Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The sound of one hand clapping

The sound of one hand clapping would be pretty quiet, IMHO. That's how I feel about blogging as of late. I try to post project pictures. I post at least once a week. And yet, comments are few and far between. Yes, I'm a comment whore but only because I crave interaction with others in the world. I'm pretty lonesome as a telecommuter and work hard to connect with my fellow humans, especially fiber fiends. I can't even get people to respond to my posts on KR :( For me, no comments = no connection. Perhaps my knitting and/or spinning content is boring, my pictures aren't creative or the look of my blog too mundane. Whatever the problem is, I wish that someone would tell me. I'm open to criticism. Just don't leave me hanging. Nuff said.

In all reality, this blog is an opportunity for me to blah blah blah if for no one else but myself so I'll continue to crank out commentary. We headed to the beach for the long weekend. It was a warmer holiday weekend than in the past five years and yet it was still a bit too chilly to be at the beach. The one day that it was really nice (Sunday)and warm, I was sick in bed most of the time with the flu :( At least the three Things had a good time (I realized after taking this picture that it looks like they're all staring at that woman's butt).
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And even the piggies got in on the action (Mavis was there too but as you may recall, she hates cameras so we try not to traumatize her). I honestly don't remember much about the weekend because I was in a feverish fog. I did somehow manage to spin and ply about 100 yards of the pink merino silk for H.

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This is how I feel when I'm spinning it. I LOVE this stuff.

And I knit some more on the never ending Tempting. Have I mentioned that I decided to use some Helen's Lace from my stash to make a more airy version of the pattern? Seemed like a good idea at the time except for the fact that its knit on tiny needles and takes forever to "grow". At this rate, I might finish it next year. It's not much to look at but here's a peek:

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I'm working on several Cheeky Little Monkeys and hope to wrap them up by weeks end. A couple of people have asked about the pattern for the monkeys. Please forgive me but to be honest, I'm on the fence about publishing it. For one, I'm completely unsure about my pattern writing abilities and two, I feel so emotionally tied to the pattern that I'm not sure that I want to put it out there. It would be like giving away one of my kids. I'll keep thinking about it.

Here's one from the vault. I never showed you pictures of the finished mohair Kyoto (which is obviously too warm to wear now-a-days).

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I promise you that it looks better on than off. It looks really colorful in the photo but the colors are much more muted in person. However, I still look like someone recovering from the flu so I'll spare you a photo of me in it. I'm thinking about entering it into the Knitty calendar contest. I hope to see some of the knit blogger knits in there :) Catch ya tomorrow with the contest winner.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Contest!

Let the voting begin. Now through May 31st, you can vote (check out the left sidebar) for your favorite MS&W Zira picture. The winner will be announced on June 1st. To see the pictures, check out the Cheeky Little Monkey post. Zira's resting up in MD for her world tour which will launch in June as part of my one year blogiversary. Stay tuned for more information and keep placing those pins on the world map.

Just a titch of knitting at La casita de Muse. I was able to whip up a few cheeky little monkeys that are now waiting to be felted. I'm testing out a new smaller size too and some various colors just for fun. If they turn out okay, I'll post photos next week.

On the fleece front, I experimented with KA dyeing some of the Corriedale with great results. I'm in a pink and green phase right now and am thinking that a felted pink and green tote from my handspun would be fun. Below are some transition photos of the dyed locks (which were carded and pulled through a diz), transformed into little roulades (at least that's what I call them. Sounds better than rolags), spun and plyed into variagated yarn and finally knit into a 4" x 6" swatch.
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While the process takes a while, I. AM. LOVING. IT! After reading the most recent Spin-Off, I plan to do some solar dyeing over the summer. So many experiments, so little time.

So when will I have time to work on all of these projects? Wellllll, I got word that my grant funded position will probably be cut to less than 10 hours a week for the summer. After some mini panic attacks and freak out sessions, my wonderfully supportive DH (hereafter referred to as King of the Things) and I decided that its not the end of the world to take it easy for the summer. Thing 1 and 2 are will be out of school and we have nothing major (knock on wood) on the horizon. No major home improvement projects, family commitments, work commitments - nada. So I've decided to take the plunge and delve into teaching knitting and maybe some spinning over the summer from my home. If it works out and if my job is put on funding hold in the fall, I might have myself established. The worst that can happen is I get a real job. Many, many thanks to my wonderful cyberknit buds Kelly and Heaz for talking some sense into me :) I've been a pitiful little muse as of late.

Edited to add*** Has anyone taught knitting or other fiber classes? In their home? Any pitfalls that I should be aware of? Suggestions? Anyone out there? Bueller? Bueller? Someone please respond. I'm starting to wonder if this blog is working or not.

And, I'm also going to make myself a DIY project. I'm going to work hard on getting healthy - eat better, exercise more, etc. especially since work won't be a barrier. King of the Things is looking forward to lots of great cookin' and grillin' and afternoons by the pool. I'm keeping my eyes, fingers and toes crossed that it all works out but then again I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.

Have a relaxing Memorial Day holiday. I plan to hang out on the beach sipping gurly drinks and knitting (and maybe spinning) my life away. I'll meet you all here next week!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cheeky Little Monkey

What's more fun than a little monkey hanging in an orchid?
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How's about a little monkey that knits?
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Or better yet two cheeky little monkeys cheesing it up for the camera?
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Meet The Cheeky Little Monkeys, my latest knitted and felted creations. They're finger puppets and no more than 4 inches tall. The knitting monkey is on its way to Jen for winning the Zira clothing contest a couple of weeks back. I believe that the remaining monkey is going to be one of the first of my knitted offerings that I put here for sale. Whaddayathink? Would you buy one for $8-$10?

My weekend was much more laid back than I've had in eons. I played with my new fiber all day Saturday (after housecleaning for 5+ hours - yuck). I spun and dyed some of the Corriedale that I've been working on for what seems like forever. I've been working it in smaller batches just because large batches don't seem to clean as well (at least not for me). I'm petrified to put the fleece in the washer so I'm washing it all by hand. There's no rush so I'll muddle through. Friday signalled the arrival of the last two fleeces that I bought. They're Navajo Churro and are from a non-profit - Black Mesa Weavers - that supports the Native American heritage behind this wool. I admit that I thought that the wool would be horribly course and stiff but after washing and carding it, I was surprised at how lofty and soft it is. It can have a staple length of up to 12 inches! Anyhoo, I felt good about not only supporting their way of life but spinning some very cool fleece. Check them out in May when they'll have their 2005 fleeces available. I'll post all of my spinning pictures later this week since this post is already full of graphics.

I have a short, busy week ahead of me. Thing 2 is in an in-law's wedding this weekend so we're off to the beach for two weekends in a row. I hope that the weather cooperates. It sure is cold right now. 67 degrees = brrr! In the meantime, here are some of the Zira sightings from MS&W (there I said it as I am no longer bitter). Let me tell you, this little monkey made her rounds. I've seen more pictures than these out there in bloglandia and have somehow managed to lose a couple (Help!). I'll continue to update this list until Monday, May 23rd and then voting will begin. Get your photos in to me asap so that your shot is in the running for its place on a real US postage stamp.

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MinxKnits and Zira

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Devashands, Vibegrrl and Zira

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Pixiestikz and Zira

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Keowdieknits and Zira

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Harlot and Zira

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ssssomebody Ssstop Me

So I couldn't go to Maryland for that which will remain nameless. I sent Zira and am eagerly awaiting her report. Instead of stewing in the juices of my own resentment, I went insane with a newfound addiction - FLEECE. I've bought five fleeces and am bidding on another on Ebay. I can't help myself. I'm totally in LOVE with the process. I call it the "Cinderella factor". You transform these sometimes dirty, smelly, greasy blobs of fluff into the most beautiful, gossamer beings. However, my obsession was put into check by my darling husband last night while he watched me cleaning the third of the five fleeces that had just arrived in the mail. Excerpt from our conversation...

DH: You know, there are these places and I know we don't really have one here in Salem but they have them in Richmond and Virginia Beach. Maybe you've heard of them. They're called YARN shops. And you're not going to believe it but they carry wool in the form of yarn that's already been washed, spun, and even the twist has been set (he was showing off his newly aquired fiber knowledge of the process). I can take you there and buy you some. We really CAN afford it."

IM: (not looking up as I admired just how soft the newly washed Corriedale was) Uh huh. So what's your point?

DH: Do you do this because you can't afford to buy yarn?

IM: No.

DH: Why play with gammy, dirty wool then?

IM: Because the pleasure is in the process.

DH: Hmpf.

IM: Its sorta like with you there are these places where you can take the cars and have them washed, vacuumed and dried in a matter of a few minutes instead of several hours (which is his weird hobby as of late).

DH: (smiling and changing the subject) So what was the last knitting or spinning project that you actually finished? When are you going to finish my vest?

IM: Doh!!!!

Good point, touche. I haven't finished too much of anything. I have serious fiber ADD. I have knitting knick knacks all over the living room floor (its a wasted room in my opinion since no one uses it) AND all over the place in my still unfinished knitting ashram. There's dirty fleece sunning on the family room floor and clean fleece drying on the kitchen counter. Rogue and the DH sweater have yet to be completed (no use rushing since fall is several months away) and several felted projects are scattered in bags. I need some serious fiber focus. It doesn't help to read about all of your fiberexploits from this past weekend. And it also doesn't help knowing that my grant funded position might be up in a few weeks. I'm stashing now for potentially leaner times. Or so I keep telling myself. Boogie explained my addiction best in her latest post. I'm a junkie too. Sign me up for a little of each please.

Here's a little sample of what I've been playing with. The photos don't really show the fawn color of this beautiful corriedale. It really isn't that dirty or greasy and just needed a light wash.

Raw fleece and some sorted batches that were waiting to be washed:
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Close up of the crimp on the fleece
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Washed, dried and a few combed locks (the gray swatch is from another corriedale fleece that I played with over the weekend).

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Don't I sound like I know what I'm doing. I'm sure that I've botched the lingo or didn't explain something properly. Anyhoo, I'll have a ton of corriedale that I now need to decide what to do with. I love to felt with it (which is originally why I bought it) but am unsure if I can do that to it. For now, I'm content to just play with it :)

For those of you who went to that which will remain nameless this weekend, Zira was in the trusty company of dear Heather and her sister Kelly. Thanks again for letting her tag along. I've seen a couple of Zira sightings in blogland but no official submissions to the contest. If you've seen her out there or have photos, email me your links so that I can start posting them. Have a wonderful week and enjoy the beauty that is spring!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Magical Mystery Tour

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Hullo All!

I'm off on my magical mystery tour to Maryland Sheep and Wool. And thanks to IndigoMuse, I have some fashionable new clothes to wear for my debut. I loved Jen's idea for a tube top but in all reality, with no boobs, I couldn't pull it off. IndigoMuse made me a black cross backed cami out of mercerized cotton with a seed stitched bottom.

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The mini is made from some sort of evil Berroco cotton that made IM cuss quite a bit. However, it is a very beautiful color so I think it was worth it. And to complete the look, I have a matching neck scarf and a belly ring.

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Now I'm ready to meet Yarn Harlot and all of you knit bloggers. I'll be at the meetup at 12:30 on Saturday and at the Harlot's book signing. I'll be there on Saturday and Sunday complete with a black backpack with my name on it. So if you see me, please stop, take some pictures and say "hi." See you soon...

Zira