Thursday, September 25, 2008

The tale of the busy body neighbor

I have a handicapped husband who is Mr Mom to our almost 4 year old and 19month old. He's amazing with the kids, and while he'll never be the kind to be able to do yard work or go running with the dog, he's a phenomenal daddy, and happy with his job being the care and nurture of our kidlets.

Me? I come from a long line of type A women who were the primary provider. It's my paradigm, my reality from childhood on - Most of the women in my family fit this archetype and we're good with it.

This seems to completely blow the mind of our neighbor woman. So I don't have a perfectly manicured lawn and my porch needs a coat of paint. I'm OK with that as long as I have my awesome hubby and kiddos. Oh and a spinning wheel or two of course.

I've been getting ready for a yard sale at my Mother In Law's, and have been putting things out on my porch so I can load them up in the van and take them over for the neighborhood wide sale on the 5th of October.

Today however most everything on the porch was freecycled.

A letter came from the town today, complaining about the mess on the porch. Eh? Last year this time she called Animal Control on us to say I was starving my dog. I wasn't... that didn't change her from making the report however. The ACO said our Brittany was a great example of her breed, and looked very healthy - all things her Vet had backed up as well. He verified that it was her who had complained, so I think it's got to be her again complaining about the clutter on my porch.

Seriously however - how does a tent, bookshelves, a sealed 4 pack of Tiki Torches, a windowbox planter, an Excersaucer, a Walker and a play kitchen translate into garbage? I don't get it and I'm not going to worry about it. The Tent and Tiki's are already gone, the Saucer and Walker will go tomorrow or be taken to my MIL's and the shelves and play kitchen will go to my MIL's as well or be carted to the dump. Even in the rain that we're supposed to be getting.

The neighbor woman is elderly. She's lonely. She really freaks out over Mr. Mom who doesn't do yard work and opts to be primary caregiver of our two kids while I work.

She has issues, I get it. But seriously - when I hang roving from the porch on hangers it is not trash, it is processed wool that I've dyed that I am going to spin.

The upside is of course I will have my porch ready to decorate for Halloween a little earlier this year than I did last year. As the skull with dancing flowers finally gave up the ghost, I'll need to find something else to sit in the cauldron and frighten the unsuspecting with.

If I weren't the nice kind I'd likely prank the old bat up the hill, but instead I'll hang back and simply accept that she has already done everything to herself that she can to be this way and I'll hope that somehow she learns to love herself and not be so cranky to the neighbors.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Beware of small children prepping for their own chop shop

Last night I finished off the first run of some handspun Merino, I'll have a lot more handspun in my Etsy store soon btw, as well as cleared off several bobbins into center pull balls so I can ply, measure, steam, re-skein, and set aside to determine if I stock the etsy store or put them aside for the craft fair season ahead. I have some lovely Cormo (OBSCENELY SOFT and LOFTY WOOL) and Angora (Bunny) blend that I'm half through spinning. It's snowy white, and I think I'm going to leave it that way. This stuff is going to make someone an awesome scarf I think. Just not sure if that someone will be me or not. Seriously, it's blindingly white and so soft my daughter has been caught snuggling the bobbin.

She's been told Santa thinks that the spinning wheel she wants is too much / too big for a 4 year old, but that if she tries out a Babes Pinkie at Rhinebeck, does well enough with it, and really wants it - we can tell Santa that we can contract that out so his elves don't have to worry about spinning wheel manufacture... really she thinks that elves need to make wood and cloth toys only and everything else he has major toy companies to make. Elves are in Management at Matell and Fisher Price ya know, but they don't like working with plastic because its not "creative"

Out of the mouths of babes - I swear, I don't remember being this precocious. I know I used big words and got beaten up in kindergarden for it, but I don't remember being that sharp a kiddo.

For those of you familiar with what Scotch tensioning, I just want to say we're on spring set number 9 for my kiwi, and I've finally gone to a tensioning similar to what Schacht uses with the option of being able to remove the Tensioning band completely when the wheel is not in use.

Garret has completely gone bonkers and removing the drive band, the flyer assembly, bobbins, onboard kate spindles and anything else removable from my Kiwi is NOT enough. No - I had to make it so the Scotch Tensioning was removable as well.

I have a box of springs I bought from the hardware store as the springs have been victim to his little creative exploration / destruction as well, and it's enough to have me want to hang Beaky from the wall out of the way when not using her - even though on the whole I already store the wheel far up out of reach. I'm not sure how far is far enough for my kids these days though. And they do love to treadle the wheel when I'm not using it to spin. Last night as I was finishing off some yarn, Tessa wanted to treadle and help spin. It really didn't take much to make sure she was going the right way for the current twist I was putting in the yarn, and she had fun.

I am sanding down the Kiwi this weekend and going to give it another coating of Danish oil afterwards. Someone took an inkpen to the treadles, and now knows if she ever does that again Santa won't bring her a spinning wheel of her own until she's a teen-ager.

My PVC Swift - which is freestanding on a 3 foot PVC pole is often used for a 'microphone' stand by both kids. I chuckle as well that's annoying, it's not the end of the earth, and it shows imagination. I'm just still at a loss for what the ScotchTensioning knob is in thier imagination.

It's going to be oddly quiet tonight. Tessa is staying overnight at my inlaws, and on those nights (unless he's napped late in the afternoon) I can get Garret to bed early. If so then my plan is to card up some fiber I dyed last week, dye some more for a custom order, and get some more spinning done. Tess slept next to me last night and snuggled tight... knowing she's going to be at the inlaws for the next 36 hours I just cuddled her for all I could. As much as my kids drive me off the edge sometimes - they are the best thing that ever happened to me and I thank the PTB's for their very existance. Even if they do manage to strip my wheel bare quicker than a chop shop can a stolen Beemer in LA.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Busy day, Busy night

The day flew at Initech and before I knew it, I was back home.

I knew when I came home tonight that I needed to strip my bed as my daughter had spilled her juice and then had an accident while sitting upstairs working on homeschooling programs on the computer (laptop on the bed) so when I came home from work I washed the bedding, fed the family, then finally got into some of the roving that came in on Monday.

I now have half a pound of buttercup yellow that I'm going to run through the carder once it's dry to make sure it's blended into a lovely consistent enough shade of yellow - the first of a custom order... I refreshed the jug of dye solution before going upstairs and will finish dying the pound to be all buttercup yellow before I start on the greens and red that are all in the order. I might start soaking the remaining wool in that pound if I can get the Diva to go to bed. She's good at fighting going to sleep. That is if I am not so tired I just want to sleep m'self...

So I have half a pound of fiber draining in a colander in my sink right now. If Tess will go to sleep for me I'll get that laid out to dry as tomorrow is supposed to be a perfect day for it, and then I'll start on more of the roving for the custom order. If I don't do it tonight, it will be the last thing I do before I leave for work in the morning. My Mailman is vastly entertained by all the dyed roving on my porch I tell you.

I'm going to blow through this huge box of roving in no time flat I think. Working with the Professional Acid Dyes vs the Food Coloring Acid dyes has been a definate experience. I've not gotten into the Jaquard dies - I'm still working with the Cushing's, but I really like how well they dissolve and how little I have to do to get them ready to work with.

I got some of the Merino I worked on over the weekend rolled up and set aside for future spinning and my upcoming fiber swaps. I'm trying to get as much ready for the upcoming craft faire season as possible, I'm trying to go as much with my own spun vs what I did last year of a combo of hand and machine spun and all dyed by me...

A hilight of the evening was Tess' reaction when I got out the other wheel for her (PC, My Hitchhiker) and I told her she could spin. We picked out some red pencil roving, and she tried. Oh how she tried. She has gotten to the point where she's good with a double treadle, and a single treadle isn't going to do it for her. Tomorrow we'll swap over as I want to try to finish a couple of small bobbins I have waiting anyhow, and then we'll see how she does. The biggest problem I have when spinning is keeping little hands out of the way - as Garret wants in on it too.

Gaelon says he can see the day when the house is overtaken by spinning wheels. This makes our daughter smile, a lot. Her mother too...

My best friend's wedding reception is this weekend. I'm taking Friday off as a PTO from Initech and plan on spending it dying roving, spinning, and getting ready to go to Salem overnight on Saturday. My hubby has only been up there once, so we'll be doing a lot of the touristy things - including going up towards the Salem Willows on Sunday, as well as seeing if we can get into Winter Island as well - considering camping there next season when Garret's a little less likely to just toodle off into the ocean on his own (like his sister - I swear they are utterly fearless.)

ok - the Diva has been out cold for a while, and I am getting tired so the fiber gets to go outside tomorrow morning and I'm going to sleep tonight.

Sweet dreams to all who are reading this late at night.

Into the Dyepot!

From Tessa's first Day at Dance School

Monday my daughter had her first day of Dance School.

Talk about mommy shock. She was more than happy to have me leave her while she learned, pranced, tippety tapped, and tumbled...

The day also included discovering that at 3750 miles I do not have to get my car serviced (wait to 5K now,) so I ran laundry and of course before we left for her first day with Miss Tammy, I pulled the following shades out of the dye pot:

Wood Rose 8oz
Green/Purple 8oz
Moss Green
Sunrise Yellow
Varigated Butterscotch 4 oz
Cherry Red 4 oz
Bubblegum Sherbert Mohair Locks - 2oz

I also explained to my mail man what the heck all that stuff was hanging off the porch. He had no clue what roving was, and spinning was a foreign concept to him. He wondered why I was getting "Art Supplies - Wool" shipped internationally. Ha. :-) See you're never too old to learn!

On the wheel right now I have some white Corriedale, on the bobbin I have some Cormo/Angora, Baby Bluez, and candycorn. The last two are Merino and Merino blend.

Tonight I need to take new pics of everything in stock plus the new things I want to stock tomorrow at my Etsy store. I have an Advertising slot for Thurs... and I need the store brought up to snuff.

Tomorrow night I will set out to mordant the following shades - no nifty title to the roving yet:
Dark Green
Light Green

These are for a custom order for a baby blanket. Hopefully she likes the shades I generate out of my dye pot - its going to be one of a kind however, and for that baby I can't think of anything better ;-)

I also have to get my fiber swap out to SweatPeaFibers over on Ravelry. I think I have enough lovely stuff dyed up to surprise the heck out of her. (pleasantly so I hope, I hope.) I've still not heard from my August swap partner, and hope that the fiber made it to Singapore fine. She's not updated on Ravelry or her blog lately, so it's hard to tell.

And on top of that I have two small ones who have discovered that with their tiny little table and chair set they can use the chairs and treadle Beaky while I'm at work. They both want to learn to spin so much and still Tessa is asking for her own wheel for her birthday. I think Rhinebeck this year may have us on a search for a DT Pinkie. Anyone out there know of a vendor who'll have one to demo?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Meet Violet

This is Violet. She comes from my birth state - Michigan.

Violet is a BFL/Romney cross who happens to have characteristics fleece wise mostly of her BFL heritage. has some details about the breed -
Wool: The Bluefaced Liecester is classified as a Longwool breed with a staple length of 3- 6”, a fleece weight of 3 to 6 lbs., and a fiber diameter of 56s – 60s count, or 24-28 microns, creating high quality luster yarns with beautiful drape.

Size: The adult Bluefaced Leicester has one of the largest body weights of the British breeds, some rams having been weighed at over 3 cwt. In spite of this size, when mated to the smaller hill type ewe, the ewe is able to carry and lamb its crossbred progeny without the slightest difficulty. A ram at maturity should weigh 250-300 lbs. They have an excellent disposition and are quite manageable despite their size. Ewes will typically weigh 170-220 lbs. at maturity.

Violet's latest shearing produced 8# of the softest fleece, and that is going to the processors sometime next week or so.

I will have her fleece back in Roving form for spinning about the time we elect our new president, and will have skeins of her yarn on sale just in time for the holidays.

I can and will take orders for custom colors in advance - please let me know what you are interested in.

BFL and Romney are both increadibly soft, but do not felt as easily as Merino. This means that you will not see as much pilling from this as a traditional Merino based yarn. The natural luster from this yarn is amazing though, and it is a big hit through many of the cloth diapering communities for diaper covers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She's not given up her request for a wheel

Although she has asked repeatedly for a Schacht Ladybug (spinning wheel for those who don't know) for her upcoming birthday, both my husband and I can not fathom giving our daughter a spinning wheel that is so expensive for her 4th birthday. She's hard on toys and clothes, and while she's mostly respectful of my spinning/fiber tools - I found my Drum Carder on the floor upside down yesterday, uncovered and bearing weight on the bristles. The drum carder was ok, but I still cringe over how we found it.

No way is she getting a $550 spinning wheel.

She has not given up the ghost however. So with that in mind, and between studying the Babes PVC wheels and my Ashford Kiwi, we think we might be able to make something for our daughter that by all rights IS a spinning wheel, but costs much less and has most parts we can fabricate on our own. Right now we're trying to sort out the basics of it, and figure out how to actually get the some of the mechanics worked out... but barring that, and with a little red spray paint, for our daughter's 4th birthday we will have a wheel for her.


For those who've emailed me about Blue Faced Leicester, I contacted a shepard in Michigan who happens to have this lovely ewe recently sheared... If she'll ship to the processor for me then I'll have some BFL in stock in around 2 months vs the insanely long amounts of time it takes normally to get my fleeces back. I'm not sure on the cost per skein right now as this fleece is a little more than the normal cost I pay locally for the Romney, Tunis, Cheviot, and Southdown fleeces I get.

On the Dye front, as it's that time of year I'm keeping a pair of rubber coated gloves and a pair of scissors in my car with me at all times... if I see a plant growing wild in an area where I can harvest that I know will be perfect for dying with, I'm grabbing it, and hanging to dry so I can work with it later. I also happened to get in about 5# of Jaquard acid dyes via mail yesterday. I completely forgot I'd bought them when I saw the box on my porch. Needless to say I'm a very happy camper right now.

While I don't forsee getting to dye much before mid month (have a wedding reception in Mass next weekend and a bathtub to replace at home before then) I do think that before October I'll get a lot of the roving I do have in stock spun, dyed and listed in Etsy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Where do allergies go
When it's after a show
And they want to get something to eat?
Something's living on my skin
Doctor please
Doctor please
Open up it's me again.

-Paul Simon, Allergies.
ACHOO seems to be my favorite expression lately.

I got a small amount of dying done this weekend - some mohair locks. Not really something I'm looking to do much with, as it's a royal pain to work with. I have roving coming in late this week or early next, which is so needed to fill some orders.

Today the nice mailman brought me 5# of Jaquard dyes, to compliment the Cushings dyes that I picked up last week. I still have a few colors I'd like to pick up and when I go to Webs this weekend to pick up my replacement swift. Alternately on the swift, I may look into making something from PVC - the plans are out there and if the kids break it this time life is not over... I still need to pick up some other acid dye colors though.

I've also been harvesting dyestuffs from mother nature. While the roving I have coming in next is superwash (meaning that whatever is made from it can be tossed in the washer without fear, good for socks, baby garments and blankets, but not for diaper soakers or longies...) I am looking forward to picking up my Tunis and Southdown in October - both very nice for things that you don't want in superwash... so that stuff will get the natural dyes.

A particular breed of sheep's fleece I'd been looking for has come up for sale, and as I've got requests for yarn from it, I am going to see if I can slip that in to the same slot over at Twist of Fate for my January pick up... would be nice if I could get into the Oct slot I have but odds of that happening are slim to none...

I had hoped to go back to the NYRF this weekend. It looks like Hannah will be on her way north though, so Faire may be out of the plan for the weekend... I'm still iffy. We have a lot to do on the house as we get a new bathtub the next weekend. The bathroom needs to be reasonably perfect as we'll not be home when the landlord comes in to replace the tub. We have much more to do house wise as well to be honest... I'm taking the 8th and the 12th off from work and will be doing dump and salvation army runs with the van on those days. I'm trying to get everything together and thinned out and as a result it seems that cleaning a cluttered house is making more of a mess.

Nothing like a self imposed deadline eh?

Anyhow - Tess wants some computer time before bed time and I have some fleece to card up, so I'm going to close off this post.

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