Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Knitting With Nieces

Five years ago, I gifted my first two nieces matching sweaters. Niece number 1 then learned the knit stitch, which I chronicled here. Today, we did a quick review and then went straight to a lace pattern.

Very little conferring was needed, even to interpret the lace pattern. She just learned the symbols and asked an occasional question about the execution of a stitch. Slowly but surely she made her way through the pattern. The purl stitch; so much patience needed! Whew!

We used the snowflake part of the Snowflake
Sweater pattern by Tin Can Knits.

Let's show some serious appreciation for the fact that she used relatively tiny needles (size 3) and DK weight yarn.  The stitches are so even and look professional.What an amazing crafty young lady!

The evening could not end without a quick lesson on blocking, the most important part in the finishing process.

I can't stop blogging without bragging about my niece one more time. Check out these lovely place tags she made for our festive holiday dinner. She even painted the faces on the button to make it look like a snowman. She is My People!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Bye Bye Bella Oak

Tonight we bid a tearful good-bye to Bella, who died unexpectedly this afternoon while we were away in Chicago. Bella is the beautiful brown alpaca in all of these pictures, and was a big prize winner in her youth. Her fleece was so soft and fine.

Her other herd sisters will remember her as bossy and a bully trying to steal all of their hay and grain. Bella had the best indignant groan/grunt to keep them away from the food containers!

We are once again indebted to our neighbors, who took her to the Purdue Animal Hospital, about 2 hours away, this afternoon. The clinic will be doing an extensive autopsy to see if our other alpacas are at risk. Hopefully this is yet another mysterious death of some kind of natural cause. In the meantime, we mourn the loss of the only alpaca you didn't mind being touched if you sidled up to her quietly.

Rest in peace, sweet Bella. 2005 to 12/22/2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Knitty Kitty

Well, this update confirms some cat + knitting cliches. China Cat Sunflower is a very rambunctious teenager, but is somehow gaining some self-control around yarn and needles. I can't get my video of him playing with knitting needles to load. That's how I usually keep him from batting around the items on my lap! Enjoy the photo array below, followed by a book recommendation.

If you need to read a book about these topics to a three-year-old, check out this oldie-but-goodie title: Knitty Kitty. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Just Waiting for My Tea to Cool

It's that insane part of the year, filled with way too many activities, vegetable canning, playing exam grading responsibilities, playing music professionally, etc, etc. And the weather is offering up (a few) cooler days. In other words, it would be nice to knit every now and again, both to take the edge off of all the stress and to celebrate Fall. A few years ago I deliberately delayed mindless knitting, trying to force myself to be creative and productive in every facet of my life. Fortunately I realized the error of my ways, so I could learn from them at a later date...

This year I am simply reaching for a new Done by Monday blanket that I started last summer and following that easy pattern when I have the urge. Plus, I definitely need to stay productive while I am waiting for a quart jar full of boiling hot peppermint tea to cool down every few hours on the weekend. This is not the season that offers rest for the weary, after all!

Happy Fall! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chop Chop!!

Well, here we are again: another three years has passed and I cut off another foot of hair for donation. I am too lazy to go to the hairdresser, so my hair keeps growing longer and longer. Cute kitten is a bonus in this new short hair shot!

We've also had lots of tree work done recently. Today a friend came over to chop down the weeds, which you can see here, are taller than a human.

The backyard is so nice and clear. We need to burn the wood piles this week, and then we'll be ready for discing and putting in the pasture next weekend!

Three cheers for fresh looks!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fifth Birthday Love

A number of years ago, my mother handed me a stack of mail that I had received for my 5th birthday. I was so overwhelmed by the loving and sweet words from friends and relatives that I made a vow to do better remembering and cherishing the people important to me. (My follow-through is underwhelming; apologies to all who should be honored better by me.)

As it turns out, I also received a Knitting Nancy from my Godmother that year, thus launching my knitting career. The Knitting Nancy has enjoyed cameos on this blog here and here.

Coincidentally, I became aware of two new picture books featuring knitting this year. In addition, a nephew and a niece turn FIVE today, and both love to work with their hands. So I had decided to make a crafty/reading birthday for them. I hope it is a special, filled with great people and memories as mine was!

For my niece, I got "A Hat For Mrs. Goldman," pom pom makers, and some fun yarn. The little girl in the book assists Mrs. Goldman's hat-knitting by making the pom poms for the top of each hat. There is more to the story, but I won't ruin it for those of you wanting to read it yourselves.

I gave the gift early, during our family vacation, and we learned how to make pom poms on a sunny afternoon. I wasn't sure if she was that thrilled with it after making one.

But a few days after vacation, I got this picture in a text! She was making a bunch for her cat at home!

"Argyle Fox" is a book about a playful boy fox who has trouble having fun on a windy day. He solves his problem with a craft project that includes knitting. Again, I won't give any spoilers! To go with this book, my nephew also received his own Knitting Nancy and lots of yarn scraps from my collection.

Here we are trying to master this fine art! Notice I found a zoom feature in my photo editing to check out the detail of the hands at work.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear new 5-year-olds! Here's to books, and crafts, and lots of loving from your Auntie E and Unc!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I Was Enabled, I Promise...

Forgot to post this lovely skein of yarn while still in Vermont.

I had a souvenir yarn rule: one skein, or if I actually had a project, enough for the project. The Farmer had another idea: you can get souvenir yarn in every town!

How does one resist more ultra-soft, locally produced yarn from a shop named The Whipple Tree in Woodstock, VT? Well, it looks like I need to knit a second hat! Or some mitts… Thanks, Farmer!

Yarn is Corriedale and Cormo blend in a natural white from Savage Hart Farm, 137 yards in DK weight (2oz) from this year. You can find their farm blog here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

China Cat Sunflower

A week ago Wednesday, we had a very violent early evening thunderstorm in the neighborhood. It cleared up after dinner, so I decided to take my semi-regular walk. About a half mile away from home, I suddenly hear the tiniest and most urgent set of meows I have ever heard, and out of the tall grass in the ditch emerges one of the smallest kittens I have ever met. To avoid stepping on the kitten's head (and honestly trying to discourage the kitten from following me home), I ran all the way home. Alas, kitty cat has a relentless bounding stride and even the last steep hill on the driveway did not deter it.  Both The Farmer and I said, "We cannot have a cat right now." But then this happened the next morning:

Hanging out… looking forlorn.
Hello? (Getting curious…)
Hmmm, smells pretty good! (Cat liked the alpaca poo stench, apparently!)
Put your phone down and pet me-ow!!!
Never mind, I think I'll lurk around the deck.
Wait, didn't you give me some milk last night?
Must! Climb! On! Your! Neck!

Ladies, and gentlemen, The Farmer ended up taking the cat to the vet instead of the pound. Meet China Cat Sunflower, who loves to cuddle, meow, play, and climb anything you let him. We are letting him get a little bigger before unleashing him on the mice and the chipmunks in the barn. In the meantime, he is keeping us entertained!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cool Slice of Watermelon

Who doesn't love a cool slice of watermelon in the middle of a hot summer?! That's what I thought when I spotted this free infant cardigan pattern on ravelry a few weeks ago.

I needed to make something in the 18 month size.

(click picture to make larger)
I also dislike purling, so I thought joining in the round and making a dress would solve that little problem easily.

Let's just adore some cuteness on the model for a few minutes!

Oh yes, we needed some after-thought bloomers to complete the ensemble. Thanks to MountainMaeBaby on Etsy for sending these directly to the young lady in question; they arrived exactly on time before I had to leave.

What a treat to be able to visit with family and give my niece her birthday presents a few months early!

(click picture to make bigger)
Directions for upsizing the pattern are on my ravelry project page found here.

Stay cool! Enjoy summer, while it lasts… Have some watermelon!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Perfect Rainy Vacation Day

Some of my favorite vacation days contain massive amounts of rain. My favorite hike (Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park, 2001) was possibly my favorite rain-drenched vacation day, but today is a pretty close second. A much different vibe, Burlington, Vermont, bed and breakfast stay, and a local jaunt through some great local businesses.

My two favorite spots were the Lake Champlain Chocolates tour and chocolate shop and the NIDO fabric and yarn store. Nothing like locally sourced ingredients for delicious chocolates and great explanations of how your favorite confections are created. My skein of souvenir yarn was made from a sheep named Thelma and a mohair goat named Louise from a farm in Shaftsbury,VT. I know I don't need any more yarn considering the formidable amount of boxes of Shady Grove Alpaca skeins sitting in my own home, but how can you not support a local store while vacationing? Plus, heart be still, the shop featured an entire wall of Brooklyn Tweed yarns… 

Say no more, I am noshing on fine chocolates with a pot of hot tea and knitting a hat while looking out of the window of a delightful inn. Perfect way to spend a rainy vacation day, I'd say.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Annual Buzz Cut

Last Saturday finally arrived after the poor alpacas had to carry their fluffy fleece around for an extra month. Our shear team had multiple scheduling conflicts, so we waited…

And waited...

As usual, we asked ourselves if we are feeding them enough… such skinny bodies underneath the richness of the fiber!

The alpacas were thrilled to be free of their winter coats as the temperatures soared into the mid 90's shortly after their buzz cuts.

Only one hot pack member is left. Poor Tenny will have to wait until her undercoat falls off in about a month. In the mean time she is not complaining about the loving brushes she is getting to encourage the shedding process! 

All the best summer wishes!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Twitchy Mitts

I have an annoying addiction to my cell phone, so I decided that I needed to do something about my twitchiness over Spring Break. Every time I was tempted to pick up my phone, I would reach for the knitting needles instead. The plan was not fool-proof, so I also made myself add knitting time to equal the time I spent on the phone. With no real effort, these wonderful mitts finally made a debut:

I've had my eye on the Spring Foliage pattern by Alana Dakos since it was published, and last year procured the pattern book for very little money in a yarn store that was liquidating its merchandise. 

(click on this and next two images for full size photo)
The yarn had also traveled around the world during this trip. I never got past the first cuff on that iteration of mitt knitting. The dream of mitts will only die if you make some, it turns out!

The worsted weight Malabrigo Rios yarn combined with small size 3 needles made a very dense fabric. They will be of better service next fall when the days are less than today's 79*. Complete notes on Ravelry found here.

Finally, I have a set of mitts to go with a shawl/ scarf that I made during a different Spring Break that was ultra snowy. 

Here's wishing you a beautiful Springtime with great knitting projects! Maybe next break I'll twitch by playing some viola...