Tag Archives: knitting

Writers Weekend 2017

Writers Weekend 2017

We’re back in the woods for another Writers Weekend (check out the tag for our previous WW adventures. Including turkeys).  We missed last year due to other commitments on everyone’s part, and all three of us really felt the loss of it.  So this year we all knew we had to do this, come hell or high water.  We did get a slightly later start than we like because Deb had a commitment Thursday night (darn that real life, anyway), so Friday morning we got all our kids out to school and then hit the road to the Poconos.  See below for how much stuff 3 writers need for 4 days away.  And that doesn’t include groceries.

Not as much as when we go camping, but it’s only for 3!

Day 1 is usually a wash.  We need to decompress from our day to day lives and get settled into the house.  Yesterday was no exception.  We got up here around 11, unloaded the car, made the beds, started warming up the house, and then went out for lunch and grocery shopping.  Lunch was at this run down looking diner that I’ve been past a million times going camping (our campground is about an hour past Deb’s mountain house).  The food was surprisingly good, although I think their meatloaf was actually their gyro meat.  And we bought a pie.  Because diner pie.  Then we went grocery shopping.  The nice thing about three grown women in a house together is we all take turns cooking, and we are mostly reasonable when we go shopping.  Yes, we always end up with too much snack food, but hey, at least it’s 75% healthy snack food! 7 bags and 4 dozen bottles of water later, we were off to Lowe’s and Walmart (shudder) to get new lamps for the house.  Deb always walks a fine line on these trips between being on vacation and being a rental owner.  We try to keep her on the more relaxing side of that line, but sometimes needs must.  This was at least easier than the year the gas fire wouldn’t turn on.  That wasn’t fun!

We got back home around 3:30, got unloaded and Nikki got the traditional WW Tikka Masala in the crockpot, then we all lounged around until dinner.  I got some software installed on my computer and played too much Minecraft while Deb did hockey research and Nikki actually did writing work (making the rest of us look bad.) But again, first day is a wash, so no stress.  I did spend some time that evening going through one of my seed catalogs, so that’s something off my list.

All my favorite places have fireplaces

I do have a goal list for the week

  1. Scripts for the podcast I’m planning – I need to write introduction and closing scripts, as well as actually coming up with a name.  I want to record the demo by the end of the month, so I need to get cracking
  2. Oestara ritual – I’m leading the Oestara ritual for Gaia’s Rainbow this month and need to actually get it written
  3. Sherlock shawl test knit – this is due back to the designer by the end of the month.  I’m on clue 3 of 9…
  4. Finish my mom’s shawl.  Before she hunts me down with knives.
  5. Write and bank a few blog posts – Theoretically March is a blog every day month.  Yeah, no.  Maybe April
  6. Garden plan – Spring’s coming almost faster than I’d like.  I need to get seeds started, so I need to get, you know, seeds.

I think I’m off to a good start.  Last night I got the recording software installed on my laptop so I can use it as my onsite podcasting studio. I also got my volunteer application in to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in New Orleans in June.  If I can get that, it pays my attendance fee ($350.  Oof.) and I just have to figure out travel and accommodations. (Also oof.)  And I got through one of my seed catalogs, the one I’ll primarily be ordering from this year.  (Johnny’s Selected Seeds, for anyone who’s curious.)

Slept kind of rocky last night, either really hard or wide awake.  But I woke up with the basic ideas for the ritual, so this morning I worked on developing that.  The theme is eggs and seeds.  For our working, we’re going to make seed eggs (basically seed bombs shaped like eggs).  So I researched seed bomb how-to’s, ordered the matrix for it and the seeds, and got the rough outline written.  I still have to write the cast and calls and a quick charging meditation, but that’s pretty easy once the how to’s and why for’s are figured out.  I think there will then be a nap.  Then I want to finish Clue 3 on the shawl, and then I can go through another seed catalog.  And poke at my garden plot maps to make sure I have room for everything, or that I’ve filled everything.  I’m never sure which I’m going to end up at!

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The Battle is Real

The Battle is Real

(Yup, missed yesterday.  Oh well, it was almost a perfect month!)

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The Battle of the Five Armies Shawl by AlterLace

This is the shawl that never ends.  Literally.

I started it a year and a half ago.  Although technically it started in July of 2014 when I spun the yarn.  But the cast on date for this bugger was January 15, 2015.  It was supposed to be a test night for a mystery knit along (basically, you get the pattern in sections over time instead of getting the whole pattern at once.)  I did pretty good for the first 4-5 clues, and I think gave good feedback to the designer.  But then Clue 6 was feather and fan stitch.  I’m miserable at F&F.  So finally I put it in time out to think about what it had done.

I didn’t pick it up again until this summer.

Somehow I made it through the F&F but then I started to run out of my handspun.  I had expected I would, so I laid in a stash of black fingering weight to continue on with.  Except I started to doubt my own judgement on the weight of my handspun, so I decided to knit the commercial stuff doubled.  Got halfway through Clue 8 before I accepted that no, this fabric was entirely two dense (and I’d gone through almost 800 yds of yarn with no end in sight) and ripped it all back to my lifeline in Clue 7 and started it over.

Finally got to the latter rows of Clue 9, and I optimistically thought that I might be able to finish it to wear to Rhinebeck.  But no, each lace row is taking me 3 hours (860 stitches per row, beyotch!), so I gave up that pipe dream.

But I am determined.  The end is in sight.  I am committed to doing at least one row a day until it is done.  I only have 8 rows and the bind-off left.

With any luck, I can wear it for Samhain.

(This is a beautiful and well written pattern, despite my whinging.  Check it and AlterLace’s other shawl patterns out on Ravelry.  She keeps promising us a Sherlock themed pattern…)

Blergh

Blergh

I’m still sick, so have a visual flashback of last week.

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signs of a knitter in residence

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Morning tea in one of the two mugs in the cottage. At least it’s a cute one!

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Cool ironwork on the Colony Cafe.

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Looking out over the Catskills. Very Sleepy Hollow.

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We didn’t even notice these carvings at first. So lovely. I’m glad we did!

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Another shot of Betty the tattoo dog. She was a sweetie. For a dog.

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Maxfield Parrish sky.

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One of the many slate walls behind the cottage. Again, very Sleepy Hollow.

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Saugerties Lighthouse. Such a lovely place. The second floor is actually a B&B! (but totally out of my price range…)

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The Festival before the deluge!

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Believe it or not, I didn’t get enough. I need one more skein of each.

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My final haul, not including two bags of soup mix and one jar of … stuff. Kind of a dip, kind of a chutney. Thing. Yummy, though!

Okay, going back to bed now. Bye!

Three Bags Full

Three Bags Full

Yesterday was a quiet day. Intentionally.  We had nothing planned, nowhere to go, nobody to see.

So of course, the day before attending one of the biggest fiber events on the East Coast, I had a radical notion.  Let’s check out a local yarn shop!

::facepalm::

There isn’t one in Woodstock, but there is one in nearby Saugerties, The Perfect Blend.  And it is.  Yarn and tea.  What could be better?  It was a beautiful day, so out we went.  It’s only a twenty minute drive, so we got to do some leaf peeping on the way.  The Catskills are a gorgeous blend of greens and yellows and oranges right now, the orange becoming even more dominant in the few days we’ve been here.  It was a lovely drive to a lovely little shop.  They had a nice selection of all different yarns (I will not buy laceweight alpaca.  I do not KNIT laceweight anything.  I don’t care how lustrous and soft and tempting it is.)

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I did buy one souvenir skein of yarn and one Christmas present that I’m very excited about.  Nikki got almost exactly the same things I did (shared brain in action!) All in all, I think we showed amazing restraint.  Certainly more than the lady from NC who was there at the same time with armloads of yarn!

After that, we went exploring.  I kept seeing signs for the Saugerties lighthouse.  Which, hello, inland!  Lighthouse?  Really?  Yes, really!  We wound our way down to the edge of the Hudson River and then took a half mile hike out to a small Victorian lighthouse jutting out into the river where it joins with the Esopus.

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As we wound our way back towards town, we came across an old cemetery and a lovely old church.  The sign read St. Mary of the Snow, and turned out, I learned through research later, that it was the first Catholic church built upstate.

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I didn’t take enough pictures of this beautiful building, but I had to get the windows.  I can recognize Tiffany windows just about anywhere.  The cemetery was interesting, built into the side of a hill, with 200 year old stones that have heaved some from the winter.  It looks like a prototypical haunted cemetery.  I can just imagine how it looks at night!  This had originally served a predominantly Irish community, so Irish that many of those older stones were labeled with the name of the county in Ireland where the deceased had come from.  It’s fallen victim to the same consolidations that many Catholic churches face today (both the Victorian rectory and the nearby school were closed).  I hope the parish survives, though.

After that we came home for lunch, naps, reading and just hanging out.  Went out to dinner, hoping to beat the Woodstock Film Festival crowd, although town was starting to get a bit busy.  We came home intending to catch up on watching Great British Bake-Off, but both of us were falling asleep by the first showstopper, so we called it a night and went to bed just after 9.

Only to be woken up at 11:30 by something crashing in the kitchen.

I was the brave one who went to check it out, only to find the roll of saran wrap on the floor and half the previously untouched loaf of challah gone.  I had just said to Nikki that afternoon that I was surprised we hadn’t had critters, as this place does seem like it would be prone to them.  Little jerk just had to prove me wrong!

We were up around 7 and on the way to Rhinebeck by 7:45 with a stop at Bread Alone for croissants and coffee/tea.  We have learned through long, hard experience to get there as early as possible, but it was so nice not having to get on the road at 5:30 for a change!  We ran into no traffic and got to park right near the gate at 8:30.  In line, we ran into Deb and Kathy and the rest of the Quakertown crew, which was such a lovely surprise!  So we hung out with them until the gates opened, and then hit the ground running.

We have a system down at this point.  First the buildings, as they get crowded faster, then the barns, then any other side stalls.  We did pretty well, for a while.  WE checked out the fleece sale.  I didn’t buy anything (although it came close), but I hadn’t realized that the breed of the year this year was Gotland, so we got to fondle all the Gotland fibers and I learned a lot talking to the breeders who were there, as well as those in the breed barn later on.  For anyone who doesn’t know, Gotland is the breed I hope to have when I get my farm.  Fun fact: most people who are allergic to wool are fine with Gotland.  And it doesn’t felt much when washed!

We surprised ourselves in the food building and found a number of things we intended to go back for, including some very nice wine.  I got spit on by an alpaca.  Maybe.  Maybe she just blew really hard.  If’ I’d been wearing a hat, I wouldn’t have been after that!

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Not the offended alpaca. Because these are llamas. I think.

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A goat picture for my mother. They like her more than they like me. The feeling is mutual

The seal on my wallet broke when we hit the Sheepshed, though.  I had expected it would.  I knew I needed another pound of Gotland fiber from them. (Sensing a theme?  I love Gotland!)  They also had some beautiful merino/tencel and dyed merino/silk that I had to have.  But their prices are phenomenal, so I got 2 1/2 pounds of fiber for what I would normally pay for 1/2.  At Carolina Handspun, I got two braids of yak/silk which made up for that savings, but the finished yarn will be GORGEOUS.  I got goats milk soap and a niddy noddy and figured I was pretty much done, until we found the Yarns Plus stall.  Talk about bargain basement prices!  I got 1200 yds of a lovely acrylic for $25, and 1100 yds for three different colorways of tencel for $24 each.  I don’t even knit sweaters, but I will now!  At this point it was almost 1 and Nikki and I were both feeling loaded down and done in.  We stopped in one of the buildings to get beads to match the yarns we got, then went back to the food pavilion and got wine, soup mixes, dip mixes and olive oil before finally giving up the ghost.  Nikki was looking a bit dead man walking by the end!  The traffic going out and coming in was horrendous, between the festival, the leaf peepers, normal Woodstock tourist traffic, so by the time we got home, we were ready to not go out again tonight.  I’ll make up one of the soups for our dinner, and we’ve got bread and olive oil dips to snack on.  And wine.  We may definitely do in a bottle of wine.

So all in all, a very satisfying trip.  I’ll be sorry for it to be over tomorrow, but I think I’m ready to be home.

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Besides, I left my ball winder at home.

By The Time We Get to Woodstock…

By The Time We Get to Woodstock…

We missed Writers Weekend this year.

For those of you who’ve been around here a while, you will know that WW is a staple of my mental health system.  4-5 days every late winter to get away without the kids and the daily stress and just recharge.  But for a lot of reasons, mostly scheduling, we just couldn’t make it happen this year.

I think that’s part of why I went so far off the rails this summer. Vacations with my family are good, but they are a certain kind of stress on their own. I need that away time to regroup, and when you travel with other adults, and especially other women, it’s just so much easier.  We take turns cooking, and who ever doesn’t cook cleans up.  Everyone cleans up after themselves, and offers to get things for the others while they’re up, and are otherwise pretty quiet.  It’s calm  I didn’t have that calm grounding me this year, and as things spiraled out of control over the summer, I craved it desperately.

The New York Sheep and Wool Festival, colloquially known in fiber communities as Rhinebeck, is coming up next weekend.  Nikki and I used to go up and stay with my mom until she moved to Virginia, and then 2 years ago we stayed with Gabe.  A couple of months ago as we started making plans to go this year, I had the inspiration.  What if we rent a house up there and stay for a long weekend?  Maybe do some workshops, definitely do some sight seeing, and otherwise just chill.  Nikki, thankfully, thought this was a great idea, so I went on HomeAway and AirBnB to look for a place.  We found a cute little house just up the road from Woodstock that we would have all to ourselves, complete with fireplace, fire pit, and a sweet little kitchen.  We booked it Wednesday to Sunday, and I got the time off from work, so now we’re just counting the days!

Obviously we’re going to the fair on Saturday, and Gabe and Pam are coming up for dinner on Friday night.  Thursday will be an adventure because Nikki is getting a tattoo!  I’ve never seen one done, and she’s been working with the artist long distance, so she doesn’t even know what the design will be other than involving ravens, her totem, so it’s very exciting!  And maybe I’ll get one, too…  Probably not, because that’s money I could be spending on fiber, but we’ll see.  In the meantime, I have 5 days to finish my sweater to be able to wear to the fair.  So I’ll be spending a lot of time in front of the TV knitting this weekend.  Good thing I still have 8 episodes of Luke Cage…

So expect lots of Rhinebeck/Woodstock talk over the next week or so!

Sheep Delayed

Sheep Delayed

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It’s been almost two weeks since one of my favorite days of the year: the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I get to buy fiber and spur of the moment yarn only at MDS&W and at Rhinebeck in the fall.  Which is probably a good thing.  If I allowed myself to buy the kind of things I get a festivals whenever I wanted, we’d be living out of my van.  Granted it would be warm and soft in there with all the fiber, but still, I think the kids prefer having indoor plumbing.

A little bit of a shift this year, as normally we go on Saturday morning.  But the church was having its annual fundraising auction Saturday night.  I had volunteered to bring food and had a couple of items I had put up in the auction, so I needed to be there.  I dragged the kids and the Aquarians along as well.  Nikki was open minded about checking it out, and I think she had a good time.  Morgan was REALLY resentful that I made him go, but in the end he got a couple of items he was really excited about, so hopefully he’ll be a little more open minded about it next time I want him to go to something.  The peril was in not spending all my fiber money at the auction!

I was worried about getting to the show on time, as I was hearing horror stories about the wait times and parking, so we left home at about 5:30 Sunday morning.  It’s a 3 hour drive to the Howard County Fairground, which really is ridiculous that we go, since we rarely spend more than 4 hours or so, so we spend more time in the car than at the show.  But honestly, it’s worth it.  And leaving that early turned out to be an equally good idea.  We got there at 8:15 and got to park right outside the gate, which was BRILLIANT.  We weren’t the first there by any means, but that’s okay.  There were none of the delays going back to the off-ramp on the highway that we have run into in past years.  Such a much nicer entry into the fair!

When I say we, I’m talking me, Nikki, Xander and Hero.  This is another thing that I can’t get Morgan to come to, and in the wisdom of choosing my battles I don’t make him.  But the kids have a good time.  The first year I took them, I gave them both their cell phones and set them loose with $20 each and orders to check in every hour.  Which they did beautifully.  So I’ve gotten more relaxed, especially as they’ve gotten older.  This year it was, “Yeah, whatever, check in when you’re ready for lunch.”  They were gone prectically before we’d cleared the gate.

I went in with a very specific list of needs.  Not a long list, though.  Which may have been my downfall.  I needed two new bobbins and a replacement orifice hook for my travel wheel, and I wanted some fiber to start learning how to card with the hand carders Nikki scored me when she was out in Lancaster.  Beyond that, I had no restrictions.  Oh, and I needed a new jar of Wood Beams.  (I love this stuff.  Even if you don’t spin, I recommend it for using on your cutting boards, rolling pins, wooden spoons, whatever.  And no, I’m not getting paid to say that!)

When you go to a show often enough, you develop a strategy.  We hate crowds, so we go to the main building first before it gets so congested you can’t even move.  Even at this early hour, the big name dyers already had lines 20 people long (the show didn’t even officially open for almost half an hour after we got there).  My wheel builder was actually in one of the barns, but he’s always in the same spot right on the end, so we stopped there first before the barns got insane as well.  Got my two bobbins, and he gave me the orifice hook for free, saying it’s not uncommon for them to break, so the first one is always free!  Get a Merlin Tree wheel, people.  Seriously.  Then it was off to the main building.

We actually stayed pretty focused on that building this year.  Some really interesting new vendors.  One place called itself the dollar store of the show, and I got some great nicknacks there.  A little travel tool kit, a pair of really sharp yarn snips, and some conductive thread so I can make smart phone compatible gloves.  They also had some lovely jewel toned merino that I got on a second visit.  We stopped at Into the Whirled, as we always do.  I only got one braid of fiber from them this year, as they didn’t have any bamboo blend, but I did get four skeins of finished yarn, three for a big project (yet undecided on) for me and one skein of Moriarty as a prize for the 221b team in the Ravellenic Games this year.  At a new stall for me, I was introduced to silk caps.  Silk comes in a couple of different ways for spinning.  You can get it in hanks of combed top like wool fibers, but it also comes in compressed layers, usually squares called hankies, since that’s what they look like.  Caps were something new to me, so I asked the vendor about them.  Basically, they look like stocking caps.  When you spin them, instead of pulling them apart like you would with a hankie, you just turn it inside out, pull out some of the threads from near the crown to whatever thickness you want for your yarn, and spin.  The fiber then unravels itself from the cap.  I was really curious, so I bought two, one in a purple/blue and one in a copper colorway.  I’m looking forward to trying those.  The other new vendor I got excited about was a place called Bead Biz.  They had, as the name implied, trays and trays of strings of beads for fiber crafts.  When we first found them, I didn’t have any projects in minds, so I just petted and coveted and moved on.  But after I got the ITW yarn, I knew it needed beads, so I went back and finally got a shimmer steel blue set.  I’m really itching to start something with them, but I’m forcing myself to wait until I finish one major WIP that’s kicking my ass.

Other little goodies I got:  A bag of dyed Gotland sheep curls.  I love Gotlands so much.  I do think those are going to be my fiber sheep when I get the farm.  Got some blue beads to make a full set of shawl stitch markers, since having a bunch of random markers on a project makes me crazy.  I got an inexpensive drop spindle to teach one or two people at church how to spin.  And I got a bag full of alpaca fiber to practice my carding on.  There were a couple of plant vendors tempting me as well.  I didn’t need any tomatoes, and for the moment I am resisting peppers (we’ll see how long that lasts.  I do still have two self-waterers in the shed…)  But I did get a lavendar and a lemon verbena to go in a couple of urn planters I trashpicked.

What I didn’t come home with was a big bag of raw wool.  It was a near thing.  I suspect I won’t be as lucky at Rhinebeck if we go this year.

We had a late lunch, intending to hit all the barns, but by then it was almost 1:30 (how did that happen?), everything was getting crowded, and we were exhausted.  So we gave up, satisfied with our purchases and our day, and hit the road home.  Dropped Nikki off around 5 and we were home by 6:30.  I had about enough energy to photograph everything and order in dinner before I collapsed.  It was a good, productive weekend, but honestly, I’m getting to old for that much excitement!

Let Me Knit You The Stars

Let Me Knit You The Stars

Hero’s going to Disney World.

We hope.

She’s been having a great time at tech school.  I love hearing her stories, especially when she complains about the other kids not being serious enough about it.  That tells me she IS taking it seriously.  So far she’s done the industrial cooking section (cafeterias), commercial cooking (restaurant kitchen), and is now doing the front of house component.  She won’t do the baking component until her last marking period, but as of right now, she’s most interested in the commercial area.  Which, yay!  I think she’ll have more opportunities as a chef than a baker.  And maybe I can get out of having to cook dinner all the time!

The school is offering a special opportunity for their culinary and hospitality students this year.  They are sponsoring a themed trip to Disney World in Florida to get some direct learning experience in a major hospitality venue.  It sounds like a really amazing program.  I’m kind of jealous, because I’d love to do it myself!

During this trip, the students will:

  • Visit the Epcot Land pavilion to meet with the master gardeners there to discuss food production and resources, and will get to cook with some of the ingredients grown there.
  • Spend a morning at Le Cordon Bleu Academy, an internationally recognized culinary school with a campus at Disney, for four hours of intense culinary education, culminating in a feast of their own creation!
  • Go behind the scenes at The Grand Floridian, one of Disney’s premiere hotels.  Here they will get to learn what goes into running a first class hospitality enterprise, from the front desk to the back of house and into the kitchens.
  • Tour the World Showcase restaurants and talk to the staff about their experiences with food from their native regions.
  • Talk with executives from all over the property, from the head chefs to hotel managers and more, with the chance to ask them questions about working in the industry.
  • Meet other students and chefs from all over the country, with powerful networking opportunities.
  • And of course have opportunities to explore the park and have fun!

I’m especially excited for her about the Le Cordon Bleu opportunity, since the school is closing their doors in the US and will only be available in Europe after next year.

The only problem is that it’s expensive.  $1,600ish.  I’ve already put down $500, and she’s been doing fundraising that the school is offering, but it’s still going to take a big chunk of change on our part.  I was getting a little desperate, so I started a fundraising campaign on one of those websites.  Not GoFundMe, because I heard some horror stories about them not releasing the money quickly.  We went with RallyUp, which has been working well.  But we aren’t even halfway to our goal.

I’m sure most of you reading this have already seen my pitches, but if you haven’t, we could really use your help.  We’re offering baked goods and knitting in exchange for donations.  Seriously, if you are looking for a gift, I am DYING to make someone a Celestarium shawl.

Celestarium

I made this one for my mother, and it’s just gorgeous.  Those holes?  Glass beads laid out in the patterns of the constellations. Total heirloom quality, which is why I don’t feel bad requiring such a large donation for it.  Or for a smaller donation, I can make a scarf.

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Again, heirloom quality. Totally worth a donation!

The final payment is due next Friday.  So please, spread the word, share the love, and let me knit something for you!  (Hero’s red and white brownie/blondies are amazing, too.  I’m just saying!)

ETA:  Like a moron, I forgot to include the link to the RallyUp! campaign!  If you are interested in helping out (THANK YOU!), you can find all the deets here.

Terror

Terror

I started a terrifying knitting project last night.

It came about through a combination of factors.  Factor one was the latest round of Nerdopolis on Ravelry.  One of the challenges this month is to use a technique or pattern that scares us, whether that’s colorwork or enterlac or (eep!) steeking.  But I’ve kind of tried everything, and none of it really scares me anymore.  That’s one thing I can say for my online community, they are total enablers and get everyone stepping outside their comfort zone all the time.  But that left me without a project idea.

Factor two was the weather.

Because yay, the weather’s finally turned!  And brought us our first of what the weather service promises is many nor’easters for this winter.  But we still had all our windows open.  So when I went upstairs last night to get on the computer, I was FREEZING.  So I went for my comfort warm, which is a heavy sweater my Aunt Millie made and gave me many moons ago.  It’s heavy and cuddly, a lot like a wearable blanket, and the last time I wore it, it was just enough too big for me to wrap up in.

It’s been a while since I wore it.

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It’s just way too big on me now.  But I love it so much.  The pattern on it is the sequence of the seasons done in beautiful cables, with flowers in spring and apples in the summer, with clouds in the sky and a couple of different kinds of trees. [ETA: I found the pattern!  It’s called Enchanted Forest and originally came out in 1992! No wonder I couldn’t find it.]

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I just love it, but it’s just not practical to wear anymore.  But what could I do with it?  I can’t really downsize it without losing the mural quality of it.  I certainly didn’t want to donate it.  It’s the only knitted project from her I own.  She’s a world class quilter, and I have several small quilt pieces from her, but I don’t quilt, I knit, so this is the one piece of hers I have that I share an experience with.  Plus it’s cuddled me through some tough times, and I don’t want to lose that.

The blanket imagery kept sticking with me, though.

Well, why not?  I could take of the collar, the button bands and the sleeves, rip back the bottom ribbing, fill in and seam up the armholes and turn it into the center panel for a really nice afghan.  Add a couple of texture panels to make it blanket width, put a border on it, and boom, blanket.

My heart instantly started pounding.

What was I even thinking, considering dismantling something handknit?  Handknits are sacred!  And it was fine as it was.  Who cared that it fell off my shoulders and got in the way of my keyboard, right?  But I know I would rather something I made be used, and this wasn’t getting used very much.  So I did what I always do when I have a moral dilemma.

I called my mother.

“I doubt she remembers or cares at this point, honey.”  Yeah, but. But.  BUT!  *gaspflail*

I decided to do it.

EEP.

Never one to tread softly, I got started taking it apart.  Just to see how it went.  Before I even got off the phone with Mom.

The interesting thing about taking apart someone else’s handwork is you learn a lot about them as a crafter.  What I learned last night is that my aunt is VERY good at weaving in ends.  In that I couldn’t find them.  Anywhere.  I picked and pulled and squinted and finally had to make a cut to get the collar started.  Then I started to find them, the double strands separated and carefully woven under stitches and over rows.  I can’t weave my ends in that cleanly.  I need to learn.  Once I got the collar off, I unraveled it and wound the yarn up on my niddy noddy to skein it for washing.  I’m not sure how she does her moss stitch, but this sucker refused to be unraveled from the working end.  I had to go back and pick out the cast off edge to get it to come apart.  Now I’m curious if my moss stitch does the same thing.  Or maybe it’s just the yarn.  But as I was taking it apart, I was thinking about her, and about how her hands maintained the tension to knit such thick yarn so evenly, how heavy it must have been making it, wondering what kinds of needles she used (I can’t imagine doing such a heavy project on straights, but I don’t know if she shares Mom’s bias against circular needles.)  It was like I had a piece of her in my hands.  But the more I ripped, the more excited I got.  I wasn’t destroying it.  I was making it into something new and beautiful in her honor.

I stayed up past midnight.

I need to do some fiber tests to find out what the yarn is.  It looks and feels like acrylic, but knowing Millie, it seems unlikely that she wouldn’t use yarn that was at least partly wool.  By dismantling the sleeves, I should have plenty of yarn to fill in the armholes.  It will just be the trick of picking up the right number of stitches to make the moss stitch pattern invisible.  Then I want to do two long panels of Celtic cable, maybe in red, and four blocks of the different trees.  Then I’ll piece all of that, pick up a million stitches and knit a border on it (or learn how to do a knitted-on border).  This has gone from a quicky project into a major one.

In the meantime, Hurricane Joaquin is wrapping stormy cold arms around us, and I’m wishing I had something warm to wrap up in.  Too bad I took my sweater apart…

Designing

Designing

I started a design project this week.  I’m not going to go into too many details about it, in case I crash and burn (all too likely) so that I don’t disappoint the people it’s meant to honor.  But I did want to share a small piece of it.

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Graph paper is evil.  You can make so many pretty designs on it, designs that it seems like should be easy to replicate in knitting stitches.  But it’s not.  I have to decide which if any of all those sloping lines to do as decreases, whether to make this a knit/purl pattern or a closed/lace pattern (I’m terrible at lace) and what stitches to frame it out with.  I need to pull out my one and only stitch pattern guide and try to find something I like.  I have four other motifs to include in this pattern and need the lace to pair them up with.  I think this will end up being a circle shawl.  Just because the math will be easier without having to figure in all the extra increases and garter edgining.

But first I have to finish the test knit I’m doing and at least one spinning project I have on my wheels.  And maybe some socks.  And there’s some mending I need to do…

The Rest of the Weekend

The Rest of the Weekend

So, I had three days off, no appreciable housework to do and no guests.

For a few minutes Friday morning, I honestly had no idea what to do with myself.

Then I remembered I had spinning to finish.  So I queued up the Netflix and finally watched North and South (the BBC version, not the cheesy 80’s American one) while I plied my yarn.  By the time the series ended (took me a while to get into it, but by the end I was fixated), I had finished a lovely yarn.

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330 yards of fingering weight in a camel/silk blend.  I wish you could feel this stuff.  I swear to god, it’s softer than kitten fur.  This was a test spin to see if I would like this for a post-surgery sweater.  OMG I can’t wait until January when I can order my sweater quantity!  I’m already knitting this up into a beaded cowl.  Pictures as it develops.

Once that was done, I decided to take on another craft project.  I had to run to the grocery store anyway, so I stopped at Lowes and got rubber grommets, dowels and teeny tiny cup hooks to do a proof of concept test for a twist on CD drop spindles.  Not bad for a test.

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These are far from finished.  I need to shape the dowels into something more attractive and at least wax them, if not stain them.  I also want to glue the CDs together for stability and glue them into the grommet, and glue the grommet to the dowel.  But I did try spinning with these, and was pleasantly surprised to find that while they’re a tad heavy (1.5 oz on the poplar shaft and 1.75 on the oak shaft), they spin fast and balanced and for a long time, all the way to the floor while I’m standing.  And even though I was spinning for a fingering weight single, it didn’t break the thread even with the weight.  They should get a little lighter as I shape the dowels, but in general I’m really pleased.

I took a break for dinner and invented a recipe.  Sweet Potato Salmon Patties.  I used the leftover sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving that I made from this recipe (which was EXCELLENT and which I will definitely make again).  For each cup of potatoes (I used 2), I added one large can of salmon and one cup of breadcrumbs.  You could use dried, but I threw some of the leftover rolls in the food processor and made fresh.  Add an egg and salt and pepper to taste.  If you have plain old mashed sweet potatoes, you could also add some garlic powder or any other seasoning that floats your boat.  Mix it together by hand and shape it into 4 patties, then fry them up in a little nonstick spray (or butter if you’re decadent) on medium heat, and voila.  These tasted great and were VERY filling.  And used up most of the leftover sweet potatoes.  Yay!

After that, I got on the computer to work on another art project.  See, I’m getting to the point where I want to open an Etsy store, but I need product.  The drop spindles will be one of the items.  I love that they’re done label side out, so you can buy one that reflects your personality.  I’m going to comb thrift stores and yard sales for CDs with interesting labels from now on.  But I need a logo for the store, and I want to sell labels and tags as well as some other paper goods, like project pages for knitting or spinning project binders.  I know I want my logo to be based on the paisley shape, but I wanted a personal one, so I started drawing my own.  I scanned the version I’d been working on into Photoshop and started playing with it, drawing shapes, building using existing shapes, and learning how to path text.  I ended up with this:

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I’m very pleased with it (although I think I may need to redraw the pentacle).  And I think I’m going to do the labels/tags with different quotes in the text paths when I put them up for sale.  So I’m excited about that!

Unfortunately, the rest of the weekend wasn’t as artsy as Friday.  Saturday I had to take Morgan into the city so he could do an assignment for his art history class, which wasn’t so bad, as it meant I got to spend an hour or so at Nikki’s (and she got to try the drop spindle.  She approved).  Then home to try a new recipe, Lasagna Rollups.  The idea was a thumbs up from everyone, although Hero wasn’t crazy about the spinach.  Sunday wasn’t much better.  I planned to spend the whole day in front of the TV knitting, but then the DVD/VCR player died, and since it was still Black Whatever, I figured I’d hit Best Buy and get a cheap replacement, plus I’d been needing to replace Hero’s lost phone.  So we risked Best Buy, which wasn’t horrible.  The first time.  But then we got home, and I found out that the Blu-Ray player I’d gotten for $50 was the wired kind, not the wireless, so I had to take it back.  Finally got that up and running (thankfully I’d been smart enough to buy an HDMI cable when we were there the first time), and it is pretty sweet.  I can stream everything right from the player.  Except DropBox.  But I think I figured out how to stream stuff to it from my computer, so we’ll see.  And then I realized that Virgin and Verizon phones have almost exactly the same packaging, and of course I’d gotten the wrong one, so back we went to swap THAT.  I’m so sick of Best Buy right now.  Got home and made another batch of cinnamon rolls and the one and only batch of turkey noodle soup (which was fabulous!), packed up all the remaining leftovers and said farewell to Thanksgiving and a hearty hello to Christmas.

Christmas?  Already?  Yeah, I know, my usual rule is no decorating before my birthday on the 17th, but we were out, and I’d just gotten paid.  I’d complained to Hero on our way home from BB that no one local was selling trees yet this year, and she suggested we go by the church that usually does tree sales.  I hadn’t seen any signs, so I doubted they would, but we went to check, and sure enough, this was their first day selling them.  For $30, we got a lovely 5 foot Douglas fir that was just cut three days before so it still smelled magnificent.  We set it right up in the living room so it could settle in, have a good drink and start making the house smell like Christmas.  The kids and I did the lights last night, and we’ll poke at decorating as they have time this week.  No pressure, just a relaxed easing into the holiday.  It’s so easy to do when the house is clean.  Doesn’t feel overwhelming.  For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to it!