Friday, October 30, 2009

Spinning, Dying and Knitting

I have been dying with drink mix again. This skein of yarn is handspun by me. It was great fun to spin this slubby art yarn. I used a white Rambouillet fleece that came from a friend in MN. He is a certified Organic farmer, meaning the fleece is certified organic too. There was a bunch of vegetable matter(grasses) in it, but by the time it was washed, spun, plied, dyed, rinsed and rinsed, the yarn is clean! I plied the yarn with sewing thread, to help get even more lumps and bumps. The thread didn't take the dye, you need to have protein/animal fiber to use the drink mix successfully. I knew that ahead of time and wanted that look.
This is a gorgeous plum color, I am so happy to get this color. I used a bag of berry blue and a bag of cherry. There are 56 yards of yarn in this skein.

This next yarn is mainly an alpaca yarn. One ply(strand) of the yarn is pure alpaca from Jacob's Reward Farm. I had 4 ounces of it, so I decided to spin it thin and ply it with another yarn that I had here. I really did get this yarn thin! I don't think I have EVER spun anything this thin before
I truly didn't expect to get it this thin, but it is. I ended up plying it with a coned yarn that I bought from WEBS . Webs is a great yarn store. Located in Massachussetts, they have lots of yarns and closeouts of yarns. I like to watch the closeouts. So, in one of their closeouts, they

had a cone of an Alpaca/Silk blend of lace weight yarn. That is what I used to ply with my alpaca. The darker gray is the Jacob's Reward alpaca and the lighter is the Webs coned yarn. My end result is sooooooooooo soft, that I cannot believe it. I have 7.4 ounces of yarn and 681 yards, all in one skein.

And last, but not least, is the shawl that I knitted from my drink mix dyed yarns from several posts ago. This shawl is so light and airy and fluffy. I am truly suprised at the outcome. I don't
even know if my pictures do it justice. But here it is, with Mandi the Mannequin behind it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Walking and Knitting

I like to walk. If I lived in a city, I would walk to the store, if they were close. Close would mean about 1 mile or so. Where I live the closest grocery store is almost 5 miles, so I take the car. Anyway, I like to walk. In the mornings I can be seen walking in our neighborhood. In Texas, we love wildflowers. Some folks will call them weeds, but here we acknowledge them for their flowers. The ones that are indigenous to our area, can withstand our heat and droughts. This very pretty little flower pictured here came off of one of those wildflower plants. It was growing up near the road. I picked it thinking it looked like a miniature daisy. But, when I arrived home and put on my glasses, I realized there was a subtle lavender coloring to the edge of the leaves. I just had to show it to you. The flower in real life is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. The little pot it is in was made by the UPS Store guy in a Pottery class that he had in college.

I bet you thought that I was going to talk about walking and knitting at the same time. Well, I would love to be coordinated enough to do that, but I am not. Not yet, anyway. I knew someone that told me, that I should knit socks and walk. Using the magic loop technique, I wouldn't drop stitches.

On the knitting front, I have been finishing up some projects. I did knit a pair of gloves for my mom, from my handspun yarn. But, I forgot to take a picture of them to share. I did use the magic loop method and did two at a time, until I got to the fingers. Then I took them off the long circular needle and used the double point needles for the fingers.

I made the gingerbread man, too. He will be going on etsy this week. He is from cotton. Actually, from 100% USA cotton. He stands about 10 inches tall.

I also made the cute poncho and hat set for a friend who had a baby girl. They live in Houston TX, so I made it from cotton.

Monday, October 19, 2009

San Antonio, TX

The trip to San Antonio started with getting a rental car. We drove up and went in. We were all set to drive a Chevy Malibu. Do you like it? It is the funniest looking Malibu that I have ever seen. :) Even though they had "reserved" the Malibu, we ended up with a red VW Beetle. It was a fun drive, in that car.

We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary about 1 week ago. So, we decided to take a trip to San Antonio. We didn't have a lot of free days, because of the work schedule, but we thought we would go and have a great time anyway. We have been down there before, several times, and we had done the Alamo and the Riverwalk and been to Lackland AFB. So, what else is there? I decided to see. Well, I knew about Seaworld and that was a definite idea. But, on the San Antonio website, I found a neighborhood that is the first German settlement in San Antonio. People are purchasing the homes now, to live in and restore. It is called the King William settlement. Since the UPS Store guy is of German descent, I thought that might be fun to see. We walked the couple of miles of the walking self-tour. It is close to the downtown, you will see a picture of him with the needle in the background. At the southern end of the neighborhood, though, is The Pioneer Baking Company mill. It still works, and they have a restaurant and gift shop. The company is still owned by the family, of the man who started the mill in the 1800's. We also visited La Villita, a shopping area where artists have studio's and sell their art. That is in the absolute first settlement in town. Then on to the Riverwalk. I had found a restaurant that had been owned by a Jazz musician, he sold it but still performs every day. We sat outside and listened to Jazz. While we were listening to Jazz, I saw a person walk by with a Chocolatier bag. Hmmmm, where is that chocolate?? I found it and was a happy camper, with my triple chocolate truffle. :)

The house above is a Bed and Breakfast Inn. Looks spectacular to me.

Notice the needle in the background. That is in the downtown area.

Ok, so you know that I didn't tresspass, this gazebo is actually on a common green and is called a music performance area.

The house below, is gorgeous. No, not because it is big, imagine cleaning the thing, OK, I digress, the house. Yes, the house. It has BLUE trim!! The fence around it is blue too!!

This house has a light shade of blue! I am in blue heaven here.


The water fountain. It has 3 levels, one for your pet. (I don't get out much.) I haven't seen one of these before, maybe you have.

The tin man. He is part of the art we saw in one garden. Isn't he cute? He is made out of old cans, a bucket and a funnel! He truly was adorable.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Back in the 1980's, I received my first set of Denise Knitting Needles, as a gift from my parents. I was very excited to have them and I used them ALOT. I kept on using them, too, after the first company went out of business. Then, when the current owners purchased the business and started selling them, I contacted them about some replacements, that I needed to purchase and ended up becoming a dealer.

I love my Denise Needle Kit and I still use them ALOT. I still sell them too, they are listed in my etsy site. Did you know that they are made in the USA??

However, my writing today isn't to sell Denise, but to sing their praises. They are a fabulous company. They came up with the pink kit and $5 of each kit goes to breast cancer research. Below, I have cut and pasted from their newsletter, so that you can see for your self.

Research update
Since this project started in October of 2006, purchases of pink Denise products have generated over $118,000 for breast cancer research. Through the generosity of the S.D. Ireland family, 100% of donations to their Cancer Research Fund go directly to the research lab. Administrative fees are paid for by the family, making every dollar a research dollar. We asked oncologist Dr. David Krag to share with us what the lab is working on and how these funds are making a difference. Here's what he had to say:

Through the help of many, many friends who have purchased pink Denise products over this past year, our research has sped up measurably. Critical equipment has been purchased that will allow experiments to proceed much more rapidly. The funds help very much on a tangible level, but we are also deeply moved by the show of support by so many people.
Our international team of expert researchers is focusing efforts on developing methods to make customized treatments for breast cancer patients. ultimately making chemotherapy a thing of the past. We are now beginning to use a “library” of antibodies, maintained in our lab, that has been pooled from many different donors. From this array of millions of different antibodies we seek the individual antibodies that bind specifically to breast cancer cells. Over the past several years, we have developed methods that allow us to test these antibodies directly on cancer cells from breast cancer patients.
This year our goal is to significantly expand this work by using much improved antibody libraries. Also during this year we will begin to evaluate new methods to transform the most promising antibodies into therapeutic agents that could soon be used to treat breast cancer patients. This is a hugely important step and will speed us toward a time when a promising antibody can be used in a breast cancer patient. We have teamed with world class researchers who are experts in new tumor models and with researchers in Germany who have developed new modifications of antibodies that make them much more active in helping the body engage its own immune system to deal with the cancer.
We are focused on breast cancer, but the methods should be equally effective for any other type of cancer. This year marks a new collaboration with researchers who are treating neuroblastoma. This is an uncommon but very aggressive cancer in children. We are already applying the methods generated in our lab to neuroblastoma tumors and will anxiously look forward to our new work in this area.
It is a very active time for us. We have made a major turn in our research and are moving from the early developmental phase to the phase when we begin planning how to move this technology to the clinic. The funds raised by the friends of Denise are extremely important and are speeding us closer to the day when all of these cancers are treatable. Cancer is a solvable problem.
From the research team here in Burlington, Vermont, we thank you so much for your support!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dying Yarn With Drink Mix

One of the things that I find fun to do, is to play with color and dying. I had purchased a cone of ecru mohair yarn and decided that some of it needed to be dyed. I have dyes here that you can use on wool, but I wanted to use k**l aid this time. When I do use fiber dyes, I get them locally from FancyFibers . But, back to the drink mix. I love the color of the flavor, Blue Moon Lemonade. It is a gorgeous light teal color. But, for this yarn, I was wanting something a little more subdued. One time My Mom's Work told me, that if I want the color darkened just add a little grape. So, I did just that.
I added some grape.

After I had skeined the yarn, I then soaked the yarn in a mixture of a squirt of dish soap and water for an hour. I removed the yarn from the water, gently squeezed out some of the water and placed the yarn into the pickle jar. I filled the jar with water and then I mixed the drink mix mixture with water and the vinegar and poured it into the jar. Then I gently mixed it all together.

I used about 5 bags of Blue Moon, a touch of grape and about 1/4 cup of white vinegar, to about 600 yards of the mohair. Then because we have LOTS of sun in Texas, I placed my concoction in the sun.

The great thing about dying with drink mix is, that the color will exhaust(disappear into the fiber) and leave the water pretty much clear. So, when that happens you know you are done.

By using the drink mix, you can use your kitchen utensils and the dye is non-toxic.

When I was done, I rinsed it out and hung it to dry. The different colors did strike at different times, so the yarn is not solid. But, the way it looks is lovely and gorgeous. I would do this again.

I am now knitting a shawl with this yarn and it is looking lovely, although I have had it to the "frog pond" several times, rip it, rip it. I had this shawl project with me on my trip to NY and a gal on the plane leaned across the aisle to tell me how gorgeous the yarn was. :) Made my day.

I will admit there is a little lemonade scent in the yarn, but it isn't strong and is enjoyable, actually. By the time it is done and washed again, it will look wonderful. Maybe I will do cherry next time and dream of cherry pies.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Western Days and Knitting Projects

Last Saturday, when the UPS Store guy got off work, we went to Western Days in Lewisville. We had a good time walking around and looking at everything. One thing we saw was a mechanical, bucking bronco. Notice it in the top picture, in front of City Hall. There is a man, in a blue shirt, poised and ready to lift that lever in the back to give the rider the ride of his life.
Earlier in the day there had been a car show. We showed up in time to see several of the cars, before they left. This is an all time favorite car of mine. The original Camaro.

The veterans were there too. This is a great memorial, that says it all.
It was a 95 degree day, a hot day for September, even in north Texas. Needless to say, we were a little warm walking around in the sun. But, it is always fun to go and do something different.

On the knitting front, I have been working on some slouch hats. Here is one that I just listed on etsy. I used my handspun art yarn for this hat. It is really soft and I just love the colors!
Then my newest finished pattern is for these glove-lettes. I saw some in a magazine and thought, what a cute idea for a pattern. So, here they are. I have them listed on etsy too.
The gloves are made on size US 8 needles, using worsted weight yarn.