Sunday, September 27, 2009

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things...

Oooh....bad blogger! It's been too long since I've posted and I'm not going to try and come up with the 20 million reasons that I haven't, but I do have one really good one.

Introducing (only 2 1/2 months after coming home)....Sir Chappy Chomperton, Gentle Dog of Crime.
He's now 17 1/2 weeks old, so a little over 4 months, and already weighs a whopping 31 pounds. He's growing at an alarming rate, but is turning into an utter sweetie. So who am I to complain.

I've also been doing a lot of spinning and knitting when I have time. I've been spinning up some singles for a laceweight yarn from AllSpunUp's August/September Spin Along. The fiber is merino/bamboo/silk and is a dream to spin. I'm hoping that I get some decent yardage out of it.
The spindle is a .5 ounce Bosworth Featherweight Spindle in Red Cedar. Bosworth spindles are amazing, spin like a dream, and the woods they have available are just wonderful.

Not sure what I'll knit from this, will just have to wait and see what the final yardage is after washing. Now, I will be cheating and plying this on my Kromski Sonata. For some reason, whenever I try plying with a spindle, well, lets just say we don't get along. Maybe I'll have to try it again, but I want to make sure that with this fiber, I get a nice even plying job.

As a reference back to the last AllSpunUp spin along fiber that I was in the process of knitting up, I did finally get it done, but alas I have no photos of the finished, blocked shawl yet.

I have though done some test knitting and test knitting of handdyed sock yarn. One of the test knits was for Anne Hanson of Knitspot and her Hillflowers pattern. You can see the post with the stole version I knit up here. I also test knit some new sock yarn for PoppyFlowerFibers on Etsy. It a lovely superwash merino...oh so very soft. You can see pictures here. Lisa's done a wonderful job of dying so that there is no pooling of colors. Yum!

My birthday was recent and thanks to a wonderful mom who sent me some birthday money, I splurged on some yummy fiber from ButterflyGirlDesigns and EnchantedKnoll on etsy and some laceweight and fingering weight from KnitPicks.

The bottom batt is Glacier Lake from Butterfly Girl. The 2 green batts are the superwash merino Fern batts from Enchanted Knoll. The purple yarn at the top left is Gloss Lace, the next three are shadow lace from Knit Picks (the blue and red are the kettle dyed line of shadow) and the purple balls of yarn is Palette in Clematis Heather. The Palette is going to be used for a very large shawl...thinking Maplewing by Anne Hanson. The pattern is for laceweight yarn, but I'm wanting to have a large warm shawl for the cooler upcoming weather, and I think that this might fit the bill.

I have some spinning calling my name....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Keeps Going and Going and Going...

I have finally decided that the ball of handspun that I'm using to make the Fan and Feather Comfort Shawl is the never ending ball of yarn. If you remember back to this post (scroll down a bit for the picture) I used my new netbook as a reference for size. a few days later we are at this...
I still have a lot of yarn left, so I'm just going to keep knitting. When I measured it earlier yesterday it was already over 20" long down the center and that's before stretched and blocked so who knows how big this is going to be. It will be much easier to block now that I have lace blocking wires on the way thanks to a certain special garden know who you are. :)

As simple a pattern as this shawl is, it's still a joy to knit. I think a lot of that comes from the fun of being able to knit with your own handspun. Of course, since I have a stockpile of handspun that I really need to knit up, though it is really pretty in hanks and sitting on a shelf where I can admire it, it is calling to me to be something more.

This was my first yarn spun on my very first Bosworth spindle. I was originally going to plan on making a 2 ply but it's just so pretty as singles and since they seem to have come out pretty even, I left it as it was. I need to count yardage so that I know what I can do with it, but as of know it's next in line to be knit up. It's been calling to me. It's Purple Haze BFL from Spunky Ecelectic. If I have the yardage it might become a swallowtail shawl (Ravelry Link) though usually I don't like knitting up a shawl pattern I've already done, the first one was for my wonderful mom for Christmas, but it's a great pattern even with all the crazy amount of nupps. Hopefully I'll get a yardage count today.

The tomatoes keep growing and I finally have blooms on my cherry tomato and more on the brandywine. With the cooler wet weather things have been slow, but we finally reached into the 80's this week and they are just taking off.
And those blossoms I mentioned...
My hope now is that the weather plays nice and the blossoms have a chance to start turning into tomatoes. Tomatoes can be weather finicky. If days are above about 90 and the nights are above 78 it can cause blossom drop. Keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have the problem for awhile.

My nasturiums are finally coming up. I probably should have started them indoors awhile ago so that they have a longer bloom time, but better late than never.
Nice thing about nasturiums is that not only are the flowers pretty but they are edible. I haven't tried them yet, but supposedly they have a slightly peppery taste and are great in salads. Of course using them for the edible end only if they haven't been sprayed with any type of chemical. I joke that I garden naturally because I'm too lazy to spray but to be honest it's because I don't like using chemicals. The only thing I've used in the past is water and dish soap to deal with mites and aphids. I figure if the plant is healthy and has little stress it normally can handle itself, but there are times when we gardeners must step in and lend a hand.

I've also got sweet basil growing again. It wouldn't be a summer without fresh pesto. If you have never had fresh pesto, try some, you're in for a treat. I'm not talking the store bought stuff but the stuff you make yourself. Yummy stuff. Since I'm limited on space since I still rent the house where I'm currently living, I grow my basil in a pot. Later in the summer it ends up needing to be watered quite often, but mines in a 12" pot and seems to do pretty well.
This is probably one of the more easy herbs to grow, though mints will beat this any day. Mint is a bit quite aggressive. If you want it in your garden I highly recommend planting in a pot and than putting the pot in the ground. It will help control the roots and bit more and anything that escapes from the pot can be removed to keep it confined.

On the spinning front...I'm still working on the ashland bay merino/silk, but I'm planning on starting another spinning project but can't decide which fiber to go with. I have a few braids that I can't decide between and I've had for awhile. 2 our merino/silk from Allspunup and the other is Creatively Dyed Seawool. be honest the 2 merino/silk blends from Allspunup are pretty similar and I might just spin up each braid as a single and then ply them both together. I never realized just how similar they were till I took them out and laid them next to each other for a comparison picture.
Don't I feel just silly. I guess I'm just consistent on what I like. :)

And the Creatively Dyed seawool:
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Which ever one I pick though it will be laceweight.

And for one last parting shot...
Vinca in a cute little yellow pot. Since my big front porch flower pots (scroll down to almost the end of the post for the picture) are mostly dark colors I figure that adding one of these in front of each of those would brighten things up a bit. Now with the weather finally getting warm they should really take off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Late Night Part II

11 1/2 hour days makes the blogging brain a bit fuzzy. Can we also add in the one way 1 hour commute for a grand total of 2 hours commuting a day. And since I still don't have pictures of knitting...hey it was getting dark when I got home. Today will be eye candy. Hopefully we will return to our regularly scheduled blogging on the morrow.

Marigolds! Have them in front of my tomato and pepper plants. They're supposedly useful in keeping pesky bugs away.

Banana tree...over the winter we lost power for three days and it was really cold, the leaves took damage and it lost a few since then, but after being outside for awhile...completely happy plant. i know that it's going to put on a lot of growth during the summer so finding a place for it during the winter is going to make things very interesting. I'll try and get a picture that puts it's size into perspective.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Rain, Late Nights, and Purple Flowers

I love purple coneflowers and seeing that pictures makes up for a long day at work. Late meetings always wear me out even when I go in late to try and make up for it. But we're not hear to discuss my work hours. Though, it did rain AGAIN on my way home from work. I'm really starting to wondering if the weather knows how to do anything else but rain. Though this week is suppose to start getting into the upper 80's which I don't mind, but do mind when the AC has conked out. You know it's bad when you start to hear the AC cycle on than hear a resounding thud. Yup...AC is down and out and may need a complete replacement, the fan won't even work. I guess that's one of the good things about living in a rental, I don't have to pay the repair fees. Might make sleeping tomorrow night interesting with the warmer temperatures and humidty, but we shall see.
I figured that showing another flower, this one's Black Eyed Susan, before telling you about my escapades in my apparent inability to read a pattern today. Kept working on the bricker socks hoping to get them done before the end of the week. I've already finished the first sock, no problems. Wonderful. 2nd sock though apparently is trying to trip me up.

Finish leg repeats...check. Switch stitches around for heel flap...check. Knit heel flap...check. Turn heel...check. Pick up stitches on side one of heel flap...check. Begin to knit in pattern again on front side of sock...NOT check. I had forgotten one little itty bitty detail before beginning the heel and switching stitches to the correct needles. Knit 3 stitches from needle 1 to needle 3. Hmm...think that might make a difference? Yup...had to rip it all the way back to before starting the heel and fix that minor detail. So...behind, again. blah.

I think we're back on track now and the sock will be done in the time framed that I planned.

I think I'm nearing the end of the Fan and Feather Comfort shawl. Soon my friends, soon.

With trying to get that knitting done and crazy work schedules it's pretty much eating up most of my time. Hopefully in the next few days I'll have some new pictures to show you, I hope. In the meantime I'll shower you with flower pictures.

All these pictures are ones that I took from my mother's garden a few years ago, but I never had any good way to share them until now. My mom introduced me to gardening when I was young and if it weren't for her I know that I wouldn't be where I'm at now. Thanks mom, I couldn't have done it without you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Long Time No See

Compared to the last four posts this one is going to be a tad on the short side. We have some friends coming into town tonight that I haven't seen in about 6 years. It's one of Dave's best friends from high school and it will be nice to visit with them for the evening.

I don't want to keep boring you with the same old knitting that I've been working on, that just gets boring. but I should have pictures late of them both being finished. So, instead I'll go back in time and provide some eye candy on a previously finished FO. I can get away with that since I didn't have a blog going when I was working on it and after it was finished.

This is Coral Gables by Anne Hanson. I was my first test knit for Anne and it was a done of fun. It's such an easy knit, but looks absolutely beautiful. The yarn if Fearless Fibers merino laceweight in Brunette. It's on the heavier side of laceweight but oh so soft and squishy.
This will be getting reblocked as soon as I get my hands on some lace blocking wires. I did the string thing for blocking, but we just don't get along well. Or maybe it's my lack of patience, haven't decided yet. Guess I'll have to wait and see how things go once I get those wires. Then again, I've been saying I need to get blocking wires for awhile now and haven't gotten around to it. Oops.

Okay, I know I said short post...but I dont' have any spinning to show off that's new, but I do have plants photos!
These are Sycamores. I love the bark on these trees. It's simply beautiful. Though they can be prone to a fungal leaf disease called anthracnose, they are still worth it. Typically it causes leaf drop which can be kind of messy due to the large leaves, but it the trees are under little other stress factors they can typically handle it. We've had such a cool wet spring that I'm won't be surprised to see that leaf drop a bit later this season.
And one last pictures.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weekends Go To Quickly

Doesn't it always seem that those precious things called weekends go by way too quickly? At the end I always feel like I need more time because you spend time on your weekend doing all the things that you don't have time for during the week. Just think if weekends were longer just how much knitting you'd actually be able to accomplish! But that's just the way things are, but I did have a good weekend. I knitted, I spun, I chose a puppy. (Read yesterday's post for all the exciting information on puppy!)

I got further on the Bricker socks, only have one more repeat on the leg and then it's on to the heel and once I'm past that, the rest will fly. Sorry I don't have an updated picture, I tried taking one but it was all blurry and now that the sun is setting, the lighting isn't going to do picture taking much good. Lets not even discuss my indoor lighting situation.

But I do have an updated pictures of the Feather and Fan Comfort shawl. It doesn't look much farther in the picture compared to the other post but I promise I am farther.

I haven't even counted how many stitches I'm at, and I dont' really want to. It will make me dread the cast off. I'm just going to keep knitting until I run out of handspun. I can't even tell you what the original yardage was before I started knitting because I forgot to count. But I can at least show you a picture of the mega hank that was the yarn before winding. The fiber started out as 8 ounces of BFL yumminess.

The pattern really moves along quite quickly you just need to remember what side your on and how many stitches before and after the main pattern repeat. Simple really.

As for other spinning fronts, I think that I mentioned that I'd been on a laceweight spinning kick lately. Well, to be honest, I've tried spinning thicker and I'm struggling. When I first started spinning, people said that once you get better you can spin thinner, but then spinning thicker is like having to relearn to spin all over again. Yeesh! They weren't kidding. So, I'm just going to keep going with the lace weight thing, just means more mileage out of my fiber. I guess that if I want fingering weight yarns, than it's going to be three ply for me.

I typically like having more than one spinning or knitting project going at the same time, so that if I need a break from one, I can easily switch. Okay, as for spinning, if I just need a change in the color scenery or the look of a spindle, the weight doesn't change. Knittingwise, I like have a small and large project going. I'm in love with knitting lace shawls and always seem to have one on the needles. Which of course right now is the Feather and Fan, but I already have another one started. I'll save that for a later post.

As for spinning, I already showed the AllSpunUp sw merino spin along fiber in an earlier post, so I'll show my other current spinning project.
It's Ashland Bay merino/silk blend in Sea Mist. The spindle is a Bosworth mini in Red Cedar, weighs about .5 ounces. Love their spindles! I have another one in paduak. I still have a lot left to spin of this. Started as 8 ounces and I'm almost through the first half. It'll end up being a 2 ply in the end. If your wondering, the stuff drafts like butter. Just slides right along happy as punch. I have no idea how much yardage I'll get, but if I have enough, yup, it'll end up getting knit it a shawl. What pattern I'll use...I have no idea.

By the way, Miss Brandywine Tomato is still going and growing strong. Bigger than a couple of days ago. Could it have something to do with what I woke up to yesterday?
Who knows. We are way above average precipitation right now. Apparently it's the 5th wettest spring since they started recording weather statistics in the 1800's.

And just for a little eye candy...

The left flower is the Blue Wave Petunia, the copper leaf is Sweet Potato Vine, Sweet Caroline Bronze, and the pink is a zonal geranium. I much prefer zonal geraniums to seed geraniums, they just always seem to grow better. I have two pots set up like that on my front steps. Every year is something different. Keeps it interesting and I like to try different things. Now I will say that I did have sweet potato vine in the pots last year, but is was the vibrant green version called Margarita. They can start out kind of slow, but when they get going, it's like their off to the races.

And for those of you keeping tabs on the new puppy...

Until the next time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Puppy Days of Summer

Pre-warning, this post is going to start on a bit of a sad note, but I promise it will end happy. So please read on.

About 5 weeks ago my boyfriend and I lost our beagle Berfert to old age. We had him about 6 1/2 years and he was our baby. He was a stray that walked up to us one cold winter morning and I joke that he saw us and said "Oooh! Suckers!" He filled our lives and so many others which much happiness and puppy love. We kept forgetting that he was already an adult when we found him, and loosing him was a great shock. One we were not prepared for. I would break down into tears daily for the first week and then it became a bit less. I still miss him very much. Granted, we were partial, but we always said that he was the best dog ever and he will always, always hold a special place in my heart.
We always knew that he wouldn't be around forever, and we knew that he was older and eventually we would get another dog. Dave told me that he was interested in English Bulldogs. When he told me that I raised and eyebrow and though huh....bulldog? I never disliked bulldogs, but had never thought about having one in our home. After we lost Bert we started talking about getting another dog. We are very much dog people and the though of not having a dog was not something we wanted. So...we began discussing adoptions, rescues, breeders...we looked into all of them. I started to do research on bulldogs and breeders in our area and came a across a few that we visited. We finally decided on one that just happened to have a litter of puppies that were to be born in May. The pups would be ready to go home the middle of July when they would be 8 weeks old, but could I wait that long? Well, after much discussion and the fact that we really liked the breeder, I decided that I could handle waiting. We saw pictures of them the day they were born, saw then when they were a week old, and today we went and saw them at 3 1/2 weeks. We had seen recent pictures, but wanted to meet them in person before making a decision, and today was decision day. We left for the breeder at 11:45 am getting there a little after one. So amazingly cute! So, without further adieu, let me introduce you to Chappy. (So named for the Charlie Chaplain like mustache marking under his nose).

And Chappy saying I'm happy with my new parents!
Welcome to our family Chappy. You'll be in your new home in 4 weeks. We're very excited.

I promise that the next post will have knitting, gardening, and all that good stuff, and maybe an additional Chappy picture. :)