Wednesday, June 27

FO: Butterfly Shawl!

I finished knitting the Butterfly Shawl last night. I really like how it turned out. I substituted a simple shell stitch crocheted edge for the one in the pattern. I washed and blocked the shawl before I went to bed last night. Set under a ceiling fan, it was dry and ready to unpin this morning. :-)

Size 9 needles
Fingering weight yarn
Wool/silk blend
5 ounces/540 yards
Blocked Width: 74"
Blocked Length: 38"

This is a big shawl. I used fingering weight but you could use any weight of yarn you like. It's a very simple pattern to knit.

The pattern called for size 11 needles with fingering weight. I thought that was too big though I could easily have used a 10 or a 10-1/2 if I wanted it lacier. I like the look I got with the size 9's.

I found out this morning that the link to this free pattern is broken. (An object lesson in why you should print out or save a copy of any free pattern you like that you find on the web.) The website has been disabled for some reason. I've emailed Dani at Knitty Paws asking about her website and the shawl pattern. I fear that this shop has gone out of business. If this is the case, I've asked for permission to post the pattern on my blog giving all credit to her and the designer. We'll see if I get a response and what she has to say.

ETA: The Butterfly Shawl is a word-for-word copy of Lion Brand's Easy Triangle Shawl #2.

Tuesday, June 26

Fiber acquisition

There's nothing like fresh fiber to cheer me up. Not that I needed any more spinning fiber. But could you resist if you saw these colors? I know I couldn't. LOL!

The orange, pink, and red bundle on the right is called Tequila Sunrise. It's a mix of Rambouillet, Targhee and other soft wools. With only 3.8 ounces in this, I may have to go back and buy more. :-)

The one on the left is called Caribbean Sea. It's a little over 4 ounces of merino. I love the colors and it's so soft.

Mary dyes fiber from the Brown Sheep Company. This is top and not roving. Much easier to spin in my opinion. Some fiber I've bought has felted a lot in the dyeing process, making it a lot of work to get it ready to spin. This wool is in much better shape.

Even though I have a fiber project going on both of my wheels, I'm severely tempted to put a fresh bobbin on and start on the Tequila Sunrise. LOL!

Take a look at Mary's products at her Etsy shop, The Art at Eagle's Find. BTW, she ships fast. :-)

Monday, June 25

Tears & Torrents of Rain

After I posted last Wednesday, I received word that my dad's half sister, Betty, had died. Her husband, John, died last fall. Even though she had been sick for several months, her death came as an unexpected shock to all of us. My cousins, Rhonda, Robert, and Leon, have now lost both their father and mother in less than a year. If that isn't a tough thing to deal with, I don't know what is. :-(

Friday, hubby and I made the long drive to southern Illinois for the funeral. I took some knitting along. With no concentration for knitting lace, I started another EZ Square Baby Blanket. It's mindless knitting which is just what I needed. We arrived in the small town my parents hail from too late for the visitation on Friday night. We stayed overnight with my Uncle Bob and Aunt Janet and caught up on family news. Their daughter, my cousin Kim, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday, June 18. I brought along the baby blanket I recently finished as a baby gift. I'm sad to say I didn't get a chance to see the baby.

Saturday started out hot, humid, and sunny. The funeral took place in the early afternoon at a small church in the country where my aunt was lifetime member. Her grandson, Brent, played guitar and sang. The pastor kept the service short, sweet, and very personal. It's the first time I've seen a pastor break down during a funeral. He had to pause for several minutes as emotion overtook him. You see, my aunt was well-loved by everyone she knew and every life she touched. Betty embraced life and radiated joy. I always remember her with a smile on her face or laughing. She had a very generous heart and was there to help whenever someone was in need. Her hugs wrapped you in love. I will miss her.

After the burial, we were invited back to the church for a buffet lunch prepared by members of the church. The food was wonderful. I got to see and talk to family members I haven't seen in a few years. I wish we could have stayed longer to visit but hubby wanted to drive partway home tonight.

At 5:00 pm we began what should have been about a 3 hour drive to Indianapolis. We were only 50 miles into the trip when the sky got very dark. As we continued on, it began to rain and then pour. The ditches on either side of the road were flooded, the corn in the fields was blown over (though we hadn't felt any wind), and the lightning show was breathtaking and intense. Out in the middle of nowhere, with no place to stop, we kept going. When we finally reached Interstate 70, we stopped for a break. Lots of cars were pulled off in this small town. We heard reports that there had been 3 tornado touch downs in the area we had just driven through. Yipes!

We got back on the road heading east from Illinois into Indiana. The weather wasn't improving and the heavy rain didn't stop. To get a break, we decided to stop in Terre Haute for dinner. We pulled off the interstate to find the city streets flooded. While we ate dinner, we hoped that the storm would move off. It didn't. We got back on the road, darkness fell, and the rain followed us all the way to Indy. It's hard enough to see to drive in heavy rain in daylight; it's even worse when it's dark. Our neverending drive finally ended at 10:30 pm when we pulled into our motel's parking lot. I was so glad to get off the road!

Lots of people were looking for someplace to stay due to the heavy rain. If we hadn't had reservations, we might not have had a room for the night. I was so worn out I was asleep not long after we arrived. Happily, the trip home from Indy on Sunday was quick and the weather cooperated. I'm happy to be safely home again.

Wednesday, June 20

Wool Dyeing Workshop

Here's my finished yarn from the Dyeing Workshop on Saturday. None of the colors is as intense as it looked when it was wet. The middle skein is Knit Picks laceweight yarn (880 yards). I squirted on green and a red violet color. The outside skeins are Skacel merino laceweight (1,375 yards). The Skacel yarn started out a very pale pink color that I didn't like. I overdyed one skein with a purplish color and the other with turquoise. I like how they both turned out. I may use one of them to knit Mystery Stole 3. (If you'd like to join the fun, don't wait long. Membership will be closed on July 6.) I've ordered some crystal beads to use on the stole.

Our Frog Pond Fiber Arts group had a lot of fun dyeing wool at Elizabeth's house. One member, Janet, had bought out one store's supply of Easter Egg dye at 90% off. We didn't even put a dent in it! I was the Dyemaster for the day. I laughed at that since I'm no expert. I've only done this twice before. Once everyone saw how easy it was to do, they had fun with it. I heard a number of people talking about trying it again.

Supply List:
Wool yarn or roving (or other animal fiber or silk)
Easter Egg dye tablets
A gallon of white vinegar
16 ounce hot beverage cups
Plastic spoons
Ziploc gallon size bags
Vinyl gloves (which no one used)
Plastic wrap
Squirt bottles
Paper towels

I warned everyone to wear old clothes they didn't mind getting dye on. I set up the dye station on the patio in the shade. We presoaked the yarn in a big plastic tub in warm water laced with vinegar. While it was soaking, we mixed up the dyes in cups. We drained the yarn, placed it into Ziploc bags, added dye and some water, sealed them, and laid them on the hot patio to cook in the sun.

Several of us tried another method. We laid our yarn out on plastic wrap, filled some squirt bottles with different colors, and had fun squirting it on. Wrap it up, put it in a bag, and lay in the sun to cook. You can turn the bags over after awhile to make sure that all the yarn gets colored.

With the intense sun and heat, it didn't take long before the water in the bags was clear. This is good. It means the dye has been absorbed in the yarn and should be set.

Elizabeth's house has a pool. When everyone was done dying wool they sat on the edge of the pool with their feet in the water to cool off. The chlorine in the pool water was helpful in getting dye off your hands too. LOL!

It was very hot, even in the shade where we were working. I found out later it was 93 degrees. It was almost too much for me. I didn't realize how much the heat was affecting me until I went inside.

We all left for home with bags full of hot, wet yarn. I told them to take it home, let it cool, and rinse it out in cool or warm water. Gently squeeze out some of the excess water and hang it in the bathtub to drip.

Some notes about dye tablets:

Read the package instructions. Some colors will split if you add vinegar to the dye. Be aware of this fact unless you don't mind what color(s) you get. If you're using non-vinegar dyes, don't presoak your yarn in vinegar. Add the dye to your wet yarn and let it cook for awhile before you add some vinegar. Adding the acid at this stage, should stop the color from splitting.

You can't always tell what color a dye tablet is just by looking at it. If you want to find out without mixing then all up, here's what you can do. Dampen a paper towel. Take a dye tablet and touch it lightly to the paper towel to see what color it is.

Have fun! We did!

Monday, June 18

Butterfly Shawl

In cleaning out my yarn stash, I stumbled across 4 skeins of hand painted merino/silk that's just a hair heavier than a fingering weight. I decided I'd make a shawl with it. Something easy and somewhat lacey. I searched through my list of triangle shawl patterns and found one called the Butterfly Shawl at the Knitty Paws web site. (See my July 1st post for a link to the pattern.)

The picture isn't very clear but the pattern sounded simple, yet intriguing. The pattern calls for size 11 needles with fingering weight yarn. I thought that was too big so I used size 9 (5.5 mm). The shawl is knit from the top down using increases along a central stitch and along both edges. Once the pattern is established, you do a simple repeat, alternating knitting 4 different rows. The shawl also has an interesting knitted on, knotted fringe edging.

I have 720 yards of yarn which should be more than enough to knit this shawl. I've nearly through one 180 yard skein and the shawl is growing quickly. I'll post my yardage on the triangle shawl pattern list when I'm done.

Here's an unblocked look at the shawl. I think it looks very good, don't you?

Friday, June 15

What happened?

For some reason my Sitemeter counter has gone missing. I've checked their site and it's still counting hits on my blog. Just for some reason it isn't showing up in my sidebar. Anyone have a clue what's going on?

A couple of hours after my last post, our power went out. I was watching the evening news at 5 pm when I heard an explosion and everything went off. It sounded like an electric transformer blew. Our temps here have been hovering around 90 degrees most days. I would lay odds that people near me got home from work and cranked their air conditioners down. The resulting demand for power blew the transformer and the power to 1100 homes. I live somewhat in the country but also in the midst of a large number of subdivisions with huge houses. Some of these houses have 2 or even 3 central air conditioners to cool all that square footage. I'd certainly hate to pay their electric bills. When hubby got home from work we went out to dinner. By the time we got back about 8 pm, our power was back on.

Tomorrow, my fiber arts group is having another Fiber Frolic. We meet at one of our members homes for an afternoon of fiber fun. We knit, spin, talk, have a swap table for unwanted stuff, and, of course, eat. I'm running a solar dyeing workshop for wool yarn using Easter Egg dyes. I've been collecting up the things I'll need for this all week. It should be a lot of fun. They're giving a high of 90 degrees so we should have no trouble getting our dyes to set. LOL!

I've cleaned out some of my yarn and spinning fiber stash. I'm taking what I've cleaned out to swap or sell. Anything leftover may get posted for sale on my blog soon.

Wednesday, June 13

Lacy Leaf Water Bottle Carrier

I came up with this cute little carrier last year. I put my bottled water in it, place it over my shoulder, and keep my hands free to shop. It's a good use of scrap yarn plus a small exercise in lace knitting in the round. I made mine with a ball of leftover Brooks Farm Yarn Four Play (wool/silk blend).

Lacy Leaf Water Bottle Carrier

Size 7 double points
Worsted weight yarn (about 60 yards - less than 1 oz)
9 oz plastic bottled water (about 8" around)

Pattern will be made available soon on Ravelry.

Monday, June 11

Six month blog anniversary!

Woo-hoo! I've officially been blogging for 6 months. My first tentative post was on December 11, 2006. I didn't think I'd have that much to blog about but I always seem to find something. LOL! Someone must find my blathering interesting because I've had over 20,000 hits since then. It's fun to go to Sitemeter and find out where my readers are located (all over the world) and how many blogs link to me. I must be doing something right.

I'm happy to report that my missing Forest Canopy shawl has been found! I left it at a local restaurant the last time I was there. I'm very lucky. They thought it belonged to one of the waitresses.

Here's a pic of the Targhee I finished spinning recently. This was such an easy and fun spin! I skeined it into two skeins---458 yards and 4.1 ounces total. One skein is fingering to laceweight and the other is a little thicker. I'm getting used to the double drive on the Tina and my spinning is getting more consistent on it.

The Little Gem is back in business. I'm using it to spin some Ashland Bay merino top. (I wanted it spun finer than I can spin on the Tina. Though I'm sure I'll get there on the Tina with a little more practice.) The colorway may be called Daffodil. It's definitely spring-like colors. The fiber is mostly white with small streaks of red, green, yellow, pink, and a periwinkle blue running through it. The single I'm getting is beautifully variegated with all the colors. I'm almost done spinning the singles and hope to start plying it today. The Tina is teaching me to draft much faster and finish a spinning project quicker.

I took a skein of the Targhee to Show & Tell at the retreat on Sunday. Several people asked: "Do you sell your handspun?" Sometimes I do.

Others asked, "How long have you been spinning?" Two years on a drop spindle and a year and a half with a wheel.

It is a puzzlement to me. Though I find my spinning to be perfectly normal, others find it hard to believe I am such a newbie spinner. They seem very impressed with the quality of my handspun. Now, I am not by nature a competitive person. I spin because I enjoy doing it. My motto is to always to do my best at everything I attempt. (And contrary to what some people may think about me, I don't do everything well. LOL!) The first time I sat down at a wheel I was told I was a natural spinner. Or could it be a remembered skill from a past life?

Sunday, June 10

Lace class blues

I was so hyped yesterday. It was finally the day for the lace class. I was up before 6:30 am. I never get up that early unless I have to for some reason. I picked up my friend Jess, and off we drove. We arrived in Shipshewanna with time to spare. The Farmstead Inn and conference center is a wonderful place for a retreat. We checked in at the registration desk and received an unexpected gift---a really nice tote bag full of surprises (yarn, knitting needles, etc.) donated by various vendors. We put on our nametags and headed for class.

Our instructor, Joan Schrouder, arrived, gave us a handout, and explained what we would be doing all day. My heart sank, I already knew how to do all that! I held out hope that I would learn something new. I quickly finished each step of the class project and spent a lot of time helping the ladies sitting next to me. The material was new to them and they were struggling.

It was great to get out of the classroom at lunchtime. Knitting Today (the shop running the retreat) had set up a small store at the conference center. I found some fingering weight wool yarn I will dye for a shawl. I can usually find something to buy at a yarn shop. LOL!

Afterwards, we headed over for lunch. Here in the middle of Amish country, they served us a sandwich with a choice of 2 salads, a cookie, and tea or lemonade to drink. Those who were at the end of the line or who arrived late didn't get much. When the food ran out, they didn't refill it. With a 2-1/2 hour break for lunch, we could have gone to one of the Amish restaurants in town for lunch. The food would have been better and might have been less than the $12.50 we paid for our sandwich lunch.

The best part of the day was just after lunch. We gathered in the great hall area where there are lots of comfy sofas and chairs. Everyone pulled out their current projects and began knitting. At 1 pm names were drawn and door prizes were handed out. Everyone got something, which was nice. Show & Tell came after that. There were some awesome projects shown off by attendees. No one appreciates the work that goes into a knitted garment except another knitter. :-) I really enjoyed meeting a lot of new people.

I got through the remainder of the class by listening to Joan and helping the ladies sitting next to me. With my class project completed, I was bored. In desperation, I finally pulled out my Shetland scarf to work on. (Joan told us it was ok to work on our own projects if we were finished.) She was even kind enough to help me fix a mistake I made. Nevertheless, I was so happy to get out of that classroom and head for home.

I would much rather have spent the $122 cost of the retreat on yarn or spinning fiber. At least I would have had something to show for the day. Though in defense of our teacher, it wasn't her fault that I already knew the material she was teaching. It's my mistake that I didn't check it out more before I signed up. If I had, I would have realized I was too advanced to take it. Mea culpa.

Friday, June 8

What language is this?

I've found a pretty free triangle shawl pattern in a foreign language I haven't been able to identify. Take a peek at the shawl here. It's a beaut and only takes 100 gms of Knit Picks Shimmer. I think I can figure it out from the chart but I'd like to know the language so I could translate a copy for myself. Post a comment if you have any suggestions. I'll probably add a link for it to the triangle shawl list on my blog.

Melanie of the Pink Lemon Twist blog has started a new Yahoo Mystery Stole group. Click here to join. The first clue is scheduled to be posted on June 29. You'll need 1200 yards of laceweight yarn to knit the stole. Don't wait too long to join. She's closing the list to new members early in July. I'm signed up!

Tomorrow, I'm off to an Orenburg Lace Knitting class that Joan Schrouder is teaching. It's an all-day class at the IWannaKnit Retreat in Shipshewanna, Indiana. I'm gathering up my supplies so I can get up early in the morning to drive over for the class. My friend, Jessica, is coming along with me. We're going to have so much fun! If I don't forget my camera, I'll try to take some pics to post on the blog.

Wednesday, June 6

One gifted, one lost

Yesterday, I discovered I had misplaced the Forest Canopy shawl I made about a year ago. It's a shoulder sized shawl in Mountain Colors Weavers Wool in navy with hints of purple. It's the one I grab when we're going out to a restaurant who has their A/C cranked too high or when I think I might need a little extra warmth. I've thrown it over my head when it's raining and put it under or over a jacket. I've bonded with this shawl. It's seen me through a lot of things. And now it's missing. Sigh. I always put it over the back of my chair in the livingroom so I can find it quickly. It's not there, nor is it anyplace in the house.

I suspect I've left it someplace, which is not like me. Though I have been distracted lately due to more major health problems percolating with my MIL, a favorite aunt who is very sick, and a friend, Mary, who had a masectomy yesterday. I spent the afternoon in a hospital waiting room with Mary's sister and three of my knitting buddies. We knitted and talked while we waited for her to come out of surgery.

I finally had to leave for a doctor's appointment about a very itchy rash I've had on my arms for about a week. Seems I have eczema on my arms, says Dr. Patty, brought on by all the stress I'm under. She jokingly kidded me about not having anything to be stressed about and then starts listing some of them. She understands. Patty is also my MIL's GP and is well aware of what's up with my inlaws. There is definitely reason to be concerned. She gave me a prescription for some skin cream to use on the rash and told me it should clear up soon.

Before I left, I gifted her with a Forest Canopy shawl I knitted in December. This one was made with Mountain Colors Weavers Wool in Rimrock. I thought the colors would suit her. I made her day. Her eyes lit up as she told me it had all her favorite colors in it. Then she laid it down and proceeded to tell me which room in her house matched each color in the shawl. She doesn't know whether she wants to wear it or hang it on the wall! I take it as a compliment that she thinks it's pretty enough to display as artwork. I got a hug along with a warm thank you. I'm not sure which of us felt happier about the gift. When I left she had the shawl wrapped around her neck and was still talking about it. Made my day too. :-)

Sunday, June 3

Spinning on the Tina

I have to admit that I haven't touched my Little Gem since I got the Tina going. It is so much fun to spin on! My drafting is getting faster all the time and I'm getting used to the double drive tension. See how much of the purple/blue Targhee top I've finished? I'm ready to start a new bobbin to spin the rest of it. The small skein on the right is a couple of ounces of Ashland Bay coral merino. This was my first skein off the new wheel. The color is luscious and very soft. The drafting isn't very consistent but I expected that. It took awhile to get the "feel" for this wheel.

I'm wondering if previous owner of this wheel was a beginning spinner? The Tina is not a wheel I would give to a newbie spinner. It spins fast and drafts fine---two things that new spinners would find very frustrating as they learn to spin. For an intermediate or advanced spinner, it's very liberating!

The Little Gem had half a bobbin of Border Leicester from the school demo last week. I've decided to give up spinning it. I wound off what I'd spun into a ball and put it in the bag with the remaining roving. I'll pass it on to someone else to finish. I am really getting picky about what I spin. I much prefer spinning top to roving. The BL is roving and not the easiest to draft. Plus it's scratchy wool and has way too much VM in it. I either have a lap full of grass bits or it's all over the floor around my spinning chair. With all the spinning fiber I have on hand, I don't have to spin anything that I don't like. Been there, done that, I'm spoiled. LOL!