Saturday, July 28, 2007

Field Trip

A small group of us knitting ladies are off for a fiber festival today. This will be the first fiber festival I've attended, and, just looking at the vendors, I can see that I'm not going to be able to see everything. However, there are a gazillion people in Michigan that are spinning, dying and raising fiber! I called around our local town yesterday, and couldn't find anything. There isn't even a "spinning" section in the phone book. So while I'm out admiring and burning up a credit card today, I'll also be lobbying for better advertisement. With my normal load of three kids, and then company for the week, if I find time to call around looking for you, it would be really nice for both of us if you were easy to find.

I'm looking forward to learning a lot about spinning today. I've seen pictures on the 'net of how you card fiber, dye fiber, and spin it, but if I could get ahold of a talkative soul today, I bet I could pick up a lot of knowledge. Wish me luck! Of course, being a good blogger, Arleta reminded me to bring my camera. She's far more clever than I, and thanks to her, I'm sure I'll be returning with pics of Alpacas and tables of colorful rovings. There's also a fashion show, but with all those vendors, I'm not promising I'll be able to sit and watch. Unless I buy roving and get a lesson first.... it's okay to spin at a fashion show, right? (Probably not. I know polite)

So I'll be posting and sharing again tomorrow or so. Have a safe weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I know what you've been doing

Well, if you've been doing what I've been doing, that is - which is making fish sticks for dinner, so I can read the new Harry Potter book. Mmm, excellent reading. No, this isn't a spoiler post, but I have to say, this lady's writing is really wonderful to read. You're in the story right away, there isn't a difficult part, or anything that doesn't move smoothly. She ties past books into the story in a way that makes me suspect she had it outlined all along... not flying by the seat of her pants, which is how I always write =) Good book, people. Well worth ignoring the laundry.

And happily, when I raised my head from the book, I got to write a post with shawl updates! Asa has been working on her Snowdrop shawl, and here's a new picture. Go Asa! Live it for me... I'm so jealous.

Liz has been working away on her Cozy shawl. I love the lacy look and drape of this shawl. It looks comforting, doesn't it? She's fretting a bit about how much longer it will take her, so go give her a holler of support, ay?

Also knitting away was Rachel, and before I could put in the picture I had, she finished her Forest Canopy Shawl! That's some wonderfully fast knitting! See the foresty colors, the way you can imagine light sparkling through dark trees, and the different nuances of color it gives? I need this image for my yoga. Very, very nice. Great work, Rachel.

Something lit a fire under Arleta (a fiber festival, perhaps?), and here's her finished shawl, also! Isn't it beautiful? I wonder if she'll let me borrow it... heehee. I get to see it in person, too, so much handling of fiber will be done. I bet it will fit me perfectly =)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shawl Pics and a fiber drawing!

I'm a little at loose ends this morning, so I've been working on a dishcloth - nice, brainless, perfect for thinking. You see, in Comments t'other day, RC suggested I check out, and I thank her. I was really elated to check out the site, because I've been spinning without instruction all along. I had some questions! But it didn't take long to find out that I had spun my two-ply backward - or, rather, *not* backward, which was wrong. Do not spin your plies in the same direction they were originally spun, Carrie. Naughty, naughty.

Okay, I made a mistake. I should have seen it coming, and not wasted all that time spinning (though, gosh, it was fun) without instruction. To quote my three-year-old: "Dangit." So I had to just stop and think for a bit, and I've decided it won't be that big of a deal to reverse spin the yarn. Man, I hope I'm right.

Oh, oh! Pictures of beautiful shawls being knit this summer! I have two more updates - for now, anyway. You have all been busy knitting, and I love looking at your progress. The first update I found was Arleta's, with her Sagittaria, which I have seen in person, and it's so beautiful. And she's nearly done! Can't wait to see modeling photos.

The second update is for Jenni's shawl, which is moving right along, also! She's two-thirds of the way done, so on the home stretch, as well. I love this lacy design. It's all very motivating, people. Beautiful, beautiful work.

What's that? You say I offered fiber for one of my KAL participants? No, I haven't forgotten. It's just that I've had a sad event happening around me for the last month, and other things working against me, like not having a camera to snap pictures with when I wanted to. And I haven't mentioned my car being vandalized, but I may have been distracted lately. But at last! First, let me list the participants of the Shawl KAL. And Helen, may I say, I haven't heard from you since you first left a comment, and it appears you're blogless (or I can't find yours, at any rate). Silly girl. How have you been doing?

Here they are:

Asa, Carrie, Erin, Tala, Arleta, Liz, Jennifer, Brigitte, Beth, Helen, Cheryl, Jenni, Del, Laurie, Rachel and Lella. I love linking. I do. It's fun.

So that made 16 participants, and thank you all for joining up. It's absolutely great to have an idea, and find people so willing to play your game. The fiber I chose for a prize is a laceweight, 70% Alpaca/30 % Silk, called Fino, by Alpaca with a Twist. It measures at 3.5 ounces (100 grams) and is 875 yards. It's the only Alpaca/Silk sold at my LYS, and that's the kind I wanted. I haven't tried it out yet myself, but I'm going to. And doesn't alpaca and silk just sound nice? I picked a very pretty green for the color, and I hope the winner likes it. I have used the entirely random method of allowing my three-year-old to draw a number out of a hat, and the winner is .... Jenni! Congratulations! I'll be getting ahold of you via email or comment on your blog. And keep knitting, people. This isn't the end. I just hate saying that I'm going to give fiber, and then getting distracted by my life. Keep sending pictures, because we're still watching your progress =) And just to keep people happy, I'll have another drawing at the end of the summer, after we've enjoyed all of the photos.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


My new toy arrived in the mail yesterday. I didn't have my camera (dead batteries), so I had to wait to use it, because I am a good blogger! But now this baby is up and running, and going to help me create bee-utiful handspun. Isn't he cute in his little yarny jacket?

I've been spindling very thin yarn for awhile - no idea what I'm doing, really, but gee I'm having fun. I wanted to learn to two-ply, and I happened upon this site from another blogger, can't remember who. (If it was you, give a yell out in comments, eh?) This lady has allowed me to jump over all tutorials and books, and advice if there were anyone around to give me any, and she has a tool that will let me spindle from both ends of my spinning, allowing me to not have to create another spindle's worth of yarn. Bless her. I didn't want to have to try to guess when to stop so I'd get the same amount as the first time, when I spin another spindle's worth. This is much better. I don't have to guess. I'll just count my yardage when I'm done, and see if I want to spin more.

And lookee! I spun a bit and washed it, and I got something very close to a fingering weight! See the comparison? My yarn would be on the right; Wildfoote, what I knit my shawl with, is on the left. I'm very happy. The more I learn about spinning, the more I realize you have to worry about spinning too tightly, which makes the yarn, well, not soft, like we all like it. But I don't want the two strands to come apart as I'm working with it, either. So I'm crossing my fingers on this one. I bought enough roving from Knitterly Things to spin yarn for gloves, hat and scarf (I hope), and this fingering weight will go to making the gloves.

Also, in one of my spare moments, I knit up a bath cloth for my daughter! She hugged it when she saw it - awww. My sister-in-law allowed as to how her son would love one, in calico colors (hmm), and I thought I'd make one for my little one's friend, just cuz they're so darned easy! They do take a full skein of Sugar'n'Cream, though, folks. I'm so glad I didn't look in the bag to see how much yarn I had left as I was doing the ears. I'd have choked. No, I can't show you. There was so little that I actually threw it away.

The weather is still cold here. I think we got our two weeks of summer early. This last weekend, I actually saw a tree changing color. (Don't throw things. I am but the messenger) How can that be in mid-July??? I'm just hoping we get our annual Indian summer, 'round about August.

On the move...

My girlfriend dropped her three kids off today, so she could go home and pack. Due to Michigan's truly sucky economy, she and her family are moving to Maryland. It's a big change for her kids, and I feel badly. I'm sorry for myself, of course, because this friend is very close to my heart. With our children the same ages, we find a lot of things to share about their days and tantrums, etc... SO anyway, I made cookies and listened to the girls, and in general did what little I could to make them feel good for a few hours. We spoke positively of adventures and new friends, while inside I was so sad. There's no picture, because the batteries in the camera died, but I made her some socks and a tablerunner, because that's what we do, we crafters. We give gifts to show what's in our hearts, in the hope that part of us will travel with them.

You know how it is when your brain finally stops running around, chasing its thoughts, searching for the right thing to say? And then, out of nowhere, your mouth opens and speaks your most basic, heartfelt truth? I'm so grateful for that moment, when I finally said the sentence that was lurking there, under my consciousness.

The sun was out today, and I was standing in the yard with my friend Mary. I was thinking back to the first time she came over, when we were just beginning our friendship. It was another sunny day like this one, and we were watching our kids play on the swings. That was when I discovered a certain kinship, that she didn't mind raking leaves to jump in, or stepping around doggie landmines in the backyard. I teased her about liking country music, and she tactfully didn't respond.

Since then, we've shared growing pains as we took our kids to school, vowed to not get involved when our children fought with each other, and traded baked goods, whenever the urge hit us to cook. I am really going to miss her soups.

I wish she could stay. I wish finances and responsible decisions allowed for a different outcome. Barring that, though, I'm really glad I got to say a simple truth. I've really enjoyed having you here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Some Show-and-Tell

More shawl pictures - yay! People have been busy knitting, no doubt about it. And I have the pictures to prove it. o.O

Here is a picture sent by Asa, who is knitting the Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl. I may have said it before, but I think this is quite an undertaking, and I'm very impressed, Asa. It's coming along beautifully!

Also knitting away on her shawl is Cheryl, who is knitting the Curved Shawl with Diamond Edging, from Victorian Lace Today. I tell her all the time, but I have to say again that I just love this color. I know there's some more of that yarn somewhere that wants to come home with me.

And last but definitely not least is the Gretchen shawl, by Zippiknits. It's very pretty, and one of just two circular shawls going in this KAL, at least so far! Nice work, Zippi!

Why, yes, I have been knitting after the finishing of my shawl, but I can't show anything to you. My husband has the camera with my pictures on it, and it would be way cuter to show you than tell you. I'm also back working on the Bonsai Tunic by Interweave Knits. The cottony yarn is still so, so soft. I love it. And I've been spinning! I tried the Andean Plying trick from this website, and it worked like a charm. However, since I can't do anything for more than a few minutes at a time, having yarn wrapped around my wrist while I spin it wasn't going to work for me. So I got on their website and ordered the Handy Andy Plyer! So I can now do two-ply yarn without having to have two different spools. I couldn't figure out how I was even going to come close to the same amount on each spool, and I didn't want to waste a bunch or have to break it - you know, yada yada. Sorry to the husband for taking the credit cards in the wrong direction, but what's a spinner to do? (Don't answer. Frugality has its time, and that time wasn't today)

I'm going to go break out some socks. We've got cold weather here! Thanks, all, for the pictures!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

About that shawl...

Okay, I'm bad. Chalk it up to being a newbie that I didn't give any shawl information =) My pattern for the shawl was Moonlight Sonata, and I used Wildfoote sock yarn, 100% wool, fingering weight. I want to try laceweight for my next shawl! (Next shawl, you say? Yes, yes. I got sucked into the Mystery Stole 3, but have no yarn) What I can't get over is how truly light and airy my shawl is. I thought it would feel more substantial once I got it finished. Perhaps blocking would add weight? Heehee. No, it feels like wearing nothing on my shoulders, but it surely is pretty.

I didn't glam up too much, but when LaurieM left that in the comments, I realized I was going to wear it with my shorts and t-shirt, so I waited for church on Sunday. Then it rained! We took the pictures, anyway.

Once in church, my daughter wore it for singing in the choir. See all of the choir? We've gotten very, very small, as we're right in between little kids at church, and kids having grown too old for the youth choir. Now, the two girls in this picture that are not mine are moving away, so the choir will be closed awhile, until more children grow. Sorry about the picture. I got one chance, since I was running the music, and it didn't come out so great.

Friday, July 06, 2007


It is a charm of shawls, I'm finding, that everyone would like one. Well, at my house, anyway. We were very concerned that this shawl would not be big enough. It looked very, very little when I was done knitting it, so small that my oldest daughter claimed it perfect for herself, before the baby decided it would be hers.

Then I proceeded with the blocking. I strung dental floss through the straight sides and, in this shawl's case, the neck. Well, I didn't, myself. I showed the oldest girl (so very, very hopeful she would get this shawl, poor thing) how, and set her to work on it.

Then we pulled all the dental floss straight, and it straightened out the edges of the shawl pretty nicely. See how it stretches out all of the loops around the neckline? If I'd had some nails to drive into the carpet, I could have wound that floss around them and really gotten a straight edge on the sides! As it is, I thought the floss was extremely helpful, and reduced the pinning by a lot. Then I pulled down and pinned the pretty scallops and turned on the fan! I really wanted to wear it to a family get-together tonight, as it would have made me feel good. But, alas, it will not dry in time. Still, so much for it being too small! The pattern said it would be 22 inches long by 60 inches wide, and I ended up with 26 1/2 by 70 inches! And I think I could have blocked it a good deal harder than I did. This isn't the final picture of the blocking. I straightened some little details out. But I have to say that, all in all, shawl knitting is the best knitting time I've had, umm, EVER.

I feel like I snuck in the back door of a riotous party, where everyone is having a great time, just laughing and feeling so darned good just to be there. And here I'd been walking by this building every day, thinking it was some ordinary business, having no idea how much fun was going on inside. And that's how I feel about shawl knitting. There's been a party going on near me all this time, and I didn't know about it. Even if I never thought I was a person to wear shawls, making them is the bees' knees. (And I am so wearing this shawl, EVERYWHERE) Even as I was doing the pretty neat picot bind-off, and ran out of yarn eight inches or so from the edge. Even then, it was fun. (I had more yarn. That helps) I'll show pictures of small hopeful people modeling the shawl, once it's dry. By the by, the middle child didn't ask for this shawl. She said she is waiting for the Dragone one to be done. Smart girl. =)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A New Shawl Participant!

Allow me introduce you to Rachel Cook, another blogger to fall under the shawl spell.... well, I'm not sure it's strictly a spell, but it's certainly my newest fascination. She's just started her Forest Canopy Shawl, in a pretty variegated yarn. I'm looking forward to seeing this one come along, as I've checked out the pattern, and it's for beginning lace knitters! Perfect for me! So I'm going to watch as Rachel gives this one a test run, and live vicariously through her. Don't you just love the yarn she chose? I think it goes perfectly with the name of the pattern. Very foresty and subtle. Love it.

As for my shawl, as so nicely requested by Bridgitte, you'll be seeing it very soon! I'm doing the bind-off, but as there are 377 stitches, and it's not a straight bind-off, but some little picot thing, I'll probably not get it done tonight. Still, if there are enough CSI: Miami shows on, you never know! In the spirit of hope and support, my husband ran into town and got me 150 straight pins. I don't think that's enough, but I'll raid my stash. Plus I'll try the dental floss thing for the straight edges, and hope for the best. In the meantime, here is a picture of Bridgitte's Kiri shawl she's got going on. She's using Kidsilk Haze, and it's pretty, pretty. I love the slight fuzziness of this yarn.

Oh, and after I get my shawl blocked and the pictures up (ooo, I can't wait!) I'm going to do the random drawing for some fiber! I'm thinking fingering weight yarn, as that's what I used. I mean, what else would you give as a prize for a shawl KAL, but shawl yarn? But I've admitted many times over that I'm a novice, so if there is another yarn weight that works best for shawls, is more generally accepted, et cetera, please leave a comment to me about it. I haven't purchased the prize yet, so I am easily persuadable at this point. Knit on, people! I'm certainly having fun, and I hope you are, too!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A little update, and another Beautiful Shawl!

Okay, the verdicts seem to have come in. It sounds a lot like on-line relationships have just as much chance of working out as any ordinary, run-of-the-mill, met at the office sort of relationships. There have been some wonderful success stories, and some that have flamed out. I stand corrected, and I see that sometimes they do work. Good on ya, guys.

My husband had his birthday yesterday. Time is racing by me lately, but we made it with the party and the presents! He is dedicated lately to solving the energy crisis, so there were a lot of gifts around the "Here's some money for your experiments and the odds and ends you need to carry them out" theme. I love that he's doing small projects at home to create energy. I don't feel like there's time to even think lately, myself, but that might be a side effect of being home with three little people so much, day after day. The other night, I met the hubby at the door, and said, "Good luck. They're crazy today." Then I went to the beach for an hour of quiet knitting. It was really refreshing, but when I got home, I could see it wasn't quite long enough. I walked in the door, the babe was crying in the crib, the husband was trying to medicate a nervous dog, and the older kids were trying to get their teeth inspected when he was working with the dog. It was a near thing that I didn't just ease back out the door before I was spotted.

Here's another shawl pic, this one by LaurieM from Issues with Knitting. The pattern is Frost Flowers and Leaves, and isn't it a beautiful shade of red? Sweet knitting, Laurie! Isn't this picture just inspiring? I am loving seeing everyone's work on this KAL. Fun, fun.

If you want to see someone knitting with a sock machine, check out this site. This fellow just started his blog, and I've never seen anything like this invention. Go give it a look if you have a chance. He's knitting socks with a hand-crank machine which looks just so cool. You know everyone on my list would be getting socks if I had one of these. It is really sweet looking. Who knew something like this even existed? He shows pictures of how he changes colors and makes ribbing, but I don't get how he turns the heel. Don't worry, I asked him to explain, so come look again after this first time. Then tell me - how neat is that???

I am so, so close to finishing my shawl. I believe I'll do the fiber drawing as soon as I finish mine, which is just a few rows away. Then, my first blocking attempt! I'm not sure which room is going to give up its original purpose when I get to the blocking stage, but I suspect the husband and I will be sleeping on the couch, while the shawl dries on the bed. Just a first guess, but who knows? This is a totally foreign land to me.

Happy Fourth of July - Independence Day here in America. We'll be spending it avoiding parades and playing at mom's. (Hi Mom) Thank heavens she is throwing a bash, because the Fourth snuck up on me just as quickly as my husband's birthday. I think that's why I'm up in the middle of the night. It's the only time of day that time seems to move normally anymore.