Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Alpaca Festivals and Apple Picking

Even though this weekend didn't feel much like fall I spent it doing some very fall activities.  When we were driving home the other day I saw a sign that said alpaca on it. I was so excited that I had John turn around to see when it said. 

Evidently we have an alpaca farm less than 5 miles from my house!  According to the sign these alpacas have been on the Late Night with David Letterman too. I have no idea what that is all about, but I went to the Autumn Alpaca fest anyway.  
The farm is behind a golf course, which explains why I never noticed the alpacas.  There were a few vendors there selling fiber and fiber related items. There was yarn from the local alpacas and they had items made from alpacas in Peru.
I bought two needle felted pumpkins that were made by a lovely local fiber artist. She was needle felting while we talked!
Shepherd Hills Alpacas 
I then went to the next booth where I saw a table full of alpaca locks, and some fiber batts.  I met a wonderful woman named Deborah from Black Diamond Alpacas.  She was so friendly, and even invited me to her local knitting and spinning groups. I will definitely be joining them at a meet up soon. I told her how I have some alpaca fiber at home, but have been scared to spin it. It is so soft and pretty, I would hate to ruin it. She let me try some alpaca on her wheel
I am so used to my double treadle wheel that this was a real challenge for me. Once we lessened the tension I was able to get the wheel going and not have too much backspin.  Alpaca was not as hard as I thought it would be.  I learned that I need to add way more twist than I think that it  needs.  Evidently the fibers do not lock together like a wool fiber does, so you need that extra twist to make it stable.  She also recommended that I try an alpaca blend first. She had some lovely batts so I bought one for me, and one for Jess.
This is 60% alpaca from two different alpacas from Black Diamond Alpacas, Rhett and Romeo. I got to see pictures of them too! The other 40% is Rambouillet.  I am eager to spin it up.
The rest of the time on the farm I spent looking at the baby alpacas on the obstacle course
He did not want to go through the hoop, kept backing up, it was so funny

I love their faces so cute!
It looks like he is kissing the other one!
It was a lot of fun, and so exciting that the farm is so close to my house.  I was sorely tempted when I saw this
So tempted
But I went home with just my fiber and needle felted goodies.

Sunday we spent the morning in New Jersey apple picking!It was so nice that John had the day off and could go too! We picked Mutsu, Honey crisp, Macintosh, and Red Delicious apples. I have plans for apple bread and hopefully enough for some canned apple pie filling.  We had some yummy cider and apple cider donuts too.  

We had lunch at Hot Dog Johnny's. If you are near the Belvedere area of New Jersey, I highly recommend it. The hot dogs are cooked in peanut oil and are delicious. I am not a big hot dog fan and  I really like them.  We ate them on picnic blankets with some friends and their sweet little girl. It was a really fun afternoon. Have I mentioned how much I love fall? If only we could have these amazing falls and then just skip winter heh

Friday, September 26, 2014

FO Friday 9/26/14

Where has September gone?  I swear I was just on vacation and now the month is over??  October is going to be even more insane.  Haunted hayrides, Rhinebeck, Renaissance Faire and Halloween!  My calendar is full and I am looking forward to every single thing on it!

What have I been up to lately?  I went to the Renaissance Faire with family last weekend (and am going back next week with some friends.  

I started a pair of 3x1 ribbed socks for my mom.  I'm using Into the Whirled Pakokku Sock in A Musing Anecdote.  I am knitting them top down, using the fish lips kiss heel.  I finished the first sock and just finished the heel of the second sock today.

I have also been spinning a lot lately.  I still have my friend's wheel, so I have been trying to use it as much as I can before she wants it back.  

I spun up this Corriedale by Into the Whirled that I picked up at MDSW this year.  The colorway is Blink.  I spun it 2-ply, worsted weight.  Even though I was able to get it more consistent than the last skein, I got less yardage :(  This is 178 yards.  It's still enough for a hat or a cowl, but I was hoping for a bit more yardage.

Right now I have some secret spinning going on that I can post about after next week.  ;)

The only other FO I have to share is a pair of French Press Slippers.  I knit these for my swap partner.  This was the first time I felted anything that I needed to control.  My seaming was a little funky so they look a little off, but they should fit and I hope my partner likes them.  

September was a pretty busy month for me too! We just had our first house guest, which was actually pretty exciting. It was so nice to have a guest room and bathroom available for him.  I think he liked staying here too.  The kitties did not like that the door was shut at night though, and greeted our guest each morning by being right outside the door when he opened it.  I love October for so many reasons, but the main one is RHINEBECK! I am so glad that Jess will be going too.

I have two FOs to share this week.  I also made a pair of French Press Slippers. This was also my first time felting something that had to fit.  I think mine turned out okay, and I hope that my swap partner loves them.  The best part about these slippers though was felting them with Jess. There were a few Lucy and Ethel moments, and we laughed a lot.  Bill the cricket was on hand to give his opinion too. (Bill has decided to live in Jessica's basement, at least I think he does because he was LOUD). Did I mention that I am scared of crickets?! It was true comedy that night.
French Press Felted Slippers - Cascade 220 - Pacific
I also did the first spinning I have done in the new house. My couch is actually a great height for spinning and I didn't have the back problems that I sometimes get from it.  I spun up some punis that I got from NaturallyKnitty on etsy.  The punis are merino, cormo, bamboo, and firestar.  I ended up with 228 yards, which isn't bad for 2.1 ounces of fiber. I haven't done the wraps per inch yet, but it looks like maybe a sport weight yarn. The colorway is Summer Sunset, which I think is just perfect for the yarn.

Friday, September 19, 2014

FO Friday 9/19/2014

Happy Fall y'all!  I finished it! I finished my fall sampler with 2 days to spare before fall officially starts! I am so excited to share it with you guys.  Now I just need to find a good frame for it and I am ready to go!

Now I can start on my Twelve Days of Christmas... maybe I will get that done in time this year too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WIP Wednesday 9/17/14

I have been happily stitching away on my Autumn Sampler, and I have just two squares left!!!  I may even finish it before the first official day of Fall too.

The last two squares are really cute too.  One is a finished sock (the one that is started in square 11), and the other is a cup of tea.  I think my favorite squares are the ones with the socks, but I also love square 14 with the pumpkin cupcake, and square 13 where the girl is playing in the leaves.  Raking leaves up is no fun, but crunching them under your boots, and kicking them around is actually a ton of fun.  

I haven't really worked on my shawl, so I don't really have anything to share there.  I did cast on sock pair # 9/12 for the year though. I bought the book Sock Innovation by Cookie A after seeing so many FOs on Ravelry.  I picked one of the patterns out to make my mom for Christmas this year (Erin keep this one a secret from my mom!).  When Jess and I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool this year we went to an open house at Cephalopod Yarns on Friday night and it was so much fun! If I had known then they would close their doors within a few months I would have bought a lot more yarn.  I bought this yummy skein of Skinny Bugga in the colorway Charaxes Tiridate.  I thought it looked like Dodger blue so I knew it would be perfect for my mom.  Skinny Bugga is 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere (so soft!).  I think these are going to be the softest socks ever.  

This pattern is the Angee sock.  It is much longer sock, but I know my mom prefers shorter socks so I took out one pattern repeat in the leg.  I love how the rows look like cables, when in reality it is just increases and decreases that make that pattern.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

FO Friday 9/12/14

Boy have I been busy!  I felt a push to get a few items off my to knit list, and I was successful.  I also ended up making a small unexpected project for Quidditch that the kitties like.  Let me start by sharing my Halloween Spooky sampler from last year! I stitched this up during the actual stitch along and managed to keep up. I then said I was going to frame it, or make a pillow out of it, and did neither.  It has just sat since last year.  When I saw that Jess had her Halloween sampler was all framed, I knew I needed to get mine done.  We finally have some room to decorate at the new house too, so I think it will look great. I actually want to have a small table by the entry where I can have seasonal decor.  I haven't found a table I like so for now the sampler will sit on the stone in front of the fireplace.
Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Halloween Spooky Sampler
I LOVE Peeps, so this little witch Peep had to come home with me from Cracker Barrel a few weeks ago .
For Quidditch, we needed to make an item to butter up Dolores Umbridge.  I picked this little item from her "favorites" and added a bit of catnip for Phoebe and Athena. It was a super fast knit, and I may make a whole jar full of them in the future heh
Gruesome Knitted Eyeball by Mary Jane Mucklestone
For the year long swap I needed to make toys for my partner. I made a minion already and for the second toy I decided to make a dinosaur. I used scrap sock yarn for this little guy. He is actually a pretty fast knit too. I was worried that his spines would be a pain to add, but it was actually really easy to sew them on as it is all one big strip.  
Grumpasaurus by Kat Lewinski
The hardest part was actually getting a grump enough face. The first time I embroidered it on, I tilted the eyes the other way and he looked so happy. I had to look at the pattern again to realize my mistake.
I am one grumpy dinosaur!
My last FO of the week is a pair of baby booties. A Rav friend of mine and I were chatting in the beginning of the year about babies and said that we would knit for each other when we each got pregnant. She is expecting a baby girl in October so I whipped up some Monster Booties for her.
Monster Booties by Rebecca Danger
She and I met in a Monster making group on Ravelry, so I know she will just love them!  I knit these in a size 6-9 months which should work out perfectly as the baby will be born in Australia and they are just starting to have their Spring. By the time she can fit these booties it should be starting to get cool there.  I knit them up in Cascade 220 superwash so they can be thrown in the washer and dryer as needed.  

My vacation ended and I am back to work.  I managed to finish 2 FO's this week though :)  The first is the Pedestrian Crossing Cowl that I knit for a friend.  I am excited to give it to her and hope that she loves it.  It's knit in Malabrigo Worsted in the Plena colorway.

Pedestrian Crossing Cowl-pattern by Melissa Sibley
Next, I finished my This Isn't a Man socks.  I just did basic, toe-up socks with a fish lips kiss heel.  The weather today is supposed to be chilly and rainy so I might be wearing them today.

The Cyborg's Craft Room This Isn't a Man self striping

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WIP Wednesday 9/10/2014

Hi everyone, is it beginning to feel like Fall where you are? It sure is here, but based on the past I am sure that it will not last heh.  I have a few projects that I have started and finished since last Friday.  Just a few small things, but I am excited to share them on Friday.  Today I only have one WIP that I am currently working on. I had a pair of socks on the needles too, but I accidentally pulled one of the needles out and lost some stitches. Since I was still on the cuff I ripped them out completely.  I am still working on my Jane Eyre shawl. It doesn't look much bigger than last week, but it really is. 
The gnome and the lucky pig are trying to help show the shawl.
I am 12 rows into the lace pattern and I think it is going well so far. I have never done a shawl that had lace on both the knit and purl rows so I think that is why it is going  a little slower for me.  It will be much rougher when the lace expands and takes up the whole bottom of the shawl, but it will be gorgeous. 
Center Lace panel Jane Eyre shawl

Friday, September 5, 2014

FO Friday 9/5/14

The other week I was asked to test knit the latest Halloween design, Patch,  by Susan Claudino (NoKnitSherlock).  The pattern was released the other day so I can share my photos!  The first one I knit was out of Dancing Dog Dyeworks Waltz Worsted in Stockinette Zombies (with the orange mini that came with it) and the second one was using Cephalopod Yarn in Red Eft and The Cyborg's Craft Room in This Isn't a Man.

Patch in DDD Waltz Worsted

Patch in Cephalopod Yarn and The Cyborg's Craft Room

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WIP Wednesday 9/3/14

I have been getting so much done while being home this week! After I finished decorating for fall, I was in the mood for some pumpkin.  I remembered seeing on Pinterest a recipe for a copycat version of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Syrup.  I am so addicted to their Pumpkin Spice Latte's, but they are a bit pricey. I decided that I would test it out on Monday.  I don't have a fancy coffee maker, just a Mr. Coffee type Keurig machine.  I don't know how to make a latte so I knew that it wouldn't taste the same as Starbucks.  

The recipe was really easy.  There were only a few ingredients and it took me about 20 minutes to make.  I put some in my coffee and you can definitely taste the pumpkin spice!  I'm so glad I can make my own pumpkin coffee beverage every day without spending a small fortune!

After I made the syrup, I decided to fall even further into the pumpkin patch and baked a pumpkin pie.  Nothing fancy, just used the Libby's recipe on the back of the can.

Along with making all things pumpkin, I worked on some knitting and stitching.  I started my Halloween socks a couple of weeks ago.  I'm using The Cyborg's Craft Room Assockilate in This Isn't a Man self-striping.  The original Halloween is my all time favorite horror movie.  I knit a pair using the variegated version of this colorway last year and when I saw it was available as self-striping, I needed it.  I finished the first sock last week and started the second.  

The Cyborg's Craft Room Assockilate-This Isn't a Man self-striping; bag by Bird Leg Bags on Etsy
I also cast on the Pedestrian Crossing cowl by Melissa Sibley.  This will be a gift so I am using some wonderfully soft Malabrigo Worsted to knit it up.  The colorway is Plena and it reminds me of crisp fall evenings.  I need to go pick out the perfect buttons for this today while hanging out with Jen.

Pedestrian Crossing in Malabrigo Worsted-Plena 616; bag by Bird Leg Bags on Etsy
The last knitting project I started is a bunny.  Every year our church has a basket social.  People donate gift baskets and you purchase tickets to try to win baskets you like.  This year, one of the girls donated an antique cradle and my mom knit this beautiful baby blanket for the cradle.  She asked if I would make a bunny to place inside.  I am using the Nummy Bunny pattern.  The only mods I plan on doing are keeping it a solid color instead of striping and not stuffing the arms and legs.  
Nummy Bunny using Knit Picks Brava Worsted; bag by MostlyMunchies

I have also been working on clue 3 of The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's Halloween Town club.  This pattern is so cute and each clue has me falling even more in love with it.

That's about all I have been up to this week.  How about you, Jen?  

Wow! You have been super productive on your week off! Much more than me heh. I just started a part time job working for a friend so my time for crafting has gone down heh.  The new term started in the HPKCHC so I eagerly cast on my OWL project when it was approved within hours of me submitting my proposal! So my OWL last term was the Dr. Who scarf for my brother.  My OWL for the fall term is a project that was requested by my sister-in-law (my brother's wife). They are quite knit worthy and appreciate handmade gifts so I was happy to say yes.  She loves to read, and even has her master's in library sciences.  She picked out the Jane Eyre Shawl from the Literary Knits book. She requested a pretty gray color, and I think this yarn is perfect.  It is Cascade 220 in Charcoal Gray.   I have finished the shoulder shaping and can now start the Flame Lace section. This shawl is different from others I have made before because it has shoulder shaping, and the lace pattern is active on both sides. It is a huge shawl, and I think it will be a cozy wrap for my SIL. 

The next project that I have been working on is my sock yarn blanket. I cast this blanket on September 5, 2013. So I thought I would see how far that I had gotten in one year. I have 178 squares.  I cannot believe how far I have gotten on this project.  When I started I thought it would end like my failed attempt at hexipuffs. That I would make a few squares, get bored and set it aside.  This blanket is addictive. Whenever I pick it up I find it hard to make just one square. As soon as I weave in the ends in I am picking up the next mini-skein.  The blanket is so large is actually makes me warm to work on it, so this should see a lot of knitting time in the upcoming fall and winter.  

I spent the last few weeks stitching as well. I picked up my long forgotten Autumn Sampler.  I started the border last year, and did not even finish that!  As the weather got cooler it made me think of all things Fall! So I picked it back up in hopes of finishing it this year in time to frame and hang it. Just 10 more squares to go.

Oh I needed another needle minder since my cute Matroyshka one from Jess was is on my other sampler. So I found this cute one from Pinoy Stitch on Etsy.

I also have been working on my Once Upon a Time Sampler and have made good progress on the September square, Rapunzel.