Monday, March 26, 2007

Sweet Spring Spinning

Today started with early morning thunder and lightning, (I love a good storm during the night.....) but the storm had passed by the time I got up. It turned out to be a beautiful, very warm March day. It was a record breaking 81, which is WAY more than the 48 that is average for this time of year!

I had some errands to run this afternoon and each time I got out of my car or came out of the store or the school, I was shocked by how warm it was, since it was such a sudden warm-up rather than a more gradual one.

After dinner, as the sun started to fall in the west, it shone on my front porch. I grabbed my wheel (which I have finally given the name of Ella) and took her outside for about 30 minutes of spinning in the fresh air and sunshine.

I can see many more hours in the future, Ella and I on the porch, doin' our thing.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who's representing in Ann Arbor next weekend?

I keep checking Stephanie/Yarn Harlot's blog to see if she's written about the big event in NYC on Thursday but who knows when she'll get around to giving us the full story. I just read all the comments, clicked on links to blogs that belong to people who were lucky enough to be there.

If you don't know about "representing", go read the Feb. 16th post on Steph's blog.

It's only a week until Stephanie comes to Michigan. I went last year and I will go again this year. What a blast. I need to get a pair of socks on the needles to take with me.

Give a shout out if you'll be there, and we can say HEY to each other.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Happy Spring!

Finally, the first day of spring!
Ok, technically not until later today.... not the first FULL day of spring.....

Soon, things in Michigan will be in bloom.

Well, we can hope....
there could still be more wintry weather looming in April...

Having the last name "Bloom" lets me find many things with that word on it.
Here are a few of the things I've gathered.

Many have been gifts from my sister who makes a point of
finding bloomin' gifts for me!

This set graces my mantel every spring:*********
This sign is in our 'garden themed' bathroom.

I thought it was appropriate to see as we step out of the shower :-)

This cute little ducky is also a springtime decoration in our living room.
He brings orange jelly beans!

A garden stake.... Or what I might say to my husband if he's in the doghouse :-)

This year's Valentine's Day flag: ********
This sign is in our entryway:
Bloom wine!
I'll plant something in this little flower pot soon
Also a flower pot, put into use for pens/pencils for many years now

Sweatshirt from Bloomindales
Keychain from my friend, Maria

If spring weather has not arrived in your neck of the woods quite yet, I hope it shows up soon. It was well into January when we finally felt it was winter here, so it wasn't a long winter, but it sure was cold, and I'm SO READY for
Bloomin' Spring!!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

If you never hear from me again....

It'll be because I've been sucked down into the quagmire that is the dirt (MUD) road from my house to the pavement. We've had a couple of really warm days, causing a thaw that is too fast for our road to adapt. If the thaw is slow, the water (melting snow) has a chance to slowly dissipate. Right now it is mixing with the dirt and every time someone drives down it, the mud layer gets deeper and deeper. The frozen ground is way underneath now, and it is becoming treacherous.

I drove Kaitlyn to the corner to catch the bus this morning, because there truly is nowhere to walk. I nearly got stuck on my way back home. I hopped back into bed to catch about another hour's worth of sleep, and actually dreamed that my car got stuck in the middle of the road. Then I drove Jake to the corner and it definitely gets worse every time I go through.

It's bad enough when there are big pot holes to contend with. You just go slow. But it's gone beyond that. You CAN'T go slow, because you will sink. I just have to gun it and hope I make it through. Oh, my poor mud-covered Yarnbox....when will I ever see your beautiful green paint again?

(ps...the year we found this house, there was a similar situation. We looked at the house for the first time in March. Everyone who lives on this road had to park their cars at the corner and walk to the houses...the road was impassable. So we did the same. Parked our car. Our realtor parked his car. We donned our boots. We hiked through the mud to look at the house. We bought it anyway. This is the first time it has been that bad again in the 14 years we've lived here. I do NOT want to have to park my car at the corner, but I fear that may be what's in store. I am actually hoping for some sub-freezing weather again so the mud will freeze/harden enough to drive ON it again, not IN it. UGH)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

25 Slick Tricks with Candace

On Monday I went with my knitting buddies Sharon and Kim up to Lexington for a workshop with Candace Eisner Strick. The workshop was arranged for Sharon's knitting guild. Kim and I were the only "outsiders" there. The rest were all from the guild.

It was an all-day workshop, starting at 9am and running til 4pm. We had about an hour for lunch, which was potluck, provided by the guild. What a yummy array of foods. There definitely was a LOT of food.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I can't show you pictures of Candace, her lovely kits and samples, the guild, the food, etc. Please do check out her website though. She has some very unique designs, and the "Merging Colors" yarns are incredible. The yarn is soooo soft and the way the colors blend together in the garments is magical. She had all of the samples that are on her website there for us to fondle and drool over.

Candace is a great teacher, and quite entertaining as well. The day flew by and it was quite a nice experience.

A good many of the 25 Slick Tricks I already knew. There were also techniques I had done before but managed to brush up my skills on those a bit. Still others were shown with a slight change from how I was used to doing them. I did manage to learn a few brand new (to me) things that I will definitely put to good use in my knitting future.

Latvian Braids (very cool)
Invisible Cast On for Ribbing (equally cool)
The One-Row Buttonhole (better than the gaping Two-Row Buttonhole)
Knitting in your loose ends as you go
Converting bind off shoulder shaping to short row shaping to eliminate "stair steps"
Binding off over cables

New Sock Pix!!

The first ones are my "blizzard" socks. I try to have socks going when I am travelling, and name them for the situation or place where I was knitting them. These are Koigu. Toe Up (Queen Kahuna style) with a ribbing that I made up because I couldn't get the Melanie's Twist pattern to work out and I got frustrated.

The second pair are my "lodge" socks that I started almost a year ago when we went to the Great Wolf Lodge for spring break. These have an after-thought heel. It was my first attempt at the ATH and truthfully I am not all that thrilled with the way these socks fit. They are definitely cute (LOVE Trekking!) but having not done ATH before, I was afraid to finish them up, not knowing if they were going to be "right" or not. I decided before I left for Diane's to just kitchener those heels and get them off the needles. I think you can see from the photo that there is too much heel. At one point, I may redo the heels (that's the whole point of making them after-thought, right? So you can replace them if you need to) For now I'll live with them. I definitely learned something about ATH socks. And what I need to do to make the next pair better if/when I decide to use that heel again.

Trish, Diane and Becky's Excellent Adventure

I've been back from my visiting my sister for over a week and am finally getting around to writing this post. I've been busy catching up, and I've been sick. I'm still sick...and I'm sick of being sick! ICK!

So, here's the adventure...

On Tuesday Feb. 20 I arrived in Omaha where I was met by Diane and we started our drive back to Vermillion, SD where she lives. We stopped along the way to have some dinner. Before going to the house, we stopped at Diane's friend Sophia's house. Sophia is the one who lent me a spinning wheel while I was there. She lent me her Ashford Joy. Of course now I want to have a folding wheel. I really enjoyed spinning on that wheel, and I can see where it would be very convenient to have a wheel I could pack up in its carrying case and take along. Maybe camping. I can picture myself in the evening, sitting under the awning by the trailer, spinning away.

We visited with Sophia for a while and finally got to the house. Diane and Becky showed me all the things they've done to the house in the 2 years since I've been there, and Diane showed me some of the things she's knit that I hadn't seen yet. Then Diane says "Sit down...I have something to tell you". I was a little perplexed and curious...she had a piece of paper in her hands. She told me she wanted to wait until Thursday morning and tape this paper to the bathroom mirror and surprise me, but since I had so many plans for what I wanted to do while I was there (spin spin spin, work on my new pattern, work on my website, knit, etc) that she thought they should tell me so I could spend my time there wisely before we left.

Yep, we were going on a road trip. The paper said "Pack an overnight bag...we're going here!" And then there was a picture from the Brown Sheep Co. website.

Now, several weeks before I even knew I was going to Diane's, she said..."You know, the next time you come to visit, we should go out to Brown Sheep's factory." At which point I got on Mapquest and found out it was a 9-hour drive from her house. I basically wrote off the idea, thinking it was not going to happen....being that far away.

Well Diane and Becky had decided that we were going on this adventure anyway. They made hotel reservations, called Brown Sheep about getting a tour, and so it was all set. We were going!

Wednesday Diane and Becky both had to work, so I basically spun all day long. Diane and I had ordered some beautiful hand-dyed Targhee top from Spinny Bunny. I was going to spin the color she ordered, since she's not a spinner. So I got started on that.

Later that evening I spun a single of some natural roving she had (unfortunately she doesn't have any clue what kind it was...I wish I knew because it was some AWESOME roving) and I plied it together with some novelty yarn that she didn't know what she was going to do with. It turned out really cool, and I think she'll probably make a scarf with it.

Thursday I got some things together for the trip...packed the cooler and gathered whatever we needed. Becky came home, we loaded the car, picked up Diane from work, and started our trip. We drove about 1/2 way to Brown Sheep, and stopped for the night.
Before we left, we became aware that there might be some weather issues while we were gone, but at the time, the storm was just forming and we decided to take our chances.

Now, mind you, before I left home, I asked Diane what kind of clothes I should bring, and what kind of jacket, etc. She told me it was going to be around 50, not to bring a winter coat. "Just bring layers" she said. So I had no winter coat. No hat, gloves, scarf, boots. I had a nylon windbreaker, a sweatshirt, some long and short sleeved shirts. Walking shoes and clogs.

Keep this all in mind as this adventure unfolds....
Friday morning we got up and drove the rest of the way out to Brown Sheep. On the way we saw Chimney Rock. We thought we might come back to check it out up close, but that didn't end up happening. We got to Brown Sheep right around 11am. The factory doesn't run full production on Fridays, plus they close the factory at noon on Fridays. So while we didn't get to see a lot of the machines running, we were taken around and given a great tour by Sherry. It was very interesting to see, and to hear the history of the company, etc. When we were done with the tour, we went to the little outlet store, but before we got very far into our shopping, we realized we were starving! So we asked for a recommendation for lunch.
We were led to a great place in town that was in a little bungalow house remodeled to be a restaurant. The atmosphere was very nice....artsy...and the menu was superb. We went back to shop some more. Mr. and Mrs. Brown were there in the shop and it was an honor to meet them!
Diane got a quite a bit of yarn, but I didn't end up buying much. I got a case for my circular needles that has the Brown Sheep logo embroidered on it. I got a few skeins of sock yarn. I picked up some Cotton Fleece for a friend, and some roving for another friend. I still have so much stash from when the store I worked at closed. I couldn't justify buying a bunch more yarn, no matter how good the prices were! We ended up leaving there about 4:30 I think.
Meanwhile, we are hearing stories of the weather that is brewing. It was starting to sound kind of ominous...the "two-headed" storm that was forming. People were telling us "don't go east" and "don't go north". Well, we had to go east AND north. We pondered our strategy. Originally the plan was to stay Friday night out in western Nebraska by Brown Sheep and drive all the way back on Saturday. But because of the storm, we decided to try to get as much driving done on Friday night so we didn't have as far to drive on Saturday when the storm was supposed to hit.

There was much discussion on which route to take. Coming over, we had taken the interstate across Nebraska. It was a quicker route, though it was a much longer distance. If we went the shorter route, we would be on 2-lane roads through very small towns, rather than be on the more heavily travelled interstate. Eventually it was decided we would take the shorter route to the north.
We drove until about 9:30 Friday night and stopped for the night. We passed through towns with populations of under 100 people, some with populations of under 20!!! We were definitely in the sticks! We got up Saturday morning and by the time we left about 1/2 hour later, a light snow was just starting to fall.

It picked up, and within about 2 hours we were smack dab in the middle of a blizzard. The snow was coming down fast and furious. The wind was blowing like crazy. We couldn't see 3 feet in front of us. We couldn't see the road. There was hardly anyone else out in these conditions, so no tire tracks to follow. It was about every 20 minutes that another (big diesel pickem-up truck) vehicle would go by. We were out there virtually alone. It was not looking good.

Then we spotted this sign. We agreed that even in these conditions, we HAD to turn around and get a picture of the sign (specifically for the blog post, if nothing else!)

We were doing a bit of slip-sliding away and eventually got to the town of Ainsworth. This was a "real" town. There were gas stations and restaurants and yes, even hotels. We stopped for gas, and also picked up some emergency items such as jerky, cheese sticks, almonds, water, etc.

Personally, I would have been quite happy to stop right then and there and wait out the storm. I was pretty scared to get back on the road. I was too scared to even knit! My eyes were glued to the road the whole time. I have no idea how much snow had fallen at this time. I just know it was coming down hard, and blowing/drifting like crazy.

At the gas station we were told that further east it was a little warmer and the roads were better, so we decided to go on. I told Diane that before we left, we should call someone, let them know where we were, what route we were taking, etc....just in case. No one really knew where we were and if we fell off the side of the road and got stuck, no one would know where to look for us. The ordeal of James Kim kept flashing through my mind.

So on we went.....

(keep in mind....I have no boots, no hat, no scarf, no gloves, no winter coat) HOWEVER...we now have a LOT of wool in the back end of the vehicle! And crazy as it seems, when we were at Brown Sheep the day before, it WAS about 50 degrees. See? I'm in a t-shirt.

The roads eventually did get better. It was slightly warmer and so the roads were more slushy and there was more traction. The snow eased up a bit and we had several hours of "ok" driving. Then as we got close to Yankton, SD, it started coming down heavy again. We got stuck one car behind a snow plow, and I think that it was a good thing to be behind it than in front of it. We ended up following the snowplow the entire way into Vermillion (at 20 mph). There was about 4-5" when we pulled in, and I think we got back just in time. It was still snowing very heavily, and by the time Sunday morning came, there was 10"-12" out there! And it was the day I was supposed to go home.
We decided that trying to drive the 2 hours to Omaha in this weather would NOT be fun. And since the airline was offering a "weather waiver" for changing flights without a penalty, I ended up staying an extra day (Yeah!) and left on Monday. By then the roads were perfectly dry.

Turns out that on Saturday they had closed 270 miles of the interstate that we contemplated taking, so we could have gotten stranded if we had gone that way too. I have a feeling we would have been through that area before it closed, but I'm not sure.

So, it turned out ok, but it was pretty scary for a while there!
The trip turned out to be 1115 miles from start to finish. Yikes! It was a big chunk of the time I had to spend with Diane, but I have a feeling that if we hadn't gone when we probably would have never happened.

Here are the other Targhee tops we got from Susan at They are awesome. The colors are great and I am really enjoying spinning them. I am able to spin this yarn really thin. Diane is going to end up with a lot of yardage from the Clematis Vine colorway she ordered (above). She wants to knit a Clapotis with hers. These colors are Tamarack & Spruce, and Roses For You. Pretty, yes? I'm so glad I was introduced to Targhee fiber through my spinning teacher at Threadbear. It is a wonderful wool and I know I will be spinning lots more!

While I was at Diane's, I started with a cough. Luckily I didn't really feel sick while I was there, I was just annoyed by the cough. By the time I got home I could tell it was turning into full blown bronchitis. I get bronchitis a lot, so I know the routine. I got to the clinic and got some drugs. Once I was done with the antibiotics, I started getting a stuffy nose, and the sneezing started. The cough has not yet cleared up. I am a mess! I just want to feel better!

Monday I had a knitting adventure that I will write about tomorrow. And I'll show pix of the socks I started while on our adventure. I actually got to knit on the plane coming home too, so I made lots of progress and had them finished in just over a week. That's pretty good for me.