Friday, December 30, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Bear Hair

Yes, that's right.  Bear Hair.  Black Bear Hair found by my cousin's son in their back yard last September.

Yes, that's right.  Black Bears in the back yard.  They live in Colorado too.  :-)

If you remember the Rocky Mountain Goat I posted about a few weeks ago,  this is my same cousin with the same son.  It might mean that my cousin and her son have become my very own personal rare fiber dealers.  ;-)

This is only 1/4 ounce.  There is absolutely no crimp, but the shine is gorgeous and the color is just beautiful.

I attempted to spin it straight on my wheel, but the hair is stiff so it didn't go too well.  So I'm not sure how I will get this spun or even if spinning is the right thing to do.  I suspect blending it with something will be the way to go, but I haven't done any blending yet, so suggestions are absolutely welcome.

If you had access to Black Bear Hair, what would you do with it?

While you're thinking about that, please check in with all of the lovely Fiberistas over at Fiber Arts Friday and have a great New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Elevation Profile Scarf is Finished!

I feel like I had been just a few inches from completing the Elevation Profile Scarf for quite some time.  So last weekend I decided it was going to be finished.  Sunday had me binding it off...  I wove in the ends, wore it around the house for a bit then set it in the block.

I really do like the drape of this fabric.  The yarn is a blend of Yak and Merino and I knit it on slightly larger needles than the yarn called for.

This was my first time following a pattern that was written with only charts.  It was also my first time knitting with two colors at the same time.

Once I figured out what I was doing, it wasn't all that difficult.  Although I was not working on this project exclusively, so occasionally I forgot how to make the transition between the colors after I had set it aside.

I love how the selvedge is turned out.

It's so easy to make this beautiful edge... just slip the first stitch purl-wise for each row and then move the working yarn to the back. I will definitely use this technique on future projects.

And now that the scarf has been blocked, I've been wearing it almost exclusively... and since I'm not about to take a photo of myself wearing it, you'll just have to happen to see me walking around town.  ;-)

I really like this pattern a lot, so I believe I'll do it again... with perhaps a single color. I think the texture of the pattern would show better with one color that's a little lighter in color.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanuka and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.  May you eat well, be warm and enjoy the company of the people you love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: The Fiber Fool and Nourishing Knits

I met Kristi Schueler a few years ago on Twitter.  Hubba and I were living in New Mexico and planning our return to Colorado.

Kristi was a knitwear designer based in Colorado.  I was smitten.  :-)

After Hubba and I got settled in our Colorado home, Kristi and I realized we were almost neighbors.  We met a couple of times.  She helped me overcome my fear of cables.  I was still smitten.  :-)

She invited me to join her knitting group.  I was intimidated.

I came a few times when my travel schedule allowed.  I was at ease.

Kristi wrote a book.  I want to tell you about it.

As a matter of fact, a few of us will be talking about it.  Today is the first post in a blog tour highlighting Nourishing Knits.  Kristi will be announcing a couple of giveaways over on her blog today, so you will definitely want to check that out.

Nourishing Knits is jam packed with delicious recipes and beautiful knit designs.  I have had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of some of these test recipes and the name for one of the patterns came from a suggestion I made.  :-)

The Alpaca Dog has been a taste tester as well.  One night, he knew there was something in my bag for him as soon as I walked thru the door... He devoured it and begged for more.  This dog doesn't generally care for treats, so let me tell you...  If you get this book for nothing else, get it for the Bow Wow Biscotti.  Your best friend will thank you.  :-)

It's pretty easy to write about something that's fantastic.  The trouble is finding the one piece I wanted to focus on.  I have 5 or 6 of these designs in my queue.  Not just the favorites.  They're in my queue.  That means I will make them.  It's only a matter of time.

The one I've been thinking most about knitting next are the Challah socks.

I am a new (and excited) sock knitter... and Kristi helped me overcome my fear of cables... and the socks in the book are made from alpaca.  So really, I do think this is the perfect choice.  :-)

I have selected a charcoal/green Malabrigo to knit this pattern.  I hear Malabrigo is lovely to work with, and now that I've wound the skeins into cakes, I'm getting excited. :-)

I'm about half-way into the first cable repeat for the first sock.  I am trying to follow only the charts, but I am cheating a little and looking at the written out instructions every now and then.  Since I don't have a lot of experience with charts, I want to make sure I'm reading the marks correctly.

I do have to say that I like following the chart in the round... it means I'm always reading it from right to left.  :-D

And I love seeing the roots of cables forming...

I am enjoying these socks so far and am looking forward to some dedicated sock knitting this weekend.  :-)

If you don't already know Kristi, follow her.  You'll learn something.  You'll be inspired.  You'll have good food too.  :-)

The Fiber Fool on Twitter
The Fiber Fool Blog
Designedly, Kristi on Facebook
Designedly, Kristi on Ravelry

And of course, be sure get your copy of Nourishing Knits soon!

Photos courtesy of Kristi Schueler

Then once your finished checking out all of the Nourishing Knits goodness, please also check out the other fiberistas who have linked in for Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dogs Working

Our girls don't look much like puppies anymore.  They love being out with the alpacas and are growing into very good protectors.

We take them on walks and to the Farmer's Market to ensure they remain well socialized.  They enjoy other dogs and people when we're out.  But when they are with the alpacas, they are definitely working.  I have no doubt that these girls would fiercely protect me, Hubba, the alpacas and each other if the situation ever presented itself.

I have not posted any photos of them in quite a while. Mostly because they generally don't stay still.  Which means that usually the only thing I'm able to capture is a black blur.

However, Hubba and I have been able to snap a few over the last couple of days.

Clementine and Wonton enjoying the sun while everyone else was enjoying breakfast


Noodle and Wonton working hard ;-)

The girls are just about 1 year old now. Wonton, in a couple of days and Noodle, next week.

Noodle, me and Wonton

I can't tell you how much we love these dogs.  They were absolutely the best choice for us.  :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

No Christmas Knitting

I was feeling quite proud of myself...

Several months ago I had decided there would be only one, perhaps two knitting projects for Christmas. The Christmas related knitting stress would be very small and I hadn't attached much expectation to either project.

Things have been (extremely) busy at my day job and I haven't had much extra mental capacity for quite some time. So I felt this was the best plan.

Now, a few months later, the primary project's current status is "lame." It needs to be deeper and bigger. I don't have enough interest in making the corrections now, so it has been shelved and may be resurrected for next year.

The second project was started and f-d up, re-started and f-d up again. I've decided the yarn I selected was not the best choice, so it has also been shelved as well.

Therefore, there are no knitted gifts from me this year and frankly, I feel ok about it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

HEV Questions

Last week I was given a Toyota Prius as a rental car.

I was excited.  I had never been in one, so I was anxious to see what it was like.

I didn't hate it.

I didn't love it.

That's pretty much my reaction to most rental cars... with the exception of the PT Cruiser and HHR.  I hate those cars.

I don't want to write a review about rental cars, but driving this car for several days brought up a few questions for me regarding Hybrid-Electric Vehicles.

What is the actual mileage while the IC Engine is running?

The engine started and stopped a lot on my commute each day.  The starting and stopping, especially at traffic lights invoked memories of being a new driver with a very old, poorly maintained, manual transmission car.

If the rated mileage is 50mpg, I should have paid 40-50% less in gas.  I paid only 20% less.

There is the possibility that the car wasn't full when I picked it up, but that is always true.  My rental car company does not have a good process for ensuring the cars are full prior to pick up.

What are the emissions when the IC Engine is running?

We hear a lot about HEVs having terrific gas mileage, but we don't hear much about the emissions.  If I remember correctly, the IC Engine creates most of it's emissions when first starting up.

So if the engine starts and stops 10 times on each commute, does it create more air emissions than a similar engine that is only started once?

What happens to the batteries when the car has reached it's useful life?

I know batteries have come a long way since I researched HEVs in the early 1990's.  Do they get recycled?

What about maintenance?

Is there an availability of non-dealer mechanics that are affordable and skilled?  Are parts reasonably priced?

While the Prius is not in the pool of cars we would consider when the time comes to replace the ones we have now.  It doesn't mean an HEV or EV wouldn't work for us.  I would just want to have acceptable answers to my questions and be able to fit Hubba's racing chair in the car without having to take the wheels off.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Rocky Mountain Goat Fiber

I've been wanting to share this fiber with you all for a while.  :-D

In early June, my cousin was on a hike near Breckenridge, CO.  She and her son found this Rocky Mountain Goat fiber strewn across some branches and wondered if I would be interested in playing with it.

1 1/8 ounces raw Rocky Mountain Goat Fiber

My first reaction was H*** Yes, Hand it over!  But I restrained myself until I knew what she wanted to do with it.  We finally connected in July and I spent a few hours each weekend working on it over the summer when I could.

I did an initial skirt where I removed the twigs and most of the guard hair.

The guard hair is quite coarse.

The down is on the left and guard hair and twigs on the right.  I was expecting to pull more guard hair out, but this was only the first pass.

I gave it a good bath and a few changes of water, then hung to dry for a few days.

After the initial skirt and bath, the fleece is down to 3/4 ounce and oh-so-white.

Now I'm in the middle of opening up the fibers and doing a more detailed pick with a retractable dog brush.  I'm about half finished.

The second picture is the opened fiber.  It's so soft.

It will most likely be next spring before I'm finished, but I've been wanting to share it for quite some time.  :-)

I hope you are having a terrific Fiber Arts Friday.  Please be certain to check into what everyone else has been up to over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Paralympic Medal Socks

I've been saying for more than two years that you might be inspired when reading through the Fiber Arts Friday Blog Posts.  Well, back in July I was inspired to make a very specific project.

This post by AllyB included a pair of socks that just about knocked me over.  She referenced this post by ScoutJ for the custom yarn used to make the project.

Well, with it being more than a year since the original yarn post, it was no longer available and I didn't find anyone on Ravelry willing to part with theirs.

So being a recovering engineer, I can usually find a way to get something done...  I Facebooked a friend who is a knitter and dyer along with many other wonderful creative things and told her about my idea.
Seriously, as much as Facebook frustrates me, I can almost always reach someone there.
She liked it, so we set about on the details.

The yarn was finished in October.  We made arrangements for me to pick up the yarn and then I worked furiously to finish My (well, Hubba's) First Socks.

The big secret that I didn't tell you about before is that those first socks were really a template for these socks.  :-)

I wanted to be certain I had a pattern that worked for him, but I couldn't let him know about the real project until it was ready.  I finished them right before he got home from Guadalajara so I decided to give them as a welcome home present.  :-)

He's pretty stoked!  Especially since his first socks have gone on their own adventure.

So again, I used the Sock It To Me pattern plus the amazing Olympic Colorway from Wattsolak.
If you  like what we did, please visit her on Etsy, Ravelry and  I'm sure you will love her as much as I do.  :-)

And when you're done doing that, please head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder because it's Fiber Arts Friday!