Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's raining, it's pouring.  No snoring that I know of, but we've got a lake in our backyard. 


While this is not unusual for winter, usually by this time of year things have dried out and we get a little more sunshine and warm weather.  We haven't even put our winter clothes away yet.  Brrrr.

This weekend has been a whirlwind of FO's.  Ok, so only 2, but still FO's.  First off – Evenstar:



I really thought the beaded border was going to do me in.  It seemed to take forever.  There was a little drama at the end when I grafted.  I got the wrong sides together (well, actually the right sides together, which was the wrong way), so I had to carefully unpick the grafting, which meant some dropped stitches.  All was fixed in the end and I'm quite pleased.  I may even do this pattern again.  As I've mentioned, I probably will not do a Mystery Shawl again.  I do not like working blind, especially with a pattern that has some "issues".  I won't come right out and call them errors, but there was quite the drama on the Ravelry group, with some members being unfairly criticized for expressing frustration.  I do not need drama in my knitting, so I think group KAL's are probably not my thing.

Also finished were my very first handspun socks!!

Socks 21-23-21

The pattern is Winterscapes, size 0 needles.  Do you notice something?  Yeah, they don't match!  I bought this fiber at the spin-in here in April.  It was sold in packs – one pack makes one sock.  Since these were the last two of this colorway on the table, I assumed they were a perfect match.  Not so.  That was completely my fault for not checking.  I also learned that it is probably wise to spin all the yarn for one project as close in time as possible.  I did another project in between socks and I spun the second batch of fiber a little finer than the first.  So, the first sock is 56 stitches to start and the second is 60.  Despite that, they are about the same size, although they don't quite look like it in the picture.  The photo of both the socks and Evenstar are not very color true – the colors are really much clearer and brighter.  But the rain and gloom has made good color photography challenging at best.

Next week I'm off to Missouri to visit the parents.  So, of course, I gotta get busy and plan my knitting to pack.  I probably won't be taking my computer, so no blogging.  I did pop on down to the Apple store in Lynwood to purchase an iPad to take with me, but alas, they were all sold out.  However, I did order one and it should be here in about three weeks.  Hubby and I are getting it because we are planning a big road trip at the end of summer.  I'm very excited that I have plans on meeting up with some blogging friends.

In the meantime, I close with cute granddaughterly sayings.  I was visiting this week and Isobel and I were out in her front yard making clover necklaces.  A delivery man drove up with a delivery of organic veggies for Abby.  While I was taking the delivery, he said to Isobel, "That's a very pretty necklace you have."  She said, "Thank you.  My grandma made it. (elaborate gesture toward me).  This is my grandma.  Her name is Nana."

The Black Hole of Knitting

All of us knitters have been there – the Black Hole of Knitting.  Sometimes it's sleeves, sometimes it's endless rows of stockinette.  You put down your knitting and when you come back, it almost seems as if you've made reverse progress!  And without any frogging.  This shawl border has been that way.  I could swear after putting it down in the evening, when I pick it up the next day I have twice as far to go as I did the day before.  Theoretically I know that's not true.  I have 16 repeats to complete out of 56.  I really, really would like to have this finished before I leave on vacation.  It is definitely NOT plane knitting.  Can you imagine hundreds of little beads rolling around on the floor of the plane??  So I continue on.

I did finish some spinning that I wanted done before I left, though.  This was the April Mixed Blessings fiber from Fat Cat Knits.  I spun the two braids separately.  The red I split vertically into about 4 long pieces, the purple I broke up into random chunks, both vertically and horizontally.  This is what I came out with:


Then I plied them together.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out how in the world this would come out to anything remotely resembling usable yarn, but lookie:


After spinning mostly neutral yarns, I was just tickled at the wonderful colors.  As I was spinning I was getting a little nervous.  There were stretches of almost fluorescent pink, olive drab and it seems just about everything in between.  How in the world did it come out to something this pretty?  I guess that's what makes Ginny a dyeing genius.  Alas, I only have about 320 yards of fingering weight, so I'm not sure what I'll do with it.  Any suggestions?  A small scarf or shawlette would be great, but the ones I've been interested in take about 400 yards.

Hubby wanted to do a garden this year and I talked him into giving Square Foot Gardening a try.  We decided to go with just one and see how it worked before committing ourselves.  So far, so good:


We've planted spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, onions and strawberries.  Everything except the carrots is doing great.  In fact, we harvested some spinach to have with our salad last night and it was so tasty – tender and sweet.  And we have lots and lots of little baby strawberries.  Hubby built a critter cage to put over it – we have deer and rabbits.  It seems to have done a really good job of keeping them out and it's lightweight and easy to remove for harvesting.

I finally had my last dental appointment yesterday.  The permanent crown was placed and it really was a piece of cake.  I love this dentist – after your appointment you can have fresh baked Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and a cappuccino.  But I will be glad not to see him again until my check up in November.

And speaking of dentists – the woman who replaced me as office manager has quit.  Sad to say, most of the staff is looking for new employment.  It's a little discouraging to see all that you have spent years building up going down the drain, but I comfort myself in knowing that I can be really proud of all that I accomplished while I was there.  And pat myself on the back that I am retired!!!  It is such a relief to know that I don't have to deal with any of it. 

Endless Edging and Clutter

I've started the edging on the Evenstar Shawl and it is taking forever!  I'm not a stranger to long shawl edgings, but the beads on this one are adding a whole new dimension – in more ways than one:


However, I do love the effect and think it will be well worth it.  At the rate I'm going it will probably take at least another month or so to finish.  Stay tuned!

It seems that since I retired, my life and sewing room have both become more and more cluttered.  Hubby warned me that I would be more busy than I ever thought possible, and he is right!  I seem to have found so many fun things to do, but am sadly coming to the conclusion that I just can't do them all.  So, I am going to be looking at my commitments and doing a little culling.  Culling also needs to be done in my sewing room:


Despite my best efforts, this seems to be more normal than not.  I'm slowly going through things and have recycled a ton of magazines, but still have more to go through.  I'm also going to go through my projects and get tough.  I'm thinking that if I don't love a project, it either needs to be frogged, trashed, or given away.  If I love it – it really needs to go into a queue to get finished.  I actually don't have that many knitting projects going (most of my UFO's are quilting), but two are going bye-bye.  The first is the Queen Silvia shawl:


I started this right after the Nancy Bush Estonian workshop, and as you can see, didn't get very far.  I really never did feel the love on this one, so it has already been frogged.

The next one is not so easy.  Whistler:


This one started out with great excitement and anticipation.  Until I got to the three color rows. Not only are they a bear, but I'm just not happy with how they are coming out.  I dread picking it up and working on it.  I have lots and lots of Dale books and I'm sure I can find something I like as well.  So, with a little sorrow, I think this is going to the frog pond too. 

I do have projects that I am excited about.  I joined the Fat Cats Mixed Blessings club and received my first shipment:


This is the first multi colored fiber I've bought and I'm excited to see how it comes out.  Looking at how others are spinning this, I've decided to make a 2-ply as close to fingering as I can get.  The reddish fiber has been split into 3 lengthwise strips and will be spun as is.  The purple will be broken up into random chunks, spun and then plied to the reddish singles.  More experienced spinners (Pat, Kathy) – does that sound like a plan?  I can't quite wrap my mind around the fact that it probably won't look like a muddled mess.  But looking at what others have done – I think it will come out quite nicely.  This is Polwarth and is an absolute dream to spin.  I don't even need to predraft:


Off again tomorrow to see the family in Snohomish.  Abby is taking me to see the movie "Babies" and then we'll do some shopping with my sister.  Hopefully there will be time for a little granddaughter snuggling sometime:


Birthday Bash

A fun time was had last Sunday as we celebrated two birthdays.  I won't mention any ages, but here's a picture of the honorees:


We weren't sure what to get Isobel for her birthday.  Our son said that she had so many toys already and suggested that I sew her a superhero cape.  It really didn't seem like much, but as it turned out, it was a big hit.  Of course, it's always important that superhero capes be kept nice and tidy:


I also gave the girls their shrugs with very mixed results.  Ivy loved hers:


Isobel, on the other hand, refused to even try hers on.  For some reason, I think she got it in her head that the shrug and cape were exclusive of each other and a choice had to be made!  Once that was in her little mind, she would not budge!  Hmmm – I wonder where that stubborness comes from?  Certainly not her paternal side of the family.  Right, Abby??

The girls and the dogs also had a great time outside chasing bubbles.  Of course, sometimes two can go for the same bubble at the same time!


On Monday, I loaded up my spinning wheel and supplies for a three day workshop with Anne Field.  It was a very intensive three days and I was exhausted by the end of it.  I do have mixed feelings about the workshop.  First of all, three days was a little intense.  Secondly, we worked exclusively with raw fiber, although it was cleaned – after a fashion.  It seemed that we spent about half our time preparing the fiber.  This is not something I enjoy and I don't see it in my future.  I learned that the quality of your spinning has a lot to do with the quality of the fiber preparation.  Since I was so new at the prep, my fiber wasn't always of the best quality! 

However, I did learn a lot about the different breeds of sheep and how the crimp affects the finished yarn.  I learned the difference between worsted, woolen, semi-worsted, and semi-woolen and somewhat successfully spun all four.  I also spun from the fold for the first time.  Anne was a wonderful teacher and very patient with us newbies.  Her New Zealand accent was charming, although we often had to listen very carefully and occasionally ask for clarification.


It was nice, though, to get back home and to my own spinning.  One of the major things I learned in the workshop was to sample.  I know this should be a no-brainer considering my previous experiences, but I'm not always able to grasp the obvious.  So, learning that, I started spinning on the fiber for Ben's sweater.  I made two mini-skeins – one 2-ply, one 3-ply and knit them up into gauge swatches.  I'm waffling between which to use, but don't have to make a decision until I start plying.

And – speaking of handpspun – how many of you wagered that I would dive right in on my handspun sock yarn?  Those who know me well, knew I would!


The pattern is Winterscape and is free on Ravelry.  The yarn was actually a heavy fingering and so I did need to decrease the stitch count a little.  I was sweating having enough yarn, and only ended up with about a yard to spare!  Of course, this now gives a new meaning to Second Sock Syndrome.  I not only have to knit the second sock, I have to spin the yarn for it too!!