Challenges

I have mentioned before that I participate in a couple of spinning challenges during the year. For the past year, my focus has been with a social media group that spins on the Jenkins Turkish spindles that I love to use. The spindles let me spin finer yarn and slow my production down to about 4 ounces, 1 skein a month. In January two different challenges were initiated with the group, one of them a year long challenge. The monthly challenges, most months allow double dipping with the year long one. The year long challenge is a Breed Blanket Project to pick a single pure breed of sheep wool and spin enough on a Jenkins spindle, to knit a square that at the end of the year will be sewn together to produce a blanket at least big enough for a baby blanket. I decided that I would tackle two breeds a month and try to make a blanket large enough for an extra cover on the bed. Most of the wool that I have gathered are natural colors, whites, fawn, gray, and darker browns. A few are pure breeds that are dyed braids. I started the blanket using one pattern, but didn’t care for the way it looked.

Mostly, I didn’t care that each block was attached as I knit which meant that I had to be more careful of planning ahead, and realized that I had started with darker ones which might end up with the blanket very unbalanced with the colors. Then, one of my favorite pattern designers offered a sale on their patterns and I fell in love with one of them. This meant taking apart everything that I had already done and rewinding the wool into individual balls. The new pattern is a center out square which has required that I learn a new skill, doing a pinhole cast on. I finished square 4 of reknitting it and I still have to pull up a slow motion lesson on how to do it. Maybe I will eventually get the point where the video is no longer necessary to get started, but I really like the blocks that the pattern produces and each block only takes a couple of hours to knit. I hope by the end of the month to be back where I started, but the new blocks are 8 inches square instead of 10 so I will have to knit more blocks to get the size I want.

Next month’s monthly challenge won’t allow me to double dip as the fiber has to be silk or blended with silk, so I may not be able to get as many done for the blanket, but the requirement is only for one. If I have to finish it after the end of the year to make it as large as I want, that will be okay too.

There will be a lot more sewing the squares together in the end, but I can lay them out in a pleasing way to make it work.

Now on to knitting the three remaining. I got two done yesterday. Next up is the one from yarn in the lower right corner of the first post. It is interesting to see how it looks different in the new squares. The lower left of the two pictures is the same yarn.

A Rough Start

This week start has not been a smooth one. For some time, we have observed the “newer” of our two vehicles, it is only 13 years old compared to the almost 16 year old one, has been not running well and leaking oil. We wouldn’t drive it farther than town and kept our fingers crossed that if it broke down, that daughter would be available to get us home or to a rental car location. Because it is the larger vehicle, we loaded the trash and recycling in it yesterday morning to take down to the “Convenience Center.” Don’t you love that as a name for the fenced in area with the dumpsters and recycle trailer boxes in it? As soon as hubby put the beast in reverse, I could smell the clutch and suggested we take both cars and leave the Xterra at our local shop for diagnosis and state inspection. The decision was made to take it the next time we had to go out and not yesterday. The garbage was dispatched, the package I had that needed to be dropped off at the USPS was dropped off, we drove into town to get lunch and a birthday card for a grandson, but didn’t make it home. As we started up the first hill, the smell got stronger, the car got slower, and before we got to the top, there were no gears that the car would go in. A call to daughter, but she was an hour away headed home. A call to the local mechanic and he sent a masked driver in their “Shuttle” van and another driver in the tow truck to haul it in. Once we get an estimate, we have to decide if a 13 year old car, leaking oil, with 246,000+ miles on it is worth the repair, leaving us at least for the moment with the 16 year old car with 240,000 miles on it as our sole transportation.

Last night as I prepared to address the birthday card, I realized that one of my favorite pens was missing. I can’t find it anywhere. Usually it is clipped to the small leather notebook cover that I carry in my bag, but it isn’t there. Isn’t in the bag. Isn’t stuck down the cracks of my chair. It has at least temporarily gone missing. I’m sure it will turn up at some point, in a car, a pocket, or some place I normally wouldn’t set it down.

Also yesterday as I continued to knit on my fingerless mitts, I realized that somehow, I had crossed yarn balls and both mitts were knit from one ball, linking them together with a piece of yarn too short to just cut and weave in, so I had to begin tinking (knitting backwards) for a row on one mitt and another row on both. After doing that, I decided I didn’t like the thumb gusset on the fingers down pattern as I tried one on for fit, so I pulled the needle and frogged (ripped out stitches) for many rows to get back to where the thumb stitches were picked up. Then tediously and carefully picked up the stitches again in an order that would still allow me to knit two at a time, knit a couple of rows to make sure there were no missed stitched and all the stitches were turned the right way and decided to work the wrist up vanilla pattern I always use with a classic thumb gusset that will allow me to knit a real thumb. I am probably back about to the total length I was before yesterday’s error.

During this reknit project, the television was on to the news and talking heads that analyze everything going on and I was appalled at how a congresswoman who had been in the Capitol during last week’s siege would throw a toddler tantrum over not being allowed to carry a gun into the chambers, and how dozens of the rioters from last week and people interviewed at Trump’s bazaar charade of a visit to the Alamo and his incendiary speech there yesterday, exactly parrot his language to the exact phraseology. And they call those who don’t agree with them sheep. They call themselves patriots and true Americans, yet they attack our halls of government and threaten our lawmakers.

Next disaster, a relatively minor one today. Lunch was prepared, just grilled cheese sandwiches still sitting on the griddle pan on the stove, the plates with pickles served out beside them and I called hubby down to eat. In reaching up to get a glass for my water, he knocked another to the Silestone counter below the cabinet and it exploded sending glass shooting across the stove top, the adjacent counter where the plates were waiting, and all over the floor. After glass was cleaned up, lunch tossed in the garbage, counter tops and griddle and dishes washed, I started over.

On the positive side, the hydroponic herb garden that Son 2 and family gave me for Christmas has sprouted all 6 herbs. I check each day to see how much growth has occurred. The dill, thyme, and parsley are putting out secondary leaves, The mint and basils are above the rims of their planting baskets. That was such a great gift for a gardener suffering the off season doldrums that houseplants just don’t satisfy.

Back to chores, knitting, and spinning. Hmmm, I wonder where the pen is?

Happy New Year

The year ended with business paperwork showing an abysmal year for the shop. A putting away of last year and a clean house to start the new year. The last of the Christmas roast that had been frozen was thawed and warmed for supper last night with Huevos Rancheros on the schedule for the morning. We stayed up to watch the ball drop over the empty Times Square.

I started my double challenge spinning while watching another 30 minutes of new year festivities after midnight.

Yesterday, I knit the first square for the blanket as a test, using wool spun in November and December, and though it will be part of the finished blanket, it doesn’t count in the challenge. The wool I am starting with is BFL, 2 ounces each of the two colors above, Parrot Head and Kingfisher. One will start a new square after enough is spun and that will be my official one for the challenge, the other will be added to the square under them to provide the finishing corner of the blanket when all the quadrants of 4 breeds each are sewn together. The two spindles are “new” (within the past 5 weeks) and the fiber new at Christmas, so that satisfies the second challenge.

The morning brought an awakening thought that I had no eggs, so no Huevos for the Rancheros. He got cheese enchiladas and sausage instead. Our weekly curbside groceries were ready shortly after and again, the substitution or lack there of was a problem. It is frustrating that simple common sense can’t be used in offering substitutions. But it did get me the collards and black eyed peas that I will enjoy tonight as hubby has ham, au gratin potatoes, and something green. I enjoy corn bread with it, but have gotten frustrated that I make an 8″ skillet of it and half ends up going to the chickens before it all gets eaten. Maybe I should look for a tiny cast iron skillet and divide the recipe so that there are only 4 slices instead of 8.

The new year started rainy and cold but the rest of the week looks lovely. Tomorrow there is no official Farmer’s Market, but a few vendors have offered pre orders with a short window pick up. We will drive in to get eggs and some veggies. Next week, the winter markets begin.

Let’s hope that the vaccines get distributed fairly and quickly and that there are no more incidents of deliberate waste of them. Let’s also hope that the “adults” that hold positions in our House and Senate, act like adults and move the election result to completion. This year has to be better than last. A new grandson last January, socially distanced meet ups with our children and their families a few times, and my spindle spinning and knitting have gotten me through the past year.