Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fiber Friday

Have It Your Way

Up until now, I'd been unfamiliar with the practice of re-skeining my hand dyed yarn. Like the originator of a great recipe always leaves a little something out so that the imitators will never be quite like the original, Chris was holding out on me. She's so like that. So, as if you haven't heard or seen enough about our recent hand dyeing session, I give you some of my yarns in three different ways.

Dyed, dried and skeined.

Pull skeins


Re-skeining involved putting the skein back on my yarn swift and winding it into a pull skein. This was an unnecessary step; however, I wanted to see what the skein looked like in a pull skein, or cake. From there, I wound the yarn back on to a niddy-noddy. My niddy-noddy is home-made, made of five pieces of PVC piping and two "T" connectors. The goal of re-skeining is to get the sections of color to mix better and not just appear as big globs of color in one section.

I definitely think re-skeining is worth the effort, especially if the yarn is a gift. Even if I'm the only one whose going to look at it, I'd still re-skein it though. Do you have a favorite?

See you Monday.

Check Ups x 2

"Uh oh, Tig. The carry crate is out. Let's just ignore it."

"Or, you could just climb on top of it, I guess."

"Oh ISH!! She's collecting things out of the litter box! Yea, we're definitely going to the vet today."

"Not me. I'm staying home to keep an eye on the chipmunks outside. Someone has to make sure they don't fall down the window well again."

"Don't worry, Tig. Maybe she'll open the window and you can stick your head out like a dork!"

"If she opens the window AND this crate, I'm so out of here - dork!!"

"We're here, we're here! I LOVE this place. They have treats and people and smells!" Holli
"Oh, the indignity." Tigger

Yea - the vet's name is really Hotvet. Kinda makes you think he really had no choice at all in the matter doesn't it?

Time for the heartworm test. "Be right back mom - I'm going back behind this magic door where they have treats!"

" Is this my good side?"

"Stupid dog - if she just stayed in this room she'd get the wonderful massages. Lower, lower, ahhhhh, there, right there."

"Shots my ass!! No one mentioned shots! Where's that stupid dog now. I'm not coming out and you can't make me!"

Two hours, $300, treats, healthy animals. No humans were harmed during the production of this photo essay.

See you tomorrow.

Twinkling the Ivories

It's recital season. And not just for Kathryn, but for me too. Some of you know that I started taking piano lessons a year and a half ago - for the first time ever. Last night was our Spring Piano Recital. Taking piano lessons as an adult is hard. Really hard. Our brains don't function the same way as they did when we were younger. It's much more difficult to for us to take in and process new information such as piano and foreign languages. And face it, as an adult and parent, whenever I sit down to practice or go to my lesson, I can think of 50 things I either should or could be doing with that time. I really have to tell myself that this is a valuable use of my time. But I have my inspirations.

This is Katy. She is also an adult student at our studio. She performed at Kathryn's first recital. While the other adults in attendance cringed as she played, I was inspired to ask her about her experience and if she thought taking piano lesson was fun. She said all the right things. Among them, the opportunity to take lessons with her teenage sons.

My piano teacher is Ms. Laura. She is wonderful. She holds me accountable but still understands that occasionally I have grown-up issues that interfere with piano. She also understand that I am both a student and a parent of a student and that is a unique position as well. Ms. Laura knows that I am a knitter and wherever possible will help me approach learning piano as I might in tackling a new or difficult knitting challenge. I have a tendency to look at the whole thing and want to dive right in and do it all at once - in piano and knitting. She's made me a better knitter through this as well. "Slow down and just read through the piece with your hands at your side. Look at the key signature. Do you have all the information you need to play this piece? Are their measures that are repeated? Is their something in the piece you don't understand or will need to practice?" This is what I hear now when I pick up a knitting pattern for the first time. Ms. Laura encouraged me to bring my knitting to the recital last night so I would have something to keep my nerves calm before I played. It worked! I was amazed. The only hard part was putting it down every 20 seconds or so to applaud wildly for the many young kids since most of the studio is comprised of grade school children. I'm their biggest fan!!

So, I made a few mistakes last night, but you'd only have heard them if you know the piece, Largo (from No. 5, "From the New World) by Antonin Dvorak. But all in all, I was quite proud. Kathryn sailed through hers - of course - she's a kid! She wasn't worried about what's for dinner or how to get both animals to the vet today for their annual check-ups!

Me and some of my peeps
Kathryn, my nieces Emily and Elizabeth (also students) Ms. Laura, some strange grandpa

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dye Day

It was one of those days that just didn't start right for me. I woke up with a migraine which I had a hard time shaking. The weather didn't appear as if it would cooperate for setting up on the porch, which is preferable, but the kitchen still works. The trip to the grocery store resulted in a mildly panicked call to Chris to recheck the dos and don'ts of gluten-free living. Fret, fret, fret.

By the time the girls arrived the weather was looking up and we re-located to the porch. Chris was prepared and ready to get down to work, while Jeanne and I paced waiting for inspiration. She found here first. I'll just tell you that when Jeanne looks for inspiration - she goes right to the masters. And yes, there are 7 color cups in front of her.

This is a portion of what was accomplished over the course of the day.

And this is my small portion of it.

So while it looks like a lot of yarn was dyed, some other wonderful things happened too. And a day that started out dull and funky for me, ended bright and cheery surrounded by good friends, laughter, and knowing that we'll have the opportunity to do it all over again!!

See you tomorrow.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Fiber Friday

It's kind of like this but with out the lines.

It's a lot like this but your colors will mix much better.

50% Silk, 50% Merino, 219 yards, 3.5 oz /100 g skein
Andromeda is a single strand yarn that knits like butter. These 3 precious skeins were given to me by Jeanne way back in January when we celebrated our birthdays together. We're the same age - right Jeanne? I've been saving these for a very important day - tomorrow. The Usual Suspects will convene at my house for our first dyeing session.

Oh, the possibilities!

Amy, Miss T, the invitation is always open for you to join us. Have a wonderful long weekend. Take a moment at some point to remember those who have served.

See you Tuesday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Morning After

Although the threat of severe storms such as we experienced yesterday afternoon has passed, no one told Holli. This is where she'll stay for most of the day today. I believe that most animals are prescient beings; Holli was pacing and anxious for at least 30 minutes before the storm really hit yesterday. She sat in my lap on the drive to school to pick up Kathryn during the worst of the storm (yea, it's possible for a 65 pound dog to get in your lap in the bucket seat of an SUV- not comfortable - but possible).

We came home from school and Holli immediately went to her "den", under my desk, her safe place. The storm had passed, but there she stayed. So while animals may be able to predict what is coming, they really can't tell what is in the here and now or what has happened. And here she'll stay - just in case the big scary thing comes back.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I got to thinking how much I really like knitting for babies. Their stuff is small and can be finished quickly. You can use and play with really nice yarn without spending a whole lot of money. For the most part, the parents are appreciative of the efforts. But, I'm out of babies.

I know that there are any number of worthy charitable organizations who would gladly accept knitted baby items as donations. But, I need to know the hopes and dreams of the parents when I knit for their child. I need to picture the face, fingers, and toes of a child I'll eventually know and hold when I knit for him or her. Selfish, I'm sure but I could get over it.

I could get over it if I had the right parents to think about as I was knitting for their upcoming child. Like say, these soon to be parents........

So, are you in? Knit some baby items for Chloe and Morris' baby. Then donate them to whichever cause is near and dear to you. I'm calling it "The 24 Baby Knitting Shower". I may be the only one doing it - but at least I know the parents.

"You're going to have to trust me" - I didn't spoil anything.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm a Genius AND and Idiot!

Monday has become errand day. Not because I'm that organized or anal that I have a day set aside for errands but because I'm forced out of the house on Mondays. The neighbors on three sides of us have a lawn service crew that shows up at 10 AM and don't finish until somewhere around 4:00 PM. It's the loudest, most annoying, group of mowers, blowers, hedgers, and trimmers on the planet. It's easier to just leave than try to move from room to room and avoid the noise. When I rule the world, lawn mowing will be done on Saturday mornings between 9 and 12 by dads or sons on their John Deere tractors. But, I digress.
One of the errands yesterday was a trip to the fabric store to pick out the lining for the Larger Than Life Bag. Of course, this was made infinitely more difficult because I didn't bring the granny squares or the yarn or anything to help with the fabric selection. I guess I thought it would just come to me?? I paced through the aisles for what seemed like an hour. I had nothing to go by and no idea what was going to work but also knew I just wanted to be done with this because fabric stores make my eyes burn. Finally in complete frustration, I just picked three things that didn't suck as bad as most of the other things and that didn't have Strawberry Shortcake on them.

OK - well that worked out pretty well. Wait, I think the bag requires a zipper or some kind of closure. But again, no magazine to look up materials. Hancock Fabrics doesn't carry Interweave Crochet - just in case you were wondering!! I really do not want to come back here....Oh, I know. My phone, Palm Treo 650, has a web browser! Log on to Interweave, check the materials listing for the bag, I need an 18 inch zipper. Yes! I am a genius. Are you with me on the idiot part yet?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tag - Nobody Else Is It

OK - I'm getting this out of the way so that we can all get back to knitting, spinning, and other fiber related business. Plus, I think I'm the only one left who hasn't revealed 7 useless random facts about themselves. I was tagged by Connie, who obviously thinks I'm more interesting than I really am.

Here goes:

  1. I have a gaping hole in my mouth where tooth number 30 used to live. Despite 3 root canals, life saving measures were ceased and the tooth was sent to the tooth fairy. I am awaiting an implant. Jon is VERY excited. I haven't told him the implant is going in the place where the tooth used to be.
  2. I am the oldest of six children, the first five of whom are all 1 year apart in age, then a 3 year gap until you get to "the baby". Our given names all begin with "D". Our nicknames growing up all began with "B". I grew up thinking my mom stuttered as she struggled though the list of names to get to whomever she was yelling for (or at).
  3. I hate peppers. All peppers - green, yellow, orange, red. I think they are pretty and I've tried them but I just cannot tolerate their flavor in foods.
  4. I am addicted to any TV show that starts with "Law & Order". In particular I like to see how many times people show up in different episodes, cross between shows, show up on other TV shows years later etc.
  5. I was married once before this time. His name was John. It makes things really easy around here because I can be bad with names at times. The current Jon is lovingly referred to as "No H" by my family. I makes him feel special. Not so much like a toilet.
  6. I started taking piano lessons 2 years ago. Piano is hard - really hard - especially for an adult. If I practiced piano as much as I practice knitting, I'd be so good!
  7. If you are standing at the foot of a bed looking toward the headboard, I always have to sleep on the right hand side of the bed. I sleep mostly on my right side because if I sleep on my left side I hear my heartbeat or pulse too loudly and then I start listening to it and counting it and it keeps me awake.

There. Now let's get back to the good stuff.

No pictures of the dance recital because it would be too distracting to take flash photos during the dances (I paid how much over the course of the year??) but I'll leave you with pictures of the two most important things I think we can teach our daughters - things I don't remember being taught.

Teach them how to put on mascara the right way.

Teach them the value of girlfriends. This is Heather. Heather has been Kathryn's babysitter for five years. Now she is more like her big "sis". That's what they call each other. She is a wonderful role model and mentor. But to Kathryn, she is just a girlfriend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fiber Friday

Alchemy Yarns, Monarch
70% cashmere, 30% silk; 156 yards/skein;color 36c Dylan's Blue Depths

Just how does a person forget that they have this little gem in their stash? You barely feel it when you pick it up in your hands. When you brush it against your cheek or neck you can just tell it's destined for some lacy goodness that you wear for only those most special of occasions. Like -- walking the dog, driving carpools, reading knitting blogs, going for coffee. You know what I mean.

It's dance recital weekend for Kathryn - five dances, two shows. Perhaps she'll let me share some pictures next week. She's pretty shy about these things. Join me in wishing that she "break a leg".

Have a wonderful weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

L 7...

... or welcome to "Squaresville". Inspired in large part by Vicki, and then by seeing the picture of the "Larger than Life" bag in the Spring Interweave Crochet magazine, I was lured into picking up the crochet hook and giving it a go.

I gathered the bucket of colorful yarn, all wound and ready to go. (Knees added for perspective.)

My sample was placed close by for ready inspection in case I need to refer back to it. (Again with the knees?)

Foot warmer.

Random number generator system for selecting color scheme of squares. This involved Scotch tape and a cat too. It was a tad messy and come to think of it, I haven't seen Tigger since the color scheme for the 3rd square was determined and that was last night. I think I'll get worried sometime around lunch today.

And by the time time Melinda was booted off American Idol ... squares!! Two and almost a third one. They really go quickly. I was catching myself thinking about what yarn I'd use for my next bag! Vicki pointed out here that "Larger than Life" is spreading like a fever. I've caught it!

Thanks for the sock yarn counts. I have some catching up to do it seems. Thanks too for the math check Amy - smart ass! To those of you afraid to count your sock yarn - just go buy more to cover up what you already have.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Feet or Pairs?

Carole, you saved my butt today! I was awake for a while this morning trying to come up with something to blog about. I'm eleven days into this blog-a-thon and already the ideas are drying up?? So, I got up, did the breakfast routine with Kathryn and had time to read only one blog - yours - before heading off to school. I think it was my chilly feet the whole way there and back that finally gave me the idea. You see, Carole overhauled her yarn stash recently and in so doing realized that she had enough sock yarn for 80 pair of socks; that's 160 feet. If she knit one sock a week, she could go for ... I don't have a calculator here to figure that out.
On the drive home from school I thought I'd do the same - except for the organizing part because it's pretty well organized now. But maybe count my sock yarn stash. I had absolutely no idea how much there would be but I knew it would be no where near Carole's 80 pair of socks. I quickly made my own rules for inclusion and exclusion. Included would be any yarn I bought specifically for socks, such as the two skeins of Noro Silk Garden Lite and Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, that others might not call sock yarn but I do. Excluded would be the partial skeins of sock yarn that have been relegated to the Log Cabin Blanket even though there is probably enough there for a bunch of socks. I had to promise myself to make a thorough and exhausting inventory of all the bins, baskets, nooks and crannies of the stash room. Oops, I forgot a few knitting bags... OK. Got it all.

30 pair, 60 feet! See - no where near Carole's. I'm just a "little" addicted - like being a "little" pregnant (which I'm not). But still - I'd have guessed maybe, 15 pair of socks, 30 feet. Just a "little" off. I dare you all to go count yours and report back. I bet you'll be surprised.

Local note: Check out Connie's article in this month's Yarnival.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Time To Knit

I've been blessed with a lot of time to knit lately. Large blocks of time have the added benefit of allowing me to concentrate on one project which means things actually get finished .. kind of.

This baby sweater in Sublime Merino Wool DK, color 19 is for Laura's new baby. Laura cuts and colors my hair. I hate the term "hairdresser", it sounds like she's 60. She's not; she's 24. Anyway, really, am I that desperate to knit that I'm now knitting for people with who I'm just casually acquainted? Like Jon's employee last week? Well, who cares - it's still knitting. So, the pieces are all done for this sweater but it takes too much concentration for the seaming so it couldn't be done last night during "24". FYI to the Usual Suspects, Season 6 comes out on video next Tuesday!

I've also been able to spend quite a bit of time practicing the Willow Block for the Larger Than Life Bag from the Spring Interweave Crochet, which will be coming out quarterly now - yea!!! Vicki recognized the blocks Tahki Cotton Classic right away last week. Perhaps because her bag inspired me to give it a go. I've practiced and practiced and I think I'm ready to try on the "real yarn" soon.
Just one more practice - well, I have the time. It's Tuesday, I have to go see the girls. I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2007

When the going gets tough ...

.. the tough bake.

These are my new favorite brownies. Since this is a package, it's probably not really "baking" - more like "mixing". But damn, these are so good. Their scone mixes are awesome as well.

Then there are my favorite cookies. I believe that if put something healthy into cookies, you negate all the unhealthy things about them.

I give you Cereal Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. Now, if you actually go look at that recipe you'll note that I have chocolate chips out and the recipe doesn't call for them. I also believe that all cookies should contain chocolate chips. So, ditch the raisins, add chocolate chips - 2 cups. Yes - cookies should have a lot of chocolate chips.

So grab your knitting, come on over and sit on the porch and knit with me for awhile. It's going to be a glorious day here.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fiber Friday

I have some recent fiber acquisitions to share this week. Amy and I made a trip to the Yarn Garage (yea - he's for real!) yesterday. It's a trip - both in terms of how far away it is from the western suburbs and the shop itself.
You could spend a the better part of an afternoon just wandering around the store, and still not find all the little gems they have packed in antique cabinets and dressers. Tons of hand dyed from the big guys and local artists as well.
I came away with this with no real project in mind (snicker):
Colourway Alizerine #119
Since we had to pass through Burnsville on our way home we decided to stop at Zandy's for a quick look around. A polar opposite to Yarn Garage, it was an equally enjoyable shopping experience. Zandy is charming and personable and was actually sitting and knitting with a customer when we came in to the store. She helped me pick out and then eliminate colors for a project. Any guesses?
Various colors
And because Becky called me the other day to tell me that the new Interweave Knits had arrived at the shop, well there's this:
Classic Elite Sundance
Color 6204 Cool Blue
It's always good to have your summer projects lined up. Especially on the 11th of May.
A few parting thoughts for the weekend: Tigger would like to thank everyone for their comments yesterday. He'd like you to know that he was neither drugged nor hypnotized for the photo shoot. He was a willing participant in the modeling. From kittyhood he has enjoyed playing dress-up with Kathryn and her friends. He'd appreciate it if you'd all keep that tid-bit away from your cats.
If you know anybody in the San Diego area who might be inclined to watch the Padres baseball game this evening, my niece Dana, who happens to be turning 11 years old today, is singing the National Anthem at the opening of tonight's game. It's part of a Catholic School's thing and she is singing with group but I'm just sure she'll be the best. Have them tune in!
Have a great weekend. See you on Monday.