Monday, August 31, 2009

Brrr! It's Chilly-For August!

Yesterday SSK (Sunday Sock Knitters) met at the LYS. We had yummy food, and everyone was excited. The packages from our sock buddies was amazing. I got some beautiful Swiss yarn, chocolate, and this toy for the kitties. Noodles "killed" it this morning. It looks like a real mouse, except for the tag hanging off it's leg.

The weather is definitely cooler. It has been in the 50's at night. It is downright cool in the mornings when I wake up. My gauge of what the weather is doing is watching the cats. Noodles went galloping through the house twice in the night. He chirples as he runs. He is a 17 pounder, and it is very loud when he runs. Baby likes to slide on the kitchen floor. Right now her toy du jour is a plastic ring from a milk container. They skitter across the floor very easily without too much effort. They are definitely hunting more, too. Noodles has gotten two birds in two days and left remains for me to clean up.

I have been thinking more of warm food. I am not in a salad kind of mood lately. I haven't eaten watermelon in at least a week. Bread is coming to my mind lately. I had my first hot chocolate since Spring the other night.

So don't be a pooper and tell me that we have one more month of hot weather coming up. This is the strangest August I can remember in a long time. We have had rain and cool weather instead of burn bans, drought, and 100's+ temps with 100% humidity. I will just be happy to not mow so much during the month of September. The rain in August has been awful for mowing.

Company is coming the holiday weekend. So this week will be busy getting the house straight and clean sheets on the guest bed. I need to move things around a little bit. I also will probably cook some food ahead and freeze it.

CJE, JE, and I are getting a little bit excited about our trip to Taos. We leave on the 30th and return on the 6th. I am trying really hard to not spend any money on fiber items until then. I know what it is like there, and I am really excited about it. It will be fun to see the excitement of my traveling buddies as they see the shops and yarns and fibers. Taos is a wonderful place to go this time of year. It is before the snow season and past the hot summer season.

CJE is going to New Hampshire for a workshop this week. She has already planned a side trip to Green Mountain Spinnery. She was asking me yesterday what she should look for there. I suggested she take a tour of the spinnery, and just meet the people there. She will find that really fascinating. She will, of course, fall in love with the yarn, the colors, etc.

So a busy weekend ahead. I may not have time to chat so much next post. But I will try to catch up before the weekend come.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You Gotta Love It!

This is bison fur! It comes FULL of debris, mudballs, burs, etc. etc. It smells smoky, and is amazing! I do not have a machine to dehair, so I sort as best I can. This pile I am working on has hair in it. The hump hair and other coarse hair are easy to separate out, but the regular long hairs are not. This is a pile of debris on my deck. I hand-picked this piece by piece.
I put my fur into lingerie bags and washed in my outside washer. There is no grease, it is only dirt. These guys like to wallow in mud. So some of the patches of down I had were coated in mud.

After drying, it is then put in a pile to be combed. The final picking of "stuff" is done now. I have tried all means of carding. On my carder, the little short fibers clump up on the small side, and it is kind of a mess.

And then I spin it. And then it is ready for something to happen to the yarn. The bison/alpaca blend I made a while back is destined to be made into a cuff for pair of fingerless mitts. It is very warm.
You have to love it to do it! Yes, I did buy some already dehaired, carded down. But it was "pill-y". I don't know how else to describe it. It was hard to spin with all the little balls in there. I like smooth yarn, and this was bumpy. But it is still very pretty, and it is still very warm.
Oh! One thing I have learned, the yarn BLOOMS rather dramatically after it is taken off the blocker.
I will never pay the price for the commercial yarn, or for commercial fiber. This is strictly a love project.
Speaking of love projects, I am currently spinning the yak/merino blend I got in Tacoma. It is from Crown Mountain. This is the softest, yummiest fleece. It spins like butter. It is amazing! I am anxious to get the first skein done so I can see if it blooms. I had a little trouble getting started, and I had to figure out how to feed the fiber and how to hold my hands. But it is wonderful. I am sold on this stuff!
I finally finished the blue, red, and black yarn. I got three skeins, a total of 543 yards, and 5.5 ozs. It is really pretty. I was thinking of using a black yarn with it to do something in color work. I'm not sure yet. I am happy to finish that.
I finished one of the fingerless mitts that I was knitting. I picked up the baby sweater, but I am not happy with it for some reason. I am afraid it is going to get frogged. I put it back down. I need to study it some.
I got the yarn I ordered to warp the loom. That's on the list of things to do. I guess that's about all the news. Have a good rest of the week. Enjoy your fiber works!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wow! Beautiful Weather!

It has been wonderful and cool pre-Fall weather! I cannot believe it is August. It has been in the 50's at night, and I actually got a little chilled during the night. The early mornings are delightful.

I have been working hard on the red,blue, and black yarn. I finished another skein. There was still a little bit of the batts left, and I finished that last night. I wound it onto a ball winder so I can ply it this morning. So what did I do with the ball last night? I cannot find it anywhere. Sigh! This is bizarre.

I started washing the bison yesterday. I decided since there is such a low humidity, this was the perfect time to wash woolly stuff. I picked the best stuff out. This means the stuff with the least amount of straw and burs and mudballs. These boogers really did wallow a lot. I washed two lingerie bags in my outside washer. Now I am busy picking out the next best batch. It is tedious, but it is so worth it in the long run.

My friend OS lost her mother this past week. She had made the committment to care for her mother in her home, and her mother died there. I got a tearful, long phone call that her mother was dying. I got an email later that her mother had passed a coupla hours after our call. Her mother was one of the oldest female veterans. Another generation has been lost.

Our library now has a connection to the Net.library. I went into the library and signed up for that. Now I can download an audiobook to my computer or to my IPod. When it is time, the book disappears from my computer and thus it is "returned". I like to listen to audiobooks while I spin.

Nothing else new. Our sock club meets next Sunday. I am still knitting on my usual stuff, but rather erratically. I am not in the knitting mood right now. My friend GK in Kansas has taken classes in using double points. She has called me several time to ask questions. I am happy to help, but I hope she understands what I am telling her. It seems easier to show someone how to correct the technique, rather than tell them over the phone long distance.

I ordered some yarn to make some kitchen towels on the loom. More update on that at a later date.

Have a good week.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Am I Weird or Are You Weird?

This is what I did today. I finished the blocks for the quilt. I laid them out on the floor, walked away twice, rearranged them, and now I have begun sewing them into rows. Then I sew the rows together and viola! a quilt top is born. I went to my friend SH's daughter's baby shower yesterday. Okay, I am sorry, but am I weird or are they weird? I live under the impression that everyone knits, or sews, or cooks, or something. But my little gifts were the only handmade gifts she got! Isn't that strange? I thought so. And it was so embarrassing when everyone made a big deal out of it, and then RH had to tell everyone about how she still has the baby clothes I made her when she was born. I told her that I have another sweater on the needles, and I would get it to her soon. I also want to make a coupla little hats. But now, I guess I am going to have to think of a blanket. She got tons of store-bought blankets. SH will make this baby a lot of quilts as she has her own kids. But no knitty blanket. Sigh! And I overheard this comment about some baby lotion, "I got that for you because I heard the lavender makes the baby sleepy." Well, duh!, lavender is an herb that has been used to calm everyone since forever. I am sorry to vent, but I felt a little bit out of place at this shower. Everyone was dolled up and oohing and aahing and smiling and giggling. Oh, well, I will get the sweater and hats to her soon.

I am not knitting at all lately. I have been doing catch-up in the yard in the early mornings, and I have been putting up stuff in the freezer. I bought some local apples the other day. I was going to make some applesauce, but my girlfriend today said, "Just dehydrate them for snacks." Good plan. That goes on tomorrow's list of things I gotta do.

CF came to visit Friday, and we went to Siloam Springs to visit a friend that is in a nursing home to get rehab for a shattered hip. His heart is too bad for any surgery, and it was shattered too badly to repair. Then we stopped at the produce stand on the way home. It was a good visit, and we both had a day off from doing any work-like stuff.

I promised a picture of the new loom. Here's my little helper-kitty.

And here's the loom Isn't it cute? I think so. It is a table loom on a floor stand. It has never been used. It is no longer in production, either, since Louet has upgraded this model into a better one. I cannot get the optional treadle kit, but I don't care. This is not going to be a production loom anyway. I just wanted to have it to piddle around and make some small items. Like maybe a baby blanket.

This is a view from the doorway into my knitting and weaving room. Two comfy chairs for knitting, a t.v. and bookcases. What more does one need? Oh- and cat toys all over the floor!

So on to a new week. Have a good one. I am going to continue sewing up the quilt top.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Running On Empty

I had a marvelous time in Kansas despite the heat, the wind, and the dust blowing all over me! I have always said I could never be a pioneer woman living in a soddy. My girlfriend, GK, told me her workplace (Red Cross) showed them a documentary about the Dust Bowl. The Red Cross evidently handed out thousands of masks for people to wear to keep the dust out of your nose and mouth. I showed how women were tearing up any kind of fabric and stuffing all around doors and windows to keep dust out of the cracks. One lady woke up and her baby was buried under a pile of dust in its crib.

Anyway, stupidly I took my knitting bag, my IPod loaded with podcasts, and a book. I never had any down time. My girlfriend was eager to talk and share and do. So we did all those things. She gave me her weaving loom, because she said it was just buried under stuff in the basement. Well, it was. OMG! She moved into her husband's house, and things just got piled up and tossed into her work space. It started with just looking for the shuttles and sleying hook. So we had to open boxes, sacks, and go through piles of stuff. Finally I told her we had to stop to eat.

Sunday we spent all afternoon going through stuff. I started just opening sacks and boxes and piling fabric up onto the shelves. That was the only system I could do right then. Just get it out into the open. I managed to get the loom and stand upstairs. I got the warping board upstairs. I got some yarn and books upstairs. I then started unearthing her sewing machine, her cutting table, and moving her ironing board. We were able to move stuff to the edges of the room, and give her a wide path to move around in. Whew!

And the shuttles and sley hook were sitting on a shelf by the door, and it took all afternoon to see that.

Next time I go, I will start organizing her stash of fabric. I finally remembered that a long time ago (10+ years ago) she had decided she was going to buy everything she needed for later in life. That when she retired or reached her 60's, she would have everything she needed. She would be able to live on a limited income without wanting. I told her she could not buy anything else for a while.

The roads were awful. It is apparent that the Federal interstates are in bad repair. In Oklahoma there were places that were not even mowed. This is okay in my eyes, since I have huge weed patches here too for the birds and wildlife. I am guessing that Tulsa must have gotten some stimulus money, because they are busy trying to improve roads and making a big mess. I had to detour through "God only knows where I am". I finally decided the truck in front of me was going the same direction I was, so I followed him.

I stopped at the produce stand on the way home, and no more corn. Corn is very hard to find this year. I got more peaches and some crowder peas. So as tired as I was, I put peaches up in the freezer and cooked the peas. They are now in the freezer. I haven't been putting as much food up as I normally do every summer.

Yesterday I ran into town for errands while waiting until the yard dried enough to mow. So last night late, I mowed with the riding mower. Now I have to mow with the push mower to do the trim and cut over the rocky areas.

I did not get the cabled sweater finished for The Baby. But it is big and she will get it before the baby is born. It probably will be okay for her Easter sweater next year.

My friend and I went to two yarn shops and two quilt shops while I was there. I did buy more sock yarn, but just enjoyed looking at the shops. I like to get the feel of the layout of stores, and I like to see what is popular in different regions.

I also have been lurking around on blogs reading about the Sock Summit. I know I would have been dead on my feet. That much stimulus and the HIGH ENERGY of everyone there would wear anyone out. It did at Madrona in Tacoma in February. And it was small compared to this.

Well, I guess I will try to get some work done. I didn't mention that my girlfriend has never, ever used her weaving loom. It still had the plastic covering on the reed. So I am trying to make sure that I put it together correctly, and some of the instructions are not making sense. I sit down and study it and look at it and try to figure it out.

I did tidy up the house before I left-vacuum, clean the bathrooms, and clean up the kitchen. So that was nice to come home to. But it needs to be done again. Sigh! Can't I just play?

And the yard needs attention. The most I did this morning was pick marigold flowers to stick into the freezer for dye.

So next time, I will post pictures. I now have a knitting and weaving room.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Best Line Ever in the Latest Book!

Okay-I admit some days I read stupid cozy mysteries. I love cozies, mainly because they are fantasy for me, and they read fast. I do not like the lovey, dovey kind, but occaisonally I end up with one where the silly woman has a silly man to help her out of a bad situation. Or she would get herself into some kind of place that requires a lot of physical strength, and she cannot get herself out with just her looks or her brains.

I was cruising on Amazon looking for a nonexpensive download for my Kindle. I have a two page list of books I want to read, but most of them are new and cost 9.99. I stumbled onto this one, Spin a Wicked Web by Cricket McRae. I have never read her other cozies. Since this one was about spinning and fiber, I said, "Why not?" Well, I know this author knows about spinning because of her line, ".....The open eyes, directed upwards, unseeing. The puff of blue and green and pink fiber curled in her fingers. The blue lips. My first skein of homespun yarn wrapped around her neck. I hadn't even had a chance to set the twist yet." I italicized the last line, because that was the one that I started laughing about.

I have a busy week ahead, and I am going to Kansas this weekend. So enjoy the heat, and try to stay cool.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why Ignore The Facts? It's August!

Here is a little photo of the red, blue, and black yarn. I wanted a really blood red color, but will settle for this coral color. It does have some blue hints about it. The turquoise is turquoise. The black is a natural color. I haven't knitted a swatch yet. I am busy spinning the second skein. I am listening to a book on tape or to podcasts, and I am getting a lot of spinning done. I am thinking a pair of color-work socks would be nice with a black solid color. The Fayetteville Public Library has a unique MP3 player that is fully loaded with a book. When you check it out, all you have to do is add a battery and your own ear buds. I am listening to a book about a Native American child that survives a smallpox outbreak in her village and is adopted by another tribe. I also checked out a cozy mystery to listen to later.

I harvested the last of my potatoes this morning. Actually I never planted these. They were in the compost bin. Evidently some potatoes that I threw in there decided to make some babies. I saw the vine growing out of the bottom of the bin. So today I held my breath and dug around in the bottom of the bin and dug out my potatoes. They are nice and large. I also had to disturb several ant piles and some bugs that were working hard on the gross stuff in there. The potatoes were my best crops this year. Oh, so far, no one has attacked my watermelons. I am holding my breath.

I picked up the Surprise Jacket the other day. I finished my decreases and have started on my increases. It is hard to knit since the wool is bulky and coarse. It is old, old, old handspun that I overdyed. It reminds me of Fall leaf colors.

Nothing else new. I have been reading everyone's excitement about Sock Summit. It will be interesting to read about what everyone did there. The classes sound amazing. I just could not afford to fly to the Northwest again, and attend something this large. I blew my big wad going to Tacoma in February. How come everything this year is in the Northwest?

Well, I think I will eat a bite of lunch, and back to spinning. I stopped to clean up the kitchen after my excursion into the compost bin. I mostly let things go until I can't stand it any more. I do the dishes, but I let things pile up on the counters and the table. So that got de-cluttered and the floor got swept. I only laugh at the dye stains on the counter. There is nothing I can do about that.

Stay cool, and stay busy. But don't forget to sit down and relax when it gets hot. I leave you this weekend with pictures of the garden. A little sunflower and a little althea flower to brighten your day.