Saturday, June 30, 2012

TdF Day 1: My New Toy

I was doing some midnight browsing on Etsy the other night when I spied something I couldn't live without.

It's a new support spindle bowl and I got it from The Dancing Goats. 

My old one on the left is pretty but it is too small and shallow. It rocks and rolls all over my lap when I use it. I suppose I am a bit lumpier down there than I used to be.

This one fits perfectly so the only thing I have to worry about now is spinning my way through France.

Edited because of Stupidity on My Part: That spindle should be on an angle to spin correctly. I was too worried about getting a decent photo while pretending to be spinning, that I neglected to show the correct position.

Friday, June 29, 2012

TdF Eve: Itching to Get Started


Sheep Heid by Kate Davies
The big project I have planned for this year's TdF will be to spin 9 different colors of wool in order to make this gorgeous Fair Isle hat. The original was made from all Shetland wool but I intend to use this as a fiber stash buster so I will be digging into the tubs of mystery wool for as many colors as I can find. I need 25 yards of several grays and browns plus a cream. I got the idea after seeing Eureka's beautiful hand spun version on Ravelry. I wanted a spectacular hat to wear to Rhinebeck in October and they don't come more spectacular than this.

 Having said all that, right now, I am still not willing to get close to anything warm and fuzzy thanks to one of those nasty little guys up there. That's the Asian Tiger Mosquito that apparently thought I was a snack on Monday afternoon. I have seen these little buggers up close and personal before. Once you get bit by one of these, you never forget it. They hunt in the daytime so they are easy to spot if you are paying attention which I apparently wasn't. I was carding wool on the deck.

This is one of the three bites it gave me, reduced by about half thanks to some mighty good ointment from the doctor. The monster swelling has finally gone down and now all I have left are the huge bumps. It seems that this is not an unusual reaction from the bite of this particular pest. Even scarier, it transmits all kinds of horrible diseases. I'm feeling fine, itchy but fine, so I hope the one that was using me for lunch was at least a healthy one.

 That giant pile of yarn behind me on the table is my Easter egg Corrie. I was in a rush to free up the wheel so my plying turned out pretty terrible but for what it is going to be used for (socks) it doesn't really matter. They will be warm and fuzzy and I will wear them to pieces. By this time next year they will more than likely have holes in them and I'll be busy spinning myself another pair.





Thursday, June 28, 2012

TdF 2012: The Impossible Dreams

The wheels are not the only thing getting prepped for this year's TdF. If I regain the use of my miserably itchy arm, I plan on also making a serious attempt at using my two "oddball" spindles as well.

I had some very dusty abandoned projects-in-progress already on them. My goal is to spin some additional yardage on each everyday that the riders ride in hopes of getting two small (very small) skeins by Paris.

This is where someone needs to say "good luck with that".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freeing Up the Wheels

With the TdF only days away, I really needed to get some old projects finished. I am going to need two wheels for what I have planned this year.

My two pretty bobbins of Easter egg dyed Corrie singles were finally ready to be plied into sock yarn over the weekend.

TCM had three back to back great old movies on, so getting all this plied on Sunday was no trouble at all.

Thanks to some nasty mystery insect or two, I spent the day at the doctors being treated for the biggest bug bites I've ever seen. They are all up and down my arm. Right now, not only do I NOT want to touch anything even remotely wooly or itchy-but I am also afraid to go outside. I may never go outside again. If I do, I will take some pictures of the finished skein. It is enormous and very pretty.





Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Weaving Drama Continues

After my panel joining failure, I spent the night reading everything I could about weaving large projects on rigid heddles. Somewhere, someone said that you could doubleweave to get double the width if you have a second heddle kit. Somewhere in my craft room I knew I had one. All I had to do was find it.

 Taking apart my loom and putting it back together with the new attachments was scary.

I couldn't get the bolts all the way in the new attachments without more force than I am willing to use on my sweet little loom so it turned out a bit wobbly-but it seems to work.

After watching a really good You Tube video on warping a double heddle, I decided it would be best to use two very different colors so I could see what I was doing. This is not a project but just a practice swatch so I went for the Vanna.

Warping two heddles turned out to be very simple once I wrapped my brain around it and realized it is the same as doing one-you just do it twice, one on top of the other. The black and white helped me to see that.

Pulling the yarn through the holes on the last reed was tricky. I had to get help from some clothespins to hold the loose ends out of the way so I could see what I was doing.

I had to tie them up twice because having them straight and tidy is very important with two heddles. Nothing can be crossed or twisted as I found out the hard way.

With You Tube on my Kindle and my Idea Book open to the double weave pattern page, I worked my way through a few rows using 2 pick up sticks which was another first for me.

I don't have real pick up sticks so I used some extra shuttles.

When I had enough done to be able to peek inside and see that I did indeed have two identical layers of material joined on one side, it was like magic. I really couldn't believe I pulled this off. I still can't believe it. Of course I have yet to cut it off and open it up. I may be in for another disappointment but right now I am proud of myself for sticking with it and getting this far. Reading weaving patterns makes my eyes cross and my head hurt.

Of course there was a hiccup. One of the warp threads somehow got missed on the inside. Since this is just a practice piece I just snipped it off while making a note to myself to check for things like that in the future. I also need to tighten up the tension on the inside selvedge, mine was loosy goosy at first but I did see improvement as I went on.
If all goes well, I should  now be able to weave a 40 inch wide piece of fabric on my 20 inch loom and that's all I need for a little lap blanket with a crochet edging.
And to think that I was this close to buying myself a new, larger loom. I really would like a 4 harness floor loom someday but until I figure out everything there is to figure out on my little RH, that would probably not be a very wise investment.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Yet Another Weaving Fail

I wove this little scrap of a thing for the sole purpose of cutting it up. I steek knitting all the time but I am terrified of taking scissors to my weaving. I just know it will all fall apart.

Even scarier than cutting it is machine sewing it. I just knew that it would get caught up in the machine and be a mess. It didn't. Sewing along the ends so I could cut off the fringe was much easier than I ever imagined.

 A couple of snips later and the fringe is history.

After running a basting thread down the center, I stitched both sides and then snipped the whole thing down the middle-just like a steek. So far so good. I was feeling pretty confident.

 Now that the two halves were separate, it was time to sew them back together so that I would get a square instead of a long rectangle. If I could master this I could make blankets on my 20 inch rigid heddle loom.

Uhmmm....what page was that on?

 The "nearly invisible" joining stitch is sort of like the mattress stitch.

 It all seemed to be going very well. I was already congratulating myself...

 ..until I stepped back and had a good look at the lumpy bumpy mess of a seam. Who wants that running down the middle of a blanket? Nearly invisible stitch-my foot. If Frankenstein were a blanket, this would be it.

Snip, snip. Back to square one.

At least the hems came out fairly decent.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Real Eye Opener

My post on the sad financial truth behind some high profile transplant "non-profits" elicited a response from a reader that opened my eyes and changed the way I will donate forever.
Master sewist Melodye from Melodye's Needle Notes alerted me to the existence of Guidestar.org.


After joining (it's free) you can check up on any organization that is asking you for money. The Mister saved himself some money just this morning when he asked me to look up a law enforcement non-profit that he was about to write a check to. They were definitely not worthy of his or anyone else's money.

I feel better now knowing that although the government regulatory agency's could care less how donor money is being spent, the donors themselves have a means to find out what is really going on.

Be warned: Take your blood pressure meds before you go searching. When you click on those 990 forms they have to file with the IRS and see the salaries those non-profit Executive Directors pay themselves and their flunkies, you will need it.

*I would also like to thank Anne at Talking to My Dogs  and all you Facebook folks for picking up my post and adding your own two cents. As the USOC found out, fiber folks care about a lot more than sticks and string.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back to Yarny Stuff: A Scrappy Raglan Update

Thanks to my recent flurry of activist behavior, I have not been knitting much lately but I did manage to get my crazy, hot mess of a seamless raglan past a major milestone. I got to divide for the body which means taking off about a million arm stitches.

 I am using up my little balls of yarn very quickly now and I can't hand card and spin enough to keep up anymore so this is going pretty slowly at the moment.


 Since the mosquitoes showed up, I've had to do all this in the house. It makes a pretty big mess but it is just so much fun that it is worth the extra vacuuming.

 The sun has been doing a great job of drying my little skeins so there is not too much wait time but I still wish I had an extra pair of hands and a few extra hours in each day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Back on the Soapbox


I was so busy fussing and fuming over the ridiculously lavish spending of those non-profit organ transplanting nincompoops yesterday that I almost missed the biggest controversy to sweep the net in ages.
In case you are the last person on the planet not to know this, let me break the news: Ravelry was hit with a cease and desist from the US Olympic Committee for hosting the *Ravelympics! Seriously. I'm not kidding.

That means people like me who have used the words "Olympic" in their patterns or based a pattern on their trademark rings are in the deep stuff. You can't even use part of the word Olympic to describe events or things without infringing on their rights. The Olympic Spirit mittens I designed in 2008 will, in their actual words, " denigrate the spirit of the athletes". I am not kidding. They really said that. You can read the original nasty and mean spirited letter they sent to Ravelry here.  Like so many of us naive knitter folk, I thought that the Olympics belonged to the people of the world. I had no idea it was an issue of corporate ownership. It was like finding out Santa Claus is a CEO. What a bummer.

The Ravelers, however, did not wither in fear from this harsh demand to withdraw. Oh no. Quite the contrary. Throughout history large crowds of people with pointy sticks have been a force to be reckoned with and the USOC found that out the hard way when the yarn folk attacked them via Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. I literally spent all day in front of the computer trying to keep up with the drama. Two different apologies were issued by the USOC on Facebook to try and calm things down but the fever was at such a high pitch, things only went from bad to worse. By afternoon, NPR  jumped on the bandwagon and even theYarn Harlot's call for peace couldn't stop people from screaming at each other in all caps all over the web. Ouch. It got ugly. By late evening there were two distinct camps. Those who were still mad as hell and those who were mad as hell because other people were still mad as hell.

I can only imagine what the Olympic sponsors were thinking. They had 2 million crafty viewers who were ready to just sit quietly on their duffs and do their thing and now they went and made them all mad as hell.
 

I just hope the Tour de France people were paying attention. The Tour de Fleece starts next week.

*For those who don't know what this is, and I'm talking to you Sandy, the Ravelympics is a knitting and crocheting competition that takes place during the time of the Olympics on Ravelry. You compete for medals in different categories like the mitten medley and the sock put. It's all fun and we have been doing it for years.







Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets

Someone in the family used to work for the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations planning events and although they loved the job, the truth is, listening to them go on and on about their luxurious business trips made my blood boil. Now that the person has moved on, I can spill the beans.

Right now, as I write this, hundreds of people are dying because they can't even afford to get on the transplant lists and where are the hundreds of executive representatives that work in the field? In Chicago.

Doing this.

And this.

And a whole lot of this, at several open bar receptions-all funded by the state OPOs.

Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas
No one would deny these hard working people the right to play on the tax payers dollar, but hundreds more of them just went here for a week this past January.

And again, this January hundreds more will all be heading to Napa Valley for wine tours in the warm California sun. Seriously, Napa? Now that's just crazy.

Next time someone asks you to drop coins in a can to help fund a child's transplant, first go here and complain to your local OPO. It's not a question of whether they have the right to spend their money on their lavish bi-annual conventions but whether they should.
With salaries over $100,000 and perks like these, these non-profits have a lot of explaining to do to all the children who can't even afford to get on the waiting list.



*You can also find the Executive Committee that approves such excessive spending on themselves here. I am pretty sure they would love to hear from you also.

For a great blog on the issues that challenge the organ recipient go here to Bob's NewHeart.
He also has a  lot to say on the subject.

Thank you dear fiber folk for letting me rant today. I just had to get this off my chest. If you want to repost this post onto your blog or Facebook or Twitter or whatever- feel free to do so. 
MJKDesign