Monday, September 24, 2007

Continuing in the vein of "HOW can she have gotten this big??" is this picture:

The requisite, posed, first day of school shot.



Emma started preschool today. My baby really isn't a baby anymore.

She had a great time, with just a bit of clinginess and crying when I left. She was playing happily when I arrived later to pick her up, and the teacher said she only cried for a couple minutes. She asked all afternoon if she could go back tomorrow. Playdough AND painting, both in the same day. Just imagine!

I, on the other hand, had a horrible time concentrating on anything from 9:00 am to 11:30 am.
Another weekend away, this time back in Washington State. Shaun and a couple friends did the Black Diamond Triathlon in Enumclaw. (It was too bad, Kris, that we were in Enumclaw just a month or so after you left!) Shaun did the Sprint Triathlon (shorter distances), and his friends did the Half-Ironman triathlon (longer distances).

We camped at the Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, beside the Green River, and the race start/finish was a couple miles down the road at Nolte State Park, which had Deep Lake for the swim leg of the race.

The Green River is so beautiful. On Saturday, during the long race, Emma and I went back to the campground and went for a walk along the river. I take my hat off to people who have the desire and ability to do long distance triathlons, but sitting around for 5-6 hours while they're on the course? Not so much my cup of tea. Shaun's Sprint Tri on Sunday wasn't so bad because it's only a couple hours.

There's a nice trail along the Green River at the campground, and after a little initial grumpiness and whining ("I don't want to have an adventure, Mama!") we had a really fun time.

She liked clambering around the rocks at the edge of the water, and looking for slugs in the woods.

The girl is obsessed with finding slugs. She's not into picking them up like she was when she was two years old, but she loves to hunt for them.

(As an aside, I look at those two pictures up there, and I wonder how she can possibly have gotten that tall... It's like she turned into a big girl when I wasn't looking.)

After our walk, we moseyed back to Nolte State Park to see the end of the race. Our friends did great- one won first in her age group. Emma's favorite part of the race? The oranges that were part of the participant's after-race meal. She was well-supplied by our friends.

It was a fun weekend, but a lot of driving for just a weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's amazing how things get finished when you actually work on them. The bird's eye shawl is done; I did the last bit of weaving and knotted and twisted the fringe yesterday. I think finishing the fringe took almost as long as the weaving! Not really, but it was a solid 2 1/2 hours.

Such a nice fabric, this is. Incredibly soft and drapey, but stable and with good integrity. I was a bit worried that the warp sett would be too close, but it's just right. After washing, drying, and pressing, it feels wonderful.

The diamond pattern was so fun to weave. I liked watching the outlines build up pick by pick. I did have a bit of trouble in the beginning keeping track of the pattern, but after a couple repeats it seemed to click and the weaving just flew along.

The specs:

7.6 oz
20" x 75" with 6" fringe
Warp: 3 yards, Jaggerspun Zephyr, 50% merino/50% tussah silk, 5.5 oz (including loom waste)
Weft: handspun singles, 50% merino/50% tussah silk, handdyed by me before spinning, 2.7 oz.
Sett: 25 epi, ~25 ppi
"Triple Draught Bird's Eye" page 21, A Handweaver's Pattern Book, Marguerite Porter Davison
4-harness, 4-treadle

The handspun singles worked quite well as weft, and interacted nicely with the Zephyr. This is something I will be doing again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Happy blogiversary to me! I can't believe I've been doing this for three years already.....

We went camping this past weekend, at Wallowa Lake, about 70 miles east of La Grande. We went with another family (the father teaches at the university with Shaun), and they have three boys, ages 8, 6, and 2. Emma (she's 4 now!!!) loves playing with them, especially the youngest, probably because he copies everything she does.

Playing at the edge of the lake was fun the afternoon that we got there, and we went for a walk Sunday morning to the Wallowa River, which borders the State Park campground and flows into the lake. It's a beautiful setting.

It was very exciting , because we were there during the fall spawning run of the Kokanee salmon. This is a landlocked form of Sockeye salmon, neither of which I had seen before. I've seen the pictures in my field guide, so I knew they were red, but until I actually saw some, I didn't realize just how red they are!

The males especially are a brilliant, vibrant, clear, true RED. Emma found a perch and sat and watched them for several minutes straight, as they navigated their way up a shallow riffle area.

It really was amazing to see them thrash and struggle around rocks and logs to get upstream. They always found the way through, even when the water was only about six inches deep.

All that effort to deposit their precious cargo, then die.

It was an amazing sight.

Sunday afternoon, after we packed up, we went for a hike farther upstream from the campground, to find a waterfall and a colony of pikas. We didn't see any pikas, but the waterfall was lovely.

That's about the top third of the waterfall. It fell off very steeply (like...50 feet straight down) below where I'm standing, and I had no desire to try to get to the bottom to get a full shot. I can only imagine what this would look like in early spring when it's in full spate. See how smooth the rocks are?

The path was fairly short, only a mile in each direction, and though there were a few steep sections, there were switchbacks to make it a bit easier. The views of the mountains and lake were stunning.

Emma didn't much like the uphill parts, but downhill on the way back was better and she hop-skipped most of the way.

Such a fun way to spend a couple days.

Monday, September 17, 2007

So what have I been working on? Well, the lace charting didn't go exactly as planned, so you can't see that yet. It started out as an edging for Kiri, but I'm not sure it fits that design, so it may morph into a completely different original project. Plus I'm not sure the body of Kiri is big enough yet. I did a test-stretch this afternoon, with blocking wires, and I only got about 28" down the middle. Now I'm debating whether to keep on with the main pattern for a while, or call it good and edge it. I have a feeling that I would rather this be a shawl, not a "shawlette" (what a horrible word) or scarf, so I'll probably keep on. Which means that I'll probably run out of yarn during the edging. Which means that I'll probably have to buy another skein. Which means that I'll probably end up with another mostly full skein of this so-very-not-me color when the project is done. Again. Sigh. I'm doomed to never be rid of this yarn.

Warping the loom, however, went swimmingly. It's three yards of Jaggerspun Zephyr, sleyed at 25 epi, 574 ends, 23" wide. And the weft- remember this? The Amethyst merino/silk roving that I dyed myself, spun, then couldn't decide what to do with the bobbin full of singles? Well, look what it became when it grew up!

I'm using the singles as weft, unplyed, and I really really like the way it looks in the fabric. The streaky roving became subtly variegated singles, and when it's woven the different shades of purple blend and streak and give the fabric wonderful interest and depth. The singles are slightly thinner than the Zephyr, much thinner in places, and it gives a nice textural contrast as well. This picture doesn't do it justice AT ALL. The shimmer of the silk doesn't come through, in either the warp or the weft, and it looks less streaky and more shaded in person. It sparkles in the sun. I love the way it's working up, and hope it doesn't change too much when it's wet finished.

The pattern is "Triple Draught Bird's Eye" from A Handweaver's Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison, page 21, a draft originally published by John Murphy in 1824. It's a four harness, four treadle pattern. Surprisingly, this is the first time I've ever woven a four-harness pattern. I've woven plain weave on the rigid heddle and the Baby Wolf, and eight-harness patterns on the Baby Wolf. Never four. Talk about jumping right in as a newbie. It's kind of nice to only have to keep track of four treadles.

The weaving has been greatly facilitated by my recent acquisition of this:

The bobbin winder to end all bobbin winders. I love Ebay. I got this for 1/3 the price of new ($150 for a bobbin winder? I think not), and it's in perfect condition. Not only is it quieter and smoother than the old one that came with my loom, it's a double-ended dealie, and can accommodate almost any size bobbin. Certainly all the ones I have. I can rewind spinning bobbins now, without jury-rigging the bobbin winder or resorting to using my spinning wheel. Using the wheel is doable, but not ideal when rewinding a bobbin of laceweight, because the wheel pulls too hard and breaks fragile yarn. Now I'm all set. Wah-hey!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sorry, can't blog now.

Charting lace.

Warping the loom.

It seems there are Things Afoot.....

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I decided that it's time I got back to Kiri, after abandoning it way back in March. I hadn't worked on it at all since I returned from Maine, when Cobalt was so sick. (She's still with us, by the way, but still doesn't look great. Pretty wobbly, and moving slow. She hasn't gotten worse, though, so we're just enjoying her company for as long as she's not in pain or distress. I'm glad she didn't have any bad episodes this summer; at least the housesitters didn't have to deal with anything horrible.)

So, Kiri. I'm up to 20 layers of leaves now, and have used 42g out of a total of 78g of yarn.

I've used just over half of the yarn, and I'm thinking it's about time to start the finish, though I might do one more layer of leaves. Right now it stretches to about 35" along the middle line. The edge treatment may possibly be a narrow band of a different lace pattern, then a knit-on edging. I have no idea what patterns yet. If I were to do the edging as written in the published pattern, it would be about an inch wide, maybe two after blocking.

Size 1 (2.5mm) needles and the Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro yarn make a lovely fabric, but it's very small scale!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How fancy! I just added the "Etsy Mini" widget, over there in my sidebar. ------->

To view an item in my shop, just click its picture. Spiffy....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Emma and I had a little photo shoot this morning, out at Ladd Marsh. My yard is pitifully unphotogenic, so we went someplace a little prettier.

First, my symmetrical Mystery Stole, made by knitting Rows 1-287 twice, then grafting. I like it, and if I ever go anyplace elegant (Ooo, there's a wedding in my family this month..... somewhere to actually dress up!), I will wear it and feel beautiful.

Finished dimensions are 18.5" x 76", it weighs practically nothing, and is just lovely. I'm glad I opted not to do the wing part, though I may purchase the pattern and knit a double-winged symmetrical stole as well, because the wing is very pretty too. The pearly beads help it drape beautifully, in addition to their very subtle texture and shimmer against the wool and silk in the yarn.

Next up is the Chevron Shawl. I dyed this on Monday, and I think the color is a vast, vast improvement over the flat gray that the yarn was before.

I used 2 parts "Purple" and 1 part "Sapphire" Jacquard dyes, and it came out just right. The Purple is a warm red-purple, and the Sapphire is a clear cool blue, and together they made a plummy cool blue-purple.

Final dimensions on this are 40" from the center neck to the point and 76" across the top. I already have the original shawl from this pattern, in my own handspun, so despite the fact that it goes perfectly with this dress, I think I'll be listing this for sale in my shop. If I can let it go.

All photos courtesy of Emma, age nearly-4.
Well, we're back in La Grande, and it's good to be home. We did not enjoy the trip, though. The plan was to take the 5:25am ferry to Orcas Island, where Shaun was going to do a triathlon, then afterward go straight to the mainland and tootle off to Oregon. We would have arrived in La Grande at about 10:00pm. Fine and dandy.

However, the last bit of cleaning (I wanted to really thoroughly clean the house so that nobody would suspect we had a cat at the lab- no telltale cat hair....) and packing took longer than I anticipated, and despite getting up at 4:00am there was no way we would have made the ferry to Orcas. So Shaun went off by himself to the triathlon, and Emma and I remained in Friday Harbor to empty the house and clean it. Shaun finished his race, caught the 12:30 ferry back to Friday Harbor (barely), and we had to wait around all afternoon to catch the 5:00 ferry to Anacortes. Arrived on the mainland at 6:30, got some dinner, and then off we went.

Driving and driving and driving. Shaun and I had been up since 4:00am, remember. So tired. I had a ~1 hour nap right before lunch and I slept in the car some, and Shaun slept in the car after I started driving, but still. He did a triathlon (swim, bike, run) and I did a triathon of cleaning (scrub, dust, vacuum). Anyway, we made it home at 3:30am. Shaun went straight to bed, Emma (who slept almost the whole way in the car) was up and ready to play, and I set up the fish tanks before staggering to bed. It felt so wonderful to sleep in our nice firm bed. The one at the Lab was way too soft, and made my back hurt.

Yesterday, we slept late, even Emma (yay!). We took the trailer to Shaun's office and unloaded all the boxes and the file cabinet, then scooted off to return the trailer before 11:00, so we wouldn't get charged for another day. Turns out that since it was Labor Day, nobody was there, so we needn't have worried, but oh well. Then back home to unpack and clean the house. The housesitters left it somewhat less than spotless. I only did the kitchen yesterday- I'll get to the bathrooms and the carpet today. There has been entirely too much cleaning in my life for the past three days.

One thing we definitely miss about Friday Harbor is the weather. When we left there, it was about 65F. When we finally got up at 9:30 yesterday morning, it was 85F. Hot, breezy, and sunny. By late afternoon, it was up to 97F, and inside the house was 95F. That's with the curtains closed and the windows open. I had on a tank top for the first time all summer. I miss Friday Harbor.

The only redeeming thing about weather like that is that it's great for doing laundry. I did two loads, and the first was dry on the line by the time the second came out of the washer half an hour later. I couldn't vacuum yesterday, because it was just too hot. I just couldn't face it after unpacking, laundry, and cleaning the kitchen. So what did I do instead?

Why yes, standing over a steaming dye vat sounds much better. Perfectly logical. By that point, the house was already at 95F, so it didn't really make a bit of difference.

That's the gray Chevron Shawl in there, becoming a nice blue-purple. I'll be blocking it and the Mystery Stole today, after I vacuum. The weather shifted overnight, and it's only 75F now. Much more bearable. It actually looks as if it may rain later.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The MS3 knitting is finished. I grafted the center this morning, and my stole is ready to be washed and blocked.

I ended up just grafting the two halves together. I decided that I wanted the small center motifs to continue uninterrupted across the middle, and joining the halves with a perpendicularly-knit-on lace insertion would have disrupted that. The graft isn't totally invisible, because the pattern mirrors, but I like it. And it's symmetrical.

Tomorrow, we leave Friday Harbor. I can't believe it's September already- it seems like just yesterday we were in La Grande packing and cleaning and loading the car to come up here. And now we're headed back to Oregon. The car is packed (all but the fish and the cat), the little U-Haul trailer is stuffed with the remaining equipment and books from Shaun's lab, and we're departing on the 5:25am ferry tomorrow.

I'll be sad to leave Friday Harbor, but on the other hand, our dog will be very glad to see us, and my loom awaits!