Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Updates

I wonder if everyone takes as long as I do to feel at home in a new place. I suspect that on a bell curve of adaptability, I would fall toward the end of slow-to-adapt. That said, I feel like I'm getting there in our new house. I have my new lair just about set up and almost always know where to find stuff I need within an hour of starting the search. Of course, if I had less stuff, I could find things within a minute or two. I'm working on the "Less Stuff" goal, but it's slow progress.

On Saturday, Mr. SABLE and I made a quick trip out to St. Vincent's to see if there were any couches we could live with. Our couch and comfy chair from our other living room are in the family room here. The living room here has been a big empty space, with some of my equipment camped out in it, but no real comfortable place to sit. Until we sell our old house, it was out of the question that we would go buy new furniture. We found a couch we both really like, in good condition, at a good price. Suddenly, the living room feels more like home. Then I was keeping an eye on Craigslist for a small table to go in the dinette area of our kitchen. Monday evening, Owen and I went and got a nice round table and two chairs that works perfectly. $30 for the set. Those two purchases have done so much for my morale, I might actually tackle some of the random boxes stacked around in corners and such.

Even though there's been little action in the blog, I've been doing stuff to keep my hands busy. I did a fair amount of spinning this fall and a bit of weaving.

Here's a scarf I'll be giving to my mom for Decemberween/Giftmas/Festivus/what-have-you:

She only reads my blog if I send her an actual link to a post, like when I compose a rant I think she'd enjoy, so I think it's ok to post it here.

I also knit a scarf for my mother-in-law, whom I also believe does not read my blog.

This is from the book 60 Quick Knits, which features projects using Cascade 220. I used some mystery yarn I found in my stash. I believe it's a wool-dominant blend that came to me in a big thrift-shop grab bag more than 10 years ago. Mr. SABLE and I agreed the color was completely right for his mom, though I seem to get different results on the color every time I photograph it.

I also knit a blue ribbed watch cap for my mother-in-law's husband and, finally, after months of dormancy, fixed and finished a sweater I started to machine-knit for my dad in March. I just need to get some stuff packed up and taken to the post office and then brace myself for the two-week school vacation which is fast approaching!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

This and That

I've been doing a little knitting, though not much. I finished some plain green ribbed socks for me, started some purple and black socks for me, started a couple of hats, and I think there are few other things in progress right now. I don't have any new knitting pics today, though.

Last week I wove this scarf:

And a close up:

I used a hand-painted 100% merino sock yarn for the warp and a solid black 75% wool/25% nylon for the weft. I'm pleased with the resulting fabric, though I have still got a lot to learn about creating nice selvedges. In this case, I was trying so hard not to have my weaving draw in, I ended up with a lot of slop along the edges. Sooner or later I'll get that down.

Today I finally finished a shirt I started sewing several weeks ago. There's no reason that this should have taken more than two days, except that I think I was avoiding it out of fear that it would be a disappointment.

This fabric is a bit of a mystery to me. I think I bought it on a remnant heap somewhere, without any clue to fiber content. Since I know I paid next to nothing for it, it was kind of a test run for the pattern. I'm not entirely happy with the pattern and not sure I'd use it again. The front view looks ok, but the fit in the back is pretty sloppy. It's made to be a shirt-jacket and have enough ease to wear over other clothes, but even so, it's probably not the best choice for a woman with a lot of curves. It'll be a nice extra layer in transitional weather, so worth the effort of sewing it. But it's more for comfort than style.

Our cat Guy Noir had a close call with a car in mid-October. He spent nearly a week at the emergency animal hospital. He had broken his pelvis in two places, and the base of his tail. They did surgery to put a pin in his pelvis, to keep the worse of the two breaks in proper position for healing. He came home October 20, and is to be in confinement with minimal activity for 4 weeks. He has about 10 more days of confinement, then a slow re-introduction to normal activity.

That's the news here.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Proof of Activity!

Earlier this week I finished the weaving on the plaid pillows project. Now that I have it off the loom, I'm less certain about making it into throw pillows. The colors are awfully strong and I'm not sure they would fit in to many living spaces. I do like the resulting fabric: it has a nice weight and handle. I'm just not sure yet what it should ultimately become.

Some details:
Woven on my Ashford Rigid Heddle loom, with a 7.5 dent reed.
Used Tahki Cotton Classic, in blue, green, and yellow.
Finished weaving: about 20" x 68"

There are definitely a few screw ups and glitches, but it's all part of the learning process.

I stumbled on some mystery yarn in my lair the other day. It appears to be a wool/acrylic blend.

I think it's a color my mother in law would love. I'm making the Leaf Scarf by Mary Beth Temple from the book 60 Quick Knits. This is my kind of lace! Very easy to memorize and intuit and action only on the right side rows. I like the stability the garter stitch columns give the finished fabric and the way they contrast with the lace panels.

I also did a bit of spinning that defies photography. Seriously, this mini-hank must have a photographic deflector shield. It was an attempt to turn some crappy fiber into something better, but I wouldn't say it succeeded. Several years ago, my friend Fern and I bought a large lot of spinning fiber from a local spinner who needed to clear out her stash fast. There was a big batch that she told me was polypay and really only good for felting. After our move, I was looking at several large balls of purple roving from that stuff. I wondered, how bad could it be? I tried to spin some and instantly understood why she said that. It had a lot of little nups that were unsightly and frustrating. Then I wondered if I ran it through the drum carder with something else, would that help. Well, it did help, but probably not enough to be worth the trouble. I made a very wooly three-ply mini-skein from my sample bat. I'll knit a swatch out of it and decide then if it's worth pressing onward. Otherwise, I'll have a whole bunch of lavender-purple roving suitable for felting to give away.

Friday, October 01, 2010

More Words Than Pictures

So, it's been a while, eh?

I've been weaving a bit, knitting a bit, puttering in my fabric, thinking about piecing a quilt top, trying to establish a new lair in the new house.

Also, I had a small ventral incisional hernia repaired on Sept 14, which has healed up pretty well. Even relatively minor abdominal surgery can make you pretty uncomfortable for a bit. Mostly, I was tired, though. My mom came to help out for the surgery.

The very early morning of the day she left, we had a big hail storm, so since then I've been thinking about the roof, lining up the repairs, talking to the insurance company, finding out the bank's protocol for getting access to the money the insurer will be sending to pay for the roof. It turns out that on large claims, the check is made payable to both the home-owner and mortgage holder; I guess so I don't just pocket the money and not do the repairs. But it means the bank has hoops for me to jump through, too.

Also, since we still own our other house, which has generated very little interest in this very dead market, I've had a little money anxiety, too. I know how to be a tightwad, but we had gotten out of practice. And I must say, tightwaddery does not come naturally to my husband or kids.

So, we are very happy in our new house. I wouldn't say completely settled. When you have as much crap as we do, that takes a while. But getting there. The Little Guy is much happier at his new school. I think his new teacher is a much better fit for his personality than the one he had last year. Owen seems happy to live so close to his school and so many of his friends.

Owen took Driver Ed and got his learner's permit in August. That was pretty hair-raising (or greying?) at first, but he's doing pretty well at it now. He can get his actual driver's license in February when he turns 16.

Mr. SABLE succeed in obtaining a shitload of grant money for his employer, so his job security is pretty good these days. Even if this company doesn't make it (unlikely), having gotten these very large grants will look pretty impressive on his CV/resume.

So, that weaving up there... I was itching to get my loom warped with something colorful and easy. I really like the hand of the fabric I wove for my messenger bag in February. I dumped out a box of cotton yarns and picked out a few for a little attempt at plaid. These are Tahki Cotton Classic. I'm planning to make some throw pillows out of the yardage when I finish weaving it. I screwed up my intended pattern when warping, and didn't feel like backing up to fix it when I noticed the error, so now it's a design feature, as they say.

I've been knitting some socks, working on a (very dramatic) hat for Owen, spinning a bit more of the yarn in the previous post, and thinking about a project for that yarn. Also, early in the summer, sewed a plush microbe for the Little Guy, and have managed a few other small sewing projects along the way.

And now, we're into October. The school year is well under way: the kids are accepting the daily inevitability of it. Everyone's sleep is just about on a school year schedule. I've been doing little jobs for Knitcircus: photos, drawing schematics, and such. I hope to get focused on designing again, but for me, that takes a certain amount of solitude and time to let ideas percolate.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Out of Practice

Both at blogging and at spinning.

This little test hank is navajo-plied Blue Faced Leicester Top, Color Plum Toast by Frabjous Fibers. I bought it at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in Sept '09 and dug it out when I went rummaging for something fun to spin. I definitely had some issues (singles broke a few times while plying. Grrr) but on the whole I like it. I think the rest of the fiber will be fun to spin and make a luscious yarn.

Monday, August 02, 2010

New Pattern Preview Pics

Here are some preview pics of my new pattern coming out in Knitcircus #11. The issue should go live on August 4 at

Stone Henley
Men's sizes S-2X, 37-53" in 4" increments
Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort, 80% wool, 20% organic cotton

Saturday, July 31, 2010

View from the back yard...

This evening after dinner, Mr. SABLE told me that there was a hot air balloon passing over. I found my camera and snapped a quick picture. The camera gave me an error message: No Card. Back in the house and found the card.

Just in time.

In knitting news, today at Last Saturday Knitting I finished some socks I promised a fellow Raveler last spring. I hope to get those mailed in the next day or two. It was wonderful just to go to Last Saturday Knitting because last month we were so deep in the thick of things there was no way I could go. And I haven't made it to any late nights at The Sow's Ear in months, either.

Look for the new online issue of Knitcircus on Aug. 4. I have a pattern for men in there that I'm pretty pleased with. Teaser pics coming soon.

In non-knitting news, we are free of our off-site storage lockers for the first time in 5 years. It's amazing how much money we spent over that time keeping stuff. Some of the stuff was worth it, but a lot of it probably wasn't.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel?

We've been insanely busy since the middle of June. We're mostly moved to the new house, but there's all kinds of stuff to sift through at the old house. A lot of it is junk, but not all, so it makes it hard to just shovel it all into the dumpster with wild abandon. Yes, we did get a dumpster.

Word to the wise: every five years pretend that you are going to move and go through your possessions ruthlessly.

We really do seem to be in the home stretch now, but there's an awful lot of stuff still left to deal with. So expect more dead air around here for at least a couple more weeks.

Monday, June 07, 2010

4th Annual Alt Knitting Camp

In case any of you ever wanted to go to a knitting camp, but not The Knitting Camp, we still have 5 places left for this year.

Alt Knitting Camp will be held at Devil's Lake State Park, near Baraboo WI, July 12-14, 2010.

Here's a picture I took at the south beach yesterday.

Alt Knitting Camp features: No Big Fees! No Structured Classes! No Famous Knitting Personalities!

We come. We knit. We eat and drink and be merry. And make smores.

Send me a message if you want to join in the fun. Cost is $25 for the entire trip, which includes share of camping fees and all meals. Camping supplies available to borrow and/or share if necessary. No prior camping experience necessary.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pictures This Time, But Not Knitting

First year of these yellow irises our neighbor gave us in the fall. We planted them in the place where the big silver maple had been in the front yard.

While I was out taking pictures of the irises and peonies, I noticed one of the strawberries is just about ready! We're going to have a bumper crop. We'll have to make jam before we move.

A big opulent white peony with magenta trim on the petals, only in black and white.

Lambs ear

I love these siberian irises even more than the big showy ones. I hope we'll be able to find a happy spot for some in our new yard.

Monday, May 24, 2010

No photos, just words...

A brief recap of things around here:
The little guy got sick and missed a nearly a whole week of school. Then he got better and I got sick.
No one is doing much toward our goal of moving in mid-June: I guess the panic hasn't hit yet.
Actually, I'm doing stuff, but most of it is stuff like emailing the lawyer or the mortgage guy.
And I'm placing Craigslist ads for a few things, like fancy wooden trains and old bikes.

I've been knitting some. One thing I'm working on is a pair of solid dark green 2x2 ribbed socks. And I'm making another entrelac scarf out of some bulky yarn I bought from a destashing sale. I honestly tried to come up with other things that yarn could be, but it really just wanted to be entrelac. And I realized I really really need to get my butt in gear on a sweater for the autumn Knitcircus. I got yarn support for this last year. I have a good start on it, but it's been sitting for a while. Fortunately, I was able to find my notes and pick up where I left off.

The kids are sailing into the end of the school year, with all that that entails. Field trips and recorder concerts and such for the little guy; preparing for finals and completing big end-of-year assignments for the big guy. And lots of bickering.

The weather turned very hot kind of suddenly, after a mostly cold, wet spring. Wisconsin isn't a state of moderation, I guess.

Tomorrow I'll try to get some pictures together. There are lots of things blooming and sprouting in the garden.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Third Time's a Charm?

This entrelac scarf is the third go-around for this yarn. I think it's finally done. Well, I mean, I'm done with it. This is the crappy iPhone pic of it blocking on the porch on a grey rainy day.

The yarn is Rowan Tapestry, which really doesn't like to get frogged. I think I had two balls of it.

The entrelac squares were eight stitches wide.

I think I worked on US #6 needles.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who da thunk it?

I've never been interested in making knitted or crocheted toys. Never really got the appeal of amigurumi, either. Or maybe, especially.

But yesterday, the younger son and I were looking at LOLcats and there was an ad on the site that featured an amigurumi octopus. Well, they said it was a squid, but it only had four legs, so who knows what it was. My son says, "Hey, look at that cute octopus! I want one!" and I said (foolishly), "I could make one of those." He replied, "Today? Can you do it today?" Well, then I was in over my head. I searched the toy patterns on Ravelry and found this one. I had some Cascade 220 Superwash around from an aborted sweater design last year.

A few hours of tight crocheting later, it's done.

Pattern: Tiny Octopus, by Takara
Hook: size H
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in a turquoise blue
Eyes are black pony beads

Notes: Pretty simple little project for anyone who can do single crochet. Hard on your wrists to work so tightly if you're prone to carpal tunnel troubles.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dale Harriet in Multnomah

Today at Last Saturday Knitting, I gave Dale Harriet her new Multnomah shawl. Doesn't it suit her perfectly?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not a Boomerang

That thing from the last post is growing and doesn't look so much like a boomerang any more. It's a Multnomah Shawlette, with one modification. I'm making more repeats of the feather and fan part than the pattern specifies, to make it more like a shawl and less like a scarf.

I can't decide how hard to block this once I get it off the needles. I'm thinking not as vigorously as I would block lace that's all based on stockinette stitch.

This is a quick and fun little knit. I'm embarrassed to admit that I did need to restart the feather and fan section after I was about 4 repeats in. The second time through, my hands and brain were working together and I became able to do it on autopilot.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Updates

I finished these socks last night, though I still need to darn in ends and give them a little wash. It's a simple twisted rib stitch on the leg and top of foot. I think there are patterns out there for the same thing, though I didn't use one. The yarn is Turtle Feet by Turtle Cove Farm. I really enjoyed working with it. Nice saturated color and a pleasingly dense fabric on US #1 needles.

This morning I cast on for this thing. No, it's not a boomerang. I think I'll be giving it away when I finish it, as I know a person who it will suit perfectly. Stay tuned.

Out in the yard, lots of stuff is in bloom!

I want to know why "pansy" was an old-time insult for a man who was considered weak. These pansies apparently overwintered in Wisconsin! These are tough flowers! They might be the toughest annuals around. Don't be messin' with pansies.

All we can think of is that we had an early and thick snow cover that stayed there all winter, thus protecting them from a deep freeze. Our soil seems to have warmed up much earlier this year than it has in many previous years, so I think it never froze as deep or hard as it would in a typical winter, even though our temperatures were fairly typical.

Mr. SABLE is off in Phoenix this week. The boys and I are doing ok so far, but it's only been one day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Evidence of Knitting

A Sweater For My Dad

I'm most of the way done with this Grandpa Sweater for my dad. I'm machine knitting it on my LK-150. Jo Sharp DK Classic in color Muscat, which is a very dark purple-ish. I picked up stitches around the armscye to work down to the cuff with short row shaping. Unfortunately, I think I did too many short rows and it creates a bit of a puff sleeve, which isn't a good look for a 74 year old man. Hmm. His birthday is today. I kind of wanted to have this done to send along with Owen when he flies out there tomorrow, but if I redo it, I'll need at least three more days. Well, crap.

A Sock

I frogged the sock I started from this yarn and am doing this one instead. I had been doing another pair of my Making Waves socks and it was turning out pretty well. But I screwed up a bit at knitting group and when I tried to undo a few rows, the twisted stitches refused to cooperate. That was at the February Last Saturday Knitting. This new sock is just a simple twisted stitch rib. I'm pleased so far.

In Other News
The SABLE clan is preparing to move to a bigger house in Madison. There's a lot to do and will be a fair amount of waiting and stressing before it all comes together. If posts get even thinner on the ground than they have been, that's why!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

All the News

I guess my blog posts are kind of thin on the ground these days, eh?

I have been knitting. I'll try to get some pictures in a bit. I'm making a machine knit sweater for my dad, some socks, some handwarmers, a men's sweater for a future Knitcircus... I think that's all the current projects.

But the big news is, we have made and had accepted an offer on a house and plan to move in June. When I look around at all the stuff we own and all the chaos, I can't quite imagine how we're going to pull this off. But we will. The house is very convenient to all kinds of stuff: all the schools, Mister SABLE's work, many shopping options, and most of Owen's friends. It's generously-sized and will give us a bit of breathing room. We'll have a real family room!

Spring has come to Madison this last week or so. Of course, we'll have a brief return to winter this weekend, but still, I'm encouraged that the snow pack we had since December pretty much vanished in last week's warm rain/fog misery. And we've had abundant sunshine and warm days so far this week, so the mud is drying out.

In early December, right before the first big blizzard that kicked off the winter, the little guy had lost an iPod in the yard. We looked for it that night, but in the dark without a real clue as to where it might be, it was hopeless. We weren't even positive it was lost in our yard, but retracing our steps of that night did no good. Then the snow came and we assumed that even if we found it, it would be toast. When the snow pack was mostly melted, he went out looking for it in the yard. He was about to give it up as hopeless, but glanced over toward our neighbor's fence line and saw something orange. BINGO. We dried it out overnight in a baggie of dry rice. Plugged it in to charge the next day and it works just fine.

Now I must start the phone calls and other details. Phone the mortgage guy. Phone the storage place. Phone a house inspector. And begin the purge. I might even do some yarn give-aways: we'll see.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Finished Bag!

Today's mail brought a little padded mailer in record time. It contained the hardware I needed to finish this bag.

The elusive hardware:

It to doesn't look like much, but it was easier and faster to order these things online than to find them locally. I highly recommend Strapworks for all your webbing and hardware needs like this. Awesome fast service, reasonable rates, reasonable shipping rates! They are going to be my go-to-first place from here on out.

What I needed and couldn't find locally: rectangular loops. Yeah. Something that basic. Also, while I was at it, I bought some metal slides because I thought they would look better and last longer than the plastic ones I found at Hancock Fabrics.

Interior view before finishing

The bag is a bit smaller than I first envisioned it. I didn't figure on the weaving drawing in quite as much as it did. I did learn a thing or two about how not to handle the lining, but that's ok. It worked out. There are some sloppy sections inside, but the public side is fine. All in all, I'm quite pleased with this project and it was nice to weave something other than a scarf.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Actual Knitting Content!

I've been knitting a bit! I'm making another pair of my Making Waves socks using this wonderful yarn I bought at YarnCon in the fall.

It's Turtle Cove Farm's Turtle Feet; colorway Standing on the Shore.

This yarn is really wonderful to knit with and the colors are so deep and enchanting, I feel like I'm snorkeling on a coral reef, not standing on the shore.

I also decided to take out an earlier effort to make the best of this Rowan Tapestry.

First it was a simple garter stitch scarf, knit the long way. Then, it started to become an oversize entrelac. Now, I've decided on just a normal-scaled entrelac pattern and I hope to never frog it again. This yarn really likes to stick to itself, so it's a bad candidate for frogging.

And there's been some weaving.

This is a piece of cotton cloth from which I'm going to sew a messenger bag. I had a cone of 8/8 cotton (knits at worsted weight) hanging around a while. The black stripes are Tahki Cotton Classic. I'm still thinking through all the details of the bag construction, so stay tuned for that.

Have you all noticed (well, Northern Hemisphere Dwellers, that is) that the days are getting longer? I'm eager for spring this year, even though there might be a lot of upheaval for us. We're hoping to buy a bigger house, still staying in the Madison area. We've been in this house for 13 years, which is longer than I have lived in any one place in my whole life. I'll add that I am not the only one in the family with pack-rat tendencies, and you can imagine what we're up against. Getting a loan? Piece of cake. Packing and moving? That's another thing altogether.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Spin Spun, Almost Done

A non-spinner would probably be unimpressed with this photo. A little pile of natural brown yarn? Big deal.

Well, yeah. It's about 420 grams of fingering weight 3-ply yarn that I've been spinning on and off over the course of nearly 2 years. Is that nuts or what? Of course, I've done a lot of other stuff along the way.

Right now I'm trying to decide if I should keep going on this and get a whole sweater's worth done, or if I should use it with a natural white fingering weight factory-spun yarn and make a nice Faroese-style stranded design.

Here's the obligatory coin shot. Hmm. I'm leaning toward a nice two-color stranded design because it would be fun to spin some of the other fibers that have been building up in the last two years.

In Other News
I've resigned from my position at Knitcircus. It's been an incredible learning experience for me and lots of fun along the way. My family is hoping to move to a bigger house this spring/summer (the grant-gods, willing) and we have a lot of work to do to make that happen; like, 2 full time job's worth of cleaning, sorting, purging, and packing for at least several months. And I think my kids need some more of my attention than they've been getting. The younger son has had behavioral issues at school and at home that I can't continue to gloss over. I'll still be helping out with Knitcircus here and there: maybe doing some of the photos, definitely designing an occasional pattern. Stay tuned!