Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cobblestone Pullover

The Rambling Rows continues. I'm on square 5 of 55. Still happy with my handspun!

When we were on our trip out West this summer, I brought my fall IK. Paul saw the Cobblestone pullover and thought he would like it. It took us awhile to decide on colors and yarns.

I perused Ravelry, and checked out all the Cobblestone sweaters. We eventually picked Harrisville Highland in Bluegrass.

The yarn came this past Monday, on a cone, ready for weaving. Well, I'm not weaving it, right?! So I skeined up one cone, and washed it. Fresh off the cone, it was 12 wraps per inch. After a warm sudsy bath and some drying, it is now 9 wraps per inch. It really bloomed into a nice worsted weight.

I'll cast on November 1. Sounds like a good day to start, eh? Ah, anticipation...

Monday, October 29, 2007


We hadn't had a chance to see Ben play rugby yet this fall. He is on a club team at Luther. This past weekend was our opportunity.

It looked like it was going to be a sunny weekend, so we loaded up the camper and
headed off to Pulpit Rock campground in Decorah Friday evening after work. We came in after dark, so we weren't 100% sure of the view from our campsite, but here's the view we woke to. We walked to the bench on the other side of the trout stream for our morning coffee. While we were sipping, we watched a fellow camper catch a lovely trout and put him on the stringer for supper.

Before riding our bikes over for the noon rugby game, we did a quick geocache on Pulpit Rock. Here Girl of the House and Paul are examining the spot the micro-cache was hidden.

Rugby is a very physical game - we are still learning the rules. The game flew by. I had brought my spindle for the slow times, but never got it out.

Ben is the player in the red bandana. (His rugby name is "Pirate".) This is a "scrum" - everyone pushing and trying to get the ball.

Saturday afternoon we did two more geocaches in the area, then hunkered down by the fire. Ben joined us for supper before he was off to see a juggling show at the college.

Sunday morning it was 23 degrees when we woke. BRRRR...
Still, we went out and had our coffee on the little bench by the stream. Gotta love the hand warming properties of a ceramic mug full of coffee!

After our usual fantastic Paul-cooked breakfast, we took the dogs and went searching for more geocaches.
Decorah has fabulous trails and bike paths all around town. We did one cache at Dunning Spring. We were at Dunning Spring in late September (parents weekend). It was much quieter this weekend - we only saw a handful of people.

We hiked to Palisade Park high over the city. Total hike was 8.8 miles! Everyone did fine, GotH and puppy Chip included. We though we'd walk back through town for a snack from the grocery store. THE GROCERY STORE WAS CLOSED!! They are closed on Sundays! Wow, small town! Luckily the co-op was open, and we got yummy Kashi granola bars.

We headed home in the late afternoon. Just enough time to unload, check the mail and email, and settle in for a bottle of wine and a fire.

I did start knitting a Rambling Rows afghan for the camper with the Coopworth I have spun up. I have enough of the darkest color to get a good start.

The pattern, from Cottage Creations, calls for five colors, but I'm going to use the three I have. I debated dyeing some of the yarn, but decided I liked the natural colors quite well. I'm going to make the medium (lap robe) size.

It makes me foolishly happy to knit with my handspun!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I finished processing a whole fleece!

This evening I carded up the last 3 ounces of dark grey fleece from my Coopworth lamb fleece! This leaves me with 11 ounces to spin, then I'll have done a whole fleece, all by myself!! This is a first for me!

(whoa, enough with the exclamation points already)

Here's the last of it on my Strauch petite carder. I purchased this fleece from Carol Wagner of Hidden Valley Woolen Mill at the Shepherds Harvest festival in May 2005. I realize this is a long time, but I didn't buy the carder til fall '06, and didn't take a class on drum carding til May '07. I have been motivated to finish this since I came back from SOAR.

In other real life events, Ben was home for a short break from college. He left for school this evening. It looks like the dogs will miss him...

I know we will.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More swag I forgot!

This weekend I came across one more thing I purchased at SOAR.

A gorgeous little sampling niddy-noddy from Woodchuck Products. It immediately went into my spindle bag.

It collapses flat for easy storage.

Friday night we watched Journey to the Center of the Earth (yah, from 1959, for
sure!) for our Friday night family movie. Even an eleven year old can pick out all
the inconsistencies, but we suspended reality and just enjoyed it.

During the movie, I plied up the Karaoke fiber I had started at the SOAR Spin-in. About 44 yards per ounce, Navajo plied to maintain the color changes. A nice worsted weight, I think. What I'll do with it? I'm not so much into knitting at the moment, but it felt good to spin this up!

Sunday we took a walk through our pasture, just checking things out. Chip liked jumping through the wet grass. He says "Being off-leash is GREAT!"

We took a walk through the arb, then dropped the Girl of the House at her cousins for an afternoon of preteen communing. While she was there, we did three geocaches before it started spitting rain.

We picked her up, returned home, started a fire in the fireplace and settled in with a bottle of wine for the evening.

It was a weekend almost as good as camping...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dishwasher blues

While at SOAR, I was able to do some work on the baby Scandinavian cardigan. It was kinda interesting - during evening lectures and downtime at meals, everyone whips out their knitting or spindling. I pull out my bright blue acrylic/wool baby sweater. Definitely odd man out with all the beautiful natural, mostly handspun fibers that everyone else was working with. But I wanted to get as much of this done as I could!

I got to the steeking part by Tuesday evening lecture. Last evening, a full ten days later, it finally got to meet the sewing machine!

Before sewing.

After the sewing/cutting phase.

Now to determine just how to attach the button band. The pattern calls for knitting the band separately, and attaching. I'm considering knitting it on. I just need to figure out how I want to do the facing to cover the cut stitches, without adding too much bulk.

In other news - our dishwasher finally gave up the ghost. I put some consideration into not replacing it. I rather enjoy standing at the sink, conversing with the Girl of the House, while we wash the dishes. Paul cleans up the leftovers. While this works on evenings we don't have to dash out after dinner, there are several nights a week we leave the house immediately post-dinner. I would DREAD coming home to a sink full of dishes later in the evening.

So, we are looking to replace it. My question to you is, white or stainless front? The existing white appliances (hopefully) won't require replacing for quite a while. Do we get stainless to meet the trends? Is it a long-lasting trend or will basic white always work? Will it look weird to mix and match? Please, give me your opinion!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SOAR - Spin Off Autumn Retreat

I'm home! Today (my day off) I'm finally catching up on everything.

I left early Sunday morning, Oct 7. It took me slightly more than eleven hours to get there. I stopped to do a geocache at a wayside rest along Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful day, mid 80s and sunny. (I had to stop and buy a belt, too. It's amazing the things you forget to pack - and how you remember while you're driving!)

I had a lovely little condo at Shanty Creek, MI all to myself.
The view from my room. I was right on the ski hill. Sure, ski in/ski out when there's NO snow. Doesn't seem right...

The view of Lake Bellaire from the parking lot.

The first few days were hot and sunny, then the rain and cool came in.

The first three days I took a class with Robin Russo on fiber preparation. Here she is, demonstrating the use of English combs.

We spun short draw, long draw; fine
(including qiviut and pygora), medium, and coarse fleece ; made fine, medium, and bulky yarns from all of these. We made a really nifty demonstration book to take home.

Robin is an excellent teacher - calm, friendly, knowledgeable, and fun. We carded fleece, combed fleece, and made "designer bats" with lots of fun, yummy fibers.

There were so many fun people in my class - 14 more crazy spinners of all ages.

We had such a variety of fibers to handle. There was a table of BFL, Romney, and Coopworth. The colors were incredible!

And a whole table of angora, alpaca, silk, angelina flash.

Some of the yarns from the batts and rovings we made in the class, drying on my own personal drying rack (the shower curtain pole).

Thursday was market day - vendors galore, with anything you could possible imagine you might need or want. The day was devoted to shopping, then signing up for the retreat sessions that were to follow the next two days.

Friday and Saturday I took half day classes with Margaret Stove (the merino lace queen!), Sara Lamb (Inkle looms), and Kathryn Alexander (Entrelac knitting). Everyone had such high energy and enthusiasm for their craft - it was infectious.

I had been signed up for one more class on Saturday morning, but I played hooky. The day dawned cool and bright, so I went for a run, then did a geocache on one of the ski hills. My brain was on overload with all the my new knowledge. It felt good to do some purely physical things.

Saturday evening was the big Spin In. There was a bluegrass band, refreshments and a giant room full of spinners doing what they love. Spinners everywhere!!

I'm kicking myself - I didn't get pictures of the friends I made. Some I've met before at SOAR, some were new this year. Nina, Eve, Jenni, Nancy, Kandy, Cherie and so many more...

It's wonderful to have so many people who understand the fiber compulsion, all in one place!

Sunday morning, I headed home. It was foggy and drizzly most of the way. I stopped twice and did two more geocaches. It's a good way to stop and stretch on a long trip! One of the stops was on an overlook of the Mackinac Bridge.

(Note to self: DON'T drive 11 hours the day after your first long run in two weeks! Stiffness WILL set in - SEVERELY!)

Girl of the House and Paul were glad to see me when I finally made it home around 7 pm.

I took a slightly different route home, which took me a few extra miles. I'm usually a pretty good navigator, but I made a critical error on my "bright idea" shortcut. Let's just say that driving on gravel roads along the Michigan/Wisconsin border is not a great idea when you just WANT TO BE HOME!!!

A photo of my swag from Market day.

I tried to resist buying much prepared fiber - after my fiber prep class, I really want to try doing more myself. So, I concentrated primarily on equipment.

I got 12 oz of Carolina Homespuns fiber blend that is exclusive to SOAR, hand held Indigo Hound combs, a Kingswood diz and threader from Woodchuck products, a darning egg, a new doffer for my carder, a souvenir SOAR spindle, a new Driftwood spindle (made of Corian, yet only an ounce!), four oz of Karaoke fiber (merino/soy silk) from Mielke Farms (this is half spun up already), three 8 oz/625 yd skeins of prime alpaca yarn from Misty Mountain Farms (couldn't resist - trust me, I tried!), and two more Woolie Winder bobbins (not shown) for my Lendrum.

After jumping back in to the home routine, it's taken me a few days to catch up. Today I made the grocery run, did this update, and there's a pot of yummy smelling homemade soup on the stove. Paul came home for lunch, and it was lovely. It's good to be back...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I'm off to SOAR!!

I'm just finishing off my final preparations for getting to SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) at Shanty Creek Resort in Michigan. I'll be leaving around 4 am tomorrow morning, my truck all loaded up with all my fibery goods (and lots of clothes - it looks like the weather will be warm AND cool this week). Man, oh man, have I been looking forward to this!!

I've got a few things I'm considering putting in the gallery. I've got a couple of shawls, and a pair of socks I'm kinda proud of. The items in the gallery need to be handspun.

So, I washed and reblocked this alpaca/wool shawl I finished last year (preblog).
I'm not sure of the percentage of alpaca to wool because it was a gift from the woman who sold me my Lendrum Saxony wheel.

Here it is blocking in my basement workshop.

Rear view. (yeah, shorts on October 6 - it was 89 degrees here today!)

Front view. (Girl of the House was my photographer!)

I finished the "Robert" seamans scarf last evening. After I took the shawl off my worktable, I put this on it to block.

I have a post-it on my bathroom mirror, so I remember to go down and take it off the table before I leave in the morning.

Do you all do that? Leave yourself notes? (Or is that a product of aging?????)

It was a beautiful day. Unseasonably warm for October in Minnesota.

We had a great day. We spent the morning at the Haskell's wine sale - bought several cases of wine. We're ready for winter!

We had lunch with Paul's family, celebrating September/October birthdays and had a great time. Lots of good conversation and laughter.

When we got home, the Girl of the House went with some friends to do some geocaching. Paul & I did a some quick chores, then we settled in on the deck with a few beers.

Gotta love it when you can hang out on the deck past sunset in October...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Boxelder bug invasion

The warm weather (80 degrees right now!) has driven the boxelder bugs into a frenzy. They hang around any entry into the house.

Paul sprayed around the front door, but here's the sliding door to our deck.


It's a really lovely day, though. A treat after all the recent rain.

The Girl of the House is taking puppy classes with Chip. He was six months old yesterday. He's doing pretty well, short of a few episodes of what the trainer calls "puppy dumb". That's when he becomes a teenager and doesn't even hear when you call, much less do anything on command!

My mother was here visiting for a few days, so I didn't get too much knitting done. But the Scandinavian Cardigan continues. I'm going to try to steek it. I've never steeked an acrylic/wool mix before, only wool. With enough machine sewing, I think it will work.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Even in the rain, Lake Superior rocks look good

We went up to Temperance River State Park this past weekend.

We made a reservation three months ago, so we could get this campsite. Yes, fully THREE months ago! In Minnesota, the most popular campsites are snapped up early in the morning on the very first day they are available (90 days in advance)

Here is the view from the front of our campsite at sunrise.

Here's the view out the door of our camper.

We came in after dark, driving north-east as the just-past full moon rose over the great lake. I tried some pictures after we arrived, but didn't bring my tripod, so they are not worth showing here...

We woke early Saturday morning and saw the sunrise. Here was our morning coffee spot.

psst - Notice Paul's warm feet in hand-knit socks?

It rained off and on all weekend. We ran outdoors and walked the shoreline everytime the rain stopped.

Rocks were skipped.

Cliffs were climbed.

Even in the rain, Lake Superior rocks look good.

We played lots of cribbage and Five Crowns. Naps were taken, knitting and reading were done. It was very relaxing.

It's a fairly long drive. In fact, we spent close to 5 1/2 hours each way. On the way up, we stopped to do a geocache, and ate supper at a wayside rest. This lets the dogs be out for a nice little break, to. On the way home we stopped for two geocaches, a snack, and some dog walking time. The craziest part was when we were five miles north of Two Harbors and traffic slowed to a crawl. It took us 29 minutes to go the five miles, and as best we could tell, it was just for traffic to go through the stoplights in town!!

I knitted a bit more on the seaman's scarf.

I finished the most recent socks.

I started a baby-sized Scandinavian Cardigan by Cottage Creations with some leftover Plymouth Encore. Yup, I'm all the way to the sleeves. (Doesn't take long in a size 2, eh?)