Monday, April 30, 2007

Rustic Lace

Even though the sky was overcast on Saturday, John and I drove to Matagorda Beach so I could take pictures of the fishtail scarf and he could hopefully come home with a fish tale of his own.

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Pattern: Lorrie's Fishtail Lace Scarf
Yarn: My own homespun
Needles: US 7
Finished size: 5.5" wide, 58" long (after blocking)

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Modifications: I used larger needles and worked the lace pattern on fewer stitches (33).

Thanks to everyone for helping me choose this pattern. It was perfect for showing off the shifts of color in my homespun and it was so much fun to knit. There is something very satisfying about knitting with yarn you have spun yourself. Even poorly spun yarn can magically transform an ordinary knitted item into something special. So if you've been wanting to learn to spin, but have been putting it off because you don't think you have time, you're missing out. Why wait any longer?

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At the end of the day, I had my pictures and John had his fish tale.

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Flounder for supper!

Friday, April 27, 2007

This Week

I was able to squeeze in a little spinning. I'm working with a mystery wool that Amy gave me. It's different than anything I've spun before: full of lanolin (but very clean) and a bit stretchy. I think I have the hang of drafting it now, though it took a little time to figure it out. I'm trying to spin it thick enough for a two-ply worsted weight.

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This was an emotional day for the whole town. The historic part of Needville High School was completely destroyed by a fire. This building was 60 years old and was the center of the school. It was a beautiful old structure that had been maintained well over the years. It was all wood construction down to the polished hardwood floors and that contributed to it's total destruction. It housed the school administrative offices, the computer labs and several classrooms. All records were burned, even the recently taken TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) tests that were waiting for mail pick up. Students will have to take them over.

Some families in Needville have had three generations attend school in that building. Everyone was sad about losing it, but thankful that no one was injured. The fire started in the early morning hours when no one was around. Sadness turned to anger when it was determined that arson was the cause. No one has been caught yet, but I'm confident they will find out who did it.

John went to see the damage on Monday evening. I didn't have the heart to go. He said it was very emotional. Lots of people were there, but it was quiet. The mood was somber and filled with sadness. The two large oak trees in front that were planted when the school was built are still standing though scorched from the fire. I think that's how everyone was feeling: emotionally scorched.

John and I drove to Edmond, Oklahoma to help Matt move out of the dorm and haul his stuff home for the summer. It was a long drive (9 hours). It was overcast all day with rain off and on. There were tornado warnings and bad weather all around. We arrived safely, but exhausted. I think we were drained from the day before.

After Matt took his last final exam, we loaded a few things in the truck. He was wiped out from staying up late to study, so while he napped, we drove over to Guthrie. Stopped in at S.W.A.K. and bought some yarn for summer socks.

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Panda Wool, Crystal Palace Yarns
46% Bamboo, 43% Wool, 11% Nylon

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Jawoll Cotton Superwash, Lang Yarns
49% Wool, 35% Cotton, 16% Nylon

Loaded the rest of Matt's things. While Matt was getting officially checked out of the dorm, John took Matt's vehicle down to have the tire checked. It was soft. Not good for driving on. It took about two hours at the tire store. While we waited, I knitted on a pair of socks that's been on my needles since January. I really need to finish these before I start a new pair. One lady, also waiting for her car to be fixed, came over to talk to me. She's a knitter and likes to make socks too. She even commented on the hand knit socks I was wearing. Finally got on the road after lunch and arrived home at 10:00 last night.

I had hoped to go some place special today for a photo shoot of my hand spun scarf, but the weather is not cooperating. One day there will be pictures, but I'm not making promises about when.

Monday, April 23, 2007


007 Snap a Dozen Days

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My Team

April is all about baseball. Nothing is more highly anticipated for a baseball fan than opening day. The season is a long one, beginning in April and lasting though September. Teams play a game six days out of seven each week (except for a few days off for the All Star game in July). Then it's the playoffs and the World Series in October. Sounds like that would be enough to hold a fan over for the five months off, but it's not. Not for me anyway. So, April is a welcome month. Baseball is back and all is well again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fresh Start

This week we had our house painted. It looks fresh, clean and new. But you know what that means--everything else looks shabby next to it. So I had to buy a new door mat.

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And a fresh new pot of flowers.

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Just to spruce things up a bit.

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I even tackled the back porch, scrubbing everything down except the dogs.

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There is still much to be done inside and out, but that means I'm going to have to put the needles down, turn the computer off and get to work. Every closet and drawer in this house needs to be cleaned out. My summer project will be to go through all of our stuff and simplify. My goal is to have everything in shape by the end of August. I know I can do it, I just don't want to.

I will still knit (and spin), but not as much. I think I'll focus on small quick knits for the instant gratification factor. This will be a good opportunity to build up a stash of baby gifts. It seems there is always a baby shower to attend and lately I've been scrambling at the end to get something made. This week was one of those times. I started a couple of pairs of booties that didn't work out, then a bib pattern that stumped me and a pair of socks that didn't work with the yarn I was using. I knit for two days straight with nothing to show for it. Finally I found a lace sock pattern that was just right for my yarn.

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Pattern: Baby Eyelet Socks
Yarn: Patons 4 ply baby yarn
Needles: US 2 DPNs
Size: Toddler (6-18 months)
Changes: I used larger needles and added an extra pattern repeat to the leg.

Hopefully I'll get pictures of my scarf this weekend.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Great Escape

Friday night's rain was still lingering around on Saturday morning, so John and I decided to go to Sugar Land (Houston suburb) for a little shopping and lunch. I was enjoying our time together, but all the traffic and people were getting to me. Shopping is a chore that I just don't enjoy. I was getting grouchy and wishing I was some place else. So even though the weather was not cooperating, we decided to drop off our purchases at home and escape the city. It was just what I needed. The skies even began to clear and so did my mood.

We decided to check out Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge. The only road in is unpaved and deserted.

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It was just us and a few cows.

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Have you noticed that most of our trips end up at the water? There was no fishing this time though.

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Next we drove to Matagorda to check out the sights. We discovered a very nice RV park on the Colorado river within walking distance of the big pier and the jetties on Matagorda Bay. We are coming back soon with the trailer.

We walked out on the jetty, but the wind was blowing so hard, we decided not to go out too far. A few times it almost blew me over.

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Matagorda is on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. We saw herons, pelicans, seagulls and many other shore birds. I took pictures on my little camera, but none of them turned out that well. John used the digital SLR and got some good shots.

Next trip we'll explore the beach and maybe even do a little kayaking through the wetland trails. And there will surely be fishing for John.

P.S. Fishtail Scarf is pinned out and blocking. Pictures soon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Purposeful Knitting

When I learned to knit I never considered that I could use this craft to help others. I started out like many of us do, knitting scarves, hats and dishcloths nonstop. The dishcloth drawer filled to overflowing and I gave scarves and hats to many family members. Soon it became evident that I needed someone else to knit for. That's when I discovered charity knitting and in particular, knitting for preemies. There will always be a baby in need of a hat or a family in need of comfort. I have found a purpose for my passion and I am better for it.

Sleeper Sacks and Bonnets

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Patterns: Sleeper Sack and Preemie Bonnets
Yarn: Red Heart Soft Baby, Sport Weight, 100% Acrylic
Color: Powder Yellow
Needles: US 3
Sizes: Less than 1 lb and 1-3 lbs
For: The Preemie Project and Marlowe

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Also included with this donation are these cute flannel blankets in sizes 30"x30" and 25"x25".

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Monday, April 09, 2007

No Surprise

Cast in the role of lacy scarf is Lorrie's Fishtail Lace Scarf.

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The applause was overwhelming for her audition. All but one in the audience (my husband) gave her a standing ovation. Now that the curtain has opened on the first act, even he has admitted she is the right choice.

Homespun and Fishtail are co-starring together beautifully. Egos are in check and neither is upstaging the other. However, it is yet to be seen whether Homespun will have enough yardage to complete the entire script. Let's hope the curtain doesn't close on this pair too soon.

Thank you, everyone for your help. Enjoy the show.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Casting the right actor in the right role is key to the success of a movie or a play. It's the same in knitting. The choices we make in combining yarn and pattern can make a big difference in the outcome of our project, so I'm holding auditions for my latest homespun. Competing for the role of lacy scarf are two worthy patterns:

Lorrie's Fishtail Lace Scarf
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Branching Out
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Hmmm...this is a harder decision than I thought it would be. I'm in love with the leaf motif of Branching Out, but is the yarn competing too much with the design?

I like how nicely Fishtail shows off the gradual changes in the yarn color, but will this scarf roll on the edges?

Let's see them perform side by side.

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What do you think? I'll let you know what I decide on Monday. I need to think about it some more.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


The plying is finished. The twist is set. Yarn!

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Fiber: Wasatch Watercolours, Fine Range Wools
Amount: 3 oz
Color: Hidden Canyon
Yarn: 2 ply, 16 WPI, just under 400 yds.

This is the best yarn I've spun so far and I'm very happy with it. I'm so anxious to start knitting with it that I've already been auditioning patterns. I don't think this yarn is right for socks, but it may be right for a lacy scarf. I've been searching my books, magazines and the Web for patterns and have come up with some possiblities.

The scarf called Palette sounded like a good choice. It even says in the introduction that the organic-looking stitch pattern works well with homespun yarn, because it is forgiving to somewhat irregular spinning. I cast on last night and got started, but I hit a big snag. An unusual (at least to me) decrease called PSP (Purl, Slip, Pass stitch over) gave me all kinds of problems. Even though the stitch is clearly explained, it's not working for me. Row two never ends with the correct number of stitches, so I must be doing something wrong or there's a problem with the pattern. Most likely it's me, but I can't figure out how to interpret the directions differently, so I'm stuck. Time to move on to something else.

Here are a few others I'm considering:
Lorrie's Fishtail Lace Scarf
Falling Water Lace Scarf
Little Leaf Scarf
Branching Out

If all goes well, I'll have a scarf on the needles by the end of the day.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

I Love My Wheel!

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Virginia Kromski and I have been spinning wool again. We've become fast friends in the last week, spending brief sessions together each day creating yarn. I feel so comfortable with her now, that I've begun to use her less formal name, Ginny.

Ginny and I have been working with wool from Wasatch Watercolours. It's the first time I've spun anything hand-dyed and it's added a bit of interest to the process. Watching the colors shift and change is very entertaining. Picturing how the yarn will eventually look with all the colors plied together is a mystery and I do enjoy a good mystery.

Being a novice spinner, I don't always know the best way to proceed. So as you're reading this, keep in mind that what I'm doing may not be "right". I'm not pretending to know what I'm dong here. I'm just having fun.

I began by dividing the 3 ounces of roving into several smaller amounts. First I split it down the middle lengthwise, then I split those sections in half and continued doing this until I had many narrow strips of roving. I rolled these up and kept them handy by my wheel.

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I predrafted each section of fiber as I came to it. Predrafting makes actual drafting easier. I took a picture of a predrafted strip. I hope you can see how light and airy it becomes. The fibers are able to slide easily now, because they are already started.

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I got tired of preparing the fiber like this though, so halfway through the roving, I dropped this step. I was happy with the results. My drafting skills have improved enough that I didn't need to predraft, at least not with this roving which is well prepared to start with.

I limited each spinning session to about an hour or two each day. That's just the right amount of time for me now. Any longer than that and I become careless and sloppy. It's better to quit and come back to it later, fresh and sharp. Eventually all the fiber was spun.

I can see a lot of improvement in my spinning. This time I was able to control the amount of fiber drafted in a more consistent manner. The resulting single is thin and nearly uniform.

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I started plying yesterday and should finish up today, so check back later for the final product.