Road Trip

26 Jul

We took a short trip to Chicago and did the tourism thing. 

   
    
    
    
 
My family likes their backs to the camera more than their fronts. I didn’t take too many pictures – I tried to stay in the moment. Both kids seemed to really enjoy spending time with us. DJ and I played at least 3 games of Gin Rummy during our down times in the hotel. No electronics – just talking. But there were plenty of phones and ear buds during the 10+ miles we walked each day!

I did a bit of sock knitting while in the hotel. Not much though so there are no progress pics to share. 

Then we got home and had to break into our house so because we all forgot our house keys!

  
Dan and Gianna were fairly good at that. 😊

It’s Been A While

23 Jul

Its been a while since I’ve knitted the kind of socks here I have to think while knitting. Think and READ my knitting to understand where I am. This pair is like that.

  
The leg pattern extends through the heel and the gusset consists of moss stitch so that it will eventually blend in with the pattern. I like it and I don’t think I’ve made any mistakes so far.

In other news:

We bought a new car.

I’ve been golfing again. Today I went with my oldest child (27) and youngest child(14). They both beat me. 

I’ve been working again too. I have been teaching programming to a group of 8-12 year olds from Mexico City. They are at our local high school for three weeks. I teach them one morning a week. They like it a lot. I enjoy it too. And I’ve been going in 2-3 mornings to get prepared for the fall classes. I’m not ready!

That’s it for me!

Long hiatus 

20 Jul

I haven’t been blogging because it’s the same old same old here!

Working on my socks – but not too often so there’s not much progress.

  
On the spinning front, I have all the alpaca fiber washed and 5 skeins completely spun, plyed, and set. I estimate  I’ll  get 9 total skeins so I think I’ve passed the halfway point.  

I’ve been fighting off a glut muscle tightness that’s preventing me from golfing and doing too much activity. It comes and goes. Dan thinks it’s a repetitive stress injury from too much spinning. Some days I’m sitting on ice and using a TENS unit and some days I can hardly feel any tightness.  I’ve looked up some yoga stretches that I’m going to start to do. Maybe that will help.

And finally I’ve started back to work. Well, kinda work. 😊 Once a week for two hours I’m teaching simple programming to a group of 8-12 year-olds from Mexico City. I try to practice speaking Spanish with them but honestly, their English is fantastic. They probably laugh at how old I am and am not bilingual. I think we are failing our American youth by not introducing a second language early in their lives. I now wish I had emphasized language learning in my kids. 

 Besides that, I’m going into my office 2-3 times a week to prep for the fall classes. I get more done at my office a couple hours a day than I do if I stayed home. Something about that feeling of “this is where you work” versus “this is where you play” allows me to be more productive. 

That’s it.  This week calls for more of the same!

Tear Jerker

16 Jul

And here is another wonderful post from The Yarn Harlot! It brought tears to my eyes!

Fiber Prep

10 Jul

I’m preparing alpaca fiber this month.  Here is my process. 

First, I grab some raw alpaca.  “Some” is probably 5-8 oz. if it’s nice weather, I lay it on a rag towel on top of my hot tub cut side up.

  
I am trying to “skirt” the fiber. That means that on this side, I pick off all the short cuts where the shearer cut some short pieces and they cling to the blanket.

  
On the first pass, there weren’t very many of these short cuts.  Then I turn the fleece over and take out the sticks and vegetable matter (VM). This fleece is super clean. It really just has a few sticks and a lot of dust in it.

I put this fleece portion into a laundry bag that’s very porous. I run hot water and soap in a plastic container and soak for 20 minutes. Here is a picture of the second wash. I wash it twice.

  
The water is really, really brown after the two washes.  But after two rinses….

  
It’s pretty clear. Some people don’t touch the fiber while it’s soaking because alpaca can felt so easily. But I press it down when I put it in the water. I can’t resist. And, knock, on wood. I haven’t felted any yet.

After two washes and two rinses, I squeeze out the water and wrap it on a towel and stand on the fiber to get the water squeezed out.

My mom bought me these great sweater dryers at a garage sale. She’s always looking out for me!

  
On nice weather days, I put this out on my hot tub again. It will dry in a few hours. The hot tub has a canopy over it so it’s in the shade, and the dryer racks let the wind /air go through.  If I’m home, I flip the fiber over after a couple hours. If it’s raining (like it has been here ALL summer long!), the fiber takes a couple of days or at least overnight.

Then the dry fiber goes in this fancy, smancy grocery sack!

  
I mix it up because this alpaca has so many different colors in his fiber that I want to blend it nicely in the yarn.  At the bottom of the picture, you can see my hand carders.  That’s the next step.

  
I lay the fiber on one of the carders. (They look like large cat combs.)  The other comb goes over the top and the fibers are nicely combed out.

  
I lift this off. I don’t roll it up though. I like my fiber loose when I spin so I lay it delicately in yet another paper bag.

  
I only comb up enough to use in a single sitting. Just like when I quilt, I can’t do all of one step.  In other words, I never wash the whole fleece, then card the whole fleece then spin it up. I do a little of each. It keeps it interesting! 

So that’s how I prep fiber.

New Project

9 Jul

Since I finished the blue hand-dyed, hand-spun socks yesterday, I was able to start looking for the next project. I considered NOT knitting socks. How about a scarf, gloves, or a hat. But those just didn’t appeal to my summer knitting self. Plus I need a portable project that I can take to dental appointments and Japanese lessons. I need something that can last for the next month and fit in my purse.  Socks…. That’s the only viable solution.

  
This pattern has been in my queue for a while. It’s cuff-down – my least favorite way to knit socks. Why? It takes forever to cast on with the slip stitch cast on. I have to do at least three rows on DPNs (double pointed needles) because I twist the first row with circs. And finally, I like increases in the toes instead of decreases because I feel like they hold up better. But I like this pattern so I am taking my time (still had to start one twice because I messed something up!).

Here is my yarn.

  
Dang, it’s soft! The color is borderline darker than it should be to reflect the light and see all the textures of this pattern. But I think it will be okay.

Had back issues last night. I have no idea what caused it. I thought those kidney stones were the cause. I haven’t had issues since having the surgery. But, man, I was in pain all last night! A TENS unit alternating with ice has helped today and I’m about 89% good. ( 90% is just too much of a commitment). I’m paying more attention to how I’m sitting and trying not to be a couch potato and I hope that helps.

More Socks

8 Jul

   
 
The color is off because of the lighting. They are more blue than green. But they are finished. DJ had a dental appointment this week so I had an hour of knitting to finish up the last leg. These took a month because I only knit them in the car, at appointments, etc. I used up almost all of my dyed handspun for this pair.

I’ve been spinning the alpaca.

  
I have two skeins done now. 8.4 oz. I’m trying to make 4 oz skeins but I’m either under or over. I have to figure out how to be closer if not right on 4 oz.

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