Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When Good Projects Go Bad

Hi Alene, and Happy New Year to you and yours. We had a nice Christmas with most of my family coming over on the 21st. DH's dad visited earlier this month so the gift extravaganza was spread out. As for me, I received yarny things from the family: the new Mason Dixon book, 2 skeins of wool yarn from a favorite farmer's market vendor, and the 2009 Spindlicity calendar! Thank you for my gift certificate; I look forward to spending it as soon as possible :D

I've recently had 2 projects go bad. First was a pair of mittens that I was improvising but they came out way too wide with a too narrow thumb and a too short cuff. Methinks I'll frog them and try again with a little less improvising. The 2nd one is the bedsocks I've been making for the Shawl Ministry. Here's a lesson to pass on: don't try turning the heel on a new sock architecture while watching Wall-E with the pattern book on your lap, no notes, a cuppa coffee on one side, and a 4-year-old asking "Why?" repeatedly on the other. Also it is not easy to make socks to fit an unknown pair of feet from a previously untried pattern. Well, duh.

Am contemplating my New Year's resolutions; post on that soon. Bye for now, love, Cindy

Year End, and a Beginning

Hi Cindy,

Hope you had a Merry Christmas! We went up to DH's parents in Cottonwood. I got off at 12:30 last Wednesday and then headed to Scottsdale to pickup BIL. After trying to set up his new printer we headed back down to our house to pack the truck. DH didn't get off work until the regular time, 4:30. His bosses are scrooges. Traffic on the drive was pretty light. We got up there in less than 2 hours.

Christmas day was cold and rainy and we didn't hardly even go out of the house. DH's parents aren't in to the whole gift thing so we didn't really have gifts to open. We did get his brother an IPod Shuffle. He's really excited about it but his computer is so old and slow that he's coming down tomorrow to set it up. We had snow flurries on Friday which was a lot of fun. Actually it was more snow clumps, kinda like hail but out of snow. We went over to see DH's grandmother on Friday. She is 95 and still hanging on. She is very frail and doesn't get out of her room much but is still pretty with it mentally.

On Saturday was the big grand opening of the light rail in the valley. We've had to deal with the construction for the last 3 years. I've tracked down these pictures since I don't have any of my own. This first one is right outside my office.

The crowds for the grand opening were pretty ridiculous. They're giving free rides through today and it has been jam packed. They estimate 100,000 people rode on Saturday, 50K on Sunday and the last 2 days have been just as packed after the morning commute.

DH and I took the train into work yesterday. We have a bus that runs just down the street from us so we take that to downtown Tempe. From there we catch the train to Phoenix. DH has to transfer in downtown Phoenix but it goes right past my building with a stop less than a block away. Morning wasn't too bad but going home was jammed.

DH met me downtown and by the time he got on we were basically sardines. We did stop in on Mill in Tempe to have dinner before catching the bus back home. It takes slightly longer but once the tourists clear out it should be pretty nice. The train runs on street level and goes with traffic so they don't stop the cross-traffic when the train comes through.

Since it's been free the last several days everyone around the valley, plus all the visitors in for the holidays and the two bowl games, are trying it out. There were whole families riding it from one end to the other. The line is 20 miles long, the longest in the country to open at once. The ride is smooth and quicker than the bus line that previously paralleled it.

There were celebrations all along the route on Saturday and Tempe's ended with fireworks over the lake just after sunset. I'll keep you posted how it goes for commuting after all the tourists are gone.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Quickie

Hi Cindy!

Now that it's been over a month since I last posted I thought I'd throw up some pictures and then write something later. Here goes. First up, Salmon Carpacio plied.
Next: Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Here are two pictures of the wet-felted bag I did the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Not perfect but I like the flowing, organic nature of it.

A cowl I knit for Shinkai: The neck portion is the Birthday Cowl and the bottom portion is from Poinsettia (Knitty Winter 2008). It is from Malabrigo Worsted and the color is Red Pearl.

Finally a simple Ribbed Beanie for Sokai, Cascade 128 Tweed. Love it!

Merry Christmas if I don't write beforehand! A

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mystery Spin-Along

Hi Cindy!

Love all the pictures you've been posting! You keep making up for my slacking. Thanks for the magazine subscription! Your card had gotten pushed between election flyers and I found it yesterday when I went through the mail. We tend to pick out the important stuff and let the flyers and junk mail pile up for a week or two, or three.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I am participating in a Mystery Spin-Along at Tempe Yarn and Fiber. Since the owners' daughter recently graduated from culinary school they decided to go with a food theme.

Instead of being on a fiber diet, we're indulging in fiber and whipping up some food-inspired yarns. In our fiber pantry we received twelve different colors to mix and create our pallets for each recipe.

Our first recipe was Marinated Salmon Carpaccio. We received the recipe along with their suggested mixing proportions.

It was then up to us to blend the fibers however we wanted and then spin up the yarn. Some of the participants have drum carders or hand cards but I have neither. I fluffed first the fibers for the salmon and then the ingredients for the dressing and spun them separately.

Next I will ply the singles together. Unfortunately my wheel is being a little cantankerous and isn't wanting to take up on the ply. I think when we built it last year we got the drive band too long. I have the set screw all the way in and the drive band still has plenty of slack. I need to take the plunge and cut it to a better length. I'll tackle that tomorrow after work.

Recipe 2 is "Chilled Red Pepper Soup", Recipe 3 is "Pears with Avocado and Lime" and Recipe 4 is "Focaccia with Feta, Pesto Tomatoes and Olives". I have all the fibers separated out but I only have four bobbins so I don't have enough to have everything spun waiting to be plied.

Tomorrow we will get recipe 5 and I'm waiting to see what it will be. We have not yet had a main course or a beverage. And I was trying to imagine what dessert will be. I bet something with blueberries since we got a small piece of navy in the pantry.

On December 5 we will have a Show-and-Tell at the store to see how everybody's yarns turned out. I'll make sure to post a link to it when they have the pictures up. Some people are also posting in the "Fred Made Me Do It" group on Ravelry.

I will close this now. I have some pictures of knitting to post one day soon as well as more cute cat pictures and some of our orange tree. The fruit gets closer to ripe each day. Probably around Christmas it will be ready to pick.

Take Care, A

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out of control plying

Hi! I really like November. I still love watching snow showers; it's quite pretty. True sweater weather with no need to rush to the shoveling :D

I got a bit of spinning done. I separated out the blue-green part of a Mountain Colors Targhee top and spun the singles from the fold on my wheel. That was fun! Then I wanted to ply it but do a better job than I usually do. Last time I plied I tried a DIY tensioned lazy kate and thought it worked great (cheap too!!). I didn't have quite the right size of basket available, so this time I wound it off on my nostepinne, stuck a size 15 straight knitting needle through the middle of the ball to help me keep the center under control, and plied from both ends of the ball with my largest drop spindle. It came out nicely and mostly under control! I'm going to find a proper size basket for the DIY kate and change my plying ways.

I finally put up a pic of DH's slipper socks on Ravelry. I wasn't really settling on a Shawl Ministry project but now think I'll do a throw but in strips, so I can carry it around easily and not worry about running out of yarn. Later, love, Cindy

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween weekend

Hi! We're having a warm spell here; it was nice to trick-or-treat without winter coats. Since DST wasn't over, it was even a bit light when we started. The kids did get lots of candy.

No school on 30th or 31st for teachers' convention. DH took the 30th off. In the morning, we went to Schuster's Playtime Farm, a venture run by our high school classmate Ms. T. Click on the link about the family and you will see a familiar face. I didn't get a chance to visit with her because the farm was very busy due to the days off from school being so close to Halloween. Their farm is LOADS OF FUN with animals to pet, areas to play in, a kid-size maze with hay to jump in, and lots more. We'll do their big maze some time when the kids are a bit older. The kittens were probably the most popular with DH and DD but it'd be a tough call. :D

On the crafty front, I took a Needle Felted Animals class at the Sow and had a great time. My little bright zebra pales in comparison to the animals created by my classmates but I learned a lot, had big fun, and can't wait to do more. I also have this crazy idea that I'm going to buy a Jacob fleece in the spring from a local farmer I'm acquainted with (OK, it's more than an idea; I've verbally committed to go to the farm to pick it out while the sheep is still wearing it!!! Never worked with a raw fleece before so not sure how I know to pick a good one . . .) So I am going to be strict with myself about working only from stash until then! Only exception would be if I need yarn for Shawl Ministry project but I can probably use yarn donated for that purpose.

We've also been following the election closely. Turnout expected to be very high here. Whew, I'm glad election day is here. Bye for now, C

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Ghoulish Greetings Cindy!

Did the kids get a good haul while out Trick-or-Treating? I was a Scrooge tonight and didn't even turn on the light.

Is fall is full swing? Not here. It was 93 degrees today and will probably be that tomorrow. Bleck! After that it should cool down into the 70's & 80's, finally down to "normal".

I got a call today from Tempe Yarn & Fiber. The fiber packets are ready to pick up and the first clue will come out a week from tomorrow.

Hope your November is Great!

More Soon, A

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October Surprise!

Surprise Cindy!

I'm actually writing a blog entry! Little did I know how prophetic the title of my last entry would be. In the last month I've become such a slacker in writing. Having my cousin stay with us for two weeks put me in a weird funk and even though he's been gone for about a month I haven't had the motivation to write.

I finally finished DH's sweater a couple of weeks ago. It took me seven months to finish it and I got it done about a month after the UFOlympics close up. I'm really happy with it. The yarn is heavier than called for in the pattern so I knit my gauge swatch and used that to calculate how many stitches I'd need for various parts of it. My only problem was that I didn't get the wrap stitch right on the purled short rows so I have a series of small holes where the wraps occur. I'll probably go back with some matching yarn and stitch those up so they don't show. There's 6 of them I believe so it's not too bad, and they're all on the right-had side.

Here is a charming wrist warmer pattern called Del Mar I found on Ravelry. The yarn is a lovely alpaca-silk blend that I got a Tuesday Morning earlier this summer. I call my version Foggy Morning as it looks like waves on a beach on a foggy day. I'm not sure if I'll keep them or if they'll be a Christmas present for either my mom or my MIL.

My final picture tonight is my version of the scarf on Ravelry called "October is For Spinners". It has a large spider knit in the center bottom. Her you can see four of the legs and the start of the body. Right now I have two strands of yarn held together but farther up I'll drop one of them and then start working on progressively larger needles to give it a drapey, cob-webby look about it. I'm excited about it.
I signed up a couple of weeks ago to do a Mystery Spin-along at Tempe Yarn. I haven't gotten the fiber yet but should in about a week or so. The actual spinning starts on November 8. We'll have 3 clues a week and will finish up the first week in December. A Meal is the theme for the spin-along since the store owners' daughter just finished culinary school. I'll try to post pictures as it progresses. At the end we will have a show-and-tell get together at the store to see what everyone has spun.

Part of the reason I've been slacking on posting the last month or so is that I've gotten caught up in the election. Each evening once DH has gone to bed I sit up and watch Countdown on I've gotten really addicted to it. I've also been reading a lot of Huffington Post and watching Daily Show and Colbert Report. Sometimes the fake-news shows are better than the real news. I am knitting a shawl out of Patons SWS in a blue and tan colorway that I hope to have done in time to wear on election day. If not, I will have it ready to wear on inauguration day.

We were up to visit DH's parents this weekend. They are doing okay although his dad has gotten pretty frail the last couple of months. He has PD and rheumatoid arthritis so he's been having more trouble getting around. He is only 73 and still has a very sharp mind but the body has lost it's vitality. DH's grandmother will be 96 at the beginning of March. She went through a bad spell for a while, was on hospice care for 15 months, but has recently started eating more and is getting a bit better. She was taken off hospice care last month and now her care-givers think she could hang on for a lot longer.

My parents have been doing pretty good. Last time I talked to them Dad thought he might retire at the end of the year. He will be 65 in March and still hasn't really got back all his energy after his surgeries this past spring. He is more than ready to quit working and take it easy. Mom will probably work another year until her 65th birthday. They would like to do the snowbird thing between down here and their lake place. It would be nice to have them down here some.

I guess I should finish this off and head to bed. More soon, take care, A

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Knifty project

Hi Alene, how's it going? Here's a little scarf I made for the charity projects my LYS is collecting. I used a Knifty Knitter which is very similar to a gadget we had when I was a kid that I remember making scarves on. I still find it relaxing to wind the yarn around the pegs :) It's neat how many different ways there are to make knitting.

My congregation has started a shawl ministry to make comfort items for members who are in need. There is no production pressure, just opportunities for mindfulness, fellowship, and connection. I'm keen to participate.

Fall is here in earnest despite the hot & cold flipping of the weather. The colors are gorgeous. We had our first frost about 10 days ago. Have the temps in AZ mellowed yet? Ciao, Cindy

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Late September update

Hi Alene, how are things in AZ? We've had a long stretch of summer weather but I'm looking forward to sweatshirts (and dare I say it, sweaters) again soon. We are slowly getting in the groove of a new school year.

Here are a few crafty things: I'm making some chunky socks with handspun for DH to use as slippers. Toe up so I didn't have to swatch, just have him try them on now and then. I finished the little Shepherd's Rug I started at last year's WI Sheep & Wool Festival (hmm, I was sure I only rotated the 2nd photo . . .no time to fuss with it now). I bought a pattern booklet for gorgeous Christmas stockings (I'd link to the Dale of Norway website but it is always out of date) to make one of these days. I got back to work on The Project. And did you see this? I asked DH for one for Xmas. That sure sounds like I have hours of free time but most of these things have been done in short time periods or only for a short time! Bye for now, love, Cindy

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It must be fall

Signs of fall recently observed here:
*DD was flower girl to her oldest cousin (and godmother) on the first Saturday in September
*a squirrel tried to use our clothes reel as a tree (note the large green nut it is carrying)
*I got out my thick robe
*teeth are falling slowly, as are leaves
*the urge to spin cotton has been replaced by the urge to make felted wooly things
*I've been experimenting with making homemade bread
*large quanities of lovely wool have been pouring into the shop!!

I love this season! More soon, love, Cindy

Monday, September 8, 2008

Slacker, Extraoridnaire

Hi Cindy!

Thanks for posting while I've been slacking. Work has been busy the last two weeks with lots of permits coming back for re-analysis at lower pumping rates. I haven't really felt like posting in the evening and haven't done much knitting in that time either, just a few little projects with quick gratification.

I did not finish DH's Cobblestone during the UFOlympics as I had hoped. I did get the arms attached and about an inch of the yoke completed before the olympic torch went out. I've got almost another 4 inches done in the interim and I'm almost to the second decrease round. I'm to the quicker part of the yoke and once I start back on it in the next few days I should be able to finish it fairly quickly.

The next project that I started, actually the one I worked on once the sleeves were done on the sweater but the body needed work, was a beret. I used about 1.8 balls of Lion Brand Landscapes in the Deep Sea colorway. I'm pretty happy with it although it may be come a christmas gift to either my mom or my MIL. I got 3 balls a few months back for $1.50 each at Big Lots. I'm considering either a narrow scarf or wrist warmers to match out of the remaining 1+ ball.

And finally, I made a pair of wrist warmers in the Del Mar pattern. The yarn is a lovely alpaca-silk blend called Llama Set in a light gray color. I called my interpretation Foggy Morning. I finished the knitting yesterday morning and wove in the ends although I have not crocheted around the thumb hole. I've only done a miniscule amout of crochet and I'm not sure if I'm up to it on this one. I've only got a few yards left and I'm not sure if there's enough for both.

Yesterday I started a pair of Dashing for DH to match the earflap hat I knit him earlier this summer. It is out of the SWTC Karaoke, a yarn that I'm really liking right now. I have about 3 more rounds before the first cable row, although there are only a total of 6 cables on each glove so I think I can handle it. I've done a cabled headband before so this isn't the very first.

I talked to my parents yesterday. They are doing well, getting stuff done at both their house and the cottage. Dad has been in to meet with Social Security. If he retires this month at 64.5 he'll make a modest amount but if he waits 6 months until his 65th birthday he'll get a couple of hundred more. I figured when he told me the difference, plus COL adjustment at the start of the year, that he'd wait it out. Nope, his target date for retirement is December 26, halfway between the two. It sounds like the deciding factor is his health. He's still not fully back on the breathing and it makes him tired quicker. He now has his 5 years in at Generac so that helps out his pension from them. If there's a retirement party for him in December or January I think that we will try to make it back there. DH wants to take Amtrack back there, he thinks its a romantic idea. Of course we have to get to Flagstaff to do it, it's more expensive, takes longer and could take extra long if it's snowy. I'll keep you posted as I hear.

I'd better close this but I promise I'll write more soon. Maybe I'll write about the camping trip although you've probably looked at the pictures already. Take Care, A

Friday, September 5, 2008

2 FOs and a challenge?

Hi Alene, (I have no idea why my text is underlined so I am choosing to ignore it) here are 2 recent FOs: a baby blanket for my niece (goddaughter #2 is expecting her first in Feb.) and a pair of fingerless mitts form spindle-spun Corriedale.

The baby blanket (whew away went the underlining) I made on my Bond machine as a big piece of stockinette and then the textured stitches are hand-manipulated (off the machine in this case). I learned about this particular technique on Ravelry, and although it looks a little wonky to me, DH says it's nice and agrees it'll be a good size for an infant car seat.

The fingerless mitts are made with the same "pattern" that I use in my Spin and Knit Fingerless Mitts class. It's not much of a pattern, garter stitch worked sideways mostly. Easy and fun. I had a 2 inch piece of yarn left when I finished!

Now for the challenge: do you want to spin a little for Spin-Off's next Your Yarn feature? It's for spindle-spun yarn. We'd need to do a 5-yard piece and get it to them sometime in Dec., I think. Will need to look up the details. What do you think?
:) Cindy

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A little of everything

Hi Alene! Hope all is well in sunny AZ. It's raining today but the raspberries appreciate it. Third day of school already; the summer didn't seem too long. We had a great one despite the rough start of extreme rain and my appendectomy this spring. There's never enough time to do all the things we imagine, but we did a good number of them and had lots of fun together. The weather gave us a break by being cooler and less humid than typical, so that made a pleasant change. Because of the coolness and our late start to the garden, we still have tomatoes coming, so soon DH will be making salsa!

Still working here & there on the clear-out I started in January; things are looking better around here. Also thinking a lot about spinning and knitting and trying felting again (have had mixed results in the past). Have you seen this cool magazine from Interweave? I want to knit & felt some mittens (and maybe needle felt some sort of embellishment and maybe try some wet felting just cuz it looks amazing. The birthday book you sent is one I know I'll keep rereading.

Time to get going on our school morning routine, more soon, love, C

Friday, August 22, 2008

DS's DS case

Hi Alene, when DS learned to knit 2 years ago, he first made a cute little Xmas ornament. Then he picked out his own yarn (for the record, green Cascade 220 superwash) and decided to make a scarf. Even with me giving him yarn to make stripes, that was a bit too much project for someone his age. So when he finally had enough dough to buy his Nintendo DS, I suggested his "scarf" was long enough to fold up & sew into a bag for it. He loved this idea and here it is! He did most of the knitting, helped make a twisted cord, and picked out the button. I put in a lining. Yay!!!
Thanks for picking up the slack; more entries in the works. C

Monday, August 18, 2008

UFOlympic Update

Hi Cindy!

While you've been off enjoying the cool green northwest I've been knitting away on my olympic challange.
When I last wrote I believe I was about a foot into the body of the Cobblestone Sweater for DH. Upon restart at the beginning of the games I completed a couple of more inches of the body before deciding to switch to knitting the sleeves.
Here is the first one:
I picked up an Addi Turbo circular to use on the upper portion of the sleeves and they seemed to fly by. The first sleeve took me much of last week, between work and everything. But the second one I finished in just over a day with a lot of time spent in front of the TV. Of course after a whole day spent knitting I was pretty stiff yesterday and only got a couple of rounds done on the body. The sleeves are actually the same length as the body as that is how DH wants it to fit. His arms are actually fairly short; I would have needed an extra 5 inches for the sleeves to fit me. Here are both sleeves complete next to the sweater body.
In closing, Margi is training to be a Draft Blocker. I think she's got the form down almost perfectly. Of course at 105 degrees she's keeping the cool air in rather than out. I'll let you know when the cold finally arrives if her form changes.
Hope you had a great trip and I'm looking forward to pictures soon!
Take care, A

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Hi Cindy!
You beat me to the birthday punch. I wanted to write a post last night but we had another big storm and ended up not turning the computer on at all. I think we got over an inch at our house. Not quite as much as the big storm a couple of weeks ago but still a goodly amount. The street was flooded again. And the broken branch in the olive tree is now on the ground, although that may have happened in our small storm on Tuesday night.

Do you have anything special planned for today? Dinner out?

Our friends Fred and Penny got married in Seattle last weekend. We didn't get to go up there for the wedding but they're down here for a few days for a mini-honeymoon and we went out for dinner with them on Wednesday. It was great to see them, we don't get to often enough. Fred sang to Penny during the ceremony and one of his friends posted it on YouTube.

The Opening Ceremonies of the the Olympics are tonight which means that when I get home I can start knitting again on DH's Cobblestone Sweater which is my project for the UFOLympics. It will be a push to get it done in 16 days but I'm planning on spending as much free time as possible on it. Look for updates!

And finally, a sign I found, probably at Stuff On My Cat. I may have sent it to you already but it makes me laugh so I thought I'd post it too. Several of the people that work with DH love it too.

Happy Birthday!

The blog slacker on 8-8-08

Hi, thanks so much for the fun birthday package! Yum to the chocolate ;) and the felting book is amazing!! My digital photos are in disarray again so no pics this time, but otherwise things are going well. Next week I will teach "Spin & Knit Fingerless Mitts" (first of 2 sessions) and "Beginning Knitting" (first of 3 sessions). I have some new design ideas, she adds, slyly laying a finger alongside her nose. DH says "hi." Let's see ... Fall Rowan magazine is here and awesome. DD was perfect for her first dentist visit (whew)! The garden is doing well despite bunnies that are sneaking through the fence; we believe we have now live-trapped them all and that they will like living in the park instead. DS has turned his knitting into a Nintendo DS case which needs a lining and I will post a pic of it soon. Bye for now, Cindy, age 43

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thank you Mr. Postman

Hi Cindy,

I have been receiving some fun and informative stuff in the mail lately. Last Wednesday the latest copy of Craft arrived and they have a big section on weaving, including a small paper loom insert and directions to make your own portable loom. I'm looking forward to trying it out.

The next day KnitCircus #3 arrived. It looks so professional but I missed a book or item review by you. I guess you're too busy working on other things. ;) On Sunday I knit the Cycloswatch as a wrist cuff. I used a wonderful silk that I got at Knit1-Bead 2 in Jerome about a year and a half ago. If you and the family make it out here one of these days it is definitely one of the stores we will visit! I'm using a couple of beads for the closure but they're a little small so I've got to dig through my buttons to see if anything else works. I got the little charms at Big Lots a couple of months ago. They had containers of mixed beads for cheap and some of them were really nice.

On Friday the package you sent arrived. The DVD looks great and I can't wait to try it out. I'm going to preview it first and may make DH try it, he's looking for something to strengthen his legs for long duration sitting. Thank you also to your DS for the Louisa Harding pattern book. There are a couple of patterns in it that I may try one of these days and they are all really beautiful.

The most anticipated package came on Monday while I was home sick with a headache. I don't know if you got to browse the Interweave Damaged Book Sale a few weeks ago but I picked up a couple of the books that I've been wanting and one or two that I couldn't resist. I have one book that I ended up with a duplicate on. The cart function was a little slow and clunky and I some how got 2 of it in my cart. I think that it may become a birthday present soon. Can you guess which one and who the lucky recipient will be?

We didn't get any of the rain over the weekend from Hurricane Dolly. It all went to New Mexico instead and Ruidoso almost got washed away. In fact one person was washed away in the flooding.

I'll close this off and say "Good Night!" Take care, A