Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ancestral Feline?

Not too long ago, I had a chance to brave the heat and hike down into Horseshoe Canyon to view the various pictograph panels that the canyon is known for.

Imagine my surprise when we rounded the corner to view the Horseshoe Panel - and the first image to catch my eye was of a 4-legged animal facing a humanoid with a funky hairdo - the 4-legged creature bore a remarkable resemblance to my cat.

Witness the evidence here:

I really wish I had a Feathers McGraw doll - or even a rubber chicken for Troy to look at in the photo above - it would have made the two images a perfect match ;) Incidentally, my cat does indeed walk around like that - with his tail raised high overhead and curved over his body - he's always been that way!

While I do have wishful thinking that the animal in the pictograph is a feline, I highly suspect it is not some ancient relative of my Troy - rather I think its a dog. Apparently there is good evidence that canines have been companion animals for quite some time - and have even made it into panels such as this one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nearly There...

As the summer creeps onward, I snatch time as I am able with Avast. All the knitting is done, and the poor sweater was left abandoned in a heap on the back of the loveseat awaiting my pleasure (and patience as I can't stand having that much wool in my lap when the temperatures are still topping out near 110 F!)...course I do let the cat(s) sit in my lap if they are so inclined ;) I can't resist a content kitty...

Anyhow, I figure if this sweater is going to be ready once the temperatures settle back down to a much more reasonable temperature, I need to stay somewhat focused and continue to make progress with the finishing. In this case, it meant taking it off the back of the loveseat, filling a sink and drowning it giving it a good soak so it could be rolled between towels like a sweater-filled burrito and then laid out flat for blocking.

I swear by blocking for lace - it's where all the magic happens - I'm not so fond of blocking sweaters. I'm not sure why - I think it has to do with my fear of getting a sweater all wet and relaxed, only to find that the fabric stretches and stretches and the next thing I know, I have a dress on my hands....

Happily, that awful scenario didn't play out with this one. The fabric tidied itself up nicely in the blocking process, making everything look happy and uniform. The above photo is of the zipper bands (yes, I need to turn them back on themselves and stitch em down) - and to the left we see the happy raglan decreases.

I completed the blocking freehand, seeing as the garment is essentially complete minus the finishing details like turned in hems, cuff and installed zipper...To make sure it was about right in size, I grabbed a favored jacket and laid it on top of the relaxing sweater - and it looks like I got the dimensions just right.

Once dry, the sweater will move back downstairs so I can tack down the hems/flaps that need tacking, and I will be hunting for zippers...Anyone out there have suggestions? Initial measurements indicate I need to find myself a 32-inch zip in a suitably matching hue.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lace for Lucy

One of the Luscious Gracious Ladies celebrated a birthday not too terribly long ago - she happens to love bright colors, and I happen to be in a lace kick, so I knitted happily away, creating this lace scarf for her.

I think it's fair to say I'm good with the lace knitting now, and I've taken to skipping the whole lifeline placement - how daring ;) Speaking of lace, there's a new knit along due to start in the not too distant future - another mystery stole project - this time hosted by Nautical Knitter. Should be to join?

Of course, all the particulars, including larger photos, can be found over on the finished objects blog.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Quality Time

I finally had some quality time with my spinning wheel this weekend - First I churned off some merino singles for the shop.

Desert Daybreak singles - merino & firestar

I keep meaning to increase the stock on hand of handspun singles in my own blended colorways, but somehow I keep getting distracted. It seems it doesn't take much to distract me these days - or ever for that matter :P I don't think I'd ever lack things to keep me entertained if I was able to retire from my day job immediately!

After spinning for the shop, I spent some more quality time with the wheel to churn off some fine merino angora singles for my Spun Stitches project.

The 2nd skein of yarn is now finished to join the first :) I now have 6.8 ounces of yarn, approximately 950 yards with which I plan to cast on for the Wing o the Moth. You can just see the sparkle of angelina fiber in the photo - it's terribly difficult to capture, I'm hoping I manage to capture it in the finished work. The difference you see in the yarns is due to the fact that the smaller skein is spun from a carded batt, while the larger skein was spun from the exact same fibers handblended at the wheel. The plan is to knit the beginning of the shawl with the more uniform skein, leaving the more variegated skein for the rest of the shawl where the color runs will hopefully not detract from the lace.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Spin Out 2007!

Cara over at January One has done it again - she's organizing the 2nd annual Spin Out with a huge prize stuffed raffle to benefit Heifer International. Every year, a portion of Spritely Goods sales are donated to Heifer International, and just as last year, I'm happy to be a part of Spin Out by donating some goodies as a prize. I wish I could attend in person - but alas, I fear a trip to NYC is not in my near future.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Knitting for All Seasons

It often seems like my knitting goes by the wayside in the summer months - and occasionally it seems like I fall into a rut as to what to knit next. With this as my dilemma, I was happy to receive a review copy of The Yarn Girls' Guide to Knits for All Seasons: Sweaters and Accessories for Men and Women. I don't actually have any of the Yarn Girls' books in my knitting library, though I have certainly heard of them.

As the title suggests, the book is arranged by season - offering patterns for apparel and accessories for the various seasons for both men and women. The models in this book all look like everyday people, rather than runway models, which is a definite plus. The patterns appear straight forward and easy to follow, and likely are suitable for beginning to intermediate level knitters. Sizes are listed ranging from XS to L, and finished measurements are provided to help guide you to the correct finished size. For the sweaters, I would have preferred that an actual chest measurement be provided, rather than "width" (which must be doubled and compared to ones chest measurement to determine appropriate size). Based on the photos, a lot of the womens garments appear to have very little ease - with this said, the largest womens size usually has a 40-inch chest measurement (though some are smaller).

The sweaters and accessories are simple and classic in design, and I will likely use them as jumping off points for various projects (I never seem to knit a pattern exactly as written for one reason or another - but that's one of the things that I love about knitting!) - I've already got several of them earmarked for the knitting queue! If you haven't already had a peek at this book, it's definitely worth having a look.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One sure way...

To lure a knitter into your booth is to have a mascot sitting prominently in the aisle way in clear view of any passers by. Cute, isn't he? He is the mascot for Soft & Cozy a company that imports and distributes finished wool products from New Zealand. Unfortunately for me, they didn't have any yarn :(

Anyhow, it cracks me up when I go to a non-fiber tradeshow only to see the benefits and technical "performance features" of wool touted :D But good to see that wool (and other natural/eco fibers) are working their way into main-stream. The big eco fibers that seem to be working their way into technical apparel this year are ingeo (corn fiber), cocona (coconut fiber) and bamboo!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A small glimpse...

...into what my home looks like when I've been doing shop-work:

cat included for scale :) (and yes, that is some new fiber that will go up next month :) )

Typically, I don't have drying racks occupying what little free space I normally have in my kitchen - however, I had to bring the fully loaded racks inside due to an impending dust storm (we can't have all that freshly dyed yarn getting all dirty and dusty!)

No news (or little news) to be reported on the knitting and/or spinning front - I'm ever-so-slowly filling my second bobbin so I can knit the Wing o the Moth, and I'm making slow, steady progress on some stealth knitting. Avast, has alas, been set aside due to my aversion of "finishing" pieces - yet when I sit and think about it, there really isn't *that* much left to be done - I need to turn in all the bands/hems and have someone install the zipper for me! And voila! It would be done!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Death(ly) Hallow(s)

In a blaze of page turning, I finished off Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this past weekend - I'm now finishing off the book on CD version :) For those who have finished who are wanting more info about what happens to all the characters, you can find a transcript of a chat with J.K. Rowling on Mugglenet.

Not too long before the release of Deathly Hallows, I finally had a chance to go on a vacation :) - the destination was just outside the town of Escalante, Utah - a hike...

...down Death Hollow. How fitting :) Photos featured here are taken after the perennial water source is reached - depending on local weather, and your own personal hiking speed, getting to the perennial water can prove to be a brutally long day. Once there though, the nature of the canyon changes dramatically - and is simply stunning.

On occasion, the pools are actually deep enough to require a swim to get across - in case you're wondering, that is indeed a child's pool toy - it was brought on the trip to aid in keeping our packs dry :)

We flew through in just three days - it is certainly possible to stretch it out longer, though for those interested in exploring the area, it should be noted that nice campsites can be hard to come by - especially in the lower reaches where poison ivy abounds. Luckily, we had heard about the poison ivy and took care to avoid it! Optimal time of year for this hike is perhaps earlier in the spring or later in the fall.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Sneak Treat!

Lucky Me! I was lucky enough to have received an advance copy of Romantic Hand Knits: 26 Flirtatious Designs That Flatter Your Figure by Annie Modesitt. (officially released for sale tomorow, August 7th)

If you want a sneak peak inside the book, check out Annie's Flickr set. The book itself is stunning to look at - the photos lush, the knitting just gorgeous. Since I received the book, I haven't had a moment to do much else other than to page through and ogle the photos. Various of the projects in the book, will, I'm sure eventually make it onto my needles - and others will provide inspiration for yet other projects. The patterns are broken down into 3 sections: Above the Waist - various tops from tanks/camisoles to sweaters and cardigans, Below the Waist - Skirts and Dresses, and Accessories - which include hats, gloves, scarves and stockings. It's fair to say I found patterns in each of the sections that caught my interest.

In addition to lovely photos and patterns, the book also has plenty of helpful information regarding techniques that may be considered more advanced or non-standard to the average knitter such as embroidery, crochet and basic lace knitting techniques. Also included is a recommended reading section in the back to help augment my knitting library :) I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time with this book as I work my way through my knitting project queue :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

During Lunchtime...

...the shop was updated!

In addition to 10 new limited edition colorways, a bunch of colors that were out of stock have been restocked, 3 new colors have been introduced, and a couple colorways have been expanded into Sport/DK weight. Cruise over to Spritely Goods to check it all out.