Friday, March 18, 2011

A Blog I'd Like to Share...

I try almost every day to check out my favorite blog, Fiber Arts hosted by the Albany Times Union which is the Capital Region's local newspaper in my home state of New York.  I grew up in Troy, NY, right outside of Albany.  And I try almost every morning to pop over to the blog to read what's happening in the region in regards to the fiber community, which I've become increasingly interested in these last few years. 

Today's post was as informative as always, but the closing of the post today caught my attention:
From the Fiber Arts Blog - This Just In... March 18, 2011 by Ellen R. Margulies:  I’ll close today’s post with a lovely story from Lisa B. Adams. I found Lisa’s blog through Twitter (more about that next week) and her posts about her battle with cancer, her family life and dealing with loss and grief are powerful and so well written.
This week Lisa’s post about her mom and daughter knitting, obviously struck a chord with me. I’m sure it will with you too. Please go here and enjoy.
The mention of Lisa's posting of her battle with cancer definitely struck a chord with me and so I clicked the link to read the most poignant story I've read in a long time, it brought tears to my eyes and a flood of memories of my Dad who I lost to respiratory failure in September 2007 from a malignant tumor in his throat. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to deal with this crippling disease I only know what it was like to watch someone I loved who was the strongest person in my life be brought down by it.

My Uncle Charles (left) and my Dad (right) - December 2006
Reading about her mom and daughter knitting together, made me think of all the things my Dad and I did together as well as the time he spent with my son, Aiden.  He was "Poppa" to Aiden and they were very close, even with 3,000 miles between us, they talked on the phone often and whenever he came for a visit during the summers they would sneak off together and do "guy stuff".  I know Aiden misses him, but hope that many wonderful memories of the times they had together will bring him joy and peace when he thinks of his Poppa. 

Aiden was twelve when Poppa went into the hospital that final time.  We flew out immediately when we got the call.  And the six and half hour voyage was the most intense time in my life.  I didn't know what I would find at the end of it and I was really surprised to see my bigger than life Dad lying so still in his hospital bed hooked to a breathing machine.  He had to be given doses of morphine for the pain at regular intervals and it saddened me to know that he was losing his battle to this disease and he had called all his children to his bed to say 'good-bye'. 

I regret that I didn't allow Aiden to see him in his last days, I thought he was too young and I feared that what he saw in that hospital bed would be the only thing he remembered about his Poppa.  But at twelve years old my son was braver than I gave him credit for.  He told me on the plane ride home that he understood what was happening to Poppa and that he just wanted to say good-bye in his own way. I'm sorry I never gave him that chance, but I'm glad he was there to meet all those who knew his Poppa and hear all the stories of the man he was.  Aiden was my rock all throughout the funeral and he made me so proud when he looked out for his younger cousins who didn't understand what was going on.

We talk often of the adventures we had with Poppa, including the 3,000 mile trek across the northern part of the US from New York to Washington, about the stops we made along the way, all the unusual and beautiful sites we encountered.  How at six years old he got to sit in the front seat of Poppa's F150 truck and talk about the things that interested him and how Poppa listened intently to what he had to say.

Aiden & Dad Summer 2003 - First visit home (Troy, NY)
after moving to Washington in 2001
I know the Summer of 2003 will always be a memorable summer for Aiden.  I flew him out to New York to spend six-weeks with Uncle Scotty and Poppa.  Aiden had a blast, he went to visit his cousins in Maryland and Virginia, hung out with his older cousin Tent who lived downstairs from Poppa.  Poppa took him fishing and even bought him a brand new bike to ride to keep him from getting bored on his visit. And at the end of the summer Poppa flew him back to Washington, because I couldn't afford to fly back to NY to bring Aiden home, and Dad didn't like the idea of Aiden flying alone on the way back.

These memories are what bring me happiness and smiles in those dark moments when I realize I can't pick up the phone and call Dad just to tell him the latest news in Aiden's sports exploits or just to chat about what's happening in my life or what's going on in his life.  I miss him dearly and we should all cherish the moments we have with the ones we love.  In closing, I'd like anyone and everyone who is dealing with loss and/or grief to check out Lisa B. Adam's blog - she not only talks about her battle with cancer, but she talks about the changes you go through in life when you're dealing with grief and/or loss or fighting a debilitating disease, she talks about life, love, family and hope.

In loving memory of Lester Tucker
June 12, 1942 - September 4, 2007

Monday, March 14, 2011

A spinning we will go, a spinning we will go, hi-ho, the derry-o, a spinning we will go!

I'm excited to announce that I am taking up a new adventure in my love of yarn.  I now will be trying to spin my own! It's all so fascinating.  I watched a few individuals from my knitting group spinning on their beautiful wheels and I got the notion that this is something I want to do too!  So I went to Weaving Works in Seattle on Friday (March 11) and I tried out a wheel and guess what? I bought it! Yep, right then and there! The spinning bug has bitten and I'm loving it.

My new Lendrum Spinning Wheel
Side View
Front View
As soon as I got my wheel home, I put it together and began spinning. I really like the compact design and the fact that it folds down so I can put it under my bed out of the way. It was really simple to put together, attach the wheel to the base with a screw then you just pop the mother-of-all that had the flyer already attached on to the top of the wheel (depending on how tall you are and the height of your chair, you can adjust the height of the mother of all - how cool is that?), and finally put the drive band and tension band on and it was ready to go!

At first I intended to get a single treadle (one-peddle) design, but after trying out the double-treadle, I knew I had to have it.  Apparently, I'm not that coordinated to pedal with one foot while trying to draft the fiber. At first all I was doing was watching my feet - how funny is that?  And of course by not paying attention to the lead or my drafting, I was pinching and holding the lead to tightly which then caused my yarn to be overspun and it knotted up on the bobbin.

The best part is this wheel spins so smoothly and once I can figure out the right bobbin tension my yarn will come out a little better. Because as you can see my first attempts at spinning are not pretty but I really enjoyed the process of spinning it myself.  I plied one cake of three-ply and a small cake of two-ply:
Two-ply on the left, three-ply on the right
On the left: two-ply, three ply on the right
I was so excited about spinning that I was on my wheel from about four o'clock Friday afternoon until midnight.  I would have kept at it, but I ran out of fiber and had to go out and get more on Saturday.  By Saturday, I was getting better at drafting and not holding the lead too tightly causing the overspinning.

Wheel came with a 3-bobbin Lazy Kate
(Purple-dyed corriedale - 2nd attempt at spinning)
Weaving Works threw in a bottle of spinning wheel oil
free fiber, & a WPI tool with the purchase of my wheel
By late in the evening on Saturday, I had almost two bobbins full with purple dyed corriedale and will probably make a two-ply cake, but I also realized that my thighs were getting quite a workout and decided to give it a rest around ten o'clock that night. Because I hadn't worked those muscles in quite some time, I was pretty sore the next morning!
Second bobbin with spun yarn
So on Sunday, instead of spinning I decided to finish the project that I have been working on for my grandniece who is due in May.  I finished her Garden Trellis Dress, paired it with a pair of  Baby Janes and finished the outfit with a Feather and Fan Bonnet - which coordinated with the dress perfectly (the bottom of the dress has the feather & fan design). I embellished each with the cutest purple crochet butterflies by Crocheted Sass.

To all the spinners out there, got any tips or tricks for a newbie?  I'm looking forward to getting proficient at my new adventure and hearing from all of you expert spinners out there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Designer T-shirt for Knitters - "I Knit So I Don't Kill People"

So my new specially designed t-shirt for knitters is now available in my Etsy shop.  Here is a sample of the desgn...

I give all the credit to the designer Chuck Uhl...he did a fabulous job on it.  He had me knit up swatches so that he could scan them to see what would work for the letters.  It looks like the letters are done in the stockinette stitch swatch I provided.  I think it is totally cool.

I wore the prototype of this t-shirt to the Madrona Fiber Arts Open Market and I had a lot of compliments on it.  As you can see the font type changed and Chuck added a bit more blood, than what was on the original, but overall it looks great!

Me wearing the prototype to work on casual Friday.
My co-workers got a kick out of it!

So drop me a comment and tell me what you think and who you would get one of these t-shirts for?  Would you buy it for a friend or keep it for yourself?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Babies Are Coming!

It seems a new wave of babies are making or have made their way into the Clan.  The next generation is on it's way. My nephew who was born when I was 15 years old is now having a baby with his girlfriend.  My son's twenty-three year old half sister who was about six when my son was born is due in June. My cousin's son just had his third child and my other cousin's daughter who was born when I was a senior in high school had a little boy about three months ago. Whew...the babies are coming! I'm very excited about the new arrivals, but it only points out one thing that I'm just beginning to pay more attention to these last few years...I'm getting old(er), because I can remember when each one of them was born and now they are having babies of their own!

But the fun part about babies that aren't yours is you can hold them, spoil them as much as you like and then hand them back to their parents!  The other fun part about babies is all the great baby knitting I can do in half the time it takes to make an adult size item.

Like these great baby sets I've done over the past month:

For my cousin's baby who was born in January
Sweater: "Sock" It to Me (for Girls) by Vicki K. Byram
Booties: Baby Janes by Valerie Johnson
Hat: Eyelet Baby Hat by Brigitte Lang
As soon as I saw this color I knew I had to use it for what I call the Georgia Peach Baby Set for my new baby cousin who lives in Locust Grove, Georgia. I finished the baby booties and hat this past weekend and I was so happy to mail them off to my cousin and his wife just yesterday.

Aren't these Baby Janes the cutest?
With this eyelet hat to match!

For my girlfriend's baby due next week.
Sweater: Beautiful Baby Bamboo-Merino Sweater by Carol J. Sorsdahl
Booties: Baby's Wool-Tencel Booties by Lind Burt
Hat: Baby Squash Hat by Tamara Del Sonno
This one I call the Little Boy Blue baby set. I made this for my friend who is due any day now.  I can't wait to see her little one wrapped up in this set.

too cute!
so tiny!

Currently, I'm working on the Garden Trellis Dress by Susan Boye for my nephew's baby due in May.  I am using Berocco Weekend in Vanilla 5902.  It is a soft comfortable machine washable blend of 25% Peruvian Cotton and 25% Acrylic that is great for both warm and cool weather.

The feather & fan edge gives it a sweet look.
When I am done with the dress I will be adding a Feather and Fan Baby Bonnet by Sandy Davis that uses the same pattern as the edging on the dress and Page 81 booties (pictured below) by Susan B. Anderson
another pair of Baby Janes by Valerie Johnson.

I embellished them with crochet butterflies by Crocheted Sass
Still to come are a zip-up hooded sweater for another cousin's baby who was born about three months ago and for my son's half sister the Precious Bundle Set (pictured below) in a mercerized cotton called Reynolds Saucy

Can be found on e-Patternscentral

Will make the above hat, cardigan and booties set for my
son's half sister who is due in June

P.S.  I just finished the Garden Trellis Dress this evening:

My little grandniece will be styling in her baby sundress!

The complete set:

Embellished with purple crochet butterflies