Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blog Delayed Due to Technical Difficulties

This blog seemed to take forever to get to the web. My digital camera decided to be difficult and like everything it's done so far, it did difficult well too. At first I thought I just needed a new camera. I wasn't happy about that prospect, as I've had this one a bit less than two years. I checked at the camera store and described the problem. The manager suggested just getting a card reader because the camera appeared to be taking pictures.

Good guess, but wrong. The card reader worked about the same as the cable. Then it dawned on me that it might be the memory card. So after a number of trips to the camera store, the camera is now working and able to download the photos to the computer.

An interesting thing the manager of the camera shop mentioned, is that digital cameras do not last as long as the old fashioned film cameras. At least now, I have a head's up to save for a new one.

Off the Needles: Given the extra time between blogs I was able to finished two pairs towards the 52 Pair Plunge III. Pair No. 30 is the Embossed Leaves pattern by Mona Schmidt from Favorite Socks by Interweave Press. I used Good Grrl hand-painted yarn from Tempted in the Zombie Grrl colorway. Great pattern, great yarn!

Pair No. 31 is based on an Ann Budd infant sock pattern out the new Interweave Knits Accessories magazine. The pattern is written for double-pointed needles and since I do two-at-time I made some significant changes in the pattern. I used my own Sheepish Fibers Big Foot yarn in the Brock's Truck colorway. It's actually leftover from a pair I made for myself earlier in the 52 Pair Plunge Challenge. Also, off the needles is my moebius scarf. It's still a little shy and needs to have the ends woven in and a good blocking before it shows itself. This was made using my handspun and I am very pleased with how the color worked out. Photos next time.

On the Needles: Pair No. 32 is a derivation of a Wendy Knits pattern, Dead Simple Lace Socks from her book, Socks From the Toe Up. I've finally figured out that my feet are much smaller than most of the sock patterns, so I need to do a lot of adjustments to pattern stitches to make the finished socks wearable. I'm using the Festivus colorway in another skein of sock yarn from Tempted. Incidentally, I joined her sock club this year, after wondering what sock clubs are like. It was a good decision on my part as I've received some wonderful sock yarn, some fun patterns and great bags. I'm doing it again next year.

On the Wheel: I've been experimenting with color, as well as the creation of worsted yarn. Right now I have a fuchsia/royal blue blend on the wheel. I'm very pleased with the results and hope to have a skein completed by my next blog post.

Great Reads/Great Listens: I listened to the Mammoth Murders by Bill Crider from my Audible account this week. I wish I understood why I enjoy mysteries involving sheriffs from sparsely-populated counties, but this was another one. This one takes place in Texas and involves the possible finding of Sasquatch, feral hogs, archaeological digs and a long-missing child. Hopefully, that description was not a spoiler for the book. Probably not great literature, but good characters and a good plot.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Challenge Done/One to Go

Off The Needles: I probably should have worded the title the other way round as I'm covering the remaining challenge first. I finished Pair No. 29 in the 52 Pair Plunge III. They're made from Creatively Dyed yarn in a women's small. (That's Greta snooping in the packages.) This was wonderful yarn to knit with and the yardage was wonderful (much like my own Big Foot yarn!) It's still fun to try out yarn from other folks!

On the Needles: I'm currently working on a pair from Tempted at 3 am's Good Grrl in the Zombee Grrl colorway. I'm using the Embossed Leaves pattern by Mona Schmidt from the Favorite Socks book by Interweave Press. I've made some significant pattern changes to accommodate my smaller than average feet. Even so, it should still look like the pattern in the book when I'm done.

I haven't forgotten Herbivore, by Stephen West. It's still going, it's just going slow.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: I am finally done with this challenge. The final book was Cat Striking Back (A Joe Grey Mystery), by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. Joe finds a body in an empty swimming pool, but it's gone by the time the police respond to his report. Naturally, he has to prove there was a body and then find the person who perpetrated the crime. This installment of the series dealt more with the cats and their feral counterparts, than the humans. It seems like this series gets better with each installment. Highly recommend.

52 books in 52 weeks was quite a challenge for me. I'm looking forward to my future reading when I can choose what I want to read, simply because I want to read it and not because of the added factor, I could read it quickly. I have a Wally Lamb that calls out to me each time I pass the shelves. But because of it's size, I've been waiting to read it until after the challenge.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Finding Time

This week has been a struggle to find any time for myself. That includes even a short entry into this blog. I am looking forward to working regular hours in the coming weeks, even though every day has been interesting and certainly not dull.

Off the Needles: I finished the bamboo socks about this past weekend. These were made from On Your Toes bamboo/nylon sock yarn. It's a beautiful colorway, but I was not pleased with the quality of the yarn. I purchased this in a yarn shop and I paid a bit more than I like to pay for it. My biggest complaint? Huge knots, lots of them! The big advantage to getting a big ball or skein of yarn is so you don't have to do joins - or at least not a lot of them - but I had to with this yarn.
These are Pair No. 28 in the 52 Pair Plunge.

On the Needles: I'm still working on my Herbivore. I ripped back because I wasn't happy with it. The second time through it's looking much better.

On the opposite spectrum from the bamboo yarn is some one of the Monday Night Sock Knitters purchased from CreativelyDyed.com. I'm doing 2-at-a-Time Socks, toe up. I'm well into the leg of the socks and still no knots - nunca. Great yarn, great colorway. Can't wait to finish and photograph.

Recently, I've been intrigued by moebius scarfs and decided to give one a try. I'm using some of my own hand spun. More on this one next time.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: At long last, the challenge is winding down. I hoped to be done by now, but I'm moving right along.

Book 49: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Wonderful characters, great story. Nobody Owens escapes death at age 2 or 3 by toddling into a graveyard when his parents and sister are murdered nearby. He is then raised by the long dead inhabitants of the graveyard. As one might imagine, the person who murdered his family, really wants him dead and returns to finish the job when Bod is about 15. Considering the author, it's not surprising it has a bit of a comic-book flair to it. One of the best I read this year.

Book 50: Death by Cashmere, by Sally Goldenbaum. I wish I could say the same about this book, but I can't. The worst disservice done to this novel, is the blurb on the back summarizing the characters, plot was wrong. It had the owner of the knit shop as the protagonist, not the owner's aunt, who only knits occasionally. Very disappointed.

Book 51: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Fortunately, with this challenge one could re-read a book read previously. I lost track as to how many times I've read this one. This version was from Audible.com and was brilliantly read by Tim Curry.

I'm currently reading the Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Joe Grey mystery. I'm about a third through it. So, I'm confident it was be Book 52 - if only I can find the time!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Today on Cat TV . . .

We've had a wonderful growing season in eastern South Dakota this year. The corn field behind our house is the highest I've seen for some time. Unfortunately, the fall has been too wet to go out and harvest it. The farmer got out before Thanksgiving and made a few swipes, but finally got out in force today. This was wonderful news for my oldest cat, Hans. He loves watching large machinery. He's been at the back window most of the morning watching the harvester. If I talk to him he turns politely to acknowledge I've spoken and goes right back to watching. His partner in crime, Greta, is not at all interested and is sleeping in a sunbeam.

Off the needles: I've been working a ton of hours (enough that I wish I was paid hourly instead of a salary!), so not much knitting has been accomplished. Buffalo Gold yarn company asked me to test knit a pattern for them so they'd have enough product for upcoming trunk shows. I was more than happy to help them out. The shawl above is the Wildflower Lace Scarf designed by Evelyn Clark and made out of the Wichita Mountain colorway of Buffalo Gold Lux Laceweight. It's a great pattern and wonderful yarn with which to work.

On the needles: I'm working on socks (I know, big surprise) using bamboo yarn and my own design. I'm not real pleased with the bamboo. It's starting to look shopworn just from knitting. But I'll post a photo when they're done and washed. Hopefully, this is just a temporary thing. I think this will be Pair No. 27, or maybe 28 in the 52 Pair Plunge III.

Also on the needles is the Herbivore shawl by Stephen West. I'm through the first section and into the second. I hope to have this finished this week, as it sounds like the super-cold weather of winter is going to hit later this week.

On the wheel: A few months ago, I drum-carded some of the colorways which did not sell in my Etsy shop. I coming to the end of that and I'm very pleased with the results. I used blues and purples and greens and turquoises - very cool eclectic mix in a three-ply yarn. Film later.

52 Books in 52 Weeks - so close and yet so far. I'm on Books 49 and 50, but not quite done with either. Hopefully, next week, they'll both be ready to review.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

52 Books in 52 Weeks Update

I've been having some problems uploading photos to blogger tonight, so I went in through a back door for the sock photos. I apologize for the change in format. I hope I figure out the problem before my next post.

Since I finished two more books this week one excellent/one not so good, I wanted to post anyway.

The first book I finished was Murder List by Julie Garwood. This is book 47 for the year and a real disappointment. Fortunately, I got this book for free on a special from e-books or I would be angry I wasted money on it. I understand this author usually writes romances, which are not my cup of tea. It may be that influence on the plot of this book that made it just about unbearable for me, but I "gotter done". The plot revolves around a wealthy, good-looking young woman who makes out a list of people she'd like to see murdered, she loses the list and guess what happens. Of course, she gets the man of her dreams at the end and a lot of people she doesn't like get eliminated from the face of earth. This plot just hit me wrong on so many levels.

But the second book I finished was probably one of the best books I have ever read. Book No. 48 is The Thirteenth Story by Diane Setterfield. There is a thread of Jane Eyre and the theme of being an outsider which runs through this story. So if you love the Brontes as much as I do, you'll love picking this thread up, losing it, and picking it up again. The story is set in modern day Yorkshire, but tells a tale of twins which covers a good part of the 20th century. It is fascinating to the point I felt guilty if I didn't have time to read some every day. This book called out to me like a good friend to open it up and sit down with a cup of coffee and spend some time catching up. The marvelous thing about this book is that the author leaves no loose threads at the end. One leaves The Thirteenth Story knowing what happens to every character, however minor, with the exception on the storyteller's mother, which is telling in and of itself. I highly recommend this book. I usually take every fiction book I read to the used book store to trade - but not this one. It's a keeper. I'm going to visit again.

Taupe is the Color of My Life

Labyrinth Socks
Originally uploaded by bruggerknits
Taupe seems to be the color of my life, whether I want it to or not. This pair of socks is a prime example. Incidentally, this pair is Pair No. 27 in the 52 Pair Plunge III. The pattern is Labyrinth, designed by Wendy Johnson (aka Wendy Knits) and the yarn is Luxe Grrl by Tempted in the BonJour colorway. These are sport-weight, so are a bit heavier than I usually make/wear.

But it's the color that's important. I got this yarn as part of the Tempted at 3am Sock Club. I groaned when I saw the colorway. Because like it or not taupe is the color of my life. This taupe, mixed with a little pink, immediately brought me back to the bathroom of the house I grew up in. Even the fixtures were taupe (as was the outside of the house). As you can see from the photo the walls of our current house is a little different shade of taupe (as is, again, the outside of the house). Every house, with the exception of one, has either been taupe or was painted taupe after we lived there. Currently, our entire house is taupe. It was that way when we bought it. One would think I really liked taupe, but I don't.

Incidentally, great pattern, I made it a bit smaller than the women's small and great yarn. I usually don't use sport-weight for socks, but the cashmere in this yarn will make it all worthwhile.

Baby Lace Socks

Baby Lace Socks
Originally uploaded by bruggerknits
I apologize for blogging this way; but there seems to be a problem with loading photos into Blogger this evening so . . . This is Pair No. 26 in the 52 Pair Plunge III. It's made from my Sheepish Fibers Big Foot in the Lemon Drop colorway and it's based on a knitted baby sock from a crochet book from the 40s. Given the confusing directions in that book/leaflet, I can understand how people became disillusioned with needlearts.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Survived Halloween!

Halloween night in East River South Dakota was a beautiful night with an almost full moon, little wind and warmer temperatures than we've had for a long time. Oh, and it was a Saturday night - but you probably already knew that. It was a good thing I bought four big bags of candy because I was out by 7:30 p.m. People were driving up with van loads of kids. Some of the vans had license plates which were issued in counties 50 miles from here! Granted we have a lot of children in our neighborhood and I know most of them at least by sight, but there were a whole lot more than that. What was really great was that 99% of them dressed up and a good number of their parents who were taking them around were dressed up as well. All in all, it was fun, but it was hectic!

I Off the Needles: I did manage to finish two more pairs to the 52 Pair Plunge III challenge. Pair No. 24 is based on a pair named Emily's Socks in the 2-At-A-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. I am busily using up scrap yarn in any way I can. Another example of that is the pair to the left, No. 25, which is made from a left-over sock blank and some scrap Wildfoote by Brown Sheep. I recently counted up my full skeins of sock yarn (not counting what I have for sale in my Etsy shop) and I have enough for 18 pairs of socks, which still brings me a few short for the 52 Pair Plunge.

On the Needles: I've just started Pair No. 26 which is a pair of baby lace socks rewritten from an old crochet book (still can't figure out why I book entitled "Crochet" has knit patterns). But then after deciphering the pattern I can understand why needle arts kind of died out for awhile - those that needed patterns were just frustrated! These socks are in what is leftover from a skein of my Big Foot yarn. After this pair, I'll be half-done with the challenge!

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book No. 46 - Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti, by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain. I usually don't include the fiber books I read in my 52 Book Challenge. I'm making an exception on this one because I am fascinated with the whole concept of Yarn Bombing. I first heard about it a few months ago and admittedly, was a bit put off by the term. It is not destructive as one would believe from the term bombing. Initially, I thought planes flew overhead and dropped skeins of yarn on the unsuspecting. While I rather liked the thought of German sock yarn being dropped into my yard, there is a very constructive side to this medium and a very artistic one.

We have all viewed graffiti and for some the graffiti is a form of vandalism, but for some people and for some graffiti, it is a beautiful form of street art. Unfortunately, in our town we have freight trains going through frequently (usually during rush hours) and frankly, the only positive to this for me is the graffiti on the cars. I am awestruck. Someone has taken an ugly thing and made it beautiful (at least to me, I'm sure the railroads consider a crime). Yarn Bombing does the same thing. Suddenly small forms of knitted or crocheted work show up in unexpected places. Knitted feet on the base of signs, cozy-like garments on hand rails and parking meters, scarfs on statues. All are provided with a bit a humor.

Yarn Bombing has not only the patterns and photographs, but also vignettes on how others are bombing. It's a great book to get any fiber artist thinking. I am currently working on a yarn bombing project for my office at work. For now, I will simply say it is seasonal and will come down after Christmas. I'll post pictures when it's up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It's right up there with Valentine's Day. I'm not sure why, because neither holiday was particularly important in our house growing up. Perhaps, it's because they're both low stress holidays for me - no big holiday dinners, no long list of presents to find, and I can wear what I want! So have a great one! I'm stocked up on candy, even though I'm not much of a candy person. But I figure most of it will go either from people stopping in the Center on Saturday or the Saturday night tricks n' treaters.
Off the needles: Pair No. 22 in the 52 Pair Plunge III/Amethyst Cable Socks. These are made from my Big Foot sock yarn in the Amethyst colorway. I'm switching to children's socks while a work to get a head of the curve in "the Plunge." Here's Pair No. 23 from some scrap sock yarn:

On the Needles: Pair No. 24 of Plunge Socks. Another pair of childrens' socks in more scrap yarn. Photo next time!

52 Books in 52 Weeks/Book 45: The Blueberry Muffin Murders, by Joanne Fluke. This is one of the earlier ones in the series so it filled me in a little bit more on the background of the characters. Fluke does a wonderful job of carrying a number of sub-plots along and tying everything together at the end. This one is about the murder of a TV cook/personality who is murdered in Hannah's pantry after eating one of Hannah's blueberry muffins.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Revontuli Shawl

I received the extra ball of Kauni yarn this week and finished up the Revontuli Shawl. Here it is still drying with the blocking wires in it. I ordered the yarn for this a few weeks ago, but received the wrong colorway. I started it anyway and was very disappointed about the use of gray and beige. Now that the extra ball arrived and it's finished, I'm very pleased with the way the colors turned out.

On the Needles: I'm still plugging away at Pair No. 22 of the 52 Pair Plunge. Now that I am once again a monogamous knitter, they should be done in no time!

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book No. 45: The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I've been following this one on the Craft Lit Podcast . I am quite surprised by how differently I look at the storyline than I did when I read it last in high school. Well worth the re-visit!

I am currently listening to the Blueberry Muffin Mystery by Joanne Fluke and reading The Thirteen tale.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Knitting, Lifelines and Airport Security

I recently had to travel by air. That sentence is one that causes most knitters to cringe - myself included. We've all heard stories about the confiscation of knitting needles or damage to equipment and the like. Frankly, until my last trip, I hadn't run into many problems. I do carry a self-addressed, stamped flat rate priority mail envelope so that if there is a problem I can mail the offending piece of equipment home. I thought that might happen this time.

I have been working on Revontuli Shawls, designed by Anne M. I brought the first one which was about two-thirds completed along on the trip. My bag was set aside for additional scrutiny. The security officer (our sort of local airport has opted out of using TSA for that) set my bag on the counter and opened up the top-most compartment. He took one giant step backwards, "Oh, knitting," he gasped. He scored brownie points right away for correctly identifying the occupant of that compartment. He stepped a bit closer with his hand extended over it, as though he was hesitating to move it. It turned out that was because he was.

Still standing behind the partial partition so that I couldn't touch my bag, I sensed his caution. "It has a lifeline, so you can't hurt it," I told him. He released a sigh of relief. "Good," he said. "The first day on the job I pulled the needle out of some one's knitting by accident, and it wasn't very pretty - for me."

Off the Needles: The Revontuli Shawl shown at the top of my post. I also finished yet another pair of socks - Basketweave Socks that I started last time. This pair is No. 21 in the 52 Pair Plunge and is made from my own Sheepish Fibers Big Foot in the colorway Brock's Truck (periwinkle)

On the Needles: I am working on a second Revontuli Shawl using Kauni wool that has long color repeats in shades of purple. It should be done by my next post (unless I post tomorrow).
I am also working on pair No. 22 in the 52 Pair Plunge which is a pair of cable socks in the Amethyst colorway in Big Foot.

On the Wheel: I am spinning a blend of superwash wool and nylon. I've blended some greens, blues, turquoises and lavenders in to a three-ply.

On the Carder: My next spinning project is going to be a blend I'm working on of brown wool, tussah silk and Pokey the alpaca fleece.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: The real up side of travel for me is that I get some uninterrupted reading time. In the past couple weeks, I've made up some time in this challenge.

Book #41: Rumpole a la Carte, by John Mortimer. A whole book of Rumpole short stories. I few of them I remembered seeing on Mystery some time back - still enjoyable.

Book #42: Crewel World, by Monica Ferris. I think this one might be the first in the series as Betsy inherits the yarn shop after the murder of her sister. Some interesting characters some going with stereotype and some going the opposite direction, make this a readable series.

Book #43: Finnegan's Week, by Joseph Wambaugh. It's been some time since I read a Joseph Wambaugh book. I remembered them being better. Still, this wasn't too bad. The hero, Fin Finnegan is concerned about his acting career and turning 45, and about solving the theft of hazardous waste and it's deadly effect on a little boy in Mexico.

Book #44: Dying for Chocolate, by Diane Mott Davidson. This is another new series for me and it revolves around Goldie the Caterer who lives and works in a small town in Colorado, with her young son - and did I mention there's murders? There are a number of interest sub-plots as well as a love interest. I think I'll be looking for more in this series.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Falling Off the Wagon

After knitting through I can't remember how many miles of sock yarn I was determined to not let my stash grow that large again. Then I went to the North Country Fiber Fair last weekend. Have I mentioned my favorite four-letter "s" word is "sale"? It is, and I found one on my favorite weight of yarn - fingering. They were selling it by the pound!!! I couldn't help myself. I bought about two pounds. With the 52 Pair Plunge III and another idea I have swirling around in my head, it will likely be pretty well knitted up by next years North Country Fiber Fair, when I'll probably fall off the wagon again.

It's been a busy week. Part of it was spent recovering from the fiber fair (I don't think I've ever worked as hard or had as much fun at the same time!) and then finding out, to my extreme pleasure, that I was selected for a position I really wanted. Since it appears not all the finalists for the position have been notified, I can't say much yet. Suffice to say the shingle from my day job figuratively went in the wood chipper this week!

Curiously enough, I have been reading Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, by Julie Morgenstern. It's for those of us for whom "Organizing Isn't Enough." While I'm organized, I do tend to hang on to things as my life takes different directions. I did fairly well unloading when we moved here a few years ago, because we had to pay for the move ourselves. Nevertheless, as I move on to new things, I am spending a few hours a day in the garage going through boxes and divesting myself of papers I, or anyone else, will ever need. Since there are some limitations as to what I can do with client files, those will remain locked away for some time yet. While I thought I'd be sad about putting part of my life in the recycle bin, it's only making me that much more excited about my new position. Also, it looks like we'll have room for both cars, both bicycles, both lawnmowers and the snowblower. More importantly, we should be able to walk through the garage without hurting ourselves!

Off the Needles: Monkey Socks in Happy Feet by Plymouth Yarns. If you remember, last week I was a bit concerned that I would have enough yarn to complete these. I did have enough. But as you can see in the photo, there is not much yarn left. I enjoyed working with this yarn and would buy it again, but not for something that takes as much yarn as Monkey Socks. The color is rich and has a very nice depth to it. These were a couple of the skeins I purchased a few weeks ago at Athena Fibers, that just seemed to jump out at me. This is great yarn for beginning sock knitters - not "splitty" and very economical, but still a good quality.

On the Needles: Despite all efforts to do one project at a time, I was seduced by a Revontuli-shawl at the North Country Fiber Fair hanging in the South Dakota Natural Colored Wool Booth. It's not from South Dakota wool. Instead, they used Kauni yarn. While I've attempted to obtain a skein from WEBS (long story, not pretty), I was so excited about trying this pattern, I am doing it with Schoppel wolle Zauberball Crazy. When I purchaed this yarn (it was another one from by big dollar day at Athena Fibers), I was a little concerned about using it for socks, because it is a little fuzzy. I've found that sometimes this type of sock yarn felts. I do think it is working up well for the Revontuli/Northern Lights shawl. I hope some day WEBS sends me the ball of Kauni I ordered, because it will look great in that as well.

Sock Pair No. 21/Basket Weave Socks using my Big Foot Merino/Tencel blend, in the Brock's Truck colorway. The merino/tencel blend is a new base yarn I'm using for my Etsy shop. I'm finding it to have a nice sheen to it and it takes the dye well. These socks are coming out at an 8 stitches to the inch with a 0 needle and it's a little firm. I think it probably wants to be more at 7.5 stitches to the inch.

Hans & Greta: Both spent part of the morning in conversation at the lower level window in the family room. I finally went over to see what they were "talking" about and there was a mouse/vole/small rodent stuck in between the bricks of the window well. Apparently, it had eaten too much and it's butt got too big to get back in. All you could see was this mouse butt wiggling and the back legs scrambling, and two amused cats watching.

I hope to finished a number of books for the 52 Books challenge for next time. I do have another trip in my immediate future and since I'm not driving this time, I hope to get quite a bit read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

North Country Fiber Fair

I've spent a good part of the past week getting ready for the North Country Fiber Fair. I'm not able to vend this year due to the number of classes I'm taking, as well as teaching. Even so, I've been getting two of my spinning wheels oiled and lithium greased as well as polished up for the weekend. My Ashford Traditional Wheel that I've had for almost 30 years now is not making the trip this year. A number of years ago, I demonstrated spinning at an art fair and got caught in the rain. Now the poor wheel sounds like a bullfrog when it's treadled - ree-deep, ree-deep, ree-deep. I do have the replacement leather parts which should help, but I just haven't had time to do anything with it. Also, it is so much bigger than the Ashford Joy and Hitchhiker wheels that it takes up quite a bit of space in my little Civic.

I also sewed a fabric liner for one of baskets I keep "stuff" for spinning. I had some old green rickrack that I think I got in an antique container I purchased on eBay. I hadn't seen that color since I was in junior high, but it was a perfect match for the green in the fabric. This was a fun project. I forgot how much I enjoy sewing. There's just not enough hours in the day for me!

Off the Spindle: I received a couple ounces of this roving in an order from The Sheep Shed Studio in Encampment, WY. As you can see it's no longer roving, but yarn. I plan to make a cap with it. The color is so rich. When I checked the site, it looked like there was some of this roving left.

I'm holding off spinning anything more until this weekend so I have enough empty spools!

On the Needles: I'm knitting a pair of Monkey Socks in Happy Feet. I'll write more about this yarn next time, after I've completed the socks. Granted Monkeys take a bit more yarn than Plain Vanilla Socks, but with my Child's Size 3 feet, I'm not sure I'm going to have enough - film at eleven!

Off the Needles: Cabled Socks - this is Pair No. 19 in the 52 Pair Plunge. I used Regia Sock Yarn with a colorway designed by Kaffe Fassett. Regia and Trekking XXL still remain my two favorite commercial sock yarns.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 39 - China Trade, by S. J. Rozan. This is the first in the Bill Smith/Lydia Chin series set in Chinatown in New York City and it revolves around a porcelain theft. When I started this book, I thought the first 50 pages or so were pretty unremarkable, but before long I discovered I was sucked in and could not put it down.

Book 40 - Naked in Death, by J.D. Robb. I've read some of these later in the series, but I wish I would have read this one first because it revolves around Eve Dallas meeting Rourke and provides some excellent background information for the books later in the series. In this book, licensed companions are murdered by what appears to be one john. I'm not much for science fiction or futuristic books, but I do like these. I think that may be at least in part because the characters are so believable and so human. Most futuristic books I've read and not liked, it's been because the people are like robots.

In closing, I was trying to get an Etsy shop update completed, but of course, one of the cats feels the need to "help". Hans was acting like he really wanted his photo taken - so I took it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

This is My Story & I'm Sticking to It

On Friday, I drove to Sioux Falls to go to the dentist. As I get older, I resent going to the dentist more and more - probably because more and more needs to be done. Rather than go into details, suffice it to say I thought I'd reward myself after by picking up a couple cards of reinforcement thread for sock toes at Athena Fibers. (The reinforcement thread is the charcoal-colored cards at the bottom of the photo.) I was just at Athena Fibers a couple weeks ago and only one type of sock yarn appealed to me, so I really thought I'd be safe going in to get the reinforcement thread. Well, they must have received a couple shipments in the meantime because there was all kinds of gorgeous sock yarn there and brands I'd only read about on the internet. I decided to reward myself. Afterall, I'd taken a last minute cancellation at the dentist's office, got up an hour earlier than usual to get to Sioux Falls in time to take it and I didn't have any cavities. I deserved it. So instead of just the reinforcment thread (at $2.75 a card) I added Trekking Handpaint, some Happy Feet and the new Nashua Handknits sock yarn designed by Kristin Nichols. Oh, and then there's the ball of Crazy yarn by Schoppenwolle. I'm sure these are all going to be put to use in the 52 Pair Plunge III, so stay tuned!

Speaking of which, I finally charted out my socks and the Trekking Handpainted Broken Rib Socks is/are Pair No. 18 (so I can count, thank you very much!) The unsure kitty below with the sock monolith is Hans.

Also, off the needles this week is the Mr. Greenjeans Sweater and I finally fulled the Knit One Below-style bag. I also finished carding Pokey, the alpaca fleece.

Currently, on the needles is Pair No. 19 in the 52 Pair Plunge III, a pair of Cabled Socks - which are in the blue colorway I've used repeatedly recently, so I didn't photograph the work in progress.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: I've finishing a number of audiobooks and regular books lately.

Book No. 36: The Bone Vault, by Linda Fairstein. I've seen a lot of her books in the stores, but had never read or listened to one. I really liked the main character of this one, Alex Cooper, but unfortunately, the audio version was abridged and left me with more questions than answers. I do know, however, I will try another one of Fairstein's books.

Book No. 37: The Long Fall, by Walter Moseley. Moseley is one of my favorites and this book only reinforced that. He introduces a new character a middle-aged, sort-of retired boxer who works as private eye in New York. One of the aspects of Moseley's work to date is that it takes place in the mid-20th century Los Angeles - an era which has always held a fascination for me. I quickly discovered that aspect was not why I enjoy his books, it's the great characters and the not so idyllic private lives of his main characters. Outstanding.

Book No. 38: Spirit Sickness, by Kirk Mitchell. I just finished the unabridged audible.com version within the hour. Unless I'm driving alone, I rarely get through a recorded book this quickly. If I don't get much done this weekend, it's because I've been so wrapped up in this book, I couldn't get to it. Anna Turnipseed and Emmit Parker are searching for Gila Monster on the Navajo reservation. I'm afraid to say anything more because I don't want to ruin it for anyone. Another outstanding book.

Greta & Hans: We're finally getting back to our usual routine around here. We're all catching up on our sleep now that Greta is back to normal. Her illness was particularly hard on Hans, who sat by her without much sleep while she was so ill. Thanks to everyone who wrote to check up on her!

Hans (on the top step) Greta (on the couch)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Miss Greta Loses One of Nine Lives - A Cautionary Tail/Tale

We came very close to losing Miss Greta this week. Suffice it to say, we learned a lot, but we didn't have fun. What we thought was a problem with hairballs, turned out to be a severe urinary tract infection. We learned that simply because a cat is throwing up, it can be a lot more serious than hairballs. I want to thank my friends on Plurk and Twitter for their very helpful suggestions - particularly, the friend who gently reminded me that cats usually aren't "sick" with hairballs. Fortunately, that suggestion stuck with me and we got her to the vet first thing Friday. Because our Miss Greta is one tough cookie, the vet thought she probably had this infection for some time and it just suddenly brought her down. Through every one's thoughts and prayers and excellent veterinary care, Miss Greta is at the deck door right now cursing at the birds - just two days after taking her to the vet. She's a ways from her usual perky self, but she's back on the path.

On a brighter note, I want to give my Yankee Ingenuity Award to FNB Plastics for developing the "Original Spinning Wheel Cup Holder." One of the down sides for spinning, at least for me, was that I didn't have a place to have my coffee or soda near. I could move the wheel near a table, but then it blocks the door. When I'm at a spinning event, the cup has to go on the floor and then I'd have to stop spinning and reach down and grab it. It just wasn't efficient. Now, the cup holder sits on top of the wheel, at least for the Ashford Joy wheel, and I can drink, many times without stopping the wheel. There's models for many different wheels and more in development. To attach, there's bolts that fit through the open spaces in the wheel, so there is no glue, no drilling into the wheel. The cup holders are made in the USA and are reasonably priced from the manufacturer (mine was $30, with shipping). FBN Plastics can be found at www.fnbplastics.etsy.com

On the Needles: I seemed to have skipped Sock Pair #13 - so I am actually on Pair #17 which is from Trekking Hand Painted. I'll have to get the numbering straightened on Ravelry. (No wonder math is not my strong suit - I can't even count!)

Off the Needles: Since it's been a little over a week since I've blogged, I've finished off Pair #14 - the Bubble Hand Spun, which was photographed last time; Pair #15 - a pair of socks from leftover Regia self-striping (I think) with vanilla heels and toes from Brown Sheep Wildfoote; Pair #16 which is left over hand-dyed sock blank with Wildfoote heels, toes and cuff in a burnt orange.

52 Books in 52 Weeks/Book No. 35: The Piano Teacher by Lynn York. This is not the usual type of book I pick up; however, one of the blurbs said that Ms. York was a cross between Agatha Christie and Flannery O'Connor - two of my favorites, for very different reasons. Other than the fact this was "sort of" a cosy mystery and it was set in the South, I didn't catch the resemblance. An okay beach read, but then I'm not a beach person.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Finally! The Reason I Have Problems With Math

Last time I talked about how 3 = 1 by plying three single strands into one yarn. This week I've taken the one yarn and made it into two socks at the same time. Therefore, 3 = 1 = 2. Anyone that has known me for any length of time knows about my aversion to math and that I have knit forever. Particularly disturbing to anyone that enjoys working with numbers is my argument that it's illogical and my demonstration above and last time only goes to show that it is illogical or it's an explanation as to why I have problems with math. These socks are now finished and are from my hand spun. I have lots of yarn left over, so I'm sure you'll be seeing it in other garments in the coming months. This is Pair #15 in the 52 Pair Plunge.

Off the Needles: Also, off the needles is Pair #14 my Bubble Socks, which was my stealth project from last week.

On the Needles: I'm working on a pair of cropped socks from leftover yarn. This pair will be Pair #15. It just dawned on my that I am more than a quarter done with this challenge.

On the Carder: I haven't mentioned Pokey, the alpaca fleece for a while. I'm finally to the point it's not behaving like linguine noodles and expanding each time I take more out of the bag - I can finally see an end to the process. It's still a ways down the road, but there is an end. I have decided that Pokey should blend fleeces from Abbie, Black Ear and Patches' Boy, some of our local sheep. The finished garment should be worn by someone on the red carpet, so when they're asked, "Who are you wearing?", they can say Pokey, Abbie, Black Ear and Patches' Boy. Yeah, right.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: I have been reading The Piano Teacher and Buffalo for the Broken Heart. If I'd concentrated on one, I might have one finished - but no. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

1 + 1 + 1 = 1

So when does 3 = 1? When you take three single plies and make them into a 3-ply yarn! I spun the three bobbins of very fine singles of hand-painted superwash wool to the left and then spent the past few lunch hours plying them into the yarn on the jumbo bobbin to the right. The yarn on the right is very fine in diameter and hopefully, after handwashing and air drying, it will measure out to fingering or sock weight yarn. This was my Tour de Fleece challenge that I didn't finish in time. I think I may have way more yardage than I need for a pair of socks; but with hand spun yarn, it's not like you can go to the store and get another skein.

When I was running road races, I used to dream about coming in after the race was all over and every one had left. Fortunately, that never happened - until now. I finished up the challenge about a week and a half after the end of the race! I'm looking forward to making this yarn into socks.

On the Needles: Currently, I have a stealth project on the needles. A new toe-up pattern which works up very quickly. Hopefully, I'll have the pattern posted with photos for the next blog. It took some doing, but I am finally down to doing one project at a time. The loophole in that philosophy is that I have one project on the needles, one project on the hook, one project on the spindle and yet another on the quilting machine.

Off the Needles: I have finished the Knit One Below bag, and will photograph it after it's been felted. After my last disaster felting, I can't quite bring myself to put it in the washing machine - quite yet at any rate.

Also, off the needles is Pair No. 13 of the 52 Pair Plunge III - another pair of Waterfall Socks. This pair was made with Tess of Maine Designer Yarn. Love the base yarn, love the color, hate that color came off in my hands. I will have to wash these before wearing them - probably using a Color Catcher sheet or I'll have blue feet! I think the Waterfall Socks (designed by WendyKnits) look much better in this yarn than the Mini-Mochi.

52 Books in 52 Weeks/Book 34: The Dark Horse, by Craig Johnson. This is the latest in the Sheriff Walt Longmire series - another one of my favorites. The characters make this book and the plot's not half bad either. In this one, the Sheriff goes undercover to investigate the murder of the husband of a woman sitting in his jail. This series reminds of a modern-day Lone Ranger, complete with an Indian sidekick. There's great action and while the endings may not be a sappy as the Lone Ranger, they are good, strong resolutions. I got to the end of this one on a Sunday night, knowing full well I had to get up early for work on Monday. I also knew I couldn't sleep until I finished it. So I dragged myself around all Monday, drinking way too much coffee - but it was worth it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is It Summer Yet?

Usually in South Dakota we have many more hot days in July than we've had this year. In fact, more days than not, we've bundled up in the morning to take our daily bike ride. There's only been a few days I've been able to wear shorts. Even so, the flowers seem to enjoy the cooler weather and our lily trees (l) and Oriental Lily (r) had extraordinary flowers this year.

Waterfall socks
Originally uploaded by bruggerknits

On the Needles: I enjoyed making WendyKnits' Waterfall Socks so much last week, I started a second pair on Sunday. It's so much fun tonight, Tuesday, I already turned the heels on both socks. This will be Pair #13 in the 52 Pair Plunge III on Ravelry.

Off the Needles: Pair #11 in the 52 Pair Plunge III was my first pair of Waterfall Socks. I made these in Mini Mochi which is probably a nice yarn for everything except socks. It's a loosely spun one-ply yarn. I am very concerned about these socks felting from wear. Of additional concern is that I purchased two balls of the same dye lot and the colors were wound on the balls in opposite directions. Had I known, I could have started one sock from the end of one ball and the second sock from the inside of the other and I would have been fine! I do like identical socks, but these ended up as being slightly different. I do start and end on the same color though!

Pair #12 was another pair of baby socks made out of the Debra Norville sock yarn.

On/Off the Spindle: I've decided that next year I am going to do my level-headed best to avoid challenges and knit-a-longs, particularly on Ravelry. Why? Because I am very disappointed in myself because I didn't finish my goal in Tour de Fleece. I am competitive by nature and I know, it was supposed to be a fun thing . . . Anyway, next year is going to be the year to relax and enjoy it. Someone may need to remind me.

52 Books in 52 Weeks/Book 33: Santa Clawed, by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown. I always enjoy reading about Christmas in July. I used think it was a heat thing, but it couldn't be that this year, so it must be a fun thing. Also, Mrs. Murphy Mysteries are probably my favorite and this one did not disappoint! This one involved the murders of monks, plus one - very good ending!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lost & Found

From time to time I get the urge to organize. Usually, it happens at the first of the year. The next most common time is when I have been unable to find something. As I discovered today, those two times can collide into disaster.

I could not find something in my office. It's not material what it is, but it is important. I looked in all the logical places and organized as I went. There was still a glaring hole in the middle of the data range of the documents. In the course of looking for that glaring hole, I moved two boxes of recycled paper, mostly in the form of catalogs and magazines out of my office and eliminated, three rather large piles of "stuff" of the paper variety, mostly advertisements and articles I had cut out, for what reason, I don't know anymore. I also knocked three chessmen behind the file cabinet - probably to remain until we re-carpet or move. Once the piles were eliminated, I noticed a pristine narrow three-ring binder on the file cabinet. I looked inside. It was the glaring hole I'd been looking for, the victim of my organizational efforts from the first of the year.

I'm finding the blank places on my desk and floor a little scary - but I'll get used to them, I hope.

Off the Needles: Nanner Socks, designed by Wendy D. Johnson, in my very own Sheepish Fibers Big Foot in Lemon Drop. I like my socks to hit about mid-shin so if my slacks ride up, folks just get to look at more of my socks! I'm very happy with these. It's a fun pattern and available on Ravelry or WendyKnits website. Incidentally, these are Pair #10 of the 52 Pair Plunge III and yet another pair for Summer of Socks 2009 and the Great Sock Off. I haven't figured up the yardage yet for Limenviolet's Sock Marathon, but I'm well over four miles already and three was my goal, so give math is my least favorite activity, it may not get figured up. (This math stuff cuts into my knitting time!)

On the Needles: I had so much with the Nanner Socks, I started Wendy D. Johnson's Waterfall Socks (which are available at the same two locations - did I mention it's a free download?) I am using the Mini Mochi that I purchased at Stitches West. In fact, I purchased this yarn after I saw WendyKnits pair of Waterfall Socks in Mini Mochi. It was all the rage at Stitches West, but I'm not convinced a single-ply yarn is appropriate for socks, particularly one that is so softly spun. I did use re-enforcing thread in the toes. I will be very surprised if they don't felt while I'm wearing them - but I'll keep you posted.

I also have a pair of children's socks on the needles for a yarn review for Knitting Purls, so I'll show those there first. Incidentally, Knitting Purls is a free publication and you can subscribe by contacting them at info@knittingpurls.com.

On the Spindle/Off the Spindle: I'm still treadling away on the Tour de Fleece roving. I now have two bobbins completed, count 'em two bobbins! I'm not sure I'll get this completed by the end of the tour, but I'll be so far along, I'll finish soon after. I can't wait to start the plying of this to see how it comes out.

52 Books in 52 Weeks/Book 32: A Widow for One Year, by John Irving. I haven't read anything current from John Irving, so I can't say if he is still using the same elements or not. One of the fascinating things about a John Irving novel is his use of many of the same elements, but he integrates them into a totally different story. In his earlier novels, like Garp and Hotel New Hampshire and to some extent, Cider House Rules, he utilizes elements like child death, hotels, prostitution, writers, sexual intercourse in multiples and a child who misinterprets a word or phrase (under tow in Garp; ring bearer in Widow). He weaves these into a story much like a fiber artist, who uses many of the same fibers, but in different colors and textures, into a wonderful story. I rarely "like" his female characters, in that they aren't the kind of people I generally associate, but always "love" his male characters, who are usually just as flawed as his female characters, but much more charming. This is a great book and well worth the time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


There are times I feel like I'm juggling lit torches and this was one of those weeks. I don't think I was really any busier than usual, it just seemed like it. As I start the new week, my desk seems a bit more orderly than it usual does at this time of the week, so perhaps the extra scramble during the week was worth it.

On the Needles: Nanner Socks by Wendy D. Johnson (Wendy Knits). I'm just starting so the my yellow socks look like what one of my good friends calls my bikini top! I'm using some of my own yarn - Sheepish Fibers Big Foot in the Lemon Drop Colorway. I'm sure to have some left over, even if I make the socks extra long, as I like them.

Also, on the needles, I've continued with my big black and teal bag which is shown in last week's entry. I hope to have that completed this week. So hopefully, next week at this time, it will be all felted up and ready to use!

Off the needles: I finished the Knotty or Knice Socks which I started last week. The yarn is from Fleece Artist and it's in wonderful pastel shades of green, lavender and blue. These are a little shorter than I usually make, but the pattern was so complex, I really just wanted to be done!

On the Spindle: I'm still working on the Tour de Fleece with the Ember colorway of my superwash roving. Bobbin 1 is completed and I'm well on my way to completing Bobbin 2.

52 Books in 52 Weeks/Book 31: Catnap, by Carole Nelson Douglas. This is the first entry into the Midnight Louie series, one of my favorites. Douglas lands us right into the middle of Temple and Louie's lives, so there could always be a prequel! Midnight Louie and Temple meet at the American Booksellers Association convention in Las Vegas. They encounter a body and find the catnapped Baker & Taylor Scottish-fold cats. There's always a lot of action in the Midnight Louie series and this first one set the pace.

Out in the Garden: I have plenty of weeding to keep up on, but the lilies are coming in. I tend to buy perennials at the end of the season, so sometimes, I'm not really sure what is going to bloom the next summer. The pink and whites ones were a complete, and very pleasant surprise!

Other projects are limping along. I haven't forgotten about the Pokey fleece or the Bug Jar Quilt. The quilt I'm still hoping to finish quilting this month. I'm also still listening to A Widow for One Year, that may be completed this week - hopefully - as long as I'm not juggling again this week!