Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Summer Knitting, Crochet and Spinning Plans

So, I have lofty goals for this summer when it comes to my fiber related hobbies.  During July and August I planning to take part in three different social fiber groups.

The Tour de Fleece Spin-Along

I've only been spinning for a couple months and only a couple weeks on my wheel, but I want a challenge so I have an excuse to earn more (geek).  This spin-along is run in conjunction with the Tour de France, so while the cyclists are spinning their wheels, so will I.  I won't go into it too much now, but I had planned on spinning enough yarn to make myself a sweater.  It looks like that might be out since I can't find a soft enough fiber that I can afford in the large quantity I need.  Instead, I am going to just buy some neat fiber at my LYS/LSS and just try to spin every day during the tour.  Now ever that goal is pretty lofty since the tour lasts from July 3rd through the 25th with two days of rest on the 12th and 21st.  So, I'm excited even though I've had a tough time selecting my fiber.  I still have a lot to learn, so just trying out new things is probably a better goal than a sweater's worth of yarn anyway.  Oh, and I am spinning for team Sasquatch which is a team of fiber podcast listeners.  You can learn more about this spin-along by going to the Tour de Fleece group on Ravelry.

The Planet June Summer Crochet-Along

You might remember the really cute little whale I made back in May and the pretty daffodil I started but... cough cough.... didn't quite finish?   Well, the first CAL was such fun that June Gilbank is hosting another one with two more of her wonderful patterns.  I can choose between her Alpaca and African Violets and she even gives a 20% discount on the patterns to CAL participants, which is very thoughtful.  I'm going to do the alpaca this time, but since the CAL is going on for two months, I might just be able to do both.  You can learn more about this crochet-along by going to the Planet June Summer CAL thread on Ravelry.

The Appalachian Yarns Summer Mystery Wrap Knit-Along

Talitha who ran the mystery bag knit-along back in May is back again and this time she has us making a mystery wrap for the summer.  This time we are working with a very interesting yarn by Louet called Kidlin.  It is comprised of three strands of mohair, linen and nylon.  It is very neat looking, but I need really good light to take a picture of it, so I will have to do that later.  We also have the option of adding beads to our wrap.  I'm undecided at this point, although I have never added beads to my knitting, so it would definitely be interesting and informative.  Like the previous mystery knit-along, Talitha will send out the clues weekly (perhaps early if we provide enough poetic bribery) and the KAL will start on July 13th and will go for 3-4 weeks depending on how Talitha breaks up the instructions.  I can't wait!   You can learn more about this knit-along by going to the Mystery Summer Wrap thread on Ravelry.

$2.00 Worth of Endless Entertainment and other Farmer's Market Adventures

I never would have thought that picking up a little can of cat grass at the Farmer's Market at Longfellow's Wayside Inn last weekend would provide my husband and I with so much entertainment...  As you can see, Molly REALLY likes her cat grass!  Actually, she gets so into eating it that she picks the whole container up, noms for a bit and then drops it on the floor.  This of course leaves a lovely little pile of dirt for me to clean up and that's kind of hard to do when you are giggling :-)

So, I bought this cute little plant from a couple of tweens who were selling inexpensive pet treats at their little stand at the farmers market.  Their set up was so cute I had to take a picture of it (see below).  While the market was fairly small I was ok with that since I didn't have a lot of time to wander.

Here are a few pictures of the the stands I visited while I was at the market.

The Wayside Inn had a table featuring lots of homemade baked items.  I picked up some blueberry scones, a single serving apple pie (which was way more than one serving) and some corn rolls which were made with corm meal that was ground at the inn's Grist Mill just a little down the road.  The Grist Mill has been in operation since 1929 and is a beautiful place to take pictures.  People commonly get wedding photos taken there if they get married at the Martha Mary Chapel across the street.  Click here to see an online tour of historic Sudbury.  You can even print out the tour and follow it by "foot, horse, or coach." :-)

My day would not be complete with out seeing some baby alpaca. Soooo cute!  Plus they are from a very local farm called Twillingate where is the future I could arrange to purchase a whole alpaca blanket (fleece) to process and spin.  So much potential!

I got a nice handmade memo basket for my dad for father's day from the people at this stand.  I filled it up with a bunch of locally grown veggies, a sampling of the herbs from our garden and other various items I bought at the farmer's market. 

I think the best find of the day was this HUGE cherry tomato plant I got from a farmer based in Bolton.  It was only $16 which is think is a steal!  What was great was that there were already little red tomatoes all over it that were ready to be picked so we could enjoy them right away.  Since putting it out in our garden the plant has produced a bunch more, so I'm really happy.

Well, that's about it.  I would highly recommend checking out the Wayside Inn Farmer's Market if you are local.  The market is running every Saturday this summer from 10am-2:30pm through October 2nd.  I definately plan on going back every few weeks to see what is new and get some more of those delicious corn rolls. 

Since it isn't so big you may want to plan to do some other things in the area as well such walking the Tour of Historic Sudbury I mentioned above, walking the Garden in the Woods in Framingham, or rent a kayak or canoe and navigate the Concord River from the South Bridge Boat House in Concord.  There are lots of things to do in the area, so you can really make a day of the trip if you are coming from far away and do a little bit of planning.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Books on My Summer Reading List

I have waaaaay too many books!  This is mostly because I have a nasty habit of snapping up little paperbacks that tickle my fancy.  So today's 10 on Tuesday is a good way for me to understand just how many books I already own that as of yet I haven't read.  One can only hope that I will finally get through my ever-growing list of "to read" and not just continue to constantly add to it.

  1. Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs -  I've had this book ever since I started seriously knitting, but said hobby has drastically cut down on my reading time over the past year.

  2. Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon - Elizabeth wrote one of the best trilogies I have ever read, The Deed of Paksenarrion.  It is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

  3. Tapestry of Spells by Lynn Kurland - Lynn is one of my favorite romance authors.  She actually includes plot and character development in her stories unlike many others.  This book is the fourth in her 9 Kingdoms series which is more fantasy based than her medieval and renaissance with a dash of paranormal style romances that were my first love.

  4. Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind - Actually I have read about half of this book but my hobbies keep on getting in the way of my reading lately.  This book is the second in the Sword of Truth series which is another outstanding set of fantasy books.

  5. Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn - Julia is another one of my favorite romance authors.  Her stories are witty, her characters have depth and what makes her books even more memorable is that one of my good friends bought me my first book by this author.  After plowing through that read, I proceeded to snap up anything else the author had written and this past year finally caught up.  I'm just really happy that she now has a new book out that I can put on my wish list.

  6. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters - Really?  Do you need to know why I want to read this?  I didn't think so.

  7. How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron - Knitting + Romance = Win.  Enough said.

  8. Julie & Julia by Julie Powel - Have the book.  Saw the movie first.  You see my problem?

  9. Spin to Knit by Shannon Okey - A great book my mom got me when I decided to buy my wheel.  I've perused, but haven't had the chance to just sit down and read it.

  10. The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes - Ok, so I don't own this one yet, but I want to since I'm spinning a lot of wool these days. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

So.... you know that spinning wheel? She kinda distracted me for a week, among other things.

So yeah.... my wheel, she made it so I didn't really want to do anything else but spin for the past week.  Hence the distinct lack of blog posts both here and on my photo a day blog.  Sorry!  While I would really like to blame Elphie completely for my little blogging hiatus, there have been a few other contributing factors.

One of my major problems his past week it has been so hot and grossly humid out.  Heat is... not so bad, but whenever there is humidity on top of it, I become pretty useless unless air conditioned.  I just hate that sticky feeling I get in this weather and the only way I know how to deal with it is by taking a shower.  Problem: I can't constantly be taking a shower!  Once night I sat down to spin when I got home and after a few minutes of only treadling and holding the fiber in my hands, the sweat was just dripping of me.  SERIOUSLY?!?!?  I was barely moving!!!! Sigh...

Another reason for my social media sloth was that work has been fairly busy lately.  When I have a really really busy day at work, I basically want to eat dinner once I get home and then go to bed.  Sad.  For multiple evenings this week I have just decided to crawl into bed around 10:00 which is pretty darn early for me.  I usually go to bed around 11:30, but sometimes not until 12:30.  The heat and humidity have just taken all the energy out of me this week.  Hopefully things will become more tolerable this weekend and I can manage to something productive other than spin (although, that's not so bad, is it?).

Speaking of spinning... since getting Elphie last week, I have spun up a few different things.  First I tried out the MissBabs BFL in Rose Garden I talked about and showed pictures of in my last post.  Then I started spinning up a single of a very nice mixture of fawn colored alpaca and silk that my mom got for me a month or two ago.  I have about a pound of that, so it is going to take me quite a while to finish up.  I only did one bobbin's worth because I needed to test out the fiber I was hoping to use for my Tour de Fleece project.  I'll explain the Tour de Fleece in a future post.

I had ordered a 1/2 a pound of Brown Select Jacob roving from Halcyon Yarn in Bath Maine and really liked the color and feel of the wool.  It is a nice dark brown and I thought it would be a lovely color for a sweater I want to make in the fall (once it's WAY cooler!).  So, I spun up a little bit of it on Elphie to try it out and I decided it was perfect.  I was going to order a huge amount of it to ensure I had enough to make my long sleeved hooded sweater which requires 3,500 yards of yarn.  (Hmmmm, I don't do anything on a small scale do I?)  So I went to go place my order only to find out they didn't have the 5 lbs I wanted in stock and it would take 8 weeks to come in.  Sadness....  my 1/2 pound of Jacob will have to be made into something else. 

Ok, now I didn't have a plan.  I had to pick another wool!  After speaking with the very nice and very helpful fiber expert at Halcyon Yarn over the phone I decided to try out some similarly priced and more of a medium brown Shetland Moorit wool.  I just got the tiny package with my 4 ounces of Moorit yesterday and spun some up.  Not bad.  It was rougher than the Jacob, but I hadn't plied it yet.  Maybe that would help make it softer.  I ended up Navajo plying it  which is the process of making a 3 ply yarn out of one single by making a giant crochet chain out of it and then putting twist into the plied yarn in the opposite direction is was originally spun.  It's remarkably simple to do once you understand how it works.

After plying up the first little bit I spun, I decided that the yarn was too thick and I would have to spin the single finer.  So, for the past couple nights I've been working on spinning a very fine single in the hopes of it plying up into the thickness I want.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hopefully I'll have more things to tell you about soon.  Well, hopefully things other than spinning anyway :-)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Everyone, I would like to introduce you to.....Elphaba!

Elphaba is my new spinning wheel.  She is an Ashford Traditional, which is a type of wheel I've been drooling over since day 1 of my interest in spinning.  I found her through a really random connection I made at Wooley Ways in Olden Days at the Wayside Inn last month.  Today I was finally able to bring her home.  Here she is getting the royal treatment.  Not many of my possessions get a padded ride :-)  Another bit of happy news is that she is petite and therefore fits nicely in the back of the car.  She is going to be so easy to bring to knit night! **GLEE**

Here's Elphie just as she's come in the door to her new home.  She is currently residing in front of the yarn cabinet in the hope that she will study all the already finished yarn and take notes for when I ask her to spin for me like a good girl.  I'm sure she is going to give me a run for my money though.

I decided to take the plunge and see just how lame my newbie spinning would be.  Turns out.... pretty lame! :P  Actually, I would consider the bobbin of yarn I made tonight equal in quality to the first hank of spindle spun yarn I made.  So, that's not too bad.  I just am not coordinated with the whole having to draft the fiber AND treadle at the same time.  It's way worse than patting your head and rubbing your stomach....  Towards the end of of the batch fiber I spun, I could actually treadle for a few moments before having to stop or accidentally making her spin backwards.  I also figured out that I really need to sit in a good chair to spin on her and that treadling on two layers of carpet is not a sound plan.  Two good lessons learned in one evening.

This is the yarn I came up with....  in one night.  I can't believe how fast it is to spun on a wheel even with my ineptitude at keeping Elphie spinning and drafting at the same time.  I don't think I ever could have spun 4 ounces in one night on a spindle. I'm really happy with how the single turned out.  I used a braid of Blue Faced Leicester in the rose garden colorway I recently ordered from  Her stuff is so gorgeous to look at and the BFL is soooo soft!

So, needless to say, I had a really good day and I am a very happy camper.  I can't wait to be able to spend more time spinning on Elphaba.... but for now I guess sleep is a good idea.  Who made that a requirement anyway?

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's a Good Time for Gaming Music: Legend of Zelda

A homage to the Legend of Zelda theme music.  It's not every day that you get to hear this stuff played by real instruments.

Dice Bags Aplenty

Meet my newest gaming accessories!  They are made using the Deep Sea Flower Dice Bag pattern I recently  found on Ravelry.  These little bags knit up really quick, which was their appeal since I have been doing a lot of long term knitting projects lately.  I just needed something quick and satisfying to keep me on the knitting bandwagon.  The pattern calls for Noro Kureyon, which I happily already had in my stash so all I had to buy were the neat little dangly bits for the ends of the strings.  They are ceramic pendants from the Enchanted Planet line of Blue Moon Beads.  The pattern didn't call for them, but the closure for the strings was a bit fiddly for my taste, so I decided on the pendents instead.

But, "Why make dice bags?" you ask.  Most people wouldn't think I have dice... let alone many dice that would necessitate a dice bag.  (Ten points if you get that reference, but if you need to cheat to figure it out, click here)  Well to answer your question.... long, long ago (the late 90's) in a dorm far, far away (45 minutes down a local highway) I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends at Wheaton.  College was a wonderful place to get into this hobby as we had lots people available and lots of free time on the weekend to take over a common room for hours and then just trudge down to the dining hall for snacks.   It also didn't hurt that the boyfriend was into it :-)

So, I played D&D and various other rpgs off and on throughout the last two years of college and a few years after graduating until I found I just didn't have the amount of time I needed to give to the group to be a reliable player.  I decided to call it quits.  I should also mention that role playing isn't exactly one of those things that I do well.... and well... that's putting it nicely.  I'm very good at playing a character that is basically me, but that really isn't the point of tabletop and you get a mite bit predictable.  Basically I played to hang out with the guys and socialize.

So, recently one of my friends decided to start up an Eberron game, which is a setting of the newest version of D&D.  The game is slated to begin in July and one of my little traditions with tabletop gaming is that when I start a new character, I like to get some new dice.  So, when we were down at the Cape a couple weekends ago Brian and I went to the local game store, in search of miniatures to portray our characters and on the lookout for some new pretty dice for me.  I picked out the really pretty green and yellow ones in the picture above.  This color scheme is actually quite a change from my usual sparkly or swirly pinks and purples. 

The I think the last time I bought dice other than recently was back a couple years after college when I hadn't even thought of knitting as something I would be interested in.  I got my dice home a said, "Huh, I don't have a dice bag," and promptly logged on to Ravelry to find a pattern.  It's amazing how things change yet end up coming back to you isn't it?

Friday, June 11, 2010

I swear you can play anything on strings and it sounds amazing!

Seriously, this just rocks...  You have to get over a little bit of them being out of tune, but honestly it's worth that to hear this rendition.  Now if I only could have played something this cool in band!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

From One Murloc Productions: At least I got Chicken! - or how to BBQ your bird

Grrr... Brian snuck in a non-Jo-approved transition on this video.  My bad video production sense is tingling >:-[ Beware the pinwheel of death!

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Children’s Books

This is gonna be so much fun!
1) Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
2) A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein - I adored all of his wonderful poetry books!
3) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss - duh!

4) Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater - I remember loving this book when I was a kid.  Apparently I acquired my love of sci-fi at a young age :-)

5) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

6) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

7) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett - Too cool for words and now it's even an animated movie!

8) Any of the Berenstain Bears books by Stan Berenstain - They are all funny and I remember them all.

9) Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

10) The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks - I believe I read this in 5th grade for school and loved it enough to read the rest in the series.

So.... it's usually really hard for me to come up with 10 things for these posts, but favorite children's books are apparently easy for me to remember and I enjoy the trip down memory lane, so.... I'm going to keep going!

11) Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

12) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

13) Bunnicula by James Howe - Vampire bunny goodness.  Another trend that started early with me.

14) Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

15) Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Ok, I think that's it for now.  Give me enough time and I could probably list everything I read as a kid! lol

Monday, June 7, 2010

I've been a very bad blogger

Yes, real life has gotten in the way of blogging again, sigh....  That's alright, a bit of down time usually re-energizes me a bit.  And now I have some cool stuff to share and I should have more on the way shortly.

I haven't had much to show for my knitting lately as much of it is for gifts and I'm also toning the projects down a bit after trying to do way too much in May.  My spinning has been going well though.  I finished up my first ever plied yarn and I adore it.  I even have started making a couple projects with it, so once I finish those up, I'll share those as well.  The roving I used was Louet Northern Lights wool in the Cactus Flower colorway.  You can see some photos of the spindle, singles and plying process by checking out my blog posts here and here

This past weekend I tried my hand at spinning soy silk mixed with wool.  That's didn't go quite as well.  The length of the fibers is just so long I couldn't figure out how to pull them apart to spin without cutting the roving.  Once I did that, I did pretty well drafting from the fold and got some thinner singles than ever before.   Unfortunately, the fun ended there.  Once I got to the end of some of the strands they didn't just twist themselves neatly into the single, instead they stuck out in all sorts of weird directions.  I'll try to take a picture of this later.  Needless to say I put that down for a few days and have yet to pick it up again. 

Some other good news I can share is that in a little over a week I will be the proud owner of a my very own spinning wheel!  I am totally excited and can't wait to share pictures of her and name her.  Yes... she needs a name and yes... she's a girl.  Those two things I know. Her name I won't figure out until I start spinning.  My goal is to practice spinning on her and be good enough in a couple weeks to start making yarn for a hooded sweater I want to wear this fall.  It only calls for 3200 yard of yarn.  That'll be done in no time right?  **cough cough**  You can see a picture of the sweater here.  I want to make mine out of a dark natural colored wool, so I ordered a small amount of Jacob and Coopworth to try out before committing to probably 4 lbs of any one fiber.

Other than all of that, since the last time I posted we had a cookout, helped put in the sailboat in for the summer, and harvested our first strawberry from our garden.  Not too shabby for one week.  We got some nice pictures and video of putting the boat in and sailing around the harbor that I'll share later on in the week. For now I'll leave you with a shot of Brian playing cameraman with our Flip.