If you wish to follow me I’ve moved back to the “TwistedKnitser” Blog.  I’m not a fan of Word Press

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Looking forward….

I’m having a lot of “learning opportunities” with the somewhat simple lace cowl currently on the needles but resolving these little roadblocks is giving me lots of confidence to venture out to more challenging designs.  Each project has given me little tidbits of knitting knowledge and now its time to start swimming in the deep end of the pool of the fiber arts. I have some ideas that I hope to incorporate into some patterns and take others and manipulate them to my liking. More about that in a few minutes…

Those of you who have Ravelry accounts, do you go through periods of wanting to be inspired and start favoring patterns that either inspire you or that instantly go onto your “someday I want to knit that” list? I looked back at my history and it shows a definite pattern of inspiration in blocks.

The last few weeks I’m looking at more lace shawls and lace garments. One that has been on the list to knit for some time is the Triangular Summer Shawl seen here.  I plan to hand spin Cormo and leave it undyed. Lace weight spinning is becoming my favorite lately so why not enjoy the spinning and knitting this beautiful shawl with my own handspun? The next is the Myrtle cardigan, and maybe the Batik pullover.

Tonight was the latest inspirational nudge. This started a few months ago when I had the opportunity to watch a documentary on the Bohus Stickning.  Further stimulation from other knitters on Ravelry led me to read “Poems of Color” from cover to cover tonight.  I’m already planning to dye the fiber to match the number of colors and spin it to make one of these magical garments of my ancestors. I’m part Swedish and it felt natural to attempt one of these sweaters the more I read about it. The fact that the ladies responsible for creating these works of art held true to only using the finest materials in the finest gauge makes it even more desirable for me to attempt. I love the hand of a fine gauge knitted item. The patterns call for a 60/40 % Rambouillet & Angora blend.  The idea of knitting an adult sweater on size 1,2, and 3 needles I think separates the weak at heart if the color work doesn’t. I plan to knit a sample from the book Homespun Handknit called “Northern Lights“.  I will test the color choices that I plan to use and hopefully it will turn out to be a matching accessory for the eventual sweater. I have some high grade ultra merino and Cormo that may turn out to be the fiber depending on some test swatches. I feel lucky to have have so many choices of near skin soft fiber to chose from to make one of these stunning sweaters. It might just inspire me to make a second pattern in the fiber I don’t chose for the first. I begin to question, do I make the whole sweater blended wool/angora or just the colorwork? The fiber is uber soft already and the angora is added to give the halo on the yoke and to soften the wool but when the wool is already soft, should I make the body out of blended fiber too?  I guess the angora would even out any tension or short row blemishes in my technique. One downside to knitting such a fine gauge sweater. Usually I’m a stickler for being true to the pattern or technique but I already plan on using my own variation of colors so it is already not a true Bohus rather an inspired by Bohus Stickning.  I don’t plan on changing the color chart layout and I intend to keep the look so it will be easily recognizable as what inspired the design. For those of you who know the Bohus designs, imagine a “Purple Shimmer” or the “Large Lace Collar” in multiple hued mostly Purple, black and white tones over a white sweater body….

The last thing I was contemplating is a variation on the Hanami stole where I modify the pattern into a 5 or 6 panel skirt. I saw where someone made the stole into a wedding dress and it validated my thoughts although I wanted to make it shorter and in the skirt style as opposed to the dress. The stole is pretty but in a skirt it would be so light and airy made from a light gauge yarn.

These are the thoughts running through my head lately since the knitting and spinning bug is keeping me looking forward to new fiber projects.

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Some times you realize that the only limits you have are the ones you place on yourself.  Last Thursday, we drove out to Tammy & Scott’s new yarn shop that opened this last spring. This is the same lady who organized the knit group that met the day after the biggest blizzard last Winter. Soon after arriving at the shop. a young couple walked in and the lady sat down and introduced herself as Bethany and we were instantly inspired. Bethany’s hubby made sure she was ok and then he went to go do his thing and said he would come pick her up after the knit group. Bethany brought out her project and we all were in awe. She was knitting a round lace table cloth for her dinning table. She had some questions for the shop owner on how to pick up some dropped stitches near the point she was using DPNs (double pointed needles for you non knitters).  Bethany’s lace was just beautiful. As we talked I was just beyond inspired with how she see’s life. I struggle with some difficult patterns and I will admit I have been intimidated by some projects but I won’t be anymore since meeting Bethany. I haven’t mentioned yet that Bethany is visually impaired. I guess that’s the politically correct term for being blind. It was hard to wrap my head around the idea of knitting lace without being able to see what I’m doing. I can barely do simple stockinette stitch without peeking.  Susan looked at Bethany’s project and suggested that she could put a life line in above the dropped stitches and create a provisional cast on so you could reverse the pattern from there to repair the dropped stitch area. Within a few minutes the life line was there to protect the dropped stitches from going any further and Susan handed the project back to Bethany.
We wanted a picture of her knitting it and she laughed and said I cant knit it like this because you handed it to me backwards. I don’t even know how long it would take me to figure out if my project was backwards if I couldn’t see it.

The more we talked the more inspired she made me feel. She has her masters degree, she  teaches school for visually impaired and it just seems that she doesn’t let life intimidate her. We had a talk about what happens when you close your eyes and we all think it’s black, Bethany cant see colors so she said it’s void or something like that.  We sometimes take for granted what we have and she never thought about how hard it is because it’s all she knows.

I inquired if she was a spinner and she laughed and said she hadn’t thought about it yet. I talked to her about the book Spinning for speed and softness by Paula Simmons.
I described how in her book how Paula changed her spinning style to gain speed and softness after seeing a room full of blind spinners making perfect singles. We shared contact info I offered to teach her to spin if she ever wanted to learn.

here is my latest spinning project. Eight ounces of Rambouillet that I plan to Navajo ply. I bought the fiber from Jen AKA Moonlightbaker

More about what I’m reading and my knitting soon…..

Life is Good

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Sacred, Profane, Left – Write

Today’s post is a little different and hope it doesn’t bore you all to death. The Kindle has been feeding my mind late at night with a wide range of literature.  My current book is Sacred and Profane Love by Arnold Bennett.  Published in 1905….  The Story is written in the first person as the main character “Carlotta”. A young lady in her early 20’s living under the control of her rich Aunt who learns that the small town in England sheltered her from the real life that was outside her tiny 5 town hamlet. Like peeling back a veil and seing the beauty of the world around her and giving her the idea that questioning what she was taught was not always the truth. What caught my attention was her description of the music.  This quote really struck a chord with me…  “Art has to do with emotions, not with ideas and the great defect of literature is that it can only express emotions by means of ideas. What makes music the greatest of all the arts is that it can express emotions without ideas. Literature can appeal to the soul only through the mind. Music goes direct. Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate.”  Bennett, Arnold (2004-02-01). Sacred and Profane Love (Kindle Locations 339-341). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
I’m very passionate about music and reading this passage made me think of how music has touched my life and how it inspires me to see the world with a different vision.

The next item to ramble on about is my latest obsession.  LOL

While searching on the internet I stumbled across a site dedicated to people who love to write with fountain pens. Who-da thunk LOL  One trouble I had or so I thought was that I write left handed. Left hand + ink = smear. I have learned to write underhanded out of necessity and as I continued to research I discovered left handed fountain pens. I also discovered that their is overhanded and underhanded left handed writers.

Here is the pen I decided to try.

It’s a LAMY AL-Star Fountain Pen – Purple, Left-Handed Nib

I continued on and found a world of pen enthusiast like yarn-a-holics and music geeks. I watched youtube videos on Copperplate Italics and ventured down the path of the Spencer method and other old school handwriting learning systems  and discovered that so many people are losing the art of penmanship because they don’t use it anymore. Like a slippery slope I researched the paper many other enthusiest used when they wrote and then the multitude of inks and colors. Clairfontaine and Rhodia paper & J. Herbin La Perle des Encres Fountain Pen Ink from France were what I found to my liking. The paper is so smooth and the ink is so vibrant. I found out that you can get PURPLE ink…  I read that Enzo Ferrari to Napoleon Bonaparte to a Byzantine Emperor wrote in purple. Yes I love writing in purple, it’s so fun to see the words look so cheery. Here is a really bad cell phone pic of the pen the ink and a book on proper handwriting in steps. They actually have separate instructions for lefties instead of just trying to convert you to doing it right handed.

I  used to just think I couldn’t have good handwriting because I was left handed but it’s just being lazy and not practicing good form and technique. Like playing an instrument or getting even tension on your knitting or balanced yarn when you spin, it all takes practice.

I know I havent talked about music lately so here is what has been playing on the mp3 player.

  1. The Vaccines – What did you expect from the Vaccines
    A little poppy but the depth of the sound is like Phil Specter meets the Beach Boys
  2. Slackers – Wasted Days
    Ska is always good.
  3. Madness – Ultimate Collection
    Like I said, Ska is always good and this has lots of humor and meaning in the lyrics. I’m not one who usually buys best of CDs but I love every song on the disc and it was less than $5.00.  Oh and it has 19 songs on it instead of the typical 10 to 12 songs that the US record companies typically dispense.Life is Good 
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Is that a pain in my back or pain(s)? I prefer Pretty Things

Life has dealt me a few wild twist in the last month or so…

While on a little vacation, I had what seemed to be a slight back ache from sleeping on a poor excuse for a bed at a motel in Livingston Montana. As the day went on I realized it was much more and the pain kept getting worse. I pulled over and gave up the wheel after about 300 miles and knew we had a long day of driving still ahead of us. I thought I was having an attack of kidney stones.  We arrived in Rapid City SD and within 2 hours I was heading to the ER to find out I had a gall bladder that need to be removed but they wanted me to go home and have it removed. The doctors gave me a script for Vicodin to help with the ride. Nine hundred miles later we arrived home and that night I was back in the ER because the pain was getting worse. The next morning they removed the stone filled gall bladder and it was better but the pain was still very intense but they thought it would get better. A week later I was running a fever of 104 and off the the ER again. This was Sunday night and by 6:00 AM Monday, I find out I have five kidney stones distributed 2 on the left and three on the right side. The left was the serious side because the 7 mm stone was blocking the kidney and it was highly infected. By 5:00 PM the Urologist had me under general anesthesia again to insert a stent to prevent damage to my kidney. This was only a temporary fix to help my kidney become less inflamed so he could address the removal. One week later I went under general anesthesia again as he performed lithotripsy to break up the two large stones with sonic waves. About a week later I returned to the Urologist for the removal of the stent.  I’m sure some of you are thinking “T M I !” LOL

I’ve had kidney stones 5 times now and each time it seems to get worse but at least the pain of the gall bladder will never return. For those of you who have kidney stones, you know the pain. I would never wish this on anyone. A month ago I was miserable but now I feel almost normal again. I caught myself jogging in the grocery store yesterday and it felt good to feel good again.

Now, lets talk about something more uplifting. Not sure how many of you are watching the Tour de France, but I love to watch and live vicariously through the young men who dare to race the 21 days and 2,000 miles. Today was the first real day in the mountains before they get to the Pyrenees and the Alps. Many of you don’t know that I was once a competitive cyclist and at one time I aspired to compete in at least a National level but life gets in the way and while I was working and riding my bike 50 miles a day the people I was competing against were training instead of working at a job.  It was just a fun time in my life where I could feel good and watching the race brings back the fond memories of the field sprint or the pain as you climb that mountain and the exhilaration when you reach the summit.

There is some knitting to talk about too. I started a little project to kick start my knitting mojo.  It’s a lace cowl by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee: “Pretty Thing“. The charts are pretty simple so far and it’s only 67 rows long so it’s going to be finished quickly. Here is a picture of what it should look like when I’m finished.  (Picture is hers from Ravelry.)That’s all I have to say for now but I will try to get in the mood to write more often.

Life is Good

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Post Blizzard knit group

We have a new knit group here in the Quad cities. The first meeting was just three people, which included two ladies and myself. We had a blizzard the day before.  Little did I know that a local reporter was looking at the local goings on and found the meeting. A nice young lady reporter who also is a knitter brought her camera and conducted an interview of her captive audience. Here is the article . She also took video and lots of pictures. The power of the paper brought the people out in droves. The second meeting had the little coffee shop to standing room only. The third week, the group was held on two consecutive nights to accommodate the size. I had multiple inquiries from people about wanting to learn to spin.  I think back to what two of my spinning mentors shared and it inspired me to pay it forward. In essence they gave me these two nuggets; Pass on the love of spinning and share the passion of the fiber arts so the craft lives on. Thanks to Lori Lawson and Janel Laidman for giving me the gift that keeps giving……

We could barely get in the door.

On the 3rd meeting I brought the wheel and taught the owner of the coffee shop how to spin. Rob was a natural.

Go Rob!

What a wonderful group of ladies…  I met a lady who was 87 and she loved sharing stories about the countless baby blankets she made for all the children, grandchildren.  Cousins and extended family too. I hope I’m as sharp as she is when I reach that age.  The cool part was that her Daughter was learning to crochet the night we met.

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fall inspired fiber in mid winter

A few months ago I was giving some instruction on fiber dying to a fellow knitter and they asked if we could do something similar to the Morning surf scarf I spun in 2009. I took about 7 ounces of BFL and we dyed it up in the fall colors.

I divided the fiber into two groups and spun it very soft woolen style.

Merging the colors into a two ply yarn that should yield a very soft near skin scarf.

I just wanted to share a picture of the winter Wonderland taken from the porch a few weeks ago.

The soft snow is so pretty and taking walks in the very early morning when all you can hear is the sound of snow under your boots is magical.

My School life is plodding along well. I’m taking a business management class right now that feels very rudimentary, not complaining here. I didn’t know if i would enjoy the online classes but as long as you stay disciplined it’s quite easy. It has been interesting reading the postings from people who live all over the country in different stations in life. The viewpoints are as varied as the people. Every 6 weeks a new course is scheduled and I love being able to see my horizon while being able to work a little ahead if I decide to have a social life. Not having to sit in a class twice a week is very freeing.

Life is Good

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potpourri today

As a little change in the diet this year I’m fixing more veggies and less protein. Not that I’m going vegan or something that but just more healthy foods. Tonight I  fixed something I found at the grocery store on Sunday. I must say I lived in Southern Ca for 50 years and never saw these but maybe it was because I wasn’t looking for them.

Golden Beets…  Milder and sweet but very similar to the Red Beet . Just part of the meal tonight. The menu consisted of steamed carrots, steamed Brussels sprouts, red beets, golden beets, and baked Yukon gold potatoes. oh yes it was VERY good. I’m under 200 lbs for the first time in 20 years now and don’t plan to go back.

Last Summer I had a chance to visit Chicago since it’s only a few hours away. While there we had to navigate the city with street closures due to the filming of a movie. I’ve seen many street closures in Ca from all the filming that happened there.  Here is a pic we captured from the movie “Transformers 3”.

After I post this, I plan to spin some milk fiber for some baby clothes. The fiber is carded and already to spin.  Not dyed yet because the knitter who is commissioning this wants it white.

2 ounces of super soft milk fiber. If you haven’t spun or knit with it and you like the near skin soft fiber, you owe it to yourself to try it. Here is a link to the milk fiber info if you want to learn more. The test samples were hand carded after trying to spin from the top configuration. After knitting them up we washed and dried them. Yes, it’s machine washable and dryable without fear of felting. After it’s washed it resembles silk or Tencel and is just as soft. before it was washed it was stiff almost like soft hemp. I’ll post pics of the spun fiber when I finish it.

Life Is Good

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I’m back from the blog duldrums

Happy 2011 everyone.

I’m not going to make any New Years resolutions this year but I will share a few words that I’m trying to live by.  Safe, Complete, Clean, Desire and Trust.

Safe= in a good place emotionally and without fear of what the future holds.
Complete= To feel whole.
Clean= Life without clutter, physically & emotionally.
Desire= Staying hungry for life.
Trust= Live my life with integrity in all I do. Protecting those who rely on me.

I’m living in the Midwest now and made it into January of my first Winter. Snow is pretty but cold can be bitterly cold if you don’t prepare for it. I’ve learned that dressing properly makes the cold less offensive. Taking late night walks in the almost silent solitude before the roads are plowed. Looking forward to the Spring but just because I want to ride my motorcycle. Right now, I’m just enjoying the snow and embracing the season that until recently was foreign to me.

Last September I went back to school and am working towards a degree in project management but may change my major to logistics. The future looks bright and I’m not letting go before I move the tassel.

I received a really nice birthday gift last October and haven’t really taken advantage of it yet. That will change soon. Thank you again, it just seems like words don’t say what I feel. I hope my hand spun will be appreciated as much.
It’s a Pat Green Happy Hybrid drum carder. For those of you who know me from my “fiber life”, you know I’m a self proclaimed fiber snob and love the luxury fibers. This drum carder was the next best thing to a Supercarder without the Rolls Royce price tag. I researched for a long time and during my research this was introduced as a new product and it meets all of drum carding criteria. All I can say is that the fiber I carded exceeded all of my expectations. What an incredible piece of workmanship and functionality. The fine fiber blends and cards easily without fear of “neps’ and damage from stretching.

The Kindle has been less active recently and I’m not reading as much as I wish. Doing a little stretching in my life again. A few years ago I considered learning to write music and bought some “how to” books on composition and theory and finally pulled this out of the personal library.  It’s inspiring me to write or at least try to write. In the past I thought my songs would be romantic but I’ve learned that the emotion flows easier if I just let the thoughts happen without trying to direct the energy. No, I’m not trying to be a professional but I do want to capture my feelings in music that I create. Not sure I’ll ever share my music because that’s not my goal either. I’m looking at it like an audio diary of feelings.

Life is Good

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Clouds and Candies

Here is a pic taken last night of the Quad Cities SnB group.

Oh, I’m the guy hidden on the left side between the ladies.

As I was walking from the car the sky was just magical. It looked like the crimp in the fleece from a gray/black merino sheep.

I wanted to share what I found at the store tonight when I stopped to get some chicken breast.

I wanted some butterscotch candies and saw these soft drink inspired hard candies.  I’m a sucker for anything Dr. Pepper. I only picked up two each of the soft drink, they were very tasty 🙂

Off to do some fiber prep before bed.

Life Is Good

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