Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I worked on the sunflower sweater yesterday, and managed to finish the first sleeve. I think I like the way the stripes came out on the sleeves, though I hadn't originally planned them. It's different from my vision of the sweaters, but I think it's OK. Intarsia stripes are definitely easier and neater than intarsia pictures.

I don't think I mentioned it, but Emma got her first two molars on Thanksgiving Day. No wonder she had been so cranky and fussy last week! The two on the top are the ones that poked through, but I think the bottom two aren't far behind. Her gums are bulgy and seem sensitive. Poor girl. I think we'll all be thankful when teething is done.

I was talking about teething at playgroup today, and one of the other mothers (who is really nice and whom I would otherwise consider a rational, smart person) said "Just give her some whisky in her sippy cup, it really helped my son when he was teething."

WHAT? That is just so wrong. I mean, I know there's that old home remedy of rubbing whisky on an infant's gums to help teething pain, but I thought that EVERYONE now knows this is not a good idea. And that's just dipping your finger in the whisky and rubbing the gums. She was suggesting that I give Emma a shot of whisky to drink! Does she not know that that much alcohol can be very damaging if not fatal to a baby??? It made me want to scoop up her son (who is only about 5 months older than Emma) and run out of the room and hide him away forever.

Luckily, there was an enormous hubbub and outcry raised by her comment, and she did look distressed and confused, and said she had no idea this was bad, and that she wouldn't do it again. I just can't believe she thought this would be a good idea in the first place.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I finally took some pictures of the finished yarn. I had to wait until we got some sun, because flash just doesn't do it justice. It shimmers and sparkles, and fairly glows. Here's the stuffed bobbin of 50% Merino 50% tussah laceweight 2-ply....

and here's the skein. It took over an hour to wind the yarn off the bobbin onto the niddy-noddy.

And just because it's so purty, here's a closeup of the yarn.

This skein is 1158 yards (1059 m) of 2-ply yarn, and weighs 3.77 oz (107 g).

I plied the rest of the singles yesterday, and got a skein that's 132 yards (121 m) long and weighs 0.41 oz (11.5 g).

So the total is 1280 yards and 4.18 oz. Yay me!!!

I think this yarn must become a shawl. I think it's imperative that this yarn become a shawl. Never mind that I never go anywhere that I could wear it. Maybe when Shaun and I go out to dinner for our anniversary. Or maybe Emma can wear it at her wedding. Or I can wear it at her wedding. Whatever. It doesn't matter. The yarn wants to be a shawl, and that's that.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Hello, my name is Sue and I am a compulsive spinner (knitter/weaver/crocheter etc.) When I get going on a project, I don't know when to quit. I finished the skein of merino/tussah laceweight. No pictures yet, but it's beautiful. I can't wait to see how it knits up as lace.

I did the plying on Wednesday night. I started right after I put Emma to bed, thinking that I'd be done in plenty of time for a reasonable bedtime, so I could get up Thursday morning and bake my pies. In my deluded little mind, I was thinking that three hours would probably see it done.

So I started at 7:00. I plied and plied and plied. At 9:00, I looked at the bobbins of singles and I swear they looked exactly the same as they did when I started. I know I had taken some off, because I could see that there was finished yarn on the wheel bobbin.

At 11:00 I realize that the singles are, in fact, multiplying on their bobbins.

At 12:00 I debate whether to give up for the night. I am very tired, true, but I am beginning to see the level of the singles decreasing. If I give up now, who knows how much the singles will have multiplied by morning.

At 1:00 I realize that I really should go to bed, because HGTV has signed off for the day, most of the umpty-zillion DirectTV channels are only showing infomercials, and I'm so tired that if I stopped treadling, I would probably fall asleep where I sit. But no! There is more yarn to be plied. I have accepted that there is more singles on the bobbins than will fit as finished yarn on the wheel bobbin, but as a compromise I will ply until the wheel bobbin is full. Yeah, I know, how is that a compromise.

2:07 a.m. I concede defeat to the singles. They have successfully multiplied faster than I can ply. The wheel bobbin is stuffed as full as I can get it, and there are still oodles of singles on the bobbins.

Yes, that's right. I plied for 7 hours straight!! I did not get up for a bathroom break, to get a drink, or take out my contacts. And still there are singles on my bobbins. I think I heard an evil little giggle as I staggered off to bed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I finished spinning the Merino/tussah singles last night. It took three hours to finish off the pile of roving, then another half hour to rewind the bobbin onto another bobbin. I like to ply from rewound bobbins, so that the singles go together in the same direction they were spun- the first end of the singles gets plied first. It seems to make a smoother yarn. It was 11:00 by the time I finished, and I was tired.

That's the problem with spinning really fine. It takes forever to fill a bobbin. I'm not sure of the yardage on each bobbin, but it seems like miles!

Emma has been exploring a new pastime- feeding Cobalt (our dog) Cheerios. She was very cute last night right before dinner. She had her little bowl of Cheerios on the table to keep her occupied until dinner was ready, and she would eat one herself, then give one to Cobalt, eat one herself, etc. She also enjoys throwing things off her highchair tray. As soon as Emma gets into her chair, Cobalt runs over and takes up her station under the chair, poised and waiting for the treats from above.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Just in case you're interested, here's a comparison of the Rambouillet x Cormo wool before and after washing. These are two halves of one large lock, so they started out the same size. As you can see, there was quite a bit of take-up in the staple length after washing, as well as a lot of fluff-factor! The fibers are so springy, if you stretch out the crimps, they are still the same length.

And here's a shot of the rewashed fleece, carded with dog brushes and attenuated into roving. Lovely stuff. The second wash did the trick, and the wool drafts like a dream now.

I continued to spin on the Merino/tussah last night, and thought I was going to be able to finish the premeasured pile of roving, but at 10:00, I was too tired and had to go to bed. Tonight for sure!

Monday, November 22, 2004

What a great spinning weekend I had! Perhaps I overdid it a little, as my right ankle (treadling foot) is a little sore today....

I did a lot on the Merino/silk 50:50 blend I've been working on forever. I did finally get around to weighing out enough roving to match the full bobbin I had already spun. It's really helpful to do that, as it gives me a finite end point and lets me feel like I'm making progress.

This is where I stand on this skein. The back bobbin is the full one, the front one is in progress, the roving is what I have left to spin on the current bobbin, and the sample in front is the finished two-ply.

Close-up of the two-ply. The singles are 110 wraps per inch, the two-ply is 57 wraps per inch. I'm quite pleased with my spinning on this project. It's the finest and prettiest yarn I think I've ever made.

I also played with the Rambouillet x Cormo fleece a little. I carded a couple locks on my dog brushes and spun some samples. I wasn't totally happy with the wool, as it was still a little greasy and sticky. I washed some of it a second time and rinsed it twice. It's now drying, but from what I can tell, it's a big improvement. The samples didn't draft very well, which was frustrating.

Please keep in mind that this wool was carded on dog brushes and didn't draft very well. This is not my best spinning. These are (from the bottom) two-ply, three-ply, four-ply, and five-ply. I decided I like the four-ply best, so I did up the rest of what I had spun as a four-ply mini skein. It's only about two yards.

Isn't it cute!!! This yarn is going to be great. It's so sproingy and squishy and I want a really big pile of it so I can take a nap in it. I can't stop squishing this sample in my hand.

Once I get this wool washed and carded properly, it will be lovely.

Friday, November 19, 2004

OK, so I had to wash some fleece last night. Not the Merino I just bought, some of the Rambouillet x Cormo fleece I bought a while ago. Why did I do this, you ask? Well, I rationalized it by saying that it's practice for washing the Merino. You see, I've never washed a finewool before, and I wanted to get the hang of it before opening up the (more expensive) Merino.

I've got to say, the Ramb x Cormo fleece is GORGEOUS! It was pretty before I washed it, but after washing, it turned snow white and soo soft. I wish I had a functional camera (grr) so I could show it in it's poufy white gloriousness. I'm dizzy with anticipation of spinning this.

The fleece is dense, crimpy, and lovely. I pulled the locks apart somewhat before washing, so that the water/soap would penetrate better and one wash would do it, and hopefully avoid felting from too much water time. I wish I could describe how the locks felt. They were dense like a really good cake is dense.

I did one load in the washing machine and one load in the dishpan. Both came out the same, but the washer holds more. And it's certainly easier to spin out the water than try to drain it in the sink and squeeze it out without handling it too much and felting it. Luckily, I think I avoided the whole felting demon. We'll see tonight when it's dry.

Wool-drying is about the only thing I'll miss about the house we're in now. Our propane heater is huge (way too big for the size of the house), and the top has a large surface area. Since the heat comes out the top, not the front, I can set up a clothes-drying rack on top of the heater and drape a piece of net over it to hold the fleece. The rack holds it far enough off the heater that it doesn't get too hot, but still dries quickly. We keep the heat low at night, so it wasn't quite dry this morning when I left, but almost.

The two loads I did last night are probably enough for half an adult sweater. They take up the entire drying area. And I only washed about one tenth of the fleece....... I'm going to be busy.

I need a drum carder.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The camera saga continues. It was working OK yesterday. I took some more pictures of the house when we went to compare swatches. Then today, I went to turn it on, and it wouldn't! The light came on, the lens extended, but then it spontaneously turned itself off. The batteries are brand new, inserted correctly, there's a memory card in, the stupid thing just turns itself off?!

Waaah! I just want my camera to work.....

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Yay! My camera is back! But because I'm an airhead, I have the camera with me but no charged batteries. Honestly...

We're going to the house this afternoon, to measure the livingroom and evaluate the colors of couch fabric swatches in the room. If all goes well, we will have a couch and chairs on order by this time tomorrow. The swatch that we're leaning toward is a deep reddish brown color ("Claret") that should go with the slate floor in the kitchen/diningroom/hall (which are directly adjacent to the livingroom, thus the concern).

The color should camoflage dog hair nicely, but will show cat hair. But since the carpet is beige, and the cat hair is beige, cat hair on the couch will be considered a "designer accent," tying the decor together.

Must get batteries before going to the house.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Grump grump grump. Sorry about that last post. I'm feeling much better today.

Didn't do any fibery things last night, as I was finishing the cleaning. But the house looks great now!

I've got about 5" of the sleeve done on the sunflower sweater done. Hopefully I'll be posting a picture tomorrow- I checked the location of my camera this morning, and it has left Burlington, WA. That means it was put on the Fed Ex plane this morning and will be delivered today. Isn't technology great? It lets you be so nosy and impatient.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Warning- yesterday was not a great day, and this post is comprised mainly of ranting.

I spent most of yesterday cleaning the house and doing laundry. Our landlords are showing the house to prospective renters tomorrow, and I figured I should prolly pick up a little. I'll be so glad to get out of this house and into my own place. I wouldn't say I "hate" the landlords, but I do harbor a profoundly deep and abiding dislike of them. They show up (without warning) at random times throughout the year, I'm sure they go into the house when we're not there, they gave us no contact info for themselves (we mail the rent to his mom), they have two camper vans, an empty boat trailer, a ~30' sailboat on a trailer , and an outhouse (non-operational) in the yard yet complain when we leave things on the back deck or leaning against the side of the house. Like a lawn chair, a garden hose, or a box of birdseed.

I think they think that we're about 18 years old and renting our first apartment. When we moved in they explained to me how to clean the oven and kitchen sink. And it's written into our lease that we have to vacuum the carpet once a week. Perhaps I should give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that their last tenant was a complete slob, but I have in fact met their last tenant, and she's not.

And then there's the fact that when we told them (two weeks ago during one of their unannounced visits) that we'd bought a house and were giving our notice, they asked me if we could "get some of our stuff out of the house before they show it, because it's a small house and just looks smaller with all our things in it." Excuse me??!! I'm not moving half my stuff to a storage unit and living out of a suitcase for two months so that you can show an empty house. Your house is less than 900 sq. ft. Accept it. It's tiny. That's partly why we're moving. Yes, we have a highchair and toys in the livingroom. Yes, there's a crib and a computer desk in the second bedroom. We have a CHILD. Our stuff stays until we move out.

So I spent most of the day cleaning to get the house pretty. I won't mention that I did this by myself, since my darling husband escaped to work (this is Sunday, remember- the weekend) and to the gym. I won't complain that I did all the laundry, including his, and he didn't even say thank you. I won't even feel bitter that Emma had to play by herself since I was cleaning and doing laundry, and darling hubby didn't even come home until after she was asleep. No, I won't mention any of those things. I wasn't ticked, not at all.

On a happier note, I did start the first sleeve on the sunflower sweater after I put Emma to bed. I'm doing a center panel of 20 yellow stitches, with 2 gold stitches on either side, then the rest in red. We'll see if I have enough red.

I told you this post was mostly ranting. You were warned.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Just checked the Nikon website, and my camera has been repaired and shipped. Estimated arrival is Tuesday. Yay!

It's weird, though. I got a letter yesterday with an estimate of the repair bill (thankfully, $0.00, as it's under warranty), and it said to respond within 45 days or the camera would be returned "as is." So I went online today to confirm that I wanted the repair done, and lo and behold, they'd already done it! I guess since it was under warranty, confirmation wasn't necessary. Or maybe they just sent a whole new camera. I guess I'll find out this week.

Either way, I'll have my cute little camera back, which is the important thing.

And just because I can, here are a couple more pictures.....

The sailboat sweater, sans sleeves, and

halfway through the sunflower sweater front. I don't have a pic of the completed front yet, due to camera failure.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Well looky there! I posted a picture!!!!! That's the house we're in the process of buying.
While staying up much too late last night, I turned the heel on the Fortissima sock. I did it as a short-row, though I'm not crazy about that style. It just seems so much less-sturdy than a heel flap and gusset. In reality, though, I have several pairs of short-row-heeled socks that I made prolly a year and a half ago (maybe two years ago; I think it was pre-Emma) that have held up just fine to heavy wear and weekly laundering in the machine. Plus the short-row style works much better for this self striping yarn.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I finished the front of the sunflower sweater on Monday. It came out much better than the sailboat- the intarsia is much more even. Perhaps cotton yarn was not the best choice to learn intarsia on. It shows every little irregularity in the tension. However, I'm reasonably pleased with my results. I also discovered that I prefer to leave all the ends dangling until the end and weave them in all at once. It's easier to get the tension right that way.

I started a sock on Tuesday, while I was following Emma around the ferry. (Off-island for furniture shopping-eek!) It's just a Fortissima Colori yarn... self-striping jacquard. The stripes are red, yellow, blues, and the "fair isle" part is white and turquoise. I'm working them toe up, in stockinette to show off the yarn. Regular ho-hum socks. But it's always good to have a pair of socks going.

Emma has had a little cold the past two days. She was cranky and out of sorts, and had a low-grade fever, about 101, give or take a tenth or two. She went to bed at 5:30 on Tuesday night, and slept until 8:45 Wednesday morning! Poor girl. She's like me- when I'm sick, all I want to do is sleep. She had the fever all day yesterday, but didn't get to nap much. Kai was being really noisy and a pain. We got home about 6:00, she ate a little dinner (not much), and went to bed. I did give her some Tylenol, since she seemed so uncomfortable. She was up and crying at 10:30, so I got her up and gave her a snack and a drink (she hardly ate anything at lunch and dinner), then she went back to bed and slept until 7:30. No fever this morning. Yay! That kind of cold I can handle. No gross runny nose, no coughing, and best of all- I wasn't sick at the same time. (Unlike our mega-cold in May which knocked all three of us flat for a good week.)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

So I finally buckled down yesterday and started the front of the red sweater. This one will have a sunflower on it. I realized that I was wise to start with the sailboat sweater first, as my introduction to intarsia. The sunflower is much more fiddly, with more small areas of color. After the first hour or so, I had an epiphany of sorts, however. I realized that the key to intarsia is ....

***Accept the multitude of ends and the tangled strands of yarn***

When you just accept it and keep knitting, it becomes an almost enjoyable experience. I say "almost," because it still isn't as fun as cables. But at least it's going better than on the last sweater. It's fun to see the design emerging.

Perhaps intarsia could be viewed as a metaphor for life. Accept what comes to you and just keep going.

In a semi-completely unrelated topic, here's a scary thought. As Shaun and I were driving to work the other day, we were listening to NPR and Georgie's press conference. I said, "I can't believe Emma's going to be in school before that joker's out of office." As soon as I said it, I had to stop and catch my breath. It made me dizzy. Literally. Not just that he was reelected and who knows what he's going to do to screw up next, but that Emma will be in school in four years.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I have been uninspired the past few days. The election seems to have cast a pall over everything. All I felt capable of doing was knitted dishcloths. Not even fancy dishcloths, just plain ol' diagonal garter stitch. And I only did one, on the night of the election. I was watching TiVo'ed shows, popping back to CNN every once in a while to see how badly it was going. It is gratifying, though, to finish a project the same evening you start it. Alas, the red and blue sweaters, the placemats, the doily- all continue to languish.

I did go to spinning yesterday. There were only two of us there- Maybe everyone else is in a slump too. I got an hour and a half of spinning done, but then I had to go pick up Kai from school.

Oh! The New Zealand "Escorial" Merino fleece I ordered off Ebay came yesterday. It's yummy! Soooo soft! Now I know I don't strictly need this, but I'm really glad I got it. It'll be a great sweater when I get it spun up. I don't know that I've ever seen a raw Merino fleece before, just the combed top I have that's blended with silk. I was surprised at how little grease there seemed to be in it. I mean, there is some, obviously, but it's not caked. Should be fairly easy to wash. Now I can't decide whether to wash it now or wait until after we move. I should wait, but I'd like to see it all clean and poufy.

The most distressing thing that's happened recently was that my digital camera decided to conk out. I don't know what happened, but sometime between last Friday afternoon and Monday morning, it completely stopped working. I packed it up and sent it back to Nikon on Tuesday, but who knows how long it'll take to get it back. Waah! At least it's still under warranty. When you have a one-year-old daughter and her grandparents (and auntie!) are across the country, it's very important to have a digital camera. How else will they keep up with her extreme degree of cuteness??!!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

And there was sorrow and much lamenting. Meh.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I got a LOT accomplished yesterday! Oh sure, I did laundry, washed dishes, vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, cleaned the cat box, took out the trash, and boring things like that. But even better, I got lots of FIBERY things accomplished yesterday!

1) I finished the back of the red sweater. Yay! The largest portions of boring stockinette are done.

2) I spun for three hours while Emma napped/played. First I transferred the contents of the bobbin I had been working on to another bobbin. This makes plying much easier. Then I started spinning singles on an empty bobbin. I plan on weighing the full bobbin to see how much is there, the weigh the (mostly) empty bobbin and weigh out fiber to match the weight of the full bobbin. See how consistent my spinning is (i.e. do the two bobbins come out remotely close to even when plying.)

3) Started and finished this dishcloth. It's a circular cloth with a pretty diamond-lacy edge. I modified the pattern in that I added 7 stitches to the cast-on and and therefore an extra lace repeat per section. This was done to make the diameter larger.

Nothing like a productive day!

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that Emma is the smartest one-year-old I have ever met. She really understands us and can follow directions quite well. I had lots of examples of this yesterday, as we spent the whole day together. She could go get things when I asked where they were and she put thing back when I asked her. While she has been doing this to some extent for a while, she's really good at it now! One time I asked her where her other slipper was (because I had no clue where she'd carried it off to) and she trotted off to the bedroom and fetched it! She must have taken it there probably an hour or so before, and still managed to remember where it was. I think she's doing better than I am....

She also discovered that if she steps on the seat of her little chair, then on the arm, and then on the backrest, she can reach high enough to climb into her highchair by herself. Now I'm all for exploration, but when I go to use the bathroom and come out to see little Emma standing on her highchair, clapping, I get a little freaked out! It's three feet off the ground!!! At least it's a very stable chair.