Thursday, December 10, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

MerryChristmas 2009
Originally uploaded by january spin
Well, the inside of the house is finally beginning to look like Christmas is around the corner. Naturally, I still don't have a single present wrapped and some haven't even been purchased or even made.

As Scarlett said so eloquently, "I'll think about that tomorrow.". In the meantime, I am enjoying the new gas fire logs, listening to a Michael Connelly mystery while thinking about all the cleaning I need to get done, and finishing a helmet liner for a soldier. Yes, I can multi-task!

In the midst of all that, I just wanted to take a moment to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope you remember the reason we celebrate this very special season and that the peace of Jesus' birth stays with you throughout the year.

And now, I am going to seriously think about what needs to be cleaned next....any moment now.

First finished sock

First finished sock
Originally uploaded by january spin
I have a sock. I finished my first ever sock yesterday morning at 7 AM. I sent a text message to a friend who I knew was up and about--seriously considered calling people but figured they might not be as enthusiastic as I was about this feat.

I have even cast on for the second sock as I was afraid I would have admireititis and never get to the second one. As I was finishing the cuff, I began to understand the fascination with sock knitting that so many knitter seem to have. Although it's not the fastest project in the world, it is personal and certainly do-able in a reasonable length of time. The portability is very convenient.

I am glad that the first sock was knit with a superwash wool, silk, nylon blend as I expect it to last awhile. Last night at knitting we were discussing the fact that so many companies use Merino for sock yarn. Merino is not a hard wearing wool. It is a soft, fine wool which is wonderful worn next to the skin . Something that won't get tons of wear and tear is a good project for Merino. All wool is not the same. A long wearing wool would be something like Lincoln or Cotswold. These have a long staple (length) and are perfect for outer garments or for something needing good wearability, like socks.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Second time is faster

I am now speeding along on the second sock. Why does the second one seem so much faster to knit than the first one did? I am turning the heel and it has been less than a week since I started it.

I have to admit that I am now hooked on sock knitting. At first I didn't share the enthusiasm everyone seemed to have about this type of project but then about the middle of the second sock, I got it. It seems to be an addictive behavior from what I have observed and I am going to have a difficult time concentrating on Christmas gifts which remain to be made.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And around the heel we go

Sock progress
Originally uploaded by january spin
Yeah!!!! I have started on the cuff, finally.

True confessions---there is a gap on each side where I joined them back together and I thought about tinking it and redoing that part. I decided not to however since the thought of it put me in a really, really bad mood (as in, why do I want to knit with these tiny needles anyway).

I'll not make the same mistake when I knit the second sock in 20 years but for this one, I am going to finish it as is. Then I am going to take matching sewing thread and take a couple of little stitches and close those holes. Is this the "correct" thing to do? Definitely not. Do I care? Definitely not.

Knitting is supposed to be an enjoyable task and tinking this sock was not going to come under the heading of enjoyable in any way shape or form so therefore, I will cheat.

Apparently I have low standards when it comes to sock knitting and I don't care. I will have a finished sock and at this point that seems to be the goal. A finished, perfect sock just isn't going to happen this time..

Ok, confession time over. BTW, don't bother trying to make me feel guilty about this character flaw. I don't do sock knitting guilt.

Oh, for those of you who actually read this and look at the picture, the pink ribbon is just one more way for me to remember which side is the top of the sock. Now that the heel is turned I can remove it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Official!!!!

I have entered my second childhood officially. (I am ignoring those who imply that I never left the first one.)

How did this happen? I have been experiencing a lovely case of the hives for the past month. Not fun! Benadryl has been my friend but if I take it, I go to sleep which really, really makes it hard to knit. Therefore, I decided to seek the help of a physician who specialized in allergies. My neighbor had had wonderful results for her chronic hives by going to this doctor so I had an appointment with him this afternoon.

Now comes the funny part. The doctor is also a pediatrician. I went to a pediatric clinic today . So instead of going to a physician who specializes in gerontology I am going to one who specializes in children and I'm just fine with that. It brings back memories of an old song which was a favorite of mine. "Fairy tales can come true. It can happen to you. If you are among the very young at heart." I kind of giggled (inside, of course) through the entire visit thinking about being there. It's good to find something to laugh about when you have the hives.

I hope you're feeling young today also.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hendersonville, NC

Apple NC a
Originally uploaded by january spin
Hendersonville, NC is one of those neat little towns that you might overlook since it is so close to Asheville. The downtown area is very attractive with many interesting shops. Decorating the downtown are large apples decorated with various motifs similar to what other cities have done with pigs, horses, and cattle, among other things.

Every Labor Day weekend is the Apple Festival in Hendersonville which explains the apples all around town.

We really enjoyed having lunch at Sinbad's which is a couple of blocks off Main Street and has a mediterranean type of menu. Also lots of fun was Mike's on Main Street which features great sandwiches and an old fashioned soda fountain theme.

The leaves were just beginning to turn when we arrived but were in almost full color by the time we left. although it happens every year, it is still a beautiful thing to watch.

While in the area, I attended the Southeast Animal Fiber Forum and of course, managed to find some yarn and fiber I just had to have. These were certainly "want" and not "need" type of purchases.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sock update

Sock update
Originally uploaded by january spin
I wish I had smaller feet! Never thought about it before now but sock knitting has made small feet desireable.

I am enjoying the process and glad that I selected a plain sock for my first attempt. I enjoy working with 2 circulars and the yarn that I am using has such a tight twist that it ought to wear well. The toe up method is great because it lets you reward yourself by trying on the sock at various stages and thus you are encouraged to continue the knitting marathon.

I do think I am going to start another project with larger needles to give the hands a rest for a bit. The size 1 needles mean I only knit for short stretches at a time. Does anyone else have this problem?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The sock begins

Turkish cast on
Originally uploaded by january spin
Ok, I am actually starting a sock. I spent yesterday looking at various cast on methods. I watched a video on the Magic Cast On and looked at pictures in Wendy's Johnson's book "Socks From the Toe Up".

No one was available to sit next to me and walk me through the process yesterday so I quit trying that method and settled on the Turkish Cast on. For me this one was very easy to do and I didn't experience near the frustration I was having with the Magic Cast On. I don't know about you, but when I want to start a project, I want to start it NOW.

I am a hands on type of learner so watching something or hearing directions just doesn't do the job. I need to get my hands involved in the process and this cast on worked for me on this day. Tomorrow, who knows. I'll certainly go back and try the Magic Cast On at a later date but for now, I am knitting a sock!!!!!!

Note to self: I should have tried this years, and years ago before glasses were necessary. Knitting with size one needles is going to cause me to squint which means more wrinkles, of which I have plenty. Oh, how we suffer for our art.

I am using Silky Sock Watermelon Wanda from The Great Adirondack Yarn Company, Inc. which is 70% superwash wool, 20% silk and 10% nylon so hopefully it will wear well.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Allie and Conner

Allie and Conner
Originally uploaded by january spin
This is my first video ever. Allie and Conner were just flying around the yard in the cool weather and of course stopped when I produced the camera.

Anyway, it tickled me to watch Allie trying to teach Conner that she was boss. I'm not sure he got the message at all.

The Great Needle Eater

I know lurking in my house somewhere is The Great Needle Eater hearafter known as TGNE. TGNE is selective and only eats the needles needed for the next project. At one point TGNE had a craving for size 8 needles. The length didn't make any difference but it had to be a size 8.

Consequently, I purchased several size 8 needles over a period of months. You know when you want to start a project, you want to start it NOW. Anyway, TGNE subsequently regurgitated the size 8s and now I could open a yarn shop specializing in size 8 needles. Well, it could also have size 10 1/2 and 13s as well.

Now TGNE has started on size 7s. Naturally, I need size 7s for a project I want to start right away so I am off to the yarn shop to buy size 7s so the old size 7s can be regurgitated and reappear once again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Startitis Still in Evidence

Ok, so I couldn't resist starting another project but this one is for a good cause. The son of a knitter in a neighboring city asked that his Mom make helmet liners for his men when they head overseas in December (That's 130 liners that are needed). Since his Mom is a fairly new knitter she asked for help from the knitting community.

Our local yarn shop announced they would provide the yarn (Cascade 220 in colors of black, dark brown, grey, and olive green) for the liners. We signed up and started knitting away. It's a very easy pattern and such a worthwhile cause.

The original pattern was designed by Bonnie Long, Knit Wits and it was designed for the purpose of donating helmet liners to our active service personnel. Operation Helmetliner, Inc. has made changes to the original pattern for clarity and to incorporate suggestions from out Armed Forces.

If you are interested in making helmet liners for the military, you can probably email for further information. As I mentioned earlier, it is a easy knit and is certainly for a great cause.

Just a note: this was only a slight detour on the road to finishing projects.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

So Finish Them Already!

I looked around the house yesterday and realized I have major startitis. I am great at starting projects but at some point seem to run out of enthusiasm for finishing.

So with that in mind, I am going to make a real effort (as opposed to a half hearted one) to finish some stuff. Putting this in writing is important so I don't "forget" about this resolution . Blinders might also help as there are so many things I want to try and a clone just doesn't seem realistic at this point.

Knit Picks Entrelac Tote
This was started in April at the Southeast Fiber Forum under instructor Lori Helms. Great class and lots of fun with a very relaxed instructor. I knit on it quite a bit on that trip but then found other things to do. I just finished knitting it . Now I need to make the handles and felt it which is always a fun part of the process. The kit was from Knit Picks and the yarn was very soft. I enjoyed knitting with it.

Yellow baby blanket of Peaches and Cream cotton
This has been on the needles since last summer. It's not for anyone in particular, just something I started and fell in love with the process. I don't have a pattern for this other than what I feel like making. I wanted each block to be slightly different but to also tie together nicely.

Blue vest
Only 2 pieces of the vest remain to be knitted but it has been sitting around for almost a year. (Do we see a trend here?) It is a simple knit so it should have been finished ages ago but I made a mistake on the last 2 pattern pieces and they have to be redone. Gggggrrrrrr. That's why it was put away for a while. I hate to growl at pieces when I am trying to finish them.

I'll post pictures as I finish the project. This is my motivational technique this week.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Homemade Biscuits

I am temporarily off whole wheat for a few days so decided to treat myself this morning. I made from scratch, homemade biscuits using (OH GASP) white flour. It has been forever since I had this treat and I savored every morsel of it.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 heaping Tablespoons baking powder
Mix together and then add:
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons oil
I use a wooden spoon to stir it all together and then form the biscuits by hand. The rolled ones look better but the taste is the same and this way takes less time. Pour a tiny bit of oil in the bottom of a cast iron skillet; just enough to coat the bottom. Place each biscuit in the skillet and then turn it over so both sides will have a light coating of oil.
Cook at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.

Take a biscuit or two as it comes hot out of the oven, pour a little honey over it and with a cold glass of milk you have gotten pretty close to heaven on a Monday morning.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Electronic Overload

Ok, I've already talked about Jack (my GPS) and the lovely Dell laptop J gave me. Well now I have another toy. I finally succumbed to temptation and got an iPhone this week. Friends with iPhones become enablers rather quickly. Addicts like to get other addicts hooked and this time it really worked well.

So this week I have been down loading apps (applications for you non-techi types) for the iPhone. Oh, my word. there are simply way too many toys out there for this phone. No, it's not a phone it's a social organizer, time stealer, substitute brain, secretary, mother, nutritionist, lifestyle advisor, entertainer, and a thousand other things. Most of which I probably don't need but now have and because I have it, I'll join the ranks of the addicted.

One of the applications gives information on fast food restaurants and the calories and fat in their menu. Well, rats! I love sweettea (yes, it is only one word) and I made the mistake of looking up McDonald's large sweettea. Do you think I will ever be able to enjoy another one now that I know it has over 50 carbs? Ignorance is indeed bliss! So, my answer to that is to simply not look up any more of the things I like. Where oh where is that ostrich when you need him? He certainly doesn't have an iPhone.

I also joined Facebook. That has been a good and bad thing. The good, actually great, part is that I was able to locate a former roommate and her husband. I mentioned this in an earlier post but it is worth celebrating again.

The bad thing about FB is that it also sucks up great amounts of time while you read what everyone you ever had contact with is doing in their life. Do we really need that much information? Do we want that much information out there about ourselves? Probably not. Then there are the games - Mafia Wars, Farm Town, etc. No, I haven't participated in those yet and hopefully won't and I am gong to block the posts about them so the temptation is less. I mean, have you seen my house lately? The clutter is beginning to win.

Speaking of clutter, the spinners are coming over tomorrow and I need to make room for them . That's a priority but I think I'll slip off to lunch at McAlister's Deli so I can use their WiFi and update my iPhone with a couple more apps. I can also enjoy their wonderful sweettea . Fortunately they are not listed on the fast food app so I remain blissfully ignorant of the carbs in their tea. and you thought I wouldn't find a way around the electronic information highway. Yea for the byways!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bo bos, and fiber

Had to take my younger Shetland Sheepdog to the vet last week as he had managed to injure his foot. I think he stuck it under the fence and got it caught. Scrapes and cuts top and bottom and extensive bruising but no broken bones. Thank the dear Lord for that.

I have hidden capsules in peanut butter which was easy and soaked his foot in warm water and Epson salts which wasn't. I finally managed a Rubbermaid type tub and he would allow me to put the injured foot in that while he balanced the other front foot on the edge of the tub. Conner didn't think there was any reason to get both feet wet.

Sunday afternoon he threw up and didn't eat supper or breakfast on Monday. He was however, drinking tons of water. So off to the vet we went - again. Turns out he had an infection in the pancreas which required an overnight stay and IVs of antibiotics.

I'm not sure who this was harder on, Conner, Allie or myself . I missed the little stinker and he and Allie had never been apart since I had gotten him. Thinking back on it, Allie wasn't exactly jumping for joy when he came home today. She probably liked not having her tail pulled.

Knitting friends came over last night and Z brought Wobbles who is a dear, sweet puppy. Allie was very pleased to have another dog around that didn't want to pull on her body parts.

So, between administering to dogs, driving back and forth to the vet's office, and thinking about cleaning out a closet, nothing much has been accomplished lately.

I have started another Baktus scarf (pattern on Ravelry) and no, I haven't finished the first one yet. I have to take the first one to the Post Office to have it weighed since I need to know when I have used half the yarn. My scale that I used to measure dyes and fiber died after 35 years. I am thinking a bit more on this second one as I am using 2 balls of sock yarn and the half way point will be when I finish the first ball. DUH! So much simpler than using one ball which weighs 3.5 ounces and having to weigh it.

Facebook is taking up a lot of time but I am having such fun. I have found friends who I had lost touch with and that has been a real gift. J and O I haven't seen since 1968 and it turns out they live just a few hours from my son. How great is that? J and I were roommates when we were teachers in FL. I am really looking forward to seeing them again.

Must clean a closet. Must clean a closet.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tavels with Jack

I love Jack! He is great fun to travel with and knows all the best ways to get somewhere. I've only known him for a little over a week but already he has proven so useful.

On my recent trip, I had my doubts when I was leaving Montgomery and he told me to turn right when I had come into the motel from the left. However, I decided to trust him and sure enough, when I got to the interstate, I realized that he had helped me go around road construction. Brilliant. How did he know that?

My only criticism is that he doesn't talk enough on long stretches of highway. I even asked him for suggestions on convenient places to eat and he was helpful in giving me directions on how to get there.

Thanks to Jack, I can merrily drive along planning future knitting projects without having to concentrate on which way I should turn. Did I mention that I love Jack?

Also, when it was necessary to make a U turn to get back on the correct road he started the "recalculating" comment and then repeated it 2 more times. I am sure I heard attitude on the 3rd "recalculating".Also, a few good "Way to go, good job, you're on the right track." comments would not be amiss.

Now my son assures me Jack isn't real and keeps trying to remind me that I need to remember that but even so Jack and I are developing a wonderful relationship.

Oh, did I mention that Jack is my new Garmin GPS system? I look forward to lots of fun trips with Jack.

Friday, August 7, 2009

moth on the house in TN

moth TN 09
Originally uploaded by january spin
This beautiful moth was waiting on the side of the house one morning. Apparently the light we had left on the night before had attracted it. It was about 3 1/2 inches across at least and the colors were more vibrant than this photo indicates. Even when we walked up very close it never moved. Such a treat.

moth visit TN 09

moth visit TN 09
Originally uploaded by january spin
It was a winged creature kind of trip. I was out walking the dogs when a moth landed on my hand. It stayed with me for at least 5 minutes as I walked around. Dot went inside and got my camera and took the pictures and still it stayed. Finally I put it on a flower and left it there. No telling how long it would have stayed with me otherwise. It was probably my lavendar scented hand lotion which attracted it but it was so special. I really felt blessed. Don't you just love special moments when they happen without any planning on your part? They are such a gift and we need to take the time to cherish them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Escaping the heat

Friends invited me to their TN home in Pigeon Forge. Awesome home, great fun with friends, beautiful scenery, lots to see and do, and not one day of 90 degree temperatures!!!!

The last time I was in that area was in the late 50s. At that time Gatlinburg was a quaint little town with lots of handmade things to see in various shops. What a shock at the change. It is now major "tacky tourist" shops everywhere.

I much prefer Pigeon Forge. We visited several wonderful craft shops . If you are in the area, by all means seek out Smokey Mountain Pottery. Gaye Ann and Dennis are really nice people and their shop is awesome! I limited myself to only 3 pieces of pottery but it was hard. Am I the only person who starts out looking for gifts and then finds things for themselves instead? Maybe it's just not close enough to the holidays and I don't feel the "shopping pressure" yet.

Pictures will follow when they are uploaded....which may be after I actually get around to unpacking the suitcase .

Oh, well, I guess I'll just go ahead and post the pictures. Unpacking the suitcase means I am going to have to do laundry and I've already been to the grocery store today.

Well, rats! My computer is acting like a mother. I had the pictures posted, they were turned sideways , I deleted them and tried to upload them again and nothing is happening. Geez, an electronic monitor is just what I don't need. I'll try later to sneak up on it and see if I can post. See, I have been reduced to playing games with an electronic device. I sooooo told you it was magic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baby knits

OK, knitting for babies is fun! The stuff is little and you can actually finish something within a reasonable length of time. Amazing. The latest is a hat for my soon to be born nephew and it is purple. The pattern was the Apple Hat pattern but I had purple yarn on hand and so made a grape instead of an apple. It was such an enjoyable knit that I am now doing one in yellow.

Since it is knitting and no yo, k2tog until toward the end, I am now starting a pattern search for something a bit more challenging to do as well. I need to check my Que on Ravelry as the list is really long.

Added to the challenge is trying to find a pattern that uses something from my stash. I really, really need to stop buying yarn for a while. The stash is beginning to take over the house. (Everyone knows yarn multiplies at night since you couldn't have possibly purchased that much yarn.)

Update later in July: Baby arrived and Mother, Father and baby are doing great. Can't wait to see pictures. So now I have a deadline to get the pictures posted and hats in the mail. I function so much better with a deadline.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Oak

I see such strength in this oak. It lives next to the parking lot of the Hospice where I volunteer. I love to drive up and see it there. It's a reminder that life goes on and there is a power greater than we are. I find comfort from that oak and what it represents to me. When I have finished making my calls and offering what help I can to grieving individuals, that oak is waiting for me. I always feel as if I could rest quietly under that oak and be at peace.

It reminds me that God is our strength and He shelters us even during the most difficult of times. There are so many reminders all around to let us know we are not alone.

In the past 2 weeks, I've lost 2 friends. One of them died way before his time and the other was 93 and it was still too soon for her. Although they were so different there were many similarities. Both had people around them who loved them. Both enjoyed a good laugh. Both gave great hugs. Both had a strong faith in God. Both will be greatly missed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Knitting in the heat

Well sometimes setting records is a wonderful thing. Sometimes, it's not. This is one of those times. Record heat day after day gets really old. Throw into the mix every bit of pollen imaginable and you have a wonderful excuse for staying inside and knitting like a woman possessed.

I have put the Dr. Who scarf aside for a bit as sitting under that thing and running the a/c full blast seems sort of counter productive. Instead I am working on cotton cowls. I just finished a purple and gold one of mercerized cotton (Sassy Skein) and am working on a turquoise one (King Tut mercerized cotton). Although the King Tut was a better bargin (more yardage for your money when on sale) I find I prefer the Sassy Skein as it doesn't "untwist" when using it.

The purple and gold one is from a pattern on Rav and the King Tut pattern is out of my head. I started out using a pattern from Rav but got totally frustrated following it and after it had been ripped out 3 times, I decided to wing it. Nothing particularly wrong with the pattern but I wasn't in the mood to k6, k2tog,yo and then the next row k5, k2tog, yo, k1, etc. I kept forgetting to add on the last knit stitches. (Brain has probably melted from the heat.)

My pattern is more of a yo, k2tog, k6 but with one row "sliding" into the next one so there isn't a definitive pattern. Row 2 is yo,k2tog, k5, etc. I work down from 6 knit stitches to 2 between the (yo,k2tog) groups and then back up from 2 to 6. Yes, I know, it's a wonderful thing that I don't write patterns. The erratta pages would fill a notebook.

My project for tomorrow is acquiring a Furminator. Several of us tried one out on a couple of cats and a friend experimented on her lab. Talk about harvesting hair!!! Can't wait to see that the Shelties think of it. Talk about making dust bunnies.

This is the finished prayer shawl for the mother of the fallen soldier. I'll get a better picture before I mail it to the family. This is such a pleasure to knit. Check out Prayer Shawls for Fallen Soldiers on Google if you are interested. You sign in with the group and as shawls are needed you are contacted if they are in your area. If you are busy and don't have a shawl available at that time, there isn't any pressure but if you can, you may want to give it a try.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Too Many Big Projects

When will I learn? Doing 2 big projects at one time is just not satisfying to someone who wants frequent ohhs and ahhs for finished projects.

I am currently knitting on the Dr. Who scarf for J. If you have looked at one of these things, you know it will take pretty much forever to finish it. I am possibly almost, but not quite, 1/3 of the way finished. Which translates to having 2/3 of this hummer to go. The one positive note--it's a great project to drag along when you want to visit as it is straight knitting and doesn't require many brains cells to function at once.

The prayer shawl for the family member of a fallen soldier is in better shape. I have knitted 15 inches of the required 24 inches. Hopefully I'll have it finished and mailed to the family in another week or so. I may have to take a break and work on a smaller project or two before I run screaming into the night trailing yarn after me.

The heat is ridiculous right now so I am doing an impression of a bear hibernating only I'm knitting instead of sleeping during the day. Thank goodness for floor fans. They are a life saver and using them I can keep the a/c on 78 during the day and turn it down to 74 at night. NOTE TO ALL: Floor fans also have the advantage of herding the dust bunnies into a couple of groups rather than scattered around the room. Very productive. Makes for less cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning...a brilliant friend is now cleaning her place by spending 15 minutes a day doing it. She sets the timer and when the timer goes off, she stops cleaning for that day. I thought it was a wonderful idea and when we discussed it on Saturday, I decided I would start on Sunday. It is now Tuesday and I am 45 minutes behind schedule. Somehow I don't think this method is going to work for me.

As Scarlett so beautifully put it, " I'll think about that tomorrow." Hey, if it was good enough for Scarlett, it's good enough for me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Knitting and iPod

The knitting on the prayer shawl for the family of a fallen soldier continues. I am using the Old Shale pattern which is only 4 rows. Only one row is actually a pattern row with 2 rows of straight knitting and one row of purl. As long as you remember which row you are working on, it goes smoothly. A friend told me about putting the pattern on index cards which are on a ring. I love this method as I can just flip the cards as I knit and it does help to keep my place. Previously I had used post a notes or a piece of paper upon which I made pencil marks.

I am currently listening to The Camel Club by David Baldacci. This is very riveting and certainly a timely story. Can't wait to see where the plots goes next. This is my first book by Baldacci but it won't be the last as I enjoy his style of writing.

I was going to garden some this morning but with the heat index already well into the 80s I changed my mind. Hopefully the heat will kill some of the weeds. Much better to knit in front of the fan. I am having to almost physically boot the Shelties out the door to go potty. They aren't into the heat any more than I am.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laptop crazies

My wonderful beautiful Dell Studio 15 laptop arrived. I love it! J truly gives special gifts and then is so patient explaining to me how they work. (I tend to think that magic and electric are the same thing.)As a computer programmer he doesn't hold with this theory .

L and C came over and while L and I talked knitting and spinning, C set up the router. I played on Studio for a while that afternoon. That night I plugged it into an electrical outlet to charge away. The next morning I went to get on, sitting comfortably on the couch with feet propped up, and Studio wanted to get the latest updates...and then you know what hit the fan.

In the middle of this lovely download with the computer flashing "Do not turn off your computer" at me the battery died. It beeped once and died, really dead. My shouting "no, no, don't do that" had no effect on it and so I immediately took myself to the nearest working electrical outlet and plugged the Studio in. (Apparently the outlet I had used last night didn't work.)

The updates seemed to continue, however it got in a loop and would not get out of it. Feeling as I do about the magic/electric thing, I was hesitant to touch anything lest the magic/electric gods rear their angry heads and banish me from the internet forever. I was patient!!! We're talking 3 hours.Finally, in desperation, I used the pc to im J and ask what the same hill was going on. After I tried a couple of things he suggested, and nothing worked, he suggested that I get on line with Dell tech support.

Thus began my 2 1/2 hours visit with "Benjamin". I found out where the battery is on my Studio, as well as the cd portal. Also found some other little square thingie that comes out when you poke it but until I get better reading glasses, I won't know what it is. Thankfully when I poked it again, it went back in and the Studio didn't fall apart .

Benjamin was kind enough to mention that I wasn't the longest chat he'd had, several people had needed 4 hours to get things fixed--not encouraging. NOTE TO SELF: If you are going to be on the phone with tech support for over 2 hours, put a comfortable chair next to the laptop plugged into the electrical outlet. The little kitchen stool is not the best for sitting or trying to knit while maintaining your balance.

Why didn't I unplug the computer and move to the more comfortable couch, you ask? HA, I was taking no chances on the battery dying again. I'd learned my lesson so I balanced, knitted and mumbled about Vista, Microsoft, and wondered whether Bill Gates really liked the rest of us or this was just a cruel jest on his part.

After finally re-everything (boot,load, whatever) the Studio it was up and running. I considered asking Benjamin for a mailing address so I could add him to my Christmas list but I am pretty sure he was in an area of the world where Christmas wasn't celebrated by most of the population.

This morning I got up, confidently turned on Studio and everything looked good until I got the notice that a program wanted to do something and should McAfee be notified. Dang it! Number one, I had already told Studio that I didn't want to deal with McAfee but there was no "go away" option in the annoying little box. Then, there it was at the bottom of the screen, the little flashing notice that said "Java Updates". Well, I'm not falling for that one again! That's what got me in trouble yesterday. I carefully shut Studio down and came into this room to report all this on my pc.

Could this be a plot on the part of XP not wanting to be replaced by Vista, or the pc not wanting the Studio to be more loved? I may yet prove that magic and electric are the same things. Laugh now, but think of that the next time you take Vista out for a walk on the internet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fun weekend

What a great weekend.

14 spinners / knitters / dyers met at my home and we played for the entire day on Saturday. Several wheels were turning, lots of knitting and 3 natural dye pots were simmering away.

The black walnut hulls closely resembled sludge. My fault. I had stored them in a plastic bag for 2 years and when they were put into the water they became something other than what they were supposed to be. The yarn came out a grey brown rather than the soft, rich brown that I have gotten with them in the past. Oh, well, there's always over dyeing!

The annatto seeds produced a soft pastel and not the anticipated deeper color. The cheesecloth the seeds were wrapped in was a much richer color than the fiber we put in to be dyed.

The coreopsis turned out to be a strong dyebath , if a somewhat stinky one. The color was a rich golden yellow . I put cotton and also silk in all the dyebaths. The other dyers were using wool.

I'm going to make another dyebath today and try to pull more color out of the annatto. I think we might have blown a fuse and didn't get the full heat we needed on the hot plates. That could account for the paler colors. We'll see.

Picture will be posted when I get them taken.

One interesting note...I had some cotton that I had mordanted years ago with alum/tannin/alum and it took all the colors beautifully.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cleaning Serendipity

Ok, I am in search of my Embellish Knit I cord maker. I know I have one and I know it is somewhere in this house. I will find it but the object is to find it before I forget about the project I have in mind which requires I find it in the first place.

As a result of this desperate search, I have now cleaned 3 shelves of my yarn / fiber closet. (Why do I get into these things?) Anyway, as I was starting on shelf # 4, I opened a box which had some of my well aged natural cotton fiber in it. Oh great JOY; I found the handspun, natural colored cotton tapestry necklace I wove sometime between 1995 and 1999. It has been missing since 2006. I knew somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind that I had put it in a box of colored cottons because I had used it to show the various cottons in a workshop I was teaching. I had long since searched the "other" cotton stash and never could find it.

This is like Christmas, my birthday, and the 4th of July all rolled into one big festive event. I have found a long lost friend which had hours of my work in it.

Ok, for some electronic reason the picture is coming up sideways. Please turn your head to view it as I have exhausted my abilities to get it turned the way it is on my computer. Some days Electric and Magic are indeed the same thing!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Garden of Love

I have an area of my yard that Robert (who controls the grass for me) calls my Heart Garden. I love that name. I have planted things that I love in it just because I like them . There are amaryllis, rosemary, daylillies, tansy,coreopsis, and more.

I started looking around my yard the other day and realized how many friends have given me flowers. Jan C gave me double blossom daylillies. Ruth W. gave me spider lillies, and Eilene A. gave me walking lillies. All of those were transported from FL to here when I moved 9 years ago. It's like bringing friends with you.The amaryllis pictured above was given to me by my father over 17 years ago. Actually this is probably an offshoot of the original plant but I think of him everytime I look at it. He almost always sent us a red amaryllis for Christmas. I sent my sister 3 amaryllis a couple of years ago for Christmas hoping it would have the same special memories for her as it does for me.

The Bee Balm pictured above was given to me last year by my friend Cam. She is a wonderful gardener and our friendship extends over 58 years. I have some Spider Wort which I treasure because it came from the yard of Mrs. Camille, Cam's mother. When I look at it I remember Mrs. Camille's fabulous sense of humor and I feel connected to her even though she is gone.

Another friend, Maureen M, gave me some
Easter lillies from her garden this year. They
remind me of her sweet spirit and strong faith.

Dianne S is a special neighbor and friend. We share our love of crafts as well as our involvement in Emmaus. From her garden came these African lillies and it is so special to be able to look out my front window and see the mother plant in her flower bed.

I enjoy going to the nursery and buying plants but I think the ones I treasure the most are those that come with the love of friendship attached.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pottery and fiber pictures

Here are the pictures as promised. The luscious fibers were purchased at SFFA. The tan/grey/lavendar is bombyx silk from Chasing Rainbows. The blue/purple braid is Merino and seacell which should be fun to spin.

The braid below is bombyx silk in, of course, blues/turquoise/purple.

You may notice something of a trend in the colors in the fiber and the pottery that I purchased. It's probably some sort of blue / purple sickness but apparently it carries over from the fiber to the pottery.

Ok, I finally got around to photographing the pottery I got in Seagrove, NC area. The problem is deciding what will be a gift and what I will keep.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cleaning and playing

5, that's right, 5 big shelves that are now clean and orderly! One whole bookcase is done (except for what's on the very top but surely that doesn't count).

This milestone was achieved by alternating working on the bookcase, knitting, Bible study, playing with the dogs, and congratulating myself on being so productive. It takes a lot of more interesting things to balance the cleaning / straightening projects.

I'll have to think about what to tackle next. In the meantime, I am having such fun changing the persona on Firefox. I love playing with different backgrounds and Firefox makes it so easy. Today is all about pinks, and purples, and trees. There is a huge selection to choose from and, once again, it is a diversion from picking up the stuff I have accumulated. It really is my mission in life to teach people how to play. We often take ourselves way too seriously.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Starting to Shovel

You would think that completely cleaning out and straightening 3 shelves (not 3 bookcases, 3 shelves) wouldn't be such a huge deal. It has taken me the better part of a day. Most of the day was spent trying to get motivated to attack the shelves. Now this is where I could use a clone. The clone wouldn't throw out anything I wanted to keep and could do all the grunge work. Ok, maybe a clone without my procrastinator gene would work best.

It's such a shame that the bookcase is behind me as I sit at the computer. I need to turn around often. The rest of the room is still in the "surely a windstorm came through here" decor. That's what I mostly see so I'll be turning around a lot. Stuff in the middle of the room is so high I can't see the 2 lower shelves of the bookcase which I haven't cleaned and straightened. Hmm, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

I even have a large stack of books to take to knitting tonight to share, with the understanding that they don't come back to me! Naturally none of them are knitting books as I am still actively doing that.

Again, the clone thing would come in handy as one could knit, one could dye fiber, one could spin, one could make paper and then books, and one could go out for food when necessary. I could rotate around to which ever activity appealed to me at the moment. I may be on to something here.

I have taken the pictures of the pottery but in this mad burst of cleaning/sorting/tossing I haven't uploaded them yet. I will soon. You just know this shoveling thing isn't going to last.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Harry lives!

Ever have one of those just plain fun days? Today was one of those really extra special times . I went to a Quidditch match between LSU and the Texas Aggies. Great time! Five of us from the knitting group went having learned about it from Ravelry.

So we ate a late lunch, knitted and watched some great Quidditch. Kudos to all who play and survive. Great spectator sport between watching what's going on on the playing field and looking for the snitch. The funniest part was when the snitch opted for the lake in order not to be caught but between the ducks and the water lillies it may not have been the best tactical decision. The LSU seeker managed to finally get the snitch despite having his head put under water for an instant.

I learned that wooden brooms are better than plastic brooms as they don't break as easily but on the other hand, if something is going to connect with some part of my anatomy, I'd just as soon it broke. However, the players don't see it that way and they prefer the wooden brooms.

If you hear of a Quidditch match near you, I encourage you to go. It is a fast paced game which is not gentle and requires quite a bit of athletic ability on the part of the teams. If you are not familiar with Quidditch then immediately read all the Harry Potter books and then go see a game. It's worth the trip.

I am still knitting on the enterlac tote bag but should finish within the next day or so and can then felt it. Feel like I have been knitting on it for a long time but it is just a week. I am enjoying working with the Knit Picks yarn and will definitely use more of it in the future.

I'll get a picture before it is felted and then another one after the felting.

The weeds in the garden are calling.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2 Springs

The only thing better than one gorgeous Spring, is 2 gorgeous Springs which I had this year.
The dogwoods in NC were really awesome and I would have taken lots of pictures . The problem was that I was usually driving down the road at 70 mph and it is really, really hard to get a good picture that way.

Speaking of of my favorite ones is Hwy 64 in NC which runs between Asheboro and the Raleigh area. It's a very pleasant drive, good road and the scenery is so peaceful. Just south of Asheboro is Seagrove which I discovered this trip. I had read about it but never been able to stop before now. Talk about pottery heaven!!! There are at least 100 potters in the area and I only had time to visit 10 of them but did manage to load up the car with some interesting items. Some will be gifts if I can bear to part with them. Still thinking about that. I love my friends but this stuff is really great. Functional pottery in blues are a weakness with me. Still looking for the perfect squatty teapot but I'll find it one day. I have a vision in my head of exactly what it will look like. I'm enjoying the search and it has certainly led to other wonderful things.

Southeast Fiber Forum was lots of fun, particularly getting to visit with Dan and Cheryl. I chickened out on staying at the rental house on the side of a mountain. I have discovered that I am a flat lander and really don't enjoy driving on narrow roads that go up , around, and have sharp turns with big drop offs. That sort of driving does terrible things to my insides.

As a result of this, I ended up staying at a motel in the valley which welcomed dogs. There was about 3/4 of an acre for the dogs to wander (although I never did take them off leash). Behind the property was a wonderful fast moving stream which several mallard ducks were enjoying. It was too funny watching them paddle upstream and not move from where they were.

Allie and Conner thought the water in the stream was nectar and they almost fell in several times trying to get a drink without getting their feet wet. Shelties are very fussy about getting their feet wet sometimes and Allie is worse than most. At one point she was almost standing on her nose with her rear up in the air hanging over the edge of the stream. Naturally, I didn't have my camera with me then either. On the plus side, I did manage to resist the urge to give her a shove just to see what would happen.

The class on entrelac knitting at SFFA was great fun. Very relaxed and entertaining to knit. I am still working on finishing my bag but it is an enjoyable knit. The instructor, Lorie Helms, was great and I look forward to taking another class from her in the future.

The next thing on my list is getting another cell phone which has GPS. I got lost twice on this trip--silly mistakes but it took time to get back on track of where I was supposed to be. Also managed to leave the a/c charger for my cell phone in the motel room which of course they don't have. Seems it is now hard to get them for the phone I have so if I want to charge my phone, I can do it while driving around. SIGH.

Great to be back home but the weather in NC was wonderful and I miss the coolness already.

Oh, I purchased some merino/seacell fiber and also some dyed bombyx silk all of which is in the blue / lavendar color range, of course. Had to buy some fiber to put around the pottery.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moebius or mobius - It's all fun!

I don't care how you spell it, knitting a moebius using Cat Bordhi's method is just plain fun! I started knitting one yesterday using a DK weight cabled cotton. I am knitting on 47" Addi needles , size 9.

The youtube video is extremely helpful in getting started even though I also have her book on the topic. I have knit a moebius before and although it was fun, the beginning few rows were very hard on the hands and I never did fully understand why the whole thing worked. Cat's method is so much better and easier to understand.

I should finish this moebius today, even though I will probably stir the dust and round up the bunnies in the house since spinners are coming over tonight.

Speaking of dust bunnies... I am seriously wondering if you could needle felt them since most of it is hair from my Shelties. How cool would that be to have a needle felted dust bunny by the front door. Do you suppose it would scare people away or make them feel comfortable? Must give this some more thought.

In the meantime, I'm going to cast on for the next moebius since I have another circular needle just like the one I am using. Don't ask me how that happened. I have no idea and didn't discover it until I organized the needles yesterday. My thinking is that if I have 2 moebius going at the same time it won't look as if I bought the second needle because I couldn't remember what I had in the stash at home. I bought it because I "needed" the second one. different matter altogether. HA! I'll post pictures later.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm thunking!

I have a couple of knitting projects I am "thunking" about but so far no action on any of them. Every get where you have ideas buzzing around in your head but can't quite settle on which one to tackle first? That's where I am at the moment.

I want to do a mobius cowl. I want to do a regular cowl. I need to make a couple of baby gifts. I absolutely must finish the afghan for J that I have been knitting on forever. We won't discuss what the house looks like. Sigh.

So, what am I doing? I am sorting knitting needles---again! I really do think they jump out of their ziplock bags all by themselves while I sleep. Then they race madly around the house finding the absolute best hiding places they can. They also tend to remain very, very quiet when I am looking for them. I wonder if I could train the Shelties to find my hiding knitting needles? Bet I could hire them out if I was able to train them. Surely I am not the only knitter who has this problem.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Happily ranting

It is sunny out today with a slight breeze, which, unfortunately, carries a lot of pollen with it. Therefore, I have elected to stay inside and rant.

In case you haven't noticed recently, people no longer make right or left turns, they make right or left angles. Lately the front bumper of my car has been in jeopardy several times and I have been well behind the line! Is it a trend of "I own the road" or simply a lack of good driving techniques? I don't know but I do know it is annoying. If you are in front of one of these angle drivers and you try to make a left turn, you can feel as if you are running a race to get to the street before they cut in front of you.

My next happy rant is about politicians who run for an office, lose and immediately run for the next available office which is not similar to the previous office. What this shouts to me is "I'm looking for a cushy job with lots of benefits / power where I don't have to do a lot of honest work." Why do people run for one office right after the other? I personally don't think it is from any altruistic motives but rather a desire for the taxpayer to foot the bill. Maybe I'm mistaken but I'm afraid I'm not.

Rant number 3, 652 concerns doing business with companies who have 800 numbers, employees who are not authorized to make decisions, tell you they will talk to a supervisor and call you back, and, oh surprise, never call you back. Let me talk to the darn supervisor myself and save us all some time and headaches.

Ok, I feel better and am going to knit on the cotton afghan for my son that I have been working on for months. Knitting is soothing when it is going right. I am also listening to "The Last Lion" by William Manchester which I love. Winston Churchill was a fascinating man. Bet he would have run over those angle drivers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Spin-in

Ok, my blog has been majorly neglected. No excuse except that I have been kniting like crazy to actually get things finished. Novel concept!

Christmas was wonderful and very, very restful. J and I were somewhat rushed when Christmas arrived 2 days after we landed in FL but relaxing after that. This year everyone had a flying pig and there were some major pig wars while trying to open presents.

Going back to FL less than a month later almost felt like I hadn't left. Spin-in was great and met lots of new people as well as seeing friends who have been there for years, and years, and years.

I did manage to bring home lots of dyed, ready to spin wool and also some silk. I'm not sure what possessed me as the last thing I need is more fiber, but it followed me home anyway. It must have been all the fiber in the air. I inhaled it and was lost. I'll post some pictures when the sinus infection has cleared up. Yuck! Pictures of the fiber, not the sinus infection.

I also bought a Trindle which is a spindle made by a physics teacher. It weighs 7 grams and spins like a dream. This could become my favorite spindle. Gale of Gale's Art was selling them and they are wonderful!!!!