Thursday, December 17, 2009

Humble pie

Yup, I'm eating it. I got about 60% through a well-known, knitter-friendly lace shawl pattern (I won't mention the designer because it is so NOT her fault), and then realized about half my lace motifs were unrecognizable. Rats. I was following the chart closely; my stitch counts were good mostly. Huh?

This is ironic because I loved helping customers troubleshoot their knitting projects at my yarn shop job, and I even did pretty well with complicated lace. I deeply admire the amazing lace I've seen. I thought that after 30 years of knitting I should be able to do some lace more complex than "yo, k2tog" across and feather and fan (which I adore for its loveliness and simplicity). I can't honestly blame it on my slippery needles or slippery yarn or (ahem) relaxed gauge. Methinks (since this is not my first try at lace over the last few months) that my head is just not in the lace game right now. Me thinks also I will retry this pattern on different needles and yarn one of these days . . .

Craftwise, I have mittens and spinning and weaving on the brain lately. I want to do some knitting in 2010 for Afghans for Afghans. Did you know that SOAR 2010 will be held in Wisconsin?? I think I'd better start saving now -- I might fall down a lot at the market ;) Any chance you can come? C.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Slack and then slack some more...

Hi Cindy!

I've been a bad blogger and not really much to show for it. I've been doing some knitting and crocheting but nothing really to show for it, at least no pictures. I guess the uncertainty with work has me a bit on edge and I haven't really accomplished much. I started to set up an etsy store to sell some of my excess items but can't get to writing up descriptions and posting them.

We still have no news on the budget. The state legislature met in special session last month but couldn't decide anything. And they may or may not meet this month. The longer they push the decision the deeper the cuts are likely to go. I think my position will be okay since I'm the only one that does the job and I've been with the state a long time (17.5 years if you can believe it!) but the one thing I think the legislature decided on was suspending the personnel rules.

Anyways, enough downer talk. I started painting the bathroom over the weekend. My parents come out four weeks from today so I'd like to have it done by then. I've gotten the cabinet done so far, next on to the walls. We've had fish in there since we moved in, since before we moved in and it was time for a change. It was rather childish looking so it is time for a more grown-up feel. I'm going for a modern, SE Asian feel. The cabinet is a dark purple called Deep Aubergine. I didn't do a deep sanding on it so it was the stained brown to start and the purple over makes it almost a deep claret color. The inside is a bright green, quite a contrast but you only see it when the doors are open. The walls will be blue and cinnamon and the ceiling and door will be a taupe color. It sounds a little weird but it was a color grouping I picked from a layout in a paint suggestion booklet I picked up.

I'll end with a picture of the yarn I've picked out for a baby blanket for one of my friends at work. It will be a feather and fan pattern. They are expecting a girl in February and don't want to go the pink route. I'm dropping the green mix boucle and am adding a deep pink. I knit up a test swatch in the color order I'm going to use and showed it to the dad. He loved the colors and said they were exactly what they're thinking. In fact the wall color for the room is just slightly darker than the mustard color I choose. Gotta love Cascade 220 for their color choices!

Time to finish, Take Care, A

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A good fibery day

Last Thursday I got two goodies in the mail and finished my new project bag! It has a knit handle (originally intended as a scarf) and woven sides. It is made of my handspun; the purple is Kool-aid-dyed and the other colors are from plying with dyed roving. All the natural colors are from my first fleece.

I have no idea why my pictures have sidewaysed themselves . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How I'm doing on my fleece

Sorry I am pictureless again ... blog slacker, that's me. Oh, and I changed the comments to not allow anonymous any more since it looks like a spammer found my last post.

So here's the story so far of my fleece:

1. Go to farm and spend idyllic hour or two with kids and farmer on an early spring day. Leave with glorious fleece in back and kids in love with farming.

2. Roughly sort fleece at home and wash it. Discover that a better job of sorting (by texture and amount of VM as well as by color) would have been helpful. Glad that most of fleece pretty clean and not grass-embedded.

3. Start carding and spinning long draw after becoming enamored with this video.

4. Spin up a bunch of wool, ply some of it with itself and some with dyed samples from the April Phat Fiber box. Love just looking at the yarn.

5. Notice that although I am enjoying fiber prep, I am not doing it very evenly. Find this discouraging since I was thinking I might get enough yarn of the same weight to make a sweater version of this Rowan pattern.

6. Decide to make a vest instead. Decide that next time I get a fleece, I will have it professionally processed so as to be more consistently prepared. Fiber prep most fun if it turns out the way you want. :P

7. Decide vest will be too warm too, and opt to make a bag so I can have some of my special fleece with me in all seasons. Start bag twice (first time took too much yarn, 2nd try way too big). Remember pretty bag pattern in Weaving Made Easy and make a version of that instead. Bag is almost done; pics once assembly finished!

8. Join Team Spindlers for the 2010 Ravelympics! This should be fun as well as give me a timeline for getting that last pound of fiber ready for spinning. Enjoy thinking about what that yarn will become.

When you have time, would enjoy having an update on your WIPs! Love, Cindy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ahh, autumn

Yep, my favorite season is here. I'm planning to get back to my neglected rigid heddle loom, which you may (or not) remember was an ebay purchase maybe a year and a half ago (or not, middle age memory block). It's been weird having no children at home during the school day but productive! I'm almost at the end of putting up tomatoes, and I've been doing a variety of household projects. I've also dipped into the archives of the Cast On and Weavecast podcasts.

I've made some time for crafts, too. And just this morning I was thinking I ought to have a local mill card the rest of my fleece for me. Feeling weary of my preparation "skills", I tossed the bag of remaining fleece on my kitchen scale. One pound. You have got to be kidding. Do you know how much space one pound of clean fleece can take up? Apparently a lot. I'm not going to ask a mill to put a measly pound on their giant carding machine. Time to get back at it!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Silk Fusion

Hi Cindy!

Hope the kids are still enjoying the new school year. DH had two tests this week, both on Monday night so he spent much of last weekend studying. While he was busy I took a Silk Fusion at Tempe Yarn and Fiber on Saturday afternoon. Here is the store's account of the class along with a few more pictures. Do you remember the article from last year's Interweave Felt where they fused a stack of silk hankies to make a small purse? This is basically the same process except the fibers are teased apart and laid flat. They are then dried vertically to give them a better feel.

Here are the five panels I made. This was the first time the class has been offered and they scheduled it for 3 hours. It was a bit long. I had used up my first pack of silk fibers (the blues, purples, greens and reds) by the end of the first hour and picked out a second pack.

We used 18" square plastic trays to lay the fibers out on top of tulle. The first layer was laid down and then a second layer was placed at right angles. A second layer of tulle was put over the top. From there we wetted the entire packet with a dilute solution of Textile Medium (1 part medium to 4-5 of water). We worked the solution in and then flipped the packet over and made sure all the layers were thoroughly wet. We then squeezed out the excess and hung the fused silk out to dry.

Being a hot Arizona day the fibers quickly dried. I did have to touch up the Textile Medium on one of my squares as it was not completely fused, and I may do the others too this Saturday. I have enough of the gold and green silk, with a little red, that I can do another square before I need to get more fiber.

This last square is my favorite and was actually the first one I did. It reminds me of a peacock. I have it hanging up in my cubicle at work. It could use a pressing but still looks really nice. I need to come up with a design for a bag.

Take Care, A

Monday, September 7, 2009

Take 2

Hello! Hope things are cooling off there, and that the start of fall is going well for you. We're in the midst of tomato harvest (yep, lots of the garden is slow because of our cool summer) and adjusting to school. My house is strangely quiet during the day now. I'm doing a lot of jobs around the house to celebrate (??) my "freedom." I still feel busy but my stress level is going down!

I had to restart my felted bag because it was using way more yarn than I thought it would. I decided to go with a single-strand of yarn rather than the double I was trying and use a simpler color pattern to get the most mileage out of my handspun. I'm now making Hermione's Magic Knitting Bag from the fun book Charmed Knits. I also started my first real lace project! It uses laceweight yarn but on size 6 needles (whew) and is from the All New Homespun Handknit; it's called the Prairie Scarf. I got the book on ebay and it came with some alpaca/silk laceweight (not handspun, but it'll be eons before I have the skill the spin enough consistent laceweight to make anything). I don't have pictures of those yet, but I did update my Ravelry projects page with pictures.

Bye for now, love, Cindy

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Amazing Dress

Hi Cindy!

Have you seen this dress? The article about it is here. The skirt is made from the washed locks of her sheep. Pretty Amazing!

More soon, including pictures of spinning.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crafty progress

Greetings from August in Wisconsin! It's the time of garden delights, visits to our great city pool, assorted get-ready-for-school plans and anxieties, and reflection on the speed of summer. Thanks so much for the birthday package!! The kids loved the toys and I am head over heels for the lovely alpaca fiber! The top pictures are a recycling WIP; that's a 100% cotton thrift store sweater that was not serged together, price $4.99. It has huge sleeves and is a baggy style. I'm unraveling it and expect enough yarn for a vest or short sleeve cardigan for me.

The other two pictures show what I'm doing with my fleece: a bag to felt. The colored bits are from other sources but the natural color is form the Jacob fleece. The spinning has been great, and I liked the fiber prep pretty well too. If I get a fleece again next year, I'm going to get it prepared at a mill because the prep does take a lot of time and I'm not getting as consistent results as I'd like. The felting will hide my inconsistencies and give me something I can use year-round. I haven't decided if I will get another fleece or if I will join a local fiber CSA (yup, found one!) or just buy from one of our great local fiber sources.

Hope all is well in AZ! Love, Cindy

Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

And JKR also, who I see in the paper this morning is 44. A good age, don't you think? Even though I have to wait 8 days to find out . . .

Here's a picture from about 2 weeks ago of the family with our 2009 cherry harvest! I haven't done the promised spinning & knitting post yet but have been staying out of trouble with domestic duties, seeing the HP6 movie with DH (we l0ved it), following the Tour in the newspaper, going to the geology museum's quarry fossil hunt, babysitting neighbors' pets, and the like. Only 1 month until school starts and I am both very keen for it and sad to see the summer race by. How did you do on the Tour de Fleece?? Was it fun? I'm thinking we maybe should form a team some year. More soon, love, Cindy, almost 44

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spinnin' the Summer Away

Hi Cindy!

Glad to hear your weather has been treating you better than us. We've been hanging at over 110 for the last 10 days and it is getting really old. This weekend we hunkered down inside the house, trying to keep cool. We couldn't even hardly get in the pool since it faces full west and is pretty bright. I went grocery shopping on Sunday and it was 110 in the garage. Bleck!

Here is the Mountain Colors Lodgegrass I've been working on the last week or so. It was 4 ounces and I've been spinning for about half an hour each evening, longer on the weekend.

Margi finally got up the courage to sit on my lap while I spin. She's been circling me for the last 2 weeks. Finally on Sunday she jumped up and thought she should help me draft, with her teeth. Or maybe she just wanted to taste it. Yum, fibery!
This isn't a great picture of the plied yarn. It is really dark in this picture. I'll wash this and the last bit of Bill the Lizard soon and have better pictures soon.

As I hinted in my comment the other day I've learned a new skill. It was inspired by this library book. I love the knit flowers but there are even more crochet flowers. So, over the weekend I fired up YouTube and found a How-to-Crochet video called The Art of Crochet. It is actually a whole series of videos that covers the basics plus patterns, flowers and granny squares.

Here is my first bit of experimentation. The cloth on the right is all single crochet although I didn't do the chain stitch at the start of each row so it is a bit misshapen. The one on the left is a combination of stitches and done all around the edge instead of back and forth. It was almost free-form doodling but not quite.

And here is my first completed piece, it is a bag done in the round with single, double and triple crochet stitches, or at least my unlearned interpretation of what I was watching and reading. The bottom is Sugar N' Cream in chocolate ombre. The upper part is a Bernat Organic Cotton in mixed greens. It is a great size for projects.

Hope you've enjoyed the pictures. I'm still waiting on that piece of raspberry tart, looks yummy! Are you headed out on vacation around your birthday? I've picked up something for your birthday and I want to make sure you're around when it arrives.

Stay Cool! A

Summer update, part 2

Hi! Here's most of the handspun I've made so far this summer. The blue and purple are from a roving I got at the Sow's Ear. The greens are from samples out of the April Phat Fiber box. The grays, browns, and natural "whites" are from that lovely Jacob fleece.

I dithered a lot about what to make from my fleece. At first, I wanted a Kaffe Fassett vest but kept thinking that a multi-colored vest would be pretty hot to wear . . . not a bad thing in Wisconsin but toasty enough to limit its wearing to winter only. So I've opted to make a groovy Satchel instead. I'm going to knit a Kaffe multi-color pattern on the big blank space on the outside. This also has 2 great advantages: I can carry it with me everywhere I go year-round ;) and it hides the (ahem) many irregularities in my spinning from my learning to card and spin long draw.

We've been busy with the garden (doing amazing despite a cool dryish summer) and assorted family activities like going to the County Fair. Hope all is well there. How goes the TdF?? Love, Cindy

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer update, part 1

Hi Alene! Here's some of what I've been up to this summer. No, I'm not playing poker; those & the jar are for a Hogwarts-style points system for the kids. That's a raspberry dessert (yum!). I'll get together my spinning for a photo op as soon as a few skeins are dry. Hope your Tour is going well. May the Fleece be with you until my next posting, Cindy

p.s. I LOVE your Team's Oz-themed ravatar.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Here come the mountains!

Yay for you, Alene, in the TdF! I'll be at your water stops to cheer you on, spinning on the sidelines. :) Thanks for your recent posts, and so sorry to hear of your loss. Loved the pictures from the Navajo Nation and also the felting; made me itching to start another project LOL!!

I'm spinning up my Jacob fleece and some dyed merino/tussah from my LYS. It's a great stress reliever, and a progress report will be coming soon to a blog near me & you. Love, Cindy

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tour de Fleece

Hi Cindy!

As you know both the Tour de France and the Tour de Fleece began on Saturday. I've decided to take the plunge this year. I've joined the local team, Fred's Fiber Fiends from Tempe Yarn and Fiber. I love this Ravetar that one of the members created. What do you think?

Here is most of my fleece. My goal for the tour is to spin up as much of it as possible. I estimate that I have probably less than 5 pounds total. The only thing not show here is the fiber from the Mystery Spin Along from last fall. I've only spun two of those recipes so I'd like to finish that too.

Margi thought she'd check out the wheel. Of course the bobbin is off so she couldn't really spin all that much.

Here are two bobbins worth that I spun up on Monday and Tuesday nights. Tonight I plied them together.
The fleece was "Bill the Lizard" that I bought from Violet (of Lime & Violet's podcast). Half of the braid was green and half was purple. The first half of both I spun separately and then plied together. These I mixed the green and purple on each bobbin so I ended up with a mix of green sections, purple sections and combined sections. I really like how it plied together.

Here are all the hanks I've spun from the fleece. The top two are the earlier ones and I've washed them already so they've muted slightly. The bottom two are the new ones. There is still a portion on one bobbin that I'll either ply on itself or with a different single.

More soon, A

Monday, June 29, 2009

Time Flies

Hi Cindy!

I'll start off with our sad news first. DH's grandma passed away on Friday. She'd been such a tough old gal, hanging on way longer than anyone really expected. There was nothing specifically wrong with her, her body just wound down to its end. The last 6 weeks were the toughest, walking along the edge of expecting her to pass at any time and then her rallying, repeatedly.
The picture above is from over 2.5 years ago when she was still rather spry although getting weaker. Although the last couple of months have been hard, we're glad she's at rest now and we can remember the happy times. Until her eyesight got too bad (macular degeneration) she used to spend long hours quilting.

My friend L got married earlier this month. As a thought for a shower gift I decided to try a nuno felt shawl. I bought a plain white chiffon scarf through Dharma Trading and dyed it a pale lavendar. Below it is laid out on a layer of bubble wrap. I then randomly covered it with bits of roving in various shades of purple and then some wisps of green dyed mohair locks. I wet it with soapy water and then covered it with old nylon curtains and rolled it up in matchstick bamboo placemats like a giant burrito.

After working it for quite a while, re-wetting it as necessary, I finally gave up. My arms were too tired to continue. Here is the finished item.

And here is a close up of it. I like how it looks but there are bits that aren't felted and I didn't feel comfortable about giving it as a gift. I'm not sure if it would do well as a shawl/scarf or if it should just be a wall hanging. As you can see the generic wool felted into the silk just fine but the mohair locks didn't do as well. I'm waiting for Margi to find it and lick it.

As I said above, my friend L got married earlier this month. She is Navajo and her parents live on the reservation in NE AZ. She planned the wedding to be on her grandmother's land on the Defiance Uplift. We drove up on Friday and took a scenic route up there. Instead of taking I-40 from Holbrook to the state line we went north on a little two lane road, past the west side of Petrified Forest, towards Keams Canyon. It was rugged and beautiful with little traffic. There is a series of old volcanic plugs along the road that have eroded into scenic buttes.

We stayed 2 nights in Window Rock, AZ, the capital of the Navajo Nation. This is the road out of Fort Defiance to L's grandma's place. More beautiful scenery (even if it is obscured by a bug smear).

And here is L being escorted in by her parents. The entire ceremony was a blend of a typical wedding ceremony with Navajo elements as well as Russian-Jewish traditions for the groom although no breaking of the glass and no chuppah.
The ceremony was in a lovely meadow with beautiful red rocks as a background. It was a very sunny and windy day. Early in the ceremony L's veil blew off and on of her aunts caught it. The unity candle ceremony didn't do so well as the candles kept blowing out. The minister they had went way beyond the non-secular ceremony they requested. They were only supposed to have a Navajo blessing but the cousin in charge of it went ahead with the entire Navajo wedding ceremony, complete with the blue corn mush. As one of our friends from work observed, of all the parts of the ceremony, the Navajo portion seemed the most binding.
Despite the sun, wind and delayed time schedule (they were over an hour late getting started) it was a beautiful wedding. I ended up with a pretty severe sun burn on my face and arms but the sting and color has faded and we're just left with the happy memories.

More soon, A

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A real entry soon, I promise

Hi Cindy,

Sorry I've been such a bad blogger lately. I could use the trip as an excuse but that was over 2 months ago. Mostly we've just been about work, school and family crises. DH finished up his A&P class last month and ended up 3rd or 4th in the class. He had a high enough grade that he didn't have to take the "final". Right after that his work kicked up a couple of notches and his grandmother moved closer to the end.
His work has been crazy for the last year with all the unemployment extensions and then there have been lawsuits added on top. He's never really been comfortable in this job and it has just gotten worse. Additionally in the middle of this his grandmother has been close to passing away a couple of times and he gets no sympathy from his boss. We've gotten calls 3 times in the last month from his mom that the end is in sight just to have her rally.
In the midst of all this I have been doing some knitting. Unfortunately, no pictures right now. I will write more in the next couple of days, I hope.
More soon, A

Monday, May 11, 2009

Catch-up blogging

Hi Alene! Hope all is well there. I've been having a busy few months. It has not been without some time for crafts, however. Here is my washed fleece and a picture of the four color piles I've sorted it into. Since I'm planning a Kaffe Fassett project, strict color sorting isn't needed. Also here is my first skein from the dark pile. You can't easily see its unevenness because of the color. It was a useful sample because I've gotten more even in my rolag making and doing better at spinning woolen (thanks to some amazing YouTube videos).

Those are this spring's apple blossoms on our young tree. Ciao for now, Cindy

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Daydreaming of lace

Hi Alene, I've been daydreaming of lace lately. Why? The gorgeous Aeolian Shawl from the latest knitty. Beautiful, beautiful, and with an earthy name as well. I hope to make one someday.

More realistically at this point in my life, I should do something a bit less complex since I have almost no experience knitting lace. I'm leaning toward that Mason-Dixon Knitting beauty, Belinda. I also like the Spinner's Shawl. Both of these have the virtue of being done on medium-sized needles for a small-needle-wimp like me.

I've got my fleece all washed now. It looks even better and a lot less yellow (that wasn't pee; it was dirt stuck to lanolin, whew). Fluffy and crimpy and soft. Ahhh.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What I Did On Spring Break

Last fall I chatted with Diana of Dreamfarm at our local farmer's market. As a long-time buyer of her family's excellent goat cheese and eggs, I was pleased to see yarn at her booth and bought a couple of skeins. Although the dairy goats and chickens are the mainstay of their farm, they also keep a small flock of Jacob sheep. They have wonderful spotted fleeces that she has made into yarn at a local mill. We made plans for me to get a raw fleece from her in the spring. I left the market that day feeling happy and a little dazed; my first fleece!! I didn't know until I asked her that I even wanted one! :)

So about 2 weeks ago, the kids and I went to pick up my fleece. It was a sunny but cool spring day, one of those days with a crisp blue sky. Diana gave us a farm tour. We got to pet the baby goats and the mama goats. We got to go inside a chicken shelter and adore the farm's big gentle dog! In fact, it was one of those days that make me wonder why I'm not a farmer myself. Diana emailed shortly after and said we'd narrowly missed the birth of twin goats.

I've been washing my fleece, a five-pounder from a ewe named Grace. She was pretty clean and almost all of her fleece is quite soft. I've gotten most of it washed, using the directions in the back of Start Spinning. I'm very happy with it and looking forward to spinning it. Hope all is well in AZ!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Hi Cindy,

I should be headed off to bed but I haven't written yet this month and there is only 40 minutes left in it so I thought I'd post a few pictures.

We got new cell phones a couple of weeks ago. Mine is a pretty blue one that I want to protect so I made a couple of cozies. Guess which one is mine.
Two weeks ago DH went backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon with a couple of his buddies, one from Seattle and one from Dallas. It was the first trip they've done together in 14 years. Aravaipa Canyon is SE of Phoenix. I drove them down to the east end which is near Safford and picked them up two days later on the west end. Before I could pick them up though I had to call AAA for a jump, the truck battery had died.

Aravaipa is a perennial stream so they didn't need to carry water. There were plenty of frogs and fat squirrels to keep them company. They didn't see any rattlesnakes so it must have been a bit early for them.
The main part of the canyon is a Bureau of Land Management Wilderness area. You have to get a permit to hike there and they only let a limited number of people in each day. The Nature Conservacy has purchased ranches at both ends to help preserve the area.

This is my favorite picture. DH took it in one of the side canyons they hiked up to. Notice the columnar jointing in the canyon walls. Looks like a volcanic tuff to me. And notice how the smooth erosion of the walls is almost exactly the same height as the boulder in the distance. Imagine the force of the flash flood to move that!

I'll close this off and head to bed. DH is dropping me at the airport on his way to work. My flight leaves shortly after 10 and I should be to MKE by 3:30. I'll see you on Friday and may give you a call beforehand. Looking forward to seeing you! A