My Phillies Won!

The Phillies are 2008 World Series Champions!

I am still on cloud 9.

We had the game on Fox, so we could watch the game live. Plus, we had the radio on 1210 am so we could hear Harry Kalas, our long time broadcaster, call the play-by-play. Harry has been broadcasting for as long as I can remember. When I hear his voice in Spring, I know the Phillies season has started. We have other broadcasters, but Harry is the best. He always sounds excited when our boys do well as if it’s the first baseball game he’s seen.

Afterwords, we opened our front door to see if anybody else was celebrating. Boy, were they! Fireworks were going off. You could hear people yelling ‘Go Phillies’ followed by cheers. Even Jake barked to add to the mayhem.

I’ll be sporting my new Philly gear next week. We just had to have t-shirts that said ‘2008 World Series Champions’. People might just have to pry the memorabilia from my dead, cold hands 50 years from now.

Please stop by Tracie’s blog to check out the Phillies logo she posted on her sidebar. Her and her Rays are such good losers.

PS for the knitters: The pictures of the cowl are going to be delayed a bit. I took several pictures yesterday, but they all came out blurry. I am no good at standing still.

Phillies Fever and some Knitting

Despite the miserable, wet and windy weather, the town is abuzz about the Phillies and the World Series. Dan and I have Phillies gear to wear about town and support our team. And now, Jake does too.

From Jake

I had ordered the new collar before the World Series started, but only received it yesterday. Presumably, I wasn’t the only dog owner who wanted to deck their best friend out in Phillies gear. Dan surmised that Game 5 was suspended and then delayed just so Jake could get his collar in time to help support our boys.
I smile everytime I see him in his new collar.

From Jake

During the World Series games, I have been getting some knitting done. For the first time in a long time, I am knitting something I didn’t design.

It is Kelly’s Rievaulx Cowl. If you click on the previous link, you’ll be able to read how Kelly was inspired to create this design plus you’ll be able to obtain the free pattern. Ravelry users can click here.

I chose to knit Kelly’s cowl for two reasons: (1) I needed an easy knitting project to keep my hands busy during the World Series games and (2) I wanted to support an up and coming knitting designer. Hopefully, this design will be the first of many designs to come from Kelly.

I made just one change to the pattern; I opted to double the length of the ribbing in Kelly’s Rolls and Ribs version. It’s cold in Pennsylvania this time of year.

Finished pictures coming soon.

World Series Wager

As you know, my beloved Phillies are in the World Series. I have loved and hated this team ever since high school, which is a good many years ago.

I am confident that my Phillies will win the Series. So confident that I gladly agreed to make a wager with a fellow blogger, Tracie of Fibers by Tracie.

Though I have never met Tracie, I have long regarded her as a friend. I have been reading her blog for over a year now and have come to know her well. I came across her blog on the day that she resigned from her day job and decided to devote her time and energy into becoming a crochet designer. We have shared tips, tricks, what-not-to-dos, and encouraging words.

I am sad to say that Tracie is rooting for the wrong team in the World Series. So, she lives in Florida. That is not a good enough excuse to root for the Tampa Bay Rays. Everybody should be rooting for my boys.

The past few days I have been leaving ‘Go Phillies’ comments on her blog and she has reciprocated with leaving ‘Go Rays’ on my blog. Grrr. So, a wager was set.

If the Phillies win, which of course they are going to, Tracie will display the Phillies logo prominently on her blog’s sidebar.

Should pigs fly and the Rays actually win, I am obligated to post the Rays logo on my blog. The logo will remain up for one month. A stomach-churning thought that is. Let’s not think about that. My boys are going to win – by gosh!

Apple Jelly before a Trip

I made apple jelly last night.

I had found a recipe for it in perhaps my favorite recipe book: Home Made by Sandra Oddo. This book has saved my pride more than once. You see, I have the will of a wet noodle when it comes to fresh, local produce. I typically buy enough to feed a small army. Occasionally, Dan has asked me what I plan to do with all the produce I just brought home. My answer involves listing several childhood recipes, blindly certain that I will use it all and might even need more. Then, I start to root through my traditional recipe books and am slightly unnerved that all the recipes only call for 1 or 2 pieces. I’m staring down pounds of the stuff. Home Made has a wide selection of recipes for getting rid of a lot of produce in one fell swoop.

Admittedly, I did not follow Oddo’s recipe for Apple Jelly. Instead, I cheated. I used pectin. It’s so fool-proof that it hardly makes sense not to use it. After 10 minutes of processing in my canning pot, the jelly was done.

My next stove, if I can ever bear to part with this oldy-but-goody, will have an area large enough for my canning pot. Right now, the pot straddles two burners. Worse, it has stained the white coating. I’ve tried everything to get it off. How the original owner managed to keep the stove in immaculate condition and I ruin it in a short 3 years is beyond me.

On a personal note, I’ll be out of town for the next few days. Dan and I are headed down to Talbott, TN. Unfortunately, his grandfather passed away earlier this week. 

Don’t forget to root for the Phillies. Game 1 starts tonight!

Knitters at a Brewfest

On Saturday, I attended a brewfest at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

This is a picture of the mural that was in the World Cafe. It reminded me of the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

It was an Oktoberfest, featuring nothing but German beers.

I made it my mission to try each and every Oktoberfest style beer. By the end of the afternoon, I had decided that the following were my top 3 favorites:

1. Beck’s Oktoberfest
2. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest
3. And, of course, the classic: Spaten Oktoberfest

While waiting in line for the fest to start and while meandering through the tables of beer, I ran into two other knitters. Both picked me out as a knitter by my Ravelry buttons.  

The 1st knitter told me about a new knitting store that she found in Newtown, PA. I’d share a link to the store if I could find it, but no such luck. She said it was called Slipped Knot. Has anybody heard of it?

Edited to say that I found information on the new store. The name of the store is Slip Knot.

Slip Knot
3719 West Chester pike
Newton Square, Pennsylvania 19073

The 2nd knitter, Trish (this time I got her name), mentioned that she attended the Phillies Stitch-n-Pitch for the past two years. It was she who had knit a Phillies baseball cap. Not only did I know exactly which hat she was talking about, I had featured it on my blog 2 years ago, I told her how I had searched for the cap this past year but didn’t see it. Trish explained that she had given it to her daughter to wear, but her daughter was sitting in the bleachers up above us. Next year, Trish vowed to keep the hat herself and at least wear it for a few minutes. I’ll be looking for it. It’s such a fabulous hat!

Speaking of baseball, my Phillies are going to the World Series to play the Tampa Bay Rays. It starts on Wednesday. I am SO excited!

Story of Double Happiness

Do you remember this pillow front I had blogged about earlier this year?

From Double Happiness

The yarn weight was too heavy for the design. Plus, I had made a slight error in the portrayal of the Chinese character meaning Double Happiness. So, I revised it.

Here is the new and improved version:

From Double Happiness

My original plan had the back side of the pillow being an exact copy of the front version. The plan was scrapped for three reasons. (1), I hate knitting something twice, which is yet another reason why I don’t knit socks. (2), more important than my silly quirks, the plan didn’t allow for the removal of the pillow insert. (3), I wanted a way to embellish the pillow after having such a blast decorating the tree skirt.

The redesigned back with ribbons woven through the eyelets:

From Double Happiness

As you may remember, this entire crazy idea of mine came about from a framed Chinese paper cutting art piece that my cousin bought for Dan and I.

From Double Happiness

All I did was take the Chinese symbol and turn it into lace.

The pattern is now available on my website, on Ravelry and on Samantha in Stitches website:

Swatch for Knee Warmers

The ball of yarn on the left is Manos del Uruguay (100% wool), gifted to me by my MIL.
The ball of yarn on the right is Peruvian Tweed (100% alpaca), purchased from Sophie’s Yarns in Philadelphia three or four years ago.

The bottom half of the swatch was knit in what is supposed to be Diagonal Ribbing from Barbara Walker’s 1st Treasury book.
Go ahead, say it. …. It looks ghastly, right?
I couldn’t agree more.
I have no idea how she made the diagonal ribbing look so pretty in the book. No idea at all.

The top half of the swatch is the winner: Fisherman’s Ribbing. It has all the characteristics that I wanted: elasticity, warmth and simplicity.

I had never knit Fisherman’s ribbing before and thus had a minor panic attack when trying to follow Walker’s instructions. Her instructions told me to P1, then K1 but into the stitch below. Repeat till end. Simple enough. Except after executing the K1 into the stitch below, I was puzzled as to what would happen with the stitch on the needle. Should I keep it on the needle? I tried doing just that for a few stitches, but it didn’t seem right. Then, I went in search of an online tutorial. I found one: Lana Grossa’s Knitting Tip. In the 3rd paragraph, my concern was addressed: “The stitch above is then more or less unravelled and forms a new loose stitch.” When performed correctly, it actually looks like two stitches are sitting on top of the newly knitted K1.

You may notice that halfway through the swatch the stitches start to slant to the left. I did that on purpose. I really loved the way the diagonal ribbing looked in the book. Knit on circular needles, it would look stunning – a real eye pleaser. Plus, it would keep the pattern interesting. In order to accomplish the diagonal slant, I had to resort to using a cable needle on every K1 stitch. Two rows is all I managed. It was a bit too interesting for my taste. Plus, it reduced some of the elasticity. Fooey. No diagonal stitches. Maybe I can design a thick border at the top and bottom of the warmers instead.

I’ve also decided that I will not be using Manos as the main yarn. It’s thick and warm enough, but it’s only a single strand. These knee warmers have the potential of being well-worn. Additionally, I really wanted to use my own 2-ply, handspun wool. It would make the gift more personal. I still face the problem of not having enough handspun wool to make 2 knee warmers. What’s a girl to do? Exactly what any girl or fiber lover would do – go buy more. Yep, I did. It’s already en route.

Prepping Alpaca without Tools and a Tag

A question was posted on Ravelry asking how to prep fiber without a carder. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I just use my hands to prep alpaca fleece. (I haven’t tried to prep sheep’s wool yet). However, I’ve never taken the time to write down all the steps and take pictures along the way. I finally did this weekend.

This is how Buddy’s fleece looks before it is washed. Buddy is the blind alpaca that resides at my local alpaca farm. If you look closely enough, you can see the tips are matted.

Before I even wash the fleece, I first comb out the matted tips using Jake’s flicker brush. I also take the time to pull out all the second cuts and the large bits of vegetable matter, such as straw. The pile in the middle of the picture is all the junk I managed to pull just from this small section of Buddy’s fleece.

Then, I wash the fleece in warm water with a little bit of soap. Afterwards, I rinse it 2-3 times or until the water runs clear of grime and soap. This is what the fleece looks like after it is washed.

Next, I pull a small chunk out of the washed fleece.

From the small chunk, I remove 1 lock of alpaca.

Now starts the fun. I tease the fibers open width-wise.

Then, I pinch the ends of the fibers in each of my hands. Pulling gently but firmly, I coax the fibers completely part.

Next, I stack the fibers on top of each other and repeat the last step 2-3 times or until the fibers no longer cling to one another. The fibers should resemble a cloud.

Finally, I gently roll the fiber cloud down my thigh until it resembles a mini roving. It’s like rolling a cigar.

I repeat these steps until I have completely filled my recycled stationery box.

To spin the mini rovings, just grab one and start drafting it. When you get to the end of the mini roving, join in a new one.

OK. I admit that my technique does take a while to accomplish. You can make a batt on a drum carder in the amount of time it take me to make 10 mini rovings, but you won’t have nearly as much fun!

Meri of Elbit Blog bestowed a Brilliant Blog award on me. Thank you so much, Meri!

In accepting this award, I agree to:

1. Display the logo and link to the one who awarded it.

2. Nominate at least 7 blogs to receive the award.

3. Add links to those 7 blogs to my blog.

4. Leave the nominees a message that they have been nominated to receive the award.

And here are the 7 blogs I nominate:

Mr. Pooper’s Day Out
Mrs Petersson Knits
Knitting Knoobie
Hadley Gets Crafty
Today We Are….
Tom’s Astronomy Blog
Daily Fiber Adventures with WildHare

Finding the Perfect Yarn for a Project

Fall is here and with it the cooler weather. Though I haven’t turned the heat on yet nor have I burned wood in the fireplace, I imagine it’s only a matter of time. Yesterday, I went in search of my wool socks for it’s my feet that are the first thing to get cold on my body. Dan, ever the good husband, bought me a foot warmer many years ago. I cart it all over the house in the wintertime.

Dan, on the other hand, rarely complains of cold feet. It’s his knees that give him the most trouble. They are first thing to get cold and last thing to warm up. Last year, I attempted to return the favor of the foot warmer by purchasing him knee warmers. I bought him two separate sets. Neither worked very well. The first set was made of cotton and though they were soft, they were constantly falling down from his knees. I should have know, since cotton isn’t very elastic. The second set was made of polyester and tinsel. They were scratchy and much too tight.

I had a bright idea last night while unpacking all our winter clothes. I will knit Dan a pair of knee warmers. They will need to have the following characteristics so as not to make the same mistakes as the ready-made ones:

  1. Next-to-skin soft
  2. Elastic properties but not too tight
  3. Warmth but ability to breath
  4. Durable since they will get a workout 4 months out of the year
  5. In a manly (boring) color

Based upon these requirements, I decided wool would be best. I eliminated Merino though due to its shorter staple, tendency to pill, and lack of durability.

I went rooting through my stash (Ravelry link). Insisting that the yarn be wool, but not Merino, eliminated the lion’s share of it. Then, I took out the brightly colored wool: Hand-dyed red and gold wool from Maine and Crystal Palace Yarns Taos. Then, I eliminated the not-so-soft wool: all my Briggs n Little (I can’t wait for the Soft version to come out) and Reynolds Bulky Lopi. Finally, I ruled out the Shetland I handspun, since I simply don’t have enough yardage.

I was left with 5 choices.

From left to right:
Manos del Uraguay Wool
Jamieson Shetland Marl
Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed
Cascade 220
MIL Brown wool, Hand-spun

Yardage concerns plague with a Jamieson and Cascade. I only have 1 skein of each. Though I have two balls of Jo Sharp, it equates to less than one Cascade.

So, that leaves me Manos del Uraguay and MIL Brown wool.

I love my husband, but I cannot use the MIL Brown wool for something he is going to wear underneath his clothes. If he would promise to wear them out in public with a pair of shorts, I might consider it. I’m not being selfish. OK, maybe I am. In my defense, there is a reason for it. This yarn was given to Dan’s mother by her Mother-in-law. When the MIL could not locate a pattern or project worthy enough for the $100 handspun wool, she gifted to my Mother-in-law. My MIL had the same problem. There isn’t enough yardage to make a sweater. There would be yarn leftover from a scarf. Though she considered making a scarf and hat ensemble, it just didn’t seem special enough. The yarn deserved better. I was thrilled when she gifted it to me. So, no, Dan is *not* wearing this yarn around his knees. I have dreams of a textured stole.

Process of elimination leaves just Manos. I should be happy that I found something. Last night I was certain that I had nothing at all in my stash.

Of course, I am a bit remiss that I don’t get to go yarn shopping.

Does anybody else have such trouble when searching for the ‘perfect’ yarn?

Top Whorl Question and Buttons

I had promised to give my opinion on my new top whorl spindle.

The experience was so awful compared to my Jenkin’s Turkish spindle that I must question whether or not I used the top whorl correctly. Seriously.

Before I go any further, I want to stress that by no means do I believe that my bad experience has anything to do with Dragoncraft’s craftsmanship. Dragoncraft makes beautiful and well-loved spindles. Their feedback is 100% positive. This, of course, makes me believe that the problem does indeed lie close to home.

I chose to spin Shetland roving on it. It had spun up so quickly and evenly on my Turkish that I felt it would provide a fair and accurate report on the top whorl’s ability. I used Red Heart’s Super Saver as a leader (I’ll be darned if I’m wasting my good wool on a leader strand). Then, I started to draft and spin the Shetland. Rolling the whorl on my thigh or flicking it hard with my fingers produced a fast and balanced spin. Yet, the spin didn’t last long.

There is a clause about the top whorl I bought. I knew when purchasing this top whorl that since the whorl was not located at the top of the shaft, the spindle would wobble at bit until I started adding spun yarn underneath the whorl.

I should write a 2nd clause about my lack of patience. In 10 minutes flat, I was frustrated and looking for my tin whistle (to blow off some steam). Needless to say, not a lot of spun wool got wound underneath the whorl.

OK. Clauses aside, the spindle didn’t just wobble a bit when spun slowly; it wobbled like it was 3 sheets to the wind, swinging like a pendulum. It couldn’t hold a slow spin any better than a drunk person. I had read that a top whorl could spin fast or slow. True, it was designed for speed, but any spindle should be able to spin at any speed. Right?

So, after all my rambling, here’s my question: Does a top whorl spindle typically wobble when spinning slowly?

If the answer is Yes to the above question, the top whorl is going to be looking for a new home. I prefer a long, slow spin. There is often a baseball game going on when I am spinning and half of my attention is pinned on the game. (Which by the way, we lost last night.)

I’ve already ripped the Shetland off the top whorl and put the spindle aside, focusing on my Turkish which is spinning an alpaca and Shetland blend.

From Spinning

Spinning aside, let me show you the buttons I received in the mail.

Although I wish there were such things as button fairies that randomly sent buttons in the mail to people who could appreciate them, these buttons were received because of a swap I participated in. Mandy of SewSpun hosted the button swap last month. The Purple Lady was my swap parter.

I signed up for the swap because, to be honest, I have a lot of buttons. I thought it would be so neat to give away some of my collection in exchange for … more buttons. It made perfect sense to me.