Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Old Sew and Sew

 It took Daddio months to recover from his eye surgery but he's certainly on a roll now.

 He's been making buckets and buckets of paper pieces.

 We are going to put together something that looks like this more or less, after we get a few other things finished.

 He's also been working on this table runner for Little Sister.

We finished this for Middle Sister ages ago but I have been afraid to quilt it. I just enrolled us in Leah Day's free motion quilting class on Craftsy so this is going on hold until we do some more practicing with the machine. I've already learned a lot about preparing tops for free motion quilting from the videos, so this is going to be redone using her technique which involves a lot of tape and/or elastic bands.

 We just put the last two rows on his flannel wonky plaid quilt. We learned a lot about working with plaids with this one. We learned not to. Plaids are hard.

Next up is sewing down his batik wedding ring pieces from last summer. The brown is the design wall. The real backing will be white. Quilting this is going to be a heart stopper. I hope Leah Day has some good tricks up her sleeve because I will need all the help I can get on this beauty.

Those Connecting Thread batiks are gorgeous. I have to keep the left over batik material under lock and key because he wants to get into them for other projects. He doesn't appreciate that they are special and in spite of being expensive, they sell out quickly. You just can't use it as scraps. At least not until I get the border on the wedding rings done.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Surprise Package

 Since the Tour, the Ladybug had been sitting empty and I felt bad  about it. That little corner of the room, when it is not being used for frantic competitive spinning, is where I do my daily fiber meditation. Spinning a lovely commercially processed fiber is so calming that I could fall asleep doing it and I look forward to that quiet time every evening.

 I picked out the next project and was surprised when I opened the pretty braid up. It was not at all what I expected.

 You can see it better here. One half of the length is green/brown and the other half is blue/turquoise/purple. All lovely colors but I had no idea how to split it for spinning. You wouldn't want half of a project one color and the other half another. Hmmmm....

 I decided to see what would happen if I spin one half starting at one end and the other half starting at the other and then plying it the opposite way.

I probably won't remember all that halfway through the process but in the meantime I am just going to enjoy the spin. After fighting all those Merino locks, this is like heaven.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Secret Language of Knitters

A blog post by Kathy b made me stop and think recently about how one goes about tackling tricky knitting. We have all looked at a pattern and decided it wasn't for us but what happens if the pattern makes little sense and you really want to go on with it? I am having that problem with my newest, the Holden shawl. I already hear you snickering. I know, it is an easy pattern, even recommended for beginners so why am I scratching my head more than knitting? It's because I wanted to make changes to the original design. Since I have a limited amount of handspun, I wanted to start the lace sooner than the pattern calls for so I had to figure out how many stitches I needed in order to make that happen. While I was at it, I decided to rewrite the whole lace pattern so that it made sense to me and so I wouldn't be tied to the chart.

When the printer died last year, I started having to write out patterns and it has been the best thing that has happened to me knitwise in a while. By writing out things in my own crazy shorthand, I can reduce all that mumbo jumbo that designers have to put into their patterns and "see" the number and types of stitches that create the design. Reading long winded directions and counting little boxes on a chart are tedious. It is necessary for the designers to give us all that information but not all of it is important enough to have to look at all the time.

 It works great for cables which to me are the hardest of all the techniques. Keeping track of who does what and when made me crazy. Not any more. Here are the charts I made from the pattern of my last Aran sweater which was smooth sailing.

It's also a life saver for color work. I would have never survived the Lillehammer without recharting. I hate, hate, hate counting little boxes so I count ahead and group the colors to save time.

 As for the Holden, I am happy to say it only took me about 4 hours to figure out how to start the lace at about half the stitches called for. I finished half of the first entire repeat and so far so good but since I am using straight needles (all my size 6 circulars are in use), I can't really see what I am doing.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


 I need twelve gray stripes before I can go into the next and last part of the Color Affection pattern. Each stripe equals two rows of knitting back and forth.

I have only nine at the moment and with all the increases, those rows have become mind numbingly looooooong. From this point on, this is going to take a while so I did the only thing I know to do in this situation.

Start another project, of course. Meet Holden. She looks pretty boring right now but in a few more rows she will get much fancier. I want to wear this to this year's Shenandoah Valley Fiber Fest because I spun it out of some fiber I bought there last year. I am getting obsessive about this little tradition of mine. The problem is, that ticker over there on the right says I only have two months to get it done and there is an awfully long way to go.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Power of Me

 Because of my babysitting obligations and Tour de Fleece participation, I had been MIA from the garden over at Daddio's for two weeks.

I actually believed I was going to find it waiting for me as I left it with a dividend of a harvest. Instead I found a weed patch. Everything was pretty much gone. I never realized my participation was so important to the ecosystem around here.

In the tangled up mess I did find a weird squash growing. Even weirder, I didn't plant any this year. I have no idea what this is.

The potted tomatoes that were so lovely are a mushy mess.

The potted Armenian cucumbers are still hanging in there but there are no cukes.

There is a mini crop of potted peppers but they don't look very healthy.

The pumpkin patch is still looking good but this is what the pumpkins are starting to look like.

There is one decent one and I am hoping it stays alive until it turns orange.

The sunflowers are being appreciated by the butterflies. This year Daddio is getting a big kick out of watching the butterflies so maybe next year we will just plant flowers and forget the veg.

Minus the weeds, the flowers that I planted around the perimeter are doing well.

The thing that upsets me the most is the rest of the yard. I had worked hard on it this year and had even planted new grass. In two short weeks the grass is dead and the weeds have taken over.

This is the lily bed we planted in the spring and two weeks ago it was full of yellow, orange and pink blooms. The entire yard is a disaster. It looks like an abandoned property. Arghhh....
The thought that I am holding onto is that in just a few months winter will be here again and all this mess will be gone. I'll just start again next year-with lots more mulch.

Friday, July 26, 2013


 I am still very much in love with my new loom but during the intense three weeks of the Tour de Fleece I had put it aside. When I finally got a chance to sit back down at it again I was very worried that I had forgotten everything I had learned.

 Thank goodness for the paper pattern that I was taught to use from my Craftsy class. If it wasn't for it I would have had no idea what I was doing. Strangely, when I sat down and started treadling again it all clicked even better than it had originally. Maybe my old brain needed a break in order to absorb all those things I had been trying to stuff in it.

 Before I put the project away, I had figured out a way to keep the kitties away thanks to a trick Daughter uses with her cats. When not in use, I cover it up with a rug that has clear double faced sticky tape on the end. If the kitties bat at it, they stick to it and they do not like that at all. Don't ask me how I know this but it was pretty funny.

It also works great on the ends of the couch that they had been working hard to destroy. Now if I could just figure out a way to keep them from throwing up on things.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Think Snow

Right in the middle of our brutal heat wave, I finished the second sleeve of the ski sweater. It was too hot to even touch it so taking it outside for a decent photo shoot wasn't happening. It's not much cooler today but I want to put the whole thing in time out so I forced myself outside in the super heated liquified air for just a second.

It's going in time out because the next step is to steek those sleeves and then pick up the neckband and I'm NOT doing anything that involves a lap full of wool until at least...October.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Royal Dork

 I have had very little sleep in the past 48 hours. I've spent most of my time staring at that door thanks to CNN.

 On Monday I waited anxiously for the birth. I had been up since 1 am.

On Tuesday I was up by 5 am waiting for a peek at the little lad. With the time difference I was afraid I might miss something. When the door finally opened,  I was not disappointed. I was completely and irrationally giddy with excitement. Maybe it was the gin and tonic I was sipping to pass the time.

Now does anyone have any ideas on the pattern for that lovely shawl the sweet thing was wrapped in?

I know New Zealand gifted them this one designed by Margaret Stove and spun and knit by Cynthia Read but I don't think that was the one he was wrapped in-or was it? My bleary eyes aren't seeing straight at the moment.

Edited to add: You can find the actual shawl here  and here thanks to someone's good detective work over on Ravelry. I am disappointed to say it was store bought rather than handmade. 

Now-how long will it be before we see someone knock off this pattern?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Life Goes On

 I hate the day after the Tour is over. I am like a Zombie. My house is a wreck. I have no food in the house and no desire to get any. I have forgotten all about the other zillion projects I have going on. I don't even know where they are under all this spinning clutter. I do know I was working on this shawl before all the wool hit the fan.

As usual, it needs some extra spinning to get where it needs to go. That's one of last year's TdF projects being turned into a shawlette that, of course, needs more yarn. Lucky me, because this time I have extra of the original fiber left over for a change.

What I really want to do is to knit some royal blue baby booties. I am not kidding when I tell you I was up at 1:30 am last night when it was announced on Twitter that Kate was off to the hospital and I stayed glued to the TV and my Twitter feed until it was announced that the little guy had made a safe landing some 14 hours later. Well, done Kate and Wills, well done. Now name that kid and give us a look!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Grand Finale

 Yesterday's Tour finish was spectacular but for me, it got off to a slow start. I had run out of steam the night before and did not finish what I considered to be enough singles to ply.

 Even though I know better, I decided to spin more and ply them fresh off the spindle so I spent the hours leading up to the final stage doing just that.

 When my fingers and hands hit the wall, I wound the rest of the Merino into balls.

I ended up with an amazing total. I have two balls with 90 plus grams and another with 30 grams. That is probably no where near the amount I need for a sweater but I can't believe I managed to do that much in only three weeks considering I only worked on it while the Tour was on TV in the morning.

I also packed away the orange Merino as it is intended for next year's MDSW shawl and I won't begin work on it until after Christmas. I always look forward to finishing up this project in the dead of winter while I am waiting (foolishly) for warm weather to return.

 As soon as the Tour started, I began to try and get the two original bobbins of singles plied. The fresh ones would only be used as a last resort.

When the fuller bobbin ran out, I decided to take a chance and wind the fresh singles on a bobbin, put it on the tensioned lazy kate that comes on the Ladybug and see what happened.

I am happy to report that nothing happened. The newly spun singles plied as nicely as the old ones. Go figure.

As the riders rode onto the Champs-Élysées, I was winding my new yarn onto the niddy noddy.

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures of my new skein against the backdrop of the Tour that was quickly slipping away.

In a flash the whole thing was over for another year. It was a spectacular ending. Well done France, well done.
Sadly, tomorrow life will be back to normal. I feel like someone who has been on vacation for a long, long time.

Thank goodness I had some spirit lifters à la Français on hand.
Next year le Grand Départ will be in Yorkshire, England of all places and I can't wait!
Vive le Tour!