Sunday, January 24, 2010

Birthdays, Knitting and a Visitor

We had a fun week, this past week. We had a very sweet and lovable visitor in our home. Meet Sky. She is our "grand doggy." She belongs to our daughter, Rebekah, and her family. We had a tremendous amount of fun with Sky. Sky is a white Schnauzer and loves to run, play and walk outside. I didn't let her stay outside, because we have hawks, coyotes and big neighbor dogs who run loose. So, Sky and I took many strolls together.
My birthday was yesterday. I am not the only artsy person in this house. My husband, the UPS STORE guy is also very artsy. (sometimes too artsy, but that is another story.) LOL! This year for my birthday I had many surprises. You see, he loves to do art work on the computer. So, he took some pictures and scanned them into his computer and then did his magic. This top picture, is two, that he made into one. One is of our family when the girls were in their teens and the other is of the two of us from several years ago. I hope to put this in the master bedroom.
Well, that wasn't enough of a project for him, he did more! The next picture is of the 2 of us through several stages of our lives. The first on the left is of us as toddlers. The one of me, is in front of the Christmas tree, I am 2 and holding a doll my oldest brother gave to me. :) The next set of pictures are our senior pictures, from high school. Then we have Jeff in the Air Force and me as a bride, 1973. Then, yes, these next two pictures are us!! Our kids and most people laugh at these photos. It was curly perm days. Remember those or are you too young? MEN and women were getting them then and we both did!!!

No, we are not done yet. This one has a story. I inherited a rocking chair, from my grandmother. Well, I have since found out that it was in my greatgrandmother's home, and my mom has a picture of my grandmother sitting in it at age 1, in 1905. When UPS Store guy and I married, he reupholstered it and fixed an arm that had broken at some point in time. It was lovely. Then in about 1981, one of the rockers broke. We have moved this poor chair from New York, to Texas, to Minnesota, to Massachussetts, to Virginia, to Maryland and to Houston and to Dallas(area). I didn't know if it would ever be fixed, didn't even know who to ask to fix it. But, I wasn't going to give it up. Well, we have a customer who does these types of repairs and upholsters furniture! He worked magic with my chair and I am so appreciative to the UPS STORE guy for this. Here is my repaired chair!

This picture is of the scroll work on the top of the back of the chair. I bet this chair has a lot of stories it could tell, since before 1905!

Today is our oldest daughters birthday! I did do a knitting project for her. She received a red poncho/shrug for her birthday. I used handspun Jacob's Sheep yarn. I purchased the roving already clean and dyed. It was really nice to spin and I put it away until I could figure out what to use it for. Then I found out that Rebekah wanted this shrug. You knit one rectangle and when finished you sew one short end to the opposite end on the long side of the rectangle. It gives you a point in the front and it goes straight across the back.
Well, it needed something, and I wanted a big floppy flower. After trying several different patterns, I told my friend Laurie about it, and she suggested that I crochet one. She told me how she does this flower and I did it. I really like it. I attached it with a coiless safety pin and Rebekah can remove it, if she prefers it without the flower.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Splitting the Red Batt

Last time I wrote about the Red Batt, I had blended the fiber with black roving. Layering the roving and the carded batt on the drum carder. The next step was to split the fluffy batt into pieces.

I continued splitting the batt into fairly neat and even pieces. The pieces aren't perfectly split, because there isn't anyway that I could do that. So, I just did the best that I could and split them lenthwise down the batt.

The next step was to pick up one piece and carefully stretch it out lengthwise. To do this, you need to be careful not to have your hands too far apart, or to pull too hard, OR you will have it come totally apart. If this happens, just lay the two pieces on top of one another and pull gently and they will sort of become one piece again. It isn't the end of the world and it does happen to me, more than I would like to admit. :)

Take your stretched out piece and start to roll it gently into a ball. I usually wrap around several fingers at first and then take my fingers out. That will help keep it loose. Pick up another split piece and stretch it, and then add it to the ball.

Here is my finished ball of roving. It is just one batt, still. I need to blend the roving and the remaining batts, so that I will be able to continue this and be ready to spin.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Amazing Ice

This morning it was 7F in Denton, TX. I live in a little town just outside of Denton. Denton is north of Dallas and Ft Worth, on I35. The extraordinary thing about 7 degrees, is that we don't get this cold very often. As a matter of fact, the weatherman on TV this morning said, "I don't remember when I have ever said a single digit degree for north Texas!" He did go and look it up and the last time was in 1976, I think he said. If you are from the north, you may be thinking, "Ha, that is normal or even warm for us." :) I really do know what winter is, in the north, honest. :) I grew up in NY, I have lived in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland, before we moved to Texas in 1991. So, I am truly amazed when we have an average temperature of 53F for this time of year, that we are now on our third day of below freezing temperatures!

Our home sits up a small hill from a small lake. I was totally shocked this morning when I went to the kitchen, that has windows to view the lake, that the lake had ICE on it. I never thought I would ever see ice on that lake. My first clue this morning, should've been when the UPS Store guy came in from his morning chore of working on the pool and he said, "There is ice forming on the top of the pool." But, I was in such shock from that piece of information and thought, "Oh, it is because it is a small body of water," that I never even gave the lake another thought.

So, when I saw the ice layer on the lake, I donned the old down parka, that was saved from our days in MN and technically belongs to the UPS Store guy, my wool hat and gloves, grabbed a basket for my camera and supplies and headed off down the hill to the lake. I don't normally go down there by myself, because there are snakes down there. However, the snakes are in the ground because they don't like cold weather.

The little white pieces of ice on this branch are actually sitting up out of the lake, as if the water froze as a wave hit the branch. It is a very pretty effect, but unless I lay down on the ground you have to look at it from the top. :) I am not laying on the ground, sorry. Even though the snakes are supposed to be in hibernation, I am not that brave. LOL!
The layer of ice is pretty thick. It isn't a flimsy coating. I had the hoe with me, just in case, and tried hitting the ice to see how thick it was. I ended up with a little chunk of ice flying up and out, but didn't break through. Hmmmm. How frozen is this lake, anyway? So, I gently eased my right foot on it and placed some weight on it, and there was a cracking sound, so I quickly moved back. No ice skating.... Where are those skates anyway?? We still have them in a box somewhere.

Even though the lake wouldn't hold me, I knew it would hold Lil' D and JoJo. So, I went back up the hill and retreived the dolls, their bench and their pet sheep, and hurried back down. Here they are sitting on the ice!

Now where are those ice skates, anyway????

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Red Batts and A Headband

When a person learns how to spin, their first handspun yarn is usually lumpy and bumpy, with lots of overtwist. The overtwist can be so bad that you have a tight coil and the spinner thinks, "This is not yarn! I have made a terrible rope." They are sad and depressed. Quickly the more practiced spinners say, "Oh, no, it is beautiful! You have made art yarn. Someday you will wish you could remember how you did that yarn." The new spinner looks at the experienced one and says, "You are absolutely kidding." Nope.

That is what goes on, almost everytime a new person learns how to spin. The new spinner's goal is usually to spin even, fine yarn. The kind they dream of putting in a knitted/crocheted sweater, shawl or even a woven suit. What they get, is for a designer hat or scarf, but they think it is for the garbage can. :)

The new person will practice and practice and will meet their goal. Gorgeous items will show up for show-n-tell and all will oooo and ahhhhh. Then the spinner says, "Self, let's do some bulky yarn now, or some single bulky or even some of the art yarn, you did it before." Then starts the learning, again. And you realize the experienced spinner from years ago is RIGHT! You cannot do it! So, you start practicing the art yarn concept. Sometimes you even have to take a class to learn it. Well, learning or re-learning art yarn has been one of my goals over the last few years. Also, wanting to spin a bulky single. I am getting there.

All of this to say, here is a headband that I designed and knitted out of a single ply, bulky handspun yarn. Then I embellished it with some 2 ply worsted weight handspun and some bulky single handspun yarn.

Back to the red batts from an earlier post. I decided I wanted to see what would happen if I lightly blended the batt with some black roving. So I pulled apart one of my red batts and made small enough pieces to feed onto the drum carder, again.

Then, after there was a layer of red on the carder, I broke off small amounts of black and fed that to the carder. I continued to feed a red layer and then a black layer. Eventually, I couldn't feed anymore onto the carder.

So, I gently pulled the batt off the large drum of the carder. It fluffed up, many times it size and I could see the layers! It was so cool. You can see the layers here, if you look closely. It looks like a many layered sandwich.

The next step will be to make the batt a roving. Watch for it. :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gorgeous in Red

Last Sunday we celebrated our younger daughter's birthday. She was born 2 days after Christmas. Before you groan and say, "Oh, the poor thing," she didn't do so poorly growing up. :) We tried very hard to make her day special. We had a birthday cake every year, even though we usually had about 3 pies left from Christmas dinner. AND even though there was a turkey or ham in the refrigerator with leftovers for a week, she picked her favorite meal and mom made it for her birthday dinner. We figured out early in her life that getting her friends to a birthday party was going to take some ingenuity. I discovered that if we held the party a couple of weeks before Christmas and that if I stressed the point that the moms could drop their daughters off for 4 hours of FREE "babysitting," they could go and get Christmas shopping done. That was the trick and it worked year after year.

I can remember several years, when family would visit us for Christmas and because they were here, Anna's day was extra special those years! Not everyone gets to have extended family visit for their birthday. The one thing she did miss, though, was taking cupcakes to her friends in school. Oh, yes, we homeschooled, but she was in school for k-4 through 2nd grade.

I learned that I had to make her birthday projects before Christmas projects were finished. One year, I thought, I'll just whip out those doll dresses and be done. I have 2 days from Christmas to her birthday. Hahahaha! The joke was on me. I forgot how busy it is with children and family visiting. I did get those projects done, but lost a lot of sleep.

I learned to get the wrapping paper and card for her gifts before Christmas. Nothing worse than fighting the crowds who wanted the 50% off Christmas stuff, when all you wanted was a birthday card and birthday paper. Some people didn't realize that there was more to life than a 50% off box of cards. LOL! My kid has a birthday and that is very important, get outta my way. :)

Well, this year, I had her shrug done before THANKSGIVING! I was so happy with myself. Then I had to figure out where to put it, so I didn't lose it. I wanted to post it on here, but didn't want her to see it. She does occasionally float by and read the blog.

Here is Anna's shrug. A gorgeous red from Brown Sheep's Lambspride Bulky yarn. The directions are from Cathy Carron's book, Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down. She has formulas at the back of the book for using most weight yarns and making a sweater. It is up to you do decide the size, length, sleeve length and added design elements. I had a lot of fun figuring out, exactly what I wanted and the cable pattern on the front was really a fun design to knit. Below is the close up of the button. I really liked this button. Found it at JoAnn's Fabrics. The lighter pink color looks as if it is in-laid into the button. I thought it was the perfect finish.