Thursday, September 29, 2005

What did the five fingers say to the face?

SLAP!!! (heh heh heh - a Dave Chappelle funny). Yes, I've been bitch slapped by life again and haven't had a spare moment to blog or knit much. I'll fill you in on Monday and hopefully things will calm down between now and then. The bummer is that I probably won't be able to make it to The Fall Fiber Festival now :( So if any of you go, please look for my entries in the fiber arts competition. One of the cheekies should be there. Have some fibery good fun for me and have a good weekend.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Football, Fall and Fiber

I had a little of all of my favorite "F"'s this weekend. The Hokie game against Georgia Tech was an absolute blast and a serious blow out - 51 to 7! It was orange effect weekend so the place was ablaze in one of my favorite fall colors.

In case you're wondering, yes I did take some knitting with me. The elderly guy checking bags at the entrance even commented "You gonna do some yarnin' during the game?" Yes, I naively replied or so I thought. When we got to our seats and realized that we had less than 12 square inches of space a piece, then I changed my tune. What was comical was that everytime the crowd stood up, we had to stand up or not only did you end up with a face full of ass but you couldn't move.

The trip out to Blackburg albeit overcast showed visible signs of fall foliage. Over the next few weeks, the foliage should be breathtaking. I would have loved to have taken pictures but King Thing decided to take me through Ellett Valley which I affectionately call twist, turn and hurl. I've gotten past most of my motion sickness over the years but this road does me in every time. This might give you an idea of just how bad the road is.

He somehow convinced me that it would be faster than taking the interstate and that he wouldn't go too fast. Yeah, right. By the time we pulled into the parking lot, I was a lovely shade of green. I never got sick but its the closest I've come in years.

In keeping with the tradition that I started last year, I started taking fall foliage progress pictures of the many trees that I get to watch from my backyard.

As you can see, they really haven't gotten very pretty yet. My hope is that we'll get some pretty colors in another week or so though it has been so dry that the leaves may just turn brown and drop off :( Should I do the fall foliage foto contest again this year? I really enjoyed all of your pictures from last year. Let me know if you'd be interested in sending them my way again.

In knitting and spinning news, I got very seriously distracted with another new project this weekend. I honestly think I need help. I can't stay focused to save my life. Here's a hint of what I worked on:

Any guesses on what it might be? Stay tuned. I hope to show you more tomorrow.

In other fibery good news, I have the new Spin Off though I've barely cracked the cover. I sent in some of my handspun Corgi yarn that will appear in the next issue. I also put some of my handspun Finn sheep to use as part of my sneaky project. I really like how it turned out.

The bleeding corset came out of hiding. Using these cool button pins, I temporarily put the buttons on her to see if I like them before committing to them 100%.

(pay no attention to the very bad hair day I'm having or the deer in the headlights when is the timer going to go off look)

What do you think? I'd love to find some different buttons but the colors have been difficult to match up which is why I went neutral. Overall, I'm pleased with the fit even if I do get sad everytime I look at the faded colors. I've lost about 7 pounds from the time that I first started the top and I can definitely tell. My hope is to wear this to the Fiber Fest but that will depend on the weather. I do have my Kyoto sweater as a back up.

I'm off for some post Pilates coffee. We just got digital cable and now have FitTV and DIY! Woo Hoo! Have a great week everyone!

Friday, September 23, 2005

First of Fall Fantastic Foto Friday

How's that for alliteration? To celebrate the first official day of Autumn and my favorite season of the year (couldn't guess that from my blog skin could ya?), I took a picture of the sun rising over the mountains behind my house this morning.

I'm also submitting these to Sandy's sky photo contest. You can win some great swag. Hurry though, the contest ends today at 5 pm EST.

Alrighty then, back to all of those photos, etc. I promised ya on Hump Day. First up, NOSO Knit. I had the absolute best time. I'd originally planned to stop in for a few hours because I didn't know that many people. But how can you be in a room with over 100 knitters and not make new friends. I'd only had a quick chance to meet Emmy over at Knitter's Review and by visiting her blog. She quickly found me in the sea of fiber addicts and is one of the sweetest people I've had the pleasure to meet in ages. I really do hope that I can catch up with her again in the future. Maybe at the Fall Fiber Festival.

I only snapped a couple of pictures because I was too busy talking. Anybody who knows me wouldn't be surprised :)

This one is of the woman from Scarves of Hope telling us about how the knitted scarves that were donated are given to women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Her story was quite compelling.

And here are a couple of shots of just how many people were crammed into one room. There were two other vendors there besides the Fuchia Fleece: Yarn Theory from Bedford and Orchardside Yarn Shop from Raphine. Wonderful yarns and wonderful people = TONS of fun!!!

Next up is my reclaimed fiber adventure. This is not for the faint of heart. Ripping any knitted project is such a disturbing process it can bring you to your knees. I did find it interesting to analyze how machine knits are constructed as I was taking them apart. Here are some before and after shots:

Overall, this knit cooperated very nicely as I took it apart. It yielded about 850 yards of great quality yarn. The great thing about reclaiming yarn from a knitted project is that you can see how it will look when completed, you have a swatch for gauge and some idea of how it will wear. Even though this yarn looks stripey, its beautiful when knit. I can't wait to find a project for it.

The second sweater that I started ripping, did not go so well (its the light brown yarn in the above photo). It has angora mixed in it. I test ripped one sleeve and the family room looked like I had blown a dandelion in the air. It got up my nose, in my eyes, in my lungs - what a nightmare! I finally got smart and sat in front of the air conditioner return which so happens to be at waist level. It sucked every last bit of fluff up before it could escape into the air. HOWEVER, words escape me to describe this yarn. It as soft as a whisper and is dying to be knit into an openwork sweater. I will plod ahead and hope to avoid coughing up a hairball in the process.

I'm truly in alpaca heaven. This stuff is what dreams are made of. It's worth repeating, Kiri is a wonderful pattern. Its really hard to capture the color of the yarn in the skein as you can see below.

You can kinda see the color when its knit up. Here's a shot of the shawl so far.

I'm up to the fifth pattern repeat. I honestly prefer projects that shrink, not grow but I love this so much that I don't mind.

I had a panic attack as I was about to block Kiri so that I could take the picture. I went to grab a couple of extra Denise cords and they were nowhere to be found. After 30 minutes of frantic thrashing, they were found in a couple of long forgotten projects. Phew! I hate when that happens.

I'm off to see some Hokie football up close and personal tomorrow as the 'Burg hosts Georgia Tech and ESPN Gameday. Will I bring my knitting? I have yet to decide. I'll let you know on Monday.

* Edited to add: Little Miss Zira arrived on Emy's Singapore doorstep earlier this week and I've been negligent in posting about her arrival. Check out Zira's blog or show Emy some blog love and see what she's been up to. I would love to have gone with her since it seems like Emy likes food as much as I do :) Thanks for being such a wonderful host!

Have a great weekend! For those of you in the Gulf, you're a constant in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ISO: Fiber Pimp

I've been working hard pimping myself out over the course of the last week. In addition to trying to find a "real" job, I've been promoting my fiber arts skills in hopes that I can generate some fundage. But as Dave Chapelle says, "Pimpin' aint easy." So this fiber Ho got desperately creative and contacted our largest local pimp, Michaels. I walked in with low expectations and figured that I'd get the shaft with regard to teaching fiber related classes. Boy was I wrong. Not only was the coordinator receptive and excited that I stopped by but was able to make me a decent offer. Now, I'm not a stranger to Michaels. I've been a regular since the store opened about 12 years ago and was in fact one of their wholesale reps for several years. If things go well, I'll start offering classes with them in October. Next steps involve me trolling dark alleys with yarn and roving tied to my waist, enticing fiber addicts to spend an hour or two in my company. $15 dollar? Me love you long time.

What else has this fiber Ho been up to? Plenty. In the interest of time (and considering that have things I have to take care of this morning), I'm going to give you the quick and dirty details now and fill in with pictures later.

* NOSO Knit was an absolute blast (Pictures and more details later this week). I met some great people and didn't have nearly enough time to chat with everyone I wanted to. However, some of us are planning to be at the Fall Fiber Festival next weekend so hopefully we'll hook up there. I'm going to enter some of my handspun in the competition. If nothing else, I hope to get some good feedback on how to fine tune my spinning.

* Sadly enough, the baby mitered U is still unfinished. I officially hate the yarn and the strangeness of the pattern. I'll finish it this weekend but the stars are filled with creative promise for this week and I'm not going to waste it on this sweater.

* I was outed by Wanda who asked what happened to the scarf that I started with my handspun. And thought that I had distracted y'all so that you'd forget all about it. Two words my friends - frog pond. I didn't love it so it will wait to become something else. I'm currently plying some long forgotten merino silk that I spun in the Spring to see if it will work with the pattern.

* Finally bought buttons for the corset that bled to death and will get around to stitching them on soon.

* I've been plotting out holiday knits on a budget and decided to make a go of using recycled yarn. One trip to Goodwill and I've scored three sweaters worth of beautiful yarn for less than $10. My first victim was a turtleneck knit with black/white/grey silk wool yarn. It feels a lot like Elizabeth Lavold silky wool with a bit heavier gauge. Its all ripped, washed and is now drying on the deck in the sun. This mighty fine yarn will likely make its way into a cabled sweater for myself. I promise photos so you can drool with me.

* I scored some gorgeous cinnamon Huacaya alpaca from the Fuchsia Fleece at NOSO on Saturday. Scarlett's fiber is beyond words. I'm an alpaca virgin so I wasn't sure if spinning it would be too much of a challenge. I'm madly in love with the stuff because it spins like a dream. I can spin this stuff as fine as thread! I only bought two ounces but I think that if I'm consistent, I'll net about 350 yards of plied lace weight once its all said and done. To celebrate, I took the lace shawl plunge and cast on for Kiri. Not only is the pattern awesome but this alpaca is so soft when knit up. I'm truly in heaven.

* Rogue's sleeves are slowly progressing. Man I hate endless boring inches of stockinette. I fear that if I don't finish soon, I'm going to get kicked off the island. Why don't the knitting gnomes ever visit my house?

Well, gotta run. I'll get photos up soon. Enjoy the last day of summer.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Home Invasion

* Edited to add - Grrrr. What's up with Bloglines? I posted this yesterday and it still hasn't shown up in Bloglines :(

Thanks for your comments on Rogue and the baby Camo. Rogue is just a wee bit stalled until I finish this baby sweater. A word to the wise: The directions are not entirely clear in my opinion. As a result, I've had to frog and reknit sections of it several times. I can't believe that I can handle the cabling in Rogue but can't handle this simple sweater. Maybe I'm just an idiot. Anyhow, I still have the second side to finish and its due tomorrow. It is a quick knit but when you hate the yarn and the pattern, it makes for lots of grumbling. Guess what I'll be working on this evening? Rubble, rubble, rubble.

And many thanks for all of your wonderful thoughts and prayers for my little brother. I've really been feeling the love and truly appreciate it. It's never easy seeing your loved ones intentionally put in harms way but I know that we'll get through it just as many other families in the US have.

So what about the home invasion? Wednesday, the Things and I arrived home afterschool. They scattered in different directions, Thing 1 to the kitchen for a snack and Thing 2 to get his guinea pig (always a top priority). Thing 2 bounds down stairs and casually says to me...

Thing 2: You know those bugs with all of the legs that are always in the playroom downstairs.
IM: (freezing in my tracks with a sudden anxiety attack) Yes. What about them?
Thing 2: There's one in the corner of the stairwell.
IM: (serious panic setting in) Which stairwell?
Thing 2: The one that goes upstairs to our bedrooms.
IM: Oh shit!

I couldn't even hold it together for the boys. I just melted down right in front of them at that very momentt. The kids know that I'm am a nut when it comes to creepy crawly bugs. Truth be told, they are too but for my sake they try to be brave. Now a few of you in Bloglandia are familiar with these horrible creatures and have even blogged about them. They're house centipedes or millipedes, have five million creepy legs and very quickly slink across the floor, hang pendulously from ceilings and walls and inflict terror on their victims. I was mostly panicked because we've never found them upstairs and I thought that was my safe haven. Now I'm freaked out because we're no longer safe. They've invaded the entire house.

IM: Crap, I meant to say crap.
Thing 1 and 2: (snickering like Beavis and Butthead) Mom said shit.
IM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Where's the bug? Show me.

We all cower by the stairwell as we look up in the corner at the biggest damn bug we've ever seen. It looked a lot like the spawn of Predator and the Alien. I was too paralyzed by the fear that it would scurry into my bedroom (which is the first door that it could have climbed into) that I didn't take a picture.

IM: Um, what do we do?
Thing 1: Duh, just knock it down.
IM: Duh, have you seen how high up the stairwell is? (just so you know, the distance from the floor to the stairwell corner is only 25 feet)
Thing 1: Oh yeah. I'll get a broom.
IM: A 25 foot broom!?! How about we knock him down with something?
Thing 1 and 2: YEAH!

They run to their rooms and come back with bouncy balls, slippers, stuffed animals, anything we can throw. Meanwhile, I get the brilliant idea to spray water on him with a squirt bottle. We all converged on the stairwell and started firing away. The creature was not amused. Even after getting soaked in water and getting whacked by stuff, he refused to budge. We didn't fair as well. Bouncy balls in a stairwell are kinda fun at first. But they hurt when they hit you in the eye or privates. Flying slippers and stuffed animals are very unpredictible and hurt when hurled at high speeds from many different directions. And water will eventually start to run down the walls if you spray enough and with a 25 foot ceiling, there's no wiping it off so you have to pray that it will dry without streaks. Just as the brave warriors were about to give up, Thing 1 squirts the bug one last time. He rears his ugly head (I coulda sworn that it screamed), dangles off the wall and plops onto the stairs. This is where all hell breaks lose because he's now on the move. I started screaming and the kids scrambled to find some Raid. After several squirts of the toxic stuff and lots of leg thrashing, we finally subdued the monster.

We've left his carcass right where he met his bitter end lest it be a warning to others who dare to try to get upstairs. We mean business creepy bugs! We're watching you. Don't mess with us. We have squirt guns and bouncy balls and we know how to use them.

** PS - I'm usually quite the pacifist but I can't sleep at night with these things in my house. I did say a little prayer for the bug and asked for forgiveness. I know that it still doesn't make it right though...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other

Praises be, I was allowed to wake up this morning. I've been particularly mindful of counting my blessings daily because I have so much to be thankful for and I know that so many people around the world are suffering. The neighborhood is so peaceful in the morning, save the whir of a few cars. The dew gives everything a crystalline shimmer. Deer meander through my backyard, eagles soar overhead and the fig tree is laden with ripe fruit. Best of all, I'm entertained daily by a chorus of crickets and birds singing and a light wind whispering through the trees. Nature is truly quite amazing.

Right as I was headed home from dropping the boys off at school, my mom called which usually means something's up. Her news today - my lil bro's reserve unit (he's a medic) is being sent to Kosovo. I'm a Navy brat and know that orders can come at the most inopportune times. This is one of those times. My bro has been working so hard to get his life together. He's been training to be a Howard County firefighter for the last several months and is two weeks from graduation. That's where the six and half dozen analogy come in because in all honesty, being a firefighter is just as dangerous as being in the military. I've been a nervous wreck since he told me about applying to be a firefighter. And now he's going to end up out of the country and away from his little boy for a year or maybe more. And I hate that he's going to do intake with soldiers who have been hurt in the line of duty. He saw some of that at Walter Reed and now he's going to be even closer to the front lines. I think that while his job won't be very dangerous, it will be emotionally draining. But then again he's really good at it which is why they're sending him. Military brat or not, I just think this royally sucks ass.

Me and my bro at the National Air and Space Museum last Fall

So if you believe in prayer, please send one up for my brother and nephew and for the many others who are fighting for freedom around the world. I just pray that its worth putting their precious lives on the line.

Okay, time to lift my head and heart up since there's no reason to sulk. There was much knitting whilst the foosball games were on this weekend. The Things gave momma a much needed break on Saturday by leaving me all by my lonesome. To celebrate, I popped in Riverdance (with the original, Mr. "love those great legs and butt" Flatley) and knit away on none other than little Ms. Rogue. The rhythmn of Celtic music and dance put me in just the right mood to whiz through those cables on the first sleeve. Now let me recap for those who haven't journeyed with me through knitting Rogue. I zipped through this knit last fall and then stalled when I had to work on my holiday knits. I picked her up in late Winter, attempted to knit both sleeves at the same time while on a road trip, royally screwed them up and gave up knitting on it for a while. Then Spring hit, it was too hot to wear her even if I'd finished it so I chucked her in a bag and let her languish in the closet. Now she's back on the needles and I'm almost officially finished with sleeve number one.

Tattoo, bring me another pina colada because I'm relaxin' on sleeve island baby! Unless Mr. Roark bitch slaps me with one of his life altering island experiences, I hope to finish this over the weekend at NOSO Knit. I'd love to wear her when the weather gets cooler (which is sooner than later). I'm so close I can feel it.

And I'm loving all of the fun facecloth patterns that are out there. A little cotton goes a long way. I even made a little Japanese tewashi dish scrubbie (I know its not a facecloth but it was something I wanted to try). I see more of these in my future too. Here are few of the other's I've whipped out.

I didn't have the IK pattern for the flower facecloth so I winged it with pretty good results. It would obviously look better in the recommended chenille. I think I might have some in the stash. Hmmm. The tewashi is the cute multicolored swirly blob in the corner. Oh and the delightful little balls of fluff? None other than fuzzy fur yarn from Tar-zay (AKA Target). One dollar for 65 yds of yarn! Who woulda thunk it?

Finally, I forgot that we're supposed to bring a knitted charity item for NOSO Knit so I'm frantically working on a Mitered U Baby Sweater.

I'm not nuts about the colors but I needed to use acrylic and this Red Heart Camoflage was in my stash. I'm probably going to buy some more and knit some camo hats and gloves for my bro.

Tune in on Friday when I share the story of the attack of the killer house centipede. It's a bug epic. Have a happy hump day!

Friday, September 09, 2005

The iceman cometh

Damn! Summer sure did bolt like a bat outta hell. One second, its 90 degrees and hot enough to fry an egg. The next, its fifty degrees and colder than a witches tit in a brass bra. We've been waking up freezing every morning. However, I DO love Autumn (in case you couldn't tell from my blog skin) and can't wait to see the fabulous color show that the mountains of Southwestern Virginia are famous for.

The entire Muse family is trying to settle into our school year schedule again. This means lots of fussing and fighting about bed time and waking up in the morning. And the evil homework monster has reared its ugly head again already. But momma has some time to herself each day to not only get things done but to see the house stay clean for more than 10 minutes at a time. But with the kids back in school, I'm now faced with the task of locating gainful employment. Unless a small miracle manifests itself, the grant funding for my job has almost dried up :( And while I know that I would love to teach arts and crafts, it will be some time before I can generate considerable income. Reading the employment classifieds is quite a depressing task. While I'm tempted to take a job where I don't have to think, its just not in my nature to be a blind follower. And since I've worked in non-profit world for the last 10 years, I'm not sure that I can re-enter the "real" workforce. I AM grateful that I have choices and know that it could be much worse and trust that something will present itself though I've convinced myself that I probably won't be happy. It's been a long time since I've been in the position of taking a job because I HAD to, not because I WANTED to. Que sera sera.

Much knitting has been had around here especially since I needed to keep my hands busy to cope with all of the somber news. Several lovely spinners and knitters made their way to my house last night for some fibery good fun. We had a great turnout, some new faces and lots of show and tell. I could feel myself glowing the entire time I was with my "peeps."

A couple of us worked on face cloths for Katrina survivors and a couple of people spun (there was some yummy chocolate alpaca in there that was to die for). One person worked on a mobius scarf made from a beautiful Fiesta yarn. And our new friend was working on a beautiful Gansey made from Rowan cotton wool.

Here are some of my show and tell items though none of them are completely finished:

Here's the one that made me the most angry first. Mind you, I swatched first for Annie's corset using some handspun, dyed yarn. It bled a bit not an alarming amount. Imagine the horror as I gave my finished corset a gentle soak only to watch it become a blood bath.

What the bloody hell? Was it dyed with watercolors? I'm so crushed that the vibrant colors washed down the drain and I'm left with a corset that looks like it has weathered outside for weeks on end. I'm so bummed that I haven't even looked for buttons yet. Here she is after blocking. (((((Sigh))))

I'm tempted to send the knitting shop an email warning them that other customers may have the same problem. I'll very cautiously use handspun, hand-dyed yarn for future projects.

I also broke out Rogue and was shamed into finishing her. And to think that I started her LAST September. Oh the shame...

These are a couple of the Cloths for Katrina that I'm working on. I love instant gratification projects even if I don't like cotton. What a great way to do something positive and destash at the same time.

And finally, the debut of my newest tote bag design that I named Autumn. Of course, the season itself inspired the colors and the leaf accents. I was hesitant to break her out because she still needs some handles but here's a peek at her semi-finished state.

This is not the greatest picture because I was going to send her off with one of my knit buds who is into beading to match up some handles for her and wanted to snap a quick shot. I'll get some modeled shots when she's finished. I love everything about this bag and can't wait to take her out on the town.

And for those who care, Autumn can also double as a Hokie (Virginia Tech) spirit bag. Go Hokies! Yes, college football and NFL seasons have started and I'll be an annoying fan for the next three or four months so beware. I'm off to change the flag out front to the Hokie banner and hunker down for some weekend football fun. Ciao!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Sound of Silence

Save the hustle and bustle of school day mornings and afterschool activities, silence has been restored to la casita de muse. After dropping the Things off at school today, I could quitely contemplate my day over a cup of soon to be over priced coffee. But where silence exists, peace does not.

My heart still weighs heavy with the anchor of sorrow over the losses experienced in the Gulf Coast. In the silence of night, overwhelming feelings of helplessness and guilt not only keep me up but move me regularly to tears. Our human nature to lay blame is beginning to take over the airwaves including bloglandia. I'm hesitant to get involved in these discussions because WE as a collective race equally share the burden of blame especially when it concerns the less fortunate. Its too easy to shift the burden to someone else's shoulders so that we can sleep better at night rather than examine ourselves to see what we could have done to facilitate a different outcome. Can we say that as a society - the self proclaimed PREMERE nation of the world - that we have taken the best care of those who are less fortunate and those in need (I'm not talking about just during times of crisis)? I've worked on behalf of them for over half of my short life and I can honestly say that I don't feel that I have. Before the hurricane, before the waters rose, before the tragedy took place - where was the concern for the indigent? And why have we as a society forsaken them for so long? Do not quickly place the yoke of blame on the local, state, federal and executive level government officials, America. This is OUR country and OUR problem and WE need to come up with solutions.

In the silence, I have found solace in knitting. I've joined my friend Nana Sadie Rose and many others to knit face cloths for those in need in the Gulf Coast. I've given money to the Red Cross and will give more as possible. I've prayed and will continue to do so. And I'll continue to search for ways that I can better do my part for my fellow man. And I know that I'm in good company with so many of you who already do so much. I'm just sorry that it took a tragedy like Katrina to get my full attention.

I know that many of you have wondered why I've been strangely silent for the last week. In addition to being away on vacation, I just needed to clear my head of some of the confusion and frustration. I'll be back to regular fiber blogging again by the end of the week. Thanks for listening.