---if you donate through the official site, leave me a comment and I'll put your name in 'the hat' for a drawing for a prize (yet to be determined, but something wonderful I assure you). Please, let's earn a few dollars for this worthwhile cause, and put an end to this disease that affects so many. Those of you who have blogs of your own---help me spread the word, okay? Now, as a parting shot.......look who's checking out the blog!

"I'm not seeing very many pictures of ME---what's up with that?"

Friday, August 25, 2006

Late again :(

I had just a few minutes this morning to post, before I ran off to join my hubby for a colleagues retirement celebration----but blogger was having issues. So, here I am at bedtime, jotting a line or two and posting today's Favorite Foto.

This is one of those shots that makes me wish I was in my camper in the mountains, in this case Rocky Mountain National Park (as seen last June).

......but then I would never have know about the storm that dumped so much rain and hail this evening that it flooded my window well and subsequently the basement.

ugh.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

No Knitting Content Whatsoever

I've just come from the mall and a fresh bout of humiliation. You see, every year or so, my husbands department has what the military calls a "dining out," in laymans terms, a formal dinner. Last year, I sat at the head table along with my sweet hubby and this year we will again be seated at the head table. Now, I don't know about you, but I remember what people wear to these shindigs, especially when I've had cause to look their direction for the entire evening, and while I may not remember all the details..........well, you see where I'm going with this; I need a new dress. In years past, I've gone the little black dress route, cocktail length (anything longer would likely need several inches whacked off the bottom) and simple, sometimes a little beading or sparkle. A few years back it was fun to go shopping, I had just lost 30 pounds and was feelin' rather sassy---if you know what I mean. Since then the 30 pounds not only tracked me down, but they brought a few friends. Most of the time I'm not bothered by my fluff, usually only when a new swimsuit is needed or I'm trying on jeans. Today, though was just flat depressing. I browsed around the womens department and found something suitable---not black for a change but a buttery gold two piece number. Totally the wrong gold for me. Then as I was about to give up I spotted a darling strapless tea length dress in the juniors department and grabbed the largest size they had thinking I'd have plenty of room. I'll save myself any further humiliation by just saying I firmly believe that the clothing manufacturers are completely out of their minds when they determine sizing. And the really sad bit??? I checked online, and it is the largest size they make. Now, I'm a grown-up. I can find another dress, or even wear the one from last year. But what about the teen who is in love with this dress and not a size 3? (watch out, I'm about to climb on my soapbox) What message are we sending our daughters? Every girl, of every size deserves to feel pretty, and special and wear what she loves, don't you think? I'm not that big, and there are lots and lots of girls and women that are bigger than me----what about them? Okay, enough of that. I think I need some chocolate.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A man yu whatsis?

First up....proof of progress: ....though it's highly doubtful anyone will need these in the next few days. Linda and I had a mitten discussion the other day, and she is posing the question "what is your favorite mitten pattern?" The pattern I have always (and only) used is from a booklet that came to me from my mother-in-law several years ago. The booklet is of unknown vintage, and has patterns for gloves and mittens in all sizes, with directions for flat knitting or 4 dpn's. Me, being the 2 circ girl that I am, adapted the pattern and have made 3 or 4 pair now. They seem to work up fine, but I'm really keen to try the afterthought thumb pattern---the thumb gussets slow things down a bit and cause you to have to pay attention. Simple mittens would be much more fun, I'm thinking. Do any of you have a favorite mitten pattern you'd like to share?? With the mittens done, I turned my attention to the sock in progress last night, and got a few more rows done. It's looking rather splendid, if I must say so myself. Here's what I love; things that look really hard, yet are not hard at all. Cables, for example, or home made cheesecake. You just know folk will think you're a genius, all those fiddly cables, or smooth rich dessert. It is the wise man or woman who simple smiles and says "thanks, It is rather wonderful isn't it?" And now on to New Words. I've been reading a new book this week, Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. It's not what I'd call a real page turner, but it has held my attention for several nights now. Mr. Barnes, aside from being English (I'm presuming) is quite the wordsmith, and I have quite often found myself coming across words that I have never seen before. More than 20 years ago now, I was totally enthralled by the Blackford Oakes series of books by William F Buckley Jr., yet found myself in the same pickle, having to read with a dictionary close at hand. This brings me to our word for the week: amanuensis. Any guesses? Here is the sentence in which it appears: "Arthur also took on a secretary and amanuensis: Alfred Wood, a master from Portsmouth School, a discreet efficient fellow with the honest look of a pharmacist; an all around sportsman too, with a very decent cricket arm on him." Not very helpful, is it? Just looking at it I can tell that it has something to do with the hand, in that we can see the Latin root manus there in the middle. But beyond that? So I looked it up this morning and here's what Webster has to say: amanuensis is a noun which basically means "a slave with secretarial duties" or "one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript." Given that the 'Arthur' in this novel is none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the word amanuensis is quite logical, though I think I might have used a word more common to today's vernacular. Still, it's nice to read something that stretches the reader, at least a little. Now it's time for me to stretch a little, and grab some lunch. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Overload

I have a confession to make; I am a news junkie. As my mind awakes in the morning and consciousness returns, the first thing I do is turn on the news. Half awake and semi-reclined I check in on what's happening in the world. During the day, I check in every few hours; in the car I listen to talk radio, if there is a big story unfolding, the TV is on, either as background music or with me planted in front with some knitting. But I've just about had it with the wall to wall coverage of John Mark Karr and his connection, however strangely, with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Did you know, for instance, that there was a major plane crash in Russia in the last several hours? Did you know that today is a major day on the Muslim calendar, and being heralded by some as a doomsday? Probably not.....but we know what Karr had for breakfast this morning. Geesh. What is it that draws us to this sort of sensational news? Is it our own rather average or hum drum lives that yearn for a juicy crime story? Is it the case itself, that the murder of a little girl almost 10 years ago still has the power of a train wreck----we hate to see the carnage but can't seem to look away? Is it our overload with war and fighting and terrorism that has spawned our hunger for diversion? I don't know. But here I sit, unable to divert my attention. I know I just need to push the button, but something in me wants to know all there is to know. In knitting news, I'm working my way up the hand of the second mitten, and should get that finished up sometime today. The sock gained only a couple rows yesterday, but might get some attention later on today. The shawl is on hold until after the mitten, as is Alex's cardi. And so, I think I'll find the televisions off button and get on with some knitting. What has captured your attention today?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bad Blogger

So here I am, late Monday afternoon, trying to get my act together enough to write something clever and engaging. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling all that witty---what I can do is provide a brief weekend update. Saturday morning the gang met up at the coffee shop for some quality knitting time. Since the meltdown, I'm not totally sure which group it was---Spinners with Altitude or Nameless Knitters---but it doesn't really matter since we all belong to both groups. Kirsten and Chery both bought Crazy Monkey (see side bar) drop spindles (gorgeous) and Chery wasted no time spinning up some silk hankies:

Looks like a natural doesn't she?? Saturday afternoon I made several attempts at starting a toe up sock. I finally had success using the easy toe method in this book. The pattern I've chosen is from the same book, called Yarn-over Cables. So far, so good, huh?

Sunday was spent knitting on the sock and then starting the second mitten during the football game (GO SEAHAWKS!) I'm up to the thumb gussets----which reminds me; Linda has a clever way of making mittens that involve an "afterthought" thumb. Next time, I'm going to use her recipe. Today began with a trip to visit a new preschool with the little dude and Eva, followed by lunch. This afternoon brought a phone call from son number one (yay!) saying that his car had been broken into and robbed (not good). The creep that robbed him got away with Brett's trials bike ($$$$), ALL his cd's ($$$$$) and his mp3 player, among other things. I'm hoping to hear that the car insurance will cover his losses. On a positive note, he was off to sign the lease on a new apartment----a lovely upgrade from where he and his brother have been living for the last year or so, and hopefully a much safer neighborhood. Here's hoping your day was filled with good news and lots of knitting (or spinning or reading or............)

Friday, August 18, 2006

No clever title today......

I'm getting lazy, I know. In the past, I've been very good about getting a post up first thing in the morning, but the last couple days have not worked out that way---yesterday because of appointments, today, well, I have no excuse. I stayed in bed watching the news, then meandered downstairs to let the dogs out. Over coffee I finished up recording discs with an audible book for hubby to listen to in the car during his commute. And, I finished mitten number 1:

This marks the first bit of knitting from my own handspun yarn, a milestone if you ask me. It may not be as perfect as a store bought mitten, but it's pretty special, thinks I. They will be a birthday present this fall. Spinning has continued, though not on the Romney----I'm just having such a good time with the baby alpaca I have spent most of my time playing with that. I've about got the first bobbin filled. Zorro ventured upstairs last night, rubbing himself on the wheel while it was spinning.

As for the Romney, it is rather slow going. I am stopping the wheel a lot to pick out the neps, and while there are not as many as in the roving which will not be named, there are enough that flicking them out is worth it. My plan is to make a 3 ply yarn from the singles, which are nice and fine, and end up with a sport weight to light worsted yarn. Perhaps I can get to the wheel later today. In other news, I finished a very clever book yesterday, The Book of Bright Ideas, by Sandra Kring. Fun read, and entirely captivating. It used to be that I would read whatever I could get my hands on, but with all the other things vying for my attention these days, I don't read as often as I would like, I guess. Waiting on the nightstand are Arthur and George, and The Bronte Project. Hmmmmmm, which to choose?

And now Favorite Foto Friday:

We arrived at the Lake on the 2nd of July, late. After a night of marshmallows, s'mores and laughter, I got up early the next morning and took my coffee out to the deck. This is what I saw---a glassy lake with a misty fog hanging over it. Later in the day the sun was shining brightly, we had twentysomethings jumping off the dock and the barbecue cookin'. But in the quiet of the morning.................there's just no better place to be :)

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Step away from the wheel....

Why is it that every time I start to feel good about the progress I'm making, the cosmic powers that be have to give me a whack? You might remember, that yesterday I had grand intentions of getting some more of the Romney I've been working on spun up. I was heading off to work on just that, when the baby alpaca on the Ashford wheel caught my attention, so (as you have guessed) I sat down and played with that for a bit. When I finally made it over to the Kromski, I was faced with a nearly full bobbin, so I finished it up and swapped to a new one, and that's where everything went kerflooie (technical term which means the same as 'south' or 'pear shaped' or 'wonky'). The roving was being jerked out of my hands, then breaking as I tried to pull it back through the orifice, the roving was breaking in my hands----everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and I was reaching critical mass (if you know what I mean). I adjusted the ratio, I adjusted the tension on the drive band--tighter then looser--I oiled everything that needs oil, all to no avail. Now I'm not a dumb person. I understood that since I now had a bobbin with nothing on it, that the radius was smaller and created the illusion that it was spinning faster. I reasoned that this would require an adjustment of some sort. I remember having gone through this very thing once before, after the wheel had gone camping. Trouble was, and here I must admit to being an ignoramus, I could not figure out the mechanics of what was going on, and make the necessary adjustment. So I did the only logical thing........I walked away from it. I hate the fact that I know so little about the mechanics of spinning that I can't solve my own #$%^& problems. Lucky for me I'm married to a rocket scientist (seriously), who in addition to being smart is also very handy and mechanically inclined. After dinner, it took him about 5 minutes to solve the problem. Today has been spent running between massage therapist and chiropractor. I swung by the library to check out a couple spinning books, so hopefully I'll be a little better prepared the next time the wheel gets fussy. I'm beginning to think that the little Ashford, even with its issues, may be the more consistent of the two. Tonight, I'm looking forward to the sofa, the TiVo and some knitting. More tomorrow :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We have a winner!

The entries are carefully placed in the cookie jar.........

Hubby's hand reaches in and mixes them well :)

He pulls out a winner....... .......the tension mounts........

Congratulations Kristin--of Yarn and Order. Stop by and check out her blog----if you hurry you still have time to enter her contest!

Assiduous will be our word this week for New Word Wednesday. Assiduous is and adjective which means marked by careful unremitting attention or persistent application. By way of example, I could say "a beginning lace knitter needs to give assiduous attention to their craft." Airport security personnel must screen passengers and baggage with assiduous scrutiny. The word is derived from the Latin verb assidere, which is translated as "to sit beside," "to take care of," or "to assist in the office of a judge."

Today, I have grand plans to finish mitten #1, and start a third bobbin of the Romney in progress. What are you paying assiduous attention to today?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What's new?

Sunday afternoon I met up with several of the gals who are now a part of Spinners with Altitude. My goal for the day was to get some beginners help in getting the Seraphim shawl onto needles. And I did it! 5 or 6 times, before I decided that lace is probably not group knitting (at least not for a lace newbie). I dropped yarn-overs, had markers slipping under yarn-overs and all kinds of difficulties getting going. Once home and re-focused, I cast on again, again having trouble keeping my stitches on the slippery addi turbos. Throwing caution to the wind, I located a pair of Lantern Moon straights, and I'm now happy to report 27 stitches on the needle.

Yesterday afternoon, after mentally tallying up all the things on needles and the things patiently waiting, I sat down to do some knitting. Having finished the socks and having not yet chosen a pattern for pair number three, faced with the infant shawl, I did the only logical thing.

I cast on a mitten. You may recognize this yarn as my handspun Merino/Silk---the first handspun to be worth knitting up. After knitting on it for a bit yesterday, I can tell you that it is quite fun to knit with something I, myself, have produced, but I still have a long way to go toward uniformity. For now, I'm pretending that I intended to produce a novelty yarn, and that great variability is exactly what I was after. Needless to say, they will be one of a kind mittens, and I'm hoping the recipient can appreciate their uniqueness :) I am continuing to get contest entries---ya'll should really read through the comments! At the very least, we have all gotten a better grip on just what we've got going, what is in the queue, and what we're dreaming about. I've checked out everybodies blog, those I could find anyway, and you people are awsome! So much talent out there, it's really amazing! You still have time to get your comments in, I'll close the contest at 7:00 pm Mountain Time.

Tune in tomorrow to see who will be getting this:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Contest....and other drama

Holy. Cow. I mean it....Holy Cow! My inbox has been filled with comments on the questions I posed last week, and I'm having a blast reading all your responses. Some of you have gone completely over the top----digging through closets and so forth to figure out exactly how many things you've got going (you know who you are). Others of you seem to have a really good handle on things. I had to laugh yesterday when Anne pulled out her PDA to "flash her stash!" Girl has all her yarn listed, organized, sorted by color, weight, content, whatever----and it's not an insignificant amount. So I guess it's time for me to 'fess up, huh? Okay, here goes: After finishing the second sock of my second Trekking pair yesterday, I now have Alex's Cambridge Jacket, and the Seraphim Shawl (in its infancy) active. On the bench (so to speak) is the soft pink alpaca beaded scarf (from camp), and wee beaded purse (also from camp), and a "magic loop" sock that is waiting to be frogged. I ususally have one "epic" project and one TV knitting project going at a time, but I often throw in something else to break up the monotony. On deck and ready to go are the mittens out of my first decent handspun, the third pair of trekking socks (in the pattern choosing stage) and another pair of clogs. But when we talk about the want to knit list, that's where it gets really scary. I have new patterns for a felted ballcap and a felted backpack that I'm itching to try. I have my next sweater chosen, but no swatching or yarn bought. Brad has finally expressed interest in a simple fair isle sweater from the recent issue of Interweave Knits, and I have been wanting to try a fair isle for myself. I have patterns for a felted hedgehog, a felted sheep, and a moebius bowl. There are just so many yummy choices and a limited amount of time. On the wheels (guess I should count them too, right?) I'm still spinning the Romney (on the Kromski) and the baby alpaca (on the Ashford). We're not going to talk about the fiber waiting its turn. All in all, I don't feel overwhelmed.....I guess I'm pretty comfortable having 3 or 4 things active, at a time. I think I start to feel stressed about it all when there is deadline knitting, which I swore off earlier this year---hard thing to do though, (I actually have a soft deadline for the mittens). There's still time to get your comments in before the deadline tomorrow----and don't forget, de-lurkers get entered twice :) In other news, I'm sad to report that Knitters With Altitude is no longer, having been disbanded by the founder. In its wake we now have Spinners with Altitude (name change to come), and Nameless Knitters. Time will tell how this will all play out, will there be a merging of the two new groups? Will we remain separate groups providing more opportunities to get together? Will Kara leave Joe and the conjoined triplets and fly off to Jamaica with the money she embezzled from the ice cream and car wash joint her stepmother owns? Stay tuned for the next episode of............geesh. Tomorrow, my new adventures in lace. (I apologize for the lack of photographic material---Blogger is being....well, Blogger)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Come out, Come out, wherever you are!

Man, I can't believe it is mid-August already. In my neighborhood the kids have gone back to school, classes have started at the Academy, and we're all gearing up for fall. If I think about it long enough, I'll put myself into full out panic mode over the upcoming season of giving, shall we say (I want to avoid the C word for a couple more months, okay?). My thoughts about the shawl are now leaning toward Seraphim, and I actually have the pattern in hand, and I might even get brave enough to cast it on over the weekend. My hesitation comes from the fact that I already have a couple things on the needles, and I've allowed the shawl to jump to the head of the long line of things on my want to knit list. I realize that it is a slippery slope indeed to give into the spirit of startitis, and I want to keep my works in progress manageable. So here are the questions of the day: How many active projects (things you've started in the last couple months and are actively working on) do you have going right now? How many WIP's are you comfortable having at any one time? How many is too many? And the bonus question if you are brave enough: How many things are on your "want to knit" list? Lets make it a CONTEST, shall we? Anybody who leaves their answers in the comments will be entered for a skein of (what I believe to be) handspun local yarn that I purchased while I was on vacation, (it's actually really yummy and I contemplated keeping in for myself). DOUBLE ENTRIES for anyone who "de-lurks" and leaves a comment for the first time. Let's cut this off by Tuesday the 15th. Got it? Good. I'll share my answers next week. Last night, I decided to have a little quality bonding time with the Ashford wheel I brought home from WA. It's a tricky little number; it's a wheel of unknown vintage and has just one ratio. Because it was missing its entire scotch tensioning mechanism and needed to be brought up to speed in that arena, the tensioning peg is not quite right. Brad and Emory fashioned one out of a piece of something they found in the barn, but it's a little "slippy." Plus, this is my first go with a wheel that isn't double drive. It treadles nicely, but is a little more "jerky" than my other wheel, so getting the proper rhythm has been tricksy. I had spun a little bit of garden variety wool on it, but last night I got into the baby alpaca that I've had for a bit.

The picture just doesn't do it justice---it's soft as butter and almost silver. Here's a what it's looking like so far. In the beginning I was having trouble getting enough twist, and now the trouble seems to be keeping consistency. I'm playing with the idea of purchasing the double drive kit and converting it over, hoping for more ratio options in the process. Any opinions? It may also be that I still haven't gotten used to the wheel itself, or that the fiber is particularly difficult, but I can't be sure. Time will tell I suppose.

In other news, we now have (thanks in part to this weeks kerfluffle) Spinners With Altitude, a spin-off (pun intended) of the knit group I've been going to: Knitters with Altitude. My buddy Ellen (the enabler), started the group this morning for those of us in the group who wish to venture into other fiber related areas without alienating any of the original group. I can't wait to see how it shapes up, we already have 6 members and more will be joining us, I have no doubt.

Okay, in honor of Favorite Foto Friday

(I have this terrible thought that I've already used this picture, but can't find it on a quick look)

Anyway, this is one of the more recognizable rock formations in Garden of the Gods Park, here in the Springs. It's called Kissing Camels, and I just happened to be there at the right time to get the moon rising over the rocks. Pretty, huh?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This is driving me crazy!

So I've been looking at lace patterns this morning----thanks to everybody who has sent encouragement and suggestions! The possibilities are endless! Many of you have mentioned the Leaf Lace Shawl, from Fibertrends, so I went to the website to see what it looks like. (go take a good look, I'll wait). I have seen this picture before. In a magazine. Recently. I even remember showing it to Brad, remarking that it was neat that they had so many size and weight options. Now, do you think I can find the magazine that I saw it in? Nope. I thought it might be Spin-off. Not. I've looked at the last to issues of Interweave Knits. Nada. I've hunted up the last issue of Creative Knitting. Nyet. Where the $%^* did I see this pattern??? ARRRRRRGH! Yesterday was a wash, knitting wise. Just after I fed the blog, feeling good about the new word and all, I was embroiled--shall we say---in a discussion in which I was totally misunderstood and accused of throwing a temper tantrum. After quite a bit of processing and reflection, I decided I needed to drop it completely, back away from the situation and not devote any more emotional energy to it. Coming to that decision was a logical process, but as with any emotionally charged situation, what you determine in your mind sometimes takes a while to over ride your emotional self. Needless to say, I had to occupy my brain with something else, and in this case, non-knitting related-----so I read. My friend Eva had loaned me (appropriate???) The Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer, a quick read, that for the most part redirected my brain. But all throughout the afternoon and evening, I found myself tearing up, and feeling sorry for myself. I'm sure many of you can relate---even though you tell yourself to stop being so emotional, that you have no reason to be upset, and even can't remember why you're upset in the first place, getting your emotions to cooperated can be exhausting. I'm chalking it all up to f-ing hormones. I got a bit done on the sock last night while watching TV---have any of you been sucked into America's Got Talent? I have to admit, I'm not much for reality TV, we have enough reality for petes sake, I watch TV to escape reality (with the exception of the news). But a few weeks ago, while we were on vacation, we caught an episode of AGT, and I was completely sucked in. It does beg the question though---what's up with these rude English blokes?? That Simon dude from Idol, and now Piers....could they possibly be any more offensive? Geesh. Today, it appears, will be a good knitting day---there is wall to wall coverage of the terrorist arrests on the cable news channels, and being the news junkie I am, I could probably sit on the sofa and knit all day......... ........which is precisely what I plan to do, if I can figure out what to cook for dinner and put off a trip to the grocery store.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It's all Greek to me :)

Thanks to all of you who have weighed in regarding my foray into lace. After reading through the IK articles on knitting lace, perusing all my back issues of IK and looking over the patterns I had downloaded, I've narrowed it down to Fir Cone or Icarus. Maybe. I don't know!!! It's a hard choice! I was leaning toward Icarus, when I read this last night. Crap, I thought. If the Harlot is having trouble..... I haven't seen a copy of the Flower Basket Shawl or the Leaf Lace Shawl spoken of in the comments (as luck would have it, I have IK Summer 2004 and Winter 2004, but not the issue containing Flower Basket). Kiri still intrigues me....... A special shout to those of you who came out of hiding to comment; you know who you are! I'm still amazed that there are so many of you out there! Keep you suggestions coming! Back to New Word Wednesday. Today, let's explore a quintessential Black Sheep word: heterodox. This is an adjective that mean 1: unorthodox, unconventional 2: holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines. As with it's antonym orthodox, it developed from the same Greek root word doxa which means opinion. Paired with heter-, it means "different" or "other" while the prefix orth- means "correct" or "straight." William Warburton, and 18th century bishop was quoted as saying "Orthodoxy......is my doxy----heterodoxy is another man's doxy." I think, that while Bishop Warburton may have had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, he was revealing his true thoughts---my opinions are right, correct and true. If you disagree, you are being heterodox. Much as we like to think we're tolerant and open minded, don't we fall into this same mindset, from time to time? How many of you have heard it said "well, there's my way or the wrong way?" We once left a church and were told by our friends that they would no longer fellowship with us because, in effect, we were doing it wrong. I could go on and on with examples, I'm sure you could too. I think the lesson here (as if we need one), is that everybody thinks their doxa is orth, and just because someone else's opinion may be heter doesn't necessarily mean they are wrong. (In some circles even that thought is heterodoxy---yikes). And now I'm off to do a little tidying up and get down to some spinning and/or knitting. Make it a great day!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Suggestions, please

Some of you may remember that my knitting adventures began with socks (yeah, not my smartest move, but there you have it). Since then, I've done sweaters and scarves, mittens and hats; I've felted, done cables, a bit of intarsia, some fair isle and dabbled with beads. What's left? Lace. Until this last weekend, the thought of lace was just a fleeting fancy in the back of my mind. A couple years ago at camp, I watched an amazing parade of knitted lace go by during "show and tell" thinking all the while I'm never going to do that, I don't have the patience for thousands of edge stitches----besides, what would I do with that? Oddly, over the last few months, my thought towards knitting lace have mellowed somewhat, and during vacation, I actually looked for (didn't find) some souvenir laceweight to bring home. But the tipping point was actualized on Saturday, when this came through my front door:

2480 yards of handpainted alpaca laceweight, from Christy's dye room. Every time I walk by it (no, it's not hiding in the stash---it's sitting on the kitchen counter---DUH), I can't resist petting it. Here's the problem, and where you come in: I haven't the slightest clue how to do it. Seriously. Oh I can choose a pattern, I've decided I want a generous triangular shawl; I printed three different patterns off the internet last night, (The Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl, The Kiri Shawl and Fir Cone Triangular Shawl), but the directions don't make sense to me. I can figure out the what, but not the how. I'm beginning to think I'm really in trouble. How can it be this tricky? What am I missing??? Do any of you have a suggestion for a triangular shawl written in a straight forward manner, such that the newbie lace knitter can muddle through without losing her mind? Until then, work is progressing on the second Trekking sock of pair number two, (I'm in the midst of gusset decreases), and the sleeve of the Cambridge. Also, in the infant planning stages is a pair of kilt hose for Brett. My list of projects that want to be made just keeps getting longer and longer!

And so I'm off to do some reading, specifically the articles on knitting lace from the last two issues of Interweave. If I'm not back tomorrow, send in the dogs.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A fibery weekend, indeed!

Today, my mind is going at warp speed in a thousand (okay maybe not a thousand, but certainly a dozen) different directions, and I'm really having a tough time figuring out where to start. I guess we'll just start at Saturday morning and see where we end up.

Saturday morning the girls from Knitters with Altitude came over for our first ever Spin-In. There were wheels and fiber everywhere! Anne was spinning Samoyed on a Schacht wheel, Christy was working on some llama/silk (I believe) on her Ashford Joy, Linda spun up a storm on her new Majacraft Suzie, and I worked away on my Romney.

Christy spun some hand painted silk caps, while Phoebe worked on refining her technique.

Kirsten spun for the first time!

.....and so did Leisel, both using the little Ashford I brought home from Washington. Both

Kirsten and Leisel did fabulously well, and I couldn't help feeling a bit jealous, since I struggled so in the beginning.

Just as we were heading off to bed, Brad decided (for some unknown reason) to try his hand at spinning. Now my dear hubby is a handy guy, good at building things and fixin' stuff, but I was completely gobsmacked when he sat down at the Ashford and did this:

So. Not. Fair.

Saturday also brought roving---great heaping piles of CRAP roving. It is so unspeakably bad that a photo would not begin to do it justice. What began as a long stapled merino with beautiful crimp, came back to us as fluff. There isn't a single piece that has fibers longer than an inch, and it is completely full of neps. When one tries to draft it, it simply falls apart; spinning it is just not going to happen. I tried knitting the roving on big needles----nope. And so, we're looking for suggestions......how can we turn horrible rotton lemons into lemonade? One thought is to felt the roving slightly, braid it and then felt it fully so we can sew it into rugs, seat cushions etc. Phoebe suggested stuffing toys with it. Truly, if you have an idea, I'd love to hear it.

Sunday, I finished Emory's clogs, although I've left the magic of felting to him. Then it was time to bring out Alex's Cambridge Jacket. Here's where it got a little scary; I couldn't determine where I'd left off, couldn't remember what size I was making----nothin'. So I did the unthinkable and frogged the sleeve in progress and cast it on again---after a phone call to Alex to discuss size. After 3 hours of football, I'm here:

I love football season, and so I was thrilled to discover that yesterday was the preseason kick-off. Football goes so well with knitting, particularly in the fall as the weather turns cooler; the fire is going, I've got my WIP and I'm set to spend countless hours in front of the tube. With all the replays, I don't even have to worry about missing something important (plus I've got TiVo---love that!).

And lastly----remember when I mentioned a while back that some swallows were scoping out my front porch as a possible nesting site? Building has commenced. Just now. This last week. In August.

What's up with that? Are they getting a jump on next year? Are they late bloomers? Did they lose their calendar?

Go figure.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Final Vacation Wrap-Up (aren't you glad??)

I'm almost hesitant to do this, given the bad karma swirling around Blogger, but I figure I need to at least try and get a photo up----it's Friday after all.

Welcome to Lassen Volcanic National Park. This pretty little stream runs past the visitors center, where we stopped to get our bearings and figure out what we wanted to see. Brad and I thought this stone was reminiscent of a burl of wood, and oh so pretty. You'd have been proud of me, standing there on a rock in the middle of the stream snapping this shot-----I didn't even get wet :)

Lassen is an interesting spot, and one of the National Parks we had never been to, despite numerous trips between Sacramento and Southern Oregon in the early 80's. The last eruption was sometime around 1920, but you can see evidence of volcanic activity all around the park and it's probably only a matter of time before it blows again.

Here's a shot or two of the mountain.....

.......from near the visitors center........

........................and from further up the road. The road through the park is only open for a short time during the summer; there was still significant snow at the top (feet, not inches) though the road was clear. Check it out!

From Lassen, we went to Reno, from Reno we drove The Loneliest Highway in the World, Hwy 50; checked out Great Basin National Park, and ended up in Southern Utah in a tiny little town called Salina. After securing a room at the Lone Star Motel, we had a bite at Mom's Cafe before turning in.

Next day we were in the homestretch. We had lunch with Brad's uncle Brad (and Carol) and then made our way through Aspen and Independence Pass. Again, this road is only open for a short time over the summer, the elevation at the summit is over 12,000 feet. The views are spectacular....

Even the sock took a peek :) --though was not much knitting going on while we traversed the narrow, winding road.

After driving through a mother of a hailstorm (can I say that?), we finally made it home. Right about 4500 miles over 23 days.

I'm quite glad to be home again, finally. My doggies and my spinning wheel(s) have missed me, and I have missed my long quiet days, and my bed.

Tomorrow is a big day here at Black Sheep Central---the KWA girls will be bringing wheels and fiber and all things knitty as we have our first ever spin-in. I can hardly wait!! I'm wondering how many converts we will have by days end. I'll also be collecting my "share" of the merino, back from the processor, which I'm hearing is not as wonderful as we had hoped. I'll let ya'll know next week.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

What day is it??

I am so tired I can barely think straight, so I will just apologize here and now for whatever is sure to not make sense (did that make sense??) Anyway, I got home last night around 9, and tucked myself into bed shortly thereafter. I don't know what it is about flying, you wouldn't think it would be so tiring, but every time I fly, I'm exhausted at the end of the trip. My dear hubby, who used to fly all the time, thinks it has to do with the vibration of the airplane----works for me. As is the case with most quick trips, it was packed full of comings and goings. Since I already briefed you on the events of Thursday and Friday, I'll start with the picnic on Saturday. Good. Fun. I think I mentioned not long ago that the little cabin at the lake has been in the family a very long time (it is now owned by my father in law). For as long as I can remember, the family picnic has been held on the weekend closest to the 17th of July (Grandma Thompson's birthday), there at the cabin. This year, the date was shifted to accommodate Brad's uncle's 50th birthday---he's the youngest of the family of nine children, (Grandma Thompson was a saint). We had about 55 people there at the lake, in not so nice weather. We even had a group from Texas. The last weekend in July is always the Scottish Highland Games, at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw. For the last 4 years I have gone, with Brett---the first year for just one day, the second for both days and for the last two years, Brett and the gang have been there for the duration, camping. Our first 3 years were 'bake your brains' hot. This year it was chilly and rainy. Mount Rainier, usually big and beautiful, was obscured by clouds and yuck. My mom had never been to the games, so we went for just the afternoon, meeting up with the kids in the beer garden (there's a big surprise). The entertainment was as good as it always is, even though my favorite group "Tempest" was absent. The day ends with a massing of the bands, probably my favorite part. That evening, Mom and I, the boys, plus Evan, got together for dinner. Monday---lunch down by the lighthouse, then drinks with Brett in the evening. Tuesday. Another trip to Seattle, this time to see my Mom's cousin who had had a stroke, the same day my aunt had died (odd that). We also took a spin through the Frye Museum (one of my favorite FREE things to do in the city). We had lunch at The Spaghetti Factory, and then went to another of my favorite yarn stores, Hilltop Yarn. Love. This. Store. It is situated in what was once a Craftsman style mansion on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. Each room is filled with yummy yarns, a small alcove invites you to sink into the wingback chairs and peruse the patterns and books. There are chairs on the front porch, should you wish to sit and knit a spell. I have always felt welcome in this shop---and you can't always say that. Plus, the architecture is still intact, all the wonderful 'built-ins' are still there; rich woods and leaded glass cabinets, each filled with fiber; the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen overflow with chunky wool. It is a wonderful treat for the senses---and good shopping too. Wednesday was travel day---Alex and Evan drove me to the airport, stopping for lunch with Brett along the way. Seattle to Salt Lake (hi, Margene!) Salt Lake to Colorado Springs. And now, here I am, with unpacking to finish, housework to catch up on and more laundry to do. I have an appointment with my back cracker this afternoon, though I'm seriously considering rescheduling it and just staying home---I'd like nothing better than to lay on the sofa and finish Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (thanks Lorinda!). And yes, in case you're wondering, knit happened. I finished up sock one of the second Trekking pair, and started sock two. Unfortunately, there was a trip to the frogpond, and I'm still working my out of that bit of negative progress. I must not be too sick of socks yet, because I'm already thinking of the next pair. ......and now, I think I need another cup of coffee. Blogger is again having difficulties honoring my request to load pictures---hopefully I will be able to add them later today.