Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Make My Day

I was awarded the You Make My Day award by both Leigh and Valerie this week. The crazy thing is that as I was reading the links to links from this award, I realized that a lot of us have become virtual friends via our links to links. Think how many of us know who Rascal is and are waiting to hear on the pathology reports.

I hear a lot about online social engineering, Facebook, MySpace and Second Life, but it gives me great pleasure to realize that we have created our own Ring by following the links generated by our interests and passions.

I went through my Bloglines links and in order as they appear are my You Make My Day awards. The rules are as follows: “Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times.”

Tina - Shetland sheep lady, cat lover and champion of the Pacific Northwest flood victims
Jodi - In spite of the demands of graduate school, makes time for knitting and reading
Birdsong - Virtual and "real" friend, spindler, spinner, knitter and mother to burros
Michelle - Shetland sheep lady, knitter and spinner and dog lover, big time
Cindy - Cindy Knits is modest - she designs, has a great eye and she's very funny.
Leigh - Can I tag back? She inspires me post by post by post
Valerie - Another tag back, because this is one of my top ten blogs- fiber, books and spirituality
Marie - Down to earth, genuine, weaving, fibering, living in the real world
Marci - Crazy images and wonderful wit.
Amy - Passionate fiberist, wool hussy and spindler enthusiast and enabler.

I was surprised how many of the same people showed up in this award, better than the six degress of Kevin Bacon. My co-workers are astonished that I read blogs, let alone keep one. And when I look at the my bloglines roll, I'm astonished myself at how the list has grown over the past several years - I have friends in places I have never visited! I apologize to those of you whose blogs I always read and didn't put in the ten, including my daughter. Her's is actually my number one in the you make my day category, but because I can't think that any of you want to read a blog about my grandkids, I didn't list it. And all of this was typed with Charlie and my laptop on my lap - he just wants you to know what he had to put up with.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

End of January

The snow - it's still here. I think we've had new snow or blowing snow every day all month.

This is Eleanor. She has pushed me through drifts deeper than I could have imagined. From my experience, the commercials aren't a mock-up - Forresters really do plow through the snow, but it's not fun unless you're the professional with a film crew. My picture doesn't capture how dirty she is - she's dirty and she earned it.
Those drifts in front of the house are a mockery of what Eleanor has negotiated this week. In the midst of beefy trucks, she has held her own - to my huge relief. Phew~

So I tried to photograph the difference in ways to blend on the drum carder, and it just doesn't show up. The two skeins are different enough that I plan to contrast them in a bag. I separated the colors into two pathways, carded and pulled them into roving to spin for the right skein. I do believe the difference will show when knitted, it just doesn't show up when photographed. So what's new, eh?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dyeing Locks

I thought I'd answer Leigh's questions about dyes in this post. I sprinkled five colors, which appear as three in the Coopworth/Salish locks. I used cornflower, indigo, hibiscus, mulberry (purple) and cedar (deep teal). I have learned that a little bit of purple goes a long long way.

I carded the three colors separately on my drum carder, a well-used Patrick Greene Deb Deluxe, and then stripped them into fours pieces and ran them through the drum carder again.

The colors are more subtle than I would have liked so I think when I prepare the Border Leicester locks, I'll separate the colors, card them and pull them together into roving at that point. This prep is too blended for my taste.

I ordered more dyes yesterday morning from Carolina Homespun. They don't show the color palette, but that can be viewed on the Louet website. They're pricey, I'll admit, and Carolina is a tad cheaper. They've lasted me a long time though, since I use the Procion dyes for big jobs in the garage.

I replaced olive and raspberry and ordered lily and pumpkin which will be new colors to me. They say that one cap full will dye two ounces of fiber. I like to weigh the locks, put them in a pot with water, about half as high as the locks, then sprinkle a little of the colors I want to use into the caps, until I think I have the equivalent of a cap full. When the water begins to simmer, I sprinkle the dyes over the locks, tamp the locks into the water and moosh them around a little, then let them stew for a half hour. I have yet to have them felt, and I get almost full take up of dye.

These gorgeous colors were the aftermath of a dye day where I poured the leftover dyes onto locks, wrapped them in Saran and steamed them. I didn't have any idea of the strength of the dyes of the weight of the locks. I had way too much dye and had a terrible time getting it rinsed, with the result that these locks, beautiful as they are, are badly felted. I've tried to spin them in the locks, but it's too hard on my fingers.

My com-
promise is to tease the locks and run them through the drum carder one time. There are lots of bad bits, but I've decided they're going to create novelty yarn that will look unique in felted bags. It's either that or throw the whole mess away, and that still could happen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vacation Fiber Day

We're still getting snow, though the boys can at least get out now. Not all those dark lumps are rocks.

I had volunteered to demonstrate spinning at Click-ets, the library beginning knitting group that meets twice a month. The volunteer who leads the group is a wonderful retired lady and she's excited that this date is also her birthday. Thursday, she popped by my desk to show me the press release! that she gave to the newspaper. I apparently, in addition to demonstrating spinning, am also going to be talking about felting. I don't felt I explained, but what she wants me to talk about is my knitted/fulled bags. After I send the auction bag off, I'm a bagless lady. What to do???

I decided that since it's not hiking weather outside, this is officially a fiber day. Question: What bin of clean locks did I grab from one dye day to get the magnificent halo that this in the central part of this bag?? I know the bottom is coopworth and the top is border leicester. Okay, I'm almost certain it is - maybe.
I especially love the way the yarn on the top of this bag bubbles, almost like a boucle. I decided today is the day to see I can uncover the breeds behind these felted yarn behaviors.
This is border leicester that I bought from Ralph
Groefsma in Mountain Home, Idaho. I realized as I was doing this that his fleeces might be a cross - I think the only breed he was committed to was Lincoln. This might be a mystery breed. The locks are clean and were dyed with poplar a while ago but are only light yellow.

This fluff is
salish from Anna Harvey. I also bought this fleece many years ago. I'm going to make yarn of both of these and dye them. I'm pretty sure that these are the two fleeces in question.
In addition to the fiber preps, I also cooked up a couple batches of dyed locks. The left is border leicester and the right coopworth/salish. I'm looking forward to seeing how they work in my bags. I also realize $$$$$$ that I really do love the kitchen convenience of Gaywool Dyes. It's like sprinkling spices into stew. I've resisted forking over dough for almost kool-aid dyes, but if I don't buy them for myself, who will?
Doncha hate how llamas suffer in the snow? Yes, there is a suffering llama in this picture.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New Spindle

This is the the replacement spindle that Amy brought me back from Tucson. She bought two more herself and ended up buying one on behalf of another guild member. These are made by Ken Ledbetter, who after retiring, made a craft fair business of wood-turned wine bottle stoppers. He's new to drop spindles, but they've been so popular that Woodland Woolworks and Carolina Homespun are both carrying them. Boy, does mine spin and spin.

This is my first drop spindled yarn. It's still pretty thick and thin but I'm calling it novelty yarn.

We're at the Nevada caucus, where our first step is to find a safe path through the ice and snow. It was a very interesting experience, but not very representational of the population at large since you must be available that this moment, whereas a primary is like an election and goes all day. That said, I enjoyed myself tremendously. It's the most political thing I've ever done. The disappointment was that about 100 people changed their party affiliation at the sign-in table and voted for the candidate that they think can be beat in the general election. Politics as usual??

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Baby Surprise Jacket

It actually does turn into a baby sweater and only weighs 4.2 ounces, easily made from leftover yarns. I will probably make another one. I found that the information on KnitWiki was very helpful. The first thing under Minor Pattern Changes was "Avoiding picking up stitches on the wrong side of the row," and after picking up stitches on the row side of the row, which you can't avoid under the original instructions, I understood why she said it. It's messy. I couldn't follow her instructions but realized that if all the stitches on holders and the middle section all end after a wrong side, I can knit them all from the right side, picking up the stitches as I go. It requires breaking the yarn and reattaching it. I realize EZ wanted to make the garment in "one fell swoop" as she liked to say, but with all the ends that I already had, one more didn't faze me. Just so you know, the cast on stitches are the top of the sweater. I had nearly finished the garment before I knew where I was.

Monday, January 14, 2008


As you can see, Jodi was right. They are houseplant ornaments, though Amy says she really liked Lee's borks and firds.

My XP migration to Vista is mostly done and mostly frustrating. The $45 cable from Best Buy was worth the cost in terms of peace of mind, but still insulting when I acknowledge that it's a one time use and should have been included gratis from Senor Gates. If you ever need one, let me know. I have one gathering dust. When I bought my "old" laptop three years ago, learning to use XP was a huge frustration since we were using Windows 2000 at work. Now here I am doing this thang again. Learning curves - they say they're a hedge against brain decay. Since weaving is one huge learning curse, oh excuse me, I meant to say curve, I should have some form of immunity.

Busy Weekend

We babysat this weekend. The kids arrived just hours after I got home from the Guild meeting. Ian wanted to watch a football game. Kiernan accepted that and went upstairs to play with his Legos. Alexia wanted to watch a "mobie" and clutched three DVD cases to her chest. She'd say, "Can we watch my mobie now?" and Ian would say we're not going to watch one this week because I'm watching a football game, to which she'd sweetly say, "Oh" and wander off. After she had repeated this about four times, Ian decided maybe the game wasn't so important after all.

With her sweetness, she won her Papa over, and happily clamored onto his lap to watch her "mobie," which was nothing more than episodes of a TV show they have seen over and over. They were excited to share the shows with us and gave a running commentary. Ian said she had turned him into a human jungle gym.

Look what Amy brought me back from Tucson for my Christmas present. She told me that she wanted to wait to shop there since there are so many artsy places. Can you guess what these are?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sock Yarn

We had a demon-
stration on using knitting machines following our guild meeting today. One of our members brought four machines and took us through all the steps and uses of these machines. Those of us who brought yarn were then free to try it ourselves. I had some 80/20 wool/nylon yarn that I bought many pounds of from the Robin & Russ yarn club, when there still was a Robin & Russ. I made balls of two skeins, but being in a hurry, I didn't weigh them. They are now knitted into this one strip. Allison did this last year with two "blanks" she bought from Nancy Roberts, which she dyed in stripes, unraveled and then knit into socks.
I made this pair of socks from that yarn some time ago, and after I got home, weighed them at 3 ounces. The strip of blank weighs 14 ounces! I think I'll zigzag it on the machine into three or four sections and dye each one a different pathway. I look forward to seeing what I get from this, besides more socks that I don't need.

I haven't been able to transfer my files from my old computer to my new one. It requires a special cable which I need or order. Until then, I'm having to rebuild my address book one address at a time. I am frustrated at having no addresses at all. I have to open both computers and then type them in, one at a time. This new computer thing sure takes a lot of time and provides many occasions for bad words. I've promised my old one to my daughter, but at this rate, it's going to be a while.

Friday, January 11, 2008

More new than the new year

This is the box that I have been chasing since last Friday. It's my new laptop which was supposed to have been delivered between Thursday and Sunday. I knew I was in trouble with the snow, but when I got to work on Sunday and listened to my messages, I was stunned to hear a guy say, I'm at your gate but it doesn't appear that any one is home - call this number to schedule another delivery. But - we were home. The weather conditions were wretched, so I'll give him that. I called and requested they hold the package for me to pickup on Friday, today. We can barely manage the roads ourselves, and since three delivery trucks and one garbage truck have been seen being towed, I didn't expect a delivery to be possible.

Ian and I went in to pick it up this morning, but the dispatch guy forgot to put a hold on my box and it was on the truck. Hooray for cell phones. I called my neighbor and told her we wanted it delivered to her, which was fine. She said her husband was out in his tractor, working on the roads, so the delivery should be okay. We passed this information to the counter clerk. Our cell signal is poor out here in the nowhere, but we can text, so she texted the delivery guy to drop my computer at the neighbor's. Ian worried about how fixated she was on the Tom's tractor. I was in CostCo and got a call that the computer has been delivered. I called Carole and she says, nope, nothing. So I called back DHL and they had Tom's signature, which means he must have taken it on the tractor. He ended up taking my computer in his bucket, since there's no room on his tractor for a box, and he dropped it off at our elderly neighbor's house. Many cell calls later, we knew where it was and picked it up this afternoon on our way back home. It makes a good story.

This is my old computer, attached to it's brain. I can't believe that in three years, it became too small, but I have loved it just the same. When I bought it, a 40 gb hard drive seemed huge. It's so full, that it doesn't run - it groans. Note the yellow sticky - my high tech reminder system.

While this computer may not look a whole lot different than the old one, it's hugely different. Most noteable is the Vista operating system - a HUGE learning curve. It's much lighter than my old one and fast - no more groaning during operations. It does have a ten-key pad, which seemed cool when I ordered it, but I haven't found a reason to use it yet. This is when I feel my age. I'm not excited to explore the changes - I don't want them at all. But white woman speak from both side of mouth - I don't want change, I just want speed? Doesn't wash, does it.

This is my first post from my new computer. I need to do something I understand, like sew in some ends.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Same song, second verse,

A little bit louder, a little bit worse. We had another 4-6 inches last night but the sun is smiling on us this morning. The forecast is for continued snow showers over the next couple of days. Showers? Piece of cake!

A cheery site.

Once again, I walked up with the dogs to see what the road looks like today. Ian cleared the driveway out pretty good yesterday but you can see the new snow fall.
It's a snow-go, very punny. The tracks are from Tom's tractor - they had to pull Ron's quad out of a snowbank. I just looked out the window and saw a snowplow on the county road across the valley. I'll be set once I can get there. I called and we're supposed to get plowed this afternoon. I'm bummed though because my new computer was supposed be delivered by today.
That's our house, to the top left of my shadow. This picture tickled my funny bone.

When I got back, Steve - that's his big house - was down plowing our driveway and grooming the yard so I can get my car out. He and his giant dog Zeus just showed up and did it. We can't believe how much connectivity we have with our neighbors here. In town? Not so much.
Buster is certainly the happiest of us all. We're home and he gets to play in the snow. What more could a country boy want??
I guess I'll go back to working on this and see if I can't get to the "surprise" part. So far, I've been in the aggravated part. I don't know what part of the sweater I'm knitting - top or bottom - so the stripes are truly random. I look forward to being surprised.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Blowing Snow

The rain just poured from the sky - not much sense walking on these stepping stones, but then it's not supposed to rain in Nevada. This was about noon yesterday. The quail are trying to retrieve what's fallen from the birdfeeder and now underwater - poor things.
The snow was falling in earnest by twilight. Ian had gassed up the generator and from the NOAA forecast, we knew we could get several inches overnight.
Zephie isn't phased at all- when ya gotta poo, ya gotta poo. Llamas care where they do it, unlike sheep. They're comfortable sharing the shed though when the conditions require it - good thing.
By mid-morning, we were in a winter wonderland, snow and sun - break out the cross-country skis, but I wasted the opportunity, dangit.
Ian dug this path for the generator, in the event we lose power. The power was off and on all night - no power, no water.

We've opened the garage door and that's my car in the bottom corner. We're trying to figure out how to get me out since I have to go to work tomorrow. Buster loves to scoop the snow with his nose and he thinks it's all a great game. He couldn't be happier - can you see his grin?
Ian refilled the bird feeders this afternoon. One was destroyed in the high winds last night and the birds are pretty frantic. In that dark clot beneath the tub are at least a dozen quail. It was twice that size when I tried to open the door quietly, but many were spooked and took flight.

Our roads were supposed to get plowed this afternoon, but since I hadn't heard any plows, I walked up to see what I'm supposed to be driving to work on in the morning. I'm not encouraged. I'm a good snow driver and I have a great snow car, but I need a road to drive on, and I don't see one.

Do you see two doggies chest deep in the snow? The second wave of the storm has just begun, and while they're not ready to go back in the house, I am. I don't think we'll get as much precipitation as we did in 2005, but the snow is still falling and it's getting deeper every minute that I type. Visibility - isn't that a term for pilots???

My daughter's drive home from work yesterday, with my grandchildren, was another story....

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year's Day 2008

This is pretty much how we spend New Year's Day. There's another table with California rolls, and the sushi, tako and sushimi are out of camera range. My SIL has gone to this even since she was 14 and hasn't missed a one. Adding generations and ex-spouses and finances, the assembly is mind boggling, and the food never stops coming.

I came for the first time twelve years ago, and I swear Omar and Stephen were devaining shrimp then. Now they have girlfriends and college educations. It all started with mom, dad, five brothers and friends and now is multi-generational, including the friends. What a great tradition.

Don Jr, or Don Don as he is sometimes called, and and I are watching the USC game. He is alum, hence his SC shirt, Christmas gift from his son, Don, now called Junior instead of Don Don Don. Donnie is wearing a cervical collar. This year had a brush with tragedy. The night after Thanksgiving, he took a dive into a shallow wading pool, thinking it was a lap pool. Several couples were enjoying a hot tub and he just wanted to cool off. Long story short, he broke his neck and spent five terrifying days, not knowing if he would wake up from surgery paralyzed. He'll regain 75% function of his neck. He has a good reason to smile - and SC is winning.