Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Move . . .

It's official. See me here from now on!


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our Guy Is OK

Apparently, there was bad news in Chile overnight. Our guy there is a-ok. He apparently discovered that he knew how to fly. In order to escape the shaking hi-rise he lives in, he descended 14 floors in one minute flat. Oh, and he had to break his door down first because the locks and jams were leaning so badly that the door wouldn't open.


Glad you're okay, Scottie!


How'd I Do That?

So, a while ago, my friend Rani asked if I could show the process I go through with raw fleece to get it ready to spin into yarn! No problem - well, actually getting off my butt to do it seemed to be, but I'M HERE NOW!!!! And, before I post this, let me just say that this will now be a 2-part tutorial because Blogger won't let me upload the correct amount of pictures. You can expect part 2 to appear in my new, Wordpress blog that I'll be switching to later today!

Also, let me put in a disclaimer and a plug for YouTube and say that everything I learned, pretty much came from this video. It's awesome, and it's what I'm TRYING to do when I make rolags to spin. I hope I am actually doing it!! It works for me, so what I'll show you in pictures is my style, I guess.

First, you start with clean fleece. Then, you pull it apart. So, step one, for me, is "pulling." I put all the locks of wool that I pull out (think doll's hair ringlets for this BFL/Cotswold fleece) in a tin bucket. Once I have a bucket full, I move on to step two - picking.

Picking: I grab a handful of locks, then pick them apart even more so that I wind up with a handfull of fluff, like you see above. This serves to better prepare the wool for 'carding' and also lets any little leftover bits of VM - vegetable matter (think about it!) - fall out, making the fiber even that much cleaner and nicer to spin and eventually knit or wear!

Carding: Now that I've gotten the fiber ready, I can grab my hand-cards (basically really big dog brushes, but there are actually different grades of fineness to them and such - it's a very technical thing!) and begin to smooth the fiber out even more. I do this by brushing back and forth until all the little fibers/hairs are a pretty, airy cloud. Once there, we're ready for step 4 - rolling (no, not THAT kind!).

Load the card/dog brush . . .
Then keep smoothing it with the opposite one, back and forth a couple times until you have fluff.

Stay tuned for part two - see you on WordPress!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

February 19th:

My boy turned 8. Once again, I wait for the world to explain to me just how a thing like this could have happened. It WAS just yesterday that he was born, so how the heck did he turn 8?

Regardless, it happened, so . . . we made cupcakes on Thursday night:

That he then took in to his buddies in his class on Friday morning.

Mom got to drop him off, too, since my school system is still running a 2-hour delay, but his school went in on time! Yay!

After school I picked him up "in the line" (immediately after school) so that he could come home and tear into a few more packages. He was immediately wowed by the scooter my parents gave him (that I somehow managed not to have a photo of!).

Then, it was off to pick up the cake and meet Auntie Jenn and Daddy at Red Robin. Too much fun for kids, and Auntie got extra brownie points for the Shawn White game and CLOTHES (who knew??)!!!

After the dinner, it was over to GameStop to trade his 1 year old DS Lite for a DSi. We totally work the DS time to our advantage by requiring that he read more to earn his play time. So far, however, the DS has always taken a backseat to playing outside, and since we still have at least a foot of unmelted snow, I don't even see the new toy totally taking over like I've seen in some little ones!

Now, he is totally happy and one year older, and I still kinda feel like I'm shell shocked. All is right with the world! LOL!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

I have been away from the blog for a while, but all is well. Despite Mother Nature's attempt at it, we did not in fact get buried in the snow. My silly old-age claustrophobia tried to set in, though. I swear that, on Wednesday, while watching the ENDLESS coverage of the snow, and listening to the forecast for 20 more inches for the night and following day, I was feeling VERY, VERY claustrophobic - the house seemed very small, and my breathing was a bit labored. Weird, huh? Don't answer that!

But, we did survive. The outside world is very beautiful, and we officially have the snowiest winter on record. School was closed for a week, but all should be well for Tuesday and an on-time arrival. Unless there's worry of ice. . . OY!

The weekend has been interesting. It started on Friday with my regular spinning group meeting, which melded into the Olympic kickoff party. If only the NBC website had held up this time. But, as it did for the Summer Olympics of 2008, the site crashed, leaving all those planning to watch via the website out in the cold. I quickly called home to ask my sister to push record on the DVR, so I eventually got to watch, but I'd have really enjoyed all the chit-chat among friends if NBC had their act together.

Saturday was exciting, with a mid-day matinee of Grease at the National Theater downtown. It was interesting to see how the story - which I came to know in it's movie version - and worked as a stageplay. The best part was the 5th scene - the one with the song "Grease Lighting" in it. For those that are familiar with the movie, you'll remember that the old beatup car gets a makeover during that scene. I couldn't figure out how they were going to trade one car for another, or how car parts were going to fly around. But, they did it, and it was, in a word, "brilliant."

There was also a big, big Taylor Hicks love fest during the "Beauty School Dropout" scene, where he played Teen Angel. The funnies thing was when the scene was going right along, and Frenchie - who's supposed to be really enamored of this cool, older guy who's suddenly showed up to serenade her - leans in really close, gives him the googly-eyes, and says in the dreamiest voice "I voted for you!" Too, too funny!

After the show, we stopped by and picked up some steamed lobsters, came home, made a salad and french bread, popped open the wine, and had an indulgent, delicious meal! Yum-O!

Today was quite the day as well. We headed up the road to go to the snow-date Superbowl Sale at Cloverhill. To say that the sale was a success for the shop would be an understatement. It was busy, busy, busy in there, and everyone was running high on the yarn fumes. Even though I wasn't supposed to be buying anything, after pulling a 20% ticket, I managed to talk myself into the Jojoland Melody for the swirl scarf that my mother and sister want to knit with me, the Trekking Hand Art sock yarn that I'd been eyeing on Friday, and some gorgeous that was just too beautiful to pass up. I got two skeins, so either socks (which I've been thinking I need to get back into knitting!) or a shawl will get knit with it. It's yummy!

Now I'm home, to do more spinning and maybe some knitting while I watch the Olympics. It is, after all, the Knitting Olympics, too! LOL!


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Snowstorm Files, Day 5

Day 5 of the snowstorm brings this: MORE SNOW.

School is closed (for the kids) through the end of the week. Friday was scheduled to be a teacher professional day (aka "training") in the first place, and we've been instructed to check back in to the website after 4 on Thursday (I think) to see if we will need to report. My guess is yes, since it's just us adults, but that's okay by me.

I finally made it out of the house today. I'd been leery because my sister and dad reported messy roads, but enough was enough and I went for it. Since my ex, who has the same model car I do, made it in to take The Boy to dinner last night, I figured I'd be okay. We won't mention that he got stuck on a hill, and had to go back and take the "smart" route out of the neighborhood or anything. I made it free and clear. We stopped by the post office and tried to go to the library, which was closed. A stop by McDonalds finished our run, and now we feel much, much better.

Good thing, too, because it's now snowing again. There's another storm upon us which will bring mainly snow, but has a chance of sleet and freezing rain as well. In all, we expect maybe 15 more inches and lost of wind. Whoa. We're praying that the power stays on, but if worst comes to worse, we'll hunker down in the basement/den with good ole' PopPop and his woodburning stove.

Today was momentous in another way - I finished the wheel. Here she is in her glory:

Not the best picture in the fading light, so here's a better picture of the wheel portion of the staining.

That's when (I feel) I had really gotten the hang of it. Thank goodness, too, because I was actually not too happy with some of the pieces - there are a few drips and 'runs.' But the wheel? Perfect (if I do say so myself)!

Everything is in working order, and I even spun long-draw style pain free to test her out.

This is some of the stuff I've been dyeing during the snow - I blended a bit of the lime green and brown with my handcards a couple times, and got a good blend. I think the brown/blue will be fabulous. My earlier thoughts of blending this romney with some of the lincoln locks I received are quickly dissolving, though - the romney is so very easy to spin and very, very soft! YUM!


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Monday, February 08, 2010

Cabin Fever?

Okay, so we are on Day 4 of the snowstorm saga, and I'm getting a bit bored. I have plenty to do here at my house, it's just not stuff I wanna do! LOL

Regardless, I did go ahead and tackle my bedroom today. I always seem to leave that for last since the mess inconveniences no one but me, but it's time. I'm finding that doing my yoga really helps out my back/hip situation, and my space is being encroached upon since I refuse to put my laundry away! I much prefer leaving it in a stack on top of the "off-season" clothes boxes in the corner, and that's what gives me the overflow/lack of yoga space. The room just ain't big enough for unnecessary piles!

Yesterday, my sister and I got LOTS of dyeing done. She really takes to dyeing, and found the easter egg colors to be intriguing - she kept pulling out more fiber and yarn and asking what was next, even though we'd run out of containers to dye the new stuff in. In all, though, we tried all methods of dyeing - microwave and stove top, easter egg dyes and food coloring (the food coloring was really, really interesting, and very controlled - you know exactly what color you are getting, and the placement was easy peasy!

Here a picture, but it's kinda horrible. The drying rack sits right in front of the oor in the basement, which has windows, and it's extremely bright in there right now!!

My main goal yesterday was to get lots of the blue, denim, and brown done (and that's what you see here), because I'm thinking they'll be nice colors to blend together on my hand cards. What do you think?

I've washed and dyed almost the whole Romney fleece now (one wash-bag full is in my tub now, waiting on more vinegar), and I'm hoping for a good amount of yarn to come of it!

Tomorrow is another day. Another day OFF that is. School's been canceled already, and there will be another Winter storm in the afternoon/evening, so I'm thinking I know what Wednesday will look like as well. With that said, I gotta go make my kid do something OTHER than watch Phineas and Ferb! See ya!


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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Snowstorm Files, Day 3

It's over.

The blizzard warnings were called off yesterday evening around 6. It was still snowing here, but clearly winding down. We haven't taken any measurements, but the news is reporting different totals from different people around the area. Anywhere from 20-33 inches, I think, has been reported. We are leery of going with the "official" totals, which are taken at Reagan National Airport. The airport is in a low spot for the area, and always has a lower total than we have in our backyard. Of course, that's when we actually have a measurable total, so 'whatev.'

The Washington Post's online link showed 24.5 for Camp Springs (right around the corner from Upper Mayberry!) yet only 17.8 for the airport. See what I mean!

Here are some of the photos from around our house this morning. In the aftermath!

This is looking out the front door at the carport. You can see that there are a couple cars under there. My dad made a path out yesterday evening. The rest we'll tackle together after breakfast, I'm sure!

Another view of the front - looking more toward the yard and out to the street where Wall-E cleared a car path last night. Seriously, a backhoe came by, pushing and dumping snow in a very methodical manner. The guy was AWESOME, but it really looked like Wall-E to me!!

This is on the deck. The egg-shaped lump there is the Webber grill, and that's how much snow is surrounding it. It's on the very edge of the deck, so the blowing kinda drifted around it, but you can see how much snow is surrounding it, and that's pretty much how deep the rest of the yard is.

Again the back yard - this time looking toward the table that's been moved to the side of the yard. You can see a bunch of things piled on top, but where the table starts is about hip level for me. I'm short and all that, but THAT'S A LOT OF SNOW.

So, how'd I pass my time yesterday? Being that I can't knit (or spin) and all, I decided to play with some fiber! Messing around on YouTube the other day, I saw this video from my new "friend" Tara at Blonde Chicken Boutique, where she dyed some raw fiber in a canning jar in the microwave using - guess what? - Easter Egg Dyes!!!! It was so easy, and I'd snapped up all the leftover Easter Egg Dye kits at Target and the FoodLion near my house last year, so I figured I'd be able to play all day!

And that's just what I did! Looky:

The fiber - the Romney I just received, and washed on Friday afternoon. From left to right, and top/back to front/bottom there are - purple, brown (!), blue, teal and green. I should say that both the teal and green were listed as "green" on the packages, but you know egg dyeing - close enough is good enough for them. No worries, as I plan to card most of these colors together with other colors and blend them. The brown I'm super excited about, and plan on using the rest of the dye tablets today on more fiber (I've got two pounds). The purple was a bit wonky, and gave some interesting color effects - blue in lots of places and a funky amethyst in others. Nice! Here's the fiber back on the drying rack after coming out of the dyebaths:

The colors are (top to bottom): blue, teal, orange (see below), then brown, purple, and green.

I also did some Lincoln locks in orange on top of the stove, but apparently forgot to take pics of that. I like it - I used a big hank of the lincoln, so used 3 orange tablets dissolved in the water, then put another crunched up on top so that some parts would be REALLY orange, and it worked!

I'm off to fuel up so I can shovel, and then I'll be doing more washing and dyeing today.


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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Snowstorm Files, Day 2, Part 1 OR "Blizzard Warning"

This morning when I woke up (6:25 am), I looked outside, was pleased at the progress the snow had made (I wanted to not be able to tell where the curbs were on my street). And, I could have sworn, the snow had stopped. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I checked Weatherbug on my phone.

They claimed that it will continue to snow all day, though, so I put my trust in them, ended the phone connection, and opened my new book - "Change of Altitude" by Anita Shreve.

Now that I'm up (it's 8-ish as I write), I see that it is indeed snowing again, and it does indeed look blizzard-like outside. The windows at the back of the house are difficult to see out of because the snow has blown around so much that it's stucking to the screens.

I took several pictures of the snow from the front and back windows. It's pretty deep in our yard. Apparently, the dogs needed help getting out, and the birds (the wild ones) needed to be fed - that's one of our snowstorm past-times, watching/naming the birds! - so my mom went out to shovel and feed. And got stuck! Thank goodness my dad was awake and came to rescue her! ROFLMAO!!!

So, how is the area dealing with the snow? Well, MOST people are heeding the advice of the public officals and staying off of the roads so they don't get stuck and/or in accidents, and so that the roadcrews can do their jobs. But not everyone.

Two people, apparently, in Virginia both got stuck. Going to get gas. Um, . . . didja hear that a snowstorm was coming? Shoulda gotten that gas earlier, bub.

Most events/businesses are closed today. Some are reportedly trying to open at noon. I'm glad I'm not one of the people who need to try to get there then, because even main roads don't look good right now, and the side streets for the most part haven't even been touched by roadcrews. This is serious stuff. My county and the areas east and a bit south are officially under a blizzard warning until 10pm. the rest of the immediate area is under a winter storm warning.

-There's been a report on the TV that a snowplow has now gotten stuck trying to do it's job. Wow.
-At least one hospital in the area was calling in all the expectant mothers who could possibly go into labor or were due this weekend. Just in case. An unexpected home birth would be very, very scary (not to mention dangerous in some cases!).
-I also, I know of a dialysis center that attempted to see ALL if it's patients yesterday. They didn't quite make it, but not for lack of trying!

That's it for now, but I'll probably post again this evening to say what the day has brought, officially.



Friday, February 05, 2010

Snowstorm Files

How about some updates on the snowstorm, Maryland style?? This should be funny. This area CAN'T. HANDLE. Snow. At all.

Lots of schools in Virginia closed for the day as of last night - when a pretty "official" say was on for the snowstorm happening outside now. The weathermen are listing this as a "crippling" snowstorm for the DC area - it's just "disruptive" for outlying areas. And by areas, I mean whole states.

My county released schools 3 hours early. They didn't state this until 5:30 this morning. That meant my school was released at 10:45. We'll talk later about how many of my guys actually showed up. When we dismissed at 10:45, it was not snowing where we are. The snow started at about 11:30-ish, and it's now going strong.

Government offices (remember, I'm just outside D.C.) were on an unscheduled leave policy. Basically - if you have leave available to take, don't feel as though you have to come to work. Take a day of leave - no biggie. Now, they'll probably close the offices later on anyway (if they haven't already), but they rarely shut down unless things are just frozen over!

I'll keep you updated on the snow's progress and the reactions of people to this. I can already tell you that if you just happened to run out of bread, milk, eggs, or toilet paper anytime in the last 24 hours, or the next 2, you're *&^% out of luck. There probably is none in any store, anywhere.

That's how we do.

And, since I also got the box of fleece that I was expecting . . . you can expect "washie" updates as well. I'm about to go upstairs to wash the first bagful now . . .


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Thursday, February 04, 2010

And Another One On The Way

So, Yesterday, I had a day off with The Boy. The reason? 3 inches of snow on the ground (which had melted off the roads and sidewalks by about 9:00 in the morning. Oy.

Here's the backyard in it's snowy glory, though. Beautiful.

Tomorrow, I expect an early dismissal (The Boy's school has already said they'll be closed) because yet ANOTHER snowstorm (this time, a "real" one) is on it's way late tomorrow morning, and it's supposed to turn out to be a big bear by early evening, and will continue to be so until sometime on Saturday. So, yet another snowed in weekend, and that's fine by me.

I spent a good part of the day taking my new wheel apart in order to get it stained/finished. I'm going the easy route and using "Polyshades" from Minwax, which is a stain and polyurethane all in one. That way, I don't have to go back over it with a clear coat once I'm happy with the color, which is "Pecan Satin." It will have a bit of a rosy brown to it, but not dark red cherry or anything like that. Should be somewhat natural, but not yellowish or plain old brown. Those were two colors I just wanted to avoid, but which seemed to be everywhere at good ole Home Depot.

There's the lovely all taken apart. I'm staining it bit by bit due to lack of space to spread out with some paint/stain-like materials. I can't guarantee that the four-legged friends will leave things alone while they're unsupervised, so I've got a couple pieces on a TV tray in my little living room, and I'll continue this way until she's finished! I'll hold off on the peeks at the color until I have it back together, though - a nice, dramatic before and after would be nice, right?

Now, I promised to show the process I've been going through for the BFL/Cotswold fleece, so here goes:

Remember this cute guy? He's holding the box of dirty fleece. I divvied it up with two other spinners at my spin group shortly after this picture was taken. I came home with about 2 pounds, or 32 ounces.

To start, pull of some large bits in preparation to wash small amounts at a time - REALLY hot water, and some Dawn dish liquid (takes out the grease/lanolin).

I do it in a bucket like this - usually the first time in the hot water with Dawn, the second is with just plain hot water (I use one kettle of boiling water from the stove, and then fill the rest of the bucket with the hottest tap water I can get), then another rinse or two with hot, hot water right from the tap, to try to get the rest of the soap out. When I remembered, I also put some Unicorn Fiber Rinse in the very last rinse, as a softener, but I didn't really need it with this fleece. It's very lovely!

The salad spinner is to spin the excess water out of the fleece without squeezing, which could cause some felting (it is really, really hot, after all).

Then, you wind up with a nice, lovely pile of CLEAN fleece. I removed the brown bits you see above, and I'll see if I can get by without them. This fleece was relatively clean, though - I went from 32 ounces to about 24 ounces, so only about 6 ounces of dirt/grease came out in the wash.

Spin up some lovely singles with the hand-carded rolags (I'll get pictures of those steps as soon as I'm able to do all that stuff again - I'm still resting, icing, and stretching my poor trigger thumb. Triggering less, but still a bit uncomfortable.

So, clear as mud? Who's ready to become a spinner?


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Monday, February 01, 2010


All this resting is really quite exhausting! Suddenly, I actually let my mind wander into that dark corner. You know. . . the one in the living room that holds too much junk. Well, in my teeny tiny living room, there seems to be just TOO MUCH all the time, but you know what I mean!

Yesterday, I dusted off and cleaned out under my desk. I found work/printed online textbooks from my Masters (that I've had now for four years . . . ), a few old bills (the rest will go to the bulk shredder just as soon as I do my taxes), and pretty much organized my fiber/yarn corner into neatness. Feels good.

Wish I was spinning.

Then, The Boy, my sister, and I also had a Create-Your-Own-Dino contest. We all created, drew, named, and colored/painted our own dinosaurs. Then, we had unwitting family members vote on their favorites. The Boy "won" but we all know my dinosaur - anglerobicus was the real winner. LOL So. Much. Fun!

I also have just about finished reading "The Tempest Tales" by Walter Mosley. This is one I was listening to on audio book while knitting before bed, but returned and checked out for real on Saturday. Along with 4 other actual novels. Maybe this will turn into a book-review blog for a bit . . . This one is really good - a funny look at life, death, sin, morality, heaven, and hell. Mosley is so good! Wish I was knitting and listening, though!

And, I also discovered a GREAT way to ice my poor trigger thumb:

Perfect fit, wouldn't you say? I may need a steady stream of these to keep things under control! LOLOLOL!

And, . . .

Did I tell you we had another snowstorm??

So far 2 feet of snow for the DC area this season. Woohoo! Now that's what I call Winter!!

Still wish I was spinning!

Rani - tomorrow, I promise a look so far at what I've done to the BFL/Cotswold fleece I recently purchased. I figure I'd best do this now, since I have 2 pounds of Lincoln locks and another 2 pounds of Romney fleece on their way to me as well!!! Tee hee!


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