Monday, January 28, 2008

Some Like it Cold

I'm so excited. It finally snowed. There may be a good deal more of it on the way, too.

I took these pictures before work this morning while I was waiting for the Jeep to warm up. It was almost 8:00 and very, very cold.

Back in September, I quit my job working for my Mom-in-Law (a lovely lady and a very close friend) who owns a local drive-through espresso stand. I had been a barista for the last 6 years or so and though I still love coffee passionately, I became intensely burned out with my job. Working with family is mostly great, and I was always treated very well, but somehow I always ended up (with the exception of one weekly morning shift) working nights. It became hard on our family when my husband started driving truck and working a very early shift (he's up between 3 and 4:00 in the morning and goes to bed between 7 and 8:00 at night). It got to the point where we felt like we were only seeing each other one day a week. After a couple years of it something had to change, so I quit to stay at home and take care of our daughter. Things are a lot less stressful now and the house, though still a work in progress, is much cleaner.

Still, every once in a while there's an "emergency" and I get called in to work a shift or (as the case was today) to cover for a few hours. I'm not sure I would have worked if I new how slick and frightening the roads were going to be.

At least I'm already back home and getting to enjoy this.

It is so beautiful. I'll be able to enjoy it a lot more now that I know I wont have to go anywhere else in it for a while. I'm going to stay home and finish up the Zigzag (for real this time). All I have left is the sleeve cap on the second sleeve and then seaming it in after it's blocked. I'm ecstatic!

On another note, Saturday I was able to spend a few hours getting a lesson on dying fiber with Amelia from The Bellwether. Her blog, which you can find here is most informative and helpful. I've turned to it many, many times when I've hit bumps in the road with my spindling, wheel spinning, or pretty much any fiber-related problem I've had. So, of course I really like getting to spend time with her where I get to learn from her one on one. I also love getting to see her beautiful hand-spun yarns, some of which are available here. One time after a spinning lesson with her, she showed me some beautiful hand-spun boucle that still haunts me whenever I sit down to my wheel. So, thanks to Amelia, my Saturday was pretty great!

Well, the knitting (and laundry) is calling, so I'd better get moving.

Here's a cute picture of my dog, Boone. I was holding a piece of bacon for him, trying to get him to look at the camera and I was lucky enough to get this picture of him mid-wink. He'll wink for anyone with bacon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spinning for Henry

The last few days have been (for me) an endurance test of spinning as much of the merino for my Dad's henry as I can with a few 'breaks' of picking up the last sleeve of the Zigzag and working one 12-row repeat at a time. I have one bobbin filled with very fine singles and two bobbins that are partially filled. As for the Zigzag, there is only half of a sleeve left to knit. I'm almost done with all the increasing.

Supposedly, the 'weather report' for this weekend is calling for snow, possibly to last through Monday or Tuesday. I've been skunked every time they've said this so I'm not going to believe it until I see it myself, but if I keep to the Zigzag and knit like the wind, I can probably get it done before any snow does fall.

After all of the repetitious knitting and spinning I've been busy with over the last few days, I was very excited to find this one evening when I got home.

It's two pounds of lovely merino, patiently waiting to be dyed and spun. It's so soft. I am so excited!

Yesterday I bought five colors of Cushing's dye from Amelia at The Bellwether and today, after my husband gets home, I'm heading off to the thrift stores to finish shopping for more dying supplies. Mainly, I need to find an old stockpot with a lid and a steamer basket of some sort to fit inside and maybe a few glass jars. There are still several little things that I need to pick up, but they're all inexpensive and easy to find.

Once I have everything I need for the dying, I've arranged to borrow a kitchen scale to weigh out and separate the merino into proportionate amounts. I could eyeball it, but I'd really rather not. First off, I'm going to divide it in half, because one lb. of it is going to be for a zippered jacket for Paige. I want to divide the second lb. of it into somewhat even amounts for dying and spinning
(I have lots and lots of pretty 3-ply sock yarn in mind). I'm hoping that once I get going on it, it will move along nicely. Though the thought of an entire pound of fiber for 3-ply sock yarn does make make the mind reel when considering the marathon of spinning it will involve. I think it's going to be a very busy Spring.

P.S. I don't know how, but by some funky glitch, the photos have (as you can see) disappeared from my last blog entry. Which is silly, when the title of the blog is "See this?" because, you know, you can't. Hopefully it wont be happening again. If anyone knows why this happened or has any advice about it, please feel free to drop me a note about it in the comments.

Monday, January 21, 2008

See this?

This is all of the work that's left to be done on the Zigzag. I'm almost done. Once I finished the first sleeve I tried seaming it in and I tried it on and ended up being extremely disappointed with the results. So I ripped out my seams and soaked in in the washer.

After blocking it for a day I tried the seaming again, and this time, it came out as I hoped it would, like this.

It looks nice lying on the kitchen table and it also looks nice when I try it on. I am pleased. Also, seeing it looking so nice (especially since it didn't look completely dumpy on me when I tried it on) encouraged me to get the second sleeve going right away. Just a little bit longer...

Before finishing the sleeve I got to this point on the Moebius,

Which is where my first ball of yarn ran out. I have more, I've just been working on the things I really should (for a change).

Yesterday I was feeling very 'sweatered out' so I pulled out the merino for my Dad's Henry and started spinning away. I spun for probably 3 hours yesterday and for another hour today, and I have the bobbin,which was close to half-way full before I began, almost full now. I should be able to get it where I need it after dinner tonight.

I really want to get the rest of this stuff spun and plied and in every way dealt with, so I can spin the rest of the silk for Paige. I like drop spindling, but I'm too impatient for it right now. I also want to get the 6 ounces of pretty white alpaca I bought with knee socks in mind, dyed and spun up before spring gets here.

I have so many things going, and I'm glad that I'm actually making some real progress and getting through them. It will be fun when the end of this year comes and I can look back and see all the things that were finished- a little bit at a time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I can't stay on track with the knitting for very long.

I was zooming along on the first sleeve of the Zigzag and had even finished doing all of the increases for the sleeve when I saw this book on the shelf at the library. Even though I new it could lead to more anti-finishing trouble, I chose to ignore my good senses and I checked it out.
This book is fun. Very fun. It's fun to read and the patterns are simple and imaginative.

Almost every pattern in the book begins with a form of a Moebius band. I'd try to explain it, but I wouldn't do it justice. You just have to take a peek at the book to see. Actually, I needed to follow through the steps and make one. (This was one that my mind didn't 'get' from reading through it. I had to do one to understand how it works.)

However, knitting one to see how it worked, just wasn't enough. Once I knitted a little trial band, it only took 3-4 hours for me to decide that I probably wouldn't handle it well if I didn't get to knit one of the handbags from the book. This is what I have so far.

The colors are okay. Not my favorite but still kind of pretty. You have to keep in mind that I am using Patons classic merino that I found stuffed in a drawer. So I am still being (somewhat) virtuous in that I'm trying to use up all the yarn I already have. The only exception is the I-cord edging around the bag, that was necessary because all the colors in my stash that would have gone nicely with this blue would not have survived the long trip around the edges of the bag- there just wasn't enough left. And likewise, everything that I had enough of would have been hideous with this blue. In all fairness I did buy the yarn with a coupon.

The trip to look for the yarn was actually more than I bargained for. I took Paige with me and she had one of those moments at JoAnn's. She found this 'stuff your own bear kit' on a shelf and wouldn't leave it alone. I kept saying, "Mommy has to buy a new measuring tape." (the one she decided on a cranky whim to shred yesterday morning).

To which she replied, "I want to look. I need to look."

To which I instinctively replied, "Paige-y, I really don't think we're going to be able to get that." Which was immediately followed by a spilling of tears.

Now, you have to understand. I am not a mean, mean Mom (though Paige-y, at four years old, often emphatically insists I am) but I do have extremely rigid rules about not buying Paige things, with the exception of food, when we go out in public. Her father, my awesome husband, went through a phase when she was about two years old, and he started buying her a toy every time all of us left the house together. I know my hubby meant well and was just trying to be a loving father and all, but after this happened two or three times, Paige started throwing hellish tantrums every time I took her into a store. My personal guideline about fit throwing is that if she throws a tantrum to get what she wants, it's an iron-clad guarantee that she's not going to get it. I can't cave. She's a red head. If I let her tread on me even a little bit, she assumes the role of a 4-year-old dictator, barking commands at me, like

"Where's my milk, Mom? Come on, Mom, I want my milk. Schnell! Schneller!"

So If I want a peaceful trip to the store, I really can't give in. Last night, however, I said I'd see how much it was, because it had a mark-down sticker on it and it was on a 60% off sale shelf. It ended up being only twelve dollars. She had to clean her room to get it once we were home, which she did with lightning-like speed and she was well-warned before we left the store that the bear-stuffing kit was going to be "it" for a long time.

Hopefully, she'll mellow out. After all, she's still coming down from the Christmas high. Poor kid. She got stuck with old-school parents. You know, the loving, caring, "I know you don't like it now but it's really for your own good" kind of parents. Some day she'll understand. The hard part is being patient all the years she still doesn't.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I'm glad I can say...

I finally got some good knitting in this weekend.

The first of the Madder Ribbed Socks (from Knitting Vintage Socks- one of my favorite books) for the knit-a-long is done and it fits perfectly. I worked it as the pattern directs, except I substituted a French heel instead of the Dutch heel (which I'm not very fond of- they don't fit my foot very well) and I worked a flat toe instead of a pointed (for the same reason). The ribbing of this pattern is wonderful as it hugs the leg perfectly and the y
arn was like falling in love. This Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn is gorgeous. The exact color of the yarn wasn't really labeled on the band, but from what I can tell from looking online, this color is called 'Indian Summer'. It almost looks pink in some of the photographs I've taken, but to the eye it's all rust, brown and tan with little flecks here and there of bright red. I think I loved it so much because I used to wear these colors all the time as they're some of the few colors out there that 'work' for me, but at some point I must have gotten out of the habit of buying them. Right now I think I have only one sweater that's a chocolate shade of brown.

At least I now know what color(s) to look for when I start a new sweater.

The night I finished the sock, I took out my Spin-Dizzy (also purchased from The Bellwether ) and I spun up a little more silk. This little bit came out of the darker of the two batches. I had a terrible time trying to photograph it to where you could see the colors and this was the best I could get (against my pale-blue kitchen counter).

It has a little bit of pink and a lot of purple with peacock shades of green and blue. But as you can see, I didn't get much spinning done because...

Yesterday, I finally turned my attention back to the Zigzag. As of last night I had half of a sleeve and by the end of today I hope to have the other half. I'm optimistic about it and I figure I ought to have the sweater finished in 3-4 days. If for some stupid reason I do finish the sleeves and then decide to put off sewing them in, I hope some kind
ly soul will come up and slap some sense into me. After all, I think I finished knitting the body of this sweater almost a year ago.

At least I have my ever-thinning wardrobe and the cold weather motivating me to get it done.

P. S. This is the first mitten after washing and blocking. My color-work is still a little shoddy but it is only my second fair isle project. I'm not disappointed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

That's it...

This is as far as the mitten is going to get for now. I'm going to finish the thumb (but only because I need these needles to knit a sock) and then I'm putting it away for at least a couple of weeks, if not a couple of months.

I have to say, I like color knitting, but it takes it's toll. For the better part of a week, I have been knitting (though admittedly not much- there hasn't been much time for it) and this is all I have to show for my efforts. If I had been working on the sleeves for the Zigzag, I would probably be done with one if not both. I'm not satisfied with this the way I'd like to be. I'm so far along with this one, I don't want to rip it back, after all it does fit my hand and will work for it's intended use, but I'm going to make a solid list of my likes and dislikes and what I'm planning on doing differently before I make a second pair.

As for the silk I dyed the other day, one of the two portions came out with really light, pretty pastel colors- it reminds me of cotton candy, and while the second portion still has a lot of white in it, it also had much darker, bolder colors. It will be fun to see how they turn out. I spun up this little bit on my Jenkins Turkish Spindle which I got from
and I'm planning on spinning this up into a 3-ply sock yarn for Paige. She felt this silk and she (4 years old) actually asked me if I would make this into socks for her. Smart kid. I had no other plans for it so I guess it's hers.

And last but not least, I picked up some Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn today for a new pair of socks that I will probably be starting tomorrow. I think I'll knock out at least one sock before I pick up the sleeves for my sweater. Socks always lift my spirits.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Moving right along...

I'm going to make this one short and sweet because I really ought to be sleeping and not blogging. I finished the first half of the first mitten, which is exciting because now you can see what the pattern looks like. Pretty in a simple kind of way and not bad for only getting in a little knitting time this evening. For me the design brings back memories that are almost a little bit punk rock.

A portion of my afternoon was spent dying some pretty silk roving I bought when I was out with my lovely friend Maureen (who just knit her first hat-which turned out beautifully) and sitting at the wheel while the silk steamed. I finished filling the bobbin with the grey stuff...

And then Navajo plied it, and bathed it, and here it is hanging up to dry.

Then this, is my first try at dying any kind of roving. I'm liking the colors. I'm excited to see how it will spin up once it's dry.

If the yarn is even 3/4 as pretty as this stuff looks, I'm pretty sure I'll be happy with it.

And last but not least, those terribly, terribly wrong weather people lied about my precious snow again. It's cold, very cold, but unfortunately not white.

It's oh so quiet

My husband is back to work now. I loved having him home for a week, but I did miss how the house is perfectly silent in the morning before Paige wakes up. It also seems to be easier to keep up with everything around the house when he's working.

Yesterday I was hoping to get in some spinning time, but then I cut the tip of a most important spinning finger and decided to give the actual spinning a rest, though I do have some singles in need of Navajo plying, which I will try to do today.

The Mitten is coming along well. Again, I had almost no knitting time yesterday, but I did manage to get another inch or so knitted. Maybe today I'll get the better part of it done. When I finish the mittens, I'm going to be picking up the Zigzag to finish the sleeves and sew them on. I'm excited, that will mean that I'll have a new sweater to wear. It's great timing, too. This year has been on the warmer side and it's just now starting to get colder. It's supposed to snow today, I saw it on the forecast, myself. It feels like it just might happen, too.

As it is, it's almost here. I took this standing on our back porch, and you can see that the snow is already almost at the tree line. You can see it when it's snowing in the mountains and sometimes you can actually watch the snow coming in cloud down the mountain and sweeping right towards you. I hope I get to see that today.

I'm off to show that mitten who's boss.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


These mittens are giving me a tick. I have never made a pair of mittens before, and I'm not working from a pattern. It also doesn't help that I've had little or no time to knit for the last few days, since finishing the Knitting Pure and Simple Children's Neckdown Bolero for Paige.

I'm happy with the way it turned out, especially when considering that I knit it with inexpensive yarn (Lion Cotton-Ease). It looks very cute on Paige, and the patterns was so simple (I guess that's why they call it Knitting Pure and Simple) that I breezed right through it joyfully.

But these Mittens. I'm way too picky of a person to be knitting on the fly. I keep changing my mind as I go and ripping back and ripping and ripping. The first cast on I began working in a K2 P2 ribbing for the cuff and then I decided I didn't like it and I ripped that back. The next was a K4 P1 ribbing and it took me almost no time to decide that I didn't like that one either. Rip. This was try #3

It was okay. I worked the cuff in K2 P1 ribbing (aha! just right- for me, anyways) than began working the color pattern, which was coming along okay until I realized that it was too tight and these mittens, if finished as such, would be hand-numbing, tourniquet-style mittens. Rip. So I went up a needle size and ended up flipping the colors from the way I did them before, and this is all I've got at the moment.

I'm not unhappy. They fit on my hands comfortably now, and I think I like the light Celtic knot on top of the dark background better than the reverse. The Celtic knot chart came from a pattern I found online ages ago, called 'Matt's Socks' designed (I believe) by a Catherine Devine which I haven't been able to find again. I've looked quite a bit and it seems to be a ghost now. I haven't knit the socks yet, but I thought that little design would look good on the back of some mittens.

Tomorrow, I think I'm going to need a break from the mittens. I'm going to turn my attention to my spinning wheel and make some more of this...

I honestly don't remember what this is. I was not paying close attention when I bought it. Whatever it is, it's making a nice Navajo-plied, worsted weight yarn. I'm enjoying spinning it, though I don't know what it's going to become when it's done.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll get to spin while watching the snow fall outside.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Tuckered Out

This week my husband has been at home, on vacation from work. He chose to take this week off to celebrate his birthday (December 31st) which did go nicely. He ended up having several friends come over, including some from out of town, to spend the day and most of the night wide-eyed in front of the television with the XBOX 360.

His week of vacation will be over this next Monday and I have to say I don't think I've ever seen anyone stay so busy when they're given the opportunity to relax and rest.

This morning he was in the shower and out the door in a flash, off to work on our mechanic's computer. He came back home at about lunch time, letting me know that he also had several more things to do today, and that he was planning on taking our daughter and I along. So within a half an hour we rushed out to his parents house (so he could work on their computer) and so Paige could play with Grandma's cats. The blue one is Smokey,

and the white one is Toby (who wasn't thrilled about all the extra attention).

Afterward we were off to lunch and then the barber, then finally home for a few minutes before we left for dinner with friends that he planned on a whim this morning. I have barely been home at all today and I am exhausted.

Sadly, I've knitted almost nothing today which also usually makes for a slightly cranky me. I am proud of myself that I did dig in and get some things done around the house this morning, though I feel like I've barely had time to breathe.

Tomorrow my husband will be driving out of town with his brother and will probably be gone for most of the day. I'm hoping to sit and work out a plan for some mittens I'd like to knit. It is getting colder and I'd like to at least pretend that if I knit some mitten's it will bring the snow. I love snow. I do enjoy all kinds of weather, but when it's as cold out as it has been and all you're seeing is rain, and all you feel is wet, you really start to crave a little of this...

For the last three weeks or so the weather forecasts have been frequently calling for snow, though we've been skunked every time.

It just isn't right to lead people on when it comes to snow.

Getting it together...

I suppose I am like most Americans in that whenever a new year rolls in, I always make a plan of how I'm going to 'get it together'. Though now after several years of this I'm beginning to notice that every year I seem to be managing to lose 'it' a little bit more. I'm not sure what my problem is, but I am hoping that something will manage to fall into place.

This year I will be turning 28 years old, which isn't bothering me at all. (For the record I'm planning on living 120 years, at least- which, I guess, means that this year the french fries and Mexican food are probably going to have to go.) What is bothering me is that I seem to remember at one time being able to handle life and all that comes with it much better than I am now.

I can remember a time when I was fully able to keep up with everything that I needed to do-
the cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill paying and grocery shopping, and all of this on top of working a full-time job. Then my husband and I had our daughter, and I took ten months off from work and was still managing to keep up with everything.

Then I went back to work and with the baby & husband, home and part-time job, things kind of teetered on the edge for a while, until the knitting came. As much as it hurts for me to admit this to myself I know that's when the house and yard took a major hit. I never imagined that such a simple craft, which was originally intended to be a hobby to keep myself busy while my hubby gamed online in his off time, would overtake my senses. Over the last 3 years my poor house has gradually fallen into a sad state of disorganized disrepair and I have become a much better knitter.

Times have changed a bit, and in September I put in my notice at work and exchanged it for the role of a stay-at-home mom. In my time at home I've gradually been flirting with all of the work that needs to be done around here, and while I have accomplished a few of the larger tasks on my list there is still an overwhelming amount of work to be done. The hard part for me, will be remembering how do get it all done a little bit at a time. Finding something each day that needs to be done and then doing it. It sounds so easy.

This year I'm going to have to pull myself together and re-learn how to manage my time efficiently and find some balance in life. The knitting will happen in and over time, but the house can't wait any longer.