Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Celebration time!

I'm off for a week of needleworkin' fun! It's the annual Celebration of Needlework in Nashua, NH. It's also the annual visit-my-sister-10-miles-south-of-Nashua-and-stay-for-free. Mom and I are getting ready to go to the airport (hopefully my spindle will clear security...).

Other plans (besides taking cross-stitch classes and drinking) include visiting WEBS in Northampton, Mass, the Kittery Outlets in ME (mom was a new Coach bag...), and Miss Amy all the way up in Lisbon, ME. Word has it that pants are optional up that way. :-P

So while the rest of the knitting world travels south to MDSW, I'll be snuggling up with my best girls, literally laughing my ass off, and enjoying every minute of it.

Have a great week, everyone!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

New addition

As we pulled up to Kirsten's on Friday night, she bounded down the steps and greeted us, asking how we were. I made some sort of stressed gesture, as if to indicate that riding on the back of the motorcycle stresses me. And as I was doing that, I thought, "But that's not true!"

I love riding on the back of the motorcycle. And, since Mike got the little Honda back up and running a few weeks ago, I've had ample opportunity to indulge. Riding back from West Philly on Friday night, I closed my eyes as we came up on Kelly Drive, nestling closer to Mike. Doing this makes the curves are non-existent and our bodies move together naturally. Twilight rides are different; they make me feel like I'm sneaking out, like a good girl gone bad.

Saturday afternoon, after taking care of some business in the morning, we took a ride out Rte 23 to Conshohocken. I couldn't help but look up in wonder at the wisps of clouds and the pristine sky. The heat from the bike, Mike's body, and the pavement is sweatless, endurable, pleasant. The smell of the bike as it idles, gasoline and oil, grime and grit, fresh sweat and leather, is nostalgically erotic and basic.

I waffle between wanting my own bike and being content with sitting bitch. Today, I feel rebellious and butch - there's something infinitely confidant about a woman on a bike. When we stopped by the Triumph dealer in Manayunk Saturday afternoon, my eyes were drawn to the T100. It's probably too large a bike for me, engine and size both, but it's a looker. I keep joking, with myself and my neighbor, that I'll buy his Honda CB200, which is smaller than Mike's Honda CB350. Then again, I don't know if I want to mess with another vehicle that's as old as me (or older). Nor do I know if I really want to learn how to shift a motorcycle - it just seems so complicated. I understand how it works (1st is one direction, the rest are another), but I don't know that I need to prove to myself that I can do it.

Now, if I were 2 or 3 inches taller, I'd be spending my spare weekends learning to ride the CB350 since we now have this:

1979 Triumph Bonneville Special

It doesn't run, but it will (*fingers crossed*). Mike's now the fourth owner, after the bike spent all of its previous years in the same family. It's fairly intact in terms of original parts and it should clean up rather well. I'm trying really really really hard to use this as my bargaining chip for elevating my house to a two-wheel house, but I think he's still too stunned to make sense of anything beyond the fact that he currently has TWO MOTORCYCLES....

what have i done

Monday, April 14, 2008

All fiber, all the time

Subtitled, "I wish!"

Over the weekend, I finished up one spinning project and started another.

First up, the FOTM for March, Mud Season:

194 yards of sproingy, squishy Navajo-plied merino. Mike said it was my best yarn yet. He just wants me to stop bringing cats and yarn home. At the same time...

I was aiming for a sock-weight yarn, but that end result still eludes me. This is light worsted and feels like a hank of Cascade 220 and looks like Araucunia Ranco Multi. I could knit up some instant-gratification socks with it, or I could just sit back and admire the fine job I did for another few weeks...

Speaking of sitting back, guess what's back on the road?

Aw, yeah! The Little Honda That Could is running pretty well these days. Could this mean that the Ghia isn't too far behind?

After thwacking the merino, I got started on the next fiber endeavor:

I carefully split the roving by color - red for rage, blue for tears, and chocolate for CHOCOLATE--then split each color into pencil roving sections. The blue and the brown I left at its original length, the red I split in half. I then lined up the little corriedale muffins in an attempt to achieve some sort of pattern.

My hope is to spin a consistent 36 wpi single (so far, mostly so good), Navajo-ply it (clearly, I'm all about the Navajo plying lately), and have a randomly striping yarn. The colorway, incidentally, is called Time of the Month and was dyed by the Fiber Queen herself, Miss Amy Boogie. Word on the 'net is she's doing a special boy color next... I better get my spin on so I can get in on that fiber action!!!

Let's get ready to RUMBLE

In this corner, weighing in at a sturdy 17.2 lbs, we have Chico "Meanest Cat in World" Bean:

And in this corner, from the wilds of North Philadelphia, we have 6.9 lbs of pure evil girl cat genius, Pen-nellllllllllllllll-a-peee Sparkssssssszzzzzzzzzzzz:

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday was the first real attempt we made at cat integration. We've spent almost the last 8 weeks doing a delicate cat dance wherein we supervised any and all visits (well, except for that first night when she broke out of her isolation room and waltzed into the bathroom while I was in the middle of a onesies...). We reassured Chico he was #1 in our lives, and gave him extra treats, extra snuggles, extra sunshine-on-the-deck time, extra lunchmeat, and extra popcorn (he LOVES popcorn and will snuggle right in between us while we snack on it and patiently wait his treat). Still, we fully expected the full integration to be nothing less than problematic.

We expected any or all of the following to happen:

  • bite wounds on one or both animals
  • scratches on him from her (he's declawed, she's not)
  • death of one animal (which, as Mike put it, would actually solve our problem)

This is what actually happened: NOTHING. Okay, so that's a bit of a lie. SOMEthing did happen, but nothing that we predicted. After breakfast, we released her from her isolation and went about our day - Mike had work to do, I primed the bedroom in phase I of Operation: Get the Fuck Off the Futon. By lunch, no blood had been shed. By dinner, the worst of the day had been when both cats tore off from the basement all the way up to the craft room (note - this is the futon room, too, so not only is it crammed with crafts, but it's got a futon open in it and it's only a 9x11 room to begin with... Add in two pissed off cats, and you can understand why I feared for my yarns' safety.).

I know this is only day 1 of probably another month of animal issues, but for the first day, it wasn't nearly as horrible as we expected. In the interest of getting sleep last night, we did re-isolate her, and Mr. Bean came to bed with us eventually. And that return to normalcy is a really big good sign - my concern was that he'd hate us and hold this whole incident against like a goth-y teenager being forced by her mom to wear pink to prom (I'm not talking about myself.) (No, really....) (OK. Maybe a little.). But, he didn't clam up or hide out or run away. And this morning? He was actually a little loving. Who knew?

Miss Penelope, despite her 6 months or so living on the streets, is really a lap cat. She loves to be *in* your lap. She also loves to explore everything and does not like going back into her room at night (Mike has a scratch on his face, I have a bite on my hand). Worse than all that, though, she's in need of a desperate yarn-training... I was calculating yardage on some handspun yesterday (194 yds, Anj! Not 300+... What were we thinking?) (Also, that yarn'll get it's own post) and she ATTACKED as the yarn came out of the center-pull ball. Oh, kitten-at-heart, you shall learn how to behave around yarn. Or, you'll go back to the streets....

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The power of the swatch

I think I might almost have learned my lesson this time. You know, the lesson about swatching and test-felting that swatch if the final object is supposed to be felted? Oh, and that little caveat that is mentioned in each pattern that calls for hot water, agitation, and soap? The one that says something like felting times vary depending on wool, washer, and moon phase? (I added the moon phase part). Fellow felters, take heed.

Handles and bag, felted

The before shots I took are trapped on Mike's camera. This is an after shot. I don't like the handles and feel that they are too long and too weak. I'm thinking about busting out with some grommets and recycling the straps to run lengthwise rather than along the sides.

Bag close-up

(Watch the caption on that one if you click through as it's NSFW)

Overall, I'm fairly happy with the yarn for this bag (I used Bartlett's Fisherman 2-ply). I was concerned that yarn would felt and yet retain some of its initial roughness. It felts up with almost a mohair effect, though. Of course, I have to shave the bag (oh, that sounds naughty) and trim any ends that I missed snipping pre-felting.

Prior to installing the grommets (and, by the way, I love grommets!), I'm going to make a lining for the bag. The upside of having it over-felt is I should have more than enough fabric to do a full lining. Lemons --> lemonade, right? I have tomorrow off, so I might spend some time with my sewing machine then. Hopefully, I can have the whole thing done within the next week so it can see some use before summer.