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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Big Changes Coming!

It has been a while since I last posted.  Many spinning and knitting projects have been started and completed.  I now own a 24" Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom, too! 

And now for the really big news:  As of 5pm on 8/28/14, I became an unemployed, retired nurse.  First, let me back up a bit.  As many of you know, we live in Appleton, Wisconsin, far from my birthplace of Marietta, Georgia.  We came here 8.5 years ago for my husband's career.  He is a project engineer with Gulfstream Areospace.  When we moved in, we had a child in college, a child in high school and a child in middle school.  A lot really did change in these years!  We now have a married daughter who is working on her master's degree in art, a son who is out of school and working at Basler in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and a daughter who is a junior at Kettering University.  Our nest empty.  And now, it is time for us to fly the coop, ourselves.

My husband has taken a new position as project engineer with Honda Jet in Greensboro, North Carolina.  We are working on the details; however, our fluid timing of departure from the Appleton area is 9/15/14. 

Leaving Appleton is not easy!  We have made many great friends here.  We want them all to come and spend some time with us, in North Carolina.  I predict January and February to be prime time for visiting down south!  For those of you who are not familiar with Wisconsin winters, the wind blows the sub-zero temps right through your clothing and your skin and into the marrow of your bones. 

If you know of anyone moving to Appleton, looking for a large home in a nice neighborhood, within walking distance to the local high school, please, let me know. We have so much to do to prepare for the movers to come- things to throw away, organize, give away, clean and a few repairs to make.  And then there is the selling of our least we were able to sell our sailboat, quickly.  Thank you, Craig's List.

Once we get to Greensboro, we will start the process of searching for a new home.  Then the unpack/set up of our household.  Once all of that is complete, I will begin work on my new career plans.  There will be more coming on that, at a later date.

I hope to find the time to blog again, as we go through this process.  We have done this several times, before, and I know sort of what to expect.  On the other hand, there are always those little surprises that pop up, unexpectedly.  Some are fun and others, not so much.  Overall, though, it will be a great experience, moving back to the region where we have so many friends and family who will once again be in close proximity. 

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Camp Loopy 2013 and a New Antique

Camp Loopy started on June first for all of us Loopy Groupies who love to knit with a purpose and a challenge.  For those of you unfamiliar, The Loopy Ewe is a shop in Colorado that sponsors a virtual summer camp for knitters.  You choose your project based upon the criteria described, purchase your yarn from the shop, and knit the project between the given dates (usually 30 days).  You then post your finished project at the website.  Those completing all 3 projects in time (and purchasing their yarn from the store) will receive a free skein of yarn at the end of camp.  I had a blast with this last year and decided to join again.

My first Camp Loopy project for this summer is the Billowy Delight scarf which I am knitting in the Alpaca with a Twist Fino laceweight yarn in the Duchess Blue colorway.  I love the way this is knitting on the bias:
Other than the start of Camp Loopy, I have several new acquisitions to share with you.  I have a new antique spinning wheel!  My friend, Deb, has a business where she organizes estate sales.  She has been on the lookout for a spinning wheel for me, for some time.  I knew next to nothing about antique wheels- I still don't know enough; however, she told me about a family with a wheel to sell.  Long story short, I purchased the wheel but it was not in usable form.  My husband and I took it to the master craftsman at Woolgatherer's in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin for repairs.  Thanks to Hans, I have a beautiful, working antique wheel: 

As you can see, I have been spinning on this single treadle, saxony style wheel.  It took a little getting used to at first, but it works very well.  The family from whom we purchased the wheel thought it came over from Germany.  Hans located a few wormwood holes and, along with the general design, confirmed that it is of European origin.  This wheel was handcrafted and has no markings.  There is no telling how old it may actually be!  I plan to hand it down to my children- it will go to the one who learns to spin.....

 In case you are wondering, am spinning Corriedale Fiber from Into the Whirled, colorway Irohamomigi.  I have spun about 2 oz onto the first bobbin.  I am going for a fractal spun 2ply in a DK weight.  This fiber was gifted to me by my Stockinette Zombie Retreat Swap partner, who is Wenmig on Ravelry.  I am hoping to have this completed by June 20th when I head to Rochester for a weekend of knitting, fun and new fiber friends!

My other recent acquisitions for this month are included in the picture, below.  Starting on the top left with the 20 ounce bag of fiber from Spunky Eclectic in Falkland colorway is Glacial.  I am hoping to spin a sweater from that!  On the bottom left you will find more Into the Whirled fiber, a merino/silk blend in the Lavinia colorway.  This is for the Knitabulls ITW Downton Abbey SAL. The final 3 bags of fiber in the picture are all from Southern Cross Fibers.  I have 2 bags of Shetland in Tiger's Eye and 1 bag in Moss Gathering.  The yarn is Wollmeise in the 100% merino.  These are from a grab bag I ordered. 
Everyone have a great week and keep your knitting fantasy well fed and growing!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

And the winner is.....

Last week I offered a prize to be drawn for the person who came up with the scarf pattern for me to use to knit my husband a scarf with the Bare Naked Wool.  The winner is Lotus Blossum, who came up with the pattern Three For the Road.  Great job!  I really like this masculine looking pattern.
So, Lotus Blossum, please private message me on Ravelry, where I am NurseKimKnits, and let me know which Ravelry giftable pattern of $5 or less you would like and I will get that to you as soon as possible!  Congratulations!

I was able to complete my February Lady's Sweater this past week.  One thing I really appreciate about my Ravelry project page is the ability to see that it took me just 23 days to knit that sweater.  After knitting this, I feel it was a very easy sweater.  It would be a nice challenge for the beginning knitter who is a bit adventurous.  Granted, I did modify the sleeves to include decreases because I do not like floppy sleeves.  At any rate, it is a warm sweater, made of 100% alpaca, and I am enjoying wearing it.
When I finished this sweater, I experienced a feeling I have not had in many years.  It brought back memories of being in college.  After the last final of the semester is completed, that feeling of lack of purpose set in.  Wow!  That sure was a blast from the past.  In order to combat that I thought a simple project might get me through this.  And it did!  Although I think it looks more like a mouse, this is supposed to be a lamb from the Farm Animal Finger Puppets by Fiona McTague.  I made it out of a worsted weight acrylic and adjusted the stitch counts, accordingly.  This little guy is currently on its way, via USPS to my World Vision child I sponsor, in the Dominican Republic.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, I would highly recommend the World Vision group.  You are allowed to send small gifts and they have a monthly automatic deduction from your account, making this very convenient.  I can also send letters to my child and her family by e-mail, saving me postage.  Occasionally, I get letters from her family and drawings she has made, as she is not old enough to write on her own.  I feel strongly that we all need to help someone outside of ourselves and from whom we have no expectation of receiving anything, in return.  This makes for a better world and a more humble self.  

If you listen to any knitting podcasts, chances are good that you have heard about the new e-book of patterns from Alana Dakos entitled Botanical Knits.  When I heard about it, I decided to look it up on Ravelry and wow, was I blown away.  Once, I heard someone say you should not buy a magazine or knitting book unless there are at least 2 or 3 items you would like to knit.  Well, with this guidance, it was a no-brainer for me to buy this book.  I like every single pattern in it!  Naturally, having just finished a sweater, I gravitated toward choosing another.  My next sweater will be Entangled Vines.  And of course, I need yarn to knit the sweater; so, I ordered this lovely yarn...:

...from the renowned Miss Babs.  I must tell you, I have drooled over this particular yarn for some time!  I first saw Miss Babs, herself, with all of her lovely fiber and yarn in Nashville at SSK 2012.  I just did not have a vision for sweater knitting, at that time.  I then drooled over her yarns at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in the fall of 2012.  When I saw that sweater pattern, this is the yarn that immediately came to mind.  And then, there was this color....I am now on mailbox vigil, waiting, itching to get this project started.

As I wait, I have pulled out my Metro to see if I can get that completed before the yarn gets here.  Now there is a worthy challenge for a knitter with "cast-on-itis!"  This weekend, I have joined the shoulders and started the sleeves.  This type of sleeve is a picked up, set in sleeve.  This gives a very nice, tailored look to the sweater.  I will just say that I have restarted the first sleeve 3 times.  I am finally happy with what I am doing- and I wrote it down, this time, on my pattern!  That way, sleeve 2 will have a better chance of looking like sleeve 1......  This sweater is made of the Vintage yarn I won from DramaticKnits podcast.  When I finish this sweater, it will have only cost my the price I paid for the pattern.  What kind of deal is that?

And now for some spinning!  My Completely Twisted and Arbitrary spin along of my Southern Cross Fiber in the Storm's Edge colorway is coming right along!  Funny thing is, in my last spinning session, I thought, "Oh, wow, I am over halfway finished with this, I wonder when the color changes." So, I looked down and poked around in my basket of fauxlags arranged in gradient order and realized that I am not about to start the final layer, but there are 2 more layers below the next!  I have barely begun spinning!  But it is so beautiful- I could not be happier with this discovery!

I also enjoy spinning with my spindles, too.   This summer, at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool, I picked up a 4 oz braid of mixed BFL from Gale's Art in what is commonly known as "naked" colorway. That means there is no dye added- this is the color God gave the individual sheep.  I began spinning this fiber on my Trindle, a special spindle, and fell in love with the yarn!  I stopped spinning that fiber and ordered more- enough to make a sweater.  With that fiber set aside, I still had the bit of fiber I had spun up on my Trindle.  I took that fiber and was able to successfully Andean ply (making a 2 ply yarn from a single length of one ply yarn) on my Trindle!  This was my first plying on any type of spindle.  Here are the 8 yards of yarn I made:

Because I plan to make a sweater, I thought a nice little swatch to see how this knits up would be in order:

I believe that I will like to have a sweater with this natural look.  The BFL yarn hs a really nice to feel when knit, too.  

That's all I have for this week.  Remember to keep your knitting fantasy alive by feeding it often!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review Week on Knitting Fantasy

It came, it came!  My newly discovered yarn from Bare Naked Wools finally came!  Now I say finally, not because it took so long, but because I was impatiently waiting for it to come.  Here it is:
I ordered the Breakfast Blend DK in colorway Burnt Toast.  This gorgeous 3-ply yarn is a next-to-skin oh so soft blend of 60/40 merino/alpaca blend.   My dear hubby Jim really likes this yarn.  With 2 skeins at 250 yards each, I am thinking he will get a new scarf from this.  If anyone should have a pattern suggestion for a masculine scarf pattern, I would sure appreciate your commenting to this post and letting me know.  Should I choose your pattern suggestion to knit for Jim, you will win a small prize (a Ravelry giftable pattern of $5).  So get your suggestions in!  This is actually going to be a review in 2 parts- now that the look and feel of this yarn have been appraised, once the scarf is underway, I will review it again.  So stay tuned for part 2.....

My next review is on the new Knitter's Pride Karbonz circular needles.  I obtained my US 1.5, 2.5mm 32" circulars from my LYS, Iris Fine Yarns, in Appleton.  My current project with these needles is a pair of vanilla socks in 3x1 ribbing for my son in law.  The yarn is Highland Handmades Sugar Maple Sock in the Rare Breed colorway:
If you have been following me for anytime at all, you will know that my all time favorite needles are my Addi-turbo Lace needles and that I am a fan of magic loop.  I find no difference in the Addi cable and the Karbonz cable, other than the color.  Both have the same feel to me.  Both needles have nice joins- my yarn slips easily across from the cable to the needles.  Here is the one difference:  My Addi sock needles in the same size are bent and I cannot bend these Karbonz!  I give the Karbonz a 5 out of 5 stars for the sock needle size. 

My February Lady's Sweater is coming right along.  I have bound off the body and one sleeve is complete.  I made some significant changes in the sleeve portion of the pattern.  I don't care for floppy sleeves on the sweaters I wear, so, I decreased by 1 stitch every 4 rows for 14 times, then I decreased every other (knit) row for the rest of the sleeve to the cuff.  There are no decreases in the cuff.  My cast off is like a stretchy bind off but I did it in purl.  I like the look pretty well- what do you think?

And now for some spinning....this is my first time ever working with Southern Cross Fibre.  I am spinning the Polwarth/Cashmere/Silk (aka PCS) in the Storm's Edge Colorway.  I was fortunate to be able to order an 8 ounce bump.  Last week you saw my fauxlags spread out on the den floor, as I tried to arrange the rolls in color gradient order.  I am now using a laundry basket to keep them organized.  I use wax paper sheets between the layers.  I don't have a lot of progress, this week- something had to give.  But I did spin enough to let you know that I love, love, love this fiber!  The prep is phenomenal and I understand why David's fibers are in such high demand.  Way to go David!

Time.  It is the one commodity that we really need but cannot trade, swap or add to our personal allotment!  This week, I could use twice the time that normally occurs in a 7 day time period.  A great thanks to my wonderful husband, Jim, who has done a major portion of the basement clean up that had to be done this week.  On Tuesday, we are expecting the delivery of a new treadmill, to our newly converted from a teenage hangout to an exercise room.  My personal goal is to run my first 5K on May 11 of this year.  I have signed up to run the Sole Burner in Appleton, Wisconsin, as a member of the ThedaCare Cancer Care team.  This treadmill will help me to train, as we still have a significant amount of snow on the ground and I simply refuse to run outside when the temperature is less than 40° F.  It is a matter of being able to breathe! 

And so, once again, we come to the end of our time together.  For those of you new to my blog, thank you for taking a peek.  For returning readers, thank you for coming back for more.  For everyone, keep your knitting fantasy alive!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Knitting and Spinning go hand in hand!

Ok so, when I don't feel well, I don't spin much.  This fact delayed the completion of the my latest spinning project.  Now that I am back to myself, I have a lot of spinning to make up for, here!

 My project that lanquished on my wheel was my Shetland fiber in the Embers colorway by Highland Handmades.  I used that fiber in the Ravelry group Completely Twisted and Arbitrary Spinners for the Fauxlag Challenge.  I took the fiber and lightly drafted it, rolled it into fauxlags, separated the colors out so that they flowed into a gradient and spun them using the long draw method.

The good news is that the fiber was patient and waited for me to complete the spinning process.  I chain plied this yarn, creating a 3 ply yarn that maintains the colors as separate (as opposed the barber pole effect one gets with a 2 ply).  This was a full 4 ounces of fiber, I started with.  My finished yarn measured 84 yards.  That is a chunky yarn! So what do you do with a chunky yarn?  Knit a hat, mittens or cowl, of course!

I am calling this my Sunday morning cowl.  We got up too late for church, this morning, so, I spent my time knitting.  It was a quick, fun knit and this Shetland wool is very warm!  We went out on Lake Winnebago for a walk and I wore this.....although the temperature was 20°, I stayed nice and toasty!

  I have decided I like this type of cowl because it can be pulled up onto my head to cover my ears, if I should not have a hat handy, too.  In this picture I am actually standing out on the frozen lake, you can see the shore behind me, where the vehicles are parked right on the edge of the land.  And yes, those are tire tracks around where I am standing.  There were trucks, motorcycles, snow mobiles and 4 wheelers out on the ice, while we were there.  This is winter in Wisconsin!  It is like a calling of nature for the people to go out on the ice and fish, drive and play around.

My next spinning project is already underway.   This is a Polwarth/Cashmere/Silk blend in Storm's Edge from Southern Cross Fibers!  I am in awe of this gorgeously dyed fiber.  It is spinning like a charm.  I am not using the long draw method on this; I need more practice, first! As you can see, I did roll it all out into fauxlags.  This is a full 8 ounces and will take me some time to spin it all- I am spinning it pretty thin.  Please stay tuned for further updates on this project.

Last week I shared my woes of the Lady's February Sweater.  After taking medication and trying to knit the lace pattern, I had a miserable fail, necessitating a 6 row frog.  Well, I took a deep breath, pulled my needles and ripped it back.  Now, here is a tip:  When you rip back on a pattern, use needles 3 to 4 sizes smaller than you are knitting with to pick those stitches back up, once you have ripped back far enough.  It is easier to pick up the stitches without having them pull out further than you intended.  As you can see, I have made good progress.  Per the amount of yarn knit into this project vs what I have left, I am over 30% finished with this project.  That is exciting and gives me the "mojo" I need to keep on going!  I am knitting this sweater as part of the KAL sponsored by 2KnitLitChicks group on Ravelry.  If you are interested, it is not too late to join as this will be going through the end of March.  I am on track to finish in plenty of time!

I am still waiting on my Bare Naked wool to arrive.  For next week, I plan to have a review of the new Karbonz needles by Knitter's Pride.

So, until next week, keep your knitting fantasy alive!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Knitting and not so much Spinning

Happy Sunday to everyone!  I woke up feeling pretty well this morning and things are only getting better.

In the past week, I have done no spinning.  My Highland Handmades Shetland fiber in the Embers colorway is just sitting on my wheel.  I was a little bummed when I looked over at my bag full of fauxlags for this project and discovered that it had tipped, spilling my previously gradientized rolls all over the floor.  I did my best to put them in order- oh well, the spinning will tell how well I did!

As it turns out, this past week has been pretty great for my knitting!  I completed a previously almost finished project, my Great American Afghan Square #6.  The finishing french knots and bullions were added and viola:
Now to start Square #7.  I have a beautiful dark green Cascade 220......

In the meantime, my Lady's February Sweater was coming right along:
Yes, I did say the word "was."  A dose of cough syrup with codeine combined with the gull lace pattern (which you don't see here because it is embarrassing how I messed that up) spells frog.  I am thinking I may rip back to the point you see here, because, this looks ok.  More on that in my next blog report.

Back on November 15, to be exact, I started knitting a sweater out of Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere for my coworker, Tandi.  She is having a baby girl, her second daughter.  I am knitting the Maile Sweater by Nikki Van De Car.  If I were smart, I would read through my patterns and swatch before I start to knit.  I don't know if I don't do these things because I am really stupid or craving weird knitting adventures.  Well, I got a true adventure with this sweater!  Now, giving credit where it is due, Nikki says, in the pattern itself, that the construction of the garment may be altered to make it easier on the knitters hands and needles.  But you have to pre-read your pattern to catch that.  I just blindly followed the instructions- until I saw how stretched and ugly my stitches had become, under the arm area.  That was sometime ago, I think even before Christmas.  I put the whole project into time out.  No problem, until Wednesday of this week.  I looked at Tandi and that baby has dropped!  Unmistakeably!  She is due the first week in March, but, this is her second baby.  Out came the sweater and off with those sleeves!  I even reknit the last 2 rows of both sleeves and the sweater body to get rid of those ugly stretched out stitches.  Then, I cast off 5 stitches on each sleeve and 2 sets of 5 stitches each on the body where the bottoms of the sleeves come together.  That gave enough ease for me to easily magic loop and complete the sweater.  So, here is my second finished project for this week:

I would like to make this sweater again.  Only this time, I will cast off the sleeve and underarm stitches, the first time around!  Maybe one day, when I have a grandbaby of my own......

Next time, I hope to be able to review a new yarn for you.  I found Bare Naked Wools while tripping through new groups on Ravelry.   I am intrigued, so I ordered 2 skeins of Breakfast Blend (merino/Alpaca 60/40) in the Burnt Toast colorway to try out. 

Until next time, keep the fantasy alive!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Welcome back to Knitting Fantasy.  Last week I ended with a picture of the Fisherman's knit sweater I planned to frog.  The good news is I did finish frogging.  The sad news is I ended up with about 800 yards of curly mess:
 From this picture, you can see what the yarn is supposed to look like in the front skeins.  I even went ahead and started my February Lady's Sweater so I can participate in the 2 Knit Lit Chicks Podcast sweater KAL.  When I tried to knit with the curly yarn in the back, my stitches were uneven and the effect was just awful!  So, what to do?

Years ago, I read of this dilemma, somewhere.  I remember that the person steamed the yarn and stretched it by hanging it with weights.  The more I contemplated this problem, the more I thought about how some of my handspun yarn looks, when it is a little overspun.  A nice soak in a bath of hot soapy water, a little thwacking and that yarn straightens out and looks nice.  Why wouldn't the same treatment work on this frogged curly mess of yarn?

I pulled out my niddy noddy and went to work.  It is almost dry now and after all that good yarny spa treatment, here is what I have:
This yarn is ready to be wound from the skein into balls for knitting.  So, when you re-purpose your yarn, don't be afraid to prep it as though it were handspun.  Honestly, this yarn is like brand new!

Right around Christmas time, I got the bright idea that I would like to make The Great American Afghan using all of the squares in the book of the same name.  I am using similar earth tones to those in the book in Cascade 220 superwash.  So far, I have finished blocks these blocks:

I started with block 2 by Paula Levy because I was limited in the 
colors I had available.

I then moved on to block 3 by Traci Bunkers.  This has cables on the sides and bobbles down the middle.   So far, so good. 

After knitting all of the pieces for block 4 (see below for details) I moved along to block 5 by Jacqueline Jewett.  This one was quite a challenge, but not impossible.  Eventually, I was able to complete all of the bobbles!

This is block 4 by Celeste Pinheiro.  At least this is the base block.  The left side are cables intended to look like waves of water and the right side of the block is supposed to represent sand.  I have also knit a crab and a shell to go on the sand and 3 fish to swim in  the water.  I chose a contrasting color (butterscotch) for these items so they will pop on my square. 

And finally, I am working on block 6 by Maureen Egan Emlet.  I need to add the french knots and bullion knots to finish off the flowers.  In the book, they use pale green for these.  I plan to use cream colored yarn for these finishing touches.

In the midst of knitting all of this, I watched a podcast, which shall remain unnamed, in which the podcaster talked about this same afghan.  She and her friends decided to knit these squares and make a baby blanket for a friend.  They decided that it was just too difficult and bailed on many of the squares.  At first, I found this disheartening news.  Then, as I thought about my struggles to learn so many new stitches and techniques just to finish what I have done so far, I decided that surely the podcaster and her friend could complete this project if they did not have a strict time limit.  These blocks are taking me a whole lot longer to complete than any I have ever done before.  They are stretching, challenging and teaching me many new things.  And from this, I have learned that time limits can become an impediment to my knitting process.

This week I was delighted to discover a new podcast (to me).  It is Knit Nerd podcast.  And to my absolute delight, there is a thread for completing afghan squares!  I am so in on this one!  Hopefully this will keep me going all year long so that I can complete my afghan with the group.  At the same time, she only requests a square a month with the ability to post each quarter.  I have come this far with my 5 squares since Christmas so I think I can keep the pace.  If not, I need to remember my lesson above that the knitting process is more important that self-imposed time limits.

That is about all I have for now; so, remember to keep your knitting fantasy alive!