Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You Found WHAT!? WHERE!?

As you can see there's been another small lapse in my blog posts.  For a good cause I may add.  It all started when my husband and I were having one of those conversations that turned into a debate and the horrible "C" word was thrown out at me.  Yep ladies(and gents in fairness), you guessed it...the word "CLEAN" (what else were you thinking?).  Our house was starting to look like something off of hoarders.  Not that we hoard anything, or meanfully try to.  When you have small tots, you're playing with them and ooops, someone found a pair of scissors or a fresh cup of coffee. They get placed up out of reach and playtime is resumed.  Well, after months of it clutter starts to stack up in high places.  For years I had been nagging my husband about a bookshelf (well a wall of bookshelves).  A little over a year ago we finally got them and I proudly placed my books on them.  Until this past weekend if someone were to stop by I had wished I had curtains over my bookshelves so they would become hidden from view.  They were a catch all for everything.  Not to mention I have been pestering my 11 year old son, Zeke, to clean his room for what seems like two years now and mine looked like a tornado ran through it.  I had lost about 60 lbs since before I was even pregnant from my second son so there were piles of clothes that were too big.  There were piles of maternity clothes that go from sister to sister when she's expecting.  There were clothes my kids had outgrown or hand me downs they had not grown into yet.  My husband had a plethora of band t-shirts that he felt were too juvenile at his age but he didn't want to part with.  All of that, and then some got done this weekend.  No blood was lost, no lives taken.  Everything was taken back down to being simple and tasteful.  I have an eclectic taste and have all kinds of things placed everywhere so it was hard parting with a lot of furniture and nick knacks.  Thankfully, the new found functionality takes all.

Back:  Jacobs wool before cleaning
Front: Jacobs wool after cleaning
I'm just glad there weren't too many surprises.  Kids love to hide things in odd places.  It took us all weekend to find our Wii remote that Danny (my 18 month old) lovingly shoved in his play kitchen stove.  We found candy from who knows which child shoved between books.  Medical ID bracelets from when we had to take Danny to the ER from a high fever (he was actually seizuring) that we couldn't bring down.  We even found some tablets used for high school and college homework.  I think my favorite find of all was this hippy single shoulder bag I had from when I was in high school.  Not so much the bag but inside I found a small bag of puppy food from when our pit, Sable, was a puppy.  I used to bring her to work with me.  In there was also one of those fine toothed pet combs that had never been used because her hair was so short.  I had been trying to find something to help me clean out vegetable matter out of raw wool in order to spin and couldn't find anything fine toothed enough.  So although this may seem silly to you, it was a treasure to me!  I still have about two pounds of Jacobs raw wool wrapped tightly in a garbage bag stashed inside one of those wooden porch bench/toy box deals.  It was the scariest thing ever when I got it in the mail.  It didn't look anything like the picture.  It was matted with urine and feces and clumped together.  There were whole dead bug carcasses and carcasses of bug butts, like cockroaches.  I don't know much about cockroaches as I've never seen a real one but I guess the eggs are carried in the rear and the rear breaks off with the eggs in it or something to that effect.  Well, you get the idea.  Just as I was about ready to dump it out so I could go through it better a large, giant, millipede crawled to the top to meet me.  So, that's why it's still sitting outside since October.  I did get enough courage to clean a little of it to see if it's even worth cleaning. As you can see from the pictures it did clean up very nicely.  I think I may keep it around to practice some techniques with and maybe make some felted mats for the doggie out of.  This was my first and only run in with raw wool and I have no clue if that is the norm.  The raw alpaca I got from my aunt seemed like it could have been eaten off of compared to this stuff.  Alas, alpaca doesn't have the lanolin in it either so I imagine raw wool in that shape is normal.

See, I got this far!
I guess I should be moving on to other things now.  I have my shop scheduled to have a showcase promotion this weekend and planned to have a lot of different things ready by then which probably won't be happening.  I've been caught up lately at working on my knitting cable technique.  Not that I can't cable knit, but try it with an 18 month old running around and every time you get up and leave it lay he decides he needs to "help out".  So I guess you can say it's more of a "retrain myself to get through a cable knitted project and not let the kids get to it" state of mind.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Snow Day and Another Listing

Mobius Cowl - 100% Mernio Wool, Handknit, Hand Spun and Hand Dyed
 Just want to let those of you who are reading this know I am still blogging! I know I haven't had a post in a few days. I really wish I had some great story to go with as to why I don't, but I don't. Maybe because of weather and MLK day this week, my eldest has only been in school two days this week? Yeah, I'll go with that one. As you can see from my status bar, I've made some progress and have had some failures. The chunky cowl was completely scrapped. I did not like the way it looked without being knitted on over sized circular needles (something I need to invest in). However, I did get a new cowl finished that I have listed. I have recently learned how to link the pictures if I need to, so if there is anything here that winds up in the shop you can find out by clicking on the pictures.

As I type this now, another storm has reached us! My eldest does not have school today. I'm sure he'll be excited to know once he actually crawls out of bed. Ahh, memories of snow days. I would remember laying in bed all night too tired to look out the window at the storms progress. I would try to gauge how much snow we got by holding my breath when the snow plow truck drove by so I could hear the amount of snow it's pushing around better. Although I did this often, it was never an accurate calculation. Every time my parents came up and down the stairs seemed like they were taunting us with the inevitable question, "Do we have school or was it cancelled?". The anger when we would find out school will go on as normal that day. We would curse out of earshot with juvenile words pointed at the bus drivers, principal and superintendent (whoever we thought made the final decision). We would question their intelligence because even though we did not have drivers licenses, we knew we had made the more responsible decision. On the other hand, jubilation when we had gained an extra day to ourselves! We felt like we had gambled against the system and won.

The Snowfall Very Early This Morning
An extra snow day meant a lot of things for me and my siblings as a kid. Of course the first is sleeping in. Just the fact that we could lie around in bed and actually wake up BEFORE we rolled out was great. Did you ever notice though, it's much easier to get out of bed early on a cancelled day than it is on a school day? I guarantee right now my eldest, Zeke, is laying in bed wondering each time I go upstairs to get something for the baby, if I'm working my way to waking him up. Today he will find out that is not the case. After we were up we would eat our breakfast and gear up to go play outside. We would meticulously bundle ourselves to ensure we would not get snow in our boots, up or sleeves, down our neck or get cold in any way. Even if this meant sifting through the cupboards and finding plastic bags (usually bread bags) to line our boots with. It was not because our boots were in poor condition but to guarantee once we got our snow fort built we wouldn't have to come back inside to warm up before we got a chance to play in it. We knew when we did come back inside there would be a snack of hot chocolate and peanut butter and fluff waiting for us. It doesn't sound like much but my mom is a great mom and knows that kind of stuff isn't good for a regular diet. If it was before Christmas, my mom would bring out a tub of felt sheets, glitter, rick rack, magnets, and other odds and ends for us to make Christmas ornaments while we had our snow day snacks.  If it was after Christmas we would work on our craft items that we had gotten for Christmas.  Like pot holder looms, woodburning kits, etc.  On the really special snow days, by the evening a fresh batch of home made vanilla ice cream was waiting for dessert. Not too many things in this world can beat the taste of home made ice cream.

As a mom I love snow days. Not because I don't have to wake up early. I'm always up early anyway. I like knowing Zeke is in bed, warm and comfortable. Catching up on good sleep. It's a nice slow paced morning. I can enjoy my coffee and catch up on the things I need to get done without cutting into the kiddo's time or keeping an eye out for the bus if Zeke is dragging his feet getting ready. Having all my kids home for the entire day and enjoying the extra playtime.

My youngest, James, taking his early morning nap.

Well, I myself, must start the day. I need to go through and make sure everyone has their boots, gloves, hats and snow pants are accessible. I also need to dig out the hot chocolate and fluff for later. A tradition I have carried on. Wishing everyone else out there a great Friday and a wonderful start for your weekend.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Busy Set Of Days With A Promise Delivered!

Okay, so despite my house becoming utter chaos, I was able to get the dyeing tutorial all ready for you this weekend as promised.  For those of you who want to learn how to dye your animal fibers with Kool-Aid, food coloring and natural dyes...click here!

Rockabilly Chic leftovers for swatches...All done!

Other than that, it was a busy set of days trying to get projects finished while balancing the time with the regular household duties and spending time with the kids.  Lets face it, generally kids win.  They need to.  I can't complain, mine were perfect gents and I was able to get a lot accomplished (notice the status changes in my sidebar?).  Today is a different story.

Handspun Alpaca :)
The alpaca yarn is all spun and I am very proud of it.  I wish you could feel how soft it is.  I keep it laying around for motivation.  I want to start on my wrap in the worst way possible but I set the rule that I cannot until I get my other projects finished.  So, that in itself has been great motivation.  I have my shop to set up to be featured on the 29th and want to get as much of my works up there that I haven't yet.  I realize you can see what I have on my side bar but I also have a sealed bin that when I'm finished with something and it needs to be listed...it goes there.  Essentially it's waiting for its own special little photo shoot but it's a lot of time and work involved so I try to get around as much as I can to make it more worth it.
It will be nice when I get a lot of this done.  I plan on maybe spending a couple days (if I can help it) not working on anything and just playing with the kiddos.  I have a list of phone calls I need to return (very sorry guys, I'm not ignoring you) and e-mails from friends to respond to.  These are the days I live on coffee.  That is until it makes my stomach knot or when I'm up so late and can't sleep I consider it a great friend.  How sad is it I would have separation dreams when I was pregnant and nursing?  In my dreams I would sit down to a HOT (even though I can drink coffee now doesn't mean it's hot by the time I can get to it) cup of coffee and drink cup after cup.  It's the little things that always make me happy.

Well, time to leave you for a bit.  I must place myself back in the real world this moment as I have a hungry child waiting for his lunch to be served.  If I don't blog again before Monday, I'm wishing everyone a great weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Days and Social Networking Sites

So, by today we did get our snow.   My sister had to get back to her house right after I watched her kids to try to avoid the roads getting worse.  Needless to say no dying of wool in kool-aid took place.  However, I am dying a small batch as we speak.  I am trying to take pictures accordingly and hope to have them posted by this weekend. Perhaps you are looking for a weekend project?  I'll give you a rundown of the materials you will need on hand in case anyone reading this would like to partake this weekend.

Well our backyard did transform quite a bit and I was surprised
The tent, it's much taller than myself.
to see that school only called for a delay instead of closing all together.  My eleven year old stayed home complaining of a stomach ace ;).  We pulled out a play tent they got for Christmas and set it up so they could play with it.  My eleven year old, Zeke, did a great job at putting his little brothers toys inside.  I feel this is mostly for Zeke's benefit to ensure he would be tag along free for an uncertain amount of time.

Our backyard Wednesday afternoon

Back to the dying.  I will try to get all this out and not be redundant when I actually post the how-to.  Any wool/animal fiber can be dyed with Kool-Aid and it will take just as well as commercial dye.  If you follow the correct use and care for wool it should never fade.  However, if you do plan on felting your project, like any commercial dye some fading will take place.  That's why I recommend felting it BEFORE you dye so there's no surprises at the end.  Unless you like surprises (I'm getting too old for surprises).  Okay, on to your materials list..

1)  Your material you want dyed (wool fiber, roving, top, yarn or already knitted/crocheted project) *Please make sure it is NOT superwash and at least an 80% or higher wool/animal fiber content in a natural off white or white color

2) Kool-Aid and/or food coloring.  I will use a pack of Kool-Aid for every two ounces of fiber

3) Vinegar

4) Stainless Steel Pot

5) Your stove top

6) Maybe a little helper friend.  It will be hot on the stove so use caution
A microwave oven can be used as well but I'm not familiar with that method as I prefer stove top

That's it! 

Chunky Crochet Woven Cowl To Be Posted On Etsy
As far as my other projects go, I really didn't get as far as I would have liked.  I am now two plying the alpaca yarn.  My knitted project got a little further.  I can't seem to get much knitting done when my laptop is on.  I like to read drama on facebook...I mean read important news articles.  In all honesty I'm not on facebook much.  I used to enjoy it until I read an article (I have no clue where I found it, maybe on facebook) on how we're raising a generation of whiners.  They were citing social networking sites as the biggest culprit making whining for attention the norm.  I snickered at the thought at first.  Later that evening I logged on to return some messages and glanced over peoples status's and sure enough it was mostly whining.  Now that I'm aware of that I find it more annoying than enjoyable.  If it weren't for the fact that I have a lot of great family and friends I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with as easy it would be gone.  Wow, now it sounds like I'm whining!

Cotton Colored Merino Hand spun yarn will be on Etsy but needs to be "set" yet
Hoping to get more items listed on Etsy by this weekend.  I have a cotton colored hank of hand spun merino and a cowl that has been about 95% done for about a month now.  I just can't get myself to finish in the ends.  I hate finishing ends.  Speaking of ends, it is very late and the kiddo's will be up very early.  I think it's time to put my whiny behind to bed. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The boys are in nap and today has proven to be uneventful thus far.  Virtually no cleaning has been done.  The knitted cowl I was working on was taken completely back apart.  I wanted a slight twist in its style, like a mobius, but it was over twisted. Ugh.  I did get the cowl going again and I'm at about the same stage as I was this morning when I tore it all apart. Now it looks really good.

Other than that, I did get some spinning in.  I am very anxious to knit the finished project.  So far it's starting to look very promising:
The rest of what needs spun, a bag of wonderful cream colored alpaca!

The progress of spinning it raw on my wheel  Looking Good!
I've gone back and forth for leaving it a single ply or a double ply.  I would love to make a knitted wrap out of it so I think I may go with a double ply to give it a thick lovely drape. I'm trying not to rush it and  take my time.  I've had a couple shipments of other fibers come in since this has been on my wheel that I am itching to try out as well.  Luckily, I have not invested in extra bobbins for my wheel. Otherwise, I fear my spinning wheel would be surrounded by unfinished bobbins. 

The weather has been cold so it's been tough to stay motivated to do anything, or at least the things I should be doing instead of what I want to do.  I have my nephews coming over tonight and word has it we're finally going to be some snow tonight!  Not that I am a fan of snow but when you live in NE Pennsylvania and there's been virtually no snow and it's been so cold, it can get frustrating.  If it does start snowing tonight, I think some hot chocolate may be in order for the boys tonight.  Looking forward to the company of my sister.  I've taught her how to crochet before but lately she has really picked up on it.  I am so excited to have a fellow "hooker" ha ha!  If the boys and time allow, I may teach her how to dye yarns using kool-aid and food coloring.  If all goes well, I will get some pictures along the way to pass on a how-to tutorial in the very near future.

I must now turn off the laptop and get some cleaning done.  I would like to close this post with a current picture of our backyard.  There is little snow to be seen.  This is the most we've gotten so far this year.   By this time tomorrow I will hopefully have more to show you.  Keeping my fingers crossed that school will be cancelled for tomorrow!
Yes, I know my grapevines need pruned and the wheelbarrow should have been put away

Monday, January 10, 2011

Another Day, A New Idea...

Any of those who know me personally know, I've recently become a SAHM within the past year.  During this time I've been trying to find the perfect routine for myself, newborn, 18 month old and 11 year old son.  As well as a husband working swing shifts, a dog and an older house and now I've gotten myself a handful of responsibilities.  I love them all!  My other passions aside from my family are my "hobbies" which mostly consists of anything to do with fiber (knitting, crocheting, felting, spinning and dying) as well as many others.  I wanted to mostly create this blog to motivate me and share my trials and errors of my hobbies as well as mommy-hood.  I want to share the ups and downs of being a SAHM while hoping to maybe pass on some hobbies and how-to's to others looking for a way to spend time (not like there's much of that to go around) while their kiddo's are occupied.  Please bear with me, I am new to blogging and time is limited so I can't make any promises and there may be a nice huge lapse between posts from time to time.

I also have an Etsy shop.  It's something that makes me feel like I'm still contributing to society while changing diapers in my living room. If you get a chance, please check it out: http://www.etsy.com/shop/davenportgroves .  I am very excited to share my projects in the works and completed outcome.  

Unfortunately, at this point, my laptop is sitting on a shelf awaiting a new charge cord.  Right now I am working on an old dinosaur back-up who's memory is full so I can't upload pictures into it.  I would hate to leave this post without a few pictures of current projects but you'll have to bear with me.   I have four going at the moment.  A crocheted woven cowl, a knitted chunky cowl, and a crocheted shawl will more than likely be winding up in my Etsy shop.  The other is a bag of alpaca fiber I am spinning...this I will be hoarding to myself.  It came from my Aunt's alpaca farm and it means a lot to me but I will be happy to share it's progress.

If you haven't done so, please take the chance to subscribe.  I will try to promise you won't regret it!  You can tag along on this blog ride from the beginning right on through and hopefully share a lot of laughs with me along the way.  Comments greatly appreciated!

In the meantime, I will sign off with a picture (in my dinosaur laptop album) of my old, stinky, cantankerous dog, Ollie.  He's not enjoying this January weather and maybe knowing his mug is out on my blog will make him feel better.

Enjoy the rest of your evening!