Have Ewe Any Wool?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Moosie Is On It's Way!

Wahoo! Just got a message from Sheila Bosworth that my Moosie has been packaged and shipped and is winging it's way to me! The Moosie is just one of the fabulous spindles that Jonathan and Sheila craft at Journey Wheel. A Moosie is a hand crafted top whirl drop spindle designed and crafted by the Bosworths from real moose antlers. The antlers used are FOUND on the ground when the moose has shed his antler(s) and are NOT removed from live mooses. As a result, each Moosie is very unique and has it's own color and "signature" from it's natural origins.

I had added my name to the Moosie waiting list way back in mid-June 2007...with about 110 people ahead of me and an estimated START time of April 2008. I was absolutely thrilled to death when I got an offer in January to be bumped up! Good things DO happen to those who wait! Now I have to come up with a cute name for my Moosie....hmmmmm.

I've also signed up for March Sweater Madness! The goal is to finish a sweater in a month. I saw a post about this on Javajem's blog and thought this would be a fabulous way for me to get over the hump of NOT finishing a sweater. Peer pressure can do wonders! You can sign up too if you hurry - just go to the Sweet Sheep and sign up!

While I was reading Javajem's latest posts, I noticed here latest finished object - a stunning sweater, the Ariann. I am adding it to my ever expanding queue of "must do" projects. It's really gorgeous!

The Norwegian Ambassador

I had a fabulous time last evening as a guest of the Norwegian Ambassador and his wife at their residence in Washington, DC. It was a reception to thank me and everyone else who helped out with the Norwegian Bazaar at Union Station this past December. DH was invited as well. It was a wonderful experience and I was absolutely thrilled and honored to be invited.


Above left - me, Cecelia(the Ambassador's wife), Wegger (the Norwegian Ambassador), and my DH. Above right - my friends Melanie, Dave, and Ellen.

The food was absolutely fabulous! The Chef was also Norwegian and is Culinary Arts trained. She was very friendly as well as immensely talented. Photo on left - the Chef is holding the smoked salmon...oh, my was that good! Photo on right - a server circulating the delicious Krumcake. They also served a fabulous cooked salmon (DH's favorite), baby quiches, and a very tasty garlic and herb shrimp.

Of course, the presentation of the food was exquisite as well. The Chef really out did herself with a couple of very delicious taste treats. On the left is caviar, but it's presented as a picture - sour cream on the bottom herbs to form a flower stem, and chopped mild onion or cabbage for "flowers" all on a background of orange caviar all adorning a delicate bread base. It was FABULOUS! I normally don't care much for caviar, but this was not overly "fishy" tasting nor was it overly salty - it was perfect! The taste treat on the right was a very smoky slice of reindeer on a multigrain bread. It too was very tasty as well as nice and lean. I believe it would be a good diet alternative to beef...it appears to contain much less fat.

We were also served numerous desserts in addition to the Krumcake.
There were raspberry tarts, some heart shaped and square berry confections - one made from Lingonberries and the other from Cloudberries. The Chef told me the Cloudberries are a yellow berry similar to raspberries, only yellow in color and it's available in the north countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden. They are also found in Northern Canada...and other colder climates. There were also some absolutely delightful macaroons - hot from the oven! They were very tasty - light and delicious.

Finally, here's just a few random shots in the dining room and the salon. It was very elegant, yet remained a warm and welcoming environment. The Ambassador and his wife were fabulous hosts - their wit and warmth definitely contributed to the cozy atmosphere.


Monday, February 25, 2008

My New Blankie!

Sunday, we trekked out to Front Royal to visit my DH's grandma, aka Mema, and his parents. We had lunch and a nice visit. Then I got a fabulous surprise. Mema used to crochet afghans and she still has many of them - they're all gorgeous!

Much to my surprise, my MIL told me that Mema had one of them earmarked for me! I was absolutely thrilled! As a crafter myself, I truly treasure handmade items. When we located the afghan, I discovered it was purple! Wahoo! It's deep purple (it looks blue in the photo), lilac, and white with deep purple edging. I LOVE IT!!!!


Mema recalled that I was "absolutely crazy about purple", so she decided I definitely needed to have the purple afghan. I felt soooo special! I've already used it too - I took it to yoga last night to snuggle under for Savasana. There's nothing that more comforting than a handmade blankie! Thanks Mema!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weaving!

Saturday, I took a weaving class from Linda Witt of Misty Mountain Farm. The class was held at Nature's Yarns, so I didn't have to drive all the way out to Linda's farm - though I LOVE trekking out there! It's just beautiful! The Tri-loom is a triangular loom with nails on all 3 sides - the process is similar to how we all wove pot holders as children with one major exception. You're working with the warp and the weft at the same time - and there's no edge finishing required! (However, most of us opted for the chain stitch at the top edge to give it a reinforced edge.)

There were only 4 of us in the class, so it was almost like having a private lesson...especially since one of the other students was a good friend of mine, Gretchen. One student left early on, so in the end, there were only 3 of us plus Linda.

I had originally selected a turquoise and blue multi-colored yarn from Blue Heron Yarns to weave with. However, Gretchen selected a gorgeous variegated yarn in browns and earth tones from Scarlet Fleece. Of course, since I'm no longer on a yarn diet, I had to "second guess" my choice as well....and I selected a variegated blue yarn. On the left is a "progress shot" of my partially completed project.



Sharon's yarn of choice was double stranded - one strand of her hand spun with one strand of a sock type yarn. It made a gorgeous pattern and a nice thick cloth (photo on the left). The woven cloth with the Scarlet Fleece yarn produced a very open weave - I really like the density of Sharon's project.



Linda used a Louet boucle for her project (photo on the right). It produced a VERY thick cloth, so after weaving about 4 inches, she decided to weave using "every other nail". You can see the difference in density between the top corners and the midpoint on the sides.

Needless to say, there was a lot of giggling and chatting while we wove. It was quite easy once we got started. The tricky part was getting it started. I was the remedial student as I had to start mine twice before I got it right - LOL! Gretchen was the standout as she managed to completely finish her triangle in class. Here, she's putting a chained edge on the top of her shawlette/scarf.

The small 3' Tri-loom makes a triangle that's about the size of a kerchief you'd wear on your head. It will also go around your neck as a neckerchief that you could secure with a pin. I think I'd prefer the larger 7' loom - it can be adjusted so I can make a 3' triangle OR a 7' triangle - perfect for a shawl. I'm not sure I like how open the weave is on my finished scarf/shawlette - I think next time, I'll definitely go with a thicker yarn.

On the knitting front, I've finished the first Colinette sock in the Fruit Coulis colorway. Each side of the sock looks very different. I do like it though...and I like how the foot of the sock turned out as well. Here's a view of each side so you can see the difference. Amazing!









I've just started the second sock...and I've got my fingers crossed that it will turn out with approximately the same patterning and pooling.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Finished Object....Plus MORE on the Needles

Geez.....one project down and another "jumped" onto the needles....even before I finished the latest one. I'll start with the finished object - A Retro Cloche Stash Hat from "Knit on the Net" by "Just call me Ruby".

This hat really worked up fast! I started it on Sunday night and finished it up on Monday morning! I made it from Elle Elite DK - a 50%wool/50% cotton blend. I love how the brim rolls up. (Sorry...my photos don't really show the hat well....you'll have to refer to the link above for a better photo of the finished hat.) The only thing I have left to do is find a fabulous ribbon tie!









I finally started a pair of socks using the Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn. It's a 4-ply superwash Merino wool yarn that's beautifully dyed and comes in a fabulous range of colors. I've purchased my stash at several different yarn shops but did pick up some of my colors at Nature's Yarns. This particular color way is called "Fruit Coulis". They have lots of lovely color ways currently in stock - yum!

The interesting this with these socks is that I started knitting them on size 0's with 64 stitches, but decided that it would make very dense socks. The colors forming a 1 cm spiral around the cuff - which I dearly loved, so it was hard to "rip them back" and try them on a larger needle. I wish I'd taken a picture of the original attempt on the size 0's for contrast)

I opted to try the US 1 1/2 needles and cast on 56 stitches. I definitely did NOT like the look of my sock on those - a full half of the sock (pretty much straight up the cuff) was the darker purple....and one half had the mottled coloring.

Back to the frog pond I went. After ripping them back, I cast on 56 stitches using US 1 double points. I like the result much better. Not as much as the original look that I had when I used the 0's, but it will suffice. There's still quite a bit of "pooling", but at least it's forming somewhat of a design in the process - a definite "zig-zag". I want to finish the first sock to see what it will look like before I make my final decision and commit to doing the second sock the same way.









I made it to Reston SnB again last Wednesday. As always, I had an absolutely fabulous time. There were probably about 16 or 17 of us there last week - and EVERYONE was so friendly! The variety of projects that are in process with a group of that size is inspiring - that's where I truly "fell in love" with the "Irish Hiking Scarf". (Christine had shown me hers a couple of weeks ago...and that's all it took!) I definitely make a point of joining them when I can't make it to the Wednesday night Yoga sessions! I've even been able to reconnect with some folks that I haven't seen for a long time! Oh....and "Happy Birthday" to Marie...the wonderful organizer of the group!

On Monday, "The-Yarn-Obsessed" got together for lunch and knitting to celebrate "President's Day". If you live in Northern VA, you might want to join "The-Yarn-Obsessed" yahoo group - we try to get together occasionally to knit/crochet and eat. Most often, though, we use the board to talk about upcoming fiber events, new

About 8 of us invaded the Panera in Herndon on Monday - quite a lively group! I'm very envious of Elizabeth - she's started her "Wool Peddlers Shawl" (from the book, "Folk Shawls"). My "shawl" is still a "Project-in-Waiting"! I WILL get to it one day soon...I promise! Susan was working on some "Hedera" socks from the Spring 06 issue of Knitty. The pattern is really lovely - now I want to make a pair of those too! I can't remember what everyone else was working on, but I remember lusting after the yarn that both Anita and Sue were knitting with! And I LOVED the vest that Gretchen had completed....it's part angora....yummy!!!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!


Today is such a beautiful day! It's in sharp contrast to the results of the freezing rain and ice that we all woke up to yesterday morning! I love how the ice looks, but really hate the after effects - slick roads and sidewalks.

I started the day by opening my fabulous swap package from my Ravelry Valentine's partner - Sunmoon (Fern). Thanks so much! There are so many goodies that I don't know where to begin. The yarns are absolutely gorgeous! She must have known that I really have a thing for mohair! I just love the red - it's the perfect shade!

In addition to the yarn, she sent three wonderful patterns - thanks! There were also tons of fabulous "Valentines" treats: chocolates, candles, heartshaped candle holder, a really cool heart shaped bottle, and an awesome mug with a heart design. AND....she also included both tea and coffee so I can "test out" my new mug. AND...yes, there's more...she included a treat for my doggie - Sandy. As you can see, Sandy was quite intrigued by the doggie treats....and VERY anxious for me to open them for her!














My Valentine's Day "spoiling" continued....with lovely purple tulips from DH as well as an adorable stuffed "Pepe Le Pew" that speaks with a French accent when you squeeze his little foot. He's just too cute for words! We finished the day with a lovely meal at the Blue Iguana - they always have a fabulous menu for Valentine's Day and today was no exception.

My DH definitely treats me very well...I feel very fortunate! I gave him a few treats as well, so he was definitely not neglected. My favorite surprise for him were these cute little heart shaped brownies - I think I overfilled a couple of the "brownie cups". Of course, after tonight's dinner, he was way too full to enjoy them, but tomorrow's another day. Perhaps a "breakfast brownie" to start his day out right????

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Progress.....NOT!




ARGH! I was making such good progress on the Irish Hiking Scarf! At nearly 35 inches, and just a bit to go on the 3rd ball of yarn, I was ALMOST 3/4 of the way done. Time for joy and happiness, right?





Wrong. Silly me neglected to keep to the pattern on the last four stitches in five, yes, count them, five places.
I kept looking at the edges of the front of the scarf and thought that a few places looked a bit "odd". I chalked it up to "fresh knitting" that's just not quite laying rights. I FINALLY looked at the back of the scarf last night and found that I need to rip back about 2/3 of what I've done because the edging is not right! ARGH! I probably would have "let it slide" had I not made the SAME mistake all 5 times....and once, it was for multiple rows - a VERY noticeable error. UGH.

Needless to say, all my excitement has vanished. Plans to finish the scarf by the weekend are now gone. I'm putting the scarf in time out for an evening or two. I can't rip out "fresh stitches"....I have to let them "age"....LOL! Lessons learned: Always check BOTH sides of your work....and if it "feels" like something is not quite right, then it probably isn't!

All is not lost though...I did make progress on another WIP. I nearly panicked yesterday when someone mentioned Mystery Stole 4 (MS4). I'm not even done with Mystery Stole 3 (MS3)! Luckily, MS4 will not be starting until very late summer/early fall. Thank goodness! So, since I've put the scarf in "time out", I decided that I'd better get in gear and work some more rows of MS3. I had MUCH better luck with MS3 and completed 10 new rows!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Projects!

Of course, I can't finish one or two projects and have that be it. No, not me. Do you think I'll be inspired to tackle a couple of my UFO's that have been languishing for varied amounts of time? No. What about starting one of the MANY "Projects in Waiting"? Again....no.

Instead, I decide to add two NEW projects to my queue and quickly purchase all the materials to work on them! The first is the Irish Hiking Scarf. I started that one last night. I'm using a nice deep teal Merino Otto 8-ply Merino (worsted weight). I took the photo on the left last night (after I finished the first ball of yarn). As of tonight, I'm halfway done - the scarf will take 4 skeins, and I've already knitted two of them! I suspect I'll be done with this one by t the end of the week. (I had seen a fabulous version of Irish Hiking Scarf as a work-in-progress at the Reston S&B this past week. It was absolutely gorgeous! That's what "made" me "have to have one"! There's just something about seeing a project in real life rather than on a web page that's really inspiring. I guess you experience the true beauty of a project when you can both touch it and see it.)

The second project is a felted tote bag with a skull on it. I think it's the perfect complement to my black and pink skull knitting tote. I purchased the Aussi Worsted weight yarn in black and white to complete that project. I hope to start on it later this week. The pattern is called "Felted Knitting Tote" by Adrian Bizilia.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The "Good and Plenty Socks" are done...and so are the needles!



I finished the "Good and Plenty" socks this evening! Wahoo - another finished object!




I'm so thankful that these are finally finished - the needles I was using were a royal pain in the backside! I tried a new type of double point this time rather than my usual bamboo. These needles are made of Surina wood....they're lovely to look at and are comparable in slickness to the Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs (my personal favorite). Ugh! What a mistake! The edges of the needles split frequently and I was constantly filing them down with my emery board or "switching" sides of the needles as it would "catch" and "tear" at the yarn. As a result, I had to knit rather slowly.

I was about half-way through the first sock when the problem with the needles became apparent. At that point, I found that filing them helped....and I continued knitting. By the time I reached the toe of the first sock, however, I was questioning my commitment to these needles. The frequency of the "catching" and "splitting" was increasing. It was too late to change needles though - I'd already completed one sock with these needles. I needed to knit the second sock with the same needles....for consistency. (I've found that even if needles are the EXACT same size, the slickness impacts how tight or loose I knit just as much as the slight size variations.)

At first I thought that the problem may just be a "bad batch" of needles, but no one I knew had ever used needles made from Surina wood, so I couldn't confirm that theory. When I posted a query about the needles on Angel Yarns Forum, I got my answer. (The forum is associated with a fabulous on-line shop - Angel Yarns) A couple of the girls on the forum HAD tried these needles with the same results....neither intends to use them again. Another thing I noticed about the needles was they they bent and distorted more quickly than my Crystal Palace needles. These needles are DEFINITELY going into permanent "time out" - I'm "finished" with them!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Knitting Progress.....

I finished a quick little scarf using the Feather and Fan pattern. I love the sense of accomplishment when you finish something. It doesn't really matter how hard or how easy a pattern or project was...the euphoria is still the same! For this scarf, I used the Classic Elite Premier - 50% Pima Cotton and 50% Tencel. It feels WONDERFUL! I got the yarn from my Ravelry swap partner in December - she'd selected the perfect color!









My "Good and Plenty" socks are coming along as well....I've completed the first sock and have just turned the heel on the second sock. As usual, I'm using the "Hellen's Favorite Socks" pattern by Fiber Trends in the 3x1 rib pattern. I'm currently in the throws of doing the heel gusset decreases on the second sock, so it won't be long before I have a finished pair! I love how the Meilenweit yarn knits up - the colors are wonderful!

Weather tidbit: In a word, it's been UNBELIEVABLE! Today it was EXTREMELY balmy - in the low 70's! That's about 35 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year! The winds were really blowing this afternoon making the lower clouds move quite fast while the upper clouds remained stationary. I captured a short video of the clouds skimming across the sky.....just to give you an idea of the unusual winds we had.
video

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Retreat Details - Part III

And here's the "Final Chapter" of the Retreat Details. I took a lot of photos - mainly so I could remember all the people - I'm much better when I have a face to put with a name!


Diane is wearing a fabulous pin. Each "bead" is made with fleece from her Alpacas. The "parent" Alpacas are attached to the pin and the "children" dangle down from it. It's definitely a unique way to "show off your flock". Hmmmm....if only I had my own fiber animals! She carded and spun all weekend long - she's one of the lucky few that actually was carding and spinning fiber from her own animals!


David and his grandmother, affectionately called "Grandma" by all, spent the day on Saturday. David spent nearly the entire day warping his loom. I've never seen a loom like the one he has, but someone said it's a counter-march loom or something like that. We unanimously felt that the top of the loom looked like a Medieval torture device. Grandma was busy doing her embroidery of placemats and napkins for the grandkids. The stitching is entirely done in French knots....my most hated embroidery stitch.










We also had some "silly moments" on the retreat as evidenced by Kathy in her latest felted hat - and Dave modeling it as well! (aka felting "gone bad" - LOL!)



Left - Kathy has her "little white hat" underneath her "big hat" as yet another "fashion" statement. Tina is showing off her "nose mitten" (also known as the beginning of a "toe up" sock) as well as a necklace of "designer yarns" she'd spun Saturday night. She'd played around with color and made the multi-colored mohair skein and then made some of the "fiddly" boucle.

There were so many projects of various types! I was amazed at the amount and variety of talent contained in our conference room - it was inspiring! Faye and another girl had bobbin lace setups - and the lace they were producing was totally awesome! Think of he patience this must take!

Cindy was spinning, working on a tapestry, and a triangle loom project! I didn't happen to catch her knitting, but I'm sure she probably does ALL the various needleworks! Tamala graciously modeled her handwoven vest for me - isn't it gorgeous? The color is just fabulous!

When Tina took a break from spinning her yarn, she tutored both Lynn and me on the finer points of Navajo plying. It was so easy! I was amazed! The yarn I'd tried it with was very lightly spun, so it kept pulling apart...but the basic technique was surprisingly easy. Lynn plied two skeins using the Navajo method - one solid color (for practice) and then a variegated skein where she kept the colors in tact - cool! Yes...the Navajo plying was on my list! Wahoo! Another skill learned!

I even managed to finish spinning my Merino/Tencel blend! I had purchased 8 oz. from the Drafting Zone last February. It's gorgeous stuff and very easy to spin. The luster of the tencel gives the resultant yarn a very nice sheen. This is my second and final bobbin in the "Peacock" color way. All I have left to do now is ply it - then I'll have an 8 oz. skein to "play with".

The retreat ended with the tutorial on "How to knit a toe up" sock taught by Audrey and Donna. They were awesome! (I can kick myself for not getting their pictures....and a picture of their display board!) They put together a fabulous package with lots of information about how to do the toe up socks as well as provided the crochet chain for the provisional cast on. They also put together a fabulous display board showing the various steps of knitting the sock for reference. They did an absolutely fabulous job and each had the patience of a saint while teaching us.

I completed my very first "toe up sock"! I'm absolutely thrilled with how my sock turned out - it's so cute! I did "goof up" on the toe a bit as I "knit" the first stitch after "undoing the wrap" rather than slipping it, so my sock toe has a few little gaps along the sides. I managed to work the short-rowed heel the proper way and the gaps were significantly less. Hopefully, I'll improve with practice - otherwise, I may try the alternate method where you a create a heel gusset similar to the "top down" sock method.

Sadly, the retreat came to an end in the mid-afternoon on Sunday. Time to say "goodbye" to Dogwood and head on home. I learned so much! And talk about inspiration! I really hated to leave, but I kept reminding myself that next year will be here soon...there will be another retreat...and I'll DEFINITELY be there!

Parting shots.....

I shared the road with local surreys on my way out of town......