Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What a Week!

This has been a roller-coaster week! First, my birthday is the day after Christmas. We went to No Worries for breakfast--DH, DS2, DS2's girlfriend, DD, Joanie and I. Here's what I got from DH for Christmas:

It's the Knitter's Handy Carry-all kit, the scale and the Options needle stand from KP, and two more hanks of alpaca yarn. I think I'll try the Ivo socks from the Inca Knits book, as I now have three colors from the same weight alpaca.

I've been getting some knitting done, even with family in the house. First, I have finished the knitting for the Montana Tote, which will be DD's diaper bag. Here's what it looked like before it went into the washing machine:

DD laughed about the fact that it was big enough for her to sit in, baby and all! Not so when it came out of the washer, though:

We used two of DSIL2B's Christmas presents to block it to shape. They were the perfect size. (He comes tomorrow afternoon, so he hasn't opened anything yet.) Here's what it looks like now:

All that's left to do is make the lining. I'm not done knitting for baby, though. I started the Mason-Dixon "Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono." Here's my progress:

Actually, I have already attached the yarn to the other side and have begun working the other side, which is a mirror image. I also plan on doing the crochet edging on my BSJ, so I can get it posted in the BSJ KAL.

We have had some family difficulties, though. DD heard from her doctor that a blood test came back with a result that doubles her chance of her child having Down Syndrome. It's only 1 in 206, but it still was a shock. She has pulled herself together and is again hopeful for the best. Then, night before last, we received a call from DS1. He told us his wife (who made me the wonderful quilted knitting bag) was in the hospital with chest pains. The next day, they put a stint in, and she's doing well.

What's on my needles: The "Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono."
What's on my drop spindle: Still the Ashford "Mulberry."
What's on my wheel: Still the Greenwood Fiber Works in "Enchanted," but I will be ready to ply soon.
What's on my iPod: I haven't listened in ages!

Happy New Year, everyone! --P

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To all the knitters and spinners at the Knitting Community: Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a great extended weekend with friends, family, knitting and spinning!

Our DS2 is visiting. Saturday morning he and DH went snowshoeing with our pups, Rocky and Sunny.

Here's what it looked like at our party Saturday night. The cute guy in the tuxedo is my DH! We had a nice time, with good food and fun dancing. DS2 taught me to do the "Sprinkler." (I had to be careful not to hit myself in the head with my splint!)

Here's my progress on the Montana Tote:

DPT (darling physical therapist?) says I can knit without the splint for 45 minutes at a time. Yaaaay! I can also spin for a similar length of time. This is actually part of my PT program!

DD arrives Thursday. We're looking forward to a nice day Friday with DH's brother and our DSIL, who are coming for dinner. I'm doing my once-a-year turkey, with a little faux turkey and mushroom gravy for me. Saturday (my birthday!) DS2's girlfriend arrives. It will be nice to meet her. Then, on Sunday, our DGD comes. That will be all the trips to the airport for a few days.

What's on my needles? The Montana Tote (among other things, LOL!)
What's on my wheel? Greenwood Fiber Works' hand-painted merino in "Enchanted"
What's on my spindle? Ashford's merino and silk in "Mulberry."
What's on my iPod? Christmas music!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where There's a Will...

I'm knitting! Well, sort of. Some of you will remember that I had a cast put on my right hand to protect my thumb from injury while it recovers from its recent surgery. (Three weeks ago today, but who's counting?) I've been spinning up a storm since getting the cast on. Here's some finished yarn:

It's the chocolate alpaca I bought from Linda. More on that later.
Some of you may know that my DD is expecting her first baby. [Happy dance!] I won't post the photo again, but it's in my photos, if you want to go look. This will be our second grandchild. The first one will be 17 in January! We had almost given up hope, while our DD was getting her PhD and finally settling down. Well, now baby knitting has been nagging at me. I had the yarn to start Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket (aka BSJ) and had planned to CO after Christmas. While spinning and reading and otherwise trying to pass the time, I kept looking at this right hand, thinking, "I have four usable fingers. Surely I can manage." It was really awkward at first. Actually, it's still awkward, but I'm sort of adapting. Here's how I do it:

I'm using Shine Sport in Grass and Green Apple. I may add another color, but I haven't decided yet. I joined Ravelry's BSJ KAL (How's that for alphabet soup, LOL?), and several of us here are planning to work on it together as people are ready to start. I'm only doing two rows at a time, so I don't wear out my thumb. Even though it's in a cast, it thinks it should be helping and keeps trying. It's probably good for those muscles to be working a little anyway, but I don't want to overdo it.

Spinning is going very well, though. Using long draw doesn't require much from the fiber hand, which is my right. All I have to do is gently hold the fiber, which I can do easily with just the fingers. After I finished the chocolate alpaca, I got out my braid of merino wool from Greenwood Fiberworks in their Enchanted colorway. It's hand-painted, which makes for an interesting spinning experience.

It spins nicely. I would like the plied yarn to show the individual colors, but I didn't want to do Navajo plying (chain plying) this time, because that method gives you a three ply. I would like to have a thinner yarn, so two plies should be better. I have finished two bobbins of singles and am ready to ply.

I'm not doing much with my drop spindle since the surgery. I find it a little harder to manage than the wheel.

I didn't post last week because I like to have photos, and I didn't have anything new. I had an exciting week, though. Several weeks ago, Susan the Blue Lake Knitter , cherylbwaters and I were all interviewed by Kelley for the Knit Picks Podcast. We decided among ourselves that we should keep it to ourselves until it aired (posted?) Well, it finally appeared last Wednesday, Podcast #122. It was great fun doing the interview, and also lots of fun to hear each other's voices.

What's on my needles? The BSJ. DH's FI sleeveless cardi is resting. (I thought it might be more difficult knitting with both hands, and my gauge might be different with the cast.)

What's on my wheel?
The Greenwood Fiberworks 100% merino in Enchanted.

What am I reading? Right now, it's Anne McCaffrey's The Skies of Pern, the long-awaited continuation of her "Dragonriders of Pern" series.

Lorna Doone is on hold on my iPod, but I'll return to her when I start knitting again...more than a couple of rows at a time, that is.

For now, Happy Thanksgiving, happy knitting, spinning, reading, etc. --P

Friday, October 30, 2009

Knitting, Quilting, Spinning, Injuries and Snow!

The spinning group is up again after a summer hiatus. We met yesterday. Here's Rita, one of the participants. I met her at the Alpaca Days a few weeks back:

Recognize Rita's bag? She did the alternate variation in the same colorway as mine, and she did the strap as written. She also spins and weaves. We had our spinning meeting yesterday at Linda's Blue Moon Ranch. Most of us brought our wheels.

I got to meet Kathleen, who has suri alpacas. Kathleen had never used a wheel before, but she brought her drum carder and some suri alpaca fiber to try out. Here she is trying out the spinning wheel that belongs to Linda from Sundance Alpacas.
Helping her is Lynda. (If you haven't noticed before, we have more Lindas or Lyndas than you can shake a drop spindle at! We need to come up with some nicknames!) The Linda who owned the wheel wanted to sell it and get a different wheel. After trying everyone's wheels, Kathleen was quite happy to buy Linda's Louet.

My drop spindle came a couple of days ago. I took my spinning wheel and my new drop spindle to spinning group. Here's my drop spindle with some fiber I bought a couple of years ago when I only hoped that someday I would learn to spin:

The fiber is from Ashford, merino and silk in "Mulberry." I'm really enjoying my new spindle. It spins for a long time before I have to start it spinning again. I guess it's the brass ring around the whorl. It's also very pretty. It's Golding's Tsunami.

Rita also had her drop spindle. She brought some lovely hand-dyed wool. She was the only one without a wheel.

Our hostess Linda showed us her shop, with bags of roving, yarns and finished knitted items for sale. She also brought out a bag of roving she bought a long time ago and didn't know what to do with. She wanted to get rid of nearly two pounds of fiber because she didn't know what it was. Lynda latched onto it, took it for a spin on her wheel, and suggested it might be merino. Before I could have a look at it, Lynda had bought it from Linda for the same price per pound that we pay for merino from our spinning teacher. Last night I finished the singles in the rust-colored hand dyed alpaca Linda gave me last week. If I get a chance today, I'm going to ply it.

This has been a busy week, so my blog post is a little behind. I've had three physical therapy sessions (to help with a pinched nerve) and three group meetings, and we've had several days of snow and cold. Quilting met last Thursday, and our regular knitting group was one week ago. New knitter Mary brought her scarf to work on:

She had too many sts. I checked it out, and she had knit a couple of sts but then not taken them completely off the needle. I showed her how she had done it and how to fix it.

Linda was there with her knitting. She always brings several projects to work on. She'll work on one until she gets to a place where she can't keep track of the conversation, then she switches to another project. She's working on a lace scarf here, but she has the KP Holiday Ornament kit.

I'm trying to get the house in order before my thumb surgery on Tuesday. I've been stocking up the freezer, so I won't have to cook. DH will be my houseboy. I've also been trying to make progress on his Fair Isle sleeveless cardi. I'm about half way up the neck decreases. It sure looks funny, with the steek sts pulling in. You can see the armhole with it's steek sts in the upper right-hand corner.

The vertical rows of light and dark are the steek sts. When I get done with the body, I will cut those down the middle, trim off a little bit, and then PU sts for the front band and the armhole bands. No way am I going to finish in time for Christmas, but they will have to pry my knitting from my hands when I go in for surgery Tuesday morning. At least this time we don't have to drive all the way to Salt Lake City, because the new Park City Medical Center has opened. (Too bad I won't be there long enough to have a meal; I've heard their chef is great!) DH will get the sweater in whatever state it's in when I have to wrap it. I'll include an IOU for the finishing.

What's on My Needles/What's on My iPod: See my last post. Nothing has changed. I don't how how soon I'll be able to blog again, but as soon as I can post after surgery, I'll give you a quick note to let you know I'm OK. Happy knitting/spinning! --P

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Knitters

There's almost nothing better than meeting people who are just learning to knit! Well, except for maybe a KP order filled with yarn, books and new needles! I was invited to a neighbor's house for a "Stitch and Bitch" session Sunday night.

Here I am with one of the knitters. (I'm the older one!) I took my spinning wheel. DH went along to watch football with the other husbands and the father of the hostess, Mary, who was there for a visit. I was greeted by Mary, who had a hole in her knitting. It was definitely what DD used to call a "Mummy fix" moment! I took a look at her knitting. There was a hole and a row of purl bumps on the knit side of her stockinette st. I told her that the phone rang, or she had some interruption, and she didn't pay attention to which side the yarn was on when she started knitting again. She said that she had found the yarn twisted, and had held it up to untwist. That was the interruption. This is one of the most common mistakes by new knitters.

Liz, (in red) the mother of one of the ladies, was there, and by luck, she's an accomplished knitter, and spent the evening helping the new knitters. She and I compared notes on knitting projects. She doesn't spin (yet, LOL), so she was impressed with my wheel. I can't wait for her to come back again, so I can get to know her better. I didn't worry much about helping the new knitters, because they were in good hands.

I love to get people addicted to knitting! I have been known to give them some of my stash and even share needles with them. For this kind of addiction, it's OK to share needles! I'll meet with them again next Sunday for another session. Liz is gone, and they are depending on me to be their knitting guru. They need to meet once a week while they learn.

You may have spotted my friend Georgette in the group. (She's the one doing the needlepoint.) She's an accomplished knitter, too, and I'm sure she will be a big help to this group. (You may remember her from the Moebius class.)

We meet at Georgette's for our once-a-month knitting group on Friday afternoon. I hope to take photos at the knitting group again. A couple of the young women from the Sunday Stitch and Bitch group plan on coming. In the meantime, I've been "friended" by several of them on Facebook, the same day that I met some of my KP buddies on Facebook.

This was grooming week for the pups, so here's a photo of Rocky, just back from the groomer:

He's so beautiful! (You should have seen him before Marcia, the groomer, cleaned him up! He had been on two long hikes over the weekend, and the burrs and seeds were all through his fur. Sunny, too!) Sunny and I visited Federal Heights Nursing Home today, for our usual Delta Society/Therapy Animals of Utah visit. I can't take photos there to protect clients' privacy, but we had our usual effective and fun visit. Sunny seems to know what people want and need, and she give it. If they want kisses (as long as no facial hair is involved) they get it! If they want her in their laps, she goes there. If they want her up on the bed, she jumps up without asking. We'll miss next time because of the scheduled surgery on my other thumb, November 3rd. I promised to be back for the following regular scheduled visit, though. She's the one who does the work. I go along as "entourage" and to keep the paparazzi away.

What's on my needles? Still the FI sleeveless cardi for DH. I'm up to the armhole and neck shaping, and it's going well:

I'm actually about 12 rows past this photo, but you get the picture, so to speak.

What's on my iPod? Still Lorna Doone from I'm enjoying it, but I keep having interruptions. (Life!) It's a great story! And today, we get a new podcast, I expect. That's aways fun.
So for this week, happy knitting/spinning. Don't drop any sts! --Peggy

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spinning, Spiders and Other Things...

I'm making progress on DH's Fair Isle sleeveless cardi! My needles are smoking...well sort of. I just have to finish the current motif, and I'll be able to start the neck and armholes. Here's what it looks like:

The steek will go where the funny vertical stripes are. I am not afraid of steeks anymore after my Classic Lines Cardigan. I'm hoping to finish in time for my second (and final!) thumb surgery. If not, he'll get the sweater in whatever state it's in with an I.O.U. for the work to finish it.

Other Christmas presents include yarn for some of my special non-spinning knitting friends. Here's the alpaca (from the females named Penny and Willow) finished and ready to go. It's more or less sport weight yarn, about eight ounces.

One of my quilting groups met today. Ginny is working on a quilt to go with her mother's oriental carpets and artwork. Here's a photo of the quilted portion of one of her pillow shams. (I taught her to quilt! I'm so excited about her progress.)

Saturday we went on a hike in a place called Round Valley, which is part of Park City. In fact, you can see some of the ski runs in the background. The trails in Round Valley are not as steep as most of those in our area, so I was able to do most of the six-mile hike before my foot started to hurt. Rocky was good, and stayed with the group the whole time. Here's a photo of the people I hiked with:

Sunny was off cavorting while I took the photo, but Rocky is in the photo. He's really hard to see, though, being black. He's next to DH's right knee. (DH is the cute old guy, kneeling.) Rocky is right next to Eddy, the white shaggy dog. See if you can see where he is. Here's a close up:

While sitting in the car waiting for the hike, though, I noticed a spider. I wish I could have gotten a photo of her. I watched as she spun her fiber. (She uses long-draw, BTW.) When she was down about 6" above my seat, she started winding her yarn (onto her spindle? I couldn't see one, but it had to be going somewhere) and climbing back up the yarn (or singles--do spider's ply?) and then started all over again. It was fascinating.

What's on my needles? Same. The FI cardi.
What's on my iPod: Still Lorna Doone.

Happy knitting/spinning/quilting! --Peggy

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Joanie!

This is an extra blog to share Joanie's birthday with all of you, especially everyone who has a birthday on October 8th!

This was my present to Joanie: enough of my hand-spun Coopworth to make a Landscape Shawl like mine, so she won't steal it! I also gave her one of those needle gauges that looks like a cross section of a snail. A lot of LYSs have them but you can see what I mean here. The color I got her was sort of a pewter.
Linda (one of the alpaca Lindas) and I took Joanie out to lunch at the No Worries Cafe about a mile from my house.

Dante, the owner, brought the fire extinguisher over so Joanie's cake would catch the cafe on fire! That's Linda by the window, and you can recognize me from the CLiC in Shadow Sunset Heather and Shimmer Sunkissed. Joanie has been a long-time customer of the cafe, as have I. We opened presents. Besides the basket of yarn from me, Joanie got a hat from Linda. It's alpaca and quite fetching! Linda made it, of course.

Joanie had been eying another hat made by the other alpaca Linda. She got it today, too. Her head will be warm this winter. BTW, Joanie knitted the scarf she's wearing in the photos.

Another friend sent her a bag filled with goodies (some consumable, already consumed) and some non-edible candy corn.

When we were done with lunch, the our server and Dante came over with a sweet roll with three candles on it (not nearly enough). Here's the "birthday cake."

The big surprise from Dante came when the server handed me the bill. Linda and I had agreed to split it two ways, because we wanted to treat Joanie. The bill said: "Happy Birthday, Joanie!" We did leave a tip, though. What a nice place to eat. Happy knitting! --P

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sweater Time!

Good thing I'm making progress on DH's Fair Isle Sleeveless Cardi:

It's the Fridarey Sleeveless Cardigan from The Art of Fair Isle Knitting by Ann Feitelson. The yarn is Jamieson and Smith's Shetland yarn in a fingering weight. Here's a close up:

Winter is paying it's usual short autumn visit in Park City. It always warms up again after this, but it's a reminder: Winter is on the way. Several people have asked me for some photos of snow. (I have already posted a snowball a couple of places for people who still have the AC cranked up!) Here's what it looked like outside my house yesterday:

And the other way:

We had a couple of days of snow, starting on September 30th, then a day off (good behavior?) and another couple of days of snow, starting with rain, then turning to sleet and then snow. So much for the garden! Our gardening efforts this summer netted us one $50 tomato. Well, the squirrels helped keep the cost high, and we were gone a lot. I finished my EZ leggings just in time, and I've been wearing them:

The leggings really feel good when it's cold. Knitter's Almanac has these for September. I did mine with Swish DK in cinnamon, and started them last winter. No way would I have had them done in time If I had started in September!

On Sunday we had the Blessing of the Animals in honor of the feast day of St. Francis. The only animals we had this year were cats and dogs, which was appropriate, because the rain started while we were just beginning the service. Usually we have a pony or alpaca or two, and some bunnies. Hmmm...fiber animals! I took photos of the pups and DH. Here they are, waiting their turn:

Here's Rocky getting blessed:

The pressure is building to get the downstairs cleaned up. A lot of family are coming for Christmas, and I want it to be nice for them. Also, I have to get my Christmas cards ready to go. Easy. A photo of Rocky and Sunny in front of last-year's Christmas tree! (It's in my photos, if you want to look. It's called "Waiting for Santa.")

What's on my needles? DH's sleeveless cardi, of course. My Oregon socks are in a holding pattern. I don't know if I'll get time to get back to them before I have my second thumb surgery. [Sigh!]
What's on my wheel? Mmmmmm! Lovely caramel-colored alpaca! Great for socks, I think!
What's on my iPod? Still Lorna Doone. I haven't been able to just sit and listen. It's been a busy week.
Preview of Coming Attractions: If all goes well, Thursday will bring a meeting of my quilting minigroup, with a visit from a member who moved away a long time ago. (She's back in town visiting.) After that, I plan to take my friend Joanie out to lunch for her birthday. She's a knitter, but she doesn't get online, so I can tell you what she's getting from me--three center-pull balls of my hand-spun Coopworth for a Landscape Shawl and one of those cute needle gauge pendants that look like the cross-section of a snail. She threatened to steal my Landscape Shawl, but I know she would enjoy making it herself, so I know she will love this present!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Alpacas and Charlotte's Babies...

If you were watching the Alpaca Cam yesterday, you may have seen the alpacas greeting me as I arrived at the ranch.

I got my spinning set up and started work on the orange-rust hand-dyed alpaca I was working on the day before. The alpacas had visitors of all ages during the day.

As I was spinning, I would occasionally have a tiny spider drop from the tent that was providing protection from the sun. I wondered if they were Charlotte's babies. I lifted each on carefully to the ground. After the third or fourth one, I wondered if they were coming to check out my technique. The German word for spider is Spinne, which comes from the verb spinnen, meaning "to spin." (Spinnen also means "to be crazy." 'Nuff said.) Spiders are fantastic spinners, with a singles that's even and strong.

The two alpaca ranches participating in Alpaca Days, Blue Moon Ranch and Alpacas at Sundance Ranch, had products for sale. These were spun either by a company in Salt Lake City called Spinderella, or by my friends Linda and...Linda. Charlotte and her babies were not involved.

Linda and Linda had hats, purses, scarves, sweaters socks and other items made from alpaca fiber. They also had spinning fiber and finished yarn, some of it hand-dyed. Business was good. In the photo above, Linda is explaining something about alpaca fiber to a customer.

By about 2:30 PM I had finished the alpaca I was spinning. Today I plied it on itself, using the method where you use your ball winder to make a center-pull ball and then pull from the inside and the outside at the same time to make a 2-ply yarn. I was pleased that, by concentrating, I could make a fairly balanced yarn. I counted every time my left foot went down (I have a double-treadle wheel). One-two-three, and then I fed the plied yarn to the orifice. I think the penny coordinates well with the yarn. Actually, I'm using that for scale. (I noticed the spinners on Ravelry do that.)

I haven't washed it yet to set the twist, but I wanted to get a photo.

Here's what I started spinning yesterday afternoon (above). I put on another bobbin and started with the caramel-colored alpaca. I'm finding it easier to spin. It doesn't have all the slubs and little odd spots that was in the hand-dyed, which was made from some less even fiber, which makes it interesting and fun to spin--but challenging.

This photo shows a complete alpaca fleece, called a blanket. It was laid out so people could see what it looks like after shearing and before processing. See, alpacas can make blankets, too!

Well, I had to show you something of the gorgeous foliage in my backyard. Nights are cool and days are warm, but we are supposed to have precipitation and cold--maybe snow at our elevation--about Wednesday.

What's on my needles? Still frantically trying to finish up the EZ leggings (AKA "Nethergarments"). I'm on the waist ribbing. I have to do a few rows, then make eyelets for a tie.

What's on my iPod? Still listening to Lorna Doone...about Chapter 20 or so now...and the KP Podcasts, of course. I need to download some Sticks and String and It's a Purl, Man. I'm getting behind.

DH is staining the deck in front, rushing to get done before it snows. Rocky and Sunny are relaxing after the walk we went on. I'm sitting here with a nice cuppa tea before we go to the theater tonight to see A Chorus Line down in Salt Lake City. Happy knitting/spinning, etc. --P