Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year and great socks to all!

Well, the Misses Lime and Violet have challenged their readers to add up all their sock yarn yardage and figure out how many miles of sock yarn they had. Turns out I had a grand total of 5349 yards which equals 3.03 miles. Of Yarn.

I'm thinking I might make about eight pairs of socks this year - My guess is that I'll use up about 2 miles of sock yarn. Now, this jives in nicely with the idea of a Yarn Diet as described by blogger, Wendy from Wendy Knits!. After long semi-serious discussion, she has come up the idea of "Knit from your Stash 2007" and I am reluctantly thinking this is a good idea.

The Guidelines for L-B and Wendy's Knit-from-your-stash-a-thon:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months.

2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone?

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.

4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.

I think I can live with this! Especially when I walk through yarn stores with friends and say things like, "Yorkshire Tweed, I love that yarn. I have 15 skeins at home." 15 skeins??! This is a problem. I have the yarn for at least three sweaters, two purses, three shawls and many pairs of socks as well as at least two baby sweaters. Honey, if I could only make this many items this year, I would be knitting into 2008.

And for the big giveaway this past week? No photos but I Freecycled a flip top box of large pieces of fabric. Each piece was at least four feet and some as big as six feet. I originally bought the fabric for medieval costumes and this parting was only one box of four that I really should part with. But one box at a time.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, aim high.

Well, I guess I agree. Who wouldn't want to be like JFK? I just wonder what he would knit?

You Are Most Like John F. Kennedy

You live a fairy tale life that most people envy.
And while you may have a few dark secrets, few people know them.

I've mostly spent the day getting organized for a New Year's Eve day party and photographing my stash for L&V's Knit your Sock Stash 2007. I had to do a little research about Sandnes' Smart Superwash yarn - turns out it CAN be considered a sock yarn. Yikes! That adds nine more skeins to the stash!

Once I get out the calculator, I'll let you know the final yardage I am planning to actually knit in 2007.

Pretty colors, aren't they?

Monday, December 25, 2006

A last minute Christmas in the bag!

So, I think I may be forgiven for not posting the last few days. Like many knitters, I was feverishly knitting until the last minute last night. As my DH brought down the presents, I was still sitting on the couch finishing my second pair of Fetching mitts. I probably could have had the evening off if I hadn't have taken an afternoon nap. I see on other blogs that terrible colds are making the rounds of North America and I am still under the weather. Sick. Tired. Drippy. So, I chose to sleep during the day and knit during the evening. It wasn't too bad since all our wrapping was done and VH1 was running all Christmas videos.

At least I can show a picture of the mitts in action.

I also managed to drop off the Saturday Seven a day early at Saint John the Evangelist Church in Saint Paul. Pretty simple leavings this week - I just didn't have the time to really take stock of what we should be pruning. Two books, a bag of toddler clothing, a pile of teenage girl clothing (I don't know where that came from - her closet is still as packed as before) and three Christmas ornaments. Sometimes your tastes just change and I knew we wouldn't be putting these up again. But someone else will want all of this and that's what makes this so much better than taking a trip to the landfill.

We didn't end up having a white Christmas after all. With 40 degrees F. as the high today, anything that arrived on Friday is long gone. Slush is a poor substitute for snow. I heard tonight that this is the first December 25 with no measurable snowfall since snowfall recording begain in Duluth in 1875.


Happy Holidays anyway and a Peaceful New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Anatomy of a Christmas: 2006 (or - Two down, one to go)

Today, the snow finally arrived. Everyone in Minnesota has been complaining about having a brown Christmas but it's actually been quite nice. Low 40's F. and dry for weeks. I even found new leaf and flower buds on the honeysuckle vine on my garage. Well, that's long gone now. It's wet, snowy and 34 degrees F. Snow is the first step towards making things look holiday-ish around here.

In the meantime, I finished my Fetching mitts in RYC's Cashsoft Aran in Forrest green. They were truly the easy products that everyone says. Unfortunately, I am completely unable to produce the picot edging that is part of the design. Instead, I made up a purled bind off that seemed a little ruffly. It's not quite the right thing but, hey, it's three days before Christmas. Finishing gifts is the second step on the path to Christmas.

The Sheep(less) Tote is now finished as well. I tried to pose a photo that showed off the side pockets but I had nothing but batting to put inside it. I think I am going to make a plastic canvas insert for the bottom to give it more shape. The batting is the Monster Mashup that I made from my Halloween-themed Fiber Exchange. I had to put away the spinning wheel, however, to make room for my Monday Night Book Club holiday party. We had a great time, reading our annual Holiday Play aloud. This year, we read "The Miss Firecracker Contest" by Beth Henley.

The third and final step? Getting the remaining gifts in the mail. My parents were going to spend the holidays with us here in Minnesota but some minor medical problems have kept them from flying. So, their presents will have to become New Year's Gifts and only if I get them in the mail tomorrow!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

One for the money (or lack thereof)

Since I am still so far under the weather that I could give you the forecast in Sydney (partly cloudy, 11 degrees C. - Thanks, David Reidy!), I can only account for one single bag of giveaways this week. There were more than seven items in it. I did not take a picture. Some summer skirts, several items of outgrown toddler clothing, a set of sheets and two books. Trust me. It's all gone.

Knitting wise, I'm officially finished with my felted knitting tote and it's upstairs drying right now.

The pictures aren't very attractive because it was still quite damp. I plan on doing a little steaming/shaping tomorrow. My favorite parts are the side pockets for knitting needles.

I did have my yearly "Dog intrudes into Knitting Bag" meltdown this week when Zelda the German Shepherd played a little catch with one of my just-completed "Mrs. Beeton's" ruffly wristlets. As she ate most of the beaded cast on of one cuff, I had a blurry vision of me having to reknit a whole new cuff. Instead, I opted to figure out how to snip out the damaged Kidsilk Haze, bind off the damaged yarn, rebead the missing beads onto new Kidsilk Haze, knit into the existing cuff stitches and then bind the whole thing so that the new blended into the old.

See how she mocks me with this relaxed pose! Zelda is actually the Foul Fiend of Knitting.

The only good thing about this 1/2 days work is - Kidsilk Haze (a 70% Super Kid mohair/30% Silk blend - I actually used Kidsilk Night in the turquoise blue Oberon colorway) Fuzzes. I was able to fluff up all the new stitches to make them match the "mouthed-but-not-eaten" existing stitches. The bottom cuff is actually the one with the redone cast on. The beads aren't in quite the right place but the rest looks fine.

Luckily, the other recipients of cuffs on my Christmas list asked for plainer mitts so I am casting on for some of the ever-popular Fetching mitts from Knitty in Rowan Cashsoft Aran - a great Burnt Sienna kind of colorway. I think I'll make some of the Voodoo wristwarmers if I've got enough time.

For bigger works, I've also started my string bag gift again. The first cast on turned into a puddle of red (as Miss Lime of Lime n' Violet calls it) "catyack." Right now, my only trouble is that my Addi Turbos are too blunt to make this an easy knit. It's definitely a carry-along kind of work. This afternoon, I was working on it while my daughters and Youngest Child were at play practice for our church Christmas pageant. In the knitterly equivalent of listening at the door, I was knitting along in the back of the church when, suddenly, I realized it was my boychild deserting the Shepherd gang and bolting for the back door. Unfortunately, after he was returned, I also realized he was the one leading the "Pizza, pizza" chant. We got out of the following dinner as soon as possible.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Welcome Back, Knitter!

One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.

-Rabbi Harold Kushner

This is absolutely true. A bad cold has been making the rounds at my house. First Middle Daughter, then Youngest Child, then me and now Dear Husband. At first, I didn't mind. All the extra time at home would be good for my Christmas Knitting. Everyone needs a little down time, afterall. But then I got the Bad Cold and it was a doozy. Dizziness, headache, earache, cough, sore throat - everything little germ was having a holiday inside me. By the end of the day, when my cold medicine was working full strength, I barely had the energy to sit in a chair and knit a row or two.

And family life was moving onward and upward so I actually never got to go to bed. Instead, I was driving, running errands and Christmas shopping. I think that was the big mistake - everyone else got to go straight to bed for two days and do nothing but eat a little toast and drink tea, nap a little and then nap some more. Me - I was on the go.

Which explains the lack of posting and my missing Saturday Seven. And the fact that I am still sick with the "Cough that makes my lungs pop out" while everyone else is better. Now, if I can only catch up with the laundry, the present wrapping, the Christmas card sending and the baking. All things I actually like doing (not the laundry!) but just need a little more energy first.

I did actually give away items last week. First, I had to make them, however. My church home, Randolph Heights Presbyterian Church, has a Mitten Tree every holiday season where we collect hats, scarves and mittens for a Women and Families Shelter. The woman who taught me to knit, Mary, now does nothing but knit mittens all year round for the tree. She also developed a simple but warm, double-layer pattern for fleece mittens. I usually sponsor a mitten sewing workshop every year and actually had about 15 pairs of cut-out but not sewn mittens leftover from last year. Since there was no way I was going to be able to knit any mittens this year, I sat down every evening and sewed mittens. Eight pairs went to the tree on Sunday and I have four more pairs cut out and ready to sew. This is what my dining room looks like right now.

I am really looking forward to getting this finished. Knitting wise, I did finish the Mrs. Beeton wristlets and I am down to the I-cord straps on my felted Noro bag. I'll cast on another bag this week and then finish up my other set of wristlets next week. No Christmas stockings or felted door decorations this year - maybe I'll start in July next year!

In other health related news, many of you knitters have been listening to the Lime and Violet podcast. Miss Violet has written about finding a lump in her breast and is now is negotiations with her insurance company over her care. The Lime and Violet podscast homepage is accepting donations to help pay her very large deductible which will re-set again at the start of the new year. Please consider making a donation, even if you don't listen to her, and consider it as giving the gift of good health. Try it - you'll like it! And if you love a knitter, consider buying Lisa Souza's "Violet's Pink Ribbon" colorway in yarn, sock yarn or roving. Her work is excellent and a potion of the proceeds go to Miss Violet's health care fund.

Now, go home and get some rest tonight.

Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos - the trees, the clouds, everything.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, December 02, 2006

So simple.

Today's seven was simple. Probably some people would say too simple but they were seven things that really needed to go. I bagged up seven pairs of curtains today. They used to hang in my parlor and living room. I made them about 13 years ago as a stopgap measure but I never got around to replacing them. Well, that day finely arrived and now, I have curtains to spare. They are still quite usable and would work for (several) young person's rooms as they are made of washable polyester. Off they go to St. John the Evangelist's big sale.

It's kind of sad to let a piece of your history go but I am ready, ready, ready.

Craft-wise, Good Friend Melissa and I ran over to Craft-O-Rama, the No-Coast Craft Show, in Minneapolis. It was a great show - very wide ranging - and we both bought some great gifts. I only wish that there was more fiber. A lot of inspired knitting but no hand spun or hand-dyed yarn.

At home, I was knitting mini-socks and mittens all week for a Girl Scout craft sale. I don't know what I was thinking because I didn't take a picture of any of them. More Christmas present knitting as well - yes, for people who read this blog! I'm looking forward to seeing how these are received.

This year, for the first time, we decided to make a real gingerbread house. We had a shaky time making the dough - thanks, dear Husband, for your pie-dough/cookie rolling expertise! - and icing. Everyone liked that part. Middle Daughter even revealed that she used to eat the ones that they made in school. I hated to tell her that they were usually made with glue mixed into the icing! Notice the pan of hard candy "glass" and extra gingerbread boys behind the house. We give Martha Stewart a run for her money! The gingerbread house is still a little shaky. We had to go heavy on the icing cement because we had definite structural issues. No steel girders here, we use holiday ribbon. Tomorrow, when things are really firm, the decorating begins anew!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quickie update - great craft/art show! is having the coolest craft show this upcoming Saturday, Dec. 2, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the Midtown Global Marketplace in Minneapolis. As soon as I drop one child off at the SATs and one at Lego League (we're a geeky family), it's off to craft heaven. La, la, la, yarn, fabric, stuff, la, la, la. . . . (she skips off in anticipation.)

Birthday booty, er, bounty . . .

Do these people know me or what? This is just the knitting-related portion of Sunday's birthday bounty. My sister sent the bulky yarn and the Lantern Moon needle sleeve and needles as well as some lovely stitch holders. I've always wanted some Lantern Moon items but held off because it seemed too expensive to buy for myself. Thanks, Chrissie!

Good Friend Melissa must have been stranded in a yarn shop because she gave me not one but three lovely knitting books, two skeins of KnitPicks yarn and some great wool wash. I know she is doing a lot of holiday knitting so we will have to have find some knitting time together to check out the great patterns in "Knitting for Peace."

There were other, non-knitting related presents as well. My husband remembered my plea for a new bicycle helmet (unfortunately, only slightly less nerdy than the one I had before but much better fitting) and my daughters all performed special music for Sunday's church service. I have the photographs to prove that they actually play instruments and (at least Kate does) sing in public. Lovely!

I really haven't had time to enjoy my new knit gear - I've been too busy knitting! I promised a few knitted tree socks for a Girl Scout craft sale and I've been also working on my first pair of Mrs. Beeton's ruffly wrist warmers. They've been giving me fits figuring out how to place the beads but I think I'll be able make the next pair more quickly now that I've got it figured out. More pictures to come.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Blog Day!

Well, it might not actually be today - in fact, the real date was November 14 - but I needed a few days to reflect. And come up with something. I've really enjoyed blogging even if it's in relative obscurity. I've also found so many other bloggers with similar interests and love of fiber that my blog reading has made quite a dent in my knitting! Knitting podcasts have become an addiction of mine - I listen via ITunes and my IPod everywhere - and I've been finding that knitting is truly an international obsession. One podcaster that I listen to lives in Japan and another, David Reidy, from Sticks and String, is in Australia. Finding these sites has been great - there are so many takes on knitting out there.

Myself, I've had a couple of knitting intensive days over the holiday weekend. I've been working on a pair of Mrs. Beeton's gauntlets from Brenda Dayne but the Rowan Kidsilk Haze that I'm using has been giving me fits! I cast on three times and consistently twisted the stitches so that I had a lovely Mobius strip of knitting. Not a wristlet. Gaaugh. I'll hopefully post a picture tomorrow.

As for this morning's giveaway - it was the easiest one yet. The two circular saws were posted on Freecycle and went the same day. The two bags of books, picture frame and cd of bagpipe music (yes, actual pipers piping) went to St. John the Evangelist for their next big sale. The big white thing - a canvas suit storage bag for a closet - the black dish shelf also went on Freecycle. They haven't gone yet but they will leave my property this week.

I'm expecting some more knitting time tomorrow - at least I hope so. It's my birthday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

At last, a full repeat!

One full repeat of Intelocking Balloons - unfortunately, now I need to pop away and make the wristlets that these will accompany. The Mrs. Beeton's wrist warmers are Christmas presents but I think the scarf will be a birthday present for the same girl.

The beaded cast on is a killer but the rest has been going well. I take photos tomorrow. I am hoping to use the long Thanksgiving weekend for a lot of knitting. My birthday is Sunday so I'm not really sure what is planned for that day. Casino Royale perhaps?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

OOOh, a new button!

I just knew this would be the spot for me - after all, I am making something in Noro during November - but now I found the button for this. Lovely. Fun. Something to make me knit faster!

Saturday fun!

I had a very busy today with our redecorating after painting (ie. hanging curtains and refilling bookshelves), cleaning and attending the Weavers Guild of Minnesota's Fiber Fest at the Textile Center of Minnesota

I bought some beautiful woven towels and tablerunners as Christmas presents and was very tempted by some beautiful wallhangings. My husband and I are going back tomorrow to take another look at a wallhanging for our parlor.

Today's Saturday Seven was very easy to sort out. You might have a hard time seeing the difference but there is a cream colored tablecloth as well as a mis-matched set of pink and floral sheets on that pile. The sheets are not a pair and do not match any sheets at my house. I think they came from my late Mother-in-law's house on a folding bed we inherited. If she was still around, I would offer them back but . . . The tablecloth has never been the right size for our dining room table so it was time to have it move on. The two books are merely the start of the book deluge as we sort out the book boxes in our garage's attic. At the end of my life, I do not want to have people looking at my left behinds and asking, "Why on earth did they keep that?"

I bought the black gloves for a cross country skiing trip but they were always too big and bulky. I put them in my car with our family's "distress bags." Not for us but to give to homeless people asking for help. Our church puts together large ziplock bags of essentials like socks, canned food, bottled water, personal items and over-the-counter medicines. The deacons sell them to church members who hand them out to people in need. I'll hand out the gloves with the next bag I give out. This isn't an every day situation but I drive a lot and often see people with "Help if you can" signs at the top of on-ramps.

The large paper folio we bought for a long-ago art project. The picture frame was another gift that I was saving from at least seven years ago. Everything today was easy to part with and will go to a local charity. I sorted them out earlier this week. I've found that it's a lot easier to think about why we are keeping or not keeping something when I set it aside for a few days. In fact, with all our cleaning, I think I've set aside at least four things already to give away next week!

Knitting wise, I've been fighting the good fight on the green Interlocking Balloons scarf. Only eight more repeats left! I'm starting the Mrs. Beeton gloves designed by Brenda Dayne
and these will go together as a gift. I am on the endless winter of knitting in the round on the Sheep Tote. Slog on, slog on, slog . . . on. . .

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Party with Oldest Daughter!

Although she really observed her birthday yesterday, today was the day we celebrated Oldest Daughter's 17th birthday. I felt a little bad making her do her chores but we are trying to finish painting and then clean up for friends, pizza and a trip to a hockey game tomorrow afternoon. Tonight was the family birthday dinner, cake (German Chocolate) and presents.

So, basically, she's worked this birthday angle for three days of partying! Hard to believe she is so wise!

So, what with all the birthday to-do, I have to hurry up and get in the Saturday Seven. I've been organizing our family photos for a few years and finally have worked my way through the copy-paper box full of miscellaneous photos. You know the kind, the extra copies of birthday photos and golf-outings that come your way. Well, I've been sorting them into subject matter and putting them into labeled photo envelopes in photo storage boxes. Underneath this pile of photos, I've been finding all kinds of things. One bag of stencils had almost as many memories as the photos. In the past, I've stencilled bedrooms, kitchens, and family rooms. I've saved the stencils even though I don't use them anymore. The two photo frames came from various family members but I could never find a place for them. The three rolls of Laura Ashley "Kate" wallpaper came from when we wallpapered our bathroom in our last house. I still love this paper. Lovely Middle Daughter donated a bag of clothes and a stack of Elementary School piano music. The last item was a favorite sweater that I've held onto for a long tim - since the 1980s. It was cotton and never fit flatteringly - but it had the best strip of appliqued leaves.

I can only hope to make leaves and berries like that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

. . . and seen again

I thought you might like a peek at the Interlocking Ballons scarf that I am working on for the Scarf Style knitalong. I picked this pattern because I love the undulating pattern but it is excruciating slow to knit. Usually, a repeating pattern has a right side and then a "knit or purl back" side but this often changes from side to side. Augh! I still like it but the design is not the easy point I was looking for. It will be a Christmas present - 8 more repeats of 44 lines more!

For relief, I am also working on the Fiber Trends "Sheep Tote" bag - a much easier felted style. I can almost close my eyes to knit this one! I am not putting the needle-felted sheep on the outside but I love all the extra pockets. I've never felted anything with pockets so I am looking forward to this treat.

The thread wrapped into the yarn creates a really interesting, almost aggressive texture that is very pretty when felted. Right now, however, those "jump out bumps" make me think I've dropped a stitch and I keep going back to check. So far - no problems.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Things seen . . .

Well, Saturday just got by me somehow - we had painting, cleaning, trips to the hardware store, dentist's appointments, etc. and I had a late afternoon/evening Movie Night with the Monday Night Book Club. We were celebrating Melissa's and Marti's BIG birthdays. You know that those are the kind of birthdays you can't just put out on the Internet So we went to see Sweet Land - a charming little Minnesota-made movie - and then went out to dinner at Beaujo's Wine Bar and Bistro in Edina. Very good food and really quite reasonable. The wines were great, too.

So, all this fun and frivolity took up the rest of Saturday. So there weren't any Saturday Seven photos. Here's what I had in mind.

I think I mentioned before that as I clean out my house, I've been finding both more and less to give away. I cleaned out my former girl scout supplies and came up with two very nice file boxes. One I am donating to my church library for library cataloging supplies and the other is going to Freecycle. The four books, two sets of mystery series, will go to the book exchange at my YWCA. The Seventh thing I didn't want to bring in from the garage. It's a a Fisher Price bed gate - the hinged gate thing that you use to help toddlers sleep in a big bed. Youngest Child moved from a crib into a toddler bed and never needed the bed gate. My older children never had a "toddler bed" and they always needed the bedgate. One daughter even fell out of bed once and broke her collar bone. Darn those high Victorian iron bedstands! We got rid of those a few years ago but I never got rid of the gate. It's going on Freecycle in the morning.

Knitting wise, I've been working on a felted bag in Noro - today was just boring garter stitch but I'm really enjoying the yarn. It's Noro Kuja - a funky yarn with a color-changing, contrasting thead wrapped around it. My colorway is mostly plum and green. It has a great felted texture because the thread doesn't felt. Kind of a flecked look. I'll take a picture and post soon, promise.

Good Night!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Soctoberfest Revels!

I finished Andy's Striped Socks in just the nick of time, late on Halloween night. Actually, I had to rip the toes out and redo them in black because of a funky little extra row that I put in way back by the heel of the first sock. That put off my striping pattern on the second sock as well. Despite this, they seem to fit well. Andy has very long, narrow feet with narrow heels so I always need to adapt his sock patterns. He is really a ragg sock kind of guy - he doesn't seem to like fancy socks - so almost all of his handknit socks are a variation on a ribbed sock.

Now that I have a little more free time, I worked on my Interlocking Balloons scarf from Scarf Style. I like the pattern but I think that I need to photocopy the page so I can cross out lines of graphing. And it's hand-dyed indigo/turquoise - a lovely color for bleak winter days.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Happy Halloween!

So this is the kind of fun a knitter (and spinner) gets up to! Spooky. Now, back to your regularly scheduled evening of knitting socks. Remember, candy coated chocolate doesn't get on your knitting!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday songs - -

Today's Saturday Seven was easy - I heard a discussion on the radio about the amount of junk people have in their cupboards and drawers and felt inspired to clean. Wednesday, I went through my hall closet, the "party drawer" in my dining room sideboard and my kitchen drawers. I didn't find any money but I did get rid of a lot of junk and pared out some things to give away. The red coat is a favorite but about 10 years old and - to be frank - has a dry-cleaning kind of smell. My mother bought me the blue coat when I graduated from college - that's 20 years ago! It's still quite nice but I am never going to be a size 8 again. The plastic bag is full of holiday candle holders. The pink lightshade came off a lamp from Andy's mother. I haven't used the yoga blocks and belts in my practice for over a year. The party lights and the picture frame - I'm not even sure where they came from. . But everything is quite usable and ready for someone else. Off to St. John's Huge Sale.

I spent a great deal of today traveling to hear my Middle Daughter sing in the ACDA of MN (American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota) 17th annual combined Men's Choir and Women's Choir Festival. She spent all day rehearsing and listening to great choirs and then performing. I got to hear her sing in the Abbey Church of Saint John's University and it was lovely. Great acoustics and plenty of light to knit by! I've turned the heel and started the foot of Andy's second sock. Hopefully, I'll get most of the way to the toe this evening.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Calling all multi-colored ninjas! (Or, dyeing to get to Halloween!)

And just for your viewing pleasure - a little pre-Halloween fun with Youngest Child. He's wearing a fiber batt I put together for my Halloween Fiber Exchange and a "Ninja Hat" that he made today. Now, how can he wear that AND carry his candy bag?

Actually, we spent the day around Ye Olde Dyepot . . .

I decided to take a page from Cast On's Brenda Dayne and try my hand at natural dyeing with avocado pits and skins. Also, I've been buying a lot of avocados lately and it seemed a waste not to give them a whirl. So whirl I did with my little Oscar - first the pits and then the skins.

Each batch went into a separate canning jar, then I covered the material with water and simmered them on the stove. After a very stinky day - the stuff smelled like bad meat! - I strained out the dye materials and then put a small amount of wool in each to dye. Just like Brenda said, the pits had a very nice dye liquor. In fact, the materials seemed perfect. The chopped pits changed from a white, slivered-almond appearance into chopped carrots right before

my eyes. The skins looked like green soup.

Despite my best efforts and a long time in the dye pot, you can see the results were not inspiring. In fact, it looked suspiciously - poopy. Yup, I think I can post that word here. So, I dyed the whole thing purple with Grape Jello and right now, plan to use it with my final Halloween Fiber Exchange yarn. Purple covers a multitude of sins!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pumpkin Moonshine - just in time for Halloween!

I finally got around to spinning my fibers from the Halloween Themed Fiber Swap I participated in. I laid out all the colors and decided to break them into two colorways. The first utilized orange roving, lime green lamb locks and copper metallic (sent by Velma) as well as a brown wool/alpaca roving I had on hand and some indigo/overdyed green roving. I further subdivided the material into two groups - one utilized the lamb locks and the second the copper metallic - for two different bobbins worth.

Because I simply picked bits and pieces of rovings and and hand fed them into the spinning wheel orifice, my first bobbin was very bumpy and organic looking. I brought out my carding machine and carded the second metallic grouping all together into roving. Thus, the second bobbin was very sleek and shiny - very easy to spin. I plied the two bobbins, steamed the yarn to set the twist and, voila, my own Pumpkin Moonshine! Named after the classic children's book by Tasha Tudor, this skein has shine for moonlight, brown for the stems, light green slubs of lamb locks for leaves, bright orange roving for the pumpkins and the green roving for the vines. I couldn't really come up with a "bug" themed name for this skein (I did consider box elder bugs but the colors weren't quite right!) but the remaining fiber/skein should be very spooky.

This second half of the fiber contains more orange, purple and green as well as some mixed blue-black of my own. I think I'll call it "Monster Mash." I'll post pictures of it when I am finished.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Nice try, dear!

For this Saturday Seven, I moved into the basement and garage attic storage areas. Once again, I had the obligatory two bags of something - this week, it was books - a stock pot I was saving some reason, an extra dog tie-out leash, a large plastic pitcher I bought originally for camping and - a full container of plaster of paris. The last item is a lovely large plastic dough container. A neighbor who knew I like to make bread bought me this but it was too large for my storage cupboards. I ended up keeping it in the basement and "out of sight" did equal "out of mind." I rarely used it. I have no idea why I had a full container of Plaster of Paris! I was astonished to see how much stuff in out in the garage! I think Andy might just be taking things he told me he threw away and putting them out in the garage. I'll just have to keep a better eye on him.

Today was a school release day in Minnesota so I had time to run the whole load over to Saint John the Evangelist. They had their "Huge Sale" on October 14th and now they are collecting again for their spring sale. They are a really dedicated group.

Knitting wise, I am working on the second sock of Soctoberfest. I also spent part of yesterday dyeing roving and yarn with my leftover indigo "liquor." It was so-so. I ended up overdyeing the whole bunch with a light turquoise. That actually looks really nice. The indigo makes a darker undertone. If I was naming this color, I'd call it "Ocean." Once I've spun the fleece, I might make a scarf from "Scarf Style." Once it's dried and spun, I'll post a picture.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Several days later, she was found in a puddle of wool.

No, you didn't miss a post. I just haven't had the time or energy to write anything about knitting. To start the festivities, I was out of town this past weekend at my 20th year college reunion. I had a much better time than I expected - some classmates were just as kind and funny as I remembered (send me that photo, Wendy!), some were just as stuffy as I remembered and some I just didn't remember. Ah well.

I did get a chance to stop by a local yarn store, the Otter Creek Store in Mercer, Pa. I picked up some natural roving and some skeins of a wool/alpaca blend, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, to dye with the indigo "liquor" I mixed up last week. I planned on doing that today but the cold I developed this weekend is slowing me way down. I keep droping stitches and unravelling my ball of yarn. I have been working on Andy's socks for Soctoberfest - the first one finished and the second on the ribbing.

Lovely Youngest Daughter and her Gnome Lounging Pajamas served as sock model. She couldn't actually wear the sock - Andy has abnormally large feet! I had to buy some black yarn for the sock toes because this pair is using one skein per foot.

I did have a chance to collect the Saturday Seven - an old scale, some tablecloths, a small tape player, two bags of teen clothing, a bag of little girls' dress up clothes and some adult clothing. I've been starting to enjoy the feeling of space when I open my hall closet! I'm going to start looking into my downstairs closets next. If I could only get Andy to let me work on the garage attic. . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Welcome winter! (Just don't tell Annie Modesitt . . .)

This is a weblog about knitting, not the weather, but I just had to point this out. The weather this week in Minnesota veered from lovely warm autumn on Saturday to windy winter today. Last week? My roses were blooming again and the geraniums are full of flowers. This week? I am harvesting all my indigo and getting out the snow shovel.

Right now, it's 28 degrees F. outside. I was just running around pulling down storm windows and making sure all the radiators are warm. This is crazy! I thought I had until November at least to buy a new winter coat!

What's on my needles is helping to make my world a warmer place. I finally pulled out Puggy's lovely Shruggy and buckled down to finish it. I've had a row gauge problem so I had to adjust my increases and decreases to occur more quickly. I am going to try and chart out what I did and send the results off to Puggy. My alpaca blend is very stretchy and warm but also slippery. I plan to take it to my 20th college reunion Saturday. Just a parade and daytime activities - nothing fancy - but it will be chilly!

For Socktoberfest, I am on the foot of Andy's first sock and hope to get to the toe tonight. I organized my needles today and found a neglected felted pumpkin project to get worked on this week. I also have to work some rows on the Brown Aran sweater and that baby sweater. I really should work on some Christmas projects this month as well.

The best thing about this week (besides those Margaritas, Marti!) is that my Halloween themed Fiber Swap package arrived. I sent mine out a while ago and was very impatient. I'm a Bad Waiter. My box came from Velma from California and had every thing from chocolate to green dyed lamb locks and bright orange roving. I'm trying to decide which way to go with the fleece. Perhaps these Halloween M&Ms she sent me will help me decide . . .

Oh and knitting designer and teacher Annie Modesitt - please continue thinking of moving to Minnesota - despite the snow. It's simply a freak accident. Never happened before! Really.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Marti - today is your day to shine!

As I have mentioned before, I was out of town this weekend gallivanting off to Wisconsin with the Monday Night Book Club at its Annual Fall Retreat. Due to an unnatural amount of illness, family stress and dog maintenance (funny, all of those things make me want to leave town!) - we were down to three out of the possible nine. All that meant is that Miss Marti (and Miss Heidi) - TODAY IS YOUR DAY!

Here's picture of lovely Marti across the street from Northwind Book and Fiber and Book in metropolitan Spooner, Wisconsin. Saturday was a lovely day to shop but we really only had time for Yarn/Books and lunch. Inside, the book selection was really nice for such a small shop. I picked up two of the next book club selections ("Tilt" by Elizabeth Burns and "Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen" by Julie Powell) as well the fabulous "A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns" by Barbara Walker. I've been checking this out regularly from the public library and it is excellent! It makes me want to knit every pattern stitch - I'm not so keen on the two-color patterns, however. Those are definitely dated.

See the charming Miss Heidi confer with Miss Marti over the floral paintings on display. Heidi is a great watercolorist - but I don't think she knits. Heidi? Any comments on this? Marti, author and engineer, also does not knit. We shall not speak of this.

In the fiber section, I went a bit overboard and bought four skeins of Artful Yarns' "Heavenly" yarn - two skeins each of
"Clouds" and "Trumpets." I am planning to make "Mrs. Beeton" wrist warmers from Brenda Dayne's pattern in Knitty as Christmas gifts. This yarn will be perfect.

After an uneventful relaxing weekend - we napped, watched movies, enjoyed the scenery, drank margaritas and attempted to use the hot -no, wait - "warm" tub, we drove home on Sunday just in time to fit in a short trip to the outlet malls.

My photography skills leave much to be desired. I'm the one in the corner, lurking and holding the camera.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Busy days at Chez Lazy - an oxymoron? I think not!

Well, I was so busy relaxing at the Monday Night Book Club Fall Retreat that I wasn't able to post the Saturday Seven this week. Actually, it was a pretty easy group to get rid of. First, I "offered" a child's potty chair and a large clear plastic tote on Twin Cities Freecycle board. They were quickly snapped up. Who knew that so many people needed a good storage tote? Both were in great condition but just not needed here so off they went. They left so quickly that I didn't have time to take my own photos but these show the exact objects. I am glad they found good homes.

The other items are a little more "knitting" related - I send a box of fiber goodies out to Joanna in New Jersey as part of the Halloween-themed fiber swap organized YarnPunk at Spinning on the Edge. Some of the box items I purchased so they don't count towards the Saturday Seven but the knitting pattern, the shetland fleece, the angora locks, the llama fiber and the notebooks I already had on hand. I thought the colors all reminded me of shadows so I sent a scary paperback, dark chocolate and beads so Joanna, my fiber swap partner at Knittygirl2006, could knit herself a cobwebby shawl. I can't wait to find out what I got my own fiber partner! I'll have to post pictures tomorrow of the MNBC Fall Retreat. We were down to just three out of the original nine members but that means, we all got our own beds! Lovely, relaxing, entertaining - and a lot of knitting time for me! Thanks, Marti!