Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pondering Christmas

I finally got the care package of warmth off to my brother in Germany. I'm so glad I finished. He tells me the weather has not been too cold yet so perhaps I am in time. Now it is time for me to start thinking about Christmas knitting.

I loved the patterned watch cap I made my brother David so much that I immediately cast on another one in pink and white for Gabrielle for Christmas.

Christmas knitting is so challenging because the kids are always around. Gregory has asked no less than 3 times what I am working on and I have dissembled. Gabrielle has not inquired so far.

I'm still working on my two MS4 stoles. The first one is for me and I finished through clue 5 before the KAL ended. I have one clue to do and then the grafting. The stole has been sitting idle since I found out about the grafting. However, the second stole is supposed to be a gift and so I have taken it from clue 2 to almost the end of clue 4.

Once I have both stoles to the same place, I will tackle clue 6 and the grafting. I am not looking forward to that day. (Week? Month?)

I finally pulled the first skein of yarn made from the mystery fiber gifted to me by Denise last year off my spinning wheel.

I love this yarn. It is Navajo plied and was both spun and plied on my Wyatt Pegasus wheel. I still have another bobbin full of singles to ply.

After I finish my mystery fiber, I think I may spin the Romney Michael and I dyed when Kurt moved to Foley. I love the way it turned out.

I still don't know what I can do with a pound of this, but I would like to make something for me since these are some of my favorite colors.

The kids finally re-skeined their yarn and they both have fabulous skeins from our dyeing day. Who knew you could get such nice colors from food coloring.

They want to make socks, but their sock knitting is going slow. Sock knitting wasn't as easy as they thought it would be. They are still knitting their flat, garter stitch pieces and I am glad they are still interested in knitting. I suppose one is never too young to start a knitting stash.

After church last week, I brought home some more of the material Mark scored from the closing factory where he works.

I gave everyone a chance to get what they wanted and then grabbed the remaining pink fabric. Now my fabric stash is larger than the storage facilities I have for it. I guess we'll have to move.

I'm thinking I'll do some sewing for Christmas. The only problem with sewing is that it is even more obvious than knitting. Gregory wants a vest for dressier occasions (like Christmas) and I was thinking I'd like to make them brother, sister, brother outfits for Christmas. I just can't figure out how to do stealthy sewing though. But Christmas is coming and I really need to get a plan together for it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

To Germany

I FINALLY finished the items for my brother David's care package destined for Germany where he presently attends the Calvary Chapel Bible College. I know it is cold and I feel bad that it took me so long to get done. However, I hope to have his package in the mail by early next week.

In addition to the blue hat I finished a month ago, I knit another hat in black and gray with black fingerless gloves to match.

Here is a closer view of the fingerless gloves.

This is the same pattern I've used the last couple of Christmases to make presents for my husband and oldest son. But the hat was my first time through the pattern and I love it.

It is from the book, "Hats On" by Charlene Schurch. I loved the pattern so much I have already cast on for another of these hats in pink for Gabrielle for Christmas. Moths got into the hat and mittens I made for her last Christmas. (Didn't know we had to worry about those critters here in the south.)

I also wove a scarf for my brother.

This is the Heritage Yarns free pattern called "Calvary Twill." I don't see the crosses the printed pattern depicts, but I like the pattern very much all the same.

While I will admit the weaving is amateurish, I love the scarf all the same and hope my brother will like it okay too. If he gets cold enough the scarf is made with alpaca and that is warm.

My friend Darlene came over this morning with a lovely surprise. Her husband works for a clothing manufacturing company which has moved to South America. They are closing everything down here in the states and throwing away lots of fabric remnants. Her husband Mark saved some from the trash bin.

These are mostly stretch fabric. Not pictured are a couple rolls of sheer black material like a fine netting. It would make a pretty over skirt. One of the natural colored rolls has a fleece like backing and would make nice sweats.

Darlene then took me to church where Mark had deposited lots more fabric for anyone who wanted it. I tried to restrain myself but came away with probably 100 pounds.

The turquoise fabric in the brown paper is a 50 pound package and I'm sure the rest of it, pink, purple and white, equals that. They are all medium weight knit. I had been in the middle of ordering a dress pattern from Butterick that required knit fabric when Darlene arrived and through her the Lord provided plenty of the required fabric before I'd hit the "send" button. I love the Lord's provision! (And I left far more than I took so I didn't deprive anyone else at church who might want some so I don't feel bad at all about it even if I probably have more fabric now than I could sew in a lifetime. And Gabrielle insists that I share with her anyway.)

The turkeys are out free ranging today. They are very social so while we unloaded the fabric from the car, we were surrounded.

They look so big right now.

I keep thinking they must be ready for the table. But Kurt picked one up and they are only about 10 pounds. I want them to be at least twice that by the time we process them. In the meantime, Michael loves to talk to them.

If you say "gobble, gobble" to the turkeys, they will respond in kind. It can keep Michael entertained for a long time.

I've been doing a great deal of weaving lately and Gregory has been watching. He is ready to learn to use his floor loom too. But we can't figure out exactly how to tie and wind the yarn onto the back beam.

I don't have a sectional back beam so we are learning together. I suppose we have to tie on to the rod in the picture, but that would seem to create a lot of loom waste. We don't have a spool rack or a tension box, but Margaret from Heritage Yarns tells me we don't absolutely need one to use the loom. Gregory is so excited he has already wound a warp. I think it is going to be too small if we have to tie directly to the beam rod. He only intended to do a sampler, but still.

My calender says Christmas is coming. Now that I am ready to send off my brother's care package, I need to figure out what I am going to do about family Christmas knitting. Or weaving. . .

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Camping Pictures

It has been awhile since I updated my blog, but I spent time last week, and part of this week, in "The New AT&T" hell and haven't been online much as a result. "The New AT&T" took over as provider for our telephone and Internet service. I'm not sure they are any better or worse than anyone else, but when my telephone service (and thus Internet service) went out last week, it was hell.

First of all, my telephone line just went dead. Right in the middle of trying to get online. I spent hours doing as I've been taught by the phone company in outages past. I unplugged all the telephone jacks. Then I plugged them back in. When that didn't work, I unplugged them all again and also moved furniture (including a heavy computer hutch) and unplugged all the electricity to anything with telephone line access. I tried the line. Nothing. I unplugged again and left everything off longer. Still nothing.

We've become very frugal over the last year and as such, we have no cell phones or anything other contact with the world. So I loaded the kids into the car and drove to church to use a telephone to call for repairs. After the customary computer system automated service and lengthy hold time, I finally got a live person who told me in no uncertain terms the phone problem was my responsibility. She ran a check and could find nothing wrong on her end. She said I did NOT have coverage to have my inside wiring checked and if I dared to want such service they would have to empty my bank account at a minimum. She then told me to go home and unplug everything and when I plugged it back in, all would be fixed. I could almost see the smug expression on her face when she told me it was in all likelihood my computer messing up the phone lines.

The kids and I drove back home dejected and I wondered if I had anything I could pawn in order to afford the cost of bringing out a repair person. I meekly followed instructions and unplugged everything again. I waited well over an hour before plugging anything back in. Still. Nothing.

Since my husband now resides in another town and only comes home on Sundays, I couldn't call him for help. I had to do something. I thought I could get a cell phone and just cancel the phone service since it was obviously never going to work again.

I finally decided I would call the telephone company again and figure out a way to pay their exorbitant fees since I was obviously incapable of the simple maneuvers that would restore my telephone to service.

I loaded the children back into my car and we set off again. This time I noticed one of my neighbors was home. I knocked at her door and asked to use her phone. At least this time the unreasonable hold time gave me a chance to visit with my newly retired neighbor.

After finally reaching another live human being, I begged for a repair person to be dispatched. Warned again of the imminent financial ruin which must accompany such a request, I felt my stomach turn. But, I committed. I asked when I could expect a repair person and was told it would be anytime within 48 hours. I got the impression I should have been grateful to be scheduled for a repair at all and should not dare hope for the courtesy of a more definite time.

Finally, at the end of the window of time given, the repair man knocked at my door. Convinced the problem was mine, he tested the inside lines. Shock took over his face as he determined the problem was not mine, but theirs. He "ahemmed" and coughed and told me he would look for the problem. He found it in a span of line between the poles.

Telling me he had not brought wire to repair the problem, he would make a temporary fix and call someone to come out the following week. The temporary fix was funny. He left a long orange wire, like one of those outdoor electric cords, strung over bushes and across the road connecting the lines at the two telephone polls. We had to drive over it anytime we left the house. My friend Darlene noticed it and said it was the most "red necked" repair she had ever seen.

More than a week after the problem began, all is now ostensibly fixed. We won't have to pay all the crazy fees about which we were warned and I am praising the Lord for that one.

In the meantime, my friend Darlene, who joined us on the Calvary Chapel Fairhope camping trip, brought me a copy of her pictures. I thought I'd post them today. She got pictures of things I did not.

This is a picture of our campsite. The grounds were quite lovely.

We were all impressed with the tent which sprang out of our box. We had replaced our former tent after the hurricane and I hadn't paid much attention to more than the number of people that could fit in it. It turned out well. Our tent had a hallway with two completely separate rooms off of it. Kurt and I were able to have some privacy from the kids and we relished it.

Michael is wearing the Dale sweater I knit for him 2 years ago. I made it big and am very glad.

Early each morning, Mr. Mike brought his "famous camp coffee" around to all of the campers.

I tried it, but it was NOT to my taste. I found out later the famous coffee was simply whatever was cheapest at Wal*Mart.

Early the first morning, Mr. Mike took the kids fishing. They had a blast even if no one caught any fish large enough to eat.

Mr. Mike patiently taught the children the mechanics of fishing. I don't know if I will ever want to camp again without Mr. Mike. What a blessing he was to all!

Along with the camping gear, we brought bicycles for the kids to ride.

They had a great time with them in between all the other fun. Of course the greatest fun, for my kids at least, was kayaking.

Gregory fell in love with kayaking at the boy's camp out a few months ago. He was happy to see the kayaks once again.

I suspect kayaking on the tranquil Alabama River was easier than on the sea.

Unlike the last time, all were able to kayak on the camping trip.

Even the adults got turns. (Except for me because I had to take care of Michael.) But there was one of us who wanted to Kayak more than anyone.

Gabrielle never got a chance at kayaking at the last event and was determined to do so while camping.

She had a great time and loved it almost as much as Gregory.

Gabrielle's favorite activity is hanging out with other girls.

She loved visiting the Decker campsite where the girls often gathered.

Of course Michael could not participate with the older children, but he had fun as well.

This playground was next to the bathrooms and on every trip Michael insisted on playing a little while. He had no fear and a great deal of fun.

The slide gave us a laugh. Every time Michael slid down, the static would cause his hair to stand on end.

I enjoyed the praise and worship best of all. Michael however, was a bit distracted.

Kurt and I kept him between us and fortunately, he was not too distracting.

On the final day, Darlene had enough of the fallen tree which separated our two campsites and requested it be chopped up and moved. Mark taught Gregory how to use the axe and Gregory eagerly complied.

I was glad to see the tree go since it had tripped me the prior day and ripped the cuff of my pants.

Sunday ended up being much better than expected. Rather than having to rush away before noon, we found out we could stay until 3:00. So Darlene shared the food she had for lunch and we all enjoyed another meal together.

Both of our families are looking forward to the next camping trip. Especially if Mr. Mike comes!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Point of No Return

We have hit the point of no return. Awhile ago, Kurt decided to take a promotion that would require us to move to Foley, Alabama. There is a Calvary Chapel in Fairhope and we are definitely Calvary Chapel people. There is no Calvary Chapel where we live presently. After visiting the church and the area, we knew we would love living in the Foley area. More than that, we'd been praying and believe the Lord would have us move. The move would certainly seem to solve some financial problems we'd faced as gas prices rose and Kurt commuted so far to work each day.

After accepting the new position, we fervently prayed our house would sell quickly. The economy fell apart. But we still believe the Lord would have us move, so we wait in faith. However, there came a point when Kurt had to choose to continue in faith or turn around. We chose faith.

On Monday, we hit the "point of no return." Kurt started his new job in Foley. He had to move there without us. We are very sad.

We asked the Lord to provide Kurt with an affordable place to live if He wanted us to continue with our move to the Foley area. A family at our new church in Fairhope told Kurt they had a house he could live in for free. Another sign to move forward no matter what the circumstances seem to scream all around us. But we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7)

The kids and I wait in hope for our house in Brewton to sell so we can join Kurt in the south. We are trying very hard to focus on the Lord and not on the economy. And in the meantime, we are trying to distract ourselves with a little fun.

Gregory and Gabrielle have been learning to knit. They have wanted to try some socks. I came up with a surprise to distract them from the fact their Dad had to move without us.

I picked up two skeins of "Bare" sock yarn from Knit Picks for the kids to dye and then knit into socks. Then I mixed some plain food coloring into vinegar and water. The kids had a blast planning and dyeing their yarn.

Gabrielle used lots of colors and tried to get plenty of pink tones into hers while Gregory preferred blue colors.

Not wanting to leave Michael completely out of the fun, I scrounged around my stash of fiber and found some undyed Romney wool that we could dye too.

I dyed a full pound of it. We've never dyed yarn before so we had a fun and educational time. I learned it takes a great deal more food color to dye yarn and fiber than I expected and I should have picked up more than one box of coloring. That being said, we've decided we like the bits of natural coloring in our designs.

We had a tough time waiting for the yarn and fiber to steam so the color would set.

After rinsing and washing the dyed yarn, we all named our creations and took pictures.

Gabrielle originally called her colorway "Flower Garden" but changed her mind and named it "Flower Power" instead.

Gregory wanted a name fitting for the sea colors in his design.

He decided to name his creation "Sea Reef."

While taking skein pictures, I tried to sneak a picture of Michael. He only wanted to make silly faces and run.

Both children are very happy with their colors and cannot wait for their skeins to dry so they can knit with them. However, I anticipated this and prepared.

I knew the kids needed to learn to knit socks before they tried their special hand dyed yarns. So I gave them each skeins of sock yarn and sets of circular needles to hold them over while their other skeins dry.

After dinner, I taught the kids to do the purl stitch (they had only learned to knit previously). Using their new stitch, they each did a swatch with their new circular needles.

They both did great and the swatch allowed us to plan their socks accordingly.

Gregory even got his socks started.

Kurt called us while we were all engrossed in watching Star Trek and knitting. Instead of the children telling him how much they miss him, Kurt got to hear all about dyeing and about the importance of gauge. We do miss him so very much, but my efforts to distract the children yesterday were very successful.

I hung my Romney wool up on the fire place to dry and the kids decided it looked like "The Companion" from Star Trek and thus named it.

I love the greens, teals, pinks and purples in my wool. I'm trying to figure out a good use for a pound of hand dyed Romney. I just love the colors.

Keeping with the episode where they got the name for my wool colorway, the kids say the yarn must go on.

I guess you had to be there.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Krull Lake Heritage Festival

Once again our family enjoyed a day at the Krull Lake Heritage Festival.

We started with a hay ride from the parking lot into the festival grounds. Almost immediately, Gregory found the blacksmith.

He talked about blacksmithing and discussed some of the information he'd learned from reading blacksmith books during the past year. The kids also did their usual.

They shucked corn.

And sawed lumber.

Gabrielle made a shingle, though this year I wouldn't let her keep it.

The kids scored some sugar cane. Gregory chewed on it for hours.

Gabrielle admired the corn husk dolls and tried to get the maker to teach her a little about making them.

Gregory actually kept a straight face while telling me he still wanted a $70 whip. The man told us it was a "herring bone plait" and I told Gregory he better google for directions.

Michael being too young to appreciate the heritage crafts, constantly attempted to escape the supervision of his parents. I suspect he feels confined by the limits we place on him. We have rules. Like no throwing rocks at pedestrians. And other similar things.

A bee keeper had a booth at the festival this year. Kurt had a great time talking bees with the owners.

We lost our bees to hive beetles and swarming and will need to start over once we move. We figure we should get as much input from successful bee keepers as possible. And when we found out they raised their bees without chemicals, we bought some honey.

At the lathe, we ran into some new friends from Calvary Chapel Fairhope.

We also ran into some old friends from Gulf Breeze, but I got so engaged in conversation I forgot to stop and grab a picture. Okay, part of it was that my brain was completely engulfed in envy. Melanie has had 6 kids, one more recent than my youngest and she is pretty much my age. I've been using Michael as an excuse for carrying a little too much weight. I saw Melanie and she looked absolutely stunning. Sigh. I was certainly NOT thinking of cameras at that point in time. I will be starting the Master Cleanser fast on Monday.

There were several new things for us to do. Kurt got a quick dulcimer lesson.

Within no time he was playing.

I stopped to see my spinning friends.

Most everyone was out seeing the sights. Fortunately Theresa had remained behind. I loved having a brief time to catch up.

The kids got some hands on basket weaving time.

And Michael did his best to keep people from touching him.

He is so cute and everyone always wants to touch his hair. He HATES it.

The best time all day involved the oak basket maker.

He remembered Gregory from last year and knew Gregory loved the idea of making baskets.

He actually showed Gregory how to prepare the oak and then to strip it for basket material.

He showed Gregory how to smooth the strips and how to get them ready to weave.

He then sent Gregory home with the pieces of wood and instructions to weave a basket from them.

Gregory was one happy young man.

Since Gregory got most of the attention today, I let Gabrielle get the sun bonnet she wanted so very badly. She has been wearing it since.

The kids hated to leave the festival, even though we were some of the very last to go.

Kurt was just glad I agreed to ride the shuttle back since originally I tried to get everyone to walk. It was a good day.