Sunday, August 31, 2014


A very quiet weekend here, despite being the Labor Day weekend holiday.  D had several out-and-about guy things going this weekend, so I did a bit of spinning, did some finishing work on a couple of projects for The Book (buttons and a quick final blocking spritz for a couple of the sweaters), and of course, knit.

I also finished reading Pope Joan, a very interesting historical novel, that explores the legend (rumor?) of a female pope in the late 800s AD.  (Note: I'm not entirely sure why there's a portrait of what appears to be a Tudor-era woman on the cover, since this was long before that, but there ya go.)

This book is "what if" kind of book.  The author definitely falls on the side of novel rather than historical, as there is a lot of missing information from this period and certainly if the story is true, when Joan's true sex is revealed (she has been masquerading as a monk, Brother John, after her own brother is killed in a Viking raid and she takes his place at the Abbey), as many documents as possible regarding her short reign as Pope were destroyed.  This was not a time supportive of women's education, and certainly not for the assumption of a female to the very powerful office of Pope.

I enjoyed the read, however, and it is a well-told story.  I was engrossed in it enough I wound up reading all of it in 3 days.  The character of Joan is well thought-out and the story the author has constructed around what little hints and snips of reality she has in extant documents is believable enough that you can imagine this is the way this history happened.  (The author finishes up the book with a several-page disclaimer, if you will, about what things she knows for sure - which are little tidbits really - and what she has constructed as likely from the limited sources she has.)

I hope all of my US readers have a wonderful Labor Day holiday.  I know I'm ready to kick off the fall season around here!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spinning Friday

I'm going to try to get back in the habit of documenting some spinning.... you know... now that I'm actually spinning again.

I'm working on a combo spin right now of two 4-oz braids of Polwarth.  One is from FatCatKnits in the Sherwood Forest colorway (seen at the upper right-hand corner), and the other is from Four Rivers Fiber (seen at the lower left-hand corner).

I'm spinning these up into a sportweight yarn, and my plan is to (someday.....) use these 8 oz for the main color for a sweater, and then pull in some mostly solid color(s) for a yoke and/or hem and/or cuff patterns. For right now, tho, I'm just enjoying the spin and I'll worry about a specific project once I get it spun up and it marinates a while.

This is the second bobbin of singles from the Four Rivers braid.  Although the braids look very similar next to each other, unspun, the Four Rivers has a lot more terracotta and reds in it than the FatCatKnits braid.

I've already started on the FatCatKnits braid too - I've spun up about 2 oz of singles of that - and will have pics of those for you next week!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIP Wednesday/Stashbusting

This week, I've been focusing mostly on deadline/Sekret Knitting projects, so let's start with those.  I've finished the back and one sleeve for my Twist Collective project, and I'm almost there on the front (we'll call it 5/6ths finished).  That leaves me a sleeve to work on over the next week and the finishing.  I'd love to have this done and off in the post to the TC folks before the Salida Festival, but that might be a bit optimistic.

I added another project to my deadline knitting list, which is a laceweight shawl, so I've put Mystic Star on the back-burner for a bit - no progress on that right now.

Thanks to some waiting room time, however, I have finished the first of the handspun stripey socks and cast on for sock #2.   I'll probably pick these up a bit this week.  They are a great project when I need something mindless for a few rounds and I'm enjoying seeing how the self-striping is progressing!

Monday, August 25, 2014


Our weekend weather was absolutely gorgeous.  D and I took advantage of that on Saturday by driving down to the Caja del Rio BLM and National Forest area outside of Santa Fe.  We used to visit this area a lot, since there are tons of riding trails through it, when we were training and conditioning the horses for endurance riding, but haven't really been back there for a couple of years since we got out of the horse business.

Since we've had actual rainfall this summer (and really, it's the first year we've had this kind of comparatively wet summer since we've moved here 6 years ago), there is a ton of plant life we'd never seen before.

This pretty vista is looking west with Montoso Peak in the middle of the shot, and the foreground filled with gorgeous purple and yellow flowers.  This area was filled with hummingbirds stocking up for their trip south - dive-bombing each other in the air and looking threateningly at me when I stepped out of the car to take some photos.  We spent several hours driving around and admiring the views.  

Otherwise, it was a pretty relaxed weekend.  We cooked out on the grill, I did some knitting and some reading, and I spent a bit of time in the studio trying to get a final few batches of skeins dyed so I'm ready to start packing the trailer before we head to Salida for the fiber festival in about 10 days.

Hope your weekend was wonderful as well!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Knitting Wizardry Giveaway!

EDIT:  This giveaway is now closed.  Congrats to lucky winner "bookaholic13"!  I'll get in contact with you via Ravelry to get a shipping address.

I've got a fantastic knitting book giveaway today!  Through the generous courtesy of Interweave Press, I've got a brand-new copy of Knitting Wizardry for one lucky winner.

This group of 27 patterns was released here in the US in magazine form as the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits collection.  Due to some copyright and publishing rights issues, they were not available in the UK and other parts of Europe, until this book's release.

There are a ton of great knitting patterns in the book - including three of my designs.  All you have to do to be eligible for a random drawing for the book is to leave me a comment here telling me your favorite (click the link to see the entire list of projects) pattern and I will draw the name of the winner on Sunday a.m. (9:00 a.m. Mountain time here in the US).

Please be sure to leave me a way to contact you easily like your Ravelry ID or an email. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WIP Wednesday/Stashbusting

This week, in my spare knitting time, I've been working on the pair of handspun/self-striping socks.  These are just basic 2x2 ribbed socks, knit from the toe-up with a gusset heel.  I'm not putting in a lot focused knitting time on them, but they are great for picking up and putting down while waiting in line or for appointments.

I also have worked along thru the second chart repeat on Mystic Star and bumped up my circular needle circumference with the last increase round.   I'm enjoying this as a slow and steady knit - these larger rounds have a LOT of stitches in them!

For my Sekret Projects right now, having finished my final sample for The Book (woot!), I've got the project for the Winter 2014 Twist Collective on the needles, as well as the first of 3 sweaters for the final Legendary Knits (volume 3) project.  And hoping to make a lot of progress on those this week!

Sunday, August 17, 2014


I've been spending a lot of time in my dye studio, getting ready for the Salida Fiber Festival in a few more weeks, and I also trundled down to ABQ to teach a class on Saturday (which was a blast!  We had such a great group of knitters for it!).  I also wound up working quite a bit at my computer on Friday, trying to get some pattern grading done.  That always seems to take longer than it should, but I'm closing in on finishing all of the grading for the active patterns I need to have finished in September.

I did start my next quilt block for the anniversary quilt.  It doesn't look like much, as I've just gotten a few of the smaller branches and leaves sewn.

Today (Sunday), I am off to work shortly, and then I am hoping to tackle, and possibly finish up the back of the sweater I'm working on for the winter issue of Twist Collective, and maybe a good movie to watch over a quiet dinner with D.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WIP Wednesday/Stashbusting

The good thing about organizing one's stash is that you can see all the lovely things you have to work with. The bad thing is that now I want to knit/spin All.The.Pretty.Things.  NOW.

This week, I finished up the final sample I'm personally knitting for The Book, and the day that was done, the yarn for the Twist Collective project I'm working on next arrived.  So that's my main focus of knit-time right now, but in the odd spare moments I've got for personal knitting.....

I cast on for the Mystic Star shawl using stash yarn.  I decided to grab a skein of laceweight first, although for no apparent reason, and the skein I'm using has a nice amount of yardage (1300 yards), in a pretty turquoise color - "Glacier" from Squoosh.

Not a whole lot to see here at this point, although I've knit the first chart and am just over halfway thru the second.  This one will be an extremely slow knit, but I'm enjoying it so far.

I also, in my travels thru stash bins, found a pair of handspun socks, which I started with only the toe finished.  So I hauled those out as a UFO that realistically could and should get finished up.  I've knit the foot of one, turned the heel and am a few inches into the leg.  Pics on that next week when I'm a bit further along, I think.

Finally, I have also been doing a bit of spinning.  I grabbed one of the older braids in stash (although probably not the oldest - Yikes!) from 2008 or 2009, from Funky Carolina (sadly now out of business - I loved Carrie's colorways).  This is "Real Lady" on a superwash merino/tencel blend, spun up into a 2-ply fingering weight skein with 400 yards.

The roving:

And the finished yarn:

As you might guess with the tencel component, this has a lovely drape and shine, so I'm thinking a small shawl is in it's future at some point.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014


A little of this, a little of that this weekend.

I spent a lot of time in my studio getting ready for my September fiber shows in Salida, Colorado, and ABQ, plus working on a wholesale order.  I have a ways to go, but I did get most of the wholesale order dyed (waiting to be reskeined) and finished up a couple of the yarn bases I want to take to Salida.

I did a bit of "for fun" knitting on another pair of donation socks, but I also took several hours and enjoyed working on the anniversary quilt.  I have finished up block four, which is a cute little snowman and bird applique, and then pieced "snowballs" to frame it.  I have started block five, which is all applique, and I hope to get a bit of time to work on that this upcoming week one night.

I also played around with my machine a bit.  In the past, I've had very basic, sturdy, sew a ton of miles on kind of machines, but the new one I upgraded to a year or so ago has a bunch of decorative stitches, so I tried some of those out, and found one that looks a bit like a blanket stitch to use on the next little mini wall-hanging I'm working on (that is made with fusible applique).  It's quite fun and I can see myself using several of these to jazz up these smaller wall-hangings I want to make at some point.

Otherwise, I finished up the final sample (still have pattern grading to do) for The Book yesterday, and started on my next project, which is for Twist Collective's Winter 2014 collection.  Fun!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIP Wednesday/Stashbusting

Kind of a mixed WIP post here - some of which I can show you, and some book things I can't, but here we go....

Last week, I sent off another box of samples to the Interweave offices.  Due to some space concerns, my editor asked if we could jettison one small project, so I'm down to 22 samples and pattern drafts to be done by September 18th.

Right now, I've got the following left to complete:
1 men's sweater:  Sleeves and fronts are done.  Back is OTN as we speak.  (Go Julia!!)
1 women's hoodie:  The body and sleeves are done.  Hood and finishing needs to be finished up.  (Go Susan!!)
1 women's jacket:  One sleeve is done and the body is knit.  I've got about half the second sleeve to knit plus bands.

I have one sample that's completely done for a women's jacket, but I still need to grade that pattern.  (The men's pattern, above, is graded.  The other two still need to be done, but all of the first drafts in a single size are at least written. Whew!)

Now, in personal WIP'ing, I have gone through all of my stash and have gotten everything photographed and in my Ravelry stash, AND I freed up two large and one small storage bin, which feels great!

I also knit a pair of sportweight (aka quick-to-knit) ribbed socks and used up two partial skeins from stash. These are earmarked for the Mittens for Akkol donation box.  (At sportweight, they are also nice and warm and squishy!)

I also dug out some roving from stash to put on the wheel to remind my fingers how to spin, to get in training for Spinzilla in October!  More on that to come!  (Gee, it feels nice to have something fiber-y to be able to talk about in public.)

Sunday, August 3, 2014


This weekend, D had a 2-day event to attend down in ABQ, so we decided to make a weekend out of it, and I went down with him.  We puttered around on Friday afternoon, hit Barnes and Noble, went to dinner and made an early night of it, since he needed to be ready to go the next morning around 6:45.

Saturday, I had the day all to myself really.  I got up and spent a relaxing morning reading and knitting.  Then, I showered and popped over to Village Wools to look for some buttons for two of The Book projects.  I then decided to go to the quilt store that's literally right around the corner, to browse and look for some needles and maybe the backing for the applique quilt I'm working on.  (It's a really nice store - super helpful shop ladies and they have a fun selection of a lot of nontraditional fabrics.)

They had a great extra wide (108") fabric that I picked up for the backing.  I think it'll work nicely with the other wintery prints I'm using without overpowering anything.

And speaking of the quilt, I have 98% of the next block finished.  I need to add a few snowflake embroidery details to the applique portion of it, and this block will also have side sashing of pieced "snowballs" on either side.  So... almost there with it, and my plan is to finish that up this week.

Saturday night, D and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner out at Zinc, in Nob Hill.  The waiter was very attentive without being annoying, the food was delicious, and we had a great table upstairs where we could watch the open-air kitchen where the food was prepared.  Definitely one we'll put on the return trip list!

Friday, August 1, 2014

From the Bookshelf: Me - Stories of My Life

I've finished reading Katharine Hepburn's autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life.

I've found the actress to be a vibrant and interesting personality, and most of the tidbits within the book also bear witness to the fact that she was definitely her own independent woman.  The anecdotes and stories follow her from her childhood in Connecticut, through her early years in the New York theater, and eventually to Hollywood.  Her relationship with Spencer Tracy is, of course, included in the book, but it's really a small part of her memories and stories of her life as she has written them.  (I think more because she didn't care to share much of her life with him with the public, rather than him being a small or less important part of her life.)

I had a bit of a difficult time with her writing style.  First off, the stories are really just little memory blips - the book is not exactly organized chronologically, so if she's talking about her days in the theater, they might be referring to the 1930s, or 1960s.  She has a sort of stream of consciousness style of writing where the memories of conversations are only one-sided or half-sided - all about Kate, as she says.  Sometimes it's a little hard to puzzle out her syntax.

The book is a brief peek into the personality and memories of one of the more interesting, independent and trail-blazing female actors of the 20th century.  Buffs of history and movie trivia will probably enjoy this read, although it is a bit meandering and heavily anecdotal.

Tour de Fleece - Week 2

I'm pretty happy with my progress for the Tour so far this year!  I've been trying to have a goal of 15 minutes of spinning a day, o...