Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Knitted Finger Ringers and Wrister

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(scroll down to go directly to the pattern and skip the background)
Over the years I have worn out my hands. 'Tis true. I could blame it on arthritis, or poor circulation, or candida or even bad genes. But the truth is more likely that I started life with delicate small hands, and over the years did "big guy" work with them.
Farming, wood working, gardening, tree climbing, furniture making, plumbing, milking, firewood splitting...that is on top of spinning, knitting, wool carding (you know, drum carding is harder on your hands than you might think) weaving, rock wall building, basketmaking (now there is another real joint stresser) and computer typing.
So, a few years back, I started taking them seriously, treating them a little kinder, being more conscious of their needs...Perhaps I am supremely naive, but I prefer to figure it is never too late for redemption.
My hands spent last winter in fingerless gloves, keeping them warm really helped.
This winter, fingerless gloves are just "too much" And wristers are not enough.
I have graduated to "Finger Ringers with Matching Wristers"
The first set was hand knit (as in, gee, this is fun, and look how quickly it moves along! One, two, three fingers, snap! your done)

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Then it happened. As soon as I could try on one set in delight, I was both happy and bored. The same syndrome as "second sock syndrome" has set in.
So, the second set, I plan to knit on the LK 150.

Here is the handknit version (with commentary) This is a very quick project, I had a ball of Better Buny Blend spun up that was perfectly soft and warm for this project.

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Hand Knit Finger Ringers with Matching Wrister Warmer
Finger Ringers are knit on two needles with the double knit (or tubular) method of knitting. There are of course, many ways to make glove fingers (circular, icord, etc) but tubular works quick for these little ringers.

  • Yarn: Soft "Sport Weight" Wool (illustrated in my handspun "Better Bunny Blend"® dyed with pokeberry years ago so that by now it has already faded)
  • Gauge: 5.5 st/inch US #3 short needles (or size to obtain gauge) I used 3 flexible US #3 needles from a 5 needle set that is coincidentally missing the other two needles)

The Set Up for Tubular Knitting

CO 12 stitches with long tail cast on.
Slip half (6) of these 12 stitches on to a second needle, fold this cast on row so that you can hold these two needles with their respective 6 stitches on each needle side by side.
Using the third needle, first slip one stitch from the front needle, then one stitch from the back needle. Continue alternating in this way, until all twelve stitches are back on a single needle.
Now you are ready to tubular knit.

  • Row 1 - Knit the first stitch, slip the second stitch as if to purl. Continue across row.
  • Row 2 -Turn and Repeat row 1

What you are doing by slipping every other stitch, is knitting only across the front side of the tube, when you turn, you will be knitting the back of the tube and slipping the front tube stitches.8

  • Knit until your ring is the width you want (my rings are 8 rows tall)

To bind off, you have to get the ring back onto two needles so it will be a tube shape. Just pull the needle out of the knitting and the stitches will fall to the front and to the back. Then pick them up onto two needles...or, if you don't feel brave, you could carefully use two needles to slip the first stitch onto the first needle, and the second stitch onto the second needle.

  • Bind off with a crochet bind off, or other stretchy bind off of your choice.

Wrister Warmer is knit circularly on dpn (you could also knit it tubular if you want, but it is big enough to knit comfortably with double pointed needles)

  • CO 32 st (for narrow wrists) with long tail cast-on.
  • Knit 9 rows
  • Knit 1 purl row
  • Knit 9 rows
  • Bind off with stetchy bind off of your choice (I used a loose crochet cast off)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

even long goodbyes end

Mom passed away on Christmas Eve.

Everyone thinks their mother is special, to me, mine seemed extra special. With no way to express that, I put a small memorial page up here.

I have been knitting a lot lately, while rearranging my world and my mind, will have knitting content up soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow white on brown cotton

Before I go out of town again tomorrow, wanted to say a coupla things. First, thankyee kindly to all of you that have sent thoughts and prayers to Mom. She is in so much pain, which is so unfair and so hard for those who love her, that every kind thought surely has to help some.


We had snow, which always helps my spirit some, being a snowball fightin, cross country skiing, caroling, hot chocolating, midnight ice skating kinda gal (yea, I grew up in Michigan, not Tennessee) and I thought that snow on my brown cotton that did not have time to mature (even though I started it early in the greenhouse) was kinda interesting..if not a little sad.

This is Einstein. He is not exactly a solemn anogora, he just looks like that. When you brush him, he is cooperative. That gains alota points. Brushed enough to spin a 40 gm skein (one ply of Einstein spun with lotta extra twist, one of merino...spun on the soprano, plied on the tenor) Immediatley knit this into a wrister.



This is a crummy photo, way blown up, but you can see how the merino fluffed and the angora sheened, opposite of what you would think.
The point of all this rambling, is I think I like knitting with the angora blended and carded together first, better. I mean, I liked spinning it naked by itself, thin as I could get, and the fun of adding the extra twist, and the way it plied, But when I went to knit it, it still felt fragile or funny, or something...
When I get back, wanna post the other thing I have been knitting on at the bedside.

Oh yea, Sandra asked in a comment...
"will the different bases be interchangeable with my alto or are they different? also if i have an alto that i love, which would you suggest as a second spindolyn? the soprano or the tenor?"


No Sandra, the new spindolyns are not long enough to fit in the old bases, but the old spindles will fit in the new bases, but this is not ideal (more FAQ about the new and old Spindolyns can be found here) It has to do with the ratio of height to weight, and the new ones have a ratio that makes them spin better and longer than ever. Now, as to what you want, it depends on what you like to spin. The tenor spins the widest range of yarns, and if you love your Alto, you probably would love the Tenor. The Soprano is lighter weight, and is designed more for fine yarns, such as cotton and lace weight. Hope this helps.

I also hope everyone is staying healthy and happy, and having time to knit or spin everyday!



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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Looking for me? so am I

If you are looking for me, I am in and out, there might be a few days delay in my email response or your order shipment, but it won't be too long.

Mom is receiving hospice care in her home now, and I am back and forth.
Thank you for your patience.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New! Improved! and finally photo'd!

I finally have the new spindolyns (the Tenor and the Soprano) up on the knitting any way website!


Yea! I wish that I could find the emails from the spinners who made suggestions of what they would like to see (like a shaft alternative, interchangeable bases like back in the olden days, and shorter so that they would have more clearance) so I could give them credit here for their suggestions, but every time I change computers, emails get lost. If you are one of those, out there, reading this, THANK YOU!
Here is the quickie list of the improvements that can be found in the new models; the Tenor Spindolyn and the Soprano Spindolyn..
  • The ratio of height to weight, and the location along the shaft has been changed, giving a better balance for a longer smoother spin.
  • The over all height is shorter, giving better clearance in low places such as autos, and also reducing arm fatigue.
  • A food grade rubber sheath for the shaft has been added, that is more comfortable for the hands and give a better, non-tangling base for yarn wind on.
  • The density of the new rubber shaft improves balance and actually increases yarn holding capacity.
  • Two new base styles have been added that fit well into a bean bag pouch.
Putting the new version up on the website took longer than I expected because I kept tweaking and spinning...and I was having so much fun spinning that I kept losing track of time.
I am happy now.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving (my favorite Holiday because being thankful is one of my favorite themes in general) hope you all have time for some fibery stuff this weekend, too!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

one blissful evening

of uninterrupted fibering, that is.

Carded Jacob fleece > to singles >to plyed yarn > to a little woven square, and all before bedtime!! I had sweet dreams.

It started out that I just wanted to "spin" the evening giving the new improved reincarnation of the Alto Spindolyn (reborn as the "Tenor Spindolyn") a full trial.

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But I was so happy with what I had spun, that I had to ply it, to get the "full effect" of this Jacob fleece.

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I plyed it back on the Tenor spindolyn after winding the singles off onto center pull ball. It was a balanced ply and just cried out to be used at the minute it was wound off the spindle. What should I knit with this little sample?

My new obsession jumped up and said "use me, use me!"

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The voice was coming from one of those little weave-it looms (it had come to me recently, tucked in a care package from my Sis. )

I had noticed that people get a little wacky over them and I wondered what the big deal was. Till I wove a little square on it. Then another, then another. Yep, I get it now. 'Nuff said about that, you just have to try one to see why they either leave you cold or suck you in to a blissful state of fiber oneness. I think it is because you have a little finished fiber object in less than thirty minutes.

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Anyway, I took the newly plyed Jacob off of the Tenor Spindolyn and wove it into a little square on the little weave-it.

Sigh, no better way to spend an evening.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Sliver and Roving and Batts, oh my!

"Anonymous" commented on my roving photo of the previous post, asking (I think) if my jacob fiber wasn't actually a carded batt. The photo isn't very clear, it would have been better to see it like this..


Where you can see that yes, it is carded, but it is also in the form of roving, which was rolled up before the photo was taken. If your carded fiber does not come in this form, you can turn a carded batt into a roving (sort of) by tearing it in long strips lengthwise, or drawing it out with your hands like one would pull taffy.
If you get your slivers and your rovings mixed up or just want to learn more, there is a good article by by Abby Franquemont entitled Roving, Top and Sliver in the Winter 07 Spin Off magazine on fiber preparation
It explains the different kinds available and how they are prepared. Spin Off has made this and other articles available in the back issue are of their website in a pdf format (isn't that nice of them?)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

People, I am finally warm!!

First the post office, then fed ex and the sliver lining.....
First the happy, happy, then the rant.
I finally have the materials to get my wonderfully patient customers spindolyns completed. Worked on them yesterday in a sunny shop and am glue drying in the rain right now (well, I am not in the rain, the glue is drying under a light, but it is raining outside)
While I wait for the spindolyns to get to the next stage, I would be working on the roof of the buck goat shed that I am building (with help from the buck) but for the rain, so I am posting here to share my happy over what I think is the "alto solution"
Perhaps this evening I can take the new prototype for a spin with some of the extra soft jacob fleece that I am in love with right now...



Now the rant
My local post office has the most wonderful staff. Helpful, cheerful, humorous and good natured folks who give great personal service. The rest of the postal service gets two thumbs down for jumping up and down with both feet on many of the parcels I mail.
My UPS guy is great, too, he is also helpful, cheerful, humorous and good natured and is very accomodating and nice to my quirky dogs.
FED Ex on the other hand, gets a big scolding from me. They sent my correctly labeled materials that I was waiting on to the wrong state, then the delivery guy just "forgot" to deliver them, 3 days in a row!! If they had arrived on thursday like the tracking number indicated, I would have last weeks orders already shipped and this weeks well on their way to going out. But most importantly, I could have gone to West TN to take Mom to her oncologist and give my sister in law a spell.
However, everything surely happens for a reason, because if things had gone the way I expected, I never would have seen the post on Craigslist for the "Better'n Ben's" fireplace stove, and I wouldn't have had the time to go get it, move out my old fireplace insert, rebrick up the broken hearth (I am a mason now, ha! I laid and mortared 6 bricks) fabricate a new stove pipe to fit it, and slid it into place.
Visually, the new wood stove is a downgrade from the fancy fireplace insert with the fan that I am going to put up for sale on craigslist. Heating wise, it is just plain bomb-diggity! This baby is hot! The cabin and me in it are warm for the first time since I moved in 5 years ago. If my fireplace had been normally constructed, the previous stove would have sufficed, but it had been rebuilt by stoner wanna be rock layers and it needs a certain sort of stove to behave correctly. I have found that stove in this little box shaped stove made in the late 70's.
Usually, on an average winter morning, I wake up to 50-52 degrees in the cabin. This morning, with burning no more wood than before, and not having to listen to that durn fan a roaring all night, I woke up to 62 degrees. wow.
You have no idea how happy this makes me.
And the stove is flat on top. Perfect for natural dying.... : )

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Peach "sweatette" done

I finally finished this before the last visit to mom's, she loves the color and it is nice and warm but not suffocating. It was fun figuring out a way to make a button that goes with the band, and am now inspired to work on more knitted closures.

You may or may not remember that this is the "hybrid" sweater that is partly hand knit, partly knit on the LK 150, out of Peruvian highland.

peach cardigan sweatette peach3

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Friday, October 31, 2008

alto on hold and holding pattern

I ran into a major stob-up today while finishing the alto spindolyns due to go out tommorow on my way to Mom's again. They could not be finished and I sat down and cried in frustration. The dogs thought I was nuts.
The materials that I had planned on using are not level and plumb, straight and narrow, sweet and light, whatever you want to call them.
Whatever, I could not make them work out. I have some new material on order that will arrive next week, and may do a complete overhaul of that design, as time allows. Meantime, I have pulled the order button from the website.
On a cheerier note, the originals that have gone out this week just happened to be out of some extra lovely wood...am thinking that some sort of rustic base and knotty gnarly whorl might be fun, once again, as time permits (that is a weird phrase, isn't it? does "time" permit my knitting? issue it a little "right to knit" token or something?

Friday, October 24, 2008

a real brown

Tommorow is Harvest Days/Fiber Festival in Cannonsburg (murfreesboro, tn) I will be there and am quiet excited to say that I am going to be picking up an Angora buck and Doe. It has been some years since I had fluffy rabbits and it will be great to have somebunny to love again (groan!)
Am going to answer the comments to the last posts in this post.

Lea-Ann, yes, I am done with the collar, and am now on a hunt for a similar fingering weight yarn to do the body of the sweater. (enter, Knitting Today, perhaps? lol) The trouble is, I am looking for a "real" brown. A rich, chocolatey cocoa brown. Not the greyed-out brown that many of the yarn companies call "cocoa". Brown is a "step color" left out, neglected...I can find a few lovely browns in worsted weight, but not in this light weight...any leads?

Hi Dianne! no the leaf edging is just a generic leaf edging..not exactly sure where it came from, but there are many variations..I just love all knitted leaf motifs..would be fun to gather several and put them all into one garment. If you are on Ravelry, and search "leaf" you will be amazed at the leaves in scarves, leaves in socks, etc. Most of the instructions originate from the early 1900's ladies publications, or from Barbara Walkers treasuries (of which I own none, now, but really lust to own all of them) or from Nicky Epsteins various embellishment books. Are you on Ravelry? my name there is Cadymay, if you are.

And in reply to the dear anonymouses (what is the plural for anonymous?)
The spindolyn shaft experiment was a dud. It was a rubber sheath (that sounds kinky) to improve handling and twirl, and although the concept worked well, gravity bit me in the butt... it made too much weight to the center and decreased spin longevity, so, back to the drawing board.
No, at this time, I only make the spindolyns in one wood and with one finish. I have to keep things kinda simple for myself at this time, because I go back and forth to Mom's, and she doesnt have internet, so when I get back, I have to scramble to catch up, and then I get mixed up easily. (ok, Lea Ann, I know you are laughing, I have always gotten mixed up easily, but you have to admit, I do sometimes have my moments of clarity! lol)


And about Mom. Thank you to all who have sent well wishes her way. She is in a lot of pain, which is hard to watch. She is not a complainer, and so kind, intelligent and gracious. I try and imagine what she is going through, and I only know one thing...I believe I would be a whiner. I just am not that strong and unselfish. Maybe they just don't make em like they used to, but she is an inspiration.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stress knitting and self policing

A leaf a day keeps the doctor away.


This is what I told myself when I started this leaf edging; that I would sit down and knit one leaf each day and finish this neckline in a timely manner. That having set a goal, I would be forcing myself to give myself the needed "me time" that has been missing from my life lately and causing me some stress and performance reduction. The times we live in are stressful enough and focus and concentration on lifes beauty is easily elusive when we don't slow down.

Oh it worked great for the first two leaves, and then it started to feel like pressure, instead of the stress reduction that it was supposed to be.
This got me to thinking again about our motivations to knit and what aspects of knitting actually bring us the satisfaction we receive. It is a three part thing, I am realizing. The drug like satisfaction from knitting is comprised of 1) the actual act-the relaxing, repetitious meditative art itself, 2) the joy of learning and discovery when we incorporate a new technique and 3) the rush of accomplishment when we finish and hold up a three dimensional, functional object or art statement.

Having written that off the cuff, I realize there are probably more than three main aspects, its just struck me suddenly, and I like "threes"
The real point I am trying to get at is anything you do to yourself to stand in your own way of one of these aspects (like policing your progress, "cheating" on the pattern because you dont' want to have to read "complicated" directions but you really do want to learn the technique, or leaving mountains of unfinished and unsatisfying projects around, diminishes that fullness of your satisfaction in your knitting.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tall Cotton

The brown and green cotton I planted in the herb bed, next to the stevia, got off to a great start. It is tall and literally covered with blooms and immature bolls. With only one month (or less) left till average first frost, I truly doubt that the bolls will have matured enough to harvest any. Such a shame, because the pink and white blooms are so lovely and the plants so tall (a couple are over my head) that it looks so, so promising. Guess the beauty will have to be enjoyed without the cotton itself being spun...always hope, though!

Knitting in my Palm (part 2)

Finally got a chance to work some more on the leaf edging today, reading from my palm, and this reminded me that I might respond to Lea-Ann's comment about her frustrations with her computer and her palm not playing nice. She wrote
I *used* to luv my palm too . . until Outlook crashed and the sync from palm to computer actually didn't, and everything on the computer wiped out the palm :-( -- why don't they have a database backup???? Or a warning that "do you really want to overwrite everything on your palm to nothing??" URGH!! Do you sync yours to the palm desktop? Maybe I'll just go back and use it and forget about the whole Outlook sync thing. I never get through my e-mails anyway. Darn computers :-( . . . oh, have a nice day and I really like your new blog template. Lea-Ann
Yes, Lea-Ann, "darn computers".
But to answer your question. Yes, it is stupid the way it doesn't ask you when you crash, reformat or switch to a new computers, it just blithely over writes the whole thing...unless you remember when you start with a fresh computer, to set your first sync to "palm overrides desktop" then blink! you are back where you were (remembering to do that is the key, and they don't remind you, they expect me to remember something in the throes of a reformat? fat chance) But easier than that, there are several free or cheap third party software that let you back up its entire little brain to an SD card at the tap or a button or pre-set intervals (no brainer, I like that) Then you just reload it all off of the card if you ever slip up like that again (yes, I have done this more than once)
And no, I don't sync to outlook. I tried it. I think outlook is ugly. really ugly, I mean, like, distasteful to look at, too complex, too invasive of my thoughts and controlling of my work flow.
At first, I found the palm desktop limited and tried some third party database ad ons for it, but have grown to appreciate it's simplicity. I have mine skinned in (bet you guessed this) a lovely lilac, green and cream color, in the winter, it is skinned in lilac and ice blue and ocean green. (this is so unimportant, but it does relate to yarn color choices, so I toss it in here)
I now use google calendar, and use the freeware version of goosync to sync it to the palm (and palm desktop) calendar.
My friend Hunt's Poorly pointed out to me that it probably isn't a good idea to carry my brain around in a little box, but I find one little box easier to keep track of than a thousand little jots of paper hear and there. It disciplines me to record things in a tidy manner...my normal mo being a "scap paper jotter and loser"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Knitting in the "palm"

For a "mother earth type, back to the lander, fleece sniffing spinner" admitting that you "love"  a piece of technology is kinda difficult, but I have to be honest and say that, far into its 3rd year, I still love my Palm TX.


My first excuse reason for buying one was that I needed to be able to still check on orders, conduct business and work on my publications while on the road (mostly back and forth to Mom and Dad's and traveling to gigs with JB)

It needed to be in a very portable format (hauling a laptop into the waiting room when taking your parents to the dr. in tennessee is inconvenient and just plain weird looking) I convinced myself that I could get a whole lot of work done on it while waiting...little did I know that it would be mostly knitting work.

Back then, there were more free wi-fi spots than there are now (at least in TN) and keeping up online was easier, but over time, my palm has evolved into a beloved, glorified extra brain.

It does several things really great for me, and the one thing that is so fabulous about it, I didn't even count on when I first got it.

  • First...I can knit from it! with a simple "sync" into it is dumped the lace pattern, cable pattern, sock pattern, or whatever I am currently knitting..I don't ever lose my place, because with a tap, the cursor is at where I am at...if I have to turn it off, I can mark my spot with an symbol and easily pick up where I left off and erase the symbol. Since my palm goes where I go, and it takes a 2gig sd card,  I have loaded it with lots (and lots) of patterns that I have been meaning to try at my disposal (it has a search built in that will pull up exactly what you are looking for in seconds. This is an instant on, instant off sort of thing, no booting involved, so you can slap it open like a book and start knitting, toss it back in your bag when you get interrupted...have yarn, have needles, have palm, will travel!

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  • Second, it really has done what I had hoped, it has helped me design. I have a draw program installed, and I can sketch out ideas for vests or socks or color patterns, etc, sync them up and refine them later. I can knit on the road and write patterns as I knit and not fear losing little scraps of paper with important gauge notes or row counts on them, because everything is all in one place..amazing!

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  • Back in daily life, as a flexible calendar/agenda it helps me keep track of what I am supposed to be doing during each day. I can set alarms for going to the post office in time, starting the rice, whatever, In the evenings, I look it over, and can rollover things I didn't get to, delete things I must have been nuts to think I could accomplish, and make plans for a better day for tommorow, all in a little black box the size of a deck of cards that lives in my purse/knitting bag that I can't lose, because I have little sweet ignorable alarms set to go off daily that help me find it (and my purse and car keys) if I misplace it.
  • It acts as an amazing, flexible goup of shopping lists, post it notes and little reminders...I have shopping lists for stuff that must be gotten today(!) like dog food, stuff to get when I go the "big city" that cant be gotten around here, and a lust list (that, no surprise, is made up of yarns, and seeds and tree seedlings)
  • Another thing it does that  I didn't count on,  it has been a great garden/climate diary..when I made little notes in the calendar the two years previous about planting this or that, or soaking those or these seeds, or seeing this or that bird, I didn't realize that the next, and the next, year they would show up on that date as a reminder and a comparison of the weather and seasons.
  • Recipes! I cook from it too, and store a database of my current garden seeds, successes, failures, etc.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

nothing photo'd nothing gained

you know, if you are knitting, but too lazy to photograph anything, or say anything useful about knitting, then there is not much point in blogging about knitting, just knit anyway, that's what I say!

Here's the thing though, I may not have anything useful to say, but I have been having some useful knitting daydreams of late. We have had some cold nights, and this ol gal, who goes barefoot all summer long (yep, I'm one of those barefoot hillbillies) actually had cold feet!

Cold enough to put socks on for the first time since, oh, June, I guess.

When you put socks on for the first time in such a long time, that makes you wanna knit socks. It is an intense craving that rises up from the comfort and relief of those rapidly warming toes. Such relief inspires all kinds of sock daydreams of what you might knit this coming sock season, yarns and patterns and textures, oh my! I say...bring it on!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

back up and reload

back up and reload sounds like what you might do with your gun on the old homestead...
but the Knitting Any Way website is back up, crisis over. I got to thinking about backing up, reloading, and other such phrases and somehow my mind engaged in transferrence to bobbins and spindles (much more interesting than the back end of website maintainance)
I am wondering how many spinners have quantities of singles, wound off, waiting to be plied, and then forgotten while the lure of new fibers takes them off on another spinning tangent?
(that would not be me, of course, I am tidy, organized and ever efficient-bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Server down

strange thing, Lea-Ann of Knitting Today ding donged me the other day about my site (knitting any way) not showing up (thanks Lea-Ann)...I checked, it loaded just fine(but I should have checked the log right then) anyway...I hadn't visited my own site in a while (shameful!) but with making spindolyns (and working on a new design!) summer farm work, canning and visiting Mom I have been just too busy for web work. I noticed some things screwy, so I stayed up late into the night fixing stuff.

I have decided the whole site needs an overhaul when the rush is over, but then I thought, hey, the rush is never over..so then I thought perhaps I could devote 1/2 hour each night in the wee sleepless hours to it till it was vastly improved (or at least "tidied up considerable")...and in the wee hours of last night I made some improvement and thought things were taking off right pertly...until this afternoon.

Of course, I did not back up, and for some bizarre reason, I can't get into my site! at first I thought it was me but a check shows the server is down....down....down...(sung to a dirge)

I have been with this server for over 7 years and he ain't never been down before (that sounds like a blues tune lyric, doesn't it?) so now I am left wondering about reliability issues. If you have ever changed servers, you know it is as bad (if not worse) than a divorce.

if y'all are wondering too..well, I am here! (waving madly) just not visible...and wondering what to do.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

merino with morning coffee

Everyone's bliss is different. In the holler, there are many simple experiences that put me in the now. My porch early in the morning is a place I can count on for peaceful breezes and a variety of birdcalls , when I combine that with merino and coffee, my contentment is complete.

porchspinning

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

They're UP!

well, I got the Alto Spindolyn up on the website (where you can read more about it and how it compares to the original spindolyn)... but forgot to post about it here, where you see below a sneak preview of it, laying down beside the original spindolyn and some berry colorish merino..

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The other stuff up are the hull-less pumpkins, and the willow leaf lima beans in the garden. Up in the pasture, the black rasperries are beginning to ripen, and the blackberries are plump green. Guess I should talk more about the alto spindolyn, but if I have a minute, I would rather spin on it than write about it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Forget-me-nots for Dad's day

Even though I have been running in both directions lately, and still don't have the new Alto Spindolyn updated on the website, I wanted to take a minute to post a photo of these forget-me-nots that are blooming down by the pond and reflect a little bit. I appreciate y'alls patience with me.

forget menot

Some people are blessed with good looks or good luck, good location or great opportunities. Some people have to struggle to just get by.

I was blessed with great folks. Both my Mom and Dad are interesting and inspirational, smart and funny and the best friends I could ever ask for.

I feel blessed that I can still drive the 3.5 hours today to visit them on their farm. Every moment that I can still hear my Mom's laugh over the phone or feel my Dad's genuine hug in person is a blessing.

It doesn't seem to matter to my Dad that he can't remember 5 minutes, so he won't get the "full benefit" of it being fathers day. He will still be loving and cheerful, living only in the moment.

It doesn't seem to matter that mom's diagnosis becomes worse with each weekly doctor visit. She is still cheerful and inquisitive, positive and generous.

I will try and remember this always, and hope that I can strive to be this strong and sunny, no matter how difficult things become.

Monday, May 26, 2008

wagging tails and spinning yarns

This is Luke. Luke is a willing, if inept student. He would love to learn to spin on the new Alto Spindolyn, but he ain't the sharpest pup in the litter. He tries his hardest to be good at ranch security, but often barks at his own echo. He gets points for enthusiasm, though!

altospindolynandluke

I know I told some people that I would have the new Alto up on the website by this week...but I am still fiddling, formatting and installing on the new computer, and don't have the web software working quite right, and have orders to fill, but will get to the web updates asap, for now, here is the sneak preview.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

the cotton is high and so am I!

Not really, on either count (well sort of) but the cotton is up!



Oh! guess you would like to see it without a hair net?



you may be asking, why the hair net? cotton seed is very nutritious to little mice, and this is, an old cabin, after all. I have to protect all interestingly tasty seeds that I try and germinate, or I wait, and wait, only to discover upon close scrutiny little tiny foot prints, and little tiny holes dug in the flats, and all tasty seeds eaten.

And am I high? well I am pretty stoked about the most recent prototype for the new spindolyn that I finished this afternoon. I am actually happy with it and I got carried away spinning on it and lost track of time (a good sign) and it has not been tossed in the corner, into the growing pile of strange knitting and spinning prototypes that didn't make the mark with me.

No, I dig it, and am looking forward to more spinning on it this evening after the obligatory shower and tick inspection...
but best of all, I am caught up!! everyones spindolyn has been shipped....hooorayyy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Crummy Cotton and Catching up

Business first~
I am catching up! only running a week behind now, was so excited to "almost" have a post ready for this weekend saying that I was completely caught up! Then two things happened, we had an amazing local flood on friday (6 inches in 1 hour) the creek got out and destroyed a section of fence, driveway, etc, So had to stop everything and clean out the culvert.
Then my laptop adaptor jack quite working. I had to stop everything again and scramble to get the business data and your orders backed up to a desktop computer before the battery died, rats! foiled again. I am learning about laptops, they are kindly fragile.

cottonseed
Now on to spinning, the fun stuff.
I finished that lovely pill bottle cotton and wound it off on a piece of perforated pvc (say that fast three times) the better to dye the singles with my dear.
But when I dug around in my other pill bottle cotton, it was crummier than I remember, not nice like this last little bit, which is probably why it was sitting around in a basket un-spun.
So...what does a southern farm girl do? she declares in her Scarlet O'Hara style that "why, I shall just grow my own!"

brown cottongreencotton

Monday, March 31, 2008

Pill bottle cotton

First, wait list status-8 days went up to 10, I am waiting on a materials shipment (they mis-shipped the first shipment, argh!!!) sorry y'all.

I have been under some stress lately, so was opening a new bottle of B-complex, when out flowed some of the loveliest pill bottle cotton I have ever seen...prepared like fine puni, soft, real cotton, for sure.

I know, I know, I do remember the dire warnings and heated discussion years back on the original "spin list" about the perils of spinning pill bottle cotton, but delight in the texture and quantity overcame my fear. I admit, I am by nature, a "reckless spinner"

Throwing caution to the wind, I reached down beside the kitchen table into the overflowing box marked "rejects" for a Spindolyn and began sampling this cotton. Nice. Smooth. My mind moved into this mental fantasy of living in the Andes surrounded by swaying, glowing amaranth and having a huge family to divide all my chores while I sat graceful, brown skinned and happy with the richness of enough time to actually spin enough cotton to dye and knit a (rather than the traditionally woven) highly modified colorful little huiple, and as long as I was fantasizing, my entire village would be tolerant of my fiber explorations and unconcerned about me breaking traditions.

The thing about me and fantasy is that it never lasts more than 30 seconds before I am on to the "what if" stage... the inventing, designing, playing phase of "lost mental state while spinning" So I got this idea of using the "stop and start" ability of the spindolyn to make little boucle like blips (can't remember what you call them) Perhaps I could dye this strand something, then ply it with a strand of soysilk dyed something else so the little blippy knobby things would stand out knibbity colorwise and maybe, if I aim for a little amulet bag, it might be done in the next century.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Starting to surface

whee hoo! I am catching up! now only an 8 day waiting list!

You know, spinners are really nice folks. They are patient. That makes sense, of course, because if we weren't, we never would be able to spin enough for socks, let alone a sweater.
I have thought a lot about that as I work. I appreciate people's kindness and their advice .. "don't hurry on my account"
Spinners supportive words have, in a way, freed me from a stressed-out self imposed pressure, and helped me focus on working with "intent" and patience with myself, instead.

It actually moves things along as fast, if not faster, and certainly adds more to my merriment.

That's what I decree, as spring arrives, "more merriment all around!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Are you waiting on a Spindolyn??

If so, I want to first say, thank you for your patience!
It looks like the wait list is about 2 weeks at this point (If I told you 8 days, I was being a bit optimistic about my superhuman powers, and I had no idea that orders would pick up so drastically, and that I would be called out of town again, so it looks more like 14 days at this point)

Explanation part 1 (-the business stuff)
And thank you to all who have said such nice things, and who are enjoying their spindolyn and spreading the news...I am unsure where the news got spread (I am out of the loop right now) because I have NO time to read blogs or things right now because I am making spindolyns and staying with my Mom in between.
Night and day, time to make the spindolyns... No time to post, no time to knit, no time to garden, just spindolyns from dawn to dusk, sometimes I feel like Mickey Mouse in the Wizards Apprentice, but I know the rush will soon pass, and I will be wishing that someone would order a spindolyn because my phone bill is due or my electric bill overdue, and they are threatening to cut me off, or some such.

Don't misunderstand, though, I like making spindolyns, I like handling the wood, watching them spin, testing each one (honestly, I have to say, I hate cutting and polishing the brass, and their are a few motions involved in making the spindolyns that hurt my arthritis, but a little suffering is just part of the artists life, no?)
Mostly, I like packing them for people and wondering at the far away places or the cute addresses or the lovely names (spinners have some great names, my name is kinda plain)
Please just know that I am working as fast as I can...
Explanation part 2(-the personal stuff)
I appreciate all your private emails and kind thoughts wishing Mom well, her treatment (radiation for pancreatic cancer) is really wearing her down. I am spending as much of my time with her as I can, and the family is all trying to find things that sound good to her so she will eat. She used to joke that there had never been a time that she was too sick to eat, even when she had the flu, but now she says maybe she shouldn't have joked about it.
Thank you for your kind thoughts her way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Moving along

Seems like February is always the best knitting "idea" month.

But just when I get excited about a new technique or design, the month starts to take on a frantic frenzy of ideas, because the arrival of new yarn catalogues and new seed catalogues starts to coincide. How cruel is that?

Now it turns out that some of my new ideas are being put on hold because a project that I have been toying with for a while has bubbled up to the top due to shipping problems. Over the years, I have been right happy with the United States Postal Service, only a few packages have gone astray, and it was mostly pretty prompt.

But then here lately, unless I mail out via priority, pattern booklets have been arriving 2-6 weeks later! Rats. This is not going to work from me or my customers who find it silly to pay so much for priority when what they are buying will fit in a flat envelope.

So, I decided to break down and make the patterns available as downloadable ebooks. I have resisted this for a while but the time has come.

Well, you know how one thing leads to another...

While in the process of converting the patterns to ebooks, I have decided that some things need updating, photos and wording, and so forth, and the project is turning out bigger than I planned. But it will be better. I am working on the revision of Hats Volume 1, right now, and it will be the first one available as a downloadable ebook.

Next will be the socks, slippers and then finally the new unpublished patterns that I am most excited about.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

tornado update

Our power and phone were restored last night, I bow to the hard working utility guys who replaced so much, so quickly, and to everyone who came from from all over to help out. I also really appreciate everyone who sent me good thoughts.

It is difficult to write about my own good fortune, when so many have lost so much. It is redundant to say that the destruction was awesome, in a bad way. Not having power, I didn't see the news coverage, but in real life, I can say that although I have seen tornado destruction numerous times in my life, I have never seen anything like this, so wide and so long.

Tuesday I was in Perry county with Mom, during the day we had seen the radiologist and oncologist and then she and I and Dad spent the evening in the bathroom as the weather radio fired off over and over again as tornados blew over and around us. My brother and his family spent the evening in a cave with their neighbors as tornados blew around them near Centerville Tennessee.

After it all seemed to have passed, we went back to bed, but woke when I got a call from JB, who had driven 12 miles to get to cell phone service to tell me that the tornado had spared the holler, because he knew that when the folks turned on the tv in the morning and heard the communities mentioned and I drew the line in my head (I am a geography junkie) that I would draw it up the holler, across town and through the neighborhood where my son lives.

Fortunately, my mental imagery was a 1/4 mile off, both from my holler and my sons neighborhood. From the top of my ridge, you can see the trees laying down on the next ridge over, and roofs of houses. If the tornado had shifted its path just a small amount eastward my world would have been destroyed.

Since no one could be reached by phone,  I drove as fast as I could to see if I could find my eldest son, which took a whole day in the confusion (I never did, but his younger brother had driven from East TN to look for him and located him for me) his house was a few blocks out of the path, but with lines down everywhere and people trying to reach others it was chaos for a while.

One tip (I plan on posting more tips and things I learned during this when I am caught up with all the orders) make sure you have your cell phone charged, and one of those back up battery thingies for your cell phone, so that you can call everyone who might be looking for you, and save some loved ones grief and worry.

An entire 3 county area was without power and phone, so there was also no gasoline, so if you were on empty, you couldn't drive somewhere else to use the payphone, nor use your car charger to charge your phone.

In my case, since the path of destruction was so close and across both of my routes in and out of here, after I got in and they started blocking the roads, it was difficult if not impossible to get in or out.So I was stuck without power or phone here for the duration.

Wal-mart has its own generator, so they were the only place in town open, and in a short time, they were sold out of car chargers, those battery chargers for cell phones, C size batteries (for radios) and other important things.

This year the nation is already way above average for tornado and storm activity, so I urge everyone to get a weather radio and get their emergency supplies ready.

My luck was better than so many, I just lost all my food in the freezer, and my beloved, elderly blind mule, Dottie. She and I had many happy years of friendship and trail riding, and I will miss her. Her pasture mate, the paso fino mule Rose, misses her, too.

My heart goes out to my community and neighbors, as the loss was so great, and it will be a long road of recovery ahead. I do appreciate everyone's thoughts of love and strength sent this way.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

tornado

Our little town of Lafayette, Tn was devastated last night by a tornado, the death toll so far is 7, will know more when it is light.
I am posting from another county, but we do not have power or phone, and may not for several days. My cabin and family that I have been able to reach are fine, still need to touch base with others in town.
Customers need to be aware that without power, I am unable to process orders, nor answer your emails, I apologize for any inconvenience. I will try to get to internet access within the next few days and update, thank you for your patience.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

note

I will be out of town till Feb 07 and most likely will not have much (if any) access to internet. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Please send healing thoughts to my Mom.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

change

On the knitting front as usual for me, I have messed up the neck band three ways from sunday on the peach shrug and am still going to try and slide by with calling it "a custom design feature" (I learned that at Camp-I-Wanna Knit, where all mistakes are seen as blessings in disguise and a great excuse to pass the chocolate)

Somehow during Mom's biopsy I lost two stitches off of the width of the neck band that I am knitting lastly to attach to the shrug/bolero. Since it is narrow, I was using dpn, and  when Daddy and I went to get coffee, I shoved the work into my bag,  when I pulled it out of the bag, it slid off the needles, and when I went to slide it bake on, somehow I pulled the next smaller size needle out of my bag to pick it up again...

SO!! as my protective pixies would have it, it turns out that the narrow section will fall at the back of the neck (how convenient!) I thought about frogging, but I think I will accept it as it is...I am swinging around now to the front side of the neck, and I just have to figure out a gracious way to pick back up those stitches lost stitches to match how they were lost to begin with.....

Personal (to my customers)
"the doctor smiled, but the news wasn't good"
                 -Paul Simon, lyrics from "darling lorraine"
(as an aside, off subject and over in another ballpark, some lyrics from that song I also like are "what!? you don't like the way I chew?!".... I am groping for a little levity here, can you tell?)

Anyway...sigh. Bad news always makes us rethink things, rearrange our priorities, count our blessings, hold our loved ones closer.

When you are a one-woman show, it also can slow you down a little, so, I will try to not fall too far behind, but if your order is a day or two longer in delivery than I expected, well, I'm a trying..

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hybrid Knitting (or, how necessity names a style of knitting)

image

This peach bolero has been off the machine and on to the needles, off the needles and back on to the machine so many times that I decided to coin a phrase for this technique. I shall call it

....."hybrid knitting" a term for the use of both hand knitting needles and "hand knitting machine" needles in the construction of a single knitted item.

Last post I mentioned that I had picked up the neckline and the hem (of the reconstituted peach bolero) onto circular needles. So for a couple of evenings I knit along on the hem needle, making it up as I went. I didn't like it, it was too bland, and my arthritis in my forefinger is really bothering me and I don't want to waste my knitting time on something bland.

Meantime, my shoulders are cold, I have other shrugs, but I need this one, now.

Then as life has a way of doing, everything changed with a phone call, and Momma's news from her doctor visit was unexpected, so I am hustling to get the shop work done and will be gone to west tenn to be with her the first part of the week.

During the long hours of the procedure, I would like to have my knitting to hold my hand. I would like the hem to be done, so that I only have the one needle dangling and tangling around the knitting bag.

(ok, I am getting to the point here, really)

I slid the peach thing back onto the lk-150 needle bed by pushing each machine needle into the row below the current row on the hk needle.needletobed When every stitch was thusly stabbed, I removed the circular needle, ripped back the top row, threaded the carriage and commenced knitting several rows of basket weave stitch (3st x 3rows) Stopping every 3 rows to hand reform the purl blocks with the adjustable multiple latch tool, and the single latchet tool on the center purl stitch. It went pretty quick, finished it with some rows of stockinette, and took it off the machine back onto the double pointed needle for binding off.

This part is now finished, I will be able to concentrate on hand knitting the rest of the neckband in the hospital, without the dangly second needle, and hopefully it will be ready in time to show to Momma.

This is the beauty of hybrid knitting.

Friday, January 11, 2008

reconstituted peaches

I am telling this story backwards...because I told part of it on ravelry....so now, getting straight what is where is just one more organization thingie for the new year....sigh.

anyway..this iz a zig-zag bolero. It started life as a potential sweater, I began hand knitting the cable bands in 2005 at the club over Coronas  while JB was still playing with the BB Kings All Stars. I had hoped that it would be done in time for Camp Iwanna Knit 2006(ha-ha!) by that time, I had hand knit the cable sleeve insets and borders and machine knit the fronts, and had only sewn one band on...good enough for show and tell...

but I set it back and over time, in this cabin, mice ate part of the front and the other front was knit at the wrong tension..so I ripped it all apart and frogged the big pieces, keeping the cable bands (see photo, previous post)

Then I restarted it as a bolero instead of a sweater, because I need that worse than a full sweater, what with climate change and all, and I am not sure there is enough wool that hasn't had moth damage to do a full sweater....I have now done most of  the assembly and picked up the hem and the neckline to knit by hand...phew!

The knitting looks a little wrinkly, because I did not wash the yarn after I frogged it, just used it all kinky...because I am a little wrinkly and kinky myself, and I have no sense and even less time!

reconstituted peach

Monday, January 7, 2008

Peach progress

Perfecting my invisible seaming technique while working on this peach bolero. I thought I was one of those knitters who didn't like "finishing". But I am found myself actually looking forward to snatching some time to put together the panels into the sleeves, then the raglan sleeves onto the back. It is relaxing and enjoyable to run the smooth chibi in and out joining the hand knit edges to the machine knit edges, which don't really look any different from one another....only the fronts left to seam..

Well, not exactly, there will still be hand knit cable hem to attach..and the button band and neckline...I still haven't decided on them, plain or cabled? hand or machine?deconstructedpeach

electric blanket warning, Will Robinson!

Here is my sad tale (freak-out, but then everything turned out sorta ok, but not really) tale of woe of the last few days, so that you may learn from it..

First, let me confess, I am bad about not backing up regularly. (ok, truth is, I haven't backed up since, oh, about august)

Anyway, like the rest of the country, we have been through a temporary, but very severe cold snap. Severe enough that the cabin temperature for a few mornings was not above 45.

One of these evenings, I was climbing into my bed, which I was pre warming with an electric blanket. (I don't sleep with it turned on, afraid of emw, but use it to warm up the bed in my frigid room before I climb in)and suddenly remembered that I had not answered a customers email inquiry about spindolyn shipping options.

I got back out of bed and grabbed my laptop and booted up, after a couple of minutes, the laptop died and would not boot up. I will not go into the gory details of the fruitless boot loops, the tears, the research, the reinstall attempts, the self recrimination, etc, etc, but will cut to the chase. 

All evidence points to the likely possiblity that the electric blanket fried the bottom ram chip. After removing it, I am up and running, but limping along at half ram. I have spent a few days (and precious lost knitting time)reorganizing data, hooking up and reformatting my old dinosaur computer as a back up and learning the ins and out of syncing software., poor me, half ram is soooo slow, but I have to keep telling myself, could be worse!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

rustica-cata sock

I am a dog person, so cat lives here only because I try to be compassionate and fair minded towards all creatures. She does have an uncanny knack for being right where I planned on being next....she lays on the computer desk, my spot on the couch (note Southern Exposure Seed Catalogue, one of my identifying placemarkers this time of year) and even on the needle beds of the knitting (gasp!) machines. 2008 01 Jan 009I have found that aggravating her is the most entertaining way of removing her from where I want to place my derriere next and "draping" something upon her person is a good cat aggravating technique. Here we find exhibit "A" one sock of the rustica pair, in need of washing to settle the color repeat and soften the stiff romney wool.

I might be using cat as a sidetrack from the real issue. The chart on the sock did not turn out like I wanted..the tree rides right up into the chickens butt, and the chickens beak is snorting the evergreen. Back to the charting board.