Have Ewe Any Wool?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Mailbox Runneth Over - both Knitty and Otherwise

When I arrived home today, I was greeted by a waist-high stack of packages - I LOVE days like this! Of course, one of the orders was a large volume of yarn from the "Yarn Girls" - so large in fact that it took not one, but two packages! Just a bunch of stuff that I "needed", nothing real fancy or unusual, so I didn't bother photographing that. That takes care of the first two packages in the stack....

The third package was the order containing my much needed "winter shoes" - both whimsical and practical. I LOVE Land's End - cute good quality outerwear. This year, I found that they had some boots in the "Thistle" color way - mainly purple with some blue! Wahoo! Then, on the practical side, I got the winter clogs and a pair of boots in black as well. (Of course, my FAVORITES are the purple ones, but black will go with anything.).

The fourth and totally unexpected package was from Mia - my SP from SP8! It was a tin chock full of totally decadent goodness. She's a fabulous baker and has treated me to an entire tin full of her home-baked "treasures"! I believe you can almost taste them just by looking at the picture! Thanks Mia! They're delicious!

Finally, some knitting news and progress updates. I have another pair of bed socks (Christmas gift) almost done - I'm halfway through the 2nd sock! However, I may play around with the toe finish as I'm not real pleased with how it looks. I think I'll try a different finish on the second toe. If I like it, I'll then tear out the first toe and re-do it. Decisions, decisions. I really need to make at least one more pair - possibly two - so I definitely have to make a final decision on the "toe finish".

Other than that, I'm planning to make a pair of fingerless gloves/gauntlets. They should be another quick project - and a much needed item as winter approaches! After that, I suppose I should get back to Mystery Stole 3 and finish that up. I'm also planning to start a Jane Slicer-Smith "Tally Ho Vest" in the "wine" color way of Merino Otto. I picked up the yarn for it yesterday at Nature's Yarns. It's going to be gorgeous!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Knitting Progress - Lilith is done!

I got a lot accomplished this weekend - including finishing one of the Christmas gifts on my "to-do" list! I feel like I can FINALLY get the holiday knitting under control! I think I can get everything that MUST get done finished....just in the nick of time.

I finished the Lilith - finally! The "Cranberry" colorway is absolutely perfect for the holidays! I just love the vibrant "pinky-red". It was nearly complete last weekend....I had started on the I-cord, but never really got around to completing it until this weekend. I did have a BOATLOAD of ends to weave in though - remember how the Louet Kid-Lin Pixie had MULTIPLE knots in the final skein? Geez - that was annoying! My only regret is that I'd decided to make the "shorter" version....and now, I'm thinking that maybe I should have made the longer version. It's still the perfect size to wear as a stole without the ties (above).

The Christmas gift I managed to finish was the pair of bed socks for my mom. She loved the ones I made her last year, and said she needed another pair - she wore the others ALL winter long and hated laundry day as that meant she'd have to do without until they were dry. She has no idea what this year's pair look like, and I can't post a photo here....she sometimes sneaks a peak at my blog just to see what I've been up to! BUT....you can check on Ravelry...I'll be posting the photo there since she doesn't have a Ravelry account!

SP11 - The Final Package
In other news, I've wrapped and packed the final package for my secret pal for SP11 - I'll be taking it out to the PO tomorrow! I hope she likes it - I tried to provide a variety of treats and yarn throughout the entire exchange.. I can't believe that SP11 is almost over....just 5 more days - then, I'll FINALLY be able to reveal myself!

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Black Friday" Spin In

Ah....no malls, no crowds. Just spinners and fiber animals at "aBUNdance Acres Farm"! What a fabulous way to spend the day! (You KNOW it's going to be a great day when there are fleeces on racks just outside the entrance door!)

Judy hosted a Spin-In in Hagerstown for those of us that DID NOT want to go anywhere near a mall or shopping center on this, the biggest shopping day of the year! Instead, we nestled into her comfortable home to spin, chat and eat. We all had a fabulous time!

Here's Daniella....spinning away on the Lendrum Saxony that she bought from Jo. It's an absolutely gorgeous wheel! I even got to try it out - it spins like a dream. I don't know how Jo could part with it...

Gretchen is spinning some luscious Blue Faced Leicester on her Suzy Pro. Hmmmm....somehow I forgot to ask if I could try it out - I guess I'll just have to wait till we get together to spin again - hopefully before too long!

Of course, there's are the wonderful fiber animals lurking about - LOTS of angora bunnies, some adorable sheep, and some ducks as well.

One of the bunnies, Rebecca, was extremely photogenic and seemed to "know it". The minute I took a shot of her, she moved from the back of the cage (left) and posed for a short series of "head shots" - what a ham!!!! (Check out her ears....love the fluff!)

See how she "loves" the camera?

Oh, and don't forget Judy's trusted companions - Tabitha (black) and Schloemoe (brown). They were absolutely adorable and very loving!

You know that with the bunnies and the angora, there was some fabulous dyed angora just waiting for a new home. Yes, I was weak and some jewel-toned angora somehow "worked its way" into my heart and came home with me. The colors are fabulous - I think you can see why they "had" to come home with me. Keep in mind that these photos do not show the fabulous shading of the pink...and the colors are much richer in person.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


We have so many things to be thankful for! I hope everyone took the time to reflect on all the wonderful things that life has brought - friends, family, and natural beauty.

We all get so caught up in our daily lives that we sometimes forget to look at the beauty that surrounds us. I was blessed with the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounded me on the ride out to our Tbanksgiving feast at my husband's grandmother's house.

Mema's home is about an hour away and the ride was absolutely beautiful! On the way, we were passed by a moving van....a Mayflower moving van - how funny is that???

Even though it's the latter part of November, only about half of the trees have lost their leaves. There is still quite a bit of color - especially in the maple trees. I managed to take quite a few shots of the mountains and the trees along the way.

The gorgeous trees in front of the Moose Lodge as we approached the turn for Mema's. You can barely make out the mountains in the background - it was getting a bit hazy. Finally, the gorgeous view of the mountains from Mema's porch - they're really hazy....the front was moving in bringing colder weather.

Of course, I did manage to get a bit of knitting in before dinner. I finished one of my mom's bedsocks...and I hope to finish the second one tomorrow. (Sorry. No pictures as I want them to be a surprise!) Ideally, I'd like to make her yet another pair, but I'll have to work on that after all my other obligations are complete! I plan to attend a "spin-in" tomorrow near Hagerstown so I may not get to the second sock until I get back home that evening.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Drum Carder Saga....the Final Chapter

Hmmmmm....what different customer experiences I've had dealing with the Post Office and Otto Strauch - the designer and craftsman of the Strauch Drum Carder. Otto was very responsive and provided exceptional customer service! The PO did not and was a bit frustrating to deal with.

The PO was VERY slow in processing the insurance claim for replacing the handle of the drum carder that had been broken in shipping - see the Oct. 5 and Oct. 12 posts for more information. It took additional phone calls to finally get the ball rolling. The original estimate had been 1 1/2 weeks to process my claim and provide a money order, but that morphed into a much longer length of time. Keep in mind that the claim I filed was very small and was for a significantly smaller amount than full replacement!

The original "slow-down" was due to the PO request for the OTHER half of the insurance receipt - they already had the part that was attached to the box I received. I'd been unable to obtain the other half from the sender, and I tried for a couple of weeks. I finally gave up trying and called the PO to let them know I was unable to attain the other half (it doesn't seem plausible that I should expect the sender to retain it and have it available for me...after all, I did have the proper insurance sticker complete with numbers attached to the box.). I made 3 phone calls before FINALLY getting their commitment to finally send the money order for the claim. Whew! I received the MO in the mail today - yeah!!!!

Contrast this with the exceptional customer service I received from Otto - the designer and manufacturer of the Strauch Drum Carder. He was INCREDIBLE!!! In spite of being an extremely busy man attending and demonstrating his carder at numerous fiber festivals, he IMMEDIATELY responded to my e-mail and spoke with me in person about my repair needs and gave me pointers on checking the over-all "health" of my carder and reminded me that they're guaranteed for life and if I have ANY problems with it to contact him right away.

When I saw him at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival (I swear he goes to ALL the fiber fests - I told you he was busy!!!), he said I should have received the replacement part already as he'd sent it out earlier that week. Additionally, he offered tips on keeping his product in prime working condition and tutored me on how to adjust the drums - they should spin silently as they mesh together. (The new handle HAD already arrived at my home, so it was waiting for me when I returned from NY!)

I am absolutely THRILLED with the care, attention, and customer service that I received from Otto! If you're considering a drum carder, I highly recommend purchasing one from Otto - they're built well, are of high quality, work like a dream, have a fabulous guarantee, and the customer service can't be beat!

BEFORE (left) and AFTER (right)

Oct 5 - Received damaged package from the PO E-mailed Otto at Strauch Equipment to ask about repairs/replacements. Received immediate response from Otto complete with price quote.
Oct 6 - Spoke with Otto at Mt. Pelier - indicated he'd already replied, graciously explained his replacement process, and tutored me on the use and care of his product. AND re-emphasized the lifetime guarantee!
Oct 11 - Filed official insurance claim for actual damages and shipping - a fraction of the actual value of the product.
Oct 12 - PO contacted me to request the other half of the insurance receipt I mailed the broken crank handle to Otto and provided the PO with the shipping receipt to be added to my claim. I e-mailed the seller for the first time asking for receipt as per the PO request.
Oct. 15 - Otto received the broken crank handle required for matching the threading to ensure proper placement of the handle when the seam of the drum carder is facing up.
Oct. 16 - I e-mailed the seller a second time asking for receipt Otto shipped replacement part back to me
Oct. 18 - Replacement handle arrived at my home
Oct. 20 - Spoke with Otto at NY Sheep and Wool - found out my replacement handle was ALREADY waiting for me!
Oct. 29 - I e-mailed the seller a third and final time asking for receipt
Nov. 6 - I called the PO to speak with the original claims rep. who was out
of the office for the week. I left a message with another employee
for the supervisor and was told they'd call me back.
Nov. 8 - After patiently waiting and NOT receiving a call, I called again. I was then told that the reason they didn't call back was because the original claims person had the paperwork and they couldn't do anything until they returned. The would be back the Tuesday after Veteran's Day.
Nov. 14 - Called again. This time, I was told the claims person was out this entire week as well and may or may not be back the following week. At this point, I'm VERY frustrated!!!! I explain my situation and am transferred to the supervisor.
The supervisor listened to my "saga", and said she'd need some
time to check into it and would call me back - probably the next day.
Nov. 15 - The supervisor called me back....we discussed the claim, she found the paperwork, and tells me she'll get the MO sent out to me. FINALLY!!!
Nov. 16 - The long awaited money order arrived today - Yeah!!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nature's Yarns

The "Grand Opening" of Nature's Yarns was a great success. Demos, fashion shows, food, and all that yarn! What a wonderful day! One should ALWAYS celebrate the opening of a new yarn shop - more creative inspirations....and more opportunities to purchase "the perfect yarn"! Here's Amy....ready to conquer the fiber world! Congratulations!

Lynn stocking and arranging yarns...the count-down to opening begins.

The "Spinning Nook" - Lynn's fabulous wheels and drop spindles - even a "dressed" flax wheel - gorgeous!

Tiffany looking a bit serious....only one minute to go! Now where should these shawls go?

A view towards the rear of the store - a nice comfy spot to relax, knit, and chat. And check out Georgia - she LOVES the camera!

Amy with Pamela, the first-ever customer of the store! This is definitely a picture we need to get framed!

A view towards the front of the store - lots of happy shoppers. Elizabeth is taking advantage of the comfy chairs to work on her hubby's sweater. This little nook was jammed with knitters throughout the day - knitting away, laying out potential purchases, and perusing the books and patterns.

And of course, everyone needed to keep their strength up...whether shopping or working - check out this fabulous spread! Gretchen's personal favorite was the chicken salad sandwiches....boy were they good!

Team Knitting with Sue.

And Georgia - front and center showing her knitting skills! She was so anxious to be part of the team knitting! What enthusiasm!

Cat is a fabulous teacher and has Amy spinning like a pro on the drop spindle.

Lynn tutored Amy and several others on the finer points of needle felting. On the far left, you can see Georgia's hand holding the needle felted "purple piggie" that Lynn had made. It's adorable!

And finally, we have the "cute picture of the day - "Cookie" with the hand knit sweater (made by "daddy" - Jim) and the rhinestone collar (made by "mommy" - Cheryl). Definitely a well-dressed and well-loved pet!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Spinning and Knitting Progress - Yes...There Was Some!

Even with all my travels and festivals, I have managed to get some knitting and spinning done. Not as much as I'd planned, of course, but I have made progress. I finished spinning some roving from my stash AND finished knitting another pair of socks.

The Solitude Socks I started during "Soctoberfest" are finally done. I'd started on the second sock while I was in NY and was really puzzled as to why the top of the cuff looked so different from the cuff of the first sock. Not puzzled enough to "really" look at it and figure out why, but just enough to casually note that it was different. I continued to "blindly" knit the cuff. I was on a mission to get the sock done...during October!

When I returned to VA, I continued working on the cuff at my spinning group. The cuff was almost done and STILL looked a bit off. Suddenly, it dawned on me! I had combined the instructions for two separate sock patterns for the first sock....BUT I neglected to combine them in the SAME way for the second sock! I normally do "Hellen's Favorite Socks" in a 3x1 rib for a good basic sock....but this time, I decided I wanted a folded cuff - and decided to to a 2x2 rib. So, for the first sock, I did the 2x2 rib - BUT the second sock was started as a 3x1 rib - comfortably settling into my "standard" cuff style! That's why the cuffs looked soooo different! Geez....what a bonehead! I had to frog the whole cuff on the second sock and redo it the proper way - as a 2x2 rib! I definitely took the long route to completing these socks...but now they're done...and I have another finished object and one less UFO!

The past week or so, I also managed to fit in a bit of spinning. I spun up the deep maroon Dorset that I purchased from Amondale Farm at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival in 2006.
I love the color - a deep rich maroon with some dark purple blended in to give the resulting yarn some depth. However, I found that I'm really not fond of spinning it. The Dorset was very tough to spin evenly and tended to stick to itself. Perhaps the stickiness was from too much lanolin left in the wool. When I "snuggled" the yarn, I found it to be a bit on the scratchy side as well - definitely not something I'd want directly against my skin. I'm thinking it would make a great felted bag or some other type of accessory....perhaps a needle roll?