Miscellaneous Monday

It’s almost time for our travel break to come to an end. We will be heading to Grayslake, IL  on Wednesday for the 6th annual Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair. We have been attending as vendors every year since its inception in 2007. It has changed locations 3 times as well as moving the date up from the third weekend of July to its present date of the fourth weekend in June.

We will be trying something new in our booth next weekend. We will be offering a yarn winding service. One of the girls will be manning the station. We will not be charging for it, but tips will be gratefully accepted. I think it will be a nice opportunity for customers to see our swifts in action. Hopefully it will work out and if it does we may do it more often. We’ll see how it goes.

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Here’s a picture from last year’s Fair. We are in the same location this year too, which is booths 102-103C. We are right next door to The Fold and Handspun by Stephania.

I really like the new venue. It’s a much better fit for the Fair than the Henry Co. college where it was held in 2008 and 2009. I always look forward to going to Chicago. I used to be intimidated by driving through the city pulling my trailer, but I am a pretty seasoned traveler at this point.

We will be packing tomorrow and driving most of Wednesday, so I decided I really needed to fit in a blog post today even though I don’t have a whole lot of news to share on the knitting front. I snapped a shot of my progress on Sticks and Stones. I like how the fabric looks and feels, however I am afraid that it is indeed turning out smaller than 38”. I measured across it today and it is closer to 36”. Maybe the blocking will help. Heh.

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Here’s what else has been occupying me this week. Do you recall in my last post that I was waiting for this CD to arrive?

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It did arrive, later that day in fact. I got it a day early. I was so excited but I waited until I could have an uninterrupted hour to listen to it the first time. Later that night, when the house was settled, more or less, I finally put it in my CD player. Let me tell you that it was well worth the wait! I have not been able to stop listening to it. I have played it at least one time every day, and sometimes more. It’s kind of like when  you have chocolate in the house and you just can’t resist eating a little every day. What, you mean not everyone does this?

But I digress. If you happen to be a Rush fan, you probably already have it and know what I am talking about. I am willing to bet that most of you aren’t, however, and that’s okay. I hope you don’t mind my occasional gushing over them. Their music just gets to me in a special way. I think I must be weird in my musical tastes since I don’t like the kind of music that is typically “chick” music. I tend to favor stuff that mainly has a male fan-base. I don’t know why, but there it is.

Actually I am a little unique in my taste in books too. I don’t care for romance books at all. The Outlander Series was as close as I ever get to that, and honestly some of that was a bit much for me. I have lately been in a crime novel mood. I read several of those and then on a whim a couple days ago I decided to re-read a Stephen King novel from 1988, The Tommyknockers, which I read when it came out. I had forgotten most of it except for a few major plot details. I am 150 pages in already. Good stuff.


World Without End review from my Goodreads profile

World Without EndWorld Without End by Ken Follett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good story that kept my attention all the way through to the end.

While I didn’t like or even identify with all the characters, I did feel like I was sufficiently familiar with the main players to keep up with them. There were a handful of minor characters that I would get fuzzy on at times, but overall I would say they were done well enough for me to follow.

I would recommend this to anyone who liked The Pillars of the Earth and want to relive that with a slightly different cast of characters. Honestly though, the characters feel like they are rehashed from the Pillars, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As I said they are pretty well fleshed out even if sometimes a bit predicable.

The main plot lines are resolved in the end. I did feel bad about what happened to Ralph for some reason. I can’t explain why since he certainly got what he deserved. I think I would have been less bothered if Philemon had suffered a similar end.

View all my reviews

Baby Sweater, done..Plain Jaynes on the needles

Well the yarn held out and with some to spare. I finished my Classic Baby Cardigan, all except for getting some buttons, yesterday afternoon. I even got it washed and blocked.

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So, I cast on for my Plain Jaynes in Lilac. I am planning on doing the lace panels, but haven’t decided for sure which one. There are two versions, one will involve some twisted stitches. While I like the look of that, I don’t enjoy doing them so I may go with the simpler version that is only yarn overs next to a decrease. We’ll see when I get there. 2012 04 16_0959.JPG

Today was shopping and library day, so I took the opportunity to listen to my latest audiobook while carrying out my errands. I am currently reading/listening to another Stephen King book from the mid 90’s that I somehow missed. It’s Rose Madder which is a little different in that the main character is a woman. She suffered 14 years of abuse at the hands of her husband and the story is about what becomes of her when she escapes him. I won’t tell more since I don’t want to give away too much and I also don’t know where it will go myself yet. I am 58% through the book according to my Nook. It is very good and I don’t know why I haven’t read it before now.

Tomorrow is packing day for Stitches South in Atlanta. I may not get a chance to post until Wednesday or Thursday, but I will probably do at least a post or two from there, so see you in a few days!

All loaded up for the road

We were back to work yesterday bright and early, and it’s a good thing we got it done when we did since it’s looking like rain today.

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Believe it or not it is a full day’s work just to get all the new inventory properly packed and loaded into the trailer. It would be easy enough if we just simply stuck it in new totes and put them in there, but if we did it that way it would get immensely complicated to find everything and to set up our booth. loading trailer april 2012-4.JPG

We devised a system which allows us to take out a minimum of totes to set up at shows and still have our whole line displayed. The remaining totes have all the rest of the inventory for restocking the booth, sorted by yarn type and color family. It is easier to find what we need this way, but it also means ALL the totes have to come out when we incorporate new stock. loading trailer april 2012-1.JPG

Add to that, the new colors moving in to their respective totes and  moving to separate totes all the discontinued colors that they are replacing…and yeah, it’s a big job. loading trailer april 2012-3.JPG

My plan for today is to get all the computer related stuff done. That involves updating my inventory software with the new totals and adding new entries for the new colors. Then there is photo editing of those new color pictures and uploading them to the website while creating the new entries for them at the same time. After that is updating the website with the new inventory totals for the current yarn colors that we restocked. THEN comes all the promotional stuff so our customers know that we have new products. People like to hear about the new stuff, you know. We are all about the “new and shiny” aren’t we? LOL!loading trailer april 2012-2.JPG

You know, I doubt many people who haven’t run a business, have a full understanding of the extent of work involved in it. I know I didn’t. But you know what else? Aside from raising my family, it is both the most demanding and most gratifying work I have ever done. I am darn proud of what we have accomplished thus far, and wouldn’t trade the last six and a half years of learning for anything. Smile

Before closing, I want to mention that I finished 11/22/63 yesterday and Wow! It was worth the read. Of course as a long time Stephen King fan I was not surprised in the least by this. He has a gift of storytelling that appeals to me in an unique way. I am not sure I can put my finger on it, but I think it’s in the characters. No matter whether they are likeable or not, you want to know more. You are right there while you are reading and even when you aren’t, they are in your mind. They seem somehow real. Anyway, give this one a read. You won’t regret it.

That’s more like it!

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As I predicted in my last post, I did in fact cast on the Classic Baby Cardigan (also available by Ravelry download) on Saturday afternoon. I tried in vain to resist and make myself work on the Gemini. This yarn is the leftover skein from my Sweet Tea; the Classic Merino Sport in Berry for the main color and the stripes are my samples of the two new colors we dyed last week, Peridot and Tiger Lily. They should be in the shop later this week or maybe early next week.

I needed to knit with colorful wool. The initial lure of the natural colored cotton and wool blend dissipated after I began to suspect that the fit of the sweater was going to be a disappointment in that yarn. I don’t like knitting with cotton very much under the best circumstances, but I thought this would be different. Why did I think that? No clue really. New project lure can be a powerful and tricksy mistress. 

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Speaking of new projects, I think the yarn you see above will also be on the needles soon too. I don’t know exactly what it wants to be yet. It’s a possible new base we may be adding sometime later this year. It’s a 100% super wash Merino wool which is a DK weight. It will have 247 yards to a 100 g skein. It should knit at 5-5 1/2 stitches to the inch on a 6-7 needle. That’s where I plan to start anyway.

I dyed it up in an experimental green we may also use next year. I like green a lot. Smile Does it show?

So, I have almost 750 yards of this yarn and am on the look out for something to do with it. Any suggestions?

I am enjoying the new Stephen King, 11/22/63, immensely. I am already about 45% of the way through it. It’s almost 700 pages too, so that should tell you something. It helps that I have both the e-book and the audiobook. That means I can take advantage of more opportunities to “read”. I listened to a chapter while grocery shopping this morning, for example. Now, that’s one thing that they couldn’t have done in 1958. Smile

Endings and beginnings

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We got the last of the dyeing finished yesterday. We did 1,224 skeins in 5 days. The hand painted colors we did firs,t took two of those days even though we only did 256 of them. We can only get about a maximum of 125-140 of those done in a day due to the process. Semi solid colors, on the other hand, are a different process and we can get about 450 of those done in a day. 

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I plan to take the rest of the weekend off while we are waiting for the last day’s batches to dry. Monday we will start the sorting and labeling, which takes a considerable amount of time, as you may imagine. Fortunately, many hands make light work and this is an easy task to get even the younger ones to help with.

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I have the task of “quality control manager”. I, or one of the adult assistants, (my oldest daughters) inspect each skein for neatness before they are labeled. I usually get the task of re-skeining any that are too snarled from the dyeing process. I have devised a system to reduce the likelihood of that necessity, but there are always a few, despite the measures. 2012 03 30_0810_edited-1.JPG

This last portion of the work is a big job, but I am always glad to get to this point, since at least all the really messy, sweaty part is done. Smile Sorting and labeling can be done sitting on the couch one box at a time, and so is not nearly as tiring. Not to mention the satisfaction of seeing the somewhat messy jumbles of yarn all over the place become neatly labeled and organized skeins that make you want to just wind one up and get out your needles. Winking smile

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Speaking of knitting, I fear I am becoming more and more disenchanted with my Gemini sweater. I didn’t care for some of the design construction and altered it. I could see that the way she had designed it the sleeves were going to be over 18” around and in the yarn I am using that was clearly not going to work well. So, instead of the increase rate of every row until a set amount of stitches were reached and then continuing until a certain length, I opted to decrease as for a standard raglan, every other round until the desired length.

My other reservation is my yarn choice. I bought it assuming that since it was labeled as a DK and looks a bit thinner than a worsted weight that it would get the 5.5 stitches to the inch I needed. To be fair, the label did recommend 5 stitches to the inch and even on a 5 and a 6 I got that gauge. I decided to alter the size I knit from to reach the desired size at the different gauge. The last couple of times I have half heartedly picked up my knitting I have that niggling feeling we knitters all recognize of a project gone bad. For some reason we continue on hoping it will get better, right? It will pass and when we are done we will like the thing. But, we lie to ourselves don’t we? We will toss it in a heap and be disgusted with it.

Don’t be surprised if the next time you hear of this it will be a frogging report. It’s not the design mind you. It’s a perfectly lovely sweater and I did want to make it. It’s me. Wrong yarn and all that. You understand.  Maybe I need a start a sock or that baby sweater I mentioned a few post ago.

Oh, I also finished the last book in the Outlander series yesterday, An Echo in the Bone. I was quite underwhelmed with the abrupt way in which it just stopped. All the sub plots were just dropped in a way that left me muttering to myself, “That’s it? Really, Just like that?” I mean I know there’s another book coming and all, but I don’t remember any of the others ending like this one did. It felt odd and I am not alone in my feelings. I took a look at the reviews and many others were similarly bothered by it. All I can say is the next installment had better be good, LOL! 

My next read is the new Stephen King, 11/22/63. I read my first SK book when I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was Night Shift, which is a collection of short stories. I was hooked for life. I then read Carrie and Salem’s Lot, the later scared the crap out of me BTW. I have read almost everything the man has written, although I missed a few in the 90’s and while I own them on my Nook, haven’t gotten to them yet. They are in the queue. LOL! Even when I don’t care for the characters or what they say and do at times, he has a knack for making me know them and he brings them to life. That, and his commitment to the philosophy that the story is the important thing are, I believe, what draw me to his writing. I have a connection with it that not many authors can achieve. Anyway, I have only read the first chapter of this book last night, so nothing to comment on yet, but you will hear more later I am sure.

Okay, I will close for now. Have a great weekend!

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Not much time for knitting lately

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Not much progress made on the Gemini I am afraid. I have still not had much knitting time lately, but there’s a good reason for that. More on that in a minute.

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I got the Twinkle Cruise yesterday and I don’t see how it can get the right gauge for this sweater either. It looks more like a fingering weight yarn to me so I guess I will have to either improvise or come up with something else for it. Maybe a little 3/4 sleeve cardigan?

So what has been keeping me busy, you ask?

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Well, I have been working on some color ideas for a wholesale order, which I can’t share since it’s for a club. I am also dyeing up our new colors and  restocking the rest of our colors for the spring shows and website.

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This is the Tiger Lily and..

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this is the Peridot.

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We did the hand painted colors last week but I neglected to get any pictures.

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For one thing it kept raining on us so we were trying to just get it done, so no time for thinking about getting out the camera.

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Fortunately we have nice weather this week, since doing solids is more dependent on dry conditions.  To be honest it’s been down right hot.

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Who could have imagined breaking a sweat in March? Yep, it’s been in the mid 80’s and working over steaming pots in the sun is hot sweaty work.

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When I am working at the dye pots I like to listen to my iPod. Sometimes I listen to music but I am taking the opportunity to catch up on my “reading”.  You may remember that I am reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? Well, I am finally on the 7th and last (so far) book. I own both the eBook and the audiobook, so am switching back and forth and taking every chance progress through it.

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I will probably be done by the next time I post. I am enjoying them but I don’t think I will be like some fans of the series and feel compelled to re-read them. They are extremely long and there are just too many other books in my to-read list. I think the new Stephen King is going to be my next read. What are you reading?

Cowls and new colors

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Here’s what I cast on yesterday after finishing the Sweet Tea Slouch, which we will get to in a minute. If you recall I mentioned that I am test knitting the Spiral Effect Cowl which Heather knit in one of my hand  painted variegated colors, Malignant Narcissism, so I decided to use a solid for mine.  This is one of the new colors we will be dyeing up soon. I just ordered 265 pounds of yarn today and when it arrives,  we will skein it all and start dyeing more yarn for the spring and early summer shows. We are planning to do one new hand painted variegated color and two semi-solids. I already have the variegated color-way planned, since it is one I used for a sock club a couple years ago. It’s called Earthshine. I am thinking that I will mix up a new orange or a purple for the other solid. The above green is as yet un-named. Feel free to offer suggestions.

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I am sending this test skein of Earthshine to Heather to work up a new design. We both seem to be on a cowl bender, since I keep knitting them and she said she has another idea for one. So, that’s the plan. I can’t wait to see her idea and to see this color-way knit up.

Now for the Sweet Tea scarf and hat set; I love the cowl and the hat is adorable, but I don’t think it is quite as cute on me as it is on my 6 year old. LOL! 2012 02 20_0524.JPG

Here she is wearing it. Adorable, right?

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Here’s me. Meh. LOL!

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I just have one of those faces/heads that don’t do hats well.

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Here are some less interesting on the porch shots. The color frustrates my camera, even in neutral lighting. 2012 02 20_0505.JPG

The ones above where Emma is wearing them show the color more accurately, but still not exactly right. It is a much more red-violet color. Sigh. My camera hates saturated blues, reds, and purples.

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I haven’t talked much lately about my music and reading, so how about an update? I am still working my way through the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon right now, as well as dipping in to my new Principles of Knitting, which is a book that I can highly recommend to every knitter. It is so packed full of information. I know, we have the internet now, and that is a valid point, but I am still a firm believer in having books too. It’s a great reference point for those times when don’t have access to the internet for whatever reason. Not to mention it’s fun to just read. Well I think so anyway.

I am up to the 5th book of the Outlander series, The Fiery Cross, and am about 60% of the way through it. I must say that thus far I liked the 3rd and 4th books the best because they stuck much more to the personal conflicts and there was less political events woven into the story. Due to the time period and setting there is, in the 5th book, the rumblings of the tax issues during the pre-American Revolutionary period, which gets tedious to me. I know that some people probably love that detail, but it doesn’t hold my interest as much. It does add some realism and depth to the plot, but I could do with less of it. The book is 1300+ pages, so maybe there could have been some more editing?

What am I listening to lately? I got the new Van Halen album when it came out last week. Anybody else? I was very skeptical when I heard the single Tattoo it when released. I was not instantly impressed and almost wrote off the album. But…when I heard the raves about the album, I had to see for myself. On first listen, I was not totally blown away, but it was certainly good and worth getting to know. It took several more times through to warm up to it. I am a firm believer in listening to albums in their context since the songs are meant to be played that way most of the time. As a whole this is some of the best material they have put out since the mid 80’s. I never liked the Sammy Hagar albums. The album that I am REALLY waiting for is the new Rush Album, Clockwork Angels, which is rumored to be released in May 2012. I can hardly wait!

Okay, I’ll close for now. See ya next time.


Lights in the darkness

I know I have been a lazy blogger. I swear this has been the grayest, wettest December EVER and maybe that is what is making me want to do nothing but read and knit. I have done a fair bit of both, well maybe more reading than knitting. The only knitting progress I have to show is the finished first sock and a good 40% on the second sock.

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I have finished several books in the last month. At the moment I have picked back up where I left off on Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I just finished book #3 Voyager and started #4 Drums of Autumn. I have never been into this type of book before. I guess you would call it a cross between and adventure story and a romance? They are pretty good, if you don’t mind a series that has so far 7 books of 900-1000 pages each.

There has been some Christmas baking going on here too. We have a few traditional ones we love to do every year and the children have taken it on the last few years. They seem to enjoy making them almost as much as eating them.

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We also relented and put the presents out early this year. We usually wait until Christmas Eve so that they don’t get pawed over but space is limited and for want of anywhere else to stash them, we put them under the tree.

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More decking of the halls went on, literally. LOL!

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Ella Funt finished

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Ella Funt is all done and I am very happy with how it turned out.

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See how nicely the yoke lays without puckering? I think it was partly that the Rowan Felted Tweed was a good choice for this type of knitting. It has that slightly sticky quality that jumper weight Shetland wool yarn has; at least it seems so to me. This is how it looks after weaving in the ends and washing/blocking it.

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Here’s how it looked before all that was done. Still pretty good, but the finish work really made an improvement.

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Here’s a view of the wrong side to see the lovely neat floats. Smile The color is truer in these three middle pictures that were taken outside before the finishing was done when the light was good.

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Unfortunately today was rainy and gray all day and I couldn’t wait to share this so I took some indoor shots this afternoon. I will get some proper lighting pictures outdoors with Elijah wearing it as soon as we get another sunny day.

I did make a few modifications to the pattern.

  • I bound off the neck stitches and picked up the button band stitches first, then picked up the collar stitches after the button bands were knit.
  • I substituted a ribbed stitch for the button band to match the other edges instead of the garter stitch the designer chose.
  • If I had thought of it at the time I would have also added some short row shaping to the back neck before I bound it off, but I forgot at the time. So if I were to make this again that is what I would do next time.

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In other news, did you notice my new banner up there at the top? Go ahead..scroll up. I’ll wait.

You like? It’s just a simple one, but I like it. There is also a new widget over to the right where you can “like” my Knitting Notions page on Facebook. Hint. Hint. Heh.

Let’s see, how about a reading update? I got the Masterpiece Theater version of The Woman in White from Netflix after I finished it last week and was not impressed. I didn’t even watch the whole thing. I was warned by a friend that it wasn’t as good as the book and I agree with her review. It departed from the story in too many points and it just annoyed the crap out of me.

I did start a new book though which is very good. I had been hearing some chatter and good reviews about the book Child 44 and since I saw it available to check out from my library onto my Nook I decided to give it a go. I am finding the view from inside the mind of this KGB officer during Stalin’s Soviet Union very enlightening. I am about halfway done with it already.

Okay, I need to close for now and get some supper. Later.