Monday, 30 July 2012

Moving Along

Not a lot of excitement going on, but some progress.

The baby sweater is knitting up relatively fast, especially once I hit the plain knitting which doesn't require counting or looking at how the picture's coming along every few rows. I've just started the ribbing at the bottom, then it will only be the sleeves and buttonbands (and a bit of embroidery) to do. And it looks like I will have plenty of yarn left over to do a matching hat and booties (although I will leave those until later, I think, and tackle my other Ravellenic projects first).

And all testers from the Trickle scarf have reported back, with no serious issues, so I think I will try and get that finalized (and maybe posted) today. About time I got another pattern finished off.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

And They're Off

Yesterday afternoon was the Olympic opening ceremonies, and the official cast-on for those of us playing along with the Ravellenic Games. I didn't watch anything (the TV is old and I didn't bother with getting a box at the digital switch-over last year, so it's there for movies only), but I get to hear about the highlights on the 'net. Daniel Bond, the Queen, and Mr. Bean, eh? Very Brit.
I cast on for the baby sweater for my first project. I'm partway done the yoke now, and it's going to be so flippin' cute!

Not to mention soft and squooshy. I think it'll knit up fast, once I get past the yoke and I'm not pausing every row to look at it...

Weight-lifting and rowing are not usually sports I keep track of at the Games, but I will be trying this year, since there is someone from my hometown area in each of those. It would be pretty cool if one (or both) brought a medal back to our little corner of the country.

I'm going Brit a little with the movies to watch while knitting, it seems, even if I'm not watching the Games. Last night was Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Ruddigore', and today I'm planning to indulge a desire to rewatch the BBC version of 'Pride and Prejudice'. Somehow, I don't get tired of it, even if this will be the third time in 6 months.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


My testers for my Trickle scarf are almost done, so I'm figuring I can get that pattern out this weekend. Now I've got something else to show off, which I want to start testing on. My Chroi Tam. Chroi (the i is supposed to have an accent on it) is Gaelic for heart, which is what the cables suggested.

I hadn't shown it off here, or on Rav, because I submitted it to Knitty, and pictures online elsewhere are not allowed. I found out the other day that it didn't get accepted (although Amy did say that she liked my style and would like to see more of it, so that's kinda cool, and I already have a pair of mitts planned to submit for the winter edition). But thinking about photos and posing and atmosphere was really good practice also, for future pictures. In this case, how to make photos look fall-like when it's 28 degrees out. My aunt and cousin were very obliging models - I took the pics when I got fleece from them in May.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Olympics, and my first project for the games will be with their wool. Gonna be fun!


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Corn Festival and Blueberries

I've been having a technical argument with my camera card. It refused to open up space unless I deleted pictures via the camera rather than the computer. Which means no pictures of the weekend. I bought another card yesterday, but it will have to go back - it fits my camera, but isn't recognized. So I finally moved all my pictures off the old card and reformatted it. Now I should be OK for a while.

Anyway, I expect the weekend doesn't really require pictures. Use your imagination. Here's how it went down:

Thursday night, down to the parents'. Friday most of the day, packing and labeling yarn and knitting to bring to the craft show, and spinning more black yarn for my cushion, while Mom finished weaving a rug and did the edges and fringes for several others. The craft show opened at 6pm, so we had to be there and unpacked by then. 

The craft show, as part of the St. Anicet Corn Festival, was held in what I have heard referred to as either the church or the cathedral at St. Anicet, close to the lake. A rather large stone building for the small size of the community (they don't even have a bank anymore). Most churches have a hall for events attached beside or nearby, but here it was as if the body of the church was split in two halves, with the half near the altar containing pews and stone walls, and the back half modernized, with air conditioning, tiled floors, and new, painted walls. The new section was lined with tables for the craft show, with a row of works by local painters down the center (I say painters rather than artists, as most of it looked rather amateur). Saturday there was a book launch/wine and cheese for a volume on local history, and Sunday, the usual Mass, while the craft show was going on, so it was always busy. Many summer residents, some with dubious fashion choices (are tops covered in ruffles in right now?), and mostly french-speaking, so my brain had a workout. I chatted with people and my boothmates, and spun in between customers. More harlequin yarn - the last two skeins of my Tour de Fleece. (I took those pics today, after the great camera clean-up)
It was a good sale for all of us, and surprisingly, I sold more yarn than finished stuff. More proof crafters are taking over the world. Even had a bunch that was a family affair, where the mother bought yarn the two kids picked out that they wanted to knit, and the grandmother bought some to knit for another family member.

We spent Sunday evening recovering and unpacking, but right after breakfast Monday morning, Mom and I headed for the Teafields, and our annual pick of wild blueberries. The guy we usually call to ask if they're ripe, said they were ready, but small, and the terrain more overgrown than usual. His descriptions are always negative, though. It all looked normal to us when we got there - mossy ground, covered in shrubbery knee-to-hip high to wade through, interspersed with half-grown birches and berry bushes. Picked until 2, and came home with a bucket full, and I have a couple containers to munch on this week. Everything ripened a bit earlier this year, and we couldn't put off picking any longer. Not many green ones left on the bushes that we saw. But we got berries, and before the storm that evening, so all is good. 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Breakdown on the Tour

My intention for this morning was to sit down and try to finish spinning the rest of the fiber for the second skein of harlequin yarn. So I sat down at my Hitchhiker, pushed the treadle, and it went 'clunk'. As in clunk, the treadle is no longer attached to the wheel. Inspection revealed that the connector was a stiff piece of leather, and after however many revolutions over the years, the leather had broken off at the screw attaching it to the wheel. And that was inside a hole drilled in a wooden piece.

I imagine on the real Tour de France, there are mechanics and spare bikes riding along, ready to swing into action at a breakdown, with all the hustle seen in a pit stop at the Indy 500. But I had to be my own mechanic. I confess I had brief visions of having to get my spinning in for the day on a drop spindle - which would be kinda like a cyclist borrowing a kid's trike.

Anyway, I sat down on the living room floor and tackled it. Tool kit consisted of screwdrivers, darning needle, leather knife, needlenosed pliers, crochet hooks, and yarn. Unscrew the foot pedal to get to the screw attaching the other end of the broken leather piece. Remove leather piece. Use pliers, darning needle and sharp knife to pick out and remove sufficient of the broken leather end jammed in the hole to free up the screw hole there. Since I couldn't find anything similar enough to the leather piece to use as a replacement, I used a couple thicknesses of silk-blend yarn, threaded it through the screw-hole on the wheel part, and through the foot-pedal hole, securing it around the screw there. Knotted it to size, and voila.

The wheel feels a bit different now, but it works. Not having a stiff connector means that I need to have enough momentum after the down-stroke to get the treadle back up just past the top of the stroke, but that is more or less the same as what a traditional wheel does, and I can handle it. Later I will see if the connection can be stiffened a bit. For now, I'm flushed with success and back in the saddle.  

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Early Bird

For whatever odd reason, I was awake this morning before 6. Not the groggy, lemme sleep a bit longer sort of awake, but eyes open, willing to get out of bed and get going. And since in the heatwave the mornings are by far the nicest time to be up and doing, I accordingly got up.

And hell, it makes for a productive start to the day. Here it is not 9:30 yet, and I'm up and breakfasted, the cat has had her walk, and I've had time to harvest some beets, clean them, and make a batch of beet pickles, do a little spinning, and get most of my online stuff done. I'll be able to do my groceries before it gets really hot, and plenty of time for other errands, then back in to spin during the worst of the heat.

And am I having fun with the colorful spinning. I finished spinning and plying the first harlequin skein yesterday. It came out a fingering to sport-weight, about 228 yards in 70 g.

Now I'm several stripes into the second skein, and can see a definite probability of a third one...might try doing more coordinating ones instead of completely random. Or chunkier ones. And I think I need to dye more many possibilities. How do the people at Noro ever control themselves?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Color Work

Well I got the first skein for the colorwork challenge spun and plied as of this morning. Close to 95 yards of 2-ply.

And I blocked that cushion top I mentioned last night.

The yarns in there are handspun, natural-dyed (except the black. I think it's sheep's black. The roving came like that.)

But rather than settling down to start the back of the cushion, or the second skein for the challenge, I decided I wanted MORE color. And I need something like Noro yarn for a couple upcoming ideas for projects - long repeats, multicolored.
So... I rooted out my bag of random batts from dye experiments last summer, finding a total of 14 colors ranging from brown to sky blue to mauve to peach. I weighed out 5g of each color for each skein. Divided each 5g bit in half, for each ply of a 2-ply skein. And set up a random order of the colors for each skein. And I sat and spun one whole ply for the first skein.

I wish I could show it off today, but my camera batteries decided charging was required. But tomorrow is spin-in-the-park day, and I prophesy there will be pretty pictures forthcoming.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tie Score

So yesterday I said that my scarf didn't make in the competition I had entered it in. Win some, lose some, I guess. Because today I got a notification that the 2 shawl patterns I sent for the 101 Lace Wonders competition have BOTH been selected! How's that for cool? Looks like it'll be several months yet before the paperwork comes through, and probably a while after that before the book is out, but still! I'm going to be a little bit excited now...might even treat myself to some junk food ;)

In real life, I've got the second half of the gold yarn for the challenge started. With any luck I should be plying tonight, if the making of jam doesn't take up too much time. I've got enough berries, between the raspberries and red currants, to do a batch. And maybe tomorrow I'll be able to show off the finished top for a cushion cover I'm knitting.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

More Spinning and a Scarf

I started on some brown alpaca roving I had, while I was debating what to do about the colorwork challenge. So now I've a nice skein of that in 3-ply.

And I've more or less decided for the challenge to do some 2-color, double-sided knitting. I learned how several years ago, but haven't really done any since, although I found a lovely book at the library with lots of ideas and stitch patterns.
So I divided my wool for the challenge into a light pile and a dark pile, equally by weight, and started carding. Got a little bit of the spinning started yesterday.

It's awfully neppy stuff, so the spinning will go slow. I'll see what I get for yardage before I decide exactly on the project.

Today is a rest day for the Tour de Fleece, though, I think. So I will finish the carding, and catch up on a few other things. One of which is posting a scarf for testing.

This is the Trickle scarf. It's one of the things I had as submissions, so hadn't posted it here yet, I think. But I heard last week that it's not accepted for the place I submitted to. I'm sort of not surprised, as they had a lot of submissions, and this was a last-minute thing I came up with when I couldn't get the original idea to work. Anyway, it means I can go ahead and set it up on my own. It's a pretty easy pattern, and lots of variation in size and yarn weight possible, and I hope I can get some testers to experiment with that.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

We Now Return You

... to your regularly scheduled programming. Or, in other words, I'm done my 'vacation' and back in the city as of Friday night. Mom had a wonderful time in Nfld., and brought me back some roving - and a couple rocks, and a snippet of a plant, and an antique basket for herself, which is a completely typical assortment.

And oh, how sad it was Saturday morning to go outside and realize that apparently all the rain I saw last week never came near Ottawa. The garden here is dry. The seeds I planted two weeks ago never sprouted, the peas are hopeless, and the rest of the veg and plants look stressed. My first act was to do some watering. No-one else bothers to pick the raspberries here, and the canes were purple with overripe berries - I salvaged what I could, but so many wasted!

The forecast seems to be warm and no rain for several days yet, so I've decided on a gardening run each morning, while it's still cool, then work indoors for the rest of the day. Catch up on Tour de Fleece, and things for the sale in two weeks.

I'm feeling a little behind on the Tour spinning, but yesterday I sat down and finished the spinning and plying of the llama from Bertha that I had earmarked as a thank-you to her. Out of 100g of batts, I managed a bit over 340 yds. Not quite enough for the shawl I had in mind (which needs 460 yds), but I will find or adapt something.

Today I was hoping to tackle the stuff for the colorwork challenge in the Friday fleece spa group. Trouble is, I have no clear idea in mind yet, so I will knit a while and let it simmer - or spin something else for today.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Steeped in Color

OK, so apparently I managed to skip a week, after promising pictures of the goings-on here. Thing is, the computer is the easiest thing to put off doing. But tonight I get a bit of time, and actually had a chance to upload some pictures.
The berries have gone to nearly full production, so lots of picking, and I made shortcake with some this week - yummy!

The chicks are enjoying their new home, and go take dust-baths outside in their run, and fight over the clover I bring them for treats. They're in the ugly stage, where they look like little vultures or something.

I haven't touched my knitting since last Wednesday (shock!), and have been spinning only to get done what needed to be dyed, and to say I've done some spinning every day for the Tour de Fleece. Really, it seems the week has been about dyeing. After I did my mordanting Wednesday and Jo did hers Thursday, the clothesline looked like this:

Friday we started on the duller tones and the lighter colors. I prefer doing those and the experimental ones first, so if the result isn't great, it can get overdyed in one of the brighter shades. Case in point: the rose shoots I was testing. The book said it was supposed to give a yellow-green, but the result was a tan straw-color. I ended up throwing it in the coreopsis bath to get a richer gold for the final color. Anyway, we did burdock, and greenweed, and bedstraw roots, and madder tops, and Jo had lots of fun, and was very excited for Monday, and the bright colors.

Saturday I did the stuff that I wanted which was not on Jo's list. Nettles, and blackberry shoots, onion skins, and butternuts (we were lucky enough to have a tree fall last week, and there were nuts already on it).

Monday was a long day of dyeing. Five dye-baths, but mostly strong ones for doing multiple dips in darker and lighter tones, and including indigo as the piece de resistance. Jo arrived at 9 and left after 5, and the clothesline was a thing of beauty.

Today has been more! dyeing. Mostly filling in spaces, as it were - things which I put off yesterday, as the important thing was to get Jo's stuff done. The line is full again, and there is a pile of finished stuff. I haven't thrown out the dye-baths yet, though. Several still have color, and I hate to waste it, so want to make sure everything I want in a color is done before I dump it.