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…

Evidence

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…

Distraction Free Writing

February 4th, 2015

So wordpress has this new feature. I like the clean interface, but I don’t think that all the stuff has been my problem with posting. I don’t really know what my lack of motivation is from, but I have been writing again, just not blogging.

I bought a new Macbook Pro a couple of weeks ago, and in the bargaining one does with oneself (surely it isn’t just me) I made a declaration (to myself) that I would write a minimum of 10 minutes a day. I have been. I just haven’t felt like anything I have written has been worthy of publication. That in itself isn’t the criteria for putting anything out here, but I just don’t feel like there have been many coherent thoughts of late. Lots of thinking though.

Today I read the most recent post by Lisa over at Curious Girl. She has a bit to say about knowing something in theory vs. in practice. That. Just exactly that. I am stuck in theory these days more than I want to be, and I feel like there are too many shifts toward being in practice going on concurrently. The bike, is a prime example. I still haven’t picked it up, but soon…very soon…

doing. all. the things…

October 2nd, 2014

So the big five oh has come and gone pretty uneventfully, other than it having been a year of doing. all. the things…In January, I tried a new (to me) yoga space and while I was committed to going, it just wasn’t the space for me. The teacher was great. Her method was a bit too athletic for the practice I want to re-establish, so I am once again back to trying to cultivate a home based practice. Just a sun salutation in the morning and maybe a pose or two as needed throughout the day. It’s a start.

There was the annual spinning retreat at Mo Ranch in the TX Hill Country. It is nearly everything a retreat should be. I am going again in 2015, which will be my 3rd year. It is with Judith McKenzie and an invaluable source of inspiration and knowledge. It totally re-centers my energy and I look forward to it immensely.

In May was the Yarnorama retreat. Also rejuvenating on a smaller scale. That was closely followed by a trip to the Estes Park Wool Market and visiting Denver. The elevation was a bit much for it to be as enjoyable as I had hoped, but I scored an awesome fleece (or two).

In July, there was 11 days in NJ and NY with my bestest cousin…secrets abound…and in Sept for my actual birthday, I was in Portland and then Seattle with my one of my besties, and went to Taylored Fibers farm event as part of the Olympic Peninsula fiber farm tour, where I also got to visit (though entirely too briefly) with Judith again and get some luscious fiber which I will be spinning up next week during Spinzilla. Also on the farm tour, I visited Finn River Farm Cidery and shipped home a few bottles of their fine spirits.

Still to come is Patti Digh’s Life is a Verb Camp in November in NC. November was also supposed to take us back to Denver for Thanksgiving, but those plans have changed ad we will have a  quiet holiday at home.

We saw a few concerts this year, too…Sting and Paul Simon (at least I think that was this year), Joan Osborne, and Louden Wainwright III, and still to come, Kim Richey at the Mucky Duck

Sketchbook Skool has been a nice adventure this year with a new semester beginning tomorrow. The first semester Beginnings, and the second semester Seeing are both still available, or, you could start with the new semester, Storytelling. It is a very approachable way to develop a sketchbook habit and well worth the tuition.

The only thing I set out to do as part of the 50th celebration which has yet to happen is to get a bike. That is still planned, and will likely happen this month (now that the weather seems more conducive). I am mostly decided on an Electra Women’s 7D but could still be swayed. This seems a reasonable investment for the casual riding I will be doing in the neighborhood.

 

slowing down

July 1st, 2014

My desk is cleared and I am ready for vacation. I am beyond. Ready.

Life at the office over the last few weeks has been something less than pleasant. Or maybe just a series of curious unpleasantness. It is much the same as it always is, and perhaps my sensitivity to the less-than-pleasantness is solely due to the fact that vacation starts tomorrow. That is all well and good benefit-of-the-doubt thinking, but really I can’t escape soon enough.

A couple of weeks ago we came in one morning to a glade plug-in having been installed in the outer office, the reception area we all have to walk through when we arrive. It’s the office manager’s office and it used to be my office many moons ago, so I can appreciate her wanting it to feel like her office and have it all good-smelly. But it is also a public throughway. The scent was either fresh linen or clean cotton, and while this doesn’t normally bother me, it sort of caught in my throat in a most unpleasant way and triggered a serious allergic-type reaction that sent me coughing. She commented that I should have my bronchitis checked out. I was not sick. The plug-in was not removed. The coughing continued. Eventually I got an email from the boss about not going to the doc and how he just had dinner with someone whose allergist called in an oncologist and that person won’t make it to xmas…I. Am. Not. Sick…I took half of the email day and the following day off purely because I was so pissed off.

We came in following all this one morning, to the entire office having been lysol bombed. My office in particular was heavily sprayed and I was lucky to make it through the day, having to work through a lysol induced migraine. It wasn’t pleasant and I emailed the office mgr asking if she sprayed and explaining (a second time) my scent sensitivities, and how I was working via the migraine and please…please…please…do not spray again in or near my office…her reply was brief and apologetic (barely) saying she was thinking prevention. I. Am. Not. sick!

This morning, I came in to find a box of baking soda spilled near my feet under my desk. It had been poorly taped behind my computer. What the fuck is that about? Oh. And we don’t have a broom and dust pan in the office, nor do we have a vacuum that has a hose attachment. I vacuumed up what I could, but there is a lovely pile of baking soda and the carpet/plastic mat beneath my feet is all baking soda gritty.

Less. Than. Pleasant.

I now get to basically watch the clock until 4 pm when vacation time will officially be here. It seems that everything has slowed down recently, all my online distractions. I think this is just due to summer time offering everyone else other distractions. Unplugging and all that in the name of fresh air and sunshine. A few minor to-do things to keep me from going crazy between now and 4…the countdown’s on…

Summer reading and then some…

June 16th, 2014

Last month, we went to Austin to see Joan Osborne. The show was nothing short of fabulous, and of course, we can’t go to Austin without a visit to Book Woman. It just isn’t going to happen. I don’t usually have any books in mind before going, but I always manage to find a few that pique my interest. This trip was no exception and I picked up the following:

Secrets was an excellent read and a lesson in the courage to own your history. The blatant telling of delicate secrets in this short book kept me reading until it was finished, cover to cover. Definitely worth the time and energy, and totally making me want this woman as a friend.

I am currently reading She Matters and have not yet read enough to have an idea of what I think about it. It is a bit challenging for me to get into, but I am not yet close to giving up. The other three are still to come and I am looking forward to each of them.

Snooze002 loresSketchbook Skool was a wonderful experience. I haven’t been sketching daily since, but I have been sketching. This is my most recent effort from our trip to Denver last week. I highly recommend the course to anyone even remotely interested. The materials are top notch and there are a lot of friends to be made. In fact, I am meeting up with a woman from class tonight for a sketch date at one of our favorite cafes.

Denver was also a most excellent trip. We went to visit with Irene and also to go to the Estes Park Wool Market. I don’t have any pictures yet, but I got a CVM fleece (2 pounds), and a Bond fleece (3 pounds). These are the first fleeces I was able to choose for myself in person and I am anticipating some awesome fibery goodness in the results. While in Denver, we ate breakfast at Snooze two mornings. Irene took us there on our first visit and now it has become a regular must go on each return. I brought home a bag of their Guatemalan coffee. Very delicious.

In knitting news, I am still working on many projects (quelle surprise), but no pics to share. The knitting continues to be rather challenge free out of necessity, but I like it that way, too. I haven’t been spinning all that much since I went on a weekend spinning retreat (great fun but what happens in LaGrange, stays in LaGrange) last month. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I haven’t been spinning on the wheel that much, but i am making efforts to find some level of competency with a Russian spindle, and I am also working on finishing the never ending pin-drafted Surino (alpaca/merino 70/30) I got in Kentucky last year.

Somehow, I feel as if I am forgetting something big in this update, which if the case, I will just have to post again.

Thoughts from some meditative knitting…

April 29th, 2014

In between the work I have to do today, I have been knitting a few stitches here and there on a scarf that I have knit a time or eight before, the Traveling Woman, by Liz Abinante. I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but there is something very soothing about knitting it that turns me toward total relaxation. My brain engages, but it isn’t terribly complex. There is a palpable rhythm to it that is pleasing and brings calm. As I said, I have knit it eight times before.

The one I am currently knitting is from some of my early handspun. I had been spinning a few months when I went to  a week-long retreat with Judith MacKenzie (Judith’s bio from one of her teaching gigs). It was at this retreat that I was first exposed to drum carding as a means of blending fibers to spin more unique yarns. I carded up several small batches from the fibers available to us, and got to spinning. I was pleased to be learning new things and delighted with the yarn I had made.

now that I am knitting with it, more than a year later, let me say, this particular yarn is crap. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine blend of lovely merino and mohair and some silk and who knows what other luxurious fibers. but my spinning is total crap. It could be equally true that my first attempts at carding were crap. Yet I continue to knit with it because I can feel myself learning something. Whether I am learning about the feel of fiber too tightly spun or plied, or the optical blending of color and how that is successful or not for various reasons, or that it is sometimes not possible to count past five, I can’t say. but I am learning something, that much is clear.

Whether I am learning something about my spinning or my knitting, I can’t quite grasp. But it is very likely something about both of these, and how they can and do work together. As I knit, the pattern is totally familiar in a muscle memory sort of fashion. just another layer of soothing going on during the process. The thought that continually comes to the forefront of my brain is that it is time to again read The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice, by Susan Gordon Lydon. It’s a book that will have something new to tell me each time I read it.

SS week 2001 loresAlso going on around these parts, is some sketching. I am taking an online class called Sketchbook Skool. Totally worth the time and dollars. I can’t speak highly enough about it and I feel that there is something there for everyone.  I learned about it because I follow Danny Gregory’s blog  (linked right) and decided to jump in. the next semester begins in July and there is room enough for everyone, so c’mon…let’s do this! This spread was done a few weeks ago at Barnaby’s. The first semester group has well over 1000 people enrolled and there is a range of abilities from beginner to expert. There is a classroom and fb group to post work in and discuss (or not, no pressure), and plenty of people beyond the instructors to learn from. The art that is being made in sketchbooks globally is something pretty amazing to be a part of via this class.

Okay, enough jabbering on. I feel like there is more to say, but I also feel the grasp I have on exactly what is slipping away. More soon…