my end of the deal.

You know, the deal I make with Boh all the time: he is a good boy, and I take him on good walks. I’ve been slacking a bit with regard to my responsibilities in the W-A-L-K department, especially these last few weeks. With my writing deadline behind me (last week’s colloquium went very well), I set out to make things right.

On Saturday we headed up to campus to wander the little paths, shortcuts, and suspension bridges tucked all around it.

Here we are after our walk. I know Boh just looks worried, but trust me, he had a great time. (And snored for hours to prove it.)

Today it was absolutely gorgeous out — sunny, and into the high 80s. After a busy morning on campus, I took Boh down to one of the parks at the base of the lake. We walked until he seemed a bit too hot (after all, he’s still wearing his spring coat), and then headed back to the house, where he lounged next to my spinning wheel in the shade of my office.

See? What a good boy. I finished spinning the second bump of the Pigeonroof Studios fiber in bronzed teal, and I’m psyched to ply it. Stay tuned for yarn pictures!

overwhelmed.

I’ve certainly been feeling the less-than-awesome kind of overwhelmed this week. Which is why I’m pretty psyched to get to share (another) example of the good kind of overwhelmed.

This delicious Fine and Raw almond chunky chocolate bar arrived in a box of fibery treats from dear knithound. I sat down at the kitchen table and savored it. (And then thought you might to at least see the wrapper. This stuff is incredible!)

Along with that chocolate (which I’m not sure if I should describe as heavenly or sinful), knithound sent me three special bundles of undyed luxury fiber: an ounce of merino/cashmere, an ounce of oatmeal cashmere, and an ounce of a yak/tussah silk blend, all from The Yarn Tree. I keep opening the bags to pet them.

You may have noticed that I haven’t really been spending much time at the wheel lately — there’s just so much to do. But these — these might be just the right amount for a small break, time to decompress, or work through an idea. I might even dig out a drop spindle for one of these fiber bumps.

Thank you, knithound, for this overwhelming (in the good way) box of luxury. And thanks to all of blogland for your kindness and comments on what it means to grow older and to reflect on experiences and expectations these last few weeks.

spinning alpaca.

This morning (instead of starting the book I need to finish for a discussion on Thursday) I sat down to play with the alpaca I am spinning for a friend of mine. Boh woke me up, barking to go out, ten minutes before my alarm went off. (I don’t know about you, but I really, really enjoy the sleep I get early in the morning, just before I wake up.) So I was groggy. Hence the decision to make coffee and spin, rather than jump into the day’s work.

This stuff is much softer than what I used for my first (short-lived) attempt at spinning alpaca last summer. I don’t have any information about it, but I’m wondering if it is a blend, or perhaps baby alpaca? My friend gave me two different fibers to spin — this natural brown stuff, and some natural grey alpaca. The grey stuff feels coarser, and more like what I thought alpaca was like.

I’ve got close to 6 oz. of the dark brown alpaca, so I’m aiming for a two-ply in the light-worsted to worsted range. Some sections of the fiber spun smoothly and evenly, while others required a bit more wrestling and wrangling. I’m not sure if that has to do with the fiber being a bit compressed in places, or if it is simply the natural variation in the quality of this animal’s coat. I am quite happy with the way this is turning out — and I’m anxious to spin up the second bobbin and ply so that I can see how the fiber reacts when it is set. (Will it soften further? Plump up?) I’ll keep you posted.

This photo was pretty dark, so I clicked the “enhance” button in iPhoto, and here’s what it gave me. I like it.

a grown-up rooster?

So, yesterday this rooster voluntarily bought a blazer. My first thought, in the dressing room: Wait — does this make me a grown-up? (As soon as I walked out of the Gap, I called my mother. I knew she’d be proud. I mean, I did own a blazer in high school, but it was more of a costume. I wore it for Mock Trial. This time, I actually went looking for the blazer.) Feel free to skim down to the actual knitting at any time, because I’m going to keep talking about this. Every season, but in the summer, especially, I try to purge things I don’t wear/don’t need from my closet/life. And this year I had a realization. I am harboring two entirely different wardrobes: one for the girl who lives in ripped jeans and beat-up carhartts, fleece, long underwear, plaid shirts and puffy vests while she camps, cooks, and wanders, and one for the girl who wears dark jeans, big jewelry, and aims to at least feel like a confident/hip grad student as she attends classes and meetings, reads, and teaches section. The line between these two roosters is blurrier than I’m making it sound here, and I hope it stays that way. I don’t want to lose that first girl — and I’m not just talking about attire — to the second. And I don’t think I will, though I want to be mindful of the ways in which my life has changed over the last few years. I had to chuckle, though, when I realized that I could no longer just get rid of things I haven’t worn in the last year — because the next time I’m in the desert, the next time I’m pitching a tent, the next time Boh and I are adventuring — I’m going to both want and need that stuff! Besides, there’s something about a blazer that dresses up even the rattiest, most comfortable shirt.

Finally — some knitting! I’m making progress on my textured shawl. I love the way the textured stitch looks in this handspun, but I’m anxious about the size and drape of the overall shawl. I’m going to keep knitting, though, and then cross my fingers and block the hell out of it. (Good plan, right?)

It is zucchini-time at the farm, which means it is zucchini bread-time in my kitchen. Here’s the first loaf of the summer. Yum.

Boh wants you to know that he is being VERY good this morning.

A knitterly friend has proposed a trade: I’ll spin this fiber, and she’ll do something painterly (her work is stunning) or sewing-related for me! I am really excited to dive into this spinning project. These bags of natural fiber are both labeled alpaca, though I’m thinking that the brown stuff is a blend…or at least baby alpaca. It is so much softer! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Happy Friday!

dashing through the snow.

We only have a few inches here, but since I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit and Boh and I are hopping in the car this afternoon to head to my parents’ house, I’m going with “dashing through the snow” today.

I’m also dashing through my knitting, or trying to. Here’s mom’s Multnomah shawl. I’m three repeats (of 11) through the lace section, and I can get through a repeat in about half an hour. I’m planning to crank through as many repeats as I can tonight, early tomorrow morning, and tomorrow night (as I’ll be AT my parents’ house) — okay, maybe the next morning too — and then try to surreptitiously block and wrap this. I’m still packing/planning, but I think I’m going to tuck my blocking mats into a tote bag and try to do this right. We’ll see…

Also, my brother isn’t coming home for Christmas this year — he has to work the day before and the day after, so it just didn’t make sense. I mailed him a little something this week, but I am behind on his knitted gift. With the academic calendar as crazy as it is in December, I really need every last minute between the end of the semester and Christmas Day to get everything done! (And this year, I totally prioritized new baby knitting, but I’m not sorry about that! I’ve been excited about his arrival for months!)

Anyway, in keeping with my plan to knit everyone (well, everyone who likes wool — see Multnomah shawl above) something out of handspun, I’m making my brother some mittens out of oatmeal bfl (the lighter stuff) and dark grey local jacob. I’m going to use the Alex’s Mittens pattern by Rebekkah Kerner (whose handspun is awesome, by the way). The pattern has a nice, full hand, which I really like.

What else am I bringing home? I’m going to cast on the Lacy Baktus, finally, out of my AVFKW A King’s Ransom handspun, and I’m also bringing my GYC cardigan so that I can finally sit down and sew on the buttons. And that’s it! I always bring way more knitting than I can ever complete whenever I go home, and while options are nice, I’m working on developing more reasonable expectations so that I’m not just lugging a lot of things back and forth unnecessarily.

This is a little something I got myself for Christmas — 2 bumps of FLUFF bfl in Turkey Two-Step. I decided that I am not bringing my wheel with me this week, which means it has never left my house, despite the fact that it folds and has a carry bag. I am, however, planning to spend a week at my parents’ house in January, and I think I might bring it then. This fiber will have to wait until next week!

Also, yesterday I made peanut brittle, from Deb’s recipe. (Of course.) I made two batches, and I must not have cooked the first batch on high enough heat, because it did not solidify, and I ended up having to toss it. It stayed chewy, like caramel, which would have been fine, except that it was impossible for me to get the wax paper (even though I greased it) off of this batch. Boo. Glad I made a second batch, though because this brittle is fantastic — crunchy without being too hard to bite into, sweet and salty, yum. I think this is the perfect treat to counter all the Christmas cookies I’ll be baking with my mom tonight!

treats.

Several treats have arrived here at chez Rooster over the last few weeks, and I am overwhelmed. (I’ll have another to share once I’ve settled on the best way to display it!)

haber fiber

A dear friend found herself at the Common Ground Fair in Maine in September, and picked up six ounces of gorgeous wool/merino blend fiber dyed in lovely blues and greens from Friends’ Folly Farm. It arrived over the weekend, and I can’t wait to get this on the wheel.

seaman 3

Last night, Boh and I headed over to see our favorite greyhound and his people. Popcorn was popped, NPR was switched on, and  I started my third seaman’s cap. This one is out of the dark green polwarth from Southern Cross Fibres that I spun a few weeks ago.

stripes too warm

Yesterday morning I pulled on my stripes! sweater, thinking that maybe it was getting cold enough that I’d need the warmth as I sipped my coffee. I was too warm after only a few minutes…but soon!

transitions.

moregarteryoke1

I couldn’t help taking more pictures of this, as I just love the way the transitions between the colors occur.

moregarteryoke2

I only knit about 5 rows yesterday, and late at night, at that, but it was enough to see the golden yellows and browns return, which made me quite happy.

kitchen scale and corriedale

Also, my kitchen scale arrived! I’m hoping to set aside a little bit of time this weekend to divide some of my Crown Mountain Farms BFL into ounces and do some sampling to plan for my first me-sized handspun sweater. (Yay!)

FO: handspun toast mitts.

five plum pie mitts FO1

five plum pie mitts FO3

These practically flew off the needles this weekend! I started with the toast/toasty pattern as a guide, and then decided on a thumb-hole, rather than the no-thumb or tip-less thumb options in the pattern. I love the look of a full thumb on fingerless mitts, but it always seems to impact their functionality for me: the thumb never fits quite right, and it seems to require that I take the mitts on and off a lot more to keep from spilling things on the thumb section. (Does that make sense?)

five plum pie mitts FO2

I used the 34 st cast on called for in the pattern, with size 6 needles, and made a 4 st thumb-hole. I’m wearing these as I type this morning, and I adore them.

thylacine fiber

Also, the last bit of my fiber splurge arrived yesterday: 2 braids of grey merino dyed with gorgeous shades of reddish orange from the thylacine on etsy. It is an overcast morning, and this picture does not even come close to doing this fiber justice. It is absolutely stunning, and I can’t wait to see how it spins up.

Enjoy the last weekend of summer!

yarn in the sink.

Last night I stayed up late to finish plying my never-ending bobbins of targhee together. I wound it onto the niddy noddy, counted the strands, took a few pictures, and then placed it in a hot water bath with some soak wash. About 30 seconds later, I realized I was incredibly tired, and went about getting ready for bed: I straightened up the kitchen, took Boh out, put on my pajamas, etc. And then I went to brush my teeth, only to look down and realize that there was yarn in the sink. (I may have used a colorful word or two.) I stayed awake for another ten or fifteen minutes in order to give the yarn the bath it deserved, and then rolled it in a towel, snapped/thwacked a few times, and finally hung it to dry.

plied hibiscus

Here it is, pre-bath, nestled on one of my favorite (store bought) sweaters. This stuff is soooo soft, and it is almost dry. (I keep petting it whenever I am in the kitchen.)

leftovers hibiscus

Here’s what was leftover on one of the bobbins. This is one of my most consistent spins to date, so this massive imbalance on the bobbins indicates to me that it might be time to acquire a kitchen scale so that I can split my fiber more evenly, particularly as I start thinking about bigger spinning projects.

fluff fibers

Lastly, this came in the mail yesterday: 2 bumps of superwash merino from FLUFF fibers in the Beach Day and Jungle Flowers colorways. Yay!

equilibrium.

cmf grey corriedale

cmf brown bfl

Believe it or not, I’ve been spinning faster than I’ve been stashing fiber. (The rate I’m knitting my handspun? That’s another story, but I’m working on it.)

Anyway, Chris over at Doodles In String has been encouraging me to spin for a sweater, and her kind enabling, in addition to last week’s realization that I had spun more than I had left to spin, required immediate action. On Saturday, I ordered a pound and a half each of grey corriedale and brown bfl from Crown Mountain Farms, and it was here on Monday afternoon. A few bumps of fiber are on their way here from places further afield, but I do feel that I am much closer to stash equilibrium now. Phew!

targheebob2

targheebob2dog

I spun up the second bobbin of AVFKW targhee in the Hibiscus colorway last night, (note the lazy dog in the background) and I’m hoping to start plying before I head to class this morning. Apparently this particular blend of reds and oranges routinely speaks to me: the throw on the couch above Boh is the same mixture of colors, and this morning, I put on my sassymmetrical cardigan, only to realize that I knit it in a very similar shade of malabrigo.

sassymmetrical in action

closeupsassymmetrical

I love this sweater, but I rarely wear it out of the house. I think this is because of a mixture of several factors: (a) it is bright (b) I don’t have a lot that seems to look “right” under it (c) cap sleeves in practice aren’t the most flattering on me (though I love them in theory) and (d) the texture and variegation of the malabrigo in this particular incarnation make it look hand-knit in a way that makes me a little self-conscious. Does that make sense?

Despite all this, I’m wearing it today, and it is making me happy.

simpleyeteffectiveblob

Lastly, my simple yet effective shawl is growing. It’s the wrong color family for today’s post, but I can’t get over how much I like the way this is knitting up. I’m thinking I may keep going once I run out of handspun and continue with some commercial yarn leftovers to give it a more finished edge.

This post’s title is also apt because I think I’m getting closer to a routine: I’ve made lists of my personal and academic priorities for this semester, mapped out a tentative breakdown for working at home with Boh vs. working in my office, and I’m feeling okay about it all. I guess it is about time to stop planning my work and get to it!