Saturday, December 27, 2008

Finally . . .

Finally a few things to share! Here's what's drying on the guest room floor. That's two big skeins - one each of Cormo, and Targhee, and two baby skeins of Targhee. I've been talking about them forever, and finally both are done.

As you can see, I finally finished up the next skein of Cormo. I wish I could say I finished up the last skein, but there is still MORE Cormo to spin. For now, though, I think I'm done with it. So frustrating to spin - I need a break from it. I also spun up another 4 oz. bump of Mountain Colors Targhee, and I finished plying it yesterday.

I love Targhee, and I can hardly believe how easy this was to spin compared to the Cormo I've been fighting with for months. I spun this second 4 oz. in less than a week. Wow! That's pretty fast for me. The colorway is Sandstone. I got this roving from The Loopy Ewe, and I have more it of it in another color! Yay! As for this color, from what I know of sandstone, it's pretty spot on. In this closeup I fiddled a bit with the color, contrast and brightness because it didn't come out very well in the initial photo. It's a little bright, but it's close.

One of the things I love about my Lendrum wheel is the plying (sometimes called Jumbo) head. Those are really big skeins of yarn in that first photo. I'll know the yardage after they dry. They were wound on a 2-yard niddy/noddy (and a 1-yard for the baby skeins), but when you finish and set the twist, the fibers often shrink up, particularly if they had a lot of crimp in the wool to begin with. And Targhee is like elastic. Did I mention I love this stuff? This photo is probably a little closer to the actual color of the wool and remember, it's still wet here.

Here is the Cormo. Looking a little more grey that the first two skeins - but, again, that's probably because it's still wet. It came from the same roving. You can see that I struggled with this roving. There's far more thick/thin and uneven spinning going on in this yarn than in the Targhee yarn. Still, the yarn itself, once it's dry, will likely be nice, and I will have probably around 600 or 700 yards total with still more to spin. I'm considering dying this yarn once I finally finish spinning it all up.

What's next? Well, I'm very excited that I will be attending The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling knitting retreat again in April 2009! And even better, I'm going to be teaching some beginning spinning there. I'm very excited about this and although I have a hard time thinking of myself as a spinning teacher since I'm still pretty new at it, my own teacher, PatsyZ assures me that I'm well-qualified to teach beginners. I hope she's right :-D

I finally finished these socks. The yarn is Farmhouse Yarn's Fannie's Fingering Weight - or as Knitterary calls it: Dirty Girl yarn . . . check her blog for the story there. ;-D I liked this yarn very much. I only wish it was superwash. The colorway is called Autumn, but it looks like Christmas to me. The closeup shot is a very good representation of the colors. This yarn also came from The Loopy Ewe (pretty much my favorite place to buy sock yarn :-) ). It's a plain old sock - strictly stockinette. I learned my lesson with the last variegated yarn. I did re-cast on for the Spring Forward socks with a yarn that is variegated, but the color changes are not so frequent, giving large bands of single colors, which actually do then show the stitchwork.

Having these socks off the needles leaves me with the never-ending Feather and Fan scarf, and St. Patrick (the Spring Forward socks are my current train project). I'm back down to three on the needles (not counting the alpaca sweater that's in knitting jail because I lost interest in it about a year ago . . . there's not that much left, I should just finish it.

I'm saving two wonderful fiber-related gifts I received for my next post. :-) I hope your holiday was a lovely as mine :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Not Too Late . . .

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I hope you'll click the cow and give the gift of hope.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Hilarity . . .

A fine looking crew, wouldn't you say? I mean really - have you seen so many happy, shining faces in one place lately? It's my SnB crew. I don't get to see them all that often, but last night our hostesses, Dreamsweaver and KniftyRed gathered some of us together at the home of Dreamsweaver. Cookie-o-rama - and as you can see by the evidence on the table, I'm not kidding. A very funny gift exchange, and of course a really lot of knitting and laughing. I love these guys!!

In front, there's Knitterary, Dreamsweaver, blogless B, Biographica Kniteraria (whose blog seems to be MIA for the moment), Sticks N Mud, and KniftyRed. In back: blogless K, Tzurris (w/baby on board!) and TamaLamaDingDong :-)

Here are a few of them modeling their "Damn Tam" hats, doing their best impersonation of the Horta from the old Star Trek series. They all worked on these tams together - one knit-a-long that I was happy to miss, because apparently the Windmill Beret has some rather tricky bits, hence the name "Damn Tam." :-D However, you can see that all the fussing was worth it - they are beautiful hats - and KniftyRed even made TWO of them!

We did talk, however, a little about the St. Brigid knit-a-long. I'm more and more excited about this even though I have not yet finished my St. Patrick. (You would think I'm Catholic with all these saints flying around, wouldn't you? You would be wrong.) And just to show that indeed, I have finished something lately, here are the latest socks. Opal yarn (my old standby), for my cousin's daughter J. She got to pick this yarn out herself from a selection of my sock yarns. It's a little hard to tell because of the angle, but they are identical twin socks. Yay! I love it when that works out.

I got a LOT done last night on the last pair of socks on the needles. I blasted through the gusset and am on the straightaway of the foot, headed with great speed for the final turn into the toe and the finish line. Yay!! Then I'm working on St. Patrick and spinning through the end of the year. I have big projects waiting for me . . !

Happy Holidays to you all, wherever you may be.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ice . . .

Well, I was hoping it would be a snow day for me. But my place of business is open. I'm not there, but they didn't close because of the weather. Of course, prolly not too many people are there, but whatever. The fact that they're open and I'm not there means that I will likely be charged for a day of leave today. I can't get there. The electric train I take every day is not running as far out as where I live. The lines are frozen from about 15 miles North of me to the end of the line South of me, and the roads are so bad that driving to get the train is really not an option.

It's beautiful, isn't it? But what a mess. I did put a fresh feeder full of bird seed up this morning because when it's frozen like this, they can't get anything to eat on the ground. The squirrels are quite wiley, but I've managed to stop them getting the feeder down or open - at least so far. Of course I had to put packing tape on the top so they couldn't open it . . . Right now there are sparrows and a Purple House Finch (which is actually red - go figure), but I've had a woodpecker, and multiple Cardinals, Chickadees, Juncos, Nuthatches and of course a bazillion sparrows all morning long. They've already eaten close to a quarter of what I put out for them.

We didn't get the snow that was predicted, but where I live we got sleet - a boatload of sleet - along with the ice. We had a thunderstorm this morning while I was out chipping away at the ice on the driveway. Yes, you read that right: a thunderstorm.

I'm out there, in my pajamas, boots, hat and coat, smacking away at the ice, and it was early - I mean it wasn't even light out yet - and all of a sudden, thunder and lightening - at which point it began to rain ice. It rained ice. I had to come back inside. I waited for it to stop, and then went back out and re-cleared the little path I made - I could hear the trees creaking and ice cracking and clacking as the wind picked up and stirred the branches.

I rang my cleaning lady and told her not to come, but she was already on her way, which means I have a very clean house - and she brought me a huge plate of amazing Polish cookies that are WAY way good (thus saving me from baking any . . . ;-) ). My friend who is visiting from Colorado can't get to the airport because we can't get a train to get into the city, and since IDOT has been begging people not to drive, she rescheduled her flight and we're staying put.

I'm happy to have a day at home - I'm not so happy that I have to use a day of leave for it, but oh well. At least I'm home and safe. :-)

Here's a shot of the path I was able to chip through the crap this morning. Just that took me about an hour and my hands hurt now from smacking the metal shovel down on the asphalt to break up the stuff to make just this path. I would have brightened up the photo, but the sun was not out. The sleet was about two inches deep. I couldn't break up any more of it, so my driveway is probably toast for the rest of the winter unless we have a warmup. At least as far as having it clear and not slippery.

Buy stock in rock salt.

I finished up some socks and have nearly finished the last pair that's on the needles. I picked up the yellow Feather and Fan Scarf and have been working on it again - and finally finished up and plied the next skein of Cormo! Have not finished it/set the twist yet, but will do that probably tomorrow, since I lay stuff like that to dry in my guest room, which is currently in use :-)

I walked today on my treadmill, and am about to relax and get some knitting done! Maybe some spinning!

I hope, wherever you are you are safe and warm - and if you're local and you have to drive, please be safe.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Windy Day in the Windy City . . .

Wonky weather here again - rained like MAD last night - all the snow is gone. I went into the city to meet one of my friends and catch Madama Butterfly at the Lyric. I had not seen this opera before. I only like Puccini, but this one, which so many love will not go down as one of my favorites in terms of the music (I love Turandot and Tosca and La Boheme - those are my favorites). The set, however, was magnificent, and there were even ninjas (the opera is set in Japan)!!! The set revolves and the ninjas do all the heavy lifting to get that to happen. It was very well done.

It's kinda warm - in the 50's, but the wind has not stopped, and we hear that we're in for a storm . . . we'll see what tonight brings.

So. Flexible Feet. My trip to Fleet Feet in Elmhurst yesterday morning was very very productive and information and all-around positive. I recommend them highly, and I recommend them even more after my walk this morning.

Apparently there's something to this "having the proper shoes and socks." I would not have believed it had I not just experienced it - the difference that having the right shoes and socks makes is nothing short of amazing, and, apparently, pretty much instant.

I was a little leery this morning, a little worried - I've been down this road twice now with shoes, but no pain, no aching knees after the walk, no feeling like I'm going to get another blister. OMG. These are my new shoes: they are called "Nirvana." I'm not kidding. That's their name, and they deserve it. They are made by Mizuno (I never even heard of them before!), and they are sitting on top of my other new pair, which are called "Hurricane" and are made by Saucony. I also got magical socks, a.k.a. Balega, and I love them. I love them. Did I mention that I love them?

I walked on a treadmill in my bare feet and they filmed me (from the rear - OMG it wasn't pretty - but thankfully it was mostly my feet and only a small portion of my ass and they promised me they would delete it immediately). And then they played back the film so I could see how I walk. The first words out of the mouth of the guy who helped me were, "you have very flexible feet." When he pointed out what my feet and body were doing as I was walking, I could absolutely see what he was talking about. I over pronate. No mention was made of flat feet ( I don't think my feet are flat), just that they are very flexible and need a more stable shoe.

I asked if walking in the wrong shoes could also cause my knees to ache - the answer was yes, first the knees, then the hips, then the lower back. It's all connected and it makes perfect sense to me. And after my walk this morning with my new shoes, and not hurting. I'm a believer.

So, Yay!! More new shoes. I'm the only woman I know who has more athletic shoes (and I'm not even an athlete) than dress shoes :-D

Saturday, December 13, 2008

News Flash . . .

. . . apparently, I have Flexible Feet.

Film at 11.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

If It's not One Thing . . . It's Another

I mean, really. First it's bitter cold, then it's raining - and I mean raining - pond in the backyard raining - then it's cold again, but not quite so cold as before, then it snowed, then the Governor got arrested on federal corruption charges, then I got a blister on the side of the ball of my foot again. And out of all those things, the stupid blister has been the most on my mind because it hurts so dang much. Not even a very big blister, but a blister. In the most irritating spot that hurts with pretty much every step I take. Which means that today, I'm not doing my usual walk on the treadmill. Oh well.

I'm going to go to one of those specialized runner's stores (not that I run) and get fitted for the proper shoes because this is ridiculous. Every time I start to speed up my walking, I have foot issues.

And on the other - well we have no immediate control over the weather (but hey - can you say global warming?); however, we do have control over who we put into office. This governor has never been a favorite, but there it is - four of the last seven governors of this state were/are in prison. I hope he resigns - and I hope the Illinois House and Senate enact something that will prevent him from appointing someone to President-elect Obama's seat in the Senate. Trying to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder (allegedly)?? Demanding people be fired because they don't like him (allegedly)?? It's crazy. And now the state is in political turmoil on top of the financial turmoil we're already struggling with.

Like I said, if it's not one thing, it's another. I suppose this too, like the blister on the side of my foot, shall pass, but it's going to leave another scar on Illinois politics (which, unfortunately, already looks like a punch drunk prize fighter). I hope we can get it right the next time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday, Chez A :-)

OK - when I said it was cold on Tuesday - I was mistaken. Thursday was cold. Yesterday was cold. HolyMotherofGod cold. I had to break out the Industrial Strength Hat and Scarf on Thursday, something I usually don't have to do until January, because usually it doesn't get this cold until January.

I don't mean to complain, because I truly do love all four of the seasons we get here. And hey - it's like 28 today - a veritable heatwate. At any rate, it's WAY better than where I used to live in SoCal. We had two seasons there: Brown, and On Fire. I'm not kidding.

But geez - it was cold yesterday. This morning it warmed up enough to snow some more, and I got outside to refill the bird feeder, and hauled out the snowblower to clear the driveway before I headed out to have lunch with my cousin N and her family. We had a lovely time - looking over old photographs from Ireland.

And I'm home now - and I'm spending my afternoon and early evening in my living room. I spend most of my time in my sunroom. It's a beautiful place to be and I'm very grateful for it. But I love my living room. Here's how it looks today - decked out in most of it's Christmas finery. See that Christmas stocking? That's mine from when I was a little girl - I wanted to be a ballerina (doesn't every little girl?). I think that the girl on the stocking is really an angel (she has a glitter halo), but I always thought she was a ballerina (that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-) ). I'm not sure what the seal with ball on his nose has to do with the ballerina, but there it is. :-)

I fired up the fireplace (pardon the pun), and I'm about to curl up on the leather sofa and read. It's one of those cushy, sort of an overgrown club chair sort of sofas. So comfy. I have Christmas tunes on the telly, and I'm going to read some more of Meg Cabot's Size 14 is not Fat Either. It's part of the Heather Wells mysteries. Meg Cabot is hilarious.

The fire is roaring and crackling, and the candles are lit - they are Yankee's Christmas Wreath, which makes the entire house smell like there is a real Christmas tree in here. I'm sorta wishing I had someone to share it with. I wonder if that means I'm ready to date again . . .


I got to ride in on the train with KniftyRed yesterday because I was pokey and missed my regular train. We talked a little about the Knit-A-Long that she and I and Knitterary and probably a few others from our SnB are going to do in the new year. We're all going to knit Alice Starmore's St. Brigid. I'm excited about this - and I have yarn from my stash all ready to go. I just need to finish St. Patrick first :-D

But first, the fire is calling . . . :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brrrrrr. . .

OK - it's cold here. And it got cold like overnight on Sunday. Winter is here - my Christmas decorations are up! I had to fire up the snowblower yesterday! And man was it cold today. I'm wearing pajamas. Because I'm cold. I actually had to turn the heat up to 68 on both furnaces.

We had our first real snowfall on Monday. This is usually when people start in with the "I'll bet you miss Southern California now, don't you?" line. Just so you know: No, I don't. I love all four seasons, and I wish I could have captured the snow in my backyard yesterday in the dawn light. Quite surreal, actually. And so very beautiful.

Chicago is always a beautiful city to me - no matter what time of year it is, but at this time of year, I think it steals Paris' "City of Lights" crown. Every tree on the Magnificent Mile is covered in Italian lights (for those of you not from here, they call them twinkle lights in a lot of other parts of the world) - and not just on North Michigan Avenue, pretty much all over downtown you can find trees and shrubs covered in Italian lights. The gigundous tree in Daley Plaza is lit, and everyone is bundled up. That's what you do here in the winter - you just wear a lot of clothes :-)

And for my friend, Michelle, who envies my life right now . . . they say the grass is always greener - although here right now, it's . . . um . . . .whiter. I know in your heart you would not trade your son, your sheep, your chickens and your man for the single life in the Windy City. Maybe for a day or two, but I imagine you would soon tire of my daily commute to the city and my desk job, and coming home and trying to cook healthily for one, and sleeping single in a double bed. I could be wrong, though - perhaps you need to come to the city for a visit to see what life in the big city is really like. :-) . . . . :-D sorry, I'm just laughing at the thought of me on your ranch . . . and those who know me in person are really laughing, because I'm such a city girl. I'm exactly where I'm meant to be - and I suspect, so are you :-)

Finally the Saxony Socks are done. I made these in the largest size and then decreased down to 64 stitches when I switched to stockinette for the foot. These photos will biggify if you click on them - I'm sorry they are not better, but I don't seem to have the knack for indoor photos that KniftyRed has with hers. Better light would help, I'm sure. These have, once and for all, cemented my dislike of variegated yarns for stitch work. I wish I would have figured this out sooner because I got an armoire full of gorgeous variegated sock yarns with which I will be making plain stockinette socks. Oh well - they'll be easy to do on the train. Live and learn.

The cables are much more visible in person than in either of the photos. These are going to my cousin, B. She insisted she didn't care about the obvious biasing that's going on. I suppose you won't see it under her jeans anyway, but it really bothers me and I've never had this problem before.

I don't know why this happened, but it was consistent with both socks. Working the seed stitch I was constantly "un-twisting" the yarn. I don't know if this biasing is inherent in the pattern, or if it was the pattern coupled with knitting in the round (i.e., never purling back on the seed stitch). At any rate - I'm not happy with them, but B will love them. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Wild Iris colorway - not one of my favorites, truth be told. And for some reason, in the first photo it looks like there is blue in the yarn. There is no blue - it's purple, green and brown. I'm happy these are done ;-D