Friday, April 28, 2006

sick leave

Remember on Monday where I said I thought I might be coming down with a cold? Yeah. Blogging will resume once I have energy and am no longer in a Robitussin/Nyquil haze. Potential topics: Lendrum vs Schacht, physics of treadling, first skeins of wheel-spun yarn. Oops, time for more medicine...

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Wedding.

We begin our tale on Thursday, when we flew to Hartford by way of Philadelphia. Everything was going fine until USAir decided to switch the plane we were supposed to use with one that was going to Los Angeles, and so we sat in an airplane in Philly for a solid hour while they removed the fuel from the plane so it would be light enough to land in Hartford. All this resulted in us getting to Hartford late, and then Chris, another of the bridesmaids (to whom we are greatly indebted) picked us up and drove us to our hotel. After all these adventures, O. and I decided that what we really, really needed was food, and so we had breakfast at 1 AM at the all-night diner across the street. Praise the diner!

The next day O. slept in while I went to the bride's house for an excellent lunch; we hung out and chatted while sewing combs into the headpiece of her veil. The bride, two of the other bridesminions, and I all went to college together and have been friends for, oh, 13 years now, and it's always great when we can all be in the same place for a while. That evening was the rehearsal and dinner, at which the bride gave us all presents: sock kits! How awesome is that, and how well does she know us by now? :) Mine is the blue-striped one in the middle.

After a long evening, many Cosmos and glasses of pinot grigio, and lots of photographs (by the pros, not me), it was time for bed. (Well, after another quick trip to the diner. We were still eating on Mountain Time.) I set the alarm for God-help-me in the morning, and woke up an hour early. Imagine a long string of profanities unsuitable for a Catholic wedding.

We dragged ourselves to the salon to be Beautified. Beth has documented the process; take a good look, it isn't likely to happen again. They put my hair in these giant roller things and spritzed madly and then stuck me under a giant helmet and the bride and I shouted at each other for a while and ate bagels. Then eventually the stylist pulled me back out and stuck a hojillion bobby pins straight into my head. Ow. Beth suffered something similar, while Chris cleverly escaped with her sleek bobbed hair intact. She couldn't hold out forever, though, and thanks to Beth's make-up kit we were all soon wearing more cosmetics than I wore to my own wedding.

I have so far failed to mention that it was freezing cold and pouring rain. Well, it was. The salon was across the street from the church, but with no crosswalk and all the wet, it wasn't close enough. So the stylists called up their friends at the police station and had them block traffic for us! We made it safely across without dropping the skirt or train or bouquets in any puddles, and my clever husband photographed the whole scene.

After some fussing and tidying we lined up and paraded into the church, only a little late. Well, kind of late, but that's okay. None of us tripped in the aisle, and we all made it to our assigned places and sat down. Then a whole lot of Catholic things happened. It's not really my scene so I just smiled a lot and remembered not to take communion. See, that's me (and Chris) not taking communion. The flower girl, who sat next to us, was a little shocked to find out that we weren't Catholic, but hopefully she'll get over it in a few years. At the end of the ceremony Beth's husband sang a hymn and wow, that guy can sing.

And then there was SMOOCHING in CHURCH, and it was all over! Well, the churchy part - there were still plenty of other things to do. For instance, see that artfully arranged skirt? That was bridesmaidly duty. And then there was the bustling of the dress and veil so they wouldn't drag all over the parking lot. And then we all went to the reception.

The most interesting thing about the reception, aside from the terribly yummy cake (lemon with vanilla frosting and raspberry jam) and the chance to see another college friend and her insanely adorable daughter, was that it was held at the Spinning Wheel Inn! And the bride isn't even a spinner! Beth and I got our pictures taken in front of the great wheel in the entryway. After a good look at that monster I'm very happy with my little Lendrum.

After much dancing and picture-taking and watching the newlyweds be ridiculously happy, it was finally time to depart. We spent a lovely evening at my mother-in-law's house, had her excellent blueberry pancakes for brunch, and flew home. We're very tired, and I'm afraid I may have caught a cold, but I wouldn't have missed this wedding for the world and I wish them every happiness.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm back

...and will return to blogging with a full post about the weekend, once I've had some food and sleep. But for now, you can have a preview: Flower Basket shawls in action! (And Beth also has a report up, complete with entertaining hair-salon picture.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weekend report

As I mentioned on Sunday, we had lots of exciting adventures! Supposedly there was some sort of holiday going on but it only interfered with our plans in that the pizza place was closed, so we went to the other pizza place down the street.

We went on a hike along the Towhee and Homestead Trails, where we saw not only the homestead, but also a towhee! The sand lilies and pasque flowers were blooming, as were the plum trees, so that the air around them smelled wonderful. It was a really nice hike and I'd recommend it to anyone.

After the hike, we went to the aforementioned pizza place downtown, stopped in at the bookstore for a trail map and wildflower guide, and then, well, I'm all about the chocolate-peanut-butter-swirl.

And of course, I knit: the back of the Bonny pullover is finished! I'm well into the endless rows of seed stitch on the front, and it's going well now that it's become my commuter knitting.

On Thursday we're heading out to the Big Giant Wedding (as the matron of honor calls it) and posting may be sporadic. The hotel supposedly has wireless internet, but I'll likely be too busy doing bridesminion duties to post anything. However, there will undoubtedly be lots of time spent waiting around (rehearsal, hair salon, etc) and so I'm taking plenty of knitting. I'm thinking of turning the blue-green Koigu into Pomatomus. Mostly because it's just so much fun to say, however you say it. Pomatomus!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Where to knit

I'm too tired to post about all of today's adventures, so I'll just participate in this contest: name five interesting places where you've knit. My list:
  1. traffic jams in Connecticut

  2. during physical therapy (bad knee)

  3. my parents' farm in Kansas

  4. a friend's chateau in southern France

  5. a Princeton genetics lab.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I think I may have a problem

This is what I brought home from spinning class last night:

A double-treadle classic Lendrum wheel. And a fair bit of spun singles from hand-carded fleece.

This is what happened after I got home from class.

I used some prepared Corriedale roving I'd bought at the store, since I wanted to practice spinning, not carding. I'll work on my carding over the weekend and spin up more of it. Maggie (our teacher) was right; hand-carded rolags are easier to spin than commercially prepared fiber, but it was nice to have some stuff to practice on.

I spun for another ten minutes this morning before I left for work. I had to tear myself away. If it weren't for the time required to card all that fleece, I'd be worried about running out of fiber by the end of the weekend. I love it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Blue and green

The second pair of wristwarmers is finished! Of course, it's too warm to wear them now, but they're so cute, and who knows, we could have another snowstorm next week. (I'd rather we didn't, though.) Yarn: Plassard Alpaga. Needles: US #1, just a couple of DPNs I wasn't using for socks. Beads: some blue ones I found at the bead store. Pattern: basic structure from the Jan/Feb issue of PieceWork magazine, star pattern found here. Super-easy, very fast, lots of fun. I'm definitely making more of these, though I might go to the bead store for more sparkly beads first.

And while you weren't looking, I've been working on Bonny! I'm all the way up to the raglan shaping in the back, and it's been going amazingly quickly. I'm a faster knitter than I used to be, and it's mostly just stockinette so it's good for taking to s&b events or knitting while watching absorbing TV.

Remember this? Dirt, seeds, no green stuff? Yeah, they're taking over the world now. The sunflowers and four o'clocks are particularly vigorous, and two columbines finally came up a few days ago, after many weeks' wait. I'm hoping the allergies will slack off enough to let me start the real outdoor garden this weekend, possibly starting with some lettuce and herbs. That is, if I'm not totally preoccupied with the spinning wheel I get to take home from class tonight...

Monday, April 10, 2006

To market, to market

If you're going to the Estes Park Wool Market, head over to Snow's blog and leave a comment to be added to the list of knit-blogging participants. And, of course, you can pick up a cute sheepy button.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Yarn galore

On Saturday I went yarn-shopping with Emily (who has written a very entertaining recap) and Erica. Denver seems to have an astonishing number of yarn stores for one city, and a new one just opened so we had to check it out! Lamb Shoppe is beautifully laid out and has a good stock of really lovely yarn, though it was all fairly high-end stuff: Debbie Bliss, Colinette, Cherry Tree Hill, Elsebeth Lavold, and The Fibre Company, which was new to me and had some beautiful yarn. I wandered around, picked up some sock yarn, put it down, but I kept coming back to the shelf of Rio de la Plata. So I bought it all. Well, only six skeins, all in the "Pink Carnation" colorway. (So much for that blue stash, hmm?)

We went on to A Knitted Peace in Littleton, which is a really nice shop, but I didn't find anything that really needed to come home with me. After lunch at the Greek deli, we ventured out to the sprawling suburb of Highlands Ranch to String, which was having a great big sale and was packed with knitters. String organizes yarn mostly by color, which is interesting and looks great, but it was a bit hard to find exactly what I wanted (worsted weight, and enough for a sweater). Still, they have a fantastic seletion. I ended up with three skeins of apple-green DB baby cashmerino, one of my favorite yarns; not sure what it'll be, but it can join its friends in the big bag of stashed cashmerino.

On the way home, we stopped at Shuttles, since, you know, we were right there. Emily convinced me to try out Cotton Fleece, so I picked up one skein for swatching purposes. And then I went home and passed out. Whew!

In the evening, I took over half the living room with books, knitting needles, and yarn, trying to figure out what the heck to do with all this stuff. If I knit the pink wool to the suggested gauge, I won't have enough for a sweater. I'm still working on it; I may have to come up with my own pattern, and knit it loosely - but I think it'll look kind of cool. The Cotton Fleece is actually a lot nicer than I expected when knit up, but it's DK, not worsted, so it won't work for Eris. So, change of plans: perhaps a ChicKnits eyelet cardi for the summer, and maybe in the fall I'll make Eris in Beaverslide wool for winter wear.

Next up: are the alpaca wristlets done yet? How are those socks going, anyway? And who's going to the Estes Park Wool Market?


So much to blog about, so little energy with which to do it. (Stupid allergies.) I'll try to post it all in installments, though I can't promise a cliffhanger at the end of each post.

First, spinning class! Our first class was on Thursday night, and I can tell already that it's going to be great. It's a small class, only about 10 people. We learned all sorts of useful things about how to choose a good fleece: pick one from a healthy sheep that's been wearing a coat all season (so you don't have to pick the weeds out), and check that it was shorn cleanly and doesn't have a lot of little bits where the shearer had to go back and cut more. Then we all sat down with some rather dirty and greasy fleece and learned how to card and spin it on a drop spindle. And then we each got our own bag of sticky sheep fluff to take home to wash, card, and spin (eventually).

I bought a nice plastic shopping basket at the hardware store, which is perfect for holding a lot of wool and has plenty of drainage in the bottom, so you can lift the fleece straight out of the water without risking agitation, which causes felting. I soaked the fleece in hot water and dishsoap for a long time, in several rinses, using gloves because it was very hot water. (The bathroom smelled a lot like a barn for a few hours.)

And eventually, I had a big pile of relatively-clean fleece! The color changes between the pictures are quite accurately represented - there was a lot of dirt in there. This was all done on Friday night, and it's still drying in the bathroom, but I didn't bother to spread it out very carefully since I didn't mind it taking a few days. The climate here is so dry that I'm not worried about it mildewing at all. If it's dry by tonight or tomorrow night, I'll start carding some of it, and I'll spin up a bit for my class homework. This week we'll have our first lesson in spinning on a wheel, and then we'll get to take a wheel home for more practice. I can't wait to try it out!

In our next installment, we find a lot of new yarn, and our heroine encounters some challenging gauge problems...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New ideas

I realized not long after I posted about the happy pastel socks that just a few weeks ago I was filled with project-finishing resolve. Oops. But it would be too cruel to keep working exclusively on dark winter projects when the daffodils are blooming, wouldn't it?

I have actually been working on the wristlets, and should be able to finish the second one in the next day or so. The sock toes are both done and I'm wrestling with the two-socks-on-one-circ technique. Wrestling is really the appropriate word, since it takes me a bit of shoving and yanking to get everything lined up properly. I think they'll be cute socks, though.

And I've been mulling over yet another project, a big one... I think I need a lightweight cardigan. For summer, you know, something nicer than the Old Navy hoodie I usually keep on hand to combat excessive air-conditioning. I was poking around various websites looking for a pattern, and then realized, duh, I already have several cardigans on my "to make someday" list. I love the Mariah and Bristow patterns, but they seem like they'd be better in wool, and they look like they might take a while. Which leads me to... Eris. It's gorgeous, and after the tricky cable neckline it should go pretty fast, right? I'm thinking maybe Cotton Fleece is the right yarn, but I'm not sure, and of course there's the problem of color... maybe I'll branch out from my blue, blue, blue habits and use something extravagant like pink.

Warning: all of these knitting thoughts may go straight out the window after tomorrow's spinning class!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Socks, and more socks!

The Bearfoot socks are finished!

Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Lodgegrass. Pattern: Basketweave rib from "Sensational Knitted Socks," knit toe-up from a figure-8 toe with a short-row heel. Needles: 2.25mm Crystal Palace circular (magic loop technique), but I had to cast off the leg on a US#9! Verdict: best socks ever. I love the subtle colors, the perfect fit, the durable yet fuzzy yarn. I only wish that Bearfoot came in more colorways - the stuff at the LYS is gorgeous but it's all very dark and wintery.

And obviously, dark colors are not where I'm at right now, because I bought one skein of this KPPPM (100L) on Saturday when I went in to exchange some reinforcing thread. It's going to be a pair of ankle socks a la Alison, though I am once again making it into a toe-up pattern. In fact, that toe is my first short-row toe, made from Wendy's instructions. I'm going to knit two toes and then put them both on one needle and knit both socks at the same time, since I want to use the yarn as efficiently as possible. Normally I'm not such a pastel person but I can't help it, it's springtime!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


I wasn't originally planning to participate in this blog-meme. I don't have a yarn stash to compete with the more serious collectors out there, and it required dragging all the yarn out to take its picture. But then this arrived.

Yep, it's a swift and winder, purchased for super cheap at I set it up as soon as it arrived yesterday afternoon and since then I've wound, um, more than twenty yarn-cakes. It's hugely gratifying to take tangled messes of yarn and turn them into tidy little bundles. So, since I had to pull all the yarn out of storage anyway, I took pictures:

The fiber stash. Back row: Ashland Bay merino, brown alpaca, gray-green llama (Kelly), undyed Corriedale. Front row: cherry-strawberry-kool-aid Corriedale, kool-aid and plain Corriedale and a little of the merino, and Ashland Bay merino-tussah.

The sock and lace yarn. Back row: Trekking, Stahl Zimba Top, teal Cherry Tree Hill Supersock, Winterberry from Sunshine Yarns, four skeins of KPPPM, the leftover Rock Creek and Bearfoot, and a tiny bit of Koigu. Front: Misti Alpaca, KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud (stream, moss, autumn).

The yarn belonging to works in progress. Back: Douceur et Soie (Wrapped in Tradition from Wrap Style), Shetland/Gotland from Shilasdair (Paloma sweater). Middle: more Paloma. Front: cashmerino (Bonny), Shetland Spindrift (North Sea shawl).

And everything else. Most of it you can actually see the labels on; yes, that's Mission Falls cotton in the front, from the sale bin; a lot of teal Rowan 4ply Botany on the right (also on sale), which may someday become socks; the top left is all cashmerino odds & ends; and actually most of this is stuff left over from other projects. But I'm sure I'll find a use for it all someday.

And that's the tour of my yarn! Thanks for stopping by. I'm going to go take pictures of the newly finished Bearfoot socks, start in on that blue Koigu, and put away all this yarn. And have some lunch. Bye!