Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time for something new

As you've probably noticed, I'm not blogging here much anymore. My life has moved to a different season and the knitting and spinning is playing a lesser role.

In light of that I decided to start a new blog. This one will include the knitting and spinning but also the other things in my head and heart that I would like to share. There is no real aim, or theme, but I enjoy writing, and I enjoy sharing the things I learn and live. If you'd like to join me, please come on over!

I've enjoyed meeting new people through this blog and am thankful that you indulged me all this time. Onward!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tour Wrap Up

So, here is what I got done during the Tour de Fleece 2010. My goal was not speed or to spin massive amounts. I had two goals... to spin enough for the charity auction. Check. And to try some new fibers/techniques. Semi-check.

I started out strong, teaching myself to navajo ply with some leftover singles. New technique, check.

Then I spun like mad for the charity event. Check.

Next I made an attempt to spin a sock yarn. It didn't end well. The drafting technique I tried was pretty much... daft. I completely over spun my singles. It was my first traditional 3-ply. Which was interesting. I found a couple mistakes in the plying. Who knew adding one more tiny strand would junk up the works so much? Anyhow, that poor BFL is bulletproof. It ended up with the thickness of a sport to dk weight but the yardage of worsted. Someone with small feet is going to get a nice pair of footies that will last forever. It's the center yarn, Bijou from the Zen String Fiber of the month club... a while ago.

Then I got distracted. A couple of people from the team I was spinning with mentioned their opinions on drafting Targhee. It was not favorable. Now, I was shocked. I think drafting Targhee is a dream. But I've only done it once. So I thought... well maybe it was a fluke? So I pulled the only bump of Targhee I had out and spun it. It was even dreamier than the first time. To each their own! The finished product is a completely lovely 2 ply worsted weight... the blue/black/purple number up there. It's delicious. It's Midnight View from the Selah fiber of the month club.

I have one item incomplete from the tour... Becoming Art, Gypsy Love, on Superwash Merino. This one I think will actually be a heavy fingering weight. Maybe a light sport. This is progress. I ditched the daft drafting and found some brain cells again so my singles are looking good. My plan is to navajo ply this so that the colors will pool. I've been dividing up the fiber in color chunks. Some are a little more mixed than the two showing on the bobbin there. I think it should be pretty neat. This will be my first whole skein navajo plied. So you see... I didn't quite complete this challenge. But I got close.

By the way... who thought flesh colored tile would look good in front of a fireplace? Do you see it there? Ick.

While we're talking about opinions on fiber... Merino, not my favorite. It's popular because of it's softness and availability. But it's not that fun to spin. I feel like my fingers have to inch their way along crawling on top of each other. No long drafting with this stuff. It's high maintenance. It makes a lovely finished product though so I'm not going to throw it out completely.

While spinning thin I learned more about my wheel. It has a proclivity to grab at the fiber every now and then. When I was spinning thicker I really didn't notice that. But spinning thin... it jerks it out of my hand and often breaks off my work. Annoying. I've been told I can troubleshoot this by replacing the nylon tension string with some crochet cotton. We shall see.

I also spent part of an afternoon giving a Lendrum DT a test drive. It was a learning experience. The thing I enjoyed about it was that the wheel had more inertia and therefore the spinning felt smoother. The biggest downside? My feet are so long they don't even remotely fit on the treadles. It was not comfortable. And I missed my delta orifice. Having to use a threading hook seemed tedious. I'm not used to it. My conclusions after this are that I may want to upgrade my wheel to one with more enertia, but I'll probably stick to a Majacraft... unless I fall in love with Bill's new wheel.

Bill down at Paradise Fibers has his own wheel in the final stages. He took me all through the Lendrum and told me it's advantages and disadvantages. Then he took me through what their new wheel will be like and it's advantages. He didn't have one in the shop so I didn't see or spin on it. It sounds very interesting so I'm definitely going to keep stopping by there until I get to try one. I definitely think it's hard to choose a wheel when you're a beginner. You really don't know what you like or dislike or how you like to spin. Now that I have a couple years of spinning behind me I do. My initial instinct on what type of wheel I'd like was pretty right on. But I think I got lucky. For the price, my Pioneer is a dream.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Yes, you read that correctly. We fiber enthusiasts will take any occasion for creating a knit or spin along. Oddly enough it's gotten me to actually watch some of the Tour de France for the first time. It's rather interesting. Of course the tom boy in me can become a fan of pretty much any sport. Four brothers will do that to any girl.

So far I've spun up a few items for another charity auction, and one dud.

Woodland in Spring by Mosaic Moon... is a gorgeous single ply merino. The colors told me that's what they wanted to be. When fiber speaks, it's best to listen.

I also spun a 2 ply BFL, Blooming by Mosaic Moon. It has the loveliest sheen to it. BFL is like that. So soft and fluffy too. Yum. The colors ended up pooling in the skeins... one is heavy on the green, the other heavy on the pink. Not sure why. It certainly wouldn't stop me from bidding on it!

The third is a superwash BFL, Bijou by Zen String (now Wildflower Whimsy). For my birthday Hub got me a tensioned lazy kate. Oh the luxury! I thought it was time to attempt a 3-ply. This is where the learning curve enters into play. I totally overspun this fiber. The yardage is worsted, but the WPI make it more of a heavy sport weight. It also has some issues in the plying. Managing 3 singles apparently was also in the learning curve. Ah well... they can't all turn out right! It's still lovely and should make a nice pair of footies for someone.

And last, but certainly not least is this pair of mittens. I knit them from the Neverland I spun up a few months ago. I have to say I think this may be one of my favorite things I've ever made. Lovely yarn, lovely product. They fit me perfectly. Which is generally the case when you're winging it and designing your own. However, I will be putting them in the charity auction. So people had better bid high on these! They are gorgeous!

The charity auction goes live on July 26th. It is to benefit Kim, of Green Strings by SugarBubbie. After already enduring a difficult year financially her son was recently diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. Items are being listed daily so keep checking back! Lovely yarns, fibers, and hand made items available.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

You Spin Me Right Round Baby... Right Round...

Miss E recently had surgery to switch from an exterior port to an interior port. That's the best way I can describe it quickly. The "prize" she chose afterwords was the soundtrack to Alvin and the Chipmunks "The Squeakquel". That song has been running around in my head for two weeks... and coincidentally... I was spinning! I'd like to introduce you to my new friends...

This is Aquatic Dreams dyed (and donated) by Tina of Sugar Bubbie... my first spin with targhee... it won't be my last. She was so well behaved I'd like to have her for tea everyday!

This is Jack... he was dyed by Three Irish Girls on Superfine Merino. He didn't behave quite as well as I'd have liked him to, but he was first on the wheel and it had been a long winter without spinning... so it's not all his fault. He had a rough upbringing. We're just going to call him "rustic".

This here is my shiny friend... Lazy Day. She was dyed by Julie at Selah. She's a lovely 50/50 blend of Superwash Merino and Tencel. She's my first "I'm proud of it soft spun single". She's a little shy for the camera though... always trying to hide in the shadows.

And here is the showoff... Neverland dyed by Lisa at Becoming Art on Superfine Merino. She was a little high maintenance... the skeins didn't turn out very even. I think my stress level showed here with my inconsistency. Therefore, one skein must stay home with me... the "bad" one. Darn!

You know what the best part is? You, yes, YOU could take home any one of my friends for yourself! They are all going up for auction next week! A woman from a group I've been a part of since Miss N was born has fallen on tragic times. She needs our help. You can read part of her story and see the auction items that are being added every moment at Western Sky Knits. These lovely gals are the gracious hostesses for A Whole Latte Love. Previews are going up every day and the auctions go live on May 14th! Don't miss out!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Completely non-depressing post!

I know, I've been a serious downer... meaningful, but downer posts! I'm going parade some pretty knits around and cheer you this time. I've been busy since I last blogged... meant to blog... but didn't. This seems to have turned into a chronic problem.

First... there was the knitting Olympics! I struggled a bit in the beginning because I had a project I wanted to finish, but it didn't count. So I was late to start. Both efforts are worth mentioning. Both knit with Hazel Knits Artisan Sock... the Olympics team I was on 'Hazel Knuts'. What can I say? Love her yarn! Gift socks in Sailors Delight. Hard to give away, but I had some more red waiting to be cast on so that helped. Akimbo for me. Oh Akimbo... I do love you. Your silky softness is so nice up against my neck... and your colors make me look alive on the dreariest of winter days when I am worn down and exhausted. Both things make you dear to me.

Next comes some adorableness so cute it might hurt your teeth. Easter sweaters for a family of our friends. I've never understood all the sundresses in the stores at Easter. I have never lived far enough south to even dare to hope to wear such a thing in early April! The yarn is Amy March by Yarn Love. A new yarn that I love...

At this point I looked over at a whole stack of projects including cabling that I had started this winter but not gotten very far on. Cables... so gorgeous, but often they make my hands sore. I have resisted the plea "Mommy will you knit ME a sweater" (There is guilt involved here but I'm still holding strong.) and am working towards rectifying this UFCO situation. (UnFinished Cabled Objects) You may recall I tried this pattern before (BFF Socks), and ran out of yarn for my big feet. So that pair turned into a gift for someone with significantly shorter feet. This time, enough yarn... barely. Yarn is Beckon Super Merino from Three Irish Girls. They were not the most fun to knit (sore hands), but they are lovely. And they enjoyed playing for the camera. Blues hardly ever play nice with the camera. They've earned more adoration from me for that.

And now I'm dutifully working away on Koolhaas Hat number two for Hub. A seriously SLOW knit. The first one I knit him with dk weight yarn ended up too small. This time I'm knitting with worsted but am wondering if I should have gone up a needle size. We shall see! After that I think I'll allow myself to knit something without cables... or my fingers might fall off.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweet Samuel

There seem to be phases of life that are just heavy. They are full of problems, belonging both to you and the ones you love. Obviously for us the past 15 months have been extremely heavy. And it has opened the door for others to walk into our lives who are also carrying heavy loads tagged 'childhood cancer'. But this particular burden came from both inside and outside of our cancer world. You see, one of the nurses in the pediatric oncology department also goes to our church. Before Miss E was diagnosed we only knew each other by name. Our husbands were quite familiar and friendly with one another, but somehow our paths had yet to intersect. Well, as you can imagine, living in the hospital, in her department, parked us at an intersection. She always did a really fantastic job at being professional. She avoided having direct care of us in order to maintain a good amount of professionalism. But she always found time on her break... or lunch... or at the end of her day to check on us. A slow sweet friendship was sprouting. Seven months ago we got out of the "living in the hospital" part of treatment and we have been able to form a much more normal friendship... time one on one and also time with our families together.

I have always felt like she was a blessing to us. A special gift that God placed right in the hospital just for us! Little did I know he brought us together for our mutual benefit at hard places in both of our lives.

Four weeks ago my friend, radiant and beautiful, 28 weeks pregnant with her second son... went from excitement and trepidation over having two rowdy boys in the house, to fear that her son would not live another day. Because of multiple serious health issues with the baby, the doctors decided it would be best for this sweet boy to be born at 28 weeks gestation. Most people know that is far too early for a baby to be born. Normal gestation is 40 weeks give or take a couple of weeks. But they knew if they did not get him out, he wouldn't have a chance. So out he came. His chance at life was slim. He fought hard and he made it past those first few fragile days. Life became upside down for his family. They had a baby... but he wasn't at home. Since it was a second boy they hadn't really bought anything new... he would get big brothers hand me downs. With Samuel remaining in the NICU, at home it was almost as if he didn't exist. It was a very strange reality.

As I fervently prayed for this family, I also spent a week frantically knitting. Samuel needed something that was his. Something made special just for him. The Bible says that children are a blessing. Samuel is a blessing. No matter what the circumstances are, he is beautiful, he is important, his life has meaning, and he is a blessing. I made him a "Sammy size blankie". A small, pretty, log cabin blanket. It was made with so much love. And as I knit it, it was a reminder to be continually in prayer for him. I was a little nervous in giving it... you never know how people are feeling in these situations. But I need not fear, it was perfect. It touched his mothers heart in just the right way.

Yesterday, at precisely four weeks old, Sammy went home to the arms of his Heavenly Father. He only got to bless our lives for four short weeks. He will be greatly missed.

If only there was a way that my hands could knit away the pain in his parents hearts now...

Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 - The Year of Gifts

For the first half of the year I spent endless hours, days, weeks in the hospital with Miss E. Just sitting. Much of the time she was in isolation and unable to even leave her room. Which meant I wasn't going anywhere either. Just sitting... unable to take care of Miss N... unable to take care of my home... my husband... etc... Just sitting. Knitting kept me company. Knitting kept me busy. Knitting kept me from jumping out the window from sheer boredom and uselessness. I found a mission.

There were amazing people who stepped into our lives this year. The kind of people who come over to your house at 3am so that both Hub and I could take Miss E in to the ER when she was in severe pain and we were scared sick. The kind of people who come over and clean your house for you after wood floors have been refinished. That's a particularly nasty kind of messy there. The kind of people who care for your child as if she were there own. The kind of people who let you live in their home for three months while your house is being renovated to make it safe for your sick child. The kind of people who bring you Christmas dinner in the hospital and spend time with you in the place no one wants to be on a holiday. The kind of people who organize teams of people to bring you food and care for your healthy child. People who step into your everyday hospital life because it's their job... and then become your very dear friend. People who come and babysit and send you off on dates with your husband. Amazing people. Absolutely amazing.

I felt so helpless. I FEEL so helpless still. There is so much I can't do. We continue to need other people everyday. There is absolutely nothing I could possibly do to thank these people who have come into our lives in such an amazing way. Nothing could equal what they have done for us and are continuing to do for us as we walk through this nightmare called childhood cancer. But what I could do... was knit. I knit love and thankfulness and prayers for blessing into every stitch I made. I hope that these very small tokens of my love and effort touched them in even just a small way. Because they have all touched our lives in a very big way. I couldn't possibly make something for every person who has helped us along the way. I don't even know every person who has! These gifts were for the people who have been involved with us every day. They haven't fizzled out. They haven't forgotten us. They're still here, always supporting, helping, encouraging and loving us. It is truly a priceless gift we have been given.