Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Weaver In The House And Other Summer Fun

Hurricane Ivan abruptly ended my weaving aspirations in 2004.

Immediately before the hurricane, I found a small floor loom at an estate sale. With Caroline's help, I'd started my first weaving project. A rank beginner, I knew I enjoyed weaving enough to bring home the 36 inch wide Leclerc loom I found shortly after starting to weave. I even ordered a few cones of cotton for a future weaving project. However, the hurricane destroyed my estate sale loom and severely damaged the Leclerc. The box of weaving cotton had to find me at a temporary residence for it arrived when I no longer had a home.

After the hurricane, we salvaged as many pieces of the Leclerc as we could find and I stored the 8/2 cotton in a cabinet. Every mother's day since, Kurt would spend the day refinishing, rebuilding and constructing parts lists for the Leclerc. Finally, this Mother's Day, Kurt finished my loom and only handed me a short list of parts still needed. The last handful of parts arrived this summer.

With Kurt looking at me with expectation, I knew I remembered nothing from my weaving lessons years ago. But I have some books and a couple of videos. I started watching videos and asking questions on Christian Artisans. My son Gregory, watched videos with me. He started watching the videos without me. He dug out his Easy Weaver. I pondered weaving and he started weaving.

This morning he woke me up to ask me for help taking his second project off his loom. Not only is he weaving, but he has already mastered a couple of patterns using a pick up stick - and he doesn't have a pick up stick! He is using one of my stick shuttles. The project pictured above is to be a runner for his shelf headboard, though it still needs to be blocked. He wants to make a matching one for his little brother and has planned a purse for his sister. He already wants a bigger loom. In fact he is dreaming about the 24" Kromski Harp.

In the meantime I am using some of the weaving planning materials available free at Heritage Yarns and waiting on a beginner's weaving kit from them.

I've done quite a bit of knitting this summer. I am still working on the weekly clues for the Mystery Stole 3. I gave the Lead or Follow stole (also available at Heritage Yarns) to its recipient.

She genuinely appreciated the gift. The scarf turned out quite lovely.

This is the scarf that was on my blocking frame in my last post.

I've also filled my freezer from my garden. We grew GIANT zucchini and summer squash this year!

The basket holding the zucchini is from my chest freezer and is longer than 18". These zucchini are well over a foot long. They were amazing! We ended up giving quite a few of them away and the chickens have feasted on them too. The tomatoes and hot peppers didn't do very well this year, but we sure did get some cucumbers. I even made my first pickles.

Our pastor's oldest son decided on an impromptu wedding and reception this summer. As a result, church members scrambled to provide everything. Since I have a pretty nice digital camera (but NO talent), I took pictures. This last weekend, a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary asked if I would bring my camera to their party. I think I've become the unofficial church photographer. (Did I mention I have NO talent for taking pictures?) Me taking pictures reminds me of the bible verse where God uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. My strategy has been to take as many pictures as possible and hope by random chance, some of them will turn out. I snapped a couple of shots of my kids at the anniversary party which I will post for the sake of my family on the west coast.

Gregory thought his smile goofy, but I wouldn't heed his request to take a gazillion pictures of him until we got it right.

My kids are not allowed to eat junk food at parties. So Gabrielle decided to make sandwiches from the fruit and crackers she found.

She is eating with her side teeth because her front teeth are too sensitive. Too bad, because she has fruit juice all over her face. Otherwise, these pictures of her would have been pretty nice.

Michael is so funny. He doesn't like the flash of the camera. When he sees the camera, he closes his eyes in anticipation.

I had to surprise him to get a picture with his eyes open.

Even Michael ate healthy. Here he is gnawing on a carrot.

I really need to get a flash for my camera if I am going to continue to take pictures at church. They are so expensive though. For now however, I can blame my complete lack of talent as a photographer on the lack of a flash and turn my lack of proper equipment into a benefit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Simple Blocking Frame Construction

A couple of people have asked about my blocking frame. This idea came originally from one of the ladies involved in a KAL for the Legends of the Shetland Seas stole. She shared the idea freely so I do not think she would mind me sharing it too.

My husband constructed my frame and I am going to try to remember how he did it. I am not a handy kind of person so you will have to call upon your own intelligence to figure out what I mean to say from what I actually might say.

The frame is constructed from 4 long 1X2 pieces of wood.

The length depends upon how adjustable you want it to be. The two cross pieces have a bolt of some sort drilled into both ends which sticks out and feeds through holes drilled through the face of the vertical pieces at regular intervals (like every 4 to 6 inches). You can see the holes in the above picture in the far end vertical piece.

Normally I keep the blocking frame broken down into 4 pieces. I simply slide these pieces under the couch in the living room until I am ready to do some blocking. Then when it is time to block, I lay out the pieces as best I can on the floor. I feed the attached end bolts on the horizontal pieces through the holes on the vertical pieces and secure with a wing nut and washer.

I can block my knitting with the frame laying on the floor or standing up, depending on the circumstances. For the Lead or Follow scarf presently on my frame, I lashed it to blocking wires I first fed through the edges (for a straight edge) with crochet cotton.

Because I used blocking wires, this shawl was easier to lash while the frame laid on the ground. With pointy bordered stoles, I have lashed while the frame stood propped against the wall. I typically block my lace pretty severely and you can see how my cross beams have bowed as a result.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer of Lace

I am completely enthralled with the Mystery Stole 3 KAL! We started knitting about a week and a half ago and so have received 2 parts (clues) of the shawl to date. It has been taking me about 2 days to knit each clue, which gives me too much time in between Friday clue releases. Here is my shawl through clue two:

I am knitting it in ebony Zephyr on size 4 Addi lace needles. I am also using silver lined crystal beads as indicated in the instructions. The stole is so beautiful so far. It makes me wonder if I can knit just one.

I actually joined the KAL about two weeks prior to the release of the first clue. All the lace talk got me too excited so I started the Lead or Follow scarf in teal Zephyr to give to a very sweet lady at church who has been especially kind to my family. I would have liked to have finished the scarf before the MS3 actually started, but I didn't make it. I did manage to finish it off in between clues 1 and 2 though so that was good.

It is quite pretty. I have it blocking on the frame Kurt made for me when I knitted the Legend of the Shetland Seas stole.

I've been doing a great deal of organization and rearranging around the house (which is not as good as it seems since it is truly "a drop in the bucket" of what needs to be done). We moved into this house when I was 8 months pregnant and so I never got all the unpacking and settling in stuff finished. I've picked some of that back up recently. I also moved Michael upstairs into his bedroom with Gregory and out of the small office off the master bedroom. With lace knitting filling my mind right now, I immediately turned the little area where Michael once slept into a knitting nook.

I'm still working on the area. I've had to make due with stuff we already had. I would really like to get a "real" end table to hold my knitting charts and my stuff. In fact, I actually found one I liked that would fit in the little space just perfectly. Unfortunately it is really not in the budget at this time. But it is fun to contemplate the possibilities.

I've actually had another [couple] lace projects in the works as well. I've been knitting the Lady's Circular Cape from Victorian Lace Today for awhile now.

I'm about three quarters of the way through the main part of the pattern and then I will need to add a border. It looks a bit small to me. Hopefully blocking will take care of it. I'm knitting this from my homespun corriedale and alpaca yarn.

I have done a bit of spinning this summer. I've spun up a couple of skeins of bulky yarn from some polworth I picked up at the Destin Spin In this year.

I am hoping to eventually spin the remaining yarn necessary and then weave a nice, large, cozy shawl for myself on my triloom.

I've also been plugging away on what seems like the ever ongoing knitting project in my life, soakers.

Michael continues to grow and I continue to knit soakers to accommodate him. This is the third one I've done this summer and I really need to do a few more. Most of the soakers I've done have had color work on them, but sometimes I just want a plain one for under some of his clothes.

I am actually very grateful. I haven't knit this much since before Hurricane Ivan altered our lives forever. "Normal," albeit a new normal, seems to be back in my life again. Of course my children have been wonderful about helping with the animals and around the house and Michael is getting older and requires a bit less of my attention and that helps too. And I have pretty much passed the responsibility for the bees onto Kurt too.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer Fun

Presently, "Six" is my favorite movie. It is a Christian movie, which is pretty much all we watch these days. One of the main characters, whose name I cannot recall, but who is portrayed by David White, takes the mark of the beast, a chip injected under his skin which somehow or another affects his thoughts and behavior. As he sits in "orientation" he remembers his prior life as though it were a dream.

I find myself slipping into a similar mode lately, especially with regard to Internet service. I remember a time when we had access to high speed Internet, though the memory of loading pictures quickly or skimming web pages in rapid succession seems a hazy dream to me now. I know we once lived a 21st century life, but it seems long ago and far away.

But I digress. I have been loading pictures onto my digital camera faster than I can manage to convince myself to load them onto the Internet. But, having joined the Mystery Stole 3 KAL, I determined I would update my blog with the pictures I've been hoarding on my camera and start afresh with some knitting content hereafter.

I've actually started quite a few projects this Spring and Summer, many of which languish, but a few of which I've actually finished. For example, I spun some bulky yarn from fiber and fleece from my friend Cary at Serenity Farms. I then wove a triangle shawl with it for my friend Irene, who's birthday was June 1.

I also carded and started spinning some corriedale fiber (again from Serenity Farms) and some alpaca from my friend Diane at Funny River Ranch for a capelet pattern from "Victorian Lace Today."

For whatever reason, the fiber wants to fight while I want to spin, but I will tame it yet.

I'm well underway with this project, but have no pictures today.

Late Spring and Summer bring family event madness. We started our annual summer family outings with a trip back to the old neighborhood in Gulf Breeze for a park day hosted by Calvary Chapel Gulf Breeze.

They had a karate exhibition and lots of blow up stuff for the kids.

Of course Gregory loves jousting.

But the heat soon drove everyone to the water.

Even Gregory left the jousting when he ran out of people available to knock him around.

Despite my best efforts to foist Michael into his Dad's care for the day, I ended up walking him around the park and teaching him about the pleasures of climbing into closed in, hot spaces filled with strange children literally bouncing off the walls.

Next on the agenda was the Museum open house which we attend every year. However, due to an unfortunate incident between me and a pool deck board, we missed this year. But, thanks to the good make-up training I received in MK and while growing up in Las Vegas, I covered enough of my facial bruises to manage a day with the family at the Blueberry Festival.

I had several pictures from the festival, but how many times can you look at pictures of my family looking around booths? If you've seen the above photo, the others look similar. Frankly, I went solely for the purpose of picking up a couple of cases of cheap blueberries. That afternoon I turned them into preserves for all of the toast to be consumed in our family during the 12 months until the next festival.

I did snap a couple pictures of Michael though because he looked too cute in his little hat.

Also, taking pictures was a good excuse to foist Michael onto his father for awhile. After all, it is hot in Southern Alabama in June and pushing a heavy toddler around on loose dirt is really no fun.

Kurt and I celebrated our 12th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Knowing there was no way to break away from the kids for a romantic get away (Michael goes insane when separated from us. I would let him cry it out, but babysitters don't seem to be prepared for the trauma of his fits. He has just enough autistic tendencies to be scary when he wants. sigh.), Kurt and I made the best of it and invited our closest friends in Brewton for an afternoon at our favorite Pensacola Beach restaurant and then a trip to the fish market.

Darlene has been trying to curry Michael's favor since she teaches Sunday school to the 2 year olds at church. We already have an agreement. When Michael reaches the age of 2 in a couple of months, I will put him in her class and she will keep him no matter how purple he makes himself as he rages. I've got to get the kid willing to separate from me for at least short periods of time! Michael watched me carefully as I stepped back from the table far enough to take a picture.

The men, Kurt and Tim, hung out and ate.

Lately, Gabrielle has been taking care of Michael in the mornings. The like to share her breakfast together.

Like most kids, Michael is most interested in eating what is on the plates of others. I had some really cute pictures lined up, but somehow I forgot to turn off my camera after last using it and it got banged around and somehow the timer turned itself on. I kept trying to take pictures and the 10 second delay kept messing up the shots. I finally pushed enough buttons randomly to fix the problem, though I am not sure I could do it again.

Last weekend, Gabrielle celebrated her eighth birthday.

We invited a couple families from church over for swimming, barbecue chicken and strawberry shortcake. Everyone had fun.

Gabrielle got to spend the day with some of her favorite people and all the young people wore themselves out swimming to the delight of their parents.

We even managed to surprise Gabrielle with set 2 of her Elsie books. We spent a year hunting down this set and she had no idea I'd finally found it. Unfortunately for Gabrielle, she is dying for me to read them to her, but last week the MS3 KAL started. . .