Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Seven Years

Yesterday marked the passing of 7 years of marriage to the love of my life. This gorgeous surprise was delivered to me in the morning:

(Lillies, my favorite flower -- Calla Lillies made up my wedding boquet)

The Wollmeise sock is progressing at...well, some sort of a pace. However, anytime I'm staying at my parent's house, it seems like I accomplish things as though running through molasses. Example: I have not knit or spun in two days (well, I knit about 10 stitches in the waiting room at the eye doctor today, but that doesn't count for much, does it?)

I think it falls into the "it's so ugly it's cool" category.

Tiny Nephew was posing as Edna 'E Mode today.

The puppies have started eating "solid" food (or as solid as dog food that has been soaked in water for several hours can be).

Some of you have asked what we plan to do with these little guys. My parents breed Golden Retrievers to sell; these are this year's litter, and so far the dark dude already has a home promised him once he hits the 8-week-mark.

My husband grew up in a farming community where his parents still reside. My father-in-law told any sheep farmers he knew to save any wool they didn't want for him this year. A week or two ago, he showed up with these seven (SEVEN) bags of raw, stinky fun.

My little sister Rachel and I spent much of the morning on Saturday sorting and washing two of the fleeces.

From what I can gather, there seems to be 14 fleeces all together. Woah. I may have to share my wealth a bit with some of the fiber folks I hang out with on Mondays.

Did you know that "wool" is the gift of choice anniversary #7? How appropriate. =)

Now I'm learning to handcard, using this video (and here's pt. 2) that I found on YouTube. I think I'm getting the hang of it...sort of. I bought a whole bunch of KoolAid, and if tomorrow looks like it's going to be as beautifully sunny as today, Rachel and my little guys and I will work on dying some of the locks to make the carding more fun.

Entirely unrelated, but did you have any idea you could get into this much trouble while using watercolor paints?
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Baby boy!

Introducing My Tiny Nephew (bloggable name undecided), 6 lbs 15 oz, born 1:40am, July 21st.

My sister Hannah and baby are doing well, and we can't wait to bring them both home!

He has such a tiny grumpy old man face.  I just want to squeeze him!

Since I was part of my sister's labor support team, there was no knitting going on during the pre-baby part of the evening.  However, as we waited for the nurses to wash, weigh, and otherwise fuss with the baby afterwards, I cast on for a sock that I've been wanting to work on for a while.

My first Wollmeise sock (I've had three different skeins for probably over a year, and haven't broken into any of them until just now).  These will be Annetrelac Socks, Interweave Holiday Knitting 2007 and also available in the Interweave store (Ravel it here).  I am trusting this pattern to guide any pooling tendencies towards it's best advantage.  I can't wait for the entrelac part!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

A cute hat, but no baby...

The Sweet Baby Cap is complete.  Do you hear that, little guy?  Your hat is done.  You can come out now.  We all want to see what you look like at long last!  My sister is 5 days overdue and counting...

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sweet Baby Cap for a sweet baby

My sister was due to have her baby on Saturday, yet she's still baby-full and feeling pretty much fine (although very frustrated).  Poor thing.  I've decided that it's probably my fault.  I had intended to knit a hat for the little guy, but then never got around to even starting it.  He's probably waiting for that hat.  In the interest of speeding things along, I've finally cast on this morning for a Sweet Baby Cap (Panda Cotton Solid, KnitPicks Classic Circular, size 0):

We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, here's some very cute (although not human) babies to look at:

This week their eyes and ears opened, and they've just started trying to bite each other and wrestle a little.  They can yelp and almost bark, although their voices are still babyish and high.

They just get cuter and fatter each day.  Now if we could only get my little nephew to make his appearance...
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spinning batts

As I posted recently, I just purchased a set of Hanks In The Hood batts from Paradise Fibers, so this week I decided to finally break into them and see what they're all about. I decided that with the Cozy Stripes, I really wanted to produce bulky, felted singles.

This was a good idea in theory, except that between my wheel and the fiber, it was a battle hard won. My singles ended up far more thick and thin than I would have liked; I was fighting to draft smoothly. I don't think that the preparation is to blame, I think that I was just trying to force something on a fiber that it didn't want to be (with a less than stellar wheel...how I miss my Lendrum...)

I realized that I needed to pre-draft as carefully as possible, leaving almost nothing left to do when I was actually inserting the twist.

This is how I handled the batt to deal with the color changes. Here are the last two colors unrolled on the couch (so sorry, the photos were taken last night in artificial light, so please excuse the bad colors and crappy setting).

First, I split the batt as cleanly as I could just before the two-color overlap.

Then, I drafted that out lengthwise (in this picture I would have grabbed the top and bottom of it from this angle), making it pretty much as thin as I would need it to be for spinning the bulky singles.

Next, I split the batt where the color overlap ends and it becomes solid purple again.

I made this into a rolag, and drafted that out into a long continuous strip, pulling from both ends...

Until it looked like this:

Then I lengthened out the remaining solid purple bit, and rolled them all into tidy bundles:

There's probably other ways to do this as well, but that's what seemed to make sense for this particular project, and for the way that I wanted the colors to come out (with Noro-like transitions between the solid, rich tones of the individual colors).

Once I was done spinning, I gently felted the skein in a few alternating soaks in cold and hot water, with a little bit of squishing involved (enthusiastically executed by the three-year-old this morning).

Here are my results. Definitely knit-able (or crochet-able), but as far as consistency in spinning, not up to my usual standards.

I would love to crochet this into a flower-motif scarf (I find the vintage 70's combo is almost ugly, yet strangely inspiring), but I don't think that I have enough yardage for anything crocheted (this is just under 23 yards).

So....what do you suggest that I do with it?

Usually, I would have sat down immediately to knit this up as soon as it was dry, but instead, I got out my tiny Golding LeFleur spindle and spun some metallic thread out of some green blend Firestar (100% nylon).

(It's almost impossible to capture metallic colors on camera.)

Then I spun some fingering weight singles out of this stuff:

(The grey is actually a green, but...well, I'm having color troubles this week, it would seem.)

It's Hanks In The Hood "Moss", and I wasn't sure how I would feel about the layered colors.

As it turns out, it's alternating colors as I spin, which is quite fun!

I'm spinning this as fingering-weight singles on my Golding Celtic Knot, and I will then Andean-ply it to be a dk-weight two-ply.

The original plan was to three ply it with the thread, but....well, I don't really know what I was thinking. The colors are shockingly bad together, see?

Anyway, I'll use the thread as a binder for something else, but I'm not sure what yet. At the moment I'm really enjoying the color changes in the batt, and it's proving to be a much more enjoyable experience alltogether than the Cozy Stripes spun on my HitchHiker. Funny, I never thought I'd hear myself say that (or "see myself type that"?) about spindle spinning...
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Where the hell is Matt?

How is it that I've never heard of Matt before? More than likely, it is because I, like my friend Becca, never, ever click on video links (many apologies). However, since it was on Becca's blog, and she happens to be one of the funniest people that I know (and one of the funniest bloggers), I decided to click...and now I know who Matt is. So no pressure, but if you want to be in the know too (or just want to make fun of me for being so behind the times that I've never heard of the guy), check out the following video (NOTE: this clip is entirely family friendly and non-offensive to the general public):

You can find out more about him at WhereTheHellIsMatt.com. (If you do go there, be sure to click on the "about matt" section, which is hilarious).
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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Independence Day (and more puppy pics)

For those who enjoy such things, here are yet more pictures of the puppies -- an yes, they're Golden Retrievers, as some of you have already guessed.

My sister Hannah and I cooked and baked for our Independence Day dinner as my parents and the rest of our siblings were en route from their vacation in New Jersey (they spent an extra week there after the two of us and my three children came back home to New York.)  My one brother who's in the Army and another who lives in the South flew in as well, so we could all be together (for the first time in a few years!)

Daisy helped me with the baking:

We made pound cake (pictured above, in batter form), zucchini bread, strawberry shortcakes and honey whole-wheat bread.

(The only people missing from this picture are Greg and I)

Happy Independence Day to all of the American readers out there!

I am working on some spinning, which I'll be able to show you in my next post.
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cute pups and children...and lots of fiber!

After a fun week, we're finally back in NY.  The rest of my family is still in NJ to visit relatives, but we went back home to help take care of these brand new little cuties:

(I took this yesterday when they were three days old -- today they look the same, only fatter.)

On one of the last days down at the shore, we all split up to do our own things.  My children and I went to a nearby playground, although that was short-lived; the sun was beating straight down on us, and there wasn't any shade over the swings and such, so then we visited a convenience store, where we picked up some milkshakes and lollypops.   We went back to the house to enjoy our snack in the shade of the porch off of our room.

I got two new spindles in the mail (I've been wanting Golding spindles for a long time now, and I finally broke down and brought two).

They really do spin better than any others I've tried.  I'm telling you, there's nothing like a Golding spindle, and it's totally worth the price.  To me, every other brand I've tried is just pure frustration, but the long spin time on the Golding spindles makes it a joy to use.

I taught my littlest sister Rachel to spin:

(They're still in NJ for the rest of the week, so I left her with about a pound of fiber and the larger Golding to practice with.)

Here's the finished Rosebud Corriedale (Spunky Club), 8oz, spun on my HitchHiker:

(The top skein turned out a bit more marled than I would have liked, but such is the nature of things when you take chances with a two-ply.)

To spin these, I didn't split the wool at all -- just pre-drafted it out "full strength" to preserve the longer color runs.  I was able to fit 4 oz on each bobbin, and then just plied them together.

It's a bulky two-ply.  I gave it a rough wet-finishing to plump the yarn up an toughen it a bit; this will be mittens and a hat for Daisy, so it needs to be as resilient as possible.

And...I picked up the needles again!  I'm working on my Auburn Camp Shirt again, but before I started, I had some untangling to do (sadly, Daisy had gotten a hold of my working yarn and clapped it about three times, rendering it almost hopelessly knotted up).  I don't know why I waste so much time untangling when I could just cut the yarn and make it so much easier for myself, but I just can't bear waste, and I hate weaving in ends that much.  (Although really we all know that in the time that it took me to untangle that ball, I could have easily woven in about a hundred ends...but let's not speak of it.)

Two final beach pictures, just because they're cute:

My sister Grace and Daisy -- squatting baby pictures are pretty much the best thing ever, I think.

My boys "keeping warm" on a blazingly hot day.

One final fiber shot -- I had a $40 fiber credit at Paradise Fibers, so I spent it on something that I've never bought before: batts!

Pure Merino from Hanks In The Hood.  I see some fun spinning in my future...
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