Friday, December 26, 2008

Whew! I finally got the computer back!

I have been in withdrawal since I had to face the reality that I had viruses on the computer. It was so weird and insidious. I got some emails from friends telling me that there was a problem with some weird viruses. I stupidly thought, "I am so lucky that I don't have that problem." The last two weeks have been hell. I have tried and tried to get Internet Explorer to work. I found ways to circumvent one problem, but I could never get to Google and to my blog or anyone else's blog. Then I got these awful a/v alerts that kept popping up in the middle of something. Then some how the pop ups would take over the computer and I would lose what I was doing.

Through the power of friendship and a knitting buddy, I found a computer repairman that was Good. Now-I just have to figure out how to personalize the computer again to my pictures, and my own wallpaper. It seems so foreign to me right now.

I just want to say, I'll do a proper post tomorrow. Right now I have to figure out what got saved and what didn't. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Time To Celebrate The Season!

Don't you just love singing carols along with the music. It's easy to imagine that I am singing on key and in sync with the person singing the song. This is only done in the privacy of my own home. Some carols still make me cry-like "Mary, Did You Know?"- and some just make me feel season-y.

As promised-here are the pics of the shawl I finished. Isn't it pretty?

It actually started with a pattern, but then I couldn't figure out some of the pattern stuff, and I just started doing my own thing. I kinda figured I'd just keep adding onto the wings and I would get to a stopping point some time. Then I started thinking about the border. So I found a nice border I liked in Folk Shawls that is a knitted-on border. I liked that it was just a ten row repeat-easy for me to remember. So I stopped when I got to a number that was divisible by ten. I think that was around 330 stitches. I used 6 balls of Taos, a wool for Crystal Palace. Warning-the yarn does bleed. When I blocked it, I actually soaked it in Kookaburra wool wash, then stretched it out. I decided not to use pins or wires since it was garter stitch. The border really didn't need to be stretched either.
So we've had a really cold spell-below freezing for three days straight-with wind. Now it is in the 50's with a south wind. Why are people getting sick all around you? One might ask that, but it is pretty evident. Now we are gearing up for an even colder beginning of next week. Single digits at night. Below freezing during the day. There is a slight promise of maybe snow on Christmas Eve. But Christmas Day is another warm-up day. Go figure!
I am busy knitting a color-stranded hat and my friend's husbands socks. Nothing else going on. I have one more get-together tomorrow, and that's it. The Spinning Guild is having their party and gift exchange tomorrow up on Boston Mountain.
Colleen-co-owner of HandHeld Knitting-is hosting a launch for our knit-a-long cardigan/jacket found in Simply Shetland 5 on December 28. I just can't decide about it. I just don't feel like I want to invest a LOT of money, and I am trying to plan knits with my handspun yarn right now. I have a week to mull this over. I have some handspun that I think would work, but there isn't enough for the length of the sweater. Sigh! I have to think on this.
Last night at our Thursday Night Knitting Group JF and TR bought some Noro Silk Garden to make Brooklyn Tweeds rib scarf. That might be a nice knit-a-long too. It seems a lot of folks are doing that scarf.
Anyway-keep singing and eating and having fun. 'Tis the season.
Oh! Last weekend there were probably a minimum of 50 people at the Wild Foods Party. It was fun. The slide presentations were exquisite. And AE set up a video on his TV of the trip to Africa. The gorillas are amazing. This was bushwhacking at the MAX. I have never been good at bushwhacking on a long-term basis. I mean these porters simply whacked a trail with a machete and moved up into the mountains. The give-a-way that gorillas were nearby were the hordes of flies circling overhead. And there they were.
Until later.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

O.K. What's the Deal With the Weather?

It's warm, it's windy, it's cold, it's yucky, it's cloudy-the weather is all over the place. We have a new storm brewing westerly, and it's to hit tomorrow evening-I think. Then the whole week is a bust. Whew!

Anyway, I FINISHED the shawl. Pics to come when it dries. I actually washed it before blocking. I have two little kitties that love to get in my lap when I am knitting big things. I blocked it out last night. I decided to not put pins or wires in. It is garter stitch, and I just wanted it to look flat and pretty. There was no need to stretch the lace panel at the bottom. I like it. It will be warm and toasty.

I am doing what I said I would never do. A friend begged me to knit her husband a pair of socks. She is paying for it, of course, and I got her email this morning with all the measurements. They live in another state, and this will be a first time to knit socks without the owner there to try on, etc. She also asked me to knit a pair for her mom, who is 96 years old. I think the newest pair I just finished will fit Olga just fine. They are too snug for my fat foot, and they haven't been worn yet. Her mom is always cold, and wears flannel shirts over everything.

So I sat down immediately this a.m. and cast on for another pair of socks. Not only did I say I am not knitting another pair of socks for a while, but I also said a long time ago, I am no longer in business to sell. Well......

I finished the black alpaca that I started at the Alpaca Show, and now I am spinning some Jacob fleece. I actually sent this fleece off to a mill to be processed into roving. It is yummy and so easy to spin. I love the sheen in it. It is a natural heathery color of beige, brown, and grey. I love it. I also know the animal that shared the fleece, and that makes it special.

Tonight is the Wild Foods Party at CJ and AE's house. It is the final get-together of my "family" here. There is a Slip and Slide at the Leflars house on New Year's Eve. But sometimes it doesn't happen. And sometimes they are out of town. So this is the official last get-together.

So I am going to take a nap this afternoon, and I will eat a little something late for lunch. The eating doesn't happen until 7 or 7:30 ish. And that is way past my normal evening meal time. At about 9 or so the shows start. It is traditional that folks bring a slide show to show what they did during the year. And there are sometimes old shows thrown in. This all started in the old days when it was real slides. Now it is all electronic. There seem to be more glitches with computers, etc. So it seems to go slower. Finally people wind down and either go home or find a place to sleep for the night.

On Sunday we always do an eagle walk. There are so many eagles in this area this time of year. After the walk we have a HUGE breakfast. Then folks start going home. It is a real relaxing type of family get-together.

I always say I am never going to do anything for Christmas. As I do every year, I suddenly get high-behind and start doing little things. I made AE's mom and CJ's mom each a neck warmer. I have made hair scrunchies for a friend's granddaughters. And I have made a coupla other little gifts. That is why I took so long to finish the shawl. I am already thinking of a next project involving some handspun Alpaca yarn. It will be later after I finish the cap with strand colorwork. That is not going well. I have already frogged a lot of it. I can't seem to get the rhythm going to this. I also have to read the pattern out loud as I knit. Weird!

So-back to socks!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Brief Holiday!

I took Monday off to visit my friend CF in Jaspar. Actually she lives 7 or 8 miles north of Jaspar, but as a reference we always say Jaspar. I'm rambling. Sorry! Anyway, this is a very rural, small, mountain town that is touristy, but not awful. It is close to many, many outdoor recreational places (The Buffalo River, for one!), so there are lots of campgrounds, trailheads, and canoeing places all around. The National Park service and the National Forest Service have maintained much of the old mountain areas, and after this many years they are somewhat friendly with the locals. Not all the locals, mind you. Just a few years ago some friends encountered the traditional local way of greeting those foreigners that float the River. They got rocks chunked at them as they paddled by.

Anyway, when one goes to this area of the mountains, you can go the tourist road north through Harrison. Or you can go the scenic mountain roads south. I choose the mountain roads mostly. I always have to watch out for the things I have always looked for- logging trucks, deer, and slow moving vehicles. And the roads are very winding and steep.

Anyway, as one moves into Boxley Valley I always look for the old mill pond, and there are the three swans that have been re-introduced into the area. They have survived not only the local hunters, but the 4-legged predators, too. I always gauge the state of the beavers when I look over the mill pond area. If the beavers have been busy, the whole swampy area is flooded. It is a wonderful sight to see.

Of course, from this point on, one has to keep an eye out for elk. Yes, elk! They were re-introduced several years ago, and they are doing exceptionally well. I have to scan the far edges of the fields near the cane breaks, and unfortunately, I only got to see one. They are becoming part of the tourist thing now. Elk-watching! They even have places set up near the ranger stations that tell all about the elk. Weird, huh?

Anyway, I ticked off places in my head as I got closer to Jaspar. There should be an old house-place here, there is the old barn I remember, and there should be a little cemetery here. I love the colors this time of year too. The far mountains look blue and smoky, and the the greys, browns, and greens are all shades. The sycamores have their off-white bark. The lichens and moss on the rocks is gorgeous!

My friend CF is a potter. She sells her things at a gallery in Branson, MO. So that is what we did yesterday-a fast trip to Branson. I have never been to Branson. I have only seen the plethora of advertising for all the shows and entertainment stuff. This has kept me from going there. But CF wanted me to see some things she had found.

After delivering her stuff, we went to a public parking deck. We walked over to the pedestrian mall near the river. It is a nice place downtown, and it is AWAY from all the touristy show stuff. Anyway, we walked all the way up one side, down the other, and then ate lunch in a wonderful restaurant. Then we walked the other direction for a while to digest our food. By this time, we were ready to go home. We are both old hermits that prefer our quiet, secluded lives.

Within a few minutes we were out in the country again and heading home. After visiting a little bit, I headed back my same route. I noticed that it was cloudier and it got dark quick. But I was home really early-around 6 p.m.

Last night a few thunderstorms passed through. It is cloudy, foggy, and windy. Last night the weatherman said something about snow, but it is in the 50's now! So I don't know about the cold front heading our way!

No pics-sorry. I never can get a winter mountain picture to look as good on print as it does to my eyes. The elk was a LONG ways away, and the swans were not conducive to picture-taking.
It was just refreshing for me to take a day away and to just drive to some place I love. The mountains are gorgeous any season, but I love the wintertime.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Car Is Smarter Than I Am!

I was driving along with a friend one day, and I saw this weird little symbol pop up on the guages. I said, "Look at that! What in the world can that little sign mean?" Or at least something like that. My friend told me it was an indicator that my tire pressure was off. This is puzzling-like how does my car know that my tire pressure is off? So later on I look in the book, and sure enough, that was the meaning of my symbol. Then when talking to others, I was reminded that the weather had changed. Oh, yeah! Wasn't there something in Physics 101 that told us that gases change when the temperature. Sorta like our abdomen expanding with the gases! No? Well, anyway, I wasn't sure if I added more or not. There is no cute little saying that tells us what to do. Spring forward, Fall back. That helps. But cold add, hot,take away. No nothing to help me figure it out. So I ignored the light. And I ignored my friends telling me I was wasting gas.

Then last week another warning- Maintenace required. Hmmm! So I looked in the book, and sure enough, my car was telling me it was time to change the oil! Now isn't that something?!? My car knows when to change the oil.

So dutifully, I made an appointment for this morning to take care of these little issues. I struggled with what knitting to take, and should I take a book, just in case. And true to what he told me, it took 45 mins to complete. They even washed my car. Which is nice since it is now raining!

How did cars get so smart? I remember my father always checked the tire pressure when we left on a trip. My grandmother always told the man at the service station to check the tires. That, of course, was during the days of Full-Service gas stations. And I have checked my tire pressure when I go on a road trip. But I've never obsessed over it. So now I have to figure out what to do when the little symbol pops up.

I am in a knitting slump. I want to finish some little Christmas stuff. But I am slowly finishing the lace band edging for the shawl. I can't decide if it is procrastination reflecting the end of a project, or just that I am tired of it. I am studying lots of Fair Isle books, and reading techniques, and trying to get an idea of what I want to do there. That hasn't finished fermenting yet in the brain. I am not in the mood to knit socks. I guess I am tired of socks right now. That's so odd since I always have socks on the needle.

I think I am heading towards my winter-time slump. I have been keeping myself busy trying not to head that way. But I think it is coming. I am already antsy about yard work. And I have been planning yard stuff in my head at night when I can't sleep. I think I can plant some spinach by next month if the weather holds out. It is really dark and dreary right now. It seems to be about 5 p.m. and it isn't even 2 p.m.!

Talk later. Gotta go catch a cat with a bird in its mouth.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snow!

Okay! It's not a lot of snow. But yesterday I woke up and saw the snow falling outside! First Snow! Remember last year how excited I was! First Snow! Yeah! Well, it didn't last very long, and it was windy and cold all day long. Light flurries flew around, but not much sticking to the ground. There was a light dusting. This morning I woke up and still snow flurries, and my deck was covered! Yeah! First Snow!

Be aware that this will probably be the last time I am excited about winter. I don't like the darkness, I don't like the windy cold, and I don't like the mucky that comes after the snow. Or ice-I hate ice.

Enough of that. Have a few alpaca pics from the alpaca show this past weekend. I love alpacas. It was so neat to stand there and listen to the humming. I went early on Friday to just watch them unloading them and putting them in their stalls. But the spinning guild provided spinners both days, and I went both days.

Being beautiful is tiring work. Sometimes a gal just has to take a nap!

The photo on the poster is Helga. She really looks like that. They did not groom her to look like that. The woman who owns her told me she had to have her when she first saw her. She thought she might really be a Dr. Seuss animal in disguise.

So a fun weekend with lots of fiber goodness. It was so good to get to know the animals. I have always been one to know the farmer and the animal that provides the fiber I spin. It was fun to watch a little bit of the showing. The animals were superb, although by Sunday most were ready to go home to their own barns. There were not a ton of vendors. Mostly the vendors were the ranchers themselves with a booth at their spot. Lots of sweaters, hats, socks, and gloves knit somewhere outside the U.S. I don't want to say where to avoid an international incident. I guess I should have taken my knitting and walked around with my knitting in my hand. I thought I was doing good wearing my homemade socks and sweater.
It reminds me that we really need some help here. There is a wide gulf between the knitters, spinners, and weavers and the farmers. They asked the spinning guild to judge the fibers. So several folks in our guild did that. But the judging sheet was not adequate for our needs. But we were not allowed to change it. Also, the fiber itself was poorly chosen. The guild members were appalled at some of it.
So education seems to be in order here. I personally think that the farmers have no clue how the fiber is processed. They really don't care. They ship it off. It either gets sold off, or it is processed into something they can sell. They are unaware of how the fiber should be treated, or how it should be gently processed. They are out of the loop. So until the education is done, the farmers will continue selling yarn processed at a mill somewhere out there, and they will sell sweaters, hats, socks, and gloves processed somewhere outside the U.S.
So end of lecture for today.
I have to finish making my birds a treat for the day. I baked some cornbread, and now I am going to add it to some suet mixture. They need the extra protein and fat today with the wind.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Is Wrong With EBlogger?

If you are wondering what is going on- here's the way the quote is supposed to be:

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Have a good Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving! A Time for Gratitude!

cted at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.” ~ AlTo educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is direbert Schweitzer

This is the holiday I always set aside as my special day of gratitude. I don't like to mingle with crowds of people, and I don't like to stuff myself with rich food. As a hermit and a curmudgeon, I prefer to be alone. As a practise, I began to do prayers of gratitude years ago.

Of course, I do say prayers of gratitude every day. What makes this day special? I guess it is the change in the season. It is the time of year there is lots of gluttony, ego, and selfishness going around. I just decided this was a day to try to balance the world a little bit. In my own little corner.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melodie Beattie

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wait! It's Not Christmas Yet!

About 44 days to Christmas-and the Christmas cactus is blooming. This is the first blossom. It was pure white with a pink stamen. Very sexy-for a flower anyway!

The second flower is pale yellow. I swear last year I remember pink, but maybe I don't remember well. They are very pretty. But it isn't time yet to bloom. Oh-well-who am I to tell the plant when to bloom and not to bloom?
This is Uni. She is my new other me. It is a Uniquely You dress form. This is Uni naked out of the box.

This is Uni after the first fitting. I have to try on this cover and fit it on me. It has to be skin tight. When I put the cover back on Uni, it was two inches two big in the bust and hips. The waist was just right. So again back to the sewing machine, and now I have a Uniquely You that is my size.
At least I would look like this if I had on a body shaper. It does not show the lumps and bumps and rolls. I guess I could stick on some padding in places, but I really don't need a reminder of that. I see it everyday. At least now I can place stuff on her and see how it drapes or fits. I think this is a good thing to have.

I am now putting the lace border on the shawl I have been working on. I am almost finished with another pair of socks. And then I think I am going to go back and finish some things I started and never finished. Maybe.
I think I am getting a cold. I am not a happy camper. But I am trying to stay away from others, and I am doing my best to not spread the cheer to others. So stay home, knit, read, and not be sociable.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The ? Future of Knitting?

There is nothing to say. Once you've seen them, you will see what I mean!

I had surprise visitors yesterday. I was watching t.v., knitting, and thinking about putting supper in the oven. And here comes my friend CF, her daughter and two grandsons. Both the boys took naps, and we caught up on news. Both the boys were not "feeling well", and I hate to admit that as soon as they left I wiped things down with Clorox wipes. And I took the pillowcases and blanket and put in the laundry room.

But it was nice to see them all again. They live in a town that is about 3 hours from here, and B. wanted to go to an art gallery opening to see if she could get a show there. She has always done this funky, surrealistic type of painting. She can do conventional stuff, but doesn't like it. She would rather not sell something than compromise her way of doing it. Obviously she needs support from her husband and mother to do this. But don't get me started on this.

I ordered a Uniquely You dress form. I got an email that it was shipped on Thursday. I have already named her Uni. I haven't got a clue how this is going to affect my psyche to see "myself" in 3-D. I am really a little bit nervous about it. I think this will help me make better fitting sweaters and things. And I can see how things drape easier than trying to put it on me and peering in the mirror backwards.

We have had the most pleasant Fall weather this week. It has been in the high 50's-maybe touching low 60's briefly in the heat of the day-and cooler in the 30's at night. It has been very windy and the leaves are blowing off the trees. I got my new Roman shades that have insulation on them for the North windows. So I am ready for the cold. No, I lied. I am not ready for it to come. But when it does, I am prepared.

My neighbors' son brought a load of fill to put on the west side of the driveway to fill in where everything is settled. Now the whole family is getting involved. I must be their "project". He told me that he was doing some work around the yard, and had dug out a lot of "fill", and he would just bring it over and take care of the low spots for me. So when I got home Thursday night, there was the first load put in. I just shake my head and sigh. I guess colder weather will keep them at home. But I guess I have to get tough next Spring and Summer.

I guess I will go and watch Fons and Porter on t.v. I am cutting out quilt pieces right now for a simple, easy quilt. So maybe this will inspire me to keep on working on that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Day!

These are three little skeins of yarn I just finished for JF. She gave me some roving she bought a LONG time ago, and asked me to spin them for her. It was an interesting batch. The one on the left is 4 ozs of Wensleydale, the one in center is 2 ozs of merino/silk, and the bottom one is 2 ozs of merino/tencel. JF said she thought she wanted to learn to spin, went to a class, bought a spindle and these rovings. I personally would never have suggested merino/tencel for a beginner on a spindle. But......... This is the merino/silk. It took the dye the brightest. The colors really were distinct with the silk.
This is the merino/tencel. As you can tell, it is really shiny. I had little tencel fibers stuck all over me when it was done. It also bled pink when I washed it. But only on the first wash.

These colors are more what I think of for JF. She likes the soft and muted tones of the dyes. This wool was a little bit scratchy. Not really good for a scarf or anything close to the skin. I have never spun Wensleydale before. It is also hairy. I did put some Lanolin rinse on after the wash, but it didn't seem to help a whole lot.

Now this is the newest thing! I have been putting my fleeces, rovings, dyed stuff, etc. in these storage boxes for about ten years. I have lived in cramped quarters for a while. This was the only way I found to store them safely. Since moving to my house, I put all these boxes in the storage shed. Well...... what a treasure hunt this has been.

I have no idea where the blue, pink or some of this stuff actually came from, or how it was dyed. Evidently, and I am sure this is the truth, I would get a spurt of creativity and I would dye a little batch of something. I then put it in a bag and stuffed it into the storage box. This will have to stop now. I can't be guessing this stuff.
But here's proof that I actually used to dye correctly. I found this roving in a bag marked:
Green Hulls, Black Walnut, Iron Water, Gray Wool. It is 2.5 ozs. I carded it up this morning, and it is so lovely. When it is in the sun, there are golden fibers shining through. I am going to spin this up right now. I love it.

I cannot believe that this is finally the end of all this campaigning stuff. I am sick to death of everybody. I have been invited to a party tonight to watch the t.v. reports. But I personally will probably read, knit, or maybe spin during the whole evening. I may occaisonally go to the t.v. to check on progress, but I am not going to glue myself to it. I have no control over the outcome. I have cast my vote, and that's all I can do.
Today is the 4th of November and I am wearing shorts around the place. I was cold this morning and I put on sweats. But while carding up the wool, I got very hot. So I put on shorts. On the 4th of November! A cold front is due tomorrow, with rain, and then we will be back to normal.
I am going to start spinning. Talk at ya later.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy All Saint's Day

It is so hard to believe it is November 1. My gosh! This year is almost over!
Some things to be grateful for today-
warmer weather, lots of sun, a quiet deck, birds chirping all around, hawks looking for a snack overhead, and geese flying by.
I have been sitting on my deck spinning, and enjoying the sunshine. Somehow it is important to sit in the sun while I can. One winter my husband told me I was a lizard at heart. He could always find me in a spot somewhere outside in the sunshine and away from the wind. The winters seem so long.
CJ and I were discussing this last weekend. I have a little trick that as soon as Solstice arrives, I tell myself every day that the days are longer now. But about late February and into March, this doesn't work. It is when winter is breaking, and the transition is occurring. I just want to be outside digging in the dirt. But it is too early for most gardens here.

So today is a sunshine day. Sit outside on the deck, soak up as much as I can, and enjoy the day for what it is. And be grateful that it is a sunshine day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October-Spider Hunt-Mirkwood!

Let me explain. For all these years, these fool people have been spider hunting in October. Hence the sign! It is not a snipe hunt, as most people think when it is explained. It is very real. If you are not afraid of spiders, put a light (small flashlight will do) above your eyes pointing out in front of you. Most of us put it in the middle of our foreheads. You can use a small headlight or the light for the bill of a cap. The light will reflect off the eyes of a spider, and you will be able to see it because the light is above your head. The kids love it! They told me all the different kinds of spiders they found. No harm is done to any critter-eight-legged or two-legged. So we rounded the corner after fording #9 creek crossing, and almost immediately it was apparent that VM had been there decorating the road.
This is AE clowning around.

The trick or treaters started milling around around 5pm or so.

This is AE modeling the poncho CJ hand-spun out of alpaca and wove on her loom.

I might get in trouble with some of my readers if I mentioned what costume this is. The name on the sweatshirt might be a clue.

Even Flossie got dressed up.

As usual, we ate like pigs. There were four or five different meats, and assorted salads, veggies, yummy biscuits, and four or five cakes afterwards. There were two birthdays celebrated in October. Afterwards I thought it was about time to head to my tent, and someone said it was only 7-ish! So I forced myself to stay awake until at least 8:30 p.m.
I found this handy-dandy clip-on light at Target, and it was great for knitting in the dark out on the porch. We were all tired and some of us went to bed early.
I woke up and thought it was about time to get up. I unzipped my sleeping bag, got out of the tent, and was kinda disoriented with the quietness, the dark, and the stars overhead. After a quick potty break, I climbed back into the tent, zipped into my sleeping bag, and dug out my watch. It was 1:30 a.m!
Our wake-up call were two owls talking. I think they must have been courting each other. She was very coquettish and giggly.
People started moving around about 9 a.m., and we started getting our usual community breakfast together. There was bacon, sausage (two different kinds), ham, scrambled eggs with veggies in them, fruit and AE's biscuits. And some leftovers from the night before.
After all that feasting, some people packed and started leaving. One of the adults took all the kids on a long hike. About 1 p.m. we cleaned the cabin, made sure all the dishes were washed, and sat outside in the sun talking. I, of course, could not just sit. I knit.

Another successful family reunion at Mirkwood! Next year we start over again. The last get-together will be at CJ's and AE's house in December. That will be it for 2008!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Time For Alpaca Goodness!

Saturday our spinning guild had our annual meeting at Bill Shaddox's alpaca farm. That is his partner Bruce holding the lead for Lulu Mae. Do you remember last year she was called the Kisser? She is now called the Ambassador at the alpaca shows.
I think his bangs are much prettier than mine ever could be.

I didn't get to ask, but I think this might be the little guy we saw last year as a cria in Bruce's arms. Isn't that the cutest face?

I never could get a good photo of General Beauregard. He has a streak across his forehead and a white triangle on his nose. Quite a charmer!
We had a good time. There is much discussion about the upcoming fiber show this weekend. Unfortunately-or fortunately- I am off to Mirkwood for our annual family reunion. You know this is October when we all trek off to the woods and camp out for the weekend. Hopefully it won't be too wet this weekend. We have had a cold snap with rain, but no freezes yet.
I am still plugging along with the shawl that I started the day the Hurricane hit Texas. I am always working on a pair of socks. I love the yarn. It is gray with small stripes of orange, yellow, and occasional olive green. There is a white space that comes up periodically due to dyeing issues, but it is okay.
I have dug out my handspun yarn that I have done in the past year. I smelled it, fondled it, and looked it over. I want to do a sweater like the Twisted Sisters did in their book. I have put the idea in the brain and now it has to percolate. I think it is a good idea to make a pattern so one knows where the knitting is going. I wish I still had the butcher paper that I used to have. I'll have to do something else to equal that. Maybe a paper bag would be strong enough.
I also have plans for the yarn that I spun a hundred years ago to make my husband a sweater. I never did that, but I have 1,295 yards of it spun. It is a single, and it has thick and thin quality. It is about the weight of Aran yarn-5 stitches to the inch on size 6 needle. I do not like the scratchiness of the yarn that much, but it was all I could get at the time. This was pre-Internet and pre-getting decent wool. I think I want to dye it something to bring it up to the 21st century.
So as soon as the shawl is done, the percolating will be done and I can get down to a sweater. Yawn! This is kinda boring, isn't it?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Moon Shadows!

You start here! Black and White Alpaca!
Spin it into a little bit of yarn!
Then knit it into a shawlette!

I call it Moon Shadows. When I first starting spinning it, I looked up at a pastel drawing on the wall. I like the drawing because it is in the shadows, and the frame I bought extended the feeling of the shadows. As I stared at the drawing, I admitted to myself that shadows are really interesting features in an art piece. A few nights later I was driving home late and noticed the shadows from the moon. Remember I used to live really out in the boonies. Then when I was spinning the yarn, I thought, "This is like moon shadows." I thought of the differences in sun shadows and moon shadows. So this is what I focused on while I was spinning it.

I chose the shawlette because I really don't need another big shawl. I found this Sivia Harding design called "Victorian Shoulderette." It is really lovely and light and soft. It just covers the shoulders and drapes about bicep level on the arm. It fastens in the front with a pin.

Oh! That's the other thing I thought of while spinning it. I have a silver pin that is oval, has a tree in silhouette, and a moon out of mother of pearl peeking from behind the limbs. I knew it was perfect for the shawlette after I started thinking of moon shadows.

So that's how crazy my creativity is. I love this because it worked out just as I was thinking, and it is the perfect little something to put over one's shoulders to keep a draft off the neck.

Monday, October 13, 2008

And The Winner Is.......

Ten ozs of yellow wool. I could not get a picture of true color. This is a bright, clear deep yellow-almost golden. I forgot how much room and mess dyeing can be. I have been using Kool-Aid and other easy dyes that are convenient. So I had to dig around in the shed to find my big pots, and to find my mordants. So now the mind is saying, "We need a dye shed." Some place to store all the mess, some place to find things easily, and some place I can go to, mix up the dye, turn on the new dyepot, and get it done. Right now I have a HUGE mess in the kitchen, and this is not going to work.

Today I am off to see some black walnut. I have a friend that I call a Scrounger. He finds things. He asked me if I wanted some daffodils. So we spend a half a day at this sight that had been bought by developers. The older houses had been torn down, and the new construction had not been built. We dug and dug and dug. He calls me when he finds stuff. So yesterday he asked me if I wanted some black walnut to carve. I am supposed to meet him this afternoon to see what's there before they remove the tree.

Yesterday was a play day. I went over to CJ's house, and we worked a little bit in her studio. Then I cooked a frozen pizza while she went to get her mom. So after eating our pizza, another friend stopped by and we knit, carded wool, and just visited. It was a nice early Fall day and we sat outside. It wasn't too hot since the clouds hug around mostly.

Have a good week.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Is That Smell?

My newest toy! It is a 28-quart turkey fryer/steamer. It is electric with digital controls. I was going to buy one of those big propane kind on a stand that has to be done outdoors. But when I found this one-there was no question. It can be used indoors, and it has a spigot to drain the pot.
So no lifting the thing to drain the pot. It's like a giant crockpot. So I am initiating it! A dye pot that will hold 8 ozs of wool easily. None of this fussy cooking 2 ozs in a regular dye pot. The only catch-I have to stand on a ladder to see the controls. I have already set the temp and it got there in about 15-20 mins. So while the dye pot is cooking, I turned it off for a while.

Yes-sir-ree-bob! It's marigolds!! I know I am not the only person in the world who puts flowers in the deep freeze until there is enough for a dye pot. But it has been a long time since I have actually made a dye pot from scratch. And I forgot that the smell of boiling flowers is really pungent. Thank goodness it is not a stinky dye pot. I have made a few of those.

This is too exciting! I can't hardly wait. I will report back the results. I always set my standards low on natural dye pots, since I am not a chemist and never-ever measure accurately.
I never can duplicate the darn things. I did measure the amount of water to put into the big pot. And I will measure the amount of alum/cream of tartar to use for mordant. But from there it is a guess. I could not tell you the amount of flowers I am cooking. I know I will use 8 ozs of wool as my test run. That's it! There are a few correopsis in this mess, but 90 percent is marigold.

So stay tuned! It is surely getting exciting around here!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The New Porch!!

My new screened-in porch is completed!! Isn't it beautiful? It will be a wonderful place to sit and relax when I get some nice porch furniture. A new outdoor knitting room or spinning room.

The last of the cross-ties went in yesterday. My neighbor helped move all the left-over dirt from the front to the back with his tractor. So the new dirt spot in the front is where I will plant a tree. I am about done with this yard stuff for the season. SH and I are going to the City of Fayetteville compost/mulch place and get a truck-load today. I need to get some manure from my friend with the horse farm. That should do it. Now the little planties need to survive through the winter. Then it starts all over again next year.

I leave you with this music video from Mason-Dixon. Whodathunkit? Not only do they write, but they sorta kinda sing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Is This Monday-or What?

I was appalled to find out that two posts that I thought I posted were not posted. It doesn't make sense. I can go to where the posts are stored, and I cannot figure out how to get them posted from storage. I cannot figure out why they weren't posted in the first place. It's one of those deep-computer mystery things.

Anyway-I am totally exhausted today, and I declared this a rest day. Despite that, I am doing laundry, dishes, etc.

I finally sorta kinda finished the front flower bed. I haven't got all the cross ties in place yet. My neighbor finally got the part for his tractor and tootled over here to load up a big portion of the topsoil pile and place it into the flower bed proximity. He and his wife went away in their HUGE RV for a week, and that gave me plenty of time to rototill the piles of dirt and rake them into an assemblage of level. I finally decided to wheelbarrow several loads of dirt into the middle to pile it up higher. I them planted all my flowers I bought. Now it looks silly with this little batch of flowers in the center of this HUGE flower bed. But in a coupla years this will all be a memory. And it will look gorgeous.

HandHeld Knitting-my LYS- has moved a block and a half into a real store front. Yes, everyone complains because the little cottage was like a home for knitters everywhere. But this looks more sophisticated and upscale. It has a better traffic flow-hopefully-better lighting, and the whole shop is in one room. Better for the cashier/storekeeper. There is a small loft that is planned for a classroom. Several of us helped out last week with the move and arranging of yarn into bins. It should be a good thing once the newness wears off.

Our knitting night has changed with the move. We will now be meeting on Thursday evenings. Other stores will be open, and it should bring in traffic as well.

My friend from California came for the weekend. She has been at her cabin in Oklahoma, and she needed a break from her repairs. So we got the dump site mostly cleaned out in the back. When I began digging around, I found where the previous owners dumped all their trash. After we finished, we went into Fayetteville to the recycling center with 4 garbage bags full of beer and whiskey bottles. The rest of the recycled stuff can be picked up with my service. There were three garbage bags full of trash. There are bulk items that will have to wait until the end of October for pick up by my service. And I have a pile of metal and wires that I will have to call another service for that pick up. Of course, there will be plenty more to clean up once the leaf off is completed. But the majority of it is gone.

I could not believe that today I bought gas for $3.17. There is a gas war going on. I really didn't need any gas, but I topped off my tank while I could get the deal.

I am slowly getting stuff organized in my sewing and storage room. I bought these nice Rubbermaid drawer units at Walmart. They are deep drawers, and they hold a lot of stuff. I am emptying my Rubbermaid containers that are stacked up. I am trying to put one type of thing in each drawer, labeling the drawer, and that will keep things handier than the system I had. I like them a lot. They are not pretty or wood or anything, but they are highly functional. I am thinking about getting a door at Lowe's or Home Depot and put on top of two of them to make a big cutting table. It's a plan; we will see.

Hopefully this will publish. I don't know what to do about the other ones. I guess they are lost in the black hole of blogland.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You When............?

A friend and I were having lunch last week. He surprised me when he asked, "Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated?" I told him, and I repeated where I was when RFK and Martin Luther King were assassinated. I even told him where I was when Elvis died and Lennon was assassinated.

It reminds me that in a sociology class we were discussing values of a culture and mores, etc., etc. Boring stuff. It was interesting that the instructor said that our values are set at age ten from the adults and society we live in, and from age ten to around age 16 we develop our own values from experimenting with our place in that society. The only thing that changes this whole parameter is a catastrophic event. Like assassination, like war, like Hurricane Katrina, or a tsunami that wipes out everything. Or famine, or invasion of one's country, or anything along that line. So my generation was effected by 3 assassinations of world leaders and a really bad war that was killing my generation off. And two social icons were killed.

Now I am not trying to say that my generation was special. My mother's generation was effected by the Depression during their young years, and by a World War that was killing off their generation. My grandparents had their own struggles.

I don't know where I am going with these thoughts. But I do know that today is September 11. I do know where I was on September 11, 2001. I do know that I think it is a very tragic event in our history. And a monumental one at that. But I am not as effected by that as someone who is of the generation surrounding that event.

But go back to the original thought. When we think about Iraq or Afghanistan, think about the effects of our invasion on the mores and societal impact that we created for the children and young people of those countries. It will show up within the next 20-30 years.

And think of any other society we do not understand-or even pretend to understand. What impact will you have on the people in that society? What impact will we have on the children that were snatched from the compound of that religious sect in Texas at gunpoint? We will see in another 20 years. What effect did we have on the poor little Cuban boy that was snatched out of a closet in Miami at gunpoint?

I guess we will find out in a few more years.

Meanwhile, I leave you with a picture of Noodles birdwatching out his kitty door. I understand this more than I understand what we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

If you build one, why not two?!?

O.K. It starts as I think I would like to dig up that space between the two sidewalks and make a big cottage garden with indigenous flowers that are more prairie flowers than anything else. Then.....I think this is a wonderful idea because I wouldn't have to mow that area.

My neighbor asks, "Have you been to that nursery down the road?" "No", I said, "I thought it was a wholesale nursery." "Oh, no, they sell retail too. And their prices are much better than W.....'s. ( Another popular nursery) H and I bought our big holly bushes there for only $60 apiece."

On the way home the other day I stopped at the nursery down the road. OMG! They had everything and then some that I wanted. It was like a candy store. So off to home I hurry to measure the space and write down some flowers I would like to have.

So now I have to clear out the grass. I tried the old hoe method that they showed on Ask This Old House. Didn't work. The grass is too tough and thick. So I got out the trusty pick and chop, chop, chop, chop, I had a space about a yard across. This is not going to work either. Takes too long and is too hard to do. So out comes the old rototiller. RRRRRRgh! Works some, but the grass bound up the tiller. Sigh! This is going to be a tough job! Only because I bought some stupid flowers.

This spot is 24 feet on one side, and 31 feet on the long side. It is 9 feet across the short end.

So along comes H, my next door neighbor with his tractor. We worked until after dark and the ground is naked. Except along the edges that I will have do by hand. He wants to disc it up to loosen everything up. Then we can move the topsoil over and Voila! a flower bed. So the next morning-yesterday- he comes over with the tractor to finish up our mess. He had piled up the piles of stuff at the edge of my ravine. It is covered with honeysuckle, wild morning glories, and kudzu. So it is deceptive where the edge is. So he pushed it to where I had mowed, and wanted to look at it in the daylight and mark the edge.

In the conversation, he said he would go ahead and work up that spot in the back where I wanted to make a garden. So off he toodles out to the back yard to work on the bald spot where the pool had been. Weeds have begun growing there, but I figured I could work that up easily.

We have to pause here to discuss my logic. My Daddy always said I have the damnedest logic he had ever heard. Well, when the pool was removed before I bought the place, my logic says, "Oh, a bald place. It could be a garden." Meaning, I wouldn't have to work hard to dig up grass. Well, I have never had an above-ground pool. So little did I know that they had put in red-clay fill and packed it down to make a hard base. And there were lots of rocks for drainage. I kinda got a feel for that when I dug up my little spots to put in the plants I transplanted from my old place.

Well the tractor died after a short while. So now I have a dead tractor in the backyard and part of a bald place. After H left, I worked for a coupla hours digging out rocks, and piling up rocks in the wheelbarrow. I dug out weeds along the area he couldn't reach with his tractor.

So long story short, I bought some plants, and suddenly I have two beds to work on-one front and one back. Sigh! How does one get into these messes?