Friday, May 29, 2009

Farmer's Markets Are Fun

I'm excited!  Two friends, Angel and Andrea, and I are going to be vendors at a local Farmer's Market in Canton from June until the end of October.  Angel had a herd of alpacas until recently, and has lots and lots of alpaca fiber in many forms,  and Andrea has alpacas and Cotswald sheep, so we will have a nice mix of products to sell.  Andrea and I are going to scope out the situation on Tuesday.  I think it will be a blast, and maybe I can sell some yarn and fiber too.  

I'm busily making batts for the Phat Fiber Box for June.  It seems like I just sent in May's samples, but I guess that it has been a  month.  How time flies when you're having fun.  Last month I sent in 4 ounces of "Marilla's Garden" as a giveaway.  Reading the comments on my yarn and fiber has been a very uplifting experience.  I realize that people are writing the comments in order to try to win something, but it's not necessary to say such kind things in order to win.

Conor made brownies again tonight.  Yuummm!  He used to make chocolate chip cookies when he was in the mood for something sweet, has discovered it's even easier to make brownies.  He is using the One Bowl Brownie recipe on the Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate box.  I am not a fan of really sweet things, so I asked Conor to use less sugar, and I think I could eat half of the pan at least.  They are scrumptious.  But I am exercising self-restraint, although it is not easy.

Last night I was on-line and I got a google message from Tim who is in Paris until Sunday.  My mind has a hard time wrapping itself around the idea that I was sitting in my living room in Massena at 8:00 at night talking to my son who was sitting in bed in a hotel room in Paris, France and it was 2:00 a.m.  The internet is a wonderful thing.  I can't wait until I can see him and hear all about it, as well as see the pictures he has taken.

Here is a picture of one of the yarns I dyed last weekend.  It looks like a sunset and is called "Tangerine Sky".  It is a very summery looking colorway and I'm really pleased with the way it came out.
 Here's some more "Rainbow Connection" yarn on the drying rack.  I think this is an awesome rainbow colored yarn.  It seems that a rainbow yarn would be an easy colorway to create, but getting just the right combination of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet is not as easy as it seems.  I am quite pleased with what I have achieved here.

This is a batt I made from some of Angel's alpaca fiber and green wool that I dyed, along with a bit of Angelina for sparkle.  The picture does not do the fiber justice.  It reminds me of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  I think that making batts is the most fun thing. It is a way to be creative because there are an infinite variety of options when making the batts in terms of the materials used.

I have added these three products, along with several other yarns and fiber, to my etsy shop over the last few days.  Fun, fun, fun.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

I hate to be talking about the weather again, but when is it going to warm up, stop raining, and stop being so windy?  It is a very good thing that I live in a house filled with fiber and wool. 

Today was Wednesday, so there must have been spinning.  We had quite a large group today-lots of good conversation, fiber talk, and great shortbread!  There were three choices-whiskey, oatmeal and chocolate.  Guess which kind most people chose as their first piece?  Yup, that would be the whiskey.  They were yummy.  I took some milk fiber that I dyed for show and tell.  I am so happy with the way the fiber turned out.  The softness of the colors remind me of a Monet painting.  They look pretty similar in the pictures, but the second fiber is more vibrant in color and has more green and yellow.

This is my "Marilla's Garden" colorway on milk fiber.

This is the same colorway on Superwash Merino.  The differences in the way the fibers take the dye is one of many things I love about hand dyeing.  It's always an adventure, and as much as I think I know how something is going to turn out, I am often, usually pleasantly, surprised.  And if I'm not happy with what has emerged from the dye pot (or microwave) I can always dye it again to try to improve the colorway.

This colorway is called "Under the Sea".  I think it may be one of the colors I include in my samples for Phat Fiber this month.  The theme this  month is Oceanic.

I took pictures at spinning last week  of our littlest visitor  and then forgot to share the photos.

Isn't he cute?  He had a foot infection when he was born, which is why he is wearing blue bandages on his feet.  His mother rejected him, and that is why he is being bottle fed.  He was a visitor at Andrea's house for a few days.  Andrea has a little dachsund named Patsy.   Patsy and the lamb had a wonderful time playing in the yard together.  Andrea said that she thinks Patsy missed the lamb when he went home. 

I seem to be losing my ability to type, so it's time for bed.  Work tomorrow, and then I'm hoping that I am going to my nephew Ethan's graduation from St. Johnsbury Acadamy.  Speaking of that possible trip, I'd really better go and do some laundry, since I will be leaving Friday afternoon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Time For Dyeing

I keep forgetting this is Memorial Day weekend.  Conor has strep throat, and somehow his being so sick has made me forget that this is a holiday weekend.  Antibiotics are a wonderful thing, and he is feeling better this evening. This means that he will be in rare form tomorrow night and will be mightily lobbying to be able to stay out really, really late to make up for not having been able to go out last night and tonight.  If you look up the word persistent in the dictionary you will see Conor's picture.  It amazes me that he still hasn't figured out that I am not going to suddenly change my mind and say "Sure,  honey.  Stay out as late as you want. " 

On the dyeing front, I spent yesterday and today dyeing several pounds of fiber and yarn.  I dyed my first milk fiber and it is very soft, not just in feel, but in the way the fiber takes the dye. This is my "Marilla's Flower Garden" colorway and it looks totally different from the way it looks on any other fiber or yarn I have dyed in this colorway.  That's what is so much fun about dyeing!  It's a constant surprise how things are going to turn out.

 I dyed a lot more "Rainbow Connection" sock yarn also, which was the sample that I sent in for May's Shower and Flower themed Phat Fiber box.   I am also working on my Phat Fiber Sampler box samples for June. The theme is Oceanic, which is a theme that encompasses a large number of possibilities.  I'm just not sure what direction to take.  I have been  thinking of only sending in fiber samples, because fiber seems to be the thing that people are most excited about when they receive the boxes, but I have received more positive responses to my yarn samples for May than for my fiber samples.  I'm so confused-a not unusual state for me.  Here's some more of what I dyed yesterday.  Tomorrow morning I'm looking forward to rinsing what I dyed today and seeing what emerges.

Tomorrow we had better spend a little time on outside chores.  There is a lot of weeding to do. Plants are growing like crazy.  It hasn't been that warm yet, but we have had a lot of rain.  I have some wildflowers which have come back this year-very exciting.

We need to get the pool open, but that requires pumping out the pool cover, which requires removing all the leaves from the fall.  I think Conor has done a pretty good job of removing them, so we'll be borrowing my brother's pump and getting the water out.  The cover is also a massive mosquito breeding place, another reason to get it off the pool.  The weather has been so chilly that there hasn't been much motivation to get the pool open, but I want it to be ready on the off chance that we actually get warm weather.  I live in the land of optimism.

Thinking about all that needs to be done tomorrow is making me think I'd better get myself to sleep, so I have lots of energy to accomplish my tasks.  I think I may have promised the boy a trip to the mall too.  Silly me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Miscellaneous May Musings

How can it be Thursday already?  I know this is a recurring theme for me, but the weeks just fly past.  We had a fun knitting group at the Massena library last night.  We had more people than we've had before and it was fun.  Comfortable chairs make it even more of pleasure to knit.  

We are planning a KAL of the Susie Hoodie from More Big Girl Knits.  We're doing it using Peace Fleece worsted weight yarn.  I love Peace Fleece yarn.  It's soft and fuzzy because it has 30% mohair in it, and the way they combine colors is phenomenal. The Ancient Fern colorway contains green and brown, and really reminds me of a glade of ferns.  I am knitting my sweater using the Glastnot Gold colorway, which is more rust colored than the color appears on the web site.  I can't wait to get started.  I think our goal should be to have them done to wear at Rhinebeck this year.  it seems to me that we should be able to accomplish that goal.  

I am writing this as dark is approaching, with my window open and a gentle breeze coming in.  This is a lovely thing, since it is almost the end of May and it's the first evening I have been able to have the window open.  I imagine I will still wear flannel pj's to bed, but it will be a most wonderful feeling to have some fresh air wafting in the window.  The cats are enjoying the open windows also.   

Here's Gerard, doing one of  his favorite things, sitting in a box.  This is a particularly nice box he has chosen to perch in-It's an antique nutmeg box I found in the basement.  I brought it upstairs, and although Gerard barely fits inside,  he has spent quite some time in there.
Speaking of boxes, my Phat Fiber Sampler box came today.  I think this was my favorite box so far.  It contained many beautiful fiber samples, a knitting needle roll, and some pretty colorways of hand dyed yarn, along with various stitch markers and some dog biscuits, which I am sure my neighbor's dog will appreciate.  I am looking forward to spinning some of the sample.  Next month's theme is Oceanic, and I am having fun thinking of colorways to dye.  I had better get started, especially given the way the weeks speed by.  I am thinking of only contributing fiber this month.  The fiber seems to get much more of a response than the yarn does.  It doesn't mean I will stop dyeing yarn, but will not send yarn samples next month.

Here's one of my latest rovings, which sold as soon as I listed it.  It was a serendipitous pairing of dyes, that came out looking totally different from what I had envisioned, but I absolutely love this color combination.  And I was using up dyes at the end of the day, so the trick will be to see if I can come close to repeating it.  

Here are two more new colorways.  The blue one is called "Blue Mountain River."I am in a fiber swap on Ravelry, and this colorway was created with my swap partner in mind.  She is in Singapore, so some of this roving is on it's way there right now.  I felt so grown up sending my roving overseas-had to fill out special forms and everything.  Very exciting!

This roving was another end of the day dye experiments that I really like. It is called "Red, Red Wine".  I would not have put red with the burgundy and brown that are in this roving, but my dye bottle was mislabeled.  I thought I was using pink, but it was red instead, and I love the combination.  I should spend more time pretending it's the end of the day, and let go a little more with my color combinations.

Time to put those flannel pj's on and snuggle under the covers with a cat and a good book.  A great way to end a birthday.  I was especially pleased with the birthday wishes from the internets-both Etsy and Facebook wished me a Happy Birthday, and my avatar on Ravelry has a birthday cake on it.  Isn't technology wonderful?  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Travis' Graduation Day

I am way too tired to write a long post, but had to at least take a moment to share that Travis graduated today from Paul Smiths College.  A typical Adirondack day, we froze to death inside the tent, but it was worth it.  I am elated beyond words that he graduated.  Travis is a truly awesome human being and an unbelievably hard worker, and I am very proud to be his Mom.  That would be Travis, with the beard and dreadlocks, looking very, very pleased to be graduating.

The other most wonderful thing was that my whole family was together, if only for a short time.  I am very appreciative that Tim was able to come from New York, especially since he is leaving on Friday for a trip to England and France.  Here we all are-Caitlin, me, Travis, Tim and Conor. What a happy group!  

And here we are, a little more windblown, with the addition of Travis' girlfriend Alyssa.  Nice view for a college campus, isn't it?  (Not us, but the lake and mountains in the background.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's Electric!

How can it be Thursday already?  This week has sped by.  I thought I was going to post every day, but the best laid plans often do not come to fruition.  I have to tell you how excited I am that I have my old stove hooked up in the basement, thanks to Andrea's husband John.  This means that I can really expand the ways I dye.  It will no longer be limited to hand painting, and I am excited about the world of possibilities this is bringing my way.  It's a good thing too, because I keep buying fiber, so having more ways to dye that fiber will be very advantageous.

John also removed some light bulbs that had been stuck in light fixtures on the ceiling and replaced one of the fixtures.  It is hard to believe how happy it made me to know that I will have more light down there when I am dyeing.  It is a good thing that simple things bring me much joy.

Spring has finally arrived, I think, but I still find it hard to contemplate opening our pool.  Usually by now we will have had a few warm days to make one think that swimming might be a good idea, but that hasn't happened yet this year.  Here's what the pool will look like in a few short weeks.

Today has been rainy and extremely windy, but not as windy as it's been in other parts of the country recently.  Jessie, who is the creator of Phat Fiber Sample boxes was without electricity for several days this week, but they are still going to go ahead with the box sale this weekend.  Exciting!!!

Spring also makes me think about going to our camp on Cranberry Lake.  We usually all go on Memorial Day weekend to clean and rake and take care of all that has occurred over the winter.  This year though, I fear it may just be Conor and me, although I am hoping some family members will change their minds about coming.  Several years ago my sister started a garden of found objects outside the back door.  It's kind of cool, and a lot of the objects in the garden make me smile because they remind me of occasions or people that have played a part in the life of Camp Fi-Be-Gar.   The tricycle at the top of the picture was my brother James'.  I won't say how many years ago he would have ridden that little trike.

I finished two pairs of socks a week or so ago, and forgot to share the finished product.  These socks are made from Knitpicks Superwash Swish yarn in the Squirrel Heather colorway They are a replacement for a pair of socks I knit my brother Tim for Christmas, which were inadvertently felted.  I thought it was best to go with superwash this time. Shhh! Don't tell him.  They are going to be a Father's Day gift for him.

These sock are knit from one of my Moonlight and Laughter sock yarns and the colorway is called Island in the Sun. They are knit for a friend from New Jersey and were to be an Easter present for her.  I'd better hurry up and get them to her before the hot, humid summer arrives.

Almost time for the Real Housewives of New York City reunion show.  I missed it on Tuesday. I'm sure it will be fascinating.  Then Grey's Anatomy season finale is on. I have a feeling that they are killing off Izzy's character and that I will need a box of tissues next to me as I watch the show.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lambs, Dyeing and Milk Fiber

Posts  two days in a row-the stars must be in alignment, or maybe it's because I am once again able to write a post while sitting in bed.

I went to visit my friend Andrea on Friday, who very kindly gave me some perennials for my garden, and also gave me the opportunity to visit with two newborn lambs-two little boys-one black and one white. At this point, their names are Salt and Pepper.

The Mom was not very happy with Andrea's dog which had come into the stall.  The sheep kept stamping her foot at the dog, to warn her to stay away from her babies. 

I spent some time last week dyeing, partially to get ready for the Phat Fiber May Box, whose theme is Showers and Flowers.  I dyed superwash merino fiber for the flowers part of the theme, using one of my favorite garden color combinations of purple and orange, with a little bit of green for the foliage and some brown for the earth in the garden.  I cleverly named the colorway Marilla's Garden.  Sometimes the hardest part of creating a colorway is the naming.

Here's the roving drying in the back yard.  It was a great day for drying fiber-sunny and windy. The only problem was that the wind kept blowing over the drying racks, but I eventually made a barricade with patio furniture so that the rack stayed upright.

I also sent samples of a sock yarn in the colorway Rainbow Connection.  When I first began dyeing Conor requested that I dye rainbow yarn and make him a pair of socks from the yarn. I have dyed several rainbow variations, but I am happiest with the sample for this month's box. I thought I had a picture to show you, but when my computer crashed I lost a lot of photos, and pictures of the rainbow yarn must have been in the group that was lost.  I have them on a memory card, but I have spent the whole day searching and can't find that card.  I am sure I put it in a very safe place, I just have to figure out what that place is.

The other exciting fiber event for me was the arrival of milk fiber, which I listed in my etsy shop today.  It is a fiber which has been around for a long time, made from casein, which is a milk product.  Milk fiber has the same PH as human skin, is anti-bacterial and has wicking properties similar to wool, so it is great fiber for making socks.  It is really, really soft, and a beautiful creamy color.  I can't wait to start dyeing it, and to use it in the creation of some of my batts.  Do you like my artistic photo of the milk fiber?

Tomorrow Andrea's husband John is coming to put an outlet in my basement so I can use my old stove for dyeing.  The stove has been sitting idly in the basement since I bought a new stove last summer.  I will be able to do some kettle dyeing now, which up to this point,I haven't been able to do, and I am looking forward to it.  It is a technique that is quite a bit less time consuming than hand painting the fiber and yarn, and it also will allow me to create a different type of look for the fiber.  Fun, fun, fun!

I had better go to sleep, and tonight I have to be sure to set my alarm.  I overslept this morning,  I would swear I set the alarm.  Sometimes I think Seamus and Gerard go for walks on my bedside table at night and turn off the alarm.  They deny it though.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm Back (Once Again)

Conor finally fixed my computer (It was a Mother's Day gift), so I will be posting more regularly again.  It's been a long weekend.  We made a trip to Saranac Lake for the weekend.  I took a class to make a sterling silver hammered bracelet and it was a big disappointment.  It's not a good thing when one's teacher looks and acts exhausted because she stayed out until 5:00 a.m. dancing.

I need to go to sleep now, but promise a better post tomorrow.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Emergency Knitting to the Rescue

When I got up this morning, I had a plan as to what I would be doing today. Silly me-making a plan for the day. It was a productive day, just not in the way that I had expected. It was supposed to be a dyeing day, but due to circumstances beyond my control, that did not happen. So I decided to do some drum carding, as I had a request for more of a batt that I made a while ago that I was hoping I would be able to recreate. I was happily working on that when the boy came home from school in a bad mood. (The bad mood may have something to do with the SAT's he is taking tomorrow.)

Conor asked to borrow the car to turn in a job application. How could I say no to that? He called a little while later to say that he couldn't get the key to turn in the ignition. I told him the wheel was probably locked, and what to do to unlock it, but it didn't work. So I called my brother and he drove me to try to get the key to turn. My brother was sure he knew how to fix it, but it didn't work. I was sure I would be able to fix it, but that didn't work either. We read the owner's manual (amazingly, it is still in the car after 9 years) and found out that we had been doing what they said to do to rectify the situation.

I called AAA. The lovely woman first asked if I was safe and warm. I thought that was a very nice thing, but wondered what she would have done if I had said no. I told her the problem, and she advised me to try all the things that had already been done, and they still didn't work. She said she would send a tow truck and it would be there in 45 minutes. This is where the emergency knitting that was in my purse came into play. I would have gone crazy sitting there for 45 minutes with nothing to do. How do people who don't knit deal with this kind of waiting?

My knitting was interrupted once by a different woman who called and asked me to try all the things that the first woman had me try. They still didn't work. Finally the tow truck driver called. He didn't ask me to repeat the same non-working things, but wanted to know which McDonald's I was at. When he arrived he said the tumblers in the ignition were stuck and that is why the key wouldn't turn. He wrenched the steering wheel back and forth so hard I thought it would come off in his hands, and after several attempts he got it to work. I am now supposed to squirt WD40 oil into the ignition. Would someone like to come and do that for me? I am afraid that I will somehow mess that up. Cars are not my thing. I might consider getting married again just to have someone take care of the car issues that arise.

I was very thankful that the tow truck driver was able to get the car started, because I was not looking forward to a weekend without a car, especially because a trip to the grocery store is a necessity in the morning. As is a trip to McDonald's for breakfast before the SAT's because we all know what great brain food those McDonald hash browns and Sausage McMuffins are. Wish the boy luck.

I will try for a little more fiber content in my next post. And perhaps a picture also. I came upstairs all ready to upload some photos, but my camera batteries were dead. I am sure tomorrow will be a better day.