May 31
I’m a stained woman!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 05 31st, 2009| icon31 Comment »

After last night’s nasty storms and hearing the tornado siren go off four times (the closest the tornado was seen was about 5 miles from my place according to The National Weather Service’s website), today’s weather could not have been more perfect. Sunny, light breeze, clear and about 70 degrees for a high.

While Scott cleaned on the garage and burned most of the boxes the hardwood flooring had come in as well as a bunch of other things that have been piling up over the winter, I stained the woodwork and trim for my studio.

Here I am staining…

And here I am showing you just how much fun I’m having!

I managed to get ALL the trim stained (31 8 foot pieces and 3 10 foot pieces) as well as the outlet and light-switch covers, but I ran out of time and energy to do all the little corner blocks. That will have to wait until next Sunday.

Also, we discovered that some baby opossums had made themselves at home in the garage. Scott and I managed to trap four of them, and we are hoping that we got them all. They are currently in a big trash can waiting their fate. They didn’t weigh enough to trip the live trap we have for larger critters, so Scott had to sit very still and trip the trap cover manually when they went in for some apple we had planted in there as bait. I’ve asked Sandy to bring her smaller trap to work tomorrow to set up in case there are more of the little buggers. “Little buggers” is a LOT more polite a term than what we have been referring to them as all day.

And last, but certainly not least, here is the random stripe sweater vest to date. I’ve added a light indigo stripe, an Osage Orange with tin stripe and am nearly done with Alkanet root with alum. I think at the next point of color change, I’ll be starting the armholes and V neck decreases. This is going much quicker than anything I’ve done in a while, but that is because it is the ONLY thing I have on the needles right now.

And tomorrow is June 1st. Wow…

May 27

Tonight at my BASK meeting at my LYS, one member brought in her new baby daughter, Katie, who will be two months old on Friday. I got to hold her and croon sweet messages to her – she’s such a pretty little baby – and, before they left to go home, I grabbed a set of knitting needles and had Susan, the shop owner, place them in Katie’s hand. Katie took a firm grasp, seemed very pleased and content and didn’t want to give them up. Ladies and gentlemen, I firmly predict that Katie will grow up to be a knitter, and a fine one at that since it was Susan who handed her the needles.

Why didn’t I want to hand them to Katie? Because I want Katie to be a much better knitter than I am and Susan’s gift was much more valuable to pass on than my own. But, then, again, I did get Katie to hold onto a shuttle, so, perhaps, I’ll get to teach her how to weave one day – but I believe her first love will be things made with two sticks and some string.

May 26

I just received an email from Earthguild about their June schedule of classes, and it contained a quote that I just had to pass on.

“Since no one can tell us whether it’s time to stop feeling gloomy, or time to dig into the dark for the long haul, that leaves keeping busy.

Make things you already know how to, learn to make things you never knew you could, teach others what you know.

Unemployment is not an option: grow food, grow flowers, grow wise.

Focus on what we produce, instead of on what we consume, and we’ll come out better than we went in.”

Amen!

May 25
Memorial Day Catch-Up
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 05 25th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

This weekend has been a quiet one for me. The past several weekends of hard work and lots of travel caught up with me big time, and I have done very little the past two days except sleep and knit.

Here is the knitting I have done.

The last time you saw this was about 2/3 of the way through the indigo border. Since then, I have added a cochineal with chrome stripe, a turmeric with tin stripe, a yellow onion skins with tin stripe, a Osage Orange with alum overdyed with a weak indigo solution stripe and am about half-way through the cochineal with alum stripe. I love the brightness of the colors and this be a happy vest to wear in the gray days of winter to help brighten up everyone’s spirits. At 292 stitches per row, it’s taking about 15 minutes to get around the thing at this point.

As I am knitting and seeing how very little of my naturally dyed stash this is going to use, I am thinking about what else I can make to use up more of it. I have a LOT of Shetland yarn dyed in nearly every color imaginable so have a wide field of opportunity available to me. I am thinking a similar vest in browns would be nice – I wear a lot of browns. I am thinking some overshot samples, too. But, samples aren’t very practical in my mind, and I really like making items to use and wear.

But I do want to make things with it. While it’s nice to have it all neatly skeined up in my cedar chest, it’ll be even nicer to have it to wear and show off, and to show the nice colors to people at my dye day events.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day, and, please, remember why we have this day.

May 18
Woven homespun
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 05 18th, 2009| icon32 Comments »

I had this woven and fulled by last Friday, but due to the floor installation work of the weekend, I was not able to get pictures taken and uploaded of the woven and fulled, handspun and naturally dyed Targhee wool fabric. This is the absolutely first cloth I have woven with yarn I have spun, and to say I am tickled pick with how it came out is an understatement.

When it came off the loom, it was pretty stiff and rough – it felt more like wool burlap than something I plan to wear. I filled the washing machine with hot water and some lavender scented detergent and let it agitate for 3.5 minutes, checking it after each minute, then after 30 seconds. Then I spun it out, refilled the washing machine with hot water and let it agitate for another minute both to get the soap out and to full it just a wee bit more. After spinning it out again, I checked it over and declared it done!

My bedroom is pretty drafty (a fan on me and a ceiling fan going all night) and the fabric was dry by morning. It was 20″ X 96″ just off of the loom, and fulled it is 17.88″ X 86″, making the shrinkage 10.6 % in width and 10.4% in length. So, I got the 18″ I was hoping for, but the length is slightly less than the 2.5 yards I was wanting, being at 2.39 yards. Still, I am pleased. Since I lashed on, the loom waste is less than 20″. I would have had less than this, but I ran out of weft yarn. I’m still not sure what I am going to do with the leftover yarn, but I will think of something.

I could hardly wait to show it off at work. My fiber cohort couldn’t keep her hands off of it, and, in fact, the cloth laid on her desk all day so she could pat it. The idea of my cutting it up and sewing a vest out of the pieces makes her cringe. As you can see, she likes it just fine, folded in half, as a stole/shawl/scarf.

And here it is in all its beauty sitting in the sun.

There is an iridescent quality to the colors, though not as much as I had hoped, which is the main factor for which I was aiming, but I think it will make a lovely vest.

I am considering entering it into next year’s state fair, unless by some miracle I can get it all sewed up by July 1st.

Oh yes, the last inch and a half or so – I had ran out of the weft (mostly blue) yarn and had 5 warp threads that wouldn’t fit (more ends than dents). I hated to see them go to waste, so I woven them into the end of the project just to see what the fabric would look like with the warp and weft being the same. It’s okay, but I think it lacks the depth of the design as woven. Still, it’ll go into the project binder.

And now for the baby bird update – They are gone! They aren’t on the ground, and the nest definitely has that abandoned look. So, how old are birds when they learn how to fly. My guess is these are about 2.5 weeks old, but they had lots of feathers last week, so I’m guessing they could have flown the nest already. Does anyone know? I’m hoping the local feral cats didn’t get them.

May 17
We have a floor!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 05 17th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Well, it’s done. Please excuse the mess.

It absolutely beautiful – and one of the hardest weekends I have had in a loooong time. I’ll clean it up tomorrow night. Right now, I’m knackered, so all I want is a hot shower, some arnica rubbed into some sore back muscles, and bed. Poor Scott is even more tired than I am.

Next weekend – staining the casing, baseboard and half round. Much easier!

May 16

Today we started laying the hardwood floor. It is much harder than it looks to do this.

Here is what we started with this morning.

And here is where we are now at quitting time for the day.

It took a while to learn how to use the nail gun, our new air compressor, and getting that first row down (it had to be nailed conventionally – you try nailing a nail through something as tough as a steel beam!) took much longer than we thought it would. But, we finally got into the groove, and the floor is going down very nicely. I will say we are about 1/3rd of the way done. If we work really hard tomorrow, we can actually get it down, which is our goal.

I can’t wait to show you what it will look like all done.

Now, my aching back and knees are going to bed.

May 12

This weekend was just as busy as I thought it would be. I did manage to get to knit on the Shetland Random Stripe Vest on the drive to and from Ft. Wayne on Saturday (90 miles each way), so I actually have something to show you. It’s not much, but at 260 stitches in ribbing, it takes about half an hour to knit one row.

Then, I finished warping the loom with my handspun, naturally-dyed Targhee and have started weaving on it. It’s going to weave up very fast, which is good, since I need the floor space the loom is on to be empty on Saturday. It is weaving up much differently than I thought it would, but I like it and can hardy way to finish it and sew the vest from it.

I am on the last part of knitting the Faux-Cable Library Shawl – the border on the final pocket. I think the next time I knit one of these, I’ll knit the pocket as a flap and sew it into place. I just am not happy with the edges of the pocket. Anyway, this one is nearly done and will be ready for next fall when the days grow shorter and colder.

And last, while I was mowing yesterday, I took a peek at the nest of baby birds.

This is the fullest nest of baby birds I have ever seen. And I swear I still see only 4 beaks in that mass of feathers and fluff!

The mama flew away just as I was sneaking up on the nest, so I didn’t get a good look at her. I can tell you one thing, though – it is not a nest of baby pigeons. I would have been very disappointed if it had turned out to be pigeons. I hate pigeons – I call them skyrats. Having grown up on a dairy farm with lots of pigeons in the barns and having to deal with their mess on the hay, walls, floors, partitions, etc., all the time is enough to make anyone hate pigeons. Nasty birds!

Scott thinks the mama looked like a robin. I couldn’t tell – she moved too fast for me to get in a good look.

May 8
Teach a Male to Knit Day
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 05 8th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

Per Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s 2009 knitting calendar, today is Teach a Male to Knit Day – double points if you are a male person teaching another male person how to knit.

My friend and coworker, Sandy, called my attention to it this morning, and we both thought of Mike, the gruff Maintenance Supervisor who works for our company. We could have considered teaching Joe, The Maintenance Manager, how to knit, but he already knows how.

So we cornered Mike this afternoon and I cast on 10 stitches, showed him the basics, and Sandy and I coaxed him through his first attempt at knitting. We were beseached not to mention this to his wife.

So here I am showing Mike as he manipulates the needles and Sandy memorializes the occasion by taking pictures. And, if you look at Mike’s right hand, he is missing his index finger (a childhood accident that included a brother and a corn knife), so this was a bit more of a challenge for him.

And then Mike tries it on his own – and he did it! He knitted!

And we even got him to smile!

When I got home from work tonight, I wasn’t in the mood to knit or spin, so I began warping my Harrisville loom with the mostly cochineal Targhee yarn I spun and dyed. As you can see, I’m half way through it.

I have to get ready for a drive to Ft. Wayne (90 miles north of here) for a day of genealogical research tomorrow, so I’ll have to complete the warping on Sunday. My plans to lay the floor that day are being put off a couple of weeks due to my having to rent a nail gun and air compressor, and I won’t be home tomorrow to rent it. Oh, well. I have plenty of woodwork to stain that day so it won’t be wasted.

May 7
Progress is being made
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 News | icon4 05 7th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I am half-way through the last pocket on the Faux-Cable Library Shawl, then that will be done, except for the blocking, and I have started something I have wanted to do for quite a while now. That is to take the naturally-dyed, Shetland, fingering-weight yarn I have dyed over the past 7 or 8 years and knit a random stripe vest from it. I did a swatch Sunday night when I was having troubles going to sleep – even test-swatched the cable I want to run up the middle of the vest – took the gauge to the Sweater Wizard program that is on my old PC and from it created the pattern for the vest.

Since the version of Sweater Wizard I have (and I have no idea if newer versions have added this capability) has no way of telling it I want it knitted in the round, I took what it spit out and did some calculations, placing where I want the cable to be and coming up with the number of stitches to cast on. Last night, I cast on 260 stitches onto a wooden size 3, 16″ circular needle and knit the first 4 rows of the ribbing in indigo yarn. I was having so much fun, I had to make myself go to bed at 10:00, and I can hardly wait to get home tonight and knit some more on it.

I have a natural dye demonstration I am doing at The Huddleston House on July 14th, and I’d love to have this vest completed by then. With everything else I have to do, I doubt if I’ll make it, but I should be able to wear it to the Natural Dye talk I’m giving to the Indianapolis Embroiderer’s Guild in September.

As it ends up, I will be knitting two vests from my own yarn – one with the brighter colors, and one in the many shades of brown. I wear a lot of browns, and would love a vest of this color to go with some of my fall and winter outfits.

Also, I peeked into the baby bird nest Tuesday night after work, and the babies are all covered with a charcoal colored down and have grown a lot. I tiptoed away, that idiotic grin on my face once again. The next time I go to check up on them, I will be taking the camera.

Sunday should see me back in Studio B laying flooring, and Monday, Scott and I will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary by driving to Springfield, Ohio, and doing a favorite activity – antiquing!!

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