Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Clandestine Midnight Gardening

It was a dark and stormy night..... really!  A shot rang out   sorry, getting carried away.  But it was a dark and stormy night here in the desert of southern California.  DH and I were tucked up snugly in our little condo in the heart of the small, gated community we call home here.  There was some activity in the green belt outside and we looked out.  Our neighbors were in the middle of digging a hole to plant a small lime tree.  Now there's an HOA here, with all the annoying rules.  You're not really supposed to dig up the lawn and plant stuff, but the President is the neighbor whose husband was digging the hole, she's a master gardener, and so there are liberties taken occasionally. We laughed about their little plan to add a tree to the community, and went back to what we were doing; listening to the wind howl and watching tv.  And I was, of course, knitting.

A while later, I heard the sound of water gurgling.  We have a small fountain on our patio, but it had turned off for the night and besides, this sounded distinctly different.  I mentioned it to DH and he went outside to take a look.  Here's the scene now:  it was pitch dark, about 10:30 or so, the sprinklers had gone off, and the whole area around the new little tree was filled with water from the pipe that the clandestine gardeners had broken while digging the hole for the tree.  Uh oh.  There was a problem now.  This would definitely be noticed in the morning.

The wind kept blowing as the conspirators (now including us) assessed the problem.  The pipe needed to be fixed!  One person went to the hardware store (which was closed) for repair supplies, while madame Pres. searched the gardener's shed for sprinkler parts.  We were in luck!  Pipes and glue were available.  I was watching the scurrying from the safety of my patio when I saw a gust of wind blow the poor little tree down.  Timber!  Sitting in a big puddle of water had made it unsteady.  It was moved and the repair work commenced.

So here we were in the dark with a trouble light, a flashlight, a shovel and hose, saw and plumbing supplies.  Fortunately, we live in a corner where no one else is in residence, so we continued along on our merry way with no interference. With a little luck and ingenuity the pipe was repaired, the hole was filled in, and the little tree was set back into place. The surrounding area didn't look great, but it didn't look horrible either.

The next morning the little tree was still standing.

Later that day, it looked a little worse for wear.

Be strong, little lime tree, be strong!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Handspun Sweater

This story starts about six months ago, when I attended the Hansen miniSpinner retreat in Port Townsend, WA.  It was a wonderful experience, and I brought home some roving that I purchased at Taylored Fibers; some beautiful CVM/Merino/Silk.  I had asked Barry about CVM because I wanted to try it.  I had bought a little bit of it previously and it was awful to spin - lumpy and kind of sticky.  Barry told me that it was probably not very good quality and he kindly searched around until he located a quantity of this nice blend.  I bought three bumps; about 21 ounces.

I started spinning it soon after I got back home and after a few months, I had it finished.  I decided to 3-ply it to try to make the fabric look tweedy, and also because it was spinning fairly thin.  When I finished, I was delighted with the yarn.  The judges at the Evergreen State Fair were, too, as I received an award for Class Runner Up for one of the skeins.

The problem was that I only got about 750 yards and didn't think that was enough for a sizeable sweater.  I contacted the Taylors and asked if they had more fiber and, of course, they didn't.  I searched around for sweaters that used a minimal quantity of yarn, and settled on the Summer Open Cardigan from Knitting Pure & Simple.  It's a short raglan style with elbow length sleeves.  I thought it would give me flexibility to end whenever I got short of yarn, so I began.  I knit it pretty much as written, except I put in some waist shaping.  I knit until it was about hip length and then started both sleeves.  I had a couple of minor setbacks on the sleeves; they were getting too tight and one ball of yarn had a lot more green in it, so they were a little mis-matched.  I ripped back a ways, took out some of the sleeve decreases, and started alternating balls of yarn.  The yarn is fairly thick and warm and I thought short sleeves might not be a good idea, so I just kept knitting and managed to get full length sleeves done.  I actually had quite a sizeable ball of yarn left; I must have used less than 700 yards for the sweater, so success!  It took a couple of days to dry after I washed it - we're having record rain even for Seattle - but it fits and is super cozy and warm.

A happy ending to a very satifying project!