Sunday, November 30, 2014

What the Heck is a Thrummed Mitten?

Well let me tell you, they are wooly wonderfully warm mittens. They are made with extra wool, called thrums, that are wrapped around the stitches at regular intervals as you knit along. That provides extra fiber inside the mittens to keep fingers warm and toasty.

I haven't started knitting Lil' Farm Gal's thrummed mittens yet, bit I did spend the better part of the day rolling thrums.

Essentially rolling thrums is a two handed operation, but since I was trying to take pictures of the operation, I tried to still capture the procedure one handed. Here I had a section of wool top, about 6 to 8 inches that I peeled off a strip about a quarter inch wide or so. Wool top is wool prepared for spinning in such a way that all the fibers are pretty much parallel. You can see here that the fibers are aligned quite nicely. Roving, where the fibers are more jumbled up is my preferred preparation for spinning, but nothing beats top for thrums.

Next I may slightly pull the fibers, if the strip is too thick.

This one above is pretty good and just folded for the photo. After the length of fiber is separated and straight, I tuck in the ends as shown below I want the finished bundle about four inches long.

Then you need to roll your little bundle of wool between your palms.

You basically want to slightly felt the wool, so it will hold its shape. This one below is nicely rolled. I need both hands to roll the bundle, so I had no camera hand left over.

When knitting the body of the mitten, about every third or fourth stitch will have a thrum wrapped around the needle and pulled through your stitch with the yarn.

The little ends will float inside the mitten, providing padding and extra insulation. Eventually all the ends will mat (felt) together inside the mitten, making it extra warm. Even warm when wet, because, hey, that's the way wool rolls.

I need to get started and maybe I can finish by Christmas.

I have enough thrums to last a while I think.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Knitting Diligently

With all the baby excitement going on around here (yippee!), I have still been getting some knitting done.

Yesterday, I and Lil' Farm Gal did some non-hectic Black Friday shopping. We had already made plans for that, since it was going to be Cow Girl's last day of work. Little Farmer, however had other plans as far as that last day of work went, deciding he was ready to be born. But since Cow Girl and Little Farmer were in hospital yet, Lil' Farm Gal and I were able to continue with our plans.

We did get a lot of shopping done with a minimum of lines. Staying local and starting after 9:30 helped keep it peaceful too. She got a lot of her shopping done, and just following her around, I got shopping ideas. Useful because she also has an approaching birthday, besides Christmas. We also went to the local yarn shop so she could pick out the yarn for her thrummed mittens I promised to make.

Even with another visit to her mom and baby brother, we made it home for a few chores before Older Son arrived. When I got home, I worked on the back of the Green Flowy Cardigan. The same back that went from three inches to one inch the other day. After more time with it today, I am back past the spot I frogged from and only have about 6 rows or so before switching to stockinette stitch. Gauge looks better this time too.

After all this seed stitch, that will be a piece of cake. Simple mindless knitting for about 130 rows before starting the arm hole shaping.

I may need to intersperse some thrummed mittens to keep my sanity.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

And a Child is Born, My Little Thanksgiving Turkey

Shortly after midnight last night, Little Farmer made his appearance.  Just over two weeks early officially, but with all the threats he made to come early, I was pretty sure he would be here before December.  Cow Girl was supposed to go back to work one day yet, tomorrow.   She had to cancel, needless to say.
I posted some pictures earlier on Facebook so I will just show a few from our visit.
Little Farmer was clocked in at 12:27am today, Thanksgiving Nov 27, 2014, 6 pounds, 5.3 ounces and 18 inches long.  Hubby and I arrived just as Older Son (Daddy) and Lil' Farm Gal were leaving.  He had to take her to meet her dad for the second half of Thanksgiving.  Lil'Farm Gal was not happy to be leaving her baby brother either. 
But, with them leaving, that left Grandpa and Grammy free rein to cuddle baby.
Just the right size for snuggles. And even Grandpa got into the act.
Oops, his face is covered a bit.
There that is better.
Grammy has to work on her selfies. Darn short arms anyway.
While Cow Girl is in the hospital for a few more days, and Little Farmers works on his breathing, I will be staying with Lil' Farm Gal tomorrow.  We are going to hit up some stores locally, to avoid the big crowds.  And just probably a visit to see Little Farmer will be on the schedule as well. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Or if not steps, at least inches.
After measuring the three inches I had knit of the seed stitch bottom band, I spread out on the needle and measured.  Using my before washing gauge, I realized that I was knitting too loose.  Drat. As I knit, I thought I may be knitting too tight and was constantly telling myself, loosen up.  So I took a deep breath and......
Ribbit.  I frogged back over 2 inches.
Then I put the Green Flowy Cardigan away for a while.
But when I pick it back up, I will knit tighter, you may be sure.

Monday, November 24, 2014

And We Are Good to Go

After sketching, measuring, calculating, and designing, I think I am finally ready to take on the Green Flowy Cardigan.

This isn't a regular sweater knitting adventure. For one thing there is no pattern for me to tweak. I am using the basic outline for my gauge from the book shown above right. But I am adding wide front overlaps that will hang open. That is the "flowy" part. My rough sketches and schematic measurements for the sweater are on left.

I found a cable in another book. The chart was pretty tiny so I had to enlarge it. Actually I used some charting software to chart the knit and purl stitches. However the software didn't have the size cable icons I needed. So I printed off the basic chart and sketched in the cables myself. That is shown pictured above in the middle, with my swatching information below on a sticky note.

Then came calculating stitch counts. And that is where the rubber meets the road. Luckily I checked the gauge of my swatch before and after washing because there was quite a big difference. After washing the stitches per inch were less, but the rows per inch were more. Hmmm? Maybe that is why people (including me sometimes) think gauge lies. So I am basing my stitch and row counts on the "after washing" gauge. I'll finish the back and wash that and see if it is the right size then. Hopefully, gauge and the good Lord willing, it will be fine.

And here I am, ten rows of seed stitch so far for the back. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Waiting and Waiting

While I have nor shortages of items to knit on hand, I am anxiously waiting for my swatch to dry for the Green Flowy Cardigan.  The swatch was finished, washed, and spread out.  I am waiting for it to dry to take final measurments of the gauge.  It will probably be tomorrow before that happens.
Granted, not as long as the swatch I made for my Blue Blood Red Cardi.  But I was able to get several "before" readings of stitch gauge and row gauge.  Let's see how much it varies when it is dry.
Once that stage is reached, I can actually figure out how many stitches I need for front, back, and the overlap which is extra long and when unfastened, becomes the "flowy" part of the sweater.
I also need to draw the cables on the chart I made.  The software was able to chart the knits and purls, but the icons for the cables didn't work. I guess I will need to draw in the cables. I hope to finish that this evening. Then tomorrow, actually pattern recipe writing will begin.
I say recipe because mostly I knit by guess and by gosh.  I have guidelines to follow, but almost all my knitting, especially for me, ends up an adaptation of gauge and size.  I have to calculate the dimensions needed, and figure out the number of stitches involved.  Ann Budd's book, The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns is a great guideline for a basic sweater.  The cable, hood, and overlap are all up to me to add.
Math.  It's what's for knitters.

Oh, and after yesterday's post, I was told the yarn specifics.  The yarn used is Brown Sheep Lanaloft, in worsted weight.  The color is called Scottish Hillside.  Great name, and great yarn.  I love wool. Did you know that?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Off the Needles and Back on Again

I cast off the Green and White Jacket this afternoon. I love how it changes from this:

to this with just a couple folds. That Elizabeth Zimmermann was an amazing knitter and designer.

Of course I need to sew the shoulder seams and there are a bunch of loose ends that have to be woven in. But I am pretty happy with it.

Which leaves me with the Gray Spiral Blankie to knit, and my Blue Blood Cardigan to sew up and work the collar and front bands. And, my next project.

The former so-called commissioned project, henceforth to be known as Green Flowy Cardigan is almost ready to begin. I am not sure of the yarn as it was delivered in two one-pound cakes. But it is a medium shade of yellowish green in a single ply. I love it. It was pictured a couple days (with fat small dog for scale). I have sketched out the schematic. All I need now is the swatch, knit, washed and dried.

Swatching, of course, has commenced. I love working with wool.


Friday, November 21, 2014

It is Finally Back

Dish TV and Turner Broadcasting finally came to their senses and my movies are back. Of course I did miss the ending of one to the first movies I caught again when I had to help Hubby hook up the gravity box to the truck to go get feed.

But it is now available On Demand. Yea!

Now, if you excuse me, I will go back to my knitting and movie watching.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Starts and Finishes, Almost.

The red sweater pieces managed to dry before bedtime, thank goodness. The pieces blocked out great, with the pieces just falling into the right dimensions.

For now the pieces are folded and back in their baggy as I rush to finish the Green and White Jacket. I hope to at least cast off that this weekend. Then I will need to sort through the button bin to see if I need to get some for the jacket or if I have some that will work.

I have finished the back flap extension and started the last series of stripes. I must admit I am eager to finish this so I can get back to knitting with wool again. The acrylic tires my fingers, it's less resilient than wool.

I also spent some time working on my commissioned piece. I finally have the basic design down and have the measurements on paper. Picked the pattern/recipe I will be using as starting point, as well as the cable I will be using. I do need to type up the chart for that, so it is a more reasonable size. And I have plotted the basic modifications I will be making to the pattern. Once I have swatched and decided on needle size and gauge, I can calculate the stitch counts for cast on.

And then the new sweater adventure can begin.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Now the Waiting

The sweater pieces finally got to take their bath this morning.  They are now spread out on the blocking squares, assembled on the cutting board on my bed.  The antique cutting board, probably 35 to 40 years old, is one of those fold-up cardboard mats that back when I sewed, I would use to cut out the material.  Now it gives a firm base for the foam squares I use to pin out articles when blocking.
After pouring out the water, I had this pile of wet wooly sweater pieces in the bottom of the pan.
Oh, let me tell you about this pan.  I have seen it advertised before, as part of a blocking kit.  It included a bottle of Soak (a wool wash soap that doesn't need rinsing) with sample sized packets in assorted scents.)  I thought it might be sort of a splurge, having a dedicated soaking tub, but the great thing is the handles.  You can barely see them here, but the tub is so flexible that you can hold both handles in one hand and tip out the water.  The water will run right out, with no chance of the garment escaping.  It makes for a lot less stress on the wool, when you need to pick it up and roll it in towels to get as much water out as possible.
This pile of towels were just waiting on the mat while I let the water drain a little more.  I think I will make sure I have the dishpan sized strainers available and ready to let the water drain more than this time.  I may need to figure a way to raise them from the bottom of the tub just a bit to help drain. I am considering getting an old window frame or screen that will lay across the tub.  That may help.
But finally, they were unrolled from the towels.  (I can't believe I forgot a picture of that.  Five lumpy white sausages filled with wool.)  Unrolled and pinned into the dimensions indicated on my Custom Fit pattern, and they are drying.
Slowly drying.
I have turned on the fan, and even left the door open to better circulate the air, hoping Leo will decide he doesn't want a damp nap.  Once they are dry, I can
And now I wait.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy Blogiversary!

That's right. This silly little blog of mine has been going on for seven years today.  You can see the archives in the sidebar if you want to see just how silly they have been.  (I had a great yearly series on The Stupid Time Change.)
I started out on this adventure because so may of my knitting friends were doing blogs, mostly about their knitting.  Mine was going to be that, but more, with family and life thrown in.  That first post wasn't much, but it did mention what I was knitting and spinning.  No pictures. I had to figure out the process for that yet.  And refigure it several times in the last several years, as computers and cameras changed.
I still plod along with this, sometimes using my computer, more often the antique first generation iPad that I bought used. But I have been able to post on the fly with my phone as well.
Many of those friends no longer blog,  Other friends have started and stopped blogging in the past seven years.  Many of the blogs I followed then, I still follow with the help of Feedly after Google Reader abandoned me.  For example:  Pink Lemon Twist, and my beloved Yarn Harlot.  Both of those are mostly knitting.  I have found new ones to follow most recently is Jean's Knitting.  Though these blogs I have been able to touch the lives of people in Texas (Pink Lemon), Canada (Yarn Harlot) and even Scotland (Jean).  Until it ended, I greatly enjoyed the upside down weather via the blog of a knitter in Australia.
I know my blog is nothing spectacular, but it has been fun, challenging and a bit of a disciplinarian.  I almost made it a full month of daily posting, missing only a couple days in the past month.   I hope that you have enjoyed and perhaps continue to enjoy the journey with me.
And just because I don't want to go without a picture, here is one from March 2013.  But it is a good picture of what it looked like all day today.
Yea winter!
Here is to another seven years, perhaps a bit more family heavy, as I gain a grandson to go with my instant granddaughter Lil Farm Gal.  But I promise knitting, and life and farming as we go along.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Haven't Forgotten It

I have rather neglected posting any updates on My Blue Blood Red Cardi.

Alas, all the sections are still sitting in the bag waiting for their bath and blocking session.

What with needing to pick up Younger Son from work at 6am followed by a nap to catch up on the missing sleep, I haven't been able to get them blocked early enough to be able to use the bed by night time. The plan was, with the winter storm warning we are currently under, that Hubby would take him in tonight as well as get him in the morning. But Hubby's wipers aren't working till he takes his (4 wheel drive!) truck in on Wednesday. So I am left to do the driving until then.

Hubs doesn't know yet, but he is driving double shifts the rest of the week.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Home to Roost

A couple days ago I had lunch with my 92 year old aunt and cousins ( first cousin, first removed once, and a wee little tyke who is first removed 3 times). We do this monthly and the number of cousins vary.

Anyway my first cousin was downsizing "stuff" and brought me this crystal bowl.

She had purchased it at the auction my dad had after mom passed away. I wasn't able to get many of the items I would have liked then. This was one Mom had purchased when on vacation in Germany. Until a few years ago it had a sticker on the bottom that said German crystal.

The etching is lovely. Maybe I can hand it down someday to the next generation.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Pooped, But With Plans

These early morning trips to the next town are starting to drain me. Especially when I can't get a nap when I get home. Every time I tried, the Lizzy needed a walk. Since Hubby slept most of the day, I put him on the morning pickup. Since Younger Son only needs to work five hours tonight, he will also be taking hIm in to work at 1:00 am. Of course I will be the family alarm clock then and in morning. But tomorrow morning I can go back to bed. And sleep.

Today was a short nap day. I had an appointment to get some measurements and finalize plans for a sweater. (I swear this is my commissioned piece.) I have been in turmoil over how to make it without adequate measurements. I think I have a plan now. And measurements and yarn. As soon as the Green and White Jacket is finished, I can start the new project. Swatching can start sooner, to give me time to do the final calculations for stitch count and placement of markers. The sweater will have a couple cables and a wide overlapped front. Maybe five or six inches and no buttons so the opening can just hang open. I'm not sure what I will call it. Maybe the Cabled Flowy Sweater.

I am sure going to be tired of green by the time the new sweater is finished. The baby sweater is nearly finished and the new sweater is also green. They are both a slightly olivey green although the new sweater And besides that, I have about 9 skeins of Lamb's Pride by Brown Sheep Wool. And almost the same color as the new sweater.

I only have two one-pound skeins right now (shown here with my semi small dog), but I have up to five pounds if I need it. They are big skeins. And that is a lot of olivey green.

I may need to see if I can swap my green Lamb's Pride for a nice blue or teal. I like cool colors. And maybe Brown Sheep Nature Spun. After this sweater I may want something other than a single ply.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Good While It Lasted

What can I say besides, "Oops."

I couldn't even go a month of daily posting. I even had a blog posting planned. But I got busy and I guess life happened.

Anyway it was only going to be a quick post. I mentioned that Other Grandma had made a Case IH quilt for Little Farmer. She had to retrieve it after the baby shower to finish it up. I had a very blurry picture at that time.


But this is the picture Other Grandma posted of the quilt. As I mentioned before she had the fabric marinating in her stash for 19 years before finding the perfect project. I think she a great job.

I don't think Little Farmer will be in danger of getting cold between his one granny's quilts and his other granny's sweaters.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You Veterans

I shared this picture on Facebook a few days ago, of my dad, flanked by two of his older brothers, Don and Howard.  Dad was wounded in Sicily in 1943.  His brothers served in Europe through the end of the war. 
They were part of a family legacy of serving.  Two of my cousins served in the Marine Corps more recently.  One was in Beirut when the Marine's barracks was blown up, and assisted in the rescue of his comrades.
Continuing the legacy, my nephew served in Afghanistan
My great-great-grandfather served in the 129th Indiana Infantry during the Civil War.
 Others of the family served in World War I.  This 1st cousin (twice removed) served in France, losing his life shortly before the Armistice, late October 1918.
To all who served, all who came home, and all who gave their life.  I salute you all.  Thank you for your service.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Granny Shower!

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised.  But I was.
This past weekend, I sent out an e-mail to see if anyone was coming to Spin Guild today.  Sometimes, when life gets in the way, we may have a fairly low turnout.  As in myself and one or two other and once only me.  But it sounded like quite a few were coming this month.
And when I got there, a bit later than usual, I didn't think anything of the food and gifts on the table.  I figured that the people who worked at the Senior Center, where we meet, had had a celebration of some kind.
But after a while, they started bringing all the gifts to me. A surprise Granny shower!
We have had a few previously when one of our group was getting an eagerly awaited first grandchild.
But now that we are down to meeting only once a month, instead of weekly, I was nonetheless surprised that they had been able to plan it, let along all come.
Lots of great baby, clothes, a couple quilts.
Such good friends.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Disbelief! As NASCAR Comes to a Close

Only one more race in the NASCAR season. I cannot believe that one of the four finalists for the championship hasn't won a single race all year. Harvick, Hamlin, Lugano, and .....Newman? Really?

After last week, I am glad Jeff didn't make it, but feel sorry for Brad. So, who will I cheer for next week? I guess Lugano, then Harvick. (I never thought I would be on Harvick's side. Ever since he snatched the Daytona 500 from my man Mark Martin he has been my least favorite driver.) Just one more week though for this year.

The race came right down to the end before knowing who would advance to the final four still eligible for the championship. So to was a great race.

But really, a finalist who never won a race all year? With a new points system and chase format specifically designed to favor wins?

What a strange season this has been.

Oh, there has been knitting too. And snow.