Thursday, November 11, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Ole Ponce de Leon (early Spanish explorer of the New World) did not find the fountain of youth primarily because he was casting around Florida looking for it around the early 1500s when, in fact, said fountain of youth did not come into being until around 1839. Undoubtedly, you have one in your garage. The fountain of youth of which I speak is, of course (of course!), the bicycle.
When, as today, I approach my bike after having been neglectful of her for some time (months) I wonder if it will happen again as it has so many times before. And, I am never disappointed. Every single time on that first stroke I am transported back decades to roughly the care-free age of 10. While the wind no longer whistles through my long blond hair because it is not long nor blond and I wear a helmet, the sense of delight and freedom is the same. Even the bastard in the black SUV who was unsuccessful in his fiendish scheme to kill me couldn't squelch my joy in the ride.
For whatever you think ails the world, I propose a bike ride in October as the solution. Hear this politicians--I'll vote for whomever delivers a bike in every garage.
Posted by ann I am at 5:28 PM
Saturday, July 10, 2010
on a swelteringly hot Saturday in July 28 years ago today??? I know EXACTLY where I was, what I was wearing and who I was with. (I am pretty sure whom is correct there, but it looked dumb).
Posted by ann I am at 7:48 AM
Sunday, July 4, 2010
My spinning from the TdF prologue will eventually become a pair of socks. The more red-ish bit will be the toes and heels.
So, I seem to be getting stuff done without actually accomplishing anything because one project (spinning) begets another (knitting), and so it goes.
Posted by ann I am at 2:29 PM
Saturday, July 3, 2010
It is July and that means the Tour de Fleece is about to begin. The Tour de Fleece is a yarn spinning event that coincides with everyone's favorite annual sporting event, the Tour de France. The idea is to spin every day the Tour rides and to challenge yourself to accomplish something that you have not done before.
This year I'm spinning with team Fleece Bottom Girls.
Just in case I don't have enough to keep me busy during the Tour, or maybe to have something fun to knit in the car on the way to Montana, I'm planning on starting the Eiffel Tower Shawl, which I think is pretty darned spectacular.
AND, since this is my blog and I just feel the need to say so . . . Floyd Landis--SHUT UP, I believed and defended you -- I had my photo taken with you -- you cheated and lied-- and now you just need to take your asterisk-laden life and fade into obscurity, right now.
Posted by ann I am at 7:54 AM
Friday, July 2, 2010
Then * * * drum roll * * * we were off to . . .
Lynn and Gwen studied something, Margaret, Donna, Karin, Katherine, and Gina spun, Marilyn napped, and I took photos.
Dinner was Italian and delicious, as was our waiter-not pictured anywhere in this post. Jeannine, one of our number, had an ailing husband and couldn't make the trip but she sent money for wine. Jeannine was often toasted throughout the evening.
Sunday morning the cars were loaded with military efficiency and we trooped a few miles out of town to Maggies Farm where we were indeed greeted by Maggie, the namesake dog, and her friends-- the uber friendly sheep.
Garlic had just been harvested and was drying in the barn loft.
Again we ogled the wool--on the hoof and off. Then it was on to Free State Brewery for lunch and samples of tasty ales. One more stop at the yarn barn for last minute gotta-haves and it was time to travel home.
The deposit for next year has been made and the date is set in March for next years invasion--forewarned is forearmed. Me? I'm saving my money already.
Posted by ann I am at 7:15 AM
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Almost every time I say I have absolutely no interest in doing THAT (fill in the blank with developing film, printing photos, beekeeping, weaving . . .), next thing I know I'm doing that very thing. And the thing that I'm doing now is preparing raw fleece (sheep "fur" to the uninitiated) for spinning into yarn.
I said I would rather spend the precious little free time I have spinning or knitting or cleaning house than washing barnyard stuff out of fleece but somehow during the workshop I attended over the weekend, an overwhelming need to "do" a fleece took root. I walked by the bags of fleece several times and snorted derisively to myself. I bought some of the lovely stuff that was washed and carded and completely ready for spinning pleasure, thinking that I'd have to be some kind of nut soup to haul the barnyard stuff home. I these other people wanted to do that, goody for them--not for me though.
One one of several trips by the bags o' wool, some beautifully prepared (or it may have been just washed and not carded) dark brown, almost black, wool-- a rambouillet/teeswater cross caught my eye. Before I could make up my mind about how much I needed (oh yes, I do mean need), someone else bought all, all, ALL of it.
I then did the thing that I've convinced myself any sane person would do . . . I plunged my hand into the bag of raw fleece and asked, how much? I bought only a pound of it, because I've never washed a fleece and kind of needed to start small. Then, I bought two pounds of a white rambouillet/teeswater, just 'cause. And, here I am, anxious to wash, card, spin, and otherwise fondle my fleece.
Here I'll document the method I used to process the fleece. I regret not photographing the stuff before I started, so no before photos--here goes:
COLD WATER BATH--According to THE Judith (whom spinners will know is Judith MacKenzie) in an article published in the Fall 2008 issue of Spin Off magazine, a cold water soak for a few days will dissolve the suint (sheep sweat) from the fleece.
I bought a 5 gallon "Homer" pail for each pound of fleece. I'm told this is an unpleasantly odoriferous process, so I bought lids too. On Tuesday at about noon, I raced home for lunch to fill each pail with lukewarm-ish water, plunged a pound of fleece in and hammered on the lid.
After dinner on Friday, I opened the lids, lifted out the fiber and poured the yucky water on the flower bed.
Wet fiber, looking for love.
HOT WATER BATH-- According to everything I read, and the instructions provided to me by my friend, Karin, a really hot bath and Dawn dishwashing liquid is needed to remove lanolin from the wool.
Some folks suggest filling a clothes washer, letting the wool soak there without agitation, and using the spin cycle to dry the wool. I have a front-loading washer that is not too cooperative for such uses, so that won't work for me. I could take the wool over to my parents' house, but I personally do not think it is a good idea to run a bunch of dishwashing soap through the washer pump. It may be the suds that are harmful to the pump, but I recall a L o n g lecture for using dishwashing soap in the washer--it was probably the suds--most definitely the suds--LOTS of them.
Anyway, some folks suggest using a bathtub. I do have a bathtub. I also have bad knees and would rather not stoop or kneel more than I have to. So I used the kitchen sink, like Karin suggested.
I got the water as hot as I could from the tap, added about 1/2 cup of Dawn (original, not fancy smelling kind) added some boiling water to raise the temp some, whooshed the Dawn in the water, but not enough to make suds, and added the wool. I put the wool in large-ish lingerie bags bought for the purpose to make the task of getting the wool out of the water easier.
Lanolin is waxy but dissolves in hot water, and will reconstitute and adhere to the wool in a way that I understand is practically impossible to remove. So, although the wool has to soak for a bit, the water cannot cool too much. And, you are not supposed to add water because that will agitate the fibers and may cause them to felt, which is not a goal here.
I let the fleece sit in the soapy water for about 20 minutes, drained the sink, moved the drippy bag of wool, refilled the sink with hot water and Dawn, and let the wool soak for another 20 minutes. Then I repeated the process with just hot water to rinse out the soap.
DRYING THE FLEECE --I can't use my washer to spin the excess water out of the washed fleece because the washer ads water to the tub and I don't want to chance felting the wool. So, I bought a salad spinner to spin the water from the wool. I think salad spinners are an example of ridiculous excess and would not otherwise have one, but it was a fine tool for this task.
After the salad spinner treatment, I placed the wool on a big drying screen to air dry. Oh wait, I don't have a drying screen. Sooooo, while the first batch of wool was soaking, I put my fine carpentry skills to work and built one.
Yes, you do detect sarcasm, and yes that screw went in crooked, and no I did not take it out and start again.
I'm thinking that in addition to drying fleeces, the screen will be handy for lots of other stuff--B&W photo prints, dyed yarn, handwashed sweaters, etc.
I propped the new screen up on some extra laundry baskets and turned on a fan to circulate the air.
WHAT TO DO WITH A CLEAN FLEECE-- Aside from eventually spinning it into yarn, I haven't decided exactly what to do with mine. I could use my handy-dandy drum carder to blend the dark wool with the light wool, or I could dye the light wool, or I could blend the wools with some silk or some other fiber, or I could just card the wools as they are and spin them in their natural color.
That's too much decision-making for right now. So, the clean and dry wool will go into a storage tub with a lavender sachet and I'll think on it a while.
WILL I BUY RAW FLEECE AGAIN? Oh, hell yeah.
WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY? Buy more than 3 pounds, certainly. But NOT process that much at once--or maybe start earlier in the evening.
Posted by ann I am at 10:03 PM
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This photo shows the view from the back deck where I spend the weekend. I was at the Stagecoach Ranch outside of Sedan, Kansas with a group of 20 wonderful women at a dye workshop put on by the Wichita Weavers and taught by Linda Burt.
The 18 participants were divided into 8 groups. Each group was given 14 small hanks of undyed yarn. Each group was given different formulas to dye their yarn, using only the primary colors. At the end of the weekend we cut our yarn into pieces, attached them to cards and shared the yarn we dyed with the rest of the group. All of us left with samples of over 100 colors of yarn and the formulas to reproduce them.
The weekend was a visual feast--the food and company was good too.
I took about a dozen pictures of this color pyramid--it makes way more sense to me than the color wheel.
Blue, red, yellow, vinegar, salt, and a little soap were used . . .
. . . with a little bit of mad science--these two particular scientists are also bike riders. Gail and her husband just got a tandem . . . we had lots to talk about.
My partner, Amanda, is a computer support supervisor for Cessna. So the two biggest rule followers found each other . . . there was no nonsense at our station. Our reds and blues were dyed in a very orderly fashion, and the directions were followed to a "T."
Yarn and dye were put in quart canning jars, the jars were put in a water bath in a canner, placed on a burner and simmered for an hour.
Here are the blues Amanda and I dyed.
Here are all the samples attached to cards all ready to be distributed.
On Saturday morning I got up before almost everyone else and went outside to a sheep serenade, which for some reason just cracked me up.
Posted by ann I am at 8:44 PM
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Y’all knitters know that UFO means UnFinished Objects. Try as I might to avert my eyes from the train wreck of a storage problem that my UFOs produce, I can no longer avoid the issue. The reason for this has little to do with household hygiene, but more with needing to reclaim the bags where the UFOs are stored or the knitting needles that are tied up. That, and at this point even I cannot justify taking on any new projects until something gets completed.
So, I have come up with a plan. Simple plans work best. Therefore I plan to:
Ahhhhhhh–having a plan makes me feel much better.
I’d like to bask, but the reality is that this plan will also entail deciding what to finish. To do that I’ll have to define what constitutes a UFO which is problematic because there are so many possible definitions.
That rumbling-- I feel it, don’t you?--is the unmistakable sensation of my simple plan breaking down.
The first, and easiest, possibility is to define a UFO as a knitting project started, that is-- cast on but not completed. That definition might work for some, but not for me because I’m kinda special that way. If I define UFO too narrowly, I won’t deserve the I-worked-the-plan high I expect to experience. On the other hand, if UFO is defined too broadly, I doom myself to certain failure. Acknowledging my track record on grand plans, I know I’ll probably lose steam for this project by the time I finish this post, but still hold out hope that if the plan is realistic, things could work differently – THIS TIME. Well, they could!??!
So, to continue . . . Yarn purchased for a particular project should qualify for UFO status, especially if a completed item has been actually, or even mentally, promised to another individual. The loophole here is that a yarn purchase is not a UFO, even if it was purchased for a particular project, if a specific pattern and recipient was not (mentally) assigned to the yarn. For instance, the lovely blue wool that would make a great hat for my mother, is NOT a UFO because although I’ve found a number of patterns that would be nice, I have not committed to one pattern. (Besides that, I’ve made her one hat already this year). To be clear, a UFO must have 3 elements: specific yarn, specific pattern, and a specific recipient–plus I must be able to recall all three elements.
Gifts for babies already born are definitely UFOs, regardless of yarn status. Gifts for babies on the way should probably be honorary UFOs, even if the yarn has not been purchased. If I wait those items will go in the oh-shit-I-gotta-get-that-done category, which is a whole ‘nother (and usually unhappy) world.
As I ramble, I’m wondering if I should include sewing and weaving projects? Or would adding them depress me into a chocolate binge? Actually, the idea of a chocolate binge appeals to my hormonal self which is probably what started this nonsense, therefore sewing and weaving projects are invited to the UFO party.
All of which brings me to the point where I must actually identify the UFOs which signifies some level of commitment to completing them, and that scares me a bit.
Ado, Ado, Ado, Ado, Ado, Ado, Ado . . . . .
And, without further ado . . . . I give you
my UFO list
(I was tempted to say the list was in no particular order, but it does have an order)
Knitting UFOs cast on and taking up needles, physical and mental space:
Category 1--projects being actively knitted
– Olympic Reindeer Hat for Alex (20% complete, but just started this week)
– Skew socks for me (38.5% complete)
– socks on 9" circular needles (10% complete)
Category 2–projects cast on in the last 6 months, but . . . resting
– RAGBRAI mittens (35% complete)
– Bohus wrist warmers (50% complete)
– Gray cardigan for Meredith (Sr. Divine Providence) (5% started)
– Green cardigan for Me (15% complete)
–booties for Ellie, who is probably too big for them now anyway
– black wool scarf (20% complete)
Category 3– projects underway but stalled for quite a while
(serious doubts exist about whether I can figure out where I am)
– Linen Stitch Vest (Sally Melville Pattern) (30% complete)
– Cashmerino Wrap (50% complete)
Weaving UFOs, well stuff I need to get off the looms, anyway
– green and white dishtowels (I’ve woven 7 of them and YARDS of warp remains on the loom)
–red sock yarn scarf on rigid heddle loom
Sewing UFOs stuff cut out but not getting sewn
– jacket for niece Emily (fabric purchased about 4 years ago)
– costume skirt for me for spinning demos
– multiple bags cut out and partially sewn
I have fabric recently purchased for specific projects, but it would be too depressing to include those projects here too.
Other Stuff-- stuff I said I’d make, but which does not fit in other categories and which I need to get done
– Woven baby blanket for niece Ellie
–dog sweater for Wally
– Handwoven scarf of handspun for Mom
– Blue dishtowels for Mom
– Placemats for Mom
Disclaimer–Mom is not demanding, its just that stuff for her tends to go on the back burner–sorry Mom.
Further disclaimer– Dad, your handknit sweater hasn’t made the list because I can’t get the yarn until I get some of this other stuff done.
Dis-disclaimer-- stuff for babies not yet born was left off the list because I had to draw the line somewhere.
Posted by ann I am at 6:54 PM
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Aside from the mention of subjects that generally make me shudder--complimentary colors (that shade looks lovely on you); analogous colors (analogous to what, pray tell); split infinitives (to boldly color); and tertiary something or other--it is really a blast. Actually if you look at it right, and I am trying, the color wheel isn't all that scary.
Everyone came to the workshop with looms warped according to Margaret's instructions. One side of the loom is warped with dark colors and the other side with light ones, separated by black.
Then, we take a variety of colors and manipulate them according to Margaret's plan to produce a sampler of various colors and patterns.
The idea is to see how different colors interact with each other and the light and dark warp.
Some of the most unlikely color combinations produce the most pleasing results.
I can't wait to get back at it tomorrow--hope to post more later.
Posted by ann I am at 9:56 PM
Thursday, March 4, 2010
There are a couple of knitting events that run simultaneously with the Olympics, just like the Tour de Fleece is a spinning event that runs simultaneously with the Tour de France. (You know about that, right?) The idea is to challenge yourself to accomplish some difficult knitting goal and to knit toward that goal during the Olympics.
I planned to knit a cardigan for daughter Meredith (the nun, Sister Divine Providence), and began said knitting during the Opening Ceremonies. My parents, Beth, Kelly and I were all enjoying the event . . . THEN, the U.S.athletes came in wearing knitted reindeer hats. THEN, the comments began . . . "wonder if anyone we know could knit us hats like that," "no, we don't know anyone that talented," "Annie would never actually get them done," and on, and one, and on.
Well, it so happens that I recognize a challenge when one is issued, I have a big wide foolish streak in me, and I remembered seeing the pattern (free, no less) on Ravelry. So, I found myself at the yarn shop on Saturday, buying red, white, and blue wool yarn and knitting needles. (yes, I have dozens of knitting needles--and yes, I undoubtedly have the right size--but no, I was NOT going to waste valuable time digging around to find them, and possibly take them off another maybe unfinished project). I snap this photo (notice the Olympic-esque placement of yarn?) So, next thing was to cast on--I did, and knit about 40 rows of the first hat. It was waaaaaay too big. ARGHHHHHH back to the yarn store to get smaller needles. (previous yeses regarding my personal store of needles are fully applicable).
My plan to knit 6 of the terminally cute hats was derailed by a trip to Dallas with the beer knitter (yes we bought yarn), the need to work at the J-O-B, the selfish requirement of sleep, and an overwhelming fixation with actually watching the Olympic events.
I completed two hats--just two.
The recipients (my parents) seemed pleased.
Posted by ann I am at 7:19 AM
Friday, February 19, 2010
The advent of the entry of an I-phone to my life has caused me to neglect blogging in favor of posting to facebook and twitter which leads me to apologize for failing to post a blog entry on that most auspicious of holidays--Groundhog Day.
I did celebrate, though. Throughout the day I sent text messages with silly photos. I'm sure no one was an entertained as I was--I just crack myself up.
Anyway, since in my mind Groundhog Day isn't really over until March 1, I'll share the love here:
Posted by ann I am at 8:57 PM
For almost a year, I've been looking forward to a road trip with a group of spinners and weavers which was to have taken place the last weekend of January. We had an entire bed and breakfast rented, and 11 of us planned to trek to that fiber mecca--Lawrence, Kansas (home of the Yarn Barn). We had plans to eat, drink wine, shop, spin, and visit a farm that raises sheep or alpacas (I forget which). The crappy weather (I think it's called winter?) which has plagued planet earth for the last little bit derailed our plans.
I was, however, able to assuage the pain of the canceled trip. Fortuitously, a local spinner was getting rid of some equipment so just after the trip had been canceled, but right before the bad weather set in, the few dollars I had squirreled away for yarn purchases seared right through my pocket and resulted in the acquisition of these new toys.
Meet the ever-charming Mr. Drum Carder who makes these lovely piles of fluff waiting to be spun into yarn:
AND, the newest wheel in my growing stable:
These guys made being stuck in the house for four days bearable. So bearable, in fact, that I'm cheering for more snow.
Posted by ann I am at 7:35 PM