Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Wonderland

The roads are pretty clear now and we can move around at will (except the old BMW is still encased in an ice cocoon, so we're sharing the minivan -- and that gets old). The sun came out today and made all the ice turn into silver tinsel. It looks so festive out there!

The picture to the left was taken when the snow was really coming down hard.

I've been inside trying not to go crazy with the kids (and even Jeff for one day) all hanging around the house, nagging them to pick up after themselves and clean their rooms, etc. Finally, they did put away all their clean clothes and their rooms are -- if not tidy -- at least habitable.
The house is still at 6s and 7s though because the finishing moldings for the floor still haven't arrived. Surely, they'll be here by Monday and Adam can finish the floor and we'll be able to move our furniture back in place. I don't like having everything out of order.

Last Saturday I took a class from Pat Maley at the Guild about spinning novelty yarns. One of the yarns we learned to do appealed to me, so when I got home I went through the Stash and found 4 ounces of a sky blue Romney/Mohair/Silk blend. I spun it into a chunky slub yarn and then plied it against itself, trying to match the slubs as much as possible. This is the result. I need to ask Pat how I could improve it though. I think the slubs are too loose and between the slubs the yarn is so tight that it feels like wire. There must be a way to make it better.

Still, I was able to use the yarn. I found a pattern on Ravelry and made this hat. The clever part about it is that it's made for girls (like Kate) who often wear their hair in a ponytail. The picture shows the hat from the back, the front is just plain. Sometimes it's hard to get a hat over a ponytail, but with this hat you just unbutton the buttons and put the ponytail in the hole. When you refasten the buttons, you can stay warm and still have a ponytail. I thought it was a cute pattern. Kate doesn't seem so enthusiastic. She's holding out for an angora tam made with Genevieve's fur.
So, now that the yarn and hat are done, I have no excuse to stay away from the second sock out of the dreaded Red Heart sock yarn. Starting at the top of the sock, I'm about halfway down the leg and I hope to turn the heel during the Super Bowl tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Day

We have a snow day today! Lots of snow outside -- It's 11:15 a.m. and the girls still aren't up. They're enjoying the chance to sleep in.

I finished one sock last night. It's sort of an experiment. It's a very plain sock, but at the heel I started working so that the knit fabric is on the inside to give a smoother surface for the foot. I've heard it called a "princess" foot. I slipped it on and it does feel a lot smoother.

The yarn, however, is simply awful. I ran out of knitting projects when I was in Florida, so I went in desperation to "Michael's" and bought -- gasp -- some "Red Heart" self-striping superwash wool sock yarn. Now, in my own defense, I have to say that I did check the label and it is WOOL, not ACRYLIC. I had never seen "Red Heart" wool before and I thought -- in my desperation -- that I would give it a chance. As I knitted it, there were FOUR (4) breaks in the yarn. I'd be knitting along and just come to an end. Moreover, the dying is just horrible. It's meant to be a self-striping yarn, but there are accidental blotches of color that show up randomly just anywhere.

I seldom have Second Sock Syndrome because I'm eager to complete the pair and wear them but, in this case, I don't know if I can bring myself to knit the second sock. That being said, the princess foot is nice and I think they'll be comfortable after they're washed. From the very beginning I intended them as a gift, so I may follow through.

Last Saturday, I got to attend Pat Maley's Designer Yarn class at the Guild. We did chunky yarns and I learned a great slub yarn that I'm making a skein of here at home. I had a bunch of Romney/Mohair/Silk top in my stash in a sky blue color, so I'm spinning up 4 ounces of it with a view to making Kate a hat. The color will look great with her eyes.

It's not the hat she wants. She wants one like Ally's but made out of Genevieve's fur, but I'm not up for all that labor again just yet.

Speaking of Ally's hat, last weekend at church the VMA elementary art teacher saw it and just about had a fit when I explained that it was handspun and hand knitted out of our angora fur. She was thrilled with it and borrowed it to show some other people. It was very flattering.
I guess I'd better rally the troops and try to get something done today. I told the girls that if they got a snow day part of it would be spent cleaning their rooms. Now to bring that threat/promise to fruition! (evil laugh)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Latest Finished Objects

My first finished object of the new year was Linda's beaded silk scarf. I still need to block it and send it to her. I love the way the little beads are nestled into it for about 6 inches on both ends. It gives it a good weight and drape.
My second was Ally's cabled tam, which I made out of hand-dyed 50% angora (from Andy) and 50% targhee that I spun into a worsted weight 2-ply. I think it turned out really cute and she's been wearing it all the time. I dyed it to go with her burgundy winter coat. It doesn't match exactly but it blends well. The more she wears it, the fuzzier it gets. I took this picture of her on her way out the door to school this morning and she didn't appreciate it. Now Kate wants me to make her one out of Genevieve's fur!

News from the Home Front

I've returned from seeing the world and now I'm trying to snuggle into my corner of it. That's a little difficult because my whole house is in an uproar. We're FINALLY getting the flooring put down in the family room. This has been in the works for literally years.

I hate hate hate the stained, worn, melon-colored carpet in the family room, but somehow we never got around to doing anything about it. We wanted hardwood flooring because of Jeff's allergies and we even got as far as picking some out a couple of times ... but it never happened until this fall I pulled the trigger and actually ordered it. Sam, however, isn't quite sure this is a good idea.

It's gorgeous Armstrong Grand Illusions Cherry -- a dark cherry laminate floor with a high gloss that I love (even though I'm a little nervous about it showing scratches). Although it sells in the stores for about $8/square foot, I was able to get it online for about $2/square foot. The lady who runs our cleaning service has a husband, Adam, who seems to know everything about home projects, is installing it for us even as I write this. I can't WAIT! So far, he has two rows of planks laid down.

On another front: A little over a week ago, we bred Genevieve with Andy. We've got our fingers crossed that we may have some angora babies around Valentine's Day. Since they would be a cross between a satin and a french, I'm not sure what type of rabbits we would call them. Since they won't show the satin characteristics and (I think) satins were originally bred from french angoras, maybe they would be french? Let me know, if anyone knows. Maybe I'm just supposed to call them mixed breed. Anyway, we're anxiously awaiting their potential arrival.

Lynne and I finally got together yesterday for a very late Christmas lunch. I gave her a knitted nativity scene, which is pictured in an earlier post. She, however, gave me such a beautiful gift! She made me TWO needle cases! They are simply gorgeous. I tried to make one for my sister (see an earlier post) and had a miserable time with it. Lynne actually knows how to sew though! These needle cases are just perfect. One has a sheep motif and I have immediately filled it with all of my double point needles. I have a LOT and the case held them all with ease. The second one is also adorable with little bees all over it. I wonder if I could put circular needles in it somehow? I'll find some good use for it! It's got so many little pockets -- it has a lot of potential.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A rolling stone gathers no moss

I survived Christmas 2008! AND I have finished the Christmas knitting that didn't quite get done in time for the actual day. Yea!

Since Christmas, I've been engaged in a whirlwind of travel. The day after, Jeff and the girls took a plane for Vero Beach, Florida, while I drove down to Lexington to pick up my folks and drive down to Vero. Next time, I'm flying. I can't believe how long it took to drive to Florida ... of course, stopping every 10 minutes to either eat or go to the bathroom didn't help. Still, we had a good visit while we drove ... and drove ... and drove.

When we got to Vero, Mom and Dad and I went to see McKee Gardens, which I had been told was a fantastic botanical garden. They omitted to say: "50 years ago." Over time, the acreage has been whittled down to the point that the gardens are only a shadow of their former glory. It was pretty, but nothing spectacular.
And what was there was spoiled by what I can only conclude was an inconceived attempt to attract attention to the gardens. A "famous" glass artist had put art everywhere. These little guys were totally gay in every way. I felt it detracted from the natural beauty of the place, even though the glasswork itself was not unattractive.

At Vero, we lazed around and ate good seafood and generally had a good time. At midnight on New Year's Eve, the girls had their traditional dip in the ocean with their clothes on. They're crazy!

After Jeff and the girls had to go home, Mom and Dad and I stayed an extra week and went over to Orlando to Disney World. I couldn't believe that Mom walked all the way to the back of Epcot and also around Animal Kingdom. She was amazing! Dad and I were so proud of her.

On the way home, we again drove and drove and drove -- but this time we took three days instead of two and went home by way of Hilton Head. In the middle of it all, I came down with a strep throat type disease and had to get antibiotics from a clinic in Hilton Head. I was pretty miserable for a couple of days.

We finally made it home on Sunday night and I stayed with Mom and Dad overnight before driving home the next morning.

The following Friday, Kate and I took off for New York. One of her Christmas gifts was the chance to go to New York and see "Equus," so she and I drove up to Columbus to catch a cheap flight to the Big Apple. The play was excellent and Kate really enjoyed it. The next day we spent in the Garment District, shopping around. We found a great vintage clothing store called "The Family Jewels" and she found a gorgeous pink dress there that will be perfect for the upcoming Valentine's Dance. We even got to go to a sample show of furs -- but we didn't buy anything there.
Our room at the Hilton was lovely.
I would have liked to have gone to the Metropolitan Art Museum, but Kate wasn't eager to go and we sort of ran out of time. Or at least we thought we did. The next day, when our plane was weather delayed by three hours, we wished we could have spent that time at the Met! All in all though we had a good time and we made a point of NOT going to any chain restaurants (Whenever Jeff travels with us, he insists on eating at Pizza Hut and McDonalds the whole time. )