Monday, September 6, 2010

Finishing my vacation

Okay, I started this blog post last month. Now it's the official end of summer in the US, Labor Day, and I realized that the post still isn't done!

The summer was full of projects and, I think overall, that a lot got done. It just went by really, really quickly!

There has been cleaning and decluttering, and there is more yet to be done. But I'm feeling better about the lower amount of stuff in this house. Some people say there is a feeling of lightness that occurs, and I think I'd have to agree.

However, does that mean I've gotten rid of yarn stash? Not entirely! I am, though, using some stash.


The Fall Twist Collective came out, and I immediately fell in love with the Hawthorne shawl. I have some alpaca yarn that I bought several years ago up in the Medford area, from Alpacas at Lone Ranch, and it's knitting up beautifully. It's done, and I just need to get a modelled shot of it.

I've started the Bryony tank by Amy Herzog and am knitting it in BabyBoo, a bamboo/nylon blend. We (Sandi and I) did some customizing of the pattern because the row gauge of the original yarn is very compressed compared to the row gauge I'm getting. And, I'm combining two sizes for the front to accomodate my hips, decreasing down to the appropriate bust size. Back is done and I'm halfway through the front. Love the cable detail on this!

I have about 3000 yards of this beautiful Artfibers Alfabeto (silk/mohair) that Sandi so kindly gifted to me. I started a mindless project to take on vacation up to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, so I came up with the Point Edge Wrap. Show knitting was supposed to be garter stitch with a beautiful edging. However, I failed entirely to manage an 8-stitch lace pattern in the dark.

Hence, a stop at Web*sters in Ashland for yarn for a simple mindless scarf - no yarn overs! I got some Colinette Cadenza in the colorway Marble, 2 skeins became another Scrunchable Scarf. Even better, I had a gift certificate to use!

While in Web*sters, I was in the sale room when I turned around to see this gorgeous braid on the table. They had just gotten this beautiful tri-color BFL in "stained glass" from Frabjous Fibers in Vermont. MUST.HAVE.NOW. So I did.

But I had also bought 8 oz. of gorgeous Mendenhall Merino black fleece from Purlescence. Much of the fiber I buy has to sit and marinate for a while until I decide what it wants to grow up to be. However, this stuff --- yummy! Must. Spin. Now! The locks are almost 3 inches long and the crimp is beautiful and tight. So I washed it, and now it's completely dry, and I want to just spin it right off the locks as is. But I should be good and flick card it first...

And now, I'm taking the SpinU class at Purlescence, so there is a lot more spinning in my future.

That led up to this past Saturday. Rachel and I decided we needed a day to dye. So she brought over some supplies and fiber and yarn and I ransacked my stash, and we spent over 4 hours playing with color in my backyard.

I dyed some light grey colonial top with a mixture of violet & lavender, and another braid with blues, experimented with some tussah silk, and overdyed some Malabrigo worsted. "What!?" I can hear you saying, "But Malabrigo comes in such gorgeous colors!"

"Yes" is my reply, but the ones I bought weren't quite my colors, so now they are! See the Mineral Red skeins in the top left corner? The big picture on the right is the "after" shot, with the addition of mahogany and royal blue.

One very different project occurred before school started when I took a break from my fiber obsession and took a little trip up to San Francisco. Last year when my parents came up this direction, they went to the National Archives in San Bruno and found / copied some documents about my mother's grandfather and his family. Supposedly, he was born in San Francisco in 1878 at 531 Jackson St., the brick building on the corner. Now it's a Chinese restaurant. Some of these documents were transcripts of interviews with him to prove his identity as a native-born citizen. There are addresses of the places where he lived as a child and adult, his work as a laundryman and merchant. So I went up to SF's Chinatown and walked around, trying not to completely look like a tourist, but pulling out my camera at each address I found. He was about 18 years old at the time of the 1906 earthquake, and of course, many of the addresses are newer buildings.

However, I've since found out that not one address in those documents was connected to my great-grandfather at all. Sigh! According to a written history that my grandmother created about the family (that I did not have a few weeks ago), her father-in-law came to this country through Mexico. Since a lot of documents were destroyed during the 1906 earthquake, many Chinese men created stories about their early lives that could not be verified. They had to have every detail in place to "prove" that they were "citizens" and eligible to stay in California. These "Paper Sons" made it difficult to discern what is factual and what is false about their lives. I guess I'm having a hard time reconciling these other documents because I don't want to believe that someone in my family lied, even if it ultimately led to all the other truths that I know about my family.

So, some of my summer projects have been more productive than others, but all in all, I'm pretty pleased with how much got done.

Now, on to the new school year!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fibery Goodness!

Took a dyeing workshop up at Purlescence on Sunday. So.Much.FUN!

Brought in a pound of unknown wool that I had found at home. Found out later that it might by Romney wool. I measured it out into 4 ounce sections and braided each one.

My inspiration was the Four Seasons of my garden.
(From the top of the center pic)
Spring - poppies, ceanothus & iris
Summer - yellow coast sunflowers, tomatoes
Fall - pumpkins, butternut squash
Winter - not as much color, sky, paler greens

I'm really thrilled with how they came out. After cooking and rinsing, the colors were more blended and muted than I thought they were going to be. Now, what to spin from it?

Did some yarn too - bottom center.  (Surprise, I made something purple!)


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line!

Can’t believe I made it to the finish line of the Tour de Fleece! Two years ago, I managed to make my goal, but I bailed out last year due to some other deadlines that got in the way.

I spun every day except for the first 2 when I was out of town, but I certainly pedaled hard and made up for those days. My goal changed from the beginning, but I ended up doing more than planned. I spun a total of 2144 yards from 1.5 pounds of fiber.

A side goal besides working through stash fiber was to learn from the process. I’m getting better at spinning intentionally for a specific size single and also at balancing my plied yarns. AND, I learned how to make photo collages! (I'm using Picasa, by the way)

From the bottom, counter-clockwise:

Unknown blue merino tencel blend - already on the wheel and I'd forgotten about it. Needed to finish the 8 oz before I could spin anything else. Spun at least 4 oz. and plied all of it, 3-ply, sport- to dk weight - 470 yards

Faerie Mountain merino/silk. 2 batts, approx. 1 oz. each. 2-ply laceweight - 273 yards

Lisa Souza BFL. 2 batts (Shade Garden colorway), approx. 1.2 oz each. 2-ply laceweight - 302 yards

Royale Hare Superwash Merino, two 4 oz. braids. (1 of Sonoma Coast Iceplant, 1 of Lake Berryessa). 2-ply, DK weight, 590 yards.

Abstract Fiber Polwarth, one 4 oz. braid in the Iris colorway. 2-ply fingering weight, 481 yards.

That little teeny skein in the middle picture on top of everything is about 25 yards of navajo-plied Abstract Fiber merino in "Mood Ring". Some time ago, when the Abstract gals were in town, I got 2 little sample fiber bits from them, and finally decided to spin them up this afternoon.

Finally, I leave you with the best part of the Tour - dessert - which kept me spinning!

Nectarine Sorbet (from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

(Oh, speaking of food -- go see the blog Magical Eating -- for some fabulous summer salad ideas.)

(more fun fiber feats will appear tomorrow!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One Ply, Two Ply, Red Ply, Blue Ply!

Royale Hare Superwash Merino
colorway: Sonoma Coast Iceplant

Plus this...
Royale Hare Superwash Merino
colorway: Lake Berryessa

Equals THIS!
I spun 1/3 of the Iceplant and plied it with 1/3 of the Lake Berryessa to make a yarn worthy of Dr. Seuss! Approximately 220 yards of 2-ply DK weight yarn; hopefully about 660 yards when I'm all done.

Happy, Happy, Happy!
(Now I'm off to spin the other 2/3 of the roving.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Super Happy Fiber Day!

Caution: for my non-spinning friends, this is filled with fibery content.

How are you doing with your TdF goals? Mine are going like gangbusters, but I'm changing the goal slightly.

I already showed the blue merino/tencel (goal 1).

Goal 2: Faerie Mountain Fibers, merino/silk, 2 batts, each approx. 1 oz.

273 yards of 2-ply laceweight

I fought the silk a bit, but it wasn't too bad, and I'm still very pleased.

Goal 3: Lisa Souza BFL, 2 batts, each approx. 1.2 oz.

Colorway: Shade Garden (dark pink/burgundy, hunter green, navy)

302 yards, 2-ply laceweight, and even more perfectly balanced than the merino-tencel! I'm in love with this. Let's just say there was a Happy Dance involved when I pulled this off the niddy-noddy!

Now, here's where the goal has diverged from the original plan, laid out here.

I was going to spin at least 4 oz. of Abstract Fiber, either merino/silk or Polwarth. But then... this arrived at Purlescence today.

Royale Hare Superwash Merino, 4 oz. braids in the most luscious, happy colors! There was much squeeing and fondling and grinning over the fiber!

I couldn't leave without taking some home (I am working more hours at the public library, after all...). So I'm going to spin one of these two colors, probably the Sonoma Coast Iceplant color, the top/bottom braid with pink and bits of purple and green. What looks like red in this photo is really a bright fuschia pink. It will eventually be plied with the blues in the center (Lake Berryessa) for something incredibly colorful and happy! I might even have enough time to spin both of them before the last day, July 25.

Yes, I did get some of the beautiful purple Penngrove Purples color too. You didn't think I'd leave without a colorway that yelled at me, would you?

Hope you had a day filled with things that made you happy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tour de Fleece, day 7 (or day 5 for me...)

I don't know why I'm not spinning more often; it's so relaxing (mostly)...

Part 1 of the Tour goal:
360 yards, 3 ply, merino tencel
DK to sport weight
170 grams

There is also a navajo-plied skein of 111 yards, not nearly as pretty or as balanced.
Perfectly balanced (which I'm probably the most proud of)

Part 2 - Faerie Mountain Fibers is in progress! I should easily finish this ounce this afternoon and start the 2nd one. I'm aiming for laceweight.

How are you doing if you are spinning or hand-cycling (knitting)?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tour de Fleece

Well, I skipped the first 2 days of the Tour because I was traveling, but I think I'm making up for it!

Goal: spin as much of this as I can.

Realistic Goal: the 2 Lisa Souza batts and the 2 Faerie Mountain batts (a little over 1 oz each)

and the 8 oz. Crown Mountain Superwash Merino
(OR the 2 Abstract Fiber braids - 4 oz each, Polwarth in Iris or Silk/Merino in Poppies)

 Be Honest With Yourself Goal: finish the almost 8 oz of unremembered merino/tencel that is already on the bobbins, then the little batts and one 4 oz braid.

I had already spun 1 bobbin's worth months ago and was about halfway through the 2nd, so around 4 oz needs to be finished and plied off the bobbins before I can do anything else. I'm currently working on the 3rd bobbin. Can't wait to ply these (maybe tomorrow?).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Things I did this weekend:

Drove down to Orange County on Saturday for a BBQ with some high school friends that I haven't seen (in some cases) for more than 25 years, as well as my bestest friend and also a former boyfriend. There was so much smiling and laughter that my face hurts!

Drove back today (Sunday) after breakfast with my family.

Got rear-ended - which *did not* make my day. Luckily, low speed and the bumper did its job.

Decided I needed to take it easy on the way home and decompress by finding my Happy Place, which is on the coast near the water.  Took Pacific Coast Highway between Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach and saw plenty of sights (!) on this 4th of July. I'm now going to channel Laurie with her commute photos!
Apparently there is a pancake breakfast/parade/festival/day-long-party/fireworks show in Huntington Beach. People were setting up their barbeques & tailgate parties for the day (look on the right of this pic).

One of my favorite spots on 101 is north of Ventura where the highway is right next to the shore. When the conditions are just right, the tides are in and the wind blowing just so, south-bound cars can be splashed by the waves.

Wasn't sure whether one of our favorite Mexican hole-in-the-wall restaurants was open due to the holiday. It was and that made me happy! If there is no line outside La Super-Rica in Santa Barbara, they're not open. The couple behind me in line were on their honeymoon and had never been there before. The man behind them had just flown into LAX from Connecticut and promptly drove up to SB to see if he could get his Mexican food fix! Both of us told the newlyweds that they could choose anything and it would be fabulous. Due to the seating situation (lack thereof), my new friend and I ate together, and the young couple came and thanked us for the recommendation. They were sooooo cute!

Thing I did not do this weekend - Tour de Fleece. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to have to do a lot of treadling in order to catch up with everyone else! Also got about 10 rows done on my sock - no pic because I was knitting in line. Other than that - no fiber stuff. It's just too hard to spin or knit when you have to be the driver...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime...

It's taken nearly a month for me to finally feel like I'm on vacation. Usually the first few weeks is spent dealing with all the stuff you've put off "until I have a moment (or several hours) to deal with it". Oil change in the car, hair, dr appts, blood donations, etc. And then you need to get out and pick up that stuff that wasn't quite necessary, but would be nice to get fixed, stock up on, etc. Costco, hardware store, kitchen stuff, etc. Catch up on the emails you've been meaning to send and the websites on the list to explore, the music/books you've been meaning to pick up.

Then there's the retirement parties, graduations, college orientations, and some professional presentations to prep for.

No wonder I'm exhausted from my "vacation"!

There has been knitting during this time, believe it or not.


Finally finished the (no-longer-secret) Retirement blanket - each strip was made by a different person. I gave 6 other crocheters/knitters a skein (or two) of yarn and said something along the lines of "choose any stitch pattern you like, and make it about 7 inches wide and as long as the yarn holds out". Turned out that everyone's ended up being about 50 inches long. Mattress stitched the strips together and single crocheted edging, and there is a lot of love stitched into this blanket.

Citron shawl:
1.25 skeins of Dream in Color Baby, 8 repeats
Color: Into the Mystic
Needle: size 6 (4.0 mm)
Started: June 10, 2010
Finished: June 28, 2010
(but not yet blocked or photographed)

Also working still on the Susie Hoodie and my Purple Vanilla Rib socks, but no new pics.

The Dork also finished his first knitting project: the Horizontal Rib scarf (Ravelry link, even though he's not on Ravelry - yet) in Dream in Color Classy in Deep Seaflower.

He is one of the loosest knitters that I know! This was worsted weight yarn that I had to have him work on size 5 needles, and probably should have gone down to 4's. But, it's a finished object and he's already given it away to a friend!

Next up for me: Tour de Fleece. My goal is just to spin each day and see how far I can get into the stash of fiber! I've got at least 3-4 pounds of fiber of all different types & colors that I want to get to. There's Polwarth, Targhee, superwash merino, BFL, merino/tencel, merino/bamboo, various batts of unremembered fiber, etc.

But I'm heading to Southern California this weekend for a little get-together of some high school friends, many of whom I haven't seen in more than 25 years. [Love the House of Mom & Dad, too.] Should I take my wheel, or just my knitting? Hmmm, do I have knitting at the right stage of mindlessness... Oh no, maybe I need to cast on something!

Happy 4th of July to all US readers and Happy belated Canada Day to the Canadians! Happy Friday to everyone and watch out for invading grapevines!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


First of the season berries.

Berries + homemade peach ice cream.

Hopeful eyes...

Summer vacation has now started...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sometimes you win...

 (Warning: picture-heavy post)
Working my way backwards in the Win Column:
Graduation: Class of 2010. The Dork will be heading to San Francisco State next year. Now if he'll just get a job to help pay for it!
Prom:Aren't they cute? They decided to go with a bit of steampunk aesthetic in their outfits, so I made his vest. I also found the perfect buttons in my button box with which to make cufflinks! So super easy using this tutorial.
For the win, this was the amount of thread left on my bobbin when I finished the vest, except for a bit of hand-sewing. 
Both my guys are knitting up a storm! I find it very amusing that The Hubby has been spending more time at Purlescence Yarns than I have! (Courtesy of his work schedule for the last few months.) He is working on a vest out of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted in Muddy Autumn Rainbow, and The Dork is working on a scarf for himself in Colourscape Chunky.
At Stitches West (waaaay back when, after I last posted), I also won because The Hubby bought me some Glow sock yarn from WabiSabi in a gorgeous purple (of course). He bought more yarn at Stitches than I did - he definitely won! I bought fiber instead...
Oh, you came to see what I was up to knit-wise?
 Two retirement scarves are in the works: on the left is an Irish Hiking Scarf in Cascade Sierra; on the right is a Strangling Vine scarf in Naturally Caron Spa. Trying to get the lavender one done by Tuesday so it can be blocked on Wednesday and presented to the retiree on Friday, her last official day of work! The other one is going to be shipped up to Washington for a teacher who retired last year.
My Susie Hoodie is going along, the 2nd purple 3x1 rib sock is started, I saw the Sally Rand pattern from the Twist Collective and had to start that right away too (Pictures on that later when I figure out which bag I threw it into when cleaning.)
Then I realized that I really needed to get to a repair that has been sitting for the last couple months. My boss' daughter-in-law's grandmother had made her a crocheted afghan when she was little, and there were a couple of damaged rows; could I fix it? Sure!
The separated row goes almost all the way across. Upon further close inspection, it turned out to involve parts of 3 rows. So I ripped out the damaged yarn and single-crocheted the rows. Luckily, the blanket seemed to have been made in Red Heart acrylic, and I found a great match in the last yarn swap.
Before I crocheted the last row, I put in a sock yarn life line; it was a smooth contrasting yarn threaded through the bottom loops of the row above the last row I removed. Unfortunately in crochet, to remove a row that is above the damaged area, you have to carefully remove it loop by loop, not unzipping it as you could normally would if you were ripping from the top down.
Make your stitch as normal.
BUT, before making the next stitch, remove the hook from the final loop. Insert a slightly smaller hook from left to right through the bottom 2 loops of the stitch in the row above (that is on your lifeline). Grab the final loop of the stitch you just made and pull it through, making sure it's not twisted.
Remove the smaller hook, use the regular hook and make the next stitch, repeating the steps above until you're finished. Weave in any ends of old and new yarn that need to disappear, and take a bow! 
Here is the completed afghan. You can see the new yarn under the name, but it's actually a very good match, considering the original blanket is almost 30 years old!
So, how have you all been doing?