Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hell week

I am at the end of my third call in the last week. Fortunately, this was a quiet call and we did not a single delivery during the entire 24 hours. The complete opposite of watching the blood flow out of a young woman who did not want to receive blood products. I will never forget the grace and courage with which she and her husband faced the likelihood of her death, just after the birth of their son. Mike writes it off as pure stupidity, bordering on psychosis but I think they have something that many of us strive for but never near. Call it peace, or faith. I don't know, but it was a night I will never forget, and I hope never to repeat!
I am way behind on FOs. Fortunately, there are FOs. I had a big push just before the new year because I wanted to shorten the list of things to finish in the coming year. I want to enter 2010 with no FOs that are older than six months. That seems only fair to the projects that have been languishing in the closet for years.

When my mom visited over Thanksgiving, she fell in love with the yarn I was spinning and I promised a scarf for her for Christmas. The yarn on the left, below, is a 2-ply spun from a Spunky Eclectic club shipment. I think it is BFL. I spun it worsted, to practice that technique, and should have plied it a little more tightly but it ended up working well for this scarf. The warp yarn is on the right, a yarn I purchased on Etsy, I don't recall the seller. I used every last yard of the 200-and-some skein and warped my rigid heddle loom. My handspun, combined with some Rowan Kidsilk Haze, is the weft.
I was so in love with the end result that I could barely part with the scarf. I have enough weft to weave another, if I can find another suitable warp yarn. Ahh, a success!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I carry a thousand thoughts and stories in my head, but when I sit down in front of the computer...nothing.
We have been shivering through a breath of Arctic chill over the last few days. Today, it will warm up to a balmy 11 degrees F. We had a blowing light snow last night. The kind of storm that shocks you because it makes the world seem so silent, even in the middle of a busy city at rush hour. Despite the storm and the driving conditions, there were many cars headed towards Target for after-work Christmas shopping.
Christmas always seems to catch me by surprise, and before long, I am so overwhelmed that I decide that there is really no need to decorate the house, or bake Xmas cookies, or... Over the last few years, Mike and I have been trying to establish some traditions for our family, given our hectic work schedules. This year I am not working on Christmas, and only a 1/2 day on Xmas Eve. We are planning a really nice dinner on the Eve, and then gourmet foods from Zingerman's to snack on for Xmas Day.
Gift knitting is coming along quite well. I had planned two sweaters for E, and am on the first sleeve (body is done) of the second sweater. Pictures to come. Back to the knitting for now!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I just came back from an absolutely wonderful weekend in Chicago with my sister and several of her friends. We shopped, ate and drank--all were done to extremes. Although my sister and her friends are not fiber freaks, they were tolerant of my need to knit and to seek out the nearby yarn stores. I managed to hit three shops, picking up several skeins of yarn at each. The 'moment' of the weekend was during dinner at SusiSamba. My sister and her friend were getting a little heated talking about politics, it was getting a little tense. I, in a slightly drunken stooper, decided to pull out my knitting. THis elicited screams of laughter from the other two women at the table who thought I was making a statement about the political converstation. I just wanted to knit, but it ended up breaking the tension and was really quite funny.
With the flights and early morning awakenings, I managed to cruise along on a sweater for E. She chose the yarn and pattern, but I don't think she will expect the FO as a present under the Christmas tree.
This is a pic of the back. The front has lots of bobbles but I did not think those would be comfortable when sitting in a chair so I omitted them from the back. I am almost done with the back. Then there is a wide ribbing at the waist and a large turtle neck. The body is knit side-to-side. It is going quickly, I started it last Thurs and expect the back to be done today.
The other pic is a little dark but it is a closeup of the Florin vest I knit for a friend's son. A quick, easy knit. This was done in Halcyon yarn's Botanica. I want to do one for me, perhaps in Cascade 220.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We ARE a country that can put aside our fears and our prejudices. WOW!
A finished Christmas present. Okay, almost finished. A few ends to weave in and loopy detail to add at one end. This is the Stone City Scarf from the most recent Interweave Crochet. I used Noro Silk Garden Sock, about 1 and 1/4 skeins. It is destined for my friend Doneka. A quick and satisfying project, great for dragging to E's after-school activities.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is the long-awaited end to the election season. I've voted, and am so glad to be done with all of this that I really don't care who wins. Two years of campaigning! There ought to be term limits on a campaign!
Time flies between posts, as usual. I've had a lot of fiber fun over the last several months. I spent several days in both Sept and October playing around with natural dyes. I pulled my recipes from various books, mostly relying on Trudy Van Strachen's book and was (mostly) delighted with the results.

These are various skeins of handspun shetland, in various natural colors, that I started throwing into the exhaust baths of various dyes including cochineal, and logwood. I love how many colors you can acheive by varying the mordant or the after-bath. I especially love ammonia dips, probably because I like the whole red-blue-violet spectrum.

These are the mini-skeins of Belle yarn, several dyed with cochineal, one with logwood, and one with weld. I am very happy with the results and am planning to knit these mittens with this yarn.

This very dark picture shows mini- skeins of merino lace-weight yarn dyed with Brazilwood, with a number of different mordants and afterbaths. Each skein is about 200 yds and they look beautiful together. I have no idea what I will do with them. I also managed to spend some time at the Textile Center and carded some of my Shetland-Border Leicester fleece. I spun this beautiful worsted-weight yarn that is soft and spring-y. I can't wait to get back to carding somemore of this fleece so I can really get going with the spinning.

I have been surprisingly productive with knitting and weaving for Christmas presents as well. I am well into my list of projects and may add a few more if this pace continues. I need to get pictures of the WIPs for my next post.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Well, I didnt actually get in to the Ravelry swap, I did not send in complete info in time. Oh well. I am still going to try to blog once per week to keep the blog going. My spinning binge has continued. I am spinning my second batt of merino/silk from Ewenique Fibers but am spinning this singles a little thicker then the original batt.
I did not like the way my thin yarn was "muddy", none of the original colors really stood out. I am hoping that with a thicker yarn, the colors wont blend as much, they are really to beautiful to lose. This is a sinfully wonderful batt to spin, very soft. The batt weighed two ounces and I split it in half length-wise, spinning each on to a separate bobbin. I will finish the second bobbin tonight or tomorrow and be ready to ply them together this weekend. This is the fingering weight yarn I spun from the first batt. The colors really blended too much.

The second picture is from the second batt, and is a dk weight that I am very happy with. It is a soft, springy yarn. I keep hearing Judith MM's words in my head to underspin and overply a woolen yarn and it really works to get a great yarn.
I am accumulating quite a stash of handspun fiber and I think it is time to see if I can sell any of this. I am thinking of setting up an Etsy store. As a prelude to this (hee, hee), I am doing some marketing research that I will post more about later. I cant believe there is even a market for this but it appears to be true. I also think it may be time to destash some of my commercial yarn on Ebay or Ravelry. There is no way I can possibly use it all. So on my agenda is some photography of my stash, and some sorting to figure out what I can part with.

My other major venture is getting into the natural dying. I have been fascinated by this for a while and should have some time to experiment with this during my vacation in September. So I have ordered a stash of dyestuff and mordants to experiment with.

This last picture is the last of my four samples from my Bellweather sample club. It is from a great batt from Crosspatch Creations and is very vibrant. I just wet-finished it today.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Spinning fest

I decided to participate in a swap on Ravelry. I have been seeing examples of other swaps as I surf the blogs and decided to give it a whorl. This swap requires blogging at least once per week, I could stand to have that kind of pressure.

Here are the required questions:

Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft? I mostly knit but do crochet on occasion. I have been doing both for too many years to count (since grade school).
Do you spin? What type of spinning do you do? I have been spinning for about seven years and spin both on a wheel and spindle.
Are there any other crafts that you participate in? I also love to weave but haven't had too much time to do this.
What are your favorite yarns/fibers? I love animal fibers of any kind. Plant fibers are more difficult to spin and to knit so I don't like them as much but I do occasionally enjoy a good challenge.
What are your LEAST favorite yarns/fibers? See above
Are there any types/brands of yarn that you are dying to work with but haven’t gotten a chance? I love Green Mountain Spinnery yarns but haven't had a chance to experiment with them.
What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet? Really anything. I have been on a sock kick lately but love sweaters.
What are you currently working on? Anything you plan to start this autumn? You name it and I am probably working on it. I like to work on lots of different things at a time.
What is your favorite FO? (Please, post a picture if you would like.) Hum, tough to decide. Perhaps some of my older colorwork/fairisle. I don't have the time or attention to do much of this right now.
What is your oldest UFO? Wow, don't want to admit that it is probably about five or six years old. I've been trying to clean up some of my older UFOs this past year. Most of them involve colorwork and are time-consuming projects.
Are their any knitting/crochet techniques that you would like to learn? I have not done any felting. I would like to experiment with this.
Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Love socks, but I have extra large feet. I usually use medium patterns (I have a narrow foot) and knit to fit my size 10.5 feet.
Do you have a yarn winder and/or a swift? I have both.
Where/how to you keep you needles/hooks? One box for circulars, and one box for straights.
Do you collect anything? ...yarn, fiber
What is your favorite type of music? Are you MP3 ready? I like pop, rock, jazz. Really anything but country. I have an I pod
Do you like sweets? What are your favorites? I love, love LOVE good chocolate. Next best are chewwy candies like Bitohoney and Tootsie Rolls.
What is your living situation like? Any pets? Children? Hubbie, five-year-old daughter, 88-year-old demented mother-in-law, one dog (very sheddy german shepherd) and one cat.
Are you allergic to anything? Not that I know of.
Do you have an online wish list (Amazon, Etsy, Loopy Ewe, etc.)? Please include links for your swap pal. I don't have any online wish lists.
Are you having a birthday during this swap? Nope
What is your Ravelry ID? lafall

Thanks to Tour de Fleece, I have spun quite a lot during the last few weeks. I have finished spinning all of my first sample pack from Bellweather. It is part of the Crosspatch Creations fiber club. I LOVE their batts. I first got experience with one when I picked up the SOAR special blend in 2006. Here are three out of the four samples. The first I spun as a lumpy singles from a tricolored roving. I can't recall the name. The second is a 2 ply from a batt. It is called Montana State Treasures. Definitely my favorite. The third is called Mountain Berries and is a fine singles.

I also finally finished spinning my merino multicolor that I got at Shepherd's Harvest, again in 2006. I don't know what I will do with this yet. After sampling a number of techniques for a learning exchange, I spun most of it as a fine yarn, then navajo-plied it to keep the colors in line. I am very happy with the results. The final hank weighs just over 2 ounces and is about 320 yds.

The second monkey on my back that I finished is the merino/tencel roving from Cameleon Colorworks. I spun this worsted, and then plied it as a three ply and came up with a yarn that is fingering weight. It allowed me to solidify my worsted technique. I think it came to about 600 yds for the four ounces of roving.

Knitting has been rather unfocused although I did manage to finish some mitts from my handspun merino superwash from Cameleon Colorworks. Otherwise, my WIP list on ravelry has grown, but my FOs have not. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Here is a not so recent pic of Elizabeth trying to learn to ride her bike without training wheels.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Crazy quilting

100_1621, originally uploaded by drlafall.

Here is some of the quilting I have been messing around with. Elizabeth chose all of the fabrics and insisted I make something for her so I made a 'blankie' for her and one for Max. Max's is still sitting in my studio, waiting to go out in the mail...probably tomorrow. These were kind of fun and gave me a chance to experiment with my walking foot before moving on to some serious quilts.

I am officially over socks for the time being. And I'll finally admit that I don't like STR for making socks. It is too harsh, especially the heavy weight. So I have a lovely skein of yarn in purples, supposedly for the Cleopatra pattern, that I will be converting to a scarf or shawl. At this point, I really need to FINISH some of my un-FINISHED projects, but have not had the motivation. I did finish two of my towels, hems and all. Still four more to go...

Its a beautiful Monday, although slightly chilly for June. After work, I will be ferrying E to swimming and then to Karate. I'm still loving Karate and have a ground defense class tonight. On off days, I am picking up some pilates and toning classes at Energy Pilates, and really enjoying it.

I've been working without a purpose these last few weeks. My knitting has not really had a focus and I haven't been able to focus on getting a specific project done. I have done a lot of organizing. I now have a pile of projects that only need minor finishing (such as buttons or a few small seams). I have tried to avoid starting a bunch of projects but did start lovely little sweater using some of my Alaska yarn. It is a slow knit because of all of the K2tog but the yarns are gorgeous and I am enjoying it.
The other thing I've been able to knit are squares to make an afghan out of my fingering scrap yarn--mostly leftover from socks. The squares are a la Oliver's blanket from the Mason-Dixon website, and in this green era, it makes me feel virtuous to put all these little scraps of yarn to a good use.
I spent Fiber Friday working on basting the quilt from Last Minute Quilted gifts.

Next will be the actual quilting, likely to occur during the next Fiber Friday. I also started to pull together some stash yarns and fiber for a throw for our bedroom. I love the warps that Sweet Georgia makes and want to do something similar, completely spontaneous and simple, for this throw.

Here is some of the fiber I dug out of my stash. Some is Romney, Color Bits from Judith McKenzie McCuin, I got it at SOAR last year. Some is random dyed scraps from Detta's Spindle, they just happe to be the right color. Since I tend to spin with a high twist when I drop-spindle, I am spinning these on a drop spindle. I have one small skein completed, about 30 yards. The weft will be a solid color, perhaps a fine mohair. I will have to play around a little. And I will definitely make a small sample.

More later

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mom's Day

What a way to spend a Mother's Day! You've got to love a place that has a fiber festival every year on Mother's Day weekend! Another reason why I LOVE Minnesota. I tried not to go too crazy with purchases. The biggest extravagence was the final purchase of this fleece I could not resist.

It is six pounds of the most beautiful Shetland-Border Leicester cross, and it is more black then the picture shows. It is soft and springy and I can't wait to get some of it scoured. Other purchases that I couldn't resist were this ball of beautiful Merino. It is about 14 oz worth.

Next to the merino are a spindle and inkle loom. As you can see, I was spinning some roving while Elizabeth was watching the sheep shearing. I bought to small bags of Icelandic lamb roving, unbelievably soft! But not as soft as this Angora bunny!

Elizabeth had a great time seeing all of the animals and watching the sheep shearing. She loved seeing the border collies herding the sheep. My last few purchases were yarns. I couldn't resist the Kimmit Croft fiber booth. I have been in love with their Angora/Rambouilet blend ever since I knit my first bohus sweater. The blend is now Angora and Merino but is still delightfully soft. Of course Elizabeth had definite opinions about what yarns I should buy to make something for HER and initially grabbed some baby blue and pink. I managed to 'redirect' her and persuade her that the following colors would make great mittens etc.

Next to the Kimmet yarn is some fingering weight Alpace in four different colors (the black skein on the bottom faded into the background). Believe it or not, this was 'restrained' purchasing. Oh, and I might have agreed to take home some Angora/Merino roving from Kimmet--the salesperson didn't wnt to have to take it home, so she gave me a pound for about $10. What could I say!?!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

New directions

This always happens. Whenever I limit my yarn purchases some other obsession overtakes me and I end up spending money on that instead. This time the obsession started with the innocent purchase of this book

...which then led to the purchase of this...

....and this......some of which became this... As we have been remodelling the lake house, I have been thinking about bedding for the two main bedrooms. The patterns in the book inspired me to look for fabrics to make quilts for both of these rooms. Six hours of sewing later, I have the quilt tops done. I have some fabric cutting to do for the backs and then can proceed with the actual quilting process. I keep telling myself that it is all justified because I am never able to find what I want in the catalogs. If everything comes together, it will be worth it.

This has also led me to explore the idea of coming up with some simple quilt designs and market my skills in the various textile venues (knitting, sewing, weaving) to make textiles for homes. Terri sounded enthusiastic about having some throws, towels etc in her shop. I have a couple of other projects brewing including a throw and a quilt for the Master bedroom in Woodbury. I have to warp my table loom so that I can do some samples for the throw, and I need to go on a quilting store expedition to look for fabrics for the quilt.

Also in my thoughts are some table linens to match our new dining room chair fabric:

So far it has been hard to find fabric so I may switch to thinking about some woven mats etc. I am also working on keeping a design journal as I work through these projects so that I have something to show potential customers in the future. Of course that led to the idea of making a folio for my design tools so I have ordered some fabric for that as well.

Hum, the yarn stash is stable to slightly smaller, but the fabric stash is increasing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dear Carmen--You have been in my thoughts a lot lately. I guess it is just that time of year. It's funny, I have whole converstations with you in myhead, but when I sit in front of a keyboard to put them down, I am stymied. I'd love to let you know about all that has happened since you left us but I am afraid that I will start crying here in the middle of Caribou coffee.

Caribou Coffee is kind of where Minnesota starts for me. About a month after we moved here, I sat outside at Caribou. It was October and I was knitting. The sweater I was kntting then is still unfinished--not too surprising as it is a complicated fairisle pattern. I think it was early afternoon and I was waiting for it to be time to pick up E from daycare. It was a beautiful afternoon, but the surprising thing is that, while I was sitting there, a woman approached me and asked to see what I was knitting. She expressed appreciation in a way that demonstrated that she too was a knitter. I knew at that moment that I had found a place that would be accepting of my quirkiness. That was in 2004 when knitting had not achieved it's zenith as THE hobby. Knitting in other places we had lived was still associated with grannies and acrylic yarn. But here in Minnesota young professional women are avid knitters. Knitting in public does not garner odd stares, but questions about what I'm knitting, and whether the onlooker has ever tried a similar project. This was an "ahh" moment for me.

I continue to love Minnesota, although this winter has been somewhat challenging. TOday, the end of April, it is just 33 degrees, with highs projected in the mid-40s. Despite the weather, there is much to love here. There is great diversity here, not only among the people but also in the sporting and cultural offerings. THis is the first place Michael and I have both loved. This is manifest in our purchase of a second home, on a lake up North. Our Breezy Point home is a physical commitment to this area, it says that we will be here for a long time.

I wold normally be at work today but I am recovering from a mild case of pneumonia. The reason I am at Caribou is that I am hiding from the cleaning ladies. I am going to return home soon for a big nap. I have missed some time at work due first to a cold virus but then to superinfection with pneumonia. It is fortunate that I have a doc in the house to quickly diagnose and treat me, otherwise I'd probably still be languishing in bed, trying to decide if I needed to see someone.

During this sick time, I have been able to get bits and pieces of projects done. I finished spinning the Belle fiber into singles and will ply it later this week. The second batch of carded fiber was more difficult to work with then I anticipated. A lot of neps. I hope the final yarn turns out. It is kind of a dirty white, so I will definitely be dying the finished yarn. Probably in multiple colors. I still have to assemble my dye equipment so that I can really begin natural dying. I have lots of yarn accumulated that I want to dye.

I also worked a bit on the merino/tencel top. I still don't know how I will ply it. I have been spinning it in no particular order, so I may Navajo ply it to keep the colors intact. This fiber seems to go on and on. I am getting a little tired of it. Other outstanding spinning projects include the rest of the varigated merino and my alpaca.

I have finished two pairs of socks--the gluttony socks and the leafling socks. These were two of the projects in my "April" basket--a basket of knitting projects to work on in April. I also finished my handspun sweater and am very happy with the outcome. It is an oversized, comfy sweater, just as I had imagined. Other projects in the April basket are the solstice table runner (about 1/2 way done) and the Northern lights shawl (this one is slow-going at over 500 stitches per row and growing). These two items remain in the basket for May, with the addition of the Phoenix socks, and an old bobble sweater (an Annie Zilborg design and kit that I purchased at MD Sheep and Wool, 2004).

I haven't even gotten to my newest passion--designing textiles and accessories for both houses, and hopefully for things to sell in Terri's shop. Right now, I have plans for two quilts (for the two queen beds at the lake) and a throw/afghan for our bedroom here. And lots more plans in my head. TOo bad I actually have to work for a living.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

So I spent a lot of my knitting time yesterday correcting a mistake in my solstice shawl. I had to pull back two rows--doesn't seem like a big deal, but since each row now contains 500 stitches...this represented quite a bit of knitting. I've been struggling a bit with this pattern, the graphs are incorrect and this threw me until I decided to correct them. In addition, the continual increases mean that I have to do frequent stitch counts--A bit of a chore with this many stitches. Add in constant interruptions from E and M, and there you go.
We are up at the lake this weekend. There are icicles hanging from the roof and about six inches of snow on the deck from our recent snow storm but the temp today is supposed to get up into the 40s. Spring may finally be here!
This has been a long winter and I will be glad to be through it. It has been a tough few months and I am only now realizing how stressful it has all been. I haven't spoken to anyone in my family in months--a real indicator of how stressed I have been. having learned so well to suppress negative feelings, I can't call anyone when I don't have good things to talk about!
Actually, there are good things to talk about. Karate is going well, and I continue to love it. I will probably get my purple belt the first of May and am loving the challenge of learning all of the new techniques. As I progress, it becomes clear how important strength and overall fitness become if you really want to be able to do all of the maneuvers! Trying to incorporate a regular fitness routine into my schedule has been a bit of a challenge but I am becoming more committed to it. It helps that the days are longer and it is light out when I get up before six in the morning!
Wendy continues to deteriorate. Yesterday, E found her trying to put a shirt on as though it were pants. A recent visit to the dentist revealed that she needs reminders about brushing her teeth. Thankfully, I don't need to do it for her. I am having enough trouble with the fact that when I ask her if she has brushed her teeth, she gives me a toothy grin to let me see how she has done. I find this kind of intimacy so abhorrent! THis has been a large source of my stress. I don't know how I will handle it when she really needs help with hygiene issues. It is bad enough that today I will need to supervise her in the shower.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Third Weigh-In

Stats: 202 lbs (down 26 pounds since start); chest 44 (down 4 inches); waist 37 (down 5 inches); about an inch off thighs, calves and biceps. Body fat is down from 27.5% to 20% and my goal weight is about 172-177. Slowly getting there. One more week of torture. Then it is time to figure out what to do at home which is going to include zone chefs for food, much training for that damn Ironman in Nov and finally finishing that off.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

End of Week 3

This is the end of week three, and this week was not as horrible. I think I am getting used to the different venues, and my intensity was ratcheted down due to a hamstring injury. Suspect my weight loss will not be as impressive as the last two weeks, but tat is to be expected. I do believe I will be under 200 before I leave. Took this PM off to rest the legs and plan for one more hard week before returning home. No new pictures today as whoever is reading this has seen most of the venues. Will try to tie things together over the next week. Also will attempt to get before and after pictures to post after I leave. Will reflect on this month after I leave.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Look at the monkey climbing the wall. This is from the playground that was near the Ritz. As you can imagine, we spent quite a bit of time there. What an improvement in her comfort in the water! She had a great time jumping in and swimming back!
Here is the proof that she actually DID put her face in the water and did a little swimming.
And she even started to get comfortable with being in the water without her goggles.
We are now settled back at Angelica's. Faye and Melo actually keep an eye on your Mom. She has lost her sun glasses so I had to pick up a new pair. I am not sure it matters that they are not prescription. Hope you are having fun!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The New Facility

We moved into the new facility on Monday of this week, and it was a bit of a logistical nightmare, although a big improvement. You can see the warehouse style we now exist in and one of the abs classes. I threw in a picture of Big Al, who despite how he looks claims he is not a wise guy. He has been here the same time I have and had a great first week, but then started hitting the town at Spago's and other fining, and his second week was less productive. Don't thing Big Al gets it! There are many like him, who are perfect for the first 9 hours of the day and then resume the binging, eating and other crazy shit that got them here. I hate em al'.

Week Three Part 1

Here are the trainers. There is "Fat Tim", Areligh in the black, the taskmaster Greg in the Grey Sweat Suit and Blair in the yellow. IT does not really matter who you are dealing with they find a way to make you work, other the Fat Tim who is new and an underling. Week Three started off with a weigh in seeing me having lost about 20 lbs to 207.5. Lost some inches and my waist is 37.5, chest 46 and the rest does not matter, but about a half inch off hips, thighs and arms. So it is working, and now less then two weeks. This place sucks.