Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A promise made good on....

here leprechaun!This is the third day in a row that popping in here on the blog has been a number 1 priority. From that, you may conclude that I am either lazy, a complete idiot, or just insanely busy. If you concluded any of those, actually, you'd be a little bit right but I'm going with the insane and busy combo because it seems most flattering in the pool of choices and if you know me, you know I'm all about protecting my stellar reputation (cough, gigglesnorts inserted here). Life has just been so crazy lately that the days all seem to melt into one and even if that happens - there aren't enough hours in the day to do half of what needs being done. Tis the plight of homesteaders in Maine - short growing season, short show season, sheep who think only of grass and never of the hard work their shepherd puts into protecting them, and ungrateful cats who insist on laying in the floor when you're busily hustling through the house to get that 'to do' list under control - as if they accidentally set you up to perform yoga/ballet moves in mid-air just to prove your shriveled heart isn't so small that you'd step on a kitty. The weather has been no help - warm, humid, and sticky with dots of thunderstorms in between just to mock your need to dry the laundry! There are rewards even to that, though, as evidenced here by the double rainbow (you have to really LOOK at the shadow one on the left) that swept over us on Monday.

she guards the lemon balmWith all the complaints issued, (you really wanted to hear all that whining, non?)one might get a little grouchy. Lemon Balm is a perfect antidote to that - a soothing herb to calm the nerves that adds a 'zing' to your sun tea. I love this plant and use it medicinally, topically (great for cuts and chapped skin), and in teas and dishes where I want a lemony flavor. Although, it grows so vigorously that I've been known to tear off a sprig and crush it in my palms just to inhale it yummy citrus fragrance. We'll sit with Ms. Lemon Balm a while and then all will be well.

patchwork baby 002Wait a minute, who's that in my lemon balm? This super tall weed may be unrecognizable to those of you who were around back in the beginning when she was a gawky pre-teen tiny little thing. Thing 1 has been waiting for months for the birthday dress I promised to make her. I did make ....uh...something. Only, it was really slinky and sort of overly funky and we just agreed it would make a comfortable night gown in the summer instead of a dress. So, I promised I'd have it for her by the Fiber Frolic. Uh, Smeagol lied? With the solstice coming up and our attending a gathering with friends this weekend, I decided it was long overdue and did what had to be done. I locked myself in the studio yesterday and got to it. It's an organic bamboo stretch fabric on top with some hemp/org. cotton and novelty fabric patchworking on the skirt with a sewn-in petticoat and double tiered bottom ruffle. patchwork baby 009She loves it, my promise has been honored (though late) and all is well. Isn't she cute? What? Don't all 15 yr. old girls like to be called 'cute' and taking pictures of them bent over in the garden? I'm doing my part to be the shocking embarrassment to my teenagers that I'm supposed to be!

There's been much knitting going on but nothing completed. Such is the saga of 'you can knit after you do these billionty tasks in 1/3 of the time you would need to actually get them done'. I am on the home stretch on some of them - others are new cast-ons that I am not ready to discuss because they too clearly depict the stress level of summer. Summer blooms and it is all about throwing your pollen out there and making the best of it. So, when your best isn't coming along quite like you planned - nothing consoles you like the promise of something new and possibly fool-proof since some of your knitting, let's face it, is done while you sleep sitting up.

pumpkin juice singlesBut, I have managed to get some spinning done. I loved spinning pumpkin juice into singles - which I did because I'm using it to make a hat/scarf thing for someone on my holiday gift list. When you're done doubting me and laughing wildly, let me explain. Each year, I go crazy around October and start having grandiose ideas that I'm some knitting super-hero. I manage to knit virtually nothing for myself until after December and my holidays are usually haunted with the dark reality that I didn't (and couldn't) have gotten it all done. While I despise change in its active formation, once it is in swing I generally jump right in. So, in studying my knitter's almanac and realizing that EZ (the greatest genius that knitting came to know as I continue to learn) suggests making mitts, etc. in the summer! Bloody Brilliant! So, the idea was set in place and boy oh boy has it festered. I now have knit one whole sock of a presumed pair for Things 1,2, and 3 for said holiday I used to dread.

The second I decided on the June batts for the Happy Hooves batt club, I knew they'd be something for my gal who loves all things orangey, peachy, and warm. I suggested in the notes a striping option and though I prefer pumpkin juice on its own - the color depth and variegation is, in my humble opinion, rather pleasing all by itself. But, I did suggest it and I also had a need for something a little more 'spicy' so I went with it. I pulled some green and brown roving from the stash and went for a semi-solid striping.

This is my favorite method for trying to consistently stripe a handspun yarn. I've found that if you have one ply of a solid, consistent color (pumpkin juice, in this case) and one strand that variegates, your stripes will be much less dependent on your exactness (or lack of in my case) for an even color distribution. So, for the second batt (spun on a separate bobbin), I needed only half of a batt of pumpkin juice. pumpkin juice goes stripey I ripped in in half lengthwise and then ripped the half down the middle again. I then took the two strips of pumpkin juice and laid them on the table. I added a strip of green between the two strips of pumpkin juice and a strip of brown on the end. Since I have this fancy carder, I carded them into one batt but you could just lay them next to each other and keep track of their sequence (pumpkin juice strip, green strip, pumpkin juice strip, brown strip). After I carded them together, I ripped the batt in half WIDTH WISE. Now I had two halves of a batt with the strips of color. I spun each half on its own bobbin and plied it with one strand of pumpkin juice.

pumpkin juice with stripesThe result? I think it will look stunning when knit into these. I loved the Minnesota Mittens the first time I saw them in Folk Mittens. But, uh, I was unaware of this technique it calls for that is written (don't know, really, how to say it) as 'tvåändsstickning' or two end knitting from the same ball. I'm a woman who knows her limitations so I'm knitting the strands from separate balls and making one strand be a solid pumpkin juice and the other being the striped version - I think the further diluting of the color array will make some really pretty covers for a patient soul's paws.