Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Latest Knitting Project

Here it is....finally. Pictures of my latest knitting project. This is the back piece of an aran sweater that I'm knitting for my miniature schnauzer. The pattern is from the book "Dogs in Knits". Wonderful book. Lots of very pretty sweaters in there for your favorite "fur-baby". It's also a wonderful way to try out a new technique on a smaller scale.....which I have discovered with this project.
Cables have always fascinated me. They are so pretty....and look so incredibly complex to do. My only knitting experience with cables was a big single cable down the front of a sweater done in bulky weight yarn. So this project has been an eye-opener. Yes, I can do cables. And, yes, I do enjoy knitting them quite a bit. I'm also getting very good at reading charts and using them exclusively instead of following a written pattern.....which excites me beyond belief. Especially since I have figured out how to use multiple charts in one pattern. All this has been learned by knitting up one rather small doggie sweater. :.)

A bit about the yarn being used. It's a mohair/jacob wool blend. It's about a dk weight yarn (or a light worsted weight). The dye job on it isn't the most even, but it does look rather pretty knitted up. The yarn was obviously some of my very first yarn since it is a mohair blend....and I haven't had angora goats in years. I'm also guessing it was processed at a mill since I've only had my drum carder for a couple of years and honestly can't see myself sitting there blending fiber on hand cards. Why has the yarn sat for so long?? I'm guessing because of the uneven dye job....for the most part. Honestly, it really didn't look all that pretty in a skein. And I probably never found the right project for it....until now. As for the spinning part of it.....well, it is pretty consistent, although the plying does leave a bit to be desired. For the most part it is plyed rather nicely. Every now and then I will run into a piece where there isn't enough twist in the ply. I know I could run it all through my wheel again and re-ply it all. I just don't have the motivation for that. I'm finding that with all of its faults the yarn is knitting up very nicely. Besides I honestly don't think my mini schnauzer is going to mind all that much if the plying is a bit uneven in the yarn used for his sweater. :.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009


It's been such a long time since I've posted. Life has just gotten so hectic lately that it's been hard focusing on one thing at a time....which is what I really have to do if I expect to get through it all with my sanity intact. So I've been quilting. Lots and lots of quilting. In fact, I've hit the point to where I'm now making quilts just to strange as that sounds. The one pictured above was made with leftover pieces and fabric from my "Winter Fun" quilt. I needed something to practice my machine quilting on and didn't want to pull out one of my "good" tops. :.) So the quilt pictured was born. Quilted it up and was rather pleased with the results.....then decided that I needed another quilt to practice on. So a second quilt was born from leftover pieces and scraps. In fact, I had so much leftover pieces and scrap fabric that not only did I end up with a small quilt top, but I also ended up with a pieced backing to go with. This one is still on the basting table waiting for me to baste it so it can be quilted. That's when life stepped in with all of it chaotic uncertainties.

So then I turned to spinning. It was something I could squeeze in between this and that. Currently I have a Shetland/Bamboo/Nylon blend on my Sonata. This is destined to be sock yarn and then.....eventually.....made into socks for my loving hubby. On my Country Spinner is the last of my second Karakul fleece. It was spun from the lock into a lovely bulky weight yarn. Just need to ply it and set the twist.....then it will be ready for use. I'm thinking a felted puppy will be the perfect project for this latest skein....especially as it has such lovely coloration to it. On two of the bobbins for the Sonata is a Shetland/Mohair/Soy Silk blend that is waiting to be wound into center pull balls and then plied into a lovely sock yarn. This will have to be done soon as I only have the one remaining bobbin for the Sonata and it is in the process of being filled with the Shetland/Bamboo/Nylon blend. The Prelude did have this wonderful roving from the Sheep Shed Studio on it. That spun up into a very lovely aran weight yarn which I will be using to knit up a cabled hat for my loving hubby. I still have about 8 ounces of the roving left. This will be spun into a little heavier yarn for matching mittens.....also for my loving hubby. And on the needles is the back part of an aran sweater for my miniature schnauzer. The yarn I'm using is a Jacob/Mohair blend that I spun up eons ago. I will have to post a picture of it. It is turning out rather nicely.....and this is my first attempt at tackling multiple cables in the same project. My previous attempt with cables was a bulky sweater with one single fat cable running up the center front. I gave that to a friend who simpy adores it.

For those wondering what has been going on that has made my life so crazy youngest was injured during a wrestling match. She (yes, she.....and this will be her fourth year of wrestling) has a rotator cuff injury (among other things). This means many runs to the doctor and physical therapist (twice a week) and it also means the end of her wrestling season.....which she has dealt with very nicely.

My father was due to have surgery earlier this week for a complication from his heart surgery a couple of months ago. The surgery didn't happen because it was deemed unsafe. It was discovered that the artery in his right leg has a blockage of some sort. So he is now scheduled to have a second surgery in a week to hopefully fix whatever is going on. His doctor says that he is far enough post heart surgery that this surgery won't be any problem for him....which is good news. It just means that he will have a bit of a stay in the hospital (about 3 days).....which means a lot of driving and some very long days for me. My mother doesn't drive in town.....and can be more than a person should have to handle when things like this happen. Just makes you want to pull your hair out and bang your head against a wall at times. Doesn't help any that my father, who is incredibly stubborn to begin with, will start getting even more stubborn when my mother is at her "best". So whoever is lucky enough to be with them has to be the "responsible adult" and pacifier.....which is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. The things we do for the people we love.......

Finally, my oldest called me yesterday to say that she has to go back in for more testing next week. Her pap came back and is showing signs of cervical cancer (and she isn't even twenty yet). I told her not to worry and that everything will be just fine. Things were caught early and chances are this will be taken care of very quickly. I also told her that we are there for her. When my loving hubby talked to her later he said that she sounded much better....which makes me very happy. It's so hard to be the strong one when all you want to do is cry because your child is sick. But you have to....especially for your child. They expect you to be. And that's a hard thing to do at times. So I tend to do most of my crying in the shower these days. It's the only place where I can give in to my emotions and be weak.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More spinning......and other things

What else do you do when you have a pretty good cold going that just won't go away? You do things that are quiet and will keep your hands busy. At least I do anyway. So this means spinning, knitting, and quilting.....and it also means going through stash to see exactly what you have. I discovered that I have quite a few small skeins of hand-spun yarn. Didn't quite know what to do with them. They were starting to out-number my larger skeins making it more of a chore than a pleasure to go through my yarn basket. And they really were too pretty to give away....even though most had been used in at least one project (if not two). The answer came in a most unexpected way. I was watching an episode of Knit and Crochet Today when I just happen to see a picture of this afghan done in many different colors. The picture was up only briefly.....just long enough to catch my eye really. I did pay attention, though, and at least got the name of the book the pattern was in (Knitalong). Here was the perfect solution to all those small skeins of yarn. I would make them into barn-raising blocks and eventually put them all together into a scrappy afghan. My first two blocks are pictured above. They finished out at about 9" and I was able to use a total of 4 small skeins of hand-spun yarn. I chose to use a smaller size needle than what the pattern calls for (I'm using size 4 dpns) and am doing a few more rounds to make the blocks just a bit larger. To make sure all of my blocks come out about the same size I'm only using yarn that measures between 12-14 wpi. Anything larger or smaller than this will be put aside for another project. While the blocks may not be all that fancy I really do love the pattern and the way the finished blocks look. They showcase my hand-dyed, hand-spun yarns beautifully. The pattern is easy to remember and there is no need to keep track of rows. Plus it travels very nicely. All you need is needles and yarn. :.) Of course who knows when I will actually have enough blocks made to put into an afghan. It really doesn't matter since I enjoy making the blocks so much and now have a wonderful way to use up all those smaller skeins of yarn. Plus it's a wonderful way to record some of the yarns I have spun over the years.

I've also been doing some quilting. Mostly hand applique since it allows me to quietly sit in my chair in front of the woodstove. It's also given me the chance to finally get caught up on the block of the month that I'm doing. Pictured is November's block (purple background) and December's block (pink background). I don't have October's block finished yet. What I'm discovering is that about the only fabric in each month's kit that I've been using is the background fabric and the scrappy squares. The rest has been set aside for one reason or another. I've been digging into my stash of batik charms for a good part of the applique. And have a nice selection of greens set aside as well. The "color" theme of the quilt is supposed to be brights....and not all of the fabric in the kits have been conducive to this theme. I will confess that I am not a "brights" person myself.....leaning more towards the folk art/primitive look and colors.....but I really liked the applique on this quilt. It had the "feel" that I'm drawn towards....although not really the colors. But I figured it would be good to venture outside of my comfort zone every now and then.....which it is. It's been a real challenge to keep the blocks within the "brights" color theme. It's also been amazing to see exactly how many brights I really do have in my stash....even though it may mostly be in the form of 6" charms. :.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spinning.....and other things

Here are pictures of my felted squirrel. I call it my "nighttime squirrel" because when you press its belly it plays Brahms Lullaby. :.) The body is made from grey Norwegian.....the tummy is Karakul.....and the tail from a strand of Suffolk and a strand of eyelash yarn held together. The Norwegian and Karakul felted beautifully!!!! Definitely a wonderful combination of fibers to use together in one project. The Suffolk....well, let's just say that it's now on my list of fibers not to buy.

The nose on my squirrel was needle-felted on using black llama (from my big guy) and then the facial features were also needle-felted. Turned out way cuter than I thought it would. :.)

Besides spinning (of which I've been doing quite a bit lately), I've also gotten back into my quilting. Below are pictures of a quilt that I finished recently. All done in "winter" fabrics (I refuse to call them Christmas fabrics simply because that means I can't keep the quilt out past the holidays) with a snowflake backing. The pattern is my own drawn up in my EQ6 program. The piecing is simple (which is something I really needed at this time) and the quilt can be made using half yard cuts (which is something I seem to have quite a few of). The quilting was kept simple as well. I did a 3" diagonal grid using variegated thread and a serpentine stitch. This is one of my favorite all-over quilting patterns to use. It's easy to mark the diagonal grid using my hera marker and the serpentine stitch gives it just enough motion to soften all those straight lines. I've currently got a small quilt on the machine that I'm practicing a new technique of machine quilting on. I used the left-over blocks from this quilt (I had a couple) to make this smaller quilt. I'm thinking I may use it as a table topper once it is all finished......or let my miniature schnauzer use it as a snuggle quilt. It all depends on how it turns out. :.) It's been such a long time since I've done any free motion machine I'm trying to re-learn that while learning a new technique. Probably not one of the smartest things I've done. :.) But I am determined to do both tolerably well and have a nice pile of quilts that are just perfect for practicing on. So with any luck it will all work out and I will once again be comfortable doing free motion quilting.