Friday, February 29, 2008

Big Sky Country

I can't believe what a beautiful day the last day of February has been. I took the dogs for a ride to see how much how snow melt is in Long Valley Creek in California; it's only five miles from here. The dogs don't care - I do. I got sidetracked on the back road to our house. It truly is a big sky.

My poor doggies don't under-
stand why I'd stop the car and jump out, camera in hand. I think they like rural ride-alongs with Ian better because he doesn't stop and jump out - it's worrisome for the doggies.

Neighbor Mim called to say, ""The Sheep Shearer Cometh." Devon will be here Sunday and we'll have yet four more Shetland fleeces. Buster, our cow dog boy, is assuring that all will be well on his watch. I worry about the costs of hay.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Hats

These are the last two hats and all six will go in the mail tomorrow morning. The one on the left is from the skein I just showed in my last blog, spun from Blue-Face Leicester roving dyed by my neighbor Mim. It uncannily matched up with a skein I dyed last weekend. I clearly need better hat models than ta cookie jar and a cannister.

Thanks for all the nice compliments about my hat patterns but the recognition really belongs to this book. I bought it from the library used book sale for $1, probably the best $1 I've ever spent in the library. Roberts breaks the patterns into ethnic groups and then into stitch repetitions. I've used the 16 stitch repeat a lot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hats

I've finished two more hats and have one more to go before I have a half dozen to mail to the Brewery Arts Center. I want to get them there and available while the weather is still cold. I'm motivated to finish these small projects because they pay from things like my guitar, which by the way, broke it's G-string in the middle of the night, two days after I bought it brand new. I'm going to get a new string today. Since it hangs in our bedroom, it was a rather bizarre sound in the deep of the night.


This skein come from one of the bumps I bought from Mim last year. It's Blue-Faced Leicester and lovely. I had posted a picture of it when I bought it but I'm having a hard time finding things in the Vista My Pictures so can only show this. It's already underway as my final hat. I had dyed some raspberry last week in my dye frenzy and it matches perfectly, though the hat a little candy colored for my taste.

Son Josh asked me last year for a hat to wear hunting so I made this one from our four Shetlands. I don't think you can't tell, but the white is double-coated and has a wonderful halo effect. We were at their house yesterday for Grandson Logan's 8th birthday party. I asked him to bring it out so I could take a picture which will probably soon be lost in my Vista My Pictures. I'm thinking about downloading Gimp, a free picture editor.

Friday, February 22, 2008

And Still February

Robin in North Carolina tells me they are having drought, and we here in the high desert have had storms every week for two months. I woke to yet another white morning. The good news is that it melts quickly. The bad news is that the wet roads and road salts make a mess out of my car's windows and very soon my visibility is limited to only the arcs provided by my wipers.


This is what came home with me today. It's an inexpensive starter guitar, but I was pleased that my fingers remember where to go for the chords after all these years. I gave mine away after I let my calluses go and decided that I didn't need the guitars anymore anyway. I woke up one morning this week and realized that I needed a guitar after all. DD asked me if I really needed another hobby and I said that I don't think of music as a hobby. I had debit cards from our cell phone rebates and they had guitar written all over them.

I just subscribed to Acoustic Guitar magazine because they have online lessons. I never get bored with me!

Multimedia message

Poor sick kid

Thursday, February 21, 2008

February 21st

I was so happy this morning to see this lovely ray of color. Last night, when it mattered, the clouds cleared and we able to see the total lunar eclipse. I was really excited and really cold because I couldn't stop watching it, and tonight I drove home in snow and cloud cover with no view of the full moon. I'm glad the eclipse was last night so I could see it.

I grabbed Ian's camera and got several shots this morning. I carry my little bitty camera to and from work but it's on the bottom of my bag. Because the weather has been so bad I haven't taken any pictures or thought about taking any pictures. Then this morning I was startled by prong-horn antelope and I no camera available. that will change.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bloggings with Charlie

I absolutely love the change that comes over the mixture of flour and water after ten minutes of kneading. I don't remember when my fascination with bread began. My kids were just babies when we lived in the Philippines and I remember putting the bowl on the back steps to rise in the heat because I thought our air-conditioned house was too cool. When I went to check on it after 45 minutes, the dough had risen out of the bowl and was running down the steps, like it was trying to escape. I knead on this construction site, counter cutout - it's perfect for bread and pies too.

I am so happy to finally have three glass pans, since my recipe makes three loaves. The middle one is my only surviving pan, the right I just purchased but it's no longer a stock item, and the left antique pan is on the I traded Mim for that had belonged to someone in her family. When Kathy said, "Who needs bread?" - Mim has decided she does and is going to trade me bread for fiber. It's just a different kind of fiber - hah! BTW, if you haven't read Kathy's crow story - do so now.

Five of the six hats that I sent to the Brewery Arts Center have sold and my project emphasis is to replace them. These two are the same hat but I've reversed the yarn. I have completed a third hat but I'm not liking it so much so no picture. I'm happy to have more choices after my dye day frenzy last weekend and hope to have another box in the mail soon. Who knows - I've been wanting a guitar. Too bad I can't work a hats-for-guitar trade.

Yesterday was one of the richer holiday days I can remember. I finished my book on the back deck, even though the thermometer registered 52 degrees. Chrissie came out with Kiernan and Alexia late in the afternoon, but just in time for the bread to come out of the oven, so we ate a loaf. Now I have to wait another week to start my fiber trade. My plans were to wind a warp in the afternoon, but I love the plans, just as they came to pass.

Bloggings with Charlie - an obvious bad pun on John Steinbeck's book, but I think you know who's sharing my lap with my computer.....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Day After Valentine's Day

These are the fruits of my dye labors today. I seem to be stuck in a dye rut, the colors aren't much differnt than earlier skeins. The green on the left was actually a brassy yellow that I saddened with black and got yet more green. I hadn't planned to dye all these skeins today. I had planned to make bread.

I drove across the valley to Mim's to get the small glass bread pan that she had offered to trade for my larger one. That's a trip - we live 3 1/2 miles apart but it takes ten minute to drive there because of the gates and roads. She has so much snow at her end of our valley that her sheep can walk over the fence from one pen to another. I was sorry to not have my camera. I got back home to realize that I had forgotten to buy more flour.

Tomorrow is my spinning demonstration for the library's knitting club. I'll assemble the bag on the left for them, the one on the right being the bag I assembled for our guild last weekend. So what did I do with my afternoon since I couldn't make bread?

I sat on the deck and read this book. The thermometer said it was only 49 degrees but it felt so warm that I changed into a tank top, and I'll probably be sorry I did tomorrow when I wake up with a sunburn.

I wish I could come up with a signature sign-off like Garrison Kieler's - from Lake Wobegon where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average. Maybe one will come to me in the shower.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bags

This is the bag that I assembled for the Learning Tree post-guild meeting demon-
stration last Saturday. For this, I was running out of yarn so held two strands together for a 3-stitch i-cord on the handle. They were two different yarns and I like the result - click for big. I think about 30 people stayed and I was surprised at the animated interest.

My interest in felted bags started with one that appeared in Sara Lamb's blog a couple of years ago, but she started from the top and went down. I phished for ideas because I wanted to start from the bottom and go up, like a sock where you're not sure how much yarn you have.
This is the bag I'm trying to finish and felt since I still have to present a program to the library's knitting club this Sunday. I was able to use up a total of six partial balls in this bag. I love the palette that I get with different colors and different wools.

Stephanie asked me about my pattern, and it's nothing more than knitting a box, starting with a rectangle base. For that base, whatever stitch you chose, slip the first stitch of each row so you can pick it up stitches later. I do the base in garter, but slip stitch would be good too. I cast on between 30-36 stitches and knit between 17 to 20 rows. How many stitches you cast on determines how wide your bag will be and how may rows you knit determines how broad it will be. Pick up stitches all the way round. I don't like to go too big because bags sag. How many rounds you knit after picking up stitches will determine how tall your bag will be. I tend to think I'm done at around 13" measuring all the bag, from the folded base up. Handles are i-cord. You can do 4-5 stitch i-cord, or hold two strands together for 3 stitches i-cord which is my favorite. Knit at least 6' and even more if you want long shoulder straps.

IMPORTANT: Put into a zippered pillow case cover before submitting to the rigors of your washing machine. This was Sara's lesson learned. Felt lint is hard on washing machine pumps.

It's your bag - you decide. You have to have scrap wool around, just begging you to make it beautiful. Go forth and do beautiful~

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thilly

Forgive me for a grandma moment. I just can't resist posting Alexia's picture for what she tells her mother is Fancy Party Dress Day at school. Her brother thinks she's "thilly."

My road is muddy. Eleanor thinks I'm driving in snow and corrects the heck out of my steering, which is spooky. In spite of the mud, the east side our house is still ice and dangerous to walk on and tonight the barometric pressure is dropping because a storm is predicted for tomorrow. I can't walk the dogs in the mornings. Our dye day this weekend has been canceled because we're all sick or are recovering from being sick. So I am indulging myself in a moment of grandmother obnoxious and blatant self-aggrandizing. I'm having a one-woman, Pity Party dye-day on Friday and will have some show-and-tell after that.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feburary 10th

Still counting down the days in February. Today is the first I've been aware that the days are actually growing longer. I was sick last Sunday so compared to two weeks ago, there's a bit more daylight at 5:40. I pulled into a county park to catch this fading sunset. I haven't seen anything like this in literally months, and with a storm forecasted for Tuesday, I knew I had to catch this fleeting sky.

Carol Lloyd gave me sourdough starter for Christmas and ever since I've been working on getting my bread mojo back. I told my daughter, you may not remember, but I used to bake all our bread, to which she replied, "Oh. No. Mother. Trust. Me I. Remember," which wasn't exactly the response I was looking for. Remind me - she's my favorite woman on the planet, why? Three loaves of bread is too many for us, so Carol has been getting a loaf a week - probably a return on a gift she's never had.


I only have two glass pans, and they say that sourdough bread must be baked in a glass pan. I tried to substitute a teflon pan. Can you guess which loaf was baked in the teflon pan?
Charlie and I don't agree on what a laptop means. Can you guess which one is Charlie?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Handspun Yarns, not Tales

These are the locks I started with. I've learned a lot about how to felt and how to not felt locks, by badly felting locks. I do so love these colors and am determined to salvage their little clotted, knotted selves.
Somewhere in my Vista photo gallery, where I still struggle to find my pictures, is a photo of the two bobbins. It was a good picture. One bobbin I flicked with clearly preferable results but painful because of the knots; the other bobbin was from locks carded on the drum carder, with a clear loss of color change and a blurring of colors. Even so, I love the plied skein. It will be a great bag yarn.

This is all that I have left from my dyed handspun yarns. Bags are a fiber hog. I've started another one on the bottom left and am using a lot of bits and pieces, because it's all I've got left and I'd like everything to be used. I went upstairs to see if I could find anything useful in the bin I'd quarantined as moth infected. I realized the solution was to dump the whole lot and get it over with, and it was relief to relegate them to the dumpster. Fresh start.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 5th

Does it sound like I'm counting down the month? Road crews were clearing this away yesterday morning on my way to work, so I stopped for a shot at where Eleanor and I got in big trouble last Thursday night. It's the blowing snow that covers the road. I asked one of the road crew if a snow fence might be possible and he said they were thinking about it. What's to think about?! A one-time fence, or clearing the roads every day? I love our county road crew, but that defies my logic. I was thrilled to drive home on asphalt last night, the first time in over a month. Ian goes to work before me and just called to say that it's down to one lane again, and tracks at that, so I'll be driving out to the highway and to go in through California.

It's going to be a rough day at work again today. Our staff has been hit hard by influenza B so we're operating an a skeleton crew of the survivors.

This color is a huge departure for me so I'm wondering if my color appreciation has changed because of all the dyeing I've been doing using purple, or if Amy has finally rubbed off on me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

February 5th

It was 4 degrees when I woke up this morning. If I wanted Minnesota weather, I'd move there.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Foiled Program

In a dis-
appointing turn of events, I awoke with no voice today. I didn't have one yesterday either, but I've been on amoxicillin for bronchitis since last Thursday and was sure that I'd be back in form today. We got another dumping of snow last night and I decided my goose would be cooked, if I slid off the road, the blowing snow covered my tracks and I couldn't call for help. One of our neighbors spent the night with two her friends in a Lexus last night when they slid off the road into a ditch. So I'm home.

This is the bag that I had planned to assemble so they could see how simply one is made. You don't have to be a spinner to make a bag, but you do have to use wool. The bag I'm carrying at this time I knit with two colors of Lamb's Pride with a color bridge of rainbow dyed handspun.
Before they're felted, the bags are downright homely. The left bag is all Coop-
worth, but the right one is overdyed gray Romney on the bottom and Coopworth/Salish on the top. I love its luster and how it appears to bubble. I mixed hybiscus and mulberry because hybiccus alone is too pink. Then when the yarn was cooking, I sprinkled just a little of the mulberry crystals over it - I hate to make a solid color yarn.

I was hoping this angle would show how different the results are. Top left is Border Leicester, right is Lincoln/BL X and bottom is Romney. The greatest shrinkage by far was the Icelandic which was completely done at two washings, when the rest weren't done until four. I cast on 30 stitches for all the swatches. The most dense was the Icelandic and the most stitch definition after felting was the Lincoln, but what halo it has! Maybe I'll just use a smaller needle. I won't be able to combine Icelandic with the other fleeces unless I want it to produce a draw-in. Who knows~

And in another turn of events, Linda called a little while ago to ask if I would be willing to do this presentation after the Guild meeting this Saturday as a substitute Learning Tree program. The scheduled program had a conflict and I'm delighted. I won't even have to unpack my baskets!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fixing to Get Ready

Each time I've done a demonstration or a program, I put things on the dining room table as I think of them. I call it my Staging Area. (The blue and purple thing on the bottom left is an unfelted bag.) This all started when I told Jean, the volunteer who runs the twice-a-month beginning knitting group at the library, that I would be glad to demonstrate spinning any time she was interested. She selected the date of her birthday and I was thinking spindles and spinning wheel. that is until she came by to show me the press release she had given the newspaper.

"Join us at the Spanish Springs Library on Sunday, February 3rd, to enjoy a program by local spinner and knitter, Sharon Campbell. Sharon begins the presentation be demonstrating how to spin wool, contributed by the Shetland sheep she raised. She will spin the wool into yarn on her portable wheel and will display many of her finished projects. One of the specialities from her needles is felting. Felting is a dousing of the knitted item in hot water in a washing machine to shrink the piece. The result is a smooth finish that is magnificent to see and touch and very trendy. The regular knitting class begins at 1:30. All are welcome to this free class and demonstration."

In my shoes, wouldn't you feel a little anxious? Finished pieces?? I have only my own two felted bags, as I sold the rest. Since the focus seems to be felting and because I am a very fast knitter, I decided to see how close I can come to making a program to match her press release. I had knitted two bags when it occurred to me that what I really need are knitted and felted swatches.
These are my washed and drying swatches. I made duplicates on several of them, but will measure these against their felted outcome. I'm anxious to see what I learn. I have 24 bins, no I'm not ashamed, of fleeces in the garage and I plan to spin and sample them into felted swatches as I can get them done. I'm really excited about this venture. It all started by a post that I saw on Sara's blog a year or two ago.


This came in the mail today. I had admired Jodi's Tulip baby sweater. She told me that she had purchased the pattern twice and offered to send me the duplicate. I love it! I think it's going to be as easy as a BSG, unique and a perfect use for leftover yarns, of which I have - what you think I don't have any leftover yarns?????