Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Day in the Life

A week ago the bitterbrush hadn't bloomed.  It always comes after the desert peach, but when I walked the dogs on Tuesday, it was everywhere and it felt like it happened overnight.  The frost I feared did come.  No apples for us this year.
I couldn't resist sharing a picture of our lazy llama, laying there stuffing her face
I'm cutting it really close to getting everything done before the craft fair Wednesday.  This stack of towels has been washed once.  I need to hem them, wash them again, press them on my mangle and attach labels.
I also want to get two scarves woven from this warp, my fluffy granite look.  I need to finish weaving, twist fringe, then wash and press them.
I subbed at Elmcrest Elementary today, an older school and also from our old neighborhood in town. It's a nice school and it goes to show that neighborhoods matter.  The librarian left me a book processing project which involved a lot of standing.  I was pooped when I got home so decided to reknit a sleeve and chill out. I think it will look better after it's been finished - it's the one on the right.  I did two decreases and took it down by over 20 stitches.  I tried it on and had Ian take of picture of me in it because I could see that it's going to work.  The sweater looked good but I did not.

I'm subbing again tomorrow but the project is done and I'll have more class visits, ie., more fun.  I also have playground duty - not fun.  Plus it going to be 51 degrees so I'll have to dress accordingly.  There was a message on my phone asking me to sub for a junior high school on Monday.  There is *no* way I want to sub for those grades just six weeks from the end of the school year. I didn't return the call. The 6th graders I had today reinforced my decision.

Christina and I are planning to go back to Massachusetts in June for John's wedding.  John is my oldest grandson.  My daughter got pregnant with him when she just 15 years old and gave him up for adoption - it's a long story but I blogged about it here.  Actually, that was the post about when we first met him in 2009.  Then last March we went back to MA when his baby girl was born.  Now we're going back for the wedding.  We plan to buy our tickets on Tuesday which is when Southwest releases their specials.  I doubt there will be a special on a Reno to Hartford CT flight but you never know.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Flowers

We are in full bloom a month early.  For us, April showers really do bring May flowers. April flowers bring allergies.
I worry about our fruit trees since normally we'll have frosts right up to Memorial Day.  There's nothing typical about this year - who knows?!!
Maddie has discovered windows.  She's a really clumsy cat and has struggled with Windowsill 101, but she's got it now.  There's something plaintive about a cat in a window.
Kaaren Reid suggested that I lop off the frayed tassel just below the knots on the scarf that Maddie had disfigured.  The knots are secure, so I followed her advice and was really pleased - it's the one on the right.  I sat down this morning and did the same for all the scarves.  It really makes them look much more finished.
These are my two most recent scarves.  The blue warp was one of the first I did and I learned from it that I have to use close to 3 ounces of fiber to get a 7 1/2" scarf, which is what I've come to prefer. It's been waiting in the wings for the back-ordered tencel.  The green one is 8" in the reed and it feels just a little too wide.  It's funny what a difference such a small measurement can make.

I'm doing a craft fair in two weeks, sharing a table with Mim.  I have time to weave two more scarves and finish the towels on my big bertha loom.  I suspect weaving will wind down as the weather warms up.  It's still only about 70 on the warmest of days so far and I'm trying not to fret over what the parched summer will bring.

I started this sweater last summer and finally finished it last month.  I like the yarn and I like how the sweater fits, but I don't like the sleeves.  I tried it on again this morning and am trying to think of a way to make the sleeves less flappy.  I could unravel back to the picked up stitches and just do a few rows of garter.  It will be off the shoulder, probably pretty large armholes and perhaps still flappy.  I have more yarn so could knit them longer but this pattern doesn't lend itself to shaping.  I could just pull back the last couple of rows and then knit in garter, decreasing sharply.  I'm looking for advice. Anybody have some?????

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Springing into Spring, sort of

So this is how the yarn knitted up that I spun from our Shetland fleece, plied with bamboo and then dyed.  The colors are more intense than I'd like - too close in value.  This was an experiment, a starting point.  I'll do it again, but next time I'll shoot for contrast.  But it's not bad for a first try.
The gray teal yarn that I've been waiting for - back ordered since January - finally arrived.  It's a perfect match and it was worth waiting for.
And somewhere in this week I finally made soap.  My notes say that I last made this September 20th, nine days before my life came to a screeching standstill. The soap-bar well is running dry, and after using other soap, I know that I like it too much to retire it.  I'm my best customer.
With nicer weather, we've started working on the yard.  There are less than a dozen plants that grow successfully here so we fill in with non-edible stuff.  We bought this kinetic wind spinner at Costco.  We saw it and there was no question that it was going into our cart.
Ian found this the other day - too cute to pass up.  This bunny can't eat anything because it's made of rocks.  My favorite kind of rabbit.
Yesterday Sandy dropped me off at the gate after we'd shared a trip to town.  As I was opening the gate, I heard Carol's voice - my neighbor just above us.  Hi Carol - what?  Can you call Tom when you get to the house and ask him to come down with the shotgun.  I have a rattlesnake.  We have cell signal at the gate so I called him from there.

Their puppy had flushed out this rattler so Carol threw her into the truck, grabbed the only tool she had and pinned the snake to the ground.  I have no idea how long she'd been there and teased her - how much longer would you have stayed?  Oh, a while.  Tom is a marksman and popped the head off in one shot, and it's Tom who popped the head off our rattler last summer.  It's not that we hate rattlers.  We worry for our dogs. Rattlesnakes actually are good neighbors but not with dogs.

I'm subbing for the next couple of days at the Verdi Elementary School and very much looking forward to it.  It's the school furthest from our home but everything is far from here.  The sub year is almost over - another month.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Happy April!

It's finally starting to feel like spring here. I liked the apple green Tencel so much that I decided to blend up some fiber to go with it.  I think these are great spring colors.
And I love the yarn it made.  It's the last fiber I have prepared to spin.  I'm not sure what to spin next.
I spun up a singles from one of our Shetland wethers, then plied it with 16/2 straw-colored bamboo yarn.  I mixed up three colors from Gaywool dyes and poured over the yarn that I had looped in a lasagna dish.  I "baked" it in the oven at 325 an hour.  As expected, the bamboo didn't take up any color.
I'm trying to create a knitting yarn with half the effort.  I know, I know.  Garbage in, garbage out. Anyway, I'm swatching it right now, trying three different needles sizes.  I don't want to spin any more of the wool until I have a plan, so for the moment, I'm spinningless.
I got the purple/green yarn warped and found that I had three weft choices.  I was stumped because I liked them all, so I called my color consultant to come upstairs and give me a second eye. Ian has really great color sense and said - green!
And he was right.  The green lets the warp shine through.
These are my last two scarves.  The crazy colors is on the left, the green and purple on the right.  I absolutely love it.  I always finish a scarf and think *this* one is my absolutely most favorite, but I do think this one is.
And I may just get to keep it.  I wet finished it last Wednesday and hung it on the bannister to dry. While I was at my guild meeting, Maddie pulled it down and chewed off one of the fringe ends.  I know it's secure and I doubt it will show, but I don't see how I can sell it.  I guess the answer  is to blend up some more fiber and do it again.
And speaking of the guild meeting, our program was an introduction to bow loom weaving.  You can read more about it on the guild blog here.  I have never been taken by any of the ethnic techniques so was surprised when I fell in love with bow loom weaving.  It's karmic, like knitting.  Thursday afternoon was one of those rare days with enough sun and no wind that I sat out on the deck to work on my band.
This is my completed project.  The supplies are very simple but I think next time instead of using this 4' dowel, I'll see if I can find a willow switch.  This was an enormously satisfying project.
I made mine into a headband, though I won't be able to wear it for a few days.  I'm doing a double whammy on Fridays for a while.  I start with an hour of Astanga yoga and then drive five minutes to The Art of Massage for deep tissue massage.  My scalp will be very sore for a bit, just about when it's time for the next massage. I think this is an example of "no pain, no gain," and I'm all about gain.    

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Books, Books, Books

I didn't think I had read many books last month but when I look at my GoodReads list, I see it's time to post about books, books, books.

Aging with Grace: What the nun study teachers us about leading longer healthier, and more meaningful lives by David Snowdon - This was actually a second read for me.  I bought my original copy in an airport bookstore and subsequently gave it away.  I think I paid as much for it in Kindle but it's still just as good and still worth the price.  Aging?  If you're reading this, you are.  Read this.

The good luck of right now, by Matthew Quick - I've never read anything like this so it's hard to compare.   Bartholomew, the protagonist is a dim-witted man trying to live on after his mother and caregiver passes away.  A close friend of his mother's is his priest who is devastated by this death. Oddly delightful.

Glitter and Glue, by Kelly Corrigan - This was one of those fast-grabs from the Costco book aisle.  I trust them to decide what's hot and always look to be seduced by their choices.  This an autobiographical recounting of a six-month period as a nanny in Australia, rated 4.5 stars on Amazon.

The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier - This book showed up one day as one of those Kindle offers.  Most of the time I don't know who the authors are and I'm not interested, but I had read all of Pelletier's books years ago - and then she disappeared.  I downloaded this one with trepidation.  No need.  She's on top of her game.  May she live a long and wordy life.  Go Cathie, go!

Wait 'til next year by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  This was a departure from what I've come to expect from this author.  It seemed to be a quiet and boring story of her childhood, but it ended up being a story of time and place.  Yet again, she delivers

Gosh, I read more than I realized and some of it was reading for a second time, but if you haven't read Barbara Kingsolvers duo, Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven, I really enjoyed them again.  Another second time around that I enjoyed this month was Buddha in the Attic by Julie Atsuka.  It's been a cold and gray month.  I didn't realize that I had read so much.  Two more that I can recommend

Brain on Fire: my month of madness by Susannah Cahalan - I'm a huge fan of Oliver Sachs so when I stumbled across this book at Costco, it went right into my shopping cart.  I think I read it in two days.
The Monuments Men:  Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert M. Edsel - This read like fiction.  The last hundred pages I was flipping like mad.  I know the movie is going to be good if it covers jut an nth of the book.