Sunday, December 23, 2012

All Done

Last Tuesday, our little Princess graduated from UNLV a semester ahead of time.  This brings to a close our college years.  Three kids in, three kids out.  I'm so proud of all of them.

We spent a couple of days in windy, cold Las Vegas and watched as our little girl received her degree along with about 2000 other people.  Yes, it was a long ceremony, but I had brought a little something to do, which worked fine as long as the lights were on and I didn't mess up.  After messing up, I put the sock back into my bag and did what everyone else was doing, sitting there.  Or texting someone.

The sea of red in the large arena made it hard to take pictures with my little camera, but I got a couple recognizable ones. The entertaining speakers of the bunch were an undergraduate honoree and Guy Fieri, who received an honorary doctorate.  Guy, of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives fame, graduated from the same UNLV school of hospitality that the Princess attended.

Congratulations, Princess, I'm proud of you and I'm proud of us.  On to the next thing!

Friday, November 30, 2012

If I Only Had More Hands

When the spam comments dry up, I figure it's time for a new blog post.  I've been home in Seattle for a couple of weeks and now I'm remembering why it's nicer to be in the desert at this time of year.  Rain, rain, rain....I know, it could be worse, but it's pretty gloomy.

So this weather leads me to my activity of dreaming up projects to knit and spin and then trying to figure out how I can do all of them at the same time.  That leads to this:

The WIP pile of doom.  Being on my own for awhile leads to my habit of spreading out various projects over the sectional in the basement and working on multiple things.  Tired of the sweater?  No problem, pick up the mitten...or the fingerless mitt...or the blanket...or the sock...or plan tomorrow's cast on of the stash-busting Color Affection Shawl...or print out a pattern for a hat that would make a nice gift.  Then spin for awhile with the handy miniSpinner that I can put right onto the sofa with me.  And I still have the Girasole languishing in my knitting room all alone.  Oh, well, I'm managing to stay out of trouble this way.

I'm feeling a little headache-y and tired today and I think that means the Detox I'm doing is working.  DH and I watched a Dr. Oz show that talked about a 3 day detox plan, so Wednesday I picked up a bunch of fruit and vegetables and started it yesterday.  You make smoothies (they're not juice because you don't remove the pulp so they're thick) out of a variety of ingredients and that's all you have for three days.  (You can see the tall glass of green stuff there on the table.)  I've done several days of mostly juice before but I don't remember feeling like this.  Maybe some of these ingredients are more detoxifying than others, though there really is nothing weird about them.  I managed to get everything I needed at Trader Joe's, thereby avoiding a more expensive trip to Whole Foods.  So it's going pretty well, even though the Green Tea in the morning sometimes upsets my stomach.  When I do this, I always hesitate about cutting out coffee, since I know I'll go back to drinking it, but this time I'm not having any.  I've been eating pretty carefully for the last couple of years, but Thanksgiving came and I managed to eat my share of bread and sugar, so I decided a quick detox couldn't hurt.

I finished the gift socks I was making, but I think that's all.  

Oh, in looking back, I see that I didn't report on the completion of my Featherweight.  I love the yarn and the color, but I wish I'd made it a little bit bigger.  And I really don't like the fit of raglan sleeves.  Guess that's why I started two more sweaters in the same style.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Hummingbirds

First of all, let me apologize for being in a place where the sun is shining and there's barely a breeze, let alone a hurricane.  I pray for everyone in the storm's path and sincerely hope that it passes quickly and the damage isn't too severe.

That being said, I wanted to share what I was treated to today.  I was sitting out in our little courtyard, where we have a few potted plants and a hummingbird feeder.  DH has set up a twig along the wall and the little birds like to perch there to be ready to defend the feeder.  I noticed a little hummingbird sitting there.  Then another came along and sat down beside the first.  From the markings, I assume that the first bird was female and the second was male.  They looked around for a couple of minutes.  Then another bird approached.  The male flew up to chase it away, then returned to the perch.  This happened a few more times.

 Then the male began to hover over the female in some sort of mating ritual? Dance to impress her?  Just for fun?  I don't know, but it was sure cool to see.  I had my phone with me and snapped some photos.  If you click on them, they'll get larger.

On the other side of the house, we have three hummingbird feeders and just added a thistle sock for the finches.  I was at a local nursery the other day and was fascinated by the number of goldfinches feeding at this soft bag full of seeds.  There must have been ten at a time.  So of course I had to buy one of the feeders on the way out, get another shepherd's hook hanger, and try to attract some finches to our patio.  It didn't take long and now we've seen up to three at a time.  They also frequent our little fountain to drink and bathe.

Doesn't take much to amuse me!  In other news, I blocked the Featherweight cardigan and the two fronts evened out.  Just have to weave in the ends and get a good photo.

Stay safe and dry, everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Endless Summer

For those of you who are already in the thick of fall cold and storms, sorry.  For those of you who are enjoying extended fall colors and a nip in the air, I envy you.

I left Seattle for the desert on October 9th.  We had had so much nice weather that the leaves hadn't changed yet and there hadn't been any rain or wind to knock the leaves off.  I was still cutting roses and picking grapes and raspberries.  I should have stayed a week longer, but who's to know?

I arrived here to find temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s.  I wasn't impressed.  It was too darn hot! Just this week we've had morning temps in the high 50s and 60s and highs in the mid 80s.  Now we're talking.  Today is the first day that I think I won't demand AC on.  I shouldn't complain and I shouldn't say this out loud...but I want to see rain.  I'm sure when I get back home in mid November I'll see more than enough rain, so I'll just have to suck it up and enjoy this awesome weather.

I started a pair of socks on the plane down.  Definitely better than snakes on a plane.....(feel free to groan.)  They're a gift and I'm using the Hermione's Everyday Sock pattern.  The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot and it's thicker than fingering, so these socks are coming out very warm and cushy.  I hope the recipient likes them.  I may make her an extra pair out of regular fingering weight yarn because these seem pretty thick to me and might end up being more around-the-house socks.  I know she appreciates hand knit socks and wears them, so I'm happy to make them.  One is done and the other is started.

My other project that's almost finished is the Featherweight Cardigan.  I'm making it out of Wollmeise sock weight yarn in the Rittersporn colorway.  I'm using two balls and alternating to minimize pooling. I like the way it looks; just hope it fits well.  Raglan sweaters aren't my favorite and the sleeves seem a little tight, but I think it will stretch enough (famous last words? hope not) and it should be a nice lightweight sweater.

We finally got the wedding photos, so I'll share a couple more here.  I'm putting together a slide show that we can watch with the family at Thanksgiving and I'll probably try it out on the neighbors here if they don't run away fast enough.

I may be biased, but I think our Princess was a stunning bride.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

No End to the Bountiful Harvest

More plums (Italian prunes this time), raspberries, and one of the two kinds of grapes from the yard.  Will the harvest never end this year?  The cake is made with some of the plums and is ready for the oldest boy's birthday dinner tonight.

The weather here in the Seattle area is unbelievably beautiful.  In fact, I'm thinking that a rainy day would be nice but the forecast just says sunny, sunny, sunny.  I think we must be in some parallel universe.

In knitting news, I finished some socks.  These are basic, ribbed, self-striping socks with an afterthought heel.  The yarn is some I bought at the last Sock Summit from The Amy Lee Show.  I like the sparkle!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How I Spent My Saturday

It was an intimate luncheon for 3000 people with some special entertainment.  The fundraiser was for Jay Inslee, who will hopefully be the next Governor of Washington.  In addition to President Clinton, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell spoke and some other notable locals also took the stage.  Musical entertainment was by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie.  All in all, a fun and interesting afternoon.

Tomorrow I get to see Huey Lewis and the News at an outdoor concert at a local winery.  A busy weekend for this little old knitter.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lesson for the Day

Never work on lace, even if it's in worsted weight yarn, after/while drinking a martini.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's Always Something

I did nicely at the fair this year and I went to pick up my entries on Tuesday.  Each entry is returned with the judge's report and that can be pretty helpful.  Sometimes they give comments that really explain what could have been done better and I like it when they do that.

Both of my shawls won blue ribbons and also best presentation ribbons that are "awarded at the judge's discretion to items of most lovely and eye catching appearance."  Cool!  I never actually thought about what I might do with my Pi shawl but I folded it in half and tried it on yesterday and it sits nicely on my shoulders.  Might be wearable on occasion.  Side note:  I like knitting shawls but rarely wear them.  Anyone else do that?

This was the Gull Wings pattern in the Elizabeth Zimmermann anniversary shawl series by Mwaa Knit.

The other shawl I entered was my Stephen West mystery knit Earth and Sky.  I mentioned before that I just grabbed this at the last minute to enter because I didn't have anything else that was suitable.  I haven't been crazy about the mixture of colors in this project and probably wouldn't have used the red with the other two if I had known what the pattern would look like when I started.

The judge disagreed!  She awarded the maximum points (5) with a + behind it for Color Use and Overall Impression.  She also knew the pattern.  Her notes read:  What great hand dyed yarns that combined well in this shawl.  If you chose them before the knitalong, wow!  OK, it's wow even after :) I loved that she knew it and appreciated it.  Of course, the yarn was Wollmeise so it had to look good!

One comment I still get pretty consistently is that my stitch tension isn't even.  I worked on that years ago and tightening up my purling helped but obviously I still need to pay more attention to it.  I'll have to look up some more suggestions since I don't know how to fix the problem.

Now to the spinning:

I had thought that my gradient socks would get some sort of extra ribbon; the yarn was spun pretty well, the pattern fit the yarn, and the colors were beautiful.  I had to laugh when I read the judge's comment.  It was clear that she liked the project a lot but had to point out a small discrepancy...."I'm sorry, but you forgot to do the heel cup on one sock."  No wonder the toe on one was longer.  I made the heel flap and then just went right into the gusset.  Funny, it fits fine but it definitely is wrong.  Just when you start getting too cocky, you forget to turn the heel.  Now my OCD wants me to go back and do it again but I haven't decided.  It won't show in a shoe but I'll know it's there.....

The other handspun socks also got a blue ribbon.

The comments on the skeins were helpful this year, too.  I'll have some things to work on for the future. I tend to have twist issues here and there and also found out that I need to learn how to tie a proper figure eight.  Have already looked it up on You Tube and won't make that mistake again!

All in all, a successful experience.  I demonstrated spinning once and knitting twice this year, so got to spend two days at the Fair.  Brings back memories of when we took the kids there when they were little.  And the scones are still good!

Friday, August 31, 2012

What's With All the Plums?

We have some dwarf fruit trees in our yard and they usually have a moderate amount of fruit on them.  The cherry tree - birds eat them all; the pear tree - a few small pears that don't get ripe; the apple tree - if I don't put little socks on the apples they usually have apple maggots; the yellow plums - there's usually quite a few of those but they're small and don't get much attention; the little old Italian Prune tree - I love these and pick and eat as many as I can.  This year?  Lots of everything.  I've brought in some pears to try to ripen them up and picked some apples to see what shape they're in.  The Italian prunes aren't quite ripe, but it looks like I'll get some.

The yellow plums are amazing.  There are so many plums on this little tree I don't know how it stands up.  I've been picking them and giving them away for a couple of weeks and today it still looked like no one had picked any.  So I found a local food bank to give a bunch to and spent a couple of hours this afternoon picking them, washing them, throwing the ones that squished after all that attention into the yard waste, and then packing them up.  By the time I was filthy, scratched, and worn out, I had three bags and two 5-gallon buckets full.

When I delivered them, they were weighed and I had brought in 47 pounds of plums.  I feel good about  sharing this bounty with others.  I definitely know that I don't have a future in fruit picking.  I get scared after three steps on the ladder and I don't like all the twigs in my hair. And there are still plums on the tree.

I did pretty well at the Fair.  I'm going back tomorrow morning to demonstrate knitting again and will take a better photo of one of my projects so I can post about it.  I'll get to spend some time looking at the animals tomorrow, too.  I'm looking forward to that.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cast On Frenzy and Fair

The Evergreen State Fair started yesterday here in Washington.  For the past few years (2 or 3?) I have entered knitting and spinning into the needle arts competition.  I love to go and look at everyone's work and it's cool to win ribbons, too.  Even though it's a point system like school (90% is blue ribbon, 80% is red, etc., so there might be a bunch of blue ribbons in your category) it's still very fun to see your work adorned with ribbons.  However, it's best to see your work adorned with "special" ribbons - the big, colorful rosettes - and I only have one of them, for "presentation".  And I don't know what that really means.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I drove out to the fairgrounds to turn in my entries.  I entered a Pi shawl made from Wollmeise lace and my Earth and Sky shawl, also made from Wollmeise, into the knitting category.  My plan always is to enter my sock yarn blanket and really wow them (big rosette, yeah!) but somehow it's never finished.  Another detail:  how is it possible to know that the fair is coming every year in August but yet be surprised when the postcard with the entry dates comes in the mail and not really have anything done that's suitable to enter?  Don't know.

I entered more things into the spinning category.  I made two pairs of pretty cool socks out of handspun yarn.

 I also entered two or three skeins of yarn that I spun.  I was planning to enter a shawl made from handspun singles, but somehow that didn't get finished and the other handspun shawl I was considering for entry got frogged for the third time when I ran out of yarn.  The best laid plans.....

I will be demonstrating both knitting and spinning at the fair on Sunday, so will know what I won in just two days.  I'm excited to see everything, learn my results, and just spend a day talking to people about knitting and spinning.  A fun day.

Meanwhile..... I've finished a couple of things and cast on a few more.  I've been working on a scarf for my MIL's birthday and finished it the other day.  It's the Rivolo by Anne Hanson and made from Wollmeise Pure yarn in the Blue Curacao colorway.  I think it came out nicely.  Here's a photo in progress.

I also finished a strip of knitting out of worsted scraps that will be used for yarn bombing at the fair.  Someone decided to liven up the big old barns that are used for display by covering the pillars with knitted fabric, so I decided to contribute.  I'll take some photos of how it looks on Sunday.

I cast on Hannah Fettig's Featherweight cardigan in Wollmeise Pure in the Rittorsporn colorway (I'm sensing a theme here in choices of yarn).  It's looking a little more variegated than I thought it would, so I hope it doesn't look too stripey. I'll keep an eye on it as it gets larger.

Then, because I couldn't just work on that, I cast on another shawl out of the cursed handspun that I've tried to make three projects out of already.  The yarn is holding up fairly well after all the ripping and I hope that this shawlette will be successful.  It's Sugared Violets by Rose Beck.  She has a booklet of 5 shawls and I think they're all really nice.

And, since I'm easily influenced, and need to have some socks going, I cast on some plain socks in a self-striping, beautiful yarn that I got at the last Sock Summit.  It's from Canon Hand Dyes  and is sparkly!  I listen to a podcast that is doing a self-striping KAL so I decided to join in and knit up one of the skeins of self-striping yarn that I had stockpiled.

This was a little challenging to get going; I wound up the yarn and cast on.  I was pulling from the center and the yarn got tangled.  I tried to rewind the yarn from the other end and not disturb the cast on.  The yarn wound too loosely and flew off the ball winder in the middle of everything.  I tried to untangle the mess and had to break the yarn.  After some time and some choice words, I took everything to the sofa and wound it back up by hand.  After knitting a couple of inches, I decided that the sock was going to be too big so I started over on fewer stitches.

Things should go smoothly now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I know I've been MIA these last two months. and I'll have a lot to catch up on at some point.  Aside from the Tour de Fleece, which I participated in and spun every day during, my attention has been taken up with the wedding of the Princess.  Yes, my little girl was married last Sunday, July 29th.  It was a spectacular event down to the smallest detail and was amazingly beautiful and fun.  My introverted personality was tested as I had a houseful of people for ten days, hosted a rehearsal dinner for 40 or so people, and then hosted the wedding.  I was lucky enough to have great help and was able to enjoy myself all the way through to the "after party" planned by one of the bridesmaids that continued after the wedding at our house into the wee hours with many young people and a big bottle of tequila.  Who says knitters don't know how to have fun?

Professional photos aren't available yet but a few of the kids have provided iPhone photos.  You can get an idea of how incredibly beautiful our Princess was (and is).  And yes, I think I'm completely objective!

The wedding took place outdoors on a covered patio at a golf course/country club. The photographer took the bridal party out onto the course for photos. I'll wait to put up more info when we get the official photos.

For now, here's yarn!  I spun a bunch during Tour de Fleece and ended up with these lovely skeins.
A bright BFL braid from Bohoknitterchic in an official TdF colorway became this skein after I spun it fractally.  Love how the colors mixed.

This was a "potion" made from two braids of fiber.  One was Polwarth/Silk and the other was Merino.  I spun each one and then plied them together to make a combination yarn.  It's a big 8 ounce skein.

This is another skein of BFL.  It wasn't totally finished during TdF.  I have a coordinating braid in a plum color that I plan to spin and then use them both for some sort of striped shawl.

This is a lovely Fiber Optic merino/silk gradient that I spun and navajo plied.  It's already well on its way to becoming socks that I plan to enter into the state fair this year.  Entries are due by Saturday, so I'm busy getting everything done that I can.

More knitting, spinning, and wedding details at a later date.  Hope your summer is going well!