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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Everything is Better When You Have a Good Stick

It's a gray day with a touch of sun breaking through here and there as the breeze moves the clouds that promise rain and the possibility of snow. It's a chilly morning walk, but even a chilly walk is made fun when you have happy dogs playing with whatever toys they can hunt up to play with.

There is still work to do today, but I'm starting it with a smile today.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring's Here, Despite the Snows

And my kids have to be out in it. All of it.
Alas, as much as I love spring it's the time of year for my car to smell of wet dog.
I say this like I don't love any time of year. There are weather patterns in certain places of the world I grow weary of but over all I love any beautiful day whether the beauty comes from sun, rain, or snow.
The other morning (I'm about to head out with them this morning) I remembered to take my camera and got a few shots of them at the park.
It was a beautiful warm day with a sun strong enough that the extra time I got stuck there due to an accident at the entry that I sun burnt my balding head. At least I got some pictures to make it worth it.
It's amazing to me in the spring days like these that there was snow on the ground just a week ago.
And this week the trees are starting to push out leaf buds that will probably burst by next week at this time. Several of our bushes around the house that are protected by the eves will have leaves in a couple days. I noticed when I got home from work last night that some of the buds were already open.
I was walking by some bushes that I have walked by time and time again I have never noticed it's little blossoms. Last year there were some of these on the back trail that had berries for the first time that any of us could remember so I think perhaps only once every several years or when conditions are just right they bloom and berry. This year is this ones turn.
A gentleman that runs down at the park with his little dogs called them buffalo berries but  have no idea what they truly are. They are very tart and of the bushes that had them last year they came in yellow and red.
And as usual, on the river yesterday was a day of birds. These little chickadees were adamant about not giving me good picture opportunities.
And the surprise tern was just as bad. I have never seen a turn on the river before but others have said they have.
I was glad to see a mourning dove as we took one of the back trails. These gentle and quietly calling birds are so pretty in their tones of blushed grays.
We have Eurasian Doves that are an invasive species that was feared to be pushing these beautiful quieter birds out but as far as I can tell, we still have many of these ones around as well. If you ask me the Eurasians ones are to stupid to compete too much. I've walked almost right up to them, and both our dogs and the cat have caught many who just sit there and watch them come. It's time for Darwin to catch up. As you can see from above this one did not wait for my dogs to get that close although I've broken the dogs from catching birds, but squirrels are still a temptation to hunt.
These birds normally travel in groups of two or in mid summer in family groups of a few so this one on it's own looking for nest materials and food gave me hope it had a mate somewhere sitting on a clutch of eggs.
The dogs and I also ran across the first butterfly of the year.
Sorry, it was in a thicket and they are truly terrible pictures. Like the Chickadees it seemed determined not to give me a good photograph.
This is one of those things that irritates me about the dog park. We have a certain group of people that insist on feeding the squirrels. Now, in your own yard and even on less used trails I wouldn't get horribly irritated by this but I think it's cruel to bait the squirrels, especially this time of year with the young dumb ones to the ground with a bunch of pointed eared, sharp nosed fanged squirrel hunters on the loose. Much less, take a good look at the squirrels at the dog park. The adults are so overweight it's somewhat disgusting because of this crap that is left for them. It's often bread, or peanuts, and a whole assortment of things like this corn that these squirrels don't eat in the wild. The summer die off is just around the corner. Every summer you find many of these fat squirrels just dead under the trees. Not from being preyed upon, just dead. I think it's heat stress and heart failure form being fat and it just gets worse with nicer weather and all the crooked old people that can get back to the river for the summer months.
After work last night I decided to play with the light box a bit more.
These are just some fiber samples I spun up. The middle stuff that is seen close here is a 50% merino, 25% bamboo, and 25% silk that has beautiful shine and spins smooth as can be. I must order some.
And here is the last finished yarn I worked on all knit up. You may recall I was working on the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief which is a triangular scarf. Not big enough to call a shawl.
It was a quick knit that I had blocking yesterday.
And today is all done and ready for gifting. You certainly can see the difference between the blocking area and the light box pictures, can't you?
And I'm back to working on some already started items. I have three things I really need to get off the needles before I can't stand to look at them anymore.
Well, I better get dressed and the kids out before I need to clean up for work. Hope you all have a great day. I'll leave the camera at home so I don't bore you all with pictures again tomorrow.

And bonus points to anyone who can tell me what this plant is we found while walking. It's obviously from last year.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Still Playing

I got a little bit of spinning done today. This is a fraction of what I have to do for the finished yarn. I'm thinking of making a 4 ply but am going to have to figure out what to do with the 4th single bobbin that won't fit on my three tier lazy kate as I ply.
Then of course I had to go play with my new light box. Why have a new toy if I'm not going to play with it? As for the spinning, this is going to be another long term project as I try to force myself back into knitting and tamping down the startitis.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bigger Is Not Always Better

Get your minds out of the gutter. I know what you were hoping for when you saw that title. Instead, I speak of this.
For the photographers in the bunch, you may recognize that as a light box. I got a wild burr up my bum today to make my own. I've been wanting one, and I keep looking at commercial ones available and have to admit I just couldn't see the cost being acceptable. So, I once again went perusing the internet for instructions to build my own, and this is what I came up with.
All of the instructions I found were using cardboard boxes, which like many of the preconstructed ones I have seen utilize in their construction. I thought that was rather flimsy and I had these wonderful sheets of styrofoam in the garage from a previous insulation project so I dug in. From what was supposed to be an hour long project and has now taken a good chunk of the day, a few rolls of duct tape (1.5 to be specific), 3 yards of interfacing, a good knife, and some not so great fore-planning to have this finished item now downstairs. Mind you, I found that I should have constructed it downstairs to begin with since when it was all put together the first time I then found I had to take it apart to get it downstairs. Damn 1950's male designers who didn't listen to their wives regarding house design.
It is quite sturdy, and kind of large but hey, it will suffice. The original instructions I ran with used tissue paper but I had some leftover thin interfacing that was used on a sewing project a couple years back that is a bit sturdier, and wont fray at the edges like a cloth that I originally thought about using. Oh, and let's not forget the velcro I used to attach the interfacing so it can be easily removed and replaced with other light filtering media if wanted.
And once I got it all together, I then had to play with it, right? Of course.
The first thing handy was some of last years pickles. My very last bottle in fact. It was a bit fiddly getting the camera to play nice but with some leftover cotton fabric and a couple cheap utility clip on lights I think it will work quite nicely. I will play with back drops and what not but I think on bad outdoor lighting or no lighting at all late at night whenI want to snap a shot, it will be quite nice.

Here's the latest knitting and spinning. That is the Apples For the Trees yarn I had plyed up this last week. I am knitting the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief.
Cindy and Dana, I didn't have the correct version I thought I did. Fat frigg'n fingers.
And some more of last weeks spinning. The big slubs were actually purposeful. Last post included pictures of this fiber outdoors which will probably still be my preferred lighting method but I had to play with the new toy, and with the lighting settings on even my little point and shoot digital I have to say the colors are very true. I'm happy even if irritated that it took me three hours to complete.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snowy Springs

That is, we got snow again. And unlike most people around here, I am still stoked about it. Considering we had temperatures almost in the 50's between snows, it's easy to remember that this is not an extended winter, just a spring with flurries. Unfortunately, we had no great picture opportunities on either yesterdays walk or this mornings. And let's be honest, I didn't take a camera with me. I did however get some good post walk pictures.

And that once again is Tucker who likes to sleep with his tongue sticking out, although here he has a bit of the land shark mouth going on. Silly dog.

So, I have not been knitting much these days. I pick the few projects up for a bit and am just not into them so they promptly get put back down. I get irritated with myself when I get in this state and work at fighting off the startitis that starts to edge in. I normally knuckle down and make myself wipe out some projects but now with spinning on my list of hobby's I'm finding that I let myself wander over to the wheel to distract myself.

Last week I got my Cephalopod Yarns fiber wiped out. Can't say I'm thrilled with nor was I in love with the fiber as I was hoping to be, but it's pretty and very soft in the end.
It's a chain ply three ply but to be honest I do not know what weight it is. I just realized that I haven't figured out it's WPI yet and simply can't care too much to go dig it out and do it. I was glad when it was all finished that the fiber that was neon pink spun out darker and more fuchsia and purple like the original online pictures made the unspun fiber appear. I thought the angora and merino would lend itself better to the chain ply and I'm still working on perfecting that technique.

Next I jumped back into my Under the Sea fiber from Huckleberry Knits.
I got the slub single done and plyed it with the thread single for my finished flame yarn. It too was an experiment to play with a new technique and though it is pretty I am not sure of my feelings. The above picture was while it was hanging to dry.
This morning's sun was too good to pass up so I got the yarn skeined up, WPI figured out and out for pictures.
The end product is nice, but I don't know if I will do anything with it or give it away. The polwarth played well and most of it did well though I wasn't familiar with this technique. I do have a couple slubs that failed to wrap well in the plying but oh well, what can ya do? I almost always rename my yarns from the color ways they come named. This one came as "Under the Sea" but I think I like the name "Where the Sea Otters Play" It truly is sea like colors and makes me think of the lower ends of the kelp waving in the darker waters where Sea Otters romp. hide, and eat urchins.

I also ended up with about 80yds of thread remaining on one bobbin.
With all the new plying techniques I got under my belt I decided that this months beautiful "Seek No Further" Combed Falkland Top should be just a simple 2 ply yarn. I broke the fiber into two hanks right in the middle for long color ways, then spun them out as thin singles, trying for something a little thicker than what my hands have been finding to be their natural gauge.

It as usual, was a beautiful spin. Scarlet does such a wonderful job prepping her fibers. After resting for a couple days I plyed them up together last night.
Now It's just sitting on my wheel setting the finished spin in before I skein it up tomorrow night and wash and hang it. I have to admit, the waiting between spinning sessions to let spin set is the part I have the hardest time with. I'm just not patient enough, but soon you will be seeing the finished product.

With all that said, I need to get showered, dressed for work and go pay that ticket before work.  Hope you all have a great day and if you have sun, get out and enjoy it.