Friday, August 19, 2011

May Queen Mystery Shawl

A sweet knit from Tiziana, the May Queen started out as a mystery shawl from one of my favorite designers. The pattern is quite easy, so I thought I would experiment with my very own Firebird yarn and some colored bead sequences. Unfortunately, the #8 beads were really too small to show off my clever gradients and could hardly even be seen at normal viewing distance. But the beads were an adventure, and rather than writing about the perils of using ten different colors of teeny, tiny, round, bouncy, exuberant objects, I shameless quote kath1996's description (with her kind permission) of her own interaction with the little rascals. The experience closely mirror my own except that she used a single color, so you can multiply this scary scenario tenfold:

First you open the container with the beads, then you pick up the ten or so beads that always drop out of the container while you are trying to carefully open it…then you spill a small amount out into another dish or container so as not to have the whole container open in case the cats knock it over, then you hit the new dish of beads with your elbow and knock them all to the floor (where they roll under everything and cause you to grab a flashlight and crawl around with your nose almost dragging on the floor while you search every place for the blankity blank little suckers), then you get back on your feet, set the dish down with satisfaction, certain that you have every bead back in the dish, and tip over the original container scattering the beads everywhere. Now these beads can fly…so they make it into every room in your house (except for those ten over there that somehow managed to get through the window and are now outside). I would tell you not to worry about them, except that I can tell you for sure that you will be exactly ten beads short on the project…(and no matter how hard you look you will never find those beads again). At this point you could try the old tried-and-not-true method of vacuuming up the beads…but this only sounds good on paper…your vacuum will only further scatter the beads making it impossible to ever find them again. Ooooh, look over there, isn’t that the cat eating the beads? Yep…and she seems to be turning a bit blue….off to the vet.
Laptop is a little too finicky to eat beads, but that did not deter her from Getting In The Way from the beginning to the end of this shawl. I can't figure out the attraction--Firebird is odorless, the color is not red (which she finds attractive), and it doesn't resemble either a hamster or the ugly brown scarf thing she enjoys cuddling. I couldn't get her off my lap for the entire project, and, as you can see, once the project was completed, she claimed complete possession, beads and all.

Attempts to remove her were met with The Look:

And she followed up The Look with The Snooze:

A few hours later, I filled her food bowl--a guaranteed draw--and snapped a few Laptop-less photos:

Well, almost...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Batt Editing--Part 2

Readers of this blog probably know how much I love glitz, but many battmeisters eschew such additives for a variety of reasons. Anna of Corgi Hill decided against working with Angelina fiber after a bag of it exploded and left her, well, rather sparkly. Others feel that Firestar (trilobal nylon) and Angelina are scratchy. And some feel glittery yarn is somehow undignified.

Not me! I love to spin with glitz, I love to knit with glitz, and search out batts containing glitz, preferably in high concentrations. So it should come as no surprise that I figured out a simple way to add sparkle to batts that lack what I consider an essential ingredient.

If you paid attention to my first Batt Editing post, you might recall that I showed you how to split a batt into two layers. But if not, let me show you again.

Here we have a perfectly lovely example of a glitz-less batt from the immensely talented Zauberzeug :

I carefully peel the two layers apart...

...and sprinkle the bottom layer with Angelina:

Just flop the top layer back on the bottom layer:

And roll it back up:

Needless to say, you can use this technique to add anything you might want to spin--strands of silk, Firestar, exotic fibers of which you only have a tiny bit, or slices of pepperoni, and so on. 

On another note, I promised you some killer tomatoes, so I would be remiss if I didn't include a photo, taken several weeks ago. At that time, the plants were approaching 11 feet in height, and had outgrown our double stack of tomato cages by a wide margin.

Roy, who was an Eagle Scout and knows how to do things like assemble tripods, crafted several out of our very own bamboo and is seen in the above photo tying one of the plants, fondly named Terminator One, onto the supports. I should add that the plants are now over 14 feet tall, although we are training them down the supports, because we don't have a taller stepladder and would feel idiotic trying to harvest our crop by tossing rocks at the fruit.

Last year we planted four plants, three of which promptly died. The survivor barely attained a meter in height and spent the entire summer generating six puny tomatoes. This year, we figure to harvest about 200 pounds of fruit from the four plants that were really cute when we plopped them into the soil but now consume a cow a day and we'd better be on time with the feeding....