Friday, August 28, 2009

Dog Days . . .

These are the dog days of summer. Except usually the dog days are really really hot. We haven't had really really hot temps all summer long. And to tell the truth, I've been really enjoying it. Let's face it, Chicago in July and August is usually really really hot and brutally humid. This year - not so much.

I've been running all summer long. I have Jackson Browne in my head pretty much every day, and it's my own fault. I booked myself solid every weekend since probably 4th of July, and before that since I think about May. What was I thinking? I mean it's not like I'm that popular, you know? :-D Alot of the stuff was stuff I really wanted to do; I just planned to do too much of it.

But I did have a wonderful afternoon last Sunday with blogless Janet who came over to spin. Her yarn is lovely, and she brought zucchinis and cukes and even brought some zucchini bread which was wicked good. OMG.

And tonight I decided it was time to update my Ravelry stash as much as possible, so that's next on the list. I think I have most, if not all, of the photos taken and ready to upload to flickr. Oh, and I've bought more yarn. I mean, really. I must have a screw loose, but I was tempted by some Handmaiden Casbah and some Fiesta (LOVE their colors, love Boomerang!) Baby Boom. And then, today, for the first time, I stumbled on a Wollmeise update at The Loopy Ewe and there was stuff left. So I ended up with six skeins of 80/20. At least I think I did. My orders appeared to go through. Unfortunately, I was not able to get any reds / blues / purples, and the browns / greens / oranges I got are not really my best shades. I'm hoping I might be able to trade them for some colors I might prefer.

So, if you know anyone who might want to trade me Granatapfel, Pinie, Moses, Blaue Tint or Ballerina, for Frulhing, Wasabi, Gianduia or Birkenrinde, be sure to let me know.

There has been spinning - on my Lendrum and also on The Big Wheel. I never have named my wheels - I just call them The Lendrum (which is my original folding wheel) and The Big Wheel (which is my new Saxony). This is my first skein on The Big Wheel. Not my finest work, but still, not half bad for my first try and I think it's going to knit up really well. The feel of this wheel is SO different from the regular Lendrum. And it's miles faster. OMG Fast. Yank the fiber out of your hand Fast. It has already made me a faster spinner all the way around.

Here's a close up. You can see I have some thick and thin going on, but all in all, I'm pretty happy. My hands were drafting like the fiber was on fire :-D This was from some roving that I got in the fall of 2007 when I went to Lamar to study with Anne Field. It's 100% wool (which I assume means it's a blend of some sort) from JWrayco in the Harbor colorway. You can see Leslie's amazing color sense, can't you? She and Janet make some of the most beautiful stuff. :-) I got 265 yards, and I'm quite happy about that because it's more than I usually get from a 4 oz. bump of roving. Clearly I'm starting to spin more finely. At least on The Big Wheel I am. It wants to make thin, fine yarn at breakneck speed :-D

In the summer of 2007, when got my wheel from Toni at The Fold, she was liquidating the estate of a fiber artist. I got a lot of stuff that day, one bag of which was a sampler of rare British breeds. I wanted to play some more with The Big Wheel, and so I spun up this BFL. It was some of the best combed top I have ever spun. Just amazing. I'm really glad I have some more it - it's in other colors, but it's just as well-prepared. This is over spun, which I often do because I like to knit with sturdy yarn (less pilling, less fuzzing :-) ), and I didn't get much from the 2 oz. (only about 50 yards), but it's bulky weight and I love it. I can't imagine what I'm going to make with only 50 yards of it, but maybe I'll blend the other two bumps (one is bright white and one darker brown) and see what happens.

I've been spinning a LOT of Blue-Faced Leicester wool lately. I so enjoy it, particularly the stuff I got from Gale's Art. I picked up some more of it at Michigan :-) It's a wonderful wool to spin. It falls in the category of a long wool, but it's much softer than most while still retaining a beautiful luster. I highly recommend spinning with it. It's right up there with Targhee as one of my favorites!

Oh - one other thing to share. Here's a progress photo on my Two Hearts sweater from the book A Fine Fleece. The yarn is the Abundance that Chris from Briar Rose dyed for me. I'm loving it.
:-)

That's the update from The Third Coast tonight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So You May Take Me to the Fair . . .

OK - so I've been listening to Camelot in the car lately :-) I picked a selection of older shows for my last two drives: Pippin, Camelot, The Sound of Music and West Side Story. Two of them starred Julie Andrews (and were directed by Robert Wise!), and let's face it, who doesn't love to listen to Julie Andrews? I mean, really. If you say you don't, I'm forced to think you're not being truthful, because Julie Andrews is sort of like Sara Lee - nobody doesn't like her :-)

Anyway - Think about the Sun, Pippin . . . . it was hot in Michigan yesterday. I don't know why I thought it might not be - maybe because of this gloriously cool summer we've had. No. It was hot. Dripping sweat hot. :-D I wished I had worn shorts, but thankfully I had what my cousin, ME calls my "party fan" with me - it's a beautiful hand-painted black fan with black lace trim. A friend of my mom's used to live in Spain and she gave it to me as a gift. I fan myself with it when the heat is unbearable. Here's Toni from The Fold, with her fan. :-D

Really, it's hot in the buildings where the vendors are - even with exhaust fans going full tilt. Outside, it was hot and mostly sunny. I forgot a hat (most unlike me), but I was covered with SPF 70 (Water Babies - works great!) so I didn't get sunburned.
This year the Windy City Knitting Guild did not do a bus up the to Festival, and that's too bad. I guess they lost money last year on the deal. I didn't want to miss the Festival, so I drove up myself. It was about 2 1/2 hours from my house, and the drive was easy.

I noticed - as I have with most of the fiber events that I have attended this year, that this one seemed slightly smaller than the last. No matter - I still prefer it over Stitches. Maybe it's because there are animals there, but the vendors are amazing, and there's really a lot to experience, even if you're not taking class during the week.

This year, I picked up my fleeces, and the yarn that Chris of Briar Rose dyed for me! It's her worsted weight, called Abundance. It's darker and more blue than this photo would have you believe. My plan is for the Two Hearts Sweater from A Fine Fleece. And you know I want to cast on immediately! I'm restraining myself because I don't think I could finish it in time to take it to Iona with me in late October anyway . . . Hmmmmm . . . I suppose St. Brigid might wait another few months . . . and so might the Lace and Cable Sweater that's really called something else (misprint in the magazine). I'll ponder this . . . ;-)

And now - thought you might like to see some of the sheep - Well, I think Michelle from Boulderneigh might like to see some of the sheep anyway :-D There were a lot of Shetland sheep there - but this sheep was really the most impressive - the biggest anyway. This is a very, very large Romney named Buford. He was huge, and not too happy in the heat, I'm afraid. And following are two Shetlands (and a Karakul!), just for you, Michelle :-D







I'll leave you with Julie Andrews' amazing voice - something to make you smile :-)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michigan and Other Things . . .

I'm really really tired, so this is going to be rather short and I'll fill in the blanks tomorrow.

My Basic Black cardigan is done. Clearly, it's not black :-D I really liked this pattern, and it knit up very quickly. It also fits. Perfectly. I mean it. I wasn't sure if I would like the Noro not matching up anywhere, but I like it very much and have been assured by my SnB crew that the stripes do not make me look fat. (God, I hope they are right ;-D). I made the body a little longer (I have a long body), and also the sleeves (I have really long arms) - and I picked up ALL the stitches around for the button band instead of going half and half. If you make this, do the button holes exactly as they say. If you cast on stitches instead of doing the two yarnovers, the buttonholes will be way too tight. You can ask me how I know, but you probably already guessed. ;-)

These are my cousin, ME's, happy birthday socks :-) She wanted jewel tones. I think these fit the bill. They are plain stockinette (so that the colorway is the focus). Blackberry Ridge, Mer-Made Fingering Weight. This yarn is quite hefty for fingering weight and I was tempted to move up a needle size, but I did some reading about the yarn and decided to stick with my normal 1 1/2's. Glad I did!!

Here's what I came home with from the Michigan Fiber Festival! A Melissa Leapman book (I was really sleepy last night - it's a Norah Gaughan book) (on sale! Whee!!), a really cute embroidered T-shirt ("So much fleece, So little time"). The green cone is a mill end of wool that I want to play with to make some more of what Judith McKenzie McCuin calls "Wolf Yarn." There's a cute little basket for my new wheel, some pin drafted roving from Fiber Optics Yarn - a new dyer that Toni (The Fold) is carrying. Another bump of Gale's Art in the same Deep Blue Sea colorway that I already have - I think I have enough for a hat/scarf/mittens set now. Some more amazing Bombyx silk (Chasing Rainbows - which I got in Boulder). The colorway is called Embers. It's stunning, and that big blob on the right is one skein of my custom dyed yarn from Briar Rose. Love it, love it, love it!!

And here are my new fleeces, all clean, and processed and pin drafted, just waiting for me to spin them up. They are Corriedale/CVM. There are two fleeces in each bag - I think it's going to be a spinning winter . . .

Yes, I've been spinning on the Big Wheel and it's amazing and wonderful and there is a learning curve. But my hands are getting faster, so it's all good. It's such a different feel than my regular Lendrum, but I'm getting it by playing with some roving from JWrayco, colorway "Harbor." It's seriously over-twisted, but that might not be a bad thing - I'll post photos once it's plyed and finished

And now, to bed! Sleep tight - more about the fair later, and sorry there are no links in this post.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Heartland . . .

So. While pretty much everyone else in the world was at Sock Summit this weekend, I was at the Heartland Spa! Yes, indeed - going to a spa has been on my list of "things I've always wanted to do" for quite some time

I haven't had a vacation this summer (I've been saving most of my leave for a trip overseas this fall), and since I finally sold my late mom's little condo at the end of June, I decided to spend a little bit of the money on myself. So off I went.

Heartland - no kidding - is in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cornfields and soybean fields. I mean, look again at that photo - the corn is taller than I am. WAY taller :-D


And how hilarious is this sign? Like someone was going to smuggle in pop and candy :-D

My camera is definitely under exposing my photos - I'm going to have to take it in and find out what's what, but you still get the picture (so to speak ;-)).



Here are the grounds - that pond is spring fed, and there are meditation gardens all around it - and Heartland is thoughtful enough to leave some bug juice by the front door so you can walk and not get eaten alive. I was quite grateful for this because the one thing I forgot was some Cutter.

It's an old, rambling farm house (the property was originally a dairy farm) that used to be the summer home of a doctor (I want to say the chief of surgery) at Cook County Hospital.

I had a really good time. It was really everything I thought and hoped it would be. The food was really good (although I could have used more protein) and I signed up for a bunch of services - for which I was kidded by everyone. I got "stoned" with a hot stone massage, and completely exfoliated (I'm not kidding), and "mudded" (yes, with real mud - well, de-tox mud ;-)), and had an exceptional manicure and a facial, and a regular massage! Oh - and a fitness assessment, which was very enlightening.

It was an absolutely great weekend!

I met some very interesting people there - we all crammed a lot into our weekend. I wished I could have stayed for a whole week! This is the Wood Room. It's pretty much the same as when the doctor lived there. I spent some quality time in that corner where the lamp is lit - working on my St. Brigid sweater.

Here's a trick shot. No, that fish is not flying through the leaves - the leaves are reflected in the water of the pond - that catfish (it was a catfish - ick!) is in the water, right where he belongs :-)

It's hard to believe that I have to go to work tomorrow - I could definitely spend another day or two, just enjoying my spa glow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Preview!


That's it!! That is MY Lendrum Saxony!! This is a photo of it (and Shirley, the proprietor) at Lambspun in Fort Collins, CO. Is it not the most beauteous wheel you have ever seen?

And isn't it clear that if you're ever in Fort Collins that you have to go to this store? Look at all that great stuff!!!

Shirley says The Wheel spins like a dream. How could it not? It is the double drive, which is fine because if I'm not mistaken, all the double drives have optional scotch tension. I am just hopping from foot to foot to get it! I think it was being wrapped tonight, and will ship tomorrow.

Wheeeee!!!!!

:-D

The photo is courtesy of Pearl at Morgan Trinkets. Thank you, Pearl :-)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coming Attractions . . .

It has occurred to me that I might have lost my marbles.

On Friday, I bought a Lendrum Saxony spinning wheel. If you're not a spinner, this probably isn't going to thrill you or make a whole lotta sense - but if you are a spinner, you can pick yourself up off the floor now, please ;-D

I don't need another wheel. My portable Lendrum (which I adore) does pretty much everything except the dishes. But for some reason, I have been longing for a traditional style wheel (they call them saxony wheels). I really wanted a Lendrum because I so love how they spin, and their ease of use. However, a Lendrum Saxony is one of the hot wheels right now, and Gord Lendrum - the guy who makes them - is a one-man band. The waiting list to get one is years long, unless you happen to find a dealer who has some in stock or who just got an order (that wasn't already spoken for).

Since I hadn't been able to find one, I was starting to think about a Schacht-Reeves, which I had a chance to try out at Toni's (The Fold) booth at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair. The flyer was on the wrong side for me, and I was not seated well in front of the wheel - thankfully Darthknitter was close by and helped me steady it! Even with the flyer on the wrong side, I could tell that spinning on a saxony would be an amazing experience. The Schacht-Reeves wheels are much easier to find, and they are usually finished (most Lendrum Saxony wheels come unfinished - that means you have to finish it yourself - which can be about a month-long process with hand-rubbing, etc.).

And then I was on Ravelry, in the Lendrum group (The Cult of Lendrum for those of you so inclined), and someone posted there that Lambspun in Fort Collins, Colorado had two Lendrum Saxony wheels. Then, later, that there was only one (these wheels usually go immediately). I didn't actually notice the thread for awhile, but on Thursday night, I did, and saw that it said that there was one still. Well, you never know about stuff like that because people post that there is Wollmeise on The Loopy Ewe site, and you go and realize that the thread was old and it's all gone.

Anyway, it was so tempting, but it was too late to call on Thursday night. So I rang them on Friday - minutes before the store opened - and got the machine. I didn't get to call back until around lunch time, but I figured that if that wheel was meant for me, that it would still be there.

Score!!

It's a double treadle (I had wanted single (an option on the Schacht-Reeves) because I don't like being forced into one position while spinning (which is what a double treadle sort of does to me), but was very willing to go with the versatility that a double will give me, because you can always use a double as a single treadle). It's cherry wood, and how great is this?! It's FINISHED (oh joy! oh rapture!). I was so excited that I didn't even ask if the head was a double drive or a single, but it doesn't really matter to me either way :-)

Shirley had customers in the store and asked could she ring me back - I said yes if she promised not to sell it in the meantime ;-) She rang me back within 10 minutes with a price for the wheel, its accessories and shipping to Chicagoland - and I whipped out the plastic. It will be on its way to me on Monday. I had it shipped to my office (I need to alert the mailroom) and will drive in on the day it arrives to be able to get it home. Didn't make sense to have it delivered and sitting on the porch all afternoon . . .

I'm so excited =====:-O <--- that's me, with my hair standing on end (more than usual :-D)

Stay tuned, there will be photos :-)