Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Wrap-up

I finished Margaret's socks. I had actually almost finished one Tuesday while we drove Serena to Omaha, but realized, to my chagrin, that it wasn't long enough. FROG! the toe. Started again to finish it Wednesday, didn't take pictures until they were dry. I realized why I made such an error after the gusset on one sock, I reversed the pattern on one of the socks! Not intentionally, just did it. You can see it better in this picture. Darn it! Maybe Margaret can consider them left and right socks!

Here is my list of completed projects for 2006, there were several months that I wasn't able to knit due to medication problems, so my totals are down this year:
Knit Totals
Afghan 1
Helmetliners 1
Mittens (pairs) 2
Scarves 4
Shawls 3
Sweaters 4
Socks (pairs) 4
Vests 2
Facecloth 1
Soapsack 1

Spinning totals
I only started spinning again in December.
Worsted weight 200 yards bunny/cormo
DK weight 104 grams Cormo
Sport weight 108 gr alpaca/mohair
Lace weight 50 gr (to be finished in 2007)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Mermaids ON!

Kim Christmas Day, just before leaving.
Serena dressed for Christmas Eve.
Serena and Kim with their Mermaids.


We told them we had a present for them that couldn't wait. Howard and Serena came in carrying the box and whispering. The comment was heard repeatedly "He's asleep, don't wake him!" Can't you see the worry in their bodies?
Here is the box, with breathing holes.
When they realized it was "breathing!"
Further exploration and laughter.
We got them! It is a beagle, a Perfect Petzzz, that we saw in a truck stop in Omaha. It is fur covered, and has a battery run bellows, so it looks as if the "pet" is breathing. There is a faint rhythmic sound, as if he is breathing. Lots of laughter from all of us!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Yesterday we drove to Omaha, via Ames (where I had my glasses repaired) and Des Moines (Barnes and Noble! YAY!)

At the vision place, the lady said, "Here are your eyes back" and then in an aside said "and this is more true than normal!" As someone who has walked into a wall when I didn't have my glasses, I had to laugh and agree! The day I left for my cousin's funeral, one of the nose pieces fell off. Luckily, it wasn't painful to wear them without it, and I could adapt to the vision change (hey I have lineless bifocals, the viewpoint changed!)

While we were driving, Serena let me know that she had gotten her boarding pass and a seat assignment. That made it feel that she was actually going to fly out of Denver and make it for Christmas.

Then on to Barnes and Noble where we bought more books. Big surprise, I'm sure! I've not finished cataloging all of our books, but the ones in
Library Thing say we had 2,595 before yesterday's acquisitions. I still have a section of Howard's library that needs to be input. I've been MEANING TO, but you know how it is... I need to be in his office with his computer, when HE isn't using the computer.

Then on to Omaha. We checked into the motel, and settled in to read our new books while we waited. Serena let us know the flight was delayed, so we read on, occasionally checking the website for updates. The flight was delayed again and again. But finally we got the text message that they were boarding. The next time we checked the website, the plane was in the air. At 1:45 we left for the airport. Shortly after 2 AM, we were hugging our daughter. Only 3 hours late. Back to the motel and in bed by 3 AM. By shortly after 2 PM we were home.

It is so nice to have her around. I know the time is short, but we will enjoy our time with her. Tomorrow Nathan and Kim come, and our joy will be full! All our family around us for Christmas! Whee!

No photos, sorry! Hopefully when next I post.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Long Night

Last night was the longest of the year. Right now it feels dark most of the time -- the sky is grey, the sun rises late and sets early.

I lit candles last night, as a way of countering the darkness. Not an original thought, but we each bring light into our own lives as we can. Yes, Monday we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but last night started the descent into winter. At the same time, it brings us hope as the days slowly get longer again. Will we bring more light to others? How will we do it? Supporting Doctors Without Borders, Heifer Project, advocating for peace... It is all up to individuals. Without committed people, nothing can be accomplished. Each of us, in the way we can, work together in this web of life.

I wonder why the new year doesn't start on the day after solstice? It would seem more appropriate.

Signs of the time, Serena's bed was pumped up by the foot bellows (yes, dear, your parents DO love you!) and has taken up residence in my fiber room. The tubs hold my yarn stash. I'm not talking about the spinning stash! LOL

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Red Scarf # 2

Howard kindly agreed to model the second red scarf for the Red Scarf Project. I started it while I was waiting for the stripe yarn for Kim's Mermaid to come in. Then it paused while I finished Kim's Mermaid. Picked it up again and finished it. I purchased the yarn while visiting Nathan and Kim at Thanksgiving. I couldn't leave that skein of red behind in the clearance bin, and it wasn't enough to make a scarf on its own. So, I did what is necessary, and bought even MORE yarn! LOL

Simple Textured Scarf Pattern
Used all of the red (100 grams/3.5 ounces skein of worsted weight), less than 50 grams/1.75 ounces) grey.
Needle size: 9
Final size: 7" by 72" (17.75 by 182 cm)
Cast on an odd number of stitches. (I used 31 stitches.)
Row 1: (or public side row) knit
Row 2: (private side) *p1, k1* across, ending p1
Row 3: knit
Row 4: *k1, p1* across, ending k1

Main Color was knit for 26 rows, Contrast Color Color was knit for 10 rows. I used purl stitches on the public side to keep track, when I had 13 of the main color or 5 of the contrast color, I changed. Knit in pattern until long enough (72"/182 cm) and you are sick of it! Block. I found that the scarf rolled while I was knitting it, but doesn't once it is blocked. This one was also knit for the
Red Scarf Project.

Serena lives in Colorado. Yup, the same state that got NAILED by a blizzard yesterday. Her normal commute is just under an hour, it took more than 3 hours. She had to stop several times to removed ice from her window wipers so she could see. She got about 3 feet of snow (91 cm). While her road was plowed out early this morning, it took most of the day for her to be able to shovel out. The part that she had shoveled last night had blown over by morning, making it almost impossible to see where she'd shoveled. She woke up this morning to no heat. The blower went out on the furnace during the night. She had to shovel out her driveway before the repairman could come. He was delayed because HE needed to shovel his out! Thanks to a nice neighbor who stopped by to help when she was almost done, she finished before the repairman! She has a reservation to fly out tomorrow night from Denver, here's hoping she CAN!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Well, I finished my skein of alpaca/mohair. I'm not happy with it, my plying needs to be improved. But it looks gorgeous in the skein, doesn't it! LOL I did get it to sport weight range -- 16 WPI! That's the finest I've spun yet. I do want to be able to spin finer, but I'm happy with this!

This is what is on Serena's Sleeping Beauty Wheel. It is a saxony wheel, right now, as you can see, I'm using the regular flyer. I'm confused as to why there are the whorls for the bobbin and the flyer. I've been spinning like this.
Am I actually supposed to be spinning like this? No directions came with this wheel, I'm winging it!

Found out the problem with the bulky flyer -- when Howard picked up the maiden for this part and said it was really loose. So, I asked him to tighten the screws that attached to two supports for the bulky flyer. Tah-dah! It no longer falls off. Why didn't I THINK OF THAT SOONER?

Amazing what one will do to avoid cleaning the house for the kids coming home! I pulled out the air mattress for the guest room today, the electric pump for it is --- in the storage unit (you saw that coming didn't you?) There is a foot pump, do you think I can get a queen size bed pumped up by Friday? Serena gets in really late Friday night -- in Omaha. We'll spend the night there, and drive home Saturday. Somehow, arriving home at 3-4 in the morning doesn't sound like one of my smarter ideas. But, the bed will need to be ready for her. Nathan and Kim will arrive Sunday. Then this house will be REALLY full, and there is going to be lots of laughter. How many games of Phase 10 will be playing this weekend?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yarn Decision

As my swap partner wanted fine to sport weight yarn, I've decided that it isn't fair to gift her with heavier yarn. So, I'm back to spinning more. Right now I'm spinning some absolutely wonderful bittersweet chocolate colored alpaca/kid mohair that Serena gave me. She picked it up when Convergence was in Denver.

Now I know why they gave us a month! It takes THAT long to spin up several choices and decide!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mermaid #3

I forgot to take a picture of Mermaid #3 and upload it. So, here it is! Started November 26, 2006 and finished December 12, 2006. With a couple of days off because I didn't have the yarn for the stripes in the body.

Spinning Wheel Problem

I have custody of Serena's Sleeping Beauty Wheel. It has both the regular spinning head and the bulky spinner.

I am having problems with the bulky spinner. I've attached photos to try to show the problem. The two pictures below hopefully show it. You can see the flyer is only partly on the support when the spindle end is all the way in. The second picture shows that the spindle doesn't meet the support when the flyer is in position. If I try to spin with it, the spindle falls off. Any suggestions? I'm flummoxed. I tried to put a loop of yarn on the flyer to keep it in place, but that didn't work. Help!

Spinning Results

I've been spinning the last few days, and enjoying it a lot! Yesterday produced the best skein ever! Of course, I was using pencil roving, so I cheated a bit.

Here are the angora/Cormo skeins I was spinning. They are underplied, but I'm concerned that if I ply them again they will be OVERplied. A nice scarf?
This is the Cormo pencil roving I spun up yesterday. Evenly plied, for once! I'm concerned that it is heavier than my partner wanted, so am looking through the stash to see what else I can use to spin finer. wince When I sampled, the yarn looked as if it would be the proper weight. See how even it is on my wrap sample? I get 13.5 wpi. That is just above the top end of sport, and into DK. What do you thin?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Idle Thoughts

My bunny/Cormo roving was so WHITE! Why is the yarn more of a grey color? It is washing right now, I suspect I forgot to allow for the BOING factor of angora! I'll know for sure when it is dry, but it really doesn't look as if it is going to be sport weight. I guess this means I spin MORE. At least I am once again enjoying spinning. THAT is really appreciated.

Another question -- Why does my whistling teakettle only whistle occasionally? I used to have an electric teakettle, thanks to Diane and Harry Cumming. The bottom rusted out, and it went the way of all things that are no longer safe. Howard had given me a whistling teakettle. I've not figured out why, but some times the thing whistles when it is boiling, and other times it will boil away (with the whistler attachment on it) and not a sound will it emit. sigh Howard figures it is governed by some random rule that we've not learned. I've tried putting only enough water for my mug of tea, filling it more than I need ... all without finding its rule. A challenge in life? I suspect it is time to buy another electric kettle!

I guess another odd/weird fact about me. I don't drink coffee. I wish it tasted as good as it smells. But it doesn't to me. When I was growing up, my mom would give me coffee with plenty of cream and sugar to make me throw up when I was car sick. As someone who got car sick any time I was in the car for very long, I had a LOT of coffee. Somehow, I've never gotten beyond that association. Gee, I wonder why I don't like it? Oddly enough, I have a husband who loves the stuff. I'm fine with him drinking it, just don't make ME drink it!

I'm a tea drinker. As I've developed more and more food allergies, I've found that I have to be very careful with which tea I drink. Tea bags set off a migraine, but if I steep it using a tea ball (actually, I use a Tea Toby) I can drink some of the brands that I can't drink otherwise. My favorite is Yorkshire Gold, as it doesn't provoke migraines. I think that is a good reason to stick with the brand. grin

Tag, I'm It!

I've been tagged by Judy.

“THE RULES:Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

The mind boggles! Just 6? LOL

1. We/I love books. We have so many that the local library, when we lived in Eastern Colorado, would borrow our books for their patrons. We had a better science fiction/fantasy collection than any of the libraries in the area, at that time. Yes, the books were checked out to the patrons, just as any other book. The librarians didn't stamp our books, though.

2. I love to buy fabrics to make clothes, but seem to have trouble actually cutting out and sewing them. I HATE cutting out fabric!

3. I have the dubious honor of being the reason my sister had her tonsils removed -- the doctor gave my parents a discount for doing both of us at the same time, even though hers were healthy.

4. When my husband first met me he thought I was weird. I'm not sure he has ever changed his mind entirely, but he has learned to live with it.

5. I read while knitting. If it is a complicated pattern I listen to a book on tape or CD. I listen to books on tape when spinning too.

6. I share the birth date (month/day) with cousins from both sides of my family, and BOTH sides also have several more with birth dates within days of mine. Of the 10 of us in my generation on my mother's side, 4 cousins and my grandfather have a birthday between 24 - 26 January.

As for tagging, I'm going to go with:
Alison who is such a giving person;
Lianne a new knitter who is doing such a great job;
Kitman, who has recently been transplanted to the US and knits and crochets the most gorgeous stuff;
Serena maybe this way she'll finally post pictures of her birthday trip;
Joan, who has really pithy posts;
and Sande, an awesome spinner.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Last spring my good friend Dianne came for a fiber retreat. While here, she tried to teach me to spin some lovely angora-Cormo yarn she had had processed, from her own bunnies output. The stuff is lovely, but my spinning skills were sorely tried. I was pretty discouraged, and with getting ready to move, moving, then unpacking, I've not spun since she left.

Out of some wild hare (sorry, couldn't resist!) I signed up for Tricotin's "Spin Me A Treasure" swap, in which you have a month to spin up 100 grams of fiber for a victim. Last night I started spinning this luscious blend, as my victim loves natural fibers, doesn't like dyed fibers, and wants a fairly fine yarn (up to sportweight.) This seemed to be just right. After all, it is passing on the lusciousness of my Christmas gift from Dianne last year to someone else who will love it too. And there should be enough left over for me to knit up something with it and gift someone ELSE. So win/win/win!

For whatever reason, I can spin this fiber now. I don't know why -- after all, it isn't as if I've been practicing since then. But last night I started inchworming along, and today it has gotten to be a normal spin! No more inchworm! I'm delighted. Yes, there have been a few places where I've broken the yarn and had to unwind and fix, but for the most part the yarn is doing a wonderful job. I figure it is the yarn's fault not mine, as I've not done anything to improve my spinning!

Then reality set in. I was so sure my lazy kate had 2 more bobbins on it. I looked about an hour ago, and there was only 1, and it was full of adult mohair! THAT won't be nice with my soft lovely angora/Cormo! The other bobbins (I bought 3 extra with the Wooly Winder) must be in the -- storage unit. Are you tired of me saying that about missing things? I am. I wound the mohair off into a ball, freeing up that one bobbin.

Howard and I went over to the storage unit, it is a lovely day, and I was desperate. I found a bobbin right away, got almost home and realized that it isn't a Wooly Winder bobbin, but original to the wheel. Bad words. I may go back to the storage unit tomorrow.

Another option is to figure out how to use Serena's wheel, which has an Bulky Head spinner. If I spin up two bobbins on my Louet, I can then ply on that. And I don't have to dig in the storage unit. Again. sigh I suppose another option is to fill the current bobbin, wind it off in a ball, and then fill it again. I could then ply on to the second bobbin. Third option would be to fill this bobbin entirely, wind it off into a center-pull ball, and ply both ends together. Am I missing any options? Any suggestions?

By the way, Serena's wheel, which is living here until she is ready to take it home, is a Cinderella wheel, put together from a kit created in Australia or New Zealand in the 70s. A lady in Ontario Canada had it. We heard about it from friends in Toronto, drove up and bought it for Serena. This was while we lived in New York State, it would be harder to accomplish now! It has tiny bobbins, and yet has this huge plying head. ALL of her bobbins together wouldn't be enough to fill that one bobbin! I have permission, actually encouragement, to use her wheel as I wish/need.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Okay Serena

Today I sent LOTS of websites to Serena to choose which yarn she liked for her Aran. This is the woman (hey, she's grown up, hard as it is for a mother to accept! LOL) who wanted the sweater to be as exact a replica as possible, except for the original sweater was acrylic and now she wants wool. Oh, and to reshape the sleeves as they are a bit full for today's standards.

In the spirit of keeping your mom guessing, SHE CHOSE A DIFFERENT COLOR! She no longer wants teal. She wants a dark steel blue. Has the civilized world come to an end? LOL I wrote her and commented that she was going completely out of the box. This was her response: "I am. I got up this morning, and (after I got past the zombie-stumbling around-groaning-and-waving-my-arms bit) decided to go right outside the box!" What's a mother to do? After picking myself off the floor in the shock, I decided to go with the flow. She's kept me guessing this long, why stop now!

The Mermaid body is done. Now I am on the miles of i-cord edging the front. Miles, I tell you! I believe the are 350 some stitches to be engulfed by this i-cord. Um, I don't like i-cord, if you can't tell. I can't get any rhythm going, 3 stitches, pick up one from the front to be knit on the next row, bring the yarn around and knit 3 stitches again. Repeat 348 more times. Be careful when putting down the work in the middle, so you don't drop stitches or the 5" doublepoint needles. EEK!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm getting there!

Kim's Mermaid is getting there. Why is it that I sometimes seem to go slower as I finish a project? There are so many things I find to distract me! LOL Looking at the pattern, there are 25 sections in the body of the Mermaid. I have 3 sections and 4 rows more to go. I can do this! Then it is the miles of i-cord edging and I'm done!

I am seriously looking at getting new yarn for Serena's Graduation Aran remake. One of the problems I had was not catching both strands of yarn as I knit it. I had the same problem with my Mermaid, and it is frustrating. Using a single strand of the right size certainly makes a BIG difference, as I can knit without having to watch quite so closely.
So, suggestions where I can find teal wool in Aran weight that isn't going to break the bank? It has to be teal -- as I am remaking the sweater and the original was teal. SOMEONE is particular about this on the remake. I suggested different shoulders (it is a drop shoulder) and was told that she wanted it EXACTLY like the original, except for narrower sleeves and in wool instead of acrylic. Daughter dear, I love you! grin
I have spent some time online looking for the yarn, and haven't been greatly successful. Most of the Aran weight yarn I've found is merino (I don't think it will show the cables to best advantage -- not to mention the wear factor -- it will probably pill easily) or not wool.
Here are 2 pictures of the original sweater. The first picture has the newest incarnation with it --
you can see I've not gotten very far with it. The second picture has a better view of the patterning, but the color is WAY off! The first picture is closer, but still not accurate. sigh

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I'm Back!

This post is some random thoughts, not on fibery stuff.

I did NOT want to go to the funeral. There were going to be people there I didn't want to see. Just because people are family doesn't mean that they are nice people. But I went.

There were some wonderful people there that I would not have seen if I hadn't gone. That would have been too bad, as they did wonderful things for my morale!

It was so funny, though -- I don't know how many people looked at me and said, "I know who you are -- Mary Serena!" When I asked how they knew, over and over the answer was "You look just like your mother!" I am bemused by this answer, because I see my mother as she looks now, not as she looked many years ago, and I don't see much of a resemblance (sorry Mom, I know YOU do!.) Obviously there is, for so many people (who haven't seen me in YEARS to be able to make the connection. But SHEESH! (It is only in my father's extended family that I am known as Mary Serena, but there it is. If someone calls me that, I KNOW where the connection is!)

Two cousins, though, gave me the best compliments. One said he recognized me by my personality, then searched for words. Another cousin filled in with "ebullient" (which means overflowing with fervor, enthusiasm, or excitement; high-spirited), and he agreed, then said "bubbly and outgoing!" Wow! As he hadn't seen me since he was 9, and the occasion he remembers was my wedding, I am ASTOUNDED! And I cherish the compliments -- from BOTH of them!

I was also able to thank a cousin for something she had done years ago that means a lot. To her it was normal behavior, to me it was an extraordinary gift. Thanks again!

Sometimes it is best to go ahead and do things that are emotionally difficult -- there are unexpected rewards. I didn't expect anything from this trip, and was richly rewarded by the delight expressed by so many that I had made the effort to come, the compliments, and the fun we had. Not to mention some quality time with my aunt.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Suddenly Snow!

The forecast today was for clear skies. The day remained overcast, and suddenly it started snowing. The weather forecaster on the news tonight mentioned our highway as being snow covered -- suggested caution when driving. I am SO glad we don't have to be out tonight. I do plan to drive to St. Paul tomorrow for a funeral, I'm hoping the roads have cleared up by then! The prediction is that they will...

Knitting on the Mermaid stopped for yesterday, as Howard and I both wound up with the flu. I picked it up again today, it is progressing nicely. I passed the half-way point of the body today, and am on the downhill slope to the finish! YAY! I'd post pictures, but I don't know if you really want to see a progress photos when I've knit it twice before! After all, it shouldn't be all that long before you see the COMPLETED sweater!

As I'm entering the home stretch on this, I'm starting to ponder my next project. I do want to finish the scarf that has been started (that shouldn't take long) and then what do I knit next? I have the yarn from Webs for a Rogue (thank you Serena for that as a gift!) Actually, I have a LOT of yarn! One thought is to try to pick up Serena's graduation sweater replacement and see how long it takes me to finish it, as it isn't very far along. I'm trying to understand how Judy can knit an Aran in 1 - 2 weeks, do you not do anything else as you do that? What weight of yarn and size of needles do you use? I'll have to look to see what size of needles I am using -- I know that I'm using 2 strands of Brown Sheep NatureSpun Sport. As this is a replacement sweater for one I made for Serena for high school graduation, I'm making it out of a teal and re-creating the pattern that I created then. But it is of a different fiber -- last time was acrylic this time wool. Our fiber "taste" has changed -- when I made it originally my consideration was easy care for her. NOW she knows how to take care of woolens and doesn't like the feel of acrylic.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Partial Solution

Well, I broke down and put up the Christmas decorations today. We usually wait until December 4th to do it. December 3rd is Serena's birthday. Happy Birthday!

Here is the library table with 3 sets and the tree. See, we aren't nearly as badly off as I thought! We DID have the little stable that Howard made years ago for the set that Mom and Dad brought back from Mexico. THe ceramic set is missing some characters. I wonder just when they disappeared. The final little set didn't have a stable, so we're all right for that.

This is Mom's set. This is the one that has the stable missing. There isn't really ROOM for the stable in this house at the moment. Although I WOULD have found room for it. I put the 4 or 5 little sets on this bookcase as well.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday Stuff

I've written both kids to let them know I packed away the stables. I've also suggested that they bring twigs with them, so we have stables that represent each of us, some from Minnesota, some from Colorado and some from Iowa. Serena has agreed, Nathan hasn't responded. She also suggested that she could help dig in the storage unit while she is here, but we'll have to see what the weather is like. The unit is unheated, after all!

I don't consider myself to be a fast knitter. I've read about people knitting an Aran style sweater in a week. I'm not in that class at all!

I have 2 sleeves finished, the second finished yesterday afternoon, just after the final yarn (color B) showed up in the mail. Whew! A sigh of relief, as I am trying to finish this by Christmas, even though it isn't a Christmas gift. I just want to see the two sweaters ON, instead of mailing them off to MAYBE get a picture later. I am almost to the first gusset. I can do this!

I just ordered the last of the presents for my secret pal. I have some small hand-knit things, and some purchased things in there. As soon as it arrives, it is going to drop in the mail. Hopefully it will be just what she likes.

Still waiting to hear about my victim in the Spin Me A Treasure swap. The swappees were supposed to be sent out December 1. Did anyone receive theirs? I want to start on that.