Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween at the Library

This is what Halloween looked like at the library. The kids treat-or-treated us after storytime. I'm not sure they knew we were in costume, but we sure knew they were. Some of the littlest ones didn't even know they were in costume. They were adorable.

We even had an Elvis sighting.

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blue Ribbons

I received this blue ribbon from Jodi last week - thanks Jodi! I have been bogged down by some deadlines at work and so am just now able to pass on this acknowledgment. I think the idea in passing on this ribbon is to point to some blogs that I read any enjoy and would like to introduce my friends to. This might be difficult since I don't read that many blogs and everyone seems to know each other already, so I'm only going to pick three that I enjoy but that might be new to some of you:

The Wooly Daisy - Steph lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is a spinner, an accomplished dyer, homeschooling mother, and lover of chickens and also of my favorite most beer, Lagunitas IPA.

A View from Sierra County
- Birdsong has blogged for longer than most of us and one of her passions is her adopted burros. She is a spinner and knitter and more importantly, a philosopher. Her blogs are are always thoughtful.

Wool Enough, and Time
- "Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a'waitin' for me, Santa Catalina, the island of romance" - sang the 4 Preps, and it is the island from which this earthy blog comes with posts of drop spindling and lace knitting. Portable island fiber fare, I do say.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Personal Shopper

I have been threatening to put a match to my closet for months now. When this book came to the library from technical services, Liz handed it to me and said, here - maybe this is what you're looking for. Ian and I have watched Project Runway for the past several seasons, and as a reasonably accomplished seamstress, I am consumed by this show. All the while I have become more hateful towards my own clothes. I'm not sure if Liz did me a favor, but I did read the book from cover to cover.

I had to be in town early this morning to see my eye doctor and because it was my assigned holiday for Nevada Day - if you don't live here, don't ask, -I decided to follow up on Isaac's suggetion to you use a personal shopper from your favorite department store. In short order I found myself with Vanessa, who for three hours, assisted me in identifying sizes, brands and looks for my work-week wardrobe needs.

I was stunned to be so attracted to this purple vest. I don't wear purple. Amy wears purple. Then Vanessa put it with colors that I would have never thought of, but she also put it with colors from makers she had determined would fit me. She made shopping so easy. My daughter says this is the most expensive free service that I have ever had. Mizrahi says you need to empty all your closet onto the bed and then try on every garment.
When I got home I decided it was time to really do a closet assess-
ment. It took me two hours and I filled these three bags - I'm up in the air on the boots. It was hard to fill these bags because I know what I spent on the items that I put into them. Now that I've bagged up my clothes, and I've been attached to them for way too many years, I really feel much better. I especially feel good about the remaining clothes in my closet not being smashed together. The shopping part was fun. The closet rennovation was really painful and hard.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rabbit Brush Stew

I collected two pounds of stems and blossoms from a rabbit brush plant. It's by our driveway and is actually one of the few still in bloom. Amy has since pointed out to me that the yellow of the flowers is fugitive and that the actual dye color comes from the plant itself. That's good news since it means I can collect and dye from rabbit brush any time during the year, whether the plant is in bloom or not
These are the skeins I've collected for this dye bath. They total one pound, for which I collected two pounds of rabbit brush. The skein on the left is white border leicester and it's neighbor is light grey Romney. The rest are skeins that I dyed with indigo earlier this year,with the two on the right being overdyed grey Romney.
And this my result. I mordanted in the dye bath. I used 10% alum and 5% cream of tarter of the weight of dry skeins. I cooked them for an hour before I left for work, but the giant pot was too hot to move so they sat in the dye bath all day.
I love these colors. At first I was disap-
pointed at how muted they were and I blamed the rabbit brush. I realize now that I really didn't have strong enough blues to produce deeper greens.
It was a lightbulb moment when I cut the skein ties off. As I wound the skeins into balls, the ties started to pile up and I realized that they were a terrific moss green. The ties were from a natural brown skein - a leftover from something, spun of something.
So - these are the skeins I have collected from natural dyes. They are from luster long wools, which is what Sara recommends for cut-pile weaving. I don't know how to cut-pile weave but plan to learn. The light bulb moment was then it occurred to me that I could have been using Shetland and been knitting caps from these colors.

What a dunce! I need a drink.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flap Caps 101

This is the prototype for the last and final cap of my Christmas order. I always stress over commis-
sioned work and this was no exception. I talked to Laura on the phone and emailed her ad nauseam. It's a wonder she picks up the phone when she sees my number. She's my coach. I caught the addiction from her but she has since moved one. I made this hat for Ian, and his Virgo self is just happy that all the designs line up.

I didn't realize how busy it was until I was well into the cap. Ian says the flaps will be fine when the cold hits and he can tie them down, but in the meantime they're flaps and nothing more than that. They mostly flap and get caught in his collar.
I went back to the drawing board and made triangular flaps, and instead of garter-
stitch for the ribbing, I chose my usual corrugated rib. I also had trouble with the cast-on between the earflaps for the neck on Ian's cap and had to go back with a row of single crochet to snug it up. Laura talked me through a purl cast on which worked like a charm.

I'm too lazy to crop this so you get the whole action - birthday flowers, Charlie, Ian's crumpled cap and the cookie jar that I use to shape my caps after they're washed. These are the only pictures that I have since the caps have been delivered. I tried on this cap and, oh my goodness, it's like a glove for the head. No wonder flap caps are so popular. She paid me last month - now I can deposit the check!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Color of Birthday

Amy came out yesterday for a visit and to help me celebrate my birthday, she brought this stunning marigold to plant in the yard, somehow fitting since I've been obsessing on yellow rabbit brush. I thought it ironic that the hand-dyed mohair locks she was drop spindling were in harmony with her flower choice. More ironic, since I had started working on the same colors that morning.

One dye day last spring, the same one when I dyed the three colors for my confetti socks, I dabbled in trying to rainbow dye an ounce of silver Romney. This morning was the face off and I realized the roving was just as felted as I feared. I was so gentle with it - oh well. It went onto the drum carder. I tried to keep the oranges on one side and the reds on the other.
I really thought that I could see the reds, oranges and yellows when I was spinning, but the picture is probably more honest than I was with myself.
My grandma used to say, "The proof is in the pudding" and this pudding is orange. Am I disapppointed? You betcha. I'll put in the color basket and one day it may find its way into a felted bag.

Amy brought a binder of sock ideas that she has been collecting. My swatching for Schaeffer's Eleanor Roosevelt sock yarn hasn't yielded any satisfactory results, but as soon as I saw Boxcar Willie, I knew that was the pattern for my yarn. I'm just a few inches into it but it's good.
Amy also brought pies - note the continuing color theme. They are Granny Smith apple, blackberry, cranberry and the right one is with Grand Marnier. She always makes a pie "without" for Ian. I sample both because I can, and I can say with authority that Amy is a killer pie maker.

Friday, October 17, 2008


more animals

Hurry Up and Wait

I took Ian's camera this morning when I walked the dogs. Amy bought Ian this filter for his birthday and I played with it before we headed out. At the time I thought I'd start my post with this picture of the sun and end it with one of the full moon, but the clouds have come in and there is no moon. Today is October 17th, my mother's birthday, and a lovely day of Indian summer - thanks Mother Nature.

I have been antsy of late. I have a long list of things that I need to do and haven't. One of them is to collect rabbit brush and make a dye liquor for the skeins I have been putting together since early summer. I especially want to turn some of my indigo blues into green. The landscape which was so recently golden has faded. Most rabbit brush has turned white, though there is one still blooming on the right if you squint. I need to collect blossoms now or forfeit the oportunity to dye this fall.
Until just this week, our whole landscape was golden and I always would say, tomorrow I'll stop for a picture, but all the tomorrows I rationalized away with yet another promise of tomorrow. The white bushes were recently yellow. It's now or next year.
I'm not sure why some plants are still blooming. You can see why rabbit brush is such a wonderful source of yellow dye. I'm a one-note Sally - I only mordant with alum because of the scary toxins in other mordants. If I can't get my color with alum, then I won't.
This is the plant that I ultimately harvested from - it's on our property and you can almost see our sheep pen in the distance. I cooked the concoction three hours. Laura suggested that I let the pot sit at least overnight, before I strain out the plant material. So I have a very large pot sitting on the stones in front of the house right now.

I am so frustrated. I haven't finished anything, but I'm working on a lot of things. I thought I'd finish my hat last night but ran out of yarn, so spent the afternoon spinning up more. It's sized and drying. More hurry up and wait as far as I'm concerned.
Apart from finishing a walk with the dogs this morning, this is the only thing that I've actually accom-
plished today. I don't count laundry as an accomplishment.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Final Report - Moths

Yes, I know these are more items for the landfills of the world. Yes, I was at WalMart this morning to purchase them. Yes, I have been successful in eliminating moths. Yes, I will protect my wool from them in the future.

No more cute baskets for me. No more open exposed fleece in the studio. My coned yarns are still out there and a concern, but I can see them and will just have to keep an eye on them. No more throwing away infected wool. It's too painful. I'm just glad to be moth free - finally.

I am so excited about Blogger's new widget. It allows me to follow my friends' blogs right from my own blog. It's a blogroll as well, so anyone can click on a friend and see whaz-up. I can't tell you how times I've settled down of an evening to relax and see what my blog friends are up to and then I get the Bloglines plumber out-of-service screen. It may be a moment to Bloglines, but I only had that moment. Blogger keeps track of who blogged and when. The only thing that would make it better would be if I actually owned stock in Google.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Muffle muffle to me

Today is my birthday. Our neighbor Carol called yesterday afternoon to say she was bringing over a birthday raspberry pie. The pie was still warm. We didn't wait.

I've been swatching Schaeffer's sock yarn in the Eleanor Roosevelt color pathway. Earlier in the week I thought that socks in lace looked cool, but now that it is genuinely cool, e.g., 49 degrees when I left work this afternoon - yes, I had to work on my birthday - I'm not so enamoured. Holes in wool socks??

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A FO - Finally!

Yesterday was a day of errands, starting with the lab because they lost the sample from three weeks ago. Earlier this week I had worn short pants and sandal s to work. Nevada weather is so unpredictable. We came out from Costco to this.

We've gotten our first dusting of snow this year and the trees haven't even turned yet. I object. It's supposed to autumn, then winter.
Even the llamas got a dusting of snow and they loved it. It's so cold outside - brrrrr.

As a passenger and then waiting for appoint-
ments, I finally finished the socks I started in June. It's so cold, I'm asking myself why anyone, me in this case, would knit socks with holes. The yarn is Tofufootsies - something like that. The yarn has soy and shellfish and felt kinda creepy and oddly crisp while I was knitting, but washed - ver' soft and niza.
They fit too - that's the best part. This is Gayle's lace ribbing pattern, knit in the round as a 5 stitch pattern.

Row 1: K3, p2
Row 2: K1, yo, ssk, Ps
Row 3: K3, P2
Row 4: K2 tog, yo, K1, P2

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Oh, and there was a barbeque

This fluff ball caused quite a stir at son Josh's work two weeks ago. He was unloading a shipment on the dock that had come in from Anaheim and was moving some shrink-wrapped cabinets into a delivery for Lowe's, but he kept hearing what sounded like a kitten. He finally identified a specific cabinet but since he wasn't carrying a knife, he called to another guy to come over and listen and to bring a knife. They both were sure they weren't hearing things and sliced off the wrap, opened up the door to find two very tiny kittens.

The kitten doing all the protesting was the small black one. The black and white kitten appeared to be dead. The shipment from Anaheim takes a full day and who knows how long they had been in that cabinet. They bought milk from the vending machine and made a eye dropper of sorts from the shell of a ball-point pen. By this time a number of the staff were engaged, and one women went to a store for an eyedropper and formula. The kittens are so frantic for food, that DIL Missy says she still has to hold their heads to feed them because they cast about wildly in search for food.
Today was Josh and Missy's end of summer barbeque, and to prove it, the weather cooper-
ated with rain. This is cousin Luke with the yet unnamed kitties. They haven't been to a vet or been sexed so the names will have to wait. Luke loves kitties, but I bet you can tell that from his ffom his face.
This is Missy's first knitting project ever. She started on it at our Gathering last month and today we bound off and sewed in the tails. I am so proud of her even stitches and selvedges. It truly gave me goosebumps. I brought her some cotton and a pattern for a diagonal washcloth. I cast on the four stitches for her and then she took it from there, including her introduction to yarn overs. But then I told her that I wanted to switch her over to continental knitting. She took right to it. It gave me goosebumps again. She grew up watching and listening to her grandmother knit. The time was right. She was a knitter all along.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Caps as Gifts

Excuse Charlie - almost all my hats I've knit from hand-
dyed, hand spun yarns. That seems to be what sells. On occasion, I've made hats from natural colored wools, but they haven't exactly jumped into shopping bags. But now I have a Christmas commission and it's for natural colored yarns.

These are the two that I have completed so far. I am pleased, because the patterns that I have worked on in the variegated colored yarns have been completely unsuccessful on the natural colored yarns. In fact, viewing a WIP last month, Amy quipped that sometimes the best solution is to rip out and start over. The hat that judicious comment was directed to is on the left. I love the hat and am glad I listened to her.