Monday, July 30, 2007
Beautiful wool roving hand-dyed by artisan Susan Hensel.
And the most amazing needle-felted columbine made by Danielle herself. She said she modeled it after one of my pictures.
I love this flower so much! It's displayed on my computer desk where I can admire it often and be reminded of my trip to Colorado, the mountain wildflowers I saw there and friendships that begin in the most unexpected ways.
Danielle blogs at One Day at a Time. She's looking for the perfect pattern to use for a beautiful skein of laceweight yarn and has turned her quest into a contest. It would be great if you could stop by and share your ideas.
This weekend I went to my favorite yarn shop, Twisted Yarns, to search for just the right extras to go with the bluebonnet seeds I'll be sending to Danielle. I was very excited to see that they have started to sell roving. Of course, I couldn't leave without adding to my stash.
Roving by J. Knits, 100% Merino Wool, Iowa Colorway
Friday, July 27, 2007
We have a passionflower vine in our garden, but it is not blooming yet. However, I found these beauties in South Texas last week. They were growing on a fence near the entrance to Seawind RV Resort in Riviera.
The name Passionflower refers to the passion of Christ. Each part of the flower is symbolically related to the crucifixion. The cornea is the crown of thorns. The stamens represent Christ's wounds. The knob-like stigma are the nails. The curling tendrils suggests the whips and cords that tormented him.
You may know this flower as a Maypop, one of it's common names. When we purchased the vine we have in our yard, I remember the lady at the nursery telling us that as a child she and her sisters used to pick the flowers and play with them, imagining them to be fairy skirts.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Another pair finished brings my total number of hand-knitted socks to 15.
Stitch Pattern: Basket weave rib worked on 64 stitches, short-row heels and toes
Pattern Book: Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: JaWoll Cotton Superwash (49% wool, 35% cotton, 16% nylon)
Needles: US 1 DPNs
Each ball of JaWoll sock yarn comes with a spool of reinforcement thread. I've never thought it necessary to reinforce the heels and toes of socks, but since it was included, I used it. It created a nice tight fabric that should wear well.
The next pair of summer socks is already on the needles. More on those later.
Monday, July 23, 2007
The Lincoln Memorial
July is the month the United States celebrates its independence. Last week we found time to drive from Baltimore to Washington D.C. to see some of the sights associated with our country and the freedom we celebrate. We were limited to only three hours, so we parked on a street near the National Mall and started our tour with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. Designed to resemble a classical temple, it is a quiet and reverent place.
The Washington Monument is visible from all parts of the park, but the most common view is from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial across the reflecting pool. The Capitol Building can be seen in the distance.
Next we walked to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. The wall of names reminds us that the cost of freedom is great.
At the opposite end of the reflecting pool is the World War II Memorial.
The Freedom Wall contains 4048 gold stars, each one representing approximately 100 American lives lost during the war.
Walking a little farther, we came to the base of the Washington Monument.
You can go to the top, but we didn't have time. From the ground you see the Jefferson Memorial on one side...
...and the White House on the other.
Soon it was time to leave, so we headed back to the car. It was a quick tour, but we made the most of it.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Weed or wildflower?
Thistles grow just about everywhere, I suppose. To most they are a weed. I wouldn't plant one on purpose or allow one to grow in my flowerbed, but I do happen to think they are beautiful.
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,'
"Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return."
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Before we drove to the Amish Country today, we stopped for lunch at G&M Restaurant for their famous Maryland Crab Cakes. They are generous in size (about the size of a softball cut in half) and loaded with lots of crab meat. A definite splurge on my low fat, low cholesterol meal plan, but if you're going to blow it, you might as well go all the way. They were delicious! The best I've ever had.
Leaving full and satisfied, we drove a couple of hours north to Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania, specifically to Labadie Looms.
On our last visit, we arrived after closing and could only peek through the window and be teased by the little bit we could see. This time we saw it all. Inside were wheels, looms, hand-dyed yarns, hand spun yarns and some nice commercial yarns too, plus a room devoted to rug hooking.
The owner was very friendly and helpful. A couple of ladies were there weaving on looms and we got to see how that process works. Very interesting. We didn't leave with a loom, but bought some roving (for me), two bundles of poonis (for John) and a book about weaving (John's too).
Then we quickly explored some of the other shops in the area. Most were tourist traps, but there were a few nice ones. If you are a quilter, this is your place.
Next we drove by some of the farms.
The peach trees are loaded with fruit.
And the corn is ready for picking in most fields.
I wish I could have taken pictures of the Amish people, but it just seemed too intrusive. And for the most part, I don't think they want their picture taken. Sometimes it is allowed though, because there are postcards and framed pictures for sale in all the stores. Click here to view some wonderful photos of Amish life by photographer Bill Coleman.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Basket Weave Rib Socks
I still work on them occasionally. They were started way back in May on our camping trip at Matagorda Beach. I think I will actually finish them this week, because I just acquired a few skeins of motivation.
Online Supersocke Cotton
Beach - Color
945, 946, 948
More summer socks to come!
Friday, July 13, 2007
I have a rose collections of sorts. Each year on our wedding anniversary, John and I used to drive to Brenham to buy one or two roses at the Antique Rose Emporium. We did this for several years and as a result, we have over a dozen different varieties of roses growing in our yard. Many are old roses or early hybrids. These types of roses are very hardy and can survive just about anything, even neglect. I know, because mine have been neglected quite a bit in recent years as my interests have moved from gardening to knitting. Still, they continue to bloom and flourish.
The best part about growing roses is cutting them and bringing their beauty and fragrance indoors. And that's just what I did after taking these pictures, being very careful not to disturb this eight-legged guy who has decided a rose bush is a good place to spin a web.
Yellow Garden Spider
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A hat designed by Susan B. Anderson is always a good choice for a baby gift. Isn't this one cute? I needed to knit two of these hats for twin girls born last month, but I ended up knitting three because I couldn't decide which size would be the best. I finally settled on the 6-12 month size over the 0-6 month size, since the babies won't need a warm hat until winter.
Book: Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease
Needles: US 7 16" circular and US 7 DPNs
The flower petals are knitted separately and then sewn on. It is suggested they be knitted in a heavier weight yarn than the hat to give them a puffy look, but I used the same yarn throughout. I found it very helpful to block each petal before sewing. Simply spritz with water, pin out, let dry, then arrange on hat and sew in place.
Cute as can be.
Monday, July 09, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, I drafted some of the gray mystery wool Amy gave me and began to spin it. My plan was to match it to the darker yarn I had spun earlier, since I plan to use them both in the same project.
What I spun turned out okay, but a lighter weight than I was aiming for and plied tighter than it should be. I was undecided how to spin the remainder, not knowing if I should match it to the dark yarn or to what I had just spun, so I set it aside to get ready for our trip to Colorado.
When I got home I was very anxious to spin up some of the new roving I had purchased on our trip. I got busy right away with the brown mix. I decided to spin the brown and the dyed sections together since that is how they were joined in the roving. I thought it would create a nice tweedy effect. I was in trouble right from the start. The fibers of this wool were shorter than I'm used to and it took some time to figure out how much twist to spin into it. Even after I felt I had it right, some of the fiber was determined to be stubborn and resist the twist. And the tweedy look I had imagined? It just turned out to be a mess.
I decided it would be much better to spin the brown and dyed sections separately. It wasn't too hard to divide the two. The brown was much easier to spin than the dyed. I guess the dying process changes the the texture of the wool some.
I like the plied results much better this way and will continue in this manner with the remaining roving.
Even though this wool was a challenge to spin, it did not discourage me. On the positive side, it made spinning the rest of the gray mystery wool a breeze. And this time the yarn I spun was just what I was hoping for.
I feel somewhat redeemed by this hank of homespun.
Friday, July 06, 2007
June is a good time to visit Colorado if you love wildflowers. I didn't even think about that when we left for our trip, because wildflower season here in Texas is much earlier in the year. Identifying the flowers became a fun activity for me and gave me something to do while John fished. In all, I found over 40 different flowers, many that I was not familiar with and do not grow in Texas. I promise not to share all them, but here are a few.
Tall Fringed Bluebells
Have a great weekend and don't forget to stop and smell the flowers every chance you get.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
I found a great shop in Colorado Springs called Table Rock Llamas Fiber Arts Studio. It's on the outskirts of town in the Black Forest area. Worth a drive for yarn or fiber.
There were three rooms full of yarn. Lots of good stuff. I didn't spend much time browsing the yarn though, because I was there mainly for the fiber. There was one room in the main building dedicated to fiber and more fiber in the studio area where classes are held.
Here's what I selected.
6 ounces of sheep wool dyed with natural dye extracts in shades of brown, peach and blue. The breed of the sheep is not known. The owner of the shop says the lady that supplies them with wool will only list the breed if she remembers which sheep it came from. If not, she just labels it "sheep".
6 ounces of 100% Colorado wool dyed with natural dye extracts in shades of peach. The label on this one says it was dyed with madder (rubia cardifolia) and the mordants used were 10% alum and 1% tartanic acid. Perhaps this will mean something to those of you familiar with natural dyeing. All I know is that I liked the color which is called Red Sandalwood. You can purchase natural dyes from Table Rock Llamas here.
5.6 ounces of sheep wool. This fiber was a real bargain at only $1 an ounce and I got it for less than that, paying only $5 for all of it. According to the owner, this is from the early days of their business when they used to process fiber on their own. Now they send everything off to a mill in Colorado. Since the early stuff is inconsistent and not prepared as nicely as what they sell now, it is discounted and used in beginning spinning classes. I think it will spin up just fine and I really like the color.
This shop is not called Table Rock Llamas for nothing. They manage a herd of llamas (15, I think). I just happen to be there on shearing day. This guy is getting his first haircut.
I didn't buy any llama fiber, but I did purchase a hand-tied fishing fly for John made from llama fur and guard hairs. The shop commissions a local fly-tier to make flies with the materials they provide. I chose one I thought would look tasty to a fish. It proved to be very lucky.