Friday, July 31, 2009

Busy 10 days!

The girl power in the house is so energizing. It is hard to believe that it has been 10 days since I last posted here.

I finished up the Tour de Fleece, meeting my goal of finishing up my 2 lbs of fiber for a sweater and spun up about 3/4 of the the Kid Mohair into singles. I probably am getting tremendous yardage in the singles, since it is taking so long... and I am planning on Navajo plying into a 3-ply which should drop the yardage down significantly. Still, the 4.2 original oz should give me enough for a nice lace scarf or a small Ishbel, if I ever finish the big one.

Since the Tour finished, I have been giving myself a break from spinning and have been working on my green Ishbel again. If you remember the saga, I frogged all of the lace back and about 2 inches of the stockinette before the class with Cookie A. It is a little clearer now, and I have been diligently lining up my PSSO stitches, with very little tinking back. I have finished charts A B A and most of the second B chart, leaving another A, then C D E.

Alison did not want any part of this, but Amanda was game to sit down at the wheel and give it a spin. Definitely Art Yarn, which I sent home with her to use as a cat toy, but it was fun watching her give it her best.

In the weekend Manda was here, we squeezed in lots of activities with friends and family, from happy hour to a family get together.

She even posed with the hat she chose from my finished objects.

Alison selected the beret, but wouldn't yet pose for a photo. Luckily she will be several more days so I will work on that.

One of Alison's favorite things to do is play Trivia in a local bar in KC, where she lives. We gave it a shot last night at a bar in Littleton and surprise, our two person team came in third. I provided most of the history, Shakespeare, and quotation answers, and I relied on her for the pop music and pop culture questions. What a team we were, and no.... I wasn't the oldest person in the bar!

I sure miss having the family when they are not all here. That is the price I pay for having raised very independent daughters..... they move away from home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My first Picasa Collage!

Posted by Picasa

The Tour continues, and so do I

Lance cannot hope to win, and neither can I, but I can finish, and so can he! I may not have spun the most, or the prettiest, or the artsy-est or the fastest, but I am approaching the end of the Tour de Fleece with my goal met and all the rest being gravy! This is the very end of the original 2 pounds (32 oz) of Ashland Bay Merino in English Garden. This mini skein is still not washed so it appears a bit twisty. Notice, not a blister to be found. I bet Lance can't say that! I must feel pretty secure about myself to show my feet to the world, but it is summertime and living is easy..........

And here is a basket o' yarn with the rest of the English Garden as well as the laceweight Enchanted Seas from Julie Spins.

With a few days to go in the Tour, I went up to my stash box and pulled out the Kai Mohair in the color Caribbean and began to spin so fine........ Even two ply may be too thin for my liking so I think a Navajo 3-ply is in order. This will stripe the finished yarn, so I will have to choose my pattern carefully.

Saturday was field trip day for Stacy and me. In the morning we drove up to Boulder for a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory tour. We were a bit disappointed that the machinery doesn't run on the weekends, but it was interesting anyway. We dropped a little bit in the Gift Store, and I thought the highlight was seeing the original artwork that was commissioned for the box art. It was incredibly whimsical and the boxes don't do the art justice.

After lunch at an Indian Buffet, a gastronomical flavor which I can say I introduced Stacy to, we went to a class taught by the famous Cookie A. All the sock samples from her new book were there and they may have to go into the queue for later. I have made several pairs of her Monkey Socks and this particular class was on chart reading. She went through the various charting methods and for practice we began a sample of a Celtic braid as shown.

Using her method for cabling without a cable needle was worth the price of admission, as Stacy said. I need practice, but I might just pick up the Slippery Socks again, using this method especially since it uses a one stitch cable repeatedly.

My cleaning break is over (any excuse from housework), and I must vaccuum the downstairs. The kids are coming and I am so excited, that it will be worth the effort, even it they don't notice!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tour de Fleece, day 11

Finished the JulieSpins fiber in the color Enchanted Seas: 2-ply, nearly 400 yards and 4 oz.

Two more bobbins of the Ashland Bay Merino in English Garden.Tomorrow, I will post a cumulative effort so far.

Yesterday was a rest day from spinning, so I obeyed the rules. So what did I do??? I frogged back my Ishbel shawl which you can see to the right in my projects in its before state.. I took it back about 1 1/2 inches beyond the lace, because I was fudging so many rows to make the stitch count come out right that it was now totally wonky. Hopefully, this next time around, with all my practice on the pattern, it will come out closer to the way it was designed.

Edited to add: Looking at my spinning during the Tour de Fleece with my banner photograph, I definitely have to get out of my blue,green, teal, turquoise rut. I think I have more fibers in similar colors in my stash!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Finished Beret!

Remember when I was making lemonade out of lemons? See Here! Well, instead of using the crochet hook, I picked up with size six double points stitches all around the cast off edge at a ratio of 2 to 3 and then knit in K1P1 ribbing for about 1 1/2 inches. Of course, I was at the hairdressers when it was time to cast off and I was afraid of casting off too tightly, so I scavenged through my purse and used a ball point pen. It was pretty rounded so I had to click it open to have a point. Except for having marked up my fingers in the process, it worked great. So there.... to those airport scanners who confiscate knitting needles...we are very resourceful!

Here is the final flat beret from top and bottom.


I needed to grab a couple of the cuties from next door to model the finished product, because it is hard to photograph it on myself........ I had two willing models: first is Sophia:

And Mariel:

Aren't they adorable! And they didn't even mind posing in 95 degree heat!

There is only one more thing I might do and that is to crochet a single line around the seam from the old cast off and the new cast on. I used this technique when I steeked my Kauni sweater more than a year ago. It is similar to the lazy dazy stitch if you embroider.

Now back to spinning for day 5 of the Tour de Fleece.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tour de Fleece, day 4

Here are the results so far: 1 lb spun up of the Ashland Bay merino, 1 lb to go. I did get a running start with some spun before Saturday, but 2 1/2 skeins were finished since the 4th.

JulieSpins alpaca, merino, silk in Enchanted Seas. One bobbin of singles finished...about 2 oz.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My New Best Friend....

That would be my Salad Spinner, probably one of the original ones, imported from France by Moulinex in probably 1976. Back then, BK (before kids), I worked for a major department store in Denver and worked my way up to be a buyer in the Preteen department. That is a department that doesn't exist anymore with the advent of unisex styles, but it was for those girls who were too cool to be kids anymore, and not cool enough for the Juniors department. I was lucky enough to get to go to NYC twice a year for Seasonal Buying trips, and I purchased this salad spinner for myself at Macy's. At that time Macy's was a big deal...they had the parade and all and were not in every city from coast to coast. Carrying that back in my carry-on was a real hassle, but I thought I was the coolest thing ever. Of course, within a few months, salad spinners were everywhere, and like everything else, they are mostly made in China. So, I guess mine is nearly an over 30 years old and still spinning like a charm. Now that salad comes in a bag, it has been re-purposed as a spin dryer for my spun yarn after washing and setting the twist. Here is a skein of the Ashland Bay merino fiber after a good spin.

I have spun up 5 skeins of this fiber for a total of about 1 lb. Not all in the last two days, but over the last several weeks. I am really liking how it is coming out, and it will make a very soft and warm sweater. One pound to go...

For a change, I decided to start another spinning project from my stash: JulieSpins alpaca, merino and silk in the color Enchanted Seas. This fiber wants to be much finer..lace weight, so it will be slow going. I guess I will switch off between the two projects to stay motivated during the Tour de Fleece. I discovered that my satellite company is not carrying the channel that has the Tour de France (or else that is one of the channels we lost when we changed out subscription to save a few bucks) Catching up on my DVR with the season of ER, In Treatment, and True Blood will have to keep me entertained during my spinning through the 26th.

There was so much VM (vegetable matter), ie hay in this 100% alpaca fiber I purchased earlier this year at a local alpaca Festival that everytime I spun or handled the fiber, I had to vacuum.

When I thought I got it all while drafting, there was more during the spinning. Then there was tons more when I wound the singles into a center-pull ball to ply it. Then when I plyed it, even more came out. Still not sure if I got it all, but after several washes and soaks, it is the softest yarn ever. It is two-ply and about 275 yards. It hasn't told me yet what it wants to grow up to be.

One last thing. I just couldn't resist getting a second basket for my spinning, presumably to keep organized in the family room. It is amazing how much stuff spreads out all over the room. It was pretty misshapen when I brought it home, so I hosed it down and reshaped it, and now I really love it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tour de Fleece begins on the 4th

As I had previously announced, I am in training for the Tour de Fleece to coincide with the Tour de France bike race starting on the 4th of July, and I have set a goal of a sweater's worth of spun yarn.

A goal like that needs some training rides, so here are the first two skeins of yarn, still unwashed, but plyed.

I don't know why even in the natural light, the color is way off. The color of the fiber is much truer. If it fluffs more than it is now, it will be bulky, even though it is only 2 ply. A couple of years ago, I took a Knit-to-Fit Class taught by Kristi at A Knitted Peace, so if I cannot find the perfect pattern to make gauge, I will knit a simple pullover using her techniques. I will have plenty of yarn, having started with 32 oz, so I can even throw in some texture/cables. Still in the planning stages, however, since I have to get all the fiber spun up first.

Captured on film, one of the culprits which have been plaguing my garden and lawn for several years. It is still pretty young and small, but in no time, with plenty of nibbles, it will produce another generation this summer. There are only two of these guys right now as far as I can tell, but their appetite is hearty.

So far this year, they have only gone after the lawn and have left these tell-tell signs. I guess that is better than eating all my flowers. I hope they are not listening.
Last year I planted this second clematis plant to grown on the same trellis as the first one. Here is its first bloom of the year, and it looks like there will only be two. I was told that it would bloom all summer, so I hope that is true. The other plant blooms wildly through late spring, then is done. I am hoping this plant will fill the trellis for the rest of the summer.