Friday, March 30

YPF: Ashland Bay Handspun

Well, alrighty then. Here's the Ashland Bay all revved up and ready to go. This picture came closest to the actual color:
Ashland Bay merino/tussah handspun

And now let us celebrate that special time of year that I call "The Bluebonnet Buttprint Parade."
(warning: multiple mentions of the word 'butt.')
Every spring, our state flower blooms in profusion along highways and county roads across Texas. This particular patch is in my neighbor's yard. Anyway, with the arrival of the bluebonnets comes scores of parents who dress their children up in matching outfits and pose them on the bluebonnets for their Taste 'o Texas Easter photo to give to Papa Grande, MeeMaw and Uncle Butter. The children fidget and cry while Dad tries to get the 18-wheelers out of the frame. He shakes a bit every time one of them roars by and has to refocus over and over again. Lil' Cassidy gets stung by a bee and Billy Bob, Jr. won't smile anymore because the sun is in his eyes. The whole deal turns sour and the family loads up and leaves....buttprints all over the bluebonnets.

I happened to see a couple of buttprint candidates when I went to the doctor's earlier this week. I was waiting to get a blood test when a mother walked in with her toddlerette. The mother was clad in tight jeans, sneakers, a camouflage sweatshirt with a matching camouflage purse.
"Bug Butt, don't kick that lady's purse!" was the first thing out of her mouth as the little offender took a whack at my brand spanking new orange leather Hermes Birkin bag copy that I just bought in Buenos Aires. I calmly kept working on my Granny Pentagon(3 dc, ch1, 3dc, ch1 and breathe and breathe) when the whole waiting room was invaded by the tinny music of the Chipmunks singing the "Macarena."
"You wanna dance, honey? You love this song!" prompted Mama Bug Butt as BB, Jr. looked for another target.
The door opened and a nurse with a peroxide afro called my name. As I got up, I noticed that the nurse was fanning herself doubletime and her eyes were really big. Alarmed, I held my breath, thinking that the previous patient had a bout of, well, bugged butt.
"Are you ok? I asked her.
"Oh, they just sneak up on me out of nowhere!"
"Um, what does?" So, maybe she had one breakfast taco too many. It happens.
"Those darn hot flashes and I can't do a thing about 'em!" The nurse replied as she eyed my arm for a vein. I closed my eyes and thought "3 dc, ch1, 3dc, ch1 and breathe and breathe."

I've cast on for Sahara. There may be an error in the pattern as it seems she has the order of the left and right fronts switched. In my experience, if you are on the RS and are knitting, you work across the left side first. (EDITED TO ADD: And this is worked from the top down.) I'll leave it to the angry hordes at Sexy Knitter's Club to jump on that one. So far, the numbers are good and the Tilli Tomas is knitting up quite nicely.

Wednesday, March 28

Heap Big Happy

This arrived in the mail on Saturday. A huge surprise RAK from ZKnitter, as a thank you for one of my destash boxes. She also sent me some soy silk and a couple of Burt's Bees goodies as a guarantee that I'll have happy hands. Now, to tell you how extraordinary this woman is for sending me this sumptious roving, she's not even a spinner! Thank you, Zonda, doesn't begin to convey how pleased I am.

The roving has been identified by the walking fiber encyclopedias in my SnB group as 4 ounces Ashland Bay merino/tussah silk, probably 'concord' colorway. I had that baby pre-drafted and ready to spin before the envelope hit the floor. I was determined to get as much yardage as I could because I knew this would make a beautiful shawl. And now I've got about 830 yds (100 gms/720 yds) of loosely plied fingering weight (approx. 19/20 wpi) yarn drying at the moment. Warning: the yarn did bleed a little bit when I wetted it earlier. CORRECTION: My CVS Dual Power Calculator informs that I have 830 feet or 276.6 yards of yarn. Doh.

KNITTING: I've done a few more rows of the Granny Pentagon, but I thought it would be loads more fun to put some real pressure on myself. Mr. Mary's book(I'll reveal all later) is coming out this month and he has a reading here in Austin next Wednesday. I've been sitting on some Tilli Tomas Disco Lights in Ruby Wine, 4 skeins in 2 different dye lots--go figure. Anyway, that gives me 900 yds to crank out a stunning shell to go with the bias cut devore velvet skirt I got on sale at J. Peterman online. Should I try Sahara? Tick, tick, tick...

or is it?

All pink, all the time. My groovy neighbor, Evonne, even sprung for some mexican oilcloth and bordello trim.
Hasta la vista, baby!

Friday, March 23

YPF: Natural and Neutral

The cream and brown are some handspun llama yarn that I bought in Esquel, Patagonia, Argentina. The Argentinians have a different accent than other South Americans. This was never more apparent than when I asked the woman at the shop about this yarn. She replied, "Shama."
"Shama? Que tipo de animal es eso?" I asked in my best TexMex gringo accent.
" un animal muy tipico de este region...como una cabra pero mas grande, con un cuello muy largo."
I had a long think about about this until I realized that she was saying 'llama,' which involves a whole other pronunciation in non-Argentine Spanish. Anyway, I bought 720 gms of it, which should be enough for....God only knows.
The grey is 'cabra' or goat. As to what kind and if it's blended, I have no idea. Only that I've got 190 grams and it's all very soft and squishy with a very slight greasy feel. The total bill for this Patagonian blowout came to $26.

A friend mentioned guanaco yarn, but I couldn't find it. To be honest, I'd rank guanaco as a collector's yarn in terms of price and availability, like qiviut and vicuna. Mysterious, compelling and expensive, but a fiber that demands a pre-nup before you cast-on.

Suburban shocker: I'm gone only a week and the neighborhood is up in arms about one thing or another. First, the priest at the Episcopal church down the street was two-timing two different women and proposed to each. This would have been his 3rd marriage(hey, they invented divorce!) and he got special permission until the church realized what Father Hanky-Panky was up to. Now, he's got a desk job with no pulpit in sight for 3 years. Can't wait to get an update from the Methodists across the street.

OK, so my nice neighbor sold his 50's one-story house. Good for him. The big news is that it is scheduled to be torn down NEXT WEEK. I am so pissed off because a) it's nesting season (I'm not a huge tree hugger, but we have several pairs of cardinals plus wrens and sparrows househunting right now) and b) I just know it's going to be some 2-story 'Tuscan' nightmare, despite what the new owner has said. There is a moratorium on McMansions in our zip code, but that won't prevent the new owner from building a 2-story house on a street dominated by lowslung 50's ranch style homes.

One oddball note is that another neighbor(the one with a 5-foot tall rooster on her roof) just cut down a dead tree in her front yard and left a sizeable stump. We were all admiring the stump (slow day) when I mentioned that I still had some vinyl and foam from my Bollywood beautification project. Ta-Dah! I have been commissioned to upholster said stump as soon as the weather clears. My evil scheme to spread hot pink vinyl across my zip code continues apace. Gee, maybe our new neighbors should get in on this.....

You haven't experienced real Texas rodeo entertainment until you see Whiplash and Bud perform their act at the Star of Texas Fair&Rodeo. PETA forces Whiplash to take a time-out every once in awhile, but that damn monkey keeps escaping from Weatherford.

Honey, I just need to calm my nerves with a little remedial therapy, er, knitting session and go find that pink vinyl in the garage.

Tuesday, March 20

I'm Baaaack

Colorado, eat your heart out.

Lake Futalaufquen

Here's where I've been for the past week. And here are some darlin' tabbies in a woodpile at a private fishing camp. I was THIS close to nabbing one and taking him home only to remember the dark side of Neko.
So, let's take a look at those clues....
I was thinking of The Motorcyle Diaries, written by Ernesto Che Guevara who was born in Argentina. This book was recently made into a movie. As for 'songs have lines about it' that was a bit more obscure. Bruce Chatwin wrote "The Songlines" as well as another book, "In Patagonia." I couldn't leave "Don't Cry For Me.....?" as a clue because that's a dead giveaway. Now, julieloves2knit(who's a beenie for preemie machine) guessed New Zealand and that was in the right hemisphere, so she gets a magnificent souvenir fridge magnet.(I'll track you down for details) I was just outside Esquel in Patagonia, Argentina and I rank it as one of the top 5 naturally beautiful places in the western hemisphere. And the flyfishing is amazing--rainbows, browns and 22-inches is not unusual, all catch-and-release--yay!
Now, let's take a look at what a grown woman in waders looks like: Sanitation Engineer or Ethel Mertz off duty from the canning factory. Take your pick.

We had a marvelous time as fly-fishing is our happy medium for Mr. Mary to be in the great outdoors and I can do something productive and challenging instead of slogging along on a hike, being told to shut up and admire at the view. Even the boys got gold stars on their behavior report cards from the grandparents( teeth brushing, not so good). Do I dare plan next year's trip....?

I grabbed projects at the last minute(taxi waiting) which means I didn't work on any of them but started a new one instead. My sister-in-law had crocheted a granny square baby blanket while she was pregnant and I remembered there being leftovers at my MIL's house. Soooo...we have the Granny Pentagon(what a cool mistake that was) baby blanket that I'm crocheting for an old friend in Argentina. Hope sprung eternal that this would be done in time to give her in Esquel, but it came back home with me. I bought some more Tahki cotton classic(roughly same colors) and will get this finished by the time she arrives in Montana with newborn and 2-yr old in tow. Such is the life of a fly-fishing guide's wife.

There was one last legacy from Archie RIP. Well, he truly ripped off George's eyes in a fit of Brittany birddog madness and I found a great way to use up your newbie handspun--STUFFING. Now, George has a distinctly rogueish air about him and Bandit's a happy boy.

Eat your heart out, Orlando Bloom!

Wednesday, March 7


I will be far away in a distant land until March 18. Guess where! Read on...
I would be remiss if I didn't thank Bonnie for the scrumptious goodies from Costa Rica. My smiley face box made its way BACK to the USA full of coffee, chocolate, seasonings and a cool calendar now buried under my kids' homework. I would have photographed this loot, ate and drank it all. Abrazos, chica!
Time for the annual 'dump the kids and bolt' vacation. My in-laws have only so many miles left in their tires and we're taking full advantage before they demand complete parental supervision for our future visits.
Here I am modeling Robincat's roving ala Vermeer with a faux elephant head and flowers.(don't freak out--I just washed my hair and pulled it back. Really, really.) She gave me a little batt to play with as seen above. It's amazing how tight and thin you spin some roving then it immediately puffs up after plying. I've got a long way to go on that front but...
I did make good progress on my flyfishing wardrobe at Cabela's in Buda. This place is like the Harrod's of hunting, fishing and general outdoor gear. They have a lock on the taxidermy market with a very helpful staff. AND the cutest, best mannered retired Texan gents I've seen anywhere in a long time. The trick is to go during the week--that's when they've wandered off to 'run a few errands' without the wife. My brother, Redneck, says I'm not the only female to figure this out and they have a real turnout for their annual fishing and game exhibition. Beats hanging out at The Landing Strip next to the airport...not that I'm looking or anything,

but I'd make a real friendly greeter. "Hey, hon, is that a Walther P38 or you just happy to be here?"
So while this Mama Cat is away I know Neko will be working hard to destroy my wheel. Don't worry about Chuy, he's with his personal trainer in Hutto, home of the Hippos. gear. Any ideas? If you guess correctly I will send you a souvenir fridge magnet or item of my choice that you'd never dream of giving to your nasty little nephew. Think of a book with 'motorcycle' in the title. Dead giveaway. Now, if you pinpoint a more exact location you'll get a knitty surprise. (don't worry, it won't be my handspun) Songs have lines about it!

Friday, March 2

YPF: Arts&Crafts

Come and get yer pr0n!
Koigu, #P602Koigu, #P602
Koigu, color P602.
I know, I know. This looks suspiciously like the Colinette Jitterbug that I got back in October. I'm a sucker for any pink/orange colorway. Here's the black leather cord knitted up with some black rayon cord from the stash:
Leather and Rayon cordI tried to crochet with the leather, but it was too dang stiff. I switched to size 8mm/11 needles and figured I'd get a whole lot more yardage out of my 4 spools if I knitted it. IF I were hip, cool and lived in NYC, I'd considered knitting a leather jacket out of the stuff. IF I had about $180 to blow on the leather cording that is. This is sold in small amounts mainly to jewelry makers. I even looked into 'pleather' and the prices aren't much better. AND 1mm or .5mm would be easier to work with than the 2mm that I've got. IF I see a knitted leather jacket on the runways next fall, this may look like a bargain after all.

Spring has arrived and out of nowhere there are buds and shoots--red bud treepink vinyl upholstered tree stumps
Pink vinyl+gold fringe+tree stumps=Bollywood in the Burbs.

I recently bought a copy of Craftivity and there was a picture of upholstered tree stumps in NYC that intrigued me. Thanks to eBay, I got the pink vinyl and gold finge for next to nothing and bought some foam at Hobby Lobby--so each stump came out to about $12. This a really fun, clever book that marries the creative with the practical. Would I make everything in there?--uh, no. But I would use this book as a starting point for inspiration and resources for my next fit of craftiness.

BUT the fun doesn't stop there, folks! The pink flamingoes were looking a little faded, lacked oomph and had zero 'irritate the neighborhood' factor. I resorted to one of my absolute favorite products of all time--spray paint. And now I'm the proud owner flamingopink flamingopink flamingo with zebra stripes

painted pink flamingoesPUNK FLAMINGOES!

I even celebrated my new ghettofab front yard with the obligatory diet coke/mentos experiment with the boys. AND it's March 2, Texas Independence Day, when everybody goes out for TexMex and margaritas to celebrate our independence from Mexico in 1836. Later, we put on our coonskin hats and watch John Wayne in The Alamo, looking for stray mentos under the seat cushions.
diet coke/mentos