Tuesday, April 29, 2008

not very exciting

Life hasn't been very exciting around here lately. I've been starting to get ready to take Bentley to Saskatoon for a dog show this weekend. My sister Darcie and niece Katie and I are all going. It will be fun but, no doubt, tiring. We got the news today that Bentley's sister Chloe placed #2 Mini Long Haired Dachshund in Canada! She will be at the Saskatoon shows too so B will be competing against his famous sister. He's getting the star spa treatment from Austin in this picture so maybe that will be good karma for him in the show ring.

I'm swatching to see what border I want to use to finish the machine knit cardi but I haven't decided on one yet. I have been spinning. I'm working on the third bobbin of the BFL spun as fine as I can make it. I'm hoping that I'll get a nice fingering weight sock yarn when they're plied. I love, love, love spinning Blue Face Leicester! My definite favorite fiber so far.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wow. Just. Wow.

I received two boxes in today's mail. All I can say is Wow.

Box number 1: two lovely big coils of Corriedale x Merino pin-drafted roving. So beautiful! This fiber won't even need to be pre-drafted before spinning. It's just lovely! It came from Shari McKelvy, Morro Fleece Works. I learned about Morro on Ravelry and would like to thank all of the people who were singing Shari's praises that led to me being enabled to buy this fiber. I'm so glad that I found her and I will be a return customer. She tucked in a little sample of Anna the alpaca's lustrous fiber and a little sachet of lavendar.

In box number 2: superwash merino and superwash BFL from Sheila at Wool2Dye4. So soft and clean! There's also a little sample of baby alpaca/superfine merino in there. I don't think I even know an adjective that would describe it's softness!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

thoughts on children in public

Geoffrey - 1 week

I believe that today's post title is a bit redundant. One of the definitions of the word public, according to my online dictionary, is "open to all persons". Children are "persons", therefore "public" automatically includes children.

2 years

My mother adored babies and toddlers. She took the greatest pleasure in just watching them sleep or breathe. Interacting with them filled her with delight. We often said that she hardly heard a word of the homily in church if there was a baby nearby. I guess it's not surprising that I grew up loving little children too. I took Early Childhood Education in university, worked in day care while I was a student, and was a primary teacher for most of my career.

6 years

When I got married I desperately wanted to become a mother. Things didn't happen naturally though and there were many years of hopeless longing for motherhood until we adopted our son. He was five days old when we first saw him and took him home. I have to say that the moment that he was placed in my arms was probably the most emotional time in my life. Adoption is a little different emotionally from giving birth yourself and I'm not talking about escaping the baby blues. The joy of having the new baby is tempered with the sadness of knowing that your joy comes at the expense of someone else's heartache. We did not know Geoff's birth parents until last year but I often thought about them and wished that I could thank them personally. It was wonderful to finally have the opportunity to do so when we met!

14 years

As an adult, with all of his parents!

We watched the movie "Juno" on Saturday night. It's a touching and funny movie and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven't already done so. It was particularly poignant because of our adoption experience. I guess that's why Stephanie Pearl McPhee's blog post today seems so important to me. If you haven't read it yet here's a link to Yarn Harlot. Go ahead and read it. I'll wait.

Here's the comment that I left on her blog:

I think that most of the people who fuss about noisy children never had one of their own. I did. Said child is now 21 but I remember the colic, allergies, tantrums, meltdowns, etc. very well. When I hear a child losing it in public I try to say to the parent, "Been there. Done that. I understand." As for happy baby noise, pure music to my ears.

I also have been a primary teacher for almost 30 years and tried my best to make sure that my class was prepared for public outings by letting them know what the agenda would be and making my expectations of their behavior known ahead of time. 99% of the time I was proud of their behavior. Still, there were people who should have known better and still complained. I remember taking my class to swimming lessons at the Y and having the receptionist freak out at the kids every time they entered the building. The kids were not misbehaving; they were just talking. When the receptionist complained to me that the noise would disturb the adults who were there to work out or whatever, I countered by telling her that they are kids and kids talk. Once we left the building, I usually had to reassure the kids who she yelled at by letting them know that they were not in the wrong and the woman didn't understand kids. Some of those kids got really upset and it burned me that one adult had that much power to hurt their feelings over actions that are completely acceptable coming from adults.

All that said, however, I have witnessed a perfectly well-behaved student turn into an obnoxious brat as soon as a parent was in sight. Some parents really don't get that they are tolerating outrageous behavior from their children and, in fact, are encouraging it by thinking it's cute and precocious. These parents are in the minority, thankfully, but I see more of it recently than I did at the start of my teaching career (the whys and wherefores of this statement are also a discussion for another time.)

I was touched that Krista took the time to search me out and leave this comment on my blog about it.

Hi Susan, I read your post on the Yarn Harlot's blog and wanted to let you know I really appreciate your thoughts on the issue. When I attended Rhinebeck last year I took my 2 month old along. He was great, but one morning at breakfast got superfly upset. Why? Who knows? He just was. I was so embarrassed because I was worried he was disturbing everyone's breakfasts, but what could be done? It was the hotel restaurant, so short of room service there was no alternative. A lady came up to me and said, "I remember those days. Don't worry. He isn't as loud as you think he is." How reassuring! I wish everyone had such a kind attitude!

Thanks, Krista! Enjoy your little guy. It's true that they grow up really fast although not that it seems so when they're imitating "demon spawn", as Harlot says.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

wonky weather and the cardi

More wonky weather days on the prairies. Yesterday was cold and windy. It felt like winter again and, as you can see in the picture, even snowed a bit. It's still cold today but it is calm so it feels better. Even so, we're getting tired of it and are ready for warmth.

I finished seaming the machine knitted cardi. Now I have to decide what I want for edging. I had planned to do ribbing on the machine just so that the whole first project was manufactured by the knitting machine but soon gave up that idea. Without a ribber, all of the ribbing has to be converted manually and I can do it better and more easily by hand. I'm thinking about making a cabled edging and am browsing my books for ideas. The Nicky Epstein's Edge books have lots of great ideas. Also, I found Janet Szabo's I Hate To Finish Sweaters book indispensable for finishing techniques. Mattress stitching the seams was so cool. I did about an inch worth of stitching loosely then pulled on the yarn to snug up the edges and was just fascinated by the results (I know, easily amused). It was like zipping up the stitches and making them invisible.

Monday, April 21, 2008

new spinning fiber

I just had to share my latest hand-dyed superwash merino fiber! I added it to the Etsy shop.

we were lucky

A lot of places in Alberta and Saskatchewan were pounded with a severe Spring storm. Luckily we missed the worst of it. It rained yesterday afternoon. There was a bit of freezing rain last night that turned into a skiff of snow. This picture of the canopy over the hot tub was taken today.
We're hardy folks here on the prairies. Our trees are hardy too. You can see the buds on the willow tree, still looking green in spite of the icicle hanging from the branch.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Rite of Spring

A rite of Spring for me is the first sight of the rhubarb stalks poking out their rosy shoots in the garden. Spring has been very slow but steady around here this year. The snow melted gradually and the temperatures hovered below or just around seasonal for the most part. Then last Monday the temps soared to 28C (low 80s F)! The heat didn't last but we had a pleasant week. Finally, the rhubarb made its appearance. I checked my blog and discovered a similar pic from April 7, 2006. So Spring is a little delayed this year.
There is a massive snowy blizzard hitting parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan this weekend. So far we haven't seen snow but that could still change. We're guaranteed lots of rain anyway and it's needed. One thing is sure, the weather is never boring here in Sask.! They say if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes.

While I was outside with my camera, I took these puppy pics.
I was on the deck looking down when I snapped this pic of Bentley so that's why it looks like his tail is growing out of his head.

Harrison and Poke are happy to be enjoying the nice weather while it lasts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

getting organized

We have a spare bedroom. I've been using the knitting machine there since I got it. It's not a large room but the southern window provides lots of light. It was home to a queen size bed for guests. We don't get a lot of guests so I decided that the room would make a great crafts room.

I finally persuaded the guys to haul the bed downstairs into storage (sorry, future guests) and I moved my bins of yarn and fiber up. There was an old bridge table in storage downstairs so it came up too. Along with a small bookshelf for the knitting, spinning, dyeing books and patterns, I now have a crafts room.

The exercise ball is there to be stored but maybe I will use it when I'm working at the table.

My foldable blocking board fits on the card table just fine. Both my iron (boo, hisss - I hate ironing!) and my steamer are in this room, handy for blocking pieces of machine knitting garments.

I even got organized to the point of labelling the non-transparent bins with pictures of their contents. As Craig Ferguson would say, "I know!" Sometimes I scare myself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

new Etsy shop

My sister Darcie opened up her new Etsy shop, Muddy Paws Knit Knacks. She is making unique and versatile stitch markers.

Here are a few of the stitch markers that she has listed.

Each stitch marker has its own little Muddy Paws storage pouch!
Go on over and have a look at these markers!

Monday, April 14, 2008

and even a few more....

Here are a few more pics of the Joy and WW. The WW flyer fits into the little hole to tuck neatly into the cutout space in the wheel for folding.

From the front...

and the side....

A comparison of the two flyers...

The only appreciable difference is that the WW flyer is more angular than the Joy flyer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

a few more Joy pics...

Nancy left a comment on the previous post asking for more pictures of the pocket in the Joy bag packed with the Woolee Winder flyer and of a size comparison of the Joy bobbins and the Woolee Winder bobbins so here goes.

This is a top-down view with the Joy folded and packed in the bag. The WW flyer fits nicely in the inside pocket. It is padded on the outside for protection when carting it around, as is the main compartment containing the wheel. The WW flyer doesn't take up much more room than the Joy flyer.

Here you can see that the bag zips up nicely when packed. There are two outside pockets on the front for carrying tools or fiber. The outside pockets are not padded.

The following pics show the two bobbins side by side. The WW bobbins have the black stem and plastic cogs. I haven't filled a WW bobbin yet but I'm sure that I'll get quite a lot more yarn on it than on the Joy bobbin. I think that I read somewhere that it holds about 1/3 more yarn.

Ashford Joy, travel bag, and Woolee Winder

This post will likely only be interesting to Joy wheel owners so feel free to stop reading now if that's not you.

There were some questions on the Ravelry Ashford Spinners group about whether the Joy fits into its bag with the Woolee Winder on it. The answer is that it fits as well with the Woolee Winder as it does with its own flyer. I took some pictures to show you.

Here's the Joy with the Woolee Winder attached. As you can see the bag won't close.

However, here's the Joy with its own flyer attached. It doesn't fit either.

So the answer is, you have to remove the flyer to zip up the bag. Period.

Next, I tried to fit the Woolee Winder bobbin on the wheel when closed. It works fine.

Here's the bobbin from the rear. Fits as well as the Ashford bobbin.

So the moral of the story is that there is no difference whatsoever packing up the Joy for the travel bag with the Woolee Winder.

By the way, all of the pics were taken in my sunroom. We finally have Spring! It's as warm outside as in! Yay!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

the results

Here are the results of Monday's dyeing session. Both fibers are superwash merino and I'm very pleased with how they turned out.

I haven't decided whether I'm going to list them in my Etsy shop or keep them for myself.

I also dyed this sock yarn that I will put in the shop. It's superwash merino as well. The base yarn is Wool2Dye4 Supersock and it has a nice tight twist with a sheen. Lovely stuff.

If you're interested, I've reduced the prices of some sock yarns that I'm destashing as well as a pair of clear clogs that are a wee bit too small for me. They were only worn once in the house so are like new. Details can be found on this Flickr page and also in my Ravelry Stash.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Crosshatch Lace

Although most of my time has been spent spinning lately (I've almost filled the bobbin with the pretty blue BFL on my Elizabeth), I have been finding some time to work on the Crosshatch Lace socks. I'm using my own hand-dyed merino/silk yarn and I think the color and pattern are well-suited to each other. This is a great pattern -- easy and pretty! I just finished the gussets. I'm using my Comfy Soled Socks method.

I have some yarn and fiber marinating in hot water downstairs and I will dye them this evening. I've never dyed fiber before so it will be a learning experience. The top is superwash merino so it should be hearty enough for a beginner and resist felting in the dyeing process. I'll post pics when they're done.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

all I wanna do is....


I'm having such fun spinning with my new wheel and Woolee Winder I don't want to do anything else. And to make it an even more worthwhile way to spend my time, someone on a Ravelry group suggested using an exercise ball to sit on while spinning. It is a little difficult to do when I spin on my double-treadle Joy but it's easy on the single-treadle Elizabeth with my other foot planted firmly on the floor. Just think, spinning is now a workout for core muscles!

Last night after everyone else had gone to bed* there was a k.d. lang concert on one of the TV stations. I spun and was carried away by her beautiful music. Bliss.

k.d. lang is promoting her new Watershed c.d. While it is lovely, my favorite album of hers will always be Hymns of the 49th Parallel. You just can't beat Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah sung to perfection by k.d.

*notice Austin curled up in my knitting chair - even the dogs were sleepy