Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Special Deliveries

While I have been away from blogging (mostly because it kept raining & I couldn't take any pictures to share) I received two very unexpected and very special packages. The first box was sitting on our screened-in porch after we returned from a hectic day of being out-and-about and not coming home with everything we set out to get which I always find very frustrating and time-wasting. The box was ultra-light for its size and the return address read Lladyhawk Llamas & Lavender...aha! could it be?? Yes, it was!! a box of 3 gorgeous, soft-like-clouds fully processed llama fiber batts. I immediately called my dear cousin (DC) - she the owner of Lladyhawk - and profusely thanked her. She had just had her llamas shorn and, knowing my love of all colors brown and that I have become a fanatical spinster, she packed up about 10-ounces and sent it to me. Now...what will I do with this treasure? Spin each color separately or blend them all together & spin a tweedy yarn or blend each with one of my sheep rovings or together...or...or...decisions, decisions...but very nice decisions. Thanks again, DC.

A couple of days later, we were again out-and-about again (we do that a lot it seems) and, again, when we returned we found a mystery box on our porch. The return address told me it was from a very good 'tea-business-related' friend who now lives in SC (look for her on the web at The Cat-Tea Corner and be sure to check out TeaGuide and her CraftTea Designs...scarfs, t-shirts & pillow covers she has dyed with tea!). This box, too, was very light for its size and when we opened it, out popped ALPACA fleece in shades of...you guessed it...brown & beige...I guess my favorite color is not a mystery to anyone. Also included in this very special package were a card with a tea-bag (China White Mint) attached and a skein of already spun and plied Alpaca (I will make a lace scarf from this yarn...she how brave I have become about YOs! Thank you, dear Rita!)...WOW! The card informed me that the fleece had been sheared just 2 weeks ago at an alpaca farm near her home and that the lighter colored fleece was from Kudzu and the darker was from Knight...I love connecting with my 'fleece' by knowing their names. This 4-ounces of fiber needs to washed and carded and I look forward to the process as I have never prepared Alpaca fiber.

So now I have llama and alpaca to spin along with the pounds and pounds of Border Leicester and Dorset AND all the other rovings I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool and Rhinebeck last year - I had best chain myself to my spinning wheel and spin and spin and spin and ply and ply and ply and then knit and knit and knit and, oh yes, throw in some carding. I was under the impression that I became involved in all of this because I didn't want a job?!? I had better brew some of the China White Mint tea and sit back and relax before I tackle all this fiber - there is always tomorrow...and tomorrow...and tomorow and.....

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Dreaded YOs

I finally 'bit-the-bullet' so to speak by taking my first lesson in lace knitting (or is it, knitting lace?). I have always had difficulties with yarn-overs and avoid them at all costs. I decided to finally 'grow-up' and address my nemesis; and not the least, many sock patterns I want to knit have yarn-overs and I LOVE to knit socks. So I asked a very accomplished lace-knitting friend to give me a lesson in YOs. I realize it is not so much making the YO...that is easy enough; my problem arises when I come back the other way and have to knit...in the case of the pattern I am using, purl...into the YOs from the previous row. My friend, knowing I like both cats and history, chose the perfect first lace pattern for me: Elizabeth Lovick's Cat's Paw Scarf, which is a traditional Estonian lace pattern stitch. I am generally not a 'lacy-type' of person but this pattern appealed. For the lesson, I brought some stunning Merino light sock yarn in a gorgeous shade of brown (those of you that know me will not be surprised by my yarn color choice), a size US#5, 16" Addi Turbo needle, cute stitch markers from MDKnits and as much courage as I could summon to face the 'dreaded YOs'! Everything went very well as I cast-on 34 stitches (the yarn was slippery...not a good sign for my first lace attempt)...twice, and then k 5 rows...so far-so-good. Then I tackled the first row that had yarn-overs...under the keen & learned eye of my very patient teacher, success was mine! A full row containing...count them... EIGHT YOs, I was on a roll! By the end of the lesson I had completed 6 pattern rows making the complete Cat's Paw which could easily be seen when the scarf was stretched a bit. I thanked my friend & teacher profusely and headed home with my new skill in and 11 row scarf in tow. I was sure I had mastered the art of the YO. I was too cocky, too soon...what was I thinking...a 2 hour lesson made my an expert??? Not!!
That evening I sat down calmly and picked up the scarf, confident in my newly found ability to not shudder & shake at the thought of a YO...instead, I should have been trembling!. The first row went smoothly, the second row was a little bumpy & I had to frog most of the stitches. I persevered and the next 2 rows went pretty well...although all of my confidence had vanished by now...and then DH comes into the room asking me how many miles I had put on my car over the past 12 months? What??? I lost my place and had to frog that row....grrrr. Deep breath, tell DH not to talk to me until I come out of my knitting-space...he shakes his head & sighs (he knows how 'relaxing' I find knitting)...and I start the next row...which turns out to be a disaster! it is not even a YO row, it is a plain purl row...but I must purl into the YOs from the previous row and THAT is what I just cannot do succesfully every time. I wound up with 5 extra stitches by the end of the row :-( and when I tried to frog it, I could not figure out which were the YO's and which were the K2tog or SKPs...and so, I think, I will have to rip out the entire 17 rows and start all over again! But I will prevail, I will outsmart the dreaded YOs without a nervous breakdown! Maybe if I brew a cup of Lladyhawk Tea and sip it as I think calming thoughts, I might be able to sleep tonight.