I'm working on a secret project (it's a gift. everybody wave to Wenona; the suspense is driving her crazy) so no crafty photos today. So here's some random thoughts and photos.

Isn't she the cutest thing you've ever seen?
We found the sun dress and hat at the July 4th Street Fair in Ventura. It's hard to see, but the design on the front is surfboards and palm trees. How appropriate from her "California" grandparents.

Isn't she the weirdest cat you've ever seen?
AJ climbed into the wet bathtub for no reason that I could see. Then she just sat there. And sat there. She's a very strange cat.

Tomorrow's the start of the Ventura County Fair.
I'm working the Guild booth from 1-4. The Fair opens at noon, so that gives me a little time to check for ribbons for me and a couple of friends. Hope we all did well! I'll be back for Sheep-to-Shawl on Friday - really looking forward to spinning the day away with good friends and great cinnamon rolls.

Home construction continues. Here's Dick, surveying his kingdom (and his handiwork).
The entry hall is mostly done now; to orient you, the front door is that green thing on the left. Dick's planning to continue tiling into the living room (where I'm standing with the camera) and toward his den (to the left of the stairs). Eventually the entire downstairs will be tiled - no more carpet or linoleum.

This is public enemy #1 for the cats.
Since Dick uses the compressor almost every day, you think they'd be used to it by now. But no. As soon as it goes on, they run for the furtherest room they can find. Not sure I really blame them - it's very noisy. Come to think of it, I run for the furtherest room too.

Whoop!! and WhooHoo! About 4 pm I was #205 on the Ravelry list. As of 9 pm, I'm #60! Won't be long now! (and yes, I check my status multiple times a day. Don't you?)

Found you!
  • You signed up on June 7, 2007
  • You are #7503 on the list.
  • 60 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 14340 people are behind you in line.
  • 34% of the list has been invited so far


Cat Toys

My kitties are spoiled. I bought a cat toy to make them - it was 65% off; how could I pass it up? After a quick trip through the washing machine, I stuffed this little crocheted pouch with batting and catnip, sewed it up and tossed it down.

AJ and Oreo are only vaguely interested in the 'nip. Snickers, on the other hand, is a hard-core addict. It's funny to see Ms. Aloof Kitty knock the toy off the ottoman and wrestle it all over the family room. She pretends she's not interested when the camera is pointed at her, but she can't stay away for long. Does anybody know if there's a Promises Rehab program for kitties?


More FO's

Yesterday was 'git 'er done' Thursday. I finished three washcloths at my favorite LYS during knit/crochet/spin night. The other two were finished while watching today's Tour de France (hooray! no more doping scandals! yet.) These are all free patterns available on the innernets.* They're destined for a washcloth drive; if you're interested in contributing, the mailing address is here.

*Blue - Star Dishcloth
Yellow - Quick & Easy Washcloth
Green - Bicycle Spokes Dish Cloth
Multi - Hexagon Washcloth (my favorite)
Pink - generic granny square

I also finished another weaving project. Tomorrow is Guild and I want to show off share my completed projects during 'show and tell'. Since the beginning weaving class one month ago, I've finished a scarf, shawl, - both plain weave - six towels and two washcloths - in twill and huck.

This towel is 5/2 cotton warp and 3/2 cotton weft. It's a huck sampler - I changed the treadling every 6" or so - using Maguerite Davison's "Handweaver's Pattern Book".
Ahem. I need to practice keeping my edges straight.

This was on the same warp - 5/2 cotton - using color-grown softball cotton for the weft. Not as much draw-in and much nicer edges.
I choose three of my favorite patterns from the above sampler and wove about 8" of each with a 1" stripe of plain weave between. See the green section on the end? That's more color-grown softball cotton. Washing (or boiling) will actually darken the color. And boy is it soft! I'm planning to use the brown color-grown to crochet a lacy summer shawl for me.


Wedding Shawl

I'm making Rachel's wedding shawl - using Debbie Bliss Pure Silk yarn in dusty lilac - but I can't decide which pattern to use. I need some HELP! What do y'all think of . . .

#1 is an old favorite that I've made several times. It's a fun pattern, easily adjustable, and would work up fast. But, like I said, I've done it before.
I've also made #2, but only once. This is "Valentina" from Melissa Leapman's book "Cool Crochet". Here's a closeup of the stitches:The pattern calls for brushed baby alpaca - I made mine with brown alpaca - but I think it would still look good in a shiny silk yarn.

Next up - #3 - is a vintage shawl from a 1985 Crochet Fantasy. I (over) bid for the magazine on eBay just to get this pattern. It's hard to see details, but it's a V-stitch, shell combo. Very pretty.
#4 is from a stitch dictionary. I'd basically be making my own design as I went. I love this diamond lattice pattern and think it would work up very nice. But is it what Rachel wants? #5 is something totally different; move linear or angular or something. It caught my eye as I was flipping through magazines and I think it would make a very nice shawl. The pattern is the Beachcomber Tunic in the Spring 2007 Interweave Crochet. #6. I love this one. Lately I've been fascinated with the idea of turning doilies - or in this case a table runner - into shawls. This one would be easy to adjust since you join the squares as you go. If I don't make this one for the wedding shawl, I'm going to make it for myself out of organic cotton. And, just for grins, #7. I don't think pineapples are Rachel's taste - but I could be wrong. This is a spectacular piece and since I've made it once already, it should go pretty fast. So, help me out here people. Which one would you choose? Or do you have another favorite to throw in the mix? Rachel - obviously - will have final say, but we need some input!


Back To Reality



Crazy Idea

So, I'm driving down the road last week and I start wondering 'what if'. What if I took some Noro Kureyon, made a lacy shawl - the Sock Yarn Shawl, to be exact - and then felted it. Would I get a lacy design? Would the holes felt together? Would it have drape or just be a blob?

One thing led to another - I had one skein of Kureyon #188 that I loved -
so I made it into a sample and took it to my LYS today to see what they thought of my 'what if'. Opinions were overwhelmingly positive; several thought the felted fabric would make the perfect shawl for Ventura's damp summer evenings.

Not to add pressure, but since I'd come up with this cool (to me anyway) idea - why not enter the shawl in the Ventura County Fair? Of course, the deadline for entries is tomorrow, but why worry about details?

A little less than eight hours and four skeins later, I had a crocheted shawl.
And twenty minutes after that, I had a felted shawl. Felting also fixed one of the major problems I have with Noro yarns. I love the colors and the patterning - nobody does it better - but their yarns are often hard and wiry, with little twigs and other debris intertwined with the fibers. Felting softens the colors but it also softens the yarn. A Noro shawl would not be tops on my list for next-to-skin wear. A Noro felted shawl? Oh, yeah. Can't wait to wear this baby. After the Fair, of course.


Weaving and Construction

During today's Tour coverage I finished warping the Baby Wolf - or I should say I finished "knotting" her. Since I want to repeat my last project (correctly, this time), and since the remnants of the old warp were still in the heddles, I decided to tie the new warp threads to the old and pull them through rather than rethreading. I thought it would be faster, but I may have been wrong about that. One thing I can say for sure - after tying 250+ weaver's knots, I'm pretty sure I can do them in my sleep. Tomorrow I'll fix a few crossed threads and then I can start weaving. Can't wait to see the difference between this towel and the last one.

Earlier this week, Dick and I were rearranging furniture in the living and dining rooms, getting ready to tear out the carpet and replace it with tile. (Dick gets to tear out and replace. I get to come up with ideas. Seems like a fair division of labor to me.) One thing (honey, I'm tired of this yellow paint) led to another (what do you think about . . . ) and voila - a new construction project was born.

We're going to take out the two lower windows in the dining room (see arrows) and replace them with drywall.
That will give us more options for furniture placement but we'll still have plenty of light coming through the top three windows and the doorway. When we moved in, that wall was the exterior of the house - we added the pool table room several years ago - and the window frames look kind of odd now. On the pool room side, the left window will be framed to hold pool cues. The right window will become a dart board.

And yes, the yellow paint in the dining room is history.


Tour de France WAL

For the first time in I can't remember how long, I have no - none, zip, nada - crochet projects on the hook. I'm not teaching any classes until September and all the shop samples are done, so I'm taking a break. There are a few projects I want to make - eventually. I just don't feel compelled to pick up a hook. When we go places, my 'take along' project is a knit scarf. It feels really weird but I'm kinda enjoying it.

Weaving has become my project of choice. There are stacks of weaving books and magazines by my bed. During
Interweave's hurt book sale I bought all weaving books. (Ok, ok. I probably own every crochet book that's ever been written, but still.) I have a lengthy list of weaving websites I visit daily. I've been dreaming about weaving patterns and textures. Even the very frustrating newbie mistakes I'm making aren't discouraging me (yet) from my love affair with warp and weft.

Y'all may remember that I signed up for the Tour de France Knit-A-Long this year.
But when the Tour is broadcast each day, I find myself behind the loom, either warping or weaving another project. It finally dawned on me that, like the riders who change out damaged bikes during the race, I could change my project and goals.

So. I'm switching to the Tour de France WAL (weave-along). I finished one set of towels on Monday. Yesterday and today I started warping the Baby Wolf for another set of towels - I'm going to correct the treadling mistakes I made on the first set and do this one right. And I warped the LeClerc Dorothy table loom for a couple of twill towels using softball cotton. This is one of the looms that was donated to the Guild for our annual silent auction in October. And you know, somebody needs to make sure it's in working condition. Right? So far, it works just great!


Weave, Wave, Wove

Wait, that's not right. Weave, wove, woven? Whatever - I have two more towels done and off the loom. This is a Huck sampler using threadings from Marguerite Davison's 'A Handweaver's Pattern Book'. The warp is 5/2 pearle cotton and the weft is 3/2 natural organic cotton.
The white is one towel, the brown is another - and they were supposed to be the same length. Looks like I can't add, even with the help of a spreadsheet. So, now I have one towel and one table doily-thingee.

I wove five inches of each of six patterns, with two picks of
dark brown plain weave in between. By the time I got the first towel done, it was obvious that I wasn't going to get a second full towel. So I picked my favorite pattern and wove it in dark brown for the entire length. Before washing, the white towel was 18" wide by 33.5" long; the brown towel was 18" wide by 15.5" long. After washing - 15.5 x 28" and 15.5 x 13.5".

I checked the patterns again after washing the sampler . . . and I did the tie-ups backwards. I thought 'x' marked the spot. Wrong. I needed to tie-up the spaces that were blank. Which makes no sense to me. Darn it. Repeating:"it's a learning process. It's a learning process. It's a *#(& learning process."

Waiting For Ravelry

Have you signed up for Ravelry yet? From everything I've read, it looks like it will be a fun little community. But I don't know for sure, since I'm still waiting for my invite to join. I'm ahead of a certain someone, but not by much!

  • You signed up on June 7, 2007
  • You are #7503 on the list.
  • 1659 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 9895 people are behind you in line.
  • 33% of the list has been invited so far


Class Day

I love taking classes. Seeing how others work with fiber, hearing what inspires them, learning new techniques - I love it all. Today's class was freeform creative knitting at my favorite LYS.

Brecia, the instructor, showed us how she makes incredible shawls, scarves and sweaters using a variety of yarns that are knit or crocheted into organic shapes.
My project is mostly knit - with some crochet thrown in at the end (I can go sooooo much faster with a hook.) I really enjoyed the class - especially learning where Brecia gets the ideas and inspiration for her pieces - but I don't think freeform knitting is something I'll pursue. I can't see myself wearing this (it really does look better in person); I guess I'm more of a straight line kinda girl.

The Baby Wolf is warped for cotton towels and I started weaving the huck lace sampler last night.
It's incredibly hard to get a usable photo of white or off-white yarn, but you can see some of the detail in this shot. The warp for the sock yarn scarf is cut and partially on the small Mountain loom. If this project turns out half-way decent, I'd like to put it in the fair. Deadline for entries is next Sunday so wish me luck!


Sea Treasure

One of our favorite consignment furniture stores had a sale this weekend. Dick and I went looking for a chair for the family room but came home with this instead. An antique sea captain's desk. We've seen these in antique stores before but never at a time or price that we could afford. It's made of solid, heavy wood - maybe mahogany or walnut - and is extremely compact - 33" tall by 22" wide. I love the detailing on the front legs and the shape of the feet.

The box on top opens to reveal a place to store ink and writing implements. The desk has four drawers down each side and eight more hidden under the hinged top.
The workmanship is amazing. The drawers are all hand-chiseled to shape and the edges are dovetailed. A few of the drawers still have tiny square nails holding them together. It wasn't what we were looking for, and we weren't sure where we would put it, but how could we leave it behind?


Let's Play Bingo!

Fiber Bingo, that is. Kimberly at Woven~N~Spun, is having a sock bingo game. With prizes! If enough people are interested, she plans to make this a regular feature. You can find the list of words here. Pick 15 out of the 25 and email your list to Kimberly before Sunday. She'll start calling words next week and the first one to yell (type?) BINGO wins!

Oh - and while you're there? Check out her free knit and crochet patterns, along with the woven scarves and fiber she has for sale. Her Pixie Batts are some of my favorite spinning fiber; you have to get them quick, though - they go fast every time she posts them.


Construction Continues

For the second time this week, we heard the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof today. It's July, people. In So. California. Rain?!? Weird, weird weather.

Interior construction continued this week. This was our entry hall last weekend.
And this is our entry hall now. The tile - which was original to this 28 year old house - is gone. Dick hired Gary and a buddy to break out the flooring, since Dick is under doctor's orders to rest his shoulder this week (he has the beginnings of arthritis; the dr. gave him a shot on Monday and told him to not. use. the. arm. Is he listening? Sometimes.)

Plastic drop cloths went up everywhere, in an almost-successful attempt to control the dust.
It took the boys just over 2 hours using power tools and a low-tech push broom. The new flooring will be the same ceramic tile that Dick put in the family room and hallway. Next up? The living room carpet is OUT of here!