Monday, December 7, 2009

To Gift or to Keep?

I finished these colorful Fingerless Mittens last night. I haven't decided yet wether I'm keeping them for myself (I'm tempted) or if I'll wrap them up and give them to some well deserving soul for Christmas. I followed (more or less) the pattern for Easy Lace Fingerless Mittens by Kathleen Taylor. This was the first time I have ever worked with Noro yarn, I made my debut with Silk Garden Lite. Beautiful colors! Normally I like things to be symmetrical and orderly, but I rather like how the colors turned out on these mittens, similar but not identical. I see more projects made from Noro in my future!

California Snow Day!

Yesterday it started to feel like Christmas and today it was as if I was back in Sweden! This is what it looked like outside this morning:

Winter in the Vineyard and on the way to school

... and I it is supposed to be even colder tonight! We have covered what we can and brought some frost sensitive plants inside. Nevertheless we will probably lose some plants to Jack Frost.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Making Christmas

Today was a a day preparing for Christmas. We strung the lights on our tall (17 feet) but slightly tilted tree and hung all the ornaments. Beautiful! Conrad and I also did some Christmas baking and we had ham for dinner. Can you believe how quickly the holidays are approaching? With the house smelling of gingerbread it actually is starting to feel like Christmas. Of course I also managed to squeeze in some Christmas  gift knitting (shhh!) time and Kajsa and I even visited Yarn Dogs so she could pick out yarn for a pair of fingerless gloves for herself.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Knitting Continued

I've been busy working on Lars' Christmas Afghan (Exquisite by Carole Prior - in Big Book of Quick Knit Afghanssince Thanksgiving and now it is finished! It is a great feeling of accomplishment, I have never knitted anything this large before. I highly recommend big needles and double yarn for a boost of your self confidence. 

I also completed a quick and bulky cowl in some leftover Patons Divine yarn I had around the house and I managed to squeeze in a few squares on my Sock Yarn Blankie (Shelly Kang sock yarn blanket) . 

What have I done other than knit? Well, not much other than take care of a sick child and a sick husband. Today Phil is home from work with bronchitis and Conrad has been home sick (one day of vomiting, fever and a cough the other days) from school this whole week. We did manage to attend Unplugged, the LGHS talent show. Kajsa was one of the master of ceremonies and she also performed one number herself - Bridge over Troubled Water, by Simon and Garfunkel. She sang it beautifully!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

We had a nice family get-together at our house on Thursday and the kids (cousins) got a lot of fun playtime together. After the big turkey meal some, courtesy of Tryptophan, squeezed in the traditional postprandial Thanksgiving nap while the rest of us were visiting and catching up since the last get-together.

One thing that we all did together was write the Nelson Thanksgiving Story. This story writing has become somewhat of a tradition that the kids (and adults) look forward to every year. This year's story featured Lars the Cooking Wiz, Gobbles the Turkey (alias Fred) and some space turkeys.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sick Day

Today Conrad has a little bit of a cough and since everybody is so worried about the swine flu  he get to spend the day at home with mom even though he really isn't that sick (no fever). We try to make the most of this rainy and gray day. I really should be cleaning the house in preparation for Thanksgiving, but Conrad keeps distracting me with more interesting (and important) projects.

Conrad was in th mood to bake something so I suggested he bake some muffins for our Thanksgiving meal. We looked through our muffin recipe book and didn't find anything we wanted to make that we had all ingredients for so we improvised and made some Cornmeal dried fruit muffins. Conrad says they turned out "fruitylicious"!

Conrad also spent some time working on his spinning. He doesn't have the patience to stay with it for very long at each sitting put he keeps going back to it. I think he will probably finish his first skein of yarn in time for Christmas.

While Conrad worked on this forest diorama I sorted through some piles of accumulated papers. In one of the piles I found a photo that my very good friend Kerstin had sent me a couple of years ago. We hadn't spoken for several years so I decided to call her up. It was so much fun talking with her and catching up. She sounded just like she did back when we both were biology students at Lund's University.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Night Library Knitting Group

Tuesday nights are the one night a week when my family knows that Mom gets to take the evening off (not that I don't take other times off, but Tuesdays are on everybody's schedule) and do something she enjoys. KNIT! And to boot I get to knit with a group of fun and interesting ladies who also realizes how much fun and how relaxing knitting is. Some weeks when life gets really hectic, the two hours at the library is the only time I have to knit. Another big bonus is how great these gals are at encouraging, admiring and praise each other's work. Nobody appreciates a knitted item like a knitter!

Tonight the group looked like this, it varies slightly every week, but we have grown to be a good size group. The "Miss You" sign is for a group member who hasn't been able to come for some time, we took the picture for her.

Fall in the Vineyard

Today was a beautiful California Fall day! The vineyard is beautiful this time of year and it is relaxing to know that the harvest is over.

The building in this picture is the recently remodeled barn, now known as the winery! We have started to fill it up with equipment to prepare for next year's harvest. This year we weren't quite ready in time so Phil and our winemaker made this year's wine down at a facility in Campbell. We are making some port for personal use here at the winery.

The other night as I was helping Phil rack the port I was hit with an idea. Can you use the lees (what is left in the bottom after the fermentation stops) to make bread? I decided to give it a try. Using some of the lees, a little bit of yoghurt and some flour I made a sourdough starter two days ago. Today I used some of the starter, more of the lees , water, salt, more flour and baked the dough into 24 dinner rolls. They look and smell good, but we will have to wait until tonight to find out if they taste good as well.

This morning while the rolls were rising, I finished plying my latest hand spun yarn. I ended up with 270 yards, 113 grams/40z, of the loveliest softest yarn ever. It has a little bit of sheen to it, probably from the 30% bamboo. The color reminds me of a pair of well worn pair of jeans - nice! The fibers for this yarn came from Frog Tree Yarns (Meriboo - 70% Merino & 30% Bamboo) and I purchased it at Purlescene. This is the thinnest yarn I have been able to spin so far, I am excited! The first single gave me a little bit of trouble - it kept breaking- but I did much better on the second one. I guess I just had to get used to it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Spinning Update

I spun this single from some Meriboo from Frog Tree Yarns that I picked up at Purlescence the other day. It is 70% Merino Wool and 30% Bamboo. It was a little tricky to spin - it kept breaking off and then splitting apart when I tried to reattach, but all is well in the end. I love the color and it is ooh so soft! As you can see I have two more oz. to spin into another single before it is time to ply them together.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fiber Wash

Conrad and I took the opportunity of Veteran's Day (no School) to visit Dad at work. After a delicious bento lunch at the local strip mall we got a tour of Amgen Fremont. Conrad asked loads of questions and seemed to grasp what it is Phil does at work. Just don't ask me to explain it!

When we returned home I decided to tackle my growing stack of homespun yarn. I have happily been spinning away but I have put off finishing the yarn. The twist needed to be set, in other words I needed to wash, rinse, wack (this is the fun part) and dry all the skeins I have spun so far ( 4 brown, 1 off-white and 1 multi-colored). Now they are all hanging in our bathroom, when they are fully dry it is time to start figure out what to knit from them. Any ideas anybody?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Christmas knitting

The recipient for these is not reading this blog, so it is safe to post pictures. I started these last Friday and they were a very fun and not very complicated knit. I have had this yarn for quite some time now and I just didn't know what to make from it. I painted this sock blank from Knit Picks as an experiment last spring when I was Tie-dying with Conrad's third grade class. Even though the colors I       used were very bright (chartreuse, tangerine and golden yellow) the end result was kind of muted and muddled. I didn't much like it! Conrad's teacher however said she really liked those colors so I decided then and there to make her something with this yarn. Not until I saw Petra's pattern for the Stulpen did I know what that something would be. I love this pattern and I see more Stulpens in my future!

Standing in line...

The kids and I spent the Saturday waiting in line outside the Santa Cruz County Health Department. We "only" had to wait for 41/2 hours for Conrad to receive the H1N1 FluMist and Kajsa the H1N1 injection. This round of immunizations were only for high risk patients, so even though I waited in line with the kids I didn't get any shot ( I knew this ahead of time though). Poor Kajsa started getting the side effects only a couple of hours later and she is still feeling under the weather today (Monday). At least we hope it is just the side effects from the shot she is suffering from, we will se by tomorrow.


I am a little behind on this blogging business, but oh well. Halloween came and went. This year was the first year Kajsa didn't come along with us for Trick or Treating, she preferred to spend Hallows Eve with her friends, imagine that! Phil, Conrad and I attended a spooktacular party in Palo Alto and so "the General" went on his Trick-or-Treat adventure there (he got sufficiently spooked!).

Monday, October 26, 2009

High School Coronation Dance!

My lovely daughter went to her last (she will be in college next year) high school homecoming dance this weekend. Doesn't she look beautiful? Boy, does time fly, it seems like only yesterday that she was playing dress-up  and parading around the house in princess and fairy costumes. Now she goes to real dances (still looking like a princess) with a real boyfriend. She had a wonderful time, says the evening was everything it was supposed to be!
Phil and I had a lovely evening as well. We enjoyed a much too large but very delicious meal and some good wine at Forbes Mill Steakhouse together with some friends.
Conrad made the best of his weekend a well. He used his imagination and a cardboard box to travel the world and beyond.
We didn't just play this weekend we did some work as well. We picked the last 1700 lbs of grapes and they are now fermenting away towards a delicious port. The 2009 harvest is over! We were too tired last night to properly celebrate that accomplishment but we will!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I'm falling behind on recording my knitting progress. We have been extremely busy with the grape harvest, but now we are almost done. I think one more weekend will do it!

Back to my knitting, I have jumped on the Shelly Kang sock yarn blanket band wagon! Again it was Allison who pushed me over the edge. This time by giving me and Billie her leftover sock yarn scraps. It was impossible to look at all those wonderful yarns and not start the blanket. I very quickly discovered that it will take A LOT of scraps unless I want to use the same yarn many times. Since I like the scrappy look I want to try and limit the use of each yarn to two or three squares. To avoid having to buy too many new balls of yarn I have joined a couple of sock yarn swaps on Ravelry. I still haven't decided what size of blanket to make, but I do know it will be a long project, maybe several years.

The sock blanket isn't the only blanketI'm working on right now. I'm also knitting on this afghan (Exquisite by Carole Prior - in Big Book of Quick Knit Afghans ) for Lars. Since he is a college student and I'm sure all his laundry gets washed in one load and then thrown into the dryer,  I'm using Lion Brands Pound of Love 100% Acrylic. I'm hoping to have it done in time for Christmas  (he doesn't read my blog - so don't spill the beans to him).

New Wheel!

I am now the proud owner of a Kromski Symphony spinning wheel. Doesn't it look like it came straight out of a Fairy Tale? Phil asked if I am going to spin gold on it! It looks gorgeous in our living room, but it is easy enough to move it into the family room if I want company while spinning and it is whisper quiet!
It spins quite differently than Alison's Traveller that I have been using up until now and it will take a little getting used to, but who cares - more spinning for me! By the way Allison, you are 100% responsible for me getting bitten by the spinning bug and therefore I blame/thank you for this purchase.
The wool that came with the wheel is harder to draft than anything I have worked with before (not that I have experience with a lot of different wool), but it is getting easier the more I spin. It is true what they say - Practice makes perfect!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Syrah Picking

I had planned to go to Lambtown in Dixon today, but instead I stayed home and helped with the harvest. We picked 8 tons of Syrah to be made into a Rosé. Conrad once again acted as the historian and documented the day with some very interesting photos. Today's weather was a lot nicer (read not as hot) as last weekend and we had fun working together (family and friends alongside the hired farm workers).
Yesterday I broke down and started on my sock yarn scrap blanket . It is loads of fun to knit on, but it will take forever to complete! Alison has already contributed some yarn (thanks Alison) and I have a small stash myself, but even so I'll need much more leftover sock yarn before this blanket will be done. I'll post a picture when I get a little further along and there is something more interesting to see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

11,219 lbs of Pinot Noir grapes!

Today was a long day! We got up at 5:30am and after breakfast the whole family headed out to pick Pinot Noir grapes. Today we picked for our own winery, Silvertip Vineyards. Not only was it a long day of hard work, but it was also very hot! I am still thirsty! After the picking was done, Phil took the grapes down to Campbell to be processed. On the way down the hill one of the bins fell off the truck and all the grapes in it were lost.. Luckily nobody was hurt, it was only a small portion of the grapes and we were able to retrieve the bin.


We met the Alpacas!

Yesterday Conrad and I went to a neighboring farm to visit with their Alpacas. This weekend was the National Alpaca Farm Days and many Alpaca farmers held Open Houses. We visited Oceanview Ranch on Montevina Road just outside of Los Gatos. We learned lots of facts about Alpacas and to top it all of they also had puppies for sale.
There was a woman sitting in the barn carding, combing and spinning some Alpaca fleece. Lovely soft stuff! Unfortunately they didn't have any fleece for sale. They did sell some yarn, but I was good and resisted the temptation!

Friday, September 25, 2009

3rd Grade Fieldtrip

Yesterday I went with my son's third grade class to the California Academy of Sciences on a Field Trip. I hadn't been since the big remodel and wow, it is well worth the drive up to the city. Parking was a breeze in their new parking garage under the park.
We learned a lot about our solar system during the special show in the Planetarium and we also got to walk through the "rain forest". Conrad's favorite part of the visit was with Claude, the albino alligator. All in all it was a good day, but we had far too littte time at the Academy and both Conrad and I want to go back for a full day there sometime soon.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Busy weekend

Well it is fall even if the weather is hot! The grapes are ripening and this weekend we picked a couple of tons of Pinot Noir for Silvertip Vineyards (our winery). Phil and Lars de-stemmed, crushed and started the fermentation along with Paul down in Campbell on Saturday.
Kajsa spent part of Sunday prepping for her Monday cooking demonstration in school, she is making scones. Yum!
Our printer broke down last week so today I headed down to town and purchased a new one. There are way too many models to chose between, in the end I just grabbed one in my price range and we have to hope for the best.
Conrad tried his hands at spinning and he didn't do too bad. He found it very interesting and he keeps asking if he can't please spin some more! The problem is, at the moment I have something on all the bobbins so he has to wait until I ply some of them together in the next few days.
Phil and I spent some time fretting over Kajsa's new (used) car and the whole mess with the warranty company. I don't know if it is worth all the hazzle and worrying or if we should just forget about the warranty and pay for the repairs ourselves. That is of course exactly what they are hoping we will do, but still our time is worth something too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cars - Arrgh!

Phil and I spent pretty much all of Saturday shopping for a used car for Kajsa. We ended up buying a blue 2001 VW Jetta. Today, Tuesday, it had a big puddle under it when Kajsa got out from school. After checking the oil (it was fine), she called home to ask what to do next. We decided the best thing was probably to take it to the service place and have them diagnose the leak. So now she is without a car again, hopefully temporarily, and Phil and I are back on driving duty. At least it happened right away, during the 3 month warranty period. We'll see what they say tomorrow after they take a look at it.

Lizzard Shawl!

The other day (September 13) when I was knitting the last few rows on my Angora/Wool shawl this little guy decided to come along for a ride. Every time I flipped the shawl to knit another row he clung on and flipped with the knitting.
This is what it looks like (thanks Madoka for taking the picture). I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I paired a strand of Louisa Harding Kimono Angora with a strand of Cascade Heathers 220 for super warmth and cloud like softness. I used a free pattern I found on Ravelry. It is called Carol's Clever Little Shawl . I made a few modifications, but mostly I followed the pattern.

Phil's Boot Socks

I'm a little late posting this, I actually completed these  on the September 7th. I made both of these socks at one time from the toe-up on two circular needles. I decided to make them from worsted weight yarn since Phil almost always has cold feet. They are meant for him to wear in his rubber boots but I think he will end up wearing them in the house as slippers. Conrad requested a pair just like them for himself, only smaller and grey instead of red.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lumpy Oatmeal

I did it! I made my first hank of yarn! It is a double ply, unbleached and undyed 100% Corriedale wool yarn.  I started out with 2 oz of roving and ended up with 1.8 oz (52 grams) of plied yarn. I still have 0.2 oz of single ply yarn left, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that. Because this was my first attempt at spinning, the yarn is slightly uneven but not terribly so. I am actually surprised how smoothly the spinning went, I had anticipated it to be much harder. Now what do I knit with my first handspun yarn? Any ideas anybody?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Finally Spinning!

I'm spinning yarn not knots! The result is a little bit uneven (thin/thick) but not too bad if I may say so myself. I have ordered some dark Coopworth roving from Paradise Fibers , but it is taking forever getting here (not really - I'm just inpatient) so today I couldn't wait any longer and I went to Yarndogs (local yarn store) and bought 2 oz of light colored Corriedale roving. So far I have spun half of it into a one-ply yarn. Once I'm done with the other half I'm planning on attempting to spin it into a two-ply yarn. I'll post a picture then if I succeed.  Luckily I'm home alone tonight (the older kids are camping and Phil and Conrad are watching the Cal game at grandma's and grandpa's house) so I should be able to get some uninterrupted spinning done. Back to spinning!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Knitting Progress

The socks are finished (completed on 8/31/09), and I  must say I am happy with how they turned out. 

I am definitely keeping this pair for myself! Although I usually make my socks from the toe-up, I made these from the cuff-down, I don't really know why. I knitted only one at a time since I was using two kinds of yarn (I didn't fell up to juggling four balls at once). The stitch pattern is just something I pulled from way back in my mind, I might have read it somewhere or maybe I just dreamt it. Anyway it is two rows of stockinette in the navy color and two rows of seed stitch in the varigated colorway. The navy yarn is Knit Picks Essential Solid (new name - Stroll sock yarn ) and the varigated one is Crystal Palace Panda Cotton.