Friday, December 11, 2009

Same Song, Green Verse
I know there are others out there in cyberland who keep knitting or crocheting the same pattern over and over because it makes them happy and brings such a satisfying sense of accomplishment. I love that feeling when I knit. I have looked at pattern after pattern of dishcloths so I know that others are knitting the same basic pattern over and over and over. You know a good pattern when you knit it. It feels good and you are comfortable with it. You know inside and out. Slipping into a familiar rhythm.

So this one is no different. I think I have knit at least 12 of this pattern. What can I say? It's the perfect 56 stitch lace scarf for a beginner. It's just enough lace to satisfy a need to knit lace and not feel like it's a life time commitment. Thus this makes the perfect gift for almost any occasion. I can knit this in 10 days or less even while working a part-time job. That's about the same amount of time that I can knit a pair of socks. Of course this time it took me a bit longer because I have been spinning and felting the same time I was knitting on the scarf.

I have never been one for doing gauge, swatching or blocking. I know better but some things you really need to know the gauge, swatch or even block. This pattern however does need to be block ever so slightly. All of the other times I have made this scarf I either steam and hand blocked or hand blocked it on an extra large bath towel. This time I have a new way.

My favorite enabler and I shared an order for KnitPicks and we bought blocking squares. I haven't used them yet and since I returned her blocking wires, I thought the blocks and some old sewing pins would do the trick. They did!

I love the blocks. I really wasn't sure about them but they are wonderful. Why did I wait so long to do this? The pins just slide right in and look at that! There was one little problem though...
My diningroom table isn't long enough to block the whole scarf. Since I sleep on a Sleep Number bed, pinning it the the bed to accomodate for length, isn't happening! So 3/4 of the scarf will be blocked over a two day period. Then I will have to wet the last 1/4 and block that. A little awkward but with five dogs my options are limited for sure.

Here is another view of the scarf in the process of being pinned for blocking. Lastly the close up of the lace. I am sure that if you are a member of Ravelry you can link to my project page and then follow the link to the designer's page. I feel like I got my money's worth from this pattern! I sure hope my friends think as much as their gifts as much as I did making them.

Pattern Stats: Mary designed by Linda Johnson. Knit with US #4 Addi Lace circulars with Misty Alpaca Lace weight.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Seeing Red These Days

Seeing Red These Days

I have to admit that I learned how to spin about four or five years ago, bought a wheel and then set it aside. It's been collecting dust and would continue to do so if it not for the small group of spinners that belong to Yarn for Breakfast. I have talked about them before. Every once in awhile they meet at someone's house and spin, talk about fibers and where to get the "good stuff". Being with them inspired me to start spinning a little more every week.

I went to Rhinebeck (NY Sheep and Wool Show) and bought roving. I have five fleeces stored in the house but thought I needed some more color in my life. I bought red roving what was really meant for felting but didn't realize that until I started to spin it. It's coarse and I have no idea what the fiber was other than it was a nicest color of red. So I snagged it and started spinning. I ended up with this... It's a bit blurry but you get the jest of it. I triple plied the yarn for a project. I did two plies red and threw in one in a misc. light colored roving that I had. The yarn ended up being a bulky yarn. That was what I wanted. It's for a project that needed bulky weight yarn.

I wanted to make my very first bowl from this book. I love books but never seem to use them after I buy them (except for sock books). I have thumbed through this book many times and admired the felted bowl. I have seen them on blogs and different sites and decided I wanted one. So I made one. I have to say that I was totally impressed. The pattern was wonderful. You can be the judge.

Here is the yarn in a cake (same blurry picture as above). Then I knit the bowl. I am sorry that I didn't get a before shot but I was so excited about getting it into the washing machine that I forgot.

After I felted it I found a bowl to serve as a form to put the newly felted bowl on so that it would dry like a "real" bowl. I was lucky because I found a pyrex bowl the perfect size in my cabinet. I wanted the outside of the bowl to dry first so I flipped it upside down and left that way on the dining room table for two days during Thanksgiving.

This is the bowl upside down drying. Once the outside felt dried to the touch I turned it back on the flat side of the bowl so that it would sit flat . Worked like a charm.

I love the texture. I haven't shaved it. Don't think that I will either. I did think that the two colors would be stripped or marbled or something but it turned out speckled. I really do love the way it looks; hairy and speckled.

Here is the final bowl. It's dried and it stands up really well. The walls are not as thick as I thought they would be but I really love the bowl. It has given me great satisfaction to spin the wool, knit the bowl, felt it and now get to use it. I have got to use my books more often!

Friday, November 27, 2009

50, Twice

Fifty, Twice
Not too long ago I turned 50 for the 2nd time. I have to say that it was one of the nicest birthdays I have had via my friends from both close and afar. One friend locally treated me like a princess with some nifty gifties and then two good friends from Ravelry made going to the mailbox a delight.

Let's start with local...

I got lots of goodies in bag. There were designer Kleenex, pads for writing down my thoughts, a mask (we all tried them on), a bouncy balloon and a crown. Not only that but I got treated to lunch out too. It couldn't have been a nicer day with three of my favorite people.

Next a gift in the mail made my day. Even though I am a knitter, I rarely knit useful things for myself (except for a shawl here and there and of course my beloved socks). So my friend from IN sent me these lovelies.

I do knit, but I never knit dish cloths for myself so she did it for me. Not only did I get that but I got a nice message center where I can put paper and a pencil so that when I answer the phone I can actually write something down without searching for something to write with.
She also sent me my favorite candy but as you can see it didn't make it to the photo session...ahem...

I am sorry for the bad quality on my pictures. My camera was have a cranky episode and I couldn't get the flash to work correctly. So it's a bit dark. The back drop is my new bookcase that DH built.

Then my friend from CO sent me these items. I was speechless!

Since the picture is so horrible I will tell you what's in it. There are two felted acorn bags. There is a large one and a small one. Each has a dark brown lid with a nice little handle on it, I think icord. The lids are held shut but little loops that wrap around a cute little wooden button. You can take the lids off and put lots of lovely thing inside each of the acorns. Let me tell you, they were both packed with tons of goodies.

This picture is a better one with all the of contents of both the acorn bags laid out. I got all kinds of things. There is (was) Emerald dark chocolate covered almonds in little bags that were 2.5 ounces that had 100 calories. They didn't last very long...ahem. There is roving I have to add to my spin list, flavored tea bags, a pair of tiny scissors, a tape measure and a bag of earrings. It was just the neatest presentation for a ton of little gifts. I can't tell this person how impressed I was that the whole time we are talking about our knitting projects, she never once mentioned she was knitting on these guys. Just too cute!!

So the gifts in the mail, gifts in person, Birthday greetings both from Ravelry and Facebook and a dog singing Happy Birthday made the day a lovely one. Everyone should be so lucky to have so many nice people in their life.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving and I am thankful for those people in my life who put up with me with a smile on their face and those who put me in my place with a gentle hand. I am very thankful that my grandmother started me down the road of knitting and crocheting when I was a child or none of this would have been possible. I hope that everyone out there in cyberland had a Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving should not be one day of the year but everyday!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Where does your fiber come from?
(warning this is high in fiber content and cuteness-very long post filled with a lot of pictures)

I know that I really didn't give it much thought when I was crocheting many, many years ago where my yarn came from. Do they make an acrylic animal?

I started going to sheep and wool shows because I want to buy things that I couldn't get locally. Little did I know that I would get an education at the same time as shopping. When I looked at the content of yarn I never had seen the sheep the fiber came from. I know that alpaca was soft as well as Merino, but really never had experienced the animals up close and personal until attending sheep and wool shows. What a great education it has been. I see something new every year.

This year was no different when it came to seeing the fiber bearing animals in person. I saw all kinds of great animals.

Below you will see one of the most photographed young man at the show. Meet Zack...

This handsome young man has some pretty impressive horns. Check them out. Can you imagine that coming toward you in a sheep pen with a good head of steam??
Then we moved over to the Angoras pen. What a lovely, soft and silky group of animals

They were pets more than anthing else. The older gentleman in the middle picture is the owner. The ram who is standing up wanted his attention to be pet. He was very friendly and let others pet him but really wanted his "daddy" to scratch his head.

These are some of the most expensive sheep that were at the show. These sheep do not get sheared like other sheep. Their fleece falls out in clumps and you have to pick it up off the group when they "shed" their fleece. I have met the owner at Maryland Sheep & Wool and she quoted me a price of $600 for one sheep. Soays are small sheep like Shetlands. She told me there is a waiting list for their fleece. Now that's a good business when someone waits on a list to get the fleece.
I have never seen a Soay that is any other color but brown. There might be other colors but I am not sure. They are just so shy and very small. This would be a great sheep for someone who has small land space challenges.

As I mentioned above, I learn something new about sheep every year I go. This is my first year to see this breed of sheep named, Ouessant. You can read more details about them here. It states on that board pictured that these are the world's smallest sheep. If you google them you will see a link with tons of pictures of the sheep. They seem to come in colors besides brown. Take a look. They are so interesting to read about. I did not get a chance to touch them or see what their fleece is like. Just loved they are so small and it's a breed I had never heard of until the show.

I think the weather at Rhinebeck this year was perfect for this sheep...I bet he/she was perfectly content.
Look at that fleece! Boy wouldn't you like to get ahold of that to spin!
Here are beautiful Jacobs. One of the most fun things about Jacobs is their horns. They can have up to 2 sets and each an go a different direction. It's funny to look at their horns. Check out this guy's horns. Funny, huh?
If you are a spinner you will recongize this breed below. I love spinning with Corriedale mixed with Lincoln wool. It's super easy to spin.

Look at these project wannabes! Man that's some fleece!
These are not a new breed for me but you don't see these in too many places...
These sheep look so cuddly. Sorry I didn't get anything but the back side but their food is more important to them than my photo.
These are sheep whose fiber I have not used yet. They are attractive sheep though.

I have pictures of the llamas and alpacas but will save that for another day

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vacation Travels and Finds

Vacation Travels and Finds
(This contains one cool knitting thing but the rest is about all the places I went on vacation in Milwaukee besides the yarn shops)
The whole point of going away for nearly two weeks was to see my son and daughter-in-law. There they are! We had a whole day of shopping with the kids and my DIL suggested we go to a cute little place called Cedarburg, WI. There are tons of cute little shops and believe me we looked at a lot of them. We visited the Cedar Creek Winery and you know I can't go to a winery without making a purchase or three. We did the tasting and came away with three bottles of our own; Pinot Grigio, Cranberry Blush and a bottle of Settlement Gold.

Not only did we get three bottles of great wine but something really cute and very funny. Can you guess what these are? I had never seen these until our visit.

These are wine glass coasters. The green grapes are for the white wine and the dark ones are for the red wine. You just slip your glass right in the flip flops as if they were your feet.
Pretty clever! Don't you think? They were $5 a piece but so worth it if not for the "funny factor.
We drank the Pinot one night with some beer marinated grilled brats. They were totally yummy for two reasons. One, I didn't have to cook them and two the person who did cook them knew exactly what they were doing. That would be my DIL's older brother. They were awesome! Thank you D!

While we were in the same building as the winery we ventured upstairs to a little resale shop and I made the cutest purchase. This was a find of a life time.

I bought the cutest little spinning wheel lamp. Did anyone know there were spinning wheel lamps?? The price on the lamp was $12.95 but there was a 50% off sign on it and I got it for $6.50. Can you believe it? The little wheel actually turns and the pedal moves up and down. Too funny! I haven't decided where to put it yet, but I just had to have it! What spinner would pass this up??

Then there was the trip to Penzeys Spices. I love getting the catalogs and even better when I get to actually go to one of their stores. I have been to the Penzeys in Kansas City and now Milwaukee. I went nuts there too. It will all be used up sooner or later.
I tried to buy things that I have never bought before to give them a try without paying for shipping and handling.

I love Penzeys Hot Chocolate mix. With cold weather coming I think it was a good buy!

Since DH humored me and took me a for a whole day of a yarn crawl, I sucked it up and did something with him and the kids I never thought I would ever do...
Can you guess where I was??? Here are some more hints... still no? Okay one more??

Okay surely you have guess by now? The two older bikes were the precursor to what was to come to be a multi-million dollar business. The two newer looking bikes are history makers in their own time. They are the two bikes in this movie.

This bike belonged to the one and only...and they even had the original bill of sale with his signature on it. Very impressive to me. I dearly loved this singer as a teenager and well as millions of us did.

Why anyone would want to do this to a bike, was beyond me but they did and it wasn't too, horrible. The picture does not do it justice. It was so sparkly!

Okay, okay so we did the tourist thing and sat on the bikes in the bike room. It was our vacation after all! That's the longest I have ever sat on a motorcycle and will probably be the last time too!
Okay, that's enough about my vacation for now. Some other cool things happened while I was on vacation but that will be in yet another post. So your knitting vacations involve going to "guy" places to offset the "girl" places? Well, it only seemed fair!