Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Almost There

Ready for buttons!
All I have to do now on my Calligraphy Cardigan is attach buttons. I'm done both bands, and I even wove in every single little yarn end. I don't believe I have another sweater upon which I haven't ignored a little yarn tail under the arm or at the back of the neck.

I also found the perfect buttons at The Loop last week.

Aren't they pretty? I wasn't sure if they'd have quite what I had in mind, but it turned out what they had changed my mind. I'm easy that way.

I have a lot of yarn  left over, so I'm planning out some mittens or a hat- I think most likely a hat, because I have one extra button which I think would look cute on the hat band. I could go back and get another and have a matching button on each mitten but I don't think you'd see them, as the sweater cuffs are quite long.

I did another flower picture round-up:

Monkshood out front:

Purple coneflowers opening among the daisies. There are not nearly enough of them and I think next year I will start some more and double them up, so they add more color.

purple coneflower

Volunteer Violets

Volunteer Violets under the deck, that seeded from my pots last year. I could remove them, and keep a well-manicured, yuppie yard but they cheer me up every time I look at them- probably more than all the other flowers combined. Well, maybe not. It's hard not to smile at these:


And all of these:
flowerpots on deck

I am finishing up my new perennial bed along the front walk- once I get it mulched I'll take pics. So far I have a forsythia, two spirea, a rose and my weigela as the shrubs and I planted some vinca and red thyme as the ground covers. I know I will have to eventually move some of those but I don't want it to look sparse right now.

I've got another load of fiber to dye, and now that the boys are back in school, I think Thursday will be my color day. Whee! I'll take lots of pics!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Knitting and Flowers

It's long past time for a blog post. I kept meaning to post all July, and update the blog with my alphabetiKAL progress and new garden pics. You'll have to just visit my flickr photostream if you want to fill in the gap. The delphiniums are worth going over to look at- they were absolutely gorgeous in their glory.

Right now, the stars of the garden are the daisies Daisies

The sweet peas
Sweet Peas

And the larkspur out front, which is blooming late and looking gangly- I figure due to the caterpillar assault it suffered in June.

The back garden bed is starting to come into its own. The lilies are done (they were gorgeous), but now the nasturtiums are getting going.
Back Garden

The night-scented stocks fill the backyard with their heavenly scent every evening. They're taller than I expected, so next year I'll plant them in the middle of the bed, and put the pansies at the edge.

The snapdragons I started from seed are just starting to open:

And the sunflowers that reseeded themselves are opening up too!

I'm excited about these because the varieties I planted last year cross-pollinated so I'm not sure what I'm going to get.

Do you remember that gigantic post all about how much of a pain that California Red fleece was? I did finish spinning it, and decided that for my August KAL project, I would knit it all up into a sweater. I found a great  pattern (Calligraphy Cardigan) with lots of stockinette which I figured would showcase the beauty of a hand spun, hand dyed yarn. I decided to dye it my favorite color of calligraphy ink- Shaeffer Blue-Black- but with more variation in the shades. This is what I came up with, and I'm pretty happy with it:

California Red & Alpaca

It was a challenge to dye- I decided the only way to ensure the colors came out more or less the same was to dye the whole 20 oz all at one time- and my dyepot is not that big- so I dip-dyed it and it worked just how I hoped. The skeins are not all exactly alike, but they are all similar enough that I don't have to worry about obvious, abrupt changes between skeins. In fact even the pooling is very well-behaved.

I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish a whole DK sweater in one month, so for the last 10 days I haven't touched any of my other WIP's and I have knitted like a fiend.

Calligraphy Cardigan

Um, I think I'll be ok. I might even consider picking up another project to give myself a stockinette break, because it does get boring, and my hand hurts after a while. (You know, like after three or four hours.) I love this sweater, though, and it fits perfectly (yay top-down!) and I am looking forward to wearing it this fall.

And I'm so, so glad I persevered with that awful fleece.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Good Week

This morning, we had a real treat!

Hot Air Ballons

Some hot air balloons soared over our place. I don't know why, but even cynical old me gets excited about these. Benny, of course, immediately wanted to get into one- although when they lit up the fire it freaked him out a bit. It looked like they landed in one of the fields just past 12 Mile Coulee Road, so they were quite low.

This week I managed to get quite a lot done. First, I dug up some lilac suckers which were spreading out underneath the deck. I could just barely reach the one, and discovered a second one which I moved as well. I added them to the row of lilacs I got from my dad last summer.


I had hesitated because I wasn't sure if they'd be "exactly" the same- they're probably different varieties- but I won't be going to Winnipeg this summer and won't be getting more from Dad, so I decided to just plant the rest of the row from my own suckers.

I also hoed up the back garden bed. I had planted some icelandic poppy seeds, but saw no evidence of them (we were hit with a deluge the next day, so I think the seeds washed away). There were a bunch of weeds, so I hoed up the whole thing and put in some annuals I had started from seed, and covered it with mulch, which I have found to be a decent weed suppressant.

Back Garden

There's also some nasturtiums that are getting started, rhubarb, and lilies. Only one raspberry survived the trip from Winnipeg and the winter, but everything else survived.

The lamium is blooming at the back:


and another columbine is starting to open at the front. I looked for buds, and it looks like in the next few weeks, the garden is really going to get gorgeous. I can't wait!

I also got some things going on my wheel. I am getting a little tired of combing all that wool and alpaca together, so I'm taking a break and spinning up some shetland I dyed.



I think I'll chain ply it.

I finished off one of my Ann Cecilia socks (except for the grafting):

Ann Cecilia Socks

And some nice stuff is coming out of the dye pot.

Sock Spinner Set
Sock Spinner Set in Teal Deer, wool/nylon 75/25, two 2oz braids.

Sock Spinner Set
Sock Spinner Set in Golden Rule, wool/nylon 75/25, two 2oz braids.

Blue Faced Leicester, 4oz.

Wensleydale, 4oz.

I've got some alpaca going and a few more braids drying. I love making pretty braids!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Message From the Void

It has been ages since I've had time to so much as photograph my garden, or spend much time at my wheel. I started a new job this month, so the last week and a half have been very full, exhausting, and good. My spinning has dropped off, as well as knitting, gardening, and sleep. However, yesterday I was done at five, and today and tomorrow are FREEEEEEEE! so, here is an update.

Corner Flower Bed

Even though I wasn't around to weed, coddle, or encourage my front flower bed at all, it is doing well. (I admit, I killed some catepillars which like to nom on the delphiniums and prevent them from forming flower spikes.) Those delphiniums will start blooming in a week or two, and there are some campanula behind them which might start this week. (yes, I know, I have to  move them. Next spring.)

Before I Got Hired, I started widening the front flower bed. (This remained an embarrassing mess for the better part of two weeks while I waited for the rain to cooperate with my days off.) This is how it looked last spring:
Flower bed inside the front fence

And now:
Front Flower Bed

The irises are planted where the wild rose bush was, to give you an idea.

These columbines just started opening:


And there is another one with yellow that is about to open. These pictures don't do justice to the garden- there are grape hyacinths, lilacs, lamium, and vinca blooming; the sunflowers that reseeded themselves are getting taller, the rosebushes, lilies, larkspur, pinks, and salvia are just about to bloom, and all the nasturtium seeds are coming up and growing quickly.

On the knitting front, I joined an alphabetical Knit-A-Long (which we are calling the AlphabetiKAL, lol), wherein we begin a pattern with the letter A in this month, B in July, C in August, etc. (The rules are way more relaxed than that. I think if you have an A somewhere in the project or yarn it's enough.) My project for June is the Acanthus Shawlette (in Curious Creek Meru):

Acanthus Shawlette

Way more of it is done, but this gives you an idea. I thought I would be done by now, but I did Get Hired. And this is NOT a traveling project.

I also started a pair of Ann Cecilia socks, but I don't have a good picture of them. They are a good traveling project, and when there are no customers at work I can take them out and put on a few rows.

I also learned how to comb wool this month. I got a pair of Louet mini-combs and did up some alpaca from a fleece I was going to blog about. (sigh). I'm sure you'll hear about it sooner or later, because it's an awesome fleece.

Right now I have taken Fiona's fleece (some of which I dyed pink) and some white alpaca, and started combing them together.


I loved the sample so much I am filling my bobbin with singles...


The only thing I dislike about combing is that it seems to have a lot more waste than carding. I don't know if it's just me or if that's normal, but it bugs me. It looks like the combs are getting the neps and VM out nicely, but a lot of good fibers get stuck in there with them. I'm keeping the leftovers and I might use them for needle felting or stuffing.

I hope to get to finish up my shawl and socks, but I think the next few days will be a whirlwind of laundry and vacuuming. I'll be spinning a bit, and hopefully I'll get in another blog post this week.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finally Finished That Fleece!

Finally! A new post! And even better, I am finally done spinning enough of the California Red fleece for a sweater.

California Red & Alpaca

It's not the greatest picture, but that there is 21 oz, or about 600 grams, and 1955 yards of three ply. I am jumping around for joy, and I hardly know what to do with myself now that this is done! (Besides dyeing it, of course...) I was aiming for six four ounce hanks, which would have brought  me up to about 2100 yards, but I checked the yardage requirements for my size and there's no way it's going to take more than 1800 yards to make myself a sweater.

I weighed my bag of alpaca fleece, and amazingly there's not even 2 ounces of alpaca blended into that. Way less than I thought, and it made a huge difference to the spinning.

My next spinning project? Yikes, I think I'm going to stick with combed top for a while. I have some Spunky Club stuff that I have been longing to get to, and a bump of BFL/silk I dyed myself which I could not let go of. However, I'm looking forward to spinning that new fleece in my closet, so it won't be too long before I'm carding again.

I have also been very busy in the garden, planting and weeding and digging stuff. It is so wonderful to see all the perennials I put in last year come up. The saskatoons and currants are blooming like crazy, the lilac is just about to open, and the sunflowers have re-seeded themselves, which suits a lazy gardener like me. I love comparing how the yard looked last spring to this.

A very unhappy rock and weed garden in May 2011:
Corner flower bed

A very happy flower garden now:
Front Corner Flower Bed

This picture was taken a week ago now, and things are even bigger, and I've put in a few annuals. I always wish there were more flowers at this time of year, so I might put in some anemones or pushkinia for more early blooms.

Last year, I put a miniature columbine in the rock garden by the back door, and it's doing so well I'm going to gather the seeds and plant more in that area. I think they'll look really nice blooming away in between the tulip time and iris time- and probably longer. I guess I'd also better get some glads in there so I have something to look forward to in August.


Oh, and I did finish the felted bum basket- it's so funny! and cute! The boys both asked for one, and I want to make some moebius baskets for their teachers, so I'd better get on with my knitting...

Moebius Bum Basket

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day!

Last night, we celebrated mother's day with big bowls of butter chicken and chocolate mousse. Today, I intend to celebrate by spinning a lot. Shocking, I know. I can feel the waves of disbelief funneling through the internets at me. I also have a moebius bum basket started, and I still need to sew the zipper onto my felted wallet, so I'll probably work on those this afternoon while I'm at the yarn store.

I know how to party.

Pink Tulips!

"Is there, when the winds are singing 
In the happy summer time,-
When the raptured air is ringing
With Earth's music heavenward springing,
Forest chirp, and village chime,-
Is there, of the sounds that float
Unsighingly, a single note
Half so sweet, and clear, and wild
As the laughter of a child?"

from The Mother's Hope, by Laman Blanchard.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Felted Things

It's a pretty cold and windy day, so I've been amusing myself with all sorts of indoorsy things- like carding, dyeing, laundry, and my newest obsession: felting and moebius knitting. I'll be teaching a class on May 26 at Make One Yarns on the Moebius cast-on , so I figured I should get Cat Bordhi's A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting and ramp up my moebius skills. Boy, has it been fun- and as a bonus, I've developed a love affair with felting.

It began with a simple attempt to unvent a moebius basket- which resulted in this:

felted moebius basket

An item which looks somewhat like a large, floppy shoe, but in reality comfortably holds a cake of yarn and WIP. I made it somewhat differently from the book using short rows, so it is long and rectagular, not round. I have a few other ideas for different shapes banging around in my head, but I can't knit as quickly as I can think them up!

One thing I love about Cat Bordhi's book is her clear and thorough instructions for wet felting things. I have felted the occasional thing, but not in the washing machine, because I didn't want to wreck it. (Either the machine or the item!) After following the instructions to felt a little wallet, I made this:

felted wallet

Yeah, I picked up a needle felting kit too- and I can't believe how much I love it! Which is great, because I hate intarsia, but I like having motifs and pretty things added here and there.

Next, I felted a little disc of knitting, thinking I would make a set of coasters. It turned out a little large for a coaster, but being wool it will be great for a hot pad or just a pretty accent:

Delft-style hot pad

This was done with Lopi, which produces an unbelievable and unexpected halo!

Next, I knitted up a moebius basket, a la Cat Bordhi:

Moebius basket


This one was done with Berroco Peruvia Quick, and it took a little more than one ball. I think this yarn is a little thicker than two strands of Cascade, which is what is recommended, but it sure felted up like a dream.

I'm going to needle felt a swirl on this.

Felted Moebius basket

Did you know it's actually kind of hard to blow up a balloon inside a basket? I think I'll let the kids have the pleasure of popping it when it's dry. Wait, no, there's only one balloon... two of them... how could I think that would end well?

There are going to be more, many more of these. How can I not give them to the boys' teachers for the end of the year gift? They will love this! However, I think the next moebius adventure upon which I will embark will be The Bum Basket.  My kids have each noisily requested one- well, really, one of those and one of everything else in the book. Time to get knitting!