Monthly Archives: October 2011

Falling Leaves

Design
Here it is, the one and only "Falling Leaves" jumper.  I finally finished it after starting it in August.  It is made from Sirdar Snuggly.  I absolutely love this jumper.  Don't miss the leaf pattern border at the bottom of the jumper.  Then the slip-stitch pattern just above the waist adds a little color.  Finally, the pink picot edging around the sleeves and neckline adds a little "girly" frill.  Good for any weather with a long- or short-sleeved t-shirt, some leggings and cute shoes.

Full View

Top

Border
I feel a great sense of accomplishment being able to finish this.  I just hope that it gets a good review!

Coming Soon
More cold weather items!

Gearing up for winter.

So far, Fall is fantastic!  All the animals are healthy, the rotation of pasture is going like clockwork, no escapes, no heartaches. 

Let’s see…what’s been happening?  Susie and Anna’s fleeces from the spring shearing got 2nd and 3rd place in the fleece competition at the Tunbridge World’s Fair.  I spent a couple of glorious days spinning away in the sheep barn, telling anyone who would listen of the joys of handspinning.  Beats working any day.

That's Anna on the left, and Susie on the right.

Then I was blessed with Bethel’s most awesome work crew…the Munyon/Reisterer/Smith clan all came over on Saturday.   The boys replaced the posts on my pole barn, where the wood and the tractor and snowblower live, so it won’t collapse under the weight of all the snow.  I’m hopeful that since that actually got done, we’ll have a low snow winter :)

We all took turns at the wood splitter, and split up all the rest of that butternut tree, along with some logs that Alex had generously brought over from clearing their house site.  Most of that got stacked even.  The great news…I think there’s more than enough to get thru this winter, so I won’t have to buy any more wood!

Look, it’s not smiling anymore!
 This belated post brought to you by the ghost in the machine.  I started to write a new catch up post today, and this one, which was lost a few weeks ago when I was writing it, suddenly appeared.  So, here you go :)
 

Mad About Hats

Knit Madness
With fall in full swing, I have been knitting like crazy.  So many fall and winter projects to do and so little time left!  I discovered a new love though...for hats!  I found a tutorial for hat design and I was instantly hooked.  Since finishing Peanut's Fall Sweater Vest, I have made the following:

Kid's Packer Beanie

Simply Elegant Beanie

Pointed Hat
(Simple Stockinette Stitch Hat with Butterfly)

Green and Gold Sox
I attemped another baby beanie a few times, but each time, either Peanut or Q figured out a way to pull out a needle from one side and I'd have to start over again.  The  I messed up the lace pattern I found and finally gave up.

To be sure, these aren't the only things I've been working on.  I also finished the Falling Leaves jumper which will be photographed tomorrow around the Bed and Breakfast.  It is my favorite project that I've worked on, and I am so happy that it's finished.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves once I post them.

Coming Soon
More hats, scarves, and winter apparel are coming to the Etsy shop.  Keep checking back!

Mom’s Hat

My mom has a lovely classic hat that my great aunt knit but it started out red and has been orange for about as long as I can remember and has begun to get pilly. Worse yet it has gotten somewhat stretched out so that it falls down in her face.

While we were looking through Ravelry patterns we found this one she she loved it. I told her I could make it for her without looking too carefully at the pattern. Then, when it came time to make it I found it had cables, which I had never done before, but they were very simple and only the ear flaps and so I finished it fairly quickly.

I love the way the variation in the yarn shows up so nicely in the hat - I had only used the yarn for the edging on my shawl before and while it is nice there, the depth of purples shows up so much nicer in the hat.

I love the decreases, up close they look almost like a braid.

The earflaps also create a bit of a band that keeps the hat snugly around your face, it's nice, but is partially what makes it quite so old fashioned looking.

The cabling is simple, but makes a pretty pattern on the short-row earflaps.

Purple, very warm and very mom-ish. She's keeping the old hat, she can't get rid of anything my great aunt made, but this hat has already been used in this very early cold front!

more mushroom dyeing madness

Dyeing with mushrooms has consumed my past couple of weekends. Here’s what I have so far…
more dyeing 2

greens and khakis

The coolest is this, these greens from Polyozellus multiplex,
polyozellusresults

The books generally recommend a 1:1 ratio of dry mushroom to wool, and since I had just half an ounce of the Polyozellus, I used half an ounce of wool. No mordant. Yowza the color! The yarn tyeing the skein is mordanted, and it is even darker. So I kept using the dyebath (still with the mushrooms), and even increasing the amount of wool, until the fifth time through, when I had 1.5 ounces of wool… First time is on the right, 5th on the left. The dyebath was pretty exhausted by then, eh?
polyozellus no. 5 polyozella 2011 Sept 29 UMA 134

Fungi photo from DH, who says this species isn’t common and appears rarely. Hopefully we’ll find it again!

Here’s another where I used the dyebath a second time, Paxillus atrotomentosus. The color from the first bath is more true in the photo on the right. It’s a vaguely purpley gray. Second time? Khaki green.
pax atrotomentosus 1 and 2 pax atrotomentosus no. 1

Here’s some more khaki greens/greenish tans/mushroom colors!
khaki greens

The yarn was pre-mordanted with alum unless noted, and 1:1 ratio of dry mushroom to wool. Most of the fungi pics are from DH.

  • The two Paxillus atrotomentus on the left
    Paxillus atrotemtosus 8
  • Cortinarius whiteii aka C. limonius (iron in the dyebath at the end)… it’s very pale, and there isn’t much of it
    cort whiteii Aziscohos Mtn (22)
  • Paxillus involutus
    Paxillus involutus (1)
  • Hydnellum of some species that DH and I are trying to settle on (alum with the dyebath)
    Hydnellum Jimmy Pond 10-8-10 276
  • Ischnoderma resinosa (4 quarts chopped fresh to 4 ounces wool). This is a better color in real life.
    ischnoderma resinosa

DH thinks it’s Hydnellum aurantiacum, but based on the dye results, I wonder if it’s Hydnellum spongiosipes.

golds

You may know I love the gold from Phaeolus… Here’s more,
phaeolus 1 and 2 (2 is overdye)
The lower skein is pre-mordanted with alum, the yarn above it is overdyed…actually some of it is the same yarn I overdyed with the Cortinarius semisanguineus.

reds and salmons

reds to salmon
Mostly you saw this before

  • The far left (very pale tan) is from Omphalotus, we think O. olearius…
    Omphalotus olearius
  • Next is a bit from Cortinarius armillatus
    Cortinarius armillatus
  • Next is a bit of overdyed yarn, with Cortinarius semisanguineus
  • two skeins of the second time with the C. semisanguineus (unmordanted on the left, mordanted on the right)
  • the far right is the first bath.

next up

I have 4 ounces or so of wool in a dyebath with the lobster mushrooms… So far it’s pretty disappointing. I learned that raising the pH does good things… but not so much.

I also learned that raising the pH for any of the polypores can be a good thing. I hear mixed things about doing so for Phaeolus.

I haven’t had good luck with the iron afterbaths. I remove the wool from the dyebath, dissolve up the appropriate amount of iron, put in the dyebath, mix it all up, put the wool back, and simmer another half hour or more. If anybody has hints or suggestions, I’m all ears.

Anyhow, I have 4 ounces undyed wool left, and I plan to overdye at least half of the skeins from the Omphalotus (it’s too pale) and the second time through with the Cortinarius semisanguineus. This wool is for a sweater for DH… so I’d be happier with a few darker colors tossed in.

I’m thinking Ischnoderma with a higher pH (supposed to get a blackish brown with an iron afterbath). We also have a lot of Chaga (Inonutus obliquus) around. It is supposed to give a light golden brown, and a grayish brown with iron. So I’ll probably do some of that too.

Fall Shearing at Juniper Moon Farm

the barn

I returned Sunday evening from one of the most amazing trips I have ever taken. Juniper Moon Farm was hosting its annual Fall Shearing celebration, and I was fortunate enough to not only go down for the shearing festivities, but my friend Susan (who owns this beautiful farm) opened her home to me so that I could spend the entire weekend there.

sunlight

wheel corner

Here are some of my favorite shots from the weekend, and there are many, many more in the Flickr set here.

cider

baa haa haa

exciting stuff beyond that fence there

heaven

scrap yarn for birdie friends and mohair locks for people friends

watching the shearing action

Emily the shearer

honeycomb!

looking down on the table off the deck

pump

farm fresh eggs

maple cotton candy, popcorn, and fresh pressed cider

ready for action

Not only did I come home with a million pictures and the memories that go with them, I also got some goodies. :)

Some I bought, like this wonderful mug by Anna Branner:

Anna makes the cutest mugs

Bees on the back!!!

bees!

And PERFECTLY holds one french press worth of coffee -- and even leaves room for milk!

PERFECT SIZE!

I also finally bought this yarn, which I have been coveting for Deco for quite some time now.

Juniper Moon Farm yarn

And as a bonus for buying things, you could grab some scrap yarn to put out for your bird friends' nesting efforts. I just loved the shades of green in this ball.

scrap yarn for the birds

And would you believe that I won THREE raffle prizes???

This pattern book and these skeins of yarn,

a raffle prize that I won!

MORE yarn, in a project bag,

more raffle winnings!

which also came with this lavender heart sachet:

raffle prize

and a full set of the three Juniper Moon Farm pattern books which were written for their first yarn line.

pattern books won in raffle!

I also brought home some fresh goat's milk for some special soap I've been thinking of making for a while now.

JMF goat milk for soap making!

More on that when I actually get around to making it...

Perhaps the best thing though is the gift Susan found for me. My Ravelry name, "HowdyPandowdy," is based on some lyrics from a song I used to enjoy on satellite radio when we still had it at our old house. Well, some awesome print shop on Etsy just happened to use those same lines on this gorgeous letterpress print:

present from Susan!

As soon as I find the perfect frame for it, it will be hanging on my kitchen wall. For now, I propped it up on top of the white hutch in there so I can enjoy it in the meantime.

I don't know what else I can say to do this weekend justice. It was just what I needed in so many ways, and to meet these friends in "real life" was an absolute joy. So, so wonderful, and I only hope it can happen again some day.

Fall Shearing at JMF

What a BEAUTIFUL Fall day!  Fall Shearing at Juniper Moon Farm is always more low key then Spring Shearing.  For one thing only the goats (and this year the colored sheep) are sheared, as they are clipped twice a year.  Also, this year, Susie has been travelling all over the USA promoting her new yarn line with the Juniper Moon Label.  (It is FANTASTIC stuff!  Ask for it at your local yarn shop.)   Attendance by JMF "aunties" (as the Farm Groupies are called....you can meet us on Ravalry) is lower and it just feels like a family get together. Family that you sometimes have never had the opportunity to meet In Real Life!!   Instead of tents Susie set up her Farm store in the garage, with a space for my table of JMF pottery. (Available also on her website here.) She had honey from her own bees this year too!

There was FRESH pressed cider from the Farm's new cider press and popcorn.  Lunch was potluck as usual. An amazingly relaxed and uneventful day!   Here are a few pictures....


Charlie.  Or maybe it's Churchill???



Before shearing.....

The amazing Emily.....(she's actually been judged as one of the best shearers in the country.)


After the haircut.  It's amazing how dark the colored sheep fleeces are.  The tips bleach out in the sun, so it's easy to forget how chocolatey brown they really are!


Greg with my JMF pottery....wouldn't be a show without him.

Jerry the llama makes a friend.

LOT'S of chickens.  They were all just little peepees at Spring Shearing!


Pro Work: 3M Unitek Teens

The "Eyes" Have It

It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In that case, my windows are like old-fashioned leaded glass. Sure, I can see through them, but everything’s kinda blurry, depending on how I tilt my head.

Actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I can see. And with glasses, I mostly see 20/20. It’s actually past time to get my prescription renewed, since I find myself tilting my head back to read a book through the bottom-most portion of the of my bifocal lenses, but that’s not the whole problem. Let’s be honest, that’s not even half the problem lately.

I am a diabetic. I was diagnosed a little over 3 years ago, and I test my blood sugar 2-3 times a day and watch my carbs, protein and fat intake. I’m overweight. By a lot, actually, but it’s a vicious circle. When your blood sugar’s up, it’s hard to lose weight, but you can’t lower your blood sugar significantly without losing weight. But that’s a story for another time.

This story is about my eyes. Being a handworker – knitter, crocheter, spinner – and an avid reader, as well as required to use a computer for my day job, you could say my eyes are how I make my living as well as extremely vital to pursuing the hobbies I love. If I can’t see well, I can’t perform well either at work or at play. And according to my retina specialist, I don’t see so well.

I have a condition called diabetic retinopathy. Speaking in terms that I understand, it’s a leakage of fluid behind the retina of the eye due to weakened blood vessels. There are varying degrees of the condition and I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t know how severe mine is, just that it needs to be treated so I don’t lose my vision.

Yep. That’s what I said. “Lose my vision.” To prevent what would, for me, be an extreme tragedy, I have been getting injections into my eyes at approximately 6 – 8 week intervals to arrest the leakage. I know, you’re sitting there covering one eye, saying “OUCH!” or “Oh, my GOD!!” Yeah. It was that way for me at first, too. Now it’s (frighteningly) routine. I’m going in for the third injection in my left eye tomorrow. I’ve already had 3 in my right. The good news is that usually, the injections work. The bad news is that it doesn’t seem to be a permanent fix. And the scary thing is, the doctor keeps throwing around phrases like “while your vision is still good.”

Really? While it’s “still” good?? What constitutes NOT good? Am I going to go blind? Sooner or later? Is there a more aggressive treatment? Is there a “cure” at all?? These are things I can’t bring myself to ask, and we all know how reliable Dr. Google is.

What I do know is that while the injections stop the leakage, they don’t repair any damage already done. My vision a week ago was 20/20 with correction, but it’s deteriorating in my left eye. I know this – every time I go to the retina specialist, I have to read the eye chart, and it’s getting harder on the left side. That and I can “see” a blurry spot in my field of vision on that side. This is a result of the small bubble of fluid that’s built up on my retina that we hope to reduce with the next injection. It’s worked before, and I have confidence that it will work again. I just wish there was a way to stop the leakage altogether.

There are laser treatments that can be done to cauterize the blood vessels. But the doctor says that since the leakage is so close to my central vision, he doesn’t want to zap anything for fear of creating scar tissue that will impair the vision (I do have). I tend to agree. 20/20 with correction’s damned good, and I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible!

There are preventive measures I can take, but none of them guarantee that the leakage will stop. Lose weight. Keep my blood sugar and blood pressure down. I’m working on the weight, and my blood sugar and pressure have been “ideal” the past couple times they’ve been tested.

So I do what the retina specialist tells me so I can keep my eyesight for as long as possible. And if that means injections into the eye every 6-8 weeks, then that’s what it means.

dyeing with the half blood cort!

But first, a photo of my pal Sid and me…
sid (2)

And the house we saw for sale,
house for sale (2)
Must be a fixer upper… the tarp says “Catholic schools make a world of difference”, and yes, there is a concrete filled wheel hub weighing it down… Welcome to Maine!

Someplace I must’ve posted pics of these Cortinarius semisanguineus drying… but I can’t find the post, so here they are
cortsemisang 015 cortsemisang 006

They are known to be good dye mushrooms, and I’d say they are! This is after a few minutes in the pot,
cort begin dyeing in pot

They mushroom:wool ratio for this species is 3:5. I had 6 ounces of dried corts, so dyed 10 ounces of wool… 8 of Bartlett and 2 of some miscellaneous wool. Because it did so well, I thought I might get something out of a second run through the dye bath. Here’s everything, initial batch and second batch, including overdye of a few odd bits of this and that.
cort dyeing 005

Top row, 2 on left are Bartlett, 2 on the right are whatever… Bottom row, far left is mordanted, second in is not, bit on the far right is not overdyed. The two next to it are the same, just overdyed.

It’s hard to capture the color… the second bath produced a melony color. It is more meloney in the alum mordanted skein, and a little more yellowish in the unmordanted skein.

Leftovers… the dye water is pretty clear,
cort dyeing leftovers

Way more details than most people want to know…

I pre-mordanted a bunch of Bartlett. The guidelines for mordanting with alum are really vague… between 1.5-5 tsp per 4 oz. dry wool, with 2 tsp cream of tartar (no matter how much alum). That’s a pretty big range! Since I mordanted 20 oz. of wool, I used 7 Tbs of alum and 3+ Tbs CoT. Too much alum can make the yarn feel “gummy”. Bartlett is by no means luxury wool, and this stuff is lanoliny, so I’m not sure if the hand of the dyed wool is because of the lanolin or because of the alum.

6 ounces dried corts, 10 ounces wool (pre-wetted) through the first dyebath. Simmered about 2 hours, cooled in the pot, rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. I pre-wetted more wool for the second run through, but one skein was mordanted and the other not. The undyed wool was supposed to be all one dyelot (or lack of dyelot as it was the natural cream), but a few of the skeins were greyer, while the rest were creamier. I also put about 10 oz wool through the second dyebath… pre-wetted the wool, put it in the cool dyepot, let it sit for a day until I got home from work and heated it… let it simmer about an hour and cool overnight in the pot.