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