Saturday, December 27, 2008

'Pet the Puppy' hooded scarf

The wool/sheltie scarf is done. Dan calls it Harrison, as that's who provides me with the most and best undercoat. The newel post kindly offered to model it so I could take pictures.

I decided to stitch a bit up the side to make it a hooded scarf in the hope that this would be kinder to my hair style than traditional hats and hoods. We'll see. It's hard to achieve a good hair day when it's so cold outside.

I'm really pleased with the way the yarn bloomed. It has a lovely haze from the sheltie undercoat. I have a Rubbermaid bin full of sheltie undercoat and continue to add to it. What a treasure!

Christmas was the usual routine for us. We had my sister Darcie and her family here for supper on Christmas Eve, we went to her place for brunch on the Christmas Day, then to Dan's sister's in the afternoon to visit with his extended family, and finally back to our place for dinner. Dan's mom and Darcie's family (sans her husband Dallas who, unfortunately got sick to his stomach just before they left their place, poor man) joined us for a lovely turkey dinner delivered to our house at 6:00. There is a small diner/caterer here in Regina that works on Christmas Day. I started ordering our dinner from them about three years ago and will continue to do so as long as they're willing to work. It's such a relief to trot around on Christmas Day knowing that I don't have to scramble to produce a big dinner. We had a ton of food left over and, luckily, Dallas was feeling better on Boxing Day so they came for dinner again to help eat some of it. Of course, we were all spoiled with wonderful gifts.

I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

now this is smart

This arrived in today's mail (Canada Post is working weekends during the Christmas season). It's an Acid Dye Quick Reference Tool from Art Club on Etsy. Each of the Jacquard Acid dyes has been applied to wool in a consistent dilution and set. Then the bits of wool are organized by labeling and creating this swatch book. As it's hard to tell exactly how the colors will look after dyeing when you're applying the dyes, this should make predicting the outcome of a dyeing project much more accurate. Of course, each wool takes the dyes differently but this tool should be a very useful guide when combining colors as it is much better than the printed chart that comes with the dyes. Very smart.

Friday, December 19, 2008

a pretty picture for a snowy day

There hasn't been much in the way of blogworthy news around here. The weather is still cold and snowy. It's only been a couple of weeks of winter weather and I'm already tired of it.

I was sorting through some photos the other day and came across one that I had forgotten about.
This was a candid shot taken by a professional photographer at the Besant show in August when Austin was shown as a Special. I didn't know she'd taken it until I was looking over her candids the next day. Austin was in the ring, baited and stacked, when it was taken. I think it's just beautiful!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Can you spell C-O-L-D?

When people think of the Canadian Prairies in the winter they think -40 degree cold. We are in one of those cold snaps now. The current temperature is -29 degrees C (-20.2 F) with a wind chill making it feel like -39 C (-38.2 F). Here is the forecast right from my TV screen about an hour ago.

You know it's cold when....

the house cracks and groans as it dries out and shifts from any humidity in the vicinity becoming freeze-dried.

there are no puddles from melting snow on the boot tray by the back door. The snow is so dry that it doesn't cling to the boots.

when the dogs run out of time to do their business outside because their feet get too cold to stand on them.

when cars let out a sorry whine before totally failing to start.

when, if your car does start, it feels like you're driving on square tires until the friction of movement starts to thaw them a bit.

when you will wait hours for a cab or a tow truck because everyone's cars are cranky in the cold.

when rural schools close because the buses aren't running.

when city schools run anyway because they never close no matter the weather.

when you have to dress your children and yourself like the Michelin Man because exposed skin will freeze in minutes.

when poor elementary school teachers face days of squirrel-y children because recesses are cancelled and the kids can't burn off any energy. Feel especially sorry for teachers this week because the kids are also wound up in anticipation of Christmas and tired after Christmas concerts. I don't miss my classroom on weeks like this.

when sunshine is deceptive. Usually there are tiny rainbows in the air when it's this cold. We call them sundogs. They only occur when it's really, really cold. Cloud actually helps blanket the earth so clear weather is usually colder.

when there are great puffs of ice fog in the air from chimneys. This picture was also snagged from the TV at noon. It's a pic of the Legislative Buildings from the skycam downtown.

when there's small part of you that's happy that the cold weather is killing parasites that could cause your pets grief. One year it seemed that the vets were overbooked with dogs and cats with parasite problems in the spring and summer. My vet friend Jo-Ann explained that the unusually mild winter hadn't killed them off as usual.

when I'm knitting like mad to finish off the sheltie/wool scarf so that it can keep me warm when I'm outside with the dogs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Poking through my fiber stash the other day, I found some Lisa Souza Blue Faced Leicester in the Spanish Moss colorway so I started spinning it on the Rose. It's a pale, pale green with hints of pink in it.

Coincidentally, I've been playing with some other Lisa Souza fiber, merino/silk in the Shave Ice colorway. My hands hurt when I pre-draft silk so I pulled out the hand cards to see if it would make a difference. Did it ever!

What was this:

Became this:
Yummy mounds of fluffy cotton candy...

which I am spinning on one of the Bosworth spindles.

These two fibers weren't bought to co-ordinate but they look great together so I will ply them. Sometimes serendipity just takes over and it's a lovely thing.

I started knitting a scarf with the wool/sheltie yarn. I'm using Yarn Harlot's one row reversible pattern.
Spinning it long-draw was so worth it! It's soft and has a gorgeous halo.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas socks

Socks for Dan's step-mom Jeanette: my plain vanilla pattern with Eye of Partidge heel flap, Socks That Rock mediumweight in colorway OmaDesala.

Socks for Dan's mom: my plain vanilla pattern, Opal Saphir 6-ply in colorway #78 that I bought from Little Knits last summer.

Almost all of my knitting this fall has been for gifts so I (voluntarily) took on a fair bit of deadline knitting. While I like giving gifts, I've decided that I don't like deadline knitting; it takes a lot of fun out of it. From now on I'm going to stick with fun knitting, at least most of the time.

Monday, December 08, 2008

necessity, invention, and all that

First off, here is the latest yarn off of the spinning wheel. It is 50% Rambouillet, 25% merino, and 25% sheltie. Every centimeter of it is long-draw woolen spun. I'm very proud of that. I think I'll make a scarf with it.
I finally finished the Christmas gifts I was working on. I made socks for Dan's mom and step-mom. Neither of them has a computer so I'll post pics when they're dry.

Last night I swatched the Buffalo Gold sock yarn. Then I remembered how much the yarn blooms when washed so I decided to wash it before knitting. The only problem was that I had already wound it into center-pull balls.

So I pulled out the skein winder and tried to figure out how to wind from the balls without having them fly all over the room. Ta da! An empty CD container with the middle spindle removed. I don't think I can take credit for this brainwave - I'm pretty sure I read it somewhere.
Now the problem was to keep it on its side and on the table so that I could skein off the yarn. I knew I needed to weight it down so grabbed a 5 lb. bar bell and laid it on the container.
It worked perfectly!
Buffalo yarn is very linty before it's washed and dried. I always wear a glove on my left hand when I'm skein winding so that I don't get friction burns on my skin. Here's the glove after winding this yarn.
The yarn will be much nicer after it is fulled. Here it is in a nice hot bath. I'll pop it into a lingerie bag and dry it in the dryer.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

going there again

Canadian politics has turned into a gong show. For those of you who aren't familiar with the latest happenings on Parliament Hill, check out Yarn Harlot's blog posts of the last few days to get filled in. As usual she has been able to clearly and concisely explain how things work in our corner of the world.

My take....

Well, neither of the "Steve"s has earned my respect. The Harper one comes across as an arrogant frat boy (remind you of anyone) and the other just seems incompetent (blurry video while he was talking about being clear, and holding up network television because the video wasn't delivered on time, yeah, that inspires confidence). I'm one of the few western Canadians who would have been fine with a non-confidence vote. I'm an educator and have deep distrust bordering on fear of the Conservative government. However, I hope a cooling off period will be useful but I suspect that it will become a propaganda fiasco. The local newspaper, the Leader-Post has a regular humor columnist named Ron Petrie. He suggested in his column today that we should vote for him for PM.

I want to know where I can get the lawn signs.

eta: this explains this post's title

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Buffalo Salon

Purely out of curiosity, I added dyes to a skein of sportweight 90% bison/10% nylon blend to see how the dark natural brown color would take the dyes. I think it's a little like the highlights that I have added to my own hair at the salon.

Here's the result of the highlights treatment. I left the white tie to show where I didn't dye it so you can see its natural color.

These pictures were taken in natural daylight which really brings out the beautiful colors. It's not as pretty in artificial light.

The most amazing thing about this little trial is that I pulled the skein out of the crockpot in the morning, washed and rinsed it, then realized that there was no way it would air dry in time to take to the Buffalo Gold booth at Agribition the same day. So I put the skein into a lingerie bag and popped it into the dryer. I was very nervous about it. It's one thing to throw a knitted garment made from the yarn into a dryer but it's quite a different thing to take a chance on skeined yarn and I was afraid that I might wreck a very expensive luxury fiber so I checked on it a few minutes later. It was just fine so I tossed it back into the dryer until it was dry.

Wow. Not only did it not shrink but it was even more beautiful than before it was washed and dried. It was fluffy, lofty, and incredibly soft! We took turns cuddling it next to our necks at the booth that afternoon. This fiber is incredible!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Buffalo Gold

Every year, Agribition is held in Regina at the end of November. It's a large agricultural fair. This year, Buffalo Gold from Texas is one of the displays in the commercial exhibits. There is buffalo yarn, knit items, and fiber for sale. Buffalo Guy Ron (BuffaloGuy on Ravelry) is very nice and has a great sense of humor. I volunteered to take my Joy wheel and spin some of the buffalo fiber at the set up.

It's pretty amazing stuff. It's so soft and about six times warmer than wool. It wears very well and can go into the washer and dryer.

Here's the fiber:

I've been spinning very fine lace weight to make it last longer.
My sister Darcie is working there for the week and she has more pictures of the buffalo yarns on her blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Rose

Santa came early for me. This was delivered yesterday. It came from Shuttleworks* in Calgary.

It's a new Majacraft Rose spinning wheel!

I love both of my Ashford wheels, the Elizabeth 2 and the Joy. They do a very good job of spinning. However, I was finding that plying was a struggle for me, no doubt mostly due to my fibromyalgia. So I did some online research to find out which wheels are easiest to treadle. One name kept coming up; you guessed it, the Rose. I feel very fortunate to be at a place in my life where I can indulge in the luxury of owning three wheels!

Here she is all set up with the flyer on the right.

Rose is very versatile - her flyer can also go on the left.

She comes with two whorls and two flyers for an amazing range of spinning ratios and options. Here is the delta orifice, no hook required.
The bobbins are very large, light plastic. I like them.

The support arm swings to one side and a handle pops up to carry the wheel. I wouldn't consider this a travel wheel though. It's pretty heavy and I've read that the lovely wood is somewhat soft so I'd be worried about damaging it by carting it around.

All in all, she's absolutely lovely! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some spinning to do....

*I highly recommend Shuttleworks!! Cal is great to work with, the prices are amazing (the Rose was about the same price (Cdn) as the best online price in the US that I found on the net - with the current dreary exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, you can't beat par), and the shipping is inexpensive and very fast (2 days)!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

hail or snow, I don't know

When I took the dogs out this afternoon, tiny balls of ice started raining down on us. They were descending more quickly than snow does yet hail is not likely at this time of year. It was only heavy for a brief shower, then it stopped. I guess the temperature differences between the sky and the earth were conducive for rain to turn into ice but I really don't know what causes this.
Here's a close-up of the ice balls on the steps of the hot tub.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm number 2,838!

I got an email from today telling me that they have reviewed my blog and rated it 7.6 out of 10 in their Personal Blogs category. According to the email, this is quite an achievement. They use the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

I didn't know much about the site so I went to have a look. I finally found my blog here. Number 2,838 out of 17, 655. I guess that's good. However, if I'd known I'd was being rated, I would have tried harder. After all, 76% is a B. Maybe I've been in school too many years or something but I really, really wanted an A. And I'm not even terribly competitive by nature. I guess I learned something about myself today.

Anyway, I added the badge in the sidebar. I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Even if it is only a B.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

catching up

Dan's grandmother passed away last week so it's been busy for a few days. I also did something to my back and neck so needed physio and was pretty sore. I could only sit at the computer for a few minutes at a time. Now that it's feeling a bit better I'm trying to catch up on emails and blogs.

The little Tulip cardigan has been washed, blocked, and dried and is ready to pack up to send to Jayda for her first birthday. Here it is in the natural daylight of the sunroom so that you can see it's true colors.
After physio on Tuesday afternoon I couldn't resist snapping this picture on my cellphone. It was about as pretty a November day as you'll ever find on the prairies. The sky was blue, the air was cool, there was no wind, and the sun was shining.
I love the way the slanting fall sun defines the earthy colors.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

yarns are listed

Just letting you know that the yarns are listed in Darcie's Etsy shop now if you are interested. This one is a merino/silk blend that I forgot to take a picture of before I sent it to her place. The others were pictured on the blog earlier.

Monday, November 03, 2008

almost ready to send

I finished knitting the Tulip Cardigan for baby Jayda last night. Jayda is our god-daughter Kaitlin's little one. Here it is washed and blocked for drying. I made the size 2 and it looks pretty big to me but I don't have any wee folks around to compare it to other size 2's. Jayda is just turning a year old so it will likely have to wait a bit before she can wear it but I'll send it to her when it's dry anyway.

I dyed Knit Picks Superwash Merino for it instead of buying the Dream In Color yarn that the pattern called for. I'm very happy with the result! Jayda has dark hair and big brown eyes and I think these bright colors will suit her. The yarn label says that it can be machine washed and dried on low but I think the yarn will hold up much better if it's machine washed in cool water and laid flat to dry. I washed it by hand with hot water a few times to make sure that the dyes were exhausted but that dark teal color might still bleed a bit if it gets washed in the machine with hot water. It will be fine in cool water.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

laughing out loud

I found this link on Ravelry. It has nothing to do with knitting or spinning but it had me laughing out loud.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

my straight needles aren't being used

I don't use my straight needles any more because of fibromyalgia hand pain so they need a new home. If you'd like more information about them, email me at szivec AT accesscomm DOT ca (using the @ and . where appropriate).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

more yarn

I mucked around with the crockpot some more and came up with these skeins to donate to Darcie's Etsy shop. She'll list them once she gets them and has a chance to work out the logistics so keep an eye on her shop the next few days if you're interested. I know that she's planning on doing her own dyeing eventually as well.

I liked the first confetti one so much that I tried a couple more, one with more color and one with a bit less. These are soft superwash merino/nylon.

The next two have Cherry Tree Hill Supersock as the base yarn so they have a nice, tight twist for socks. The first one reminds me of rose bushes and would be nice for Christmas too. The other is autumn colors of pumpkin, gold, and brown.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a stranger in our midst

Austin started 'alert' barking the other evening. It seems he noticed the woman's picture on this box that I set on the crate after getting groceries. Apparently she is a very scary woman and all who live here should be aware that she is a threat. It's nice to know that I have a watchdog to protect me from 2-dimensional demons.

The box housed a goLite and was an impulse purchase. Costco had a sale. The light is supposed to help stimulate your energy when the number of daylight hours dwindles. I've suspected for years that I have a mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder so I thought it would be worth a try. I'll have to let you know how it's working after giving it a few days.

I have received several blog comments about dyeing yarn, some asking for more information and some offering advice. Thank you for the interest and I'll post a more detailed description of what techniques and supplies I use when I have more time. Until then you can see some pics of my set-up here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

crockpot dyeing

I've been watching the local "used" sites for crockpots for some time now. I found one a couple of weeks ago that I got for a great price. In fact, it's better than the one I've been using so it's now in my kitchen and the other has become the dyeing pot. Both are the big 6 quart variety which is a nice size for dyeing (and for making big batch soups and stews, but not in the same pot as the dyes).

These are the first two skeins that I made in the crockpot. At the risk of immodesty, I think the picture doesn't do them justice. I steamed them in plastic wrap bundles on top of a rack set over water. I like dyeing using the crockpot. I soak the yarn for a while, add the dye to the wet skeins, put them in the pot for 2 or 3 hours on low, unplug the pot, and let it cool off overnight. The next day, I just have to rinse the yarn, spin out the excess water, and hang it to dry. I can only do a couple of skeins at a time but it feels much less labor intensive this way for some reason. I'm currently waiting for a couple more skeins to dry; I immersion dyed them and I like them a lot too.

I need more sock yarn like I need a hole in the head so the plan was to donate them to my sister Darcie's Etsy site, Muddy Paws Knit Knacks, to add to her row counters. However, I have fallen in love with the confetti colored yarn. I am totally smitten. I need to have it. So the other skein (I think it looks like vibrant Bird of Paradise flowers) will be donated along with some more that I am in the process of dyeing. If you are interested, check her shop as I will be giving her more hand-dyed yarn as I produce it. It's a good plan. I like to play with the dyes when I have the energy and I can't possibly knit all the yarn that I dye. She can handle the advertising and selling parts which I found physically difficult due to the TMJ pain that is a problem when I'm on the computer too much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I thought I would share my spindle collection with you today. I've been gradually adding to it and have a nice selection now. (Spindle identification pic at end of post.)

The paw and nose in the top picture belong to Robbie-the-nosy-sheltie. He wasn't eating the dark brown Maggie spindle, just sniffing it.

I remembered that I had a pottery jug with a broken lip downstairs. I crazy glued the jug and it now is a lovely prop to show off the the spindles.

Spindles identified with as much info as I can remember as I didn't save all the tags:
1. Kundert Taos, 1.4 oz.
2. Golding 3" ring spindle, Celtic ring, 1.9 oz.
3. Maggie top whorl with low profile hook, about 1.25 oz., walnut?
4. Spindlewood square mini, 7/8 oz., olive wood, with hook and point protectors (included)
5. Bosworth featherweight, .53 oz., Bird's Eye Maple
6. Tabachek mini, Russian Olive
7. Bosworth midi, .81 oz., Canarywood
8. Golding 2 3/4" ring spindle, Celtic knot, 1.3 oz.
9. Bosworth mini, .7 oz., Zebrawood
10. Bosworth midi, Paduak, .91 oz.

Turkish spindles in front:
Jenkins Osage Orange, 1.8 oz.
Turkish Delight bamboo

Middle picture (front right):
Royale Hare brass support spindle

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tulip cardi in progress

Here is the progress pic of the Tulip cardigan that I'm knitting for my god-daughter Kaitlin's baby daughter Jayda. I was struggling with hand pain at first which has been an issue for me whenever I knit anything heavier than socks. Since switching to the Bryspun circ, however, I haven't had a problem. I think it's because I held the right needle with my hand over the top of it when I worked on larger projects and that position caused carpal tunnel pain because of my wrist flexing down. My comfortable knitting position is with my hand holding the needle like a pencil which wasn't easy for me when I was holding the heavier needles. I'm finding the Bryspun needles are so light and have such a good point that I can knit in my usual style and my hand is fine. It will be interesting to see if I can avoid hand pain when working on an adult-sized sweater.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

chiengora pics

Someone posted this link on Ravelry. The pictures of people wearing garments made from their dogs' fur are wonderful!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

puppies galore!

Bentley's momma Ten (CH. Torihill's Savvidax Prrfect ML) had a litter of three male puppies 3 weeks ago. My sister Darcie and I took a little day trip out to the lake to visit Daphne (Bowering) and the new mini longhaired Dachshund babies. They are very sweet and cuddly!
Ten let us snuggle her babies but she kept a very watchful eye on us. She's a good mom.

A colleague of mine, Jean Juno, is a Golden Retriever breeder (YBF Goldens). She lives out the same way so we stopped for a visit there too. This is what greeted us when we stepped into the dog room...
a litter of eleven 8-week old puppies! They are lively and way too adorable!

Jean asked for my opinion about their structure so I went over each puppy on the table. They are an incredible litter! I think that most of them are capable of attaining conformation championships in the show ring which is pretty amazing consistency for that large a litter. They are also great prospects for performance events. I think that Jean still has a couple of show quality puppies waiting for homes. If you are interested click on the link above to see Jean's homepage and contact info.
Darcie got some better puppy shots than I did. You can go to her blog to see more pics.

Jean has a lively country home. In addition to the dogs and two young kids, we found bunnies

and a pet Canada Goose named Eggwin (crappy picture, sorry).
Jean's husband Steve found him near where he works. Eggwin has a bad wing and his momma had abandoned him so Steve took him home. Now he's one of their large, happy menagerie on the acreage in the valley.

All in all, it was a very nice way to spend the day! My dogs were most interested in me when I got home. I smelled good!