Jan 31
Yarn Paradox
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The amount of yarn you have left at any given time plus the amount of knitting still to be done are adversely affected by one another.

For example – When I was finishing up my madder shawl, I was knitting down to the wire wondering if I would have enough yarn left to finish the darn thing. That last ball of yarn knitted up seemingly much quicker than any of the proceeding balls of yarn. And I barely squeaked out enough to finish the bind off.

With the scarf I am knitting, I want to get through this first ball of purple alpaca so I can measure it and figure out how much yarn I’ll be using to get it the length I want it to see if I have enough left over for mittens. In this case, the last 1/4 of this ball have taken FOREVER to knit up. I must have close to four hours in this small bit of yarn and it still isn’t done. It’s like it has gotten longer instead of shorter.

So, am I alone with this phenomenon?

Jan 29
Lots of snow and a little knitting
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Central Indiana was hit with a foot of snow beginning Tuesday around noon until about noon yesterday. Since I live on a back road off of a back road way out in the country, there was no way I was leaving home yesterday until mid afternoon when the road crews finally got to my road to scrape it. Actually, the pristine snow over the fields and road was quite lovely. I really don’t mind snow when I’m at home – it’s when I’m at work that I tend to grumble a bit.

Yesterday ended up being a laid back day. I made it from my nightgown to sweats, but that was as dressed as I got. Knowing the storm was coming, I had brought paperwork home to do, so I wouldn’t get farther behind, and working in Studio B at the computer while Scott sat over at his art table was very pleasant. We listened to Eric Clapton CD’s, talked and I typed while his pencil went “scritch, scritch.” Then we took a break and watched some Cities of the Underworld from Netflix. I have no way of watching TV like normal people do (and wouldn’t anyway), but I do like to relax once in a while with something from which I can learn something new – and I LOVE learning something from history.

Also, I have been rereading some of my old mystery novels, and am in the middle of rereading the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers. They are slow-paced by today’s standards, but this is what I like, besides trying to figure out “who done it” along with the main character. The one I finished last night was “Have His Carcase.”

And I have been working, exclusively, on an alpaca scarf with yarn from The Alpaca Yarn Company that I bought at my LYS, The Trading Post for Fiber Arts.

The purple is their Classic Alpaca and the variegated is their Paca-Paints in the Desert Sunset colorway. You can blame the Yarn Harlot for this scarf. She was going nuts over scarves knit from Noro (and they are lovely things), but I’m not a huge Noro fan and wanted something very soft and very warm. I already had the variegated yarn (2 skeins at 220 yards each) in my stash, and took it with me to see if I could find something in alpaca to go with it. Susan and I dug through the bags and we both went, “Ooooooo, yeah!” at the same time when we put the purple up against it to see if the color would go.

After knitting the Shetland shawl, this is extra soft with which to work and it is knitting up very fast – for me. What you see in the picture is nearly the end of the first of four balls of the purple (they had 110 yards in each ball), so I’m nearly at the quarter-way-finished point. I decided to knit on it exclusively because I’d like to wear it while it is still winter.

Please keep the 1.3 million people in Kentucky and Arkansas without power in your thoughts and prayers. I read that it might be mid-February before some of them get power again, which means frozen pipes and lots of headaches and hassles. Just south of Indianapolis got hit with some of the ice, but we lucked out north of Indy. I’ll take 12 inches of snow over ¾” of ice anytime.

Jan 27
Happy 16th Birday, Kayla
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 01 27th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

My second oldest niece, Kayla Michele Crowder turned 16 this past Sunday. I wasn’t able to show this to you until I knew she had it because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

When my nieces turn 16, they get a dozen pink roses delivered to them, and a necklace and earings set created by me. It took me nearly 4 hours to design and create what you see below. There are smoke pearls, silver beads and black agate.

I enjoy creating all sorts of things, and when I get the chance to design a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, I want it to special and reflect what I feel about the person I am making it for. This one says “classy” all the way.

Jan 26
International Year of Natural Fibers
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Now, this is something that I highly approve of – A program aimed to promote the use of natural fibers and the support of those who raise it and produce goods from it.

The International Year of Natural Fibers.

Make sure you watch the video.

Jan 23
Fiber Arts and Comics
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 01 23rd, 2009| icon33 Comments »

As most of you probably know by now, I am the co-writer, editor and letterer of a web and print comic book called Johnny Saturn. Also, I read quite a few webcomics as well as write reviews on some. One of the webcomics I read is called Sheldon. Sheldon is 10 year old who just happened to write some software that made him a multi-billionaire, but he’s still a 10 year old nerd who likes sci-fi, Lord of the Rings and swimming in the pond near his house. Oh yes, he also downloaded an entire encyclopedia and voice recognition software into a duck named Arthur. I love Arthur. He’s a hedonistic, sarcastic, soft-hearted creature who is, on occasion, the voice of reason in this strip.

Well, I have been sloooowly reading through the archives of this strip (with my current work schedule, one or two a day is the most I get to read), but I came across this one. Got to love a comic strip that manages to mention two of my favorite fiber arts in it. See?

You should be able to click on the above graphic and make it bigger and easier to read.

Enjoy your day!

Jan 21
It really madders!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 01 21st, 2009| icon31 Comment »

I can hardly put it in strong enough words how pleased I am to show this to you. It’s far from perfect (but, hey, nothing I create is perfect), but I LOVE it.

Remember, this started out as Harrisville Design’s Shetland yarn, soaked 28 days in 25% WOG alum, then dyed in madder heated by the daily summer sun over a course of 8 days. The top color in the shawl is 15 minutes in the pot and the bottom color is 8 days in the pot. It was knitted using the Prairie Shawl pattern from Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle and I just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn (except for two balls I did not use because I felt it would have made the dark section way too large. I’m saving them for the sweater vest I am planning). And for a side note, my model is my friend Sandy. It looks lovely with her red hair, and she’s taller than I am.

For the first time ever, I will have a finished project to model at February’s spinning retreat. Even though I didn’t spin the yarn, I think the dye experiment and shawl are worth showing off. I’d love to hear what you guys think of it.

I’ve already started my next project, a nice, warm, soft, pretty scarf out of alpaca. I’ve only 5 rows on it done at this point, so let me get a bit further along with it before I show it to you. Let’s just say the main color is purple, and, after knitting the Shetland, this is like knitting the stuff from which fairies’ dresses are made. My hands are loving it.

Jan 20
I married a wise man
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This is from Scott’s blog today:

My Humble Advice…
By Scott Story on January 20th, 2009

If I was given a few quiet, private minutes with Barack Obama, the next president of the United States, before he took the oath of office, and he asked me for advice before he stepped out onto the mall to become leader of the free world, I would have a few things to say to him.

First, with every decision you make and executive order you sign, there are going to be winners and losers. No matter how well intentioned your choice is, there will be those who suffer from it, and people who find loopholes to prosper from it. This does not mean you should shy away from the tough decisions.

Second, every decision you make will have unintended consequences. No matter how well intentioned, and how carefully thought out the long-term results of your actions, life has a way producing something else unexpected. As above, this does not mean you can dodge the tough choices, only that you must be prepared for the unexpected.

Third, listen to individuals, not groups. The smartest men in the world, when gathered as a group, can make the most stupid suggestions. Group think always caters to the lowest common denominator. Choose your advisors carefully, but even then be aware that smart advisors can give bad advice.

Fourth, be aware that you are the servant of the people. Strive for the greater good, not what will get you re-elected.

Fifth, know that your every move will be watched, commented on, and debated. You will be praised and scorned for every action. Pay special care to those who love you, because love can easily turn to hate, but hate can never really turn to love.

Obviously, the president-elect has not asked me for my opinion, nor do I expect him to.

Mr. Obama is a smart man, so I can only hope that he’s naturally intuited much of what I’ve written here. The expectations this man faces must be mind-blowing: We expect him to be Washington, Kennedy, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King rolled into one. No mortal man could possibly live up to such a burden.

In the Neil Young song “Looking For A Leader,” Neil calls for Barack Obama to step up and save us from ourselves. Even I, as cynical as I am, hope Mr. Obama can do so. Not matter what happens, he has stepped into almost every history book that will ever be written about this time forward.

Jan 20
Knitting is complete!
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Well, I finally have something near completion. The madder gradation shawl is knitted, the ends have been woven in and all I lack is blocking it.

Wanna see the scary part?

This is how much yarn I had left over after binding it off. Let me tell you, the last 6 inches of the bind off found me sweating profusely and praying for all I was worth. Whew! God truly does work miracles, still! I’ll get it blocked tomorrow night, then take it to work on Wednesday for Sandy to model it for me. With her red hair, it’ll look absolutely lovely! I should have pictures of it in all its glory this weekend.

This has been a wonderful experiment, and I have a new item to show in the Natural Dye lectures I give. If you want to see this shawl in person, contact me about a talk on natural dyes for your guild. I have lots of samples to show and goodies to pass out.

Jan 15

Sorry for my site being down for a couple of days earlier this week. Scott tried to move it to our new host…on the very day Mercury went into retrograde. Not a good plan. So, we are back on the old host and will attempt the switch over again later.

On another note – it is very cold here today (currently -6). As I was getting dressed this morning, I was thankful that I had a nice pair of hand knit wool socks to put on. At least my feet will stay warm today. But this weather makes me realize that I need a nice, thick pair of wool mittens. Hmmm… That will have to be remedied before next winter hits. Also, I don’t have a decent scarf – at least not one I like. So I purchased some purple alpaca to go with some variegated alpaca I already had to make a scarf. This project will begin as soon as I get my madder gradation shawl complete. I intend to knit on the shawl this Sunday at the art center and each night while winding down for bed, so it shouldn’t take too long.

If you are in the northern half of the US or Canada, stay warm and think nice, wooly thoughts.

Jan 12
Dr. Who Scarf Patterns – Really!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 01 12th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

For all you Dr. Who fans out there – This website www.doctorwhoscarf.com has patterns for all the Dr. Who scarves by season! This is so freakin’ cool I can hardly stand it! My little nerd-o-meter is off the register with this one, folks! Hand me some knitting needles and let me at them!!!

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