Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sweet Baby Things

Three special babies, three special gifts! First, the completed Matinee Jacket.
Pattern: Matinee Coat from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, 4 skeins Color 600 (vintage pink) and remnants of 003, deep chocolate brown.
Needles: Addi Turbo, 3.25mm and 3.0mm, both 24", Knit Picks Harmony DPN's, 3.25mm
Modifications: I knit this little gem in one piece, from the bottom up, doing a 3-needle bind-off at the shoulders. I picked the stitches for the sleeves up and worked them from the top down, reversing the shaping. It was much, much easier than having to seam 5 pieces! The edging is just a very basic crochet edging.
Time to Knit: June 12 - 22, 2009

You may remember my marathon baby knitting session during the week my girls stayed with my parents. Well, I finished the sleeve quite a while ago, but then only added the crocheted edging a week or so ago. I've emailed the Mom, and my plan is to hold onto the jacket until the baby is born. I want to deliver this in person....especially as the Mom is one of those old friends with whom I really want to reconnect. She completely agrees, and we have tentative plans to get together a couple of times after baby arrives. I'm on pins and needles, because baby is due any moment now!

The first set was sweet and demure. The second set is bold and vibrant!

You may recognize Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket and Bonnet. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to finish them off. So far, though, I'm very pleased. They are just too cute! I was a bit tickled to discover that I've now done so many BSJ's that I don't really need the pattern much. I'll give you the full details when it's finished.
I just started the third gift a few days ago, and am not working as quickly on it as I did with the others. It's another Debbie Bliss pattern, the Eyelet Vest from Special Knits. It should come at no surprise that the yarn is yet more....Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino! (I promise to give it a rest after this....) I've not yet decided what to make as a go-with, either booties or a hat of some sort. We shall see.
If I'm being totally honest, much as I've enjoyed making these little things, I'll be glad when they are all finished and have gone to their new homes so that I can move on to things for my own family.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A NaKniSweMoDo Announcement


After great thought and consideration, I've decided to drop out of NaKniSweMoDo. It wasn't at all an easy decision, but I think it's the right one.
I initially signed up for this project with the absolute best of intentions. 12 sweaters in 12 months?! To some it seems like a crazy idea, but I thought it would be perfect for me because it would help reach three very important goals. Namely:
  1. Use up my stash! I had lots of sweaters planned that I never seemed to get around to knitting.
  2. Get over my weird issues with sweaters. I LOVE the finished project, but adult sweaters have been problematic for me for a variety of reasons.
  3. Help me accept myself, and give myself the love and attention I deserve with my own handknits. Ask my knitting friends - this has been a big problem for me.

By the end of March I had finished three sweaters - one for myself, one for my husband, and a sample for a designer. The fourth went quickly onto the needles, but it's moved very slowly. For some reason I just couldn't bring myself to cast on the next sweater - largely through indecision as to which to do, but also because other projects (ok, and my lace obsessions) interfered. It's now been two months, and not only have I not continued my NaKniSweMoDo quest, but I find myself really questioning whether or not it's right for me at this time.

What's changed?
Well, I have.
Rather, my body has started to change and for the first time I have every reason to believe that this is just the start towards a permanent and lasting change. It's been almost a month since I joined the gym, and this is my fourth week with the trainer. The weight is coming off, my shape is changing, my attitude is better and I am loving every minute of it. Thanks to the groundwork I had done prior to joining the gym, I know that I will be successful.
I really don't want to knit sweaters right now because I have no idea of what my final body shape and size is going to be like. I also have no idea of how long it's going to take to get there, or exactly how much change I'm going to go through. What I do know is that I don't want to waste time, energy and resources knitting for myself while I go through this process. If I knit to fit me as I am now, by the time I'm done the sweater most likely will be too big. Guessing what size to knit for the future me is laughable for the reasons mentioned above. Unlike the fear of old (can't possibly knit THAT size....can I make it smaller because I might lose weight?...it was nuts, and I know that now) this time I feel that my sweater avoidance is coming from a place of hope and love. You better believe that by spring I'll be making sweaters for myself like crazy!
And so, I'm going to let go of NaKniSweMoDo. If it comes back next year, I may try it again. In the meantime, I have lots and lots of other things to knit!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Monday List


The follow up from last week is very simple. There were, after all, only two things from the Needs and Wants list that I didn't complete - I didn't catch up on posting projects, and I didn't do any finish work from my basket. All in all, it was a successful week!

Needs:
  1. I cast on the third and final baby set, and I'd like to work through it as quickly as possible. The baby shower isn't until the last part of August, but the sooner it's finished, the sooner I'll feel free to move on to other projects.
  2. Likewise, I feel that my knitting is snarled up in general. I need to either finish up a project in my basket or I need to figure out what would help move things along. A new project? Reworking something that's already going on? Hmmm....
  3. Clean up the blog. I hadn't realized how many things I needed to attend to until I had a good look at it yesterday. Yikes! I'm going to include some general project catching-up in this one.
  4. Start working towards a daily spinning practice - even if it's only a few minutes/day. My yellow jersey adventures have reminded me that I'm perhaps a spinner first, and I feel that I really need to make it a stronger part of my life.
  5. Get my sleep schedule back in line. I've had two horrendous nights, and I can't afford to let that derail the rest of my efforts!
  6. We'll be going to my parents' home this weekend, and I see a trip to the lake trail at Watkins Mill as an absolute necessity!

Wants:
  1. To figure out how to alter the time/space continuum so that I have more hours in every day with which to work on my crafts. Just kidding. Sort of.
  2. To write something, anything. My journal has been neglected sorely for the last month, the story/day project was abandoned and I haven't written any letters. Sigh.
  3. Break out the art supplies. They need to be used rather than tucked away as too precious to touch. Funny how fear will do that to a girl.
  4. Start working on some knitting design projects. I have ideas. They just need to come out of my head somehow.

Wishes:
  1. There just might be another Golding in my near future....
  2. Fixing up/painting/decorating our bedroom. It's bugging me again.
  3. Some sewing, perhaps. My BKB is starting to sew, and while I already know I'll never have any sort of passion for it I do have some things I'd like to work on.
Have a great week everyone!

Le Tour Est Fini!

I am quite happy to announce that for the second year in a row I have earned my Yellow Jersey for Le Tour de Fleece! Yipee!

My Tour Goals were actually quite modest this year. Given the large amounts of time I've been spending in the gym I knew that I just wasn't going to be able to manage either a daily spinning practice or to finish large amounts of fiber. Instead, I set some very reasonable goals which were designed to help me learn a few things. To that end, I was able to accomplish the following.
  1. I liberated some gorgeous singles from a languishing bobbin, producing a two-ply yarn that makes my magpie heart sing. (See the above link.)
  2. In a sprint to the finish, I finished reading The Intentional Spinner just yesterday. I will fess up to skipping the portions on novelty yarn (blech..not me at all), but I did read everything else. I'm amazed at how much I learned, and am ready to put into practice a few new ideas.
  3. I did call about processing the fiber, and will be taking it in after the first part of August. I may haul in the box of llama that's been languishing in the basement while I'm at it to see if they can do anything with it as well.
  4. The actual spinning portion of le Tour was all about silk for me - gorgeous, luscious, touchable, shiny silk. What I didn't tell you before the Tour started was that I had been more than a bit intimidated by the small amount of gorgeous silk that had found its way into my stash. No more! Now it's one of my favorites, and I've enjoyed every minute of working with it! For those of you who remember my dilemma....YES, I did order a second batch of the Chasing Rainbows Bombyx Silk Top! It should arrive soon, and I can't wait to finish up this project so that I can knit with it immediately. My second new-to-me fiber was the suri/alpaca blend. Honestly - though it is beautiful to look at - it's just not my favorite fiber. It's fantastic for my drop spindle experiments because it's so very sticky, but it's just not what I had hoped for. I'm 99% certain at this point that it's a preparation issue, though, and I will definitely try it again some time with another batch.
  5. For the first time ever, I spent an entire day yesterday with my drop spindle. My husband snorted a bit when I showed him the admittedly small fruit of my labor, but I loved every minute of it. I am a spindle spinner, and I see many happy moments with my spindle down the road!

Congrats to all of the rest of my fellow Tour participants. I hope you all earned your yellow jersey, AND I hope you enjoyed the ride!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Stone

My Tour de Fleece goals included reacquainting myself with the drop spindle - so that I could figure out if I really am a spindle spinner after all - and to work with two new-to-me fibers. Yesterday afternoon I got the brilliant idea of combining those two goals so that I could more easily reach my yellow jersey. (It was one of those 'duh' moments....we'll not speak of why I hadn't figured it out earlier...)

The fiber selection wasn't really that tough. It needed to be something that I hadn't spun before, and my eye had already been on several blends that I had in my stash. Based on some sampling I had done a couple of months ago, I decided to use a gorgeous Suri alpaca/silk blend (The label says 70/25?) from Alpacas d'Auxvasse.
I started playing with my spindle yesterday afternoon, doing just enough to figure out how thick I needed to make my singles. As suspected, this fiber is much more appropriate for my spindle than the luscious fiber which I had chosen last year to be my first spindle project. (I was spinning a very slippery fiber much too fine for the weight of my spindle, and I finally gave up and moved it to the wheel.) Oddly, the suri/silk combination is acting more like Romney than it's acting like either silk or alpaca, and it has a stickiness to it that's perfect for this novice spindle spinner. I've had this particular batch of fiber for about 2 years (I think?) and it's possible that it's felted a wee bit as it's been moved around during that time. Then again, it could just be the preparation. My initial plan had been to make a fine laceweight with this fiber, but when sampled on the wheel it had proved to make a hard, unpleasant thread. Fifteen minutes with the spindle gave me a soft, lofty single and when I let it double back on itself I was enchanted with the the resulting two-ply.
And so, this morning I got up early and took my fiber and spindle to the back porch for a bit of spinning before my family got up. My 30 minutes flew by, and I found myself feeling both comfortable and happy with my spindle for the first time ever.

Of course, it's hard not to love such a beautiful tool!
I'm going to try to meet with my friend Jenny from the guild sometime soon. She's an excellent spindle spinner, and I know I have a lot to learn. In the meantime, I'm going to keep working. I figure at the very least 8 1/2 oz of fiber is enough to help me really get a feel for my spindle.
I don't know that spindles will ever replace the wheel in my heart...but I think there's definitely room for both in my life. AND, I just might need a few more spindles....


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crossroads

This is the last little bit of the first half of my silk.
I could spin silk forever.
Once I finish up this tiny bit, I face a crossroad of sorts. I can go on with my original plan, switching out bobbins and spinning the rest up for a nice two-ply laceweight. This is my first silk, after all, and I can always buy more later (possibly in other colors).
OR
I can spin up the rest of the silk on this bobbin and order a second hank of silk for the second bobbin of singles. That way I would have twice the finished yarn for a much bigger lace project. Yes, it's been almost two years since I bought the silk, but because of the color variation I don't think it would be a problem.
What do you think?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Monday List

Jumping right in with both feet...

Needs:
  1. Spinning for the Tour!
  2. Finish reading for the Tour!
  3. Call about having fiber processed. (I totally want my yellow jersey!)
  4. Catch up on posting projects.
  5. Continue focusing on my health priorities, because my goodness I feel good!

Wants:

  1. Finish a second baby set.
  2. Start the third - and last - baby set.
  3. The finish work from the basket - especially redoing the skirts on the girls' dresses.
  4. To start getting up earlier on a regular basis. I miss my early morning quiet time.

Wishes:

  1. Design work...hehehe....
  2. Clean bedroom and closet.
  3. I'm debating contacting a few friends from high school. This needs some thought, but could be helpful in the long run.

Short and sweet today....Have a great week everyone!

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's Been Keeping Me So Busy

You may have noticed that posting has become somewhat sporadic recently. I'm very sorry if' I've disappointed anyone, but I do have a great reason for my absence.


Do you remember the Monday List from almost two weeks ago? I mentioned in that post that I'd taken some steps toward improving my health and promised to talk about them soon. Well, today seems as good a day as any!


Two and a half weeks ago, thanks to my husband's new job, we became members of Wilson's Fitness. I've wanted a gym membership for a very, very long time, but until now it just hasn't been in our family budget. When we discovered that his new company would pay half of a family membership, we jumped on it immediately. (Goodness Bless the belief that prevention is cheaper than the cure!) After a bit of debate and a couple of tours we ended up going with the biggest fitness company in town because it provided the things that our family needed the most.


I've never worked with a trainer before, but I knew that it could potentially be extremely beneficial, and so I signed up for the 30-Day Makeover plan. Why? Several reasons. First, it's been two years since I had a regular exercise schedule and almost seven since I had a gym membership. I wanted help building a good routine. Second, I have a long way to go. To be blunt and honest, I need/want to lose around 75 lbs. I've spent the last year doing the background work that needed to be done - through acupuncture and therapy - and the actual physical portion deserved every bit as much attention. Third, it's an investment. I know myself, and I know that if I spend the money it's going to push me to follow through. Fourth, I feel as if I can no longer afford to remain as I am. It's time to change, and I figured I might as well jump in with both feet.


I met my trainer, Meghan, last Monday for my initial assessment. We did all of the standard things - checking weight and body fat, testing for flexibility and strength and going through lifestyle questions. She then prescribed exercise for Tuesday and we made plans to meet for our first official workout on Wednesday. Meghan also instructed me to sign up on The Daily Plate, giving her my password and ID so that she could check up on me. Later that day she emailed my caloric requirements - also listing the amount of protein, carbs and fat she wanted me to get each day. The final piece of the puzzle....water. I was instructed to drink half of my body weight each day in water with an extra 8 oz. for each half hour I worked out. (Believe it or not, with the way I'm eating right now it's actually tougher to get the food and water intake that I need than it is to do the exercise!)


Since then, I've been in the gym almost every day. I meet with Meghan on Mondays and Wednesdays for an hour of strength training after 30 minutes on the treadmill. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I'm to do 45 minutes of cardio, with an additional five minute warm up and five minute cool down on top of that. Meghan recommended a class to try on Friday - mat pilates - which was extremely difficult, but surprisingly fun. (You've got to love it when the entire staff laughs, shakes their heads and tells you that you won't be able to do everything in the class for at least a month!) I'll probably make the class a part of my regular schedule, even though I'm to do 25 min. of cardio prior to any classes I take. Meghan scheduled rest days on the weekend, but as she told me I didn't have to do that if I didn't want to. As there's a yoga class on Saturday mornings, I'll probably go ahead and include that as well. I tried it last weekend and while 'fitness' yoga is quite different from the style I learned some years ago, it was a great way to start the day.

Where are the girls during all of this? We have free childcare with our membership! Yay! I'm actually using two separate locations - FIT, a female-only facility, and Wilson's South, which is literally just across the parking lot from FIT. I meet Meghan and take classes at FIT, which has a smaller playroom. Wilson's actually boasts a climb and slide in their playroom, so we go there on cardio-only days so the girls can have some variety. I've been very pleased with the quality of care they receive in both locations, as it makes it a lot easier - and a lot more fun - for me to do my workout. On some occasions, like today, I might get up and go to the gym before my husband leaves for work.....but I anticipate that being an exception to the rule.


The really wonderful thing is that I LOVE going to the gym. In fact, I had forgotten how much I enjoy working with the weight machines and doing cardio in a way that I can easily track progress. Plus, my gym time has already become beloved 'me-time' in a way that home exercise never did. My motto right now is to, "Do EVERYTHING Meghan tells me to do," and I can honestly say that I'm enjoying doing just that.

And the rest of the family? Two words....Beach Club! My husband and girls are delighted to have access to the Beach Club, and already we've used it quite a bit! In fact, we've plans to go this weekend! There's a pool at FIT/MAC as well, and now that I've a new swimsuit I anticipate taking the kids there quite a bit, too.

So thanks for baring with me on this very long post about a very non-creative aspect of my life. All I can really say, though, is that after two weeks I already feel a million times better and that's going to impact my life in a whole bunch of ways.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Lieu of...

Rather than have a Monday List this week, I thought I would take a moment to formalize my official Tour de Fleece goals.
  1. Ply my bobbin of singles made from a Butterfly Girl Designs batt. (DONE!) The poor bobbin, I'm ashamed to admit, had been sitting around for quite some time, despite it's loveliness. I plied it yesterday, and it's quite possibly the most beautiful yarn I've ever made!
  2. Finish reading Judith MacKenzie McCuin's The Intentional Spinner. I bought it as soon as it was released, but I wasn't spinning much at the time and so I never read it. Silly me!
  3. Take some fiber in for processing. Remember the 7 lbs of sheep that I recently bought? The plan all along has been to blend it with some angora that I have left over from my rabbitry days. We have a woman in the guild who apparently does phenomenal work, and so I'm going to call her before the end of the tour to see about having the fiber processed. (I have children, and limited time for crafting. Processing fiber - while something I am fully capable of doing - is not something that I really enjoy. (I also have no interest in either dying or weaving....just so you know!) For now at least, it's just better to have someone else do it - or to buy fiber that's ready for spinning.)
  4. Spin two unfamiliar fibers. After I sorted the stash the other day, I realized that the thing that would be the MOST helpful to me would be to let myself loosen up and experiment with new fibers. That's part of why I chose the silk. That and that it's just so pretty! Once the silk is done, than I'll move on to another new-t0-me choice, probably one of the blends.
  5. Familiarize myself with my drop spindle. I'm not honestly sure of whether or not I'll every truly be a proficient spindle spinner. I need to take some serious time to practice and figure out if I really want to pursue this particular branch of my beloved craft or not.

To those of you who are also persuing Tour goals, Good Luck and Happy Spinning!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Silk Won

But it's not going to take long...so I'm still open to suggestions for the next batch!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Le Tour De Fleece At Last!

Remember when I said that I had signed up for Le Tour de Fleece again, but had managed to forget all about it until the day it started? Well, here we are...finally ready to begin. My poor, neglected Lendrum. I love her, and yet I don't spend nearly enough time with her. Note the lack of a bobbin and the empty workbasket on the floor. That is about to change. My goal is to do some spinning every day through the rest of the tour to rebuild my spinning practice. I even rearranged a few things in our bedroom so that I now have a designated spinning space.
Goal number 2 is to renew my acquaintance with my drop spindle. I might even order a second, smaller spindle.
But then there's the question of what to spin....and you should have seen the look on my husband's face when he walked in our bedroom and found all of my prepared fiber stretched out on the bed.
These are my beloved 50/50 tencel merino blends from Bonkers. I absolutely adore this fiber! I'm also familiar enough with it now that I can almost spin it in my sleep.
But then there are the alpacas...and the alpaca silk blends. I'm awfully fond of alpaca, and those blends are calling to me. Most of it comes from Alpacas d'Auxvasse.
Let's not forget this small pile of bamboo from Butterfly Girl Designs. That would be a new challenge.
The llama is not really all that tempting, but I have a lot of it (from a Ravelry trade) and I really need to use it up. Some of the colors are really quite lovely.
These two are merino blends - sea wool on the right and silk on the left. I love the braid, from Creatively Dyed, and it's another that calls to me. I don't know what the heck I was thinking when I bought the red, green and yellow monstrosity. It might have to disappear.
Speaking of silk...I've never worked with 100% silk before, but some lives in my stash! You've a sharp eye if you recognize the silk on the left as being Chasing Rainbows.
Last, but certainly not least, are the merinos. I absolutely love this fiber, and it's one of the few that I've actually used in a knitted project. Soooo pretty.
My cat, Tynan, was unimpressed with my organizational efforts. He would like you to know that he's far more important than any silly old fiber. (He's also a much-beloved creature, who has been with me since the fall of 93. He's been on insulin for about 5 years now, and while he's still doing really well I feel a great need to start gathering records of him for posterity's sake.)
So what do you think? Any opinions on which fiber I should work with? I'm going to leave the ones that I'm most interested in out for the rest of the day to see which calls to me....but I'm also open to suggestions!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Power of No

It's such a little word.

And yet, it's a very important one.

I don't think that I'm all that unusual in feeling as if I were raised with the belief that 'no' is a bad word. We are taught to always say yes with a big smile, no matter whether or not that particular question is good for us.

Say yes - so that people like you.

Say yes - so that you won't miss an opportunity.

Say yes - so that you will appear confident and capable.

Say yes - because it would be selfish to do otherwise.

Today I said no. In fact, I said no twice. No to a possible job opportunity that ultimately wasn't right for either my dreams or my family's goals, and no to a project that's been weighing on me for a while. I let myself speak truly from my heart - and not from my crazy/busy head - and the answer was a very calm, very definite no.

I feel quite liberated, and not a bit guilty. That's a big step for me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Because I Know....

That there are relatives who read this blog and become worried if I don't post for a few days (and we love you for it!!!), I wanted to let you know that I have not, in fact, fallen off of the face of the earth again. We've had family in town all week, and they've kept us very busy in a very happy way. I'll be back again in the next day or so as we come back to reality.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Monday List

I had a bit of a giggle when I looked back at last week's list. Silly me!

The follow up is very simple:

Yes, I did some spinning prep. Tomorrow I will be posting more on that subject, along with my goals towards Le Tour de Fleece. Yes, I organized my books and let my husband return them to their sad, lonely spot in the back of the storage area. Further cleaning, though, gave way to an impromptu reorganization of the girls' area in the basement. It's pretty spiffy! Yes, I did a story/day, and I learned something interesting along the way. Yes, I took steps to further improve my health....and I feel really good about the things that I've done. I think that will deserve a post of it's own later this week as well.

Now, on to this week's exciting list!

The Needs:
  1. First priority on my health....and as I said, there will be more on that later.
  2. Spinning! It's time for the Tour, and I have some exciting things to do!
  3. I need to do some finish work that's been languishing for too long in my basket.
  4. Finish up the swatches for my Princess Shawl and make a decision on the yarn. I'm very, very close to that decision...
The Wants:
  1. Letter writing...I LOVE letters!
  2. Clean up my blog. She needs a bit of cosmetic work....
  3. More work on the basement.
The Wishes:
  1. I just bought a silly, inexpensive little watercolor set, and I'd just love to play with it!
  2. Paint the bedroom.
  3. Do a bit of decorating.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Whoops!

YES!

I signed up again for Le Tour de Fleece!

YES!

I Love this event! It was really, really good for my spinning last year.

YES!

I managed to completely forget about it after I signed up, and so ....

NO!

I haven't set my goal yet.

Whoops.

Tune in tomorrow when your apparently dazed and confused blogger gets her act straightened out, and hopefully comes up with some spinning.

What's Been On My Mind Lately

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spring Has Done Sprung

Back in February - desperate for some warmth, sunshine and green - I started this pair of basic socks, giving them the hopeful name of "Spring Is Coming" as they were a gorgeous blend of green, purple and yellow with hints of other spring colors.

Well, as the title suggests, spring has long since come and gone....but the socks managed to hold on until this week. Silly me.

They're just a basic pair of socks, knit on 2.25 mm KnitPicks Harmony DPN's. The yarn is Merino/Bamboo Sock from Ellen's Half-Pint Farm, in an unnamed colorway. Officially, they were an active project from Feb 19th to June 30th of this year. I cast on 72 stitches for the ribbing to give just a smidge of extra room in the leg, but when that was over I decreased to 68 stitches for the rest of the sock.

I do have just a couple of comments about the yarn. The color was absolutely lovely to work with, although I find it interesting to see how different the two socks actually are. It's a bit difficult to see in the pictures, but one shows definite stripes while the other is more mottled. Both show a subtle spiral around the leg and foot if you look close. It remains to be seen as to how well these will actually wear, but I have some doubts. The yarn did matt a bit around the outside of the ball, and that's a bit of a concern. It was soft, but it had a really odd quality about it - probably because of the bamboo. It felt a bit like old q-tips. I should probably work with some 100% bamboo to familiarize myself with it. In the meantime...we'll see.

And so once again....another pair of basic socks. If you are interested in pretty, patterned socks....well you just aren't going to find them here. I'd suggest checking out my new blog friend Anne's fantastic new pair if you want fancy!

If You Give A Kid A Camera...