Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In the garden

Blueberries, raspberries and apricot tree are done.
Laundry? Dream on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

IHeartFaces Photo Challenge

This is a pre-digital shot (scanned), taken 4th of July in Washington, D.C. - go figure! - of a stranger. I took it twelve years ago, in 1998, which was my first year in the USA after getting married and moving from Germany to Maryland.
Quite suitable, I believe, for the dramatic B&W photo challenge over at IHeartFaces.

Even though I dislike the shadows caused by the flash and wish the Washington Monument was not crooked, I think this is (apart from pictures of family members) one of the best pictures I ever took.

Thanks, Visty, for the inspiration!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

elsewhere and here

Do you know that we used to live in this cute and oh-so-Eastcoastish house in Germantown, Maryland, in this supernice neighborhood with reeeaaally cool neighbors?!

Bet you did not, at least not the neighbor part.
I'd like to introduce you to one of my former neighbors: Lena is smart, beautiful and cool, a runner, has two gorgeous and sweet kids and happens to own my favorite Italian restaurant Agrodolce in Germantown (with husband Phil). Lena just recently started a new journey in her life, she launched a blog and wants to get professional with her art of taking pictures, especially portraits.
Friends, check out her fantastic work, here on Flickr, read her blog and if you can, go have her take some awesome shots of you, the family, your kids, you and the love of your life, you name it!

Here, today?
Working the ass on the trails, snowflurries my company, again.
Coffee with friends in the morning.
Gathering stuff for the class, beginner knitting tomorrow morning.

Watching winter wrestle with spring. The day that started with snowfall ended with warm sun.

I am eying my trees, I have all that I wanted now, the Jonagold being my favorite, because it is my favorite apple! None are planted yet, and I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

goals and plans

The wheel is spinning.
Nine rosy ounces have been spun, plied and washed. I still adore this yarn and wish the color would work for me.

I remembered that I had already made a piece of clothing from a previously spun sample and searched the archives.
A sweater for Irmchen in 2008.

The actual yarn color is somewhere in the middle between the sweater and the finished skein. I'm working on the color thing, got me Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and have yet to get started with it, I'm thinking next week when the kids are back in school.

While I am stalking the mail man, I pretend to track my package of blues across the country as it makes its way from Virginia. Since Pat mailed it on Wednesday I have been wondering where it is. Maybe it is spending the Sunday in Arkansas? Or Tennessee?

My goal is to have my roses all spun up by the time the two pounds of blue fluff arrive, so I don't need to feel guilty, when I dive into the blue right away. Another rosy nine ounces of finished yarn are soaking in hot soapy water right now (I use Eucalan in case you wonder), but there is still some more raw fluff waiting at the wheel.

I also have to confess, that I started a new project. Spring did it!
This week, when temperatures went up into the 60s, we were about to head out to the playground and I had to decide what project to take. I was in the mood for spring and summer colors and fibers, so the bright pink cotton from the stash (thank you, Goodwill, for high quality Italian yarn for a ridiculously cheap price!) was a quick choice and I decided to give it a go with a pattern from an older Verena, that I've had on my to-do-list for a while.
Now the plan for this is to knit at least a few rows every day, to keep it growing steadily. So far I more than stuck to my plan and I really like it.

Speaking of growth reminds me. - I bought an Apricot tree yesterday.
Two years ago we planted a fig tree in the protected area in front of the house, apparently it would not do good with our heavy spring winds anywhere else, and right now I'm holding my fingers crossed that it made it through our tough long winter.Until now it did not carry any figs.
I have always wanted a real fruit tree, maybe apples, cherries, peaches or - apricots. A tree that grows big and strong, where the kids can climb onto, or tie a hammock into the branches, but so far the time never seemed to be right.
That we are finally planting our tree shows me how much our family has grown roots and how much we look forward to our future here.
Right now I cannot imagine living anywhere else than the Southwest. I am still so in love with Albuquerque and New Mexico!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

not the half of it

Besides a secret knitting project, which will be off to London soon, I have been spinning. A lot.

I have been working mostly on the big wheel, my fast one, for at least two hours daily.

I feel that I have finally mastered the long backward draw, a technique which I find quite challenging since it is not easy to produce a yarn with a uniform amount of twist. However, once you manage it the rewards are huge, - more yarn in a shorter time.

Here are some of the results.
A 2-ply merino, dyed as roving by myself:
Surprisingly I still have a hard time finding prepared fibers for spinning locally. I guess a lot of the artists sell their rovings at yarn stores, where it it ends up double the price, which I'm not willing to pay.

Taos Wool Festival was a good source for fibers and I purchased from Robin Pascal from Edgewood, NM, a blend of wool, mohair, alpaca and angora, spun up here:

Then there is Kai Mohair, located in Texas. Lisa offers roving and gorgeous dyed mohair locks combined with fabulous customer service. The locks are not easy to spin, they require quite some teasing and predrafting, but the result is a gorgeous one-of-a-kind yarn, that is not available in any yarnstore! I recommend investing in the highest available grade/softest and most expensive fibers and you will be rewarded with a mohair yarn, that is almost as soft as angora.

Can you see the little curls and locks peaking out? Gotta love it!

As I've mentioned before, I still have my fiber sources on the East Coast, and as this last big order is all spun up, my favorite remains this pound of loveliness:

Now there is still one big bag of shades of rose colors waiting next to the wheel, a previous purchase from Kid Hollow Farm, one sample spun and knitted, because I can't get this out of my head, the Tweedy Aran Cardigan by Norah Gaughan (here on Ravelry):

I adore the yarn with all the lovely variations, but I don't feel the color would work for me. Since the knitting will be a lot of work, - not to mention the spinning - the color HAS to be right.

I had no choice, people!

- - - - I ordered two more pounds of my blue!

Monday, March 15, 2010

weather news

While the kids are at home for spring break we have been surprised with another load of snow.

Can you tell that this is a lot of fresh snow?
The lighting was beautiful and dramatic, the kids had a blast in the backyard and the arroyo and I was outside for photos several times.

All this happened yesterday.
Today? Just one sad little pile of snow, where the snowman had been!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I owe you green

Fiona's green hat was finished with a lot of greenish beeds, some embroidery on the dreads, one green feather and a pipe cleaner flower.
You see one proud girl!

fifteen minutes

Fiona wants to take a bath and Lola has to come along.
There is just one little problem - Lola has no bathing suit!
Mama, can you make one?

I'll try, no promises!

One fifteen minute success story!
Fiona and Lola are very pleased!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thanks, Uncle Ralfi

The sweetest uncle sent this.

We love you, too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

hello world

Albuquerque Journal, Sunday, March 7th, 2010:

Dear Mr. Piraro,

you totally made my day!

Now I can truly tell, that knitters are being recognized in this country as an important part of our society!

I really appreciate this, and wish you the best for your future, possibly a serious relationship with a passionate knitter, who will knit you some cozy socks or an even cozier sweater!

Yours truly!

P.S. Would you happen to know by any chance, where that class is being held?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


The other day Fiona came home all excited, because she has to make a wacky green hat for school.
I had not felted any large project in more than a year, but after some consideration I said, "well, we could felt one..?!" which of course was the beginning of a journey.
We went through all the felt books for some ideas/refreshing of techniques and I decided to work around a resist.
We measured the circumference of her head, took half of that and added 1/3 for shrinkage, cut the shape out of a thick clear plastic. We layered grass green merino on the resist, turned the shape several times in between, while folding over the overlaps until we had 3 layers of merino on each side of the resist.
I find the turning the hardest, because if you mess up and the stuff slips, it is the doom of your project. You will never again be able to get order into your nice layers of fibers, and I tell you the layering takes a loooot of time. We used a flat baking sheet underneath and towels or a placemat from some kind of foamy material to help with that.
At the same time Fiona worked some funny little felt snakes with a sushi mat.
She left one end of those unfelted, so they could be worked into the surface of the hat.
Just one layer of merino covers the fluffy end, above you see half of that process done.
She decorated the outer surface with some green fluff in different shades and we covered the wool layers with window screen. No pictures of the tidious scrubbing with hot soapy water until loose fibers are felted together. I tried to roll the hat with bubble wrap just once and when it seemed that the fibers were well enough connected I proceeded to the washingboard, my favorite part.
Sonja had said "This will be too big!" and she was right.
But not for long.
Just until we scrubbed the heck out of that thing on the magic washing board.
This process and its astonishing results never fail to amaze me...

Fine tuning will follow tomorrow.

Friday, March 5, 2010


There once was a little pencil.

He lived happily with his two kids, who used him for their homework. But the little pencil always thought there was something missing and that he was meant for something grand, he just did not know what that would be. He felt a strong desire to stand out among his brothers and sisters, who all looked exactly like him. Yellow.

Then one day, the little girl chose him and started putting fluff around him.
He said 'hey, that tickles!', but she did not listen. She drenched him in hot water, put a lot of soap on him as if he was not clean and kept on rolling and rolling him in a tight mat!

He had to spend the whole night drying, not quite sure what was happening until this morning he was grabbed and put in the spotlight for photo after photo.

Now he knew, that he was really special, after all he was ...... Cinderfelto!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

just a story

The other day in the car:

Lewis: Mom, Dad (note how he adresses me first, but wisely adds his father!), you know, I was wondering, since the stuff in batteries is so poisonous and acidic, how can it give you energy?

Me: Wyatt?

Wyatt answers in a very complicated, detailed and knowledgeable way, because he is educated, smart and knows just about everything. Even though I know how smart he is I am amazed and impressed and listen in awe, barely understanding the half of it.

Then me: ... (thoughtful) ... if it was for me, we would still live in the Stoneage. But we would be warm, real warm!