Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Whew! That was a long round! It took me five and a half hours to do Row 49! Here's the progress shot so far, after 49 rows and 34.5 hours.

As you can see, it was a very labor-intensive row. Each little loop has 15 double crochets in it. I got very tired of counting to 15. The thread is so fine that if I forgot to count as I was crocheting, it was easier to take out the stitches in that loop and start over, because the stitches are too small and crowded together to count easily. I'm very glad to have this row done. The rest of the doily should go relatively quickly.

In the comments from the last post, Elayne asked what I plan to do with this and if crocheting this small hurts my fingertips. Well, I probably will frame this doily. I haven't framed any of the others I've done, but this one took so long and is so fine that I think I will. I want to have it on display but I would be slightly miffed if it got stained or a broken thread (...though I'm really very very pleased with the thread I'm using. It's Coats Machine Quilting and Crafts mercerized Egyptian cotton, size #50. It's very strong, perfectly evenly spun with no lumps, and has a soft sheen. Very nice...) so I'm thinking under glass is the way to go. Especially with a toddler in the house.

As for hurting finger tips, it really hasn't been a problem. I get a callus on the side of the tip of my left middle finger, where I push the needle to get it to go through the existing stitch, but I don't really push that hard. The only pain I get from crocheting with fine thread is "The Claw," which is from crocheting too long at a stretch. My whole left hand (thread holding hand) gets very sore and stiff from keeping tension on the thread. The finer the thread, the harder it is to hold. This occurs mainly when I haven't crocheted for a while and the muscles in my hand are out of shape. Thankfully, The Claw only appears for a few days and then disappears. I went to sleep with a cold pack on my hand the first couple nights I was working on the doily, but after about 6 hours of working on it, I had toughened up so my hand doesn't hurt any more. The appearance of The Claw is entirely my own fault, for not taking enough breaks.

I'd also like to mention that I don't normally keep track of how many hours I work on a project. I usually just enjoy the process and don't worry how long it takes. But for this one, I wanted to know. It's a special project, and besides, everyone always asks me how long fine-thread-crochet pieces take to make. This way, I can tell them. (But here's a secret... crocheting with fine thread doesn't take any longer than crocheting with thicker thread! It just takes some getting used to and gives a smaller product. Don't tell!)

I'll leave you with some pretty pictures from my garden. First we have hydrangeas.

A mophead variety in the back yard. It has lovely lavender-pinky-blue flowers that get more pink as they open.

A lacecap variety in the front yard. Very pretty sapphire blue flowers that turn lavender as they open.

Next is a Shasta daisy variety called "Crazy Daisy." I think you can see why. Hilarious ragged flowers. Sort of like a daisy on drugs.

Lastly is something very pretty, but I'm not sure what it is. Sort of Ranunculus-looking, but I could be wrong. The flowers stand about three feet high, and the leaves are a mound about a foot high, with some extending up the flower stems. You can sort of see them in the background. They are deeply lobed and jagged. If anyone recognizes this, please let me know!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Still crocheting away on the sewing thread doily. I took pictures at intervals and kept track of how long I worked on it, and when I added up the time, I was amazed at how many hours I found over the past few days, mostly in 15 or 30 minute intervals during the day and larger blocks after Emma's bedtime.

This is the doily on Wednesday night, after 32 rounds, time is at 8 hours and 45 minutes. I like the way the solid area looks, but that's a LOT of double crochets!

This is Thursday night, 40 rounds done, total time so far of 15 hours and 45 minutes. The solid part is done, and the two loopy rows just flew by in comparison!

This is Sunday morning, after 47 rounds, and the time is up to 25 hours and 45 minutes. Each round now takes nearly two hours to complete.

And this is where I am now. Round 48 is almost done, total working time so far is 28 hours.

This round has been by far the most time consuming one yet. It's double crochet in every stitch all the way around, with a chain-8 loop every eighth stitch. It looks pretty funny right now, with all the little ch-8 loops sticking out around the edge! I was working on this last night while watching a movie, and I worked on this one round for the ENTIRE movie plus the beginning of another, and didn't even finish! I only made it 3/4 of the way around in 2 hours and 15 minutes. By then I was too tired to crochet or watch any more movie, so I went to bed.

The next round will take even longer, though. In addition to stitches in the base round, each of those ch-8 loops gets 15 double crochets in it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Since I don't have anything to spin right now, I decided to do some crocheting. Because I had to do something that I can finish before mid-August. I get this way in late June and July, in anticipation of the County Fair. The Fair booklet came in the mail a couple days ago, and I spent a happy half-hour browsing through it and thinking about what I'll enter this year.

I spent a lot of time recently re-doing Dad's sweater, and I can't enter that since I already did, so I don't really have a lot to enter this time. Mostly what I've been doing is spinning, and I'll enter at least three of those skeins (the laceweight merino/silk, the Rambouillet x Cormo, and one of the Colonials, as well as possibly the black laceweight alpaca), but I want to have other things too! The hardanger sachet will go in, and a woven chenille scarf, and four pairs of socks, and a little knitted doily, and a child's knitted hat, and a crocheted snowflake mobile, and possibly the alpaca shawl (though maybe not, as my spinning wasn't great for the yarn). Oh, wait. I guess I have been doing things besides spinning!

But I do want to enter some crochet things. San Juan County has lots of knitters and weavers, but not many crocheters, so that category always looks a little sparse. Since I enjoy crochet, I always try to put several things in. Plus, I'll admit, I like the reduced competition for Best of Class in crochet.

So, on Monday night I made this bookmark (it's not blocked yet, so ignore the wiggly edges):

This is crocheted out of tatting thread (#80 crochet cotton), using a #14 steel hook. It's about 7" long, not including the tassel. It was originally a table runner pattern, written for #10 crochet cotton (each motif 4" square). I just used six of the motifs (mine are 1" square) and modified the seventh to be a triangle instread of a square. Very pretty, quick, and satisfying.

Then yesterday, I started this:

This is a pattern from 1917, republished by Old-Time Crochet Magazine. I found it as a freebie on (Which is a pretty good site- you have to sign up to see the patterns, but they do have some nice ones, and I don't think I've ever gotten spam from them.) As written, for #10 crochet cotton, it comes out 30" across. I'm making it in sewing thread, and as you can see, it's quite a bit smaller. That's 21 of 60 rounds finished, and just under three inches across! That's about four hours' work.

I don't know why I like crocheting doilies so much, especially doilies out of such ridiculously fine thread, but I do. They're completely useless, except to be so pretty. It's so fun, though, to see people's faces when they look at super-fine-thread crochet and ask me how I can do that! Maybe that's showing off or bragging or whatever, but I get a kick out of it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

I finished spinning and plying the purple Colonial wool on Wednesday, and washed all the skeins yesterday. Here it is drying on the back deck, in all its glorious purpleness.

(See the plant boxes? Remember what they looked like on May 9? See how pretty they are now?!!)

And here's a shot of the finished yarn. This is 39.6 oz (2 1/2 pounds!) and 2518 yards of three-ply, sport-weight yarn. It's about 16 wraps per inch. Love it, love it, love it. This is destined to be a sweater for me, or maybe a shawl, but probably a sweater because I'll get more use out of it that way.

I'm not sure what I'm going to work on next. I don't have any more fiber that's ready to spin (WHAT??? How can that be!) because I need to borrow the Guild's carder and finish carding the Rambouillet x Cormo fleece, I need to finish washing the Merino fleece and card it, and I have two alpaca fleeces that also need to be carded.

The alpaca has a funny story..... I was headed to spinning group two weeks ago, and was debating with myself in the car whether I wanted to stop at the thrift store on the way. I had the beginnings of a scratchy throat (that turned out to be the mega-strep-throat) and had almost convinced myself that I should just go to spinnning, pick up my share of the wool for the Sheep-to-Shawl warp, and go home. Emma was with me, and we were both tired. Debate, debate, I'll stop, no I won't, etc. At the last second before I passed the turn for the thrift store, I thought "If I don't stop, there's will probably be something really great there, and I will have missed it." So I went to the thrift store. And what do I see as I walk up to the door? A big sign that says "Clean Alpaca Fleece: $2.00" on the front of a big box. Inside the box are about six garbage bags full of alpaca! The sight of that sign made me dizzy (though it may have been the strep). I immediately parked Emma in a nearby lawn chair with a magazine from the free bin and dove into the box. Now not all the bags had great fleece in them. Two had a lot of guard hair, one was full of second cuts, and one was really coarse. But the other two were really, really nice!! Woo-hoo! I got a white and a black, both fully skirted, whole fleeces. For a total of $4.00. Now that's a good day at the thrift store.

I'll leave you with a picture of an Orange-crowned Warbler that flew into my living room window this morning. I was merrily twisting up the skeins of purple yarn, when BAM! Poor little birdie. Luckily it was only stunned. It flopped over to the deck rail after it bounced off the window, and sat there for about 20 minutes getting its bearings. It did eventually fly away to a nearby tree, where it sat for another 5 minutes or so, then visited the feeder once, then flew back into the underbrush and out of sight.

Click on the picture for a bigger view- the detail on its wing feathers is amazing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Not too much to report this time. I didn't do anything fibery at all last night. In fact, I went to bed at 8:00, shortly after I put Emma to bed. I did a bunch of weeding in the garden yesterday morning, and took Emma and a friend to the beach in the afternoon. It was really fun- there was a sandy tidepool that had warmed up enough for the girls to "swim" and they splashed around and waded and had a grand old time. But I guess I was tired after all that activity, after a week of doing nothing.

The roses are in full bloom in the backyard, and this one is lovely:

It's a really pale, pale pink, and has the sweetest fragrance. It's a little bush rose, only as high as my knee, and that bud is about an inch and a half long. They open up into ruffly, wide flowers.

I was also able to snap a picture of this Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini), a very striking butterfly.

I'm amazed that I was able to get such a good picture of it- it was zipping around quite fast!

Friday, June 10, 2005

I've been busily recovering from the strep, and don't have a sore throat at all anymore. Hooray! People just don't fully appreciate the absence of pain in their day-to-day lives. When my throat was sore, it was all I could think about, and I was conscious of each and every time I swallowed. Actually, swallowing was an act of will. Now that I'm better, I hardly notice I even have a throat. Being sick makes me profoundly respectful of people who are dealing with persistant pain, whether it's due to illness, injury, or whatever.

And, in case anyone who is in pain right now is reading this, here are a couple pictures to make you giggle and take your mind off it.

The first is my cat, Naia, and the pose he spent the better part of three hours in a few days ago. I wanted to take a picture, but at first was afraid to stop spinning and get up for the camera, lest he move and spoil the shot. After half an hour of non-movement on his part (though I could tell that he was breathing), I decided to try. He didn't twitch a muscle, even when the flash went off.

And this is the lovely Emma, proving that she will be a fiber-junkie too. After her bath, while I was trying to get her to her room for diaper and jammies, she raced out to the living room, dropped her towel on the floor and climbed up on the coffee table to play with the ball-winder.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

OK, so it isn't the flu. I have strep throat. Now I have had strep before, when I was a kid, and I don't remember it being so EXCRUCIATING. I have never in my life had a sore throat this bad. It was to the point where I could hardly swallow or talk. I tried to read Emma a book, and ended up in tears, it hurt so bad. Then when I finally went to the doctor on Wednesday, they of course wanted to do a throat culture, and I almost passed out. "Oh, you have a very sore throat? OK, here, let me scrape this little stick with a wad of really scratchy cotton on the end way back there where it REALLY hurts. Please try not to gag while I do this. Hey why are you crying?" Seriously painful. There has got to be a better way to test for strep.

Anyway, I got penicillin and Tylenol3 with codeine, and am feeling much better now. Penicillin is a wonder drug. I adore it. It is my friend. I can eat and drink and read to my baby again.

I was feeling so much better today that I was able to spin another full bobbin of singles of the purple Colonial wool, and ply another skein. Yay!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Short post. Flu. Throat like knives. Sleepy. Energetic daughter. Urg.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Well! It's been a while. I've been very busy, and am getting lots of things done. I finally finished Dad's Christmas Sweater on Tuesday night. I really think it will fit Dad this time- it's quite big on me, and fits Shaun just fine. If it doesn't fit, too bad. I am NOT ripping this out again!!

It's a really good feeling to have this done, and done right this time. Now it's a garment that will be used, and isn't just wasted effort.

I also finished a pair of socks this week, but I forgot to take a picture, and they're not very interesting anyway. It's the pair I started here. The colors continued to pool weirdly, and I'm not sure I really like the finished product. They fit just fine, but the self-patterning yarn didn't pattern very well. I may overdye them.

Today I started washing the superfine New Zealand Merino fleece I bought off Ebay last fall. This is a truly special fleece. I unrolled the whole thing on the deck to shake it out and get a good look at it. When you look at the outside, from a distance, it doesn't look like much.

Kind of dingy. But, if you look closer and get underneath the greasy tips, you see this:

It is glorious. Unbelievably soft, fine fibers, crimpy, and snowy white. I washed up about a quarter of it this morning, and I think I'm in love. There is some VM that is left behind, and I think I'm going to have to send it through another soapy wash, but it is looking great. I'm going to spin this as very very very fine laceweight.

In gardening news, the first fuschias have opened in the baskets I planted myself!