Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Oops, I tripped.

Mostly I've been very good about working on one knitting project at a time (a post on how I acquired this abnormal habit soon) . . . but this morning I fell down and started this bag from stash. Glad you've been below 100, Alene, whew. Cindy

Sunday, September 23, 2007

DH's new instrument

Hi Cindy,

Hope your weekend was nice. Colors changing yet? We've been so happy to be under 100 for most of the last week, fall must be here ;)

As you can see the picture is not a spinning wheel. DH broke down on Thursday and had to buy a cheap, practice mandolin. It sounds pretty nice and he'd learning to play it pretty well. His fingers are sore from practice.

While I did not get a wheel before he got his mandolin, we did stop by the store right afterwards so that we could look at them. I have it narrowed down to either the Kromski Minstral or the Ashford Traveler. DH is promising one as soon as he gets his payout from the county, starts his new job and gets his first check. The debate now is whether to by it from Fiber Factory or buy it online. Prices are about the same, it just depends how quickly I want it and what each dealer offers (wool, niddy noddy, etc?).

I made a slight alteration to Margi's sweater the other day. I added about an inch of 2x2 ribbing on the bottom edge to make it lay flat. It now looks better, more like a sweater and less like a dress. Teddy decided to get in on the act. Actually we just put it on him and he rolled around in it, trying to get out of it and looking cute. Margi had to ask him if he was enjoying it.

I started a kitty pi bed the other day. It is based on the Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmerman and can be found at Wendy Knits. It is one of the first patterns I found online when I started knitting. Can you believe it has only been 2 years this coming week-next Saturday I believe. Margi loves to sit in my lap in this chair, whether I'm knitting or reading (just started Deathly Hallows again). She curls up and purrs away. I am using a soy silk-wool blend by Patons. I believe it is called Cabbage Rose. I also have 2 skeins of a blue mix that I might use for one for Teddy.

Well, it's time to head to bed so I can get up for work tomorrow. DH was bugging me to stay home a few more days but there's projects that I have to get done this week.

Happy Knitting,

Friday, September 21, 2007

Those creative & inspiring twisted sisters

Here's my Farli doing a little light reading. ;)

Gardening books because I'm reading up on blueberries; ours haven't been doing so well and are getting a new raised "lasagna" bed of their own.

The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook and The Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters because I really like Lynne Vogel's books and beautiful spinning. I want to make a rectangle vest from the Sweaters book on my Bond sweater machine with stash yarn. I was hoping to have enough handspun for the whole thing but what goes well together isn't close enough in gauge. . .hmm, the hazard of spinning with nothing in mind. :) Back to the stash I go. Bye for now, Cindy

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cat Sweater and another FO

Hi Cindy,

Well, looks like we won't go anywhere this week. We've spent the last two days working on house stuff and there's plenty more that could keep us busy for weeks. Today we tackled the front yard a little and then tried to replace the shut-off valve on the master bath toilet. We ended up calling a plumber for that and he still had problems with it. The nut was seized so tight it ended up breaking off on him. The same guy showed up that fixed our slab leak back in February. He's really knowledgeable and helpful. He showed DH exactly what was wrong and how to fix it on the others.

As you may have figured out from the last brief post I finished the sweater over the weekend. We set up the photo shoot on the bed and got her all ready. It wasn't too hard to get it on, the head was big enough it just went over. It took her about 2 seconds to strip it off. She dropped and rolled. While rolling she brought a back foot up and just peeled off the sweater. It was hilarious to watch. We want to do it again but try to film it this time.

After she had it removed she had to express her opinion of the sweater by attacking it. You can tell by the demon-y eyes that she's possessed. Actually it was just a little bit of kitty frustration. It is amazing how when we mess with any of them they have to show the object that we put on them just who is boss.

I have another quick FO to show off. I knit it over the weekend and wanted to get it felted in time to take to work on Monday but no such luck. I felted it yesterday and it will have to go in with me when I go back on Monday. It is a business card holder. It is mostly the ramboulette that I spun up in class this summer. I started following a pattern for a small knit back but then added the increases along the edge to give it the scalloped effect. The last half round and the bind-off were in a little bit of Noro Silk Garden. There was enough wool in it (55%) to felt just fine. I'm thinking I might try a pencil holder next.

Guess I should close this up and get off to bed. We've got plenty more work to do tomorrow. My old boss is coming by to pick up an old stereo that DH's uncle bought in Viet Nam 35+ years ago.

Happy Knitting! A

Monday, September 17, 2007

A hint of things to come

Hi Cindy,

Just a teaser on the sweater. I finished it Saturday morning and Mags had to check it out.
More later, A

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Evil Critters

Hi Cindy,

About two months ago I had a horrid discovery that only now am I able to speak of. While shopping the stash early one Tuesday morning before starting my telecommute day I discovered that some evil litter vermin had invaded one of my plastic boxes full of wool yarns. I had about 8 skeins of Mango Moon bought on sale, a couple of sale skeins of Noro and the churro yarn I bought last fall when I got the one for you. I believe that it was the last one that was the culprit.

I immediately Googled a solution to my dilemma of how to eradicate the little demons. The two solutions I found was to freeze the little buggers out or to cook them and wash them away. Since we only have a small freezer in out side-by-side fridge it was going to have to be the latter. Into the oven they would go at about 200 degrees for at least half an hour. I think it actually turned out to be longer than that. Then it was into the bath tub to wash away the dead larvae and any remaining eggs.

On a hot day it didn't take too long for the skeins to dry. Everything looked great except the churro yarn. It had been a lovely pink variation from prickly pear dye. Afterwards it was a dull pinkish gray (the picture at right is wetted prior to new dying). Most of the pink had washed away. The dye must not have been properly set. I was bummed about the color and pretty peeved that the once pretty yarn had infected the other yarns. I put it all away and thought about it for a couple weeks.

Over Labor Day weekend I decided to attack the Mango Moon skeins and wind them into balls. They still looked fine and showed no hint of further infection. I had already balled the Noro and it is part of the stash designated for the Log Cabin Blanket. No problems with that so far either.

Now what to do about the churro yarn? Ideally it should be dyed again with a traditional dye but I don't have access to any prickly pears and haven't yet experimented with natural dyes. In fact right now the only dye in the house is some black RIT dye DH wants me to use on an old pair of climbing pants. I did buy some unsweetened mexican kool-aid last year in the hopes of experimenting with it. I chose four flavors/colors to use: grape, black cherry, raspberry and strawberry. They made a nice progression from pink to purple.

I used a variation on painting the yarn. Actually I just quartered off the yarn and worked the kool-aid into each section. I then processed it in the microwave-heat 2 minutes, set 2 minutes and heat 2 more minutes. I then allowed it to cool and rinsed it out. The process must have worked like it was supposed to because no color came out in the rinse. I then hung it outside to dry. It was still wet in the picture but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I will wind it into a ball in the next few days and then decide how to use it. I'm thinking a felted bowl, much like you made with your churro may be a good option. Either that or the start of a kitty pi. Any suggestions?

I finished Margi's sweater today. We haven't tried it on yet, we're going to do a photo shoot tomorrow. I think she knows it's hers though.

Take care, A

WSWF, part 2

Dear Alene, hope you've had a good week. We have been slowly settling into the back to school groove with the distractions of harvest time: 1st frost last night, goodbye mosquitoes, 80's in a few days :o

Last Saturday I took a 6-hour class called Spinning For Mittens taught by Carol Rhoades (you may have seen her stuff in Spin-Off). It was a great class. My Louet (the solid disk of wood behind the orange chair at left) and I and about 11 other students covered a lot of interesting material. I was accustomed to spinning with a short backward draw almost always. Carol got us started on spinning woolen (with a long draw) and wow, was that fun. I need to practice of course, but that'll be fun too because she also taught us how to use handcards with a light touch to get lovely lofty rolags and lofty yarn too!

After lunch we briefly covered spinning worsted (most of us had previously been doing that) and then spent some time experimenting with different wools and fibers (camel, silk, etc.) to see which properties of a mitten we could achieve (softness, durability, etc). We also learned about spinning yarn of different thicknesses; all of this I can apply beyond mittens as you can see.

One thing I was delighted to discover was that my Louet has a bigger range of capability than I had anticipated. I could spin quite thin, my typical medium, and wonderfully thick by adjusting my spinning technique and my wheel. You can see some of Carol's example mittens and fingerless mitts at the top of the post. Hand warmers of all types will be good small projects to play with, since I love them anyway, and hats too. Someday perhaps (gulp) a whole sweater of handspun.

I had read online that Louet bobbins fit in Schacht's tensioned lazy kate and confirmed this on a classmate's equipment. More recently I saw in the plying article in the Fall knitty that there's a cheap way to make one myself and I think I have most of the parts already. This is good, more $ saved to spend later on fiber :D Have you seen the fall Knitty yet? What's your fave thing? Cindy

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Use for Fun Fur

Hi Cindy!

I can't believe it's been over a week since I last posted. Guess time flies. Looks like you had a good time at the wool festival. I'm envious.

If you looked at my comment the other day and the associated blog you may have guessed that I'm working on a cat sweater. Crazy Aunt Purl is having a contest to celebrate the launch of her first book. Margi has agreed to be the guinea pig for this little experiment. I got her approval on my yarn selections. She really likes the wool blend that will be the body of the sweater and even appreciates the fun fur that will trim the neck and sleeves. She even agreed to early fittings and purred her head off the entire time.

I debated how to construct the sweater. Make it like a tube but with arm holes? That would mean a lot of back-and-forth knitting without being able to take advantage of the knitting in the round. So I decided to knit the arm area first rather like a key-hole scarf but with key holes at each end where the arms would be. I then used a three needle bind-off to close the tube and picked up first for the neck line and then for the lower body.

I am down to the last arm. I just started it but I should finish it tomorrow evening and then just have to weave in the ends. DH and I both think that she will actually like the sweater and may even wear it willingly. Every time I pull it out to work on she comes around to investigate, almost as if she knows it's for her.

On Sunday we went to the opening of the Tempe Center for the Arts. It is up at Tempe Town Lake. They had a free open house with short performances and such. It is located on the south back of the river at the west end of the lake, right near the dam. It is located right under the flight path for Sky Harbor so there are constantly planes over head. They had a specially designed roof system that actually blocks the noise of the planes. We were in the Lakeside room listening to a QA sessions with the architects and you could watch the planes flying overhead and not hear them at all. There is a small theater inside as well as a Gallery space and a Studio space. Each room is actually it's own small building and they are all clustered under a larger roof structure that helps cut the noise and keep the building cool. The roof line is actually designed to mimic the nearby mountain. On the lake side they have built a shallow reflecting pool with a negative edge. From inside the building it is just a clear vista out toward the lake (and the train bridge and the light rail bridge and the freeway....)

DH is counting the hours down until he is done with his current office. He is planning on working the rest of the week. Next week we may take a trip somewhere and then he'll take a few more days around the house. He starts his new job two weeks from tomorrow on the 27th.

Guess I should close this up. Next time maybe I'll have a FO to show you. And I've got a story about moths, churro wool and dying.

Take care, A

WSWF classes, part 1

Hi Alene! Last Friday I took a 6-hr. class called The Shepherd's Rug. We learned how to make a braided rug from roving. Class project was a circular chair pad. In the morning we worked on the braiding part. I liked that you need minimal prep (don't need to cut fabric strips and sew them together before braiding) because making a quilt taught me that fabric cutting is not the fun part. Over lunch they took our braids to the laundromat and felted and dried them. After lunch, we learned about sewing them together and the correct knots to use so they will last.

I brought Rainbow Fleece Farm (New Glarus) roving from my stash that hadn't magically turned itself into a sweater yet and used that for my classwork, which I may use as the middle of a small rug instead of a chair pad. I braided up all that I brought along but didn't get it all sewn. This technique would make nice table mats with thinner braids.

Sorry my pics aren't too good; the light wasn't great and my camera doesn't seem to be true to color indoors. Here's mine so far.
Tomorrow, a post on my spinning class. :) Cindy

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We interrupt this wooly life . . .

. . . to bring you a sheepless FO!! Despite the binding being crappy for several reasons (although it does pass the galloping horse test), I really like it! We now return to regularly scheduled programming.

Sheep and wool

Can't get this to format the way I want but here they are anyway. I am almost done with the quilt on a borrowed sewing machine because mine needs to be fixed (sigh). Since I plan September as a month off handknitting projects, that'll leave me with spinnig and blogging and machine knitting 'til I fix the sewing machine. Darn ;) Cindy

Monday, September 10, 2007

What a week!

Dear Alene, hope all is well. We had a good 1st week of school. Hints of autumn are here, and the festival was GREAT! Detailed posts on that soon. For today, here are after and before pics of a Pluckyfluff-inspired yarn I did before the festival, the squash patch that may eat my home, and the 1st tree near me to start turning (helped this year by the July drought). ciao, Cindy

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Hi Cindy,

The Mirasol project sounds pretty interesting. I'll have to see if any of the yarn stores around here carries the line. Peru sounds like a pretty and interesting visit. DH and I have talked about some day going there. A guy we've worked with from National Park Service has climbed to Machu Picchu from the village below.

A supervisor that we used to have did a five year stint at one of the mining companies in Southern Peru. He was in the area where the big earthquake hit last month. He was my supervisor when I started at MI but after two years as a bureaucrat he had to get back to real mining. After 5 years in South America his wife was tired and ready to come back to the states. He stayed another 4 years at MI but got left when the big boss got even more crooked than he'd ever been before. This little hat wall hanging was one of the things he gave us for our wedding. Notice the spindle and the mining pick on the bottom.

He is now a mining supervisor at the MolyCorp mine in Questa, New Mexico. He and his wife live just north of Taos. There is a wool festival there the first weekend in October that I'd love to go to. I'm sure they'd welcome us and he's already offered sightseeing any time we get over that way. He's also always good for a job reference. In fact he's the one that sealed the deal last year for DH at his current job and I'm sure he's given him another good reference (or a couple) this year too.

Isn't this llama just too cute? He brought this back from his last trip to Peru in 2002. He got to visit Machu Picchu and did a lot of sightseeing on that trip.

A little more information has come out about the mine where the girl died. The survivor is doing better. The mine is called Brighter Days Mine. DH was there in May 1997 although his field partner wrote the report. He and I inventoried two mines nearby in February that year, the Lucky Boy and the Samoa mines. The whole area was scary just being on the roads and to venture off them is incredibly dangerous. It looks like the mine is probably on a mining patent in an area of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The new mine inspector is talking like he wants to fill in all the abandoned mines in the state. We used to estimate 100,000 of them. At 20K-50K per mine that comes out incredibly expensive. In all the time I worked there we probably spent 250K on safeguarding mines. The bulk of that went for a couple of big projects and the rest went for smaller fencing jobs. Education is the best bet. These girls lived in a small town 20 miles north of Chloride. Most of the people in Chloride and other mining towns know the dangers but those who don't live near them don't realize what can happen. At least the new mine inspector isn't grandstanding on these poor girls' misfortunes. The old one would have; he used to love the publicity.

How was DS's first day?

More later, A

Mirasol Project

Hi Alene, have you heard of the Mirasol Project? It's a new yarn project that is fair trade and also benefits native herding families in Peru. The Sow's Ear is THE shop in our area to carry these 4 gorgeous yarn lines. All natural fiber yarns and in the medium to bulky gauges that are my favorite!! I bought the first pattern book which has a lot of nice projects in it and plan to do one of them after I finish Cactus Blossom. The cotton/wool blend yarn would be the one to tempt someone in a warm climate; it is soft and pretty and has a great feel (not so heavy as cotton yarns are sometimes). Check it out! :)

I thought of you and K immediately when I saw tho Yahoo headline about the aband. mine death but didn't know any details. Also didn't know about the past deaths here but it is really not on our radar screens in WI, so I am not surprised either.

Your house is looking great. DS is excited about school, and I imagine a bit nervous but nothing like last year. DD has been dreaming a lot and waking in the night; even with DH and I taking turns, we had a tired weekend. All our August rain led to the worst skeeter crop in years--yikes! They especially love DD's sweet young blood, poor dear. Bye for now, Cindy

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

Hi Cindy!

Is your DS excited and nervous about starting First Grade? Good luck to him, I'm sure he'll do fine ;)

I was reminded yesterday of exactly how thankful I am that I no longer work at the Mine Inspector's Office. If I were still there, or if DH had gone back, one or both of us would have been on the road to Kingman yesterday.

On Saturday two girls were off-roading with their father in the mountains north of there and east of Chloride. The hills are filled with very dangerous abandoned mines. We inventoried that area between 1995 and 1997. In the dozen or so sections that we traversed we assessed well over 500 abandoned mines. Some were fairly shallow but several that were scary deep. Unfortunately these two girls drove into one of them and fell 125 feet. The older girl was killed but the younger girl was found Sunday morning in the bottom of the shaft. She was airlifted to Las Vegas where she's in critical shape.

As far as I know, and according to MSHA, this is the first abandoned mine fatality in Arizona this year. It is not the first one nationally though. There have been at least 24 other people die this year. Most are drownings in old quarries but there have been numerous falls into shafts. In the last 8 years more people have actually died in your fair state than have died here in abandoned mines. The worst state though is probably Pennsylvania. They have two or three deaths every year.

With the long weekend we did get some of the house pulled back together. Here is a start on the front room. We got the books back on the book shelf after this picture (you can see the edge of it in the mirror, right next to the lamp. As you can see the carpet goes pretty well with the new paint. It is starting to look like a real room. Just got to find a new home for the piano.

I'll finish this off with a silly picture of Margaret. We went to Ikea this morning and got a set of small table lamps. We then tossed the set of cat balls into it and she had a blast playing with them and trying to crawl into the box. She barely fit. Teddy also had to check out the box but he didn't fit at all.

We finally stayed below 110 today, it was 109. Hopefully that's the end of it.

More soon, Take care, A