Friday, May 25, 2007

Red socks are finished!

I started the first one in September of 2006. I put the last stitch in the second one at 11:03 p.m. last night. So, let's see, these only took me 9 months to complete.

Yep, I think I'm still the slowest knitter.

Here are the pictures.

I should call these the Sampler Socks because I did different things on each sock. Didn't really mean to, it just worked out that way because I'm still refusing (like a bad knitter child) to rip out and start over when I screw up.

Here are the socks on my feet inside the sandals I will be wearing them with today. (Yes, I did consider that it MIGHT appear I'm flashing gang colors, but at this point, I don't care. It's Friday.)

Here are the socks out of the sandals.

Here are the two different gusset treatments. The one on the left is actually upside down.

Here are the toes. The ones on the left are correct and from Stephanie's second to last book. But it was all the way upstairs when I started on the last sock's toes and so the toe finish on the right sock is wrong.

In any case, they worked out. They fit and they are comfortable.

On to the purple ones. I'm going to try toe-up this time and will do two socks simultaneously. It may still take nearly a year, but at least they will be finished at the same time.

Red socks are finished!

I stayed up until 11 p.m. last night -- WAY past my usual bedtime -- and finished the red socks.

I started these back in the Fall... or maybe even last summer!

But now I'm ready to start the purple socks. Two of them at the same time. I have two skeins of yarn and two sets of double pointed needles.
My friend Taryn (better known as 'T') showed me how to start from the toe up. Now I just have to figure out how to handle the heels!

Bulldozer Housekeeping

I was treated to a tour of one of my co-worker's homes yesterday at lunch time. She lives near the office and took me on a quick tour of the house they moved into last year. She has two pre-school aged children and she and her husband have been married for 9 years. The lived in a trailer and saved every dime until they could scrap the money together to build their dream house on about 70 acres.

She was extremely apologetic that the stair railing and a few yards of baseboard were not installed yet.

She claimed the house was a mess because of it.

The place was freaking perfect! Not a speck of dust anywhere. No dog hair (they don't have pets) and no clutter at all. Not even kid toys in sight. I think the bed cover on her one child's bed were a little rumpled because he made it himself, but the house was immaculate.


I wonder how she can stand to step foot into some of the homes of some of our customers?

And short of borrowing a bulldozer and sand blaster from her husband, I doubt seriously I will be inviting her over to my house anytime soon.

I did find out a couple of her secrets besides no pets. Her children spend most evenings and weekends outside playing and they don't watch TV. What else is there for a non-crafting, non-knitter, non-TV viewer to do but clean house? She's the one, by the way, who calls me "Martha Stewart" at work because of all my knitting/spinning/cooking.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

From Fiber Fool

The directions are the same as various book memes and the knitting meme. Bold those things you have done, italicize those you wish to do, and leave plain the ones that are of no interest to you.

  • Fine Wools (i.e. Merino, Cormo, Rambouillet, Polwarth, CVM, Shetland, Targhee etc.)
  • Longwool & Crossbreed Wools (i.e. BFL, Cotswold, Lincoln, Romney, Coopworth, Teeswater, ... lots!! etc.)
  • Down-type Wool (i.e. Black Welsh Mountain, Dorset, Cheviot etc.
  • Double Coated Wool (i.e. Icelandic, Navajo-Churro, Karakul, etc.
  • Mohair
  • Cashmere
  • Angora
  • Alpaca
  • Llama
  • Guanaco
  • Vicuna
  • Bison/Buffalo
  • Yak
  • Quiviut
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Silk Caps/Bells/Hankies
  • Silk Sliver
  • Linen
  • Hemp
  • Cotton (prepared)
  • Cotton from the Boll
  • Engineered Fibers (Rayon, Bamboo, Soysilk, Ingeo, Ecopoly, etc.
  • Recycled Fibers (Sari Silk, Jeans, Garnetted, etc.)
  • Holographic Fibers (Angelina, etc.)
  • Commercially Combed Top
  • Commercially Carded Roving
  • Hand Combed Top
  • Hand Carded Rolags
  • Hand Drum Carded Batts
  • Flicker
  • Hand Cards
  • Mini-Combs
  • English Combs
  • Hackle
  • Diz
  • Distaff
  • Drum Carder
  • Nostepinne
  • Niddy Noddy
  • Yarn Meter
  • Skeiner
  • WPI Tool
  • McMorran Balance
  • Top Whorl Spindle
  • Mid-Whorl Spindle (Norge, Ahka)
  • Bottom Whorl Spindle (includes Turkish)
  • Supported Spindle (Navajo, Tahkli, Russian, etc.)
  • Castle Wheel
  • Saxony Wheel
  • Great Wheel
  • Portable Wheel (Little Gem, Joy, Van Eaton Fold n' Tote, Journey Wheel, Lendrum, Hitchiker, etc.)
  • Electric Spinner (Fricke SpinIt modified to take Majacraft flyers)Charka (Bosworth, Indian book, attache, cigar box, Ashford, Reeves, Wyatt)
  • Tensioned Lazy Kate
  • Worsted Spun
  • Woolen Spun
  • Long Draw
  • Short-Forward Draw
  • Double Drafting
  • SinglesEnergized
  • Singles
  • Andean Plied
  • 2-Ply (Wheel or Spindle?)
  • Center-Pull Ball 2-Ply (Wheel or Spindle?)
  • 2-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
  • 3-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
  • Navajo Ply 3-Ply (Chained Singles)
  • 4+ Ply from Bobbins/Cops
  • Bulky/Super Bulky Weight
  • Worsted Weight
  • DK Weight
  • Sport Weight
  • Fingering Weight
  • Lace Weight
  • Cabled Yarns
  • Fulled Yarns
  • Slub Yarn
  • Marled Yarn (Barber-Poled Colors)
  • Seed Yarn (1 Thick and Soft Ply, 1 Firm and Thin)
  • Wrapped Spiral Yarn
  • Flame Yarn (Like Seed Yarn, but with Slubs)
  • Turkish Knot Yarn
  • Boucle Yarn
  • Beaded Yarn
  • Coiled Yarn
  • Encased Yarn (Fabric, Flower, Feather, etc. Captured Between Plies)
  • Buy a Fleece
  • Wash a Fleece
  • Blend Fiber Types (Combed or Carded)
  • Blend Colors (Combed or Carded)
  • Dye Handspun Yarn
  • Dye Prepared Roving/Top
  • Dye Locks
  • Solar-Dye Fiber
  • Kool-Aid/Food Coloring Dye Fiber
  • Natural Dye Fiber
  • Commercial Dye Fiber (Gaywool, Jacquard, Pro-Chem, Cushings, etc.
  • Attend a Wool Festival
  • Take a Spinning Class
  • Take a Dyeing Class
  • Spin in Public
  • Teach Children to Spin
  • Teach Adults to Spin
  • Knit with Your Handspun
  • Crochet with Your Handspun
  • Weave with Your Handspun
  • Design a Project to Match Your Handspun
  • Design a Project from Fiber to FO
  • Spin Yarn to Match a Commercial Pattern
  • Make Socks from Handspun
  • Make a Scarf from Handspun
  • Make a Felted Project from Handspun
  • Make a Large Project from Handspun (Shawl, Adult Sweater, etc. >1000 yds)
  • Keep a Spinning Journal
  • Use A Reference Card to Aid Consistency
  • Spin Yarn for Pay
  • Process Fiber for Pay (from raw to roving/batt)
  • Dye Fiber for Pay
  • Write a Book on Spinning
  • Write an Article on Spinning
  • Make DIY Spinning Tools (PVC Niddy Noddy, Nostepinne, Lazy Kate, CD Spindle, Hackle, Wrist Distaff, etc.)

What have you learned to do that has marked a definite change in your spinning life? I've learned that if I spin often I get better at it. I've learned that it's a great conversation starter and if I want to meet folks (not specific folks, but folks in general) all I have to do it go outside and spin and make eye contact.

Want to join the meme? Take the list and post it on your blog with your own remarks, bolds, and italics!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mothering Anxiety

I will not embarrass my sons right now with details. Let is just be said that my oldest (in college) is moving and transferring schools, and my middle and youngest are in trouble. The middle is in more trouble than the younger but the younger is looking at a serious grounding and probably summer school.

I am really wondering today why I undertook this long-term venture into motherhood? I don't seem to have done a very good job somehow. I missed some important steps somewhere I think. I hated my guilt-filled Catholic upbringing, but I'm wondering if fear of a fickle god is not actually a good child rearing tool...? That, and the boogie-man stories which I also avoided.

Self-discipline, self-motivation, goal-setting and fear of retribution are skills my two youngest seem to be missing. I am beginning to believe that the fear I had of a solid beating or lighting striking were good things that did help keep me from making some very stupid decisions as a young person.
This is not to say I did not have my mis-adventures and mis-steps. But those few times I did get out of control were soon followed by deep-seated guilt and fear. I learned that those feelings were very unpleasant and learned to curb my baser instincts (like wanting something right now, desires to get drunk out of my mind, and unprotected sex) because the after effects were so awful. I learned self-discipline.
My two youngers don't seem to be affected. It scares me.

So I'm cleaning. I completely redid both altars in the house and vaccuumed and cleaned most of the house. I find myself scrubbing the walls and toilet and sink over and over again. I only clean when I'm stressed so this unusual observation of dirt in my house and obsession with getting rid of it is clearly a sign that I'm overly stressed.

I also did a bunch of spinning and worked on the second red sock. I did figure out how to do the gusset the right way finally, so the first sock has the gusset going one direction and the second has it going the other direction. They both work, but the first sock looks weird to my eye but since I'm the one wearing them, I decided I would do the second one correctly just so I get my brain wrapped around it.

At least these socks don't have the heels coming out the sides like my first pair of socks. The third pair I make might actually be fit for gift giving.

I finished knitting the fourth "burp" pad for my co-worker who is expecting her first entry into motherhood in July. Her office baby shower will be mid-June so I'm going to put together one more pair of baby socks and call it a day as I'm also putting in with my co-workers for one big gift from us all. If I find time, I will try to complete 7 burp pads altogether.

Got a little crazy this morning and gave into temptation and blended together .4 oz of the grey alpaca with .3 oz of Navajo-Churro I got from MDS&W, and .1 oz of the cashmere I got back in December. I ran it through the carder 3 times and broke it into two batts. It's feels really nice and I think will be very interesting to spin.

The weird thing is that the final weight of both together is .6 oz... so something disappeared. I suspect it was dirt, a few second cuts I plucked out of the alpaca and some VM out of both the alpaca and the churro.

The churro is really neat. It's REALLY springy and smushy... almost crunchy. It's going to add a lot of character to this blend. If it spins up the way I think it will, I will be ordering more.

I'm going to spin up this experimental batch and if I like it, will do a second experimental batch with silk instead of cashmere and see which one I like best for sock yarn.

Then, once a favorite is decided, I will make up about 5 ounces of my "special blend" and go to work making my yarn. THEN I'll have to knit it into socks and you know, with that much invested, those gussets are going to be perfect.

Later I'm going to blend some of the flax I picked up with one of the wools and some alpaca. That will be a really interesting yarn, I think. I may go with the shetland just so something in there can stand up to the crispness of the flax. The alpaca will lend it the "smooth" I hope. In any case, it will be something to play with in the future. I would like to get enough together in a nice blend to make Ken a pullover vest. He might actually wear that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thinner grey yarn finished

I've been very remiss in posting. I normally post on the weekends (in case anyone has noticed) but had company this past weekend and never had the opportunity to sit down and focus on my selfish desires.

Last night Ken and I racked (again) the elderberry mead (to get it off the lees and keep it safe until I can get around to sterilizing a flock of bottles). We tasted it, of course. It's going to be wonderful! It's like an elderberry pie in a glass. But it needs to age. I'm hoping to hide it away somewhere for a year once bottled. I fear my hubby will raid my stash and drink it all before it's really ready, however.

The other mead, the one with my attempts to use lime, is quite vile. It will be sacrificed to the compost. I'm thinking I might do that this weekend and start a batch of Sweet Melissa Mead since the Sweet Melissa is coming up in abundance and my last batch of that was very popular.

On the spinning front: I finished 210 yards of fingeringly weight 2-ply 100% grey (fancy) alpaca. This was made with the washed version of the Fancy. Very tweedy. Very pretty.

It's not very soft, however. I draped it around my neck while running water for it's setting bath and it was downright scratchy. I'm hoping that the prickles are coming from vm that I missed and can pick out when knitting OR that the whole thing softened in the bathwater. I did spin it at a higher ratio and plied on a slightly lower ratio... but I suspect it is overspun regardless and may just be very FIRM yarn.

The next batch is going to be a blend of wool (from MDS&W) and a touch of mohair with the alpaca with the aim of creating sock yarn since I've now got the right weight. The overspinning for sock yarn might not be a bad thing either. I will need just over 400 yards for a pair of socks.

Ken wants to know when I'm going to spin enough to "make something". I told him I've made tea cozies and hats and baby booties but he indicated he thinks I should be aiming already to make enough for something like a sweater. I just smile at him. Enough for a sweater will require about 3 pounds of fiber and probably 3 months of spinning -- on the same project. I'm not sure I'm ready to do that. Right now I'm having too much fun experimenting.

But I do have that much fiber in a really beautiful teal stashed away for that eventuality.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2007 Amazement

My son and I got up and on the road at 5 a.m. on Saturday. We arrived at the Festival just after 8:30 a.m.

I can only describe my feelings by 3 p.m. as "shell shocked." Happy, but exhausted, sore, and utterly amazed. We met up without a problem with my friend, Taryn, and her husband and little girl (they had come down from Pennsylvania the day before). The crowds were overwhelming to me.

I must emphasize, however, that these were the most polite, patient and delightful crowds of people I have ever been around. I don't think there was a rude person in the bunch. People said things like, "excuse me," "please," and "thank you."

There were lines everywhere for everything on Saturday morning -- long lines. But I didn't hear anyone complaining. I think most folks just decided to wait and come around again later if they didn't feel like waiting.

Here are some pictures of the crowds.

Here is a picture of the line to buy a tee-shirt or other memorabilia from the MS&W Festival 2007. I didn't stand in this line. It never seemed to get shorter -- not even on Sunday.

But on Saturday afternoon, the crowds thinned out a bit. On Sunday, Tayrn and I came back to see the beginning, middle and end of the Sheep to Shawl Contest and in between walked around all the vendors again. It was amazing how many vendors we discovered on Sunday simply because we couldn't see them for the crowds on Saturday.

The food was awesomely delicious, but very expensive.

Taryn and I had a wonderful time.

We dropped off logs from my pecan tree with the Bosworths. They are the nicest people and I got to try out a Journey Wheel. These are really neat. I think I will have to save up for one of these.

Here is a picture of my haul from the Festival (This picture if missing the two pieces of wonderfully aged sheep cheese). I'll introduce each purchase separately in weeks/months to come. Most of my fiber haul will be blended with my take of the alpaca fiber that I'm spinning for Heather.