Saturday, May 31, 2008

Spinning Girls

Well, I outta be ashamed of myself for leaving these pics out of the last post. I could call it strategy, breaking up a blogworthy event, stretching it into multiple posts. Honestly, I momentarily forgot about this part of the day... the last post was already long and picture heavy, and with the recent laptop flakiness, it took 3 or 4 times as long as it should have to get done...

Anyhoo, I figured it was only right to post these before moving on to more recent knits and another festival...

We were walking by this lovely lady in one of the buildings (we were trying to escape the far too bitter cold for May winds that day) and paused to watch her spin, when my girls spoke up, telling her that they knew how to do that. They each got to try it a couple times a few months back at a 4H event... but they spoke as if they'd been doing it for years, no self-esteem issues here. Then, my shy, introverted, nonsocialized kids (why do people even think that about homeschoolers, anyway? I think my kids actually socialize more than the average public or private schooler, but that's a topic for another blog...) came right out and asked if they could have a turn.

The lovely lady, whose name I neglected to get, was so sweet and eager to share the love of spinning- she stopped her work, got up out of her seat, and let my girls give it a whirl. She patiently explained how to hold it and how to draft. She helped to make sure the wheel kept going in the right direction, as my girls and their little feet had a bit of a time with that.

They beamed with pride as their fiber turned to yarn, and only gloated a little bit about the fact that they've, yet again, got to do something that I haven't yet tried. (Linda, owner extraordinaire of Blue Sky Alpacas, said I could borrow her wheel to learn on!!! Yipee! Woohoo!! It totally rocks to have great connections! I have some roving just waiting for me to get going with yet another addicting hobby/pastime, good thing the cleaning crew, um, I mean kids are getting so good at their chores, that really frees up some time...)

Busy day tomorrow, but more soon- there was another festival today... and no one was even sick!

Happy knitting,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Overdue Shepherd's Harvest Post...

So much has been going on (Minnesota Homeschool Chamber Orchestra concert, piano recital, historic farm field trips, a friend having twins, signing up for the block-of-the-month quilt at the local quilt shop, spring cleaning, lots of baking, setting up the pool, trying to get the garden in...)- I don't think I could do enough backlog-blogging... but...

I've been wanting to get to a quick post about my afternoon at the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival on Mother's Day. For those of you keeping track of such things, yes, this event occured just after I and 3 of my children survived another stomach bug. The kids bounced right back, I on the other hand was on my 4th day with little to no food. I tried to eat that day, and it just hurt, so I stopped... except for a few nibbles of kettle corn, which, as any die-hard kettle corn fan knows, is worth a stomach cramp or two.

It was a fairly cold, and very windy day, I was rather weak and shaky, I had my 4 girls with me (boys hung out with dad...) but, after a couple years of trying to get to this event, and never seeming to be able to manage it, I was going to go to this event, or stay home whining like a baby. I had done enough whining in the previous days, so it was off to the festival for this fiber freak.

There were llamas and alpacas- so cute and tempting... (my husband once suggested getting a couple alpacas, I wonder if he still remembers doing that...)

Of course, there were sheep, some being shorn... we stopped for a bit to watch this one, then we got cold and headed for the buildings. It is pretty amazing how fast they do that with modern shears. When we watch it done at the Kelley Farm, it takes a lot longer... they use old hand shears and what must amount to a lot of muscle power, my hands ache just thinking about it.

There were piles of fluff... with little noses, ears, and eyes, if you look real hard... There was a woman holding a rabbit, while spinning, but not spinning directly from the rabbit- I was bummed to have missed that, I'll have to catch that next year...

This one was my favorite, of course, he wasn't for sale... my husband doesn't think rabbits are a good idea for our home, we have a very large dog, our friends call her our bear, she's part Newfoundland part Husky... and she's brought home some rabbits before... lovely... I don't know if she coud get her teeth on anything vital without choking on the fur of one of these things, but I don't really want to find out.

I already mentioned the kettle corn, no fair or festival would be complete without that. I'm sorry to have missed the pronto pups, hehe, no I'm not, they're not my favorite, and I'm pretty sure that even if they were, they wouldn't have agreed with me that day... well, pronto pups or no pronto pups, I had to get a pic of their sign- 'Military Order of Cooties'?!?! Cooties?!? Who knew?

My main objective for the day was to find a nice pair of sock blockers, a Nostepinne, and Fiber Trends' Felted Clog pattern. I must've missed them, but I didn't see any sock blockers... I scored a wonderful clear finish Kromski Nostepinne from Mielke's Fiber Arts. (If you're interested in seeing how a Nostepinne is used, here's a YouTube clip to check out- it's short and sweet, though not very descriptive, I may have to remedy that soon with an alternative video clip, eh? ya think?)

I found the Felted Clog pattern, in child's size- great for my kids, I might have to wing it for a pair for me this fall as I didn't see any adult size copies, no biggee, winging it is one of my favorite things to do!

I sighed heavily, thinking of buying this-

And was excited to find this, a Schacht School Loom, for a mere $10 more than the cheap smaller one I almost bought 10 minutes before spotting this. I could have waited, looked them up, comparative shopped, and ordered one online 'one of these days...' , but nope, I saw it, wanted it (it's for the kids, really, it is...) and slapped my money down on their table so fast I think I actually took the people, whose job it is to sell them, by surprise...

This is a publicity shot, not something my kids have already worked up... ours in still in the packaging... It's been a couple weeks, I know, but did you see the list of busy-ness that started this post? It'll come out soon, and I won't be able to resist showing off pics of my kids' wonderful creations...

As this event fell on Mother's Day, it's only right to mention the thoughtful gift my husband got for me, after I tell you the short story that leads up to it. My sisters and I went together on a ball winder for our mom, and when I mentioned it to my husband a couple weeks earlier, I dropped the hint that it's something I would really love as well, and I let him know that if he didn't know where to find one, he could always ask my mom or knitting sister where they could be bought. I didn't really give it another thought. We are not big gift givers. We have a rather tight budget. He knew I'd be treating myself to a couple of goodies at the festival. I figured he'd think that was present enough for me. Nope. He pulled a good one. It turns out he did conspire with my seriously good poker-faced sister, who never even cracked a smile when I mentioned that I told my husband that's what I wanted too...

That man actually went to a yarn shop that I haven't even been to yet, and chatted it up with the store owner after pointing out a pic of one of his daughters on a Blue Sky Alpacas pattern... he started brainstorming, thinking of new product ideas and ways to market them, always scheming, that fella, and so very supportive of my designing hobby! How lucky am I?! Lucky enough to have a great family and a new ball winder!!

No fancy swifts yet, but I happen to have 6 living swifts (7, including dear husband) ranging in age from 19 months to 14 years. They have young, strong arms, and so far they still think it's fun to hold skeins of yarn for me- even my boys! (Don't tell their friends!)

I'll leave you with some freshly wound Sport Weight... isn't it pretty?

Happy knitting-


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Finished Object and it's Bloomin' Bloomers

Our wee little model today is sporting a fun little femine number. Hot of the needles, she's got on a soft and summery cotton Girl's Sundress, paired with some hot pink bloomers which are sure to be a hit at all the playgrounds this summer.

I modified the sleeves a bit- the pattern simply calls for ribbing, leaving it slightly more tank top-like. I wanted to cover the little shouders that sunburn so easily without having to put a t-shirt under the dress, so I added a bit of a cap sleeve before doing my ribbing.

I've been meaning to get my little girls some bloomers made for quite some time, and as I knew I was wanting to make some pink ones to go with this dress, I figured I might as well do some assembly line sewing, and turn this-

into this-

plus the pink ones she's wearing, and the pink ones her 3 yr old sister is wearing, and the white and ecru pairs for the 3 yr old that didn't make the pic... I think that makes 8 pairs of bloomers for the day. Not bad, considering all of the laundry I'm still trying to catch up on, and the math lessons we still manged to get in, the music practice, and the outside fun-in-the-sun time... teenager and I are slowly gaining some energy back, meanwhile the littles are as eager to jump and swing and sing aloud as ever (wish I could bounce back like that!)

Back to the sundress- I modified the colorwork, basically doing twice as much as the original design. I like colorwork, and I like lots of brights on my little girls, so I just needed more. I encourage you all to get creative with your knitting. I know many of you are (far more creative than me) but there are still a lot of knitters with bottled up creativity out there, and I want to give you permission to let it out. Change things. Make it striped. Make it longer, shorter, wider, more gathered... whatever suits your fancy. Make it yours. Love it. Enjoy it.

Excuse me, I seem to be I'm waxing philosophical. I do that from time to time. Back to the colorwork. A wrong side shot-

This pattern calls for a pretty loose gauge, so I really tried to keep my stranding loose enough to keep the whole thing laying nice and flat and also allow for a little stretching, as this is a pullover, and I don't know about all of your children, but I've had a couple littles (particularly my last two) that simply panic if a pullover is in anyway constricting during the clothing application process...

I think my favorite part of this dress is the contrasting picot edging- love that tidbit of color and girly scalloped line, so cute!

More photo shoot shots-

She was getting distracted...

by kitties! What little girl wouldn't get distracted by kittens?!

And she'd had enough, so I'll leave you with a shot of the back of the dress, and head in to finish watching the end of Pride & Prejudice...
Happy knitting-

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Little Health Drama, Anyone?

None for me, thanks, I've had enough...
As if a week of worry and little-to-no sleep due to a child struggling with asthma and double pneumonia weren't enough, it took most of last week just to get a little energy back, only to be hit late Thursday with a little unintentional detoxing. Um, yeah, this is no little stomach bug, I'm on day 6 and I've hardly eaten more than a couple crackers, and even those caused much pain and distress. Sipping Sprite and Gaterade, yeah, that's painful as well, not to mention the fact that they don't seem to want to stay in my body for any length of time... ugh... this can't be good for a pregnant body. My legs are weak and shaky, which is an improvement on the intense aches and pains of the weekend, it was as though my very bones hurt... (cue sad violin music) sigh...

4 of my 6 children have gotten bit by the bug as well, though thankfully not nearly as bad as me, I guess I'm just lucky this time... There are many joys that come with having a big family- all those pinchable cheeks, more laughs and giggles, hugs and back pats, I could go on and on, but at times like this I am faced with the harsh reality that along with those big family blessings comes the inescapable fact that when a stomach bug hits, there is a lot more puking going on here than in the average American home... oh well, gotta take the bad with the good, right? This too, shall pass...

I've managed to knit precious little- seamed and finished the little Girl's Sundress, another inch on my current sock, and I'm up to the sleeves on an Easy Raglan. I've managed to sew even less, though I am working on a couple cute bags from Bend the Rules Sewing,

and I still have a couple skirts to finish up, and some cute little stuffed balls for baby gifts all cut out and waiting patiently for me to sew and stuff...

Oh, and bloomers, as soon as I get the little pink bloomers made, I'll get some pics of the finished sundress, but first I need to make an earnest effort to do some catching up on all the laundry and dishes that haven't been getting done with all of the sickness going on around here.

More later, happy knitting-

ps- I did manage to drag my shaky self out to Shepherd's Harvest festival on Sunday afternoon, I'll have to post about that asap, along with the story of my dh's thoughful Mother's Day gift... soon... soon...
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