Friday, January 27, 2006

Each year during the last week in January, spinners and fiber fanatics gather at the Seascape Resort in Destin, Florida for the annual Spin In.

The Spin In offers lots of shopping. . .

Spinning, knitting and good company.

And a great deal of silliness.

One group dressed up a variety of stuffed animals and declared them delegates from around the globe.

The theme for the Spin In this year was "Birds of a Feather." So in addition to "Why did the chicken cross the road?" jokes, there were many other feather filled activities.

Gabrielle, who accompanied me to help take care of Michael, took charge of our duck call.

Michael hung out with the spinners and charmed them all with most excellent manners. The prayers of my Christian Artisans friends truly availed much in this regard!

Among other things, Gabrielle discovered she loves to shop. She bought a spindle and some fiber and Sally tried to teach her to spin. Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries soon after I arrived at the Spin In so I did not get a picture of this. But praise God, some of the Florida group went to lunch and brought back some more batteries for me so all photo opportunities were not lost.

Gabrielle found this cute stuffed Sheepie which she had to have. Sheepie really went through it too. After allowing Gabrielle to have more cookies than was good for her (and King cake and candy), she got a little wild and tried to ride sheepie.

Sally and Teresa from our Florida group are excellent spinners and extremely nice ladies. I am very blessed whenever I spend time with them as well as all of the Florida panhandle spinners.

I love door prizes. This year I am positive I received the absolute best door prize offered. Sharon, another spinner, put together this neat basket with a Sheepie for me, some cotton, a tahkli and a spinning bowl too. My tahkli had rusted in the hurricane so it was neat to receive another. The basket now sits next to the rocking chair by the fireplace and holds my knitting projects. I just love this door prize.

The one thing I had hoped to buy while at Spin In was a spindle Kate I saw last year. This one is not as ornate as the ones I remembered, but it is still a very neat contraption and I believe it will work much better than the shoe box I have been using to date. It is from a business called Wooden Ewe. She also makes lovely spindles. Gabrielle bought one of her spindles and brought one home for Gregory as well. Both children lost spindles in the hurricane and so we finally replaced them.

I hadn't planned to buy these, but I've been doing some organizing of my stash and tools lately and have a lack of storage options. Many of the ladies who bought these baskets during Spin Ins past rave about them so I picked up a medium and a small one. They actually have straps for carrying on your back. There is a strap which will allow the basket to be hung from a peg on the wall which is what I presently intend to do. These baskets are actually quite large and hold a great deal.

I fully intended to purchase this new Bosworth Spindle. Each year at Spin In I bring home a new Bosworth spindle. This is a very fun tradition I maintain each year. Suzanne from Fire Ant Ranch who carries the Bosworth Spindles also has fiber. When I saw the pretty teal mohair curls, I couldn't stop myself. Then, Suzanne made sure I had the first right of refusal for additional fiber she unearthed with the same colors. What can I say. I'm a sucker for all things teal.

In addition, this wool, alpaca, camel/merino, and merino/tencel followed me home. I found these items while I shopped for my Christian Artisans secret sister gift. I really hadn't planned to bring home any more fiber but justified it since I have not spun these kinds of fiber before, well except for the alpaca, but she is a local fiber producer and I wanted to support her business.

There was only one thing I didn't like about the Destin Spin In this year and that was the fact that I could only attend one day. It was so much fun and way too short! I am definitely looking forward to next year!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

For so long I've been working on my Legends of the Shetland Seas Stole.

But for the grafting of the border, I am finished with the knitting. Before starting this stole, I fully intended to knit the Peacock from Fiddlesticks. However, peer pressure swayed me and I joined a KAL for the LOTSS. Since I won't allow myself to knit more than one shawl at a time (for fear I will fail to finish something), I have lived with that decision for years. Boy does it feel good to be so close to the end of this stole!

As the knitting of my LOTSS drew to a conclusion, I enjoyed planning my next shawl project. I poured over the Fiddlesticks website and even purchased yarn for the Peacock shawl. Can you guess what happened next?


My friend Cary from Christian Artisans started talking about a wonderful group to which she belonged called EZ as Pi. Apparently a sucker for peer pressure, I joined the group. They were getting ready to start a Pi shawl KAL. A visit to Lisa Souza's website brought me some incredibly soft merino yarn in the South Pacific colorway and now I find myself in the middle of another shawl KAL, knitting a different shawl than the one I planned.

I chose a plain Pi because the yarn is so colorful and because after the LOTSS, I needed a bit of a break. I also feel like I need to boost my confidence in my ability to finish things in time periods not measured by years.

The colors of my Pi are very cheerful. If I can get this done in a reasonable period of time, I am considering giving it to my sister as a gift. She is sick all of the time and I hope it might cheer her up a bit. I haven't decided for sure because she has the worst allergies and I'm not sure if she can handle wool. Then, I also have a dog and I know she is allergic to all types of pets. I worry some dog hair might inadvertently find its way into the knitting of the shawl. I have been praying for her while I knit it though. She needs prayer and this shawl provides a good reminder for me to do it regularly. If you feel so led, please pray for Michelle. She is so sick all of the time and has so many problems. She is on so many medications which impact her in so many major ways.

I found a really great sock kit from Blackberry Ridge for my next sock project. However, I got distracted with some sock yarn from Lorna's Laces in the Watercolor colorway and started socks with it instead.

The two skeins of yarn have subtle color differences. I like the golds and pinks in the socks very much, but I prefer the colors of the first sock to the colors of the second.

I'm supposed to be knitting socks for my mother. She picked out some yarn and I ordered it back in the first half of December. I'm still waiting for the yarn. Needless to say I won't be doing business with this company any longer. It has recently had a change of ownership and is WAY too slow for me.

There is good news and bad news about the alpaca/silk sweater I knit for Michael. The good news is it fits after all.

In fact, he looks adorable in it. Unfortunately, after he wore it one time, I hand washed it with some light blue socks. The dye in the socks had apparently not been set right. The sweater came out with blotches of blue all over it. This time the dye set just fine and I couldn't get the blue off of the sweater.

When the going gets tough, I tend to get impulsive. So I figured I'd just dye the whole sweater blue. Not having any "real" dye, I grabbed a bottle of blue food color and some vinegar. That left the sweater a blotchy teal color. I really liked the teal color since teal IS my favorite color, but the blotchyness was AWFUL. So I dyed and redyed until all of the blue food color in the house had been used as well as half of the Wiltons dye. The sweater is blue, but it is still blotchy. The worst blotch is right in the center front.

How depressing is that? After months of inconstant knitting, the sweater is ruined after only one wearing. I suppose it is good that we appear to be having an early end to winter this year.

The Christian Artisans ladies are in the middle of a secret sister fiber swap. This has been so much fun! My secret sister was Melissa and she sent me some GORGEOUS fiber in the greens and blues we both love.

Not only is this fiber beautiful, but it is so soft! I have GOT to get at my spinning wheel soon!!!

When I found out I was pregnant, I decided I wasn't going to spend a bunch of money on baby toys since Michael would probably be the last child for us. But he loves his toys so much.

I am apparently incapable of sticking to my resolutions because we can barely walk in our house for stepping over the baby stuff.

Here is Michael playing with his new floor gym. Neither Gregory nor Gabrielle ever had one of these. Of course, they weren't as interested in these sorts of things like Michael either.

Michael wants to be held almost constantly. I will confess I like that I can distract him with fancy toys for a few minutes here and there, which allows me to do things like teach Gregory piano and do laundry, housework and cooking. As for knitting, most of it gets done in the late hours after everyone else goes to bed. Many mothers with small children walk around like zombies because their infants keep them awake at night. My knitting keeps me awake at night more often than not.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

In December, I resolved to blog more often. Yet, here it is at least 3 weeks since my last update. Naturally, I thus have a camera full of pictures.

I wanted to finish all of my WIPs before the New Year. I did manage to finish Kurt's sweater in time, but nothing else. Then after stressing myself out trying to accomplish my goal, I set a New Year's Resolution: I will set no more knitting goals! My family needs me, not a knitting fiend with some imaginary deadline to meet. Sheesh!

The WIPs continue. This week, I finished the alpaca and silk sweater I started for Michael while I was pregnant.

I mutilated the original pattern so much to use a completely different yarn (the original design required a bulky yarn) it is unrecognizable. (This sweater has a very fine yarn and a gauge of 7 or so stitches per inch.) I also changed the edges from a curled up stockinette to seed stitch. I think the arms ended up WAY too long, but I haven't tried it on Michael yet. At least he has longer than normal arms. Otherwise, perhaps there is a deserving chimpanzee out there somewhere.

We had a great CHRISTMAS. Not "holiday," CHRISTMAS! I tell my children Christmas is a big birthday party for Jesus. Since we are all born again/saved, Jesus lives in our hearts. Thus, when we give each other presents, we give them to Jesus.

Well, it works for us.

Our wonderful friends Barbara and Dave delighted the children with gifts this Christmas. Gregory now has an airplane which effortlessly flies into the highest of our trees, thus blessing Kurt with the opportunity to climb trees and reclaim his childhood.

Gabrielle's new game shoots paper butterflies into the air which then must be caught with little butterfly nets.

The kids received some very nice presents from us this year with the remaining insurance money from the hurricane. Gregory has a new train set (which technically replaces his lost Thomas Trains).

Gabrielle now has a new kitchen set. She really loves cooking and all things food.

We also discovered an 18" doll for Gabrielle based upon Christian novels written in the 19th century. Her name is Elsie.

Of course since Gabrielle has her own kitchen in her bedroom now, she needed a cake to throw birthday parties.

And food, which she used to open her own restaurant upstairs.

Gregory enjoys weaving so I splurged on this Harrisville children's loom. I figure if he doesn't use it, I will!

Gregory LOVES robots. He couldn't contain his excitement when he opened his programmable robot kit.

Michael now has the latest in baby toys for the three month old.

While Kurt, who is boringly practical, liked his new clothes and tools.

Gregory bought me a beautiful necklace and Gabrielle gave me some lovely candles. For my main Christmas present however, I ordered a new, larger triangle loom from Running Moon Farm. (I also put my got my name on a waiting list for something else special.) They make beautiful looms! And since they were hit pretty hard this past year by Hurricane Rita, I like being able to give them my business right now. If you've been thinking you might like a triangle loom, I cannot recommend them highly enough! They should also have some really nice Gulf Coast Native (rare breed) fiber in the near future. I would so like to see them blessed with as much business as they can handle as they rebuild their farm and recover!

We had our second annual family New Year's Eve party this year.

Gabrielle and I make lots of good snacks and punch. The guys are in charge of fireworks. Then we play board games until midnight, when it is time for the fireworks. This year we played the Bible edition of Outburst. The girls won.

We received an unexpected blessing recently. One of the ladies from Christian Artisans passed through Pensacola on her way to Texas.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity, we all drove down to Pensacola to meet her for lunch. Michael is all dressed up in some of his best hand made apparell.

I bundled Michael up for winter and he we were greeted instead by a lovely Spring like day.

After a wonderful lunch at O'Charleys with Dale and her friend Connie, everyone posed for pictures. Dale is a wonderful lady and I am so glad I met her in person. I really liked Connie too. Lunch just wasn't long enough.

Connie actually talked me into having my picture taken too, but once I saw the pictures, I had to delete them. Sorry Theresa, Melissa and all of my other Christian Artisans friends, but I couldn't do it.