Friday, May 30, 2014

Spring Hopes Eternal

Every spring The Man and I visit our local garden center to pick out the pretty plants that are doomed to die. We mention to the person helping us that we should purchase our plants then upend them in the parking lot because they won't survive our loving care. They laugh and so do we but actually we're not kidding. The Man and I don't have a knack for gardening.

Last year, with the patient help of Debbie, the Garden Lady, we selected alyssum, lobelia, and lisianthus. Heat and shade-tolerant plants. Supposedly easy-peasy plants. At the end of the season, just before the first frost took them they looked like we had just planted them. They didn't flower or flourish. They just sat there in the dirt. Waiting.

Last week, Liz, this year's Garden Lady, asked us if we thought it was the soil, overwatering, or under watering. I said, "All of the above." She glanced at my geraniums with pity and moved away to help another customer.

I'm happy to report the geraniums are looking pretty good in their new flower pots. We were encouraged and visited Home Depot this week for more easy peasy plants: marigolds and zinnias.

The next day we discovered the zinnias not looking too well. It was embarrassing to note that we killed them in less than 24 hours. A record if we don't count the time we broke a basil plant in half on the car ride home.

We decided to plant them anyway even though Home Depot has a dead plant return policy. The zinnias did perk up when we planted them in the sun. They don't look as good as when we brought them home but we're still hopeful.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Weaving With Milk

Last summer, I bought Queensland Collection Leché yarn on sale. Leché was priced at 78% off the list price. Little was practically giving it away! Although I now have one foot in the SABLE doorway I have no regrets that I bought a whole lotta Leché. Twice.

November's Second Carton of Milk

The Leché yarn has continuously been on a pair of needles as I knit up cozy cowls (neckwarmers) to give away as gifts. The Leché cowls have made great gifts because they are luxurious next to the skin, warm, and the colors are vibrant with the sheen of silk. I can't say enough about the yarn for knitting.

So I wondered if I could weave with Leché? Would it break if I used it as the warp (lengthwise) yarn? Could the fibers handle the repetitive stress of weaving?

And the answers were ~ Yup, Nope, Yup.

I dusted off my 10" Cricket Loom and direct-warped: 98" length, 7" width, using the 8-dent reed (8 slots per inch) which makes for a very open-weave fabric.

I used the Creamy Beige Leché and threw in some SMC Dream (velvety fleece with a strand of mini-boucle) in the colorway Hazelnut. I used the Hazelnut on the edges, in the middle, and warped it off-center on purpose. I wanted asymmetrical, not sure why. Maybe because I didn't have a plan and was just going to weave in the Hazelnut willy-nilly which is what I did.

Fringe Twister (a.k.a. Conair Hair Braider)

After wet blocking the finished size is 6" x 72" with an additional 2.5" fringe on each end.

I used almost 2 balls of Leché and a little more than ½ ball of Dream. I didn't do much stash busting with this scarf but it sure was fun and the results are lovely. The scarf turned out drapey, soft, and extremely cuddly. The Leché is becoming my workhorse workcow yarn.

"Leché" by Queensland Collection is a plied worsted of 40% Extrafine Merino Wool, 30% Microfiber, 20% Milk Protein, and 10% Silk.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

At the Sunday Auction

"Templeton Livestock Market holds a Small Animal Sale the first Sunday of each month," said Mike, the tree trimmer, as he scratched the head of a Goaty Boy. He told The Man that he was looking for a pet goat for his kids.

May's first Sunday was that weekend so we got up early and drove the 11 miles to the Market.

When we got there the dirt parking lot was already filling up and people were milling around chatting with one another. We looked in the pens and got close up views of organic wool fiber still on the hoof.

The animals to be auctioned were brought in by their owners. We sat next to a woman selling her extra male lambs. She said she sells on Craigslist but the monthly auction is a good alternative. Before we could ask her anymore questions she had to leave because some of her horses had gotten out of their corral. Yee haw.

We saw pigs and piglets, lots of mama goats and their babies, and a few calves.  Our curiosity sated we left before the sheep, baby lambs, and other small animals were shown.

I wondered about the future of these small livestock animals. I can only hope that they'll have green pastures and enjoy their days as someone's pet.

When we were leaving we noticed, as usual, the best deals often happen in the parking lot.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crazy Sticks

Back in the day, knitting my second pair of socks during my lunch break at work, the Respiratory Therapist popped his head into the break room to ask me a question and said, "Wow, look at those crazy sticks!"

While I was knitting up the Felted flower bowls I had to make do with using 2 circular needles for the decreases. I prefer double pointed needles (dpns) but I needed US 10/6mm and my dpn stash only goes up to US 8/5mm. 

From Ravelry chatter I heard about Carbonized bamboo dpns on eBay and what a smoking good deal they were. I wasn't interested in the smaller sizes since I have two sets of teeny needles for making socks and other small knitted items. But how could I go wrong in ordering fifteen sizes - US 0/2mm to US 15/10mm - 5 needles per set for $10.26 and free shipping from China? Yes, ten dollars and free shipping. Of course I ordered them.

I had an extra needle roll (another eBay purchase) which was perfect to hold the larger needles. I modified it with little snaps on the ends so I could fold it over the tips of the needles. I didn't want to have to play 40 Pick-up sticks.

Now look at those crazy sticks go.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Hoedown at The Grange

Last week Friday we drove south to see Tom Russell in concert at the SLO Grange Hall. Tom Russell - Singer/Songwriter … americana … tex/mex … cowboy music. Yee haw.

In a strange way the SLO Grange was the perfect place for Tom Russell's show.

Oh, sure, the partially painted cinder block walls weren't that great for acoustics, the metal folding chairs weren't that great after the first sixty-seconds, and the rental Port-a-Potties were definitely not great: total darkness when you closed the door. (Boy Howdy, the flashlight app on my iPhone came in handy.)

Sitting behind the VIP seats and Tom Russell's sister.

The SLO Grange was perfect because it's a gosh darn establishment for farmers and stockmen. Tom Russell's cowboy friends and family were present in the audience and it was as though we were invited to a family party. The walls in the dining hall are graced with handmade quilts. And we felt right at home with the older-than-us-hippies and ranchers. The Man really fits in perfect, if he had a beard, he would disappear in plain sight. Me, disappearing, not so much. I might have been the only one knitting.

It was perfect because we got there early enough to chow down on a dinner of baby back pork ribs, mac and cheese with bacon bits, and fresh-made cole slaw. Early enough to collect swag.

It was perfect because it was raining when we got there. We all stood in line with our umbrellas and got wet anyway.

The music was great, yes, perfect for the SLO Grange.

Friday, May 2, 2014

May Flowers

The hills around our home are alive with the color purple. We were lucky to have had a few days of late April showers and now the wild lupine and other flowers are springing up everywhere.

Closer to home, though, the tasty wildflowers don't have a chance.