Thursday, December 30, 2004

A time for spinning

***Edited to add - for those of you asking about the Clover needles, I got mine at my LYS. However, here are a few places where you can find them online:
Purl Soho
Marr Haven Wool Farm

I've ignored my poor Golding girl, Brighid, for nearly three weeks. I wondered if my spinning abilities were a fluke, if I really couldn't spin but just got lucky when I first picked her up. Well, a chair positioned in the warmth of the sun, Thing 2 as my fiber assistant and a few stolen moments (stolen from working) later and I was spinning lace weight silk mohair as I had before. If you're even thinking about spinning, get a Golding. They spin FOREVER and are just beautiful tools. Anyhoo, I spun for over an hour last night and still have a ton of fiber to spin up. I'm going to have enough yarn to knit something small with though I'm unsure of what just yet. Spinning is definitely in my blood. I'm am SO convinced that I was a Celtic spinner in a past life (Stop laughing, I CAN hear you).

I realized yesterday that I never showed you some of my spinning samples. I took pictures but forgot to post. First a snapshot of my fiber stash from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. I also included a shot of my homemade PVC niddy noddy. This baby is great for setting the twist on my singles because I can soak, rinse and dry without removing them from the niddy noddy.

Fibery goodness Posted by Hello

Next, I spun up samples of Jen's fabulous fibers just to get the feel of the fiber and the hang of spinning, My faves were the Polwarth/Angora blend (fourth one over with the hint of blue)and the CVM (the dark brown in the second sample). I lined these up in order of when they were spun. As you can see, the first few are pretty damn ugly. I'll keep them as I've been advised but man they are pitiful little blobs of fiber.

Spinning samples Posted by Hello

Finally, a shot of the merino silk. Don't ya love my high tech toilet paper roll bobbins? The mini skein is my first attempt a plying. It's not great but should get better with practice. I didn't realize until too late that I'm spinning the second batch much thinner than the first. Oh well, live and learn.

My thumb is sore from spinning which prompts me to step up my spinning wheel search activities. I think I have my six choices narrowed down to 3 - an Ashford Traveller or a Majacraft Millie or Little Gem. At first I thought that I didn't want to travel with my wheel but now I'm thinking that it would be great to take her with me when I visit family. That ruled out the Prelude and the Traditional and the Baynes wheels. I might be able to get by Stony Mtn. Fibers after a business trip on Tuesday. Man do I need to scratch that itch!

Corgi lovers have come out of hiding as of late. I've found that lots of people love these nubby little fur balls and want more pics of Princess Mavi. As soon as I get a new camera, I'll oblige her fans. In the meantime, here are some great photos that I've come across by sheer accident in most cases. Enjoy!

Gigi Posted by Hello
This is Gigi. She's a year old and is a red headed tri. More pictures of Gigi are here.

This is Ollie the wonder Corgi.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Holiday Hangover

I have a serious post Christmas hangover. Not the drinking kind but the "man, I'm having a hard time getting motivated kind." I've barely gotten out of my jammies for the past few days (remember, I work from home and don't have to when the kids don't have school), been sleeping late, going to bed late, haven't eatten a sit down meal in over a week and have watched a ton of football. I am a self proclaimed butt slug.

Christmas was wonderful albeit exhausting visiting family. We went on a three day whirlwind tour to see the family on both sides - aunts, great aunts, grandmas, cousins, the whole kit and kaboodle. Our families are way too generous, so much so that Winston (the minivan) was packed to the gills for the four hour trip home Christmas eve. My favorite gifts - DH and the boys gave me an entire wardrobe of casual clothes, Mom and Dad gave me money for a spinning wheel and my cousin in law knit me a scarf as a thank you for turning her onto the world of knitting. As the saying goes, Life is Good!

Everyone loved their knitted gifts. Mom took some pictures for me so I hope to have some to post soon. I even broke down and knit MIL a felted flower. It was almost to beautiful to give away. I finished some post holiday wrist warmers for my boys that totally kick ass. Thing 1's are hand dyed pink and black (looks cooler than they sound) and Thing 2's are knit with Noro Kujaku in a bluish colorway. The fun part about these is that I knit them with my new Clover miniature circular needles and didn't have to knit them on double points. The needle is only 22 cm long from tip to tip! These babies flew off the needle in less than an hour! I am definitely going to buy another pair in a smaller size to make socks with.

After all of my time constrained knitting, I decided to just rock in the corner this week and knit something with no recipient in mind, that requires very little concentration. The lucky knit? Wavy from Knitty using Noro Kureyon leftovers. It is so cool how the waves form and all it uses are knits and purls. Ah, what a great break for me.

I'm also in the market for a new digital camera since Santa didn't bring me one. I hate that I don't have a single holiday picture this year. With all of the great sales right now, there's no excuse.

That being said, I really am looking forward to next week when we get back into our routine again. Starting next week, I'm going to open a new chapter as a regular part of my blog - Dhiyaya - in alignment with my New Year's resolution to live a more mindful life. Knitting, of course is a part of this concept. I hope that you'll not only join me on this journey but will share some of your tips for more mindful living.

Later this week, reflections on my 2004 adventures in knitting. I leave you with some of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons from the past...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Holiday Sentiments

Dearest Knit Bloggers...

During this season, whether it be in celebration of the Winter Solstice, Jewish holidays, Christian holidays, or just the end of the year, I wish you all good health and prosperity. For those traveling, I wish you safe passage and a safe return. Most of all, I hope that the warm embrace of love is upon you in some form. I know that we may never meet each other in person, but so many of you have a special place in my heart. Without your support, advice and care, I would be less of a knitter, less of a person. Thank you for sharing yourself with me and my family.

I won't be blogging again until after Christmas. My needles are smokin' from all of the last minute knitting that I'm doing. I've purged some gifts and some will arrive late, and that's OKAY :)I'm most thankful that I even have friends and family to knit for and who actually LIKE my hand made gifts.

I'll reflect on my year in knitting next week and look forward to reading your reflections too. Take care and happy holidays :)

Friday, December 17, 2004

Scarf, Scarf bo barf bananafanafofarf

Okay now lets do Chuck - Chuck, Chuck, fo... er, enough of the name game. I'm feeling so juvenile today :)

Here's my latest FO, the quick, the colorful, the clever, multidirectional diagonal scarf.

Posted by Hello

I used about 1 1/2 skeins of Noro Kureyon 138 and knit it using size 8 brittany bamboos to get a 4 1/2" by 4' scarf. It knit up in absolutely no time and wasn't a typical boring scarf since you were increasing and decreasing constantly while watching the colors change like magic before your eyes. However, I still hate the way most Noro yarns feel - sorta rough. Plus it tended to be thick and thin in some places so when a thick chunk ended up on the edge of the scarf, it bulges out. I'm hoping that blocking will help. I think this might be a fun pattern for some handspun, hand dyed yarn in the future.

Speaking of future, my future has felt so uncertain lately. I'm in a grant funded child advocacy position that technically runs out the beginning of March - eek! Being the control freak that I am, I've had a need to "plan" for the what ifs that this uncertainty brings. After many sleepless nights, anxiety attacks and rollercoaster emotions, I decided to seek spiritual help to pilot my way through the fog that is sometimes my life. "Yeah, so what?" you might say. Lots of people seek help. Well, I have a hard time asking for help. If I can't reach an item at the top of a grocery shelf (which is a weekly occurence since I'm barely 5' 2"), I'd rather kill myself pulling the shelf over while trying to climb to the top rather than ask a clerk for assistance. But somehow I managed to talk to the pastor of the church we've attended for the last year or so and I made myself as vunerable as possible (something I rarely ever do). And you know what? It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. This man is so kind and thoughtful and really speaks to my heart that I never felt once like he took advantage of me. I tell you all of this because what he told me might help some of you when you hit these rough spots that don't require crisis management.

His advice? Sometimes best when you don't know what to do, to do nothing at all. Live each day to the fullest and let your higher power pilot the course instead of fighting for control. That being said, it doesn't mean that you don't have a fall back plan in place (as good McGuyver offspring always should) but we shouldn't live in fear either. So simple for most, but for control freaks like me, its the hardest thing to do. But I'm going to try the strategy, be calm, meditate, pray and stop living by the "what ifs." My heart rarely steers me wrong on issues like this :)

Okay, back to knitting. Seven days to go and its time to fish or cut bait with the knitted gifts. Here's what's left for me to finish in priority order:

* Whip up a couple of quick knit teacher gifts. I'm designing some cute felted flower pins that will hopefully fulfill this task.

* Finish knitting all of the items that need to be felted by Monday night. That includes the maroon felted mitten, the strap to Da Hound and possibly a pair of felted mittens for Mom

* Finish Dad's Irish Hiking Scarf (almost 70% complete)- reality check, I could work on this while on the road especially if I can find one of these earlights. Must have, must find gadget...

* Knit a couple of Willie Warmers as gag gifts

* Add the fringe to Gma's lap blanket

* Sneak in some time on the fingerless gloves for Thing 1 though I can save these for his birthday which is three weeks from now.

* Knit three friend gifts - I'm thinking a cravat for one and perhaps fingerless gloves for the other two

* Make labels to sew in finished knits

* Finish brother and nephew's gifts - reality check, we won't see them until after Christmas and I want to get pictures with them in their knits so I have time to finish these during the holiday.

* Block, block, block

* Wrap, wrap, wrap

I also have some baking that I need to do for the neighbors but that won't take long either. It seems like a lot but I have all day Saturday - Tuesday so I should be able to knock it out. If not, I always have plan B :) See? I'm already learning to let go (she says as they pry her nails out of the knitting needles). Happy knitting over the weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

She can't take much more Captain...

I'm reminded of Scotty screaming this to Captain Kirk in old Star Trek reruns as I slog through the days leading up to Christmas. No, I'm not going to "lose it". I've taken some wonderful advice from friends both online and "real", I stepped back and reassessed things, and I stopped letting work and volunteer obligations have get the best of me.

What I can't take much more of is holding myself back from 1.) holiday goodies and as a result my diet is suffering and 2.) turning into a total butt slug of an employee because I'm incapable of focusing on work. It happens every year - same bat time, same bat channel. I did better this year that I have in past years. Maybe one day, I'll grow up (yeah right)and be more responsible.

Okay, I promised pictures and pictures you shall have! Here's my little holiday fashion show...

First on the runway, little miss "Moon Over the Blueridge"

Posted by Hello
This fluffy, soft young lady is approximately four feet long and two feet wide. She was knit flat on size 11 Denise needles using a modified feather and fan pattern. Her yarns (1 skein each of) are Patons Divine Mohair blend in pale blue and variagated midnight blue, Lion Brand Incredible ribbon in blue and TLC variagated blue. She is destined to be a lap blanket for GMA once I finish her fringe.

Next up is "Dreams of Indigo"...

Posted by Hello
This is a coordinated, felted tam and mitten set. The pattern for the tam is from HeartStrings fiber arts. I modified the "Knit One Felt Two" felted mitten pattern and added a strand of loopy mohair for 12 rows to make the cuff. Both were knit with size 11 double point needles. Her yarns are Cascade 220 in Indigo blue and Ironstone Yarns Loopy mohair in variagated blue. I used 1 1/2 skeins for the tam. The mittens used 1 skein of Cascade and 1/2 skein of the Ironstone. This sassy little number is also destined for GMa.

For the little people we have "Target Practice"...

Posted by Hello

This knit will eventually be a hat and fingerless glove set for my 16 month old nephew. I used a basic childs hat pattern, knit on size 4 double points. The yarns are red and white (my brother's fraternity colors) Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. I hate how the edge curls and yet I didn't want ribbing. I may hem the edge and add earflaps. In addition, I knit the fingerless gloves before I'd mastered the pattern so they will likely be frogged and re-knit. Finally, why the name "Target Practice"?

Posted by Hello
Need I say more?

DH, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are still laughing about this hat. I'm not amused and yet why didn't I think about the pattern before I used these colors? *Sigh*

Our next model is is "Da Hound"...

Posted by Hello

This knit is a Houndstooth pattern felted tote bag with a flap. This stranded project from Hell - er, project knit with love - was knit in the round using size 13 Denise needles using the pattern from the Knit A Day calendar. Again, Cascade 220 yarns were used in off white (number 8010 is the one that felts, the other white will not) and black (two skeins of each). Approximately 9" x 7", Da Hound will be capable of toting practically anything McGuyver Mom can chuck into it. Its sturdy handle has yet to be attached. If time permits, I'm going to make matching felted mittens.

Our final FO is "Cable Gal"...

Posted by Hello

Our lovely model (moi) is showing off the cabled goodness of a fingerless glove/wrist warmer. I modified the Irish Hiking Wrist Warmer pattern that Delia -Thanks! - created so that I could knit them in the round (I hate seaming) using size 9 double points. The yarn used was some leftover sportweight Araucania Nature Wool in variagated red. I'm guessing that I used about 120 yards of the stuff for the pair but honestly have no idea. I also don't know who to give these to but I'll be making more since its a fun quick knit. I will add my modified pattern to the blog in a separate post.

I have two UFO's that are almost finished. The Irish Hiking Scarf for dad...

Posted by Hello
Its knit with Cascade Tweed 128 in grey. The yarn is super squishy and soft and should look great with his black wool overcoat. This is a very quick knit! DH is coveting it daily. I'll have to knit him one next.

And a pair of felted mittens for my great aunt in Maroon Cascade 220 and Lion Brand Moonlight mohair. This one is unfelted.

Posted by Hello

I also cast on for the multidirectional diagonal scarf (I've been dying to try this one). I'm dying some pink Cascade 220 to make it black AND pink so that I can knit Thing 1 some wrist warmers (pink and black are his favorite colors). The swatch that I dyed and knit looked like pink camo - too cool!

Whew! That's a lot of catching up and I didn't even show you the yarn that I've spun. I'll save that for another day. I leave you with a shot that just melts my heart - Thing 2 knitting his little heart out :)

Posted by Hello
**Sorry that that it has taken me so long to post. Between upgrading to MSN for Verizon, the typical Blogger issues and not having a camera, I couldn't post pictures until today.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Great prank

I will post finished object pictures later today. In the meantime, for your entertainment, I direct you to this very clever Yale-Harvard prank. I apologize in advance for offending any Harvard alumni. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Help me I'm drowning...

Throw me a life preserver, I'm drowning in life, family and holiday knitting. I've missed bloggin' with you gals. I've been out of town way too much, my house is barely decorated and while I'm zipping through my holiday gift knitting, I'm still behind. Meanwhile, the days are whizzing by me at warp speed. And inspite of a hearty dose of Christmas music (I play it in the car, in the house, sing them at odd moments), the weather is downright perplexing - it warmer here than in places like Southern California. How can I get completely in the spirit when we're wearing shorts?

Speaking of holiday spirit, I want to celebrate some other holidays that have begun this week. Hanukkah began yesterday (my maternal great grandfather was Jewish) and today is the Buddist Bodhi Day celebration. I tend to embrace many spirtual beliefs across religions and am particularly intrigued by the concepts behind Bodhi day.

December is such a great time of year to become more aware of the world around us and our role in it. How often do you think of how the things that you enjoy came to you? Who made the clothing on your back? Who built your house? Who harvested the coffee that you're drinking? Were any of those people paid a livable wage? Hmmm, I thought as the coffee question was posed to me during a NPR show on Sunday. They proceeded to explain the concept of Free Trade coffee and why one should support it. Now DH and I drink a TON of coffee. And I was ashamed to think that I'm not doing the best job of supporting the industry. Since we primarily drink Starbucks, I made the tiny effort to buy some Free Trade beans on the way home from my recent business trip and will try harder to buy products that do a better job of supporting families here and abroad. I sometimes wonder if my little token will make the difference that's needed. I get lulled by the media into believing that only popular, rich and famous people can change the world. But then again I'm reminded by the fact that Gandhi, Buddha and Jesus were all very simple men who made a tremendous impact. A tiny pebble can make hundreds of ripples :)

Okay, what about knitting? I've gotten several items off my needles. GMa's loopy mohair and Cascade 220 mittens are all knitted and felted and very nicely match her felted tam. I'm knitting a maroon mohair pair for my great aunt and will probably make a pair for my mom that will match her houndstooth tote since they're a quick knit. I converted a fingerless glove pattern from the Irish Hiking scarf KAL to a circular pattern (I hate seaming when I don't have to) and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how they turned out. If I get the okay from the person who wrote the original to post the converted pattern, I will before the end of the week. I think I'm going to knit all of my girlfriends a pair for the holidays (which should help me wrap up the gift knitting). I need to cast on for gifts for my brother and dad and then I'm done. Oh yeah, Thing 1 asked me to knit him a thong for Christmas. WTF!?!?!? Who wants wool or even acrylic for that matter up one's hinnie? I'm thinkin' no. He's digging the fingerless gloves so maybe I can convince him that he wants a pair of those. His favorite colors are pink and black. I thought I might dye some wool those colors and see how they turn out. Holiday knitting this year is so much more fun. Last year it was scarves which I now hate (though I might need to knit up a multidirectional before its all said and done).

Alright, enough for now. I have a board of directors retreat this afternoon until 9 or 10 tonight - yikes! I'm bringing my knitting and may whip it out to help me stay awake. I really do hope to have pictures soon (boo hoo, I miss my camera). And if you have a spare life preserver or even a snorkel, don't forget about me...