Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Aftermath

We have survived another yet another Christmas. All the cookies that were going to be baked, were. The roast beast came out just perfect (thanks to Paula Deen). Presents even got wrapped. Bubba is quite ready to help unwrap.

We have even done the mad dash for the sale gift wrap/tags/bows event for this year. Every few years, we do this to pad out the selection for the following year. I think we're good for 2, 3, maybe even 4 years. In our defense, we did get some storage boxes as it is, once again, time to review the stash (fiber & yarn). I had a few accidents at yarn/fiber shop closing sales. I know, it's sad that they are closing, but at least I'll have some memories.

The kitties are fond of their new toy: a cardboard lounger that can be sprinkled with catnip (thanks for the tip, Crazy Aunt Purl). Both cats are furry little junkies when it comes to the 'nip. Trouble is not sharing. Yes, there have been cat-spats over ownership.

All knitting was finished when it needed to be. These are mittens for the small neighbors. They didn't need to be done before Christmas. I knitted up a pair of fingerless mitts for Mom (I did get the hint!), but the card that was in the camera at the time appears to have gone south. Oh well, it happens to us all. Luckily, I had just transferred pics to the computer, so I think that may be the only one that I don't have.

The kitties were extremely helpful when it came to decorating. This is Trouble trying to be subtle about snatching a bow. Her brother, Bubba, had previously decided that there were some issues on ornament placement and removed two (but only two) ornaments off the tree. I guess they were in his way.

You know how, every Christmas, there's that one present that's a hit? Well, this year, my aunt gave DH a small flashlight/laser pointer. The cats go crazy chasing the pointer light (yes, we're quite careful about their eyes). Even the dog will chase the foolish thing. See the little red spot? The cats have been known to get brave enough to pounce on the dog to get at the light.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I'm Back...

Time just flies by when you're having fun, doesn't it? Earlier this month, I took a civil service exam for my new job and I'm pretty sure that I did well. All that studying sure took a big chunk of time away from blogging, knitting and spinning. I feel like I can settle in more permanently at work now.

Uncharacteristically, I chose to limit the holiday knitting and baking, so I've actually been successful on both fronts. Gifts for one SIL/BIL have already been knitted and shipped. A hat for a grab bag gift for my spinning group is done, a pair of mitts for my other SIL is done and a scarf for my aunt is also done. Not only done, but wrapped, packed and ready to be dropped off at the Post Office in the morning.

This year, I decided to make apple pies for the "friends & neighbor gifts". Sounds daunting, but in my youth, 4-H used to sponsor an apple pie contest which required participants to be able to make a pie in 30 minutes or less. Believe you me, all that practice has finally paid off. Last Sunday, 9 pies were created & baked in an afternoon. I have a few more to do, but I ran out of apples.

Only one batch of cookies have been made (and some stashed for munching on Christmas), but there is likely to be much time available for that sort of thing this weekend. The weather folk are saying that we are in for it...16 to 20 inches of snow on Sunday with high winds to go with.

Luckily, the previously mentioned blizzard isn't supposed to start until Saturday night. Our spinning guild is having our annual fiber gift exchange tomorrow and that is something I don't want to miss! My contribution is wool (out of the stash, maybe merino), dyed in Christmas colors and just a bit of glitz.

Speaking of stash...getting at that white wool created involved a bit of stash tossing. I'm actually kind of impressed that I can get all that into one closet. OK, so there's a bit of a heap in the corner of the dining room, but I can deal with that after the holidays, right?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Another year has passed and it's time, once again, to do battle in our own personal "Kitchen Stadium". OK, it's really not that dramatic. I've cut down a lot as far as cooking huge amounts of food and desserts for the feast day and what I do do is very easy.

I am, however, going to smoke a turkey again this year. I'm all set, the smoker has been moved to the porch, the turkey is soaking in brine and the chips are soaking in water. Normally, we would keep the smoker on the patio, but it's raining and that is supposed to change to snow. Around midnight-ish, I'll set it up and plug it in.

Christmas knitting is actually going reasonably well. A scarf for my BIL and a hat for SIL are done (and even shipped off today). Another hat for a gift exchange with my spinning group is done, and I've started a pair of fingerless mitts for my other SIL. Other knitting intentions are a shawlette or scarf for my aunt, yet another hat for DD and something for my Mom. Mom, not only am I not mentioning what may be knitted for you, but I'm not even sure what it might be yet! Suggestions are welcome.

Behold, the hat. This is our Yarn Harlot's Unoriginal Hat, or more accurately, two of them. The white is wool/angora, the red is alpaca/silk. I am not a particularly fast knitter and even I can knit one in an evening.

Among the usual things we give thanks for on this holiday (like family, friends, etc.), I'm thanking Stephanie for taking a whole bunch of Christmas knitting pressure off my plate!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stash Enhancement

It must of been something in the air. The cooler (finally), more autumn-like air, the last of the leaves turning, even a few snow flurries about, I'm not sure sure. I was really quite a good girl at our Fiber Fest in September and really didn't come home with much.

This last weekend, I fell off the wagon, badly. First I went to my friend, Joan's, sale at her shop, Cloverleaf Farms. She's moving, so she put everything on sale at 20% off. Before I knew it, I had some hand-dyed BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester) and some Wensleydale. Also some wonderful "bits" from her mixed bin. Some merino/silk blend in a nifty green colorway. Bubba reviews and approves of my choices.

I'm very happy for Joan. She made it to retirement from of our area's employers (no mean feat, that!) and is moving to the Asheville, NC area. I'm also a bit sad, as she won't be down the street for me to visit (and get a colorful fiber fix) at a moment's notice. I'm going to miss her, a lot, but I do see a road trip in the future.

Next I was off to another friend's place, Wild Iris Alpacas. He is also planning on moving, so other fine goodies leaped into my hands. 14 balls of alpaca/silk blend in colors that I just love and a pound of washed Corriedale. Yep, it is every bit as white, shiny and crimpy as the picture shows.

Ray, however, may be moving closer to me...perhaps he ought to check out Joan's house?

I want to drop what I'm spinning immediately. Which is a really lovely, hand-dyed blue superwash from High Bid Farms...yet another friend...I am so lucky!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Furnace Game

The Yarn Harlot has already written a few times about the Furnace Wars that her family participates in (some of them unwillingly, I'm sure).

We have our own, much milder version, called the Furnace Game, in which we see just how long it is until the furnace comes on. This does not count the once yearly operation check to make sure that it is, indeed, working. You see, we generally heat with wood and the furnace is merely a backup system. We have completed two full heating seasons without having it come on at all. Most years we make it until around the end of January or so before it is just so cold outside that the furnace kicks on a few times overnight. We have heated with wood for so long that we almost sleepwalk to the stove, add a chunk of wood and toddle back to bed without completely waking up.

Due to the freakishly warm autumn season this year, we have not even had a fire in the wood stove until tonight. I will admit that it's been a wee bit chilly a time or two, but nothing some wool couldn't fix.

I'm pretty sure that Bubba is thinking "It's about time! I don't know why you non-furry folk didn't do this sooner, like weeks ago."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Neighborhood Critters

We finally had our first frost of the year yesterday morning; it is quite late this year. Just that bit of frost finally made it feel much more seasonable and fall-like. Last year, we had already had a fair bit of snow by this time.

There is much wildlife around here and we have gotten used to most of them. Some are really nice looking, like deer. Some are just stinky, like skunk. Some are a little worry-some, like coyote and fox. Some are more worry-some, like cougars (which, thankfully, we haven't heard about lately). The latest beast to wander into the area is black bear. There have been numerous sitings in the area all summer, but now one was reported hit by a car just a mile and a half away. It seems they are tough: the bear walked away, the car was towed. I wonder just what our Gypsy was barking at a bit ago? Deer? or something bigger?

Then again, perhaps it was something that looked more like this: the bat-cat!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Our unseasonable stretch of warm weather continues. Today was 80F. This is not usual around here. More usual is what happened last year (Friday the 13th). It seems odd to be knitting outside in the warm sunshine.

Last month was our Finger Lakes Fiber Festival and I realized that I forgot to show my stash enhancement from that weekend. I'm quite surprised at my restraint. The gray and red yarn is Jamieson's, there is Noro and all were a steal at $2 each. Quite some time ago, I had seen these clear boots and thought they were just neat (however, a bit pricey), another steal at $9. The green yarn is hand-dyed and for a special project. The vest/sweater pattern, called Raveneli, looks like a really good pattern to use with handspun (check out their cursor on the home page). I also picked up half a pound of Navajo-Churro roving. Every year, I get something that I haven't spun before.

I am still completely in love with Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. So far, I've completed one pair of Ocean Toes socks and was so impressed with the fit, that I immediately cast on another pair from the book: Fountain Foxgloves. This is the first pair of toe up socks that I have been completely satisfied with the fit.

I am a haphazard housekeeper. I can always come up with something else to do that is ever so much more interesting to do. I think it's because of things like this. Even when I do try, things like this happen.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Columbus Day

Today was Columbus Day here in in the States. For the first time since grade school, I had the day off (another distinct advantage of working for a school district).

I must say that I had a pretty good day. Since it is still uncharacteristically warm around here (I think it topped out around 85F or so today), I gave our dog a bath and aired out a wool blanket (for use when cold weather does return). Deciding that was enough work for a holiday, I spent a good portion of the day here:

I made myself some iced coffee and settled down to knit my first pair of socks from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters-Book One. Cat's mind works in many wonderous ways and this is another winner of a book as far as I'm concerned. I was quite skeptical that the new construction method would fit well, but went ahead and started Ocean Toes. I have one sock done and it fits fabulously well. I'm up to turning the heel on the second sock. In fact, it fits so well, that my next pair is going to be one of the toe-up designs. I hope that they fit as well, as I have not been impressed with the way the standard toe-up socks fit my feet.

As mentioned above, the weather has been unusually warm and summer-like in our region. This Saturday Sky picture looks more like summer to me, rather than the first week of October.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Night Sky

Gypsy here...Mommy left the 'puter where I can reach.

Me likes to play in the dark. There be lots of good smells and sounds at night.

Sometimes my people burn stuff. They call it cleaning up. I don't get it.

This time they had treats. Those I get.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2007 Finger Lakes Fiber Fest

Last weekend was our 13th Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. Saturday was a classic fall day: blustery, cold, windy and rainy at times. We were all quite happy to see the sun come up in a clear, blue sky on Sunday.

As usual, it was fun, terrific shopping and more hectic than usual as it was the first year that I coordinated the Skein & Garment Competition. Of course, I was a bad blogger and forgot all about taking a picture of the display.

I did, however, remember that I had a camera and took pictures of a few other things. The world's largest sock came to visit. That's me in the middle. I had heard of this project from Jane at Quiddity. It's getting larger and I am wondering quite how they're going to manage turning the heel.

I didn't take any pictures of prepared fiber, but opted out for the original packaging. This is one of my friend's Shetland sheep taken Sunday afternoon. I believe that sheep has had enough of camping and wants to go home.

Alpacas are just plain adorable. The one on the right must of had a bit of an itchy spot (not to mention a bumper sticker).

The llama at the top was quite sure that none of us were to be trusted and should all be watched very carefully! He's probably right.

Of course, what festival is complete without at least a little junk food? Funnel cake and Diet Coke (it evens out).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival

The waiting is over! This weekend, September 15-16, is our annual Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival.

If it's not too cold at night, I'll be staying the whole weekend.

Do come out and play!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Busy Gypsy

Mommy in shower, so me took 'puter. Daddy ride big toy and it fun. Me play in dirt, help dig, watch Daddy, sniff smells, dig more, bite rocks, kiss Daddy, sniff more, play more, dig more, watch more...

Me happy.

Sleepy girl. Go bed now.

PS: Bear, wish you could come play with us!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Reality Shows

Quite some time ago, Lene asked me if I watched any of the reality shows that are cropping up all over TV. I said that I didn't and really had no interest in them, either.

However, as time goes by, I have changed my mind, a bit, and do watch a few of them. Here are my most-often watched:

Design Star on HGTV: I rather like a show that insists on some kind of talent that the competitor's have skill in. This season's show had an assortment of interesting characters, all of which were talented designers. They're down to selecting the winner this coming Sunday evening.

Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel: What's not to love about this one? These guys are modern day cowboys (and probably certifiably nuts). Every winter, when the ice gets thick enough north of Yellowknife (Northwest Territories, Canada), a road is built across numerous frozen lakes to move cargo/supplies to isolated mines. This one's all over for the season except for the reruns.

And last, but not least, Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge on CMT: I really, really like rodeo. One of my favorite things to do is to watch rodeo (in person, upwind to stay out of the dust). There is no "probably nuts" about these guys, they are definitely insane. They have collected an assortment of celebrities who learn to ride a bull. Friday night is the last show. Sigh.

Honorable mention actually goes to Dallas Cheerleaders, Making the Team, also on CMT. I really don't know why I get sucked into this one. I never had any interest in cheerleading and was definitely not part of the sports-inclined group in high school or college. I find the first few episodes the most entertaining to watch as they weed out individuals who really had no business auditioning to begin with. They do keep my interest as an effort is made every week to explain how selections are made.

Pretty odd selection, isn't it?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Gypsy Blogs

Hi! Mommy been really busy with that fiber stuff, so I take over today. Don't know why she like it, it not interesting after she wash it.

My peoples took me for hair cut. Good, too hot for me 'round here. Too hot to chase kitties, even. I made me a hole and pretended to guard. Me likes this tree, too.

Oops, I've got to make sure the laptop is out of reach, I guess. Gypsy's not kidding, it's been really hot, like 95F hot. I like summer quite a bit, but that kind of hot tires a body out. My new job is just great so far; however, there is no AC in most areas of the schools.

Fiber news? Well, we got all the entries for the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival Skein & Garment Competition all organized and judged last night. Trouble (the cat) was not judged; however she did supervise. Many thanks to our judge Freda and my helpers Erica, Kris and Cheryl!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Today was Labor Day here in the US. My daughter and I did what many people do: not a darn thing productive. We did go do a bit of shopping (which is what many others do school shopping). To recognize Labor Day, I have the following:

I finished (mostly) my last, long abandoned project. There was much labor involved, or at least much plain stockinette. I had thought that the nightie from Mason-Dixon Knitting was pretty neat. I still think so. However, the yarn I chose to substitute was not a good choice. As soon as it was cast off, the thing grew to ginormous proportions around. It will be ripped out. Perhaps the yarn would make a good tank or shell. We'll decide later on that.

This is my car. I took it on a date Friday afternoon. I took it through the car wash, then had them do the windows, vacuum, shampoo the carpet and seats and polish up all the vinyl bits. It looks fantastic. Why should I do all this? Well, it was to celebrate making the very last payment: it's mine, mine, all mine!

The best news is that I have a brand-new job. I start tomorrow as a Computer Support Assistant at the local school district. Hopefully, I haven't forgotten everything over the last year of job hunting and can actually address issues as they come up. There isn't much time to "warm-up" as the school year starts Wednesday. I'm looking forward to doing this kind of work again, having an 8-minute commute and health insurance.

Shamless Plug: Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival is approaching quickly...Sept. 15-16 in Hemlock, NY. Great fun, inexpensive to get in, fabulous vendors and we want you to join us!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finished Objects

Wow, it's been quite some time since I posted, hasn't it? It's been busy around here, mostly with stuff that is of no interest whatsoever (like work). There is some interesting news that I'll share soon. However, I have managed to catch a case of "finishitis", which isn't a bad thing. DD continues to do well showing and barrel racing, which has created some really good chunks of prime knitting time.

I finally found a button for the felted sunburst sling bag from earlier this year. Also got to the point on the cotton bag that I had knit enough and declared it done. The cotton bag is based on "Folds of Function" from Folk Bags, I just made it bigger and lined it with some fabric from the stash.

There are also finished socks. This summer's traveling socks are done, as are the reticulated socks from Sensational Knitted Socks.

I've even gotten back to the Mason-Dixon Nightie that I started ages ago. We'll just see how that case of finishitus holds up. If I can just get to the lace edging (and not start anything new until I finish it), I'll be all set!

In my travels (and I really haven't been getting out much at all lately), I found that someone had been "flamingoed". Don't you just love the baby flamingos? What a neat thing to do!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Random Wednesday

We are back into a hot weather pattern again. Good for pool dipping, not so good if you think you're going to get some weeds yanked out of the ground (they just break off). I'd really like to know why everything, except the weeds, stops growing? At least it's been raining a bit, good for growing things; however, those showers do add to the humidity level.

This pic's a bit hazy (taken through a window screen and above mentioned humidity). These two babies were out romping about in the front yard this morning. Much better than last night's hidden (but the nose knows) visitor. The house, again, smells much like skunk. Sigh.

Last Sunday's outside project was truck landscaping. What is truck landscaping, you ask? It's great fun. You wrap a chain around the base of the offending shrubbery/small tree, attach it to the hitch of the truck, and drive off (slowly). Generally, the flora either gets yanked out completely or breaks off below ground level. No shovels, not much effort and no large excavations (or even holes to speak of). Trust me: It. Never. Gets. Old.

I've starting second socks for both pair that I started knitting on a few months ago, turning the heel on one and still on the leg on the other. The tote I was working on decided that it's a purse, funny how projects evolve.

I made a dash for the fabric store the other night and got both brass & nickel grommets for the purse. Tonight, I had the lining sewn in, the strap almost done (just need a final length check), had decided on brass and was ready to hammer. However, I discovered that I needed a larger punch to install those grommets. I guess that means another trip, just not tonight, I'm not in the mood.

It seemed to me that I might be running a bit close on the solid color for the reticulated socks, so I went to see if KnitPicks still carried that color. They do, definitely a different dye lot, but if I need it, I'll be prepared. Of course, while finding that yarn, other stuff fell into my "Stash" (truly inspired name for their shopping cart). Things like some Peruvian Highlands Wool and 2 books (Selbuvotter and Felt It!), because, after all, one has to take advantage of free shipping, doesn't one?

The fabulous news for this week? One of my spinning and knitting friends got the news that she is now lymphoma-free! How did we celebrate? With dinner, ice cream and spinning, of course.