Monday, August 31, 2009

The Monday List

Today's Monday List is brought to you by one finished pair of Tiger Socks!

Yarn: Opal Rainforest, Tiger (Thanks Shelda!)
Needles: 2.25 mm bamboo DPN's, probably Crystal Palace
Pattern: Ann Budd's basic sock pattern from the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.
Knitting: August 11 - 31, 2009
Details: Altered the length a bit. It's now an 80 stitch sock, with 80 rows in the leg and 60 in the foot. The husband reports that he's very happy.

Here's a little assist from the Pixie to show the socks to scale. Problem is, it backfired and she wouldn't take them off for a long while.

And now, for the list...

Last week was a much better week than we expected it to be. Remember when I said that my first priority was to survive the first week of school? I wasn't kidding. Last year our first week of school was rather difficult, and by the time it ended we were all completely exhausted. (Despite our stellar experiences last year with a teacher who is arguably the best kindergarten teacher on the planet, I remain convinced that full-day kindergarten is criminal.) Fortunately, this year has been much easier! It was a long, and sometimes difficult week, but all in all it was a much easier transition.

As for the rest of the list, I managed to catch up this blog with my current projects and I finished the aforementioned socks. The rest...well, I'd rather have a calm, happy first week of school!

So let's start fresh this week!

Needs:
  1. Socks for the girls...and I can't say that enough! They are both clamoring for new socks!
  2. Spin a bit each day. It's fun, and it's good for the soul.
  3. 10 min. per day on my cardi.
  4. 10 min. per day on a WIP shawl.
  5. Begin my retrospective on my creative life.
  6. Finish decluttering our bedroom/closet. Seriously.
Wants:
  1. Recommence Morning Pages.
  2. Finish another project.
  3. Work on repair basket.
  4. Plan Christmas gifts. You laugh, but I worked retail for years and I LOVE finishing by Halloween.
Wishes:
  1. Some lace....I keep thinking about it, but nothing has been happening.
  2. Write a letter. It sounds fun...I just don't know who I'd write one too.
  3. Organize our photos, which are a nightmare of epic proportions.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Snickers....A Tale Of Dissapointment

I woke up this morning to find that the post that I had so meticulously crafted last night had disappeared into the ether. All that was left was this photo. Grrr.... Yes, I was pretty tired when I finished it up, and so who knows what happened?

So let's begin again.

What you see pictured above is my most recently completed bobbin of singles. I'm calling it Snickers because the colors remind me exactly of milk chocolate and nougat, and the name popped into my head shortly after I began spinning. During a subsequent conversation with my husband, we decided that Three Musketeers might be a more accurate name, but that it just wasn't as much fun as Snickers. Interestingly enough, the first yarn I spun from this farm reminded me of carmel and cream....

But I digress.

The fiber is suri alpaca from Alpacas D'Auxvasse, called Pleasure x3, and was prepared as a roving made up of three thin stripes of different color from the same alpaca. I purchased it several years ago at my guild's annual holiday sale and exhibition, along with several other lovely rovings from the same farm. They had come very highly recommended by several guild friends, and indeed my initial impression of the roving was lovely. In truth, I wound up buying quite a bit from both the 2006 and 2007 sales, and I ordered more fiber directly from their website. (I stayed away last year, knowing my stash was FULL!)

My first spinning experience with Alpacas D'Auxvasse was every bit as heavenly as I had hoped it would be. However, my second experience was anything but. Consequently, I have to admit that it was with a bit of trepidation that I approached my next batch of roving....but I was also excited as this time I would be working with 100% suri!

I was a bit nervous that perhaps the fiber had become a bit matted because it did appear to be a bit compacted despite my careful storage of it. So I unwound the entire roving into a basket, and was relieved to find that at least that one worry didn't pan out.

It soon became apparent, though, that Pleasure x3 was anything but a pleasure to spin. The fiber was riddled with second cuts, matts and varying fiber lengths. The woolen preparation had done the fiber no favors and exacerbated every little problem. My hopes were completely dashed, and I admit to having to fight the fiber through almost the entire batch to get a smooth, even single. (Please know that on a personal level I really hate having to give this fiber such a bad review. The folk at the farm are super-nice people who have a great reputation around here, and I've never heard another bad word about them.)

The good news is that the color is absolutely lovely. In some sections I divided the stripes for long runs of a single color, and in others I just let the colors barberpoll around each other for a subtle, heathery look. I have no doubt that the finished yarn will LOOK pretty....I just have no idea of what it's going to FEEL like.

The bad news is that I have two more batches of suri from Alpacas d'Auxvasse, and now I'm very skittish about using them. I absolutely will because I've invested too much money in this fiber to set it aside now, and because on the surface both of them appear to be nice. It's my sincere hope that both of them will turn out to be absolutely lovely.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Fall Tradition

I looked out my kitchen window today and saw this in the neighbor's yard. Which explains my current fascination with sock knitting.

You see, when I first set up my Ravelry account I noticed something interesting. As I entered in all of my past projects, I noticed a definite trend with my socks. Generally speaking, I break out the DPNs sometime in August and carry on through the fall. I think that I am, perhaps, in a nesting phase at that time of year, preparing my family for the cold days to come.

Yesterday I showed you the socks that I have in progress. Before my personal sock knitting season ends (usually by the end of October) I will most likely finish quite a few pair. Here are some of my options -
Next up in my sock queue are socks for the girls. These are quick and easy, and really don't take but a few days per pair. As socks are actually the ONLY handknits that I'll pass down from Princess to Pixie, I generally make two pair for the Princess but only one for the Pixie. Both love having handknit socks, though, so if I have time - and the interest - I'll try to make more. After all, the leftover basket of sock yarn works PERFECTLY for children's socks.

This pile of black and gold is destined to be MU socks for my Dad and my husband. It's been plaguing me for years, and I'm not really looking forward to using it. All the more reason to hurry up and use it up.
My husband's old socks are actually on the critical list, so I'm going to shoot for three new pair for him this year. I'm also going to try to convince him to let me teach him how to make socks. After all, I taught a highly successful sock class at my LYS!
Then there's the sock yarn for myself. This is by no means the full stash - only the ones that have been calling to me. Surprisingly enough, I have patterns picked out for all four skeins across the bottom and possibly one or two of the others. As a tried and true 'plain vanilla' sock knitter, we shall see if I actually get around to using those patterns. (The rest of the family is definitely getting plain socks!) Change is good, though, and it would be nice to step outside of my comfort zone for a time.
And that's it!
Now I have to go work on my husband's Tiger Socks...

Workbasket Roundup

As promised, here's a comprehensive look at all of the things currently in my workbasket. It's that time of year...my fall sock knitting binge has begun. (and I'll write more about that later this week) These are for my husband.
And these are for me! Both are tantalizingly close to the finish line.
Just for fun, I thought you would like to see the difference in size for our socks. Yes, it's definitely an act of love!
I also have a cuff prepped for my next pair of patterned socks.
You may remember my summer cardi. It's on hold right now as I work to adjust my size down. As for lace, I have two projects on the needles right now, and sadly I'm not really working on either one.
The problem? They are both mind-numbingly boring at this point. I like my lace to be at least a little bit of a challenge!
I do have a basket full of repair work.
It does include just a wee bit of knitting finish work as well.
I also have a decision to make about the third and final baby gift.
There are singles on the bobbin which need to be liberated.
Some lovely silk to finish spinning.
There's also some blue merino on my spindle...a long-term project indeed!
In my sewing table is a pile of long-neglected pieces destined to be more project bags.
AND, I have the pieces for my quilt ready to go.
With fall in sight, it might be time to start sewing them.
And that's a quick look at what's going on in my crafting world right now. More details will be forthcoming - along with some decisions and a few new projects.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Firsts

First Grade started yesterday! You can see how excited the Princess was. In fact, we joked all morning that she was a special kind of crazy.
We had a beautiful first day, and a beautiful first grader.
Here the girls are, waiting for the school bus.
Here she is...ready to go! I'm very happy to report that her first day was a huge success, and that she enjoyed every minute of it.
Today, the Princess went to preschool for the first time!
We had her open house on Sunday, and since then she's been asking when she could go back to school and stay by herself for a while.
A little support from big sis!
When we got to the school, she was so eager to get inside that I could barely get her to stop for a couple of quick pictures.

And then she disappeared into the classroom without a hug and kiss and a glance back. Her first day was also a huge success. In fact, my kids are the sort that cry when Mom comes to pick them up because they are having so much fun! And this is one mom who is very, very happy about that.

PS. The girls were allowed to pick out their first day outfits, and once again it was their choice to dress just alike. We're glad they at least started on separate days!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Monday List

I know....you just saw this one. I just happen to like it a LOT, as it's one of the few photos I've managed with this camera that turned out EXACTLY as I had hoped it would.


Without Further Ado, The Green Woman and I present the Monday List:

NEEDS:
  1. To get through the first week of school without any trouble, successfully navigating our family's new schedule.
  2. Workbasket roundup and current project reviews for the blog.
  3. To finish a pair of socks so that I can start the girls' fall socks.
  4. Start working on a design project that's near and dear to my heart. Our conversation with our friends on Saturday brought it up, and the ideas are swirling again.
  5. Continue to spin a bit every day.


WANTS:
  1. To finish a second pair of socks.
  2. Beaded lace....
  3. Clean out my closet.
  4. Liberate some singles from the bobbin.


WISHES:

  1. To renew my early morning quite time rituals. To be honest, I don't know if this is going to happen. I miss it, and I probably need to get back to it because it does oddly help out my sleep schedule. However, I've also grown accustomed to morning snuggle time, and I'm not sure if I want to give that up.
  2. More personal-training! Totally out of the budget right now, but a girl can dream...and try to figure out how to afford it!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Green Woman Exerts Her Will

It has been brought to my attention - ahem - that a certain elemental being in this household isn't entirely pleased that the blog named after her has had little to nothing to do with creativity lately. Much as she loves the children, appreciates our work in the gym, has enjoyed the weather and understands the back-to-school craziness, she would like to bring the attention back to where it's supposed to be for a while.

And I agree whole-heartedly with her.

To that end, I've come up with a plan.
  1. The Monday List will be returning asap!
  2. This week I will take some time to focus on a few projects that I've been working on lately. I'll also go through my workbasket again and bring everyone up to speed with what's going on in my creative life.
  3. Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to present a series of posts that look at my creative roots. I've been digging through old pictures and making notes about what has influenced my handwork over the years, and I think this will be a lot of fun!
  4. Along with that, I'm going to be looking to the future towards my artistic goals.
  5. I'm also going to focus for a bit on cleaning up and updating many of the elements on my blog - something that I've needed to do for a long while.
  6. There may perhaps be a new weekly feature or two to add....I'm just not quite sure yet...
  7. There absolutely will still be family posts (can't miss the first day photos, after all!), but I may try to condense them and perhaps have just one or two days/week devoted to family activities.

Thanks to all of you for hanging in there with me this summer!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spontaneous Fun!

The weather was so beautiful on Friday, and was so promising for today that my husband and I decided to take the girls to the St. Louis Zoo for a spontaneous day of fun. We rolled the girls out of bed at 6AM, and were on the road 15 minutes later.
My husband surprised the girls with donuts, and me with my favorite mocha.
We left so early because we wanted to arrive in time to enjoy the children's zoo for free.
As we spent a blissful hour there, it was a great idea.
My eldest hadn't been to a zoo since she was three.
The little one, sadly, had never been.
Needless to say, they were both delighted. I had forgotten how much fun it is to watch a little one discover the zoo for the first time, while my eldest gleefully read for herself for the first time all of the little placards about the animals.
Princess really enjoyed the statues.
We all enjoyed the butterfly dome because it was so much less crowded than the one we visited last year.
Pretty neat!
I don't remember liking fish when I was little, but the girls were fascinated.
And do you know what this is?

That's right! Hippo Buts!
My favorite animals have always been the elephants.
They are, quite simply, magnificent.
I'm also terribly fond of the beautiful buildings on Historic Hill. This picture is from inside of the herpetarium.
Every single detail in that building delights.
Honestly, I don't really enjoy what's in the herpetarium....but I have so much fun looking at the building that it doesn't matter!
Seriously, when a building houses a palm tree like this, that's special!
On our way to lunch, we visited this beauty.
Show-off.
After lunch, some friends joined us and we all went to visit the giraffes.

The two on the left belong to our kids. All four of them got along so very well that you would think they played together on a regular basis!

Our friends have a zoo membership, and they treated us to rides on the train and tickets to see and touch the stingrays that are on special exhibit this summer. The last proved to be the Pixie's absolute favorite of the day, despite the fact that she was more than a bit intimidated by some of the rays.

Our friends invited us to dinner at their home, where we were enjoyed by two other families from our college circle. We spent the entire evening sitting out on their deck, enjoying each other's company while the kids played happily inside.

It was a perfect day!