Friday, August 31, 2007

You've Come A Long Way Bethy

No, it's not Christmas. I am doing a little comparison. I'm sick of this diet. I've lost virtually no weight this entire summer. BUT! I have maintained and that is something to be proud of. Between adult children returning home, illnesses and deaths and stress it's been pretty stressful. Three weeks of the summer were spent in cheesesteak and hoagie heaven. I love Wawa Italian hoagies. For those of you not from the Philadelphia area you won't know what I'm talking about and the only way I can explain it is good hard rolls, great quality Italian lunch meats and round it off with some Salt and Vinegar chips and it is LUNCH. Then there are the little mom and pop places with their delicious cheesesteaks, pizza steaks, cheesesteak hoagies.... I could go on and on. And I did eat them all complete with mega fries (french fries smothered in cheese, bacon, and bunches of other yummy things and dipped in ranch dressing). Now I did not mean to turn this into a food log. My point is, I maintained my weight.
Here I am this past Sunday ready for church. It's a very blurry picture but look at the difference in my jaw line and neck. I think my mom is right. I lost all of the weight in my neck! The real point is, I'm trying to decide whether or not to add more weeks to the weight loss portion of the plan or just go into stabilization and maintenance. I can always decide to take off a few pounds once in a while over the maintenance year. In the top picture I am wearing about a size 18 in the bottom picture I am in a size 10. It's a big loss but a size 8 would be good too. I have a week to decide.
Anyway, I was at Erika's on Wednesday night. We warped her big Leclerc loom. Well, we didn't get it all warped but it is all wound on and the heddles need to be threaded. She wound warp for about 800 towels so if you're reading this you're probably on her Christmas list and now I've spoiled the surprise.
Here are some plastic bags full of some custom dyed merino I bought for the shop. The colors are beautiful and the dyeing is fabulous. This girl has quite an eye for color. I've started with the merino but will be adding some of her medium wools and hopefully some other stuff she can come up with. I've been looking for a local supplier of dyed top and roving and I have found her! If you're in the area come in and see this in person. If not, I'll be adding pictures to my website and I'll be happy to ship some to you.
This is some undyed merino plyed with a strand of silk. It was an experiment in plying and so there are some irregularities but once it's used in a project it will be beautiful. I don't know the wraps per inch but it's a little heavier than Zephyr.
Here's some - ready for the surprise - Wensleydale. I know, I spin it all of the time. I love longwools. Yes, I know you prefer the softer stuff but there's the weight and drape and luster that I just can't stay away from. I really was a raccoon in my past life. Anything shiny, I'm for it. This is a light fingering weight or heavy laceweight. Again, I didn't measure the wraps per inch. My plan for this is the Highland Triangle Shawl. Oh, yeah, I told you about that pattern before but when I spun and plyed this yarn I knew it was the one. It's going to be perfect. Swatch you say? WE don need no stinking swatches! It will be perfect and I don't want to hear another word about it! Well, maybe a swatch would be good. I'll consider it but... It just has to work.

Here are the Wensleydale singles on the bobbin. I'm spinning it with a modified long draw on my Schacht Reeves 24" Saxony with the 15:1 ratio.

Remember a little while ago I was talking about my love of the Jensen 30"? I still do love it but I spent this week going back to the Schacht Reeves and I've fallen in love again. I really had been spending so much time with all of the other wheels in the shop that Minerva (that's her name) has been quite neglected. After a good oiling we are back to turning out that beautiful yarn again. Now, I'm curious about the 30" Schacht Reeves so if anybody is looking to order one maybe you could do it through me. If I buy another wheel I think I'll get shot - or maybe I just need one in stock;-).

I've got some other things I wanted to discuss but now the kids need some lunch so it will have to wait for another time. It has to do with what I'm doing and how to go about it. Maybe you'll all give me some opinions. I'll be back soon. That's a promise, not a threat.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Because of the use of the word Poop (1x)

Just thought you all would like to know.
I said Poop.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

State of the State

First, here's probably the last time that this feather and fan shawl will be able to be stretched out to show and detail. It's on the 47" needle and I expect it will stay there until binding off. The lighting isn't very good because I took this picture at about 6 in the morning but you get the idea. I'm currently at round 85. I'm still a little worried about the variegated yarn but I'm forging ahead. It certainly is pleasant to look at color wise. It's also not terribly difficult to knit. I opted for the shawl which uses two charts for the feather and fan. The two chart version has a decrease and yarn over as well as 4 purl stitches right in the center of the repeat. I sometimes am flying along on the three rows between the pattern rows and run right by the purl stitches. Generally I see them the next time around and then carefully switch them from knit to purl stitches. I'm excited to see this shawl to the finish. I think it will be a nice size and the yarn is very lovely.
I have 106 rows to go and then the crochet bind off. If I average 2 rows a day that's 7 weeks to finish. SOAR is in less than 6 weeks. Not enough time. So that means I've gotta do more rows per day. If I can do 4 rows per day that means I can finish in about a month. HHHMMMM. I need to do more than four rows per day at the moment because I know there will be days when I do less and also near the end the pattern rows will probably take me close to an hour to do.
I do kind of like having a deadline though.
In other news, I found this at the State Fair today. Right outside the goat pens. I can't help it. The clovers with the unusual numbers of leaves just shout to me.
And then Ryan milked a cow. Jersey cows are my favorite. They have friendly faces.
Maggie did try milking the cow too but she (the cow) kept hitting Maggie in the face with her tail.
I just liked this cow. I don't know what kind it is. I think it's meant for meat. The dairy cows usually have a different build.
And the reason I went to the fair today was to find out how I did. First place in the Gold Ribbon Division for Handspun Yarn. This is the Blue Faced Leicester skein. It is a singles yarn spun on my Golding Spindle.
First place in the general division of handspun yarn. This is the Qiviut/Silk singles yarn spun on my Ann Grout Acorn support spindle.
And another First Place for Lily. I will pick all of them up from the fair on September 3rd and Lily will be retired from competition. I will actually wear her this fall. I'm so excited for that. I think next year's entry will be knit with handspun. I need to pick a pattern and a fiber. The Highland Triangle from Folk Shawls is looking very attractive.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Spinning Wheels in More Ways Than One

I seem to be getting back on track with the weight loss. Not much time left on the plan but if I could get to 40 pounds lost I think I would be very happy cause I bought new pants today and I AM A SIZE 10!!!!!!! I haven't been that size since Brittney was like 2 years old. (She's 21 now).
I felt good and it was kind of rejuvenating. So I keep trying.

Today I've got two really bad pictures of two really good things. First is a problem solver - I hope.
I had an issue. My shop phone rings through to my cell phone when I'm not there. I like talking to potential customers and also students who may be having problems that I can help with over the phone. Sometimes those people want to make appointments with me or tell me to hold a place in an upcoming class. I am happy to do that. I either scribble the note on a piece of scrap paper or tell myself I'll remember - HA!
I lose the paper and can never remember who called. So, I started looking into a pocket PC or Palm. I had an HP for a while and the internal battery is shot and I couldn't get the old software to load onto my new computer so I was in the market. Now currently I carry my XM radio and my phone in my purse and was not looking forward to adding another electronic device to an already crowded space.
A couple of weeks ago I started to do a little shopping and then last week I got more serious about it. In the end I went with the T-Mobile Wing. I liked that the calendar was outlook and I recognized it and I thought that might help me in using the thing.
So here's the first really bad picture. Now for this to work I actually have to use it. It came with a 300 page instruction manual. Can somebody come over here please and give me a lesson? I'm scared.

The next thing is not scary at all. I had a customer interested in purchasing a wheel but she had to get rid of her current wheel first. Well, she brought it in today and I had no self control. I bought it from her for my own personal self. Guess what's going with me to SOAR?

My very own Reeves Back to Basics wheel. It's a beautiful thing and spins a lovely yarn. I've been wanting a Reeves wheel and never thought I'd have one. Of course if there's ever an opportunity for the big production wheel I'll be going there too - but then there's always the Jensen 30" Saxony. So many wheels so little time - and space.
And my husband asked me after wheel number 3 why I needed three. This makes four. And I still wouldn't mind a Majacraft Rose. Is that wrong? They all have their own strengths and I have an emotional attachment to them.

I forgot to take a picture of the stuff I've been gathering and spinning for the Fiber Frenzy Swaps. Maybe it's better that way. I'm such a terrible secret keeper. Anyway, I think it's good stuff and I hope my pals like it.

My intention with the Feather and Fan shawl was to stay on the same 24" needle until the end. Now I'm seeing the wisdom of switching to a longer needle. The 24" one is quite crowded and I'm only up to row 81 of a total of 189. I've currently got about 448 stitches and by the end I will have 1225. I'm thinking the stitches won;t fit on the current needle. We'll be switching tonight and I'll get a picture.
O.K. off to knit an avoid thinking of the microwaving of the popcorn that's going on downstairs. MMMM that smells good. Nope gotta avoid it. More water please.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Michigan Fiber Festival

Went to Allegan today. More on that in a moment. Here is some progress on my Feather and Fan shawl. I'm actually a little further than this - about 8 rows further. It's coming along nicely but the rows sure do get longer fast. I've finished 68 rows - 120 rows to go.

One person I finally met today was Chris from Briar Rose Fibers She's just darling. I've spoken to her on the phone many times but this is the first time I've met her face to face. One of the samples in the booth was Icarus made up in her Legend yarn - I think. It was beautiful made up in a heavier yarn. Just more ideas for more projects in the pipeline. HMMM.

So I bought some fleeces today. Some of them are still being used as clothing for the ones who grew them. This guy. Yearling Wensleydale. Have I mentioned that I'm a big fan of Wensleydale? This wool is soooooo soft. I didn't believe it was Wensleydale.
I also am getting this black one. Beautifully soft and also a yearling.
This one is a possibility. It's like a silvery gray. Beautifully soft and it's a ram for crying out loud!
Here are Kate and Becky and me hanging out in front of the Skaska booth hoping to catch the attention of our favorite Galina.
I just thought he was pretty. A Shetland. I love the size of them and he just had the nicest face but wouldn't let me touch him.
Then there are always the Angora goats. These are cute little babies.
This guy is ready for Halloween.
Ryan has always been a fan of the goats. If we didn't live right in town I'd probably get him one.
I also asked for a hold to be placed on one of these fleeces. The color is beautiful and goldeny. She'll be sheared in September and then....more mohair for me.
Don;t we all love the bunnies?
I met this girl. Can't remember her name. We were laughing too much and there was picture taking and wrote down her blog but not her name. Please comment Ms Snot if you are reading.
And then there was StitchyStitchy and her lovely daughter. There were others I met but I was slow on the camera draw.
After we said our good byes to Galina and Kate and Chris we started on home.
Maggie was a little tired.
Ryan was exhausted. After he woke up he told us that the goats made him tired.
Here's what I bought for myself. Two ounces of 50% Buffalo, 25% Cashmere and 25% Silk. Soft as a Buffalo's bottom.
This I bought for the shop. Blue Faced Leicester in the grease.
And a comb by Indigo Hound. It's got finer teeth and I think might be useful for the mohair and other finer fibers I like to comb.

That's not all that happened but that's all I can think of right now. I need to knit.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Too much stuff going on...

Crazy week trying to get back in the swing of things. Brittney had her last week here and left to supposedly go back to school on Friday. Evidently they never left and she's still in the state due to last minute repairs on the car they are supposed to drive 2000 miles in. I guess it's god they got it checked out. Also, on Friday, Brittney got her driver's license. Yup. License on Friday drive across the US the next day. What can I do? I'm only the mother and she's technically and adult now - though I still see that 16 year old. It's a mom thing I'm sure.
So with some encouragement from Erica I started a new shawl. I've been a little stalled lately. Lots of yarn I want to use and lots of patterns I want to try but I'm feeling a little unsure of myself in the knitting department lately. My gauge is way off, I can't tell if the yarn will work with the pattern and I'm too lazy to make a decent swatch. All of this equals nothing productive in the knitting department.
I had a skein of Briar Rose Angel Face Alpaca. I bought it last year before I even had the shop and have loved it and touched it a lot. It's difficult to make a good lace project from a variegated yarn though and I've been a little skittish. Feather and Fan is a safe bet though and I love the Boegler one in Meg Swansen's A Gathering of Lace. So I started with the suggested size 5 needles. NO WAY! way too big. It took me about 4 tries to get those 8 stitches cast on and started in the round and then out it came. I'm down to size 1 needles now and will keep it on the double points until I get to a size where I can switch to my 24" Addi Lace needle. Then I'll probably stay with that needle until the end if I can. My intention is to get this project done by SOAR. Hmmmmm. Think I can do it?

Those are just some pictures of the wheels in the shop. I had t move everyone around for the Galina workshop and so when they were all back in a nice little area I had to snap a few pictures.
Anyway, back to the shawl. I'm up to row 21 now on chart A. Woo, Hoo!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

How Did I Get So Lucky?

There is plenty to tell. Lots of stuff has happened in the last weekend I am exhausted! I'll start at the beginning if I can remember it all. I was making mental notes throughout the week but then my mental notes seem to be missing right now.
Kate and Erika were coming for the weekend mostly to be with me - although they pretended it was Galina who was their focus.

So since they were coming I wanted to make them a little gift so they would be comfortable at my house. Off I went to Bath and Body Works to get what Maggie calls "Sleeping Goggles". You know, those eye masks some people use to keep light out when they are sleeping. Bath and Body were out so we went to Claire's in the same shopping center. Not quite as classy but cute anyway.

While Maggie and I were in Claire's she noticed that they pierce ears there - an activity she had reserved for her 7th birthday. Well, she thought about it while we walked around the store and decided to go for it.

Here she is before the excitement. If you look closely you can see the little dots drawn on her earlobes in preparation for the earrings.
Here she is with her new amethyst earrings. It did hurt at the time even though now she'll tell you it didn't. There was a little yelp of pain and her face got all red. She managed to hold back the tears but the shock turned to pride when she looked in the mirror and saw her new jewelry. She's been very good at remembering that they need to be cleaned 3 times a day for a while.
I did end up getting the sleeping goggles too -as well as a few other things in a couple of other stores to make a little gift bag for the girls.
This is a very bad picture taken in the shop's bathroom of a Blue Faced Leicester Fleece I have been wanting to play with. Just look at that dirt. I think this sheep likes to lay in the poop pile.
Here it is after the washing. Pretend that is very white and not yellow. It really is a beautiful fleece and very fine.
O.K. on to the weekend.
Thursday I had to pick up the tables from the rental company and take them to the shop. In the mean time Kate and her darling were on their way. We were supposed to meet in the middle of the state somewhere. Unfortunately I had to make a trip to Discount Tire because my one tire was low and I was worried - it did have a nail.
By the time the tire was fixed and I got on the road they were only about 30 miles away. So we met and had a little lunch and got on the way back to my shop. There was still a lot to do there. As Erika will probably explain, I am organizationally impaired. She has this gift for seeing the big picture and can move things around very efficiently. I, on the other hand am easily overwhelmed with messes. So, Kate and I set up tables and did what we could until Erika arrived and whipped the place into shape. Fabulous!
We went to dinner at a local place - where I had Lobster because I'm worth it.
By the time we were driving up to my house Galina and George were on the phone letting us know they were very close. Back to the shop we went to give them the certificate to cover their hotel stay and make sure they were happy with the class set up. Everything was good and so home we came. Aren't they cute. That's Erika on the right and Kate is the other one - hee.
After Erika gave Kate her first ever in person spinning lesson we were really tired and decided to get some rest in preparation for the hard days to come. (Did I mention we bought 16 bars of Chocolate?) The first day was Russian Spindle Spinning. It was very fun and a little challenging. The things we learned in this class will definitely transfer to our wheel spinning but I love the spindle spinning a lot. I've really learned to love all sorts of spindles. The next one I need to work on is the Akha and then I think I'll be covered. I will definitely be using my Russian Spindles to spin for a shawl.
Galina gave us plenty of fiber samples so that we could make a decision about which fibers we liked to spin best and then we could continue on with that fiber if we chose to spin for a project.
I know we got cashmere, cashgora, pygora, buffalo, yak, optim (yuk), and a few blends with silk. My favorite was Pygora. Although later in the evening I worked on some Cashmere that I have in the shop and it is very lovely if I comb it first.
We also saw a demonstration of a combing tool they use in Orenburg. I can't find a picture of it on the Internet. Maybe I'm not using the right words in my googling. Anyway, it is a triangle made of wood that you put your leg through and the combs stick up from the top. You only have this one comb and use your fingers to pull the wool through. Very lovely. I want one. But I can't even find a picture of one on the Internet let alone actually find one that I can have in my hands. I love combing and I need all of the combing tools I can get. The teeth on the device were very fine and close together making it perfect for combing that fine Orenburg Goat fleece.
But here is Kate making a valiant effort with her spindle. She had huge improvement in her spinning in a very short time. She's a natural and don't let her tell you otherwise.
And here is Galina demonstrating how to ply on a spindle. She's using the fiber that she spun along with a mill spun silk. It's a great method but takes some coordination when you get to the actual spinning part. This spindle spinning class is definitely one you should take. Don't be afraid. Galina is a very patient and good teacher. AND you get some history lessons while you work!
Now, Thursday night we slept at my house but on Friday night we slept in the shop. F-U-N. There was spinning and ice cream eating and chatting and advice getting (that was me). I forgot to take any pictures. All of the stuff that Galina sells was in the shop and so I tried on many, many shawls and touched a lot of fiber.
Here's where I must have been getting shaky. This is Saturday's knitting class. This was my third or fourth time to have some form of this class and I still learn new things or am reminded of things I forgot. The thing about this class is that there a several ooohaaaaahhh moments. Casting on - oooohhh - pick up slipped stitched invisibly - aaaaahhhh - grafting invisibly - ooohhhh - blocking - wow! The thing that was great for me in the very first knitting class I took from Galina was how to read my knitting and not be so hooked on counting stitches. Useful in any project.
Here are the teacher's pets deep in thought.
And all of us at the end of the second day. Doesn't Kate look like a cheerleader? And Erika ... well she's my hero.
Afterward, Lou and I took Galina and George out to dinner to O'Callahan's. Delicious and usual and I ate way too much. The company and the conversation was so fun that I stopped paying attention to my fork. THIS is a huge benefit to being a shop owner. To have some private time with a teacher who I immensely respect. Something that even a year ago I couldn't imagine.
I bought this shawl. It is an actual Orenburg Shawl made from Orenburg fiber. (That's Erika behind it.)
Here's a blurry picture of some corner detail. Beautiful.
This was a great weekend as far as learning and girlfriends go. My charming husband was a huge help and also very understanding about all the silliness and sleepovers in a shop.
Now we get back to business and trying to work this business into the fabulous thing I know it can be. More workshops are coming up and I can only hope they'll come close to this one which was my first.