Friday, April 11, 2014

Is it spring yet? Must be!!

It seems that spring has finally sprung in Western Pennsylvania. Or at least, it's trying to spring into being by tossing me a bunch of snow crocuses (no photos--the wind blew them over within hours). And that means I've got outdoor work to get done. First on the agenda was planting the roses that Husbeast gave me for Christmas. I'd been trying for years to find the heavily scented pink rose that we had at our previous house. Having tried numerous times unsuccessfully to start one from a cutting of that old bush, I resorted to finding one to purchase. Edmunds Roses had the perfect plant and another rose that I fell in love with. Into the ground they went yesterday morning, along with their surrounding protective fencing (have I mentioned that the deer around here eat everything, and have a particular fondness for roses and spring bulbs?)

Tough to see in the shadow, but that's a young rose there.

If you have a garden, you know that one thing leads to another. In order to get posts for the rose fences I had to dig out the dead apple tree. But those posts were too tall, so had to swap them out with the peach tree which needed taller posts and a good pruning anyway. So out to the garage to get the ladder, up the ladder to pound in posts and prune branches, then hook the fencing to the posts.

Ta-da! Refenced peach tree!

During that journey I realized that the elderberries (you can see some of them against the blue shed, upper left of the photo) will need their fencing redone because the deer have been pushing at it, trying to bend it inwards so they can get some tasty young elderberry shoots. sigh.....

Then there's the garden to be uncovered. I cover the boxes with black plastic every fall to prevent the many pine needles from falling on the soil and turning into an acidic mix that won't support life. It also helps to warm the soil and the birds just love the water puddles that form all winter--they need fresh water all year and can't get it from snow.

Today it's raining all day so I'm spinning. But tomorrow morning I have plenty to do out in the yard. Oh, and I probably should start those seeds inside if I want tomatoes and green peppers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hot off the presses! Galvanizing Line Sweater pattern

I've been waiting for publication to announce......
My sweater pattern knit from handspun and commercial yarn, and an article on how I spun my blue fiber to the commercial specifications, has been published in Yarnmaker Magazine No. 18.

Since I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Pittsburgher (yes, I meant that pun) and Husbeast is in steel-making, it seemed right to commemorate our heritage by naming the sweater after a steel process. Photos were taken on the south side (pronounced 'souside') of Pittsburgh on the site of the old US Steel mill which is now an upscale shopping/entertainment/sports center. (All photos are copyrighted by K. Krenn)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Just released today, Elizabeth Lovick's patterns developed for a WWI movie being filmed in the UK. I'm in love with Violet's Jacket and have already downloaded a copy from Ravelry. I have some lovely wool/linen blend yarn in a great deep cranberry shade that would be wonderful in this jacket. I just have to dig it out of the stash, make sure it's the right size yarn and that there's enough to complete the jacket. It's not as though I have too few projects on the needles at the moment.....

Because I'm just about ready to release a new hat pattern, done in both crochet and knitting. I'm having the pattern tested this week, but it will take about 200 yards of colorful worsted handspun and another 200 yards of soli-color commercial worsted yarn. I will be making up kits with my handspun so that you can choose the matching solid yarn in the color that works for you. Kits will be available on my website and a local yarn shop as soon as the test hat is finished, the photos redone (sadly, the weather and lighting have been crappy lately), and kits assembled. It looks like there will only be one or two duplicates of each handspun color available so these will be very special hats!

Garden News:
I have defeated the raccoons by bringing in the feeders every night! And the deer seem to have moved on, as they only show up here every two weeks or so. They seem to have a grazing circuit at this time of year. The doe is heavily pregnant and her twins are still hanging around.
I need to get my pepper seeds in their little starters and do a garden plan so I'm sure everything gets enough sunlight and is in a different spot than last year, uncover the boxes so they're ready for compost addition in a week or so, prune the blueberry bushes and remove the straw from the raspberry plants. Not too sure what to do about the elderberry canes, tho. That will require some research as most folks don't grow them--or even know that they CAN grow them in the back yard.
Coming up for sale:
I have an original 8H 48" weaving width Gallinger Loom that I purchased about 10 years ago. It was living in a chicken coop but has been completely cleaned up and oiled. It has metal heddles but I've purchased Texsolv heddles and tie-ups for it. Unfortunately I recently realized that I'm too short or the breast beam is too tall for me to use the loom, so I've decided to pass it on to someone else to enjoy. If you're interested and local, please get in touch. I'd love to see it find another happy home.
And with that, I'm off to the studio to spin!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The 2014 Wildlife War has begun!

As I may have mentioned before, this house was a gentlemens farm 100 years ago. So it's at the end of the road and surrounded by woods. Woods that are full of animals. I remember the foxes going after our chickens when I was little, and we had possum, raccoons,  and a creek full of salamanders, mudpuppies and crayfish. The creek is dried up now, the deer have moved in, and there are many more raccoons, possums and skunks. And they ALL want my vegetables and fruits.

Last year the woodchuck learned to climb our 10 foot fence and decimated the vegetable garden, so we electrified the fence. The squirrels raided the peach tree, taking one (ONE!) bite out of each almost-ripe peach and dropping it on the ground where the deer finished them. We do our best to live peacefully and keep the critters at bay in a humane manner. And that's not always easy. It IS always frustrating to see our hard work destroyed by hungry critters. You'd think they'd be grateful that we let them sleep on the lawn and keep the mortgage paid up for them!

Winter is a nice rest from our Wildlife War. Three nights ago I was served notice that this year's squirmishes have begun. I heard the snarling and saw the evidence. The birdfeeder was empty and covered with dirty pawmarks--raccoons love seeds. The suet feeder was on the porch floor, empty and bent open with the wire closure completely missing--raccoons love seeds buried in animal fat!

This morning the ground is disturbed--skunks like to dine on grubs that hibernate just below the ground surface and the mice that burrow near the bird feeder to nibble stray seeds.

I guess it will soon be time to plant the peas and turn on power to  the fence, bring the feeders and suet inside each night, and buy stovepipe length to slip over the fruit tree trunks so animals can't climb the tree. They are innocent animals, they are cute and furry....but they WILL NOT defeat us! I am marshalling my forces and will win this war!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Finished projects, works in progress, MARDI GRAS 2014!

I've been busy traveling to parts south lately--more on that later.

Recent projects finished:
A handwoven handspun scarf using a gradient dyed top and my rigid heddle loom. Which illustrates that yes, you can weave with handspun singles if you know how it needs to be spun and finished.

And the never-ending socks. The first pair for DS#1....

Second pair for DS#1 in progress....

Second pair for the Lady E....

Last week, I presented a program to our guild on using a blending board to make colored rolags. I had one packet of Flirty rolags left in my stash and took them along. Then I came home, spun them up, washed the yarn and have it sitting around until it tells me what it wants to be.

Last but not least, I'm working on complimentary yarn for a friend in Canada. She purchased my Fairy Garden yarn last year and has found her dream sweater. She needs additional yarn to complete it and, since there is no more of the fiber left for Fairy Garden, I made up some samples for her to swatch and choose. She liked the mocha/begonia/silk blend best and I must say, she has good taste!

Fairy Garden
Caffeinated Fairies
Oh, that little trip down South? DS#2, his lady and I flew to Louisiana to meet up with Husbeast. We've always wanted to do Mardi Gras, but didn't really want to contend with the crowds and parking in New Orleans. So we visited New Orleans on the Friday, drank our fill, saw the sights and blew out of town before the crowds arrived. We went up to Baton Rouge on Saturday for the Spanishtown parade, whose theme was Flamingo Dynasty. For your viewing pleasure....  (photos courtesy of S. Krenn)


Friday, February 21, 2014

Ravellenics progress update

By way of explanation, Ravellenic Games is a little competition on a website for fiber artists and craftspeople (I dislike the term 'crafters' because of the mental image it usually invokes). We challenge ourselves to work on a piece that is a new technique or finish a piece that we have left lying around unfinished or to undo a piece that we hate and reuse that yarn for something new, bright and shiny. We have events like the international Olympics (oops, didn't mean to mention that trademarked word and hopefully won't get a cease-and-desist letter from the US Olympics Committee--Ravelry members will get the meaning of that remark). We choose the events in which we'll compete, such as spinning a fiber that we've not worked with before and entering it in the Flying Camel Spin event. There are also events complimentary to the main events, such as Stash Skeleton, in which I can use yarn or fiber that's been sitting in my stash for 6 months or more. My Flying Camel Spin yarn qualifies for the Stash Skeleton because I've had that white fiber for a couple of years (hey, fiber doesn't go bad like bread and you never know when your furnace will die mid-winter and you'll need wool insulation.....).

I love the winter olympics (if I spell it with a lower case 'c' does that avoid the nasty letter from the USOC?) and spend a good deal of time watching the events and working on projects. I've challenged myself with 5 projects this time and the green kimono mentioned last week was the first completed project. Second up was the acrylic lapghan I was crocheting for Husbeast's home-away-from-home. It took 6 days to finish this thing that I started in 2009 but it's done and will be heading south next week.

Third was the Striped Vest which needed neck, armhole and botton bands knitted on. I'd noticed that the fronts were curling badly, as Stockinette Stitch does, but the designers photo showed flat front edges so I thought the front bands would calm the curling. I should have known better.....

The curl is strong enough that it's overcoming the front, bottom and placket edgings. It was reassigned to the Aerial Unwind event (where we unravel a project that's not working) and is completed. It's now 7 skeins of yarn awaiting a new design.

The fourth project is an ongoing spinning project meant to break up the knitting and crocheting and give my hands a rest. We all know what happens when we perform repetitive tasks for too long and I'd prefer not to have Carpal Tunnel Surgery. This is a handdyed top from Blue Moon Fiberarts in her Prism colorway, not available to the public yet because it was part of the first Rockin' Whorl Club. I'm spinning it thin and plying it with some natural Polwarth. Here's the original dyed top and the singles on bobbins ready to be plied.

Second photo was taken on a cloudy day with little ambient light so the colors aren't as bright as they should be. Sorry about that but I can't control the weather here in Pittsburgh.

The fifth project.....well, I can't talk about that yet as the recipient reads my blog.

During all that knitting, spinning and crocheting I was also working on a magazine submission or two and a couple of new hat patterns. Phew!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Two weeks' worth of work

It's been a busy two weeks, what with Ravellenic Games and doctors appointments. I'm a co-captain of my Ravellenics team so have been scrambling to assist the team and send out the spirit bags. And finish the four projects I've committed to for the competition. This is the first completion, a kimono I started in ....2009? I think? At any rate, I hate sewing up and committed to getting the seams finished for the Games. Done!

And spinning also happened. I'm working on a few patterns and needed to work up the yarn I plan to use for the final sample, which will photographed for the pattern.

The scarf yarn:  

The hat yarn:
And the wool leftovers on the bobbin from a larger project, one plied with a handspun dyed rayon top and a second one plied with a heathered dark brown handspun wool top (that's the yarn in the closeup on the right). I plan to use them together since they complement each other so well, I just don't know what they will become yet.

I'm still working on 1.5 lb. of wool top for the Games, a lapghan I promised my husband several years ago, and a handspun/commercial spun striped vest that I should really finish. These are all Ravellenic Games projects and I have a week to get them all done. It's rather difficult to spin when your favorite skier is barreling down the slalom run at 90 mph, though!