That is all.
I’ve missed you too… July 13, 2012
The past 6 weeks or so have been unbelievably hectic for me. I am, for all intents and purposes, living in two places. I feel like I am moving on a weekly basis as I pack-up clothes and kit and go from the apartment to the farm, farm to the apartment. Between these commutes, I have a LOT of driving for my job. Nearly 400 miles a week at one point.
But my work has only been part of what has kept me from the blog. Another part has been applying and getting accepted to graduate school (again). I am working on my Master’s degree in Agricultural Education. The specific degree that I am seeking is a non-thesis one, which will allow me to get my teaching credentials so that I can teach at a high school or 2 year college when I am done. I started off taking a class already this summer in Ag Mechanics. I have already had classes in nearly every other area that I needed for this degree except for agricultural mechanics. So, that’s how I ended-up becoming a Briggs and Stratton Master Service Technician this summer. Also, I did a lot of welding. I really love welding, so that part wasn’t too bad, especially since we were getting to play with practically brand-new Miller welders! I found out that I have a gift for a type of oxy-acytelene that I had never gotten to play with. But small engines? Argh! I usually can’t even get a lawn mower started! However, I did well in the class despite my issues with engines in the past and now I probably could diagnose a problem even if I still can’t get it started:-) Also, I now have a rockin’ welding mask to call my own as well as a bunch of other necessary safety equipment.
Since I will be starting to go to school full-time in the autumn, I also had to find a new place to live as my apartment lease is up at the end of July. I have found a place where I can even take Meara with me(!!) that is near the Vet Med college at Iowa State. So, in addition to my weekly ‘moving’, I am actually moving at the end of the month.
I’ve also been gardening, but the massive heat wave that we’ve had here has made it pretty difficult to do. Since I am working in greenhouses and we’ve had multiple days where it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside when I am at home the very last thing on this earth that I want to do is to go outside into the heat. For anything. So the garden got a little neglected and weedy. The worst is the back garden which is the thistle patch from HELL right now. However, the tomatoes have started fruiting and we are staring down a tomatopalooza coming in the next couple of weeks as the Roma tomatoes all start becoming ripe. Also, a onionpalooza, but that isn’t as scary to me.
I’ve done a little knitting and crochet lately. Mostly it seems like I am working on baby blankets. There are a passel of babies being born to friends of mine in the next couple of months so I need to get hooking! I’ve also been doing a little knitting on my sock yarn blanket for which I have been faithfully collecting new and different types of sock yarn. If anyone out there is looking for a trading partner for mini skeins of yarn for a sock yarn blanket, give me a shout. I have a LOT:-)
But I haven’t forgotten about y’all in all of this insanity. I have a massive backlog of photos that I need to sort through and show you. Hopefully, I will get started on that this weekend. Since I don’t really have that started yet, I give you a gratuitous Sweetie Pie shot.
The End is Near April 27, 2012
I feel like I’ve been working on this blanket for little Matthew forever, even if it really hasn’t been all that long. It’s just that it’s, well, boring. With my normal scrapghans, I can change color whenever I feel like it, thus alleviating the boredom of non-stop half-double crochets. However, with this blanket, there’s no such relief valve. It’s either Hot Red or Bright Yellow 24/7 and it’s making me want to rip my eyes out. However, I have decided that the end is neigh for this unholy blanket of boredom! I am adding one more yellow stripe to it and then it’s going to get another thick red end and I am done with the hooking. However, I hope that I can still find the fabric to be sewn onto one side of it. I put it back into my storage unit when I decided to frog it a few months ago.
Anyway, it is going to be done and done one way or another by the end of next week. I am declaring it so!
In other news… Miss Sweetie Pie is back from her big visit to the vet to become a grown-up cat. Which, in case you didn’t know, in the case of a female cat is called a Queen. So, I guess you could say that her crown has been taken? However you want to say it, she has been spayed and is recovering nicely. She spent a night at the vets and was quite ready to come home today. She’s moving slowly, but doesn’t seem to be in any pain and the stitches are the dissolving kind, so all that’s left is to keep an eye on her for a few days.
One thing that is amusing is that she is clearly annoyed with the shaved part of her tummy. Each time she seems to get fixated on it I keep telling her it’s her, “Summer Haircut”
She’s not buying it.
Doctor Strangelove April 6, 2012
Today I made an appointment for little Miss Sweetie Pie to get spayed next week. Since it is warming up rapidly, I want to get her out of my room!!!!! She is a teensy bit destructive and annoying and I am tired of being scratched and bloody (it’s how she shows her affection… purr, purr BITE!). However, I can’t put her outside in her current state as I’m sure that she would be preggers faster than you can say, “What’s your sign baby?”.
In other news, I will be attending my first fiber festival since being back Stateside. It’s called Shepherd’s Harvest and it’s held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. My mom is going with me and is thinking about taking a weaving class while there. I’ve never gone to this festival before and I’ve never gone to a fiber event with mom, so this should be interesting on several different levels! I heard about it because Deb Robson tweeted that she is going to be there and I plan on catching her talk on Saturday night.
I have been hooking and knitting, but that crazy thing called “having a full-time job” has seriously cut into my crafty time. (Not that I am complaining, I am very happy to have gainful employment, it just means that the crafty doesn’t flow quite a quickly as it was!) I finished this scrapghan this weekend.
It’s a little different from my usual version in that I experimented with fringe. I think that it adds a bit of a playful aesthetic to it, but I doubt that I will do it again. It just got in the way a lot and was really time-consuming in the end. It’s going to be raffled off by the Ackley American Legion Auxiliary in the coming months as a fundraiser.
I thought for sure that it was headed for the frog pond because I couldn’t find any more of the red yarn. I looked in Michael’s and JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby and not one of them carried this particular shade of red. Guess where I found it. Wal-Mart. I detest going into that store, but it’s really the only thing sort-of local and while I was in there looking for something else I just moseyed down the yarn aisle and there it was, bright as day, just sitting there! It’s a good thing I really didn’t want to rip it out as now I have enough yarn to finish the blanket! Woot woot! And, I am planning on taking a little weekend trip out to Chicago to see Sarah and her crew in the next few weeks so hopefully I will have it finished by the time I get there and can give it to the little guy in person. Just in time for summer…
Tricraftual February 8, 2012
I realized that I’ve not really written about what is on my needles, wheel or hook lately. I’ve actually been pretty good about giving all of my current projects some attention each day. It’s just worked-out that one is good for waiting time, one is good for watching TV, and one is good for when the other two bore me!
First up is my Kaleidoscope by Dutch Knitting Design. I’m pleased with the fact that I am past the armholes and they are, you know, holey and that I can actually get my arms through them! It is going to sound silly, but I’ve never cast-off in the middle of a row and then cast back on again, so the holiness of the arms is a bit of a miracle! However, once I was past the slightly scary armholes, I was on to the super easy-to-remember lace section which has made this a good purse knitting project. One row of easy-peasy design knitting and then a row of purls back. The rest of the body is pretty much made like this, so it will be purse knitting until it doesn’t fit easily in my purse anymore. It’s being knit out of Noro Silk Garden Sock in colorway S321 and should use two balls of it.
Next up is yet another crocheted baby scrapghan. The baby that this one is for has already finished her gestation and is fast on her way to holding her head up and rolling over on her own, so I’d best get my butt in gear!
Finally I get to the spinning. I am doing something that is probably a tad on the crazy side (not fully over there, just edging that way!). I am spinning the lovely merino/cashmere/nylon blend from BugSnugger that I picked-up at Sticks and String. I got three-four ounce braids.
I have divided each of the braids into three sections lengthwise, which I rolled into balls (nine balls).
I plan on spinning each of those balls separately so that I can do as many or as few plies as I need for the specific projects that I have in mind for this wool. It is spinning super fine and I got about 66wpi when I measured it so I may need all nine plies if I am to make a worsted weight out of it. I don’t plan on making all worsted, but maybe some as well as some fingering. We’ll see how much I end-up with when I am done with it all! So far I have spun one of the balls and have made good headway into a second.
A post about what I’m working on wouldn’t be complete without an update on my “Forever Stole” which is what I have decided to call it since it is taking me FOREVER to make. This project, oddly enough, is the one that I take when I know I am going to be in a spectacularly mis-lit location. It is white, which makes it easy to see and it’s small and portable. And it’s still chugging along. Forever….
And of course, no blog post these days is really complete without a Red photo!
Elf on Strike December 22, 2011
So I have started my spinning again. I couldn’t for the first few weeks that I was here because the wheel was in transport. Then once it got here I needed to find the rest of the bits of it as they were packed away in the bewilderingly labeled boxes. By the time that I finally found them, it was time for Christmas knitting and crochet!
Which I am now avoiding by spinning.
I had a hard time deciding what I was going to spin but finally I settled on this:
It’s from Easyknits and it’s called Winter Berry. It’s 80% Superfine Merino and 20% Black Diamond (Carbonized Bamboo). I think that this was a club fiber and it is really lovely to spin. My night-time photo doesn’t show it very well, but it’s a lovely blend of grey, a dusky blue and red.
So, you might be wondering, what is it that has me avoiding it so strongly? It is this:
Yes, this is the “Cars” themed blanket that seems like A.) it sucks down yarn faster than a cargo van sucks down gas driving into a 30mph headwind B.) it is doomed in its current incarnation (mostly because of A.). I started on this blanket in my usual fashion which in this case meant asking my mom how big a 3-4 year-old is. I asked her because she’s had 2 of them and I’ve had none at this point. After getting to see said child this week, I realized that this blanket would (in its current incarnation) be too large for him to carry. Doh. A shocking lack of knowledge about small children strikes again!
In completely unrelated news (other than, you know, it’s the Christmas season thus winter here in the Northern Hemisphere) it snowed last night.
This is one of those pretty, white dusting snows rather than the last one which was just confused rain.
Snow makes everything prettier, even Micheal!
The view of town.
Have a great day!
Christmas on the Cheap November 20, 2011
I know that I’m not the only person doing a seriously skimpy Christmas this year with the economy and unemployment being what they are. But what if you need a present for some sort of gift exchange or for a person who’s given you a pressie that you feel the need to return the deed. Don’t despair! With a little forethought you can have a handful of Christmas presents at the ready!
Give the gift of Green
I’m not talking about cash here! I’m talking about houseplants! Take a pair of clippers to that overgrown pothos or that spider plant laden with pups and propagate! Many of the most common houseplants propagate easily and quickly. There are tons of houseplant web sites that will help you identify which houseplant you have living in your home or office and then tell you the proper way to propagate it. If the instructions call for something kinda complex like air layering, chose a different houseplant to use. You want instructions that say something along the lines of, “Cut off piece of plant. Stick in soil. Water. Repeat.” Overgrown African Violets are really good for this as quite often you just have to chop-up one plant to get many, many fully formed little plants! And really, who doesn’t like an African Violet (just don’t give folks dozens at a time as this tends to overwhelm them!).
If you are a crafty person chances are you have a stash of whatever medium it is that you work in. Quilters have fabric stashes, knitters and crocheters have yarn stashes, jewelery makers have bead stashes and scrapbook makers have paper stashes… it’s just sort of what crafters do. So try to make a gift using only what you find in your stash. If you are anything like me, then this should be reasonably easy to do. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a magnum opus that you are making here, it’s a present for goodness sake! Keep it simple and sane. If you know someone is getting a kindle for Christmas, quilt them a cover (just make sure that they open it after the Kindle!) Someone likes to cook? Embroider/cross stitch inexpensive kitchen towels with their initials or something otherwise personalizing. Knitters and crocheters can always make dish clothes and potholders. Pet lover? Make toys for their pets! Kids are easy as they are usually small and fast to craft for. Mittens are good idea for them if you live in a cold area. Hand crafted Christmas ornaments are a staple in this area. Just remember, you aren’t in third grade anymore, gluing cotton balls to a cut-out snowman isn’t going to cut it:-) Try to make the ornament fit the theme of their tree if they have such a thing or personalize it to them in some way.
Get them Crafting
If you have a rather voluminous stash of whatever media you use, consider making a kit to get someone started on your craft of choice accompanied by the offer of instruction or time on your machine (if a machine is involved). Everyone that I know has materials that they bought early in their crafting experience that they probably aren’t going to use but that a newbie might love (I’m looking at you all that bulky yarn in the corner!). To me, this is one of the best gifts that you can give. It’s especially great if you are going to be stuck in a house with bored, overstimulated kids. Teaching young ones to knit or crochet (or finger crochet if they are really little!) or cross stitch or whatever it is that you do will help keep both you and their parents less snappy when the appeal of the battery operated toys wears off. It’s amazing how quiet kids are when they are concentrating on something new!
Give the gift of time
Nearly everyone needs someone to step in and take care of things once in a while. It doesn’t matter if they have kids, pets, houseplants or a car sooner or later nearly everyone needs a favor. So offer it in the form of a coupon that you make yourself. You can be as generous as you would like and it really is saving that person cash too! Last time I checked, babysitting isn’t cheap anymore! And I know that dog walking isn’t! If you’re kinda handy, you can offer to change their car’s oil or whatever special skill that you have that they will need. Mowing the lawn or shoveling the walk are good ones too! It may seem really cheap to do this, but think about how much they would have to pay someone to do this for them and you will see that it’s really actually a pretty nice present! This is an excellent idea for older folks as they may need more help with chores around the house and who can be particularly difficult to buy presents for.
I’m a big fan of the baked good as gift. I know that this doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone on your list as a lot of folks now have special diets that make it more complicated to cook or bake for them. However, a plateful of cookies is always a lovely hostess gift in my opinion. I tend to save any and all Christmas themed tins that food comes in from the year before or buy the themed plates at the super-duper everything has got to go right now clearance sales that happen in Feb. Stick to what you do well and then make lots of it! Go ahead and experiment on new recipes but if they blow be willing to crank out with a few batches of a tried and true food that you make really well. Even if it isn’t particularly “festive” if it’s tasty few will complain!
Help them cook!
There are tons of ideas online for gifts like cookie mix in a jar, or soup mixes in a jar, or even brownie mix in a jar. The dried soup mixes can be especially great if you tend to dehydrate your garden produce. You could be giving the person something that you grew yourself! Most of these mixes require a clean jar and the ingredients and maybe some paper to write or print the baking/cooking instructions on as well. These are nice for folks who are maybe living away from home for the first time or just don’t have a lot of time to cook.
Add to the Collection
A lot of people collect things. Now if you have someone who collects Ferrari’s on your list this year, you have my sympathy. However most people collect things that are a little easier to obtain. For these folks, you just need to keep an eye out. Garage sales, flea markets and auctions are great places to find collectables that are going for much less than they would at the antique mall or specialty shop. You only need to keep your eyes open!
Clean your house
One of my favorite presents that I got as a small child was a box full of make-up that my cousins no longer wanted. Mom confiscated the nail polish and lipstick before much damage had been done but I spent hours playing with my make-up box (more often as war paint than pretty lady type stuff, but that’s ok!). Your old eye-shadows and blushes that you aren’t using anymore would be coveted by a small child of a certain age. You would get bonus points if you have an old Caboodles case that you can put it all in! Obviously, this is one that you want to talk to the mother of the child about before you gift it. And don’t put nail polish in there, it’s hard to get out of the carpet! This is only one example of having something that someone else would love to have. Look around a little and see if there isn’t something that you have in an upstairs closet that the hipster in your life wouldn’t love. Apparently grandpa’s cardigans are hip again! Fondue parties are making a comeback too! And gardeners all over the place are rediscovering canning and jamming, making that shelf-full of canning jars a hot commodity!
Give the gift of Safety
Make a winter car safety kit like I spoke about in my last post. It’s super easy to do and other than a couple of bottles of water and snacks, you probably won’t need to buy anything too expensive if at all. The blanket in my case is a lovely wool one that had a few moth holes in it already. This isn’t a showcase, it’s a survival kit so who cares! A clean, used blanket will work just as well as a brand new one. Same goes for the gloves/hat/scarf combo and candles (I’m using half-burned Christmas candles in mine!). Just make sure that it is all clean and together and maybe labeled so that they don’t accidentally unload it from the car when bringing in groceries:-)
Christmas shouldn’t be all about going into debt and getting stressed-out about it in the New Year. Before you buy a present, stop and think about what that person really needs. Often a well-thought less expensive present will trump an expensive present any day of the week!