Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back at it

The border

I have finally finished threading the warp for the baby blanket, and have started weaving.  I'm not sure what the green spot is in the middle of the photo, but the border is lovely, and doesn't have anything green poured on it.  I've got 8 1/2 yards of white bamboo, 600 threads, to make 4 baby blankets, 30" x 70", and all will have that border on them.  I'm following the four-shaft directions in the beginning of Weaver's Best, Huck Lace book, and am going to have each blanket feature a different treadling in the center.
  The first blanket done will go to my co-worker who is due in less than a month.  She is still working just as hard as ever, and sometimes, we need to ask her to slow down a little, but she's getting tired at the end of the day.  Sometimes, I just want to ask her to sit down!  But she never would.
  The next three blankets will be gifts for other friends who are expecting, or want to be.  It's a fun and easy warp; I've almost finished the first one in the last two mornings.
the underside, in early morning sunlight
  A friend asked me this week how long it takes me to make something, and I've always known it would be a good idea to keep track, but It's not work.  It's my hobby, what brings me joy, and it's always time well spent.
square huck lace
  It's a beautiful fall day, and I need to get outside in it.  There's mowing, trimming, bulb planting and other yard work waiting.   And when it's done, I can come back inside and play with my yarn.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Non-Labor Day

Even bakers get a holiday in common with others sometimes, and today is one.  We had to work like the dickens yesterday, and will have more to do tomorrow, but we are closed today.  I don't have any labor at home planned, either, but I would like to weave that blue-green scarf off the loom today.
  I have the warp for the baby blankets wound and waiting, and I have a slinky black bamboo warp waiting to woven into sexiness soon.
  As summer winds down, the roses have come back from their mid-summer malaise, where it  seemed like every single one battled aphids and blight.  The David Austin rose is gorgeous right now, but can't compete for scent with the cheap, unknown Home Depot rose in the front yard!
I've finished the huck lace project on Tootsie, shown here in its last few throws.  I started on it one morning, just to get it off the loom, and it  just flew by!  Carpet warp goes much faster than bamboo!  But I don't like its drape once off the loom.  I've washed it twice, and it's still stiff.  The color's gorgeous, and the pattern is better than I expected, so I'll still be gifting it to my sister.  Just a new lesson learned!  Carpet warp has its place, but I won't be using it for scarves anymore.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

GULP Eats Brunch

pickled shrimp, corn cakes and peach chutney
 The dinner group I belong to had brunch this Sunday, on a front porch overlooking the Tennessee River.  We're all great cooks, and each course was delightful.  Brunch doesn't normally last four hours, but that's what ours did.   Even a cloudburst couldn't dampen our enthusiasm!
salad of blueberries, peaches, arugula and corn

My view down the table

Peaches were not the theme, but was certainly a common thread.  The theme was originally Faulkner and food, until we realized that Faulkner and Bourbon would be more accurate.  We gave ourselves license to use our own favorite southern writer as inspiration, and to be our reading that accompanied our course.  Faulkner, Welty, Styrone and someone whose name I didn't catch--how many glasses of champagne?--were the authors featured.
gazpacho of roasted tomatillos and tomatoes

trout and peach salad

peach trifle

Our next meeting is in the late fall, our theme being Hemingway, which started out to be just "in Spain," but is now including our own favorite locale of his stories.  I'm already thinking about  A Moveable Feast for my inspiration.
  Meanwhile, I'm weaving up a storm, and knitting some cloudbursts that I'll share next post!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Sad Tale, with a Happy Ending

 If you belong to the Facebook group, 4-Shaft Weaving, you'll have seen the tragedy that befell my lovely lemon-lime warp this week.  As I was beading the last 12 inches, I'd left the scissors above the warp, and when I beat once too hard, they toppled onto the warp, cutting one thread.  As I tried to extricate them from the warp, wailing and swearing, scaring cats and dog, I cut one more thread.  I took a picture, posted it to facebook and walked away to deal with it another day.
  Many people "liked" and commented, all sympathetic, but many of the longer comments from folks with advice, assuming I was a rookie weaver.  And I'm not; I've been weaving for 9 years!  And yes, I do know better.  But I was using the scissors over and over again to cut thread for the beading, and I just didn't think.
  No big deal, in the end, really.  I tied the two threads together, realized I'd have to make the beaded area as big as it was--7", rather than 12"--and move on.  I finished it this morning, beading the hem stitching, and cut it off.  Now, I'm twisting fringe and loving the scarf.  The beads are so subtle, tone on tone, that no one is going to notice there are 12 inches beaded on one end and 7 inches on the other.  And if they do, well, good for them and their wonderful eyesight!
I've started the next version on the same warp, a hand-dyed weft from my solo dye-day this spring.  I don't normally like hand-dyed wefts on hand-dyed warps.  They just look too busy, and I'm not sure I like this one, but hey!  It's only yarn!  I have lots more!  And it's fun to do, just to see what happens.  I've been beading it in a random non-pattern, with dark blue beads and a few of the citron beads from the first scarf.  I think I like it so far.  It's much less bright than the first one, anyway.  And it's fun to do, so I'll carry on!

 I'm still knitting up a storm, too.  I'm using the yarn I got for a prize from finishing the Yarn Crawl to make a simple cowl.  It's cotton, called Ripple, because it gets thick and thin, flat and round, so it makes a pattern of its own, without my having to be clever.  I think it'll be great this winter when wool is too much, but there's still a chill.

And the self-striping shawl with the lace on the edge is coming along just fine.  I love the lace pattern on the edge, and Noro yarns always keep things interesting.

At work, I've been training a couple of people to do what I do, so I can change my days off.  Marina is from Guatemala, and David is a chemical engineer at Oak Ridge Labs.  Marina can't read, so David does that part, and David's hands aren't quite as graceful as Marina's.  Together they make a great team, and made some beautiful cinnamon rolls this weekend.  You can see how small Marina is, but she bravely rolled the rack into the walk-in oven.  In a few weeks' time, they should be able to be on their own, and I might get Fridays and Saturdays off.  Fingers crossed!
  I have a busy afternoon planned, so I'd better get going.  Enjoy the cool day!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A DIY Birthday

This past week was my birthday.  You read that correctly.  If you don't know this about me yet, you should realize that my birthday is the most important day of the year for me.  Luckily for me, there are others who know this, and help me celebrate accordingly.  My sister and mother came to Knoxville this past weekend to enable me and my birthday party.
  My sister Liz is very handy, knows how to do just about everything NOT involving thread or needles.  I had plans for her, and she made up a few jobs to do, too.  First, we mowed and weed whacked.

  Next, she hung hooks on the front porch to hand a fern and an old window.  She taught me to use a stud finder, so I was able to hang another old window in the living room.

Then, she decided I needed a ceiling fan on the front porch for my birthday gift.  I've always wanted one, but had no idea how to do it, and an electrician friend quoted me a price that was way too high.  Liz did it all, mostly by herself, with my help with the heavy lifting.  It makes the front porch so much more enjoyable!  

Next, we hung up the big beautiful mirror I bought last winter.  It brings so much light into my bedroom!  It reflects the chandelier, as well as the outside light, and I love it!

 We also had time to drive to Nashville and have dinner at the restaurant where my son is now Executive Chef.  Yes, I am a proud mother!  The restaurant is Adele's, and it's wonderful.  He ordered everything for us, and we passed dishes all night.  This is the dessert aftermath.  It was all wonderful.  And just as we were finishing, a famous food writer came in for dinner, someone I know well enough to talk to and let him know who the chef is.  I'm hoping he'll write good things about the place!
  Today is the day after, everyone is gone, and it's back to reality tomorrow.  But I've had a wonderful week, with friends and family.  Thanks to all who played a part in it! I'm looking forward to next year!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Love

This is what greeted me as I drove in the garage this afternoon.  It's 8 inches in diameter, and has lots more friends about to join it.  This perennial Hibiscus had a pink buddy who didn't make it past early spring's frost, but this white one is doing very well.  There are at least 5 buds on each branch, ensuring blooms for many more weeks to come.

Last night, I read the most recent issue of Organic Gardening Magazine, which repeatedly featured bees in  most of the articles, mostly bemoaning the decline in their numbers.  I know that's true, because when I worked on the farm, we lost 7 hives one winter, and regularly lost several a year.  But this afternoon, the Vitex and the Echinacea are swarming with bees of all sizes and shapes.  

 All three Rose of Sharons are in full bloom.  I have the hedge rescue one that's blue, a pink single flower and a double blue, that has weird fringed inside sepals, rather than actual double petals.

And the tomatoes couldn't wait until the Fourth of July, tomatoes' normal ripeness date here in east TN.  I harvested these beauties on my way in the door, and two will be a tomato sandwich on fresh sourdough bread.  Two will go to my neighbors, who are also getting some okra and basil.  I'll keep giving away that okra until it's all gone!  It sure is pretty to grow, though.

 This weekend's dessert is a pecan turtle brownie, and I sure wish I'd messed one up.  I didn't, though, so I didn't get to try one, only admire them.

Leo spent a lot of yesterday wandering outside, and he needed a nap.  Yarn makes a good pillow, apparently.

Summer is mild so far, with enough rain to keep me happy, nothing over 100 yet, and everything is growing, blooming and lovely.  I love summer!

Friday, June 20, 2014

East Tennessee Yarn Crawl 2014

Well, folks, this year's yarn crawl is in the books.  I finished this afternoon, after work.  I now know why they call it a crawl.  I feel like crawling to bed!  I spent one entire day last week, visiting yarn stores, and this week, I spent most of Tuesday, all of Wednesday, yesterday afternoon, into the evening, and a couple of hours today.
  But I did it!  I visited 12 yarn stores, all over this half of the state.  I tried to buy something in each store, but today, funds ran out right when enthusiasm did.  I was really excited that my last yarn store, the shop of the Crawl's organizer, had bags left.  We didn't get bags because everyone had run out, but at Yarn Haven, they had collected all the bags from the stores who didn't give them away.  I begged for one for LouAnn, my intrepid Yarn Crawl sidekick, too.
  I've got some lovely treasures, things that will probably make it into hand made gifts for Christmas, and for now, yummy things to look at and cuddle with a little.
  It was fun, especially the parts spent with friends.  I will probably never do an entire yarn crawl again, but I can always say, "I finished the 2014 East TN Yarn Crawl."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bumpy Road

 I'm not sure what I did to my knee, but it has swollen to twice its normal size and hurts like the dickens, however that's supposed to hurt.  Thank goodness for frozen peas! 
  And while I waited for my knee to calm down, I tried that new hem I've learned--knitting the hem, then picking up the cast on stitches and knitting them together with the row on top of the hem--on the second try of the Scandinavian sweater I posted about last time.  It seems there were not enough stitches in the printed pattern to accommodate the flower motifs, and I had to Frog the whole two inches I'd already knitted.  While I was at it, I decided to make the hem a little fancier by faggoting the edge.  I love it!
 When I finished the hem, I started on the pattern rows, only to find out I'd counted the little, tiny squares wrong, and am in the process of ripping out the first row.  It seemed like a good time to blog.  This time I know there are enough stitches, because I'm deviating from the printed pattern, counting my own stitches required, and thinking about how I can vary the part above the flowers on the border. 

And may I beg your indulgence while I brag about my son?  He has just moved back to Nashville to run Chef Jonathan Waxman's new restaurant, Adele.  They've just opened this week, and I haven't been able to visit him yet because he's so busy.  But I will be in Nashville the moment he has a free day.  I'm so proud!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New Business

the colors
I have finished a cardigan, a shawl and a pair of socks in the past week, and I am feeling pretty darn good about it!  I promised myself that if I finished the cardigan, after I finished the shawl that I could start a new project.  I had a few in mind, and had lots of yarn to choose from.  As I plowed through my stash, winding all the hand dyed yarn, I kept moving a basket of yarn I'd bought two or three years ago when Lanny was buying from Jagger yarns.  I bought an issue of Interweave Knits in 2000, the Spring 2000 issue, just because it had this incredible cardigan in it.  Can you imagine my shock when the woman in the yarn shop told me I couldn't afford the yarn I needed to make it?  I never forgot the sweater, though, and I have the yarn, and I have the promise to myself.  The sweater begins with 305 stitches on size 2.5 needles, in 10 boring rounds of stockinette.  Excitement builds slowly with 6 rows of pink stockinette, only to switch back to 6 more rows of white.  I'm about to start the stems of the flowers with the next row, on size 3 needles.  I'm switching the weird beige Christmas tree shapes in the body of the the cardigan to the flower repeats that are on the sleeves, because I want it to be interesting.  I think this is going to be quite a time investment, so I want to at least enjoy it.
  I've also started a new shawl, and it is zipping along.  It's from my favorite new knitting magazine, Knit Wear, also from Interweave.  The shawl is knit from one corner, starting with only 3 stitches, progressing to its ultimate size, knitting the border alongside the body, then finishing with the border going up the other side.  This is hand-dyed merino, on size 6 needles.  It's fun and interesting, and I have plans to make another in the Jagger Zephyr, with beads along the border.

  Yesterday, LouAnn's son, artist Nick DeFord taught a group of the Tuesday Weavers to make free form baskets.  It was a beautiful day, with lots of students, and a wonderful teacher.  This is my basket, and free form it was.  I need to trim it up and remove the jute that was holding wayward reeds in place, but I know it will not be my last basket.  It was so much fun!  
  Today is supposed to be beautiful, but I need it to warm a little bit more before I get out there and garden.  Might need one more cup of coffee and just a couple rows on the new sweater.  What a lovely Sunday!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dye Day

Ocean samples
samples of the forest
 Although I still blog for Tuesday Weavers, and keep up the facebook page for them, I don't attend the actual Tuesday weaving sessions anymore.  After my all-too-chaotic Mondays at work, I need a day of peace and quiet.  I've been finding that serenity at home lately, and this week, it was filled with dyeing warps and skeins for the future.
  I wanted one warp to be the colors of the ocean, and one to be forest greens.  I found with the purple and gold bamboo warp I just finished how much fun it was to match the weft to the warp by hand-dyeing it, so I did some of that, too.
  I used immersion dyeing for the forest wefts, and that was fine, but it took a long time.  The Procion website says to immerse the yarn for 40 minutes, add soda ash and leave it for 50 more minutes.  Stir frequently while it sits.  And I did it, and it was fine, but I kept forgetting about them, not stirring very often.  The upside was that when they were done, they were done, and could be washed and dried.
  The top pot is actually a linen and tencel warp, and I will have to show you what it looks like now.  It's Chinese Red, and it's absolutely stunning.  No idea what to make of it yet, but oh, it will be lovely!
  While they were stewing in their dye, I was outside painting two warps.  One is 10/2 bamboo, and the other is 6/2.  The 10/2 is so fine and soft, while the 6/2 is more coarse, but I know it also weaves up just fine.
   The first warp was three shades of green, but it needed a spark, so I threw in some eggplant.  I loved the way it looked!  It was so vibrant!  Notice the past tense in my sentences?  The reveal will be in my next blog entry.

I also hand dyed some wefts, the ones for the ocean colors.  It was fun, and a good way to use up the leftover dyes.  I need more practice to make it work better.  I don't like the too-busy way they come out sometimes, with a busy, multi-colored warp and a similar weft, so I kept each weft to two of the three colors, and only used one as a base and once as an accent.  
 I forgot to take a picture of the ocean colors until I'd wrapped it up, but don't worry!  There will be a reveal, and it won't look like it did when it was wet, anyway.
Ocean colors I forgot to photograph!
   Successful or not, I had a lovely day, outside in the cool Spring sunshine, making yarn that no one else will ever have.  I'm already imagining scarves and shawls in lovely, cool colors.