Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmastime has gone and the goose has gone as well

6th annual cookie drop
another Christmas has come and gone, and i sincerely hope it has brought joy and love to all of your homes.

it remains strange to have Christmas without Grandma (Mickey), but otherwise our traditions remain fairly unchanged - even with celebrating in Knoxville instead of Nashville. this year, for the Cookie drop we made Tollhouse chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies with icing, and pecan puffs. we also added on Ranger cookies - who knew dates and coconut would work so well together - and... [drumroll please] gingerbread cookies! it had been long enough since the great gingerbread debacle of 2002 that we were willing to try again. we used an entirely different recipe (which we completely screwed up the first time round anyway) and eventually ended up with cookies that behaved suspiciously like food!

we followed Grandma's approach to the puffs to the T [only use cake flour, sift three times before measuring, use room temperature butter, roll in Confectioner's sugar a second time once the cookies are truly cool....] and we came surprisingly close. next year we think we will nail it. the peanut butter cookies, Mickey's other specialty, were yummy but not nearly as close to replicating her genius. as we decided it should be. we do have some ideas for next year though.

6th annual cookie drop
after a last heroic push to finish and package all the cookies*, we had dinner from our 'Chinese place' - a wonderful Thai restaurant called Lemon Grass.

*don't worry- there were a few left for our own noshing...

because i was on clinics through Christmas eve morning, we were up awfully early and ended up too tired for the 11 o'clock Christmas eve service. instead, we all gathered round the table with Grandma's little ceramic tree, Mom told us how Grandma would read the Christmas story from Luke to them when she was a child, and then she read it to us by candlelight. it was quite special and really felt like Mickey was with us. we reflect about how terrifying it must have been for Mary, a teenage girl with no mother in sight, to labor amongst the cows to bring forth the Greatest Gift.

to bed we retreated, in hopes of sugarplums and reindeer and peace and goodwill. Christmas morning we woke to discover full stockings. A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart (one of our favorite versions) played while Mom and I made the cranberry relish, bread dressing and prepped the turkey. then we all dug in to our stockings with glee. we listened to the Muppets Christmas with John Denver while enjoying scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. [and bacon!] we were going to have mimosas with our breakfast like Mickey loved so much, but we forgot to pick up Champagne!

after breakfast, we made final preparations for the Cookie Drop:

6th annual cookie drop

since it is the first time we have 'dropped' in Knoxville, it took a lot of legwork to track down our fire stations, ERs and police but we were up for the challenge. Roland drove and Travy kept us out of trouble. this year we visited my work (the animal ER is open for Christmas as well, you know), the Bearden Fire Station, City of Knoxville Fire Station on Portsmouth, Highway Patrol, John Duncan Fire Station, TSA screening at the Tyson-McGhee Airport, a failed attempt at the alleged police station near our house (bad intel on this one), Park West Medical ER and then - just for good measure since we knew they were open - the Thai restaurant.

we were a bit uncertain about how we would be received now that the terrorist 'threat' is a constant orange, but everyone was happy to see us and the firemen especially wouldn't have minded if we stopped to stay awhile! we aren't sure if the TSA people ate their cookies - they don't have history with us like they do at BNA in Nashville - but we enjoyed delivering them so either way it was a success.

home was a welcome sight as the clock rolled round to 3:30. it took no time at all to pop the turkey in and then finally it was time for presents. Roland loved his socks (whew!); Mom loved her stole, socks and footies; and Travy was totally shocked (in a good way) to receive his slippers. i was quite well-spoiled as well. Travy gave me wool and yak fiber, a special project bag for Madrona, DPN WIP tubes, and a generous supply of Woodbeams. Mom and Roland delighted me with both the slow and super slow whorls and another bobbin for my wheel.

after presents, i showed Mom the finished Comfort Shawl. she asked whether i might consider giving it to a member of her choir who has developed Lou Gehrig's disease and has great difficulty pulling sweaters on. it seemed a perfect idea so the Comfort Shawl is now on his way to a new home.

Kelly and Bill called from Ireland, where they are enjoying a wonderful holiday with Joanie Baloney, who is still going strong. it was wonderful to talk to them and hear all about Joanie. we have never met her, but she remains like family we have always known.

finally, we wrapped up our magical night with A Child's Christmas in Wales and Elf. [we were going to watch Amahl but the DVD player was acting out. if Christmas is here next year, we will have another plan in place!] it was a wonderful day, full of love and joy and the magic of the miracle.

so from our family to yours, here is hoping you had a magical Christmas and wishing you a Joyous New Year!

Roland, Mom, me, and Trav

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the seventh inning stretch of holiday knitting...

otherwise known as 'Next year I have got to make a schedule (and coordinate with shipping windows).'

here it is, one week and some hours before Santa hitches on the reindeer to bring wonder to children everywhere. my trees shine merrily, the bushes twinkle and our shepherd's crooks remind me of mono-color candy canes. the new Christmas movies battle for viewing time against the ever thickening crush of NFL games and 13.4* hours of Christmas music. the Christmas cards i almost never successfully send stare at me from a basket on the wall as if to say, 'This year? Could it be this year that we go to the show?'

holiday knitting has reached a new fervor as projects multiply like tribbles in the night and the shipping window completely closes. for unknown reasons, i have gotten out of the habit of making a Christmas list of my family (blood and otherwise) and their intended presents. as the year has gone by, i have bookmarked certain project ideas in my head for certain people and even stashed some completed objects in my 'gift hutch' as i went. my grasp on time, however, has been poor and it wasn't until the Yarn Harlot began posting her holiday knitting schedule that i recognized how the projects had been queuing up in the background and realized how quickly the month was getting away from me. it did not help that i spent last weekend in Georgia at a Continuing Education series - i could knit neither while driving the 5 hours each way nor while practicing advanced scoping procedures in a live animal lab.

so when this weekend came up fast and furious, responding in kind was imperative...

and respond i did...

but i can't show you any of it for fear of blowing the surprise.

the project list has been beaten back to semi-manageable, but the shipping window is sealing up tight as Mr. Scrooge's purse! there is no ducking the truth- some presents will be late reaching their new homes. sigh.

*my current iTunes tally yet to my bafflement it is still sadly deficient. example: although i have been 'given' it twice and actually received it once (right before the accident so not too shocking it disappeared), i still do not have the Muppets Christmas with John Denver CD.

thank you all for your kind comments upon my friend's wife's passing. after some discussion, i have decided to finish the comfort shawl and donate to a charity auction for breast cancer research funding.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Comfortless shawl

Comfort shawl

last night, the person for whom i was knitting this comfort shawl died.

though you know nothing of her, please keep her husband and two teenage children in your prayers.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat!

oh joy, oh contentment- how i love Christmas!

the decorations are finally up and this year there are so many. our place is so much bigger than my old apartment, so there is room, and i have many of my Grandma's Christmas things to bring her with us into the season.

downstairs is my big ol tree:

Big Christmas

and now we have an upstairs for the little tree i got when i was an undergrad. i have decorated it with a bucket of nutcracker ornaments of Mickey's and her angel rests on top.

Nutcracker Christmas

after chores, some work and decorating, Sunday was mostly free. Christmas is going to be here this year so i really have to start scouting a route for the Great Cookie Drop*, but that is the stuff of the workweek.

*somehow, we took no pictures last year! how strange.

Sunday i crafted. i cannot show my work, for it was almost all Christmas knitting! how very joyful. joyful enough that i can share a personal disappointment... i was really hoping to go to Madrona this coming year. i desperately wish to be able to knit the Mittens of Rovaniemi.

unfortunately, registration opened the day i started an emergency rotation right after i had to start work. by the time i could take 5 minutes to register, it was 2pm here and the page was broken. it finally reopened around 6pm but everything was full! i emailed Suzanne for advice and she said to send her my course requests and she would get back to me in a week. well, it has obviously been much more than a week (poor Suzanne). i threw everything out so i wouldn't get too bitter and yesterday i finally emailed to retract my time off request. :(

then, about 8:30 last night, i got quite a surprise when Suzanne called to say she could get me into my second choices and also my most important first - the mittens class. i can barely believe it. so, i will be seeing many of you this spring after all!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

surviving the Fire Swamp and pansy showers

first off, thanks to everyone for the support after my last post. it appears to have been a drug reaction! i have been able to wean off of a couple medications since the longer-onset allergy/asthma treatments have achieved full efficacy and am happy to report that the pain has mostly lifted. i think Travy is even happier than i am - he says that i no longer seem to be struggling just to live through the day, that i seem a lot more like i am actually alive instead of just barely living. it will probably still be a long road to fully regaining my 'me', but it is nice to be able to see 'around' the pain.

because Travy will not be able to get time off at Christmas, i sent him home to Colorado for Thanksgiving. i couldn't go anywhere since i am on clinics, but it is not the first Thanksgiving i have spent 'alone'. my service ended up with a number of inpatients so i spent a fair bit of time at the hospital, especially Thursday/Friday. mainly i have spent my 'holiday' navigating the swamp of impending deadlines, lectures, and research work. it took most of Thursday, Friday and a good part of Saturday, but i finally feel i have tamed most of my ROUS's.

...enough so that i was able to make a run to Home Depot yesterday. i have been looking forward to Tennessee winter so eagerly because it brings the Tennessee winter annual. the pansy. i love pansies. actually, i love all of the flower-faced flowers- pansies, violas and violets.

with as poorly as i have been feeling, i was starting to worry i would not get to have my own pansies. it shouldn't come as surprise, therefore, that i kinda overshot with the flower purchases. not that it is possible to have too many pansies but the space available to me really does not wish to accommodate two flats each of violas and pansies with an additional flat of Dusty Miller for good measure. so i did what any sane person would- i planted every inch of space available in my yard and then rang my elderly neighbor's doorbell.

her: Yes?
me: Hi! I kind of overshot with the pansies and was wondering whether you would like me to plant some in your yard.
her: Um. It is a little chippy out. Are you sure you aren't catching a chill?
me: No, no. I'm fine. Plenty warm. But I still have a lot of flowers. So I was wondering whether you would like me to plant some for you...?
her: [trying to subtly place herself a little more squarely behind her door] So, what was your name? I seem to have forgotten.
me: Jacqui. So... would you like some pansies?
her: Well, I don't really take care of things but if you think they won't need care... I guess you could plant them.
me: Great!
her: [awkward pause] Well, you take care.
me: You too! Have a great weekend.

i planted a lot of pansies in her yard and still ended up digging out an additional flower pot to finish them off. i was going to put the pot on her porch but decided that might be a little too much for her.

last night, after i finished up my chores and a battled a few more ROUS's, i kicked off the annual 'Drown myself in Christmas movies' marathon. yesterday's new find was A Grandpa for Christmas with Ernest Borgnine. it seems wrong somehow to compare them, but his demeanor and mannerisms reminded me so much of Mickey that it was almost like she wasn't so far away. i miss her miss keenly this year... i think last year there was still so much shock that i couldn't exactly feel my response to her absence.

i was also able to finish up some spinning and take pictures of all my recent crafting... dig.

Meet the 70s sock weight:
Meet the 70s

No. 2 fingering weight (carbonized bamboo):
No. 2

Rodeo skies sport weight:
Rodeo skies

Rodeo skies bulky:
Rodeo skies, bulky

there is knitting content as well.

Christmas socks:
Diamond Waffle Socks

Mystic Waters lace:
Mystic Waters

today i have some reading to do about Ankylosing Spondylitis for two of my dearest and most beloved friends. [no, i didn't forget. i just haven't been able to think well enough at the end of the day to do this sooner.]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

where we celebrate the headache

today i went to see the internist who also took my headache seriously. so seriously, in fact, that she ordered a same-day CT scan. six stress-filled hours, three work projects, and the first half of a sock foot knit, frogged and rebuilt, later...

i am proud to report that although my mind may sometimes be dirty, my brain is clean!

so tonight i am celebrating that i have a headache because - although we haven't figured out how to get rid of it yet - headache is certainly a big step closer to healthy than brain tumor would be.

Harvest gourds
here i bring you Harvest Gourds... i'm calling it that because the colors are true to all those random squashes with which holiday tables are festooned. it is 4 oz BFL from the painted sheep in colorway Tiger Lily, final WPI=16. there is about 500 yards. it also is the first yarn i have spun on my new wheel (wheeeeeeee!) and my first experience with double drive. given those caveats, i am pretty happy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

odd ends

my productivity has been poor, both craft-and life-wise, because i continue to struggle with the headache that will not die. two weeks ago, i realized it had been pretty much six weeks with no respite. the allergy meds had finally kicked in but the pain remained...


[copious whining redacted]

in the end, the allergist scripted me antibiotics for sinus infection. the pharmacist was impressed with the dose and duration. keep your fingers crossed.

which is a long way of saying, anything i have been trying to do the last two weeks is late and probably not done yet since my head still hurts.

craft updates:

Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas
Sweet Peas are blocked and lovely. blocking wires made the blocking so much faster and less painful.

Pumpkin eater
Pumpkin Eater after setting the twist. 3 ply of Suffolk, Suffolk and tussah silk. 17 WPI. perfect for socks.

Baby blankie
baby blankie for charity. brainless. allowed me to control nervous energy during meetings without herniating brain.

and i completely missed politics this election cycle. [tsk]

go vote.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

here he is...

My first wheel!!
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
[or at least i think it is a he. ]

my first wheel.


SAFF was a delight overall, though i was shocked and somewhat dismayed to discover i came home with less than $100 of fiber and yarn, once presents were set aside. [Travy is very disappointed in my lack of stash accumulation, esp since i spent the entire night before planning and packing like i was headed on an arctic expedition.]

i was well-rewarded for waiting on a wheel until i could try them all. i really really thought i would be buying the Majacraft Rose but i did not like her, not at all. it came down to the Lendrum and the handsome devil you see here. after much debate, i ended up committing to my new boyfriend, the Schacht DT Matchless. while i was at it, i also picked up a superfast whorl and two fast bobbins.

Pumpkin eater
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
i had dragged my toes on plying up my October SAL and so was able to enjoy using my new fella and a tensioned Lazy Kate for the job. i am incredibly pleased with the yarn. it is 2 plies of the space-dyed Suffolk with one ply of tussah silk from Abby's Yarns. the twist is currently setting and the WPI to follow thereafter.

this weekend i also managed to finish the Sweet Pea stole. only blocking remains. hopefully my lace wires will arrive before i exhaust my tolerance for its current crumpled form. i cast on a crocheted baby blankie for charity and a a second project toward my Christmas goals. [bonus: i learned a new cast-on technique: the Lighter Circular Cast-on. Sweet indeed.]

it is these things that comfort me given the underwhelming interest in the PIF post. if i don't get more sign-ups, perhaps i will just gift Lara thrice?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pay It Forward

... or if you stop lurking and comment already, you may receive a wonderful treat! :)

after signing up over on Maggie May's* blog, i am exciting to share the PIF game! here is the game:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

so here i am, promising three jacqui-made wonders... don't leave me standing all alone on prom night!

* i know her name isn't Maggie May, but with all the rain, i am in a Vega sort of mood.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Postcard for Burma
Originally uploaded by trudib1974

Courage is grace under pressure. ~Hemingway

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. ~Winston Churchill

Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. ~Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. ~C.S. Lewis

Courage is fear holding on a minute longer. ~George Smith Patton

Thursday, October 11, 2007

when i was seventeen,

Mallard's web
it was a very good year WPI,
it was a very good year WPI
with narrow gauge for sharp pointy sticks...

so yesterday i finally sat down and determined the WPI for all the yarns i have spun thus far. turns out i am very very consistent. perhaps a little too consistent. in spite of differences in fiber types, plying styles and plying speeds, my WPI were all 18 except for one 16.5. [i also had one 17 but i am pretty sure i subconsciously fudged that because i was disconcerted by all the consistency.]

i think i will be forced to try and spin my next yarn a little thicker.

this, however, is Mallard. it is a wool / silk blend that i bought at my first guild meeting. twelve ounces quietly minding its own business and waiting for me to be ready. i am going to try to keep up with a Spin Along on Ravelry. October's theme is:
Halloween colors / Plying with nubs / Silk (tussah, ingeo, hankies etc)

i didn't think i was ready to go full-on into the theme so i pulled out Mallard to gain some experience with silk. i have spun and plied 8 oz so far and am almost through the last 4. it is turning out quite lovely and a shocking 18 WPI. lol.

once i have completed Mallard, i will be spinning the Suffolk Linda and i dyed and then some silk i have that matches for a final ply together. perhaps afterwards, i will feel comfortable that i can spin the gorgeous silk Denise sent me without totally ruining it.

random joyfulness of the week sent to me from my dear friend Steinie: Snowball rocks out.

in other good news, my continued conscious attempt to limit typing appears to finally be bearing fruit- my arm is way less painful this weekend than it has been in weeks.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Originally uploaded by jacquichris
My fourth yarn. The wool is a sheep named Hoover, the product of a Romney/Corrie and [i forgot] cross. The roving nigh spun itself. I am pretty darn happy with the improvement in consistency. I forgot my little leftover ball (it wouldn't fit on the bobbins with the rest) when i plied Friday but finished him up Sunday.

Sweet Peas
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
i finally have hit the halfway point on this lace 'scarf'. although i like the pattern, i probably won't do another one like it. it is constructed in stages: knit 1st border, knot middle, knit second border. the borders are 30 stitches long for a total of ~440 rows and the center is 15 rows. the zillion short rows end up taking forever relative to the longer rows. in the future, i will probably try to stick with lace that doesn't have so many short rows.

Space dye!
Saturday i went to a dye-in with Linda. she brought roving from her Suffolk which we dyed in variety of happy yellows and oranges. the first of the rovings i kept is this, which i am looking forward to using for an Halloween themed SAL.

Mallard's web
i also found time to start spinning a silk-wool blend that i purchased when i barely had started learning. it is spinning up quite lovely and may actually be fine and regular enough for lacework. we'll see... perhaps i will swatch it for the Mystic Waters KAL. hmm...

Sunday, October 07, 2007


it has been a long wait, i know, but i now bring you the eye candy that i have named:

A huge package of fun from Lara to 'warm' my new house.

A huge package of fun
Originally uploaded by jacquichris

let's move in for a closer look...

Harvest bounty
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
first we have some fiber to aid my new addiction... i call it Harvest Bounty because the colors remind me of the Indian corn with which we used to festoon our door at Thanksgiving. the fiber is 4 oz of targhee top in Fruit Salad from Susan's Spinning Bunny.

next we have a wonderfully rich fingering weigt yarn named after one my favorite flowers. this is Sunny Orchid- an hand-painted yarn (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) from Zen Yarn Garden. the colorway truly mirrors the blooms on my Dendrobium. this is particularly nice since i had to leave her behind in Colorado.

Colorado prairie
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
my excitement flits about like a dragonfly but this yarn has remained my constant favorite: 100 gm Hand dyed Suri Blue (50% suri, 50% blue face) from the Fleece Artist. the colors remind me of Colorado in the springtime, when the prairie explode with verdant and varied green in response to the rains. i never got tired of studying that particular interplay of color. this yarn has the same depth and variation. i'll move in closer so you can better appreciate her...

Colorado prairie
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
lovely, isn't she? and so so soft. Travy caught me snuzzling my face in this yarn the other day and asked if he should come back later.

Originally uploaded by jacquichris
Nerds! Gorgeous 100% merino dyed the colors of one my favorite candies! this is definitely going to be socks for me me me! the yarn is so very happy- i know it will make those hard clinic days easier to weather.

Minnesota lakes
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
last of the yarns - but certainly there is no 'least' in the group - is this lovely fine boucle. here is 75 gm of hand spun wool boucle by Robin Pascal. the texture and colorway remind me of the shallows in Minnestoan lakes, where the trees cast purple shadows into the reedy green ripples.

Emergency morale supplies!
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
Emergency morale supplies! i know you were wondering if i had forgotten something, so well-laden was my table, but no! here we have a feast of candies and mints to add zip to my step. i suspect i will save some of these to console my residents when they falter.

but not the pixi stix. those are MINE!

Keychain buddies
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
and look - a keychain sock blocker! those of you who are very observant will realize i now have TWO of these guys.

this is excellent news because it means i can use them to make Christmas ornaments! i am too OCD to make only one. (i know, i know- i am a freak.) tiny Christmas stockings on tiny sock blockers - can't you just picture them?

Fabulous stitch markers
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
apparently Lara has cottoned on to my new forgetful style because she also tucked in some fabulous stitch markers in yummy chocolate brown with rich accent colors. i will be putting these guys to work today!

so thank you again, Lara! thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

i think i am off to cast something on right now!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

stupid body

today has been a great day, and yet i am all crankified.

i reject suture (stitches) in my skin. my skin heals but then reopens in pieces to spit out the 'hidden' stitches in all their disgusting glory. being responsible and generally a 'good' patient, i tell my new doctor so she can note it in my file. she, of course, stares in consternation at my file for a few moments and then asks the question i have been assiduously avoiding asking myself...

What will happen if you ever have to have internal stitches, say abdominal surgery?
Well... maybe they could use hemoclips.
this, of course, is not a particularly good answer or intelligent approach. so blammo, now i have to make time to see an allergist.

which was today.

this is all well and good, really, since i have miserable allergies anyway and could use a better regimen than excessive layering of antihistamines. the allergist, of course, had no real insight regarding the suture issue. she is thorough, however, and used a comprehensive diagnostic approach. unfortunately, the upshot of this was that she determined i have mild asthma.

now, i have suspected this for a couple of years given my perception of bronchospasm in certain hiking altitudes and my inability to breathe around bathroom cleaners.* that doesn't mean i was really ready to have someone else know it or - more importantly- diagnose it. this, of course, devolved into a ridiculous panic attack, made worse by albuterol-induced jitters, that i am going to die an horrible death like my grandmother.

i am better now, but getting over the hump required a semi-choate call to my mom and a generous slice of carrot cake.

*Sheepie style i did not share this information but they caught me out with routine spirometry. darn them.

Desert storm
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
on the very much upside, though, word has leaked to me that the big external grant proposal i slaved on in July is going to be funded for the most part. this is HUGE, amazing news. i also have started thinking about a third grant (number 2 was submitted ~10 days ago) that would be a fun collaborative effort.

so, enough babble. what's in the photos? (yes, i can hear you from over here.)

these are my recent (2nd and 3rd) spinning attempts. Desert storm is Australian Merino, 2 ply. i just love the mango yellow color and would spin just that for ages. the skeins don't 'match' because i did not know to split the whole darn roving, spin through onto one bobbin and then spin through the other split on the second. instead, the mango was unevenly distributed, making for lighter and darker skeins. still i am pretty happy with them.

this is a Romney and Corriedale blend. more importantly, it was my first attempt at Navajo plying. the four things I was trying to determine were:
1. Can I spin finely enough for 3-ply yet? (Apparently)
2. Can I employ more of a long draw technique? (A bit spotty at first but getting there)
3. Can I figure out chain plying? (Apparently)
4. Can I successfully execute chain plying? (well, this one needs work.)
the yarn is definitely overspun and overplyed. The former is partially a result of hopping into such a different fiber type directly from Merino and trying to switch to more of a long draw and less of a point of twist technique.

the latter is partially from battling the overtwist, partially from learning a new technique, and partially for being so stupid as to decide to do it all while in the throes of an high g's cold.

I am hopeful the second skein will turn out better. i have spun up the fiber but am waiting for my head to clear a little more before i re-attempt the plying.

in knitting news, i continue to clicka clacka away on the Sweet Peas, while Valpuri waits dejectedly in my project basket. perhaps i will work on Valpuri during tonight's football game...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

a big batch of wonderful from Denise

so i have a very firm policy regarding presents: i am not allowed to play with anything until appropriate thanks have been rendered. you can imagine my torment the past week as tendonitis, excessive busy-ness teaching, and general malaise- the frontal assault of my current crud- prevented me from documenting this wonderfulness from Denise (and thus prevented my playing with same treasures):

Loot from Denise
Originally uploaded by jacquichris

well, perhaps you can't yet- that photo is awfully far away from the fiber at hand... it was the only way to fit it all into one photo! let's move in for a closer look...

Dyed mohair with a silk cap
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
first up is a stunningly soft mohair with a silk cap. interestingly, the cap is dyed in the same colors as my favorite t-shirt of all time. it was a tie-dye that looked for all the world like light falling onto the forest floor deep in an autumnal hardwood stand. in this cap we see the purple capturing autumn's last valiant wildflowers, burnt umber of rotting logs and falling leaves, the soft green of mossy rises and underbrush. the dusty angora a perfect match for forest ground, spongy with decay and cushioning to the weary backpacker.

next is a baby alpaca. he has tangled up in the spider's gossamer web during his morning romp. the color reminds me of hot chocolate swirling up with steamed milk.

on to creamy angora blended with Dorset. two bumps of snuggly goodness, perfect for the growing chill as Indian summer deepens into autumn.

here are a coarser Corriedale top and finer Ramboiullet top combed to spin laceweight. the textural contrast tickles my fingers as the subtle variations in hue sooth my eyes.

Baby camel down
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
down from a wee* camel tumbles from the bag to snuzzle invitingly against my skin.

ever the mentor, Denise includes detailed instructions on handling the down so i do not set it aside in a fit of panic.

*wee is the camel in my mind's eye, tripping ungainly over her knobby ankles and playful disposition. the down itself makes quite a tumbling hill.

'Internet fleece'
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
Denise includes this fleece as a sample of 'horrid' supplies. she notes:
'There is so much of it that it's been the victim for my unskilled adventures in dyeing.'

to this i take exception. victim, my foot! the fleece provided is a gorgeous multi-dimensional burgundy copper. i suspect it will sit unspun quite a while on my desk as a respite for my eyes from the brutal never-ending flicker of the computer monitor! lucky recipient is more like it.

a succulent treat is this- a lovely bit of the Eugene fleece, hand-washed and combed by Denise before heading out for final processing. it truly is soft like butter with a lovely crimp and a gorgeous sheen.

6 bumps of Grey Romney
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
finally, we close the tour with six bumps of carded Romney, the color of sea clouds and the softness of fog. already, potential projects for the final yarn twirl in front of my eyes, tumbling one after another in and out of view.

so NOW you can taste my torment, the temptation to just pet this one a little, just this once. i held fast to my 'rule' and now the reward will be even sweeter!

tune in next time as we explore a very thoughtful package arriving from the great land of hockey...

[maybe i will also get around to posting my own craft progress.]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

good works and bad crud

today was a Feral Fixins day. what, i hear you query, is Feral Fixins?

well, it is an event sponsored by the vet school where feral cats are altered for free. the local feral cat people go on a trapping spree and arrive with simply buckets of feral cats in traps. they are knocked out and proceed through a comprehensive assembly line of examination, pain medications, ear tipping, surgery, vaccinations, flea control, deworming, and any other treatments deemed necessary to awaken safely back in their traps. the various stations are staffed by vet students and faculty, all volunteers.

being a glutton for community service work i am a shoe-in, even before consider my devotion to animal welfare and minimizing overpopulation. the up side is making a big difference in the lives of individual cats as well as the community. the downside is getting up well before the stars have fallen from the sky.

i had a great time, as always, but crashed hard when i got home. Travy and i both have some sort of crud that seems to apply differential high gee gravity to our persons, in addition to headache, congestion and coughing. so, although i have huge updates in the way of presents received - many many thanks to Denise and Lara - and projects at hand, there will be no real updates until i can successfully hold the camera focused on my loot.

trust me, the wait will be worth it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Block central

my goals for the weekend were to tie up loose ends and minimize wip's. here i am, rating my weekend:

ICU rockers
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
to start, i finished up the first batch of ICU binkies. they aren't the cutest, i know, but that is part of my cunning plan to keep them from walking off. they need to last as ICU buddies and that requires nuclear plastic yarn (for the repeated washings in medical grade detergent) as well as a certain lack of prettiness.

Block central
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
then i moved on to one of my least favorite craft tasks- blocking. ugh. i find it tedious instead of rhythmic, anal instead of artistic, back bending instead of unwinding.

but... the effort is always worth it.

here lie MS3 (Swan Lake) and the Wine and Roses Mitts, blocking their little fibers away on my (and by 'my' i mean 'Trav and my') most brilliant of discoveries. a new, highly underpriced blocking board as known as 'Dow R4 Sheathing Insulation'. It is sold for ~$12/piece for 4' x 8' x 3/4" at Lowes. i cut mine into thirds to fit in the car then used packing tape on one side to reassemble in a storage-friendly accordian-style. it is waterproof, takes pins easily and holds them well, and is thick enough to move after pinning. i am as close to in love as possible for a non-human, non-yarn item.

Swan Lake (MS3)
Originally uploaded by jacquichris
the results?





i leave you with a shot of the mitts frolicking among zinnias:

Wine and Roses Mitts
Originally uploaded by jacquichris