Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricanes and Sweaters

It wasn't as soon as I thought but I did finally finish the front on my shapely tee just last night. I immediately cast on for the back and then will have the sleeves and sewing. Hmmm, may not be done before the hot weather ends. At least I hope the hot weather doesn't last that long. The straps are wider than they look here. The stockinette stitch tends to curl.

I have worked some on the Cinnamon Wave Wrap. Since the church has had its grand opening for the addition and we are using the kitchen, I decided I better that that "wrapped" up. I want to do one set of pattern repeat rows and that will be it except for blocking. I haven't gotten a piece of blocking board. I may take some money to the local lumber company to see what I can find.

With no NASCAR today till late (probably even too late for me since it is a night race in California), I have had Fox News on all day long. Even giving up "Spencer Tracey Day" on Turner Classic Movie Channel. I am glad to see that the mayor and people of New Orleans are responding to the threat of Gustav a little more than they did with Katrina. Hubby and I are basically overdosing on hurricane and Republican convention updates. Of course no positive site pinpointed yet for landfall, but "Nawlins" probably will be getting the worse of the storm surge, rain and wind from the way it looks. Man--I was there once for few days and was heading out of town one dark and stormy and very rainy night. All I could think of then was the fact I was under sea level. How can people stand to live there? I was nervous being there just for that one rain storm.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Knitting Updates

I have been working on my shapely tee and today I got the the place where I cast off the center front. Now I am just working on the 2 shoulders and hopefully will have the front finished today.

I also started a new cardigan. Using just Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage system and Knitting in the Old Way, I am forging ahead with no pattern, just a plan. I plan to add pockets and have raglan sleeves. The hardest part was deciding whether to go top down or bottom up. Since I have some 60 inch cables for my Knit Picks Options needles (the stainless ones for speed instead of the wooden ones) I figured I could transfer the stitches to that to do "try ons" while in progress.
It isn't wool, but a nice quality acrylic. It has a long color change from green, gray to pink with a constant ply of a yellow green. The pictures don't really capture it right.
I cast on Thursday and worked on the ribbing while riding to St Joe and back on Friday.
The trip was with Mary to visit Christy. She is starting her 2nd year teaching and last year we went down to help her set up her classroom. It was much farther along that last year. (The end of August and she still didn't have desks!) But even with desks, she had a to-do list a mile long on the white board. (What ever happened to blackboards?) But, despite of a trip out for lunch and a trip to the new condo to check out the new digs, we managed to finish everything on the list.
The trip down we were delivering her Buick to her, which she had swapped for her brother-in-law's farm fan. We got to drive down in lovely air-conditioned comfort. Some rain on the way down but nothing like the wind and falling trees we had last year on the trip home. The highlight this time was the trip back in the farm van.
Imagine it--no AC, lights on the dash that kept flashing. Hot, hot, hot. And all backed up with the aroma of musty feed, milk replacer and manury barn boots. Mmmmmmm, just like Hubbys truck.

Demo Days

While my blog posts (or lack there of) make it seem as though there is nothing in my life to write about, quite the opposit is true.
I mentioned that Hubbys brother came last week to survey the project of replacing the ceiling in the former boys room, future craft room. I went off merrily to work but when I came home, I find that the new revised plan is to totally gut the room. Ceiling, walls, maybe even the floor now are going to be replaced. My Hubby has been spending the evenings (when I am home) tearing down plaster and wall board. The dust was horrible. I finally convinced him to open the storm windows and set a fan in the window. It is not so bad now. He is not the most handy when it comes to home repairs and this is major. Its going to be a long couple weeks until it is rebuilt.
I have to keep reminding mys self.
Craft room.
Craft room.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Knitted Tam--Done

I love fast projects. I had this finished before I could even get a chance to post a picture. Here is an "in-progress" before I started the decreases. It is a worsted weight wool called Donegal Tweed. I really like the rustic look of it.

After spending most of the day yesterday plying up the last of the blended "October Sky" roving in a beautiful burgundy, rust and yellow, I dug out the needles and finished the hat in short order. (Time flies while watching a good classic movie--yesterday was Gene Kelly day on TCM channel. Topped it off with a little tag of I-cord and here is the finished tam.
It is still on the platter I used to block it on. I am not sure if I liked it better with or without being blocked.
Next, swatching for a cardigan. I have some tweedy long with long varigations. It is a good quality acrilic called Marble. That will definitely be a long term project, so will need to at least finish the Cinnamon Wave Wrap for church before getting into this too far. I have many decisions first anyway. I will not be using a pattern, so need to decide top up vs top down. I have already decided against steeks. I think I have decided on the size 7 needles/5 stitches per inch. But I may extend the swatch with size 6 to see what that looks like. The yarn is DK weight and someday I will get a picture.

Another Fiber Full Weekend

This past weekend my friend Jane and I went to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan. This is first time I actually went with someone and it was fun. I tried to restrain myself but did score some wonderful black wool silk blend--a full pound--that is pre-drafted and ready to spin. And also splurged on another blend, polworth wool/angora/silk/alpaca in a luscious pink called Raspberry Rabbit. Yum. Very inspiring and lots of fun. I didn't even bother taking my camera, I was too busy browsing. Jan, who is legally blind, brought her seeing eye dog, Roxie. Roxie did much better this time. I think she is more used to wool fumes and knows they will not try to attack us.
Jane and I also met up with several friends for lunch. And when I took my bag of wool from the fair to Zielengers wool mill trailer to be processed, another Jane was there with her wool from the fair as well. In dropping off my wool, I also gave them some brown Shetland I had gotten a year ago, but didn't scour out the greasy lanolin when I washed it. They are going to do a 2 way blend and I am really excited to see how it turns out. Especially when I saw how little processing cost.
Hubby's brother Carl stopped by today, before I went to help out at Jane's store. He is going to help Hubby repair the ceiling in the boys room. (Plaster damaged from leaky roof) They started planning and now are going to pull up the plaster and re-sheet rock the entire room. I may have to wait longer than I thought for my craft room.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Knit Tam--Revisited

Well, I did decide to frog the entire hat and start over.  Right now I am about an inch into the body.  I need to recalculate the row gauge to figure out how long I need to make it.  I didn't record that on my swatch.  I hope it turns out.  Maybe I can take some of my handspun and make fair isle hats if this turns out.  And, yeah, I will try to get a picture.  I also want to get the blue green sock done so I can mark it finished on Ravelry (I am "farmmom" there.)
Hopefully I can get a lot of knitting done tonight.  I am aiming for an early supper, clear up the remains and settle down to an evening of knitting and/or spinning while watching "Pride and Prejudice" on Turner Classic Movies.  The "real" version with Greer Garson.  I like the newer version, but ther is something I prefer about the older version.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Knitted Tam

I started a wool tam last night at Knit Nite.  I want a hat that will go over my hair clippy.  It is looking pretty good for the first attempt.   However, I think I should have used a smaller size on the ribbing.  I am considering ripping it back and starting over on size 5 dps then going to the size 7, 16 inch circ when I switch to stockinette.  The yarn is a lovely natural colored wool with tweedy bits in it.  It should go well with my  taupe colored winter coat, as well as my mobius scarf.
So it is sitting on the needles right now while I am at work, contemplating its fate.  Maybe I should have started with the scraps of Encore for the test hat.  It is a long time till winter after all.
Pictures will come once I make a decision.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bad Influence? Who Me?

Now I am not going to claim to be a bad influence on anyone.  I may have been accused of being an enabler when someone is debating adding to their yarn or roving stash.  But aside from that, I'm clean.
But this morning when I got to work, my boss/friend Sandy informs me they are looking at buying another llama.  You may remember that I mentioned when she came to the fair she had made promises to buy a black male llama as well as 2 pygmy goats in after the forthcoming babies were weaned.  Now she is looking for another llama, and may have found one.  Heaven help us, a female.  I won't need to by fleeces, I may have them thrust upon me.
There are worse things in life than free fiber I guess.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sock Blank Dyeing

Ok, I took the plunge and dyed my sock blank. I planned on a whole series of pictures...but I was messy, my fingers were purple and I only got one of the finished blank. It is still drying but this is a good representation of what is looks like.

Yea, I know its bright but I love the colors. I used kool-aid to dye it, and this is my first attempt dyeing solo. I used Pink Lemonade, Strawberry, Blue Raspberry (I think--the blue flavor anyway), Black Cherry and Grape. I had small 1 oz squeeze bottles that I mixed 2 packets with hot water. I then shook to mix and just dribbled and drizzled colors around. I think in the future, if I try this again, I may mist an over all color with the spray bottle and then highlight spots of color. I can't wait to try it.

Of course, (for non-knitters) this will make sock that are knit 2 at a time on a long circular needle as the blank is unraveled. I am debating ordering a size 1 (2.25) from Knit Picks. I have an Addi circ but it is a 2.5 size one and I really like the smaller gauge I get with the 2.25 needle.

I did manage to finish and turn the heel on the blue green second sock. That means once I am past the gussets I can legally start my next pair. At least according to Linda's Law of Sock pairs. I cannot start a new pair until the first pair is past the gusset on the second sock. Since this blank will knit up 2 at a time, I will be all confused when it comes time for the next project.

Oh yeah--Angie was asking about the roving I got from Spunky Eclectic. I won't get the first installment from the roving club until after September first. Another thing to remember when I get to Allegan this weekend for the fiber festival. Anyway, here is a pic of the Venus colorway roving that I got. I hope to start this soon. I am trying to decide if I should use the wheel or a drop spindle. Both my Kunderts are empty at the moment.

Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

Grand Opening

Now that I have caught up on the events of the fair, I'll take time to mention the other big event of this past weekend.

Several years ago, a dear elderly lady from my church, who was one of our founding members, passed away and left a substantial bequest. Her dream was to have an addition with a parish hall and everything all on one level. Yesterday was the grand opening of our new handicapped accessible addition. Offices, bathrooms, parish hall/mission center all on one level. The kitchen is commercial grade, and we hope to be able to use it for fund raisers. We also have plans for our next rummage sale and being able to have it at the church, instead of at the fair grounds in one of the big buildings there.

It was quite the festive event. We had a ribbon cutting by a member who had been the chair of the original building committee for the main building built in 1963. "Hizzoner" the mayor even was there, and several area priests and pastors. We gave tours of the building and served punch, cookies and ice cream sundaes.

It was also the first day we were able to worship in the new /old nave. The colors have been changed from sort of a charcoal gray to a soft sandy beige with sage green accents. The altar area was widened and rearranged, and the overall effect is light, and airy and delightful.
I love this new building. When I was church secretary long ago, I longed for a bathroom where I didn't have to dash through the worship area, down the stairs and around the corner. Now there is a wonderful office for the secretary, and the coat room and bathrooms are right around the corner. The office isn't the alternate (and preferred) way into the church on weekends as it used to be when I was trying to type bulletins and announcements. So much more practical. When I was secretary, some Saturdays when I was working, the office was a veritable thoroughfare.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fair Week--Friday

Last day of the fair.

Our Historical Committee had hosted a couple of spelling bees for all ages. I missed the first, but we held the second on Friday morning. We had several groups with a blue ribbon for the winners (fair goers love ribbons.) and pencils for all contestants for all. Here is a picture of all who participated in the Friday spelling bee.

After that I caught the tractor operators contest. I had never seen that before, being busy in previous years with the Open class dairy show. A friend's husband secured the braggin rights in the Adult division, soundly beating the younger whippersnappers.

Next I saw the Small Animal and Large Animal Grand Slam contests. These are the competitions for the champions of all the breed showmanship contest. (Large Animal Grand Slam has the top showman from Beef, Swine, Sheep, Dairy, Llama/Alpaca and Horse.) Each breed is then exhibited by each showman. You can usually pick out who won which as the horse person holds the halter of a heifer like a horse, and the sheep person has the right grip and posture. But they all have a crash course in the other breeds and it does make for a fun show.

Rachel from spinning group came to see the animals. We chatted and made the rounds of the barn. We checked out the fleeces left in the case and tried to find the cute Jacob sheep, but Dave had left the building.

Later my Oldest Son competed in the Farm class tractor pull. Not to be confused with the modifieds and big boys that pull on Friday night. He has never won, but he has a good time. Usually he spends the morning washing and polishing the tractor he brings. This year, I think he came right from the field. And although the tractor he brought was only a 2 wheel drive, he was in the same contest as the big front assist (4 wheel drive) tractors. Above is a picture of the competition he faced. They added weights twice to have enough in the sled for this one. And here is my Oldest Son in his boss's beat up, dirty, straight from the manure spreader tractor. He didn't win, but he got past that cone--147 feet and a lot farther than both he and I thought he would do. And while all the 4 wheel drive tractors did beat him, he managed to be another 2 wheel drive that was competing. Even the announcer thought he did a fine job, while commenting that his dirty tractor was what the farm pull was all about--bringing it in right from the field.
Finally at 7pm--a well beloved fair tradition for a bunch of farm mothers who want to celebrate surviving fair week. All week we avoid the one vendor who has french fried everything and the wonderful greasy food there. But on Friday night, we indulge. The Grease Fest (formerly called the Grease Orgy, but some people objected to the name.) I tried to find a recent picture but the most recent I could find was from 2003 fair. And I know it had been an ongoing tradition by then. We recap the week, laughing, crying and having great time eating greasy food. Part of our group is a family of about 5 sisters and the stories they can tell, about fair week and our families always leave us holding our sides from laughing so hard. Part of the fun is that the heavyweight and modified tractor pulling is trying to drown us out, but we persevere and have a great time, wrapping up our fair experience.

Update on Monday night--Christy sent me this picture from Grease Fest 2007.

Fair Week--Thursday

If its Thursday, that means dairy day. For years my sons showed dairy cows for 4H, even though we have beef cattle. The 4H leader was the mother of their best friends and they spent most of each summer helping them on their dairy farm. (More fun helping there, than at home.) And dairy day at the fair starts off with...washing cattle. This year, Katie is the leader instead of her mother and she is starting with a new crew of 6 youngsters. Only her son had shown before. So here is the latest in my yearly batch of washing Jersey heifer pictures. I'm not sure, but there may just be a set of people legs there, scrubbing calves.

Of course I started with my farmers muffin--the Farm Bureau Cheese Booth's version of an Egg McMuffin, with ham and eggs cooked on a grill with a grilled English muffin and cheese, plus a large hot coffee. Luckily, this year, the weather cooled off drastically after the Wednesday night rain. I was able to wear my handknit hoodie (Wallaby is the name of the pattern, by Cottage Creations) in Cascade cotton yarn. It felt pretty good in the shady side of the show arena.

Here are some pictures from the show. Some of Austin, who had showed before, but still found time to mug for cameras instead of watching the judge. Second shot shows him back watching the judge. but chewing gum. Oh well, he as a few years ahead of him before he has to worry about the Grand Slam for the champion showmen.
And here are Austins younger brother and sister. They moved fast so were hard to capture. Lydia became my best bud and had many hugs and lots of conversations with me throughout the week.

This year, the show was a little muddled feeling. Where usually after showman ship there are 2 rings of breed judging, this year we had one judge and all the Holsteins were judged and then the "protein breeds"--the Jerseys and Brown Swiss. And both the 4H youth show and the Open class show, where farmers can bring in cattle from home to show were also combined. So each group that was judged had 2 winners, youth and Open. Sometimes the same person, sometimes 2 different. Not that I am prejudiced, but the judge didn't seem to be a fan of the Jersey breed if he had another option. But Bill, uncle to these other cute munchkins, did do OK for himself, winning Adult Showmanship.

After the dairy show ended, I checked out the goats for sale, for a friend of course. and then I had to hall sit. Since I am a member of the historical committee, when our building was open I would take a turn watching the building and exhibits. We had made a display looking like an old country school. We also had a picture board with pictures of old county schools and class pictures. I always take m spinning wheel and this year, over 2 nights, got almost 2 full bobbins. This time I spun a bag of October Sky colorway wool roving. While I was there, Kate came in. She had attended the small animal auction and ended up winning a bag of fleece. It was from a lamb and not a long staple, but nice. I will be going next weekend to the Michigan Fiber Festival and can leave it the fiber mill to process, saving postage. Luckily I was unable to attend, or I would have bid up the black fleece.
And after more fair food, end of 2nd day at the fair.
Oh, did I mention, my boss/friend Sandy came in after I had mentioned the goats for sale. She ended up possibly buying a black llama and 2 pygmy goats. The goats, Bob and Cissy, will come home after Cissy gives birth and weans her babies.
Am I a bad influence or what?
Its getting late, I will catch up tomorrow.

Fair Week--Wednesday

What a busy week. I was only at the fair half a week this year, but boy was it a full week. In an effort to prevent huge posts, I will try to make a few posts, with only a days worth of activities.
Wednesday I left work at 2:30 and trucked on over to the fairgrounds. Of course with all the road construction in town, I ended up detouring just to go the first 2 blocks. What a pain road construction season (Michigan summer) is this year. Even in town.

When I got there I made a quick wander around and through. I saw most of the people who would want to come to the Grease Fest on Friday and reminded them. (You will hear about that on Friday's recap.)

Ate fair food and was going to watch the Farm Olympics. This is where couples compete in an obstacle course interspersed with various tasks--measuring 20 pounds of oats, bale tossing, hanging a gate and other odd and ends. One team member pulls the other in a racing sulky, stopping at each task. Here is a picture from when Oldest Son competed a couple years ago. Then I noticed a huge black cloud approaching. I ducked into the dairy barn instead and while the black cloud went over quickly, shortly afterward the rain came. It poured. After the rain stopped, I decided to just go home, although the Olympics did finish later in the show arena. For some reason they didn't want to continue in the open with people on metal bleachers, in case of further showers and lightening. I went home and collapsed.
End of first (half) day at fair. Tomorrow the dairy show.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Countdown to Fair

Today and yesterday I have put in long shifts at the library, so I can have the last half of the week off for the fair. I can hardly wait. Today I am putting in 10 hours, after a 7.5 hr shift yesterday (substituting in Local History) and the last 5 hours tomorrow. Then on the the farm. Farmers Muffins, grilled cheese--my favorite fair time meals, and only available one week a year, at the Farm Bureau Cheese Booth.
There is nothing like sitting in a barn, surrounded by the waiting animals---chickens crowing, goats bleating, milk cows lowing and wanting a walk. Kids bleary-eyed in shorts and over-sized sweatshirts carrying buckets of feed. And enjoying it all, I'm on a bench munching a farmers muffin and sipping hot coffee.
Did I say I can hardly wait?
On other news, I am working away at the Shapely Tee and almost have bust shaping done. I am not going out all the way to my cup size, as the belly does tend to stick out as well, minimizing the difference. I also stopped by my favorite LYS--who really only sells online and to friends. I picked up a bright batch of Karaoke roving--bright rainbow colors. Will be fun to spin. I also got a batch of roving from Spunky Eclectic--I recently joined the fiber club but this a batch of hand dyed BFL, color way Venus from the Galaxy series. It is over-dyed on colored fiber and I love it. I hope to spin it soon--maybe at the fair.
As though I don't have enough fiber already. Where did I hear that recently? Oops, it was from me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Spinning Time

We had a good time at spinning guild yesterday afternoon. We ended up with a good sized crowd by the end of the time.
I have almost got a full bobbin of the peach merino I got last week. SO lofty and soft.
I am getting inspired again and am thinking about going to the Michigan Fiber Festival again. Like I need any more fiber.
Hmmmm. Well. maybe just a spindle or something.

Fair Week is Almost Here

Spent last evening setting up our historical display for the county fair. This historical committee has a display in one of the buildings and the theme this year is "Country School Days". We have some old style school desks with the seat and flip top desk on runners. A blackboard, picture of George Washington, and a pile of good old Dick and Jane books. With my new job at the library, I was able to obtain pictures of many of the old schools and class pictures. One of them is a 1895 football time at the local high school. I also have the picture of the building that looks like an old feed mill, that housed the first school on the upper floors. I fixed up a board displaying pictures and labels on both sides that I think will be a hit.
As always our building also houses some antique tractors and I think we are having someone bring in an old plow. Last year our best of show was a 100 year old manure spreader with a working wooden apron--clean and odor less but really cool.
As a result of fair week being upon us, I probably will not be online much this week. I do have to work Monday (an extra day!!) thru 2:30 Wednesday. Then I will be fair bound.
Oh--the farmers muffins and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches from the cheese booth are caling my name.!!