Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is for you, Becky!

Signs of green and life in the garden. These are the heirloom iris sent to me last fall from Becky of Needles of Iron fame. No guarantees of blooms this first year, but they seem to all have survived their first winter in my garden.

Extreme closeup of some grape hyacinth. No matter what I do, I can't get rid of them, and they just keep multiplying all over. It is the first real color each year, but what a mess in about a month as I try to plant my annuals in the same beds.

Looks like the honey bee appreciates the color as well!

Monday, April 20, 2009

In Memory of Columbine- 10 years later.

Ten years ago:

1. I was working with a gal whose younger sister was still at Columbine High School. She rushed home after getting a call from her mother. Thank God, her sister was ok.

2. My youngest daughter was a freshman in high school across town and locked down. For her, this became a defining moment and the first experience of mortality and violence in this very typical suburban neighborhood. She has never forgiven me for making her go to school the next day, instead of staying home and watching the never ending coverage of this horrific event. When she is a mother herself, she will understand the need go on and rise above.

3. My oldest daughter was a freshman in college. She didn't understand the impact it would have on her life, until I told her that the daughter of her most favorite teacher of all time was one of the 13 victims. Dawn Anna was her 7th grade teacher and stayed in contact with her until her high school graduation, even attending her National Honor Society induction when she was a senior. Lauren Townsend was Miss Anna's daughter and a senior at the time.

In memory of the 13 victims, many more injured both in body and spirit, all I can offer is the hope of peace and love and memory.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Modified Market Sqares Bag- Finished

It is amazing what a deadline and two snow days can accomplish! Thursday afternoon, as I sat with a friend who had outpatient surgery in the morning, I began the I-cord for this bag which is destined to be auctioned off next Saturday night at a fund raiser for our synagogue. Since we were watching a movie (The Reader), I didn't want to worry about changing colors or counting or picking up stitches in the Entrelac pattern. I-cord was just the ticket and when the movie was over, I had about 4 feet done. I used double stranded Brown Sheep to give the handles some substance and bulk. Later that night, I finished off the I-cord.
On Friday, I took Mom for her first cataract surgery at the ungodly hour of 7 am. With the impending snowstorm, and Mom's announcement that it would be 2-4 hours, I brought plenty of knitting with me: The bag and another project as well. Of course, the surgery was quick and we were in the deli across the street by 8:30 am. Not much knitting done but happy to report that Mom is doing great.

I stayed home Saturday, during the worst of the storm. My car could probably have maneuvered the thick slushy mess in the streets, but I used the snow as an excuse to stay home and finish the bag. I only loosely used the market squares pattern as a jumping off point for this project adding the button flap. One fun addition was to add a simple chain motif on this flap with the Boku. Once felted, I knew this would add some interest to the flap which I made longer than normal, due to the elongated shape of the bag itself.

Here is the bag, unfelted:

And here is the finished bag, after felting. What starting price should I ask for as the minimum?? I am leaning towards $75-100, because I think if I undervalue it, it will be less attractive to the deep pockets who might be there!

Friday, April 17, 2009

More snow today

Look at the calendar and what does it say: April 17, nearly a month since the first day of spring. Whoever said that March roars in like a lion and out like a lamb didn't live in Colorado in the Springtime.

My last posting which included photos of my Grandma's legacy of beautiful knitting garnered more comments than any of my other postings since I began this adventure more than a year ago. Since I am in possession of many of her heirloom pieces, I think I will periodically share them with you, much in the way that Brenda Dayne has her "Today's Sweater" segment on her Cast-On Podcast. Today I will share a photo of Grandma herself, along with the rest of my mother's side of the family at my wedding.

Please note the flowers in my hair, the dress that required me to be bra-less, my brother's long dark hair (still on top of his head) and the beard. Can you guess what year it is?

.........................................Time's up: 1975!!!!! Grandma is seated next to Gary, and believe it or not, she actually knit her two piece dress. I bet the yarn is sock weight and it was knit on a 1 or 2 size needle! I still have the top and you cannot really see it in the photo, but there is sequin trim around the neckline and the hem of the sleeves. Incredible.

Just getting the album out makes me somewhat misty, because so many of the faces are gone now, but never forgotten. Seated: my grandparents, (David and Yetta Siegelbaum), Top left: Uncle Timmy (Stanley Rosenberg), Top, second from right: Cousin Linda Rosenberg and my Dad, Stanley Botkin, behind me. It was 2 years ago this week that Dad passed away, hard as that is to believe for those of us for whom his presence is always felt.

I was incredibly fortunate to have all four of my grandparents at my wedding and it makes me sad to know that my girls will not have this honor whenever their turn comes up. (No rush, girls, really!) Rounding out the rest of the living family in the photo are my Aunt Jean: top right, Cousin Richard: top row, 2nd from left, Mom: next to Dad, and my brother next to Mom. And you can tell which the bride and groom are! We have all aged a little (!!!) since then but isn't it special when we can remember the moments and the faces and spirit of family together for a happy occasion.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mixed bag of tricks

I quit job number 2 and my last day was Saturday! Yay!!!!! Now I can really concentrate on my new job in the financial industry. My next exam, the Series 66, is scheduled for Monday 4/27 at 8 am-- two weeks from today. I am nearly through the reading materials and have found that much of it is a repeat of the Series 7, thankfully. Lots of rules and regulations to learn though, so soon I will just concentrate on all the self testing that I have at my disposal.. I find that it is the best way for me to learn the relationships of regulations/laws and the points I really have to remember.

As usual, I have been spinning up a storm. I bought some SW Merino from JulieSpins on etsy and here is what is left of the fiber.

The blues and greens are so bright and vivid in the fiber, but as I started spinning it on the wheel, I have discovered that there is a lot of white in the center of the fiber. What is on the bobbins is more pastel and the finished yarn should be very summery. I am spinning with the goal of a tightly plied 3-ply sock yarn. I have heard that some of the weight is lost in spinning, but I started out with 8 oz, so I should have plenty, with leftovers. Here are two bobbins, and the third is still on the wheel.

Speaking of the wheel, has anyone had problems with the leather ties on the treadle snapping? I don't know if it is the angle of rubbing against the wood or what. The first one snapped a couple of weeks ago, and I retied it and then the second one snapped last night. On my last trip to JoAnn's I purchased new leather laces, so now I will be prepared for the next break, but it is a pain to untie and retie often. My other purchases for my wheel include white lithium grease for the squeaks, and a ball of hemp cord for the next time the drive band snaps. It was cheap enough and I read that waxing the driving band with beeswax also preserves it. Oh yes, I had to purchase the beeswax! I should be done with wheel expense for a while, except for fiber of course!

Oh yes, one more purchase for the wheel. I bought from a fellow raveler 3 more bobbins and an arched, tensioned lazy kate.

At the rate I am spinning this SW Merino, I should be able to ply it this weekend! to be continued!

Here is the progress on my market bag. I am on the decrease rows now so I should finish it tonight or tomorrow and then felting is on the agenda....after I do the handles and flap which I am adding. I better get cracking on it. The auction is in 2 weeks.

And last but not least: I had previously seen the Great American Afghan book and although it was cute, some of the squares left me less than thrilled. But last week at Knit Night at A Knitted Peace, I spotted this book:

Now THAT is an afghan! I grabbed a copy without hesitation. I have always been fond of Aran patterns, sweaters and afghans, mainly because it reminds me of my grandmother, Yetta, who taught me how to knit when I was 7. As I remember, she was always working on complicated sweaters which she designed herself with diamonds, popcorn, cables and an amazing variety of stitches. I still have several of her sweaters, although several of the natural colored aran sweaters have yellowed a bit with age. Pause while I run upstairs to photograph one...........

It is still gorgeous, despite the yellowing. Anyone know how to renew the brightness? This sweater is at least 30 years old, and probably older.
Look at the details... the pockets!

The handmade buttons!

The back of the sweater and the number of different panels!

I am an amateur in comparison, but I do think I channel her creative spirit with my newly acquired skills. Thanks, Grandma!
edited to add: when I was looking at Julie Spins shop for the link for this posting, she had the most brilliant hibiscus roving available. Her shop is usually sold out within minutes, so I was so lucky to grab it when I saw it. Gee whiz....blogging can be dangerous to your budget!!!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Washed Suri Alpaca Fiber

This the the free fiber I was given at the last fiber festival I attended in Longmont.

It was raw fiber and in need of washing, so I placed it in a mesh bag and filled my sink with Dawn detergent and hot water.............3 times. You never have smelled anything so foul as this. It definitely had that barnyard fragrance that we all know and love. I was very careful not to agitate in any of the washings or during the rinses. On the last rinse, I poured a glug of white vinegar into the water, then one more rinse to remove the vinegar odor.

After squeezing the fiber, still in the mesh bag, in a towel, I then hung the mesh bag to dry.

After drying completely, I fluffed a few of the locks and look forward to using my hand carders, which have mysteriously vanished in my home. I have looked everywhere and they are just hiding from me. I hate it when that happens.

Any way, see how much whiter and brighter the fiber is once washed. And so soft too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I have not fallen off the face of the earth!

My blogging has been on the back burner as I have started to get my life back, only to find out today, that the next exam (Series 66) is almost as hard as the first. Not so much computation, but lots of rules and regulations to memorize. It is a much thinner book, but chock full of facts. Here we go again! I will probably take this exam at the end of April or early May.

I have been spinning as relaxation and have learned a few things from the Ravelry support groups:

1. I should have been waxing my drive band with beeswax. The other night, it just snapped. Not at the join but at the exact opposite side of the wheel.

2. And I also learned that I should be relaxing both the scotch tension and the drive band after every spinning session.

3. The fiber I am spinning throws off a lot of dander, or fiber, or whatever, so I am wiping it down every day. It is coming out nicely though and this is the second bobbin. I am going for a lightweight 3 ply for a project to be decided.
I finished two skeins of Alpaca from the last festival I went to and here are the results:
I have begun a new project (what, am I totally crazy!!!???) which I offered to donate to the auction at our Synagogue. It is a modified Market Bag from Bags- A Knitter's Dozen, which I am making from Plymouth Boku and Lamb's Pride. I am a little worried that the Boku will not felt at the same rate as the Lamb's Pride, so this may be a total disaster on many fronts. I will post as I go.

And this little cutie is Erik Joseph Johnson in the Baby Surprise Jacket and Hat that I knit for him. How nice to see him in it!!! edited to add: I learned something new about changing photo formats so that I can upload to my blog. I feel so accomplished!

One last thing. These beauties showed up last week. They are dutch iris, low to the ground and so vivid in color.

And this was today: April Fools!!!! Except it is no really is snowing and
Saturday may bring a monster dump of snow.....

Have you noticed the Twitter updates on the sidebar? I have found a way to update here, Facebook and Twitter all at the same time. Sometimes it is easier than a full blog post and a way to check in.