Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Meads in progress

Nobody showed up for the Third Annual Mead Making Workshop this past weekend.

Sounds depressing doesn't it? But it was all good. I got two meads started all by myself without input from anyone so I really will be able to claim (or disclaim) them as mine. And my house is clean and I have food enough to feed the family for a week without having to go back to the store except to replenish the milk on, or about, Wednesday.

One mead is the elderberry.

The other is Pineapple with Mint.

Both of these are in 3 gallon carboys so hopefully, they will both come out well and be consumed without too much complaint or delay. Depending on how well they bubble along, I hope to rack them in February then again in May and finally bottle in July. That means they should be ready to drink starting in October.

I was going to do a repeat of the Rosemay Mead but got so involved in knitting lace that I lost track of time. I seem to do a lot of that with the knitting.

Missing pictures & lace

I took the photos for the last post. Honest!

The camera recorded everything very nicely. But when I took the disc out of the camera (I'm using a Sony FD Mavica that uses floppy discs) and put it in the PC, the PC refused to recognize the disc and claims it hasn't been formatted. I put it back in the camera and the photos are there and the camera recognizes the disc.

I'm going to try again with a different disc and see what happens. Maybe I will ask for a new camera for my birthday in June. Until then, I have to find a way to make this thing work.

In other news, I finished the crazy scarf. At least I think I did. It does not currently have fringe. It's sitting here whining for fringe, so I think I will have to spin up a little more of this weird stuff (I may just stick to the b&w fiber as it's nicer) and make some fringe.

I have also started a lace scarf for one of my mothers (either my mil or my mom). I think it will depend on when I get it finished. I had planned on doing a teapot cozy for my mil but that's going to take longer than I thought (perhaps for her birthday). Or I may just go out and buy her something. I will have to see what kind of progress I make on it this week.

In any case, the lace thing is really addictive. Reminds me a little of a crossword puzzle as you put it down, and it just sort of crawls back into your lap. And I made very visible progress yesterday... from nothing to nearly 8 inches on the Tiger Eye scarf. I even figured out a little boo-boo in the chart.

On line 8, just before you get to the central YO, it should be k2tog rather than a regular knit.

I'm making it out of singles I spun from the brick colored roving. I'm very pleased with how this is coming out and may have to make it again in a different color (maybe that pretty teal merino and tencel braid I picked up at FFF).

I have only two more hats to finish before Yule for the various children in my life, then I get to make something for my dad. I'm beginning to worry that I'm going to have to go purchase something as time is getting very short.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New project started and some still going on

I left my red sock, granddaughter's hat and shetland wool spinning at work over the weekend. I didn't mean to. My brain is just feeling a bit overloaded just now. Lots of new lingo to learn and new rules and regs to learn.

So, to stay busy (and avoid as much housework as possible) I carded up a whole bunch of the dark brown fleece. It's still a bit greasy and while my hands are very soft, I will have to wash this finished yarn in very hot (boiling) soapy water. I want to 2 ply it I think. At least I'm going to think about a 2 ply. In the meantime I'm going to spin up a bunch of singles. My hands are very soft from the lanolin. I'm still picking out vegetable matter (VM). There are still some second cuts, but I'm getting better at recognizing and picking those out too.

I will try to take a picture of the basket full of rolags and post it here when I get a chance.

I have started a cute little tee-shirt tea pot cozy for my mother-in-law. I hope I get it done in time to mail to her for Christmas. I found the pattern in the Spin-It Magazine. I'm making it in a dark brown/gold cotton yarn that I bought in a cone (I think it was a 2 pound cone). Eventually, I will also make myself a shell out of this stuff. I need to find the right pattern.

The crazy scarf continues... and continues ... and continues... I have a tiny bit of one ball and a whole small one left. I want to finish the scarf on the grey color then make fringe. I will probably end up spinning up a bit of the left over wool (I have about 2 ounces of this Koolaid colored disaster left). Once completed, I plan to give the leftovers it to a friend who I hooked on spinning but doesn't have the resources to buy a lot of wool.

I'm excited as one of my dear friends called yesterday to tell me about her local spinning resource and told me that her resource was a Kromski dealer. I told her that I THOUGHT Ken was thinking about getting me a wheel for Yule and that she really needed to be talking to him. They had a fairly lengthy and serious discussion and he took down notes from their conversation and lamented out loud at the $30 jump in the cost in the last month. So I think I may really, actually be getting a wheel! How cool is that?

Having a bunch of folks over for the Thanksgiving Weekend. I may be sorry I didn't do more cleaning but I will run the vacuum and hit the bathroom before they all arrive on Friday and the house is still reasonably clean since Samhain, so I don't feel too bad.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Brain Death, Sheep and Other Weirdness

First of all I've come to the conclusion that I really do have brain damage left over from the Lyme Disease Incident from a few years ago. I left my little purple bag of knitting at work over the weekend.

The hat I've been working on for my step-granddaughter is in that bag and my red socks and the shetland spinning.

I would just go by and pick it up but I'm not confident that I know the security system well enough to turn it off without having the police show up, so I'll just wait until Monday.

In the meantime, I'm carding the fleece at an amazingly slow rate and totally enjoying spinning it... neps and all. By the time I'm done with this whole fleece I will be much better at evaluating a fleece and purchasing quality. As it is, all the second cuts I can pick out are going into a shoe box and I may have to learn to do needle felting as a result.

Ken is apparently (based on demanded information about the wheel I want) ordering me a spinning wheel for Yule. Don't know if it will be a finished one or if he plans to finish it. We are both a bit alarmed at the price jump in spinning wheels since I first did my research just a couple of months ago. A Kromski Symphony (the wheel of my dreams) was $465.00 a month ago including shipping finished in walnut or mahogany. As of yesterday it was $499.00 unfinished. How annoying is that!

Ken has also confiscated my credit cards and told me that I must not order more roving/wool/fleeces until I have spun up all that I have. Fair enough for I have quite a bit. He was only half joking when he suggested that I order a sheep (or small flock) instead. I told him I would be happy to do this, but one ewe would be very unhappy by herself and pointed out that if we fenced in the entire yard (about 3/4 of an acre surrounding the house) that we could get about four sheep. We would have to fence them out of the veggie and flower and herb gardens but that could be done, too. He has no idea that I am very serious about getting a small flock eventually.

I would like very much for us to get a few more acres of land -- with luck, it would be adjascent to what we currently own. He could retire and start his own business raising herbs in the greenhouse and marketing fleece and perhaps lambs for meat. It could work.

But I wonder if perhaps aliens have actually just kidnapped my husband and replaced him with a pawn.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fiber, Credit and New Job

I received a really nice package in the mail yesterday with some Shetland Roving. It's really nice in a sweet silver/grey color. I can see where it might end up being a little on the scratchy side. I've been spoiled to this point with Corridale, Ramboullett and Merinos. I'm thinking there may be enough (just) to make a lacey vest. But there may be just enough to spin out a lace weight and make a table topper for the altar. I'll have to see how it spins up.

In any case, it will be my last fiber order for a while. Ken is convinced that I have run up all the credit cards on wool. It isn't true. I've bought a lot of new clothes and shoes and Yule gifts. I'm using my debit card for the yarn and wool orders. But I PROMISED him I will pay off the JC Penney's card and the Pebbles card with my first paycheck from the new job before the interest kicks in on both cards (I have 90 days interest free).

The new job is going to be interesting to say the least and with the training, holidays and the pilot program back at the prison that I"m committed to until January... time is going to be very tight. The others are anxious for me to be up and running ASAP but scheduled office visits for December for me without knowing my schedule. So, today, I will be rescheduling all those appointments.

Monday, November 13, 2006

You can call me "Officer"

Today's the day.

As of 8 a.m. today I am once again an Officer.

But this time I'm a Probation Officer.

I get to wear real clothes and cute shoes.

I get to wear jewelry.

I get to wear a bullet proof vest.

And I'll be carrying a gun.

Scary, huh?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hoover says finish it

One of my loyal (or semi-loyal), certainly highly critical readers -- Hoover -- says I forgot to finish my story. I haven't forgotten. It's call suspense.

The new job starts Monday.

I have a new wardrobe for it.

I even have new shoes.

Until then, you can wait to find out what I decided.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Color coordinated stashes?

I'm still spinning along on the yarn for the crazy scarf. As I'm knitting this thing I am truly coming to understand the desire for some consistency in the yarn weight (going from nearly pencil thick to thread thin in the space of a foot makes for some strange looking knitting). I'm learning that I like the randomness of the colors in homespun. A lot. And I'm getting faster with both the knitting and the spinning. I find I also like knitting with singles. All good.

But I'm going to be very, very careful about dying my own stuff from now on and making strange color combinations simply because I can. The color combinations in this thing are really starting to make me twitch (to quote a dear friend).

I could probably be further along, but I'm afraid to take it out in public lest someone believe me to be colorblind. I can explain to friends and family that this monstrocity is for a young lady with top of the line ideas but who loves outlandish dressing. It is a visual demonstration of outside of the box thinking. Oddly enough, it actually works in that capacity... but you have to be a very special person to pull it off. I could not.

With all my shopping experience from this weekend, I have come to realize that my best "style" is conservative and my best colors are cool but calm. Greys, plums, charcoals and blacks with some cool ice greens are best. Oddly enough a bold cherry red is stunning on me and will be used for punch in the wardrobe when I need to make a point.

So, I'm thinking that most of the stuff in my yarn stash doesn't meet this color scheme. I'm still going to knit myself a pair of alpaca blend mittens in maroon and white (because I have the yarn and my hands suffer so badly from cold), but when I get my wheel (you see, I've moved away from "if" as it seems that these days all things are possible), I will be spinning up a lot more greys than browns and teals rather than maroons.

Don't get me wrong. I have many family members and friends from whom I need to knit. Some of them look ravishing in warm colors and will benefit from my current stash of maroons, moss greens, and browns. My step-daughters-in-law both like greens and browns (I still need to make time to knit a pair of socks from some yarn for one of them). She might get them this spring.

Ken, like me, looks really nice in purples and tourquoise type colors. My sons don't care so long as it isn't pink.

So, I have some nice grey blue yarn on the way here from Knitpicks with a nice pattern for a cardigan sweater that I'm going to knit for myself. I would have spun the yarn myself, but I don't have that wheel on hand just yet. But I'm thinking I need to organize the stash a bit. Do a better job of planning future purchases; and only buy stuff when I have a specific project in mind.

Now, I reserve the right to change my mind after I have the yarn. All these kids for whom I've been knitting hats benefited from my mistaken notion that I could and should knit a black sweater for my youngest kid even though he warned me before I bought the stuff that he would not wear it. So the yarn is going for another use. And I'm using up odd bits of scrap yarn my mother gave me when I was a brand-spanking new knitter and she wanted to clear out her stash closet for those cool skinny stripes they like.

But I wonder if I have the control to do this? Can I resist buying a particular roving or yarn just because it doesn't fit my color scheme? Can other people do this?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Midnight Oil

Seems like everything wakes me in the night these days. I rarely get through an entire night without interruption. And once I'm up. I'm up.

Woke up at 3:30 because one of the dogs thought she heard something outside and barked. Once. I was awake.

Let the dogs out and decided to wait for them to come back or I would just have to get up again. Little one came back first (as always). Two big ones came back about 20 minutes later.

But now I'm wide awake. And now it's 4:29 a.m. Part of me is saying: "Go back to bed, silly, get at least another hour of sleep." Another part of me is saying, "It's not worth it. Make some coffee and let's do something productive. You can nap later."

Well, I know from experience that the second part is lying about the nap. And I know the first one is being overly optimistic and I will probably just lay there and toss and turn.

I think I'll give it a few more minutes and see how I feel then.

I packaged up the mini-sock yesterday, put it in the car and forgot to mail it. I will try to drop it by the postoffice today. Here's a pix of the tiny thing. Ken wanted to know who was having a baby (and a premmie at that). I assured him there were no more babies in our future anytime soon (including grandbabies)... at least none that I know about.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting and other activities

I did vote today. Waiting now to find out the results. Virginia by exit polls is very close. Actual returns at this point (9 p.m.) show Allen winning. NOTE: By 4:35 a.m. Webb was winning but all the votes are not yet in.

In the meantime, I went back to the prison today for my class. My co-workers threw me a potluck lunch. It really was nice. They also gave me a gift of some money... I think I'll buy a messenger bag or briefcase. Or maybe some yarn for a sweater....

Started a hat for my step granddaughter. I think I will give it a white stripe.

Collected a bunch of little sampler balls so I can see how various colors looked with this maroon color.
Some are handspun. Some are not.

Noticed that my cactus had bloomed.

And remembered to water the plants.

Cleaned house this morning.

Need to go buy a grey jacket tomorrow and sign some paperwork at my new job. I also need to take some food to the women's shelter. Folks in my group (The Owl's Nest) donated canned goods and food for the shelter in honor of Samhain. I need to get it delivered.

Still trying to figure out how I want to knit my mittens. I have the yarn. Its a blend of Alpaca, wool and silk. Just need to get going on them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Current Projects

Here are pictures of my WIPs.

First is half the yarn spun for the Mini-Sock Exchange. I will spin the rest of it tonight and tomorrow then get to knitting it over the weekend. It's due by November 19th but I better get done early just in case. I used my new Bosworth Spindle. I finally got the hook tweeked in the right direction so was able to get rid of the wobble I was experiencing. I suspect it was dropped and knocked out of whack at one point before I bought it. But it's working fine now. It holds a half ounce of singles spun at this weight: 8 to 10 WPI.

The second is the hat I'm making for Nicole. This is a friend of my son's. So far I have knit one hat for Matt in black and oatmeal. One for Patrick (another friend) in black and white. One for my nephew to match Matt's, only smaller. And now I'm doing this one for Nicole. Hers is in black and "Tulip". All the hats use Knit Picks Wool of the Andeas. I'm using just under one skein of black and and a bit of scrap for the stripe. Eventually, I will have enough little bits from all the black skeins to make a whole hat.

The third item is the ongoing saga of the Crazy Scarf. I'm on the second to last ball of yarn and I think I'm about halfway done as far as where I want the length. It was confirmed this weekend that any young lady into Punk will like this scarf as it is bizarre and random and totally unique and totally unnatural. Fortunately, I have a bunch of the fiber still left to spin.

Inmates working with yarn

A Worthy Cause

Inmates at the Brunswick Correctional Center have taken up crochet hooks for charity. Ms. Zarrella, SORT Program Director, and Ms. Stransky, Assistant SORT Program Director, recruited inmate volunteers to help an organization called “From the Heart” crochet items for individuals in need.

From the Heart humbly began in 2001 with a few volunteers. Their work has grown not only in popularity, but in demand. An expanded team of volunteers use donated materials to crochet such things as:

- Hats and blankets for chemotherapy patients at the Massey Cancer Center and the Virginia Cancer Institute

- Slippers and slipper socks for the veterans living at the McGuire Veterans Hospital

- Preemie baby hats for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Medical College of Virginia (VCU/MCV)

- Sleeping bags, hats, and mittens for Friends of the Homeless to help homeless people stay warm during the harsh winter months

- Knitted clothing items such as baby outfits and blankets for the Head Start program in Wise County, the Appalachian area of Virginia, which helps needy families maintain a “Clothes Closet” for their impoverished community.

“From the Heart” does a great deal to help the communities in Virginia, and the group of 15 volunteers at Brunswick is now a part of this spirit of caring. The members of “Stitch ‘n Time,” as the group has named itself, have crocheted multiple 12” x 12” squares that “From the Heart” then collected and joined into lap blankets for wheelchair-bound veterans and chemotherapy patients. The group is also working on hats and scarves for homeless shelters and will soon be donating its services to Operation Home Front by making helmet liners for soldiers.

The Stitch ‘n Time group could use your help. If you have any scrap or leftover yarn that you would like to donate, please contact Ms. Zarrella or Ms. Stransky at (434) 848-4131.