Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stress and the power of crafting

Last week was stress-filled. One could argue, given the profession that I practice, that every day is stress-filled. True, I've gotten used to a higher-than-average baseline blood cortisol level---par for the course for any healthcare worker. While the day-to-day nature of the job has become 'just what I do,' interpersonally butting up against one's co-workers is something I don't go out of my way to do. But, it happened, I said something that I felt needed to be said in what I thought was a professional manner and it blew up big time.

So, more than a week out from that, I'm still not quite right. Mentally, the strain has almost dissipated, but my physical well-being suffers for a long time after such incidents. You see, I suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and stress can really do a number on that condition, enough said. It's at these times in my life that I turn, in a desperate way, to the calming force of making things with my hands. Now, let me just say that if there is a day that goes by that I don't get to do a little something crafty, I do get cranky, but that's a whole other thing. What I'm talking about here is a psychic immersion---to quiet the mind, body, and spirit----similar to that "Calgone, take me away" commercial.

About two weeks ago, I received via mail, the first installment of Yarn Knot---a "yarn tasting" of sorts available from Dirty Water Dyeworks (this proprietor had me at hello). So what exactly is Yarn Knot? It's a quarterly subscription to a variety of hand-dyed yarn blends in exclusive color ways complete with a suggested pattern. So, this first installment (which is like getting a package for your birthday!!) contained a luscious skein of 50/50 Merino/Silk blend fingering weight yarn in hues of blue----yum, I'm in love........oh, yes and the pattern is for a lovely lace shawl called the Dover Castle Shawl by Judy Marples. Now I've never been an honest-to-goodness girlie girl, so lace has never really made it that far into my wardrobe. I have to say that I'm totally smitten with this lace pattern---it's got a nice rhythm to it---not so difficult that you have to have your eyes glued to the chart every second, but engrossing enough to let you escape from the real world.

Here's the best part....the colorway is named Adrift!!  Kind of how the mind feels when it's under stress, but also, ironically, that place you want to go to when all hell is breaking loose. 

I'm sure that I will eventually give this shawl to some happy, lucky recipient because, like I said, I really don't "do lace." The process of knitting it will be a gift to me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Grabbing hold

Hello friends & folks:
Long time, no hear from me---so I realize......and for those of you who were tuning into my podcast.......even more silence. So, here's the thing, I have placed the podcast on indefinite hiatus.......I know, so unfortunate for all of us, but my schedule just wouldn't allow for it---and if there's one thing that middle age has taught and shown me again and again it's that it is wise to know one's limitations. I work 32 hours a week outside my home, I have a small farm of animals and now a vegetable garden that need tending.......not to mention my voracious appetite for ANY craft that involves wool/fiber! Add in that I've become a gym rat and you don't have too many hours left in the day to turn on a microphone. Aside from all of these excuses, my prowess has always been the written word so to that end, I am devoting my energy to blogging not only about what I've covered before, but also other topics----which normally would be yammer.....but I might, in the future, devote a whole post to a particular topic. So come join the adventure.......

Fiber Conquests, whilst catching up on other folks' podcasts today, I came to the shock and realization that today, June 29th, is the first day of the Tour de Fleece.  The Tour de Fleece is a Ravelry-based spinning (yarn, not the thing you do at the gym) challenge where we spinners set a goal for ourselves (say, I'm going to spin enough yarn for a pair of mittens) and then try to meet that goal during the same time frame as the Tour de France......spinning of bicycle tires, spinning of spinning wheels, get it? Needless to say, I have failed miserably at this in years past mostly because my goal was simply out of reach. Read, Overachiever. This year, I'm going to start with a specified quantity of prepared roving in a vibrant color way which I purchased some time ago---at the Knitting & Crochet Show nearly a year ago (don't laugh, I have fiber that's way older than this). I've always wanted to  spin something from Abstract Fibers and so, here's my chance and I think this will hopefully,       fire up my passion for spinning again......

At least for now, it's something to grab hold of!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Episode 22 - January Thaw

Apologies for not getting the shownotes up for the last podcast..........I really, really did have them all typed up on my iPad and I totally lost the whole thing somehow.  And since time was of the essence, and it had already taken me two days to record the podcast, I just threw up my hands in disgust----I really will do better!  For one thing, I don't think I'll be using my laptop for recording or my iPad for blogging any longer---so long as the threat of losing material is so very real on those devices!

This past weekend it was over 40 degrees outside---our January Thaw here in Vermont.  I took Bentley and Cooper for a walk and we slogged through the slush---they didn't seem to mind.  They just like being out in the snow.  A little change up in the podcast----I'll be putting "Sleeping on the Job" on a temporary hiatus and replacing it, for now, with----dare I say it?----a Knit-Along (KAL--for those of you who enjoy acronyms).  More about the KAL later........

Fiber Conquests


I'm still working on the Sebastian Gloves by Kristin Nicholas (A Classic Elite pattern booklet---and I believe you can buy just the pattern PDF for the gloves-$6.00- at WEBS)  If you look at the picture, I'm making the mostly pink-colored ones---but I do have yarn for the others.  The yarn, of course, is Color by Kristin and it has 50% wool, 25% alpaca, 25% mohair. Nice stuff---but I'd expect no less from a designer such as Kristin Nicholas.

I took a class a one of my LYSs:  The Whippletree in Woodstock, VT.  We made the Stained Glass Hat, a Green Mountain Spinnery pattern.  I used a solid color yarn (brown) for the background and a self-striping yarn from Poems for the "windows."  The class was fun and our instructor Karen was kind and patient---always very good qualities in a teacher.  This class gave me the confidence (and the practice of holding a yarn in each hand) to pursue the construction of one of my UFOs (un-finished objects) which has been languishing and hibernating for two years:  the Norwegian Roses Cardigan from GMS.  I had to frog what I already had knitted (which was only two inches or so..........but frogging colorwork can be a bear!) because my gauge was off and now that I'm using a new technique for the colorwork, of course, my gauge is going to be different.  I really enjoy doing colorwork---takes my mind into a deep place where time stands still for just a little you know what I mean?  So, off I go....


So much to crochet, so little time..........contemplating starting yet another project in crochet...........can you say 'Start-itis?'  The Crochet Circle Vest first caught my eye on the Craftsy website whilst I was purchasing yet a few more on-line classes!!  More about that, hopefully, later down the line.  I'm thinking that I'll crochet this in some of the millspun yarn from the flock---namely the rich, dark, worsted-weight yarn from the fleeces of Dugel and Harvey.  I had quite a bit of a ball left over from knitting up the fingerless mitts for my brother----you can't let stuff like that go to waste now!  Anyway, I went on over to Ravelry and low and behold, the pattern was there as well---so I bought and downloaded that puppy straight away.  More on that later.........


The long, loving process of processing Harvey's fleece for spinning continues---I am, more or less, chipping away at it ever so slowly whenever I have a few minutes to flick-card.

What's happening in the barn and on the farm?

We are happily anticipating the arrival of Tasmania ("Tassie")---our bred BFL ewe from the state of Massachusetts.  She will be arriving on Saturday, January 19.  She'll join Sayda in sisterhood and I have no doubt that they will get along famously---BFLs are such a kind, gentle sort---unlike my Shetlands who tend to want to 'redecorate' the barn come February-March.  And, come April, hopefully, we'll have a lamb or two to boot!

The chickens are thriving---we get about 2 eggs a day.  The DH set up a light with a timer in their coop to give them a "longer" day in hopes that this will stimulate egg production/laying.  My two French Angora rabbits share half of the annex with the chickens so hopefully, that light is not keeping them up at night! :-)

Cooper after a long walk
Bentley and Cooper are loving the snow of winter and hopefully, it won't all be gone with this spring-like weather we've been having for the past couple of days.  Cooper is in full-blown adolescence and will 'pick and choose' to listen from time to time.  I feel blessed though that Puppy Kindergarten and Level I dog classes have been effective because he comes when called, and, like the instructor said, this is the most important thing that you can teach a dog to do.

Ray continues his hunter duties in the house---Doora chooses to nap frequently and chase Ray when she has the energy.  Our backyard bird feeder is a busy place---we enjoy watching the birds and know that we need to get our "fill" now before the feeders need to come down when the bears come out.


For lack of a better place and because I don't yet know what to call the segment for our KAL, I'm putting this in the Yammer for now.  Yes, Counting Sheep is having a Knit-Along (it's first---the maiden voyage!).  The pattern is the Capricloak by designer Maureen Clark.  This is a Green Mountain Spinnery pattern and it can be found for purchase (via instant PDF download or snail-mail) at their website.
The pattern requires approximately 784 yards of a bulky weight yarn.  I'll be using GMS's Capricorn yarn in the Natural Dark.  Looks like a nice, cozy project for the winter.  We'll start it on February 3rd and that will give everyone about 3 weeks to gather materials.  Should knit up fast at 3 stitches per inch.  Come and join us!