Reality hit at 4 this morning when a stuffy nose, an eye stuck shut and aching lungs woke me up. For an hour I lay in bed desperately wanting to go back to sleep before giving up to take some meds and drink hot tea.

I hated succumbing to the fact that this cold isn’t going away in a day or two and reluctantly cancelled teaching Sunday School tomorrow. Tonight my lungs are tight and burn when I cough. Perhaps another day of completely taking it easy and drinking more hot tea will do the trick. (Lemon with honey, licorice, Throat Coat, Breathe Easy, and an Earl Grey because I needed a change of pace!)

I managed about 2 hours of office work before calling it a day and caving in to wrap myself in a gifted shawl. The love I feel when I wear these beautiful precious handspun, hand knit shawls is palpable. Some day I should blog about them and show them off!

Being down has a bright side: finished socks!

Can you believe that I spun this yarn early in 2013? Yep, this yarn came from the Ravelry Jenkins Woodworking Forum’s Swap Challenge2. Sharon, aka Homecraft, so aptly leads these fun challenges which not only builds spinning skills but also friendships. I’m embarrassed to admit that I rarely log in to Ravelry except to find a pattern. My lack of participation is due to my lousy time management. When I’m involved the hours can get sucked away too quickly. I admire, and am thankful!, for all of you who so faithfully participate in the forum.

Oh yes, the socks…
I swapped two ounces of Abstract Fibers, Constellation, with my upstream partner and received two ounces of Out of the Whorled, Just Figs. Each two ounce strip of roving was spun separately using an egret. While driving to Moscow, ID for the Palouse Fiber Festival in June of 2013 I managed to ply the entire four ounces into one huge turtle on the Egret just in time to display at the show. It was such a great display item that the turtle stayed with the Egret until this summer when I finally wound it off into a skein and gave it a bath.

For several months I’d handle the skein trying to determine what it wanted to be. Not a huge fan of the barber-pole look that was going on in much of the skein I finally landed on knitting socks. For myself.  But first I needed to finish Feather’s skirt and spin yarn for a swap with a friend who loves knitting with handspun but is not yet a spinner. (Yes! I’m working on rectifying that missing link in her life.)

When the first sock was finished I got out the ball winder and commenced winding from the inside of the remainder of the ball of yarn in search of that matching area with the beginning of the completed sock. I finally realized that such a thing wasn’t going to happen: the two rovings were dyed in different color lengths and there simply was no point that the repeating colors once again matched in the plyed yarn.

Today the second sock was completed. DSC01131

Time for a last hot cup of tea, a bath and a bit of reading a book in bed.



Too many nights of staying up until after 10 and waking up by 5am are taking their toll. Ed and I went to a fundraiser dinner tonight. Bed is calling and I know i’ll wake up early.

Sock number one is almost finished. The only thing left is to graft the toe. DSC00954
It’s taken two weeks to do just this one. Perhaps the mate will go quicker.

There are two things I’d like to make for Christmas presents.
I should have started with them instead of knitting myself socks.

It’s been awhile since posting much about fiber, the early Spring seemed to demand attention and pictures. We’re still enjoying a relatively mild year with more sunny days than rain. So unusual for the Pacific Northwest. The strawberries are already setting fruit! We’ve been picking and eating asparagus as it grows (yum!), potato plants are growing like crazy and the sugar peas are climbing their wire fence.

Ed’s sweater is finished.

I debated about using a ribbon band underneath to hold the buttons so washed and blocked the sweater before adding buttons. Ed said, “I’ve never worn a sweater that had anything under the buttons.” Ed picked out the buttons from the One of a Kind Button table at the annual Abernathy Grange Fiber Fair a week ago. He also bought several other button packets, Candace is a wizard at button making, it’s hard to use restraint in her booth.


I ambushed Ed for a picture when he briefly went outside to feed the cats. The man rarely steps outside without his hat. He wasn’t keen to have his picture taken without one on, as a result I didn’t risk asking for poses.
Pattern: Fine-Knit Cardigan from Erika Knight’s “Men’s Knits” book.
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash  Ed gifted me with the yarn and book a year ago Christmas. :)
The back was knit twice, the first time for the x-large with the recommended needles. It was way too big. After a visit to the frog pond I worked out the math, again. Given how big it had turned out even getting gauge I calculated by following the instructions for L and dropping from US5 needles to US 4 it should fit. Lots of measuring, counting and math took place throughout the making of the sweater the second time through.

It was worth it!

Meanwhile, a little sweater was knit.


And pants sewn for Violet’s beloved baby doll. No patterns used.

Last October a Kool-Aide challenge was given at the Aurora Colony Handspinners’ Guild. We were given 4 ounces of Polwarth and directed to dye with Kool-Aide, spin the fiber and complete a project in time for the Feb. meeting.

The Kool-Aide yarn is on the left. Chain-plyed to preserve the colors rather than risk a muddy yarn.  My daughter, Aurora dyed the yellow and blue fibers a year or so ago which I’d spun and had in the stash. Last fall Marianne Cant of Picperfic  posted a picture of a granny square jacket she’d made for a baby.

I got the yarn spun and was working on my first square at the Feb. meeting. Not quite a finished item.
Violet loves pink so I added in balls of Cascade hot pink and light pink plus a burgundy.

Violet and I have fun playing around with the placement of the squares. So many options!  These pictures were taken before have the squares were made.



There are only 12 squares left to make to have enough for a jacket for a 3 year old. This coming Friday Violet and I will play with more arrangements and see what we come up with before they’re all joined with a cream colored yarn. It’s been a fun project, one that’s proved easy to take while sitting with a friend at a hospital or visiting with Aurora, or working on in the evening when I’ve been too tired to do anything else.

One final project which was made in February, a neck warmer for my daughter-in-law who loves to be active outside during the cold Idaho winters.


This was another fun project using a Knitspot kit: Glasstower.  As a slow knitter who only manages to knit in the evenings this was finished in three days.


It’s soft, warm and very cosy around the neck. MJ was thrilled to get something personal that she could immediately put to good use.

In anticipation of posting frequently this month I took lots of pictures. Here are a few of the early Spring, these were taken March 11th.  A neighbor’s tulip tree. (or a star magnolia? I forget.)



Daffodils and I think these are a type of asters in the city park.


DSC07867Up close

The very early blooming strawberries, even before the middle of March! The green berries are now as big as grapes.


Ed’s sweater is off the needles and ready to be grafted and seamed.

This afternoon the ironing board and iron were set up in the kitchen, a white cotton dish towel dampened and I tackled the task of steaming the individual pieces. Anne Hanson of Knitspot blog about steam blocking a sweater early in February convinced me that it would be worth the extra step.

Except, I don’t have a large surface to fully lay out a sweater for steaming so I wasn’t able to properly block it. Still, it seemed worth the effort to steaming the edges so they’d lie flatter during the seaming process.

The two sleeves, the one on the left looked just like the one on the right before steaming it.


All the sweater pieces steamed and folded into a pile.


The grafting and seaming will be tackled when there’s a good chunk of time to sit by the window during daylight hours. It’s not a job I want to feel rushed doing.

This coming Thursday I’ll be demonstrating spinning from 9am – 1pm at Wool ‘n Wares Yarn Shop in West Lynn during the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl. It is the oldest Yarn Crawl in the country! If you’re in the greater Portland area come by to say hi.

This morning we decided to take advantage of the lovely March 1st day by riding our bikes in a new area. Looking through our Road Biking Oregon guide book we decided to do the 10 mile Hagg Lake loop. Neither of us had been there though we’d occasionally mention it over the years. The guide book rated it as easy, and since it went around the lake we figured we’d be riding on level land surrounded by farms and rolling hills.


The road turned up into the base of the coastal range where the county owned park is located. This was the scene from the first parking lot. Later we realized that there are many parks and swimming areas scattered around the lake. Hagg Lake is very popular in the summer for swimmers, boaters (the lake is zone motorized/ski boats at the eastern end, non-wake on the western end) and triathlons.

Crossing the earthen dam.


The view looking west from the dam.



Shortly after crossing the dam the road started climbing.

And climbing. We kept thinking around the next bend the road would dip back down to the lake.
DSC07776It didn’t.
By then Ed’s leg was threatening to give out on him. We also had the very real suspicion that the road was going to continue skirting the lake higher up along the flank of the hills surrounding the lake than behaving gently by going back down to stay level with the lake.

We practically flew that mile back down the hill. We loaded into the car and drove around the lake, clocking that uphill mile which once we realized we’d pushed that far on our 3 (Ed’s ) & 7 speed (mine) bikes were very proud for having accomplished that climb.



Our speculation proved true. The road rolled up and down all the way around the lake, much of it in the fir trees. It’s understandable why this is considered a great triathlon course.

This early in the year there were very few vehicles on the road. We did pass a number of cyclists and several runners.

On the north side looking south across the lake. One lone boater enjoying the calm day.



We’re glad we went to such a lovely place on this beautiful day!

I was reluctantly dragged into Facebook when our son’s family moved to a different state. It didn’t take long to figure out that if we wanted to stay current with them and our grandchildren we’d need to have FB accounts. The added benefit is keeping in touch with far-flung friends and family. Years ago letter writing was a passion that slowly dimmed from far spaced, often brief, letters in my mailbox in return. A welcome bonus with FB has been reconnecting with a few people from years long ago.

Recently two friends have been treading through waters of deep grief. Wanting to tangibly wrap them in a bit of love but being an excruciatingly slow knitter I needed something much quicker than a shawl, or even a scarf. Yarn Harlot wrote about the realities of a certain hat taking more than a mere few hours admitting that it was more likely to take a couple days. I’ve yet to knit a hat within a couple of days, with the exception of a chunky handspun. I used a size J knook to make one in record time of a couple days for my visiting granddaughter three years ago. (Story and pictures, here.) I should dig up that knook and knock out some more hats for the grandkids, but first I’d have to spin some chunky yarn with my Navajo spindle.

That’s right, I was telling a story about finding a quick project…

Remembering a few necklaces that were relatively quick knits I turned to Laura Nelkin Designs for a bracelet knit. The first one was destined for my daughter.

Nelkin bracelet1 1.12.14

Delighted with how it turned out  I dug into a bead tray, strung a bunch onto some handspun and started a new one the next evening. The yarn in the kit was round with great stitch definition which helps the design and beads to pop. My slightly thicker handspun bloomed with washing and even after blocking it seemed a bit too uneven to give to a friend.  What’d I expect using a 50/50 silk cashmere blend?


The first picture of the grey bracelet is closer to the color. It seems the light was picking up and reflecting the blues in the picture above. Despite the funkiness of the bottom, handspun one it feels wonderful on my wrist; soft and warm. I had to use different type of clasp than that snap clasp that came in the Nelkin kit. Aurora thought the sliding clasp I used on my bracelet is easier to use.

This one shows their true colors:



It’s interesting to see that the slightly thicker, flatter yarn made a bigger bracelet using the same size US 2 / 2.75mm needles.

Digging through the handspun stash didn’t reveal anything that shouted their names like the yarn I wanted to use. The color and soft fibers were perfect for both of these friends in need of some hugs. Using a spindle I added more twist then cast on for a third bracelet which was finished and blocked last night using the same needles. Adding more twist and knitting a bit tighter helped tremendously. One end looks narrower than the other but they are pretty much the same when curved end to end.


Number 4 is half-way done, tomorrow the ends will be sewn in and the clasps attached. Thursday these bracelets should be winging their way to give my friends warm, gentle hugs and to let them know that they’ve been much in my heart and in my prayers.

Meanwhile, inches are adding up on Ed’s sweater sleeves. It will be a happy day when they are finished and the blocking commences.

Often I automatically count stitches when knitting. I used to count ceiling tiles. I’ve been knitting a sweater for Ed since February. He gifted me with the yarn and pattern for Christmas last year. A basic, straightforward, stockinette, button-up sweater. It started off brilliantly, bringing great comfort during the plane flight to and from visiting our son’s family. (I’m rather terrified when my feet aren’t close to the ground.)

The back was off the needles in just a few weeks. But, my, it did seem wide. And short. Laying it on the bed I measured Ed’s favorite sweater against it. No way would it respectably fit. Pictures were taken as evidence but my old laptop was drowned in September. A friend managed to retrieve the photos from it onto a hard drive, one of these days I need to upload the ones worth keeping to this laptop.

Spring gardening, summer spinning and other projects pushed their way to the front while the sweater cooled its stitches. This time around I’ve gone down two needles sizes, one size smaller on the chart, knit the body length longer – this time armed with measuring tape and Ed’s measurements. The back and right front are finished. The left front was over 1/3rd this morning, only the 5 stitch, horizontal buttonholes slowing me down. Because it’s been a mindless project I’ve been reading or watching movies while knitting, for once not compulsively counting.

Until this morning. With a slim possibility that it might be finished in time to wrap for Christmas I was in the zone early this morning (not as early as yesterday’s 4:30am knitting) when reaching the end of the row the number 71 jumped out of my head. What? No, it should be 77. Since I hadn’t really been counting I must have missed some numbers. Carefully counting the stitches strung across the circs the fact remained; somewhere I’d lost six stitches.

The first buttonhole did it. It ate three stitches, the next one took two away and to my chagrin there was a dropped stitch at the edge of the row, just above the first buttonhole. It was ripped back to the first buttonhole – a mere 1 1/4″ from the bottom edge – before heading to the office and the work day. This evening the stockinette is moving smoothly along. I’m not frantic about getting it done by Christmas but the hope still lingers. For once there’s nothing extra scheduled for this weekend other than working in the morning, taking & editing photos of spindles in preparation for Monday’s update and writing on the spindles Ed will make tomorrow. Oh, and practicing the violin to play for Sunday’s service.

Here’s a few pictures of the local park and the town’s tree lighting ceremony which we were asked to play music for one very cold night early in December. There was hot chocolate, coffee, homemade chili and cornbread for everyone, festive music, even a horse and wagon bringing Mr & Mrs Santa Claus.
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