Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ummmm....I Smell Like Wood Smoke!

Well, it was inevitable. We've finally declared war on the neighboring townships and seceded from Wisconsin. The war starts at 1PM. Actually, Mr. Bee and I went to a civil war reenactment camp in town this morning. It was really interesting and walking through the campfire smoke made my shirt smell like my family's camp in Maine. I may never wash the shirt again! Yum! Lots more pictures on the my new Flicker site....(Link on the left hand side of the page, Mum! )
There was a cool group representing the "Colored Regiments" in the war and two ladies were knitting (actually one was crocheting) with Red Heart yarn! Yikes. I got thinking about it and thought that maybe that would be a good home from my first homespun yarn. It's Lincoln; rough, minimally dyed and processed and more than a little amaturish. So I went home and got it and took it back to them. They were thrilled and anxious to get started on some knitting that was a little more authentic to their reenactment than turquoise acrylic! And I'll always remember that my first spinning wheel yarn was used for the Union Army in the Civil War!

I finished my Walk on the Wild Tide Socks. I'm really happy with the stitch pattern and will make sure and remember it when I knit with hand-dyed's in the future. It pops the individual colors out a little more.

Yesterday was Saturday knitting. Baxter's Mom and YarnThrower weren't able to make it but Elizabeth and Linda were there and a couple of other's I hadn't met yet, Rhonda from the UWH and Chris who popped in on the fly on her way to a movie. The company was delightful and the time just zoomed by. Everyone's projects were lovely. I had to 'unknit' a lot when I got home because I'm too interested in chatting and not interested enough in paying attention to my needles!

Off to the basement to get started on the photo quilt!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Quickie

Only have time for a quickie. Work is KILLING me this week. Looks like I may even have to work straight through the weekend to finish a mega project. In what little spare time I have I've been is a half a bobbin of singles (merino and silk)...

And working on my photo quilt. I fed a photo into the program which spit out a small chart which I hand transferred into this...You can't really see it, but it's 1"squares with numbers. A 1"block of a specific color goes on each space.
Here is a bad photo of my swatches. I picked the colors and put them on this worksheet and photocopied them. This removes the 'color' and lets you work with just the value. Then you arrange them from lightest to darkest, cut out a bazzillion 1" squares, organize them in a box with numbered cubbies and then lay them out on fusible interfacing that has been laid over the pattern. I know in theory what happens next, but I'm only at the cutting a bazzillion 1" squares phase now...
If you're local, be sure a mark your Calendars for next Friday October 5th. The Sow's Ear is having an Anniversary/Grand Opening Celebration/Knit Night with wine, munchies and a Customer Art Show. Be there or be a little 1" square!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Perfect Autumn Day with Friends

Yesterday we drove about 100 miles north to a friends' camp on Lake Roche-A-Cri. The weather was gorgeous. The scenery was stunning and of course the company was amazing as always. We are blessed with the most wonderful friends in the world and this particular couple has become more like family than just friends; comfortable, wonderful, insightful and funny. Here are photos of our fabulous day: (Click on them to make them larger. It's worth it!)

Indian Petroglyph Rock at Roche-A-Cri State Park

Little cave at Roche-A-Cri State Park (Does this look vaguely female and anatomical to anyone but us?)

Graffiti from the 1800's Petroglyphs (both carvings and red ochre)

Big Roche-A-Cri Lake

Big Roche-A-Cri Dam

More Rock Formations at Roche-A-Cri State Park

Camoflage Kitty
Looking from the dam

Thursday, September 20, 2007

This Just Off The Wheel!

This is a Merino top and silk blend. I spun it all one color at a time because I didn't know any better. Where was Dave Daniels when I needed him! So there are long repeats, but I like it. It hasn't been washed yet but I thought I'd show it off anyway! Off to quilt!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Photo Graph Quilts and Things That Go Beep In The Night

It was a looooooonnnnng night at Chez Bee. We went to bed about 10:45 and were reading when the power went out. A quick check out the windows proved that it was neighborhood wide. Mr. Bee decided to get the flashlight, go out to the garage, fish around in the glove box to find the cell phone and call MG&E to see what was going on. We quickly discovered that Bentley had never encountered a flashlight before and was terrified. He’s such a brave protector. Mr. Bee said that he hid behind his legs when a dry leaf skittered across the street on their walk this morning. Took 5 minutes to explain that flashlights are our friends which prompted him to stop being scared and start trying to catch the light circle like a lunatic.

MG&E’s automated message said that they hoped to have our power restored in two hours or so. Fine. We were just going to sleep anyway. We didn’t need light. Of course I was considerably sleepier before participating in the Flying Bentley Wallenda Light and Laser show but anyway... I got back under the covers and snuggled in. The sheep were approaching the fence, but hadn’t started to leap over yet so I could count them when…BEEP. What was that? Listen. Listen. Listen. Hmmm. Nothing I guess….BEEP! Crap! Turns out our smoke detectors are hardwired into the house and when the lights go out they think their batteries need to be replaced. So beepedy-beepedy-beep we went for the next hour or so until the lights finally came on. Then we were up again resetting clocks and alarms so that we would get to work on time today. So YAWN! Molly Bee needs a major nap. Or a coffee IV.

But I started a quilt project last night that I am excited about. It’s a quilted photograph pattern. I went to the Tammie Bowser lecture at the quilt expo and was amazed. I had seen her books before and they totally do not do the technique justice. She had quilts with her at the talk and I was in the front row (because I’m THAT girl). She held the quilt up and it was just little bitty squares of color. Then she started backing up and when she got a few feet away, the images just popped! Kind of like those 3D magic pictures. The premise is that the colors of the pixels in a photograph are not as important as the value. As long as you put the light, medium and darks in the right place, you will be able to see the image. I was VERY intrigued and impressed but held back on getting the programs and stuff until I researched it more. Those of you who know me, know how atypical this is of me. It was a proud moment.

I came home, downloaded the sample demo from her website and then ordered her first book from the library. I picked a photo of a toddler I know and ran it through the program and was amazed. The book came last night so I figured out how to transfer most of the pattern to a huge freezer paper grid. I hope to do the rest tonight and start cutting fabric on Thursday night. It’s 2,142 one inch square pieces of 24 different colors (8 lights, 8 mediums and 8 darks) fused to a piece of interfacing which is laid over the grid with your pattern on it and then flipped and sewn like a watercolor quilt. I’m hoping it turns out and I’m hoping that I can get it done by the Employee Art Show here in December. Now of course I am seeing photos everywhere I look that will translate. I never do anything half way!

Off to drag the coffee vending machine to my desk for easier access…..

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Quilt Expo and More Spinning

I went to Quilt Expo on Friday and guess what I bought? Lunch! Yup! That's it. I was sorely tempted to buy Tammie Bowser's quilted photograph software, but decided to be mature about it and try the shareware on her web to see if I like it before I go whole hog. Besides $10 to get in, $30 for three classes and $6 for a tiny slice of cheese pizza and a bottle of water for lunch and I thought I had spent enough.

This time around it seemed to be all about creative uses for charms-5 1/2 inch samples. It was interesting. Lot of stuff was interesting. But nothing really grabbed me other than the quilted photographs and the landscaping stuff. [By the way, if you were there on Friday, yes, that was yours truly destroying the set that Nancy Zieman (of Sewing with Nancy fame doncha know) and Natalie Sewell were setting up for their class. I had a bright idea about tacking cloth up on an easel that failed miserably and they made me come up on stage and try to fix it as it fell down around their ears. We basically geri-rigged it and ran gingerly away before it could topple again.]

This weekend has been all about spinning. I finished the Lincoln/Handspinning Mutt I got from Mo at Four Crows Farm. I dropped her an email and begged her to tell a poor newbie what the information on the label meant which she kindly did. I'm getting it slowly but surely. She invited me to go to her farm one day in October for a spin in. I really hope I can attend. Think of all of the knowledge in one room!

I started in on this...

this weekend and have it half spun up already! It's four oz. of merino top and silk. Oh. My. God. It's amazing. Off to go fondle it some more!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

So I rescued a tiny, little sparrow from the front of Mr. Bee's office yesterday. It was on the sidewalk with one wing dragging. He didn't even try to scoot or protest as I walked over to him. I scooped him up and got in the passenger seat of the car. Mr. Bee belted us in as I cooed at the poor sweetie. He sat perfectly still just blinking as we started out for the animal rehabilitator. So serene. So adorable. Just so Gosh. Darn. Cute.

Until we got on the highway.

As soon as we approached cruising altitude, he went absolutely POSTAL and threw a little birdy snit fit of Alfred Hitchcock-ean proportions. He literally turned from sweet, docile, little, 3-inch tall, Tweety into the Gargantuan Death Bird from Hell in the blink of an eye. He spent the next 7 excruciating miles furiously trying to drill his way through my palms with his tiny razor like beak. He scrambled. He pecked. He fluttered. He bored. He bit me and made me say bad words.
I went from cooing and cuddling to snarling and threatening to turn his little birdy bones into paste and hang his broken wing feathers from the rear view mirror.

We got him to the clinic and were met by the receptionist who gushed about what a cute little thing he was. I quickly thrust him into her hands mumbling something to the tune of "Cute little thing my BLEEP!" and skedaddled. (I did call later and they said that he would be fine and commented on him being a 'little feisty'. Yeah. In the same way that the Arctic Circle is a 'little chilly'.)

Even though I disinfected within an inch of my life afterward, I still have sting-ey holes, welts and red spots on both palms. Just my luck, try to be a good Samaritan and get the Bird Flu, or Little Birdy Feet and Beak Disease or whatever it is you can get from being nearly pecked to death by what basically amounted to a wee assassin with wings. It's not stopping me from spinning though. I really can't think of a scenario that would at this point other than traction or incarceration and even then I'd be eyeing the IV tubing or the fluff in my little thin prison mattress and thinking about it. I spent quite some time today talking myself out of collecting the milkweed fluff outside my office window and giving that a whirl. Hey! I totally get that saying now!

Off to the Quilt Expo tomorrow! If you see me, say "Howdy".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mabel and The Mystic Muskox

Mabel and I have been enjoying each other's company. I love the way she hums and whirls and turns ordinary fleece into yummy, yarny goodness. She appreciates the way I have stopped swearing at her, calling her bad names and insulting her mother. It's all good. Here is the first yarn we made together. Since I was just trying to get the rhythm and mechanics down, I didn't worry too much about thick and thin, schlubs or little bits of vegetation. I'm pretty happy with it for a first attempt. I learned a lot about how the machine works, fixing breaks and how much twist to put in. The fleece is wool from Moe Brown's Four Crow Farm. It's mostly natural brown color with little bits of pink and yellow tossed in for a flecking effect. I still have a couple skeins worth to spin up and then it's on to some of my brightly colored ones!

Please take a look at the close-up version of it. It's two ply. If any of you 'real spinners' out there spot any glaring rookie mistakes, please comment to me! (The fuzzy bit in the lower right is a piece of yarn I used to tie it.)

Most of the roving I bought are sheep's wool although some from Sandy's Palette has some tensel in it too. I did get a big wad of really nice merino top that feels like silk from Mielke's. It is natural so I can try my hand at dyeing my own. A little treat to look forward to after the holidays when the depths of winter despair comes on. When I get really good and reeeeaaaaaallllly need a treat, maybe I will invest in Qivuit. $40 an OUNCE! You have to be spinning-straw-into-gold good to mess with that! Musk ox are pretty cute though. I wonder if my neighborhood is zoned for them...hmmmm...Lord knows my furniture is covered with enough fur-baby hair so that I really don't need to buy roving again...EVER.
Below is a swatch for the 'Secret of the Stole' KAL I joined. I only wet and finger blocked it to see if I liked the needle size. It's not stretch blocked. I really like the yarn (Knit Picks Shadow-Oregon Coast color way) and the beads (size 6). I may go up a needle size though. Thank goodness for my Denise needle set so I don't have to purchase tons of different needles when I can't decide on the size! I especially liked that I didn't have to string all of the beads on the yarn before. That's too much wear and tear on lightweight lace yarn. There is a cool tutorial out there about knitting the stitch, taking it off the needle and then pulling it through your bead with a wee crochet hook and putting it back on the needle. Slickah than a cuppa custahd, Deah! Can't wait for the first clue on October 5th. I am determined to complete every clue in the time allotted before the next one is issued!

Things at Chez Bee have been same old same old. Homestead chores, furbaby maintenance and of course indoctrinating Mabel into our home has kept things pretty low key. Fall weather always brings out the cook in me though and I've decided to cook at least one new dish a week. Last week's experiment was a very successful fish chowder. Last night's wasn't bad-chicken pot pie. I stole Jerry's idea of creating a new web page for my recipes. It makes blog entries too long to post them here. I've put a link on the side of this blog called Molly Bee's Kitchen.
Bon Appetite !

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Meet Mabel Brett Jemaine

Meet Mable. She hales from the Jefferson County Sheep and Wool Festival although she was born in New Zealand where they know from sheep! (Her middle and last name are in honor of my favorite New Zealand folk duo, The Flight of The Concords). Mr. Bee bought her for me as a birthday present. She is a Baynes castle style Upright made from New Zealand hardwood. I am deeply in love. Can't say enough good things about the folks from Wool, Warp and Weft who gave me a lesson and sold her to me. Even threw in free lessons at their store down past Lake Geneva!

I also brought home a few balls of wool roving to run through her.

Mr. Bee surprised me by being a very enthusiastic color picker-outer.

Saw and hugged lots of animals. The only thing we didn't get to see was the herding dog trials. One lady said that they were going to herd baby ducks so it would have been a sight I'm sure. Kind of like me and my 15 'kids' at work. In fact I often refer to them as baby ducks on crack.

But here are some more pics of the fair in case you didn't get to go (click on 'em to make 'em bigger). Off to bond some more with Miss Mabel. *Bliss...sigh*

Friday, September 07, 2007

There's Something Fishy Going On...

I finished one of my 'Walk on the Wild Tide' socks. Wasn't just floundering around was I? Only took 2 days! I really like the pattern a lot. As written, you slip a stitch over two rows to make it pop. I did that on the leg, but on the top of the foot I did it for 3 rows to make it pop a little more since that's the part you can see in my new shoes. Wicked gaw-jus, Deah!

Sticking with the seaside theme, I made a wicked good fish chowder tonight. It was easy, delicious, had simple ingredients and made me homesick for Maine. If you'd like the recipe email me at mollybees at charter daht net and I will gladly send it to you. Yummy! Even Mr. Bee didn't do his usual carping about having soup for supper. Which is good because it makes a pretty good pot full so eel be eating it for a couple more days!

And in an effort keep plastic waste out of our lakes and oceans, (clever segue , no?) I have been shrimping and saving plastic bags that our Sunday paper comes in for a while now. I have quite a few. Here's what they look like all flattened out and neat like.

And here's one bag cut into a continuous thin strip and ready to be knit into the beginning of a tote bag! There something to the tuna 60 bags so I may be cutting for years and it may be a whale of a bag indeed! Holy Mackerel!
On that note, I'll be off before ya'll get crabby about all of the puns. Even though I put them all in there on porpoise! I'm going to walk Ben and make plans for the Sheep and Wool Festival before I think of some clever way to work the word turtle in.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sailor's Delight and A Walk on the Tide Side

Red sky at night, sailor's delight. The weatherman says that today is supposed to be the last day for a while that is hotter than the surface of the sun. I'm holding him to it. I know where he works if it turns out to be in the muggy 90°s again and I have to drive over there and find him and 'work it out'. The sunset seems to be backing him up tonight so we'll see. I'm ready for the cool crisp days of autumn. Have been since June actually.

I started knitting up some of my Socks That Rock yarn last night. The colorway is called "A Walk on the Tide Side". It's got a bit of just about every color in the spectrum in it. It was a little dark when I took the photos tonight. I'll wait for more light when I take a photo of the finished sock. The pattern is a cool one from my new favorite book "101 One Skein Wonders". It's a slip stitch rib pattern that really makes the different colors pop.

I am counting down the days until Saturday's Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson! How many opportunities does one get to watch border collies work, smooch and hug sheep (all the while 'thanking them' heart-felt-edly for the yarn. That's the part that REALLY embarrasses Mr. Bee) and buy woolie goodies all in one swell foop!?! Looks like Christmas is comin' early for Molly Bee! So if you see me be sure and say 'hi'. I'll be the short lady (with the tall hubby) laden with packages and covered with hay and sheep schmutz but smiling from ear to ear!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Photo Essay Of My Long Weekend

Decided on yarn for Secret of the Stole KAL.

Finished hand spinning my orange and yellow fleece from Sandy's Palette.

Finished purple Cascade Tulip socks
Bought some new Dansko shoes to display them in!

All and all a marvy weekend! Hope yours was too!