Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gifted Love
by Vickie

Last year in the fall I joined the Secret Santa Swap via Ravelry. I think there were 25 sets of us or some number close to that. I was so excited to stick my toe back in the swap water. I had a bad experience once and have avoided them all these years since.

I had such a good time packing up my things for my partner that I really didn't focus on what I was going to get. I was totally in the moment of collecting things. I had so much fun that I even talked DH into helping me snoop out the best items from my person's list.

I received two skeins of yarn and am happy to say that I have completed both projects that called out to me for each skein. Just this now I finished the second skein and am happy to say that I think I have found a new kind of yarn that I like that isn't all wool.

I am getting to be such a yarn snob so when I got this yarn I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel about knitting with it. If you scroll down to the bottom of the display you will see this colorway #1812. It's called Stewart Island. The band on the ball does not have the official name but I found it when I was searching for a link for this entry. It's nice to know there is a real name not just a number.

I used #1 dpns and cast on a total of 72 stitches. The cuff is just and 2X2 ribbing that is approx. 2 inches. They are my "go to" pattern of socks titled, Sue Von Ohlsen's Favorite Socks. This is the pattern I learned to knit socks with. They aren't fancy but they fit like a glove. Ask my MIL. She got two pairs for this past Christmas. I got a lovely note from her that said she really liked them and they fit well. We wear about the same size.
Here are my unmatched feet in the socks with the camera flash on and here is one without...
Either way, my feet aren't a matched pair, but then neither are the socks, but I really don't care. They fit snugly enough for my needs and I know they will wear well in the washer and dryer. My kind of yarn and socks! Thanks to yarnmama797. I am very pleased with how my socks turned out.

The next skein that was in the box spoke to me as fingerless mitts. I made them first and here they are

I have been wearing the mitts lately driving to and from work. Saturday when I drove through a local coffee place, the girl handing me my coffee commented how cool and cute my gloves were. She really liked them. A complement always makes a knitter's day!

The pattern is from Farmhouse Yarns and is called Wine Country One-Skein Winter Mitts II. I didn't use their yarn because I already had my Santa Swap yarn. They are warm and softer than I had thought they would be. This pattern is perfect for a beginner. I had never made a hole that large (on purpose-lol!) in my knitting before. You just have to not over analyze the directions and take the leap of faith that it's going to be okay. It does work. I did much better with the second thumb than the first one. I also made one a few rows longer than the other but since they are under the sleeves of my jackets, not a big deal. I would like to make some more to give away and this is the perfect pattern to use for that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Frozen Water
by Vickie

I am not sure how good my photography is but I wanted to just put these pictures so all of you could see what we saw in downtown Anchorage. Every year the city of Anchorage has a New Year's Eve party called Fire and Ice. They wet down the center of a little park and make a nice smooth slick ice rink. That is where the city's Christmas tree is also. Then there is an ice sculpting contest. Huge blocks of ice are set up in the snow above the rink encircling it. Here is what we saw while the walked around downtown.
We were lucky enough to see many to the ice carvers actually working on their displays. I think that is supposed to be a Moose (which I never did see while I was there darn it)!

This is of a bear with a salmon in his paws.

This supposed to be the skyline of downtown Anchorage

This is of a goose

This is of the Anchorage Christmas Tree. It was so pretty when we saw it at night while downtown.

This is one of swimming salmon. They look like they are swimming up stream.

Okay, okay, so I did see one Moose...sorta...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wool Bounty
by Vickie

Back in the fall DH and I drove to Montpeiller for the Fall Fiber Festival. I had heard about it while a member of a spinning guild a while back. I decided that despite working for a few hours on a Saturday, we could leave after I got done teaching and then drive up there. So after work we hopped in the car and drive a few hours away from here and went to the festival. I had a purpose for going. I had four very dirty fleeces that needed to be processed. I had washed two myself and decided that I would just pay someone else to do the work for me this time. I had taken one fleece to give this place a try and they did such a good job, they got my business again. So now they have done a total of 5 fleeces for me. I just love how clean my fleeces come back. This time was no exception.

While we were in Alaska on Christmas vacation, a nice little (well not so little) box arrived. I took over a week to open the box. This is what I found...

As you can see there are four different shades in the box. They sure didn't look like that when I dragged them up to the festival. I am so pleased with how they look. I wish I could tell you the kinds of sheep the wool came from but I can't remember. Two of the fleeces came from a farm in Suffolk, VA and the other two were gifted to me and I never did write down the breeds.
This is the darkest of the fleeces that I sent off.
The one of the far right seems to have a bit more gray in it than the one above. When I sent them off they were equally dirty so I really couldn't tell what the "cleaned" color would end up being. I am pleased with both.

This one seems to be more an egg shell with a hint of yellow. I could mix it with anything but since I have never dyed yarn I was thinking that this one and the one below would be great ones for that.

All-in-all, I am very pleased with the roving. I saw the weight on the box and it totaled 15 pounds. That's going to be a lot of spinning and that's going to take me a while...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Great White Way
by Vickie
As you know from a previous posting that I spent Christmas in Anchorage, Alaska. I have some observations about our trip. My oldest son will be leaving for Afghanastan for a year and we wanted to spend time with him and his wife before he deploys. I think this trip to Alaska will be our first and last but who knows.

The flight there was long and exhuasting but we did get there and our luggage got there 36 hours after we did. We booked our flight on Northwest via Orbitz. Neither place informed us that anymore than a six hour layover means that you will have to fetch you luggage and re-check it for the next flight even if you are on the same airline. We had an eight hour layover in Minnesota. We found out that the Mall of America was just a tram ride away. So we got on the tram and spent some of our layover time there. We could have easily gotten our luggage and re-checked it if we had been informed. No one in Norfolk or Minnesota said one word. We got on the plane and left and didn't even know that the luggage was not going with us. Orbitz said they were responsible and of course Northwest said it was Orbitz that caused the problem. Lots of finger pointing.

Since there is a 4 hour time delay from the east coast to Alaska it was pretty tough sleeping. The sun doesn't come up until around 10:40 am and sets around 4:30 pm. Not a lot of sun during the winter months. I was up at 3 am ready to start the day and of course everyone else was out cold. At 7 pm I was toast. My DIL said it takes a week or so to get used to the time difference and I think towards the end of the trip I was getting the hang of it. Although going to work in the dark and coming home from work in the dark seems depressing to me, she said that you get used to it.

I found that the cold there is a dry cold so if you are planning to visit there take some lotion and drink plenty of water there. Your nose and skin tend to dry out there. I got a bloody nose while I was there. We have humid weather here so guess my nose had something to say about the dryness.

Before going, I had gone on to the Alaska Knitters site via Ravelry and inquired about shops in the Anchorage area that I should visit. I talked my son into taking me to two while I was there. One was next to a sporting goods store he wanted to visit anyway, so that was easy.

The first shop that I went to was
here. The quilt below is the first thing that got my attention. It's very hard to miss because if is so beautiful.

I just loved that someone from the shop made this quilt. This photo doesn't do it justice! I have always loved quilts. I am in awe of the time, patience and creativity it takes to put one together.
It's just lovely.

Something else that was notable were these..

Such pretty bags, but I really didn't have room after having to buy new clothes, but I did make three purchases none of which were yarn.

The shop had some really nice selections of roving and I could not resist. I was dying to purchase some Quivet but they said the best time to visit is in the spring and summer so I didn't bother going out to the farm. Didn't matter because I got something out of the ordinary anyway.

I bought this because I just loved how white it is and it's Merino. I love spinning and knitting with Merino so that was the first one I bought. Then...

I bought this because I want to combine it with the white to make a rag yarn. Have no idea what I will knit out of it when I am done but I loved the color. Since green is my favorite color I had to have it. I also bought this...

This was as close to Buffalo as I was going to get so I bought it. It's 25% Buffalo and 75% Tusseh Silk. It is so soft you can't even imagine. I looked on the label to see if there was a website that I could link to but there is only a name, Laurie Sikiewicz from Anchorage listed on the label. It gives here home address and phone number but I am not posting that here. If you want information about how to get in touch with her about her roving, just send me an e mail or leave a comment and I will get back to you.

There's just enough here that I can make a project that I saw Here one a fellow blogger's site. Scroll down to about half way through the post.

The next place that I went is
here. Their site is under construction so you won't see anything there except for the Merchant's map, but I did go there and have some lovely pictures to prove it.

I really loved this place because it was a rather large shop that reminded me of two other shops that I have been in the last year. There was such a variety that I could have spent all day in there and still not see everything.

I could not resist these. They are just so cute. I do have a question though. I could see that the group on the left hand side were made mostly from cotton. Will they be warm enough for a baby in the winter month? They were so colorful they reminded me of spring and little girls in their Easter bonnets out a Easter Egg Hunt.

The red, white and blue hat were more like what I had in mind for winter head wear. Looks warmer if nothing else. Really nice color work.

I did buy the yarn for my son's hat at Far North. So I did help the Alaskan economy while still not breaking the personal bank. Truly if I had been smart I would have taken a smaller bag and bought more things but not so sure I would trust the airline to get my back to me in a timely manner...Happy Knitting!