Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Hi Cindy!

The sweater looks great! I love the colors. I am still chicken where colorwork is involved. Stripes I can do but Fair Isle and Intarsia freak me out. And steeking on top of that? Yow! Of course you've been knitting 25 or more years longer than I have so I'm sure you are fearless with your knitting. I aspire to fearlessness but have come no where near it.

DH ordered my birthday present Monday night. He ended up ordering from the Woolery. The price is slightly higher than the local shop but it does come with extras and by the time you add on Mesa city tax it would come out more to buy it locally. I'm also getting the pound of wool and a niddy noddy with it. The wool shipped out yesterday but no word yet on the wheel. Hopefully it will get here before Christmas.

Last night was the last spinning class. I started working on the bombyx top like I sent you. My color is Primrose. It is coming out really nice. I'm still getting a little of the thick and thin but not like when I first started. I think I like it a little more than the hankies, although both are pretty nice.

The other woman in the class ordered a new Ashford Traveler from the store the other day. When she started the class she was convinced that she wanted the Majacraft Rose. Last week she tried the Ashford and really liked it. The Rose kept having troubles with the drive band slipping off. And it is a couple of hundred dollars more than the Traveler.

I'm a little envious of the snow you had last week. It looks like fun. We've been cooler the last couple of days and they are predicting rain for Friday and Saturday. It will be the first storm of the "winter" season if it actually delivers. Of course the way the weather forecasters have been talking it up means we'll probably be sunny all weekend.

DH has his big 3 day retreat this weekend with their Roshi this weekend. It runs from 3:30 am to 8:30 pm Friday and Saturday and then 3:30 am to 5:30 pm on Sunday. He wants me to drive him there and pick him up each day. I'm taking Friday off from work because I don't think I'd be able to get up before 3 to take him and then make it into work. I'm going to spend the 3 days on creative stuff and decorating the house and Christmas tree. I might try to do some touch-up paint on base boards at some poin. I'm going to make a push to finish DH's socks too. I'm almost done with the gusset increases so it is time to turn the heel and start up the leg. He wanted to wear them this weekend but I doubt that will happen unless he wants them as anklets on Sunday.

More soon, A

Knitting surgery

Hi Alene, here's an update on my Cactus Blossom sweater. The pattern is in the fall '07 knitscene magazine, but I made mine from the top down (an example of swatch avoidance). I used Cascade 220 Quatro for the main color and experimental variegated handspun (more green than my dig. camera is showing) for the contrast color. I did the yoke by hand and then made the plain stockinette parts at the some gauge on my Bond knitting machine. Then I grafted them onto the handknit parts with some knitting surgery I feel pretty smug about.

Knitting machines have a steep learning curve but once past it's easy to quickly turn out plain old st st. Other stitches, not so fast, and there's more finishing in most cases. When I first started machine knitting I wasn't sure how to answer people who asked "did you make that?" Of course I had but they assumed it was hand work. Sometimes I explained but that didn't feel right either. It still takes learning and thinking and creativity. It's not about speed for me: I enjoy machine knitting and like to give my body a change of activity. Now I only distinguish between machine and hand if it's a chance to show what knitting machines can do or to the genuinely curious. Should our little blog have readers who think it's cheating, I'll put on this surgery project and challenge them to a Chibi duel!

The next step for Cactus Blossom? graft on the sleeves (body in done) and then a bit more surgery because I've decided it needs to be a cardigan! Hope all is well in AZ. More soon, C

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Plans and daydreams

Good morning Alene! I'm off to give blood in about an hour. We are having a chilly but nice weekend. Progress report soon with pictures of Cactus Blossom. I'm going to make that cardigan one of these days but probably out of millspun yarn, maybe Peace Fleece.
I'm just to eager to try out some things with my spinning, especially stuff that I learned at WSWF and things I've been reading about, to try to make a large amount of yarn of one color right now. I think it would be fun to make a bunch of smaller projects out of the spinning experiments and maybe even get back to some rug hooking. I learned about "traditional" rug hooking with yarn (instead of fabric strips) from an article by Judy Taylor in Spin-Off a few years ago and have done some reading on it. There's a display of them now at my LYS so that's got me thinking about them. I've made 2 very small wall hangings, one to try it out and one as a gift for K. I could use another vest so that's an idea too. As you can see, I have lots of fun playing around with ideas before I ever start one (us odd ducks have lots of imaginary UFOs). Hope all is well. C

Friday, November 23, 2007


Hope you had a grand Thanksgiving Day, Alene!

Here's what it looked like here. A bit of snow that fell Wednesday evening and is still on the ground. Good enough for playing in despite its meager amount! We had friends over (K the woman of honor from our wedding and her DH) and had a nice time. Even though DD was still a bit under the weather and DS had a burr under his saddle for some reason, most of the day was very nice and got me reflecting on the many things I have to be grateful for.

More soon on the status of Cactus Flower and future crafty things I'm contemplating, Love, Cindy

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cat Sweaters Galore!

Hi Cindy,

Teddy is a little bummed. Crazy Aunt Purl announced the winners of the cat sweater contest today. Unfortunately we didn't win but if you take a look at all the sweaters submitted you'll get an idea of how much competition there was. Additionally she is having another contest, one of the prizes is a trip to California for two.

Thanksgiving preps are coming along well. We got a good bounty in the co-op basket this week. My turkey is already thawing. I work tomorrow and then have spinning class tomorrow night. I'm taking off the rest of the week. Wednesday will be for finishing off cleaning and starting cooking. Probably just pumpkin pie and some baked good for Friday morning breakfast. DH's parents are down Thursday morning and will stay at least over night.

We tied yet another record high temperature today, 88. It shouldn't be this warm this late in the year. But the record that today tied was just set last year so it isn't like this is something new. It was hot this week last year but cooled off right around Thanksgiving. We were doing field work in Wickenburg last year at the end of November and we had several days of freezing weather. One of the places we visited last year during field work had a fountain out front and it was still frozen over at 2 pm so you can imagine how cold it was. We are supposed to be cooling off toward the end of the week, just not that cold.

Peruse the sweaters and get a good laugh from them! Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Solar Dying Class

Hi Cindy,

The solar dying class went well last Saturday although the day dawned a little cloudy. Not to bad, just enough to be a slight concern. There ended up being just two of us in the class. A third woman had signed up but then had to cancel due to family obligations. The instructor was the same one that's been teaching my spinning classes too. She is from Montreal and has lived in the valley about 10 years. Most of the time you can't hear her accent but occasionally you'll hear oot instead of out.

We used Gaywool dyes for the class. She brought her personal colors and had another instructor's too. We each brought 4 oz. of fiber to dye and then we got an extra piece to try. For the merino mix that you sent me this summer I chose a color called Daisy. I went a little stronger on the dye and it turned out a lovely daffodil color. For the other piece of fiber (also a merino blend) we did two color painting. I chose two colors of hibiscus and mulberry. We used a turkey injector (without the needle portion) for the painting. It worked really well.

We were set up in the parking lot behind the store. We used big flat pans covered with plastic wrap for the single color and than the smaller pans with the plastic lids for the painted fiber. The instructor also used the large plastic bottle for a single color dye for one of the owners of the shop. In her flat pan she used a single color but then sprinkle some of the dye crystals on top to give it a splotchy effect.

Once the colors were placed and the pans covered we had about an hour and a half to kill while the dyes did their work. The pans took about half an hour to really get hot and then about another hour for the dye to really get taken up. If we had had longer the colors would have gotten deeper. (I forgot to take DH's socks along so I bought some yellow variegated cotton and started another MD bib.)

As you can see from the dried pictures the yellow took really well and is a vibrant color. The painted fiber is a bit more muted. I'm seeing more pink in the picture than I can really see when I look at the fiber itself. I am thinking about spinning these and then plying the two colors together. I'm thinking of either crocuses or pansies when I look at these colors together. I spun a tiny bit of the yellow at the end of class Tuesday night. It looked pretty nice.

Any plans for Thanksgiving? I'm taking both Wednesday and Friday off although DH is working those days. His parents are coming down Thursday morning to for dinner and then they'll stay the night. My BIL will probably stay too and we may do a little shopping the next morning. Ikea has free breakfast next Friday so we may try to do that.

More soon, Keep warm, A

Farewell, zippy car

Dear Alene, we are a one-car family now. DH's 1991 Mazda Protege is broken to the tune of $1500 or more; at its age, that's more than we are willing to put in it. Luckily DH's work is close to our home and we didn't need a 2nd car that often. I'm sure we'll miss the convenience. On the flip side, we'll be glad for the financial and environmental benefits of keeping only one car. The car is still in the driveway while we sort out where it goes next. For now, that's all from the land of flurries and stuffed noses, Cindy

P.S.. I loved your silk colors! And I don't know about MD2, soon I hope!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Books 'n all

Hi Alene, yes, we did have a few flurries on Nov. 5 (hmm, guess time is flying by again). As one of those odd people who love November, I was good with that despite us all getting colds here over the last few weeks and me having an achy forearm for a while.

That got me off the computer and needles for a few days, so back to reading! Thanks for sending Back To Blossom Street, which I really enjoyed. Except for Blossom Street and Elm Creek novels, both of which I really like, I don't read anything set in "real life" these days. I read a lot of non-fiction (there's where reality comes in, I guess) about a variety of things (esp. crafts :), the newspaper, various magazines that cross my path, and of course things like HP. Musically I'm still largely ignorant, able to listen to most things for while, but wandering if I have to chose on my own . . . classical, folk, rock, world music. We all love those TMBG kids CDs! I loved the sound of your Decemberists but found the lyrics too dark for me; I did make sure the CDs you sent me got an appreciative home with a co-worker cooler than me! Found and enjoyed an old REM cassette in DH's car a few weeks ago. I know a lot of people listen to music when they spin but I still crave silence then. In the mini-van? NPR usually!

I also did some spinning since I'm gentle to myself with that. I was getting thread instead of yarn when I tried the silk top spun from the fold (holding on too tight I guess) so I switched to my usual spindle spinning technique (worsted) and am now getting yarn! Arm good now! Out of time, gotta get the kids up, more soon. Cindy

P.S. Back from school. DH has asked for a vest from the Timber Frame pattern (Philosopher's Wool Co.). I'm getting yarn from Blackberry Ridge for it. Picture of the sweater version of the pattern above.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Spinning Class

Hi Cindy,

Great pictures, even the sideways one of our DS. He looks very chipper. I saw snow(?) in your forecast the other day and when I looked at the Milwaukee Journal online this morning it said 37 degrees. I wish we could get even a small taste of that weather. If you were here today you'd think it was July. We have been in the 90's (!) for the last week and have set a record almost every day. The average high temp right now is only 79 and we're 12-15 degrees above that. Blech!

My intermediate spinning class started last night. There was another person registered but she didn't show up. When the instructor called she got a room mate who said the woman was out looking at houses. Looking closer at the sign-up sheet she had never paid for the class. It looks like I'm going to have a private class unless they decided to cancel it after all.

The intermediate class is for experimenting a little more and trying new things. I decided last night to try the silk hankies. I picked out one in the Taos colorway. It is done by the same one that did the roving that I sent for your birthday. The picture doesn't really capture the full beauty of it. It has a lovely mix of pinks, purples and browns. Some of the sections actually had a gold hue as it spun out between my fingers. I ended up spinning 4 or 5 layers worth last night. This is the finest I've ever spun anything and it will definitely need plying before I can even consider using it.

I used the Ashford Traveller that I've pretty much decided is the one that I want. DH is talking that one will be residing in our house in the next few weeks, just in time for a birthday/Christmas present. He is debating ordering it online versus buying it at the store. The double-drive double treadle is $25 dollars more online but comes with a selection of extras. The one in the store doesn't come with anything extra but I feel like I should buy it there anyway and with tax it comes out to just over the amount online. I'll leave that up to DH.

In closing I thought I'd leave you with a little Kitty Pron. That is the holiday version of the Knit Picks catalog, just arrived today. As you can see Teddy and Margi are in love with it. Lots of tempting stuff! There is a stocking kit that makes 3 stockings that looks pretty nice. It comes with the pattern and yarn, just add dpn's. All their yarns are pretty reasonably priced and they have free patterns or cheap ones to down load.

Take care, A

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Picture catch-up

Another view of the cardigan, although I'm not sure it shows up any larger. Next: the treasures I found at Half-Price Books last week. Then, DS in the Rambling Rows sweater; not sure why he's sideways when he was upright before . . . And my spindle spinning. The natural color became a sample skein for my drop spindle class, and that's the silk you sent me on the other.

DH wants a vest so I may get to that before I forge ahead with the handspun sweater (whew!). We are having a mild but lovely fall.