it's-almost-July(!) Eye Candy Friday...

...and another picture from the garden. (And, no, it's not apricots!)

Chocolate Sunflower

It's a chocolate sunflower. It's really more of a red than brown, but very pretty. We have 4 or 5 in the yard right now.

The Husband is really good at finding seeds for unusual flowers and vegetables, making out garden very different from most. It's really kind of cool...

Up this weekend, the great apricot picking. We need to get the fruit off the tree and into the freezer before it gets overripe. Not much else on the agenda except spinning and knitting!

Have a good one!

spoilers ahead...Petals Collection for June

The mail brought two goodies today. First my Knit Picks order of circular needles (size 2.5, 2.75, 3.0 mm) and DPNs (2.75 and 3.0 mm). I really love the tips on these needles and prefer them for socks. Now I can have a couple of pairs of socks going with Knit Picks needles.

The other thing that arrives was the June installment of Sundara Yarn's Petals Collection. OMG...it's gorgeous. Look (click to enlarge):

Petals Collection yarn for June
Here's a close-up of the the other side of the skein:

Close-up of Blue Grape Hyacinth yarn
(The true color is somewhere between the two pictures.) Love this yarn!

The pattern is interesting and looks pretty challenging. Given my current state of sock mojo, I may want to hold off knitting it!

Once I get the Tide Walkers done (and I will get them done if it kills me!), then I'll start the next pair of socks. Even though I have enough needles to start another pair now, I don't want to until I get the current ones done. If I cast on another pair I might be tempted to put aside the Tide Walkers and then they'd end up on hiatus with the Hydrangea socks.

Back tomorrow with Eye Candy Friday...

the color of my obsession...

...right now, it's apricot!

Cut Apricot

We're fighting off the birds right now who are also loving the 'cots. They are claiming quite a few, but there are still lots on the tree. It's a good thing we didn't thin them!

(I've got nothing else..maybe Friday.)

misplaced my sock mojo...

...and I need to find it, quick!

So this weekend, I was going grea
t guns on my Tide Walker socks and started turning the heel on the first one. It was looking a little long, so I only did a couple of rows before I tried it on. Hmmm...it is too long. About an INCH too long...rats!! (OK, I admit that I said something a whole lot stronger than rats!) I had no choice but to frog them back to the foot and start the heel gusset again. So, basically I am back to where I was two weeks ago. (!@#$?!)

This is the third pair of socks in a row that have had issues. [Rationalization mode ON] At least this one I can attribute to the fact that these are my first toe-up socks and I am not familiar with how long I should make the foot before starting the gusset increases and how it should look on my foot at that point. [Rationalization mode OFF] Everything I read said to allow about 3 inches for it and that's what I did. Obviously for my foot, it's a little closer to 4 inches. So, I frogged and now I'm starting the gusset increase again. At least what I do have fits very nicely!

While I formulated my plan of attack for the Tide Walkers I decided to spin a bit. I finished the fourth spindle-full of Moonstone and started a fifth. On the wheel, I finished one chunk of the Lupines and Poppies roving. Here's a picture of my progress:

Lupines and Poppies spinning
I am really enjoying the color transitions on this. The poppy color is much more muted than I expected, which is fine.

Oh, and my latest Blue Moon Rockin' Sock Club installment was waiting for my when I got home on Friday!

Firebird yarn
It's called Firebird. Here's a close-up of the colors:

Firebird close-up
These are colors I would have never chosen for myself, so it's a nice change of pace. The sock pattern looks interesting, too. Plus, the yarn name is the same as the local high school's mascot name, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

I need all the good [knitting] signs I can get!

echoes from the Valley of Heart's Delight...

...for Eye Candy Friday, I give you nearly ripe Blenheim apricots:

Nearly ripe Blenheim apricots
I love having this tree in our yard. Not only for the fruit, which tastes better than any store-bought apricot ever could, but for the memories it invokes. Looking at this tree is both heart-warming and heart-breaking.

I've spent most of my life in the Santa Clara Valley; it was called Valley of the Heart's Delight before it became known as Silicon Valley. I lived in San Benito county for the first six years of my life and then moved to Gilroy. We often drove to San Jose to visit relatives, and sometimes my dad would let us tag along to San Francisco when he took his boss to the airport. What I remember most about those trips were the miles and miles of orchards that we saw along the way—walnuts, almonds, prunes, cherries, and of course, apricots. Row after row of trees, with green leaves and fruit hanging from their limbs.


Apricot tree
My grandmother lived in Hollister next to an apricot orchard. We loved visiting her right before the harvest because we could sit in the trees and eat as many apricots as we could stuff in our mouths before getting caught! Once harvest started and the owners were on site, no more apricots for us! (I fully believe that this is why I don't like overly ripe fruit...too many years of eating not-quite-ripe apricots!)

My Tia Mary also lived next to an apricot orchard. At her place, we got to see the workers splitting, pitting, and prepping the apricots for drying. I was always fascinated by the knives that they used to cut open the apricots. Of course, my mother would never let us "help," but we could watch as long as we didn't get in the way. If it was late enough in the season, there were always a few already-dried apricots to sample.


Sadly, we had to move away from the valley when my father became ill (I think I was about 9). We still visited my grandmother and other relatives, but not as often as when we lived closer. The timing wasn't always right for the apricots, but it was still a joy to see all those trees.

I didn't move back to Santa Clara Valley until I graduated from high school and went to San Jose State. In the eight years I was gone, things had changed. Many orchards had been replaced by housing developments and many more were planned. The rows and rows of trees were being replaced by rows and rows of houses. Some of the landmarks were still there, like the radio towers on the edge of San Jose and the hangars at Moffett Field, but everything else looked different. There were still orchards, but not as many.

When I married and moved to Sunnyvale in the 70s, I was delighted to find an oasis of cherry trees nearby. The CJ Olson orchards were just up the street. I loved seeing these trees bloom and the fruit turning red as harvest time approached. I look forward to cherry season every year—these are the best cherries! Over the years, the family has had to sell most of their land and much of their orchards have been replaced by shopping centers.

All over the valley, the same thing has happened: agriculture has given way to housing and shopping. Yes, change is inevitable and can be good. But I miss the green valley and fruit fresh from the trees.

And the orchard next to my grandmother's house? After she died, we heard that the property owner was planning on selling the land. I haven't been back because I don't want to see what has replaced all those beautiful trees. Some things are best kept as memories.

More apricots

quick stash update...

...brought to you by Spunky Eclectic! (sorry this is not the greatest picture, but you can see all the wonderful colors!)

Spunky Eclectic rovings
Left to right:
  • Corriedale - Blue Moon
  • Corriedale - Cheeky Monkey
  • South African Fine - Mermaid
  • Falkland - Chocolate Cherries
  • Corriedale - Peacock
I've really been wanting the Chunk Monkey since I first saw it online. I love the color combination! Chocolate covered cherries is one of my favorite treats and I have a plan in mind for Blue Moon. Peacock is just pretty......and how could I not buy something called Mermaid?

This is the first time I've ordered from
Spunky Eclectic and I am very impressed with the speed in which the order was filled and shipped. I ordered it on Friday and received it yesterday! I was also impressed with the service from Yarn Wench, who had the same turn-around time. Both have wonderful color selections, too. You can bet I'll order from these two places again! (Not for a while, though. I have more than enough stuff to spin now!)

knitting still happens...

...occasionally. Here's the current state of the "TideWalker"socks:

Tide Walker socks
I am working on the gusset increases, trying them on every few rows so I can see whether I need to make any adjustments.

This weekend was busy, what with cleaning the house and having the Father's Day/Birthday lunch yesterday. My knitting and spinning time was limited, but I did manage to start a new spinning wheel project.

I chose the Lupines and Poppies colorway from Yarn Wench (you can see a picture in the More Goodies/Sold Fibers pages; it's on page 2 today). The colors make me happy and remind me of my childhood on the ranch in Gilroy. They are becoming much more muted as I spin them and the single is very pretty.


Later in the week I'll have more on the bobbin and I'll post a picture of my progress.

celebrating the fathers in my life...

Today, I'd like to salute the fathers in my family, and extended family.

First and foremost is my father. As I've mentioned before, my father passed away when I was 11. I still miss him, especially on his birthday and Father's Day. Even now, 40-mumble years later, some of my memories are crystal-clear...his smile and his voice are still with me.

So on Father's Day, I celebrate my father. He wasn't here nearly long enough.

Me and my parents
I also celebrate the Husband. When he joined our family, the Daughter was 3 years old. It took a lot of guts to become a step-father at 26. He has always been supportive and loving in his relationship with her and he is the perfect partner, as a parent and a husband (Love you, JR!). This is one of my favorite pictures of them:

The Daughter and the Husband
I also celebrate my father-in-law, brothers, and brothers-in-law. They are all great dads and have raised really great kids. And I celebrate all the other dads in my life. I could fill this blog with their pictures, but you'll just have to take my word for it. They are all wonderful!

Happy Father's Day to the fathers in your life!

now, with more Eye Candy (Friday, that is...)

Today, you get a collection of pictures because I couldn't make up my mind. (As with all pictures on my blog, click to enlarge.)

First up, pansies from the window box...

Pansies
a barrel cactus in the backyard...

Barrel cactus
and the Blenheim apricots are nearly ready!

Blenheim
So, while I was standing underneath the apricot tree taking pictures, I was buzzed by a couple of birds. This is not an unusual occurrence in our yard, wild kingdom that it is. However, when I tried to take a picture of the bees feeding on these purple flowers, look who got into the act:

Hummingbird and purple flowers
This is one of the four hummingbirds that frequent our yard. There are two pairs who fight over the feeder. One pair decided that I was doing something "interesting" and buzzed me. Then they hovered a bit to check out what I was doing. When they got bored they moved on, but not before I got this picture:

Hummingbird and sky
Hummers are funny little birds...they sometimes get very close to us and watch what we do. And they absolutely adore buzzing the cats!

Up this weekend, I hope to make good progress on the Tide Walker socks. I also want to start something new on the wheel, but I haven't decided what yet. I have the Neapolitan experiment to do, lots more of the white Corriedale to spin, some Blue Moon Pink Granite roving, and my two new acquisitions from the Yarn Wench—one is Lupines and Poppies and the other is Cali. (When did that sneak in? Ask me no questions; I'll tell you no lies! LOL!)

Have a great weekend!

ready for my close-up...

...presenting Burning Bush 3-ply yarn (close to "true" color):

Burning Bush yarn finished!
and the close-up:

Close-up of Burning Bush yarn
Specs:
Louet's Northern Lights roving, spaced dyed 100% wool top (8 ounces)
Color: Burning Bush (#34)

Spun and plied on Lendrum Folding wheel
Yield: 390+ yards traditional 3-ply; approx. 50 yards Navajo plied
Weight: average 15 wpi; somewhere between weight 2 (fine) and 3 (light)

I did a better job of plying on this yarn than on previous ones, but I still need to improve my consistency.

I was way off on estimating yardage on the singles. I ending up with a lot more on one bobbin than the other two, hence the 50 yard of Navajo-plied yarn. What was interesting: the two bobbins that came out "even" each weighed 3 to 4 grams more than the bobbin with the extra yardage. The bobbin with extra yardage was also the last bobbin I spun, so my only conclusion is that my spinning was thinner on the third bobbin.

So what will this become? I think it looks more like a sweater than a pair of socks, so I might check out a few simple shell patterns.

I did manage to get a little knitting done, I am now ready to start the heels of my Tide Walkers (the toe-up Jaywalker socks in Blue Moon's sock club "Walking on the Wild Tide" Silkie yarn). So far the fit is perfect, but I think I may go up a needle size for the heel just to make sure I can get them on. I don't want to frog these like I did the last pair of Jaywalkers!

weekend spinning...

...it was good!

I finished spinning the Burning Bush roving and am in the process of plying it. I'm making this a 3-ply yarn, too:

Burning Bush yarn
I'm still spinning the Moonstone roving, using the new spindle. Here's a picture of my progress:

Moonstone spinning
The yarn on the right was spun with my Cascade Little Si spindle; the yarn on the left was spun with my square mini Spindlewood spindle. The lighter spindle has made a big difference on the consistency and thinness of my spinning.

I'm making slow progress on the Tide Walker socks (the spinning keeps calling to me!). I have another half inch before I start the heel.

I'm off today and tomorrow, so I'll be able to finish plying the Burning Bush yarn. The next picture you see will be of the completed yarn!

Eye Carrot Friday...

...carrot harvest picture courtesy of the Husband:

Home-grown carrots
Pretty cool...can't wait to try them!

Oh, and let me report on the new spindle: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Not only is it gorgeous, but it spins smoothly and spins longer than any of my other spindles. It's just what I needed for the Moonstone roving.

My weekend plans have shifted a bit, but it's all good. The Daughter is now coming home on Sunday instead of Saturday and the Husband is taking a long bike ride on Saturday. This means I can clean the house Saturday morning and have the rest of the day to spin or knit! Yay!

I see the moon, and the moon sees me...

...at least on the mornings I go to the gym.

Morning moonThe socks are progressing, but they are still "toes." And the spinning doesn't look much different at this point. However, look what came in the mail today:

Square laminate spindle
My new Spindlewood square mini spindle! The whorl is Cocobolo and Yellowheart woods and the shaft is Flamewood. It weights 24 grams (7/8 oz.). I bought it from the current issue of the Woodland Woolworks WoolRag. I didn't pick the spindle itself; I just told them I wanted a laminate square spindle and this is what they sent. I'm sure if I really wanted to pick, I could have called and talked to them, but it was Sunday...and I wanted it ASAP, so I let the Universe pick for me. What can I say? I'm very happy with my new toy and it spins beautifully!

Of course, I also bought some fiber—8 ounces of combed hemp top. I'm saw a cute hemp short-sleeved top at the Art & Wine festival, but it was too expensive. So, I thought I'd try spinning some and see how it works up in a yarn and then how it knits.

Can't wait to try my new spindle!

yum, berries...

...the berries were ready for picking (and eating!) on Sunday:

Blackberries
Of course, no photo shoot is complete without at least one nosy cat...

Nosy Sombra
On the fiber front, I spun another bobbin of Burning Bush and made slow progress on the Moonstone spindle spinning. I was getting frustrated with the spindle because the Moonstone roving is a little "soft" and the spindle is too heavy to spin it as fine as I want—the spindle keeps breaking the single. So, you know what that means...I had to order a lighter spindle (Darn! I hate when that happens! LOL!)

I also managed to get some actual knitting done (I know!) I morphed the toes of the RSC Walking on the Wild Tide (Grasshopper) socks into toe-up Jaywalkers, or as some club members call them, Tide Walkers. Here's a picture of the front of one sock and the back of the other. I'm really enjoying this pattern and yarn combination. I love the way the colors are working with the pattern! This is a much better combination for my hands.

Tide Walker socks
This week will probably seem longer than usual to us...the Daughter is coming home on Saturday and we're really looking forward to that. Her room is ready, it just needs her smiling face!

May Recap

May can be summed up in one word: spinning!

Finished:
  • Grape Jelly yarn, 388 yards of 3-ply; Northern Lights 100% wool top in Grape Jelly
    spindle-spun; wheel plied
  • Emerald yarn, 105 yards of 2-ply; 2 ounces Chasing Rainbows Merino top in Emerald
    spindle-spun; wheel plied
  • 2-row pattern counter
  • Corrriedale yarn, 10 yards of 2-ply
  • Misc. spinning practice
Started:
  • Spinning 1/2 pound of Northern Lights 100% wool top in Burning Bush; 1+ bobbin so far
  • Spinning 2 ounces Chasing Rainbows Merino top in Moonstone; 1+ spindle-fulls so far
  • Knee High to a Grasshopper socks, Rockin' Sock Club in Walking on the Wild Tide
Back to Square 1:
  • Grasshopper Socks...these are morphing into Jaywalkers
On Hiatus until I can face them again:In progress, but didn't work on:
  • Flip-top mittens (knitting)
  • Just Nan 2002 Christmas ornament (cross stitch)
  • Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  • Peekaboo mittens (knitting)
  • Queen Mermaid (cross stitch)
  • Sangria shawl (knitting)
  • Seahorses pillow (needlepoint)
  • Twinkletoes slippers (knitting)
  • Violet Needle Roll (cross stitch)

June is busting out all over...

Today's Eye Candy Friday is brought to you by the Husband.

Blenheim apricots:

Apricots
Blueberries:

Blueberries
Pomegranate flowers:
Pomegranate Flowers
Other flowers (don't know what kind, but they're pretty!)

Pink Flower
Purple Flower
Hasn't he done a fabulous job with our garden?

He's off on a camping trip with some buddies, so I took the day off to commune with the garden, the kitties, and, of course, Sirena. A recap post will be coming, but I may not make it today.

Have a great weekend!

Eye Candy Friday...

...and I'm almost ready to call it a week. Today's eye candy is brought to you by the colors orange and pink. The Lion's Tail ...