Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SAFF Stash

We had a glorious time at SAFF as is exhibited by the lovely new goodies I'm going to show you here. One thing we tried to do is avoid purchasing any items that we could easily get elsewhere. Going to a fiber festival is all about finding the new and unusal, the things not easily obtained for many of us. I didn't buy any commercial yarn--no Trekking, no Noro, none of that "common" stuff! ;-)

Zeilinger Wool Company's booth is always one of our favorite stops. Here's what we got! Daughter gravitated to a bag of multi color bright fleece balls. Husband went for the black mix, and the blue is all mine.

One thing in particular that I was looking for was a drop spindle for daughter's friend who wants to learn to spin. I ended up talking to Leslie at Kokovoko and bought her learn to spin kit. It includes the drop spindle shown here with yarn on it, a book by Connie Delany (which I'm told by several people is the best drop spindle instruction book), and a ball of fiber. The other drop spindle shown here was made by a man in Washington, and it is likely going to stay to live with me.

We're not sure who the maker is. Husband asked the vendor several times "Do you know who made this spindle?" and she never seemed to grasp that he would have liked her to provide a name. All she'd say was "Yes, I know who made it." We finally did dig out of her that a man in Washington was the producers! It was comical.

We couldn't resist the fleece show and sale. The two in the back of this picture are colored Corriedale. They are very clean and soft but are raw fleece; they came from Van-Dir Ltd. Daughter has started spinning her fleece in the grease, and it is coming along great. I included a slightly fuzzy picture here. The bag of fleece in the front of this picture came from a sheep named Peace who lives at Humbug Farm and is border Leicester. It had been washed and was somewhat compacted. A couple of passes through the picker has fluffed it up nicely.

Here is the rest of the stash!

Back row: Strauch flicker, very soft black fiber (baby alpaca, bombyx silk, and superfine merino) and white cashmere from The Little Barn, shawl pins from Catherine at Knitting Notions, white brushed mohair yarn from Kid Hollow Farm, circular needles from a vendor who's name I cannot remember.
Middle row:Bombyx silk roving from Windy Acres Fiber Farm, bags of dyed tussah silk from Little Barn, blue 50/50 silk wool yarn from Brooks Farm Yarn, silk hankies and silk bell from Windy Acres.
Front row: soaps and hand balm from Blue Ridge Soap Shed.

Not pictured are a cedar Bosworth Midi spindle that I got from I See Spots, some alpaca socks that daughter bought from Creekwater Alpacas, and a custom embroidered shirt made by Needlestrokes. The shirt has an applique of an angora goat with the saying "Angoras have Mo-hair." I'll try to get a picture of daughter wearing that later.

Finally, I bring you the piece de resistance. This lovely Winsome Timbers Serena wheel now lives with us. Husband bought it from Wauka Valley Farm. They threw in the bag of fiber from one of their own sheep along with the wheel. The wheel spins like a dream.

Coming next....photos of our cabin, some fiber action photos, and a photo of my buddy Carolyn and me.


Wow, what an incredible weekend! We arrived in NC on Thursday evening and settled into the most wonderful little cabin. We stayed in the Speckled Trout cabin (image is larger than the cabin actually was!) which was right on the edge of a stream. It was divine!

Friday was cold and wet, but that didn't stop us from getting out early and heading to SAFF. We did the rounds and then settled in with our friends from the Peachtree Handspinners Guild. These people really make SAFF for me. They are so welcoming, knowledgeable, and just plain fun to be around. We've decided to try to renew our guild membership and try to make more of the meetings. Atlanta is about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive, but to spend time in the company of such a great group of people, I think it's worth it.

I was thrilled that Carolyn found me on Friday! We had a nice time catching up. She even brought her charka and joined the fun in the spinning circle. Carolyn's husband was along for the trip, and he's a great guy. I bet we see Bill spinning by next year!

On cold and blustery Saturday, I ran into Beverly and her mom. They are such sweet people. I'd not seen either of them in a long time. Beverly was shopping for drop spindles, and if you take a look at her blog, you'll see she found some!

At some point this weekend, I saw three ladies from the local spinning group. One of them sat in on the spinning circle for a bit on Sunday, and she was spinning some gorgeous superwash merino (I think) in teal and white. I never managed to run into any of the other bloggers who said they'd be at SAFF and didn't see the sign posted on Saturday for the blogger meetup. Oh well....maybe we'll all be better organized next year.

Fiber festivals are great places to try new wheels, so I took advantage of that. I've always been sort of drawn to the Majacraft Little Gem and the Ashford Joy. I got to try out both this weekend at one of the vendor's stands, and the fascination is gone. I couldn't get the Little Gem to spin in the right direction. The treadling seemed very hard. My daughter, on the other hand, sat down at the wheel and was going great guns. The Joy was easy to treadle, but when I took my feet off the treadle, the wheel spun backwards on its own. It spun back about half way from where I'd stopped. I don't know why that is--light wheel? I'm used to spinning on a Schacht Matchless on which the wheel stays put when you stop treadling. This test spin just proved to me once again what a great wheel my Schacht is. I do love that thing except for the fact that it is heavy to take around to guild meetings and such....

So...you want to know what I bought, do you? I was SOOO good on Friday--only spent about $50 for 4 circular needles. Saturday didn't go quite so well. Sunday was even worse--for our pocketbook. I'm pleased to say, though, that the big ticket purchase of the weekend was not mine although I hope to enjoy the benefits of this particular purchase. I did not buy any commercial yarn (as in nothing I could buy at a LYS), and I'm happy about that. Why buy something at a festival that you can get locally or order--unless it is a great deal? I'm going to keep you in suspense about our purchases until I have time and technological support to get pictures up later this week. I think you'll be amazed!

In non fibery news, I was sad to read this: Pink Flamingos Becoming Extinct. My dad and I always had a running joke about flamingos. He threatened on many times to have my yard "flocked" because I thought the garden variety birds were so tacky. In truth, I really love the things and anything flamingo and have a small collection of them (very small!).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fibery Weekend

We're off to SAFF later today. Hope to see many of you there! I'll have Clapotis with me as well as my voodoo wristwarmers. So....if you see a dark haired 40 something wearing a purple multicolor Clapotis...that may be me! ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Footprints On Our Hearts

Some beings come into our lives and quickly go. Others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. Patrick was one of those who instantly won our hearts and who has left tremendous footprints there. We had to say goodbye to our dear little bunny Patrick McFuzzyPants yesterday. We are not sure what happened but think Patrick may have picked up a respiratory infection. He was gone so fast.

We got Patrick a couple of years ago at SAFF. He had some problems with his hocks and couldn't be sold. The breeder was the same lady who'd sold us Phoebe the previous year, and she knew we'd take good care of Patrick and get him well. She gave him to us, and that little boy instantly won our hearts. He was so playful and had that impish look about him. His little "top knot" hair grew long and sort of fell over his eyes giving him an even more adorable look. He was my Dennis the Menace.

Patrick, we will miss you.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pictureless Saturday

I'm so upset about not being able to share pictures!! It's annoying. Maybe when my handsome tech support guy gets out of bed, I can get him to help me out here. Of course, the "honey do" list is long--computer repair, toilet repair (it doesn't run anymore, but it doesn't flush either!), help me figure out wrapping stitches for Lizard Ridge....

There is a bite of fall in the air again today, and it is so nice. I feel energized when the seasons change to cooler weather. Since husband and I have both lost weight, we are lacking a bit in the cool weather clothes department. Thanks to LL Bean, we both have some things on the way. I was fortunate to find quite a lot in the clearance room on their website! I also have ordered a fall jacket from a sporting goods store in California, and it is just 45 minutes away from me right now! It will arrive on Monday, just in time to go off to SAFF. Fed Ex tracking is a glorious thing! I've watched my jacket go from California, to TN, and now to SC.

Speaking of SAFF, it looks like Shea will be there Friday, Carolyn will be there Friday and Saturday; Judy will be there Sunday. Anyone else? Kim? Katie? Theresa?

I have to tell you, I'm not all that excited about SAFF this year. I know, blasphemy. Well, looking at my stash, I see tons of yarn, a lot of fiber in need of spinning, enough wheels and looms in the house for everyone to have one and then some. See what I mean? I am looking forward to seeing friends. We always join the spinning circle with our friends from Peachtree Guild, and that is fun. They are such super nice people. I wish we were closer to Atlanta, because I'd definitely go to their guild meetings. More than anything, I'm looking forward to sitting in the cabin in front of the fireplace with my feet up! That will be heaven.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Technology is a PIMA

Yep. Technology. Wonderful when it works, major pain in the arse when it doesn't. Right now, my technology doesn't work. There is not a card reader in the house that works. I can't download photos straight from the camera until I buy either more batteries (Which the download process sucks dry) or an AC adapter for the camera. Bummer.

I would have liked to have shown you a photo of Muppet Guts today. Muppet Guts is a scarf/boa that I made for husband's auntie who is a Red Hatter. I made MG using a skein of Bernat Disco in a purple color and a skein of Lion Brand Fun Fur in red. I held the two strands together and knit a 9 stitch i-cord using size 17 DPNs. I was very pleased with the results and hope to be able to show them to you one of these days. Just when I'd decided Disco and Fun Fur were completely worthless, I've proven otherwise! Now, I'm on the prowl for Disco in the blue color and the gold color. Those are daughter's school colors and a Muppet Guts boa in school colors would rock!

The next thing I wanted to share with you today is my third Socktoberfest sock. I'm talking third as in first half of my second pair. I completed a Little Shells sock using Elann sock yarn. The colors are gorgeous plums, greens, and browns. The sock worked up quickly, and I have begun sock 2 of this pair. My goal is to finish it in time to have ready for SAFF. I used this tip from Socknitters, and it worked: To prevent ears on wedge toes: before you graft, slip the outside stitch on each end of the needle over the stitch next to it. You will have two fewer stitches on each needle; that is, if you had ten you will now have eight. I use a crochet hook to do this. Graft as usual and you will have no ears, not even on cotton. I did not use a crochet hook as this person suggested, but I may try that next time. I almost had a dropped stitch disaster!

So...SAFF is next weekend. Who's going? We'll be there Friday for sure. Husband will likely be there on Saturday, too, but I'm not certain yet if daughter and I will join him or if we'll stay at our comfy cabin in front of the fireplace! If you are going to be there, please leave a comment or send me a note. I'd love to meet some fellow bloggers, Knittyheads, whoever!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Sock History

Here's My Sock History for your entertainment!

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I started knitting socks not long after I learned to knit--about 4 years ago now. I think it was a secret fantasy for me--learn to knit so that I can knit socks.

I am pretty much a self-taught sock knitter. I wasn't getting the hang of turning the heel the first time around, so my friend Beverly showed me that little trick and it was smooth sailing from then on. I swear by the Ann Budd book as an excellent resource for learning a basic cuff down sock.

What was your first pair? How have they “held up” over time?
My first pair were spiral rib tube socks made from Regia sock yarn. The pattern was in an Interweave book that showed socks made from handspun yarn. I didn't spin at the time, so I opted for commercial yarn. The socks have held up great and I enjoy wearing them. They are quite comfy.

What would you have done differently?
Nothing. I'm pleased with the way my socks came out.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
The only sock yarn I've not enjoyed working with was Brown Sheep Wildefoot. I found it to be splitty, and the yarn kept untwisting.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I have never crocheted socks. I knit them either on DPNs or on a combination of DPNs and a single 12 inch circular needle. See more on that in my post from 10/9/06.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I've only done a flap heel. I like it. I'll eventually branch out and try different heels, but for now, this works.

How many pairs have you made?
Oh my gosh. At least a dozen pairs. I know that doesn't sound like much in 4 years, but I go through sock phases. Sometimes I can't bear to knit socks, other times it is all I want to do.

And In Recent News
I finished my first pair of Socktoberfest socks last night. They are yummy if I do say so. Daughter loves the yarn color, but these are mine, all mine!! I knit enough for her as it is. Maybe if she's really, really nice to me, I'll get another ball of this yarn for her. Pictures of my finished socks coming later this week.

I've not talked much about volleyball this year, but yes, daughter is playing this year. She's on the A team for her middle school and doing quite well. I'm amazed at how much the girls have improved and how well they play. It looks like they are going to be in the championship tournament this weekend. That's exciting!! We're the host team for the tournament, and it's going to be held in the new gym. It should be fun. I've already asked Coach to find someone else to run the scoreboard, though. You have to remain impartial and calm when you are sitting at the scoring table. Well, if my kid and her team mates are playing for a championship, impartial and calm will be the last things on my mind!!

I've not been to Curves in about a month--not because I haven't wanted to go, but because this pneumonia has knocked me for a loop! I'm still not completely well. This cough does linger on and on. About a week ago, I fell at school and did a number on my knee. That put me out of Curves for another week, but yesterday I decided I simply must go. It was tough. I was sweating that unhealthy sweat during my workout (you know the one--the deathsweat) and feeling completely wiped out afterward. I slept better last night, though, and I feel a bit more energetic today. So, today, I was back at Curves and actually had my weigh in. I'm pleased to report that in spite of sitting on my arse for a month being sick and eating whatever I wanted (in moderation and still semi watching the carbs), I've lost 1 pound and 3/4 of an inch. I just need to manage to keep myself healthy enough that I won't be off my exercise routine so much anymore.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Here Are the Pictures

The card reader is dead. Deceased. Kaput. May it rest in peace.

Here are some fuzzy photos for you. I'm still getting used to this new camera. It's more advanced than my old one, and I'm having to learn a lot of things.

This is completed sock 1 of the pair:

I think it's pretty. It isn't all blurry like that in person! ;-)

Here's sock 2 in progress on the circular needle:

It actually fits nicely on the circ. I notice now in this photo that I had the stitches smushed back from the tips a bit to keep them from springing off during the photo session.

I'm currently working the gusset decreases on this sock, so it's coming along quickly. Who knows? Maybe I'll finish two new pairs of socks in time for SAFF at the end of this month!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Identical, Fraternal?

**No Photos Tonight Due to Technical Difficulties Involving Card Reader**

Third time is the charm, indeed. I completed sock 1 of the Trekking XXL socks last night and cast on for sock 2 this morning. To answer the question posed in my title, I'm not so anal that every pair of socks must be identical. That's the beauty of hand knit, eh? It's unique. I do try to get my socks somewhat similar, though. With this particular yarn, I didn't find that a possibility. The yarn stripes, but I'm notfinding any true repeats in this skein. I'll have a pair of fraternal twin and quite beautiful socks in that case.

**Imagine Picture of Completed Sock 1 Here.** I did a 56 stitch cast on, two inches of ribbing at the top and a total of 5 inches in the cuff before starting the heel. I don't like terribly tall socks. The basis of my pattern is the sock "recipe" in the knitter's bible, aka Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. No knitter should be without this book.

I've almost managed to complete the cuff of sock 2, and **Imagine Picture Here** showing what it looks like on the 12 inch circular. Turtlegirl was curiuos about that.

My personal preference for knitting self striping or handpainted yarns is to keep the stitch pattern simple. I find that the simple stockinette shows off the colors in the yarn to best advantage. On the other hand, complicated cable and lace patterns just get lost in multicolored yarns, IMO. I prefer to use solid colors for patterned knitting.

That said, for a plain old stockinette sock, I find that knitting on a 12 inch circular seems to make the knitting fly by. Typically, I cast on using DPNs and join my knitting on the DPNs. I just find it easier to handle those little stitches on bamboo as opposed to the slippery Addi circulars until everything is joined nicely and neatly. After a couple of rounds, I transfer my stitches to the circular and knit the cuff. Then, I switch back to the DPNs for the heel flap, holding my instep stitches on the circular. I pick up the gussets and do the gusset decreases with the circular and knit the foot up to the point of decreasing for the toes which are done on DPNs. It just works for me. Usually, I will use DPNs exclusively for knitting lace or cabled socks.

I don't find that having 56 stitches on a 12 inch needle is too tight. I haven't made socks with fewer stitches, so I can't really say how my method would work if you had a smaller number cast on. Some people find the 12 inch needles too small to work with comfortably. I have large hands, and I find the small needles quite comfortable to use. You just have to get used to holding such tiny needles which is the case really with learning to use DPNs for the first time for sock knitting.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Sock With a Mind of Its Own

*knit knit knit knit* *rip rip rip rip* I cast on for my Trekking XXL socks on Sunday night. My Addi size 1 12 inch circs, the best sock knitting needles IMO, were missing, so I grabbed the 2s thinking they'd work. WRONG. Even with a cast on of 56 stitches, I had a gynormous sock. That's where the FIRST *rip rip rip rip* comes in.

So....last night, I started over with size 1s (which had been hiding in husband's bag). I was so proud to get the ribbed cuff done...get the heel flap done...turn the heel. I thought it was odd that I was using less yarn this time around (I'd re-wound the ripped out yarn back onto the skein). Did I stop to actually analyze the situation? NO! So what was the problem, I'm sure you're wondering. I forgot to knit any leg for my sock. I have a nice little two inch cuff that leads directly into a heel flap. That's not quite the look I was going for, so this morning we're back to *rip rip rip rip* again. *sigh* I get the feeling this sock just does not want to be. What's a girl to do?? Join Socktoberfest, of course! Maybe some good sock vibes will come my way through this.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Weekend Update--A Day Late

In light of the seriousness of my post yesterday, I didn't think it would be good to tell you about our weekend. We had a good weekend. We headed down to the coast on Friday after work and spent Saturday touring Savannah College of Art and Design with daughter. Yes, she's only 13, but she's already starting to think about college. Education is so critical to success in life. We are encouraging her to think about her career, think about where she wants to go to school, what she wants to study, etc. Not going to college just is not an option for anyone, I don't think.

The SCAD tour was great. We spent the entire day there, toured a dorm, toured some of the buildings where classes are held, met some students and professors, and just really enjoyed ourselves. Daughter's top two interests at the moment are Fashion Design and Interior Design. She was able to cut that list in half on Saturday afternoon when she heard how cut throat the Fashion industry is and how difficult it is to actually make a living as a Fashion Designer. Mom had been trying to tell her that, but we all know moms don't know much. :-) I was much more impressed with what we saw in the Interiors department. The professor talked about helping the students find internships, helping them develop marketable skills, etc. She also provided us with a breakdown of employment options and possible earning potential for new graduates with Interior Design degrees.

The dormitory facility we saw was OK. It definitely needed some interior decorating and designing, but I guess that's standard for college dorms. The rooms are set up hotel style which means 2 or 3 students are in each room and they share a bathroom with just those people living in that room--no hall bathrooms. SCAD is in the downtown historic district of Savannah, so of course security is a concern. I was pleased to see that the dorms are completely fenced in and access is gained only by passing a security guard and presenting your valid student ID. There is also a transportation system for the students which seems very accessible. All in all, the campus seems much more secure than my college was. Still, mom and dad will worry when it's time for our little bird to leave the nest.

No trip to Savannah would be complete without a stop in to see our friend Jennifer at Wild Fibre. She had a packed house with her knitting group and other customers. Of course, I can never leave the shop without buying something. It's an illness, I tell you. Saturday, I left with a ball of Trekking XXL in color 100.

We were starved by the time we got back to HHI. Instead of getting our favorite Greek food (It's Greek to Me--best Greek food on HHI), we opted to try a seafood restaurant which is supposed to be the one the locals prefer--The Sea Shack.

Shack seems a pretty accurate word to describe this place. Hole in the wall also comes to mind. Honestly, the place looks like a dump. I almost decided not to go in. The health department rating on the front door is A, though, and that changed my mind. The inside of this place is also nothing spectacular. There's a large board as you walk in listing all the menu items. You make your choice, go to the cashier and order, get your own drink, then choose one of the twelve tables inside or one of two outside. Your food is delivered to your table, but that's the last time you see a waiter. If you want a drink refill, get it yourself. I kind of like that. The meals are served on disposable plates with plastic utensils. Our food was piping hot and delicious. The prices were also affordable. I hear you can't get in this place "in season" but fortunately, tourist season is over. We were at the restaurant when it opened for dinner at 5 PM, and the crowd was picking up when we left 45 minutes later. My only complaint is that I didn't care for the tartar sauce. It was a bit too sweet for my liking. I prefer a tartar sauce with some tart to it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

No Words

I just do not have words to express my feelings about this. The Amish are good, peaceful children. Who have they ever hurt? More specifically, who have these little girls who are the victims ever hurt? My heart breaks for their parents.