Thursday, August 31, 2006

More spinning

Last night I started spinning the Grafton Fibers Corriedale Cross I bought at the Fiber Studio in NH. Today I was able to spend some spinning time here and there between spats and obligations. I took the bobbin out to the backyard climber and put it in the setting sun to bring out the warm purples. With the flash in a darker place, the purples vanished and it appeared too blue. I bought about 7 oz of this. Wasted a bit right at the outset, but I hope to get something like mittens and hat or scarf out of it when I'm done.

While I was out posing my bobbin, The Little Emperor was hanging out with the big koi named Black Spot. Here they are, enjoying a truly beautiful evening. The kind of evening that makes you want to take a three mile walk.

Maybe I'll do that now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I've been making time for spinning the last couple days. Today I finished up the last of the mostly-black corriedale I bought from Susan's Fiber Shop when I bought the wheel. Toward the end of the singles, I could sense that I was finally controlling the process a bit, rather than being controlled! I plied most of it. There's still a bit of extra sitting on one bobbin that I'll ply with itself. My plied skeins were a little unbalanced, but then, so am I and so is my whole family. The first one I plied today wants to twist around a bit, not too badly. But the second one has more torque. I'll try giving them a soak and hang out with light weight and see if that helps.

Meanwhile, I ordered the spinning books from the library again. In April I got a big stack and read just enough to get started. It's hard to make sense of some of it (like different ways of controlling your draft) when you feel lucky to just to make something that looks kind of like yarn. As that part gets easier, it's time for me to learn more and improve my technique.

Finally, yesterday afternoon this poor swallowtail paid a pretty long visit to our butterfly bush. I got a bunch of pictures, several quite close and crisp. Alas, something has been shredding this poor butterfly. His wings are badly damaged, but he still gets around pretty well. Gives him character!

Monday, August 28, 2006

a quick project

I've been working on the skinny scarf on #2 needles pretty much single-mindedly for the past couple of weeks. It doesn't look like I have a lot to show for that, but I'm about half-way done and I haven't given knitting a lot of time lately.

Last night, I suddenly had the urge to do something quick! And to try to knit up some of the "yarn" that I've made. This is from the yarn I was learning on, in April, made on my drop spindle. It was a challenge to even make a small hat from it because the earliest stuff was very thick, super-bulky, and the last bunch would have knit nicely on #6 or 7 needles. It was very clear where the whole spinning thing clicked for me. So, yes, this hat has many gauges going on, and yes, it's kind of funny-looking and a little too short in the crown, but I felt it was important for me to actually make something from yarn I spun. I'm hoping that a little blocking will at least take away the nipple on top. It may not be the most elegant hat I ever made, but I'll wear it with pride, because it's the first item for which I actually made the yarn, too.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Trip to Chicago

I went to Chicago today. My main mission was to meet Franklin for a little stealth project. My secondary goal was to meet Marcy, aka mittenfarce. Here they are together at Arcadia Knitting. It was a perfect day. Even the time I spent crawling in construction-related traffic was perfect. Maybe you need to be a parent to understand that part. When I get to take a long drive alone and listen uninterrupted to whatever I like on the radio, it's a good day. And meeting and hanging out with delightful knitters just tops it off. On the way down, I was reflecting on how wonderful Mr SABLE is. His wife announces one day that she's going to drive to Chicago to meet a man from the internet and take pictures of him! And he says, "OK." On the way home, I stopped at a Krispy Kreme on the interstate and bought a dozen donuts to reward my guys for being such great sports.

And now, I'm off to stare at a Sudoku puzzle for a few minutes before I fall asleep.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 24, 2006

Remember The Apple? Here it is, right after I picked it and right before I ate it. It was pretty good. Maybe next year we'll get enough for the whole family.

The two skeins of yarn we dyed the other day are fairly different from each other. I'll probably have to alternate rows from them in whatever I make.

Here's a sample from one of them. I'm not sure yet what to make of it, but I'm thinking maybe a hat. I do like hats.

We had a lot of rain in the last 24 hours, and more on the way this evening. This afternoon, during a break in the weather, I was in my basement lair putting the finishing touches on a project I need to have ready to photograph this weekend. The Little Emperor was playing with the neighbor. When I emerged from the basement to see why it was so quiet, this is what I found:

Fortunately, he had not come into the house looking for me! The neighbor girl, who is 8 and should have known better, had gone into her house to change and did not wash her feet first. Apparently, she tracked mud all over and her step-mother was not happy. I don't mind kids playing in mud, but only in a designated spot and with a clean-up plan in place first.

We did the registration stuff for the Little Emperor for kindergarten today! Yay. Tomorrow Owen and I have to go down to the middle school and get him squared away. Then I just wallow in anticipation of Sept. 5.

This month's reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. The history of everything! in less than 500 pages! Kidding aside, it is fascinating reading.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

playing with color

When we met in NH, Shelagh gave me some yarn to dye with the kids. On our first effort, we used red and blue Wiltons, made in a solution with water and poured over the yarn. The results remindedme of cotton candy. I know a lot of people would be happy with it, but it was a little too pastel for my taste. Today I went at it with all sorts of other stuff. I sprinkled grape and black cherry koolaid powder right on the yarn while it simmered in just enough water to cover it in my 12 quart pan. As it was simmering, I thought it needed a little something else, so I mixed some brown Wilton's paste in water and splashed that on here and there. When the water in pan looked clear, I turned off the stove and drained off the boiling water.
Some close ups of different sections of the yarn:

Don't worry folks, there will always be bugs here, too.

I've been trying to find a good milkweed bug for Shelagh, but having a hard time. Finally found this one hiding in the plant. Meanwhile, our older camera, which has the great built-in supermacro, is misbehaving terribly. I don't have a super macro for the new camera yet. So, my bug close-ups are limited for now.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Post About Knitting!

Occasionally I should include some actual knitting content on this so-called knitting blog, hmm? Here's a detail picture of the Yarn Botanika scarf-in-progress. The stitch couldn't be easier, but it makes a great effect with this yarn. I'm planning to add something to the ends, to jazz things up a bit. Maybe some strands with interesting beads? Is the artsy-Bohemian look out again? I hope not. That's one trend I'm always happy to see cycle around again.

While I've been working with this yarn, I've been thinking about the other kinds of projects it would serve well for. Since it's a superwash, I bet a couple of skeins in the right colorway would make adorable baby things. I can tell you, it would not cause itch on even the most hyper-sensitive of babies. The stitch pattern I'm using for the scarf would also work well with it for a swingy unstructured cardigan. I can imagine all sorts of interesting textured scarves, worked the long way with self-fringe. Of course you'd scare a few people away if you tell them to cast on 300 stitches on #2 needles, but for the stalwarts who stick with it, the effect would be great.

I've been making mental lists of various WIPs. That's Works in Progress as well as Works in Planning. As always for me, socks don't count. Anyone remember the tweedy slip-stitch sweater I started for Mr. SABLE last fall? Maybe I'll bump that back into active status. I doubt it would be a best-seller pattern (those # 3 needles!), but I know it will be a great garment. I still have high hopes of starting a complex fair isle soon. Like this fall? Again, I don't know that such a pattern would sell enough to justify the work in a pure dollars and cents accounting. But, it would make me happy and satisfy a deep itch. I need to finish machine knitting a very basic fisherman ribbed sweater for my friend Jim. This is long overdue. I will be relieved to clear it from the pipeline so I no longer need to feel guilty about neglecting it.

I would like to strengthen the Mens' offerings over at TGB. Only two garments for men! No wonder the guys grouse so much about their choices in knitting patterns. Then you read up on their wants and you understand why: no bright colors, no dull colors; not too fine a gauge, not too bulky; not plain, not complex; don't make it look like a sailor, no cables; not like a Grampa sweater, not too trendy and of the moment, and certainly nothing you might call a "Cosby sweater", etc etc. It can be any color as long as it's blue or grey. Maybe beige. But only the right beige. If any guys care to tell me what they personally would like, I'd love to work on expanding the options. But the way I read it, all the patterns most men would ever need have already been written: they just need to re-use the classics.

All in all, a busy time ahead. I just need to get these kids settled in their schools and my whole life will change. And this will once again be more of a knitting blog. It seems every time I post a close up picture of a bug, someone unsubscribes from my bloglines feed. We can't have that, now, can we?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Miscellaneous pictures

We have a volunteer plant that grew in what my guys call The Bog. All the bugs love these flowers. Last summer we noticed some little yellow beetles were having a collossal orgy on them! Some of them were stacked 4 or 5 deep in a mating frenzy. This summer, I'm seeing wasps and ants as well as the horny yellow beetles. While the wasps are busy working those flowers, they don't even notice a camera looming inches from them. If I could package and sell to humans whatever it is in that plant, it would probably solve all the big world problems. No more wars. No aggression. Just slurp the nectar and spread the pollen!

Here are my guys installing a two-part garden pond that Mr. SABLE scavenged from the curbside. They all seem to enjoy endlessly moving around big piles of earth.

The Little Emperor is hoping to be accepted at the Jedi Academy. Of course, he's a little too old and has already formed strong attachments, so has the potential to be another Anakin/Darth Vader kind of Jedi. Clouded this one's future is.

The apple. This one has a backstory that goes to my childhood.

When I was a kid my parents had an aging sick apple tree in the backyard. Every year, the apples fell to the ground and rotted before ripening. My dad would occasionally get the idea that the apples needed to be picked up. It was one of my most hated chores. Ever go to pick up an apple and have your fingers squish right in to the rotten core? Multiply that by several hundred. I spent many late summer afternoons hiding way up in trees, hoping to avoid being seen, so that my dad wouldn't suddenly decide that an idle child needed a chore. Since he was a college professor, he had summers off, mostly, and was around enough to get ideas. When I was a young teen, they had the tree taken down and I was delighted to see it go.

When we bought our house here in Madison in 1997, it had an apple tree in the yard. It, too, was sick and old and dropped all its pathetic fruit before they ripened. I just let them decompose on the ground and ran the mower over them. One day I got my neighbor Chainsaw Pete to come over with his chainsaw and take it down. Problem solved!

So, that year for Mothers' Day (a holiday I hold with great antipathy) Mr. SABLE and Owen go off shopping and come home with...
an apple tree. When they asked where they should put it, I said, "Back at the store?" but they planted it anyway, in the middle of the lawn area (creating an island that I have to mow around) about 10 feet from the stump of the previous tree.

That was probably about 5 years ago? This year, the tree made its first apple. Which Mr. SABLE says is for me. I have to admit, it looks very nice hanging there, growing and ripening. It almost seems a shame to eat it.

BTW, I just added a sidebar link to a new photo album of my butterfly pictures. It's small right now, but I hope it will grow. Scroll down a bit and look under the heading Photos.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

P is for...

Pesto (here's the basil)


August and Everything After?

I made the rounds of my regular thrift shop haunts on Saturday. It was extra fun, because I got to go alone! My ostensible mission was to find a bicycle for Owen and books for the Little Emperor. Owen's current bike is a wee bit too small. I know that in two years, he will start his serious growth spurt and I don't want to spend a lot on a new 18 speed bike. So, I hoping to find a reasonably nice one for cheap at one of the used sources. I found a couple candidates, but nothing that I felt I needed to bring home right away. I was fairly successful finding books for the Little Emperor. He's been enjoying listening to the easy "chapter books" and has recently discovered the thrill of Captain Underpants. I scored a few of those and some other titles I thought he might like. The great thing about Captain Underpants is that Owen enjoys reading them aloud to the L.E. so we enjoy a few moments of brotherly harmony.

While I was out thrifting, I also found a couple shirts for Mr. SABLE, a nice flat queen size sheet (no, we don't need them to match), a round pizza pan (about 14 cents at Diggers' Outlet), several froggable sweaters at the Salvation Army, and a few other miscellaneous goodies. Yesterday I was able to get two of the sweaters unseamed and begin making yarn out of them. It was perfect porch weather: not too hot, light breeze. I worked on a brown shetland wool sweater and a burgundy colored cabled wool one. Pictures soon.

Last night I started tinkering with the Yarn Botanika project. Read all about that on The Garter Belt Design Team Blog (link in the sidebar).

I am eagerly awaiting Sept 5, the first day of the school year. That's the "everything after" part of the post title.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Butterfly Hunting

I've been stalking this swallowtail the last few weeks, with no luck. He's too fast and hasn't settled on one flower for more than a nano-second. But today, I got him!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Meeting Marji

Today I met my internet friend Marji. Her son is living about an hour south of Madison and she's visiting him this week before Stitches starts. She made the drive up here and we had lunch at Lakeside Fibers. I got to see all her works in progress, at least the ones she had with her. It was great fun to finally meet her face to face. The time felt way too short, but Mr. SABLE had come home for an extended lunch with his offspring and he was eager to get back to work. (Our children have that effect on us.) I'm hoping she'll be up this way again before too long. Once the school year starts, I'll have all kinds of freedom to meet up for lunch all over southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What's In My Knitting Bag?

It's been a long time since I had any knitting content. Without further ado, here's what's in my knitting bag:

The Bag

The Overview

The Forgotten Vacation Knitting
I had this sock yarn packed and ready to take along. I went out the door without the knitting bag. Last night, I started a sock on two circulars from Knit Picks new collection. So far so good. I'm not sure I'll really make the switch from double-points, but figured I'd give this a try at least once.

The Emergency Project, bought at The Fiber Studio, Henniker NH

Socks have become my default easy knitting projects. Take them along, stop and start as needed: no thinking, no pattern needed. They're small, portable, and one can never own too many pairs of socks. Socks are great gifts. You don't have to be as careful to marry color, style, and size to the recipient as you do with sweaters.

Also, in the other post "N is for New Hampshire" I forgot to include the picture of this Yak down.

You cannot believe how this stuff feels. Wow!

Friday, August 04, 2006

O is for Ossie

This is one of our two cats. They are littermates, 6 years old. Ossie is a big smoochie brown tabby, the kind that pushes his head hard into your hand when you pet him.
The Garter Belt newsletter is now available! Click the link and download! (And sign up for the next one here, on TGB's Front Page.)

And a big TGB welcome to Marie Grace, Yarnslayer! We're happy to have you on board and look forward to to all your new designs!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

N Is For New Hampshire

As you all know, the SABLE clan went to New Hampshire on Friday and returned yesterday. I grew up in Henniker and still have some right to call it home. My parents are now just about "locals", having moved there in 1967. Yep, it takes that long.

Lots of photos follow.

We have a favorite place to swim. Usually no one else is there, sometimes one or two other small groups. This pond is the best kept secret in NH and I'm not about to name it on the internet.

In all these years, I had never taken the Cog Railway. Mr SABLE has a strong interest in trains and seemed to enjoy getting a close look at the mountain engines and their undercarriages. Unfortunately, the top of the mountain was deep in cloud cover, so none of the views from the way up are very interesting.

Here's my mom on top of Mt Washington. The Presidential range should be visible behind her!

The sunset from behind my parents' condo complex.

Meeting Shelagh!
Shelagh was really motivated to meet me! Because of the general crabby mood with my family and the heat, I didn't feel like I was in a position to meet her half-way, either with kids or alone. (I would have loved to meet her in Western MA without family members in tow, but that didn't seem politic.) So, Shelagh drove to Henniker. We went off to The Fiber Studio, where we lucked out and they opened the shop for us. Normally, they aren't open on Mondays. I think we made it worth it for them! Then I took Shelagh up to my parents' used bookstore, in the barn behind the house in which I grew up. I nudged her toward a Barbara Walker book that I had noticed the day before: Charted Knitting Designs, 1st ed, in a dust jacket. Hope she didn't feel too pressured! Here we are on the deck of my parents' condo.

Shelagh started the Hyde Park Pullover before her big move. I bet when fall comes and she's settled, she'll finish it fast. And it'll look great on her!

She brought some yarn for me to dye with Owen. (I didn't tell Owen yet, because he's a bit relentless.) As soon as the weather breaks, we can get to it.

Yarn and Fiber

7 oz of Corriedale-ish in blues and purples.

A couple items from the Clearance table

Superwash Merino...
and not pictured: a gift for someone. I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Coming home, I was greeted by a delightful crop of mail. My Options set from Knit Picks, a couple packs of greeting cards from my CafePress shop (they really turned out well: I'm quite pleased with their job on the reproduction.) and some yarn from Yarn Botanika.

The Garter Belt team members are working up a project in cooperation with Yarn Botanika. We each got a single skein of fingering weight merino/tencel blend in a colorway custom done for our color preferences. We'll each come up with a pattern for a one-skein project and Yarn Botanika will sell kits and patterns, as well as the patterns being available on TGB. It's gorgeous yarn and I love what Lisa made for me.

N is also for Neighbors

These are my wonderful next-door neighbors. We're so lucky to live near interesting, intelligent, nice, sympatico neighbors like these. If only they all were!