Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paying attention

This is just a quick post (I think - who knows what'll happen once I start typing).  It's that time of year when things can start to feel sort of frayed and scattered.  And of course, what I'm feeling is nothing compared to what the people of Boston have been going through, or those in West (Texas).  Last week was a terrible week for so many people.  I spent a lot of last week having (as one might imagine) a lot of reactions to what felt like a deluge of around-the-clock bad news; I wasn't sure what to say about it, but it turns out I don't have to, because Erica wrote a post that really says everything I could have wanted to say, except more clearly.

I was feeling pretty frayed and scattered even before that, and I've been working pretty consistently on reminding myself to be here and now, not all the other places that my mind wants to go.  For me, the best way to remember that is to get my feet onto dirt.  So I've been trying to get myself (and Tilly - honestly, there is no better companion when seeking mindfulness than a dog; dogs definitely know how to stay in the moment) onto the trail at least a couple of times each week.  And my trails have certainly offered me a lot to pay attention to!  The weather has been a bit crazed.  Lots and lots of fog for a long time.
Is it just me, or does that look like Britain?  That's one of my favorite places to hike.  The other has been equally foggy - one morning it was so dense I couldn't see around the corner.  But I did get one moment of clearing.
It closed in again right away. 

The hillsides have shifted from purples and greens to reds.  The monkey flowers are out in full force.
And I've even found some Indian paintbrush (at least, I think that's what it is?  Willow?  Can you confirm?) in a drainage on the west side of the hill.
The sage will be out soon, bringing purple back to the color spectrum.  And I know that the blue-eyed grass is out, except not when I'm on the trail - at that time of the morning (and in the fog instead of sun), the flowers are shut up tight.

Knitting continues.  The sweater has grown large and unwieldy enough to make bad meeting knitting.  I thought I'd finished the hood, but when I tried it on, it was too small, so I picked out the kitchener stitching in the top and am adding some length.  I'm worried about the sleeves, as well, as they seem short to me (even though they're the same length as the body to the armscyes), but I'm going to finish up the zipper bands and icord trim and see how it fits with that added width in the body.  If that doesn't straighten out the fit of the sleeves, I'll snip out a stitch and add some length before grafting the cuffs back on (and thanks to Erica for that suggestion!).
It's gotten so big that I finally treated myself to a basket from the farmer's market (I've long been thinking about getting one for exactly this sort of large colorwork project that requires lots of balls of yarn to be carried around with the knitting at all times) so that I could have everything in one place.

See?  Perfect!

But, as I said, it does mean that this no longer makes good meeting knitting.  So I cast on for a pair of Lady Treymour socks (from Clara Parkes' Knitters Book of Socks).  Pictures of those next time, but I have to admit that the charm of knitting socks again (which I haven't done for some time) means that I haven't just been saving them for meetings - I need to start focusing on this sweater again if I want to finish it before I run out of fog.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Easter bunny wears fur?

So, true story.  Friday night is pizza and movie night around here.  I was sitting on the couch, watching a movie with Rick and the girls, when I thought I dropped something.  I reached under the couch to see if I had, and came up with...an egg.  Which I found rather surprising, since we were in the den, and the chickens, so far as I know, do not come into the house to lay eggs.  I chalked it up to general weirdness and went on watching.  (Upon re-reading this prior to hitting publish, it occurs to me to wonder what that says about the general state of weirdness in our household.) 

The next morning, Rick came into the living room, holding up another egg.  He'd found it at the foot of the bed, on the floor.

I should be clear here - I'm talking about raw eggs.  Not hard-boiled eggs, not Easter eggs, not chocolate eggs (alas).  Chicken eggs, of the sort our chickens lay.

Fifteen minutes after Rick had announced his discovery, I heard dog paws clickety-clacketying down the hall, and then heard a rather hollow-sounding plonk at my side.  I looked down to see (you guessed it): an egg.  And a very pleased-looking Mathilda.  Who apparently is under the mistaken impression that she is the Easter bunny.

We haven't had any more special deliveries since then (although, given the under-the-couch egg, I am wondering where and in what state I will find other such "gifts" that I haven't noticed yet).  Our best guess is that some of the chickens have stopped laying in the coop (for a while, some of them were very attached to a nest on the side of the house, but then they all figured it out) because one of the chickens has gone broody, and persists in sitting in the nesting box all day, if allowed, making cranky noises at anyone who comes to bother her.  I'm guessing that the other hens find it easier to just lay elsewhere, and Tilly wanted to make sure that we weren't missing anything.  Never a dull moment around here!

In fiber-related news, I finished my first "real" weaving project.  Realizing that I don't wear long rectangular scarves, generally, I knew that I'd need to think of something else to focus my weaving attention on.  So I decided to try napkins. 
For a first-time experiment, they didn't turn out badly.  They are narrower than I'd hoped, as I warped the loom to an 90-inch warp (hoping to weave four 20-inch napkins that were 10 inches wide), using my new 10-dent heddle and a very nice linen warp (FibraNatura Flax).  Alas, the 250 meters that I had wasn't enough, so I ended up about an inch and a half shy of the width I'd wanted.

The weft yarn is Plymouth Grass (a 65% cotton/35% hemp yarn).  I tried a couple of new things on this project, for fun.  I hemstitched each end of the napkins as I came to them (a 2x2 hemstitch).
You can kind of see it there.  Now, I am not fond of fringes in my linens, so I trimmed two of the napkins off very close to the hemstitch (still need to do a bit more neatening up), and left two a bit longer, to see how they wear.  Any weavers out there want to tell me the best way to finish edges so that they look neat and have no fringe at all?

In the main part of each napkin, I started with leno (alternating 2x2)(you can see it more closely below), and then played around with weft floats using a pick-up stick for the rest of each napkin.
I finished them by washing and drying them.  They turned out, as I said, smaller than I'd wanted, but very absorbent and soft and cushy.  So I consider them to be a reasonable success for a first time out.

I immediately trucked off to my LYS to get more yarn for more napkins.  This time I ended up with a linen warp (Habu, L25/3 linen, 331 meters)(this is a finer-weight yarn than the FibraNatura, so we'll see how that works), and a blended warp (Plymouth Linen Concerto 48% rayon/42% linen/10% cotton; this is the yarn I used for the weft of the scarf that was my first project).
What you see there is the loom, dressed after two attempts.  The first time, thinking I'd have enough warp yarn for a longer warp, I went for it, only to find, about an inch and a half shy of my total 10-inch width, that I was out of warp yarn.  So I unwarped the loom, which, it turns out, was not as easy as I'd hoped.  I persevered, however, and rewarped it somewhat shorter, but all the way from one side to the other (hooray!).  I finished the warping and tying on this morning, so this is ready to go.

At the same time, I can't help but think of bigger projects, not to mention stash-busting projects (and more on me and my stash and our recent adventures in the next post).  I think that I want to weave the girls some blankets.  They will, of course, have to be woven in strips, but once I got the idea in my head, it wouldn't go away.  And then I remembered a skein of sock yarn that I got when I was in the Rockin' Sock Club a few years ago - a skein that is not at all my sort of colorway, but that Younger Daughter immediately laid claim to.  It's been waiting for the right time to get out of stash and into a project for her.
Talk about Easter egg colors!  Of course, that's not going to be enough for a blanket, but I also remembered four ounces of gorgeous Falkland fiber, hand-dyed by Erica, that I bought because the braid made me think of Younger Daughter (I now realize why).
Well, surely something can be done with that combination?  I'm thinking of using handspun yarn from that braid as the weft in the middle parts of the blanket, and the sock yarn for the weft at the edges.  But that leaves the warp.  Well, how about that yarn I bought to take the kilt hose class at Sock Summit, but which I haven't used?
Yup.  I think we've got something there.  I spent some time today thinking about maths.
Which rather made my head hurt.  I think I'll have enough of the two weft yarns, but will probably order one more skein of that sock yarn for the warp.  I have time, as I need to spin the Falkland up.  You can see there my sketch of my plan.  This'll be a twin bed size, so about 76" by 48".  I'm thinking three strips of a textured weave in the middle, and then four strips, arranged log cabin style, around the edges, woven in a colorwork pattern.  I have time to work out which while I get through my current napkin project and the kitchen towel project (planned to be a colorwork one) after that.  Once those are done, I think I'll be ready to tackle something bigger.

Meanwhile, I am plugging away at the Northmavine Hoody.  Whilst watching Paris-Roubaix this morning, I finished the second sleeve and got it onto the needle with the body stitches and the first sleeve, and am now working on the raglan decreases.  Little by little.  I keep reminding myself that this is not a project for the faint-of-heart.  Not only does it have lots of finishing details still to come (knitting ribbed bands along the fronts and then picking up and knitting an i-cord bind off all the way around the fronts, hood, and bottom of the sweater, then installing a zipper and knitting pockets), but the number of ends to be woven in are astronomical (four ends per every eight rows; I am not kidding).  I have been taking time at regular intervals to weave ends in so that they're not all waiting for me.  In fact, I believe that the second sleeve and its ends are calling me even as I type. 
So there's the question.  Do I weave?  Get that spinning started?  Weave in ends?  Fold laundry?

Well.  I think we know the answer to that last one.