Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer weekends

I love this weather we are having - warm, even hot later in the day, cool nights and most importantly, sunshine. I feel energized and can't wait to get outside and do things. I enjoy gardening, though I am by no means an expert or all that experienced. But I love to look at pretty things growing around my house.

This year we (read DH and eldest son) have been working on the deck. We have a second level deck and use it a lot, even in the colder weather. DH uses the grill all year round, we eat out there, weather permitting, and have a bird bath (with a pump to circulate water), a water garden and a swing. I am so happy when I can sit on the swing, slowly rocking back and forth, knitting and listening to music or my current audio book or just the sounds of the birds and the neighborhood. This year the deck is getting a face lift. The boards have been cleaned (power-washer and scrubbing), the railing caps have been sanded smooth and this week all of the upright supports are being replaced. We rearranged the furniture and it looks great. The railing boxes are full of flowers and I am looking forward to watching the flowers grow and bloom all year.

Right now, though, it looks pretty desolate and scary (to me). I have developed a fear of heights as I have gotten older. There is no specific cause, no trauma, it just started to bother me about 20 years ago and has gotten worse. I get this twisted, boiling feeling in my stomach and I feel like my heart might escape up my throat when I look out over an edge. I cannot go out on the deck right now except for the part right near the door because the rest of the railing is down for replacement.

On the knitting front, I received my order from Jimmy Beans Wool yesterday with the yarn I ordered for one of the sweater coats in the new Mason Dixon book.  The sweater is called Yank, by Bonnie Marie Burns. (You can see a small picture in her sidebar) Here's a Ravelry link with better photos. This is not a project I will be casting on any time soon, though. The yarn is llama and wool - not my favorite summertime type of project. But it is pretty.     ; )

I hope to spend some time with my spindle this weekend, as well as the Elemental Boatneck, Clapotis and Bob's sweater. There will be some gardening, some cleaning, possibly some boating (if I can convince myself to get up Early in the morning on a day off) and good food. I love that DH and eldest son are great cooks. giggle. Have a great day, wherever you are.

Friday, May 29, 2009


My dear friend Karen is leaving Maryland to move to Berkeley, CA. She has been wanting to do this for a few years. We wanted to do something for her - give her something she would treasure and that would make her think of us for a long time to come. We even managed to surprise her.

Karen is the one on the left, hiding her face. Nancy (on the right) had the unenviable job of having dinner with Karen that night, not spilling the beans and getting Karen back to our LYS (thanks, Maggie) for the party, though Karen originally had no plans to go to knit nite. The surprisers

and the surprisee

The gift - a blanket - a square or more knitted by many of Karen's knitting friends and sewn together. Each square came with a note from the person who knitted it. some explained why they chose that stitch pattern, some mentioned things that Karen taught them and others just wished Karen well.

Nancy also put a book together. She took photos of each square and then matched each note with the square in the book. It should be a very nice addition to the memories.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

spring flowers

My neighbor gave me some iris bulbs a couple of years ago. I planted them promptly but they didn't get flowers for 2 years. This year they made up for the last 2 years. What beautiful blossoms!

Clapotis has gotten to the knit even part.

The sock is almost at the heel.

The Elemental Boatneck is growing slooowly.

And I have started another project.

This is the Cardi Cozy from the new Mason Dixon book.

I told you I had startitis.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Startitis strikes again

I have a severe case, too. At the Needle Exchange in my LYS, I purchased 2 balls of Kidsilk Haze to make the Cardi Cozy in the new Mason Dixon book. I have not yet cast on, but I bought the yarn and the cast on is not far off, I think. I bought someone's linen stash yarn to make the market bag in that same book. I actually did cast on with some sheep and wool yarn - the Creatively Dyed blue and dark grey yarn, for a Clapotis. I tried the coin lace version, but the yarn and the pattern didn't suit each other, so I reverted to the original version. I also cast on for some socks with some yarn that was gifted to me at Christmas. I am still working on the linen stitch boatneck top from IK, the white cotton sweater for DH, my travel sock and Laminaria. I have put aside for the summer season the honka scarf, the grey striped vest and whatever else I was working on. (I just can't remember now, but it seems like there was more than that in the works)

That's not as bad as I thought, really. It looks worse than it is, because of all the project bags scattered throughout the house. I will have to do some sorting and putting away so that order can prevail. Some of the casue of the startitis is that I have been home form work since Tuesday because I lost my balance while riding my bike (trying to get exercise) and sprained my foot (according to the doctor) - the one I had surgery on. Ouch. I have been pretty much on bed rest with the foot elevated, and I got very tired of knitting linen stitch with Hempathy. It takes forever to see any progress.

I planted my upside down tomato plant yesterday. It looks very odd hanging downstairs. My neighbor gave me some Iris tubers a couple of years ago and they are blooming for the first time! They are beautiful. Most of the plants planted last weekend are doing well. A few will have to go back to the store for failure to thrive.

DH has been working very hard fixing up the deck outside. We love sitting out there in the nice weather but it is over 20 years old and was showing it's age. DH has been cleaning, bleaching, sanding and generally giving the deck and railings a great new look without replacing much of anything. He is, right now, out buying some pond liner so we can reinstate my water garden on the deck. I love the sound of running water and the birds seem to love the water feature, too. We already have a bird bath with running water for them, but in the past they have also made use of the water garden for bathing and drinking.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I found a blog contest for you to enter

Darcy is having a contest. Go check it out.

I did no knitting last night! Can you believe it?! I did quite a few rounds on my travel sock while in a meeting, but that's it. By the time I got home from work at 7PM and ate dinner, then cleaned up the kitchen, I just enough time to write my post and add photos. At that point I climbed into bed in preparation for my 4 days in a row of 5:30 rising time. Boring, sorry. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flowers for Mother's Day

It has been our family tradition for many years that on Mother's Day I get to go shopping for the plants and flowers that we plant each year in the garden as my gift. I love buying and planting pretty flowers, so this is a perfect gift for me. (And since it is a gift, I don't have to add up the cost. giggle)

I was worried at first - I could not find Petunias in colors that I liked. I had settled on Dianthus, which I also like but DH does not. Then a cart came by filled with  deep purple petunias and I followed it until it stopped and I (politely) grabbed several pots. I also chose some white petunias for contrast, and a few sweet potato vines 
for added color. These were planted in railing boxes on our 2nd level deck. They look very nice now and they are going to look awesome in 2-3 weeks! Each one of the plastic liners now has a wood frame around it to hold it steadily on the railing and to look nice, too. I hope to get photos of them on the next sunny day.

We bought a Mandevilla plant to grow up in the corner, climbing up the shade cloth support and along the railing. I've never had one of these before and I am looking forward to watching it grow.

I also bought some Dianthus, a fern, white allysum and dichondra It's a beautiful mixture for the pot near my swing.

I have 4 strawberry plants (they have pretty blossoms in addition to producing fruit) on the deck.

They are near the swing also, so I can keep an eye on them. I hope to beat the ants and other creatures to at least a few of the fruits. LOL.

Mom and I each purchased one of these ceramic turtles at the flower show in March. Here is mine, with flowers added.

Mom got one that is mostly green, with smaller flowers painted on it. She hasn't added flowers yet.

The vegetable garden (no photos until things start to grow) will include green peppers, sweet peppers, cucumbers, green beans, tomato and watermelon. I may just add a pumpkin plant to that. We are going to try to grow upside down tomatoes this year. I hope to get that planted tomorrow. I have to get to the farm supply store and get some seed potatoes. Yes, I am going to try to grow my own potatoes this year. I think it will be fun to harvest them this fall.

I did not get as much knitting in as I had originally planned, but I had such a good time planting and enjoying sunny weather for a change that it didn't matter. I washed clothes and hung them on the line. I find that to be a rewarding activity - clean, fresh smelling clothes in the closet and saving money and energy at the same time. The weather cooperated and I was able to get 4 loads completed in one day.

DH and eldest son fixed a delicious leg of lamb dinner on the grill (rotisserie) and handled the clean up, then DH went out (I was tired at that point) to get ice cream for dessert. What a wonderful weekend.

I spun a little llama on my drop spindle and knitted on the linen stitch boatneck and my Laminaria shawl. I did not knit on ribbing in honor of the holiday. ; )

My mother was involved in similar activities at her house, (the way I feel about knitting, that's how she feels about her garden and pond) and later in the day my brothers gathered to "hang out", so she was happy.

We thought often of Bob's mother, who is no longer with us. We miss her a lot.

Friday, May 08, 2009

It's Friday!

Thank goodness. I am trying very hard to make some lifestyle changes. One of those changes is to get up early and get into work by 7AM rather than allowing myself to sleep in and get in at 9 or 9:30. In addition to allowing me to get out of work while there is still daylight, nice weather, and time to do something, I actually feel better once I am at work. It's just hard to get up that early when there is no one to tell me that I am late. After all, who chooses to get up at that hour of the day(night)? This week I managed to get here at 7 all 4 days that I worked. Yippee! But now I am feeling it, so I am more happy than usual to be ending this week.

What are you doing for Mother's Day? I am looking forward to some indulgence time on Sunday. I want to work on Laminaria, and I have been too tired in the evenings to do that this week. I have chosen, instead, to knit on the elemental boatneck and DHs sweater. I hope to spin some, too, either on the wheel or my new drop spindle.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there who qualify in some way, shape or form. Enjoy time with your family.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sheep and Wool report

No, I am not confused. I am aware that this is my husband with his fish, not a sheep or wool. ; )
This was my DH on my birthday with his 36.5 inch, 20 lb. Chesapeake Bay striped bass (or, as they say around here, rock fish). It tasted very good. He deserved to be first in this post.

Now on to the sheep and wool report.

This wonderful fiber is a Grafton Fiber Batt. I have number 502. It is so soft and has such deep wonderful colors, that I couldn't resist. To be honest, I've seen other blog about these batts and was happy to see some for myself. Once I touched and saw, there was no leaving it behind. I bought 2. ; )
Spindle - the whorl was made with dalmata and the shaft with cocobolo wood. I have the receipt but it doesn't give the name of the vendor. Looking at the list of vendors, I think it might be Turnstyles. He had spindles, niddynoddies, shawl pins, pens, bowls, and other things, all made with beautiful wood. His booth was in the main building. My spindle spins very nicely.

I could not get a photo that showed this color accurately, but this is the best of them. It is a beautiful soft green called Pine. The yarn is Shelridge Farm's wool cotton blend. I purchased this and the lighter color below (called seafoam) (that color is not represented correctly, either) for a cardigan sweater. The label says DK weight, but I think it's a little heavier than that. I have 7 skeins of the Pine and 2 of Seafoam. I have not yet chosen a pattern, but I have a basic picture in mind.

This is Creatively Dyed Yarn Beaches in the Orinda colorway. I have (2) 500 yard skeins. I will swatch for the Coin Lace version of Clapotis. I think the color changes might distract too much, so it may be used for another regular Clapotis or for something else. I am not sure, but I am sure that I really like the colors in this yarn.

This is Creatively Dyed yarn Calypso in the Blue Mac colorway. It is a sock yarn, but comes in a 500 yard skein also, so I will obviously have enough for mitts or something else along with the socks. I just love the colors .

This is 360 yards of a superwash merino dyed naturally by a fellow spinning guild member.

That same person makes jewelry - these are the two pieces I purchased this year. This one is for me.

This piece (if I can part with it) will be for my mother for some gift or another.

I think it was less busy this year compared to last year, but the booths were still very full and busy on Sat. There were long lines for the Fold to buy STR, and long lines for fair merchandise, (as usual) and a lot of other booths were full enough that we didn't enter until Sunday. Thanks to the rain, Sunday was much less busy than last year. The weather was really disgusting, but most of the people that were there were good sports about it all. It was just about impossible to spot people you might be looking for since most people had hoods or hats or some other head covering on due to rain. On Saturday we were able to admire the many hand knit garments that were worn. No such luck on Sunday.

On Saturday we listened to a talk by Judith McKenzie McCuin on sheep and the history of same. I don't know how she makes ancient history sound interesting, but she does. Funny, too. Saturday night we went to the spinning gathering as usual. I always enjoy that. There are very experienced spinners, some brand new (bought their first spindle or wheel that day) spinners and lots in between. They have spinning contests that are fun to watch. I really like to just look at what everyone else is doing, check out fibers and wheels or spindles I haven't seen before.

On Sunday we listened to a talk about Peruvian weaving and how the association helps to preserve the history and pattern of ancient weavers. We saw a demonstration of such a weaving, and I was amazed! Such tiny, detailed work - lovely, but how tedious it must be to sit there for hours and make only a few inches of progress. Remind me the next time I whine about ribbing boredom or sleeve island to smack myself. We also heard the story of Frog Tree Yarns - that was an unexpected bonus. I loved working with their sport weight alpaca (that's what my son's Christmas vest was knitted with) and that was before I heard their story.

I purchased 2 S & W sweatshirts and a T shirt that is so big I will use it for a sleep shirt. It is size XXL and two of me can fit in it. LOL. Karen and I both bought the Stix Fix kit - a little kit to fix minor nicks on wood needles - and I bought another package of the small Chibi needles and a square circular needle. I needed a size 3 for my boatneck project (my other size 3 of sufficient length was in use and not likely to be free for a while) so I decided to try the square ones. I like knitting with the needles, which surprises me since I didn't like them last year when I tried them, but the cable is a little too soft and pliable. It sometimes takes work to get the stitches up on the needle from the cable because the cable droops pretty significantly right at the end of the needle. I am working with hempathy, not a heavy cotton, and I don't have much on the needle so I am surprised that this is happening. The jury is still out on these needles. I love the color of them, though. ; )

That's it. I can't wait for the next fiber event!