May 31, 2008

On the fiber front...



I've finally gotten batteries for the camera again. So here's what I've been doing lately. Forgive the washed-out look of the photos, please...it's night time here and it looks like my flourescent energy-saver bulbs are doing a really good job of conserving energy...



First, I made mittens from yarn spun from Maggie's fiber, Bundaflicka Tweed. I knit them, loosely following a pattern in Louisa Harding's book, "Knitting Little Luxuries". I really like the pattern, but this yarn was the first that I'd spun in a really loooong time and it was full of fat-thin-fat-thin segments that let a lot of breeze pass through the mittens. So I gave them a light felting in the bathroom sink. Now they're fuzzy and warm, but not felted hard and thick...just enough that they stop the breeze. I like the color changes in these mittens. I didn't realize at the time that I was spinning that there would be a self striping effect.


And this is what happened when I spun "Squidge", hand dyed superwash merino rovings from Rochelle.


"Squidge" turned into "Tea Roses" after it was spun.


"Superfreak" also arrived with "Squidge", and is waiting to be spun. I have a nice dark blue/purple/black merino that I'm spinning at the moment, and I'm thinking that Superfreak might look pretty good plied with it. I'll have to do a little experimenting before I make the decision.

May 30, 2008

Get your veggies!


I've been looking at knitted foods lately, but came upon this:


Interesting mask idea, but not really what I had in mind.

This is really more like what I was thinking about:

May 27, 2008

*sigh* the camera batteries are dead again...

...but I've been spinning a lot lately! Last week, I received some gorgeous hand-painted merino fiber in the mail and have been spinning some of it up. I have about a little over half of one batch spun into sock yarn and ooo la la! It's so soft and pretty! So far, I have 2 skeins of 2-ply yarn, about 55 yards each, and still spinning on the rest of it. I can't wait to knit it up in to socks! This colorway if called "Squidge" and is spinning up in to the most beautiful pastel colors. Pictures when I get new batteries.

Last evening, I was knitting a sock on my break while at work. A woman approached me and asked to touch the yarn. My project is a pair of socks, 100% alpaca in white, and some pretty handpainted tussah silk that I spun to do the toes and heels in. She had never seen fiber like I was using. The alpaca was much clean and softer than she'd felt before and she had never laid eyes on tussah silk. She asked me where I got the fiber and I told her that I had imported it from the USA. Oddly (I thought), she wasn't surprised. I think that the difference is that in Peru, the processing of the fiber is very different.

I met an English woman few weeks ago that is working on an import/export business here in Lima. She told me that on the average, Peruvian artisans do not take much care in the processing of their fiber. It remains very dirty and stiff with a lot of vegetable matter left in, right through the knitting of the object or garment. This woman is arranging to export top of the line baby knitwear and is having a very hard time finding suppliers who want to take enough care to pick, skirt, wash, and card their fiber well enough to meet the standards that she sets for her business. She plans to export to Europe, if she can find a supplier that will consistently supply her with clean, well-made knitwear.

Oh! And have you seen THIS? What a great opportunity to make a warm alpaca shawl! Woolyworks and Odyssey Rock Ranch have the cleanest, fluffiest, and softest fiber! And I can personally attest to the warmth of the fiber. It knits up so fast! Gorgeous stuff!

May 23, 2008

End of the week stuff


This week, I've been spinning and knitting and Celeste has been so helpful!


This is merino wool with silk and sparkly stuff. The coin is about the size of a US nickel. There are only 4 oz of this stuff, but it's been slow going. And I'm still working on the red tweed wool from Maggie. There's still about 1/2 pound of that on my sofa, waiting for me to get tired of playing with the merino.


These red mittens are the practice pair of "Elise" mittens, pattern by Louisa Harding (Knitting Little Luxuries). I plan to make a couple of pairs of these. The red ones are mine to wear to work (if I can get them off Celeste!), since they are the first ones, have mistakes, and are of acrylic. I've got to work on those action shots!

May 19, 2008

Spinning again


Here we have an example of fiber from Maggie's Farm. I finished spinning it last night and set the twist. I think it will make a good sock yarn!


And another shot because you all know how much I LOVE looking at my own stuff!

May 18, 2008

Thunderstorms passed


Finally, the thunderstorm socks are finished! And comfy they are!

The details:

100% alpaca yarn from Odyssey Rock Ranch, colorways Thunderstorm and dark blue. Handpainted by Bethy.



And a few thoughts from my manager, hard at work:


"Where are my glasses?"


"Look here, no back seat drivers, okay?"

May 17, 2008

A little rant

Last week, I caught a cold. The weather has changed from warm and sunny to damp and chilly and I've been kind of running myself ragged lately. So I've been stressed and tired...and I caught a cold. It seems like a natural chain of events for me.

But there are people at work who see me once a day, maybe for less than 5 minutes, and they have diagnosed me and know all the reasons behind my cold, even if they have no idea what's going on with me or my life. I have never asked for their opinions or advice, but they give me these reasons with a knowing nod and a smug look on their faces.

Reason #1: I always eat too many potato chips.
Heh. I have eaten 2 or 3 little .15 centimo bags of potato chips in a little over a year. The bags hold about 10 chips. The unfortunate part is that I ate them at work, so of course I ALWAYS eat too many potato chips.

Reason #2: I always drink cold water.
I drink the bottled water that is available. If it's cold, that's okay. If it's room temperature, that's okay too.

Reason #3: I always drink Pepsi.
I rarely drink sodas. We don't keep them in the house. We don't buy them on a regular basis, however, I do drink a Pepsi at work sometimes. Of course, I always drink cold water, so I don't see how I could possibly fit a Pepsi in edgewise.

Reason #4: I only eat sandwiches. I should, instead, bring an apple from home.
Oh geee-eeeez! I am an active person! I eat cooked meals at home and I DO bring apples, bananas, and mandarin oranges from home, but I also confess to a chicken sandwich at work every so often. This particular reason might originate from the absolute knowledge that North Americans don't cook and of course have never learned how.

Reason #5: I never wear a scarf.
Yes I do. Not only do I wear them, but I make them, too.

I know that each one is very well-meaning, but they have no idea how much they overstep their bounds by ASSUMING they know all about me. And by assuming that I actually want to listen to their assumptions. I need to set some definite boundaries. Then they can enjoy talking behind my back.

Gossip is a favorite pastime at my work. In my opinion, it's one of the most detestable habits that a person can have.

May 11, 2008

Daisy

As most of you know by now, Last month I adopted Sombra, a gorgeous black ewe lamb from Maggie. This month, I have taken the plunge and adopted a white yearling Angora goat from Woolyworks. This morning, I received a letter from my sponsored child! How well educated this young lady is! I didn't even know goats could write! And she sent me photos of herself - one as a baby and the other as a yearling after her first haircut. Look at her gorgeous horns!

I must say that receiving this letter from my second sponsored child is a bit like getting a letter from a foreign correspondent. So exciting!


(Daisy as a baby)

Here is an exerpt from her letter:

Hello,

My name is Daisy. I'm almost a year old now and I'm very pretty. People have trouble telling me apart from my sister Lily, but I'm the prettier one, of course. I have black spots on my nose and Lily's nose is pink. Silly people! I'm sending my baby picture so you can see how very pretty I was and how much prettier I am now.

Last week I got my beautiful long coat forcibly stolen from me by these people that take care of me. You can imagine how outraged I was. I let them know all about my feelings, you can be sure. Afterwards they poked me twice with a needle and forced some white stuff down my throat. They told me it was for my own good, but I still hated it. It was a nice day so when they let me go, I ran around the pen, jumped against the shelter, and did about a dozen vertical leaps just to try out my new haircut. I suppose it will do for now.

It got cold a few days later and I huddled in the shelter, feeling very sorry for myself. Today, the wind isn't blowing anymore and I'm really hungry. I wish they would let me out of the pen so I can feed myself, as I surely deserve, being the prettiest on and all.

That's all for now.

Very sincerely and with thanks for adopting me,
Daisy



(Daisy as a yearling, just after shearing.)

I enjoy so much being able to contribute to the raising of these animals in some way. I know that $100 a year is just a drop in the bucket compared to what it really costs to maintain an animal for a year.

For my $100 yearly fee, I will receive:

1. A framed picture of my goat.

2. Monthly reports and picture updates detailing the progress and activities of my special friend (or in my case, my foreign correspondent).

3. Farm privileges to visit the farm and interact with my animal and his/her herd one on one.

4. Fiber workers take notice! Two raw fleeces per year, one in the spring (April-May) and one in the fall(Sept.-Oct.). If for some reason they deem a fleece to be unacceptable, I will be given a similar fleece as a replacement.

5. Satisfaction of knowing I'm helping prevent the disappearance of the small family farm and providing excellent board and care for a friendly, personable and productive animal.

6. Invitations to shearing days and farm events, including notification of kiddings.

7. If I choose to purchase livestock from them in the future, I will receive 20% off the price of any animal on the farm or 25% off of the price of my adopted animal.

8. Naming privileges for any and all offspring produced by my goatie friend. Choose the name and it will stick!

9. And the greatest part is right here: 50% off the purchase of full mohair fleeces--for fiber freaks!

Two raw fleeces may seem intimidating, but I know that Woolyworks also processes fiber. They're in the process of shearing animals now! Contact them for your mohair or alpaca fiber!

May 5, 2008

All in a gray morning's work



Number 1 of the Thunderstorm socks is complete. Ends tucked and woven in. Photo taken. Now let's how it looks when it's on a foot. Celeste? Would you do the honors please?





Okay, here's what I just finished spinning: Johnny Jump-ups above and Wood Elves below.



Both are 100% silk tussah roving.



And, because you know I LOVE looking at my own work, here's another shot of both in the same order...Johnny Jump-ups above and Wood Elves below.



And here's what I've begun spinning this morning...Bundaflicka Tweed in red, from Maggie's Farm:



...modeled by the Thunderstorm sock (Celeste, you're off the hook for now):



There's no sun today, so the photos look a little gray, like it is outside right now, and lack the warmth and brightness that these fibers really have.

May 4, 2008

A musical lunch

Today, O and I went to lunch with Mario and Flover. We went to El Rinconcito FerreƱafano (The Little FerreƱafe Corner). The guys each ordered an enormous northern-style causa and I had a plate of piqueos de chancho. They had been playing soccer all morning and were starving, but I'd been home with Celeste, doing laundry and spinning up the last of the silk rovings. We talked about their soccer game and the weekend, it was pleasant conversation and the food was very good...and the live music began.

Two older men came in to sing and play the guitar. Normally older musicians are very good, one playing the guitar in with a very Latin style while the other sings and plays the cajon, a large box that takes the place of a drum. Usually, it makes a nice atmosphere for a meal - romantic Spanish lyrics, a smooth soft voice, a Latin guitar, and gentle, rhythmic beating of the cajon.

Today, however, the guitarist didn't seem to be able to tune his guitar. Each string was out of tune with the others. He did run through the strings several times and apparently just decided "Oh, what the hell" or perhaps tone-deaf. The singer did his best to adjust to the odd key that the guitar was in, but it didn't seem to help, so he sang louder and beat the cajon harder. As the instrument went farther and farther out of tune, the guitarist continued flogging away at it, louder and louder, as if trying to outdo the singer or maybe just play really loud and the people wouldn't notice how extremely bad the guitar sounded. Sad songs were made even sadder by the terrible sound of the guitar.

By the time we left, the vocalist was singing at the top of his lungs and beating the cajon with a vengance, and the guitarist was pounding on the guitar strings, faster and faster and as loud as possible, and completely out of tune. The cajon was completely drowned out. O and his friends were screaming across the table at one another, as were all the other customers in the restaurant but no one seemed to notice that the music was just horrendous.

Maybe that's the answer. When it's really bad, just do it LOUDER and FASTER and nobody will even notice.

Weekend in the Country

This weekend was kind of a long one. I still don't have batteries for my camera.

We went away for the weekend. It was a holiday weekend, 4 days, and we were gone from Thursday through Saturday. We rented a bungalow at a gated park for military and took Celeste. As usual, O invited his entire world to come stay with us. He loves to have all his friends around him. I prefer quiet weekends, and normally I have them, but not this time.

We went to the military hospital to pick up one friend, Jorge (who apparently loves his new digital camera), then stopped in Rimac to pick up Flover and his family. Flover had called us at 9 am and said, "Hurry! We're ready to go!" We packed our stuff up and got there at 10:30, after stopping at the store to get food for the day and evening, and gassing up the car. Then we waited for Flover and Rosa to bring get their stuff in the car. We waited from 10:30 am till almost 2 pm. Poor Flover, he kept coming out to the car, saying "Just a couple more minutes, just a couple more minutes," but Rosa was apparently packing up the whole house for the 3 days and 2 nights. By noon, O was whuffing down his shirt collar and Celeste was getting tired of being on the leash. Jorge had taken about a dozen photos of us with Celeste, himself, and Flover (running out to the car). By 1:30, O was gnashing his teeth and thinking about cancelling and Celeste was downright obnoxious. Flover had made about 25 trips to the car to tell us to wait just two more minutes. Jorge had filled his memory card with photos and changed out the card in his camera before posing himself and working out the timer thing. Finally, Rosa shoved her 3 squalling scuffling boys out the door and screamed at Flover to drag a 50 pound duffle bag, three garbage bags full of blankets, a soccer ball and a basketball, and 3 backpacks to the car. The three boys jammed themselves into the car, the two older boys picking at each other and squabbling over a 15 cent bag of potato chips and the youngest (6 years old) whined about not being able to pick at the older two. Rosa, short and stout, squashed herself into the seat and Flover squeezed in to take the youngest on his lap.

We were off. Jorge joked and laughed from the rear of the car, snapping photos of open-mouthed kids in mid-squall and open-mouthed Flover as he snored. Rosa sniffed and tutted when Celeste relaxed and released a small green cloud. O calmly rolled down the windows and turned up the radio another 10 decibels.

An hour's drive and we arrived just outside the park to eat lunch at one of several roadside stands that catered to travelers with hot food. Overcooked boiled chicken and rice wasn't the greatest, but it was cooked nevertheless and safe to eat. Well, mostly safe, anyway. Probably.

The park was fenced with chain link and the gate closed, so Celeste was released to play after we parked and unloaded into the bungalow. So began our weekend adventure.

The park is about 10 acres of grass and bungalows, with a small creek that runs through it, a swimming pool, a dining room that is only open once a day and I don't know when that might be, a mini-market, barbeque grills and a picnic area. The bungalow had 3 bedrooms and a huge living room/dining area, a nice-sized bathroom, and a small kitchen area with nothing in it. A generous herd of cockroaches thrown in for free.

Celeste was having a grand time, running free through the park, checking out the barbeque areas for sticks, bones and leftovers thrown on the ground. She found so much garbage to eat that she turned down her dinner of regular dog food. She also thought she had found friends! Three dogs from the surrounding neighborhood also spent their days hunting for leftovers in the park. One was a stout yellow male with a curly tail. Another one was a swaggering black Peruvian hairless female, about Celeste's height and about 10 pounds heavier, who couldn't keep her tongue in her mouth for some odd reason. The third was a smallish nondescript brown female. For a while they got on pretty well, until the yellow male began to try to come into our bungalow to eat Celeste's dogfood. Then the three began to corner Celeste in front of the bungalow and threaten her..."Hand over the dogfood, city girl!" Celeste tolerated it for the first day, but on the second day she'd had enough.

The little brown female hung around us while we were outside having a picnic that evening. Celeste was there, kids handing her food under the table. The brown dog pushed her way under the table and began to snarl at Celeste, who stood her ground. Growls grew louder and kids scattered, then a bundle of bristling hair and flashing teeth exploded under the table. The table overturned as Celeste got her butt whipped by the smaller, more experienced dog. No wounds, just a lot of vicious roaring and wrestling around. After the episode was over, Celeste retired to the bungalow and crawled under the bed to spend the night dreaming about her first fight.

That evening as well, Percy and his family arrived to squeeze into the bungalow, 4 of them sharing tow single beds. Sometime during the night, someone had gotten sick and puked in the sink. Apparently the over cooked chicken wasn't THAT safe. Did you know that they turn off the water at 5 pm there at the park? That makes toilet flushing impossible and we had a dozen people in the house on the second night. It also makes it impossible to clean the sink very well after someone has barfed.

On the third day, we ate a small breakfast of fruit and bread, then went out to walk through the park. The food at the roadside stand hadn't been that great and I had discovered just how many cockroaches there were in the bathroom at 3 am. The floor seemed to move with them...I kept my shoes close at hand after that. Celeste played through the morning, keeping a sharp eye on the three other dogs, who periodically challenged her. She continued to stand her ground, although it obviously stressed her out. Around noon, we all piled into the car again to find a restaurant for lunch. Celeste was content to stay inside the bungalow and sleep - on top of the bed this time. After lunch we loaded our stuff in the car while Celeste barked at us to hurry, apparently ready to go home. It only took Rosa an hour to pack up to go home.

The kids squabbled for about 10 minutes in the car before falling asleep. Jorge's camera battery mercifully was dead. Both Rosa and Flover put their sunglasses on and began to snore. Celeste hung her head out the car window and fell asleep there. We arrived home about 4 pm and Celeste went straight to her crate to sleep through the rest of the afternoon and into this morning.

Let's do this again sometime, shall we?

May 3, 2008

Fiber treats for me!

I've been working on a couple of projects this week, but as usual, I can't keep from talking about them till I get some pictures taken. Pictures tomorrow, I think. Also as usual, the batteries in my camera are dead, as well as the battery in my watch. Even Celeste seems to have a dead battery tonight. So, I'll just be talkiing about the recent happenings here in the Peru household.

I finally finished spinning the mint green and pink "Lovers in a Rose Garden" rovings that I got from Kary. I love this yarn and have a project in mind for it. But whew! It took a lot of time to spin up! After I finished with that, I jumped into spinning some silk rovings from Farm Witch and am having a GRRREAT time with them! I've got some worsted weight silk now and some lighter weight yarn, about DK weight with beautiful colors. I'm almost finished with "Wood Elves" and am excited about using it. I also received some gorgeous cranberry colored merino roving from Wild Tomato earlier this week. And, I still have 4 oz of Black Magic Woman and plenty of Bundaflicka Tweed to spin up! So I've got lots of spinning to do!

And, of course, I ripped out the Thunderstorm sock and started over on that. I've almost got the first on done - I'm quickly approaching the toe. This time, I love the way it's turning out! I think I did good on this one, but I knitted most of it from memory, since we went out of town and I took the sock and the yarn, but forgot the pattern at home. And I knitted anyway. Typical me. So hmmm...I hope the second sock turns out to be the same or close to the size of the first sock...

And, I indulged myself yet again, and ordered these rovings and these, too, from Rochelle. I'm excited about them, too! I'm seeing socks from these! Wouldn't they be cool to wear this fall with Birkenstocks?! (Or in my case, Birkenstock knock-offs.)

My next big thing will be to sponsor an angora goat from Woolyworks. You can find all the info about this right here.