24 January 2014

Harvesting the Fiber~ guest blogger Andee

For those of you who don't know. My parents have an alpaca farm. I help out on the farm with chores. I love being around the alpacas. Last week my parents headed to Las Vegas for an alpaca auction. While they were gone my sisters and I chipped in our time to care for the herd. I was in charge of morning feedings and cleaning the pens. All was going well until we got hit by a huge snow storm!  My parents flight was canceled and they were stuck in Vegas.

I had been getting up all week at 6 am to hit the gym for an hour, then to the farm to feed. Then got back home to get the kids off to school. Then back to the farm to clean pens, then back home to work and take care of my husband (who just had shoulder surgery).

After seven days of this I was SOOO exhausted and could barely stand up to move from the couch. I felt like I was a contestant on the Biggest Looser. I was getting quite a work out. I felt like I deserved a Biggest Looser Weigh in today. I was ready to stand up on the scale this morning and watch the weight tick away to reveal I lost 8 lbs. Woo Hoo. I really did work my butt off this week. But now my parents are home and I hopefully will have more time to relax and knit.

I have really enjoyed working on my Spire. I took a little brake from it to work out a new pattern. I just ordered 1600 yards of Loft for it :) Sometimes I feel like I spend so much time swatching and writing patterns and I have nothing to show for it :( I'm going to try to get as much done on my Spire before my new yarn comes. I got a notice it shipped today, so I better knit faster!

I feel like this looks much cooler in person than it does in pictures.
I'm not sure how well it comes across on the computer, but I am really happy with it in person.
The colors didn't completely fade smoothly, but I really like it.

I inserted two strands of waste yarn at two points.
I am thinking about opening it up so I can wear this as a cardigan / vest.
It will be an heirloom Snuggy.

I think I'll get more use out of it if I can wear it. I will decide after I block it.
If I don't want to make the arm holes I'll just graft the row back together, otherwise I'll work some
knitting magic to make nice arm holes.

And since I went on so much about the farm in the beginning of this post.
I thought I should include some farm shots I took with my cell phone.
It has been tooooooo cold to carry around my good camera.

I shoveled walk ways in each of the fields so the alpacas could walk in lighter snow.
At one point four of them were laying in one of the walkways head to tail. They looked like
the alpaca bobsledding team. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture.

Kigo found a nice warm spot in the barn.

In other exciting news we bought a travel trailer. I claimed my knitting spot!
I can't wait for it to warm up and we'll be off camping.
I see weeks of traveling, knitting and photography in my near future.
I can't wait!

21 January 2014

phase two ~ posted by Melissa

there were only going to be two batches but look what I received in the last two days
enough to warrant a third batch later, I think, since there are still more coming
you all blow me away...
thank you Miss Lightbeam for the thoughtfulness to include something for Alex's mom...
I know you already know how I feel about you :)

& will Alex ever be blown away, Mimi & Sean, when he opens his package of 'army guy'  stuff
you both blew me away (I know ~ a little repetitive but it's true) ~ thanks for your kindness and thank you for your service, Sean
mom asked for one hat...
we've answered with sixteen (16) so far with more on the way (I did wrap each one of your hats individually and put a tag that has your name and where you live on it so he knows how far and wide people care about him)
thank you thank you thank you
(just to update ~ mom still is unaware of what's been going on...she ended up at the doctors with one of Alex's siblings last week on the day I was supposed to see her...when it rains it pours ~ I will let you know when she and Alex finally get all your packages)

19 January 2014

dear andi ~ posted by Melissa

See you in Jersey, girl :) ... they did it!!!!!

15 January 2014

phase one ~ posted by Melissa

these will go to mom tomorrow...thank you Annette, Penny, Trudy, Bonnie, and Kelli for your time and thoughtfulness
and thanks to everyone whose hats haven't arrived yet or are still in the works (that means you Will, Kelly, Mom, Mimi, Andrea, Chris and Elaine...and anyone who is knitting the boy a hat and hasn't told me...may good karma come back to you twofold!)
the second batch will go to Alex in a week or two
I'll keep you all posted if I hear anything about how he is doing ~ I imagine tomorrow he will be so surprised and excited by all his new headgear
thank you so much, everybody ~ I owe you one
 ~ Melissa

13 January 2014

peace ~ posted by Melissa

the best thing about hard times is the moment when you feel like you've turned the corner and things just may be returning to normal
today I sit in a quiet house ~ no tv ~ no radio ~ and appreciate the silence
our health crisis is 99.9% behind us ~ I finally feel for the first time in 5 months that there's no need for any more worry
my daily routines are getting back to normal ~ I'm finding time to help those in need, instead of feeling needy
my wish for you in 2014 is that you have peace and joy and hope all throughout the upcoming year
thanks to everyone that is helping with Operation Alex ~ I can't thank you enough ~ the first batch of hats will be delivered this week and another later in the month as more are finished
hopefully we'll bring some joy and peace to a family that got off to a very difficult start this year ~ I am thankful for all of you
happy new year, all   ~   Melissa

12 January 2014

Spinning and Knitting~ guest blogger Andee

I have spun about 1,000 yards of yarn and I have my Spire on my needles. I am a little further along than the picture above. The color is blending very nicely and I am very pleased with it. I am still working out in my head how I'm going to do the blending for the knitted on edging so I'm keeping 8 oz of roving unspun so I can work on those details as I go.
In the mean time I am loving the ease of this pattern and I'm enjoying how quickly it is knitting up, but like all things that start from the center I'm sure progress will start slowing soon.

10 January 2014

spire 2014 - my progress so far ~ posted by guest blogger Andrea :)

This picture shows my current status.  This is as flat as I can get it laid out. I'm now knitting on 2 circular needles to eliminate some of the scrunching. I like to see a little better what I'm doing.  I've reached the middle of Chart B, repeat 3.  I am really in the rhythm of this pattern. I count all stitches in each quadrant before I move on and it has gotten a little difficult (100+ stitches in each quadrant).  I've now added, for my convenience, 2 additional markers - one after the 1st 16-stitch repeat and another after the 4th.  This way I can break down my count to more workable and visible numbers.  Knock on wood, I've had no mistakes to unknit or fix because of these additional markers.  It's all to eliminate headaches and frustrations.

I am in love with my yarn and this pattern.  However, I'm ready to move on to the next chart.  It won't be much longer.  I love this project.

Let's hear a little from some of the others out there.  I'm curious where everybody is and how it's going, particularly Kelli.  A little bird whispered to me and I want some verification.  Happy knitting everyone!

06 January 2014

Put Me In Coach~ guest blogger Andee

I was very excited to see that the Spire was chosen for this KAL. Not only am I obsessed with all things Brooklyn Tweed I was also looking for a project that I could try out a gradient/progressive/fading, whatever you want to call it, yarn.  I knew this project would be perfect for just that. Now the trick was to find the yarn.

I have been searching for a gradient yarn for a while. I have seen some yarn that had a gradient to it, but I wasn't fond of the colors or I have found it and the price was way too high. So I gave up the search and decided to make the yarn myself.  This KAL was the perfect excuse.  I had the roving dyed by Spunky Eclectic and it arrived in the mail today! I almost busted down the door to get to the mailbox when I finally saw the mail man.

It is strange to order fiber that I have never seen and was custom dyed for me. It isn't like I can just return it. Also since this project takes 1600 yards I better like it because I'll be working with it for a while.

I was so relieved when I opened the package to find this!!!!

It is Panda-

This is the description of the fiber from Spunky Eclectic's website.
~Panda Combed Top - Panda is a gorgeous blend of Superwash Merino (60%), Bamboo Viscose (30%) and Nylon (10%). It's got all the strength and durability to be a long wearing pair of socks with all the lusciousness to be much much more.

Progression Dyed ~

In my opinion the fiber is Heavenly. It is so shiny and smooth I couldn't be happier with it. I can't wait to start knitting with it. But first I have to spin it all to make sure I'll have enough!

Can you see the slow gradient of the yarn?!

I am so happy to finally get to work on this project with such a great group or people!

Happy Knitting
on Ravelry as AndeeKF

03 January 2014

silent fingers ~ posted by Melissa

And O, ye swelling hills, and spacious plains Besprent from shore to shore with steeple-towers, And spires whose ‘silent finger points to heaven’… - William Wordsworth 1770–1850


Isager Strik Spinni Wool 1 - soft chartreuse & warm gingerbread

The top photo is the yarn I chose for the Girls in Sheep Clothing New Years Knitalong.
I am so lucky to have won a giveaway on lori's blog & so glad that she knows Karen & Pat at Crows Nest Studios who made the blue pottery yarn bowl that is my prize ~ thank you, Lori & Karen & Pat!
...& I went from having no yarn bowls to two (aren't I lucky!) when I received the handmade cherry bowl for Christmas from Kelli ~ it was made by the husband of one of the gals in our knitting group...thanks Kelli & Diane & Mr Diane :).
My sister who is not a knitter has been surprising me the last few years with sweet handmade tags for the knits I gift ~ she finds the best shops on etsy (the tags above can be found here and here ~ they're almost too pretty to use, don't you think?
That's it for today ~ mostly some eye candy for your enjoyment ~ I hope to have some knitting to share by the end of the weekend!
Hope your not per-SPIRE-ing too much from burning up the needles, Kelli & Andrea!
~ Melissa

02 January 2014

Fun Times, Ya Ya, Good Times...a post from Kelli

Andrea and I get to see and share once a week, at least, our progress~
 we asked another friend to take a picture of us
 and our Spires so far.  She focused in on us more then the knitting.
Thanks Elaine!

Andrea kept saying "oh got another row done" and I was messing up the
same section for about 2 hours. I can't seem to visit and knit this one.

We set our goals, Andrea wants hers done by Stitches end of February(where she's headed)
and I'd like mine done by Madrona, February 14th.

We'll see?

roadtrip (narrated by Mr Webster) ~ posted by Melissa

waiting - the act of waiting (remaining inactive in one place while expecting something)

home - The abiding place of the affections,

embark - To go on board a vessel or a boat for a voyage

awe-inspiring - inspiring awe or admiration or wonder;"this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath"- Melville;

anticipation - pleasurable expectation

church mouse - a fictional mouse created by Lewis Carroll

nirvana - any place of complete bliss and delight and peace

intoxicating - extremely exciting as if by alcohol or a narcotic

gracious - Abounding in beauty, loveliness, or amiability

 patience - the power of suffering with fortitude

recompense - To give in return; to pay back; to pay, as something earned or deserved

energize - cause to be alert and energetic; "Coffee and tea stimulate me"
character - The peculiar quality, or the sum of qualities, by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others; the stamp impressed by nature, education, or habit
snarf - make off with belongings of others
felicity - The state of being happy; blessedness; blissfulness; enjoyment of good
A long awaited trip to Churchmouse Yarns & Teas.  A day with my husband spent out and about enjoying each other's company.  Christmas gifts received were carefully plotted, planned and well spent (thank you Trudy and Nanna).  More BT Shelter for hats, bright happy yarn for socks and enough yarn for our just kicked off New Year's Knitalong.  I'll get better yarn photos tomorrow in better light because, no, my Spire will not be golden and peach like you see above in the middle...not even close!  There's still time to join if you're tempted (and if you are following along and want to post (Mara!) ~ don't forget to pm me on Ravelry so I can tell you what I need from you so you can play along :)
I love how excited everyone seems to be who has taken time to post...and I know by Kelli's silence she is almost finished (only half kidding!).
Thanks everyone for all the wonderful posts and photos and excitement ~ you make doing this every year worthwhile and something to look forward to all year long!
I need to wind some yarn so that's all for now ~ more to come tomorrow hopefully! 
Happy knitting and happy new year!  Melissa
(and I did snarf the drink menu above but only because I plan on trying this at home!)

Spire, at last ~ by guest blogger Kelly Lightbeam

At last, my love has come along.  My lonely days are over, and life is like a song.  Oh yeah, at last.  The skies above are blue.  My heart is wrapped up in clover, the night I looked at you.  I found a dream, that I could speak to.  A dream that I could call my own.  I found a thrill to press my cheek to.  A thrill that I have never known....

Ah, this is how happy I am to be knitting Spire.  I've dreamed of it for the last two years, but there was always something else to do first.  At last, it's time to cast on.  My yarn choice changed often, until I finally settled on Shelter, by Brooklyn Tweed in the "Snowbound" colorway.   I had wanted something tweedy, but really cozy and warm, so that the finished Spire could be a blanket at my wee cabin.  I would have liked to begin yesterday,  but unfortunately, I had lost 4 out of 5 of my size 8 DPN's, so I decided to wait until today, when I could pick up a set at my LYS.  In the next few minutes, I'll start up the fireplace with a cup of white hot chocolate in hand, and get down to business! 

I'll be excited to see everyone else's beginnings!
Kelly Lightbeam

01 January 2014

SPIRE 2014 KAL - Day 1 ~ guest blogger Andrea

Jan. 1, 2014 - Last night I colored my charts with colored pencils, assigning a color to each stitch maneuver. It really calls attention to the different decreases, etc.

The cast-on took me about 4 attempts. I finally used a different color marker for each of the 4 DPN’s so I could identify them easily. That really helped. I’m not a fan of the cast-on.

Each of my paired markers are the same color. I’m doing everything I can to take the potential problems out of this project. The beginning of round markers are green (for go). I used that technique always to help me identify beginning of round or RS.

I am counting every section between the double markers before I proceed. This is something I learned in a Sivia Harding class. This eliminates forgetting a YO, etc. and not catching it until the next row.
I made my change to circular needles at the beginning of chart B. I’ve made it to around halfway through chart B, but I devoted the entire day to knitting (I never do that). Rose Parade, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and some afternoon fluff. It feels very decadent.

The pattern is pretty straightforward for me. I won’t be able to memorize it but it’s easy to read your work and get into a groove of what to do. I did go online to solidify how to do the sspTBL. Don’t let it throw you. So far, I’m loving this project. Cheers, all

The prodigal knitters... guest bloggers Carolyn and Penny

Carolyn and I opted out of a KAL earlier in the year, and thought we would be sneaky and do our own. However, I forgot and posted my partially completed project on RAV way early (duh); Carolyn kept her's a secret.

She made another "Shetland Triangle Shawl" by Clark, and I made "Lighter Than Perfume" by Tsymbal. She finished over a month ago, and I clocked in just before the New Year, last night.

Lo and behold, Carolyn also made this beauty by Susanna IC,  "Annis".

Last but not least, we both made the Rachel shawl from the same yarn, which we promised Mel we'd model.