the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holiday crunch complete

Is everyone out there now breathing a huge collective sigh? :-) mission accomplished. gifts were complete. there were indeed happy feet all around on Christmas morning.
My daughter finally got her socks (she'd been patient for a year while other projects pushed these aside) and K got his socks out of Sock Hop colorway My Boyfriend's Back.
So - like a good little sock-obsessed-knitter that I am, what do you think I did the moment I finished all of these gifts on Christmas eve? why, of course, I cast on for another pair of socks. This time they're for me.
Featured here in all their loveliness are my Monkey Socks. Doesn't Cookie write a fabulous pattern! They are practically flying off my needles. I've turned the heels on both, and hope to be wearing them by tomorrow.

Here's a closeup photo that shows the color more accurately. It's a deep purple and crimson, with a bit of subtle shading that blends them together. I know that it's hard to tell the difference between a lot of sock yarn colors when you're looking through a computer monitor, but this color really is different from American Pie (promise).
Yarn: Sock Hop Yarn in colorway Crazy Love
pattern : Monkey
needles: size 1

And "what's that in the photo under the socks?" you ask. Why yes, it snowed. And even better yet, it's remained cold. All the lovely glittering essence of winter is staying (at least for a little while) It is so pretty. Want a peek at the view that greets us in the morning? Of course you do.

Even the goats are loving it. Goats are such interesting creatures - they don't like the rain at all (which can be a dilemma if you live in Washington State) but they seem to love to prance about in the snow. I wonder if they are pretending to be in the Alps?

Thanks to the few folks who tagged me to play the 'six weird things' meme..... but alas, I am going to decline. I pondered and searched for a list of six weird things that I wanted to publish in blogland, and found myself feeling like the oddball at a highschool dance. (not a pretty picture) Finally arriving at the conclusion that ages 11-16 were enough torture for anyone to have survived, I decided to not put myself through any more of that (grin). After all, this is my little corner of the world... why repeat history! indeed not.

With only one day left in 2006, some of us are winding up all the projects that we can. Me? Since my deadlines were all about Christmas, and I finished all of those (except for the smooshy catbed which we are all politely ignoring) I've been starting new things. Want to take a guess as to what this is? No.. it's not a messy ball that the cats have created. Shall I tell you? Errr, ummm.. I think that I will keep you dangling for awhile (or at least until I've done a bit more - this is only about 40 rows) The hint is that the yarn was a gift from my friend Lisa. Nice eh! lucky me!

So let's recap - I've got another pair of socks almost done, have begun the mystery project above, and my brain is whirling about, looking for a marvelous sweater to begin. Cables anyone?

Saturday, December 23, 2006


"No problem, I can do that - it's easy" (have you ever heard yourself say this?)
Hmmm - ever hear the phrase 'famous last words' - of course you have.
Let me put it this way - ahem ....(feel free to laugh loudly while you read on)

Christmas gifts have been flying off my needles (hurray). I only had two more little things that I wanted to make; gifts for my kitties and my oldest daughter's kitties. I figured that cat beds would be perfect.
I had some pencil roving knit up in a partially finished poncho that had been lying on the floor for a few months (who me?!) and the cats just loved curling up on it. pencil roving = easy cat beds... right? raaawwwrriight.
Hey, I said to myself, I had knit felted bags, hats, slippers, purses, " what's a cat bed but a bigger circle with sides on it?" (laughter can get a little bit harder now)

I knit and I knit (size 19 needles are alot like holding broomsticks). I increased alot, then I knit some more. I added sides, did my i-cord cast off and viola... errr, perhaps I should have noticed something wasn't quite right here at this point, but determined I kept on going)
It'll come out fine when it felts, I told myself in my most confident voice.I shaped it in what I imagined it could be, and pushed, pulled... err, perhaps I could have reconsidered at this point, yet no. I pressed on.

I tossed the blob into the washing machine with an old pair of jeans, and went merrily along with my day. A couple of hours later we had this:

looks rather like a warped mexican sombrero you say?
The cats sniffed and turned tail and left.
I placed it lovingly on the floor by the Christmas tree, and for a second (with me laughing so hard my sides hurt) one of the cats actually sat in the blob. I grabbed the camera, yet couldn't stop laughing. (thus all the blurry photos)

And so, I leave you with a wish for a very Merry Christmas - blurry photos and all. They aren't going to get any more clear, because every time I see the blob I laugh.

And so I proceed, humbled and laughing back to the drawing board. You know, I hear that there's a pattern for cat beds in Wendy's book Wendy Knits. I think I'll add that to my wish list. Ya think?!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Counting our Blessings

We're in day three with no power here in Washington State; the power company is predicting that it could take up until next week to get it back on line - and yet we are counting all our blessings (in no particular order)
*all our animals are fine and so are we
*all our 30 foot cedars are still standing
* we had an amazingly glorious sunrise this chilly morning
*We have a generator (and it works really well) - we have heat and some power
* the gas stove top works - so we can cook
* four electrical outlets work in the kitchen/living room area (which means that I can keep dyeing fiber)
* and one outlet in each bedroom works (which means that we have telephone service and internet as well)
there are many others that I could go on and on about... but rather than doing that, I ask you to focus a bit of attention towards thanking all the power crews who are working hard to restore power. Their job is enormous. Trees and main power conduits are destroyed all over the northwest. The winds here at our house were above 75mph. Almost all the major towns, and all the small townships (including ours) have been without power since thursday. The temperatures are still below freezing as I write this. there are so many people who do not have generators. Please send your thoughts out to them.

Darkness comes early around this part of the country right now - it is totally dark by 4:30pm. Yesterday the highs were about 40 degrees. I went in to my office, to see a few "hardy" clients (I say hardy because it was only 46 degrees inside the building.) We lit candles and wore our coats and gloves. Somehow the people of the northwest have a wonderful inner strength. The rain, snow and cold do not deter them when they want to be somewhere. It is marvelous, and inspiring.

During the daylight hours I have been able to knit a bit more on my holiday gifts. They are in various stages of completion (yay!) I'm thinking that I might actually be able to finish by Christmas - double yay !

Wanna see up closer?
sorry about the blurry photos - the lighting isn't very good on this overcast, chilly day.

Cable back fingerless gloves - in Lousia Harding Cashmere-merino. I just love the little kisses and hugs pattern on this one. These are for a dear friend who deserves all the smooches she can imagine!

another pair of fingerless gloves - in Debbie Bliss cashmere-merino. The blue is so deep and vivid - it looks closer to the color shown in the photo above. I used the cable pattern from the Viking Knits book that I have pictured in previous posts. These are for a 20-something man who has quite large hands (he's over 6'4" tall) I opted not to make him socks this year (hmmm, I wonder why?)

and yet another pair of fingerless gloves, just begun. This is made from alpaca. It's odd, yet after knitting with the cashmere-merino, the alpaca actually feels scratchy. I'm sure that they will be fine when I am done, but it is certainly odd right now.
The gloves take about a day for me to knit up - and make a great gift for people whose shoe size you don't know.

Wondering about this pattern? Well, it is written by Karen Alfke. It is called "Cableback Fingerless Gloves". I took a class from her last January that was marvelous. She is a delightful, humorous, easy-going instructor. If you're interested in finding out where you can buy a copy, give her a shout at her email :

And yes, there are indeed socks in progress. These are for my patient daughter, Erin. She's seen them on the needles for a few months now (and so have many of you all... are we bored yet?(giggle)) and hopefully they will be on her feet Christmas Day. I am knitting them with Dicentra Designs superwash merino, colorway Pelennor. The pattern is the baby cable from Sensational Knitted Socks. As you can see, I have finally turned the heel on sock numero duo. I just know I'll finish these now!
Speaking of socks; did anyone else notice that there is another socks book coming out in March 2007 by Charlene Schurch More Sensational Knitted Socks. Oh man - I'm placing my pre-order right now! I have used her sock books more than any other that I own.

Klaus is already out driving around this morning - in search of an open post office. We are hoping that he can find one, so that we may mail out the orders from people on our website. We are told that there has been no mail coming in or going out of the Pacific Northwest since Wednesday, because none of the way-stations have had power. We appreciate all the patience from our customers as we attempt to solve this interesting challenge.

So keep your fingers crossed that the crews out working can finish up soon. Meanwhile, I am down to rather "unique" methods of drying the fiber that I am able to dye.... picture the damp towels dangling from all vertical surfaces in the house, stacks of dye pots lined up on the stove-top....... and me hoping that I can try out "Otto" soon :-)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ssshhh, genius at work

It has been hectic here at Fiberwizard central. Rather like a duck... it all looks calm and serene on the surface, but we're paddling like hell underneath !
Knitting for the holidays continues, fiber dyeing goes on every single day almost, I continue to see clients at my office, K keeps the fiber orders shipping out each day, and delightful guests have come and gone (more about that sometime soon)... all in all, it has been a fabulous month.

Once again tonight , as we did on thanksgiving weekend, we are running on generator power. (as in, the wind has knocked down power lines all over our area, and we'll be lucky if we have power within a few days)...
The winds are whipping around at about 70 mph, it sounds like a freight train roaring by - and the great cedars (30 feet plus) are holding on for dear life. so far, so good. The weather forecasters are saying that the worst of the storm will hit in about 6 hours...... worse than this? yikes. I figured that I had best do a post now, and be safe.
Perhaps now is a good time to slip back in time a couple of weeks, and show you some of what went on in the thanksgiving weekend here at wizard central.......
I was fortunate to have my genius brother Peter visit with us over the long thanksgiving weekend. And he had been working for three months on a design for a fiber-drying system for our wet wool. It all began with him puzzling over how amazingly long it took to dry the superwash that I hand dye. (we're talking 3-5 days depending on the humidity out here)

Tah dah!!! may I present, "otto" (so dubbed by K, after much needed a name after all !) Oh... you wanted to see the whole thing?.. nah, you have to scroll to the end to see that, this is just my "power button" (cool eh - I feel totally in control here :-)

So here is the pictoral view.. I just cannot resist showing you, as it is brilliant. My brother Peter designed the entire thing. It is a fiber drying system for my hand dyed fiber. It has eight racks, and can hold about 16 pounds of wet fiber.
I simply cannot wait to try it out - but alas, out garage is not yet quite finished, and the weather (well, some of you have read about what we 've been having here) the weather currently stinks. I must wait until it gets above about 50 degrees to give "Otto" a whirl - and hopefully that will be soon!

Here's the beginning - notice the gorgeous weather
the design was perfect - the weather was holding... yet suddenly it began to get dark and look like this:
it quickly became darker and darker outside....
do you think that deterred the genius (my brother Pete ?nayh.. 'course not. he kept on working through the dark and the rain..

and eventually he worked thru the snow as well.....

BUT... "otto" was finished...... tah dah!!
So the fans blown the air up through the holes, thru the shelves, and out the top ducts, thus drying the fiber in record time- prettty clever, eh?!

I cannot wait to try him out. K kept on walking around that monday calling my brother "otto-man" .. heh heh, I know, it's silly, yet true. We have a rather goofy sense of humor here, but it works for us.

Three cheers to my brother Peter - designer extrodinaire - persevering through rain and sleet and snow. (I guess it's a good thing that I fed him well that weekend eh? ! :-)

All that hard work has me totally tuckered out - phew..... time to rest now. - Emily

Thursday, December 7, 2006

It's beginning to look alot like...

Christmas at our house.

My blogging buddy Carole collects snowmen - so do I. :-) These guys are part of my favorite Christmas things that only make an appearence this time of year. They grace the windows around the kitchen and living room (and surprisingly enough, the cats leave them alone)
Each year when I unpack them, I ooh and ahhh like a little kid - silly, yet true.

Another holiday tradition that my daughters and I began many years ago, is to hang snowflakes in the windows. We cut them out around thanksgiving, and they linger until February sometime. Each year we add a few to replace the ones that were torn or faded from the previous year. The really gorgeous ones were made by my oldest daughter, Erin (yeah, she's the artist). Everything that she touches seems to turn to magic. You can see some of the snowflake collection adorning the windows behind my snowmen.
Do you have little traditions like this in your family?
Please share.

And, since you came for a bit of knitting content - here's a couple more completed projects for holiday gifts:

Socks made from Satisfaction Sock Hop Yarn

and I finished the cabled fingerless gloves made from Louisa Harding silk-merino yarn. oo-la-la
A few of you have emailed me, asking for this pattern.......... alas, I am unable to share it. It is published pattern, written by Karen Alfke. (I only modify which cable design I am using) I took a class from Karen last January while attending Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, and it was fabulous. It is possible that your local yarn store could find a copy of it for you.

We finally got our Christmas tree inside last night - and hope to get it decorated later on today. And in the name of the holiday season, I will share with you one more thing.....I have one other little tiny tradition (that caused complete embarassment and giggles from my daughters when they were young...) I have a small collection of these:

and I can frequently be seen wearing them to the grocery store, post office and while shopping for gifts this time of year. jingle jingle.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Got myself a treat

I finally gave in and bought myself a special little treat: Sock Blockers - Leggy Creations.
Becky made these especially for me.
Didn't she do a nice job? !

Want to see the back? - yeah, I know you do :-)

Hop on over and give her a shout of praise - better yet, order some up for yourself! I had her make these nice and long in the leg part for me............... there might just be some knee socks in my future.

And on the Christmas knitting front, I finished another pair of socks. These are being modeled (ever so briefly) by K, and now are off into the wash, and being blocked. (He wasn't so sure he wanted to take them off, but I convinced him)
Colorway: Ain't No Mountain High Enough
size 1 needles
2 skeins
Pattern: Madder Rib by Nancy Bush

and now it's back off to more knitting and fiber dyeing for me. Have a lovely weekend.