Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lucky Day

I went out to mow the lawn this afternoon. The weather was perfect and the lawn needed mowing badly. Do you ever feel lucky just to be out mowing the lawn? Well I did. I was mowing away and looked down and found a four leaf clover. Here's a photo of the find :-)

I haven't introduced the birds!

Kiwi is a Quaker Parakeet and she's very talkative and sweet. She's laid a few eggs over the 11 years we've had her. She loves to cluck and say her name. We tried to teach her how to call the cat, but instead of here kitty, kitty, kitty... she says here Kiwi, Kiwi, Kiwi... It's pretty funny.

JoJo is a Jardine's Parrot. He is 7 years old and he's very smart. He learned how to say "fly JoJo!" and put his wings up in the air. He loves to dance to music and will knock on the cage or on the perch when he's excited. He says his name, barks like a dog, and coughs and sneezes whenever anyone around him coughs or sneezes.

Falco is a Congo African Grey Parrot. He is disabled but he doesn't know it. His parents took his toes off while he was being raised in their nest about 6 years ago. They did that to the whole clutch of babies. He gets around just fine since I have large flat corner perches for him in his cage, and he climbs using his beak and feet to get up and down from the bottom of the cage to the corner perches. He's in the mood in this picture. You see he's got his wings all displayed - he's trying to regurgitate something "yummy" for me.... that's love in the bird world. Falco is the big talker of the group. He learned the Fly JoJo from JoJo, and does his own rendition of Fly Falco! (also lifting the wings and bobbing his head). He makes cat noises, calls the dog, says "baaaaad dog!" and other things like "how are you?"

Friday, July 28, 2006

Adventures in Dyeing!!!

I wanted to use Kool Aid to dye some yarn for my niece's baby. I went to the wonderful group of friends I have online to see if my idea on using the heat/sun of the day to dye with Kool Aid would work. As usual, my friends came through with ideas and suggestions that were very helpful. What a supportive group! The only flaw in my plan was that that today the heat wave was not in sight and there would be no sun to heat the black plastic to set my dye.

Undaunted, I turned to another source of heat, which would hold the yarn in a somewhat flat and fixed position so the colors would not blend as much when being heated. The outdoor gas barbecue seemed the perfect solution. Here are the photos and some descriptions of the process.

Soak & vinegar: I soaked the approx. 1 pound of spun yarn in a bucket of cool water, with about a cup of white vinegar in the water. I soaked the yarn for about 3 hours. I finally found a use for the ash tray we've had kicking about the deck! It made a great weight for the yarn in the water.

Protect Furniture: I put down a black plastic bag and arranged the skeins on the plastic so I could work on all three skeins at once. Two skeins are the same size, the third is smaller. There is a fourth on the left side that is just odds and ends off my bobbins. The skeins were very slightly squeezed coming out of the soak bucket, but not wrung out. I wanted them to be soppy wet and they needed to still have the vinegar content in them.

Apply Dye: I opened packets of Kool Aid and poured them over the wet skeins. I used 20 packets of Kool Aid to start, but ended up using 23 total. I had Lemon Aid, Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Watermellon-Strawberry, Artic Apple, Black Cherry, Grape, and Berry Blast. I sprinkled them directly on the wet yarn. Then I put some foil over the top and squished the yarn down to move some of the dye throughout the lower parts of the yarn.

Heat: I then slid the colored yarn onto some foil on the barbecue. I did get the colors mixed a little doing this. Had I thought ahead, I could have done the coloring on the foil on a cutting board or a cookie sheet and slid it onto the barbecue from there. I covered the fiber with more foil.

I turned the barbecue on low - all four burners, closed the lid and waited for 10 minutes. Then I turned it off and let it sit for about 15 minutes before I checked the yarn.

Check Progress: I checked the yarn, and it looked good as far as taking up the dye. However there were more white spots than I wanted. So I added 3 more packets of Lemon Aid color to the bare spots, sprinkled some water over the added Kool Aid, covered again, and heated for about 3 minutes then turned off the barbecue and let it sit about 30 minutes.

Cool & Rinse: I felt the yarn was cool enough for rinsing, so I put it in a bucket of clear water. There was a little yellow run off from the corners of the foil that had yellow that didn't touch the yarn. All of the dye on the yarn was absorbed into the yarn. The Artic Apple has a white cast to the Kool Aid drink (my son insisted we make some to "use") and I don't think I'd recommend the Artic Apple for dying. The water had a white milky cast to it for the rinse.

Enjoy: Here are the drying skeins of dyed yarn!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Back from the Beach!

We spent a few days at Grays Harbor State Park camping this week. It was a lot of fun and boy was the weather nice! Stacy I have some yarn for you! But it's not dyed yet.... that will happen shortly. I've got about 6 more ounces of Corridale Cross top to spin for you before that happens. Here's a photo of the three ply yarn that is done so far. It's very soft and I think it will work fine for your knitted baby soakers. It will felt! So you can decide if you want to knit it big and felt it for your baby, or if you want to hand wash it so it won't felt. I'm just tickled to get to spin it for you. Um, right now it may smell a little like camp fire smoke, but I didn't take it with me when we were crabbing, so it won't smell like crab bait :-)

A friend at work asked if I knit all the time. She heard me talking about having my husband drive so I could knit, and was amazed that I knit in the car, and in restaurants, etc. Well we went crabbing at Westport and this photo may answer some of her questions! It's not that I'm a knitaholic, no, it's just that I like to be "doing" something while I wait. Waiting for crabs, well that's pretty much as waiting as it gets. It was a blast! We caught lots of little rock crabs, and dungeness crabs. None were keepers, but that didn't make it less fun to pull up the line or net and see what was there. Now this photo really looks like I was just sitting and my Dad in the background is doing all the work, but my job as a the chair anchor is not to be poo'd. We had gusts of wind blow our chairs right into the harbor and so I was sitting with my feet on the bottom rung of Dad's and my Husband's chairs. A very important job indeed.

Anyway, I got a lot done on my Gathered Garter Shawl by Sandra Hicks (Knit One crochet Too pattern). I'm working it in a special request of St. Valentines colorway that Lisa Souza did for me. I had her add some white spots in it and I've dubbed it "Fire and Ice" since she did it special for me - I can get away calling it what I want :-) I'm getting some Little Devil colorway for the ruffle at the bottom. I think it will look fabulous with the red rose button Sheila Ernst did for me. I put her up to making something called "Midnight Romance" in a button. It's a red rose with a dark blue background and some stars.... I'll show you the whole effect when it's done. Right now I'm working on miles of garter stitch. It's a good thing my friends have told me that a lot of beautiful, practical, going to be worn, knitting has miles of boring knitting in it. This has plenty of that!

Just so you know we had fun besides of the fibery sort - here's a glamour shot of my Mom, my Sister, and my beautiful feet! LOL! We girls - we know how to have fun camping! My Sister's kite is a beauty, so I have to show you that! And we have our dog corral photo, where the dogs spent very little time. They had a fun trip too.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Dutch Oven Cooking

We bought our first Dutch Oven for camping last week. We gave it a trial run with Swedish Meat balls and some steak cut french fries. It turned out pretty good. It gives me hope that I can become a good cook with this heavy metal pot. We found some recipes that sound pretty great as well.

I've been making stitch markers lately and I caught one in action the other day. This is one of Sheila Ernst's beads helping me with a shorty sock I'm knitting. I should have this pair of socks done in the next couple days. I can hardly wait to wear them! They feel really nice and thick. I'm knitting them on size zero 12" circulars. I got some new wire for making markers and I think I'll play around with it and see if I can come up with another style of marker. There's sure a lot of interest in beads, and there are lots of supplies and information available right now. It's fun to try a few new techniques to see what happens. I'll get some photos up if I get something done up to show and tell this next week.

I'm still spinning some Corridale Cross for Stacy, one of my Nieces. It's going to be so pretty and soft. I've almost got one bobbin full, and I need two more before I start to ply. I'm going to color it with Koolaid dying. A friend suggested I do a rainbow effect and let some of the colors blend together where they meet so it gives even more color variations. It sounds like a fun project. I have Cherry, Lemon Aid, and Lime flavors. I think there's some grape and blue raspberry too. Hopefully I've got some orange around too. It's amazing what colors you can find in your local supermarket! I am sure there are lots of great instructions for doing this on the internet already, so I won't give the directions here unless you need/want me to. However, I'm getting ahead of myself! First I want to spin the wool into yarn, and then dye it. Many times I dye the wool and then spin it, but this time I'm going the opposite route. Just to shake things up!

Tune in next week for "Adventures in Dying!"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day on the Deck

Today was beautiful so I moved outside on the deck with my spinning and beading. I was amazed how much spinning I got finished up. There's some mohair/wool blend who's color is called Silver. It is some fiber I picked up at the Black Sheep Gathering from Bear Dog Yarns, from the Schildt Ranch. There's 12 ounces of it spun up, washed, and dried in a worsted weight yarn (2 ply). The other yarn is some of the blend of fibers I got back from the processor's. I spun it as rustic as I dared - trying for lumpy and fuzzy bits. It's going to be for a rug and/or weaving depending on how much I end up with. It's really fun to spin in this carefree fashion, and the yarn turned out cool looking. I'll need to dye it before I knit it, so I'll probably be letting you know how that goes. Don't worry Stacy, I'm cleaning off my bobbins for your yarn! Promise! I've got a pound of wonderful soft white Corridale Cross that's got your name on it.

Ahhh... the beads. Sheila is amazing! I kept finding my favorite one, until I did the next one which became my favorite. I ended up making 2 dozen of my favorites :-) Here's a picture of my tools and setup.

I'm on sock #2 of some ankle length socks I'm knitting right now. I'm doing the heel, so just about to make that turn and race for the toe. I'm looking forward to wearing these. I needed some dark colored socks - and these are black, dark green, and brown. Very good colors for my work shoes. Sorry no photo of these, but I'm sure you'll see them pretty soon when they are completed.

In the better late than never category, I finally planted the dahlias that Mom gave me! They have been in my garage in the window for a while. They were looking so sad that I hadn't planted them yet, so today they got their wish. I cleaned out the plastic whisky barrel tubs and found that last year's dahlias had been trying to come back in one of the tubs. The darn slugs were eating them down! So I added fertilizer to the soil and got it all worked in. Planted two plants per pot and watered them in well. Tomato cages are in the planters to help keep the dahlias from falling over. The system worked really well last year, but I planted three plants per planter, which was pretty crowded. So today was wonderful, even though I ended up with a pretty decent sunburn, I feel like I got a lot of neat things done. I will sleep well tonight :-)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Walk Photos

My husband, Missy and I went for a walk today. Here's some photos of the flowers and critters we found along the trail. Enjoy!

Here's some plants in our front yard. The white one is very lacy and smells sweet. I don't know what it is called. The blue hydrangea takes up the whole front flowerbed. It's always a nice shade of blue.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sky Drama Plied

The Sky Drama fiber is officially yarn! Forgive the disheveled state of the skein, I used a small knitty noddy (a form that you wrap yarn around to make a skein) and so the skein itself is hard to really show off. There are 8 ounces all in one skein! There's a lot of yarn here. When it's thoroughly dried (it's a wee bit damp still) I'll use the yarn meter to see how many feet/yards I have here. Anyway, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Lisa Souza dyed the fiber, and Sheila Ernst had it with her for sale when she was at the Seattle Fiber Expo. So through some of my favorite people, I came to have this wonderful fiber to spin. Once I know my yardage I can make the final decision on what I'm going to knit with this beautiful yarn.

Well today is a rare day indeed. First of all I had the day off from work (I took a vacation day) and I was honored to be sought out for some attention from Emma, our cat. She really prefers the men of this house, but today she lowered her standards and came and wanted me to pet her. I have evidence of her actually being held of her own free will, but she didn't like the flash.

I was outside spinning this morning and it started to rain. I adjusted the picnic table umbrella and tried to continue spinning. It worked for quite awhile, but then the rain came harder and I came inside with my wheel. Sure wish we had a covered deck. The lighting is so nice outside. I can hear the birds and the rain was fun until my wheel started getting splashed. Hopefully someday when we build our home in the country, we'll have a covered porch area where I can spin.

Tomorrow is my last day off and then I have to go back to work on Friday. I think I'll try and see the Pirates movie tomorrow. I have some spinning I'm looking forward to doing for my niece - she's wanting to knit soakers for her expected baby. I've got lots of wool about, so this is a win/win for me!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Out to Ply

I had to work today, but I got some free time too! My mission was to finish spinning the singles of Lisa Souza's Sky Drama fiber in a 50/50 Merino/Silk blend. I've been spinning it off and on for some time, and today felt like the day to get to the plying. It was a beautiful day so I took my wheel outside and spun for a few hours. I actually got the last of the fiber spun, and I am now in the plying phase.
For those who are not spinners, when you spin wool (or fibers) into yarn you spin a single strand of fiber. Then most of the time (for me) you take two or more of those singles and ply them together into a 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply, etc. yarn. I sort of like the 3-ply variety most of the time, but with this Merino/Silk I'm making a 2-ply yarn.

There is a photo of the Level Winder (my newest spinning tool) on my wheel above. The round eye moves back and forth like a fishing reel winder. The wheel is made by Curt Fricke. I paid a little more to have a round orifice where the yarn or single enters to be spun. Both the Level Winder and the Fricke wheel come with a triangle orifice called a delta orifice. I like the round one better, so I upgraded.

Check out the difference between the two bobbins of singles that are on the lazy kate (a holder that keeps them still while you ply). The one that is a plastic bobbin is done without a Level Winder. The wooden one is done with a Level Winder.

Missy helped me outside today. She found a hotdog bun we threw over to the wild birds (moments after it was tossed) and here's a photo of her carrying it about worried about where she is going to stash her prize. I took a photo where she was hiding it, just in case she forgets later.

Today was Uncle Clarence's birthday party and I had to miss it. I'm really sad I couldn't be there. He's a very special Uncle and I really love him a lot. I hope he had a wonderful birthday party. Sounds like it was going to be outside, so I'm sure he had lovely weather and a great turnout for it. He has always loved horses, and so have I. He sure has made some powerful memories of horseback rides and how to tell a great story. He's still tells wonderful stories in his own special way. He is such a big part of the community where he lives and takes time to support the kids in the community by going to many of their games and cheering them on. His kids and grand kids have long since graduated, he goes because he cares about the community and supports the youth programs where kids learn teamwork and leadership. What a great Uncle!

Below is a quick shot of the Diamond Fantasy Shawl I started knitting with a group of friends. The yarn is some of Lisa Souza's called Olive Tones in Sock!. I've got a long ways to go yet, but this is an example of how the beads look with the yarn.

Friday, July 7, 2006

To Blog or Not to Blog

Well I've had this blog for awhile and never really done much with it. I've thought about blogging and then I've thought about not blogging. As you can see being indecisive is it's own decision, thus no blog entries. I've had the blog but have not used it. Well perhaps I will try the other side of blogging for awhile and see how it goes.

If you have all your photos organized and put where they belong, well..... you are an amazing being or else you don't take enough photos! Anyway, here's some of my photos for you.

Chickens at the folks 2005, Shetlands & Sam at OFFF 2005 , Olive Tones Sock! from Lisa Souza, going to be a Diamond Fantasy Shawl

So, the weekend is here and so am I. This is always a good thing. However the weekend will be shorter than usual for me, I am going in to work on Sunday. Going to learn more about my job and what I need to know for a new position coming up. I'm pretty excited about it, so going in will be fun since it's going to lead to more learning and knowledge overall.

I spin wool into yarn (sometimes into knots) and I knit with it (the yarn that is). I have a good quantity of wool that is going to need spun when it comes back from the cleaners! Okay - wool processors - where they wash the sheeps fleece clean, comb it or card it to straighten it into a uniform group of wool fibers, and get it ready to be spun. I can do that myself, except it takes a lot of doing and the fun is in the spinning and knitting in my book. I still have all the equipment to do the cleaning and combing, and I do that to smaller fleeces or to blend different types of fibers such as different sheep wools have different textures, or different animals fibers (goats, bunnies, dogs, plants, silk, alpaca, etc) can be blended together. Then there is the options for coloring that fiber too! There is an endless amount of possibilities when you spin your own :-)

Okay, there's a blog for the "other" side of the fence on if I should blog or not. I'll post this and see how it feels :-)

Thought of the day - Life is to short to be cranky for long.

PS: Hannah doesn't say "Hi" she says "Preeeeeetttttttyyyyy Birrrrrrrrrd" and she's right!