Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of summer. We rarely, however, start summer with temps near 100. Wow! It was a very hot weekend, and the hot weather hasn't ended with the holiday weekend.

We tried to go boating on Saturday and again the motor caused problems. Last time the motor over heated. This time we didn't even leave the dock - we never got the motor started. We worked on it for about 7 hours before giving up, went back the next day and put in another 4 hours or so. Still no progress. Currently we have no spark getting to the motor. Cause unknown. There's a fuel supply problem, too, but the important part is the no spark at the spark plug. Ugh.

I washed just about all of the 7 lbs of BFL raw fleece. There is a bag that I forgot about - maybe 3-4 oz that still needs to be scoured, but the rest is done. Whew! That's a lot of work! Lots of vm showered the deck and the yard as I vigorously shook the fleece at each step. There's still more to get rid of, but it actually comes out fairly easily. I am feeling overwhelmed right now with fleeces and parts of fleeces all over the living room. I think I will pack away the Black Welsh Mountain and the Jacob (disaster) fleece for a while, and concentrate on spinning projects already in the works (North Ronaldsay and Icelandic) and prepping the BFL fiber for spinning. I want to do as much of that prep as I can outdoors since it's so messy.

I am planning to participate in the Tour de Fleece again this year, and I think it will be a spindle effort only this year. I am planning to lend my wheel to a friend for a while, and I've realy been into spindle spinning recently. I have to settle on a challenge and make sure my supplies are ready. I need to work with a fiber that I have not yet spun and set some other, personal, goal. I am considering learning "ply on the fly" as my personal challenge. I had planned to work on a cabled yarn (on the wheel) as my challenge, but right now that doesn't interest me. The spindles have me captured. I want two more!

Knitting progress - the cardigan has not grown at all. I am really concentrating on knitting Saroyan for my co-worker, and until that's done, I am not knitting on the sweater. I did start that other shawl while in NY last weekend, and I knit on that intermittently, when I need a break from Saroyan. I am not a good monagamous knitter. I haven't touched a sock in a few weeks. That needs to change, because I am near the end on both, but knitting is my hobby and not a job or assignment, so I am going with the flow, other than finishing up the gift scarf.

I planted seeds in the veggie garden yesterday. The plants already planted are doing well. We have tomato, cuke, green beans, watermelon, green pepper and potato plants. I added seeds for more green beans,  corn and sunflower seeds, plus I transplanted the asparagus to the garden from the railing box I had started them in. DH set up an impulse sprinkler to use this year for the garden since we had problms with uneven coverage with the soaker hoses last year.  I plan to move the lettuce plants to a shady spot now that it's hot out (now there's an understatement!)  and plant more petunias in those pots. The petunias are loving this hot weather.

I think I spent too much time in the heat over the weekend and I am not used to it at all. I don't feel well today - very weak and tired (not sleepy, just no energy) and a bit of a headache and nausea. I am trying to hydrate myself, but that's tough when nauseated. I think I will work an abbreviated day and head home to rest. Inside. In the AC. I work in the AC but they frown on finding people lying on the floor resting instead of working. Funny, isn't it? LOL

Weekend Away

We spent last weekend (not Memorial Day weekend) in NY, on Long Island visiting with Mom, mostly. We ate out a couple of times, talked a lot, and on Saturday (the only day with decent weather for part of the time) we went to a fiber festival!
We had planned to go to the Arboretum   to see the spring plants, flowers and the ospreys that nest there. Mom found something in the paper, though, about an Alpaca Fiber Festival at this museum farm.
We had a great time. They had vendors carrying lots of fiber related stuff: fiber to spin in various forms, yarn, weaving, rug hooking, sewing stuff. They had alpacas, llamas, angora bunnies (which Mom was very tempted by), sheep and some goats. They had dog agility, llama agility and shepherding demos as well as weaving, dyeing with natural dyes, spinning (including flax and spinning on a great wheel), knitting and I am sure that I forgot something.

I was so good .... I couldn't go home without anything new, but I limited my purchases to some stitch markers, a braid (4 oz) of Polworth in blues and grays and a one ounce bag of a blend of merino/yak/mulberry silk. Yum.

We had no downpours or severe storms but had lots of drizzly, misty, cloudy weather and it never got out of the 60's. If we had stayed in MD we would have had little rain and temps in the 70's and just into the 80's. Imagine the shock to our systems when we got back and dealt with 80-90 degree temps since then!

Bob went to go fishing and to retrieve his half a fishing rod that he had left on the boat during our last fishing debacle.  It was a no-go. They had told him they had it and would hold it, but there was no sign of his fishing rod, which he had made 30 something years ago. I feel very bad for him. I think I'll send an email.

I started on the back of my cardigan and have the picot cast on and 1.5 pattern repeats done. I also made huge progress on Saroyan, which I have decided to push to get finished. A friend lost her 20 year old grandson 2 weeks ago and she needs a hug. This will be it.

Despite my intentions, no spinning was done over the weekend. I did show Mom my raw BFL fleece (part of it, not all of it) and she is fascinated. I'll have to keep her informed of the progress, maybe send her a lock at each stage.

The drive there and back was pretty good but I think the travel time of year has begun and we'll have to plan to avoid Sunday traffic for the summer.

I've taken pictures, but on eldest son's camera and he can't find the cord that will allow me to download the pictures to the computer .....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I took pictures but ....

I didn't have time to upload them. The computer was not cooperating, DH needed it for something important and I was doing laundry in preparation for the trip to NY. By the time it was ready, I wasn't. Sorry. I am not likely to get them uploaded now until we come back because tonight is knitting at the LYS and then ironing and packing when I get home, then bed. We hope to leave early in the AM to be able to have most of the day in NY.

I did a bit of North Ronaldsay spinning last night but mostly I concentrated on finishing the sleeves of my cardigan. Success! I can now cast on the back section.

Eldest son found another robins's nest yesterday. We had no idea that there was one in the bush right next to the front door. The babies in it are pretty big - I think it must be close to *flying day*. It is very cool to be hosts to new birds.

The new scarf is coming along well. I have knitted about 2 inches of the 3 inches required for the next step in the construction of this shawl. I was so anxious to get started on it yesterday that I neglected to read the instructions fully and had no stitch markers with me when I needed them. Paper clips sufficed while at work, but I was glad to switch to markers once I got home. Markers are easier to slip along, and the scarf looks more normal on the needles. I already get strange looks as I knit and walk to work.

I tried to flick some of the BFL locks while sitting in the kitchen waiting for dinner to be ready last night. (I have mentioned that I am lucky enough to have a husband who does all of the cooking, right?) Just setting the fiber on the table left behind a coating of vm that made me quickly decide not to do that inside any more, unless I have a huge tarp or something under me.  The good news is that it comes out easily. I may bring the  cold soaked batch of fiber with me to Mom's house so I can sit on her deck and flick card while we talk. Then I will be ready to wash when I get back.
On the other hand, while the fiber is cleaner, it is not clean and I 'm not sure DH will appreciate driving for 5 hours with that scent in the vehicle ..... maybe I'll leave it home. Compromise  leads to harmony and a long marriage .....     

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have a new project - Pogoda. It is a scarf with a non-typical construction. I first read about it on the Keyboard Biologist blog, I mentioned in my previous post. Last night I was pondering knitting projects for my visit to Mom's house this weekend. They need to be simple because we talk a lot when I am there and I can't pay all that much attention to a pattern. I just didn't have much in that area going on. I remembered the downloaded book, pulled it out and looked up the yardage for the Pogoda scarf, and found something very nice in my stash. I worked a small gauge swatch just to be sure I will like the resulting fabric and cast on this morning. So far, so good.

My BFL cold soaked fleece section is drying at home. I wasn't sure if it could go straight into hot water from the cold, though I thought it could.   I really don't have time to scour that much fleece before departure time on Friday. I decided to dry it first, then I won't have to worry about mold or other nasties. Tonight I will either wash a bit of the soaked fiber or do some flicking so that it will be ready to scour when I get back. I plan to do a bit of each to evaluate the best method.

I spindle spun some of the Icelandic last night. It's looking pretty good. I'll be bringing that with me to Mom's, along with the North Ronaldsay for spindle spinning, and hope to make some good progress on both. My sweater and Sharon's sock will also come along. I like variety.  ; ))

It's rainy and disgusting weather outside but I don't dare complain. I am not displaced from my house due to flood waters or nuclear accidents or tornadoes (that spelling does not look right but I looked it up ...) or ......

Have a good day.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday Morning Blues

Nothing in particular causing the blues. it's just a general "I wish the weekend was longer " kind of thing. I want more fiber time than I get on weekdays. I know, it could be so much worse. I'll shut up now.

A batch of BFL is getting a cold soak right now (actually since yesterday afternoon) and I'll change the water when I get home. I am hoping to get rid of most of the yuck factor with cold rather than hot water. The water was *really* dirty yesterday after only a few minutes of soaking. I am going to wear gloves to change the water. ; )

I cleaned my little sample bags of fiber yesterday and both should be dry by tonight. I'll try to get some pictures and do a test flick and spin soon.

I spent about 2 hours flicking Jacob fleece yesterday. I estimate that almost half is going in the garden as mulch. I could be overly particular, but I don't think so.

The North Ronaldsay  fiber is spinning up nicely. I fulled a singles last night (it should be dry by today) to see if I liked that yarn, and I will keep spinning for the 3 ply I originally had in mind. Then I'll see which I like more for the project.

The Icelandic fiber is calling to me - it's such and easy and pleasurable spinning project. I could easily spin nothing but that right now. I have other things to work on, though, including my knitting. I finally sat down and figured out the problem on my sleeve caps for the cardigan from IK, fixed it and got back on track. Now I am just knitting along, trying to get back to where I was when I noticed the problem. I still haven't done the bind off of Bob's sock, but I did turn the heel of the second Calendula sock for Sharon. It's cable pattern time! Yippee!

Lace. I want to knit lace. When these socks are completed, I plan to knit the cardigan and lace. I want to get those WIP shawls off the needles and onto my shoulders and there are a few new ones I have in mind. ... summer is usually good lace kntting time. I hope it will be this year, too. The lace shawls that I have started in the last 2 years have all hit snags and sit pretty much neglected.

I was reading the Keyboard Biologist's blog and saw a scarf pattern that I love. She loved it, too, and whipped it out in a short period of time. It doesn't take a lot of yarn (none of the patterns in the book do) and I like that. I have a good amount of yarn in amounts not large enough to knit a full shawl. I bought the whole book because I can see some gifts in there for my famliy and friends. It is safely stored on my I pad, convenient whenver I need yardage info.  ; )

Friday, May 13, 2011

MDSW 2011

I had such an awesome time on Sunday.  It was a wonderful way to spend Mother's Day. I went with Melanie to the sheep and wool festival. This was the first time in many years that I attended only 1 day of the 2 and I had mixed feelings. I was nervous that I wouldn't have enough time but knew  that I was going to NYSW in October and so would have a "second chance". The weather was perfect and the crowds were sparse (great for shoppers but I imagine the vendors were not so happy. OTOH, I read somewhere that the purchases tended to be larger so maybe they made out OK)  I did not purchase any yarn, and that's a first for me. I did get a spindle, a shawl pattern and fiber.

Here's my spindle. it's a Driftwood spindle and is much lighter than it looks. It might actually be too light for what I had in mind, but I can always spin something different on it.

 Jacob roving from Wind and Willow Farm.

Next we have 4 oz. of Wensleydale and BFL roving from Feederbrook Farm. I have no idea what I will do with this but love the two fibers, so I thought I would try a blend.
 I bought a couple of $1.00 sample bags of fiber I have not tried before. These are raw fiber bags. Apparently now that I have started with raw fiber I just can't escape it. The first one is Lincoln X Merino.
 Look at those locks! And that color is so deep.
The next one is Lincoln.

This bag is much more dirty. It might go  into the trash after washing if it doesn't get much cleaner. Even I have my limits.

The Spindlers group on Ravelry theme for the month is Time Travel. I had the idea to spin up something reminiscent of the Diana Gabaldon books about Jamie and Claire and so decided to spin a Scottish  (preferably) or British breed in a natural color and make a pair of fingerless mitts, which I can totally see them wearing. I made a list of possibilities and headed straight for Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Sure enough, they had some North Ronaldsay fiber and I purchased 5 ounces.

 I plan a 3 ply yarn and hope to dye some of it for a small colorwork pattern on the mitts. Apparently this fiber felts easily so I will spin first, then dye. It feels very soft and downy - not at all what I was expecting. Somehow I thought that a sheep who eats mostly seaweed and endures Scottish weather near the sea would have a fairly coarse fiber.

I bought a shawl pattern  but I can't find it right now. I bought the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, had it autographed by both authors at the book signing! Yippee! And I bought a fleece.

Melanie and I were both "not going to buy a fleece" but we wanted to study the fleeces, see what to expect in a fleece since we have very little experience with them, and thought that only good fleeces would be seen there. We studied and fingered on our own, but they have volunteers there who were very free with their expertise and advice. It was really great! We learned a lot, really. We had just come from a booth where we were tempted by a nice Romney fleece that we were considering sharing (due to cost). Melanie really wanted Romney and we were very happy with the color. We found a fleece, though, in the fleece sale area of the fair that Melanie liked a lot. She got the opinion of one of the women there who had experience as a judge and snapped it up. The woman was really nice, and realistic. She showed us the goods and bads of several fleeces and pointed out that a flaw should not automatically eliminate a fleece from purchase, but should make you think and weigh the pros and cons.  There was one fleece there, for instance, that had a break in the locks near the tip. She would have considered purchasing that fleece and taking those tips off - the rest of the fleece was in good condition. Anyway ......  I went back twice but didn't fall in love with anything.

We were winding down, getting ready to leave but hadn't seen a few of the barns on the other side of the "main street" and that's where I found my fleece. It's Blue Faced Leicester, had quite a bit of vm in it and that's why a very soft 7 lb fleece was only $40.00. I took it home.
That bench in the back ground of the picture below is, for purposes of scale, about 4-5 feet long.

Clearly defined locks

Seven pounds is alot of fiber! I know that it will loose "weight" when washed, but that's still a lot of fiber.

The staple length is pretty consistent in what I have explored so far, but I haven't really skirted it yet. It was too late last night.

I have washed a few locks. The first few I washed had lots of vm and I was a little worried. It came out fairly easily, though - it was mostly in the tips and not throughout the lock - and I felt better. Last night after work I spread it out on the deck. You can see how big it is. I didn't even try to do any skirting because it was too dark to see that well, but I picked a few more locks from various places. The staple length seems to be fairly consistent at about 4 inches. I experimented with a few different ways of cleaning it (flick first, then wash, wash, then flick, cold soak before wash, etc.) and will see what they look like after work today. I love this fleece.

The last purchase I made was actually a Christmas gift for youngest son and his partner. I am pretty sure that he would not be caught dead reading his mother's knitting blog, so I think I'm safe posting this here.

All in all, it was a perfect Mother's Day and MDSW festival.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Spring growth

This is the fresh spring growth on the Birds Nest pine that grows in front of the front door, next to the pond. That color is so awesome. The bush itself shelters small creatures all year round.

Peony  buds are getting bigger. It's time to stake the plants.
 Healthy Hosta. We quite a few of them growing under the hemlock tree. I love the leaves, cut off the flower stalks every year.
 Dogwoods - pink and white, growing next to each other in the front yard.

 Japanese Maple: every year Bob says "I think we lost it" and very year it comes in beautifully. I love the foliage - that's my think, actually, when choosing plants. I don't worry about flowers as much as the foliage because it is around a lot longer than the flower. Annuals are where we  choose our flower color.

This is a holly bush, one of three we planted in the back yard. Eventually they will hide the ugly fence the neighbor put in and our view of his yard, too
 These are the "buds" on the blueberry bush. We had three, are down to one that can actually be called a bush. The other remaining one is a stalk with a few tentative leaves on it. Darn it. I want blueberries.
 I cheated. this is growing in our neighbors yard. I don't know what it is, but I love it. ; ))


                                                                   Red leaf lettuce

We have had both added to our salads and I love having some homegrown food on the table already.

I don't remember what this flower is, but it was cheerful. It's one of the 8 plants younger son and his partner gave me for my birthday, Easter and Mother's Day. The others include Salvia, 2 types of Sedum and a grass.

Have a good day and enjoy your spring.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Major hitch in the boating plans for the year

The  lower unit of the outboard motor has been dissected. The water pump was examined. It is dead. Melted, falling to pieces. The shaft wiggles. It is not supposed to do that. When the shaft is turned by hand, it bumps along instead of turning smoothly. Major $$$$$  and time. UGH. Terrible news. I don't think we can  get a refund on the $$ we paid for the slip at the marina this year, which will be wasted money most likely.

I didn't complete my full "dose" of Wensleydale spinning last night due to assisting with the diagnosis above. Then I got a migraine. I'd blame it on the stress, and that probably did worsen it, but I have to admit that it started on the drive home from work. No knitting was done as a result.

I suppose I could get a second job since we won't be boating.

We've had better days. It's not life-threatening - I do have that in perspective - but it's heartbreaking, especially for Bob, who has limited eyesight time remaining.  

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Robin

I quietly snuck into the storage area under our deck last night with my camera. I waited patiently for the adult birds to decide that a) I wasn't there or b) that I was harmless. While I waited, there was no sound or sight of the babies. They are well trained.

Eventually my patience was rewarded.

As soon as my flash went off, the adult bird flew away, but the babies had a hard time giving up on the food that had been so close ....
Still waiting ......

I didn't want to hold up dinner time any longer, so I scooted on out of there and let them eat. Those adults must be so exhausted by the time the fledglings fly away! It's just a constant back and forth with one or the other adult bringing worms (they love the fact that we just tilled the garden!) or bugs or whatever else is a yummy tidbit for a baby bird.

I got my "daily dose" of Wensleydale spun last night! It's getting close to plying time. If it wasn't for the fact that I am anxious to start on the next fiber, I would not be rushing this. I am really enjoying spinning the Wensleydale. I might just have to look into a fleece. Someday. After I see what I think of it knitted up. 
MDSW this weekend! Come on, weekend!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I can't wait until the weekend

No pictures, but I spun a decent amount of Wensleydale last evening. I didn't get home until 7 PM, then we ate and watched one of the the special shows last night about Bin Laden's death. Then we went outside and tried to trace the water lines on the boat motor, trying to figure out why the motor is overheating. We suspect it's bad news. We've already tried the easy, not expensive things to fix. : ((

The baby robins are ugly/cute, poking their mouths out of the nest, looking for food. I think there are 3 adults feeding them, though that's hard to say for certain. Those birds just don't look very different from each other. Our cat hasn't quite figured out that there is a nest right under her feet as she crouches on the upper deck, watching the adults fly from a tree or fence in her direction. She can't get to the nest even if she figures it out, but it is funny watching her get all excited, having spotted a bird nearby, getting ready to pounce as it flies towards her, then looking a bit puzzled as it disappears from her site (as it flies under the deck) to the storage area where the nest is.

I am really looking forward to the weekend, so this week is creeping by. I try not to always live for the weekends - there just aren't enough of them - but this week that is tough. The weather looks good so far for planting the garden on Saturday and for MDSW on Sunday. I hope to come home tired, having seen and learned a lot, but not much poorer. ; )

Both socks that are on the needles are making slow progress. I work on the ribbing of Bob's sock in the car (at lights) and on Sharon's sock while walking to and from work or if I have to wait at an appointment somewhere. It adds up surprisingly fast. Bob's sock should be finished in  a week or so at this rate.

That's it on the fiber front. Maybe tomorrow I can have some pictures of baby robins to show you. Have a great day.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Ooohhh, my aching back

We weeded and tilled the veggie garden over the weekend. We have clay soil in this area, and it was still rather muddy, making it cling to the tines of the tiller and soooo heavy and hard to remove. In the tilled areas, our feet sunk into the muck and were hard to pull out. Ugh. Thank goodness that's done for this year. I am sore, but Bob did the worst of the work. I can only imagine what he feels like today. (We haven't had a chance to chat yet.)

Some of my Jacob fleece found it's way into the garden as mulch ....

I did some spindle spinning over the weekend. I concentrated on the Wensleydale because I want to finish that before I start on the Icelandic, which is one of the fibers the study group is working on this month. I have only about 1.5 to 2 oz. to go and I think I can finish it up this week if I don't do other spinning. Then I can ply it on the wheel (that worked very well when I did it last time) and free up those spindles for the Icelandic. My sample skein feels very nice pre-washing. I'll spin the lighter color first, then the darker color gray.

I think I will try to spin a little sample skein of my Jacob fleece, too. I'd like to see what I will end up with after my hard work prepping this fiber.

Maryland Sheep and Wool festival is this coming weekend. I usually attend both days, but I will go only one day this year, in an attempt  to save money for going to Rhinebeck in NY in the fall.  It also happens to be Mother's Day this Sunday, so that is the perfect fun thing for me to do for Mother's Day.  ; ))

On Saturday, and maybe an evening or two this week, I plan to plant the veggie garden. We will try a different method of weed control and watering this year and hope to stay ahead of the weeds and get more even coverage of the water.

The sleeve caps of my Leaf and Picot Cardigan are almost complete. Next up is the back.

Oh, and this year's Robin nest is not just under the upper deck but more cozily situated. I hope Bob doesn't need his extension ladder any time soon.

Shhhhh. There are baby birds in that nest today!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spinning night

I hosted a spinning gathering at my house on Friday night. There are a few us of that meet at the LYS on Thursdays who also spin. We thought it would be fun to get together just for spinning and talk about spinning. My living room is not all that big, but 4 of us had enough room to spin and show off our treasures. It was a good idea, I think and I hope we can get together again.

One of the fibers being studied in May for the Spinners Study group is Icelandic. I have been saving some Icelandic fiber that I purchased at Rhinebeck the last time I went there, and this is the perfect time to spin it, I think. I did a little test skein yesterday that I will wash today. It will give me an idea of what I might need to adjust. There is a shawl I have in mind that I hope to use this yarn for. It is called Whippoorwill. I have a light and dark grey to use and I think it will look great.

I spindle spun some more of my Wensleydale yesterday. I also knitted on the cardigan sleeves. I have started the sleeve cap shaping!

I weeded the garden, washed and dried clothes and spent some time looking at photos of the royal wedding. I hope you had a good day.