Sunday, August 31, 2008

Approaching Fall

I was going to write that I don’t have much to share this week. On second thoughts, perhaps I do.

I’ve had a busy week at work, conducting Health Trainings for teachers, trying to plan for the start of school this week. It has been a week of tragedy for me and one of my co-workers. She got news that a close family member was very ill and had to leave the country to be with family. I received news that my Godmother passed away. She was 82. She had Alzheimer’s. I’m just thankful, my mother, who was one of her best friends since childhood, and I had a chance to see her in January. We drove down to San Diego where she was living in an assisted living center. It still confounds me how her daughters could send her so far away from friends and family in Los Angeles County. At that time, she remembered us and was happy to see us. The memorial service was very nice, much nicer than I expected.

On the crafting front, I’ve been knitting baby booties and spinning mohair. I haven’t felt like doing much else. I’ve been too tired.

Now that Fall is about to start, I am going to have to start thinking about making Christmas gifts. I want to try to make things from my stash. Can I do it? It’s a mighty thing to consider. Neverthless, I really need to make an effort to use my stash or I will be forced to give it away.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ravelympics Closing Ceremonies

Ravelympics close

Out of the 4 projects I planned to complete from my Event WIP (Work in Progress) Wrestling for the Ravelympics 08, I finished 3. So I have earned “3” Gold Medals and posted my Bobicus Avatar on my blog. Bob is the Ravelry dog and Mascot. Isn’t he cute?

The main one was the Cotton Sampler Vest. It came out beautifully. It is somewhat big but for me this is what I like. I think I was meant to finish it at this time. When I began it several years ago, I weighed less and it would have been like a balloon and I would have tossed it then. Having gain 10 or so pounds over the years, this Vest now fits me better. The different stitch patterns were very interesting to do. It was a mix of easy, such as the Box lace pattern to a Medium difficulty of Feather and Fan, and to the more difficult Arrowhead lace pattern. Unfortunately, it does not progress in the order of difficulty. The expertise level of the pattern was “Intermediate” and I think this was correct. I would not recommend this pattern to a beginner.

My second project was the Pinwheel Baby Blanket I was making for my new grandson, who was born Aug 19. It was a lot of stockinette with yarn over increases to increase the circular blanket. I was trying to estimate how big to make it. It ended up being over 500 stitch and about 4 ft diameter. I added an easy crochet lattice border which came out quite nice and helped the edges from curling. I wet blocked it, but it probably need a little steam blocking to relax the curl more. I love the light green color.

The third project was finished the Baby Kimono from Mason Dixon Knitting. I made it with Sugar and Cream Cotton that I had handpainted with green and pink Procion MX dyes. This knitted up fast, but I’m not a big finisher and put off sewing it up until now. I think next time I would make it in a sport weight cotton rather than worsted weight. It seems thick to me for a baby.

Introducing the newest member of our family B.A. H. Weighed 8 lb 10 oz. 22 inches long, just
like his dad, my eldest son.
He has a lot of hair, but this tends to run in my family. Mom and baby are doing very well and his sister is happy too.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Doll Clothes

Here I lay 12:30 on a Friday night, oops Saturday morning, just full of thoughts….Where do I start?

As the birth of my grandson approaches…on Tuesday, the waiting has got me very ansy. It’s sort of like being pregnant myself, the nesting sets in and you want to do things like cleaning and making things, to bide your time until the blessed event happens. It’s like a mother hen knitting while waiting for her chickens to hatch. No one told me this happens to grandmothers too.

I have been meditating on my granddaughter lately. What will she think of a new baby brother? Will she be jealous? Will she be gentle with the baby? I gave her a new baby doll and doll stroller for her to be busy with while mommy takes care of the new baby.

This worked well for my boys when they were 2 ½ yrs old and taught them how to be caring fathers. Well, at least my eldest remembered this lesson in nuturing his daughter. The other’s have yet to have a real experience, but they are very caring and playful with children and babies. Even my youngest son took his turn as a toddler in dressing the baby doll until he started school and lost interest. Look!, I don't think he forgot the experience either. Here he is with baby C, my granddaughter at 1 week old.

Anyways, a doll is only interesting for so long. What keeps a little girl’s interest in a toy? Something new, like …….new clothes? So my knitting has detoured a bit, while I am sewing some new clothes for my granddaughter’s new doll. I used to make clothes for my dolls as a child and my sons’ baby doll when I was a young mother. So I dusted off my sewing machine and searched around for some left over scraps of fabric. I purchased a Simplicity pattern to make doll clothes.

Remember when life was so self productive?. Heaven forbid that the youth today would have the skill or even the passion to learn how to sew doll clothes? They would rather buy it at Walmart or go to the Mall, or better yet order it on Ebay! What a shame for this generation to have lost a valued character trait called “resourcefulness” that our parents, who had experienced the Depression, took time to remind us Baby Boomers about, as we grew up.

I started making some outfits for a medium size doll about 16”. I couldn’t remember the exact size. As I finished the first outfit, I realized it was probably going to be big. The first outfit was a Fleece Jacket and pants set made out of some left over Black Fabric. It actually looks like a Ninja Suit. I added a removable hood. Well, if the doll can’t wear it, perhaps the new baby can.

Today, using the small doll pattern, I made a cute pink print dress, with white tights. I love this outfit, my favorite. I love the trellis of little red roses.
The next outfit I just finished as midnight was approaching was a little white blouse and rose colored jumper. Tomorrow I will try to make a sleeper suit. I plan to go to my granddaughter’s house for delivery on Sunday.

This has been very fun and I hope my granddaughter likes the new clothes. One thing about the experience is that I remembered why I do not sew much anymore. These old eyes are shot! It is getting harder to thread a needle and on a sewing machine, one does that a lot. Perhaps this is why I picked up again “knitting”. Knitting is so much easier on the eyes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts of Enlightenment

I had a thought of enlightenment today!

How does one know when they are a fiberholic? When one gazes at the clouds in the sky during sunset and sees fluffs of teased mohair locks ready to be spun. Can you tell which one is the fiber and which are the clouds? If I wasn’t there myself, it would be very hard to tell.

Answer: On the left are the clouds, the right are the mohair locks.

My babies….the Gerber daisies are needing a lot of care. I had to buy a flower spray to kill the white flies that were attacking them. Many of them cannot cope with more that 3 hours of sun. They suffer sun exhaustion and drop so sadly. I am hoping that if I keep them somewhat watered they will be able to get through the hot sun.

So what do I know about a drip irrigation systems? ….Absolutely nothing. To Home Depot I go, and low and behold I find the perfect system, “Drip Irrigation for Dummies”!. Perfect! It has everything I need. I plan it out and cut the hose to the proper lengths and connect everything and hope for the best. Everything worked except one connection, but with my husband’s help we fixed the leak and where in business.

I had a lovely lunch out with two of my friends from high school. We shared what was going on in our lives and compared each other’s grey hair that our grown kids seem to be giving us. The fact that the years are passing ever so quickly now, simply seemed to escape our thoughts. ;) I wish I had remembered to take a picture. We need to meet up more often.

Ravelympics: I am on the home stretch for my Sampler Vest. I finished the Button band and one armhole. I will start and hopefully finish the other armhole tonight, weave in the ends and sew these cute daisy buttons on. I must be in a happy mood, or be obsessed with daisies this summer. I am really liking being home on vacation. It is going to be hard to go back to work on Monday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Vacation Garden

In my quest to go through my vacation list, I was able to check off another item: Plant a flower bed. I have a flower bed that has been neglected for the past 6 month growing wild asylum and marigolds. I was determine this week to condition the flower bed and plant some nice summer flowers. I haven’t had much of a “green thumb” in the past, especially since I’ve been working full time. Yet, I want to try again to celebrate the color in my life.

I made a trip to Home Depot and picked out some very colorful Gerber daisies. Without knowing much about the care of such plant I purchased about 8 pots of them in a variety of colors. These flowers seem to have a life and personality of their own. I’m not kidding! Since planting them I have found that they don’t like much direct sun and they are very thirsty. After a few hours in the intense sun they start to droop and wilt. If I notice this in time, I give them a drink and once the 12:00 noon shade hits them they perk up, straightening their flower stems and opening their flowers like a “happy smile” that daisies are known for. Luckily, they only have direct sun for about 6 hours and the rest of the day they are in shade. They are aptly named “Gerber daisy” because they are so cute and beautiful like a cute Gerber baby and need attentive care. They are going to be my “babies”.

Ravelolympics progress

I’m almost done with the main body knitting of the cotton Sampler Vest. I have a few more rows of the right front shoulder and will be starting the Button hole band. I have found, however, that this project has not been the greatest to watch the Olympics with. I have made repeated stupid mistakes that were easily fixable. However, the Olympics has been getting more exciting and often distracts me when I need to concentrate on my project. I really enjoyed the Swimming Freestyle Relay Final last night! It was so exciting! Go USA!!!!


I mentioned before that I have all of this mohair fiber and was feeling, as I washed it, that I really needed to do something with it. The staple length was about 6-7 inches and I knew it would be impossible to card with my drum carder. So I decide to flick it open with a flicker brush and spin from the open locks. I wanted a very soft yarn so I set my spinning wheel to a low ratio about 5:1 on my Joy Spinning Wheel. I treddled very slow to make a very fuzzy low twist type of yarn. One of the disadvantages of this is that it tends to fall apart easily. I wondered if I could set the twist in singles, but thought that with the low twist it would not keep the yarn together. I decided to 2-ply it to make it a stronger yarn. After setting the twist, it ended up into a lovely soft yarn with lots of luster. WOW! I still trying to figure out what I will make out of this. Any suggestions? :) Yes, it feels as soft as it looks!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Let the RavelOlympics Begin!!!!

The Bejing Olympics have started and the Opening Ceremonies were absolutely glorious. So, therefore the RavelOlympics are officially started.

Fifteen minutes before midnight last night I was reading the Forums and noticed that the RavelOlympics group added WIP Wrestling, allowing for works in progress projects as an event. I had already joined the UFO Olympics, whose sign ups had closed a week ago. So I caved and joined both adding a few more UFOs to my proposed projects. So now I am part of both groups.

I am making good progress. These are my list of UFOs to complete within 17 days, until the Olympic flame goes out in Bejing.
1) Cotton Sampler Vest
2) Pomotamus Socks
3) Baby Kimono
4) Pinwheel Baby Blanket

It seems that some Ravelers have already completed their projects and received their medals. The daily update noted a very entertaining Youtube video from one of the contestants.
I hope you will enjoy it as much and I did.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Soy Fiasco!

I feel like I’m in a race to reduce my fiber stash. If I wanted to be in a race, I probably should have joined the Tour de Fleece last month. I am trying to spin as much as I can before the start of the Olympics tomorrow at 8:00 pm PST. When the Olympics start I will be working on my knitted Sampler Vest, trying to be dedicated to the craft of knitting until I finish. I really need to finish it. It has been sitting in my closet for years unfinished.

The dyed merino I spun up yesterday came out beautifully. I can’t wait to make some socks out of it.

I ran across a small 2 oz. bag of Dyed Soy Silk I had purchased about a year ago. I cannot remember which festival. I thought, well, here’s my chance to spin this up. Sooo… how to I spin it? It’s too small an amount to do much of anything. I decided to spin it fine for a small knitted purse or something like that.
Spinning with Soy is much easier than real silk as it doesn’t snag on every little skin imperfection or jagged nail of your fingers. It seemed strong enough although I did break the thread once. I ended up with a 97 yd skein that was about 18 wraps per inch, which is about lace weight yarn. Since I was unfamiliar with this fiber, I decided to set the twist in luke warm water and OMG!!! It started to BLEED!!!! This was no minor bleeding. A lot of color came out, almost as much as if I were dying it, and this was the first rinse. I emptied the sink and this time I used cold water. Still bled. The next rinse I decided to put some vinegar into the water hoping to fix the dye better on the fiber. This seemed to work a little….there was less dye bleeding.
The last rinse was somewhat less bleeding but there was still some turquoise in the water. I will need to remember not to make any clothing or combine it with a white color in my knitting. So what happened?……I do know that not all wool dyes are effective on cellulose or plant fibers. Perhaps the Dyer didn’t know this? I didn’t take the time to ask what kind of dye this fiber was dyed with.

Lessons learned: (1) Ask vendor what kind of dye was used to dye the skein, if home made. (2) Beware of soy silk in very vibrant colors. (3) I’m glad I didn’t invest in a pound of this stuff. 4) I wonder if all soy yarn behaves like this....if so, how dreadful! I won't be buying soy much any more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Vacation List

I’m on vacation! I have two whole weeks all to myself. Yea! Being the anal retentive person I am, I made a list of the things I want to accomplish: one for work (yes, I brought home work to do. Deadlines never go on vacation), one for projects for home and one for fun.

While on vacation, I took the opportunity to AGAIN, go through all my animal fibers in storage. Fiber consisted of wool, alpaca, mohair, dog and any other fiber not spun yet into yarn. I made piles of white, greys, dark to black and a small pile of browns. I put dyed colored fibers into a separate pile. I should do this at least every six months in order to examine it for bug infestation, but most of all to keep my addiction to buying more fiber on ebay to a controllable level. This activity has cured my desire to buy another fleece this time around. Conclusion: No more buying fleeces. I have enough fiber to keep me busy processing for at least 5 more years. While going through my fiber stash I noticed a lonely unwashed fleece needing some attention and decided to wash it. At first I couldn’t remember what kind of fleece it was. It was long and shiny with wavy locks. There was a note in it saying it was sheared in 2006 and the animal’s name was Kate.

I separated it into locks, put it into netted laundry bags and soaked it in the washer with hot water mixed with Ovus Paste for about 1 hour and put it through the spin cycle to get most of the water out of it. Some parts were very dirty and it took about 3 washes and rinses to get it somewhat clean. Some parts, I will need to comb out to loosen the dirt, especially those on the tips. As the fleece was drying, I realized what kind of fiber it was…….Mohair. I have so much mohair, I don’t know what to do with. Soon, it will overtake the wool. Perhaps it’s time for a swap or a give-away?

I have been spinning some of the merino roving I dyed a few months back. I am trying to spin it fine to make some sock yarn. I really liked the colors. I hope it will spin up into something I can make socks out of, at least some anklets.

I have been perusing through my knitting books again. This is a very dangerous thing to do because it inspires me to start something new. I was leafing through my Elizabeth Zimmerman books. I caught site of “The Bog Jacket” in Knitting Around and thought perhaps my son Scott might like this style. It looks like a square piece of fabric cut at the halfway point for underarms and folded over to make kimono style arms and sewn together. Looks easy enough but it is all in garter stitch. Thought I’d try to make a miniature version before committing to an adult size. I found some Knit Picks Swish, a superwash merino in my stash and cast on for a child’s size jacket. The garter stitch which is straight knitting is so boring. I wish there was someway to jazz it up as I go. This has become my traveling knitting as I don’t need any concentration to knit this. The other night as I was having trouble falling asleep, I turned out the light, turned my Ipod on and knitted away until I drifted off to dreamland.

I’m counting down the days for the Olympics. I’ve joined the UFO Olympics to finish a Sampler knitted vest. I can’t start it until the Olympics start and must finish when it finishes. I really need to knuckle down and finish my projects. They are getting a little numerous and tying up my needles. I just don’t have the heart to frog them. Perhaps this Olympics will help me learn to be project monogamous…….not!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer Birthdays

We had a lovely family gathering to celebrate my son Robby and granddaughter's birthday. They are 25 years apart born on the same day! Grandaughter is two and so you can guess how old Robby is.

Can you tell she likes SpongeBob?!

We barbequed hamburgers and hot dogs. While to old folk chatted and caught up with each other's lives, the youngins played games and we all took turns chasing after granddaughter C.
Here is Robby with cousin K.

C. was lovely in her red dress.

This was also a impromptu Baby shower for new grandson to be born on August 14. Everyone had a great time. Here's some family pictures.