Saturday, May 31, 2008

Animal Antics

This fella (or lady - I can't tell the boys from the girls when it comes to American Robins) is one of the proud parents of a nest of blue eggs. Actually, that was true when this photo was taken. It is now the parent of 3 little baby birds who live in a nest just under the top level of our deck.

Yesterday I heard a great commotion in the yard and looked up to see two birds dipping and swooping, one chasing the other. The one being chased was this Blue Jay.

Apparently he got too close to the nest and was being driven away. He did stay away but had to prove that he was no chicken (no pun intended) by sitting on the nearby fence for a few extra minutes before flying away.  

Since Eldest son has moved back in with us, we have had to adjust to having cats in the house again. One of his cats loves to get outdoors. We fight a battle over the screen door all the time since we sit out on the deck a lot and he'd love to join us. This particular time he was let out on purpose for some play time. He looks ferocious, doesn't he? LOL.

I have noticed that my vegetable plants are disappearing. I suspected the culprit but yesterday evening I got proof.

I was trying to avoid a fence and was willing to share the garden bounty but I won't get any garden bounty if they don't leave the baby plants alone long enough to grow!

Knitting on Cables and Os sleeves is moving along. I have about 8 of the necessary 12.5 inches knitted. One more hexagon for the swirl shawl is complete. I have been spinning a lot - both wheel and drop spindle and that has been so enjoyable. Maybe later today I can get some photos of what I have been doing.

I purchased 2 Sivia Harding patterns this morning and I can't wait to find just the right yarn to use for each of these shawls. I bought the Hanging Garden Shawl and Waves in the Square Shawl.
I love Sivia Harding patterns and really enjoyed making the Diamond Fantasy Shawl. I am planning a dyeing day at my house in a few weeks and may use that opportunity to dye some beautiful lace weight alpaca (gifted to me by Karen) just for this purpose. I can't wait to use the un-dyed yarn (I have 2 sock yarns and the lace weight alpaca) to play with color. I have some wool lace weight left from last year to play with and I plan to dye some fiber again, too.

And just because they are pretty, I will leave you with these final images. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's Monday....but it's Tuesday

I love that this will be a short week but I was a little confused all day today.

I spent a lot of time this last weekend thinking about my father and FIL who were both in the armed forces. I spent a lot of time thinking about those who serve now. There's loneliness on both ends - family and service personnel. Certainly communication is better now - no one has to wait for 6 months to get a letter - but that's just not the same thing as being together. As for safety - that's not much improved since the days our parents served. The danger today's soldiers face just comes in different forms. There are still hardships on both ends, too. Lack of familiar things far away and lack of the ease of two parent households on this end.  Thanks to all who serve.

I had a great weekend. We did not get to go on the boat (winds 15-20 knots with gusts to 25) but got stuff done and had fun, too. Boat improvements happened. Walking happened. All 3 days. Laundry, yard work happened. Best of all, spinning and knitting happened. Yippee!

This fiber

became these singles

Those singles became this yarn

I am not happy with the way it turned out but that is not the fault of the fiber or the dye artist. I should have Navaho plied this, I think, to maintain the color sequence. I had decided to try something different and split the roving length wise, spin each section and then 3 ply it. At any given time, though, only 2 of the singles color sections coincided. Oh, well. Maybe someone else will appreciate it.

After the plying was done I went back to spinning this yummy wool/silk blend

Into this

I started spinning this fiber 1.5 years ago, after my first trip to Rhinebeck, which is where I purchased it. Some day it will be a shawl. It is very soft and I want to just cuddle up in it. I love the colors, too - mostly purple but with a lot of dark grey and even some teal, though that doesn't come through much.

My drop spindle was busy this weekend, too.

I picked up this beautiful fiber at MD sheep and wool.

Cables and Os sleeves are getting longer. I didn't take another photo - it looks just like the body with gradual increases. I did take a photo of the increasing number of hexagons for the Swirl Shawl.

Last but not least, we have some beautiful peony blossoms for your viewing pleasure.

Tomorrow we'll have bird stories. 'Bye.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Productivity continues

Karen was scheduled to teach a class last night so we did not walk. It is absolutely amazing what I can get done when I am not expending all of my energy doing healthy things!

For instance, I washed, dried, folded and/or hung a load of laundry last night. I did my back exercises, which I have been neglecting lately. I also taped off the entry hall, cut in and rolled the primer (2 coats) on the part I could reach. I cleaned the painting supplies and put them away. I spun on my wheel for 20 minutes, I spun on my drop spindle for about the same time and I knitted 4 rows on my Cables and Os sleeves. I even waited up for DH to get home from work. (they have him scheduled for all evening shifts this week so we aren't seeing much of each other) Of course, I paid for the slightly late night this morning at 5:30, but it was worth it. ; )

I may have to give some thought to arranging to have at least one evening at home without walking during the week, every week(in addition to the knit night at the LYS). It is the time involved (1.25 - 1.5 hours) out of the day for the walk but it is also the fatigue when I get home (this walking happens after I have worked a full day and spent at least 2 hours in the car commuting) that keeps me from getting much else accomplished.

My new plants seem to be doing fairly well, with a couple of exceptions. My strawberry plants and the daisy that I planted in the pot with it got sunburned. I moved them under the shade cloth. I thought they required full sun, but maybe not. I have to look at the tag again (in the store, since I threw away the ones that came with the plants). Everything else looks good, and Mother Nature has been taking care of the watering for me. giggle.

The baby wrens in the bird house are chirping away. I have no idea when flying day will be here but I hope I get to see it. The robins who built a nest under our deck have at least 2 eggs, possibly more. I can't see the whole nest from my viewing point on top of the deck so I am not sure how many eggs are really in there. We have a 2 level deck and the robins like to build a nest on the cross beams just under the upper level. I can look through the gaps between the deck boards on top and see into the nest, but not the whole thing. I try not to bother them often, and sometimes I am quiet enough that they don't even know I am there. The adult will stay on the nest until I make a noise or they go to get some food.

It's my lunch time at work and I need to get back to work. Have a great day. Tonight hopefully I will be seaming the shoulders of the sweater and forging ahead with the sleeves.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Productivity is the name of the game

First of all, it is time for a disclaimer. I was not forced or coerced into "racing" that person with the stroller on the trail - I wanted to catch her almost as much as Karen did. giggle. I have learned my lesson, though. Groan.

I was very productive yesterday and hope to continue to do that throughout the week. We did our walk, though a bit slower to allow my old muscles to recover a little bit. I then filled my gas tank. That's a terrible experience these days. In addition to the smell, which gives me a headache, there's the price. I try not to look at the amount on the pump since I have to buy gas anyway. Denial, I know. I then shopped for and found curtain rods that will mount far enough from the wall to let the bedroom curtains hang past the blinds on the window. I went to Target and bought all of the sundries that we have been needing that I have been putting off shopping for(because I have been doing garden and house and knitting things. Also, I am an impulse shopper, so the fewer times I go into a store like Target, the healthier the bank account is.). I brought all that stuff home and up the stairs (felt like a million stairs after Saturday's exertions) into the house and went *back out* to get groceries. (I really dislike spending my weekend being out and about. I am a home body) I bought lots of good stuff and not too much bad stuff (except for the 12! 12-packs of DDP, which were on sale) and brought that home. (Yup, up the stairs again) I cleaned out the fridge and put the new food away, helped DH make dinner - fish, pasta and cut up veggies - and cleaned up the kitchen, including washing the floor. I was impressed with myself. LOL. By that time it was about 8 PM and I was running out of energy.

I had managed to finish the back of Cables and Os and so I attempted to join at the shoulder. First I tried a 3 needle bind off. I didn't like the way it looked, (No, I didn't think to take a picture, sorry) in addition to the fact that I somehow got one stitch off so the cables and rows of twisted knit stitches didn't line up. Rip.
I next tried Kitchener. I think it looks OK but I wonder whether it could look better. I did not do the other shoulder because I want to look at it tonight and re-evaluate. I hope to remember to take a picture tonight. I did some work on the sleeves once I had the back of the sweater off the needle that I needed. I discovered that I cannot count to 80 accurately, though at least I am consistent. I had 81 stitches instead of the required 80 on both sleeves. I did the set up rows and the first increase row. I am knitting both sleeves at once on one needle so the rows take a while, but this is the last major section to be completed so I am excited about finishing.

I have 3 hexagons for the Swirl Shawl complete. I would like to get one or two done per day. If I get myself organized I might be able to do that.

Productivity: I have a mental plan for the week to get things done. I have goals. When I get to the end of the week and DH has the weekend off, I want to be able to do fun things on said weekend off with DH. He doesn't get many full weekends off at Home Depot. It's not an auspicious beginning to the week, though. My first goal (for work today) is shot to H***. I was paged on the way in to work and spent a good 3 hours on informing a family about a research device, getting consent, being in the operating room waiting, and then the patient didn't need the device. Don't get me wrong - that is great for him and I am happy. That is actually my favortie part of the job. I just wish it hadn't taken so long. It's hard for me to get into paperwork that I know will be time consuming and tedious when I have not been able to get into it from the start of my day. But I will adjust my goals and do my best to be productive for the remainder of the day.

Lunch time is over. It's back to work time for me - on to the dreaded paperwork. Have a great day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sunny Saturday but no boating

It was a good day but not the day I expected. I met Karen at 9 and we walked from her house to the Farmer's Market in Bel Air at the courthouse. We browsed and made a few purchases. I brought home some strawberries, red leaf lettuce, tomato and rosemary bread.  Next time I might try some of the cheeses. As the season progresses there will be more locally grown fruits and vegetables available. I am making an effort to buy local.

We then walked our 4.5 miles. This particular walk might just have crippled me, though. We had walked a little slower than usual on the first half of the trail so we picked up the pace a little on the way back to try to make up the difference. We usually walk the 4.5 miles in 1 hour and about 5 minutes.  More than halfway back I mentioned that I kept expecting to catch up with the person ahead of us pushing a stroller. Competitive Karen immediately said "Oh, good. A goal" and off we went. We did our best, really pushed, and though it took a while, we were actually getting close.   When we were about 10-15 feet behind her and getting ready to pass, she took off at a run up the rest of the hill.  I was sooo bummed.  At some point I noticed that the T-shirt she had on said officer candidate training or something like that. I can't believe we were trying to out-walk a service person in training! 

We were supposed to go on the boat after I finished my walking. When I got home Bob and I talked about the advisability of boating with the latest forecast - winds 10-20 with gusts up to 30 and waves forecast at 2-3 feet. We opted to stay home. Bob went to get the boat from the marina and bring it home for some work. I decided to plant my veggies, do laundry and things like that. My legs hurt so much from the walking that I didn't care that I was sitting in the middle of the very damp (we had rain last night) mulch digging holes for the plants. I then rearranging the soaker hose and buried it.  Finally the garden is ready. I think this will be a good garden year.

Bob got home with the boat and it is now in the driveway awaiting new bottom paint and other fix ups for the season. The clothes were washed and dried on the line outside. Almost all of my plants are in the ground or in pots. Here's a picture of the carnations I planted in the front bed.

I purchased a fern and some geraniums at the Flower show in March and managed to keep them alive all this time (I don't do well with indoor plants) and I was able to plant those in the pot on the deck that I had planned for them.

Last but never least is my knitting progress. I finally got some photos of the swirl shawl beginning that are color accurate.

Here is my Cables and O's as of now. I am just getting ready to bind off the center back neck stitches. I have completed the ribbing for both sleeves and as soon as the back is finished I will start the patterned portion of both sleeves.

It's time to settle down for some drop spindle spinning and finishing up the back of my sweater. And resting my aching legs. I hope I can move in the morning - we are supposed to meet to walk again. I will not race anybody tomorrow, no matter the provocation. LOL.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On the other hand....

Maybe I won't wait until Sunday to show you some Swirl Shawl. ; ))

The color is not right in this photo but it shows the stitches better. Maybe in the daylight I will be able to get a more color accurate shot. These are fun to knit, but once I get a bunch of these hexagons in a row it might not be so portable. We'll see. For now it is very entertaining.

Have a great weekend.

It's Friday!

The weather isn't good but having the weekend starting right now is good enough for me. We had hoped to get out on the boat tomorrow but the winds may keep us home. We'll see in the morning.

I did cast on for the Swirl Shawl last night but got only 6 rows in and frogged it. I read the helpful hints that were posted about it here and since I did, indeed use the long tail cast on, I ripped it and will start with the knitted cast on tonight.

I plan to spin on my wheel tonight and cast on that shawl, then finish up with a few more rows of ribbing for the sleeves of Cables and O's. Tomorrow will be a working day. Karen and I plan to meet at 9 to go to the Farmer's Market in town, then do our 4.5 mile walk. then I will head home and it the weather does get in he way of boating, i will be doing laundry and priming the walls in the entry hall. If we do go boating, we will have some running around to do to get stuff ready to go. That, of course, is well worth the trouble. ; ))

Maybe by Sunday I will have one hexagon knitted. I also hope to get my completed shawl blocked. I don't know how cooperative my son's cats will be with leaving that alone. This could be an interesting project.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I am in the finishing groove

I finished the Diamond Fantasy Shawl over the weekend. I finished the test knitting sock called Tilt last night. I loved it, BTW, and this is the site you will be able to get the pattern from: Fiber Dreams

Tonight is knitting night at my LYS and I am looking forward to making some progress on the sleeves for Cables and O’s. I set it aside so I could do my test knitting in a timely manner and now I am going to jump back on that project. I would love to be able to wear it at work in June or July to ward off the A/C that sometimes works overtime in my office area.

I recently saw a finished Swirl Shawl (I purchased the pattern and yarn at MD Sheep and Wool) on this blog and it made me very anxious to cast on. I was trying to be good and complete my sweater first, but I was informed by an enabling friend that since I had finished one shawl that I should – needed – to cast on for another right away. Shawls, you see, are in a totally different category from sweaters and socks and other things and it is, therefore OK to not finished the sweater before casting on for the shawl. I choose my friends wisely, don’t I? I may cast on tonight. Giggle.

I planted my carnation plants last night, and they look just right in the spot I chose for them. Just above where they are now living is a bird house full of little baby birds. At least I assume that’s what all that tiny little peeping and chirping is when I get close. There are several voices but I can’t tell how many and I won’t get close enough to find out for fear of scaring them away.

The vegetable garden has been prepared and after a layer of mulch to cut down on the weeding (hopefully today or tomorrow) I will be able to plant the veggie plants I brought home on Sunday. I should have started seeds earlier and I didn’t, so I ended up buying plants to go directly into the ground. Seeds or plants, I will still get to pick fresh veggies from my garden in a couple of months. : )

We'll finish up with a few more Arboretum photos:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Diamond Fantasy Shawl is complete

I hope you all had a great Mother’s Day.

I spent most of Saturday doing my walking and then painting – priming and painting – the living room and hall upstairs in my house. I am really pleased with the color. It is neutral (we hope to sell the house in a year or so) but still a color and it blends well with the new carpet. My muscles are reminding me about each and every time I went up and down the step ladder and all of the steps I climbed in the process of washing out rollers and paint brushes. We have one more coat of paint to go on the hall walls, and then DH and or eldest son must paint the entry hall. That requires being on a tall ladder and a board stretched over the stairs going to the basement and is not something I will ever be found doing.

Sunday I was a good DooBee (anybody remember Romper Room?) and did my 4.5 miles with Karen. Then I went to Home Depot and shopped for my plants for the year. I came home with 3 carnation plants for the front garden (to provide flowers without the need to plant every year since they are perennials). I bought some tomato, cucumber, green pepper and green bean plants for the veggie garden, vinca, petunias in several colors (this one is called lemon Zest) and vining vinca for the pots and boxes on the deck, and a twisted trunk hibiscus. My deck will be very pretty and welcoming. I planted some of the plants I brought home.
Strawberry plants with a pretty red daisy in the center.

Then, since my legs were killing me at that point, left the rest to be planted on Tuesday after work. This is what I have to plant on Tuesday.

I hope they didn’t all blow away in the winds last night!

I spent the rest of the day doing some spinning (the last bobbin of the Spunky Eclectic spring Mud fiber)

and knitting. I finished the Diamond Fantasy Shawl!!!!! I haven’t blocked it yet. I am so excited – I can’t wait to wear it.

I cord bind off

A close up of the pattern.

Tilt, the test knitting sock, is going well now that the size issue has been taken care of.

I love this pattern and it looks great in the Trekking yarn. I am a little concerned about the durability of the fabric since I had to go to size 2 needles to get the fit around the leg that I needed. It will be worth the effort to get it just right, though.

I put the chicken in to roast but DH came home from work and did the rest – mashed potatoes, veggies, gravy and biscuits. Yum! He even did the dishes! How’s that for a peach of a guy? He started my day with a gift of chocolate and ended it with a wonderful dinner and no clean up. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Flowers and trees and shrubs, Oh my!

This is one of my mom's orchids that she has been cultivating. She started with an inexpensive one from Home Depot a while ago (so that if she killed it she wouldn't be wasting much money). Then she got another. When she came to MD for the flower show she picked up 2 more. This is one of them. To say they are thriving is an understatement. I wish I had her green thumb. Unfortunately that's not one of the body parts I inherited from her.

This is a lilac that I photographed at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in NY. I love the scent of these flowers. I am determined to get one for myself this year.

A profusion of pink flowers

Knees. These are tree knees. They belong to some sort of cypress and they are really called knees. I think they look like a prairie dog family (extended family to be sure)

This looks to me like Ma and Pa tree knee leaning comfortably on each other.

Moving on to knitting content, I am test knitting a sock for a designer. The yarn is Trekking XXL. I really like the pattern and think it will make a wonderful sock design. I struggled to get the correct gauge and fit but it seems to be working now. Here's what I had completed as of Sunday afternoon. I've made progress since but didn't have time to get a photo.

I have about 2 more inches to go on the back of the Cables and Os cardigan. I have already started ribbing for the sleeves - I am knitting them at the same time on one needle. I swatched for DH's cotton sweater. I did 2 gauge swatches - I assigned the design to DH. He's a computer person so I suggested that he play around with one of his programs and come up with the stripe sequence that he wants for the chest area. He liked that idea.

Time to do my back exercises and get to bed. One of the things I really enjoyed about vacation was not having to get up at 5:30 AM. sigh. I really need to win that lottery.