Ready for December

November 30th, 2015

Mostly because Dec 1st brings vacation, I am ready. I wish I could say it was clever planning, but in reality it was a happy accident that I only have one full work week in December. Next year, it will be clever planning, I hope. I am working today, not technically December, but the first week of December, and it shall be a one day work weekas I fly off to NJ early tomorrow morning. I fly back on the 8th and that will be a 3 day work week. The third week of the month will be my full work week, culminating with our office xmas dinner, so still a bright spot in the week…Then the following 2 weeks are 2 day work weeks because of holiday closures.

While it’s true that the art department usually works through the holiday, and this year is no exception, at least those closed days we have to work will be rather quiet. No nonsense, come to the office to get shit done sort of days are among my favorite. And then the time I have to work is comped early in the following year. I might be the only one who officially takes advantage of this policy.

The past 3 years (I am pretty sure it is 3) I have taken the time in the form of a spinning retreat at Mo Ranch with Judith MacKenzie. It has been wonderful. This year, PLY magazine is having it’s first spinning retreat in Kansas City. If it were not following directly behind Mo Ranch, I would figure out a way to do both. I will seriously miss the week spent with Judith. And of course, I am holding out hope that she will be at Ply Away.

Yay for December!!

Reading list

October 18th, 2015

I have had a few pre-order books come in over the past few weeks. Of course then, I was distracted by Spinzilla and the Hill Country Yarn Crawl, so the books have had to wait. Today, I get to start diving in. The following are in no particular order.

From the publisher: In the Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks details the completion of a mission the author, Debbie Zawinski, a Welsh-born Scot, set for herself: to travel and camp throughout Scotland, find cast off tufts of wool from 10 Scottish sheep breeds, then spin the wool on her spinning stick while walking (or waiting for ferries), and finally design and knit one pair of socks to represent each breed…all the while writing about her adventures and taking plenty of photographs.

I have glanced through this book and the photography is lovely. I think it will be a savor as long as possible sort of read and I hope to spin and knit at least some of the socks.

OF course, there is also a new cookbook in the mix.  The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure by Alana Chernila. I read her blog and like her writing and this book also has some lovely photography going on. I have already cooked one of the recipes and am excited about trying many more.

Another cookbook recently acquired is My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients that Make Simple Meals Your Own by Alice Waters. Definitely enjoyable reading. I feel there is a little too much taken for granted about how the reader might already cook or have an established kitchen somehow, but the ideas still certainly come across.

Somewhere recently, I came across something written by Pico Iyer. The writing itself was so very well crafted and I was drawn in. It made me look him up and I discovered many titles. I ordered 2 right away, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. From the publisher: Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.

I was immediately intrigued, and having read just the introduction I am captured. I want more from this writer.

As already established, I ordered 2 of his books. It was hard to pick because they all sounded intriguing in one way or another. Then I saw The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

This became a bit of a no-brainer because you simply can’t go wrong with the Dalai Lama. I am looking forward to this book greatly.

Last on my little list for now is The Grave Soul  by Ellen Hart. Definitely my favorite for lesbian fiction. I really love her Jane Lawless series and am always greedy for more. The characters are so very well developed. As soon as Ellen Hart announces her next book is available for pre-order, I sign up, and then happily await its arrival. I will reserve cracking this open until I have (or take) a long weekend because I already know I will not want to put it down.

Spinzilla 2015 final yardage

October 12th, 2015

Final yardage 2015

​The blue: 353 yards 2 ply = 1059

The green: 233 yards 2 ply = 699

The oaty: 60 yards 2 ply = 180

The red mix: 200 yards 2 ply = 600

The pink: 227 yards 2 ply = 681
The yellow/orange: 213, 100, 57 yards 2 ply = 1110
The dark mix: 53 yards 2 ply = 159
The mini 4hens: 35 yards 2 ply = 105
4593 total plied yards
2.6 miles
(Last year was 4450.58 plyed yardage or 2.53 miles)

Spinzilla update

October 9th, 2015

spinzilla work batts002lores To the left is a scan of 2 batts I made with all my recent fiber waste. I brought them in to work this week to spin up on my Kundert drop spindle. It has 3 shafts, so I could spin and go, and hopefully figure out how to best ply the singles together. I have finished the darker batt and am about half way through the lighter batt. Since it is all waste, I really don’t have to pay much attention to how it is spinning up. I will knit it up into a hat or mitts for a charity project.

This is the darker batt when it was about half done. I had a bit of an allergic reaction this afternoon, so I am guessing something in the mix of these batts might be the cause.

But it is also just as possible that it is stress related. I am majorly stressed (for me) at the moment about work. There isn’t really anything I can identify as being the culprit as everything is pretty much the same as it has always been. If I could have a tantrum and get my own office, I feel like I might find an even keel once again, but the bspinzilla work batts003loresoss does not respond well to tantrums (and really, I don’t enjoy having them) so I feel like waiting it out is the only solution. We are almost done adding some office space and I am trying to remain expectation free about the outcome of whether or not I will get one of the new offices. I feel a little Gollum about it…my precious…

This is the big batt all finishedI like the occasional pops of neon green and wish there was a little more of that. I will measure the yardage and hopefully find I have enough for a shawl.

barry 1 2plyIn the finished yellow/orange, there is definitely enough yardage for something substantial, though I am not sure how much it will puff up when I wash it to set the twist. spinzilla plying 1So many variables yet to fall into place.

Judith woolsilk singlesThe final image is half of a wool, silk, 50/50 mix dyed by Judith MacKenzie. I am spinning the second half of it when I get home in an effort to slough off the sludge of office stress from the week. Hopefully it will do the trick. I am not sure what sort of yardage I will get from it as it is only 2 ounces, but I am sure I can find or spin something to combine it with for some dreamy knitting once I am done with the dreamy spinning. Soft and luscious all around with 50% silk!!

Spinzilla 2015

October 7th, 2015

This is my second year participating in Spinzilla, a global event to bring attention to handspinning.

Last year, I finished up with 5 skeins of 2 ply, or 1223.98 yards, plied yardage of 3671.94…and 194.66 yards of 3 ply, or 778.64 for a grand total of 4450.58 plyed yardage or 2.53 miles in 46.5 total hours! The only goal I had last year was to make enough to earn the Monster Mile rating, which I did (1760 yards).

This year, I have pulled 2 pounds, 14 ounces out of the stash, all stuff that is already prepped and that I don’t think I would further blend in other ways.

plan to spin I was going to be ambitious in a different direction and dye and prep fleece from my stash. When that didn’t happen, I decided to gather up fiber that I didn’t think I would use to blend with other stuff, fiber that was already otherwise prepped to my liking. I also took individual photos of each bump and am entering them as spinning projects on Ravelry today.

The 4 tall bumps are all about 8 ounces each and are from Taylored Fibers in Quilcene, Washington (Barry Taylor) that I bought on the Farm Tour in 2014 (where last year’s sweater spin fiber is from).

There is a large blue batt from Judith Mackenzie, as well as the pink bump which is one of her luxe blends, and the yellow green bump which is wool/silk 50/50.

And finally, some new one ounce bumps from mirlafiberarts, whose limited series of podcasts I have recently discovered (there are 8 episodes).


I have made it through half of the big batt, and most of the yellow/orange bump. I will get back at it after work today and hopefully, make more of a dent in this pile. More images to come as I progress.

settling in

June 15th, 2015

Yesterday, Elizabeth and I went into the office to move all our shit to a different office. We were fine where we were for the most part, but the new office space is larger and does have other advantages. It  is down the hall and away from all but one editor whose major annoyance will be when he is on speaker phone, which isn’t all that often, so it is much quieter most of the time. It’s also away from the office entrance, so there will be less getting up to sign for packages when the admin is (constantly) away from her desk. I think that is the major advantage. I also like that it is more steps when I have to get a file or see a coworker, but it will be good to get up and move on occasion. Mostly, just being away from the flow of traffic is to my liking. We will still be telecommuting 2 days a week each, so not much is changing other than our location.

The desk that was already in this office is bigger and very heavy making it difficult to move, so we kept my old desk on the old space and I am using this new one. It is a larger surface area, but I had a second desk piece in the old office, making an L-shaped desk which afforded more surface area for my stuff…office mise-en-place if you will…toys, books, stationery, colored pencils (and various other art supplies). Finding where everything goes in the new space is today’s challenge. Also weeding out some stuff that might not have a place. The latter is the true challenge since I had pretty well curated the collection recently to suit the old space.

Also, deciding what art will go back on the wall. I think before I actually hang anything, I will see if there might be something at home to swap out. We already took home the two large pieces yesterday, and I don’t absolutely love all of my smaller pieces so I am taking the time to figure it out. Deciding where to put my fan is the biggest issue at the moment. It gets a lot warmer in this office in the afternoon, so it is a necessity, but I am not sure where the best vantage point for it will be. I had thought just on the corner of my desk, but it takes up too much real estate for that. I have gotten used to it being on the floor and blowing up, so for now, that will suffice.

Garden Fresh

June 12th, 2015

Last weekend, i was on retreat with my lady friends in La Grange, TX. We gather there at a lovely place to explore fibery goodness. Mostly, we spin, but there is some knitting and weaving going on as well. It’s an open forum for us to explore and learn from each other. This was the 4th year and I think the largest group to date, 20 of us.

Each year, I have volunteered to make breakfast on Saturday morning. Lunch and dinners are provided for us, and one of the women brings eggs for us from her chickens. I make scrambled eggs with some cream and brie and a side dollop of pesto which I make with whatever I have on hand, using whatever herbs are bountiful from the garden. This year, I used mostly basil with a good handful of sage and parsley. To that, I added olive oil, parmesan, garlic and pecans. It was a big enough batch that I left half of it home.

With the pesto, I made a pasta salad. I had De Cecco Acini Di Pepe Pasta No 78 on hand. It’s small pearly pasta which I add a lot to soups. Martha had given me pecans from her yard which she toasted. A good handful or three of those were rough chopped and added. I finely inced some onion, and rough chopped some snow peas. There were some small peppers and tomatoes from the garden and I also added some chives.

A couple weeks ago, we picked up a plant at the nursery that said “use as spinach”…I am still trying to get the name of it. It is a little green on its own, but chopped up in a pasta salad? Yes, please.

I have made it twice this week and it is tres yumm. I just had the last of it for lunch with 2 hard boiled eggs chopped into it. We have a bit of an egg surplus at the moment so I hard boiled a dozen plus earlier in the week and peeled them so they are ready and waiting in the fridge…brilliant. I made up a bowl of egg salad using a healthy handful of dill from the garden and it might be time for some more of that, too.

My goal is to migrate toward more fresh ingredient eating this summer using this as a loose guideline to see how an anti-inflammatory plan might help resolve my woes…

fleece washing wednesday

April 8th, 2015

I have been intending to enact fleece washing Wednesdays for quite a while now and today seems just the right Wednesday to begin. My intent is to wash all the fleece I have before acquiring more. In the grand scheme of stashers, I really don’t have very much. I think there are 6 different fleeces, all 4 pounds or less.

I will wash on Wednesdays, be it one batch or many, until it has all been scoured properly. Properly to me means free of lanolin. That can be a tricky judgement. An early fleece I washed was some Gulf Cost Native which was given to me. The shepherd told me it had basically been raised in a dust bowl and truly, it was dusty-dirty filthy and full of vm (vegetable matter from being free in the pasture, or dust bowl in this case, bits of hay, grass, burrs…general debris you don’t want in your spinning). Some sheep are raised for their fleece for handspinners and coated…very little vm…not so in this case. Anyway, I found this breed to be lower in lanolin than some I had felt, and one scour felt very clean to me. When I went to use a batt that I had carded from this fleece just a few weeks later, it had an odd though slight stiffness to it. I learned this was some remaining lanolin and went back to the drawing board.

Today I am scouring some Shetland. Really, it is more likely a Shetland cross, but I have no idea with what. I got it from a new shepherd and the sheep had been given to her as Shetland. I have already scoured half of this fleece and spun up a nice fingering weight two ply. A few weeks ago I was at a spinning retreat with Judith MacKenzie, and the skein went into the dyepot. Judith told me the spinning was lovely, and asked what it was and I told her Shetland. “No…it can’t be…” There wasn’t a reason given, exactly, just disbelief. I told Judith I would send her a few locks, both raw and scoured, for her to inspect further. Hopefully she will have some ideas about it after seeing it raw and unspun.

It’s equally likely that my prep method is at fault in Judith’s disbelief. I didn’t do anything special, but I am on a learning curve and might have been something less than proper about it from the scouring, to the combing, to the spinning. I don’t feel it is a one way sort of effort, though, an I am quite pleased with the resulting fiber and yarn, which is entirely the point.

I know, pictures would help…to come…


February 19th, 2015

I though I would follow up the book-binding post with the finished product. I actually folded 10 signatures for this book, but that would have been ridiculously heavy since I have varying weights of paper included, from some sketch paper (guessing maybe 60 pound?) up to 140# watercolor paper. There is also various colors of card stock and other colored drawing papers. I wanted a good variety to push me to use some of the various pens I have with more variety.

BookMaking002 This is my first coptic binding. It was recommended to use waxed linen thread, which I did, but what I used seemed a bit too heavy so I might try in single next time, not doubled as the tutorial suggested.  I opened the book flat on the scanner bed but the spine was then hidden, so I held it up for a scan and just added it as an inset.

I still want to finish up my previous journal  before I start using this one, but I think it will still not be just for sketching…there will be add-ins, lists, collage bits and random notes as this seems to be a journal style I have settled into these days. A bit catch all, but still less involved than I would like it to be. Maybe a little more forcing of it onto myself is in order to develop consistency.

I also have some office knitting going on. It is the scarf I started while working registration for our annual conference. OnTheNeedles001I am using some untagged handspun that I vaguely remember spinning, but I am not at all sure where it is from or what exact fiber it is, but I am thinking a wool silk blend. The pattern is the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. I have knit this many times before and I like how it responds to self striping yarns. This is mostly a heavy fingering/sport weight that I chain plied to keep the colors together, and I am knitting on a size US6 needle. It’s only 4 ounces of fiber and it was already wound into a cake when I picked it up, so I am not sure about the yardage. the scarf is already about three and a half feet long and I am guessing it will end up nearly 6 feet long and is about 5 inches wide.


it was so. Not. The plan…

February 15th, 2015

Don’t you just hate it when you decide something and then moments later, forget you had decided and inadvertently switch it up?

I have been in the precess of making my first coptic bound book for the past couple of weeks. I found a you-tube tutorial that seemed straight-forward and easy enough to follow. I gathered some papers and have built a pretty hefty book. I am using some white sketch paper, some paper ranging through greys to black, some colored stock in blues and also in autumn colors…a good bit of variety, and not all quite the same size.

I used the back board from the sketch paper to make my covers, and I had decided to leave them as is to let the covers develop as the book is used. This is not the decision that went sideways.

Last week, I had to create a spread in a traveling art journal. If I remember, I will add the image to this post later this week. I hadn’t done any paper crafting in quite some time, and when I dove into the paper stash, I found a lovely assortment in a nice little bundle. I thought a few of them would be nice on my new book’s covers and set them aside.

This morning, I came back around to the book covers and retrieved the papers I had liked. I decided on a cover paper and an inside cover paper. I had previously punched the holes in the cover for stitching and no longer had the template I had made for this. I decided to put the cover paper on, then transfer the holes once the glue dried. Then I could place the inside cover papers on and finish transferring the holes. No sooner than having made that decision, I decided to glue the inside covers on while the glue was out keeping my work tidy and clean-up minimal.

So now, I am watching glue dry so I can proceed with the stitching…yippee…