Thursday, July 29, 2010

Repaired Ashford Loom

The replacement for the damaged piece came in the mail in record speed and I was able to systematically take the loom apart and put it back together again without any problems.  
I had to go out and buy a new screw to match the one I already had (from the undamaged side) and once installed, I warped the loom.
Well, I attempted to warp the loom.  I warped from front to back after getting the book Warping All By Yourself by Cay Garrett.  I discovered that I did not measure and use the warping board correctly.  Instead of having a 2 yard warp before I got to the cross, I instead measured 2 yards to the cross and back which unfortunately resulted in a 1 yard warp.  You can see that I have hardly any length.
I decided to leave it until I get back from vacation and use the green yarn for the warp and the brown pieces for the weft.  Not a catastrophe but it could have been better.  I took a pattern out of my Handweaver's Pattern Directory of 2/2 twill.  With the brown and green, it should go with anything in my house.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Great American Apparel Diet

I subscribe the the Unclutter blog and there was a post about The Great American Apparel Diet and 6 Items or Less.

It sounds intriguing to not buy any "new" apparel.  I'm thinking that undergarments don't count because when you need them, you need them.

The 6 Items or less in a month seems extreme until you see that, "There are exceptions that don’t count towards the six: undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer jackets (rain slicker, outdoor jacket), shoes and accessories. You can get multiples of the same item for laundry purposes, but different colors count as separate items. Or you can tell us to stuff it and make your own rules."

My start date - August 1, 2010.  No "new" apparel purchased until August 1, 2011....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weaving on a Cricket

I had some extra yarn left over from another project and decided to weave a little scarf on my Cricket loom.
By following a you tube video, I was able to direct warp the loom and it was pretty simple to start weaving.
I did two patterns since I had more blue yarn than yellow and still did not use all of it up.

Progress on the Bears Scarf

I have made some serious progress on the Bears scarf for my Aunt.  I have finished 3 of the 6 bears and the knitting is going pretty well.  I had to unknit for a little bit when my count was off, but it is a much faster knit the second time around.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Progress on Cold Sheeping

Made a bit of progress on my cold sheeping.  I was able to finish my bamboo Ishbel which used about 103 yards.  Then I was also able to finish Lillian's alpaca fetchings which amounted to another 102 yards.  
I even got the cabled blanket that I had started in 2007 and finally seamed the pieces up.  That used up 1,576 yards.
Balance of yarn stash from June - 111,484 yards.  Knitted up this month - 1,781.  Balance at the end of July - 109,703 yards.  At least the trend is going down instead of up.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

My New Ashford Loom

I was skulking through Ravelry and saw a for sale post on Ashford looms.  When I clicked the post, I saw that Dawn who is in Wisconsin had a few Ashford table looms for sale.  The prices were more than half off of new and I was excited when I saw they were 8 harness looms.  I sent her a quick note and she asked that I call to discuss.  It seems that she acquired quite a few from a store that was going out of business and she had one with a couple of flaws for $325.  I jumped at that and in the post it came.  Dawn had to spend another chunk of money to ship since her quote to me was low and I really appreciated that.

It arrived by UPS in the evening and when I opened everything up, I found that there was a mishap and the wood where a screw went through for the reed arm had broke off so the screw had no place to go.
After consulting with Dawn, she was kind enough to forward information for replacement as well as refunding the amount of the replacement.  After talking with Fox Glove Fibers - the US Ashford distributor, the piece was ordered and will be coming in a few days.  This is not a true 8 harness since it has the 4 harness plus 4 set up.  You can see by the two parts of the housing.
I got a copy of the instructions for adding a 4 to a 4 so I'm set when the piece does arrive next week.  I'm excited about doing some serious weaving with 8 harnesses....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Quilt is Done!

After retrieving the quilt from Marita - the machine quilter, Val instructed me on how to make the binding from left over fabric and after measuring, drawing straight lines and sewing each strip together, the next step was to press and sew.

It took a little practice and some unsewing to get the corners right but everything that the machine could do was done.

Next came the blind stitching by hand - this is done so you can't see the raw edges and the binding looks seamless.  I haven't sewn by hand in a long, long time and after working on it for the past 5 days, I think I have bruises on my fingers from where the needles continued to poke.

Finally, it is done and it looks pretty professional if I do say so myself.  Here the the final product.  All that is needed is some washing to make the quilt puffy and it is ready to go to its new home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bamboo Towels

So I had been recently seduced by bamboo....while at the San Diego Fair this year, I saw a vendor with bamboo towels, robes, and socks.  I know - it is a weird combination.  I was interested enough to go up and touch everything and the guy was very helpful and explained that these towels were 4 times more absorbent than cotton towels.  The feel of the towels were slicker than cotton but it had a nice hand.

A set of one bath towel, one hand towel, and a face cloth was $45.00.  I thought it was in the range of the designer towels that I had purchased in the past and since I'm all about trying new things, I plucked down my money and bought a set in a lovely light blue color.

I was told to wash the towels in the usual manner in cold water and then lightly dry the towels.  Since they are super absorbent, they will continue to absorb the moisture from the dryer.  After the wash and a little drying, I hung up the towels and found that the drape was much looser than cotton towels.

After using them for a few days, I have to agree that they are more absorbent and are lighter even after wet.  The feel is quite a bit different but overall, these are a winner.  I guess that I will have to look for the vendor next year at the San Diego Fair and get another set.

Awesome Peaches

Picked up my CSA offering this week and in the box were three large yellow peaches just ripened.  I had to eat one right away and it was juicy - the kind the runs down your chin, super sweet with just the right amount of peach flavor.  

The rest of the box contained - Avocados, Carrots, Cilantro, Corn, Lettuce, Oranges, Radishes, 
Spring Mix, Tomatoes - Grape, Tomatoes - Heirlooms, and Yellow Squash.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dyeing Yarn at Home

Since I agreed to make a scarf for my Aunt as a trade for a three panel screen with rice paper inserts depicting Chinese brush painted fish on one side and a bamboo forest on the other, I had to get cracking on preparing the scarf.  I talked with my Aunt this weekend and we decided that she would paint the three panel on each side as one picture broken into the panels instead of individual scenes per panel which would be easier, but I know not what I'm talking the yarn.....

Since the pattern is called Bears on Glacier with illusion knitting of white bears on a variegated blue background, I needed two skeins of yarn - one in an off-white and one in a variegated blue.  The original pattern came as a kit from Alaska and is not available for on-line ordering so I had to buy yarn.  See post Unexpected Sale for the result of my first attempt at this pattern.

My fiber dealer, Fluffysgarden was able to purloin some superwash merino in ecru for me.  It came in 2 large skeins weighing 19 ounces together.  I separated one of the skeins into two sections about equal weight and soaked one skein in water with a little soap.

After squeezing out the water, I laid that yarn in a prepared tray of plastic wrap ready to absorb dye.  I mixed three colors of acid dyes in the color ways - brilliant blue, sky blue, and sea breeze.
These are the color dots next to the left over yarn from the original kit.  I then layered on the dye and doused the entire pan with vinegar.
After wrapping it up like a burrito and placing the bundle in a steamer for 35 minutes, I let the entire bundle cool overnight to room temperature before rinsing.

The next day, I unbundled the yarn and set it in a pan with cool water for rinsing and was happy to discover that all the dye exhausted (clear rinse water).  There was no color bleed from the rinse and after a few dunkings to rid the skein of vinegar smell, it went outside to be hung for drying.
Here is the comparison between the newly dyed skein and the original variegated yarn that came with the kit.  A pretty close match if I do say so myself!
Next it is on to the knitting.  I may be pretty ambitious to plan to finish this by the end of August.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aidan AKA Peanut

After much sadness at the Miller household, a new spirit has invaded the house.  His name is Aidan also known as Peanut, a 4 month old boy.  He is pretty adorable with very big ears, big paws and long legs.  He is also a big talker and you can hear him purring a room away.
He has a nice room by himself now so Bear can adjust to a new upstart in his world.  So far, it is touch and go with each going to their respective corners.  Bear makes a point to hiss at the door of the newbie's room as he walks down the hall.
Peanut has to make do with his new stuffed friend "Kitty."  He is a wiggle worm and will not hold still for photos.  This is one with Val after about 6 takes.  Notice the stranglehold.
So instead, I tried a new thing - video on my Olympus camera.  Here is the video of him playing with a mouse controlled by Val.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

20 Year Anniversary

So I have completed 20 years of Federal service as of June 17.  I got a Bulova watch and a crystal vase with my anniversary date.  Boy time does fly!

San Diego Fair

Jan and I volunteered at the San Diego Fair on its last day by performing a demonstration of spinning in the Agribarn.  We had a lot of interest and questions.  I think we were able to educate some youngsters and not so much youngsters about the craft.
We then had some lunch.  I was sadly lacking in food stuff that was portable and could stay cold so I had to break down and buy a hot dog.  Just a plain hot dog was $5.50.  My stomach was churning looking at all the food offerings where everything in sight was deep fried.  We also stopped and had a chocolate brownie for $2.00 and it was delicious but too large for a single sitting.  Half of the brownie came home with us.  Jan had coffee with hers and I downed some water with mine.

We also shopped some before heading to the San Diego Creative Weavers Guild booth for our second volunteer gig.  I bought some bamboo towels which are suppose to be 5 times more absorbent than cotton.  It was a pretty light blue color which matches my bathroom exactly.  I looked for the car lumbar inserts but none were to be found.  It was amazing the things that were for sale.

Jan and I spent our time in the Guild booth arm twisting people who walked by into learning a new craft called Kumihimo which is a Japanese braiding technique.  We gave out most of the braiding disks and I was hoping that in the future, people will be walking about the fair braiding as they go.

I also checked out the displays and saw my two entered items.  Here are the photos.  I had a small first prize ribbon sticker on both and both tags also had a little sticker with a $ sign.  
I'm not sure what that means but I was notified by the Fair that I won an award from the Silvergate Lacers.  Sadly I missed the award ceremony so I will have to wait until I get my items back before I see what I won.

Starbucks Knitting Group

I meet with a group of cool women at the Starbucks close to my house.  The group is called Infinite Knitters and it meets every monday night at 6:30.  There are some comfy chairs where we can sit, knit, drink, eat, and chat.
I had missed the group since I have been traveling for a while and it was quite nice to catch up with what everyone was doing.

CSA This Week

Avocado, Beets, Blackberries, Cabbage Red/Green, Carrots, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Radishes, Spring Mix, and Zucchini-Gold

Sunday, July 4, 2010

June Supperclub

Supper club was held at Amy's house.  The menu consisted of Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa; Orzo, Radish & Chive Salad; Tomato, Red Onion & Basil Bruschetta, Zucchini Soup, and Raspberry Spiked Chocolate Brownies.

The weather was nice so we had our appetizer outside on the patio.
Most of the meal was wonderful, however the dessert was definitely lacking.  Since I made it and did not have the correct pan, I went ahead and made individual muffin sized brownies.  The taste was very chocolaty but the texture was very strange.
Zucchini Soup
Orzo Salad
Pork Tenderloin and Mango Salsa

Amy's husband was the grill master and did an excellent job.  The pork was tasty and moist.

CSA Bounty

Good selection from the box this week.  Avocados, Red Beets, Blueberries, Blackberries, Carrots, Kale, Grapefruit, 
Parsnips, Spring Onions White, Oranges, Pulots, Radishes, Spring Mix, and Zucchini.

Goodies from BSG

Spin group met up at Juliblue's newly remodeled house.  All the wood refinishing is very lovely as is the new rooms, cabinets, and lighting.  It was a cool day for July.  We had spinach and cheese empanadas, a beet salad, a rice dish by Janit, and hummus and pita from Fluffysgarden.

I planned on bringing banana muffins from the Flexitarian Foodie's blog and baked them the night before at 11:30 pm.  The house was smelling really good and I left the muffins in the pan on the stove to cool overnight.  In the morning, the pan was discovered on the floor and some crumbs were visible on the stove.  What a disaster!  No food for dogs today, no exceptions!

Fluffysgarden and Juliblue were exceedingly nice to buy me some Pygora fiber from Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR.
It is a lovely light green color and ultra soft.  It came with a little vial of Peppermint scent.
I can't wait to spin some of this up and see if my mohair curse will be broken.  Goat fiber + me = itchiness!