Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sock Slogging Away

Hmmmm, the Summer of Socks is going to get two pair out of me, I think. Other stuff just keeps coming up. But they are two lovely pair which which I am quite content. Lots of other ideas, but must finish these two first. One sock plus 1/3 of one to go. When I look at one of our fellow bloggers and her methodical and creative production. I hang my head in shame. A wee bit anyway.
From the garden, this is one I don't think most people know. Unless they lived in New Orleans, or at least the Deep South! Spider Ginger!!! The most fragant blossom I know. I dug it up with my bare hands to take with me when I left the Crescent City. It decided to bloom about a month earlier than usual, and I'm not sure what to think. The rain? Odd. But may I tell you how heavenly it smells tonight under what appears to be a full moon. Something between ginger, honeysuckle and gardenia with a bit of tuberose thrown in.

And here is my sock progress. Took these photos yesterday since which I have finished the toes and they are waiting to be kitchenered. Wondering if I will have the patience for that at Knit Night? The most beautiful things about these socks in this photo are those little balls of yarn. Nervous as could be to run out and in fact I have a dab of leftovers.
And here is my STR Summer Solstice sock, waiting for a foot and a brother. So you see, although slow, I am slogging away at my projects. Once these darlings are done, I can finish the three pairs which are ever so close, then I get to start something new! What shall it be?These were the sock yarn stash additions from the yarn shop with Jo.
These are two new yarns from Rio de la Plata, quite reasonable and decent yardage.

And here is a skein of Madelaine Tosh. There were at least twenty colors to look over and this one single strand had my name on it.

And here's a close-up of one of my hand dyes from Heritage Ranch. Of course, the photo doesn't do it justice.
Now for fun, here is my Peculiar Aristocratic Title:
My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Noble Excellency Angeluna the Innocent of Herring-le-hole
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
I must admit I had way, way too much fun with this and found these other titles:

Lady Madame Angeluna the Ineffable of Goosnargh on the Carpet
Countess-Palatine Angeluna the Subversive of London by the BowHer Most Serene Highness Lady Angeluna the Fifteenth of Pease Pottage
Reverend Lady Angeluna the Erudite of Lower Slaughter
Her Most Serene Highness Lady Angeluna the Subversive of Molton St Anywhere
Her Noble Excellency Angeluna the Blue of Witchampton Under Buzzard
Now, go get your own!!!

Celtic Memory comes to Texas

What a surprise! Jo of Celtic Memory came to visit! Well actually, after reading here about Heritage Arts at Beaumont Ranch and something about sock dyeing, she decided that's what she wanted for her upcoming birthday. And dear Richard made it all possible. We are talking 4 days warning here, for an international trip. The spontaneity of it all was too fab!
Richard e-mailed that the "bird" had flown, so there was the rush to pick Jo up at the airport. Out into the evening sun and a bit of hot and humid Texas atmosphere soup! She really wanted to meet the Sisters of the Wool in a normal KnitNight at our regular Border's Books, so this was arranged and we went straight from the airport. The Sisters were out in force and delighted to meet Jo.
Show and tell included Micki's gorgeous Print o' the Wave from Eunny Jang. Check out Micki's blog for all the details, but gotta tell you, it's wonderful.
Aisling and the PatternWhisperer were hard at work. In fact, most of the Sisters were there. Please note, Aisling is knitting socks!!! Finally!And BookGrump's babies were much admired. Thanks to sadly blogless KnitTX for these three photos.
Jet-lagged and over-stimulated, we tried to get some sleep, then it was off to Yarns Ewenique to give Jo an idea of our LYS. We did so well there, that we decided to hit Louis Kahn's Kimbell Art Museum, with its special exhibit of The Mirror and the Mask - Portraiture in the Age of Picasso, instead of still more yarn shops. This wonderful exhibition is up through September and I highly recommend it.
Posing in front of the "Wall of Needles" at Yarns Ewenique.
A quick stop at Central Market turned up a lovely Irish lady who lives in the area. She overheard Jo's accent and immediately introduced herself. Within minutes, they were singing "The Spinning Song" and waltzing in the aisles of the market. This photo was taken sureptitiously since an employee had already come up to Jo and told her there was a no photos policy. Not to mention that there was a band out front...a Celtic Rock band called the Killarneys, with bagpipes! Who knew there was so much Irish in Fort Worth?
We toured the Stockyards and downtown, with a stop at the Philip Johnson designed Water Gardens so Jo could tour the fountain used in the last scene of Blade Runner. Then we of course had to be at the bookstore at midnight to get a fresh off the press copy of Harry Potter and see all the craziness that is a HP booklaunch. The next morning, we gathered the PatternWhisperer and were off to the Ranch where Lorelei and Sue had hung banners for Jo's birthday. These two ladies are just a pleasure, Sue is quiet and sweet and Lorelei is a very positive force of nature! The shop has changed since I first went a few years ago. Less normal knitting yarn, and much more spinning and dyeing and weaving. You can buy wheels and looms and all sorts of odd gadgets as well as fiber, dyed and natural, and all the dyes to go with it. Spindles and carding combs and such. If you haven't been, they are well worth the trip. There are classes on spinning and weaving and other fiber arts. Third Saturdays are for spinners just to meet and gossip and share. That was delightful! Everyone is open and helpful. I'm going back to get my spinning mojo working. Nice atmosphere and the spinning room is well air-conditioned. We noticed.
They only do this workshop once a year, but Lorelei offered to do a special dyeing workshop for the Sisters. Are we excited? You betcha. Now the difficulty is finding a Saturday in the next six months which suits us all, easier said than done. We met some spinners who had come in from Waco to dye yarns.
And here are our efforts of the day. It was very hard not to grab another and still another skein just to see what else we could do. Like children with fingerpaints. A quick downpour raised the steam factor several notches, and I must say, we just about melted.
This little fellow saw us off from the ranch. The zedonks and alpacas were in hiding. Too exhausted to go to dinner, we spent a quiet evening knitting, then sent our Irish friend back to Cork. There is nothing more delightful than an Irish lilt and Jo was a joy to have around. A few more days would have been more relaxing, but we did our best. The age of the internet is so read someone's blog from continents away, develop a friendship, then meet as though we had been friends forever. Ain't life just grand??? What's next?

Friday, July 20, 2007

This Little Chickie Needs a Name

Please let me introduce you to my birthday chick. Isn't he/she the cutest thing you ever saw? He is one of BookGrump's babies and I am in love. Now, I just said he, didn't I? Must say, I do think he is a "he". Well...he needs a name. Any ideas are welcome as I just know you are more clever than I. I keep trying to call him Rufus and I'm not sure that's who he wants to be. Grace, I am honored! Thank you.

By the way, check out her blog because Bookgrump is madly working on a pair of Molly Weasley's sleeves. I suppose she must finish them for the booklaunch tonight. Who's gonna be there? I'm taking a surprise guest with me, and that guest is looking a lot like Severus Snape in the costume we are putting together. Stay tuned for a BIG surprise!!!!
Now I promised to show you some of of my "score" from Heritage Arts. I went wild in front of the wall of roving and had to restrain myself by reminding myself that...I don't spin...YET.
Here is Merino in Mojave...

and in Sage... And since I got a spindle from Hokett Would Work, a lovely thing in Yellow Heart wood, slightly heavier and wider and slightly belled underneath, which is supposed to spin longer, I suppose I'm committed. Well, we shall see once I get it spinning, shan't we. Lorelei, the fabulous, showed us how to activate the spindle by placing it between our feet and kicking one foot back. Sure worked for her, but I'm hoping I don't unbalance and break my neck while I'm at it.
And this was an interesting bunch of Texas natural spun yarn. Got a nice big bundle as a birthday present for a special friend. There will be a reveal on this in the next few days, but here is a hint.....

You will have to tune back in to see what this HUGE surprise is all about!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A ranching we will go, a ranching we will go...with yarn content

Up for adventure on a Saturday afternoon, the Pattern Whisperer and I headed off for the backroads and a ranch about an hour south of town. Once off the highway, we wandered down farm roads like this, under a brooding sky...
past a little church...
down a dusty street...and ended up in front of this shop...through the screen door and into this... Walls and walls of colorful cones of various yarns, past a display of cones and cones of Zephyr, tripping over looms and wheels and various spinnerly, weaverly goodies. This, fiber friends, is Heritage Arts on the Beaumont Ranch, run by dear Sue, who ducked out of the pictures, and dynamite Lorelei, a German married to a Sicilian and somehow planted in the backwoods of Texas.
This is barefoot Lorelei, modeling some roving...
and this is Lorelei doing her Princess Leia imitation with linen roving waiting to be spun. One inquiry about spinning and Lorelei hopped up grabbing spindles and roving and quickly answered some of my burning questions about the art. Easy peasy! If peasants in the Himalayas can spin while walking down Mount Everest, then why can't I?
And then I stopped dead in front of this display. Well, to be honest, this is the display after we raided it. And this was only one of many clusters and bags and boxes of various goodies. There was buffalo and possum and cashmere and silk and merino and alpaca and cotton and mixed fiber and even a bag of perfectly nasty feeling nylon to be spun in with the merino or whatever for stronger socks. Fleeces and pencil rovings and carded bats. From the full of lanolin to the most beautifully prepared.
This fellow observed it all. Lorelei said she had two old goats and one of them was her husband! Now Lorelei claims she doesn't really knit, and though Sue seems to keep a pair of socks on the needle, her passions are elsewhere, so all of our ravings were met with tolerant smiles. But humor us they did. They are weavers and spinners and braiders and Civil War re-enactors. They actually have a workshop coming up where for two or three solid days, they will prepare Civil War costumes from scratch. I suppose that includes dyeing and spinning and cutting and sewing. They say it is great fun, everyone is welcome, and there is even a cot or two somewhere for those that need a bit of shut-eye. This place is crammed with goodies, it is tiny, but that doesn't seem to slow them down.
Last time I visited them, I so extased over this lovely ferny plant that Lorelei gave me some seeds, which I took home to plant and every single one germinated and grew to about 20 feet tall. These are Cypress Vines, feathery but hardy. This time she had a bag of white, red and pink seeds ready and waiting for me when I walked in the door.
Another view, OK, so I love this plant.
And this is how they light the place up at night...
and this was a lovely old typical house that had been transplanted to the property. Love the roofline and the porches.
Notice anything strange about this horse, mule, animal? Can you see the seemingly painted eyelashes in this small photo?
And does this one remind you of something?
Well here's the daddy! Not exactly what you would expect on a ranch in Texas, and the two offspring above are zebra/donkeys called Zedonks, oh you of curious minds. There were alpacas, too, but for some reason none of their photos came out. The Beaumont Ranch is outside of this little town of Grandview, as you can see, 11 miles from MayPearl and 22 from Waxahachie.
And we ate tacos here at La Campasina, the only eatery in town and quite good if not fancy. We pulled out our knitting at the table and everyone in the restaurant had to come see what we were doing. The mother/cook was quite cross-eyed and spoke no English, but she loved what we were doing, especially when I showed off my birthday chick, who is waiting for a name. He/she (not decided yet) was a huge success.
Pattern Whisperer made for a great companion and partner in crime. Since we both bought new spindles and roving, I can see we are committed to mastering this spinning thing. I scored a KniddyKnoddy, the last one, a magazine on turning my roving into sock yarn, and various other treasures. Since I got home so late, I had no good light for photos. So with the next post, you will see the newest goodies. It was so fun, I shall not wait so long for my next trip back. They have a spinning/gossip day once a month, and sock yarn dyeing happens there, too. I'm going!

Monday, July 9, 2007

How exciting is this?

We all love getting surprise packages in the mail. Can you imagine my delight in opening these two.
These beautiful fat balls of silk/cashmere and merino/alpaca came all the way from the Emerald Isle and our friend Jo. They are to be dyed (by the person who has never dyed anything, at least since the tie dye experiments of my childhood). They had some lovely little carved wooden symbol thingies wound in, which I forgot to photograph. One is a tiny serpent to represent the House of Slitherin (which Jo and I feel has been overly maligned, there must be some brilliant and not too evil wizards there), another is a Celtic spiral to represent infinity.
And then there was a box of squishy, glowing goodness from Vermont from K and W. This is from Coppermoose and the Cinnamon one is Silk Tussah while the silver is Alpaca. Coppermoose has some lovely multi-color spindles that look tempting.

What these say is that my friends have much faith in my untested abilities to spin and dye. I shall be working on that spindle this week, having found a lovely little book by Priscilla Gibson Roberts called Spinning in the Old Way, a rave on the virtues of top whorl spindling, which she claims is as fast and more controllable than a wheel, and much more portable.
Since my knitting lately is just more of the same (sock one in Sock Hop is at the toe, sock two started, STR Solstice Slip is getting a heel on sock one) I shall fill in with some photos of one of my assistants, in knitting as well as the office. Here is Paprikas, AKA Poppy, as a most adorable kitten. This photo is "Where is Waldo Poppy? She seems to think she would pass for a routing book. She was there for hours before I saw her. And this is quite a high shelf, which you can't tell from the photo.
And here is Poppy warming the files, a very important job.
And here she has managed to file herself. Barely saw her this time before closing her up in the file drawer for the week-end. Since Persians don't make noises, I suppose I would not have found her until the next time I opened the file drawer. These are not unusual places to find this young lady, she wants so badly to be in the fat middle of everything. Her new trick is draping herself in front of the monitor with her fat paws laid over the keyboard, so that every time I try to see the screen, I see her tail instead.

Who is going to the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter film? ME!!! I tried to tempt some of my Sisters of the Wool, since opening night is knitting night, but I don't think anyone bit. My oldest son and I did it last time and had a blast, there is just something so delicious about catching a midnight premiere. Though we barely got in and they were showing it in every theater in the cineplex, like on ten screens. It was that full! Evidently they are showing it at the Omni theater, on that huge surround screen. That would make for some wild visuals. Might try that. As one of the Sisters said, can you imagine Quidditch in the round? Better catch an extra hour of sleep the night before.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Mystery

First let me show you progress on the Sock Hop Sock as of July 4. May I say, I LOVE this yarn and am quite fond of this sock. It's all coming along quite nicely, and if you will notice the little ball of yarn posing under the heel, I may even be able to finish this sock without supplemental yarn! Keep your fingers crossed.
Now, for the mystery. I saw a query on Tsocktsarina's blog about this lovely yarn which Lisa had been gifted but had no clue what it was. Go over there to check out the beginning of the story, and follow it through several other posts for all the suppositions and guesses as to what it might be. Lisa posted it to Knitter's Review hoping someone would know it, but no real luck, although a few false leads. Nancy Drew here looked at it, thought a bit, and went stash diving.
And found this...

Last year, Susan of the Sisters of the Wool and I, also of the Sisters of course, made a field trip to check out a funky little yarn shop in Aledo, a tiny country town near here, that was closing its doors. Susan knows my love of Noro, and almost immediately, pitched a skein of this stuff over to me which I clutched to my breast as I searched for its sisters. It was the only Noro yarn in the shop. The owner was not there to ask questions. So I just bought all they had of it, figuring I would certainly find a use for it eventually. I scoured the web hoping to find more of the stuff, but there was nowhere any mention ever of Hisui by Noro.

Well, this looked just like the yarn the Tsarina was trying to identify, so in several conversations, we decided this was it!!! First mystery solved.The Tsok Tsarina even knitted up a swatch to see what it would do and it is pretty amazing, don't you think?

So now, the real mystery is...what will we do with it??? I'm going to watch the Tsarina to see what she comes up with. She is so clever. I'm liking the simple slightly lacy slipped stitch she has going on in this swatch, so we shall see. Stay tuned.

Still raining daily here, all the flowers that were planted for the hot summer have shriveled and given up the ghost. No zinnias for my garden this year. The lantana and hibiscus look sad. The roses are rotting with black mold. And even my standard cypress vines and herbs look pretty miserable. This can't continue, right? July in Texas, with temperatures in the low 80s and daily rain for months??? My phone lines are all waterlogged, making communication difficult and home officing a nightmare. People leave messages and I can't even tell who it is from the scratchiness in the lines. At least the lakes are full now, after years of running low and water rationing. The farmers are now worrying about waterlogged cotton and crops, instead of looking to the heavens and wondering if it would ever rain. One thing we have always been able to predict were hot, dry Julys and Augusts. Not this year.