Friday, June 30, 2006

Visiting Convergence 2006

Yesterday my friend Cherie and I visited Handweavers Guild of America's Convergence 2006. Because it was held here in Michigan (Grand Rapids) and we felt it only right that we take in such an important event so close to home.

I took shopping money, but only came home with two things:

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Can you tell what the beautiful yarn is???? Here is another look:

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Yes, yes it is Margaret Pittman's Heritage Yarn Limited Edition, special event colorway created in celebration of Convergence 2006!!!! I'm sure this photo doesn't give it the credit it deserves....I know that I had seen pictures of it and was still blown away by the glory of it in person. Margaret, you really captured the spirit of Michigan in this yarn I reminds me of blazing sunsets over the Great Lakes, or sailboats on the water or hot air balloons in Battle Creek. You have just captured my state in a yarn and I had to have it. In my mind, it was the most beautiful and unique thing at the shopping hall.

My other package was a delicious sample of German Angora fiber...this is roving. The samples were being given away by the German Angora rabbit association. This one was created by Windsor Farm Rabbitry in Silverton Oregon. No website, I'm afraid, but I will be contacting these folks to see if they have any more of this dream fiber...oh boy!

I'm glad we attended so I could say I had been, but it was such a subdued expereience. Nothing like the noise and bustle and camaraderie of a Fiber Festival, more like visiting a museum. And of course there were pieces created by fiber artists from around the world that were museum quality. True to my nature, though, my favorite piece of all was the exquisite circular lace shawl, hand spun and then knit from some dazzling white, amazing yarn (at least it LOOKED amazing - we weren't allowed to touch anything, of course!) by a woman who was actually a sheep rancher in New Zealand (I'm sorry I didn't take down her name) That appealed to me much more than a felted bowl, or knitted wire or some of the other things that stretched the limits ( a goal I guess) To me, that is a piece deserving to be called excellent...truly and actually created from the land, the heart and home. Beauty and function and purpose.

I'm such a homespun kind of girl....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer Sock Party Progress

On Friday, the beautiful yarn from my friend Eve arrived...ohhh, it is lovely stuff! So beautiful that I just want to keep it close by so that I can feast my eyes on it ;) It is called Breakfast In Bed and is 100% Merino, handpainted by Eve. You can see more of Eve's yarn and fibers at her website, Simply Divine Fibers & Yarns The colors are perfect for a summer themed party! Here it is alongside the pattern I am knitting from:

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I love the yarn so much that I had to start knitting with it right away, so I cast on and began. Here is progress so far:

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What do you think? Doesn't it just make you happy to look at it? It makes me so happy that I just ordered another skein from Eve, so that I can knit something for myself from it. This sock and the remaining yarn will be traveling across the country to my Sock Party Swap Pal ;)

Other summer photos -

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For my friend Denise, who wanted foal pictures. This is two of the 2006 Percheron foals. The black on the left is Shiloh, Stella's colt and the grey on the right is Lark, Lisa's filly. Lark looks like she is molting, doesn't she, as she sheds some of her baby coat to reveal the grey underneath. Stella's colt Shiloh may look brown, but that dull mousey brown will give way to a shiney black coat when he sheds out. Lark has an older sister, Lily, so I have a pair of grey full sisters from Lisa.

Speaking of lillies, this last picture is the site that greeted me for my morning coffee today:

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The rose is a shrub rose called Sally Holmes. The amazing Asiatic lily is a variety called My Fair Lady. Aren't they a wonderful compliment to each other? This photo is for my friend Pamela, who asked on her blog what was happening in our gardens. My alliums are just about ready to burst into full color as well, and some of the other lilies (including the magnificent Orientals) will follow close behind. The Phlox seem to be slow this year.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

First Day of Summer, First Summer Storm

We welcomed the first day of summer with some incredible rains here in mid-Michigan. See the difference just a few minutes can make in the is the view from my back porch, about an hour after I woke up (I would like to mention that I don't wake up late, with the sun already high in the is actually about 6 am Wednesday morning. The sky just had that peculiar bright color it takes on before a storm):

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And here is the same view, only moments later. Can you see the horses through the driving rain?

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So, what's a girl to do on such a day, stuck indoors? Paperwork? No. Housework? Definately NOT (grin) Alex was bored and couldn't stop himself from pestering, so I agreed to sit and watch a movie with him, which turned out to be a lot of fun! We watched National Treasure with Nicholas Cage and I, being the productive knitter that I am (LOL!) worked on several things.

First, socks for the CIC Summer Sock Challange:

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Hmmm, I realize looking at this photo that at this stage the sock toes look like a bathing suit top for a Barbie who loves John Deere tractors! (refering to the green and yellow colors of the yarn...) I really think a toddler will enjoy these bright colors, but maybe I should have waited till there was more of the socks to show than this.

Then, it was on to knitting swatches for the Mystery_Stole_2 KAL. I know the yarn I want to use (a blend of one of our favorite Corriedale ewes and Angora bunny, a warm coffee cream color yarn), and here are my samples on size 6, size 7 and size 8 needles:

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So far, the sample in size 7 is my favorite. Melanie (designer of the pattern and host of the KAL) tells us that the swatch pattern is a good representative of what the holey-ness versus solid-ness will be in the actual pattern, so I am going to go for what feels best to me. Hmmm, maybe I will knit one more swatch on size 9 needles... This yarn was spun for me by my friends at Spinderella's and while it is a laceweight yarn, spinners will realize that the bounce and livliness of the wool remains (somewhat) in the yarn and that Corriedale is a very lively fiber that wants to puff itself up (cheeky yarn!)so this really works up more like a fingerling weight. I love the feel of it!

Yet another swatch below, this time for the Grannie Smith Cardigan KAL (Now I tell you, I HAVE to join in on this lace knit-a-long, since I AM Granny Smith around these parts - just ask the grandchildren!) I think everyone else on the list is knitting their sweaters in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, except me.

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Swatch on the left is a commercial laceweight Alpaca, knit on size 4 US needles. Beautiful color, very nice to work with, but too drapey and holes to large to make a comfortable cardigan, IMHO. On the right is the grey Corriedale/CVM/Angora blend (again, from our own sheep and processed into yarn by Spinderella's) It is my choice and I can already picture the classic pearly grey yarn highlighted by some subtle and elegant pearl-like buttons! It has substance, softness, luster and best of all it feels GREAT! I will post another photo at the KAL blog site.

And I got gauge - exactly! So, the Corriedale blend (my first love) is the final choice. Please overlook the mistake in my knitting - I'm sure you can see where I mis-read the pattern and my little diamonds are out of sync...I made the executive decision since I was so near the end of the sample row and it was only a swatch to check gauge AND dinner was ready to go on the just go with it ;/ The pattern itself has no mistakes, it was totally a knitters error!

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Finally (if you are still reading at this point), I continue faithfully knitting and praying for Dale while I work on The Elegantly Simple Triangle Lace shawl in handspun alpaca. Dale is embarking on the next big step of her journey and continued prayers for her and her family are so important. This photo was taken a few days earlier, when the sun was shining

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Whew, that was a long-winded update, wasn't it? Amazing what a rainy day can allow you the freedom to produce! I enjoyed the day just relaxing with Alex and Bill, knitting and blogging. I would love to hear your feedback on any of the samples above and as always, to hear what others are knitting.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Summer Sock Party 06

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I'm so excited! I joined the Summer Sock Party 06 swap just in the nick of time (before it closed) and today - the first day of summer - we received the name of our Swap Pal ;)

It is our choice whether or not to keep our identity a secret from our Pal ;) I am still trying to decide....I have visited my Swap Pal's blog and read her archives, where I found lots of great hints about the kind of socks she likes - that was helpful! She sounds like a fun person who I would love to sit and knit with!

That got me to thinking that you may not be able to gather much about what I like on my feet from this blog - LOL - so if my Swap Pal is reading, I just want to say that I am NOT fussy ;) My feet aren't particularly narrow or wide, short of fat - they are average (and you already have the size). I love all colors. I prefer wool, I LOVE wool, but I am open to wearing new fibers, too. Doesn't have to be machine washable, I have no problem with hand washing my socks.

So there, be happy and have fun, person who has my name for the swap ;)

I already have the yarn picked out to knit my sock from...hmmm, wonder if I should tell what it is???

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fathers in kind

Today is Fathers Day and as I do most days, I am thankful and glad for the Dad I have!

Many of you know, this has not been the easiest year for us at Serenity Farms. My dad has been there for me and Bill every step of the way (as has my Mom and the rest of our dear families!) Whether it was sitting with me at the hospital waiting on news of Bill; visiting the hospital when I couldn't; offering advice or even driving the hour and a half (one way!) to help me with work around the farm...Dad has been there for me. I have been blessed to have Alex, who came to live with us in January, be able to spend time with Dad and to work and learn from him - most recently it was building fence for new sheep pastures.

Here are some pictures from the family archives I thought you might enjoy. First up, my first day home:

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That is Dad, holding me. On the back of the photo, Mom had written "Taken the night we got home, Cary still has the hospital band on her arm...her Daddy was holding her"

And this one, a year or so later:

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Notice we had moved up to color film in this photo (grin) A very strong memory I have is of my Dad holding me like that and dancing around the room while Patsy Cline sang "Walkin' After Midnight" and Dad singing along. Is it any doubt that Patsy Cline remains one of my favorites?!?

I love my Dad!

And I love my Heavenly Father, too. I am blessed to have a good earthly representative in my own Dad, of a Fathers love and care for a daughter. I am lucky to have a husband who is this kind of father to our children, grandchildren, nephews and extended family - his and mine combined! I have a little journal with poems and sayings throughout its pages. There are no credits given for any of these, so I apologize if I am sharing something I shouldn't here...I would be happy to give credit if I knew who wrote this. It says, in part:

I am a woman who belongs to the Lord...He is my Father and I am His daughter...He loves me with a perfect love....My confidence is in Him, my covering is in Him...He knows and understands my heart. Because He is my Father, I am secure in His arms and have no fear about my future. He cares for me in complete faithfulness and instructs me with unfailing wisdom. He has ordered my steps and He teaches me His ways. He gives me good gifts and encourages me...I am part of His family and accepted in the beloved. I am an heir and I have an inheritance that is eternal and incorruptible. I am so blessed to belong to Him!

With love and thanksgiving to Dads of all kinds...Thank you ;)