Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some New Things

My new camera came today! I have used Nikon for the past 10 years, and in fact, shot this is picture with a Nikon. My original SLR was a Canon and so I didn't let brand loyalty to Nikon influence my decision. I trust Consumer Reports and they rated the Canon SD 940 IS as their second choice, costing over $100 less than their first choice.
I paid over $300 for my Nikon Coolpix about 3 1/2 years ago. It was half the size of our previous Coolpix and shot 8 megapixel pictures with a zoom lens of sorts. It shoots great video but the shutter speed - well, it doesn't have any. Look at the size difference. It's half the size and cost half as much. I chose it for it's video quality and fast shutter speed and plan to make great use of both when we're in New York.
About this time every year, Dale my potter friend and now also wood-
turner friend, orders a dozen bars of soap from me. I had to be in town today anyway so I told him I'd drop the soap off at his studio on my way home. He was showing me the bowls he's been turning, also his first stab at a drop spindle. I was about to leave and he said, wait - I want to show you something. By then we had been joined by another person - Dale loves an audience.

He had boxes full of implements that he had to explain to me, which apparently are attractive to the SCA crowd. When he opened the box of rolling pins, I felt my resolve weakening. Last year I had traded him my soap for a set of bowls - I got a great deal. At the bottom on the box, he had this little tortilla pin with no handles and it had my name written all over it. I only traded for some of my soap, still a great deal.
I've finished the first of the bags I'll take to the craft fair in November. They are so ugly until they're felted, that it's hard to know what the finished bag will look like.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Unexpected

Coming home from church yesterday morning, I noted an adult and child on the bank above the road, riding in hunt clothes so I began to slow down. If a hunt is in progress, there are going to be dogs, and coming around the corner, I was right. This is Angela, in the red and she's the hunt master today.
The hounds blend in so well with the rocks that it's hard to see that there are about 100 of the Red Rock Hounds on this ride. Hunt season doesn't formally open until October 17th, but nevertheless, there were about 30 riders on this event. A surprising number of children participate and are excellent equestrians, all riding English.
When I jumped out of the car for pictures, Angela called to me to go home and get Ian and come for lunch after the ride at the club house. We don't ride but we do like to visit with our friends. This is Wendy. She was the whip today and her husband Ron drove the quad with emergency items, bottled water and an available seat in the event of a dumped rider. A lady did have to occupy that empty seat, muddy but uninjured. Her horse took himself back to the ranch.

And here we have a modern day ranch hand - more billed caps are worn on this ranch than cowboy hats. Harry is a total ham and this is his chosen pose when I asked for his picture. He'll show up in pictures again when we cut Christmas trees the day after Thanksgiving.
I asked Ian to stand next to Baron so I could get some size perspec-
tive. He is the biggest horse I have ever seen, and Harry says he is also their more most gentle horse. He ends up with beginning riders because he's so good with them. Looks can be deceiving. His head is bigger than Buster!
Speaking of big, how about that enormous horse trailer and huge cottonwoods,
or this large horse hauler?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Retirement, i.e., I Don't Have Time to Work

My DIL Missy, DD Chris and I visited Goodwill with the four grandkids during our visit to Bend in June. We came back to the house with this puzzle which was an absolute bear to work. DS Matty and his girlfriend Julia got sucked into the madness. In the end there were 35 pieces missing! We congratulated ourselves that we finished it at all. DS Josh thought we were all bonkers and refused to get caught up.
A couple weeks before the gathering Matty texted me that he and Julia were at Barnes and Nobles and had purchased a 1,000 piece wooden puzzle. He said he couldn't help himself. I quipped - are you sure all the pieces are there? Given the Bend puzzle, we both thought that was funny. This new puzzle was nearly impossible and even though nearly everyone worked on it over the weekend, it was slightly over half finished when everyone left. Amy sat down and corrected several sections before pulling out with her trailer. She said it was all she could do or she would never leave. I can't rebox an unfinished puzzle! No one in my family would understand and, that aside, I'm not sure I could do it anyway. I pressed on until yesterday when I attacked the final 40 or so pieces. I ended up with four holes and three extra pieces that will not fit the holes. The picture looks right, however Charlie has been batting pieces around the dining room. So anti-climatic.
On the other hand, I finished my "Walk for the Cure" scarf and got it in the mail. Of the three that I did, this one is my favorite. The phone rang this evening, which is unusual. Our phone is long distance from Reno so we almost always conclude that if the phone is ringing, it's a solicitor. It was Judi! She had received the scarf and absolutely loved it. I knew she's not a pink person so tried to amp up the pink while keeping true to the meaning.
I've been experimenting with dying, as an experienced dyer friend of mine calls the technique, laying it in. That means I have the dye pot heated already and I lay in my skein and don't disturb it. I am in love with the water-color wash effect. This was my first trial and I so wish I hadn't shot this in sun so you could see more clearly what I mean, and of course, I can't take another picture. I did use this technique it on the all skeins I dyed for my felted bags. Now I'm daring myself to try this technique for an entire garment!
For now I need something to knit. I dug through a bin of already spun yarn and pulled this out. I bought the fiber at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival quite a few years ago from a vendor called Balls of Fiber. The color pathway had something to with deserts - sunrise, sunset? Either one captures these colors. I calculated that I have close to 1,100 yards.
I've chosen this vest pattern from the Catwalk Two pattern book. The bodice is actually in lace but I know I don't have enough yardage for that, so will use plain stockinette. I'm counting on the handspun yarn to be the visual interest. I'll be cutting it really close on yardage, like I've never done that before!

We had a sleepless night last night. I saw Buster come to the door late in the afternoon, and when he put his foot to scratch the door, I saw that he had a dangling broken claw and called to Ian. So much drama and blood, but we ended up with the other dogs outdoors while we held Buster to clip the dangling digit. We were still cleaning up blood today. He slept on our bed, bleeding on the bedding which I've since washed , and Ian had to get up a couple times during the night to give him aspirin. No one in our bed slept well!
It's going to be a while before he can go on morning walks with me, so today I just took Sammie, and I'm so relieved that she was the only dog with me. We started late, about 9-ish. We hadn't gone far when a female coyote crossed the road right in front of us. I worked hard to call Sammie back, and no soon than I had her back then the male, and might I add it was the largest coyote I've seen, crossed the road following his mate. I thought I'd never get Sammie to come back and was completely shaken afterward. They stood on the hill above and watched us. I wasn't nervous for me. I know coyotes are masters at duping dogs and I knew we were going to be coming back the same way. I was happy, actually overjoyed, to see a couple of horse riders ambling along, and then turn up our road, as we returned. Yippee ka-yay!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Nice Day

It was another nice day today so I got the last two fleeces skirted and will ship them off to Shari next week. She emailed me say that the fleeces I've already sent will be ready in December. This is my second fleece today and it reminds me what a joy it is to skirt an entire blanket. I had thought that when I was skirting the fleece that Kathy LeFevre sent me. It makes a huge difference.

We've been using an alpaca shearer the past two years, and while I love him to pieces, the fleece comes off in pieces. I'm going to call the cooperative extension and see if they know of any sheep shearers in our area.
I've finished all my deadline knitting and now I can knit for little ol' me. I'm bursting with ideas. I decided to evaluate the state of already spun yarns and projects in progress. I bought this fiber when were at Maryland Sheep and Wool, however many years ago that was, and I've lost track of the pattern. It's merino and when I realized the moths had gotten into it, I stuffed it into a bin with copious amounts of lavender. It is now pulled out, rewashed and measured. I have a little over 1,000 yards, enough for a vest.

That was several years ago and the moth damage appears to have been arrested. I thought I took pictures of the other fiber that I recovered and now have on needles. I guess I didn't. But I did finish and am blocking my Walk for the Cure scarf for my stage-4 breast cancer survivor friend. Yeah, I thought I took a picture of it too. What did I take pictures of?

I took pictures of this unexpected friendship. How do we know when Sammie is standing at the French doors and wants to come back inside? We hear Charlie's tiny little mewl which means his dog wants in. He watches for her and he never lets her down. Sammie weights 85 pounds, Charlie weighs 7 pounds. I'm always nervous when they play, afraid the Sammie won't know her strength and do a Frankenstein, but Charlie does have claws. Aren't they the colors of Halloween??!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Colors of September from the High Desert

Every month Sue asks us to post the colors of the month and then she links are responses on her blog. I always look forward to this because the months look so different in our different locales. Our butterfly bush has just bloomed. Our summer didn't start until July so everything has been on a different schedule.
Our tomatoes are still more green than red, so that I'm still buying tomatoes from the farmers market. I'd love to eat our own, but the market ends next week and with it my opportunity to eat vine ripened tomatoes. I am a tomato addict!

There's not much left in bloom as morning temps are approxi-
mating the freezing level lately. I though it ironic to catch the still blooming Russian Sage along with Ian's carry-all of firewood. That's September.
Another tell-tale of this month is rabbit guard, which we've begun to put on the rabbit's favorite plants - in this case, the plum on the bank. They don't eat the sumac on either side, and I'm close to throwing in the towel and letting them eat the plum and be done with it.
The trees have already begun to turn. Last year winter weather started in October and lasted into June. I'm hoping we'll have a nice long autumn this year, thought the wind is howling tonight. It's my favorite season of the year - also October is my birth month. That's my birthday wish.

September is a golden month, so much is turning gold. Rabbit-
brush has now turned gold - a marvelous dye plant! It's also an allergen for many people. I've dyed with it twice and gotten brilliant yellows, using double the weight of dye stuff to wool and an alum mordant.

More gold - our wonderful potatoes - the russet on the top is a survivor from a plant of three years ago! When you cut through a fresh potato, it actually snaps, and the Yukon Golds on the inside are, well they're, you know.

More gold - himself. Sir Charles El Rey.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Knitting Vegetables

I was working with a very limited color palette. For you in urban areas, it probably is hard to understand, but from the time I started this project until now, I wasn't able to get back to my LYS for additional colors. When either Ian or I have an appointment in the town, we start a list by the phone of errands that need to be run. Add to that the two-hour drive time.
These gems are surpris-
ingly seductive. Make this one - ooh, now try this. I added the garlic and another carrot yesterday. Today I finished the garlic, made the pathetic potato out of my head because I couldn't find a pattern and made another ear of corn - needed more yellow in the palette. My yarns should all be worsted weight but aren't. I'm going to add more colors so I can knit some of the animals from Amigurumi Knits . The patterns and instruction are well written and while you have to spend some time on a couple new stitches, the pictures and narrative are more than adequate. I am a better knitter for having made that eggplant - serious.
I'm so glad I gave up on the original bag. I think this one is so much better for a two-year old. She's got all her veggies right here in her market bag. If I come across cute patterns, I can always add to the collection later. I'm telling you, it's hard to stop. It's a good thing I have a deadline or I'd probably still be knitting on these.

I like it that the bag stands on its own, without spilling the contents. It's all packed up, in the car and ready for the post office.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Starting Over

In between Knit Group and Book Group, both which coinci-
dentally met at Walden's Coffee-
house today, Melissa and I ran over to the nearby farmers market. These are from Lattin Farms, one of the historic farms dating back to the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1901. The Paiutes have contested their water claims which divert Truckee River water from its natural end, Pyramid Lake - modern Indian Wars.

These beauties are California grown and yes, I paid $3 for one artichoke. They are having their own water wars and I think water is going to be the equivalent to oil out here in the thirsty West. Read Cadillac Desert by Marc Reiser - important book.
You've heard me say this before, but I grew up on an organic farm, but I get nearly weepy eyed at displays like this. Thanks Dad for giving me this stuff every day when I was a kid!

Meanwhile, Allison told me a long time ago that Darla has impeccable taste. If I'm on the fence about a knitting project, ask Darla and she'd tell me. I knitted on my ugly bag all during Knit Group. We were breaking up to leave when I asked Darla if the bag was as ugly as I thought it was, and she said yes. Penny held it and Darla and I ripped out the two strands and wound them into balls. It is no more.

I bought some of these tomatoes too and I meant to share after I got home, but um, I only have one beefstake left - sorry Ian. It was an accident.
Back at the coffee-
house and before book group, Melissa and I meet Bear who gives high-5s, all 130 pounds of him. She encourages dogs and almost every outside table has a dog in tow. This used to be the best coffeehouse in town and though Melissa has only owned it since March, she is bringing it back and people are responding. She told me that this is her retirement, and I told her that she and I have different ideas about retirement!
When I got home, I pulled two cones of cotton from my stash, sat down on the front porch and began to knit in earnest. Thanks Darla for confirming what I already knew. Handles come tomorrow.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Knitting Deadlines

I finished winding my skeins into balls this morning and this basket is now my felted bags kit. I'm itching to dive in and get started but I have a very serious deadline.

My grand-
niece's birthday is just ten days away and the present has to shipped to North Carolina. I've been knitting this collection of vegetables and need to knit more to finish the collection, but first I need to get the bag done to know how much it will hold.
I'm having problems loving the bag as it's working up in this linen. The "recipe" called for two strands of 4-ply linen to be held together, which probably makes sense for an adult market bag. I've reduced the size for a two-year old. I wish I would have used a single strand because this is starting to look like an old lady's purse. This morning I seriously thought about pulling it out and starting over with a single strand, but then I wouldn't have time for more vegetables, and really, it's about the vegetables.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Craft Fair Prep

I took my wheel out to the front porch for my morning spinning. It was downright chilly there for a while. I want to finish up the flicked dyed locks, miserable project. I'm not doing this again - spinning should be fun.

Every time I do this I swear that I'll never do it again. I cannot tell you how many times I've sworn that I'd never do this again. These are the last of my locks - and I am NEVER going to do this again, although they do make an interesting skein~
I'm going to use the finished yarn for felted bags at the craft fair in November. I've never done a craft fair before! The locks are miserably felted but the colors are interesting and I'm sure the finished yarn will lend itself well to a bag. Honest. I'm not dying locks again - I always felt them and then they are hateable.

I dyed more skeins today to go with my miserable locks skein. I'm guessing that I have about three felted-bags worth of yarn at this point. I was thinking about the craft fair while I walked the dogs. Like Winnie-the-Pooh, I think think think. It would be really cool to take my wheel to the booth, and if no one loves my stuff, you know they're going to ask about spinning.
We are having an Indian summer and enjoying every minute of it. Our little mini-oasis is still green, inviting and filled with songbirds. Ian grilled turkey burgers and we ate them on the porch, appreciating that last year it had already turned cold at this point.