Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End Is Near For 2009!

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

The end is slowly closing on 2009. It is another change that is inevitable. I have so many things to be thankful for. I have two companions that are always amusing me. This is my refrigerator monitor that watches every time I open the door. I pause to think about what I take out. If you had someone staring at you and crooking his head to watch as you take something out, wouldn't you pause and think about what you are doing? None of that mindless eating stuff going on here. I also have been thinking about how things have changed this year. I think the biggest change I have seen is in the world of fiber-especially knitting. I have never seen so many independent designers in my life. I guess the change on that scene is Ravelry. The designers now can sell their designs without going through a magazine or book publisher. The internet makes it so easy, and many designers sell a download for a very low price.

On that note, I have seen an increase in fiber stuff on Etsy also. What a great marketing tool that is. I am envious of whoever thought up that little idea. The internet is by far the fastest way to find things these days. It is so easy to look up patterns, and it is easy to find other people who have used that pattern.

Blogs have really taken off. I find myself reading more and more blogs. I like to read what others are doing, and it really brings that person's thoughts to me.

Which brings us to the internet. With the internet, we are closely connected to one another. It seems that our community has grown because we can connect to one another now. I feel like I am someone's friend, and when I go places I look for blogger friends or Ravelry friends. I think the internet has played an important part in the growth of the fiber world.

I have never seen so many new fibers as I have lately. I cannot believe that it is so easy to find corn, bamboo, tencel, milk, or soy fibers. I remember a few years ago I hunted for a little dab of soy to just see how it spins. Now it is everywhere. I found a source for bison this year, so that is something to be happy about. It is so expensive to buy and I consider it a true luxury fiber.

I am happy that I was able to attend three fiber events this year. I had a good time at all, and wish I could do more. It is very expensive to fly to some of the locations, so it is essential to find events closer to home. It is very important to support the local events for that reason. It is also important to continue the community of local knitters, spinners, and weavers. I am so fortunate to have sisters and brothers in the fiber community that I share my passion with.

I am ready for new change and new connections. I am ready for new challenges. I sometimes forget that others do not understand the passion for knitting that I have. My neighbor asked me the other day, "Do you knit all the time?" His wife piped in, "When she's not spinning or weaving or sewing." It is hard to sit in a restaurant without some knitting in my hand. It is hard to stand in a line without some knitting in my hand. It is hard to wait anywhere without knitting in my hand. Maybe it is obsessive, but I am rather content when I have my hands engaged.

So friends, do not despair. Just pick up the pointy sticks and follow me. We are off to another year of adventure and fun. It will be a better year for us all.

I leave you with one more photo of Noodles bird watching. It is better than buying that program for Kitty T.V. He sits for hours watching them outside.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Is It Over Yet?

Finally, most of the snow is melted. There are still patches in the shadows, and there are still drifts on the sides of the road. It isn't above freezing temp, so nothing is going to go away easily.
I have been busily keeping the bird feeders filled, and trying to keep some water for them. It is difficult since the water freezes pretty quickly.

I think all the holiday hoopla has died down. I'm not sure since I have only left the house once since Christmas Eve. I decided to spend the time indoors doing my chores and spinning. I downloaded an audible book from NetLibrary, and away we go. I finished the alpaca I had started some time back, and it is waiting until I can get the blocker out of the frozen tundra. I am plying the pretty blue/green/turquoise merino that I purchased in Tacoma last Feb. It is going rather quickly. Then I have to decide if I want to finish the yak/merino, or do I finish the blue/green/turquoise merino. Hmm! I am also going to tackle the baby camel/merino blend pretty soon. I keep looking at it, and I pet it when I get close.

I am knitting a pair of socks with Zauberball. I have never used this yarn before. It was a gift from CF when she went to Philadelphia. I thought I wouldn't like the colorway, but it is amazing. It blends into the next color and so it is not a true stripe. I guess you could say it is a blended stripe. But what I found out is that it smells wonderful. Yes, I am a yarn sniffer. But this has a wonderful scent that is not a familiar scent. I felt it was a little bit scratchy at first, but I love the way it slides on the needles.

I am almost finished with the second glove. The second glove is too big in the hand. ??? I am guessing the ball that I am using is a bigger gauge than the first one. I guess you are really supposed to only use one yarn size when you knit gloves, but I just grabbed these leftovers. Sigh! So it isn't going to be perfect, only better than those awful gray ones. I have a yarn in my sock basket that I think would be wonderful gloves. So those will be destined to be fitted gloves.

Weaving is not progressing very much. I can't get too excited about this project I am planning. It just seems tedious. I am going to make myself finish warping the loom, and just get on with it.

I also never finished my sewing before Christmas. I need to take my machine into the shop to be serviced, and I wanted to finish this sewing first. I checked with the store, and they are backed up until after the first on the year. So I am not in any big hurry.

So I guess spinning is back to being my first priority right now.

I am not a resolutions kind of person. I decide what I would like to do in the next year, and then I either do it or I don't. That sounds rather weird, I guess, when I write it out. I did lose weight last year, and I did do more Fair Isle and charted knitting. My challenge this winter was to learn to knit full gloves. Which I have done already. Well, at least I have mastered the idea and technique of gloves. Now to actually knit a pair that look and fit correctly. I am also going to keep on knitting socks. I love to knit socks. I would like to get most of my spinning stash cleared out this next year. Whew! That'll be a chore. I am not going to go hog wild and buy any more fiber until I get this stash knocked down. Well.... unless someone were to show me some milk, bamboo, or other exotic stuff. I also would like to set up an indigo vat when it is warmer-maybe in the late Spring. I am looking for more blues in my dye stash. I guess I am just going to continue to challenge myself in the knitting department. And maybe I can do more weaving. And more sewing. Hmmm! All I can really count on is that change always happens. I can always count on change. Nothing stays the same-thank goodness. That's part of the challenge.

So I hope you and yours have a blessed 2010. Maybe I will think up some more ideas this week.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morn SNOW!

This is the first time since 1975 we have had Christmas morn snow. It does effect some members of my family differently than me.

Isn't it pretty?
Anyway-I hope that Santa Claus was good to all of you and your families. I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and got all snuggled in like a country mouse. I closed off the windows, and got out my knitting, and enjoyed a very quiet evening. There was an unusually windy night, but what a pretty sunrise this morning.
My cats would rather explode than use their kitty potty. I suggested that when Noodles was screaming and scratching the front door. I then realized that their kitty door to the outside was frozen. So that got me up and that's how I got their pictures on the front porch. I kicked the cat door to get it open, and then took more pictures.
So Good Yule to you and yours. Just get a cup of soup, and go back to bed. It is a good day to just snuggle in with a good book or your knitting. Don't worry about anything but staying warm and snug with all your loved ones.
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. Norman Vincent Peale

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gloves-My New Friends!

The ugly little gray ones are store-bought gloves that used to have elastic in the knitted wrist. It wore out a long time ago. All the fingers are knit in a row. I think this is what they call- "Plan for obsolescence. They can always buy more."
My challenge was to learn to knit gloves to fit. I have a small hand, my fingers are short, and I always go to children's gloves first.
I used left-over scraps of handspun wool, and this gave me a nice heavy glove. It fits, it is wonderful, and it is warm. All the criteria one could ask for in a glove. I am now working away to finish the second one.
I am also back to knitting on the lifetime blanket. I am back on my schedule of a minimum of two squares a day, and hopefully I will get back to three or four a day.
I do not have pics yet of my loot from our Christmas exchange on Saturday. I got a Spindolyn from CJE and a pair of sock blockers. Yeah! JE gave me a wonderful book of funny cat photos. Someone likes to dress up their kitties. Mine would never stand for that! I got kitty stitch markers and a cat shawl pin.
Yesterday was a day of cleaning house and straightening up. I do this on both Solstices. It makes me feel like I can spend time doing my fun stuff if I have a clean house. I even cleaned the carpeting. I have one of those little steam cleaners that do a nice touch up job. Sunday I spent the day organizing some of the spinning stash. I blended my bison with alpaca, and it is ready to go. I have 5 spinning projects lined up and ready to go. I just gotta spin.
Today is the last fairly nice day for a while. A new front(s) is moving in . I am going to meet one of my best buds for lunch, and do all my errands today. Then I will be ready for the cold and yuck. I can just sit and knit or sit and spin.
I better go if I am going to get to town in time. Later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Solstice!

Winter Solstice is the birthday of the Sun and of the year. It is a time when we experience the greatest darkness, when the hours of darkness are so much greater than the hours of daylight. And yet, it is within this time of greatest darkness that the Light of the World is reborn, for now the hours of daylight will begin to grow and the hours of darkness will lessen.
In all cultures, the Winter Solstice is a time of rejoicing, a time of thanksgiving and a time of hope, when the beauty and truth of the Light is remembered and honored. We light fires and gather together with our loved ones, we give and receive presents, and we make wishes for the New Year. For this small space of time, we actually come close to living the ideal of "Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men" which the angels proclaimed in the skies over Bethlehem. Copywrite: Cathy Lynn Pagano
May you be blessed this longest day of the year, and may you be creative and happy in the years to follow. Love, Juliann

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiting For Santa Claws!

Well-she is a little bit optimistic! I mean-has she been naughty or nice?
Finally things are calming down in that lull that comes after the rush of the season. First I had to make the quick trip to the Fiber Extravaganza at Mt. Magazine. That was fun!
Then my son comes for a quick visit with his lady friend. That was fun! Even though I had to quickly straighten up my mess, and try to hide some of the "stuff" (yarn, projects, etc), it still looked presentable.
Then last weekend was The Wild Foods Party at CJE and AE's house. That is always a great event. It is really the last of the tribe's get-togethers. It is always the second weekend of December. It was nice. Everyone seems to be mellowed out this year. It was mostly bird-quail, pheasant, duck, etc. I think the chili was venison. There was some kind of meatball dish that just said, "Dragon's Balls" on the label. It didn't really taste like beef, so maybe pork and beef combined????? Anyway, there is enough food there to feed thousands-or at least hundreds-and we all ate a plate full.
Now we are in the lull. No events, no more parties, no more gussy-ing up. I am knitting fingers on the glove, I finished the neck warmer, and I just put a sock on the needles. I am trying to finish sewing my Christmas gifts, but I am not in any great hurry.
Although neither cat seems to notice the tree, Baby does like to sit under it. Noodles did nose one of the lower ornaments tonight, but not in a playful way. It was more that it was right there in front of him, and he had to see what it was. Nothing interesting, obviously. Whew!
I ran out of bird food this morning, so I had to make a quick run to the store. I wouldn't want them to go hungry. I wasn't so worried today since we had a little warm up to nearly 40 degrees. It was 16 degrees last night. It appears that now we are in a roller coaster event of really bitter cold, a little warm up, then back to bitter cold, then back to a little warm up, etc. I absolutely hate cold and wind.
Nothing too much to report. It's good that things are slow and not harried. It is hard to believe that half of December is over. Soon a new decade will start. It seems weird that the year 2000 was 10 years ago. It just seems like the other day.
Keep plugging away. Soon Christmas will be behind us.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Tree Is Up!

My son is coming for a visit tonight. So being a guilty mom, I went out to get a tree. I bought a wonderful Austrian pine that I will plant next Spring. It is a good landscape tree, and I will plant it in the front yard. It was 40% off, so what the heck! Get a big tree. How many people do you know that have an angel made out of fleece? Not many, I bet! How else do we know this person likes fiber?
Nope-not the bear!

Ah! A spinning wheel! Nope-not one spinning wheel, but four spinning wheels on this tree!

And a sheep! Nope-not just one sheep either. This is one of four sheep sprinkled on the tree!
I also had the assortment of antique glass ornaments, my collection of handblown glass icicles, my clay bell and my clay star, and my old gingerbread man made out of cinnamon. Remember the ornaments made out of cinnamon and applesauce and baked? I have a nutcracker I bought in Germany. I have a bicycle. I have different wooden ones. You know-the usual odd assortment! I didn't even put all the ornaments up since I will take it down really soon to get the poor tree back outside. I just like to see the twinkling lights. Oh! The lights are icicles, too, that blink! I didn't put my dragonfly lights on the tree. Maybe next year.
Have a good weekend. Going to CJE and AE's house tomorrow night for the Wild Foods Party. It is our "family" reunion. Get to see folks that I haven't seen in a while. Lots and lots of food. And our entertainment is a slide presentation by different folks to show off what they did this year. I'm not too sure they really care to hear about my trips to Tacoma, Taos, or Mt. Magazine. Oh, well, Muggles are like that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers, Matey!

Well, our first snow flurries this season. There was just a dusting on the front porch and deck. The sun keeps peeking out. So no more than that this time around. Thank you, Storm Gods, for diverting the storm around us.

But the wind! My goodness! My chimes and the big bell rang all night long. I heard something blow off the deck some time in the night. It is fierce!

My friend from southern California called me last night. They got sleet in the desert where she lives, but snow in the higher elevations around her. She thinks she might have saved the tomatoes and peppers, but still unsure. She says they never pay attention to the rain notices they get until it actually starts to fall.

I put out extra feed and suet this morning for my bird friends. I even smeared some peanut butter on the feeder and suet cage. The finches hit that early on.

Noodles went out in a hurry this morning, but has gone back to bed now. It is just too cold in the wind for much hunting.

I went to the Fiber Extravaganza down on Mt. Magazine this past weekend. I went with CJE and JE on Friday and we stayed overnight at the Lodge there. It was really a beautiful place. I did not get a single photo the whole weekend. Just shoot me now and get it over with.

After we explored the lodge a little, we found the restaurant. It was a little bit like being in the western states lodges with large timbers, expansive fireplaces, and huge open rooms. There were no dead animal heads anywhere, which is typical of Arkansas. I know-it's a state park, but I was watching for dead animal heads somewhere.

There were a good number of vendors there. Some were from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. I told myself to not buy any more sock yarn-my basket is overflowing. But no! I bought sock yarn. I did not buy any fleece or spinning fibers. Whew!

We attended the lecture about Cowichan knitting presented by Susan Burdan. That was interesting.

With just a little hiccough on the way home-JE lost her wallet-and a return to the mountain for the wallet, we arrived home by dark on Saturday evening.

I watched a documentary about a nomadic herds people in the Zagros Mountains. They filmed the migration from their winter valley across the mountain passes and rivers to their summer valley. It is a very harsh and dangerous migration, and it is certainly not something I would do in this lifetime. It went slowly and it took them 5-6 weeks to get there. They did not lose any people on this migration and just a few animals. They are much tougher than I could be-that's for sure.

I guess nothing else to report. I am now to the pinky finger on my first glove. I have been working on the Lifetime Blanket a lot. It is really warm when I spread it across my lap as I knit.

Stay warm. Keep busy. That's all the advice I have on cold days!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I've Had Enough Cold For Now-Thank You!

I cannot get a good picture of the color green this is. It is really a light sage green. This is too blue in the photo. Ironically-it is dyed with eating sage-not wild sage-and I used copper sulfate as a mordant.
Now I know this sounds strange-given that they are cats-but Noodles and Baby have never slept on or in any of my wool piles before. The only time I saw Baby get into wool was some llama I had in a sack, and when she was very young she found a pile of buffalo fur on the floor on a sheet where I was sorting it. I have yarn in baskets or containers all over the house. I have knitting projects all over the house. The only time they get on a knitting project is when I am knitting it and they want to sit in my lap. But-----here they are-sitting on the little dab I have not carded yet.

This is a testament that it has gotten cold. I don't mind the temperature, but the wind has been unbelievable! I have to go out today and fasten one of the gutter pieces down. It banged in the night. I hate wind most of all. It just cuts right through whatever you are wearing. I actually put blankets over the door to the screen porch and the back doors to the patio. I really didn't feel that much blowing through, but I know it helped some. Normally it doesn't bother me. But if there is a major wind, I cover openings.
That reminds me that on Mythbusters they decided to debunk the idea that depression people in the dust bowl could block out the dust with paste made from flour and rags. They had a house that would have been an example of the type of houses people lived in, and put up a major wind machine and someone poured dust as the wind machine blew it towards the house. They were not able to keep out the dust that blew through the cracks of the house in windows, floorboards,battens on the sides of the house, or chimneys.
Well, I am still using my blankets to block some of the wind. My house is pretty well built, but wind is another thing altogether.
This weekend is The Fiber Extravaganza at Mt. Magazine. This will be fun. I just like to see folks and see what they are working on. I like the community part of it. It will be cold up there, so sweaters are to be dug out and carted along.
Tonight is Knit Night. Haven't been since before Thanksgiving. Gotta catch up on the news.
I started my first glove last night. I did a swatch, and used a calculator mentioned online that is great. It is a basic glove-nothing fancy. I just want to learn the basics, then I will get fancy. I am using some leftover handspun yarn. Nothing to show yet-just doing the 1/1 rib for the wrist. I told myself that I wanted to wait until I finished the neckwarmer. But I couldn't wait. I just had to cast on. Both are pretty mindless right now. I figured I would be finished with the scarf by the time I have to do something with the little finger part. So far it is just like doing a fingerless mitt. First you do the wrist and then you do the gusset for the thumb. I can do that. Then when the scarf is done, I will be doing the hard part on the glove.
At least that is the plan for right now. Who knows?
Gotta go. Will catch up after the event this weekend.