the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Bloomin' Feet ARRIVED!

I was very very good yesterday... before I went to work, a package arrived for me. Alas, my camera was still at home (and this gift was with me at work) .. so I waited and waited ...and waited until I arrived home to take photos of how pretty it was even before I ripped into it :-) Well, to tell the 'truth', no actual ripping was done... the wrapping for my fabulous socks was a lovely handmade cloth bag (which is already stuffed with my current sock project!

And here they are! Thank you soooo much for these beauties Becky ! They fit as though my feet were there living with you as you knit (smiles) Oooh la la.. the softness... and the color (my favorite!) This is me sitting on the front porch steps of our home (where there was still sunlight to photograph them last night) I could not wait to get them on.. and donned them right over my hose. :-)

There were also other little goodies in my package,(in addition to the handmade knitting bag) ..yes, she truly spoiled me ! some small purple post-its, a bit of yarn for future darning, and some lovely silver stitch markers.. one that says 'imagine' and another that is adorned with little stars. All topped off with an hysterically funny card!
Becky you're the best!! Go and check out her blog, and give her some applause for a job well done!

And finally today, a small request for all my knitting blog friends. I have been writing to a delightful gentleman who is a fly fisherman. He ties his own fishing flies, and has serendipitously stumbled upon our little ring of knitters. He has asked me if we have any bits and scraps of yarn (ho ho ho.. he cannot even possibly imagine the combined stash of this gang can he :-)
Anyway... he can make beautiful use of scraps that are 5" or longer, and he's willing to pay for shipping to him. Colors that work well would be any of the earth tones, jewel tones or things with a bit of sheen to them as well. He is offering also to trade for heirloom tomato seeds (which he grows himself!) His tomatoes grow to be 8-10 feet tall . Whoa!
If you have any bits that you might be able to share, please email me for further info about how to get them to him.... teyani AT crownmountainfarms DOT com .
This is a truly dear person.... let's show him what we can do ! and thank you..

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Baby goats and sheep update

Here's how I spent my afternoon - One of our oldest goat Mamas, Una, gave birth this morning. She is such a trooper. Una gained her name years ago as a result of having only one horn. And throughout the years, she has given us some of our best cashgora goats.
Two days ago, she had been knocked down (by those flirty boy goats) and was stuck up against the fence... dear K went to the rescue, lifted her up and away from the fence. (by the way.. pregnant female goats are not light weight..) He actually ended up calling the vet since she was quite traumatized by all the pushing and shoving from her male goat buddies.

The vet came, gave her something to settle her down once again and let us know that K was right, she was going to give birth soon. Now K is very attuned to his goats and sheep - almost like a sixth sense. He drove down several times to check on them last night... nothing... then this morning - she gave birth to the little beauty I'm holding!
Now this wonderful goat, Una, was one of the most prolific with her fleeces. hmmmm... lots of fleece (shearing is in 2 weeks) = hard for the baby goat to nurse. So down K and I went this afternoon, and gave her belly a trim.
Mama and baby are resting as we speak - and we're hoping for the best (as far as the nursing goes) Most likely K will drive back down and 'encourage' the baby again a time or two today.

Here's a few other faces from the newest members of our flock...These are the three month olds - aren't they adorable! I wish we could keep them ALL. Oh yes... and one of the Shetland sheep gave birth to a new baby yesterday.. (almost forgot amid all the action today!) Never a dull moment on the farm :-)

When in doubt... us your newest stash!

This is what I accumulated while at Stitches West this year. I have not yet knit with any of it, but there are a few projects dancing around in my head.

The brown series might be a long jacket, and the red series will most likely be a dramatic shawl.
I sure had some fun shopping - (and had to sit on my suitcase to get it zipped closed.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Knitting is like life:

Sometimes I find that my knitting is like my life... it pays to not look too far ahead. And you can expect some beautiful surprises along the way.
Trust in the process.. every once in awhile check where you are, but if you believe you're on track, keep going.

In my scant 5 years from being a "re-born" knitter, I have moved from scarves, hats and more scarves.. to sweaters and gloves and socks!

Life is challenging - at least mine is. If I look too far ahead, the worry jumps up and bites me, screaming with concern about 'will this work?' Is this really sane? how can you even imagine what you are thinking of..... well, today, my knitting reminds me of this insane questioning.
A few months ago, I began the Cinixia sweater..a sweater of my dreams I might add - and I spun with hopes and dreams woven into each moment. I bought 14 two ounce skeins of delicious bombyx merino fiber from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks.. sigh.(a big financial investment for anyone!). and I spun on faith. I was aiming for a yarn that would knit up well on size 7 needes. success ! My sample proved to be the right gauge !

Gorgeous colors - a dreamy pattern.. offering no seams, 3/4 length sleeves and lots of flowing movement in the design. I deligently knit the main part of the sweater body - trying hard not to read ahead too far. Every time I did, my heart began to beat rapidly.. I found myself imagining the worst.. how can this work? I asked myself again and again.. this was a new designer, that I had never used. Could I trust her to write the pattern clearly? could I believe my own eyes when reading the pattern? Even as unsure as I was, I carried on.
Now this is where life is like knitting..... know yourself, trust the process.. check in to reality now and then, but keep moving.
I KNEW that I had spun the right gauge..
I KNEW that I loved the fiber...
I hoped (and prayed) that the pattern was correct, despite my dis-belief..
How in the world could you knit the sleeves AND the body of the sweater on one circular needle at the same time?...
Well, what I did, as in my life, is that I suspended my dis-belief. I kept on knitting. I followed the pattern directions, one row at a time.. and diligently forced myself not to read too far ahead (no crystal ball gazing for this knitter!) and I kept on knitting.. row by row.. inch by inch. until finally today, I knit the sleeves onto the same needle as the body of the sweater.
words fail me. It worked!
This photo is a testimony to the wonderful pattern Cinixia. I am indeed knitting on one circular needle (with no seams for later sewing up) both the sleeves and the body of the sweater.
So here is the part where it is again like my life.... I really cannot explain to anyone how this is working, nor why I am not accidently sewing the sleeves together as I knit along.. but - it works. The circular sleeves are growing while attached to the sweater - its magic. ! Well, I guess you'll just have to try it yourself!
The photo shows the bottom half of the sweater - there are several more inches to go before I begin the decreases..(and no, I'm not reading ahead) It is a row by row knitting project now. and I cover up the future directions lest my heart begins to palpitate! As in life.. I am showing up, doing what is right in front of me, and knowing that I am willing to rip like h**l if it doesn't work..
I figure I'm covered. :-)

Oh and here is the embroidery that Leah requested. I really did stitch this - about 15 years ago (or was that a lifetime :-) I also used to make hand made quilts (as in zero- machine-stitches for a full-sized quilt) sigh. that was all pre-knitting flu. It was fun. My double boxes of embroidery floss and at least six plastic bins of fabric lay in waiting until I return to them.. perhaps one day when the knitting world runs out of patterns!
today I'm hooked on magic sweaters.
life is magical and wonderful.
don't read too far ahead.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I just don't get it

I have often said to my husband that it takes one heck of a lot to have me discuss politics.. but every now and then it happens.
So.. I have an opinion, and I'm gonna share it.
that's all this is - one soul's view.
Please feel free to skip this blog entry if it upsets you. No pictures this time, only words.

Yesterday on our NBC newscast at 6pm, the reporter stated that in the last three years, we have spent over $200 billion dollars on the "war" in Iraq. Over 30,000 Iraq citizens have been killed, and that over 2300 U.S. citizens have been killed. Numbers of fatalities from other nationalities were not given in this report. I cannot verify the accuracy of this report - I can only relay it on to you.

$200 BILLION dollars.... does anyone know how many zeros that would be behind that little number two?... all right, I looked it up here's how it would look:


Can anyone conceive that much money all put in one place?

Here's the part I just don't understand: We supposedly began the 'war' there on the threat of "wmd" that .. hmmm, were never found... and we have continued the 'war' there based on 'assisting that country to implement a democratic voting system', and other trappings of a democratic society that... hmm...we cannot even achieve in our own country.
let's see here... this is from a government that also runs FEMA.. a useless acronym that translates to an agency who doesn't show up on time, doesn't help its people and continues to this day to allow citizens of this country to "live" as homeless people... yes folks, it has been 7 months since the major devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the vast majority of those hit hardest are still without shelter (unless they have solved it themselves) - AND the democracy in which we live (that we are touting to all the other countries of the world) is taking away what little support these homeless people have - they are withdrawing payments for their temporary housing.
Now let's see if I follow the logic here (and I use the term loosely).
$200 billion spent in Iraq = 0 at home
This is not a situation I am proud to be a part of.
Does anyone out there care to hazard a guess as to how many people $200 billion would feed and house?
I am for peace.
not peace at any costs, just peace.
Peace to all who read this missive.
Please knit in peace.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

In honor of Spring

Tomorrow is the first day of spring! Despite the snow showers we had last weekend, the flowers have buds - the fruit trees are looking fuzzy-wuzzy and a couple of daffodils have opened.
at precisely March 20 at 1:26 p.m., EST Spring begins!
Yesterday was spent digging up grass, planting pansies and spreading 10 bags of cedar bark mulch in the garden at my office - which all added up to a long soak in the bath last night. (too weary to even knit!)
Blogger has been having a mild spaz attack off and on today, so no garden pictures.. BUT I was able to load a couple of nice things to look at.
We were also treated to a gorgeous sunrise over Mount Rainier - and a spectacular sunset. Enjoy.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bloomin' Feet Fini

At last! Don't you just love completion!! I just finished my socks for the Bloomin' Feet Swap. For those of you who are just dropping by this blog for the first time, Amanda and Becky are the hosts of this wonderful sock exchange. It's the first I have joined, and certainly will not be the last.
These socks were a delight to knit.
I used the pattern Conwy from Nancy Bush's book Knitting on the Road.
Size 0 needles
Yarn: Dicentra Designs - colorway Kingsfoil
(note to fans of this yarn.. we have it on sale til the end of the month)
The challenge for this swap was to use a floral theme that matched your partner's favorite flower. Can anyone guess what flower this design reminded me of?
Nope - no clues yet.. my sock pal might suspect who she is - and the grand swap day isn't until March 31st. So many beautiful socks have been created. I can't wait to see which one's going to arrive at MY door :-)

I had a few challenges with this choice of pattern and yarn - first of all increased the number of stitches on the sock foot by 12 (I had found that only 60 stitches was a bit tight for me and my sock buddy has about the same size foot as I do) The second challenge was to attempt to match the way the yarn danced around the sock.. well.. I got close.. let's say they are kissin' cousins and hope that my sock pal doesn't mind that the match is not exact. The final (and ultimate) challenge is.... (holding my breath)... will they fit! Tune back in of 3/31 and find out!

And now, all you fellow knitters, here's a marvelous knitting tip (courtesy of Karen Alfke.. bless you Karen)... in photo number one.. zoom in, see that little pink post-it? Yup.. that's my "old" form of tracking which row I'm on in a pattern. How many of us have (gasp) lost that tiny post-it, only to run frantically around the house.. where is it? have you seen it?
Well, as the intrepid knitter says.. fret no more. Zoom in on the next photo. See that little bit of knotted string? hmmm... all you sherlocks.. take a guess... YES ! There are little knots tied in it, matching the number of pattern design rows. All one needs to do is carry this yarn at the beginning of the row, and move down a knotted section when beginning a new row. Viola! Simple, smart, easy.. my kind of idea :-)
Oh yes.. and the new socks pictured on the needles? They are for my husband - some gorgeous Lorna's Laces yarn, and a pattern of Basketweave socks from Sensational Knitted Socks.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday thoughts

There really is not much that I enjoy more than handspun bombyx-merino yarn gliding in all its jewel-toned splendor through my fingers.
A fresh cup of Torrefazione coffee sits on the table beside my knitting chair. The dye pots are cooking along, filled with a batch of corriedale pencil roving. The sun pours itself through the windows -warming my back.. and it is difficult to remember the snow of just yesterday morning.

The pattern I am using (Cinixia) is simple enough as I begin the cuff of the first sleeve. Cast on 63 - find size 7 needles. My mind can wander. I watch the colors - purple, green, deep blue - move around the needles and I dream of dahlias. Deep, luscious dahlias - dancing with the wind in my garden on top of our hill. A new package of bulbs that I bought last week lays on the porch, waiting patiently to be planted.
Even our ever-wild black kittens are sleeping. Sprawled and stretched as long as they can make themselves in the sunshine that pools on the rug by my feet.

Shall I go out and weed? Slip 1, purl 3, Slip 1.
My mind wanders yet again.. Plant the new dahlias while I dream of summer color? Mulch the new garden beds I dug last year? Is it time to plant the strawberries? Slip 1 Knit 3, yarn in front, Slip 1.
to uncover the raised beds from their winter slumber?Was it really only 20 degrees outside this morning when I awoke? Purl 3, slip 1, purl 3.
It was a hectic work week - filled with clients who work hard on their health - paperwork to mail to insurance companies so I am paid. Knit 3, yarn in front, slip 1, Knit 3. Taxes to be filed. Continuing Ed classes attended to maintain my current credentials. Purl 1, slip 1, Purl 3.
The mind chatter finally slows as I sit knitting after such a week. Knit 1, yarn in front, slip 1 , knit 3. New creations for our website sparkle around the edges of my thoughts as I continue my knitting - Purl 3, slip 1, purl 3.

I set aside my knitting - pour another cup of rich coffee, and poke my head outside. It's noon now and the sun is full and bright. Ah..... I sigh. It's still cold. (my heart does a small happy dance)

I sit. Watch the sun fade for a moment when a cloud passes. A sip of coffee. Needles again in my hands. yummmm, I purr like my cats.
Where was I? oh yes - Knit 3, yarn in front, slip 1, knit 3. The sun appears from behind the cloud. silk shines and glitters through the rich merino wool. Purl 3, slip 1, purl 3.

The swallows have returned to build their nests once more in the eaves of our home on the hill. Spring is close.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cableback Fingerless Gloves

A few weeks ago, we attended Madrona Fiber Arts in Tacoma WA, and I had the good fortune to take a couple classes. One of my favorites taught me this:

I just LOVE these gloves! I knit them from one ball of Debbie Bliss cashmerino yarn (yumm!) and edged it with a fun angora that I picked up while at Stitches West. This is a fast knit, great for gifts. I've enjoyed this so much, I immediately cast on for another pair - for my daughter. Karen Alfke taught this class. She was spontaneous, fun and absolutely brilliant in her teaching methods. If you ever get to take a class with her, jump on it.
It actually snowed here yesterday, and I got to wear them - warm and toasty hands (despite the lack of finger coverage) - and best yet, you can still knit with your gloves on :-)

The sheep are really enjoying being back on our property - they come up every morning to the top of the hill and baaaa until we go out and give them their special little grain treats. When spring comes around, and I am back out in the garden, they serenade me all day long.

Here's a couple pictures for the sky watcher fans - Mt Rainier hiding behind the clouds and a lovely contrast sky a few morning's ago.

Last, but by far least - Bloomin' Feet update.... we have a heel on sock number two! I hope to finish it up this weekend. This has been a grand adventure getting to know all the participants in this sock exchange. I believe that Amanda and Becky will be sponsoring another exchange in the fall - join in - you won't regret it!

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Backyard tour

This post is for Becky's backyard tour. It's an interesting challenge to decide what part is our "back yard" - since we live on top of a hill, with a circular drive running all the way around the hill and up to the house. I ultimately decided to just leave off the view from the front door.

It's winter here still in the Great Northwest - and that translate to .. brown.
The fruit trees are dormant still, the fairy garden lies idle, and the raised beds (there's six of them in total) remain covered in the hopes of killing off all that crab grass.

Mount Rainier is hiding behind the rain clouds this morning. The good news is that we still are able to see beauty amidst the brown.
Give us another month out here and the flowers will arrive :-)

Oh my - I almost forgot the bottom of the hill view - our beautiful animals! Here's a peek at a few of them - they add quite a bit of character to our view!

Thursday, March 2, 2006

who would have thought, cats like bamboo !

It seems a long time ago, yet was only a few months, that I set out to find a kimono-style jacket to knit out of bamboo yarn. Amid all the whoopla of Madrona Fiber Arts Fair and Knitting Olympics, I was able to complete this little gem!
It has become one of my favorite pieces of knitted wear. Sorry that the pictures are dark. We'll wait for a sunnier day to reshoot the photos for our website, but I could not resist posting a few. Here's me in all my silliness, showing off the front and back of this sweet jacket. (photos edited to omit my goofy facial expressions)

It is a pattern from summer 2005 Knitters Magazine, called "sunset wrap". I knit it on size 8 needles with a double strand of bamboo yarn. The pattern itself was not a challenge - rather just miles and miles of lovely draped goddess-ness to complete. It was one of those projects that appear to never grow, despite hours of knitting.. you know, the old stop and measure, am I there yet syndrome? then suddenly, viola! complete!

It is essentially three knit rectangles, sewn together at the top and bottom of the arms, then hooked together in front with a pin or button.

Alright, now to the question I posed in the beginning... who would have thought that cats love bamboo ? bamboo needles, bamboo yarn.. my cats aren't picky! the biggest challenge in this entire project was that my cats (still kittens really) would attack and chew this yarn to shreads. There are more hidden knots in this jacket than any other project I've ever knit! funny. If I sat down my knitting for even a moment, I would find it strewn from one end of the livingroom to the other - and they hardly ever attack other random balls of wool that lay languoring about the house.
Even to this day I carefully close my bamboo jacket in the closet, shutting out that tasty aroma of bamboo... kitty lovers be forewarned ! :-)
And now - FINALLY, I return to finish Bloomin' Feet - I have about 3 inches knit on the second sock, and am excited to get back to it. What a difference .25mm makes in knitting. The lacey socks I knit for Knitting Olympics breezed along on a 2.25 needle.. and now the 2.0mm seem just eenie-weenie! Good thing I love the yarn and the pattern!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

wonderful medals

The Olympics are over, and the medals are all handed out. Athletes are basking in the glory of a job well done.

Some of the stories that have appeared about knitters around the world are truly inspiring. Take a moment and check them out at the Yarn Harlot's blog. and also at Team Dpn blog
the creativity of people never ceases to amaze me.

As for me, its wonderful to be part of something that brings the world together - instead of tearing it apart. as Shakespere said, "Knit your hearts with an unslipping knot".
It's a shame that knitters don't rule the world.