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.