Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And June comes to an end...

It's the last day of June, yet it feels like a late September day. It's a whopping 65 degrees here today, which I'm not complaining about at all. It was just 90 degrees the other day, so I'll take a day like this to balance that out. Any day in the summer when I can have the air conditioners off is a good day. :)

I'm happy to report that my groove has returned. Or, at least, a groove. I've managed some decent productivity lately, and that is a good thing!

On the gardening front, we have garlic just about ready to be dug...this was a test bunch Kevin dug last night...

In all honestly, this garlic has nothing to do with my productivity, other than me saying to Kevin the other evening, "Isn't it about time to dig the garlic?" ;) As for the rest of the big garden, aside from the broccoli that the #@!$ ground hogs ate off, everything seems to be doing well! I got some peas, which is better than some years, and the tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cukes and zucchini all have baby fruits on them. My salad garden is still producing some lettuce and onions, and the herbs are doing fine. Praying no Acts of God come and destroy things this year!

Where my efforts did go earlier this week were to this area of our yard...

This spot is at the back of our house, next to our porch. Of all the areas of our property, this has probably been the most neglected for the 17 years we've lived here. What this "before" picture does not show is all of the crap that had accumulated here over those years! Saturday night, I had the kids help me clear it out...lots of old lumber that had leaned up against the house, an old pool wall from when the kids were little was rolled up and sitting there, and lots of other weird, yucky detritus left over from various other projects. If it didn't have a home, it often got tossed there.

I make an effort to have the back porch be my "happy place" during the warm months. I like to sit here and have breakfast or coffee or journal or knit (or write in my blog, as I am now!). I decided, however, that the happy place would make me far happier if I was not looking at a garbage dump right next to me. So, getting the crap cleared away was a good first step. But on Sunday, Emma and I set to work taking it a bit further. We spent over four hours digging up close to 100 bricks that were embedded in that patch of ground (I think the previous owners used this spot to sit their garbage cans maybe?), and then we dug up all of that ratty ground cover & transplanted it to our front embankment, which is very rocky and the rain causes regular landslides to occur (hoping the ground cover takes root and helps stem that trend). Then we hit Lowe's for mulch and flowers, and behold...a truly happy, happy place!

It isn't perfect, but it's WAY better than it was! And it's pretty to look at now, too! The bonus was spending the day working with my 13-year-old daughter on this. She even told me she had fun helping me. Total bonus! :)

On the fiber front, I don't have any new knits to share right now, but I should have a new shawl finished up pretty soon, so stay tuned. I did, however, finish plying the never-ending fiber two nights ago!

Sorry for the crappy nighttime cell phone picture, but it's all I have at the moment. This is 654 yards of 3-ply fingering weight that I spun from 4 oz. of Tempted merino-silk in the Positivity colorway. It is destined to become a Citron shawl, which I will cast on as a reward for finishing a test knit project that I need to work on.

I am going to be taking part in Tour de Fleece again this year, though my chosen project is anything but exciting. Can't remember if I mentioned it here before or not, but when I showed my finished Caricia to my mother-in-law, her response was, "I want that!" Only she wants one in all white. I'm not sure she even cares if it is the same pattern. But she wants a lacy shawl, in all white. ALL WHITE. I cannot emphasize that enough. ALL WHITE.

There are two solid colors that I hate knitting: black and white. Black, because it is very hard to see the stitch definition, and white is boringboringboring! Any solid runs the risk of boring me after a while, frankly, but white is just so...white. There is no color at all to keep things interesting! The fact that I'll be doing a lace pattern with it is all that will keep me from wanting to jab the knitting needles straight into my eyeballs, I promise you. But I digress (kind of). This tells you how much I like my mother-in-law that I am not only willing to knit a white shawl for her, but I'm going to spin the #@!$ fiber for it, too. I have a hard time finding pure white yarn that I like to work with, and for this kind of project, I have to like the yarn. It is imperative! The white fiber I'll be working with is the same BamHuey fiber I used for the Caricia yarn, only in its undyed form. (Thanks to Cheryl for being willing to sell it to me that way!) Six ounces of it. Yep. Check in with me at the end of TdF to see if I'm still sane. ;) (Though my sanity might be in question for even taking on this project!)

Should I survive the spinning of the white, I think I may move on to a stash of various natural colors of Icelandic wool I picked up at a fiber festival last year. I want to create a color-graded yarn that I will then knit into a (wait for it)...shawl. I know, who'da thunk it. Me, knit a shawl. LOL I don't yet know what pattern I'll use for this as-of-yet unspun fiber, but I can envision the general project in my head, looking soooo pretty going from the lightest shade at the top down to the darkest shade at the bottom. It's visions like this that make me giddy. I'm such a dork. ;)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Late night random, and some knits...

...I have lost my groove, and I can't seem to find it. I should change my name to either Little Bo Peep or Stella.

...June is over half gone. This should not be. It is wrong. WRONG.

...Navajo plying results in beautiful yarn, preserving wonderful, long stretches of color, which is why I like it. It also takes FOREVER, which is why I currently want to beat myself over the head with my wheel. This spinning project just does NOT want to end, and it was only 4 oz. of fiber, for Pete's sake!

...Ever since vacation, I've been eating like crap. I've fallen back into a bad habit of late-night snacking. This week, however, I decided that would STOP. So, after the gym tonight, I completely abstained from the butter pecan ice cream, chips and dip. Instead I had a bowl of yogurt with blueberries. And a beer. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

...I am driving myself absolutely CRAZY over one particular issue in life right now. It's not even something I can adequately put into words to be able to talk it out or process it through journaling. I just have to work it out in my mind. I'm hoping I still have a mind left by the time I'm through.

...We went to my cousin's daughter's graduation party yesterday. I remember when that girl was born. Seems like yesterday. Hell, I remember my cousin's graduation party, where all the teenagers were drinking the whiskey slush. That seems like yesterday, too. There was no teen drinking evident at yesterday's festivities. Times have indeed changed.

...My female cousins are all starting to look like their mothers. Their mothers are all starting to look like THEIR mothers. I was told I look just like my mother, who looks just like her mother. I'm not sure what to think about that.

...I bought a mountain bike a couple of weeks ago. My goal is to ride on several of the rail trails around here this summer, as well as to challenge myself on some shorter, more hilly rides. My hope is that adding this activity to my usual gym routine might help bump my metabolism into gear and get the weight loss going again. :::crossing fingers:::

...Continuing to omit butter pecan ice cream, chips and dip from my diet might also help with that.

...There are only 128 calories in a 12 oz. Yuengling, and it has 1.4 g of protein. That's practically a health food. So hush.

...I know, I know...I'm only kidding myself...WHATever...

Ok...enough rambling. You deserve the knit pictures now. (Links go to my Ravelry project pages.)

First up, a record! I have finished a Christmas gift already and it isn't even the last week of November! Cha!

Basic Cabled Mittens, pattern by Amy O'Dell. Knit in Ella Rae Amity for my mother-in-law.

And I test knit another cute baby sweater for Cosy...

Baby Beau, pattern by Cosette Cornelius-Bates. Knit in Ella Rae Classic.

Lastly, I finally knit a Shetland Triangle Shawl. I used the Wollmeise we got in our goodie bags at Spring Fling...special Fling colorway, Femme Fatale.

Shetland Triangle Lace Shawl, pattern by Evelyn Clark.

There you have it. A blog post in bullet points. Or ellipsis points. Whatever. It's late. I'm tired. Going to bed now. Carry on! ;)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So, so far behind...

I don't think I'll ever catch up. 

That's my general feeling in life right now. I just can't seem to get caught up on anything! 

Let's see...we finished our school year back at the end of May, before we left for Florida. But since I went immediately from school mode to packing mode, I never got to finish up our end-of-year paperwork. Thus, I have a pile of school stuff sitting on my dining room table waiting to be organized, documented and stashed for posterity. If nothing else, it would be nice for the kids to know what their final grades were at some point. (LOL Can you tell we're homeschoolers?)

Spending ten days in Florida was a nice start to our summer in some ways, but in other ways it totally messed with my usual transition from school to summer. I usually take a week or so to just relax, not worry about getting things done, etc. That didn't get to happen. At least not at home. And frankly? Vacation was nice, but it was not what I'd call relaxing. I got home needing a vacation from my vacation. 

And, as it happened, I got one! Got home from FL on a Thursday (our travel -- both there and back -- was also not was kind of stressful, thankyouverymuchContinentalAirlines, the final straw being our luggage taking its own little getaway on the way home...argh) and had one day during which to do laundry so that I could turn around and leave bright and early Saturday morning for a fight trip with the gym crew. I love fight weekends. They're just plain fun. This was my friend Steve's first fight, he did great -- TKO in the 2nd round -- which made it even more fun. 

So, it wasn't until I got home from the fight trip that summer mode finally got to kick in for me last week! And I'm tellin' ya, I've felt discombobulated ever since. Really hoping to get in my summer groove soon, before the whole thing goes by and I have nothing to show for it.

I have big plans for this summer. There are several house painting projects in my queue. There is a room switch to work out. I want to teach myself to dye fiber, if only to use up the insane amount of fiber I bought for this purpose thinking it was a good idea. I bought a mountain bike last week, and I really want to take the kids on some rail trail rides. And I WILL get our next school year well organized before the week before we start. I WILL. Just so not an option this year!!

That said...I've got knitting to share with you at some point, and pictures from vacation once I get them processed. But for now I'm counting it an accomplishment that I actually got a blog post written. Some days, you take what you can get! ;)