October 11, 2007 - The Rhinebeck Song...

D. wrote:

Sung to "On the Sunny Side of the Street":

Kiss the goat and squeeze the cat,
Put some fiber on your shoulder.
Don't forget the sheep
Head to Rhinebeck later next week.

September 30, 2007 - Time Flies...

I can't believe it's been more than a month since I've written anything here.

Teaching grad school has taken up much more time than I had planned. There is so much to consider. I have a topic, and think I'm all done, and something else drops out of a folder or book or my head -- and I know that this too must be included.

But, it's not about what I bring to the class. The students are smart and talented and reflective. I am so lucky. They teach me as I guide them.

Knitting-wise, I finished a Charlotte's Web Shawl in Koigu, that I haven't figured how to photograph it. And I started the Swallowtail Shawl and choked on the nupps. So, I started a Shetland Shawl, and am not too thrilled with how it is coming out. The long edge seems to be growing, while the length seems to be staying the same. It's not blocked, but it just doesn't seem right. I am using a lovely merino yarn in acid green. And I've loved acid green for years. It's just I'm sick of acid green. But I wanted to knit lace, and I had it, so it was the most inexpensive way to knit a lace shawl.

I had hoped to spin enough of a purple-ish merino for the shawl, but I was short a couple-hundred yards. That's why I used the stash-yarn.

The cardinal fledglings have grown and moved on. They all were eating at my back door for weeks, and then they were not there. I had hoped that I would be getting multiple cardinal families feeding, but does not seem to be the case. The original pair are still returning, though.

I had a kitchen accident. Well, this is a long story, but I've hated the kitchen cabinets since I moved in almost 14 years ago. Was going to get the kitchen re-done as soon as I moved in. Right. Then I priced cabinets and suddenly the kitchen seemed liveable.

About a month ago, I decided to put my teaching money in upgrading the kitchen. At least the cabinets, countertops and tile behind the sink. Figured I'd start shopping for cabinets in November.

But, two weeks after I decided that I would be eventually shopping for cabinets, the front of the VERY cheap, poorly made, most-lousy cabinets pulled off the sides of the cabinet. Since the shelves sat on small pegs (which were attached to the FRONT of the cabinets), and the front was no longer there, the shelves dropped, the contents dropped, and I lost almost everything out of that cabinet. (believe me, the photos don't do it justice -- much was picked up by the time these photos were taken).

Luckily, my Farfel mug made it, along with a few other things like my "horsey" mug. Only one of the fabulous juice glasses (from the 40s? 50s?) survived. I lost some lovely small sundae glasses (great for sorbet), wine glasses, specialty cocktail glasses, lots of mugs and I don't even know what else, since I was left with shards. Shards and shards everywhere.

The new cabinets arrive at the end of October....

By the way, I am moving up the Ravelry list. Right now, there are ONLY 3,236 people ahead of me. BUT, 14,686 after me.

It can't be long now!

August 25, 2007 - The Cardinal Family

Last week, I noticed that there were two fledgeling cardinals. And the adults brought them to the patio to dine (repeatedly) on Sunday. I've been attempting to photograph them, but with little luck...until today.

So, here they are, in all their beauty!

July 31, 2007 - Various Thoughts...

I haven't really tried getting photos of cardinals this year. But the male was fairly photo-cooperative on Sunday. He just is such a beautiful bird. And he has been hanging around my back door for a number of years (I feed the pair peanuts - no shells, no salt, of course). It really is wonderful to hear him sing a few houses away, and when I call him, he chirps while he flies to my back door. He's fairly comfortable with me walking around the patio while he sits on the trellis on one edge of it. I just like him a lot.

And here is that crazy robin. S/he notices the cardinal, or hears my cardinal-impressions, and shows up, then gobbles peanuts. I'm just not used to seeing robins eating peanuts. And this bird is fast! Too fast usually for me to take a photo. And the robin scares away the cardinals, which does not please me.

I've been meaning to post this photo of some yarn I spun, using what I learned from the Summer 2007 issue of Spin Off. The article by Janel Laidman is entitled The Fractal Stripe Sock. Ms. Laidman explains how to spin striping yarn, and it was a real eye-opener for me. I had some roving that I dyed way back (well, that's relative - meaning, this past spring) -- some of my early dyed roving -- and it worked great. I started to knit with it, using a Lucy Neatby short-row scarf pattern that is going very S L O W L Y. I guess this means it's time to finally learn to knit backwards.

July 29, 2007 - Tour Complete!

I can't believe that I got the Tour de Fleece yarn spun! I thought I wasn't going to make it, but finished on Saturday. The challenge was making the time to do it. Having last Sunday (D, Harry Potter and my spinning wheel) to work on this really helped.

I'm very happy with the blue merino. The color varation is surprising. I know I threw in a lot of colors, but there is one skein with a lot of blue (the skein on the far right) -- the others have more camel and lavendar. But, I'm happy with it, and even had time to wet finish it yesterday. The yarn is balanced. The trick I learned from Patsy at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival really helped -- if the plied yarn is twisting Z, it needs more Z. If twisting S, it needs more S. One skein needed to be quickly re-run through the wheel after plying to make it balance. And it worked!

The Corriedale (orange) is completed -- I committed to 2 oz., and I did about three (I have one more ounce) I'd like to get to in the near future. But I'm not that thrilled with it. I haven't wet finished it, so I may like it better when that is completed. I jumped into working on it immediately after I completed the merino, and I think my hands were still thinking it was merino. It seems that there is too much twist, and it isn't as soft as I'd like it. I made it two ply. I may try to spin the remaining ounce and Navajo ply it to see how the color variations look when the colors pool. The colors in the photo aren't particularly true.

I made some new Cushing's dye solutions yesterday, and threw some merino in the crock pot. I'm over-dying it now (it's not the best weather to be boiling water and steaming wool in the kitchen), but I just needed to play with some color.

Becky and I went to Lolita for dinner on Friday. It sure is nice to spend time with a friend who has known me for almost forever. When talking about what has been going on in our lives, I didn't have to go into a whole lot of details, since she knows how I think and respond to things. And, of course, we laughed a lot. I hope we don't have to wait so long until next time we go out.

This was the first time I was at Lolita. I liked it. I wasn't a big fan of the old Lola's (haven't been to the new one). Too much server-angst. There was a weird kind of attitude by the servers, and it didn't enhance my dining experience. Lolita was young and fun, and conversational. Great bartender. Very good food. Bar stools could be more comfortable. But I love it when bars have hooks under the bar to hang one's purse, which Lolita has. Hope to get back there in the near future.

Today, I went to the Farmers' Market at Stearns Farm. Got corn. Yum!

July 25, 2007 - Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival

I returned Monday evening from a glorious few days in Chicago where I attended the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival. I took the Megabus, for a grand total of $40 round trip to Chicago. And my Lendrum came on the trip, stowed in the baggage compartment. It was a relatively hassle-free trip: bus to downtown Cleveland, Megabus, walk to the Blue Line to take the El to O'Hare (I believe that it's called the El even when it is not elevated, but I am not an expert), then rented a car for a couple of days. It was probably break-even, financially, by doing the public transportation and car rental route versus driving. It was nice to not drive, and I got to work on my fall class, listen to my iPod, knit a bit and occasionally nap. Definitely a plus.

A N Y W A Y .....
I took two classes -- one was "The Diversity of Wool" an all-day class taught by Amy Tyler on Friday and an all day class, Handspinning Cotton—The Last Great Frontier, taught by Patsy Sue Zawistoski,. To be honest, I took the cotton class because it was taught by Patsy, and not because of the cotton. Both classes were excellent, and both instructors were prepared beyond words. I learned a lot. Including that I probably should take a beginning spinning class. In any case, the classes were wonderful, and I brought home samples of fiber, and yarn and more knowledge

. Obviously, I'm new to this blogging-thing, because I took one (yes, ONE) photo the entire time I was at the Fair. As a matter of fact, I took ONE photo the entire time I was in Chicago. Here's Patsy demonstrating a charka, which we all got to try. (My Lendrum is in the photo - to the right and under Patsy's arm.)

After I signed up for the classes, I found out they were to be held out of doors. Since the heat can really get to me, I was a bit concerned. But we had fabulous weather, and it was so very nice. Patsy took the photo of a cicada emerging from it's "shell" that landed on one of the other student's shoe (I was surprised that with my bug-magnetism, it didn't land on me). But the classes were not buggy at all.

The market was quite nice too. I had a very good time at the Carolina Homepun booth (where I dropped the most $). It was nice to see Chris of Briar Rose and Susan of Susan's Fibers too. Unfortunately, no one was selling Cushing dyes.

So, what did I buy? Some merino roving from Little Barn; the book, Spinning Wool, Beyond the Basics by Anne Field; silk and merino roving from The Fold (more of what I bought in MD since it was so nice) along with a bit of dyed Polwarth roving; a yarn yardage counter and a hat kit from Carolina Homespun (and maybe a bit of something else that I'm not ready to share!).

On Sunday, D and I went to an office complex that has a lovely outdoor seating area under trees, by a pond. He started reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows aloud while I spun. And we watched a heron catch fish from the pond and a kingfisher (I had never seen one before) fly around. It was a lovely afternoon, and I completed the singles for the Tour de Fleece and in the evening, plyed one bobbin. D read about 175 pages aloud. Of course, no photos...

But when I got home, I took a photo of the plied Tour de Fleece yarn I'm attempting to complete. I'm generally happy with it, but this bobbin looks unrelated to the previous bobbin I plied. Which is very odd. So, somewhere in spinning the singles, I changed "something" -- and I have yet to figure out what that something is.

Well, I got this evening's play list completed for the radio show. Now it's time to write the syllabus for the class that meets in about a month....

July 16, 2007 - Tour de Fleece Roving

I've been remiss in posting about my Tour de Fleece project.

I had almost half of it spun before I joined the Tour. My goal is to complete the spinning of singles from this roving, and then ply into two ply.

I dyed this roving -- it's merino that I purchased at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival from Little Barn (no link -- every time I try it, it doesn't work). I first dyed it in a crock pot, with various squirts of dye solutions I made from Cushings dye. Mostly, blues, lavendar, a bit of pink an some green. It was much duller than I wanted, so I overdyed it, using a lot of golds. The last time I used gold on an overdye, the color turned out wonderful -- almost metallic. Not so here. More like camel.

I know I could have just pulled the less-than-pleasing-camel-color out, but, didn't really want to save it for anything. And I've heard those stories about weird-colored roving turning out to wonderful yarn. So, it stayed in.

I've got a bobbin filled with plyed yarn (photo coming, I promise). Because I've had so little time to spin, the singles are not necessarily consistent -- sitting and spinning for five minutes here and there really isn't helping the yarn. And it isn't all that wonderful for me. But five minutes of spinning is better than no spinning.

I also want to get 2 oz. of another roving I dyed spun. I'm not sure which roving that will be -- and I'm having some fun pondering.

In other news, the garlic is nicely drying in the garage. It should have been harvested last year, but I just didn't get around to it. I think that did it a favor, since there are some very beautiful bulbs. D and I probably pulled up too much -- we should have let some of it sit for longer. I guess that means that friends will be getting garlic soon...

Became this!

After I brushed off some of the dirt and paper covering. Well worth the effort.

July 15, 2007 - Photos, Finally

Here are some photos, finally of some of the things I've been working on...

The fiber and yarn became...

The scarf for my friend Nancy. I used the "Branching Out" pattern by Susan Pierce Lawrence in the 2005 Spring issue of Knitty.

I liked how the colors shaded in the finished scarf.

July 13, 2007 - It's Been a Long, Long Time

It has been a very long time since I posted. Too many things, too little time. And not enough time for spinning or knitting.

I am close to completing the Charlotte's Web Shawl out of Koigu. Just a bit more than a row to knit and then bind off, quick blocking, edging and final blocking. I guess I should be speeding along, but right now, I'd rather spin.

And since we're talking about spinning...I've joined the Tour de Fleece. Better late than never. My goal is to:

  • Complete spinning and plying of hand dyed merino roving (8 oz total, about half is in singles now)

  • Spin 2 oz of hand dyed Corriedale into singles

  • Both hand dyed by me. The challenge: making the time to get it done.

    I completed my first knitting project out of my own hand spun (and hand dyed) yarn recently. It was a gift for my friend who gave (!!) me her Ashford traditional a few years back -- when I was in grad school. I finally learned to spin (well, I took a couple of lessons) just a bit more than a year ago.

    I thought the images of what I knitted were on my laptop, but alas, I need to hunt them down. Perhaps later this weekend.

    The garden is doing well (although thirsty), and have picked tons of lettuce. And a few tomatoes and jalapenos. And we picked the garlic, and it is drying in the garage.

    The cardinals are still visiting at the back door chirping for peanuts (peanuts without shells, of course); a robin is now attracted to peanuts, which is a real suprise; and a spider has taken up residence on the outside of the house, in the kitchen window frame, above the flower display. Photos coming...

    May 8, 2007 - Some Mistakes are Good Ones

    My math skills are quite good. But then there is my checkbook...

    In the last month, I made two substantial math mistakes in my checkbook. Like SUBTRACTING deposits instead of adding them. Twice. Do you know what that means? The amount that I need to add is actually two times the original amount of EACH deposit (to make up for the amount I subtracted and then adding the actual deposit).

    This means I felt fairly comfortable about buying a new spinning wheel at MDS&W. It's a Lendrum. It treadles like butter. I still need to get used to it. I've been using the Ashford exclusively for a year, so there may be some adjustments I need to make in the way I spin.

    I did not go crazy at the festival. A couple of skeins of Koigu and some Tess lace yarn ($10 for 500 yards). How could I resist? Also some fiber for dying. And some organic cotton - I've never spun cotton and I want to see what it is like.

    It was a good trip - beautiful weather and great companionship. Unfortunately, I didn't "find" the blogger meet up. I am pretty sure I eventually figured out what group was bloggers, but wasn't sure, and felt a bit uncomfortable about asking people.

    I finally downloaded some photos from my camera, and this one is from that major snow fall-melt that we had a couple of weeks ago.

    The melting snow looks like lace - snow lace - which inspired me as I attempted to spin lace weight wool.

    April 15, 2007 - Some Completed Knitting

    Following (mostly) a pattern in a Cornelia Tuttle Noro book, I made the following sweater in Jan - March. A few areas that I changed included the neck edge -- the pattern said to bind off -- that was it. I didn't like the unfinished look, so I applied an I-cord edging, and caught it in the shoulder seam of the sweater (shown in the right photo).

    The other change: the center front split of the V made separated the two sides too much. So, I cast on and knit (for about two inches) the center knit rib, before I joined it to the left front. Oh yes, I made it a "right over left" front instead of the "left over right" front that the pattern directed.

    I made this scarf with Briar Rose, Sea Pearl, and it has beads on it. It's 50% merino and 50% tencel -- 500 yards in the skein. The scarf was relatively mindless knit, which was what I needed at the time. It is beautiful yarn to knit with - it felt so good in my hand. And the colors are just lovely. The photo does not do it justice.

    This was knitted when I visited my mother in the hospital in November and December. In November, when my mother was quite ill, knitting on this scarf kept me awake as I sat with my mother at night.

    April 8, 2007 - It Might as Well Be Spring *

    Can you believe this? D and I put the table on the patio last week. Tuesday (that is a whole five days ago) it was over 80 degrees. Yesterday morning, I put a yardstick into the snow that had fallen on the table. Look at the close up below! Almost a foot as of yesterday!

    But it forced me to stay inside and spin.

    I've really been enjoying dying wool. It seems as if I can't get enough of playing with colors on fiber.

    A number of wool pieces were dyed using the steaming method, but I'm enjoying using the crock pot -- I think the crock pot can dye a larger amount (versus steaming roving wrapped in Saran).

    So, here are the newest dyed wool samples. Unfortunately, the colors aren't true.

    In the left photo, what appears as wheat-colored is actually multiple shades of gold and green. I steamed this one in Saran.

    The one on the right turned out too yellow-green. Those who know me know that it is one of my favorite colors, but, I want to knit a lace shawl, and, I really don't need TWO yellow-green lace shawls. So, I threw it in the crock pot again along with some blue-ish dye. The color changed a bit, not as much as I'd like (it would have probably helped if I had left it in longer...). The fiber seems to look a bit abused from the soaking, dying, washing, soaking, drying (and then repeated). I'm looking forward to see how it will spin.

    The two photos below show some yarn spun from the first rovings I dyed.

    The one on the left was dyed in the crockpot. The right photo shows the steamed roving, that was Navajo plied, with a start of some knitting (but I don't have enough to do what I want with it).

    You can look at the March page for details on how I dyed it.

    D dyed the following roving. The photo does not do it justice -- the colors are considerably more vibrant, and are more orange, rather than pink. He used an eye dropper to artistically apply a ton of colors.

    I wanted him to see what it looked like spun and plied, so I made a sample. One is Navajo plied (top sample), and the other is just a two-ply (bottom sample). These colors are more accurate.

    I prefer the three-ply (Navajo ply) over the two ply versions. The color blending and the loftiness of the three ply are just nicer.

    * It Might as Well Be Spring written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, for the musical, State Fair. (I'll be playing this song during my Wednesday night show)

    April 2, 2007 - The Yarn Harlot - Again!

    D and I went to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday, even though I saw her the previous week in NYC. And D wanted to! He enjoys reading her posts -- I am very lucky, indeed! (should I mention that before we left, we hand dyed some wool fiber that I will be spinning soon?)

    We arrived almost an hour and a half before the event, and most seats were already occupied. I thought, "Didn't the book seller read her blog? Like more than 600 people were at the NYC event. Isn't this what the Represent tour is about?"

    (this is only a small portion of the waiting knitters -- there was a crowd behind this. I am the person looking over her left shoulder -- the one with red glasses)

    But we did have fun. She was charming and funny and she wore the Bohus.

    It was very nice to have D hear the Yarn Harlot's views about showing one's yarn stash to non-knitters. It reminded us of the first month of our dating. That's when I told D that I had to "show him something -- something that's a very important part of my life." And, if he couldn't accept this about me, then it was a deal-breaker (yes, I actually used the words "deal-breaker"). I carefully took him upstairs, and began hauling boxes of yarn (lots of boxes) out of the attic. And he thought it was wonderul -- the colors and the textures. And then I knew he was a keeper.

    Stephanie's speech brought back a lovely memory for both of us.

    It was nice to be around so many knitters. I wish I would have been a bit more forward, since I saw a couple of knitters who had especially beautiful knitted items. I thought about complimenting them, including Ann Hanson and Jeanne. But I guess shyness came over me.

    Thanks for your patience. This site has been moved to a different host, and things should be working now.

    March 27, 2007 - Woolly Thoughts

    Today, I got up at around 2:45 AM and cleaned the house. Dusted, vacuumed (including parts of the basement, which is an accomplishment, believe me), threw in laundry, folded clean clothing. Stopped about 5:15 AM, and am pleased that all I need to do (cleaning-wise) is wash some floors. Totally do-able this evening.

    Got ready for work, and then packed a huge bag of fiber I recently dyed so I could show it to a couple of people at work. Carried it into work. (see photos for the fiber when it was out of the bag)

    And then I thought, "Isn't this pathetic? These people have no interest in fiber-related things. None whatsoever. But they are very nice people, and will let me prattle on about dye and color and shading and mixing, etc. But, they have no interest in fiber, and really, this probably means nothing to them … even though they are polite."

    And that is when I missed my mother.

    I would guess that most people who read this know that my mother passed away at the end of this past December.

    My mother could sew and crochet (both done extremely well). And she appreciated my interest in the fiber arts. I dyed fiber for the first time just a couple of weeks ago, so it is something that I never had the opportunity to show her. And now I am searching for someone, ANYONE, who would look at some colored wool. Hmmmm . . . .

    I wasn't able to get to the spinning guild last week, due to getting ready for the radio fundraiser and for the NYC Represent trip. And it was great to be with the NY knitters, getting my fiber-fill.

    But do I need a fiber conversation.

    March 24, 2007 - Returned from "Represent" in NYC

    What a wonderful time in NYC! I needed this trip. Reading the Yarn Harlot's invitation to Manhattan for her book launch was all I needed to make air line and hotel reservations. And I had the bonus of seeing Dr. Jeanne on Friday and stay with her on Friday night.

    My Noro project! The knitters were assembled, and appropriately, knitting, in Central Park before the noon photo.

    Our knitting surrounding the center of the Imagine mosaic.

    The Yarn Harlot, in person!

    A lovely woman with her lovely shawl.

    Thanks to Snitnknit for including a photo of me with my Charlotte's web shawl on her blog. I enjoyed talking with you!

    I went to the Museum of Arts and Design to see the Subversive Lace and Radical Knitting show. WOW, it was great. I spoke with one of the docents, and she said that Everyone at the museum had to learn how to knit to have a better appreciation for the exhibit.

    Then on to FIT!

    Ann Denton of FIT gives us a tour of the knitting lab.

    The crowd eagerly awaits (with knitting, of course). A bag with needles and a skein of soy yarn were on each seat, so we could knit a rectangle for Warm Up America.

    Unfortunately, none my photos of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee at FIT were clear, so there is nothing to post. I have about four very blurry photos.

    Yes, she was wonderful. She had us hanging on her every word. Whether it was about knitting, or her thoughts about how things categorized as "women's interests" are not taken seriously by the media, banks, and even by friends and family.

    On Friday, I didn't make it to the yarn crawl, that Lizbon so generously organized. I did eventually make it to the Japanese book store to look at knitting books...

    and to School Products and Purl in Soho where I found these lovelies...

    It was great to meet these lovely people in New York City -- all sharing a part of our lives with each other. There were so many people connecting with each other and guiding those of us from out of town. I hope that Regina, who directed me to a wonderful restaurant, knows how much I appreciate her restaurant suggestion. Unfortunately, I don't have her last name or email to thank her personally. But, if she's reading this...the chocolate pudding was amazing!

    As I was walking around Soho, I saw this...and I thought it fit in with the "harlot" experience!

    Previous postings in March.


    ©2003 Miss Malarkey