Friday, January 29, 2010

The Girasole is Finally Finished!

I am going to try again to write a post. My attempt on Sunday failed miserably because Seamus came to sit on my lap after I had typed two sentences, and walked on the keyboard striking a combination of keys that turned Windows from portrait to landscape. My usual computer fixing trick of turning the computer off and back on did not solve this problem, which necessitated a walk to the 3rd floor to wake a sleeping Conor and ask him to fix it-he loves it when I wake him up to fix my computer. He's never actually told me that, but I know it must be true. On the way back downstairs I walked by the laundry room and remembered that I needed to wash sheets. While I was in there, I decided to do a little straightening and folding of clothes, which led to cleaning the room. While cleaning, I unearthed a huge pile of lines that needed ironing, so I ironed for about two hours because, really, what is the point of having a collection of beautiful old linens if you can never use them because they are not ironed. I had forgotten how much I enjoy ironing linens. There is something so satisfying about turning that wrinkled lump of cloth into something beautifully smooth , and the smell of starch and warm linen evokes happy childhood memories. It was then time to move on to cooking dinner, and by then the urge to write a blog post had long ago disappeared.

So here we go for a second try. The sun is shining today. Hooray!!! But it was -8 degrees when I took Conor to school and there is a wicked wind blowing. Boo!!! But the sun is shining. Yay!!! I am so happy to see the sun, can you tell? I will ignore the fact that the heat, which is only set on 62 is coming on every five minutes, because I am so thrilled to see the sun.

I finally finished my afghan that I was slogging along on. I am quite pleased with it, and am not sure why I grew so tired of it. It is very warm-maybe I grew tired of it in the summer because I forgot how wonderful it would be to have such a warm thing to snuggle under during the long, cold winter nights. It is a Girasole-a pattern by Jared Flood and it was a relatively easy knit. I made it using Cascade Eco Wool, which is not at all the type of yarn called for in the pattern, but I have a hard time following directions when it comes to knitting, and I am glad that I used this yarn. It is a great value, and although it is considered to be a bulky yarn, I feel that it really is more of a heavy worsted weight. It is soft too, which surprised me when I first started knitting with it. It took a little less than two full skeins to do the body and I used leftovers in neutral tones to do the edging. So here it is. Ta Da!!! The first photo is Seamus enjoying it while I was putting on the edging. It was hard to photograph because it is so large, but I think the photos give an idea of what it looks like.

I'd better get back to the basement. I have fiber soaking to dye for the February Spindies Artist's Paintbox. The color is red, and I am dyeing some Cormo wool, and two types of fiber from local fleeces. One of the fibers is Romney wool from the very first fleece I ever bought, and the other is fiber from a member of my spinning group who is a shepherd and it is mainly Ile de France, a breed I never see mentioned, which is a cross between English Leicester and Rambouillet. Sandy mostly raised her sheep for meat, but the Ile de France is good for both meat and medium fiber, so I am really pleased with this fiber.

Alright now, I really need to go dye. I know I am putting it off because it is so cold in my dye studio because it is in the basement, and it's a bit nippy down there when the temperature is this low. It wouldn't be quite so bad if there wasn't so much water involved in the whole process, and since we don't want felted fiber, it has to be cold water. I will persevere though, and create some beautiful red fiber just in time for Valentine's Day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I wanted to report on the slogging that has been occurring with my Girasole. I have finished the body of the throw, and am now doing the edging, which is taking forever. I ran out of yarn for the edge, which is knitted on, so not only am I slogging, but I am also stash busting and using up a lot of bits and bobs of yarn leftovers. I am quite pleased with the results. Maybe some day I will even take a photo to show how gorgeous it is. I was thinking of knitting some more on it tonight, but am realizing that I really just need to go to sleep. I know this might be laughable to many, but I am worn out from working three days this week. I don't know how you all do it who have full time jobs, and also try to run an Internet business. I think if this hectic work pace continues, I am actually going to have to make myself a schedule in order to get anything accomplished with Moonlight and Laughter. Darn life and the need for money interfering with what I love to do.

Anyone interested in some cat photos? I'm afraid it's all I have in terms of recent photos. I still haven't managed to photograph my latest yarn colorways. I heard a rumor that the sun might shine this weekend, and it is supposed to be above freezing as well. Be still my heart-maybe the yarn and I can have a little photo session on the front porch-something to look forward to.

Seamus, not wanting to be photographed. Don't you love the ear fur. It's quite luxuriant.

Gerard took his cue from his brother and also turned his head. I think he's admiring the roving that is on the chair behind him.

Must go to bed so I can get up and go to work again. But then it will be Saturday and sunshiny and warm. All good things to look forward to. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please Help the Victims of the Haitian Earthquake

If you have the opportunity, and feel that the desire to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, one way to help is to make a donation to Doctors Without Borders. The reason I like to donate to them is that the majority of their funding goes to directly help people, not to administrative costs. Through the Yarn Harlot's blog, over $600,000 has been donated to this wonderful organization by knitters over the last few years, and Stephanie has made an appeal to knitters once again to help in any way they can, if only by donating a few dollars. You can read her post for today to see what she has to say about how to help, and what is the most useful type of donation to make. It warms my heart to see how people working together for a common cause can make a difference, one dollar at a time. And it is heartbreaking to think of the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been changed forever because of this force of nature.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New Year-Better Late Than Not At All

Hello, remember me? Sorry for having gone missing once again. Life seems to be getting in the way of my blog writing, which is ironic because the blog is supposed to be somewhat of a record of what is going on in my life. I have missed writing and sharing the exciting adventures that have occurred recently. Or if not the exciting adventures, at least the day to day ennui that is my life right now. I love the word ennui, and seldom get a chance to use it in a sentence.

I've only done a little bit of dyeing recently, partly because the basement where my dyeing studio is located has a temperature not much warmer than the outside temperature, which right now is 7 degrees. It wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't all that cold water involved in the dyeing process. I did get my Spindies sample done for the January Paintbox. The color is Silver, and I am looking forward to seeing the results from the Spindies artists. It's hard to believe that we have been collaborating on Paintboxes for five months. I appreciate being a part of such a talented group of women. This is my sample from last month's box, which was the color champagne. I believe all the Champagne boxes are gone, but some of the individual stores still have larger sized batts of their samples.

I am adding a new sock yarn base to my shop. It is Bluefaced Leicester and Nylon. Bluefaced Leicester is my favorite spinning fiber, so I was pleased to find a BFL sock yarn. I dyed some recently in two colorways, but have not yet had the time, or the light needed, to take good photos. When I woke up this morning and saw sunshine I thought I might still be dreaming. It has been so long since I saw the sun, I wasn't sure what it was. Of course, there has to be a cosmic joke associated with this sun sighting. The joke is that despite the sunshine, the temperature is still only 7 degrees.

I was standing out on my front porch in my slippers with no coat on this morning taking photos of my silver Paintbox samples, when the mailman arrived. I wonder what he thought when he saw me with a camera, a white tablecloth on the porch floor, photographing a pile of what I am sure looked like grey fluff to him. It is actually very similar to the color of Gerard's fur, although I promise that there is none of his fur in these batts.

On the knitting front, I am making Conor a sweater from Son of Stitch and Bitch. It is a hoody with a Noro stripe through the body and the sleeves, and I am making it out of the yarn called for in the pattern, something that rarely happens. I was able to get Lambs Pride for $3.00 a skein from The Sheep Shed Studio, and the yarn color is avocado, a color that makes me happy. I think that I am going to use some of my hand dyed worsted weight yarn instead of the Noro for the stripe. I am not a big fan of Noro yarn, although I will admit that the long color repeats are quite nice.

I am making Travis a pair of Striped Mittens from Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. I think I have made almost 20 pairs of these mittens and I love them...both the making of them and how warm they are when worn. My sister Jane remembers that when we were young, many of the children we played with wore similarly patterned mittens. The pattern is a one stitch alternation of two colors, one carried ahead of the other, and the carrying of the yarn pulls the mitten fabric up into ridges. This gives the illusion that one color has been knit above the other. My favorite yarn to make these from is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. It's also fun to do the main color in a solid color and the contrasting color in a hand dyed multicolor yarn. In these mittens, the main color is ecru color Lamb's Pride and the multicolored yarn is the contrasting color. It's possible to see how the ecru stands out above the multicolored yarn. I have fun watching the striping patterns emerge, which goes to show that I am very easily entertained.

This was the year of the hat for Christmas gifts. I didn't take a lot of photos of the completed hats, but here is Travis' Dred Hat being modeled by Conor, who doesn't have nearly enough hair to fill it up. I think perhaps he has inadvertently watched a little too much America's Next Top Model, or perhaps this is the face of teenage angst.

I made my niece Emma a hat that is a quick and fun knit, with the hat including Basketweave stitch, 3 x 3 ribbing, and Seed Stitch. It is fun to make because it doesn't get boring. The pattern is called Patchwork Hat, and I have also made several of these hats over the past year. It helps to have a daughter who loves hats, and also loses them on a fairly regular basis.

On the traveling son front, Tim is back in Sydney, after having spent a few weeks in Tasmania. He is currently looking for work as he is feeling the need to recoup some of his money spent so far. I am loving reading his blog, which started out as a travel log, but has turned into something much more interesting to me. I am very proud of the man he has become.

It's time to go do some knitting. I am still slogging along on my Girasole, and tonight seems the perfect night to have a nice warm blanket on my lap as I am knitting. The reason I am slogging has nothing to do with the pattern, and more to do with my choice of yarn, which is not at all what was called for in the pattern. This blanket has helped me learn that occasionally, I should pay attention to the specifics of a pattern, but that is fodder for another post.