Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Back!

I have no good excuse for not doing a post in so long except the usual of life getting in the way. Now that the weather is turning, though, I am much more in the mood for knitting and spinning. In the last while I have gotten some beautiful inspiration...

A Forrester dual-whorl spindle.

 Wildcraft Garden Flowers

Golding Dragonfly. I am really, really trying to spin a little thicker so that this gorgeous spindle won't be hitting the floor!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tour de Fleece - Day 1

I am starting le Tour de Fleece with some mid grey gotland fibre. It is really clean, but Mikki seemed to find it interesting anyway.

I spent most of the day down at my favourite LYS, Golden Willow Natural Fibres, and got quite a bit done. Tomorrow I will ply samples of both a 2 and 3 ply yarn. I also spun a bit of it on my new Forrester spindle. It is easy to spin with its long staple length. It reminds me very much of Wensleydale.

I forced myself to spin the gotland singles thicker than I normally like to spin. I would also like to spin some as a lace weight, but I will really need to free up some bobbins first. So I am also trying to finish up some hand dyed BFL that has been sitting around almost completed for a while now. I got one bobbin finished this morning and am hoping to complete the second this evening.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My First Tour de Fleece

This year for the first time I am going to participate in the Tour de Fleece as part of Team Golden Willow. Over the years I have accumulated a small pile of approximately 100gr bags of different kinds of fibres.Sharon, the owner of the best LYS, is such an enabler. And she never tries to deny it.

So my goal over the next 20 or so days is to do a fibre study with all the various fibres. It will be an accomplishment to get them all spun and plied since some of them will also need carding and combing. The variety should make it very interesting, though.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

MORE Wild Weather

It just won't stop.

Things had finally started to dry and out of the blue we were hit with another storm today. I went into the shower to wash away all the sweat  from working out in the garden for 20 minutes and when I got out 10 minutes later the skies had turned dark. After rushing out to go and pick up the kids from school we had to wait another 20 minutes for the hail to stop. A quick trip driving home and the hail started again.
It is still raining too hard for me to go out and check the damage, but Katie felt brave enough to run out in a lull and gather up the hail from the trampoline. She also must have been cold since the temperature dropped over 10 degrees in about as many minutes.
Silly kid. I took the pictures from the relative safety of the house.

Eeek! That lightning was just way too close for comfort when we live in a yard with the highest trees in the neighbourhood. Time to power down the computer.

20 minutes later...
Oh for pity's sake! The rain stops, the sun comes out and then it starts to hail again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

It has been a while since my last post, but it has been raining. Raining agian. And then raining some more. When it rains I lose every ounce of ambition. If I had wanted to live in Vancouver I would have moved there. It may get really cold here in the winter, but Regina is pretty much the sunshine capital of Canada. Not this year, though. My bedding plants were rotting and my garden seeds were washing away.

But yesterday the sun shone again! Yipee! my psyche said. I dropped everything, grabbed some yarn, headed out to the deck and cast on a new project.

My housework, which also hasn't been done for weeks, also got dropped. But priorities are priorities.

Earlier in the spring and between bouts of rain dh Dallas and I redid out deck in the back yard. Well, Dallas did most of it, but I supervised really well. And did the staining. It turned out amazing and we have been spending every moment that we have been able to out there. So far that may have only added up to a couple of hours.
We have bird feeders and bird baths all around and we love to sit out there and watch the birds. We try to identify them also, but we are really bad at it. We were able to watch a mother sparrow teach her two little chicks how to fly which was pretty amusing. We also witnessed a family of 5 baby squirrels learn how to run and jump through the trees and roofs. That one would have been very funny if  we hadn't known that those same squirrels would be back later to raid all the bird feeders.

I seem to have developed quite a pile of half-completed knitting projects.
There are 3 socks (the grey one for my father-in-law only needs the cuff of the second sock to be finished), one lace scarf and now a beret for Katie. I am pretty sure that there are more kicking around, but they must have gotten put away out of the way. Not to mention that I have about 4 different spinning projects on the go.

I have also finally learned how to spindle spin! I couldn't resist the banded oak bur on sycamore with ash shaft spindle from IST.

It is supposed to rain again tomorrow so enough of this and back to my knitting on the deck. Now if I could just keep the caterpiller poop from landing on my head.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So Now What?

The short and concise answer is not much.

The question comes after our family has been going through battles with the school and the school board, struggling through an almost year long process of getting a diagnosis and trying to find some help for our son Christopher.

Last week we finally got the official diagnosis - Christopher has autism.

Christopher also has ADHD, which we have known about since he was 3. There is also the very distinct possibility that there are also other issues going on such as Central Auditory Processing Disorder.

Life can be very difficult when you are "different." I was so relieved when the diagnostic process was over because I believed that now we would be able to provide Christopher with some much needed assistance to help him navigate the rocky road that is his life.

Instead I find myself angry and upset. It turns out that we live in what is known to the rest of the autistic community across Canada as "the waste land." There is so little government funding for autism programs in Saskatchewan that the waiting list for services is about 10 years long.

We are luckier than a lot of families. Christopher's autism is relatively mild. My heart bleeds for the families who need intensive therapy if their children are to have any hope of improvement. At least we aren't put into the position of having to remortgage our home, borrowing heavily from anyone we can or even being forced to move to another province where there are better services in place.

There are some changes currently being made to try and address this huge embarrassing deficit. The problem is that a lot of children can't wait. They need help NOW. Waiting for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to turn can mean the difference between a life of total dependancy or a chance at a meaningful life. At the same time, however, the same government is cutting back funding to the school boards for educational assistants.

In Christopher's case little interventions could have the potential to make a big impact on his life. We will just have to get in line and hope. You can only listen to your child cry himself to sleep so often before your heart completely breaks. He knows he is not like the other kids.

If you can, please please make autism a cause you support. In Saskatchewan there is The Autism Resource Centre. There is also The Casey Foundation, which was started by a parent of an autistic child to try and provide financial support for families needing services. The foundation was started in 2005. Casey is still currently only on the waiting list.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Pioneer Gets a Makeover

My humble little plain Jane Majacraft Pioneer has received a make-over. From the beginning it has always been in the back of my mind that one day I would do something to fancy her up a bit. It just took me over a year before I finally figured out what exactly to do. In the end I kept it simple and just did a stencil in shades of brown and antique gold and then applied a darker stain. 

I am quite pleased with her now and think she looks very pretty.  
So she is all finished and put back together now.She still spins like a dream.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


So I am happily knitting away on the lace scarf....

And then I see it - a knot!!
I have been hunting around the internet for the last couple of days looking for the best way to deal with it. It is such a tiny little knot that I could be tempted to just ignore it and keep on knitting, but I am paranoid (probably rightly) that at some point in the future it will work its way loose.

Does anyone have any great suggestions on how to proceed? Russian join (and hopefully a lovely link that will give idiot-proof instructions complete with pictures)? A stitch join (I have read of references to this, but still really don't know what it is)?

Any and all help greatfully received.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Forays into Lace Knitting

As if adding hats and mittens to my repertoire of knitting wasn't exciting enough, I am now also knitting lace.

The jury is still out on if I really enjoy it or not.

The first lace scarf wasn't too bad since it was made from a 50/50 merino-silk that I dyed and spun myself. It came out at about 16 wraps per inch so it wasn't terribly fine. I used Falling Water Lace Scarf pattern. It is very pretty and very soft and I love wearing it. I hate blocking it, however. Unfortunately, learning lace also meant having to learn to block.

After success with the first lace go-round I decided that I would take on some of the buffalo fibre that I have been hoarding for the last 17 months. I dug out the Buffalo Gold Lux, which is 45% Bison, 20% Cashmere, 20% Silk, 15% Tencel, wiped off the drool marks and got to work on Falling Birch Leaves.
This one is much slower going as it is a two-ply true lace weight. The worst part is that when I make a mistake I am finding it almost impossible to fix it without having to unknit back to the point that I went wrong and then re-knit again.

And in totally unrelated knitting news... yesterday it was Christopher's turn to get his blue belt in kempo. He did awesome in his kumite (10 minutes of free sparring with alternating opponents every minute - a LOT harder than it sounds). For both Katie and Christopher it has sunk in that they are only two belts away from their junior black belt.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Mound of Mittens

One pair of red and white maple leaf mittens for Katie lead to another pair. And then another pair. And then another pair. Each time I made more modifications until I ended up changing things beyond recognition from the original pattern construction. There are actually a couple of other changes I would still like to make, but I just plain got tired of making mittens.

Katie was very, very pleased with her mittens.

As I looked at all my scribbles (I ended up with about 3 pages of chicken scratch) I figured that I had better write out how I made them with some sort of sense. So my first attempt at creating a pattern was born.

I am more of a "little of this" and a "little of that" sort of knitter and often don't follow any pattern exactly. I cook the same way, which would explain why I don't like to bake. Baked goods don't tend to come out very well when you only use the recipe as a guide. So hopefully I wrote out the pattern correctly. Please feel free to let me know of any errors.

link to Maple Leaf Mittens pattern in .pdf form (this one looks pretty)

I am also trying to figure out how to put my pattern in here correctly so bear with me as I experiment.

Cast on 40 sts on size 5 needles.
Gauge 17 st = 3” (just under 6 sts an inch)
24 rows = 3”

CUFF RIBBING – 2 x 2 or 1 x 1
- knit 6 rows red in rib of choice
- 3 rows white
- 3 rows red
- 3 rows white
- 6 rows red
Switch to size 6 needles.
- knit 7 rows st st.

- k 16, Inc 1 st in each of next 2 sts, k to end of row.
- knit round
- k 16, Inc 1 st in next st, K2, Inc 1, knit to end of row
- knit round
Continue until 52 sts. End on a st st row.
- k 18 sts, place next 11 sts on holder. Cast on 3 sts, k to end or row.
- k even with 44 sts on needle for about 25 rounds, until length is about 2’’ less than desired finished length.

- k 21, Inc 1 st in each of next 2 sts, k to end of row.
- knit round
- k 21, Inc 1 st in next st, K2, Inc 1, knit to end of row
- knit round
Continue until 52 sts. End on a st st row.
- k23 sts, place next 11 sts on holder. Cast on 3 sts, k to end or row.
- k even with 44 sts on needle for about 25 rounds, until length is about 2” less than desired finished length.

- k1, s1, k1, PSSO, k16, k2tog, k1….k1, s1, k1, PSSO, k16, k2tog, k1
- s1, k1, PSSO, k18, k2tog…. S1, k1, PSSO, k18, k2tog
Continue until 8 sts remain. Cut and thread yarn through loops and pull tight or graft to finish. Or more stitches left on needles for less pointy tops. Increase knit even for mitten hand accordingly.

Attach yarn at top of thumb gusset.
- work in 16 sts – 1 picked up between holder and cast on sts, the 3 cast on sts, 1st  picked up between holder and cast on stitches on the other side, and 11 sts from holder
- k even for 16 Rounds
- (k2tog) 8 times: 8 sts remain
- k even one round
- (k2tog) 4 times: 4 sts remain
Cut yarn and thread through loops and pull tight to finish.

- use either duplicate stitch or cross stitch for pattern
- begin pattern 12 sts across from cast on edge towards the thumb for the left mitten, and 14 sts over from cast on edge for right mitten, 11 sts up from rib.
- start decrease 10 rows up from tip of maple leaf for ladies size small.
- I found it easiest to add the maple leaf pattern before the decreases were started for the mitten top.


© 2010 by Darcie Story Orth
This pattern is for personal use only: no commercial uses are permitted.
Not to be reprinted without permission.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Creating the Next Generation of Fibre Fanatics

So Susan and I went back to Katie's youth group for part 2 of the fibre and spinning lessons.

Wouldn't it be great if we could have shown them more than just pictures of how sheep were sheared?

Here Susan is giving a brief demonstration on how wool is combed.
When we gave each of the girls a drop spindle and some pencil roving to spin themselves I unfortunately got too busy helping to take more pictures. Susan, however, has some great pictures and a better blog post about the evening. The girls had a great time with the spindles and a number of them asked where they could get one (no, sorry Walmart doesn't carry them). Wouldn't it have also been great if we could have let the girls keep them?

And just for good measure, here is a picture that I took a couple of weeks ago at my spinning class. Our instructor, Chandra (centre in pic), is doing it as a fibre study and I am learning a TON.

Monday, March 8, 2010

At Least I am Appreciated Some of the Time

It has only taken me a couple of years, but my knitting is finally starting to branch out from just socks. Good thing. My sock drawer was getting pretty full.

I made a hat for Christopher that he liked so much that he requested mittens made from the same camo yarn. This is the first hat that he has ever had that actually comes home with him from school so I was quick to teach myself how to make the mittens.
He likes them so much that he tries to sleep with them on, but then can't figure out why they are off and lost in the bedding in the morning. I am just thrilled that the kid is actually wearing hats and mitts. Too bad I didn't have them done last January when it was -30 C and he would stuff his hat and mitts into his back pack the moment he was out of the door and on his way to school.

The dogs figure that as soon as anyone sits on the floor that it is an invitation to play so Christopher has a lap full of dogs here.

My sister Susan and I were asked to give a bit of a fibre demo to a youth group that Katie belongs to. So I dyed up a bunch of pencil roving in very bright colours. Every time that I saw it hanging to dry I immediately thought of Bob Marley.
After a brief mini lesson on fibre and knitting we got the girls to each take an end of some roving and twist it so that it would ply back on itself. We started out making friendship bracelets, but the girls enjoyed it so much that they were soon making head bands, necklaces and anklets from it as well.
We are going back in a couple of weeks to teach the girls how to spin on a drop spindle and play a bit with spinning wheels. Susan also has a blog post from this evening with pictures and some more details.

And how to please an 11 year old on his birthday....
video games and Nerf guns.
Happy Birthday, Christopher!

Monday, March 1, 2010

O Canada, Eh?

After riding a two week wave of euphoria Canada is suffering from a hang over. We are satisfied, sated and filled with national pride. Some of the international media can't figure out why we are behaving so "Un-Canadian".


Canadians have always have always been deeply, passionately patriot and proud to be Canadian. It just took the Olympics for us to join together as one voice and tell the world how we feel.

I have been saying it in my own small way for years now.

But I think the organizers of the closing ceremonies must have read my blog entry from the day after the Canada Day post. Flying moose, giant beavers and William Shatner doing "My name is Bill, and I am a Canadian". Our friends south of the 49th parallel may have been scratching their heads, but Canadians were loving it.

THE hot item in Canada lately has been the red Vancouver Olympic mittens.
Katie wants a pair in the worst possible way, but no-way, no-how were we able to find some for her. Aside, that is, from somebody on EBay wanting $250 for a pair. Dallas did manage to order a couple of large pair from the Olympic store online before they completely sold out, but they come up to Katie's little elbows.

So I found a pattern for Maple Leaf Mittens and decided to make her some. The next challenge was trying to find red and white yarn in the right weight. I obviously wasn't the only person trying to knit with national pride in mind. However, after trying to do the intarsia in the round for the 3rd time and having to rip them out I think I will have to go with duplicate stitch.
(And yes, the hockey sticks wrapped with maple leaf tape just happened to be stuck in the snow in the back yard.)

As I was outside taking the pictures I happened to look over to the kids' playhouse which proudly flies the Maple Leaf. Katie must have been thinking about the upcoming Olympics last fall when she wrote with chalk  "Welcome everybuddy".

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Valentine's Momcation

I love my momcations.

My dh Dallas took the kids to visit Grandpa so the dogs and I got to stay at home in a quiet house for a couple of days. Don't get me wrong - I really love Grandpa, too. But I crave the peace (not to mention being able to keep the house clean for more than half an hour) just too much to pass up the opportunity. So I worked on the Etsy shop a bit, spun a bit, knit a bit, watched the Olympics a bit (kd lang singing Hallelujah made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up), but mostly did some fibre dyeing. It is hanging around all over the house right now drying.

I finished plying the superwash merino a little while ago...
I ended up going with a two-ply. It is very much a lace weight and I still don't know what I am going to do with it yet. There is LOTS of it.

I also tried my hand at dyeing and spinning silk for the first time. This is 50/50 merino silk.

It is so soft that it called out to be wrapped around my neck. So I am knitting it up into the Falling Water Lace Scarf by Bonnie Sennott, my first try at lace knitting also.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Must Have Been a Very Good Girl This Year

I am only over a month late, but better late than never. Santa was very, very good to me at Christmas.

It seems that I received most of my Christmas presents before the big day - a Bamboo pad that I saw when we were out shopping one day, a set of Hiya Hiya interchangable circulars that dh Dallas purchased for me when we were in my LYS, a new printer when my old one died (I still say that it wasn't a present since having a working printer isn't a luxury, but a necessity for me), a new cordless mouse (ditto about the printer), a subscription to Spin Off which I found out about early since Dallas didn't want the promotional emails going to him so he used my email address, my sister's drum carder that I purchased off her when she bought her new electric one. So when I saw a large, strange-shaped present under the tree with my name on it I had no idea what it could possibly be.

I had a good laugh when I opened it on Christmas morning. It was a bulletin board with pictures of all my presents.

And then out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed something else (I was holding it upside down at that point, afterall)...

Confusion led to realization, realization led to speachlessness, which led to (okay, I admit it) tears.

I never in a million years expected a Majacraft Rose, which is the wheel that I had decided would be my next one when the time was right. It just seemed like a complete indulgence when there are so many other places for the money to go to. Like bills, groceries, the kid's activities...  The list goes on and on.

 My sister Susan was in on it, of course.

Have I mentioned lately that I am married to the most wonderful man in the world?

And just for good measure, here are the kids emptying out their stockings on Christmas morning.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's a Marshmallow World

It's been awhile since my last blog post. My only excuse is that I have been lazy. Winter does that to me.

Old Man Winter really made his presence known in the last few days. We had a 3 day blizzard which by its end dumped more snow in a couple of days than we usually get all January. The only saving grace is that it wasn't especially cold - just lots of snow and lots of wind. Often when we get a blizzard it seems that the wind ends up blowing the snow most of the way to Toronto. This time it stuck around making us housebound since last Friday.

We are a pretty hardy bunch here in Saskatchewan. No matter how bad the conditions are life goes on pretty much like normal, but my dh didn't even try to make it out of out crescent to go to work this morning. For the first time in 10 years the school buses weren't running. Schools were open, though. Good thing we are close enough that we could send the kids off walking with warnings about not going into any snow drifts. They were all set to protest being made to go to school until I pointed out that there wouldn't be very many kids there and therefore it would pretty much be a day of watching movies and playing in the gym.

Our backyard is very sheltered so this is a lot of snow to see back there. We shoveled out a little path for the dogs to get out there.
And in true Saskatchewan-hardy style I eventually shoveled out the deck so that we could bar-be-que for supper.

I actually took these pictures this morning, but I have been fighting to get my computer to recognize my camera all day. It seems Windows 7 doesn't like the Canon software very much.