Monday, January 31, 2011

Nothing to Knit!

Yesterday morning we got an inch of snow.

This morning and sunshine. Welcome to a normal weather pattern in the high desert Sierra rain shadow. This is way we like our precipitation delivered. It sits where it falls and seeps into the ground with no run-off. It's much easier to live with than rain.
So the vest is completed and blocked, but I need to reblock is before I show it off. The bolero is also finished and assembled but the bands are knitted separately and then sewn on. Which means I need another knitting project. This is the next sweater on my list, but when I went to cast on the other night something was wrong. I don't know what I was thinking when I knitted the swatch for this sweater, but it couldn't have been this sweater.
I dug through patterns for quite a while yesterday and finally decided that this was the candidate. It looks like something knitted with handspun. I've seen the other style on a store hanger. The only hang-up is that I don't have the contrast yarn spun yet.
I think this light gray merino will look nice with the white. It's a 19 micron hogget fleece and what's in that bag is all that I have left but I'm sure it's enough to provide the yarn I need.
But the problem remains. I have nothing to knit! I have this cone of Bartlet sport-weight yarn that I had purchased about 20 years ago when Diane Soucy worked in the wool room at the Truckee Variety Store. I spent a lot of time looking on Ravelry and chose this pattern which I got on needles last night.

It's pretty easy going so far. I think the lace will be more fun, but it is also fun to see so much done in such a short time. I've decided to use the three buttons I cut off off a Goodwill vest. The sweater was beyond help so I bought it for the buttons. If I'm stash busting, it just makes sense to the use these buttons. Hope they will work!

Friday, January 28, 2011

This Just In

When Ian came home from town yesterday, he found this box waiting at the gate. My fleeces are back from Morro Fleeceworks! I'm pretty certain this is last time I'm going to have any of our fleeces processed - it's just way too expensive.
These bags are over 17 pounds of roving. I think that will keep me supplied for the rest of my life. I'm thinking that this year when we shear, I'll just offer to fleeces to anyone who wants to process it themselves.
It's disap-
pointing that all three of our wethers have become almost the same color. Left to right: Mickey Mouth, Robbie the Ram and Oliver Twist. The black is Sven, a gift last year from Kathy LeFevre in Flagstaff. They all are lovely, soft and silky. I LOVE to spin Shetland.

And of course they're not going to fit back in the box. Charlie gave up trying to figure out a way to get into the box, so he's settled for just being close to the box.
I wanted more than anything to spin up a few samples, but this is where I've spent the last couple of days. After I got home Wednesday, a cold virus moved in on me like a swat team and has completely disabled me. It's kinda scary that a "common cold" can do that.

This is the last week for my old sofa. You can see how problematic not having an arm is. The stuff that doesn't fall off the end, falls into the cracks between the cushions. So I've mostly read and slept. I did take Theresa's suggestion and knitted my vest button bands in seed stitch - that was the extent of knitting.

I picked up my hold for David Baldacci's latest book Hell's Corner on Wednesday and read half that night and the rest yesterday. It was the perfect mindless read. I've also finished You Had me at Woof by Julie Klam, nonfiction about living in Manhattan with dogs, getting involved in Boston Terrier rescue, and how becoming a responsible dog owner helped her become a responsible adult. Loved it!

I wanted to share this from the book: “A very wise dog woman once told me that dogs find their owners, not the other way around. They pick you and they choose to stay with you. In that way, they are also giving you the end of their life. The deeper the bond, the harder it is to say good bye. I know I’d rather have any amount of time with a dog I love and suffer the mourning than not have the time at all.”
It was a lovely day, sunny and 57 degrees. My doctor's advice for a virus is to get lots of rest, hydrate yourself well, get warm and stay warm, even if that means soaking in a hot bath. I swaddled myself and sat on the deck all afternoon. At times I was too warm, but I stuck it out.

I'm reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie on my Kindle for book group in another week. I'm surprised at how unintimidating a large and complicated book like this is, when I'm just pressing the turn page button. It's easy to get lost in the story. I'm not aware of how much is left and all of a sudden a quarter of the book is read. I can highlight selections I'll want to reference in the meeting as well as make notes - no more sticky yellow notes all over the book.

Meanwhile, the weather has just started to turn and the wind is picking up - phew. Indian Summer in January is nice but it's also very scary and wrong.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fiber Play Day

I wound the warp today, in between a couple loads of laundry and lunch break, and since I had it fresh in my mind, decided to go ahead and start dressing the loom. I've had problems warping back-to-front on every warp, getting at least one bout twisted, which torques the stripes and requires me to abandon the cross - ugh.

I talked about it with Lisa Minter at our guild Christmas party. My guild friends are aware of my cross struggles and it pained Lisa that they still continue. I just would like to be competent in which ever direction I choose to warp and frustrated that I've been unable to find the key to this dilemma. Lisa pondered for at least a half hour and finally said - try this. Tie the top of your cross in one color and the bottom in another. I chose to tie the top of the cross in yellow and that's what you see here on the lease sticks -my yellow ties. A quarter of the warp in in this cross and I had it threaded in 30 minutes without a hitch. The solution never appeared in print because I appear to be the only weirdo, but I'm on it now and it feels great.
I'm a little disap-
pointed that colors aren't as bright as I had anticipated when they're juxtaposed. The designer's original colors were much better, but I didn't want to repeat the blanket with her colors since both babies are in the same family. I was choosing from Internet swatches and she owns the shop. I sure hope that the other crosses are as trouble free since that would mean I'd be able to sley tomorrow. I'm so impatient!
I finally finished knitting my vest as Ian and I watched the Nevada State of the State address tonight. I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't to hear the governor spend half the address stripping finances from an education system that is already dead last in the nation. When he announced his new cabinet level panel comprised of business leaders I thought I would faint. He wants to further reduce the wages of state employees and proposed elimination of the university faculty tenure track. I could go on but I won't - I'm too depressed. Ian reminds me that all this has to be approved by the legislature.
So I'm back to what to do about the trim on this vest. I was very critical of the designer's use of a garter stitch band. It just didn't appear compatible with the design and I have all along smugly thought that I'd either do I-cord or a couple rows of crochet. However, having finished the vest without giving any thought to why the designer chose that wide garter stitch band, I'm afraid I know why she did it. The front edge needed something in addition to stockinette, just like in scarves. Were I to knit this again, I'd add either garter or the six stitches of the pattern on the front edge to prevent the rolling. Then I could add a minimal edge. At least an inch of the vest is drying in a little sausage roll along the band edge. I'll be knitting a garter-stitch band after all.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Big Huge Day

We waited for the saleslady who helped me last Wednesday and in the end she talked us out of the pricey Lane set. She just didn't think we would be happy with it since it was for a more formal setting. In the end we bought this three-piece set for less than half the price of the other one. It's made in Mississippi and the cushions have springs in them instead of just blocks of foam. I was overwhelmed that she thought about our satisfaction over her own commission. We were right in the middle of ordering the fabric for the other set and this change-up came from out of the blue. The fabric weave reminds me of Herculon but she explained that it has a high content of polyester which will make it easier to clean and easier to live with, given our vigorous pets.

The ad said that the set was originally priced at $2577 but with the sale and discounts, we spent just over $900 and that included tax, delivery, a five-year insurance against stains, which if we don't need to use it will be refunded to us at the end of five years. That was hard to argue against. It's rather bland but I supposed I could weave some pillows - or something. Delivery is in two weeks. Alexia wants to spend the weekend and "help" us arrange the pieces. In the photo Ian is uploading a photo of the furniture to Facebook and Lexi says she was testing her favorite piece. Her parents are adopting our old sectional which still has plenty of miles to go.

We went to lunch afterward at Nan and Kabob where Alexia noticed that they had posted pictures of the Chef Maurice that people had drawn on their placemats. She worked all through lunch to draw him and was rewarded by his visit to our table and his gift of a bowl of saffron ice cream. I love my life.

When Ian took the dogs to pick up the mail this morning he also collected my package from Yarn Barn of Kansas. After all my complaining about them selling hand-wash yarn for a baby blanket, I washed and dried the last blanket in a mild cycle and it came out great. I was going to order Knit Picks superwash but would have needed more skeins and realized that in this case, I was costwise better off just going back to the Brown Sheep. I've always like their yarns. I won't know until I start to weave, but I think I picked really cool colors.
This is the pattern, if you didn't see in an earlier post. I hope to start winding the warp tomorrow. It needs to go on the same loom as the rag rug, and since I'm still cutting and sewing strips, the loom is open.

I just finished The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. I started this series in October when we were in New York and bought the first three books, not because it was a mystery series, but because I saw her advertised in The New Yorker. The mystery part was inane but that was okay since I'm not a fan of mysteries. I really grew to care about her characters and what a shock this book was - carefully plotted and full of surprises, a total page turner - and yet with all the characters that I had become fond of. You don't need to read earlier books to enjoy this one. Now I need to put the sequel on hold at the library! (Don't tell Amy. She still believes I don't read mysteries.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Whadda job!

My SIL Rochelle sent me these greeting cards - does she know me or what? Please note the slumbering orange tabby. Ian and I have been Wii bowling best two out of three after dinner but last night I bested him with an impressive 235. Tonight he asked me if I'd like to watch a movie. Coincidence?
When I bought this computer, I also purchased a USB cable that was specifically designated to transfer data from an XP to a Vista computer. All the photos arrived but without any indexing. I have been unable to locate and move them, and only on occasion have I bumped into them. Lorrie, my computer nerd friend even tried to help me at Christmas. I bumped into them yesterday and decided that I needed to set everything aside and get my photos tagged and into folders. Between yesterday and today, I've spent close to 12 hours - it's worse than having a job. Somewhere mid-morning I located the bulk of the nearly 5,000 photos lumped into a folder that said 9/13/2009. It makes no sense, but tonight the contents of that folder are in identifiable folders and the original folder is no more. Those were all the photos I took in 2006 and 2007 - precious. It was overwhelming. So far I've gained 14 GB of disc space and it will probably be over 20 by the time I'm done.
The inception of this project was my morning walks. Noting the magnificent subtle colors of our landscape, I started thinking that it would be cool if I could print up some photos, order some UKI cotton and then weave dishtowels of the Nevada landscape. I knew that I had captured some pretty dramatic colors, but I also knew that I couldn't find them.
I'm so excited to finally locate my photos. I had them in my head but that wasn't helping me pick out yarn colors - and yeah, that's Eleanor tucked in there at the bend. She's my best friend car ever; I'm afraid to wash her and bring on a storm. She's so dirty, you'd think I don't like her but you would be wrong.
This is some of the red rocks of Red Rock Valley. I'm thinking about printing photos of my color inspiration and providing a photo with each towel that the photo inspired. I have two more years of photos that need to be sorted and put in folders. I'd like to get the whole organization thing completed, and then I'll weave. I'm half way there!

Meanwhile, my question for you - if you weave dishtowels, what yarn do you prefer? I've been using 8/2 cotton but my friend Jo likes 5/2 and I know others favor 10/2. I have no idea how they are different and why I should use one over the other. Obi Wan?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spending Money

I picked up my holds from the library yesterday on my way home from town and when I got here, found that my Kindle was awaiting me at the gate. I plugged it in and read the introductory information but I didn't purchase anything - I was tired and couldn't think of anything I wanted to buy.
This book was the tipping point in my decision as to whether or not purchase a Kindle. I really wanted to keep saving my allowance for an iPad, but Charlie likes to sleep in my lap when I read which means I have to hold the book up over him. This 500-page book weighed almost two pounds so after reading for a short time, my thumbs would go numb and then after a while, my wrists would start to tingle. I have loved Theroux's books and I think I'd like to try one on the Kindle to see if the maps are accessible from the text.

I went down to Sandy's today to have a little tutorial on how to use the functions. Why invent the wheel? I ended up coming home with a couple of the books she's purchased. I've only bought one book for far - Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie. I read the first chapter this afternoon on the deck - 46 degrees is okay in late afternoon sun with no wind. I was anxious to see if I could make the notes I would make in a regular book club book, which in the past I've done with yellow sticky notes. I like the note function but won't know if it works for book club until I'm there.
Ian is consulting for a union during the legislative session so I'm stepping up my cooking duties. Tonight was broiled salmon, a small salad and potatoes from the garden. I was sick to see that about a third are rotting due to the abnormal moisture. The other two thirds were delicious! Next year will be different - no two years are alike. Our new neighbors from Ohio are trying to figure out what's a typical weather pattern. Good luck.

When we separated the sectional, this piece, the sofa bed, ended up without an arm as a stand-alone sofa. It's not dire but it is obnoxious that the cushions continue to slide off the end. The set is ten-years old and the other piece has begun to sag. We've decided that we love all the space we've gained without a sectional, so the question is - what's next? I've read a ton on upholstered furniture construction and fabrics. Microfiber is out. Charlie is the hang-up to the ideal solution - leather. We can't declaw him when he lives with three vigorous dogs. Pets!
I spent quite a bit of time in town yesterday doing ground work. I've looked at furniture for weeks but the recommendations always come back to - you have to sit on the pieces. I had lunch with a friend and popped in afterwards to the Penney's home store. It's where we bought our last set, and with SIL Mike's employee discount, I knew I couldn't leave that store out. They're having a 50% sale on Sunday and his discount would be on top of that. This is the line from Lane that I'm interested in but not the color.
This is the palette I would want to order from. This is a discon-
tinued line - I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, we get to spend time with Christina and Alexia and go to lunch afterward. It's all about spending money, so if the only money we spend is on lunch, it will still be a pleasant endeavor. I will just continue to shove the cushions back on the sofa and try not to fall off the end.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Almost Me

This morning I took the dogs for the first walk this year and the first walk in over two months. I haven't quite completed two weeks on Synthroid and already I feel like I'm back in my own skin. The dogs and I were thrilled even though it was pretty chilly.
How cold was it? That's ice on the mud puddle and that's a good thing. As long as we walk while it's below freezing, we're not walking in mud - we're walking on frozen mud. I took a couple more color reference shots.

I got to thinking that Buster is a pretty good color reference shot.
I love the colors in the Juniper tree - the blue, greens and gray.
I took the Week 12 shot after we finished our walk. The sun was still a little low but I forgot to come back and take another shot. As you can see, we are having an Indian summer, or something.
I'm so excited. I finally feel like tackling a project that doesn't involve sitting on the sofa and that project is a rag rug. I bought 30 pounds of fabric last summer, washed and ironed it and then nothing. You have no idea how big this day has been for me.
When I went to Mill-End Fabrics I asked them to show me their cheapest cottons - these were a dollar a yard. The colors are obnoxious together and I'm so curious to see if it matters when they are woven together. I just bought lights and darks.
This is my first strip, which I weighed at 2.5 ounces. I figure I have at least another 25 of these to sew together. I'm planning to load them right onto the shuttles that are piled on the table. After Laura's mother passed away, she gave me her Mary Black weaving book and all her rag rug shuttles. Jean, I hope I make you proud.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Jr Day

I'm trying to figure out how to weave with these yarns. The three on the left are handspun silk and the scarf on the right, which is now frogged and in two balls, is from the Rambouillet alpaca. I have eight balls of the mohair that I bought at a guild silent auction for $2.00. I bought it realizing that I might be able to tie it in. I don't have yardages yet and really don't know if I can achieve an attractive fabric from these odd balls, but I'm thinking about it.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day today with a high of 60 degrees. I was cutting rag rug strips this morning and when I saw the warm forecast was for just this day, I ate lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon on the deck. I pulled the scarf apart outside since the alpaca is hairy and was a little messy. It was a perfect day for reading and I probably should have used sunscreen.
I love these colors together - the green, terracotta and blue.

It felt like a holiday which seems odd since I don't have a job!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January Half

I finally finished spinning up the Rambou-
illet alpaca blend for my big squishy cardigan. I need to finish a couple of things before I start on it, so I got back to work on the Jackelope, though so far there's nothing intelligible to show - just pink knitted origami.
This is the next fiber to go on my wheel. I'm not exactly leaping into color, am I. It's Blue-face Leicester, which is always a pleasure to spin. I'm continuing to have problems with my Lendrum, or I will soon. My old wire guides are nearly worn through, and the replacement guides I bought are too big and stop the bobbin from completing a revolution. These are the replacement replacements. The first ones were even bigger. I don't have a back-up plan.
The colors are quiet but inter-
esting. I think it's just about time to weave with some handspun - still nothing on any of my looms. I notice a little energy seeping back into my marrow, this second week of Synthoid. I've started cutting strips for a rag rug, though it's a long-term process.
I've finished my scarf. The Tosh super-
wash merino is super soft, and the subtle color variations please me very much. The Kitchener stitch was painful but by the end, I had finally gotten the hang of it, though you wouldn't know it by looking at my work. There's a lot of Kitchener in the Jackalope too. This pattern is from Ravelry. It was knitted in cotton and was called a summer scarf, which I don't understand. Were I to do it again, I think I'd eliminate one pattern repeat to gain a little more length.

I hope to finish two more scarves this winter. I only have a couple, since I gave most away, and one that I did keep, I'm ripping out to use as weft in a weaving project - more on that later.
Our Tumbleweed Book Club met today and for the first time in a long time, everyone was present. Sandy got us all "on film" using the time-delay on her new camera. This is the third try, which explains a lot of the expressions - lots of laughs. Enjoying these ladies is just one of the many perqs of retirement. BTW, I'm reading Ape House by Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants. Man, can this woman write. Oh, and BTW, I ordered a Kindle.