Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's on the way

My fleece, that is. I received a notice that the Black Welsh Mountain fleece that I requested has been shipped. The post on Ravelry about it from the breeder was not encouraging - more scurf (sheep dandruff) and second cuts than usual. Hmmm. Well, at the worst I have purchased some expensive mulch for the garden and learned not to buy fleece over the internet. Hopefully it will be better than that. I am ready. I have my Unicorn Power Scour and Rinse, I have a plan and a ready and willing assistant. (DH - Isn't he the best?!)

I have decided that my handspun wrap/lap robe will be a wrap and it's almost complete. I am knitting the last color I will add and have most of a pattern repeat (7 rows) to go. I am going to hunt up some patterns for small projects to knit with at least some of the remaining handspun - some of it was very nice to knit with. The rest (short lengths or whatever) will probably make it into a lap robe next year.

I hope to get to work finishing some of my winter projects over the next few weeks. I'd like to get Mom's hat re-knitted and finish up the striped vest that I haven't looked at yet. I need buttons for the Slinky ribs sweater (I plan to buy those tonight) and put that to use. Rob's blanket will be a boating project again this year and I expect to finish it this summer. I have 2 pairs of socks going and both pairs are at least half completed (as in at least one sock complete). I still have 3 shawls on the needles, but lace makes a great summer knitting project, so I have hope that at least 2 of those shawls will get completed over the summer.

I've been spinning my Wensleydale for a little while each day. I am limited by my back problems as far as how long I can spin each day. Spinning is supposed to be fun, not painful, so I am trying to be good. On the days that I don't spin the Wensleydale, I spend a few minutes plying my silk. I did some wheel spinning over the weekend, but that, too is limited. I have some beautifully dyed correidale pencil roving on the wheel. I've never spun from pencil roving before. I was actually tempted to knit with it unspun, but since I don't like myself in chunky knits, I resisted. I am planning on a worsted weight 3 ply yarn, no specific project in mind. I just like the look and feel of the 3 ply more than 2 ply when I tested it.

Interweave Knits spring issue includes a sweater pattern that I like a lot. It just looks like something that I would wear often. I refer to the cover sweater, the Leaf and Picot Cardigan. I was trying to convince myself that I can handle the calculations necessary to make it in some stash yarn that is fingering weight ..... I think I'll buy something in the right gauge, though, so I can relax and enjoy the knitting process more. I saw on Ravelry that someone is making it with Silky Wool. That sound good to me, if I can get gauge. Decisions, decisions, decisions .....

I hope to get some photos this weekend of our gutted downstairs bath, my current knitting/spinning projects and maybe more signs of spring.

Maryland Sheep and Wool festival classes are posted.
I made my reservation for my cabin for Rhinebeck. I can't wait!

Some good news - the expensive repairs on my car worked. Also, the fishing trip that Bob was supposed to go on (that was missed due to car trouble) is not a total wash. The company has agreed to let him fish another time - essentially a "store credit". Yippee! Mom's second cataract surgery went better than the first, and she's feeling pretty good. She has 3 more weeks of eye drops to go. giggle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snow in the Spring

Spring is here!

It’s crazy and wonderful and I love it! On Monday morning, I was up in New York, on Long Island, visiting with my mother. We were actually supposed to have been home already (I should have been at work) but we had car issues and could not get home until Monday evening. Grrrr. Ruined most of the weekend, blast it.

Anyway, we had heard on the weather report the night before that there might be some snow in the mix in the AM. My brother assured us that only north and west of the city would see any snow. Boy was he wrong! Not that there was any accumulation, but there were huge flakes falling for about 30 minutes. Very pretty and it didn’t cause any problems, so we could relax and enjoy. By the time we arrived home on Monday evening, we had shed layers and had no need for jackets – that was much better. ;))

We went to Long Island so I could spend time with Mom and Bob could go cod fishing. He’s been planning this trip since our last trip to NY when the winds were too high for him to go. He was packed and prepped, we got to NY on Friday, visited with Mom and had a nice dinner, then drove out to Montauk (where the boat is docked) before 1 PM when it was due in from the previous nights’ trip. No boat. We looked around, came back, still no boat. We asked, they said the boat would be in around 2, ate lunch and came back, still no boat. Finally, around 3 PM it arrived. Bob got to reserve his place on the boat with a fishing rod and off we went to check in to the motel we were staying at.

We hung out and enjoyed the sun for a while. Then Bob settled in for a nap and Mom and I went to eat. The battery warning light had come on the dash during the day, but the gauges seemed to be OK, so off we went. After dinner, though, the battery gauge went down fast as I drove. We went straight back to the hotel. Bob was still sleeping. I was supposed to get him up about 10:30 to get ready to leave for the boat, which left the dock at 1 AM. He couldn’t go. We agonized over it, but not knowing how or when we would get back home, knowing that the next day was Sunday and nothing was open, and lots of other details made him decide he had to skip the PREPAID trip.

We slept, got up in the morning and did more agonizing. The guess was that the alternator was shot. How far could we get on what battery power remained? What damage might we do if we pushed it too far? What other choices did we have?

We left Montauk and drove to the Kmart in Bridgehampton - a very stressful 22 miles. We made it. Just. The car died as I put it in park in the parking lot. Bob bought 2 car batteries and we drove back to Mom’s house. From there we made phone calls, agonized more about whether Bob should try (remember, he’s legally blind) to install the alternator himself or have someone do it. We had it replaced by the repair shop because if he had tried and been unsuccessful, we would have had to tow the vehicle to the repair place. They fixed it but not until Monday, so I missed work and a meeting that I am expected to attend. We got home so late that we missed joining younger son and his partner for a birthday celebration, too. I’d like to set that blasted vehicle on fire or blow it up!!!

On a more cheerful note, I have been knitting on my handspun wrap and really enjoying choosing colors and knitting with yarn I spun myself. I’ll try to get pictures this weekend. I have also been knitting on the Eliina shawl and the two socks I have on the needles. I didn’t get spinning done this weekend – that was part of some ruined plans, too. I had planned to spin while on the beach, soaking in the sun ……

I have been researching what to do with my fleece when it arrives. I plan to order some Unicorn Power Scour and rinse. I’ll do a cold soak outside, let it dry and pull it apart to shed as much VM as possible. I’ll also evaluate it to see how much hot water washing it will take. The hot water washing will take place in the kitchen sink, near the stove where I can supplement the hot tap water as needed. I am hoping that one wash and two rinses will do the trick. According to my reading, this is not supposed to be a greasy fleece. I’ll do one small batch first to test my system, then try to do the rest in just two batches. I’m not sure if I will buy tulle to dry it in outside or use cheesecloth (to keep it from blowing away or being stollen by critters but still let air flow through). We have a nice big deck and clothes line to use for drying purposes. Then I have to figure out how to spin it. Brush with dog brushes? Use as is? I don’t own tools for fiber prepping, so I have to improvise or make do. What an adventure! I can’t believe some people go to fiber festivals and come home with 5 or more fleeces at once!

That’s all for now. I hope you are all enjoying spring and savoring your health and homes, especially after the devastation in Japan.

Friday, March 11, 2011


My heart and thoughts go out to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. What a disaster!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I confessed

I finally got up the nerve to break the news about my "slip" to DH. I told him the whole story - how it came about that I am expecting 2-2.5 lbs of raw wool to be delivered and how I feel about it. He laughed! He just laughed and told me that I should get my mother in on the washing since she had agreed that I should experience the "entire process". I think I will. ; ))

Meanwhile, I didn't have a chance to spin last night. I knitted, though, on the Calendula sock for Sharon. I had to rip back to before the gusset yesterday since the sock was just a bit too long. I want these socks to fit properly, so .....

That's all for now. I think I'll stop at the store on the way home from work and buy a few mesh laundry bags in preparation for my delivery. Gulp.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Spinning and fiber craze

It seems, right now, that I can't get enough of spinning and fiber. Don't get me wrong - I have plenty of fiber - but I can't stop buying it. I belong to several groups on Ravelry that encourage experimentation with and learning about different breeds of sheep and their wool/yarn. I read about these breeds, decide I have to have some and .....

It hasn't been very long since I recieved some Finn, Falkland and White Welsh Mountain fiber to spin. I told DH that I was through buying fiber for at least 6 months. Then something came over me.

The latest slip is one I have always said that I would NEVER do - I bought raw wool. I can't explain it. I will have, some time in the end of March/early April, some raw Black Welsh Mountain fiber delivered to my house. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now I am wondering what the h**l I'm going to do with it. Help!

I spun some of my Masham on the drop spindle, some silk on the drop spindle (I thought I had spun enough to ply but the bobbins were not clsoe enough in weight) and some dark alpaca with some dyed mohair locks on the wheel. I was trying to accomplish a more woolen spin and playing around with long draw on the wheel. I am far from long draw but I think I am getting a more woolen yarn. I'll know more when I get it off the bobbin. It's fun, though, experimenting.

My back has been giving me problems lately. It started right around the time I visited Mom in NY. I thought I was making progress on getting better. Twice last week, though, I had some pretty bad muscle spasms. Saturday I decided that life goes on and I did the vacuuming. *Big* mistake. DH was trying to massage the spasms and it hurt so much that I was in tears. I had been putting off PT thinking that time and patience would take care of things, but after Saturday's pain, I decided that I couldn't wait longer. I called for a PT appointment this morning and, of course, no one can see me until next Wednesday. Wouldn't you know it. Grrrr. Well, I have meds and a TENS unit, and I'll be using those as needed. Yes, I am doing some stretching each day and some light exercises. But it hurts towards the mid afternoon.

Knitting progress? A few rows knitting on the lace shawl (I feel good about that), the toe cast on for the second DH sock and the heel gusset is in the works on the Calendula socks for Sharon. It's hard to knit when lying flat on your back or I would have had more knitting done.

We (DH and I) did copper pipe joint soldering on Sunday and got it right the first time! No leaks! The sink and the toilet in the downstairs bathroom are both being moved in our re-do, requiring the moving of the pipes. The room is a mess right now but should look pretty good and be more functional when we are finished. DH is doing most of the work, and with his vision problems, things take longer than usual, but it's getting done. Thank goodness I married a handy man.

We had snow overnight! It was just a bit, but I was shocked to find snow on my car this morning at 8 AM. Then I read the Yarn Harlot's blog and I no longer feel bad.