Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's on the Needles & Fog

My lovely shawl is finished! This isn't the best photo of it but it will have to do. It came out longer than I expected it to. But I like long shawls so I can wrap them around a time or two. They stay on better and are even more toasty.

I cast on for a market tote last night. The reason I'm making it is I snagged this paper yarn, yes, I said paper, at 60% off and thought I'd give it a try. There were just three balls in any one color and this is it. I figured I'd give it a shot just for fun. I can't knit very long on this project because the yarn is anything but soft. It's a little tough on the hands. But get this; it's washable. We'll see how that works out. It is getting softer with handling but you could never make any kind of garment out of it that I can think of.

I have been eyeing this yarn for a good six months. It's not expensive. It's acrylic. And it sparkles like crazy. You can get it at Michael's. I had a coupon good on sale items and this stuff was on sale so I snagged a few balls. I cast on Flame Socks from Socks from Handpainted Yarn. It's hard to tell the flames in this photo but when you stretch it like it was wrapped around an ankle you can easily see it. I did reverse the flames because the pattern has them running from the top of the sock down and I wanted them running from the foot up. I wish you could see how much this stuff sparkles! Okay, I am a fiber snob and it did pain me to buy acrylic yarn. But it is soft. I can easily throw it in the washer and dryer and not break a sweat. We will just have to see how they come out because I have another ball of black yarn, another ball of red yarn, and two balls of copper. I wanted the deep blue but they were out. I was gonna use the deep blue with red for the socks because I don't like working with black yarn. Too tough to see the stitches. It's knits up pretty easily. It's a little bit splitty. I'm using 2.5 needles and you could easily use 2.75's or even try 3's to see how it would come out. I may do that with the rest of the black. No hurry.

My leftover yarn box is overflowing. I might have to make more mismatched socks. I'm not really sure what to do with it all. I'll figure something out. I thought about just using two or three yarns together and knitting up a small blanket or something. Anyone have any ideas?

So we worked like crazy to get stuff done yesterday. It's been foggy in the morning and clearing by nine or ten AM. We worked so we could go for a bike ride today. So now it's afternoon and there is still fog. The bike is very, very, clean and shiny. If we take it out it will get very, very, wet and not so shiny. Not to mention it isn't very
visible in the fog. And my old bones would prefer a sunny cool day to a foggy cool day. Heated seats or not. Talk about bad timing! If it clears I'd appreciate a ride around the block! Any darn thing!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dollar Tree, Crochet, Birthday, Pretty Scene, Ol' Blue

This is a pretty field down the street from us. I just thought it looked striking with the dark clouds heading east and the sun on the new grass.

I've been seeing those little crocheted storage baskets around here and there. I really like them. and I have some cotton yarn. So I broke out the crochet hooks and started to make one. This one is larger than any I've seen. I wanted it to fit in a certain spot. I should have started smaller or found a pattern (like the free ones on the Michael's web site). But I was just winging it on the spur of the moment so my basket is a bit bottom heavy. I used four balls of yarn for this one. And I didn't make it in the round because I wanted that back and forth single crochet pattern. I think I'll try one size smaller hook, make it in the round (but it will be a square basket), and make it smaller and see what happens. I still have nine or ten balls of cotton yarn left. And they are all in that basket. The colors are very Martha Stewart, aren't they?

I've finished the knitting portion of my shawl and the next thing up is blocking. Then a crocheted edge and a bit of fringe. So the next photos you see of it might show a finished product. It's having a little soak right now in the kitchen sink.

Next up I think I'll knit some socks and a market bag. Two projects at a time seem comfortable for me.

We went to CV for a celebration of Morgan's birthday. We take Charlotte with us so she can learn better manners and some socialization. Last time Daisy didn't want anything to do with her. Daisy does consider me to be part of her family and I think she was a little jealous. This time Daisy had some lap time with me and I think she felt better about the whole thing. Finally, Daisy and Charlotte were having a fine game of tug-o-war. Daisy didn't stand a chance against Charlotte but Charlotte was very polite and let Daisy win some. The next time we take her there I will try to remember to take some of Charlotte's favorite tugging ropes.

I admit it. I love the Dollar Tree. I have found products that I use, name brand stuff, for quite a bit less there. I also find little cute little tote bags, mesh bags for storing horse blankets, mesh bags for dying yarn or fiber, emery boards, candy for the movies, gift bags and ribbons, Christmas ornaments, and all manner of stuff in there. Especially good for stuff you plan to toss out after a couple uses or containers you give food away in or bowls to take food to other's homes. You just leave it there or they can throw it out. Well, DT is gearing up for Valentine's day and I found these roses. The reason I am enamored by them is that they are soap. The petals of the roses are actually soap. So I can admire them for a while then just use them up. They don't smell that good to me but the cat likes them.

That's my nick name for the Prius. She has around 295,000 miles on her. So far we've had to put a pan gasket and some little valve thingy on her. We have always taken her to the dealership for her regular checkups. Dad taught me that if you keep the engine clean and cool your car will run a very long time. I've had good luck with that advice. i am not one to buy a new car very often. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy it, it's just that I get attached to my rides and if they run well and suit my purposes I just keep them. Well for the first time Ol' Blue needs some work. Not much. Just some cleaning out. It seems she has some carbon build up. So I left her at the dealership overnight. This is her first stay away from home without us. Sometime back when we took her in we felt she had not been treated with the respect and kindness she
deserves. So we complained and were given a free rental car if and when we need one. It's just a note written on the back of a business card. We've had the card for over a year. Well, since the dealership is in Modesto and I live in the Patterson area, I needed to rent a car. So I handed over the little business card with the handwritten note on the back and they said, "Sure! No problem." So I drove home in a 2010 Corolla. A nice car. But it felt big to me. If a car is big it should look like a pickup. I know a Corolla isn't a big car. And it's a fine ride. But it's not my car. Well, actually Darryl's car. It used to be my car. I have a pickup. It's just the way things worked out. Anyway, Ol' Blue needs new brakes and a belt. These I did not have the dealer do. These Darryl will do. This weekend. He has been putting off the brakes and it's a stupid thing to do. She has new tires and will have a clean engine. She is getting new brakes and a new belt this weekend. After all a girl has to stay fashionable right? New shoes and a new belt just go together. And if it's nice maybe a bit of wax. Oh yes, the guy at the dealership says she has lots of miles left in her. It's nice he appreciates her.

I don't know what's going on with blogger but no matter what I do it's has it's own idea what this last paragraph should look like.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I Hate Rain and Other Stuff

Adobe. Yup, that's the soil here. So when it rains for a time it looks like the photo above. It sticks to your boots and if you aren't careful will pull the boots off your feet. It's very slippery also. And the poor horses have to live in this during the winter. A few miles from here it's sand. I envy the sand people. This muck does not dry up easily. So when there is a break in the rain we wish for two things; sun and wind. So if you get up in the morning and see fog you know you aren't getting either. But this morning I woke up to sun and the tiniest of breezes. The weather man said fog and rain. I'm certain he's in an office with a fine computer and no windows at all.

We have worked hard to raise one end of each stall so that the horses can have a dry spot in this weather. But small dry areas in this muck isn't really enough. They like to run and play. Sarah hates being cooped up in a stall so we rarely do it. Stormy will put up with being cooped up and Sugar down right demands being in her stall in bad weather. She doesn't like the mud. She also gets cold easier than the other two horses.

It's very difficult to keep their feet healthy when they stand in water all day for days on end. Darryl work very hard to fight fungus and foot disease all winter. It's impossible to keep stalls clean if they are in them all the time as well. They will muck up the dry part with the wet part. So we have to try to balance the whole mess. That's why I hate the rain. I don't care that we need the water. It can rain everywhere else for water and we will make do with a light weekly sprinkle that dries up nicely but waters our plants.

This chicken is a bully. The chickens don't lay eggs in the winter. I could force them by putting a light in their coops but I think they need the rest. I turned this one out for a while. She'll hang around and not go anywhere. She's just laying there basking in the sun. If the weather holds for a few days I'll put her back in and give her sister a bit of freedom for a while. In the winter they can't eat plants that aren't blooming, don't dig holes in flowerbeds and I don't have to hunt for the eggs because there aren't any. The only thing to worry about is if she decides to go over the back fence into the back yard. If she does that and the dogs are out she'll be dead in seconds. So far she's opting for sun and I think the barking dogs are keeping her out of the yard.

This is my drop spindle. Last month a friend of mine showed up at our Women's Circle meeting with a drop spindle and fiber I had given her. I had shown her how to use it and she'd forgotten and wanted a lesson. Well, she's not the only one that had forgotten how to use the drop spindle. So I promised her by the next meeting I will have honed my skills and will give her refresher lesson. Monday I figured out the next meeting is this Friday. Mostly because I got an email reminding me. So I dug out my drop spindle and am relearning a skill I barely knew in the first place. I am practicing about 45 minutes a night. You really notice the difference in fibers with a drop spindle. I'm sorting through stuff and looking for the easiest to spin so I can give her some easier fiber than she has now.

So I'm fooling around with this thing and the next thing Darryl had grabbed one of his homemade spindles and is giving it a whirl (pun intended). I don't think he could stand it that I'd have a fiber skill that he doesn't. When I pick my spindle up in the evening, the next thing I know, he's got his and is spinning away. It's not nearly as quick as a spinning wheel but it's a little bit addictive. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's done with a more primitive tool so we feel just a bit more accomplished? I don't know. But I'm digging out a bit more fiber today to see what they do.

In the meantime I have just the one project on the needles. It's my shawl. I was worried about running out of yarn and now I think I might have a ball left over. It will be smaller than the one in the book, "Shawl Style". I think it will be plenty big for me. It's kinda folded over in the picture. D seems to think it's a wide scarf but it's not blocked and nearly as wide as the finished size in the book. We will see when it's all done. I'm loving this yarn but at $20 a ball I don't think I'll have the chance to buy it again. It was D's 60% off draw on his birthday that did it. I bought five balls but if I have a bit left over I'm seeing a matching hat of some sort. I'll just bet I can do an
entrelac hat if I tried. Entrelac is the method of knitting that basket weave effect.

I have ideas for other projects but haven't cast anything on yet. There's a market bag out of paper yarn (yes really, and washable too), one of those big circle scarves out of some leftover chunky and I'm thinking
mobius, a pair of socks with a flame pattern, out of sparkly yarn, and the Firebird socks that I have never done and are waiting for me.

I just want to mention that the template for this blog isn't my favorite. I haven't figured out how to change it. When I go to the help page they want me click on a tab I don't have. I haven't sat down to spend the time to figure the whole thing out. I apologize for not having the links up yet to other blogs you all like to read either. I got a request from my sister, C, for blog addresses now that we are all blogging again. I'll get on that soon. But not today.

By the way C, we love comments on our blogs. Just saying.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's Not About the Pictures...Okay, Maybe It Is

Just a few more cowboys for ya. And some useless trivia. See the guy there in the front on the left? That's Mark. He's wearing what looks like short chaps. When they are shorter like that they are called chinks. I don't know why.

Now see the good looking guy on the far right? He's riding the fabulous Sarah. He's wearing chaps. Now if you are on a motorcycle and wearing a similar item, usually in black, you are also wearing chaps. But if you are on a motorcycle you are saying you are wearing chaps like you say Chapstick. But if you are on a horse you say you are wears shaps. They are spelled the same, look pretty much the same, but are pronounced differently. Go figure. Darryl has both chaps and chaps.

And if you have to haul you horse up in the canyon, you may as well find a pretty spot to park your truck and trailer. This is actually the entrance to what is called The Dial. Apparently it is the Dial Ranch. Everyone uses it, repairs it, and deals with their cattle there. But I can't seem to find out who actually owns it.

And just for your entertainment here are a few horses asses.

I told you I drove further up into the canyon to get some camping information. Del Puerto Canyon Road goes all the way to Livermore. And most people don't get to see or even guess how rugged the Coast Range is.

Beautiful spots like this will fool you. If you keep going, and going, and going, about four hours, at least, later you will be in Livermore.

But the road narrows and winds and isn't for the faint of heart, those in a hurry, or anyone who gets car sick. But I highly recommend you give it a try once.

This is where D and I bring the horses to ride in the hills. On this day it's about 10 in the morning and about 38 degrees. There was plenty of frost to be found in the shadows.

If you do decide to take that ride, I recommend that if you are the one that gets car sick, you do the driving.

And for the fans of Claire and Jamie, did you know Diana Gabaldon wrote a graphic novel? Well she did and here it is. I have to say It's not quite how I pictured them but I've gotten used to it. I had him with a more chiseled face and hers not quite so innocent looking. But that's just me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cowboys, Dryers, and Patience, Oh My!

New Years Eve Darryl went up in the canyon west of town to help a neighbor move some cows. He took Sarah. She hasn't been around cows much and he didn't know what would happen. She also hasn't been ridden much lately, due to the weather, so that added to the unknown of the ride. She did pretty well except she got really, really tired. These pictures are not in any order. In the above photo Darryl has left the group to ride over to the fence where I was. I drove out there to check it out.

Here he is rejoining the group he was riding with. Those are real cows out there and Sarah didn't mind them at all. I suspect one of them will be in our freezer next year. Okay, half of one. We just got our beef for this year a couple months ago. This is healthy, clean beef. Not like the stuff you get at your local grocery store. Our neighbor raises a few head for friends that want it. This year we had the option of having some of the beef made into sausage and bacon. The sausage is great! We have not tried the bacon yet.

Darryl isn't in this group but it's some of the other guys that went along to help out. Yup, real cowboys. Right here. In a beautiful spot. I drove on down the road to the campground to see if they allow horse camping there. It's about 20 miles on a very windy road. But it more rugged than most people think. They look like gentle rolling hills from either side but there's some rough country between the Valley and the Bay Area. I took some pictures that I'll post next time.

I took this so you could see how sweaty Sarah was. She's a flat lander. The hills were a bit much for her but she'll get used to it. When Darryl first started training her she wouldn't even go in a small ditch or up a tiny rise. Like from the road to a field. She didn't know how. She's learning.

And here is my favorite cowboy in all his glory. It's like when he's riding the tractor. He says he "working" when I know he's having the time of his life.

Okay, now for the dryer. You know those paddle sort of things that are attached to the inside of your dryer and they help tumble your clothes around? One of mine broke! It looks like one of the screws holding it on came loose and that stressed the other attachment point which then broke. Lucky for us Maytag designed this particular dryer so everything can be accessed from the front.
Darryl fished out the missing screw, looked up the parts on line, and I ordered the baffle today. It's $7 for the part and $18 to get it here in 2 days. Overnight would have been $10 more and the next option down would have had the thing arriving next Monday. Too long. No it's not available locally. So I figure that's still a pretty cheap fix for the dryer.

I remember when I bought the laundry pair being concerned about the size and durability of the washer because we wash horse blankets, tons of towels, big rugs and regular laundry. It never occurred to me to question the dryer. I have no idea why. They are both older now and still work just fine.

As for patience...I just got the new Vogue Knitting magazine in the mail and finished this post instead of stopping to flip through the pages. Not only that, I got not just one but two knitting catalogs in the mail today. I'm having a cup of tea and a magazine break as soon as I hit "publish post".