All posts by yarnzombie

Behold the dyeing fiesta!

There have been a few things I’ve been doing the past couple of days that have taken up all of my mental energy. The first is worrying about Toby, who seems to have some sort of bad thing going on with her right now. I won’t get into the details (because it’s gross, poor Toby), but we don’t know if she has picked up worms or a virus or what. So we’re taking her into the vet (New Vet, so we’ll see how well that goes) this afternoon.

The second, much more fun thing, is that I’ve been working on getting a buttload of fiber and yarn dyed. Travis has been helping, too, in dyeing some more of the sock yarn. And I hate to tell him, but that was the last skein of the leftover Kraemer yarn that I have – looks like I’ll have to order some other stuff just so he can have his own yarn stash. Of course, I’ve got plenty of fiber around the house for his dyeing needs as well, which is even better, because then he can spin with it.

I started with this pile:

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And wound up adding more stuff to it as the days went on.

The first major dyeing went on in the maiden voyage of the keggle. We threw in some of the Sheep Shed roving, some of those funky silk noil things I had gotten (yeah, not too sure about those), some sparkle fiber, and 4 skeins of the Kraemer yarn that I had dyed before the dye class, but now wanted to overdye, because they were all ugly. Wound up adding turquoise, green, yellow, and purple into the keggle.

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Also that day, Travis dyed a skein of the Kraemer yarn, and – god, it’s all a blur to me now! – we also dyed some mohair, and more sparkle and the silk noils. A note about the silk noils – they look exactly like what you would expect to find in a 30 year old stuffed animal if you gutted it. Pretty damn weird.

Here’s the end results of day one:

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Oh, I forgot to mention the silk hankie. Yeah, I dyed a silk hankie, too. Started spinning it last night, and I have to say, it is the worst spinning experience I’ve had to date. Drafting it is a nightmare. However, the yarn, although really slubby, looks pretty neat, and I know exactly what I want to do with it, so the resulting yarn should be awesome. It’s the spinning part that blows.

Close up of some of the kettle dyed sparkle fiber, because I thought it rocked:

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Yesterday, I dyed the ugly grey-brown merino roving that came with the Louet wheel. That was pretty much a nightmare to dye, since the water never came anywhere close to clearing, but I think the end result is really neat. No pictures of that yet, nor of the next few things because my light here today sucks (we got rain, so that’s good, at least). Also dyed up about 5 ounces of soy silk and a bit more of the mohair.

Travis and I had used the keggle to scour the cotton and rayon yarns and also some ramie fiber that I had. It’s been a while since I’ve dyed cotton. I started out dyeing cotton fabric, and after I switched to the protein dyes I realized how much of a pain in the butt it was to dye cotton. But this time, the dyeing adventure went better, I think in part due to the scouring process – we scoured the cotton at around 200 degrees or so (right below a boil) and I think we got off a lot of the surface funk.

I was afraid that my cotton dyes, since they’re kind of old at this point, wouldn’t dye as well. I had one color that seemed to go kind of weird, but everything else worked just fine. I dyed up the ramie fiber, some plain cotton yarn to be used as a warp, a cotton/rayon blend, and some rayon chenille yarn. I let everything sit overnight, which I think was another good thing to do.

Rinsing and washing the cotton yarn is a bitch:

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But went better than I had hoped, honestly. I’m still going to get some excess dye come off the next time I wash it, but that’s not a big deal, and it’ll be a pretty small amount, I think.

Here’s the ramie. It’s kind of a mess now, but I hope I’ll be able to straighten it out once it dries.

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And the yarn:

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I’ve got plans for some of that yarn, you know. Some weaving plans. Big things are afoot!

Oh, and because I didn’t get a chance to write Katie back before now, here’s the scoop! The sock blockers are made by the wonderful Becky Freeland. Her sockblockers are awesome, and I highly recommend them. You can check out her store here. And in regards to the loom, you can weave with pretty much as fine or as fat yarns as you would like. The loom came with a heddle that you can get thick fingering weight yarns through, but then additional heddles are available to purchase (I think they’re around $30 each? Maybe?) so you can use different sized yarn. I bought the next size down, which lets me use yarns that are around sportweight as the weft. There’s one more size down from that, which I think I could get really fat yarns through. And then there’s a thing that will let you use 2 heddles at once (which is crazy talk, I know!) so you can weave with really, really fine yarns and get a very thin fabric. I’ve got some tussah laceweight silk which is about 5000 yards per pound that I think I’d like to weave into fabric. Why? Heck if I know. Sounds like fun.

Anyway, more pictures later, hopefully, as stuff dries. Everyone think good Toby thoughts.

One day, two FOs.

Subtitle: Just one of the many reasons why I kick ass. 🙂

I finally got done with the Uber-Skein, so yesterday, before Travis went to work, he helped me warp up the loom for a day of weaving goodness. I had some Positano in Flurry that was too slubby to sell, so I used that as the warp, and some Barnwood in Glacier that had a different type of flaw in it, so that was used as the weft. I really love the colors in the Positano, so I wanted to use something in the weft that wouldn’t overpower it. The Barnwood fit the bill.

Warping always kind of sucks. It would take me a while to do if Travis wan’t being my peg monkey, running each loop of yarn down around the peg, but the worst part is getting all of the strands of yarn through the little holes on the heddle. It’s an awkward motion, and there’s not a comfortable way to do it. My back was already killing me when I was done warping, but by that point I was all excited – Yay, the warping is done! Woo hoo!

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Weaving goes really amazingly fast, compared to knitting. At least it does if you’re just doing a plain weave – I would expect a fancier pattern would probably take a little longer. But I don’t know how to do any of those yet. I cruised right along on it until I had to stop and give my back a break. So I took the rest time as an opportunity to finish up Travis’ socks.

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I had about 1 gram of yarn left in both colors when I was done.

Went back to weaving, and by about 4:00 pm I was done with the scarf! Pretty spiffy. It measures 8 3/4″ x 72″, so if you think of how long it would take you to knit something of that size, even garter stitch, you can get an idea of how fast weaving can be. And I tried to weave it kind of loose, because I wanted something that would drape. That’s the hard part, since it seems to make sense to beat down the weft firmly. I guess that’s good for making a rug, but not so good for a wearable item. Anyway, the scarf does drape, although slightly less than I had expected. But at least it’s not stiff like a board.

I wanted to do some type of fancier fringe, so I spent the next hour and half making these:

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Twisty fringe! Cool.

All of the pictures of the scarf I took came out kind of lame.

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You can’t really see the colors in this photo. Here’s an up close:

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I really love this scarf. And it was such a fast and easy project that now I want to warp up the loom with something else and get working on a new project.

We took the dogs to Wolf Run a few days ago again and actually managed to get some good Bela pictures. Since she’s black, she’s hard to photograph well.

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I love the shade of green in this photo:

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Oh, and apropos of nothing besides summer Office withdrawal, here’s Andy!

WTF? You know, I’m not sure if this country is even going to make it to next Inauguration Day.

The post in which I want a bunch of stuff

So! I got the new wheel!

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It’s pretty much a blank slate right now. I’m so used to looking at the bling and chainmail and Christmas lights on the Babe that, even though the Louet is nicer to spin on, I kind of missed the atmosphere. So I’m trying to decide how I should decorate the wheel. I pretty much want to cover the wheel on the side that faces me with bling. I’m thinking something Bollywood-esque. Unfortunately, I don’t really see a way that I could easily attach lights to this one. It’s going to require a lot of thought, because I kind of don’t want to screw it up. So I may get out the blinger later on tonight and see how easily the rhinestones adhere to one of the bobbins. If they don’t stick, I’ll have to change gears entirely.

The first thing I spun on the Louet was this:

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It’s a 3 ply yarn, something I don’t do a lot of (mostly out of laziness), called Barndance. What I like about 3 ply yarns is how round they are, compared to two ply.  I don’t know what I’m going to make out of it yet. I could always do a hat. Now I’m thinking if I had a lot more of it, I could make some type of long, funky cardigan thing with big fat cuffs to wear outside in autumn. This seems entirely plausible to me, even though I’ve never knitted anything like that before, and I don’t have any more roving of this color. I think I’ve still got the recipe, tho. Now the thought is there and it’s going to haunt me. It’s the Ghost of Knitting Future.

Because this post is pretty much all about the acquisition of stuff and the wanting of more stuff (what could be more American?), here’s what else I got along with the wheel yesterday. A swift! Believe it or not, I didn’t have one. Which is a damn shame, since most of the yarn I have (both Cider Moon yarn and the stuff I happen to spin or dye myself, in addition to commercial yarn I have) is in skein form. So, I finally have a swift now, which is really cool. It’s been a total pain for me to try and wind balls, and I hope having a swift will get my butt in gear to start doing some weaving. I have a ton of yarn I want to weave with, and it’s all in skein form. So over the next few days I’d like to ball some of it up so it’s ready to be used.

I started balling stuff up today, starting with my 115 gram ball of hand-dyed tussah silk laceweight. 1,250 yards. Yeah, that took a while. Anyway, the swift is nice. A little creaky, but nice.

I also ordered some weirdo fibers. There are some I think I can go ahead and use either by just spinning them or combining them with other fibers on the hackle, but I got things to be used on a drum carder. You know, whenever I wind up with one. Anyway, I got some mohair (which Travis thinks feels like a goat), alpaca (ditto), and ramie, which Travis thinks feels nice. I’m honestly not even sure how to dye the ramie. I think with cotton dyes? I’ll look it up before I do anything with it. Those are the fibers that I can go ahead and use right now without any problem. The ones that I think are going to be best carded into something is the sparkle fiber (Louet’s sparkle fiber is weird – it comes in locks, basically, and is kind of crunchy, but becomes really soft and shiny after it’s carded) and the tussah silk noils, which basically just kind of looks like a big beige matt. I’m really interested to see how they dye, and also how they spin – I’m sure it’s going to be really uneven and slubby, because as is, the whole thing looks like a mess o’ slubs. I may have to dye some up over the weekend and break out the handcarders because I’m really curious. The noils were really cheap, so I bought 2 pounds of them, so hopefully I like to spin with them!

So I got the wheel and the swift. Check. I’m still planning on getting a drum carder at some point – ideally, I would like to get one before the end of the summer. There are these shelving units from Crate and Barrel that I desperately need for my bedroom – we’ve had all of our books in a wall of cardboard boxes since I went through them all last summer. And you know, even though I don’t read all that much anymore, I’m thinking I would probably read more if I could get to any of my damn books already! The shelves look really cool, too. So that’s on the list as well.

It’s not a really long list – a drum carder and some bookcases – but it grew by half after I started visiting this website. The front page doesn’t look very impressive, but this guy is my new guru. When he says at the top of the page, “Everything I Know About Making Pictures” the dude does not lie. There’s about 12 tons of camera and photography related information at his site, including camera reviews, why the whole “more megapixels are better!” thing is just so the camera manufacturers can get you to spend more money, and how to do all sorts of things in Photoshop. Just from looking at his site (and not even very much of his website, at that) I feel like I’ve learned so much in the past few days. And not just that, because of a mention of ‘Batch’ in regards to Photoshop, I was able to cobble together enough information to figure out how batch resize and save web-quality photos. That may not sound like much, but that’s something that can take me *hours* (or at least, 15 minutes, depending on how many photos I’m working with) when I’m trying to get a shop update together.

Plus, I’ve always been interested in photography. I know frighteningly little about the technical side, but I know I enjoy taking pretty photos. 🙂 So, the third item on the List of Things I Want Now, Please, is this. The Nikon D40. It’s a digital SLR with amazingly good reviews everywhere I’ve looked. It seems like it can do everything I’d like it to do to start with, and then if I get to where I actually know what I’m doing, I can get more fancy shit for it. Plus, my buddy Ken has already written an extensive online ‘How to use the D40’ manual. So I can’t go wrong!

There’s been talk by the husband of getting this for me for my birthday, which is coming up. It’s pretty expensive (for us, not for how good of a quality camera it is, though. It’s cheap for that), but it’s one of those things where I use a camera pretty much every day of my life. So, it’s more than a toy, it’s an appliance! That just about justifies it in my head.

Mama had a baby and it was *twins*!

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Yeah, it’s a crappy picture, but I was too excited. Spinning geeks, read on! Food geeks, skip down to the part of the post that has food pictures.

So, I finally got a break from the skeining of misery and despair this afternoon, and decided to play with my bright shiny new hackle. I wanted to try and do a self-striping yarn, so I loaded it up like this:

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Then I went ahead and made 5 roving strips. I did things a little differently this time. First, I used a diz-button that had a smaller hole than I normally use. This made a thinner strip of roving, which was to be expected. Next, I normally start combing at the right side of the hackle and gradually work my way to the left, and then try to come back the other way. At some point after I’ve turned the corner, my roving strip breaks. And then all the other roving strips I make from that point on are noticeably crappier than the first, really long one. So this time, I made one pass of the hackle, from right to left, and then ended my strip. After that, I loaded more fiber onto the hackle and started again at the right side. This gave me better quality strips, but at some point I had too much fiber on the hackle and it started sproinging off, so I had to do two strips that were a little crappy to get them off. Still, better quality than what I normally get.

Here’s the resulting roving balls:

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Pretty, no? I wish the photo didn’t have that weird rogue strand of fiber in the middle of it. What’s up with that?

I got 5 balls that came out to about 1 7/8 ounces. And because I’m 12, I keep trying not to get all Beavis and Butthead every time I type ‘balls.’

Next step? Spinning!

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The strips were all pretty easy to spin. I was trying to spin thicker than my default, just to not get in a rut, and there are some weird skinny areas here and there, but since I am The Laziest Spinner Known to Man, I didn’t really care. Besides, it gave me an excuse to ply! I love plying! It’s my friend! It fixes all of my mistakes! Hooray, plying!

So I spun up some of the lime green roving, mainly because that’s what I had leftover from hackleing. I spun this even thicker than the striping roving.

I plied the first bobbin together. The first skein came out to 66 yards, 2 7/8 ounces, and was so fat and poofy that the Babe bobbin was absolutely full. I had only spun up about 2/3 of the green roving that I had, so I decided to go ahead and spin the rest of it up so I could ply the rest of the stripey yarn.

Skein number two? 66 yards, 3 ounces. How freaky is that? (Cue X-Files music in the background).

I’m going to go block them when I’m done with this post, so I can get pictures of them looking all pretty tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, it looks like the new wheel is going to arrive then! Yay new wheel!

And here’s the food part of this post. I have this thing where I get all into whatever I’m doing (say, spinning, for instance) and I don’t think about food until I stop and then realize that I’m absolutely starving and having a low blood sugar moment and am all shaky. At this point, I normally just grab the fastest thing around and eat it just to start feeling better. As a result, I eat a lot of crap. I consider it a good day when I can at least make my stand-by: Triscuits topped with turkey pepperoni and cheese. That’s what I consider a meal, people. My life is that lame.

So, today, I got all low blood sugary and shaky, yet I did not surrender! I assembled the following ingredients:

Butter (Mmm!)
Pre-diced ham cubes
3 new potatoes from the Farmer’s Market (1 red, 2 yellow)
2 small onions from the Farmer’s Market (1 red, 1 white)
1 small zucchini from the Farmer’s Market

I diced up the above into really small pieces (except for the ham, since it already comes that way) and sauteed in the butter:

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This made way more than I was expecting. It filled up a regular sized frying pan.

After the potatoes started turning golden, I whipped up 2 eggs. Then I dumped about 1/3 of the sauteed stuff into a smaller pan that my parent’s had gotten me for last Christmas. It’s cute and small and orange, and is range and oven safe. I dumped the eggs on top of the sauteed stuff and cooked on medium low for a few moments until the bottom set. Then I popped it into the toaster over at 300 degrees for 5 minutes until the top started setting, took that out and threw a slice of smoked Gouda cheese from Costco on top, and stuck it back in for another 5 minutes. I have no idea why I feel the need to source all of my ingredients like that. I think I’ve got some superior hippie thing going on (‘Look, I’m using Farmer’s Market onions!’). Anyway, I can’t stop. Someone please help me.

Never mind. After the Gouda got all melty, I figured it was done. Here’s what it looked like:

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It was really good, and I’m hoping somewhat healthy, in spite of all the butter, cheese, and egg. The best thing is, I still have a bunch of the sauteed hash left over so I can have it tomorrow, either plain, or with the 2 remaining eggs in the fridge. We almost never use an entire carton of eggs before the expiration date. You have no idea how excited this makes me. Woot!

Afternoon procrastination

I’m drawing out my lunch a little bit to give me more of a break before I go back to skeining, which is the absolute most boring part of my job.  Skeining.  Woo.  Can you feel the thrill?

So, two things.  Apparently, according to the Pimp Name Generator, my pimp name is Sugar Lips Trickz.  Check it, yo?

Also, since the great Threadless buying spree, I’ve been scoring the submitted designs.  Most of them suck, but I’ve noticed there are a few designers whose work I’m consistently drawn to.  One designer is nes-k, who designs very cute, clean, and fun graphics.  Travis and I each have this shirt (although don’t worry, we’re not going to wear it on the same day, because that would be horrible and wrong) , which is a nes-k design.  After looking at his(?) profile, I found out he has a blog!  And a store!  Unfortunately, both are in French, and I’m not sure if the store will do international shipping or not.  Probably not.  Anyway, if you want to check out the blog, you can see some really awesome graphics.

And speaking of graphic design, go look at Violet’s fishes!  They’re really cute!  🙂

Weekends rock!

Hola! Had a good weekend. A lot of fun stuff happened. Violet came by and hung out (sorry that you got lost on your way home, that sucks) on Saturday. She brought her drum carder, and I managed to not destroy it! Yay! I can see how much fun the drum carder can be, but there’s also a bit more of a learning curve than I had expected. I kept overloading the drum. I think I was just completely overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do, so I kept putting more and more fiber on the carder. I did manage to make these, though:

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They were really poofy and soft. I’ve spun them up, but they’re still on the bobbin.

We also did a bit of dyeing with some of the leftover dyes from the dye class. Violet dyed some alpaca and merino roving, and I played around a bit with some mohair locks I had gotten from the Wool Gathering last year. For whatever reason, they smelled incredibly good. Like they had been washed in rainbows and flowers. And even after dyeing and rinsing, they still smell really nice.

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Anyway, it was really nice to hang out with another fiber geek. 🙂 And Violet even brought me a button from ComFest, since I was too lame to go myself.

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I put it on the little bag I knit that can hold a ball of yarn.

Travis had a big brewday on Saturday, which is the first time he’s brewed in forever, so that was pretty cool. Even though I’m not a beer person, I always think it’s cool when he brews. A little scary, maybe, but cool. 🙂

We took the dogs out to Wolf Run again on Sunday morning. There was some weird church/Sunday School thing going on right at the entrance to the hiking trails, which I thought was kind of odd, but then again, I guess if I was going to go to church, I’d rather go to church outside on a hiking trail than in an actual church. The church group wasn’t that big, though, and after we walked a few minutes we couldn’t even really hear them anymore.

I tried taking a bunch of photos, but since it was dark in the forest hardly any came out. I did like this one:

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Bela rolled in poop on the hike, which is always fragrant and exciting.

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We had to hose her down after we got home. Eww.

Travis got all crafty on me when we got home and whipped out a brand new hackle for me (which works great, by the way, and I’m looking forward to using it later on this week) and a keg/kettle dye pot. The keggle is going to have to be used under Travis’ supervision, since I have no idea how to use the turkey fryer burner that Travis uses to brew. Maybe Travis will dye some more kick ass yarn.

Oh! Speaking of, here’s the first of his socks knit up. I just started the second one this weekend.

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The photo is a bit washed out – the colors are actually even deeper than that in real life.

To top the weekend off, we made a gigantic batch of Chex Mix. I have to say, this is one of our better batches. To the point where I’m not sure if I’ve eaten anything other than Chex in the past 24 hours. Which is a bit disturbing…

Fiber Friday

Fiber Friday on Craftster is always really fun – of course, the day I decide to link to it is a really slow day. I think a lot of people are saving up their roving to spin during Le Tour de Fleece. I didn’t have much, just these three random skeins I plied together trying to get some of the weird stuff off my bobbins.

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I’m still in a bit of spinning limbo right now, which is kind of where I was last summer at this time. A year ago I was still using my drop spindle, but was hoping that I would be able to get a wheel soon (and Travis got me the Babe for my birthday, which was awesome). Now, this year, I’ve got the S10 on order, although I’m not sure when it will arrive, and I’m kind of ambivalent about starting anything on the Babe. Which is kind of ridiculous, since it’s not like I can’t ply stuff together using different bobbins.

There are some things I really like about the Babe. The first is the rampant use of velcro everywhere, which is ingenious to me, especially the small bit of velcro that is placed directly below the orifice, so you can stop spinning and just velcro your fiber at your stopping place. Brilliant! The other really cool, really simple thing about the Babe is the fact that their lazy kate is essentially holes drilled into the PVC base at an angle, and small dowel rods sticking up from them. You can just place your bobbins on the dowel rods and ply without any problem at all.

The S10 comes with a 2 bobbin lazy kate, but I’m thinking that if I want to spin 3 ply or more yarns, I’ll just take a page from Babe’s book and rig something really cheap (yet effective!) together.

So, I’m anxiously awaiting the S10, but I’ve got other spinning plans on my agenda. The first is a new and improved DIY hackle. The one I’m using right now consists of 5 plastic picks and works pretty well, but I’ve always wanted to try it with metal picks – but for whatever reason, I couldn’t find any metal ones around me. Kristy actually did make one with the metal picks, using 8 of them, and she graciously offered to swap me an additional 8 for some fibery goodness. They arrived a few days ago, and as soon as I (or really, Travis, because he’s going to be the one doing this, probably) get a chance, they’re going to become a brand new shiny hackle for me. I like how Kristy made hers, I think the only change I would make is to just cut off all the ends of the picks with a table saw, so that the hackle can lay flat and be clamped directly to a table top.

And finally, I want a drum carder. I mean, I have utter and complete serious drum carder lust. I think the one I’m going to wind up with is this – I definitely would take a fancier, bigger model, but don’t think I can justify that amount of money on it right now.

So I’ve got spinning on the brain, obviously, which is kind of funny, considering how little actual spinning I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been in a knitting mode for so long, and I’m distracted by all of this impending equipment, that I just need to get my act together, pick out some roving, and make some damn yarn already.

I’m about 4/5 of the way done with the sock that’s knit primarily out of Travis’ hand dyed yarn, and a more dramatic 3 x 1 ribbed sock I have never seen. I’ll get a pic of it tomorrow, but it’s really gorgeous. I wish I had more of this color yarn, since it would make an incredible sweater. I’ll have to see if we can reproduce the color somehow.

We have some random wild berries (blackberries, I think?) growing behind our house. Last year was the first year we noticed them, and we harvested enough of them for Travis to use in one of his beers, which is cool. Today Travis picked the first little harvest:

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Berry-licious!

We tend to have a complete laissez-faire attitude twards most of the plants that grow on our property, to the point where it’s out of control, actually. Sometimes, volunteer maple seedlings need to be cut down. They can’t grow everywhere. But they do, and we’re lazy. But we do have some really cool things growing with absolutely no assistance from us whatsoever, and my favorite is the milkweed:

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If you click on the link to this next picture, it’ll take you to its Flickr page. Go to it and view the large (or original) size and see the happy bees:

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It’s pretty nice to have bees around, especially with all of the bee colonies dying out. Hopefully we can keep the ones around here happy and healthy.

Surprisingly a lot to do with green beans, actually

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(There are more pictures at the bottom of this post. Just bear with me.)

The problem with owning (or, in my case, co-owning) one’s own home based business is that you can’t really escape it. It’s not like you get up in the morning and go to work, and then come home in the evening and do all of the non-work stuff you would normally do. A home based business is always there, surrounding you, and I’ve come to realize that if you don’t have it under control, it can completely take over your life.

The week after Knitter’s Connection, I realized that I was so sick at looking bins and bins of yarn in my living room that something needed to be done. I wound up moving the bins to the back room (Ellie’s room). That’s the room where I have my sewing stuff set up, but since I haven’t had the chance to sew in about a year – although, hopefully, that will change soon – and I’m not often in that room, why not move the stuff there. I don’t have to continually look at it, and the yarn and fiber is all happy in their bins, so everything is good.

Another thing I realized that I had to do in order to get my life back under control was limit the amount of time I spend doing work stuff. It’s gotten completely wonky, especially the past 6 months, and if I don’t watch myself, it’s very easy to spend every waking moment doing yarn-related things and thinking yarn-related thoughts. I love yarn, but I know that if I want it to continue to be fun to do (and like Ben and Jerry said, “If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing), I’ve got to back away from it. It’s like getting in the mood to eat a certain food. Say, green bean casserole. It’s Christmas, and you have green bean casserole (although not the kind made with cream of mushroom soup; that stuff is just nasty) and you remember how much you like it and think, “Why don’t I make this all the time?” So you start making it all the time, you’re buying green beans in bulk at Costco and then you see that Trader Joe’s has some nice Dutch-imported french fried onions for the top and they’re awesome, and you wind up making the best tasting green bean casserole there is. And you keep thinking of ways to make it even better, and you keep making it and tweaking your recipe and all of a sudden one day you eat it and realize that it doesn’t even taste good to you anymore. And you still have 15 pounds of frozen Costco green beans in the freezer. Then what do you do?

I don’t want to get to that point. I don’t want that many beans in my freezer. I think even this metaphor has gotten entirely out of hand. But you get (hopefully) what I’m saying – I’ve realized that I have this tendency to become completely obsessed with something, be it gardening or quilting or yarn, and it gets out of control, and then suddenly there’s a bad taste in my mouth. But this time is different, since there’s a business involved and making money is a good thing.

So, I needed to adjust the way I was doing things, and I think I’ve gotten a lot better handle on things now. I’ve decided to work a set number of hours a week, and I’m going to stick to it. Once I hit the limit, I’m done. Also, I’m going to try to work primarily when Travis is at work. He works a full time job, thankfully, that provides us with things like health care and money for food, but he works on call and can be gone for up to 2 days at a time. That makes it near impossible to plan things, but we used to be really good at being random and spontaneous, so it all worked out okay.

Notice I say we used to – with the Great Yarn Frenzy and higher gas prices, we don’t travel like we used to. When we lived in Indiana, we would always take Toby hiking at the state parks that were near us. Of course, we were spoiled by Indiana’s awesome state park system. After we moved to Ohio, we discovered that Ohio’s state parks weren’t nearly as well run as what we were used to, and so that kind of dampened our enthusiasm for going new places and exploring. Of course, we’re idiots in that regard, because we entirely overlooked what was right in our face the whole time, which is that there are more outside recreation areas that exist besides state parks.

The past few years, it’s gotten to where we only go camping and do any sort of major hiking once a year, and that’s when we take our big vacation in the fall. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose, because if you don’t exercise throughout the year, then you go on vacation and realize that you have no muscle mass whatsoever and can’t do a lot of fun stuff. And that’s not only lame for us, but also for Toby and Bela, because they want to run around and have a good time as much as (if not more, certainly) than the humans do.

So, when we went for the random spontaneous hike with my dad last Saturday up Mount Kenyon, I also managed to pick up some brochures on local park areas. And today we took a trip out to Wolf Run Regional Park.

It’s about a 7 minute drive from our house, approximately the same time it takes to get to the bike path. But we wound up liking it a lot better than the bike path for several reasons:

1. The bike path is for, well, bikes. Sure people walk and run and rollerblade on it, too, but there are always people on bikes zipping along. Which is great for them, I have no resentment towards the bike people, I just always feel bad when they have to slow down because we can’t get the dogs out of the way fast enough. Sorry bike people! But have you seen Toby’s butt? It’s awful hard to forcibly move that thing quickly.

2. The bike path always has people on it. And we go out of our way to avoid people. That’s why we go on vacation in the fall, because kids are back in school and most people have already taken a summer vacation. A lot of people around stresses the dogs out, and us out, not necessarily in that order.

3. The bike path is paved. Again, great if you’re on a bike or in a wheelchair, not so great when you’re a dog walking on it on a sunny day.

So, being used to all that, Wolf Run was a treat. It was absolutely deserted. There are a total of over 5 miles of unpaved hiking trails (of which we only hiked a little more than one mile today) that go through both woods and grassland. The terrain is slightly hilly. The trails are well marked, which is always a plus. Also, the brochure states that they’re trying to get a dog park approved by the city, so dogs would have an official are where they can run off leash (uh, not that we know anything about unofficially having your dogs off leash).

Toby was so excited by it all she pooped 3 times in about 5 minutes. Good thing we bought the jumbo pack of poop bags last time we were at Petsmart! And Bela was all wound up from the very start, since we had passed some Amish with a horse and buggy on the way to the park. She was barking and barking at the poor horse. I like to think it translated as “Holy crap, that’s the biggest dog I’ve ever seen!!”

Again, it was about 85 degrees outside and we didn’t bring water, although we were wearing better footwear this time. Here’s Travis giving the dogs a drink (there was a small creek, but the banks were so steep we didn’t want the dogs trying to get down into it):

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Of course, they wound up wallowing in the mud later anyway:

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Scenic vista!

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Toby on the go!

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So all in all, it was really nice to start getting back into the groove of screwing off and having fun. That’s what we’re really good at, and it’s been a shame that we haven’t done it more often. I told Travis that we’re going to start having Forced Recreation Days. You’re going to have fun and like it, dammit!

My new spinning wheel was ordered today (yay!) and I’m hoping to have it in before Le Tour de Fleece starts. Travis actually sat down and spun today, and he was quite a bit better than he thinks he was. I’m at a point now where I have a ton of roving in my house, and I’m just trying to figure out what I’d like to spin next. A nice problem to have, actually.

Hand dyed sock yarn cage match!!

First of all, Ellie seems like she’s doing much better. She’s been a bit more active today, starting with banging on the door to her room (Ellie is confined to her own room at night because I can’t sleep with her running around like a lunatic at 3:00 am) at 7:00 am. That’s normal for her, and she hasn’t been doing that the past 4 or 5 days, so that’s a good sign. It sure would nice to be able to sleep in for a change, though.

She’s still keeping her one eye closed a bit, but when it’s open, it looks like it’s starting to clear up. I’m not sure if any of her eye medication I tried to apply this morning actually got in her eye, but fortunately, Travis should be home tonight and surely the two of us can take a 10 pound cat, right? Right? (insert skeptical crickets chirping here).

Right before we left to do the Knitter’s Connection thingy, I was having cat-related guilt pangs since we would be leaving her at home by herself during that time. This is a hard thing for me to do, being a dog person and all – you either take your dogs with you when you go places, or you find someone who will watch them. But having a cat is still a strange and foreign thing to me at times. Apparently, cats are just dandy if you leave them by themselves for days. As long as they have food and water and a nice place to poop, they seem to do okay.

Still, coming from my dog-background, it just doesn’t seem right to leave them alone for 4 or 5 days. Especially since Ellie is an only kitty (and if any of you are gluttons for punishment, I dare you to suggest to Travis that Ellie needs a kitty friend. Go on. Try it. It’ll be fun.), I’m afraid she’ll get lonely.

Where I’m going with all of this is why we wound up buying this…

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…at Target about 2 days before the show. And also, another, larger, piece of cat furniture from the same line for Ellie’s room as well. Cat guilt. It can get expensive.

(Oh, and notice all of the miscellaneous dog toys in this photo? This is how I live, people. Our entire house looks like that. Don’t ever let it be said that our dogs have a want for toys)

The cat furniture is kind of unstable, but Ellie actually seems to use it, at least the circle of doom in the living room. See that dark smudge in the upper right quadrant of the circle? That’s Ellie. She only seems to use her little screened in room at all – she completely shuns the nice pillow area on the bottom of the circle, and I’ve only ever seen her stand on top of the whole thing once.

To get a better perspective of what it must be like to live inside the circle of doom, I got all National Geographic/Discovery Channel and took this picture of Ellie inside her native environment:

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I’m pretty sure that if it were possible for cats to give someone the finger, that’s what I would have gotten right then.

On a different note, I finished my dad’s socks today!

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And a close-up of the incredible, gourd-y orange my dad managed to get on his very first time dyeing yarn:

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Breathe deep – you can almost smell the burning leaves and feel the crisp autumn air.

Dad was talking a lot of shit to Travis during the Dyeing of the Yarn, especially since Travis decided to overdye his skein. There was some grumblings of ‘beginner’s luck’ that were heard. Yarn dyeing suddenly became a lot more competitive. So, to mess with both of them, I decided to use Travis’ yarn as the heels and toes to Dad’s socks, and I’ll do the opposite with Travis’ socks. Now they’re both going to have to live with each other’s yarn! Ha!

I was going to write about the skeevy pirate dude on the 4-wheeler across the street from me, but I’m hungry, and that’ll have to wait for another post. But trust me, that’ll be a rant that you don’t want to miss.

Bummer

Ellie-bean, our cat for those who don’t know, has been sick the past few days.  From pretty much when she first showed up at our house she’s had a bit of weirdness with one of her eyes – her right eye gets cloudy on occasion, but it normally clears up within a few days.  Well, she’s had this again recently, but the eye isn’t clearing up and she’s been keeping it closed more often than not.  So we took her to the vet this afternoon.

An aside about the vet – since we’ve moved here in 2001, we’ve been fortunate to have the same vet, who has always been awesome.  It’s really nice to have a vet that you trust.  However, a few weeks ago, we received a lett in the mail saying she was quitting her practice in order to move to a different city and stay home and take care of her kids.  Which is great for her, but really sad for us.  So, her practice has been bought out by two vets who apparently 1) just graduated vet school, and 2) aren’t married, but are apparently living together (according to the gossip from the vet techs).  I don’t really care at all that they’re living together without being married, but it seems really kind of odd to me that they’ve committed to co-owning such a demanding business together while they’re just living together.  I don’t know, maybe that’s just me being weird.

We haven’t been introduced to the guy vet yet, but we had to take Toby in last week for her annual shots and stuff.  The female vet was there, and we were not impressed at all.  She was over a half hour late getting in to the exam room without even apologizing for our wait.  She continually referred to Toby as ‘he’ (and I know, Toby’s normally a boy’s name, but come on, get it right after a while).  She made Toby jump when giving her a shot, something Toby has never, ever done before – she’s normally so laid back when going to the vet that there’s never any problem with her.  We weren’t given her blood test results back until the following day, after we had been promised them the afternoon of the exam.  And even then, we had to call and request the results before they were given to us.  And, to top it all off, we felt like she was more interested in treating the exam as a commercial for various vet-related projects instead of, oh, actually examining our cancer-surviving dog.

So that really pissed us off, and we decided after Toby’s visit that we would start looking for a new vet.  Unfortunately, Ellie’s eye thing came up and we pretty much had to get her in, so back to the new vet we went.

For whatever reason – it may have been that the vet had had an extra week to acclimate to her new environment, or maybe she was just so relieved that a patient had returned to her rather than just show up to get their pets’ records (like the other person we saw in the office today), or maybe she’s just better than cats with dogs – but the vet was a lot better this time.  She actually seemed to know what she was talking about, and didn’t try to sell me anything extra until I asked her about stuff (any type of supplement to give Ellie to promote eye health).

So, the vet gets a reprieve.  For now.  We’ll see how she deals with Bela.  That ought to be a hoot.

Anyway, I had googled some cat eye health stuff before the vet appointment, and everything New Vet told me was pretty much in line with what I had read earlier.  Maybe she read the same websites!  We were given some ointment to apply to Ellie’s eye over the next week.  That is going to prove to be a nightmare.  Travis and I managed to get some on her eye before Travis went to work tonight – he held her down, and I squirted the stuff on her eye.  I have no idea how I’m going to do this myself.  It’s going to suck pretty majorly.  Oh, and did I mention that eye things totally squick me out?  I was getting nauseous at the vet’s today when New Vet was examining Ellie’s eye.  So you can get an idea of how well this is going to go.

In other news, I’m almost done with Dad’s socks.  I have about half of the foot on the second sock left to knit.  Hopefully, I can finish them up tomorrow and ship them out to him on Thursday.  Then I’ll start Travis’ socks from his hand-dyed.  That’s the good thing about this Kraemer yarn – knitting socks on size 5 needles takes about 5 seconds to do.

Oh, and Karida, here’s the blinged-out Babe:

I’m hoping to get a new spinning wheel soon (actually, I hope to get it ordered tomorrow), so the Babe is going to be used primarily by Travis after it comes.  But the new wheel probably is going to wind up with a bit o’ bling on it as well…