Monday, June 29, 2009



The belief on which this is founded I have often heard expressed by an old neighbour of Grasmere.

SWIFTLY turn the murmuring wheel!
Night has brought the welcome hour,
When the weary fingers feel
Help, as if from faery power;
Dewy night o'ershades the ground;
Turn the swift wheel round and round!

Now, beneath the starry sky,
Couch the widely-scattered sheep;--
Ply the pleasant labour, ply!
For the spindle, while they sleep,
Runs with speed more smooth and fine,
Gathering up a trustier line.

Short-lived likings may be bred
By a glance from fickle eyes;
But true love is like the thread
Which the kindly wool supplies,
When the flocks are all at rest
Sleeping on the mountain's breast.

William Wordsworth, 1812

I've been completely enraptured by spinning lately. I finished spinning the silk/linen blend,

but fear that there will not be enough yarn to do the Triangle Summer Shawl. I may give it a try anyway, and just get more fiber to spin if I run out. It was very enjoyable to spin, and just seemed to want to be spun into yarn.

Now that it's done, I've moved on to spinning up the baby camel fiber that Jenny gave me for my birthday last year.

It's like a downy cloud that spins up so easily, and, camels being desert dwellers, I had heard that it was not as insulating a fiber as wool, alpaca, or yak. I'm finding this to be true, though there is, of course, a degree of insulating ability. I really enjoy spinning this, and think I may have to add it to my stash of fibers that I just keep on hand.

I haven't decided how many plies it will end up being, but as of now, I'm leaning toward a 4-ply. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm So Excited!

I'm so excited I could burst!

Today I got the Knit Picks email which stated that the new catalog (July 2009) was up. Well, remember when I mentioned that I had a new job? Being a test/project knitter for Knit Picks is the job. And my first project for them is in this catalog. It's the white shawl on page 2 - Triangular Summer Shawl, knit in Knit Picks Bare Merino Wool Lace Yarn.

I loved, loved, loved knitting this.

The construction was a little unusual, the nupps fun to do, and it knitted up quite quickly.

Thank you Nancy Bush for such a lovely pattern (and book!) and thank you Knit Picks for the opportunity to knit for you - you're wonderful!

Monday, June 22, 2009


I've been hearing about a 'zine called MAKE for quite some time now, but never bothered to look into it. After all, I'd thought, all of the general crafts magazines that I have seen are very similar, and I already had my favorites and not enough time for all of them, so why add another? Well, my local PBS Create t.v. station ran a marathon on Saturday for MAKE TV, and I fell in love. This is so not your typical craft magazine. With projects like robots, digital antennas, and remote controlled aerial camera stands, it's craft with a high-tech twist, and a much broader definition than is usually used. Make the time for this one, you'll be glad you did.

UPDATE: In the comments, dnaprice shared that MAKE has a sister 'zine called CRAFT that is also well worth checking out. And, my son informs me, they both have podcasts too - MAKE podcast is here, CRAFT podcast is here. Or you can get them from iTunes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Why Are Conservatives So Mean

I usually try to stay away from political stuff, but this time I'm not. I saw this video, thought it was funny, and am linking it for your viewing pleasure.

Why Are Conservatives So Mean

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Garden of Creativity*:

Still busily knitting away with my focus being on my secret project. So, moving right along, next we come to the spinning area.

In trying to decide what to do next, despite the distraction of all the pretty colors and textures, I decided wool and alpaca were out - it's just too hot for that right now. Likewise the yak fiber, even though I've not ever spun it and I love trying new fibers, had to be eliminated due to the heat factor. Bamboo was also eliminated due to the fact that I had been spinning nothing but for what feels like months. That left me with silk, baby camel, and a blend of silk and linen. By virtue of being quite intriguing, the silk/linen blend won. I have become addicted. The softness and sheen of the silk is a delight; the roughness of the linen, not so much. But I am looking forward to seeing what some washings will do to it. It also spoke to me quite quickly about what it should become. Within the first few minutes of spinning, it was decided that this would be perfect for a summer shawl. I'll be doing the Triangular Summer Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. I can hardly wait!

I've also been feeling a great need to branch out into other crafty areas, and have settled on a few sewing projects. Which works out well since I'm also needing a couple of dressier things for a trip I'll be taking, which, in it's turn, gives me a deadline to get things done by. In going through my fabric stash, I came upon a lovely, silky brocade that I decided would be perfect for a dress. And conveniently enough, my Serendipity shawl goes quite well with it. The other find was a very pretty, gauzy, floral print and matching lining (with all the notions) that I'll be making a skirt with. This is a project I'll be excited to finally get done, as I've had it planned for, literally, years.

The Garden of Plants*:

While I didn't plan ahead enough to get anything in the ground outside before the summer heat arrived, my indoor garden is growing quite well. This is something I delight in because for all but the last 5 or 6 years, I'd had a VERY black thumb. To the point that I merely had to be in the same general area of a plant and it would begin to wilt and die. Florists and nurseries would see me coming and lock their doors. Yards would scream in agony as I walked past them. Okay, so it wasn't quite that extreme yet, but all the plants that entered my house certainly seemed to find it inhospitable. And then one year, my mom sent me a plant that had such a zest for life that not even I could extinguish it. That plant grew and thrived and went through several repottings, teaching me how to care for, not kill, plants. Sadly, we went on vacation one year, and not even that hardy little fellow could survive the neglect that came from my not planning for it's care in my absence. It's memory and legacy lives on, however, in the houseplants that are currently gracing my abode. The cactus actually belongs to my son; a memento from a field trip to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. The aloes came in a single small pot which they quickly outgrew necessitating a seperation. I had thought the trauma of the separation had killed the smaller of the two, that it had sustained too much damage to its root system. Thankfully, after a period where there was no visible activity with it, it has begun to grow again. This fern was purchased at the same time as the aloes in a tiny little pot. It has thrived through a move and transplants, and is in need of another move to a bigger pot. They are truely the best dollar store purchases I ever made. And funnily enough, they were purchased, not to beautify our home, but for a science experiment about the effects of sunlight on plant growth. This basket was a gift sent to my family upon the death of my mother. Since my father didn't believe he'd be able to keep all the plants going, and because he wanted to share them as memorials with my sisters and me, I brought it home. I feared, as first, that it wasn't going to survive the move (8 hours in a car and being moved to a different climate) because it began to wilt almost as soon as we walked in the door. After a couple of weeks, however, it decided that this really isn't so bad a place to live and is returning to health. And I'm so grateful to my houseplants, as they have given me the courage to try outdoor gardening again when the weather cools a bit.

*I do not, in any way, wish to imply that gardening with plants is not a creative pursuit. For the purposes of this post, however, this distinction between the two was necessary.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finishing (or Why It Has Taken Me So Long To Post)

I've been busily working away on some projects, getting some done, getting others started. I kept promising myself that I would update just as soon as I'd finished (fill in project here). Problem is, I would finish one and see how close I was to finishing another, or start "just a quick project" that I would decide I needed to finish and photograph before posting.

Well, no more. I'm not finished with everything. Not even things that are Really Very Close to Being Done got completed. But, here's what I have finished.

Having decided to read 52 books this year (I'm currently at 27 read), here are 3 of my most recent reads:
Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodrigez. A very engaging story of the aid work one American beautician did in Afghanistan.

American Gods and Anansi Boys both by Neil Gaiman. Having heard a lot of praise for Neil Gaiman and "anything he writes", I decided to check things out for myself. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the books were as good as the hype.

As for my knitting, I've finished a few UFO's that have been OTN for too long:

This stole is "Serendipity" from the Mystery Stole 4 KAL.
It took me so long to finish for 2 reasons. 1)I ran out of yarn, and had to spin some more to finish it. Of course, I flubbed on the guage a bit, hence the darker area near the center. 2)The Drama. There was a big hullaballoo when the final clue was released, and I have to admit that spoiled the project for me for a while. Not the clue, not the pattern, just the way that the "discussion" went down. That said, I do like this stole a lot, and am looking forward to wearing it. And yes, I do have a place to wear it.

Next up we have La Luz.
I'd finished the knitting portion of this nearly a year ago. I had the lining all cut out and the materials I used to fill it. And yet, it just sat there, lonely and abandoned on a shelf, waiting for me to complete it.

It is done now, though, and I LOVE using it. I stuffed it with flax seed and lavendar and it feels and smells so lovely when warmed in the microwave for a few seconds. I can't believe I waited so long to finish it.

Finally we have the Lines 'N' Vines Cardigan. I REALLY dislike the way this turned out. I'm not quite sure what I did wrong on the knitting, but it doesn't seem to be quite even on both sides. Which is wierd because it was the same needles, same yarn, same guage, and same number of rows. And of course, the lumpiness of the wearer doesn't help. I believe I will simply harvest the buttons (which are wonderful) and toss the rest.

Not pictured, but also completed, is some bamboo roving that I was spinning into laceweight singles for a friend. I am relieved to have it done, but am having a hard time decideding what to spin next.

My works-in-progress include:
•A bamboo clutch purse that is knitted, but waiting for me to sew in the lining.
•A felted purse that is also waiting for a lining, and a bit of sewing detail.
•The Galveston Shawl which got put into time out when I realized I had flubbed about 15 stitches of the pattern, 2 rounds down. I can't decided whether to just drop and repair those stitches or tink back a couple of rounds. The dropping is the most appealing option, as each round is currently several hundred stitches (I've not got the actual count, but I believe it is in the neighborhood of 800).
•A new pair of felted clogs for Jordan, since his last pair are completely destroyed. I swear that boy is harder on shoes than anyone I know - including me!
•And another secret project that I can tell nothing about except that I'm doing a secret project. I can't wait 'til I'm able to finally start sharing about my secret projects; I'm so excited and happy about them.

The weigh down challenge is not going well, I'm afraid. I reinjured my knee by trying to do too much too soon, and have been somewhat out of commission for a while now. I am, however, finally mended enough to get rolling again on the exercise and am looking forward to finally seeing some progress. Some neat tools I've found to help me along my way:
The Daily Plate (this is the one I find to be the most helpful)
Calorie Counter Database
Nutrition Data

Onward and upward!