Unintended Consequences

Well, if it’s going to snow in my blog, the least I can do is post in it!

This year, for the first time in I-Don’t-Know-How-Long, I decided to do a little holiday decorating. There are a lot of pretty boring reasons for why it’s been so long, and this year just seemed like a good time to do something different.

So, I asked one of the vendors at our Farmer’s Market to put together a great big wreath for me, with nothing but greenery on it. No bows, no pine cones, just green. I bought myself a string of lights (which should tell you how long it’s been since I did this), and waited for the wreath to be ready.

The day I brought it home, I rearranged my living room a bit, hung the wreath up, put the lights on it, and went to get my box of ornaments. The box from the closet in the spare room. The closet where all kinds of things are tossed in kind of higgledy-piggledy…

Wanna know what I found before I got to the ornaments? About three layers down, stuffed into a bag?

That’s a skein of Plymouth Happy Feet, which I have been kinda-sorta looking for since March. I can finally finish that pair of Baudelaire socks!

And the wreath? Oh, it’s lovely, I couldn’t be more pleased with it!

Posted in Yarn | 11 Comments

Any Questions?

Here I am again on 20 October, celebrating another birthday. All these trips around the sun, they add up rather quickly, and this year makes 42 of them.

Have you read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s hilarious, touching, absurd and infinitely quotable. Altogether a joy to read.

The number 42 plays a rather significant role in that book, and in some of the subsequent ones in the series as well. It’s the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything… but nobody knows what the question is.

Isn’t that just the way it goes? You think you’ve got it all figured out and somebody pulls the rug out from under you. I mean really, what kind of an answer is that? At any rate, this year I’m one of the answers.

Must be careful not to let it go to my head.

To all of my family, friends, co-workers and blog readers; to the friendly random people who smile at me through the course of a day; to the children who see me knitting and stare with huge eyes; to the man in the parking lot the other day who let me have that parking space; to all of you, everywhere, whoever you are:

Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for helping me get this far. I never could have done it without you.

Posted in Birthday | 13 Comments

Something Like Yarn

Learning to do new things is always an adventure. I remember learning how to knit, which for the first six months or so was an exercise in patience… and stubbornness! There were so many things to keep track of, yarn, needles, stitches, brain cells. The first few things I knit were so tight they’re probably bulletproof. Then I over-compensated, and the next thing I knew I was knitting aran-weight yarn on US 4’s.

This is how I learn things… I screw them up until I get it right.

Spinning has been no exception. I was getting quite a bit of back-spin for a while, so I started flicking the spindle really hard… which caused it to wobble and sway back and forth alarmingly. When I got that under control, I immediately had drafting problems. Big wads of undrafted fiber getting through my fingers, combined with the exercise of my vocabulary. (Apparently novice spinners should come equiped with warning signs about strong language!)

But I stuck with it, spinning during lunch breaks, cursing under my breath, dropping the spindle… and finally watching the fiber draft off of my fingers into a coherent single. Oh now, wasn’t that just a lovely moment!

I was waving my spindle under the noses of my unsuspecting (and very indulgent) co-workers. “Look, look! It’s even, it’s the same thickness for six whole inches! Isn’t that cool? Watch, watch, let me show you!”

They agreed that it was lovely, although there was a certain wildness about their eyes, and I wasn’t at all flattered by the way they backed nervously towards the door. Was it that missionary gleam in my eyes, do you think?

Finally, I’d crammed as much spun fiber onto the spindle as I could. My spinning mentors showed me how to make a plying ball, and the next thing I knew I was plying. Wheee, more fun!

Last Wednesday I got the plied yarn off of the spindle, and it looked like this:

First Yarn, Pre-Blocking

A quick soak in some warm water, a couple of thwacks on the counter, and it looked like this:

First Yarn, Post-Blocking

It’s approximately 69 yards of something like yarn. And I made it with my own widdle hands.

Endless thanks to Janis of Dyelots! for the gift of the dyed wool, to my Wednesday girlfriends for all of the tips, and to my co-workers for not calling the nice men to take me away to a padded room.

Now then, where’s that lace-weight spindle?

Posted in Spinning | 9 Comments

Meet The Critters

I made my very first trip up to Oregon Flock and Fiber at the end of September, and oh, what a wonderful day I had.

It’s about a two-hour drive from my house to Canby, and I had the very excellent company of Tim Curry reading The Bad Beginning, the first Lemony Snicket book. A more perfect pairing of voice and story you are not likely to find, and I spent most of the drive alternating between chortling with laughter at the funny bits and gasping with horror as things went from bad to worse for those poor children.

The biggest reason for making the journey north was to finally meet someone in person who I’d been corresponding on-line with for… two years? Something like that. Chandler of Anagram Press does the most interesting things with letterpress I’ve ever seen, including the occasional use of a steamroller. She lives in Tacoma WA, about 2-3 hours north of Canby, so it was a perfect chance to split the traveling distance and meet each other face to face for the very first time.

It was marvelous. She’s even more fun in person than she is on the internet, and we had such a great time together. We looked at all the booths and tents, touched all kinds of fiber, yarn and woven goods, laughed until my sides hurt and showed absolutely no restraint whatsoever when it came to forking over money for pretty things.

Just doing our part to support the fiber economy, you understand.

There’s just one thing I forgot to do… Can you believe I didn’t take a singe picture of her? I know, I know, I’m a sadly neglectful blogger. Trust me, she’s lovely, just full of life and energy, with a weakness for alpaca yarn.

We did get lots of pictures of the critters, though. Let’s meet ’em!

These two just about melted me.

Mother and Child

I love horned sheep, I really do.

Horns

And sheep with bangs.

Bangs

My favorites were the llamas. They made us think of muppets, with those sinuous necks and expressive ears. And the humming, oh it just makes me smile.

Nose

This one is showing off his (her?) heritage.

Heritage

Look, a spotted one!

Spotted

This one almost, almost, let me touch him.

Shy

It was a lovely day, simply wonderful. I saw so many beautiful things, so many smiling faces. I met up with some folks I hadn’t seen in far too long. I finally got to meet Chandler face to face.

Really, I can’t imagine how it could have been any better.

Posted in Fiber Festivals, Oregon Flock and Fiber | 4 Comments

This Needs Saying…

and there’s simply no way I could say it better.

Go get a tissue, then go read this.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Still Kicking

Wow, four weeks? That’s a bit much, I must admit. Things got away from me, although I’m happy to report that my garden is still in good shape. Funny thing, it turns out if I give 30-45 minutes over to weeding a couple of times a week, it actually gets easier. Shocking, I know!

The baby boom around me continues apace, and so of course does the knitting for the future humans. Check out this little number:

Modified Drops Eyelet Cardigan

Jennifer Little took one of the DROPS designs (this one, to be exact) and modified the heck out of it. I liked hers better, so that was the one I made.

It’s a pretty simple knit, with enough lace in it to keep me awake and make the finished sweater something very special indeed. I used the calculator located here to help me keep the increases even. Have you tried it? Oh, you simply must! It’s an absolute life-saver.

I toyed very briefly with a further modification to the pattern, involving knitting the sleeves in the round instead of flat with seams. But I think I had a head cold that week, and the idea of figuring out how many extra stitches to cast on to the body and how to keep the lace correct made me all chin-quivery. Besides, 5-6 inches of mattress stitch never killed anybody.

Modified Drops Eyelet Cardigan

I’m very pleased with the result and I’m anxious to get it to the little miss it was made for.

Project Details:
Pattern: Modified Drops Eyelet Cardigan by Jennifer Little
Yarn: Pagewood Farm Denali in Really Red
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm)
Dates: Ah… hmm… I honestly don’t know
Buttons: Lovely wee flowers, provided and sewn by my wonderful mother

Modified Drops Eyelet Cardigan

Next Time: I visit Oregon Flock and Fiber, meet an internet friend face to face, and hum along with the llamas.

Posted in Baby Knitting | 5 Comments

The Good Tired

I earn my yarn money as an Information Technology Consultant and Systems Administrator, and most of my work is done sitting down. I spend a lot of time on the phone talking people through problems, using a super-nifty utility that allows me to observe and control most of our computers. It often feels like I have the world at my fingertips, and for anything I don’t actually have, well, that’s the beauty of Google.

It keeps me fairly stationery, though. During busy times I’ll often set an alarm just to remind myself to get up and walk around. It’s not the kind of thing you’d think you’d need reminding about, but the outside world tends to fade away when I’m configuring multiple machines.

Then of course, there are my favorite hobbies. Knitting, spinning and reading are also pretty stationary. Yes yes, I know there are folks out there who can knit and/or spin while they walk, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ll admit that I was one of those kids walking down the street with my nose in a book, but I mostly gave that up the second or third time I walked into a tree.

They translate into more time on my backside. Exercising my mind for sure, and working on some pretty nifty fine motor skills, but not doing too much else.

This weekend was different. I looked down into my front garden from the porch and saw that it had gotten away from me while I wasn’t paying attention. The morning glory, one of my most-disliked invaders, was bidding fair to strangle the Peace rose. The pansies and dianthus were mere shadows of their springtime glory. The Columbine had long since finished blooming and had turned into great leggy stalks topped with rattling seedpods. No no no, this would never do!

I filled up my water bottle, plunked my hat on my head, turned on my iPod and got to work. Deadheading, trimming down, digging up weeds by the roots, getting growth out of the gravel… anything past its prime or growing where I didn’t want it was treated as a weed. Into the wheelbarrow it went.

Over the course of two days, I filled the wheelbarrow twice with debris. Then I hauled compost out of the container. Oh now, isn’t that just lovely stuff? All the veggie trimmings and coffee grounds from the kitchen, and all the years weeding, transformed over the months into beautiful rich compost, full of worms and bugs and nutrients. My plants perk up at the mere mention of it, and I’ve got some of the liveliest roses you’ve ever seen.

All the bushes got a thick layer of compost, and then a nice deep watering. The garden looks so much better, and I’ve got the most wonderful sense of accomplishment.

My shoulders are a little sore, and I’ve got a bruise on one knee from kneeling on a rock by mistake. The trousers I was wearing can practically stand up by themselves, and I don’t want to talk about how that t-shirt smells. I was hungrier for my dinner than I’d been in months. I’m tired, but it’s the good tired. The one that comes from a hard job well done, from plants well tended and tools put away freshly cleaned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments