The Bees need our help!!

I’m devoting my post today to the wonderful and talented Samantha Troia. Sam and her family are the geniuses behind Bumblebee Acres Farm – indie dyers and caretakers of a lovely flock. I’m a huge fan of their work, which is why I’m sharing this with all of you.

Help Sam

Hello All My Fiber Friends!

This is Sam Bee here, writing to you to ask you all for your help this Holiday Season.

As you may know, being self employed comes with many struggles. This year we have worked harder than ever, and as a result we have brought more joy to all of you, and many others, through yarn and fiber. We are grateful and blessed for the opportunity. From the bottom of our hearts, thank your for all of your love and support this year.

It is in the spirit of love that I write this email to you, asking you for just a little more help during the season of giving…

Some of you may know that I am a Type 1, or Insulin Dependant, Diabetic. Your can read some of my story here. I have struggled for nearly 15 years with the constant ups, downs, and side effects of diabetes. Finally, the medical community has released a medical advancement that will allow me to sleep through the night without fear of not ever waking up again, help regulate me to the point where I no longer worry that each high glucose reading brings me closer to losing my eyesight, limbs, or other organs.

The problem is that my insurance does not cover the cost of this new Insulin Pump and Continuos Glucose Monitoring System that will change my life, so I am asking all of you for just a little help. Purchasing my “Joyful & Cozy” Patterns  costs you only $5. I know this is a good handful of money, but it will give me a night of sleep, a target blood sugar reading, or even another day designing patterns or simply being alive. If you could part with $3, $10, or even more… you can donate here .

Thank you for your time, your support, and your continual love. I would not ask this of you if I did not truly, desperately need it.

All the love always,

~SamBee

Please help if you can…

The next exciting thing…

I had a visitor!!

Kari comes to WI

Kari came for a visit in July! You know, when you’re separated by distance you don’t realize how much you miss someone until something whops you upside the head. All the Facebook and email just can’t replace talking to someone, seeing their face and giving them a hug. I’m a firm believer in hugs, but the way. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before.

So, when Kari came for a visit to my little WI world I was determined to show her as much as I could in the few days we had. So, when I picked her up from the train station in Chicago, rather than going to the freeway I decided to travel all the way up Lake Drive. We saw some really interesting things. Like this temple (?)

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I turned a corner and it was just there. Totally unexpected in a northern Chicago suburb, but beautiful!

Also on the way I had to take her past the SC Johnson Co in Racine. Yes, the Frank Lloyd Wright building. We didn’t go inside (I actually have never been inside. Someday…), but we did check out the theater…

And also the lakefront…

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One day spent driving and hanging out in Door County – even took the ferry to Washington Island. I was hoping to stop at the shop at Siever’s School (fiber arts – weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting… lots of classes!) but they were closed when we got there. It was pretty dark and rainy, too. On the way back to the dock Kari went for a short hike to a small beach and brought me back some pretties! And the views were awesome.

And the clouds broke on the way home gifting us with a rainbow…

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Unfortunately I only got one decent shot at Devil’s Lake State Park. Kari went on a climb along the bluffs that surround the lake.

 

All too soon it was time for her to leave. On the way back to Chicago and the train station we made one final stop at Illinois state Beach. What a desolate place that it! Probably nicer when the weather is better, but when we were there it seemed mighty deserted. I wouldn’t want to go there alone…

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I hope she comes back for another visit! I was so wonderful having her!

Okay – no excuses….

I’m just going to share all the stuff that’s happened since my last post in bits and pieces. There’s really no other way to do it 😛

Let’s just start with the first thing that consumed the entire spring for me: SEATTLE! Gosh but I love it there – enough to put up with the rain and move. But I know it would not be either practical or affordable. I’ve been talking to Becky about it for a while now, because I think she’d be a natural in either Portland or Seattle. Lots of activity, the freshest seafood EVER and lots of places to hike and run. For me – lots of yarn shops, natch! So we decided to plan a trip out there together. She’d drive out from Missoula and I flew in from MKE. Since this was a long flight (nearly 5 hours) and I could afford it I decided to go First Class. Big difference! Holy schmoley! They still serve a meal, on plates with cloth napkins and free drinks. I haven’t been treated like that since the old days, when flying was special and you actually got dressed up (like Sunday best dressed up) to do it. Of course, there really wasn’t a ‘First Class’ section back then – not for a few years anyway. You always got a meal and you always got at least 1 drink. 


That was taken out the window…

It was an awesome week! Sushi on a conveyer belt, pizza that was way too spicy, shellfish that you beat into submission with a mallet, more sushi and even a trip to Red Robin (another company that I did not know had it’s origins there).

 All that fantastic food! 
Yeah, we did the touristy stuff – top of the Space Needle, Dale Chihuly Glass Museum and Garden, Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island (there was an actual purpose for that…), Pike Place Market..

Plus, Becky got to do a run and visit Runner’s World and REI. I got to about 6 yarn shops and we went to Mt. Rainier National Park. And the ferry ride to the Island took me here: 

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

Really cool Island burger joint

Now the trip to Mt. Rainier was great! You can see that mountain from most of Seattle – it’s just there, y’know? You’ll be driving on the freeway and round a bend and WHAM – there he is! And he was visible most of the time, rather than wreathed in clouds, so we decided to go out. Of course is was foggy when we started. We were driving along and you couldn’t see much further than 50 feet from the car in any direction. Becky was ready to turn back, but I kind of said ‘hang on – let’s see if it clears’ (because the same thing happened the day we went to Glacier). Sure enough, about half-way up to the visitor center the skies went bright blue and the views were spectacular. Now, this trip was the end of May/begninning of June and there was still a 12 ft snowpack on the slope next to the visitor center. Now I understand those old photos of Sun Valley and people skiing in shorts! 

 
That was fun and beautiful!

View from the top of the Space Needle

Houseboats on Lake Washington

Dick’s ‘Life Changing’ burgers

Biscuit Bitch – it’s a thing

View from the ferry

YARN!

MORE YARN!

The Fremont Troll

Beer – it matters


I only wish I had been feeling better – we could have done so much more! But I was suffering from (I later found out) severe bronchitis – nearly hacked up a lung! 

But, even with that – gosh it was fun!

spitballin…

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I like having choices, but sometimes they don’t come out quite how you expect them to…

Like these yarns. I got a request from Becky for more socks, but she was very specific – had to be the same pattern as the first ones I made (VBM Clue Socks), in the same yarn (tosh sock – she has good taste) and in a cream color (she specified filtered light – cream with a dark fleck). I initially offered her a choice of the three skeins above – the only ones I currently have in my stash that have any sort of cream in them and none of them are tosh sock. The only tosh fingering I have right now is green – like her first pair. I especially like the one on the left – Zombie BBQ… LOL! But no, not quite enough cream in them. So I get to go to the yarn shop – big hardship, I know 😀

I’m actually so very pleased that someone out there likes my knits enough to actually ask for some! I mean, I’m never sure if, when I knit a gift it’s something that the person actually likes and will use. The only other request I have on my table right now is a pair of mittens for my sister-in-law. But I need to get to the shop and get some batt for the thrums. I made her a pair of nice thrummed mittens which she loved, but she lost them. No problem making another pair, I just don’t get to the shop that carries the batt that often.

So that’s 2 yarn shops to go to Saturday! Choices… it’s all about the choices!

 

Changing your mind… and then changing it again.

Some of you might know that I volunteered to do another test knit sweater. Yeah – I know! I just finished The Reach – and the designer was so pleased she featured my photo on her pattern page! (YAY). I actually love that one so much I just swatched for another one…

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But – yeah – another test. This one with a tight deadline, too. Sometimes I think that this is the only way I make sweaters. The current one is my fourth and my first for Tanis Lavallee – whose designs I’ve liked for quite some time now. In general I like designers who care enough to include LOTS of sizes in their patterns – especially plus sizes. Tanis’ patterns usually go from kids sizes all the way up to me – 3x. (I used to be a 4x, but I think the recent weight loss has shrunken me just a tad)

I like the pattern – challenging to begin – definitely a different construction technique than I’m used to, even for a top-down. I’ve never done a top-down cap sleeve before – only raglans. Then, once you’re over the hump and have separated the sleeves and joined the fronts and back it’s acres and acres of garter stitch. Nice and squishy, this one is!

But, I was not especially happy with my yarn choice. Its always a challenge knitting in my size because I need so much yardage. I know… I know – I’ve bemoaned this state before. 2200 yards of worsted weight yarn… <sigh> easily $250 for Tanis’ yarns. So, to the clearance rack I go and find what I think is a really nice silvery-gray Rowan Hemp Tweed. Good yardage, reasonable price – less than half what it would have cost for designer yarn. But, as I now work with it I keep finding loads of… mmmmm… vegetal matter. Strands of stalks and bits of stuff twisted into the yarn, so that every few stitches I’m pulling crap out. I’ve not gotten through a row yet without this stuff. It’s too bad, too because, without all of that the yarn is nice and soft.

I was just about to pick up for the sleeve caps when I changed my mind and decided to turn back. Frog and look for different yarn. This yarn was hard on my hands… It had all this stuff in it… I had even had a sweater quantity of another yarn of the same weight that should work… I didn’t mind that the Rowan was a bit rustic looking. I like that. Not slubbed or narrow-thick – not that way, but without the polished smoothness that most commercial yarns have. Go to any store and pick up a skein of Caron, or any LYS and pet a skein of madelinetosh, then this Rowan and you’d see what I mean. But… the junk!

So I slept on it. It was late – well early would be a better word – it was about 2am and I was too tired to make a decision.

Next day I picked it up again and tried a few more rows, tracking my increases, checking my tension – all that – and before I knew it I was done with the sleeve cap! Whaaaaaat? How the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did that happen? I sat down to do a few rows and the project changed my mind for me. So, now it’s really too late to go back (for me it is – unless the problem is severe or I really (like REALLY) don’t like it I don’t frog). And, once I joined the body pieces it began to fly.

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10 inches of squishy garter and the ribbed border… After that it’s just sleeves, collar and blocking. Falling off a log….

I’m so glad I’m so good at changing my mind….

It’s been an interesting day

So there was this:

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I know – it ain’t a lot under – but it’s under and that’s the point.

Five years ago I quit smoking. I started smoking when I was… oh around 10. Yes, that’s right – 10. My dad worked at a tobacco distributor and it was all around us. Back in the day cigarettes were 23 cents a pack. But the machines would only take quarters. So it was kind of a family side business to put the two cents under the cellophane using a special machine (in those days I actually had two cents worth and never offered change). There were automatic ones that worked on a trigger that I was not allowed to use and smaller hand-driven ones that I was. You’d slip the machine’s blade under the cello, shoot the lever and two pennies would be slid under the wrap. Then you’d place a small piece of tape over the slit and go on. It was my first experience with assembly line process – and we made a family affair out of it. The boys would bring the boxes down to the basement, I’d open cartons and fill the machines with pennys, put the tape over the slits, Mom would operate the machines and Dad would run inventory.

Both my parents smoked, so I started by snitching cigarettes from them. In those days the store owners didn’t ask for ID. All you had to tell them was that you mom or dad sent you over to buy them a pack and that would be it. They were so easy to get that I started buying my own when I was about 12.

For some reason, after nearly 50 years I just decided one day to quit. My cat was wheezing. My niece remarked one time that her of smelled of smoke after I’d been sitting for him. I was wheezing… It was time.

So I just…. stopped. I finished my last pack and threw it away and that was it.

And I went a little nuts.

I couldn’t figure out what to do. I had a comforting routine. Cigarette in the morning with my coffee. Refill coffee at break time, light one up. One after lunch and with afternoon coffee. One after dinner, then again before bed. And, if I was wakeful a smoke would calm me and I could sleep.

Now all of that was gone. What to do???

Well, you turn to an even older and dearer friend – food. When I lived in Upstate NY I’d lost nearly 90 pounds and was weighing in at around 260. When I quit smoking I went back up to about 330.

So, to curb the eating I started knitting – I guess I’m an obsessive personality… But I couldn’t shift the weight. I dithered around with my diet – going to fast food drive-throughs and ordering pizza or Golden Chicken. And I fell on the ice – twice. For five years I’ve putzed and puttered, knowing what I should be doing… but not doing it. I was justifying the bad eating with ‘oh, it was a really bad day…’ or ‘I didn’t have breakfast, so I can have this…’ What a crock of BS, if I do say so myself!

Then, just like smoking it became time. Time to stop jerking around. Time to start testing my blood glucose levels again. Time to make a Dr. appt and have my A1C and all my levels checked. Time to do a 30-Day Challenge with someone who not only makes it fun but is a great example of turning your life on it’s head. Someone who inspires me every day. Time to dig myself out of the hole.

Time to live again.

 

Okay – I’m just going to get this out of my system…

CAPER SOCK! CAPER SOCK! ERMAHGERD!!

Whew! That was intense. But seriously, this is seriously soft, squishy yarn. I’ve kind of steered away from cashmere for socks because I never felt that it was durable enough. This stuff might prove me wrong. (I hope so because I’ve told my feet about it and they are going to mutiny if they don’t get some).

My only previous experience with cashmere was with Handmaiden Casbah. Lovely yarn. I had gotten a skein as a bonus add-on during a sale at an online store. The colorway was called Glacier – lovely aqua blues that went to grays. I made a cowl and matching mitts (I love fingerless mitts – that’s where most of my ‘extra’ yarn goes when I’ve finished a project). It’s so soft and luscious! But very limp. Perfect for a cowl as I don’t like thick stuff around my neck, but would never stand up to socks:

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I love this little cowl so much! I’m going to have to make this pattern again – maybe out of some of that lovely Raven Ridge… But I digress…

The Caper is the same blend – Merino/Cashmere/Nylon, but it just feels a little beefier to me. Maybe I’m wrong- my hands are notorious for lacking feeling (all those surgeries – but that’s for another time), but it just feels a bit more substantial. Could be the twist.

The reviews for it seem very mixed – while everyone loved working with it (save for a few folks who had problem skeins) there were some whose socks wore well and some that did not. And the newest review is almost a year old. But, one thing I’ve learned about online reviews – there are generally more negative reviews than positive ones. For some reason people think of it as a forum to log complaints – but rarely for compliments.

So I’m torn. Socks, yea? or Socks, Nay?

I’ll keep you posted (after I finish the current crop of 7 sock WIP’s)…

 

 

I used to think I was a little nuts…

Now I know that I’m certifiable. Off the deep end. One-flew-over-the-cookoo’s-nest gone.

Why would you say that about yourself, Jude? You may ask.

I don’t know if you remember this sweater:

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Not a great photo, but you get the idea. This is destined to be my next favorite sweater. I rarely knit pullovers – I like the option of stripping a layer or twelve when I get one of them ‘power surges’, but this one is not so heavy. It’s knit in a lovely DK weight Berrocco Vintage that is very soft and has great color (I’m still waiting for light to take a decent shot – every weekend has been gray and cold).

This was a test knit for one of my favorite designers. I love that her sweaters have nice shapes and textures – not just a couple hundred acres of stockinette. I love her details – like the pockets (which I may have to line because they do look a little droopy). I also like that, in the right colors her garments would feel just as at home in a bowling alley (although I doubt that Lori bowls :D) or as business casual. I actually plan to wear this with a button-down shirt to a meeting next month.

So why does all this make me crazy?

Because – on the very throes of finishing this test knit sweater I’m doing another!!

HOLY CRAP, BATMAN! You really ARE nuts!

The new one is by Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts. I’ve always liked her designs and I just couldn’t resist when she put out a call on Instagram for test knitters. You see – this is what I get for following so many knitwear designers on social media! Designers and yarn companies – indie dyers, too. Remember a couple days ago I was bemoaning my tendency to buy random skeins of sock yarn? Well, I also have a sad habit of buying sweater quantities of clearance and sale yarn. I swear that, if my LYS knows I’m coming they pack the clearance shelves with all my kryptonite!

So, when I saw the call, I quickly checked my stash to find 2 sweater lots of Cascade 220 just waiting for a sweater. Now all I need to do it chose pink or blue (yes – I actually said that). The pink is a really pretty marl called Cameo – I don’t think they make that line anymore (it was called Quattro) and the blue is a beautiful hue with a hint of lavender called Delphinium.

Nice problem but geeze! I need to knit faster!

 

Oh, and there there was that thing about Sock Club…

fullsizeoutput_72dThere are 27 skeins of sock yarn in this holder…. For socks. Only socks. And that ain’t even all of ’em….

I get a little out of control when I’m confronted by pretty yarns (or sales). I figure – well, it’s just a skein of sock yarn and I always need socks.

I started wearing only handknit socks about four years ago. They were the first thing I learned to knit properly and I had a goal of getting rid of all ‘production’ socks. I did that – and as a result I have healthier feet!

Plus, when I go into a yarn shop, especially a new one, I feel a little guilty if I don’t buy something. I mean – I want to support the local business and, since most Yarn shops are also women-owned enterprises I also support women in business. Win-win.

But, at ~$25 a pop I can’t buy enough of one yarn to make a sweater for me. I’m not exactly a toddler two! I’d love to be able to be one of those people who only needs 900 or so yards of fingering yarn to make a sweater. At an average of 425 yds per skein that’s about 2 skeins. Expensive, but well worth it. I need more than double that – so it quickly goes out of the realm of possibility.

But socks are another story! I probably have the most pampered feet in town. I wear cashmere. I wear silk blends. I wear pure, soft merino wool. But, my feet are mostly slogging around the house all day in moccasins. I work form home, so I wear slippers or soft shoes most of the day. So I indulge myself when it comes to sock yarns.

And it has turned me into an addict! ‘Hello, my name is Jude and I’m addicted to Sock yarn…’

I’ve been told that there’s no cure.

 

 

Baby its cold outside… but I’ve got knits!

Not even as cold as some places around the country – and we aren’t having the snow, but with the wind chill still below zero!

The problem this poses for me is that I need to take ‘glamour’ shots of my new sweater for the designer and its way too cold to pose outside. And I don’t have a nice indoor spot – unless I go to a public place like a library or something. If I still worked in an office I’d go there, but I don’t really know any place I’d like to go to this time of year. The sweater is really nice (quickly becoming my favorite) and deserves a nice setting. Plus the designer asked for ‘professional’ photos…

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And not only do I like to keep warm, I like for others to stay warm also. That’s why I no longer own this little hat:

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My stylist, Patrick mentioned last time I was in that his head was cold. So he was gifted a hat… 🙂 Not like I don’t have enough yarn to make another (and one is already on the needles!)

But I don’t give them all away. This pair of gloves (my first attempt at gloves) are all mine! The gray is a special yarn that’s spun with silver – so you can operate a touch-screen with them on. I’ve tried with the fingers that I have complete and it does work!

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And finally a scarf that I’m making. I had this lovely yarn, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. I’m not a fan of singles – they just seem really delicate to me – I’m a twist sort of girl. But I so fell in love with the colors that I had to have it. So, it’s going to be a scarf. It’ll keep me (or Becky) warm without getting a lot of torque.

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The colors look almost metallic…

But today its all about snuggling with the kitty. We slept in this morning because he was feeling especially cuddly and just borrowed in, paws wrapped around me. I just couldn’t get up…

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Sometimes the important things are not the biggest….