Friday, February 19, 2010

Yarn, Scarf and Socks-to-Be

We've watched more of the Olympics this year than ever before. We bought a projection unit and set it up for the opening ceremonies last week. I'm not sure what my favourite part of the ceremonies was - the hundreds of First Nation's dancers in full costume, Sarah McLaughlin vocals or Katie Lang singing 'Hallelujah'. I can't imagine the work involved in putting such a huge show on. I think it showed the best of Canada - in many different forms.

We watched Canada get it's first gold on Canadian soil, won by Alexandre Bilodeau, which was a great thrill and so touching that he dedicated it to his brother. There has been so many other highlights and we admired the abilities of the athletes of all countries. I have never been a hockey fan, but last night's men's game between Canada and Switzerland had even me on the edge of my seat. Some times, it's just not safe to knit and watch TV!

I've finished my Autumn Days scarf in handspun alpaca and merino this week. This pattern is by Aimee Alexander and is available on Ravelry. I really enjoyed knitting this 6-row pattern and I'm happy with the scarf. I have learned two things. The first, is that a heathered, slightly inconsistent yarn does not show a lace pattern off well. A smoother yarn would have shown off my stitches better. Also, if the scarf pattern says - knit to 60 inches....well, trust the designer...I didn't realize how much the scarf would stretch out with blocking. It's very long.
It is very soft and has already started to bloom. Looks great with black.

I'm currently knitting these socks out of my 3 ply sock yarn of 60% alpaca\20%merino\20% nylon. I had dyed up a bunch of skeins in an intense batch of 'vermillion'. Unfortunately, this batch bled significantly when I washed it. I tried fixing the dye several times, but it just bleeds.
I suspect it might be this colour of dye. Anyway - this yarn makes a very soft but durable pair of socks, so I will knit them for my own use.

Today, I went to a knitting group that was just starting at the Powassan Public Library. I met some lovely women, had some good laughs and shared some knitting ideas. Unfortunately, as always happens, I knit 3 rows and then find a mistake and unknit 3 rows. I can only knit plain stockinette and carry on a conversation at the same time.

I've been trying to update my stock with new colours. As always, the blues, teals and berry colours are more plentiful out of my dyepot. This time, I tried to do something else with a thought to pleasing someone that doesn't share my same favourites.
The Olive colour had to win me over, but I liked the look of the 'Autumn Roses' variegated even before it had set in the pot. This is a very soft, chunky 3 ply alpaca\merino blend.

Gotta go start something else...or maybe find a UFO to finish....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Go Team Canada!

The 2010 Olympics open in Vancouver today. Project and screen are ready in the family room for start of the family couch-potato event. Go CANADA!!!

I have the vet coming this afternoon to draw blood for routine testing for some young alpacas. I get to hold while he attempts to stick a needle in them. Doesn't that sound like fun? I'll probably earn some quality couch-potato time.

Suzanne has finished weaving our black alpaca textile for our jackets. Look!

If you have a dog in your house, you know the wonderful feeling of being loved when your pet runs to greet you at the door when you come home from work. Your dog loves you unconditionally.
Well, my alpacas watch for me in the morning. When they see me leave the house and walk towards the barn, they stop what they are doing and make a mad dash to meet me at the barn.

I am under no illusion.
They could care less whether it's me, my husband or someone else.
They know it's time for their pellets (that's the stuff they get twice a day that gives them their vitamins and minerals that our native forage doesn't give them).
And they might likely run me over if I get in between them and the barn door.

Here's a picture of my two weanlings vacuuming up their pellets. I feed them in a separate area, so they don't have to compete with the big ones for their pellets.

Look at the beautiful tulips that I was given this week. Makes me feel like spring has arrived. (And since is was -32C this morning at our house, I need to be reminded that it is coming!)

And another sign that spring is around the corner...
I took this shot just before noon yesterday. And before you all go "Huh?". This is inside my uninsulated 3-season solarium. The sun was shining in and it was warm enough to sit in there and spin or read (well, if time had permitted...) in the warm sunniness.
And to those American friends who might still be thinking "Huh?" It's in's nice and warm at 22C!

Sunday is Valentine's Day, and Monday is the Family Day holiday. Hope you Feel The Love!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Bones

It's February! More sunny days and longer daylight hours are noticeable. I notice in Facebook that many friends are posting spring and summer pictures to give us all hope. I was listening to the CBC radio program about gardening the other day. The expert was telling us how to plan your garden, so that even the 'winter bones' of your garden are appealing. Well, I'll have to work on that. However, it did make me look at things differently while walking back from the barn.

Sumac in the winter is quite lovely.
My sumac study didn't last long before I noticed that some wild critter (either a fox or a martin, likely) had dug up a dead muskrat that had been buried in the snow. Ahhhh, the 'winter bones' of my rural garden need some refining, for sure.

I have been busy with all things and accomplishing nothing, it seems. I hope to have some finished projects to show you soon.

I was invited to give a presentation at the Powassan Public Library at the end of January. The topic began as 'yarn', but soon transformed into an evening to expose new or previous knitters to many possibilities of knitting with the new fibres and colours available. A couple friends really helped out by bringing their great sample garments. Obviously, I am biased with my alpaca yarn, but I did want to showcase all the possibilities. We also explored some of the environmental and fair trade considerations when buying yarn. Thanks to a friend made through, I was able to show slides of some very funky wearable art made with novelty art yarn. I was pleased with the large turnout and hope that the evening helped the library to start a knitting program in this community.

I shared a few pictures of harvesting alpaca for my yarn. The audience loved these "before, during and after" pictures, as usual.

A good friend, Suzanne, and I have been planning a project for well over a year. I had some black alpaca yarn that was more suitable for weaving material than knitting. Suzanne and I had decided that there was probably enough there to weave two black jackets if we put them on one loom. We've talked a lot about this over many months. Suzanne grew tired of talking about it. So, we've picked out patterns. We've consulted with Ralph, our weaving guru. We've gone shopping for some colour accent yarn (of course, after shopping, I discovered the perfect Noro novelty yarn in my stash). We've planned the warp (apparently in a garment, even random colour needs to be planned carefully). We made the warp. Suzanne is weaving the material at her apartment.

I am really looking forward to having something made from alpaca handcrafted by my friend Suzanne. Besides being an accomplished weaver/artist, Suzanne is a very special person in my life.
Alpaca are a huge part of my life. This garment will be so special.

Suzanne is very focussed on this project. I think it might be consuming her! We have already discussed hand-crafted buttons for this garment.

Here's a picture of Aurelia. I've shown you pictures of her beautiful fleece before. She actually is a brilliant white although the picture looks like she is fawn. I'm sure it is just the overcast lighting, because she couldn't possibly be that dirty.