Sunday, August 26, 2007

Heat, hot, humid, ... horrible...

I remember last summer there were a few knitting bloggers out there and a few knitters on various lists who talked about it being too hot to knit.

I was unsympathetic. I could not understand why they didn't just turn on their air conditioning and find comfort. We were using window units. Surely, we didn't make that much money; surely everyone could afford air conditioning. I didn't understand.

This year, while not among the poor, we made a conscious decisiion not to use air conditioning in the downstairs part of the house. We had, after all, just installed new windows that allowed us to have full cross ventilation. The house was built about 100 years ago. They had no air conditioning and survived just fine. Besides, with global warming, it was important for my family to become very, very conscious of the footprint we were leaving upon Mother Earth.

We did decide to air condition the two bedrooms in use upstairs because Ken works nights and it would be nigh impossible for him to sleep well in daytime hours while roasting. We put air conditioning in Matt's room just because I didn't want to listen to him whining about me having air while he didn't.

Fans were strategically placed downstairs with one pulling air in from the front door and pushing to through the music room (parlor) into the family room and one in the family room, pushing across the length of the room (just keeping things moving, and finally one in the kitchen pushing the hot air out.

I cut back drastically on the type of cooking that I normally do. Right now I only turn the oven on about twice a week. I use the crock pot more and we eat more cold food (sandwiches, chips with bean dip, salads) on nights when Ken is working.

The immediate pay back from this is an electric bill that hovers around $110. This is down $100 from the summer before when fuel prices were somewhat lower. I suspect we are actually saving $150 to $200 a month by not cooling the downstairs.

It has helped that this summer has been cooler and much drier than normal. The drought did horrible things to my gardens and I actually lost trees to dryness. But the low humidity levels made 100 degree days bearable. It was not unlike when I lived in Texas.

But with August came some rain and the humidity. I can hold wool and alpaca fibers in my hand when we have very low humidity even when the temps are high. But when it's so damp and hot, I swear the stuff just felts in my hands!

I understand why someone would choose not to knit in this weather. I am doing it anyway... here and there (especially in the evenings when it cools down some) and am making progress on some small projects. I got a good bit (about 2 inches) done on a sock yesterday while Ken drove us on a errand that involved being in the car about 2 hours.

But I have been unable to spin at all. It really is felting as I work. So I'm waiting for a break in the misery to get back to my wheel. I'm hoping for a mid-September cool down.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Does this make me look fat?

Of course it does! But I don't care. This shrug is the first garment I've made that is not a hat or pair of socks or scarf. I'm wearing it now as the temps here are in the 70s and that feels chilly to me.

I decided not to make the sleeves 6 inches longer but did put an extra inch on with size 12 double pointed needles. It did help to "finish" the sleeves.

This is my friend Taryn's homespun. I think this is the first yarn she made on her wheel. I'm sure she'll correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, it still needs it's final wash and block but I'm pleased.

My son, Matt, took the pictures.
John, the Army boy, is expected home sometime in the next three weeks. As expected, the Army did discharge him. He says he plans to be home about a week then pack off to Wisconsin where he and a friend will rent an apartment and work at the Harley Davidson Factory. We'll know more later.

And this week...

I was just very amuzed at the several commenters who seemed to believe a couple of posts back that I'm terribly prolific. Dear friends, you are very kind but deluded... my fault entirely.

All that stuff I listed was worked on slowly over several months. You see I have Startitis. Terrible disease. Wish I could develop a nice case of Finishit that would drive me to complete all unfinished projects before losing my mind and starting another. BUT alas, on any given day I have at least four or five projects going.

This week I have finished nothing:

1. The doll I pictured in the last posting. He now has a little sweater vest, a hat with a feather, flesh colored arms, and a bottom lip. He is, however, lacking clothing from the waist down and I still need to figure out how to give the poor fellow some eyelashes. I've noticed he also appears to have suffered from a terrible case of acne at some point so I need to give him a little facial surgery to smooth that out.

2. I am still working on the purple socks. I have turned the heel and am working my way up the ankle on one. The other is resting in the knitting bag waiting for me to remember it is there so it can keep up with it's sister.

3. I have messed around with a little of the white alpaca fiber. It wants to spin really thin but I've only messed around with it on a couple of different spindles and haven't tried it out on the wheel because...

4. The teal tussah/merino is still on the wheel. And just the first part of the first bobbin, I have not gotten appreciably closer to finishing it. And I noticed yesterday when I sat down at the wheel for about 5 minutes, there was actually some dust on the wheel. I have obviously been neglecting it.

5. BUT I've been working on the blue baby blanket. I've finished the second skein and have decided it's now time to try and ruin it by making a border from a third skein that I am knitting AROUND the outside of the entire blankie. The corners are YO, k, yo and I hope this works to keep it reasonably flat. IF not, there will be some serious frogging. I had to put it on a giant circular to make this work. I may end up switching it off to two long circulars.

6. And I have been working on my Shrug. I got the pattern at Knitting Addictions in North Carolina in June and have been searching for the right yarn since then. I knew I wanted it out of homespun. I knew it had to be bulky. BUT I did not have 330 yards of bulky in my collection. But my friend Taryn did and so I traded her a couple of skeins of sock yarn for her first wheel spun. Technically, I finished this last night. But I when I tried it on, it had 3/4 length sleeves which I don't like. So I picked up some smaller double-pointed needles and picked up around the end of one sleeve and am now lengthing the arms about 6 inches. The main needles for the project are size 17. It really was a quick knit and easy to do while watching the tube when I was feeling brain dead in the evenings.

7. I also cleared a spindle (so I could play with the alpaca) of some really lovely dark brown Corridale that I've had forever. I like it spun far better than I liked it in roving. I wound off onto one of the wheel bobbins and plan to spin up another spindleful over the next few weeks then ply them together. It should come out a nice worsted weight. No idea at this point how much yardage I will have in the end.

8. I met a real live weaver yesterday. There is a new art studio that opened up in Heathsville (Studio 202) and I went up to see what was up there as the sign said something about jewelry and fiber art. She has two floor looms and is working on warping the larger one. The smaller had the beginning of something lovely and linen. In her back room was an Inkle loom and she showed me straps and sashes and bookmarks she is making and mentioned that she might offer an inkle weaving class this winter. I told her I was most certainly interested if she did. I also offered to participate in or teach a beginner spinning class.

9. The cotton lace shawl was never touched this week.

10. The merino lace shawl was never touched this week.

11. I thought seriously about how to knit some pillow covers for my house out of my stash. Haven't started anything but cabled, knitted covers would look really cool (until covered with dog and cat hair). I also bought and day dreamed over a couple of the sweaters in the Fall Interweave Knit Magazine. I purchased and looked at the Interweave Felt Magazine. Unfortunately, I spent entirely too much time surfing the internet for felted dolls/sculptures and found surprisingly little related to what I'm doing with this elf.

And I keep looking at roving for sale... everywhere... and I am struggling not to break down and buy more. I MUST spin up at least some of what I have before I buy more. And The Fall Fiber Festival is coming around again in October. What is a girl to do?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Elfin magick

My friend Taryn has done a bad thing.

Of course, her husband would say I did a bad thing to her last summer when I got her hooked on spinning and knitting.

But now she has been doing felting. And look what I spent a good part of my weekend doing when I should have been cleaning, cooking, canning, spinning and knitting on a baby blanket, shawl and pair of socks. She should be ashamed.

Now Ihave to dress him.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Beyond Hot

I work in an office all day that requires that I wear either a jacket or sweater because the air conditioning is cranked up so low that there is frosted condensation on the windows.

It was over 100 degrees outside today with a heat index of 110. I left my office and came home to an un-airconditioned house. My son and his friend (who is from Pennsylvania and staying with us until the end of the month) were home all day. The bedrooms have air conditioning. The down stairs where the television, telephone and computer reside is not. Neither boy likes to read for pleasure (or any other reason). Both are active physically -- one is on track team, the other is a skateboarder.

They were suffering. They are still suffering.

We ate tuna salad sandwiches for dinner because I could not bear to turn on the stove.

I got out of my work clothes (a short sleeved shirt and long pants) and put on a sleeveless top that I have rolled up under my boobs to expose my middle and wrapped a sarong around my waist. I'm sweating so badly right now, my fingers are sticking to the keys.

Our campout went well last week and it was actually pretty cool for the first week of August. I'm just glad we didn't have the campout THIS week because we all would have DIED!

I got my new tattoo and will show it to you soon. Too hot just now to fool around with a camera.

It's 8:26 p.m. and hotter than it was when I got home I think. So it's time to go to my bedroom and knit.

It it possible to lose weight just by sweating? And if so, why do my hands and feet swell up so badly when I get hot?