Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus -Quinhagak, Alaska

The teacher in me loves this. The human in me loves it too.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

winter solstice lunar eclipse

I have told you before that I am an incurably nocturnal being. That meant that I did not have to set my alarm to see the lunar eclipse early this morning. I saw it before I went to bed!

This picture was taken at about 3:30 a.m. as the eclipse was waning. So beautiful! It was cold outside and taking a picture was tricky because I didn't want to take off my gloves but I managed to get a good pic out of a lot of duds.

Most information out and about says that the last lunar eclipse that occurred at the same time as the winter solstice was in 1554. Apparently that's not entirely accurate. At any rate, it's a very rare event and we certainly won't see another one in our lifetime.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

fly by posting

Just a couple of pics to share with you today.

Anthera posing over a plate to show the design. I used my handspun Cormo/Sheltie/Targhee/Angelina yarn.

A couple of Gotland nests of combed top. I used my Valkyrie mini combs with one clamped to the table, Dutch comb style. They work better than the Majacraft combs for this longer stapled fiber.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

who needs diamonds?

When I took the dogs out late last night, the ice storm had ended and there were strong winds blowing a skiff of snow over the ice crystals. The back yard glittered in the yard lamps. It was so pretty that I ran back into the house and grabbed the camera.

You really need to click and embiggen these pics to properly see how lovely these little crystals are.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

blogging malaise

I have no excuse for my break from blogging. I don't know why but I've had blogger's block. It's not that I haven't been doing anything - I've actually had a lot of fun the last few weeks.

I've been taking Cooper to dog classes and we've been having fun getting a taste of obedience, agility, and flyball. Cooper's favorite is agility so I've signed us up for an agility class starting in January. This dog has a lot of potential with appropriate training. I figure fate sent him to me to get me off my duff. He needs to be kept busy. The challenge will be finding the balance between his needs and my aching body some days.

I've also been taking an intermediate spinning class and challenging myself to spin yarn that is outside of my comfort zone. Here are a couple of projects that I produced for the spinning class.

220 yards and 80 g of 2-ply cotton and silk noil. Spinning cotton is not my favorite thing to do so it was good that I forced myself to practice on this yarn. I have to admit that I am much better at it now. I dyed it with periwinkle acid dye and was surprised that it took the dye so well. I thought that only the slubs of silk would take it but there must have been more silk distributed over the entire yarn as I spun than I thought. You can see a bit of the wool yarn that I tied the skein with on the upper left side of the picture to see the difference between this blend and pure wool.

Then there's this:
so far out of my comfort zone that it's scary.

It's Spunky Eclectic Tuxedo Rose Romney, the September club fiber. I wanted to see if I could anchor beads into a singles yarn. I pre-threaded the beads onto thin strips of the fiber and then spun the strips right into the singles. By incorporating twist into the fiber before and after each bead as well as beside it, it is quite secure. Lightly fulling the yarn after spinning helped too. I have 173 m and 114 g of the plain singles (top) and 88 m and 103 g of the beaded one (bottom - you can see the beads more clearly if you click on the picture). It was an interesting project to spin but I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with the finished yarn.

I got my Christmas present early. It's a Louet Victoria.
Shuttleworks has them on sale. It's a very light wheel and very easy to tote which my body appreciates. It treadles lightly using both feet or just one foot. So far I actually prefer to use it as a single treadle which surprises me because I usually find double treadling easier. Spinning my default fine worsted yarn is effortless. It's not a wheel for chunky or art yarns though but I certainly don't plan on churning out art yarns any time soon. The beaded one above was enough to hold me indefinitely.

The Victoria folds down and tucks neatly into its bag which can be carried by handles, a shoulder strap, or as a backpack. Louet planned this wheel very well.

As I sit here typing I can hear ice pellets hitting the windows. We are having yet another winter storm with freezing rain which will turn into snow overnight. I'm sick and tired of winter already and it doesn't even officially start until next week.

I'm including the Environment Canada weather warning for your perusal. It seems that knowledge of punctuation and sentence structure isn't a job requirement for the person who writes these things.

Freezing Rain Warning

Issued at 10:24 PM CST Tuesday 14 December 2010


Another hour or so of freezing rain.


A major storm system continues to affect much of Southern Saskatchewan this evening. At 10:20 PM radar indicates that the leading edge of the precipitation is just pushing into Melfort..And approaching Yorkton from the west. The precipitation generally is falling as a mix of freezing rain..Ice pellets..And snow..With the major area of freezing rain now affecting the Regina-Estevan area. Highway 1 has now been re-opened between Moose Jaw and Rush Lake. However in general most highways in the affected areas are reporting ice-covered, slippery conditions..With travel not recommended. The remaining areas under the freezing rain warning will likely see freezing precipitation continue for another hour or two..Before changing to snow or ending. As the precipitation tracks eastward tonight it will change to snow as it moves into colder air. Total snowfall amounts of 10 to 20 cm are forecast by noon Wednesday over portions of the eastern grainbelt.

Monday, November 29, 2010

not a weather post

It seems that all I've had to blog about for the last few weeks has been the weather. Today, however, I have some fiber things to share.

I finally finished up the gift socks for my physiotherapist Rachel. I used yarn from the stash, Nova Sock Print color 303, doubled. I bought the yarn from Golden Willow Natural Fiber a while back and it's quite nice - I should have bought more at the time; the price was right. The socks are thick and warm. I hope she likes them and that they fit.

I also finished up the yarn for the shawl. I posted a picture of the first singles of merino, silk, baby alpaca, sheltie, and angelina that I carded and spun woolen in the summer. It took me quite a while to spin up the second singles of worsted silk brick; I don't like spinning silk by itself so it was slow going. However I do like the finished yarn.

The finished yarn on the bobbin:

And after being fulled in the bath:
I haven't decided on a pattern yet but there are lots of contenders.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

it might as well be January

It's been cold here. We seem to get a new dump of snow every 3 or 4 days. It's hard to believe that it's still November when I look outside.
I think we've had just about as much snow already this year as we get all winter in other years but that might be stretching it a bit.

Although the shelties still like the snow, even they start lifting up their chilly paws soon.
I took a couple of pics of Austin and Robbie before they got too cold this afternoon. I had to use my gloved fingers to snap the pics.
B and Cooper weren't as co-operative about the picture taking today. Poor little B almost has to swim through the snow drifts and comes into the house covered with snow. I don't think Cooper slows down long enough to get cold.

Dan got bronchitis which developed into pneumonia even though he was on antibiotics already. He missed a couple of weeks of school. His lungs can't tolerate the cold so we have really appreciated that Geoff has been clearing the driveway and sidewalks. Geoff will be moving out at the first of December. Dan and I will become empty-nesters for the first time. I told Geoff that he wasn't allowed to move out until the snow stopped falling. I don't think he is going to listen to me.

I've been taking a spinning class at Golden Willow and loving it as usual. Cooper and I started a dog class introducing obedience, agility, and flyball. He thinks it's great fun, especially the agility part.

I had a request to make a little video for Ravelry showing how the Hansen MiniSpinner can be used as a bobbin winder/quill with my trick of using a chop stick and an orifice reducer. It was my first attempt at recording myself using my laptop so the production quality is less than stellar to say the least. I learned a lot in the process though. Some of my spinning class friends asked that I post it here too so here it is for anyone who is interested.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

snow finished for now

This snow storm wasn't nearly as bad as the one we had a couple of weeks ago. No snow bomb this time. We had about 18 cm (just over 7 inches) of snow as of yesterday. Again, the shelties are happy. The forecast is for cooler temperatures so I'm afraid this snow might be here for the duration of the winter.

I'm still not ready for winter but I don't think I ever will be. However it seems like a non-issue compared to what so many people have endured and continue to endure during wars. I am very fortunate that my life is so peaceful that only worry about the weather. I am forever indebted to the many who have fought for that peace.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

it's ba-ack...

So if

Red sky at night,
Sailors' delight.


Red sky in morning,
Sailors' fair warning.

are true, is this true too?

Purple sky out there,
Much snow in the air.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

purple rain?

After a few days of record-breaking warmth, we had showers today and we are getting some snow this evening. Right around sunset I called the dogs in from the back yard and noticed that everything was purple.

These two photos are exactly as the camera took them with no editing or retouching.

I don't remember ever seeing the sky that color before. It started snowing soon after so the heavy, cool clouds must have affected the colors in the sunset. Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

now that's more like it!

What a difference a few days can make!
It feels like spring. Most of last week's snow, except for where it drifted or got shoveled into heaps, is already gone. I'm so glad. I wasn't ready for winter just yet.

It was 12 degrees C today (54 F) and the forecast is for more warmth. Bring it on!

Friday, October 29, 2010

a beumb

I shamelessly stole that title from a clever column by Regina's own Ron Petrie of the Leader-Post. Go ahead and read it for a giggle. I enjoy Ron's columns. Apparently we share the same twisted sense of humour.

If you didn't go read it just now I will translate. What Clouseau called a "beumb" is indeed a bomb, weather bomb that is. It's the weather equivalent of a hurricane only it happened inland. It was responsible for the storm that was dropped on us this week. Environment Canada's senior climatologist, David Phillips, called it the "king of storms". I certainly don't ever remember a weather bomb on the prairies. This year has been nothing if not unusual for weather in these parts. Our forecast is for a warm-up next week and I sincerely hope that this snow melts. It is too soon for winter to stick around just yet.

Dan and I went to the Reba McEntire concert last night. It was very good. I'm not a die-hard country music fan but I like Reba. I still liked Blue Rodeo's concert better though. More my style of country music.

Just in case you aren't tired of my links to the Leader-Post here is one more. Dr. Roberta Bondar arrived in Regina during the storm and had some interesting comments.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Winter has made its early presence known with a vengeance. Here is a picture taken through my kitchen window yesterday afternoon.

And here is one from this afternoon.

The RCMP closed the Trans Canada highway for a while because of the poor visibility in the blowing snow and the icy conditions. A good portion of city streets were impassible as well and others were blocked with stranded cars. I was quite happy to cancel my appointment this afternoon and hunker down at home.

The snow has now stopped and the wind has calmed down. However the temperature has dropped. The wind chill factor is now -16C (3F).

Considering that most of October was lovely and warm (I didn't need a jacket when we went out for dinner on Friday evening), this has been a huge shock to the system. I'm holding out hope that it will warm up enough to melt this snow. Dan doesn't think it will get warm enough to get rid of all of it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

first winter storm

We woke up to the first winter storm of the season.

Weather Warning

Issued at 10:32 AM CST Tuesday 26 October 2010


5 to 10 cm of snow today into tonight with occasional blowing snow.


A powerful storm system over Central Minnesota late this morning continues to intensify, and is bringing the season's first snow to Southern Saskatchewan today into tonight. The snow is accumulating in most areas from Saskatoon and eastward, along with strengthening northwest winds, now gusting into the 60 km/h range. Wynyard has reported 10 cm so far, with many other areas approaching 5 cm. The snow will continue tonight before tapering off early Wednesday. General snowfall amounts of 10 to 15 cm are expected over eastern regions, with possibly as much as 25 cm over the higher elevations of the moose mountains and duck mountains. Lesser amounts of 5 to 10 cm are expected in the weather warning area including Regina. In addition to the snow, strong northwest wind gusts will likely strengthen into the 70 to 80 km/h range, and compound the situation with poor visibilities in heavy snow and local blowing snow. This will be the season's first Major blast of winter weather over Southeast Saskatchewan so residents planning on travel today and tonight should be prepared for treacherous winter travel conditions including on the Yellowhead and transcanada highways especially towards the Manitoba border. Environment Canada continues to closely monitor this situation and will be providing updates through today and Wednesday as the storm develops. Please refer to the public forecast for further details.

There are many unhappy motorists today but there are some very happy shelties.
When they got the zoomies even Bentley joined in although his little legs had to really plow to get through the thick, heavy snow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

price reduced by $100 on the Roberta package

I have dropped the asking price for the Roberta and accessories so it's now $1150 including shipping to Canada and the US.

Monday, October 18, 2010

hey, the moth has a name!

Thanks to Nolie for leaving a comment with a link to this Bug Guide page. It seems that my pretty moth's name is Metanema Inatomaria or Pale Metanema. Now I can't get this song out of my head -

Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Metanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes - ah....

p.s. Robbie has obviously been putting his paws on my keyboard again. My apostrophe key had morphed into this:
Luckily I still had Kelly's solution from the last time I had a problem with the apostrophe (only then it was a French accent without the e). So I tapped the Shift and Ctrl keys a few times and voila, problem fixed. Except that now I don't know how to do the accent thing over the a in voila.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the Roberta could use a new home

I've convinced myself that two espinners is redundant so I'm looking for a new home for the Ertoel Roberta and accessories. It was purchased one year ago from Shuttleworks.

Includes flyer with O ring sliding hook, 3 jumbo bobbins, 3 regular bobbins, orifice hook, built-in kate, pause control, 12 volt plug in, lubricants and original paperwork. Also included is a WooLee Winder with 4 jumbo bobbins that was purchased a few months ago so there are 10 bobbins in total. (The WW flyer needs a spacer to snug up the fit which Nathan Lee has said that he will provide. In the meantime, I've been using a rubber washer and it does the job. I can forward the spacer when it arrives.) Everything is in great condition.

I'm asking $1250 shipped within Canada or to the US.

fickle swatches

Case #1:

I have a plan to make a pair of surprise socks for my physiotherapist Rachel for Christmas. I hatched the plan several weeks ago and got the receptionist at the physio clinic to spy on Rachel's shoes to see what size she wears (9.5/10). I made note of her usual attire - subdued colors - so that I would make socks that she would like. I specifically ordered yarn online for them. When it arrived, I swatched (in the round) and started knitting.

It's a good thing I gave myself lots of time to complete the gift. As I was finishing the gusset of the first sock it occurred to me that it was looking rather small. I stuck my own size 7.5 foot into the sock.
Perfect fit.

So I had to decide whether to frog and start again or keep them for myself. Considering that one sock of a pair is nearly done and they fit me anyway, I decided to try again for Rachel's socks. So I went stash diving and I think I have something sort of suitable that can work. Merry Christmas to me. Pictures of the new sock to follow when there is enough to bother photographing.

Case #2:

I posted here about plying Falkland handspun with wooly nylon for sock yarn.

I was anxious to see how it would knit up so I swatched, at about the same time as I swatched for Rachel's socks (hmmm... coincidence?), and started knitting myself a pair using the Fluted Bannister Socks stitch pattern thinking it would look nice with the gradual color changes in the yarn.

So I'm trucking down the leg of the first sock and decide to put it on to try on. Snug. Maybe because the sock is on dpn's? Knitted it onto two circs. Tried it on again. Snug.

Not exactly too small because the yarn has a lot of bounce from the wooly nylon but it's..... snug.

It has been shoved into time out while I knit Rachel's current pair. After that, I'll decide whether to knit on and see if the sock can be pulled on over my ankle or whether it will hit the frog pond as well.

Remind me again why we knit swatches, will you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

the Judith MacKenzie experiment

I recently watched some spinning videos (on my iPad, LOVE that thing!) including Popular Wheel Mechanics by Judith MacKenzie. She advises people to get to know their wheels by seeing the range of yarns that you can produce with it using your default spinning speed and adjusting the whorls (or pulleys, as Judith calls them) and tension.

I decided to do just that with the Lendrum. I used beautiful Polwarth fiber that I combed and dizzed so that the fiber and preparation would be consistent. It was a neat exercise.
I used only the regular flyer with its three whorls. I let the yarn ply back on itself as soon as it was pulled off of the bobbin. I tried to maintain my usual treadling speed (which is pretty fast) and let the whorl and the tension setting dictate the size of the yarn. My drafting speed did vary a bit.

You can see that there is quite a range of yarns from that one flyer. The top yarn was the thickest that I could spin because the fiber had been dizzed to a fairly small diameter. I didn't draft it very much while spinning. Could I have spun a thicker yarn with just this flyer? Maybe a bit but I think I would have to consciously slow down my treadling to do so. The plying flyer, which I didn't buy, would likely make the job easier because the whorls would be larger.

I didn't have any trouble at all producing the finest yarn because the lovely Polwarth fiber drafts out beautifully and because my hands really, really like fine spinning. I have the fast flyer but didn't use it for this experiment. Because I treadle quickly, I don't really need the fast flyer for spinning wool but it is great for cotton. Lendrum does make a very fast flyer but I can't imagine ever needing it although some people like it a lot.

This was a very useful exercise and I recommend it. One of these days I'll get around to repeating it with my other two wheels.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Run For The Cure update

I told you about Geoff's half-sister Chloe becoming team captain for this year's Run For The Cure in honour of her mom defeating cancer ten years ago when Chloe was a baby. She sent an email with these pictures of the run last weekend.
As you can see, she did shave her head and donate her hair to make wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment. She proudly shared that she raised $5,588 and her team total was $11,348!

Way to go Chloe! We're proud of you!

Monday, October 04, 2010

catching up

First, I'll answer a couple of questions from recent posts.

Jody asked how fall looks on the prairies. She said that the trees were at their most colorful in Ontario these days.

Our Saskatchewan fall isn't as colorful as fall in the eastern part of the continent. Most trees have leaves that turn yellow when cool air arrives. The grass starts to turn golden and brown. Actually I think that fall is golden in the prairies; it's the color of the changing plant life and the gorgeous golden glow of the slanting sunlight.

This was taken in my back yard last week.

And here's one taken in the front yard looking down the street.
A strong wind blew for a couple of days after I took these pictures and the golden trees are now leafless. There are still green trees that don't panic at the first frost and hold onto their color for a while yet.

Marguerite asked if the moth was large. Yes, it was - probably 2 inches wide. It disappeared for a while and then I saw it flying around the window of the sunroom the next day. I tried to convince it to go out of the open door but it wasn't interested. I haven't seen it since.

The dogs and I visited the Regina off-leash dog park for the first time today. It was fun! There's a large fenced grassy area around the creek near the airport. It was a busy place today because of summer-like temperatures.

All of the dogs were friendly and tolerant of each other. Several of them were in and out of the creek. Mine didn't show any interest in going in the water. They checked out the shoreline but that was as far as they ventured.

New friends were made.

Cooper got the zoomies.

Bentley enjoyed the fresh air.

Austin and Robbie stayed pretty close to me the whole time. They've been trained very well over the years. Whenever I looked down, there they were.
Good shelties.

We'll definitely be going back. It was great exercise for all of us.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

check it out

Check out this little lovely who came to visit my kitchen last night.

I've never seen a moth quite like this before. I'm most impressed with the pretty wing markings and the cool Phyllis Diller hair style.

After a few weeks of cold, very wet weather, Mother Nature has gifted us with this gorgeous day. It reached 29 C (84 F) this afternoon. Such a nice change from temps hovering around frost!

I'm also happy because I finally got to groom my dogs this week. I couldn't get at it for a few weeks because of a fibro flare and they desperately needed a good brushing. It feels so good to get it done.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm in love

with this.
I told you how much I was enjoying the iPod Touch. Well, one thing led to another and this (the most basic) iPad came home with me this week. Could I truly afford it at this time? No. But I convinced myself that I couldn't live without it and I sold the Majacraft Pioneer so that partially funded it.

This is iPod Touch on crack. It is amazing and wonderful and mind-boggling and beautiful. When I think back to high school computer programming class in the mid-70s I feel like I grew up in the dark ages. There was one computer for our use and it lived at the university. It filled a massive room there. We learned flowchart programming skills (of which I remember nothing but the words Fortran and Cobol) and used ticker tape-like cards (that would be the technical name) to send our work to the university. Who would have believed that about 35 years later we would have mini-computers in our purses that operated wirelessly to connect us to the entire world?! I wish my dad had lived long enough to see it. He died in 1970 but had advised me to learn about computers because he truly believed that they were the way of the future. How right he was.

That is all I have time to blog today. My iPad is calling me.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

for charity

I have posted before about our wonderful LYS Golden Willow Natural Fibers and its owner Sharon. She received a large donation of wool this summer and sent out word to local knitters that she intended to knit hats for Souls Harbour Rescue Mission with it and could use help. There was no shortage of help offered once word got out. I took a skein and here are my finished hats to donate.
I don't know what the yarn is but it was very nice to knit and washed up even nicer. I think there must be mohair in the blend because it is soft and has a nice halo. It is a rustic yarn - I picked out bits of vegetable matter as I knit so I don't think it was mass produced. I'm sure it will help some people stay warm this winter. I won't be taking any more yarn to knit hats though because my hands really, really don't like knitting with anything heavier than sock yarn. I was happy to finish up this knitting and give my hands a break.

I also finished spinning some sock yarn with Spinning Awesome Good Falkland fiber in the Hydrangea colorway, one of the club offerings. I'm enjoying this fiber club. Shelby offers plenty of choices for each month's fiber and even will dye this month's fiber from a photo that each member provides for her. I'm excited to see what she does with a picture of Austin that I sent her.

Anyway, back to the Falkland.
It's the first yarn that I have spun on the new Hansen miniSpinner. I'm very impressed with the Hansen! It's so easy to use and I love that I have great control over my spinning with it. I spun two plies with the Hydrangea and plied them together with a strand of light blue wooly nylon for extra durability. Wooly nylon is serger thread that I buy at a sewing machine store. Some people carry it along with their sock yarn in heels and toes for strength. It's so fine that it could be carried for the whole sock. I hate carrying two strands of yarn as I knit so decided to try just using it as a third ply. It was a little tricky to ply from the little spool that the wooly nylon comes on but once I figured out how to manage everything it worked okay. The end result surprised me a bit. Due to the wooly nylon's elasticity, the Falkland plies puckered up somewhat and the yarn is quite delightfully bouncy! My plan is to start a pair of socks with it right away so that I can see how it knits up.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

after the bath

These two singles

became this fractal spun, 2 ply yarn.

Bee Mice Elf “Snow-Capped”; 50% merino, 25% bamboo, 25% silk;
228 g, 1150 yds.