Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Color Starved

Based upon the previous posts that focused on colorful photographs and yarns, you would assume that I knit brightly, or at least a variety of, colored things. You would be wrong. I won't take all the blame though. Here is a quick shot of knitted fabric from my three latest major sweater projects. 

Three neutrals. Two of them (on either side) are labeled "taupe". The middle one is a straightforward "brown". I tried to talk my mother out of the left one, but in the end, she was right. It was the best choice for the yarn she wanted and the use of the bulky coat that may end up covering up many colors of blouses. The middle is the one for me and was intended as a quick, chunky, cropped knit cross-body top, but like all planned quick things, it is still not finished. Nor did it end up the color I wanted, because it needed more yarn than I had in that color and I refused to spend any money on new chunkier yarn. (I'm currently in an anti-chunky yarn phase.) Finally, the one on the right...well it will be perfect. I am committed to making it so. It will be for one of my brothers. He chose the pattern from a line up, color and all, and it will look exactly like this (minus all the mismatched buttons):
Copyright: Creative Knitting magazine, Spruce Cove Pullover by Michael Brian McNorril 
You know, just like all my knitting projects look exactly like the models. (Ha!) Seriously, he will make it look good, regardless. He's blessed that way. (Dang it.)

I'm still working on the yoke, not yet joined for the body.

The yarn is Vanna's Choice (Lion Brand) in Taupe because he needed something that could withstand a man's man single father (ladies, if you pass a brief screening process, I'll give out his phone number) and the washing machine. He chops wood because his main source of home heat is a wood fire place (it's a very nice house, did I mention he's single). He has a nice toddler daughter and wants more (oh, he's single), children, that is. (He's 34 this year and has a very nice paying, steady job with benefits.)

Anyway, it appears I may be suffering from color blindness. Or, I will be if I knit one more sweater out of a neutral color. Most of my projects are chosen and planned as gifts. What is the best color for a gifted garment? A neutral. Mom loves taupey-brown colors (I do, too), but there can only be so much, right? I will work on a Henley sweater for Dad, but he's already picked out a dark brown heather or tweed...still more brown. 

And projects for myself? Well, my wardrobe runs the gamut of black to grey, and purple. Plus a few browns. And some reds. But I don't wear red sweaters. Not Santa-red anyway. In my fashion defense, I do collect colorful scarves.

Let's get to the point. I want to make this next:
Copyright: Lloyd, Lisa. A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns. New York: Potter Craft, 2008. (page 41)
This is Fylingdales by Lisa Lloyd (Ravelry link) and I am in love with it. In fact, I'm in love with her entire book, A Fine Fleece.

I don't have a color chosen yet, but it will not be brown or grey. I promise. Maybe...purple.

P.S. Apologies for all the italics. One of those writing moods, you know?

Another random day

Where did Wednesday come from? All I can figure is that these wild spring winds blew it in ahead of schedule. We had tornado warnings on Monday night during a wonderful thunder and lightning storm, but the Great Dane pups were less than appreciative of the natural beauty. Instead of being able to relax in bed to the sound of the wind in the trees and the rain against the house as I went to sleep with the windows open (we don't consider tornadoes too much of a threat on the mountain, especially since we're in brick with a full basement and within earshot of a township siren, and they are relatively rare in this part of the state)...well, instead of that, I spent most of the night petting and cooing at two 70-pound babies once we convinced them to climb onto Mom's bed. In their mere 5 months of life, this was their first real thunder storm of merit. Lucy, always so sensitive, actually settled down pretty quickly, but I believe Samson was torn between trying to still be dominant "dog-on-guard" and actually admitting fear. It took a while to convince him to relax.

They do look a little sheepish in this pic, don't they? 
In other news, the previous day (Sunday) had been glorious and we had a family picnic. We have a patio gazebo, which we've decorated with seashells, odd finials, bits of granite picked up from when one of my brothers worked for a granite business, and hens & chicks in old tea pots...see:

This was a stroke of genius on Mom's part. The base is for an aquarium, which is being used elsewhere. In an overgrown corner of the property, Mom went granite hunting and found these two perfectly sized pieces to create a sideboard in the outdoor patio area:

We cooked out and ate under the gazebo, where we'd brought my niece's little portable sandbox for shade. Samson was also guarding in the shade:

I actually began a new knitting project that afternoon (my brother's Spruce Cove Pullover designed by Michael Brian McNorill [Ravelry link]) and I'll have pictures to post soon.

Somehow I thought yesterday was Tuesday. I admit that some weeks slip by easily like that, even when I keep myself busy with small tasks or driving around running errands. I don't keep a very busy calendar. In fact, I take joy in keeping my Google Calendar set on a daily activities notification so that I can see this in my Inbox most days: "You have no events scheduled today." That is so refreshing.

Last night, though, I crawled under the covers and decided to check my email, only to find this subject line sticking out like a sore thumb: "Are you feeling stressed, Kristy?" I was really quite creeped out. Of course I'm stressed. It is my natural state of being, like having brown hair or hazel eyes. I almost popped out of bed to check if someone was sending emails from under my bed, like a bad horror movie where the murderer is calling from inside the house. (Don't ask how I was transferring this to emails, but I did.) It was an ad from the Michaels craft store chain for Kinetic Sand. Ugh.

Last week I discovered my first grey hair. Ugh, again.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Find X Designs

I have been remiss in taking this long to post my experiences at the Sanford, NC LYS. We spent Saturday, April 5th at the Carolina FiberFest and noticed the gapping hole left by the absence of the LYS, Find X Designs: Fabric & Yarn (they are also quilting and sewing experts). So, it has taken me almost three weeks to finally get this overdue review of our wonderful visit to their actual shop!

This was actually our second visit to Find X Designs, but the first was almost a year ago when we helped my aunt and her family relocate to Sanford from the mountains. When we came in this time, we were so excited to get to the yarn that we skirted right around the bolts of cloth to duck into the room that had been set aside for yarn and knitting / crochet tools back then...only to find more cloth and quilting samples. We turned in dismay to a cheery voice asking if we needed help finding anything. I hate to admit it, but there may have been tears in my voice when I bleated, "yarn?"

The wonderful saleswoman (and no doubt co-owner) grinned brightly. "Don't worry. We're expanding! All the yarn is going into a building next door."

The yarn has its own digs? Rock on! And she promised a tour, even though the poor skeins were still mostly in boxes, very few on display. First we were given a thorough tour of the quilting and sewing side of the operation, which I found very interesting. I'd love to make some basic skirts and t-shirts and wide-legged pants to make up my total wardrobe forever. One day, perhaps. I'll just add that to my mile-long to-do list. (...flipping pages, scribbling "learn to sew"...there)

The store only sells Pfaff machines (sewing, quilting, embroidery, and overlock) and they have a great selection in store and an online gallery. They also offer free and low-cost classes for all levels, including just meet-and-sews to help encourage young women to continue honing their sewing skills. I think this is absolutely fantastic.

Find X Designs is co-owned by Suzanne and Steve Christopher and you can find out more about the shop here, their About page.

Ah...their yarn expansion! I should have taken pics of the space, but only managed to get pics of our woolly loot.

That modest bun on bottom is 798 yards of heavenly Juniper Moon Farm yarn in "Findley Dappled", 50% Merino and 50% silk. The color is called "Uncial". I looked it up in Maybel's Mac dictionary (it actually includes at least 4 different dictionaries as sources): "uncial" is an adjective: "1) of or written in a majuscule (large) script with rounded unjoined letters that is found in European manuscripts of the 4th–8th centuries and from which modern capital letters are derived. or 2) rare of or relating to an inch or an ounce." Here is the sample script the dictionary gave:

I am so tickled!! A literary yarn! I love fonts. I originally chose it for its grey colors and the whites that wash through here and there, surf breaking over rocks. I intend this yarn for my Estuary wrap. It is a stunning piece of "wet and wild lace" designed by Emily Wessel of TinCanKnits. (And it is free, free, free!) Now I know that the yarn was the perfect selection. 

Mom picked up that wee little bun of funky white cotton/acrylic Katia Temis in "Natural" (137 yards) as an accent for the Flower Child's Sweater she plans to crochet her grandbaby Alex with the similarly textured dark pink cotton she picked up at the fiber fest. 

Mom and I also decided to use the Find X Designs' stock and impressive color palette of Ella Rae Classic solids and heathers (worsted, 100% wool, 219 yards) to begin working on a present for my aunt. At the fiber fest, she and her daughter saw a purse that she fell in love with. Unfortunately, neither my mother or I visited the particular booth with the purse...but I'm relentless. I systematically went through the web sites associated with the vendors listed on the fiber fest site. I found the purse! It was the felted Mayan Purse "You Can Do It!" pattern from (located just over a mountain or two from us, in Black Mountain). After my aunt pointed out how she'd prefer the purse to look and gave desired measurements, we decided that a pattern wouldn't help much. We chose colors based partly on the tiny image we found and her personal preferences. Now I'll create a custom stranded design, keeping some of the elements of the EasyKnits original, but making it unique for her. We chose these colors from the LYS:

The saleswoman also taught me a pretty neat trick for pairing light and dark color tones using a camera's "mono" setting. Once you set the phone's camera setting (she used an Android and my cousin tried it with an iPhone) to mono and then looked at the colored yarns with only the black and white image, it was clear which skeins were significantly lighter values and it was sometimes surprising! She also told me that quilters use a "quilter's ruby" to do the same thing. Here's a cool article on how it works and more about color values (from Martingale Press's technical skills blog, covering everything from quilting to knitting). 

It occurred to me, after all the colors were selected, of course, that the color swatch collage created using PicMonkey might be neat to see. So I used the little purse image and gave it a try. This is what I got: (Kim Green)'s image of her own felted purse sample..
Regardless, we left with bags of yarn and promises to return. I only worked with the Ella Rae a bit to knit a felting sample, but I think it may be my new go-to work-horse 100% wool over Patons or Cascade. Does anyone else have a 100% wool go-to preference? 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I've finally added a new post to the art of seeing blog. The last one was almost a year ago. Check it out. More to come!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ten Random Things...and some color on a rainy day

Knitsofacto is one of my favorite knitting blogs. In her most recent (Sunday 4/20/14) was entitled "Ten Random Things" and invited her readers to also create their own lists of random things to share. So, because I've not felt well enough to actually write much, but have had lots of ideas for blog posts that then end up just sitting in lonesome rooms of my brain, I'm going to take her up on her invitation and create my own random list.

Here's my Ten Random Things:

1. I've been reading the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I highly recommend it for lovers of action, strong female leads, and lots of paranormal characters. There are no wilting violet lovers in these books. In fact, none of the books I've read so far have sex in them. Just good plot, fighting for justice, good vs. evil, and a wonderful non-traditional main character. Love them.

2. Oh, I updated the "About" page on the blog. You can also just click on the link above.

3. I am diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder (more commonly known as manic depression). It sucks. I'm "outing" myself because I'm aware of a stigma against people with mental disorders. I'd like to write a book to help others. One that focuses on research, with only small bits of my own experiences. But I can't even read too much research or even chapter one of a book about another family's experiences without crying and feeling sad and angry. One day, though.

4. I use my Pinterest boards mainly to put images of potential knitting projects all in one place so I can better make a selection without needing to print anything. (Anything that looks like a collection of wedding pics is actually part of an idea dump for a story.)

5. For two days I've listened to a constant whirring noise. My mom has created two brass asymmetrical buttons for the "Touch of Luxe" cardigan by Anna Cohen (Ravelry link here, needs updated pics) that I've knit for her. The buttons are in a tumbler to smoothen edges, hence the constant background noise.

6.  My bedroom is painted purple. A perfect purple. I love purple. Most people would run from purple walls, but this is mellow and plummy and soft.

7. I have collected folk art cat sculptures for years. Mainly small ones. But now I want birds. A collection of folk art bird sculptures. But people keep giving me cats.

8. I want to lose enough weight to run again. I used to love trail running. And running at night in quiet neighborhoods. But there's a major jiggle factor right now. I hear Gorilla tape does wonders.

9. A couple of freezing nights, just before Easter, may have killed our Japanese maple trees. We think we may have missed the first freezing night and only gotten the sheets over them too late to help. Mom and I are very sad and holding our breath to see how the leaves react as the weather warms up.

10. I work on two laptops: a Macbook named Maybel and an Asus Ebook named Elvira.

Remember when I said that Knitsofacto is one of my fav blogs? Here's another project inspired by her blog. I have seen images similar to this elsewhere, but she offered a post with detailed instructions on how to accomplish it. (Her post is The Colour Collaborative: March: Bud.) What is this? It is a picture from which color swatches have been created. This would be useful for selecting faire isle colors or paint for your house. I think it is way super cool. As soon as I saw some of the images that I'd captured of our trip to the beach, I knew I had to try this.

I have so much to learn about color and light. An exercise like this makes it look like I actually have a clue. But it does give me lots of ideas of what to do with them.

P.S. The online photo editor used to create this, PicMonkey, didn't like my Safari 5 (on Maybel the Mac), so I used Chrome.

Monday, April 14, 2014

From the mountains to the sea

...and back again.

We've come home to a rainy, foggy day. And two 65-pound puppies that seem to have gained 5 inches in height in our weeks' absence!

There happened to be a sofa in the way when Samson sat down. 
The rain is making for a dark and drowsy afternoon. The dogs are spending it napping and even went into their kennel corral on their own. As you can see below, they're quickly outgrowing it. In fact, it's really only a technicality as they can both climb right over the back of that chair whenever they wish. (Which is exactly what they did several times while we were gone and my brother and sister-in-law were home with them. They apparently missed us and acted out like brats. To protect the house, we had our welcome home moment last night on the front lawn!) We only use the kennel for bed times and when all humans are gone.

We managed to fit a trip to the beach into our weekend. Wilmington and several beaches on the Outer Banks are about 2 1/2 hours from Sanford. We chose Kure Beach, which is actually the Fort Fisher State Recreational Area. It's one of my favorite areas because of the nearby historic Fort Fisher and the N.C. Aquarium, but the beach itself is perfect. The sand is almost white, it's pet-friendly, there is a regular park ranger presence, plenty of free parking, and it is overall just a very clean, natural beach. It wasn't very crowded, but this weekend marked the very beginning of the season. On the other hand, from my experience, this beach is never as crowded as Wrightsville or Carolina beaches that are further north. Here's a slew of pics:

The beach colors were a beautiful palette. I am pleasantly surprised at how well the beach pictures came out because the sun made the digital view screen on my camera useless. It has been many years since I've used the normal view finder on a camera! Too many years. I need to pull out my old Canon Rebel EOS that takes film. I just don't know what one of a hundred boxes it's hiding in. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Carolina Fiber Fest 2014 Recap

My crew had a great time at the Carolina Fiber Fest. I think my young cousin, who actually just began loom knitting about a year ago, was the biggest yarn purchaser! Or it may just look that way because she fell in love with these big, chunky, funky hand-dyes:

Hand-dyed super bulky wool from Gerschubie Fiber Arts.
Malabrigo Worsted (that's the chunkiest worsted I've ever seen) from the Misty Mountain Farm booth.
Mom picked out this wonderful textured and silky cotton to make Flower Child's Sweater for 3-year-old Alex, my niece:
Inca-Eco Organic Cotton from Galler Yarns in Ecru. We picked this up from the Misty Mountain Farm booth, too.
We actually hit up the Misty Mountain Farm booth more than once. Here are two more treats we picked up there:
The skein on the bottom is a merino superwash sock yarn from Knitting Notions in "Sicily". The one on top was my one pick of the day, Malabrigo sock yarn in "Arbol", also superwash merino.
Mom is planning on crocheting socks with the sock yarn, but has no set plans. It could "speak" to her and demand to be something else, as often happens with yarn. 

On the other hand, I know exactly what my little skein of Arbol Malabrigo Sock will become. I was prepared to look for yarn just for this project (and a few others). The Fall of Leaves shaw by Stephanie Hogendoorn. The Gerschubie Fiber Arts stall actually had this sample hanging:

We also purchased a pattern for this "Thick & Thin" dress designed by Kathy Withers. Mom fell in love with it and asked me to knit it. Now we're on the look out for the perfect yarns.

Remember the pictures in the last post of the Western NC Agricultural arena packed with two levels of fiber vendors? In contrast, there were two buildings about this size at the Carolina Fiber Fest:

But, because of the smaller size, we were able to chat more with folks and participate in demonstrations. Like this weaving loom, one of several, set up by the Triangle Weavers:

I actually tried it out and there's a picture of me doing so, but no one bothered to clue me into my terrible case of bed head hair. In my defense, I do have terrible cowlicks. Besides, it was safer and prettier before I put my hands on it. There was an issue with a shuttle flying about three feet.
Sadly, there were no fleecy animals to pet. As a consolation prize, though, we got to see a Border Collie herding demo! I love Border Collies. In a previous life, in a marriage long, long over and gone, I was mother to two wonder Border Collies. (I lost them in the divorce. I got the cats.) Here are two of the dogs that owner Donald Thomas introduced to us:

If you need Mr. Thomas's collies to help you herd sheep, geese, or cattle, he can be reached at (910) 673-9671 or (he also provides stud services).
Here are silk yarn braids and woven products by Neal Howard of Henceforth Yarns, located in my neck of the woods. She works in Cullowhee, NC, tucked in the mountains of North Carolina. 

Neal Howard, the Weaver's stall.
I fell in love with this treadle spinning wheel, just one of many beautiful ones on sale in The Tail Spinner's stall. 
There was so much texture and color! Fleece braids from Misty Mountain Farm:

Whole fleeces:

There was a station in one corner for custom dying of purchased fleeces. 

Giant balls of dyed top, ready to spin:

Fresh fleeces ready for purchase or judging (not sure which):

We had a great time! We were sad not to see a stall for the LYS, Find X Designs Fabric & Yarn, but we dropped by for a visit later in the week (upcoming post!).  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fiber Fests!!

Fiber Fests are heaven! Actually, I've only been to one, but it was super cool. And I totally plan on making attending fiber and knitting festivals a habit. Mom and I spent hours roaming the vendor stalls, displays of spinning and fiber carding, and the outside barn stalls full of animals at the October 2013 Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center. It was a large event. The main arena at the Ag Center has two levels and both were packed solid with vendor stalls, except for the very center at the lower level, which was reserved for the raw fleeces being judged. 

I have lots of pictures to show, but I don't have the proper attributions to go along with the llama and alpaca breeders or the fiber or equipment makers, unfortunately. I'm going to make a better effort at getting all the details with my pictures at this weekend's fest. That's right! We're in Sanford, NC for the annual Carolina Fiber Fest this weekend! This event will probably be smaller, but just as full of beautiful fiber, animals, and creativity. I am also especially excited about seeing the border collie sheep herding demonstrations. (I once was a border collie mother. I love them.)

So, the following pictures are those I took at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair last October:

Giant balls of fleece bat.

Wee animals made from felted fibers.

Bits of dyed fibers that will be spun as-is or combined into bats for smoother spinning.

This was created totally from felted fiber!

This one, too!

Abstract felted fiber art.

Drop spindles. This is just one way to make string from fibers.

More drop spindles.

She's actually spinning yarn with one type of spinning wheel (with a treadle wheel) straight from that angora rabbit!

Both levels of the arena are packed!

Can you tell I loved the animals?
Mom and I are staying with my aunt and family in their home in Sanford. We arrived late last night. My original plan had been to work my tush off to finish my Moshup cropped cardigan to wear (show off) on Saturday morning at the festival. But, unlike the mountains we left behind us, it is 80 degrees Fahrenheit here. And humid. Even early tomorrow morning should be between the 60s and 70s. Sanford is in the flat, eastern part of the state. I used to live near here (in Chapel Hill and Durham) for about ten years. I should have remembered. Oh well. At least I can relax on getting one more project complete. 

P.S. As we were packing to leave yesterday afternoon, we learned that the mountain just beside ours was on fire. As in, my grandmother stood on her back porch and saw red light during the middle of the day. I'm really hoping it was a "controlled burn". I heard no sirens. But the winds were coming in powerful gusts all week that any burning was risky. Let's pray we still have a home when we head back.