Thursday, December 29, 2011

this week

Well, Christmas has come and gone for another year.  We hosted breakfast and gift opening in the morning.  Darcie took a nice pic of son Geoff and his girlfriend Carmen.
 
Cooper loved having everyone here.
It was a beige Christmas here on the prairies - not quite brown because there was some residual snow and ice left from November but certainly not a white Christmas because of lots of ground without any snow cover.  The weather has been exceedingly mild lately with many days of temperatures above the freezing mark.  Christmas Day was 4 degrees C (39 F) which was almost record breaking.  If winter was like this all the time I would be a happy camper.  As we were driving home from Dan's sister's place in the afternoon, there was a spectacular sunset which I tried to capture on my phone.  The picture doesn't do it justice.
The only reminder that this is December and not March was the early sunset around 5 p.m.

The mild weather has lasted all week but some precipitation has been added to the mix.  There was freezing rain earlier today, turning everything into a skating rink.  I was glad to be able to stay at home and not have to drive anywhere.

The rain has turned to snow now.  Austin and Cooper celebrated the new snow with a good run around the back yard. 

It's still nice out.  Sooner or later, the bitter cold temperatures are bound to arrive because this is Saskatchewan after all but this lovely weather will make the really cold winter that much shorter.  I'm all for that.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

where's your tail?

video 

"Where's Your Tail?" is a sheltie game that is popular with Austin and Cooper.  Robbie refuses to get involved.  You can almost see him mentally putting his little paw to his forehead using the L-shaped salute for 'Loser' when he watches the other two.  Bentley doesn't care to get involved either.  However, Austin and Cooper think it is the greatest way to get attention ever.  They will show off on request and will also offer it spontaneously when they figure it will get a laugh.

I managed to get a little video of a bit of the game to share with you.  Sorry about the poor lighting - the opportunity presented itself without any pre-planning on my part.  (Notice that they spin in opposite directions.  Dogs have right/left preferences just like people!)

From all of  us, we wish you the best of the season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sidekick bags

This is try #2 for this post.

I am the proud owner of a new Schacht Sidekick (from Shuttleworks). I have had other travel wheels and didn't really bond with them so they were sold and now live with very happy new owners.  The Sidekick arrived in November, an early Christmas gift from Dan, when I was taking the art yarn class.

With the weather turning wintery I knew I wanted a bag for it.  There aren't a lot of options for bags yet because of the newness of the wheel design.  The Bag Lady makes one and Bountiful offers another.  I decided to order the Bountiful bag because it is lighter than the more substantial one from the Bag Lady.  People on the Schacht Ravelry group asked for pictures so here we go.

I had to wait a few weeks for the Bountiful bag so I cobbled together a bag from an old bathrobe.  It did the trick but isn't beautiful.
One side fits over the top of the wheel then the other side, with its edge encased in elastic, closes the bag.  The posts for attaching the strap are left open.
  The public side has a big pocket that closes with velcro.
 It wouldn't be very useful in the rain but worked fine in the winter weather and was surprisingly comfortable to carry.

My Bountiful bag arrived yesterday and I'm very pleased with it and the excellent customer service I received from Lois at Bountiful!

The bags are made to order by Judy Jackson for Bountiful.  She does a great job with quality materials!

There are some color options available.  I chose dark teal to match the wheel.

There is a good sized pocket on the front that zips closed.

The bag has webbing for handles and backpack straps.  Because of my cranky back and neck, I added the seatbelt pads for now to make the straps more comfortable to wear.  They were bought at WalMart and cost $5 each.  I ordered some better ones from Amazon that haven't arrived yet.

The wheel fits comfortably in the bag.
 It has some padding on the bottom and where it leans against your body when carrying it.
 There is enough room to add extra padding if desired.  This bag is not sufficiently strong enough to protect the wheel if it is checked as baggage for a flight.  Size-wise, it can fly as carry-on on a few airlines but not all so you'd have to research the guidelines before flying with it.  Beth of The Spinning Loft went shopping for a suitcase to protect her Sidekick and blogged about it here if you're interested.

The Bountiful bag came with two fleece bags.

The larger one easily holds the bulky flyer and large whorl.

So there is my review.  Hope it's helpful!

And to wish you good night, my lovely Austin dog.....

how appropriate

I took a pile of photos this afternoon when the sun was shining and just finished editing them for this post.  As usual I emptied my trash folder promptly because the icon of the full garbage can on the desktop bugs me.  When I went to my pictures folder to add pics here, today's file is gone.  Disappear-o.  Nothing.  Empty.  Dark.

Dark, as in no light.  Today is the Winter Solstice.  The least daylight hours of the whole year.  How appropriate that my pics vanished into darkness.

So now I will go and retake all the photos with the flash.  Sigh.  My New Year's resolution will be to ignore that full trash icon until I have triple-checked that I still have what I need and haven't accidentally deleted whole files in a single move.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

how it ends

In yesterday's comments a couple of you asked how the sheltie crate game ends.  Actually it ends with no excitement whatsoever.  Austin and Cooper get bored and leave to have a nap or chew on a rawhide.

Robbie stays in his crate and barks at whoever walks by in the hopes of reviving his favorite game....
 until I leave the computer room, the doorbell rings, or the other dogs start barking at real or imagined people and dogs outside the window.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

what I see

What the dogs do when I'm on the computer:

The shelties enjoy a game invented by Robbie.  It involves Robbie being in the crate and the other two acting like they're trying to kill him from the outside.  I don't know why this is such a popular game but they like it so much that Robbie goes out of his way to get me to put him in the crate by jumping up on the keyboard and barking until I oblige.  Note Robbie's smile while he's in there.


Bentley doesn't 'get' the crate game.  He stays out of their way.


It was tough to get the above picture while Austin and Cooper were flying around, snarling and barking at Robbie.  I deleted a bunch of the shots but couldn't resist keeping this one of Cooper's furry butt.  That happy tail tells the tale (sorry, couldn't resist) of how much fun he was having.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

goodbye Movember!

If you have somehow never heard of Movember (and if not, where have you been?  Seriously.) you can find out more here.

I'm proud of my husband Dan for participating in this very worthy cause but I'm really, really glad that Movember is sighing its last gasps.  Why, you ask?

Is that not the sorriest, most pitiful excuse for facial hair that you've ever seen?

One thing that you could never accuse Dan of doing is growing excess hair.  Now if someone dreams up a fundraiser that involves women growing leg hair, sign me up.  I can grow leg hair so lush that I could braid it.  Okay, not quite but it's not that far out of the realm of possibility.  In fact, I wish that someone would make that sort of fundraiser in one of the summer months so we could show off our lush legs by wearing shorts.  Just think of the time-saving benefits to be able to wear shorts or skirts without having to de-forest our legs first.

Tomorrow is December and the so-called moustache will finally be just a memory.  Bring it on!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

textured

I've been taking an art yarn spinning class at my wonderful LYS Golden Willow.  The very talented Deb, aka dragondancer, is teaching it.  She knows a lot about yarn and spinning.  Check out her blog.

I spun a few art yarns in the past, mostly just to prove that I could, but didn't see much practical use in them as knitting yarns.  I now have more interest in using them since I started weaving with texture.   I've always figured that learning new techniques makes me a better spinner so I probably would have taken the class even if I wasn't a weaver.  The possibility of actually using the yarn is a bonus.

In my mind I've categorized these yarns as art yarns and textured yarns.  Some yarns are spun just to make something pretty/different/wild to view as decoration.  These include but aren't limited to large or unexpected yarns with add-ins (such as eye balls, Barbie heads, toy soldiers, etc.).  I call those art yarns.  Textured yarns, to me, are those that are more traditional and less out-there and that's where my yarns fall.  I have nothing against the wild art yarns and give my blessing to those that spin them but I like my yarns to be more user-friendly, to be used in projects not the end result in and of themselves.

I believe that textured yarns require a lot of spinning skill to make.  I know that the first yarns produced by new spinners are frequently referred to as art yarn but I don't buy it.  Spinning mistakes may resemble art yarns but they are generally not stable yarns.  I think that textured yarns should be stable and (mostly) balanced.  That takes time and practice.  They generally are slow to produce, often needing considerable amounts of fiber, and involve plying and/or anchoring the elements in place and then finishing techniques to make them stable and usable.  That said, they're fun to make.  They make me think outside the box which is good for me.  My default spinning is control-freak, fine, worsted yarn so textured yarns force me to let that tendency go, experiment, and get creative.

So here are my latest spinning endeavors.
corespun mixed batts plied with 60/2 silk

merino thick and thin spun with 60/2 silk, the thick spots pushed up to form coiled cocoons, then plied with silk again to balance the twist
the same thick and thin merino and silk as above with the silk used to ply and then autowrap

If you would like a good reference for spinning art/textured yarns, my favorite is Jacey Boggs' DVD Sit and Spin!  Jacey also has a soon-to-be-released book titled Spin Art.

Monday, November 07, 2011

and BAM, it's winter!

It's a good thing that we prairie folk are hearty because Mother Nature didn't even give us a skiff of snow in October to prepare us for winter.  She deluded us into thinking that our lovely autumn weather would last forever.

Case in point:
this picture was taken Thursday just before sunset.

Here is a similar view taken from my kitchen window yesterday.
No more autumn for us.  Uh, uh.  Nosiree Bob.

As usual, the shelties are thrilled with the snow.
Robbie knows that he looks gorgeous against the snow.

Austin was so excited he couldn't wait to tell me about it.

Cooper got the zoomies.

Then he posed nicely while he caught his breath.

And where was Bentley?
Ready to go back into the house.  He doesn't have nearly as much fur as the shelties.

I will leave you with some stunning sunset skies from Thursday, before the snow.

Interesting that the sky was purple.  A year ago the sky turned purple before snow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

definitely treats

No tricks here - treats for sure!

One fiber that I had never had the chance to spin was qiviut.  That changed when I bought a destash spindle from Peacecat on Ravelry.  She lives in Alaska and told me that she sells qiviut (free shipping to boot!) so of course it was the perfect opportunity for me to get some.

This arrived in the mail.
It's a qiviut/silk blend and I can't imagine a softer, more luxurious fiber than this!
I will be spinning it with a Tabachek spindle so that the experience is exquisitely savored.

Also a treat.....
meet Twitter's fleece.  Twitter is a CVM/Romeldale who lives in Washington State and her shepherd is Joy (sheepgirl on Rav).  This is a gorgeous fleece - soft with lovely long locks!

One more treat was a visit to Celtic Cast On's blog today to see pics of the cutest Little Red Riding Hood and her big but not-so-bad wolf.  They win my award for best Hallowe'en costume this year for sure!

On a sadder note, my sunroom now looks like this.
Although we don't have snow yet (knock on wood), it's too cold to work there comfortably any more so all the fiber equipment has been moved indoors.
Sigh.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

done diddy done done done!

Happy dance, oh happy dance!  I have finally finished the Watermelon Socks!
 I think that they are adorable!  But I'm very glad that they're done so that I can work on some other knitting for a while.

Also done is my foray into quilting.
 I am definitely a process spinner.  I am usually a process knitter.  I am usually a product weaver.  I am definitely a product quilter.  I really didn't enjoy making the bag much so I won't be launching into making a king size quilt any time soon.

Both of these projects were started in July.  They only took me all of summer and most of autumn to finish.

Speaking of autumn, Dan and I loaded up the dogs and took a drive out of town last weekend.  It was the first time we have taken the Terrain out of town since we got it in March.  Yup, we have truly exciting lives.

We went to the Craven valley which is about 20 minutes northwest of Regina.
The valley was flooded in the wet spring and the water is still high in many places.

There are numerous market gardens in the valley so we stopped at one for some veggies.  There were lots of pumpkins.

Lots and lots of pumpkins!

And in case the weather was unco-operative, there were even more pumpkins inside!

Back on the flat prairie on the ride home, the setting sun peeked through the clouds.