Friday, May 30, 2008

Fiber porn!! Just LOOK at these huge balls of fluff...
These are rovings from CJ Kopec. Oh My Goodness! Words can not express the gorgeousness of these delightful orbs. I heard about CJ Kopec on Lime and Violet some time ago but hadn't really checked her out until lately. Her stuff looked really pretty and I signed up for her newsletter. Last week I got my first newsletter and she announced a new limited edition roving. I HAD to have it. That's the top one in the picture. It's called Cottage Rose and is a BFL, merino and silk blend. It has a gentle shine to it that is just fabulous. The second is Cowboy Chic, 100% merino, very similar in color, but without the shine. Both are 4 ounces of fiber. According to her site, she hand cards them and pulls them into roving as they are ordered. The balls are about the size of a bowling ball! No plans for either at the moment, except to admire their beauty.

I thought I had my garden under control. Hadn't seen the bunnies in a while. The broccoli (now protected with huge coffee cans) is starting to come back. Until last weekend when I discovered the critters had struck again. This time my winter squash. The butternut squash was completely gone and the table treat was half eaten. So I cut down some plastic containers (ran out of coffee cans) and planted seeds to try to recoup these plants as well.

And now a shameless "isn't my cat so cute" picture. Is it just me or should this caption read "the prince and the pea"?

The blankets were all piled up on top of the sofa after we cleaned and he perched himself way up on top. Such a sweetheart.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Where's Anti-Pesto when you need them?!

Ugh, what is it with some people that think it's just ok to let domestic pets go free when they get tired of caring for them? We noticed a few weeks back that our neighbor a few houses up had taken down their bunny pen. Then a week or so ago we thought be saw a black rabbit in another neighbor's yard. Strange. Never seen a black wild rabbit before. Yesterday, I looked at my garden as I walked by to go to my car and noticed that a bunny had eaten up my broccoli plants. When I got home last night and took a better look at the damage I found the bunny had also dug a big hole in my onion bed and another in the yard. I fixed up the hole in the onion bed hoping to not lose those plants, but just look at what they did...There's a leaf left on 2 of the broccoli plants, so I put cans around them in hopes they will survive. Thankfully the rabbits haven't developed a taste for any of our other garden plants. I happened to see the neighbor in question out today and mentioned I thought his rabbits might have gotten loose. He had the nerve to say, and I quote "Oh yeah, we know. We've been trying to catch them, but they're just so darn fast. We've even got a kid trying to help us catch them." These neighbors are not old and feeble. They are in their 20s, 30s at most and have 2 kids and a dog they keep up with. They had the rabbits penned all the years they've lived here and never had a problem. I doubt very highly they "got loose" and just can't be caught. But I'm not the confrontational type and didn't want to accuse the guy of lieing, so I just said I'd let him know if I see the rabbits again. I suppose hubby and I can try to catch them and present them to the neighbor. Think he'll give us a reward for the safe return of his bunnies?

Let's have some knitting to lift our spirits, shall we? Here's the body of Milan blocking on a towel.
I decided against steaming since it's acrylic and steam sometimes does weird things to acrylic. I just pinned it out as flat as possible on a towel and gave it a good misting with water. I'm getting a bit nervous about the sleeve, I fear my row gauge may be off (I never check my row gauge by the way). But my sleeve seems to be almost as long as my arm and I've got at least 24 rows to go to finish my increases. I'm going to have to sit down with a tape measure and calculator this afternoon and figure out what I need to do to not end up with sleeves that touch my kneecaps!

The yarn came for Flyingdales this week. Here's just a small sampling of the Country yarn.I bought 10 balls in all in the colorway Plum Pudding. The color is gorgeous. The yarn itself is quite soft, though not as soft as pure merino wool. But there is only around 20% merino in this yarn. The suggested needle size is US 9 to get 4 st/inch. I had to go up to a US 10.5. Of course, that is the one and only needle size I'm missing from my Knit Picks Options set. But I was thinking about placing an order anyway. I'm quite excited to work on this sweater. It's probably a good thing I don't have the right needles or I'd be casting on already!

I FINALLY got back to dying some yarn this week. And oh baby am I ever pleased! I tried a new technique with these and I think the results are stunning.
I've not had much luck with darks in the past, but this time I hit the nail on the head for what I'm after. They are even more beautiful in person. They appear almost iridescent. These should be going up on Etsy in the next few days, if I can bear to part with them.

New on my bookshelf this week is 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oaks. I'm not a huge fan of patterned socks, as we've seen with my failure to complete the last 2 patterned socks I started. But these patterns look pretty appealing. I like the Twilight socks and love Socks for Aidan. The Aidan socks are written for a child's size, but I think I might be able to size them up for me. Spice is another favorite. My only disappointment was that many of the socks are in child sizes. But, again, the patterns should be easy enough to size up, so I'm sure I'll get some use out of this book.

Another favorite thing to report this week. And this one is a direct result of listening to Miss Favorite Thing, Meghan's podcast. It is Henna. I am a woman, reaching "a certain age", and have begun the vane pursuit of keeping the grey hairs at bay. Now, I love dyeing yarn. Dyeing my hair on the other hand, not so much. Chemicals are smelly and leave my hair dry and heaven knows what they do to the environment. So when Meghan mentioned she uses henna to color her hair, I thought I'd give it a try. She recommended the Henna for Hair website. There is a metric ton of information on this site. If you are at all interested in hennaing your hair, go hear and read up on it. I used henna from Rainbow Research. Their's is pure henna, but the henna's are preblended so you can achieve the level of red you want without having to blend your own henna. I chose Mahogany. The process is messy, but there is no bad smell. It's very herbal. The stuff was very hard to rinse out, it's kind of like packing your hair with mud and trying to rinse it out. However, it was really worth it. The color is absolutely even. I've never had that result with chemical dye. It's a lovely old penny color, not too bright coppery but not brown either. My hair is soft and manageable. No pictures, sorry, I'm not so good with the self portraits of the back of my head. But take my word for it, it's definitely worth a try if you are looking for a natural alternative to coloring your hair.

PS...title comes from the fantabulous film "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Smacking singles

No, I'm not going around taking potshots at the romantically unattached. I am, however, showing my yarn who's boss. There has been a lot of talk lately on Ravelry, in Spin Off, on Yahoo groups, etc about setting twist in your handspun by whacking your wet yarn against a table or some such to help distribute the twist and energy more evenly throughout the yarn. Jen finally convinced me to give it a try. I'm still on my quest to learn to spin a decent singles yarn. Here is my latest attempt with some corriedale roving I hand dyed. As you can see, the yarn is quite energized. There are kinks and coils and the yarn doesn't even begin to hang straight. Into a sink of very warm water with a bit of shampoo for a half hour soak. By then the water had cooled so I drained the sink and gently rinsed in cool water. I squeezed as much water from the yarn as possible (this helps to minimize mess in the next step). Then I held the skein by one end and smacked it against the shower wall. I did this a few times, then turned the skein and did it again. I believe I did about 8 or 9 whacks in all. Just be sure to get as much water out as possible or you'll get a face full of water! I've heard of people twirling their skein of yarn airplane-style over their head (outside of course) to use centrifugal force to help remove water. I'm going to have to try this one day (when the neighbors aren't out of course!) I hung the skein to dry and here's the end result. Oh yeah, BIG difference! I am quite surprised and impressed. The twist definitely redistributed itself and the yarn is much more balanced. I still have a ways to go at achieving the lofty soft twist single I'm aiming for. But this technique transformed a pretty rough looking skein into a lovely bit of quite usable yarn. Thanks Jen for pushing me to try this!!

Since my last post, I have finished the Spa Slippers.They have been sent on to the one who requested them and thankfully they fit her well. One of
these days I must make myself a pair of these.

I finished spinning and plying the Gryffindor yarn.
I loves it! The picture doesn't do it justice. The burgundy and gold subtly change throughout and the dark brown/black really sets it off. This yarn is destined to be fingerless mitts.

One stash acquisition to show:
This is Pigeonroof Studios superwash BFL roving in Nightshade purchased from a fellow Raveler who is destashing. I adore the colors in this and can't wait to see how it spins up.

On my needles: Jack socks, I'm almost to the heel of sock #1; Darvoset socks, finished sock #1 and just past the toe on sock #2; Milan cardigan, finished both fronts and back, seamed the should
ers and half way up the first sleeve.

Although I've got at least a few weeks of knitting left on Milan, I broke down and ordered yarn for Flyingdales. I was going to go with Valley Yarns Sugarloaf, but ended up ordering a new yarn called Country by NaturallyCaron. This yarn looks and sounds very interesting, a microfiber/merino blend. I ordered it from a place with a good return policy, just in case, but I've been happy with most everything I've tried from Caron so I'm confident this will be a worthwhile purchase.

A new podcast to check out...The Knitmore Girls. This is a mother and daughter team who podcast about their knitting. They are delightful.

I've gotten the garden all planted for the year. I changed the layout this year and we removed some ornamental grasses from one bed that we can now use for vegetables, so we are trying some new stuff this year. Here we have onions, peppers, cucumbers and (eventually) acorn squash with a cherry tomato plant in the pot. This long bed has eggplant, basil, tomatoes and zucchini.
And this little bed has butternut squash and broccoli. There's still some work to be done on the beds, the little bed needs edging and more grass patch around the perimeter and I want to get straw down on everything, but for the most part it's done and we need only wait for mother nature to do her thing.