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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Glamour Never Stops

Hello again. Things just haven't been all that exciting around here, so there hasn't been much of anything to write about. We continue to have gorgeous weather (except for a few hot days), and I am anxious for the 14 tomato plants in my backyard to start producing. I go out every day to check for ripeness. I did get two tiny yellow cherry tomatoes a couple of weeks ago, but since then, it's been wait, wait, wait. One year I forgot I had planted a variety that was green, and I just couldn't understand why they weren't getting red. Silly moi. That's not the issue this time around.

Now that I have plenty of time, I am getting around to some of the domestic projects that have been requiring my attention. I have spent several hours a day for the last two weeks or so cleaning the basement. (I know, the glamour never stops.) The prior owners of our house ran a wood shop out of the largest room in our basement (which has 4 rooms), and they did not clean the shop when they left. Add to that the general ick of a 99 year-old basement--eew. In typical Chicago-style architecture, about 2/3 of the basement is actually below ground and 1/3 is above so there are windows which allow for natural it light. We're also fortunate that the basement is dry, so storage isn't much of an issue. In fact, the stash is housed down there (in many, many plastic bins) and I am about to set up a sewing area and a dyeing/felting area. It isn't the most aesthetically pleasing place to be, but it will be nice to be able to leave the sewing machine up and to have a workspace for messy projects.

This past weekend I went to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair in Crystal Lake, IL. It was a somewhat strange set-up, with booths in hallways (it was at a community college), in the gym, and outside. It felt a bit disjointed, but there were a lot of really good vendors. Since I was also there to take an all-day spinning class on Saturday, I focused primarily on spinning fibers. I picked up some really soft alpaca batts,

tussah silk from Miss Babs,


wool and seacell from Creatively Dyed,


and merino/silk from Redfish.

I couldn't resist the colors of the Plain & Fancy singles,

and I can never walk past Brooks Farm without having something follow me home. This time it was their new bamboo blend in two colorways.

I also got a few ounces of wool courtesy of a sheep named Peanut from Jennie the Potter's booth. She and her mom Lucinda had both been on the SeaSocks cruise and it was great to see them again. I added a few of Jennie's buttons to the notions stash. I'm looking forward to visiting with her again at Michigan Fiber Festival.
The spinning class was worthwhile. I learned a few new things and continued to sharpen my developing spinning skills. I've got the S10 working pretty well now despite its wonky beginnings. It was an Ebay purchase that came directly from the Netherlands. It is an old model and didn't have directions for assembly. (The newer S10s have a different mechanism, so the PDF on the website wasn't all that helpful.) It took a few tries to get all the washers in the right places, and for a while the nuts on the moving parts would unwind themselves as I spun. That seems to have resolved itself and it is working pretty well now. I need to keep practicing because I somewhat impetuously ordered a Bosworth Journey Wheel. It won't be ready for delivery until March '09, so I have time to get my skills up to the level that piece of machinery deserves. (Don't get me started on my lustful yearning for a Golding Flock of the Shepherdess Triple Flyer wheel. I may never spin well enough to justify that, but it is gorgeous to look at.)

I finally finished the Magician Scarf.

I am not a big fan of the Alchemy Silken Straw (splitty stuff), but I did buy the materials to make two, so I will have to deal with it again in the near future. After jackrabbit starts on both the Ribby Pulli and Mr. Greenjeans, things slowed down. I am about 2/3 finished on both.

Tomorrow it is back to the basement. I need to tackle the three smaller (and icky-er) rooms before I can call it good. I can haz Shop-Vac...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Horizontally Challenged

Saturday morning: It is 4:01am and I am up. I am suffering with some vicious 4th-of-July-barbecue-induced acid reflux and remaining horizontal is not an option. (Didn't the Stones sing "What a drag it is getting old?" Yep.) I like to say that I have a complicated relationship with digestion. (The A.D.D. Knitter boldly and hysterically disclosed her recent intestinal escapades. I could SOOOOOOOOO relate since I know well the feeling of "the burning fire of a thousand suns." It's why I don't get in/on any vehicular transport too small to have a bathroom that I can not quickly exit if need be. No small planes, helicopters, hot air balloons, tiny boats, etc. Nope. No way.)


Pre-ATL, I was busting on the projects, I got to 70% on Mr. Greenjeans and 40% on Knitty Ribby and then I hit the skids. I have now pulled out the Magician's Scarf which had been relegated to the deep recesses if a knitting bag due to the fiddly nature of the Alchemy Silken Straw. (Splitty stuff, that!) I hope to finish it by the end of the weekend for a little project closure action. (Update: It is now Sunday afternoon and it is NOT going to happen. Knitting at night wearing a headlamp because you want to try out your new tent in your backyard is not a good time to work with Alchemy Silken Straw. Frogging will ensue--make a note.)

Speaking of splitty, I succumbed to the lure of Flat Feet and have started a pair of Hydrangea Socks from Eclectic Sole. That, too, is a splitty yarn and I won't be adding any more to the stash. (I have 3 including the one I started.) While the concept of the product is fun, I'm just not cracked up about the quality of the yarn.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Can you knit me a pair of capri pants?

This past weekend I was in ATL with the (formerly) knitting niece. (There were other people there, too, but she's the really fun one.) I say "formerly" knitting because she hasn't really caught the knitting bug despite my best efforts. The kid likes to read...a lot. (She also likes the D*sney Ch*nnel, but we don't hold that against her.) I always like to take a crafty project or two along with me when we visit, and this time it was dyeing with KoolAid and Wilton Paste Food Colors. Color selection was up to her, so we did one skein of Lamb's Pride in grape KoolAid and another in burgundy Wilton. We also did two small skeins of sock yarn in four colors each. The first was lemonade, pink lemonade, blue raspberry and cherry KoolAid and the second was blue, kelly green, red, and purple Wilton paste. We tried to set the colors by putting the dyed skeins in ziptop bags in the sun, but drought-plagued Atlanta had some rain. (Not enough to help the drought, but enough to foil our plans.) The damp yarn travelled back to Chicago in my suitcase where I used the microwave to set the yarn. (The Wilton colors refuse to run clear, so multi-colored feet could be in the kid's future.)


I took a little oat grass kit along so that she could plant some for her cat. She has called me each day since I returned home to ask if the seeds are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Day one: "Nothing's happening!" Day two: "There is some fuzzy stuff on the seeds. Is it supposed to be there?!" I explained that I planted some for my cats before I left home to visit her. The day we went to the airport, the seeds had sprouted tiny blonde hairs. When we returned three days later, the grass was four inches tall. That oat grass is some crazy stuff.


During one of our chats, I asked what she would like me to knit from the purple and burgundy yarns. She requested a pair of capri pants be knit from the worsted weight Lamb's Pride. I have talked her into mittens and a Panta (Ravelry link) instead. (Can you imagine wool and mohair capris? Eeeew.) I may consider making her some capris like Witches Britches in a more appropriate yarn. (This pair is fab.)