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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lucky...Squared



I am pretty lucky. I have lots of time to knit, more yarn than I could knit in my lifetime, and I get to take lots of wonderful fiber-related classes and go on fun, fabulous fiber-y trips. Life--as related to my favorite pastime/hobby/addiction--is pretty great. In recognition of that, I have been making a concerted effort to direct some of my energy into projects for the benefit of others. So, when a thread on Ravelry popped up to make squares for an Afghans for Afghans project in memory of Kay's husband (she of Mason-Dixon fame), I threw my hat in the ring, so to speak. One evening of podcasts (some knitting-related and various NPR offerings) plus a skein of stashed Kureyon and I have my 10"x10" square. I hope it brings comfort to the family receiving the blanket and Kay's family, as well.

I'm curious...what are your favorite knitting charities? And stay tuned for a couple of knitting challenges; there will be prizes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Tomatoes grown organically in my backyard last summer.
This year I am commemorating Earth Day by:
  • walking to the pet store to buy natural cat food--taking my own shopping bag, of course.
  • waiting eagerly for my new worm bin to arrive.
  • anticipating the day I can safely transfer my vegetable seed starts into my garden.
  • having taken part in a park clean-up on Saturday.
  • making a donation to the America's Wetland Foundation.
I would love to make some grand gestures like putting solar panels on my roof, installing an on-demand hot water system, or planting a roof garden, but those things may be impractical, at least for now. In the meantime, I try to do what I can to preserve our resources by recycling, installing fluorescent bulbs where it makes sense to do so, and using a front-loading washing machine. I think this will be the year we finally replace our drafty, dirty, inefficient windows with more energy-saving versions, so by the time winter rolls back around (though I'm not entirely sure it has actually left as the weather people were calling for snow last night), we might save a bit on heating.
I was planning to go see Earth which was opening in theaters today, but I heard the directors on Fresh Air this morning, and I got weepy just hearing them describe one poor little elephant's fate. That one may have to wait.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Channeling My Inner Pioneer Woman

There was more fleece picking today. I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder with an iPod and SPF 45. Between the VM* and the BM**, sheep are dirty little devils. I also attempted washing some of the picked locks. After researching various methods, I decided to try cleaning the wool by laying it into the colander part of a salad spinner. (In case you're ever over for dinner, this is a spinner just for fiber-y pursuits, so no worries about wool in the watercress.) I filled the bowl with very hot tap water (ours is turned up pretty high) and dish soap, and then gently lowered the colander of locks into the water. After just a few minutes, it was remarkable just how much lanolin and other muck dissolved. (The first dunking also produced an odor that is not how you want your kitchen to smell--ever.) I would then lift out the colander, dump the water into a bucket (lanolin + other ick + my home's 100-year-old plumbing = a potential plumber visit, so the back yard is now fragranced with eau de Bridget), and repeat until the water rinsed clear and the wool smelled more like wet yarn and less like wet barnyard. The locks are currently drying on a sweater rack in the bathroom downstairs. I can't wait to see what they look like when they're dry.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be cleaning up a city park in celebration of Earth Day and our President. (Why is it that I will do that, but I can't stand dusting my own living room?) Hopefully I'll also have both a few hours of good sun and the energy to continue working on the fleece in the afternoon.

In other matters, as if Ravelry wasn't enough, I have fallen victim to the timesuck that is Faceb00k. My downfall comes as a result of an impending high school reunion, and a significant one at that. (That doesn't mean that I'm actually going.) One thing led to another, and all of a sudden, hours are flying by looking at who has friended whom. Halfpint never had these kind of distractions. (OMG. I just G00gled "Laura Ingalls Wilder half pint" out of curiosity and discovered that she Tw1tters. Srsly. WTF.)

*vegetative matter
**Yes, that BM. No, I'm not going to spell it out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Supercrafty

It was perfectly lovely here in Chicago, so I took advantage of the warm temps and lack of a breeze to set up a table in the backyard so that I could skirt and pick the fleece I received from my sheep. Bridget is a Coopworth that two of my friends adopted for me for Christmas last year, and she was recently shorn and her fleece was shipped to me. The somewhat smelly box had been languishing for a couple of weeks while I decided what to do with it. After some initial research, it looked like the best course of action was for me to attempt the first steps of processing myself, and then send it out to be finished. I have never had a raw fleece before, so this is an adventure--a dirty, stinky adventure. I'm not even halfway through picking it, and I was at it for over 2 hours. (Not knowing what I am doing has a good deal to do with that.) I am fairly certain that I am either discarding too much or too little.
(I took this picture after about 15 minutes of picking; rest assured I did have more finished than that little pile in the corner!)

After I got tired of picking poo and other icky things out of greasy wool, I decided to dye some yarn for Samro's Shawl That Jazz. (Sam was a fellow Sock Camper, and her pattern just skyrocketed to fame because a certain well-known knitter from Toronto just made one and blogged about it.) I bought the BMFA Falcon's Eye Twisted from a Raveler's stash at a pretty good price with the plan that I would alter the color once it arrived. Here it is in its original form:


and here it is after I finished with it:


Anyone interested in gardening out there? My friend is going to be on Martha Stewart tomorrow! Jerry (who is married to one of my dearest friends, Amy) is a landscaper with a really great sense of aesthetics. It's no wonder that he's getting this terrific opportunity--he's incredibly talented. The segments were filmed earlier in the week (Amy says taping went really well), and they will be on tomorrow (Friday.)













Monday, April 06, 2009

Camp Condensed

Triple Eagle

By now, many of you have read others' accounts of BMFA's Sock Camp, and what you have read is true: it was a really, really good time. All of the changes that were made since last year (new venue, less people, more free time to knit, spin, walk, relax, etc., yoga classes taught by Nathania Apple) all added to the experience. The hotel staff was great, the food was really wonderful, and the rooms came complete with giant jacuzzi tubs and gas fireplaces. It was heaven with yarn and pointy sticks.


Port Ludlow Resort

All of the classes were fab. JC Briar offered a cast off class, Stephanie, aka The Yarn Harlot, taught a class that used production knitting techniques to improve speed, Cat Bordhi introduced a brand new, super-secret sock architecture which will be in her upcoming book, and Tina Newton taught a dyeing class. Yep, that's right, dyeing with Tina Newton, The Depraved Dyer. (Tina also gave a "behind the scenes" slide show of BMFA as well as Oregon Coast pics she uses as inspiration to create colorways. It was truly a highlight of the week for me.)

My Three Skeins from Dyeing Class
This year's camp homework was to make a sea creature, with bonus points given for crabs, since this year's mascot was a crab. I made these Peekytoe Pedicure/Yoga Socks:
One of my favorite parts of camp was that I felt like I'd had a chance to meet and have at least a brief conversation with almost everyone. A slide show featuring everyone's pictures, complete with knitting secrets that we "confessed" on paper the first night, was a fitting, funny, bittersweet closure for the event. My secret:
"I would knit a hell of a lot faster if I didn't stop to admire my work at the end of every single row. I am a vain knitter."