Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knit & Crochet Blog week- Day 2- An Inspirational Pattern. Knitcroblo

I have attempted many exciting patterns in the last several years of adventurous knitting.   Lace, cables, Fair Isle, chart reading, textural.     The most adventurous and ambitious pattern has been the GAAA, aka the Great American Aran Afghan which is one of my works in progress. (see the sidebar).   I am on the 7th square and although I haven't worked on it for a few weeks, I keep up with the Ravelry group dedicated to this pattern.   This past weekend, I was able to assist another knitter who was stuck on the Sumner square which I had already finished.  This is the one with the spider, web and vine, and flies.   You have to see it to understand it.
And, I was actually able to help her with a few simple instructions.  That is what the knitting community is all about.    Teaching, supporting, sharing, and passing on skills and tips to everyone interested.   The community was there for me as I gained new skills and I am thrilled to be able to pay back and pay forward.

That is inspirational.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knit & Crochet Blog week- Day 1- Starting Out.

My Grandmother was a knitter, and so was my Mother, and it was Grandma who taught me how to knit in 1957 or so when we were living with Grandma and Grandpa after my Dad left the Air Force for good.   I remember sitting with her watching "Edge of Night",  a popular soap of the time, or was it "As the World Turns"?  Grandma, in her big chair with the footstool and always knitting.  Mostly fisherman knit sweaters, or shells with the tiniest of needles.   Lots of lace, suits.   I never noticed her looking at the patterns, so I thought she was magic.  It was only recently when Mom moved, did I find the pattern books from the 1950's and 1960's when Mom and I cleaned out some of the old stuff.   Pattern books that contained the sweaters that Grandma made, but tweaked with her talent.

Here is another sample of Grandma's knitting with sequins.

The first project we shared was a doll sweater, in a salmon color.   I don't remember too much about the process, or the finished results, or what happened to it, but I do remember the holes from dropped stitches.   There is a long gap in my memory to the time of high school and college.   By then I could crochet, and knit well enough to have completed a couple of sweaters.

These two I still own and wear.   I remember a couple of things about knitting them, that the patterns were from Family Circle or Woman's Day magazine.  They are both the same pattern, with two different fair isle patterns, and one a turtle, one a crew.  Those were the days when wool was put up in 4 oz skeins (like Red Heart, but 100 % wool and for only about $1 a skein)  
The fair isle pattern was accomplished with bobbins, which were forever dangled and tangled on the back of the knitting.  Every other row or so, I had to stop to untangle everything.    I must have had a lot more patience then!
  I have since learned two handed stranded knitting when I knit my Kauni rainbow sweater so no more tangles.

Whatever I learned when I was 7 must have stuck with me and returned throughout my years improving with practice and new skills learned.    

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just a thought

"There are two big jokes here in Iceland at the moment:

1. The Brits asked Iceland to send them some cash, but as there is no C in the Icelandic alphabet we thought they meant ash.

2. It was the last wish of the newly dead economy of Iceland that its ashes would be spread all over Europe."

Pulled from Mason-Dixon Knitting today....... makes me think that I would love to be stranded in Europe with my knitting.   That and my credit card.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It was a tough winter all around.

The rose bush did not make it, rest in peace   This what it looked like in full bloom a couple of summers ago.

 This should teach me about heavily mulching my roses every fall and covering the bottoms.  At least it is Spring for real now, so I cleaned out the raspberries, dug out the dead rose bush and got a feel for the rest of the blooms to come.    It will be a while before the grass is as green as the photo above, since the front was buried under snow for more than 4 months this winter and should be heavily raked.   I planted lots of tulips in the front and the back, but the dog ate most of the tulips in the back, digging her (edited to correct gender)  way down.   Grrrr.

 Guess what I asked for for Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bad Karma Day ends well.....

I asked if it were going to rain today, and was told "no", so I left the house with out my raincoat....and it began to rain as soon as I turned the first corner.  

I thought I would head out early for the optician to have my new glasses adjusted since they are slipping a bit.   It is just north of the Temple, so an easy stop on the way, but when I got there there was a sign on the door which said "Closed today, sorry for the inconvenience."   Yes, it is inconvenient since they are not open late enough during the week to stop by after work. So now, I have to try again next Saturday morning.

I was plenty early for my Torah Study class (Torah is the first 5 Books of the Bible, for those unfamiliar) which I have been attending  since 1987.....A line, a word, a phrase, or no progress at all and we are still in Leviticus having started at Genesis 1:1.   Sounds weird, I know, but it is a wonderful group of people and led by two great Rabbis.   But, I digress.   Instead of going straight to the Temple, I decided to stop at Starbucks which is conveniently situated in a shopping center next to the Temple.    My grande non-fat latte and I got back into the car, and yes, you guessed it, the car wouldn't start.   Turn the key, all the lights come on, the radio comes on, but no ignition, no engagement of the starter, just the click and a slight hummm.  I sat there calmly sipping my caffeine fix and occasionally trying again.   Turn the wheel, step on the brakes, in and out of gear, depress the clutch, trying each time to get the car to start.  Run through the gears, sip some latte, try again.  NOTHING.    I eventually left a note on the windshield saying the car died, and help would be coming at 12:15, because with the way the morning had been going so far, it was likely to be towed, or ticketed for overstaying my welcome in front of Starbucks.    I had called the hub and he would come to my rescue after my class.   I walked over to Temple and enjoyed the session as usual, then walked back to find him waiting already.   He put the car in neutral and coasted it back out of the parking space, now it was blocking the driving lane in the shopping center.  With the kindness of strangers, since hub's back is bad, and mine is weak as well, we got a push, the clutch was popped and the engine started.   Off to the Hyundai dealer straight away, because I was afraid if I turned off the car again, it would be dead again.    Turns out there is a switch that engages under the clutch area that allows the starter to start, and mine was intermittently shorting out preventing its starting.   Easy peasy, except, no part in stock and they can't get it and fix the car until Tuesday.  

I took out my frustrations with the day so far hand carding more of my Shetland fleece.   It cards very nicely, even if the process is slower and the volume is less than a drum carder.   I figured out how to roll the rolags and then stretch them out into nice little balls of roving.   Each ball is between 5-10 grams in weight and now ready for spinning.

I finished the afternoon by heading over to the new 24 Hour Fitness club which just opened yesterday, replacing my old, small, and definitely yucky club that I have been a member of for over 10 years.  Not that I have been using it too much lately, but now I vow to start up again.   They grandfathered in all the people who went to the now closed site, and we do not have to pay an upcharge to go to this brand new fancy schmancy club with all the amenities.  Yay!   So I worked out....elliptical, treadmill, some weight machines, and on Wednesday I meet with a trainer for a fitness orientation, to jump start my training program again.  It is convenient to home and on the way home from work so I have no excuses....well, only a few....but I need all my readers to encourage me to keep on keeping on and to try to regain my former level of fitness, which has greatly suffered with too many free lunches and less mobility on my new job.  I ain't getting any younger, so it is now or never.

So a good ending to a lousy start of the day.    Good Karma wishes for tomorrow, everyone!  And some happy orchid photos to enjoy!

Knit & Crochet Blog week coming up soon.

Join the fun.   Thanks to Eskimimiknits for some blogging fun and knitting fun and crocheting fun.  I'll try and follow through and post each day...a real challenge for me, but there will be many blogs using the same format during the week, and I will attempt to do my part!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2 skeins done, and lots to go

I plyed up the singles from the Shetland fleece I have been working on, and the the net results so far are 5.5 oz and about 215 yards done up into two skeins. I never weighed the washed fleece, so I am only guessing that there are about 1.5 pounds left to card and spin. Here is it together.
 And here is a closeup.
I'm not sure if I am going to try dying the finished yarn or not, but I'll probably wait until more of it is finished and I have a project in mind.

I returned the drum carder and I almost bought one on ebay today, but was outbid in the last 20 minutes.   Probably a good thing, because the savings were not considerable over a new one, and there would be no recourse if anything was wrong with it when it arrived.   I can wait.....it is not like I don't have anything to work on..............

Now back to some knitting..........

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Bench is Back, and it's gorgeous!

Remember my adventures with Mom's bench from December?   If not, you can view the original post here.   In January, I took it to Ackerman's and Sons to see if what was possible for restoration.    I went and picked it up today and I am so happy with it.     The wood has been restored and sealed in the original mahogany color, without losing the antique feel of it.  And the upholstery was finished so nicely.

I could only get the real feel for the color in natural lighting.  And the beauty of the flame mahogany just glows.
Double welting on the upholstery

Even the inside of the drawer was stripped and sealed, and the wood burned label is still there!

  Lovely grain of the mahogany.
As my brother told me, it is a significant family heirloom and worth the effort and the dollars to save.  Yeah.....absolutely.

Monday, April 5, 2010


The system worked like a machine.   Here is what I mean:





Card into batts

Batts into Roving

Spin into yarn!

Lest you think I worked on this 24 hours a day all weekend, this is the tally.   All the fiber has been washed from Thursday through tonight.   The last batch of 3 mesh bags is drying outside overnight and a total of 9 bags altogether..    About 3-4 oz. has been carded into batts and 1 1/2 oz.  has been spun into single ply yarn.   Believe me, I have a long way to go to finish this fleece, but at least I have a record and sampling of how long it took me and what the yarn is like.    It is not really as soft as it may look, so it will be suitable to outerwear, felting and accessories.   I may even give dying a try since there will be so much of it and it is such a neutral color.   My plan at this point is to 2-ply it to a worsted weight and then measure and weigh the final product before deciding what it will become.

With the three day weekend, I even managed two walks, 2 loads of laundry, a couple of movies, some reading, and more general relaxing.   I guess what they say is true: you get more done when you have lots to do.  Or something like that.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This should keep me busy for a while!

Today's mail brought a box.... a big box.  And inside is a whole shetland fleece from a sheep named Mary, from Flutterby Farms in the San Diego area.    This fleece was living happily on Mary until last Saturday, the 27th, when John Quimby from Roseburg, OR sheared her.   All this info came from Jeri, (Fluffysgarden on Ravelry) who offered to select and ship several fleeces at a really good price.  How could I turn down such an offer.  Talk about fresh!    It was too windy to unfold it onto the mesh picnic table outside, so I spread a twin size sheet in the basement and carefully spread it out.
 I removed the yucky poopy bits, the second cuts and the coarser parts around the edges.
What is left has a staple length of about 4-5 inches and I really look forward to processing it to see what results.    
The cut side of the fleece is a lovely oatmeal color, while the tip ends are more yellow.   
I did bundle up about 6 oz of it into mesh bags to soak and wash over the next couple of days and I will be interested to see what the final color will be.    

I finished the Romney silver that I started a few weeks ago and ended up with about 5 oz of worsted weight yarn.   It was a pleasure to card and spin.
As a break from all the neutral colors, I have also been spinning up Dark Cathedral, by JulieSpins.   I originally thought it would be for socks but I think I am spinning too thin for that.   As a two ply, it should make pretty dramatic lace weight yarn.  This yarn is superwash merino, bamboo, and nylon.
And the shopping bag is coming along nicely.    My hands are getting used to the coarseness of the hemp fiber and it is a simple enough pattern to carry along for portable knitting.