Frog or Finish and the love of skirts.

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I frogged a couple of things this weekend and suddenly I’m stocked back up on stitch markers and row counters! I love how that works.

Here’s a tip which I recommend (although haven’t instituted and found out the hard way) – organize your needles and cords before you begin frogging. Just sayin’.

Last night I spent an hour or so on the Bryn Mawr Skirt and it’s coming along nicely. I’m all about knitting skirts suddenly. The yarn I’m using for the Bryn Mawr is Berroco Vintage Chunky in a rich bright brown chestnut. (Yes, brown can be bright.)

The discovery of the day is five skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca – plus the knitted front and back of A Sweater I Will Not Wear in the same yarn.

I do believe this means I’ll have enough yarn for the Isobel Skirt from Interweave Winter 2010! There will be frogging of that sweater tonight. Everything will go in a nice new project bag with a copy of the pattern. See how organized I can be?

Here’s the Isobel Skirt.

Isobell Skirt

Yes, I realize I’m not that thin (and haven’t been in ummmm decades) but I think I can pull it off.

Looking at this pattern on Ravelry led me to remember the Claudia evilla skirt pattern that the Yarn Harlot blogged about some time back. Here’s a link.

I believe I can knit that with some of my Lost City Knits Wool Tussah Silk yarn and not in a multi-colored yarn but a near solid. The question is what colorway?

Of course once I have the skirts knit I’m going to need more knee socks…

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The Frog or Finish Challenge

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My friend Kat (one of the moderators of the Tulsa Ravelry forum) has challenged the Tulsa knitters to a “Sh%# or Get Off The Pot” September. The gist is that the people who accept the challenge go through their WIPs (works in progress) and either frog or finish.

That’s a mighty big challenge! I don’t know very many knitters who are completely monogamous, working on one project – start to finish – before casting on another. I’m sure they’re out there – I just think they’re a minority in the knitting world. Could be I’m just being defensive though.

Usually I have one to three active knitting projects in rotation. And… maybe five or six in various stages. Okay, maybe seven or eight. I deny any rumors of ten or more WIPs.

I have accepted Kat’s challenge. She’s a big enabler who likes to encourage her friends to cast on new projects. I think this is her balancing that “You can do it!” cheerleading. Of course it’s likely she may just have a need to clear out her own WIPs and wants some company.

First off – it’s wise to be honest about what is “active”.

1) The Burlesque Knee Socks are rocking along. I’ve almost finished the first one. They’re in the regular knitting bag. They get a lot of action, in fact, they’re further along than this photo.

2) There’s also the Bryn Mawr Skirt, which I haven’t even had a chance to blog about because it’s so new. I bought the yarn on Monday. It’s been a hectic week so I’ve only had a little time to knit on it, but on the drive to/from Tulsa for the market I managed to get almost all of the first ball of yarn (and it requires five) finished. That’s 20% complete!

3) Then there are the Lingerie Socks. They’re still “active” – sort of. I’m on the foot of the first sock and it requires quite a bit of attention. I’m still in love with them, but they’re too intense for me to work on right now.

I still haven’t cast on the Vest #20 but the yarn is in a baggie with the pattern. It’s safe from “frog or finish”.

4) In the back up knitting bag is my Cloisters Shawl. It’s gorgeous and I intend to finish it this fall or winter. It’s fairly mindless so it’ll be a good project to work on during down times and travel to/from festivals. I can stop in the middle of a row and still not lose my place.

5) There is also the sweater from hell, the Nonpariel. It’s really down to the sleeves and button band but call me bored to tears. After this much work I can’t frog it. It must be finished this fall/winter.

6) I have the big llama stole with horn beads on gigantic needles, it’s in rotation still and sees some love at least once a week. On the seat of the rocker is a good place to keep it visible. It probably just needs ten hours to finish.

Uh oh… that is six WIPs. I haven’t even delved into what exists in the bins or the cubbies. Oh and there’s that wicker basket beside the rocker….

This could get ugly.

More to come…

On Clear Creek

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Throughout history people have written stories about the significant impact bodies of water have on their lives, whether it’s from flood or from drought. Life here on Clear Creek is no different.

We don’t have water piped in from a city source or some lake miles away like urbanites. The well, a mere thirty-foot deep, is in our lower pasture just a few hundred feet away from the creek, and draws from a water table barely underneath the pasture. In the coldest weeks of winter we baby the well house with wrapped pipes and a small heater to keep the pump warm. If the power goes out in an ice storm – like it occasionally does– we heat the well house with constant burning of candles to keep the pump housing from freezing and cracking.

I can remember families I knew in my teens who had well water and it was a stinky oily or sulphury mess that permeated their skin, their clothes and their food. Our well here on Clear Creek provides clean fresh water that has a beautiful taste. Oh there are times when we’ve had a flood and the water is a little brown until the creek settles down again but in large, drinking water here is a treat – a chemical free treat.

Not only is the water a treat for us, but for the animals and wildlife that we share the farm with – the deer, the dragonflies, the birds, the beavers, the neighboring horse, the occasional wild boar, and even our dogs, something I’m reminded of when I reach to pet a happy, frolicking dog whose fur is slick and wet from splashing in the creek.

Living on the farm has taught me what a force our creek is in our lives. This summer, during the record heat wave and drought, I feel as if I’ve had one eye on the creek – scrutinizing the levels, watching what and who it will bring into our world. Always – the creek is a presence – a living, breathing, changing presence.

In a drought, like this summer, we fret and worry about our water consumption. We made a decision to stop watering our small crops early this year for fear of running our well dry. If you run out of water on a farm with a well it’s not so easy to find replacement water. There are always a half dozen or more gallons of water jugs in our laundry room, but that won’t last long if the well goes dry. These were precautionary measures, as neither the well nor our part of the creek has ever run dry, but this was an exceptional summer and we didn’t want to go without.

Early this summer when I posted the colorway Skinny Dipping as a Dyepot Special, the blue-green skeins had been inspired by morning treks to the swimming hole that exists just below where our house sets on a bluff above the creek. As the sun rose I would grab my summer robe, slide into my wellies, grab my Tevas and head out the door. Sometimes Tess the pup would join me, but often I went solo for my morning dip. With birds just starting their morning songs and daytime insects not quite roused I’d hike through the lower pasture to where it was easy to cross and walk through the shallow portions of the creek back downstream to the deep swimming hole. I’d switch from wellies to Tevas and stuff my robe into the boots to keep the crawling critters out of it and walk, shivering at first and then plunge into the cold water. Most of the time I’d tread water or simply stand, enjoying the little fish that kissed my skin, or listening and watching the birds as they began their morning gathering and songs. Occasionally a bigger fish would break the surface in the deepest depths to snap up an insect for breakfast. The lush colors of the trees, the grasses, the weeds, and of the water itself fed my soul. There were weeks when these were the only moments when my body felt completely cool and refreshed and sometimes the only moments my mind was at ease.

After posting the Skinny Dipping colorway that Monday morning the creek took on a different meaning for a few hours. Upstream where the creek crosses the blacktop there is a low water bridge that everyone just refers to as “the slab”. In the warm months this is a hang out for locals and people from nearby small towns. Rocks have been carted into a semi-circle creating a pool where kids and adults alike like to jump into the water and swim.

I’ll admit there are times when I curse the people who gather here for the disgusting amount of trash they leave behind. From time to time there have been barrels available for trash but even then the trash was strewn on the bank and in the weeds. Even odder are the times when people go to the trouble of bagging their trash and then leave the bags leaning against a tree. Who do they think will clean up after them? This isn’t a park with a maintenance crew. But also, who would deny the freshness of a cold swim on a 100 degree day? I know the beneficial effects of the creek and I cannot hold much of a grudge against these people who succumb to the lure of a free swim and bring carloads of kids to swim and play in the cold water.

On that Monday a family from nearby Wagoner loaded their truck with three boys and came to the slab. The boys, as boys are wont to do, decided to hike downstream. When dusk came and they hadn’t returned as directed, their parents became worried and began searching. We were seated at the table when truck lights pulled up to our house – it was the father searching for the missing boys after dark. Before long the volunteer fire truck was in our lower pasture flashing red and blue warning lights as a volunteer, perhaps pulled away from an evening with his family, shone a search light along the creek bed, while calling from a bullhorn for Cody, Dustin and Bubba to come toward the lights. Other volunteers walked from the slab all the way to our swimming hole with flashlights calling the boys names over and over.

For hours this went on. Chris walked down to the pasture. I stayed in the house hoping the boys might walk out of the woods, lost and looking for directions. Finally I heard one voice to another over walkie-talkies proclaim that the boys were safe. They’d somehow caught a ride home while both parents were searching. Relief resulted in laughter and head shaking. Chris, who’d returned to the house earlier, called out and offered a ride back to the fire station to the creek searchers below. They declined but told us to be careful in the creek, they’d seen plenty of snakes – cotton mouths – water moccasins.
Of course we know that there are snakes here, and we consider the creek a sort of time-share arrangement with them. They can have the nights as long as they vacate for my morning dip. However, the next morning I was too rattled to go for my morning dip. I’ve been back to the creek since, just to hike. I feel a little skittish now, like the personality of the creek has changed. It hasn’t I know. Mornings are still as pure and sweet down there despite my not being a witness the first heron flying or the size of the fish.

Snakes are not the only menace that a flowing creek can host. There are beavers in our creek. Not many, but occasionally I’ll spot a limb, cleaned of bark and with a slanted gnawed end, or maybe a young sapling with only a foot tall trunk that used to be ten feet. I say menace – which is a bad thing, I should say wildlife, for in truth the beavers and the snakes are at residents we agree to share our home with.

I’m not sure Tess the young dog is in agreement with the co-habitation of some of the wildlife. Sometimes she shows up in the morning with what have become her almost-routine wounds. Twice in the time since we found her on the dirt road she’s tangled with either wild boars or with a beaver. Not long after the Cody, Dustin, Bubba search we woke to barking in the creek below. Both dogs, Tess and Katie, had found something they were very excited about. We stepped onto the balcony and called for them. They weren’t willing to abandon whatever they had cornered. I stood on the balcony listening. Soon it became quiet after a big splash. I called the dogs again. Nothing.

It didn’t take long for us to throw on clothes and grab our boots. I wasn’t about to wait patiently to find out if my dog had lost a tussle with a wild animal. I couldn’t sit through breakfast and coffee waiting for her to show up this time. Once in the lower pasture we checked the spot where we can see the swimming hole and a downed sycamore tree. The barking had seemed to emanate from this area but the weeds and grass were too thick and the bank was too steep for us to make it to the creek. We called the dogs. Nothing. I told Chris we’d have to walk to the crossing and creek hike down like I did for skinny-dipping.

Just before we got to the crossing the sound of a rushing animal was behind me. Before I could turn around Tess was leaping and knocking against my right side. She does this when she’s happy and excited. I was flooded with relief and my fear of losing my favorite dog subsided into a mixture of joy and a desire to throttle her for frightening me.

Wounds from boars and beavers can appear somewhat similar. They usually have an entrance and an exit (as much as three or four inches apart) where either the tusk (if it’s a boar) or the teeth (if it’s a beaver) pierce the tissue of the wounded. A beaver wound though usually shows a bit of shaved skin just before the entrance wound. Tess has been lucky. Three trips to the veterinarian for stitching and drain tubes haven’t daunted her. Because both beavers and boars tend to be nocturnal we try to keep her inside at night. It’s not always possible, she’s a typical farm dog and feels it’s her duty to sniff, smell and see everything that’s going on in her domain – the farm.

We understand that we share the creek with wildlife, but sometimes other people are wilder than we appreciate. This week – this time as we were preparing dinner – a knock sounded at our door. A volunteer firefighter asked if we’d set the fire, to which Chris asked, “There’s a fire?” But the air outside clearly smelt of smoke, and we knew we had a problem. Chris and the firefighter drove down to the creek.

As the daughter and sister of a firefighter you can imagine I needed to see for myself what was going on. I made sure the gas on the stove was off and food was put in the refrigerator and then I pushed into my wellies, told the dogs to stay inside, and hightailed for the creek. One of the fire trucks was already in the lower pasture in the eastern corner near the creek and where an old crossing once was located.

The creek is low due to our dry summer and there are plenty of places where mounds of dry gravel stand mid-stream, left from the other extreme of flooding last April. Smack dab in the middle of the creek is a gravel beach with a downed tree and plenty of limbs – mostly smoldering when I arrive. This is clearly a case of arson – the trees wouldn’t spontaneously combust and there was no lightening. It’s likely that someone creek hiked down from the slab and thought a little fire might be fun.

I don’t understand this type of mischief (and it can be much more than mischief if the fire gets out of hand). The fire, though it was located in the middle of a creek, took a couple of hours from six firefighter’s lives. Ours is an all-volunteer fire department. Men and women devote their own time to train and learn how to combat fires and save lives while earning nothing – monetarily speaking – in return. All that the community asks (though it does not require) is that we contribute a small subscription fee to help pay for the fire fighting equipment.

For this effort, the Spring Valley Fire Department used the creek to supply water to a portable pump that was carried in. One of the firefighters said, “The creek never changes”. And in some ways he’s right but for me the creek changes dramatically. It’s full with rushing water or it’s dry, or somewhere in-between. A strong current can alter the path of the creek, taking out trees and eroding the bank. A full steady creek can host fish, dragonflies, damselflies, spiders, crawdads and more critters than I can name.

Chris’s parents and grandparents bought this farm forty years ago. I’m a relative newcomer of ten years. Maybe because of that I’m likely to over dramatize the impact this body of water has on my life. Maybe I’m still new to that impact. Whether it’s the kids who creek hike to find a good swimming hole, dogs who will always seek excitement, or knuckleheads who start a small fire – the creek plays a part.

I’ve heard this creek referred to as unremarkable. The creek that gives us water to drink. The creek that waters our crops. The creek that hosts wildlife. The creek that can douse a fire. The creek that cools our minds and our bodies. This small body of water is as important as the people who enjoy what it offers. If it were not here the chances are that we, and our predecessors, would not have settled here. We co-exist with Clear Creek.

Summer Tuesday Special August 23-25

“Wait! What’s with the name change – isn’t it supposed to be Summer MONDAY DYEPOT Special?

If you’re asking this question – you’re on to me. 

For this final (yes FINAL – Fall is coming!) SMDS, I’m doing a little something different. First – it’s not Monday. I wrestled Monday down, sat on its chest and gave Monday a firm talking to. Which included such statements as, “I’m claiming this day! It’s all about me! I don’t care what the calendar says – it’s my day!”

Then I proceeded to drive into Tulsa and have a day that was all about me. A spiffy new hair cut, an eyebrow waxing, some yarn shopping (more to come on that). I’m sure all of my readers will understand my delay with the Monday Special.

Just to throw another twist into the SMDS, on my way back to the farm I decided that this week I’d highlight Naked Yarn. Not one but two Naked Yarns! Below are two of our undyed (hence nakedness) Oklahoma Llama Yarns.

If you’ve not knit with llama before – here’s your chance to try it at a discount price. The llama is a cousin to the alpaca so you have some idea of what it is going to be like. I have llama yarns mill spun with 20% bamboo to cut down on a little bit of the halo (and shedding) and enhance the drape.  Both of these yarns come from llamas that belong to our farmers market manager who lives in Chelsea, Oklahoma. Lisa has been raising prize winning llamas for decades. I think you’ll like what Lisa and I have partnered up to bring you in the way of llama yarn.

Llama Lace Naked Yarn – 440 yds $25.50 (regular price $30)
A soft heathery gray/brown. This yarn is a great choice for an Autumn shawl.


Llama Sport Yarn 220 yds $25.50 (regular price $30)
A warm charcoal with a hint of brown undertones.


…………………

Thank you to everyone who has purchased yarn during the Summer Monday Dyepot Special! This has been great fun for me and hopefully for my customers as well.

There are a few new things coming on the Lost City Knits website in the coming weeks. Our fall festivals begin with the Arts Festival Oklahoma show the first weekend of September. While we won’t be on the farm but a few days at a time between shows during the coming three months I’ll keep yarn available on the website but we’ll have a new method of purchasing that will allow me to make sure I have the colorway you desire in stock before you make your payment through paypal. When I’m selling at a multi-day festival yarn can fly off the racks at an astonishing rate and I may not have a chance to dye more between shows. I don’t want my online customers to be disappointed if they purchase a colorway that has sold out so I’ll be checking stock and sending an invoice for yarn instead of using the Add to Cart button.

I plan to get as many of the colorways photographed as possible this week and next, including the new Sock Yarn. Edited to add – the new sock yarn is ready! Go here to see the colorways now available!

While it’s still hot out most days there is a nice hint of Autumn in the air here in Oklahoma. With the little bit of rain that we finally received (and I do mean little) the grass is less brown and crunchy and the lower pasture is green again. I’m not quite so worried about our water well going dry. Schools have started in Tulsa and surrounding colleges as well. I think the luna moths have had their last hooray too. Surely this signals a turn of the wheel, doesn’t it? While said wheel of seasons may groan and move sluggishly for another month it’s time to push forward for a bit of fall knitting. And if I’m not mistaken, some people have even begun their holiday knitting!

Happy soon-to-be Autumn everyone!

 

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Sometimes being the dyer is more difficult than one would think because you can alter the options.  I’ve decided to cast on the Lace Vest #20 from the Early Fall Vogue Knitting. I’m thinking Llama Lace for this one since I’m allergic to mohair. It could be a nice way to dress up jeans and a t-shirt. Don’t you agree?

The question is – what colorway? Initially I thought a nice simple natural brown/gray would be good. And it would. But as everyone who knows me knows – I wear a lot of brown and gray. My friend Cathy is always telling me to expand my options. Wear something bright.

So with that in mind I’m thinking maybe a yellow/gold llama lace. Or something more orangey.

I don’t have a photo of the orange but that gold is pretty.

Summer Monday Dyepot Special August 15-17

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This week the Summer Monday Dyepot Special was inspired by one of my favorite old fashioned flowers – the Dianthus, commonly called “pinks”. The lovely little flowers – if you grow the old fashioned variety – have a lovely fragrance.

Colorway Dianthus

Dianthus in Wool Tussah Silk Fingering Weight $21.25 (regularly $25) 400yds

Dianthus in Wool Tussah Silk Sport Weight $21.25 (regularly $25) 220 yds

Dianthus in Oak Barn Merino Lace Weight $25.50 (regularly $30) 100 yds

Startitis – the muse at play in my brain.

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I’ve got a seriously bad – or maybe it’s good – case of startitis going on. It’s hard for me to start new projects in the middle of autumn madness. From the first weekend in September through the rest of autumn we’re on the road going to festivals and shows. It’s best to have a few projects already on the needles and all the supplies gathered before we leave the farm. Or so I tell myself – it’s a convenient excuse I like to use.

The Burlesque Socks are going well. These are knit with the new Sock Yarn (which I hope to photograph and upload in the online shop this week). They’re dare I say “business in front – party in back” style socks. The front is plain stockinette but the back center is a * yo, slip one – knit2together – pass slipped stitch over, yo* on every third row. The increases and decreases occur on every third row as well. Primarily I’m doing that to avoid the need of a row counter because sometimes I’m lazy that way.

The “business” part is obvious – the “party” can be simply the eyelet created as a back seam – or – a nice satin ribbon laced through the eyelet to fake a corset type closure with the ribbon tied in a bow below the twisted rib cuff. I bought two widths of ribbon but think the half inch satin is going to look best. If I wanted extra pizzazz I can switch out for a wider ribbon though. I’m nearly at the heel already and am pretty jazzed.

Last week I had a strange little vision of something natural – organic – practically unplanned using larger needles. I pulled out some sport weight llama, size 15US wooden needles (kind of surprised I had those aren’t you?), some handspun and a multitude of miscellaneous other llama yarns. All of the yarns are natural and undyed. All are soft and drape beautifully. Part of this was inspired by the incredible horn beads I bought last week at the Bead Merchant in Tulsa. I like what I’m getting so far. Vastly different than my usual knitting it feeds me in a raw kind of way. There will be fringe – there will be jumbo sized beads – there will be…I don’t know what!

Today we drove into town for a late breakfast at Blue Dome Diner. I needed a mom fix with my girl. After french toast (I love a place that heats up the syrup just like I do at home) and black coffee we drove to the bookstore for a little browsing. I picked up a copy of the new Vogue Knitting. Dang if there weren’t several patterns that I’d like to knit. This issue is dedicated to mohair but since I have an allergy and have to avoid mohair I’m thinking a nice skein of fine lace weight llama would do well for the Lace Vest (page 65) or for the Lace Jacket (page 67).

Lace Vest photo stolen from VK
Lace Jacket – photo stolen from VK

And wouldn’t Hillarey look great in either of the two mohair dresses in the Magical Mohair contest? (pages 50 & 54 respectively) Of course they’d have to be in something other than mohair and absolutely not in white. Maybe dark gray?

Winner of Magical Mohair Contest photo stolen from VK
Runner up of Magical Mohair Contest photo stolen from VK

While the designer of the second dress above is besotted with love of the bobble – I think the tunic style would be better without them. I wonder if a little shibori style of blocking the fabric over small rubber balls would give it a less fussy look? Hillarey is not of the fussy persuasion. Perhaps it’d look nice over black tights if knit in gray with shibori texture and the bow was nixed. Hmmm

I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoy these runs of the creative muse through my thoughts. It’s a sure sign that the summer drought of inspiration is about over.

Where do you see creativity taking you this fall?

…………….
I want to give a great big thank you to Elizabeth and the knitters who showed up at Stringtown in Ft Smith yesterday who made Chris and I feel so welcome and appreciated. I think a good time was had by all. 
We’ll be back to Arkansas before long at both the War Eagle Fair and the Arkansas Fiber Extravaganza. See you then!