last Eye Candy Friday of the month...

...how can it be nearly June?

I love this time of the year because the garden is just blooming. The berry bushes are continuing to produce wonderful blackberries, but too many for the Husband and I to eat fresh.  Over the long weekend we tried a refrigerator preserves recipe that turned out very well. If the berry bushes keep this up, I'll have to make another batch!

We now have several dahlias in the font and back yards. This one isn't completely open yet:

Another dahlia

The bougainvillea in the courtyard is starting to come in:

Bougainvillea

A new addition to the courtyard is a foxglove. We haven't had very many of these in the yard before, but I really like them:

Foxglove

Up this weekend: Spin-In tomorrow, so I'll be baking in the morning. I'm keeping it simple and just making some lemon muffins. I'll jazz them up by sharing a small jar of the preserves.

Also this weekend, we need to start planning the menu for the anniversary party we are giving the Husband's parents on the 25th. We have a good idea of what to serve, it;s just deciding from where to order things and how much we want to spend.

I'll spend the rest of my time in the studio working on my WIPs. Weaving is calling my name...
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WIP-it Wednesday...

...with pictures of the latest two WIPs.

Here is bobbin #1 of Zen 2, a merino-silk from Yarn Wench [Ravelry]:

Zen 2 handspun, bobbin #1

And here is the shawl I started over the weekend [Ravelry]:

A Taste of Honey shawl, as of 5/29/13

The other WIPs in rotation are:
  • The Night is Purple and Full of Stars (Southern Skies) shawl [Ravelry]. The shawl's name is a take off on the Game of Thrones quote, "The night is dark and full of terrors."
    I have finished Chart C and am ready to start Chart D.
  • Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  • Spin-In Fiber sampler: continuing; waiting for next Spin-In.
I'm not going to list the WIPs that are waiting for rotation or are in hibernation. There is no change to any of them since my last WIP post.

Just a few projects on my plate right now. :)
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Top-of-the-Waves Tuesday...

...in which we discuss things that didn't go quite as planned.

First, let me say that I totally enjoyed having three days off in a row. It meant a lot more time for crafting and just hanging out at home.

I really wanted to start my new weaving project, so that was the first thing I attacked.

Item #1 that didn't go as planned:
I had already wound the yarn for my new piece, so I was ready to warp. I'm using Blue Heron Rayon Metallic and Cascade Venezia Sport for the warp and weft, adding some Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour in the weft.  I planned to warp the full width of the loom (20") and a length of 95".  I wanted the Venezia Sport to be random, so I warped that first.

After I warped the Blue Heron for a few inches, I realized that I wanted the Venezia Sport to stand out a bit more. So I carefully unwarped the Blue Heron--that took a while. I unwarped the Venezia Sport and rewarped to use more of the yarn. OK, not a disaster, but it took more time than I planned.

I warped the Blue Heron for the full width and was very happy with way it looked. Then I started rolling it up and began to notice blue flecks on the Blue Heron. Now, the yarn is white, cream, and tan with gold metallic. There shouldn't be blue anywhere. Cr@p! Somehow, this skein was marked with a blue pen or something. After checking the yarn, it was only on the first half of the warp. Ok, I thought, I don't want to take a chance that this will not wash out, I'll just unwarp half of it.

Wrong. There was no unwarping it. Did I mention that the yarn is rayon metallic, as in slippery and prone to tangle? I had to cut it off the loom. (sigh)

I rewarped the first half of the loom and sleyed the reed. By that time, I had seen enough of the loom for the day and moved on to spinning.

I finished spinning bobbin #1 of the Zen 2 merino-silk. Since there wasn't much of the day left at this point, I stopped there.

After grocery shopping and chores on Sunday, I decided to stick with knitting since I wasn't quite ready to face the loom again. I was going great guns on the Southern Skies shawl and I wanted to keep the momentum going.

Item #2 that didn't go as planned:
I had just started the next set of charts (D) for the shawl, when I felt an odd bump on the back of my work. I discovered an oddly twisted stitch that resulted in a hole that didn't belong in the design...and it was way back at the beginning of the chart C section. Double Cr@p!!  The only good part was that it was in a section with no bead. I dropped a stitch all the way down to it and tried to pick it back up correctly...that's right, tried. Double Cr@p!!

I had no choice but to unravel all the way back to round 30 (the 3rd round in chart C) and start again from there. (another sigh)

I'm now on round 45 and have another 6 to go until I'm back to chart D.

On Monday, I decided to start weaving my new piece. I wove about 15 picks and did the hemstitching. It looked pretty good, but I knew that I wanted to add some Leno to the ends of the shawl. After checking my reference books, I chose a variation that uses 4 threads: thread 4 goes over thread 1; bring 2 and 3 to the top; and put on the pick-up stick.

Item #3 that didn't go as planned:
I had about 75% of the the bundles done and realized I was doing it wrong. I was supposed to twist 4 over 1, then bring 2 and 3 through the middle of the twist so the thread positions were 1-3-2-4. Cr@p! At least I hadn't woven it yet. I pulled out the pick-up stick and started again.

I wove a few more rows, but I didn't have the volition to do more than that. 

I decided to clean house instead. You know it's bad when I want to do housework instead of craft, right? 

Maybe tonight will be better.
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Eye Candy Friday before the long weekend...

...brought to you by the color Maroon.

A maroon dahlia:

First dahlia of the season

and a close up:

Dahlia center

Our first blackberry harvest of the season (they have some maroon in them):

First blackberry harvest 2013

and a single berry:

Single Blackberry

Up this weekend: It's a 3-day weekend! Yay!  I'm hoping for a better weekend than last (read: less family issues). Keep your fingers crossed for me!

The number one item on my list is to warp my loom for the bridal shower gift I'm making for a friend. I now have all of the yarn and an idea of what I want to do. I'm looking forward to weaving something again!

As for the rest, I want to audition a couple of dishes that I want to make for my in-laws' 60th anniversary party next month. We're keeping the party simple, but I think a couple of special dishes would be nice.

I want to serve a flavorful gazpacho, garnished with a few small shrimp, in individual cups. It gets pretty hot at their house in the summer, and a chilled soup would be refreshing. I'll have Tabasco sauce on the side for anyone who wants to spice it up.

I also want to try a variation of stuffed cherry tomatoes. years ago, I used to make cherry tomatoes stuffed with Gorgonzola mousse. They were yummy, but not everyone enjoys Gorgonzola. I also used to stuff them with salmon mousse, but it was always iffy because I hate fish and I couldn't taste them to make sure they were OK.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for Avocado Pesto-Stuffed Tomatoes that looks pretty good.

Then of course, there are all the projects I have in the pipeline. Even after knitting the Celestarium shawl, I'm still getting tons of enjoyment out of knitting its companion, Southern Skies. I'm [this.close] to a new name for the shawl. It won't be nearly as punny as the last one, but it makes me smile.

All in all, I'm really looking forward to the extra day off!  Enjoy your weekend!
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WIP-it Wednesday...

...a new roll call because I finished all the handspun that was in the last roll call post.  I now have a new list of WIPs in active rotation.

WIPs Recently in Rotation (within the last month):
  1. Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  2. Zen 2 handspun top, 4 oz (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from Yarn Wench [Ravelry
  3. Southern Skies shawl [Ravelry]. I'm auditioning names for the shawl. Here's what it looks like so far:
    Southern Skies Shawl, in progress

Ongoing:
  •  Spin-In Fiber sampler: continuing; waiting for next Spin-In.
Waiting to be rotated in: 
  1. Bridal Shower present (weaving)
  2. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch--still can't find where I put this!)
  4. Halloween Phat Fiber samples (spinning) [Ravelry]
  5. Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
  6. Sea Foam Wrap (knitting) [Ravelry]

Hibernating
  1. Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  4. Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry
WIPs To Be:
  1. A wall hanging (weaving) using the natural color handspun I did last summer
  2. Baby presents for the next 2 kids in our circle
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Top-of-the-waves Tuesday...

...the weekend was very scattered as the Husband was dealing with some family issues. Lots of phone calls and interrupts.

I made the most of my time by doing things like the laundry and grocery shopping. Sunday dinner was simple, a chili made in the crock pot and some cornbread. Neither of us felt much like doing anything complicated.

I did manage to finish the Royale handspun finally. Here it is:

Royale handspun

and the close up:

Royale handspun, close up

Specs:
Started: 4/30/11;
Finished: 5/18/13;
60% Merino, 20% Yak, 20% silk top (2 oz) from A Verb For Keeping Warm;
Started on a spindle and finished on the wheel.
169.4 yds chain-ply, 18 WPI

I also plied the last Spin-In sampler singles, but I'm not very happy with the way it plied. Oh well...it will only make up a small part of the weaving I am planning.

I worked on the Anasazi needlepoint and finally finished a section that used Rachel, a tubular nylon thread from Caron Collection. It is a pain in the neck to stitch because it unravels so easily and it catches on the slightest rough edge (like the stretcher bars or the canvas' edge threads). It's right up there with Neon Rays (Rainbow Gallery) as my least favorite threads to stitch with. Glad I'm done with it for now.

I briefly debated whether to start knitting the Southern Skies shawl [Ravelry]. While I was deciding, I sewed a larger project bag to use for the it.  I picked a couple of celestial fabrics from my stash and whipped it together Sunday afternoon. No picture yet.

After I finished the bag, I went online to learn about the Emily Ocker cast-on. I wasted to use a different cast-on for the shawl that didn't poof as much in the center. After about 10 attempts, I was finally happy with the cast-on and started knitting the shawl. So far, so good!  I'll post a picture tomorrow.

Happiness is knitting stars again!
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Eye Candy Friday...

...well, that week didn't quite go as planned. I planned on posting on Wednesday with a WIP picture. Then I planned on posting on Thursday because I didn't on Wednesday. Now it's Friday afternoon and the end of the work week can't some too soon for me!

I should clarify that it was not the week from he!! or anything. It was just really busy with a variety of HR and organizational tasks.  It was just one of those weeks where you've been productive and you don;t know how it could be the end of the day already!

On to the eye candy. The feijoa as gone nuts...there will be a ton of fruit again this year:

Feijoa madness

We have a new hydrangea in the backyard and this little guy was sunning himself this morning:

Another hydrangea, another hitchhiker

We also have some new flowers in a hanging basket under the apricot tree. I'm not sure what these are, but they are pretty:

Under the apricot tree

I took my Lacy in the Sky with Diamonds shawl to Spin-In for show-and-tell last weekend. Neo (the hosts' cat) loved my shawl:

This shawl inspected and approved by Neo

Up this weekend: I want to finish spinning the Royale yarn [Ravelry] and ply the latest Spin-In sampler singles. I want to continue making progress on Anasazi, my needlepoint WIP.

Mostly, I want to start knitting the new Audry Nicklin shawl called Southern Skies [Ravelry]. It is the night sky as seen from the South Pole!  Yeah, I know...the last one took me a while, but I really want to make the companion to my Celestarium shawl.  I'm doing it in purple. I have the yarn already wound and I have plenty of beads left from the other shawl. I'm almost done marking up the chart. The only thing I need to do is find where I cleverly stored the needles I used for Celestarium.

Want.To.Start.Now!
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Top-of-the-Waves Tuesday...

...it's been a busy few days, but good ones!

Saturday was Spin-In and I tried out a new chocolate cookie recipe. I've been craving chocolate for a while, and these cookies sounded good.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, which can sometimes be tricky. Thankfully, this recipe worked out even though I didn't do everything exactly.  You see, the recipe makes 12 giant cookies. I didn't want giant cookies...I wanted something more like 24. I read some of the comments from people who tried the recipe, but made smaller cookies. So I went for it.

I decided to make one batch of dough. The recipe called for 2-1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (yes, that's a lot of chocolate chips). I wanted nuts in my cookies, so I cut the chips down to a scant 2 cups and added 1 cup of chopped, salted almonds. I divided the dough into 12 pieces just to see how big the original size would be. Holy Cookie, Batman! Those puppies were huge! The author really did mean giant!  Then I divided the 12 into 24. Still too big.  I ended up just eyeballing it and managed to get about 40 cookies out of the batch.

I think they turned out pretty good:

Dark Chocolate cookies

The recipe is here: http://www.annies-eats.com/2011/01/14/giant-double-chocolate-cookies/

Sunday, we met the Daughter at Stanford University (where she did her undergrad degrees) to walk the Dish trail. It had been several years since the last time I walked it and I had forgotten how hilly the trail was!  Needless to say, my leg muscles are complaining about how I abused them!

It was a hot day and visibility was pretty good. I took a few pictures. The Dish:

The Dish at Stanford

San Francisco:

San Francisco in the distance

Moffett Field:

Moffett Field, from the dish trail

and Hoover Tower at Stanford University.

Hoover Tower at Stanford

We had a nice lunch afterwards and I went home to collapse enjoy the rest of Mother's Day in my studio.

I finished spinning the Pilgrim yarn:

Pilgrim handspun

and a close up:

Pilgrim handspun, close-up

Specs:
Started: 2/19/2011;
Finished 5/11/13
Merino-Tussah Silk 4 oz. from A Verb for Keeping Warm
325.7yds, 17 WPI

And I made a little progress on the Royale handspun.  Tomorrow I'll try to post a picture of the new yarn I started spinning at Spin-In.
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Eye Candy Friday...

...and there's a busy weekend ahead, with Mother's Day on Sunday.

The Daughter is ahead of the game. My flowers arrived on Thursday and are gorgeous. Here's the entire arrangement:

Mother's Day flowers 2013

a close up of the lilies:

Lilies

and a close up of the irises:

Irises

Up this weekend: Spin-In on Saturday! We'll spin the next fiber in our fiber sampler and then work on our own spinning. I'm probably baking cookies for this one as they are the simplest to make.

On Sunday, The Daughter and I are spending part of the day together. Lunch and hiking will be involved! I also need to call my mother and make sure her flowers arrived.

When I'm not out and about, I'll finish plying the Pilgrim handspun. I'm 95% done with bobbin #1 and still have bobbin #2 to ply.

It feels good to get back to spinning and finishing yarns!
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WIP-it Wednesday and a late weekend report...

...it's getting harder and harder to post on Mondays and Tuesdays.  At least I got the April recap posted yesterday.

Weekend report:

I finished spinning the Tribe camel-silk top. Here is the skein:

Tribe handspun

and a close-up:

Tribe Handspun, close up

Specs:
Started 3/16/13
Finished 5/5/13
50% silk 50% Camel top from Greenwood Fiberworks
238.2 yds chain ply; 15 WPI

I finished spinning the singles for the Pilgrim Merino-Tussah Silk top from AVFKW:

Pilgrim Merino-Tussah Silk singles

I started plying it Sunday night and haven't gotten back to it yet.

Also, I moved the Royale Merino-Yak-silk top from the spindle to the wheel. I'll finish spinning it on the wheel and then get it plied.

I took some time out to make a trip to Purlescence Yarns. I have a bridal shower gift to make and I wanted to look at some yarn for weaving. (Yes, I found some!)

WIPs:

I added a WIP to the rotation to replace the completed Tribe handspun. Here's the current state of my WIPs.

WIPs in Rotation 
  1. Pilgrim handspun, from A Verb for Keeping Warm [Ravelry] - plying!
  2. Royale handspun top, 2 oz (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm  [Ravelry
  3. Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
Ongoing:
  •  Spin-In Fiber sampler: continuing; waiting for next Spin-In.
Waiting to be rotated in: 
  1. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  2. Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch--still can't find where I put this!)
  3. Halloween Phat Fiber samples (spinning) [Ravelry]
  4. Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
  5. Sea Foam Wrap (knitting) [Ravelry]
Hibernating
  1. Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  4. Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry
WIPs To Be:
  1. A present for the Husband's brother who is getting married in August
  2. A wall hanging (weaving) using the natural color handspun I did last summer
  3. A baby quilt for the next kid in our circle
I need to decide which WIP to rotate in when I complete the Pilgrim handspun. None of the others are calling my name and I can't find the Happy Pumpkin scissor fob. Maybe I should look for that.

Or maybe not. I have tons of spinning fiber that is calling my name. Hmmm...
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April 2013 recap...

...another month of knitting the Celestarium shawl, but it's done!.

Finished:
  • 4/29 Lacy in the Sky with Diamonds, a Celestarium shawl (knitting)  [Ravelry]
  • 4/29 Caterwauling quilt for the cats (quilting)
  • Books:
    1. Heartbreak Ranch, Fern Michaels
    2. Mr and Miss Anonymous, Fern Michaels
    3. Starting Now, Debbie Macomber
    4. Twice Tempted, Jeaniene Frost
    5. Blood Trade, Faith Hunter
    6. The Search, Nora Roberts
    Didn't/couldn't finish
    1. Dearie (Julia Child bio), Bob Spitz (tedious amount of detail)
    2. Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner, Diana Gabaldon (not into the British spy thing)
Started:
  •  Nothing

Worked on:
  • Tribe handspun, Camel-Silk top from Greenwood Fiberworks (spinning) [Ravelry]
  • Pilgrim handspun,(Merino-Tussah Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm (spinning) [Ravelry]
  • Royale handspun,  (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm (spinning) [Ravelry
  • Spin-In Fiber Sampler (This will take several months to complete as we are working on it together)

Works In Progress, did not work on:
  1. Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  2. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch)
  4. Halloween Phat Fiber samples (spinning) [Ravelry]
  5. Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
  6. Sea Foam Wrap (knitting) [Ravelry

Candidate for IDJ (It's Dead, Jim):
  • Violet Needle Roll (cross stitch)

UFOs/Hibernation:
  1. Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  4. Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry]

Eye Candy Friday...

...and the first for May.  More color is appearing in the garden.

The tomato plants are starting to flower:

Tomato flower

The remaining chive plants have also set flowers:

Chive flower

The feijoa tree is starting up:

Feijoa flowers

...as is the Pomegranate:

Pomegranate flowers are starting

We do have a new plant in the backyard, a sweet pea shrub:

Sweet Pea Shrub

Up this weekend: No specific plans at the moment. I'd like to get some spinning done. I have the Camel-silk that ready to ply. I have a couple of others in progress that I'd like to finish soon.

And then there's the loom that is calling my name...and the needlepoint...and...
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WIPs on Thursday...

...I didn't work on anything last night! Now that I've finished two big projects, I'm having a heck of a time picking which WIPs to work on!

At Tuesdays' Craft Night, I spun a bit more of the Camel-Silk top that I've been trying to finish for the last couple of months. It was the easiest thing to work on...it's on the wheel and in my studio.

Last night in lieu of spinning some more, I cruised through a few of my stitching WIPs. I decided that I didn't want to work on any of them!  I did decide to finally IDJ (It's Dead, Jim) the Violet Needleroll. I just can't get past the awful linen. I'll put away the part that's stitched for posterity.

To help pick out the WIPs for rotation, I think a WIP Roll Call is in order.


WIPs Recently in Rotation (within the last month):
  1. Tribe handspun, Camel-Silk top from Greenwood Fiberworks [Ravelry]
  2. Pilgrim handspun, from A Verb for Keeping Warm [Ravelry]
  3. Royale handspun top, 2 oz (Merino-Yak-Silk) top from A Verb for Keeping Warm  [Ravelry]
Ongoing:
  •  Spin-In Fiber sampler: continuing; waiting for next Spin-In.
Waiting to be rotated in: 
  1. Anasazi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  2. Celaeno Shawl (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Happy Pumpkin Scissor Fob by Shepherd's Bush (cross stitch--still can't find where I put this!)
  4. Halloween Phat Fiber samples (spinning) [Ravelry]
  5. Mediterranean Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch)
  6. Sea Foam Wrap (knitting) [Ravelry]
IDJ (It's Dead, Jim)
  • Violet Needle Roll (cross stitch)
Hibernating
  1. Going Snow Global quilt (quilting)
  2. Peacock Pomatomus socks (knitting) [Ravelry]
  3. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  4. Seaweed Cardigan (knitting)  [Ravelry
WIPs To Be:
  1. A present for the Husband's brother who is getting married in August
  2. A wall hanging (weaving) using the natural color handspun I did last summer
  3. A baby quilt for the next kid in our circle


Hmm, this list has a lot of spinning on it.  Maybe I should blast those out while I decide which non-spinning projects to rotate in.

OK, we have a plan...now to execute it!
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Eye Candy Friday...

...and I'm so ready for the weekend! As I mentioned in an earlier post, my camera and I took a walk last Sunday to test out its featur...