Monday, September 08, 2008

I love red

Aside from being one of my "new" favourite colours, red is the colour first-prize ribbons, and the colour of my favourite new sweater, a slightly adapted Mr. Greenjeans by Amy Swenson, in a gorgeous cherry-red shade of Louet's Riverstone. It's my birthday sweater, and one of the few pieces for myself I purposely diverted from the UFO basket and put on the fast track because I had a deadline.

I made myself put it in the Heritage Park Fall Fair for judging this past weekend.
And...against some very storied competition from the Make 1 yarnies (and others!), I managed to place with a beautiful Third-place ribbon.

Plus I got nice comments.

And a fabulous, award-winning sweater I get to wear this fall!
I am going to wear it with the ribbon attached.

Here's a pic of us Yarnies collecting our "prize money" - I won $4.00 and we all together won $14.50! We got to go to the Bank to collect! All four of us won ribbons (and some fun cool prizes); Leanne for her blanket and sweater, Marilynn for her shawl (but of course!) and Michelle for her mittens and socks!

As a side note, I also won two ribbons (one First Place and one Best of Section rosette) for one of my favourite all-time photographs. It's in black & white (I'm a bit of a purist) and is of one of the older Heritage Park staff who had a special relationship with the piece of farm machinery he was working with during the harvest and threshing.

Like the projects from the UFO basket, I managed to divert this image away from one of my many Storage Boxes, discovered the B&W negative (which I hand-developed years ago), and had it re-printed. Back in my access-to-darkroom days, I had hand-printed only two prints of this image, with some lovely dodging & burning and gave the really good one to my very first Photography Mentor years ago as a thank you, and kept the lesser print in my portfolio for years. It was time to properly print & frame it! I'll put a pic of it up soon. (Can you put up a pic of a pic? Hm.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Questions, questions.

And answers. Off to the right, you'll see my answers to a very thorough questionnaire prepared for the HHH Hootennany fibre/yarn swap. So I have bared the "fibre of my being" (pardon the pun) for those who wanna know more.

It's also good to get it down - interesting to read about myself and see my responses. I wonder what I'll think when I look at it again in a year!

And...much like Bockstark - I have to admit I like reading everyone else's "weird information" answers, too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hoping for the Hootenanny to begin!

That would be in reference to the "Handspun Hootenanny" for the uninitiated. Courtesy of Ravelry (much like Facebook but for Fibre Fiends, where I'm known as "birchblanket"), there's a group who got together to do a spun-fibre swap.

It's called the "Hush-Hush Handspun Hootenanny" (HHHH for short) and this party's gettin' started SOON.

Check out this hip-happy blog and see what we crazy fibre people are up to.

The deal is this: We get a fibre buddy from somewhere Out There, based on those of us who signed up. By July 7, we spin somethin' up for our bud, about 4 0z. worth, and as a present, send 'em about 4 oz. of roving we love. And they do the same for us, by August 9.

Too much fun!

Kinda like those "Surprize" bags we used to get as kids, hanging on the clips at the gas station convenience stores. But more fun. Less candy. Depending on your definition of "candy". And because we all fill out a leetle questionnaire, we might even get something we LIKE.

The pic here is my brand-new hand-dyed Polworth roving I did the other day at the Sheep Creek Weavers' annual Dye Day - and my buddy's gonna get some.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Showin' off

Yeah, I'm pretty happy with myself.

(Take a good long look at these fabulous spinning creations of mine -on the left, Green Goddess, made with lovely handpainted blue faced leicester from my pal at Spinknit, and on the right, my very own hand-painted Solar System yarn made through the Sheep Creek Weavers annual Dye Day last June.)

At least, I'm really REALLY trying to tell myself I'm really great and happy with what I do.

A peek at my Ravelry page (for Ravelers, I'm "birchblanket") shows SO many WIPs it's a little daunting to think about. After the Christmas Knitting Like Crazy time - which ended in February - I've been working on Objects of Obligation (which I wouldn't do if I didn't want to, but they end up meaning my personal knitted wardrobe suffers) for a pair of to-be-born twins, plus some samples for some classes I wanna teach...

And I'm about to cast on a lovely Mr. Greenjeans in Louet's new gorgeous Foxy Red in Riverstone yarn (awesome quality for the price, I might add - about fifty bucks for a wool sweater that's not scratchy? Wowee. I love Make 1 Yarn Studio for Amy's design and Sandra telling me I deserved it for my birthday, which I did...)

But in preparing for the now-past HWSDA (that's Hand Weavers Spinners Dyers of Alberta) annual conference show & tell, I pulled together some of my Best Work From The Year. Which is also daunting but ultimately rewarding when looking at what I did (like revamping a resume).

I sat back on my heels and said:

"I did THAT?"

(being quite self-approving incredulous, of course, not denigrating incredulous like "what was I THINKING?")

Hm. I spend all this time thinking I'm kinda not very good because I'm in the middle of so much (I'm beginning to think if WIP as "Well, I Protest" or something, imagining some naggy schoolteacher with hands on hips and glasses half-down the nose waggling her finger at my lack of stick-to-itness), and then I go and look at what I HAVE finished (and most of what I finish finds its way out the door to its recipients, not all of them old enough to sit still for photographs).

And it's quite self-validating.

I am taking a page out of my eight-year-old's playbook: Hey, look what I did!

(have a peek at my flickr photostream...I have lots of pretty things there, too! I will keep adding...)
This is my Mermaid's Dance, from Fleece Artist's BFL.

This next one is a neckwarmer I spun from Celeigh Wool's very own lovely Shetland, Pearl (who sadly passed of old age this summer - I have the last of her fleece). I love how soft this came out, and this petrified wood button.

And this is another of my hand-painted yarn, a silky-soft alpaca, knitted into a gorgeous shrug, from Glampyre Knits. My daughter decided this will do nicely for her to wear from age 8 to 88 and snagged it to wear as a sweater for now, and growing into a shrug as she grows.

I'm reasonably sure I'm putting these into a show of some kind sometime soon - whaddya'll think? Perhaps the Millarville Fall Fair? Or something else?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fear of Lace to Year of Lace part II

Okay. Minor techno-burp aside, I'm back on track with the Swallowtail.

Must remember to READ the pattern, and not count the knit after the first yarnover (in my eagerness to get to the best part - the lacework) as ONE stitch. They are two, distinct, separate stitches, despite the fact that the YO is simply lying on the needle, in wait, patiently, to be purled into a Real Live Stitch.

I made the same mistake, in the same spot, no less than six times in a row. Knitted, and unknitted, and back again. FSI (Forensic Stitch Investigation) case 1.01: Failure To Actually Follow Pattern. (at least I'm consistent).

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for enjoying the knitting path, and being rather Zen about what most people consider "errors". I fall back on the advice of an old music teacher who said, “it’s not a bad note, it’s a Jazz chord in disguise”. In knitting speak, especially when I'm teaching beginners, or chatting with those doing "process knitting", my philosophy is that things that show up that aren’t in your pattern are “embellishments” or “design alterations”.

However, in lace, "design alterations" don't work quite as well if you want your lovely shawl to look the way it looks in the lovely glossy magazine picture.

Off & flying again!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

From Fear of Lace to Year of Lace

I'm in my first KAL (that's Knit-A-Long for the acronym-phobes among us, me included. Engineerspeak abounds, everywhere, so chide me if I get glib with abbreviations). It's a mini KAL, doing the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits Fall 2006, which my lovely new friend known on Ravelry as Spinknit got me into.

Did I mention it's a lace KAL? Firsts for many things, apparently. After somewhat abandoning my Charlotte (poor thing, not her fault, just my lack of patience and not enough blessings from Arachne), I developed an unnatural fear of lace. Cringed at doilies. Ignored blocking how-tos about pinning down shawls. Peeked at light-as-air shawls, stoles, scarves from the tiniest corners of my eyes.

And then, much like I was told to "get back on" when a horse bucked me off in my zero-fear youth, my inner knitting goddess has been urging me forward. So much so, I joined Make One's Year of Lace on Amy’s advice. As I've said on Ravelry, my inner adrenalin (fueled by my “can-I-do-it?” freakout and “I-so-MUST-do-this!” yarn mistress) is just pumping in anticipation of the first kit, which is coming soon - sometime this month.
And so I "got back on", or at least, cast on, on Sunday. And today, I'm at 40 rows. Which is where I got to on Sunday. And on Monday, discovered I'm missing a stitch, either side, after 5 repeats of the main pattern. So now I'm ripping back. Carefully, not to disturb the horse. Don't wanna get bucked off. But I've got some sagacity behind me now, some skill. And courage.

So we'll see how it goes. And when the going gets tough, the tough...knit other things. Like finishing my second Fiesta Mitten, which captured my attention (and that of a few admiring gals at M1 - thanks, you've fed my sorely hungry ego) for much of February.

I'll keep you posted.

PS: I just got word from my baby brother (here, with my daughter on a recent fun-day) that he's safely in Afghanistan (if one can actually write such a thing in a sentence and mean it) as of last week, and has written by e-mail a couple of times to say things are "inhospitable" but that he's actually enjoying the peace & quiet outside the wire. (?!) Soldiers are a funny (not ha-ha, the other kind, in this instance) breed. (He will hate me writing this...) He needs new underwear - a special wicking kind that doesn't smell after a week of no laundering, and socks. And his guys need helmetwarmers. It's cold in the nighttime, when they're out doing what they do. And most of them are bald, naturally or otherwise, and the helmets are, well, metal. So I think I should start the Operation Helmetwarmers B (for Beaver - Canadian thing) Company for our Canadian guys. Here's the link to the American site, with patterns - I have some revisions to the pattern, which I'll post soon, that my brother has suggested. If you send some to me (send me a note here on the blog), I'll package them up & send them forth. Here's the link to the American site for the patterns - and remember, gauge is everything:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The shoebox

I'm sure this story has been posted round & round, but it certainly has appeal to everyone who does fibre art - or wants to - and who is in a long-term relationship - or wants to be.

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but oneday the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife's bedside. She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box.

When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.He asked her about the contents. "When we were to be married," she said, "My grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll." The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving? He almost burst with happiness.
"Honey," he said, "That explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?"
''Oh,' she said, "That's the money I made from selling the dolls."
A Knitter's Prayer:
Dear Lord, I pray for Wisdom to understand my partner; Love to forgive them; And Patience for their moods; Because Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll beat them to death with my knitting needles, because I don't know how to crochet.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A skein of promise

Sandi Wiseheart of Knitting Daily has challenged us all to make 2008 the Year of Knitting Fearlessly. To whit, I signed up for Make 1 Yarn Studio's Year of Lace.

Which terrifies me.

But, kind of like a rollercoaster ride gets the jimmys jammin', this fear is propelling me towards heretofore Undiscovered Country - Knitting Lace.

I used to associate it with doilies, and doilies with frilly frimpy stuff you can't touch for fear of breakage and someone's wrath, and so I have eschewed this realm of the Fibre Universe.

And now I realize I'm really missing out on some good fun.

And at the Stich 'n Bitch last night, I suddenly spied some (naturally, gorgeous and expensive) beautiful, lovely Claudia Handpainted Silk laceweight in Exactly My Colours.

And me, who needs very little justification to purchase nearly anything that sets my heart aflutter (which this did, mightily, and nearly displacing my newly-loved Sanctuary on sale stash) decided to plunge in and buy my very first Laceweight yarn.

It holds a lot of promise, and in so committing my weekly Yarn Allowance. Promise, in more ways than one. It means I'm promising myself to be Fearless. And do more than pet this lovely skein of silkenness.

Damn. That means I'm gonna have to go get some decent lace needles. I don't dare put anything less than satiny smooth next to this gossamer goodness...

Which then might mean I will have to do Something With Them. Fear, begone!

My name is Michael Finnigan..Begin Again

Yep, like the kid's song my 8-year old's been singing.

There's hyperbole, and then there's understatement. To say I'm a sporadic blogger would be, most likely, understatement.

Pretty much 20 months of blogging inactivity is relatively shameful in today's techno-savvy world. But then, I'm a digital immigrant, among other things.

Like...busy working to keep my yarn habit a habit of choice. Oh, and providing food and (sometimes clean) shelter, too, but those are secondary to yarn accrual and playing in my most honest of private thoughts.

And busy parenting. And wifing. (is that a verb...?)

And knitting, and spinning, and dreaming.

But now, with new pretty iMac (yeah, it's six months old and it took me this long but who's counting), and new membership on Ravelry, and a new year, I'm recommitting to do this. Maybe once a week for starters...

And because not doing blogging feels like a perpetual UFO chiding, calling, nagging from the proverbial basket, now I feel more accomplished. There. Another blog post.

Yay me!