Wednesday, 27 June 2012

I'm Alive

Just checking in. No pictures again, but maybe I will manage to remember some tomorrow - have a friend coming over for a half-day to mordant wool, in prep for dyeing days Friday and Monday. It's been busy, all right? So far, vacation day one I've transplanted a row of little coreopsis plants, weeded my dye garden, helped move the baby chicks into their new home, gotten my list of chores for the week sorted out, carded a skein's worth of yarn and spun half of it, and done several loads of laundry, including one of handwash. Vacation day two (today) I was up at 5:30 to see Mom off, did my chores, picked berries, mordanted over 2 kg of yarn and roving, went to a Strawberry Social, and am aiming to finish the bobbin of yarn I'm spinning before I turn in. Only a couple days left until Tour de Fleece...

It's been raining yesterday and today, which is good timing. All the transplants will be happy, and the rain barrels are full of nice soft water for dyeing. But I do hope the weekend is sunny. My two white llama fleeces have arrived. I haven't had a chance to see them, but I'm hoping I can start cleaning them then.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Busman's Holiday

Tomorrow evening I shall be off to the parents' for a week. In my mind, I've been going "vacation! holiday!" But in thinking about packing list and scheduling stuff, I came to the conclusion that what I really have coming is a busman's holiday - a holiday where you do pretty much the same thing you do all the time. No lounging on the porch and reading for me! And while I'll try to get to the computer once a day, I have my doubts on that score.

All the berries are weeks ahead of schedule. Apparently the blackberries were reddening last week. So there will be, no doubt, berries to pick and freeze. The snow peas may be at a stage to pick and freeze also. Depending on the bugs, things may need to be sprayed. Plants will need watering and the chicks will need feeding. So will the dog, the cats, and Dad and I. That's all going to be on my to-do list.

Then I have 'my' stuff. Fiber stuff. There's a pile of dyeing to do to bring to Twist, and wherever else I'm selling yarn and fiber in the next few months. Probably a day's worth of mordanting, and 2-3 days' worth of dyeing, including gathering dyeplants. One of those days has to be co-ordinated with a neighbor, who wants to learn, so I have to find out when is good for her and whether she wants to try anything in particular. Tour de Fleece starts Friday, so I have a pile of things set for that too. A garbage bag, actually. Probably significantly overestimating the amount of spinning I'll get done, but I'd hate to run out! And if I get a chance, I'd like to finish picking and washing the llama fleece I've got before the two from my cousins show up.

Add a little knitting to the pile, and then hopefully a visit to some friends. I haven't seen them since last summer, which is very sad, because they live all of 20 min from my parents. I just seem to spend most of my visits home getting stuff done, and time goes too danged fast. So it'll be nice to catch up, and see how their daughter's grown - she's 2 now - and how their gardening and renovations progress.

Now, however, it's back to work. The freezer is being thawed, and I'd like to get another skein's worth of the wool I'm spinning picked today. That should be enough, once spun, to do the dyeing for the baby sweater it's earmarked for.    

Thursday, 21 June 2012


Oh Muse, inspire me with the tongue of a Rick Mercer, that I may expose the senders of that letter to the weal of common sense and the salt of humor…

Well, who am I kidding – I don’t have the tongue of a satirist, but oh, don’t I wish I did.

There’s a great commotion on Ravelry, and spreading on the interwebz. It seems the US Olympic Committee has sent a cease and desist order informing us that we have to rename the Ravelympics, and remove from the site any Olympic-associated patterns or projects. It is, according to them, diluting their brand, and denigrating the athletes, among other things, and the phrasing was not exactly lawyerly-dispassionate. Insulting, really. Signed by someone who isn’t even a lawyer yet, as it took people only a short time to find out.

Really? With the big day coming up in a very few weeks, you have nothing better to do? Do you really feel that people will mistake the Ravelympics for the real thing? Or that somehow, a group of fiber types getting together to have fun, challenge themselves, and exchange ideas is a threat to your identity or your corporate sponsorship, or the spirit of the games?

In point of fact, I don’t see that they’d gain more than a hollow victory, if anything. Bad, bad publicity for them. Casey posted the letter yesterday afternoon to let us know what was up, and said he’d passed it on to their lawyer. By this morning, when I logged on, I found posts noting that the USOC e-mail was bouncing letters, that the FB account of the guy who signed the letter had been closed to new comments, that Ravelympics had apparently turned into one of the hot tags on Twitter, and that Stephen Colbert had been informed of the debacle. Not to mention the people who have announced their intention to skip watching the games, or watching the games from a US carrier, writing to Congress or various Olympic committees, writing to the sponsors or boycotting the sponsors. And who will be passing their indignation on to family and friends. Stir a hornet’s nest and don’t be surprised if you raise a cloud of hornets, eh?

But for all that, it’s rather sad that the people involved in running the Games seem to have so little of the spirit in which they were founded, and it leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. This year there’s already been the Wool-sack thing, where the committee made a last minute decision to take away a space that had been intended for distribution of handknit pillows that were to be gifts for the athletes, giving the space to a paying sponsor. It was on the BBC news and everything. Now the athletes have to get in touch with the people doing the pillows and personally request one, I think. And one of the other women on Rav noted that apparently a few years ago, USOC was trying to get a bunch of businesses in Greece, including a yogurt co-op, to change their names, because they had the word Olympic in their names in Greek.

Is it just me, or does the whole thing come off like that kid in the schoolyard, who won’t share toys, and wants to order everyone else around, and then gets insulted and can’t understand why no-one wants to play with him?  

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Hunkering Down

The weather report for the next couple days is predicting scary hot, humid stuff. So I've been planning to not cook or go outside those days more than necessary. There's a quiche and a pasta salad in the fridge, and the week's errands are done. Of course, there's no guarantee the heat will actually show up - so far today it's overcast, and cooler even than the predicted low for the day.

Mostly this week I've been trying to catch up, get ready for upcoming events. My planned dyeing sessions are coming up in a week or so, as well as Tour de Fleece. That means that I've been carding and spinning, to get enough done of my cousins' fine wool to be ready to dye it for a baby sweater before I start my Tour spinning. 2 skeins done so far, about 240 yards of 3-ply, DK/worsted. So nice and soft, even if the carding is getting tedious.

I pulled out some of the yarn I dyed for kits, and knit a tam, just to prove to myself that I had calculated correctly. That worked out fine, so now I'm doing the same for a pair of gloves. There has been a lot of knit-outs in the past week, and I've been feeling it's more important to get those things done than to bring projects that are for me.

And I've been knitting more eggs, in bits and pieces, in prep for the craft show in July (as well as samples for later shows).

Cute, but between that and the kit testing, it feels so much like reruns that I haven't bothered to put them up on Ravelry. Plus my page is missing the two projects currently out as submissions to places, so I feel like I'm not showing a lot for the amount of work going on. Ah, well, it'll catch up eventually.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Down On The Farm

Back in the city, after a lovely weekend out at the parents'. A busy visit, but enjoyable for both me and the cat. She's napping, worn out by all that hunting she did - I don't think she settled down in the house for more than a few hours the whole weekend. And I'm nursing the usual assortment of mosquito bites and stiff muscles garnered in the garden and field.

The strawberries are ripe early this year, and the wild strawberries are amazing. I never remember there being this many or this big. Usually you get a couple handfuls to nibble. But Mom and I spent part of Saturday afternoon hunting them, and came out with a few cups of them! Enough to make strawberry shortcake with the wild berries only, which has to be the height of summer decadence. Real shortcake, none of this sponge-cake stuff, and freshly-whipped cream.

The year's batch of baby chicks have arrived. This bunch is more curious, or less timid, than the last, some of them being willing to come right over to you instead of running away, and not fussing if you pick them up. One even didn't want to get off my hand, but sidled up my wrist, with the apparent aim of perching there for a nap. The dog, Rex, is in his element. He loves the babies, and has to come and see them, and herd them with his big nose, make sure no-one wanders off. Poor Rex looks like an accident victim right now, though, and very sorry for himself:

It's his own fault, really. He had an insect bite or something, and he licked it raw. Mom put the purple livestock disinfectant on it, and he licked that off, and made the spot twice as large. Bandages wouldn't stay on, so it's a pad now with antiseptic salve, taped on. Fine as long as he's supervised, but overnight he got an old t-shirt as makeshift pants, held on by cloth strips for suspenders, to ensure he didn't remove his bandage. His dignity was so injured that I didn't take a picture, but think of Eeyore. He was so sad and insulted he sat on the lawn with his back to the house, and didn't come in to clean the dinner plates!

And then there was the gardening. The weather has been very good for the plants, it seems. I took an entire wheelbarrow of tops off the madder patch, and spread them out to dry - I'm looking forward to trying the fresh tops, given that the bits that had spent the winter on the ground had color enough to dye with. The bedstraw was close to flowering, so I cut that down to compost. Dug out a couple dozen baby pokeweed that were de trop, and set out my Japanese indigo seedlings. Amazing how many fit in the one small pot I started - I dug over 20 holes, and planted 2-4 seedlings per hole. Happy to have plenty, though, since I came across a new technique for dyeing with them that I'm anxious to try - it uses vinegar and water only, and no heating.


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Long Rows and Short

I'm giving my hands a change of pace for a bit before supper. Been knitting all day, and only an inch of garter stitch to show for it. Although, to be fair, the rows are over 5 feet long.

It's a new design idea I'm working out for a competition KnitPicks is having. Only it now looks nothing like my initial idea. I still like that idea, which was a shawl with short-row patterning, but it was refusing to come together. Horribly annoying, really. The yarn started to get fuzzy after ripping out half a dozen times, and the deadline is next week, so I decided a complete change was in order, for both my sake and the yarn's. I now have a scarf on the needles, and I like the way it's going, and I think I will have just enough yarn to finish it. But yeah, it's knitted in garter stitch, and sideways. 400 stitches in laceweight per row. There are 37 rows left, plus some short-row stuff. I wanted to get done tonight, if only because tomorrow is the weekly spin-in-the-park, and the river would have been a perfect place to take pictures. But judging from my speed today, I've got a good day or two left to go. So now the goal is pictures Sunday, out at the parents', and plenty of time to send the entry next week - which happens to coincide with WWKIP, World-Wide Knit in Public week.

Then it'll be time to tackle some spinning, leading up to the Tour de Fleece.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Dig, Dig, Dig, Mutter.

I've been out transplanting this morning.

Yeah, I thought I was done too. But yesterday my landlord took advantage of the one dry bit of the morning to do the lawn-mowing and the weed-whacking. And whether it was carelessness, botanical ignorance, or simply a guy-getting-carried-away-with-power-tools thing, he cut down a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't weeds. Most of the annuals I planted last week to replace the weeds near the compost pile were toast - I salvaged a few annual rudbeckia, a couple trailing things, and an ivy. Sadly, the coleus and tradescantia had little more than stubs left. The woodruff, which was in flower, got  chopped, but will survive. And I doubt the phlox and the soapwort from the back corner will flower this year, but they're perennials, so they'll live.

I had to find places for all these things, though. Ended up taking out three or four buckets-worth of groundcovers I had been allowing to flourish, and a daylily which was starting to overshadow a bunch of other things. The daylily was a little recalcitrant. Halfway through the digging around it with a shovel to loosen it, it proved too tough for my shovel. Snap went the handle, right above the metal shaft holding the blade on (I knew it was getting weak, but no, I had to push it), and backwards went I, collecting a scrape on my hand where I collided with the concrete behind me. Fortunately, there was an extra shovel available, so I finished the job. It's supposed to rain today, and the ground is still damp from yesterday's rain, so I didn't bother watering things in. I'll do it this evening if the rain doesn't turn up.

And Wednesday when he comes to put out the garbage, I think I'm going to try to have a chat with the landlord. And just to be sure, I may fence the edge to show what's lawn and what's not. I want to make sure I'm not going to lose any vegetables to the weed-whacker.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Sock Report

I mentioned a while back I was doing a test-knit for someone with the yarn I picked up at the fabric flea market (the teal and cream at lower left.)

It was a stealth thing - post no pictures, write no blog posts, until you get the go-ahead. Awfully hard, when you want to show off and go, "Hey, look! These are really neat!" and can't. But they've got the new publication up now, and the testers got the go-ahead last night to show off our stuff. I got to test these - Wanderlust socks by Friederike Erbslein.

They were cute and fun and I'm only sorry that the pattern was written for someone with blunter toes than I have, since I'd have to rewrite the toe to make them fit me right. But they're comfy, so I'm sure I can find someone who'll appreciate them.

The publication is called "The Sock Report", this is volume 1, and the link is here. Not all socks, but rather things made with sock yarn. I had a look at it, and there are several things in there I'd knit, for sure. So I'm really excited that all the testers get a copy of it as a thank you. I think I know where I'm getting some of my Christmas knitting ideas this year...