Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer Doldrums and Yarn Diet

We have had so many days over 90 degrees this summer, with only one bout of rain in the last month and the heat is finally starting to get to me. In the winter, I can put on wool sweaters, socks, hats, scarves and mittens, and I should be knitting to prepare for next winter when the cold chill sets in. However, today with the temperature again over 90, I just don't feel like it. So there.....

I have enough spun yarn in the blue green to plan a hat/mitten combo, but can't narrow it down to a pattern choice. I will use the bulky skein for the hat and the 2nd thinner skein for the mittens. My spinning on this fiber is getting close to the end, and I should have enough yarn for sure with a 3rd and possibly a 4th skein to finish up.

I have put my self on a self imposed Yarn Diet and I won't buy any new yarn till September at the earliest. There, I have said it out loud, told my readers, and the world wide web (exaggerating, yes!) and now I have to stick with it. If you look at my Ravelry page (for Ravelry members), you will see I do have a stash that will last far beyond the New Year. I haven't totaled my yardage in my stash but I am sure it would add up to A LOT. Maybe not as much as some who have to hide their stash in every nook and cranny of the house, but the bookshelves in the craft room upstairs are getting full. I have at least two whole sweater projects to start from scratch and a heavy weight pullover that just needs finishing.....for the last 2 years! There is a Sunrise Circle Jacket in which I have finished the back, not to mention many pairs of socks-to-be. These don't show up in my projects page, because I have not yet photographed them or added them to my Ravelry page. Now that I look over this posting, I have to chuckle because September is only 5 weeks away.. That is like saying I am going on a very serious weight loss diet and I will stay on til Monday! I guess I will just try to be good and thrifty and knit from the stash.....for as long as I can.

There were two bright spots today, however. I went to a 95th birthday party for the father of a friend of mine. Even though Homer is not a relative, we were all family as we shared a luncheon, stories, memories and laughter. It is so nice to be able to tell the stories with the honoree and family and friends present, instead of after they pass on. Hear Hear! L'Chaim: To Life and raise a glass to Homer!

After I got home in the early afternoon (95 year olds do NOT party at night!) I quickly changed clothes and ran down to my LYS to knit a bit on the World's Biggest Sock. Darn I forgot my camera, but the sock will be there about a month and I will go back to add photos to the blog. The sock started originally in the UK and sock arrived from Rochester NY. The box was 23 lbs in weight and as a top down sock, it is aiming for 12' (that's 12 feet!!) for the cuff before the heel. There is about 4 feet done in worsted weight mostly of all colors and texture, with a few novelties thrown in for good measure. I couldn't really tell exactly, but there are about 6 circular needles which you knit on one set at a time for as long as you want. I heard that a few men learned to knit and added a few stitches each, and some knitted a whole round. Quite a feat, as there is probably a 12 foot circumference to the top of the sock. I knit about 100 stitches, but didn't even get to the end of my set of needles. If you have ever knit socks on two circular needles, it is the same technique, but with multiple sets of needles. After it finishes up its stay in Littleton, it travels on to Anchorage Alaska.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the needles and spindle

I am definitely improving in the spinning. Here is a side by side comparison of two skeins from the same fiber. As a reminder, the fiber is vegetable dyed CVM and it was spun on the Tracy Eichhheim hummingbird spindle. When I was plying it, I made a concentrated effort to put a lot of twist in it and I think most of it looks great. How 'bout you??

I have enough fiber for another skein or two, so I thinks a couple of hats and mittens are in its future. Now just to decide on a pattern.

The BSJ is coming along. Using the extra notes, along with the pattern it is starting to make sense, but I better not get cocky. The yarn is very soft but I am disappointed that it is getting a little fuzzy from handling as knitting.

Finished one sock and am almost to the heel of the second on Mom's socks. Love this yarn and I know they will be nice and warm in the winter. It is hard to think about winter when it reached 100 degrees today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This and That

The weekend was a success for all. I went to pickup Amanda at the airport, waited in the "45 minute holding area" for her call, and then headed to the west side of the departure area to pick her up, since she only had carryon luggage. I waited and waited and waited. She called again and said she was at door 611. Of course, the West side only has EVEN numbered doors--- she had gone out the east side. If anyone has ever been to Denver International Airport you know that it is quite a trek from one side to the other. I waited some more and there she was, relaxed as ever, and on the phone, as always. We had a lovely afternoon driving home, picking up Gary, going to lunch, and then over to my Mom's for a visit.

We then went to Target to buy baby gifts for her friend from high school who is due next month. Back home, it was time for her to get ready for her 10th High School Reunion. To me, she still looks the same as high school, but she had grown up so much inside and I really enjoyed our visiting. Before she left, we took photos, just like she was going to the Prom!

On Sunday I worked, and she was busy all day, but late in the evening, she came home and we talked some more. What a pleasure. Only the people who know us know what a challenge she used to be and how little time we were able to spend together before the conversations deteriorated into arguments. I like it so much better now...... Monday she flew home but not until we bought her a new sleeper sofa for her new apartment on the upper west side. It is a real 1 bedroom, and I want to make sure when I go to visit, I won't be sleeping on the floor.

Last week, I took care of a co-workers kitties while she was on vacation. Three times in the week I went over to take care of the litter box, feed them, air out the house, deadhead some roses, and water some plants. Sounds like work, but it was very nice, because she lives in a beautiful house with lots of open space around and she has a lovely deck in back. She also left me frozen margaritas in the freezer to enjoy. I spent a few hours each time relaxing on the deck, listening to my Ipod, knitting and enjoying the margaritas and sunsets. I finally remembered my camera on the last night.

Knitting update. I have begun the Baby Surprise Jacket by EZ to give to my college roommate's first grandchild due in January. I purchased Dark Horse Fantasy, which is acrylic and nylon. It is washable and very soft. I chose a pale shade of sage green and a multi color green. This is the first time I have tried this pattern and not knowing what I am doing, I am adding some stripes, but I have no idea where they will end up once the finished piece is folded into a sweater. I think this first batch of stripes is on the sleeve, but I am not really sure.

I started this pattern twice because I just didn't get it. Thanks again to Ravelry and the forums, I have found several explanations and alternative ways to do things here. I have chosen a different double decrease for the diagonal lines than the pattern originally calls for. I am using the following: slip 2 as if to knit, knit one, pass slip stitches over the knit stitch. What this does is lay a nice knit stitch diagonally on top of the garter stitches. On the wrong side, you purl the stitch which is behind the diagonal. If you have ever done the Jaywalker socks, it is the same double decrease there.
I have been spinning away on the blue green CVM fiber. I had a good amount on two toilet paper rolls, so I rigged up a Lazy Kate with a shoe box, and knitting needles.

Taking Jennifer's suggestion (thank you), from her comments on a previous post, I used my ball winder and wound the two singles together into a center pull ball, and began plying together from the OUTSIDE of this ball. It is going really well and I should be done with the 44 grams tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the finished washed and skeined yarn is much thinner than the first skein from a few weeks ago. I feel like I am really spinning much more consistantly thin now and I will post a side by side shot of the two skeins when I finish it.

I still have lots of fiber to go, so I am sure I will have enough for a small project, not yet determined.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Crazy weekend to come

I am picking up Amanda (#1 daughter) at the airport at noon, but except for the car ride to and from the airport, I don't know how much we will see of her. It is much like High School when she passed in the night and if we saw her car outside, we knew she was home...usually.

Hopefully we will find some time to go over and visit with Mom as she really enjoys the kids around. How lucky we are that my folks moved here when they were young enough to make a new life (after 35 years in CT) and to really have a good relationship with my kids. I was the rebel who moved away from the east coast at 23 to Colorado and never went home, except for visits. Once I married and the kids were here, I was at such a loss not having any of my family here. When you are young you don't think about those things the same way you do when the kids move away themselves. We are now scattered again, and Dad is gone. The family is shrinking and I now know how my parents must have felt with me being so far away. Now one is in New York, and the other in Kansas City. At least we have cell phones and the Verizon family network. But it is not the same.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July Weekend.

Most people had a three day weekend to relax and enjoy, but me....I only had off the 4th and worked both Saturday and Sunday. We are very lucky that we close on some holidays when the rest of the mall is open: New Year's Day and the 4th of July. My "weekend" was last Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Friday the 4th, I went down to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival with a coworker friend. We have been going down each year on a mutual day off and have enjoyed the crowds and the heat. How we really enjoy it.... is going down early, viewing most of the show, and then having a nice sit-down lunch with wine at one of the independent restaurants that dot the Cherry Creek area. I can't understand purchasing a very expensive lunch in small portions from the street booths and then sitting on the lawn or dirt or worse to eat. It is so much nicer splurging in a restaurant where we get served. Is this a sign that I am getting old??

I actually purchased some earrings this year for myself:
from 314 Studio in the Boston area. They were affordable and perfect since I love silver. This year it seemed that there were a lot more new artists represented and they offered a greater variety of arts and crafts than I have seen in past years at more affordable prices.

Lunch was at Soleil and we had a lovely lunch of tapas. The "Bag of Dirty Shrimp" was to die for and we enjoyed the Spanakopita and Bruschetta as well. They have a lovely outdoor dining area under a tree and we were able to watch the crowds wither in the sun as they walked the festival streets.
The rest of the weekend I worked......nuff said about that........

As for knitting, I picked up the Booby Socks again and began trying to avoid the ladders that plagued me the first go round. For the last stitch of the row and the first stitch on the next needle, I have been wrapping the purl stitch the opposite way and it seems to be helping a little. I still see a little laddering....argh....
I have been taking Mom's socks to work to knit during lunch and I have turned the heel and have been working the gussets around. Really love this yarn to knit with and they will make lovely socks. There is no pooling of the colors at all so far and I am glad for that.
I also have been spindle spinning each night as well. I took my first singles spun and have been re-spinning and drafting out the large lumpy unspun portions as best as I can. I have been doing this on the basic spindle which I have learned is a Snipes. On the CD Spindle is the wool/mohair blend, and on the Eichheim is the CVM. I have enough to wind into a center pull ball of it now, and then ply, but lately I have been reading on Ravelry about the nightmare of plying from center pull balls. I didn't have much trouble with my first attempt, because it wasn't so finely spun, but I am a bit worried about this batch because the singles are much thinner.

No. 1 daughter is coming home next weekend for a baby shower and her 10th high school reunion. Hard to believe it has been 10 years and her friends are having babies......It will be quite a while before I have my own babies to knit for......everything in its own time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

2 Days off feels like a Vacation

Because the store is closed on July 4th and I am working both Saturday and Sunday, I actually had two days off in a row. To make that even better, tomorrow I don't have to be in until 1pm so I have the whole morning off too. That means 3 days of sleeping in (and staying up late the night before!!), getting some excercise and craft time in. A real vacation, which doesn't cost anything, if only I could stay out of the stores......
I finished up my "Prague Socks", blocked and dried them, and neatly folded them away for when the fall days are next upon us.
I cast-on a new pair right away which I will give to MOM, not a surprise, but a promise made during our trip to Europe. I am using the Lana Grosse varigated yarn bought in Volkach, Germany and the basic pattern I use for plain socks by Diane Soucy from Knitting Pure and Simple. They are actually a bit heavier than fingering weight and making a nice firm fabric. I am loving how the colors are coming up. No pooling so far and keeping the plain knitting interesting. They should be nice and warm and toasty for this winter.
Last night was knit-night at my local yarn store and Stacy met me there. We caught up after the wool fest and discussed our Alpaca yarn. She has actually knitted up a swatch and it is very light and delicate.... and oh so soft. Thinking that I might not have enough for a full size sweater at a small enough gauge, I may either double up the yarn and make hats and mittens (oooooooh) or use a lacy pattern and make a 3/4 sleeve light weight sweater. be continued....... I also purchased some arcrylic to make a Baby Surprise Jacket. No babies in my family, but I have until January to make this for Candy's first grandchild. She is having surgery on her hand, so knitting for her is out of the question for the immediate future.
I bought Maggie Casey's new book " Start Spinning" and read through it while sipping an iced latte on Starbucks patio (see....vacation activity!) I am amazed how much I have already figured out using the internet and Ravelry resources about drop spindling. The photos are fabulous--and a terrific resource for any new spinner. At this point I have no desire for a wheel, and Alison if you are reading this, there will NOT be any sheep grazing in the backyard the next time you come home, but be careful before you jump into your bathtub here, as there just might be a fleece soaking.........
There are flowers in the garden. Not a real surprise, but since I was traveling during the last two weeks of May, during prime gardening season, I was happily surprised to see the perennials go on without me. I only planted a few annuals to fill some holes and from a distance it is not so dramatic at this time.

Close up, each flower and plant has its own drama. The rose bush is prolific but I don't know its name. The flowers are so heavy, they often break the stem after a watering day. I tend to pinch off some buds to make each rose a single on the stem and lighter weight and more dramatic.

I have grown to love african daisys. The colors are vivid, and when fully in bloom, I cannot help but smile.
Can't remember what they are called (what kind of gardener am I??) but the bees love my purple things.
In the other garden there was a late and last poppy, that is so shockingly orange.
I have dahlias in two colors: fuschia and this deep rich maroon. I positioned the maroon one so I can see it from my bedroom window.

Fortunately I cannot see the holes in the leaves from my window. I may have to drown a few slugs in beer. :-)

Colorado's state flower is the blue columbine, but the color didn't photograph very well for some reason.

This is a nice long post with knitting accomplishments, future projects, and gardening. If only I could afford to be on "vacation" permanently. Unfortunately, my stash would run out eventually, and I would be restless to travel again.......So back to work tomorrow.