about the essentials of life...knitting, designing knitting, yarn for knitting...you get the idea...

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I'm a knitter, knitting pattern designer, and spinner. I also dye yarn with both acid and natural dyes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Own Hand-Painted Yarn!

I took my first crafty type of class in years and years and years these past two weeks. Usually I just buy a book and figure it out for myself, but this time I decided a little company would be fun. The local LYS ( I know, I know, how redundant, but somehow local YS just doesn't do the job) offered a handpainting class and I signed up. The summer class schedule came on Saturday, I enrolled on Monday morning and the class was almost full already. And, the LYS is closed on Sunday! Handpainting must be popular!

The class was a lot of fun. The teacher kept us on track and moving right along. As a former classroom teacher, she had her lesson plan prepared, a great visual handout, and materials ready.
We dyed two types of sock yarn and left the second class with yarn ready to go. In the picture, my variegated yarn is on the left and self-striping on the right. The rose is peach, for color reference. The actual yarns are not so electric. I need help figuring out how to take more accurate color pictures! I guess I'll have to read the camera's manual (again!).

But, back to the yarn- I love self-striping yarn. Absolutely love it. Though, come to think of it, I rarely knit it plainly enough for it to just stripe. I've designed several sock patterns and am presently working on a beret pattern (needs me to figure out how to graft in pattern) in Opal self-striping. I can't wait to work up swatches with this yarn! I've already had the stitch dictionaries out looking for possibilities. I kind of think I've found one, but not in the dictionaries, in a British thinking about your knitting kind of book. We'll see if I can adapt it and what it looks like in the swatch. Probably socks, but I'm also wondering about the dyeing repeats and sweater patterns. So Much Fun!

Scout's warping board - used to measure out the repeats for the self-striping yarn.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Amazing Lace Redux

Yikes! I am beset by technological traps. Either that or I'm developing digital dementia. Last night I worked frantically to be able to post about Extreme Lace before the deadline. The Man of The House had been away and I was unable to figure a way to take photos of myself, so this was a totally last minute project. Then, the pictures taken, I quickly quickly quickly turned them into an easy-peasy (former 1st grade teacher, remember) montage. Holding my breath, I uploaded the project into Blogger. It took! It actually appeared and agreed to be moved to where I wanted it! Published the entry, copied the URL and went to the Lace site to enter the Challenge. Turns out it isn't a matter of simply pasting the URL. There is the dreaded HTML involved. I found the directions, carefully copied down the necessary code, was sure I understood what to do and did it. And...no link. Tried again...highlighted text appeared in the right place, but no link. This stuff is kicking my...afghan... but I'm not giving up. I learned PhotoShop, I can do anything. I just need to find a help source that actually helps. I want to know how to:
  • add buttons to the sidebar
  • add links to the sidebar
  • add links to free patterns to the sidebar and add the patterns to a separate page
  • add copyright information to bottom of said pattern pages
  • caption the pictures and wrap text.

It can't be that hard - how is it that so many other knitters can find out how to do this stuff and I can't?

If you know, please leave a comment!


Just for fun:

The first flowers on our heirloom miniature rose bush -

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Today I have for you my entry for Challenge II in the Amazing Lace Summer of Lace. It's supposed to be a photo of extreme knitting of some type on the designated lace project. I have already learned that this project requires extreme attention. Thus, this montage of my OCD knitting (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Clockwise from top left:

1. Checking my stitch pattern.
2. Checking my design typed out on the computer row by row.
3. Placing lots of stitch markers at every conceivable place.
4. Ka-ching! at end of every row.
5. The chaos of my desk while designing this project!
6. Adding lifelines at every pattern repeat.
6. Keeping track of gusset increases, edge increases, and pattern rows with tally marks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

3rd Annual New Mexico East Mountain Fiber Farm and Studio Tour

Wow! This time I uploaded the photos before writing the text and it seems to work better. Now to see how the text wraps the photos...always an interesting proposition.

This weekend was the Fiber Farm Tour. I'd heard about it last year but somehow didn't get around to participating. This year, with The Man Of The House's new found interest in things
fibery, we both wanted to see what's going on out there in the East Mountains. The tour had 11 stops at farms and studios, bit we only made it to the first seven before running out of time. For some reason, we started at number 7 and worked backwards to number 1. Actually, I know the reason - The Man wanted refreshments and we thought the Dairy Association was located at #7.

The barn at Prairie Wood Ranch, our first stop.

This farm had mostly Pygmy goats. They are absolutely adorable, even though they are not fiber animals. When we first arrived at the barn, they told us that a new kid had just been born 30 minutes ago. It was surprisingly large compared to the mother and was so hariy! It was covered with long black hair. I had my camera, but I didn't want to bother a newborn with a flash. The lady of the farm was spinning and she graciously gave me advice about a wheel. I really liked the ergonomics of the one that she was using, a Lendrum folding wheel. Hmm... have to do some research about that.

Baby alpaca (left) and llama (right)

Many of the farms had alpaca. The people at Milagro Moon Ranch were sooo patient with our questions. I had been curious about the difference between llamas and alpacas. At Milagro Moon Ranch, there were both llama and alpacas in the same pen and the differences were obvious. The alpacas, so help me, look like they have elastic necks. It's the weirdest thing. They'd be right at home in a Dr. Seuss book!

Milagro Moon was also the location of the South Mountain Dairy tent. The Man was extremely pleased to see goat cheese. We bought some raspberry chevre and crackers and had an impromptu picnic. It was absolutely delicious cheese, so good that I saved the carton to try and find it in ABQ. What luxury - raspberries and goat cheese and fiber animals, not to mention the much cooler high altitude temperatures.

Shooting Star Farm had all kinds of animals, alpacas, llamas, donkeys, angora goats, and churro sheep. I took a picture of the goats. They had a pen set up as a goat petting zoo and I couldn't resist going in with the goats. When I looked around, I was the only adult. Oh, well...

The goat-petting pen

There were several tents set up with fiber arts demonstrations. The Man visited with an expert spinner and she showed him the fiber that she had spun that day. He thought it was amazingly soft (angora) but was appalled at the quantity. The masculine point of view - how could anyone make any money doing that? Why would I ever want to spin when it takes so long? I whispered to the spinner when his back was turned and she started talking about the peace that spinning gives her and the quality of the handspun yarn. When we were leaving, she said that she hoped I decided to learn to spin. I gave her a thumbs up (behind the Man's back) when he said he was sure that I would! Up with the sisterhood!

My purchase of the day

I was a very good girl and only bought 1 skein of yarn. The Man was pretty surprised. He was the one who actually found this yarn in a basket kind of under some other stuff. The label says wild goat yarn, some 500 yards. How could I not buy it? I'm thinking socks, how about you?

Westfarthing Farm was a stand out. Sharrie was a wonderful tour guide through their sheep operation. I learned a lot about different breeds of sheep and their fibers. I was so, so tempted by some natural grey corridale yarn, but I've a great big order from Webs coming this week. So I resisted and hoped (hoped, hoped) that I'd win the door prize of 3 skeins. Oh, well...maybe next time.

The farm tour was simply inspiring. I don't understand why the connection between the animals and the actual knitting is so moving, but seeing these farms and their animals made a difference for me. It's like there is a whole new world out there and it's calling to me. So far this week, I've signed up for a handpainting yarn class and I've been e-mailing to register for a natural dyeing class and a how to spin class. I feel the need for a closer fiber connection than just knitting and designing patterns. What a summer it could be! Wish me luck...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Oops! Maybe I can fix this: additions to previous post

I've tried for hours and hours to include some links and pictures in the post about Tapetes de Lana and Tierra Wools with disatrous results. I don't know where the pictures actually go when Blogger says they have been successfully uploaded! After several sessions where whole segments of the post just upped and disappeared, I decided to just try a kind of P.S. post before the main entry lost all semblance of coherence.
First, the lost links:
Tapetes de Lana

The Yarn Harlot

Now, to try for the pictures!

Tapetes de Lana (from their brochure)

More shots of Abbiquiu Inn:

Los Ojos:

Tierra Wools:

The View from behind Abiquiu Inn:

The Haul from TW!

Tierra Wools, from their brochure

Crossing my fingers...that seemed to work. This time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Blog at last....

Well. It's been a while. I've a whole list of topics to blog about, just haven't gotten it done. I was busy working on a project with a deadline, then I was interrupted several times, then Blogger was down, then my computer was crawling.... well, anyway, no blog. I was feeling really badly about this, then this morning I checked out The Yarn Harlot's blog and found her post about general work malaise. Just what I was feeling. So, knowing that I'm in good company, here goes.
I'm reaching my mental hand into my bag of blogging topics and...
More trips and more stash enhancement!
The Man of the House has shown an interesting curiosity about fiber production lately. Apparently he read something about fiber in NM in some magazine in the doctor's office and he was intriugued. Notice how I'm not complaining!
First we went to Mora, NM to find the Tapetes de Lana Weaving Center. The Man has a head for numbers and probably remembers the route number associated with every road he has ever driven down. I, on the other hand, have no idea of route numbers and prefer to identify roads by landmarks or occasions traveled. The Man remembered the exact directions from the magazine. So when we got to Mora, we drove through town seveal times looking for the intersection of 518 and Main. Finally, I stopped looking for the road signs and began looking at the actual buildings. There it was - Tapetes de Lana (and yes, we'd driven right by it each time). Only...it was closed. It looked really, really, interesting, however. I guess we'll just have to make the trip again (sniff, sniff.)
Then, Memorial Day weekend, after the Indy 500, of course, The Man got the idea of visiting Tierra Wools. I had picked up a brochure for them when we had our unfruitful excursion to Mora. It's north of Abbiquiu, the location of Georgia O'Keefe 's famous Ghost Ranch and not far from The Abiquiu Inn. We have eaten dinner at the Abiquiu Inn several times and been pretty impressed. Not to mention, the fabulous, fabulous landscape therabouts. Georgia O'Keefe has been quoted as saying that God told her that if she painted it enough, she could have the land. I'm not sure anybody can ever own that land. It's like a cat, it owns you. I never turn down a trip in that direction, even without anything fibery on the itinerary.
So, the man made reservations at the Inn and off we went. It seemed like no time at all until we got there and checked in. Our room was an oasis (I told the Man that when I write my book[!] that that's where I'll retreat to do it), but it didn't feel like we'd had enough scenery. So, off we were again, still travelling north. Our destination was Chama, about 10 miles from the Colorado border. The road was under construction, had been removed actually, but was still open. Driving was kind of slow, but with such views, who cared? Except, perhaps, the Man, who was actually doing the driving. We arrived in Chama, drove around a little, past the old time train, the churches, the school complex, and saw a sign for the Elk Reserve. Elk Reserve? In New Mexico? We've seen elk herds before, but somehow in my mind, an elk reserve was something found near Jackson Hole, not right here where it was accessible. So, off we went to explore the Elk Reserve. Only to find the gate closed and firmly locked. The Reserve was closed for calving. This was even more interesting. Baby elk! But, we respected the locks and turned around. Another reason for another trip.
Now, we had a teensy bit of a problem. The only place we've found to eat in Abiquiu is the Inn and the Inn's restaurant closes at 8PM. With all of our travelling around and the road construction, making that deadline was kind of uncertain. The Man does not miss meals. There was Chama, but the couple of possible dining places seemed to have an abundance of Harleys parked outside. I remembered that there had been a sign for the Cliff View Inn a little way outside of town. A cliff view seemed a perfect ending to the day. Back we went. We turned down the small road and drove. And drove. We saw the cliffs we must be going to dine in view of, and the road kept going, past woods and cabins and it seemed, along side a river. After a while there was a sign informing us the road was now private property, but it was still open to the public, so we kept on. And on. And finally, finally, found the Cliff View Inn. Which was closed. Oops! Back we went, though we stopped and got a look at the river. Way, way down below where we were standing. Another cliff view.

Now we really did have a dinner dilemma. Back to Chama to see if anything at all was open. There was a rustic bar/grill kind of place and the Harleys were gone. The weather had gotten quite chilly and our shorts and my sleeveless shirt were tourist labels, but the restaurant turned out to be a diamond in the rough. I had a great steak, garlic mashed potatoes and wonderfully seasonded vegetables and the Man was pleased with his meal as well. We dined well and made our way to the Inn without incident.

The next day, it was off to Tierra Wools. It's in Los Ojos, a tiny hamlet with a picturesque entrance. The building is old, old and looks like a general store kind of place. There are fantatic handloomed rugs on display and for sale everywhere. There is a whole room full of working looms and another couple in the display room. I'm not a weaver, but looms fascinate me. They just look so satisfying. The woman who was minding the store could tell us about the creator of each rug and there was a bulletin board with their pictures. She showed us the dyeing room and discussed the methods with the Man, answering his questions patiently. I looked around at the many yarns on display without hurry or pressure. I asked my own questions about spinning and it turned out the spinner had been at the Taos Wool Festival where we had watched the spinners last fall.
Of course, I ended up with more yarn. This is the most amazing red ever. And what's that you say? What's that other bag over there in the picture? Why, it's roving of course. Do I spin? Do I even have a spindle? Nope! At least not yet. I guess another addiction is around the corner.