Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Not the First! WOOHOO!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I'm NOT the first in my high school friend group to become a grandparent!  In fact, my children remain un-reproduced.  My friend Heather just found out her oldest daughter is pregnant.  Great time to brush up her knitting skills so she can make stuff for grandbaby to come home from the hospital in!  I'm pouncing on that one quick, and will have updates with pictures from our knitting lesson.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I've been knitting!  I made a Nessie toy & several wash clothes out of the rest of the cotton yarn.  This is made for a friend's 1st baby whom they named Nettie.  (I haven't gotten the gift to them yet, but it's finished & in the bag waiting for me to do so now that I'm back in town.)

This is the hooded cape I made for baby Regan.  It's actually finished now, but this is one of my favorite pictures of it.  The beads really do look luminescent like that all the time, it's not just a trick of the lighting.  I've got to do some finishing touches on it, so my sister will still be surprised when she gets it - but the knitting & beading portions are over now.

 I finished this beautiful pink scarf for my friend Jill in Michigan.  It's beaded with beautiful silver-lined clear beads and she loves it.  This is her favorite color.  You should see her beautiful flower gardens, so many lovely pinks that you just can't help but be happy!  Unfortunately, we didn't remember to get any pictures of HER with the scarf while we were up there, but I will do so the next time we go up.

I am making a beautiful Estonian Lace scarf for myself out of some lovely alpaca that was in my stash for a sweater.  This scarf is flying off my needles at a reckless speed!  I have to knit it fast, because people keep trying to steal the yarn.  It is really soft and fuzzy, like knitting with a baby bunny.  I can't wait until this scarf is done, it's gonna be so warm and comforting around my neck.  I expect to be snuggly-warm all winter because of this baby!

My darling just went to Las Vegas for his yearly work pilgrimage.  Generally he brings me back souvenirs like shirts, key chains, pretty sparkly Vegas-themed items.  This year he must have had a really good time (and was REALLY bad!!!) because he brought me back this gorgeous necklace.  I haven't really had it off since he gave it to me.

Also, we are finally getting the downstairs room finished after all the flood damage.  This is Kieffer, who was helping out the crew by rolling something on the concrete floor.  Please note the new ceiling pattern!  You can't really tell what it is in this picture, but that's kinda the point.  It's a fan pattern texture... but the important thing is that it's NOT POPCORN!  The person who originally finished my downstairs room thought popcorn was a great ceiling texture.  They also thought 70's era fake wood paneling was great too.  Thank goodness for the flood that made us have to get rid of that crap because the NEW room is going to be spectacular!

Right now, my crew is downstairs putting the finishing touches on the new flooring, and the trim around the doors.  I will be getting pictures as soon as it's finished.  It's SO BEAUTIFUL!

Friday, May 13, 2011

I've Had The "Itis"

That's what I've heard it called anyway. Pure, unadulterated laziness. I haven't read, I haven't knitted, I haven't done housework, and I'm completely unrepentant!

What I -have- done is a LOT of automotive work. I purchased a new (used) truck with the entirety of my insurance claim $ from the Explorer's wreck. Yeah, as you can imagine that didn't leave me a lot to work with. What I didn't want was another payment for a while. I got a old truck, I'm happy with it, but I've been doing a lot of work on it & our other vehicles

In between working a lot of hours, and automotive work, I've been staring at my yarn stash & attempting to knit. Nothing feels good, feels RIGHT with anything I've tried. My yarns are beautiful but the patterns aren't clicking together with them. I stare at Ravelry at least once a day, trying to figure out what I need to knit next & getting more and more frustrated. Damn this Knitter's Block!

In a happy twist of fate, today I saw a picture of someone's completed project and I knew (suspected?) it would be perfect for my Malabrigo sock yarn that's been sitting around since last Fall waiting for me to use it. I took the yarn & pattern to work with me today, knowing that I would never have a chance to get to it... but my Friday-the-13th luck was phenomenal and the phones went dead for hours at the beginning of my shift! I piddled around with the CO. It felt good. I knitted the first few rows of pattern & it felt good. I realized I'd messed up & both sides are supposed to be patterned & ripped back 4 rows & restarted and it STILL felt good! That's when I knew I was on the right track. That's also when I knew it'd been too long since I've knitted anything if something that simple escaped me right off the bat.

I'm not going to share pictures now. I'm going to make you wait for it. But within the next couple of days I'm going to give you a peek at everything; new truck, new knitting project, and everything in between.

By the way, I miss y'all! I've been holed-up doing my own thing for a while now. I think it may be time to socialize again before too long.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Garden Update of 2011

I decided over this past Winter to not do a vegetable garden this year. Instead, I wanted to focus on my flowers. I've purchased & planted a few pretty perennials and on occasion a house plant that's caught my fancy. Somehow those few sporadic flowers I've planted outside have not only survived but thrived, and my yard is... pretty!

Of course I still have no idea what I'm doing. There's no master plan, no great schematic for the whole yard that I'm devoting all my creative energy into creating. It's more an eclectic hodgepodge of things that I haven't been able to walk past at the store. I get them home, and sit the pots here and there in the yard trying to envision how the plant will look when it's mature then I change my mind and move them around again then it gets dark and I leave them until the next day or week until I finally decide on a spot that'll "work". Who knows what it'll develop into. Maybe something beautiful, or maybe something that looks like a clown's makeup box got drunk and exploded in my front yard.

Above is my "Red Headed Irishman" cactus that I got from Lowes. It had a gaudy strawflower stuck to its top with an epic gob of hot glue. I brought it home & used tweezers and foul language to rip all traces of the hot glue & fake flower (and numerous patches of thorns) off it. I set it in a dish on my back patio table to let it recover outside. It started blooming immediately and hasn't stopped in over a month! Each of those pretty fuchsia flowers will last about 48 hours before it dries up & another opens up near it. I've never known a cactus to bloom so long or so profusely before. I can only assume it's grateful for the removal of the strawflower.

Above is that $2 Knockout Rose I got from Home Depot. It had fallen off the raised display, the pot had cracked, and it was wilted and nearly completely dead. I brought it home and managed to get it immediately into the ground. It started blooming right away and bloomed until Winter froze off every one of its buds & leaves.

This Spring it was the very first of my plants to leaf-out and I swear it had buds & blossoms on it before it was even fully leafed! It has some savage thorns on it. This is not the plant you want to stumble into barefoot. It's also so covered in blooms right now that you can barely see the leaves at all. It's competing with my azaleas for wow-factor. Actually, the azaleas are already done blooming and from all appearances the Knockout is just getting geared-up. This is a picture from earlier this Spring.

This is the first yellow rose of the year. I didn't think this girl would make it. She was so small last year when I got her into the ground and I didn't think she'd had a chance to get her roots really dug in and happy before the frost hit. It's my Julia Child rose, and not only is it stunningly beautiful but it smells like a dream. I hope this one gets big & bushy, because it's so small now and I'm really having trouble getting down in the yard low enough to whuffle it on a regular basis.

All the Daffodils I transplanted last year over onto the sunnier side of the walkway & out from under the bushes. This was early Spring and they got a LOT larger and there were a bunch of blooms. Again, I was surprised because they really didn't get an optimum planting there. The soil was terrible. I dug down as far as I could, put a little new soil in there around the bulbs and covered with a little more soil & a thick layer of mulch. I didn't think they got planted deep enough, but apparently they were just fine & liked their new sunny spot a lot. I should have gotten a good picture when they were in full bloom but missed my opportunity. I'm sure next year will be even more spectacular.

Does anyone remember my mystery-flower? My Mom gave it to me last Spring, it had pretty strawberry-shaped leaves (we originally thought the little plant might be some kind of strawberry, that's how similar they were). My Mom planted hers in a bright sunny location and hers bloomed that first year but mine didn't get enough light and while they grew just fine they didn't bloom.

I transplanted them in early Fall into a new planter in the front yard where they will get a lot more direct sunlight and even more bright indirect light through the gentle shade of the little Dogwood tree behind it. It worked. Not only did they survive the transplant, they are now in bloom. Plus, I was going into a grocery store the other day & walked right past a plant with similar flowers / leaves. Turns out this plant above with the pretty coral pink flowers is a type of Geum!

I called my Mum right away. We've been searching for the particular exact type this is but no luck and really I think it's enough that we figured out just what it is.

There's much more waiting to bloom. I can't wait to show you everything as it emerges! And boy, am I glad to have my computer back too.

Hope everyone has come thru the storms ok. Chris, did your garden make it thru the near-frost we had last night? I got up early but didn't see any actual frost & none of my more sensitive flowers seem impacted. There's a LOT more to show of my yard soon. And this will be the third time I've had to mow already this year.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Barefoot Day of the Year! (re-released with pictures)

PJ & I had a day off together yesterday. We ran some errands in the morning & then we raced off on a spur-of-the-moment geocaching adventure in a local Old Hickory park. We found a beaver-ravaged tree by the lake!

I was not so brilliant; I forgot to put on "real" shoes. I actually had forgotten I was wearing my high-heeled converse sneakers until I was trudging around in the underbrush looking for a tiny hiden prize.

I made it through that first (unsuccessful) search but my feet were killing me! I gave in to my need for comfort & took my shoes & socks off... and mmm, the grass was so soft and cool and the moss was thick and spongy under my abused feet. This time of year, the grass is at its softest best.

We searched for 6 caches and found four, including our first micro. Woohoo! I am really psyched about it. Plus, we got to see guys from the AMA flying their jewel-toned model airplanes in a field reserved just for them. Those guys were flying tricks and their planes were like huge yellow and red dragonflies.

Oh, and we found a precious baby turtle. We bothered him just long enough for some pictures then put him back where we found him. He promptly disappeared as soon as our backs were turned. We also found a huge rock slab of fossilized shells. PJ called it a fossil bed & said it's part of an old sea bed that petrified.

All together a fabulous and fulfilling day!
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mmm, Spinning!

We had the most fabulous, beautiful, sunshiney Spring-like weekend ever. I have to tell you, I really tried my hardest to enjoy every second of it! All the rain and snow and cold weather that's been keeping me holed-up in my FREEEEEZING house was chased away by the sunshine on Saturday. I dragged my spinning wheel out onto the back porch and sat in the glorious sun and spun all my cares away!

Look at me in my short sleeves OUTSIDE!

So since I rarely do any spinning (too many other things need my attention on a regular basis), I haven't felt comfortable enough to bust into my "good" fiber stash. Unfortunately, fiber waits for no woman and I was becoming more worried that my unprocessed (dirty) fleece was going to disintegrate long before I had a chance to mess it up.

I got this fleece from Three Creeks Farm out in Charlotte. For those of you with kids and fiber addictions, there is NO BETTER PLACE to take your kids -and- stock up on fibery goodness! She has a literal petting zoo of animals. Sheep and goats and ponies and a lovely garden full of flowers. She sells fleeces in every stage of processing, plus rovings both dyed and natural and spinning wheels and WHEW I'm running out of steam. Lets just say, the place is a little piece of Heaven.

I believe this fleece cost me a whopping $10. It's not a processed fleece, it's pretty much straight off his little warm sheepy back. The fella this came off was named Duncan, and it was his first (baby) shearing so it's his utmost softest fleece EVER. I saw him in the pasture and attempted to kiss his sweet sheepy snout but he was having none of that. I did have the opportunity though! I think that's the important thing anyway.

I soaked it in small batches in my kitchen sink, but no soap because I wanted more of a lanolin-ey spinning experience with it. It soaked and rinsed and I plan on washing the finished skein(s) of yarn when they're wound up and dying them whatever color(s) are appropriate once a finished piece is chosen. The water was very muddy! Fortunately, the soak water only smelled like mud, no strange sheep poo odors and the fleece has never smelled of anything but sunshine and faintly sheepy - it's a warm good happy smell!

I set the few rinsed bundles on my deck chairs to dry in the beautiful sun, only took a few hours since there was a lovely breeze.

This is the first little bit of carded fleece, spun up into oatmeal colored yarn. I'm wasting a good deal of it while carding, but it's my first fleece, my hands feel AMAZING, and the bits I'm not using are going outside for the wild birds to hopefully use in their nest building projects this Spring. Can you imagine the happy warm little chicks?

For the record, I always put pet and people hair clippings outside for my wild birds. I haven't seen evidence of much being used, but it's out there if they want it. I figure at best they'll use a little and at worst it decomposes in my salad patch where I strew it around for them.

Above, is another of my spinning endeavors this weekend. It's a beautiful pre-painted roving my DH bought from Haus of (HellBitches) Yarn a couple of years ago when he got me a beginning spindlers kit. He picked two painted rovings, one in pinks & blues and the other in yellows / blues. I saved this one because I wanted it to be usable (the other one really wasn't). I don't know how much closer I'm getting to making a really nice & consistent yarn but what I'm spinning up these days does knit up pretty and sturdy so I'm on the right track now.

Really, the first yarn I ever spun up on this wheel, I've made into a part of a mitten and it feels just wonderful. The thick & thin-ness of the yarn really looks spectacular knitted-up. Maybe I'll go dig it out and finish it since I've got some more of the same yarn skeined up after my spin-a-thon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Creative Weekend

We got to see Bonny's latest artistic creation this Sunday at Knitting. Y'all might not know that she's a painter! I love when she gets into her creative painting moods, and this happens to be one of my favorite things that she's ever painted. It's her version of Starry Night, but I think I like her creation much better than the original - it's so bright and happy!

Unfortunately, I was unable to talk her out of it. (I REALLY tried!) I don't blame her, if I'd painted that, I would want it on my own wall at home too. So in lieu of getting hers I went out and got a couple of canvases from Hobby Lobby and Keegan and I went home and made our own art.

His is the Transformer, which he free-handed completely himself. Mine isn't finished yet but I am trying to get some of the swirly air current clouds that I love so much in Bonny's. Maybe I'll get a chance to do some more work on it this week around my work schedule.

If you've never painted before, might I suggest that you give it a try? Hobby Lobby is running a GREAT sale this week, but their low prices make this an affordable thing to try any time. This week, their canvases and paints are 30% off and I think Bonny said their brushes were 50% off. I had brushes already, a nice set I got at Michael's years ago. I did purchase two 2-packs of canvases that were priced at 5.99 before discount. Bonny got two larger canvases (also a two-pack) for 7.99 before discount. The paint set you see in front of Keegan cost $14.99 before discount too. It's acrylics, which I really love because they are water soluble and will act like both oils and watercolors. So you can have dreamy colorwashes or you can build up texture. They dry fast and don't require any special oils or chemicals as the brushes just wash off in water.

You can see from our fancy setup that we don't need any specialized equipment or training to have a good time painting together. Go grab your kids & get to Hobby Lobby while this great sale is going on! I spent around $20 for the paints and four canvases and we had a whole afternoon of fun and creativity right on the kitchen counter. Not to mention, I get more original art for my walls!