A Reward for Getting Back on Schedule

Last night when I finished the 6th tie in my Christmas tree skirt, I decided that I deserved a reward. I had been knitting diligently on this one project, trying desperately to get back on schedule. At the beginning of this year, I had mapped out a time line. If I knit one tie every month, I could complete the project by August – well in advance of Christmas. Two months ago, I fell off the wagon and didn’t knit any ties. This month, I made up for lost time and knit two ties.

Some people choose to reward themselves with chocolate. I eat chocolate everyday, so one piece isn’t a reward; it’s my daily alottment. Rather, I opted to play in my garden.

After coming home from our daily walk and chat with the neighbors, Jake and I spent the rest of the morning outside in the garden. I staked two tomato plants, laid more mulch, and planted Forget-me-not seeds underneath an Eastern Redbud tree, since the Columbine seeds never took. Jake laid in the shade and watched me work. He only moved if I was no longer in his line of sight.

My garden is growing!

By two in the afternoon, I decided that Jake was wiser than I. I was exhausted and Jake was dancing around me – full of energy. Waving a white flag, I went back inside the house.

I’ll leave you with one more brag picture: my new Mountain Laurel bush. It was purchased from my local gardener and planted this Spring.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Halfway to Christmas and a Tag

Knitting Dragonflies tagged me almost two months ago with a traditional 7-weird-facts MEME, but I was paralyzed with writer’s block. I couldn’t come up with any odd and semi-interesting facts about myself.

Mr. Puffy tagged me with a MEME last week. His format requires that I answer a survey. I can handle a survey.

Here are the rules for this MEME:

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was attending Christian Brothers University part-time and working at Wright Medical Technology full-time. I had moved to Memphis, TN because my sister was attending CBU. By this time, 10 years ago, she had moved to Texas with her fiance and left me alone. I suffered through one Thanksgiving by myself before I caved and moved back home to Pennsylvania.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
(1) Take Jake for our daily walk. (2) Take pictures of my halfway completed Christmas tree skirt. (3) Update the blogs I maintain. (4) Water my garden. (5) Complete a few housekeeping chores: laundry, dress bed, mop kitchen floor, etc.

3) Snacks I enjoy:
In general, I don’t eat snacks. Instead, I have a 2nd breakfast. Breakfast normally consists of fresh baked bread, mostly made by me, but sometimes I cheat and purchase breakfast rolls from our local bakery.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I am a firm believer that the more money you have, the more of an obligation you have to do right by your family members and your community. Yet, I don’t know that I would do much differently. We would live in the same house. Perhaps, I would have a larger garden and a larger yarn stash. Dan would retire from his job and we would travel more to visit family. I would give money to my sister with the knowledge that it wouldn’t make her happy, but it might ease her burdens. Then, I would follow the footsteps of my grandparents and set up trust funds for each of our nieces and nephews. Additionally, I would donate more money to our veterans and their families.
It goes without saying that we would be debt-free. Bye, bye mortgage.

5) Places I have lived:
Born in Montgomery, Alabama. Lived there for 6 months.
Moved to Colonial Heights, Virginia
Moved to Buffalo, New York
Moved to Akron, New York
Moved to Erie, Pennsylvania – We lived here for 5 years. It was the longest period I lived anywhere during my childhood.
Moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Moved to Sebastian, Florida
Moved to Horsham, Pennsylvania
Moved to Memphis, Tennessee – college years
Moved to Morrisville, Pennsylvania after becoming engaged to Dan
Moved to Secane, Pennsylvania (our 1st apartment)
Moved to Frazer, Pennsylvania (our last apartment)
Moved to Pottstown, Pennsylvania (our 1st and last home)
I am NEVER moving again.

6) Jobs I have had:
My 1st job was working as a cashier clerk at McDonalds.
Next – QA inspector at Wright Medical Technology.
Then, I moved to Pennsylvania and worked as a receptionist at The Development Center.
Within in a year, I was promoted to Exec Assistant. During the downsizing, I became responsible for the entire HR and Finance departments.
I resigned because the stress was affecting my health (migraines, weight loss, etc)
I took a less stressful job as a Senior Admin Assistant at Elsevier.
I resigned from Elsevier 2.5 years ago to focus on becoming a knitwear designer.

7) Bloggers I am tagging who you will enjoy getting to know better:
A Piper Knits: She knits and she plays the bag pipes – not necessarily at the same time. A pity she doesn’t live next door. Though I imagine she would become weary of me requesting her to play March of Cambreadth over and over again.
Katia: She is a fellow Pennsylvanian. She knits, spins, and gardens. But mostly, I just love to read the funny stories about her two daughters.
Karen: Like me, she designs everything she knits. Recently, she has self-published a bag design for the first time. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of things to come. 
The Long Ladies: This blog is a family affair.  What a talented family they are! They design all of their own sewing patterns from aprons to bags to rugs. It is fun to watch what their creative minds come up with next.
Jane of Glorious Hats: I have been a constant reader of Jane’s blog for over 2 years now. Her hats are works of art. Most recently, she designed a hat for Meri Greenleaf to wear at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

Memorial Day 2008

In memory of my grandfather who fought in WWII, in memory of Dan’s grandfather who fought in the Korean war, and in memory of the millions who fought for the freedom we hold so dear

Happy Memorial Day!

To my readers in the States, I hope you enjoyed the long weekend. I certainly did! I’ll be back tomorrow with knitting news and a tag.

When the Urge Hits You

I don’t know about you, but my creative urges typically hit me late at night. Living in a small town, most stores close between 5 and 7 pm, except for good, ole Walmart which stays open till midnight. Of course, the nearest LYS is a half hour drive away. So, the chances of me obtaining a 2nd spindle at ten o’clock last night were nil.

My 1st spindle is hard at work spinning the brown roving from Serenity Sheep Woolens into yarn.

Yet, I had to ply my 1st handspun ball of wool together. I had to.

So, I drug out my kitchen scale and attempted to equally divide the ball of yarn. (Note to self: Buy a digital kitchen scale).

Then, holding the (inexact) middle point in my left hand, I drew out an equal length of yarn from my now 2 balls of yarn. The laws of Physics took over. The yarn fell back onto itself, naturally plying together until it was completely balanced. I repeated these steps twice over until I had a length of plyed yarn measuring approximately 3 yards.

Next, I wound up the plyed yarn into a small ball. Retrieving the rubber band from my hair, I wrapped it around the ball.

Again, I drew out an equal length of yarn from each of the two balls. I pinched the yarns together at the point where they met the two balls of single plyed yarn. Then, I stood on chair, holding my hands out in front of me, and let gravity do the rest.

You’ll forgive the lack of process pictures. I didn’t think the blogland needed to see a picture of me in my pajamas with my hair in shambles. A scary sight if ever there was one.

Instead, I will show you a picture of my handspun, two-plyed yarn cake. The yarn is bulky, measuring about 3 wpi (wraps per inch).

If you look closely at the separate length of yarn that was left over once I had plyed the balls together (a reminder that my kitchen scale lacks precision), you’ll notice that the yarn is not tightly plyed.

This is not a mark against my resourceful (a.k.a. cheap) method of plying. Rather it is a mark against the lack of tension I spun into the single plyed yarn.

As Merike Saarniit taught in her Spinning for Knitting class, “If you want it [the yarn] strong and tighter, you’ll need more twist on your singles – NOT more twist in your plying.” I highly recommend her class, assuming they are still offering it. I took Merike’s class at Stitches East in Baltimore, Maryland two years ago.

The only technique she didn’t discuss in her class was pre-drafting. I’ve found that the more you pre-draft the fiber, the easier it is to spin. Plus, it gives you a more consistent yarn. As Windyridge says, “Preparation is key. What you put in – you get out.”

As to what my plans are for this newly plyed wool, I’m not exactly sure. Last night I fell asleep with cabled pillows dancing in my head.

My Prize from Tyger Lily

Karen of Tyger Lily hosted a Mother’s Day challenge on her blog earlier this month. Readers were to guess what she was going to do with the vintage embroidered handkerchiefs she had rediscovered while getting ready to move. My ambitious plan had her using the handkerchiefs to make a christening gown though all of her children are grown. Yep, I was wrong.

Nobody guessed correctly though, so she just threw our names into a hat and pulled one out. I was the lucky name drawn.

Look what I received.

Isn’t it lovely? It is a book cover using half of a vintage handkerchief coupled with flower fabric. It fits the book I had purchased for one of my close friends like a glove. The book cover is prettier than any wrapping paper I could ever find, so I’m leaving it on there.

Besides such pretty fabric will hoodwink a passerby into thinking that my friend is reading a romance book. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The book is titled A History of Murder by Colin Wilson. She has a passion for criminal psychology.

Thank you, Karen!

My 1st Attempt at Hand Spun Wool

I finished spinning up the last of my Corriedale roving this morning!

Here is a closer pic of how the spun wool looks.

After taking several deep breaths, I slowly started to pull the spindle apart.

It worked perfectly. The ball didn’t collapse afterward nor did the hook snag any wool when I pulled it through the middle of the ball.

Now, I don’t know what to do with it. I would prefer the finished product to be a two-ply yarn. Plying it will help balance the yarn and lend it a more consistent thickness. I started out spinning with my muscles and nerves tensed and finished very relaxed. If left single ply, the yarn will read like a book.

I had originally intended to ply it with the brown roving I received two days ago. Yet, that would leave me in the same predicament. I would need to search for something to ply the 2nd ball of brown roving with.

I could ply the wool back onto itself, but I’ve never done that with such a large ball. I’ve only tried the method with just a few yards.

Well, that settles it. I need to go buy more roving. Grin.

Lovely Packages of Wool

Look what came in the mail yesterday!

and

The skein is 100% merino wool in a lace-weight. It was hand-dyed by Yarn Chef. The color matches perfectly with the yellow paint in my living room. I plan to use the yarn to make a curtain for the window in our front door.

The last picture features 2 four-ounce roving of Shetland Wool from Serenity Sheep Woolens, Montana. It arrived not a moment too soon. I should finish spinning the last of my Corriedale roving tonight while watching my Phillies play the Jays.

Speaking of the Phillies, did you see Worthy (Jayson Werth) last night? He was on fire! He tied a Phillies record by hitting 8 RBIs (Runs Batted In) via 3 home runs with one being a grand slam. The only other Phillies MLB player to do so was Schmidty (Mike Schmidt).

A Frame, Another Tie and Baseball

I couldn’t think of a snappy sounding title. So, I just rattled off all of the things I want to tell you about.

First, I received a package today from Kodak. Inside were the two pictures of my garden I had printed out. Typically, I don’t print out any of the pictures I take with my digital camera. I upload them to our computer and then I forget about them. If it wasn’t for friends and family, I wouldn’t have any pictures in my photo album or on our photo wall.

Our home still has lots of empty space on the walls. Sometimes I wonder if people actually live here or if this is just a fortified tent for sleeping. 

In a desire to make this house feel more like a home, I printed out two of my favorite garden pictures. Of course, I realized after they arrived that I didn’t have frames to put them in. I had to steal one that had been holding a hand-painted flower. I couldn’t find a frame in my house suitable for the other picture. I hope to find something over the weekend.

In knitting news, I finished the 5th tie in my Christmas Tree Skirt this morning.

True, it is in desperate need of a good blocking, but I am pleased with how it is coming along. I still need to find a more flashy star for the top of the white trees. I should have leftover Christmas yarn, so I could knit 6 small stars out of it. That is unless I use the Christmas yarn to crochet around the edges. It might be wise to wait until the entire skirt is assembled before I make any embellishment decisions. I would prefer to not run out of yarn again. I had to place an order this morning from Knit Picks for more white wool. I should mention that had I stuck to my original design, I would have had enough yarn, but of course, I didn’t do that. I had to add points at the bottom of each tie.

Onto my baseball topic, I received my tickets for Phillies’ Stitch ‘n Pitch night!

Dan will be attending with me. Although I have asked him many times if he would like to learn how to knit, Dan only knows that the craft involves a lot of yarn and an equally large selection of needles. No, he will not be knitting. Instead, he will make himself useful by scoring the game and periodically retrieving any wayward balls of yarn.

Last year, I attempted to knit a scarf and watch the game at the same time. It was unbearably hot though. The yarn kept sticking to me, the needles and my clothes. What started out as a nice, loose gauge ended up into a tight, sticky mess. I plan to bring a project with me, but I may only end up using it for show-and-tell rather than something to knit on.

Growing a Garden

One of my very first gardening projects was to transfer a shrub I named “Two Flowers”, since only two clumps of flowers bloomed on its branches in the Spring of 2006.

It had been planted in the shade of a large conifer tree and a pin oak tree. It simply wasn’t getting enough sun. It took me all afternoon to dig it out of its shady home and transfer it to the other side of the house where it would get at least 6 hours of full sun. Halfway through the summer, I was certain I had killed it. Half of its foliage was dead. Two years later, I have a hard time recognizing it as the same bush.

This bush isn’t the only thing growing in my garden.

My onions are growing!

After being rained on continuously for two days, they decided to stick their heads out of the ground. These little green sprouts are all throughout my raised bed. I forget how many I planted. I think the answer is ‘a lot’.

A Block Party

I am hosting a Knitter’s block party in my basement today. It’s a BYOUFO (Bring Your Own UnFinished Objects).

Such parties are necessary when a Knitter has failed to block the items as they are completed, preferring to pile them in a drawer, unseen. When the drawer will no longer close or when knitting is interrupted because the bits need to be seamed together first, then a Knitter must grudgingly participate in a block party.

I have only accumulated three such pieces and can still close the drawer, but I don’t want to waste time knitting a second Happy Marriage lace block until I ensure the 1st came out to spec. Here is a pic of the Happy Marriage unblocked.

I will upload revised pictures on Monday after it has been blocked. But, can you see the design? If you recall, a Chinese symbol was my inspiration.

In related fiber news, I am approximately halfway through spinning my first 4oz of Corriedale roving. There have not been a lot of baseball games to spin in front of, since my team (Go Phillies!) is on the west coast right now. Games typically have been starting at 10 pm. I’m a loyal fan, but I also treasure my sleep. Hopefully, they will be home soon and I can get back to my spinning schedule.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!