Friday, November 24, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

Bandit, a six year old Siberian Husky mix, the newest member of our family. We found her at our local animal shelter last week and she has been settling in quite well.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Don't Drink the Kool Aid

For some reason, I kept putting this off. I thought it was going to get really messy and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to deal with it. But one weekend afternoon, I got out the supplies and my daughter and I played around with Kool Aid and yarn.

I used some natural Wool of the Andes yarn from Knit Picks and divided one skein into 4 using my swift and niddy noddy. We used instructions from
this site and I decided to try both the stove top and the microwave methods. First we need to soak the fiber in hot water.

And we mix up our potions - Kool Aid, water and vinegar.

First we tried the microwave process - the fiber is supposed to be placed in plastic wrap, then the dye is poured over it, the fiber is wrapped in the plastic wrap and you squish the stuff around to saturate the fibers with the dye. Then this is microwaved for 2 minutes or so. Squish the liquid around some more and you can microwave again if necessary.

I had thought the stove top method would be messier plus the directions said that the mixture would have to simmer for about 45 minutes. It actually took maybe less than 10 minutes and I was really amazed at how the liquid turns a milky white when the dye bath is exhausted.

The colors we tried in the microwave were Berry Blue, Watermelon Cherry and then Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade. This last one looked like the Watermelon Cherry so we tried sprinkling some Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade over it. This didn't turn out so great so we ended up putting it on the stove with 2 packages of Orange. On the stove, we soaked one skein in 2 packages of orange, a second in a mixture of Arctic Green, Lemon Ice, Lemonade with a little Ice Blue Raspberry sprinkled in and a third skein was soaked in Grape. This last one turned out way too dark so we added 2 packages of Cherry.

I wish there was some way to show you how great it smelled in the kitchen. Here from left to right we have Orange, Watermelon Cherry, Arctic Green with Lemon Ice and Lemonade, Berry Blue, Grape with 2 Cherry added after, Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade with Ice Blue Raspberry and then overdyed with Orange.

In honor of this post and so someone else can experience this process first hand, the next prize from the blogiversary celebration will be a skein of Knit Picks natural (sock weight) with a variety of Kool Aid colors. I'll be picking the winner in the next few days.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Time To Be Thankful

It goes without saying that we should remember to be thankful for what we have all year long. But during this crazy time of year, when things can just spiral out of control with the holiday celebrations, the planning and shopping for gifts and all that the holidays bring, we should try to take some time and remember all reasons we have to be thankful. I have people I love and who love me, a roof over my head and often too much food to eat. I have hobbies that I love and often an excess of supplies. But obviously all that is not true of everyone. Carole and Margene have once again put together a time for us to Knit Unto Others. When I did this last year, it was amazing, during this time of the year that can often get so hectic, to just slow down and knit items for some of the many projects that are accepting handknit articles of clothing for those in need. It really made me think about what was important. Of course, I will participate again this year. Various organizations are mentioned on the Knit Unto Others blog and Carole mentioned some in this post.

One of the ones I have decided to participate in is Caps to the Capital which is being run by Save The Children. The idea is to knit or crochet caps to warm a newborn's head and possibly help save their life. You can download an action kit at their site and some of the things it provides you with are patterns, answers to questions and a special tag for your hat. If you choose to make hats for this cause, I highly recommend you check out the site. The hats they request are much smaller than we are used to making - they recommend 9" - 11" in circumference and this really looks almost doll sized. The hats are small enough, that you could easily make several in a weekend. I made two this past weekend in addition to doing plenty of other things.

I also plan on making a scarf for the Red Scarf Project and some hats for the Soaring Eagles Project in addition to putting some items aside for next year's mailing to Dulaan. Go ahead and pick a project - the benefits are many. Not only will you be helping someone else, but you will feel better too. I know I do!

Blogger won't let me show you the high tech methods we have here for picking the next prize winner (we used a bag this time instead of a hat to hold the pieces of paper). The winner of the Sheep2Shoe kit is ...

In addition to being a fabulous person, she is an amazing spinner and I know she will do some special things with this kit. Congratulations Amanda!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sometime I Wonder If I'm A Good Teacher

I tried to show Lewis and Clark around town but it didn't work out quite as I had planned. We took them to a corn maze on Saturday morning. I thought they would be a great help in finding our way through the maze but they didn't want to get out of the car. I think the Brownies running around outside kind of intimidated them. This year's maze was in the shape of the American flag but it was easier than last year since the wind storm of last weekend kind of blew many of the corn stalks over. But it was fun being outside and it turned into a beautiful day.

The next day I thought I could take them to see Flicka but had to veto that idea when my husband came along, He really doesn't get the whole blogging thing and definitely doesn't understand the bond between us fiber addicted folks. He would definitely believe I was over the edge if I were to take a picture of a box sitting in a seat at the movie theater. Anyway, it was an excellent movie. I can highly recommend it but if you get teary (like me...), remember to bring along your hankie. There were a few spots where the tears were flowing.

Oh, and is this my fault??? A mom I know a little asked me if I would teach her daughter how to knit. They see me at gymnastics practice and a few other places and I usually have fiber and needles in hand. Of course I agreed and when she asked what to get, I specifically informed her to get a pair of needles in a larger size (at least 10 or so) and a skein of smooth WOOL. You know, nothing that has anything hanging off of it. Something basic. I explained that this was important as it would be easier to see the stitches, fix mistakes and just be able to see what was going on. Yesterday at gymnastics practice they show up and the girl brings out what she had bought - a set of large needles and a skein of friggin' chenille. Because it was soft. In dark blue. I can't even make out the stitches. But I showed her and got her started. The mom had mentioned that she used to knit but didn't remember. Do you think the mom stayed around so that maybe she could help her daughter when she got stuck at home? I'll let you answer that question. Anyway, I told the girl to keep practicing and bring it back to gymnastics practice on Wednesday afternoon. She seemed to get it although we kept on ending up with extra stitches on each row. All I'm saying is that it would have been much easier with some basic wool.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And The Winner Is ...

If that's what you came here to find out, please feel free to skip to the end of the post. Otherwise, there has been some knitting going on here. I needed to come up with a teacher's gift for this year and I remembered that Mamacate had made these last year. Talk about instant gratification. Two pairs done and one to go. The grrls in the knitting group at work have taken a liking to these too and we are all knitting biggy mittens.

I am also supposed to be working on this for a baby boy that was born about 3 weeks ago.

The front and back are done. but I want to be working on this instead.

I know I must be the last knitter on earth who wants to knit Clapotis and hasn’t. With that in mind I stopped by Brooks Farm at Rhinebeck and picked out this gorgeous yarn. Actually I picked something else first (I was in a hurry because my daughter and I had just waited in the STR line and she was sort of out of patience). After I paid for the 2 skeins, my daughter found another shade that was even more perfect and the women in the booth were kind enough to let me exchange what I had just bought. Anyway, I have started my own Clapotis. And I am loving the pattern – easy enough to memorize but not totally mindless.

I had another Clapotis encounter as I was packing up at the hotel after our day at Rhinebeck. I had just put some stuff in the car and was returning to get another load. A woman was pushing a luggage cart from the parking lot, also obviously packing up her car. Of course, I held the door for her and noticed that she happened to be wearing a Clapotis around her neck. I opened my mouth and proceeded to inform her that I had finally purchased some yarn for that pattern and how I’ve been wanting to make it and how I was probably the only knitter on earth that hasn’t made that pattern. Then these words come out of her mouth – “Oh, I’m the designer.” Yes, I had been talking with Kate Gilbert. So, we introduced ourselves and she was very kind and gracious. It’s really cool to actually meet the person who designed the pattern.

And now, thanks for staying around so long. I'm sure you are all wondering who is the lucky winner of the RI Red STR.

We are doing this the old fashioned way. My daughter helped me pick a name out of the hat.

And the winner is: Kimberly from Somebunnyslove. I guess the RI Red will be staying in RI.

The next prize that will be given away is also from the ladies at Blue Moon - a Sheep2Shoe kit also purchased at Rhinebeck.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Postman Always Rings Twice

As if Rhinebeck wasn't enough, I had a pleasant surprise when I returned home from the weekend. My KTS package was waiting for me with wonderful goodies inside.

Frances did an excellent job putting my package together. Everything was wrapped up so beautifully and I'm sorry I didn't get a picture. What can I say - I was kind of impatient :). The goodies - a tea strainer to use with some Twinings Gunpowder Green Tea. I've never even heard of Gunpowder tea - sounds potent :)! Then there are three containers of Harney and Sons tea sachets. I bought this brand of tea for my tea swap partner, but have never tried it myself. And of course there are some yummy cookies and chocolate to go along with it. The yarn - a beautiful blue Opal and Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks in Lagoon. I didn't get to visit Nancy's booth at Rhinebeck this year - the colors she produces are always beautiful and this one has to be one of my favorite. I love the shades of greens and blues. And the most coolest thing is that Frances included some of the products that she makes herself - Just Relaxing Green Tea Soap, Natural Aloe and Shea Luxury Cream, and Brown Sugar Face and Body Polish. My daughter and I had to open up the cream right away and try some. It's perfect for when you are knitting because it doesn't leave a greasy feeling - just absorbs nicely into the skin. And for anyone who hasn't tried a sugar polish - they leave your skin amazingly smooth - my daughter has made me promise to share it with her. So, thank you, Frances, for making this swap very special. And the other neat thing is that Frances has some ties to the town where I grew up and we may even get to meet in person.

And yes, the postman did ring twice. Yesterday, I arrived home to find Lewis and Clark on my doorstep. I had been keeping an eye out for one of the explorers for the longest time and when I stopped looking for him - there they were! They came to me via Emmy in VA and were bearing the most wonderful gifts. I had mentioned in the questionnaire that I had always wanted to try Vesper yarn but had never had any luck getting any. The one time I saw some available was when I had just signed up for the Summer of Stash and silly me decided not to order any. And of course I regretted that decision.

Tada - I now own a skein of Vesper in some really fun colors. Looks really summery to me and they will make some fun socks. And some beautiful blue cotton/wool Sockotta. The cutest tape measure (I always need another tape measure since I can never find one when I need one). It's a puppy and the pully thing has a little bone on it. Green Chibis - my favorite, a beautiful notepad and a nice note from Emmy using Cara's notecards. I just love Cara's photos and have bought some of her cards in the past for gifts and for my personal use. I feel so spoiled - thank you Emmy!

Now, I need to find some time to show Lewis and Clark around town before sending them on to the next recipient. This is such a fun swap and big hugs go out to Amanda for setting up all of this.

There has been some knitting going on - mittens, fingerless gloves, a baby sweater, a Clapotis - but I was so intent on taking pictures of the packages that I forgot to take pictures of the knitting. So that will be saved for next time. And the first winner in the blogiversary giveaway will be chosen and will receive the skein of STR in Rhode Island Red. All this coming up in the next installment. See you then!