Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here are my finished mittens, handknit, handspun, from raw Alpaca fleece. Casting on another pair as I watch the ball drop tonight from Times Square! Of course, I will be cozy and warm in my Colorado family room under a blankie with a glass of red wine to keep me warmer!
Waving bye-bye to 2009!

Happy New Year and a Healthy, Prosperous and Fibery 2010 to All!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My First Fiber Club

I have been eying several of the clubs out there and hadn't joined any, but always looked at what was available. Several are for yarn, several for indie dyed fiber, several for natural fibers. One this week caught my eye, probably because I just finished spinning and have begun knitting the raw alpaca fiber I purchased this fall. (Finished the first Mitten and working on the matching one!)

So, I signed up for 3 months of the Naked Fiber Club by BadFaerie. This will give me 3 shipments of raw fleece weighing in at 8 oz each starting in January, which I will then wash, card, and spin. I won't know what fiber it will be (sheep, alpaca, mohair) until it arrives, but that is the best part of this kind of club- the surprise. It will give me more experience with different raw fibers without investing in a whole fleece. Not. There. Yet!

A gift to myself, because I deserve it. One that will keep on giving.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Knitting with handspun Alpaca

I have had a heckuva time planning a project for my Alpaca yarn. I finished spinning it up, and plying it, but it is thinner than I thought it would be.
I believe it is heavy fingering or sport now, even held double (that is 4 individual plies). First, I thought a scarf and I tried a few ideas, settling on a 3X3 rib pattern, but it was eating the yarn like there is no tomorrow. I started out with 10 oz of raw fleece, and I'll be damned if more than 3 months of washing, carding and spinning would go into a single project for someone who might never appreciate the effort that went into it. I turned to mittens, but couldn't find a pattern for the gauge I was getting, and knitting with size 9 double points was awkward at best for pattern work. I then decided to get out long size 7 needles, and use another pattern for basic construction, and now I am knitting plain mittens using the magic loop method.

The fabric created is nice and I should be able to get a few pairs out of my yarn. Since Alpaca is warmer than wool, these should be nice for family members in cold climates. I have til February to complete a couple of pairs, so I think this is doable. The second pair I may knit as fingerless mittens for more dexterity. To be continued.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More about the Bench!

After talking to my friend, who is pretty knowledgeable about antiques and old furniture, I was encouraged to do some research about the bench from the previous post. I looked up Limbert Furniture and Van Raalte Craftsmen from the stamp inside the drawer and came up with this listing on ebay. This is the exact same vanity that is in Mom's basement that used to match the bench before Grandma had it painted ivory in the 1960's when she moved to Florida. According to Mom, mahogany furniture was just a no-no in Florida.

And the following information was found in a genealogy website looking for info on Van Raalte:

"Van Raalte was a salesman and later head of the Limbert Furniture company from 1916 to at least 1927. He was so influential within the company that in the mid-1920s the company's furniture mark was redesigned to read "Limbert Furniture by Van Raalte Craftsmen." The Limbert company, which started out in Grand Rapids, was moved to Holland in 1906 where it continued to make furniture under the Limbert name until 1944. This company's furniture was extremely popular in the early 20th century and is still sought after by collectors of fine furniture designs in the Arts andCrafts and Colonial Revival styles."

Isn't the Internet wonderful!

edited to add 4/12/2010:   The  ebay listing and the photo are no longer available.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I get to keep the bench

When I was helping Mom get rid of the remaining furniture in her house, I turned to Craigslist for help. In the first week, I sold a bedroom set and the bench to the vanity which Mom used in the basement as a sewing storage area.

I realized after I had a positive response, and I brought the bench to my house to await the check being mailed and pickup, that I had, in fact, photographed the rear of the bench. It was lovely as it was. BUT, when I turned it around, I saw that there was a drawer in the bench, but was missing the pull. The next time I was at Mom's house, I emptied the drawers of the vanity, since I had had several inquiries about it as well, and lo and behold, I found the pull for the bench.

I attached it when I got home, hoping to find some family treasure long hidden in the drawer, but there was only about 40 years of dust there. The stamped label of the manufacturer was at the back of the drawer.

Mom had recovered this bench in blue wide wale corduroy to match the decor in her house in Connecticut, before she moved to Colorado, and I hadn't paid any more attention to it.

Again, once it was at my house, I gently lifted this fabric, where a few of the nail heads were missing and found this:

This was probably the fabric from my Grandmother's house. And there's more:

And more still:

This was the original fabric and from the looks of the way the nail heads are rough, there was probably a braiding which bordered the fabric. The bottom fabric is fragile and parchment-like after all these years. My guess is that this bench (and the vanity that it came with) date back to the late 1930's in my Grandmother's house once my Grandfather's delicatessen was a going business and the woes of the Depression were easing for the family.

Can you tell that I became quite fond of this piece in my house? I was hoping that the purchaser from Craigslist would flake out and never send the check, but sure enough on Friday the check came. I cashed it right away, and waited to hear from him (he lives in Telluride, and would have to find someone to pick up the bench for him). I was fully prepared to follow through on the transaction, because I am an honorable person and a deal is a deal.

When I talked to him on Sunday night, I told him about the drawer and the layers of family history, and how I had grown fond of the piece. He didn't hesitate a bit and offered to cancel the transaction to keep this special piece in my family. I was stunned that he was being so kind and understood what I was feeling. A full refund is on the way back to him and now I get to keep the bench. So Santa, if you know Chris in Telluride, make sure you leave him some extra goodies in his stocking this year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wheel Disaster

My very portable and well traveled Minstrel (by car) was returning home from our holiday spinning Meetup group when I accidentally grabbed the cap where the distaff would go and the wheel dropped a bit. The flyer with the bobbin still on it flew to the concrete garage floor and the edges of both sizes of the whorl are cracked and ready to snap off. :-(

The first thing I did was email Tim at New Voyager to inquire about replacement parts, and the second thing I did was to glue on the distaff cap!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfect Chanukah Gifts

Can you think of a more perfect winter holiday gift than handknit socks, and in one case, hand spun and hand knit socks (upper right)? If Chanukah had only come a week earlier, while the temps were below and near zero, I would have been even more of a hero to my good friends. It gave me just as much pleasure to give these as to craft them....maybe even more. Enjoy, my friends!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Adventures with Craigslist

Here is one response to one of my Craigslist ads. I am trying to help out Mom with the remaining furniture in her house and I have had some luck so far, but this email just made me laugh. Would anyone really fall for such an obvious scam as this:

"Thanks for the mail , i'm okay with the price , and i am comfortable
with the pictures i saw. I will be making the payment via cashier's
check,so i will need your full name that will be on the check and your
full address with your phone # where you can easily receive the
package via courier and i will arrange for the pickup myself.
NOTE ....And also the payment i will be sending will be in excess
inwhich you will give to the cargo company when they contact you for
the pickup.All you need to do is to faithfully deduct your own money
as soon as you have the cash athand and send the remaining to the
cargo company through WesternUnion Money Transfer for them to come for
the pickup.please get back to me if you are okay with this and i will
implore you to remove the ads off craigslist because i really want to
purchase this asap.

Honestly, this is word for word the entire signature, no identification, no phone number. Where are they writing from? Nigeria?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah!

The Dreidel song as you have never heard it before!

Thanks to Mason-Dixon Knitting for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2 Gifts, done!

Finished is the wool cowl made from the rest of the Schoppel Wolle Pur yarn from the hat I made for Preston.
It is warm and toasty and perfect to wear under a coat when you don't want long scarf ends hanging or dragging, slammed in the car door for the whole ride home from the supermarket. Ask me how I know.......

And here is another finished pair of plain socks in fancy yarn. The yarn is Paton's Kroy stripes and again, they became fraternal twins, as the stripes progressed in the opposite directions. Resting in the snow,
they should remind you how cozy it is to wear handknit socks as the snow flies, and the thermostat is turned down. Those who think knitting socks is crazy, have never worn handknit socks in the winter, so here is my advice to you: Befriend your sock knitting friends and beg for hand knit won't be sorry. Or better yet, learn how yourself.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NYC Stamp of Approval

Anything handknit, handmade, or odd is always suspect when sent to friends and family in NY. The hat I made for Preston fits that description, but tonight I heard that there were compliments galore when he and my daughter, Amanda, went to the opening of Race by David Mamet. They were lucky enough to get tickets from a friend, got all gussied up and saw lots of stars: Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Al Sharpton, etc. But I digress. The play and the Hat were a hit.
And when Preston walked in front of one of the paparazzi, he was photographed. But that photo won't make any papers, he assures me. Ahhhh. Fame is nice, but fleeting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2 projects: one skein of yarn

Tis the season.....for one skein knits. When Amanda arrived from New York, she came bearing a gift. It was a skein of Schoppel wolle Pur, in shades of black, blue and green, purchased at Annie's which is just around the corner from my brother's apartment on the upper East side.. It is interesting because it is a single ply, slightly felted, and the ombre colors do not repeat in any way.
And then she reminded me that I had promised to make a hat for Preston, her main squeeze, so the gift had a preplanned destiny.

I looked for patterns and decided on the Irish Hiking Hat (bulky)
and began knitting it up. I forgot how fast hats develop, so in a couple of days, it was done, blocked and ready to return to the Big Apple. The finished hat looks different from each angle because of the way the colors knit up.

I added the beanie top and knit more rows before starting the decreases, since several comments mentioned that the hat was not deep enough. What do you think?

With the rest of the skein, I am making a cowl with a very simple pattern: on a multiple of 10:
row 1: knit 5, purl 5
row 2: knit 1, purl 1.

I learned this at Knit Night the other night and will keep knitting until the yarn runs out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I thought I taught them better!

My kids are dirty stinking liars.....but in the best way. When Gary left for the airport to pickup Amanda as planned and as scheduled, he was shocked to find it was actually Alison waiting at the airport. I was in the dark too, (although there had been some clues about a month ago,) and found out when I heard the garage door open and headed out to greet Amanda only to find Alison emerging from the car!!!! After having lunch out, we passed the scam along, by visiting my Mom, who was also expecting Amanda. I'm glad that she has a strong heart, because she gasped and said, "You're the wrong one" and then corrected herself to say, "just not the one I expected."

Not to fear.... Amanda flies in tomorrow, early enough in the day to be here for our feast at 4 pm.

I am so glad I have Thanksgiving down to a science, since I use the same recipes year after year. I am no longer flummoxed by cooking the turkey and all the sides, so I plan on enjoying the day immensely with the girls BOTH here...the first time in over 4 years.

And I am wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving as well....good food, good company, and bounteous blessings around your table.

The Fimo clay figurines were made by my girls and my niece about 10 years ago and are a regular part of the centerpiece every year!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dad's Rocks

My Dad was a rock hound, especially in his later years. After retirement, he went to the local (Norwalk CT) Community College and earned a 2 year degree in Geology and Archeology, which made us all proud. The basement in CT was his workshop and he tinkered down there endlessly, studying and setting up displays with cast off jewelry and watch cases from the discount store where he worked.

When Mom and Dad moved here in 1993, only part of his collection came with them. Imagine the moving company's surprise when box after box was filled with rocks! The rest of them were dumped under the side porch where the grape vines and the trash cans were. Never did trash cans have such a lofty and lovely perch!

Before Dad died in 2007, he was adamant that his collection go to someone who appreciated them, and not to a museum where they would just be boxed and stored in some dusty basement. Since then, we have been gifting specimens to friends and acquaintances alike, spreading his love of crystals far and wide. There are still a lot in Mom's basement, which we need to deal with, many more than he moved to Colorado with, since his collecting continued here with new places to go and minerals to be found. He loved nothing more than getting down in a hole and getting dirt under his fingernails!

With Mom moving to the apartment, I culled some of my favorites, since a sizeable collection should remain with the family. I purchased 3 shelves and put them up this weekend.
The perspective is off... all the shelves are the same length! Here are closeups of some of my favorites:

We have all Dad's original documentation as to the scientific description and location where each specimen was found. Priceless. We made many inquiries about selling the collection, but the consensus was that the value was mostly nostalgic, so what to do with rest? Mom's house will go on the market soon, and we are looking for a school or hobby organization who might enjoy and appreciate one man's collection and love of these minerals.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Moving Mom: Part Deux

Looks like home, doesn't it? (Click on each picture to embiggen it!) The family and kids will notice that all the important details are still present!
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Moving Mom!

Mom in the empty Living Room

What could have been terribly stressful, physically demanding, and endless turned into such a pleasure this week with Mom's move to the apartment at a senior living center. A week ago, the amazing Sharon and Gail arrived at Mom's house to pack up her "pretties" and household items. I assisted by helping Mom sort through the kitchen items realistically since her new kitchen would be quite a bit smaller with less storage available.

Really, how many corning ware casseroles does one person need??? We sorted, moved cupboards, sorted more, packed and watched the girls do the bulk of the packing. It was like having our own moving fairies running through the house. I helped keep Mom out of their way but she intervened when necessary.

On Sunday we went over to the empty apartment, looked around again, and realized that it was much bigger than we remembered with lots of closet storage space. We built a storage shelf (thank you Costco) in the closet to use as the pantry and enjoyed the space, followed by a great fish taco lunch nearby. We also hit up Walmart for some basic groceries.

On Monday, I went to work as planned, Sharon went to the house, and the movers arrived. By noon, I got a call from Mom that the movers had already left the house and were on the way to the apartment, where Sharon and Gail would direct the placement of boxes and furniture. When I arrived at 4:30 pm, it nearly looked completed. The furniture had to be shifted several times by the movers to make it work, but it was all in place and looked great. Mom's friends, George and Florence who live 6 floors up in the same building, invited us for dinner, and by the time we returned to the apartment, all the boxes were broken down and in the hall, the china cabinet was beautiful filled, the bed was made and Mom's home looked ready. I set up her computer, tweaked the furniture a little bit, rearranged and plugged in some lamps. Only the pictures and large mirrors needed to be hung and the maintenance staff would take care of that.

For anyone in this position to downsize, or move their aging parents, take my advice: hire angels like these to help you out. It was worth every penny!

The view outside from the living room, her balcony and "her" trees. In the spring and summer, she will have a lovely green view.

On Sunday, I will take more photos of the new apartment with all Mom's "Pretties."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow in October: Urgggghhhhhh

I am definitely ready for Spring already. Although I do appreciate how beautiful the snow can be and that we need the moisture here in Colorado, what I am seeing this year is simply the back-breaking job of shoveling. We have never invested in a snow blower, and our neighbors have helped us out in the past, but Gary had always been able to tackle most of it, except for the largest storms. This year, with his COPD and the back surgery two weeks ago, it is out of the question, so the job is mine.... unless we can contract for the service for the rest of the winter. This storm was predicted, but who would have expected over 2 feet in October! This photo is from yesterday out my back door,

and this one is today. It is still snowing!!!!!! FYI, the fence is 5' and the compost bin in the corner is 36" high.
And this is looking out from my front door to the street after I have shoveled. Before I started today, the tree branches were so heavy, they were laying down on top of the snow, so I had to deal with that before I could take on the sidewalk to the street.

My arms and shoulders are so tired, that I don't know if I can even knit or spin tonight. Wine and a movie sounds good.

One more thing......I even had to climb on step stool outside to clean off the DISH receiver. Gary didn't have TV all day because the snow and ice blocked the signal.

Maybe if I close my eyes, I will wake up in June.........

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GAAA- Square no. 4

Square #4 is by Julie H Levy and is still one of the squares labeled "easy". The intertwining cables are flowing nicely, and the diamonds and bobbled cables remind me of my Grandma's Aran sweaters. Unlike the previous squares, this is nearly 12"wide unblocked, so I have to be careful that it doesn't grow when I wash and block it. I am using size 7 needles on this one, as recommended, but I am starting to think that maybe I should have gone down a size in all the squares, because the yarn is on the lighter side of worsted, not a heavy dense worsted that I was hoping for. When looking it up on Ravelry, several mentioned that the Araucania Nature Wool is more like a heavy DK weight than aran worsted. All the cabling and texture will make this a warm afghan, even if not a heavy one.

And in case you were wondering if I am spinning too, here is the first bobbin of Alpaca, that I washed, picked by hand, carded and spun. There is still quite a bit of VM in it, and it feels a bit greasy, so I will give the finished yarn a good scouring when I set the twist.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It lives!

Well, now I have this:

It seems that when I was getting ready to throw out the whole plant after it OD'd on fertilizer, I just trimmed the top off, ran tepid water through the pot cleaning the soil as well as I could. I then put it in the front North window and forgot about it. The stem had remained green, so a small part of me had hope that something was still alive here. In the last couple of weeks a small shoot began low on the stem and now there are the signs of 3 branches forming, each with new leaves. YAY!!! I am such a dork about letting plants go..................

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Project- GAAA

The Great American Aran Afghan caught my eye several months ago as a challenging and interesting project. It is done in 12" squares by different designers in various patterns of cables, textures and motifs. Since this project required a major yarn purchase, I held off for some time. In Sept, while at Knit Night at A Knitted Peace, I wandered into the back room where the remnants of the yarn sale were stashed and there in a basket was a large quantity of Araucania Nature Wool in the color, Tree Bark. I fondled and counted the skeins, but since the budget is tight, I regained my senses and left them there without purchasing. Knit Night rolled around again in early October, and sure enough, there they were: 20 skeins of TreeBark. I guess it was meant to be and I purchased and then loaded them into my stash. What I really like about this yarn is the subtle variations of shadings.

Actually, I left them in the trunk of my car and brought them into the house one skein at a time!! ;-) One skein at a time and one square at a time, it would always look like a small project and purchase! Who am I kidding??? They are all inside now.

Lifted from my Ravelry notes, here is my progress to date:

10/13 - 10/20 -Square #3: Hannah Burns: I was slow getting started doing the mirror image patterns, but it helped to copy chart B and put the highlighter tape on each chart B. It also helped when I labeled my pattern: odd:right side: {———-

even: wrong side: ————} so that I always knew which chart B to use. The rest of the charts were easy to memorize. (#8 needle)

10/8 - 10/13- Square #2: Barbara Selesnick. (#8 needle) My chart reading skills are getting better. I needed to block this square a lot to get it to the 12”.

10/2. Casting on the first square: Ginette Belanger. (size #7 needle) I had to make lots of notes on my pattern to keep me in the right place and getting the pattern right, and still the bottom 2” was all messed up in the side bobbles/trinity stitch. I also had a mis-cross at about inch 3. If I am not entirely sick of this project when I finish, I may just re-do this square.


On another note: thanks for all the good wishes for Gary's surgery. He is moving about well now, even if putting on socks is still a challenge. As for Mom's move, it is going well too. I shudder to think what all was in the 4 large trash bags I helped her get to the curb yesterday. Let it go, let it go......