Monday, May 28, 2007

High Desert Blooms

It's that month in the high desert when we get wildflowers. It's a harsh environment and not many plants are hearty enough to produce a show. This is balsamroot, not to be confused with mule ear. Mule ear will bloom in another week. They are not solitary plants like this and make will make the hills appear golden from a distance.

We have a small spring above us, so this is an arnica, not really a desert plant. It sure is pretty though and it has a companion. Like most high desert plants, the flowers are small and easy to miss. If you look, you can see the tiny violet heads of the other plant.

And here is a penstemon. We have few and they don't last long. I was pretty excited to see this one - enough to go back home from my walk and get the camera.

There is absolutely nothing pretty about tumble mustard. I took this picture because it's a favorite of the mormon crickets, which have made an appearance a couple of valleys east of us. We have tried to eliminate this plant from around our house and are armed with cricket bait in the event they do come this way. We are in prime cricket season, right now. We have been through one intense encounter in the past and hope we're ready in the event they make it here again this year.

We babysat last night. Papa has Kiernan and the dogs loaded up. They are going to take a drive to see the wild horses which are still here at the spring east of us. They are so excited to go, if only Papa would lose the silly camera and drive.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Wedding

I'm finally sorting through all the wedding pictures Ian took at the Catamaran Hotel in Pacific Beach, San Diego. It's been two weeks since we went and I'm just now blogging about that delightful event. We have a huge, wonderful extended family and it could not have been a better wedding. Esther and I agreed that the only thing that went wrong was that she stepped on her dress and fell when trying to hand off (not toss) her bouquet to her soon-to-be sister-in-law. SILTB doesn't know that the proposal is coming in July. And here they are, the bride and groom - the reason for our trip to California. They are just as beautiful on the inside as on the out and I'm proud that they are genuine and real people, in spite of being pretty. Carlos is Ian's youngest son and he's a very proud dad.

Granddaughter Elise as flower girl, experiencing a moment of sudden shyness. Can you image at age eight, all those people?? She was great, and did I mention beautiful?

Grandson Noah, the ring bearer. He's the youngest of our grandchildren, a native San Franciscan - not many of those these days. He and Elise took a tumble the day before while playing with a balloon. He ended up with a cut lip, wouldn't you know it.

We enjoyed the reflection of Carlos and Esther's spontaneous personalities in every part of the event, including the poker game for the groom and his guys, and the visit to the nail salon for the ladies. I have to admit that it was my first pedicure, but it was a blast. The moms ended up in an overflow nail salon and I thought it was pretty cool to be included - mom two and a half.

After the wedding and before the honeymoon in New York, the kids came up visit us at my sister-in-law's place in Oceanside. Here are three Mrs. Campbells.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Need a New Hat Pattern

Three more hats for the store. I want to take six down on Friday so need to get cracking. I'll finish another tonight, then after the next two, it's time to come up with another hat pattern. This one no longer amuses me. I just got my check from the store and see that I don't have many hats left - a victim of my own success. I love to see how they work up - wonderful TV knitting. Unfortunately, because I use ten inch DP needles, these hats don't make good travel knitting. That's what socks projects are good for!

Sadly, Amy and I didn't have many people come to our library program. If it weren't for the knitters, we wouldn't have had anyone at all. Actually, the library was pretty empty today. I think graduation is stiff competition. Next time I'm asked to do an event, I'll check the community calendar.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My Weekend

This is what I'm working with. I blogged earlier about George's affinity for the llamas. This VM is their doing. It's because he hangs out with them when they're eating. Their curiosity makes them messy eaters. They take a bite and then in raising their heads up high to check around, they strew hay all over George and each other.
Mim's advice to me was to do a pre-soak of the fleece before washing it to reduce the amount of lanolin and junk going into the septic. I put about two ounces into four net bags and soaked in superhot water in a five-gallon paint bucket. Great suggestion - it came out much nicer after the machine wash. The fleece is a pain to pick through, but it's going to be a nice color for my lap blanket.

I raced out to check on the progress and this is what I found in the garage. Ian and the boys are headed off the collect the mail. I just didn't expect to see them in the garage!

Ian took this picture because I'm plying with three dogs - a three-dog morning. Our dogs are both under the bench behind me and Sammy, the affectionate, needy neighbor's black lab, is under the table in front of me. I'm waiting for Amy. We're giving a program at the library tomorrow, announced in the library Calendar of Events as "From Sheep to Shawl." Now we need to plan it.

We ended up on the front deck all afternoon. Ian made us a nice lunch and after the planning was done, we practiced for the program by spinning and knitting and visiting and watching the birds which kept us songful company.

Charlie would have to have a songbird of his very own.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

The May Guilding Meeting

I picked up my computer Friday morning along with my many errands, but I wasn't able to do anything until after I picked up the kids to babysit. The last thing I did in the evening was check my email and found one from Mim saying, "I'll pick you up in the mornin." I had forgotten about the guild meeting! Even the plastic bag in the fridge of mordanted wool didn't remind me. I'm glad I didn't miss it because it was a great event, well covered by Amy's blog.

I was really happy with the results. The two skeins on the left are cochineal, the darker one being gray overdyed. There are a couple of madder, walnuts, onion skins, one from a bath called "mostly tulips" and one I marked BW with alcohol. I can't remember what BW was however.

These are so pretty I just had to take another picture. I have some indigo crystals from Judith MacKenzie upstairs. For some time I have wanted to make an indigo bath. A couple of these would definitely benefit from blue overdye. What stops me is that I don't have any idea how I can keep a bath at the recommended 110-120 degrees. A crockpot is too hot and a stock tank heater is too cold. I don't think the kitchen stove would work either.

Saturday was Wayne's last guild meeting before moving to Oklahoma and he won't be back for the fair since he starts teaching the week after. In parting, he brought a stock trailer full of fleeces and rovings. Nancy Williamson and I both fell for this one and decided the only logical thing was to buy it and split it. It has a huge range of colors. I'm planning to wash the locks and flick them to keep as much of the color separation as I can.

I'm sure you can see that it's Merino. It was a spotted animal anyway, and he said a copper deficiency produced the stripes. The locks are sound. break free, and have a lovely ping. It smells just as good as it looks - lucky me - lucky us.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Rest of the Trip

We went back to the San Diego airport from Oceanside to drop off our rental car and catch our flight to Oakland. From there we took BART to the Mission District. The stop was at 16th Street and since the kids just live on 17th Street, we thought it would be cool to roll our bags the couple blocks. I was surprised at how dirty the area around the stop was and really surprised to find that it was 80 degrees - in San Francisco! I couldn't survive with my carefully packed winter clothes. We ended up walking about a mile to a shop that Little Sharon recommended where I bought a cotton sun dress. I could go on, but I won't.

Little Sharon had told me about a great yarn shop, so Ian and I put Noah in the stroller and walked to 18th and Sanchez to Imagiknit. The shop was as promised and I was finally able to buy sock yarn for my sister-in-law and her mother. I picked the crazy colors for Rochelle. I figure I have all summer to knit them, but I'm already pleased with how soft the yarn feels. I haven't liked a lot of the computer-dyed sock yarn because it's too harsh on the soles of my feet.

I also bought this baby yarn. I made a sweater for Noah from it last year. It's Elaine by Schaeffer. I thought it was superwash but realize tonight that it's handwash only. Not the smartest pick for a baby sweater. Noah's has held up well though. All of a sudden it seems like I have too many projects to knit. I guess I did all along, but just now seem to be aware of it.
My trip knitting was the socks on the right, made from KnitPicks woolen sock yarn. Sharon was admiring them as I knit. I told her she could have them but did she really want to handwash socks, and she said yes. I'm going to send her both pairs since they're from the same yarn.

We left San Francisco on a normal, foggy gray morning with temps in the mid-60s. It was the only day of the entire trip that I had the appropriate clothing. The kids are happy to live in the City and we were happy to be going home.

I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me at home in the piles of mail, mostly junk. Sylvia had finished the fingerless gloves and sent them along with chocolates. The fit is perfect and I love love love the color. She offered them to me because I had admired them on her blog. She even emailed me for specific measurements so she could make them perfect, and they are. Thanks Sylvia!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Dorothy Was Right~

It's good to be home! A week ago we drove to the airport in this. The forecast was for a high of 68 everywhere we were going. I believed it and packed accordingly. I even at the last minute removed my sandals and tennis shoes to make room for a lined raincoat. Of course, we got Santa Ana conditions the whole time.

I'm at my SIL's in Oceanside in long pants and the only non-winter shirt I took and borrowed hat. The days were spectacular and I had a moment of wondering why we ever left SoCal. I remembered when we got on the freeway to go back to the airport.

I hope you can see by their clothes why I'm whining about being hot. I hate packing for every trip we take because I always goof up, but I've never ever mispacked as badly at this time. The picture is flanked by the groom and bride who drove up to join us for lunch. They left for their honeymoon in New York the following morning.

The reason for the trip - the groom and bride. They're pretty special~

The fog burned off early because of the Santa Ana conditions. This is a morning picture - rather unusual for May.

I love beach sunsets. I miss the ocean but I do love the mountains. It's a trade off. When you subtract the freeway traffic, I'm ahead.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spinning Shetland

This is what George is going to look like as yarn. He and Oliver, our brown sheep, are single coated. The oatmeal (Mickey) and white (Robbie) are both dual coated. I like spinning Shetland, either way.

I made this a number of years ago for Kiernan to snuggle with on the sofa while watching the television. I'd like to make a second one so Allie has one too. So often when they're visiting, we have a fire in the wood stove. It's been warm of late, so Ian has had kindling set to go - we just haven't needed it. After the kids woke up and came downstairs on Saturday morning, Allie was very worried about the wood stove. "Oh, oh! The fire not working," she told me with alarm.

This is how much of our Shetland I've spun up so far, and I'm not sure if I'm even halfway there. I'd like to have it finished in time to enter the lap robe into the Made in Nevada category at the state fair in August. I keep getting sidetracked with stuff like the dye day results.

This is the swatch from the defragged sweater. I had planned on it being my trip knitting, but I am not pleased with the fabric. I sat on the sofa this morning with a stack of Vogue magazines and my swatch, looking for inspiration. Then I realized that what I like is the garter stitch - it makes the color bits really pop. Now I'm reswatching for garter, but clearly it won't be what I take on the trip. Guess I'm stuck with the socks that I have been avoiding.

This is my last blog for about ten days. The doggies go to the kennel in the morning and the computer goes to the shop. We're headed to California - that sounds silly since I drive in California to go to work. We're going to Ian's youngest son's wedding in San Diego, then we'll drive up to Oceanside and spend a couple of days with my SIL at her beach house with our Redlands family contingent. Then we fly to Oakland and take Bart (Oh, I know about the bridge - gleep) to the Mission District where we'll spend a couple of days with our youngest grandson - oh, and his parents. Then we fly home and see what price gas is now. See you next week. It's such a treat to see our California family. I wish I could put the time in So-Mo.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More of Nevada

Yesterday morning was my first time this year that I've had T-shirt weather to walk the dogs. About half of the desert peach blooms were halted by the last snow, but now the bitter brush has begun to bloom. Up close it's clearly a yellow blossom.

From a distance the bushes have an apple green appearance, not yellow at all. It took me a long time to see the colors in the high desert landscape, but there are a remarkable variety of greens. Sage is still my favorite of them all.

I thought this was a sweet display of color. It's pretty unusual for both desert peach and bitter brush to share space like this. One will choke the other out. In this case, the peach is losing.

These are the yellows that I got from natural dyes last year with an alum mordant. I'm planning to put them in indigo. From left to right, they are rabbit brush, cottonwood, lupin and the two on the right are lupin that I mordanted in alum but cooked in a cast iron pot to sadden. I look forward to seeing the different greens I'll get. I haven't found the secret of getting anything but yellow from natural dyes from plants that I harvest here. I have an area in the front yarn that I've prepared for madder roots that both Marilyn and Allison have offered. At least madder won't be yellow.