Monday, April 30, 2007

a little cuteness, a little craftiness...

How could you resist that face? This weekend, Sombra wanted me to spend all my time with her. Every time I sat down for a minute, she was there, patting me with her paws or just looking at me with that cute kitty face. Unfortunately for her, I had other things to do.
I unraveled the Here There Be Dragons socks and put the yarn aside for the moment. I found Lagoon and Beryl in the stash and decided that Beryl is the right yarn to use for these socks. I wound up Beryl and divided it into two balls in preparation for the HTBD socks.

I read through the "Knee High to a Grasshopper" pattern and decided that I would start those socks before I did any other socks. I wound Walking on the Wild Tide yarn and divided it. I cast on for the first sock, oh, maybe 4 times. I just could not get the hang of the toe-up thing the first few tries. I've tried toe-up before, but was never successful. I think I've got it now, though.

However, I realized that I didn't have a bag for this project, so I just had to make one for it. I perused my quilting stash for grasshoppers and came up empty. However, I did find butterflies..I found a nice blue fabric with metallic touches for the outside of the bag and a butterfly wing pattern for the inside. I chose a purple with metallic dots for the inside separator. And, voila, a new Knit2 bag for my Grasshopper socks!

Knit2 bagOn the spinning front, I had ordered some Northern Lights pencil roving. It's very pink, but I plan on pairing it with a brown and white roving to get that Neapolitan, ice cream sandwich look. (The brown and white one hasn't arrived yet...)

Pink RovingI also looked at spinning wheels. The Ashford Joy and Louet Victoria are very nice wheels, but a little small. If I ever want to get a traveling wheel, I'd definitely look at them again.

I decided on the Lendrum Folding wheel. It's the largest of the folding wheels and comes with lots of extras in the "complete" version. I bit the bullet and ordered it and now just have to wait for it to arrive!

In the meantime, I'll work on my socks and continue spinning the Grape Jelly roving...I've spun 10 spindle-fulls so far, and still have quite a ways to go!

Friday, April 27, 2007

just another Eye Candy Friday...

...for your viewing pleasure, a Feijoa blossom. Feijoas are also known as pineapple guavas (and they're yummy!).

Feijoa blossom
I also received my Rockin' Sock Club installment, Walking on the Wild Tide. It's a gorgeous Merino-Silk yarn that just begs to be petted. I was expecting it to be delivered at work, but for some reason it was mailed to my home address instead. So it was a very nice surprise last night!

Walking on the Wild Tide
I love the whole Tides theme. (Gee, can you tell? I have seashells in my fountain!) I love it so much, I made a quilt called "The Tides at Bodega Bay," named for our favorite get-away, Inn at the Tides in Bodega Bay. CA. I love it so much, I had to order more yarn from Blue Moon:

More Yarn!
OK, so the first one, Footzey Foo, isn't in the Tides group, but Lunasea, Socktopus, and Undertoe are! Lunasea is destined to become Mystic Sea socks (the second pattern up there). I haven't quite decided which yarn to use for Trickle yet.

On the knitting front, I have completed two pattern repeats for the Here There Be Dragons (
HTBD) socks. I love this pattern and I love the yarn, but they are not showing each other in the best light:

Bye, Bye, DragonsThe pattern needs a yarn with little less color variation to really show off its scales. Monsoon needs a pattern that will show off its wonderful mossy colors.

This weekend Monsoon will say goodbye to HTBD and hello to Jaywalkers. HTBD will say goodbye to Monsoon and hello to either BMFA Lagoon or Beryl. (I have them both in my stash, I just need to determine which I like better.)

Also this weekend, I will probably order my (drum roll, please) spinning wheel!! I was going to wait until my birthday in September, but I came into a small monetary windfall...just enough for a wheel! I have been researching wheels all week and pretty much know which one I'd want. I need to do a little more research and try a couple of wheels before I order. And then comes the waiting game... (But I want it NOW!! LOL!)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2007

more and more... kitties today, but I have more yard pictures.

On Friday, I posted pictures of the front yard. Today, you get pictures of the back yard. Here's a picture of the largest part of the yard:

Back yard
And a view from the opposite side:

Back yard again
Standing (pretty much) on the same spot, turning, and looking down the side yard (ignore the messiness):

Side yard
Like the front yard, the back is pretty small. And, yes, our lawn is nice and rectangular. That's because it used to be a swimming was a pain in the neck and we never used it because the gas heater was old and expensive (and the gas line corroded, and...) The best thing we did was to have it filled in and put in a lawn.

As you can see, the Husband has crammed it full of plants, in and out of containers. We swapped out our wood trellises with metal ones this year and I really like how they look.

This weekend was spent do a little clean-up. We went through our electronics gear and took a bunch of stuff to one of the Earth Day free recycle locations. Included in that batch was the old TV that was in my sewing room that worked when it felt like it. We replaced it with an inexpensive flat-panel TV that takes up much less room.

We also got a new kitty condo for the cats. We salvaged what we could from the old one, but it was looking pretty bad. I also cleaned up my sewing room and put away a bunch of yarn that had magically appeared in there. While I was in my sewing room, I made another drawstring bag (Thanks, happythings!), this time for my spinning in progress. It's tall enough for the spindle and 8 ounces of roving.

Spinning bag
And, of course, there was spinning. Still working on the Grape Jelly roving...

Grape Jelly yarn, again
I also played a little with some of my remaining fiber samples. This one is a combination of one navy blue and one burgundy sample. I spun the two colors together and then made a two ply yarn. (The yellow bits are from the yarn that I used to tie the skein together).
Navy adn burgundy homespun
I also got email and a picture from my friend Jane, who spun her first yarn this weekend using my kit! It's looking good, and she's well on her way!

All in all, a very productive weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Eye Candy Friday, garden-style...and knitting

As I've mentioned before, the Husband loves to garden. In addition to the heirloom tomatoes and peppers, he's planted some snow peas.

Snow Pea Blossoms
They are now blooming and producing pea pods (see them in this picture?) and, boy are they good! So much better than what you get at the grocery store!

Show Pea Pods
I've posted pictures of the roses, irises, poppies, and lavender in our front yard. You might be under the mistaken impression that we have a big yard. Well, no. Here's the whole thing:

Front yard
And another view (ignore the open car door!)

 Front yard, again
The Husband manages to pack quite a lot in that small space. In addition to the flowers, there are
  • 4 or 5 rose bushes
  • 1 rosemary bush (several years old)
  • 1 raspberry bush
  • 2 and boysenberry bushes
  • 1 rogue tree (don't remember what it is...we removed it several years ago because it "died" and replaced it with a tree that also died. Then this one decided to resurrect itself.)
  • Some garlic and onion bulbs
  • Assorted decorative plants

He also has a few things in the strip across the driveway that you can't see: some jasmine plants, a grapefruit tree, and a tangerine tree. He's also been known to put a tomato plant right by the gate leading to the back yard.

I'll try to get pictures of the back yard for next week's eye candy Friday, It's small, too, but chock full of plants!

And, just because I haven't shown any knitting pictures in a while, I present Here There Be Dragons in their current state:

Monsoon socks
The pink and black beaded thing is a pattern row counter that I made using the free pattern from Turtlegirl76.

On tap this week, besides the "normal" weekend chores, I want to make more progress on these socks, and, of course, spin, spin, spin! (gee, maybe I'll stop in at Purlescense and check out the Victoria spinning wheel...)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

the secret's out... secret project arrived at its new home yesterday. So now it can be revealed:

Begin to Spin Kit
OK, so maybe the picture is a little anti-climactic. "Secret" is a "Begin to Spin" kit for my friend Jane (one of the few people who actually reads this blog..LOL!)

You might be wondering what took me so long to make this present. Well, what you can't see in the picture are the instructions, pictures, and videos that I made describing the process of spinning from my point of view. This part took a while to do. It's hard to take pictures and videos of yourself that you are "OK" with. I had to do some of them over and over again. The Virgo in me is still not totally happy with them, but you can only tweak so long on something!

I started with a kit from Carolina Homespun that had a very generous amount of fiber, the Spin It book, and a Cascade Little Si spindle.

So what's exactly in the kit?
  • Cascade Little Si spindle.
  • Lined drawstring bag for the spindle, in blue polka-dotted fabric (sorry, no picture...I forgot to take one!). I found great instructions on the happythings blog and used them to make this bag. (happythings has great tutorials for different kinds of drawstring bags, too.)
  • Fiber to spin. As you can see in the picture, there are three sampler-size rovings (Corriedale), a large amount of brown wool roving (kind not specified in the Carolina Homespun kit), and some dyed wool roving (again, kind unspecified).
    What's not pictured is the sample-sized roving that I pre-drafted.
  • Spin It book
  • Binder of instructions. 18 pages with pictures and an additional page of useful links, plus some fiber samples of what things should look like at various steps.
  • CD--ROM with a PDF version of the instructions, 6 short videos showing the major steps in the process, and other useful PDFs.
I had a blast putting this kit together and it arrived only 10 days after her birthday. (Blame that on the Virgo obsessing about fonts and videos!)

So once again: Happy Birthday, Jane! Enjoy learning a new craft!

(Just doing my part to share the spinning love with others! )

Monday, April 16, 2007

we now return to our regular knitting, spinning, whatever...

"Secret" was mailed today. I braved the lines at the post office (seriously, people...e-filing?) and sent it on its way.

Speaking of e-filing, we found the last two pieces of missing data, finished our taxes (and the Daughter's taxes), and e-filed them all this weekend. Whew! Glad that's done!

I knitted a little bit on the Here There Be Dragon socks last night. No picture because they don't look significantly different than the last picture I posted.

I also spun more of the Grape Jelly roving. Look...

Spinning 4/16's coming right along. Here's a closer look:

Spinning close-up
I think I mentioned before--1/2 a pound of roving is A LOT to spin with a spindle. It looks like I've barely made a dent in it! It's looking more and more like I might need a spinning wheel at some point. Really, I "need" one.

Our garden continues to flourish. Our few remaining irises are blooming, the lavender is going nuts, and the other rose bushes are starting to bud.

This week, I plan on knitting more and spinning less. We'll see how that goes!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"secret" is finished...

...wrapped and ready to mail! I didn't get it done in time for today's mailing, so it will have to wait until Monday.

It feels good to have it finished. On to more spinning and knitting!

Friday, April 13, 2007

it's apple blossom time...

...for Eye Candy Friday. The apple tree bloomed like crazy this year, which means we might see more than 3 apples on the tree. Not that we'll actually get to eat any of them..the squirrels are always stealing them.

Apple Blossoms
Our apricot tree has finished blooming and has set a lot of fruit. I'm told that we should thin the fruit, but, honestly, we got so little fruit last year that I don't want to do that. I don't really care if it is small...I just want the fruit!

Had a minor setback on the secret project. I thought I was done, but, no. I need to redo part of it. Hmmpf! The good part is that the fix won't take very long to do, so maybe I can get this puppy in the mail tomorrow!

On tap this weekend, more spinning and (gasp!) some knitting!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hit the Pause button... I can recover from a sinus-TMJ-migraine headache. Funny how you don't even want to be around a computer when your head is pounding...and forget Pilates!

It rained yesterday, so that took some of the pressure off my sinuses and the headache finally subsided. It was heaven! I reveled in the lack of pain. Today the weather is clear and crisp, and some of the sinus pressure is back. I'm hoping that Excedrin Extra Strength will keep it at bay.

Needless to say, I haven't quite finished the secret project. I have one thing left to do and then I can send it off. I'm glad Jane is patient!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Every Monday needs a kitty... here's Sombra!

Sombra, Sombra
She was helping me work on my taxes and secret project all weekend. Of course, most of her "helping" was to sleep next to me while I worked!

A big birthday shout-out to my friend's today! She's blogless, otherwise I'd tell you to give her your own birthday wishes.

Happy Birthday, Jane!

I managed to get the taxes to the "almost done" state. I'm missing a couple of numbers, but everything else is in. I had hoped to finish the secret project this weekend, but that, too, is in an "almost done" state. Patience,'s getting there!

I did take a break and enjoy the back yard yesterday. The apricot tree is going full bore and my husband has been very busy planting seeds. Ever wonder what your significant other does while you're spinning, knitting, crafting, etc? This is what my husband does:

He plants things, like heirloom tomatoes and peppers, salad greens, herbs, onions, and garlic. I'm not quite sure what he has planted in all of those pots, but this is just the tip of the iceberg! From the looks of things, he'll have fresh salsa all summer!

I did manage to get a little spinning done while we watched the Sopranos last night. Half a pound of roving takes a while to spin! I think I'm about ready to knit again...

Friday, April 06, 2007

California Eye Candy Friday...'s poppy season!

California poppies
Our roses are starting up, too.

First rose
On tap this weekend: taxes (ugh!), finishing up my secret project, and working on whatever else catches my fancy. We have no plans for Easter at this point, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Have a good one!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

round and round, here we go again...

...there is something mesmerizing about that spindle going around and around. I'm loving this Northern Lights 100% wool top—I love the colors and I love how it feels! And it's pretty!

Spinning Grape Jelly
It's becoming easier to produce a consistent yarn.

Grape Jelly close-up
Part of that is due to the well-prepped top.

Northern Lights wool top
I've been busy working on my secret project, so I haven't knit anything in a week. But that's OK...I'm enjoying my project and I'm loving the spinning!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

moon dance...

...this is what the moon-set looked like this morning:

Kind of made up for being up that early in the morning! I took this picture as I was leaving for the gym.

I haven't been sleeping well lately and as a result I am slowly losing the energy to do a lot of crafty things. I am still forcing myself to get up to go to the gym at 6:30am because I find that it improves my energy level for most of the day. However, by the time I get home, I'm zonked!!

However, I am working on a secret birthday project for my friend Jane, so the crafty energy I do have is going into that. I'll post pictures when she finally receives it.

Back to work...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

March 2007 Recap...

  • Two Calorimetries (knitting)
  • Five sample size yarns (spinning)
  • Homemade Lazy Kate
Worked on:
Started, but didn't finish:
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)
I think you can sum up this month in one word: spinning. I kind of got obsessed with it! The main advantage to it is that I can do a little at a time and not have to worry about losing my place in a pattern. Considering how intense work has been this last month, it was nice being able to do something that didn't require a lot of brain power!

Not-quite Eye Candy Friday...

...we've experienced a week of poor air quality due to the fires north of us. So many people (and animals) have lost their homes, some...