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!  🙂

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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…

More food! Also, dyeing and hiking

Man, I’ve got to do something about these jungle animals in the blog’s banner. I like tigers and turtles and fish as much as anyone, but every time I click on the blog I think I’m at the zoo.

Anyway, my dad just left. Yesterday was pretty fun, we went to the Farmer’s Market at the square in Mount Vernon. It’s such a cute little Farmer’s Market, and the selection of food they had available for so early in the season was pretty impressive. It’s also nice that they have a couple of different people selling organic, grass fed meats there, too. I’m trying to cut back on eating meat, and when I do have it, I’d much prefer that we get it from somewhere local or Whole Foods, just so we kind of have an idea of what we’re getting.

Travis and Dad dyed some yarn later on in the morning. I told Dad if he dyed yarn, I would knit him socks out of it. Dad’s came out completely different than what we had expected. He poured on yellow in the middle, and then a really nice leafy green, and then a reddish color. But after he blended it, it came out orange. A really beautiful rusty, autumny orange, with hints of green here and there. But more about the yarn later.

We went over to the Kenyon College Environmental Center in the afternoon and wound up taking a spontaneous hike. It was one of those things where we had no fluids with us, the temp was about 85 degrees, and none of us were wearing appropriate footwear. Good times! The trail went up a big hill and then through a little pine forest at the top. We’re not sure where the trail went after that, so we just came back down a different way. Here’s a picture of Dad trying to take a picture of me pointing to the map (we were at trail point #5 on the self-guided hike, I believe).

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This was at the scenic overlook near the top of the hill.

When we got back to the bottom, we wandered around the gardens they have for a while. A lot of really pretty flowers are starting to bloom.

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Here’s a butterfly!

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When we got back to the house, I spent a little time blinging out the drop spindle I got from the Yarn Shop yesterday.

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Now it kind of looks like a scepter. Weirdly, when the spindle spins, you can’t even see the dark blue bling at all. I had to add the light blue bling so that I could tell something was there. I may go ahead and order some lime green and silver bling to add to it. I have both of those colors, but in a slightly different bling form, and they’re a lot more difficult to apply. So far, adding the bling hasn’t affected the weight or balance of the spindle yet, so that’s a good thing.

I washed out the bamboo/merino Yarn Love handspun and also washed the hand-dyed yarn that Dad did. The YL handspun doesn’t seem to have fluffed up at all with blocking, which is fine. I’m still thinking maybe I’ll knit a shrug with it, but I think I just need to look at it some more before I decide what I’m going to do.

Here’s Dad’s yarn, and the beginning of his sock. It came out really gorgeous:

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And here’s Travis’ yarn after he overdyed it. It’s stunning, too:

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Last night for dinner we had a meal without meat, which was refreshing after hiking up the hill. I think everything came from the Farmer’s Market except for the red bell pepper and the fresh mozzarella, both of which came from Whole Foods. The Farmer’s Market had kohlrabi! I love kohlrabi!

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Oh, I also finished up Travis’ socks from his first hand dyed yarn last night, too.

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So I don’t want to hear any more shit about how Travis doesn’t ever get socks that match. 🙂

Dad left a little bit ago to go back home, but not before he had to publicly humiliate Bela a little bit.

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Poor Wee Bay. Anyway, we’re hoping Dad manages to find his way back home and not get lost in all the construction. My big plan for today is to spin and knit a little bit, and try to figure out my work schedule for next week. Violet and maybe Lizzie are going to come up on Saturday for a Fiber! Fun! Fiesta! so I’m really looking forward to that.