I had a birthday a few weeks ago. My family is full of unbearably funny people, and they decided to put my mental age on the cake rather than my actual age. Also, we had no other birthday candles, so there weren't a lot of options.
This same collection of hysterically funny people decided that the best way to handle the gift giving this year would be to hide all my presents in the woods.They were, however, kind enough to mark all the presents with giant balloons.
The haul was pretty good this year.
I got some lotions and beauty supplies from my resident fashion and beauty advisor:
They are guaranteed to improve my appearance, lift my spirits, soothe my stinky feet, and harm no animals in the process.
Some fabulous laptop speakers --thoughtfully packaged in a Barbie gift bag--from my shy guy (the little one, not the big one):
A whole heap of beautiful fiber from Guy Smiley:
He insists that I take everything else off my wheel and spin this fiber immediately. I think he's hoping that it will end up being knit into a spiffy new hat for him. After all, these are his favorite colors.
A Big-Nose Dog Bank, hand painted by my Artist-In-Residence:
And a mystery box from El Husbando.
It wasn't really much of a mystery. I had asked for a drum carder and sure enough, there was one in this giant, penguin covered box. Plus, there was a really great instruction book to go with it:
The only thing I didn't get was enough time to play with all these wonderful gifts. But I did get a lot of smiles, and about a million kisses and hugs. Not bad for someone who turned thirty-twelve this year.
We had another milestone birthday more recently. Isabel turned 10, and instead of the usual May flowers, she got some unexpected snow for her birthday.
Here is photographic proof: snow on the roof of the coop, and snow on the roof of the van. The chickens, as usual, were unimpressed.
Isabel tried very hard not to take it personally, and we tried very hard to make it up to her with lots of books and fancy writing implements and the promise of horseback riding lessons. I think it worked. She especially liked the trick candles. I bought a package of 10 (we were getting tired of putting the number 6 on everybody's cakes), but only one of the candles actually re-lit itself after she blew it out. Maybe that was the real trick.
In knitting news, there hasn't been much knitting (see the birthday discussion above, specifically the part where no one remembered to buy me some more time).
On the first week back from Florida, I experimented with the drum carder and turned last year's leftover merino into a 13 gallon bag full of fluffy batts. I complained about this wool a lot last year during the Tour de Fleece, mostly due to the overwhelming quantity and unremitting white-ness of the wool.
I hand carded everything that I spun from this fleece last summer and ended up with 7 (or so) skeins of somewhat uneven plain white yarn. I sent it off with my friend Dawn to be dyed in the natural way at the Genesee Country Village and then thought very hard about throwing the rest of it on the compost heap. Being a naturally lazy person, I failed to toss the stuff immediately. Instead, I stuck the bag of wool in my closet and hoped that it would look a lot better the next time I checked on it. The bag also contained some dyed mohair locks and when I got my drum carder, this seemed like the perfect stuff to experiment with because I was pretty sure I couldn't make it any worse.
This is a small sampling of the Merino and Merino-Mohair batts. I haven't tested them out yet, but they look like they will be much easier to spin than the hand-carded doodoo I was working with last summer.
I have also started carding my Corriedale fleece from the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival. It starts out looking like a pile of dead mice . . .
and ends up looking like spinning nirvana.
I tested a bit of it on a spindle and it was easy to spin and turned into a very sproingy (isn't that the technical term?) yarn.
The other knitting-preventative during my first week back from Florida was the insane 4H sewing project that my girls took on. May 1 was the Annual Clothing Revue. 4H members sew a garment and model it. They are evaluated based on how well they made the garment and how well they model it. Most of the judges are extremely nice and give excellent constructive feedback, although there is the occasional judge who clearly was not put on this Earth to encourage young people to keep sewing. Overall it is a valuable and entertaining experience. However, I can now say without reservation that 9 and 11 year old girls should not attempt to construct an entire dress in the space of one week. The dresses turned out beautifully, but the process was a little --ahem-- challenging, particularly to those of us expected to guide our young through their first major sewing project.
Here is one of the survivors of this event, modeling her beach dress and coordinating shell necklace, which appears as the little white blur near the fourth button (my apologies for the unprofessional photography).
There has still been a little knitting. Below is the fourth incarnation of my Nutkin sock. The first was way too tight. The second was only a little too tight. On the third attempt, I finally admitted to myself that I was going to have to remove my beautiful picot hem in order to stop my socks from cork-screwing. So, here is my toe-up Nutkin. Torquing has been stamped out, and I have now knit this pattern so many times that I have stopped making mistakes (how's that for an invitation to disaster?). The short-row heel contains an extra strand of the yarn worked into the bottom, which is where I get holes in my socks. This was an experimental technique on my part and the heel is full of mistakes, but most of them can be fixed when I darn in the ends of the extra strand and they are staying because I no longer care about perfection, only finishing. So there.
And finally, there is the cardi.
I started the first sleeve on the drive back from Florida, but then I took a little break. Yesterday, as this evil snow/wind event was blowing its way into town, I took the sleeve out again and decided that I would not rest until I finished it. At 11:50 pm I finished the first sleeve and immediately cast on for the second. Today I knit the ribbing and one full repeat. There are 5 left to do and it is possible, although extremely unlikely, that I will finish the sleeve this week.
Both sleeves will then be sewn to the body, which looks just a bit snug to me. I'm really really really hoping that it will grow with blocking. Otherwise I'll be wearing a very form-fitting sweater.