Monday, December 20, 2010

A "Naomi" gift

It's that time of year when the world falls in love, every song your hear seems to say....Merry Christmas....

You know the tune, don't you?

I received a gift from my friend Michale for Christmas. I started doing some research on the artist that created it and you can see the present I received here. Take a look at her blog and her etsy site. She creates some incredible pieces of art.

The blog post is titled "Why I would like to be Purple". Very fitting for me - my favorite colors are anything purple, pink, bordeaux'ish, etc. You get the idea - look at the color I chose for my blog!

This is a perfect gift because in the past couple of months I have really become a fan of supported spindling. I love Russian spindles and absolutely love working on Tibetan spindles. It is such a relaxing way to spin!

This bag will be perfect for a spindle, bowl and fiber!

Thank you Michale. It was a very thoughtful gift. I now understand why you could not wait to give it to me!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My baby turns 16

Chase, my purebred Yorkshire Terrier, turns 16 today.

We all have memories associated with 9/11, mainly terrorist attack related.

For me 9/11 is very special because Chase was born on this day.

I bought my first house in May 1994. Most people are thrilled to buy their own home because it is a sign of success. I was thrilled because that it meant I could get a dog.

Growing up I loved animals, bugs, birds, etc. I felt a connection to all living things and dogs were at the top of that list.

I moved in to my home and settled in. In the fall I started thinking more seriously about getting a dog. I read books and researched to figure out what dog breed would be a good fit for me. My main criteria was a non-shedding breed. I read books on Yorkshire Terriers. I was almost directed away from them because I read they were hard to housebreak.

Not Chase. He was so easy to house train. He just seemed to understand what I wanted of him. He even scratched at the door when he needed to go potty. I remember the first time he scratched at the door. I was shocked. I didn't know how he learned to do that but he just started doing it. It took two weeks to house train him. I am not kidding you.

When I got Chase he weighed a whopping 2.5 pounds. He was beyond adorable(and still is, in my opinion).

I am grateful every day Chase is alive. A Yorkshire Terrier's life expectancy is 12-15 years. What a gift that he has surpassed this milestone. I keep hoping for at least a couple more!

Chase is small(but a giant in Yorkie terms - he is at the top of the standard; 9 pounds) but he has a huge personality. He is always on the hunt for food. If he isn't sleeping, he is looking for food.

He loves to eat. He lives to eat.

Interestingly he loves to eat hibiscus flowers. When I had a hibiscus tree in the house he would inhale those flowers whenever one would drop to the floor. I would even find him on his hind legs getting into the pot, hoping to find more spent flowers.

Sometimes I would find him standing next to the tree, whining. He would look at me, then look up at the plant, then back at me. Yes, Chase. I know what you are trying to tell me but you know what? There are no flowers to give you!

This summer Greg purchased two hibiscus plants to decorate the back deck area.

Chase smelled out the hibiscus flowers.

It is obvious Chase has been here.

Caught in the act!

Is that tasty, Chase?

Chase, you didn't finish your snack!

Everyday with this guy is an adventure and a gift. He brings me so much joy, happiness and peace.

Sometimes he has accidents in the house now. I can't blame him, really. His human age equivalent is 112!!!

Boy, I love this guy.

Happy Birthday Chase!!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Plucky Primo meets Ophidian

I was lucky enough to snag some Plucky Primo (70.20.5 Extra fine italian merino, cashmere, nylon blend) in a recent shop update in "Listen to the Wine".

When I received the yarn I swooned. It was the most perfect color. It is aubergine, eggplant with fine, subtle shading of pinkish wine. It is to die(dye) for!!!

On a recent trip up to the Anacortes Arts Festival with Michale and Melinda, we stopped by Wild Fiber on the way home. They had a sample of Sivia Harding's Ophidian.

I have so many shawl's on my To Do list. Something about this pattern and this yarn made me shout with joy. I had to do this pattern, with this yarn!

According to the pattern I should have been able to get 4 repeats of the main pattern. I finished the fourth pattern repeat and I knew I would not have enough for the edging. I frogged the one repeat(yes, it was painful) and then continued with the edging.

The particulars:

Yarn: Plucky Primo
Needles: Addi lace US5, 3.75mm
Finished measurement: wingspan 48 inches, depth 24 inches.

This pattern was a breeze to complete. I finished it in about a week and a half. If you are an experienced lace knitter you can whip this out. The lace is easy to memorize and adding the beads breaks up the monotony.

I chuckle at photos of myself. I have decided as I get older that growing my hair out is a thing of the past. When I was less sure of myself I really hated the wingy dingy things on the sides of my neck. With longer hair I could hide them. I would call them the Samurai wings. I rejected these hairy bits, wishing for cleaner lines. Now I embrace my ancestry. They are out on full display in the photo above.

Note: this is my first blog entry using my iPad. I'm using an app called Blogpress. They also have an app for the iPhone. For some reason using the browser directly logging in to Blogger on the iPad does not work properly.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A few steps back to make progress

I was going great guns on Paper Crane.

You know how you have a voice in your head that tells you things and you don't listen. You know the one. The one that is right on, the one that saves you heartache and grief? The one that you don't listen to?

As I stated earlier, I was was cruising along on my Paper Crane, oblivious to potential issues. (Ok, this is not entirely true because I just said in the sentence above that there was a voice I was ignoring!)

I finally started to listen to that wise voice that was saying "this sweater is looking very big". I talk myself out of it because I have already knit miles of fine linen...and on size 2.5mm needles.

I know I tend to overestimate my bust size(wishful thinking?). I also believe I am a bigger size than I truly am.

I finally took the knitting off the needles and you know what? This sweater was approximately 5 inches too large. 5 inches!!!! You heard me. Wayyyyy too big.

So I re-read the instructions. Yes, I know. There is a washed gauge and an unwashed guage. Ok, no problem. I read that over and over numerous times. Well, there is another sentence underneath those gauge numbers. This sentence says what the gauge is that was used in calculating the sweater size instructions. How many gauges are required and which one does a knitter use? To me it has been a guessing game, almost.

Here is my pattern with all my notes.

Here is about 7 inches knit of the sweater. Beanie is there to provide moral support because I know what I have to do.

Ok, here goes. I have a lot of frogging to do. Beanie looks suspicious. He's probably wondering why I am doing this!

There you go. All frogged. I immediately cast-on for a size that was two smaller than the one I originally started. The reason? I measured my favorite lightweight sweater and used that measurement as one factor. The other consideration was the gauge. Since the pattern lists 3 gauges, I took that into account on what size I was finally going to go ahead with.

I went back to basics. I figured my gauge(washed) and did some math. I am not sure I understand why the designer gives all the various gauges. Actually I do know why. She was getting varying gauge numbers and probably wanted to cover all her bases. As someone knitting the design I would like things more definitive. That is why I buy a pattern rather than creating my own.

I am starting to appreciate designing and calculating my own numbers. I am looking forward to Nihon Vogue starting up at the end of next month!

On to something more helpful.

While I was in Italy this past spring, I was knitting Trevi by Anne Hanson. I had a great 100% silk lace weight yarn from Sundara, a perfect color for this pattern. I wanted to knit something inspired by my trip. (I did take pictures of me with my in-progress Trevi at the Trevi fountain in Rome)

On the plane ride over I realized that I did not have any stitch markers. What was I going to do to keep track of the pattern repeats?

I had dental floss(mint, by the way) in my purse. I made my own stitch markers out of dental floss and they worked great. They were light weight and easily visible against the yarn! If you are ever traveling and you don't have stitch markers turn to your dental floss!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Paper Crane

While out at Camano, Arlene was just getting started on her Paper Crane project.

I had seen it in a Knit Purl newsletter and promptly put it on a very back burner in my mind. There are so many darn things I want to do and I only have 2 more months before Nihon Vogue starts up again. I have to be very selective in what I decide to knit or spin until then.

A side note about Knit Purl. I am not affiliated with this shop. I love getting their newsletters. They are well put together, they are slick and very sexy. They do a great job at preparing for the upcoming seasons in the projects they highlight. I love to see what yarns they decide to pair with those highlighted patterns. I like it for entertainment value and every now and then I get sucked in!

Back to the Paper Crane. I love fine gauge cardigans. I purchased one from LL Bean(of all places) in their Bend, OR outlet 10 years ago. I know I bought it ten years ago because I bought it before Greg and I went on our first trip to Europe together. I love this cardigan. It is made out of a very fine(weight-wise) wool. I love it for layering-it has been to many parts of the world. It doesn't take up much space and it is just a great basic, charcoal cardi. It is one of my go-to sweaters because it goes with just about anything. I have wanted to knit something like this but shied away from it because doing a fine gauge sweater in stockinette makes me think...not such a good idea.

Something about the yarn, this pattern and the fact that a friend of mine was also going to knit it(pass around the misery - very fine yarn on 2.5mm needles) made me move beyond just the "dreaming of it" stage. I love this design because it is very Eileen Fisher-esque. I buy a fair amount of Eileen Fisher clothes because they are modern classics and the pieces coordinate well.

Despite my lack of long-term attention span to knitting projects(only on the non Nihon Vogue ones - we must finish the ones for class!) I decided to tackle this project.

I knit on it here and there, in the car(only when I am not driving, of course!) and while watching TV. This is a lot of plain stockinette stitch at a fine gauge. I can knit without looking so it is perfect for feeling productive while watching TV. I have a feeling I will be watching a fair amount of tv in the future. I have about 15 inches to knit before the next step.

Here it is in progress. Right now the back and front are knit all in one piece up to the armholes.

Yarn: Habu Textiles XS-21 100% linen. 218 yards per ounce. The information on their website is wrong. It is not 98 yards per ounce! I confirmed this with them when I ordered the yarn.

Needles: Knitpicks harmony in 2.5 mm.

I don't really understand how the gauge swatch (according to the designer) would get smaller after washing. I had no change in gauge after I washed my swatch. It will be interesting to see the outcome. She also says that the garment relaxed significantly after wearing. Seems counter intuitive to me. The guage swatch shrinks after washing but relaxes when wearing. Does that mean the gauge, in the end, is about what the pre-washed gauge is?

My goal is to have it completed before I head to Bonaire in January. That gives me 6 months! The average weather temperatures in January are highs of 84 (28.9C) and lows of 76(24.4C) I usually get a tiny chill in the evening. Remember there is almost always a breeze day and night on Bonaire so the wind chill is probably 72 or something like that in the evening!!! :) I think this lightweight linen will be perfect!

The color of the yarn is very versatile. It is got a brown tone, yet gray. It is like a chameleon that can change color depending what it is next to.

Also displayed in the photo is my iPad. Now I love this device. Talk about slick and sexy! I love it because I can have all my knitting pdf's on it! Just another great "need" for you knitters out there.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Camano Island Retreat

I have been absent for quite a long time!

I have created numerous blog posts complete with photos. They just have not progressed past my brain!

I got my office all set up in the way I want. I was having issues with my old Sony laptop(way too slow, way too old) so now I have the hand me down Macbook. Greg hooked it up to his old hand me down Dell monitor and it is a perfect setup for me. Really. No excuses for lack of blogging going forward.

I have tons of photos from my visit to see Ruth a year ago as well as photos from Sock Summit 2009. Anyway....

A couple weekends ago I was invited to my friend Arlene's vacation house on Camano Island. I had a wonderful weekend relaxing with friends. These women have been my companions and support system through the Nihon Vogue program. As I look into the future I see these woman being life-long friends. Believe it or not, I do not have a photo of Joni. Joni took most of these photos which explains why she is absent! I won't make that same mistake again! I will be more diligent about taking photos. Maybe.

Arlene, Joni and Whimsey came by to pick me up on the way up to Camano. You have 3 women, a dog and their gear for 2.5 days. What size vehicle do you think we would need? Obviously an SUV was just big enough to fit all our stuff. The smallest bags crammed into the car were the ones for our clothes. The rest was food, knitting and spinning gear. We know what our priorities are!

Our creative goal for the weekend was to learn how to do some right angle weave beading. Joni was a wonderful instructor! This is not your average beginner project! I think we needed a break from design, design, design, knitting, knitting, knitting. We were all pretty burned out after the completion of year two of Nihon Vogue. So we learned to do something different!

Arlene has an idyllic atmosphere to learn this technique!

As we were progressing in our creations we were a bit unsure of the bead colors we had purchased for our bracelets. Thankfully Joni has a nice stash selection that we all looked through to see if we wanted something different than the beads we had originally purchased. Here Arlene and Melinda are looking through some of Joni's stash.

Candace is hard at work. We all know what a hard worker she is!

These are what we made! Another hobby in the works!

In the process, I was flipping Joni off for some reason. Can you believe that? Me?

We ate such great food! I need to be around these ladies more often! So healthy!

I had a great time! Walking along the beach was heavenly!

Although we were heads down beading, spinning and knitting when we looked up this is the view we saw during the day and night. Perfection.

Thank you Arlene for a wonderful weekend!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Wool Peddler

A couple years ago at the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, I saw my friend Jen's Wool Peddler Shawl. Her shawl was made out of handspun yarn. This shawl can be found in Cheryl Oberle's book, Folk Shawls.

I was bound and determined to spin up some of my own yarn for this project. I was a fairly new spinner at that time and thought it would take me forever to spin one pound of anything. In 2008 Ellen and I trekked down to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. I found the perfect fiber for the Wool Peddler shawl I had conjured in my dreams.

The fiber was 50% silk, 50% merino dyed by Lisa Souza. I fell in love with this color...called Purzurple. I purchased one pound(since Jen said hers took about 1 pound) and I went home happily. I started spinning this soon after I purchased it. The roving(I didn't take any pictures) was very deep purple(some areas almost looked black) with pinks and various shades of purple. Once I started spinning the inside of the roving was white. I did my best to blend the white, where the dye had not saturated into the fiber, with the outer part of the fiber, to blend them. It did concern me at the time because the color range in the yarn was wider than I had hoped.

As you all know, Nihon Vogue got in the way of this project(as well as many others). Over time I spun up this roving into a beautiful yarn. I had to keep taking out my spinners control card to make sure I was spinning it "fat" enough. I kept tending to spin it too fine but with my frequent checks against the control card, I got almost a 2-ply worsted weight yarn.

Finally all the fiber was spun up and I was ready to continue with this project. Now for the knitting!

Mind you....although I have spun up a good amount of fiber in my time as a spinner, I had never knit with any of it! Yes, it is true. I have a small'ish stash of handspun that has sat in my studio just begging to be used!

Then, last year at Madrona, my friend Angela was wearing her Wool Peddler and hers had some mohair fiber that made it so soft and cozy.

That made me think...hmmnnn maybe I should knit a strand of my handspun with a mohair yarn for the same effect. I had some Colinette Parisienne in my stash. I purchased this yarn a few years ago in Cannon Beach. It was earmarked for a shawl at some point. The color I had was a deep purple. I thought this would be a great pairing to help minimize the areas in my handspun that had more of the white/lighter colors.

It worked wonderfully, in my opinion.

Hands down, this is my favorite shawl to cozy up with. It is soft, it is warm and I am so happy with the result. As you can see from the photos below it is quite large.

As soon as I graduated from year two of Nihon Vogue, this was the second project I finished.

I have a lot of blogging to catch up on!

I still have to post pictures of my last few Nihon Vogue projects. I also want to blog about my trip to Estonia this past summer!

I really don't have any excuse for not updating the blog. Now that I have a new'ish laptop and a better setup here I REALLY don't have any excuses for such large gaps in my posts!