Thursday, January 29, 2009

Attacking the stitch count discrepancy

I made my way to the point where it is time to begin the slipstitch heel on my Spring Forward Socks. As the pattern is written for doublepoints, and as I am using the two at a time technique, I had some adjustments to do to the stitch count on the front and heel portions.

The pattern is 66 stitches in total around, and as written, it calls for 30 stitches on the heel and 36 stitches for the front. While working on the first sock, I was able to transfer 2 stitches from the end of the first side but when I got to the second side to transfer the last stitch to the other side, I was in the middle of the cable with no access. I sort of knew this was going to happen and I was prepared with two extra circular needles to start transferring and having both ends to work from.

What helped was using stitch markers. I had one from the beginning marking the first side to be knitted.
Have you ever seen such a jumbled mess. Each time I transferred a side, I either had one of each side facing forward, or the working yarn was on the wrong side. I kept at it though. Persistant, I am.

After about 45 minutes and many shifts, including using stitch holders as well, I finally got all the stitches transferred and the working yarn on the correct side of both socks, and I again used stitch markers near the top to indicate the heel side.

This all took place in the 3 plain rows of the pattern, but I am sure I screwed something up, but hey, this is the part that will be where the ankle breaks or inside the shoe and who will know????? to be continued.........

Fun Weekend

This weekend, my Eldest, Amanda, visited from NYC before her next semester of grad school began. She is so frustrated with the program because the other students are idiots (in her words). When she started class on Monday night, she told them she was in Colorado for the weekend and they asked, "Is Colorado upstate or in Manhatten???" These are grad students for goodness sake. She did bring home to wear the neck scarf/cowl I made for her from handspun from Creatively Dyed. My gauge was a little off so it came out bigger and with less body than it should have had so I sent it to her with the buttons close to the neck and she really likes it this way. I hadn't gotten a good photo of it before I sent it off so here it is now. The pattern is from Peaceful Knitter
and is available on Ravelry as well.
While she was here, her best friend from High School and earlier came over with Elijah who is a strapping 6 months old. Such a happy little boy.Amanda is so good with kids both from her career as a Child Life Specialist in a Children's Hospital and from her nature. She loved holding and playing with a healthy baby because she sees only the very sick children. She will be so good with her own whenever that might be.
Isn't Amanda's sweater dress cute. I cannot take credit for it....Target can. I could make one but won't because it is a bunch of knitting and I am sure she only paid about $24.99 for it!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Very Happy and Hopeful Day

Today at 1 pm, I am going to pickup a Welcome Package and forms to fill out for my new career in the Financial Services industry. It will be as a part-time assistant at first, but I will have the opportunity and requirement to study for and pass the Series 7 exam within 4 months. It has been a long time since I have been in school, but I am smart enough and as long as the math involved is not Calculus, I am sure I can handle it.

I can't begin to tell you all how grateful I am to the woman who is brave and bold enough to take on a 58 year old woman with no personal experience in the field.

The only down side, is that I cannot leave my other part time position, which I absolutely loathe, for the time being and will be working 6 days a week for most of these 4 months of training. That won't leave too much time for my crafts, but they definitely will serve as relaxation. I will post as often as I am able to keep everyone informed of my progress. Who needs sleep anyway??

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OMG!!! I did it!!!

It was less than a week ago that I posted about wanting a spinning wheel and the wheel that I wanted was a Sonata...... Well, as things turned out....I answered a Ravelry posting for someone who was selling a Walnut Minstrel Wheel which is also from Kromski. This is a photo from the web, but from everything I have seen, it is even more beautiful than this. I will certainly show you when it arrives.
It is not quite as portable as the Sonata because it doesn't fold down into its own carrying case, but it is beautiful and will do all the same things. It is fairly lightweight and should ride in the front seat of the car for spin-ins and it is three legged, which I like for stability. I paid for it on paypal with some Holiday gift money, and I hope I get it in a week or so. I will certain post its arrival.

What did arrive today is some luscious soft alpaca fiber from Iron Needles which I won in her Blogiversary contest. I couldn't capture the creamy tan well with the artificial light, but it is much lovlier than this picture.
She entered mine as well, but her number didn't come up. :-( She has been a faithful reader of my blog since almost the beginning and we even met up once (she lives about 1 1/2 hours north of me.) I encourage everyone to check out her blog because it has been so inspiring to me in this blog journey.

When my wheel arrives, when I get it set up...this will be first fiber I spin with it. It is about 2 7/8 oz of the softest alpaca I have ever felt.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Caring for Orchids

I have had several comments on how to care for my orchids and to make them bloom. Here is a copy of an email back to the first inquiry from Peaceful Knitter who asked first.

I keep a gallon jug of premixed orchid food and water and that is the only liquid I use on it. When you water it, drain the standing liquid in the pot or tray on the second day. Water again when completely dry.

It needs bright but not intensely hot direct sunlight.

After all the blooms drop, feel the stem that is left and where there are bumps, cut the stem back above the 3rd or 4th bump from the bottom of the stem. It will be dormant for several months and then suddenly, another stem will emerge from the top or second bump from the top. My mom has good luck cutting the stem completely off at the bottom. You may notice that a new leaf forms and shortly after that an old leaf drops and a new flower stem begins.

Good luck with it. It is actually pretty easy if you let it just do its thing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Non Fiber Post

I miss spring. I miss warm weather and sunshine. I miss my garden and its many wonders which change through 3 seasons a year. Here are some photos of some indoor blooming which I am pretty proud of.

First is an Orchid I purchased at Costco 4 years ago and I have been able to keep it alive and blooming a couple of times a year since then. It is such a lovely shade of fuschia which makes me happy to see in the sunshine of my bay window.
When I purchased it, there were 3 stems blooming and in the subsequent years I have had as many as 7 stems with about 40 blooms on it at a time. It is grossly potbound and now there is only one stem blooming and new flower bud growth on 2 other stems. I am afraid to repot it....I don't want to stress it or kill it. It has been a faithful friend for a long time. I might just wait until this round of blooms is done to try it, but I will have to shop for just the right orchid pot that is only about 2 inches wider in diameter than the 6" pot it is in now. I think I will start looking now to be ready after the last bloom of this cycle drops, which should be in March or April at this rate.
This is an orchid in a 4" pot that I purchased around Thanksgiving at a really good price at the local supermarket. I was feeling pretty down at this particular holiday, because it is just not the same preparing such a feast for only a few people. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday to cook for because I have a set menu and my turkey stuffing rocks. But without my Dad and with the kids not home, it is difficult enough at holiday times and it is hard to set a festive table for three people when the table is rectangular. Luckily a friend joined us for the fourth. I saved so much money on the turkey this year that I sprung for this orchid which is creamy yellow and pink. What pleases me is that even though it has dropped one blossom since I brought it home, it is happy on my kitchen table and is starting to grow some new buds!!! See them???

At least I have some color inside the house when the outside view out my front door looks like a glacier (north facing) and brown grass.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On to a New Blogging Year

All through the past several weeks, I have spindling more than knitting and I am getting pretty itchy for a Wheel. A Kromski Sonata wheel to be exact.

This is the exact wheel that my knitting buddy, Stacy, purchased before the holidays and I had a chance to try it out at her home. I am thinking about the same wheel in the Walnut stain for myself to match some woods in my home and after reading many of the review both on the net and in Ravelry. I like this wheel's classic looks without taking up too much room when set up. The best part is that it breaks down and folds into a padded carrying bag so that it can easily travel to spin-ins or nearly anywhere. From what I have read, it can do nearly everything a spinner would want to do: from laceweight to heavy worsted weight. The itch is getting bad, but I am waiting for career enhancement to take place......

So I continue to spindle spin with my three favorite spindles: Golding, Bosworth, and Eichheim. I am almost to the end of the Creatively Dyed Sea Wool fiber from Rhinebeck, and I believe I will have enough for socks after plying the last bits. I am making a regular 3 ply for this yarn, and putting quite a lot of spin into it to make it better wearing socks. Might have to do 2-at-a-time toe up socks, in case I run short. Oh Boy, another technique to learn!

This is all that is left to spin:These are my singles already spun for the second skein:

I don't seem to be making much of a dent in the Briar Rose BFL fiber, also purchased at Rhinebeck in October. One skein is finished of worsted weight, which I used the Navajo ply on the fly technique. For this next skein, I am using the same technique, but spinning finer, so the plyed yarn is much thinner. I should probably be using my wraps per inch tool to determine the actual weight of the yarn, but until I have lots of it finished, I am too lazy. I am winding it onto a TP roll as the spindle gets too heavy and I have about 40 grams in weight done on the TP roll. The skein on the left is the worsted weight which should make a nice hat. Since the roving was over a pound when I purchased it, I better make friends with it. It will be occupying my home for a long time! This is the roving ball still left of 17 oz purchased:

And this is what the scale reads.........

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And the winners are:

I got so caught up in today's inauguration and festivities that I nearly forgot to post an entry announcing the winners of my first blog contest in honor of my blogiversary!

The winner of the sock yarn from Interlacements is Sonia of! I was lucky enough to meet Sonia in person at Rhinebeck this year and she has a lovely blog with lots of knitting content. I am so glad her number came up! The winner of the Katmandu Aran is Timiae of Spinknitup. She has been on a marathon of charity hat knitting, so this yarn may be put to very good use. I have emailed you both to let me know your snail mail address so I can get these out to you pronto.

As for all the other comments, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you keep reading and commenting to keep me motivated to post often about my knit/spin projects and life in general.

Back to fiber topics tomorrow................

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Special Day

I wasn't going to post again until my contest ends tomorrow at midnight, but I was so blown away today that I had to share.

1. I have been checking daily for comments to my blog and entries into my first blogiversary contest. Today I had a very special surprise. There was a comment from Melissa Morgan-Oakes herself, commenting on my Spring Forward socks which is the second time I am using her technique 2-At-Time Socks. As I work my way down the leg from the cuff, she reminded me that I still have to deal with the stitch count discrepancy from the way the pattern is originally written and the way I have the socks set up on the needle. I will worry about it later, much like Scarlett in Gone with the Wind. Don't forget to read about the contest and my blogiversary entry.

2. I hope no one misses the "We are One" concert, either live (which is now not possible) in re-run on HBO or wherever else they may run into it over the next few days. It was incredible that hundreds of thousands of Americans and American supporters, all races, religions, political persuasions, music lovers, and patriots gathered in peace to share the joy and excitement of the Inaugural Weekend festivities on Washington DC's mall in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. All styles of music were represented from Pete Seeger to Stevie Wonder, from Gospel Choirs to John Mellancamp, from Bono to Beyonce. The choices of songs and music had me in tears for much of the event with a sense of pride and patriotism and hope that had been missing for such a long time. All the music was punctuated with videos and the words of past presidents and statesmen from Lincoln, Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Reagan to Martin Luther King, Jr who we also honor this weekend. This was capped by a short talk by President-elect Obama at the end and the excitement builds til Tuesday's inauguration.

Yes We Did! and Yes We Can!

Friday, January 16, 2009

My First Blogiversary!!!

It has been one year since I began this journey with you, my readers. I have also been a member of Ravelry for one year as well. These two adventures, as well as all my knitting, spinning, friends, family, and travel have been the most joyous and positive things in my life, and I have tried to keep my blog upbeat and personal as far as I felt comfortable.

That being said, I am so glad 2008 is over...done....kaput...finished. All the above mentioned joys served to keep me sane in the most stressful year of my life. Well, almost sane, most of the time. I thought 2007 was bad enough with the loss of 83 year old father and my sister-in-law Maggie. I suffered dearly with those losses to be sure and miss them every day.

But 2008 began in January with stress at work (personality conflict with the boss) and I felt the guillotine hovering over my head every moment until late August when the axe fell. Unemployed at age 58 after a 12 year career with a company I love, I sunk deeply. I relied on my positives to keep me keeping on all year. Here is a recap of the good things in my life over the last year:

Family: My two daughters are grown-ups now and taking adult responsibilities seriously. We talk frequently thanks to Verizon in network calling and they give me much joy. They live far away are self supporting with their own benefits (yay) and I was able to spend time with each this year and I am extremely grateful for this. Sometimes I can hardly believe that these two beautiful young women are mine. Yes, I see little girls and am reminded of how much I miss MY little girls, but am also glad that we are done with adolescence and the hating Mom stage.

My Mom is healthy, strong, still living on her own with a vast network of friends and activities. She is even posting online to meet some new friends (read: men) for companionship! You Go Girl!!! I helped her upload this photo to the chosen site and we looked over the male candidates. Her only comment was that they were all too young for her (late 60's-70's). The funniest part of that is we fibbed slightly about her age and probably most of the men did as well! My husband is healthy and active at home with the fix-it chores and outdoor duties. I can always count on him being home and he supports my fiber craziness and indulges it (he bought me my first Golding Spindle and ignores the fluff that invades every room of the house!) My brother seems to be getting along well, as does my niece who is graduating high school this year and has been accepted into the same college where her mother went. Their loss is unimaginable and I keep them in my thoughts all the time.

Friends: I have very good friends who have been a terrific support to me, both old and new. Through Ravelry, I have made many friends, some of whom I have met in person, like Iron Needles and Peaceful Knitter. Through knitting locally, I made a good friend, Stacy (SSKStacy on Ravelry), and we have knit together in and out of classes and have taken some very fun "field trips". Those include going to Estes Park for the Sheep and Wool Festival, Boulder to check out Spindles, Shuttles and Skeins and to the Black Forest in Colorado Springs to check out Table Rock Llama's shop. I also have many non-knitting friends who have been a great support as well.

Knitting and Spinning: I have become an adventurous knitter

and I have learned to spin with a spindle.

I look through my projects on my Ravelry page to know how busy I have been this year. I included projects primarily begun this year

and I am very proud of the posted results. You can read through my blog for the progess reports on most of them. I learned to spindle spin with confidence and I have made everything from thick and thin "art yarn" at the beginning to 3 ply sock-weight yarn. My spindle collection now numbers 6 and my stash grows in many ways. I may be itching for a Spinning Wheel, but I need to wait till the finances allow it.

I visited with the Yarn Harlot, for the second time, and this time I got a photo! She is holding my sock (yet to be finished) and I am holding hers which I am sure she has finished by now! My Nantucket Jacket is from 2007, but the photo is this year.

Travel: As stressful as the year was, I had several blessed escapes. In April, I traveled for my annual reunion with college buddies to Carmel, California.
Three weeks later, my Mom and I, went on a river cruise in Europe. Then, in October, I traveled to NY and CT for my High School Reunion,

to visit family,


and Rhinebeck for the Sheep and Wool Festival.

Luckily, this trip had been mostly prepaid in advance. All the trips were wonderful, a time to relax and soak in good stuff with people I love. Again, finances will dictate when I am able to travel again.

Thank you, readers, for your comments, support and good wishes throughout my first year of blogging. Your support was felt intensely and the blog provided me with the respite I needed when I needed it. I hope to continue on as before with mostly upbeat and positive postings because everyone's lives are stressful in many different ways and catching up with friends on their blogs should not be a downer all the time. I am now employed. It is a job, not a career and I continue to search for that career I need to work for the next several years until a real retirement. Everyone is feeling the economy intensely and I know I am not alone. As we continue in the new year of 2009, with a new President, hope remains for better things for everyone.

I love you all. Happy New Year.

PS: Don't forget to check out yesterday's post for details about my Blogiversary contest and prizes. Can't wait to hear from lots of you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tomorrow is my Blogiversary Contest!!!

In honor of my Blogiversary tommorrow, I have written a special year end update of my year, both good, bad, and fibery and have decided to have a contest. All you have to do is comment on my blog tomorrow through Monday, January 18 letting me know how I can improve readership of my blog or layout, and let me know what you especially like about any of my postings past or present. Feel free to read through my postings from the beginning in my archives.

Now for the prizes. There will be two and you can let me know in your comment which you prefer:
First, two skeins of Interlacements Tiny Toes sock yarn, hand dyed by Judy L. Ditmore, in colors of navy and green.

Second, two skeins of Katmandu Aran in color 131, which is a lovely light periwinkle/violet shade of tweed.
There is a pet and smoker in my house, but these have been safely stored in plastic in a pet and smokefree room.
So there you have it, enjoy my varied ramblings through the past year and let me hear from you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My back is back

I am glad to report that the spasms have subsided and I am moving around again, if a bit more slowly. Thanks for the kind words.

Nothing much else to report except that Friday is my first Blogiversary, and I have been working on a recap of the year, both good and bad and fibery. Stop by and check it out. I haven't decided whether to have a giveaway in celebration, but I am reviewing my stash and will announce it tomorrow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Back Spasms lead to a day off

Yesterday, I managed to work out at the gym very comfortably and felt fine for the rest of the day. Today, woke up....fine. Showered....fine. Got dressed and dried my hair.....fine. Had breakfast and sat down at the computer....fine. Got up from the computer and headed upstairs to brush my teeth and put on makeup to get ready for work....NOT FINE! One step from the top, my back spasmed with such a force, it almost threw me to the ground. I stood still for a while, grabbed the bannister, mounted the last step, and headed for the bathroom. My color was absolutely green in the mirror as I broke out in a cold sweat. After I grabbed 3 advil tabs and downed them with lots of water, I just stood as still as I could, since each time I moved, there was another spasm. Owwwweeeee...............I then slowly shuffled downstairs and called in to work.

I was afraid to sit down for fear of not being able to get up again, but after about 45 minutes, I sat in my chair to knit and listen to my IPOD to some of my favorite podcasts: QN, Cast-On, Sticks and String. My 2-at-a-time socks are progressing well and the Spring Forward pattern in easy to memorize with the knitting looking lots more complicated than it really is. Not much to show yet, but it will be a pretty quick knit.

While watching the Golden Globes last night, I worked on my lace scarf some more. I think I will steam block what I have to get a better idea of the finished length so far and how much more to go for about 50" final length. Before lightly steaming:
After lightly steaming:
Isn't the pattern lovely??