Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

American Folk Life Festival

This year's American Folk Life Festival in Washington, DC was extra special - my DD was here to share it with me! We met my friend Mia and her mom on the Mall and spent the day checking out the exhibits and trying to "stay cool". It was so incredibly hot that day, but somehow, we survived.

I took tons of photos and hope to have them posted soon - I'll put a link to them **HERE** as soon as they're posted. This year, the festival covered Bhutan, Texas, and NASA. I didn't bother with the Texas display as they had very few displays. I spent most of my time at the Bhutan displays - lots of crafts, cooking, and fiber arts. The NASA display was awesome as well.

At the festival, Mia gave me the most awesome birthday presents - a handwoven bag (isn't it gorgeous!) with some purple hemp yarn nestled inside. The hemp is perfect for making the "green" shopping bags - it's sturdy and like linen, softens with use. The most incredible gift was the pair of socks that she knit for me - how cool it that?!?! They fit perfectly! The colors are perfect....and the time she spent making them - wow....do I feel special! Thanks sooooo much Mia!

That evening, I caught the most incredible looking sunset. All day, we'd been threatened by thunder storms, and there was quite a thick cloud cover. At sundown, some of the clouds formed a "shelf" and beautifully reflected the sun. I LOVE the colors!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wahoo! The Shawl is FINISHED!

Last week was a great week for me. I FINALLY finished the purple and green wool shawl out of "Loopy" from Dancing Leaf Farm. It's loopy mohair, so it has a really nice sheen....the hand-dyed colors are so vibrant! I finished fringing the shawl on Saturday - I was so happy! This is the same shawl I'd started multiple times and really didn't like the shape/size or "look" of it with the needle size I used. I settled on a size 13 circular needle - I love the resulting the drape of the fabric and the final size of the shawl. I finished the top edge of the shawl with a single crochet to make it a bit more stable.

I also got to see my friend's finished shawl. Kathleen wove this on the large triangle loom at Nature's Yarns and then knitted on a lace edge. I think it's absolutely gorgeous! I LOVE the final shawl - the edging really sets it off. Great job Kathleen!

My friend Paula stopped by last Wednesday bringing me a wonderful surprise - 3 little hedgies to "guard" my flowers on my front steps. I'm not sure if I'll leave them there or if I'll move them to my deck so they can "guard" the tomatoes! I LOVE hedgies!

On Thursday, four of us from the Reston SnB met for "dinner, knitting, and a movie". We had a wonderful dinner at Clyde's - Wild Salmon was one of their specials - mmmmm! Then it was off to the cinema with our knitting bags in tow to knit during the opening credits and previews. We had a fabulous time watching "Sex and the City" - we laughed, we cried, we knit! Last Friday was the "Stitch and Pitch" at National's Stadium - unfortunately, I couldn't work that into my schedule.

Oh...and my mom finally sent me a tracing of her foot so I can use it as a pattern when I make more bed socks for her! She's already worn out the ones I made her this past Christmas and requested another pair. I was already planning to make her a pair as "Part III" of her Mother's Day gifts.

Remember "Part II" of Mother's day? I sent her the knitted wash cloths and soap sacks all wrapped up in the same box that I sent dad's Father's Day gifts....she was ALL excited when she felt the package and was SURE that they were the bed socks she'd asked for. I reminded her that she promised to send me a tracing of her foot so I could gauge the length better. Guess what!?! She sent me the tracing right away - now I've started on her latest pair of bed socks in Suri Merino by Plymouth. I hope to have them completed by the time I visit mom and dad in mid July - she'll be so happy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Vacation Question - Secret Pal 12

My favorite part of summer vacation when I was a kid was going to the pool to swim - I LOVED swimming! I was never very good at it, but I loved it none the less. I took swimming lessons nearly every summer and managed to get all my certifications up through Red Cross First Aid and Jr. Lifesaving. Oh, the memories!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Celtic Festival

The weather was quite hot and humid at the Celtic Festival on Saturday, but not nearly as bad as the previous weekend. This weekend, you could breathe! At 11:30, Amy and two of her friends performed "In the Bardic Tradition" - I've missed their performances in the past, so I committed to being there this year!

While watching Amy's performance (The Bardic Tradition) as well as the performance of "The Bog Band", I managed to work in some "knitting in public". The band played many traditional Irish marches and reels. Then, at 11:30, I was off to the workshop tent to hear tales and songs in "The Bardic Tradition" - it was fabulous! Lynn joined me at the workshop tent to listen to Amy and her group while she did some knitting on a gorgeous lace shawl. Jo showed off a really cool "4th of July" sock that she's currently working on - she's using a Sockotta Yarn that knits up into red and white stripes and then a section of blue with white stars. She's on her second sock, so they'll definitely be done by the 4th!

The afternoon was "interrupted" with a major thunderstorm....we all huddled under the workshop tent....trying to stay dry as the wind whipped the rain sideways. The torrential rains caused the Irish and Scotch Gaelic workshop to last longer than they'd planned, but none of us were bothered by that. It was a fascinating discussion that we truly didn't want to end! I'm almost glad that the rains came as I hadn't initially planned to attend that workshop!

Next, the fiddlers played. I was quite intrigued by the difference between the Irish songs and the Scottish songs - they really are distinctive! I think my favorite piece that they played was "Scotland the Brave". Although it's traditionally a bagpipe song, it sounded wonderful on the trio of fiddles!

I managed to get a few photos before the rains started. The first two photos show some of the members of Amy's group in their stone age garb as well as some wonderful naturally dyed skeins of yarn. The next two photos show the Romans - it was their first year participating. Check out their leather tent!

I totally forgot to take photos of the folks that Jo, Lynn and I taught to drop-spindle spin! Oh, well - you'll just have to trust me that both the students and the instructors had a good time!

Oh...I found out that another new yarn shop has opened nearby (Wahoo!) It's called, "With Yarn in Front" and is located in Centreville. I haven't been able to check it out yet - it just opened on Saturday. Jo told me about it - and she was even their first customer!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And Now for Some Knitting Updates

I "thought" I'd finished the shawl out of "Loopy" from Dancing Leaf Farm, but that was before I took it off the needles and put it on waste yarn. It's MUCH too short and MUCH too dense....and a bit on the wide side (left - before ripping it out). So, it was back to the drawing board as I gently ripped it out to start again. This time, I'm doing it on a size 13 - that should make it loose enough to please me....and also allow for the length I want (initial progress - right).

This time, I'm armed with Enid's tip about knitting part of it off onto another size 13 and laying it out with the shawl across both needles so I can look at the total length without creating more work for myself! No time wasted with waste yarn and no guessing! At this point, I'm just over 1/2 way done.....I'm only doing a couple of rows per day, but I should be done with the knitting later this week.

I finally took photos of the wash cloths and soap sacks that I made for my mom. Yes, it WAS part of her Mother's Day Gifts...but I didn't get them in the mail until last Wednesday when I sent dad's Father's Day Gift. Mom was thrilled with the gifts and loves the stitching of the wash cloths and the scent of the soaps. (Pattern - Fiber Trends "Bathing Beauties")

HOWEVER.....she THOUGHT that I'd been "tricky" and sent her a new pair of bed socks with a single sock in two separate packages with "something hard" (the soap) packed with them to keep her from recognizing them as socks! LOL! I really DID trick her as neither were bed socks after all! I do plan to make her another pair of bed socks as she's worn out the previous pair. However, I still need the "tracing" of her foot that she'd promised to send!

I finally settled on a color for my Goddess Knits Mystery shawl - "Peacock". It's a deep teal (I love teal.....and it's a nice change from my usual obsession with purple!!!) The fiber is the Zephyr 50% Merino/50% silk lace weight yarn - I just love the sheen!

Oh, Deer!

Sorry about the play on words, but we happened to find a deer during one of our dog walks this past week. In fact, the whole week has been a reminder of how beautiful and diverse our natural surroundings are. Keep in mind, I live in the suburbs in a subdivision.....but we have some a small smattering of natural meadows and small groves of trees nestled in among all the homes. This brings the beauty of nature to our back yards.....literally!

Above are photos of the deer we encountered on the dog walk (click on the photos for a closer view). Sandy (my shepherd-husky mix) is quite intrigued by the "interesting creature". I'm suspecting that she thinks it's a funny looking dog....and wants to meet it!

A couple of days after that, we discovered what we believe is a snapping turtle nestled under our downspout in the back yard. (Of course, I didn't let Sandy get close enough to determine if it was a "snapper" or not!)

I also managed to capture some lovely photos of the roses from my second rose bush - I LOVE the color of these....a coral-pink. I've taken a closeup of the one - I just love it! Although both roses bloomed at about the same time the first one matured quicker than the other - as you can see in the second photo.

Next post.....back to knitting/spinning. I just thought it would be nice to celebrate nature for a change.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

How are YOU planning to celebrate "International Knit In Public Day"?

Today is "International Knit in Public Day". How are you planning to celebrate?

I will celebrating by attending the Potomac Celtic Festival at Morvan Park in Leesburg. I'll be enjoying the bards, the fabulous music, living history displays, and all the other festivities. While enjoying some of the shows, I'll be knitting on my latest pair of socks. Hopefully it won't be too hot - it's not overly enjoyable to knit when it's 90 degrees in the shade!

I'll finish the day teaching a drop-spindle spinning workshop at the festival with a few of my friends. It should be a lot of fun! This is the 3rd year I've done it...and I really look forward to it! I always have a great time!

If you're in the Reston/Herndon area, the very friendly girls of the Reston SnB are planning to meet at 11 am by the Fountain in Reston Town Center for a few hours of "Knitting in Public". Bring your knitting and join them! They're a very welcoming bunch - you'll enjoy it!

If you're not in the area, check out your local paper or LYS to see if there are any events in your area....or better yet, put together your own celebration!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Favorite Summertime Drink

Hmmm...the hostesses for SP12 want to know my favorite summertime drink. I'd have to say it's water - definitely quenches the thirst and is low-cal too! However, I do love a nice ice cold glass of freshly brewed iced tea as well - especially raspberry or peach flavored. Mmmmmm!

Monday, June 09, 2008

SP12 Questionnaire

I've posted the answers to my SP12 questionnaire here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June is Starting Off Great!

First off, I've nearly finished knitting my shawl out of "Loopy" - my big challenge now is to figure out at what point to quit knitting and then add the fringe. The circs I'm knitting with are only 24", so I can't "try on" the shawl to see if it's done or not. I have two choices: slip the whole thing off onto scrap yarn and try it on....OR....do a calculation as the to width of the shawl vs. my desired size.

Secondly, I've signed up for the Goddess Knits Mystery Shawl KAL - hopefully, I'm better at that than I was with Mystery Stole 3 - which is STILL a UFO. I guess I still can't get past the "wing design"....and if I don't do a wing, I'll have to graft 90 some stitches together. (I'm not a very good grafter either!) The shawl from Goddess Knits is a Pi shawl.....I've never made one of those, so I'm pretty excited about doing that!

Next, I've finished off the soap sacks and wash cloths for my mom - FINALLY! They were actually finished a couple of weeks ago, I wove in the ends on Memorial Day weekend, and finally NOW, I've added the satin ribbon. The soap scents I chose for her are "Blueberry" and "Lily of the Valley" - they are yummy! Both are handcrafted soaps from Penn Oak Farm. I personally always buy their "Oatmeal" soap every year at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. (Photo to be added later).

Finally, on Sunday, I managed to grab a few hours of knitting with some friends at Panera once again. Gretchen had a fabulous new game that we were attempting to play, but I got called away before we could get it all sorted out. It's called "Shear Panic". I did find an interesting web video about the game - it shows the reviewer and the creators of the game discussing "how to play" - too cute! They're all dressed in kilts!

Additionally, I was getting a tutorial from Elizabeth on her fabulous sfghan she's making out of left over sock yarn. I LOVE it! I caught Elizabeth in a very funny mood....and she hid behind her blanket as I snapped the first photo - what a ham! In the second photo, you can see some of the "Shear Panic" game pieces "lounging comfortably" on her blanket! I took several photos of her Elizabeth's blanket as well as a close-up or two of a square "in progress". I'm hoping to post more about it in the near future - perhaps as somewhat of a tutorial....with her permission, of course! It's such an ingenious design - there are no ends to weave in when you're done! She had some special "tricks" that she uses to virtually eliminate the finishing! She has NOT blocked this at all and you can see how nice and flat it lies....incredible!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Fibery Finish to the Month

The last week of May was great! Lots of fiber fun.

Last Sunday, a whole group of us got together for lunch and knitting at Panera - it was fabulous! Elizabeth, Lisa, Susan, Sue, Karen, Catherine, Jill, Pamela, and me. The cashier, Eric, even joined us when he got off shift. His girlfriend is a knitter and taught him....so he had his project in the car and joined us! The weather and the company were absolutely perfect.

Elizabeth's latest felted bag was fabulous! Jill and I both loved it, so Elizabeth graciously jotted down her pattern/design for us. Now we too can make an "Elizabeth Original"! I wish I'd taken a picture....how did I forget that?

When I first got there, Elizabeth and I quickly celebrated our birthdays by exchanging presents. Yeah, I know, its not the correct month, but we had such a hard time coordinating our get-together that we decided to celebrate between our birthdays. She found the cutest hedge-hog goodies for me and created one for me as well! (Missing from the picture - the patterns she gave me...they're already filed in my pattern notebook.)

This little hedgie doubles as a pin cushion - specifically for pins needed for sewing garments together - which she also crafted! Isn't he absolutely adorable? I love him!

And that's not all! All the gifts were contained within a hand-crafted bag - in the perfect color way - purples! It's crocheted in #10 cotton...yes, the tiny stuff. The stitches are so small - definitely a labor of love. Thanks so much Elizabeth!

On Memorial Day, several of us went to Uniquities for their annual sale. Wow! Talk about a fabulous sale - nearly every skein of yarn was on sale - anywhere from 10% to 50% off! It was definitely a knitter's and crocheter's heaven. Needless to say, I did find several items that I just HAD to have. I promised DH that I would only purchase yarn for specific projects....and I kept my promise! You would not believe how many projects I found I needed to do - LOL! Seriously, though, I found a number of great deals on yarn for felted bags and for Christmas scarves, so I do have specific projects slated for all the yarns I purchased.

Wednesday was our monthly knitting guild meeting. That was a lot of fun as well - it always is. Everyone is so enthusiastic and has such wonderful projects. The inspirations are endless! My friend, Jo Anne, just finished this fabulous vest out of Twizzle - it's gorgeous! The pattern is the "Now and Then Vest" from Mountain Colors and the colorway is appropriately names, "Firestorm" - I LOVE the vibrant colors!

I even managed to work in some spinning this past week! I finished spinning the first of 4 bags of some roving I purchased at the Montpelier Fiber Fest last fall. The roving is a gorgeous mix of purples and greys. After plying it, I found that the colors blend together very nicely and create a lot of depth in the yarn - this picture doesn't quite capture all of the subtle contrasts, but it still shows the general effect.

I've started a shawl in "Loopy" from Dalis at Dancing Leaf Farm. It's just the basic triangular shawl in stockinette stitch. The yarn is a hand dyed loopy mohair in an absolutely gorgeous colorway - created by Dalis, of course! The deep purples and greens remind me of Irises from my mom's garden. My friend Lynn says it reminds her of Martha's Vineyard. Either way, the colors are beautiful and bring to mind the beauty of nature itself. The closeup of the yarn ball and the edge of the shawl really shows off the sheen of the mohair.