Monday, April 23, 2007

Where's the ark?

Well, we made it through the deluge! We were definitely lucky. We've since spoken to a bunch of neighbors, and many of them were not so lucky... :-(

We had almost no water in the basement. The only water was one or two "streamlets" that were seeping in through the french drain in the furnace room, which is the lowest point in the house. But they just ran straight to the sump pump that's right there. And it's just cement, so the water doesn't really damage anything. But at one point, that thing was going off every 45 seconds (yes, we timed it!). Of course, 99% of the water going into it was draining in from the side, below floor level, not those streamlets. And, this is the pump that is set to go off when only about 2 pints of water has accumulated in the hole, despite the fact that it can accomodate several gallons. Why it is set that way, I have no idea, but I really don't want to mess with it since it works!

Our only real stressful event? Well, we actually have 2 sump pumps. The other was probably put in when the house was built, and wasn't placed at the lowest point in the basement. So at some point, a previous owner redesigned the setup, and we gained the other sump pump. So the original one almost never goes off. I think it's gone off maybe once or twice in the whole time we've lived here. But it is this huge 50 gallon pit. Well, at one point when I went down to work on the laundry. I noticed it was going... and going... and going. That's not normal. That pump can usually empty out about 30 gallons in a minute or so. Why do I know this? Because it freaked the crap out of me the one time I acutally saw it go off a couple years ago! I was wondering where all the water was coming from. So, anyways, back to the present. I called my husband to come take a look. At first we thought it was dying (this thing is pretty old), but figured we'd try and empty out the pit to see if he could check for any blockages at the bottom. Sure enough, after about 45 minutes of scooping and dumping with pots, we finally got close enough to the bottom for him to reach the bottom of the input pipe. Turns out, a plastic ziploc must have fallen in at some point(which is bizarre considering where this thing is!), was sucked up, and was now partially blocking the pipe coming off the pump into the pit. He pulled it out and low and behold, the pump is working just peachy again :-D.

So how bad was it for us? At the peak of the flooding, about 3/4 of our backyard (and many of our neighbors backyards) were all under water. But we were the lucky ones. Many of our neighbors ended up with flooded basements, so I can deal with a backyard full of water MUCH better than a basement full of water. Of course, it was dark out, so we couldn't take a picture, but here it is the next morning:

So when is the ark showing up?

And remember, this is the improving version! When we looked at night, it was about 2 feet closer to the house, about up to where the grass gets thin in this picture (the thinning grass isn't not from the storm. It's just some leftover damage to the grass from our deck construction last fall, which should start filling in now that spring is almost here).

Ah, well. Everything is fine and we are safe. That's all that's important now. So back to our regularly scheduled fiber blog...

Of course, while all this was going on, I needed to do something to get my mind off of things and relax me, so I worked on this:

2 oz of Pomegranite Merino Bamboo

It's 2 oz of the merino-bamboo from the Zen String Fiber club spun up into a laceweight yarn(yes, you heard right -- my first real laceweight yarn! And it actually looks pretty good if I do say so myself.) Specifically, it is about 28 wpi right now, and 400 yards. It still needs to be washed, so that will probably change a bit, but it'll still be within laceweight range. Here's a closeup view, just because I'm so happy with how it's turning out:

Closeup of Pomegranite Merino Bamboo

Next, I decided that I needed to do a bit of a change of pace. I've been doing too much thin stuff lately, and I needed to do something thicker so I don't get in a rut... So I decided to work a little more on my long draw with some undyed targhee I have. Well, it didn't completely work out as a traditional long draw. It's probably closer to what I've heard described as "supported long draw" but I'm getting a bit better. The end result was this:


A little less consistent than my usual, but that's actually a nice change of pace. I have offered it to someone on a Yahoo group I belong to who was in need of some undyed targhee. We'll see if she decides to take it. If not, I think I'll continue the experimenting in the dyepot and see what comes out! :-D

And, of course, I decided to go back and finish poor Iris. I finished making the singles, and started to try and do the navajo ply. And, well, lets just say it's not going so well! It keeps breaking, what yarn I am making is overtwisted, and I'm frustrated! So I've decided to put it aside for a few weeks, then I'll try again. Why a couple of weeks? Well, that brings me to my other big event of the past week and a half... I entered a lottery to try and get into "Spinning a Fine Thread" with Judith MacKenzie McCuin at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Amazingly, I actually got in! It's only a 3 hour session with 15 people, but I'm sure I'll learn alot! I can't wait!! So, of course, I'm hoping we'll maybe cover navaho ply, or if not, maybe I can still take a few minutes to see if she has any suggestions of what I'm doing wrong. I don't know if I just didn't put enough twist on the singles, or if I'm actually pulling too hard when I'm pulling it through the loop? I think I'll pull out some of my plain BFL to practice on and get it right before I try it on the Iris again. I'd like to have something useable come out of it! It's just so pretty... This will teach me for trying to do my first full foray into navajo plying (outside of some minor playing) with something so thin! And, no, I'm not posting a picture of the results so far... it's just not pretty.

And my final excitement of the week? Well, a few months I signed up for a co-op. Then a few weeks ago, I joined another. And of course, they both came in this week -- the Zen String on Saturday, and the Purewool on Monday. Now, no offense to the Purewool, but the Zen String was definitely the more exciting of the two! Look at this beautiful wool. I'm still drooling over it! :-D And it smells so heavenly:


BTW, don't mind the blur in the corner (you probably also saw it in the previous photo). I didn't notice until after I took the picture that Cassie must have gotten to the camera and put a few greasy smudges on the lens. I've since cleaned it off, but these are definitely yarns that look best in natural lighting, which is a little scarce at the moment.

So, my only problem? I don't know where to start! Another shawl (Ochoco)? The sweater for Cassie (amaretto cheesecake)? More socks (the rest of the Lotus Toes)? Or maybe the quick satisfaction of a couple of soakers for Cassie (the two Nirvanas)? They are all so lovely, I want to start working on all of them right now. But I have to pick one (well, or maybe two...) for when I finish with Icarus. Of course, that isn't exactly a complaint. I should have such problems all the time!

And of course, the Purewool is wonderful as well. It just had the unfortunate circumstance to come in at the same time as the Zen String. But not to be forgotten, here it is (I only grabbed one skein of each -- some have multiples):


The brown worsted in the middle is for my husbands long neglected slippers that I keep promising him (hey, at this point, I have until the fall, don't I?!!? :-D) and the one to it's right will probably be mine (just in case, I got the undyed at the end as a backup if I didn't like that one as slippers). Also, I decided to try their laceweight. I wasn't quite sure how the singles would work out. But it really looks nice! I can't wait to try it.

All I know is getting these two boxes made me realize I have WAY too much yarn at the moment! (I know -- is that really possible?!?!). So this is it for a LONG time for me. I might get a little something at MSWF, just because there is so much to see there. But at the moment, I have such a backlog of stuff I want to make, I need to get through some of them before I get more! Of course, I do still have 2 more months of Zen String club coming to me that will help keep me from going through too much fiber withdrawl ;-)

So where do the rest of my projects stand? I'm happily working again on the Pomegranite Bamboo Merino. That stuff is just WONDERFUL to work with! And I'm still working on the Icarus. Here's a picture, although half of it is wrapped under b/c the needles are only so long (I know, it pretty much looks like the last one, but trust me, ALOT of progress has been made!):


The good news on the icarus? I've gotten past the straight sections and have started on the "feather tips" So I'm getting there! It's been slow, though, b/c I've been a little more engrosed in spinning lately.

Also, I did finish the first of the toe up feather and fan socks:


I know -- it looks kinda funky here. Now I now know why people get those sock blockers! Trust me, it does look better on. But I just don't have the guts to show off my awful winter white legs on here! Also, in fairness, I'm still not completely sure I'm happy with the top anyways, so I might frog the top few rows and redo it. We'll see...

Wow -- I think I need to update more often so that these entries don't end up so long! Of course, my rambing on at the beginning about our "great flood" didn't help!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Treats

Well, I did manage to complete the Easter stuff (just barely!). I started planning on two eggs, but Cassie was having so much fun playing with them that I kept going and made 4. Besides, they were quick and fun, and I still had plenty of scraps left!

So, then onto the peeps (I planned on making two originally). I thought it would be fun to try a boucle b/c then it would look "fluffy", but of course, I didn't think to get one beforehand! So on Saturday, the only real option was Michaels and some cheep acrylic boucle (which, btw, was a PITA to work with!) So, of course, I only had the patience to finish up one of them... I will admit, I think it turned out pretty cute, but definitely not worth the hassle!

So, here are the final results. First, the whole easter basket (including a bunch of plastic eggs -- one of Cassie's newest fun toys!):


And next, just the peep and eggs:


Next, while I was picking up the boucle, I decided to get some sugar and cream to try for a washcloth. I never even thought to try knitting a washcloth until I saw some of Carole's beautiful washclothes. The one that especially inspired me was a lacey heart washcloth (again from smariek's blog). So, now that I finally had pink cotton yarn, I decided to try it out. Again, I used my lovely font that I found to create a chart. Here's the final product:


I think it turned out pretty well. And despite my usual dislike of cotton, this was a small enough project that I didn't mind it at all. Plus, I think it only took 1/2 a skein, so I may be able to get a second washcloth out of it! Not bad for $1.60 worth of yarn! :-D

My next big event -- I received my first Zen String Fiber Club fiber! It is BEAUTIFUL!!! It's called Pomegranite, and it's a bamboo merino blend. Of course, being the callous woman that I am, I cast aside the Iris BFL to try it out. It really is lovely! I have visions of a beautiful fingering weight with the shimmer of the bamboo and the subtle color variations throughout. Here's a shot of the fiber:


And here's the small bit that I've had time to do so far:


All I can say is Yumm!!!

Otherwise, I'm still plugging away on the Icarus Shawl. I've made quite a bit of progress, but nothing really significantly different from the last photos.

Hopefully, this time next week, my Zen String co-op yarn will be at Sarah's, soon to be on it's way here :-D Can't wait!