Monday, November 26, 2012

Episode 19 - A Renaissance

A rebirth of hiatus from the podcast has lasted way too long:  late spring, all of summer, and most of fall.  The podcast has been "reborn," but with the same segments; new material.  Thanks to everyone for sticking by me and waiting for another episode to pop up!  Episode 19 had a rocky start with my recording the intro 5 times before 'getting it right.'  I'm using a different microphone (the built-in one rather than the headset).  Let me know if the sound quality is better, worse or just the same!  So, let's get on with it, shall we?

Fiber Conquests

In knitting:  I am actually participating in a KAL!!  Woo-hoo!  Well, I've tried this before---I had a lack-luster showing during the Ravelenic Games where I foolishly thought that my break-neck schedule would allow me to finish a simple knitted vest in two weeks during the summer!  The joke was on ME. 

The KAL I'm in right now is hosted by Star Athena (on Ravelry) and it is called the Mystery Cowl KAL.  It's pretty simple:  I ordered the recommended yarn from Blue Moon---it's a bulky weight Merino yarn called De-vine, but I suppose you could use any bulky weight yarn.  I think the colorways offered by Blue Moon really make this project shine.  My colorway is Currier & Ives, which I wasn't fond of so much in the skein, but the cowl is looking really good.  Can't post any pictures yet as it is a mystery after all----will post the finished cowl when it's done which should be this week.  The KAL consists of 3 clues;  one released per week on Tuesdays.  The last clue is due this Tuesday!  It's been fun to see this develop! This cowl will most likely be a Christmas gift for someone in my family.

If you'd like to participate, here's the link for the KAL info:

Small sock started in class
In other knitting news:  I took a class with Beth Brown-Reinsel at WEBS as part of my Expert Knitter's Certification Program.  The class was Twined  which is a Swedish knitting technique whereby two strands of the same color yarn are twined around each other, and creates a warmer, denser fabric than conventional stranded knitting. So cool!  In class, we started and worked on a very small sock to learn the technique-----but there is no way this sock is going to fit me and I'm all about utility, so I bought Beth's Twined Knitted Socks pattern that she designed herself.

Beth is a lovely lady and a wonderful teacher with the patience of a saint.  I pondered to her out loud about designing a Twined-knitted sweater for my Capstone Project----she was so gracious and offered to be a consultant for me!  Beth lives right here in Vermont----she's 'just down the road' from me..................maybe, if I get crazy enough to hold a Counting Sheep Podcast Retreat someday, I can convince her to teach at the meantime, find her info here:

Crochet Corner:

So the gauntlet has been thrown down at work for a hat contest at this year's Holiday party for our anesthesia department.  No men need apply------------because they are having their own contest which involves facial hair. 

The start of my cloche
Of course, I cannot BUY a hat to wear, I have to make one right?  I'm crocheting the Fine Feathered Cloche by Linda Cyr out of Clever Crocheted Accessories.  The book is full of do-in-a-weekend projects and there's not a dud in the book.  I'm loving the stitch detail on the cloche which is finished off with grosgrain ribbon and some sort of floral pick of choice---mine might be holly berries or some such thing.........I'm using Lamb's Pride Worsted in Seafoam.

Well most of you know about my great intentions of joining the Knitmore Girls' SPAKAL---what an Epic fail on my part.  Work on Harvey's fleece has stalled because it's far easier to travel with my drop spindle in tow which already has another project on it.  The roving on my drop spindle is so old---I'm not even sure if I dyed this roving or if I bought it (how pathetic is that?!?)
BUT, it's almost all spun up and it's destination you ask?  It will stay as a single and I intend to crochet the Boho Blocks Cardigan by Valentina Devine from Interweave Crochet Magazine Fall 2006.

In Crochet Shirret:
Had LOTS of interest in the Shirret at the shows---I demo the technique and display some of the things I've made.  I'm brainstorming big time about writing up some of these patterns so stay tuned for more of that----------I'm lucky to have my own personal photographer (the DH) on hand to help with the self-publishing!

I am learning Rigid Heddle Weaving via an on-line class through Craftsy.  Not to worry, this is not going to turn into a podcast about weaving---just trying to burn through some stash quickly.  I mention this only because I want to encourage you to visit the Crafsy website and take a look at what they offer in terms of learning new crafting techniques.  I'm really enjoying this platform---it allows you to view the video, pause it wherever you like, rewind it, view it again, bookmark it, and take notes right on screen.  In addition, you can e-mail the instructor with any questions you have and posting pictures of your finished projects is highly encouraged.  I was firmly convinced that weaving was not for me after two different several-week classes on basic weaving.  What I found is that I needed some individual attention/instruction in order to learn to weave (I guess it's just how I'm wired) and thankfully, Craftsy has provided such instruction.  Really, I'm not a paid spokesperson for Craftsy (although I wish I were! ;-), I just love this learning platform---I've even learned how to make cheese----and I'm now a cheese monster!  So go on over and check it out!  If you hurry, all classes are $19.99 until midnight 11/26!

What's happening on the farm?  In the barn?

Cooper is what's happening!! Our new, bouncing, springing, Golden Retriever puppy arrived early July.  He settled in well and graduated from both Puppy-K and Level I Obedience.  We had great intentions of going onto Level II Obedience and then taking a test to see if we'd be a good therapy dog but alas, the classes turned out to be more exhausting to me than they were to Cooper.  Cooper had fun with all his dog friends at class and now has bonded well with Bentley (who at first, was a bit indifferent to his presence).

Sheep:  No new babies at all---which begs the question:  is Seymour interested in anybody but himself?  We fought the good battle this summer trying to rotate the sheep on pasture so that they had enough to eat---the drought was challenging.  They are eating hay now and are pretty happy I'm sure that they don't have to go "searching" for suitable grass for a while.  The vet comes for a farm visit this Thursday to give shots and to make sure everyone is healthy---it's our once-a-year visit.

On a sad note, we've lost all of our chickens to a very hungry, very tenacious raccoon.  We had started to free-range our chickens in the spring so that they could get out on the lawn to eat bugs and do their chicken thing.  I guess the raccoon caught wind of this and it was one disaster after another with the last three chickens being carried off in October.  We are planning on reinforcing the housing with cinder blocks dug deep----should resemble Fort Knox when the DH gets done with it.  We'll try again in the spring with starter pullets---looks like we can get chickens from the supplier as early as March---that will be nice since I am now totally addicted to farm-fresh eggs!

In gardening news, the garden has been put to bed for the fall.  It didn't really do well this year for two reasons:  the drought and my lack of keeping up with watering and the lack of rototilling in the spring.  So, we did a "lasagna" compost this fall.  We layered newspaper, chopped up leaves, and then compost on the garden.  We're hoping that this rejuvenates the soil and gives us some good crops next year.

Sleeping on the Job

Being supportive is such a simple concept and yet it alludes us sometimes.  It can simply be, listening, not offering any advice, just being there for another colleague or individual at work.  I have, in my not-so-distant past, been in management.  Management, as a career, and I do not see eye-to-eye.  Perhaps it's my German upbringing, but I don't have a great deal of tolerance for having to tell any of my colleagues how to do their job----I just assume that if you are a professional, you should know your job.  So, now as an employee again---a nurse anesthetist whose job is to give anesthesia without managing other colleagues---I can see both sides of the coin.  I am sympathetic to the trials and tribulations of managing and I understand the daily 'trenchwork' which, quite frankly, isn't too bad at all.  Anyway, I find myself, more than ever, being supportive to those who have the onorous job of managing others.

Book reviewCast On, Bind OFF:  211 Ways to Begin and End Your Knitting by Cap Sease.  Published by Martingale 2012.  160 pages.  Retails for $27.99.  Two thumbs up for this book.  I like the idea of having so many options when it comes to starting and ending.  The author has provided great illustrations (for us visual learners) as well as text (for those of us who excell at following  the written word).  Also, the purpose of each cast-on and bind-off is explained---that is to say, should you want a more structured vs. a more stretchy effect.  I love some of the names given to the various techniques; some are named after the people who invented them.  The index is a great resource if you need to reference one of these techniques quickly. The book is spiral-bound which is a great feature since the book will open flat on a surface and tuck away nicely into a bag.

We are having a give-away of one copy of this book to a lucky listener.  In order to enter, please go over to the Counting Sheep Podcast group in Ravelry and leave a reply on the thread:  "What is your favorite cast-on and/or bind-off?"  On New Year's Eve, I will use a random number generator to select the winner of this book.

Hurricane Sandy:
This storm hit the mid-Atlantic area hard including New Jersey, my state of origin.  I spent many a summer day at the Jersey shore and many of the photos I've viewed on the news in the current weeks have been heart wrenching.  My heart goes out those affected by the storm.  My parents and my sister and her family reside inland and thankfully, are safe.  They had some downed trees as well as long power outages, but it all pales in comparison to those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.  Like Vermont with Irene, I know those folks will prevail---keep the faith my friends!