29 December 2006

A little misty.

That's what I was after reading Stephanie's post about TSF. The world is lucky to have people devoted to such positive causes--I notice a lot of positive causes in the knitting blogiverse. There's TSF, Heifer International, the Dulaan project, tons that I'm sure I'm forgetting, and the smaller, more personal causes--Relays for Life, personal needs for ailing family and friends...there's so much work being done by so many people who could easily say that they haven't time for things like that.

Do you think it's because knitters can't stand to be doing only one (or thirty-seven) things at once? That we have a yen to see people properly warm (and, by extension, properly fed, cared-for, and loved)? Or is it just that wool (and silk and alpaca and tencel and bamboo and cotton and qiviut) really do make us better people than we are without them? (I know I feel most generous when I've got my paws in a pile of cushy, shiny softness--soft things make one's heart glad)

Brings me joy to be even the tiniest part of it.

Off to go play with Sinclair and maybe actually figure out this lace-weight spinning thing. It probably involves making a new drive band for the smallest & second-smallest whorls. *sigh* It's a good thing I'm filled with goodwill at the moment.

27 December 2006

Middling.

Here we are, between the holidays. And, it seems, between everything else. I'm between taking photos--we forgot to take the camera back to Pennsylvania with us for Christmas, and I forgot to take a photo of the Super Seekrit Christmas knitting. It was a brown felted pot (think clay pot without handles; that's about right). And I knit one of those crazy Fun Fur scarves for the Christmas bingo pile. (What, you don't have Christmas bingo?)

In yarny present-hood, I got the lace flyer for Sinclair (which I begged for). I was noddling with it last night and the good news is that yes, it does make very tiny yarn. The bad news is that the adjusting and the fiddling and the frequent use of a screwdriver really hinders my ability to leap into my spinning. I am forced to trod sedately. I've never been good at treading sedately. Not treadling, mind you. The treadling is quick like lightning. It's the planning that gets me. The deliberateness of wanting to spin. And now if I want to go back to my other yarn (the lilac stuff), I gots to get out the screwdriver again. I just need another wheel, is all. *ducks and runs from the lightning bolts*

My dad, without knowing what he was even looking for (he just went and looked for knitting books--didn't bother to check my Amazon wishlist or anything), gifted me with the Indomitable Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules! and Mason-Dixon Knitting. I'd call that a success.

I was planning to ply (attempt to ply?) the teensy lacey bits of yarn from last night's adventure today, but I think that something else will have my attention today. I've got to check in on a friend who was in the hospital last night.

I hope the holidays (whichever you might celebrate, and if you're not celebrating, I hope late December is pleasant & joyful in a general way) were kind to you all, and best of luck deciding on those knitting resolutions. We've only got a few more days to pretend we'll buy less yarn and be more faithful to our projects.

20 December 2006

Holiday meme!

Borrowed from Knitting Iris.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate. Mad props if it's made with real chocolate & cream, but mostly I like the cheap-o instant mixes with the suspicious little marshmallows. I really do like those a lot.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Always wrapped. With amusing names on the tags.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored! I personally appreciate people who can manage that wonderfully classy white/gold/red/green thing at the holidays, but I know I'm incapable. I loves me a gaudy tree, and I loves me some tinsel. It is sad that having a cat has thus far kept my tree tinsel-less, but I'd rather have no tinsel than a trip to the vet.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? If there were mistletoe here, we'd really never get anything done. And the few people who come to the Little Blue House probably don't want anyone here kissing them.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The minute the semester is over. This year, it was December 12. I would like to decorate the day after Thanksgiving, but life has yet to cooperate for that.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Peanut Blossoms.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? This was a recurring one: on Christmas Eve, after the church candlelight service, we'd drive around and look at the lights. As it got later in the evening, my dad would point out one of those blinking red radio tower lights, and Mom would say it was Rudolph, and we'd rush home and Mark and I would go right to sleep.

8 . When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What do you mean, "the truth?" Hardcore believer. For life.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nopers. Though, sometimes, we're forced to have one side of the family's Christmas celebration the Saturday before Christmas (sometimes that's very early, too, or after, depending).

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Loudly. Our ornaments are a mish-mash of colorful glass balls I got at Pier One and castaways from both my parents & Bill's. At least 3 strings of lights. And always a star on top.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Both, sometimes. It's harder to be really excited about snow when you have to drive in it and school's never cancelled.

12. Can you ice skate? You bet your blades I can.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? This is going to sound silly, but the gifts I have loved best have always been stuffed animals. I think Cheetah is my favoritest ever, though Franco & Wolf are high up. And now that I have Sinclair, I can't help but love him. But the stuffed animals--they're the best.

14. What's your favorite thing(s) about the holidays? The lights. I love the times when you can just lie on the couch, no lights but the tree lights, and be snug for a while. I like to look at the tree and unfocus my eyes so that everything glitters in double. And I do love carols. Can't sing, but I still like to try.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Peanut Blossoms. And chocolate covered pretzels from Wolfgang Candy.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Our Christmas Eve dinner (the only time of year that there's cloth and candles on the Wendt table) and my mom's devious plans to make us hunt though half the county to get to our presents.

17. What tops your tree? A star. Always a star.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I like the giving part. I like picking out gifts that I know people will like, and so I wish (every year) that I had started my shopping earlier.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? "Little Drummer Boy" (yes, Laura, even if it is the longest song ever) and "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"

20. What is your favorite holiday book? Dickens' A Cricket on the Hearth. Sentimental tripe, and I love it.

21. Candy canes yuck or yum? I can eat one candy cane a year. I generally get bored with hard candy. I like the munching part.

21. What's number one on your Christmas list this year? Aside from the peace on earth & goodwill to all, there was Sinclair, and he's got. Now I'd like for Bill and I to be able to run this familial holiday gamut (you know, a dozen places in 48 hours again) without feeling like it's a gamut. I'd like to enjoy the holiday instead of being stressed out by it.

17 December 2006

Print o' the Wave Stole: Finally

She is finished! Finally. And I'll say this right away: don't look too closely--she's riddled with mistakes. As a first lace piece and as something I was trying to finish on a deadline, I just couldn't frog it back as often as I might have wanted to. I did have to do some serious tinking at times (not yet used to the teensy stitches and the fact that they don't look like much until stretched out), but it's far, far, far from perfect. The fun specs: knit in Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud, color Smoke, on size 3 Inox circs. Took me every bit of two hanks (and I had to hand-wind those bitches into balls. Much cursing done there.), and I followed Eunny's pattern & blocking advice. It's a beautiful pattern, full of all of the instructions a complete n00b like me could want.

Have some detail photos:

This is one corner, showing my cheap solution to not knowing how to deal with the curved edging--I made it into pointy scallops. Now I just have to wait until it dries, and then I'm going to run around the house, trailing it behind me like fairy wings. Now that it's blocking and almost looks like it's supposed to look, I don't hate it anymore.

My next lace adventure will be Ademas, from Knitpicks, knit in Alpaca Cloud Stream. Someday, I'll spin enough laceweight to knit Icarus. But for now, I'm going to spend some quality time with Sinclair.

15 December 2006

Super Seekrit Christmas Knitting Part 1: Vanquished

I finished one Christmas object--the only one I was absolutely certain I was going to make--and it's currently drying, next to my betta fish, Clark. (He looks like Superman--all blue and red and fierce.) But, since it's seekrit, can't take a picture. I can tell you, though, that it's a felted item made from my very own handspun. The yarn I used is a two-ply Corriedale (in natural ecru) and Dark Welsh (a very pleasingly rich dark brown) and a little bit of HelloYarn hand-dyed merino that I spun on my very first drop spindle. (It was a Babe spindle, one of those jobbies with the red plastic discs. Totally functional, very resilient to being dropped on the floor a lot while I was learning. Pictures of my new(ish) sexy Cascade to come soon.)

I love felting. I don't do it in the washing machine, since I don't usually do laundry in hot water and I don't even know if there is hot water connected to the washing machine here. I just fill up the sink with bitchin' hot water, toss in the object and some Palmolive, and scrub away. Keeps my always-cold fingers nice and toasty, I can see exactly how much shrinkage is happening, and I can see any spots that aren't felting as vigorously as the rest and correct it. Also, as someone whose life is dedicated to sitting around with my face in a book, the vigorous hand-agitation is almost like a workout. (How very, very sad.)

Since the semester has ended, I've been much more active in terms of my blogging. I'm going to try to continue this trend, but I won't be so foolish as to make promises. We've done that before, and we've always been proved terrible liars. Of course, as a fiction writer, lying is kind of a trademark skill. Interesting. At any rate, my most current fiction project (a novel) is part and parcel of this very sheepy endeavor, so it's probably in my best interest to keep alive in the Blogiverse.

As I try to do that, expect catch-up knitting & spinning photos as a vain attempt to overcompensate for my habitual prolonged absences. As part of my overcompensatory plan, have a photo of lovely flowers from my November trip to Riverside, CA. I don't know what they are, but they were growing in the courtyard of the Mission Inn. (It's just beautiful. I didn't stay there--too swanky for TA salary--but I would have liked to.) The flowers aren't knitting; they're prettier than anything I knit. Hopefully, if you're caught in the northeast and the endless winter spiral of grey, they'll cheer you up a bit.

And have a tree, too. It's ours, procured from the local boyscout troupe, and we definitely need some larger ornaments.

14 December 2006

Pictures!

It's yarn! Well, actually, it's a single, spun from the merino/tencel fiber that posed with Sinclair in the last post. My goal is to spin up those three braids into varying combinations--some plied lilac to lilac, some lilac to midnight, some midnight to the variegated, etc., and see if I can't bash a big, cozy shawl out of it. I'm not yet jumping into spinning laceweight (though I'm hoping for the lace flyer for Christmas and laceweight is one of my goals) because I've had this fiber on hand for more than a year now (waiting not-so-patiently for a spinning wheel). And this fiber said, "Make us into a big, cozy thing," when I bought it. The fact that it wanted to be anything other than held on my lap and petted quite surprised me. (That's what I would have done with it, had the fiber not instructed me to do otherwise.)

In other parts of the life, I've also been baking. You know, since it's sugar-coma time. Lookit. Cookies:

They're my favorite Christmas cookie of all time, the Peanut Blossom. They're remarkably easy to make, one batch makes 3 dozen, and it's completely easy to eat all 3 dozen in 3 days. I'll be making more of these on Saturday.

I've begun some Super Seekrit holiday knitting, a felting experiment with the first of my Sinclair-spun yarn. (You'll see that yarn when the item is finished. The fiber was leftover from the Zoo spinning presentation disaster.)

Any thoughts on giving handspun yarn as a gift? I want to make some beautiful yarn that recollects the sea (the Pacific Northwest, to be exact) for a dear friend who is just getting into knitting. Any suggestions for fiber locating? HelloYarn, my favorite (and first) fiber source, sells out so very quickly. In an ideal world, I'd do the dyeing myself, but I think one new major crafting supply (Sinclair) is enough for one holiday. I love my husband, love him for splurging on a wheel when we could definitely have put that money elsewhere, and I think I'll try to limit my "ooh! I need that!" impulse for a while. And bribe him with cookies.

10 December 2006

IMG_1246[2]


IMG_1246[2]
Originally uploaded by metallikitten12.
This is Sinclair, my brand spankin' new Ashford Traveller. He's seen posing here with the fiber we're going to dive into as soon as I post. (And because I know you'll want to know, all of this fiber is from Cloverleaf Farms, purchased last year at Rhinebeck, and the two solid braids are merino/tencel blends, and the multicolored is a merino/silk blend.)

The name? Named after my most favorite Kiwi ever, Harry Sinclair. You may know him as Isildur from Peter Jackson's masterful rendering of Lord of the Rings, but he's also a fantastic director in his own right. My favorite Harry Sinclair film is The Price of Milk.

And now we're off to spin.

04 December 2006

Stolen Time

This time is being bodily wrenched from writing two final papers (one of which is almost done but could be 12 pages of arriving at no actual point, which is a problem) that are due on Thursday. But I can't keep the excitement in.

I have a spinning wheel in the mail.

It's an Ashford Traveller.

When it arrives (I don't know if it's a he, she, or other--wouldn't know until we've officially met), there will be many pictures. And I might hyperventilate, too. This wheel is the only thing keeping me focused on the academic crap, because when it arrives, you can bet your booty that all else takes a back seat.

In other news, I finished the Print o' the Wave stole, but I may have to actually graft the join where I was a huge cheater and used a 3-needle bind-off. It's not blocked yet, but I know that corner's going to look stupid. *sigh* I didn't think I'd get to the point where I hated it, but I think I do. Hopefully we'll make up after blocking. (I hope to do the blocking when the finishing wax is soaking into the new wheel. Wouldn't want to get wax on the fiber, you know.)

You notice, of course, how the stole was in no way finished for Writing By Degrees? I got over that loss, because WBD was a huge success. I'm still trying to catch up with life after it, but it was fantabulous. Knitting writers, I hope to see you there next year.

I promise photos next week.