Spinning Wheel Got to Go Round

As promised last week I have pictures of yarn to put up this week.  Those of you not interested in spinning might want to skip to the end of the post for other news, but I did want to show my progress.  Although I have posted a picture of my first skein, here is a recap for reference.  This is Icelandic wool from a sheep right here on Whidbey Island:


Not bad for a first effort, but plenty of room for improvement.  From there I went on to some Mystery Wool that was a retirement gift from my friend Christall (speaking of whom, we really need to get together and spin!):


Still not great, but getting better.  Next up was some Blue Faced Leicester (do they really have blue faces?) that my friend Lorette, the Knitting Doctor had sent me even before I had my wheel.  She was thrilled to enable another fiber addict:


This was the first skein that I didn't really struggle with.  Still a lot of thick and thin places, but eventually may find its way into a project.  The next skein was some Romney from a sheep named Rainbow (don't you love fiber from a source that has a name?), owned by my friend Lois here on the island:


This skein may get framed.  Although far from perfect, I felt the real joy of spinning with this one.  No struggle – the fiber just flowed through my fingers.  It felt a little rough as roving, but when washed bloomed into a very soft, lovely yarn.  This was my epiphany that I might actually make it as a spinner.  The pink Corriedale was ordered with a gift certificate from my kids for my retirement:


With this skein I learned that at least until I'm more experienced, I should spin a fiber from start to end and not try multiple projects for now.  This was interspersed between other projects and the end is so much better than the beginning!  So although it doesn't show in the photo, it's quite uneven.  Last up – Punta from Corgi Hill Farms that I bought way before I had my wheel:


I had been saving this fiber until I felt good enough to not ruin it!  I am quite pleased with this and I think will actually start looking around for a project.  I figure I should dive in and actually make something with the yarn I'm producing and this might actually be worthy.  The interesting thing about this skein is that although it is not as fine as some of my previous efforts, it is more consistent.  On some of skeins I had trouble figuring out the wpi's.  In some places lace, in others worsted!

From now on I'll try to post my spinning as it comes rather than inundate you with it all at one time.  Of course, with the Olympics lots of knitting has been accomplished as well.  Whistler is up to the body pattern:


As usual, Maggie feels that she needs to get in on the action.  Just a few more rows and I'll be into the three color rows again, which I am not looking forward to!  But bless Ravelry, on the Stranded group I got some good ideas and am anxious to see if they help. 

I finished the Monkey socks and they have been gifted to my friend Caroline to great appreciation:


These are the first hand knit socks she's ever had.  She was amazed at how well they fit and how comfortable they were.  Yarn is Lorna's Laces, size 0 needles.  Next up are socks for Kim.  I checked out Socks From the Toe Up from the library.  I'm going to try one of the patterns.  In looking at the book, I think it's one that I may want to add to my library.

I mentioned previously that I was considering making Nagano sweaters for the girls for Christmas.  However, when I looked at the pattern, the sizes start with child's sizes, not toddler (guess you've got to have a lot of room on the chest for dragons!).  Since Dale sweaters run huge, there is no way they would be able to wear them for years.  However, I trolled through my Dale books and found the perfect choices for them.  Yarn has been ordered and I'm anxious to start.  Want a little hint?  Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home!

Swan Song

It's finally over!  Since before I retired I knew I had these past two weeks hanging over my head.  I promised my co-worker I would work for her and was silently hoping they would not want me to come back!  But now it's done and final.  In some respects, going back was a good thing for two reasons:  1.  It reinforced how right my decision to retire was.  2.  It removed all feelings of guilt I might feel if they experience a crisis (as in the entire staff quitting) and want me to come back.  In all honesty, seeing how they are treating their employees gives me no reason whatsoever to feel any sense of obligation.  So, 'nuff said and on to happier things.

Perhaps it's the relief at being done, or the signs of an early spring, or the results of my healthier eating, but today was such a pleasant day!  Maggie and I got out for a long walk, I went to yoga and spent time knitting.  I finished up Clue #1 on Evenstar:


Attention for non-knitters – knitterly geekiness ahead; you might want to skip over.  This was my third attempt at this.  The first one didn't look too bad, but in reading the Ravelry board, it was brought to my attention that on the k7 out of 3, there were several ways of doing it.  My understanding was that the pattern said to do k1, p1 for 7 stitches.  But then some on the board said, no, it was k1, k1 through back loop for 7 stitches.  Well, I did it the first way first and it didn't look too bad.  But then I ripped because I thought it was wrong and might look better the other way.  But the k1, k1b was really ugly – as smooshed up.  In more discussion, the suggestion was made to do k1, yo for 7 stitches.  I tried that third and liked the resulting stars much better.  I also deviated from the pattern as suggested on the board by closing up the side petals with a k4 tog on the right side, but a ssssk on the left side.  Much more symmetrical.  I know all you non-knitters are yawning right now and saying, "HUH??"  This isn't the best picture in the world, but may be the best for quite some time.  It will be too bunched up on the needle to take any more quality pictures.

As I mentioned, we seem to be experiencing an early spring.  Although it's still getting a little frosty at night, the days have been in the 60's.  The trees are blooming and the crocuses (croci?) and daffodils are starting to bloom.  Spring here is usually pretty reliable and we don't often get slammed with late snowstorms or freezes once it starts.  The dark is receding too and that makes me happy.

I mentioned hubby's project last week and I'm happy to report it is all done.  Here are the before and after pictures:





Doesn't it look great?  He did a wonderful job.  It was a little challenging.  This is an owner built home (not by us!) and we've found over the years that not everything is level and square.  I had my doubts about the floors – I was afraid it would look cold, but the wood actually makes everything look warmer.  Maggie is not as entranced.  She's having to get used to new footing and can't run quite as fast.  That's probably a good thing because a few weeks ago she hurt her back by running so fast down the hall that she slammed into the closet door.

I hope to get back to more spinning this week.  In addition to having to work, I was also hampered by an injury.  I got a little too aggressive chopping onions and took off a chunk of my finger.  I chopped off the fingernail on my left finger about halfway down.  And yes, it was painful and icky as it sounds.  Surprisingly, it hasn't hurt to knit, but the bandage got in the way of spinning.  I promise – pictures next week!

Monkey Business

So . . . I sat down this week to work on the Nutkin socks I am making for my friend.  Since I hadn't worked on them in a few weeks, I had occasion to refer back to the pattern.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I am not making Nutkins, but Monkeys.  Must have been a senior moment.  I have updated my Ravelry page accordingly.  One Monkey down, dog's nose added for scale:


And add another FO to the project page:


This is the Enchanted Wood shawl from the mystery KAL.  Yarn is Green Sheep Fingering in the Michigan Morning colorway, size 4 needles.  This was a fun KAL.  I have to admit to a little frustration having to wait for the clues, but the finished product is worth it.  I have found that I love adding beads to my knitting and will certainly look for more opportunities.  (I noticed that I labeled this picture Evenstar – wow, I really am having some senior moments).  I started Evenstar this morning, but I'm afraid progress pics will be few and far between.  It's a circular shawl and it's almost impossible to get good pictures.

In another show of knitterly fickleness, I have also changed my mind on Nagano.  Michele posted pictures of her Whistler sweater and I fell in love with a passion that is unseemly for a knitted garment!  I had looked at this year's Whistler sweater and was not impressed.  I love this one so much and was able to snag the last copy at our local yarn shop.  Here's my progress so far – cast on and worked on during the opening ceremonies:


The grey you see there is Knit Pick's Squirrel Heather and I do like the contrast.  This will end up in the shoulder area.  Of course, after I cast on, I looked at the pattern a little more closely and imagine my dismay to realize that some rows require carrying three colors.  I have sent Michele a message asking if she will hold my hand through this.  She lives close by, so maybe we can even meet up for some knitting therapy.  Never fear that thoughts of Nagano have been abandoned entirely.  I got to thinking that two little girls would probably love dragon sweaters for Christmas.

Speaking of little girls – this exchange was heard between Isobel and her mom lately:

Isobel:  What are you doing?

Mom:  Taking care of the trash.

Isobel:  Why are you taking care of the trash?

Mom:  Because it's full.

Isobel:  Why is it full?

Mom:  Because we put things in it.

Isobel:  Why do we put things in it?

Mom:  Why do you ask so many questions?

Isobel:  I don't know.  Because there are so many.

Ah – the world through a child's eyes.  This weekend hubby, in the spirit of Valentine's Day is embarking on a home improvement project.  We have decided to rip out all the carpet in our house (except for the bedrooms) and put down laminate wood flooring.  He did this in Allen's apartment and it came out so nicely, we made the leap.  Too late to turn back now:


As usual, Maggie feels she must help.  What am I giving him for Valentine's Day you might ask?  My cold.  Who says romance is dead.

Oh, and you also might ask how work is coming along.  Don't ask.  Just let it suffice to say that three days next week and it is over.  There is absolutely nothing they could use to entice me back!

Back to Work

No, don't panic – it's not permanent!  Shortly before I retired, my replacement found out that her mother in England has cancer.  Since her replacement was pretty inexperienced, it would be hard for her to get away to visit her.  So, I told her that I would come back and sub for her so she could go for a visit.  She'll be gone for two weeks, but I may not have to work every day.  The schedule is pretty dead (hmmm?) so we'll just take each day as it comes.  But I'm hoping to make at least a bit of money for fiber enhancement!  That will be the consolation prize because I'm not really looking forward to it.  Here's hoping it will pass quickly.  It's going to be interesting because I was told they are having computer problems and the computer guy is taking an extended vacation.  If they do run into problems, I'm going to just tell them I'm taking off and to call me when they have it fixed!

Spoiler alert for Enchanted Wood;

I finished clue #4:


The gradience is quite interesting.  I'm not sure I would do it again, although I will have enough left over for a small project.  There's more striping in the transition from blue to pink than I like, but overall, I'm happy.  The beads really add a lot and I'm sure more beading will be in my future.

I got the yarn for my next KAL – the Lord of the Rings "Evenstar" shawl.  I got Eos from Unique Sheep in the Moonstone colorway.  The dyer contacted me and asked if I wanted the color "pushed" toward purple to match the cloak that Arwen wears in the movie.  I told her yes, as long as the yarn is not lavender:


I was little disappointed when I opened the package, because it sure looks lavender to me, although nowhere near as lavender as it looks in the picture.  But the more I look at it, the more I like it.  You can't see in the picture, but it has lovely silvery heathering throughout.  I think it's going to be beautiful and I love knitting with a 50/50 silk/wool mix.

Nagano is coming along, but I need some advice.  I am ready to start the top pattern.  I'm using the yarn from the Lusekofte kit I bought and was hoping to just use the colors that came with it.  However, I'm not too sure about how it's going to look:


I had planned on having the yarn on the left as the lower border with the aqua as accent.  But I'm not sure there's enough contrast.  I don't want to use the aqua as the border because there's too much contrast.  What I'd really like to use is a light/medium grey, but Telemark doesn't come in that color.  If I went that route, would there be a substitute?  Or should I go with my original plans?  All advice is welcome.

This past week has been a new beginning for me.  I was debating about posting it, because I was afraid if I failed, I would have to admit it!  But I have started on the Prism program.  It's billed as a weight loss program, but that's not the primary reason I have started, although I could certainly benefit from shedding a few pounds.  I just need to learn how to eat healthier.  I know I have a horrible sugar habit and it just seems so much easier to reach for cookies and crackers rather than healthy food.  This program emphasizes whole foods as close to nature as possible.  The first part is a little restrictive in order to break your dependence on some "habit" foods, but eases up as you learn to eat better.  The first few days without sugar I had a terrible headache.  But I'm feeling a lot better and I really hope I can learn to keep sugar out of my diet.