Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A very long swap

I have the best friends! A long time ago, I whined about having cold hands and no squirrel mittens. My friend Anj suggested she knit me mitts and I spin her a sweater's worth of fiber. Deal? Deal!

I'm still chugging along on the fiber (crafting ADD), but she's delivered on her end of the bargain!!! And just in time for more single-digit lows and a foot of snow....


Pattern is Hello Yarn, yarn is Quince & Co, and lining is handspun alpaca/yak/qiviut blend. 


Wherever I go, I will have two hands full of nuts!!!

Thanks, Anj!!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's my life

I'm laying belly-down across the bed, waiting my turn to shower, and PennyCat decides that my rear is the best place ever to nap. When Miki comes out of the bathroom, I slowly roll to the left and right to dislodge the cat. Instead of jumping off, she instead scoots to whatever end is up, as if she's log rolling. 

Miki: did I ever tell you about what I used to do with the barrels my brother would bring home?
Me: no....
Miki: wait, yesterday my boss told me he got a rain barrel for Christmas, and that it was under the tree. I said, did you know what it was before you unwrapped it? And he said, it was kinda obvious, and was only under a blanket. I said, well it could've been a rodeo clown in a barrel. He just walked away... Anyway, my brother would bring home these barrels, 55 gallon drums really, from work.
Me: yeah, that sounds about right....
Miki: and they were full of that super scrub stuff mechanics use, so my brothers and my dad would gothrough  one of those in a surprisingly short period of time. I mean, they didn't live at home anymore, but they had cars in the yard that they would work on-
Me: so, redneck times, yes?
Miki: yeah, redneck times. Whenever they emptied a barrel, though, I'd practice barrel rolling all over the back yard.
Me: now here is something I did not know about you!
Miki: and when I got really good at it, I'd barrel roll out front to show the neighbors. I could go from one side of the front yard to the other!
Me: you are a man of many talents...
Miki: is this going on the internet?
Me: yup.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Walk in the Woods

Miki and I took a couple of days off and hiked a short section of the Appalachian Trail.


We drove up to Mohican Outdoor Center on Friday night. We got there later than planned due to unexpected rush hour traffic in Allentown. No worries - we had 2 headlamps and a powerful LED flashlight. We set up camp as the chill crept into the evening, and then set out to make some dinner only to discover that the featherweight cooker no longer worked - instead, it spewed white gas everywhere. So, off to the nearest town, which offered us the choice of a Tractor Supply Store or an A&P. With no luck there, I turned to the internet, and found the closest Walmart was a mere 18 miles away.

Having procured a new cooker, we settled in for a hot meal around 9pm - not the early night we'd wanted, but hey, at least we could cook food! I think if we had not been able to get a cooker, that might have been a deal breaker for me.



After a hearty breakfast (diced ham, eggs, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and Africafe coffee), we broke camp, checked in with the rangers, and then hit the trail. I carried a 35-40lb pack, holding sleeping gear, cooking gear, food, first aid, maps, tent stakes, hammer, camp chairs, and a pump for the kayak (among other things):



The folks at Mohican "rented" (there was no fee or collateral involved...) trekking poles - I'd left mine at home, on the couch. Whoops! Trekking poles were a definite Must Have.

Miki carried the 10lb tent, a life jacket, a 56lb inflatable kayak, and used his paddles as trekking poles.


My husband is full of crazy ideas, and it seems that so far, the craziest of these ideas has involved this damn kayak. Remember a couple of years ago, when he all but gave up on life while kayaking from Philly to Carneys Point, NJ? Yeah.... This time around, his idea was to hike in from Mohican to Sunfish Pond, a mere 5 miles of uneven terrain.

I told him I had massive concerns about this idea, but that I was not going to tell him no. But, I also wasn't going to judge him if he got a mile in and decided to drop the kayak.

From Camp Road, the trail ascends for about a mile. It's rocky, and slow-going, even without the added weight of a backpack. We took lots of breaks - probably twice as many as we might have if one of us wasn't carrying 66 lbs on his back. After about 45 minutes, we found ourselves along the ridge. The trail at this point was narrow, with loose rocks and moss littering the path. Another hour, and we found ourselves at a rock face overlooking the reservoirs to the east.


We broke for lunch and dropped the packs. While soaking up the sun, a guided tour group came through. I envied their light packs out loud.

Back on the trail, we continued at a slow pace. The kayak was starting to wear on Miki and he needed to take lots of breaks. Every half mile (or less, maybe), he'd take a break, seeking out a large boulder to rest the weight of the pack on. I was, surprisingly, doing okay with the heavy pack. 

About 3.5 miles into, it became obvious that things weren't going well for Miki. He was taking more frequent and longer breaks. He started to fall behind, so I let him lead (and set the pace). I watched him as we continued to hike, and started to worry. He was barely picking his feet up for each step. He was making painful noises with each step. And, he was refusing to drop the kayak even though it had clearly become a terrible idea to bring it. I tried to be as encouraging as I could without seeming hokey or superficial, and maybe it made the difference. Still, I haven't seen him like this - physically - in a long time. Maybe ever... 

We took another (much-needed) break at a stream. This time, I dropped my pack too (so that I could go 100 feet off trail to pee) and Miki filtered some water for our 4 water bottles.


Packs back on, we got back on the trail. This part of the trail was fairly easy for a stretch, but that meant nothing for 145 lb Miki... The recommended pack-to-body ratio is 25-33% of your body rate. My man was carrying closer to half his body weight. Not cool. 

As we got closer to Sunfish Pond, each step seemed to be pure agony for him. We took another break (and there may have been crying....) and I looked ahead. Through the trees, I could see water! "Mike, Mike, LOOK! THE POND!!!" The last half of a mile was pure adrenaline and stubbornness for him as he pushed on, Hulk-style. The trail was no longer a route but a mere suggestion. Twigs, loose rocks, and fallen branches were all smashed, kicked, and plowed through, as he only had eyes for one thing.


Finally, we had made it the 5 miles to the tip of Sunfish Pond! There may have been a primal scream or two at this point. Miki dropped everything, secured the kayak in some brush (but at that point dared any other hiker to try - TRY - to hike it out at this point...), and then we continued south. To give him a break, I kept my pack on, even though the plan had been once he dropped the kayak, he'd take the pack from me. Aside from the utter pain in his back and hips, his shoulders were raw from the straps of the Yukon pack he'd used for the kayak.

We were now working against time. It was about 3:45 when we got to the pond, and we still had another mile to go. Seems totally doable, but the next 3/4 mile was over boulders and loose rock. Below is a photo from the January 2010 Miki and a friend took up to Sunfish Pond. This is the trail.


Slowly, we picked our way over and around the rocks. Halfway around the pond, I handed the pack over to Mike and took the 10lb tent. I carried that by hand until we got to the end of the pond, and we took another break. Another hiker had told us that the backpackers site was just another quarter mile ahead, so while we were both tired, we felt almost-victorious.

Using the rope from the Yukon pack for the kayak, I slung the tent over my shoulder messenger-bag style, and we plodded on again. Miki was clearly still delirious when he exclaimed from behind, "You look sexy as shit with that tent slung across your back!" 

1/4 mile turned out to actually be more like 3/4, but finally, just as the sun was setting, we arrived at the backpackers site.

We quickly set up camp, reveling in the awesomeness of a 4-season tent (it was TOASTY in there). There were about 30 or so other people camping with us, including kids as wee as 3 or 4. We put our food and trash in the bear box, and then hit the hay by 7pm. Our pillow talk consisted of looking at maps and figuring out a way to get to Sunfish Pond easilier. 

Yes. Easilier. 

Miki decided to NOT try to hike back with the kayak the next day. Instead, he'd go back to where we'd dumped it, paddle across the pond, and then hide it closer to the (easilier) trail access. He fell asleep quickly, and I spent the night worrying about him (I kept waking up to make sure he was breathing and hadn't had a heart attack) and worrying about the kayak (will someone steal it?).

The next morning, he got up and began making breakfast and coffee while I broke down camp. I was queasy, but figured it was hunger. I managed to eat half of a breakfast sausage before losing it behind a tree... I started to worry that the sausage was bad, or the beef jerky was bad, or the water was bad, but rationalized that Miki was eating and drinking the same things with no inkling of ill effects. I chalked it up to nerves and exertion.

We hit the trail just after 9. By 9:25, we were at the edge of Sunfish Pond.


He left me there and humped over to the far side of the pond to get the kayak. By 10:15, he was paddling over. A day hiker and his dog kept me company (and confirmed that the trail we looked at on the maps the night before was indeed the way to hike out with the kayak - mellow, river-side, a short 3 miles....).


The jury's out as to whether it was worth hiking in with a kayak, but I'm pretty sure he loved every second of his paddle on the pond. We made short work of packing the kayak, hid it in the brush, and then continued on northward. Day 2, things were so much better for him. He was carrying a stable pack, at an appropriate weight. I had the tent and life vest mini-Yukon-packed on my pack.


We even found a route that skirted the rockiest part of the trail around the pond, cutting the time to hike around it in half (and reducing the chances of twisting in ankle while hopping boulders). We hiked at a good clip, and were so focused on moving forward and getting back to the car, that we took a wrong-ish trail, following the double blazed trail to the left, rather than the single-blazed to the right. This was something of a long-cut (as opposed to a short-cut), but did offer spectacular vistas. We stopped for lunch (I ate a Larabar and did not vomit!). Here you can see the rain moving from the west to the east. You can also see a brilliantly yellow copse. 


We hit the stream from the day before, filling up on water again. As we hiked north, I found myself mentally counting all of the places we'd stopped the day before to take breaks. In some instances, there were barely 1,000 feet between them. I was increasingly glad that he'd hid the kayak at the pond. Day 2 would not have gone as well with it on his back...

Around 2pm, we reached the Large Pile of Rocks, a destination that the morning before, I'd thought was a complete joke. It is indeed a large pile of rocks! And on Sunday afternoon, it was crowded with people that seemed to all be part of the same group. As we hiked past, one of them eyed Miki's paddles and I quipped, "Oh, there's a story!" She replied, "We KNOW!" We stopped and told them the tale, and one of the group joked that Miki was going to get a trail nickname if he kept this sort of thing up. "Appalachia Paddle Boy!" Upon request, he hiked off using the paddles as trekking poles, and the group cheered raucously.

We were soon at the reservoir overlook. We stopped briefly, marveled it was barely 2:30, and kept on going. The trail followed the ridge for a bit more, before we began the descent.



With only the expected difficulties on the descent, we were back at the car by 3:30, and en route to Shawnee on the Delaware by 4pm. By 5, we were taking the best showers of our lives, and by 6, we were enjoying a delicious dinner. We were in bed by 8, and spent Monday morning enjoying 3 hours each of spa treatments. 

Overall, it wasn't a bad trip - and by that, I pretty much mean nobody died. Day 1 and Day 2 were opposites, for sure. I will definitely go backpacking again, but not with a 55lb kayak anywhere in the mix... I did much better than I ever expected I could do (and didn't even complain when it started to rain).

Friday, October 18, 2013

And for the 17th year in a row

Here we are again, 17 years after saying "I do" for the first time.

BEST PICTURE EVER

Happy anniversary to my best friend! Here's to another 17 years (and more)!

Sparks

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Catching up!

Lots of things to share! Here are some of the highlights.

I FINALLY got my new motorbike back in early July. It's a 2013 BMW G650GS, and I couldn't be more happy.


Overall, the process to replace the stolen bike wasn't that bad - I just did not like waiting 2 months to get back on the road, you know? I'm still waiting on some accessories to come in, but am otherwise good to go! I haven't been riding it to work as much for a few reasons - I'm working in a new location, and there's no easy/free parking, I've been riding my bicycle to work, and some other things. After 2 months, I've finally hit 600 miles!

I've been crafting a LOT: spinning, weaving, sewing, knitting. I got a new-to-me loom, a Harrisville Designs 4h, 4t 36" beast. Fortunately, it folds up to a petite 14" or so depth, so I can sorta, kinda tuck it away in the dining room (for now! I'd love to get better shelving for the craft room, and eventually move the loom up there...).


The first project on that was a set of tea towels as part of an exchange. It was a great learning experience, and proof that I need to weave more to continue to improve my skills. The tea towels came out FABULOUS, but there are no photos of those to be shared - yet. The yarn was an unplied four-strand that made for an interesting warping (hundreds of cobwebby ends tangling as I tried to thread the heddles... Not enough wine* in the world!).

In July-ish, I spun and then knit this shawl:

And I spun this yarn and knit most of one shawl before frogging it and then starting and finishing THIS shawl:


Many thanks to my dear friend Anj for taking the two shawl photos!

Finally, I went on a shirt-making binge in August. Last year, I made 2 shirts, and the year before I made 1. I wear those shirts about once a week in the summer, and wanted to add a few more OOAK tops to the wardrobe.


This is McCall's 5640, and I cannot wait to make another one! I have fabric for 2 more shirts, and I think one of them will become a 3/4 sleeve version of this pattern.


And this one is the Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated. I've made this one before, and love the first one MUCH more (I'm wearing it today as well as in the first shawl photo above...). It's mostly due to the fabric, a super-light, gauzy cotton that just flows and hangs and whatever the right way. The yellow one I just made WILL soften with wear and washing, but there were other issues with it. I made it way too big, so had to do a lot of alterations. I thought the bodice was too long, so ending up shortening that (and now I think it's too high...). I neglected to cut the sleeves on the fold, so I have 2 sleeve seams (though I tried carefully to piece those two halves so that it doesn't look TOO obvious). I also took the skirt in by about 4 inches, and I like that alteration the best.


*That's another post for another time - soon?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Birthday Toast

Over the last few months, I've been planning a semi-surprise party for my husband's 40th. I'd toyed around with a few different ideas, but in the end, I kept it simple. We had a few of our closest friends over, and capped the evening with a tiny house concert featuring musician-friends Jason and Jess (that was the surprise part).

Before the concert started, I made this toast:

Thank you for joining us this evening as we celebrate the man of the hour. Whether you know him as Mike, Miki, Sparksy, or Zipperboy, you are all aware that he possesses a certain ... shall I say, essence.

I'm not going to bore you with any embarrassing tales about his first 40 years on this planet. You already probably know about the time a neighbor had to remove a tick from his delicate bits (he was, what, 12?). And you know about the time he was bit by the acting bug and decided to perform as a dung beetle, naked, in front of a sliding glass door. There's a reason we no longer have cable and I'm looking at you, Animal Planet.

You'd think this means he likes the creepy crawlies, right? Not so much - you've all heard about the time he vaulted over a couch after seeing a wasp in our first apartment. I'm pretty sure that's how the original kung fu got started - 1 man, 1 wasp, hi-ya! Or how about the Attack of the Cicada last year - remember how he defended himself with a 1/2 gallon of melting ice cream (no ice cream was wasted, FYI).

The year you were born, Miki, was a good one, and not just because Marvin Gaye released "Let's Get It On", or Aerosmith sang "Dream On", or Elton John graced us with "Candle in the Wind" (and "Benny and the Jets"). Nor is it because the Wailers jammed out with "Get Up, Stand Up", or because Slade wooed us with their power love ballad, "Cum on Feel the Noiz".

1973 was a good year because suddenly, there was you. Sweet, innocent, and optimistic. What the hell happened? But seriously, I've known you since September 1990, when we sat across from each other in our drafting class, Supe at the helm with his enormous sausage fingers. I can honestly say that you've not only aged well, but that you've definitely gotten better with age (that is what she said). Just before your 21st birthday, you swept me off my feet for the 2nd time - for real, for real - and I can only hope that - with as little touching as possible - you'll sweep me off my feet every day, every week, and every year, again and again and again.

Happy Birthday, my love. And you know, 40's not that old - if you're a tree.



Saturday, April 13, 2013

Have you seen her?

My poor little motorbike was snatched from outside of the house sometime last Sunday night. And, after a day of going back and forth with the police, it was finally listed as stolen early Monday evening.

Happier times - returning from motorcycle camping last June

I worked last Sunday afternoon - a beautiful, sunny, blue sky kind of day. I got off around 5, and didn't complain when I had to take the long way home (detoured due to an event along the river drives). I'm glad I had the extra mile or so of twists and turns through parts of Fairmount Park. And, when I finally got home, after filling the tank for the coming week, I went about all of my normal routines: pull up, turn off, kickstand down, push it the rest of the way into its spot, lock the fork, remove helmet and gloves, lock them in the trunk case, enter the back yard, enjoy some wine. Or was it whisky?

When we put our trash out that night, the bike was still there, nestled behind Big Blue, the Wacky Sacky, just like usual. All was right in the world of Sparks.

Monday morning, I lazed in bed a bit longer, pinned by cats. When I got up, I did what I always do - look out of one of the windows facing the backyard. A long time ago, before there was the Kawasaki, there was the vintage Honda. Mike had a love/hate relationship with the little bike (similar to how I felt about my vintage Honda). He'd park it in the street, pretty much where my bike is in that picture above, and it was largely untouched. Except, over the course of just a couple of months (mere weeks, really) his bike was knocked down not once, but twice. These older bikes don't enjoy that sort of abuse, so every time it was knocked down, it was not just a matter of getting it up again (TWSS), but then performing some level of maintenance. So, I got into the habit of checking for another toppled bike every morning.

Then, when I got my wee Honda and nestled it up next to his Wacky Sacky, I continued checking the newly installed bike pad just to get a little bit of a squee feeling whenever I 1. saw the bike, and then 2. made the connection that it was Mine!!! I am an easily amused badass.

It makes perfect sense that I then continued this habit when I got Trixie (named for Speed Racer's girlfriend, and because at first, this bike was tricksy to ride, compared to a 200cc vintage Honda). You can imagine the anal chill I felt when I peeked out first the craft room window and then the entertainment room window, before going outside in my garden gnome pajama pants, hoping that maybe, just maybe, Mike had parked my bike in a neighbor's driveway, only to find that there was no bike anywhere.

I spent the day trying to find it. Of course, I called the police first. There was a report called in that the bike had been found, but I was given the wrong address. After nearly 10 hours of waiting and both physically running and getting the run around, the bike was officially marked as stolen. 

My disappointment in the system is currently immeasurable. I know that in the scheme of crimes, a motorcycle being stolen does not trump homicide or rape or kidnapping. But, at the same time, none of those other things happened to me. My heretofore safely parked motorbike was gone, and it turns out that protocol wasn't followed for recovering it (the officer that finally responded to my second 911 call said that if a vehicle is found [as I'd been told around 9am], they are to "sit on it" until the owner or the tow gets there, and that was not done). 


As each hour, and then each day, passed, my hope for finding it waned. By Thursday, I didn't want to see it ever again. Unfortunately, this is not an attempt at leading you to a happy reunion. I've gotten no news about the bike. 

Fortunately, I have full coverage insurance, something that I am likely never to give up AND that I hope to never have to use again. The peace of mind I've had this week is due in part to having sufficient insurance. The other peace of mind comes from two sources: one is the outpouring of support from friends and family. From gentle pleas for updates, to offers of motorbikes as lenders, to rides home and to possibly recover the bike, to Facebook reposts, and everything, I am beyond grateful. 

The final source? Amusement. Somewhere, there's a thug or a wannabe or self-declared I-don't-give-a-shit-Bad-Guy who may or may not be getting the business from his partners-in-crime over stealing a bike with squirrel reflectors, "heart"a librarian bumper sticker, and a sheep decal. Also, if whoever it is breaks into the cases, they will find a Buff that should've been laundered maybe 2 weeks ago, but instead is covered in an assortment of neck sweat and snot.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


My one regret from Rhinebeck 2011 was NOT getting a Loop! Spontaneous Spinning Bump, so I was very excited to nab one this past fall. Now, my one regret is not getting more than one*, because hubba hubba, hallelujah, this was so awesome to spin!

I ended up with Autumn Hike, a merino/silk blend. I don't think I have pictures of the bump pre-spun, partly because I started spinning it as soon as I left the fairgrounds. The color changes were so subtle when spinning that I didn't realize the extent of their shift until after I caked the finished yarn.



I almost didn't want to do anything but lovingly gaze at this cake of n-ply gorgeousness, but I couldn't resist the call of my loom. 552 yds of sock-weight gradient looks like this when warping:



This was only my second large weaving project, so I took my time threading the heddles, adjusting the tension, winding the warp, and all that. Then, I labored over what to use for a weft. I wanted something that would coordinate and almost blend in with the warp; and I also wanted something that would fade into the background, so to speak - warp-faced, I guess. After a few failed attempts at finding a weft, I found the perfect fiber in the bottom of my stash, and set to spinning it up.



This is a blend from Kid Hollow Farm that I picked up a few years ago. Before spinning, I hand-carded it once to blend it just a bit more. Then, I spun it fine and plied it to an ethereal laceweight. It's a mohair/border leicester blend that has sheen, softness, and a fuzzy halo. Basically, it's the best.

I had the loom warped for quite a few weeks while I went about finishing (and, ahem, starting) other projects. But eventually, I got to the point where I had some weaving time, and went to town. It took all of a few afternoons/evenings to finish the weaving! It went fast for a couple of reasons: I took the time to really set up the warp, and I deliberately beat the weft so that it would have lots of space - I wanted this to be light and airy. I didn't calculate the yardage on the weft, and I wish I had - I feel like I used next to nothing, maybe 250 yards, over a 65" warp.  Below is just the first 1.5", but you get the idea.

I hemstitched both ends (the start looks better than the finish), then twisted the fringe. Then, I ran some hot water and wool wash in the tub - maybe 2" - and agitated things a little bit. The weft and warp played really well together! Here's a close-up of sorts:


And here're some FO shots:



I am so pleased with how this came out - it's exactly what I wanted it to be.

Raveled.
*I've got 2 - YES, TWO - more bumps coming my way.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Some pumpkins

Last weekend, my mom came up early and the two of us spent the bulk of the day sorting and organizing my formerly catch-all craft-hole of a room. We moved some furniture, emptied bins and cubbies, threw out and donated used up and unwanted supplies, and generally had a good time. I haven't always enjoyed The Grand Sort Outs, but I totally believe in them.

The room, even one week later, still looks tidy:


We did NOT go through the fiber closet or the yarn stash, and the stuff hanging on the door really should be sorted. But, overall, it was really great to go through mostly everything. We found a number of nearly finished projects, some FOs that were languishing in the frog pond, and a few things that I'd forgotten about, like drawings of a trip Mike and I took to New England a few years ago.


This was our second trip to Mt. Washington, and Mike's first winter climb. Living in the mid-Atlantic region, I'm always amused by the moose caution signs. I know that hitting a moose would be a pretty bad scene, mostly for the car, because moose are gigantic. And I do believe in moose - I've just not seen one. This is what I imagined seeing one would look like.


Portrait of Mike, wearing the handspun, handknit hat I knit to commemorate his Kilimanjaro climb. What you can't really tell from my majestic sketch is the hat changes colors to represent the multiple climate zones experienced as one treks up to Kili's summit. I know, right? Anyway, I assure you he has a nose in this drawing. Also, he's a better (self) portrait artist than I am:


Anyway, Mike climbed a mountain known for its spectacular weather, in the winter, and then stayed overnight in the observatory at the summit. I traveled to Maine for a little R&R with my favoritest Boogie that ever, er, boogied. I got a weaving lesson, watched a recap of The Human Centipede (don't click that if you are at all sensitive to things like the C-word or people eating poop against their own will), and slept with another Mickey (a real dog). Then, the next day, I picked him up at Pinkham Notch, and we headed south to the Boston area for more fun, visiting my sister and then our friends D & NJStacie.


Now, most of you will see this map and know that America's Top Hat is up there. You'll probably also read the text as CanadaLand, or even CanadiaLand, as it's written. My mom read it as ChlamydiaLand, which really doesn't help Canada's self image, eh? We had quite the laugh about that, and then she said, "It's a really good map, though!" And somehow, that makes it all even funnier.

So, here we were, chilling somewhere outside of Boston, watching hours of MXC, and hanging out with other craftie types. Mike missed out on most of this fun - he was sleeping off his mountain high. But, he woke up and joined us in time for Jack Chop, also not entirely safe for work, but with 100% less poop eating and c-word use.



I always have such good intentions to take photos on our trips, but invariably I don't - having too much fun, not wanting to ruin the moment, forgetting I have a camera (on my phone, no less). When we got home from our trip north, I realized there was not a single picture of the trip. Not wanting to forget it all, I had this grand scheme of drawing highlights of the trip. I went at it, and after 4 masterful pieces, got distracted or bored or otherwise engaged. The thing is, though, I haven't forgotten that trip, even with no pictures and 4 pencil sketches. It was a great time.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Merry Makemas

Now that everything has been gifted to everyone, here's a recap of what I made for gifting.

For my best Lady, a lovely Wham Bam Thank You Lamb neckwarmer. This is a great bulky-yarn little cowl with offset seaming. I made one for myself a few years ago and wear it all the time. It's the greatest. This one is made out of Brooks Farm Duet, fine mohair and wool, 4 strands held together. It's squish-tastic!


For my sister, I took some lovely Hello Yarn club fiber and carded it into wee rolags before spinning a a sort of colorwave. This was one of the quickest spin-to-knit-to-blocking-to-wearing projects I've ever done. And, it was also the earliest I've ever finished a Christmas craft. The pattern is Wingspan.


For my neighbor-friend, I spun a super bulky Swaledale thread, and then Navajo-plied it to retain some big swaths of color. I tried many non-felted patterns, but none of them seemed to work. I was afraid that going with a felted pattern might require more yarn than I had, but eventually I went with my favorite felted clogs pattern, and made small modifications as necessary. The Swaledale was a big hair mess post-felting:

I ended up shaving the slippers before gifting - her house always seems so hair-free, even with two cats, a toddler, and a husband. She's requested some non-slip action for the bottoms, so I gotta retrieve the slippers once we thaw out from our current deep chill (nothing warms the knitter's heart quite like seeing a handknit in constant use, am I right?).

I knew when I received December 2011's Southern Cross Fibre club that it would be PERFECT for something for my mom. She's a fan of the sea blues and beachy colors, and Oceanic had all of that going for it.


I wanted to weave something for her, but was still very much a novice. So, I instead spun 8oz of this gorgeous BFL/Silk blend into a whack of laceweight 2-ply. The colors matched up pretty well, too, giving the finished yarn long runs of color. I knew that if I tried to knit with the yarn, I'd start something that I might not finish (ahem), so I kept playing around with the weaving idea. My friend Anj persuaded me (oh the force she used!) to take a 6 week weaving class at our local guild, and by week 2 I felt confident enough to warp my 24" rigid heddle side-to-side, full width, and went to town. It's by no means perfect - lots of missed warps, some wonky beatings, and tension issues leading to some meh edges - but it is beautiful nonetheless.


Finally, with all this crafting going on for my favorite ladies, I was struck with the idea to make something for my favorite guy... What could I make for Miki that he'd love? Something that would bring together some of his favorite things - camping, hiking, Mt. Washington, and - sorry, dear - snuggling (but manly snuggles. Like, with beer and bushy beard and beef jerky snuggling...)? It took some thinking, but I settled on making a quilt using the peaks of the White Mountains and the Presidential Range as inspiration. It was not finished in time for Christmas - ran out of thread and even with the quilt bat(t) signal up, I didn't have enough - but I wrapped it for him anyway.


He was delighted! Here you can see he's instantly put it to use in our often-chilly home (we keep the heat set low because I don't know why... To save money? To force the cats to lay on us? To prove a point?). The backing was a mix of fun camping prints, complete with tents and trailers and wildlife. I OF COURSE managed to sneak some squirrels in there, too. The brown chevron fit in well with the mountain theme, I thought.


And here's a shot of the front. It obviously has received the Lucy-Cat Stamp of Approval. The quilt top was pieced using the bulk of a Moda Happy Campers Jelly Roll. The tallest "peak" - in this case, Mt. Washington - is the full 44" of a strip, with the rest proportionate to that peak. I didn't use a pattern so much as I looked at lots of elevation profiles and graphed out peaks and valleys using MS Publisher (I know! High tech!).

And that's it! I can now start to procrastinate on making next year's gifts. I have some plans in the works, though!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Domestic bliss

Mike: you should've seen it!

Me: *dubious*

Mike, standing more upright and with his head tilted oddly: it was like this!

Me: why do you do that?

Mike: what?

Me: act out your turds!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Oh, I know whodunit.

The evidence is plain to see. Someone has been dipping a paw into my ort jar. The first time, I thought it wasn't intentional. The second time, I thought she was just lucky. But the third through eleventh time? I'd say we have yarn stalker.

Don't be fooled by the sight of the two of them snuggling on the radiator. This house is a full-blown crime scene. I'd wrap it in caution tape, but I'm pretty sure draping crinkly ribbon around the room wouldn't end the way I envision.