Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tree's up!

The tree is set up and Zack is working on the train layout. I can cross this one off the list!!It seems that we have more cars than the transformer can handle. We might have to correct that. This is one of the cars he bought at last week's train show in Huntington. It's a Dixie Line boxcar that he put together himself.

And another photo of Santa because he's just so darn cute!
Santa baby, hurry down my chimney tonight!
My ultimate Christmas list:
  • 2 pairs of Addi Turbo 24" circular knitting needles (the silver ones) in size 2. Sock knitters will know what I mean.
  • Fleece--wool roving, any color as long as it's wool
  • Niddy Noddy -- used to wind wool into hanks (mid size)
  • Swift -- used to wind hanks into balls (sounds redundant, but it's not)
  • Sock yarn -- 250 yards will make a pair of socks. I like wool, but bamboo is intriguing!
  • Bamboo cutting board -- big enough to fit a frozen tombstone pizza
  • Verona Bold Starbucks coffee -- yum!!!
  • Pair of sock blockers -- from Haus of Yarn...I have a size 9 foot, Santa would need to know that.
  • Ashford Traveler or Kromski Sonata spinning wheel -- (OMG!) Not sure which would be better...they both rock! Maybe Ashford as I seem to remember it was more "sturdy" than the Kromski.
  • Knitting needles and a ball of lovely yarn or a drop spindle and roving for everyone in the world, which would lead to....
  • Peace on Earth!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ho Ho Ho!

For the record, I am not offended by the use of "ho ho ho" and will use the phrase liberally throughout this Christmas season. Shame on anyone who thinks it means anything but a jolly greeting from St. Nick. For crying out loud.

On to more pleasant topics: Thanksgiving 2007. I went on carb overload and today I'm in carb withdrawl. It's not pretty. I had a salad for lunch today and snagged a two-pack of crackers at the checkout because I realized the salad I just created was sadly lacking croutons. This calls for an intervention...as does my yarn "addiction" as my mother puts it.

For the record (again), I am not addicted to yarn, I just like it A LOT. I don't have a problem with yarn. I don't have a problem with all the yarn I have. Actually, now that I think of it, the problem is that I don't have enough yarn. Lately, I've found myself stalking Goodwill and thrift stores hoping to score a great sweater to recycle. (This past weekend was a total success. I found a black cashmere, chestnut donegal tweed, and dove gray lambswool!) Hmmm, I'm sounding a little defensive, where did that come from? Moving on...

Back to Thanksgiving....Zack and I went to Huntington to visit my parents again. It was a weekend for secret projects. Zack and Grandpa headed to the garage (I was not invited) to play with wood and power tools. I think they were making toothpicks and sawdust. My mom and I headed to the basement with a couple old quilts and a Santa pattern.

Inbetween secret projects, Zack and I worked on the annual Gingerbread House. It turned out pretty good. This is the kit from Michael's. We added some of our own candy.
We even got a little snow! For those of you who measure snow in yards or meters, I'm sure you scoffed at this photo. We live in Tennessee, and snow is pretty rare. This was a big hit with Zack.
I also dropped a bit of cash at the Knit and Hook, Huntington's LYS. It was their Thanksgiving Open House...yarn 20% off. My eyes glazed over and I went into a trance-like state. I only walked out with three skeins. It was overload and I panicked. I also picked up a couple tidbits at The Depot. It's a great shop that's run by Goodwill. They sell made in West Virginia products like glass, pottery, etc. Neat place.

I'm not the only one who did some shopping. Zack dropped a couple bucks at the train show. He bought a new L&N caboose and Dixie Line boxcar for his HO (there's that word again) train that we'll put around the Christmas tree.

A little bit of knitting happened also. I'm about 1/2 way done with the second secret sock. it's looking good. I hope to finish this weekend on our annual road trip to Lynchburg, TN for the Jack Daniels Christmas open house. If you're in the area, this is an event that shouldn't be missed. The parade starts at 1 and it's a trip!

All in all, we had a pretty good weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Much is Too Much Sudafed?

I'm working on a pair of socks for [recipient's name to be divulged after 12/25]. I've never knit socks for feet other than my own, so this is challenging. This person has slightly larger feet than I do, so I'm guessing about size now that I've reached the toe decrease. I'm also not paying attention to what the hell I'm doing. I don't know how many times I have to remind myself to pay attention to the dang pattern! Sheesh! I'm knitting along, doing the toe decrease and get down to the required 16 stitches and notice that the toe is a lovely (not) triangle. Whose toes are shaped like that? I was decreasing every other row for the entire toe rather than switching to every row about half way thru. Frog the stinkin toe... And I wasn't even enjoying an adult beverage! However, I have been taking my fair (and legal) share of sudafed. It's the good stuff you need to sign for! I'm totally brain dead.

Anyway, I cast on the first sock in August and am just now grafting the toe. Will I get the second sock finished in time for Christmas 2007 or will this be a Christmas 2008 gift? Why do I stress myself this way? It's not that I'm a slow knitter...I'm a distracted knitter! I'm a distracted knitter on Sudafed and I'm so wound up now that I can't sleep. God Bless America!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

300 Yards

100% Wool Corriedale
Handspun on homemade drop spindle
300 yards
14 WPI

The lastest batch of handspun yarn--fresh off the spindle. It's a bit more vibrant than the photo. Now it just needs to tell me what it wants to be!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sandalwood Merino

Ever since last weekend's fiber festival in Murfreesboro, I've had the urge to spin. I finished up some corriedale, that I've had on the spindle for a couple years (yes, years!) This is the roving that my dog, Brownie (may she rest in peace), thoroughly trashed. So that tells those of you who were fortunate enough to know Brownie how long I've (not) been working on it. I finished it up this week and plied it. I soaked it last night to set the spin and it's drying. I'll calculate yardage when it's dry. I don't remember where I bought it or how much I purchased. It's been too long.
Next up: 8 ounces of 100% merino wool in Sandalwood. This is absolutely lucious fiber! It's spinning up into a very nice heathered dark tan. I purchased it in Gatlinburg a couple years ago during our annual January weekend trip. There aren't many shops in Nashville (not any) that sell roving, so when I see it while on vacation, I have to buy buy buy! I bought a total of 8 ounces for $17.00. Was that reasonable? I guess it was since I didn't have anything to compare it to. The shop is called Smoky Mountain Spinnery on 466 Brookside Village Way in Winery Square. For those of you familiar with Gatlinburg, she's right near the winery and above Dominoes Pizza. The shop is husband-friendly as her husband has a flyfishing shop right next door. You have to walk through the fishing shop to get to the wool. She doesn't have a web site and the shop is quite small. (Her phone is 865-436-9080.) She also carries a few spinning wheels--Majacraft if I recall correctly. She also has a great line of silk--unspun roving, hankies, handspun, etc. I did some major damage there last year--a skein of handspun silk and some hankies...very nice!

If you get to Gatlinburg, stop in for a visit. She's a lot of fun to talk to (I wish I could remember her name!) and will let you browse at your leisure. She also carries small looms. It's a neat place. When I go back this winter, I'm going to pick up more roving...I think I'll ply this sandalwood with a chocolate brown. Yum!

Quick note on my spindle of choice. I made it myself with a wooden toy truck wheel and dowel purchased at Michael's. I tapered each end of the dowel with a pencil sharpener and then slid it through the hole in the wheel. It was a tight fit, so I sanded down the shorter end until I could get it through the hole. I carved the notch in the top of the spindle with a jack knife. Then I took some fine steel wool and smoothed it all down so there wouldn't be any snagging. It probably cost me all of $2 and took about a half hour. I'm going to make a top whorl spindle next.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Harvest Days and Fiber Festival

On the last Saturday in October, there is a little celebration in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, called Harvest Days at Old Cannonsburgh Village. Finding this event was purely accidental. I was doing a search on the internet for fiber shows and festivals in Tennessee hoping to find the alpaca show I went to in Shelbyville several years ago. I didn't find the alpaca show, but I did find Harvest Days.

Randy (somewhat reluctantly) drove to Murfreesboro with me. Ok, Randy has lived in Nashville all his life and has never been to Murfreesboro other than Stones River Battlefield (where my great great great great grandfather fought with the 21st Wisconsin Infantry out of Oshkosh...but I digress.) Since Randy had never been to Murfreesboro, I drove him around the square. Now Randy has seen Murfreesboro. This trip had huge potential to be a total bust, but when we finally found it, we were pleasantly surprised.

Cannonsburgh Village was created in 1974 for the Bicentennial in 1976. Buildings were moved to the site from various locations around the state. The buildings and exhibits range from the colonial era to the industrial revolution. There's a grist mill, school house, telephone building, church and blacksmith shop to name a few. (More photos are on my Flickr site.)

Once we checked out all the buildings, we rounded a corner and I was FIBER HEAVEN! Right in front of me were 4 small sheep for sale, handmade soap, tubs of alpaca roving, hanks of shimmering silk, handmade knitting needles, and spinning wheels. It was almost too much for me to absorb. Now those of you who have gone to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Well, for some reason, there aren't many fiber related festivals in this area. For me, this was huge.

Randy kept urging me to talk to the spinners about their wheels and why they chose that particular one. I think he was a bit surprised at the many different styles. There were only two that were the same (Ashford Travelers--I think this is the wheel I'll get if/when I win the lottery), but that was it. The variety was overwhelming! I was in complete overload and needed to walk away and regroup (and get a pulled pork sandwich).

After lunch, I was much better equipped to talk to the exhibitors about their wares. I didn't get a brochure or business card from every vendor, so I apologize for leaving out some names. I've tried to locate a list of exhibitors for the day but haven't had any luck. Here are some of the people I talked to:

  • Three Creeks Farm from Charlotte, TN. The Kromski wheels they had on display were gorgeous!
  • The Taming of the Ewe had LOVELY sock yarn and great fiber. Pat Miller, the shop owner, was very patient with me when I was trying spin on her Louet wheel. I'm all thumbs!
  • Countryside Crafts had some beautiful Ashford wheels.
  • Meredith from the Kaughty Knitter also let me try her spinning wheel. Her shop is in Murfreesboro and I really need to go there!

One of the coolest things was the guy from South Bend, Indiana, who was doing shearing demonstrations. As we were walking past tables laden with garbage bags full of raw fleece, Randy asked me if I wanted to buy a bag. I was going to explain to him why I didn't want to process a raw fleece but decided to show him. We walked over to the shearing demonstration just as the shearer was getting a cotswold lamb prepped for the blade. The lamb was not particularly thrilled, and I can understand why...it's pretty invasive! As the sheared was approaching the "nether regions" of the lamb, Randy understood completely why I was not interested in processing a raw fleece.

I feel so sorry for the nekkid ones! One little boy actually cried for the poor sheep. He was completely traumatized and will probably never go near a razor again. All in all it was a really fun day. Randy had a good time and I loved his company. I wish the boys could have been with us. They would have enjoyed the blacksmiths, but they wouldn't enjoy it too much because they are so 13.

In my upcoming blogs, I'll give a rundown on my works in progress. I scored some awesome 100% wool sweaters today at Goodwill's 1/2 price sale. I'm going to felt them and recycle them into other items that can't be discussed until after Christmas (wink wink)! I'll also give an update on Zack's afghan, the purple socks and the Mohawk hat. Add painting the den (it's going to rock!!) to the list of things to get done before Christmas. The countdown has begun!

This is a pretty long post, thanks for toughing it out!