Sunday, July 29, 2007

I may not get far

There is a big storm brewing outside. It probably is really just one of those passing thunderstorms but I have my fingers crossed that it will bring us some rain.

I have not missed the humidity this summer and a short rain shower the other day with temperatures in the 80s reminded me of how HOT humidity made things feel. The 90 degree temps earlier in the day before the rain spits did not feel as hot.

Did not do much knitting or spinning this past week. By the time I got home from work I was very tired and went to bed early. This weekend (even though I did spin for about 2 hours yesterday morning and an hour this morning) have been spent on kids stuff and preparing for our campout next week.

Ken's daughter, Michelle was pinned yesterday at a nice graduation ceremony. She is now officially and LPN. She hopes to continue her education and complete the RN program. I can think of nothing better for her. Of the 36 people who started the program only 11 graduated. It's either a very hard program or folks who went into it came to realise that it takes a very special person to be a nurse. In any case, I'm very proud of Michelle. This is a huge accomplishment for her.

My son Wes had his birthday on the 11th and I have yet to mail his gift. Turns out it is just as well that I waited as his fiance's employer was raided by the police and shut down (a financial lending agency for whom she was a loan agent... but just a lackey so she is not in trouble) but they have failed to pay her last paycheck so they are really strapped right now.

Haven't heard a word from my soldier. Worried that he may be kicked out of the Army. Something happened more than he is telling me on that little 5-day escapade when he and another young man went AWOL in downtown Augusta, Georgia. Three weeks ago he said he was going to have to have a hearing with the base commander. Not a good thing,

My youngest is driving me crazy. Normal teenaged nonsense. Went into a house down the street that was under construction and got caught by the homeowners. We had serious discussions about what it means to break and enter even when there are no locks on the doors or in some cases, even doors in the frames. You just don't go nosing around in other people's houses! Fortunately, the home owner was very kind and understanding.

Ken's eldest son is waiting for word on a transfer from Idaho to Virginia and his youngest has recently moved from Idaho to Oregon!

Found out the strange noise in the wall behind the water heater was not an electrical issue at all but a water leak and there is a broken pipe inside the wall. So as of noon today, I have no water in the house at all as we had to turn off the pump. Plumber comes out tomorrow to fix it (I hope).

Good thing I'm on vacation this coming week.

Best get off before we lose power as well with this storm coming in.

And my husband wonders why I feel so tired?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Productive Weekend

Last weekend I got a lot done.

I finished this:
Two skeins of hand painted 100% merino fiber that I bought in December. Sockweight in my mind... may be DK in reality but very nice. Got 384 yards on one and 244 in the other. There is a third skein laying across the top of about 80 yards from the odd bits left over on one bobbin that I Navajo Plyed. Not real thrilled with the ply on the third small skein, but knitted up, it would probably be okay. To be honest, I finished the first skein before we went to the beach, but I finished the roving this weekend.
I started this:
4 ounces of teal colored merino/silk that I bought at The Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia in Montpelier in October. Going for lace weight. The arrow points to the thread. This is the thinnest I've ever gotten consistently on the wheel. I know it is a little overtwisted at this point. I'm hoping that when I spin up the other half (And this is just a little bit of the first half) and ply the two together I will get a nice yarn in lace weight. I started with about 4 oz of fiber. Might be enough once spun out, to make a lace scarf.

I knitted these:
Well, I really just added a couple of more tiny baskets to the collection. I really need to concentrate on this project and get it done before Hoot. If someone is interested in directions (can't really call it a pattern) let me know and I'll post it.

I nearly finished this:
A cigarette/lighter/cellphone bag to go with my friend's horn cozy. I just need to finish another foot or so of I-cord. Might get it done tonight.

The sea blue bamboo baby blanket for the baby due in October. She/he best not come too early or this won't be ready. The color in this is just wonderful and I love the way the fabric feels knitted up. It's actually a bit small at this point. After I finish this skein (the 2nd of 4), I think I will start out around the edges and make a border in garter stitch that will be perpendicular to the garter stitch there now...or maybe a very simple lace.

... while waiting for Matt to finish flirting with girl who is much too young for him, worked on the toe-up purple socks.

I also washed this:
1.5 pounds of white alpaca. It might weigh less now with all/most of the dust washed out. This is gorgeous stuff. It's even nicer than the grey. The alpaca lady who shared this (and about 10 other pounds of various alpaca and llama fiber) has disappeared! I tried to call her to get her address so I could mail her the first sample skein from the grey alpaca and the phone was disconnected. So my friend who hooked us up, walked down to her home only to discover it had been rented out to other folks and she and her family were gone with no forwarding address. How's that for weird? I'm going to put aside her sample skeins just in case she re-appears but I'm sort of perplexed by her disappearance.

She told me their alpaca farm was near Farmville (one of my neices goes to Longwood and she said she was located near there). She has about 20 alpaca and a llama. Her name is Heather. If anyone should know who she is and can let her know I'm looking for her... please help me out here. I owe her a bunch of spun yarn and want to live up to my end of the bargain.

But now I'm having a glass of iced tea.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tiny Baskets

Ken and I were handfasted (married for regular folks) back in September of 2000. We had a whole flock of guests come and visit at the house and some even camped out. We had so much fun, we opened the invitation list and hosted 35 people camped out in our back yard (rented porto-potties and borrowed a solar shower) for a weekend the following August. Since then, we've expanded and moved our base of operations to a nearby campground and thus the Hoot-n-Any was born.
We have been Blessed by having many friends who enjoy camping in a sauna every year and from this event have evolved even more. And our core group, "Owl's Nest" was hatched. These 30 or so folks pitch in every year without complaint and take care of tons of hot, sweaty, tedious work to make sure the Hoot goes off with a minimum of hitches (gotta have at least one small hitch somewhere or it wouldn't be a campout).

Years ago I started making small gifts for everyone as a thank you. Last year I purchased gifts and it just didn't feel right. So I'm back to creating things.

One year I crocheted washclothes. Another year I potted up herbs from my gardens. Yet another year there was a gift of homemade incense. It varies.

This year I'm knitting things. Small things mind you. I've made about 6 of them so far. Fortunately, they knit up pretty quickly. And inside each one is a small gift from Ken.

They are cute. They are quick. They are very easy and best of all, I'm using up very small bits of stash for each one.

Here's a picture of what we have so far. Aren't they Fey?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Oh wow! I see now!

My mom used to have a spinning wheel years ago. It's long enough ago, that she doesn't even remember what kind she had. She says it was "modern" so it was probably at Louet or something similar.

I don't remember her having a wheel at all so she must have had it during that four or five year period when I lived far enough away I never saw her.

She says she enjoyed spinning but never got very good at it. But she hung in there until she developed a ganglia cyst in her shoulder that grew until it literally strangled the nerves to her right arm. She had surgery and it helped with the pain, but caused nerve damage so she has little or no feeling in her right hand.

She still knits but said that because she cannot FEEL the yarn going through her fingers she simply lost the ability to spin. I thought that if she really enjoyed spinning she would have just switched hands... but she LOVES knitting and I suspect the nerve issues were just a good excuse for her to give up this other distraction (spinning) and focus on what she really enjoyed the most.

Fair enough.

Now, I wear reading glasses. Have three or four pair of them laying about in various places. I still lose them. Then, find them again but only after I have already found another pair. I think I need about four or five more pair so I spend less time looking for glasses and spend more time writing, working and knitting.

I had the corrective vision surgery (PRK) and it made a world of difference for me with long and mid-distance vision. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is not to wear hot, heavy glasses or fight with contact lenses. The surgery did not help with the close-up vision.

My understanding is that as we age, our near vision worsens not because the eyeball changes shape as with Myopia, but because the muscles the focus the eye get weaker.

But I don't mind the reading glasses. They are light weight, I can prop them on the end of nose and look over them. I can take them off and still find my way out of a room.

But I do need them to cook (can't read packages or cookbooks without them). I need them to knit (especially if I'm reading a chart or directions or working with fine or splitty yarn). I don't need them for computer work most of the time unless the print is very small. I definitely need them to read unless it's one of those very large print books. Even with the glasses, I now also need a magifying glass to thread a sewing needle.

I have not normally worn them while spinning. I was relying pretty much on feel to draft fiber. I think that will change now as this morning I sat down to spin and happened that my son brought me something to read. He also brought me my glasses so I could read it. I left them on and started spinning.

I didn't notice at first but as I got into the "groove" I did start to notice how the individual hair fibers were being pulled into the twist from the triangle pinched off. After about a half a bobbin, I also noticed how much more consistent my spinning was this morning.

Eleanor the Wheel may find she has a new pair of reading glasses added to her little work basket.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A well dressed horn

The horn saga is nearing completion. Didn't take too long actually.

I dyed the wool about a month or so ago.

The day before we went to the beach I spun and plyed it.

I took the horn and yarn and crochet hooks to the beach but got distracted by the bamboo baby blanket and booties. I will show pictures soon of progress on that.

I'm very, very pleased with this horn project. Just want you to know that. I tend to complain too much I think.

I have about a foot or so of I-cord to complete and join. Then I'll wrap it up and make it pretty for presentation. This picture is very representative of the actual colors.

Seems I will have a bit of yarn left over. I will re-skein it and measure to see how much is left then I'll make something out of it.

I really like the technique of making a medium weight of single from something kind of fluffy (in this case a blend of alpaca and Navajo-Churro) which I dyed in the wool. Then I plyed it with a single of spindle spun merino and mohair blend which I also dyed (in this case with Koolaid in lavender colors).

The color in this isn't very accurate (lighting too bright I think) but if you enlarge it, it does show the single crochet yarn pattern as it spirals around the horn.

I crocheted the horn cozy itself but rather than crochet a really long cord, am doing a 3-stitch knitted I-cord which is going very fast. I should finish this tonight.

In any case, this yarn would make a really cool looking sweater or vest, I do not, however, have enough left for that. I am considering a neat little bag to go with the horn (a matching set) for cigarettes, lighter and a small metal tin that you could use for a portable ashtray as my friend is also a smoker. Party gear!

Okay, They Hate Chickens!

News flash!

The Farm Bureau doesn't have a problem with our dogs (we pay extra for them, after all) it's our chickens they dislike.

Or at least they will find them objectionable until we pay extra for them, too.

Seems that chickens lay eggs. Even a few hens tend to lay a lot of eggs. They lay more eggs than one family can normally eat. So said families tend to sell or give away said eggs.

Sometimes, a recipient of said eggs might get a bad egg and be dumb enough to eat it anyway and decide they want to sue said owners of said bad egg laying hens.

Thus the problem.

According to my husband, I should not have mentioned the chickens when they requested a list of critters living on the property. I wonder if they would have objected to the 15 or so gold fish living in our garden pond?

Good thing they don't ask about food products like pecans and wild mushrooms or herbs that we also collect, eat and often give away or sell.

By the way, the chickens, according the Farm Bureau, are livestock and not pets. I wonder if that means that this extra money we will be paying will also cover loss of said livestock to fox and wild dog and eagle attacks? Yes, we've had young Bald Eagles come swooping in and snatch up hens in the past. Now the top of their yard has netting over it to prevent this problem.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Farm Bureau Insurance hates dogs

I am in shock!

The Farm Bureau Insurance Company has cancelled our homeowner's policy. They cancelled it because they claim we have a "prohibited" animal. They don't even tell us in the one page cancellation notice which animal they consider prohibited.

We have the exact same dogs and cats and chickens that we've had for the last four years. (Well, the chicken flock has been refreshed once.) For four years we have paid extra for the Laborador/Chow mixed dog that we adopted from the animal shelter as a puppy. We've had to pay extra because some statistic of theirs says Chows can sometimes be dangerous.

Frankly, I think any dog that is untrained, unloved, chained up or locked up can be dangerous and it doesn't matter if it is a toy poodle or a mastiff.

Our dogs are well trained. They walk at heel without a leash. They come when called. They sit, stay and do tricks. They are not tied. They are not fensed. They bark at other dogs but do not approach without permission from us. They bark at strangers but again, keep their distance until given permission to approach. There has never once been a complaint against our dogs.

The Chow/mix, in fact, has been under consideration for training as a therapy dog. I just haven't got the time to get her into the training program.

Our animals are well cared for, well loved and they know it. They are gentle, companion animals.

I am angry that these insurance people have no clue and are unwilling to even investigate whether or not a longtime customer may actually have a situation under control. Even worse, they gave us just 3 days notice to either part with one of our furry family members or find a new insurance company.

My husband is going to go down there tomorrow and find out what on earth they are thinking about and try to get a reasonable explanation for the cancellation of the policy. If he gets nowhere with them (which I suspect is what will happen), I will certainly be talking to everyone I know about what a crooked company it is and do my best to build a boycott against them by dog lovers.

Back from the Beach

We got back on Sunday.

What a wonderful break from our routine. I did not get sunburned. I think I sat out in the sun a total of 20 minutes. But my sisters and brothers and all the kids got out there and baked for hours at a time. They were slathered in high count sunscreen. My sister and her friend have this down to a fine art I believe because it is the first year my husband and my son did not get burned at all. The girls took charge of the men and made sure that they put the stuff on early, letting it soak in good before they ventured out AND made them re-apply at regular intervals.

I did spend lots of money at my favorite yarn shop of all times: Knitting Addiction. I have discovered bamboo yarn. I paid money for another baby pattern book. I bought some alpaca silk yarn.

I knitted for hours and days. It was wonderful.

Maybe by next year I will have a portable wheel and can sit and spin the week away.

I also ripped out the round baby blanket thing I was knitting. I had this odd notion that I would use non-traditional baby colors and knit a blanket that would reflect the passion of the baby's daddy -- the Redskins football franchise. Unfortunately, I got the colors wrong and knitted a great blanket for someone in love with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both my husband and brother were greatly amused at my error and utterly amazed when I just ripped the thing off the needles and tore out every stitch right then and there!

So, knowing I wanted to make a blankie for my friend Shelby's future baby (due in October), I headed off to Knitting Addicti0n in Kitty Hawk. There, I found this wonderful, wonderful bamboo yarn. At $14 a skein, I did think myself a little mad. But the shop owner showed me how far one skein would go (she was knitting a top down cardigan from the same stuff in a different color), so I'm sure 4 balls will make the perfect sized blankie.

How do I describe this yarn? Remember when you were little (or your kids were little) and they had this blankie that they dragged all over the place. On the edge was usually this satin ribbon and they would hold that little scrap of ribboned edge, rub it against their cheek while laying in bed or nodding away while sitting somewhere. Remember that silky tactile sensation? This yarn, knitted up is like having the whole blanket in satin. And while the label suggests handwashing, I handled and examined a swatch at the shop that had been machine washed and dried. It was fine.

Drawbacks?: It is a bit splitty and I have to pay attention to where the needle goes. If I were making a garment out of it, I would have to be very aware of the drape issues this stuff has. It's actually kind of heavy. To me this is a good thing to put over an infant in a crib because despite being satiny (i.e. slippery), it will have enough weight and drape to stay in place. It's neither really warm (like wool or alpaca) but not too cool like cotton.

The color choices I saw did not overly excite me other than the one I bought. Most were pretty much in the pastel range -- which I don't particularly like. But that's me.

Overtime, the blankie -- if used like blankie -- will probably be a snarled mess due to the splittiness. But until then, I think it will be dearly loved and cuddled.

So, here are some pictures from the beach at Pine Island, NC -- it's between Corolla and Duck.

This is the view outside outside out bedroom door in the morning.

This is the view from the top deck looking out to the East. That blip on the horizon is a really huge ship.

And this is inside the top floor of the house. I literally spent most of my time sitting on that couch knitting. The room reminds me of a hotel lobby except the kitchen is right in the middle of it. The windows you see at the back of the room are looking out over the Sound.