May 29

I cannot believe how many years I have been afraid to try Fair Isle knitting because it looked too hard.  What a wimp I have been.

I just finished knitting the second hat using Sharon’s patter, this time using my own naturally-dyed Shetland in Logwood, Osage Orange and Madder.  Look at this!

Doesn’t Headdie look beautiful in this?  As much as I liked the hat in gray and white, I adore it with colors!

I am so enamored with knitting colorwork that I can hardly wait to start my sweater.  I need to find the right needles to start it, then away I’ll go.  In the meantime, I think I’ll knit one more hat, this time playing around with my own color design just to have some fun.  It’ll either be a really cool hat, or one butt-ugly one.  I don’t really care at this point, it’ll be fun just to play.

It has gotten really hot here in Indiana – 90 degrees today and hotter tomorrow.  Thank heavens for air conditioning.

May 27

You are finally getting a taste of what our spring has been like here in central Indiana this year.

As you can tell by the shiny leaves, it is raining in this picture, although the wind was calm for once.  This has been a hair-raising spring all over the US.  It seems whatever the south gets, we get the next day.  Luckily, it hasn’t been quite as bad by the time it reaches us, although the southern part of our state got clobbered by tornadoes the night before last.  Our own tornado sirens went off at about 11:30 Wednesday night, waking me up.  I grabbed the weather radio, woke Scott and we ran for the closet beneath the stairs for about half an hour until the tornado watch for our county was finally cancelled.  I really hate tornadoes.

Even though I have the Booby Socks going, I had to start another hat from Sharon’s pattern. 

This time, I am using my own, naturally-dyed Shetland yarn.  The near black is a well-aged Logwood.  Logwood is fugitive not in the way it fades, but in the way it darkens over the years.  This was once a really nice purple.  The yellow is Osage Orange and the orange is from the first soak of Madder from the great madder experiment of a few summers back.  I am so glad I ignored the instructions to “discard the first soak water” and used it to dye up this sweet orange.  The yellow and orange look awesome against the black background. 

I have to admit, I am completely enamoured with color work, and I think that once I get this hat done, I am going to go ahead and start that lovely sweater I showed you a week or so ago.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and may it be sunny and warm where you are.  We are supposed to have a rain-free weekend for the first time in months.  Keep your fingers crossed for us that we actually do.  I have several outdoor projects that are screaming to be completed, and that is what I’d like to do on one of the days home.

May 25
FO & SO
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 05 25th, 2011| icon37 Comments »

I finished the hat from the kit I bought from Sharon last weekend, but I am just now getting around to getting pictures taken to show you.

I could not be more happy with this hat.  It was a simple pattern, the handspun yarn included in the kit was soft and wonderful to knit with and it fits great!

And you needn’t worry about running out of yarn with the kit, because here’s what I had left over.

I already have some of my naturally-dyed Shetland yarn picked out (three colors) for my next attempt at this hat.  I have a couple of other projects to finish first, then I’ll tackle the hat before I try the sweater kit I have.

And this is where I am on the Booby sock.  I am not a fast knitter, and I knitted all the way to Kentucky (3.5 hours) and part of the way back, and then two lunch hours and this is as far as I have gotten.  Oh well.  It’ll be done in plenty of time to wear this fall.

Goodness it’s nice to have some projects completed.

May 22
Kentucky Sheep & Wool Festival
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 05 22nd, 2011| icon35 Comments »

Yesterday, Sandy, her 87-year-old mom, Jane, and I drove down to the Kentucky Sheep & Wool Festival in Lexington.  It was a perfect day to go to a fiber fair.  It was sunny, warm (mid 80’s) with a slight breeze to keep things from getting too stifling.

This is the second year for the fiber portion of the fair and those who were there last year said it was at least double the size, so it is growing.  The nicest thing about this show was the quality of the vendors.  There was none of that “flea market” feel (as quoted by Sandy) where people set up booths to sell things that don’t even remotely have to do with fiber or fiber animals.  There was one guy who was in a booth promoting soybeans.  I told him if he wanted to really get people’s attention at a fiber fair, he should have soysilk samples to give away, not BBQ spices.  His was the one booth there that had nothing to do with fiber.

There was one main building, one main mongo tent (pictured above), plus a few other smaller tents.  There were lambs, sheep, bunnies, llamas and alpacas for sale.  There was a sheep herding trial associated with this fair, and there were the most beautiful Border Collies all over the place.

One observation I made was the sheer quantity of alpaca fiber available.  I’d almost say that alpaca made up half of what you saw there.  I had never seen anything like it.

I ended up buying a handwoven rug to go under my Harrisville loom so it wouldn’t scratch up my hardwood floor, some shuttles for students, some yarn, a quart of raw honey (for the morning oatmeal I make for a co-worker – I serve only the best ingredients I can get) and a couple cones of 5/2 cotton.  And a fleece.  You really didn’t think Sandy and I would get away from a fiber fair without at least one fleece.  It is the most beautiful Romney fleece – lots of luster and a sweet crimp structure that I can’t wait to get onto my wheel.  I think it will end up as July’s Fiber Binder Club selection.

Sometimes the best things, though, happen by accident.  I was taking some pictures of a small group of lambs, but being lambs, they were very active and most of the pictures came out blurry.  I hate it that most digital camera have that moment of hesitation between you pressing the button and the picture actually taking.  By the time the shutter “clicks” the special moment is gone.  It’s one of the reasons I miss my 35 mm camera so much.

Well.  I got in one lucky shot yesterday.  Check this one out.

I will be saving this one for something special.  Maybe a calendar or something.  But I do know I will be printing it out and framing it for my studio as well.  Look at that sweet face and that smile.  I’d loved to have brought this little fellow home with me, but…  oh well…  He moved into position not when I pressed the button on my camera, but when the shutter actually did its thing.  Luck, luck, luck, luck, LUCK!  No skill on the photographer’s part at all.

And a friend of mine, who we ran into quite by accident, had three skeins in the skein competition and she won two firsts and a second on them.  There was much hugging and congratulations going on there.  The really special thing about this is that I taught her how to spin.  She bought my Kromski wheel from me and I went to her apartment a couple of times a month for several months for tea, cookies and spinning lessons.  She picked it up very quickly, and now she has her own business selling her handspun yarns.  I am very proud of her.

We had a great day there, and Sandy and I have this one on our list of ones we want to vend at next year.  Wish us luck that we can create enough product to make this dream a reality.

May 20
Tea Time
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 A Little of This, A Little of That | icon4 05 20th, 2011| icon34 Comments »

I’ll state right up front that I am a tea drinker.  Not iced tea, but hot tea.  I call it my brain juice, because, without it, the brain just does not kick into gear each morning.

First, I’m curious – how many people who read this are coffee drinkers or tea drinkers?  I know some drink both, but what is your primary choice?

For those of you who drink tea, what kind do you like best, black, green, herbal, etc.?

I, mostly, drink green tea.  I absolutely love Dragonwell Green Tea that I buy at Teavana here in Indianapolis.  But, lately, I have been experimenting with mixing different teas to come up with a blend I like that combines the good health qualities of the green with the added caffeine boost of the black.  And I have come up with one I consider a winner. 

Take one teaspoon of Dragonwell Green and one ball of Black Dragon Pearls for an extra large cup of tea, or for two normal cups of tea.  Bring the water just to the boiling point and let it steep for 3-5 minutes (or if you like yours extra strong, you can do like me and let it steep for 10-15 minutes).  This is a nice tea with no bitterness, but the added Black Dragon Pearls ball adds some umph both in caffeine and in flavor.  Because of how it looks in the tea strainer before the water is added (like dried grass with a black, organic ball on top), I call it Dragon Pile.  Needless to say that if I want to sell my own tea blend, I’ll have to come up with a different name, but for now Dragon Pile will do.

Do any of you tea drinkers make your own tea blends?  If so, what do you blend together and what are the results?

May 19

It’s starting to look more summerish all the time. 

Sandy and I are going to the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday.  I can hardly wait.  For one, she’s driving and I’ll be knitting on my “Booby Socks.”   Yes, Booby Socks, not Bobby Socks. 

These are Booby Socks.  Right above the ankle, you see two pattern rows with beads.  The top of these represent breasts before a mamogram (the beads are the nipples) and the second pattern row represents breasts after a mamogram.  I think they are a hoot.  I have the first sock started, and with 4 hours down there and 4 hours back, I ought to get quite a bit done on them.

May 17
When Hairry Met Headie
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 05 17th, 2011| icon34 Comments »

With Scott being an artist, he has the coolest tools and props at his disposal.  For example, he needed to draw a skull for several projects he was working on, including  covers for a horror line of books, so we bought him a skull so he could get it all right, plus be able to shine lights on it from different angles for the shadow effects. 

 

I name everything.  So, I named the skull Hairry.  When Scott asked why, I said it was because he was bald.  Poor Scott.  Really all he can do is shake his head at me.  Doesn’t Hairry have a charming smile?

Then he decided he needed both a man’s head and a woman’s head so he can draw them properly from different perspectives and with different lighting conditions on them.  We searched high and low, and finally came across a woman’s head at an antique store for a price we were willing to pay.

 

Meet Headie… Because she is a head.  I’m weird.

Hairry wears one of Scott’s hats most of the time, so I decided that Headie needed to model the partially knitted hat that I am working on.  Please excuse her lack of hair state.  I think this is why she was priced so cheaply.  Still, she makes a great hat model as you can see. 

This pattern is coming along very well, and I am finding the idea of knitting with two colors at one time a lot easier than I had anticipated. 

I still want to do another hat, this one with colors changing in each row.  If I can get through that, then I have a Philosopher’s Wool sweater kit that I have had for about 6 years that I will finally get to knit and wear.  I measured myself and I am going to knit the sweater at the smallest size. 

 

The picture shows it looking baggy, and I still have 36 pounds to go until I reach my goal.  I want to make sure I get to wear this sweater for a very long time.  The smallest size equals my chest measurement right now, but I have the feeling most of my future weight loss will come from the waist down, so I believe I will be safe here.

And here is Scott proudly displaying his mittens.  It has gotten cold and rainy here in Indiana, again, so he really hated to take them off.  I think the only reason he did was it was too difficult to draw with them on.  Next for him will be fingerless mitts.

And, don’t think I have forgotten the coat I want to weave the fabric for.  As soon as I get a 50% off coupon from JoAnn’s, I’ll be getting the bolt of felt to make the “muslin” out of so I will know how many yards to weave.  I figure there should be a new set of coupons being mailed out in the next two-three weeks.

May 15

The trees are filling our very nicely.  If you look at the horizon line, you can see a slight haze in the air.  This past week was a bit humid, although we nearly went an entire week with little to no rain.  Our field has been planted as has the field across the road.  This is a good thing, since this is mid May.

Of course, it rained on Easter Sunday, and according to those old wives everyone hears about, we are supposed to get rain for the next seven Sundays.  Well, this is Sunday three since Easter, and, you guessed it, so far those old wives know what they are talking about.  Sigh…

I’m knitting on Sharon’s hat kit and this is my first real attempt at Fair Isle knitting.  So far, I am really enjoying it.  Out of 44 rows before the decreases start for the crown, I’m on row 27.  It’s going very quickly.  Also, this kit consists of her own handspun yarn from her own Shetland sheep.  It’s a very sweet deal and a very sweet project.  There’s an Etsy link on her site.

May 13

A week or so ago, Scott and I discovered that National Geographic was hosting a tour of Cleopatra artifacts across the US.  It started in Philadelphia and is currently at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  A few years ago, we went to Chicago to see the Tutankhamun, which we enjoyed very much.  Knowing there are far fewer items in existence from Cleopatra’s time, and reading that there has been an undersea archeological dig for the cities in which she lived, we decided that perhaps this exhibition of some of the items they have found so far would be interesting.  When it comes to Egyptian history, Scott and I are far more familiar with Seti I and Ramses II’s time periods, and, of course, most people are familiar with King Tut’s stuff, but we know very little about Cleopatra.  So we decided to take a day and go there as an anniversary present to one another.

For starters, both of us love this museum.  We both love art deco and this museum is a feast for the eyes.

The interior detailing is spectacular with mosaic murals in the entryway.

That is right.  This is not a huge painting, but a mosaic masterpiece.  Gosh, I cannot fathom how long this took to create!  It circles three sides of the huge main entry hall.

Needless to say, we were not allowed to take pictures in the Cleopatra exhibit.  It was very well done and took us about an hour and a half to go through it.  We had to step aside only once to allow a group of high school students wander by with their guide, but I refused to be rushed by them.  If it comes to a city near you (we were told it is going to Milwaukee next), go and see it.  Don’t go expecting anything like the King Tut tour because they just don’t have that number of items to show, but what they do have are in remarkable shape for having been under water for 2000+ years.  Scott and I are both glad we went.

While we were there, we went through the Science and Natural History section, mostly because Scott becomes like a 5-year-old anytime there are dinosaurs in the area.  Actually, I like that stuff, too, although it was the cave system and glacier areas that I enjoyed the most.

At the end of the dinosaur exhibit, there was a play area for little kids.  It looked like something that most children would love, but there was one item that caught my picture as not quite belonging to the scene.  See if you can spot it?

I really didn’t know they had weapons of mass destruction back the dinosaur days, but this may need to be studied further.  Perhaps it wasn’t a huge meteor that killed off everything, but a giant grenade…   Hmmm…

And, it seems you never know when you will run into a celebrity.  Good old Sherlock was working hard on a case, so we merely nodded at him, took his picture and let him at it.

All-in-all, it was a nice day out together.

Today, I have worked in clearing out and organizing my studio a bit so I can start weaving once again.  I have the Harrisville loom all set up and am in the midst of measuring out 11 yards of 10/2 perle cotton – 600 ends total.  I hope to get the loom threaded tomorrow and start weaving on waffle weave dishtowels on Sunday afternoon.  I expect to get 8-9 towels and with a few samples for me.  The color way for the warp is purple, blue and light pink in a variegated yarn and the weft will be the variegated plus some solid blues for some stripes.  I’ll be nice to be weaving once again.

I hope you have had a great week and here’s to a relaxing and fun weekend.

May 11

I’m down to 156.1 – that’s a .6 pound loss from last week.  It’s slow, but steady and whatever I’m doing, I must be doing it right.  Once I figure out what that is, I’ll keep it up.

Also, today is Scott’s and my 26th wedding anniversary.  It’s been 26 wonderful years!

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