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! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUOgqefnt_I